Oh Hey, Friday [Winter Favorites]

Happy Friday, y’all! I am feeling so much better this week. After a week like last week, it was the best thing to be free and be allowed to do what I want – even go to work! I was stranded yesterday (my car is sick), and I felt just how cruddy it is to be cooped up in the house. However, this time around, I did a little cleaning, organizing, and…online shopping!

I’m currently loving my job, but actively searching for another. I am in a field that is the opposite of my current field of study, and I  need, more than anything, to get an internship in my field. So, as winter fell upon us just two days ago, I began to look for some cute winter staples that will help get me through a few interviews, and hopefully will come along with me as I venture into a new position soon! I’ve been stalking different style blogs for some must-have pieces, and I’ve been checking in on some of my favorite stores (GAP, Loft, and J Crew, to be exact) for some good sale prices! I’m still on the hunt for one particular piece, but first let’s see what I’m bringing to my closet in the next few weeks!

[one] Starburst Jeweled Sweatshirt

imageServiceI am so excited to get home to this beauty on my front porch! This sweater from Loft will be the perfect winter addition. It’s perfect for layering, which is great for someone who works in a chilly office (me) and who likes to layer it up whenever possible (me)! It’s currently 40 percent off online, as well as everything else in the store, so check it out!

[two] Voila! Tee


This is a bit of a fun one for me; when I graduated in May, I pretty much cleared out my closet from any fun tees. Not only that, but I also tossed a lot of my college tee shirts as well, mainly because they had aged after four years of constant wear! So, in a grown up manner, I am adding back in just a few cute statement tees for nights out and weekends running errands. This tee from Old Navy is simple, cute, and not too obnoxious! It’s also on sale, but only because they’re almost sold out!

[three] Ribbed Cowl Scarf


I am in love with this scarf. I cannot lie. It is just simple, and cute, and will go with anything (thankfully). I foresee myself wearing this scarf daily, and I might even grab another before the season is over. If there is anything that gets cold on my body first, it’s my neck. And it gets painful. So this little buddy is going to be my lifesaver this year! It’s on sale at GAP right now for $19.00, and they’re also running a 30 percent off deal!

[four] Women’s Frost Free Quilted Vest


I don’t even know what to say here. I think this is just a piece everyone should own! Sometimes, it’s not quite cold, but it’s not quite warm either, and you still feel like adding some layers. A simple puffer vest is THE way to go. I already have this piece, and for the past few weeks where it’s gone between 40 and 60 degrees, this jacket has been a life saver. It’s cute, easy to layer over a sweater, and when you add a scarf on top, it’s just the right amount of warm. This jacket is only $20.00 from Old Navy right now, and they are also having a little percent off sale!

[five] Shearwater Boots


This last item is my final must-have, but also the only item I do not own. Up until last year, or even the last two years, it wasn’t necessary to own snow boots. In fact, even now it’s not really necessary to own some crazy, heavy-duty boots like I had when I lived in Ohio. However, these shearwater boots are perfect. They aren’t too tall, they have a shearling lining for some added warmth, and a waterproof sole so that you can walk through the slush and “snow” that central Kentucky gets during the winter. They would be the perfect addition to my shoe collection…if it weren’t for the $150 price tag. So, I am hoping that J. Crew throws out a little Black Friday online sale (because I refuse to step foot in the mall on that day), and that before the big storms roll through, I will be the new proud owner of some stylish, practical boots!

What are some of your winter must-haves? I love to see what styles everyone finds as they find themselves having to bundle up! Have a happy Friday!

I’m linking up with Karli and Amy for Oh Hey, Friday.

I am also jumping back into Five on Friday with these lovely ladies: Darci, April, Christina, and Natasha

The Hunt Continues [Wedding Wednesday]

Hello again! Welcome to another round of Wedding Wednesday! Much to everyone’s surprise (especially mine), this post is actually on time! Insert all the shocked emojis you want, but it’s true. I’m here, and it’s time to get into the wedding mood. In the past two weeks, two more people in my life have gotten engaged! I think that, while I’ve been watching far-off friends (more like acquaintances) getting engaged via social media, it was not yet time for the people in my life to settle down…and now I’m thinking that time has come! We’re looking at four weddings in the next two years. That may seem like a small amount, but those are only the sure-thing engagements. I still have a great deal of friends who are in serious relationships, at least two of which I see taking the step towards marriage in the next few months! It makes me so happy that I get to share this time with my nearest and dearest, literally exchanging wedding-planning notes and all!


Now, onto the more selfish topic of moi (and Zach, don’t forget about him!). I completely skipped my Wedding Wednesday post last week, which was fine. Except now I’m backed up on the venue hunt! So, today, we’re going to introduce venues number two and three! If all goes according to plan (crossing my fingers, toes, and anything else crossable), our wedding will be at one of these spots, but I’m not revealing any favorites until the contracts are signed, dotted, and crossed. Each venue is still a possibility at this point, seeing as Zach and I both really loved all of them! Central Kentucky is such a great place for amazing venues, and at such a great range of prices. It’s making this whole planning thing much easier!

Now, on to the venues. I would like to formally introduce venue number two! This venue is still technically in Lexington, and it is just a few miles away from venue number one. However, they are polar opposites in the looks and type category! This venue is technically a horse training facility! You may find it strange, but we’re in the Bluegrass State. Horses are everyone’s neighbor (Get it? Neigh-bor? Oh, I crack myself up). Anyways, the specific area we are looking at in this venue is an old holding area for horse sales. They no longer do the sales at this site, which is great for us; think about the smells that could emanate from the space! The area holds up to 300 guests, has a warehouse/rustic feel to it, includes a bar, and a staging area for the catering! It comes with tables and chairs to fit 160 guests, which is right in our ballpark estimate, and we also get to work with an amazing event planner to make sure everything is looking nice. We are allowed to decorate however we want, come in early on the day of (or book for the day before and day of for a reduced price!), and all of that jazz. Now, time for the round everyone loves when searching for a venue…MONEY!


Remember our scale? Well, if not, let’s have a refresher; $ (much lower than the budget) to $$$$ (dream on, girl). Here’s a very brief overview of the things included:

  • venue space
  • tables and chairs for 160

And…that’s it! This venue is very basic; it’s an open space with some already built-in character, but it also calls for some personal touches here and there. The great thing about it is, if nobody else is hosting an event the Friday before, we can come in as early as we want on Friday to start setting the space up! For no additional cost! Here’s what we would need to bring in to the venue for additional costs:

  • Catering (outside or preferred)
  • Servers (outside or preferred)
  • Beverages (outside)
  • Alcohol (provided by venue for additional cost)
  • Ceremony space (if different from venue space)
  • Linens (outside or preferred)
  • Cake (outside)
  • DJ (outside)
  • Photographer (outside)
  • Extra tables and chairs (if needed, can be rented through venue)
  • Set up and tear down (free, but is family and friend labor)

So, as you can see when comparing venue one and two, this site is much less all-inclusive. This holds pros and cons of its own. Let’s start with the con (which isn’t all that much of a con, really): we’d have to do a lot of the work, but this means a more personalized look and feel to the wedding. Also, we’d have to crunch all the numbers for all the non-included vendors in order to see the budget. Which is just a huge time-suck, but is totally doable and necessary. Wanna hear the pros?

This venue is easily a $. Maybe even half a $. It is SO AFFORDABLE! The alcohol prices are even relatively cheap, the linens she rents are VERY inexpensive (but still great quality), and she has a recommendation or two for everything we still need. She recognized that most of her brides are trying to stick to a certain budget, so they like to find vendors who provide quality service for a low price. Which, duh, I LOVE! She was awesome, and if we were to choose this venue, I think it would be the smoothest sail of my life. The venue is still open on our date, and various other dates as well, which makes me breathe a sigh of relief.


Now, let’s visit venue number three. We saw this venue last Friday, and let me tell you, it was THE perfect September day. It was the kind of day I hope our wedding falls on. It was just right as far as the temperature goes, and the sky was a clear blue. I pulled into the parking lot and quietly sobbed for a second, it was so beautiful. Or that could be because someone’s car spit up a semi tread when I was on my way to the venue and left a HUGE dent in my bumper. Poor car. Anyways, pulling into that parking lot and seeing the venue just made my day so much brighter! This venue is definitely one-of-a-kind. It was, at one point, a boarding school for girls and a convent. Then just a convent. Then a public site owned by the city. Now, it’s privately owned, and being used as a wedding venue among other things! There is also a Montessori school on site, as well as a senior center (both of which are closed on the weekends). It is such a unique space, but I knew going into the tour that the space I wanted to see was not the boarding school itself. No, the space I wanted to visit was the barn out back. It has been refinished to be weatherproof, include brand new bathroom facilities, and, here’s the kicker, comes with a rental of 12+ acres of land. Rolling, lush greenery is just outside the barn, and it is stunning! We both loved the feel of the barn, as it was not too country, but more on the rustic side of things. It has a concrete floor, comes with banquet tables and chairs for 160, and has a huge patio that overlooks the green space.


Now, here is our Big Problem. This specific venue only holds up to 160 in the barn, and can fit an additional 100 seated on the patio. This is a bit of a concern for both of us; we already have a guest list topping out around 200, and even when we were visitng the venue, we were afraid that the inside of the barn looks just a tad bit small to fit 160 plus guests, a cake table, gift table, our couple’s table, the food, a DJ, and a dance floor. As much as I wanted to disagree with Zach, he was right. The interior is just a tad bit smaller than our guest list would need. But, there are options with this venue. We can use tents anywhere in the green space, and we can also use tent flaps on the sides of the patio. There are also two huge doors on either end of the barn that can open up to two parking areas. If we rented a dance floor and put the DJ out there, it would open up more space for seating. Basically, with this venue, we will either have to get creative, or get our guest list back down to the 120s. Both of which are options I am completely comfortable with.

Let’s hit the dollar signs at this point. I’m pretty sure by my discussion above you can guess what this venue includes:

  • venue space
  • tables and chairs for 160 (banquet tables only)

…and that’s it. Right on par with venue two, this venue offers only the bare minimum, which is not entirely a bad thing. As I’ve said, the only real con for this space is that it may not be big enough, and we both really wish it was. It is literally the perfect venue, gives us exactly the casual, rustic feel we want, and…its only a $-$$ price! It is right at the low to perfect end of our budget. We can’t come in the Friday before to set up, even if there aren’t events going on (unfortunately), but, we can rent the venue for the Friday before for half the price of the Friday price, which is already discounted! It really hits the nail on the head as far as our budget goes. Just for reference, here’s what we’d need to pay for in addition:

  • Catering (outside or preferred)
  • Servers (outside or preferred)
  • Beverages (outside)
  • Alcohol (provided by us, requires liquor liability license)
  • Ceremony space (if different from venue space)
  • Linens (outside or preferred)
  • Cake (outside)
  • DJ (outside)
  • Photographer (outside)
  • Extra tables and chairs (if needed, can be rented through venue)
  • Set up and tear down (free, but is family and friend labor)

It’s still very open, and although I thought the lack of a staging area for catering would be an issue, I’ve found a great number of caterers who are OK to cater to this venue. Which is good to hear for me. I think one huge pro for this venue with both Zach and my dad is that we can bring our own liquor. We have to get a liquor liability through the venue’s insurance, which is basically just a temporary liquor license, but it’s very cheap, and would help us save money on alcohol and also allows us to bring whatever drinks we want!

These last two venues are definitely exciting for us, because they have a bit more of the casual feel we both like for the wedding. It would be great if we could get the all-inclusiveness of venue number one in these two venues, but beggars can’t be choosers! We’ll have to see where we end up in a few weeks, when the date is chosen (!!).

For now, I’d love to hear your advice! Are there any unconventional venues that we wouldn’t have thought of that maybe we should try to find? Did you find any way of keeping the costs (and stress) low when you had to put together your entire team of vendors? I’d love to hear about it!

As always, I’m linking up for Wedding Wednesday!

Wedding Wednesday
Wedding Wednesday

It’s the Little Things [Wedding Wednesday]


Holy busy, Batman. This summer. THIS SUMMER, Y’ALL. It came, I had fun pretending to not be in school, and then all of a sudden I got full on t-boned by a semi truck. Not literally. But in this figurative story, that semi is named “Graduate School” and it hits like a ton of bricks. So not fun. I mean, exciting, but let’s be honest; would you like to graduate, get engaged, and then go right back to school while trying to enjoy planning a wedding and really not wanting to have homework?

No. Didn’t think so.

So, to make a long story a little bit shorter, I enjoyed my summer (most of it), and now it’s gone. All within a rapid succession of three weeks. I’ve been in school for THREE WEEKS already. How ridiculous is that? I’m a student once more (and full-time employee, and engaged girl planning her wedding…) and I’m already looking forward to December of 2015 when I graduate for real. Forever. For-ev-er.

Now that I’ve gotten that little spiel out of the way, let’s move on to the fun stuff…



I’m so beyond excited, and since I last graced my beautiful blog, well…not much has happened. Zach and I can’t put an exact date down until late November-early December due to work schedules, and I can’t say I’m all too happy about that. In fact, it’s pretty easy to say I hate it. I. Hate. It. I can’t put down any concrete plans for anything right now (with a few exceptions…) and that bothers me more than you would think.

I think that’s what being engaged really means to me. It’s the part of a new sidewalk where you’ve already thought about it, and you’re pouring the concrete into the frame. Zach and I are sure of this sidewalk, and we’ve got all the basic wood planks laid out on the confines of our sidewalk, but that concrete is not coming down the chute fast enough. It’s trickling, and I was really excited for the downpour of concrete. Something we can put our handprints on when it’s all laying there. I know it’s coming, but I’m impatient and not sorry about it!

Although I can’t put many concrete details down just yet, we did find an AMAZING photographer and we have our engagement session scheduled for my birthday in October! I am thrilled with the photographer and her work (and her prices!), and you all can look forward to a spattering of our mugs all over this little corner of the ‘web come mid-October. That little detail made me more excited than I thought it would, but it satiated the planner in me. Next Friday, we’re touring our first venue, too! I love the space, but we also have two other venues we’ll be looking through, and they all are strong contenders. It may just come down to whoever still has availability on our date come winter!

Since I can’t really do the concrete planning right this second (even though I am literally twitching from planning-desires), I decided to throw together a couple of Google docs so that I could be better prepared as we get further into this planning scheme. The first doc I decided to make was one for the two budgets. My mom and dad are pitching in a significant amount (mostly because they want to party!), and then Zach and I will be paying for some of the details on our own.


This is the budget I have set up for my parents. I just wanted something simple that I could plug a number in to and have the rest of the information update as I go along. Google docs was the obvious choice because I can update on my phone or tablet while still with a vendor or while on the phone! (No, I was not compensated at all to do this post, but Google can choose to do so if they so please!).

It was really simple (even for those of you who are not so spreadsheet-savvy). Here’s how I broke it down:

[one] Make sure to check out lists, websites, wedding planning books, friends, and your own brain to get a detailed list of where all of your expenses lie. Figure out what category they fall under, and then choose what percentage of the budget you want them to encompass.

[two] In the first column, two rows down, start your list. Make an overarching “umbrella” category for each individual cost. See that ceremony umbrella? Do that. Under each category, list the individual costs. Repeat for each category.

[three] I then went through and added columns for the estimated expense (based on my percent allotted), actual expense, and the difference between the two (to see if I could re-allot any of my budget). I then added more columns pertaining to the vendor for each item, their contact info, the amount I’ve paid, the amount I still owe, and when it’s due.

[four] Sit back and easily become obsessed with making these little charts for everything.

This is literally it. It was the easiest budgeting tool ever, and it was free! I love that I can adapt everything and change whatever I so please to change. because, let’s be honest, I’ll probably change a lot in the next year!

I also went ahead and made myself a monthly timeline for the things I think I need to complete. I know you see these in magazines left and right, but I think it’s important to personalize it. Each bride has different needs and different timelines; it’s important to change your planning tools to fit your journey! The Google doc was really boring, so I’ll spare you the screenshot. Instead, here’s a puppy:


So, seeing as it’s the beginning of the month anyways, and I honestly don’t see any additional goals being achieved, here are my September Wedding Goals.

September Wedding Goals

[one] Get engagement ring insured

[two] Figure out a beauty regimen

[three] Get new gym membership with Zach

[four] Finish making venue appointments

[five] Visit venues: take notes, take pictures, and ask every single question in my mind

There you have it! Thanks for keeping up with my less-than-sporadic blogging the past three months. Hopefully with the new schedule slowing down I will finally be able to get back here with all the posts I had planned in May!


Keeping Promises

I’ve told you all many a time about my plans for fitness and budgeting, and I’ve also told you all how well that has gone. And by well, you should know by now I mean my reality has fallen shorter than short when it comes to my goals. I have failed, and the only person I can hold responsible is myself. Time and time again I have set some very easily accessible goals for my savings account and my health, but time and time again I find myself gravitating towards the couch or that cute tunic at J. Crew. How can you hold your promises to yourself as well as you can with a friend or a sister?


I wish there was an answer easy enough for me to just spit it out, understand, and enact, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening in that manner. I have seen the results from my diet change, but I know that without any shred of fitness, I will stop seeing these results and I will be perpetually stuck with a soft body and health issues. I see how great it feels to watch my savings account fill up, reaching numbers I have never seen before, but then I find a pair of shoes I love more than any shoes I own. How do I get myself past these hang ups? How do I depend on myself to say “no” to these guilty pleasures?

I think that it’s time for me to take a new approach, check in on myself mentally, gain some healthy motivation and inspiration, and to take this fight to a personal level. This isn’t about showing you all how I do at keeping the billfold closed, and it’s not about showing you all how I look in a bikini – or naked! This is all for ME. This is all a set of selfish indulgences, but they are the healthy indulgences I need to take on. I need to save that money – not to prove that I can to my readers, but so that I can start to pay off my loans when they come around in the very near future. It’s so that I can plan a well-budgeted and fun wedding in the also somewhat-near future. It’s so that I can feel comfortable buying the things I need – food, gas, tuition, car repairs – without feeling afraid of having no cushion to fall back on in case of a bigger problem. I want to be fit so that I can love seeing my body without covering it in layers; I want to get healthy so that I can bear children someday without the health risks or complications. I want to workout so that I can be a great example to my future children and so that I can live to see THEIR future children. I need to be healthy because that’s what it takes to live life to the extent to which I want to live it.


It’s time for me to take my promises seriously, not as a passing fad or a part-time position. I need to save now, I need to work now, I need to relax NOW. I’m at the perfect place in my life to make these changes, and the only person I need to be responsible to is myself. I will keep these goals in my monthly goals, but that is all that you will hear from me on the topics of working out and saving money. I may bring up health and wellness from time to time, or I may share a trick I’ve learned that helps me save grocery money, but aside from that, I won’t be bringing anything personal to this blog unless it is something I won’t be guilting myself over. This blog is for fun, for opinion, for life, and for adventure, and I plan to live that adventurous life while fulfilling my promises.

Wednesday Talk


Artfully looking into the distance…I’m in love with a weirdo.

[one] LAST WEEK WAS AWESOME. Can I just repeat it again? Yes? Ok. Thank you, time travel.

[two] I have revisited my health goals and am TRYING to approach them in a way that I can find more positive and influential. I really do need (and want!) to get my health in order. Not that it is a dire need, but I feel it’s better to start before anything major were to pop up. Healthy meals, more sleep, and some regular exercise coming up!

[three] This brings me to the two confessions I can’t seem to stop confessing; I have screwed over my budget AND diet this month. Again. Time to make a new plan for both! (I see card spending limits being set in the near future…).

[four] I went home after work and a stressful trip to the grocery yesterday, ate my pizza (not healthy, I know), and plopped back into my bed. Where I stayed until 8 this morning when my alarm went off. While I wish I could have slept even longer, it was just what my body (and soul…and mind) needed after a rough start back in the real world.

[five] 45 days until I graduate. 42 days until I have completed this mess of a semester. I have never before in my life thought about how much I am wasting to go to college until this semester. I just want to finish my courses, pass them all, and never look back. 45 days…

[six] My grandma comes to town tomorrow! I am so, so excited to see her. I was just visiting with her right before spring break (for her birthday), and it was just great to grab brunch and spend time with her. She went through a huge bout of illness last fall, so it is FANTASTIC to see her healthy and in high spirits!

[seven] 47 days until I’m in Florida with some awesome people. AND AND AND. MY BEST FRIEND ASKED ME TO TAKE SOME ENGAGEMENT PICTURES OF HER AND HER BOYFRAAAAN. I’m so excited! I know I’m not a professional, and who even knows what my sun-filled beach shots will turn out like (better than I’m giving myself credit for, I’m sure), but I am just so happy to get to spend time with them during the special time in their lives.

[eight] There are two things you should all look into: eBates and eMeals. The internet is taking over my life and I kind of love it! eBates is amazing, saves me a TON of money, AND I earn money back on each purchase. eMeals is not so free, but for $10 dollars a month, I get a full seven days of dinners to make, complete with ingredient list, instructions for cooking, AND a shopping list for the entire week. Best part? They cater to special diets! Gluten free, paleo, clean eating, classic dining; whatever you are looking for, they have it. Check out both sites and sign up if it sings to your soul.

[nine] It snowed again yesterday, and I feel as though a small part of my soul died. My hands are dry, my lips chapped, and my scalp has become flaky. Spring is just around the corner, right? Right?!

[ten] Following my two doctor visits over break, all reports are coming back with nothing but good news! This is all fine and dandy, and really, it’s a relief to know I’m in good, normal, healthy shape, but the big one has yet to come. The dentist and I have a rendezvous in two weeks. Will I make it out alive without cavities? My guess is no…but a girl can hope!

Keep an eye out tomorrow for the first of many interesting topics that I have been dying to talk about, but kept losing the time to do so. It’s a topic that is close to my heart…and you may be seriously surprised to hear what it is!


Budget: 0

Rachael’s Lack of Self-Control: 1


if only Monopoly money worked in the real world…

This is not exactly the score I wish to see in the beginning of the month. I’m literally one week into March, looking forward to two weeks of fun and then one last week of the spring month, then heading right into the next part of spring. One month closer to summer; one month closer to graduation; one month closer to a Florida vacation; one month closer to the rest of my life. And the problem is? I still can’t get this budget down. I am a self-proclaimed shopaholic, and that is not as fun as it sounds. I’m not really sure how I adopted the habits I currently possess, and I’m not really sure how to kick them, but one fact remains true: these habits need to go.

I have spent the first two months of this new year striving to build a better fall-back for myself; in just a few short months, I will be a college graduate moving on to the next step, which just so happens to be more schooling. I am beyond blessed to have parents who are willing to help (somewhat) support me in the remaining next two years, and believe me, I am counting those blessings. If I were not going back into school in May, instead opting to move my future ahead as-is, I would not be anywhere near ready to take on the world on my own. I lack the foundation of a solid savings account and the budget smarts (and self-control) that are needed to start a good, comfortable life on my own. Yes, someday the savings account will be filled by two pockets; yes, when you have a job, the pay increase is more than enough to help; no, both of those mentioned above will not help me live comfortably.

Comfortable living, to me, is knowing that when I have a car malfunction, I will have the means to support myself. It is knowing that I am building a future for my future children. It is knowing that, when those loans come calling, I will have some space to wiggle when I need to account for bills, a mortgage, food for more than one, and so on. Comfortable living begins with the budget savvy-ness that I just don’t have, but that I need to learn. I know how to save money, I know that I should stop buying the things that I do, like a new pair of jeans and a cute top that sit in my closet after a walk around the local shopping center. I just can’t get the power to tell myself “no”. I took Zach around with me this weekend, and I said “no” more than I said “yes”, but even then, I was still saying “yes” when I should have turned and walked out of the store. He helped me fight the urge to purchase meaningless items, but I still found myself picking up items I truly did not need.

This month is already being declared a failure on the budget front, but I plan to turn that around from this week forward.

I want to make sure that I take nothing more than I need for the rest of this month. The money I am wasting in the various corners of my life (clothing, CDs, makeup), could be used to save up for a better, more quality wardrobe. It could be used to donate money to the local humane society. I could be saving up for a future wedding, for God’s sake! These bigger things in life need to come to my mind first when I start to browse the local shops. Maybe I need to give myself a free-spending area in my budget, just so I can have that one splurge each month (and by splurge, I mean a needed new pair of jeans, or that really great primer that I’ve been eyeing); for now, I will just have to give that some thought. Until then, I just need to stop. If there is one thing I know, it is obviously the importance of saving; the only problem is the inability to stop. I need to learn how to say “no” so I can say yes to other things in life, and now is the time for that new beginning.

I’m pretty sure my wallet will thank me.

March Goals (and the Honesty Circle)

Alright, y’all, it’s time for two big truths that I have been avoiding all month.

I have completely failed my fitness goal for the month…and my budget goal for the month, too.



If you’ve been following the past two months, you know just how important these two goals have been in my life. Being 2 months away from graduation and getting into my mid-20s, these two goals are high on my list of priorities; I’m going to be paying a lot of bills/loans on my own soon, as well as needing to save (SAVE, SAVE, SAVE) so I can build up my fallback. I also really need to get my body as healthy as it can be and keep it that way. This is the point in my life where I can get to my goal without the complications that may come along in the next ten years. I really need to hold myself accountable for these two goals, but I really find myself falling short every day. I have Zach around to guilt me into my workouts every once in a while, but I know how to get him to hold off on the nagging if I don’t want to do anything one evening. That shouldn’t be my primary source of encouragement – I should be! Because of these fallbacks in my goal-setting for the month, I’ve set the same goal, and a few rules to go along with them in order to say “no” to the bad and “yes” to the good. So, first off, here is the stance of my…

February Goals:

Write at least 4 letters this month. [womp, womp]

Read one leisure book (SOON) [SUPER womp, womp. Maybe over Spring break]

Cook two dinners a week for the family. Mom deserves a break! not done every week due to schedules, but I’m keeping it up!]

Compile a 101 in 1001 list! Long-term goals for the win. [You’ve seen this. If not, check out the top of the page!]

Continue budget and exercise goals. [womp, womp, wooooomp]

Find a hobby and get really good at it (pick up that camera!) [started but stopped. not quite where I want it to go]

Do some research into wedding/event planning for future goals (talk to recently married couples) [This is ongoing]

Treat Zach to a Valentine’s Day surprise. It’s not just a day for me! [Beer and music. I’m awesome!]

Call a friend or family member 3 times a week (parents do not count!) [womp, womp]

Buy my web domain! [womp, womp]

And here comes the new set of goals, as well as a few disclaimers. As much as I want to take all of my unfinished goals and plop them into March’s slot, some of my ideas won’t fit into this month. I will pick them back up after the end of March (pending success in certain other areas), and then hopefully I will be back on track and where I want to be! So, without further ado, here come the…

March Goals:

Workout AT LEAST 4 times a week for one hour

Cut out all chocolate

Cut out all soda

Stay on track for the budget (check yourself twice a week)

Do not spend money on anything outside of the budget. Absolutely nothing. No exceptions.

Write at least 4 letters this month

Read two leisure books over spring break

Call a family member or friend 3 times a week

Continue to work on the camera (do some research!)

There it is! Hopefully I can find some new, exciting ways to keep myself on my toes and in touch with my goals; these are desires I have for myself for only the best reasons. I know that I shouldn’t beat myself up, but at some point you have to cave in and show yourself some tough love (hence giving chocolate and soda the boot. I’ll miss you, Dove chocolates!). I really need to crack down and teach myself these good habits ASAP, before I take my bad habits into the future and make a mess of what could start out as a much easier financial situation and a much healthier lifestyle. Wish me luck!

What are some ways in which you motivate yourself to take on the tough stuff? How do you find a way to say no to the bad and push for the good?

Gettin’ Fit!


Today has been, well…a day. I was going to go into detail about how miserable this week has been, how cold it is, how I almost became a Rachael sandwich today, blah, blah, blah.  But NO! I am going to jump into something that actually lifts my spirits. I’m sure that if I wasn’t taking the week away from exercise, my day would have been, at the very least, a good day, but I think for now talking to you all about it is what will make it a better day.

Starting this year out like millions of others out there, with a…resolution…was, well, pretty much normal. I had always thought of the New Year as a new start like so many others out there. What I was doing really was making an excuse to not start my life changes the day I knew it had to happen. So, although it took some serious procrastination, January 1st 2nd was the beginning of a new chapter. I call it my new chapter, just like I would graduation, a new relationship, a birth, because it is a change, and it’s a change that I plan on keeping for the rest of my life. Working out is a personal decision, but getting healthy is a necessary one. I want to live a long, happy life, and in order to do so, fitness is key. This whole month, I’ve been eating healthier, working out at least 5 days a week, and finding different ways to motivate myself to keep it up.

My motivation for this month was a new outfit! I chose to make it a workout-friendly outfit because I found myself actually enjoying exercise this past month, and it’s one great feeling! I thought I would struggle with the exercise part, but it has actually been easiest. As I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post, the hardest part of this month has been the cravings. I have had some great diet days, but I’ve also had some seriously bad chocolate-fueled days. And I really need to work on that particular aspect of it all. Your diet plays a huge part in weight loss and muscle gain, and this month, that is my biggest mantra.


This book is one of the many resources I’ve been using to help get acquainted with what is truly healthy and how to fuel my body. It’s the Women’s Health Perfect Body Diet by Cassandra Forsythe. Honestly, I came by this book by chance. It was in a Half Price Books here in Lexington (my mecca), and it caught my eye more than anything. It looked more fun than the typical health-wise novel, and I had the fitness challenge on my mind! It has a lot of information on what is healthy for every person’s body, frame, and so on, and it gave me a great estimate of what and how much I should be eating during the week. My diet is hard to control due to a hectic schedule and college-kid money status (aka POOR), so I’ve been doing what I can; however, this unfortunately means I can’t make a meal prep-plan (boo-hoo). Hopefully this can change in the next few months, but until then, I’ll just work on the curbing the cravings!

Diet aside, my exercise schedule can be made, because I’ve got an entire hour set aside each day, and a great array of equipment/videos to use! With an elliptical and stationary bike, plus every Bob Harper video I could ever dream of (thanks, Mom!), I have had a great jump into getting fit! Since I have already lost a bit of weight earlier last year (17 down, 13 to go!), it wasn’t too hard to get to a comfort level, so I’ve already been pushing myself harder each day. As much as I love the videos I do have, I want to start a program of sorts where my weight training can be expanded. If I fall short in any fitness category, it would be the weights. I don’t know how to do most of it, or where to start even, so video assistance is nice! So, with my next month down, I feel I will be ready to get into a more rigorous routine, and I’ve already chosen the program! Everyone raves about P90X, and I’d love to start there, but it seems a bit intimidating to be honest. After a few hours of research (at work…), I found Power 90 Master Series. Turns out, Tony Horton has a whole set of P90s that lead up to the X’s (most recently P90X3), and I think the step below extreme is right for me. Also on the list? Brazil Buttlift…well, a 20-minute extra workout. I like my butt, people, live with it!

Well, this lasted longer than I was expecting. But it really has brought my spirits up a bit! Later in the next week or so I’ll share my month’s exercise schedule. Scheduling everything is easier than just going in blind, at least for me, and if I’m not wanting to do my weight training one day, it’s not impossible to sub in an hour on the elliptical! I’m really excited to see what month two has in store for my body, and I’ll be even more excited to see how building my muscle back is going to help kick-start my metabolism and rev that energy!

Have you had any success with at-home exercise programs? If so, which ones? Did you find any outside resources helpful? I’d love to hear all about it below!

Must Be the Money!


Is it really time to get a budget check-up? I can’t believe January is already gone! One month of this new year has already slipped out from under our feet, but it feels like I was just celebrating the beginning yesterday. It’s amazing how quickly 30 days can fly by, and how much can be accomplished! The workout goals for this month have played out better than I ever could have imagined, but I’ll hold off on that until Monday. Until then, it’s time to come clean: my budget did not go even close to how I had hoped it would this month. I know that it is the beginning of the year, and the very first month of my new budget, but it was not as pretty as I would have hoped. I hate to say I have good excuses, because they are excuses nonetheless, but I’m going to say it anyways. I have a good reason (or three)!

Reason #1 My Budget Failed This Month// I completely forgot about the whole part of college where I have to buy textbooks. And a lot of them. All at once. Spending over $200 on texts for my last semester came as a surprise, although I knew it was coming, and it seriously pained me to see it all whisked out of my savings! I know that it was a necessary expense, but it was an unaccounted for expense to say the least. This pain also could have been due to…

Reason #2 My Budget Failed This Month// I bought a dress. And stuff at Target that I could have lived without. I know that these are just two things on my list, but “just two things” can easily turn into an excuse that I need to get rid of. NOW. So, I need to set better motivational goals for myself to follow so that maybe I can focus on saving more for future awesome purchases or investments.

Reason #3 My Budget Failed This Month// I low-balled on my groceries. If I could put words towards telling you exactly how angry this made me, I would do it, but I just can’t. Zach told me at the beginning of the month that I’d go over that particular section of my budget. I tried to tell myself he was wrong. I said he was wrong when I spent twice my weekly budget the first week of stocking up. I told myself this as I held off buying food for the next week. I told myself this as I realized that I make a separate mini-grocery run on the weekends at Zach’s place. And then, this week, as I made my last trip to the grocery store, I admitted it. My grocery budget sucked, and it needed to bump up.

I think the main reason this particular reason sucked the most is that I don’t have a category where I can budge on my spendings. I hit each budget as it was, saving in my emergency funds and the like, and I even had a few bucks to spare in my entertainment and eating out envelopes. But this was not nearly enough for me to cut out and place into my groceries, nor was it dependable enough of a category to lower. So, I have just told myself to suck it up; groceries are a very necessary spending column (survival, duh), and I can’t afford not to raise it a bit. So as it is, here is a brief look into what I do each month (as of today’s new and improved grocery budget).

*Note: not every budget is shown, but if you are looking for more comparisons, feel free to ask!*


I apologize for the plain and simple, but that’s pretty much all I’ve got! This is a very small glimpse into my personal budget. Keep in mind that I’m a single college student who has her rent paid for. I’m sure that if I had other bills to be paying at the time, certain areas would have a smaller budget that they do now. However, considering my personal situation and spending habits, this budget fits me perfectly, and leaves me making more than I’m spending. Creating a savings cushion for myself before I am married/on my own/graduating grad school is something that I find extremely important, and this budget allows me to do just that.

Before the budget renovation, my grocery budget was at $120 a month. At $30 a week, I was not doing so well. Amazingly, seeing my spending habits, bumping my budget up to $180 a month ($45 a week), I am helping set myself up for more financial success. Giving myself $20 total for entertainment and eating out really gives me the freedom to have some fun with my week without overdoing it. My entertainment budget can be used on anything from movies, magazines, books, a concert, what have you. I personally use mine on magazines exclusively…at least for now. Eating out is fairly straightforward as well; Starbucks, Panera, frozen yogurt. I leave my house to eat it somewhere else, it comes from this envelope. Certain envelopes roll over from month to month, my haircuts budget from the example, which means the cash builds up to the amount I will need when I go to the salon next. I also have three savings categories, my emergency auto savings in the example. This means that I am saving $20 a month for when I have to get an oil change, new tires, windshield wipers, what have you. Since I really only have an “emergency” auto need once or twice a year, the savings gives me plenty of wiggle room.

Only two charges go directly on my card, and those are gas and my Hulu subscription (judge me!). Gas is always an unpredictable charge, and it is necessary anyways, so I always charge it. Hulu is a direct charge. If I were paying rent/mortgage or any bills, I would take them from my card as well. The amounts are necessary, consistent, and normally can be set up for a direct charge.

And there you have it! This budget works very well for me, and although I had my various hangups this week, I am hoping that with the changes I’ve made after this month, I will be able to be more happy about the way it all works out next month. Until then, I need to come up with a challenge to ward off pointless spending! Maybe I’ll go with my exercise goal (workout 5 days a week for one month, make a workout-related purchase), or maybe I’ll have to come up with something a little more expense-friendly (hit my budget for the majority of the month, get a delicious dish of frozen yogurt from Orange Leaf!). Any who, I’m sure we can explore further as the month comes around!

If you have any budget tips, please feel free to share! I love to hear all about new ways to make it more fun.

Also, as a side note, this budget is adapted from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Revisited. If you want to learn more, ask or look into it!

Savvy savings…sometimes

I think that I’ve realized that I really can’t hold on to my debit card, no matter how hard I try. I can’t save my money. I always end up spending it all on things that I want but maybe don’t need so much. And that’s a problem because the real world is now one month closer than it was in November! That’s a scary thought…but I digress. I need to figure out how to save the little that I do earn at my part-time job. In a little less than a year, I will be paying off my (huge) student debt, pitching in on rent and utilities, not to mention groceries and gas money! My parents have done the best job they could teaching me how to save my money or to spend it wisely, but I am just not the saving type, which SUCKS. They have helped me out with my rent and utilities while I have been in school, and that has saved my ass many a time. But I still take advantage of the extra cash when I should be keeping it for good use. I think I am the least fiscally-aware being in my family. Seriously. My little brother has always been the most frugal person I know, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more jealous of that trait.

I want to save more of my money so that as I pay off bills each month, I can still afford to eat at a nice restaurant once a month or go see that AWESOME new Avenger’s movie on a Saturday! I enjoy my Starbucks too much, my date nights, my cute new dress for Christmas, and just about everything else that I waste my money on. But for some reason, I just can’t stop. So, I’m going to challenge myself at the beginning of the year (so I can try not to stress over holiday expenses); I want to save more than I spend on the necessities for the entire semester. The approach I am taking is to withdraw the amount of money I budgeted for certain things (gas and groceries, mainly) in cash, and to lock away my debit card for the rest of each month. The amount of money that I will be saving should be fairly huge, and I will hopefully (hopefully, hopefully, HOPEFULLY) figure out how to save my hard-earned money before it’s too late to begin.

Budgeting is the least interesting thing in the world to me, and I know I am not alone in that respect, but I also know that as I get older it is becoming more important for me to use my earnings wisely, otherwise I’m setting myself up for failure before I can even get started. I find that writing about it is more of a motivator for myself, so if you’re out there reading this insanely boring post, I’m sorry. Go find something more interesting that I’ve written. But from January 1st, 2014 to May 10th, 2014, I’ll be keeping up on my budget and letting you all know how it’s going and if my challenge of choice is really doing the trick. Hopefully I can change my dirty habit before graduation day!


Have you ever tried to find a way of saving rather than spending? Tell me about it!