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Making Lists and “Eating that Frog”

If you’re wondering what eating frogs has anything to do with making lists, then you obviously haven’t read Eat That Frog!  The book is basically about the importance of making lists  and putting the most difficult, most important thing you have to do at the top, i.e. eating the biggest, ugliest frog first.

For the normal day-to-day stuff and probably in many lines of work, this makes a lot of sense, but I find that in application it doesn’t always work that way.  As a teacher, my biggest, ugliest frog is often grading that huge stack of essays.  However, the most immediate thing to do is plan for the next day’s class.  I need the plan before I need the graded papers in most cases, so I have to make that big frog wait.  It can’t possibly be first on my list, so for me, I’m more of an organize-by-time-and-due-date rather than by-difficulty-and-importance type of person (though perhaps we could argue that time=importance in this situation).

No matter how you do it, I do think it’s important to make lists.  At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals.  I can go back and look at it every now and then and see that, “Oh, I’ve been focusing a lot on this one goal, but I totally forgot that I even had that other goal!”  I made a list of potential blog posts that I’ve been thinking about writing (this one was first on that list :), and then I can cross off and add to it throughout the year.  When I have a day at home alone, no husband and no kids, I generally make a gigantic list of all the things I want to get done, and even though there are things I never get to, it gives me great satisfaction when I cross off 3, 5, or even 10 items (like I did this past Friday)  that I completed.

I’ve heard it said that successful people make to-do lists first thing every day.  Admittedly, sometimes I’m lazy and don’t make lists, especially when my day is going to be pretty much the same routine as usual, but if I know the day has different required tasks, lists can be life/job-saving.  They help the memory (or lack thereof), and they help with motivation.

So I’m mostly a list person.  Are you?  Could you be?  Don’t worry–it doesn’t require actually eating any frogs!  Phew.

Taking the 52-Week Saving Challenge

Have you seen this going around the Internet?  I saw several different versions of it around New Year’s Day.  This particular one comes from Pinterest.  The basic idea is that whatever week of the year it is, you save that much money, and then, by the end of the year, you’ve saved over $1,000 for whatever you need.  There are all kinds of variations of it, some in reverse, some for saving the amount for whatever day of the week you get paid, etc.

Whenever I have some extra cash at the end of a pay period, I put it in my jar and check that amount off the list, so I’m not exactly following the plan as is.  We also put all of our lose change from paying cash in a cup, and when I have enough, I roll that up, cash it in at the bank, and put that money in the jar, too.  For the last half of the year, I intend to do it in reverse so that I’m not trying to put larger amounts away while also trying to save for the holidays (which is why some might choose to do the year in reverse saving $52 the 1st week, $51 the 2nd week, etc. since you’d only be saving $10 for the whole month of December).

So if you’d like to save up some extra money, why not try the money saving challenge.  It won’t be 52 weeks, but if you start now, you’ll still save over $1,000!  (for Christmas vacation?  Christmas presents? paying down debt?)  Maybe some of you are already trying this plan or something similar.  What are you saving for?  I hope it’s something fun!

 

 

Buying Marked-Down Bananas

On an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats, Alton is describing how he makes smoothies for breakfast every morning, and he gives some tips for choosing the ingredients.  He says that when it comes to smoothies, frozen fruits are best, and he especially likes bananas for their creamy texture.  This is when he gives the best tip:  buy the reduced-price/marked-down bananas, bring them home, wrap each one in plastic wrap, and freeze them.  They may look all beat up on the outside, but they’re perfectly ripe on the inside.

Well, guess what?  He’s right!  I’ve done this the last couple times I’ve gone to the store.  The first time, there were just three, but I bought them and froze them.  They were perfectly fine on the inside.  Today, I bought a bigger bunch, about 6 bananas.  I got them home and saw that I had paid 70 cents for organic bananas.  I hardly ever buy organic bananas.  We also bought a regular bunch of bananas and paid about $2 for them, so those smoothie bananas were a great deal!

This should really help my goal for the near future of having a smoothie every day for breakfast.

Give it a try!  Buy marked down bananas.  Bring them home, wrap them up, and freeze them for your smoothies.  Yummy!

Hump Day Recap October 29, 2014

It’s been one of those weeks…

This week, I decided to try to

  1. Cut back on sweets by having dessert every other day
  2. Say grace at meal times

How are these things going?

  1. I’m actually thankful for this blog because it’s keeping me on task for this one.  There are cookies in the house for goodness sake, and I didn’t eat any on Monday!  Homemade sugar cookies with cream cheese icing.  I hope you understand the magnitude of this one!  Now, granted, Friday was my first day being dessert free.  I had some cookie dough on Saturday, and I ate some cookies on Sunday.  However, I planned ahead for it.  I made the decision to go ahead and do it.  I didn’t just cave in the cravings or eat the cookies just because they were there.  This is a big step for me since normally I just eat them up to get them out of the house. 🙂  Still, there’s work to do in this area because my days without dessert are still difficult.  I’m addicted to sugar!
  2. It’s pretty disgraceful how poorly I’m doing at this.  I don’t know what the problem is, but I am so distracted at meal time it seems.  I guess two kids will do that to you.  Perhaps it’s time to get them involved in the mealtime prayer as well.  Being a good influence on children can be a good motivator.  Time to give it a try!  I think we’ll try a simple child’s prayer:

Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.

I like this because as a friend of mine recently shared this on Facebook:

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And I think that little children’s prayer thanking God for everything, not just food, gets us closer to the task of thanking God at all times for everything.

UPDATE ON PREVIOUS WEEK:

Last week, I resolved to try to

  1. Prepare for the 21-Day Tummy diet by trying new recipes and stocking the kitchen
  2. Pay for things only with cash, using the cash envelope system
  3. Remind myself that by believing and trusting in God, I always have enough
  4. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning

How are these things going?

  1. I’m still trying new recipes, but I haven’t stocked the kitchen any further.  This has to be the week, though, because Monday is the day.  Honestly, I’m having second thoughts about this diet.  The food for it seems to be a bit pricey.  We’ll see.  For now, I think I’m just going to commit to Phase 1/the first 5 days of the plan.
  2. This is going better.  Of course, we just started the pay period.  It’s easy to do when the envelopes are full!  I found a convenient ATM, which helped fill the envelopes in a timely manner and helped us avoiding resorting to plastic.
  3. This has been a rough week.  I get so irritable when I don’t sleep well, and some little toddler has had a few rough nights.  I’m alive, and I’m thankful, though, because I’m surviving.
  4. A perfect week for this one.  Like I said, easiest one if I can just get into the habit, and I think it’s there now—so check this one off the list!

Leave a comment to share your progress–good or bad!

Hump Day Recap October 22, 2014

We made it to Wednesday, and you know what that means…


This past week I resolved to try to

  1. Prepare for the 21-Day Tummy diet by trying new recipes and stocking the kitchen
  2. Pay for things only with cash, using the cash envelope system
  3. Remind ourselves that by believing and trusting in God, we always have enough
  4. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning

How are these things going?

  1. I’m trying recipes, but I haven’t stocked the kitchen any further.  No extra money right now.
  2. This is not going well.  It’s probably the hardest one for us to be consistent with, mainly because we’ve had a lot of unexpected expenses come up this past month.  Payday is at the end of the week.  We’ll start fresh then and be super careful about staying within budget–and not using the debit card!
  3. There’s always room for improvement here, but I think some have already noticed my more positive attitude.  This is something that takes constant attention because it’s so easy to let life get in the way.
  4. I was doing really well until this morning.  Ada woke up at 4, and so the whole morning routine kind of went out the window.  Obviously, this should be the easiest one to do.  I just need to keep it up to make it habit.

Leave a comment to share your progress–good or bad!

Pay with Cash

By this time next year, hopefully, Raf and I will be completely debt free.  We’re following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, and by the time everything is all said and done, we’ll have been on baby step 2 (paying off all debt) for nearly 5 years. It’s a long time, but we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!

Besides creating a budget, one of the things that has really helped us limit our spending and prepare for future expenses is the cash envelope system.   We take the money we budget for groceries and put it in the grocery envelope.  We take the money we budget to be set aside for the year’s gifts and put it in the gift envelope, etc.  The problem is that we’ve become a little sloppy with this.   We don’t always get to the bank or ATM to take out the cash, so we end up using the debit card instead.  If one envelope runs out, we might borrow from another envelope.  Obviously, this creates problems in the long run and basically makes the budget worthless, and the budget–well, sticking to the budget–is really what makes getting out of debt possible.

So let’s try using the cash envelope system as it is intended to be used.  No charging or debiting what can be paid for with cash.  No borrowing from other envelopes.  No spending in that category once the money in the envelope runs out.  Can we do it?  If we can, we’ll be that much closer to getting out of debt, saving for emergencies, a house, and/or college, investing towards retirement, and mostly important, I think, giving to those who are in need.  Leave a comment if you intend to give it try, or tell us about your successes and failures with the envelope system if you’ve used it before.

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