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Setting Goals & Getting it Done

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setting goals & getting it done

Trying to change my world is hard work. I know what I need to do, but I still need to decide about the best way to make things happen. For instance, I realize that I spend too much money eating out. While eating in sounds like a simple enough solution, there’s a lot of reverse engineering that goes into sustaining a healthy diet at home. From meal planning to grocery shopping and prepping ahead – there’s a lot there. And there are also considerations for my later work shift, like having to pack a lunch and a dinner that I may not be able to reheat as I’m often out and about in the community.

It’s usually about this time that I start getting a little obsessive. I start creating overly elaborate meal plans and spend a lot of time in grocery stores looking for things like smoked paprika and cardamom seeds. FYI, black cardamom seeds have a beautiful smoky flavor that’s perfect for savory dishes. Alternatively, green cardamom seeds offer a lovely swirl of strong and sweet with pungent undertones. While these things are good to know, they end up distracting me from developing maintainable habits for prepping and eating at home. Sometimes I end up becoming overwhelmed and abandon my very worthy goal.

For now, I’m focusing on doing small shops at the grocery store. I’ve gone overboard in the past and had to throw things out after spending hundreds of dollars to eat at home. This time, I am trying something different. Yesterday, I bought $20 worth of vegetables and cut them up to eat with hummus. It’s an easy snack, and I’m not engaged in this dramatic race against time to eat ten pounds of vegetables before they expire. It’s a small thing, but I feel it’s a step in the right direction.

What’s important about learning something new is figuring out how to make it work for me. If you think back to school, you probably remember the students who studied with flashcards while others just read through the textbook. The same thing applies now for my grand and great eating at home goal. So, I’m pretty good at finding tasty recipes and putting together a list for shopping. Recognizing strengths like this one help me push through some of the tougher stuff.

One of my challenges is big box stores – I hate them so much. In fact, I think mega-marts are a diabolical Lord of the Flies social experiment featuring a giant rat maze populated with thousands of tense, grabby people who use their shopping carts like battering rams. Consequently, I shop at more expensive market-type stores that offer a slightly more sedate shopping experience. I don’t always get the best deal, but I don’t have to be a gladiator to get through the games. It’s a concession I’m willing to make to get the job done.

You might be asking yourself why I’m boring you with opinions about cardamom seeds and Walmart Supercenters. After all, I’m here to talk about what I’ve done to cut costs and boost savings. I stand to save a substantial amount of money if I can put this into place, but I’m not perfect. I still think it’s valuable to share my experience with the ‘softer side’ of setting money goals. Personally, I know sharing these experiences with you helps me be better – and more accountable. Maybe you folks have ideas that I haven’t considered?

The other point to sharing my random culinary adventures is that nobody gets it right all the time. Putting my struggles into print might help someone understand they aren’t the only ones trying to figure it out. In my opinion, the endless parade of super-shiny perfect pictures on social media is a massive contributor to mental health issues today. So this is me not being shiny or perfect.

Photo by Priyanka Singh on Unsplash

Skipping the holidays

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The title ‘skipping the holidays’ may be a little mis-leading but it suits where my mind is at right now. Hear me out.

I’ve been in the stores more this past couple of weeks than I have in probably months. Shopping for the twin’s, the house and so on. I’ve just ventured out a bit more than normal. As a result, I’ve been exposed to a lot more “holiday hoopla” than I typically am. (I have been an avid online shopper far longer than COVID has been around.)

And frankly, as much as I love the holiday season, beginning with just the inkling of cooler fall weather, thru to Halloween with the hundreds of kids in costumes at my grandmother’s house, to Thanksgiving in Texas with my kiddos and immediate family and then to my favorite of them all – Christmas, I’m inclined to skip most of that this year. Well maybe not most of it, but a lot of it.

Halloween

My grandmother continues to live in an assisted living facility so we did Halloween at home last year. It was a pretty big flop. And frankly, I do not need or want the candy around. Princess and Beauty have already planned their Halloween at school so I know they won’t come home and Gymnast will be out with friends I’m sure. I’m thinking of keeping the house dark and enjoying a quiet night in this year.

Skipping it in its entirety!

Thanksgiving

Our flights are booked. Even the twins’ girlfriends are going with us this year. In total, I paid $500 for our flights. My dad helped with the rest and the girlfriends paid their own way. We booked as soon as they were available to get the best deals. I’ll have to pay for parking at the airport and boarding my puppy, but otherwise, it will require minimum expenditure. And I don’t decorate my house for it because we are not here.

Skipping the heavy cost, not the event!

But…Christmas

Christmas is a completely different ball game. I like to go big at Christmas, but let’s face it, my family is so blessed. I can pretty much guarantee that none of my kids could tell you they “NEED” something. And they might even struggle to tell you anything they want that isn’t super expensive (all of them would tell you they want a car or a new car.)

While I’ve bought a few smaller things, I am seriously considering toning down our Christmas a bit. Or coming up with some different approach for the bulk of my Christmas budget rather than gifts.

With that being said, for the first time, in maybe ever, I really want to decorate for Christmas. Like I’m itching to do it already. We have decorated with a 4′ Christmas Tree from Dollar General for the last several years and frankly little else. This year, I want my house to reflect the joy I feel inside. Don’t mis-read this, I am not saying I want to spend my Christmas budget on decorations; although I do plan to get a bigger tree this year. I don’t necessarily want a bunch more stuff.

Doing it different

What I am saying is that I want to:

1. Decorate my house for Christmas (on a tight budget with minimal “stuff”) before we leave for Texas so that I can enjoy it alot longer. I was tempted to say before Halloween, but I think I can hold out until November 1st. Is that too soon considering we won’t be here for Thanksgiving?

2. Find some other way to use my Christmas budget other than just buying stuff. I do want to give some gifts, for sure, but there has to be more to this. I would love suggestions here. Things I have thought of…sponsoring some other families for Christmas, meaning the kids and I spend the Christmas budget and go together to shop for food/gifts for a couple of other families, having the kids use the money to buy some gifts for some of their friends who may not be as blessed (there is a lot of poverty around here). Maybe both?

I really want the kids to be involved and I want there to be an activity of giving, not just sending the money somewhere.

It is certainly early to be thinking of Christmas, but I’m a planner. And if we are going to do something different, I need a plan around it. Anyone here have these same types of desires? Ideas, anyone?

(And yes, I know that I could just take my healthy Christmas budget and throw it at debt. But I’m not going to. I just think our Christmas, well, it’s time for it to look and feel a bit different.)