Lessons from my cat – be playful, curious, and stress-free

As you can probably imagine, I eagerly follow the stats on my blog page, excited every time I see that someone has viewed a post, and ecstatic when they “like” it!  Since sharing my blog on Facebook, I’ve gotten a lot more traffic on my blog page (thanks everyone!).  I’ve been paying attention to which posts seem to be most popular so that I can determine what people are interested in reading about.  I’m equally as interested to see which topics aren’t quite as popular.

Surprisingly, the posts I’ve written on having fun with your money, the very same posts that I have so much fun writing, seem to not be as popular as the other posts I’ve written.  I’ve been asking myself why that could be, and had an inspiration from my cat this afternoon!

Two years ago, my husband and I adopted an adorable black kitten, Oliver.  He was found by my coworker in an abandoned parking lot when he was 4 months old, and we were thrilled to adopt him and make him part of our family.  He has quite the spunky personality – he is not a typical lazy lap cat.  He is always exploring and playing.

Copyright 2014 - Sweet Doll Designs
Copyright 2014 – Sweet Doll Designs

I took him outside on our porch this afternoon to play.  It’s a gorgeous fall day and he was enjoying chasing the leaves and munching on a few.  As I watched him play, I realized that we should all be more like our pets.  By that, I mean we should all be more playful, curious, and stress-free!

Copyright 2014 - Sweet Doll Designs
Copyright 2014 – Sweet Doll Designs

That got me to thinking about the fun with money posts I’ve written.  I think people are used to thinking of money as a super serious topic.  It is, there is no question about it – without money, life could be a lot harder.  However, it’s not a bad thing, and actually a great thing, to be more playful, curious, and certainly less stressed about our money.

Think about other things you have fun doing.  For example, most of us cook for ourselves.  It’s fine to follow a recipe exactly, and that’s probably what we all do the first time we make it.  But isn’t it more fun to experiment with the recipe the next time you make it?  You might play with the spices, ingredients, and side dishes.  Do you find that you learn more about the recipe when you play with it?  I do!

What if you applied the same concept to your money?  Go ahead and buy a state quarter map (read more here) or a National Park quarter map (read more here).  Mark your money and track it on the Where’s George website (read more here).  Pay more attention to all aspects of your money, including the designs on our paper currency (read more here)!  Let go of your tendency to be so serious about your money, if only for a few minutes.

You might be surprised what you learn when you play with your money!  How do you have fun with your money?

Copyright 2014 - Sweet Doll Designs
Copyright 2014 – Sweet Doll Designs

What lessons have you learned from your pets?  How can you apply those lessons to your money?  Comment below!

Happy decoding!

Fun fact for today – In 2013, Americans spent $55.7 billion (yes, with a B!!) on their pets.  It is expected that number will reach $60 billion in 2014! (Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/americans-spent-a-record-56-billion-on-pets-last-year/)

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Holiday planning – Start your list

Copyright 2014 - Sweet Doll Designs
Copyright 2014 – Sweet Doll Designs

I don’t know about you, but this year has flown by for me!  Now that we’re in October, it’s officially the last quarter of 2014!  That got me to thinking that the Holidays are just around the corner – now is the perfect time to start planning for them.

I know, you might be thinking that it’s not even Halloween yet, so why should you think about the holidays now?!  Well, it’s because the Holidays will be here before we know it and we need to start getting prepared so that we don’t have to run around like crazy and spend more money than necessary to get ready at the last minute.

When you start planning for the Holidays this far in advance, you have time to buy gifts on sale, pay for regular processing and shipping charges (instead of rush fees and overnight shipping), and save money a bit at a time so that you don’t have to charge all your purchases on your credit card.  Now is the perfect time to use the $5 bills you’ve been saving, or even consider using the change you’ve rolled.

To start, just sit and think about your favorite holiday experiences.  Are they with family?  Do they involve special menus?  Do you enjoy sending out special Holiday cards?  Have you started thinking about what to buy for your family and friends?

If you answered yes to being with family, does visiting them involve travel?  If it means plane travel, start looking at plane tickets and consider booking your flight now before the prices start to skyrocket.

If you enjoy making special food for your family get-togethers (even if it’s bringing a side dish to Nanny’s house and not cooking the entire meal), start thinking about what you want to make this year and write down the ingredients list.  If possible, estimate the cost of the ingredients you’ll need and start putting that money to the side.

If you’re planning on sending out a picture Holiday card of your family, go to the park and play around with taking fun family photos together.  Also go on the website of the company you’d like to create your card to see how much they will cost.  Start putting that money to the side.

Now start thinking about the presents you want to give to people this season.  Remember that they don’t always have to be store-bought.  Think creatively!  Maybe you can knit a pair of socks for Nanny to keep her feet toasty warm this winter.  Or maybe Mom would like a framed photo of a beautiful flower that you took this Spring.  It’s not a bad thing if you buy all your presents from the store, either.  My point is that it’s a good idea to start thinking now about each person on your list and what gift they might appreciate receiving.  Then do a little research to determine how much each gift (or the materials to make the gift) will cost.  You guessed it, put that money to the side, too.

I’ve created an Excel spreadsheet to help you organize your Holiday gift list.  If you’d like to receive this free resource, please fill out the form below.

Remember that you’re just starting these lists and they can be tweaked between now and the Holidays.  But it’s helpful to start getting prepared now!

Ok, now go back to planning your Halloween costume! 🙂

Happy Decoding!

Fun fact for today – Over $220 million worth of poinsettias are sold during the holidays! (Source: http://fun.familyeducation.com/december-holidays/history/35012.html)

Reboot your life – take care of yourself

Last week, we talked about regrouping after a job loss (click here to go back to that post).  It occurred to me during the week that this advice doesn’t necessarily have to apply to a job loss situation – it can apply to any situation in which you feel the need to reboot your life, either voluntarily (you feel you need a career shift) or involuntarily (you’re laid off from your job).

So let’s continue with the advice, keeping in mind that it can apply to any situation that you may be facing.

1) Your health is your most important asset

We ended last week with this advice (click here to go to last week’s post), talking about buying quality food for your family that’s on sale.  What I didn’t address is physical activity.

When you were cutting out unnecessary expenses, you may have had to cut out your gym membership.  However, that doesn’t mean the end of your physical activity.  If the weather is nice outside, go for a walk around your neighborhood, go for a hike with your family, or just walk up and down the stairs in your house.  Also, many exercise videos can be found on You Tube!

Exercising releases endorphins in your brain which help with cognitive thinking and will make you feel happier.  You don’t need much activity in order to experience a mood shift – just 15 minutes at a time will do!

One day this week, I was having a rough day and was in a really bad mood.  After a while I decided that enough was enough, so I took a break from my desk and went for a 15 minute walk up and down the road where I work.  I was amazed at how much better I felt when I got back to my desk – my mood was drastically improved for the rest of the day!

2) Get your zzzzzz’s!

Getting plenty of rest during a stressful time in your life is so important.  Your body needs sleep to refuel itself with enough energy for the next day.  If you skimp on sleep, you’ll find that you’re more irritable and not able to make good decisions.  When you sleep without an alarm, how long do you sleep – 6, 8, 9 hours?  Determine the optimal amount of sleep your body needs and make sure you get that amount each night.

3) The power of “Ohm”

http://izquotes.com/quote/297814
http://izquotes.com/quote/297814

I have been reading lately about meditation and I’m amazed to hear of its positive benefits: stress reduction, immune system enhancement, and it helps you keep things in perspective, to name a just few.  There are many articles, books, and You Tube videos on how to meditate that will help you start your practice.  You can also use yoga or walking as a meditation.  Quiet your mind, let your thoughts come in and go out, especially the negative thoughts of doubt and fear.  Don’t linger on any one thought.  Just be.  This will take practice, but it’s worth it.

4) Think creatively!

If you’re in need of more income, start to think creatively.  Do you have a hobby or craft that you love doing that you can sell?  If you knit, perhaps you can knit cute baby hats and sell them online.  If you love woodworking, consider designing a hallway table that you can make and sell.  You imagination is the limit!

5) Spending diary

Do you keep a spending diary?  Simply write down EVERY TRANSACTION that you make each day.  Tracking this information is a great way to really see how much you’re spending in every category (like food, clothing, and entertainment).  It will also help you determine if there are any areas where you can cut out unnecessary expenses.  Perhaps you didn’t realize you really spend that much on coffee out each week!  It can be an eye-opening exercise.

If you’re interested in more information on keeping a spending diary, please visit this post.

What do food, exercise, sleep, and meditation have to do with your finances?  When you’re rebooting your life, strength and energy are essential, and it’s important to have reserves of both to last you over the long haul.  The only way to do that is if you’re well rested, properly nourished, clear-headed, and calm.

Stay tuned for more tips on rebooting your life.  In the meantime, take care of yourself!

Happy Decoding!

Fun fact for today – The security thread and micro printing found on currency today was first used in 1990 on $50 and $100 bills (Source: http://blog.lendingclub.com/the-us-dollar-bill-50-fascinating-facts/).