In the first part of this series, I mentioned a few rules of thumb to simplify gift giving. Our family loosely follows this one:
“Something they want,
Something they need,
Something to wear,
and Something to read”.
At the request of a reader, I’m sharing what gifts we are giving our two boys. As I said, we follow the 4 Gifts rule loosely. We’ve tweaked it to fit our family better – focusing a little more heavily on books and movies this year. We’re focusing on various media because Baby Boy #3 is due shortly after Christmas and books, movies, and music are ways we’ve found to easily connect and spend time with our boys. We’re also seeking to be very intention this year in giving our boys quality Christian materials.
Our boys are both toddlers. Our oldest, Nolan, is 3 1/2 years old (he’ll be 4 in March) and Asher, our youngest is 2 (Practically. His birthday is 10 days after Christmas.). Nolan is our baby philosopher – he can be occupied for house building and studying how things work, enjoys reading and asking dozens of questions per book, and is our deep thinker. Asher is equally bright- but completely opposite of his brother. Asher is always on the move, finding abundant joy in well-planned antics, dancing the moment the beat drops, and running, walking, and climbing.
What We’re Giving Our 3 1/2 Year Old (Nolan’s Gifts) –Lego Duplo Truck & Excavator Building Set – Each boy is getting one toy/toy set. Nolan has really been enjoying Duplos in recent months – and he loves construction vehicles. All Duplo sets are compatible with each other, so we’re adding to his collection with this fun set.
–The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden – One of our greatest delights as parents is teaching our boys God’s Word in a way that is understandable by children – without losing the depth and richness. Since Nolan’s birth the Jesus Storybook Bible has been a family favorite! It’s falling apart – literally – so each boy is getting a new Bible storybook. The Biggest Story is technically a little old for Nolan, but it will give us room for lots of discussion and room to grow into. The way the text is written is enthralling – and will definitely capture the attention of my thinker and wild imagination boy! Plus, the illustrations are colorful and captivating.
–Theo 5 DVD Set – Both boys will receive a movie or movie set. We have found a variety of educational shows that they enjoy on Amazon Prime, so we’re focusing on giving them DVDs this Christmas that are Gospel-rich. The Theo series is perfect…. classic Disney-style animation, beautiful soundtrack, solid theology, hymns, and condensed (but true to the Book) Bible stories, all neatly packed into 10-15 minute episodes that my big boy will be drawn into. This 5 DVD includes over 4 1/2 hours of these episodes.
–The Ology – Nolan especially enjoys listening to music in the van, so we’re giving him this new album from Sovereign Grace Music. The Ology walks through the high points of Christianity track by track, covering the concepts of the sovereignty of God, the reality of sin, the provision of a Savior, the return of Christ and more.
What We’re Giving Our 2 Year Old (Asher’s Gifts)
–Gas ‘n Go Mower – Asher loves helping with household chores and he loves push toys, so this toy was a perfect fit. Complete with gas canister, knobs and pulls, and fun sounds, this will keep him playing happily for a long time. –Big Picture Story Bible – For his “something to read” gift, Asher will receive the Big Picture Story Bible. I like the look of this one – colorful pictures and simple (but yet meaningful) text will hold the attention of my mover and shaker. –Praise Baby: Born to Worship – The Praise Baby series is similar to the now hard-to-find Baby Einstein series. Each DVD features fun colors, shapes, and pictures all set to calm praise and worship music. The DVD gives several playback options for the music: instrumental, children singing, or an adult vocalist.
Something to Wear For this category, we have traditionally given our boys matching Christmas pajamas. They will receive these as wrapped gifts on Christmas Eve. This time, I bought their PJs at Target on a buy-one-get-one sale several weeks ago. This is also a great way to slash the “something they need” category, too, by keeping them set on warm pajamas that fit their ever growing bodies.
Stockings We’re following a similar strategy as the 4 Gifts for the boys’ stockings (although I have no cute rhyme… ha!).
-This year they are both receiving Melissa & Doug Water Wows as their big stocking gift. Nolan’s is car themed and Asher’s features ocean creatures.
-I’m splitting up a special set of socks between the two of them (they are close enough in size that their sock size is the same!).
–Snacks. We’re going smart on this one and going easy on the sugary treats… Did you know that kids find other snacks to be special, too? 😉 The boys will each get some mini Larabar snacks and Apple Go-Go Squeeze pouches.
–Small toys. Asher has a stuffed puppy that has a special place in his heart. We’ve decided to give him the same puppy in another color as a fun stocking surprise. For Nolan, we picked up a couple Thomas Minis Mystery Trains.
We’re excited about the gifts we’re giving our boys… they are chosen intentionally and won’t add a lot of clutter to our home.
Leave a comment below and tell us what carefully chosen gifts you will give your children this year!
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Should you order through these links, we will receive a referral commission off your purchase from Amazon. Don’t worry- this does not affect the purchase price of the product. Thank you for helping support Canvas & Table and helping us create fresh content!
*Begin Jingle Bells*
It’s that time of the year, folks! Christmas is just weeks away and your Christmas shopping list is awaiting your magic touch. You pile into the car, swing through the driveway for a tall PSL or peppermint mocha, wait for an hour at the mall for a parking space to free up…. and then it hits you. You have no idea what to buy that special person on your shopping list. Drat.
*Cue Magic Harp Effect*
Not to worry. We’ve put together an expansive guide to help your Christmas shopping come to a satisfying end. (Gift wrap and shipping not included.)
Monthly Box Gifts A really fun trend right now are curated boxes, created to appeal to the special interests of your special person. Many of them offer 1 month or 3 month options (or you can go ahead and gift a full year if you budget accommodates).
•Ipsy. For the gal in your life who loves to experiment with makeup, Ipsy sends a cute little bag, plus 5 trial size makeup and skin care items. ($10/mo)
•LitJoy Crate. What a fun idea for your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, or other cool kid on your list. Each monthly box consists of 2 or 3 specially chosen books (that are selected based on the age of said cool kid, starting as young as 2 years old). Also included are special learning toys, snacks, or crafts ideas that go along with the book themes. ($29/mo)
•Harry’s. Help your dude stay sharp and gift him with fresh blades and shaving products. (Starting at $3/mo)
•Happy Mail (from A Beautiful Mess). With $50 worth of stationary, paper pads, wall artprints, and more, it’s completely obvious why this monthly box is called “Happy Mail”! They also offer a similar box that majors in craft supplies. (As low as $15/mo)
•She Reads Truth Autoship. Give the gift of intentional and focused time in God’s Word. Each month your recipient will receive at least one beautiful study guide (some for topical studies and some covering solitary books of the Bible). There’s a version for men as well. ($24/mo)
•Graze. For the person whose love language is food, send them a box full of specialty snacks. Boxes are customizable for likes and dislikes; however this is probably not ideal for people with nut or wheat allergies. ($11.99/mo)
•BarkBox. This is for the dog person on your list. Each box includes a special assortment of treats, toys, and other goodies especially for Fido. (Begins at $20/mo)
•Date Box. A great couples’ gift. Each box includes an assortment of specially curated date night activities (with a new theme each month, such as travel) to help couples plan more meaningful date nights at home. (Ranges from $27-$35/mo)
•FabFitFun Box. This is the “new thing” in boxes, because it is a huge box with tons of stuff (to the tune of $200 dollar’s worth) and it comes quarterly (but we’re putting it in here, anyway). Look out for some coupons as several have been offering them for up to $10 off your first box. (Ranges from $45-$50/quarter)
Gifts of Experience There’s a growing trend that we LOVE and that is giving gifts that don’t amount to simply more “things”. This is ideal for individuals who don’t really need anything, for those who are working towards minimalism, or for young families who might not need more toys, but would love to add to the treasury of family memories. Plus, in a culture of millennials who love to experience, you can hardly go wrong with one of these.
•Movie Tickets. Because everyone enjoys a show now and again!
•Concert Tickets. Consider giving this gift “early” and making it tickets to a special Christmas concert.
•Yearly Passes. Zoo, museum, aquarium, etc. would all be wonderful places to for individuals and families alike to visit several times over the course of a year.
•Travel Cube. Earmark money for travel and gift them this cube so they can begin saving for those trips they’ve been wanting to go on!
Gifts with a Purpose Some people prefer to have donations made in their honor to carefully selected charities or causes. If you aren’t sure where to start, take a look at this shortlist of some organizations we’ve selected:
•Compassion International. With donation options beginning at less than $10, this is a creative way to give to families in need around the world, equipping them with the skills & tools they need to get out of poverty.
•KOFAEL. This non-profit operates in Haiti, giving women micro-loans to help them start a business and prevent children from unnecessarily entering orphanages due to lack of income in the family.
•Show Hope. This organization both provides medical care to orphans in China and helps funds adoption aid & grants across the globe. With a belief in family preservation and reunification before adoption, due to the large amount of children in orphanages whose families simply can’t afford them, Show Hope stewards their contributions towards doing what is best for the child & family.
•King’s Ransom Foundation. An incredibly well-planned effort in some of the most impoverished places in the world to establish villages, improve the quality of life, and empower families to live sustainably within their community. Every penny goes directly to the actual effort, not administrative costs.
•Fair Trade Gifts. While not a direct monetary donation, it’s a nice way to purchase from international artisans and insure that they are being paid fairly, instead of being taken advantage of, for cheap labor. Look up Ten Thousand Villages, Fair Indigo, or Global Goods Partners to get started. You’ll find everything from home goods, coffee, chocolate, jewelry and beyond.
Good Reads For the person in your life who loves a good book, consider these gift options: •Personal Library Kit. The perfect gift for the friend who has an extensive library and hates losing their books to friends who don’t return, this kit is a great way to make your friend laugh and set them up to start enjoying lending out books again with this fun library retention set.
•A Book Lover’s Journal. This journal is the perfect tool for the die-hard book fan, who wants to keep a record of the books they’ve read, journal their reviews, and much, more more.
•Bookworm Journal. Much like the above-mentioned journal, this is perfect for kids and their parents to enjoy together!
•Snack Kits. Have you ever been invited to a reading party? Something you’re sure to find is some snacks to enhance the experience. Give you gift-loving friend the gift of reading snacks- choose from all natural snack kits, cheese and meat samplers, fruit trays, tea sets, and more.
•Magnolia Story. Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, Texas have been a smashing success from the dynamic duo behind HGTV’s Fixer Upper. Their story of faith is hilarious, heart-warming, and may make you shed a tear or two.
•Farm Anatomy. A super fun guide to all things agriculture for families to look through.
•The Compound Effect. Have an entrepreneur on your gift list? This book from the man at the helm of SUCCESS magazine is an affordable way to help your friend or family member make the most of the coming year, with tried and true success strategies for compounding the results of your efforts.
•How to Win Friends and Influence People. Give the gift of time-honored personal development training.
•StrengthsFinder 2.0. For the person in your life who loves learning more about themselves, this nationally best-selling program gives them access to discovering their top 5 natural strengths.
•The Best Yes. This book comes from the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and is the perfect gift for the woman in your life seeking to grow in making wise decisions about what she puts her hands to.
•Daily Devotional. Want to give a gift that last all year long? Consider these choices from Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, Charles Stanley, A.W. Tozer, Myles Munroe, Beth Moore, and more.
•Sacred Marriage. Perfect for the Christian couples in your life, married and unmarried, the premise of this book is, “what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”.
•The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings. Oldies but goodies, these book sets are perfect for the fantasy lover in your life.
Gag Gifts Everyone knows that person who loves to give and receive humorous gifts- and if that’s you (or the person on your list), look no further! We’ve got you covered. •Hangry Kits. That’s right; there is no better way to tell someone that sometimes they can tend to get a bit cranky when they’re hungry than with a fantastic Hangry kit, a box simply filled with plenty of packages for a snack attack. This is ideal for you not-so-health-conscious friend who regularly experiences snacking emergencies.
•Coffee Brewer + Shower Head Combo. It might seem a bit outlandish to spend nearly $7 on a box, but giving your friend or family member a coffee maker-showerhead combo (with your real gift inside this Prank Pack) and seeing all the looks you get is so worth it. Perfect for that person who loves time management or coffee a liiiittle too much.
•An Attachable Arm. iArm, another Prank Pack, gives the phone or tablet lover in your life something that pokes fun at how much they love their technology.
•Bacon Bandages. Know someone who really loves bacon? Get them the bandages to make them feel better all throughout the year.
•Muffin Tops silicone muffin molds. One word: Minions.
•Like and Dislike Stamps. Perfect for your opinionated friends with pent-up energy this election season!
•Unicorn Gold Toilet Spray. This toilet spray is for before-you-squat and great for practical use & giggles. Want to make a DIY version? Try our fabulous recipe here.
•Mermaid Tail Blanket. Oh, it’s a very real trend and some woman in your life would love to have one, too.
•Exploding Kittens. The game that has taken young adults everywhere by storm, this is perfect for the millennial crowd to have some fun staying alive to win it all.
•Pie Face. Another of the year’s most popular games, this game is great for children and adults alike who don’t care about getting their faces dirty.
•Watch Ya’ Mouth. The last of this year’s big hitters, this game is much more sanitary than you might think- it includes 10 mouth retractors (to be washed after each game, of course) and is a sure way to make the entire family roll laughing (be sure to watching the video at this link to fully understand the game).
•Battle of the Sexes. This oldie-but-goodie is great for gatherings, pitting men and women against one another in a game of gender-based common knowledge.
•Pandemic. A fun, yet very challenging cooperative board game.
•Machi Koro. Build your city by collecting cards and rolling dice in this boardless Monopoly-type concept.
•Qwixx. It’s similar to Yahtzee, but with faster game play.
•Ticket to Ride. Highly entertaining and less cut-throat alternative to Risk, your goal is to build your railroad across the country as you follow your mission cards.
•Catan Dice Game. A super light version of the classic strategy game.
•The Game of Life – Electronic Banking. It’s the classic board game – without hundreds of pieces of paper money.
For the Men •Tree Hut Handmade Wooden Watches. This is such a unique and sharp idea, using bands and watch faces made from bamboo.)
•Slow brand Watches. While this is definitely more of a splurge gift, it’s an unusual concept. Slow Watches utilize a 24 hour watch face to aid you in better pacing your day and budgeting your time.
•Watch Case. A true watch lover has more than a couple watches in his collection, and this case is everything you need to take your guy’s watch game to another level.
•Qalo Silicone Wedding Rings. These rings are perfect for the guy who loves to hike, run, or has an intense occupation that could cause damage to his “nice” wedding band. Because they are silicone, they accommodate for fingers swollen from the heat better than traditional rings. These are super affordable, providing him a way to still wear a ring, without risking an expensive replacement.
•Nice Messenger Bag. Perfect for the guy that needs his laptop available on the go, this sleek design is perfect for the student or tech guy looking to look smart and fashionable and upgrade from a backpack.
•Briefcase. The businessman in your life would appreciate this sturdy man bag, which allows plenty of space for paperwork, gadgets, a computer, and more, while providing a look of finesse at a practical price.
•Beard Balm. For that guy who rocks the beard, help him keep it groomed and soft. •Beard Oil. A favorite for all bearded men, help them take care of their hair and skin with some essential oil love. (Use our number, 1602685, in both boxes when you order)
•Nintendo Nes Classic Edition. Provide a little retro fun with this blast from the past!
•XBOX One or Playstation 4. Get the guy in your life the most up-to-date console if he enjoys current games and needs a new system.
•Beats Studio Wireless Over-Ear Headphones. You saw Michael Phelps with them at the Summer 2016 Olympics. Why? Because over-ear headphones are all the rage right now and Beats can’t be beat! If your guy loves headphones, he probably wants these. If he prefers ones better for being active, try these instead.
•Tile Key Finder. Because no one likes lost keys and it connects to your smartphone.
For the Women •Adult Coloring Books. If the woman you’re shopping for is artistic, she is likely to be all about the adult coloring book craze and would be more than happy to get some more to add to her collection.
•Little House on the Prairie Coloring Book. If she loves coloring and literature, the beautiful and quaint pictures from the well-loved Little House on the Prairie series will be just perfect for her! •Watercolor Pencils. Making water colors cool and easy for adults to use, too!
•Creative Journaling Bible. Let her color and draw in this form of artistic worship in a specially-made Bible, just for this purpose.
•Write the Word Journals. Perfect for those who aren’t artistically bent but love writing, this journal is beautiful and simple.
•A Planner. Set the planner in your life up with something they will absolutely adore all year long!
•Artistic prints. Try one of these or something on Etsy to add some color to the life of the person you’re shopping for.
•New makeup. Check out a list of some favorites here.
•Essential Oils Creme Masque. Give the lady in your life something luxurious for her skin with this fantastic creme masque from Young Living. (Use our number, 1602685, in both boxes when you order)
•Qalo Silicone Wedding Rings. These rings are also great for the athlete, nurse, hairdresser, or stay-at-home-mom-who-washes-dishes-all-day on your list- or anyone else who doesn’t want to risk snagging or dinging their nice ring during their workday.
•Bath Bombs. For any woman interested in relaxing!
•Modern Initial Canvas Tote. These totes are well rated, fabulous, and perfect for the woman who loves a bag in your life.
•Bluetooth Shower Speaker. Because singing in the shower is fun! AND, this is the best way to enjoy a bubble bath with those bath bombs.
•Himalayan Salt Lamp. These are all the rage this year, so be sure to get these for the woman who likes to keep it natural and fresh.
•She Believed She Could So She Did Socks. Perfect for the student, athlete, businesswoman, mom, or just about any woman in your life, these inspirational socks will help the lady you’re buying for feel loved, supported, and believed in. •Hipster Beanie. Help your dearest hipster stay warm this winter with these fabulous beanies.
•Travel Toiletry Hanging Case. Great for the adventurous student, traveling businesswoman, or anyone in your life that stays away from home from time to time, this bag with help her stay put together.
•Fingerless Mittens. These cute and stylish mittens are perfect for staying warm and fashionable.
•Essential Oils Diffuser. A new diffuser is a great gift for any lady- and make sure to get her some oils while you’re at it, too!
For the Kids •Noah: A Wordless Picture Book. A truly stunning visual for the Biblical story of Noah, containing only pictures. What a great way for children to follow along, as parents teach this story to them.
•Melissa and Doug Car Carrier. Many kids love this delightfully simple wooden car carrier!
•Count Your Chickens. This is a great introductory board game for youngsters- and we love the fact that it incorporates cooperative game play.
•Theo. This simple, wonderful Biblical storytelling is great for fascinating your children when they get too old for nap time but still need some rest time.
•Soccer Ball. Soccer is only becoming more popular- get a new ball for the little athlete in your life.
•Hatchimals. If you’re in the know about this year’s biggest toy craze, you know these hatching animal toys are almost completely sold out everywhere, leading to a parental craze of stalking all the nearest stores, awaiting new inventory. Due to that, prices are really high at retailers outside of your Target/Toys R Us/Walmart, but stay tuned for when these toys go back to their normal pricing.
•Art Set. The artistic child in your life would love this 131-piece art set, perfect for the budding artist.
•Melissa & Doug Stamp Set. Help them get creative with stamps!
•Melissa & Doug Beading Set. Get one of these for the young girls in your life.
•Pop-up Princess Castle. Great for napping or playing, this adorable castle is perfect for the little princess in your life.
•Pop-Up Play Tent. Let them play with two play areas and a tunnel! •Walkie Talkies. The intrigue of walkie talkies is still alive for many kids today. Help them explore and imagine with this fun short-range radio.
•Magnet Globe Set. Want to make magnets and globes cool again? Take one look at this, perfect for any child’s room!
•Essential Oils Diffuser. For the oily kids in your life, get them their very own diffuser.
•LED Touch Nightlight. Perfect for kids of any age, this touch nightlight is a great way to add ambiance and a feeling of safety to the room of any kid you know.
•Science Kit. Help the adventurous and intellectual alike learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) principles with this fun kit.
•Race Car Track. Help the real little ones have fun racing with this car track.
•Remote Control Car. Help the older ones race and improve their reaction skills with this gift we all wanted as children.
•LEGO Star Wars Kit. Let them build it with this Star Wars speeder kit.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Should you order through these links, we will receive a referral commission off your purchase from Amazon. Don’t worry- this does not affect the purchase price of the product. Thank you for helping support Canvas & Table and helping us create fresh content!
I’m a people watcher. I’m really not trying to be rude… I’m simply intrigued by the personalities various people have and the way they interact with others. So, not surprisingly, I found myself people-watching in the slow-moving check out line at Wal-Mart one day. Directly in front of me was a mother and a couple of her teenage daughters. As they emptied their overflowing carts onto the conveyer belt, the following conversation ensued: “Ugh! Look at all of this crap food. It’s embarrassing!” You could tell they felt that the food they were buying wasn’t the best and regretted the effect on their health, but likely their reasoning would be the belief that it costs much less than healthier options.
Next to the belief that a gigantic bowl of “whole grain” cereal is a healthy breakfast, I think the greatest myth we believe when it comes to food is that eating healthy means added expense. Eating well does not have to cost you any more – and with a little work, will likely cost less. Case in point: Three years ago we made some pretty major eating changes. As I piled my cart with more protein and produce and fewer packages, I really anticipated my grocery bill to be higher. Instead my bill was less on average. What?!
So, what are some easy tips to follow to make eating healthy a possibility on your budget?
Choose your store wisely. Shopping at Aldi has been the single best decision for our grocery budget. On average my grocery shops are about 30% less than I would spend for the same thing at any other grocery store. Obviously, not everyone has one located conveniently, so consider your local options for budget friendly shopping.
Shop in season. It’s not new advice, but it can save a lot of money to enjoy produce that’s currently in season
Shop the ads. Plan your weekly menu around the weekly specials where you shop. Remember: the goal is eating healthy food. Focus on those produce and protein pages of the flyers.
Cut the junk food. Junk food isn’t good for you, doesn’t truly fill you up, and it’s expensive.
Consider shopping at Sam’s or Costco on a regular basis. Prices for meats, fruit, and veggies can be hard to beat at these stores. Let me advise you to make a list before you go and really stick with it! It’s super easy to get sidetracked and overly attached to seasonal gift sets, beautiful (and giant bottles) of shampoo, etc. That kind of shopping won’t save you money.
Take an honest look at your fridge and pantry and determine whether you NEED to go shopping or not. How often have you (or I!) stared into the refrigerator and bemoaned the fact that there was nothing to eat… when really there was. Before you go shopping, look through the food you already have and honestly evaluate what you have to work with. You’ll most likely find that you have plenty of meals waiting for you to put together.
Comment below and tell us your favorite grocery budget-slashing, health-increasing tip!
We are almost halfway to Christmas now, can you believe it? These hot summer days make the cold and wintry nights that typically surround Christmastime feel so far away. Yet, I’ve come to you today to share one of the things I started doing early in my marriage that has made gift giving much easier- especially at Christmastime.
I love figuring out the type of gift someone wants. If I don’t have them on my Pinterest feed, then I do my best to figure out the type of personality they are and what they enjoy. I feel like I am a pretty good gift giver, as such, and one fallacy I refuse to believe is that to give a great gift, you have to go out and custom-buy everything for that single person.
That’s why I love having a gift stash. Besides being absolutely perfect for those Christmastime Dirty Santa parties, a gift stash gives you a little pile of gifts to choose from for that birthday party that just came up or that person you just want to cheer up a bit. This stash may come from different places- maybe a fun deal at the store that seems like it would be a perfect gift for someone, maybe even a (*gasp*) regift.
Building a gift stash gives a base to choose gifts from. In the instances when there is no right or “perfect” gift, I still buy gifts for people, yet quite often I have the perfect gift in my stash. This makes the holidays easier, not to mention those months that seem to have a bazillion birthdays easier.
Keep your gift stash organized by creating a shelf or a bin you can keep these gif tables stashed away in- and watch your life get easier!
The American Dream…it’s something that is defined by the essence of the ability to become anything you want to be. Whether or not you are speaking to Americans, the desire to follow one’s dream and be successful is shared across all cultures. But what does it take to actually take the leap from “working for the man” to doing your own thing?
Here are five basic things that are needed at the basis of any entrepreneurial pursuit to set one up for long-lasting success:
Choose something that you would want to do for free. Starting a business that is going to have staying power takes doing something you are passionate about. Imagine being five years down the road, making a moderate amount of money- would you still want to do it? If the answer is no, this isn’t your “forever” thing.
Be prepared for the business to take time to grow. Different business coaches lay out different timelines, but most say you should be prepared to not be profitable for a year to two years’ time. That means your business may operate on the side for you to make it financially. As long as #1 is in place, it’s a doable way to live for a certain amount of time.
Be prepared for some criticism. Your friends & family may not love that you are going into business for yourself- and that doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Have the grace and understanding to recognize that not everyone has followed your path, so perhaps there may be a lack of understanding there that results in unwanted advice (including suggestions to try to get a job here or there, where “you could make more money”).
Make a business plan. There are many, many businesses that fail within their first five years in operation. A good chunk of those failures could be contributed to a lack of planning. A business plan provides you with ways to forecast ahead of where you are, so you lessen the chances of making poor decisions with your business.
Recognize that your business will require sacrifice. The phrase, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” is very applicable here. You aren’t going to be able to keep all of the proceeds of your business (and you will likely be pouring a lot of money that isn’t coming from the business into it at first); you are going to have less time available (at least for awhile); you are going to have to allow your beliefs about business-building to be challenged, stretched, and changed. These are all positives that may be very hard at the time, but it is absolutely part of what it takes to begin your own business venture.
These five things are essential foundations to anyone truly desiring to go into business for themselves, whether by starting a company with employees, starting a business venture with skills, or becoming an independent contractor of some sort, even with work-from-home businesses. If you are ready for all five of these, go for it, and enjoy the ability we have in our society to easily begin our own business ventures!
When my husband and I were first married, we were given several pieces of furniture and a generous abundance of home goods. Our cute 800 square foot sky blue 1950s bungalow house was perfect. Every room and corner was cozy and decorated precisely the way we liked it. Fast forward four years and several moves and we’ve found ourselves with more than 1200 additional square feet and some pieces that are flat worn out and we’re starting with a clean slate.
We’ve finalized a few rooms and have some more progress yet to be made. Along the way we’ve come up with some simple steps to make the process easier and to help it seem less daunting.
One room at a time. Use this method to prioritize your plan of attack. Do you want to focus on your favorite room first? Your highest traffic areas? Rooms that need the least work? Most work?
Plan like crazy. Walk through some furniture stores. Visit a model home. Scour Pinterest. Take time to figure out what you like and why you like it. If you have an oddly shaped room or a unique storage challenge take time to find out what other people have done with a similar issue. I highly recommend making a Pinterest board for your project and pinning your most favorite ideas for quick reference (and to make sure your idea mesh well).
Budget. Determine what you’re willing to spend to make your ideas come to life. Be realistic. (But also allow yourself to invest in pieces here and there that will last if your budget allows!)
Baby steps. Unless you just came into a windfall, you probably aren’t going be able to complete every single item on your list. Content yourself with baby steps. You may only tackle an item per month… but you’re still gaining on your final goal. Putting curtains up here, paint a wall there, hang a new picture up on that wall…. before you know it the entire landscape has completely changed.
Be mindful of seasons. No, I don’t mean fall or spring. I mean to be aware of the season of life you find yourself in. If you have young children, it may not be the season to invest in an expensive living room set (maybe you can find a budget-friendly option to take the brunt of heavy use and splurge on another set down the road). Maybe you’re in a rental and know that you’ll be moving into a different space in a short period of time. This might be the time to come up with creative solutions with items you already have or spending minimally on solutions for odd corners or small spaces.
Leave a comment below and tell us your favorite tips for making decorating a manageable task!
I’ve gone through my fair share on financial seasons. There was the just-starting-out-and-saving-for-a-car season, the traveling-and-mission-trips-galore season, the moving-overseas season, the broke-moving-and-planning-a-wedding season, the newlywed season, and the saving-for-a-house season, and more to boot. I’ve been blessed to be able to eat out without a concern in the world at times and I’ve pinched two pennies together for dear life in others.
I’m pretty big on recognizing seasons and the things they usher in. For some reason, the start of this year really made me consider my goals and seasons in many different parts of life (I went into detail on that in a very reflective post last month). When it came to money, there was something that absolutely made sense to me, although I hadn’t realized I’d been doing it before.
I’m a big believer in budgeting and budgets (a post on that here), knowing when to spend and when to save, and the necessity of fitting fun things, like trips, into the budget (post on that here). Yes, I appreciate budgets and financial planning. But there is a downfall in basic budgeting that many that don’t share my love for fiscal planning often agree upon…budgeting can be boring and tedious. Sometimes, it feels like you are losing inspiration and you’re just stuck. Why not take that money you are trying to put towards retirement and buy a new TV? The fact is, budgeting is a tool, which means it can and will feel like work, sometimes. Without something more, budgeting will either easily become a part of your life or be a constant struggle, depending on who you are. Either way, it is easy to get stuck in a rut and not truly appreciate the lifestyle your budget provides (especially in the not-fun-in-the-beginning exchanges, such as a lifestyle of less eating out in exchange for greater financial freedom). In order for there to be true inspiration and vision, you have to have a goal. Where are you going with your money? Here are a few simple tips I’ve adapted to provide inspiration and purpose to my budget on a yearly basis:
Create a time-centered goal. Having a financial goal for every year creates purpose that ends up shaping your financial transactions for the entire year. There may be times when you need to create a multi-pronged plan, if you are going to complete your immediate goal in the middle of the year. My entire financial life centered upon buying my first car when I first entered the workforce. I made that my goal, figured out in my budget that it would take me a year, and that made sticking to my day-to-day budget (and working) easier and more purposeful. Doing something that’s good for you, like budgeting, without having a “why and what for” in mind makes it difficult.
Take the time to figure out what is truly feasible, in order to not set yourself up for failure. Planning on paying off your debts with a ridiculous percentage of your income is probably not feasible, yet people often jump to creating a shoe-string budget when they talk about big financial goals. That is a recipe for failure. You have to make room for life in your budget, or you will be constantly frustrated and very likely to give up on your goal. It is better to take a step back and figure out a plan you can succeed at executing in order to provide encouragement as you work towards that goal, instead of frustration over the fact that you are falling short. It is better to be more conservative and to be able to put extra towards the goal every once in awhile than to make a goal you cannot hit.
Take time to decide what you really want. Oftentimes, we have multiple things vying for our attention. Should we be working exclusively towards being debt-free, or should we be building up to buy a house? Should we be taking on student loans or waiting to have a baby? Despite all the advice in the world on what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your money, you are only going to feel inspired to continue to work towards your goals if you are in agreement with the plan. If you’re married, take the time to come to an agreement on a plan that suits both of you, so that if times get tough and you need to refigure the finances a bit, both of you have the same respect and desire for the goal as the other.
Put that goal in front of you and talk about it. When I was working towards moving overseas, I had half a year to prepare financially. I knew how much I needed and I tracked where I was at on a weekly or biweekly basis. If you are married, this is a great thing to discuss with your spouse in a no-pressure conversation (think dreaming, not stressing). Talking to yourself or someone trusted provides great inspiration and helps keep your goal in mind- for those times you may be tempted to take some money out of the growing savings pot and using it for something more fleeting. Don’t pressure yourself by obsessing about it, but keep the goal in mind so when you have to say “no” to other things so you can can continue to say “yes” to your year’s goal, it is easier to do so.
What are some of the ways you keep your financial goals in front of you for inspiration?
I’m completely infatuated with Christmas trees. We have no less that six scattered through our house. For a year now I’ve been planning and scheming about Tree #6. It’s finally up and I’m so excited to share this idea with you.
So many of us take quick snapshots on our cameras and phones. Many of us have Instagram and take it upon ourselves to share our daily life with our friends (or the world) with pictures…. but they stay trapped in the tangled web of internet.
Today, I’m sharing a fun, simple, customizable, super easy, and budget-friendly solution. Sold? If you only tackle one DIY project this holiday season, let this be the one.
Here’s all you have to do:
Go to Snapfish (or another print source) and link your Instagram account. Select the photos from the year that mark your most memorable moments and have them mailed to you.
When your prints arrive attach a clip of some kind and a piece of string to the picture. (I used bulldog clips that I bought for cheap in bulk on Amazon, but you can keep it even more simple by sliding on a paper clip.)
Hang the pictures on your Christmas tree.
See? Wasn’t that easy?
Our tree is scattered with so many precious and fun memories: a new baby, meeting great-grandparents, camping trips, a new puppy, birthdays, date nights, even well-checks at the pediatrician. Every time we walk past the tree we are warmed with special memories from the year- even my toddlers love taking time to look at the pictures.
Vacations and trips, how we all love them! Unfortunately, our pocketbooks are rarely accommodating. How, then, do we make sure to make fun, adventure, and new experiences a regular part of our lives without going over budget?
My husband & I have family out of state and overseas, which moves traveling from the “want” category to “need”. We believe we need to make sure we are regularly spending time with our family, even when that means a trip across the world. Here are a few key elements we have added into our budgeting life to make sure we can afford trips to not only see family, but also to trips to celebrate our anniversary, and even go on small little getaways:
Limit eating out. We live in a culture that is all about eating out, but taking a moment to add up those bills quickly proves that a little restraint in this department can really aid in helping to save up cash for other experiences. We enjoy eating out, but we give ourselves a number of times we will eat out per month (which is a maximum, not a number we aim for- birthdays and business lunches not included, as we budget for those type of things separately). Just as in with any healthy lifestyle choice, this isn’t about deprivation; this is about setting limits on a fun activity to create money for more fun activities.
Limit shopping. We rarely buy things needlessly. Does that mean we never shop for fun? No, not at all. However, our “fun” shopping comes out of another budgeted category (which I go into more detail about in this post), and we don’t spend above that amount, meaning fun shopping does not touch potential trip money, because it is already designated as fun shopping money.
Set a trip calendar close to a year in advance. We regularly plan all the trips we would like to take at the beginning of every year. We go in depth, as if the sky is the limit, writing down every trip we would actually like to take within the year, then prioritize. A good half of our trips don’t make the cut, but we always make sure a trip to see each side of the family, a trip for us (usually for our anniversary), and a weekend trip remain. Having trips on the calendar well in advance allows for time to save for them! I highly recommend having a trip budget as one of your budget categories (mentioned more here) if you travel even as close to as much as we do, but time is also crucial in making sure the finances are prepared for such trips.
Shop for deals. We are all about using our airline miles for hotel rooms, shopping on Expedia, and looking for the cheapest + best-reviewed rooms. I’m big about knowing where I am staying in advance, so I’m not a big fan of sites like Hotwire, but many are, so I recommend considering that, as well. When looking at activities to do on your trip, check out the reviews on a site like TripAdvisor- many will mention available coupons! Many museums have certain days of the month with discounted days, and some banks, like Bank of America, offer free admission to select museums on certain weekends. We’ve planned our trips, in the past, to make sure we hit as many of these dates as possible for maximum savings.
Trips and vacations are fun, and we really see the value in sharing experiences and not just buying things. We will splurge for a fancy meal for a special occasion, but our “normal” living is very budgeted to make room in our finances for special times. Implementing these four things into our lives have helped us go on more than one trip, and I hope they will help you, too!
Early in our marriage, my husband and I had an opportunity to attended a weekly seminar called Financial Peace University. Throughout the nine weeks we attended, we had some basic financial principals reinforced and learned other wise tips about handling our funds well. As a new couple, it was really helpful to make sure we were on the same page when it came to money. One of the – if not the – most important concepts we learned about was that of the emergency fund.
We quickly learned the value of having a fully stocked emergency fund when we had to replace our roof (with just one month’s notice!) and cover an insurance deductible within a two month window. Life was stressful enough without worrying about finances or taking on debt! The emergency fund provided peace of mind and financial stability in one.
What is an emergency fund?
Initially, an emergency fund is a $1,000 fund that you keep separate from other savings and funds (down the road, your goal is to have at least three months worth of expenses in the bank). You need to keep these funds easily accessible. There’s a place for investing money – this chunk of change is not intended for that.
What is an emergency fund for?
It should be obvious… it’s for emergencies, but we all need a down-to-earth reminder that emergencies are things like the car breaking down, the refrigerator going out, and unexpected medical costs. Things like birthdays, Christmas, and children needing new clothes are not unexpected. Plan ahead and use a coupon or even thrift shop for those, if it’s a stretch. The emergency fund should only be used for true emergencies.
How do I build an emergency fund?
When we first determined to build an emergency fund, there was no extra money in the budget. None. For us it meant diligently putting my husband’s quarterly bonuses in savings until our desired amount was reached. Prioritize important financial goals! Don’t underestimate the power of a garage sale or selling off a few things here and there that you don’t need or use any more in building up your emergency fund.
Dave Ramsey, the creator of Financial Peace University, has a handbook for Financial Peace University called Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money. I really encourage you to get a copy and read it. You can also check out one of our past posts on more of the principles found in Financial Peace University.
Have you experienced a time when having an emergency fund has been a financial life-saver? Comment below & tell us about it!
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