money saving tips.

“She shops around for the best yarns and cottons…” vs. 13a  (The Message version)

I moved out of my parents house a little over 3 years ago to come to SIUC for school. Needless to say, I have learned a lot over those years about saving money through my experiences of not using my money as wisely as I should have. These are just some practical tips I have learned about being a good steward of the money that really isn’t ours in the first place. Hope these tips are reasonable and helpful:

1. Bring your own lunch. Get creative. Make it work. You don’t have to eat out every day.

2. Don’t get a hair cut one week and three weeks later get your hair dyed. It’s way more money like that. Do it as a package deal, you can save up to 15-20 dollars.

3.  Make eating out a special occasion: a date, time with friends, etc..don’t just eat out when you feel like it.

4. Do your grocery shopping at Aldi’s. Obviously, they don’t always have everything, but if you make a list and go there first then go to Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc..afterward to get the rest of your items, you can save a lot of money. On average, a grocery bill that would have cost $45 from Kroger’s, costs $30 at Aldi’s.

5. Menu planning. Every week I look at the food I have and food I need and plan every meal (even snacks). That way I use the groceries sitting in my pantry and only buy groceries I will actually eat. (Of course, there’s a little wiggle room…buy a few extra things sometimes so you don’t have to always stick to your menu perfectly if you are feeling like eating something different).

6. If you really have been thinking, “I really want a new pair of jeans,” wait 1 week. Think about it. More than likely, after that week you will either talk yourself out of it or realize you really do have a need for jeans and buy them. Buying on impulse is often not good.

7. If you are planning on going to the mall, google coupons for the stores you are going to. Type in something like: “Kohl’s printable coupons.” You can often find some. OR get on the retail store’s facebook, and sometimes they have deals on there too.

8. Carpool. Helps the environment and your pocketbook.

9. If you are feeling like decorating your home, go to the GoodWill. If you look hard enough, you can almost always find some neat candle or something that will fulfill your decorating desires.

10. Be happy with what you have. Most of the things we want to buy in life we don’t really need. Now that doesn’t mean we can’t ever buy ourselves anything. However, if you make it a special occasion to buy something for  yourself you really like then, it’s much more exciting.

11. Order water whenever you go out to eat. A soda at some places can cost 2 dollars and up! While that may not seem like a lot of money, it adds up quickly. (get a soda or tea every once and a while, you’ll appreciate it more).

12. Save change. It works. It’s always really exciting whenever you go to cash it in.

13. Whenever you eat out, split meals with someone. You can even order an appetizer and one meal to split and it’s often cheaper than two full meals.

14. Regularly read blogs that give good saving money tips. Here are some options:

A Blossoming Life- this is my friend Amy’s blog. She is a newlywed who is really crafty and good at making homemade stuff, which saves you tons of money!

Money Saving Mom–  my friend Leslie introduced me to this blog. It’s one of the best I’ve seen. (It’s not just for moms!)

Money Saving Secrets– this is a blog I have recently discovered. Right now it has a good post for college students about saving money on textbooks..check it out!

WiseBread– this blog use to be the Frugal Duchess and she recently changed it to WiseBread. It’s all about using wisdom to living a frugal life.

This is a learning process for me, just like everyone else. So tell me: What are some of your money saving tips?

days of thanks.

I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving many times this weekend. I attended three different meals between both of our families and got to catch up with some friends from back home. Gee, it was some good days of thanks.

On Wednesday, Kaleb and I were able to have two Thanksgiving feasts. One at his Grandma Ollie’s home and another at his Mom’s newly built home.

His Mom always goes above and beyond to make every detail of the dinner to the presentation amazing. She decorated the table with beautiful fresh flowers and hand-picked gourds. Fall time decorations to the max.

I like her style. I can learn a lot from how much time, effort, and love she puts into family meals.

Friday night we were able to have one of the most exciting friend reunions I’ve had in a long time. I LOVE these people! We ate at Tequila’s, of course.

After a good meal of laughing and catching up on life, we went back to Abbie Jean’s home. We played games. Lots of games. Kaleb came up with a lot of improv games that we played. This group of people are the perfect candidates for improv games. It was quite entertaining, to say the least.

This night entailed lots of video taking and laughter.

And of course, lots of acting.

On Saturday night, we had Thanksgiving at my parents house with my Omi from Chicago. This was an interesting day. That morning I got a call from my Dad saying that our two dogs got into a fight, and as my mom was trying to break it up, one of my dogs bit her. My Dad had to take my Mom to the Emergency Room. He asked me if I could cook Thanksgiving dinner. Well……I have never cooked the entire Thanksgiving meal before, but I thought: “Let’s give it a try!”

I went over to their house and my Omi prepared the turkey while I prepared all of the other dishes. Whenever they got home from the E.R., the turkey was ready for me to carve and all of the other dishes were coming out of the oven. Somehow, the timing was just right.

My parents, Omi, Kaleb, and myself sat down and had a Thanksgiving meal. It was quite an unconventional day. My Dad joked that he will never hear the end of how I “saved Thanksgiving dinner.”  It was a great learning experience for me.

In Jordan Sparks words in response to me having to cook Thanksgiving dinner last minute, “What a woman!” That kinda made my day.

Sunday was a day to go to church, catch up on homework, spend times with some girls, and rest.

My weekend consisted of many days of thanks, not just one. I am grateful for the experiences I had this weekend. God is teaching me everyday what that Proverbs 31 woman looks like.

from a house to a home.

Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. vs. 29

Wanna know a secret? I love having people over to my house. It makes it a home. Actually, having people over to my apartment..which feels like a little house…is one of my favorite things in life.

Every Tuesday night small group is at my house. Well, due to the Thanksgiving break, we decided to have our small group (Steven Bonney’s) & another group (Dustin Overturf’s) over to my place for hangout night.

Here’s my philosophy about having people over: The more people, the better.

That’s what happened last night. About 20+ people came over. We ate lots of food and played lots of games. What games you might ask? Mafia…duh! 😀 No really, we played fun group games like Mafia, Psychiatrist, and Catch Phrase.

The night looked like this: lots of people (some who didn’t previously know each other) , building new relationships, having full stomachs, and laughing really hard…the entire night.

Gee, I am still on a high from all that laughter. God is good…He gives lots of  joy.

I hope that I always feel excited about having lots of people over to my house. That’s really what makes it a home. I hope to be a woman like vs. 29 that really does it excellently. I want to put my heart into it. That’s what makes it worth it.

impersonal intimacies.

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. vs. 17

How do I become a woman of strength? Working on my bi-ceps, tri-ceps, and all those other ceps my body has? Well, yes. But not really the kinda strength I mean.

I went to the Vine Women’s Conference on Saturday…

Impersonal Intimacies: The Deceptions of False Identity in Social Networking.

The only way that I can be that strong woman after God’s heart is if  I have transparent relationships with other godly women in my life…so they can hold me up when I don’t have the strength, be honest with me about my weaknesses, and help me discover the identity God created for me rather than this image that I want to portray.

I learned a lot. God showed me a lot. I want to reflect on some of those things so I can remind myself to actually live this out:

The first talk was about our identity.

– Who are we really? What is our true identity? The identity God gave us whenever He made us alive in Him rather than dead in sin. Rather than the identity we portray through social media.

– I tend to be a people pleaser. I find my identity in how other people view me. I am praying Jesus will change that in me. I will find my identity in Him and how He looks at me.

-People’s approval is an appetite for me, I crave it. I have to learn to say NO to those appetites. I don’t need anyone’s approval.

-There can be a lot of insecurity wrapped up in social media…if you are single and want to be engaged, or not pregnant and want to be pregnant, guard your heart in social media. Meaning: you don’t have to look at all the pictures of your friends and their new spouse/baby. You don’t have to look at how “awesome” other people’s lives are and desire that too. God has a perfect plan. Follow that plan. Know your vulnerabilities and guard yourself in social media.

-It’s okay to say, “I don’t have it all together.” Oh gee, I needed to hear that. You won’t hear me complain or see me not smiling very often. Even when the last thing I want to do is smile. I am going to try and be more genuine. It’s okay if things are going perfect in my life, it’s okay that if my room is messy for a day, it’s okay if I ordered fast food for the night because I didn’t want to cook. Why must I feel that I have to portray this perfect image? Guess what? I don’t have it all together.

-Don’t try to be someone else. Enough said.

-The last part of this talk about “What is it to you.” She said a lot of statements that started with this…not in a harsh manner but rather speaking truth to us.

-What is it to you that she was asked to do this and you weren’t?

– What is it to you the her kids are well-behaved?

– What is it to you that she is engaged and you are still single?

– What is is to you that she was called on a church plant and you weren’t’?

Exactly! Why do I care about things like that? I just wanna be who God made me. Not the person I see all these other people being or portraying to be through social networking.

The second talk was about transparency.

-First, it’s important to grow comfortable and embrace who you are…even if you are “under construction.” <- which by the way, we all are.

-Am I truly transparent with other women? What areas do I tend to hold back? Identify the areas I keep secret.

– Through prayer, pick women that can be there to hold you accountable.

– What transparency is not: a one way conversation, telling just part of the story, getting to know others and not letting them get to know you.

-Transparency= truth teller.

– Living out our faith in community. It’s meant to be lived out together.

-Transparency brings freedom!

-Things we have to surrender in order to be transparent:pride, embarrassment, “fake it until you make it” attitude, perfection.

-Once you get a taste of a transparent relationship, you won’t want anything else.

-When you keep stuff in (stuff from the past, current struggles, etc..) it holds power of you.

-Yes, we can speak truth in our lives; however, it helps SO much to have others speak truth to your life as well. Freedom comes with that.

The third and final talk was about friendships.

-We have a lot of social media “friends” but those aren’t true friendships, unless you are extremely selective in social networking.

-A friendship is a special type of relationship.

-We all need each other.

-Friendships should be balanced. Don’t think you will “save” someone. Only God can do that.

-It takes true commitment to be a true friend.

-A friendship is sometimes telling people what we notice is their weaknesses are.

-Not everyone is supposed to be your close friend. That’s okay.

-Although confrontation is not easy, it is often necessary. Especially if the friendships changes due to someone moving, someone getting married, a new baby, etc..You won’t be the same friends as you were before. That’s okay. Have a conversation about that. If not, there will be a disconnect that will cause  conflict. Conversations saying, “Hey, even though life has changed..you are still my friend. We are different friends. We may not see each other as much due to life changes…yet still friends.”

-Do you need to be fed compliments from people on social networking sites? This isn’t healthy.

So, BAM! Jesus did good things at this conference. I am thankful for other women whom I can be transparent with.

Also….I have been cooking….promise. I just have been a little lacking in posting about it. whoops!

I cooked this last week…broccoli cheese soup with Cinnamon bread.

Then last night  I cooked a HUGE breakfast…an omelet with green peppers, onions, and cheese, turkey bacon, and hash browns. Greasy but delicious 😀

I had never made an omelet before. It was fun.

nifty and thrifty.

She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. vs. 12

I have learned to appreciate old things. Old furniture, old homes, and old clothes. I use to get this high feeling whenever I would buy myself something new. Now I get that same feeling whenever I find a great vintage buy.

Lately, my roommates and I have been in a really-excited-for-Christmas mood. We have been decorating our apartment. I really wanted to contribute; however, money is obviously tight for a college student like myself.

SO I had this bright idea that The Thrift Shop here in Carbondale may have a few things. Specifically, I was looking for a square red table cloth and other odds and ends.

I walked in and to my left there were TONS of Christmas decorations!!! I about fainted. Not only that by they had a red tablecloth, perfect size, for $1.49!

I got all of these items for 8 bucks and some change…

We will be adding more decorations..but for now..it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around our apartment.

The dining room…(isn’t the table cloth nifty?)

The kitchen… lots of glittery things!

The sitting area…

The living room…

The bathroom…(who doesn’t wanna see a little snowman every time they go to wash their hands?)

And last but not least, our nativity set…

Ta da! Both nifty and thrifty. I hope to always do things for less. You can make a home look cute and still be thrifty.

Be looking for my Christmas tree post! We will be putting it up soon.

for every season.

She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;  their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. vs. 21 (The Message)

My not-so-technological camera phone took this beautiful picture a few weeks ago. When I look outside today, many of these colorful leaves are falling off of the trees…bringing about change….a season called winter.

Winter. That word use to make me cringe. It meant 4 months of continual cold hands and feet that would never warm up until the sun came closer again. More recently, I have been learning to appreciate the different things that each season brings.

Things about Fall I will dearly miss:

1. the warm rich colors

2. all things pumpkin..soup, candles, cookies, etc..

3. bonfires (especially the smell of them)

4. the excitement of experiencing the season that our wedding will fall in (no pun intended).

5. the clothing

6. the warm breeze

7. the trees

8. the desire to be outdoors

9. pie

10. the fact that it’s my favorite season

Things about Winter that I am excited about:

1. staying warm under a blanket

2. white snow

3. crackling fireplaces

4. Christmas..it’s already beginning to look a lot like Christmas

5. snow days off of school (hopefully!)

6. sweaters and boots

7.  black Friday (yes, I am one of those crazy, bargain shoppers)

8. Christmas break

9. sleeping in until I can’t sleep any more

10. warm soup all winter long

You know, just like the physical seasons of the year, God is sure teaching me to enjoy all the seasons He brings me through..even the “winter” ones. Because there is good in all of it. If God made it, then it must be good.

friendship.

An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels. vs. 10

This past weekend Kaleb and I drove six hours to Kansas City. Why might you ask?

These people right here.

Specifically, Caleb Mitchell got accepted to medical school at Kansas City this Fall, and all of us went to visit him. Tina (on the left) drove 12 hours from Hamilton, Alabama where she is currently studying at the Ramp School of Ministry. Sage (next to Caleb Mitchell) is from Carmi, Illinois, about six hours as well. Sage and Caleb are dating.  😉 And of course,the other Kaleb is so happy to see his friend and groomsmen, Caleb, that he can’t help but put his hand on him letting him know he is excited to see him.

The best way to describe our weekend was spontaneous and fun-filled. Kaleb and I haven’t seen most of these friends since summer, and we had great conversation.

On Saturday afternoon, we went to the Farmer’s Market downtown.

Then for lunch we went to this neat hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was really unique and really delicious.

Jerusalem Cafe.

We got the best seat in the house…a booth by a window (and the weather was beautiful that day!).

We ordered this melted cheese appetizer…and it came out like this…

ON FIRE! How neat?

Then we went shopping, and I had fun trying on lots of things that I didn’t buy.

However, I did buy a few things…

A new “professional” bag from Urban Outfitters. Next year I will be doing an internship at a school, and I really don’t want to carry a backpack in there…I already blend in with the kids enough! Plus, being in graduate school has inspired me to want to feel more adult-like. So here’s my bargain bag that was on sale for $20 dollars (originally $48).

Then I bought a dress that I am going to wear on our honeymoon from Forever 21.

Although it’s tempting to wear it before, I shall save it for the honeymoon 🙂

The next morning we all went to Caleb’s church, the International House of Prayer (IHOP) church. Worship was amazing. Then we had a nice brunch at IHOP. <—-pancakes not prayer.

We had to all say our good-byes that afternoon. We all talked about how thankful we were that miles does not alter our friendship. The only change that happens is that it makes our relationships even stronger.

Just like a good wife, friends are far more precious than jewels like verse 10 says. I would to be one of those women who values and maintains friendships…no matter how many miles separate.