Monday, April 10, 2017

gift giving this wedding season

You guys… SH and I are ENGAGED!!! :D I am a fiancé! I HAVE a fiancé! Ah! It’s all happening! We could not be more excited to embark on this new journey together. I can't believe how lucky I am that I get to marry such a wonderful man. 

I have been daydreaming a lot about our wedding (and even the proposal, replying it in my mind,) but I'm also already stressed about finding a venue. Is that normal?! People told me this would be stressful. I guess I should have believed them! I'm trying to enjoy every moment and take in as much as I can because I want to remember this time as joyful and fun, not super stressful! 

Do you have any friends who recently got engaged? I have friends who just got married this past weekend, (congrats Ashley and Gary!), friends who are coming up on their one year anniversary of being married, and friends who are farther along in the wedding planning process than I am. I've been trying to think of some special gifts to give my loved ones in this exciting time, and whenever I think of unique, special gifts I think of Uncommon Goods. They support artisans and craftsmen from all over the world to bring you one of a kind gifts for the special people in your life. They're also committed to sustainability and being socially responsible on top of having ridiculously cute handmade products. How darling is this wine box:

I really want to give it to my friends whose one year wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. Ugh, SO CUTE! And so thoughtful right?! I think they're gonna love it!

I read on some wedding blog that you should light a candle when you're getting ready on your wedding day so that years and years from now, when you want to remember that special day, all you have to do is a light a candle and the scent will take you back! Isn't that such a sweet, romantic idea? I love these because they combine my love of books and candles: 

They would also make a cute bridesmaid gift or nice table decor, don't you think?

If you want to gift a newly wed couple something super sweet but also super practical, why not gift them a custom address stamp? This one is so cute and I love that there are three designs you can choose from:

I would love to have one of these once SH and I are actually living together (actually, try not living in two different states, first!) It's such an exciting time and I can't wait to get deeper into the wedding planning and get closer and closer to our dream wedding. I love thinking about all the personal touches we can add, whether it's with our bridal party gifts or table decor. I'm trying to take it all in and embrace this new stage in life!

If you have any bridal showers coming up, or are planning your own wedding and helping your future hubby look for groomsmen gifts, look no further! Uncommon Goods has great gifts for every occasion, especially weddings!

Thank you to Uncommon Goods for sponsoring this post. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

This Money Saving Coffee Switch

As SH will tell you, I have long stuck up my nose at McDonald's coffee. I guess it's because I associate McDonald's with fast food and fast food with not being healthful. Here's the thing - I've been indulging in Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Illy which are all about $2-$5 depending on what type of drink you get. Multiply that by multiple times a week... or day... and you might be spending $50 in one week on coffee. $50! That's crazy, right?

The obvious solution is to brew your own coffee at home. But if you're on the go, as we often are, stopping at McDonald's for a coffee that only costs $1.09 seems like a pretty good money saving on-the-go coffee switch. The craziest part? Whether you get the small or the large coffee, it still only costs $1.09. I got the large yesterday and sipped on it all morning and into the afternoon.

It doesn't taste like the most amazing cup of coffee I've ever had, but for $1.09, I'll take it and put the money I'm saving toward something I really want in the future.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Clear the Clutter 101: The Spring Purge

Does anyone else ever get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they have accumulated over the years? I know that I'm not alone... but it seems that clutter isn't something people really like to talk about.

Clutter used to be a source of shame for me. I felt bad that I had so much in my life that I wasn't using, appreciating, or enjoying. I felt burdened by my stuff. I felt overwhelmed. Tired. Ashamed. Constantly bombarded by reminders that I wasn't using the things that I already had and that I had become a slave to papers.  I wasn't really hoarding, and my room wasn't dirty. But... it wasn't the epitomy of cleanliness, either. And who needs calendars, gifted lottery tickets, and receipts from six years ago?! Honestly. Finally one day, enough was enough. I tackled the clutter with the tremendous help from my mother. In fact, I highly recommend enlisting another person to help you tackle your clutter, because things that feel sentimental to you, ("how can I throw out this calendar from 2014? It shows me exactly what I did that year!") are seen as trash to the other person, and are discarded accordingly. (I took a picture of the calendar to reference whenever I need to. Though honestly.... I doubt I ever will!)

Clearing the clutter out of my life has been incredibly freeing. I got rid of that chair (lovingly nicknamed, "crap chair") in my bedroom that housed unpacked boxes from my move for nine. months. Nine months! We moved it to the downstairs living room where it can be actually used... ya know, for sitting on. What a concept!

I'm going out on a limb here... and showing you my very real "crap chair" More like, crap corner!
I threw out old papers, calendars, and planners. I donated organizing containers I wasn't using and no longer needed (oh the irony!) along with candles, jewelry I never wear that wasn't worth much, books I had never read and probably never would read, art supplies, etc. I sold clothing, shoes and more high end accessories online (a post about that coming soon.) I gifted items to people who would actually love and use them i.e. I gave my coworker a sweater of mine that I didn't love, but was in mint condition, that she had been eyeing when I wore it to work one day.

It felt so good to gift things to people who would actually love and use my stuff!

In addition to my "crap chair" I also moved my desk and desk chair out of my room. This created SO MUCH SPACE. So much space! My room is now empty enough that when you stand in the middle of it, it sort of creates an echo when you talk. I also have an empty drawer in my dresser, completely void of anything. Oh how liberating it is to have an empty drawer!

All in all, my spring purge has lifted me mentally in SUCH a big way, I feel freer, calmer, more organized and in control. I felt so weighed down CONSTANTLY by my clutter that it had become part of who I was and how I felt on a daily basis! I can now enjoy my room as the oasis it is. It was very important for me to move my desk out of my bedroom because quite frankly I don't like working in my room. My desk was another "crap pile" gatherer, housing clothes I'd worn earlier in the week, discarded jackets, papers, etc. It was an eyesore!

I know that I'm not alone in feeling down in the dumps because of my clutter. So, here are some helpful tips I have for anyone looking to clear the clutter and do their own spring purge:

1. Just start. 
You will always come up with excuses on why today isn't the best day to start. I recommend starting say, on a weekend when you have nothing else going on. That way you have two full days to dedicate to clearing the clutter. My mom and I spent about 8 hours a day (no joke) last weekend unpacking boxes, moving furniture, ripping apart rooms and then putting them back together. The end result was so worth it!

2. Have trash bags and boxes on hand. 
Get your trash bags ready. You'll need some boxes for donations, too. I made a few different piles - trash bag for trash, box for donations, pile on my bed for things to give friends, etc. When a trash bag is full, take it out immediately. That will help clear up the limited space on your floor or in your living room. Also take the donation box out to the car immediately once it's full. If it's already in your car, it will be more likely to make it to Goodwill as opposed to if it just sits in your garage or hallway for six months. It worked out nicely for us because trash day is Monday. Our trash bins were overflowing by the time I was done but it was okay because the trash trucks came the next day.

3. Figure out what the source of your clutter pain point is. 
Mine is/was paper clutter. It was everywhere. As mentioned previously, I had 6 years worth of old paper that I didn't need. I had never really needed a paper filing system before because I wasn't an adult doing adult things like paying credit card, car, and medical bills. Once you've identified your pain point, move on to step four...

4. Create a system to tackle this pain point.
I needed a filing system. We got out an old filing cabinet and a bunch of folders and I started labeling away. I got a handle on my papers by setting up a filing system and creating folders for things like manuals/instructions, taxes, health, self-improvement, etc. Now when a paper comes my way, I know exactly where it goes, or it goes straight to the shredder.

5. Touch (almost) everything you own.
This might seem like a daunting task and it's probably because it is. Try to touch every item of clothing in your closet and remove anything that a) doesn't bring you joy any more b) brings you negative emotions, like that expensive shirt you bought that still has a tag on it, that you're regretting buying c) doesn't serve you d) doesn't FIT! I got a handle on my closet by combing through what I own and sorting into donate, give away, sell, toss. I had to touch every single item of clothing I owned for this to be effective. Same thing with jewelry. If you aren't ready to part with something, that's okay. Try putting it in a "not sure" box, and then seal it. If you don't miss it in three months, get rid of it! This applies to almost anything you own!

6. Identify the problem and then pivot.
I had to rearrange furniture for me to feel fully comfortable and free in my downstairs living room space which has now essentially been turned into my office. Here was the problem: The teeny little desk in my bedroom wasn't serving me. So what did I need? A large table that could serve as a desk and craft table. How could I make this happen? I had to pivot and think outside the box. Instead of using a traditional desk I would use an Ikea dining table (without the leaf) for my craft table/ desk. Now I have a space to work that serves me and brings me joy.

7. Work with joy in mind. 
I took every single book off of my bookshelf, picked out the ones to donate, and then rearranged them all by color. Now when I walk into my living room I feel so. much. joy!! Looking at the books so beautifully organized on the shelves makes me happy. It's the little things, people! Do things that create joy in your space and in your life.

My amazing joyful bookcase that I love so so much!!

I hope you enjoyed these 7 tips to help you clear your own clutter. What will you get started on today?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

This easy money saving strategy will change your life

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor by any means. Use this strategy at your own risk! 

Saving money can help alleviate financial stress, fund fun trips or activities, and make a person feel a sense of accomplishment. 

Today I'm sharing a ridiculously easy money saving strategy that I use. I like to call it, the "Transfer Strategy."

Here is the way the Transfer Strategy works:

You go to purchase something, whether it's a $2 cup of coffee or a $17 top, and instead of swiping your card and spending money on a purchase, you transfer the exact amount of money you are saving by not making the purchase, from your checking account into your savings account.

If your checking account is too low to make the transfer, then you probably shouldn't be making the purchase anyway because you would have had to use your credit card, right? If your checking account isn't too low to make the purchase, then you've given in to your impulse to allow money to exchange hands, but instead of letting it exchange from your bank account into a business', you've allowed it to exchange from your checking account to your savings account. 

The Transfer Strategy encourages you to be more resourceful. Yes, I would love to have a decaf Americano twice a day, 5 days a week. But this would end up costing me about $24 a week (at $2.39/ drink.) At $24 a week, I would be spending $1,248 per year on coffee alone (and that doesn't include any coffee beverages purchased on weekends!) I could just as easily purchase an 80 count of instant coffee packets for $14.16 and my yearly cost of coffee goes from $1,248 to $92. (I figure if I have 80 instant coffee packets, and use 2 per day, 5 days a week, I'll need 6.5 boxes to fund my coffee habit.)

I want to buy a $2.39 cup of coffee? Instead, I'm going to transfer $2.39 into my savings account (or maybe $3 just to make it nice and even.) You will be blown away by how much money you can save in a short amount of time with the Transfer Strategy. What I like about it is that it becomes a fun game. How much money can I add to my savings account today? This week?

What do you think about the Transfer Strategy? Is this something you would like to try? Comment below!

Monday, February 27, 2017

How to Save Money With Groupon Coupons

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

You've probably heard of the website, which offers amazing deals on experiences like skydiving, cruises, weekend getaways, or beauty related things like mani/pedis, blowouts, massages and the like. But did you know that Groupon has a COUPON section of their website that allows you to save at major retailers like Target, Macy's, Best Buy and so many more??

I love being a bargain shopper. Whether I'm shopping a sale or using a coupon, saving money gives me a little feel-good jolt. I'm starting to use coupons more and more, and make it into a sort of game to see how much money I can save when I go shopping. Groupon Coupons is a great place to start if couponing is new to you, or if you just want to see where you can start shaving off a few dollars here and there on items you already buy on a regular basis. Did I mention it's completely FREE to use?? That's right -- you don't have to pay any sort of membership fee and you can print many of these coupons from the comfort of your own home.

Sometimes you don't even have to print off a coupon, the website just points you to retailers that are having amazing sales. For example, American Eagle has 16 coupons on Groupon Coupons right now, and the jeans coupon takes you to the AE website where it's buy one get one 50% off jeans. Pretty nifty! (Or should I say... pretty thrifty? Sorry. I had to!)

There are so many coupons on Groupon Coupons. Plus, you can search for coupons based on where you live, what stores you want to shop at, or just look at all the featured coupons and see what strikes your fancy!

Some examples of coupons I found are:
  • $32 off your first order with Blue Apron 
  • Buy 2 pairs of Sperry for $119 (they normally range anywhere from $60 - $150 dollars for one pair) 
  • 10% off car rental with Dollar 
  • 40% off print orders $40+ at Walgreens

Groupon Coupons allows you to save on a wide variety of things from events to experiences to clothing and home items!

If you're looking to save money and have fun doing it, I definitely recommend checking out Groupon Coupons!

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