A Time for Reflection: A Year in Review

As we approach the new year it can be easy to start looking ahead to the possibilities that await. Instead of rushing into that, I want us to take this window of time before January 1st to look back on the previous year. I know for me that when I stop and take the time to look back I am often blown away by all the amazing things that have happened.

Here are some questions to help you, feel free to just answer these in your head or may I suggest writing them out, perhaps in a journal:

What have you accomplished?

What have you learned?

How have you grown?

What are you grateful for?

Did anything unexpected happen, if so what?

How have I changed?

How have I surprised myself?

In this past year our fur babies went from two to three!

Please do not feel that you have to answer all of these questions, just use them as a prompt to get you started. Keep in mind to look at the whole previous year when answering, you might be surprised at how far you have come!

Get to it my friends! If you have any questions that help you reflect please share them in the comments section!

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Frugal Gatherings: Maintaining Financial Goals & Strong Relationships

Hello Friends! Today’s post is part advice and part me looking for advice. I want to spend my money more intentionally and for us that means saving up for bigger purchases. A few things on our list include a computer, a car, and a tractor for our 57 acres! It can be super easy to go into debt to get all of the things you want but in our case that is not the goal. In order to accomplish financial goals it has meant reevaluating our spending. I know I am guilty of spending a decent chunk of change on meals out. Most of the time these are with other people because I love spending time with my friends and that usually means ending up at a coffee shop or a restaurant. Not that there is anything wrong with that, especially when it also means supporting small local businesses, but I know I am going to need to cut back in order to meet some of our bigger financial goals.

If I did not tell you that this tea was from a local shop, you would not know! Spending time with friends can still be fabulous without spending money!

Here are some ideas I have come up with on a little to zero dollar budget include:

Go on a Walk or Hike. Catch up while getting out and about! The great outdoors are wonderful for your body, mind, and soul. If you have a doggie, then this ends up as a double bonus because pup can get in their exercise too!

Library Adventure. Encourage one another to find a new book to explore! You can even give each other suggestions or just explore a section that interests both of you and hopefully come across some great reads! The best part about this is whatever books you find, you get to borrow for free!

Volunteer Together. There are all kinds of volunteer opportunities in my area and I hope there are in yours too. Even if it is something simple like playing with the animals at your local shelter. Depending on where you decide to volunteer it may not be as much quality time as you were hoping for but I promise it’s worth it!

Hang out at Home. This can look like so many things and is the most obvious! A meal, munchies, coffee or tea, or even craft time. There are plenty of things that we can do at home that inherently make them cheaper than paying for them.

Board Game Night. Okay I know this could fall under hanging out at home but I specifically wanted to point this out. It has become more and more common for us to use a form of disconnection to bond with others, I am looking at you TV.

My current conundrum is coming up with free ideas that occur beyond the walls of mine or my friend’s home. I am also struggling with ideas that are conducive to all the seasons, aka not just being stuck inside in the winter! This exercise has really highlighted for me the lack of places available to go that do not have a need or a temptation to purchase something.

Let’s brainstorm! What are some awesome ways that you have spent frugal time with friends?

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Jamaican Getaway: What Matters Most

You may or may not have noticed that I did not post last week. GASP! This was not due to the world ending but rather because I was happily attending one of my closest friend’s weddings. Which just happened to be at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica! I promise I am back, well rested, and have had a lot of valuable reflection time.

Jamaican Sunset During the Wedding Reception

Making Big Expensive Decisions

As my priorities have changed in my life, going to this wedding was a big decision. On one hand it is extremely expensive and we have a lot of long-term financial goals that this does not exactly align with. On another hand we never actually went on a honeymoon and have not been on a vacation longer than a weekend getaway. When faced with decisions like these in my life these days I try to look at them through a different lens. Will I look back in five or ten years and say thank goodness I spent all of my money on useless material possessions I do not even remember now or thank goodness I went to Jamaica with my friends? Given that perspective we decided to save and that this trip was 100% what we needed.  So next time you find yourself with a big expensive decision to make, try putting it into a different perspective to decide if it is worth it for you or not.

The Fabulous Male Peacock at the Resort

I Left My Phone At Home

Yes, you read that correctly. I could have easily taken it with me. I could have used it in airplane mode and connected to the resort’s Wi-Fi. It would have been simple enough to use the excuse “but it doubles as a camera” and yet at home it stayed. And you know what? It felt GREAT! Okay, so technically my husband still had his phone with him just in case but I think we would have been able to survive without it. There were no notifications, no emails, nothing! Just real, distraction free conversations with all of the people that also came to the wedding. Plus I happen to have a real camera so I still got to take some pictures! This was a weeklong adventure without my phone and that may seem like a bit much but I wholeheartedly encourage you to try to find more times when you can leave your phone at home or in your car and really be present in the moment. I assure you, it is worth it!

Look Closely! Lots of little fish and even a stingray!

But Why No Blog Post

Don’t get me wrong this trip did not come as a surprise. We saved, slowly paid for it over time, and knew about it months in advance. I could have written a post ahead of my departure and scheduled it for Wednesday. I also could have taken my computer along for the trip and written a post while on vacation. Yet I did neither of these things. Part of my decision to not post was a self-experiment. Instead of me feeling like I broke a commitment to myself, this was part of my learning experience. I can miss a post and it will be okay. Missing a post is not me giving up but rather me taking a break and coming right back to it! The other part of my decision to not post was also to make a point. Sometimes we need to disconnect to find true connection. Instead of worrying about writing an extra post or trying to write one on vacation I decided to stay 100% connected to my experience in Jamaica. It is easy to get caught up with our to-do lists and feel like if we don’t do it all, all the time then we have somehow failed. I am here to tell you that when we do what really matters most of the time, then we are already doing exactly what we need to be doing. This blog matters to me and so does practicing self-care while deeply connecting to friends. I may not be able to do everything at once but I can still do them, even if sometimes that means giving myself permission to take a small break.

The sky on our last night, beautiful!

Chime in friends! How do you make big expensive decisions? When have you left your phone at home? What ways have you tested yourself in your journey and what matters most at the end of the day?

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