Plan With Me: September 2018

So this is my BIRTH MONTH!!! I’m playing it super chill this year, since summer was so packed full of events, and I did a lot last year for my birthday. I was planning on some events, but they’ve fallen through, sadly. Next year though. There’s next year, and next year will be a better year (hint: I’ll be worth a US quarter! I know I’m worth so much more than that, but it’s a cute joke!).

For this month, I have more content planned for you guys, and this will be more of a month for relaxing, taking long weekends, and enjoying alone time, and time with those I care about the most. Let’s get to planning, shall we?

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I usually start with my whiteboard, even though I should start with my Artist of Life Workbook review of the previous month. Wiping it clean allows me to have a clean slate of what will be in front of me, so I can just keep the past, well, the past. I set the month up numerically, then go into the review of the previous month, for what I didn’t finish.

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On the whiteboard, I note any plans, and for this month, it’s just my birthday and a live chat that I have in my Artist of Life Mastermind group, as you can see. Sometimes it’s as simple as that, and other times, it’s more complicated like June was.From there, I can easily see what is happening, and what days are where.

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Since it’s an easy glance, I go from there, into either my notebook, like this month, or into a digital note, usually on my phone, to plan out what blog posts I want to do that month. Then from the ideas, I set the date I want them to be posted on.

For this month, since I had things written out on paper, and I wrote down some notes, I took the themes of the blog posts, and put them on a sticky to-do note pad, and on the far side I write the tentative days I wanted to post them on.

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Past this, I don’t have much plans for the month, other than tentative plans of relaxing, and birthday dinner(s), depending if I feel like doing a solo date, and one with my dad, and if my guy and I go out.

I also planned out my meals for the month, since I’m doing a cleaning out of our cupboards this month. It’ll help me with some of the food days, plus clean out the stock we have, and I don’t feel bad for wasting it, or donating it.

I know there’s people who could use the help, and I’ve been there before (ironically, there’s a few canned goods that are left over from my dad’s raid of his pantry, since he’s doing a Keto meets low sodium diet).

I used to take a big monthly wall calendar to meal plan, but I noticed that I would forget what I was meal planning for the week, when I’d be shopping, and wonder why I would need one random ingredient, or something of the like, and dumb me would just not get it.

Now that I’ve gone digital, I can look at the meal plans on the go, and if I can’t recall why I need something, or if I need to tweak something, I can see what needs it, more on the fly. I love being frugal and prepared, and it’s so much easier. Plus, with trying to be more conscious of what I use, and why (really, the Konmari mentality, of if it truly brings me joy, and adds value to my life), I feel better by using what I already have.

What do you do to plan your month? Do you meal plan for the month, or by the week, if at all? I’d love to know your answers, truly!

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Talk Tuesday: Budgeting & Planning

I want to start off by doing a little gloat/self plugging. I now have a Facebook page for this blog! There, I’ll be asking what type of topics I should talk about, sharing my latest posts and of those I like of other bloggers, and brief updates that don’t need their whole post about. I would totally appreciate it if you went over there and hit that like button. Go here.

Now, grab yourself a glass of champagne or cup of coffee, open up your budget (or just a sheets document if you’re new).

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To be completely transparent, I’ve played around with how I budget, and I’m great at planning but can be lazy on the execution. I seriously need to work on my self discipline in those moments, and as I’m learning what I like to work with (and not like working with other things), I want to become better overall with budgeting.

Obviously, this isn’t just to share my perfect solution to budgeting, but it’s sharing what I’ve done and liked or not liked, and sharing my growth with ya’ll, and hopefully you can get something out of it for yourself!

So I’m going to be sharing my set up for September, since August is near over, and I’m kind of fond of September (it’s my birthday month).

My best advice to get motivated to budget towards the end of the month for the next (it’s okay if it’s the first week of the month you’re budgeting for too! I’ve done that a handful of times), is to watch budgeting videos on YouTube, or finding podcasts as well. Learning how to budget, and learning about all the ways you can budget is a great motivator for me. Since I’m still in the learning phase, I enjoy this, and taking what I like into the future, and discarding what doesn’t vibe with me.

I know a lot of people like Dave Ramsay’s method (book, workbook extended book), and if that works for you, awesome! I’ve never got into his method, but I know some of the basics, and it seems like a good, although broad, model. The basics of save a base $1,000, then get out of debt (and keeping that $1,000 in savings), then work on the emergency funds for 3-6-12 months of living, is good.

Living off of just cash though? You could do it, and get prepaid cards for internet transactions, but I don’t think that’s practical. Maybe during that time period, while you’re trying to fix your debts and save, while learning how to budget hard core. But long term, in my eyes, at least post the habit forming years, I don’t see it as a great option for the way society is heading.

To get you into the *lazy way* of learning how to budget, and what you should focus on, and what you may be doing wrong, I turn to The Financial Diet channel on YouTube. I’m not sponsored here (but….I wouldn’t mind future collabs…putting that good vibes out there).

They have shorter videos on the basics, and some kind of longer videos going more in depth on some stuff. If you have the attention span to watch people like Phillip DeFranco, you can do TFD. (For Youtube, I’m not sponsored, at least for now. I’ll let you know when I am! How could I not?!). Anyway, TFD even has a book! I should add it to my reading list.

If you want more of my favorites for budgeting, when it comes to channels, books, and digital or physical planners, let me know! I have so many things to offer and you’d be here all day trying to sort through what I’d offer. I’ll do a mini series even on it, so it’s more palatable!

So for September, this is what I have on my plate for bills:

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This month, I’m challanging myself to $75 a week on groceries. I did this earlier this year, in May, right before my trip to CA. Well, the like. It’s a take on Jordan Page’s Shelftember. Check out her Q&A on her YouTube channel. I’m going to tweak it a bit, as we don’t have the greatest stockpile in our cupboards and what room we have in our freezer and 2 small fridges.

This will help on dwindling on our stock, so that nothing expires, and I can stock up on the (hopeful) big haul in late November/early December that my store offers each year. Hopefully it’ll stay. Once that stops, I’ll have to change my strategy. I’ll easily share that process when it comes, for sure!

This will also help me in my planning for the winter months anyway, so I can plan what foods I want/what’s on sale/coupon for winter foods, for warmer hearty meals, and if the power goes out or if we’re stuck in from a winter storm.

I always leave the due date list open, until I know when things are due by. Sometimes I’ll approximate the date. Our electric water, and internet bills are due around the same time each month, so I put those approximate dates in until I get the bill due date. Things like groceries and laundry are a “at pay basis”.

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From budgeting, I make a template in a Docs page (use a Word Document too…I use Google for everything, so that first screenshot was a Google Sheets page, and this one is a Google Doc, with a table added, in a 7 across by 7 down, to cover all days of the month, plus a row to put Sunday through Saturday as a “header”).

I added in what days I was doing laundry (we don’t have laundry services on site, so I go and do laundry every other week, so sometimes I’m doing laundry three times a month. Those days I treat as a “fast food” day. We don’t eat out more than 3-4 times a month, 2-3 for laundry days, and once when we get gas in our car.

From there, I usually try to work in what we have on hand (which is usually very loosely, to be quite honest, hence this shelftember is a great challange), and see what I can come up with for meals. This month, I’m going to be diving deeper into using more of the canned goods we have, and using them up. and truly saving money as well as making what we have (since having canned goods and never using some doesn’t help any at all).

Meal planning is what I’ve played around with the most, from just making a list in my phone, to using a monthly wall calendar, to doing this style. Next year, I want to take a whiteboard and write the weekly down on it, and post it on the fridge where we have our current wall calendar.

I want to see if that’ll help any, so I don’t always have to weasel my way through my Google Drive to get to the monthly food outlook. For the record, yes I’m organized on that (folders within folders within folders type).

For “real” meal planning, I camp out in our kitchen/dining room and see what we have, and think of meals. Sometimes I turn to Pinterest and my Trello list of different foods (I have a whole board, sorted into quick meals, longer meals, crock pot meals, winter meals, among other lists). For this month, I’m getting back into seeing what cupons I can print off or have sent to my email, that will help drive down my costs. Here’s what I came up with for this month:

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This is most of my planning. From making the monthly budget, adding due dates, and making a meal plan, I just insert into a template of what needs paid each pay period, and write a grocery list for the upcoming week, so that come Monday morning, I can shop.

This is what I’ve found to work the best for me, at least so far. Some people mark down in their calendar when things are due, but I just see when the payday is, and see what’s due, then make payments set for that day.

How do you budget? If you’re new, and haven’t found a perfect/good planning outlook, what have you tried and liked so far?

Mercury Retrograde: Trying Out New Plans

Today started the second Mercury retrograde of 2018. This will last until the 19th of August for me, here on the east coast of the US. I don’t know what sparked the idea to plan out what I wanted to do, but it happened.

For the first retrograde this year, I took time off of social media, and created this blog. I officially launched it at the end of Lent, which was way after the end of retrograde, but whatever.

This one, like the last, I had some things I wanted to accomplish, as well as go back offline during retrograde. This time, I’m debating on going offline until the end of August, a little longer than the retrograde period, but since I did it last time similarly, I figure why not.

The only thing is, is to plan out the last near 10 days that I didn’t before the retrograde started. I could work on that during my 2 laundry days that I only have donation on.

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So the first thing I did, after brainstorming all I wanted to do, while I reflect during this retrograde, is organize it on a website/app called Trello. Visit the website here or download the app for Android or iOS.

I made a complete board for Mercury Retrograde, and I have a few boards to the right, that are for the next retrograde (November 17-December 6). I think I’ll at least keep this out of this little experiment.

Some of the cards have to-do lists, or checklists on them, which is the little check mark and 0/(insert number here). Since this is day one, there isn’t anything checked off. Once this goes live, I can check off my first thing under my blog checklist.

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Next, I made a chart, for how long Mercury would be in retrograde, and sorted out what I wanted to do for each day, from the trello lists. The more bite-sized you make it, and keep things super simple, you won’t get overwhelmed (a great practice for regular day life, but super great for where time seems to be even more out of your grasp, like a planet retrograde.).

From there, I’m taking one day at a time, because Mercury either flies past you, and you did nothing, or you take even smaller bites of what you need to do, and work on a day by day basis.

If you have projects due, or stuff like that, please DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. It’ll come to the due date a lot quicker than you think. Think of that stupid phrase on your side mirrors on your car. (haha, punny right?!)

Being a person who is ruled by Mercury (a Virgo), and learning about the planets, how they affect people overall, then especially over those that they rule over, it’s making more sense of how much I feel of certain things, and when. I am a task-doer and love to keep busy, but tend to bite off more than what I can chew, so things like this are so helpful, and truly needed.

Planning is more and more important to me, and that’s why I want to share my journey with whoever will listen, hopefully benefiting someone else’s journey. This may help more than just myself, even if I’m just playing around with ideas, and seeing what works and what doesn’t for myself. Hopefully something will stick with you as well, even if it’s through my trial and error, or even if I don’t care for it myself.

Plan With Me: 2 Week Trip to CA

So later today, I’m starting a 2 week trip to California. And it’s going to be a busy one at that as well! I know a lot of people can’t just take a 2 week trip, and until the last few years, I was in that same boat.

This trip started last fall, and I want to share how I planned this, and share how busy I’ll be! This 2 week trip will bring so much inspiration and content. It will also give me a break from the mundane life that I’ve been living the last 5 years since I’ve started working for the company that I do.

Plan With Me: June 2018

Disclaimer: I don’t have or use Happy Planner products (well yet…2019 will be that year.). My sister though…check her out on insta. If her cute spreads can’t win you over into even just planning and using planners/schedules, you might want to go get checked out by a professional (haha…but really, who are you?)

Over the last couple years, I’ve been finding my taste. It started in the middle of 2016 really. I had gotten a large calendar, but hadn’t used it. For whatever reason, I started using it as a food planning calendar. I did the same thing for 2017 and 2018. Now I do a spreadsheet first of the month, because it was going tacky, fast.

2017 started my Artist of Life Journey, and I also started tracking when bills were due in a desk calendar. 2018 for the most part has been the same,  but I’ve also added in making sure that I put in family and friends’ birthdays, so I could mail out cards, as well as making sure there was at least a holiday card as well, for everyone.

I also have a whiteboard calendar for my goals, and as of late, writing down when I want to bulk start my posts, as well as adding in when my posts are going live.

YES, I’m turning into one of those. Already? YES ALREADY! Next year I want to do even better. I want to go more all out, while still saving and managing things, so that babe and I can do what we want as well.

I’m highly considering changing up how I do things, when 2019 comes around. But that’s a half a year away, plus I still need to figure out how I want to do it differently, and gathering all of the supplies for it.

All of this is why planning is so important! I know it’s only June but think of next year. Even a card can make someone’s day, for their birthday, their religious holidays, and even just a “thinking of you” when they might be dealing with something, or just as a reminder that you still care.

At the end of last year, I made sure to get some spare holiday cards, as I’m personally not Christian, but know that Christmas is important for a lot of my loved ones. I also made sure that I counted all those I needed birthday cards for, and ordered a box of various birthday cards, for this year.

This is an easy way of planning, and to start writing a cute note inside each card, at least putting your address and a stamp on it, then when it’s about a week out from their birthday, making sure you have the correct mailing address, and all you have to do is mail it out, is so easy, and is a rather simple way of putting a smile on someone’s face.

Anyway, you probably wanted to see how I’m planning one of my busiest months of the year, didn’t you?

For my blog posts, I started this method last month, and have liked it so far. Especially since I’m traveling this month for 2 full weeks, this method is going to work out great, since I only need 3 days of being “online” on my laptop.

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What I did, was sketch out what days I wanted to post, which also meant planning out what I actually was posting. Usually I know what I’m posting on each day, but there’s 2 days that could be a conflict, since I am traveling, and am unsure of plans, let alone if I’ll have internet access to upload the review on the day I am planning. Hence what you see on the picture, is what it is.

I’ll be able to write things as they come along, then when I’m online on those three days, I just need to upload the posts, for scheduling.

My other big task is planning out meals, and budgeting. Both are so closely tied, that I’m just saying it at the same time. Now I’m not sharing my actual budget, as that’s just a tad too much.

If you know of a great budgeting planner/notebook let me know! I’ve just been using spreadsheets for each pay (I get paid every other week, right now), and as easy as it’s been, I’d love to try new ways to manage my budget!

Half of the month, for food planning is really sideways for me for June, as I have to plan for babe’s food while I’m gone, as well as my own, for the most part, plus the half of the month where we’re together.

I’m not inserting babe’s food on the calendar, as he can pick and choose what he wants each day, but I have a running list of what needs picked up before I leave, for him.

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Past that, it’s a very much “look at the planner”, as during my 2 week vacation, I have a 3 night stay in Yosemite with family, as well as a 4 night stay in Anaheim, and the rest is with my mom.

I won’t share those plans, as you’ll see my posts throughout the month on here, plus on my social medias (insta, FB, Twitter).

So what are some of your plans for June?

The Life of a Writer: Imaginary Life of an Author

Sadly, I only have one more Imaginary life after today, to share with you.

Today’s going to be about my dream of writing- and not just writing like I do on here. I’ve loved reading, and have slightly thought of writing my own book one day, but never took too much consideration to it. Over the past several months (not quite a year, but it feels like it sometimes), I’ve been more and more interested in what type of book I would write.

I have a few ideas listed in a note of mine in my cross-platform notes app/website that I use. I won’t share them as I don’t want to spoil anything!

In today’s world, you can go outside of the publishing business, and self publish. I didn’t know that until listening to Aileen’s podcast with Cara Alwill Leyba last summer. Check it out on Google Music,and iTunes. I somewhat looked into it after listening to the podcast, but didn’t do anything past that.

Awhile back, during one of our daddy daughter dates (somewhere in the mess of Easter, I think), my dad and I had talked about it as well, since he was looking into writing a book himself. He got farther into it than I did. He at least started writing the thing!

I was a bad daughter, as I never really read the insert he had written and sent me. I should have. I think I still have it in my email. If not, I’ll ask if he still has it sometime, maybe before I travel next month.

Let’s make an internet pact right here: if I can stick with this blog, regularly like I have, for the next year (until June 2019, let’s put it), I’ll start writing a book. I even put a reminder on my reminder app in my phone!

Part of what Aileen shared in her video that introduced this topic last summer, is that we should try to incorporate some of our ideal lives into our actual life. I’ve already jumped on the band wagon on my photography dreams and cooking.

So I ask again, what are some dream lives of yours? I’d like to hear them!

Take Care Tuesday: Planning May 2018

Well hello there, again! I don’t know if anyone is interested in how I plan out my month, but this is my “boring month” before things get hectic for summer, so I wanted to share a “basic month” (because this is most of the time for me, with small variations), before doing one like this for a summer month this year.

I’m wanting to share June’s, as she’ll be a busy AF month, and it’ll make my life seem that much more fun than it really is. I may share September’s as well, if these go well, viewer wise/if that’s what y’all want (because that’s my next good month).

So let’s get into it, shall we?

I have 3 different “levels” of planning, and one way that I always have as a template. The “template” is the Artist of Life workbook. My “levels” of planning, is budgeting (which includes a spreadsheet and marking down due dates on my planner. I won’t be sharing that here though.), then meal planning for at least 80% of the month, then to planning out how I’m spending my free time, on my whiteboard.

Most of what lands up on my whiteboard changes each month, due to what I’m doing socially (like this summer, June will look a lot different than May), and what might be going on that I need to focus on (like elections, major holidays where I want to do themed posts…check out my World Book Day post from last week, if you haven’t already).

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So this is the monthly spread that gets my month really started, outside of budgeting. My paychecks vary and come every 2 weeks, so I can’t just say permanently “oh I’ll spend $500 total on groceries for the next 3 weeks” and the like. I do stick to a pretty rigid spending template, and it works pretty well, as I know if I need to sacrifice something, I know where to do it.

May is very basic and is focused on trying to tidy up some of the apartment. I wanted to go full on out, but with recent health issues between babe and I, that’s on hold, and it’s more on just trying to tidy up, donate, and discard things.

Hopefully next year, I can finish off this project, and make it a 2 step process, where this year I tidy up, and next year I organize very well, like I wanted to this year.

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Of course I always have my whiteboard outlook. I’m trying some new things out lately, and so this looks so much different than usual for me!

The stars mean I have a blog post I want to have up that morning. I try to come up with the ideas early on in the week, and certain things like my book of the month review, and some series (like the 5 lives series I have going on right now read my first life here and the second one here. My next one will come out this Sunday) have set days that they’re on.

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Finally on to food, this was my initial set up for food for May. Then I was watching a Q&A video on YouTube, and during it, the mention of May “Shelftober”, where you clean out your cupboards, and really find savings in your grocery budget because you do a SEVERE meal prep/aim for a $25-$50/week grocery budget (depending on family size and location).

Since pencil sucks on calendars, and I’m more for aesthetics, May got scrapped on the calendar, and I took to a word Document, and made my new May food calendar. I’m sorry May in the calendar!

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I know, this is tiny print, and ignore what else is on my screen. But this is the new May, with like a day of April and a few days of June, for sanity reasons (mostly budgeting/shopping day reasons). It’s a lot of noodles and leftovers, to say the least. But hey, food is here, and it’s a perfect time for me to try this challenge, as I need to save all the money I can.

Plus, what good is it to have food sitting around, if you’re never going to touch it? Food does go bad ya know! (haha, funny, I know)

So this is my very basic “plan with me” look. My life is usually like this, so don’t forget that over the next while, as I share with you a few months of intense exploring and fun!