Spring Break on the cheap

There’s something about loading up your family in the car with all of their crap for several hours of being forced to bond..that always seems like a great idea at first πŸ’‘. Then you hit the open road and realize quickly that everyone is more interested in giving their electronics attention, or siblings arguing over the smallest things like a foot being in the others “space”, and then it quickly turns from word fights to actual physical harm against one another πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ.

Despite your better judgement, you load up that car year after year in hopes of that one sweet little “I love you mom and thank you for taking us on this trip. It was so much fun” that makes you forget all the fights and meltdowns, and makes it all worth it. Or getting to climb through crazy tunnels or seeing a baby elephant 🐘 up close.

St Louis did NOT disappoint and I highly recommend making the trip. It allowed for a safe amount of time together in the car and there are so many FREE things for a family to do..that well..it just makes my little frugal heart happy πŸ˜†. We only had to fill up the tank once, packed all of our own food/drinks, and stayed in a very affordable AirBNB. So total expenses for our 3 day trip was around $475 for five of us. We did have an amazing dinner out with some good friends who were sweet enough to pick up the tab, and bought some 50 cent donuts one morning, but made our own meals the rest of the time.

Here’s a breakdown of other activities and what they cost:

AirBNB-$200

Gas-$50

1) Zoo-FREE (we did get suckered into $15 parking when there was free parking right along the road we didn’t know about. Don’t be a sucker like us..park for free)

2) Arch-FREE (it costs to go up in the arch, but we didn’t want to wait the two hours and then it was sold out the other days we were in town. Sore subject in our house right now. πŸ™„)

3) Indoor Swimming at local community center-$41 (this was something my youngest requested and we all had a blast so well worth it)

4) City Museum-$92 and WORTH EVERY PENNY. If you haven’t been..kids or not..this place is worth a visit. There are tunnels, crafting, ten story slides and more tunnels and caves. Might want to pack some knee pads and Tylenol if you’re old rickety body isn’t used to all that. 🀣 I lost my family for a good hour and decided that painting is my new favorite thing and created a “masterpiece” that rivaled my wine and paint pictures I’ve made in the past.

5) St Louis Art Museum-FREE and not sure if it was cool or not. Caleb and I stayed in the car for a quick cat nap while Matt took the girls in…his review..it was just alright. But I’m sure if you’re into art it would be a good stop to make.

6) Science City-FREE but I did have to pay $10 to park. This place is always a great time and we loved making our own parachutes and testing them and sails. We also got to put together our own dinosaur skeleton and Matt got to geek out on old gaming systems while boring the kids with his childhood memories. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ It’s always fun walking over traffic and running radar on the speeders below.

7) IMOS-$25 and I totally would pay triple that to get that St Louis style thin crust mushroom pizza that my family has deprived me of for over ten years now. They are monsters that for some reason don’t like mushrooms or thin crust πŸ•.

8) Odessa Creamery-$42 and this was for some giant ice cream cones while we stretched our legs on the way back..and we also paid for the family behind us to honor K4C day🍦.

So go and make some memories with your family while they have no choice but to spend time with you..and let’s be honest..much like childbirth..we will likely only store the good family vacation memories for the long term. πŸ˜‰

What are some of your favorite road trip destinations or cheap trip ideas?

My top 5 reasons for πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ

I used to have this belief that yogis were all zen af tea sipping vegans (nothing against the zen af tea sipping vegans out there). I also thought yogis could turn themselves into a human pretzel upon demand πŸ₯¨ and liked to show off the crazy things they could do, all while judging you for your life choices, that processed food you were eating, and your inability to turn into said pretzel. Let’s be honest..I was super intimidated and turns out I was the judgy one πŸ’β€β™€οΈ.

I have to add a quick depressing back story to explain how I became a yogi. My journey began after not one, not two, but three separate and very traumatic “events” in my life that took a major toll on me emotionally and physically. I will spare you the details, but especially after the third one in my late twenties, I was in a very dark space and time in my life and there were days when I didn’t even think I could (or didn’t even want to) get out of bed. There are probably people I know reading this and thinking that they had no idea this went on in my life. I think it’s important for people to understand that a lot of people out there are fighting a silent or invisible battle every day with mental health or physical disorders that “look fine” or are great at putting on an act for those closest to them. I was desperate for change after each of my traumas, and unfortunately had found some unhealthy coping mechanisms. 😬

Luckily, I got suckered into a Groupon with a friend at a local yoga studio about 8 years ago. I did that first two month trial and was immediately hooked. My reasons were rather shallow at first..I saw all these hot yoga bodies and wanted one, wanted to do some cool pretzel poses, and I also liked yoga pants and owned several that had never seen a day of yoga before. 🀣

Over the years, a lot of things in my life have changed, but Yoga has been a constant and my love has grown and my journey continues to challenge me every day.

It’s not always easy, but here’s the top 5 reasons why I stick with it:

1) STRENGTH-this is not the physical aspect..that’s great and all, but mentally I feel stronger than ever. Yoga is a feeling for me, and it’s one that is truly hard to describe and I’m sure that feeling is different in each yogi. This feeling isn’t an overnight thing..it took me years to get it.

2) COMMUNITY-I have met so many people along my journey and the support they offer to everyone is amazing. I was way off in my initial stereotyping of all yogis, and so glad I live in a place where there is a big yoga community where everyone is welcome.

3) CONVENIENCE-you can literally do yoga almost anywhere at any time..home, at your desk at work, outside, at a studio, etc. I have done yoga on a beach, on a mountain, in a parking lot, my driveway, a training room at work, and a hotel room just to name a few. All you need is a mat, and if you don’t have one, you can still do yoga right on the floor with no equipment needed.

4) FREEISH-there are a lot of resources out there, including classes on YouTube, apps for your phone, or check your local studios for free events or community based donations, or a good deal they are running. I throw on a Yoga with Adrienne video at work during lunchtime with coworkers a few times a week. I love Saturday morning at my local studio (check out Core Balance Yoga Center if you’re near me in KC), and Spring-Fall always has a lot of free outdoor yoga options that I take full advantage of.

5) SELF LOVE-I love my body and all the things it’s capable of, and will always do my best to take care of it. I have said it before, but if you are fortunate enough to physically be able to do yoga, then do it..seriously..so many people would love to be in your shoes. I also do NOT feel guilty one bit for saying that I COME FIRST. My family needs me to take care of myself, and in return, I can take better care of them.

If you do yoga, what are your reasons? If you haven’t tried yoga before, what are your reasons? Have an open mind (no flexibility needed) and give it a try and hopefully I will see you on the mat.

Maybe you will become zen af or learn a cool pose or two in the process.πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ

-Namaste

For your viewing pleasure..a few of my favorite yoga memories over the years 😍

24/7

Time to get busy on this blog post for you lovely folks (please reread this sentence at the end of this post and take a second to laugh at how clever my writing really is..really)

What time is it where you are? What are you doing right now? What have you already done? Who were you with? Geez Mindy, why the interrogation? Well, I’m relying on you to answer the age old question..where DID the time go?

I will be your guide on this quest. My name is Mindy, and I’m recovering from the “I’m too busy” lifestyle, and I am also definitely a huge work in progress in that arena. So please don’t get the impression I have this all figured out, because I am as far from perfection as it gets.

What I do have going for me is the realization of a few very important things. 1) Time is literally one of the most valuable things you will ever have. 2) You are the one in control of your time and how you choose to spend it. 3) None of us know how much time we really have, and the way you spend your time today can positively or negatively affect your future. 4) Most of us forget the three things I just mentioned, or at minimum, we take them for granted.

When we are running around “busy” all the time, we are likely missing out on other things happening right under our nose.

Society seems to embrace the busy lifestyle and makes it seem like this is the norm. If you haven’t figured this out about me yet, I am all about challenging these norms and taking a different path. I’m also all about being intentional with my time and finding ways to spend it that align with my values. For example, I value my mental and physical wellbeing, so ya damn right that Yoga is going to bring me value and therefore is a great use of my time.

Let’s stop making it seem like it is success to constantly be busy and running from one activity to the next without a chance to even breathe. A lot of us have kids watching and learning from our example, and a lot of these same kids are the reason we think we have to rush around every day.

I challenge you to examine how you view your time and answer the question..where did your time go? Start by grabbing your paper and pen and just keeping track. Much like the figuring out your budget and money, it starts by writing it down. Take 2 or 3 days and write down what you did with EVERY SINGLE MINUTE. Do you like what you see? If so, great..keep budgeting your time just as you are.

If not, where can you take back your time? What is that one thing you would do “if you just had the time?” Remember, YOU are the one in control of your time and how you choose to spend it. So thank you for choosing to spend a few of your 1,440 minutes today reading my post. πŸ˜‰

Chase your dreams for FREE

As the lyrics to one of my favorite songs go:

Are you a dreamer also and just don’t know how to take action? Keep reading…

I sometimes find myself surprised at what I stumble upon at the local library. We’ve gotten kids books, music, audio books, downloadable books,DVD’s, and even watched a magic show or two. I’ve seen puzzles and games there, and they even have computers with games for kids or internet access for people who need it.

They do a lot of free events also, like the summer reading program or the Random Acts of Kindness December where kids can earn free books. We do these things every year and my kids love the library and to read. Seriously can’t think of anything better than my kids getting smarter while feeling entertained for free. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

While my kids have gone once a month and filled a bag of a bazillion books for years, I haven’t really taken full advantage for myself. I occasionally grab a trashy audiobook for my commute, or the book we’re reading in the book club I’m in, but just recently I realized something epic.

I’m NOT too old to learn new things. Im NOT too old to follow my dreams. I’m definitely NOT smart enough to know everything there is to know out there either. So why not take advantage of the free resources I have available?

As you have likely noticed, I AM a dreamer and I always dream big. I’m on a journey to improve the financials of my family and really into the F.I.R.E. movement (Financial Independence Retire Early). I have also been interested in real estate investing for years. The library was that next step for me that took me from dreaming to doing. I have already read 6 books this year, and have gained the confidence and knowledge I was lacking to just go for it already.

What have you been dreaming about and what are you waiting for? I bet there’s a book that can turn you into a doer at your local library. πŸ“š Still scared that you won’t be able to turn your dreams into a reality? I bet there’s a book for that also, and seriously..don’t be scared..it’s free, so you have nothing to lose and only knowledge to gain. πŸ€“

Messy Hair Don’t Care

11ish years ago..I was getting ready for a date with my boyfriend (now husband) and I asked “how does my hair look”. Keep in mind I had spent a LOT of time and effort on coloring, washing, blow drying, and flat ironing. He responded “well, it’s a little frizzy”. 😳 Now if you’re a man reading this, I would encourage you not to be as honest as my husband was to my question. Sometimes it’s ok to lie, and in fact encouraged in certain scenarios like the above.

I share that story as a reminder that..with or without investing my time and energy, my hair is likely still going to be a little frizzy. So why bother right? If you read my post about my No Spend Year, you know I started off with a goal of not buying any clothes, shoes or accessories. Then you may have read my makeup free post, and how I’ve been rocking 2019 makeup free.

Since I’m on a roll, and have set some lofty financial goals for our family this year, I started thinking about other areas that I spend a lot of time and money on. I do believe I spend on average around $750ish on my hair. How much do you spend on average? This is for upkeep on coloring every 10 weeks to cover up grey, shampoo and dry shampoo. I’m already a pretty big minimalist compared to some in the hair arena, since I don’t really use any products besides dry shampoo..a LOT of dry shampoo. But if I spend $750 a year for 40 years of hair maintenance, that adds up to $30,000 over my lifetime. πŸ˜³πŸ’ΈπŸ’ΈπŸ’Έ

See above mention on my lofty financial goals? I have decided I could allocate that $750 towards my final debt payoff, or for a down payment on our first investment property. Either one will give me better returns than a few people saying “oh your hair looks really good” for a day or two after my hair appointment. πŸ’β€β™€οΈ

So I’ve decided to try and skip the salon and add that to my No Spend Year. In the process, something else unexpected happened. I stumbled across all these women rocking the #grombre on IG, and it turns out this is trending now. So I will be totally trending, will get to see what my natural color that I’ve covered up the past twenty years (mixed with greys) will look like, and also set an example for my daughter who said “I don’t know why you would want to cover up your natural beauty anyway”. Dang..little wise old soul for the win. πŸ€“

And as a side bar, I also have stopped wasting time and money washing every day or every other day like I used to. I can use that hour of time to read, or write a blog post for you lovely folks, or hang with my family. I stole a hat from my husband, and can rock that dirty pony for up to 5 days. You read that write..5 days! My dirty pony goes great with my makeup free face. I have honestly never felt more confident than I do now and that is ALL that matters.

So if you haven’t thought about your hair lately, stop and think about it. How much time and money are you investing? Are you happy with your returns? If so..great..keep doing what you’re doing and I will be that person who gives you compliments after you get your hair did. If not, feel free to come rock the dirty pony and #grombre with me this year!

Credit Cards and why I will NEVER carry a balance

I can almost see 18 year old, broke, irresponsible, partying, college kid me opening my first credit card offer like I had just won the lottery. Wait..you mean to tell me you’re going to GIVE me access to $2,000, and in return, I only have to pay you a minimum balance of $25?! What?! Why are you so nice and how did I get so lucky?! I was so impressed with your timing and that it was almost like you really KNEW me and were there for me with a credit increase when I was at my lowest..what would I ever have done without you?! Now I didn’t have to worry about that new phone I wanted, that dinner out, that new outfit, etc. Then you even told your other credit card company friends, and they also wanted to give me credit cards?

Fast forward to 24 year old me, who didn’t end up getting her degree, and had spent the past 6 years racking up $15,000 in credit card debt. I kept spending and they kept increasing my limit (I’m starting to figure out at this point they weren’t doing this to be nice). I was paying their minimums and it wasn’t even enough to cover the interest and was affecting my credit. I remember the exact moment where I thought that bankruptcy was my only option and feeling so overwhelmed and thought I would never get out of the hole I had dug.

I was on my way to a job interview for my first job in the insurance industry. I literally had to use two different credit cards for gas in my gas guzzling Durango to make it to the interview (insert whole other soapbox on the car). I was so broke and my cards so maxed out that I could barely even afford to make it to the interview.

Luckily, I got the job that started a very rewarding career path for me. I also got introduced to Dave Ramsey Financial Peace through a coworker at that job, and this was a totally new concept to me. I just thought everyone lived this way and walked around with debt, and honestly had no idea that there was any other way. I read that last sentence over and over, because I fancy myself a semi-intelligent person and it just sounds so stupid..but it’s the truth and a reflection of me being a product of my environment (also for another day).

I then met my husband two weeks after that and we knew right away that we were going to get married. Unfortunately for him, that meant marrying a smart, pretty, hilarious woman..who just happened to have a lot of financial baggage. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ I’m not even going to discuss the $30kish of student loans because that’s for another day.

Apparently my brilliant personality won him over, and he decided to hang out in his moms basement with me for 18 months to help dig “us” out of that debt. Talk about sacrifice. But we made it work and paid all of that credit card debt off, got pregnant with our first human, and saved up a down payment for our first home.

I think back to that $15k once in a while and wonder..what if I had never opened that credit card offer. What if I was able to pay my student loans off sooner, or what if I could have put that in a 401k, or as more towards our first house. And you know what? I do have regrets, but I learned a very valuable lesson that I will carry with me and pass along to my kids. It changed the way I view money, and things and debt. Looking back, I was not living within my means, and because of that 18 months of sacrifice and a rough start to our financial future..I will NEVER carry a balance again. If I can’t afford it..then I don’t need it. Plain and simple. I haven’t carried a balance in over ten years and it turns out I am just fine. What are your thoughts on credit card debt and has it affected you negatively or positively during your financial journey?