Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dear College Freshman

They always say hindsight is 20/20, and I'd say that sentiment is certainly true about handling your finances in college. Approaching a one size fits all for college finances doesn't quite work because all colleges aren't built the same, and all students and their respective families aren't built the same. However, I think there are still a few key principals that I wish I could go back and tell my Freshman self. Do you have any? 

Dear Freshman,

Congratulations! You have graduated high school, moved away from home, and are enjoying your first semester in college! I know, I know, the freedom is amazing. Social freedom is great, but you are now responsible for your financial freedom too.  Before you get too far ahead of your self, here are a few things that you should keep in mind. 

Learn How to [roughly] Budget

This is a tough thing for grown adults, so don't be scared away too soon. It is not something that comes easy, but once you figure out what is going on, it does. get. easier. The simple way to think about it is this - how much money do you have to spend? Do you have a job, savings, money from your parents, or a scholarship? If you have any or all of that, add it up and try to determine how much you have each month. 
The next step to this is focusing on how many "fixed" expenses you have. These are things like car insurance, cell phone bills, rent, etc. A lot of college students are fortunate to still be on mom and dad's payroll, but a lot are not and are already paying these things on their own. If you fall in the latter of the two categories, add up those expenses. This is money that you will spend every month no matter what. 
Now comes the tricky part. You need to see what the difference is in your "income," be it from work, parents, scholarship, etc., and your fixed expenses. The difference in those two amounts is what you have left for the month to spend on other things like coffee, dinners out, long weekend trips, and other fun activities. 


You know that "extra" money that {hopefully} you have at the end after you pay all of your fixed amounts that we just talked about? Do your very best to save some of that. Even if it's just $20 a week or $50 a month. Every little bit counts, and in the end it all adds up. If you have to pay for your books this is especially important because that is a big expense that usually comes all at once. The good news for books is, you can check out this post, where I talk about a few days you can save on text books. Unfortunately for other big expenses, like car repairs, there aren't always less expensive options. (For Example - Earnest offers a service to help you refinance your student loans and make them more affordable.) So save. that. money. You'll be happy you did, I promise. 

Eat for Free Every Chance you Get

Here's the thing about college, and grad school for that matter - people want you to be a part of their club and join their organizations. People also recognize that free food is a great way to draw a crowd. I cannot count the number of free lunches I had in Law School just for sitting through another lecture that was being held by the career center or another law school group. Go. to. those. lunches. The good thing about college is that you are almost always required to have a meal plan, especially your freshman year. Make sure you take advantage of that because those meals are already paid for. I know, I know, it gets old after a while, but try to be creative. I always knew that if I was disappointed with the dinner selection I could just have a bowl of lucky charms or a chocolate chip waffle. Have that back up plan, but make sure you are using those meals. The more meals you eat on campus the more money you are saving and it will be easier on your wallet when your friends want to go grab some ice cream on Saturday night. 

Re-Evaluate Each Semester 

Keeping the above ideas in mind, it is also important to re-evaluate your expenses every few months. College has that natural split of semesters, or trimesters, and that is the perfect time to look back on your income and spending and see what you did wrong, and what you did right. Are you really reading those magazines that seemed like too good of a deal to pass up? If not, cancel. Have you enjoyed your weekly coffee dates with one of your friends? Great, keep making room for that in your budget. It is easy to make things happen when you plan for them. By looking back each semester you can really see how you're doing, what you need to budget for, what you want to budget for, and what costs you can cut because they just don't matter.

Here's a final tip - keep up with the news, especially the business news. The more you understand not only about your finances, but the country's economy as a whole, the easier it is to keep yourself in check. My favorite way to start the day is by reading the Morning Brew. It is a quick snap shot of how the markets finished, why some shares took a dive, or a jump, and what we can expect in the future. Plus they have an interview question of the day - my favorite part - and it is never too early to prepare for the dozens of interviews you're likely to encounter as you continue on in your college career. I strongly encourage you to check it out!

Enjoy college and have fun! It will be the best four years of your young life!

Legally Southern

ps - if you are having an oh Sh*t, I'm already an adult moment - check out this post about staying financially fit!  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I Didn't Vote for Hillary Clinton and I'm Not Sorry

I am white, I am female, I am educated, and I did not vote for Hillary Clinton. Please stop blaming me for the fact that Donald Trump is President Elect of the United States of America. Or please, go right ahead. Because as an American I am to blame, but so are you, and so are the 120,000,000+ Americans who voted, and if you're really looking to blame someone, take a quick look at the many, many, many millions of Americans who did not vote at all. But here's the thing - this is how elections work. Millions of Americans did exercise their right to vote, and are now being ridiculed for doing so. I am not here to change your opinion of Mr. Trump, I am only hoping to provide a small, sliver of explanation that those who voted for Trump are not actually Trump, those who voted for Trump don't believe everything he said, and those who voted for Trump still love and care about their friends who did not vote the same way. We all disagree from time to time, but that doesn't mean we have to disown each other. We are all still Americans. 

While it may not be ideal to some, especially those who did vote for Hillary, the Presidency is won when a candidate reaches 270 votes of the electoral college, and Trump is there (and then some). There are many who disagree with this, and to those of you who feel that way, I say spend the next four years lobbying to change that. I can't promise you will have a great deal of luck, but at this point in the game, the results are in and Donald Trump is the President Elect. If you believe that the popular vote should have more weight, spend the next four years protesting the system, not protesting the man who won because of the system. Don't hate the player, hate the game. That being said, there are a few more things I need to say and I want to share, not in aggressive defense, but in a way perhaps to make someone understand even to a small degree what the heck happened on Tuesday and why so many people voted the way they did. 

But the Media Said She Was Going to be Number 45

Yes, you're right. And to say the media played a large role in this election would be an understatement. But here's a secret, the media is occasionally wrong. Elections can be tough to predict, even with statistically sound polling. Without making a broad generalization, since that is what I'm hoping this whole post can put to rest, I will say it is pretty apparent the view that most (vocal) non-Trump voters have of those who are or were Trump voters isn't great. It does not surprise me in the least that during the random polls and crowd sourcing that so many people who intended to vote for Trump stayed silent or weren't counted. After all, what did they have to gain? My parents taught me young that you never asked anyone who they voted for, it was a personal question. If you want to share it, that's fine. But no one is requiring you to announce your intentions and I think because of that the statistics were skewed and there was a false sense of security among Hillary's supporters. If we're being honest, I was one of those people. I was not the biggest fan of Mr. Trump, but once he was chosen as the Republican nominee, I decided to give him a chance and pay more attention to what was really going on, my husband was the only one who knew this. I never really considered voting third party, but more often than not, especially somewhere like a debate watch party, I pretended to be a fan of Hillary, or at the least not a fan of Trump. I wasn't interested in the ridicule, I was just interested in having a good time. So yes, the media said Hillary was more or less a sure thing. But what the media didn't realize, is that the negative coverage of Trump that started the day he submitted his name to the hat had a tremendous silencing effect on the voters and those who were considering voting for him. 

Hillary is a Female, Don't You Care About Women's rights?

Yes. I do. As a young female in a profession dominated by (old) men I care a lot about women's rights. I have had more than my fair share of "sweethearts," "darlings," and "young ladies." I get it. But what would it say about me that I voted for Hillary just because she was a female? Isn't that just as bad as voting for someone because they're not? I can still recognize what a great, wonderful, and empowering thing it is to have had her as a major party candidate for president without having to vote for her to prove it. Just because there was a female on the ballot doesn't meant I had to vote for her to appreciate the progress. 

You Voted for Trump so you Must Hate Women and Minorities, and You are Definitely Racist. 

Hold up. This sentiment is the one that has bothered me the most because it is making hateful and hurtful assumptions of the entire character of millions of people based on one choice they made. I am not making light of voting, it is a big decision, and it is an important decision. However, I refuse to believe that because of the choice I made on Tuesday, I deserve these kind of assumed generalizations. It really irks me when people throw around the word "offended" when something happens they don't like or don't agree with. But I am honestly offended that such hateful comments have been made in regards to everyone who voted for Trump, or just didn't vote for Hillary. I am sorry that you think because I don't think just like you that I must think just like him, because that is simply not true. As my husband said to me this morning, as long as we are in a two party system, no one will ever truly believe in everything "their" candidate says or does. I am not trying to fight fire with fire, but just for a minute, think about if this were true, if you agreed with and approved of everything "your" candidate did. Does that mean every one who voted for Hillary Clinton agrees with and would look the other way in the case of marital affairs? I didn't think so. 

What About all of the Hate Being Spewed to Minorities Now? 

I hate to break it to you, but the people who are acting on that kind of hate were bad apples to begin with. Here's the thing about America, the amount of freedom we experience is far beyond what many other countries can comprehend. Neither the president, nor you or I can "make" anyone do or say anything they don't want to do. Sure, there are laws and statutes and regulations that people are required to abide by, and millions of Americans have a role in enforcing those. But this is not a dictatorship, no one truly has the power to make another individual act a certain way or do a certain thing. The unfortunate fact is that these actions existed long before Donald Trump was elected, there is just more light being shed now as a way for the media to win back some of its dignity and keep up with the 24-hour news cycle. 

But Donald Trump Doesn't Have any Experience as a Politician 

You're right. But maybe Hillary has too much. In his accounting practice, my Dad always warned me about "SALY": same as last year. If one person made a mistake in a prior year, and you follow their lead, that same mistake is going to keep repeating itself. Obama ran his first campaign on "change." Now, it's time for another change, a fresh face to politics. Hillary is a strong and independent woman, and maybe having had a husband already as president would have been a good thing, but maybe not. Don't get me wrong, I liked Bill Clinton, I mean he was almost featured in a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie, who wouldn't like the guy? But sometimes we don't want history to repeat itself, sometimes we need someone who is coming in with fresh eyes, who will take every day as a learning experience, and who will have a new outlook on policies and procedures. Trump may not be a career politician, but he has built his career making deals and negotiating with countless individuals, a quality that is immeasurably important as President. We all need to realize change isn't always a bad thing. 

I am not hoping to change your mind about Donald Trump, I am hoping to change your mind and give you a look at one of many young, educated, white females who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton. I am hoping to let you see that just because I'm not "with her," I'm not a bad person. I still care about women, I still care about minorities, and most of all I still care about this country and I made my decision on Tuesday based on all of those things. The decision has been made, and in a few months Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Can we please just agree to be open minded, if not in regards to our President Elect, at least in regards to each other? 

With all of the love and peace I have to offer, thank you for getting this far.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

TGIF, Battle at Bristol!

Battle at Bristol

It is no secret that I am a Kentucky fan true and true. But, I was so immediately attracted to my now husband, that I completely ignored the fact that he was a Tennessee fan, and from Knoxville. I've learned to adapt, and I've learned to wear orange, but I will never put aside my love for the Wildcats. 
Anyways, this weekend is the Battle at Bristol. If you aren't familiar with that, Virginia Tech and Tennessee are going to be playing a football game inside Bristol Motor Speedway. Yes, it is as crazy as it sounds. My in-laws had to reserve tickets THREE years ago. Needless to say, the hype around this game has been going on for years, and the weekend is finally upon us. I'm hoping it will be a lot of fun, but an 8:30 kickoff makes for a long day. 

Kentucky Football 

Speaking of good ol' Kentucky, how about that game last weekend?? How many more days is it until basketball season? I am not a fair weather fan. I will cheer my heart out for Kentucky on all occasions, but that does not mean it is not disappointing to see a team flat out blow a 25 point lead. I don't act like I know enough to try to point blame on whose fault it is or isn't, but for the first time, I do feel pretty confident that it is a coaching problem, not a player problem. Kentucky has one of the best recruiting classes they've had in a long time, and the first half last weekend proved it. Then comes the second half, and it's like they were thrown back out there with no direction. Maybe they were. Here's to hoping for a miracle against the Gators tomorrow! 

Painted Furniture

I mentioned last week we were going to paint our very small foyer - and take off the existing wall paper. Y'all, it was hard work. We are very pleased with the results though! In addition to painting the walls I also decided to paint a small table we had in that area that served as a catch all for mail and keys. It was originally black, and I am just not a lover of dark colors. Honestly, I hate black furniture. I think it can look nice, but in my home I just want things light and bright. So I painted it, and it turned out awesome! I'm not really sure what I expected to happen, but it definitely looks better than I could have imagined. Naturally now I want to paint everything. 

Gilmore Girls

I am SO excited for the Gilmore Girls revival! I have been re-watching the entire series from the beginning, and it is just so good. I tend to re-watch most of the series every fall, and it is even more excited this year knowing that in late November I'll have new episodes to watch! I am definitely team Logan, maybe Jess. Dean drives me crazy, especially in these earlier seasons. What about you? 

Corn Hole Bags Galore

A few weeks ago, a girl on a local Facebook page was looking for someone to make custom corn hole bags. I'm always trying to have a little extra cash, so I thought I'd volunteer. (I definitely undercharged her.) Then I decided to add them to my Etsy shop, just to see what would happen and the orders started pouring in. And by pouring in, I mean four orders in two days. But still, pretty good traction for a new item. So I spent most of Monday getting all of the embroidery on the bags, and Tuesday and Wednesday assembling. I love to craft and make things, but there is only so much that I can make for myself, so it is really fun to be able to still put that to use, but for other people. I'm sure my husband appreciates it too. Is Corn Hole a thing where you live? I think people also call it bags. It is a staple at all tailgates around here, and barbecues, and back yards. Basically any time at least four people are outside hanging out, someone is bound to breakout the Corn Hole boards sooner or later.

What are your plans this weekend?

Have a great weekend, y'all!

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Friday, September 2, 2016

TGIF, Welcome to the Long Weekend!

Can y'all believe it's September?? I have been stocking up on fall decorations for the past couple of weeks and I fully intend on decking out the house over the weekend. It is September after all, that's close enough, right? 

Long Weekend Ahead

I am so excited for this long weekend! It has been a rough week at work, so even though we don't have an real plans for the weekend, it will be the perfect time to relax. And drink coffee all morning. Once again, we are going to take advantage of that extra day to do some house work and paint. But this time the painting first involves wall paper removal. Yikes. Luckily the area is a very small entryway/foyer, so there shouldn't be too much wall paper to remove and hopefully it won't take nearly as long to paint as the bedroom did. Plus, we're pros at this point (kidding, of course!).

Whole30 Update

DAY 21. Well, I've made it three weeks and I only have one more week to go. [I'm only doing 28 days because Battle at Bristol. Don't tell.] I'm honestly not sure what to think about Whole30 at this point. I obviously haven't started the reintroduction, so I can't speak to that benefit yet, but I'm not going to lie, I am not feeling as great as I'd hoped. Especially since I am still hungry/getting cravings a. lot. Don't get me wrong, I have seen some benefit. My energy is every so slightly improved, and I've had a little less of the un-explained 3 p.m. crash, but I still don't feel as good as I would like to. On the bright side, I have lost almost 10 pounds, so there's that. 
Have any of y'all done Whole30 with less than expected results? I have considered stopping a few times, just because I don't know that it is really giving me what I was hoping for, but at this point I'm so close to finishing, I feel like I owe it to myself. And for finishing, I will be rewarding myself with a nice big glass of wine. 

Essie Gel Couture

If you are comfortable with painting your nails, but wish you could get that salon shine that lasts for a week, you seriously need to check out Essie's new Gel Couture. They've been marketing it forever, and a few weeks ago it finally hit the shelves and I bought a beautiful bright red, Rock the Runway, immediately. I had used their gel setter before, but after using about half of the bottle, it got a little clumpy. The Gel Couture is so much better. It is a little more expensive, and you need the color and the gel top coat. But you use the same top coat with all of the colors, so it's not that bad. Plus, I think of it as how much less it is than going to get a manicure. Even just one bottle of nail polish is only half of the price of a manicure, so you are saving a lot of money! This coming from a girl that never gets manicures, so I wouldn't have been spending the money in the first place, but still. If you are looking for a small splurge, look no further!

Plum Paper Planner

After it taking much longer than expected arrive, I finally received and have been using the Plum Paper Planner for about a month now, and so far so good! It is definitely a different layout to get used to, but the list capabilities on on the left-hand side is so convenient and so perfect for what I need. I always feel like I have these never ending to-do lists, and I hated assigning them to a specific day in my Emily Ley Planner because, well, stuff happens and you don't get to it, and then you feel like  you're back tracking. With my new Plum Paper Planner, I can put all of my "to-do" items on one page, in one spot and it's visible for the entire week. I realize the lessened space for the actual days might not work for everyone, but for me, I think I have finally found my perfect planner - at least for now. 

Gift Ideas for My Sister-in-Law

My sister-in-law is turning 23 and I am at a complete loss for what to get her. As of last night, I think we finally decided on a FitBit Alta that she had been eyeing - and that my mother-in-law confirmed she wanted, but Christmas isn't far away. What do y'all do for people that are just impossible to buy for? She is a graduate student, so she is still living in student housing, which makes fun household items a little less practical, and she tends to be pretty picky about anything she wears. Seriously, difficult. Any thoughts, or great go-to gifts?

I hope y'all have a great and relaxing weekend! Let me know what you've got planned!


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Friday, August 26, 2016

TGIF, I Can Almost Smell Fall

I don't know what it is, but this week has been a long one. How has your week been? 

Featured Blogger this week on High Five For Friday

I am so honored to be the featured blogger this week on High Five for Friday, hosted by the lovely ladies at Bright on a Budget, Della Devoted, and Cup of Tea

Etsy Sales Hit 100!

After a little over 6 months with my shop LegallySouthernStyle I have finally hit 100 sales! I know that may not sound like a lot for most people, and I am the first to admit it. BUT, for something I just started out doing for fun and have really come to enjoy it was so exciting to see the number of sales roll into the triple digits! To celebrate, I'm offering 10% off all orders from now through the end of the month (so hurry!), with the code "Legally100" - please let me know if y'all have any questions or are interested in a custom creation! 

Heading Home

This weekend my mom is hosting a wedding shower for the soon-to-be wife of one of my good friends from home, so I am heading back to help her out. I am actually really excited. I haven't been home in a while, and this will be the first shower I've attended in over a year that I wasn't the bride! My husband is also really looking forward to it because my hometown features a car show once a month, and we have never been in town for it. Luckily for him, there's one this weekend so he'll have something to do during the shower! 

Decorating for Fall

I'm not sure if it was the crisp morning we had a few days ago, or the decorations that are starting to take over the stores, but I am so ready to get our house ready for Fall! Soon after we moved in last December, it was a whirlwind of wedding planning, followed by lots of small home improvements (that never seemed to end). I finally got myself together to get our house decorated for spring, but its been that way since mid-April, and I am ready for a change! I just bought this wreath at Lowe's last weekend, and I cannot wait to get it put up. I am trying to maintain a little bit of sanity and at least not get things up until mid-September, but it is really hard! I'm not sure I can pull off the full interior fall decor, mostly because I still feel like our house is a little mis-matched on the overall decor. Welcome to two houses becoming one, and very little starting budget to speak of. I am determined to consult Pinterest and do my best. I am trying to get in order all of the projects I would like to accomplish and check them off one by one, rather than just trying to get things piece meal and hope it works. A girl needs a plan. 
Any other new(ish), or well seasoned home-owners with tips on getting everything in order in a new house? I am open to any and all suggestions at this point! 

Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale

Every year I tell myself I'm not going to partake because I don't really need anything, and I shouldn't spend money. And every year I log on to the site and wait as the 50,000th person in line. This year was no different. A few weeks ago I'd actually purchased a few dresses at a local Lilly store in Knoxville while they had some great sales going, and I fell in love with the Marlowe Boatneck dress even more than before. I love how comfortable this dress is, and in the world of Lilly, it is one of the less expensive options, which is always a plus. So of course I caught a few more of those during the After Party Sale. I am still waiting patiently for that shipping notification so that I can then wait a little less patiently for the mailman to deliver some bright additions to my already colorful wardrobe! Did any of y'all score some great deals during the sale? I will be sharing all of mine when they arrive! 

Have a great weekend, y'all!

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Monday, August 22, 2016

OXO On, the Coffee Maker I Didn't Know I Needed

I want to start off by letting y'all know exactly what kind of coffee drinker I am. As many people as there are who claim to be coffee drinkers, we are not all made the same. 

Monday through Friday, or Weekends Only?: 

BOTH. During the work week I have one cup of coffee while I'm getting ready, and take another 16oz Tervis of coffee with me to work. On weekends I will have one cup with breakfast, and another cup or two through out the morning, usually until there isn't any more left. My husband's coffee drinking habits are similar so it works out pretty well, i.e. I'm not drinking 8 cups of coffee on my own!


I prefer my coffee to be straight from the pot, plus an ice cube or two. That is to say, I don't want it piping hot, but if it is luke warm, it's a little tough for me to drink. Usually adding an ice cube or two from a fresh pot gets it exactly how I like it. 

Cream or Sugar?:

Neither. The first time I had coffee was my Freshman year in college. I used to add 10 packs of sugar. I know. I'm lucky I didn't die of a sugar coma. But in my defense, I'm pretty sure most of that didn't even get dissolved into the coffee anyways, and I was just left with a pile of sugar at the end. I slowly reduced the number of sugar packets, and unless the coffee somewhere is just really bad or burnt, and I really need coffee, I don't add anything to it. I truly like the taste of coffee, and it is a million times easier not having to keep those things stocked or request them at restaurants or friends' houses. But, to each his own. Oddly enough when I spent a semester in Europe, I almost always added a splash of milk to my tea. 


STRONG. I'm not one to complain about weak coffee, but if I have anything to do with it, the coffee will be strong. Luckily my mom feels the same way, so I know I can trust any coffee she makes too! 

Any Coffee Maker Requirements?: 

When I look for a coffee maker, I only have a few specifics that it has to have. 
- Automatic Timer
- At least 8-cups
- Easy pour carafe 
That's it, my needs are pretty minimal, or so I thought until we started looking at coffee makers during the wedding registry process. If you haven't looked lately, there are a lot of coffee makers on the market. A lot. This brings me to - the OXO On 9-Cup Coffee Maker. Last week I received the OXO On from Influenster, my coffee drinking habits are finally paying off! 


I'll be honest, I was a little hesitant about this coffee maker initially because I wasn't aware that Oxo had made its way into kitchen appliances. Their kitchen gadgets and tools have always been top notch, so I'm not sure why I was so unsure, but you just never know. I was very pleasantly surprised to see how easy this coffee maker has been to use, and how freaking good the coffee is. 

What makes this coffee maker so different? The biggest difference I can tell is how it warms the water and subsequently brews the coffee. The water is first heated in the side compartment, and then it showers over the coffee grounds, rather than a simple drip. This gets a more full bodied flavor because it is evenly distributed, rather than concentrated just over the middle of the grounds. Another major difference that this coffee maker offers is the thermal carafe. There isn't a hot plate under the carafe, which avoids the potential for the coffee in the bottom getting over heated or burnt. I have seen a couple of reviews claim they can't get the coffee to stay warm enough, but I haven't noticed any issues, even with coffee poured 45 minutes after brewing. My husband also mentioned that this feature makes him feel a little better leaving the house and not worrying if the coffee maker has been turned off or not because there isn't a heating element that could have been left on. 

The OXO On is also super easy to use. There is literally one button. Just one. It also serves as a knob to turn for different settings and set the time, but seriously, so easy. The backlight display is also very clear and there are icons that indicate whether the coffee is brewing, ready to drink, or set for auto-start. Easy peasy. 

In terms of the amount of coffee it makes, I could stand if it made another few cups, but honestly its probably better for my health that it doesn't! Ha! But seriously, 9 cups is usually plenty, and as I just mentioned it is super easy to use, so it isn't much of an issue to just make another pot if and when you finish one.

As with every product, there are always pros and cons. Here are a few that I've noted so far in using the Oxo On Barista Brain.


  • Thermal Carafe
  • Easy to Use
  • Automatic Timer
  • Indicator Tells You How Long Since Brewing


  • Filling the Water Tank Requires Another Cup
  • Condensation Builds Up in Water Tank 

All in all, I would highly recommend this coffee maker if easy, delicious tasting coffee is the kind of thing you are in to. There are so many different features, that I'm sure I didn't cover them all. If you have any questions or want to know any more specifics, feel free to reach out. If there is one thing I could talk about all day, it's good coffee.

What is something that you consider essential for any coffee maker? Tried and true favorites?

Have a great day, y'all! 

* I received the OXO On complimentary through Influenster, but all opinions are my own.

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The Wednesday Showcase

Friday, August 19, 2016

TGIF, Let's Go!

Alright, I know I have been less than diligent the past few months around here. Summer seems to have just flown by and I'm still recovering from that whirlwind. Last summer was spent studying for and taking the Bar Exam, which was vastly different from this summer, having essentially nothing major going on. I literally can't believe that it is already the middle of August - past the middle of August in fact. How has your summer been?

Hilton Head

We spent last week on vacation in Hilton Head and it was wonderful. After taking so much time off for the wedding n February, I hadn't had much of a break and this was so needed. And for the first time that I can remember, we didn't have a single day that was completely washed out. It started pouring one day when we were already on the beach, but as tends to the case, it passed by quickly and we were able to dry out and enjoy the rest of the day. I was definitely not ready to leave. What are your favorite vacation spots? 

OXO On Coffee Maker

Y'all. I had no idea how much difference the coffee maker could have on the taste of my favorite morning ritual. Through Influenster I was lucky enough to receive the Oxo Barista Brain On 9-Cup Coffee Maker and it is amazing. There is a more detailed review coming (HERE it is!), but just let me tell you, it is worth it. The coffee is strong, and rich, and smooth, and makes me want to drink the coffee all. day. long. 


I am on Day 7 of Whole30 and I am really struggling. Over the last five or 6 months I'd been having a lot of stomach issues and after having more than my fair share of tests, everything has come back normal. Which is great. I am thankful that nothing appears to be wrong. However, it didn't change the fact that I felt sick after almost every meal. Enter, Whole30. One of my good friends did it about two months ago, so she has been my go to on a lot of questions, but I am pretty sure I'm starting to drive her crazy, and I am trying really hard to figure everything out. According to the rough timeline, around days 6 and 7 you feel completely exhausted, and let me tell you, that could not be a truer statement.  I am hoping to get a boost of energy any time now, although I think I still have a few days to go. Have any of y'all completed Whole30? Any tips or tricks? 

Morning Brew

I know I've shared the Skimm here before, and I still read it every morning. But, recently I learned about Morning Brew which is another early morning email that comes straight to you. And I actually look forward to receiving and reading the Morning Brew. It is similar to the Skimm in its short new clips and witty remarks. But the biggest difference - and it is a big one - is that the focus is on the business world and the markets. In my line of work it is very relevant, and I appreciate having such a comprehensive review everyday of what is going on.  Even if you don't think its for you, I would still recommend giving it a shot because whether you realize it or not, it's still relevant to everyone. After Great Britain voted for the Brexit, there was so much information on how and why it was having such an effect on our markets, and kept me from having to read eighteen different articles to find out what was going on. Give it a shot and I can almost promise you won't regret it! Do y'all have any favorite morning news rituals? Sometimes I wish I had hours to read the paper, but when I don't the Skimm and Morning Brew definitely come to the rescue. 

Cleaning House

It has been eight months since we closed on our house and I still feel like there is so much that we need to do. The combination of packing, unpacking, and graciously receiving truckloads of wedding presents did not make for an easy transition. This weekend my goal is to really get the house in shape. Next week we have a few friends staying with us for a conference they have in town, so I really don't have much choice! It may not be everyone's idea of a fun weekend, but the clutter has been hanging over my head for months, so if I can get it tidying up and cleaned out I will feel so much better! Here's to hoping for a productive weekend! 

Have a great weekend y'all! 


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Friday, July 1, 2016

TGIF: Happy 4th of July!

Happy Friday, y'all! I thought this week was never going to end. I think knowing that  a long weekend is ahead makes for a longgggg week. 

Morning Brew 

I recently discovered Morning Brew and I love it! Morning Brew is a dpart of the business world, bur still would like to know what's going on. I think lately it has been a solid read and kept me well informed with the ups and owns of the market because of the Brexit Vote. (If you don't know what the Brexit Vote is, Morning Brew is definitely something you should read!) This quick morning read is definitely easier to follow than the front pages of the Wall Street Journal. Check it out and let me know what you think! 
aily (weekdays only) email that gets to your inbox around 630am and gives you the rundown on all things business going on in the world. Sounds similar to the Skimm, I know. But, the biggest difference is that the concentration is more business/finance geared than just a general news report. As someone who has always been interested in the business world, I think it is a great resource. However, I think it is also great for those not necessarily

Fourth of July

I just love the Fourth of July. Summer is one of my favorite seasons because I LOVE warm weather, and the fireworks, and all of the love for America. Okay. I know, you get it. I am just so excited about this weekend, and not just because it means an extra day off work! Plus, we're heading to the local Minor League Baseball game, which really just tops off the weekend! What plans do you have? 

New Planner 

I've recently been introduced to the term "planner peace," and I hope that one day I can get there. Sometimes I think I just need to design my own planner, until I realize that a. I don't have a lot of time for that and b. I'm still not sure I know what I want. I have really gone through the planners. I've tried Moleskin, Lilly, Emily Ley, and I've just ordered my first Plum Paper Planner. I cannot wait for it to arrive! Now that I'm not in school and work pretty much 8am-6/7pm every day, I don't need a ton of room for hourly events. However, I am still very much a planner and like to have plenty of space for my to-do lists. I am hopeful that the planner I order from Plum Paper will satisfy (almost) everything I am looking for. I will be sure to update y'all when it arrives! I've posted a few photos of my Emily Ley weekly layouts over on Instagram if you want to check those out. Do any of you have a planner that is tried and true? 

Orange is the New Black 

I finished Season Four and I am just so sad. I do not want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't watched it yet, but holy cow. I do not know if I can wait another year for Season Five! 

Painting our Bedroom  

In addition to celebrating this great country we live in, we are also planning to paint our bedroom this weekend. We bough this house about 6 months ago and have s l o w l y been working on updating it to our tastes. The master bedroom has this weird light orangey/pink/peach color on the walls and I had finally had enough of it. It obviously doesn't match any of our stuff and I certainly wasn't interested in trying to match to it. [note - there are also a lot of patches and poor touch ups, so it needed a repainting, of any color] So last weekend we went to Lowes and chose a few paint samples - all shades of grey - put some of the swatches up on the wall, and have looked at them all week trying to decide which one we like the best, and I think we've made a decision. My mom loves to paint and at this point has probably painted every room in our house at least twice, so I feel like I know what I'm doing for the most part. However, I learned as we were choosing samples that my husband has never painted a room, so he was very hesitant to get the process started. We thought if we started with our bedroom and it went well we could tackle some of the other rooms in the house. If not, we'll get a few quotes from the pros. As much as I think I know what I'm doing, I am always open to suggestions if any of y'all have a story or tips to share! 

Have a great weekend y'all! Happy Fourth of July! 


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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

look for the positive in a season of negatives

I am doing my best to repeat these things to myself everyday, and believe in what they say. Sometimes it's the only thing we can do. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bachelorette Recap 06.06.16

Did you catch last night's episode? What were your top moments?

One-on-One with Chase

I'll be honest, it is taking me a while to get the boys straight this season. I don't know if I've just neglected to pay attention when the names are up on the screen, or if its because there are about 6 that all look the same. Chase is one of those for me. I hadn't considered him as a front runner initially because I think I just forgot he existed. Oops. But after watching that sweet one on one date, I would definitely put him in my top 5. I think the guys who get one on one dates earlier in the season always seem to have that connection. Obviously they are getting a chance to have that alone time so much earlier, and I think it's clear that can really make a difference in terms of the connections. Especially when they are doing hot yoga together! What are your thoughts? 


I don't even know what else to say about this. (Except that I am really looking forward to the drama that was previewed to unfold tonight.) I am just blown away by how much he speaks his mind. I agree that no one wants to think someone's actions are fake, but I don't think that gives someone the green light to be rude under the disguise of "honesty." I also can't believe they had to have a security guard at the house?? And did Chris Harrison really not know about that? 

Speaking of Chris Harrison . . . 

When is he going to get his chance to be the Bachelor? I'm sure he gets paid well for what he does, but he always seems so genuine when dealing with the inevitable drama and high emotions. And I don't know about you, but I appreciated his little tease with the boys last night and making them thing they wouldn't get to JoJo at all before the rose ceremony. 

Evan's Stand-Up Act Re: Chad

I don't know which was more uncomfortable. Watching Chad more or less refuse to partake, or watching Evan stand up there and clearly call out Chad for almost his entire monologue. Seriously, what was he thinking? You are accusing a guy of using steroids. If he does in fact use steroids, and you are pointing that out to all of America, he is someone to fear. Heck, even if he doesn't, he obviously works out and has more strength than I could even fathom. Don't mess with him. 

One-on-One with James

I was so glad to see the connection JoJo and James had on their date. He's been one of my favorites from the beginning, but even JoJo said she wasn't sure what kind of chemistry they might have. I thought it was so honest of her to express that, and make it clear that she was looking for a connection early. If I were in her shoes, I think I would feel the same way. There are obviously a lot of guys, and when you are trying to eliminate so many early on you have to define what you are looking for and determine which guy has that. I think it was definitely a positive for James to get one of these early one-on-ones because I'm not sure JoJo would have had the chance to pull that chemistry out of him otherwise. 

Don't forget! - Another two-hour episode is on tonight! Since all of the planned dates aired last night, I can only assume this will be 80% pool party/cocktail party and 20% rose ceremony. What do you think will happen? 

What were your top moments from this week's episode? 

Have a great day, y'all! 

Friday, June 3, 2016

TGIF: thank goodness for 4 day weeks

Y'all. I don't know what has happened to me, but my motivation lately has been sub-par. Maybe its the realization that this is my first working-full-time-summer, or maybe its just that there aren't any big events right now to count down to. Either way, I've gotta get back in gear - so if you can offer any tips, I'm all ears! Here are a few things I've got going on, what have you been into lately? 

The Bachelorette is Back!

Okay, I admit it. I watch the Bachelorette. This was the second week of JoJo's season, and I will say, its been a little boring so far. Is it just me? I was waiting for everything with Chad to blow up last week, but so far JoJo seems to appreciate his honesty, so I'm not sure how long it will take for that to progress. The previews for the rest of the season look juicy as always, I'm just curious to see how long it will take us to get there. Who are your front runners right now? I'm really digging James Taylor, Wells, and Jordan.

Planning My Outfits

I feel like I have been in a rut lately in terms of my wardrobe. Again, I think this is starting to come back to working full time, all the time, and feeling like I never get to wear my "fun clothes" anymore. Nevertheless, I wake up every morning and moan about not knowing what to wear. At least we are finally (fingers crossed) late enough into spring, with temperatures consistently warm enough that I know I can skip the leggings and sweaters, but with a closet full of dresses, that doesn't necessarily make it an easier decision. Every now and then I get the itch to just plan it all out, no questions asked, I write down everything I'm going to wear to work for the next month and I stick to it. I mean, honestly, why not? It if is in my closet, I should want to wear it at least with in the next month or so. If not, it should be in the toss (donate/sell/etc.) pile. 
If this sounds like any of you, I would highly recommend planning out what you want to wear for the next month, give or take a week. It keeps my morning routine a little less stressful, and cuts down on time that I have to spend figuring out what I want to wear. Added bonus: I am not a fan of wearing the same thing withing less than two to three weeks of the previous occasion, and this is almost a sure-fire way to avoid that happening. Because lets be real, no matter how good you think your memory is days and weeks start to run together and you have no idea what you wore last Monday. If you are seriously interested in this and would like some more guidance please feel free to reach out! 

Inflatable Pools

We bought an inflatable pool last weekend. It might have been the best $30 dollars we've spent on something seemingly silly in a while. You can judge away, because I might have, but don't knock it 'til you try it. We used to live in a condo that had a pool, so for the last three summers we spent almost every weekend at the pool hanging out. Well, Memorial Day came around this year and while we were fortunate to have bought a house during the winter, but that house did not come with a pool. My husband's solution was to buy an inflatable pool, and let me tell you. It was not his worst idea. I know, I know, it can be bad for the grass, but we have already taken it down and the grass underneath is still a-okay! 

Blush VoxBox

I've shared a few of the other VoxBoxes I've received on here before, but I think this one might be my favorite. When I got the email to expect it in the mail and saw that it was titled "Blush VoxBox" I was expecting to text out some type of blush. Well, I was 100% wrong. The Blush VoxBox includes 4 products and samples, plus a coupon code for 15% off at a retail store. So far the only product I've had the chance to use are the Simple Face Wipes, and I really liked them.  I am terrible about taking my makeup off at night which is clearly bad for my skin, but also makes scrubbing off mascara the next morning zero fun. These face wipes worked so well to remove everything! The only thing I'm unsure about with the wipes is the lack of fragrance. I think it is a nice idea in theory, and they are designed for sensitive skin, but I personally enjoy at least a minimal scent that makes me feel more clean and refreshed.After I have a chance to use the rest of the products, featured, I will definitely report back! If y'all are interested in becoming an Influenster, you can click here. I joined a little less than a year ago and have received four VoxBoxes, in addition to participating in some VirtualVoxes. It is fun way to try out new products and have the opportunity to give honest reviews!


I am on my second Fix and I'm still not sure how I feel about it overall. I received my first Fix about two months ago and I sent it all back. It just wasn't me. I was a bit concerned with how off it seemed, considering I'd completed my style profile, left notes for the stylist, and created a Pinterest board. I decided to give it another go (and I had a gift card) a month or so later. This time around I ended up keeping two of the pieces and I've worn both already a few times - definitely good choices! I'm still just not sure its for me. I joined a facebook group with a lot of women who subscribe and it has put a lot of things about it in perspective for me. I am admittedly picky in some of the things I just flat out don't like, and at this time in my life, if I felt like I needed a certain piece for an upcoming event, I do have the time to shop for it myself - usually. So maybe I'm not the targeted audience, but that doesn't mean I don't love getting a box of clothes picked for me and delivered every other month. What is your take on this? How many of you subscribe, did it take a while for your stylist to really "get you"? I have another Fix scheduled for the end of this month, but I'm still undecided how I feel about it in the long term.

I hope y'all have had a nice short week after a long weekend. I know I have definitely enjoyed one less work day!

Have a great weekend, y'all! 

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Friday, April 8, 2016

TGIF: Alton Brown is coming to town!

These temperatures are killing me! We're supposed to go to a soccer game tomorrow and the HIGH is only 47. You read that right, FORTY SEVEN. Y'all, that is cold. What's been going on with you this week?

Alton Brown's Tour

About two years ago we saw Alton Brown on his tour when he stopped in Louisville and it was so much fun! When he announced he was doing it again we knew we had to get tickets, and we invited our in-laws to come as well. My husband's mom loves Alton Brown! I am really looking forward to having visors this weekend, and going to see AB. Have you ever watched his show on the Food Network, Cut Throat Kitchen? It. is. hilarious - I highhhly recommend it. It is similar to Chopped, in that it starts with four chefs, and one is eliminated each round. But instead of weird ingredients, the chefs can bid on sabotages to give to each other. Seriously, check it out. It comes on kind of late on Sunday nights, but I promise the entertainment is more than enough to keep you awake and attentive.

Super Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

For whatever reason last week I decided I was in the mood for chocolate chip cookies. I don't have a go-to recipe yet, so I naturally searched Pinterest and came across a recipe that promised soft chocolate chip cookies - which is exactly  how I like mine. So I made these. I'm not sure if they are actually really soft, or if I undercooked mine, but the recipe delivered. Five days later and they are still just as soft as when they came out of the oven. I liked this recipe, but I didn't love it. Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe? I think I'm still on the hunt for one.

Simplified Photo Challenge

If you've been following my Instagram, you may have seen my posts this week marked #SimplifiedPhotoChallenge. This challenge is being hosted by the Simplified Planner and Emily Ley. If you are not familiar with the Simplified Planner, you should check it out. I currently have the Weekly-Academic Version, and I think next year I will definitely be getting the Daily. I just need some more space for what feels like never-ending to-do lists. Anyways, the Simplified Planner created this challenge as a way to encourage you/us/everyone share some photos this month! So far I am 7 for 7! Today's challenge is "Spring Cleaning" which I have been working hard to do all week, so I don't think I'll have a problem marking that one off the list. Head on over to my Instagram and check it out! {@legallysouthernblog}

FitBit Alta

I received the FitBit Alta this week as an early birthday gift and I love it already! It just feels so much nicer than the Flex. It has a screen, as compared to just five dots that light up. Okay, more complex than that, but you get the idea. I will have more on the comparisons next week! Do y'all have a fitness tracker? Which one is your favorite?

Getting Crafty

For my wedding I made a lot  of the decorations we used at the reception, like a. lot. In doing so, I also took it upon my self to monogram and embroider 200 napkins. Yes, 200. I had only had my sewing machine for about 6 months when I decided to take on that project, and in the time that I started until the wedding, that is probably all I used that machine for. Now that the wedding is over, the only things I've monogrammed lately are the cuffs of some of my husband's shirts, and I can finally get back into actually sewing and making things. This week I made two pillow cases - which yes, I realize are not the most difficult things in the world. But it has been so fun to plan that out, buy the fabric, actually do the sewing and end up with something that I  made. Naturally I put them straight on the couch with out a picture, but when I get home this afternoon I'll try to snap one real quick (while the living room is still clean), and put it up on my Instagram (another shameless plug, and reason to follow me). What are some of your favorite things to sew? I seriously want to make like 100 pillow cases, but I know that is 100% unnecessary, so I need some new things to add to my list!

I hope y'all have a Great Weekend! Thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ten New(ish) Places to Try in Louisville

Y'all, I swear a new restaurant opens up once a week around here and I want to go to them all. We try to be good about not eating out all the time, but then it seems like when we do go out, we want to go to our favorite place instead of trying something new. But I am determined, I have heard so many great things about these places that they are definitely next on my list! (Not all of them are new - but some have been on my list for a longggg time) Do I have any locals that have tested these places out? Are they worth the hype?

Joella's Hot Chicken
Would y'all believe I have never had Hot Chicken?

My friends rave about their brunch!

Butchertown Grocery
I have been here for drinks and it was so cool inside. And we actually are planning to go this weekend with the in-laws, but for now it is still on the list of places I'm yet to try out!

610 Magnolia
One of Edward Lee's restaurants that I am sure is worth the hype.

A wonderful Italian place downtown that I am yet to try because my husband does not have the same love of all things bread and pasta as I do. Maybe some day.

Scarlet's Bakery
I mean, it's a bakery, what other reason do I need to have?

Jack Fry's
If you didn't know better, you'd think from the outside this place was a shut down hole in the wall, but its food makes the top of the list every year.

Doc's Cantinia
This place is brand new, owned by the same group as Doc Crow's downtown. If it's half as good as Doc Crow's, it will be a few favorite.

Steel City Pops
I have never loved popsicles as much as I love ice cream. But then again, there aren't many frozen desserts that I won't eat.

Pat's Steakhouse
I used to pass this place everyday on the way home from work, but I still haven't had the chance to stop in.

Have I left anything off? What are some of your favorite places around the city?

Have a great day, y'all! 

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Friday, April 1, 2016

TGIF, April Fools!

Thank goodness the fact that it's Friday is not an April Fool's joke! Am I right?? How do y'all feel about April Fools? I don't hate it because it means it's almost my birthday, but then again, I do not really love practical jokes. However, I very much love watching them played on other people. Have y'all ever seen the ways that Ellen scares the guests on her show? I am probably a terrible person, but I think it is hilarious!

Lazy Weekend Ahead

My mom has been up to visit us/her mom for the last two weekends, but is taking a break this weekend. I love having her here, but I also feel like we have to be busy all the time, you know? We still have plenty that we'll be doing this weekend - mostly house and law related, and I have a few Etsy orders to fill - but at least we can do it on whatever schedule suits us without feeling like total bums for watching TV until noon. Not to mention my in-laws are coming next weekend, and then Derby activities are in full swing (!), so this is probably the last weekend that we have a good excuse to just hang out.

Easter Brunch

Last weekend we had lunch with my ant and uncle who also live in town, plus all of my aunt's family and it was so fun! She has a lot of brothers and sisters, so there are now a lot of small children, and it. was. loud. Five children under the age of 5 kind of loud, but so fun. Our assignment was deviled eggs, and of course I didn't just want to take any old deviled eggs, so I found the best recipe for deviled eggs topped with pimento cheese and they were a hit! If you are ever looking for a way to dress those eggs up just a little more, put about a teaspoon of pimento cheese and a little smoked paprika and people will think you have hung the moon. Seriously, try it. I'm not sure we'll ever make regular deviled eggs again.

Being an Adult is Tough

I'm not sure I ever shared this story here, but a few months ago my car was shot at while I was driving. Thank goodness the bullet missed me - it hit right in front of the driver's side mirror. When I made the initial report they didn't think they were going to be able to catch the person that did it because I didn't really see anything, and at the time I admittedly assumed it was just a really loud/hard rock when it hit. I know that sounds so ridiculous, but I mean seriously, who thinks that they just got hit by a bullet?? Anyways, two months later, they do have a guy that they are pretty sure did it because he was picked up the same night for reports of the same thing. Last week I (my husband) finally took my car to the body shop to have the bullets extracted and an estimate done on the repairs. Good news (maybe?) is that they found fragments of the bullet so they can hopefully connect this guy to the others incidents. Bad news is that it is very expensive to get a bullet hole fixed in your car. Who knew? Apparently the paint on my car is very difficult to match, so they have to take the whole side apart, even though it only hit one panel. The whole thing is just bizarre, but I guess I'll always have an interesting random fact about myself to tell now. Jury is still out on what I'm going to do. On one hand, I hate seeing it every day, but on the other, its a lot of money for a relatively small cosmetic fix.

Mexican Food Can Do No Wrong

On a lighter note, we have already planned to go out to dinner tonight and are having Mexican food and I am so excited. I cannot think of any instance that I would turn down a good Mexican dinner, or lunch. Someone sent me a recipe yesterday for at home and healthy enchiladas, and it looked delicious and I fully intend to try it, maybe even tomorrow. I'm serious y'all, I have no limits. Please tell me I'm not alone!

Derby Season is Upon Us

For a lot of people Spring time seems to really start after Easter, or you know, actually on the first day of Spring. But in Kentucky it seems like Spring is really here when Keeneland Spring Meet opens, and the Derby festivities are upon us. Because of some weird calendar days this year, Keeneland is opening a little later, next weekend, but I am sure we will spend at least one weekend up there, and then of course Churchill for the Derby and summer meets. One of my favorite parts about going to the track is finally having an excuse to wear all of my dresses that are just a tad too much for the office. I. Can't. Wait.

Bonus: Get Skimm'd

It's been a while since I mentioned the Skimm, but let me tell y'all it is still just as good, and possibly better. Not familiar with the Skimm? You should be! The Skimm is a daily email that comes to my inbox around 6:15 in the morning. It has been written by a team that has read pages and pages and piles and piles about what is going on in the world and breaks it down into something you can read in five to ten minutes It is a great and succinct way to keep up with the news of the world, while still having plenty of time to keep up with your own life. Perfect for anyone who has a commute, moms who just don't have the time to read an entire newspaper, and for everyone else that wants to be informed. It has helped me with many trivia answers too :) It has also been a life saver this election season with one million debates and one million candidates. I don't know how anyone can keep up with that. Seriously, just check it out. Sign up. If you hate it, its easy to cancel. I will also say, unlike many "once a day" emails, it truly is once. a. day. and no weekends.
Disclaimer: I do not get paid for this, but I do receive some cool swag depending on the number of people who sign up through my link. So I'd like to think of this as a not so desperate plea for y'all to help me out!

How has your week been? I am so jealous of everyone going on Spring Break this week, so if that's you - enjoy!!

Have a great weekend, y'all!!

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Friday, March 25, 2016

TGIF: Hoppy Easter!

I thought this day would never come. This has been one of the. longest. weeks. ever. I don't know about you, but I am more than ready for the weekend!


I cannot believe it is already time for Easter! I feel like this year has just flown by! My aunt and uncle invited us over to their house for Easter and I am really looking forward to that. We have been assigned deviled eggs and  I just found the most delicious recipe for pimento cheese topped deviled eggs so I am really looking forward to that! :) What Easter traditions do y'all have?

Spring Cleaning

We moved into our house about three months ago and I feel like we have been unpacking ever since. Granted, it is due in large part to the fact that we have fortunately been receving wedding gifts for about half of that time, so as soon as we think its all squared away, something new arrives. Last weekend my mom came up and she was SO helpful in having us get eveyrhting unpacked and put away. Plus, she works at the local public school at home and was able to take a lot of things we had duplicates of, and were going to donate, back there to give to families that need them, which made it much easier to get rid of things. I'm hoping this weekend, now that all of the wedding gifts have been unpacked and put away, I can get back to getting the rest of the house in order - i.e. the piles of clothes that are still in our guest bedroom. I know we will need to make some major purges to make it all work, and I am actually kind of looking forward to that. However, it is not something that I've always been good at. One of my best/worst traits is finding a reason to keep everything. If y'all have any hard and fast rules that work for you, or other good tips please send them my way. My closet, and my mother, will thank you!

Financial Fitness

Just like there is no wrong time to start a new diet or work out routine, there is no wrong time to start getting your finances in order. In fact, as we approach Tax Day, this is probably one of the the best times to get your finances in order. If anything, just to impress your accountant :) But seriously, being financially fit is just as important as keeping your health in check. Earlier this week I wrote a post about just that. How to assess your finances and how to determine where you stand and what kind of changes you might need to make. As someone with an accounting background I really enjoyed covering the basics - because that's exactly what it was - the basics. But like anything, that's where you have to start. Let me know what y'all think, or if there is a more specific topic you'd like covered in the future!
Financial Fitness

Wedding Photos

We have received about a dozen wedding photo teasers at this point, along with our wedding video (!) and I am dying to see more! I love to scrapbook and do project life, but part of me also just wants a regular old album so that I can keep, look at, and share as many photos as possible. I'm also considering the option of doing both - but that might be a little over the top. What have some of you done with your wedding photos?

FitBit Alta

I've been eyeing this baby since the first email FitBit sent about it a few months ago. (FYI - FitBit: Your Ad Campaign worked on this girl). I love the pink band option that you can choose, I just don't love the $60 price tag just for the band. I currently have the Flex and I've been debating whether I wanted to upgrade to this one, and if it really is an upgrade because it still doesn't measure heart rate, and as far as I can fell it doesn't measure flights of stairs either. But, it does tell you if you are getting a call or text, and it tries to keep you active by reminding you each hour to make sure you've taken at least 250 steps. So the jury is still out, but now that it's available I've had the chance to read real reviews on Amazon and I think it might just be my next purchase - or birthday gift request :) Have y'all seen it in person? Do you have one? I am dying to know all about it! The ads make it look really pretty, but in terms of all the specs and display options I can't seem to narrow down exactly what it does or doesn't do!

Happy Friday, y'all! Have a Great Weekend!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tips to Becoming Financially "Fit"

Everyone seems to be striving to be fit lately. Following the latest diets and exercise trends. But what about your financial fitness? How's that coming along?
Just like being physically fit takes a lot of continuous work, becoming (and staying) financially fit is a lifelong process. Fortunately - they both get easier with time. Today I wanted to share with y'all some of the key factors I consider to being financially fit, and some ways to help get you on your way there. Regardless where you may be on your journey to being financially fit, these tips will help keep your in your best shape!

Know. Your. Finances.

I know, this post is supposed to teach you how. But what I mean is, first you've got to know what you've got. Sit down and write out your fixed monthly income and your fixed monthly expenses. If you are married or have combined finances include all income and expenses.

For the purposes of these calculations, fixed monthly income is what you get on each paycheck after taxes. Your fixed monthly expenses are the expenses that you need or are already obligated to each month. These include things like hours payments (mortgage/rent), student loans, car loans/leases, electricity, water, cable, internet, gym, etc. While some of these expenses may not be considered "needed," it may be more expensive to get out of a contract than to keep paying it, so if you have any of those, assume for now they are fixed and not going any where.

At this point you should take your total income and subtract your fixed expenses.This is your discretionary income to spend how you choose. Of course there are still necessities that you need to consider that were not included. But - those amounts are not fixed, so you have room to budget and decide how much money to spend on any given item.

Set a Realistic Budget (and follow it)

Now quickly jot down all of the other items that you generally spend money on each month. Clothes, food, concerts, gifts, makeup, coffee dates, etc.

After you've written these items down, consider a few things and try to estimate how much you are already spending on these items each month. It is important for you to be honest and realistic. You, and perhaps a spouse, are the only one looking at this list, so there is no reason to fudge the numbers. Being realistic about what you have and what you can spend is KEY.
Add up everything on that list and subtract it from the amount you calculated above as your "Remaining Discretionary Income."

If you are left with a positive amount - great! This means that you are not spending more than you're bringing in. On the other hand, if you are left with a negative amount - that is your expenses are more than your discretionary income - you need to start considering where you can reduce your spending on certain things.
Depending on the deficit you see when you do this calculation, you may just need to make a few minor changes, or it may require some other major lifestyle changes. Below are some of the best recommendations I have to making changes in your spending. Alone they can each make a little difference, and together implementing any or all of  these options can really make an impact.

Track Your Spending

At this point there are dozens of different apps, programs, and plans you can use to track your spending. My personal favorite is Mint. In my experience Mint is very user friendly and is accessible almost anywhere. Mint allows you to connect (almost) all of your bank accounts and credit cards and will categorize your spending. Most of the time the program can identify what kind of transaction it was - health, gym, grocery, etc., but even if it can't - you can manually tell it what kind of transaction it was, and it will "know" that for future transactions at that location. When I first started using Mint I was shocked at how much I was spending on going out to eat, or getting coffee. Ten dollars might not seem like much for a lunch out, but if you do that a few times a week, every week, it can really add up. Tracking your spending is a great place to start because it also helps you see where you can cut costs, and you can see the actual dollar amount that you are spending on any given category.

Careful Use of Credit Cards

Full disclosure - I do have a "regular" credit card through my bank, along with two or three store specific credit cards. I have always used credit cards for rewards, and generally pay off anything I charge to the card with in a couple of days. I can honestly say I have never used a credit card when I did not have the money already in my bank account.  I know that I am probably in the minority, so for the rest of you, I urge you to use caution when you decide to open a credit card and do your research on websites like Credit Card Insider. After reading countless stories, and seeing first hand with clients (both as an accountant and attorney), credit card debt is a slippery slope and it is hard to dig yourself out. I do understand that there are scenarios when you will use credit cards, without having the money in your bank account, and it is necessary. However, the spending usually doesn't stop there. Once you've used that card and see how easy it is to buy something, knowing you don't have the money, the trend continues until you've racked up a bill that you'll have to pay off over 6 months with sky-high interest. I realize that sounds like worst case scenario, but it is becoming all too common, and is actually far from worst-case. My best advice to you would be that if you don't trust yourself with a credit card, don't open one. And if you already have one, but feel like your spending is out of control, cut it up right now because it will only get worse. It will be a long time before I can really say I'm debt free thanks to student loans and a mortgage, but at least I know that I'm not also having to factor in credit card payments from irresponsible spending for things I didn't really need in the first place.

A Diet for Your Bank Account - Spending Freeze

There is nothing I love more than a good day of shopping. But a few too many shopping trips, and I immediately regret spending so much money. One of the ways I like to combat this habit, and in a sense make up for a few months or two of over spending, is to set myself up for a Spending Freeze (I totally made this term up). In the past I have either set the amount of time at exactly one month, or until a certain event was occurring, but still no less than one month.
During my Spending Freeze, I didn't allow myself to shop for clothes or any other items that I didn't need. For me, this primarily meant clothes and makeup, my two weaknesses. At the end of the Spending Freeze if there was something that I still really wanted, I let myself buy it, but this usually ended up being one item of dozens that I had considered over that time. Making myself wait for it really helped me to to think about whether it was something I actually wanted, or just something I wanted in the moment. I think at the beginning of taking that big leap into budgeting, a Spending Freeze is a great jump start to help you realize what you really can live without.

Setting Your Budget

One last piece of advice I have for you - finances are a very personal thing. I don't just mean in a privacy sense, but also in how your lifestyle varies from someone else's, and what you choose to spend money on - or not - will not be the same as everyone. Searching Pinterest for "Budgets" can be very helpful, but it is also important to tailor a budget to your lifestyle. For instance, a lot of the budgets I've looked at include child care, or pet expenses, neither of which I have. On the other hand, most don't include student loans, which happen to take more than 20% of my income every month. It helped me to look at a few different ones and then create one just for me. If that is something you need help with, feel free to reach out. The accounting major in my loves nothing more than a good budget.

Alright, y'all, that's it! Easy, right? Of course not! Taking control of your finances can be a major task, especially depending on where you are in life, and the choices you've been making up until this point. The important thing to remember is that it's never too late, and there's never a bad time to start on this path. And seriously, every little bit helps. I hope y'all have learned a little bit - I'd love to hear some tips or tricks you have to staying financially fit! And as always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out!

Have a great day, y'all!