Archive | December, 2012

12 Things I Learned in 2012

31 Dec

Yesterday I shared some of the things I did right in 2012.  Now, I’d like to take some time to share what I have learned this year.  Obviously, this doesn’t cover ALL the lessons I’ve learned, as those are numerous. But I do want to take some time to think about what 2012 taught me.  I feel like it will help me to be more focused for 2013. 

  1. I learned how many friendships I really have. I always knew I had friends, but I don’t think I had any idea how deep and valuable those friendships were until this year. I now understand how blessed I am to have so many wonderful people in my life. 
  2. I have learned how blessed I am to have the family that I do.  They are so caring. They are all healthy and happy.  We’ve all grown so much, and I’m so proud of them all.
  3. I learned that it is okay to need help. I realized this year that I need help.  I think it’s made me a better friend, a better daughter, and a better believer.  And I’m thankful that there are people out there who are willing to help!
  4. I learned how powerful exercise can be. I started exercising in March, and I have never been in better shape physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. 
  5. I learned how blessed I am to be healthy.  I am so fortunate. And I’m so thankful.
  6. I learned that I can finish! I ran a 5k just a couple of weeks ago, and I was so glad to cross the finish line.  However, I’m not just speaking about literal finish lines.  God is showing me that I have the power to finish whatever He has asked me to do. I can’t wait to see what I finish in 2013!
  7. I learned that “virtuous is not nowhere.” A good friend and mentor gave me those words earlier this year, and I have not forgotten them.  It is so easy to think that I have to compromise my values in order to rush what I am so desperate to have in my life. 
  8. I learned how easy it is to be proud.  It’s a thin line between pride and confidence, and I have had to repent a few times for having pride.  A few years ago, the only pride I had was false pride.  Now, I feel better about myself than I ever have, and I am still learning how to be confident and humble.
  9. I also learned how powerful forgiveness can be.  God’s forgiveness, even when I’m filled with pride, is one of the most powerful forces in the world.  And when God’s forgiveness manifests itself here on earth in people, well, there are only a few things that feel better than forgiveness, even when it’s not deserved.
  10. I’ve learned God’s work in my life has already been immense. It’s still hard for me to believe how much He’s done.  And He’s done it with Grace and Love. Eight years ago, I was a totally different person.  It brings tears to my eyes when I think about what He’s done for me.  Thank you, Lord
  11. And fittingly, I’ve learned just how much joy writing brings me.  I put it down for years, and picking it back up has, well, been a lot of fun.  I encourage you to pick up your passions and enjoy them.  The passion is God-breathed!
  12. Lastly, I learned that it is well past time for me to gain control of my finances.  And I’m seriously ready for a change. Which is the reason I started this blog.  I am praying daily to tame this problem.  I am surrounding myself with people who will challenge me to spend and save better. I am willing to change, and I believe the change is coming.  Pray with me and for me that 2013 will provide the change that I’ve needed for years.

Tomorrow, I will share what my goals are for next year.  I’m super excited about that post!  What have you learned this year?

12 Things I Did Right in 2012

30 Dec

As 2012 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on what 2012 meant to me.  I could spend some time thinking about what I could’ve done better, but I don’t know how healthy an exercise that would be.  Tomorrow, I will reflect on what I’ve learned this year, and I’m sure some of the traces of the lessons learned will be apparent in that blog.  Today, my focus will be on what I did right this year. 

I cared.

I shared.

I cried.

I tried.

I prayed.

I saved.

I gave.

I learned.

I yearned.

I listened.

I laughed.

I loved.

 I would enjoy hearing what you’ve done right this year.  Feel free to share in the comments section.

20 Thankful Things

23 Dec

Joyce Meyer tweeted the following this morning: “Thank God for twenty things today… before you ask Him for anything. What’s the #1 thing you are thanking God for today?”  I think that’s a great idea, especially this time of year when a lot of time is spent reflecting.  I mentioned in my last post that I would post about my goals and reflections.  I still plan on doing just that, but this blog will be a list of twenty things I’m thankful for.  I have so much to be thankful for, and here are my top twenty, in no particular order.

  1. My salvation. I still can’t believe the Father loved me enough to send His Son to die for my sins.
  2. My health.  I am in the best shape (emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually) of my life.
  3. My family.  We love each other and support each other, just as a family should.
  4. My friends. God has really blessed me with some awesome people in my life.  They are so supportive and loving.
  5. My job.  I have a great job, and one that has been provided by the Lord.  When I think about all the steps that led to me landing my job…it’s amazing!
  6. My church.  They are my church family.  What a wonderful place to worship. I’ve grown so much spiritually, and it’s because God has placed so many people there that have so much to offer me and the other members there.
  7. Redemption.  When I think about where I am now compared to where I was six years ago…it’s startling and breathtaking.
  8. My dog! God gave me this dog! She is exactly what I need.
  9. My home.  I have a wonderful place to live. It’s a quiet area that is close enough to my church and my workplace.
  10. My healthy dad. He has been through leukemia twice, and he’s as strong as he’s ever been.
  11. A wonderful football season.  I love sports, and specifically football.  It’s been a great year, in both college and NFL.
  12. Food on my table.  I have plenty of food to choose from every day.
  13. A hot shower every day (sometimes two hot showers every day).  Need I say more?
  14. The advanced technology available at our fingertips.  One Google search, and I have any information that I need.
  15. Reliable transportation. Some people have none, and I had years where I was limited.
  16. God’s plan for me. I can’t wait to see it all play out!
  17. Books. I don’t read as much as I’d like, but I do enjoy reading!
  18. The kids at my church. I work with the preschoolers and the nursery children, and I love the opportunity to hang with those kids!
  19. Body Pump. It’s changed my life. I believe in myself now because of Body Pump.
  20. Running. Because of Body Pump, I now have the strength and belief to run. I completed my first 5k on December 15th, and I hope it’s the first of many. I even have plans to train for a 10k, and who knows, maybe even a half marathon!

Whew! That was pretty tough after 12. What a great exercise though.  We should all live in a state of Thanksgiving. “Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise.”  Psalm 100:4

Upcoming Test

21 Dec

It’s been well over three weeks since I started making my bed, and I am still making it.  Now, it’s not even really a thought.  The only time I think about it is when I actually get ready to spend money, and I will say that every time I make my bed I do think about my spending and saving.

Speaking of spending…my spending is still in control right now.  This weekend will be a real test, though, because I am off for the next few days.  What an opportunity to spend, OR what an opportunity to overcome my spending my habits!  I did purchase a few more snacks than I normally do, but I was and still am well within my spending budget.

I’ve been reading Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey.  I’m about halfway through and am enjoying the book.  It’s an easy read, and Dave speaks to the point and with understanding and grace.  I have already read Total Money Makeover, and so far most of Financial Peace University seems to mirror Total Money Makeover.  I will keep you posted.  I hope to finish the book this weekend.

I plan on trying to read some sort of financial book every month next year. Please make your suggestions in the comments section, as I am open to read any financial book.  Can’t you tell that I’m frustrated with myself and my spending habits??? I am determined to change and overcome my financial struggles. I hope that this blog becomes a story of my overcoming, and I hope that people are able to share their own stories of overcoming. 

If any of you read my last post, you know that I joined a dating website.  I have made a few contacts but obviously nothing significant yet.  I will keep my readers posted! Pray for me on this journey.  I am ready to get married and have a family to share my life with.  And I want a man who loves the Lord. 

On a different subject, my favorite time of year is here.   Bowl game season is here, along with the playoff push in NFL.  It’s such a great time of year. I am a huge football fan!  Anyone that knows me knows this.  And I can talk football with the best of them! I am disappointed with the BCS matchups this year, except the National Championship game, which should be historic this year.  I live in Alabama, so you can imagine how excited the state is! 

I want to wish each of you a very, Merry Christmas.  Enjoy your time with friends and family this year.  Next week, I plan on posting at least a couple of blogs about 2013. The New Year is a great time to reflect and plan, and I am going to do just that.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  Please feel free to post comments on anything I’ve discussed.  I hope to hear from you soon!

My Thoughts on the Sandy Hook Tragedy

16 Dec

I’m going to take a break from my typical blog subject matter and share my thoughts on the tragedy in Newtown, CT. 

As I watched the news reports on Friday night, I was speechless and heartbroken (and still am).  There were and still are no words for what happened.  Nothing can be said to provide closure or clarity on the situation.  Nothing can be done to ease the pain and torment the people in Newtown are feeling.  The residents of that town, and really parents and children all across America simply need to know that they are safe and that this will never happen again.  Unfortunately, no one can make that promise.  We can only pray and do our best to show love to all those around us.  Perhaps in those moments of love we can help dispel some of the evil that lies within the walls of those broken hearts that are crying out for help.

It might be easy to try to turn this into a gun control issue.  Both sides can use this incident to support their cause.  I do not stand on either side of this issue.  But to turn this into a gun control issue would be unfair.  This tragedy is not about gun control; it is about a cultural mindset that must be changed.  We have to educate our young people (and adults) on how to treat others around us.  We have to change the way we understand and respond to mental illness.  I read a touching article (tinyurl.com/cmxocfe)  by the mother of a child with mental illness today, and you should read it, too. 

We also must show people that violence is not the answer.  The amount of violence on TV, movies, and video games is astounding, and I believe that it has to contribute to the violent mindset of some of the people in the world.  I’m not saying that violence shouldn’t exist with mainstream media.  I’m simply saying that we have to watch how much we take in.  Garbage in, garbage out.  There must be a change to the culture to see change, and it must start now and very young.  Let’s surround our children with love and affection.  If we do, they will display love and affection.  Let’s show our neighbor love, and our neighbor will turn around and love someone else.  Perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

It’s important to remember the families in Newtown and those who have lost someone they love.  In a few weeks, the next big news story will take over the airwaves, and those away from CT will move on.  And we should move on to an extent.  We are not called to remain stuck in a situation that causes us pain.  But we should remember those who are hurting in prayer, and the people in Newtown will be hurting for a long, long time.  The children who saw the carnage up close may be scarred for years to come.  Let’s cover those children in prayer.  To the parents who lost a loved one, or to the children who lost a sibling, I offer up my sincere apologies for the pain that you will endure over the coming months and years.  We all grieve with you and pray for you.  We should also pray for the counselors who will help these hurting families.  Pray that the counselors will have wisdom on what to do to help those who are hurting right now.  And, of course, pray for the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7) for those left behind.  What an unspeakable tragedy.

And pray for forgiveness for those who have lost someone.  It doesn’t have to happen now or tomorrow, but it must happen sometime, or the victims’ families will become victims themselves.  I read the story (on.cnn.com/WfTamY) of Robbie Parker, the father of six year old Emilie Parker, who died during the shooting.  He offered his condolences to the family of the gunman and sent his love and support to them.  What an admirable response by someone whose world has been crushed.  We could all take a page from his story and learn from it.  Lord, help us all to give those who have hurt us the grace that you gave even while you were nailed on that cross.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost someone dear to them, including the children that had to walk through the school and to safety.  I pray peace and comfort over each hurting heart and that the community of Newtown would become united forever as they grieve together.  Find someone you love and trust and grab onto them during this time of need.  We are all here to walk with someone else, and the people of Newtown need someone to walk with them.  And if we need to, we can carry them, too.

Course Correction (or Should I say Coarse?)

11 Dec

I have discovered that some people may have had difficulty posting comments on my last few blogs, and I believe I’ve corrected that problem. To test it, you should probably post a comment! 🙂

I did have a dear friend speak to me about a portion of my last blog. She asked me why I had an emergency fund for my emergency fund. Initially, when I setup my goals, I didn’t want to dip into my emergency fund for a car repair, which I anticipate happening. At this point, I have approximately 115,000 miles on my car, and I drove 25,000 miles last year. I don’t really see my annual mileage changing, and so I wanted to be prepared for any unexpected repairs.

HOWEVER, after the Coarse Correction 🙂 I’ve decided that I will skip the emergency fund for my emergency fund. That money will go toward the car, which should help me pay off the loan more quickly.
As far as my spending, I have spent very little since my last post. I did buy myself a little bit of snack food and a decaf coffee from Starbucks. Outside of that, I’ve spent nothing.

I’m still not sure about the dating site. There are a couple of guys who really seem promising, but spending that sort of money for a chance…I just don’t know. This debate actually brings up another point – how do I meet good, quality men? I have made some attempts to put myself out there, but I’m really awful at that. What are your recommendations for meeting people? Please share below.

A Few Goals

9 Dec

Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22 NASB)

I promised you I would share some of my goals, and I plan to do that. I also want to take a moment and thank the people in my life who are willing to hold me accountable. I need it badly, or I will just swipe my debit card without a second thought.

I will not go into huge monetary details about my goals. But I will try to be as specific as possible while maintaining a level of privacy necessary for such a public blog. There are two or three people who know more specifics, and I’m comfortable keeping it that way. I am using the Dave Ramsey plan, with one slight modification.

1. Save for an emergency fund. That’s right – I don’t have an emergency fund yet. But I’m gonna work on that first. I have two accounts currently. I use one for my primary account and one to pay a couple of loans I have (which I will discuss in detail below). I shredded the debit card to the loan account and upped my direct deposit amount into that account. The closest branch to me is 30 miles one way, so I have to make quite a trek to take money out. I’m hoping that removing a source of temptation will help to keep my money in savings. I’m praying that I will remember this goal. After all, there is still PayPal!

By my calculations, I should have this emergency fund complete by the end of March. Eek!

2. Pay off small loan. After I save my emergency fund, I will take the amount I’ve set aside each month for the emergency fun and apply it toward the small loan.

By my calculations, I should have this loan paid by the end of June.

3. Save for car repairs. This is the Dave Ramsey modification I referred to earlier. I drive quite a bit (25,000 miles last year), and I’d like to save for an emergency repair before I begin working on step four. I should have this fund setup by the end of September.

4. Pay off auto loan. This one will take some work and discipline. I don’t really need to elaborate on this point. By my calculations, I should have this loan (if I’m disciplined) paid off by March 2014.

So, these are my very short-term financial goals. I will provide some long term goals a little ways down the road. And I will bring up this post again as I succeed or miss the mark on my goals.

I want to try to immerse myself in wise counsel. I plan on listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast and maybe purchase a few finance books. What are some of your favorite finance books? What are some of your short term goals, or what do you use to help you stay on the path to obtain your goals?

Still Making the Bed

7 Dec

Day thirteen of making my bed. I just woke up from a nap, so I’ve actually made my bed twice today. So far, so good there.

And so far, so good on my finances and spending. Since Monday, I have only spent $5.47 (with the exception of the money I have spent on gas, but that money comes out immediately after I get paid, and I don’t use that for anything else).

Of course, the weekend is here, which brings a new challenge to my spending. Thankfully, I have a busy weekend ahead, which may cut down on my opportunities to spend.

Speaking of weekends, next weekend I am running in my first 5k, and I am so excited! I hope to run the whole thing and have been training using the 5k Runner app on my iPhone, which admittedly is not the smartest purchase I have ever made. But I have completed my training plan now and will practice running without a warmup next week. Yay!!! I will update you on my time next week.

One thing I’m doing now to try to tame my finances is reading a book that I’ve read before called 30 Days to Taming Your Finances. Can you tell I’ve struggled for a long time with my money? It’s an interesting book, with real life appendices in the back intended to help provide a better picture of how the reader spends and saves. I’m on day seven and am enjoying it so far. I will keep you posted as I walk through this.

I don’t just struggle with how I manage my money. I also struggle at dating and meeting men. At my age, it feels harder. And the places I used to frequent just don’t work for my lifestyle anymore. So, I have to consider joining a dating site. The good ones require a paid membership, and I’m debating whether or not to spend my hard-earned money on a chance to meet someone. A friend of mine asked me if I would make my money back in dates. I’m still not sure if she was kidding. However, it is something I’m contemplating. At this point, I’m leaning toward no, mostly because I’m developing a discipline and don’t want to ruin that development. Please share your thoughts with me on what I should do, as I plan on sleeping on this for a few days.

So…who’s ready for another week of healthy money management??? Share your thoughts and plans for your money management this week!

Aside

So Far, So Good

1 Dec

Well, it’s day six of making my bed. After twenty-one days, I hope to make it a habit.

I decided to start this blog because I know I’m not the only person out there who doesn’t make the bed in the morning. Okay, not really. I started this blog because I KNOW I’m not the only person who needs a healthier financial life. To be totally honest, I have very little money in savings and I pretty much live paycheck to paycheck. I’m not happy about this, obviously. But I can’t change how I’ve handled things in the past. I can only change how I handle things now and in the future.

The first thing I need to change is how I think about spending and saving. I enjoy spending. What’s ironic is I don’t like shopping. I’m very linear. I actually plan ahead on what I’m going to spend, which you would think would make it easier for me to save. But most of the time I just decide I want to purchase something and I do it. I throw caution to the wind. And most of the time I regret the purchase hours, if not minutes, later.

About two years ago, I developed a budget spreadsheet to help me handle my finances better. I love that spreadsheet. And I pay all my bills on time. I have a space on my budget for savings, but I really should change that space to “extra spending” because that’s exactly what I use it for. And I don’t want to struggle anymore.

So, my blog starts now, as well as a change to my spending mindset. I will make my bed every day, and I will think about my spending and saving every day. I will share my short-term and long-term goals. I will share my successes and failures, and I welcome you to do the same. Your advice/warnings are always welcome, too!

Pray as I try to shift a mentality that’s been with me for as long as I remember. This journey will be fun, if we let it, and we don’t have to spend money to have fun!!!

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