Category: money and happiness

11 Minimalist Gift Ideas That Add To Happiness, Not Clutter

“Minimalist gift ideas, Sarah? Like a single leaf in a vase? Or one drapey linen shirt? Har har har.” 

I can already hear the good-natured eye-rolling, friends. And let me tell you with all the love in my heart I AM NOT HAVING IT.

When I say ‘minimalist gifts’ I’m not saying you spite-give everyone a copy of The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. I’m not suggesting you give your sister a single polished stone (though honestly that would be so funny.)

To me, a ‘minimalist gift’ is something that

  • Can be used up
  • Recycled or composted
  • Doesn’t require storage or dusting

Minimalist gifts don’t require us to lecture anyone about Consumerism! And Carbon footprints! And Fast Fashion!

I’m not talking about giving people things we WISH they wanted. (No matter how nice the sleeping bag is, I’m never going to like camping, guys.)

Honestly, you could probably give a minimalist gift to every blessed person on your list! No matter who you’re giving gifts to, there’s probably a way for you to give them something happy-making and life-improving that’s not for sale at Target and won’t end up in a landfill.

11 Minimalist Gift Ideas That Add To Happiness, Not Clutter (more…)

Everything That’s Wrong With Personal Finance (Not That I Have An Opinion)

What's wrong with personal finance? If you're looking for money advice, budgeting tips, or financial advice, this post will help and you're probably never heard THESE personal finance tips before!

I’m at a dinner party, sitting between two very nice people I just met.

The man to my left is a financial planner and the woman to my right is asking him about retirement, investments, etc.

“I mean, I know I’ve got to get it together,” she nods over pasta. “I know I should be maxing out my 401k and all that. I probably wouldn’t need help with my retirement if I’d just unsubscribe from the J. Crew newsletter.” She laughs self-consciously and takes a sip of red wine.

“I’d be happy to help,” Financial Planner Man says, and smoothly hands over his business card.

Reader, it was all I could do not to slap that card out of his hand and yell “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG YOU’RE NOT GOING TO HELP HER YOU’RE TREATING SYMPTOMS NOT THE CAUSE!!!”

But, uh, that’s not polite dinner party behavior?

A bit of real talk: 99% of the money advice starts in the wrong place. 

It treats a symptom (living with debt, spending too much) without addressing the cause (buying things to keep up with our friends, shopping when we’re tired/overwhelmed.)

Here’s the truth:

You’re not going to have any money to invest if you keep shopping instead of feeling your feelings.

You won’t have any money for the down payment on a house if you keep buying shit you don’t really like because you don’t understand what ACTUALLY makes you happy.

You won’t be able to open your bank account and feel calm + proud if you don’t understand which purchases bring you joy and which ones bring you regret.

If we don’t understand what makes us happy + why we spend the way we do, a budget is just moving numbers around on a page.

Put Your Money Where Your Happy Is addresses allllll this. We get to the root of what makes you happy, see if it’s actually reflected in your spending, and if it’s not, I teach you how to change that.

Without deprivation, shame, guilt, or cutting the cable.

Of course, I’d love it if you joined us inside PYMWYHI, but even if you don’t I hope you remember this:

Saving money doesn't start with coupons or a budget. It starts with you & your mind. Click To Tweet

If there was ever a time to figure out your money + happiness, it’s now.

Want to figure out money and happiness in time for the holidays? Click through for tips that will help!

We’re slowly tipping towards the end of the year.  It’s a season for gratitude, gathering with loved ones, and sharing the bounty of the year.

It’s also the season for:

  • passive-aggressive relatives questioning your life choices
  • spending a million dollars on presents
  • feeling like you need to buy a bigger tree, give nicer gifts, or send holiday cards
  • comparing our lives to what we see in the holiday letters and photos we receive

Funnnn!  Who doesn’t love justifying their decision to go back to school, quit that job, or keep driving the old car over the Thanksgiving table? Who doesn’t enjoy looking at their credit card statement on December 27th and breaking into a cold sweat?

Nobody. Nobody enjoys those things.

Friends, if there was ever a time to get your money + happiness in order it’s now. The holiday season is – hands down! – the most expensive, most stressful time of the year.

Which is why I chose early November to open enrollment for my course Put Your Money Where Your Happy Is.

If you want new ways to look at spending and managing money – a way that leads to more discretionary income, less stress, and more happiness – this is for you.

What if you felt calm and proud when you look at your bank statement?

What if you filled your home and calendar with things that make you happy – not whatever was on sale or whatever Facebook event you were invited to?

What if you went to Target and left with only the things on your list?!!

Put Your Money Where Your Happy Is can help with all of the above.

Here’s the deal:

  • 24 video lessons spread out over 6 self-paced modules
  • Interactive workbook
  • Private Facebook group
  • Audio versions of all the lessons so you listen on the go
  • Lifetime access + all updates and upgrades


95% of students say this course paid for itself within a month. A month!

I’m super proud of this course and the long-term, life-changing results it gets for my students. I’d love it if you joined us!

Photos by Annie Spratt and Luke Hodde on Unsplash

5 sweet ways to stop putting off happiness

Are you putting off happiness? It's incredibly common! Click through for 5 happiness tips that will make it easier to do more of what you love?

It’s a rainy Tuesday night and I’ve successfully convinced my friend that grocery shopping counts as a “friend date” and we’re poking through the aisles of Super Target.

I’m weirdly excited to grocery shop with said friend because she always brings the best, most impressive dishes to parties. MAYBE SHE’LL BE THE ONE WHO FINALLY HELPS ME FIGURE OUT CHEESE FONDUE.

We turn down the tv dinner aisle and my friend – my loves-to-cook, Julia-Child-esque friend – shovels 654 Lean Cuisines into her cart. “It seems ridiculous make a real meal when it’s just me, you know?” she shrugs.

I nod but I don’t really get it. Is she saying that she doesn’t deserve the same sort of lovely meals she makes and shares with her friends?

Later, on my drive home, I think of all the places I’ve heard something like this before.

I think of the friend who moved to a new city for a one-year academic program. She isn’t bothering to make friends because she “isn’t going to be around that long.”

Another friend signed a six-month lease while she house hunts. She’s usually very stylish and decor-conscious, but she’s living out of boxes. Her framed art is still on the floor because she’s “just going to move soon.”

We can all see the common denominator here, right? Putting off or avoiding happy-making, life-improving things because they’re an inconvenience?

Friends, a bit of real talk:
There is no ‘perfect time’ to do things that make you happy or improve your life. Click To Tweet
If we want to find them, there will always be excuses for why we don’t need to treat ourselves with the same thought and consideration that we treat others. And honestly? SOMETIMES HAPPINESS IS A TOTAL HASSLE.

Making friends in a new city is vulnerable and weird (here’s how to make friends as an adult). Cooking An Actual Meal is a lot harder than heating up a Lean Cuisine. Making your living space lovely requires time and thought.

It’s so much easier to convince ourselves that we’re too busy or we don’t really care. It’s easier to convince ourselves that the inconvenient, happy-making thing won’t really make that much of a difference.

I’m here to tell you
a) that’s rubbish
b) it’s possible to make happiness easier
c) you deserve to feel happy now, not some imaginary time in the future when the stars align

5 ways to stop putting off happiness + make it easier

(more…)

Shop For Your Real Life, Not Your Fantasy Life

Looking for non-traditional budgeting tips? This surprising financial advice will save you hundreds of dollars! Click through to read more about how to shop for your real life, not your fantasy life!

This is the story of a sumptuous, milk-colored couch and my bank account.

I found the couch late one night while scrolling through Pinterest. The angles and arms spoke to me. Those mid-century modern legs!

And I made the mistake of visiting the website and actually clicking on the product description.

Soon my social media feeds were filled with ads for this beautiful couch. It haunted me on Facebook and chased me around Instagram. The couch peeked around corners and wooed me with expiring discount codes.

Friends, here is the reality of my current life:

  • 1 small black dog
  • 1 large black cat (long-haired)
  • 1 husband who bike commutes to work
  • 2 stepsons who enjoy sitting, reading, watching tv, and bickering on the sofa
  • 1 self who occasionally enjoys eating pizza rolls on the sofa while watching 90s music videos

Could you imagine a scenario more poorly suited to a white sofa? You probably couldn’t dream up, from scratch, a family or home that is more likely to ruin light-colored furniture.

And yet! I almost spent $$$$ on a white couch that is hilariously unsuited to our lives.

When I lay it out like this, with bullet points and what not, my almost-purchase seems obviously unwise. But how often do we do this?

We buy the cocktail attire even though we never go to cocktail parties.

We sign leases on three-bedroom apartments so we can host “out-of-town guests” when we don’t even have out-of-town friends and hosting stresses us out.

We buy an Instapot or Vitamix even though we don’t like cooking. (And none of the other kitchen gadgets we’ve purchased have changed that.)

If you’ve ever bought something to fit your fantasy life, you are not alone. People do that ish ALL THE TIME.

But if you can notice what you’re doing and stop, you’ll probably save yourself hundreds of dollars and piles of regret when you look at that Instapot you never use.

4 questions that will help you shop for your real life, not your fantasy life

(more…)

8 Things I Learned From Doing A 5-Week Spending Diet + Earning Spree

What's a spending diet? How do you do one? If you're looking for budgeting tips or ways to make extra money, this post is for you! Click through to learn more!

It’s June 27th and I’m sitting in my car outside the dog sitter’s house, crying over my AAA card.

I was supposed to be 100 miles into a road trip right now. Instead, I’m waiting for the tow truck – again – and realizing that it will cost me $1,200 to rent a car for two weeks over the July 4th holiday.

I guess I’m not taking a road trip. I guess I’m buying another car.

And that, my friends, is how I found myself doing a five-week Spending Diet + Earning Spree!

“What’s a Spending Diet? What’s an Earning Spree? Why were you trying to take a 2003 Ford Focus on a 1,200 mile road trip, Sarah?”

Thank you for asking, friend!

1. A Spending Diet is when you put yourself on a tight budget for a specific amount of time in order to reach a specific financial goal.
2. An Earning Spree is when you get very creative and tenacious about finding ways to bring in extra money in order to reach a specific financial goal.
3. MY MECHANIC TOLD ME IT WAS FINE OKAY.

I’ve been doing Spending Diets for years (re: most of my time in graduate school) but this was the first time I’d paired it with an Earning Spree. Here’s what I learned!

8 Things I Learned From Doing A 5-Week Spending Diet + Earning Spree

(more…)