Saturday, January 24, 2015

TaDa . . .The Thrifty Chick 2015 Challenge!!!

How did last year’s Thrifty Chick Challenge (to find fashion items for $10 or less) work out for you? If you missed the 2014 Thrifty Chick Challenge, here are some frugal fashion posts you won't want to miss:

The Thrifty Chick 2014 Challenge
Thrifty Chick Finds . . . Brought to You by my Coworkers
The Thrifty Chicks Take on the Rosebowl Flea Market
The Thrifty Chicks Ugly Christmas Sweater and More Cozy Clothes

All you need is a hot
glue gun, clips, and
fabric flowers to make
cute hair accessories.
While I loved the experiment and was thrilled to find a ton of pieces that met the challenge, I still spent more than I needed to on clothing in 2014, but probably not as much as the average woman since it just about kills me to pay full price for anything. Nevertheless, I do admit I have a closet stuffed full of clothes, some of which I hardly wear. The commonly known statistic that most people wear only 20% of their clothing 80% of the time rings true with me and, in fact, haunts me because I feel guilty about having a closet full of clothes I am not fully taking advantage of. So this year’s challenge is to maximize what you already have by updating old clothing combinations with new or used inexpensive accessories. With a little ingenuity, you can create potentially hundreds of different outfit combinations from clothing items you have forgotten about in your closet and update these combos with new accessories you buy on the cheap or, better yet, make for yourself!!!
These fabric flowers were on sale for $2 at Michaels. 
You know I love wearing floral hair clips,
so I was thrilled when I found these leopard ones
to match the new $5 top that Mom bought
me for Christmas at thrift store. 
Matched up the top with my turquoise capri pants.
Then found a pair of animal print shoes in my closet . . . 
Voila! A brand new outfit for $7. That's right. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

3 Creative Uses for Vintage Handkerchiefs

Home decorating can easily become costly, leaving many frugal moms feeling overwhelmed about decorating their abodes. If that is the case for you, it’s time to get creative with those lovely items tucked away around the home that you might have forgotten about. For example, your grandmother’s beautiful vintage handkerchiefs. Why not free them from your hope chest, display them, and enjoy the benefit of their vintage beauty? Even if you were not able to save Grandma’s vintage items, you can purchase a lovely handkerchief for as little as $3-$4 at a vintage store, flea market, or antique shop.

I bought this vintage handkerchief at a flea market for $4. 

There's Grandma's navy blue and white
handkerchief in a glass frame.
For easy project ideas, try the following:

1.       Hand wash, dry, and iron a handkerchief. Use a Michael’s framing coupon and find a frame that fits the handkerchief, so you can display it in your favorite spot.

2.       Hand sew the edges of several handkerchiefs together to form a banner you can string above your curtains or dresser.

I sewed the tips of Grandma's hankies together
and attached flower clothespins. 

3.       Use several overlapping handkerchiefs on top of your nightstands to add color to your bedroom.

My flea market find is the perfect nightstand topper. 
Linking to: Weekend Retreat Link PartyThursday Favorite Things Blog PartyPink SaturdayTip Me TuesdayMoonlight and Mason Jars Link PartyOne Project at a Time

Monday, January 12, 2015

Kick Start Your 2015 Money Makeover {and Learn to Be Financially Confident}

If one of your goals for 2015 is getting financially fit, then you will not want to waste another moment without Mary Hunt’s The Financially Confident Woman: What You Need to Know to Take Charge of Your Money. An essential read, especially for single moms, Hunt begins with a refreshing fiscal confession and shares the secrets of working out from beneath $100,000 in debt into a financially responsible, debt-free, and frugal lifestyle. Chalk full of self-assessment quizzes, tips for smart spending, and money do’s and don’ts, this book will not only help you to assess your current view on finances, it will forever change your relationship with money. The nine habits of a financially confident woman, broken down into a chapter each, will thoroughly teach you how to properly save, spend, and invest your money. You’ll learn to know where your money is going and how to avoid the root of financial disaster, a lack of confidence regarding money. Sharing her financial trials and triumphs, Hunt partners with you to walk you through your own financial fears and helps you develop a take-charge approach.

But how can you incorporate these changes into your financial life and make them stick this year? The Financially Confident Woman includes practical and user-friendly charts such as a checkbook balancing worksheet and a monthly spending plan that will help you make significant changes as you learn to manage your money instead of letting it manage you. More importantly is the six-week action plan at the end of the book will consolidate everything you have learned and enable you to implement a total money-makeover. Are you ready to get going? After all, you—and every woman—owes it to herself to learn all she can about her financial situation and how to improve it. Let Hunt’s words become your monetary edict this year and you will find yourself in a better financial position come 2016: “Every woman, regardless of her marital status, age, strengths, or weaknesses needs to know how to manage money confidently and effectively.” 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Five Essential Goals for Single Parent Success in 2015

In Robert Schuller’s words, “Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us. They are essential to really keep us alive.” Due to feeling overwhelmed with so many demands, many single parents need an extra boost of motivation, and planning goals for 2015 is a surefire way to stay on track. So if the idea of making New Year’s resolutions does not appeal to you, consider establishing some important goals for this year. Get out your journal and start with the following five essentials.

  1. Join a support group. Since all of the household and parenting responsibilities fall on your shoulders, it is essential for you to know who you can depend on when you need an extra hand. Most likely, you have a support network that includes your immediate family, friends, and neighbors, but do these people understand the unique struggles you have as a single parent? Locate a single parent group in your area and consider joining it to fellowship among people who share common problems and solutions. Hearing stories like your own will ease your burdens and lift your spirits.  
  2. Make self-care a top priority. Because single parents often get bogged down by a myriad of pressures, they sometimes find themselves taking out their stress and anxiety on the kids. This creates a strained atmosphere at home that is not beneficial to the family, which is why it is important that you learn to manage your stress and take good care of yourself. Make an effort to get fit physically and emotionally by eating and drinking well, getting enough sleep, and taking some time out for yourself. Time alone can be powerful because it brings healing, hope, and perspective. Make it top priority this year to create pockets of time in your life to gain a fresh outlook and reflect on your parenting. Time for you can also include some fun, like sipping your favorite drink at a coffeehouse, journaling in the park, or working on your favorite craft or hobby. Schedule some time for you at least once a week, and swap babysitting with other moms.   
  3. Get smart about your money. Since most single parents live on only one income, it is
    important to know where your money is going each month and learn to live more frugally. Download a free personal budget spreadsheet online and begin tracking your expenses so you can identify areas where you are overspending. Next, plan monthly spending goals that are realistic for each area of your total expenses. Make a plan for saving, even if only $25 a month to begin with. Likewise, make a plan to pay off debt. Finally, learn to spend your money more wisely by using coupons, shopping at discount and thrift stores, eliminating unnecessary purchases, and cutting back on expenses like eating out or going to the movies. Scour your cabinets, closets, and bookshelves first and ask yourself if you really need to make that purchase or if you can make better use of what you already have.
  4. Stick to a consistent routine. Although they will be the first ones to protest, children thrive on regular routines because consistency helps them to feel secure. Most important is a consistent bedtime since it is crucial for kids to go to bed early enough to get at least eight hours of sleep during the week. At least an hour prior to bedtime, dim the lights and have the family unplug since the light emitted from electronics stimulates wakefulness. Children can transition from the bath or shower to a quiet activity like reading. Similarly, establish morning routines that include a balanced breakfast prior to running out the door. If your children visit the other parent, consider establishing a routine involving the pick-up or drop off as that can ease the transition from one parent’s house to another. 
  5. Be the parent, not the friend (mostly). Parenting falls into several strategies from strict to permissive and an entire gray area in between. Take some time to do an inventory and think about where you are off balance. Do you rescue your children from the consequences of their behavior? Or are you unbending, even when the infraction is not a big deal? Be realistic and pick one or two parenting areas to work on, like being more consistent with upholding the household rules. Since you do not have a spouse to share in the parenting load, find an accountability partner you can talk to weekly about progress reports. Strive to be the parent first since kids need to know where the boundaries are and that you are in charge. At the same time, learn to laugh at life’s imperfections and be flexible about the clutter and chaos that accompanies the single parent life. Take time to read to your children, doodle in coloring books, or blow bubbles. For fun with older kids, play their favorite video game, roast marshmallows in a fire pit, or ride bikes on the beach. Recreation will not only help you to relax and lighten up, but also bond with your children and enjoy a lot more of the upcoming year. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

My Word for 2015 {Uphold}

Every year for seven years, God gives me a word for the year. It happens early, usually in October. The word simply appears and then tumbles around in my heart like clothes in a drawer. Over and over for weeks, my mind meditates on this new word, knowing it will be an important theme for the upcoming 12 months. My word came this time in an amazing way. At the very beginning of October, not able to quell my anticipation, I asked God for my word and simultaneously received it. Uphold. The word scared me a bit, I admit. I questioned, what trial will I go through that God will need to uphold me through? The first verse that came to mind was Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Fortunately, two good friends had a more positive reaction to my word that erased my fears. They said 2015 is a year for me to uphold what is truly important. No doubt, God certainly stripped away everything that is not important, leaving me vulnerable and uncomfortable these last few years, but able to clearly see my priorities in the end. Now, I can cherish was IS important, like trusting God first with everything, prioritizing time spent with family and friends, and upholding boundaries around my values and talents.

While a word like uphold directs my focus, I know my most important priority each day is staying in His Word and knowing Him. For if we place our trust in Him, no matter the good and bad that flows through the days and months of 2015, He will uphold us all.

What important priorities will you uphold this year? 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Year's Blessing {Welcoming 2015}!

As we step forward into a New Year with all of its promise of new beginnings, dear God, help us to embrace a fresh start by leaving our regrets and sadness in the past. Give us the faith to move ahead to all of the blessings you have for us, our families, and our friends in the upcoming year. Where doors have closed, help us to focus on the windows that are opening. Let us not look at the rain, but instead, help us to marvel at the rainbows you put in our lives. Lastly, give us whatever we need to be the best women we can and live each day fully in 2015! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

SOLUTIONS for Doing More of What You Love in 2015

When my daughter asked me if we could wake up at 3:45 am a few months ago to witness the lunar eclipse, I paused and thought to myself that it would probably take an erupting volcano to get me up at that hour . . . but I consented and we shared a special memory I won’t regret, especially in a few short years when she flies off to college. Spectacular moments aside, I just can’t bring myself to wake up at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. to find time for my writing passion like many busy writers do. Heck, I can’t even think before the sun rises. Anyone else with me? For the New Year, let’s throw out the resolutions and find some solutions for weaving extra time into normal waking life to do the things we love to do.

Solution for BUSYWORK: Spinning your wheels to have everything tidied up and in perfect working order every day when you get home from work and school sucks up too much time. As an alternative, enlist your kids to help out with the day-to-day chores, especially dinner clean-up. Try cutting corners by using paper plates and begin a weekly schedule to eliminate unnecessary repetition of tasks. The faster you get your house in order each day and get out of the kitchen, the more time you will have to work on your craft or hobby.

Solution for OVERSCHEDULING: Planning too many activities during the week and then finding your family running from one thing to the next will leave everyone exhausted. The bottom line is you can’t do everything. If you are always busy with activities, you will have no time for the things you are truly passionate about. The New Year provides everyone a golden opportunity for a fresh start. Learn to find a balance in 2015. One activity per week per family member is a realistic goal that will cut down on chauffeuring everyone across town and open up more time for you to do what you love.   

Solution for REPLACING: What time-wasters do you currently engage in that bring little profit to your life? What activity can you eliminate to make room for your passion? Identify an activity that you could cut out of your life to create time for what you truly love. For example, cut out fifteen minutes of your daily Facebook time and use it for crafting, painting, scrap booking, or whatever else you love to do instead. Once you eliminate the old activity to make room for the new one, keep that time sacred and make it a part of your New Year routine.

Solution for FLEXIBILITY: Making your passion a priority in your day-to-day life means being flexible and making it mobile. Can you take your craft with you so you can work on it at a soccer game or while waiting for an oil change? For instance, my daughter and I were at an embroidery shop recently, and I asked the owner how she has time for doing her beautiful work. As it turns out, she has little time for embroidery, so she brings her kit with her everywhere and works on it in bits and pieces while waiting in line at Starbucks or in between errands. Likewise, think about ways you can make your passion portable so you can throw it into your bag each morning since you never know when a 10 minute window of opportunity will come up for you to dedicate to doing what you love. Those minutes will add up to hours of doing more of what you love in 2015!!!


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