Why We Are Getting Debt Free

debt free

David is probably rolling his eyes at the very title of this blog post! However, becoming debt free is by far the biggest change in our marriage this year, and to not talk about it seems weird.

When I left my job earlier this year, David and I took a long hard look at our situation to ensure that financially we could afford to take a hit for a few months while I build a business. It seemed possible and, therefore, I made the leap. But during our digging we started paying closer attention to where our money was going, and we weren’t happy about it.

When the comfort of a steady paycheck is taken away, it wakes you up a bit. Finances, like anything in life, can become passive. Everything is on autopilot nowadays – direct deposit into your account, paper-free auto-withdrawals to pay bills, you never actually see the money. It can be convenient, but it can also cause bad habits.

Around the same time, I was reading a book by Rachel Hollis. She wrote a bit about getting debt free and quoted this guy named Dave Ramsey. I honestly didn’t give it a second listen at first because being debt free wasn’t even an idea that I thought was possible let alone something we could achieve.

But as you start taking control of one part of your life, a funny thing happens – you start wanting to take control of all parts of your life. I started getting intentional about setting goals. One day, I sat down and wrote out where I saw our lives five and ten years from now. Among other things, I saw us being business owners, investing in real estate to flip, and eventually putting our children through college with money we’ve saved. I had always said that I didn’t want Finn and Reese to have the weight of student loans when they graduated, but I also joked that I’d still be paying off my college by the time they went to school.

It dawned on me that many of my five, ten, twenty year goals required financial freedom. So one day on my walk I turned on Dave Ramsey’s podcast and realized that within two years, David and I could be completely free from debt.

When I brought this idea back to my husband, he thought I was crazy – and he still does. However, when I told him why I wanted to get rid of our debt, he started to see the bigger picture. He listened to a few of the podcasts and started to realize that it was possible as long as we started to pay attention.

I called my mom later that day and asked her to buy us Financial Peace University as an early anniversary gift. Much to David’s chagrin, we sat down that night at watched the lesson on budgeting and then about getting debt free. Afterwards, David got up, grabbed our credit cards and cut them in half. That night we were able to pay off two of our smallest debts with money we had in savings. It was game on.

We’ve been working this plan for about three months now. The first two months we sucked at budgeting! This month, our primary focus is to stay on budget with the idea being that we know where every single dollar is going each month, and anything extra goes to pay off debt. As I mentioned earlier, with today’s calculations, we will be debt free in two years!

I don’t know if I’m comfortable talking about how much debt we have at this point, simply because there’s a lot of shame associated with it. I know when the day comes that we pay it all off, I will gladly share how much debt we no longer have. At this point, we are fairly “normal” – car payments, credit cards and student loans. We will have both cars paid off before the end of the year!

By focusing on our finances, David and I have had to have a lot of tough conversations. We also know there will be a lot of sacrifice in the coming years, but by the time Finn goes to kindergarten our lives will look dramatically different!

I will be sharing more of our #DebtFreeJourney over the coming months. I’ve learned so much about finances, investing, and budgeting. However the biggest thing for us is the why! When we see our future it’s full of fun vacations and great experiences! We are willing to sacrifice now for all of that down the road.

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Four Years

two year wedding anniversary

Somehow, four years have come and gone, and here we are celebrating another anniversary. Marriage is a funny thing – it starts with all the anticipation and celebration of the biggest day of your life, but in reality, marriage is built on all those small moments, the mundane, the very average.

There have been plenty of big moments in the past four years – a positive pregnancy test, the birth of our son, the purchase of our first home, another positive pregnancy test, the birth of our daughter, the start of new businesses, vacations, trips, other’s celebrations.

But my favorite moments with you, David, are those that aren’t very memorable at all. The chaos of surviving witching hour, the silly, mindless shows we share, the long car rides, the lunch dates, the inside jokes.

I’ve never felt more content than I do right now and all of that is because of you. I couldn’t ask for a better partner, someone to learn and grow with. You are simply the best! Happy anniversary, my love.

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How To Get Sh*t Done

productivity hacks
photos by naomi johnson

Motivation. Ambition. Avoiding procrastination. Feeling accomplished. Productivity.

Are these feelings as fleeting for you as they are for me?

As I enter my six month of self-employment, I’ve had to come up with some new ways to keep myself motivated and to continue to work towards my goals. A year ago, if I gave myself a slack day, I would still come home with the same paycheck as the previous week. Now, if I don’t get work done, I don’t make money at all. If that’s not a motivator in itself, I don’t know what is.

However, in the moments when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels or when you’d just rather take a nap, what keeps you going? It’s easy when you land the client or when you send your invoice out, but what about all of those other mundane moments?

productivity hacks

Goal Tracking

The idea of setting goals is not foreign to me. However, the idea of working towards them is. Goals for me were always somewhat attainable – graduate college, get a job, buy a house. These may have taken longer than expected, but they happened. The reason? I was intentional about them. And they probably would have happened faster had I tracked my progress along the way.

Goal tracking is now one of my favorite things to do.

Each month, I write down a list of things I want to accomplish in the next four weeks. I get really specific…and I include every single aspect of my life. Here’s an example of my goals for the month of July:

Scout Creative

  • Land two new clients
  • Be set up to earn $5,000 in August
  • Write one blog post each Wednesday
  • Grow my email list by 10%

Simple and Inspired

  • Grow pageviews by 10% of last month
  • Grow Instagram to over 3000 followers
  • Get one new partnership with a brand

Kids

  • Get Finn enrolled in preschool
  • Get Reese to take a bottle
  • Be patient and rational

Me

  • Stick to marathon training
  • Drink water

Marriage

  • Stay within budget
  • Pay off next debt
  • Be an excellent wife
  • Read new book

I have these goals written down in my monthly planner. Every morning I revisit them. I check in to see if I’ve made any progress or accomplished any. I then create a list for my day based on my monthly goals. This list is a to-do of sorts that will help get me closer to achieving the goals. Sometimes, the goal has an actionable item, other times, it causes me to pause and think first. Either way, I make sure that by month’s end, I’ve accomplished as much, if not all, of the items on my list.

productivity hacks

Staying Accountable

Being accountable for these goals is solely up to me. And truly, if I don’t feel like it, then I don’t need to do anything. But where’s the fun in that?

In addition to monthly goals, I have my yearly goals, five year goals and even ten year goals. When I first decided to become self-employed, I read a lot of professional development books that encouraged me to do this. I started “dreaming in HD” and writing down my future as specifically as I can think of it! It sounds corny, but it’s actually fun to do. I know each day, my small list of five items gets me closer to each of those bigger goals, and that’s pretty exciting, too.

productivity hacks

Set the Scene

When I’m not feeling motivated by my goals alone, I like to set the scene. This usually consists of a big cup of coffee, a snack, some familiar music, and a table and chair with a back on it. A simple change of scenery does my mind good.

I like to diffuse my essenital oils – usually motivation or a citrus blend – and set a timer for 20 minutes. I dive into work for that amount of time, and usually, when the timer is up, I’m so engulfed in what I’m doing I continue to be productive. It’s a little mind trick I play on myself! I do it when I go running, too. I tell myself that if I just get a little bit further, I can stop to run. But by the time I get further, I want to keep going to see how much more I can run!

Rest

This may seem counter intuitive, but nothing makes me more productive than a day of rest. Sometimes, I beat myself up so much just to get something accomplished, that I stress out and get absolutely nothing done instead. However, after a day of resting and not thinking about work, one of two things happen: either I feel guilty that I didn’t get work done and work harder to make up for it, or I feel refreshed and focused and ready to take on anything!

What are you tips for staying motivated?

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What My Day Looks Like As A Work At Home Mom

work at home mom

I’m currently writing this from a coffee shop. I’m alone. This is just one of the five or six times in the past six and a half months that I have been alone. Since Reese refuses a bottle (and to be honest I haven’t even tried to give her one in about two months) she comes everywhere with me. Business meetings. Workouts. Grocery shopping. We are basically two peas in a pod.

This morning I had a meeting and my in-laws have both the kids. I expect they will text me soon letting me know that Reese has woken up and I’ll head over to their house, nurse my babe, and continue on with my day.

Today is an exception. Most days I don’t get this break.

I have connected with a lot of work at home moms in the past few months. It’s a unique situation to be in. I guess, technically, I’m a stay at home mom, but I’m also a working mom. I’m grateful for technology to be able to do this.

Most days I wake up around 6am with David. If I’m lucky, Reese is still asleep and I get to enjoy a cup of coffee in bed while chatting with my husband. Some days she wakes up and joins us.

By 7am, Finn is awake. David goes to the gym some mornings, so I’ll take Finn into school and then go for a long walk with Reese. We will listen to audiobooks or podcasts and I usually get super motivated and clear minded on these walks.

If David doesn’t go to the gym, he takes Finn to school and I get right to work. On Fridays, and every other Wednesday, Finn is home with me!

I try to start my day with a shower. I was skipping this simple step for a while, but I found that I was more productive when I got myself up and dressed. This usually happens during Reese’s first nap.

Then I get to work. I answer emails, write blog posts, work through other stuff until Reese wakes up. I feed her and we play for a while. When Reese is awake, I like to spend quality time with her. The work goes away and I’m present with her.

When she goes back down for a nap, I get to work again. Whatever needs to get done, gets done. She usually naps for about 1.5-2 hours, so it’s a good chunk of time, but I rarely feel like I’ve done enough.

After her second nap, she is usually up until bedtime, so there’s about a 3.5 hour span of keeping her happy and content. Sometimes she will swing or play quietly and I’ll be able to finish up a few things.

work at home mom

David and Finn get home around 5pm and this is when the crazy starts. We cram dinner and baths in all during the witching hour – when Reese and Finn are the most cranky! It’s hectic and it’s usually non-stop until 6:30pm when Reese goes to bed for the night.

Finn stays up until 7:30-8pm. We let him watch a little television and we spend one-on-one time with him. After he goes to sleep, my computer usually comes back out again for a few hours. Other days, David and I watch a show or chat and get our quality time in.

I dream feed Reese around 9:30pm, and then try to be in bed by 10pm. I don’t get much downtime anymore, but this schedule has been working for us. I love the flexibility of being able to do work when I feel most productive, which often times isn’t between the hours of 9 and 5. I also love that I have the flexibility to work out or to go grocery shopping or even take a nap if I need one!

I’m essentially doing two jobs at once these days, and my heart is so full because of that! I feel like I have the balance I craved when I working in an office.

Are you a work at home mom? How do you structure your days?

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Our Experience With Potty Training

potty training

Head’s up: I’m not writing this post to brag or to tell everyone the way to potty train their kid. I’m writing this because while we were potty training Finn, I found myself reading other people’s experiences to see what would work for us! I want to share how we potty trained so that it might help someone else or give ideas to another family on different ways to tackle this!

Finn is the best kid. Since he was a baby, he took big transitions in stride – he took a bottle easily. He switched over to a sippy cup easily. He even transitioned himself out of the crib without a fuss! We have basically been on cruise control with him. We knew potty training was going to be the next big transition, and even though he adjusted to everything so well in the past, potty training scared the crap out of me. (Pun intended).

There were several variables here – first, Reese was new to our family, so although I wanted to get him potty trained before she was born, I also feared that he would regress as soon as she arrived. Plus, I couldn’t quite muster up the energy while I was pregnant. Second, he was going to daycare full-time, and although we would take our own approach, his teachers also would need to be in on it, so I needed their support.

We started off slowly. Finn was home with Reese and I for the month of December. He was about 2.5 years old at this point. I took this opportunity to introduce the toilet to him and put underwear on him whenever we were at home. This, you can imagine, resulted in a lot of laundry. But I figured since we were all at home, it was worth it. We had him pick out the underwear he wanted and that helped him get excited about wearing them.

In those first few weeks of trying, Finn showed little interest. I knew from some research that if he wasn’t interested, there was no point in pushing it. Fast forward a few months, and we started asking more and more about going pee on the potty. Sometimes he would oblige, other times he wouldn’t. Still, we kept the mindset that he would do it when he was ready.

In early April, Finn had a few days off from daycare. I decided to use that time to really push the issue. He was ready. He was talking about it, and there were less and less accidents. So for three days I didn’t put a diaper on him (besides nap time and bed time) and besides one incident early in the first day, he went on the toilet every time! We didn’t leave the house much those three days, and when we did, he wore a pull-up.

I made a Potty Chart and hung it on the wall near his bathroom. The chart had a column for “Tried“, “Pee” and “Poop“. Each time he tried or successfully went, he got a sticker. This kept it exciting for him!

The bad news? He didn’t go number two for three days! I knew he had to go, but I also knew it was a brand new experience. Again, I didn’t want to pressure him, so I would just bring it up every now and then.

I knew going number two was going to be tough, so before we started potty training, we asked him what he wanted if he went poop on the potty. He told us he wanted a toy lion and toy hippo. So, we kept reminding him that if he went poop on the potty, that’s exactly what he would get.

He sat on the potty several times before it actually happened. I credit my in-laws for the first poop. He was at their house and they noticed he was starting to go, so they moved him onto the toilet halfway. Later that night he went on the potty at home, and since then, there have been zero poopy accidents! We took him to get his lion and hippo later that week!

Initially, we still kept pull-ups on him when he went to daycare. This lasted about a month or so and he would come home wet. So we finally sent him in underwear, and a few extra pairs just in case, and he’s been doing great!

A couple notes:

  • Finn was almost three when we really gave it the ole college try!
  • He still has accidents every now and then, and we constantly have to ask him if he has to go, but they are getting fewer and farther between
  • He still wears a pull-up to bed and for nap time, although the last few nights he has been waking up and calling for us to let us know he has to go! (He has a rail on his bed so he can’t get out himself.)
  • Like any little boy, he prefers to pee outside.
  • We did buy him a potty seat, but he doesn’t like to use it much.
  • When we are out in public, I usually just hold him over the toilet and let him go rather than having him touch all over the seat himself. Yuck.

Mamas – how was your experience potty training? Any funny stories?

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