Category Archives: Loving Others Well

5 Free Ways to Build your Relationship

1. Workout together. Working out with your significant other is a great way to stay fit, but also a great way to bond. Doing something good for your body and mind somehow brings you closer together. You talk more, your minds are clearer, and you’re burning calories. Partaking in an activity that you both enjoy allows you quality time and a closer relationship.

Running

Training for and running a race together allows you to spend some extra time together and bond on a new level.

2. Parks/Dog Parks. If you have dogs, going to the dog park is a fun way to spend some time with the individuals you love in your life without spending a dime. Walking around a park on a beautiful, sunny day watching your dogs have a great time with the person you love is my idea of a perfect date. If you don’t have dogs, going to a new park can also be fun. Experiencing nature with your boyfriend will make you both feel refreshed and happy.

Dog Park

My dogs LOVE a couple hours at the dog park! Especially when both his parents are there!

3. Netflix. Going to the movies can be fun, but also very expensive. Laying on your couch, eating “movie theater butter” popcorn, and enjoying a movie is a perfect date without having to shell out $30. Save that money so you can enjoy a delicious brunch in the morning.

4. Home restaurant. I love going out to eat. But when you’re buying for two, you’ll spend at least $30 to enjoy a meal together. It can be more fun (and delicious) when you make dinner together at home. You can each make a pizza with your favorite toppings on it and enjoy each other’s favorite things. Or one person can make dinner while the other makes dessert. Using your own ingredients are not only cheaper, but healthier too.

Dinner

One of our delicious homemade dinners…better than the restaurant.

5. Walks. I also love walks. Walking with your boyfriend is a perfect time to enjoy nature, give your dogs some exercise, give yourself some exercise, and chat with each other. Our worlds are so full of iPads, iPhones, and TVs that sometimes we are physically in the same place but not mentally. Taking walks together brings you physically and mentally closer.

We want to know: What kinds of things do you do to spend time with your person?

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Love More, Spend Less: 10 Almost Free Ways to Keep your Boyfriend………Happy

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Dating can be difficult when you are strapped for cash. Sam and I are always trying to find (almost) free ways to show our bf’s some love…especially since our mindful spending has a big impact on their lives too!!

Dating and wise spending don’t always go hand in hand, especially during the early stages of dating. It cab be easy to fall into a pattern of showing and measuring love or happiness using dollars and cents. Being a money-hoarding miser is not attractive, but spending recklessly is actually just as ludicrous. I would never forbid occasionally splurging on the cute guy that makes your coffee every morning, but it’s important to think about the free (and almost free) things we can do nearly every day to keep our boyfriends happy and happy to be part of our lives. Here are the top 10 ways I Love More and Spend Less on a regular basis.

1. Do his Laundry:  Laundry sucks, and if you are willing to spend your day sorting, washing, drying, and folding his clothes he will know that love runs deep through your veins. Bonus points if you put them away for him too.

Cost: $0

2. Cater his Parties: Whether he is hosting or attending, there is a good chance that this football marathon day or championship watch-party will need snacks and/or food to reach its full potential. Save him some stress and make him proud to be dating you by whipping up a dish to bring along. When you put extra effort (even if it is just a little bit extra) into keeping/making him and his friends happy, you are successfully showing him you love him.

Cost: $0-$20.00 (you might be able to use groceries you already have in your kitchen)

3. Beer

beer

Having beer in the fridge is a simple way to take care of his “needs”

Yes, just “beer”. You can stop and get him a 6 pack of his favorite on your way home from work or have the fridge stocked with cold ones just because. Anything that involves beer, is going to be appreciated. No need to over think this one.

Cost: $10-$25

4. Give him Guys Nights: Even better, grace him with a guys night on a day that you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. And you know that giving him a guys night doesn’t count if you whine about how much time he spends with his friends or you are texting and calling him the entire time he is away. If you can’t see guys night as the win-win situation that it is, you are missing out! He gets to enjoy time with his friends sans lady (love does not mean wearing metaphorical handcuffs), and you get to enjoy some free time as well. Letting him have a life of his own is an extremely reasonable, but often forgotten gift.

5. Support his Team

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Chhheeeeeeiiiiiiiiiffffffffffsssssss!

Depending on where you are from and whether or not you and your man’s favored teams are bitter enemies this can either be very easy or terribly difficult. I’m not suggesting you throw your team under his team’s bus and then hitch a ride; however, it won’t kill you to use a koozie with his teams’ colors or congratulate him on his team’s victory…under your breath…after he falls asleep 😉

Cost: $0

6. Make Dinner: Dudes love foods. It’s a magical but simple formula. One of the greatest parts about showing love through food is that it doesn’t need to be a fancy or exhausting meal. A sandwich will get the job done. Seriously.

Cost: $0 (if you use the groceries you already have in your kitchen)

7. Underwear and Socks: I don’t know why or how, but men keep underwear and socks waaaay beyond their expiration date. If you don’t clean out that drawer, no one will. Buy him a pack of underwear and/or socks every few months.  I would highly advise against those “every few months” that you happen to surprise him with new underpants fall on holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Birthdays–that’s just cold. It might not be the most romantic thing that will happen all month, but it will definitely be appreciated.

Cost: $12.00

8. Love his Dog:

love his dogIf has a dog, love it. This means snuggling, walking, feeding, and bathing. If he doesn’t have a dog, be nice to his best human friend because he is important too.

Cost: $0

9. Surprise him with Notes: Leave notes in places you know he will find them—his pockets, wallet, in the silverware drawer to surprise him when he is least expecting it, especially if he’s been in a rough patch lately. Who better to be his number one cheerleader than you?!? Realize that these do not have to be lovey-dovey, kissy-kissy all the time. Funny notes are a great way to make anyone feel good quickly. Laughter is the best medicine.

Cost: $0.00

10. Be his #1 Fan:

soccer fan

If you can look past this handsome beefy bulldog, you will see that I am representing my man’s fan club at his soccer game on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Go beyond supporting his favorite college or professional sports team. If he is part of something he is proud of—soccer team, chess team, giving a speech at an important event, getting a promotion, standup comedian, in a band—you can show him you are proud of him too! Make it a point to attend his game or event, and make sure you also tell him how awesome you think he is.

Cost: $0.00

10. Cater his Parties: Whether he is hosting or attending, there is a good chance that this football marathon day or championship watch-party will need snacks and/or food to reach its full potential. Save him some stress and make him proud to be dating you by whipping up a dish to bring along. When you put extra effort (even if it is just a little bit extra) into keeping/making him and his friends happy, you are successfully showing him you love him.

Cost: $0-$20.00 (you might be able to use groceries you already have in your kitchen)

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Loving for free in your everyday life allows you to enjoy bigger life experiences without stressing about how you are going to pay for them.

Here is an example of one of our favorite ways to splurge on each other

Here is an example of one of our favorite ways to splurge on each other

 We want to know: How do you let your significant other know you think he/she is the bee’s knees without purchasing material gifts or buying dinner every weekend?

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 Brittany

Dinner Club Done Differently

One of the biggest possible downfalls of pulling your purse strings tight is that you may miss out on social events with all of your favorite people.  It may take a little creative thinking to find new ways to spend time (instead of money) with those closest to you, but if you truly value your friendships, the brainstorming sessions will be well worth it. For me, eliminating face time with my best friends has never been an option. This is one of the reasons I became a founding mother of a Dinner Club that allows me and my friends to see each other on a regular basis while still letting me adhere the financial goals I have set for myself.

Dinner club is not an original concept, and I am certainly aware of the fact that I am not the first person to decide that meeting your girlfriends once a month to eat delicious food (and drink a questionable about of wine) is an amazing idea. However, I do like to believe that the way my friends and I have done it over the past year (they are still doing it without me—pausing to wipe tears off my keyboard now—since I moved over 2,000 miles away from them) is one of the most enjoyable and affordable styles out there.  If you are looking for a comfortable, inexpensive, and hilarious night out with your girls, clubbin’ at the dinner table might be an excellent option for you!

dinner clubbin details

Who Attends: A small group of your closest friends—the people you are always excited to see and never feel like you get to spend enough time with are the ones you should be eating dinner with. At our dinner club no one cares if you show up to dinner club wearing no make-up, sweatpants, and maybe even a hint of B.O. from your just-completed work out. Your time is valuable, and you don’t want dinner club or its attendants to bring any stress or wasted time into your life. If you are going to go clubbin’ do it with the right crew who you feel 110% comfortable with and 120% happy around.

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Pick your favorite people to start your own regular at home dinner club with!

Where do you Meet and Eat: This is where the money is saved and the stress is alleviated—the metaphorical meat and potatoes of dinner club! Dinner clubbing expenses decrease dramatically when the festivities occur in someone’s home instead of a restaurant. A glass of wine at a restaurant will cost as much as a bottle (or box) from the grocery store.  Food markups at restaurants are also OUTRAGEOUS. Most restaurants have dishes in which the menu items are 100-200% more expensive than their original purchase price. And remember, if you are eating in public, you might need to brush your hair…

Our Dinner Club Secret Weapon:  The secret to saving even MORE money is that we all take turns being the hostess with the mostest. Because we are not attending dinner club at an actual restaurant, we rotate through our list of “members” and take turns not only hosting—but cooking. This has actually turned out to be a pretty great method because depending on the size and occurrence of meetings within your dinner club, you will only have to cook one to two times a year. Spending $50-$75 on dinner supplies once or twice a year to feed all of your friends is going to be cheaper than spending $20-$30 once a month to dine at a restaurant with them.

Another great part of having one person responsible for cooking each time you meet for dinner club is that the meal will be cohesive and well planned without the extra stress of coordinating or calling dibs on dishes that often occurs when potlucks are the method of supplying food.  Again you only have to be in charge of planning, buying, and prepping once or twice a year—the rest of the time, you are nothing but a guest and friend. Why would you do it any other way!?!?

Really, REALLY awesome hostesses will send you off from your final dinner club with a Harry Potter ice cream cake!! Also, note the "informal" dress code

Really, REALLY awesome hostesses will send you off from your final dinner club with a Harry Potter ice cream cake!! Also, note the “informal” dress code

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What are some of your favorite recipes and/or inexpensive ways to stay connected with your friends?

♥ Brittany

 

Giving Back on a Budget

When you’re getting out of debt and really motivated toward your goal, you don’t want to take even one cent away from your excess to pay toward your debt snowball. There is one exception: donating. Family members and friends will participate in various charity events over the course of your debt-payoff journey. You don’t want to miss out on helping the charity, your friends, or family due to your budget. Your contribution can be as small as $10 (which could come from your pay period spending money allowance) or as large as $100 depending on how your budget looks that month and how close your heart is to that charity.

Ways to donate without spending money:

  • Volunteer your time. You can volunteer at a local charity race/event, hospital, nursing home, hospice, etc. Volunteering your time is usually more rewarding than donating money. Girls on the Run is a great charity to volunteer for! Reading to a lonely nursing home resident or making a 4 year old cancer patient smile is more rewarding for you and for them than any amount of money you could give.
Our wonderful head coach and I!!

Our wonderful head coach and I!!

  • Run a race for Charity. As you know, this month I am running a marathon to raise money for the American Cancer Society (less than two weeks away!). I used a website called crowdrise.com to set up my fundraising profile for FREE! Family and friends are able to click on my link to donate to my cause and it goes straight to the ACS. Some websites offer discounts or free race entry fees when you participate for a fundraiser. This particular site did not.
OBX Marathon

OBX Marathon was my first marathon…unfortunately not for charity…just to see if I could do it!

How much do you donate?

  • This depends. How close are you to the charity or person you’re donating to?
  • For example: If your family is fundraising for a family member or a charity to raise money for an issue that has affected your family, feel free to take a big chunk from your debt snowball money and put it toward this one event. If it’s a distant family member participating in a walk for charity, donate $10-$25…every dollar counts!
  • REMEMBER: The amount you can donate is relative to the amount you make.  If you have $15 extra per month to pay toward debt, that’s the maximum amount that you should be donating.  If you donate beyond your means, it’s not helping anyone out, especially you!  If you have $1,500 extra, donate what you feel is appropriate for the event.

Besides the marathon for the American Cancer Society, a charity that is close to my heart right now is a fundraiser for my niece.  She was born micro-preemie (born at 28 weeks/weight of a 22 week old) and is now an adorable 10 month old. Medical bills have been mounting due to the health issues she has been facing throughout her little life.  Click here to read more.

Born 1 lb 4 oz.  That "bracelet" is her dad's wedding band!

Born 1 lb 4 oz. That “bracelet” is her dad’s wedding band!

Do something good for someone this week :-) Follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!

Sam

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The Art of Giving (While you are Saving)

Exciting things are happening around me every day, and much of the excitement is rooted in the happy happenings of the lives of the people that I love most.  Because celebrating these monumental events and congratulating and acknowledging the amazing accomplishments and milestones of my friends and family is extremely valuable to me, incorporating funding for gifts and a variety of shindigs into my budget is a top priority. I am really pumped about this post because giving people gifts they love is one of my favorite things to do, and I refuse to let a budget stop me from doing it well! This post describes the factors that impact how much I spend and where I pull money from so that a gifting purchase—even a larger one—doesn’t leave me with empty pockets at the end of the month.

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There are 5 main factors that influence how much money I will spend

1. Occasion: Why is this gift being given? Is it a best friend’s wedding, or is it a silly Christmas exchange within your close circle of friends that is actually more of an excuse to see each other?

2. Dedicated Planning/Personalization: If more love and thought is put into the gift, its high sentimental value decreases the amount of money you need to spend to achieve a wow factor. When gifts are given with some serious thought and consideration, the thought really does count!

3. The Relationship: What is the relationship between the gift-giver and the lucky receiver? It is likely that a person buying a wedding gift for her best friend and only sister will be spending more money that the person that is buying a wedding gift for a college friend that’s only been seen three times in the past year.

4. Research: Purposefully taking time to explore all possible retailers and places/ways to purchase a particular gift can really save money. Not only can you look for different deals, but in some cases you can barter.

5. Planning: Many gift-giving occasions are events that we can see coming from far away—i.e., weddings, baby gifts, birthdays, Christmas—long term planning often correlates with higher incidence of finding “the perfect gift” at a really good price because consciously searching for a longer period of time.

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How much money I need/want to spend determines what area of my budget I plan to pull from. There are 3 simple options when it comes to funding your gift/party expenses for the month:

1. Cash Envelope: For smaller celebrations and gifts, it is very easy to open your cash envelope for that pay period and use $20-$40 to buy a quality gift that fits the occasion.  The real bonus of this option is that you spend no extra money! You simply take money that was dedicated towards buying something for yourself and switch its purpose to buying something for someone else :)

2. Create a Short Term Fund: A strong budget is a disciplined and flexible budget.  Have a category on your budget spreadsheet that is designated for “gifts” or “extras”. Be aware that this category is not stable like rent. It will fluctuate from month to month, however it is important that you set a limit, and do what it takes to stay within your designated limit. There are a few different ways you can fund your gifts using this option:  

  • Envelope Rollover – Plan ahead and save $20-$50 from your cash envelope from few pay periods. This strategy switches the purpose of your spending envelope from yourself to someone else, just like option #1 did; however multiple weeks/months of saving is needed for larger occasions/gifts.
  • Chunk Fund – If your paycheck is big enough, and you don’t want to/can’t roll over envelope money, take a chunk straight from your paycheck, and put it directly into the category you have set aside for gifts. This is much easier, but comes with a different price—you will have less money left over for savings/debt snowball at the end of the month.

 3Mash Up: It’s not necessarily an “either/or” situation when it comes to using envelope money or short term designated funding.  It is completely okay to take some of the money you will use from your cash fund and put additionally money into the “gift” or “extras” fund. If what you really, really, want to get for someone can’t be bought with your allotted “gift” fund, absolutely take from your cash envelope to make it happen!

These are examples from my life. The occasion and relationship are usually the 2 main factors that impact how I will fund the gift purchase or celebration expenses

These are examples from my life. The occasion and relationship are usually the 2 main factors that impact how I will fund the gift purchase or celebration expenses

Here are some links to websites/webpages that have great ideas and options for quality gifts that won’t put a financial strain on you but will make it obvious you care:

Handmade Gift Ideas: http://www.everythingetsy.com/2011/08/101-simple-handmade-gift-tutorials/

Baby Gifts Ideas: http://www.everythingetsy.com/2012/03/101-handmade-baby-gift-tutorials/

Gifts for the Fellashttp://www.everythingetsy.com/2012/05/101-handmade-gifts-for-men-diy/

Gifts for your Girls: http://www.girlytwirly.com/

Unique/Personalized Giftshttp://www.notonthehighstreet.com/

We Want to Know: How do you give a great gift without overspending? 

Brittany

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