Friday, September 30, 2016

Why Complete a No Spend Challenge?



A No Spend Challenge doesn't have to be a month, it can be whatever you want. Start with a week if you're scared to try a month. The goal is to reset your habits and evaluate yourself. When I started the challenge, I was eager and I had a plan. As the time when on it did get harder, but I also became more determined. If I found myself wanting to give up, I reset myself. If I failed, I decided to keep going. Don't give up because I bought 2 books.

 The whole reason I did this challenge was to stop myself from impulse buying. I wanted to see if the items I REALLY wanted at the beginning of the challenge, were still "must haves" now. Honestly, they're not. I've moved on.

When you complete a no spend challenge, be careful not to go spending crazy once it's done. That will defeat the purpose. You need to continue to be disciplined. Remember why you did it. Look at what you saved, and the goals you accomplished.

When you're finished the no spend evaluate if some of the things you gave up were really that hard. If giving up your coffee or eating your lunch out wasn't that big a deal. Maybe you can cut the budget for that? I learned how to avoid temptation, and stay busy when I would normally go window shopping.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

5 Things I Didn't Expect When Bringing Home My Baby





  1. You know the saying “sleeping like a baby” well I learned babies don’t sleep that well... Atleast Caleb didn’t, he was literally up ALL night. This went on for weeks and weeks, eventually I had to start co sleeping because it was the only thing that worked. The minute I would lay him down in his bassinet or crib, he knew and would wake up. No matter how gentle I was...I spend MANY hours in my rocking chair.


  1. I had no idea that I would feel incredibly lost when I brought Caleb home. I would second guess myself, I had no idea what I was doing. I thought I would just “know” and it was hard for me to realize that there was a learning curve, and I needed to give it time. Everyone gave me advice, and it gave me alot of anxiety. Especially when they were telling me to do the opposite of what I researched.


  1. My C Section was not as hard and painful as I was expecting. When I was in the hospital, I kept waiting for the excruciating pain, but it didn't come. It really wasn’t that bad. I was terrified. I didn’t even take pain killers, Tylenol was sufficient.


  1. I had pregnancy P.U.P.P (ITCHY Rash) and it was horrible! It was literally a rash that covered my entire body, except my face. I was so itchy, that I couldn’t even sleep when Caleb did sleep. My feet were probably the worst, and I didn’t know where to put them or what to do. This rash went away a few weeks after Caleb was born and came back 6 weeks later. I cried, I was so discouraged. The only thing they could give my was Benedryl, and I was already SO SO tired.
  1. I had no idea that I would be so scared of something happening to Caleb. He slept with a Levana monitor, and I would still check him all the time.



3 Things I Would Tell A New Mom

The first 8 weeks are the hardest, and you seem to settle into your new role. Both Mom, Dad and baby are learning how to fit into this new world. It’s normal to be afraid and feel lost, but give it time. I remember thinking “when will this get easier” it does, but it took awhile

If you need the help, and have it- Take it! I’m the type of person who wants to do every thing myself, and some times you need to step back and allow people to help you. Sleep deprivation will make you feel like you’re going crazy.

Take time to take care of yourself. Don’t forget that you need to be happy, healthy and sane to take care of baby. This new world is going to take some adjustment, and you need to figure out how to make it all work.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Tips On How To Save Money On Child Expenses





Newborn Outfits

All the little cute outfits are tempting but my experience taught me that you want the baby to be comfortable. Your little one will be sleeping, in a chair/swing or your arms most of the day. Hoodies make it difficult to hold the baby. I'm sure cute tutus would be similar. I can't tell you how many outfits, Caleb never wore because it was just too complicated. A onesie was much easier to put on him day to day.

Crib Bedding

Crib bedding is so expensive but not necessary. It's not recommended to have the set in the bed, I skipped on it and bought a toddler set. It fit the crib, and I put the comforter/sheet away until Caleb was able to use it. I kept the fitted sheet on the crib.

Equipment

You don't need a 300 dollar swing, a cheaper one will do fine. Actually, Caleb hated the swing altogether.  We could have skipped it. The Baby Bullet or similar baby food making machines are not necessary. If you have a blender or food processor that would be perfect. Use what you already have. Be careful not to get caught up in purchasing top of the line swings, strollers and other expensive equipment.


Baby Food

I made my own baby food, and it was very cost efficient. I started with a blender and ice trays. I eventually bought a Baby Bullet because I got sucked in, but it wasn't necessary. I made food ahead, and froze it. It was very easy, and I was able to feed Caleb a wide variety of foods.

Diapers

I know it's tempting to stock up on diapers, but if your baby/toddler grows out of the size before your boxes are done, you might be stuck with them. A store might let you exchange them, but there's a chance you won't be able to.  Diapers are on sale often, I personally don't recommend stocking up. Caleb didn't even fit in newborn diapers.

Clothing/Shoes

You know how they say "Children grow really fast?" Well they do, and you will go through alot of clothes. Be careful not to over buy because within a few months, it's too small.  Some of it may not have be worn. Caleb is 2, and he's gone through 3 shoe sizes in a year. Now, we only buy what we need because he grows out of it so fast.









Thursday, September 22, 2016

No Spend Update 3





I'm still doing good on the no spend, but it's getting harder. I suspected that it would and it is. I also started this early, end of August. I actually bought 2 books this week that I plan to read on vacation. I found them cheaper on bookoutlet.ca and decided to order them. It wasn't much, but I know it wasn't a need.

I hope these financial posts have peaked some readers interests. I have seen alot more traffic on these posts, and that's been interesting. Personal finance is so personal, and scary but I've been loving it. I have many more posts outlined, and it's sparked my blogging interests again. I can't wait to get these posts out, and I have some scheduled in advanced. This blog has grown with my through the years, and I suspect that it will continue to grow with me. It's been almost 8 years, and even when I have no ideas, even when it's been long months without a post. I'm not ready to give it up. I'm happy that I have content ideas again.

Books are still apart of my life, but my love of writing reviews has dwindled. I'll still post some book reviews, and book posts but I plan to have a wider range of posts. I hope you'll stick around.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How to Stay Motivated When Getting Our of Debt




Find a Community

If you feel alone, it's hard to stay motivated. If you join a group, and see that you're not the only one. It gives you motivation to keep going. There are many Dave Ramsey followers on Youtube, and I love watching their channels. They're documenting their journey. It's a great way to stay motivated. There are also many Facebook groups out there.

Progress

Don't forget to check your progress. It may feel like you are getting no where, but look back at where you started. Document where you started from, and check in from time to time. There are also debt free charts online that you can print, and use as a visual. Debt Free Charts

Reward Yourself

Put a reward system in place. When you pay off a certain amount, get halfway or complete your goal to get the reward. Obviously, this reward has to within reason.

Remind Yourself of the End Game.

Imagine what you can do with the money when you're out of debt. Imagine the security you can have with a fully funded emergency fund.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

Expect that you will have bumps in the road, life happens, murphy happens. You will still be okay. The budget takes times, and sometimes something comes up. Learning how to deal with these bumps will be important. Don't let yourself get discouraged, and decide to give up.


I highly recommend Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.



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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why I Learned To Love Personal Finance



If you've noticed a lot of personal finance posts on my blog it's because Personal Finance is something I've been researching and learning about this year. Money touches almost every aspect of our lives, and it's really important but not something people talk about. When I hear that half of Canadians are living paycheck to paycheck, it makes me worry. It's so important to have an emergency fund and to have a backup plan. I've been learning so much, and I want to encourage others. You don't have to live a stressful life in regards to money. If you take control of your money, and you're disciplined, it will make a world of difference.

Money is common sense, but people don't use common sense when dealing with money. As a whole people are relying more and more on debt. If they don't have the money in their account, they charge it. It's normal, it's something we're all use to. Affording the payments, is not affording it. So many people don't really care about their debt, until they've lost their job and risked every thing. Life is not a competition, trying to keep up with the Jones when the Jones are probably broke. Live within your means- learning to handle your money actually feels like you have more.

I  never had a finance class in school, I've always been intimidated by numbers but now that I'm taking the time to learn about it, it's really interesting. I see how carefree some people are, and their financial future is scary. My goal is to have financial freedom. Pay down/off debt, build a substantial emergency fund and continue to be on the same page as my husband. It doesn't mean we can't buy something, it means we plan for it.

Life happens and you need to be prepared. Retirement is something you need to plan. I went to school and didn't have any school loans, I had a different funding. If that funding for some reason doesn't exist when my son goes to school, I want us to pay for his school. We started an R.E.S.P when he was one years old. Personal finance is something I've really started paying attention to, and I'm fired up about educating others.


Monday, September 19, 2016

How To Get Out Of Debt





You need to WANT IT!

The first step to getting out of debt is to really want it. It has to be YOU, not someone else telling you that you should get out of debt. It starts with you, because you're going to be living it. You're going to be the one paying it off. If you're wishy washy and not ready to commit to this, it won't happen. You don't wander out of debt, you decide to get out of debt.

Make a Plan

There are many debt repayment systems such as the debt snowball (paying smallest to largest debt) or the debt avalanche (paying largest interests to smallest) you will need to decide HOW you will get out of debt. You need a plan, without a plan you won't be focused and it won't be long before your running off the track.

Implement the Plan

Create your budget, and implement your plan. The budget is key to controlling your money. It's the contract that you need to make work. While creating the budget you need to make sacrifices, get current on bills, if you're not and you need to live within your means. You need to stop depending on a credit card, because getting out of debt means not putting more on credit.

Stay Focused

Remind yourself why you want to get out of debt. When you're in debt, and life happens you don't have alot of options. That's why it's important to have an emergency fund. If you follow Dave Ramsey, he suggests 1000$ baby emergency fund. This is the first step to his plan, after that you start to tackle debt with the debt snowball. Having that baby emergency fund breaks the dependency on credit when something happens.

Stay Motivated

Staying motivated is crucial when you're getting out of debt. It's not easy to cut out your lifestyle, and see others being carefree. However, you don't know their specifics. Worry about yourself, and fix your situation. You must make the changes necessary.




Friday, September 16, 2016

No Spend Update 2



The no spend month is going really well. I thought I would struggle alot more than I am. I've been staying away from stores, or when I do go, I don't feel tempted. During the week, I tend to read or blog during my lunch break. At home, we don't normally go anywhere in the evenings. The weekends are probably a little harder, but it's been okay.

I will admit that I had one crazy day where I failed on the no spend. The minute I turned on my PC at work, I had issues to deal with, and when I left I had a whole set of new issues. I had no breaks, no lunch and I was so drained. When I came home, I didn't have dinner prepared and I knew I needed to give myself a few minutes to stop stressing or my whole evening with my family would be ruined. I ordered a pizza....I didn't feel bad about it. It gave my a chance to reset and focus on my family. Leave work at work. Life happens, and sometimes you need to make a judgement call.

Week 2- all in all has been good. I think it might get harder as my vacation starts to get nearer. Hunting season is around the corner, and we'll be going back to our hometown to visit. I need to keep my spending in check, and realize I won't need any new things.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tightening Up The Budget




There may come a time when you will need to tighten up your budget, it may be due to an income problem, or a savings goal. Tightening your budget doesn't necessarily mean that your managing your money badly. It means that your are managing your money, and for whatever reason you're looking to make changes.

Learn To Say "No."

The first thing you need to learn when tightening up your budget is how to say "no." As Dave Ramsey would say "Children do what feels goods, Adults devise a plan and follow it." If you have to tighten up the budget, you're going to have to say "no."

Evaluate the Budget

Look closely at the budget, and see if there are some things you can cut out. Do you have magazine subscriptions that you're not using or don't need right now? Maybe the gym membership has to go. Cable is not a necessity, maybe you can cut down the bill or cut it altogether. You have to look at the big picture, and decide what sacrifices will need to be made. Maybe cut down the "eating out" category, and add to the grocery category.

Renegotiate Your Bills

Cable, internet, insurance companies, and cell phone providers may be able to offer you a promotion price. Talk to the loyalty department and see what they can do.

Grocery Bill

The grocery bill is one of my hardest budget items to keep in check. It's important to keep an eye on this expense. If the grocery bills are getting higher, you may be able to cut down on the bill. Remember that groceries are apart of your "Four Walls" and must remain a priority.

Track your Spending

When you're trying to keep that budget in check, especially when trying to tighten the budget. Track your spending. You can use an app, or even have a spending journal. When you keep seeing how much your spending, you're less likely to keep making those mistakes.

Stay Motivated

It's  hard to make sacrifices but the key is to keep motivated. Don't give up. There's a reason why you are doing this. Budgeting and tightening the budget can be done for various reasons. I firmly believe everyone should have a budget system.




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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review: Kobo Aura One Vs H2o Reader


Comparing the Kobo Aura H20 to the new Aura One, the first thing you notice is the size. The Aura one is taller and slimmer. I really like the size of the Aura One. Instead of reading on a paperback sized reader, you'll be reading on a hardback sized reader. I think it offers a great reading experience.

The overall system feel is very similar to the H20. I think don't there's much of a difference. I really like Kobo's interface. Both readers are waterproof which is a huge benefit. I can read outside and no worry about rain drops, I can read in the bath. If I go to the beach, bring the reader along. The Aura One doesn't have the port plugged like the Kobo H20.

The Aura One also allows readers to use Overdrive, which I'm very excited for. I'm hoping the H20 will get this same upgrade. I borrow alot of books from the library, and this would be great to have across the readers.

While I was commuting to work, I found the size to be very comfortable with the Aura One. However, when the metro was REALLY crowded I was alittle afraid to hold the reader with one hand. It's very slim, and I was afraid to drop it. I do find the H20 more easier to hold with one hand.

Overall, I was really happy with the Aura one. I received a demo to use for a few weeks. I own the H20 and would love to own the Aura One but it will have to wait until I'm ready to upgrade. If you're use to Kobo the new reader won't be a big change, but it does have some cooler new options such as the comfort light. The biggest advantage the new reader has is the bigger size. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Zero Based Budgeting



Throughout my no spend September month, I want to try and educate about finances. I'm a former spender, and I've come along way. 

Why create a budget? Every wonder where your money went at the end of the month? If you have a budget, you keep track of your spending, this will be a thing of the past. Budgeting is being in control of your money. Have your money work for you, you work hard enough for it. It's easy to ignore your finances, but it's not going to benefit you in the short or long term.

When I first started budgeting, I only wrote down bills. I didn't include groceries, savings, or personal money. Now, I plan for every thing, including gifts that will come up in a month. One of the first things, that made me stop and hop on the Dave Ramsey wagon was when I heard him say Christmas shouldn't be a surprise. We know Christmas comes up once a year, plan for it. Now, I have a Christmas fund that gets funded monthly. 

1. The first step to budgeting, is write down your income. If you have a fixed income this should be easy. If you have a variable income, you should do some research to get some help.

2. Create a monthly budget of expenses. If you are in the red, make sure you have your four walls covered. Food, shelter (including utilities), clothing and transportation are necessities. They should be at the top of your budget, not at the end. These are things, you cannot cut out. Give every dollar a purpose. Have every dollar accounted for. This could be personal money, savings, sinking funds, money put towards your debt...

I highly recommend looking at examples of budgets online. Look at how detailed they are. Those details really make the difference.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

No Spend Challenge Update 1



I started my no spend challenge a few days early, just to "practice." I thought my week days would be hardest because that's when I'm tempted to go browsing during my breaks. I was right, that's when i'm most tempted. I'm tired, and want to get away from my desk for a bit. Once I decide to suck it up, and not go to the malls. I do well. These malls are connected to my work through underground tunnels. I usually end up staying at my desk and reading. I've also been writing and outlining blog posts. I've been really into personal finance and I have some blog posts coming up that I hope will encourage people like me who are natural "spenders." Money is common sense, but it's our habits that get us into trouble. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child





Review: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child
J K Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Little Brown
301 Pages
Personal Copy
Rating: 3/5


Harry Potter will always be my favorite book series. I started reading the series when I was in highschool, I can remember getting the library book and sitting down to read it in the evening. I waiting patiently for each book to publish, and I went to the midnight book sale for the last book. When I heard about The Cursed Child, I was excited and couldn’t wait to get the book/play. I knew going in, that it was written as a play and J K Rowling wasn’t the only writer. However, I didn’t expect it to have such a different feel. It’s a character driven story, without much storytelling. There’s a lot of flashback storylines but not a lot of new material. That’s where I really felt like the story fell flat for me. I really struggled with the plot. I expected more from J K Rowling. If she was committing herself to continue the story, I expected her to give her readers more. This play felt like it was a “filler” project, something to just get done. It was not an eighth book in my mind, it didn't even come close. Yes, a play is meant to be experienced but I’ve read plays before, and I’ve enjoyed the plotlines. This script felt like a trip down memory lane and nothing really substantial was added. It wasn’t horrible, but it was just okay. I really don’t see myself going back and reading it again, not like the books themselves.


What were your thoughts? I’ve seen alot of mixed reviews. In a way, I wish I hadn’t read this one.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fall Bucket List


Fall begins September 1st in my book. I love the fall season. I'm looking forward to putting on sweaters, and drinking warm tea in the evenings. Hot Chocolate is also a favorite warm drink of mine.  I've been thinking about the fall season, and which things I would like to accomplish.

Reading: I really want to read a few mystery/ cozy reads. I don't normally pick up these types of books, but I really want to give them a try.

Cooking: I'm going to try and find one new recipe per week to try. I really don't like cooking, it doesn't come naturally for me but it;s something that I have to do. I'm hoping to find new "go to" recipes.

Baking: Strawberry Jam...I'm going to try and make jam for the first time. I also want to bake some apple pies, and apple crisp.

Apple Picking: We went to an orchard last year, and I'm hoping to go back this year. Caleb is older, and I'm sure he'll have more fun.

Carve Pumpkins: My husband really enjoys carving pumpkins, and this one will be fun to do as a family.

Movie: I want to go see a movie with my husband. We haven't gone to a movie together since I was pregnant, that was 2013! This one is a must!




Monday, September 5, 2016

5 Weird Ways I Save Money





1- Meal prep and keep an inventory of what's in my freezer.

 I stay withing my budget when shopping, by meal prepping and shopping with a list. I look at what's on sale, and meal prep around it. I also keep an inventory of my freezer items in my planner. This way I know what I already have when choosing meals. We also do one big grocery shop every 2 weeks, and then we only have to grab the few things that we're missing between those weeks. Milk and bananas...we always need to buy more milk and bananas...

2. Make my own bread.

I use my bread machine to make my dough, and I bake it in the oven. It does take time, but it's cheaper and so much more tastier. I will also make bread ahead and freeze it. I don't buy store bought bread very often. I've even made my own sandwich buns when I forgot to buy some.

3. I bring my own lunch, and prep my tea at home. 

This one took some time for me to learn. I'm not a leftovers girl, but I also don't like eating out very often. So why spend money on food, I'm not going to enjoy. It takes a little prepping the night before, but it saves me so much money. I also prepare my tea at home, put it in my travel thermos and enjoy it at work.

Friday, September 2, 2016

My Top 3 TBR Books

Description:  Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her of the Underground Railroad and they plot their escape. Like Gulliver, Cora encounters different worlds on each leg of her journey. 

Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors of black life in pre-Civil War America. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dokibook Planner Review


I purchased my Dokibook at the beginning of the year, and it has really changed my life. After becoming a parent, going back to work full time and trying to manage my new world, I had to figure out a plan. Organization has always calmed me down, and allowed me to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. University days really kicked in my organization, and gave me skills that are so helpful in my every day.

I first purchased a Happy Planner but I wasn't enjoying the vertical spread. I had also purchased a cheap Chapters planner that had a week on one page spread, and I put those inserts in my Dokibook. It came with dividers, but no inserts. The dividers, pocket, and bookmark have all held up well. The gold planner has also held up great, after months of use. I bring it back and forth to work and still seems like new. The rings are still working great.