Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Staying Motivated to Live Frugally

As much as I enjoy the challenge of stretching our money as far as it can go, there are definitely times when I feel like I'm on the brink of burnout.  Most days, I am up for the challenge.  I view it as another way to keep my mind active and it causes me to either get creative or exercise my problem-solving skills.  It's a good thing, but there are times every now and again when frugal living can be overwhelming and downright tiring.  Or maybe that's just me?

July has been one of those months for us.  Without boring you with the details, it's just been one of those months where we've been a little discouraged about having to always be so aware of what we spend.  Those moments, though, have forced me to take a step back and re-examine things.

So, today's post is just as much for me as it is for any of you, because I think we all need some encouragement now and again when it comes to saving money.  Without it, we're much more likely to throw in the towel and give up trying altogether.  But where would that really get us?  

Here are some ideas that will hopefully keep us all motivated to continue this journey of frugal living, even when we are on the verge of giving up. 

Remember the "Why?"

With anything in life, if you don't know why you are doing what you are doing, then being consistent is really difficult.  Whether it's a new habit or fitness regimen, doing something just because it is a fad probably isn't going to last.

If you have never thought through why you are trying to save money, then I'd definitely encourage you to take a minute to talk and think through it {with a spouse if you are married}.  If you have thought about the why, perhaps it might be good to re-visit those reasons.  Remind yourself why you even started in the first place.    
Are you trying to meet a certain financial goal {like paying off debt}?
Are you saving up for something specific like a vacation?
Are you trying to put money aside for your children's college fund?
Are you saving so you can stay home with your children?
Are you watching your spending so you can give more to charity?
Especially if some of your "whys?" are long-term and futuristic, then reminding yourself of your motivation is critical.

Set Specific Financial Goals

I started getting serious about trying to live more frugally when I quit work to stay at home with my daughter.  While this is a pretty large "why," I sometimes need something more tangible to keep me going.  This is one of the reasons we have started making financial goals.  They can be large or small, but sometimes it helps to have a concrete goal to keep you moving in the right direction.  

Think about writing them down and posting them in a visible location where you will see them regularly.  I'm a visual person, so it even helps to physically mark through them as we reach them.

Be happy with your own blessings...

Take a Week Off 

We all need a vacation now and again, and I think that also applies to frugal living.  Now, I'm not saying take a week off and go on a spending binge, but I am suggesting that it's okay to put your coupons down for a week and just take a break from all the deal-hunting.  Perhaps you could avoid the grocery store altogether {except for maybe the bare essentials} and simply eat from your pantry or use up what you have on hand.  Sometimes it's nice to just have a break from the weekly routine of making your menu and planning out your trip.

Allow Some Splurges

I read a recent post by Crystal at MoneySavingMom and she referenced a commenter who was critical of her posting a picture of a Starbucks drink.  While the purpose of the post wasn't to address that commenter or to defend her actions, it got me thinking.  If we never allow ourselves to splurge, then staying motivated to continue frugal living is going to be really frustrating.

Let's face it, it's fun to splurge every now and then.  And you know what?  There's nothing inherently wrong with it!  I don't advocate spending money that you don't have, but I do believe it's okay to buy something at full price {oh, the horror!} or spend money on a name-brand item you've been wanting for a while.  If we're not careful, money can become an idol for anyone - whether it's someone trying to save money or someone who is obsessing about spending it.

What do you think about this quote?

I do think it's wise to plan for your splurges though.  Just include them in your budget, whether it's a meal out to celebrate once you've reached a certain financial goal or planning a mini-vacation to make memories with your family even though you are really close to having a fully-funded emergency fund.  Find the balance between working hard, but also enjoying some of that well-earned money.

Find a Support System

It's really nice to have a person in your life who understands your view on finances and money.  I like to call this person a "frugal friend."  If you don't have a frugal friend, pray for God to give you one.  Hopefully, you and your spouse are on the same page already, but it's still nice to have someone else who "gets it."  

If you don't have a frugal friend yet, you can still find a great support system through the internet.  I find blogs to be really inspiring and encouraging, but there are also all sorts of social media groups.  I haven't dabbled too much into them because of a lack of time, but do what you have to do to find the support you need.  It's out there, but you may have to look for it.

Despite the frustrating moments at times, I've found frugal living to be worth the effort.  It's caused us to think about our needs versus our wants much more intentionally and helped us realize we are blessed beyond our wildest dreams!  All the stuff in the world would never bring me the true joy and fulfillment that I desire.  

* * * * * * 

How do YOU stay motivated to continue frugal living?
I'd love to hear what works for you!         

Linking up with:
Rachel for Wednesday Whatsits

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekly Focus Room: Guest Bedroom

I hope y'all had a great weekend!  Kev was gone during the day because of his first drill with the National Guard.  It was a little odd seeing him walk in the door each night in uniform.  I met Kev after he was out of the Marines, so I'm not used to seeing him in a uniform in real life.  It will take some getting used to for sure!

Last week, I introduced you to a concept I started called my weekly focus room.
{Click HERE to see my last week's focus room and why I even came up with the idea.}

Unfortunately, this week's focus room didn't get much attention....at all.
I don't know what my problem was last week, but I either didn't have extra time many days, or was just too tired and unmotivated to tackle it.  I hate to admit it, but it happens sometimes...at least in this house!  :-)

But, the room was quickly turning into a dumping ground {lots of clean but unfolded laundry} and was in desperate need of some attention, so I figured I'd work on it today and post something about what I accomplished.  I didn't want to devote another entire week to it, so I did what I could and we're moving on!

My Second Room: Guest Bedroom

Our guest bedroom is the second bedroom located on the first floor of our house.  It's small {like all the rooms in our home}, but we really like to have some space for guests to lay their heads when they are in town.  It would probably stay cleaner for longer if we had more guests!!  :-)

Here are some of the before pictures.  

UGH!  This is embarrassing, but I try to keep it real on the blog.  There is the mound of unfolded laundry that accumulated on the guest bed all week long.  It was not a good laundry week for me!  :-)

Here's the view on the opposite end of the bed.  The dresser has piles of unmatched socks on the left and random things that needed to be put away on the right side.  If you look closely, maybe you can see Savannah's potty training seat under some of that stuff!

Here's the view looking from the hallway into the room.  This is why I just shut the door when it looks like this and we have company over.  My maternity clothes are sitting in the tote on the floor and the piece of MDF for my necklace board is still waiting to be used for my DIY project!

I chose the guest bedroom mostly because it's on the main floor of our house and is adjacent to our master bedroom.  I figured I'd just make my way around the entire first floor.  It is also at the end of our short hallway, so you can see right into it when you are in the kitchen/dining room.  I figured I'd attack it next since it's fairly visible and needed some help.  

So, here's the thing, as I said above, I stuck to the very basics on this room because I didn't have much time to spend on it and it basically sat until today.  I'll show you some things I want to do next time I make it around to this room.

Here are the after pictures.

Ah, the bed looks so much better with all the laundry put away.  And now we can get clean clothes from our drawers rather than searching for them on the guest bed!  I can not let that happen this week.

I also stripped the bed and washed all the sheets.  I didn't need to whiten the pillows because I had already done them when I was doing my Pinterest experiment.  They were still looking great!

When I have more time to think about it, I'd like to find some solution for over the bed.  It just looks so plain and boring and needs something.

The dresser is cleaned off and dusted.  I also swapped out the lamp shade on the mini lamp.  I had this one lying around and thought it looked cleaner and brighter than the one that was there before.

The totes actually aren't completely put away, but they are no longer in the room.  The kids were asleep, so I have to put the maternity clothes tote away in the morning after they wake up.  :-(  The piece of MDF is still there because I plan to start working on my necklace board for my bedroom very soon.  

You can't see all this, but I vacuumed and dusted everything {baseboards, blinds, ceiling fan}.  It was pretty bad and I even saw some cobwebs in the lights on the ceiling fan.  I vacuumed the ceiling fan blades as best I could and replaced one of the bulbs that had burnt out the in the fixture.  Next time, I'm going to clean the fan using the method I learned last week and I'm also going to make sure to wash the curtains.  I got as much dust off as I could, but they could still use a good cleaning.  

I wish I had more time to work on the dresser area.  Currently, the mirror attaches to the dresser and I'd like to separate the two and hang the mirror on the wall.  It's so low that it's not very functional.  I think it would look better and function better if it were hanging higher up on the wall itself. 

I'd also love to eventually paint and distress the dresser a light beige or white.  One of these days...

I also desperately need for Kev to find a new place for a lot of his tools.  We use many of them regularly so I can see why he wants to keep them in the house, but I'm thinking we need to carve out a space in the laundry room.  I hate that our guests only have about half of the drawers to put their things in when they visit.

And then, there is the issue with the guest bedroom closet.  This is one of those projects that didn't get completed before we moved in right before Brady was born.  When we replaced the heating/cooling system in the house, we also moved some of the duct work {for the return vent}.  It runs down the entire right side of the closet, making the storage space in the closet even smaller than it originally was.  We still haven't installed any sort of shelving, so there are just a couple of things shoved in there.  

I knew I wouldn't be able to tackle that this time around, but it's still very much on my radar.  If you have any ideas for building/buying cheap closet storage, please leave a comment!! 

The room still needs some help to make it cute and more cozy, but it is looking better.  I need to keep it tidy until I can start working on some of the bigger ideas I have for the room.  Wish me luck!

This week's focus room:  First Floor Bathroom

I'll report back next week Monday to show you how it went.

* * * * * *

How do you get motivated to clean when you have no energy?

Linking up with:
Emily for Create Link Inspire
Kathy for Titus 2 Tuesday
Leslie for Twirl & Take a Bow
Kelly for Whimsy Wednesdays
Lisa for Wake Up Wednesdays
Rachel for Wednesday Whatsits

Saturday, July 19, 2014

11 Things I'd Tell the Newlywed Sarah

Today, Kev and I celebrate 11 years of marriage!  It's hard to believe - it's gone by so fast but yet I almost don't remember life before him.  While I wish I could say that we have a romantic evening planned tonight, that wouldn't be truthful since he's actually at his first drill with the National Guard this weekend.  But, we were able to celebrate on Thursday evening which was really nice.  We're so thankful for dear friends who are willing to watch our kids so we can have a date night and for generous family members who give us gift cards to restaurants.  

As I mentioned on my Facebook page yesterday, I hit a blogging wall trying to write this post.  Since today is our anniversary, I knew I wanted to post about marriage but I just couldn't organize my thoughts into anything that made any sense.  I think part of it is because marriage such a personal topic.  I pour my heart in to all my posts, but even more so when I write about marriage or my own marriage.

I kept hopping back and forth between different angles to take, making lists for each one but nothing was really flowing.  Finally, I took to Facebook for any opinions and had a friend {Thanks, Megan} suggest a post about 11 Things I'd Tell Myself 11 Years Ago.  I loved the idea and I think I may have actually jotted that idea down a couple months ago when I attended a wedding.  I must have lost that Post-it note - surprise, surprise!!

So, here it is, my heart poured out for you in a blog post.  An honest look into some of the things I've failed miserably at and things I'm still learning to this very day.    

# 1.  You and Kev are not as alike as you think you are, but choose to view those differences as a blessing and not a curse.

# 2. Give up your "right" to be right.

# 3.  Talk less and pray more.

# 4.  Trust the Holy Spirit to do His job, because He's far better at it than you.

# 5.  Sex is not as "natural" as you think and does not always come easy.

# 6.  You and Kev are on the same team, now act like it!

# 7.  Treasure your years before children because as precious as they are, marriage will become harder once they enter the picture.  

# 8.  Value Kev's opinion more than that of your parents or anyone else - he wants to be respected and trusted, whether he verbalizes it or not.

# 9.  Do everything in your power to not go to bed angry or without saying you're sorry.

# 10.  Try to view the hardships as a growth opportunity for your marriage - walking through them as a couple will cement you together more than you know.

# 11.  The purpose of your marriage is not about you and making your life better or easier, but about God and displaying his character to a lost world who needs Him and doesn't understand Him.

* * * * * *

What would you go back and tell your newlywed self?

If you want to read our love story from the very beginning, click HERE.

Linking up with:
Cindy for Made by You Monday
Sarah for Homemade Monday
Kristi for Inspiration Monday
Katie for Motivate Me Monday
Emily for Create Link Inspire
Kathy for Titus 2 Tuesday
Kelly for Whimsy Wednesdays
Lisa for Wake Up Wednesdays
Rachel for Wednesday Whatsits
Melanie for Skip the Housework Saturday
Six Sisters for Strut Your Stuff Saturday
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