Finding Financial Confidence

This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust. All opinions are my own.

Growing Financial Confidence

C.O.N.F.I.D.E.N.C.E. What does confidence mean to you. I remember being 7 or 8 years old and incredibly shy. My mom still jokes about how I wouldn’t go up to the counter at a fast food restaurant to ask for ketchup….there isn’t even a risk they would say no, but I was scared. I can still be that shy little girl sometimes when I am forced into conversation with folks I don’t know, but the years have brought confidence. Successes in high school, like reciting ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in front of my peers…in college, like being the activities chair for my sorority, and even this blog and the fact that you fine folks read it continue to build my confidence. I see this shyness in Chickadee when she is encouraged to talk to a stranger and I am determined to gently build her confidence so by the time she is 7 or 8 the folks at Chick-fil-a gladly hand her ketchup when she asks! 

As I shared on Friday, 2017 is going to be a BIG year for our family! Not only are we adding a sweet baby GIRL to our crazy crew, we are also going to be adding a new car (minivan advice, anyone??), probably a new HVAC (both upstairs and downstairs…boo), and we are considering getting new hardwood floors. There are a lot of financial hits on both the need and want list, and to get any or all of them accomplished stress free it is important to be in a place of financial freedom. This blog and the small income it has made over the years has truly helped get my family in a place of financial freedom. We have been able to live on III’s income from day one and save my teaching salary (when I was working) and also this blog’s income to set up our “egg-nest.” It was invaluable when buying our last car and being able to write a check so that we didn’t have to worry about a monthly payment. It also afforded us the opportunity to buy a house and put down 20% to avoid extra fees as you are trying to build up your principal. Not worrying about a sizable mortgage or car payment are two major accomplishments that helped up to grow financial confidence. And we are very thankful to be in a place where we can hit both our needs and wants. But it takes work and constant focus on where our money is going to continue to be in such a position.

April is Financial Literacy Month, and I’m once again teaming up with Suntrust’s onUp Movement to encourage y’all to take positive steps towards achieving financial confidence. I encourage you to ask if you consider yourself financially free? If so, what positive steps can you continue to stay financially free? If not, what steps can you take today toward being financially free?

My most valuable tip in being financially free is, KNOW WHERE YOUR MONEY IS GOING. In a world of credit cards, Paypal, and immediate access to cash it is easy to spend spend spend without tracking that spending. The most invaluable part of our finances is our budget. III is an accountant, so he has created a very detailed Excel spreadsheet where we input receipts on a weekly basis. This allows us to know exactly where every dollar is going and doesn’t allow us to spend money we don’t have. It also causes us to categorize needs verses wants. All of our needs, tithe, and saving goals are hit first…then comes the wants. Every month we pay off credit cards. Try and figure out a way to not let your debt grow. Financial confidence will grow your self confidence. Start today!

Head on over to SunTrust’s OnUp website today for more stories, tips, and tools to start your patch to financial confidence. SunTrust wants to motivate people to move past their worry and focus on financial confidence. 

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  

The onUp Movement is 1 million strong…and growing. onUp is about having the confidence to move forward one smart step at a time.

Join now and start building your financial confidence today.

Join the movement

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Giving Presence this Holiday Season

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For the first day in months, the highs will not reach the 80s here in Georgia. That can only mean one thing, the holiday season is FINALLY here. Thanksgiving is just a few weeks ago and Christmas will quickly follow. It’s my favorite time of year, but for many I know it can also be a stressful time.

Back in February I joined SunTrust in their OnUp movement and shared tips for how we save money and alleviate financial stress as we raise a family on one income. And these strategies are so important this time of year. One of the things I wrote about was spending more time focusing on the moments that matter with my family and not on financial stress. Along with SunTrust I believe the most meaningful gift you can give your loved ones (and yourself) this holiday season, and any time really, isn’t a present you buy – it’s presence in every meaningful moment. And SunTrust can be your Holiday Hub.

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 Thinking back on the years I have so many wonderful holiday memories. From making a gingerbread house in the pediatric unit of the hospital with my parents after having my tonsils out to wrapping Christmas presents with my grandmother and making the most elaborate bows. The occasional, but oh so magical snowflakes found in the south to making Christmas cookies with my sister and using tweezers to make sure each sprinkle was in just the right spot! So many memories made over the years. And one thing that all these memories have in common is that none of them include presents….but presence.

Memories are made with those around you. So stop worrying about buying the perfect Christmas gift and start thinking about how you will be present with your loved ones and others you meet this holiday season. Being present means spending the evening with your children checking out all of the holiday lights in your neighborhood. Or, volunteering at your local soup kitchen, taking the day off for a fun adventure with grandparents, or providing coffee and donuts at your next team meeting before everyone’s out on vacation. 

If you are looking for more ideas download the SunTrust Holiday Planning Guide. In this holiday planning guide, you’ll find tips for getting organized and making a plan for holiday spending so you can feel confident in your ability to stay on track with your budget. You’ll see how other Americans are shopping, traveling, celebrating and giving in ways that make the holidays cost less, but mean more.

Or, checkout this list of ways to spread the light this holiday season. (pdf here)

The holiday season let’s focus on what really matters – each other! Don’t let the stress of financial matters get in the way. Instead make small changes that make a big difference and don’t forget to be present this holiday season.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  

The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.

Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.

Join the movement

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

3 Ingredient (+1) Peanut Butter Cookies

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They are that good! Chickadee couldn’t wait to get her hands on one. And they are just as easy. Our family likes routine, so I try to have an activity planned each weekday after naptime. Monday is baking day. And this past Monday we didn’t have much to work with, thank goodness these cookies only have THREE ingredients (+1 if you want add in a special candy!). 

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Seriously, that is it. One cup of peanut butter, one cup of sugar, one egg. Mix well & bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. If you are feeling crazy, add in some mini chocolate chips or Reese’s Pieces minis. You won’t regret it! Use a fork to make a little criss cross imprint if you like that.

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They will be pretty gooey when they come out, but fight the urge to put them back in. They will firm up as they cool. This might now be my go to cookie (or at least it’s up to par with the best chocolate chip cookies ever)! 

If you don’t normally bake with your kids, I strongly suggest it! First and foremost it’s a lot of fun. However, it also teaching following & reading directions, measurement, fine motor skills with mixing & scooping. And I’m sure there is some science in there too. So bake with your kids, let them pour in the sugar and don’t freak out if they like their fingers before dropping in the Reese’s Pieces. All their germs will cook out anyway, and along the way…so many memories will be made!

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Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
Yields 20
Simple & delicious three ingredient peanut butter cookies
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup of peanut butter
  2. 1 cup of sugar
  3. 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Mix the peanut butter, sugar, and egg well.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Notes
  1. Add 1/2 cup of your favorite mini candies to make it extra special!
A Step In The Journey http://astepinthejourney.com/
Enjoy!

Sprout | 18 months

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On October 3rd we reached a milestone around here. Sprout became the exact age Chickadee was when he was born. Crazy how time flies. She didn’t seem near as little as he still does, but even still, he is growing up so fast! 

These last few months you have been learning sooo quickly! I would say you officially passed the baby to toddler divide. In the last few months you have learned most of your body parts…head, nose, toes, ears, feet, tummy, arms, mouth & eyes. You also like to point out where you have a very fleeting temporary tattoo when we run through what’s what. Like your sister you also know ALL the animal sounds & the lion roar has to be my favorite! Both From Head to Zoo & The Zoo are two books that are your favorite because of all the animals. And speaking of animals, you go nuts whenever we come across a puppy dog. Absolute bliss for you!

 You are talking up a storm! I would list all the words in your vocabulary, but there isn’t time. You can repeat almost any word we say and are also talking in two word phrases. It’s crazy really because at 1 you weren’t saying anything, so I can’t imagine the chatterbox you will be by two!

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You are a pretty good eater. You love sweet potatoes still and are obsessed with drinking a smoothie in the mornings. Snack is probably one of the words we hear the most from your lips and just confirms you are a growing boy! You have started using a fork and spoon are are doing great (although you prefer to use your hands). I would say 75% of the yogurt actually makes it into your mouth, so I can’t complain.

You are sleeping like a champ (7:30 – 7:00 usually) at night and are napping once a day around 1:00 for about 2-2.5 hours. You have made quite a sleep buddy with a little brown bunny you affectionately call, Bubba. You are wearing size 4 diapers, size 18 months clothes (12m pants), and size 5 shoe. I think you weigh about 24lbs and are around 32 inches tall (thanks to a recent growth spurt).  

You loves fiercely and fierce meltdowns as well (normally over food :/). I love watching you react when daddy comes through the door. You are pretty beside yourself with excitement. You are obsessed with balls and dump trucks. Love reading books and going to the duck pond. Sliding at the park & in our backyard is your favorite. 

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Your laugh is infectious sweet boy and we pray that it lights up everyone you encounter. We hope you always let God’s light shine bright sweet boy!

Creating a Bedtime Routine

Do you have a bedtime routine with your children? I hope so. Children of all ages thrive with routine, and as many children head back to school they would so benefit with a routine in place. They love knowing when things will happen and what to expect next. Having a routine for many parts of our day alleviates so many struggles and never is this more true than at bedtime! 

Scholastic and Orajel™ are coming together to encourage parents to make reading out loud to their children and brushing their teeth part of their family’s bedtime routine. And I couldn’t agree more! The Read2Me Tonight campaign gives parents many resources to motivate them to read with their children each night. In addition to these resources, parents can also find a free Scholastic e-book called The Three Bees, the 100 Best Read-Aloud Books, and important articles from the editors of Scholastic Parents.

So what does our routine look like? I created this little chart for Chickadee and Sprout so they know what to expect each night as they wind down for bed. (please right click to download and print)

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Before beginning our bedtime routine, we always give the kids a heads up that it is time for their last “activity” before cleaning up and heading to take a bath. We have found Chickadee especially does well when she knows her playing time is about to come to an end. 

After taking a bath and putting on pajamas both kids brush their teeth.

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Neither of them have even been big fans, but we know the importance of starting this habit early. We have tried several strategies from letting them lay down to brush teeth to bushing their teeth in the dark.

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What works best for Sprout is having him mimic funny faces we make where you have to open your mouth pretty wide. Chickadee is now at the age where we expect her to follow directions and does pretty well with letting us brush her teeth.  

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Finally we snuggle up on the glider or daybed to read a book and the kid’s devotion. Reading is a great way to settle kids down before bedtime. Also research shows that reading aloud to your kids and talking about the story drastically increases their vocabulary and deep thinking skills. (Had to make that plug as a former teacher!). Chickadee is 2.5 and loves reading the pictures to Sprout. Scholastic is offering a free e-book called The Three Bees that stresses the importance of a bedtime routine (a little three B’s word play, brush, book, bed). You should definitely head over and check it out! If you are looking for other great read alouds Scholastic has your covered with their list of the 100 Best Read Aloud Books. 

Having a predictable bedtime routine in place alleviates stress for both children and their parents. With a little work and consistency bedtime can be a smooth process that every looks forward to and family memories are made!

What have you found works best as part of your bedtime routine?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of ORAJEL. The opinions and text are all mine.