Hack your child’s morning routine to get out the door on time

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Step into almost any home on a weekday morning and I bet you catch at least a little rushing around. Sometimes A LOT of rushing around.

I don’t care how much you prepare it doesn’t always go right.

There are days that everything goes smoothly, but then there are a lot more days when something or everything is amiss. Be sure to check out 5 steps for reducing chaos in the morning for other tips

When Cassidy was three years old we were having a lot of difficulty in the mornings.

At that time Brian was working days and commuting an hour to work. He was gone by 6:45 and we were out of the house not long after at 7. It made for chaotic mornings. Cassidy has always been an early riser (and I mean early- 5:30) and she loves watching television in the morning. You can judge me, but her watching television allowed us time to get ready without having to entertain a 3 year old.

The only problem was that she would watch television and then zone out and not get ready. We would end up raising our voices and saying hurry up way too many times.

“Hurry up and get dressed. Hurry up and brush your teeth. We’re going to be late. You’re taking too long.”

We would get frustrated with her and she would get upset with us. It made for a bad start to the morning.

I’m not proud of how those mornings went. I’m a rush around and get things done person, but Cassidy is a slow moving enjoy the world kind of person. I love that about her, but it also has been the source of much frustration for this fast-moving mom. God definitely gave me the right children to teach me patience.

So after way too many frustrating mornings Brian came up with the solution.

I’m not sure where he got this idea, but in my book he’s a genius. He made a morning chart for Cassidy. We laminated it and got a dry erase marker for her. This way she knew what she needed to do every morning before she could watch television. She still got to watch television, but not until the other items were done.

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It was amazing. What a change it made in our lives.

She still continued to get up early, but she followed the chart, watched television and was ready to go when we were. If she got up later and there wasn’t time for television it was what it was—but that was rare.

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The big, bad, B word…yes you guessed it BUDGET

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Ever wonder where your money goes?

Does it seem like you’re living for payday and then immediately after payday you are all out of money?

I do not believe that money buys happiness, but I do believe that money can buy comfort and help other areas of our life be easier to manage. I’m not talking about winning the lottery type of money; I’m talking about a good solid income and some savings in the bank.

Imagine a life where it doesn’t matter if payday is a Tuesday or Friday.

You’re not waiting anxiously for payday in order to pay bills, buy groceries, fill your car up with gas, or sign your kid up for soccer.

I have always been a manager of money. I think in a past life I was an accountant because I love managing money.

Our first budget involved a spreadsheet, and then I went to a binder with each category having its own “account.” For a while I dabbled in Quicken, but found that having to go to the office computer to rectify accounts was annoying and it just wasn’t happening.

I really preferred the paper and pencil method until……www.everydollar.com.

I am as my husband calls me, “a Dave Ramsey fangirl” and on his podcast (Dave Ramsey’s not my husband’s) he was talking about his new FREE budgeting program, Everydollar last spring. It launched in March and I finally, reluctantly, decided to give the Everydollar budget tool a try in June. I maintained my paper ledgers for a month while I tried it out just in case I didn’t like it.  It was exactly how I was budgeting on paper, but so much easier. The system is real time, web-based. I didn’t even have to be on my home computer. I could log in anywhere and so could Brian (in theory).  Once I bit the bullet and got a smartphone (December 2015-yes I know I waited a long time-remember I’m cheap frugal) I was even more sold on Everydollar.

They have an app for iPhone which is simply amazing. I can now update my purchases as I make them.

I’ll be honest, I was an easy sell on the program because I was already budgeting, but I talk to others about it all the time. I convinced my sister, who has never been a strict budgeter, to check it out. She has now converted to budgeting and loves it.

Everydollar is a budgeting tool for budgeters and non-budgeters alike.

I cannot stress it enough—

you need to have a budget. Why not set up a simple Everydollar budget.

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Why I cut back on TV and why you should too

television remoteI cut back on television vieweing and it has allowed me to follow my dream of starting my own business.

I wonder what it could do for you.

Have you ever thought about it?

I’ve never really been a television addict, but I enjoyed it just as much as the next person. Brian and I had our shows that we watched together.  I had some shows I watched regularly by myself and of course there was the mindless television watching of reruns and HGtv. I may have been an addict for HGtv. It may be a problem when even your young child knows your favorite shows are home improvement shows and she tells everyone.

I would say I probably watched at least an hour of television every night.

For me it was more a gradual reduction of TV time in my life and wasn’t a conscious decision right away.

The first thing to go was the mindless television watching. (Side note: we have DVR which is a great feature and one I highly recommend, especially if you have children.)

With Brian working nights about half of each week I am alone after the kids go to bed. When they would go to bed if I didn’t have a show saved on DVR I would just turn the television off. No more mindless TV watching.

Then instead of TV I would do other things around the house, listen to music or podcasts, or read. On the nights that Brian was home we would catch up on one of our shows that we dvr’d, play a board game or talk.board-game-1163742_1920

That was the unconscious part of the journey into less television in my life.

The conscious decision to cut back on television watching came when I decided I was going to launch my business.

I knew that to be successful I needed more time to work on it. Between full-time work, a house and two small children I didn’t have much excess time in my life. My goal was to spend at least 5 hours a week on my business—it has since been increased to 10 hours—which often doesn’t seem enough.

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Do you have enough patience to get through the day?

chaos-485493_1280Do you ever feel like life is spinning out of control and you are losing it?

If the answer to that question is no, then you probably don’t need to read my blog anymore. In fact could you email me with all your secrets?

I feel like life is spinning out of control more than I care to admit.

I have discovered through much introspection over the years that I crave control. Yeah I know, shocking to anyone who ever knew me growing up. Yes, I like to be in charge and always have, but life spinning out of control thing is something more than just being in charge and making decisions.

As an adult when I feel like I have absolutely no control over anything happening in my life I have a tendency to lose it. All I want is too curl up into a ball or throw a massive temper tantrum until somehow I find control again over something, anything in my life. It’s hard to admit, but on occasion I have lost it resulting in a puddle of tears or even worse, falling into a catatonic state, or worse yet yelling at my husband.

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I do believe this need for some control in life may be one of the reasons I am good at organizing.

Organizing and tidying up spaces is one way I find control in a very uncontrollable world.

I remember many days when my youngest was about 8 months old feeling completely overwhelmed.

Work was for lack of better words, “a hot mess.”

We were undergoing leadership changes, my job, which I used to love and find predictable, was anything but predictable. When 4:30 hit I would head home only to be greeted by an 8 month old who would scream non-stop. It seemed it was her only way of communicating and no one knew what she wanted. Over time the screaming turning into screeching and was louder and shriller.

This went on for months all while Brian’s shift switched from days to nights. Have you ever tried to keep a small child quiet during the day so someone who works nights can get much needed sleep?

Well, if not, trust me, it’s stressful.

Needless to say I was hanging on by a thread. I can handle some chaos, but when both work and home are spinning wildly out of control I cannot handle it. (There may have been a few moments that when my husband woke up in the afternoon he found me on the back porch with my head in my lap just crying as the screeching continued from the kitchen).

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How to Set up a Christmas Savings Plan

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Did you know that Christmas falls on December 25 every year?

The biggest expense of most people’s year is just over 9 months away.

Why is it that so many are surprised by this expensive holiday “sneaking” up on them and go into debt?

If you celebrate Christmas you have gifts to buy, parties to attend, cards to send, cookies to bake—the list goes on and on.

Why does any of this matter in the middle of March?

Because people are still paying off their Christmas debt in January and February (and some even beyond that)?

Resolve to try something new this year. It’s time to create a Christmas savings plan. Put aside a little bit of money from each paycheck into a “Christmas savings account or fund.”

If you don’t know what you spent on Christmas last year, estimate it and then add 10% (you probably underestimated the cost of everything). If you don’t use the 10%, bonus you have a little extra money for savings or your debt snowball. Take that amount and divide by 9, because that is how many months you have left to save until Christmas. You can save money for Christmas monthly or weekly depending on what work best for you and your paychecks.

The first thing you will want to do as part of your Christmas savings plan is to create a budget for Christmas. This will include categories (i.e. names of people you are buying for, Christmas cards, decorations, baking, etc.). Estimate how much you want to spend on each category/person and then stick to that amount. It may be a little daunting at first, but it is freeing to know you have the money to spend and you know what your limits are.

If you are able to do this, you may just find that getting the mail in January is not as scary as it used to be. There won’t be any huge credit card bills waiting for you and you can sit back, relax and enjoy the calm of January.

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Plan ahead and don’t let Christmas take you by surprise this year!

Some banks still offer Christmas savings clubs, which will automatically deduct a set amount from your paychecks when they are deposited.

 

5 Tips for Cutting Down on the Morning Chaos

coffee-1174199_1920I don’t know about your house, but at ours mornings tend to be a little chaotic.

Luckily, I am a morning person so I am awake before the rest of the house – which is awesome. On a good day I have an entire hour to hour and half before anyone else is awake to accomplish some very important things.

My morning time is for getting to those things that are non-negotiable. If they don’t happen in the morning, they may not happen once the busy day unfolds. For me that means—prayer, writing in my gratitude journal and working out.

Are mornings chaotic at your house?

Try these 5 tips for slowing things down and giving yourself a little breathing room.

  1. Pack lunches for everyone the night before
  2. Lay out clothes for the day-for all members of the family (for me this means both my workout clothes and my work clothes. I don’t want to wake Brian while trying to find my workout clothes and on a good day I can get my shower in before anyone wakes up)
  3.  Pack book bags, work bags, etc. the night before (all paperwork to go to work or school is already ready to go-no searching in the morning)
  4. Lay out outerwear (in the winter this is a bigger issue-boots, gloves, scarves, hats, coats)
  5. If you are feeling very ambitious you could set the table for breakfast. I have even heard of some people putting the dry cereal in bowls. At our house I haven’t found a need to do this yet. (Plus while we slept our dog would feast)

If you find that your mornings are out of control, try waking up a few minutes earlier. Being up before your family allows you to get a jump start on the day.

Are there any things that you do to help make your morning run smoothly?

Debt Snowball Progress-February

debt snowball-februaryHere is our monthly progress through our debt snowball; currently our journey to funding our emergency fund. We would love to pay down our debt right now, but funding our emergency fund right now is more important. If you want to see where we started, check out our first month.

Here’s the update for February:

Extra income report from February

Extra money from regular paychecks     $2432
(this included extra pay for an overload
class I taught last semester)

Money from Varage Sale sales               $ 78

Money from ibotta coupon savings         $ 23
(we cashed out what we had earned
over the past couple of months)

Money from Ebates
(they only pay out a few times a year)   $ 89

Total extra income towards savings         $2,622

 

Previous months’ savings                     $8009
February savings                                 $2,622

$10,631

Total still needed to reach goal         $7,369

 

Debt snowball updates:

January 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

The Story Behind Minutes with Meg

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

What is your passion?

What does your dream life look like?

Why aren’t you doing that?

For the past six years I have worked full-time advising college students. I helped them to find their dream career, but never questioned my own.

I was happy enough, but it felt like I was missing something.

Back in the spring of 2015 I had a conversation with a friend at work, we were discussing what our dream jobs would be and why we weren’t pursuing them.

As a trained career specialist I knew the importance of taking a look back to your childhood dreams, interests and passions. One of my most prevalent childhood career dreams was to be a public speaker. I envisioned myself traveling the country motivating people with my words.

Contrary to what most people who know me think, I’m actually an introvert, so this, paired with a lack of inspirational words, seemed like quite an ill-suited career goal.  The concept made sense, but the avenue wasn’t right. Fundamental to this career dream is the enjoyment I receive from helping people be their best self and accomplish their own goals. (more…)

Quick clean-up

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Dinner is done and you’ve been going nonstop since you got home, and now you notice “IT.”

The kitchen is a disaster from cooking, lunches need to be packed, toys are strewn about the house.

Wait, is that a pair of underwear on the floor?

Socks in the couch cushions?

Shoes everywhere?

What happened to this house?

Does this happen in your house, or just mine?

It feels so overwhelming and you’re just tired from a long day. All you really want to do is put on some comfy clothes, sit down and read a book, watch tv or something that requires no movement or brain power.

We’ve all been there. Many of us nightly. I heard this statement a few months ago: you have to brush your teeth every single day, but we don’t complain about that. Then why do we complain about our house needing to be picked up or cleaned.

There are some things that just have to be done and can be done in minutes a day.

That statement has really resonated with me.

I decided that I needed to shift my view of this mess and realize it’s just a brief part of every day and if I do a little everyday it’s not overwhelming anymore. It’s just a matter of a quick clean-up and nothing more.

We started setting the timer for 5-10 minutes every night and we all pick up.

It’s amazing what a kid will do when you make it a game.

Some nights it’s just me and the girls because Brian is working, but the nights that he is home we accomplish even more. Most nights during our quick clean-up we can have the entire living room and hallway picked up, dining room table cleared and dishes done in 10 minutes.

The feeling of relief when it’s done is amazing.

Don’t tackle this alone, your whole family should be involved.

They all helped to make the mess.

6 Tips for Organizing a Closet

Never have a messy closet again with these 6 simple tips to an organized closet.

Even though it’s a mild Midwest winter it still means hats, gloves, scarves, boots, snow pants and coats. There are only four people in my house, but I think we may have enough winter gear to keep the whole neighborhood warm.

Inevitably, this means winter clothing is thrown into the front hall closet – if I’m lucky.

Often times they are discarded at the door or around the house. It only makes matters worse that Amelia enjoys walking around the house wearing hats, gloves and coats hers and everyone elses. It’s a favorite pastime of hers.

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Our front hall closet houses all of this gear along with our coats from other seasons and an assortment of other odds and ends. I was frustrated with the closet and decided it was time for an overhaul.

It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t functional either.

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6 Tips for organizing a closet or similar project:

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