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How Saving Money Can Transform Your Life

 

long road

Make your path intentional

How Efficient Is Your Life?

I mean in terms of how you use food, electricity, water, clothing, and all the other necessary resources for living in the modern world. It’s so easy to be sloppy in these areas because life is busy and we all get distracted moving a mile a minute.  If you’re like me, you have clothing hanging in your closet with the tags still on. 

Preserve Your Garden Fresh Herbs

Onion Flowers

Onion Flowers

In addition to my balcony garden, I have a plot in the community garden.  It’s not a big space, but I do have a little irrigation system hooked up that auto-waters every morning and evening.  This is a huge time saver; I only have to stop by a few times a week to check on things, picking whatever is ready to go. If I’m being honest, I’d like to have the whole garden to myself, but I guess I have to share.  Bummer.

Travel Adventures Nearby

Travel Colorado

Remote roadside photo opp in Colorado

Travel doesn’t always have to be far

Summertime is heavy with the hum of travel.  Everyone I’ve spoken to recently has plans to go somewhere and asks where I’ll  be traveling. I do love to travel, and have gotten to do quite a bit in recent years.  For instance, a year ago, I went to Amsterdam and Belgium; my first and only trip to Europe so far, and it was an amazing experience.

Balcony Bounty And A Veggie Stir-Fry

snap peas

Fresh from the balcony

Happiness is Fresh Snap Peas

It was a lovely morning, full of sunshine and the musical trills of red-winged blackbirds that live in the soggy marsh near my house. It was going to be a busy day, so I was up early,  with a cup of coffee in one hand and a basket for picking in the other. Today was the day I could FINALLY  harvest some snap peas.  I have been circling the two vine-filled pots on my balcony for weeks, like a hungry vulture.  Well, if vultures were vegetarians anyway. I’m certain anyone who follows me on Instagram has long-since grown tired of seeing pictures of pea plants.  Unfortunately for all of them, my next post will be about peas…again. Sorry guys!

Growing Greens and Peaceful Mornings

Growing Greens and Peaceful Mornings

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I got up early this morning, and even at 6 am, it was already heating up – its supposed to be nearly 90 today.  I made a quick cup of coffee (a serious morning necessity) and headed out to my plot in the community garden to see what I could find.  It’s only a 3 minute bike ride down there, and so fresh and peaceful that early.  The birds are cheerfully singing from their high branches and the little brown rabbits are nosing about in the overgrown weeds on the sides of the road.  No one else is out yet and I pretend the entire garden is mine, if only for a few minutes.

Create A Beautiful Balcony Garden

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Growing Food In Small Spaces

This summer marks the third year of my balcony garden. We purchased a two-story condo that sits atop an office 3 years ago.  The neighborhood is great – one of those live, work, play communities that have become so popular. However, moving to a more urban environment was an adjustment for me.  I grew up in the Midwest, with gardens and critters all around; a theme I carried into my adult life with my family.  When moving to Colorado, and with only two teenage boys still at home (we have 4 children), we decided to downsize. What was I to do without a backyard and garden?  I decided to try my best with the space I have, and much to my delight, been very successful!

Simplify Your Life: Riding a Bike

Is Riding a Bike Practical?

Have you ever noticed how much a walk, even a short one, improves your mood? Somehow, a trip around the neighborhood makes you feel more alive and connected. I was on such a walk and it got me thinking… I was spending quite a few hours each week in my car, not to mention all the fuel that was burning. What if I took some time already set aside for the gym and rode my bike around town for errands and appointments instead?  It wouldn’t really be costing me extra time, on the contrary, I would be getting in some cardio while also getting things done. I decided to dust off the old bike and try it out.

Now, I have to admit that up until now, I have not been a regular biker.  I’ve ridden on trails and around the neighborhood, which is great, but never as a means of transportation. Riding on the street made me a little nervous at first, only because I had to get used to how it all worked.  It really wasn’t hard at all.  In fact, over the last two months, I have absolutely fallen in love with it.  Instead of driving 2 miles to an appointment, I bike there. Rather than drive the car down to the grocery store or farmer’s market, I ride my bike.

There are some logistics to get used to.  Instead of a 15 minute car ride, I have to plan for a little more time. When I started getting serious about riding, I bought a few things that were necessary: a front/rear light for night riding, a good helmet, and the cutest little bike trailer ever. Here is the one I got.  When its time to shop, I simply hook up the trailer, shop and load up the groceries. I get my shopping and my exercise done at the same time. So, that’s actually a time savings!

The Hidden Benefits

Photo credit to https://www.aosom.com/.

Practical riding (Photo credit to Aosom Elite.)

What I love most about this change is that it requires me to slow down my schedule. Riding a bike prevents me from overloading my schedule with too many stops.  I can’t pack out my morning or evenings like I can when driving because it does take more time. And, just like that walk I was talking about earlier, it makes me feel more connected.  As I ride, I feel the cool breeze, smell the freshly cut grass, hear the birds singing and have the opportunity to speak to people who are also out and about. I would miss out on all those things if I were shut up in a car.  Instead, I am engaged with my environment and I love being part of it.  It is such a refreshing change.

Saturday morning ride

Saturday morning ride

On the weekends, my husband joins me.  We ride together to the farmer’s market, our community garden, or anywhere else we need to go.  Maybe we’re old boring people, but it is the best date ever! The time together with him is building memories that I know we’ll look back on for years to come. I seriously doubt we would feel quite the same riding around in the car!

So, try something new. It may take some planning and getting used to, but I know you’ll love it.

Simplify, slow down, savor your moments.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Meal Plan And Grocery Haul

DSCF4576 Weekly Grocery Haul

I had a pretty epic grocery shopping trip last week.  By that, I mean that I got a ton of stuff on sale.  Since so many thins I usually buy were on sale, I bought extra.  So, this week, I was able to go lighter and keep my grocery bill low.  We had two leftover nights last week too, which means I was able to save a meal or two for the meal plan this week.  I’m really excited about the money saved because – you guessed right – it’s going straight toward a credit card.  That’s the debt repayment tactic here – any extra penny is being put toward debt.

Planning New Year’s Resolutions

Follow your path with intentionality

Follow your path with intentionality this new year

Positive New Year’s Resolutions

Each January, most people make New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, get in shape, save money, and so on.  I think reflecting on your past year is a great way to add direction to your life in the coming one.  It’s easy to beat yourself up over the things you didn’t do so well at.  Instead of reflecting on the negative, I’m choosing to remind myself of goals I made the year before; what I did well, and what needs improvement.  This seems like a healthier way to handle New Year’s resolutions.  I recognize that I’m not perfect, but there are areas that I feel really proud of.  I want to continue to build upon those and gain encouragement to do better on the rest.

What’s Your New Year’s Word?

I’ve read quite a few articles recently on choosing a word, kind of like a theme, for the coming year. Give your New Year’s resolution a name.  I think this is a great way to focus on the ‘flavor’ you want the new year to have.  Maybe if getting into shape is your goal, strength would be your word.  If saving is your thing, frugal or discipline are good choices.  I think my word for this year is going to be Intentionality.  As I look back on my goals for last year, I feel really encouraged about what I’ve accomplished.  Rather than create new resolutions, I want to continue on with the ones I chose last year.  To do this, I see that I need to be very intentional about my attitudes and choices.  So, My  New Year’s resolution is to follow the path I started this time last year because it is bringing me closer to the life I want.

Tiny Steps To Big Goals

Goals are funny things; each day is made up of hundreds of seemingly harmless choices that can make or break your path to reaching them. Realizing this shouldn’t fill your heart with indecisiveness or fear about making choices, but rather, encourage you that each good one brings you closer to your chosen goal.  It’s like that saying, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  This attitude can make achieving what you want so much more attainable.  Small, intentional choices along the way make change seem less overwhelming. I’ll give you some examples from my life…

I have written quite a bit about being frugal and living simply.  The reason behind this is a goal my husband and I have made to get out of debt and save more.  Being successful at this means more options and freedom for the life we’re aiming to create.  This goal is an admission that we’ve been far from perfect in our financial choices.  Rather than focus on the negative here, I am choosing to follow a different thought process: I’m thankful that we realized at a relatively young age that we needed to change in order to reach our goals.  A positive focus can make the journey joyful rather than penitent.

More on our journey to financial freedom later.

Live And Learn

For now, I want to encourage you to celebrate what you did well last year.  Don’t ignore your shortcomings by any means; our failures are excellent teachers when we look at them honestly. Look at the good, bad and ugly.  Then, decide where you want to end up.  You can’t begin or finish a journey unless you map the route.  What will your path be this year?  What daily choices can help you make each step?  Once you identify your destination, try to focus on what you need to do today to get there.  Focusing on today rather than the whole year will make each day an accomplishment.