My Top Three Budgeting Tips

I wanted to share my tips and tricks for whipping your budget into shape!

  1. Homemade Food
    • Meal Plan and Shop Your Pantry – I cannot stress how much this SAVES you budget! When my husband and I really started cracking down on our budget, this was our kryptonite. We didn’t have a dishwasher in our rental (I can’t tell you how much I hate doing the dishes), and at the time it was just the two of us, so we went out to eat quite a bit. Well, eating out adds up quickly. When we sat down at the end of the month and looked at where we went over budget, it was consistently the restaurant category. I know you’re probably thinking, “Okay, but groceries are expensive, too. Won’t that go up and replace the restaurant budget?” I’ll let you in on a tip I discovered and helps you save money: shop your pantry! I created these handy dandy inventory sheets that you can download on the free printable page! When you use what you already have, you don’t have to spend as much at the grocery store.
    • Save on Baby Food – Another tip I want to let you in on: make your own baby food! I cannot tell you how much money this saved us. Baby food packets (if you want organic) run for $1.40 on average for one packet. Whereas you can buy a bag of whole carrots for a dollar or two more and make EIGHT (or so) packets-worth of baby food!! If you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to make baby food.” I understand. My advice is to take one day and make a bunch of different varieties at once. I usually did all my batches on Sunday after church while my husband watched our baby. If you want more info on this, I’ll write up a post about it!
  2. Communication
    • Budget Meetings – Get with your hubby or wifey and go through your budget together so there are no surprises and arguments. You’ll thank me later.
    • Write it Down – One thing I had to learn about my personality is that if I didn’t record what I spent in the budget app right after I went to the store, I would forget and then the expenses would pile up. I’m still working on this one, but it’s nice to not hound each other trying to figure out certain transactions on your account you forgot about.
    • Fun Money – This is the best category you could have in your budget that will save you from money fights. You’re welcome. My husband and I each have a certain amount of money each month that we get to spend whatever we want with. If you try this method, you will have to find out what works best for your budget and family. It’s so freeing that I know how much I have to spend on makeup and clothes, for example. Yes, I said freeing. This category gives you permission to say yes to things you want, and vice versa for your hubby! Think of it as a monthly shopping spree.
  3. The Word “No”
    • Just Say No – This tip is probably the hardest one to actually put into practice. I even have a hard time with this one still! Sometimes, you just have to say, “No.” No more getting loans. No more financing things on credit cards. No more going into debt!
    • Stop the Impulsive Buying – Again, this was me. When I wasn’t living on a budget, I saw that cute top at the mall and bought it without even knowing how much was in my bank account. I was constantly going into the red at the end of the month. Now, when I want that cute top, I wait. I ask myself these questions, “Do I really need this?” “Do I want to spend my money on this right now, or do I want something bigger later?” If in a few days I still want that top, I’ll get it. I also believe the fun money budget category helps with this as well. When you know how much you get every month, it’ll save you from overspending. Do you really want that dress that’s $150 and you only get $100 each month to spend as your budget allows? Wait until next month and save that money this month. I know it’s hard. You can do it!

There you have it! These are my tips that I used and still use today to keep tugging along and keeping our family financially fit. What are your tips? I’d love to hear yours in the comments below!

With love,

Em

“Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge. What to do isn’t the problem; doing it is. Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it. If I can control the guy in the mirror, I can be skinny and rich.” 
― Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Mama, You Are Beautiful.

Yes, I’m talking to you.

Every stretch mark.

Every scar.

Every stitch.

Every bag under your eyes.

The milk-stained shirt.

The yoga pants with baby food splattered on them.

You are beautiful. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when you haven’t showered in days. Believe me, I’ve been there.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve had my little girl. I still cannot believe she is going to be one! It’s been the most rewarding and the most challenging year of my life. With everything going on, sometimes I forget about myself. Honestly, I feel weird for wanting time to myself when I know I should be doing other things. So I usually come last. Last to eat, last to shower, etc. I haven’t gotten my nails done or my hair since she’s been here. Granted, the coronavirus happened and shut everything down, but my point still stands. It’s a good day when I put on makeup. It’s a MIRACLE if I can do my hair as well. I know I’m not the only new mother who feels this way.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s okay to be a little selfish and do something for you. I know, I know. I heard the gasps and saw the large eyes in my head as I was typing that. However, I believe we need to be a little selfish once in a while for our mental health’s sake. I suffered with the baby blues, which almost turned into full blown postpartum depression. Thankfully I had my husband, mom, and mother-in-law to help me through it. They told me to go take a nap, to go out and get some air, to go and just take a break. They told me to take care of myself.

Sometimes it’s hard when you don’t look the same. There’s new rolls that you’ve never had before. Your hips grew. The pooch isn’t going away, even though you’re breastfeeding and you thought that would be the answer to losing the baby weight (if you can’t tell, I’m a little bitter about this one in particular). At the end of the day, we have to remind ourselves that our bodies are incredible. God designed us so intricately and gave us the ability to grow a new human. Our organs shifted and our hormones went crazy all for this little one we so desperately love. When my baby runs up to me and gives me a big hug, it reminds me that every change we go through is worth it.

I want to challenge you. Take twenty minutes for yourself every day. I’m not talking about your time alone with Jesus. I’m talking about your time alone with YOU. Read a book. Go get your nails done. Rest your eyes. Ask your hubby to take the baby and other kiddos for a little while. If you’re a single mama, first of all you’re a rockstar, but maybe that time alone is trickier. I would suggest getting a friend or someone to come babysit for just a little while. Yes, I’m giving you permission to leave mom duty aside.

When the guilt starts to creep up on you, I want you to remember this: if you want to be the best you can be for your spouse, your children, your job, etc., you have to take care of yourself.

With love,

Em.

Mama, Get Off Your Phone.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time. This is also to myself because I struggle with this daily. It’s something that I think many of us struggle with, regardless of whether we have kids or not. Our phones are a thief of our time. They also destroy our self-esteem. They create monsters inside of us called jealousy when we see an influencer’s new wardrobe, or their third new home in the last few years; each one more grand than the last. I should know because I’ve experienced these emotions and consequences. Yet it does have its virtues believe it or not.

Our phones connect us in ways past generations thought impossible. My daughter loves to FaceTime our family that lives 1,000 miles away. We can send pictures and videos instantly to our friends and relatives. Our phones also give us the ability to find the best deals on Facebook Marketplace, for example. Youtubers give us opinions and advice about products for our littles so we can make a sound purchase. See, I told you our phones have some good qualities!

Yet how many moments have I lost scrolling through Instagram, or watching video after video on Youtube? Moments of my daughter’s life and mine that I cannot get back. I believe that we would have so much “more time,” if we took a minute to see how much we waste on our devices. I love the screen time feature on the Apple iPhone. It was a rude wake up call to see how many endless hours I was wasting on my phone PER DAY. I’ll get transparent so you don’t have to feel as bad. I was averaging about five hours a day on my phone. What the heck?? I will also admit that it was mainly social media that was stealing that much of my time. Endless scrolling and mindless viewing.

I got to work and thought about what I could do with five hours of my day. I could definitely work on laundry. I could finish that book that’s been sitting on my bedside table for a year. I could throw in a thirty minute workout that I keep telling myself I don’t have time for. I could work on a mommy blog that I’ve been dreaming about (hello!) and make it a reality. There’s so much you could do that you “don’t have time for” if you looked up from your phone.

You know, it’s incredible how much comparison steals our happiness. I have to keep myself in check every day when looking on Instagram. I see her immaculate house, her expensive wardrobe, the endless hauls of hundreds of dollars she spent on a whim, the exotic trip that we all know cost her nothing because it was sponsored. That green monster of jealousy rears its ugly head and I become ungrateful for everything I do have. Do you want to know the secret to squashing that annoying monster? Get off your phone. If you’re a christian, get in your Bible. I cannot tell you how much better my day goes when I reach for His Word in the morning when I wake up before I open social media. If you’re not a christian, then I suggest keeping a notebook and write down a list of what you’re thankful for. How about the roof over your head? The fact that you were able to eat dinner last night? The fact that you and your family are in good health? How about the realization that it’s a luxury to have a smart phone? (Obviously these are examples, and it is different for everyone.) I remember always hearing, “If you have breath in your lungs, thank the Lord, because He’s the one who put it there.” How many times do we ever think about how blessed we are to be alive? Probably never. We’re too busy complaining about things we don’t have.

I hope this was encouraging for someone. I’m talking as much to myself as I am to someone else. No one in particular, I promise. I meant in general. I want to challenge you to utilize that screen time feature on your phone and schedule a part of your day where social media is blocked. Put your phone in your bedroom, in a drawer, in a safe, I don’t know. Just leave it somewhere you can’t get to it. Take a minute and breathe. Start on that hobby you’ve wanted to learn. Read a book. Journal. Go on that walk you didn’t have time for. Crack open those dusty recipe books and find a new one that looks delicious. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve done this. Leave me a comment or connect with me on the contact page! Or we can add each other on social media (I know it sounds ironic, but if it’s in your allotted time I’ll allow it 😉) and let me know that my blog sent you!

Let’s to this challenge together. Starting the month of July. Let’s go.

With love,

Emily

 

Finding Love in an Unexpected Place | Journal

“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:20-21

I would categorize myself as a hopeless romantic – one who believed that someday my prince would come. I know I sound like a Disney princess movie, but that was my view. Those movies had a very large impact on my life, okay? Yet reality is so much different than a fairytale. Throughout the years of never having a boyfriend or never holding someone’s hand in a romantic way it had an effect on me. Every single Christian girl can vouch for me when I say I’ve heard all the remarks from older generations on marriage and “the one” and I was sick of it. I was immensely tired of hearing that my time will come, or that there are plenty of fish in the sea, or something along those lines. Well, he wasn’t really coming in my timeline at all. I was supposed to be married three years ago with at least a little one on the way by now. Reality had a cruel way of showing you that life isn’t a movie, and social media also has a way of letting people pretend that they’re perfect and happy, giving you the feeling of loneliness that amplifies into untruths. I have a love-hate relationship with social media.

I wanted a relationship so bad for so long, I eventually gave up hope if I’m being completely honest. In January of 2017, I threw in the towel and wrote a letter to my future husband and to God, saying that I was done looking. I was fed up with my own failed timeline creating doubt and disappointment. I was finished with feeling sorry for myself and painting false ideas on myself that I wasn’t pretty enough, or outgoing enough, or just plain likable. If I claimed to be a child of God, it was time for me to start acting like one.

I did a lot of soul searching, and found that I was not ready for a relationship with someone when I wasn’t strong in my relationship with God or myself. I leaned on what God said I was, and started to finally place my worth in what He said versus what the world said a young twenty-something girl should be. (I could go on about how social media is a blessing and a curse to society, but that’s another soap box that I need to not step on, otherwise I could go on forever.) Let me tell you, it’s hard changing your mindset. The beauty of serving a mighty God is that it didn’t take very long for me to be free of those untruths. It starts with talking to God and telling him your fears, your concerns, your failures, and just giving them up. It also means finally being okay with HIS timeline.

I wrote a post on here a few years ago proclaiming that I was done with dating (I’ll link it here if you’d like) and while for the most part I stuck to this, words are easier said than done, because after that I still struggled. Just being completely honest. Yet who knew that I would meet my husband eight months after truly declaring, by myself at night in my room, that I was handing it to the Lord. Also, who knew that the internet/social media was the way I would meet him. I know, I just went on a little tangent about social media, but remember I said I have a love/hate relationship with it? Well I found him on none other than ChristianMingle. Yes, you read that right. At first, I was skeptical of trying it. I thought and prayed hard before I started and during the whole process. I kept my mindset pure and on God. At first, I felt like it wasn’t right for me to give my dating life to God and then turn around a few months later and look for him myself on an internet dating site of all places. However, I prayed a simple prayer, “I’m going to try this for a little while, and if it’s not what you have for me, God, then shut the door.” Surprisingly, he didn’t shut it.

I want let this phrase sink in, because it is so true: God’s timing is PERFECT. All those years of wishing and crying and wanting someone taught me to trust in God’s plan. If I didn’t, I would have never met my husband, because all this time he was 1,000 miles away from me until he moved to Michigan in June of that same year I gave it all up to God. In August, we had our first date and talked for hours. We both opened up to each other and asked serious compatibility questions, like ones about finances and other relationships. I know it sounds crazy, but I was not messing around, and neither was he. By our third date, we both knew that this was it. We had found our soulmates. In December, he asked me to marry him, and I said yes. In August of the next year (two months ago) we made the most important covenant between a man and a woman official. I’m telling you, when God is in the mix, things just happen. I look back at all those “wasted” years of being single as a lesson. I put the word “wasted” in quotations because they were not wasted at all. All those years of saving myself and growing into the person God wanted me to be paid off. We each other’s firsts in everything. And that is something truly special that I thank God every day for. When we do relationships and marriage God’s way, it is truly beautiful and the most romantic love story of all.

I want to say this as a sort of disclaimer – God’s timeline for everyone is different. I know I would read these types of posts and say to myself, “Okay, if that’s how it worked for them, I’ll try the same things and see if they work for me!” It never did. If you’re struggling with singleness and all the other issues that come with that, I understand your pain. I was right there with you for many years. Remember this: a girl should be so lost in God that a guy needs to seek him to find her. That way the struggle is easier, and the waiting doesn’t seem like an eternity. I hope my story resonates with someone, and if it does, then my goal is made. I will see you next week with another blog post (I’m determined to keep this thing going)!

With love,

Emily

Busyness: a New Disease

I usually like to write about what I am going through at a particular moment in my life. I am going to school (yes I am almost twenty-four and still in college – that’s a testimony for a later post lol) and working full time. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job and I love being back in school and getting a higher education. I will say, though, it comes at a cost.

I have found that I hardly have time for anything anymore. I get up early, go to work, come home, and go to bed. On school days I get up early, go to school all day, go to a coffee shop to get my homework done, go home, and go to bed. That is my routine five days a week. I forgot to mention: I also have photo sessions on the weekend. I have no time for a social life, and I feel that I have no time for me. Yet I feel that I have no choice – I have to have so many classes in order to not be in school forever, and I have to work so many hours to pay my bills and stay afloat.

Remember when you were a kid and could not WAIT to be an adult and make your own decisions and have your own car (insert anything you wanted as a kid, but could not have)? Yeah, it is not what it is cracked up to be. In fact, it is downright awful.

The more freedom you have, the more responsibility you have. That also pertains to your spiritual walk with God. No one holds your hand anymore. Your parents do not make you go to church anymore. YOU are your own responsibility. It has to be YOUR choice to shimmy in some time with God, no matter how “busy” you are.

I am not afraid to acknowledge that I have been lacking in my spiritual walk. I really detest the “holier-than-thou” attitude, so I will not be one of those people. Every one has ups and downs in his or her spiritual walk. I believe we should not be afraid to admit our faults for fear of judgement, rather confess our weaknesses to seek support and help. Yet busyness is a dangerous place to be in your life; I am learning this right now.

What happens when you do not have time for God?

With Love,

Emily

Confessions of a Maid of Honor: Five Tips to Rock the Job

Recently I was given the “honor” (see what I did there?) to be my best friend’s maid of honor at her wedding. I was absolutely ecstatic! We have been friend’s our entire lives, so this is one of our daydreams coming true. Little did I know everything that a maid of honor entails. There’s so much more to being a maid of honor than giving a little heart-warming speech at the reception. Coming from a now experienced mindset, here are five tips that I’ve come up with to help those new maid of honor’s who are saying, “What did I get myself into?”

  1. Plan Everything Ahead of Time

I can’t stress enough how vital it is to plan everything ahead of time. You are there to make the bride’s life easier – especially when it comes to planning. Your duties are the bachelorette party and the wedding shower (before the wedding – shower is optional depending on the bride). Coming from a true procrastinator, it will make your life so much easier if you plan on a theme and games and prizes ahead of time – and that means more than two weeks prior to the event. Even if you’re not a list person, they help tremendously! Lists make things more manageable and you can focus on one thing at a time, as opposed to looking at everything you have to do and become a huge stress ball. Another suggestion is to enlist the help of your fellow bridesmaids – they are there to help you and can come in handy! If your all far away and can’t get together as often, enlist the help of a close friend. Remember, you don’t have to do everything on your own!

2. Give Options, Not a Million Questions

Your bride to be is already stressed out with a million wedding details; not to mention everything else she has to worry about like the honeymoon, where they’re going to live, etc. Instead of attacking your bride with a million questions as regards to her taste and wants, give her options. She picked you for this special position for a reason, so obviously you know somewhat of what her taste and style is. Instead of asking, “What centerpieces would you like for the shower tables?” Try asking, “I’ve looked at a couple options for a centerpiece for your wedding shower tables. Which one do you like best?” Get planning and researching as soon as you can, because it comes up faster than you can blink. If a plan falls short or something needs to be changed, have backup options. One thing I’ve learned is that sometimes you don’t get everything you want or planned – things happen. Be prepared with options she will love, ask for the go ahead, and get going!

3. Calm and Collected are Your New Names

With everything that’s going on, you are the solid rock your bride is leaning on. Don’t forget that you are there to be for her, but not just for the wedding details. Everyone else is bombarding her with those questions. Make sure you ask how she’s feeling and try to take her mind off of things once in a while. Bring her back to reality and when things were a lot less hectic. Let her vent, cry, laugh, or get out whatever she’s feeling at the moment. If you’re a person that can’t handle stress well, remember this: this too shall pass. The months leading up to the wedding won’t last forever. Word of advice, the last two weeks leading up to the wedding are the most stressful weeks of her pre-wed life – so that’s a good time for getting her mind off of things.

4. Tips for a Clean Bachelorette Party

As a Christian, bachelorette parties are very tricky these days. I had next to no luck searching for clean bachelorette party ideas on Pinterest. So I basically had to make up a theme, find classy decorations, and come up with clean games. With the enlistment of my fellow bridesmaids and a close friend who is a great host, I came up with a spa themed party; complete with facials and mani pedis. Party City has pretty nice bachelorette party decorations if you’re in need of a place to shop (I don’t know if they’re everywhere in the US, I’m from the midwest). There are a ton of games that you can turn into a clean game. Just swap out dirty questions for clean versions, or trade out alcohol for something else. One of the biggest hits was a game called how well do you know the groom, where the bride has to answer questions about the groom and when she gets a question wrong, instead of taking a shot of tequila, she puts a marshmallow in her mouth and keeps it there until the end of the game. It was a hilariously funny game – especially when she turns into a chipmunk and is trying to get out the answer as clearly as she can. A clean bachelorette party is more work planning-wise, but totally worth it and is just as fun!

5. Wedding Day Duties

Ah, the wedding day. What all the months of planning and preparing was for. This day is the most crucial for a maid of honor. You have to help your bride get ready, keep her from having a panic attack, have everything she would need, hold her bouquet, make sure her train looks good on the stage, remember how to tie the bustle, keep everyone in check for pictures, sign the marriage license, remember your speech for the reception, and remember to breathe. It is a very stressful day for you, but your duty is to make sure the bride has as carefree a day and you can manage. You want to make sure she remembers this day as the happiest day of her life. It’s a long list, but it goes so much faster that you’d think. Remember: you’ll have time to relax after your speech. Then it’s time to party! I would suggest you bring some Tylenol for your head and aching feet. Don’t forget to drink water and eat something prior to the reception meal – it wouldn’t be ideal if you pass out before then. I know because of the adrenaline you don’t feel hungry or thirsty, but trust me. Once the adrenaline is gone, you won’t feel so hot. Make sure the bride is hydrated as well! When you look back at the day, if the bride is happy, that means you did well. :]

Photo: Pinterest