This month I am turning 35. In celebration of my birthday I am sharing 35 lessons I have learned on this journey.
Embrace Your Health
- Workout in the morning. You will be half asleep anyways and later in the afternoon when you think “I should really workout today” you can pat yourself on the back because you already did it!
- Use coconut oil. For everything you can think of and more. I use it to cook and for face/body lotion and eye makeup remover. I have heard it is a great tooth whitener – I will be trying that soon.
- Learn how to cook simple healthy meals. When you eat out you never really know what’s in the food. It could look healthy but be loaded with salt or sugar. Be thoughtful of what you put in your body, we only have one!
- Grow something. Start a garden or grow some basil in a pot, just grow something. We need green in our lives and gardening feeds our stomach and our soul.
- Milk doesn’t do a body good. Unless you are under 2 and it comes from your mom. We weren’t meant to drink another animal’s milk. Stick to almond milk or cashew milk if you want to drink milk.
- Eat vegetarian. We are vegetarian a family. You can eat healthy, interesting meals without the guilt of contributing to animal abuse, pollution of the earth and without abusing your own body eating meat. We have not gone vegan yet mainly because of pizza….
- Stay away from sugar. It’s just horrible for you and it is hidden in so many foods. Ideally, cut out all unnatural sugar (fruits have natural sugar), but at the very least don’t eat anything that has more than 5 g of sugar in it. Get in the habit of reading labels before you purchase your food. My mind was blown when I started doing this. Items that I thought were healthy were loaded with various types of sugar!
- Sleep. Sleep is amazing and necessary, get enough of it. If you don’t, you will just end up feeling dreadful all day.
Get Your Finances in Order
- Track your spending. This is the first step into a debt free lifestyle. You need to know where your money leaks are and the only way to find out is to start writing down everything you spend money on.
- Establish a budget. I know I know, budgets are boring. But they don’t have to be! Yes, you need to assign a “job” for each of your dollars, but some of these jobs can be fun jobs – like saving for an international vacation. Establishing a budget will help you control your money leaks so you can use your money smartly.
- Mind the gap. Spend less than you earn, push to earn more, spend less even less and strive to grow the gap between what you spend and what you earn. This will give you more money to save, invest and give.
- Use credit cards responsibly. I use my credit card for everything and I pay my bill in full every month. I do this for two reasons. I earn points with purchases that exchanges into money, my card exchanges points for money into my ROTH IRA (retirement fund). 2. I use credit in case of fraud. Since its credit they aren’t actually stealing my money, like if I was using my debit card. If I was using my debit card, they could drain my account of my money and leave me with a $0 balance or overdrawn; I would have to work with my bank to get my money back which may take a few weeks. The credit card isn’t really money yet and my credit card company is very diligent and catch the fraud quickly, usually as it is happening! This always amazes me. I do review my bill prior to paying and have never seen the fraud make it to that stage. The only inconvenience is that they have to cancel my card and send me a new one.
- Have an emergency fund. Maintain an emergency fund equal to 3 to 6 months of living expenses. Only use this money in a true emergency, such as a job loss or an injury where you cannot work. Unfortunately, a new car or a vacation is not an emergency. While you are paying off your debt this should only be $1000, built it up to the full amount after you pay off your debt (except for your house).
- Talk about money with your spouse. It can be hard to do but it is necessary. Find out what your assumptions are about money. How you were raised and your experiences as a child directly effects how you view and use money. Get all of this out in the open so you can plan your future!
- Get rid of all debt (except for house). Eventually you should get rid of your house debt too but that is a longer term goal, so for now, get rid of all other debt. And, this is important, don’t take on any new debt!
- Buy a house. Hands down best investment I have made thus far. Of course you need to save your down payment, shop for a low interest rate on a stable 15 year (ideal) or 30 year loan and try to time your purchase so you are not buying at the height of the market.
- Always having a car loan is not normal or okay. People will try to tell you it is, ignore them.
- Save for retirement. Start as soon as you can. If you are reading this and have not started, START NOW. I’m serious, even if it is just $50 a month. Get into the habit, it will come easier with time and eventually you will have more money to contribute.
- Establish savings goals. What do you want to do? Do you want to travel? Adopt a child? Buy rental property? Establish saving goals that align with your dreams.
- Plan and cook your meals. Eating out, even if it is just breakfast which is arguable the cheapest meal, can get expensive. Be kind to your wallet and start cooking and bring your lunch to work. Saving money on food means you have more money to spend on your dreams!
Enjoy Your Home
- Keep your home clean and organized. It just nicer that way.
- Hang curtains high. It completely transforms the room.
- Minimize your stuff. Go through your stuff and get rid of items you have not used in a certain amount of time, you decide the time frame. We all have wayyyy too much stuff. As a side note, I just don’t understand the need for personal storage units for long term use.
- Have indoor plants. Indoor plants help clean our indoor air and brighten our moods.
- Compost. It’s super easy, it helps keep waste out of our landfills and you can use it in your garden.
- Plant fruit trees. The land you have, no matter how small, should be used to produce food. In my experience, fresh homegrown food is much tastier than items in the grocery store.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. Remember this mantra? Keep doing it. We need to use less products and packaging, reuse and repurpose items we have and recycle the rest. Our trash goes to landfills, which in addition to being terrible for the environment are getting full. Have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch??
Growing Your Relationships
- Say hi to people. In the elevator, on your run, at the store, etc. It’s polite and social. You never know what someone else is going through, as a society we need to look out for each other.
- No television in the bedroom. The bedroom is your sanctuary, away from blaring noise and advertisements. The bed should only be used for two things, you can figure that one out on your own.
- Love. Love your spouse, love your family, love your friends, love your neighbors, love strangers, most importantly love your enemies. Just love.
- Grow your faith. Your relationship with God needs tending just like every other relationship. Take time out of each day to spend time with God. I like to take time in the morning, when the house is quiet and my mind is still.
- Find a way to give back. We are incredibly lucky to have been born when and where we were. We have running water, internet, cars, A.C., etc. Try not to get caught up in wanting more, more, more. We already have so much. Find a way to give back to your community with your time, talents or money if you are able.
- Make time for yourself. It can be easy to be swept up in activity and the pressure to constantly be doing something. Take some time out of every day for yourself, use this time to read, rest, think, dream, etc.
- Keep learning. Keep learning and challenging your thoughts, positions and ideas. You can continue learning through traditional classes, reading books or blogs, listening to podcasts, reading the news (with a grain of salt), etc. There are many ways to learn, just keep doing it!
- Do something out of your comfort zone. It is important to keep pushing yourself to change and grow. When we were in school we did this all the time, but in our adult lives we can get settled in and just go with the flow. Once you take time for yourself to dream, take action on that dream! What is step one? Do it!