The 5 Biggest Budgeting Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them!)

Do you ever make big mistakes managing your money? Read this post to avoid making these budget mistakes! Stop living paycheck to paycheck. These are the 5 BIGGEST Budget mistakes and tips that you might be making. If you are still struggling with living paycheck to paycheck (or just are not saving as much money as you think you should be), you’ll want to read this post to learn how to STOP making these budget mistakes!

Do you have a budget? You should! (Here’s why you should and how to  create one).

Maybe you have a budget but your budget and your reality don’t always sync up. Basically, your budget is your best laid plans and your reality is that your budget is just a bit of busy work that gets thrown out the window each month the moment you walk away! I feel like this sometimes. Like we spend all this time on our budget. Doing the dirty work, having the discussions, only to discard all of that effort on a whim.

Here are some reasons your budget might not be working for you:

Budget Mistake #1: You are not being realistic

Look, it would be GREAT if you could feed your family of 6 for $75 a week. That would be amazing! Just because it can be done (although I’d argue it shouldn’t be done longterm unless you have a rocking garden!) doesn’t mean you are doing it.

Let’s be honest about your shopping habits. Have you EVER walked out of your local grocery store spending less than $150 a week?


Then budget $150 a week.

If you spend only $75, perfect! Throw that money into savings!

Let’s be realistic though. Don’t create a budget where you pretend you won’t need new clothing a few times a year.

Budget for clothes.

Budget for entertainment.

Budget for EVERYTHING.

Be realistic. Don’t back yourself into a corner where breaking up with your budget is really the only realistic option to continue to live your life. Even Dave Ramsey suggests everyone sets aside some “blow money” if you can manage it!

Budget Mistake #2: Not staying vigilant

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you have to be vigilant. You HAVE to keep revisiting your budget! Talking about it. Tweaking it. Keeping great records. Categorizing new expenses. Looking at it, period!

Budget Mistake #3: Not negotiating lower rates

Every year, certain companies love to jack up rates. They can do this because a huge percentage of people just accept it and pay the higher rate.

Don’t do this!

Your electric company raises rates? Call and request to go down to a lower rate. Shop around. Threaten to leave them, and actually LEAVE if you can find a better deal elsewhere! Don’t get stuck feeling like you are chained to your bills as if they are stagnate balls and chains. You have your non negotiables, but everything else is up for discussion.

Keep track of your rates in your budget planner and be sure to keep it updated so when you hear about a special, you can just take a quick glance at what you are currently paying. Here are some highly rated budget planners if you don’t already have one:

Budget Mistake #4: Not sticking to budgeted amounts

This plays into not being realistic. However, sometimes your numbers ARE realistic, you just aren’t sticking to them. Look, if you want to spend more money on clothes, and you are already budgeting a realistic amount each month to spend, then you either need to get another job, or start shopping at cheaper stores.

If you  budget to a $0 balance, straying from a budget amount means you are robbing another category of funds. Which basically throws everything off!

Budget Mistake #5: Not viewing the budget as a living breathing revolving set of guidelines

This seems kind of redundant. This falls a bit under vigilance and being realistic. Realistically, you have to remain vigilant so you can see when your budget needs revamping.

It WILL happen.

Your bills will go up, normal inflation, someone will lose a job, someone will get a raise, you will use a large chunk of your emergency fund. The budget is not stagnate and you need to understand that!

Once you do, the weekly/monthly discussions will be easier because you’ll have a more open mind about adjusting things where necessary.

Have you fallen into any of these budgeting mistake traps? Comment below!

Create a Budget: Staying Vigilant and Diligent

This is one of the most important but overlooked budget tips. You MUST stay on top of your budget at all times! Living on a budget does not mean that your money is set in stone. Your monthly bills will flucuate all the time! The ONLY way to stay on top of your budget is to have regular budget meetings. Read this post to learn how to stay on top of your budget. Don’t make this huge budgeting mistake! #budget #budgetbeginner #beginner #budgetideas #budgetmeeting #familymeetings

Okay, this is my least favorite step. Probably because it’s where the rubber meets the road. I’m great at big talk, but not so great at sticking to the implementation of things.

This is SO necessary though and it will make or break your budgeting success. You HAVE to look at your budget often. You HAVE to be willing to reevaluate as often as possible. You HAVE to keep good detailed records. The longer you put off looking at your spending/budget, the more out of control it will become.

At LEAST once a month, sit down (if you are married, sit down with your spouse!) and go over things.

Wow, looks like we spent a lot on groceries this month. Why? Oh, we had our yearly neighborhood BBQ! Well, that’s a yearly expense, we need to work that into our budget. Oh look, we spent a LOT on clothes this month. Let’s be sure we hold off on spending anymore next month unless absolutely necessary.

Have I told y’all how much I hate this step? Having these money discussions can be uncomfortable. They demand accountability for your spending actions. As a natural spender constantly fighting to be a “natural” at being frugal, sometimes this is an ugly ugly reality check for me.

Sometimes I find that I need to read something inspiring to get me in the mood to tackle our finances. Here are some of my favorite financial/budgeting books:

You also want to sit down and have a discussion if something big changes. Insurance goes up, you buy a new car, you bring a new pet into the home, you get a raise (yey!), someone stops working, someone starts working, etc.

During these meetings, you can also check in on your savings. How is your emergency fund doing? Are you getting closer to your goal of fully funding it? Is it already full funded? Does it need to be replenished? Are you saving for a vacation? Is there anything you can cut to save more aggressively?

Having these conversations on a regular basis can take the sting out of them! Set aside time for budget meetings and make sure they actually happen. Control your money, life is too short to let it control you.

Step 1: Decide Your Non Negotiables

Step 2: Write Down All Your Monthly/Yearly Expenses and Prioritize them

Step 3: Starting from the top, create your budget

Step 4: Revisit your budget often. At least once a month, more if your situation changes.

Create a Budget: Using Your Prioritized Bills List To Begin Your Budget

In our previous step, you should have calculated your net income and created a list of prioritized bills separated by category.

Now it is time to start paying your bills!

Here’s where I am going to be kind of purposefully vague.

How you budget for your bills (weekly,monthly,yearly) is going to depend on your consistency of income. Ideally you will figure out your yearly expenses in each category and divide those up over 52 weeks. Then you can create a savings account (Read more about sinking funds here) and set aside the money every single week so that when it’s time to pay your property taxes/insurance/other yearly fees, you have been saving for that bill all year long.

However, this might not be realistic for some of you who earn money on commission or who have seasonal work. So you will need to figure out how you are going to do things and create your budget based on your particular circumstances.

Everyone is going to start from the top of their list and work their way down.

Sadly, you might find that you can’t make it to the bottom of your list! This means that your expenses are too high for your income and it’s time to cut things out (or get another job). You have already prioritized your expenses, so this should be simple (although it could be emotionally difficult), you just start cutting things out from the bottom and working your way up.

You might delightfully realize you DO have money left. This can go into savings! You can use this to start a vacation fund. Or a home improvement fund. If your bills are paid and you have money leftover, you SHOULD be saving this money if you have tallied up all of your expenses correctly.

Create your budget to balance at $0 after all bills are paid. This means YOU are in control of where every penny of your spending goes. Not a penny that comes in isn’t in a designated spot in your budget. Congratulations!

Onto the last step of budgeting!

Step 1: Decide Your Non Negotiables

Step 2: Write Down All Your Monthly/Yearly Expenses and Prioritize them

Step 3: Starting from the top, create your budget

Step 4: Revisit your budget often. At least once a month, more if your situation changes.

Create A Budget: Make a Prioritized List of All Expenses

Now that we have a list of our non negotiables, and we know why we need to budget, it’s time to figure out how much you are actually bringing in each month!

To do this, you will calculate your take home pay on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis. If your work is commission based, try looking at the past few years and figuring out your average. This is NOT your gross income.

In addition to taxes/insurances/etc that already come out of your check, you will also subtract your non negotiables from your gross income.

After you have your net income number, it’s time to write out ALL of your bills. Look at a year’s worth of bills. This is the most time consuming part of this process and can be difficult if you haven’t kept good records.

In addition to your electric bill, you’ll also want to see how much you spend on clothes. How much are the kids school supplies each year? How much is the homeowners association fee? Once a year, do you pay for someone to pressure wash your sidewalk? Trim your trees? End of year teacher gifts? Every single bit of data you have on your previous spending needs to be extrapolated and categorized into a spreadsheet or just plain old pen and paper.

Once you have all of this info, it’s time to build your categories. Some common categories are:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Gas
  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Taxes and other home fees
  • Home maintenance
  • School fees
  • Extracurricular fees
  • Clothing expenses
  • Gift expenses
  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Car Insurance/Payment/Maintenance
  • Etc

This list will likely be LONG! The more well established you are in life, the longer this will be. At this point, you might go ahead and start making some calls. See if you can negotiate a cheaper electricity rate. See if your cable can be bundled differently or you can drop some channels to make your package cheaper. Do whatever you can to decrease your overall bills without taking any drastic measures at this point.

Now it’s time to prioritize your bills! Obviously some of those bills are more necessary than others. Rent/mortgage should come well before your cable bill. Literally, prioritize these bills in numerical order. Starting at 1 and going all the way down the list from most necessary to least necessary.

Don’t compare this to your net income yet. That will encourage you to be unrealistic about these numbers! If you don’t have the amount you spent on clothing this year, overestimate what you think you might have. If you haven’t kept track of all the various fees/buyouts/costumes/etc you have had to pay for your children’s extracurricular activities this year, make an educated guess and overestimate if possible. Include in this list money you spend on entertainment, on relaxation, make up, golfing, going to movies, treating friends to lunch, etc. Get as ridiculously detailed as you can.

Next step, we’re going to pay these bills!

Step 1: Decide Your Non Negotiables

Step 2: Write Down All Your Monthly/Yearly Expenses and Prioritize them

Step 3: Starting from the top, create your budget

Step 4: Revisit your budget often. At least once a month, more if your situation changes.

Create a Budget – What Are Your Non Negotiables?

You have decided to create a budget! That’s great! Maybe you are sick of having more month than money. Maybe you are living comfortably, but you know that you could be doing better. Maybe you are doing quite well, but you want to start saving more aggressively. Regardless of why you are creating/revamping your budget, we all need to start in the same place.

Figure out what your non negotiables are.

First off, let me be clear…these typically are NOT your bills. I know you need to live somewhere. I know you need to eat. However, this does not include your grocery bill or your mortgage.

I’m going to argue that this only includes the following items (if they pertain to you):

1.      Tithing

2.      Saving for or replenishing your emergency fund (3-6 months of expenses)

3.      Taxes if you are self employed

4.      Retirement

5.      Health insurance (to a point…if you get the best rate through your employer, otherwise this would be a bill that you could possibly find a lower rate on)

The reasons these are non negotiable in my opinion is because they are too important to be missed and they are not items that can be changed to accommodate other expenses. Whether you want to or not, you can likely move to get a lower mortgage payment. You can negotiate a cheaper rate for your electricity (or once again, move to a smaller home to pay less in electricity).

Almost every bill you have CAN be decreased if it needs to be. If you belong to a religion that tithes however, your giving is usually set at a certain percentage rate of your income. Your emergency fund can/will vary based on what your current expenses are, but without an emergency fund, you are always going to be one emergency away from complete disaster. Taxes are a necessity and while they can go down based on your deductions, you will never stop paying taxes on the money you earn. Retirement is essential because you can’t count on your health, wealth or circumstances further down the line.

Everything else can be negotiated, sold, discarded, and/or deducted.

What are your non negotiables?

Go on to Step 2.

Step 1: Decide Your Non Negotiables

Step 2: Write Down All Your Monthly/Yearly Expenses and Prioritize them

Step 3: Starting from the top, create your budget

Step 4: Revisit your budget often. At least once a month, more if your situation changes.

How and Why You Need to Create a Budget

When You Create a Budget = Financial Freedom!

Serious question…do you have a budget? You better! Whether you are living comfortably or barely scraping by paycheck to paycheck, you need a budget. Why? You should always control your money, your money should  never control you. Read this post to learn how to create a budget and why it just might be your ticket to financial freedom! #financialfreedom #budget #onabudget #savemoney #budgettips #budgetforbegginers

Whether you are living comfortably or barely scraping by paycheck to paycheck, you need a budget.


You should always control your money, your money should  never control you. In fact, I would argue that the more money you make, the more important it is to have a detailed budget!

It’s too easy to throw money out the window when you aren’t being careful and purposeful about every single penny.

I know a lot of people feel like a budget is stifling.

I know this, because I am one of those people!

If I thought I could stay on top of my finances without a budget in place, I’d drop that B word like a hot potato.

It’s frustrating, it causes arguments between me and my husband and it’s just draining to have to sit down and talk about money on a regular basis.

people might love it, but I seriously hate it.

I think part of the frustration is that it is a constant reality check.

When you keep a detailed budget, it’s a way of shining a light on the gap between what you say your priorities are and what they really are. Your spending doesn’t lie!

This can be ugly on months when you don’t have enough money left to contribute to a worthy cause, and you see that it’s because you have been spending way too much on clothes or eating out.

When you want to sign your kids up for a fun camp, but realize you have been buying new clothes far too much to justify the tuition fee.


This is why budgeting is important, but constantly assessing and discussing your budget is non negotiable.

You can’t just sit down and hash out a budget in an hour and expect that budget to maintain you and your family from here on out. It’s a constant task, but once you do the initial legwork in setting it up, not an insurmountable one.

Never set up a budget before? Maybe you have, but think you could do better? Click the steps below to learn how to set up a budget:

Step 1: Decide Your Non Negotiables

Step 2: Write Down All Your Monthly/Yearly Expenses and Prioritize them

Step 3: Starting from the top, create your budget

Step 4: Revisit your budget often. At least once a month, more if your situation changes.

Now you have your budget! This is a living breathing budget that will constantly need to be revisited, discussed and possibly reworked on a regular basis.

Keep on top of your budget and your money will never control you again.

Simple, Basic Ways to Cut Household Spending to “Find” Much Needed Cash

Hello! My name is Gina and I write the Old School Saving blog. Thank you, Heather, for allowing me to write a guest post on Family Friendly Frugality!

I’m a lot like you; I try to stretch my dollar as far as it will go while living a full, satisfying life. To budget more efficiently, I enrolled in the ‘level pay’ plan my utility companies offer several years ago. My payments would always be about the same and I’d know exactly how much to budget.

I almost passed out when I received my utility bills this month – they went up an additional $100 dollars! Where was I going to get $100 dollars a month I didn’t budget for?

Have you ever been where I am now? We scrimp, save, recycle, reuse and still wonder how we can save another penny. We’re caught off guard by a higher utility bill, a car repair bill or gas goes up 30 cents a gallon overnight.

Don’t despair! I’ve spent many hours researching ways to cut household costs for my own family. Here’s some simple, basic ways we can save a little bit more than we did before:

There’s still detergent in that “empty” bottle. You might think that laundry detergent bottle is empty but don’t recycle it yet! Pour 1 cup of warm water in the bottle, shake to mix and you can get another load of laundry out of what you thought was an empty bottle.

Make your own laundry detergent. I’ve done it, it’s really simple, doesn’t take much time and does a great job getting clothes as clean and fresh as store bought detergent. The only time I make it is when the brand I buy costs more than home-made. Go here to get this simple recipe.

Cut dryer sheets in half. I have found half a dryer sheet does just as well as a whole one and cuts the cost of a box of laundry sheets in half while doing twice as much.

Clean your dryer lint filter before you dry each load. It reduces the possibility of a fire hazard and saves energy because your clothes will dry faster with less lint on them.

Don’t let that dryer grow cold. Dry full loads of laundry with no cool down time in between loads. When possible, keep that dryer going until all the laundry is done to avoid repeated warm up time and excess energy use.

Wash more efficiently. Use the warm or cold water setting for washing your clothes (always use cold water to rinse clothes).

Air dry dishes.  Dishwashers typically use less water than washing by hand.  When using the dishwasher, deselect the ‘heat dry’ option and let your dishes air dry instead. 

Use plastic store bags to line trash cans. Save plastic grocery store bags and use them to line bathroom trash cans.

Make your own coffee. I curtailed my coffee shop habit and saved quite a bit of cash by making my own coffee. I’m a fan of International Delight Coffee Creamer; they have some excellent recipes to concoct those coffeehouse specialty drinks right at home. They also offer high value coupons on a pretty regular basis. 

Use a slow cooker instead of the oven. Not only is it SUPER convenient, it frees up time for you, uses minimal energy and costs far less to operate than an electric or gas oven.  Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking is my go-to slow cooker recipe book that has a variety of recipes for entire meals, tested by the author.

Cook and eat all (or most) of your meals at home. It is very tempting to eat out rather than cook a meal at home but this simple resolution could save $2,698 per year!

Cook from scratch. Don’t stop reading, stay with me on this one! Boxed foods and convenience packaged foods are far more costly than preparing meals from scratch. Cooking from scratch is better for you because it’s healthier than convenience foods. If you stay organized, buy only what you need and meal plan, it really is easy and doesn’t take that much extra time. Utilize the Internet to discover time-saving recipes your family will like. I make my own bread, a variety of soups, veggie dishes, wild game and my slow cooker sees a lot of action.

Make a detailed grocery list. I have a master grocery list on a computer spreadsheet that follows the layout of the aisles in my grocery store from start to finish. I plan my meals, then go through my list and include only what I need for a two week time frame. I also organize my coupons the same way. While there is an initial time investment to create your master list, you’ll find your grocery shopping trips are faster, more organized and a lot less stressful. If you stick to the list, you won’t go over-budget and will spend exactly what you calculated.

Don’t shop without a list – PERIOD. It’s no accident you’re greeted by tantalizing “bargains” as you walk through a merchant’s door or those end caps are brimming with “Hey, I need that!” items. Stores spend oodles of marketing dollars to get you to spend more than you meant to. STICK TO THE LIST!!

Coupons. Coupons are great money savers but they can have a downside, too. Coupons are like a sale….if you see one for a product you like, you may be tempted to buy it because you have a coupon, not because you need it. Manufacturers will offer high value coupons to gain you as a regular customer, even when no coupons are available. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.  Send that unused coupon to overseas military and help our servicemen and women save too. 

Don’t buy bottled water. For a family of four, bottled water can cost up to $3,100 a year! Instead, use a water filter that attaches to the kitchen faucet. You will also reduce your carbon footprint by using a water filter vs. buying bottled water. I use a PUR filter that eliminates chemicals and some biologicals and our water tastes great.

Beware of “vampire appliances”. These are appliances that “suck” electricity even when turned off. I have my TV, VCR, Wii, computer and printers plugged in to surge protectors that I turn off when not in use. Doing this can save households up to $200 per year.

Disconnect the landline if you use multiple cell phones. We have multiple cell phones and saw no need to keep a landline. Getting rid of our landline saved us over $420 a year.

Utilize your local library. Libraries offer a host of resources that won’t cost you a cent. Downloadable e-books, audio books, book clubs, CD’s, DVD’s, free Wi-Fi, magazines, newspapers, free computer use, classes and more. There’s no need to buy or rent anything when you can get it free at your local library.

Do without cable or satellite. Ouch. These are expenses that folks are very reluctant to give up but could save a LOT of money. Cutting cable saved us $840 a year. We signed up for Netflix and bought an HD antenna to watch local channels. We pay $18 a month for Netflix, get one DVD out at a time and watch as many streaming movies as we want. DVD turnaround time is usually 1-2 days.

These are just a few simple methods that can save you money.  Re-examine ways you maintain your household.  Making small changes can add up to big savings over time.  Google new ways to do things and discover how others in similar situations are saving money. A few cents here and there adds up over the course of a year!

Thank you for reading my guest post! If you enjoyed it, please visit my blog at, my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or suggestions, please email me.

Would you like to contribute an original content guest post to Family Friendly Frugality? Email heather @ with “Guest Post” in the title. Not all submissions will be accepted.




Make a Change Monday: Protect Your Health (Including Your Mental Health)

                                                                                                           Source: via Codi on Pinterest


Read more about Make A Change Monday here.

When we think about being healthy, the obvious always comes to mind.

√ Eat your fruits and veggies

√ Exercise often

√ Get regular checkups.

Staying healthy is definitely a part of living a frugal lifestyle. It’s a part I personally struggle with, and one that can greatly affect your finances over time.

Poor health can cause you to lose your job, to have increased insurance costs, increased doctor bills and prescription expenses.

It can shorten your life leaving your family in a financial bind.

There’s no doubt that good physical health is necessary for longterm good financial health. 

However, I think that if we’re going to talk about health, we need to also discuss mental health.

This topic can be considered a bit taboo because determining mental health doesn’t necessarily always involve concrete diagnosis/treatment options. It’s also something that society in general refrains from speaking out about.

However, in some cases the financial problems that people find themselves in are actually due to mental health issues such as OCD, depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, etc.

That’s not to say that if you are in debt, you must have a mental health problem. Not at all. Likewise, just because you have mental health issues does not mean that you have issues controlling your finances.

Also let’s be clear what the term “mental health” refers to:

Mental Health refers to a broad array of activities directly or indirectly related to the mental well-being component included in the WHO’s definition of health: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease“. It is related to the promotion of well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by mental disorders. –Source: World Health Organization

I’m also very aware that our society in general is overmedicated and that “the easy way out” is a path taken by far too many. However, I don’t think that needs to deter anyone from striving towards good mental health by seeking necessary treatment, whatever that treatment might be.

Just because society in general associates a stigma with something doesn’t decrease it’s importance in valid situations.

Do You Need to Examine Your Mental Health?

Let’s discuss some behaviors that can result in poor financial health:

  • Compulsive spending
  • Gambling
  • Addictions to porn, drugs, alcohol, etc
  • Hoarding
  • Lack of interest or focus
  • High stress/anxiety

If you are struggling with your finances and can’t seem to get ahead, sit down and think about WHY you are having such difficulty.

Are you depressed?

Do you have any compulsive behaviors that you haven’t had the willpower to cease?

What is sabotaging you? Could it by YOU? 

Your answers might not have anything to do with mental health, but if they do I urge you to find someone to talk to.

If you had a physical ailment, you wouldn’t just ignore it and think you could overcome it just by willpower, would you? (well, MOST of us wouldn’t!)

The answer to your troubles could be as simple as talking to a counselor, talking to your pastor at church, writing a journal to vent frustrations and organize your thoughts, going to a support group, etc.

In some cases, your problems might require treatment of some kind, and that’s okay too.

The goal here isn’t to blame your problems on some named disorder in the DSM-IV, it’s entirely possible you are in debt because you don’t know how to budget, how to shop or how to stop whipping out your credit card anytime you see something shiny 😉 .

Take this quiz here if you need a starting point to organize your thoughts.

My Personal Story

*Deep Breath* This is a bit tough to tell, but I think it’s important for me to share. 

I have recently experienced some overwhelming stress in my life. After living through it in a kind of survival mode, I was left to go back to my life. I’m not going to lie, I had a bit of difficulty finding my way back. During this time I realized that some of the coping mechanisms I had used to deal with the things that overwhelmed me were no longer working for me.

Now, if I didn’t have so many responsibilities on my plate, I might have just said that I’d work it out over time. I’m not typically the kind to seek help, I’m pretty darn stubborn. I might have just let it go. I’ve seen people do that and in some cases, they did get better. In other cases, the state they thought they could work through actually became their new normal.

Having seen that firsthand, I knew I couldn’t do that to my children and my husband. 

I put in a call to a local mental health provider and set up an appointment. Meanwhile I wrote down my issues. As I did this, I started to recognize something in myself that I had always known, but had never really written out in black and white. The coping mechanisms that I currently was struggling with were helping me cope with a problem that was much more long term then what I originally set out to get help with. In fact, I started to suspect that the problem I had once been able to manage my way through by using various conscious and subconscious techniques could actually be traced back all the way to high school (if not earlier).

Long story short, my suspicions ended up being confirmed and I worked out a plan with my mental health provider to figure out an action plan for treatment.

I’ve been undergoing treatment for Adult ADHD for a few months now and I have to say, my life is infinitely better then it ever was before. It’s scary to put that diagnosis out there.

However, I have this public platform and I think God gave it to me to help others. Definitely to help others learn to help manage their money better, but also just to live LIFE better.

My experience these past few months has lead me to many revelations, but one that I want to shout and be heard is that Health is Precious. 

Mental, Physical & Spiritual Health isn’t a given. Just as we have to put in our time at the gym, we have to put in our time paying attention to our moods, our attitudes and our overall mindset and well being.

This week, sit down and think about your life.

Are you where you want to be mentally? Do you have a good outlook on life or are you constantly angry, depressed, frustrated, anxious, etc? You shouldn’t have to go through life consistently feeling any one of those emotions.

It’s normal to experience ups and downs, to get angry or to get sad. But if there is a consistency to any behavior that you know isn’t healthy or positive, think about talking to your spouse or someone you know that cares about your overall well being. If you can’t talk to them, find a local counselor or go talk to someone at your church (or if you are in school, you can talk to a school counselor). Life it too short to live with poor mental health.

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Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I am not making any claims that there is any correlation between debt and mental health. I’m not claiming that being a bit sad is cause for running out for a prescription. All I’m saying is that your mental health is important. Maybe you just need a venting session with your best friend! All I’m saying, is that it’s important and that it shouldn’t be ignored. I’m not telling people they need medication. The vast majority do not. But everyone needs to feel like they have a handle on their life. Poor financial health can make anyone feel out of control, even if there isn’t an actual disorder or mental health concern, there’s no shame in recognizing that and getting some help for it. 

Do you think you need to seek treatment for a mental health related illness? Mental Health America has a very thorough resource for finding treatment here




My Personal & Business Goals for 2012 (Plus A Custom Worksheet For You!)


                                                                                  Source: via Leanna on Pinterest


Yesterday I went over how we can learn from our mistakes of 2011 and use them to make 2012 a much  more productive and exciting year!

Today though, I wanted to take a minute and share some of my goals for 2012 with you. I also am including a worksheet at the end of this post that you can print and use to create action plans for your own goals!

Personal Goals for 2012:

Lose weight and take better care of myself: How cliche right? I purposefully did not start off the New Year on a diet. I’m convinced diets are a big part of why I am overweight. Diets aren’t long term and when I go off of the diet (because longterm they make me kind of batty) I immediately gain back all the weight and then some.

Action Plan: This year I am going to focus on healthy eating, portion control and moving my body. I’m hoping that by focusing on things that enhance my life rather then something that deprives me (like a diet) it will be something that will *stick* long term and as a result, I’ll find my way to a healthy weight.

Go on more dates with my husband: Seriously, we never date. I want to have at least 2 dates a month with him, even if we have to pay for a babysitter. In the past, family has always watched our children when we would go out on dates, but everyone is so busy in their own lives. It’s not good for our relationship to go months without getting some time away together.

Action Plan: We need to start looking around for a babysitter we can trust that has good availability. Relying on family when they are available is great (and of course, family watching our kids is ALWAYS our preference), but we always feel like we are imposing.

Make more memories with my kids: We’re pretty good about going places with kids but this year now that they are a bit older, I want to broaden their horizons more and venture out to do some new and different things!

Action Plan: We have several small getaways planned for 2012! I also am going to be more proactive in looking into local events and activities for us to do together as a family.

Grow closer to God: My goodness, this past year was a rough one. To say I had my faith tested would be a gross understatement. It was put to the test on a regular basis! I’m proud to say that it never weakened, but I definitely don’t feel like I grew closer to God last year. Rather, I kind of maintained the relationship. This year, I want to proactively seek Him out.

Action Plan: I am going to start the Bible Reading plan I abandoned last year. It is the Life Journal plan that my church follows along with. It is a one year plan and I can also access it on my phone through the YouVersion app.

 Business/Blog Goals for 2012:

Guest Post more: I really slacked on guest posting the second half of 2011! Guest posting is excellent for gaining new readers and for making new friendships!

Action Plan: Write ONE Guest Post per month in 2012. I’m not saying I’ll get a guest post published or even accepted once a month, but I’m going to write one at least once a month!

Work more on building up my list of email subscribers: Email subscribers are the most loyal blog readers of all! They allow you into their inbox each and every day. I focused on Facebook almost exclusively in 2011. That turned out to be a pretty big mistake! While I adore the community that has grown over there, Facebook changed their algorithm and now only a small percentage of those readers I worked so hard to reach don’t even see my updates.

Action Plan: Tell my readers about my FREE newsletter often, re-vamp my free ebook with email subscription, offer more subscriber appreciation giveaways.

Do  MORE for my readers: Find more deals/giveaways/freebies for my readers. Write MORE money saving advice articles. DEFINITELY more tutorials, recipes,etc. ALSO get into video! I want my YouTube channel to be HOPPING by 2013.

Action Plan: This is going to take prioritizing my time and the continued delegation of tasks so I can pursue the more creative aspects of running this blog. It might mean I have to hire someone specifically to seek out deals (is that you? 😉 )  so that I can focus less time on finding deals and more time on creating content that makes all of your lives infinitely more awesome.

Keep better records for tax time: My biggest headache right now is that I didn’t really take this stuff (meaning: business) seriously until about August of 2011. Which means that my records prior to that point leave a LOT to be desired. This year, anything I even THINK could be a deduction will be logged.

Action Plan: Like I said, all receipts will be kept and I will start thinking a bit more like a business woman this year rather then a mom with a hobby 😉 .

Learn more about the “tech” side of blogging: Yesterday my blog disappeared from the internet for a few hours. Apparently my database and traffic were too much for my shared server and my hosting company put a temporary block on my site until I optimized my database. I called to see what was going on and was given some advice on what I needed to do. For the next 90 minutes I banged my head against a brick wall because I couldn’t even get past STEP 1. Finally I called them back and found out that even though they had said they whitelisted my IP address so I could work on my site behind the scenes, they actually hadn’t. Once they finally whitelisted my site, I had things up and running in 10 minutes. This would NOT have happened if I knew more about the tech side of things!

Action Plan: I am going to sit down and actually read all those wonderful CSS and PHP books I purchased. I am going to start with the  basics and work my way up. Nothing makes you feel more helpless then seeing a year and a half’s year of work disappear in a second. I’m going to educate myself so that kind of thing never happens again.

What are your goals for 2012? Have you written them down yet? Tell me in the comments! 

I created a PDF that you can print out and write out your own goals and your own action plans! Be sure to check it out (just click the pic below):

Click to print

Also, if you haven’t yet printed out the printable 2011 Goals Wrapped Up PDF, you can get that PDF here.

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