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How to Set Personal Financial Goals

Are you ready to get your finances into ship shape? It’s been several years since I’ve been a financial advisor, but I still have a few pointers up my sleeve when it comes to how to set personal financial goals. Whether or not you handle the family finances, part of running a home is being aware of your finances now…and your financial outlook for the future.

 

Before you can learn how to set personal financial goals, you have to do some prep work. Here are strategies for getting the big picture of your finances and setting your financial goals.

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It’s that time of year—people are taking stock of their lives and spending time to set goals that matter, yet one area that’s often overlooked is finances. Everyone knows that finances matter, but sometimes taking a deeper look at our financial situation can be overwhelming and freakishly scary. Where’s the fun in that?

But I’m here to say that creating a big picture look at your financial situation is a good thing and will help propel you into the future you really want. As I mentioned, I’m not a financial advisor (though I was once upon a time) but I can give some general tips on how to set personal financial goals that make sense for you!

How to Set Personal Financial Goals

1. Gather your bank statements

You can’t figure out where you want to go until you know exactly where you are. Along with your bank statements, find any other savings you have, including retirement (401k, IRA, etc.) Take a close look at:

  • How much money is coming in
  • How much money is going out
  • Recurring expenses that you can reduce

Make note of everything that jumps out at you and feels important.

2. Total up your debts

This part is cringe-worthy and mostly sucks. (Ask me how I know!) But you have to do it. If you skip this step and just say, “Hey, my goal is to reduce my debt” then you’re just shooting blanks. You’re not really serious.

Take a deep breath and total up all your debts. Are they manageable? Are they out of control? Are you behind? Do you even know your credit score?

You need to know what kind of progress you’re making when it comes to debt elimination:

  • Are you reducing your debt or increasing it?
  • Are you just treading water and trying not to go under?
  • What’s causing you to go into more debt?

Take the time to dig in and answer these questions because they are KEY to your financial future. Seriously, friends—we don’t want to be eating dry cat food when we’re too old to work!

3. Look ahead

Think about what’s ahead for you and your family over the next 6-12 months. You have to anticipate situations and incorporate them into your budget and financial goals. Here are some ideas:

  • Known upcoming expenses (dishwasher is ready to poop out, kids going to summer camp, the car needs a transmission, someone needs an operation)
  • Potential change in circumstances (job change, change in fixed expenses)

There are always going to be situations that pop up that you haven’t planned for thanks to our good friend Murphy, but by planning as thoroughly as possible you can take the sting out of your finances.

4. Make a budget

Don’t say the “B” word!

Actually, the “B” word should be your friend! Now that you know how much money you do (or don’t) have, you can create a budget that works for you and your family. There is a ton of great budgeting advice out there! Here are a few books for you to investigate:

 

Cash Flow Planning: The Nuts and Bolts of BudgetingThe Financial Peace Planner: A Step-by-Step Guide to Restoring Your Family's Financial HealthHome Budget WorkbookBudgeting: How to Make a Budget and Manage Your Money and Personal Finances Like a Pro (FREE Bonus Inside) (Budgeting, Money Management, Personal Finance, Planning Guide)How to Manage Your Money When You Don't Have AnyThe Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke

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You get to decide whether you want your budget to be rigid or somewhat elastic. YOU are the boss of your budget! The point is to get real about your financial situation and work within your means so you can achieve your goals.

5. Set goals

What type of personal financial goals you set depends on how much money you have in your budget. For example, if you’re drowning in debt you’re not going to be saving for a trip to the Bahamas. But you might be setting a little aside for the transmission you know you need for the car.

In my estimation, there are 3 main types of personal financial goals:

  • Debt repayment—eliminating debt to create financial freedom
  • Savings—vacations, fun stuff, upcoming known expenses, rainy day, retirement
  • Charitable giving—supporting your favorite causes is a good and healthy thing

Obviously you have to pay your debts before you get too gung-ho about additional goals. But when you are in a position to branch out, there are some tidbits to consider. For each potential goal, ask yourself if this goal is:

  • Taking you closer to financial freedom
  • In line with your values
  • Helping your family’s future
  • Reasonable for your budget

If your answer to any of those questions is “No,” then it’s worth it to reconsider.

Odds and Ends for Setting Personal Financial Goals

Even if you’re single, you still need to consider how your personal financial goals will affect those closest to you. If you’re married, then TALK. Yes, talk to your significant other and work through these steps together. It’s important to be on the same page when it comes to finances. Of course that’s easier said than done, especially if one of you is thrifty and the other is spendy, in which case it’s even more important.

Speaking of talking, if you’re at the stage where you can start being strategic about retirement, talk to a professional! The value of professional advice can’t be overstated. A professional can take a look at your actual numbers and help you find the best way to reach your goals after you’ve set them.

If you find yourself in the position of having more month than money, then look for ways outside of your “day job” to earn extra cash. My list of 20 ways to make money without getting a job can certainly help, and if you put your brain power in motion I’m sure you can think of 20 more!

Remember, you are the boss of your financial goals. You are in charge of whether or not you achieve them. I KNOW that the unexpected can happen—been there, done that—but careful planning will position you to weather the storms. It’s really up to you!

What kinds of things do you keep in mind when setting personal financial goals?

 

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50 Activities to Enjoy With Your Kids

Why should the kids have all the fun? Sometimes we work so hard that we forget to get out there and have fun too…with our precious little ones. If you’re not sure what to do, here are 50 activities to enjoy with your kids!

 

Why let the kids have all the fun? It's time to have fun WITH your kids--and here are 50 ideas!

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Activities to enjoy with your kids:

  1. Build a fort                                 26. Fly a kite
  2. Have a pillow fight                    27. Have a tickle fight
  3. Play tag                                       28. Make ice cream
  4. Blow bubbles                             29. Face paint
  5. Play at the park                         30. Play lawn games
  6. Run through the sprinklers     31. Ride bikes
  7. Play laser tag                             32. Climb a tree
  8. Read together                           33. Play their sport
  9. Visit a museum                         34. Try origami
  10. Go bowling                                 35. Play dress up
  11. Make snow angels                    36. Have a water balloon fight
  12. Play hide and seek                   37. Act out scenes from a play
  13. Go on a hike                              38. Karaoke
  14. Play board games                     39. Blast the music and dance
  15. Make mud pies                         40. Write a story together
  16. Play with toys                            41. Make something with clay
  17. Make a fairy garden                 42. Paint pottery
  18. Color                                           43. Catch butterflies
  19. Finger paint                               44. Build a treehouse
  20. Bake                                            45. Go fishing
  21. Play with sidewalk chalk          46. Learn a new sport
  22. Visit an animal shelter             47. Play hopscotch
  23. Play video games                     48. Blow up balloons and play
  24. Toss a Frisbee                           49. Play house
  25. Go to the library                       50. Build a snowman

 

Some of these ideas for activities to enjoy with your kids might not work, depending on their ages or the time of year, but one thing is sure…if you don’t know what they would enjoy JUST ASK! I’m sure your kids will be able to come up with 50 ideas of their own. And remember, part of the fun is watching them have fun!

What activities do you enjoy with your kids?

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern ParenthoodDad's Book of Awesome Projects: From Stilts and Super-Hero Capes to Tinker Boxes and Seesaws, 25+ Fun Do-It-Yourself Projects for FamiliesFun on the Run!: 324 Instant Family Activities150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com!Parenting Is Childs Play: How To Give Your Child The Best Start In Life And Have Fun DoinParent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids

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LAUNCH! Strategies for Setting Goals and Making Them Happen

Are you ready to take charge of your goals and launch into life? That’s how I felt too before I created LAUNCH! Strategies for Setting Goals and Making Them Happen.

Are you ready to reach your goals and take charge of your life? LAUNCH can help!

 

We all set out with the best intentions when it comes to turning our dreams into reality with each goal we take on, but sometimes life gets in the way—troubles for the kids in school, bills to pay, leaky pipes. Before you know it, our goals get shoved aside in favor of silly things like…survival.

But if you’re ready to take charge of your goals and make them happen, LAUNCH! can help. If you’ve enjoyed my blog posts in the past, you’ll really like this! I’ve taken everything I’ve learned from years of setting goals and achieving them (as well as my big fat flops!) and poured it into this e-course in order to help YOU go from dreaming, to goals, to action.

You’ll learn which patterns in your life set you up for success and which ones lead to failure. You’ll also learn the 3 key ingredients for successfully making your goals happen.

Inside LAUNCH! Strategies for Setting Goals and Making Them Happen you’ll:

  • Analyze your previous goals and their impact
  • Identify current goals that will help you achieve your life vision
  • Target and eliminate self-sabotage
  • Plan for roadblocks and setbacks
  • Develop a solid strategy for implementing your goals and staying on track

Launch! Will provide you with the tools to turn your dreams into actionable goals with over 30 pages of tips, strategies, and worksheets, and exclusive access to 5 video pep talks (password on the first page of the PDF).

Are you ready to achieve your goals and launch into life? Today is a great day to start!

 

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Goal Setting for Moms

Have you ever noticed there are a bazillion articles out there about goal setting for every group of people…except moms? Okay, there are a few on goal setting for moms but many don’t address our needs. Even though we’re a broad group of people, we have issues that are specific to us—moms.

 

Goal setting for moms--a look at the issues that are unique for moms.

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Goal setting for moms is different than almost any other subset of people for one reason in particular: our main focus is not ourselves. While we may dutifully set our goals at the beginning of the year, as soon as life swoops in and kicks us in the butt, we shift our focus to our families.

Ask me how I know 😉

It’s times like those that we have to remind ourselves why goal setting for moms matters, even when we’re walking a tightrope just trying to keep the babies in clean diapers and the household from appearing on Hoarders.

So why does goal setting for moms especially matter? I’m glad you asked! Goal setting matters because it:

  • Gives us something to look forward to for ourselves
  • Allows us to grow as people and to see what we’re able to accomplish
  • Keeps us from getting complacent (especially if we stay at home without much outside interaction)
  • Demonstrates a healthy attitude for our kids

In any case, I believe that as moms we can set goals—even BIG GOALS—and still nurture our families and keep up with our responsibilities. Setting goals and making them happen is largely the same for moms as it is for anyone else, but there are a few tidbits I think are important for moms.

The first tidbit is to remember that moms matter too!

 

 

Goal Setting for Moms

Think Beyond Family

I know, I know! This goes against everything we are programmed to do! But moms matter too, and so do their goals. That means that it’s OK to think about goals that have nothing to do with our spouses or kids, goals that are just for us. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be involved—to the contrary—but it does mean that we don’t have to center everything we do around the wee people.

Throw Away Mommy Guilt

This coincides with thinking beyond the family. Taking care of yourself and doing things for yourself should never produce guilt, especially if your life is in balance and you’re taking care of your family in every other aspect. However, it’s hard not to feel guilty if you’re taking time and/or resources “away” from the family. I totally get that!

But just for a moment, flip it around and think about how achieving your goals will benefit them. It may be that eventually reaching your goal will help your family financially, or it could be as simple (and important) as the family having a happy, healthy mom.

Involve the Kids

One of the biggest hurdles in goal setting for moms is the kids. Sometimes kids react to less mom time, or sometimes there’s no time at all. Sometimes the kids just don’t get why you’d want to do anything that’s not about them. While it’s good for kids to know they aren’t the center of the universe, there are ways to balance out mom goals with kids.

Make them your accountability partners. Kids LOVE reminding adults about what they should (or shouldn’t) be doing. Consider whether your goal can be tracked with a chart or some other method where the kids can jump in and give you a smiley face…or a frowny one! Also, if your goal has anything to do with fitness, see if you can incorporate them into the fun. It won’t always work, but that type of thinking can help you overcome the kid hurdle.

One note: don’t use your kids as an excuse. Yes, it’s our responsibility to care for them, but if we don’t achieve our goals it’s not because of them.

Moms, it’s time to set your dreams into motion by turning them into actionable goals! What is it you want to accomplish? Do you want to get a degree, write a novel, start a business, get healthy? Whatever it is, start planning! We get one shot at this life and we don’t want to make our exit with regrets.

That’s why I wrote LAUNCH! Strategies for Setting Goals and Making Them Happen, an e-course that has:

  • 5 modules
  • 5 video pep talks
  • 30+ pages of tips, strategies, and worksheets

Whether you’ve had a goal that you’ve been struggling for years to achieve, or you’re starting with a brand new goal, this course can help you take charge of your goals and launch into life!

What do you think is unique about goal setting for moms?

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5 Ways to Get Back on Track After the Holidays

The aftermath of a hurricane….that’s the only thing that can describe our house when the holidays are over. Fortunately, over the years I’ve developed a few ways to get back on track after the holidays. After all, I’m a creature of habit and anything out of our routine really messes with me.
 Holidays have a way of messing with our schedules. Here are 5 ways to get back on track after the holidays.
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How to Get Back on Track After the Holidays

As stay-at-home and work-at-home moms, we know the value of routine and how much smoother things go if we stick to one. But the holidays have a way of getting even the most organized among us completely off track. If it’s really bad we might even be a little willy nilly.

The question isn’t why we should get back on track after the holidays, the real question is how. There’s so much chaos around us that we might not know where to start.

1. Evaluate
I know evaluating the holiday sounds weird, but you have to know what worked and what didn’t for your family during the holidays. You probably already do this on a casual level with your spouse or those closest to you. By taking a little more formalized approach, you can save your notes for next year and reduce your holiday stress.

Topics you can discuss include:
  • Parties—which ones to go to and which ones to skip, and whether you should have your own
  • Cards—send more or less
  • Decorations—when to put up/take down, or if you need more or if you need to scale back
  • Family—who did you miss seeing this year that you can’t skip next year
  • Finances—did you overdo it, and do you need to start a holiday account (more on this later)
In general, you want to have written documentation of everything holiday related to help you next year.

2. Clean up
Nothing feels better than getting the house back into shape. Seriously, nothing! As much fun as it is for most people to deck the halls, there comes a time when all the trimmings need to just go away.  Most people wait until after New Year’s Day, but that may depend on work schedules and such. Again, this step might be a good time to take notes.
Cleaning up the aftermath can be a productive time if you try the following:
  • Plan a specific day to put everything away, and make sure all hands are on deck
  • Put things away in an orderly fashion, even though it may be tempting to rush
  • Decide if you really need all those decorations, or if some can be donated
  • Decide if you need more decorations and shop the sales now (or add it into your budget for next fall)
This may also be a good time to do a little extra winter cleaning because it just feels like a fresh start.

3. Examine your finances
You had to know this was coming! As scary as it is, NOW is the time to dig in and evaluate where you are financially. Not only is it a good end-of-year practice, but it’s also good to make notes for next holiday season. Ideally, if you planned your holiday budget ahead, you should be fine!
But sometimes reality bites.
That’s why we need to do the following as soon as possible:
  • Find out how much you owe, specifically for the holiday but grand totals are good too
  • Form a plan to eliminate holiday debt as quickly as you can (definitely before the goods get sold off at a garage sale in June!)
  • Decide how you want to handle the budget next year
It’s a great time to discuss whether or not there was a little too much gifting going on and if you should refocus where your collective attention is for the next holiday. (Are we the only ones who have to do that? Too much experience!)

4. Return to healthy living

Tell me I’m not the only one who slips a little with exercise and good eating habits. Please! Okay, maybe you do a whole lot better than I do in this department, but a vast chunk of society gets out of their routine. Without expounding on this—because really, the fact that we need to get back into a balanced diet and proper exercise is a no-brainer—let’s just say that by the time you read this….it’s time.

I realize that dieting sucks, which is why many experts no longer recommend it. Whether you’re on a specific diet and exercise routine or not, it’s time to donate all the extra food and candy and banana bread and cookies that are still staring at you and daring you not to eat it.

After the Holidays - Dieting Sucks and You Know It: An Inspirational Guide For Losing Weight10 Skinny Girl Recipes To Reset Your Body After The Holidays, Volume 3: Yummy Meals For The Health ConsciousMini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting. Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle Without Suffering. (Volume 2)v tea 14 Day Detox Tea: Teatox Cleanse for Natural Weight Loss. Reduce Bloating. Appetite Suppressant. 100% Organic. Mint Flavor. 14 Pyramid Sachets.

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5. Reestablish your routine
Part of this is what was mentioned in #4—balanced diet and regular exercise. But there are other parts of your family’s routine that may have slipped:
  • Bedtimes
  • Cleaning schedules
  • Outside activities
  • Work hours (for us work-at-home mamas!)
Most of the time I recommend easing into routines, but that’s really only if it’s something new to you. Your old routine is not new, by definition. Jump back in! There’s something about that regularity that just feels good.

And there you have it! All my best ways to get back on track after the holidays. Yes, it takes a little work, as most good things in life generally do, but by getting back on track methodically you can make your life that much easier now—and next year.

 How do you get back on track after the holidays?

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When the Holidays Aren’t Happy

There comes a time in everyone’s life when it’s hard to take the next breath much less imagine what happiness looks like. When you’re going through sadness and grief while everyone around you is celebrating, it’s doubly hard.

Ask me how I know.

 

This is our daughter and son-in-law on their wedding day—a day filled with joy that marked the beginning of their journey as husband and wife, and the day he officially joined our family.

We were all so excited! He actually did things the old-fashioned way and talked to hubby and I before he asked her, then he proposed to her at church in front of the congregation. MAN—it was a day to remember! The wedding day itself was amazing and exhausting and such a blessing. We were excited to have him join our family, even though I’d initially been hesitant because of how young she was at the time and the fact they hadn’t been dating long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When they married, we all knew he was chronically ill but we had no idea how ill. We all lived the big life together: Sunday dinners, Bible studies, traveling to gymnastics meets and soccer tournaments. Birthdays, holidays, random days—we all just liked to hang out.

Even though we were “just the in-laws” we were way more than in-laws. He was my family, my friend. The son I’d never had before. He was my brother in Christ.

There came a day where more of our time together was in the form of taking him to dialysis, visiting in the hospital and traveling to the Mayo clinic. Sometimes they were in the hospital for weeks at a time, both in town and out of town. And when they were home our daughter got pretty good at helping him with his in-home dialysis, giving him meds through his IV and tending to all his daily needs.

Believe it or not, we all bonded during this time of late-night trips to the emergency room and whatnot. This was life and we all did what we had to do. We spent all the time together that we possibly could because that’s what families do.

Two years ago the doctors told him right before Christmas that he only had a few weeks—maybe months—to live.

He died about 48 hours later.

Tomorrow we’ll be commemorating the day he passed away from a rare and incurable condition called catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome. He was 27, and our daughter was a 22 year-old widow.

He had spent so much time suffering: heart issues, end-stage renal failure, seizures, lungs filling with blood, and a deadly fungus. Finally he was at peace and it was our turn to suffer.

I don’t tell you this to ask for sympathy since we’re past that stage now, but only to say if your world is blowing apart and you don’t know how you’re going to make it through the next 10 minutes much less a lifetime…I get it. I know.

I know.

The holidays just make the grief, the struggle, so much more pronounced. The dichotomy between the festive atmosphere and what you’re living through might be bigger than words. But sometimes talking helps—sometimes not. Sometimes gathering your support network helps—sometimes not.

Sometimes there’s nothing anyone can say or do to make it better, and that’s just the sucky truth.

As our daughter and I discussed many times, there is no shortcut through grief. There are no hacks to make it go faster. You walk through grief one day at a time, and when that’s too hard you breathe through the next 5 minutes and the 5 minutes after that. You have to simply do the next thing next.

Our daughter still grieves (obviously) but I can honestly says she’s making a comeback. The first year was the hardest for her as she tried to figure out what life looked like without him. It was awful for everyone. Our daughter is now the most compassionate person I’ve ever met, and she doesn’t use her personal tragedy as an excuse.

There will come a time when you can look back on your tragedy and gain something beautiful. Learn something and pass it on.

Our son-in-law taught me what it looks like to suffer with dignity. What it looks like to appreciate the small things like swallowing and being able to drink milk. What it looks like to continue to love God and love people even when you feel like crap.

Even in his weakness, he was strong.

~~He fought the good fight. He finished the race. He kept the faith.~~

May it also be said of me one day.

 

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A Year in Review

As the end of the year closes in on us, it’s a great time to take stock of your year. It’s more than saying all the great things that happened and taking a minute to be thankful, even though that’s part of it. It’s time to dig in and evaluate your life as it happened and understand how you were impacted.

 

It's a great time to evaluate your life over the last year. Here's how!

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Just as businesses give themselves and their employees and year-end review to see what worked and what didn’t, it’s important to do the same things for our lives.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of taking time to evaluate your life as it happened over the last year:

  • See what worked and what didn’t
  • Examine which areas of our lives need more attention as we seek balance
  • Figure out if our lives are on track for fulfilling our life vision
  • Create an atmosphere of thankfulness

But what does reviewing our year actually look like, and how do we go about it? If you’ve never done one before, it might be tempting to take the following points and questions and think it over for a minute and move on.

Let me just say, if we don’t dig in and actually consider what happened to us over the last year and how we handled it, we’re cheating ourselves and ripping off our opportunity to make adjustments.

You may want to do this alone, but if you’re married it might also be beneficial to grab your spouse to get additional input and insight.

To evaluate your life over the last year, first grab your journal. (<—The Moleskine is my favorite. Don’t have one—why not??? Having a journal is truly indispensable for myriad reasons.) You’ll want to write down your answers as they come to you. Writing them down will help you make important connections that otherwise might be lost if you try to do it all in your head.

Set aside a bit of time and find a quiet space. If you’re a mom of littles, I know this is easier said than done. Truly.

 

Now, give each area of your life a separate space. You can create the following sections or come up with your own:

  • Relationships
  • Finances
  • Home life
  • Business
  • Spiritual

For each area, ask yourself what were your successes? Shortcomings? Trouble spots? Figure out what you’d like to do differently. List everything you learned, and most importantly talk about every single thing you’re thankful for.

It’s so important to celebrate your successes and learn from your failures in a thoughtful way. If you’ve never tried it before, give it a shot! You might find that reviewing your life will have a huge impact on the new year in unexpected ways!

In my e-course Launch—Strategies for Setting Goals and Making Them Happen, I talk about reviewing your goals as part of my strategy. With 5 modules, 5 video pep talks, and over 30 pages of tips and strategies, you’ll learn how to not only set goals but also implementation strategies to see them through!

Do you make it a habit to evaluate your life? How do you go about it?

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Last Minute Christmas Gifts That People Will Love

If you’re reading this, it’s too late to knit a sweater. While you’ve probably made peace with that, you still want to give a gift that shows some thought and that your loved one will enjoy. But instead of panicking and sharpening your elbows so you can hit the mall, sit back and browse through this list of last minute Christmas gifts that people will love!

No sharp elbows required.

Instead of panic shopping at the mall, browse this gift guide for last minute Christmas gifts that people will love!

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If you’ve already read How to Buy a Gift for Someone Who Has Everything and 5 Unique Places to Buy Gifts, then you probably already know my basic method for picking perfect gifts. For now you may need to take a point-and-click approach to buying last-minute Christmas gifts. Believe it or not, there’s still time to be thoughtful!

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

The Alexa Dot is a new favorite in our home! Not only can Alexa tell you what the weather forecast is for the day and the next time your favorite team is going to play, but she tells you a fun fact about the day after you greet her in the morning. She can also tell jokes…seriously silly jokes…and play the music you’ve purchased on Amazon.

(She will also tell you that you’re not being nice if you call her Stupid. Don’t ask me why my kids were being naughty and testing her out.) In any case, Alexa has other capabilities that we haven’t tried so I can’t comment on them, but she is a lot of fun.

This is a great gift for all ages, but may be especially nice for someone who wants to look things up but doesn’t care to be attached to their phone. I love pawning a certain someone off who wants to know the latest sports scores.

 

 

The Instant Pot is a great addition to my kitchen, even though I am not particularly fond of cooking. Actually, that’s probably the reason the Instant Pot is perfect for me! Once you get past the fact this sucker looks like you could conduct a moon landing, it’s fairly simple to use.

You can make rice, steam veggies, use as a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, and get this…make yogurt! (OK, I haven’t done that yet and probably won’t. I’m just not that industrious.)

This is a perfect gift for people who like to cook, and really for those who need to save time in the kitchen but still cook healthy meals.

 

The Fitbit is a great gift both for the athletes in your life as well as the (a-hem) stay-at-home moms who want to make sure to stay healthy! There are several models to choose from—I have the Alta and hubby has the Charge. The basic models are great for keeping track of basics steps, as well as calories burned, flights of stairs climbed, and even sleep patterns.

Then there’s the little bonus that it’s also fun to compete with certain family members for bragging rights—but that’s probably a whole ‘nother post!

 

For the techie in your life, you might consider the Apple Watch, which is so much more than just a watch. It can help your loved one keep track of fitness, browse pictures, set reminders, and check messages. When synced with an iPhone, it can even transfer the data to the health and fitness apps.

This is a great gift for the person who literally has everything else and would enjoy a fun luxury. And yes, it’s a real watch too!

 

Gift baskets are some of the most fun presents you can give! The one featured here is perfect for a family because it includes fruit, sausages, cheese, nuts, crackers, and chocolate. And look at the adorable basket!

A basket like this works well when you’re giving a gift that needs to cover multiple people and you can’t quite swing getting a gift for each member.

 

 

If you like the idea of gift baskets but want to personalize it, it’s very simple to do and won’t take much time….still perfect to give as a last-minute Christmas gift!

Here are some ideas to include in a last minute Christmas gift basket:

1. Movie theater gift cards                       6. Photos of you together

2. Candles                                                    7. Boxes of gourmet tea

3. Perfume/cologne                                   8. Restaurant gift cards

4. Gourmet condiments                            9. Candy/homemade cookies

5. Wine                                                         10. Decorative soaps

Once you choose the items you want to include in the basket, you need to find a cute basket along with the packaging to put it in. You can cover it with shrink wrap and a bow, and VOILA! A beautiful gift for your loved one.


 

Other Last Minute Christmas Gift Suggestions:

Consider a gift that allows you to spend time with your loved one. After all, nothing says love like together time!

  • Tickets to a special event
  • Reservations at a bed and breakfast
  • Romantic getaway

If together time is not a possibility, consider:

  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Pay for a class they’ve been wanting to take
  • Wine-of-the-month club
  • Gym membership

There are plenty of ways to say I LOVE YOU, even with a last minute Christmas gift. No sharp elbows required 😉

What’s the best last minute gift you’ve even given or received?


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Goal Setting Strategies for the New Year

Are you ready to launch into the new year? In the midst of holiday chaos, we still need to take time position ourselves for success, which means it’s time for goal setting strategies!

 

Are you tired of setting goals and not achieving them? It's a great time to get a new strategy that will launch you to success!

**Post may contain affiliate links**

Because I love to take every process in life step-by-step, I do the same thing when I’m setting goals. So here’s a sneak peek into what I do and why I had one of my personal best years in terms of accomplishing what I’ve set out to do.

Goal Setting Strategies

Write down your overall vision

A vision is bigger than a goal—think lifelong dream. Dig deep and consider what you really want and what would deeply disappoint you not to be, have or achieve. Once you have your vision written down, you can move on to goals. After all, goals are easier to set once you know what it really is you’re really pursuing.

Set your goals

While a vision is not always achievable due to factors beyond anyone’s control, we DO have control over our goals. Goals provide the framework that gives vision a fighting chance. Goals must be:

  • specific and measurable. You need to be able to keep track of progress.
  • beyond what you already know you can do. How will you know what you’re capable of if you never push yourself to find out?

Look at where you are now vs. where you want to be. Two people with the same vision might have vastly different goals to get there.

Let’s say there are two moms who both have a vision to reach financial stability by having a six-figure online business. The mom who has this vision but doesn’t know how to use a computer will have vastly different goals than a mom blogger who makes a steady income but is still working toward the six-figure level.

Action steps

Take your goals and break them into bite-sized chunks. These are items that will go on your to-do lists, propelling you toward your target.

If Susie Homemaker’s vision is to live a long and healthy life and her goal is to lose 40 pounds in a year, her action steps might include walking 10,000 steps a day and keeping a food log. A writer whose vision is to hit the bestseller list and whose goal is to write one book a year might have action steps that include writing 1,000 words a day and reducing internet time. (A-hem.)

Measure progress

If you don’t measure your progress, you might think you’re moving forward when in reality you’re treading water. Don’t assume that just because you’re busy all the time that you’re actually making headway on your goals.

There are goal-tracking apps that can help you, or you can go the old-fashioned way like me, keeping a list and checking off boxes. For those of you who’ve never tried it, there’s a lot of satisfaction in checking a box!

Evaluate

There are times when no matter what you do, achieving a goal just isn’t going to happen, or it’s not going to happen in the time frame you specified for yourself. Susie Homemaker’s goal of losing 40 pounds might have to be reconsidered if she discovers she has a thyroid issue, for example.

There’s no shame in modifying your goals based on new information or a change in your life circumstances! Flexibility is a great life skill.

 

The more I think about/write about goals, the more I want to say, which is why I wrote my e-course:

Launch—Strategies for Setting Goals and Making Them Happen

I’m super excited to share my secrets for taking hopes and dreams and turning them into actionable goals that actually get accomplished! I share with you how this year I was able to finish a novel and submit 2 book proposals, start 2 blogs, and launch a freelance business, all while still homeschooling our middle-schoolers and running our home. (Notice I didn’t say anything about a clean home…just keeping it real!)

The focus is on:

  • Aligning your goals with your vision
  • Analyzing past successes/failures
  • Goal setting strategies
  • Implementation strategies that work
  • Much, much more!

Just say no to goals that never seem to happen. It’s time to stop talking about goals and start strategizing. Are you as excited as I am? I sure hope so!

We get one shot at life, so now is as good a time as any to make it happen!

Have you thought about goal setting strategies for the new year?

 

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Best Gifts Kids Can Give

Do your kids want to jump into the holiday action and give their own gifts to others? It can be hard to think of what to have your kids give as gifts, but I’ve compiled a guide for the best gifts kids can give.

 

Kids want to get in on the action too! Here's a guide for gifts KIDS can give to those they love.

*Post contains affiliate links**

Over the years my kids went from being oblivious to the concept of giving, to signing their name to the family gift, to wanting to give their own thing to the people they care about. Even though I loved the fact that they wanted to be givers, it was hard trying to come up with gifts that were meaningful and that they could manage (mostly) on their own.

A lot will depend on how old your kids are, but the following ideas will cover a broad range of ages and stages.

Best Gifts Kids Can Give

Ornaments

What’s more fun than kids and painting? With the 3D Wonder Paint Ornament Set, kids can paint ornaments and give them as gifts. The kit comes with 6 shatterproof ornaments, and while the kit says it’s for ages 6 and older, I’m guessing that well-supervised and dexterous children who are a bit younger can handle it. And if you paint the date on it, it’ll be a great gift to renew offer each year.

The cool thing is, if you have leftover paint, it can be used on glass surfaces and windows.

 

       Bead Pets

Omgoodess….I can’t even tell you how many hours of fun our middle daughter had making Bead Pets to give as gifts. This one takes a bit of dexterity and the ability to read a pattern. Bead Pets are recommended for kids ages 6 and up, but I think a 6 year-old will need quite a bit of help—unless they’re a whiz kid 😉

There are patterns for 10 different pets, and my personal favorite is the penguin. Man, I love penguins!

 

 

Talking Photo Frames

Our oldest gave one similar to this to my grandmother and it was a hit. Actually, that’s an understatement. The Dual Recording Photo Frame Memories You Can Hear is a perfect gift, particularly for grandparents and other elderly relatives who may not be as adept at using the computer in order to see and hear the kids whenever they want.

This frame holds two 4×6 or 3×5 pictures, and records two 10-second messages. New messages can be recorded any time. Personally, this is a favorite!

 

Memories for My Grandchild

While this is not a gift made by a child for a grandparent, this is such a special way to preserve a grandparent’s memories for future generations. If I could have had any one of my grandparents fill this out—OH what a treasure! You can have your child personalize the book on the inside covers, and perhaps insert their picture or a special note.

This book is 96 pages, and includes prompts for grandparents to tell about all aspects of their lives. Seriously, this is a beautiful idea and not to be missed!

 

 

Other Gifts Kids Can Give

In your hunt for gifts kids can give, consider the following:

  • Baked cookies—create a gift basket with the cookies as a focus and top off with pictures or other trinkets.
  • Painted pottery—this is also a favorite at our house. Check for local pottery/craft stores!
  • Homemade soap—my kids LOVE making soap and plan to include their soaps with gifts.
  • Song and dance—you may think I’m kidding, but this is such a hit at our house! While the kids have yet to come up with a Christmas dance, but I always look forward to my annual Mother’s Day song and dance. This gift has the power to become a holiday favorite!

One idea is to take one or more of the gift ideas above and combine them into a gift basket. This works especially well if you have multiple children who could combine their presents. If you have a picture frame, memory book and cookies, then combine them with candles and ornaments….just think what a beautiful basket that would make!


Keep in mind what your kids enjoy doing and what their hobbies are, and play it up! One thing is certain: kids LOVE to participate in gift giving when given the opportunity. Now is a great time to cultivate a generous spirit in our children while having fun at the same time!

What are your favorite gifts kids can give?

 


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