Lose Weight, Not Taste

I have been trying to lose weight for some time now. I did recently lose 20 lbs due to a stressful job…however, 5 lbs found its way back to me.  I know that there are a lot of people that have troubles with losing weight. And it’s no wonder, most people assume that healthy food means absolutely NO flavor. Well, this could be further from the truth. All you need to know is the right combination of foods to put together that are healthy for you, give your body the energy it needs and tastes delectable.

One thing to realize, and it’s the one thing that most people forget, is that food doesn’t really do it alone. It takes the right combo of diet and exercise to get you to where you need to be.  Once you find that right mixture, you’ll be feeling better than ever in no time!

Over the course of the next week, I’m going to be presenting you with some healthy, tasty food options to help kick start you on the path of healthy eating. I want to hear from you. Try them out and tell me what you think! I will also present some valid exercise options for those that can’t get to the gym. Did you know your body can be a gym all its own?? Another concept that most people forget. 

P.S. I’m on the lookout for guest bloggers!  If you would like to write a post for this blog, please reach out to me!

Thanks for stopping by!
XoXo
Santana

Advertisements

Rejoining the Workforce!

So, it’s been a couple days since I’ve posted something. It’s been a little hectic around here, and I just recently got some great news! So as you are aware, I haven’t been working for a couple months now, and I have been actively looking, while still trying to maintain financially what we have going on.

I just had an interview a couple of days ago to see about going back to my old job. Well, I got the word today. I’m just happy about the idea of going back to work. The best part is I can still take the kiddos to and from school. That’s one major stress I know a lot of families deal with when they have little ones.

I’m going to be working over the next few days on posts for this blog. I am still very excited to share my knowledge with the world, and I hope you have enjoyed the posts that have been put up thus far. If there is anything in particular you would like to see up here, please let me know!  I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for stopping by!
XoXo
Santana

Teeny, Tiny Snowball, Big Financial Strides

Today’s post has to do with Financial Freedom! I bet you like the sound of that, don’t you?  Financial freedom is something that we all seek. The ability to be able to say that we don’t owe anyone anything is a dream that we all have.

What if I told you that you could accomplish this with a snowball?? I know that sounds crazy, right? But the truth is that small successes lead to even bigger ones. There are several ways to pay off debt, my favorite being The Debt Snowball. It’s pretty simple how this method works. Think of it in terms of snowball versus an avalanche (which is another method that I will cover at another time.) How does an avalanche often start? With a teeny, tiny snowball.

My husband and I have been wanting to pay off our debt for some time now. We already decided to use The Debt Snowball method to do so. It’s a simplistic way to pay off your debt without losing the momentum. Losing momentum is the biggest cause of debt payoff death, so to speak. When you don’t see progress you tend to stop doing what you’re doing, right?

When you commit to paying off debt this way, you see the small victories which make you want to keep going. Many other methods leave you waiting to see results, and that can be very frustrating. Let me explain how this wonderful method works.

The first thing you need to do is sit down with a pen and paper. I know, I know, pen and paper, so archaic. But trust me, this step is vital. Now that you have your pen and paper, write down all of your debt (anything that majorly affects your credit score falls into this… car payments, credit cards, personal loans, etc.) Now that you’ve written the names down, write down the full balance of what you owe on each one and what the monthly payment is for each.

Okay, now that you have your handy dandy list of all the money you owe from now until what seems like forever, take the list and organize it from smallest full balance to largest full balance. This is the order in which you are going to pay off your debts.

Each month you will pay your regular monthly payments for each debt on the list, however with the smallest balance throw any extra money you can at it until it is paid in full. Whew!!! One debt paid off, it feels wonderful. Now what you’re going to do is continue to pay your regular monthly payment on each remaining debt, except, now the debt that previously held the number one spot on your list is paid off. You’re going to now take the regular monthly payment you would normally put towards paying it towards the second debt on your list and any extra dough you can apply towards it. Once that one is paid off, you now have two debts checked off your list!! How exciting is that?! You will continue to repeat this cycle until all the debts on that list are paid off. Amazing what the little steps can do to help you achieve the bigger picture.

I’m going to break this down a little further below, so as to make it visually easier to understand. (Please know that these are not actual numbers but an example to assist in the learning process.)

I present Susie’s Debt. Susie was not very careful and took on way too many debts when she was in college. She got lucky and received scholarships that paid for room and board, but of course they don’t pay everything else. Susie took on too many credit cards, and she also took out a personal loan, got a car and co-signed a car with her boyfriend, who is now her husband. Now their debts are combined. Below is a list of their debts, the balances and what their monthly payments for each are.

image

We’re going to take this list and break it down for you as a Debt Snowball payment method.

Step One: Pay the regular monthly payment towards all 11 debts on list. Apply any extra payment possible towards Debt #1 to help in paying it off faster.

Step Two: Debt #1 is now paid off. It’s regular monthly payment equals $30.00. Pay regular monthly payment for Debts #3-11. On Debt #2 pay it’s regular monthly payment of $25.00, but add Debt #1’s regular monthly payment towards it. (Equalling new monthly payment for Debt #2 of $55.00) Add any extra payment towards it to pay it off faster.

Step Three: Debts #1 and #2 are now paid off. Their regular combined monthly payment = $55.00. Pay regular monthly payment for Debts #4-11. On Debt #3 pay it’s regular monthly payment of $37.00, but add Debt #1 and Debt #2’s regular monthly payment towards it. (Equalling new monthly payment for Debt #3 of $92.00) Add any extra payment towards it to pay it off faster.

Step Four: Debts #1-3 are now paid off. Their regular combined monthly payment = $92.00. Pay regular monthly payment for Debts #5-11. On Debt #4 pay it’s regular monthly payment of $53.00, but add Debt #1-3’s regular monthly payment towards it. (Equalling new monthly payment for Debt #4 of $145.00) Add any extra payment towards it to pay it off faster.

Step Five: Debts #1-4 are now paid off. Their regular combined monthly payment = $145.00. Pay regular monthly payment for Debts #6-11. On Debt #5 pay it’s regular monthly payment of $92.00, but add Debt #1-4’s regular monthly payment towards it. (Equalling new monthly payment for Debt #2 of $237.00) Add any extra payment towards it to pay it off faster.

I’m sure by this point you get the gist of how the payoff method works. You just simply keep repeating the steps each month until eventually every debt on the list is paid off. You can see the progress you make on this one and it definitely helps keep up the momentum.

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it to be highly informational. Any thoughts, questions or concerns, please leave them in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for stopping by!
XoXo
Santana

Makin’ Pretty Stuff with my Babies!

So my children have just spent the last three weeks with their grandparents. (Boy, am I lucky to have parents that would take my children for that long… plus my babies made many wonderful memories!!) I did miss them quite fiercely and they just came home last night. We spent some time over at my parents’ house celebrating Father’s Day. My loving children even assisted with preparing the feast we all enjoyed.

Now that they are home it’s time to spend some quality time together. My baby girl and I are making bracelets, because what girl doesn’t love jewelry?! My daughter loves to repurpose things so we are making our bracelets out of popsicle sticks / tongue depressors. She’s super excited!!! 

If you love making things with your little ones, listen up. Here is a craft that is easy to do!

Step One –  Get some popsicle sticks!!  Either enjoy a popsicle and keep the stick once you are done, OR you can actually purchase them at the store specifically for crafting! (Can you imagine?!) My beautiful little helper!

image

Step Two – Now you have a choice here. You can either soak the sticks overnight in water, or you can bring water to a boil on the stove and then boil the sticks for 15 minutes. This helps with the pliability of the sticks when bending them into shape. Make sure to prep more sticks than you will use as there is still a possibility of them cracking. We boiled ours!

image

image

Step Three – Bend the popsicle sticks into shape and press them inside a glass that is about the same size as a wrist.  Allow the sticks to stay inside the glass for 24 hours to fully dry so they will hold their shape.

image

Step Four – Decorate your new bracelets as you see fit!!  These make easy and fun gifts for your little one to make for her friends!! That’s exactly what my baby girl is planning to do with them!

Of course, right now we’re waiting for them to fully take shape, so at another time we will display our popsicle stick bracelets in their decorated glory! 🙂

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!
XoXo
Santana

Happy Dad’s Day!!!

Why, you may ask, did I not put “Happy Father’s Day” as the title to this post? Well, it’s simple really. This day is for the men that are actually out there being a part of their children’s lives. And the men that even though they didn’t have to, stepped up to fill the roles of those that weren’t willing or were no longer able to. And the men that harmoniously work together as a dad and step-dad. (Though, I’m not big on using the word “step” in front of any role. As my mother has always told me, “Steps belong in front of a house, not a name.”)

I learned at a young age that any guy could be a father, but that it took a real man to be a dad. I grew up with a father that didn’t show up when he was supposed to more often than not. He was never really there for me, and it never appeared that he wanted to be. But I got lucky. When my mom remarried in 1999, Terry and I got off to a rough start, but he actually cared about my brother and me. Come to find out he was just what our family needed. My Pop (as I call him) stepped up and took on two additional kids that were already teenagers.

I’m fortunate enough to have some wonderful Dads in my life. My Pop for being the Dad I didn’t have growing up. I wouldn’t trade him for anything. My wonderful husband, James, for being an amazing Dad day in and day out and for inspiring our children to do great things. My brother, Emory, for being there for his kids. My Papaw, Raymond, may he rest in peace, for being like a Dad during the time that it felt like I didn’t have one. And my Uncle Robert, for treating me like I was his own daughter. Yes, I am fortunate, because with these types of role models for my son, I know that one day he will make an incredible dad as well. These men (aside from my grandfather due to his passing while I was pregnant) have shown my son over the course of his life how to be that Dad to be proud of.  These men have also shown my daughter what to look for when she is older. They have shown her how a woman is to be treated.

So, Happy Dad’s Day to the wonderful Dads out there!! Keep being the role models you are!

Thanks for stopping by!
XoXo
Santana

You Mean There Is More Than One Way?

Yesterday I wrote a brief post referencing budgeting. I know, that mean old word terrifies a lot of people. But, I ask, do you really know where your money is going every month? Did you take the time to write it all out?

If you don’t know where all your money is going every month, better yet, every two weeks, maybe it’s time to find out. As it turns out, there are several ways out there to do a budget. Also, there are a lot of apps that can make budgeting easier for you and help you keep track of your payments every month. The reason for so many budget types has to do with the fact that not everybody spends their money in the same way.

So what exactly do you think a budget is? Have you ever actually thought about it before? I know budgeting sounds sooooo totally boring! Truth is, it really isn’t. Once you get the hang of it you will have small successes, which will ultimately lead to bigger successes. Basically put, budgeting is telling your future money exactly where it is going to go.

Now, there are a few simple questions you need to ask yourself before you sit down and do this budgeting thing. The most important part of these questions is for you to be completely honest with yourself. Some of the answers may even be a little hard to admit, but that’s okay. That’s why we’re doing this. In order for a budget to successfully work for you, you need to fully understand who YOU are as a spender.

The main question which encompasses several other questions is actually the hardest question to answer. What kind of a spender are you? There is a wide array of spending types. Are you the kind of person that just swipes your card through a machine and think, “Well, it went through, so that’s good”? Are you the kind of spender that when you have cold hard cash on hand if literally feels like it is burning a hole in your pocket? Are you kind of spender that thinks consciously before swiping that card about how much was in your bank account before you swipe it and how much will be left once you do? Are you the kind of spender that logs every transaction? Lastly, are you the kind of spender that when you have cash on hand you think, “Do I really need that candy bar?” These are important questions because the one you answer yes to will define which kind of budget will work best for you.

Below I am going to introduce five different budgeting styles. There are more than that, however, these are the five most common. These are the five that seem to work for most everyone, though not necessarily are they one size fits all options by any means. It’s just a start to help you think about which options out there might be the best for you.

1. ENVELOPE BUDGETING

This method of budgeting is good for those that can visualize their spending habits by having cash on hand. Those who don’t feel the desire to spend money just because it is readily available. If it feels like your money is taunting you and teasing you, saying you need to spend it just because it’s there, then this method may not be the best option for you.

This method works with a series of envelopes. Each individual envelope serves a specific purpose. You simply write a category on the envelope and place a specific amount in the envelope to cover that specific expense. Some common envelope titles used are Rent/Mortgage, Electric Bill, Water Bill, Cable Bill, etc. Make sure to make one for each expected expense, which includes things such as gas money, groceries and eating out. Be realistic in the amount of money you put in each envelope. As you place money in the envelope keep track of the amount on the outside. As you remove money from the envelope keep track of that as well.

The beauty of this system, you can actually see how much money is being spent and what it is being spent on. If you’re looking to create a savings, don’t forget to make an envelope for that as well. Once the end of the month hits, you can review your notes on the outside of the envelope and see where you didn’t put aside enough and where you drastically overshot. Now you can take that knowledge and rework your envelopes for next month.

2. DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS (AKA BUCKET BUDGETING)

This method is basically creating a “bucket” for certain larger categories. It is usually comprised of three accounts (two checking and a savings). 

You create the primary checking account to use for your fixed expenses. These expenses are the ones that you pay every month that are generally the same amount every month such as rent/mortgage, car payments, credit card payments, and utility bills. Basically, any bill that you pay every single month goes into this category and you put enough money into this specific account to cover these particular expenses.

The next account you create is a savings account. Every month, or every paycheck you set aside a specific amount of money to go into this account. This is the account you should try not to touch or use except for specific reasons. Are you saving to buy a car? Are you planning a trip? Do you want this savings account to only exist for emergencies?  Think about what this account is going to be used for when deciding how much to place into it every month.

The second checking account is for daily living expenses and extras. You would find groceries, entertainment and eating out in this category. Other things that might fall into this one are clothing purchases, allowances for the kids, or a family outing.

3. ZERO BASED BUDGET

This budgeting method is just what you see in it’s name. Zero based. What this means is that you factor every last cent of your take home pay. For example, your bring home pay is $1233.15. Of that bring home amount (which is the amount after taxes) every single cent is planned for until you hit a balance of zero. Dave Ramsey, who is an icon when it comes to budgeting and how to live the life you’ve always dreamed of living, explains it best. Go to this link here to get further information on this budgeting technique.

A great quote from Dave Ramsey… “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.” Ponder on that nugget of knowledge right there.

4. BALANCED MONEY

Balancing your money in a budget is basically a percentage formula. There are a few different varieties on this one. The most common being the 50/30/20 method. I can see you thinking, “What on earth does 50/30/20 mean??” It’s actually quite simple. The 50 means 50% of your income is spent on needs. The 30 means that 30% of your income is spent on wants. Finally, the 20 means that 20% of your income is put into savings. This balancing of money can be hard for some people because of the 20 on the end. If you want to be deeply invested in saving money, then this option is the way to go. However, you may really need to cut back on some of those wants to make this a viable option.

5. CREDIT CARD BUDGETING

This last option is not really a favorite of mine, though it is common. If you’re lucky enough to have a high credit card limit, and are capable of responsibly paying it off every single month then this option can work for you. Plus if you have a credit card that offers cash back you can rack up the savings. You only get charged interest if you don’t pay off in full before your next due date. You also receive a statement every month in regards to what you used the card for.

Please note that if you are not good with credit cards, and tend to swipe freely this option is not going to do you any favors. Credit cards are a major responsibility and need to be used wisely.

Like I mentioned before, these are just five of the budgeting options available out there. Please give them some serious thought before just jumping in and using one. Which type of budget you choose will be based on the answers that you gave to the previous “What kind of a spender are you?” question.  Be honest with yourself during this process and you will definitely come out on top!

Thanks for stopping by!
XoXo
Santana

Budgeting Chaos

Budgeting… Such a crazy thing, that sadly not enough people do.  I know some people that are seriously like, “I still have checks! That must mean I still have money, right?” Of course, those of us with common sense know that this is simply not true. We wish this was true. Just like the people that dream of the wallet that never runs out of moola. However, this is just not the case.

Have you ever actually sat down and took the time to write out what your monthly expenses and bills are? No, seriously? Everyone should take the time to do this. It’s amazing to find out what you actually owe, and how much you really shell out every single month on a regular basis.

I do this every month. EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH. My husband thinks it’s silly, but it definitely helps with keeping us afloat. I take the time to see exactly how much cheddar we have going out and when it’s going to be going out. That way, when the paycheck (cha-ching!) comes in every two weeks, I go ahead and pay what needs to be paid before the next paycheck comes… (Waah!)

But, you know what else this does??? Huh, huh? Do ya?? It helps me watch as our debt dwindles down each month too. See, here in the future, the goal is to have all that stinkin’ debt paid off and be debt free again. Won’t that be nice? Ah, to be able to say we don’t anyone anything. I CAN’T wait for that day to get here.

Do you do a budget?  If you do, why kind of budget do you use? If you don’t, you definitely should. Take some time and just jot down all those monthly expenses. Is there anywhere that you can cut back? Think about it.

Thanks for stopping by!
XoXo
Santana

Low Carb Bikini Madness

So, there’s this crazy diet trend out there called low carb.  Would you believe that?! People actually crazy enough to NOT eat bread!!  Just kidding. Don’t get me wrong, I love bread, but honestly there are a lot of tasty low carb options out there. Especially if you’re one of those that wants to keep that bikini body in check. I’m fortunate enough that I love veggies and fruit, not many people get that lucky.

I’m writing this post as an idea from my leggy, gorgeous and loveable sister-in-law. She said that when people see low carb they go for it. Truth be told, I don’t see why they wouldn’t. It isn’t necessarily the low carb aspect, but when you put the right ingredients together you can totally create some tasty (but good for you) meals that aren’t going to send you into a carb coma. Check out some of the wonderful yummies below. 🙂

Zucchini Pizza Boats     Yields: 12 servings 
You can find the full recipe and instructions here.

image

Turns out zucchini is quite versatile.  Check out this delicious variation of a zucchini meal below!!

Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats      Yields: 8 Zucchini Boats
You can find the full recipe and instructions here.

image

Skinny Bell Pepper Nacho Boats      Yields: 18 boats (9servings)
You can find the full recipe and instructions here.

image

Are you starting to notice a trend??!!  Lots of boats!! But trust me, sooooooo delicious and absolutely good for you!

Low Carb BLT Wraps      Yields: 2 Lettuce Wraps
You can find the full recipe and instructions here.

image

Look!! A break in the cycle of boats!

Baked Cauliflower Tots      Yields: Serves 16 people
You can find the full recipe and instructions here.

image

Now this is a short list… just to get you started! There are many more wonderful recipes out in the world of Low carb no bread eaters. 🙂 You just have to take a chance and try each one. You never know, you might just find one that you absolutely love!  Give it a chance! You won’t regret it.

Now as a bonus, here is a treat recipe for ya’ll! Enjoy!!

Low Carb Mocha Frappe

image

This one right here is scrumptious!! And if you LOVE coffee as much as I do, then this one is right up your alley!
The recipe for this yummy goodness can be found right here!!

Thanks for stopping by! More tastiness to come!

Disclaimer: Please note that the pictures in the post are directly from where each recipe is from.

XoXo
Santana

Summer Lovin’ and Infused Detox Water

Summer is upon us!! I’m not a huge fan of summer. Mainly because it is HOT, and well, I live in Arizona. But there are definitely some ways to make it more enjoyable. I present to you infused detox water drinks!

It’s a well known fact that during the summer you should drink more water and less sugary drinks like soda and chocolate milk. I’ve been drinking a lot of water lately so I decided that it is time to shake it up a little bit so to speak. While it’s known you should drink more water during the warmer months, it is less known that you can make this normally blah beverage choice taste a whole lot better!! Not only can you make it taste better, you can make it taste better without adding a ton of sugar, or any sugar at all! Plus, there can be some major health benefits associated with it when you combine the right ingredients! Definitely makes it a worthwhile option for those that just can’t do plain ol’ water.

I’m going to share some of my favorite infused water recipes with you. They each have their own special benefit aside from the regular water intake you should be doing anyway.  It’s a lot cheaper drinking these kind of drinks than the premixes and soda you can buy at the store, too! I hope you enjoy some of these delicious beverages!

First up we having a slimming detox water. Super yummy and refreshing. This water consists of cucumber, strawberry and basil. You can find the recipe here. Definitely good for reducing that waistline! The more water you drink the less hungry you are!

Another fav of mine is Apple Cinnamon detox water. This recipe is especially good for anyone that struggles with blood sugar issues. The apples help with flushing heavy metals of your system as well. Check it out! The recipe for the this delicious detox water is available at this lovely blog here!

Now, I LOVE Dr. Oz! Been a fan for sometime. He always has some useful information and some great recipes. His Fat Flush Water is not only good for you, but it’s kind of pretty too! It consists of cucumber, tangerine, peppermint leaves and grapefruit. Such a beautiful combination of colors! This recipe can be found at this link here. They also have a wonderful selection of even more infused waters and detox drinks.

Want another delicious option?! How about some yummalicious Watermelon water? That’s right!! A two ingredient tasty water option. Watermelon is overabundant during the summer months! Simply slice up some watermelon and toss into a pitcher and cover with water and let it infuse for a few hours so that watermelony goodness can soak in. Once it has set for a little while in your nice, cold fridge pour yourself a glass and drink up!!

Not only is water good for you, now you know you make it taste incredible. By adding the additional ingredients, not only do you get some wonderful health benefits from it, it also curbs your cravings! So when you go to grab that next soda, think about giving infused water a try. Your body will thank you!

Thoughts and opinions??  Feel free to leave a comment! I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for stopping by!!
XoXo
Santana

How to Save Money And Barely Notice…

So, you want to save money, but you don’t have any to save? I hear this all the time. In fact, I have often felt this way myself. Turns out there are many ways to build that savings account, and not feel the pinch right away. And, that in itself is always a good thing! Nobody likes seeing big globs of money disappearing.

Now, see me personally, I use a few different methods to help bulk up that savings. If you have a Bank of America account, they still offer Keep the Change savings,  which we use. Honestly, I LOVE it. It automatically rounds your everyday purchases up to the next dollar and deposits the difference into your savings.  Pretty nice way to build it up and the only work you have to do is remember when you balance your checkbook to keep those little amounts in mind if those transactions haven’t posted to your account. Saving without thinking about it!!

I have seen various other methods over the years, and each one is great in it’s own regard. It just depends on what method will work the best for you. How do you want to go about it?

One method, is the basic change method. In this one, you simply save small amounts based one what day of the year it is. (YES, I said DAY… It is a daily version of saving.) How this option works is on day 1 you save $0.01, on day 2 you save $0.02, on day 3 you save $0.03, and you just keep changing the daily contribution to the amount of what day in the year it is times a penny. Once you get to the end of the year, you have saved up over $660.00!!  That’s a healthy chunk of change.

Another method is the 2 litre bottle method with dimes. Yeppers, don’t spend any of those dimes you get!! It may not add up as quickly as other methods, but it has it’s advantages. I mean seriously, a dime is NOT a huge amount to sacrifice for financial bliss. Once you have filled the two litre bottle you will have anywhere between $500-$700! Imagine what you could do with that! You could even intentionally get those dimes knowing you can’t spend them. If you ask the bank they’ll give you a roll of dimes (which equals $5.00). Think about it.

Then there are some people who save monthly. Not a bad method if you want a larger chunk at the end of the year. Only pitfall with this one is that you see it a bit more. It’s more obvious to your eyes that you’re lopping off big chunks of what you could be spending elsewhere in one big swoop. The most common version of this is saving $25 in month one, $50 in month two, $75 in month three, and just upping the deposit amount by an additional $25 each month. It definitely becomes harder to contribute towards the latter part of the year because that amount just keeps getting BIGGER. But, hey, if you can swing this method and keep consistent with it, by the end of 12 months you’ll have managed to save $1950!!

There is also saving a flat amount each month. The same boring amount as the month before and never changing it. But, this method can work and you can budget it in if you do a budget. If this is the way you take, make sure you set it up for automatic funds transfer when your check is deposited or, if you have the option, get it directly deposited into your savings account. The second choice is better honestly because then you won’t have seen it in your checking and then watch it walk away over to your savings. Most people that do this method do between $25-$100 each month. If you do $25.00/mo you’ll only save $300.00. If you do $100.00/mo you’ll save $1200.00. Each person/family’s budget is different and the method they choose will be different too!

So now I’ve shown you a handful of methods to help bulk up that savings account. Which do you think is the best?? Which do you think is the most likely method to keep you on your savings track? Let me know!!

Thanks for Stopping By!!!
XoXo
Santana