Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Practical Ways to Save Money (While Starting a Small Business)

I am fortunate in that my current situation allows me to both freelance and stay home with my sweet toddler-girl. However, dropping my full-time employment meant a significant dip in the family weekly earnings. This list of strategies are easy ways to offset that dip...at least for a season of life!

Practical ways save starting small business

1. Stop ordering alcohol when out for dinner. 
At our stage in life, I don't think it's reasonable to stop going out with friends and on dates. Not only is it how we relate to our friends, but it's time Husband and I can focus on ourselves. Instead, if I drop the wine or cocktail off of our order, I can still easily save 6-15 dollars every time. I can always pour a glass before we leave or after we return for 1/6 of the cost. 

2. Plan meals ahead of time.  
One grocery trip per week is my goal. With a week of meals planned, I'm not making superfluous or spontaneous purchases. Less food rots in the fridge, and I can buy in bulk purposefully. I can also make budgetary decisions upfront and not rush through them while pacing the isles with a toddler in the cart.

3. Have a monthly clothing budget.  
Having a clothing budget helps me see the true value in each clothing purchase. My thoughts typically go like this "If I buy this now, I can't buy anything next month. Is this the best (clothing/accessories/shoes) thing that will happen in two months?" I dream of being able to shop for everything on zara.com, but that day is not today, and it's worth the strictures.

4. Put gift money into savings. 
My husband's family gives a lot of money gifts for birthdays and Christmas, sometimes even for Valentines Day and Easter. Normally I feel entitled to use that gift money for fun things, but it can go a long way to make up for depleted income. Straight into savings it goes. It's a bonus anyway.

5. Live off of Flash Sales. 
Groupon and similar flash sale sites (our local version is cincysavers.com) have everything these days. By purchasing $1.00 fitness classes vs. joining a gym, or 50% off nights out at a restaurant, or replacing home goods for cheap, flash sales can save you money. It requires a little bit of flexibility, spontaneity, and discernment, but the savings can add up. Beware of spending pitfalls though - make sure you are only spending money on things/activities you would buy without coupons. No extra purchases just because it's cheap!

6. Look at your Bank Account Every Week.  
That sounds so boring. And yes, hopefully it will be! Surprises are bad in bank accounts. A little face time with my bank account keeps me knowledgeable. Fundamentally, it keeps me motivated and on track.

7. Think of Everything in Terms of Opportunity Cost.   
If this, then that. We can't have it all, and that's okay. Opportunity cost is a trade. I am highly motivated to keep my business going even through the years of baby raising. It is one of my priorities, and I have to treat it financially as such. While remembering that it's only a season, cutting corners and saving is worth it to grow my business. If putting off the kitchen renovation for 6 months means I can invest some extra time or capital into growing my business, it's worth it.

You know, it's funny. When you believe in something, small sacrifices don't seem so bad! 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Four Brave Reasons to Work Out

I can think a lengthy list of negative reasons to work out : I need to look better. I should be more desirable.  I want to be more like that girl.

It almost feels "natural" to look insecurely at myself and seek to increase my worth with the quality of my body. Unfortunately though, when the goal is to gain perceived value or self-worth and I fail, I feel discouraged and a little hopeless. It can become a rotten emotional cycle.

Through the years, I thankfully discovered that my body doesn’t affect the inherent value that I possess from God (as I believe) or from those that love me. That is true of every single woman. We can all take that pressure off ourselves!

There are wonderful, positive, and brave reasons to work! These reasons build my confidence and health instead of knocking them down.
4 brave reasons to work out excercise

1. For the Joy
There is a rush of joy when we use our bodies. Sometimes it takes a few weeks of effort to get there, but when we overcome a milestone, feel our lungs adjust, or get the moves right, it’s a personal celebration. Joy comes from different exercises for different women. I find joy in running and dancing, but it could come from gardening, swimming, yoga, or a team sport…anything that moves you.

2. To Set an Example
Our kids will definitely be watching us on this one. Consider how we want our kids (or anyone that looks up to us) to use their bodies.  Take those values as motivation to demonstrate ways to consider, tend to, and enjoy using our bodies for the right reasons. Let them see us swim a few laps at the pool during adult swim. Invite friends to go on a fun stroller walk around the park or join a volleyball league. We can encourage our kids to be physical by being physical ourselves.

3. To Defeat the Bad Guys (/Be Prepared for Anything)
I want to be ready. I want to be nimble enough to catch my stroller if it starts rolling away from me. I want to be strong enough to hold on to my purse if someone tries to snatch it. I want to give myself a fighting chance and trust my body to respond to my commands. Now, of course, we all hope no one has to actually defeat any bad guys :), but exercising can provide a feeling of power to face whatever crazy circumstance manifests itself around our families.

4. For Quality and Longevity
This is about experiencing life in the best way possible. When we make an effort to be healthy, we give ourselves the best shot to be spontaneous, to overcome obstacles like steep stairs or long treks, and to participate in everything going on around us. We allow ourselves the best shot to experience the wonderful relationships, activities, and opportunities in life for as long as possible.

Next time you are staring down the elliptical, give one of these motivations a try. They’ve made a big difference for me. Please share your other brave reasons to exercise and stay healthy. I'm always looking for more!

Enjoy your brave workouts!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

White Chocolate Cookie Dough Fudge - YUMZ

Never again. Never again will this mama bring brownies in for the bake sale. Never again will I show up with candy cane cookies for the cookie exchange. This fudge has changed my life. 

White Chocolate Cookie Dough Fudge
It is everything it sounds like. Sweet. Buttery. Smooth and chewy. I had to freeze most of the pan so that we wouldn't eat it all in a day. It took a lot of self control. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Cookie Dough Fudge

White Chocolate Cookie Dough Fudge


Eggless Cookie Dough

  • ¼ cup butter (softened)
  • ¾ cup Brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips

White Chocolate Fudge

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2½ cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 tub (7 oz.) marshmallow fluff


  1. Cream butter, brown sugar, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add milk and vanilla. Mix until combined.
  3. Add flour and mini chocolate chips. Mix well.
  4. Spread mixture on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Put in the freezer for 1 - 2 hours.
  5. After cookie dough has refrigerated, start fudge by lining a 9x9 pan with parchment paper.
  6. Place the white chocolate chips and marshmallow fluff in a big bowl. Set aside.
  7. In a sauce pan melt the sugar, heavy cream, salt and butter on medium heat until it starts to boil. Cook for 5 minutes.
  8. While fudge is cooking, take dough out and cut or crumble into approximately .5" x .5" chunks. Set aside.
  9. Pour the hot mixture into the bowl of chocolate chips/marshmallow fluff and mix until smooth and soft.
  10. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  11. Fold cookie dough cubes into the fudge, reserving a handful for later. Pour into the 9x9 pan.
  12. Sprinkle the leftover cookie dough chunks on top. Put in the fridge for 3-5 hours to let it set.
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