A reminder to pay attention to what you fill your mind with

A reminder to pay attention to what you fill your mind with

A few weeks ago — actually, now that I think about it, it was right around the time that every blogger ever was posting about the Nordstrom anniversary sale — I had a revelation that I had allowed too many negative influences into my life.

 

In my case, I had gotten lax in my aversion to marketing; I was willingly clicking on post titles from blogs that I KNEW were just one big marketing post. I wasn’t being as ruthless and self-disciplined as I normally am.

 

And I think that’s normal for everyone, including myself. There’s a lot going on in our lives, and it’s easy to start running on autopilot in regards to spending habits. And running on autopilot means it’s easy to let little things slip through the cracks (an extra purchase here... and extra purchase there...) and before we realize it, our spending starts to get out of control. 

 

For example, I enjoy reading The Skinny Confidential’s blog but many of her posts are like “5 things you need right now” and it’s just a list of products she really likes with a link to buy the stuff on Amazon. I know myself, and I know that those posts always make me want to buy things.

 

So why was I clicking on those post titles? Why was I willingly exposing myself to that form of advertisement? It’s because I had started to run on autopilot. I was letting little things slip through the cracks without realizing it. I just needed to remind myself of my good financial habits. I needed to snap out of the autopilot and pay attention to what I’m allowing into my mind.

 

So let this post be a reminder to YOU! Pay attention this week to what you’re allowing in your mind and in your life. 

 

Are you getting a bunch of emails from retailers that make you want to spend money because they’re having a “one day sale!!!"? 

 

Do you subscribe to blogs that make you want to buy things? 

 

Do you hang out with people who have questionable spending habits?

 

Are you watching TV shows (ahem, reality tv) that give you an unrealistic view of adulthood? (looking at you, Vanderpump… I love you but omgggg your lives and spending habits are SO not normal)

 

Oh, and for bonus points- fill your mind with GOOD stuff.

Instead of taking in things that hurt your good financial habits, how about you swap in some things that will help give you BETTER financial habits?  For example:

  • Read more blogs from personal finance writers (you're already reading this, so that's good! Also check out my favorite blogger :) )
  • Read books about consumerism (here are a few on my reading list: The High Price of Materialism, Ad Nauseam, Affluenza)
  • Download podcasts about personal finance, happiness, stoicism, etc. (this post includes some of my favorites)
  • Take time to look at your budget, track your spending in Mint, or calculate your net worth

 

 

 

Leave me a comment and let me know what you're going to cut out, and what you're going to start filling your mind with instead!

 

For me, I realized that I need to be much more mindful when I go through my Bloglovin list. I carefully read the post title before clicking. If it sounds like one of those “5 things you need right now” posts, I hit ‘mark as read’ and skip that one. No need to tempt myself!

Negative Visualization vs. Positive Thinking

Negative Visualization vs. Positive Thinking

This isn’t really a finance related post today, but it’s something that I’m mulling over...

 

Positive Thinking

When I first started getting into personal development / self-help stuff, one of the biggest teachings I ran across was the idea of positive thinking, law of attraction, etc. This is basically the idea that if you think positive thoughts, then everything will be positive in your life. For example, if you really want to get a new job, just think positive thoughts about it, assume you’re going to get it, act as if you’re going to get it, and you’ll get the job. The universe will pick up on your good vibes and will give you the job.

 

(and yeah, I’m probably over simplifying it, but that’s the general gist of it from my perspective)

 

I remember way back when I first started hearing about positive thinking as a teaching. My one hesitation was that it feels like you’re jinxing yourself. My whole life up until that moment, I had subscribed to the idea that if you really want something, don’t assume you’re going to get it, because you’ll jinx yourself and then it won’t happen.

 

So anyway, I saw the benefits of this positive thinking practice, but I’ve always had a slight hesitation with it.

 

And now, I think I figured out why (in addition to the jinxing thing).

 

 

How positive thinking failed me

So last week, I shared that I recently got a new job. The interview process took a few moths so I had a looooong time to think tons of positive thoughts about the new job. I imagined how perfect my office environment would be, I imagined the amazing computer I would have and the cute desk I would decorate, I imagined great new coworkers and rewarding work and basically, just a perfect new job. Everything would be absolutely perfect.

 

(Mind you, I wasn’t specifically setting out to ‘law of attraction’ this job into perfection. I was honestly just imaging that it would be perfect, lol)

 

So imagine my surprise / dismay when of COURSE the job doesn’t line up into my idyllic little daydream scenario. 

 

I was upset. I was underwhelmed. I felt like I made a mistake. I felt depressed. I wanted to quit. “This isn’t the job for me,” I thought.

 

All because it didn’t line up with my daydreamed perfect scenario.

 

To pull myself out of my funk, I started listening to some stoicism podcasts. My BFF Mr. Money Mustache talks about the benefits of stoicism, so I’ve always been a little interested in the philosophy. I figured that now is as good a time as any to start putting some of the theories into practice.

 

 

Negative Visualization

The theory that ended up making me realize what had gone wrong in my job situation was the stoic philosophy of “negative visualization”. The stoics believe that you should frequently envision the worst case scenario happening in your life. I’m not going to lie to you, I can't remember exactly the reasoning of why they say you should do this- I’m not sure if it’s so you don’t get too happy, or if it’s so you appreciate the things you have more? Either way, they say you should imagine what would happen if things go horribly wrong.

 

AH HA! How interesting that there are two COMPLETELY OPPOSITE schools of thought on this! One says you should only think positive thoughts. One says you should think negative thoughts.

 

Neither is right or wrong here, but I do think that in my situation, if I had taken a moment to remember that — wait, this is a mind blowing revelation, are you ready for this? — no job is ever going to be perfect (!!!!) then I might have been a bit less upset, underwhelmed, and depressed when I was faced with the reality of my new job. 

 

I would have said, “oh, interesting! I hoped that I would have a really beautiful desk and office space, but also I imagined the worst case scenario that I would have to work out of a dark and dingy basement infested with cockroaches, and luckily the reality of my situation is somewhere in between!" (but luckily skewed towards the former)

 

So. That’s today’s food for thought. Neither way is right or wrong, but I think it’s helpful to figure out which thought philosophy (or neither- maybe you have a different way of thinking!) helps you the most in life.

 

 

For further thoughts on this topic:

I enjoyed this podcast episode from Stoic Mettle on negative visualization.

I also really liked this podcast episode from The Life Coach School on a similar topic-- “problems are forever”.

 

 

 

What category do you fit into- are you a positive thinker, or a negative visualizer, or somewhere in the middle?

I think I now fall somewhere in the middle- I don’t always want to picture the worst case scenario, but I also don’t want to be naive and assume that everything will be perfect in life.

 

Hi!!

Hi!!

Oh man. Its been awhile since I posted here, huh? The main reason is because it's summer and I like being outside rather than typing on a computer.

 

Beach > computer

 

The secondary reason is because I started a new job 2 weeks ago!!! And it's been taking up lots of my free time with needing to do new trainings and things like that. Also learning new things is just exhausting, ya know? I get home from work and my brain feels overloaded with new information and I don't have the mental capacity to think about anything creative like this blog.

 

Getting the new job was a really good thing for me; I had been in my previous office for 6 years (4.5 years, then a 2 year break where I worked on this website, and then back for another 1.5 years) and that's just a LOOOONG time to be in one office. Especially in your twenties. It was time to try something new.

 

But man- job hunting is seriously a part time job! It took up a looooot of free time. I've been job hunting since January I think... but it finally worked out! And I got a sweet pay raise, so thats fun :)

 

Oh! Another fun thing is that my new job is WALKING DISTANCE from home. I am now one of those people who WALKS TO WORK! Capslock is obviously necessary because yes, it is THAT exciting. I leave my house at 7:45 and am sitting at my desk at 8am. It's so amazing. So far I've only gotten rained on once (and now I will obsessively keep an umbrella in my purse at all times) and other than that the walk has been great.

 

The one downside is that my new company has a pretty strict dual employment policy soooo I am not allowed to sell anything here now. Which is weird. So I've taken my eCourse and coaching offline for the time being :(

 

Hmmm other updates? I'm currently reading The Couple Next Door - I've had it on hold at the library for MONTHS and it finally came in and omg it is so insanely good. I'm so close to the end and shocking details just keep getting thrown at me and it's crazy and I have no idea what's going on. So good. Highly recommend you also add this to your reading list.

 

Another thing on my mind due to my new commuting method is... should I get a backpack to carry instead of my purse? Are those totally lame and dorky? I have to lug my work computer back and forth every day (yes, it's annoying) and that gets kind of heavy worn in a purse over your shoulder for 15 minutes of walking twice a day. Also probably not good for your back. I also carry my breakfast and lunch to work, so having a backpack would really help me fit all this stuff. But like I said... is carrying a backpack to work weird?! And if it is- do I really care? That is the million dollar question...

 

I think I'm finally settling down into a more normal groove with work now, so I am going to try to get back on my more regular posting schedule here. Because even if I'm not allowed to sell stuff, I still feel strongly about the message of being smart with your money, so I want to keep this blog going!

 

 

Update me on YOUR life! What have you been up to lately- fun trips? New job? Good books?

Oh-- and do you have any commuter bag tips for me?

 

The BEST Breakfast Burritos

The BEST Breakfast Burritos

I've been holding out on you. I've been making the most delicious, cheap, and easy breakfasts for the past few months but I just haven't gotten around to posting about it :)

 

It all started about a year ago when I decided that I wanted to make breakfasts with eggs for work days. Previously, I had been having overnight oats or my oatmeal bake, and that was good but I feel like it wasn't as filling or as healthy as eggs would be.

 

So I started making scrambled eggs and vegetables before I left for work. That was tasty, but I didn't like having to take the extra time to cook breakfast before work. I like grab and go foods.

 

So next, I attempted breakfast sandwiches. I tried two different recipes: this one (uses deli ham) and this one (I like that it uses baked scrambled eggs; I swapped ham for the bacon though)  and they were both good, but I had issues with the freezing part of the recipe. No matter what I did, the eggs would get super watery and would make the whole sandwich soggy if I froze the sandwiches. That meant I could only make 5 days of sandwiches at a time since I wasn't freezing any. But I really wanted to be able to make something that I could freeze.

 

So I kept poking around on Pinterest and stumbled upon this recipe for Freezer-to-Microwave Breakfast Burritos. I tried it once and fell in LOVE and have been making them non-stop since... maybe January?

 

The recipe makes 16 burritos. I make these for both Mike and I, so that's 8 days worth of burritos for each of us. That means I only need to make a batch every week and a half-ish, which is much better than every week for the breakfast sandwiches. Also, they include vegetables (and I add even more vegetables) so I feel very healthy!

 

I make them a bit different than the original recipe, but it's totally customizable for whatever you want to include! I'll share my version of the recipe below.

 

 

Breakfast Burritos

adapted from New Leaf Wellness

 

Ingredients

  • 1lb ground breakfast sausage
  • 15oz frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (any color)
  • 2 handfuls of fresh kale or spinach- torn into small pieces
  • 16 eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I have no clue how much I use, oops)
  • 16 “burrito size” flour tortillas (8.5-9″ in diameter)
  • Tin foil (for freezing)
  • Gallon sized plastic freezer bags

 

Brown the sausage then remove it from the pan.

 

Next, use the same pan to cook the frozen hash brown potatoes according to the package directions.

 

After the potatoes are cooked, add the diced bell peppers and cook for a few minutes until they soften. Then I add the sausage back in, the beaten eggs, the kale, and the salt and pepper. Stir it all together while the eggs cook.

 

Once everything is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and let everything cool down for 30-60 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, prepare the tin foil. Tear off 16 squares of toil, and then lay out all your tortillas on the tin foil. I have to use my kitchen table and a book shelf for this since we don’t have much counter space in the kitchen :)

 

Once the filling has cooled, divide it between the burritos. Add cheese on top if desired (aka, if you AREN'T Mike :) )

 

Roll up the burritos and cover in foil. (unlike the original recipe, I don't use the waxed paper and it turns out fine for me! Maybe it's not an issue because we eat these quite fast. Perhaps if you're storing them for longer than 1-2 weeks you'd want to do the waxed paper too?)

 

Put the foil-wrapped burritos into 2 gallon size ziploc bags, and keep them in the freezer.

 

Each night when we make our lunches for the next day, we take out a frozen burrito and put it in our lunch box in the fridge. By the time we heat it up in the morning it's mostly thawed. I microwave mine for 1 or 1.5 minutes (depending on how strong the microwave is and how many extra ingredients I put in the burritos that week :) ) then rewrap it in the foil and eat it at my desk at work!

 

 

What are your work breakfasts?? Share your make-ahead recipes!!

What makes people buy books rather than use the library?

What makes people buy books rather than use the library?

I need your help today. I am mulling over a mystery in my head and just CANNOT for the life of me figure it out.

 

I have recently had a few conversations with 20-something women who talk about how many books they own. Like, they actually purchase EVERY book they read. (And in particular, I was talking to people about real, physical books, but this can also apply to Kindle/other purchased eBooks or audiobooks)

 

WHY is this? Why do so many people still buy books?

 

I grew up with a mother who works in the library system, and even before she started working there I have MANY memories of going to the library and excitedly picking out books. I can't even remember a time in my childhood when we bought an actual book*. So I'm enlisting your help because maybe I'm too far in love with the library system to see an outside point of view?

 

* OH, okay, wait, that's a lie. There was a brief period in my teens when I decided I wanted to collect all the Janet Evanovich paperbacks in the Stephanie Plum series- I think I just had a lot of disposable income and thought I "needed" a collection of something? And we definitely bought all the Harry Potter books. Other than those... no book purchases.

 

 

Possible reasons why people still buy books:

 

1. Waiting list for books at the library is too long.

I commiserate with this reason. I do get bummed when I hear about a new book, and then I go to put it on hold and I'm number, like, 3 million on the waiting list. (I am currently waiting for 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck'... I think I'm approximately number 50 on the list) I've accepted the fact that whenever there is a popular new book, it's going to be awhile before I read it. Mostly I read books that are a few years older so there's little to no waiting list.

 

 

2. Library doesn't have the desired book.

I have also run into this issue with a few books that I wanted to read. So far, I haven't quite figured out how to solve this problem. I know that you can often request an Inter-Library Loan (ILL) if another library in your area has the book. But I tried that once and they said that no one had the book. So, so far, I'm just skipping any books that aren't at the library.

 

 

3. Checkout period is too short.

Most libraries I have experience with had a 3 week checkout period. I'm a fast reader, so that's usually enough time for me, but I know that's not long enough for some people. But if you're reading books with no waiting list, you can usually renew the book a few more times which will buy you some extra weeks. If there is a waiting list and you can't renew the book, just return it and immediately put it on hold again. Hopefully you'll get it back kinda soon!

 

 

4. Not aware of library features (eBooks, audiobooks, etc)

Maybe people (especially those who don't have a librarian mom) don't know about all the awesome features that libraries nowadays have? All four of the library systems I've belonged to have an app where you can download eBooks and audiobooks for FREE. Do people not know about that stuff?

 

 

5. Want to be able to re-read the book at any time.

I used to think that I needed to own a book if I wanted to be able to re-read it. But then I realized 2 things: 1) I almost never re-read a book, and 2) if I want to re-read a book... I can just check it out again.

 

 

6. Library isn't in a convenient place.

My coworker mentioned that her library is in a weird part of town that she doesn't really like going into. So I guess that's a reason. (although you could maybe just pick a different branch that's in a better area?) I know in the northern VA area, you can sign up for other neighboring counties' library systems even if you don't live in that county because they have a reciprocity thing going on. So maybe look into whether you can start using a library in a different county (one that's close to your work or something?). Or if your library system has eBooks and audiobooks, just use those online services so you never have to go to a library branch! :)

 

 

7. Late fees.

Maybe people are bad at returning books on time, and therefore get charged a lot of late fees, and so they conclude that it's just cheaper to buy books. Uhhhh... NO. Just return your stuff on time, bro! I enabled email reminders from my library so that they email to remind me 3 days before and again 1 day before a book is due. Sure, sometimes it's annoying to have to go to the library to return something but it's still infinitely better than BUYING books.

 

 

 

If you're a book buyer (or a reformed book buyer)... can you share your reasons of why you buy books? I really just want to understand!!

(okay, fine, full disclosure: I want to know this information so that I can convince people to STOP buying books)