Sunday, February 12, 2012

The World's Least Extreme Couponer

"Do you have any coupons today?"
When most people hear this question, they take out their coupons, save some money, and call it a day.  Me?  No way.  I suck at couponing.  I know you probably didn't think that was possible, but you just need to come grocery shopping with me to find out the sad truth.
When someone asks me if I have coupons, you'll hear one of the following responses:
  • "@#*(!*!" 
    Translation: I actually remembered to cut coupons, but they are currently sitting on my kitchen table, which clearly does me no good while checking out at the grocery store.
  • "Yeah, I do... oh wait, what's today's date? Never mind."
    Translation: I finally remembered to use the coupon that's been floating around at the bottom of my purse, but it's now expired.
  • "Uhhh...."
    Translation: Oh shoot, I forgot to buy a paper on Sunday, didn't I?
I don't know what it is, but something about me and coupons just doesn't jive.  Since one of our goals in 2012 is to focus on our finances, I think it's finally time that I tackle my inability to use coupons.

So, to help myself (and any of you other coupon-challenged housewives out there!) get started, I did a little bit of research and found some really helpful resources.

Rosetta Pink Coupon Cubby from

First up - I need to get organized.  There's no way I'm carrying around a giant binder of coupons when I can't even remember to clip them in the first place.  I need something like this "coupon cubby" - it's cute, small enough to keep in my car, and will help me stay organized.  If I get one, I'm going to try to clean it out every Sunday, so if I have any expired coupons I won't keep carrying them around with me.
Next, I need to remember to clip coupons.  I'm going to get a subscription to the Sunday paper so that I don't have to remember to go to the store and buy one - that's half the battle right there.  I know there are a lot of coupons on-line, but I never know where to start looking, so here's a list of some of the great sites I came across.
  • - This site is great!  You just sign-up, look for a local grocery store, and then "clip" coupons by clickingon them, and they are added directly to your frequent shopping card!  It eliminates having to cut them out, organize them, and remember to hand them to the cashier at the end of your shopping trip. 
  • Coupon Mom - I found this site hard to use at first, but once you get used to it there are a lot of great coupons and couponing tips on it. You have to sign up, but it is free.  You can then find printable coupons, and she provides lists for couponing at certain stores.  There are also a lot of tips for beginning couponers!
  • Deal Seeking Mom - This site has a list of links to websites and companies that offer printable coupons, and other sites that offer ecoupons.  I've found that it's much easier to bookmark this one page then having to bookmark fifteen separate ones!
Finally, I need to remember to USE the coupons that I have.  A big way to ensure that is actually shopping with a list, which is something I'm so bad at doing.  However, that's a story for a different post - Brian and I need to start planning out our weekly menus ahead of time, so that I can cut down on the number of trips to the grocery store and start using coupons!
Although I don't think I'll ever be an extreme couponer or have a stockpile offood in my basement, but it would be nice to save a few bucks here and there.  I'd love to hear from you - what other coupon strategies do you use?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Eating Healthy vs Dieting

Brian and I have recently been making an effort to eat healthier.  Although we have been motivated by our wedding, that wasn't the only reason that we've been changing our habits.  Every day it seems like some new study comes out that brings to light a direct link between a disease and unhealthy eating.  I think that the choices we make now are an investment in our future - and we control whether or not we make a good investment, or a bad investment.

With that being said, I would never say that I am on a diet.  Sara over at Running In Pink recently wrote a great post asking readers to think about what they consider to be "healthy". Brian and I are trying to change our habits for the long-term, and more for the health benefits than anything else.  When I think of being healthy, I think of overall wellness - and thinking through the foods I choose because of the benefits that they bring my body and mind.  When I think of a diet, I think of something short-term, a quick fix. I know so many people who have tried one diet or another only to fail, and to finally succeed when they decided to commit to taking small steps towards being healthy.  But, I also know that sometimes sticking to a set diet is the only thing that keeps people focused and committed, so to each their own.

That brings me to another topic - judging people for their food choices. For example, I know someone who will always make a comment when I order a salad at a restaurant.  I know that no matter what I say, this person will assume that I'm dieting in order to lose weight for my wedding.  I shouldn't have to defend my choices and justify why I am making a healthy choice.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, I know someone who always comments on unhealthy choices.  Again, I shouldn't have to justify the fact that sometimes a girl just needs a brownie! 

Eating healthy is a really hard choice to make - trust me.  We live in a world that values quick fixes and fast food, so doing the opposite of that is always a struggle.  The next time someone tells you that they are trying to eat healthier, or orders a salad at lunch, try not to judge them.  Maybe they are on a "diet" - and maybe that's what it will take for them to finally start on the path to getting healthy.  Maybe they aren't on a diet, and they are just trying to make the right choices.  Support your friends, and maybe you'll find that you can learn something from one another.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Let's Talk About.... Money

One of my favorite blogs, Newlyweds on a Budget, recently posted and asked "How do you talk about money with your husband?"  I think this a really interesting topic, and Brian and I always talk about how funny it is that all the couples we know handle their finances so differently.

Brian and I chose to merge our bank accounts shortly after we bought our house.  We knew that we'd be getting engaged shortly, and just found it easier to approach everything with a joint approach.  Both of our paychecks go into a shared checking account and a shared savings account.  On the other hand, we know couples that have a shared account that they put money into to cover household expenses, and then maintain their own individual accounts for any other spending.  We also know couples that have totally separate accounts, and split their bills down the middle.

There's nothing wrong with any of these methods - to each his own!  Brian and I have always been very open about money, and talk about it frequently.  I'm the biggest dork, and happen to love numbers and spreadsheets, so I take care of paying all of the bills and tracking all of our financial planning.  Just because I pay the bills though, doesn't mean that Brian doesn't know what's going on.

Here are a couple of ground rules that we use to keep communication open when we talk about money. 
  • Have a weekly check-up.  Every Sunday when I sit down to pay bills, Brian and I have a quick talk about where we're at in regards to our budgets for the month.  I update him on what bills have been paid, and we talk about any upcoming financial changes we might have.
  • Talk about major purchases.  Set up a limit, and stick to it.  If one of us is going to buy something that's outside of our normal spending habits (for example, concert tickets) we discuss it first to make sure that the other person is aware of the purchase.
  • Be fair.  If you always spend $120 a month on your nails and hair, don't freak out if your partner tells you he wants to spend $50 on a ticket to a baseball game.
  • Avoid resentment.  It's easy for the person that makes the most money in the relationship to resent the other person for their spending habits.  Keep communicating about finances and this can be avoided.
How do you stay on the same page as your significant other when it comes to finance?

The Truth About Weddings

We have about two and a half months to go until our wedding, which means that we've been engaged for almost 16 months.  I wish I could go back and count up all the hours that we've spent planning, talking about the wedding, meeting with vendors, and sending e-mails to arrange all of the little details.  I'm not sure what the total would be, but I can tell you that it has consumed hours and hours of our time. 

Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I'm so excited with how everything is turning out for our wedding, and I can't wait to see it all come together on the day of.  I'm excited to spend time with our family and friends, and excited to enjoy a kickass party and then leave for an amazing vacation a few days later.  Most importantly, I'm excited to marry Brian and become his wife.  But, with all that being said, I can't wait until the wedding is over, because that means no more planning.
I'm not one of those girls who always dreamed of their wedding day.  Brian and I were together for 5 years by the time we got engaged, so I definitely had some ideas, but I didn't already have everything mapped out in my head.  For me, the wedding planning has been fun but time consuming.  I miss our weekends of being able to drive around and do nothing, and I miss having money to spend on our home renovations.  I can't wait to have everything wrapped up so that I don't feel guilty watching tv because I should be doing something for the wedding instead.

I think this is totally normal.  I feel guilty saying it out loud and seeing it in writing, but only because I don't want people to think that I'm not excited about our wedding or appreciative of all the love and help that we've gotten so far from our family and friends.  I recently came across a whole message board on the Knot dedicated to women that miss planning their wedding, and it's chockfull of people that just can't accept the fact that their wedding is over and that they now have nothing to plan or look forward to.  That is so not me.
I guess when it comes down to it, I feel that a wedding is just a day, just a party - and although I'm sure it will be one of the best days of my life, the point is that it's the start of the rest of my life with Brian, and that is what I'm looking forward to the most.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hello, friends!

My name is Dana.  I'm doing my best trying to have it all - a fabulous career, a happy marriage, and a house that doesn't totally look like it's falling apart.  Balancing everything is tough, but I wouldn't trade my life for anything!

A little bit about me. I work in Human Resources and I am so proud of what I've accomplished so far in my career.  I'm driven and ambitious when it comes to my career, and plan to make it all the way to a corner office.  You'll find a lot of posts here about careers and some advice that has helped me in my career, and that I hope will help with yours.

Brian is my awesome fiancĂ©.  We are getting married in April, and we've spent the last year and a half planning our upcoming kick-ass wedding.  We met in college, have been together for 6 years, and are ridiculously (disgustingly?) in love.  We drive each other nuts, but have so much fun together.  Brian works as a project manager, and has his pilot's license so he can often be found flying on the weekends.

Two years ago, my fiancĂ© and I bought our home, and we've been working on it (slowly) ever since, and are doing almost all of the renovations ourselves. We have two crazy (and spoiled!) cats that pretty much run the house and keep us entertained. 
So, why blog?  I am so undomestic it's not even funny - but somehow, I've been slowly shaping myself into some semblance of a housewife.  When we first bought our house, my idea of cooking a gourmet meal was making a grilled cheese sandwich and my version of a DIY project was buying a box and putting stuff in it.  I'm happy to say that my skills have slowly evolved, and I'm happy to share my newly learned housewifery methods - and hopefully learn more from you!

This blog will probably be as indecisive as I am.  I plan on talking about our lives as newlyweds - including topics like home renovations, personal finance, cleaning & organizing, my slowly improving attempts at DIY projects, cooking, gardening, and of course, my career and balancing work & life.  I hope you'll stick around and be a part of our journey!