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Category: Lifestyle

Valentine’s Day dates on a budget

Looking to show your sweetie some love without breaking the bank? SAME GIRL, SAME.

With V-Day right around the corner, I’ve got a list of fun Valentine’s Day dates on a budget. I’ve already scrolled through Pinterest, texted the girls and did the dirty work for you. YA WELCOME.

Fitness, Health & Wellness Goals for February 2017

Hi there! I like to start the beginning of each month by setting fitness, health and wellness goals. These goals keep me on track for the upcoming month! What are your goals for this month? Share them with me via email or in the comments below and I’ll help you stick to them!

It’s hard to believe January has already come and gone! I’m not complaining though… With January behind us, we are one month closer to warm weather! (Sorry Winter, but I’m ready to leave you in the dust!)

January Goals Review

My first goal from January was to drink a gallon of water per day. While I didn’t drink a full gallon every single day, having the goal of drinking a full gallon pushed me to drink more water than I normally would. This helped keep me fuller longer between meals and helped clear up my skin!

My second goal was to workout 6 days per week. For the most part, I did pretty well with this! I started Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide workouts and have been sticking to them since the beginning of January.

My third goal was to eat 5-6 small meals per day, consisting of primarily fruits, veggies and protein. I had let my clean eating habits slide during the holidays, so it took awhile to get back on track. I’m back to 5-6 small meals per day and feeling great!

My next goal was to dedicate at least 2 hours per week to self-care activities. This goal is still something that I need to work on… 

My last goal was to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Going to bed earlier has become much easier with Branden now working first shift! I have been going to bed earlier, getting more sleep and feeling more energized! 

 

My goals for February

1.Stick to clean eating! Allow one cheat meal per week.

I feel so much better when I eat well and take care of my body. But, I’m human and I like to eat chocolate and pizza. After restricting a lot of food in my past, I’m working to find a more balanced approach. I want to stick to clean eating and allow myself one cheat meal per week. Every night I will also allow myself to have a small dessert- such as a square of dark chocolate.

2.  10,000 steps per day + daily workouts and rest day on Sunday.
During the day, my job requires me to sit at a desk. Keeping track of my activity and working to hit 10,000 steps is a challenge when working behind the desk! I am going to continue my BBG workouts
daily and keep Sunday as a rest day.


3. Read a new book.

I love, love, love to read! But I don’t make much time for it. This month I am going to read a new book and make time for reading.

4. Limit technology distraction.

Technology is my biggest distraction. I check my phone when I’m bored, when a commercial comes on, or just to keep my hands busy. I’m going to work on being more intentional about when I use my phone and how I spend time with the people in my life.

What are your goals for the upcoming month? Share them with me below!

Spending freeze update | month one

As of today, we are officially one month into our spending freeze! This month has been challenging to say the very least. But as with any challenges, we learned some valuable lessons.

The first thing that we learned is that we ate out A LOT. It took a lot of willpower for us to not order pizza, or swing by Subway for lunch. We were so used to stopping for food if we were hungry, or grabbing a snack at the gas station if we needed one.

To avoid eating out, we carefully meal prepped our meals for every single meal and snack. To fill our love for pizza, we found that we could buy a take-and-bake pizza from Aldi as long as it fit in our grocery budget. This allowed us to get our pizza fix without going over budget or breaking our spending freeze rules!

Changing our mindset to avoid going out to eat and learning to eat up what we have is NOT easy. It seems that no matter what happens, we want to treat, reward, celebrate or comfort ourselves with food. Breaking that cycle is almost impossible. But we are working on it!

The second thing that we learned is that sometimes it’s okay to break the rules. During our first month of the spending freeze, we “cheated” three times. I’ll be fully transparent- we were not perfect this first month. But in my opinion, eating out three times is not a bad way to start. We can only improve from here. In one situation, one of Branden’s friends came into town. We hadn’t seen him in over a year! We certainly were not going to make him eat our leftovers! Both of the other situations were similar. Other than that, we did not buy anything extra! No clothes, no shoes, not even any cute finds from Target.

The third thing that we learned is that this spending freeze is going to be worth it! Putting our extra money aside has already allowed Branden to pay off one of his smaller student loans and pay off HALF of his credit card debt. And we’re only one month in! We can’t wait to keep chipping away at our debt.

The fourth thing that we learned is that I truly CAN survive without coffee. This month I went to Starbucks a grand total of ONCE. And the only reason I went then was because Branden had a gift card. I’m still alive and kicking over here, even without coffee!

Want to learn more about our spending freeze and why we are doing it? Check out this post. Have you ever done a spending freeze? Or found a way to pay off your debt? We would love to hear your experiences!

Don’t let a few bad eggs upset your grocery cart

Growing up, I loved going grocery shopping. Not only was it fun to go grocery shopping, grocery stores are a great place to learn life lessons.

One of the biggest reasons I loved going shopping with my mother was I loved pushing around my own mini shopping cart behind her at Verona’s Miller and Sons Supermarket.

When I say behind, I mean literally ramming the cart into her heels so I could stay directly behind her, as she asked. What could be better than listening to Mom and getting to push my own cart around at the same time?

It was all fun until a kind lady told me one day that I was a bit too close to my Mom and that I was probably hurting her.

That was a good lesson for me. On the surface, it was that I shouldn’t walk too closely to my Mom or any other shopper because I might run into their heels and hurt them. But on a much deeper level, I learned to respect my Mom and those around me.  

Respect is important inside and outside of the grocery store. But if you think about it, our lives are like a giant grocery store. There will always be the people flying through the store, knocking down displays and dodging young children. There will always be the people who walk very slowly and take a look at every item that they pass.  

To learn the life lesson of respect, you have to learn to accept and deal with the slow and fast walkers alike. You have to have the patience to find the right foods you need in your store. These “right foods” in the store of your life are the right people and things that you need in your life.

While you shop through life, it’s vital to find your right foods so you can live the life that you want to live.

When you’re picking out your foods, it’s likely you’ll need a grocery cart. Sometimes you choose a grocery cart that looks great but after you start walking, the wheels swerve and the handle bar becomes sticky. You’ve got to know when to put that cart back and choose another.  

This can be a really tough decision to make, especially when you have a bunch of groceries in your cart.

This grocery cart in your life could be the used car you picked up a couple months ago. It could be a friendship that isn’t working out in your life. It could be a romantic relationship that you need to end. These groceries could be your memories, lessons, and what seems like your whole life.

So many things start off great in your life, like when you choose a shopping cart. And then, for some reason or another, they don’t quite work out. You can’t be afraid to put that grocery cart back when it doesn’t work out.

Another life lesson I learned on the tile floor in the dairy section while shopping is how to pick out eggs.

One day, my Mom and I were running errands, and she sent me to grab eggs. I dashed to the dairy section, opened the door of the cooler and grabbed a carton.

As I started to walk away, I was stopped by a considerate man who asked me if I had checked my eggs. Confused, I told him no.

He then explained that it’s good to check because sometimes cartons have broken or yucky eggs. And if we’re paying for it, we should check so we can take home a full carton of eggs. At that moment I felt as if I had gained an entirely new collection of knowledge.  

Sometimes the first carton you pick up has perfect eggs. Other times, there are cracked eggs. And usually you’ll see a couple eggs with imperfections.

You see, we also live in the egg carton of life. When we look into our lives, or the lives of someone we know, you may see many things. You might see the perfect carton of eggs.  These eggs could represent the perfect family, the perfect life or the perfect job.

But not all cartons are like that. Most have eggs with imperfections. These imperfections could be a bad grade, car trouble, a divorce or any other imperfection you may deal with in your life on a regular basis.

In the grocery store, you’re going to come across some cracked eggs. And they are no reason to get upset. Move beyond that cracked egg and fill your cart with other groceries.  

And in life, you’re going to run into people and situations that just don’t fit. And those cracked eggs are no reason to lose hope or lose yourself.

Take them out, and fill your life with other things that matter to you.  

50 free date ideas

Just because we’re on a budget doesn’t mean we can’t have fun! It’s important to make time to  have date nights with your significant other so that you take time to focus on your relationship and the two of you. Here’s a solid list of date ideas that will help you stick to your budget!

  1. Go to a local farmer’s market. Eat free samples, people watch and enjoy an easy stroll.
  2. Sign up for a free class! Many are offered at local libraries.
  3. Snuggle up and have a movie marathon at home.
  4. Go on a bike ride.
  5. Enjoy nature by watching the sun set, star gazing, etc.
  6. Go on a picnic! Pack food that you already have, grab a blanket and head out!
  7. Go sledding.
  8. Build a blanket fort and spend the whole night in it.
  9. Take a free DIY class at a local home improvement store.
  10. Go to a free museum.
  11. Have a game night. Here are some games that work well for just two people!
  12. Make a playlist of your favorite songs and dance!
  13. Make a bucket list.
  14. Dress up and visit open houses in your neighborhood.
  15. Cook dinner together.
  16. Take turns giving massages.
  17. Go to free music/movies in the park.
  18. Go on a hike.
  19. Host a potluck with your friends.
  20. Go ice skating.
  21. Go to a free zoo.
  22. Volunteer together.
  23. Host a cheese and wine party. Have your friends bring wine/cheese to contribute.
  24. Drive around your neighborhood and look at all the Christmas lights/displays during the holiday season.
  25. Start a workout routine together.
  26. Have a spa night together. (Even boys need to moisturize!)
  27. Make brunch at home.
  28. Read a book together.
  29. Visit your local library and select movies to watch together.
  30. Learn something new! Use Pinterest or Youtube.
  31. Put together a puzzle.
  32. Make a homemade pizza together.
  33. Plan an upcoming trip!
  34. Play dirty truth or dare.
  35.  Go for a scenic drive.
  36. Make cookies or your favorite sweet treat.
  37. Record the story of how you met.
  38. Find a free concert. There’s usually lots to pick from in the summer!
  39. Build a slip-n-slide in your backyard.
  40. Go on a free brewery tour.
  41. Go on a scenic landmark tour. Pretend you are only in your city for a day and hit up the most popular landmarks that are free!
  42. Host your own drive-in movie. Grab your laptop, blankets and pillows and set up outside!
  43. Go window shopping.
  44. At-home paint night. Pour a glass of wine, find a picture you want to replicate and have fun!
  45. Dinner in. Dress up, light some candles and enjoy a special home cooked dinner.
  46. Have a Netflix marathon.
  47. Stripping games- battleship, chess, poker, checkers, pool- raise the stakes and get naked.
  48. Go for a walk together.
  49. Have a fire and make smores.
  50. Go to a park and play basketball, frisbee or catch.

Do you have any additional free date ideas? What are your favorite types of dates to go on with your significant other?

9 ways to sleep better tonight

Sleep is something that often gets overlooked. But catching those zzzz’s are so important for your overall health and any fitness goals that you may have. There’s no magic pill or secret formula for your dream bod, but if you’re doing the right things and not seeing results, you might need to check out your sleep habits! Check out my favorite ways to get a good night of sleep!

 

 

Spending Freeze 2017

Have you ever had your debit card or credit card declined? Have you ever had to obsessively check your bank account to see if you have enough money to buy groceries? Do you count down the days until you get paid? Have you ever had that knot in your stomach wondering how the heck you were going to get your bills paid?

I have. I don’t say this for sympathy, I say this because maybe some of you can relate. Our society is centered around consumerism and the need for the newest, latest gadget. And frankly, I’m sick of living that way. I’m sick of living paycheck to paycheck.

So we decided to do something a little crazy. My boyfriend and I are doing a spending freeze for the year of 2017. This means we only spend money on necessities. Our goal is to see how much debt we can eliminate and how much money we can put into savings.

This also gives us a whole year to put people and relationships with others ahead of THINGS. And that’s really what matters. 60 years from now I’m not going to remember that cute top I bought or the venti iced coffee I just HAD to have. I’m going to remember the people, the relationships and the memories.

With that in mind, here are the lists of things we have to spend money on (our needs) and the things we will choose not to spend money on (wants). We know that things will come up and that we haven’t covered everything, but this is a good start for us!

What we have to spend money on (necessities):

-Rent

-Car payments

-Car insurance

-Renter’s insurance

-Student loan payments

-Credit card payments

-Utilities

-Cell phone bills

-Food (store-bought, off-brands and only when we eat everything in our cupboards)

-Doctor copays (if needed)

-Medicine

-Gas

-Workout supplements as needed

 

What we will not spend money on (wants):

-Gifts (sorry friends and family- this year will be a year of thoughtful homemade gifts)

-Shoes

-Home decor

-Make-up

-Clothes

-Coffee at coffee shops

-Gas station convenience stores

-Books

-Eating out

 

Have you ever done a spending freeze? Do you have any tips or suggestions for us? We will keep you updated on our journey!

Mistletoe Memories

Every Christmas, we would get up early and rush to the barn to get chores done. I usually did chores in the morning before school, but Christmas morning involved all of us. Everyone bundled up, rolled out of bed and pitched in.

The barn felt different on Christmas. It was a feeling of content as the rest of the world slept. It was a feeling of accomplishment as we finished chores earlier than normal. It was a feeling of family as we all worked side-by-side.

Once we finished chores, we would head back home, shower and snuggle up under the Christmas tree while my Mom made breakfast. Those are my favorite memories.

I don’t remember the presents I got or how many presents I opened. I remember the layers of clothes we wore to stay warm. I remember making hot cocoa as a special treat during chores. I remember the excitement of Christmas as my sisters and I did chores together. I remember the thrill of getting chores finished early. I remember walking into the warm kitchen after being in the cold elements. I remember my family, the bright Christmas tree and that magic feeling of Christmas.

As we head into the holiday weekend, keep your favorite Christmas memories close to your heart. It’s easy to get stressed out and bogged down during the holiday season. Years from now, your kiddos won’t remember you forgot the perfect present or that you couldn’t afford many presents under the tree. They will remember the other details. The family, the love and the magic of Christmas.

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Ting Review + $25 Free Ting Credit

Every month I dreaded the US Cellular bill that would arrive in my inbox. It seemed outrageous that I was paying over $80 for a single cell phone plan. My boyfriend was in the same boat. We talked about putting both of our phones on the same plan to save money, but after looking into it, we realized we wouldn’t be saving any money. Sigh.

We were stumped, broke and desperate for a lower cell phone bill. So we started to do some research. That’s when we stumbled across Ting.

Ting is a cell phone company with monthly plans that average $20-$30 per month. Ting has an agreement with Verizon and Sprint. That means that anywhere Verizon or Sprint have calling, texting and data coverage, Ting has coverage!

Why the heck is it so cheap?! Ting only makes you pay for what you use! For example if you use 100MB of data in a month, you only pay for 100MB of data which comes out to just $3 per month! Most other cell phone companies like US Cellular and Verizon require you to have a 1GB data plan, which is usually around $35 per month for data alone. ALSO- because Ting only charges you for what you use, there are no overage fees! 

If you’re looking for the $25 free credit, here it is. I would, however, encourage you to keep reading about my experience with Ting!

Honestly, it sounded way too good to be true. A cell phone bill that would be HALF the price I was currently paying AND no contract to sign?! SIGN ME UP!

But we did a lot of research before we switched over. We wanted a reliable phone company and we  were skeptical about moving to a company we had never heard of. We wanted to get good service, get a good internet connection and have a company we could rely on.

Disclaimer: I am someone who absolutely depends on my cell phone. I have zero sense of direction (though, I don’t care to admit that very often) and rely on Google Maps to get me places. So it was out of the question to switch to an unreliable company.

We’ve heard of the horror stories of other smaller cell phone companies so we were definitely skeptical. But we decided to take the plunge. We were both at the end of our contracts with our current phones, so we simply ordered a Ting SIM card for $9, punched in our info online and BAM we were set up with a new phone company in a matter of minutes. And we were able to keep our old phone numbers!

However, if you are not at the end of your contract, Ting can help! If your current cell phone company wants to pay you to leave, Ting will give you 25% of whatever they want to charge you to cancel, up to $75 per device in Ting credit for switching! Plus in most cases you can bring your current phone with you to your Ting plan, so you aren’t forced to switch phones right away!

We have had great coverage- even out in the middle of nowhere at my parent’s house. And our bills are HALF of what we were paying. 

My October bill was $33.73 and November bill was $33.81.

With something that sounds THIS good- there must be a catch, right? Not really! The ONLY downside of Ting is that the company requires you to pay for the whole retail price of the phone.

Dan Arrington, a fellow Ting user, explains this well. In his words, “You might ask, “why do I have to pay $300 for a Galaxy from Ting, when I can get one for just $100 from Verizon?” Well the fact is that when you buy a $100 Galaxy from Verizon, you’re locked into an expensive monthly plan for two years.”

He continues by sharing, “say for example, you’re a family of four. If you each use an average number of minutes, texts and data per month (300 minutes, 700 texts and 400 MB), with Verizon you’d have to pay $220 per month. However with Ting, your total monthly price comes out to be just $112 per month.

This means over the course of a 2-year contract you’d save $2592 by switching to Ting. Even after subtracting the $800 difference for FOUR Galaxy phones, you’d still save $1,792 over the course of 2 years.”

Conclusion

My boyfriend and I have been with Ting for 6 months now. The coverage is awesome and our bills are half of what they used to be. If you have a cell phone bill over $50 per month, I would recommend you considering Ting! There’s no reason to pay so much money for an expensive cell phone plan when you can get the SAME THING at half the price.

Thank you for taking the time to read my review! Here is a $25 credit for you to use when you sign up for Ting using this link.

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