It’s 2015. I’m back, and I have some goals.

Like it or not, it’s a new year, and I’m back to blogging!

With a new year come new goals.

My verse for the year is Ephesians 4:29. Words can hurt, or words can help. I get to choose. God has given me the gift of words; it’s my opportunity to use them to His glory.

Here are my two simple goals for the year:

  • Finish organizing my office.

My fantastic mother-in-law has set me up for success with this one. She not only spearheaded the effort to put together the shelves I purchased for the room, but she also has unpacked most of the boxes in that room. All I have to do is purge some things and organize it. Really, it’s that simple.

  • Build relationships.

I’m great at making plans that never happen. Months may pass by before I realize I have no idea what’s happening in a friend’s life. This year, I’m not going to wait until that “perfect moment” to get together with someone. This year, I’m just going to invite someone over for tea, or supper or whatever. It doesn’t matter if the kids interrupt 150 times, or if I haven’t mopped the floor in a while, or if I still have a messy pile of mail on the table. People are important. Relationships are important. Letting God use you in someone else’s life is important.

Do you have any goals for the year? Please share!

Spend Less, Save More, Be Happier

moneyWith the new year comes many things, including new year’s resolutions. And with the economy the way it’s been, it’s no surprise that many people have resolved to get out of debt or at least reduce their spending. It seems that in every magazine I read, there are suggestions of how to spend less and save more.

Here are just a few things BP and I have done to reduce spending, decrease debt and increase our giving ability:

  • Stop paying for television. This one was easy for us, and it ended up being a triple benefit. We not only save money each month, but we also spend more good-quality time together and get more sleep. (Those 10 p.m. crime shows used to suck me in every time! I just had to know “who did it.” But the real question was “Who cares?”)
  • Cook meals at home. Not knowing how to cook is no excuse. Take the time to learn. Start small. Try new foods. It only gets easier. Cooking at home will save you money. And, when you cook at home, you can cook enough so you have leftovers for the next day’s lunch! As an extra bonus, when you cook at home, you can control the amount of fat and salt and sugar that goes into your food so you can eat healthier, which will result in you being healthier and possibly losing weight, lowering your cholesterol, etc.
  • Drink tap water. Stop buying soft drinks, sports drinks and other unhealthy beverages that waste space on your grocery bill. (Feel free to read my post on soft drinks while you’re at it.) Cut out bottled water, as well. Invest in a refillable water bottle that you can fill up on your way out the door, and drink glasses of water when you’re at home. You’ll be paying just pennies a day for staying hydrated.
  • Drink Mona Vie. (Really? Did you think I’d leave this out?) Stop wasting money on fruit from the grocery store that rots in your refrigerator. When you drink Mona Vie, you’re getting 13 servings of fruit for less than $5/day, plus all of the other health benefits that come with it.
  • Limit visits to your local coffee shop. This one was difficult for me. Last year, I had been visiting my favorite little coffee shop as many as five times each week — spending, on average, $10-15 every week because I like the fancy stuff. No 99-cent cups of joe for me. (BP didn’t go nearly as often, but I still was a bad influence on  him.) I’ve scaled back to just one day each week, and I go on “double stamp Tuesday,” which means that every sixth drink is free instead of every eleventh. Now, BP and I fill our travel mugs at home with hot chocolate and hot tea, respectively, before we leave for work each morning.
  • Turn down the thermostat. BP and I keep our house at 63 degrees during the winter. We have an old house that could be more efficient. By keeping the temperature low, we’re able to keep the natural gas bill at a manageable level. Is it cold? Yes, if you’re wearing shorts and a T-shirt. It’s winter, people, dress for the weather! And drink lots of hot chocolate or tea, whichever you prefer. I also have an electric blanket on our bed; I turn it on at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Use the library. Interested in reading the new bestseller? Log on to your library’s Web site, activate your account and request to be placed on a waiting list for the next copy that becomes available — instead of buying a copy for yourself. (Take advantage of a taxpayer benefit!) Reserve your dollars and bookshelf space for books that you really, really, really enjoy. Have a magazine habit? Libraries have a large selection of magazines, too. Narrow down your subscriptions to the ones you really, really, really like and cancel the rest (I also use maghound.com; I pay one price for three titles each month, and if I decide I want a different title the next month, it’s easy to change without subscription hassles.); read the others at the library.
  • Pay for quality, but do not pay full price, ever. I believe in the “buy it nice or buy it twice” mentality. If you like a certain store, sign up for e-mail alerts for sales and coupons. Do some research online, and eventually you’ll find what you’re looking for either on sale or discounted with a coupon. If you can’t get something for a reduced price, then you likely do not need to own it.

In addition to these and other money-saving practices, BP and I make giving money a priority, regardless what our other bills happen to be that month. The topic of giving could be an entirely new post, so I won’t get into detail on it. Just trust me. You’ll be blessed when you give. Here are some of the organizations we support each year, just in case you’re looking for ideas: Gateway Church, Women’s Resource Center of Hancock County and the Findlay City Mission.

Here’s a link to a good article on saving and giving if you’d like to do more reading.