Friday, January 27, 2017
It's not something we talk about with too many people, but after our first was born, we fell into hard financial times. We hadn't saved and planned properly for the weeks I would be off work after N was born...and then I didn't go back at all, like planned. There was quite a bit of time, where we had very little food in the house, and quite a few bills had to also go unpaid. When I did start working in another position a few months later, the damage had been done, and digging out of the debt and late fees wasn't something that could easily be done.
Fast forward five years later, and we have made a ton of progress in our financial health. We still have a ways to go to get our credit back to what it once was, but we will get there!
So why am I sharing this? Debt and struggling to pay bills isn't uncommon for so many families. Money management isn't something that comes naturally, and a lot of people I know, we're never taught how to save and invest. I'm no financial guru, but one habit hubby and I have been working on, that has been amazing for our financial health and for our relationship, is to take time to work together and plan everything we need to do...daily, weekly, monthy, yearly, and beyond!
Daily: We strive to sit down each evening and make a quick to-do list for the following day. This usually consists of household chores, phone calls, and bills to pay. Doing this gets us on the same page with what's going on financially and also gives us each a chance to prioritize little things we need to get done around the house. We also try to check the mail, add new bills to the calendar, and check our bank account balance.
Weekly: Once a week, we sit down to look at the upcoming week. What bills are due? What appointments do we have? Are there any small projects that need to be done? To make this something to look forward too, we also try to have a mini date night after our "meeting". It is a great time to prioritize the chance to connect over dinner or a movie at home!
Monthly: At the end of the month, we make time during our weekly "meeting" to also take a look at the upcoming month. Like all homeowners, we always have projects to do around the house that may require a day or two to complete. Weekends for us, fill up so quickly with birthday parties, play dates, visits to our families, and errands. Sometimes, things that need to be done around the house, just don't happen, because the time isn't there. By planning the month ahead, we can pick out a weekend where we plan to stay home and make time for things around the house that we want to tackle. We budget money to complete the project. We also block out more than enough time to complete each project so we don't end up with half finished things around the house.
Yearly: We haven't had the chance to get a babysitter yet, but we are getting the chance soon to sit down and plan out our year. This will take place at a coffee house or resturant like Panera, so we can sit around as long as we need to, and without intteruption. The yearly meeting, will be the time to talk about our goals as individuals, as a family, and as a couple. Do we want to do a vacation? Redo a bathroom? Save a certain amount to our savings this year? Take a date night out of the house each month? Take a class or make time for a hobby? Once we know the "whats", we can plan out when we want to try to do each thing and work out a plan to save up for each goal. While the timeline may change as the year progresses, this allows us to know exactly what our goals are and gives us a plan to tackle them.
During the yearly meeting, I also want to take time for each of us to virtually work on our vision boards. I will do a post soon about how important these are! Spending some time to find the right pictures and words online, for us to later print and put onto our own vision boards, is another huge step in making things happen for the upcoming year. Manifestation and using a vision board, is something that greatly impacted how this past year played out, and I can't imagine living without one now!
Beyond: I read an article on medium.com recently (I will link to it later...it is a great read!), that explained how you should plan ahead and make goals for more than just a year. Some goals take longer than a year to achieve. Want a new house? What has to be done around your current one, to be in the best condition to maximize what your house will appraise for? What are you looking for in the next house? Where do you want to move?
Having some long term goals in mind, allows you to make choices now that can help you reach them down the road. For us, we know we may want to sell in 2-3 years. Working to have our house "ready to sell" by that time, means we won't be scrambling to get a ton of stuff done as it gets listed. We also know we want to buy our next car in about 4-5 years, and we talk about where we may want to move after hubby retires (he wants south, I want north!) Sure, life happens and plans may change, but if we keep these goals in mind, we can make sure we don't lose sight of all of the dreams we have!
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
A handed down recipe from my husbands family that was tweaked by a family friend, and tweaked again by us. I am NOT a fan of soup, but this one has me obsessed! It is the perfect warming-you-up, comfort food and leaves you feeling satisfied. It makes a ton of soup and reheats well, so plan on enjoying leftovers.
1 whole chicken (remember to remove the extra stuff from the inside!)
Large carton of chicken stock
4-6 large carrots, peeled and sliced to about 1/4 inch
4 large celery sticks, sliced
1-2 medium yellow onions, sliced
5 large chicken bullion cubes
1/2 bottle of white cooking wine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tbs. Creole Seasoning (we used Tony Chachere brand)
1 bag of egg noodles (or less if you prefer)
*You will also need a large stock pot (7 quart)
Place rinsed, whole chicken into the stock pot.
Add the stock....
Cover pot and turn burner to medium-high heat. Bring broth to a low boil, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil. Boil until the skin and meat is cooked, and pulls easily away from the bone of the legs. The cooking time varies for this, so check on it occasionally. It took me about 1.5 hours.
Carefully remove chicken from the broth and place on a platter or pan to cool.
Add carrots, celery, onion to the broth.
Add the bullion cubes and the white wine to the broth.
Add creole seasoning, and minced garlic. You can also add more salt and pepper to taste.
Once chicken is cooled, pull all the meat from the carcass, and remove all bones and skin. Cut the meat into large chunks. Add the meat to the veggies and broth.
Cook on a low boil with the lid cracked, until the carrots become tender (I think it was about 30-45 minutes). Stir occasionally, while cooking. Once the carrots become tender, add the bag of egg noodles and TURN OFF the burner. Cover the pot and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Serve alone, or with crackers or fresh bread and enjoy!