Budget Tales: When Excess Money Leads to Express Spending

Since May, when I set some new career-life goals, I realized I needed to whip our budget into shape. I wanted to focus on saving more, spending less, and attacking our debt more aggressively. So, I started a budget, again, for probably the 100th time in my adult life. However, this time around, for the most part, it has stuck and I have been consistently budgeting and tracking away. I say I, instead of we, as money management is typically my responsibility, however we do make most financial decisions together. Right, Matt?!

Our Budget Method

I use a modified version of the Zero Sum method. The main modification being that instead of budgeting monthly, I budget pay period to pay period (every two weeks) as I’ve found, for me personally, working in smaller chunks is less overwhelming and easier to stick with. At the start of a pay period I allocate money (bills, savings, etc.) and I leave a little buffer amount in for unexpected expenses. Once the next pay period rolls around I take whatever is left over and transfer it directly to a debt. It’s usually not much, but I take pleasure in chipping away any extra that I can.

More Money, More Problems

A few days ago I noticed my buffer amount was higher than usual. After double checking my math and making sure everything was paid or accounted for, my heart did a little dance. I celebrated the fact that budgeting was finally paying off with some excess funds! It works!

At this point there were about five days until the next pay period (when I would transfer the excess to a debt and start fresh) so I just let the money sit in our account. Then guess what happened? Can you guess? I started to get loose. I bought lunch at work a few times. I started browsing online for shoes and running watches and things that I want, but definitely don’t need. I found myself headed down a slippery slope of spending.

The Fix

Semi-panicked at the thought of spending away the buffer amount that made me so happy to begin with, I acted fast. I logged into our bank account and transferred the money a few days early. Moving the money provided instant relief as I no longer had the option to spend it.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you let excess funds lead to excess spending? 

The Similarities Between Running a 5K and Growing Your Blog

This past weekend I ran a 5K race, my first in almost two years. As I’ve been training for this race (and keep in mind my definition of training is three weekly runs between 2-3 miles each) I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my blog-related goals. One day as I passed my favorite running landmark, a pair of emus, it occurred to me there are some strikingly similarities (to me) between running a 5K and accomplishing your blog-related goals.

This is one of my emu buddies. I think it's an emu anyway.

This is one of my emu buddies. I think it’s an emu anyway.

These are my observations, broken down mile for mile, of course.

Mile 1

5K: We’re off! It’s quick and exciting, and everyone has a running watch but me. I have no idea what my pace is, but I feel good, I think. I check in with myself a dozen times and try to settle into a pace that I can maintain.

Starting a blog can be the same, right? You’ve kicked your jitters, signed up, and have taken off! In the beginning you might compare yourself to others. You notice other blogs have custom designs, cool features, and tons of comments. During mile one, it’s important to remember you are running your own race. After all, everyone is in a different place, has different goals, and varying levels of experience.  It isn’t an even playing field, so focusing on anything other than your own improvement doesn’t do much good.

Mile 2

5K: Before I know it, it’s the second mile. I have the same momentum I began with, but I need to work harder to stay focused. I’ve never run this route before and there is so much to look at it! If I’m not careful, it’s easy for me to lose focus.

Once you start a blog, it’s possible to lose focus. I sure did. For awhile I didn’t know which topics I wanted to write about or which aspect of my blog to focus on. I still struggle with this issue as I have a very limited amount of time to work on my blog. The key to my success is staying focused and working on one blog-related goal at a time.

Mile 3

5K: “Just keep going!” One of the many things I said to myself in the final mile of the 5K. There were two people ahead of me that I could see, probably 200 and 400 yards ahead. One of them kept looking back at me to see where I was. I felt like yelling “I’m not going to catch you!” but I didn’t want to expend the energy. Then, I thought about attempting to chase them down, but reminded myself I was “running my own race”. Before I knew it I was at the final turn and speeding across the finish line. I was done! 5K completed!

I consider my blogging mile 3 to be anything (a post, page , or project) I need to finish. Chances are I’ve started out strong, had to re-focus a few times, and then I’m ready to cruise into the homestretch and finish strong. Not that it’s that simple, just like in finishing the final mile of race I find myself pushing hard to wrap up blog posts sometimes. I have to tell myself to just keep going!


5K: Based on my training times, I expected to finish my 5K between 26 and 27 minutes. During my run I felt strong and consistent so I thought for sure that I’d finish in under 27 minutes. Well, I didn’t! My finish time was 29:46, ouch! However, since I felt so great during my run, I decided to be happy with my results. And, bonus! I came home with a prize! Because the 1st place finisher in my age division was an overall winner, the prize for my age division went to the 2nd place person, aka ME!

In blogging, results often vary. You write a post you are sure will gain lots of attention or comments and…nothing! Or, you throw something together and it turns out to be wildly popular. In running and in blogging I’ve learned not to expect certain results and to enjoy the unexpected ones.

Those are some similarities I’ve drawn between running my 5K race and accomplishing my blog-related goals. What similarities do you draw between blogging and another activity?

Simple Storage Solution: Duffle Bags

One thing that I love (as boring as it may seem) is creating simple and organized storage solutions.

After returning from vacation last week I was faced with a pile of empty duffle bags, and because I get a kick out of organizing things, a new storage method for our duffle and canvas bags was born.

This is what I started with, a pile of duffle and canvas bags, along with one large messenger bag.



And, this is my simple solution. It’s the bag our comforter was packaged in. I always try to reuse bedding bags.


Before packing each bag away, I aired the bags out, spot cleaned them, and stored shoulder straps in their corresponding bag. Next, I got to work folding and layering each bag in the storage bag, starting with the largest bag first.

Bag Storage 3


Duffle Bag Storage
Once all of the bags were placed in the storage bag, I did my best to remove any excess air in the storage bag, by, you know sitting on it.


That’s it! Now our eight luggage bags have a clean organized home underneath our bed. Easy to store and easy to access when we need them.



How do you store your extra luggage bags? Do you use the space under your bed for storage? 

Our Summer Vacation in Numbers

Maine Sunset

Oh, hey!

I have returned from over a week in the most lovely state of Maine.

We were so excited and anxious to get there and meet our friends, and I have to admit, I was almost as equally excited to return home to our dogs, our own bed, and normal life. I guess for me, that is the mark of a successful vacation.

I thought I would sum up some highlights (and random-lights) in numbers.

  • Days away (without wifi!): 9
  • Number of fun in the sun days: 8
  • Number of blog posts I scheduled to publish while I was away: :(
  • Number of fireworks shows viewed from a boat in the middle of the lake:
  • Number of pounds gained: 4 Oh, kettle cooked potato chips, I can’t quit you!
  • Hours spent thinking about, and setting new goals: countless!
  • Best T-shirt deal: $4

Kind of a joke, kind of the best T-shirt ever!

  • Number of vacation workouts attempted: 2
  • Number of People magazines read in the sun: 5
  • Amount of leftover vacation money: $156

After all of that and much more, I’m feeling recharged, refocused, and ready to tackle some goals in the coming months!

How was your weekend? Are you working on any specific summer goals?

Goal Progress – June

Hello, July!

So here were are, my second progress update! For those of you who may be new here, I’m working on creating a side business/hustle so I can work part time at my current job.

So how did June go? Well, unlike in May, I made zero in side hustle income in the month June. Want to know why? I didn’t do anything! Well, it’s not that I didn’t do anything, I kept super busy in June, it’s just that I didn’t do much to move my business forward. However, with 335 days to go before my goal deadline, I better get moving!

Steps Taken

  • I posted consistently.
  • I continued to participant in community and reach out to more bloggers.
  • I signed up for Google Adsense.


  • In the last month my Alexa rank has dropped from 1.8 million to 560,000.
  • I’ve had a few posts shared by others on Twitter and I was included in a link up (thanks, everyone).
  • I kicked fear in the shins and told more people in my personal life about my blog. Hi friends!


  • June was a busy month!
  • I think I’ve slightly psyched myself out.

Next Steps

  • Write, write, write!
  • Read, comment, share
  • Guest post
  • Put myself out there

How are your goals going? Have you faced a fear lately?

Whisk Up #3

Yesterday our daycare was closed, so I took the day off from work and spent the day hanging with my two little loves at home. Being home with my kids on a weekday is so bittersweet. On the one hand I relish the precious time I get to spend with them just doing our thing at our own pace, and on the other hand there is the stinging reminder that it’s only for today, and tomorrow it’s back to the scheduled morning routine and work.

In addition to spending some quality time together, we were a productive trio. We played a game called “dump out storage cubes, play with, sort, and reorganize the contents.” The kids focused on the dumping and playing and I worked on the sorting and organizing. We make a great team. Also, while the kids napped, I was able to catch up on reading, commenting, and writing.

So with that said, I bring you Whisk Up #3

What are your favorite frugal activities? Liz is enjoying a day off with her husband and has plans for a fun and frugal Friday!

My girl, Crystal, was suffering from a vacation hangover this week, can you relate? Check out her post, The Ugly Truths About Vacation 

Amy asks if growing your own garden really saves money? I’ve wondered this too, as this is the first year we’re growing a full scale garden.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t take criticism all that well, however Laurie’s post on How To Deal With Criticism, brought up some important points to remember when dealing with criticism.

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Our Inexpensive Summer Vacation

In just a few short weeks we’ll be on vacation visiting the happiest place in the world. No, not Disney.



Our happy place

 This will be our ninth trip to the land of lake and lobster, fresh air and friends.

Our vacation to Maine is relatively inexpensive and here’s why:

We’re fortunate – We stay with friends at their family camp. Since accommodations can be the most expensive part of a vacation, we’re super fortunate not to have that cost.

We all have kids now - Before we had kids, we would go out more often (dining out, bar hopping, outlet shopping). Now, with a combined three children three and under we do a lot less of that. 

Our vacation style - We (along with our friends) prefer to lounge and relax by the lake instead of sighting seeing, shopping, etc. I’m sure we’ll get out and do some fun things, but for the most part we’re happy playing in the water and sand. 

We eat at camp - While we do go out for some meals (hello seafood chowder!) we prepare most of our meals at camp.  We make a (flexible) meal plan, grocery shop, and my friend Rachael even coupons a little while on vacation.


For the first time ever, I’ve created a vacation budget. I’m so much fun! My bright idea is to funnel anything left over from this vacation fund toward a friend’s wedding weekend we have coming up in September.

Do you budget your vacations? If so, do you have any tips? Have you ever been to Maine?

Whisk Up #2

Hello and Happy Friday! I took the week off from posting to concentrate on some home-related tasks and here are a few observations:

  • Everything I cleaned on Monday and Tuesday needs to be cleaned again.
  • Dog hair never quits.
  • In terms of throwing a party, there are just some things you can’t do in advance. I still have a marathon cupcake baking session ahead of me and we’ll still need to have a pre-party cleaning session. Oh well!

Yesterday we celebrated a 1st Birthday! Our youngest turned one and proved even further that she is my child by eating one and half pieces of Birthday cake in record time.

Me and the Birthday girl (and a pug)

My 2nd Whisk Up is as random as ever, however I hope you enjoy! 

Last night I reorganized the cabinet we keep baking sheets and pans in and it reminded me of my post from December 2013, Simple and Inexpensive Baking Pan Organization

Alexa at Single Mom’s Income shared a comprehensive list of The Best Online Business Blog to Learn From

Need a recipe for Buttercream frosting? I thought so.

I discovered Ribbet, a free photo editor. I’ve had fun playing around with it.

How was your week? Pick one: cake or cupcakes?

Have a great weekend!


Practicing My Blog-Life Balance



We have a busy and exciting week coming up. Our youngest turns ONE on Thursday, and on Saturday we’ll throw her very first Birthday party with a household full of family and friends.

When I committed to my goal of growing my blog and pursuing a side hustle, I came to terms with the fact that other things, namely my cleaning and organization projects, would have to take a backseat. I’ve been okay with that because when I do reach my goal, I know I won’t look back and regret that I didn’t sweep more often.

However, since we have a very full (and special!) week coming up, my blog will have to take a backseat. The time I usually spend working on it will be spent putting the finishing touches on a super special Birthday and getting up close and personal with the dog hair that has accumulated in the corners.

Do you ever struggle with your blog-life balance? What is something fun or exciting about your week?

The Daily Whisk Up (1st Ever)


Welcome to the very first edition of the Whisk Up. Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite finds from around the web. Enjoy!

  1. This Mozzarella Pasta is a new favorite recipe of mine. I’ve made it with and without chicken and it’s great both ways.
  2. Do you have backyard chickens? We do not, however I know a lot of people who do and this website, Backyard Chicken Guide is a comprehensive resource, check it out!
  3. A great list (as always) by Marc and Angel: 20 Hard Things You Need to Do to Be Happy
  4. We all could save a little more money, right? Liz of Budgeting For More comprised an excellent list of 20 Ways to Save Money.
  5. Who doesn’t love Costco? (Really, who are you?!) Catherine of Plunged in Debt shared her Favorite Things to Buy at Costco.

Also, if you haven’t already, check out my posts from this week:

Kid Car Kit: 2014 Summer Edition

Tips For Daily Motivation and Inspiration 

Wishing you a great Flag and Father’s Day weekend!