How to Get Out of Debt and Crush Those Money Goals

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #14

Whatever you want to do, do it. There are only so many tomorrows.

One of the things I want to do is get out of debt. This fortune phrase hit it right on the head and I want out of debt now. Something I struggled with most of my life was my finances. I was never very good at keeping a budget and didn’t quite learn the skills to get me through adulthood. In 2008 my husband and I took a substantial financial hit, and everything came crashing down to an unforgettable end. Unforgettable because this was the time in our lives when we hit financial rock bottom and had to make a change not only for ourselves but make a difference for our kids.
We needed to wake up, and we needed to get our act together, and that is precisely what we did. It was hard, and it felt like it took forever. We kept going even when there were downfalls and unexpected events that would put us behind. With all our effort and teamwork we managed to pull ourselves out of the dark abyss of the debt black hole. It wasn’t easy, but with a little patience and a lot of determination, debt can become a not so fond memory of the past. Here are five ways to get out of debt and get out fast.

1. Goals, Goals, and More Goals
Plan some goals and stick to them. Goals help direct you and keep you focused on the essential things you want to change. Sometimes goals can be very overwhelming especially if you have an enormous amount of debt and you don’t know where to start. If this is the case, start broad and work your way to small. I know it sounds funny but taking a look at the whole picture and breaking it down will make you take a look and see how easy it can be as long as you stick to it.

Long range goals will be goals that you will have years down the road. These goals are the bigger picture. My husband and I have a significant goal to be able to travel and do some van living once we are completely debt free. We have planned to complete this task in the next five years and are working on getting to that point. When designing large goals ask yourself what is it that you want out of life? How long will it take for me to get to that point? Answering these types of questions will help you to understand what it is you want and give you an idea on how to get there.

Next, you should work on planning some medium range goals. These goals can be completed in a couple of years. These goals will help you to attain the big picture, and they can include, paying off certain debt like student loans, or cars. They can also be adding a side hustle to make a little extra income. Medium goals can be made on a yearly basis. Keeping a log can help you attain the common goals. Make sure to be as specific as possible and use positive words when writing them out as this will keep you motivated. Our common goal is mostly based on our side business and keeping it running smoothly and successfully. Our side business requires both of us to put in the time and effort. We also have a monthly budget that we follow that keeps us in check.

Last but not least is making small goals that can quickly be followed on a weekly basis. These weekly goals help you focus on the things you would like to accomplish in 6 months to a year. Our short-term goals are to get vehicles paid off which we have been able to do except for one and pay off any student loan or credit card debt, and we are continually working on this as well. We have managed to take out a pretty big chunk in both the last six months. Like I said we just keep going once one goal is made then we tackle the next. One of the things I like to do to keep me up on my weekly goals and this could be done monthly as well by using a dry erase board, and I write three categories. These categories are Want to Do, Doing, and Done and I will start my week with my task all under the want to do, and when I need to, I move the work to the next category until they are finished. I am a pretty busy lady, and sometimes all the things I think about will almost make my head explode so if I write them down and see them it keeps me organized and creates a less stressful environment.

2. Downsize Me
When we hit our financial crisis, one thing we had to do whether we liked it or not was downsize. We went from a four bedroom home with full basement, garage, and backyard to a three bedroom apartment, and yes it was interesting. We have two kiddos, and they were pretty young at the time, so they had to share a room because I had a side Ebay business that needed an office. We downsized and lived tiny for a while to get ourselves back on our feet. I will tell you my kids looked back on it and didn’t mind it at all. It brought them closer, and they had to learn to get along more. I consider this a blessing being able to do this and learning to minimalize. I became a minimalist because of the very reason of downsizing. It is incredible to realize the amount of stuff you don’t need.

3. Want a Ride
One thing that has helped us out is lowering our monthly gas expense. We live in Fort Collins, Colorado and we have to drive to Denver once a week for our side job, Which is an hour away sometimes a little longer so we have to be careful how much driving we do throughout the week. My husband’s full-time job is six blocks from our house so most of the time he uses a bike not only is it fun for him, but it keeps him in shape. I try to make weekly grocery trips and keep our going back and forth to a bare minimum. When we first needed to get back on our feet, we decided to buy a car from an auction site instead of buying or leasing something newer to save on monthly payments. It also lowered our insurance since the car was older the coverage was less expensive. There are lots of ways to downsize the amount of gas you pay each month, and this can make a big difference on what you will pay at the pump.

4. What’s For Dinner
I get asked this question every single day and more than once by more than one person. I am the meal planner and in most circumstances meal prepper. Back when we thought money grew on trees, we ate out all the time. Now I look back at it and think “Oh my gosh I wasted so much money and half the time what I ate was awful.” We do not eat out if we can help it. Not eating out can save you tons of money and not only that your waistline will thank you as well.
I am a planner, and therefore my meals are planned, and I prepare my shopping by matching coupons, sales ads, and discounts where I can find them. If you are healthy eater that is fantastic because so am I and I will tell you yes you can eat healthy on a dime and I do it all the time. I plan my grocery bill around what is on sale and where my discounts will be found. There are many nutritious foods you can eat that won’t break the bank. I also have an Instant Pot and let me just say this thing is sent from heaven above and is my go-to for most of my meals. I make soups, sauces, beans, rice, vegetables, even meat in this thing and it rocks! Not only does it help me make affordable yummy meals it is so easy to operate just set it up and let it cook.

5. Every Girl Loves Her Shopping and So Does This One
I love to shop and back in the day when I had no clue how to save a dime I did just that I went shopping. I look back now and realize that most of the time I was wasting time and precious savings. I am so thankful that I came to my senses and figured out I can still shop but just have to be more mindful in my shopping. I even have better things now than I did when I was spending money like it was water. How is that possible you ask, I am very keen on season sales and watch many of my online clearance sites. One of my favorite sites is Steep and Cheap. I am an outdoor girl, and this place has tons of outdoor clothing and accessories for huge discounts. Steep and Cheap is by far my favorite place to shop, and you can find some things as much as 90% off. I have paid that much off, and it makes me very happy when I do. To shop with them you need to get on the email list, and it is straightforward so it is easy to join. I also learned that I should only buy for the things I need and not to waste on things I want. So I wear out my jeans and keep shoes around forever. I keep the stuff I have in good shape. I am more aware of how to care for these things, so they do not need to be replaced.

Knowing your goals and planning them out will keep you focused on what you want out of your life. Making changes and downsizing things that you may not necessarily need can give you more to work with when paying off debtors. Carpool, biking, walking, or just being more aware of your driving can save you at the gas pump. Quit the takeouts and fast food and choose a more healthy and less expensive alternative. When you shop remember to ask yourself is this a want or is this a need and if it is a need try to get it at the lowest best price around.

Even though trying to control the debt monster can seem at times impossible know that with patience, dedication, and focus you can control your future. There are only so many tomorrows so instead of waiting jump in today and make those changes to give you the life you want.

Get What You Want With Goals

Believe to Achieve

 

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #11

Two things to aim for in life to get what you want and to enjoy it.

Wouldn’t the world be a fantastic place if we all could just get what we want in our lives? Too bad we all couldn’t just have a magic genie that could grant all our wishes. How can we still have reality and get the things we want in our lives? The answer lies in goals. Having goals gives us a vision and a purpose to achieve what we want. Goals are the closest genie we will get in life, and it’s time we embraced it. Here are some ways to crush your goals and create the life you want.

1. Believe and you will achieve
Many times most of us want to do great things, but we hold ourselves back from getting what we want. Holding ourselves back can be an array of reasons. We may not have the self-confidence that we feel we need to get to where we need to be. There is also a great sense of fear when it comes to challenging ourselves and trying new things. To be able to beat this curse learn to be a high achiever. Instead of thinking I will work at this start thinking I will do this. Change the way you think, and believe you will achieve.

2. Challenge Yourself
Like I mentioned above don’t hold yourself back. If we don’t try how will you ever know? Creating challenges for your goals can be fun. I am a fitness queen and love to work out. Exercise was not always my thing. I had to start from the beginning and work to where I am now. When I started, I was weak not mention my body was pretty sick. It has taken me three years to get to where I am now. Every time I would work out it was a challenge for me, and I had the mindset that I was going to crush each challenge. Some of these challenges scared me and other tasks I thought I would never be able to accomplish. Through hard work, discipline, and patience I was crushing each challenge and hitting each goal. Now that is not to say that there weren’t downfalls because there were, but I picked myself up and kept going till I obtained what I wanted. Challenges are mindsets to helping you get to where you want, and you feel amazing after you accomplish success.

3. Not All of Your Goals Will Work
Sometimes we think we want something and end up not wanting what we thought we would. Changing our minds is ok and helps us understand our real wants and needs. If you decide that what your working toward is not what you want just change your goal and move on. Strive to achieve the goals that give you the most excitement. These types of goals will be the ones we work the hardest on and provides us with the drive to create our vision.

4. Write it Down
I write everything down. I love to visualize what I am doing and what will happen in my future. Take these thoughts and put them on a vision board or paper and look at these goals. What I love to do is journal and keeping a journal helps me to take a look at my progress. It is a constant reminder of what I am working toward to getting what I want. I write lists for me to work on every day. It gives me a roadmap and lets me know I am one step closer to get what I want, and I am motivating myself to get things done and keeps me focused on the big picture.

5. Small Steps Leads to Big Sucess
Working on goals to get what we want can be overwhelming. Especially if the goal is enormous and we don’t even know where to start. Look at these types of goals and decide what small steps you can begin taking to where you want to be. Evey small step that you choose will get you closer to what you want to achieve. These big goals do not happen overnight, and it involves lots of work and patience. Rember that this is a process and keep visualizing the big picture. I used to tell my clients that I worked with in personal training that exercise and diet were not a quick fix and that this was a whole body challenge. Each of these individuals can make these small changes to reach what they want out of their fitness. It takes time, determination, and patience.

6. Get Help From Family and Friends
Working on getting what we want out of life is a whole lot easier if our family or friends are supportive and involved in reaching a similar goal. Having a support system is key to success. If you are working together to get things done, it takes all of the pressure off of one person. Usually, if the whole team is involved the goal is achieved faster, and everyone knows what is expected. An excellent example of this is our family budget. My husband and I work as a team when it comes to our finances. We have found by doing this not only are we on the same page, but we manage to get to where we need to be in a faster time frame rather than just one of us working on finances. My children are also on the budget train and know what we are spending and what we are not so there won’t be any hassles later on down the road. Doing this keeps us all in check, and we find that we don’t overstep our bounds. You can still obtain success without help it is more challenging, but if anything it makes you most substantial in the long run.

If there is anything we should be doing at this point, it is aiming for what we want out of life. Life should be what we make of it, and after we have worked to get where we want to be, we should be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor. By conquering our goals, we can live the life we want. Believe in our futures and move towards the outcome. Remember these goals don’t just magically happen overnight and it is essential to make changes along the way. If we can keep a focus on the vision and create a plan especially with friends and family soon, we can celebrate the life we have created for ourselves

6 Ways to Gain Leadership Style

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #10

Leadership is action not position.

Am I a leader or a follower? A question that I was asking myself when I received my next fortune out of the jar and the answer was merely I have no idea. For most of my life, I would consider myself to have been a follower. I was the type of person that usually goes with the flow and never sighted many opinions about anything. I felt that it may have been easier to live my life that way and that I would avoid social confrontations. Unfortuanlty I think I was holding myself back by not taking the lead in certain situations in my life and that was something I needed to change.
What is leadership? By having leadership skills, one is taking action, and usually, this is done with a group of people or a situation. Leaders help those around them and set the tone for the group. They are vision builders and have a talent for creating new things. I decided that I wanted to have more leadership skills. Doing this takes me out of the comfort zone, and I will feel more secure in my decisions. Being a mom I already have a few leadership skills involving my kids, but I decided that I was going to take action in my choices that include more of myself. Here are 6 six things I practiced to help me to build my leadership style.

1. Set Expectations
Setting expectations for yourself will hold you accountable for your leadership. When I set certain expectations in some of my dealings, I noticed that I did not back down as much. By placing a set of rules ahead of time, I was more willing to stick to them. This was true when I was working on my budget. There were times that my kids or even myself would be tempted to do a little extra, and by setting my expectations on how much I was going to spend, I found it more comfortable to hold myself accountable. When I exceeded my expectations, it gave me a sense of strength and control in my finances.

2. Educate and Learn
Knowlege gives you power. The more you learn about something, the more leadership you can share with those around you. If you want to move up in your job become an expert in the field not only will this give you confidence but you will also find that those around you will respect your skills. I love to learn about health and fitness. Back in the day, I used to be a personal trainer, and I helped individuals get healthy and in shape. I loved the job and loved to help people work toward healthy goals. Even though I am no longer a trainer, I still take these traits with me everywhere I go, and I share my knowledge to help those around me.

3.  Positivity Spreads Like Wild Fire
Be a positive role model for those around you. This especially is true when you are trying to find your leadership style. I work hard not to be a downer, but there have been times that I have that little bit of dought in the back of my mind, and I have had to learn to put a stop to that kind of thinking. Not only will a negative attitude affect you but it also affects those around you. By looking at the glass half full instead of half empty, you are giving yourself a way to think outside the box. Being positive is also a great confidence booster instead of you can’t you start to think you can automatically.

4.  Set Goals and Conquer
Goal setting is an essential characteristic of leadership.
Goals get us where we need to be. By setting goals and conquering them, we show that we can lead a path to success. This is especially true for my husband and me with our finances. We have set goals for our future and have worked hard at attaining each one. Although this has not always been an easy road, we have been able to learn so much about taking control and gaining the reward of financial freedom. For every small goal, we conquered we would add another one to the list and gradually we are advancing to where we want to be in our future. The motivation we have received from conquering our goals is what keeps us going.

5. Manage Change
Nothing in life is smooth sailing. One thing a leader can do is manage those little-unexpected twist and turns in life. If you can achieve the vision even when there are changes you show strength to those around you. The changes you may face could be functional, or they could be dysfunctional, but either way, indicating that you have control over the situation will be appealing to those in the position. I personally like change and feel that change is here to challenge and why not accept the challenge.

6. Be a Coach
Coaches have leadership skills. They have the skills to get the job done. Be your own coach and watch your leadership soar. Coaches build up the team and give the motivation to excel expectations. You can’t sit around waiting for your goal to happen and unfortunately, it may never happen. Be a part of making that goal happen. Make a plan and stick to it and if the plan changes keep moving forward. Work hard, and this will lead to significant results.

What I learned in last few weeks is that having leadership qualities gives you a sense of freedom and control. The probability of getting things done is far more likely with leadership. Becoming an expert in what you want to achieve will help those around you and give you some respect. A positive attitude is everything when working to get what you want out of life. Make sure to set some goals and conquer them. Attaining the goals gives you the strength to keep going and overcoming the next one. Manage changes in your path and gain a sense of power, and be a coach to yourself and those around you by having the tools to build what you want. Be a leader in your life and go forth to motivate and inspire.

5 Fantastic Ways to Learn Something New and Gain New Horizons in Your Brain.

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #7

Knowledge is priceless.

Think about all the things we have been able to learn throughout our lives. From the time we were in diapers to being productive members of society. When we were children, we were always taught. We were taught how to tie our shoes, brush our teeth, and read. As we grew older, there was driving and school that we attended. We may have had a job that taught us about the world, and it’s expectations. All throughout our lives, we have gained a vast amount of knowledge some of this knowledge has cost some money, and some of this knowledge was merely given to us. If it were not for all of the experiences we have attained throughout our lives, we would not be where we are today.

Repetitive task every day does not challenge us in any way.  It creates an autopilot, and we go through the same function without ever growing and learning.   By learning something new, we are allowing our brains to build new pathways. Learning lets us grow.  Not only do we grow but each new thing we learn we gain empowerment and are able to conquer new things.  What a boring world, we would live in if we never learned anything. Here are five ways to get out of autopilot and build new horizons.

1. Take Notes and write them out.

Write out the notes old school and see the change in the way you learn.  I feel like when I write notes out versus the other methods I don’t seem to remember as much.  When we write things out, we are using many different things to help us not forget.  We have to look at what we are writing and take the time to write it on paper, and when we are finished, we have to re-read what we wrote.  Every time we focus on our notes we are giving ourselves the opportunity to remember and focus on what is essential.

2. Practice

Among all the many things I do one of them is working on finishing my degree.   I am currently in college working on my Bachelors with a focus on communication.  I am now taking Spanish courses because I would like to one day be a bilingual speech pathologist.  One thing I have had to learn when studying Spanish is that it requires lots of practice and that is precisely what I do.  I practice every day and will even write it in the schedule book just so I know I need to get it done.  Practice makes perfect, and the more you practice, the easier something becomes.  It may take a while to get it down, and there may be some bumps along the way but keep practicing, and you will see how much easier it is to complete.

3. Set up a time to learn and make it short. 

I always thought that if I sat and studied something the whole afternoon, I would retain so much more information but unfortunately, all I did was burn myself out most of the time, and it made it harder to remember what I was studying, to begin with.  Short study sessions are so much better, and I don’t review more than 30 minutes at a time with breaks in between.  Taking breaks in between gives me time to refresh and take in the information that I have just retained.  My tea break usually involves only 10-15 minutes at a time. I love tea and tea takes you away from the world.  In that time I try to stretch or get a glass of water. Take this time to refresh and gain some mental clarity.

4. Teach Someone

When I first learned about this one, I was a bit skeptical, and then I became a homeschool mom.  With homeschool, you are in charge of teaching and at first, it is scary.  My son was getting into Algebra, 1 and I needed to help him, so I felt that I needed a review of this course myself.  Back in my younger days algebra was not my thing and one thing I noticed was this time around things were more clear for me to understand.  I was learning and understanding and that helped me to help my son when he needed the extra help.  A teacher friend once told me that if you want to learn something, you should teach it and that is the absolute truth.

5. Rest your brain.

Rest is vital for most good things.  We need to rest to be our best.  Power naps and meditation are excellent practices for relaxing when you need to learn something.  Don’t forget to be your best you need to take care of your self.  You can always come back to what you are learning, and you will come back with a clear and focused vision.

Being able to learn and master a new skill is essential to our human development.   Taking the time to grow and master a new technique will pay off in the end.  Following these steps will not only get you there, but you will understand and know what you are learning in a clearer and concise environment. Go out today and find something you want to learn. Take your brain to new horizons and do it today.

 

 

5 Ways to Stop a Negative Conversation Before it Begins

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #2

Keep your goals away from the trolls.

Do you ever find yourself dealing with people who aren’t happy unless they or you are miserable?  You may have an idea that you may want to try and the person you are talking to shuts it down.  Maybe you received a promotion or accomplished a personal goal and you share it and they act like it’s no big deal. Everyone has had these conversations in their life and we may or may have not dealt with these circumstances the best way. If we are lucky we can put an end to these situations before they even begin with these 5 steps.

Know what your hot buttons are so that you don’t end up falling into the trap. 

Many times these situations are placed before us to get a reaction.  If you are dealing with someone who says or does something the best way to handle the conversation is to not react negatively.  if someone is trying to hit your hot button keep in mind that you have control of what you say and do and even though you don’t like what is being said you not letting the other person win.

 

Change the subject to neutral.

Changing the subject in a not so positive conversation takes the light off the resentment and puts it in a different light.  You could even ask how the other person is doing and what they have been up to.  More than likely they will love the idea of filling you in on themselves.

 

“Thanks for your input I will consider it.”

Rather than getting into an argument over what is being said and done end the conversation by thanking them for their input and that you will consider all the options.  Being polite when things aren’t always the most friendly makes it hard for the other person to continue the toxic conversation.  You are ahead if you keep it under control.

 

There may be times you can avoid it altogether.

If you’re at a party or a social situation simply avoiding the one who wants to start trouble will be a way to keep things under control.  You don’t have to talk or visit with someone who wants to send shade your way.  A simple hello or wave is just fine and keeping yourself busy will keep the contact to a minimum.

 

Be confident.

You know who you are and the more confidence you have around those that might think less of you the better your outcome will be.  You don’t have to think you are holier than thou but have confidence in your decisions and actions.  Many times this intimidates the person who wants to shut you down.

There are times in life where we have to deal with those people who don’t have our best interest at heart.  It is easier to handle these situations when we are able to keep control of what is being said and done during the interaction.  When you know how to deal with the trolls these social situations get a whole lot easier.