More Followers Monday #1 – Join Up!

I said I was going to start this two weeks ago and missed both the last Mondays.  Sad, but true.  But, here I am posting just before Monday ends.  But, the linkup will be open all week and I hope that some of you will join up this first week.  I’m sure it will be pretty small, but if we all visit and follow the blogs that Linkup and if you share about this linkup on your blog, we can build up our followers slowly but surely!

I think it would be great if you could link to a page that lets the readers know how you would like them to follow you (if you have a preference).  So, link to your Instagram if you’re building your following there or to your Facebook if you need followers there, etc.  Blogs are always welcome, but feel free to link up to other areas if that is where you need More Followers!  In case you missed my original post back a couple of weeks ago, here it is and the linky is at the bottom!

I’ve decided to start a “more” themed post on Mondays in 2017 – More Follower Mondays at More at Forty!  My hope is that we can help each other by generating more followers for our blogs and social media.  I am doing it as a Linkup so we can actually see a blog post that you’d like to drive traffic to, but you can also link to a social media account if that is where you need followers.  I’m new to this Linkup thing so be patient with me, but I think I have it figured out.  My plan is to make the first linkup available on Monday, January 2 and to have one each Monday.  Some Mondays, I may add a theme, but to start, we’re just going with an open-ended invitation to linkup and get more followers!

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Be More: Financial – Plugging up money leaks

I’m back with another in the Be More series of posts.  Today, I want to discuss the idea of “money leaks,” although I think in our case, the term should be money floods.  I think of money leaks as those places where you don’t really think about how much money you’re spending until you sit down to look at the totals.  Then, you’re shocked at just how much money is going out of your pockets and into someone else’s.  In 2017, I want to make plugging up these money leaks a priority in my life.  So, I thought I would identify my top five money leaks and then report to you on how my plumbing project is going in 2017.

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  1.  Eating out.  This is the real flood threat for our family.  We eat out constantly.  When my husband works a full day, he sometimes eats breakfast ($7.50) and lunch ($12-13) out.  That is basically two of his eight hours of pay gone.  Such a waste.  But, it isn’t just him.  I often get fed up with cooking and cleaning the kitchen and will voluntarily go out instead.  With the three of us, that is often between $30 and $40 a pop.  Today, we went to lunch and although we ate relatively cheap, my husband had two beers and it brought the tab up to a hefty $45!  We had a $25 gift card to the restaurant, but that was still $20 even with the gift card.  I’m tired of this money flowing out of my wallet into the pockets of others when we often don’t enjoy the food or the experience all that much. When I was younger, eating out was a weekly event.  And I do mean event.  We went out almost every Friday (when my dad got paid) and it was seen as a big deal.  When my dad was off work, we did NOT eat out.  And I don’t remember ever going out for lunch or breakfast much.  I want to make eating out something that is an experience, not something done out of desperation.
  2. Food waste.  Seriously.  This is another flood threat in our house.  I throw out so much food.  It makes me feel a little ill and very guilty.  I just can’t figure out how to buy efficiently.  I buy too much of some things.  Other things I buy planning to use them and they don’t get used because we eat out instead (see #1).  Still other things, I think I’m going to use, so I don’t put in the freezer and they go bad.  I want to be a meal planner and in fact, I’ve signed up for Plan to Eat‘s Make Ahead Meal Challenge for January.  I am a horrible meal planner.  But, I am bound and determined to make it work in the new year so we will eat at home and save money.  If you’d like to join me at Plan to Eat, they are having a 30 day free trial for new members right now and it gives you access to all their recipes for the challenge.  You can look me up as a friend and we can share recipes!  I’m under 2ndheartmom and I focus on cheap and easy food stuffs!
  3. Cell phones.  This is an area I really struggle.  I feel like I NEED to have a smartphone with data plans, etc.  Because I travel so much for work and I’m constantly going places, I feel like I need to have one to access email, etc.  But, obviously, NEED is a strong word for that.  I could live without a smartphone with a data plan.  I definitely did not need to have an iPhone 6s that is costing me an exorbitant amount of money each month.  I’m going to look into Freedom Pop in 2017.  I need to figure out if I can get out of my current contract, how much that will cost and what the trade-off will be.  But, I have a feeling that getting a limited plan would really save me quite a bit.  We spend over $200 a month for two phones.  That, my friends, is ridiculous.  By the end of the year, we’re spending $2500 just to have a device that 15 years ago, we survived without just fine.  Plus, I feel like my phone sucks up a lot of my time and attention that I could be spending on other more meaningful things.
  4. Stupid Taxes.  That’s a Dave Ramsey phrase, but it totally fits these things.  I pay a lot of late fees, overdraft fees, parking tickets, and other such nonsense each year.  I am afraid of adding it all up as it would easily be thousands of dollars.  I’m too smart to be paying so much in stupid tax.  I need to get my sh*% together and start doing thing the right way: on time and paid in full.
  5. Coffee and things at coffee shops.  It is a close tie between this and books, but I think this wins out.  I love me some Starbucks.  I have a Gold Card.  I keep track of stars.  I buy food there.  My daughter likes to get snacks there.  Sometimes I even buy bagged coffee there (pretty rare, but I do).  I get a latte almost every day I work at some point during the day.  That is three or four lattes a week at $4.25 a pop.  That is somewhere around $15 a week.  Now, there are weeks where I don’t get that much, but there are also weeks where I get much more than that.  So, on average, $10-15 a week is no exaggeration.  And the funny thing is, I make coffee at home almost every day as well.  But, I often want something later in the day or something stronger or something more fun.  So, I go to Starbucks.  Next year, I want to start drinking the coffee I make at home and nothing else UNLESS I have a gift card balance I can use.  And even then, I would like to make it only once a week (because gift card balances don’t usually go real far).  I also want to find cheaper drinks there (see this Pin related to this idea – I need to study up).  Finally, I will not buy food there (because it is outrageously expensive).

So, there you have it.  My five major money leaks that are threatening a flood.  I’m hoping that I can do some plumbing work and get those leaks fixed in 2017.  What about you?  What are your major money leaks?

Be More Organized: I Make Piles

First off, I would like to warn you, do not do a Google search for “I make piles” without some additional term like “organizing” or “cleaning”.  Turns out, pile is another name for hemorrhoids.  Who knew?  But, now we all do.

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So, I’ll admit it.  I make piles.  Everywhere I go.  I have piles on my dining room table, piles on my bar area, piles in my garage and piles in my office at work.  My husband also makes piles.  My daughter is quickly learning to do the same.  In some ways, it feels like a little bit of organizing.  After all, stuff isn’t spread out all over the place.  It is in a nice, neat pile.  Well, okay, it is in a pile (not always so nice or neat).  But, at least it is in one place.  Sometimes I even put my piles in a basket.  Doesn’t that look nice?  The problem is, the piles seem to multiply.  Piles begat piles.  I ended up getting rid of our living room coffee table because it was just a magnet for piles.  We now have limited space to put our drinks or snacks, as I talked about in this earlier post.  But, the question I have to ask is, does that outweigh the fact that I don’t have as many piles in the living room now?  It is a difficult question to answer.  The problem is that I can’t get rid of every flat surface in our home, so at some point, I have to figure out how to control the piling.  Here are my top three ideas for getting out of the piling habit:

  1. Act immediately and make it quick.  We are a family of procrastinators as well as pilers.  When asked to do something, we will often say, “I’ll do it in just a second.” or “As soon as I finish this…”  The problem is that we often forget by the time we finish what we are doing or get the motivation to actually get up and do the task.  I often come in with mail and instead of just going through it right then and there and throwing 90% of it in recycling where it belongs, I will throw it on our dining room table.  There it sits.  Weeks later, it still sits.  And there are a number of piles around it and on top of it.  I have paid late fees because of this habit.  And it takes only a minute or two to actually go through it and figure out what needs action, what needs recycling.  I will also pile dirty dishes in the sink throughout the day.  It would take literally seconds to rinse the dish(es) and put it in the dishwasher, but instead, I choose to pile it.  At the end of the day, I have a daunting pile of dishes with crusted on food or sticky residue and it takes me a lot longer to get them rinsed and loaded.  If I were to just act immediately on something that needs to be done and then make it as quick as I possibly can (avoiding perfectionism, which sometimes gets in my way), I would have things DONE at the end of the day rather than piled up.
  2. Purge and purge more.  We are also a family with a lot of stuff.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say we are hoarders, but I have a whole walk-in closet full of scrapbooking stuff, my husband has a garage half full of competitive shooting and fishing supplies, my daughter has the other half of the garage full of books and toys.  We have many of those same things in the house.  We all have a lot of clothes.  I have a lot of pans and dishes and such.  I tend to have a lot of papers to grade for my classes (although I’ve tried to go as electronic as I can).  We have photos and trinkets and blankets and lots of food stuff.  When there is this much stuff, it can seem challenging to find a place for everything and put everything in its place.  I realize this.  I have been decluttering.  But, what I really need to do is purge and purge more.  So, what’s the difference between decluttering and purging?  Well, to me, decluttering is getting rid of stuff you don’t want anymore.  Stuff that isn’t useful or attractive.  And trust me, we had a lot of that type of stuff.  But, purging means getting rid of stuff even if you still want it, just to lower the volume of stuff that you have floating around your house.  That is what I need to do.  Because with a family like this, if we have a lot of stuff, we’re going to have a lot of piles.  I need to shift my perspective towards purging stuff that is NOT NEEDED.  Not just the stuff that is not wanted, but stuff that is not necessary to our day-to-day or month-to-month lives.  My daughter learned all about wants and needs in first grade last year and I need to live like a first grader in 2017.
  3. Embrace space.  As a communication professional, I often focus on the value of silence in all its awkward glory.  Silence creates space for people to think and sometimes for people to talk who otherwise would not get heard.  I need to think of surfaces like silence.  It will feel awkward at first.  It will draw our eye and we may feel the desire to make a pile since it isn’t being used for other things.  But, instead, we need to view it as a space to give us room to think and breathe.  We need to view it as a space to let things be noticed that otherwise would be lost in the chaos of piles.  A family photo.  A meaningful trinket with an important memory tied to it.  So much we own does not hold any of that value or meaning.  They are taking up valuable space and silencing what is really valuable and meaningful.

So, that’s it.  In 2017, I am going to focus on purging.  I used to do the Flylady system and some things have stuck with me despite me not really using her program anymore.  I still do things in 15 minute increments much of the time.  I think I’m going to go back to her 27 fling boogie each day.  Purging 27 things each and every day in 2017 would yield 9855 less things in our house.  Even if I take a week off here and there it will still make a significant difference in the volume of stuff in my home.

Here is to a 2017 with less piles and more smiles!

Be More…active – 5 things I am going to DO in 2017

I’ve decided to embrace this blog’s title more actively.  I will be doing a series of blog posts in 2017 that focus on the idea of being more of something.  The first focus is going to be getting more active.  I’ve realized just how totally sedentary I am as a human being.  And my daughter is now also becoming sedentary.  And I want her transplanted heart to last as long as it can, which means keeping it and her healthy.  We are a tech family, so getting off the couch and out from behind the screen is a bit of a struggle.  I often have work as an excuse.  And in all fairness, I do have a load of grading to do, but I don’t have to be online to do all of it.  I also have this blog, but I don’t spend that much time on it each day that I need to sit on the couch, staring at a screen for hours and hours.

So, how am I going to get more active?  I’m thinking broadly here.  So, it isn’t just “getting more exercise”.  That is so generic and not very helpful from past experience.  So, I’m focused more on getting off the couch and DOing things.  I’ve picked five things I want to do each and every day:

  1. Walk the dogs.  They are bored and overweight and need some good exercise.  I often use the weather as an excuse, but really, unless it is raining torrentially, there really is no reason not to get them out and walk them around the block.  They love walks and are so happy when they get one, even if it is short.  But, I would like to take them on longer walks as well.  But, just walking them every single day, even short ones, would be a step up.
  2. Cook meals in my kitchen.  We eat out way, way, way too much.  And often it is simply because I’m too lazy to get up and cook something in the kitchen and clean up afterward (see number three).  If I did cook meals in my own kitchen each day, we would be healthier, save money and also eat tastier food.  Most of the time, when I do cook, everyone likes what I make.  But, I find it a struggle and I think I’ve identified for so long as a “non-cook” that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  3. Do basic clean up in the house each day.  I’ve been pretty good about this lately.  But, when school hits and I’m gone for hours at a time and I have grading to do and other prep, I often will just forget about the basic daily cleaning.  I love this relatively simple list of daily chores to get done.  I need to ensure that the basics get done daily so I feel better about the house and don’t get bogged down in clutter and mess.  I function much better all around when my house is at least tidy.
  4. Actively play with my daughter.  This is a biggy.  I don’t do nearly enough with her on a daily basis and she spends way too much time behind a screen.  I’ve noticed that she is not as willing to sit and work on a craft or a puzzle or a coloring project for as long as she used to be.  She is still pretty good about reading for a time each day, but I want her to be creative and well-rounded.  I want her to color and craft and build legos and play outside and do…well, MORE!  So, each day, I will take at least a few minutes – 10-15 if that is all I can fit – and I will play with her.  A game.  Outside.  Buidling things.  Coloring.  Each and every day.
  5. Get active in my community.  Each and every time I see a homeless person in our city, I think that I should do more.  When I see commercials about kids and families who are dealing with food insecurity, I think I should do more.  When I see groups in our community doing good (beyond good – in some cases amazing) things, I think I should do more.  Yet, here I sit.  I could go to the homeless shelter and volunteer for mealtimes.  I could figure out how to volunteer at my food bank.  I could give blood.  There are so many simple things I could get involved in, but I sit on my couch and make excuses instead.  I don’t need to do something each and every day, but I should be able to.  Even if it is just having some homeless gift bags in my car to hand out with simple items or some gift cards for McDonalds or something so they can get a meal.  There are easy things to do.

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So, there you have it.  My five things to be more active in 2017.  I believe that humans are controlled by the Laws of Motion.  And my body is at rest when not actually doing my job.  I need an outside force to nudge me along and I’m hoping this blog will do it.  I will be trying to check in on my various “be more” lists in the new year, so look for that!  I think having a simple list – Walk dogs, Cook meals, Clean up, Play and Community will make it easier for me to check things off each day.  In fact, I’m going to go and write the list in my planner so I don’t forget!