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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Don't Give Up on Your Goals!

We are three weeks into the New Year and people are already getting tired of going to the gym, counting calories, budgeting, sticking to a routine, or any number of resolution related activities.


I get really tired, at times, of being vigilant with my eating and exercise. But then I remind myself of the results I obtained by not giving up. I lost 60 pounds! It didn't happen in one day. It happened as a result of many days of good decisions and efforts and by not beating myself up for a slip here and there.

Are you feeling frustrated with your weight loss/health improvement plan? Do you want to quit because it is too difficult? Perhaps reading the posts, Low-Cost or No-Cost Weight Loss Resources That Worked for MeNew Year, New You?  will encourage you. I have maintained this weight loss for 4 1/2 years now by sticking with my eating and exercising plans.

Just last night I had to remind myself that I wasn't really hungry at 11:00 p.m. so I made myself a cup of herbal tea instead of eating something. I sat down with the tea and an interesting book and relaxed. I got sleepy after about ten minutes and went to sleep. I should actually have gone to bed earlier because staying up too late is a prime cause of overeating. But, if I do stay up too late, I have a strategy to keep me on track.

Having this book as a
resource was like having
a personal coach at my
Having a set of plans in place is the most important piece to achieving goals, in my opinion, because when faced with a difficulty, you already have the key to overcoming it. A 20/20 show I watched a few years ago stated that the reason people survive disasters such as plane crashes or fires in large public places is due to the information they acquired prior to the tragic event. In the case of a plane crash, survivors are usually those people who know how many rows they are from an exit and who pay attention to the safety briefing.

In meeting goals, knowing what some of the pitfalls that can happen and how you will deal with them in advance is as useful as knowing how many rows you are from the exit in a plane. This information will help you to survive.

I am currently working on improving the way I manage my income and outgo. It's two steps forward and one step back at times, but I am not giving up. I have already seen improvements because I am not quitting. This month I am going to pay my property tax in the month it is due and in full! I have not been successful at doing that in about eleven years due to a low income and poor management of that income in the past. I set myself some financial goals and I am seeing them come to fruition because I kept going instead of throwing in the towel.
I am planning to add quite a few of these to my bank account
this year! How are your financial goals doing? 

You owe it to yourself to keep going because you are worth it! You are deserving of the time and effort required to reach your goals.

If your family isn't supporting you in your goals, find some like-minded people who are also trying to achieve similar results. We will not change if we do not surround ourselves with positive, uplifting influences.

If you can't find people to be with, look for podcasts, Facebook groups, online classes, books, videos, television shows, Pinterest pages, or Twitter feeds on the area of your goal to inspire and educate you.

No excuses in 2014 is my motto! What is yours? What are your goals for 2014 and how will you achieve them? Let's help each other by continuing this conversation below in the comments section!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Better Living Through Conservation of Funds or Thrift Store Success!

Son (aka Sawyer) to mother, "I need some new clothes and shoes!"

Mother (aka me), "I do not have that much money for clothes...let's go see what the thrift store might have."

Son, "Oh, they never have anything good."

Off we went to my favorite thrift store. When we arrived, I asked the clerk what the daily special was and nearly fell over when she said it was 50% off EVERYTHING! I was excited and sad at the same time because there were only twenty minutes left before the store closed. We would have arrived earlier but my son was balking about going! The thrift store is a gold mine people! Shopping there allows you to live BIG on a little money. Read my previous post, Tighten Your Living, Not Your Spending for more on this school of thought.

We went over to men's shoes but didn't find anything that was what my son wanted. A check of men's belts also proved disappointing, but when we went to the pants rack we found a nice pair of GAP navy blue pin-striped slacks in his size. They were priced at $5.00 but due to the sale we only paid $2.50.
The pants are quite nice AND are
machine washable! Deals aren't deals if
dry cleaning is involved, IMO. 

Son (aka Sawyer) likes dress
clothes but is a poor college
student with poor parents. 

He also found three Van Heusen fitted dress shirts that were priced at $4.50 but thanks to 50% off, we paid $2.25 each. The shirts retail new for $25.00 each and these shirts were in excellent condition.
Two Van Heusen fitted white shirts
for under $5.00!

I also found some wonderful items that will be Christmas gifts for some of my family members. A lovely set of brand new Norman Rockwell playing cards in a gift tin that cost $1.00 for my father-in-law who plays cards everyday. A really cute bobble head figure for someone whom I can't name because they may be reading this blog but it was only $1.00! Another item I purchased was a very nice, new in box spa item for $1.50 that will make another family member quite happy at Christmas.

Some folks think that thrift store equals old, broken, out-of-date, junky, stinky, and so on. To me, thrift store equals fiscal responsibility, resourcefulness, dollar stretching, and ingenuity.

If I had gotten the three shirts and slacks new for my son, I would have spent around $100.00! Instead, I spent $9.00. I can't even sew clothes for those prices. Now, I don't often shop retail, but on this shopping day, Sawyer and I went to Ross because he also needed a belt and shoes. We saw the exact same Van Heusen shirts at Ross for $14.99 and the price tag noted that retail for the shirt was $25.00 so I know for certain that I could have spent $75.00 to buy those shirts brand new elsewhere.

As it is, because I opt to check thrift stores first, I didn't spend $91.00 that I could have if I had not checked the thrift store. Today, I took that $91.00 and spent it to pay my water bill, my trash collection bill, and a payment on a medical bill that I am chipping away at bit by bit.

By shopping creatively, I don't have to resort to using credit cards to pay for necessities or to seek out payday loans to cover my needs.

So, do you shop the thrift store? How do you save in one area to free up funds for another?
Sound off in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Year, New You?

Unless you have been under a rock, you have noticed that a few moments after 2014 began, the barrage of weight loss commercials for diets, diet aids, gyms, and the like took over the air waves.

We were encouraged to eat tons of treats during the holidays; every women's magazine and every morning news shows rushed to share recipes for all sorts of foods. Then, one minute into 2014, they pull the rug out from under the partiers and start hitting them in the stomach and wallet.

Well, my friends, if you over-indulged during the holiday season or the past 20 years, don't go crazy and do something drastic to fix your problem. Be kind to yourself and formulate a plan.

I suggest that you begin with walking...consistently. When I decided I wanted to lose weight and reclaim myself in February 2009 , I started walking at a gym. At first, I just walked a mile and I walked it kind of slowly. But I did it and I did it three times a week. I didn't change my eating at first. So, I didn't lose weight at first either. But that was okay, because I was working on building a habit.

After a few weeks, I decided that I needed to kick it up a notch, so I tried running. I nearly keeled over after just 30 seconds of running. Seriously. No, really! It was embarrassing to be that out of shape.

The next day, I walked a mile, and ran for 30 seconds of that time. I was still about to keel over but each day when I went to the gym, I made sure to run for a bit of the time I was on the treadmill. I upped my running by 30 second increments and I also began to alternate walking with running (this is called doing intervals and it burns lots of calories). Eventually (it didn't take all that long) I could run a 5K on the treadmill in about 45 minutes. I know that isn't super fast but I am very, very short and I was running as fast as my little legs could do.

Within two months of beginning to work out, I had lost 15 pounds. By late 2009 I had lost 40 pounds using the principles in Bob Greene's book, Total Body Makeover, and doing interval training.

I have lost about 60 pounds altogether since that cold February day when I nervously stepped into a gym with a friend and her mother. I didn't buy a costly program and I didn't have a lot of support at home. I did pray and ask God to help me to change. If I wanted to eat something I knew would not help me in my goals, I would ask God to help me not to eat it. I would tell myself that I could that food the next day if I wanted to eat it.

I am not going to lie to you and say it was easy because it wasn't. It was a lot more emotional than I had expected. I realized that a lot of my over-eating had its roots in not dealing with my feelings and emotions. If I was annoyed with someone, instead of getting the problem resolved, I would just go to the refrigerator.

As I started to realize what I had been doing, I began to change the way I dealt with anger, disappointment, loneliness, and other emotions and emotionally charged situations. During the time I was working on my weight loss and myself, my mother got very sick with terminal cancer, went into hospice, and died. I was very vulnerable at this time to fall backwards on my weight loss journey, but I leaned heavily on God, threw myself into my work, and kept going.

If you want a new you this new year, you can do it! You just need to decide that you are worth all the work you will have to do physically, emotionally, and spiritually to see the change you want. If I did it and at the age of 45, anyone can do it!

Let me hear about you and your plans. I want to help. And you can help me to reach my goal of losing 10 more pounds. Let's succeed together!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tighten Your Spending, Not Your Living

People who know me and later find out that we live on a very low income are amazed to discover this information. Some think that given our low income, we get some kind of government assistance such as unemployment or food stamps to make it. However, that is not the case for our family. Our philosophy is that we will trust God to provide what we need, and we will do the very best with can with the resources available to us.

Some of the resources we have are ourselves and our abilities. I love to learn new skills and I love to shop for bargains everywhere I go. Recently, our living room furniture's well loved look started to get to me. I decided to go to the thrift store to see if I could find something to use to freshen up the look of the couch and two side chairs. I don't have any funds for replacing the furniture at this time.

I had a coupon in my possession for the thrift store that would allow me to save $5.00 off a purchase of $15.00 or more. I went looking for a large bedspread to use as a couch cover, a nice piece of fabric to use to recover the living room chairs, and a fitted sheet to use to cover the seat cushions on the couch.

My living room is decorated in the colors mauve, forest green, cranberry, and white. I found a large mauve bedspread, a forest green queen-size fitted sheet, and a drapery panel in forest green that has a nice pattern in it. I also found a new Christmas tablecloth at the same time that has mauve colored poinsettias on a cranberry colored background. I spent around $17.00 for these items. Let me show you the before and after on the chairs.

I can't believe I let the chairs
look like this as long as I did!
 We had originally bought these chairs as part of a lot of twenty chairs for $40.00 at an auction. So, the chairs cost $2.00 each and we have had them for around seven years. This is the third time I have recovered these chairs. Each time, I look for inexpensive fabric at a thrift store. The drapery panel I bought cost $2.99, so I recovered each chair for $1.50 plus the cost of the staples in the staple gun, and my time to recover the chairs. I spent around 1 1/2 hours removing the old fabric and putting on the new fabric. I kept the contrasting fabric from the previous recovering job because I liked that look but I still have enough fabric to change it if I decide to do so later.
All freshened up for the new year!

We have to keep a tight grip on our spending so that we have as much of our income available as possible to pay the non-negotiable bills such as the house payment or electric bill. However, tightening up our spending doesn't mean we don't enjoy our lives. We do everything everyone else does; we just do it differently.

Case in point- I have been wanting a pair of warm, snuggly boots for quite a while, but I was unwilling to spend the money that would be required to buy such boots at a retail store. Every time I went into my favorite thrift store I made sure to look at the boots they had in stock. A week ago, I finally found exactly what I wanted in my size. The boots were only $4.00! The only issue with them that I had to resolve was to buy new laces. I bought an inexpensive pair for $1.97 because if I had bought the suede laces, I would have spent as much for them as I did on my boots. I may upgrade to the suede laces but for now I am quite happy with my boots and laces.
I told my husband that these boots have changed my life. I get
very cold in the winter and once my feet are cold, I can't get warm
for a long time. These boots keep my feet nice and toasty. I can
stay outside longer and more comfortably. I am one happy gal! 
Would it have been easier to go to the store and buy a pair of boots when I needed them? Maybe for some people it would have. For me and my family, when we have a need we know we have to be a bit patient to get that need filled. Would it have been easier to get new chairs rather than to find the fabric and make the time to recover the chairs? Again, for some people that answer would be yes. 

In our family, due to our restrictions, we have developed many useful abilities and attitudes. We are generally content with what we have, we have learned to do many things so that we can live within our means (cooking, baking, making simple repairs, doing simple maintenance around the house), we are grateful and appreciative of whatever we receive, and we help each other as much as we can. 

My younger daughter and her boyfriend recently brought us a microwave and coffee maker that they did not need. A roommate had left the microwave and they had gotten a Keurig so they didn't need a full size coffee maker any longer. 

I cleaned the microwave and improvised a foot to replace the two back feet that were missing. We had been without a microwave for nearly a year but I didn't want to spend money on a cheap model microwave and then have to spend again when I finally had the funds to get the over the stove model I really want, so I just did without. My daughter knew we didn't have one and rather than selling her extra one, she blessed us with it. My coffee maker had also died and again, I want a certain model of coffee maker so rather than buy a cheap one I decided to learn to make coffee without a coffee maker until I could get what I want. Here are a couple sites that I found helpful:

If it had bothered me to be without these items, I would likely have gone to the thrift store to get them while saving for the nicer ones I ultimately want. I find that the thrift store allows me to have just about anything I need or want and still stay within my budget. 

Letting others know of items you need is also a useful way to tighten your spending but still get what you need. Lots of people have no longer needed items cluttering up their homes and would be happy to pass them on to someone who can make good use of these household goods or clothes. I belong to my local Freecycle ( and have gotten lots of needed items for free as well as decluttering my home by passing on no longer needed things to others who need them.

Anyway, I hope you are getting the idea that there are a lot of ways to manage when money is tight and still enjoy your life. There will be more posted on this topic throughout the year and I hope to hear from you so I can learn more!