Tag Archives: happiness

Overcoming the holiday hangover

This time of year is rough for me. After all of the build up around the holidays, the good cheer, the warm fuzzies, it’s hard for me to say goodbye to the holiday season.

January is just so … depressing compared to December. The sparkly holiday decorations are back in the closets, the holiday vacation is over, and all that’s left is three more months of winter. Yuck.

But it’s particularly rough for me this year. I’m at the point in our planning for the move and Europe where it’s too far and not far enough. I’m so excited, and I’m counting down the days of course. But I also feel overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done. I’m excited about the new year, but I’m a little deflated as I get back to the real world. If you’re feeling the same way, here are some tips for staying positive.

Stay committed to your resolutions.

We’re all so motivated to set new goals and start over on New Year’s Day, but once we get back to the real world, that motivation quickly dissolves. But there’s a reason New Year’s Day is exciting and January 4 is depressing. Try to hang on to that feeling of new beginnings. Stay committed to your New Year’s resolution. View every day as a new opportunity to continue reaching your goals.

Revel in relaxation.

As exciting as holiday planning is, it’s also stressful. Instead of feeling sad to see it go, focus on how nice it will be to take a break. Spend a Saturday working on the projects that took a backseat during the holiday season (or starting a new project), and then spend a Sunday doing nothing. You deserve it.

Give yourself something to look forward to.

From the day after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, December is a month of counting down. That’s part of why December is so fun — countdowns are exciting. Hang on to a little of that magic by planning something fun in February or March.

Travel prices are rock bottom, so it’s the perfect time to take a short weekend trip somewhere close by. Last year, we went to Washington D.C. Find somewhere an hour or two away with lots of free entertainment and spring for a night or two in a hotel. A short little getaway will give you something to count down to during the bleak winter months.

How do you beat the holiday hangover?

Photo by stevennl

My New Year’s resolution for 2010 — focus on the positive

Every New Year, I’ve thought long and hard about how to improve myself, and I come up with resolutions that will make me a better person. I tell myself, “You didn’t work out enough this year,” or “You need to lose weight,” or “You need to do this and that to be better.” But you know what? This type of thinking doesn’t motivate me. It just leaves me feeling like I’ve failed in the past, and sets me up for failure and more negative thinking in the future.

This year, I’m spending the New Year looking ahead with excitement and reminding myself of my accomplishments. Instead of dwelling on what I could do better in the coming year, I’m reveling in the joy of all the great things I accomplished in 2009 and the rewards that will follow in 2010.

My New Year’s resolutions are positive reinforcements of my strengths instead of reminders of how I’ve failed. I’m training to run a half marathon to remind myself that I’m capable of anything I set my mind to, and I’m making a promise to myself to focus on my strengths instead of my weaknesses this year.

I want the coming year to be one of happiness and positivity. Here are some other reasons that I’m proud of us, and why I’m so excited for 2010.

  • We’re starting the year credit card debt free, and our emergency fund is complete.
  • We’re finally moving back home to the Midwest.
  • We’re going on our dream vacation to Europe in May.
  • I’m writing a book! (That’s all I can say about that, but I’ll have more details to come, I promise!)
  • My best friend and sister-in-law are both getting married in October.
  • I’m training to run a half marathon in November.

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Are you focusing on your strengths or dwelling on your weaknesses?

Photo by maxblogbits

Frugal year in review – 2009

It’s been an amazing year for us, and I’m so glad I’ve been able to document it all here in this blog.

I’ve picked up quite a few new readers in the past 12 months, so I thought it would be fun to recap the year with my favorite post from each  month (an idea I picked up from Being Frugal). These weren’t necessarily your favorite posts, but they’re the ones that have been particularly meaningful to me.

January: Frugal European vacation — first we need a budget

February: Personal finance is romantic

March: I’ve got a new attitude

April: Comfort & complacency — frugality’s worst enemies

May: Frugality is about quality of life, not money

June: Unexpected benefits of a cash only budget

July: Stop making excuses and start making progress

August: Searching for a place called home

September: Lessons learned from our no spend summer

October: Unexpected benefits of life without cable

November: It’s not failure; it’s an opportunity to learn

December: If at first you don’t succeed, try a new approach

I hope you’re spending today focusing on your accomplishments from this year instead of your setbacks. I hope all of you have a safe and happy new year celebration.

Photo by stewf

It’s a wonderful life

It’s been an incredible year for us, and next year is going to be even better. I’m so grateful for all of the blessings in our lives. Thank you for letting me share our journey with you, and for offering so much support along the way.

I’ll be taking the next couple of days off to spend with Tony. We’re spending this Christmas in North Carolina eating Chinese food and seeing a movie on Christmas Day. It will be absolutely heavenly.

Now get off the Internet and spend some time with the people you love! :)

Photo: Christmas 2007

Reasons to be thankful this year

Family photo 2007

Because it’s good to remind yourself, right?

  • The continued well being of my family and friends.
  • My commitment to a healthier life and body.
  • A steady job that allows us to live comfortably and save for the future.
  • Health insurance.
  • The will power and know-how to live frugally, save for our goals, and live the life we want.
  • The best dog in the world.
  • And last but most definitely not least, my husband, Tony, who is committed to me, frugality, and our goals for the rest of our lives, and I’m all the better for it.

I hope you’re reminding yourself of all the things you have to be thankful for in your life this holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Digital broadcast TV is impressive

tv antennaIt’s been a while since I’ve updated you on life without cable TV. It’s been absolutely fantastic. We’re more productive, happier, and more active without the constant draw of TV.

We still watch a handful for television shows, but they’re all available online the next day at the network’s website. This means we’re more purposeful about what we watch, and we don’t waste time flipping through channels searching for something to watch.

We’ve been so happy without TV that we dragged our feet about setting up the digital converter box for broadcast TV that Kacie at Sense to Save sent me (thanks, Kacie!). We’ve had it for a few weeks, but never got around to picking up an antenna and hooking it all up.

But this weekend my in-laws will be here for the holiday, and my father-in-law is a football fanatic. We wanted to make sure we had network channels set up so he could watch football on Thanksgiving day.

We picked up a standard antenna for about $12. And I have to tell you, I am impressed. From what I remember about antenna-based TV, it was always fuzzy with bad sound or poor picture quality. But this picture is clear as a bell. I doubt we’ll watch much live TV (we prefer to watch it on our own schedule), but for certain live broadcasts like the Oscars and guilty pleasures like American Idol (don’t judge!), I’m happy to have network TV back.

Right now is a better time than ever to ditch your cable. If you’ve never lived without it, just give it a test run. Unplug the TV for a week and see how you feel at the end of it. If you’re feeling healthier, happier, and better, it might be time to give life without cable a shot. And you can still get the news and network broadcasting with a great pictures practically for free.

Photo by swirlspice

Simplify your holiday season

pumpkin pieWith Thanksgiving only one week away, I can’t deny it anymore: the holiday season is upon us. And like every other year, I’m feeling a little unprepared. I know the holidays are coming. They happen every year at the same time. And yet, the holiday season always manages to sneak up on me somehow.

To help maintain my sanity, I’m pledging to keep things as simple as possible. Here are a few of the ways I plan to make that happen:

Take shortcuts.

Next Thursday, Tony and I are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. His parents and sister will be coming to stay with us for the long weekend, and we’re preparing the Thanksgiving meal.

At first, I was gearing up to go all out with homemade everything. Then I realized, we’re cooking and entertaining. I’m sure they’d rather we have time to visit than hide in the kitchen all day slaving over homemade pie crust. So we’re taking a few shortcuts here and there to make meal prep easier, and give us more time to visit.

Ship gifts directly.

We live 800 miles from family, and we won’t be making the trip home this year. To save time and money, we ordered most of our family’s gifts online. We’ll have them shipped directly to them with free shipping. My mom has agreed to wrap all the gifts for my nieces and nephews to save us money on gift wrapping (thanks Mom!). We may spring for the gift wrapping on my parents’ gifts, but either way, it’s much easier to shop online. Just click, ship, and you’re done. No long lines at the post office, expensive shipping, or packing up.

Plan ahead.

With so much going on, it’s tempting to procrastinate holiday shopping and preparation. But it’s so much easier to plan a little at a time to get things done. We made our Thanksgiving menu and shopping list last week and bought a few things at the grocery store last weekend. Now we’ve just got to get the rest of our ingredients, clean the house this weekend, and prepare for our guests.

I also split Christmas shopping over several months. I finished shopping for Tony’s family in October, this month I’ll buy gifts for my family, and in December Tony and I will shop for each other.

Slow down.

Instead of rushing around to get things done, remind yourself that things don’t have to be perfect. This Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m taking the time to enjoy our last winter in the South. I hope to be pregnant by this time next year (!!), which means this could also be our last holiday season as a family of two.

In 10 years, you’re unlikely to remember the little annoyances and mini catastrophes in your planning. What you’re remember is the time spent with family. So make sure you enjoy it.

How are you preparing for the holidays?

Photo by deiru

Step out of your comfort zone

booksLast month after some encouragement from my favorite blogger friend Kacie at Sense to Save, I joined a book club. We still had 15 months left in North Carolina, and I was homesick and lonely for some girlfriends — or any friends other than my wonderful husband.

Last week I attended my first book club meeting, and I’m so sorry I didn’t do it sooner. We’re moving in just seven months now, but I plan to continue attending book club meetings until we move. It felt so good to get out of the house and do something social without my husband. When I came home, I was so happy to see him, and it felt good to tell him all about it.

I love sharing experiences with my husband. There’s no one else in the world I would rather spend my time with. But going out without him made me realize how much I miss doing my own thing, too. When you’re married, especially when you’re happily married to your best friend, it’s so important to do things every once in a while just for you. It’s healthy to have experiences without him so we can continue to learn and grow as individuals. After all, we fell in love with each other as individuals.

I was nervous about it. I didn’t know if I would fit in. I almost backed out at the last minute, telling myself, “Well, we’re moving in seven months now. There’s no point.” But I’m so glad I went.

Now it’s your turn. If there’s an interest or hobby you’ve been wanting to try, do it! Even it if means stepping outside of your comfort zone. Take a cooking class, join a book club, find a moms group.

I found my book club at Meetup,com, which was great, because I was able to look through the other women’s profiles before joining to make sure it was the right group for me. Most of them were in their 20s and 30s, married, with no kids. Just like me! It made the whole process a lot easier.

The most important thing wasn’t getting together and talking with other women about a book (even though that was fun). This experience taught me that I can do this. I can meet people outside of work and outside of my relationship if I’m willing to put in a little effort and step out of my comfort zone. It’s unlikely that any of the women in my new book club will become my new best friend, but that doesn’t mean I won’t look forward to getting together with them once a month to talk about books and drink a glass of wine.

It felt so good to do something by myself, to meet and talk to people who don’t know me as half of Karen and Tony, but now know me only as Karen. And most importantly, when we move and I find myself in a new place again, it won’t be so scary to step out and make some friends on my own.

What have you always wanted to try on your own?

Photo by foolstopzanet

My favorite frugal things about fall

This is my absolute favorite time of year, and even though our weather isn’t quite as cool as I’d like it to be, it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the season.


Fall isn’t just cozy and comfortable. It’s also frugal. Here are my favorite frugal things about my favorite season.

  • Finally opening the windows, airing out the apartment, and turning off the air conditioner. Hello, lower electric bills!
  • Warm oatmeal for breakfast. A huge canister lasts two weeks, and it only costs $3!
  • Big pots of soup that last all week.
  • The crunch of leaves under our feet during long morning walks bundled up in cozy sweaters.
  • Staying in on the weekends to watch a movie under the covers.
  • Bundling up on the couch to work on a quilting project.

What are your favorite frugal things about fall?