Basic Budgeting Tips for Paying Off Debt

If you’re like roughly 80% of the U.S. population, you more than likely have some form of debt, whether that’s credit cards, student loans, car payments or mortgages. It has become almost a right of passage as an adult. You go to college and rack up thousands in students loans. You graduate and “gift” yourself a brand new car payment (gee thanks!). You get married (or don’t- you do you) , and you make the biggest investment to date, buying a house. And if kids are in your future, prepare yourself for thousands of dollars in medical bills because insurance doesn’t cover everything and even healthy people can end up in the hospital.

Basically what I’m saying is, I’m right there with you. I grew up with parents who set a great example for financial independence but I also grew up in a world that encouraged me to take out thousands of dollars in loans to finance an education with the understanding that I would then work for decades to pay them off. If you ask me, that’s a crap deal. So a little over a year ago, my husband and I decided no more. We weren’t going to do the debt thing any longer and we got really serious about paying it all off. Mind you, we bought a house, had a baby, took vacations and have lived our lives all at the same time. We are not debt free but we are well on our way and the biggest take away has been our understanding of what debt really is and why we as a family are making some big changes.

There are TONS of resources out there that can help you pay off debt quickly and encourage a “beans and rice diet” to get you to those financial goals. If that’s your thing, then this post likely won’t be helpful. But if you’re just trying to get your finances on track, pay off debt, and still enjoy your stage of life, this is going to speak to you. Below are some of the ways we have really focused our intentions are made a huge impact on our financial future.

Stop Using Credit Cards 

Ya’ll this one is HUGE. I don’t care if you are a responsible adult that only uses credit cards for this or that, blah blah blah. If you have debt, then credit cards are not your friend. Hopefully you have some semblance of a savings account. If you do not, you need to stop what your doing and save $1000 ASAP. Once you have a safety net, then you can focus on your debt. Growing up, my parents made me save half of my paycheck which felt like a punishment but as an adult I’m so grateful that saving money was ingrained in me early on. A savings account is your emergency fund, NOT credit cards. It is far too likely that if you use a credit card, even if you intentions are to pay it off within a month, you won’t. That means you pay interest on that balance which is money you could be using for other things. If you don’t have the money for something right now, then you can’t afford it so do yourself a favor, cut up the cards or put them in a safe place OUT of your wallet so the temptation to use them is gone.

Prioritize Your Debt

This will be different for everyone. High interest rates can be a scary thing but small victories can also be super motivating. It’s up to you to decide what your goals are with your debt payoff. For us, we starting attacking small balances first. That helped us cut down on the number of accounts we had to keep track of very quickly and the money that we were using for those smaller payments could then be applied to the next account on our list. Some people prefer to take down bigger debts with higher interests rates first. My only critique with this approach is that it can tend to feel like using a squirt gun to fight a house fire. Your efforts are far more subtle and can take longer which can lead to you loosing steam. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you can stick to and see it through.

Consider a “No Spend” Month

This is pretty much what is sounds like- a month where you don’t spend any money outside of your bills, groceries, and transportation costs. This was something we did to really get an understanding of where our money was going. We wrote out our budget for the month, including anything that we knew we were going to have to purchase. Birthday gifts, dinner out with friends, it was all included but once the budget was set, there were no impromptu dinners out, amazon purchases or target runs. If we absolutely needed something, then that money needed to be taken from another designated fund, so less money for gas, or groceries, etc. We were amazed at how much money we had left over at the end of the month and that became our first big payment towards our closing costs, money we thought we’d have to take out of our savings. This takes a lot of cooperation and dedication but it really does help you understand how you feel about money and some of the ways that you can really tighten up your budget.

Your Tax Return is Not a Bonus 

This one is a two part-er. With tax season coming to a close, many of us are waiting on that sweet sweet refund check or freaking out that we are paying in this year. Let me be very clear. Your tax refund is money that you LEANT to the government for a year, and now they are paying you back. It is not a bonus. So let’s all agree to use that money for good and not evil. Using that money to pay off a balance will put you in a much better financial position than using it to eat out, get your hair done, or buying 45 unnecessary things from Target… you get me?

Piggy backing off of that, you should be able to pay your bills with your regular income. So anything extra that you bring in each month, should be money you can put towards your debt. If you can’t cover your regular expenses, nothing extra, with your regular paychecks then you need to look at what you can cut back on. Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, and other subscriptions might feel like necessities but they can add up quickly. By eliminating extra expenses that you don’t actually need, you can free up more money in your budget to help get you in the black.

Remember You Aren’t Perfect

Some months, you will be the debt payoff GODDESS you were meant to be. Others, you will have expenses pop up, unexpected bills or spend more on groceries and eating out than you expected. As long as you aren’t going into debt further, you are still on track. Coming from an all or nothing type of person, this is really hard! Just remember that you are doing your best and as long as you are continuing to push forward towards your financial goals, you will get there.

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Cleaning Product Round-up

When was the last time you went through the cleaning supplies under your sink.. It’s probably been a hot minute. I feel you. Before we dive too deep into our spring cleaning, let’s take a look at the cleaning supplies you plan on using and decide whether or not they are the best option for cleaning your home.

With a toddler around, it’s important for us to make sure cleaning supplies aren’t accessible to our little rugrat but it’s also important for us to do our homework and make sure we’re using non-toxic cleaning supplies. Today I will cover common household cleaners and their “cleaner” dupe for making your household safer for your family.

Standard Glass Cleaner vs. 50/50 Vinegar Water 

This alternative to common window cleaners is safe and also CHEAP. Mix 50/50 distilled water and white distilled vinegar inside of a spray bottle and enjoy a non-toxic, streak free shine on all of your windows!

Common All Purpose Cleaner vs Thieves/On Guard

I recently made the switch to using Thieves/On Guard (whichever you prefer, I use both!) all purpose cleaner. I had been using Method brand all purpose sprays but still felt like the scents were a little too harsh. It’s still a “cleaner” option over Lysol or Clorox sprays as it is plant derived, but it still contains ingredients that you wouldn’t want your baby putting in their mouth.. With your homemade Thieves/On Guard spray, you can basically clean anything. I have used it to clean the upholstery on our couches, disinfect toys, spray carpets and rugs to deodorize, cleanup spills, wash the high chair.. The list goes on! And the best part is that it’s completely safe for your little one. No need to rinse.

Disinfecting Wipes vs Green Works Wipes

Being mindful of the amount of waste we produce is so important. Did you know that almost all disinfecting wipes are not biodegradable? That’s right folks. They are made of synthetic fibers that decompose slowly in our landfills. And most name brand wipes use a solution that is to be rinsed thoroughly with water, especially if you are cleaning an area that will be in contact with food. I used these bad boys for YEARS until I learned the truth.. A better solution is the Green Works Compostable Cleaning Wipes. These wipes are made of natural wood-based fibers and are made with 97% naturally derived ingredients. They make quick clean-ups a breeze, they’re safe for our little ones and they are better for our planet. Win, win, win.

As you begin your spring cleaning, I hope you keep these swaps in mind. In the end, you will have a clean home, more money in your pocket and our earth will thank you. Friends don’t let friends clean with chemicals. Happy Cleaning!

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Chipotle Lime Chicken Salad

This recipe is one of my favorite meal planning hacks and is totally sustainable to whatever ingredients you have in your kitchen. Just a couple super simple ingredients and minimal effort for maximum flavor and it gets better the longer the flavors meld together. It’s perfect to make on a Sunday and eat throughout the week. Put it on a salad, in a wrap or just eat it on it’s own and you will thank yourself for this killer lunch option.

You will need:

Primal Kitchen’s Chipotle Lime Mayo: You can make your own chipotle lime mayo fairly easily but this is an easier hack and will last longer in the fridge than your homemade option. Plus, no cleanup!

Rotisserie Chicken or Two Chicken Breasts, shredded: If using chicken breasts, you can cook them in a crockpot and shred them ahead of time or just chill them before making the rest of the dish. Rotisserie chicken can be shredded easily and depending on your preferences, you can use both white and dark meat for more developed flavors.

Roasted, un-salted cashews: This is a go-to for me but slivered almonds, roasted peanuts, pecans, whatever nuts you’d like to give this recipe a little crunch. If you are nut free, then simply omit this ingredient.

Green Onion: I personally like green onions for this dish because they tend to be a bit more mild when it comes to sharp oniony flavor. But whatever onion you have on hand will be just as good.

Grapes, dried cranberries, raisins, whatever you like: I personally love a good fruit option. Fresh grapes will give this dish a nice crispness, dried fruit will give some sweetness but watch out for added sugars.

Toss it all in a bowl and mix! It’s really is that simple. The best part about this recipe is really no measuring is needed. Use ratios that make sense for your tastes and what you have on hand. Then start with 1-2 spoonfuls of the chipotle lime mayo and mix. Keep adding little by little until you get the creaminess you want. Store it in the fridge and enjoy!

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This should be your first step toward toxin-free living

We have all heard about it. Maybe you’ve even tried a couple and decided, “it’s not for me…” I’m talking about natural deodorant.

I’ve been there. When we were trying to conceive, I made a goal to start working my way toward a toxin-free life and I knew that changing my deodorant needed to be my first step. I wasted so much time and money trying to find a natural deodorant that actually worked.

Many deodorants contain aluminum, fragrance, parabens and many chemicals that can be harmful to your liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Toxins like DEA have been banned in Europe as it is a known carcinogen and aluminum has been linked to disrupting estrogen levels and contributing to Alzheimer’s disease. The effects of these toxins building up in our bodies over time can be detrimental and as I did more research, I knew it was time to make the change.

While on my hunt for something that worked, Emily told me about this natural deodorant she had been trying out by Primally Pure. So I purchased the Lavender Deodorant expecting the same outcome as the others but to my surprise, it actually worked! For the first week of use I noticed sweat, a lot of sweat as my body worked to rid itself of the heavy metals and toxins it was used to. For those of you that don’t know, the aluminum in deodorant is added to clog pores and prevent you from sweating (aka. antiperspirant) so eliminating this ingredient allows your body to start doing it’s job and sweat out toxins. LIKE IT SHOULD. Once I adjusted to the new deodorant, my body actually started to regulate it’s sweat production and I no longer had an issue with pitting out my shirts during the day. It smells LOVELY and it shows up to WORK. I opt for Lavender and place my order every 3 months (yep, it lasts a LONG time and I buy the small bottle) but it comes in a bunch of other awesome scents like Blue Tansy and Geranium. They also carry Charcoal and Unscented for the sensitive armpits out there.

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@oakesmama

I have now been using Primally Pure Deodorant for almost 3 years. We brought a healthy baby boy into the world in 2017 and this deodorant holds up for this active mama with a rowdy 17 month old. I am confident in saying that I never intend to switch deodorants and there is nothing I would change about this amazing product. I am so very passionate about sharing my experience with Primally Pure products with everyone I know as I truly believe in their quality and want everyone to benefit from toxin-free products.

If you have tried it all and still haven’t found something that works, seriously give this a try. Use code GODDESS10 for 10% off your purchase and thank me later 😉

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New Month, Fresh Start

It’s a brand new month and even though the temps are still chilly in MN, April means its officially spring and warmer temps are on the way. After a long, Minnesota winter there is nothing I crave more than opening up all the windows and tackling our spring cleaning checklist. But dusting out the cobwebs and shaking out the rugs aren’t the only things on my list.. April is a great time to clean out your pantry cupboard, your closet (your child’s closet) and even your makeup bag.

Cleaning Product Roundup

It’s probably been a hot minute since you’ve inventoried your cleaning supplies under the kitchen or bathroom sink.. Out with the old, in with the new! I will be sharing what cleaning products I use for all of my spring cleaning and where you can find them. But let’s be honest, Target. It’s always Target..

Pantry Re-stock

Time to simplify dinner time by cleaning up your pantry. I will walk you through what you should probably toss, what you should donate to your local food shelf and what you should realistically keep on hand to keep your cupboards clean and make meal time a breeze.

Makeup Bag Clear-out

It’s that time of year to start thinking about BB creams and waterproof mascara! I will be sharing some of my favorite brands and clean beauty products for summer.

De-cluttering with a toddler

Guys, this is a tough one but I promise it’s easier than you think. I’m going to walk you through how we organize our sons toys, how we get him to join in on cleanup time and what to do about the clutter.

It’s going to be an awesome month, you guys! And if you’re feeling inspired to get started early on your spring re-fresh, keep an eye on Emily’s Instagram for some fresh paint inspiration! She’s redecorating her bedroom and it’s going to be a springtime DREAM! @emilygomezwellness

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Simplifying Your Skin Care

As a mom of a very active infant who is currently refusing to sleep in her own bed, I need simple routines in my life. Complicated regimens with too many steps, to-dos or requirements don’t work for my current lifestyle, so when I decided to really focus on cleaning up my skincare products, I knew I needed less products that gave me the most bang for my buck. Here are four items that I’ve found to be “must-haves” for anyone who needs a simple and effective skincare routine.

I’ve written about collagen peptides before in our Collagen Smoothie Bowl Recipe and they have been a total game changer. I started adding them to my morning routine a couple month ago and I will be the first to admit I was skeptical. I wondered if I was just getting sucked into a fad supplement routine but I’m here to tell you this stuff works. I originally wanted to take them as a joint support supplement but the benefits I’ve seen go FAR beyond that. Hair and nails that grow like weeds are an added bonus but skin elasticity and overall complexion improvements are the real winners here. I put one scoop of beef collagen peptides in my morning coffee and I have seen a world of difference with my overall texture of my skin. Improving your skin from the inside out will make a huge difference in how you absorb topical products as well.

When it comes to cleansing and moisturizing your girl has tried everything. Drugstore brands, Proactive, Dermalogica, natural remedies and I’ve always had some form of a breakout every few weeks. After having a baby, my skin went from oily to dry and everything I thought I had learned about my skin was useless. I knew I wanted to try Beauty Counter for a long time but the prices made me shy away, hoping I would find a cheaper option that would be my magic acne cure. I decided as a gift to myself for the holidays I would go all in and purchase the Countermatch Regimen to try out the entire line and see what products worked.  If you have the funds to purchase the whole kit, girlfriend DO IT! But if you’re looking for the essential must haves, the cleansing balm and Countermatch moisturizer are it. The cleansing balm is my all time favorite and they have a travel size for $40 that has lasted forever! It’s a mask, a cleanser, a moisturizer and heaven all in one little jar. I was super skeptical about cleansing with such a thick and “greasy” balm but it’s so soothing on your skin and leaves you dewey, not oily. I would 1000% buy it again.

My daily moisturizer for the past few months has been the Countermatch Adaptive Moisture lotion by Beauty Counter. I love their products because I can feel good knowing there are no harsh chemicals or additives that wreak havoc on your body over time. It’s perfectly lightweight and is designed to match the moisture needs of your skin which literally can change from day to day. I put this on my wet skin and allow it to fully absorb before putting on my makeup for the day. A little goes a long way and I love how lightweight it is. Perfect for any season too which I love because that means I’m not having to switch out products for the summer. 10/10 would recommend.

The last thing I’ve implemented is DIY Dermaplaning- basically shaving my face. Ya’ll this one is key because if your skin is covered in hair, dead skin cells and remnants of your makeup, those amazing (expensive) products you’re putting on top are not getting the chance to soak in to the deeper layers of tissue. I am NOT trained to do this but I watched a few YouTube videos and feel confident doing this for me, and only me. I use an eyebrow razor that I get in the makeup section at Target, my cleansing balm and warm water to give myself a little mini facial about once a month. After cleansing, I keep my skin moist and carefully shave away the top layer of gunk going both directions. It takes 10 minutes and my skin is left feeling amazing. I then apply a good layer of my balm to soak in for the evening.

Ya’ll I am by no means a beauty guru but I have a fine appreciation for taking good care of the only skin I’ve been given. As I get older, safer yet effective products that are not a massive waste of money are super important to me so I’m happy to share these picks with you in the hopes that you find them useful!

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