Category: money and happiness

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

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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

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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

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Constraints can breed creativity + Limitations can create freedom

Looking for creativity tips? Add constraints or limitations! It's amazing the amount of freedom and creativity that can come from limitations! Click through to find out how

“Dude, I dunno. I don’t think you’re going to like having a CSA,” my friend intones, leveling her eyes at me over the top of her drink. She picks at her appetizer while making that I’m-telling-you-this-for-your-own-good face.

“It’s $400 for four months of vegetables you’d never choose yourself. How much kohlrabi can you possibly eat? NOBODY LIKES SWISS CHARD THAT MUCH, SARAH.”

So I’m preemptively annoyed and swiss-chard-aware when I pick up my first farm share. I squint skeptically into my box of greens and weird herbs. But instead of feeling angry about lemon balm I feel … relief. And inspiration. And a bubbling up of culinary creativity.

I can sprinkle lemon balm on top of all those ripe peaches sitting on my counter! I’ve heard grilled spring onions are amazing! I have everything I need to make a frittata! And, yes, I’m even excited to find recipes that feature kohlrabi.

Instead of wandering the aisles of a giant grocery store, unsure of what to buy, the choices have been made for me. Instead of using all my energy examining produce and deciding what to buy, I can use my energy making the most of what I’ve been given.
Crazy as it sounds, there can be freedom in limitations + creativity within constraints. Click To Tweet

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We pay for our choices with the lives we lead

Do you pay for your choices? How do you habits show up in your daily life? What we do every day become our daily lives ... so let's choose accordingly.

 

It’s 2004 and Chung Li, Taiwan is hot and muggy. As per the usual. I’m choosing to celebrate the weather by living in flip flops and sundresses. I’m swapping out my full-faced scooter helmet for something lighter and breezier and significantly, uh, less protective.

Meanwhile, the brakes on my scooter have been squeaking and requiring more squeezing than usual but I’m choosing to put off the repairs till my monthly paycheck comes through. My commute is short! I rarely drive faster than 15 mph! IT’S FINE.

I imagine, dear reader, you can see where this is going. Can you see me tootling along the street on my way to work, thinking about my lesson plans for the day? Can you see the black Mercedes cutting me off and me tumbling into the street in my cotton dress? Can you see the hospital and the stitches and the scar tissue?

Perhaps I should have chosen a different outfit. A different helmet. To get my brakes fixed.

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Talking About Money Is A Gift To Everyone Around You

Not sure why you should talk about money - especially if you HATE talking about money? Financial conversations are super important! Click through for 4 reasons why you should have them + how to talk about money!

We’re at that point in the dinner party when we’ve moved from the dining room into the living room. Everyone’s on their third glass of wine. Shoes are off. I’ve given up trying to make my hair look decent. It’s the messy top knot part of the evening, ya know?

I’m admiring my friends’ new house and expressing envy over the woodwork. “It’s crazy to think we own a house now!” the husband laughs.

“Well, actually, your parents own 20% of this house,” the wife says good-naturedly. “And the bank owns the other 80%.”

We all laugh a little awkwardly and the conversation moves on because OH GOD WE ALMOST TALKED ABOUT MONEY. But I want to stand up and cheer.

I want to hug my friends and high five them and thank them. In the space of two sentences that wife did more for her dinner party guests than she could ever realize.

In two sentences, my friend essentially said: “It’s okay if you haven’t saved up the $50,000 necessary to put a down payment on a house in Minneapolis. You’re not doing anything wrong if – between school loans, 401ks, and health insurance premiums – you haven’t been able to sock away that much money. You’re not failures. You’re not doing it wrong.”
Honestly, talking about money is a gift to everyone around you. Click To Tweet

Why you should talk about money (even if it makes you uncomfortable)

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