Grocery Sense: What NOT to Buy

Pardon my rant here. I really am not better than anyone else, and I don’t want to ever come across that way. But some things kind of get me going. =)

My roommate and I went to Wal-Mart last night (because Aldi was closed) to buy groceries for the week. We have our little list of 10 items, and we go in search of them. All the while my attention is being drawn to these young couples with kids hanging off their carts.

But it wasn’t the kids that caught my eye.

It was the food inside of their carts! It looked nothing like the picture above, that’s for sure!

I am 100% sure I make some grocery buying blunders sometimes. The occasional box of cookies or the occasional 2 liter of Pepsi but I have to admit that I don’t make these kind of mistakes on  a regular basis….

-Bottles of soda and fake juice hanging all along the edges of the cart
-Boxes and boxes of name brand sugar cereal
-4 or 5 frozen pizzas
-Boxes of different kinds of cookies
-Honey buns and, of course….
-Lots of frozen dinners

I’m sure this wasn’t all of it but my guess is that if people would take a little TIME to really cook that they’d be healthier and also save a little cash money. I know we all live busy lives, but I’m sure if we’d take a good look that we’d see it’s definitely worth it.

Maybe I’m wrong…I know I’ve only been living on my own for a week but I know my parents cooked from scratch way more often than putting some pre-cooked chicken wings in the oven and also tended to not buy the boxed brand named cereal when they could get the off-brand bags for a better deal. And soda, well….it’s just bad for you.

I’d say that the craving I get most often to waste money on at the store is some good ice cream. Yumm…there’s just nothing like it. Especially Braum’s ice cream. You might not have them in your area but if you did you’d wanna go on a weekly basis!

It’s amazing how much health and money sometimes go hand in hand.

What do you think? What are some big money and health traps at the grocery store?

Juggling It All

I remember there was this time when I was young when I found myself whining, “I’m boooooooooooooooored” to my mom and dad. It usually happened about 2 weeks into summer when I was tired of doing all of the “out-of-school-summer-fun” already. But it probably happened on the weekends too. I just didn’t know what to do with myself!

My how things have changed! I can’t remember the last time I said those words now. There’s just so much to do! Always. I am fairly certain I could keep myself occupied for 24 hours out of the 24 hour day if I could. Sometimes I hate sleep.

Our hours are filled with working, playing, learning, relating, eating, sleeping and a thing I like to call bettering. 😉 But whatever our hours are filled up with there’s one thing that is for sure–we don’t want to drop any of these. There may be seasons when we have to focus a little bit less on a certain area but we have to keep them in our lives regardless of how busy we are because that’s why they are there in the first place: they’re important to us.

So we juggle.

I juggle.
Today I juggled the fact it was a Monday with the fact I am moving this Saturday with the fact I had to be at work for 8 1/2 hours with the fact I want to spend time with my family with the fact American Idol was on tonight with the fact that since I am moving this weekend I need to get all my homework done before then with the fact my eyes hurt from already looking at a computer all day with the fact it’s such a beautiful day I just want to go outside with the fact I didn’t write a blog this morning so I want to tonight with the fact I got a new cell phone and I just want to play with it!

It could seem like it’s all so much that something’s got to give. But…it doesn’t. Necessarily. All of it’s possible. And yes, it’s a struggle, but when you set your mind and heart to it you can handle anything. And you can handle it well.

But it won’t just happen. We have to make it happen.

We have to set priorities and plans. Even if that’s a quick jot-down in the morning of what you want to do that day and how you’re going to get it all done. When you get into a routine like this the juggling becomes less and less of a struggle and more and more of an enjoyment. You feel satisfied. Accomplished. Energized. Ready to move forward some more.

We don’t have to give up things we love for other things we love or certain goals for other goals. We can handle more than we think we can…and we can handle it with a smile and with poise. 😉

How do you juggle everything in your life and keep a right heart at the same time?

Good Intentions Aren’t Enough

I have to admit I haven’t been to the gym in at least one week. And I stopped tracking my food probably two weeks ago. Yes, I am paying to be a part of a gym so you’d think this would motivate me, but they got me when they gave me the first month for “free.” So I am less motivated.

I tell myself I will start going everyday when I finally move into my apartment (which happens to be right across the street from this fitness center.) And…I will.

But in the mean time, I’ve realized my good intentions aren’t enough. They fall miserably short compared to good actions.

It’s great to sit around and think and write and plan. I love it. But there’s this thing called “action” that simply can’t be beat. Anyone who gets up and acts is far better than the one who sits around and only plans. This applies to all areas of life: health, finances, relationships, and even your spiritual life.

I need to get more serious about my health. I really want to lay out some goals and deadlines and work daily towards achieving those. It comes easy to me with my finances for some reason but not so much with my health. I find myself eating those chocolates and skimping out on trips to the gym whenever I feel like it.

It starts with good intentions. Leads to good actions. And ends with good results.

This is the only way.

How do you jump the hurdle of good intentions to good actions? Any tips?

Does It Have to Come Naturally?

So yesterday I tweeted this. And I realized that the reason I do this is because investments don’t come naturally to me. The how, what, when, where and why are all questions that haunt me when it comes to “investing.”  So I got to thinking about how I apply the same logic to much of life.

I love life a lot.

But it scares me to think I may just love it cause it’s so easy right now. Everything is coming so naturally.

Just like I love reading personal finance blogs when they are easy for me to understand. Talk about budgets and frugality and saving and spending and insurance and all of those kinds of things is relatively easy for me to understand in comparison to investing. I’ve only heard the terms mutual funds and EFTs.

[Though I invested in my first penny stock last December. Nothing serious.]

So what comes naturally is obviously easier than what comes with a little bit of effort. But think of all the things we could be missing out on! All of the things that if we just took the time to learn we could enjoy just as much as we are enjoying all of the things that come naturally to us.

Maybe it’s an art like playing the piano or painting or writing poetry or fiction or starting to blog.
Maybe it’s teaching others.
Maybe it’s going out of our way to serve or give our time, money or ears.
Maybe it’s becoming a personal trainer, counselor or preacher.
Maybe it is finally starting a budget or starting to eat healthy.

For some, these things come naturally. And for others, it doesn’t. But why let what doesn’t come naturally to you stop you from enjoying it? Go ahead and take the time to learn it and reap the fruits of  your labor.

I’m going to do that with investments but there are a lot more important things I’m going to do that with too.

What kinds of things do you know you would enjoy if you weren’t so uncomfortable with it at first? What will it take to learn about it enough to start enjoying it?

First Trip to the Gym

I know I go back and forth in this blog and talk about lots of different things like life and love and health and finances, but all of it intrigues me so much. I hope it’s OK with all you readers. 😉 My goal is to help people live a better life in all areas and there are just so many!

So Sunday I took my first trip to the gym I am a new member of and left feeling really really good. It’s nice to have so many resources at your fingertips. Treadmills, bikes, stair climbers, so many different weight lifting machines to workout those muscles you never use at that desk job of yours.

I do have a desk job and then I come home and either do homework online or blog or sit around with the family. Very rarely is it required of me that I am extremely active, but it’s so KEY to our health.

If you don’t know where to start the key is to just get MOVING. Do something besides just sit there. For me, I needed the motivation that comes with being a part of a fitness center and paying every month. Maybe that’s not what you need (but don’t make an excuse either because maybe it IS what you need!)

If you’re starting to feel a little guilty because you know you are in the category of many many people who just wake up and get in their car to go to work and sit around for 8 hours and eat fast food for lunch and then drive home and sit there and watch TV everyday, then this is a good sign! It’s good because now you know what you need to do! =)

Don’t wait until your health starts to fail before you get moving. Find a way today. And find a way tomorrow. And the next day. I promise you won’t regret it! Let it become a part of your lifestyle, not a temporary change. You’ll look better, feel better and BE better.

Are you wanting to get active? What is your plan to ‘get going’?

P.S. I’m reading a lot on nutrition and health in general so I’m hoping to start sharing some of that with all of you! Because what you eat is just as important as the exercise you do.

Sacrifice to Meet the Goal

I did it. I bought a 24 month long gym membership to Anytime Fitness. That is a long time. A very long time. And guess what else? It’s a bunch of money. Money I could be saving for ______________.

But that’s totally ok. Because this–is totally worth the investment. It’s an investment not only to health but to well-being and happiness. The best shape I was ever in was when I had a gym membership in high school, so I am definitely looking forward to getting back in.

I’d been putting it off until I moved to the city but that is finally happening (at the beginning of April!) so I went in yesterday, talked to the owner of this particular Anytime Fitness and signed the deal.

This is going to help me stick to my goal to work out 4 times a week. And as an “extra” the owner threw in I have a cool “Nutrition/Exercise Tracker” online that I’m loving.

Sometimes, will power isn’t enough. Sometimes we need resources. And guidance. And encouragement. And a kick in the butt to get going. And for me that was all available by paying $45 a month for the next 2 years (of course this includes tanning. 😉

What about you? What do you need to sacrifice in order to meet one of your goals?

Goals: Set, Keep, Reach

Goals are vital. I’m always telling myself and people around me that if you don’t set a goal I can guarantee you, 100% of the time you WILL. NOT. REACH. IT.

Of course, right? But we all tend to live (at times) as if we are going to do and reach everything we want to without actually telling ourselves exactly what that is. Yes, we all want to live a good life. Yes, we all want to love. Yes, we all want to be different and make a difference. But what does that look like? Really?

I’m not one to say that there is a certain thing I want to “be” when I grow up, but I do have dreams and desires. But those dreams and desires will only come about in the form of short-term goals. Yes, mid and long term goals are needed as well–and hopefully I’ll talk about those soon–but if there is no short term goal that I can see I am getting closer to reaching, I start to lose hope. And when it comes down to it, hope drives us.

So…because I want to be transparent and I want to share with you specifics about my life (and I want to know specifics about  yours!) I’m going to list some of my more short-term goals in a few different areas.

FINANCIAL (so supposedly you aren’t supposed to talk about your finances with people but….why not??)
1. $1,000 in emergency fund by year end 2010
2. $2,000 in cash savings by year end 2010 (this is gonna be a hard one.)
3. $1500 for vacation in fall of 2010
4. $800 for school every semester (the rest is going on a loan….I know, I know, everyone says loans aren’t good but we’ll talk about that in a later post.)
5. Open a 401(k) and Roth IRA and begin to fund (I’m 20 and I know that’s when you’re supposed to start saving for retirement but I want to get my cash savings built  up first.

There are some other shortER term goals like a mini-vacation to TX one weekend, a new cell phone, saving for some furniture, etc, etc. And in order to meet all these goals it requires a little more attention to be paid to your finances than just putting your paycheck in your checking account and then swiping you debit card a few times. But take heart! It CAN be done!

HEALTH
Well, this is a good one, right? Sure, it’s good to have goals in the health area of your life but they are soooo hard to keep. At least for me, they are. As much as I don’t want to blame things on my environment sometimes I feel it really is the reason I’m not keeping my short-term health goals. But regardless! Here they are….
1. Work out 4 times a week.
2. No caffeine.
3. One “sugar-extra” a week. (Are you kidding me, right now?!?)
4. At least 6 hours of sleep every night.
5. Lose 10 pounds by May 1

These are goals. They are things I’m working toward. The no caffeine thing I have been doing really really well on. The second week of January I decided to knock out coffee out of my diet completely, and it was a VERY good decision. I have no more caffeine-induced, artificial energy. Only the raw thing! The other things I’m still working on. =)

EDUCATION/TRAINING
1. Read smart/successful/entertaining people’s blogs daily. (I have a wide array of blogs I read–friends about their daily life, new entrepreneurs, older entrepreneurs, CEOs, smart professionals, LOTS of personal finance bloggers. I encourage you to start adding good blogs you come across to your google reader so you can look at all of them in one place.)
2. Read books often. (Right now it’s a lot of books for school but if I have any extra time I like to pick up books I’ve heard are a must to read. I keep a “wish list” on Amazon so I always know what I need. =)
3.  Finish my bachelor’s degree.

Learning is for everyone. Whether you have your bachelor’s degree or not, you can never learn enough. So whatever you’re interested in keep learning more about it. And whatever you WANT to be more interested in, you can be by just sticking yourself out a little and finding a few blogs or books!

RELATIONSHIPS
Ultimately, I don’t want my relationships to be “goals” but sometimes I have to internalize some certain things I want to do in the near future with certain people I love or want to reach out to. Here’s a few examples.
1. More hang time with my family.
2. More networking with those I haven’t talked to in awhile.
3. More talking to strangers.
5. Not be so uptight and learn to enjoy the spontaneous fun-ness that always happens in a house full of 7 people I love dearly.

Obviously goals are better set, kept and reached when they have some kind of “numerical” value to them…because then you can measure it easily. Relationships aren’t numbers though, they are faces, and I’d like to keep them that way. So when I go to “measure” these relational goals I just have to let my heart do all the thinking.

Ok. That is SOO enough of my goals.

Now my questions for you!

What goals have you set, kept and reached lately? What goals do you need to set now? How do you keep yourself on track?