Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On Making Decisions

I read something interesting recently about decision making. If you've been around for a while you've probably read one of my several rants and/or brain dumps as they relate to this blog itself. The focus, the purpose, whether or not it should have a purpose. I've gone 'round and 'round and 'round on the topic, to only still, 2 years later, be undecided on the blog's "purpose" and whether or not it should even have one. But as I was saying at the beginning, I read something recently about decision making when it comes to blogging ideas and concepts and it was something that made me stop and think. This writer was reinforcing the idea not to rush yourself with a creative decision. Yes, a decision needs to be made eventually, but it might be in your creative best interest to let your thoughts align on the matter before jumping into something.

This is something I did not really do before creating my now defunct My Everyday Life blog. I wanted something new and fresh and a project that had a more "professional" feel than my little personal blog here. But I didn't spend any considerable time planning or working out any details before jumping into it and I just expected it to come of age on it's own. And to probably no one's surprise but my own, it did not. It grew stale and I realized that I was trying to make it something I thought people thought it should be, not an expression of my own thoughts and creativity.

You may wonder why I'm writing about this topic yet again. Well the desire to create a better creative space for myself has never been truly satisfied. I came back to my original blog because I needed some sort of creative outlet and here it was just waiting for me. However, other than just getting some words on a page, it doesn't do much for me. My previous community of military spouses and part-time writers and general kind-of-like-me people have moved on to other things, sometimes coming back every once in a while to update but even that is a rare occurrence. Mostly I feel like my writing is pretty isolated, other than to my dad, who still reads consistently because the posts show up in his inbox. ;)

So again, why am I even talking about this? Because I still want to create a new space. I still want to make something that's more than my random ramblings about things that don't matter. I've been doing some thinking lately and it seems I want to cover about 23094 topics, which would leave me with far too many irons in the fire. And then, I keep seeing these tutorials and templates out there of how to organize your thoughts and plans, and I really want to use them but then that little friend called "self-doubt" rears her ugly head and says "well what do you even need that for?"

Then I had an idea.

Because I don't want to stop writing all together while I hammer out ideas and a plan for this new project, I'll just keep writing and chronicling that journey here. It will be a little bit of a Inception situation to write on a blog about planning for a new blog but hey, that's where I am, so that's what I'll write about.

And to come full circle, what this has to do with decision making is that I'm actually allowing myself time this time around. I will give myself deadlines, but I'm going to really take my time and thoughtfully plan out my project, rather than jumping in headfirst without teasing the water.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Small Savings Tricks that Can Make a Big Impact

Let's talk savings today! I have quite a few savings goals on the horizon so I've been thinking long and hard about what I can do to maximize the amount money I put away each month.

A lot of people get overwhelmed when it comes to meeting savings goals or just beginning to save money altogether. Especially when most sources will say that you must have 3-6 months of living expenses saved at all times or you are basically committing yourself to living in a cardboard box down by the river if you ever lose your job.

And if you already have something like that in place, you may have other things you want to save for like a vacation or big purchase. Personally, I'm saving for a new computer, spending money for my BFF reunion in Alabama, and RAGBRAI.

While it is important to save up money to float you in the case of an emergency or for other goals, it doesn't have to be scary to start that process! In fact, it can be kind of fun to challenge yourself to meet the goals. Here are a few quick tips to go ahead and jump on that savings train.

1. Automate a Small Savings Contribution

Many times people feel that if they're not putting gobs of money towards a savings account each month that it's not even worth it. This is not true! Obviously the more you contribute the faster you'll reach your goal but if you need to, start small! Is there an amount that you wouldn't really miss from your weekly or monthly budget? Maybe you think you wouldn't really notice $5 per week, set up an automatic transfer and away you go! At the end of the month you'll have $20 more than you did before.

2. Put Any Extra $$$ Towards Savings at the End of the Month or Your Pay Cycle

The way that I do my budget, I have a set amount to spend each paycheck and any amount that I am under budget the night before I get paid goes right into savings. Literally sometimes this is $2-$3 but it always goes in. And being in the habit makes it easier to do when I'm $50 or more under budget, rather than subconsciously trying to find a way to spend it.

3. Review Your Savings Plan Regularly

When I started my weekly transfer, I had $5 every week going to savings. But as time progressed, I would look at my account week after week and realize I could increase that contribution. Now I have $15 going into my savings account each week. I started that weekly transfer about a year ago because I felt like I was spending at least some of my money on dumb stuff that could easily be eliminated if the money just wasn't there. Now instead of an extra $20/month I have an extra $60/month.

Personally, I use the weekly contribution and the end of pay cycle contribution to bolster my personal savings that helps me pay for things like traveling to see my two best friends, clothing, personal entertainment, etc. For our joint savings (aka Emergency Fund) we have a slightly different approach but also include the end of pay cycle method as well (more on that another time).

What tactics do you use to save money? 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

All of the Thoughts

I had plans to do a weekend (or end of week wrap up) and then plans to talk about some current events and then plans to talk about money and then I realized that my brain is just going a million miles a minute and none of those topics are going to work out. So you, lucky readers, get a brain dump because all these things flying around in my head need to go somewhere and here seems just as good a place as any. Buckle up.

1. I'm having some computer issues and may need to replace my laptop soon. Honestly, I'm not terribly sad about this except that it's going to be a big expense and I'm always hesitant about big expenses. But my current laptop is a pain in the ass and hinders my ability to do things like work on the blog and I'm not saying that the reason for my absences but it certainly doesn't help. I'm using my husband's laptop right now and having a computer that works the way it's supposed to is oh so nice. I've already got some money saved up so I'll just keep on saving until I decide for sure which one I want.

2. I'm going to try and start sewing again. I really enjoy sewing but I'm not terribly good at it when I never practice. So I bought a pattern for a simple dress and some practice material on Saturday night so here goes nothing. I'd also like to make a little cosmetic bag for when I only get halfway through getting ready in the morning and have to bring a few cosmetics to work with me. (It happens more than it should.) But currently, all my bags are too big or too small and none of them are big enough to hold both cosmetics and a brush or two (if I need, say, my blush brush) without using my biggest bag, which is a pain in the ass because it's so big.

3. I'm exhausted, have I mentioned that? The last 3 weeks have been absolutely draining and I really need some time to just rest and reset before Monday. I'm going to try really hard to balance Sunday between chores, errands and just relaxing. I'm not going to be very much good to anyone if I don't hit that reset button today.

4. I'm about halfway through Chamber of Secrets on my Harry Potter re-read and though I can usually only read a page or so at night before passing out with my Kindle on my face, I am loving it. My BFF and I are re-reading together but she's had to slow down because I can't find the energy to read more than 3 pages per day right now.

5. Speaking of reading and sewing and blogging. I'm starting to find time for my hobbies again which is really nice. Thankfully my little guy goes to bed by 7:30 or 8 every night and after that is hobby time. My husband sometimes works in the wood shop while I do other things and sometimes we work on stuff together (usually separate projects in the same general vicinity) but I'm really excited to be using this time to do things other than fall asleep on the couch. ;)

6. Speaking of blogging, I've been thinking again about starting another blog. It's not that I don't like this one, but it doesn't really have a clear voice or purpose. And I've written a few times about how it both is and isn't necessary but I'm wanting a bit more out of my blog. I don't have a super clear idea about what I want it to be yet but it's something I'm thinking about so stay tuned! :)

Well that's about it. I know it was a lot of barely coherent rambling, but hopefully now that's it's all out, I can be coherent again. :)