Category Archives: Life

What Keeps You Up at Night?

Last week we had a financial check-up. Between buying the house, some family things that have popped up, and other stuff going on, we knew it would be good to get a third pair of eyes to look over some things.

As with most financial reviews, we went over our numbers – our savings, investments, liabilities, the whole bag.

We then started talking about our goals and what we want to do over the next year, decade, and beyond.

While we had answers for quite a few there were some that stumped us or got us thinking about setting up another money date.

There was one, that stood out to me –

What keeps you up at night? 

Huh.

Didn't see that one coming.

How Simplifying Finances Has Helped

I know the reason behind the question – figuring out what our biggest financial concerns are and coming up with a plan.

But thinking about it with my husband, the question became something else – an opportunity to reflect.

I started this blog last December with an idea of how this year would go and let's just say it's been different than what I expected, both better and worse.

  • My mom was diagnosed with a chronic lung disease and had to start a round of therapy.
  • Buying the house was definitely the right move – we love the place, the location. We have friends over more often.
  • My sister also had some health problems that have come up and her work is not accommodating to say the least.
  • We had a sick tree in the middle of the yard. A falling limb smashed out patio, but the real concern was if it fell on somebody. We had to rearrange things to get that cut down along with another tree that was dying.

On paper, things didn't look so well -our savings are drained and cash flow has been tight.

However, we're not behind on our bills and when we had to, I stepped away from some projects to be there for family and house projects.

So even though there were plenty of things going on, when we heard that question, we felt that we weren't losing sleep over money.

I believe a large part of that contentment was because we simplified our finances.

Paying off debts has been a huge help. Yeah, it's not exciting when you're in the middle of your debt snowball process, but the rewards have been worth it.

Having our financial system automated also made sure things went smoothly.

Simplifying Our Routine

As you may have guessed, because we had so much to deal with, I stepped back on a few projects and that included Simplify and Enjoy.

The good news is that things have settled down a bit so I'm getting back to writing here regularly.

Even though I haven't published much, I have been keeping notes and writing that I can't wait to share!

Thank you so much for taking the time to keep up with Simplify and Enjoy. If you have any questions or ideas, please send them to me.

Monthly Goal Review and Preview: April / May 2016

New month, which means it’s time to review and share some goals!

April Goal Reviews

We got slammed in April, financially and time-wise. Besides the usual, we had:

  • both life insurance policy premiums due
  • car inspection and taxes for our Honda Accord
  • my driver's license renewal
  • our oldest's dental check-up (we pay out of picket for her visits)
  • vet visit (including blood tests and medication) for our senior cat

As a reminder, here were my goals for April along with the progress made:

  • Do a site audit for Couple MoneyAs tedious and embarrassing as it is to go back through old posts, it's been a fantastic opportunity to review, correct, and update things for readers.
  • Go green at home. We've been seeding our yard and building up a lawn area. We're also building up our compost piles. Proud to say we're seeing progress on it.
  • Pitch a podcast. So proud to have done it – I gave my best creating a proposal and sample to pitch a dream podcast.

How I'm Simplifying in May

I'm really like narrowing things down to just three things each month. Having one money goal, one work/home goal, and one completely personal goal has kept me focused.

I'm someone who likes to have a few things going, but once it's past three, I usually start dropping the ball.

Here's what's on my agenda for May:

  • Save $500. With so much spent in April, I'm going to cut things back drastically this month.
  • Create a yard plan using Sketch- Up. We've reached a point where having a clear plan for the yard is needed. Besides the budget, breaking down the big picture into projects will keep us on target. Sketch-up seems to be a great tool to help visualize and plan with what we'd like to do.
  • Read and finish a fictional book. I love reading, but lately, I've been devouring non-fiction books and pieces on permaculture, cooking, and gardening to name a few. I want to get into a book this month just for pleasure.

While Sketch-Up is going to probably take a bit of time to learn, I'm ready to play around with it. I'm hoping to re-use and build up the model for other projects in and around our place.

THOUGHTS ON SIMPLIFYING THIS MONTH

Well, there you have it. I shared my goals for this month; I’d love to hear from you. What are you up to this month?

Monthly Goal Review and Preview: March / April 2016

New month, which means it’s time to review and share some goals!

March Goal Review

As bad as March was with all the unexpected expenses, I was able to get quite a few things done.

I'm grateful that we've been able to slash or eliminate some bills, which gave a us a cushion. That said, I'm hoping this month will be fairly low key.

As reminder, here were my goals for March along with the progress made:

  • Work on my sites: It came down to the last day, but I was able to get my sites updated and cleaned up to make them more searchable and helpful for new and regular readers.
  • Fix Up and Plant Gardens: DONE! I created two spots in our yard for growing some food. We got the seeds planted and have been tending to them. Right now we're battling weeds and ivy; guess we didn't get them all as we originally thought.
  • Write 30,000 words: I can't believe I wrote this much! Becoming an early riser was a huge help. Now that's it's over, I thought I might go back to my old schedule, but this new routine has stuck and I wake up feeling refreshed.

Having achieved these goals I'm feeling good about this month.

April Goals

With things settling down, I want to start looking at giving more attention to my work (gotta pay the bills!) and enjoying our new place.

  • Do a site audit for Couple Money. I have over 800 posts written on the site and I know that some of them need to be updated so they can be useful for new readers who visit the site looking for personal finance tips.This will be an ongoing project so for April I'm shooting for 50 posts.
  • Go green at home. With all the work we have done, we have plenty of yard debris that we can use for compost. We also want to start redesigning the landscape and growing some grass so the kids can have a place to play. Not the whole yard (that wouldn't fit with our long term plans), just a chunk near the back patio area. Right now it's a mix of weeds, large bald spots, and crabgrass.
  • Pitch a podcast. I have an idea for another podcast that I would love to do. More details on it later, but this is something I'll need some support with.

THOUGHTS ON SIMPLIFYING THIS MONTH

Well, there you have it. I shared my goals for this month; I’d love to hear from you. What are you up to this month?

Simplify Your Work: Email Templates

I first heard about using templates at a work conference years ago, but dismissed it because I thought it was too impersonal.

Why Email Templates Work

Now I realize using email templates help me in so many ways.

  • Saves Time: Since many of the emails I get are similar (meetings/guest posts/advertising), copying and pasting from my template drastically reduces my email time.
  • Makes Work More Efficient: I've been able to schedule things faster with templates.
  • Weeds Out Junk Email Quickly: My template asks like a filter so I dont have to mess around with time wasters.

With the time I save, I can connect better with others.

If you're a similar boat, here are some ways I've been able to improve my emails and I have a couple of my personal templates I use.

I hope it helps you simplify work.

Setting Up a Meeting

Between podcast interviews, online networking, and business calls, I have a ton of emails about setting up meetings.

To get the meeting scheduled sooner, I've found that giving them two times that work has cut down on the back and forth.

Sometimes, though, I need give them my schedule link so they can choose a time that's convenient for both of us.

Calendar and Scheduling Tools

For podcast interviews, I use Calendly as my scheduling tool. It's been a tremendous help. There is a free and paid version so you can try it out and upgrade if needed.

Guest Post/Article Submissions

Since I own a few sites, I get a flood of guest post requests and submissions.

I'm humble and grateful for the response, but I also want to be balanced and make sure I respect readers with sharing only great content.

Thank you for reaching out. I love connecting readers with new perspectives, ideas, and examples on how to improve their marriage and finances.

As you can imagine, I get a ton of guest post requests and I want to maintain the high quality of the Couple Money.

To make things easier for everyone, I have have a page on the site about submitting guest posts. You can check it out here.

I hope that helps. Have  wonderful day!

As you can see in the template, I've went ahead and created a guest post guideline page. While it hasn't stopped the emails, it has filtered out some follow-ups.

Advertisers

I work with brands and companies who are interested in advertising on the site. My goal is to connect readers with high quality companies that offer something useful and helpful.

Thank you for inquiring about advertising on Couple Money. ​​My goal is to maintain the resourcefulness of Couple Money for my readers, while introducing them to sites, products, and services which may be of interest to them.

Here are my current rates:

[Give rates]

​​​​​​​​If you have any questions about general advertising prices, please review our public page. I'd love to discuss this further.

Thoughts on Email Templates

I've found them incredibly helpful, how about you? Do you have a template that you love? Do you mind sharing it?

How to Become an Early Riser (& Enjoy It!)

Until we can find a way to extend the day, I've found that becoming an earlier riser can help you gain some extra time for your personal goals.

Benefits of Waking Up Earlier

Even waking up an hour early can make a huge impact on your day. The biggest ones I noticed personal are:

  • Productivity: Let's start with the obvious – you have an extra hour carved out to get your goals done. Having this time has given me a chance to set up and plan the day without feeling rushed.
  • Creativity: This quiet time allows me to ruminate more and I feel I can tap into my creative space easier.
  • Stress Relief: Having this extra time for myself has alleviate some stress. I read and reflect on some scriptures which has helped me be more positive.
  • Healthy Habits: While I don't exercise in the morning, I have been better with eating better, starting with breakfast. Since I'm not in a rush I can enjoy a real meal.

Finding My Path as an Early Riser

While I don't typically sleep in (little ones will make sure of that!), I struggled with getting up earlier.

It seemed like I could do it once in a blue moon, but I usually woke up feeling groggy and unfocused.

However I have finally broken through this past month and have been able to wake up early and energized (with no alarm clock needed).

5 Ways to Become an Early Riser

  • Have a purpose. Waking up early in itself isn't motivation for me. I needed to have a specific reason and for me having an extra hour for my writing gave me the push and desire to see this through.
  • Adjust slowly. I built up waking up over a week, choosing 15 minute increments. That allowed my body to accept this new change easier.
  • Create a bedtime routine. To make sure I woke feeling refreshed, I began going to bed a little earlier. I wound down by reading some fiction.
  • Make a goal for the next day. It doesn't have to be big or complicated, just have something in mind for what you want to accomplish in the morning. I found looking forward to something energized me.
  • Savor the morning. I take a short break from writing to watch the sun rise. It's a simple, but powerful way to reset yourself before the daily chaos comes in.

These tips helped me to overcome my hurdles and become an early riser. I hope they give you a way to creating productive and less stressful mornings.

Thoughts on Becoming a Early Riser

How many of you are natural early risers? How many of you had to adjust before you made the change? What helped?

Monthly Goal Review and Preview: February / March 2016

New month, which means it's time to review and share some goals!

I'm so happy that spring is coming up, not a fan of this cold and erratic weather we've been having.

February Goal Review

So last month told you what I wanted to knock out. In the spirit of simplifying I kept it to only three things (money, home, and life).

Here's how it went down:

  • File Our Taxes: We finished our taxes and waiting for a refund. It's particularly welcomed after the fridge died this past weekend.
  • Unpack and Settle into the New House: Everything vital is up. We still have some items like the clothes that are scattered in boxes downstairs. We'll take them out and put everything else back.
  • Write 30,000 words: This was a fail. My plan was to write in the evenings when my husband was home and could watch the kids. It didn't work that way – we're both tired and I discovered I'm not much of a night writer.

Okay, so 2 out of 3. Not thrilled with that, but I do have a plan to fix my writing goal.

March Goals

With things settling down, I want to start looking at giving more attention to my work and enjoying our new place.

  • Work on my sites: I've been writing online for years and some of my sites need some updating and attention to the admin. Besides making them better resources for readers and I think this could help increase income. (Win-win!)
  • Fix Up and Plant Gardens: We did a ton of prep work on the yard already and with spring around the corner, I'd like to get started with the gardens.
  • Write 30,000 words: This will get done! I've been waking up an hour earlier than my usual schedule to make time. Unfortunately this has an unforeseen consequence of the girls now waking up early.

THOUGHTS ON SIMPLIFYING THIS MONTH

I shared my goals for this month; I’d love to hear from you. What are you up to this month?