Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Mardi Gras

Monday, February 27, 2017

I did it!

Last week, I spoke about taming the paper monster.  This past Saturday, I began to put my plan into action. A good portion of my Saturday afternoon was spent shredding.  Months and months of shredding.

The good news?  The shredding is up-to-date.  Now it is up to me to be consistent and make sure to shred each weekend.  A side benefit of doing all that shredding is that I used the time while the shredder was cooling down to clean out my email inboxes!  

A few hints about what to shred:

Boarding passes -- Don't ever leave your boarding passes in the trash.  They are encoded with your personal information...always shred!

Catalog and magazine address labels -- These also have personal account information encoded within the label...always shred!

Credit Card and Loan Offers -- This one is pretty self-explanatory...always shred!

Receipts Paid with Debit/Credit Cards -- Anything that has even a single digit of a debit or credit card must be shredded!

Don't be like me and let it pile up.  Get a home office shredder and keep up with the shredding on a weekly basis.  Probably the most important tip of all!


Friday, February 24, 2017

Setting Limits

This Frugal Friday, setting limits is the focus.  This will also be extremely helpful if you are participating in No-Spend April.

When shopping, stick to your list.  We all know the temptation of that end-cap sale!  Even in the grocery or dollar store, it is too easy to walk out of the store with items you had no intention of purchasing when you walked into the store.

If you have outstanding debt, there is no excuse for not setting limits on your spending.  That debt will not disappear on its own.  A $30 trip to the nail salon could be sent to the credit card company instead, particularly if you are more than capable of painting your own nails.  If you have debt, a $80 trip to the salon for a cut and color cannot be justified.  There are less expensive alternatives available and should be utilized until debt is gone.

Review your priorities and set your personal spending limits in accordance with those priorities. You set those priorities to benefit yourself and your situation.  Set your limits to do the same.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Reducing Demands

Every weekday, I wake up and do my daily moneymakers.  Around two in the afternoon, I begin my day job, working until almost 11:30 p.m. most nights.  In addition, this blog is published five days a week and I have other writing projects in the works.  In essence, I not only work a full-time job, but have numerous part-time endeavors being juggled at the same time.

These are not what I consider demands.  Those activities are the ones that actually bring income into my home.  They are necessities, period.  What do I consider demands?  I consider outside demands on my time and attention.  How do these demands keep occurring?  Because I lack the gene that lets me say "No."

Over time, I have become a resource to many of my friends.  I am turned to for my knowledge and my research abilities.  Unfortunately, this also means that requests for help come to me without any regard to the fact that I am probably working, trying to meet a deadline, or just plain running my butt off!  

My goal?  To learn to say "No" or "I'm not available today."  In short, to reduce demands by setting boundaries.

How about you?


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Simplifying Food

As I work from home, I get quite lazy about food.  I look for whatever is quick and easy, leading to probably not the best choices.

I have no excuse for not doing better in this area.  One of the easiest ways to simplify food preparation is to use a slow cooker.  I have three...yes, three...of various sizes.  If I used my resources effectively, I would have great homemade food on a daily basis.

There are a large number of websites that show you how to prepare weeks of food in one day.  I have explored many of them, but have yet to utilize the recipes and tips.  Again...entirely my fault.  Take a few moments and do a web search for "month's worth of meals."  The possibilities are endless!

My goal for simplifying food?  To actually utilize the resources at my disposal to not only prepare meals but save money at the same time.

How about you?


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Taming the Paper Monster

The hardest part of simplification for me is the paper monster.  It is so bad for me that I actually have "Shredding" on my weekly to-do list.  Do I get to it?  Rarely.  If there is one thing that gets left to last, shredding is usually it!

I have been doing a lot better with the daily mail.  It's sorted daily with what needs to be shredded going into the shred bucket and recycling into the recycling bin.  I actually recycle so much that the bin goes out to the curb every week, but I only have to take the trash bin out once every two weeks!

Once the mail is sorted, I'm only left with the items I actually have to deal with and resolve.  On a weekly basis, that is probably only 2% of the mail I actually receive.  Another 20% is magazines. Ah, my magazines.  I receive probably ten different subscriptions every month, most of which I receive for free.  I have the best intentions of reading them all, but then...life happens.  

My goal for the paper monster?  Shredding really done on a weekly basis and a reduction in my magazines to an actual readable stack!

How about you?


Friday, February 17, 2017

Frugal Self Care

Taking care of yourself does not have to mean a costly trip to a spa, getting your nails done, or an expensive vacation.  To do any of those things, particularly if you already have debt, will only add to your stress, not reduce it.

A few suggestions for frugal self care:

1.  Buy a bottle of nail polish in a fun color.  Don't get the most expensive brand, a two-dollar bottle will lift your spirits for the day just as well.

2.  Head to your local library.  Browse the stacks, taking your time.  Choose a book on something you've always been interested in learning.  Find a seat and peruse your selection.  Take your time.

3.  Head to the dollar store.  Get a candle, lotion, bath crystals, shampoo and/or conditioner, all in the same scent.  Find a pretty container and make your own spa basket for under ten dollars.  Now go home and actually use it!

4.  Be a tourist in your hometown.  Wander around your city and enjoy the many free sites every city has to offer.

5.  Sleep!!!  Take a nap, go to bed early.  Too often the easiest self care is the one most ignored.  Rest!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Self Care and Self Doubt

It is easy to doubt yourself when it comes to self care.  Do I deserve to take some time for myself? What if things don't get done?  Who's going to take care of a, b, c, and z if I take a day off?

The truth?  You can't take care of anything if you don't take care of yourself first.  A, b, c, and z will still be there.  If you are well-rested and content, tackling any task will be that much easier.  

What about the things that don't get done?  Let your family or significant other step up.  Perhaps it is past time for them to learn that you can't do everything.  Self-reliance is one of the most important lessons that can be imparted to a child and will serve them well.

Do you deserve the time for yourself?  Most definitely!!  You wear yourself out on a daily basis taking care of others, fighting for the rights of those you love and of Mother Earth.  The time for yourself is necessary to recharge your batteries.  Especially in this political climate, you need strength and endurance for the long haul.  Take the time you need.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Self Care and Toxicity

Too often, we let the world around us influence our peace.  It is hard to avoid the news, toxic people, and just everyday things drain us.  Here is a short list to eliminate some of the toxicity and energy drains we deal with every day.

1.  Unsubscribe from emails.  We all have emails we never read.  Unsubscribe!  The less you have to deal with, the better you will feel.

2.  Take a hard look at your friends' list.  Are there people on there who stress you with postings of misery, fake news, or that you haven't heard from in years?  Time to weed the friend garden and let the true flowers bloom.

3.  Reduce the clutter around you.  In particular, reduce the paper monster!  Just looking at it raises your stress level.

These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Peace is not a destination, it is an ongoing journey.  Self care is a major step on your path.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Self Care

With all going on in the world today, it's easy to forget to take care of ourselves.  The fear, outrage, and need to resist take a toll on our spirit, our emotional well-being, and even our bodies.  How to begin?

For me, I am beginning my self care by learning to say no.  Too often, I have put my needs last to help another.  I have taken time out of my day to help a friend, to promote someone else's endeavors, or to listen.  

I've realized that such actions do not guarantee reciprocity.  As far as that goes, it is not why I help another.  However, when it reaches the point that I have lost valuable time needed to take care of my own business, such as this blog, or other goals such as my book, I need to realize that I need, and deserve, to protect my time more vociferously.

Step one on my journey of self care:  Take care of my time.  I juggle multiple projects at all times and my time is deserving of my defense and attention.  In order to take care of my time, I must learn to say no.

What would your first step be?


Friday, February 10, 2017

Advance Warning

I have done this in the past, but I am going to repeat it this April.  What is it?  A no-spending month!

What is a no-spending month?  It is a full calendar month with no spending other than for gas and groceries.  Absolutely none.

That means no eating out, no fancy coffee, no evenings out.  It also means time spent reading, enjoying quiet time, and pursuing your passions.

Is it easy?  Not really, but it's not terribly difficult either.  It does require some planning and research. Find activities in your city that are free.  Become a tourist in your own town.  That TBR you've been planning on getting through?  This is the month to do it!  Those DIY projects that have been waiting? See how far through the list you can get.

For DIY projects and crafting, you must already have the supplies on hand.  Go through your list and make sure any supplies you need are purchased by March 31st.  You can then utilize the entire month of April to achieve completion of those pesky to-do lists!

Over the next two months, I'll be posting tips and tricks on Frugal Friday leading up to No-Spend April.  Trust me, your bank account will thank you for it!


Thursday, February 9, 2017

My Hope

My hope is that these posts about women, veterans in particular, serve as an eye-opener.  It is estimated that 47% of active duty women experience some degree of military sexual trauma.  

47% are sexually harassed, groped or raped while on active duty.

Of that 47%, a large number are subjected to humiliating questioning as to their own attire at the time of the attack.

Of that 47%, 12% are discharged shortly after reporting.

Of that 47%, most of the accused are discharged honorably or even promoted.

47% of the women defending this great nation are victims of military sexual trauma.

You're proud to support our veterans?  Speak up and speak out.  Let these women know that they have your support.  Let them know that, military or not, they have the right to control who touches them.  Give these active duty women the respect they deserve and the safety to which they are entitled.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Women Veterans at Risk

I was made aware of a statistic this past week that, while it didn't shock me, I had never seen quantified.  The following graphic was posted by my regional VA hospital:

One in three.  Read it again.  One in three women veterans will experience intimate partner violence. How does that differ from domestic violence?  Domestic violence also includes violence carried out by a family member such as a father, brother, or uncle.  Intimate Partner Violence is limited solely to the veteran's intimate partner.  This could be a husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend.  

One in three.  Here's an original thought.  Instead of posting all the memes about veterans vs. refugees, why not post this one?  Let's make #StopIPV a trending topic instead.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Real Women

There is a meme making the rounds on social media.  It is being spread under the heading "This is how REAL women march."

The inference is that any woman other than those on active duty have no right to march in defense of women's rights.  I, personally, did not give up my right to free speech when I took off the uniform. Nor have I seen any statement by any of the women in this photo giving permission to use it in such a derogatory manner towards other women.  In fact, active duty members of the United States Armed Forces marched in the Women's March by the thousands.

When women speak and march, it is for the rights of our daughters and our granddaughters.  As recently as 1993, it was still legal in this country for a husband to rape his wife.  We aren't talking ancient history.  1993.  

Look at your own wives, daughters, and granddaughters.  We march for them.


As a side note, I must also say that not a single person with whom I served posted this photo or the accompanying heading.  Actually, not a single person I know who did post it ever wore the uniform. Telling, isn't it.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Fascinating Feature

There is a feature of Facebook of which many are not aware.

When you like something or comment on something, it appears on all of your friends' timelines. During this tumultuous period in our country, that feature is extremely enlightening.

Why enlightening?  I have seen numerous people beg for unity and a stop to the political posts on their own wall.  At the same time, these same individuals are "liking" and commenting on some of the most hate-filled, racist, sexist, and bigoted posts that exist.

Perhaps they are unaware that everyone can see those actions.  Perhaps the hypocrisy truly runs that deep.  Regardless, seeing the true actions of these individuals has been quite the lesson.  I have learned that most who so loudly proclaim their Christianity hate entire groups of minorities.  Those who adamantly demand freedom to practice their religion mean only they have the right and only their religion.  

Take some time today and just observe your timeline.  It is fascinating and educational.  


Friday, February 3, 2017


This week, we talked about setting goals, prioritizing, and respecting those goals and priorities.  Here is a list of some free resources to help you on your journey:

1.  Printable To-Do List:  https://www.printabletodolist.com/

4.  Be More With Less:  http://bemorewithless.com/25/

You know what you want.  You know to plan the steps to get there.  You now have resources.  Time to do it!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Respect Your Priorities

What are your priorities for this year?  Are you striving to live within your means?  Are you working towards a new career goal such as self-employment or working from home?  Are you trying to reduce credit card debt?

Whatever they may be, these are the priorities you set.  Respect them.  Taking actions and/or living a lifestyle in direct conflict with your priorities and goals only sabotages yourself.  Why would you do that?

Make a plan.  Don't say that you know what you want to achieve.  Write it down.  Now, break it down in to all the steps you have to take and all the changes you must make to achieve that goal.  Buy an attractive journal, one that is a pleasure to the eyes every time you look at it.  Write it down.

For me, it is getting my home to how I want it.  Each room has a couple of pages.  They include projects to be completed, what each room still needs, and wants that would make it better.  I have a definite plan, steps to be taken, and lists of what I need.  As I cross off each item, my goal nears.  This is my priority.  To achieve it, I don't go out.  I spend my small discretionary fund on books and crafts. These are things that feed my soul.  Everything else can wait until my goal is achieved.  

Think about your priorities and goals.  Are you taking steps to achieve them or are you disrespecting your own priorities by your actions?  It's time to take a hard look in the mirror.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Simplify Your Calendar

Take a good, hard look at your calendar.  Not the work part, those obligations are not optional.  Let's talk about the social calendar.

Are you going out to eat/drink three or four nights a week?  How does that align with your goals?  If you are striving to reduce credit card debt, live within your means, or spend more time with your hobbies, it is hard to justify the time and expense spent outside of those goals.

Don't be afraid to say "no."  It is perfectly fine to tell someone that you can't make it because you have a project that you set aside time to work on.  Learning to say "no" is not easy, particularly for women.  We were raised to be people pleasers and it takes courage to say no and take back your personal time.

Remember to protect and treasure your time.  It is more valuable than any of your assets!



Jerri's Empty Nest