Monday, November 17, 2014

Money Monday: Using Money as a Motivator

2 weeks ago, my husband and I were looking at the calendar and realized that Thanksgiving was only 4 weeks away. After clearing a bag of Oreo's in less than a weekend, (let's be honest, it was in less than day) I knew that I wanted to feel better before the holiday season, so I proposed an idea to my husband, a challenge. 

The $25.00 challenge:

The Rules: No sweets, no chips, no cokes, candy, juice, cookies, cakes, pastries, or refined sugar of any kind, from November 1-November 28th (Thanksgiving).

The Reward: Each week, if you do not eat any of the above referenced foods, as fun money, each person will get an additional $25.00 in fun money to spend however we like.

The Punishment: If you fail, if you eat any of the above referenced foods, you don't get your $25.00, it goes to the other person. If we both fail, then no money for either of us, at all. 

So far, we have been successful and each collected on our reward. We have tried challenges in the past, and we never stuck to them, but by making it a challenge involving money to motivate us, we have been more successful.

That led me to wonder, should you use money as a motivator?

Growing up, my parents didn't have much money, but, they did make a point reward us for our grades. In their eyes, school was a job and report cards were the fruits of our labor. When it was report card time, we received money for A's and B's, (about $20.00 total if we earned all A's and B's). They saw it as a way to keep us motivated.

On the other hand, my husband was never given money as a reward. He began working at a very young age, and he learned that if he wanted or needed something, he needed to get a job and earn the money in order to pay for it. 

We also have friends that use money to motivate their children to read and write essay's on books that they deem important. 

For us, we are on a budget, and we keep a pretty tight reign on our spending. We only get a small amount of "fun money" or "blow money" each month, so when there is an additional amount on the line, we are motivated. 

My question is, when does it stop becoming motivation, and turn into bribing? In our eyes, using money to motivate is done by setting the terms and rules in advance, but bribing is done in the moment. 

Tell Me: Do you use money as a motivator? What are your feelings on using money to motivate yourself, your kids, or others?


Monday, November 10, 2014

Money Monday--Giving Cash

 The holiday's are here. Its almost time when we as Americans lose our minds (you know we do) and start shopping. It seems as if we treat shopping as a sport, pitting one store against another, beating each other out for the best deal.
 
I made the decision earlier this year that I want to get ahead of the holiday's and get most of my shopping done by the end of November, so that way I don't have to fight the holiday crowds and limit my exposure to the chaos.
 
A few weeks ago, my husband and I sat down and created our list with the money we have saved throughout the year, and allocated dollar amounts to each person that we were buying for. 
 
With the exception of a few gifts, the majority of what we are giving is either cash or gift cards. 
For some of our best friends, each year we send a card with a Visa gift card, and tell them to enjoy a date night on us. 
 
For many of our family and friends, rather than shopping for a "gift" we end up giving them cash. We try to give it in a creative and fun way, but in the end its just cash. 
 
When my husband I were first married, we used to spend a lot of time shopping for a gift for each other. But, over time, we began to realize that we each are a bit picky, and would rather be given cash to spend as we like. In our monthly budget, we each get a certain amount of fun money, but sometimes, that is simply not enough for the things we want, so we are able to supplement with money we received from Christmas/birthday's throughout the year. 
 
For us, giving someone cash is a great gift. We don't ever want someone to feel obligated to use or keep something they don't want, so why not allow them to spend money however they want. 
 
I know that some folks consider giving cash or gift cards tacky, or a cop out, or unsentimental for not buying a specific gift. For us, we don't feel that way. I think giving someone cash, and with it a well written, thought out, and meaningful card means more than a trinket.
 
There are certain things that I have received in my life that mean the world to me, and I would never part with. But, there are very few Christmas gifts that I was given that I remember. 
 
Tell Me: Do you give cash and gift cards to people? Is the practice trash and tacky, or do you think its practical and smart?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Confessions

Hey y'all. Its Friday, so its time for our confessions!

Here we go..

1.I bought a whole bunch of decorations and crafting supplies to decorate for fall. 2 weeks later, they were still in the bag unused, so I took them back to the store and got my money back. Crafting failure.

2. I sat on a toilet in the yard and talked to neighbors. Let me give you a little back story. Our toilet in the master bathroom was not flushing, so we had to get a new one. We put the old one out in the front for the large item trash pick up, and they only pick up on Monday's, so the old toilet sat on the curb for a few days. One day, I was talking to the kids next door, and sat on the toilet while we chatted. Just doing my part to keep the neighborhood classy.

3. I have had paint in my hair for 4 days. I was painting a closet this week, and got paint in my hair. Its not yet been washed out. People are starting to notice.

4.I found my old N'SYNC c.d., and I know every word to every single song. When I was cleaning out a closet (the one I ended up painting) I found a bunch of my old c.d.'s. I ended up pulling out the N'SYNC one, and much to my husbands horror, I still knew each song by heart and most of the dance moves that go with it.  (Hu hu hu here we go, N'SYNC has got the flow).
There was a time in my life where I thought I would meet and marry Lance Bass. I was madly in love with him and thought he was the cutest thing ever. Ugh, news flash young Allison, he likes dudes, so you never stood a chance. I also was able to recount all the drama between JT and JC. I thought P would be interested, but shockingly, he wasn't. So weird.

Your turn, fess up!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Healthy Shepherds Pie: A Recipe. (And Ido am terrible at taking photos of food)

I know many of you have been experiencing fall like weather for a few weeks now. For us in Texas, it was in the 90's last week. But, the temperature has finally dropped for us. Now that its getting colder, I thought it was time to bring out the crock pot and make one of our favorite meals, Shepherd's Pie. 

This is not my recipe, but I have been making it for years. (I cannot remember where I found it either)

This is a great meal, its healthy, easy, and delicious! 

Ingredients:
Ground Bison (Can substitute group turkey or chicken)
1/2 Onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 sweet potatoes
1 bag frozen vegetables
Garlic power
Onion powder
Salt Pepper 
Beef Broth

1.Soften the sweet potatoes. This can be done either by boiling them in water for about 15 minutes or steaming them. 
2.While the sweet potatoes are softening brown your meat in a hot skillet. Once browned, drain any excess liquid, and set aside. 
3. In the skillet cook the onions until translucent then add the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. 
4. Add your protein back to the skillet and season to taste and mix well.
5. Transfer everything to the crockpot. 
6. Next, add your bag of mixed veggies. No need to defrost them. Once you add them to the crockpot the heat from the protein will do that for you. Mix everything well. 
7. Add your beef broth to the mixture. Add only enough to fill the crock pot just below the food line. Don't over fill because it will get soupy. 
8.At this point, the sweet potatoes should be soft enough to put in your food processor. Give them a whirl until they are fully creamed. 
9. Using a spatula, spread the whipped sweet potatoes over the meat and veggies. 

10. Turn on the crock pot and let it cook.
11. Take the lid off for the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow the top layer of the potatoes to crisp up slightly. 
12. Eat and enjoy!

We eat this meal at least twice a month every winter. Its healthy, filling, and we love it! 

Hope y'all like it too! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Money Monday: Warranties, Returns, and Replacements

Many of the things we purchase have warranties of some kind. I have never been one to take advantages of warranties for smaller purchases. When my husband and I make large purchases, such as at.v., washer/dryer, refrigerator, ect., we often purchase the extended warranty. We may never have to use it, but it gives us a piece of mind that we have it in case our product did not function property. 

But, for smaller items, historically, I have never taken advantage of the warranties offered by the manufacture.
A few weeks ago, I was drinking water from my Turvis Tumbler, and a friend noticed that it was extremely discolored and cloudy. He mentioned that Turvis had a lifetime warranty and all I had to do was send it in and they would replace it for free. I went to their website, filled out a form, grabbed a box from work, and sent my cup in. Two weeks later, I received a brand new cup in the mail. 

I did the same thing with the cup I use at the office, a Bubba. The insulated piece unattached from the outside holder. I went to the site filled out a form, sent it in, and again, less than two weeks later, I received a new cup. 

Those two returns ended up savings me money. Rather than purchase new cups, I spent about $12.00 in postage to receive $40.00 in new products. 

I bring all this up, because as I said, prior to these returns I never used the warranties for the products I purchased. 

Back in August, I purchased a new pair of running shoes. I live in the Brooke's Adrenalines. They are my go to running shoe, but they are not cheap. At $120.00 a pair, I try to get as much mileage out of them as I can. I had my new pair of Brooke's for about 3 weeks, and put about 60 miles on them, when the fabric along the edges began to tear. I lived with it for a few day's and finally, encouraged by my experiences with the two cups, I sent Brooke's an email and explained the problem. In return, they asked me to send in photos of the damaged shoes. Within 24 hours, I had a reply apologizing for the problem, and that I would be receiving a replacement pair of shoes within 3-5 business day's. Less than a week later, my new shoes were waiting for me on my door step. 

I was pleasantly surprised. With the exception of some torn fabric, the shoes are in great condition, and I am still running in them. And, I have a pair of brand new shoes in my closet when these wear out. For Brooke's, I am sure this was nothing but a blip on the radar, and cost them very little. But for me, a person who loves to run but will never win a race, nor sponsorships in this lifetime, it meant a great deal. I won't forget their great customer service was, and it solidified me as a customer for a very long time. 

In recent weeks, I've learned that there is no harm in speaking up. There is no harm in using a warranty for a product that you purchased. I am so much more cognizant of warranties and guarantees now as a consumer, and I am willing to go to a company to ask them to repair or replace my purchase. 

I am a firm believer that we vote with our dollars and that companies will listen to us when we speak up. 

Tell Me: Do you use warranties? Any companies worth bragging about for their warranty policy? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Money Monday: Spending on Holiday Decor

The holiday's are almost here. In just 5 short day's millions of kids will go trick or treating, and then, the holiday rush will unofficially begin. Shopping, parties, cooking, and wrapping of gifts will work its way into our lives. 

We all know that Americans spend billions and billions of dollars from November-December on gifts and decor for Christmas. But, what about the holiday's that precede Christmas and New Years?

About 2 weeks ago, I was out running, and came across a house a few miles away that was already decorated for Halloween. These people spared no expense for their yard. 
This is really creepy. 
 While I was running, I began to wonder, just how much do American's spend on Halloween? 

According to the National Retail Foundation, the average American spends around $75.00 on Halloween. That includes costume, candy, decor, and party supplies. In 2013, as a country, we Americans spent $6.9 billion dollars on this holiday alone. That is a 55% increase since 2005. 

That lead me to wonder, why such a drastic increase for this single holiday?

I have no scientific research to back this up, but my guess would be the rise of Pinterest. I know for me, and my circle of friends, we don't make or decorate without heading to Pinterest first for ideas. 

On a personal level, Halloween has always been one of the cheaper holidays. Growing up, my parents didn't purchase us packaged costumes. If we wanted to dress up, we needed to plan our costume from what he had in our closets and around the house, or we could go to a thrift store and come up with something that way. Most years, my brother and I were able to piece together costumes for less than $10.00. 

As an adult, my husband and I don't spend a ton of money on halloween. For us, our biggest expense is buying candy to pass out. Last year, I think we spent around $15.00 for a few bags of candy. Our neighbors tend to gather around outside and the adults hang out on the sidewalk or in each other's yard passing out candy and talking. 


As far as holiday decor, I rarely decorate for holiday's. We have never spent a holiday at our home. We always travel to be with family, and so I have never put the time or effort into it. Plus, I tend to be a little Type A, and a minimalist, and I don't like to see things moved around or out of place. 

Tell Me: Do you decorate for Halloween or throw a party? How much do you spend? What is your Halloween tradition?






Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Confessions

We made it to another Friday!

This week has been a busy, but productive one over here.

Anyone have any fun weekend plans?

Its Friday, so that means its time for Friday Confessions!

Here we go.

1.I asked a guy if he washed his hands after coming out of the restroom. I had a meeting and I was going to meet a vendor to do some work. He walked out of the restroom right when I walked into the lobby of the building. I walked up, shook his hand, and said "I sure hope you washed." He got red faced and didn't respond. Ugh.



2. We have been binge watching Friday Night Lights. This t.v. show is AMAZING! We watched 3 episodes each night this week, and then we both woke up at 3:30AM and watched it before work. Addicting!

3.We stared down a neighbor from our porch. Our neighbors boyfriend parks right in front of our house, right next to our driveway. It makes it really hard to back out and he parks in a way that we nearly hit his car all the time. We have asked him to stop parking so close to our driveway and give us more room. He has not. So this week, he pull up and we stood on the porch and watched him park.

All right gang, fess up!