Monday, January 5, 2015

IT "CENTS" TO ME FOR MONDAY - JANUARY 5th

Hello everyone and Happy Monday,

How are you all today?  I am doing well. The crazy busy holiday season at work has slowed down some. Although, there's still some mess that we're trying to clean up from that. I also have inventory coming up at the end of this week. That means I will literally be working from 9 p.m. on Friday until 6 a.m. on Saturday counting things.  I'll be super tired....but then I won't have to work again till the following Monday.

Okay, so one of my BIG goals for this year is create a home management binder that I can record all my finances, goals etc. I really need to get my budget under control this year. I don't overspend. I always live within my means, but I'm not a good saver. So I'm getting better at that this year. Plus, my BIG BIG goal is to really make a dent in paying off my student loans.

It may take me awhile, but once I pay off student loans and my car, I'll be completely and totally 100% debt free :)  I'll be blogging about that more specifically soon, because it's on my heart to do that as a way to motivate myself, keep myself accountable and hopefully encourage others that no matter where you're at financially, there is always something you can do, even if it's just a small step (like using a cash envelope system) to improve your financial situation.

Why am I doing this?  I want to be able to give big and to give without hesitation and participate in ministry opportunities as they come up. I can't do much of that, because of this financial burden that hangs over me...but also, I just don't like having that weight on my shoulders.

I am a fan of Dave Ramsey. Click here to go to his website or click here to go to his page on Facebook. I don't even remember how I first heard about him. It's been quite a few years now, but I do remember somehow getting a copy of the book "The Total Money Makeover" and it changed my life and set me on a path of working towards being completely and totally debt free. 

I suppose everyone has to make their own choices and for me, this is the right path to follow and it hasn't been easy.  I stopped using credit cards in 2003 and finally paid off all of my credit card debt in 2007. That's another story for another time, too...but wow, it was HARD WORK...but oh so worth it, because when I sent in that final check and paid it all off, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I felt so free. 

I'll show you all a few pictures of my home management binder in just a moment, but two other websites that have been so helpful and encouraging to me are The Budget Mama and Money Saving Mom.  I'm not married, nor am I a mother, BUT I have found these sites along with quite a few others to be invaluable and so encouraging in my journey towards being a better steward of my money and towards getting out of debt once and for all.  If you do visit either page, please tell the nice ladies there that I sent you :) :)

I've always had some sort of planner in the past but I never really used them. However, I have found the desire to keep a written record of my finances and just being organized, in general, to be really helpful in keeping myself on track, creating more time in my day etc.

I needed a new planner, but I couldn't afford to pay the cost for a new one and certainly not even one of those really fancy ones that come in PDF format, where you can print out whatever pages you want. Although they are fantastic and worth every penny, in my opinion. My heart's desire this year is to live as frugally as possible and only spend money when I absolutely have to. Fortunately for me, I did find a couple of sites that offered some free, very basic but extremely useful printables which I promptly downloaded and printed out. 

The only one I actually paid for was a really basic, but extremely useful home management binder from Sheri Graham called The Intentional Planner. A one year subscription only costs me $5 and I can download all the files for this year that I want. It's designed for someone who is a homeschooling parent, but many of the categories are useful for anyone, including finances, setting goals, blogging, daily and monthly calendars etc.

This is what the front of my planner looks like. I was able to edit the PDF file and call it "Heather's Home Companion".  I reused a pink three-ring binder that I received from a women's Bible study a few years ago and probably saved myself at least $5 by doing that instead of buying a new one.





I have the daily and monthly pages located in the front of the binder. I like having an entire day on a page AND having an entire month at a glance spread out over two pages. I like having an entire day on a page, so I have lots of space for writing out details of my day, what I spent, goals, memory verse or  whatever else I need to keep track of. Having a month spread out over two pages is also helpful for me, because I like to write down when my bills are due and when I get paid. It helps to have a literal visual, so I know exactly what bills need to come out of which paycheck.



 
I haven't settled on which day on a page style I like yet. So I'm using the one from the Intentional Planner and also one that was a free download from Ann Voskamp's website "A Holy Experience" As soon as I find the link for the latter, I'll come back and post it here.  I don't need anything overcomplicated. This is easy, practical and it's got a bit of beauty added which is always a plus :)  I actually forgot I had these. It was fun to find these again.




 
Also, as part of my goal of keeping  a record of my finances, goals etc. I am also keeping track of things I'm thankful for each year. I am participating in the Joy Dare / Count 1,000 Gifts over at Ann Voskamp's site "A Holy Experience" The easiest way to find out more about that is to click here and visit her page on Facebook or here to visit the page that goes with the book "One Thousand Gifts"

It's so important to me to remind myself to be grateful for all of the blessings that God has given me - big and small and to remember to find joy even in the most ordinary of things. So I've been participating in the Joy Dare as much as possible, and writing down things I'm thankful for - anything that makes me smile, laugh etc. 


I also happened to find this printout that a lady in my church Bible study printed on her home computer a long time ago. It's a monthly challenge to write down at least one thing that we're thankful for everyday. It's also from Ann Voskamp's website "A Holy Experience" .  I don't know if this particular download is available any longer, but I sure am glad that I didn't throw it out. 






This is what the inside looks like. As it happens, I have January in front, so I better get started. I've been faithful to keep up with each day's Joy Dare, but I don't think you can ever be too thankful for things or to seek joy in the everyday things of life. Take it all and look back at the end of the year and say "Wow, God really has done a lot. I have a blessed life" :) :) :)





That's a good start for now. As I start using my "home companion" a little bit more, I'll let you know how it's working out. I'll give you a review at the beginning of February, plus maybe a few more sneak peaks into how I like to organize my single life on paper. 

That brings up a random thought.  I am single and have never been married.  One of my dreams is to be a wife and mother, but it all has to happen in God's timing, because He knows best and He clearly knows how to give the best gifts, Amen? :) :) :) So while I'm waiting for that, there's nothing that says I can't work on my homemaking skills right now.

I'm not just talking about cooking and sewing etc...but also really incorporating faith into every aspect of my life and how I decorate my home etc. One of my heart's desire's is to make whatever place I call home, a real place of hospitality - biblical hospitality. I'm not even sure how to define that other than I know it's more than just about the "stuff" It's about people. I want my home to be a place where people feel welcomes and encouraged and that they leave happier than when the arrived at my door.

Oh, the wheels of ideas are spinning. I need to get all of my ideas down on paper. God is so creative and He's created us with creative minds and talents to use to love on and serve others and for His glory :) :)

Alrighty, friends,  that is the news from the ocean shores of California today.

Extra love and hugs for the New Year,

Heather

p.s. I also participate in a fun daily photo challenge with the nice ladies over at Middle Places.  Click here to visit their blog. I found this group purely by chance while looking for a fun daily photo challenge to participate in. It has turned out to be such a delightful group of women bloggers. I'd encourage you to check it out.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

IT MAKES "CENTS" TO ME for MONDAY - DECEMBER 22nd

Hi everyone,

How are you? I've got a little bit of a cold, which has made working this crazy retail season a little challenging. I am resting a lot and drinking lots of fluids.  Thankfully, I'm making it so far :)

Have you noticed that gas prices have been dropping in your area? I have. I haven't been keeping track of prices, but I think gas is less than $3 a gallon in my area.  I was at exactly a half tank of gas.  So I drove to Whole Foods, bought a Sunday paper and got $20 cash back to fill up the tank...and based on my previous experience at the gas station, I "knew" that $20 wouldn't fill it up. Well, I guess there's a first time for everything.  Not only was the $20 more than enough. It only cost me $17 to fill up a half-tank and get it above the "full" line.

Here's a pic of me looking across the street at another gas station and thinking, I really am glad to have money to put gas in the car.  Now I have $3 dollars left over. What will I do with it? I will put it into my cash envelope and specifically the one marked for "gasoline"...so I'll have a fund ready to go for the next time I need to fill up.



























After work, I needed to do a little bit of shopping. One thing I always ask myself lately is 1)Do I really need it? 2) Is there something I have at home that can fulfill the "need" that I have until I can afford to pay for the item I want?  Well, I had two things on my list - new heavy duty black socks to wear while I"m at work and a contour make-up brush. 

I decided the contour make-up brush could wait, because I have another brush that can serve the same purpose. However, I really needed the socks. They seem to get lost all on their own.  I ended up buying a set of 6 pairs of Gold Toe heavy duty cotton black socks. They are guys socks, but I love them because they're so comfortable. It's the perfect thing to put on my feet when I'm spending all day on the sales floor at work. It makes being on my feet so much easier. When my feet are comfortable, I can work better :)

This is what I ended up purchasing last night after work.




























I needed the socks and I knew that I'd get my 20% employee discount. What I forgot about is that they were also eligible with a 20% off coupon. The socks originally cost $20 for  set of six. With taxes it would have cost $21.50. When I got to the register, the associate reminded me that I could use a coupon. That was a really nice surprise. That's $4 extra dollars that I saved....that translates to eggs, bread, or some coffee or a gallon of gas...or something like that...so with the coupon and my employee discount, it ended up only costing me $13.76 with tax.

That represents a savings of 36% off of the original price. I'm happy with that.  I'm very happy with that :) :) 


What are some things that you've saved money on lately that brought a smile to your face? 

Oh, after work, I went for an ocean drive with my father. I was wiped out after a super busy sales day. It was a beautiful evening and it was still just light enough to see some things. I loved driving past Old Fisherman's Wharf because the lights from the buildings were dancing off the surface of the water...just beautiful :)





























I've got three more work days before Christmas and then things will slow down just a bit before New Year's Day :) :) :) 

I plan on going out for coffee and a visit to Asilomar State Beach on Christmas day. What about you all? If you celebrate Christmas or some other holidays, what plans do you have?

I pray that you will all have a very Happy Holidays!!!!  That is the news from the ocean shores of California today.

Love and hugs,  Heather :) :) :)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

FANCY BEAUTIFUL CASH-ENVELOPE SYSTEM WALLET

Hi everyone :) :) :)

How are you tonight? I was going to wait until Monday to share this. Then I decided to post this tonight. I work in retail and tomorrow is going to be a very L-O-N-G day.  I'll be working for a full 9 hours.  

One of the things that I'll be ressurecting again are my "It makes "cents" to me Friday" posts.  One of my BIG goals is to be completely and 100% debt free.  So I'll probably be blogging about that at some point. However, I'll also be talking about how I live as a single person on a very tight budget, how I get by etc...and it's mostly to keep myself accoutable by making it public....but hopefully it'll encourage you all, too. No matter what your financial situation is, there is always something you can do, even if it's just one small step. The point is that you are trying :) :) :) At least, that's how I look at it right now.

I'll be sharing links to various blogs that I follow that have encouraged me in my debt-free journey and learning how to manage my time and resources better.

One thing that I am learning to do is use a cash envelope system for various spending categories.  It's something I first heard about when I read Dave Ramsey's book "The Total Money Makeover" and "Financial Peace University" You can click on the link here to visit his website.  He's pretty hard core with his financial advice, BUT it's all with the goal to give you financial freedom....and so I find it very encouraging for me. Plus, I love listening to all the testimonials of people who've become debt free. It encourages me that it's possible for me to achieve the same goal.

Here's a photo of the cash envelope wallet that I got when I took a Financial Peace University Class last April. The blue one came in my kit. The burgundy one was gifted to me by my aunt. 






















The cash envelopes always include a little info on how to use them.  What's great is that you can choose the categories you want to create and I find the idea of budget for various categories is so smart. It will hopefully keep you from overspending.








































Plus, it includes a little spending log where you can record every time you spend money from a certain category. The idea being that you'll always know what you have available and once the money is gone, you don't spend anymore in that area, until you have a chance to put more money back into that particular spending category.








































Now there's a really cool blog/Facebook page that I follow called "A Time for Everything" You can click here to find Melissa's page on Facebook.

She makes some amazing cash divider wallets that are compatible with the Dave Ramsey cash envelope system. They're super functional and super cute.  I purchased her "carry it all" divider wallet. I waited an entire year before I purchased mine last January.  Click here for a description of what this wallet does. 

This is what my wallet looks like.  Melissa offers different, really fun and beautiful fabric pattern combinations.
  





















I also purchased the downloadable PDF file to print out my own spending logs to go inside my wallet.  It was only a few dollars and so worth it. I just printed out some color sheets and I've got a manilla envelope that I'll paste it on before I put them into my wallet. I'll save that little project for another blog post.
   





















This wallet comes with two divider sections, a place to put coins and it also holds my checkbook, too :) :) I've had this wallet for quite some time and never used it much until recently. So it's a discipline, for sure, but it's one that I'm going to get into the regular habit of doing everyday.
























The reason is because I've got a super tight budget.  so if I don't designate different spending categories, I won't be able to afford anything. I also just recently started a new job position at work that also included a raise. That's been a huge blessing, but I still want to make it a point to live within my means.  It's been difficult, but oh so worth it.  

I'm just doing the best I can to manage my money in a biblical way, while recognizing that I need to give myself a lot of grace and forgiveness and extend that to others who are dealing with struggles in this area.  I know that I have my own financial struggles of 1) how will I pay off my student loans once and for all 2) and still manage to help my dad and 3) find a place for us to live in September 2015. 

So that's where I guess an element of faith and trust steps in. I'm doing my best with what I have right now to manage my money God's way.  At the same time, I recognize that I'm having to trust God to provide in those areas when the time comes, and not worry about it, because that's in the future and all I can do is concern myself with today. Believe me, God gives us enough grace for this day. Then tomorrow, He'll give us the grace we need to get through tomorrow, including with budgeting struggles and challenges :) :) :)  There's more I could say about this, but it's late on a Sunday night and I'm mega tired :) :)

Well, I guess that's good enough for now. I'll be talking more about this in the future. I just wanted to introduce you to my cool fancy functional cash divider wallet :) :) :)

I'm still trying to figure out what spending categories I want to use my cash envelope wallet for specifically.  One thing I have to budget for is haircuts and getting my hair colored. I don't do either very often because of the expense, but it's still something I need. So that's one category that I budget for. I also budget for gas for my car.

Do you use a cash enevelope system or some other sort of budgeting system? If yes, what categories do you budget for?  I'd love to know what you do.

That is the news from the ocean shores of California today.  

Love and hugs,  Heather :) :) :)     

Friday, December 12, 2014

FEELING CRAFTY AGAIN !!!!

Hi everyone,

It feels good to be back again. I've been meaning to get a blog post up for awhile now and then life happened and I'd keep pushing it to the back burner. Well, after this past week, I decided I need to get my creative juices flowing again and just go for it :) :) I'm so sorry that I haven't posted anything in a long, long time !!!!

Here on the coast of California, we've been going through a super storm of sorts.  It was much worse in the San Francisco Bay area then it was here in Monterey, but we were prepared and well-informed via weather services on Facebook, radio, tv etc.

Today was my day off from work this week and I decided I wanted to have some crafty  fun.  Well, I didn't actually start a project, but I did find a few craft items that I was intentionally looking for and whole bunch of stuff that I hand't planned on. You know how it goes. There's hidden craft stashes everywhere in my house...LOL :) :) :)

Below is a photo of just a small fraction of what I found. I just threw it on the futon couch and took a photo. Tonight, I'll sort through it all and see what I what I can make out of all this stuff.

What prompted me to search for some craft items was my "Lace in the Attic" book. It's a whole book full of knitted Victorian lace edgings. I don't think the book is available in print anymore. My copy was purchased at a used book store years ago. Then I found all of this other stuff, including a finished pink lace edging that I had knit....probably to be used in a project for a shelf liner? I don't even remember now.  It would make a cute edging for a pillow case or something.

As I was going through my closet looking for some things, I decided to also go through my grandmother's old wooden sewing box.  It was something that I inherited after she passed away. One thing I remember using when I was a young girl, was this crimson red velvet pin cushion that her mother (my great-grandmother) had made using an old canning jar rim and ring. 

I took all the straight pins, and other things off of it, cleaned it up and put everything back on it. 



 It was really dusty from not having been used in years. In fact, I think the last time it was actively used was before my grandmother passed away in the mid-1990s.  Other than a little rust around the lower edge, it's still in great shape.  I always loved this pincushion and I have it on display on top of the wooden sewing box. 

I've always wanted to make my own and I will someday. However, I noticed that if it's made from an old canning jar rim, then maybe I have a glass Mason jar that would fit it?  Keep in mind, I have no idea just how old this pincushion is. I think my great-grandmother made it before my father was born, but I'm not entirely sure about that one.

In any case, I raided one of the cabinets in the kitchen, grabbed an empty wide-mouth glass Ball jar and voila, instant Mason jar/pin cushion thing....so cute and it was free :) :) :)  The lid doesn't screw down all the way, but enough that it'll work for this project of mine.  I think it looks cute, don't you?




Here's another view of my glass Ball jar with my great-grandmother's pincushion sitting nicely on top.

























That's my little craft project for the day. Oh wait, there is one other thing. You'll notice that my Ball jar pincushion is sitting on top of a white lacey curtain panel. I have two of those and they were purchased from Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic line at Target.  They were originally curtain panels, but I haven't used them since I moved back to the Monterey Bay peninsula. 

I am debating about what I can make with them. Here's a close up of the beautiful lacey edging. Any ideas?
























I couldn't bear to part with them because they're so lovely. They are a little faded and yellow with age, but I think with some loving care in the washing machine, they'll bounce back. 

That is the news from the ocean shores of a very rainy California coast today.  Please feel free to "visit" and leave a comment here on my page. I really do enjoy hearing from all of you :)  Love and hugs,  Heather :) :) :)

P.S. Do any of you know how I can change my font, so it's cuter and looks more like someone handwrote instead of it being a plain generic font like the one I'm using now? It's been such a long time, since I put up a blog post, I don't remember how to change the font anymore.

Also, I'll be in the very slow process of overhauling my blog by myself, until I can afford a professional service. I already have a great business in mind for that.  So there will be some changes coming to my blog, too, including changing the blog name and the photo header :) :) :)



















Sunday, February 23, 2014

HAPPY SON-DAY

Hi everyone,

I pray that you all are having a beautiful Sunday.  This is one of my favorite Scripture verses. It's been a favorite for a very long time for so many reasons.  Enjoy this Scripture photo. 

If you share it on your blogs and/or Facebook pages, please credit it back to me here at Heather's Blog-o-rama and/or to my public photography page on Facebook here at Heather Danielle Photography. Thanks, everyone. 
































I pray that this Scripture photo will be an encouragement to you today :)

That is the news from the ocean shores of California today.

Love and hugs,

Heather :) :) :)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

IT MAKES "CENTS" TO ME FOR FRIDAY - FEBRUARY 21st

Hi everyone,

Okay, so I know this is post is a day late, but I wanted to get this up tonight before I forget and then Sunday rolls around ;) :) :)

In my continuing effort to work on paying off my student loans and getting out of debt, I'll be going through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Class with some mentors.  Click here if you want to learn more about that. You can also visit the Dave Ramsey page on Facebook here.

I was on Facebook one day when I noticed this awesome little "cheat sheet" for remembering the baby steps to financial freedom. I originally saw this on the Dave Ramsey page on Facebook. Here is the handy reminder for those baby steps:







































So that is my plan. My goal is to reach Baby Step 7 within two years.  It's going to mean a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but I'm willing to do this, because the result will be worth it.

So I'll be talking about that once I get the class started.  The first thing that I did was to make an accurate list of all the debts I owe, which isn't many. Student loans is the big fatty financial mountain that is standing in my way.  It is big, but it is not impossible.

It is really neat, because I can already start envisioning making the scream "I'm debt free" :) :) :)

Oh, I think the "Baby Steps" might look a little different for some people maybe.  I am not saving for college since I'm already out of college. I also do not own a home. I live in my aunt's home. So in that sense, I'm good, because I don't have a mortage to pay off.  It'll be interesting to see how these baby steps will apply to me as a single person.

I know this journey will not be easy. However, I'm so willing and excited to reach my goal and that is more important to me than having it easy all the time :) :) :)

That is the news from the ocean shores of California today.

Love and  hugs,
Heather

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

PRETTY PINK FLOWERS

Hi everyone :) :) :)

How are you all doing?  It's been a long time since I last wrote a blog post, but I'm back and ready to go again :) :) :)

In fact, I was sitting in church on Sunday and a sweet friend of mine sat down next to me. She also happens to be an extremely talented painter and artist.  She earns a living selling her paintings on-line.  We had a nice little chat about that and I felt really inspired. She was really encouraging to me.  She and I are gonna get together soon and talk about details, because I"m interested in starting my own online store as well.

So we'll see.  It's still just talking, researching and praying and talking, researching and praying some more.  If you have an online store or home business, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

In the meantime, I made my ual coffee run at Whole Foods this morning.  There's this beautiful plant that has the loveliest pale pink blooms.  I think it's more of a bush, but they have it set up like a tree.  It's hard to explain.  In any case, here's a photo I took this morning:








































I'm not sure what kind of flower it is. It reminds me of sweetpea or lilac, but I'm probably wrong on both counts. Do any of you know what this is?

That's the news from the ocean shores of California today.

Love and hugs,

Heather :) :) :)