Update: No Spend January + Resolution Check-in

You know when you feel so confident you’re going to achieve something, and you realize that it was just maybe a little too much for you to chew? Yeah, I bit waaaaay too much off for the month of January with my “no-spend” rule. I’m pretty sure I caved in the second week when that mid-day slump happened and Starbucks was just CALLING my name.

But, there is a silver lining…January was my BEST month in terms of spending and I am calling this little challenge a success (yes, a success) because of everything I learned and became more aware of. And, I’m going to share those sweet little nuggets of wisdom with you today!

This is 100% NOT sponsored, but I wanted to share the tool that I find to be the most helpful for budgeting! I use Mint.com to keep track of my spending. It makes it so easy to visually see where your money is going, because let’s be real…how many people are actually using cash these days? I use debit/credit for essentially all of my transactions and being able to see them in one place, sorted by category or merchant, is super helpful. The other feature I love is being able to set goals! With the left over money from your budget, you can create various goals depending on your objectives.

We really wanted to start building back our rainy day/emergency fund after our wedding and our dog, Ace having surgery, as our savings took a bit of a hit. My other big goal this year is to pay off my student debt and credit card. I was able to create both of those goals on Mint AND it tells me exactly how long it will take depending on the amount that I put in each month. I found this extremely helpful. I wish that we were taught more about budgeting/finance in school. This stuff should be taught at an early age – it’s so important! But it’s okay, I learned about the Pythagorean theorem instead *insert eye-roll here*.

Here’s a little screenshot of the look and feel of the app from the budgeting perspective:

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And as you can see….I may or may not have hit a lot of red. BUT, what’s great about this is that it tells me exactly how much I overspent and that gives me an idea if it was something that was necessary or not. There are a couple of downsides to this app… I did pay my line of credit but for some reason the transaction didn’t pop up and same with the transfer for bills. What app doesn’t have it’s flaws though…It’s definitely worth it, even with these little hiccups.

Next, you can see trends in your spending. Who doesn’t love a pretty graph!?! I do wish I could change the colours though…

My mind is blown when I compare what I was spending LAST January (in the yellow) compared to THIS January (in the green). I mean, look at that shopping tab! The other graph compares the last 3 months, which turned out to be a significant decrease from November to January! Wooooohooo!
Below are my learns from this challenge and things that I will continue to take with me and improve on. Plus,  hopefully this will give you some insight for any of your goals/resolutions you’re still tackling!

1. Awareness

I was able to see where my money was going instead of blindly purchasing. I became more strategic about where I was spending my money and keeping an eye on my accounts! (Also super important in an era of online shopping + online fraud!!).

2. Value

I really started to look at the worth of what I was purchasing and began asking myself if things were going to serve me in a way that added value to my life. A coffee on a bad day, yes 100% worth it. A coffee everyday because I was too lazy in the morning to make it – not worth it.

3. Flexibility

This was a pretty big one for me. Life isn’t going to be perfect or cookie-cutter easy, it’s messy and it has to be flexible. Unexpected things come up and you just have to go with the flow. For instance – I lost my Presto Card (transit card) on my walk to the subway. Literally a 5 min walk. But that loss ended up costing me more money in January because I had to order a new one AND I had to spend more money on tokens. Even though this may have been a small amount – it’s still a cost that I had not expected to pay for. Being flexible and having an cushion is important!

4. Communication

When you’re spending or budgeting with a partner, it can be easy to just spend without consideration. Not because you’re meaning to do it or in spite of the other person, it can just be so easy to get caught up in your own wants/needs. This challenge was a great way to connect, plan and map out where we wanted our money to go and what our priorities were for the month.

February is going to be a lot different for us! Our puppy, Koda is getting spayed and we have Adam’s birthday this month, as well as some car repairs we need to take care of. All of which are fairly big expenses, so planning what needs to shift in our budget to accommodate these things is important to discuss together.

5. Acceptance

I am my own worst critic. That’s probably one of my biggest pitfalls and something I am always trying to navigate and improve. Through this process, I was getting upset and feeling guilty for spending when I knew I shouldn’t have been. I learned that it’s okay to drop the ball sometimes and that tomorrow is a new day to get back on the horse and try again. It’s completely unrealistic to expect change to happen overnight (or in one month). The most important thing to do is learn from your setbacks and keep pushing forward.

You can apply these to any resolution that you may have set in January. How are they holding up? Take a look at your resolutions and refresh for February! Maybe you need to start from the beginning or maybe your goals need to be shifted in some way? It’s never too late to refresh nor is it a bad thing!

Let me know in the comments below what you’ve learned from your resolutions progress so far!

❤️lxiv.

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#2018 Goals & Resolutions

Even though we’re already 8 days into 2018, I wanted to put my goals for 2018 into the universe. This is the first year that I’ve had the time to sit down and really think about what I want and what my goals for the year ahead will be. I have been loving having a routine and knowing my schedule every single day. I needed a full week over the holidays to just be by myself, reflect, plan, organize and sleep (so much sleep). My body had just been on the go and stressing out for so long that I forgot what it felt like to just sit, and do literally nothing.

To help visualize my goals for #2018, I got my inspiration from one of my fav. Toronto bloggers, Stephanie Sterjovski, and created a Pinterest board that highlights some images that inspire me and some quotes that I want to live by.

My Goals:

  1. Step up my online presence + social media game (Instagram, YouTube + Blog)
  2. Consistency in everything I do! Set my schedule and stick to it (CrossFit + Blogging + Healthy Eating, etc).
  3. Say “Yes” to things that scare me. But be okay (and not guilty) with saying “No” when I need ‘me’ time.
  4. Have fun and don’t take life so seriously. Learn to let go of the little things and be okay with letting people or things from the past go.
  5. Meal Prep + try new recipes and get my adventurous/comfortable cooking + fueling my body properly with nutritious whole foods.
  6. BUDGETING (see my No Spend January Post here). Every single month, Adam and I, are committing to budgeting our month based on what’s upcoming and what we want to save.
  7. Listen to more podcasts. I am LOVING podcasts since I have to take good ol’ public transportation to work everyday now.
  8. Make singing a priority again, figure out my direction and share music with others.
  9. Take time in the evening for quality time + puppy snuggles.
  10. Stop “snoozing” my alarm clock. Get enough Zzz’s so I don’t have to struggle out of bed in the mornings!

I know, 10 goals may seem like a lot, but there are some smaller goals and then some bigger goals, and many of them include a partner to keep me accountable. Now that they’re in the universe, I’m going to do my best everyday to work towards them, even if it’s small steps in the right direction! The most important part of moving forward with goals/resolutions is be nice to yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a few days (or weeks). I’m so guilty of being my own worst critic and can get really down when I know I’ve had a set back with something. Referring back to Goal #4, I’m going to do my best to let things go and know that tomorrow is a new day with new possibilities. Sometimes you need to give yourself a break, and then get back on the horse the next day.

What are some of your resolutions for 2018 and your pro tips on achieving them? Let me know in the comments below!

Love,

lxiv

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

I had never really been a fan of Gingerbread anything (sorry!)…I always found the spice was a little too nice and it never really tasted that good. I’m realizing as I’m getting older (sigh) that my taste-buds are changing and things I never used to like, or be drawn to, I’m giving another try – and liking them! To my surprise this Christmas season, Gingerbread Cookies happened to be one of those things.

Follow along to see some snaps on making and decorating the Gingerbread Cookies! The recipe below was adapted from Gimme Some Oven. I didn’t include the icing sugar recipe, since I prefer to use the already pre-made and pre-coloured icing from the grocery store or bulk barn!

A very special thank you to @MagicInColours Photography for the great shots! You can follow her on Facebook to see more of her work or if you’re in the GTA and want some shots taken – get in touch with her there!

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Ingredients:

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • Icing + Sprinkles/Decorations

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs and molasses, and beat on medium speed until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.
  3. Divide the dough into two equal portions, and form them each into a ball.  Then flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  4. Heat the oven to 350°F.  Unwrap the dough and place it on a large, lightly-floured hard surface.  Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough evenly until it is approximately 1/4-inch thick.  Then use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes, re-rolling the dough as needed to cut out more.  Transfer to parchment-covered baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Once the cookies are room temperature, DECORATE!

 
Don’t have the time to whip up this recipe? Check out my fast (and easy) holiday baking favourites here!

Merry Christmas!

lxiv

Gettin’ Cozy

What a crazy year it has been! Our wedding was last weekend, and we had the most amazing weather. Hard to believe last weekend was sunshine and 20 degrees when today it is 6 degrees and rainy. Now that things have settled down for us, I actually have some time to get back into blogging. My goal is to blog at least once or twice a week! What better way to get this started than to jump right into the cooler weather and talk about how to achieve “cozy” when the temperature starts to drop!

We picked up our newest furry addition, Koda, to our family on Monday and with taking her out 1000 times per day, I am definitely embracing layers and cozy scarves. This is truly what has inspired me to start blogging again, so you’ll see a lot of her on this blog! In the meantime, you can follow Ace and Koda’s adventures on their Instagram here!

Follow on to see my best tips for getting cozy!

Add a blanket or a layer. There’s nothing better than being able to curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket. Here are a few of my favourite picks right now.

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 1.23.10 PM1. Faux Mongolian Throw Ivory
2. Hudson’s Bay Company Polar Fleece Throw
3. Madeira Chunky Knit Merino Wool Throw

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Light a fall scent to get you feeling cozy. My favourite right now is the Pumpkin Soufflé candle from Anthropologie. It fills our apartment up with warm yummy scents that puts your right into the cozy spirit.

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Create a cozy vignette! Add some shine to the abundance of cozy faux fur and pillows in your home for a nice contrast. It adds such a nice touch when the candle light catches the glimmer from the shine.

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Last but not least, warm up with your favourite hot beverage. I ususally buy Apple Cider around this time of the year, but I love a good Hot Chocolate too!

Let me know in the comments below how you get cozy during the late fall/early winter months?

Love,

lxiv