Wednesday, July 31, 2013

August Goals

I've decided to start posting my monthly goals here on the blog. Why? Because I stinking need accountability to take care of my name change on both passports (American and British). Really why? Because I believe in living a fully engaged life, and I think that goals help with that.

It is my hope that you would encourage me and keep me on top of my goals, give me feedback, and share with me some of your own goals! If you're new to monthly goals, I'd suggest starting small.

August Goals:

  • American passport name change
  • Renew and change name on British passport
  • paint the old nightstand that is sitting in our garage 
  • plan something fun for Ben's 23rd birthday, the 27th! (Also his first day of school as a middle school coach!) 
  • Clean makeup brushes
  • Start working on curriculum for a girls bible study at church 
  • Start a fun new series here on the blog. Hint: it's called "Simple Little Things" :)
Hopefully I can have some more interesting goals to share next month, once we knock out the passports. :) 

Some other people who's goals I enjoy reading: 




A lot of times reading these lovely ladies reminds me what my goals SHOULD be. :) 

Now it's YOUR turn? 

What are some things you should/could/want to/WILL get done in August? 

Ps. Speaking of August...



On August 1, my dear friend Chandra is launching her online shop of goodies for TEACHERS. She has a full lesson planner (the Teacher Anchor), tons of notepads for things life differentiation and progress monitoring, and beautiful notecards! Check out her website, here. Doesn't the photo above make you inspired to get organized? THE ANSWER IS YES. 




Monday, July 29, 2013

Be our Friend!



Happy New Week, friends!

I don't have much for you today, just a few things.

Lately, we've had a few more readers than usual.. SUCH A BLESSING! Ben and I have some big dreams for this little blog, and are excited to see where it goes. Each and every reader means the world to us!

I thought I would show you some ways that you can make sure you're keeping up with what is happening here on the blog, just a few ways to follow along:

"Like" our Facebook Page.

Follow me on Instagram, because I usually post photos there first, because I get antsy.

If you would like to get blog posts directly to your email inbox, you can enter your email on the right sidebar, there's a place for you to do so!

Follow me on Twitter, for silly things.

If you are into reading blogs, you can follow us through Bloglovin! If you aren't familiar with the website, you sign up, and then can go through and keep all the blogs you read in one place. It's great if reading blogs is something you enjoy. It's what I read to keep up with my favorite blogs.

This morning I'm feeling incredibly inspired in our home, moving some things around, styling, just enjoying a slow morning while Benjamin Luke takes a mid morning nap. My heart is full with thanksgiving, and I look forward to connecting with you lovely folks this week.

Did you have a good weekend? I want to hear about it! Any projects cooking over at your place? :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kendra Scott Gives Back Event

On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend an event at the Kendra Scott store in Dallas. The event was put on in celebration of Hagan, a girl in the youngest pledge class of my sorority from college, Kappa Alpha Theta. She wanted to raise money for "One Million For Anna", because she has had her own cancer journey over the past few years. Kendra Scott kindly donated 20% of all purchases to the cause, and had another big surprise planned.



The turnout was great, everyone was having the best time reconnecting with friends, shopping for beautiful jewelry, and supporting Hagan. Although I am now a Theta alum, it never ceases to encourage me to see the incredible women of my sorority stand up to support each other. Such a blessing.


When I was making plans with my old roommate from college Courtney, to attend the event, people kept telling us to "make sure and get there by six, for the surprise!"I'm so glad that we did.


A representative from the Kendra Scott headquarters in Austin came up to Dallas to represent the company, and to finally get to meet Hagan and her mom. She told us of how Hagan's mom had emailed her (a representative for customer service) to request maroon colored jewelry for her Fighting Texas Aggie Daughter. She laughed as she told us that Hagan's mom had reached the only Aggie in the Austin based office. She soon got to know Hagan's story, and Kendra Scott herself did too. They loved Hagan, and sent her a pair of their iconic "Danielle earrings" in maroon, with a note from Kendra. But they couldn't get Hagan off their minds and wanted to do more. They spoke with their designers, and planned to integrate maroon pieces into their fall line. They can be found, here. Still with Hagan in mind, they wanted to have a "Kendra Scott Gives Back" event, that we were attending. It was also going to work out to be the perfect time to reveal the piece in the fall line that had been designed especially for Hagan!!!!!!


There were few dry eyes in the house as Hagan was gifted the first "Hagan bracelet" in the world, before the line came out in stores a few days later. 


The bangle is gold and detailed and gorgeous. It somehow fits Hagan's outgoing personality perfectly. As I've gotten older, it has been really cool to learn about companies that have excellent customer service and give back. After this, I was sold. I needed a piece from Kendra Scott. I settled on the "Elle earrings" in white pearl, and the "Rayne necklace" in coral. My envelopes took a hit, but it was worth it to support an great cause and company. Plus, the pieces I selected really are beautifully made.


It was such an encouraging and fun night!

Do you have any Kendra pieces? Will you be going for any of the new maroon or the "Hagan bangle"?    Do you have any good stories about companies you love?

Thanks for stopping by, and HAPPY FRIDAY!

Note: All photos taken from Hagan's facebook page. 

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bedroom Ch-ch-changes

Hey folks. Let's take a break from the seriousness of budgeting and finances to take a look at the evolution of our master bedroom.

Okay so when we moved into our house, our bedroom looked like this:



Literally, that is a photo that I think I texted to someone to show them what I was working on. Hobby Lobby bags are strewn on the floor.

Actually, let's rewind. Before we moved into our house, and I was photographing some before shots, this was the only room I was asked not to photograph. If that tells you anything about it's state.

When we did finally move in, after lots of labor was put into the room, it looked like this:



Which lead us to the photo I shared above.

Then, I tried adding some bold pillows within the bedding color scheme.


The pillow fill in the middle was going to be covered with a plain, monogramed sham. This look could have been cute, but was just too bright for us.


Then, I added a fun Anthropologie quilt To the top of the bedding to give it more of a layered look. Meanwhile, I was moving around the furniture once a week. Yikes. I couldn't find what I wanted. 

Midway through the process, Ben asked me something. One night he just said "I have an idea, can you keep an open mind?" I said yes, and that is when he asked for a coffee maker in our bedroom. 

I figured that it was the only thing he had specifically asked for in our home, and that I could make it happen. So this little nook was born. Born on top of my childhood nightstand.

Note: During student teaching I was exhausted and over it 100% of the time. So little got done in our house and I look back and cringe. Things are finally, slowly, shaping up.

At this point, I knew I needed to change something. I realized that the bedding we had chosen was way too vintagey looking for the modern gray walls. Something had to go, and at that point.. I knew it was the bedding, which could easily be the bedding for our guest room. Thankfully, we were still cherishing some Pottery Barn gift cards after our wedding. I wanted something simple, clean, modern.. yet still beautiful.


So the white bedding came along and we LOVED it. Seriously, when Ben got home the day I got it he even could tell how much it changed the room. Not that you can really tell, in this awful dark photo. ;)


Don't worry about the laundry basket. :)


Oh, and that one too. Also, Ben hijacked the goals board for a bunch of weird things like drawing pictures of himself surfing and a sunshine and a VW van.

At this point.. I knew what was holding me back from loving our room. It was the paint color. The gray was beautiful, but for someone else's bedroom. Our things weren't modern enough for the color. It also had cooler undertones, while all of our other paint colors had warm ones. So, one weekend, I said that enough was enough! I was going to admit my error in judgement, move on from it, and fix it.

AFTER: 


And now our room is one of my favorite in the house. I have since done even more changes in this room (for example: actually fill the frames above our bed. haha!) We are also dreaming of a large jute rug.

Moral of the story: You need a happy place to sleep that reflects your personality and style. I truly would loose sleep over this room and that is ridiculous. It wasn't a beautiful place that welcomed us to rest and it really did affect us. I'm so thankful to have realized this and started over!

What room in your house could use some sprucing? Are there any painting projects you could tackle this weekend? Do any photographers want to come over and teach me how to photograph my house?

Talk to you soon, friends!

Monday, July 22, 2013

FINANCIAL PEACE: How to: The Envelope System

For some of you, this may be a "Pin now, read later" post. If so, click the image above! 




If you are anything like me six months ago, you have already decided you want nothing to do with the envelope system and are not even going to read this post. Well, let me stop you there.

Before we started the envelope system, I had worries like:

  • Carrying around cash makes me nervous, what if I loose it or it gets stolen?
  • I don't want to take the extra time at the cashier, digging through my cash and coins when I could just easily slide my debit or credit card.
  • I like seeing a list of where my money has gone in my online banking. 
  • Real honesty: It sounds like a pain and I don't want to do it. 

I hear you, I really do. I made that list very easily because those reasons are things that I told Ben when he expressed interest in wanting to use cash, and the envelope system. It is my hope and prayer that through reading this blog post you will have some questions answered, and start to see that you could adapt this version of the envelope system to work for your family. 

Before we get to the nitty gritty, let me just say that no one is perfect. This is a work in progress for our little family. It has already blessed us so much but there have been different little things I've changed about this every single month. The goal here is for you to figure out something that works for YOU. That may be different from your mom/sister/best friend/neighbor.. AND THAT'S AWESOME! There may be parts of our process that you think are ridiculous, or you may see things you think could be changed or fine tuned. Do it! Try out changes and shoot me an email (victoriastrader9@gmail.com) and I would LOVE to hear about it. Please do the same if you have any questions at all! If something is not clearly communicated, or you have a question about a certain money scenario or anything at all, just email me and I'd love to help you or point you in the direction of someone who can. I constantly text my sister in law questions about the envelope system. She's who introduced me to this organized way of handling family finances. 

The one complaint that I had about Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, is that it did not give you a step by step on how to do the envelope system. It just said "do the envelope system". Boo. I'm a girl and I need detailed directions. That being said, I did not come up with basically any of this. Our sister, Kayce, taught us everything that was taught to her by Brenda Haley, who does the Budget Ministry at Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas. Her ministry is meeting with families and helping them create budgets with the ultimate goal of a debt-free lifestyle. I haven't met Brenda Haley, but probably need to mail her a handwritten thank you. This has rocked our world in so many ways. Okay. Let's get to it! (I have a hunch this might just be the longest blog post EVER!)

Note: None of the images in this post have been edited. Photoshop does not allow you to edit images with money in them. I took this as a sign that I could take it easy and not edit any other images. :)

Materials: 

  • A plastic tupperware to hold all your envelopes 
  • a box of 3 5/8" x 6 1/2" envelopes 
  • a box of  4 1/8" x 9 1/2" envelopes
  • a small accordion file for a wallet
  • manilla card stock for box dividers
  • Monthly Cash Worksheet and Cash Breakdown Worksheet (FREE printables coming soon!) 
  • a few paperclips

Step One: Make your Budget

To start, you need to establish categories for spending, and settle on an amount of cash for each category. 

Our monthly cash list looks like this: 

As you can see, I showed you the amounts that we use for some categories, and others were left blank. It is our goal to live a completely transparent lifestyle with nothing to hide, but I thought it might be a little tacky to just reveal every little bit of our spending habits here on the interwebs. That being said, if you are trying to decide on an amount for something and want to know our numbers for reference, just ask. I don't feel weird at all about revealing anything to you in a private email. If it can help someone, I'm all for it. Just ask. :)

Category Types:


If a category "rolls over", that means we let the extra money stay in the envelope and build up. For example, "Toiletries" roll over so that if we are light on purchases one month, but need a ton of things at once the next month, things aren't affected. Let's call these, Roll Overs.

Other categories are designed to roll over, those are Saving Categories. For example, at the beginning of the year, we made a list of everyone that we were going to buy Christmas presents for in December, and a budget for each person. Say we were spending $1 each, on 12 people. Then, we would put $1 a month into the "Christmas" envelope, and in December, we would have saved enough money for all of our Christmas gifts. I love this because you often hear people complaining about their finances taking a hit around the holidays because of gifts, and it kind of takes away from the fun of it. This way, we have been planning all year for all the gifts we will joyfully give. Another example is my haircuts. I get a haircut about every 4 months, so we took the total cost of a haircut (including a tip) , divided it by 4, and got the amount needing to be saved each month to leave me with enough money in the envelope for a haircut every 4 months.

Categories that do not roll over, (Groceries & Entertainment) challenge us to go under budget. When we have money in those envelopes left over, the amounts go into an extra envelope, called "Extra Money". That way, if one month I need to buy an extra gift or a few extra groceries or whatever, we have some extra cash to pull from. Or if we want to have a little weekend getaway and we have saved money into the extra envelope, we can use that. It is so encouraging to let this envelope build up for a few months and see how much you have saved in just two categories!

Note: I'm in favor of making the budget a bit higher instead of a bit lower. Here's why. It is just plain discouraging when every week you cannot go to the stinking grocery store without messing up your budget. When you have it a little bit bigger, then you will have some money to save, going into the "extra money" envelope. It can be awesome to see how far under your can go, although obviously you don't want to set the budget too high! This is a personal preference of mine, but it's something to think about.

Categories: 


Groceries : ($80 a week) Self explanatory. This is our grocery shopping for food only each week, and has enough wiggle room to allow lots of dinner guests. :) 

Ben & Victoria: ($10 a week) This ten dollars can be used for whatever... if we want to have coffee or lunch with a friend, grab Starbucks on our way somewhere or if Ben wants sunflower seeds at the gas station. These little purchases can really add up and having a limited $10 has really given us control over those splurges. This is basically any eating out that we do when we aren't together. If either of us does not use this money, we can save it or use it for whatever else.

Entertainment: This category includes eating out, going to movies, baseball games, etc.

5th Sunday: (Saving Category) Okay. Bear with me. When you choose a certain day of the week to distribute weekly envelopes, there are always going to be a few months out of the year that have 5 of those days instead of four. We get our envelopes on Sundays, so this envelope is called "5th Sunday". There is a month with 5 Sundays every 3 months. We added up the four categories that we get weekly, (groceries, Ben, Victoria, & Entertainment) and divided that total by three. For example, if it was $33 (it's obviously not!) Then you would put $11 in this envelope every month. Then, during the longer month, you have saved the $33 that you need for the week and you don't have to feel like you are spending more money that month. I hope I communicated that clearly, again, feel free to email me!

Tags: (Saving Category$15 a month)We have 2 cars, so this amount is how much we need to save each month to equal enough money to pay for the tags on each car at the end of the year.

Auto Repair: (Saving Category, $20 a month)This builds up enough money for regular oil changes. The leftover money will remain in this envelope in case we need something bigger done to our cars.

Medicine: (Roll Over$5 a month) We put aside $5 a month into the medicine envelope so that when we have a cold and need a $10 medicine item, our grocery or toiletry fund don't take a big, irregular hit. We have yet to use anything from this category. It is one that rolls over.

Toiletry Articles: (Roll Over) Some people would just call this "Household Expenses" but for some reason, it's just called Toiletry for us. :) This includes things like trash bags, shampoo, soap, paper towels, etc. Anything extra that we could buy at the grocery store for our hygiene or our home!

Cosmetics: (Roll Over) This includes any of my makeup. For the most part, hair products or skin care products come out of "Toiletry Articles" just fine.

Miscellaneous: (Roll Over) This covers anything extra. If we need to buy an extra gift or something in our kitchen gets lost or broken, or we need office supplies or whatever. Miscellaneous covers those things!

Haircuts for both of us: (Saving Category)This covers a monthly haircut for Ben and one haircut for me every 4 months.

Hobby funds for both of us: (Roll Over) This money covers Ben's gardening tools or fishing stuff or if he wants to buy anything extra. For me, it goes on clothes or crafts or home stuff. The tab for this in my wallet is labeled "Home Decor" because Ben jokingly calls my monthly fun allowance the "Home Decor Fund". He loves this because he doesn't have to get stressed out about me buying clothes or home stuff or whatever, he knows that whatever I bring home is in the budget, and it has really put him at ease. :)

Christmas: (Saving Category) This money builds up to buy all of our Christmas gifts! TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY!!

Gifts: (Roll Over) This category is for wedding gifts, shower gifts, birthday gifts, etc.

Clothing: (Roll Over) This covers any clothing we NEED. Aka, not a lot. This doesn't mean J. Crew sale, it means Ben's socks have worn out or my black flats fell apart and I need them for teaching or whatever. Any fun clothing we want comes from our Hobby funds.

Giving: (Roll Over) This category, not to be confused with "Gifts" is just miscellaneous giving. Surprising a loved one with a random package or if we know someone in need who could really use a few extra dollars. I LOVE this creative category for extra giving to those around us!

Matilda: ($20 a monthRoll Over) This covers Matilda's food and technically we should put her yearly shots in there.   The only time she gets professionally groomed is when Ben's parents pick her up and take her. Foreshadowing for our future kids being spoiled (with love!!) by their grandparents. :) 



After creating your monthly cash list, you need to figure out your cash breakdown. This means, the amount of each type of bill that you need to get from the bank each month. This is such a science and I feel like I am changing it every month. For the most part, our cash breakdown is just getting the amount of money into the envelope with the largest bills possible. Our only exception is the Entertainment fund. Because this covers our eating out, I include a good part of each week's cash in ones, so that when we eat somewhere we have money to easily leave a tip without waiting for change back. This may seem really silly, but it has simplified life for us!

Note: These sheets were typed up in Microsoft Word, and printed onto card stock.

Step Two: Get your Cash Each Month

Yes, our cash needs to come home in two big envelopes because of all the different bills. :)
The budget sheets go nicely in my planner (Emily Ley's Simplified Planner) under the tab for "Home" related things. That way, when I go to the bank to get out cash, I can just show the teller my Cash Breakdown list and he/she can easily get the money together. I think that they find this helpful. :)

Note: If you are worried about bank tellers being frustrated with your request for all the different types of bills, let me tell you that I have never had an issue! Every month when I go to get the cash the ladies all ask how the envelope system is going and I get to tell them how awesome it has been for our marriage!

Another Note: When we started this system, Kayce (our sister in law) told me that when the tellers gather all the cash they will sometimes ask "do you need me to count it?". She said that she always says yes, not to be tedious, but because it is her responsibility to her family to handle her money with wisdom and make sure that there are no errors. I have followed her with this and will continue to do so. Most times the tellers will just count for me without asking, but if not, I am not ashamed to ask, and you shouldn't be either. :)

I go to into the bank once a month, towards the end of the month, to get the cash allowance for the next month. I bring it home to set up envelopes for the month, and that leads us to....

Step Three: Set up your Envelopes 


This is our box of envelopes. It keeps everything organized and happy! It holds all the envelopes that aren't being carried in my wallet at the time.

We (Kayce and I) set up the box to include little dividers, so that I know where the different envelopes are.

Let's take a look!

Weekly Envelope Categories (Grocery, Entertainment, Ben, & Victoria) have five envelopes of the same label, like this.


Let me explain. During the first week of the month, I will carry around "Groceries- 1" in my wallet. The next Sunday, I will put the "Groceries- 1" envelope back behind the divider and get the next one. And so on. The manilla divider is pictured above with the envelopes in it's category.  Each week when I get the new envelope is when I move the leftovers into the "Extra Money" envelope.

It looks like this.


The paperclips are inside the envelope so that when we have $100 of extra money saved, I can paperclip those bills together. It just helps me stay on top of our savings and keep me from recounting it on a regular basis.

Note: The weekly envelops are made out of 3 5/8" x 6 1/2" envelopes and ones that are savings envelopes are bigger, 4 1/8" x 9 1/2".  The weekly envelopes are sized to fit in my wallet, and the bigger ones are sized to hold a larger amount of bills.

For reference, the other weekly envelopes and their manilla dividers look like this.




Other dividers and their monthly envelopes look like this.




Oops! I forgot to photograph the envelops in the "Gifts" divider. That includes the Christmas envelope, the Giving envelope, and the Gifts envelope.

The box is a great way to keep all of the envelopes organized, but I can't carry it around everywhere. That's why each week's weekly envelopes (Groceries, Entertainment, Ben, Victoria) and a few others go in my wallet.

What does my wallet look like?


Admittedly, it isn't the most attractive thing, but I'm obsessed with it. It keeps all my envelopes organized and happy. :) Kayce gave me this blue folder when I started using this system, and I have since discovered cuter ones. However, I am currently experiencing the high of the joy of saving money so I'm putting that purchase on hold. :)


In the first flap, I keep all receipts (misspelled above, awesome!). This makes returns super easy. Every week when I trade for the next set of envelopes, I also move the receipts over to a box I have in my desk. It looks like chaos, but they are automatically organized chronologically from me dumping them in there, and I can easily find what I need if I need to return something. I clean this out every few months, when return periods have already expired anyways.

As you can see, I store the grocery, entertainment, and weekly (my Victoria $10 envelope) in the first few flaps. Skip back a few, and I have a spot for gift cards, my hobby fund (labeled Home Decor), and also a folder for deposits.

Deposits work like this. I have my envelope of gifts money at home in the box, so what do I do when I'm running errands and find the perfect gift, yet, do not have the cash from that envelope in my wallet? I will use my debit card to purchase the gift, with the amount budgeted for gifts (at home in the envelope) in mind. Then, when I come home, I will move the amount I spent into the deposits folder, putting it back into our bank account at the ATM whenever I'm passing by one. That eliminates the fear of carrying large amounts of cash, yet I am still spending with the boundary in mind. Ya with me? :)

Step Four: Fill your Envelopes

Once a month, I have my big stack of cash from the bank, and need to get my envelopes organized for the next month. If you are worried about spending a ton of time on this, it takes me about 20 minutes every month. Not a lot of time considering the large impact that it has made on our marriage and money spending habits. Here's how I do this.

First, I separate the bills into their amount values. This shows me what I'm working with, and makes it easy to quickly fill envelopes.


Then, I spread out all the envelopes on the floor. I probably look like a crazy person when I do this. But I kind of love it.



I then grab my planner, and flip to my Cash Breakdown sheet. Remember that, from Step One? It looked like this?


Using the Cash Breakdown sheet as a guide, I fill envelopes. I look at the label on each one, then see how many of each bill needs to go in each envelope, and set those bills on top of the envelope. Like this, for groceries.



Why just set the bills on top of the envelopes? Although you have your Cash Breakdown sheet, there is a large chance you'll finish with extra cash or not enough, due to a small mistake you've made along the way. I think every month I will accidentally put an extra bill in an odd place or something. Because many of these envelopes are "Roll Over" envelopes, if you immediately put the cash in the envelope and then find a mistake at the end, you could never find that mistake, not knowing the exact amount that was in the envelopes before you added more. It will also save you from opening all the envelopes multiple times. Trust me on this one, set the cash on top, double check everything is great, and then finish with tucking the cash inside.

Rewinding a little bit, I ALWAYS keep cosmetics, toiletry, and miscellaneous envelopes in the wallet. They only get refilled monthly, but I use the categories enough that I need to keep the envelopes with me. I have a set of them in the box, and a set of them in the wallet. Here's why.


When I have spread out all the envelopes from the box on the floor to fill them with cash, it would be easy to forget about these three categories, because they always remain in my wallet. I made these three which always sit empty in the box, to solve that problem. I use them to lay out on the floor when I am dividing the cash for each envelope.


After all my cash is laid out on the envelopes, and I am actually moving the  cash into the envelopes, I take the bills off of these three categories, and put it into the envelopes in my wallet. See the photo above for clarification.

Note: I made sure to label these "FOR FILLING DAY ONLY!!!" so that I know not to put the cash in those envelopes. You could always label them with a highlighter or something if needed.

Yay! You're done with filling all your envelopes! Now put them back in your box and wallet, and you're equipped for Financial change!

Step Five: Maintain the System and LOVE YOUR LIFE!

I know this is about the longest blog post you've ever read/ or probably not read in your life. But I promise this is extremely simple maintenance. It takes much less time than I would spend constantly checking a debit or credit card and seeing amounts add up and stress me/Ben out. We are so thankful for this discipline.

Here are some things to consider:


  • We don't choose to budget for gas. We pay for gas on our debit cards (I really didn't want to be going inside the gas station to pay for gas with cash each time, sounds silly, but it's true!) and because we can't control the cost of fuel, we didn't see much of a reason to set a budget for it. We couldn't really limit our driving because of a certain number we had set for our cars. We have places we need to drive to, but don't just go crazy and joyride to burn money away. 
  • None of our monthly bills are included in the envelope system. We pay all of our monthly bills, our mortgage, give our tithe to our church, and support ministries through online payment or checks that I mail. These amounts are the same every month (within reason) and are expected. 
  • The envelope system does not account for any investments that we make, Ben takes care of those with some help from outside sources. 
  • You can have envelopes for literally anything. If you want to save money for a vacation, you could set a budget for that vacation, divide it by 12 months, and put aside that new amount into an envelope each month. At the end of the year, you'll have enough saved for your trip, and your bank account won't take a hit. 
  • This system is all about planning for everything, so that there are no unexpected or irregular losses of money. 
  • If you are worried about fumbling around with your envelopes or are shy about it, go to self check outs whenever possible. I almost always do at the grocery store. I will do a transaction for grocery items, and then one for items from the toiletry category or whatever I need to do. I am also not shy about telling the cashier at Target or wherever that I need to do two separate transactions. I have never had someone be frustrated with me, only interested in what we are doing! 
  • Obviously the given budget was created for a newlywed family of two. If we had a child, there would be more categories and higher amounts in some places. I would encourage you to sit down with your spouse and discuss a way to use this system that works for YOU! 
  • Every week I just take Ben's $10 out of his weekly envelope and give it to him to put in his wallet. He doesn't have envelopes that he carries around. :) If he needs anything in specific, I usually buy it for him, or he comes and gets his hobby money out of the box. I also always have the cash for our meals if we are eating out somewhere, which hasn't bothered us at all. 
  • If you are single, even being a college student, I really think this can work for you too. Sit down and think about the areas in which you save money, and equip yourself for future savings! Ladies, think about how awesome it would be to surprise your future husband with money you have been saving for your future with him. Even if you are totally single now, you never know when this may change. I know that providing is the male's role in the relationship, but it couldn't hurt to help out a bit! :) 
  • My favorite thing about the envelope system is that it allows you to spend your money GUILT FREE. Because your amounts and categories have already been set, you don't have to feel like the money could be going to good use elsewhere. I have $80 a week for groceries, and I can use that amount, buying lots of great fresh produce and whatnot. The money has been given a place to go and it's okay to spend it, as long as it's done with thought!
  • Keep in mind that it takes a little bit to get used to this system! Give yourself grace! The first month we used the system, we only used it for groceries, before going to everything. Again, figure out something that works for you. 
  • I will use this system until I'm an old lady. TRUTH. 
If you've skimmed this post and think it may benefit you later in life or you want to come back to it later, or just want to support our blog, go ahead and put your mouse over the image below, and pin this post to your Pinterest board! 


Let me leave you with this encouraging scripture that has helped me through this process. 

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." - Hebrews 12:11 

Again, PLEASE feel free to email me if you have any questions. If you are shy to reach out, remember that it would be so welcomed by me, and it would encourage me so much! 

Have you tried this? Does any of my lengthy spiel make sense? Do you want to pull your hair out? Do you have any questions you want to ask off the top of your head? Are you wondering where Matilda's $10 weekly fund is?!?!?! Comment Below. :) 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Callie Edmonds: Blog Design

Introducing, my friend Callie's new blog!


Callie is a sorority sister and a dear friend whom I have had the pleasure of knowing during college. She came to me a few weeks ago asking for help with setting up her new blog. Why did Callie suddenly need a blog? She is going to be serving as a Connections Ministry intern at The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas! Callie needed a tool to communicate with her supporters and friends as she journeys on the path that the Lord has set before her in ATX. During college, Ben and I visited The Austin Stone once with some friends and really enjoyed our time there. It's such an encouragement for us to see friends of ours serve in various capacities. 

Callie was brave enough to let me design her whole blog! WHAT?! Who even knew I could do that? As I have started experimenting with some graphic design basics, I've loved every bit of it, and Callie's blog taught me so much. For that, I am thankful. If you are in need of a simple and inexpensive blog design, party invitation, or announcement of any kind... email me! (victoriastrader9@gmail.com) I'd love to chat with you about your needs and create something lovely together! 

If you are looking for someone to support financially or through prayer, Callie is someone that we wholeheartedly trust and support in ministry. Check out her blog, encourage her, and follow along with the encouragement of her faith journey of obedience! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

FINANCIAL PEACE: Celebrating FPU Graduation !

As of last night, we are officially done with Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University! WHOOP! I started to share a little bit of our financial journey here, and reaaaaaally wanted to share all about the Envelope System today. But alas, this post is going to be a lengthy one. Writing it is teaching me so much and making me understand what the life of a full-time blogger is really like! (for the big dogs like Young House Love or Cupcakes and Cashmere or Southern Weddings!) I am loving the process, but it looks like y'all will be learning about digging into your finances with envelopes on Monday!

I was so excited for us to finish Financial Peace because it was a reason to celebrate. One of my favorite things is looking back, reflecting, and celebrating! I believe in celebrating life's accomplishments, big and small. Birthdays, graduations, passing tests, paying off debt, getting a new job... All reasons to CELEBRATE!

As I have already shared, this process has been huge for us, and our friends that we have walked through this process with. You can read more about Coltin and Chelsea's journey on their blog.. but sneak peek.. during the process they sold Coltin's car that they were making payments on, so that they could pay 100% cash for a cheaper vehicle. They were proactive about eliminating debt in their lives and it was so incredible to see happen. For us, our spending habits have totally changed, we finally started sticking to a budget, and every dollar has a place to go. Our giving has grown and gotten more creative! (that's probably my favorite thing about this whole process!) We celebrated the end of this video series and our accomplishments with burgers, pink lemonade, and FPU themed cookies! We dined, took a few photos, and watched the last video in FPU on Giving. It was such a sweet time!







Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Salt Lake City Getaway Weekend

As you may have read here, we jetted off to Salt Lake City on Saturday morning. We love to travel, and because neither of us had ever been to Utah, we were so excited to see what this portion of the country had to offer. We were greeted by the cleanest city that I have LITERALLY EVER SEEN, gorgeous mountain views, and lots of healthy looking people. :) Maybe it was a coincidence, but we felt like every single person we saw was gorgeous and fit! Our conclusion was that when people are living around all of the beautiful scenery, they develop a more active lifestyle. Let's be real, Ben was dreaming of hiking the entire trip. We may not have gotten a hike in, but here's a little look at our quick trip to SLC!


Our lovely hotel room looked more Southern than expected, but we had no problem with that! By day two, we were listening like hawks for a familiar "y'all" among all the "you guys"!


After exploring the city a little bit, we decided to drive through the mountains and snoop on all the beautiful and unique homes. Some of them were SO modern! We also found a scenic overlook, which is where the following few photos were taken. We enjoyed traveling just the two of us, but missed having family around to snag photos of us together, haha!





On Sunday, we decided to drive thirty minutes over to Park City, where the 2002 Winter Olympic Games took place! We got a look at some beautiful views in the car ride over, and then sampled a bunch of yummies at the farmers market that was taking place on Main Street that day!




After lunch in town, we went to the Olympic Park for a show, the "Flying Ace All Stars". We basically got to watch skiers and snowboarders practice their tricks. I had no idea that the way these athletes trained is by practicing their flips into a large pool. We LOVED it. Watching these talented people flip and spin and just be awesome was so entertaining. Even just swimming through the pool with all their gear on looked miserable, and the announcer said that is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in the beginning. This show was one of those things where you kind of have to choose between taking photos or really enjoying it. I chose watching it, but did include one photo of a flip! 







After the show, we explored the grounds a little bit and rode the chairlift. I was terrified of that, to say the least. I love the Olympics, so this was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip.







After we got back from Park City, we watched Despicable Me 2 in one of the Salt Lake theaters and ate the most delicious clam chowder at Market Street Grill. We may or may not have liked this place so much that we ate there twice. :) Our last day in Utah was much more chill, we just explored some more, enjoyed a few coffee shops and other fun places!


My favorite eatery of the trip was Eva's Bakery. You may have seen an Instagram I posted of this place. It was a little french bakery and it just had the most incredible atmosphere. We loved that!

When we were driving to a coffee shop later in the day, we saw this:


So naturally I yelled and pointed and made Ben turn around so we could check out Mini's Cupcakes! I was super excited and asked the lady working a million questions about the shop and their cupcakes. She wasn't really feeling it. But whatever! I got the shop's most popular cupcake, "The Audrey". We loved that they were a lot smaller than the usual cupcake, a perfect little mid afternoon pick me up!


We loved our few days in this fun, new state... but are so thankful to be home. I know this is cheesy and cliche, but every time we travel I realize all over again how much I love our house, and where we live in general. I don't think there has been a single time that I've traveled when I haven't said "God Bless Texas" at least once when we got back home.

Has anyone else been to Salt Lake, or anywhere fun recently? Anyone love the Olympics? Or cupcakes? Anyone think that grouchy cupcake sales ladies don't go with the cupcake mood?

I am so excited to share more posts about financial wisdom in the next week! It was so encouraging to get so much feedback from the first post I wrote about it. I am so excited to share more of our journey with y'all and to learn from you lovely people!