Show Me the Money


<a href="http://Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Photo by Matthew Henry

This month, as part of my quest to becoming more disciplined, I am working on financial discipline. Overall, I feel like our finances are in pretty good shape. We are able to live within our income and still put money aside into savings and retirement accounts each month. That being said, this year we have set some pretty high financial goals for ourselves.  

Last year we were able to pay off both our car loans and medical bills, plus put a months worth of expenses into an emergency fund. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when we set all of those goals but with hard work and a little bit of sacrifice we were able to accomplish it all, as well as enjoy a vacation in Hawaii. This year, we are aiming even higher. We want to start building our emergency savings further so that we have a full six months worth of living expenses saved, as well as start saving for a down payment on a home (we are currently renting). Once again I feel the doubt sinking in. Can we really do all of this plus actually have a little bit of enjoyment? Travel and having experiences as a couple and as a family are really important to each of us and we don’t want to sacrifice those at the expense of accumulating money. We want balance.

That brings me back to the doubts. Can we really reach the financial goals we have set for ourselves plus experience some enjoyment along the way? My head tells me “NO WAY!”…experience though tells me “YES!”. However, that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Meeting financial goals means constantly asking yourself, “Where am I putting my money? Are their ways I can redirect my money, or change my spending habits so that I can put more towards my financial goals?“. One thing that has helped me over the years is to track my money so that I know where it is going.  

Have you ever found yourself looking at how much money you have brought in during a month or year and asking “Where in the world did that money go?”. I know I have, and it is depressing! When I start asking this question I know it is time to sit down and find out where the money is going. Technology today gives us many ways we can do this.  There are budget trackers like or that allow you to link your bank accounts up to a budget so that you can digitally see where your money is being spent. Some banks have online features that will do this for you as well. If you are more old school you can save and categorize all of your receipts over the course of a month or year (I did this for the first time when I was 16 and boy was it eye opening). You can also use a spreadsheet to enter in all of your expenses. It takes some dedication to do this but the results are well worth it. Every time I do this I gain a better understanding of my spending habits, as well as my financial strengths and weaknesses. Once I sit down and go through everything, I am also better prepared to make the changes needed to reach my financial goals.

This past weekend Brad and I sat down together to go over our finances (we try to sit down and do this together at least once a month), and as part of that we looked over where are money went this last month. Even with how good we generally are, doing so helped us learn some lessons which will help us fine tune what we need to be doing to be successful.  Here are just two of them:

Lesson 1: We should be setting aside money each month to replace old electronics. Brad’s phone stopped working near the end of December (even though it seemed like it was in good condition) and we ended up having to get him a new one. Although we had the money for it, we had to dip into some of our savings allocated to other categories in order to pay cash for it. What might be next, our television? Computer? We want to be better prepared next time.

Lesson 2: We do not make good financial decisions when we are hungry and food cannot be VERY quickly prepared. In other words, if we do not plan ahead about where we will be when we get hungry and how we will satisfy said hunger without eating out we will choose to eat out over waiting to go home and prepare something. This means that if we go out and about more we tend to spend more on eating out. Preparation and thinking ahead is also necessary here for us to stay on target.

Needless to say, by sitting down and following our money trail we were able to talk about how we could be more prepared so that these situations won’t derail our financial success in the future. Knowing where your money is going can do the same. If you haven’t ever followed your spending for a period of time, or if it has been a while, do it! I promise you won’t regret it. I know that by doing it you will be one step closer to success in reaching your own financial goals.


Green Pick-Me-Up

Today was one of those days I could have really used this smoothie. You know that feeling you get when you are on the edge of getting a cold? That tickle in the back of your throat or just feeling off. Well that has been me today. Plus, on top of feeling like I’m getting sick, I have had my 10-month old giving me boogery kisses and coughing in my face all day. I’m pretty much doomed. I tried all the tricks today too. Lots of water, check. Took a nap, check. Vitamin C, check. What I really needed though and didn’t have, were the ingredients for my Green Pick-Me-up. Filled with all of it’s vitamin packed goodness I’m sure it would have helped. Since making it to the store for the ingredients was out of the question today, I figured I would share the recipe in hopes of helping anyone else trying to fight off all of this winter sickness! img_1309  

Green Pick-Me-Up



handful of spinach


kiwi, peeled


pear, peeled and seeds removed


small cucumber, peeled


c. water
Directions: Add all ingredients to blender. Blend on medium for 15 seconds then high for 25 seconds or until smooth.

Goodbye Fears, Hello 2019


Hello 2019! For many of us the new year means a time to set goals and make changes. For me, the new year is also a time of reflection, a time I can spend looking at how I was able to grow the previous year.

This year happened to be full of many new, exciting, and growth inducing experiences. In March, my husband and I became first time parents to our beautiful daughter. Then in May we picked up our little family and moved to a different state so that my husband could start his new job. I could go on about each of these experiences and how they have impacted me as a person. However, as my year has played out before me, I keep going back to my goal to be more vulnerable and stop letting my fear of failure keep me from doing things I love.  One of those loves being my love of singing.

Since I can remember I have always loved to sing. I was in choirs as a kid, both in church and school, I even performed in a few musicals in Jr. High. Somewhere along the way though, I let my fears of failure along with feelings of not being good enough keep me from pursuing it. Other than singing in the occasional church choir and at home I pretty much stopped. Now fast forward to today. My Jr. High, High School, and even college days are now years behind me…and yet, I still have had a burning desire to do more with my voice. Thus, when making my goals for 2018, I decided the time had come to overcome one of my fears and find my voice!

My crazy first part of the year, along with my penchant to procrastinate meant that I didn’t find a teacher and start lessons until August, but I finally did it. Before my first lesson, man was I anxious! I was nervous my voice wasn’t good enough. I was nervous about messing up. Being a more quiet person by nature, I was also nervous about singing alone and having all of the focus be on me. In spite of all of my worries I showed up to that first voice lesson ready to take whatever came my way. Now, here I am in January still taking lessons, and I love it! No, my teacher did not tell me I have a horrible voice. No, my voice is not perfect, but it is good enough! Yes, I have messed up multiple times during lessons. Yes, the focus is all on me and yet, I have survived. Every week I can feel my voice getting a little bit stronger. Every week I am learning new techniques and exercises that help me feel more confident in my abilities. Every week I ask myself, why did I let my fears hold me back for so long? I feel so good! Even though I know I still have so much to learn, being vulnerable and putting myself out there has helped me in so many ways. Each mistake makes me aware of something I can work on. As I work on those areas of weakness they then become stronger. Each time this happens I gain a greater confidence in myself and my ability to overcome my weaknesses. That confidence is then driving me to want to get out there and do even more. Yes the possibility of failure is still there but I am learning that it doesn’t have to define who I am.  From failure I can rise up and become better than I was before. Really, it is freeing.

To those of you who are setting your goals for this coming year, what have you always wanted to do but never have? What could you gain from it if you did? What is holding you back? Let’s say goodbye to letting fears hold us down! Make vulnerability your guide in 2019 and see where you can go!