Personal finances: How I found extra money in my budget

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Most people, even those already on a budget, could find a few places here and there to cut expenses. When I got serious about paying off my debt earlier this year I went through my costs and found several things that were being automatically deducted from my account that I was never or rarely using.

The great thing about a budget is that it gives you permission to use your money as you want and know that it is all assigned to something. I’m not an advocate for totally stripping away anything that brings you joy. To me, this whole budget life is about balance and still enjoying things. I still include $25 every pay day to get my eye brows waxed because it makes me feel good about myself. I also decided to spend a little extra money this weekend to get a few new clothes for work. Again, this makes me feel better about myself and makes me more productive. The key for me is not charging things on my credit card. If I can work it into my budget and pay cash then it’s fine by me.

However, these things below didn’t really bring my value to my life and I felt I could cut them to put that money toward debt.

Canceling my Netflix subscription ($10/month): We pay for basic cable plus HBO with our internet, so having Netflix added in just didn’t make sense right now. We watch a lot of HBO and they have a ton of movies and shows on demand, so to me it was worth it to cut the Netflix cord for now.

Lowering my cell phone data plan ($15/month): If given the chance, I will use every last drop of data that is given to me. However, I looked at the difference between the 4 gig plan I had and the 2 gig plan and it was $15 less. I figured I could try to be more diligent about only being connected to wifi. So far it hasn’t been a big deal.

Paying off my phone ($20/month): Like most people, I financed my phone when I bought it two years ago. It was an extra $20 on my bill each month. I finally paid it off and I’m so glad to own my phone free and clear now.

Canceling my gym membership ($10/month): I always have grand plans of how I will magically become the kind of person who goes to the gym. I’ve signed up and then canceled memberships so many times. I’ve accepted it’s just not going to happen. Now that spring is almost here and I can get outside I will just try to make an effort to do that instead. Plus I prefer to work out alone without all of the annoying people at the gym.

Eating out less (~$100/month): I have been eating more meals at home in an attempt to not only save money, but also save calories. Some weeks are better than others, but overall I’d estimate I save about $100 each month by doing this.

So, overall I found about an extra $155 in my budget to put toward my debt. I’m happy to report I have nearly paid off my first credit card. I only have a few hundred dollars left and then I’m on to the next. I’m looking forward to that satisfaction!

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My winter skin care favorites

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My skin this time of year is a disaster. The cold winter weather and the constant heat indoors just suck every drop of moisture out of it. My face gets so dry that my skin is literally flaking off. It seems like no amount of exfoliating and moisturizing ever fully gets rid of it, but I have found a few products over the past year that make a big improvement.

I went to Sephora and bought a value set with three Ole Henriksen products a couple of months ago. It had a cleanser, a serum and a moisturizer. I also bought an Ole Henriksen exfoliator, too.

I wanted to share them with you in case you might be looking for some relief, too. I’ve found that higher-end skin care is worth it and that’s reflected in my recommendations here. I can make drugstore makeup work and often times it is just as good, but skin care products are something I’m willing to spend a little extra on to get better results.

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Cleansers

Clarisonic Mia: This was a gift to me from my sister. I’d always wanted one, but was hesitant to pay the roughly $130 price tag. This is honestly a game-changer when it comes to cleansing. My skin feels so great after using it and you can really tell a difference if you use it daily. They make all kinds of brush heads from sensitive to deep cleansing.

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser: I use this cleanser every morning. It’s gentle and doesn’t strip the skin. Nothing fancy, no artificial scents and is ideal for normal to oily skin.

Ole Henriksen Face the Truth Gel Cleanser: I love the smell of this cleanser. All of the Ole Henriksen products I got smell citrusy. This is a great cleanser that I usually use at night. It’s a great precursor to the other two products for overnight moisture.

Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil: I love using a cleansing oil to remove makeup in the winter. They’re gentle, hydrating and work so well and loosening tough eye makeup. I’ve also used the L’Occitane Shea Cleansing Oil and it works great, too.

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Exfoliators

For me, exfoliation is key in my winter skin care routine. Unless I buff off all that flaking then no moisturizer will ever be able to fully do its job.

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate: This product is ridiculously expensive, but I’ve had it once as a free sample and then I received a full size in my last Fab Fit Fun box. I love a really gritty exfoliator and this one is just that. It’s a physical and enzyme exfoliating treatment, so it really gets the job done.  You leave it on for two minutes while it works its magic and then scrub to remove.

Ole Henriksen Moment of Truth 2-in-1 Polishing Sugar Mask: This is another mask and treatment, but you leave this one on for 10 minutes and it uses sugar as the exfoliating agent.

Moisturizers

Moisturizers

Ole Henriksen The Truth Serum: I use this serum as the first layer of moisture in the morning and evening after cleansing and exfoliating, but before any cream moisturizer.

Ole Henriksen the truth advanced moisturizing crème: I use this as my night time moisturizer. This combined with the serum leave me skin so supple. It isn’t dry when I wake up and makes my skin look glowing. I’m not exaggerating when I say that.

Origins GinZing Eye Cream: This eye cream is the best. It has brightening properties that makes my eyes look so much more awake. I use it at night and sometimes in the morning if I really need a boost or I’m not going to wear makeup. This little pot will last forever because you only need the tiniest bit.

 

Saying goodbye to 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post and I never know how to jump back into it after such a long silence. Even though we’re into the second week of the year already, I still wanted to put up a couple 2017 round-up posts. They’re such a nice way to look back on everything. Going back through my posts I noticed I never did one for 2016, so I wanted to make sure I did one for 2017. It seems the years are just flying by faster and faster and I can’t keep up.

So, here are a few highlights from 2017:

Getting Married

This was hands down the best day of my life so far. I’ve never had a day so full of love, excitement, anticipation and pure joy. Everything went perfectly and I have wanted to relive it again and again since it ended. We loved it so much we’re already talking vow renewal in a few years. See wedding recaps and tops of photos here, here and here.

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Honeymooning in Niagara Falls

Neither of us had ever been to Niagara Falls and it was the perfect honeymoon spot. It’s hard to find a place where neither of us has been, so it was fun to experience everything there for the first time. We definitely want to go back. See a full post here.

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Seeing Chris Stapleton live

This was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. He sounded amazing and just like his record. Even though it rained and soaked us within the first 5 minutes of getting there, it stopped when he took the stage and ended up being an awesome night.concert

Visiting Las Vegas for the first time

I have wanted to go to Las Vegas since—no joke—I was a child. I used to play blackjack with my dad when I was in elementary school. My grandpa once brought me back a used deck of cards from the Golden Nugget and I cherished them like they were made of actual gold. So, needless to say, getting to experience Vegas was a dream come true. We visited all the big casinos and hotels, played a million slot machines, saw an Elvis impersonator, saw Thunder from Down Under and saw Arcade Fire in concert.

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On top of our hotel (the Stratosphere)

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Totally freaking out about eating at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant (The Pub & Grill inside Caesar’s Palace) and drinking his favorite beer, Innis and Gunn

Vegas 3Heading out to Thunder from Down Under

Wedding photos: Getting ready & bridal party

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Eric and I stayed in the same hotel room and woke up together on our wedding day. I know the superstitious would say it was bad luck, but it felt like the right thing for us. Sleeping apart just felt so unnatural. Waking up on the morning of our wedding and being able to take that time in for ourselves was so, so special.

Eric left to be with his groomsman around 9 a.m. and my bridesmaids and makeup/hair vendors started arriving around 10 a.m. Getting ready was such a fun time of anticipation and happiness. I couldn’t wait to see Eric all dressed up and for him to see me in my wedding dress.

My bridesmaids (and my friend Kelly) were so helpful and took care of everything I needed from getting drinks and food to last minute printing of the seating chart.

We had three bridesmaids and four groomsmen and I don’t think anyone even noticed the odd number. It worked out perfectly.

I’m so happy we have so many great getting ready shots. They are always some of my favorites from weddings.

Next up I’ll be posting about the ceremony and the details that made our day special.

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Thoughts on 29

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Yesterday was my 29th birthday. In true adult fashion, I spent the day working.

I felt kind of neutral about turning 29. I’m obviously grateful to be given another year to be alive, but I didn’t make any plans to celebrate and the day was mostly just like any other day. I suppose that’s just how it goes once you reach a certain age.

The day did have its sweet moments, though.

The annual birthday phone call from my parents.

Eric made me a cake—a very sweet tradition he’s being doing since my 22 birthday just a few months after we got together. He also bought me a gift card for a 90 minute massage (hurray!).

Some of my friends and coworkers from the restaurant I work at bought me a cake after I stopped in for dinner and a drink last night (Eric was working, so I was flying solo). They’re honestly the best, most thoughtful group of people any one could ask for.

There were lots of birthday texts and messages from friends and family near and far.

I’d like to spend this last year of my twenties checking a few items off the bucket list. I originally was going to make a list of 29 things I wanted to do this year, but the list might end up being smaller and more doable. I’ll save that list for another time.

I’m actually really looking forward to turning 30 next year. For now, I’ll just soak in the joy of still being able to say I’m in my 20s.