Making Valentine’s Day Fun For Kids

Making Valentine’s Day Fun For Kids

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Lindsey and I got together last weekend.  We were working on our own Valentine’s Day decor when we decided to take some of the fabric at Hobby Lobby and make the boys their own table cloth and fun Valentine’s Day party.  We even bought flameless candles for their table.

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They helped us decorate sugar cookies and were super excited to dig in.  I wish I could describe the cuteness going on at their table.

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Later on in the week Tays made Valentine’s Day cards for his grandparents that we were going to see that week.  All it took was some card stock, crayons, and stamps to give him an afternoon activity.  He was so proud of his handprint inside the card.  Although these weren’t super crafty cards, his pride in showing them to his grandparents made them all worth it.  And, it was time well spent.

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We tried to give the boys some activities from cookie decorating to card making.  We hope this gave them more of a sense of ownership in the new holiday.  How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your kids?

~ Laura

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Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

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After sick kids and a crazy-busy week (another post coming soon), we are finally back to blogging about our Friday favorites.  We have been saving up some things that we are currently crazy about.  What are you loving this week?  Happy Friday!

1. Fixer Upper

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Okay, I know this show has been around for a while.  I watched one episode on HGTV one time.  Then, Netflix recently posted the whole first season.  I am kind of obsessed.  This show is giving me delusional dreams about redoing a house.  The main couple that fixes up these houses is also adorable.  A very good Netflix find!

2.Chi Rocket Low EMF

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My mother in law bought me this blow dryer for Christmas, and oh my goodness!  I have extremely thick hair and blow drying my hair is usually a long chore.  I never thought to buy a nicer blow dryer.  This has pretty much cut my blow drying time in half.  It’s not a cheap buy, but I would argue it is worth every penny.  I am so glad I have been introduced  to a nicer hair dryer.

3. The Smocking Bug

There aren’t many things we like better in the South than a cute smocked outfit on our child.  There are a lot of Facebook groups out there where you can order outfits, but we think The Smocking Bug (right out of South Alabama) has the cutest options.  Not to mention, they are also affordable.  They had their first summer pre-order going on this past week.  Although that order is closed, the next summer pre-order is in March.  It makes me happy just scrolling through these adorable clothes!  Here’s the link to the Facebook page: The Smocking Bug

4. Georgette Heyer Books

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I read last year on a book blog that if you liked Jane Austen, you would like Georgette Heyer.  I have actually heard her name in the book community for years.  I decided to read the book recommended on the blog “The Grand Sophy.”  It was so good, and I now have read five Georgette Heyer books in the last six months.  Her books are, for the most part, set in Regency England (she was considered an expert on the time period) even though she wrote most of them in the 1930’s – 1960’s.  Her books are fast-paced, funny and clean.  I wanted some fun reading over the holidays and read a couple of her books.  My grandmother is now on a Georgette Heyer kick too.  I had to share for anyone who enjoys funny and romantic books.  The good news is that there are plenty of her books to keep you entertained for a while.  My new favorite is “Cotillion.”  I laughed the whole way through.

5. The Handmade Home

We actually know who the author of this blog is because she is based in our hometown of Montgomery, Alabama.  Although The Handmade Home has been a phenomenon for a while, we have recently really enjoyed their store and sales.  I am obsessed with this print they are selling Across America Map for a kid’s room.  Their blog is all about how they made their home special for them.  It has been featured on countless websites and shows.  It has given me some good ideas about sprucing up my home and serves as inspiration.  Once you click on the website, you won’t be able to stop looking.  Enjoy: The Handmade Home.

~ Laura and Lindsey

The Biggest Differences in Going From 1 to 2 Kids

The Biggest Differences in Going From 1 to 2 Kids

Lindsey and I both went from having one to two kids in the last year (both two and under). We have both been talking recently about the differences we have seen, and we thought we would share some of those with you.

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1. The Time It Takes to Get Out of the House

I am pretty much late all the time these days.  I was not prepared for how much more time and effort it would take just to get out of the house with two little ones.  I now have to get two kids dressed and two diaper bags/back packs properly packed.  I feel like I am constantly remembering something I forgot…Juice cup, extra diapers, extra outfits, etc.  Add that right when we are ready to leave, the baby is ready to nurse.  Yep, it doesn’t matter how early I get started, there is always something that pops up (my son spitting his milk out on his outfit for fun) that keeps me from getting out the door on time.  Now that my nine month old is going through the attachment phase, things are even crazier.  The other morning my son woke up in a bad mood and had to go to time out.  I had to sit the nine month old down to put him in time out.  She started losing it while he lost it because he was in time out.  Never a dull moment.  Sometimes I just have to laugh!

2. The Lack of Sleep/Down Time

Sure, there was a lack of sleep with one child.  The main difference was that I could sleep when he slept.  If he woke up at 4:00 in the morning and went back to sleep, I would go back to sleep until he woke up.  Now, when my daughter wakes up at 5 to nurse, I barely fall back asleep before my two year old is up.  Someone has to get up and get his breakfast. And nap time, well that’s a different story.  I love the days when they both go down at the same time and one does not wake the other one up.  I used to count on my son’s nap time for my down town/get things done time.  Now, it seems like once one falls asleep, sometimes the other wakes up or has trouble going down.  I do have some good days where both take naps and that is getting better.  Although I do fear that now that my daughter has a solid afternoon nap, my son will soon grow out of his.

3. Double Everything

I know this is a given, but it still hits me in waves.  We buy double the diapers (we are in the midst of trying to potty train), double the clothes, and double the food.  It gives me even more respect for single parents because of the time it takes to feed two little ones and bath two little ones.

4. I’ve Developed More Compassion For Other Parents

I had this wonderful schedule with my son his first year of life.  He was a great sleeper and I thought I had it all figured out.  It is all about schedule.  Then he became two (no explanation necessary) and I had a baby that isn’t as good of a sleeper.  Although she has had a little bit more of a flexible schedule because we are out of the house more, I have done a lot of the same things.  I now believe in the phrase that “every child is different.”  I definitely do not have it together.  Some days I am lucky to survive.  I look at other parents and I don’t judge.  I feel what they are going through.  I also became less rigid with my second.  Although I don’t always remember her milestones as well as I did her brothers, I don’t worry that her schedule will completely fall apart if I hold her through nap time every now and then.

5. Double the Love

I’ve listed a lot of hard things about having two kids, but there is also double the snuggles and kisses.  I love when they make each other laugh, or my son acts concerned for his sister.  They keep me busy, and I love marveling at their different personalities.  Plus, they take really cute pictures together.  I cannot wait for the day they can play together.  Also, I finally felt like I had an excuse to buy a minivan.  Does it get much better than that?

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6. It Is Survivable

I was so scared in the last few weeks of my second pregnancy that my son would feel a lack of attention, that I would never leave the house again, that I would feel too overwhelmed by two to ever get anything done, etc.  However, just like with one, it becomes totally normal.  You adjust and learn you can survive (and we get out of the house a lot).  We know we want more, so two hasn’t completely scared me off.  However, I now know why people stop at two kids all the time.  It is hard work!

~ Laura

The Perfect Party Bunting!

The Perfect Party Bunting!

Last week I blogged about a baby shower I recently hosted at my house. When planning decorations for the party, I took to Pinterest for some inspiration. After seeing a picture with a similar ribbon bunting, I got a slight crafty hair and decided to head to Hobby Lobby. With my sister in law in toe to help, we found some really cute fabrics to make our ribbon bunting for the party.

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First, we cut a little slit every one inch on the fabric.

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Then we began tearing the fabric to give the right look to the strips.

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I cut a long strip  of burlap fabric I used for another project to tie the fabric onto.

Next, we began tying the fabric onto the burlap strip.

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(and momma needs a manicure….badly)

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And the end result! I pinned the bunting all the way around my dining room table, and it was the perfect shabby chic accessory! Check out the table here.

xoxo, Lindsey

These photos were taken by Lex & Lee Photography.

A Healthier 2016: Weight Watchers and My Favorite Recipes

A Healthier 2016: Weight Watchers and My Favorite Recipes

IMG_5095While Lindsey is doing Whole 30, I decided to go back to something I have done before.  My daughter is nine months old and now supplementing with baby food.  It is hard to really diet in the beginning when they nurse so much!  When my son was around this age, I decided to take my first shot at weight watchers to lose that extra 15 pounds.  With both of my kids, I seem to lose a lot fast and then get stuck with that extra weight that doesn’t seem to come off as easy.

Weight watchers worked for me with my son.  I lost 10 pounds, but I had to stop when I got pregnant with my daughter.  I decided to wait until after the holidays to start, and then I wanted to jump in hard core.  The thing I love about weight watchers is that it will develop a plan for nursing moms and give you some extra points.  That way I do not worry about my milk supply going down.  It is the only “diet” that I have ever stuck with more than a couple of weeks.

I am definitely not getting paid by weight watchers to share this.  This is just the honest truth for me.  The tracking system, delicious healthy recipes and accountability are what keep me on track.  I am doing it completely online, and I love the weight watchers app on my phone where you can scan bar codes to get points and track throughout the day.  A friend of mine and I also discovered that you can connect with other people on the app to show your profile for accountability.  My mom and grandmother are also doing it with me this time, so that gives me a lot of encouragement.  I have only done it for a couple of weeks, and I have already lost five pounds!

Oh, and one other reason I love weight watchers:  all of the recipes you can find online and in their cookbooks!  When you sign up, they give you starter meal recipes.  That is my survival guide.  I could not do it without following their recipes!  They give you creative ways to eat healthy (they even give you healthy dessert options).  Trying to do weight watchers and eat out all the time can be hard.  So, I meal plan and try to stick with their recipes at least during the first couple of weeks to get my mind in the right place.  Here are my favorite that I eat throughout the day (all come from the weight watchers website):

Breakfast: Whole Wheat toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas (one slice is 4 points).

Lunch: Vegetable Soup with “grilled cheese” (6 points)

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1 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/3 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup canned tomatoes

1 cup low sodium vegetable broth

(Brown the garlic in the olive oil on medium heat.  Add the celery, onions, and carrots.  Cook until tender.  Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth and simmer until warmed through).

For the grilled cheese:

1 light english muffin

sliced tomato

low fat mozzarella cheese

(Top the english muffin with tomato slices and cheese.  Bake until the cheese melts)

My other favorite lunch also includes an english muffin.  I put avocado, turkey deli meat, low fat swiss cheese and whatever veggies you want (I do cucumber and tomato) on a light english muffin.  It is only 6 points and actually delicious!

Snack:  Peanut Butter and sliced strawberries on low sodium rice cake (3 points)

I think you can tell I like peanut butter.  I absolutely love this snack!

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Dinner: Barbecue Chicken Pizza (8 points)

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This was my husband’s favorite recipe so far.  We each got a pizza.  I just doubled the recipe below to make two.

1/2 cup chopped roasted boneless/skinless chicken (I just used rotisserie chicken)

1/4 cup black beans

1 1/2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce

low fat shredded cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup)

1 regular size whole wheat tortilla

Lay your tortilla out on a baking sheet and set your oven at 350 degrees.  Mix together the chicken, black beans and barbecue sauce.  Spoon out onto the tortilla and spread out evenly.  Top with cheese and bake until cheese melts.  So, so good!

Like I said, all of these recipes come from the weight watchers website.  There are so many more.  These are just some of my favorites!  Because I am nursing, I often double my portions since I get more points.  However, these recipes really keep me going!  I cannot wait to meet my goal.

~ Laura

The House on Park, The Boy’s Room

The House on Park, The Boy’s Room

 

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November and December were very busy months for our family. January is proving to be less eventful, and that is a welcome change as we adjust to being a family of four. In anticipation of the baby’s arrival, we began to work on George’s “big boy room.” We heard mixed things about transitioning a two year old to a big boy bed, but in an effort to not buy a second crib we thought we would give it a try. The process then began of turning the spare room into the “boys room.”

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Both of the images above were taken by Allison Hilyer Photography.

First we selected the paint color for the walls. We chose Tapestry Beige by Benjamin Moore. Knowing that the decor in this room will probably evolve with the boys, I wanted a true neutral. This color has proved to be just that! The color is warm and yet light, it also goes well with grey and tan. It really is a perfect neutral!

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The beds were purchased from a local antique store. I love the the traditional look of the beds and thought they would be pieces we could use for many years to come. They could transition well to a guest room or even a girls room one day. Also, in anticipation of George and William Sport sharing a room one day, two matching beds would be just lovely!

The bedding was bought at TJ Maxx. There is nothing better then walking into TJ Maxx and finding something you actually need for a great price. Each bedding set was only $29.99. Can I get a woo hoo?

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The plane prints were found on Etsy and the frames and matting were purchased from Target. The table between the beds was found on sale at Target along with the lamp!

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This room is becoming one of my favorite rooms in the house. Some of my sweetest moments with George unfold in this room. From singing songs while he gets dressed after bath, to reading to him in the bed, to me inching out of the bed as he fall asleep at night. It’s a room special to my heart and the memories made in it are what make a house a home!

xoxo, Lindsey

The Art of Waking Up Early (and why I have to stop failing at it)

The Art of Waking Up Early (and why I have to stop failing at it)

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We said we would spend some time in January blogging about resolutions.  Well, I didn’t originally put waking up earlier on my resolution list.  However, I did put making my bed, being more consistent with my quiet time and being more productive on those lists.  Waking up early seems to help with all of those things.

At the beginning of last week, I decided one morning to wake up an hour before everyone because I had some things I had to get done before taking my son to preschool.  I even made my coffee the night before.  I know some of you do this every morning.  It is really easy as a stay at home mom to assume you have all the time in the world to get yourself together when you wake up with the kids.  Most mornings when I wake up when my son wakes up I am still groggy, and I do not turn into a productive person until after my coffee sets in 30 minutes later (that is if I feel like making the coffee as soon as I get up).

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Waking up an hour earlier than my household last week was an epiphany for me.  I felt ready to go and give my children the things they needed when they woke up because I had some quiet time of my own and my coffee had fully kicked in.  Plus, I was completely ready to get started on the day.

This time is something I desperately need and want to work on.  The past few days have been much harder.  It is hard to make yourself go to bed early, and it is hard to get up when that one hour of sleep sounds so good in the moment.  However, I have noticed that my day seems to start so much slower on the days I sleep in.  Breakfast in front of the tv? Sure. Taking my time to get moving? You bet!

Although I stay at home, we have to get ready to go either to preschool or our Bible study three mornings out of the work week.  Sometimes it feels like I am barely making it with two young kids and getting them out of the house on time (clothed, fed and diaper bag/back pack properly packed).  It’s a miracle if I actually fix my hair.  I know that making waking up early a regular practice can make a huge difference in just the sense of peace and organization I feel every day.  So, I’m putting it out there on the blog and hope to get back on the band wagon tomorrow.  This went from not being on my resolution radar to maybe being my number one resolution.  Yes, this is so simple, but I need to make it a habit.  21 days of practice makes a habit, right?  I need to make that commitment starting tomorrow!

Any tips for how you make yourself get moving in the morning?  Making the pot of coffee beforehand did help.  I’m all ears!

~Laura

A Southern Party: Amy’s Baby Shower

A Southern Party: Amy’s Baby Shower

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With the name of our blog being “Stroll Through The South,” we cannot help but talk about the ultimate Southern experience, a shower! With everything being bigger in the South, we typically go all out for most occasions and having babies are no exception.  My husband’s family is a testament to this. Among my husbands cousins, we are about to welcome the 5th baby in a year, Ivey Cross Cassady! So, what better way to celebrate sweet Ivey then to shower her mommy with sweet baby essentials?

Because I love a good shower and I am excited to entertain in the new house, I gladly volunteered to host when we started planning.

Last Wednesday Papa James, the grandfather of the father to be, passed away. We considered canceling the shower on Saturday.  However, after getting the ok from the matriarch, Mama Hedy, the shower was on. While it was a sad weekend for the family, it was also a reminder of the Lord’s glorious thoughtfulness when he created the cycle of life. With the death of an elder, comes the joy of a new baby. And, oh what joy Luke and Amy have coming as they welcome their new love in a few short months.

Here are a few snaps of the party!

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Sweet Ivey,

We cannot wait to meet you and welcome you to this family! Your mommy and daddy love you more then you know. Thank you in advance for bringing so much happiness and joy to so many.

xoxo, Lindsey

A Healthier 2016: Whole 30 Week 1

A Healthier 2016: Whole 30 Week 1

After wrapping up a wonderful holiday season with family and our new sweet baby Sport, Ben and I started to look to 2016. As we were discussing the new year ahead, we talked about getting healthier. A group of our friends discussed doing the whole 30 challenge starting January 1st. Needing a jumpstart to losing this baby weight I was thrilled to make a plan.

I began reading everything I could find on Whole 30; thats when I got discouraged! I felt like there was nothing I would be able to eat for 30 days. You can find the Whole 30 guidelines here. After going back and forth on weather we would actually do it, we decided this was just what we needed to start 2016 on a healthier foot. With me breastfeeding I did not need to diet, I just needed to pick healthier foods. After some research and careful planning we came up with a meal plan for the first week, and I must say it has gone pretty well. While I have not been perfect (after day 3 I had to have a little coffee creamer), overall we have done well.

I can now say a few days in, that it has not been easy but it has been easier then expected. I think the key has been the meal planning.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

For breakfast we have been eating Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash with Whole 30 compliant sausage. Here is the recipe, just be sure to use Whole 30 compliant sausage. We found a great italian sausage at Earth Fare in the fresh meat section. The sausage has no added sugar! The hash has been really filling me up and making it easier to start the day off with a full belly.

For a mid morning snack I have been blending a cup of frozen berries (no added sugar), a banana, and a quarter cup of unsweetened coconut milk. It is quite the tasty combination and it helps you power through a sugar craving.

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For lunch we meal prepped over the weekend!

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We have been calling these little containers of goodness our “adult lunch able.” We made enough for each of us to have one for lunch this week. The containers include carrots, cucumber, dump ranch (Whole 30 compliant from Whole Sisters here), an orange, a boiled egg, and a grilled chicken apple sausage. We found the Sausage at Costco and it is delicious and completely Whole 30 approved! We ordered the containers from Amazon. Click here to find the containers.

For dinner we have done a few different things but the tastiest thing we have made so far were these turkey burgers!

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Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey

1 egg

1/4 cup dijon mustard

salt

pepper

Combine ingredients and grill in a nonstick skillet! Serve wrapped in lettuce with dijon mustard, bacon and avocado!

I will try to update you guys as we go, but for now here is to eating healthier in 2016 (picture us toasting with our berry smoothie in hand).

Cheers,

Lindsey

Budgeting Tips For 2016

Budgeting Tips For 2016

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We are one day away from 2016, and one thing we can agree on that we both want to work at is budgeting.  We are sharing some tips we are taking to heart in 2016.  Some of these are super simple, but we need reminders!  What are your tips?  Please tell us!

Meal Planning

Food is a big one for both of us!  It is one of the most obvious ways to save money.  For us, meal planning for each week eliminates the inevitable money you spend eating out when you don’t know what to fix each night.  One thing that helps me is meal planning for the whole week (not just a few days).  When my husband and I plan out the times we will go out to eat and we plan for meals to fix at home through the weekend, we find that we save money.  One thing we also both agree on, don’t go to the grocery store without a list.  Plan out your meals, make a list and don’t stray from the list at the grocery store.  You will save by not buying random items that you might not eat.  And, you will stop eating out so much. This has worked for us in the past (and it is so simple), but it is time to kick it into high gear!

Buy Timeless, Quality Pieces

Not so many years ago, I used to be the queen of the impulse outfit purchase. I could be strolling the isles of Target and grab a few outfits I thought were cute, or I would have a dinner and run to my favorite affordable clothing boutique and grab a top. Since having children my outings have become fewer but I have also become into timeless, quality pieces. Instead of 5 mediocre blouses I have started paying a little more for one blouse that will last longer and be timeless. A few years ago my sister and I both bought the same yellow dress from J Crew. We paid a little more for it and it still fits perfectly and look as new as it did on the day we bought it. In the long run I have started to save money because I am not impulsively buying clothes I will wear a few times but pieces that will be wearable for years to come.

Take a Food Inventory Before Grocery Shopping

I cleaned my pantry and refrigerator out yesterday and had the thought that so many have: “Why didn’t we use this?”  My husband and I decided next week we will look in the pantry and try to use some of the things we already have with our meal planning.  We will also look in the freezer.  For instance, we have frozen chicken and a yummy chicken marinade that will go bad in a few months.  So, we are having grilled chicken next week!

Stay At Home More

Okay, another simple tip, but one we need to practice this year: stay home more.  It seems like the more time I spend “running errands” or on the road, the more money I inevitably spend.  Now, you know we love traveling.  This doesn’t mean we will cut that out, but we will try to spend more time at home over the next month or two to jump start our savings plan.  At the end of the day, saving money is about contentment with what you have.  We want to be more content with being at home and using what we already have.  It also might cause us to be more creative with how we entertain ourselves!

Budget With a Separate Account Or Cash

Something that has helped me and my husband budget better is having a separate bank account for spending. We got together and decided we would have $800 a month drafted into  a completely separate bank account with a debit card linked to it. All of our purchases including food, eating out, hair cuts, all pharmacy purchases, hygiene products and any household items have to come out of this account. When the money is gone, it is gone. We call this our modified cash system. When we were first married we withdrew cash every month for our monthly spending. We have found having a debit card is more convenient. All of our spending comes out of one account and our other account is strictly for bills. After all of our bills come out of our account, any remaining money is put into a saving account or tucked away for our retirement.

Use Your Credit Card Less

I don’t consider us to be people who cannot handle a credit card.  We have always used one to get the cash back rewards of a credit card, and we pay it off every month.  However, we still swipe that card way too easily.  It sometimes keeps us from being truly aware of what we are spending.  When I was in college, I had a checking account.  That was it.  When that money was gone, it was gone.  It was very black and white: either I had the money to do something or I didn’t.  We are going to try to use our debit card more than our credit card this year, so that we have a more realistic take on our account and we may stop and think before we make a big purchase.

Pick One Thing to Pay Off Early

You can’t pay everything off at one time, so if you have some things you want to get paid off (maybe a car or student loans), try and pick one thing that you will give an extra $50 – $100 to every month.  That may sound like a lot, but if you think about it, you can probably find a way to pay a little extra on something.  That might mean one less outfit, but Dave Ramsey says these small victories will help you get on the right track financially.  If you don’t have any debt, try and put that little extra in savings.

Don’t Plan Any Big Purchases for Six Months

This can go with staying at home more.  Our family has some big things we would like to do in 2016, but we are going to try and hold off on those things for six months.  That means not talking about it or planning for it.  This goes back to contentment.  We need six months to get more content with what we have and get a jump start on saving more.  We are dreamers, and I cannot tell you how many times savings plans get off course because of some new idea or purchase we think we have to have.  So, we want the first half of the year to teach us restraint and what we can live without.  Do we have to have it?  If the answer is no, let’s wait!

~ Laura and Lindsey