Monthly Archives: April 2012

Everyday Plants That Repel Pesky Bugs

 

Insects have an important role in our ecosystem. They aerate the soil, pollinate blossoms, and even help control other pests. But what if you just want to sit on your deck without getting eaten alive by mosquitoes? Or maybe you want to create a space that is free of bees to reduce your kids’ risk of getting stung?

There are a variety of plants that repel certain bugs. You can plan your garden around them, and at the same time avoid the use of smelly chemical repellants on your skin.

Mosquitoes

There are a variety of plants that will repel mosquitoes. Many of them have a strong aroma that the mosquitoes don’t like. Pick a few of these plants whose scent you enjoy, and you’ll be set.

Catnip This leafy plant will get all the neighborhood cats to come visit you! Catnip likes full sun and can really take off, so you might want to control it a bit once the plant gets established.

Citronella grass This is the plant that is used to create the citronella oil you find in citronella candles. No need for a candle, though. The plant is tall, gorgeous, and fragrant. It grows really well and likes to be watered often.

Peppermint – This herb will also grow like crazy, so you’ll need to control it too. You can never have too much peppermint, though. Harvest it and use it in cooking, in tea, or even externally to control itching. Bonus: Peppermint is also a natural way to control rodents, so you can grow a border of peppermint around other plants, and the critters will stay away.

Bees

It’s not easy to repel bees, because most plants will attract them for pollination. There are a few plants that people claim to have bee-repelling properties that might be worth a try.

Marigold – This flower does well in a variety of climates, and it appears that red marigolds do the best job of keeping bees away. Marigolds need a lot of water during hot weather, but they’re also very hardy.

Geranium – This colorful perennial also repels bees (and mosquitoes too). They like full sun, and you can plant them in clusters around areas you particularly want to protect, like your kids’ sandbox or the doggie wading pool.

Basil – This herb also grows easily, and you can harvest it all summer to use in your cooking. Basil plants prefer a steady water supply, and they will also produce little flowers that you can pinch away to get a more flavorful plant.

Flies

If you’re cooking out on the grill this summer, you might want some plants that deter flies. Ditto if you like to eat outside on your deck. Put some of these plants out onย  your deck table, and you’ll spend less time swatting the flies away from your plate while you eat.

Lavender – This pretty plant has a very pleasant scent that flies don’t like. Lavender grows well in both gardens and containers, and it is very tolerant to heat. An added bonus to having lots of lavender? It also attracts butterflies.

Rosemary – This easy-to-grow herb also has a lot of cooking and baking uses when you harvest it. Rosemary likes its soil on the dry side, and it also prefers a little breathing room in order to flourish. Interestingly, cats dislike the scent of rosemary, so if you plant some catnip to keep the mosquitoes away, you can balance that with some rosemary to keep the cats away!

Keep in mind, of course, that you don’t want to keep all bugs away. They do serve a purpose, and you could end up with a doomed garden if you are overzealous about deterring insects. A few plants here and there to keep the pesky bugs away is just fine, though, and I promise you’ll have a more pleasant summer! Enjoy your time outside!

 

25 Ways To Instantly Boost Your Mood

 

Have you ever had one of those days where everything was going along just fine, and then you get hit with some disappointing news or a really frustrating annoyance and then, even if it is something you should be able to move beyond, for some reason you can’t?

It has happened to me. Usually I can reason my way out of my funk, but then there are other times when it just stops me in my tracks and I become completely unproductive.

I started thinking about ways to work around the mental block when I can’t move through it. Sometimes I find that my day was so thrown off by a disappointment that what I really need is a completely different place to shift my focus – if only for a few minutes.

One way to do that is to know what works for you to instantly boost your mood. No matter who got credit for your idea at work or what kind of grades your kid came home with or how much money it’s going to cost to fix your car, what are the things you can do that immediately help you feel better?

I’ve created a list of instant mood-boosters. See which ones you like, add some of your own, and then think back on your list when you need a little positive push.

25 Instant Mood-Boosters

1. Write down your feelings. Sometimes venting can make a world of difference, and this way – nobody even has to listen!

2. Play your favorite upbeat song – and play it loud enough for the neighbors to hear!

3. Find a mirror, fix your hair, re-apply makeup, and SMILE at yourself!

4. Go for a really brisk walk around the block, and follow that with a long drink of cool water.

5. Spend 5 minutes at a website that makes you laugh. I love the funny, quick reads at Postcards From Yo Momma, and I can always find a laugh at I Can Has Cheezburger.

6. Compliment someone.

7. Fantasize about your dream car.

8. Text a friend to make fun plans for the weekend.

9. Take a quick shower and consider it a new start to your day.

10. Flip through some old photos – maybe from your childhood, your wedding, or your favorite vacation.

11. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a room diffuser. If you don’t already have one, – this “bowl style” one from amazon is simple, pretty, and inexpensive. Just ordering it might boost your mood!

12. Open the blinds and spend a few minutes in the sun. Even better if you can go outside!

13. Paint your nails with the brightest color you own.

14. Plan a road trip.

15. Rummage through a box of your kids’ artwork from when they were little.

16. Text three family members just to say hi.

17. Ask someone in grade school to tell you a funny joke.

18. Roughhouse with your dog.

19. Drive through Starbucks and grab a latte.

20. Grab some crayons or markers, print a fun page from Crayola, and spend 10 minutes coloring.

21. Review your bucket list – cross out the ones you have completed, add a few things, and make plans for what you want to do next.

22. Buy a big bunch of your favorite flowers and put a few stems in each room.

23. Schedule a massage.

24. Send a nice email. Thank your assistant for helping you look great, ask your mom for advice, or tell your babysitter how much your kids love her.

25. Remember that tomorrow is another day. And it will be awesome!

What are your go-to mood boosters? I bet you have a few, and I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Healthy In A Hurry: Salmon Burgers

 

Spring is here, and summer’s right around the corner. When it comes to cooking, that usually means more time grilling out instead of cooking inside on the stove. This recipe has become a favorite at my house. It’s really easy to make – you can get it done in 30 minutes from start to finish – and you’ll have a healthy meal on the table that everyone will enjoy.

I’ve included a link at the end of this post, so you can download the recipe and add it to your recipe collection. If your husband is anything like mine, he’ll be glad for something new to try on the grill! ๐Ÿ™‚

Salmon Burgers

Ingredients

1 cup broken herb-seasoned crackers

1 lb. skinless, boneless salmon fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 egg

1 T. honey mustard (you can also use Dijon mustard if you prefer that flavor)

4 whole grain buns (or reduce the carbs and calories by using whole wheat bread)

sliced avocado, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, lettuce (or any other favorite veggie burger toppings)

Directions

1. In food processor, place crackers. Cover and process until coarsely ground. Add half of the salmon, the egg, and the mustard. Cover and process until salmon is ground and mixture is thoroughly combined. Empty mixture into a bowl.

2. Put remaining salmon in food processor. Cover and pulse with several on/off turns until salmon is coarsely chopped. Return salmon/cracker/egg mixture to processor, cover and process until fully combined.

3. With damp hands, shape mixture into four patties.

4. Grill directly on a greased grill rack over medium heat three minutes per side or until cooked through. Grill buns, cut side down, the last 1-2 minutes of grilling.

5. Serve salmon burgers on buns with veggie toppings. Makes 4 large servings.

This is another recipe that you can tweak a bit in order to work with your family’s tastes depending on which veggies they prefer. I love this burger with just avocado, lettuce, and a little mustard. It’s also really good without any bun at all. The burgers reheat really well too, so don’t worry if you have leftovers – they’ll make a great lunch for tomorrow!

If you stack enough veggies on your burger, you’ll have a complete balanced meal in this one dish. Otherwise, just add a little side salad, and you’re set. Enjoy!

Download the recipe here: One Move Forward’s Healthy In A Hurry Salmon Burgers

The One-Step Compatibility Test

 

One of my favorite quotes comes from Maya Angelou. It’s simple, it’s so easy to implement, and it can help you answer a lot of questions. Want to know what it is?

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou

Simply put, you can learn a lot about a person by their actions. When you meet someone new (maybe a new person you’re dating, or a new friend or co-worker), if you are observant, you can learn a lot about their character through their words, attitude, and actions. It’s the one-step compatibility test. You can find out pretty quickly whether that person is someone with whom you want to spend your time. You’ll be able to determine what they’re like and who they are as a person, and the key here is that whatever you see and whatever they show you – believe them. That’s really who they are. I’ll give you some examples.

Your new love interest

Maybe you met someone who you think you might like to get to know better. You start dating, and he comes to your house to pick you up for dinner. At your house, he comments on your decor or “critiques” the art on your walls or questions your taste in books when he sees what’s on your bookshelf. (Yes, this really happened to me!). The guy might be nice in general, and he may be a lot of fun, but do you want to spend a lot of time with someone whose commentary makes you feel compelled to hide the real you?

When I (briefly) dated a guy like this, it didn’t take long before I realized how much he thought of himself. I also started to see that the more he criticized other people, things, and ideas, the more he prided himself on being so much better. Maybe it was a self-esteem thing, I don’t know, but what I do know is that even if a guy looks good on paper, if he’s going to come in your house and criticize your choices, he likely wouldn’t be a very supportive partner.

This guy’s actions were a red flag for me, because I realized how uneasy he made me feel, if not a bit defensive. But really, I should have appreciated it, because it gave me a lot of insight into him.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that we weren’t a match. He showed me who he was, and I believed him. His words were a little window into his true personality, and then I could see how that part of him showed up in a lot of other ways too.

If you’re dating someone new and wondering if you are compatible, pay attention to your gut feeling. If he (or she) says or does something that makes you uncomfortable, look for it to manifest itself in other ways. Don’t make excuses for it or think it’s a one-time thing. It probably isn’t. He’s showing you who he is. Believe him.

New friends

Maybe you’ve been hanging out with some new friends, and you’re trying to determine whether they are people you would like to have in your inner circle. The same one-step test applies. I once started hanging out with a new friend whose company I enjoyed. We liked doing a lot of the same things, so we started doing some fun things together. But early on I noticed she spent a lot of time talking about others in our social circle.

Whether it was rumors or gossip or their sense of fashion or how they spent their money – she talked about it, and she had an opinion of it. And it often wasn’t very positive. I realized that this was a time she was showing me who she was, and negative people will take you down with them. Besides that, I had to figure she was talking about me when I wasn’t around!

This isn’t to say you should critique every new potential friend or seek out the negative side to their personality. It’s just that people are usually pretty good at putting their best foot forward when they are spending time with someone new. You want to be aware of that and make sure you aren’t overlooking something that makes you uneasy. That small thing you noticed about them might actually be a good indicator of who they are. This is especially true if it’s a behavior or action that troubles you, since those are often the most true indications of the real person.

Get to know someone through their actions instead of their words, and you will know the real person. Believe that their actions are who they truly are, and decide if that’s someone you want to be around.

As you can see, you can implement the one-step test in all your relationships. Think about Angelou’s quote, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” If you look back on past failed relationships with partners, friends, and co-workers, can you can see where someone showed you early on who they truly were, but you didn’t believe them?

Maybe you wanted to think better of them. Maybe you thought that person was just having an off day, but now looking back you can see that it really was a sign of her true personality. And possibly you could have saved yourself some headache and heartache if you would have just believed her the first time.

What Do You Need To Say Before It’s Too Late?

 

There has been a bit of internet buzz lately surrounding a blog called, “The Things You Would Have Said.” It’s a very simple blog with short postings from people who missed out on a chance to say something to someone. Each blog post is written like a letter to that person, finally saying the thing that went unsaid. Some are serious, some are funny, and many are a bit sad.

The posts come from people of all walks of life, and the letters are written to people with a variety of roles in that person’s life. There’s one from a 13-year-old girl who wished she would have told her grandma more often that she loved her. There’s another that a woman wrote to her deceased sister, apologizing for not being there for her when she had pain after surgery and then unexpectedly passed away. There’s even one from a 78-year-old man to his mother, in which he simply tells her finally how important she was to him.

This isn’t about an altercation with someone where you later think of a good comeback and think, “That’s what I should have said!” And it isn’t about getting the last word in to someone who broke your heart. But it’s really just people who missed out on telling someone something important, and now they never can.

What I would have said

Of all the big and small dreams on my bucket list, one thing I have had on there for years is to find my second grade teacher and thank her. Miss Foley was one of those teachers who loved teaching, put tons of energy into it, and always made everyone feel special. For me, though, I remember her giving me attention on days I needed it and boosting my self-esteem when she recognized my accomplishments. I don’t have any idea how to find her now, but there are definitely some things I would like to say – starting with “Thank You.”

I had another really great teacher in college – a health promotion/wellness professor I had for a couple of classes. I still have one of the projects I completed for her class (printed on a dot matrix!), and I look at it from time to time, because her comments were so generous, encouraging, and positive. Whenever I review it, I always wonder if she knows how great a professor she is and how much I valued her. A couple of months ago, I actually tracked her down and took the time to tell her what I thought. She answered some questions I had, and then – no surprise – she gave me feedback on this blog! She hasn’t changed a bit. ๐Ÿ™‚

What would you have said?

Think back over the course of your life and the people who have impacted you. When you were a kid, were there things you would have said if you had known you would lose touch with people? I read a post on “The Things You Would Have Said” from an adult man to his grade school friend. He was finally apologizing for repeatedly knocking his friend’s sombrero off his head during a school performance of Mexican dance! He was carrying that regret for “acting like a jerkface” all his life, and still wanted to make it up to his old friend.

Now as an adult, are there people you have lost through due to death, distance, or maybe a disagreement that you wish you would have told them one more thing? Maybe like this man who never got around to telling his now deceased cousin that all he ever wanted was to be like him?

What can you say now?

You knew where this was going, right? My next question is – what do you need to say now before you run the risk of it being unsaid? You never know when a person who impacts you so much today could be lost forever. Do you need to tell your dad how much you look up to him and really appreciate him teaching you so much? Do you need to tell your son how proud you are of his accomplishments or how much you value his opinion? Maybe you need to tell your best friend how much she means to you or how lost you’d be without her.

Take a look at “The Things You Would Have Said.” The letters are heartfelt, and you can feel their pain, but they also just might make you think about what you need to say now, before it’s too late. There’s also a book, which is like a “best of” the blog, called The Things You Would Have Said: The Chance to Say What You Always Wanted Them to Know. I haven’t picked it up yet, but you can see from the reviews on amazon how much readers are affected by the letters they read. I imagine they were spurred to say a few things to their friends and family too.

Have you thought of a few people you need to talk to right away? I’d love to hear from you in the comments – let me know how it goes when you tell them!

Related Article:
Bucket Lists: How To Create The Guide To Your Own Life

 

4 New Easy Lifestyle Changes To Help The Environment

 

In all the different areas of our lives where we strive to find balance, we have to remember the environment. It’s important to think beyond ourselves, think about all of Earth’s other inhabitants, and also consider future generations. When you make positive choices in your life that take care of the environment, it not only contributes to your own overall wellness, but also the wellness of animals, plants, and other people.

Since people starting talking more about taking care of the environment, we have heard a lot of the same tips over and over – use canvas bags for your shopping, turn off the lights you’re not using, and recycle your cans and bottles, right? So today I thought I would give you some new ideas that you can implement into your life. Don’t worry, they’re fairly easy – just a few things you may not have thought about before or may not have thought about in a while.

Turn off ALL your gadgets – completely.

We all know to turn off the TV or radio when we’re not using it, but did you know that many of your gadgets still continue to use energy, even when they are off? Your devices actually continue to conduct electricity through their power cords when you leave them plugged into the wall.

Easy solution #1 Get a surge-suppressing power outlet strip.

If you plug all your appliances into a surge-suppressing strip, they won’t continue to use energy when they are off. Anywhere in the house where you have a few appliances grouped together, you can plug them all into the same strip. You can do it with your computer, monitor and printer in one room; your hair dryer, hair straightener and radio in the bathroom; and your toaster over, microwave and electric can opener in the kitchen.

When you are done using those appliances, shut them off and then flip the switch on the surge protector too, and your devices will be completely turned off. Try it for a few months and see how much energy you save!

Use smaller cooking devices

Easy solution #2 Bake in your toaster over, cook in your microwave, grill in your George Foreman!

The smaller the appliance, the less energy you will use to cook your food. I have a toaster oven, and I use it for all sorts of things. I bake potatoes in there, make garlic bread, brown rolls, warm leftover pizza – the possibilities are endless. You can use your microwave to boil water, steam vegetables, melt butter, and so many other things instead of using the stove.

As summer approaches, remember also that if you can avoid using the stove and oven as much as possible, you’ll keep your house cooler and save on air conditioning costs too.

Change your lawn care habits

You may not be able to control mother nature, but you can retain moisture in your lawn.

Easy solution #3 Keep your lawn long and let the clippings fall

You can save reduce your need to water the grass if you can get your grass to retain some of the water it gets naturally. You can slow evaporation by keeping your lawn a bit on the long side. And rather than bagging your clippings, let them fall as you mow. This acts as a little shield from the sun, allowing your lawn to retain water a bit longer. The clippings will also reduce your need for artificial fertilizer – an added bonus for the environment.

Sometimes I think people get a little too wrapped up in the appearance of their lawn, wanting to keep it really short and trimmed and also using fertilizers and chemicals to make it lush and keep away weeds that are actually harmless. Try looking at your lawn with a new eye. Embrace its natural state – it’s beautiful (and so are dandelions!).

Be done with disposables

Easy solution #4 Switch to cloth napkins and reusable lunch bags & silverware

When I used to take my lunch to work, I used one of those insulated lunch bags. They work great, and they’re really easy to wipe clean too. I packed silverware from home, so I wouldn’t need to use the plastic utensils at the office, and I even put my sandwich in a little tupperware. If you get in the habit, it’s really just as easy as using disposables. Bring it all home, clean, and you’re set for the next day.

At home we made the switch to cloth napkins. They’re not just for special occasions anymore! We haven’t had paper napkins in the house for years, and we don’t miss them at all. And if you don’t care much about appearances, you don’t even need to invest in actual napkins. Any old fabric will do. You can even cut an old cotton shirt into squares and make those your napkins!

You can even use different colored napkins for different family members, so everyone can remember which one is theirs. Use them for a few days, and then toss them in the laundry.

There are so many little changes you can make to help save the environment. I know you have some tips of your own too, so please share them in the comments!

Healthy In A Hurry: Japanese Okonomiyaki

 

I am starting a new weekly article series called, “Healthy In A Hurry.” If you’re looking for inspiration for new recipes that are good for you and also don’t take a long time to prepare, this is for you!

Most Healthy In A Hurry posts will be one full dinner menu, complete with an entree and all your sides, and I will also sometimes include suggestions and ideas that you can integrate into your current cooking style to increase the health factor in what you’re serving. I hope you’ll enjoy trying new dishes and learning with me!

Japanese Cuisine

If you are familiar with Japanese cuisine at all, you know there is a lot more to it than sushi. Okonomiyaki is a pancake-like dish that has countless different varieties. You can start with the basic batter, and then add whatever combination of meat, seafood, vegetables, and spices you like.

It’s very easy to make and tastes great, but what I like best about it is that it’s a great dish for sneaking in a lot of vegetables. The picky eaters in your family will barely notice!

The recipe below is the one I use. I love the flavor combination, but feel free to mix and match whatever ingredients work for you and your family.

Okonomiyaki Recipe

Ingredients

2 cans tiny shrimp

2 cups thinly cut cabbage

3 green onions (chopped)

1 bag bean sprouts

1 medium zucchini, shredded

5 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups Bisquick

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tsp. soy sauce

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix shrimp, cabbage, green onions, zucchini, and bean sprouts.

2. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, Bisquick, broth, and soy sauce.

3. Pour batter over shrimp mixture and toss thoroughly to coat.

4. Use non-stick spray or 1/4 tsp. sesame oil on pans over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan, cover and cook for four minutes. Turn over, and cook for four more minutes.

Serves 4.

Notes

You will need a little sauce for these. I like to make my own by mixing a little Worcestershire sauce into some Trader Joe’s organic ketchup. You can also buy some bottled sauces, but just be careful because many of the sweet ones are high in sugar, and others are high in sodium. You can get really creative with this recipe, so have fun!

I hope this inspires you to try something new (and healthy!) tonight! Let me know if you give it a go, and I’d especially love to hear about the variations you create! Happy healthy eating!

Related Article:
The Wellness Burger: Tips To Turn Your Favorite Foods Into Healthy Choices

Okonomiyaki

 

 

Personalized Guide To Setting Goals And Staying Motivated

 

We all have ideas about things we want to achieve. Maybe you have small goals like eating healthier or spending more time with your kids. Or perhaps you created a bucket list, and now you want to figure out how to achieve all your dreams. Regardless of all your ideas, you need to have a plan to achieve them. Different people are motivated in different ways, so it’s important to find a way to set goals and stay motivated in a way that fits your personality.

Define your goals in a way that work for you

SMART goals

Some people are very specific and detail-oriented. They often prefer very concise directions when learning to do something new. They are more mathematical, analytical, and logical. If that’s you, try setting your goals by utilizing the SMART acronym. The letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely

Specific – Set your goals with very clear parameters. Instead of setting a goal of exercising to lose weight, make your goal “I will do a cardio workout for 30 minutes three days per week and do 45 minutes of strength training twice each week.”

Measurable – Create goals that have a numbers element to them – something that you can literally measure to see your progress. Instead of planning to save money by eating out less, plan to cook dinner at home six days per week. Or if you have a weight loss goal, set it in terms of calorie intake or body measurements or percent body fat – whatever is most important to you.

Attainable – Your ultimate goal should be something that is attainable. In other words, something you can work toward and ultimately achieve. Of course, there is very little you can’t accomplish if you put your mind to it, but just make sure it is indeed something you can ultimately see come to fruition.

Realistic – Make sure your goals are realistic in terms of the amount of time you have to spend reaching your goal and also the amount of work you are able to put into it. Don’t plan to wake at 5:00 every morning to workout if you are not a morning person and most likely will just keep hitting the snooze button. Don’t set yourself up for failure!

Timely – Set a time frame as part of your goal, such as “I will read five new books by the end of the summer” or “I will clean out two closets by the end of the weekend.” Adding a time factor to your goal creates a sense of urgency and helps you avoid procrastination.

Fluid goals

If you’re not the analytical, logical type and you’re already feeling overwhelmed by all the requirements of setting a simple goal, don’t worry! I have a plan for you too. If you would describe yourself as intuitive and more a feeler than a thinker, you’ll set your goals differently. The steps are simple:

Choose a goal – Think about something you want to achieve and write it down. It might be “I want to get more exercise” or “I want to spend more time with my girlfriends.”

Lay out the steps – On a sheet of paper write your current status at the top (“I occasionally go for a walk, but that’s it for exercise”) and your goal at the bottom (“I want to exercise more”). Then in the space in between, write all the steps it would take to get you from top to bottom. You might need to buy workout clothes, load music on your iPod, recruit friends to join you, and set time in your schedule to go for a walk.

Some people find this method works best if they start writing their steps from the bottom and work their way to the top. Using that method might help you visualize your goal and can keep you motivated to stay on track.

Staying motivated to achieve your goals

Just like goal-setting, different people are motivated in different ways. Find the one you think would work best for you.

Track your progress

This might be another one for the numbers people! Whenever I’m working toward a goal, I find it really helpful to keep a list of what I’ve done toward reaching the goal, and I also like to track my progress in some other way. If you’re like that too, and if you have exercise, healthy eating or weight-loss related goals, there are some great journals you can pick up that provide you with a system to track every metric imaginable.

One is called I Will Get Fit This Time! Workout Journal. It divides all your exercise into categories, so you can track each one and each type. The food log has a space for everything you might want to record, such as calories, fat, portion sizes, etc. It also comes with a pocket journal, so you can keep one with you all the time, and it includes additional information about assessing your fitness level and creating plans to meet your goals.

Another great one is 90-Day Fitness Journal: Your Complete Fitness Companion. If you like LOTS of details, this one’s for you! You can record all your different goals, and then for each day you have spaces to record your daily goals, amount of food, calories, type and time of exercise, calories burned, and much more.

I reviewed both of these books pretty carefully, and I can recommend them both, depending on your needs and personality. Choose the one you think would work best for you and your lifestyle.

Rewards

If you are someone who gets motivated by having a formal reward system, I suggest you read my article on 5 Simple Steps To Making Life Changes That Last. It contains detailed ideas and suggestions for setting small goals and rewarding your progress along the way. If you know you respond well to mini-rewards along the way, that’s a great way to stay motivated!

Get inspired

Can you already visualize what you might look or feel like when you accomplish your goal? If you’re someone who gets inspired by dreams, I bet you can find motivation by reading other people’s success stories. If you want to start your own business, do a google search on others who have done the same, and read their stories. If one of your goals is to travel the world, look for people who have done that and read about their experiences and how they made it happen.

Sometimes finding your motivation is as simple as reading about others who have already accomplished similar goals. Suddenly you find yourself renewed and recharged to keep moving forward!

What are your goals? What would you like to accomplish this month? What about this year, or in the next five years? Let me know in the comments, or connect with me on twitter at @onemoveforward. I look forward to hearing from you!

You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. – Yogi Berra

Related Articles:
Bucket Lists: How To Create The Guide To Your Own Life
4 Life-Changing Steps To Find Your Passion & Create Your Dream Job



Want To Eliminate All Your Money Stress? Make A Budget!

 

There are lots of different factors that play into your emotional wellness, and one of them is your stress level. Your financial wellness (maintaining a quality lifestyle within your financial means) can have a significant effect on your stress level. In other words, having an understanding of your financial situation and taking care of your finances keeps your stress level down and helps you be emotionally well.

In order to understand your financial situation, you have to have a good grasp of how much money you have coming in and also where it’s going. The key to that is maintaining a balanced budget for all of your expenses in a way that not only keeps you from living beyond your means, but also allows you to save money and plan for unexpected expenses.

How to create a budget

Track spending

The most important step in making a monthly budget is knowing where your money goes now. Many people spend a few dollars here and there without paying much attention to it, but what they don’t realize is how much those little expenses add up. In order to get a firm grasp on how you are spending your money,ย  you need to spend a month tracking every single expense – even if you just spend 50 cents to buy a diet coke out of a vending machine.

One easy way to track your expenses is by carrying a small notebook with you wherever you go. It sounds silly, I know, but it works. Carry your notebook (a notebook app on your phone works too), and every time you spend any money, whether with cash or credit or debit, make a note of it. Keep all your receipts too, just in case you forget to write something down.

You can find a an expense worksheet at www.financialliteracymonth.com if you prefer to fill out a form. Just make sure when you spend money on something that isn’t listed on the form, you add that in too!

Track your spending for a whole month, and then review your notes. In general, where does your money go? Did you make wise spending choices? Were your purchases necessary? Look at some of the categories for purchases that are not necessities, but where you seem to spend a lot, such as getting drinks with friends or lunch out with your office mates. Add up your total amount spent for the month on those expenses. Does it surprise you?

Make a list of fixed costs

Now that you know how much you spend each month on both needs and wants, you can use that information to create a monthly budget. The first step is to make a list of your monthly fixed costs. This includes things like your mortgage/rent, utilities, and insurance. Your utilities might vary a bit each month, but if you have a record of your bills over the last year, just find the average for things like electricity, gas, water, and anything else that isn’t a set amount.

Other debt repayments also go in this category. That might include student loans, credit card debts, and car payments. Add up the total cost of your monthly bills that you must pay each month. We’ll use this number later.

Create a spending plan

You’re now ready to create a plan for how you will spend all your income. First, identify all your income from different sources. Even if you have just one paycheck, you might be earning interest on account, receiving dividends, getting inheritance checks, or maybe even working odd jobs. This income worksheet can help you identify all your income sources. It also helps you understand all the deductions that are taken out of your paycheck. Look closely at those too, and see if there are some areas where you might be able to decrease deductions to increase the amount you take home.

Do you allow the government to take out too much for taxes so that you get a big refund in April? If so, that is just like giving the government an interest-free loan from money you could use now. Or maybe you have a paycheck deduction for health insurance, but you can get it cheaper through your spouse? Examine your paycheck stub closely, and make sure you know where all your money is going.

Once you are clear how much income you bring in each month, subtract the total amount of your fixed/necessary costs that you calculated in the previous step. Now, how much is left over? That is your discretionary income – the total amount that you get to decide how you want to spend.

Compare your total discretionary income with the amount you tallied in your expenses journal in step one. Is your discretionary income lower than the amount you are spending? If so, you are living beyond your means and could well be destined for some very difficult financial times. If your expenses are lower than your discretionary income, you are doing well! But you also need to consider saving money.

If you have calculated that you are living beyond your means, or if you’d like to create more breathing room in your budget, the next step is to start cutting expenses. You can do this by reviewing your expenses journal and honestly assessing which expenditures are needs and which ones are wants.

Look at all your “wants” and try to identify areas where you can cut costs. Some, such as eating out or going to the movies, will be obvious. But it’s also important to look at things that you might deem to be necessities, but actually aren’t. Those include cable television, internet access, snack foods you pick up with your groceries, and even your gym membership.

If you look at your list and too many things feel like necessities to you, use this financial priorities worksheet to help you better understand which things you need versus which things you want. The worksheet will also help you rank your priorities so you can figure out what matters most to you. Don’t forget to make saving a priority too. It’s important that you don’t set up your monthly budget so it consumes all of your total monthly income. Saving for vacations and retirement and unexpected expenses is key component of your financial wellness.

Set up your budget sheet so that you account for all your disposable income (your total take-home pay), and you include your monthly set expenses, your “wants”, and savings. You can find lots of budget templates online. This one is pretty simple and straightforward to get you started.

A few more details

One thing to keep in mind when you are cutting expenses is to be realistic. Look back at your spending journal and see what makes sense. If you are feeding a family of four, budgeting $50 per month for groceries won’t work, and you’ll just end up getting frustrated.

Also consider whether increasing your income is a possibility. Besides looking at your paycheck deductions, would it make sense to find additional work? Is it time you talked with your supervisor about a raise? Are there other ways you can turn your spare time into extra cash? Even if it’s just for a short while, finding a way to increase your income can help you achieve your financial goals sooner.

One last note about creating a budget. If you’re not sure how much you should be allowing for different categories of expenses, follow the 50/30/20 rule. Spend 50% of your net income on all your necessities. That includes your monthly fixed expenses, plus other necessities like food, child care, gas and oil for your car, etc. Spend 30% on all your wants. This is anything that is not a necessity and includes internet, cable, entertainment, updates to your home, etc. And plan on spending 20% of your income on savings and debt repayment.

You can divide your savings plan down even further, into short-term (small purchase in a few months), medium-term (vacation next year), and long-term (emergencies, retirement, and major purchases).

The debt repayment part of your overall 20% is anything you spend over the minimum monthly payment. This would include extra payments on your student loan or car loan or any other such debt. You might want to use this financial goal worksheet to help you identify your savings goals. It also will help you determine whether they are short or long term and how much you need to save to meet those goals.

How to use your budget

Once you create your budget, follow it! But don’t be too rigid. You don’t want your money to control you, and you don’t want to feel deprived. Keep tracking your expenses, so you can be sure you are following your plan. After a month or two, re-evaluate it and see what worked for you. You might have some areas where you need to allow for more spending, and there might be other areas where you could tighten your spending even further.

Remember to keep your financial goals in mind. Do you want to be debt-free? Would you love to retire early? Are you saving up for an extravagant vacation to commemorate a big event? When you remember your big goals, it’s easier to stick with your spending plans.

Did you know April is financial literacy month? It’s the perfect time to begin understanding where your money is going and start designing a spending plan that will work for you. Why not get started now?

How To Forgive Others So You Can Let Go & Move Forward

 

Forgiveness is nothing more than a decision. It’s a decision to let go of a resentment, to lessen the grip of a hurt that was perpetrated on you, and to allow yourself to focus on more positive things.

Benefits of forgiving vs. Effects of holding a grudge

When you hold a grudge against someone who has wronged you, in effect you are allowing anger to have a presence in your life. Even if you only think about it on occasion, the anger keeps seeping back into your life.

When you allow anger to be with you, you end up bringing it to other aspects of your life. You bring it with you to other relationships, to new experiences, and to your inner self.

Holding a grudge, therefore, blocks enjoyment of the present. No matter what you are doing or where you are, if something reminds you of that person or the event that hurt you, you return to your anger. That means that it affects whatever you’re doing, even if you were having a great time doing it!

Maybe you love going to baseball games, but one time you were there with a friend who got drunk and insulted you. If you don’t forgive him and move on, guess what happens every time you go to a game? You think of him, and anger creeps into your enjoyment of one of your favorite pastimes!

Or maybe you enjoy playing the piano, but your grade school teacher said you weren’t very good. If you haven’t forgiven her for being so negative and unsupportive, now whenever you play, the memory of her statement angers you again.

You might even be reminded of the hurt when you’re doing something completely unrelated to the original transgression. For instance, you could be reading a book that you are really enjoying, and then there’s a story line of someone betraying a friend. If you were once betrayed by a friend and didn’t forgive her, the story in the book will immediately bring you back to that event, and suddenly you aren’t enjoying your leisure reading anymore. What a way to ruin a good book!

When you forgive someone, however, it allows you to enjoy your life and everyone and everything in it without repeated reminders of past hurts and without returning to the anger you felt toward that person.

When you forgive, it is also good for your health. Letting go of the anger reduces your anxiety and stress level. It also improves your psychological well-being when you stop carrying that negative energy.

What forgiveness doesn’t mean

When you forgive someone, it doesn’t erase what happened. It also doesn’t change that person’s responsibility for hurting you. And don’t worry about “forgive and forget” – maybe you shouldn’t forget.

You might be able to use the event as an opportunity to learn something. You might learn a little about your sensitivities, or you might find you need to create stronger boundaries with caustic people, or maybe you’ll even realize how you might have similarly hurt someone.

Regardless, forgiving doesn’t mean you are being a doormat and letting people step all over you. You are simply taking charge of your own life, casting out negative feelings and focusing on positive ones.

How to forgive

If you are having a hard time letting go of a hurt, there are some steps you can go through that might help you.

Think about the facts of the situation – You can try reliving it if it isn’t too painful. Think about what happened, and what hurt you. Remember how you reacted and how you felt. Think also about how the event has affected your life in the time since it happened.

Think about what made him act that way or say what he said – What are his weaknesses? Most people aren’t inherently bad. Everyone carries their own pain, and that influences their decisions. Take heart in the fact that if he wasn’t carrying his pain, he likely wouldn’t have inflicted any on you. Sympathize with him if you can.

Replay the event with a good outcome – This is a technique I learned a few years back, and it can actually help you gain some closure. If that bad event had not played out in a negative way, how would it have looked? Envision the same event, but with a positive outcome. It just might give you some gratification in knowing how things should have happened.

Remove your victim status – Even if you were the victim, try to stop identifying as one. This lets go of the offender’s control and power over you.

This doesn’t shift any responsibility away from the person who hurt you, it just means you will no longer be a victim to the hurt that he caused you. Take away his power to hurt you by choosing to take control over the situation in your decision to forgive.

Actively choose to forgive – And commit to it! At some point, it just comes down to this. You know what holding a grudge does to you, you know how your life will be improved if you choose to forgive, and you know it’s time to move forward. Choose to forgive the person who caused you pain, and know (as trite as it sounds) you will be a better person for it – it’s true!

When you choose to forgive someone, it won’t have any effect on that person. Know that he won’t change, and that you can’t make him change. Forgiveness changes you. It brings you to peace, it allows you to heal, and it helps you put past pain behind you.

โ€œThe weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.โ€ ~Mahatma Gandhi

Do you have someone you need to forgive? What is holding you back? How might your life be different if you forgave that person? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and you can also find us at www.facebook.com/OneMoveForward!