7 Steps to Get Ahead of Your Finances

Money is not a four letter word, nor is it a lottery ticket. Here are some ways your can make sure your money is working for you and not the other way around!

Money is not a four/ five letter word, nor is it a lottery ticket. It’s not something to be afraid of or something to take lightly.

How do you get ahead of your finances? What are some steps you can take today that will make future you very happy!

These steps are some of the steps I used throughout college, and I was able to graduate without dept. Praise Jesus! All to Him! These steps I’ve used throughout my life that help me use money to my advantage, not the other way around. These are also steps that, when I don’t follow, I begin to feel like I’m treading water, and that my finances are starting to own me.

TAKE A REAL LOOK AT WHERE YOU’RE AT NOW.

No holds barred, where are you at now? Do you have $10,000 in debt? Do you have $100,000 in debt? Either way the first way to start getting out of that debt is to be honest with yourself of where you’re at. This pre-step is so important because we are good at ignoring what we don't want to accept.

I don’t want to you accept and sit in that debt, but being honest with yourself will allow you to take a real look at what you can and can’t do right now to move yourself towards your overall goal.

TRACK YOUR EXPENSES BOTH NECESSARY AND FRIVOLOUS

Now, don’t go “cold turkey” on all of your extra expenses, and sit and eat beans all day. You’re not taking care of your mental or physical health if you do that.

What is healthy for you to do though, is to pull up your credit card statement or your bank statements and take thirty minutes to track your spending over the past week.

Are you spending the majority of your money on your rent, food, travel, movie tickets, etc. Take a real look at where your money is going on a weekly and monthly basis. If you’re not sure where it’s going how can you get better at tracking that?

DO YOUR RESEARCH

The first and one of the most exciting steps in the process of getting ahead of your finances is to research. Find the areas where you can save by doing very little, or where you can stop spending more by doing very little.

When I first did this I found that if I were to “lump sum” pay my car insurances for the next six months as opposed to paying month to month, I was going to save over $150 dollars. That’s more than what one month of my insurance was. Why would I not do that!

Look into how you can set up auto payments. Do you have months that you get busy and forget to pay the bill until too late and now you have a late fee. Nothing is more disappointing and frustrating than having to pay more for rent just because you’re paying on the 4th instead of the 3rd. IF you can set up auto payments, do it!

It will help your mind too because your don’t have to think about that anymore. All of your major bills will get paid without you even having to pay them attention on a detailed monthly basis after the original research.

Take that free money and stop paying unnecessary extra money!

TAKE OUT $50 FROM YOUR BANK ACCOUNT AND NOTICE HOW QUICKLY OR SLOWLY IT GOES

We live in a world where plastic is king. We swipe, and the money is gone.

It gets real when you have to physically hand over your hard earned cash for that pair of jeans. It’s also amazing to see how you spend physical money.

Does that $50 last you all week, or are you out to dinner and over half is already gone?

This small demonstration can be eye opening. There is no way not to notice where the money is going when you’re physically giving it to someone.

IS YOUR PLASTIC WORKING FOR YOU OR AGAINST YOU

I say the above to also say this as well; if you know you can still pay as much attention to swiping as handing over cash, are you using that to your advantage?

If you have a credit card, is that card adding up points that you can use for flights or to pay off a credit card bill after a few months?

There are also cards that will give you more back based upon what you purchase. I know myself and I love eating out, it’s something I have to watch, but also my credit card is one that will give me double points for food or travel. I’m turning my challenges into my successes.

GIVE BACK

What are you giving to your church or community?

Is there a need in the community that you can put some of your money towards?

This is such a necessary step of faith! It’s something that can be difficult, but will make all the difference. I say this to you as much as I say to myself! God says test me. What have you done recently to take that trust step and give back?

FIND ACCOUNTABILITY

Find a partner in your quest to get ahead of your finances. Is there someone in your life who is also looking to get ahead of their finances that you can lean on?

Look to that friend who you know will call you out, and ask them to. If you know you’re going to have a conversation every Saturday with someone who will ask you the hard questions from the past week, you’re more likely to not spend the money because you know you’ll feel guilty having to explain why you did that.

You can also talk about your struggles together. If you have a hard week and you really just need to spend some money, having that person in your life say “It’s ok, we’ll go hard next week.” is so helpful. We’re all human and there are times that if we tighten too much, we’re going to crack. Have that person be your backup, and be their support as well!

Two cords working together towards a goal is going to be much stronger than one cord trying to hold that one cord by themselves and wondering why the swing is starting to sag.

LOOKING FOR MORE RESOURCES?

Both my parents and I have used Dance Ramsey’s books to help get us on the right path! It’s hard, but living like no one else now really does add up, see what I did there!

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How do you Recharge? Let Me Explain

On a particularly stressful week or day. What can you do to make sure you're recharging your own batteries? Here's a few tips and tricks - AVintageJoy

I recently wrote a post about the most important aspects of life that I've learned since I was 20! If you haven't read that post, take a second and go read that and come back. It will help you understand this post on a deeper level. Learning to be an adult is a weird transition filled with expectations of what should and shouldn't be happening. 

One of the lessons I've learning though that I didn't really mention in that post, because I felt like I needed to expand upon so much so that I feel it deserves its own post. That topic is: Recharging your own personal battery.

During a stressful season or week have you learned how to recharge yourself in a healthy and productive way? If you have, I'm so proud of you!! Great Job!! If it's something that you're still working through or struggling with, this post is mainly for you!

One of the way I used to work through a particularly stressful week was to "pushing through" or "just getting through it", and sometimes that can be a strength, but sometimes is not the best option to tap into. What are other ways you can work through a particularly busy season of life? 

Part of living a balanced life is realizing the days or weeks where you're super unbalanced. How do you take steps in the right direction? "Let's talk about that" (said in my best Dr. Phill voice)

Discovery Phase

Let's take some time to learn about the "how" of recharging, this is so different for everyone it's important to learn for yourself how you recharge.

1// The first step is to look at your day to day behavior and start to consciously think about what makes you smile? Don't write down anything just yet, just put that thought in your brain so that you start to realize what makes your smile throughout the day. What do you feel that brings energy or life back into your day? Is it when you complete a task, or you know a fun event is coming up in the week?

For the sake of an example, let's just use me. Below are two ways that I noticed I got energy from. 

  • I find energy in the moments when I'm around people I don't have to be "on" with. People that I can just be myself with. 
  • I also find energy when I know there are two exciting things coming up. It could be as simple as I know I'm getting coffee tomorrow morning before work, or I know I'll be off this Sunday so I can go to Church.

2// The second step is to look at yourself in real eyes and think: Am I an introvert or an extrovert?

Do I truly enjoy being around people, or give the choice would I rather go to a bookstore by myself and read? Also, by being an introvert it doesn't mean that you don't like people, or by being an extrovert it doesn't mean that you can stand being by yourself, but we're all somewhere on the spectrum. Where do you stand?

3// Take an entire week to and step back, jot down things throughout your day that make you smile. This is closely related to the first step, but it is a small action your taking to work towards making yourself recharged! This isn't what you feel makes your happy, but real time/ in the moment things that make you smile.

To keep going with our example:

Some of mine were:

  • Waking up when my body wakes up, not making myself sleep in longer or wake up earlier
  • When theres a fridge full of real food
  • Knowing my house is clean
  • A really good cup of coffee
  • The smell of a really wonderful candle burning
  • Taking the time to listen to worship music/spend time with God
  • Watching about an hour or under of TV (any longer than that and I started to feel guilty)
  • Doing small exercises before bed

Action Phase 

Now that you've discovered some small ways that you, consciously or maybe unconsciously, recharge yourself or your day, it's time to act on those! 

4// How can you organize your day to still get all you need to accomplish done, but also include some items from your list? Do you need to wake up 10 minutes earlier to make your really good cup of coffee that starts your day in the right direction? Do you need to spend twenty minutes before bed to clean your house so that when you wake up you feel calm?

Bonus Tip: I've found that, although I feel like my mom talking to my phone, I really love having Siri set a 20 minute timer and cleaning my house at night. 20 minutes doesn't feel overwhelming in the amount of time, and it's crazy how many things you can clean when you have 20 minutes! 

5// Intentionally take 10 minutes each day to pamper yourself. I know that sounds like a given, but in a world where we're always moving and theres always another meeting to get to, it's hard to carve out time to intentionally do something nice for ourselves. I tend to do mine before bed, or before I go out. This is a universal guide because it doesn't matter if you're an extrovert or introvert, if you're not taking care of your body, you won't feel as recharged as you could throughout the day. 

Some ideas to pamper yourself can include:

  • Make a smoothie in the morning so that you eat before leaving the house
  • Put lotion on before going to bed so that your body doesn't dry out at night
  • Learn a better/ more effective way to put your makeup on that saves you both time and you still look great!
  • Wear your favorite neckless no matter what day of the week it is!
  • Set an appointment to see your doctor to do a routine checkup. 

A very small way I did this recently was to paint my nails. That sounds so small, but every time I picked something up, having that little sparkle was a reminder that I'm taking care of myself too. When is the last time that you put the tips you watch into action? When is the last time you put on an at home face mask, or did a moisturizing hair treatment?

Bonus Tip:

Do something that gets you "out of your box" as one of my friends says. Do something for someone else that has nothing to do with you, or your own goals. Buy someones coffee behind you in line for no reason, give a tip to the person who rings up your items at the grocery store, bring flowers to a friend, etc. Although these seem so small, they will make such a wonderful impact of your day and theirs. And you're helping someone else recharge their day in a very small way! 

Now go out there and take some real steps to live a more balanced life! Recharge yourself when you're feeling low, don't let your battery run out! You're the one responsible for knowing when you're getting low! You've got this! Take a breather we're all working through it. 

 

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The Most Important Lessons I've learned Since I was 20!

Life lessons come in stages, here are the one I've learned since I was 20 that I've found most helpful!!

There are so many birthday posts about "Things I've learned in 20-something years". I am obsessed with those posts!! Recently, however, I've started thinking about things that I haven't learned from my entire time on earth, but what are things that I've learned in the past years between "YAY I'm 20!" and "I can't believe I'm almost 30!"

Not all of these are finalized, close the chapter, and turn the page, but they are lessons that I didn't start to learn until after I was 20. If you are in your 20s, or pre-20s, or post 20s we all have stages of life that we learn lessons in. I hope these help you start to learn these lessons, or solidify that "yes these are important lessons for me to learn."

1// While in College any scholarship money that you can get is so helpful!! I remember both sides of this coin. I remember spending hours looking for scholarships to get none of them, and feeling like I was wasting my time. I also remember seeing a scholarship at my school that I was pretty sure I qualified for, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to apply for! I'm so glad that I decided to apply because I did get that scholarship. If I hadn't applied I would have left about $3,000 on the table! Crazy! College is basically the only time in your life that people are like "You're young and want to learn, here's some free money to help because we know you're struggling." I wish there were more things like that after college like, "We see that you're paying for rent all by yourself and you want to travel, here is some money!" 

Paris - AVintageJoy

2// Trends in clothing change so much, purchase quality items as opposed to the ones that are cool right now. This is both about clothes and furniture. Remember when shirts that were high in the front and really long in the back were a thing?! Where are they all now! On the other hand, my combat boots that I found and love I still wear years and years later.

3// Travel during your summers in College! On a similar note to number one, there are not as many times in life after college that you get as long of a break as summer break in college is. Yes, I worked during the summer in college, but it's so much easier to say "I'm working a part time job, I can take 3 weeks off to go explore." as opposed to "I have a staff of 30, I would like to go travel for three weeks."

-Subnote: Have some of those trips be road trips in there with friends. It will be worth it! Trust me, and so much cheeper, because you're also still in college and have to check on finances so carefully.

4// Status/a title will not make you happy! We all fall into moments where we think "If only I had ____ I would be happy." But it really doesn't. Things and status will not bring fulfillment to your life, only God can do that. Trying to fill your life with things other than Jesus in the hopes of feeling fulfilled will just not work! That's one of the reasons why, when you do get that promotion or that item, the excitement of that fades and then you're looking for something else to feel fulfilled in a few days or weeks. Their beauty will always fade. I first hand know about this. For a few years I felt like I was chasing the "white rabbit" of being a manager, but once I got it I realized that it, just like everything else in life other than Jesus, does not fulfill!

5// The unique aspects of you that maybe you were made fun of as a kid, are the aspects of your personality that set you apart from others. On a physical/looks level one thing that I use to get made fun of as a kid that I felt hopeless about was my eyebrows. Back in my day (sarcasm on purpose), small skinny eyebrows were "in", I never had eyebrows like that. But now, being an adult and not having plucked to death my eyebrows, they are something that I get comments on. It's part of my face and something that I actually really like. Your beauty marks can lead to a career like Cindy Crawford. It's a big sentence to say but, be learn to be comfortable in your own skin. It's always something to keep learning but, just because one person looks at you funny, it doesn't matter!

6// Learn to share! This is a little more of a humorous lesson I've learned, but there are so many times that I use to go out to eat with friends that I would purchase all of this food and then leave half of it uneaten. Learn to share your fries with your friends. You'll save money and waste less. Also, make sure if you're going to get a medium or a large that you're hungry enough to eat/drink it! I was notoriously bad for getting the wrong size drink and wasting half of it. Not any more, I like to spend my money where it counts!! 

london subway - AVintageJoy

7// The world is so much bigger than you realize! No matter how "cultured" you are, the world is so much bigger than you can imagine! The more you travel and get to know people the more you realize how little you really know. Never stop learning and helping others. I pray that we do not get so comfortable in our little worlds that we have the naivety to think that everyone is as blessed as we are! Helping others is really the main message behind this lesson. 

8// Comparison is a thief of Joy. Get inspiration from people of course, learn from them, get inspired by what they're doing, but don't compare where they're at in life to where you're at. You are a different person, with different lessons to learn. Comparing and feeling behind will only lead you to feeling unsettled, not motivated.

9// Don't have a fear of investing in friendships or being yourself in a group of people. I'm definitely an extrovert, but there are times that in a large group of people where the girls are all talking about makeup or all playing with each other's hair, that I don't know what to do! I have a fear of talking about how I love the Star Wars movies because maybe the girls won't like me. But WHO CARES!! I'm looking for friends who appreciate who I am and I appreciate them for who they are. You don't have to love everything your friends do, but you do have to respect each other. And how can they respect that you really love this nerdy aspect of something if you never give them the chance to. Be your weird self! (they're nerdy about something too!)

College - AVintageJoy

10. It's ok to be Mulan. Let me explain!...When I grew up I always wanted to Belle and I still love Belle, but I'm much more of a Mulan in real life. I have goal after goal of reading books, and part of me is an introvert, but I'm much more likely to push boundaries of what a female "can and should" do. I feel you, don't message me about how powerful a woman Belle is, I know! That's why I love her too. But the "I'm just going to do this to fight for my family and so that my loved ones don't have to worry about this." Is much more my personality! I say that all to say, learn to see yourself in true eyes! Learn what your blindspots are and what your strengths are. We all have them, it's ok.

11. What God thinks of me is more important than what anyone else thinks. On that same note, if I truly want to fill fulfilled, I have to be following my God given calling, not worrying about what anyone else thinks. This one is the hardest for me to write, because I'll be working on this for years, and this is the one sometimes I feel the most out of line with. But, I remember the times in my 20's that I felt most alive, it was when I was more focused on what He thinks about me than worrying about what others think. 

This wonderful picture to the right is me from college, having a wonderful time learning how to solder. Yes, it's not the best picture, but I really love it because I was having so much fun! You can also definitely tell that a bunch of guys lived in this house from all of the lovely background accoutrements. 

There's one more lesson I've learned more about this year than ever before. But I feel like that one is a more detailed posts. So I'm going to write another post about that lesson. Read it here!

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You are the ONLY You that will Ever You!

Be Your Quirky Wonderful Self! - AVintageJoy

I recently read THIS POST by CupofJo and it really hit me. I love so many aspects of people and I really want to learn all that I can from other's experiences, but I truly believe the unique aspects of ourselves are the thing that makes us so unique. I know that sounds kinda like a "duh" statement, but remember when you were a kid? Remember all of those unique aspects of yourself being the thing that other kids tried to make you feel bad for?

I've been told things, even in my adult life like "you really shouldn't make so many jokes if you're running a meeting" **I made two jokes in an hour's time**. Those things, if we're not careful change the unique aspects about us that are the reason why we're where we are in the first place. 

Yes, we should always be maturing and growing as a person, but those special aspects of ourselves that others saw and loved, are also the aspects that others will see and want to change. 

I saw a poster that said "You can't make everyone happy, you're not coffee" Preach! I'm not here to try to appease everyone I come in contact with, there are going to be people that we just don't have to be best friends with, and that is ok! We're meant to love people to the best of our ability, but it is also a two way street. If you're going to be friends with someone they have to buy into that as well. 

It can be very easy to start to be someone else's version of you. Don't! Your loud laugh, or quirky jokes, or curly hair, are all meant to be that way on purpose. Be proud of your freckles, don't cover them up! Be yourself, don't spend your time trying to be "the cool kid." What does that even mean anyways, cool is defined by whatever the masses say is cool right now. Remember when Jocks, then Nerds, then Social Media Influencers became cool?

 It changes so much, just focus on being you! You're the best and only you that will ever you. Do yourself the justice of being that! 

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June Goals (10 in 30)

June Goals 2018 (10  in 30) - AVintageJoy

It's around this time of the year that I feel like my brain goes "ahhhhh" because the year is going so quickly and I have so many things I want to accomplish! We all have so many small and big goals that we're working towards every day. It's important to celebrate those. 

1// Purchase my Sugarland Tickets! If you don't know who they are, it's a country music band that I loved when I was younger and then they broke up to have kids....but they're back together now!! And they're coming to my part of the world and I really want to see them! 

2// Find lotion that I love, that's also better for my body than the lotion I'm using now. I never thought I had dry skin, but now I'm realizing I do, and lotion is important. The lotion I want to find though is lotion that has only a few ingredients so that it's better for my skin! Any thoughts?

3// Go to bed earlier. I have to get up so early for work, and yet in my heart I'm a night owl, therefore I tend to only get six hours of sleep a night, and recently those have been restless hours, no bueno.

4// Use my Levenger notebook to its fullest potential. I may even do a post on how great this notebook is. I love it so much! 

5// Learn more about my Lightroom presets. I've always been so intrigued by them and how they work so I finally purchased a set from Peter McKinnon and I love them! But I feel like they need to be tweaked on my pictures because of where I tend to shoot vs. where he tends to shoot. 

6// I want to find two things this month that I can cut out that will help me save more money! Because I feel like it's been so long since I've traveled I've been settling down. Getting use to a place isn't bad, but I don't want all of my money going for that instead of towards a future vacation!! 

7// Keep up with my at home workout routine! I'm starting to craft an at home workout routine that I really enjoy, I just need to keep it up!!

8// Look into options for AC units either in the window or something that I can put in the wall. I just moved and my new place has a window unit, but 20 minutes after I started it up, the cold air just became air *cries*.

9// On that same home remodel path: check to see how much a simple crown molding would be. I had it in my last place and I feel like it gave so much character. I wonder how much it would cost to do that in my place now?

10// See the outdoors! I'm keeping this one from months past because I wasn't very successful! I typically work 10-12 hrs a day, so seeing the sun is something that not only is important for my mental health, but also my physical! Go outdoors people! 

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Five things you can do TODAY to take better care of Yourself

Hi my name is Joy and I'm very bad at taking care of myself! It's true! I have this habit of thinking everything will be fine, and all I need is a little sleep and I'll feel better either mentally or physically.

Hi my name is Joy and I'm very bad at taking care of myself! It's true! I have this habit of thinking everything will be fine, and all I need is a little sleep and I'll feel better either mentally or physically and sometimes that works and other times it doesn't. Through my many failed attempts at making myself feel better, I've learned ways and habits that really do help me take care of myself. 

I never want to get in the "I'll live forever so whatever" type of mentality because we're not promised forever. One out of one people will eventually die, so it's important that we keep that in mind no matter what age we are!! I believe that we're only given this one body, so I want to make sure that I'm taking good care of the resources I've been given, including myself. 

1// Take yourself off of social media. I saw this picture that I'm sure many of us have seen and it's so profound. It's the picture where there's one woman standing actually being in the moment and not trying to "get the shot." I love getting the shot! I'm all about that life, but I'm also about a balanced life. Take a few hours today and put away your phone! Be in the moment. 

2// Find a doctor in your area and make an appointment to go, or call your doctor and set up an appointment for this week. Don't neglect your health because you only have one body, take care of it!

3// Cook a meal, like a proper meal from scratch. Because of my work I tend to live in a very on-the-go food lifestyle, but it's important to take the time to cook a meal at home. It's so much better for your body to eat a home cooked meal! Throw a salad in there, trust me your body will thank you!

4// Read! While you're putting away your social media, pull out a book and stretch your mind. Learn new words from Jane Eyre or Shakespeare, heck he made up his own and now we use those! Get into a different world and allow your mind to set the scene.

5// Have a friend over. Step out of your comfort zone if you're an introvert, or if your an extrovert clean up your place and have a loved one over. Find that person who you don't have to be "on" when you see them, and hang out. We all know the people in our lives that it is so easy to spend time with. Take the time to have them over and, actively listen and get into their world. Interacting in person with people really does help your health. According to multiple studies it also decreases your stress levels, depression, and increases your ability to feel empathy for others. 

Bonus: Write down you're boundaries. If you've just worked a ten hour day and someone asks you if you want to go to dinner, but all you really want to do is go home and sit in silence, it's ok to say no thank you! You can exercise your boundary there and then the next time you will say yes if you feel that will help your day!

Another wonderful reason to  know your boundaries is that it's easy to get frustrated with people who you feel are stepping all over your boundaries, but it's not fair to them to say that if you never told them what those boundaries are. 

Moral of the story: Take a moment today to take a look into your own life and see what you can do to help your own self care.  

Find out more about the benefit of in-person interaction from this article from the nytimes! 

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Why Good Habits Matter

Creating good habits is so important to make sure that you're on the right path! This is Why good habits matter!

Creating good habits is so important to make sure that you're on the right path. Having a goal and creating habits that move you towards your goals are one and the same. If you can't create those positive habits, but you really really want to accomplish your goals, you're really setting yourself up for failure. Goals that are worth striving for, sometimes have roadblocks and hard seasons associated with them; good habits are the thing that make the difference in those hard times. 

Let us start at the beginning:

The definition of a habit according to Webster (also my autocorrect keeps wanting to put Hobbit and that just makes me happy): 

"An acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary"

"The prevailing disposition or character of a person's thoughts and feelings" 

I love that both of these really describe the fact that a habit is something that we don't just have out of nowhere, it's something that we have to work to have. It's something that has to "prevail" over the other things we want to do.

One of the main reasons that people don't accomplish their goals is because the habits that need to be the backbone of those goals isn't there. We start on our goals and when something goes wrong (*cough* which it will at some point *cough*) we don't have the habits to get though the hard times. 

But how do you create a habit? And what does that practically look like?

You remind yourself why this is important. You remind yourself of the "why" behind your goals. You say out loud why this is important. Why you doing this gets you closer to your goals, and you keep going! 

Keep spending those ten minutes before bed reading your Bible even when you feel stagnant, because it is those habits that lead you deeper in your relationship with God! You keep trying to write your screenplay because you feel that your story matters, and it will help someone in their season of life! You strive to have two days off a week because you know how important it is to your mental health to have a moment of release.

Remind yourself of the "why" behind your habit. You are the best and only you that will ever you. Give yourself the best shot at your goals, by being honest with yourself. Are you putting in the effort and creating the habits that get you a step closer to your goals? Are you giving you your best shot!? Are you focused on the correct goals? That's an entirely different post, but it's another important question to ask. 

What habit are you working through right now that you can focus on continuing? Is there a habit in your life the you should really let go of? Are you creating habits that move you towards your longterm and short term goals?

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