Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Waking Up Happy

Just a quick one this morning, folks.

I woke up with happiness and hope this morning. This is great! I haven't woken up like this in a long time, I usually have to work at it. I know, this shouldn't be the case. I should always have happiness and gratitude in my heart. But that is why this blog is called Being Martha, Becoming Mary. Martha wasn't doing anything wrong, she just had her priorities mixed up. That happens to me quite often. Since 2012 turned out to be a refiner's fire, I found myself always needing to re-center and fix my priorities . My entire life changed (and that is no exaggeration!), right down to my daily routines. I wasn't too pleased initially. I felt like I was thrust into a new stage of adulthood against my will and spent the first half of 2012 walking in a cloud of grief, for many things. I may write a post about losing my dad in early 2012. I may not be able to get through it. The point is, waking up happy is a happy change. The Lord is always by my side.

Moroni 10:5 came to mind this morning as well:

"And by the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of all things."

What an awesome promise that is. How has the Holy Ghost blessed your life? Are you out there? Who is reading this blog??

 Happy Wednesday!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cheap is Great, Free is Better: Getting Fiscally Fit.

Can I get a "WOOHOO!"?? 2013 is here, ya'll! F.I.N.A.L.L.Y.

Yes, I know that Presidents Monson and Uchtdorf, and even Eyring, have reminded us that we need not wait for happiness. That joy can be right now. Don't wait for your golden ticket. Honestly though, I could not WAIT to get 2012 behind me. What a doozy. Stress city, I tell you.

Well, onward and upward, friends. As a kid, my dad always used to say "Christi, cheap is great and free is better!" I would always dramatically roll my eyes and groan in that way that only kids and teens can. Usually because we were salvaging something during community dump week, or at a thrift store. I HATED it!! Now? Thanks, dad! I learned every single frugal thing I know thanks to my parents. I can change my own oil, brakes, and hoses on my car. I can squeeze a buck out of a penny. I'm the princess of finding free things to do. However, that doesn't mean that I have always taken advantage of the skills my lovely parents gave me. Ah, the beauty of nature and getting old.

I don't believe in resolutions. We never really keep resolutions, do we? Kind of like yo-yo dieting. It might work for a bit, but if it isn't a sustainable, manageable, life change, it won't stick. This girl is not really good at resolutions. I do, however, believe in improvement. Making goals is a great way to ensure you are moving forward, both temporally and spiritually.

The What

So, my (totally not a resolution) goal for 2013 is to get fiscally fit. I know, I know. It totally sounds like a resolution. I don't really feel that it is, because it's a life change for me. I am making it my goal to change some, ahem, not so great habits I've picked up as a single lady.

The point is, I've always mismanaged my money liked to spend. And I've always liked adventure. That got me into trouble, because spending on adventures can get out of hand. That giant poster that you will probably decide is too ugly to hang when you get home? Need it. So, I racked up some debt. The major problem with that was that my attitude was in the wrong place. Because I was an idiot, I felt that I would just pay it later. WHAT? I was a genius, I tell you.  You can't just not pay people back. That isn't what good people do. It's also not becoming of someone who has taken upon them the name of Christ.

So, once I pulled my head out of you-know-where, I started working on it. Now that my debt is down to a manageable level (as in, less than $2,00 without my car), and there are only little things here and there to be taken care of, I want to get my finances to a better place. Work toward home ownership. I'm not married yet. I'm not a mama yet. But someday, I will be. And I will want to be in a place where I can be a good example and have my life in order.

The How

I guess the burning question now is how?  Well, I definitely did my homework. In taking on something of this magnitude, you definitely need to figure out what works for you. Everyone is different. Everyone has a different learning style. After much research, I decided to create a mish mash of sorts. Different styles together.

The interwebs introduced me to Miss Anna Newell Jones over at And Then We Saved. Facing her own debt like Wonder Woman, Anna created what she calls The Spending Fast. She managed to pay off over $17,000 in debt on a $33,000/yr salary. I'm telling you, this girl IS Wonder Woman. Anna's style is based on getting back to basics. It's an extreme level of frugality, wherein you spend only on necessities and cut out ALL non-necessary spending. Sound extreme? It is. But it's a way to get out of debt quicker than you would otherwise. She also offers advice on a Spending Diet, in which you simply cut down spending.

I've decided to go with the fast, simply because this girl loves to spend money. I have a love/hate relationship with the word "Sale". Clearance? You betcha. But I had to get real with myself. Just because you buy on sale and on clearance doesn't mean that you are saving yourself money. It's just that instead of buying one shirt/cardigan/skirt/super cute pair of jeans, I would buy four. Same price, more clothing, saving money, right?! Um, no. Because in some cases, I would spend more that I would've had I purchased something at regular price. I'm telling you, I've got no filter. There isn't anything in my brain that says "yeah, maybe not a good idea".

I enlisted my bestie. You all know her as Kerri. Because we are both single and spend like, all of our time together, it only made sense that we did this together. There were some moans and groans when I brought it up, but I think I successfully got her on the wagon. I like to think it was my amazing skill at finding free and cheap things to do. Of course, during the fast, ALL entertainment has to be free fifty.

I don't know if you guys know this, but Utah is a virtual mecca for free things to do. Plus, we have a lot of stay at home moms here, because family is central to our culture. I am in awe of stay at home moms. They are AMAZING! They can whip you up an incredible breakfast while rangling a two year old and changing a diaper, all while telling you about budgeting. So, with a little internet research, I found LOTS of things to do to keep us busy for quite awhile. Oh, yeah, and Anna has a great list of  56 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money if you're in need of a little inspiration! 

So, I will list some things the bestie and I came up with:

Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum Ok, Ok. I know this doesn't scream FUN at many people. But hey, they have a two headed lamb in the basement. Worth the trip.

Utah Olympic Park The site of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake is now open, with free admission, to the general public. Word on the street says the tours are free. Now, if after your spending fast is complete, you want to take a ride on the bobsled down the olympic track, that will cost you.

Downtown SLC  "The lights are much brighter there, you can forget all your worries, forget all your cares..." Ahem, where was I? Ah, yes. Downtown. LOTS to do. Especially in summer. Free concerts at all the major parks. Free outdoor movies. Those are the only things that make summer good. I hate heat. I'm a downer daisy. Don't fret, downtown has plenty to do in the winter.  For instance, you can act like a tourist and visit all the major spots like The Beehive House, Family History Library, Church History Museum, Temple Square (lots of free events all year). You don't need to be LDS to enjoy these, either. Lots of history and neat things to learn.

Gallery Stroll Salt Lake  Our local (free) art stroll. Pack on your hipster glasses and hit the town!

Community Exploration Card This is a free card offered to residents of Salt Lake. It can be obtained at city libraries on the first of the month. The CEC allows up to four people entry into Red Butte Garden, The Leonardo , Natural History Museum of Utah, and Discovery Gateway. We just got ours for January, we're excited! Although we will probably be giving it away once we hit the Discovery Gateway point. Nothing weirder than two adults without kids at a childrens museum. Ok, maybe there is. But we're not 18 and we don't want to look like creepers!

Utah State Park Pass Utah State Parks have partnered with our local libraries. This means you can use your library card to check out a pass to enjoy one of the 43 state parks! How cool is that? We have some beautiful hikes here!

So basically, Utah is neat. If you aren't from here, all it takes is a little research to find fun things to do in your area. I usually search Free Salt Lake City or something like that. I've done this in every city I've traveled to, and found some incredble stuff.

Wish me luck on this adventure, and let me know if you are doing something similar!!