Why You Should Start the New Year on a Budget – and a Giveaway!

everydollar app

I know we are still a few weeks from Christmas, but this time of year has me starting to wish for normalcy again. Ha! The craziness of the holidays is a welcome change, don’t get me wrong, but in my old age, I’ve become a fan of routine, and I’m already yearning for the simple days of January when everything is fresh and new, and resolutions actually mean something.

Listen, I love the holidays as much as the next person, but the stress around them is something I’ve never been okay with. This year, I’m paying even more attention to the money we are spending on Christmas. Since starting our debt free journey, our monthly budget has been a key factor is our success.

I wrote a blog post about how we budget, but I think it’s even more important to talk about the why.

You see, the why behind your goals and the way you live your life is ultimately the motivation as to if you will succeed or not. The why needs to be powerful, something that you value above money. When we first started our debt free journey, my why was to get in control. But that didn’t get me past the moment we finally got in control. I needed to dig deeper.

As I started changing my perspective and listening to other people’s stories, I realized that by getting in control of our money, it allowed us to think beyond the next week or six months. David and I started dreaming about a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now. We wrote our dreams down, and these dreams have since become goals.

Right now, we are on Baby Step Two – getting out of debt. I’ve had to come to terms with the shame that comes with having all of this debt, especially since more than the majority is from my student loans. However, in the six months since we’ve started budgeting and prioritizing paying off debt, we have paid off almost $15,000!

This was all possible because we started to dream. Our dreams became bigger than our daily purchases.

So, are you curious as to what our dreams look like?

I’ll save the specifics for a later post, but ultimately, we are debt free, we live in a specific color home with a huge front porch and a fireplace outside, my business is thriving, David travels to fish around the world, and our kids are happy. Oh, and our kids don’t have to worry about paying for college, cause we’ve got that under control.

The EveryDollar App

I want to help make your budgeting experience as easy as possible. I’ve teamed up with the EveryDollar team at Ramsey Solutions to give one of you a subscription to the EveryDollar app. This is the exact budgeting tool David and I use and absolutely love. It’s so simple, and it connects with your bank account (securely) so there is no need for manual entries. Also, there is a free version of the app that doesn’t connect to your bank account, but is still helpful in setting up your budget each month!

If you check out my Instagram stories later today, I’ll be walking through how we make our budget each month.

Here’s how the giveaway works – you will receive one entry for each of the following:

‘Like’ Simple and Inspired on Facebook – here

Follow me on Instagram – here

Like three of my last Instagram photos – here

Comment on this blog post below

Signup for Simple and Inspired’s newsletter – here

Winner will be contacted on Thursday, December 12th. Good luck!

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My First Half Marathon

On Sunday I completed my first half marathon! In fact, besides a 5K I ran in college, this was my first ever race, period!

The Goal

I’ve wanted to run a race of any distance ever since my older sister completed a marathon in 2006. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and knew if she could do it, so could I.

It only took me 13 years to get around to completing this goal. HA!

But like anything, I like to think about the journey that got me here. In 2006, I was a college athlete, and although I was probably in the best shape of my life, running a race was something I would do in the future, not right away. In the years following, I went through a tough breakup that shook my life in a way I only realized once I got on the other side of it. I was incredibly unhealthy and the last thing on my mind was completing a silly goal that I had once set.

After college, I just wanted to get away from my hometown. I went through years and years of soul-searching, none of it with any true intention. I think this is just what your twenties are – a decade of just trying to figure it out.

It wasn’t until after Reese was born that I decided to start looking back on all these goals that I had set for myself that I had made excuses for and never completed.

Some of these include:

  • Start my own business
  • Pay off my student loans
  • Run a race

The Mindset

I’ve touched on this before, but having Reese truly gave me a sense of strength that I didn’t know I had before. I don’t want to let my children or my husband down. I want to provide a great life for them, and I want to show them what hard work looks like.

Early in my journey of personal development I read something that essentially said that if you break a promise to yourself, you might as well break promises to everyone else in your life, too. (They said it much more eloquently and effectively, but the message is the same). YOU should be your priority, because if your cup is full, then you can fill up everyone around you.

So I wrote down my goals and on it was to run a marathon.

The Leadup

I started looking up races in the spring. Initially I wanted to run the Marine Corps Marathon and even went as far as finding a team to sponsor me. It became clear pretty early on that training and running a full marathon was just not going to happen while Reese was still breastfeeding. The time alone it would take for me to train would not work out logistically.

At first, I let this be my excuse. But in August, I decided to start jogging again – the first time in 18 months that I had actually run. I remembered how much I loved it and I started searching for races again. I found the Charlottesville Fall Classic Half Marathon and 10K and put it on my calendar.

Training was going great, until the longer runs started getting interrupted for one reason or another. Once again, I was going to let this be an excuse. Throughout training I only ran 6.5 miles at one time. I figured that I’d just run the 10K (not that it’s just a 10K, but it wasn’t the goal I had set out to complete.)

On the Friday before the race, I went to register and it was as it my brain would not let me forget the promise I had made to myself. I had set out to run the half marathon, so that’s what I signed up to do.

The Race

I was extremely nervous the morning of the race, but I kept telling myself that I was prepared mentally. I wasn’t racing anyone except the own doubt in my head.

As I started running I was beating my splits that I had set in training and I decided to slow down a bit, simply to sustain the energy I had. The first five miles felt great! At mile 6 I realized I was now surpassing my longest run EVER. And then at mile 7, the leaders of the race started looping back and passing me. I started to feel defeated, but quickly reminded myself of my goal – just finish. I had to push my competitiveness aside.

At mile 8 I saw my family! My husband, my kids, my sister and niece and brother-in-law, my mom and my sister-in-law. It was the boost I needed. Those middle miles were mentally tough.

But it was the last two miles that were physically tough. I wanted to stop so badly but I never did. I knew if my legs stopped moving, they wouldn’t start again. I just kept telling myself to move forward. I had given birth to two babies, and that was much harder than this race.

The Reflection

A day after finishing, I’m extremely sore. I want to downplay my success and say, yeah, yeah people run half marathons every day but that’s not fair to what I actually accomplished! I ran the longest distance of my life within a year of giving birth to my second baby. While still breastfeeding! After having reason after reason to quit. I chose to do the hard thing, to overcome my own doubt. I truly believe that if your head is in it, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

So, I ask you… what’s your next goal that you’re going to accomplish? What are you doing today to get yourself closer to that goal?

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Finn’s Preschool Experience – A Month In

Finn has been in preschool for a little over a month and we are so happy with where he is! We’ve seen such a positive change in him and it seems like overnight he has grown into a little man.

Our journey to Finn’s preschool was a little crazy! After I left my job in January, we kept Finn in daycare full time to ease his transition of having a new baby at home. After a few months, we decided to only send him to daycare three days a week, since afterall, my main motivation for quitting my job was to spend more time with my kids. I’m glad I allowed myself a few months to bond with just Reese, however, and Finn did exceptional as well.

Around July, I started to feel like daycare wasn’t the best fit for us anymore. We felt like we were sending him to a babysitter, and we felt like he could use more structure and consistency in a learning environment. I asked around to mom friends as to where they had sent their three year olds, and we did a little research.

I was very discouraged at first since many preschools in our area had started enrollment over a year prior! I emailed our top four choices, based on recommendations from people we trust. Out of the four we emailed, two had openings! We scheduled tours right away.

When we toured the first one, we felt good about it, but still felt a need to check out the other one. David was iffy about sending Finn to preschool, thinking that we were abruptly changing his routine again. I had some of the same hesitations, but I also thought there was no point in paying for fulltime daycare when I wanted to be home with the kids!

As we toured the preschool, all of our worries were put at ease. The director was so kind and patient. The classrooms were exactly how we imagined. And the curriculum – there was actually a curriculum!

When we walked out of the tour and immediately knew that’s where we were going to send our kids! We enrolled on the spot!

It truly was an overwhelming feeling of comfort and belonging that made the decision so easy for us. We loved that the parents are encouraged to bond and know each other. We loved that the teachers were actual teachers! We loved the routine and the location.

Finn attends his preschool Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 9am-12pm. Since his school is affiliated with a church, he goes to chapel once a week to learn about God’s love – which is the sweetest thing ever! (He comes home and tells us that God lives upstairs!) Every other day, he has a ‘job’ to do at school – table wiper, line leader, weatherman, etc. They have a little snack each day and parents are encouraged to stop in whenever!

We’ve been so thrilled with our experience so far. The teachers are incredibly sweet and Finn has not fought us on going – not once! (This wasn’t the case with daycare!) We truly feel like he is where he belongs!

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10 Things People Don’t Tell You About Becoming A Mom

  1. You won’t know what to do with free time if you actually get some. Once you finally breathe a little air after the newborn stage and you are comfortable enough to leave your baby with someone else and get out and do things, free time becomes more of a chore, at least that’s how I feel. I don’t remember what I used to do with my Saturday mornings or evenings after work before I had kids. Now, if I do get an hour to myself, I feel completely lost. I don’t know what to do with myself. In all honesty, I’d probably rather be sleeping, or watching crappy TV, or drive around in the car listening to music I actually want to listen to. But I always feel like I should be doing something, and that’s a lot of pressure! I’ve realized that when I do have those moments, it’s totally okay to do nothing and enjoy it. Because, seriously, I never get to do nothing.
  2. If you weren’t money-concious before, having babies will make you want to become aware of every cent you earn and spend. I’ve become obsessed with our finances, and David gets so annoyed! Ha! But I’ve realized that the decisions we make today will affect Finn and Reese’s future tremendously. I want to feel secure, aware, knowledgeable and in charge of our finances. I want to know that they will never have to take out school loans. I want to be able to buy them a car on their 16th birthday. I want to give them a life full of adventure and we cannot do that without being intentional with our money.
  3. Your hormones will drive you nutty for years. I’m 10 months postpartum right now and, although that seems like a long time, I still have to remind myself that hormones essentially rule my life. I’m still breastfeeding, which makes your hormones go wacky. Plus, growing and giving birth to a baby is no small feat. It tooks me a good two years to feel back to “normal” after Finn, and then I got pregnant again. It’s nothing crazy, just a lot of PMS symptoms – moodiness and irratability – but I know it’s hormones because, strangely, I can feel it in my lower stomach, as if my uterus is still pumping hormones out on the daily. Don’t anyone ever tell you that being a woman ain’t fun!
  4. You gain an entirely new level of pride. I think every parent can relate to this. When I heard Finn’s first word, when Reese finally figured out how to scoot across the floor. When Finn makes new friends on the playground or asks if someone is ok. When Reese smiles. Gosh, there is no better feeling than watching your little people become little people.
  5. You stop giving a shit about what other people think. FINALLY! You cant stop caring about the opinions of others! But really, there’s something about motherhood that just gives you the confidence you’ve always needed. It was as if I used to just wish I could do things, and once I became a mom, I was like “why the hell not?”.
  6. Your anxiety will go through the roof. You know those moments of free time that you don’t know what to do with? Well, you’ll likely just worry the entire time about your kids anyways. We’ve gone away a handful of times since Finn was born, and each time I had to actively try to not be anxious about leaving him behind. Just remember – they are in good hands. You are not a bad mom for leaving. You miss them more than they miss you.
  7. Mom guilt is crippling. Mom shaming is real. People are mean enough. You don’t have to be your harshest critic. You will second guess every decision, but remember that God gave you you’re children because He knew that you would be the best mama to them. You deserve a day off or some time alone, because at the end of the day that’s what will make you the best mom you can be.
  8. You realize no one really knows what the hell they are doing. Remember when you were little and you thought your parents knew everything? Isn’t it funny to realize that now you’re the parent and you know absolutely nothing?! Yeah, neither does anyone else!
  9. Family becomes even more important. I don’t think I love anything more than watching my mom, dad and sisters with my kids. I love watching David’s family fall in love with Finn and Reese. I love watching the relationships they have with one another. I truly couldn’t do this mom thing without my support system, and I’m so beyond grateful for each one of them.
  10. Life gets good. Really good. You thought life was good before? Ha! There’s truly nothing greater than watching your kids grow up, watching them bond as siblings, watching your husband become a dad. I’ve never been so content, my heart has never been so full. Life is crazy every single day, and I truly love every little bit.
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Reese at Ten Months Old

Ten months of Reese. I love our little girl so much! I have spent every single day of her life with her and I feel so blessed to be able to do that. Reese’s first ten months have gone by so much faster than I ever thought they would. It’s unbelieveable to me how quickly babies change. The day she was born I remember thinking how small she was, especially compared to Finn at the time! Now, she’s a hefty twenty pounds of constant movement. She’s got a little personality. I want time to slow down.

Parenting:

Listen, you’re never truly prepared to be a parent. On top of that, when you start hitting your groove with things, something changes – developmental leaps, teething, growth spurts. I’ve learned that I’ve got to take things day to day. Generally, Reese is a super easy baby, but like all of us, she has her moments. Sometimes these moments throw a curve ball, sometimes I learn to go with them. Each day is very different, and yet I feel like I do the same thing over and over again.

I’ve told everyone I come into contact with that becoming a mother has truly fulfilled my life. It’s given me confidence and made me take risks I never thought I would. The older my kids get, especially Reese, the more I get excited about the next chapters in our lives. I love being a mom, and I don’t want that feeling to change. I think the reason I feel so content right now is simply because I have a balance in my life that I craved so badly a year ago. I have my work. I have my kids. I have my husband. And I have my “me” time.

Physical Growth:

Reese is twenty pounds, and in the 80th percentile for both her height and head circumference. She is finally crawling and getting into everything. She’s pulling up on the couch, chairs, her walker, everything.

Reese is slowly growing hair, and it’s blonde with a red tint, just like her brothers was at her age.

Brain Growth:

Reese is finally over her stranger danger phase. She loves to babble all day long, and certainly likes to throw a fit. She’s quite the diva! She gets frustrated that she can’t move as quickly as she wants, but she is getting better every day. She loves watching and taking everything in!

Sleeping:

Reese goes down between 6:30 and 7pm, and sleeps until 6:30-7am the next morning. I’m still dream feeding her around 10pm and she usually wakes up one more time in the night to nurse.

She also naps twice each day for about two hours each time.

Eating:

Our chunky monkey loves to eat! Her nursing schedule is a little inconsistent based on the day, but she nurses when she wakes up and goes to bed, and then twice more throughout the day.

As for solids, Reese eats three meals a day. She loves purees and yogurt, but from the start we basically gave her little bits of solid food and she’s eaten anything we put in front of her. Some of her favorites are waffles, blueberries, and puffs!

Things I don’t want to forget:

  • The way Reese scoots around the floor trying to figure out what to do with her second foot when she crawls.
  • The way she puts her arms out for Daddy to grab her when he gets home.
  • The squeal she lets out when she gets excited!
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