Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflecting on 2010

It's the end of the year and I find myself spending a few moments looking back at 2010 and being grateful for some good memories and some lessons learned.

I plan to sit down next week and write up my goals for 2011, but until then, I wanted to close off this year right and share my thoughts. If you're interested, please feel free to join in on the fun and share as well :)

2010 in one word : Accountability. This was my year to take a good, hard look at my finances and finally be accountable for them. This is the year, I decided to come up with a plan of attack. Sure, there's been some ups and downs along the way, but it's progress and for that, I'm proud.

Best Lesson Learned : Cut yourself some slack. I learned that progress is progress, even if it's a baby step - it's a step! I'm my worst critic and I hold the bar the highest on myself, so when I don't achieve things on the first attempt, I am hard on myself. This year, I learned to cut myself some slack.

Best Memory : Marrying my sweetheart! We had a great wedding and honeymoon. I made memories that will last me a lifetime :)

Best Item Purchased : Lipgloss. I'm not a super girly-girl, but man oh man, do I love this lipgloss! The color is perfect and it must have menthol or something in it that makes my lips tingle and get puffy. I just feel so pretty when I have it on. It's my best purchase of 2010 and it really wasn't that expensive!

Something I'm Proud Of : This blog :) Although I don't get on here every day, I do try to provide regular updates on our progress. I'm proud that I've started it and plan to continue it in 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I'm not sure I'll be able to get on here much between now and the New Year, so please be safe and have a wonderful holiday! Here's to starting off 2011 on the right foot!

PS - Wish me luck... I go to traffic court on January 3rd, to hopefully have my fine reduced. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies :)

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our credit card payment. I will be so happy when we pay off our debt and I won't have to think about this anymore!

2. Today I feel okay towards money. After a tough week last week, I'm feeling okay towards money. There are going to be ups and downs along the way but I can't let it get me down. There will always be more money along the way.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was wrote out my Christmas cards. I got my peppermint hot chocolate, listened to holiday tunes and wrote out my cards. It was great!

4. I will consider this week a success if I don't buy any more Christmas presents. I have spent enough on gifts and will be proud of myself if I stop now. I tend to be the type of person who wants to buy "just one more gift"...

5. My favorite holiday movie is
It's A Wonderful Life. This movie really makes me appreciate life and the people around you. It puts it all in perspective. Life is short, be good to people you care about.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

Hi all! Sorry I haven't updated in a few days. December is the busy time at my job, so I've been burning the midnight oil, as they say! Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies :)

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on... it's actually what it's going to be on - our electricity! I was so bummed this week when I opened my mail to find our electricity statement and saw that it went up from $57 last month to $181! I was so heated that I told my husband that now that we canceled cable, electricity was going to be next! I know we can't realistically live by just candlelight, but man was I peeved. I called today and they kindly explained that it's probably from using our heat a couple of days when it got cool. Geez! We will NOT use our heat again - EVER. We'll be sure to bundle up and use ghetto heat if necessary (aka - open our oven). What an unexpected bill! I only budget $100 per month for it, which is typically enough. Oh well.

2. Today I feel totally beaten down by money. As my last post mentioned, our savings is going to be pretty much drained completely by the time I pay my ticket and some other unexpected expenses that came up. I'm a bit bummed by it all, but trying to look forward to starting 2011 fresh and new!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was
finalized our Christmas cards online through Shutterfly. I mentioned this promotion that they are doing, which gives away 50 free holiday photo cards, well last week I finalized what they are going to look like. Hopefully they'll be waiting for me when I get home today and I can get them sent out soon! I can't wait to see them.

4. I will consider this week a success if I
hear back from my CEO about a potential pay increase/promotion for next year. I put my name out there as someone whose compensation/title should be reviewed and I'm hoping he has some great news for me before the holidays. I know I may not actually find out until January/February, but I'd really love to find out this week.

5. My favorite holiday treat are
these delicious mint chocolate chip cookies I make! They are made from a chocolate cake mix and I melt an Andies Mints on top... ahhhh, bliss :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So long savings!

I'm a bit bummed today. I got the notice of my fine for turning right on red without completely stopping and it will be $528 PLUS the cost of traffic school, which I think is about $100. Of course this was unplanned, so it'll have to come out of our savings.

In addition, we received a couple of Doctor bills this week (one for the ER trip - $100 and one for the DR copay - $30). Again, unplanned for, so we'll draw down the savings even lower.

Perhaps I should just be happy we have a little cushion and look forward to starting 2011 fresh. We've learned some good techniques in November and December and are learning how to budget a little better now. It's just hard not to get down about starting back at square one. I should be happy though that we even had a savings to fall back on for these expenses, or else they'd end up on the credit card! Someday it will get easier, someday.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

Here's my weekly update, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies :)

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our Christmas Tree. We got an 8 foot one and spent about $60 on it. It was a bit pricey but it's so beautiful! A tree really makes the season come alive for me :)

2. Today I feel beaten by money. I'm fairly new to zero based budgeting and I'm doing the best I can to stay on track, but to be honest, I'm feeling a bit beaten lately. There have been items that I didn't think to budget (ah, um, the aforementioned tree up above). I know I don't have much money for Christmas and I've been toying with the idea of changing my tax with-holdings for the next few pay periods, in hopes to get a little more money to make up for the budget shortcomings. Probably not the best idea, but one that I'm considering...

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was finishing the Christmas decorating! I had started it last week but finally finished it this week and the house looks amazing. I'm thinking of keeping it up through January :)

4. I will consider this week a success if I get back on track with my healthy eating. I was pretty committed to Atkins before the wedding and upon coming home, we've strayed. I'm hoping we can finish this week off on track. There are so many tempting treats around this time of year, but I just can't indulge in everything!

5. My favorite holiday drink is peppermint hot chocolate! I just love it :) I had one while decorating the tree this weekend and it just made it perfect.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Creative and Crafy Christmas Photo Cards!

I LOVE SHUTTERFLY! Since we eloped this year and our friends and family weren't able to see pictures yet, I thought it would be a great idea to create a Christmas card with Shutterfly that shared photos from the event. I got the idea from a co-worker who created a card with Shutterfly for my wedding shower. It was so personalized and adorable! The background was my favorite shade of blue and she put 3 pictures of us on it that she found on my Facebook account. The personalized "Congratulations" card was the best gift I received! I even framed it in our home.

Shutterfly is great, they have all sorts of Christmas photo cards to select from. For our Christmas card, I picked the one above. It is classic in design, had great holiday colors and just enough slots for the pictures I'd like to share :)

The great thing about Shutterfly though is that they also have a variety of other items. I plan to get their matching address label as well. They go great with the cards and pull everything together nicely. They also have creative photo calendars which are a unique gift to give a loved one. Another great idea is their Thank You cards. These could come in handy to thank everyone for the great wedding gifts they gave us. The possibilities are endless!

Also, right now Shutterfly is doing a Christmas promotion where they give away 50 Christmas cards just for blogging about how great they are. I'm excited that I'll be able to get for free, what I was already planning to purchase anyway. Thanks Shutterfly! That money gets to get put towards paying down another bill. In all honesty, I wouldn't blog about something that I haven't used or don't believe in. So, if you're feeling creative and want to get some cards made, I suggest you check them out here!

Question : Have you ever used Shutterfly? What did you make and how did it come out?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Grandmother's Recipe

Happy December!

As you know, this is primarily a personal finance blog, however, since someone asked (thanks Maureen!), I figured I'd share my Grandmother's recipe for sweet potatoes. This recipe is very sweet and ends up looking like the picture once you scoop it on your plate. Yum!

3 or 4 Sweet Potatoes
1/2 Cup of Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/8 Teaspoon Nutmeg (if you have some)
Splash of milk

Boil water and cook up the sweet potatoes as you would regular mashed potatoes. Once cooked, mash the sweet potatoes and add the sugar. Blend the remaining ingredients (Cinnamon, Vanilla, Nutmeg) together with the potatoes. Add just enough milk to make it the consistency of mashed potatoes. Set aside and make the topping.

1 to 1 1/2 Cups of Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Flour
3/4 Stick of Butter or Margarine (Softened)
1/2 to 3/4 Cups Pecans

Put the potatoes into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle the brown sugar and nut mixture on top and bake at 350 until topping is brown.

This will surely satisfy your sweet tooth! Happy holidays to you and yours. Enjoy :)