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5 Ways To Use Visual Aids To Stay Motivated
Surrounding myself with visual aids has helped me tremendously to stay motivated. In addition to serving as reminders of my goals and the positive mindset I need to keep, I always look forward to updating my charts every two weeks.
1. Place Them Where You Spend Most of Your Time
If you work in an office or cubicle as I do, utilize as much of your space as possible by hanging them on your walls, framing them and placing them on your desk, and changing your computer desktop to reflect your goal.
If you don’t work outside the home, place visuals on your fridge, in your home office, or use a chalkboard to create a progress tracker.
Travel for a living? Change the background of your phone to a photo that epitomizes your goal. Clip a photo or a small note showing your current balance to your visor or stick it beside your speedometer.
2. Get Creative
Design your own chart that represents your debt.
Pick up some cheap vases or mason jars and a bag of glass beads. Label the vases/jars for each debt you owe, assign a dollar amount per bead, and drop in the appropriate amount of beads for each principal payment.
Have kids? Get them involved. Create a paper chain that represents the amount you owe by assigning a specific amount to each link and cut a link from the chain each time you pay that much in principal. You wouldn’t need much more motivation with something like that hanging in your house for all your guests to see.
3. Print Inspirational Quotes
Make them pretty by using large, bold fonts and tack them to your cubicle wall. For an extra aesthetic touch, put them in simple, inexpensive frames.
4. Create Vision Boards
Use a bulletin board, poster board, the wall of your cubicle, however you want to do it.
Print photos that represent goals in all areas of your life – financial, health, personal development, work goals, etc.
Develop timelines for future goals and post them on your board.
Include pictures that represent your “why” to keep yourself focused on the major reason you’re sacrificing and striving for your goal.
If you do not spend most of your time in one place, or if you want to maintain laser focus, use a collage maker app to change the background of your phone or laptop to reflect your vision.
5. Create a Blog or Social Media Account Dedicated to Your Goal
This suggestion does not follow the norm for visual aids, but creating my blog and social media accounts have kept me accountable and excited about paying off my home more than any other aid.
Starting out, I signed up with the free version of WordPress and soon upgraded to an inexpensive plan that allowed me to customize my domain and monetize my site. Shortly after my site went live, I created social media accounts using the pen name from my blog.
At this point, my personal Instagram has long since been abandoned, and I only check my personal Facebook every couple of days or so. With a few exceptions, I follow only my heroes and others who are on journeys similar to mine. Doing this has kept me from exposure to the mundane drama that the friends on my personal accounts share everyday and helps me keep my mindset in the right place.
Debt + Depression
MDD, or Major Depressive Disorder, affects 16.1 million adults in the United States - or about 6.7% of the population. I was diagnosed with MDD and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) at the age of 16. Since then, I have battled my way through the jacked-up healthcare system, therapy, medication, and suicide. Throw college, a crappy divorce, and sick family members into the mix, and you have one interesting decade of experience.
While I know the topic of mental health is difficult for some to mull over, I think it's important to recognize that while on this debt free journey, you may struggle with a depressive dip - or experience anxiety surrounding money. This road is not easy, and your brain may try to sabotage your financial goals and dreams.
Here are 5 tips to survive getting out of debt when dealing with Depression:
1. One day at a time
It's easy to get bogged down in looking at your entire mountain of debt all at once. You see a big number and think to yourself, 'What's the point?' That's why breaking up debt and taking it 'slowly, but surely' is imperative, especially to those who struggle to shower or get out of bed sometimes. One step at a time - one goal at a time. Paying off $100 and rewarding yourself for a job well done is way more digestible than looking at a six figure number.
2. It's Okay If You're Not 100%
When I went through my depressive episodes on my debt free journey, I would feel so guilty for spending any amount of money outside of my budget. I'd go down Pity Party Lane for not putting a certain amount towards debt each month. Then I'd think, 'Oh my God. I'm such a faker... posting on Insta that I'm living this life, when I'm really not.' The reality is that everyone messes up, and it's not even messing up, because its YOUR journey. YOU define it. As long as you're making progress, it's okay!
3. Find a Community
Depression and paying off debt can be isolating experiences. Both are seen as weird, and both are stigmatized in our society. Finding a like-minded community was what inspired me to keep moving forward. Without the debt free community on Instagram, I would have given up a long time ago. Whether it's a significant other, best friend, or an online fam - find a community that supports your vision. It makes a WORLD of difference. I have people everyday reach out to me about debt payoff AND mental health. How amazing is that!?
4. Ask for Help
For us stubborn mules, asking for help can be akin to deciphering advanced chemical engineering textbooks. It's difficult, and most times, it doesn't happen. I'm telling you from experience though, it makes healing much easier when you ask for help when you need it. It's not weak. It's not attention-seeking. EVERYONE needs help sometimes. Don't feel shame when reaching out for something. Need budget advice? Need help running errands? Need a shoulder to cry on? Don't have the energy to cook something every night this week? Call a friend, family member, or someone you can trust. No matter what 'help' looks like on your end, asking for it is essential on the path to a positive financial and mental health state!
5. Save, Save, Save
My emergency fund put my anxiety at ease in ways I can't explain. What made it even better was that I promised myself I'd put at least $20 a month towards it. $20 is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it meant I was covering my butt and taking care of myself. Self care looks like bubble baths and expensive manicures on social media, but it's also providing for yourself in other ways, like an EF. I recommend always saving no matter what step of the process you're in. You'll definitely thank yourself one day - I know I did!
Tips For A Couple’s First Budget Meeting
Your first budget meeting as a couple (dating, engaged, or married) can be overwhelming. I wanted to share a few quick tips to help make it less stressful.
Understand Your Differences
I currently have my budget in excel and it works for me. I pay all my bills online and check my budget a few times a day. My fiancé is pretty much the opposite. His budget is written on a piece of paper and he pays his bills on the phone. For us to be successful at budgeting together, we need to compromise and choose tools that we both will use.
We might realize after a month or so that we need to adjust how we are doing something and that is totally okay. In order to stick to a budget, pay off debt, or save money you need to figure out what works best for you as a TEAM. What worked best for you as an individual might not be what is best for you as a couple and that is totally fine. It might take us a few months to get in sync.
Acknowledge What is Important
Before you even sit down to create your budget, make sure you realize that what is important to you might not be important to him/her. If you want to stick to the budget, it must be realistic for both of you. Acknowledge what is important to your significant other even if you don’t fully understand.
I hope this helps you get started on your budget journey as a couple or as an individual. Will we stick to the budget every month? Definitely not. The goal is to have more good months than bad months. Budgeting, paying off debt, and saving money is not a sprint it is a marathon. A marathon that takes a lot of patience and endurance.
Alli graced us with her presence as the very first guest on A Sunny Side Up Life Podcast back in September to talk about her co-authored book. Listen to that episode here...
coloring your way to happiness
Would you love to have more happiness and positivity in your life? 🙋
I’m a HUGE fan of affirmations and also of coloring pages, so I’ve combined the two! When you spend time coloring an affirmation coloring page, you are spending a lot of time with a specific positive thought. Did you know that we have on average 60,000 thoughts a day and 80% of those are negative? By focusing on the positive every day and creating habits of happiness, we can change this statistic.
Imagine the impact you can have on your own happiness by spending 20 minutes a day coloring a positive coloring page. That is a lot of positive thought!
Print out and color as often as needed to remind yourself of the wonderful things around you. If I’m having a particularly off day, I might print out multiple of the same coloring page and keep coloring until I believe the message on the page, saying “Good things are going to happen.”
Inspirational coloring pages can help you manifest your dreams, attract financial abundance, increase your confidence, and spread loving kindness. We can change the world through the power of positivity.
Each Positively Delighted coloring page design includes motivational affirmations to help you cultivate a positive mindset and increase your happiness habits. I thought these were so cute that I had to get some for my girls...and of course a few for myself too! These were so much fun to take on our last camping trip!
I knew you'd love these as much as I do, so I hooked y'all up with a 20% off discount code on any of Kelsey’s Positively Delighted digital downloads exclusively for the Rise+ Shine Community! All you have to do is use the code SUNNYSIDE20 at checkout!
making a food plan to save money
No matter what we do, our family must eat. Every day. Several times a day. Day after day. Week after week.
This can get exhausting.
When we hear the words, “Mooooom, what’s for dinner?”, we can find ourselves cringing and wishing we could just skip food. Has anyone else wished we could just skip food? I know I have.
But, we can’t. And – if we don’t find a way to handle cooking fatigue, we can resort to unhealthy convenience foods or budget busting take-out.
#1 way I know to handle cooking fatigue…..by REDUCING DECISION FATIGUE!
Decision fatigue is when we make so many decisions that we literally wear out from it and consequently, end up making poor decisions - choosing the quickest, simplest solution to our problem. Turns out, we as humans have a finite amount of self-control and that can get depleted by chronic decision making.
So, how do we reduce decision fatigue? By MAKING A FOOD PLAN.
Let me show you what I mean.
In our family of 6, we all eat 3 times a day. That’s 18 meals a day or 126 meals a week. 2 kids have snacks twice a day. That’s another 28 food decisions a week. So, I am responsible for 154 food decisions per week. That is A LOT OF DECISIONS!!! You can probably see now why food is so exhausting!! But, it’s not the food – it’s the decisions about the food!
However, when I make a food plan, I sit down – ONE TIME A WEEK – and make all the food decisions for my family AT ONE TIME!! In 1 hour, I make all 154 food decisions. Then, it is set. Nothing to think about later in the week. Yes, it will take time to sit down, once a week and make a food plan. But, trust me when I say that the amount of time and energy you will spend making a food plan is a fraction of the amount you will spend without a plan - making 154 separate food decisions – all week long.
Take time this week to sit down and make a food plan. Your tired brain will thank you!
Back in November, Shelly graced us with her presents on A Sunny Side Up Life Podcast! We chatted about some of her amazing tips for creating dinners for a dollar. Intrigued by the promise of dinners for only a dollar per person? Check out the podcast episode to find out more.
Frugal Fun during your debt free journey
I started my blog in the Summer of 2018 after being inspired by many other personal finance blogs and stories being started on Instagram. I have always been intrigued by money – making it, spending it, and keeping it. However, as an adult, I found myself in credit card debt, car loan debt and student loan debt to the tune of $100,000. When I was single, it didn’t seem like a big deal, it was normal because everyone had debt, but as a wife and mother, I knew the cycle of debt had to end because I wanted a better future for myself and my family.
Debt robs you of your income, time, and future dreams if you don’t kill it first. So I created sugarandmoney.com to talk about living a sweet life while having sweet finances. Ultimately to discuss enjoying life while also paying off debt. I believe both are possible because we only have one life and there are so many things that we can take advantage of which are low cost and fun while paying off debt. A few things that come to mind are day trips to the beach, mountains or even a local state park, or a picnic in your backyard – just make it fun and interesting! Investing in a membership at your local zoo and taking advantage of it whenever possible and enjoying free events in your town are also great activities.
At the end of day, everything doesn’t have to be Instagram worthy or expensive for it to be fun, it just needs to bring joy to you and your love ones.
The power of a food challenge
Your mindset plays a big role in your finances! You can choose to come at budgeting from a mindset being restricted and deprived, or you can choose to have a mindset of creativity and fun!
I was reminded of this recently when I only had $46 left in our grocery budget for the last week of February. Instead of thinking how deprived we would feel, my first thought was: challenge accepted! I shopped our freezer and pantry first and got creative about what meals we could make with what we already had. I just had to purchase milk, eggs, and produce and we ate quite well for the week!
"When you can treat budgeting and saving as a game or challenge, you’ll enjoy your life much more and set yourself up for success!"
A few ways to try this:
Have a pantry challenge: Lower your grocery budget for a week or more by challenging yourself to eat what you have in your kitchen and only buy the fresh produce you need.
Do a pack-a-lunch challenge: Print out a monthly calendar and challenge your family to bring packed lunches to work or school for a certain number of days for the month. Every successful day gets a green check mark on the calendar!
Plan a stuck-to-the-budget treat: Plan a special treat for if your family can stick to the budget for the month! It could be a special meal or family activity. Everyone will stay motivated with a fun short-term goal.
I’m so excited to share that Christine White - The Mostly Simple Life - was a guest speaker on my podcast recently! We got to chat about how you can make a budget-friendly meal plan.
What are some are some of her awesome tips? Check out the podcast episode to find out.