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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Well guys, I did it. 30 days of hardcore budgeting. My April Makin’ Bank Challenge is officially coming to a close and I gained more from it than I ever could have imagined. Here’s what I learned…

Makin’ Bank Challenge: April 2013 Recap

1.) I don’t need to shop

I’m extremely proud of myself for this one. As a self-professed shop-o-holic, I was nervous about challenging myself to 30 days without it. But, I survived! No clothes, makeup, accessories, etc. were purchased for the entire month and my bank account absolutely loved it. I hadn’t gotten into a horrible habit of feeling like I had to buy something anytime I went shopping. Not true! I refuse to give it up entirely but, from now on, I’ll make sure that I’m only spending money when I have it to spare.

2.) Bills are expensive

I took over almost all of my bills this month and, let me tell you, I was shocked. I honestly had no idea how quickly they’d add up. It has been slightly overwhelming but that’s okay. It feels really good to know that I’ve taken a few of those burdens off of my parent’s shoulders. Oh, and just FYI, pets are expensive. Thankfully I love Lionel to death and don’t mind spending money on him…lucky boy.

Lionel3.) Keeping track is key

Writing down all of my purchases really forced me to see where I was being impractical. Grocery shopping was the biggest shocker. I’ve never been good about planning meals or shopping in advance- I just picked things up when I needed them. Not good. Now I aim to make one (or two) grocery trips per week and avoid the “extra” purchases. So far, it’s making a huge difference in my overall budget and I’ve been able to use up stuff that’s been in my pantry for far too long.

4.) Fun is necessary

When I set up this challenge, I didn’t create a separate weekly budget for “fun” stuff (dinner/drinks with friends, movies, activities, etc.) I didn’t think I needed to. But, of course, I do. We all do. I don’t want to stop doing things that make me happy just because I’m being money-conscious. So allowing myself a certain amount to spend however I please is crucial. Life is too short to miss out on the fun stuff…

Mini Golf5.) Use cash

I stopped using my debit card almost entirely this month and relied only on cash. I honestly think that little switch made more of an impact than anything else. We all know how easy it is to swipe a card without a second thought. Cash feels so much more…permanent? If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you ditch the plastic for a while. You’ll be amazed at how much less you spend.

So, where does that leave me for the month of May?

I’m definitely going to give myself a little breathing room. If I go shopping with my friends and find something I like, I’ll buy it (plus I desperately need some new shorts!). I’ll continue to keep track of my overall spending and the status of my bank accounts just not quite as strictly as I was. And, of course, I’ll continue to pay all of the bills that I’ve taken responsibility for. Not too much will change, I’m just planning to relax a little bit. I also start my 2nd job this month (yay!) so my income will be increasing. My goal is to continue saving my butt off for 6-8 months and then I’ll re-evaluate from there!

Here’s to feeling accomplished and propelling forward…

-Emily

My last post got me reminiscing about the past…

It always amazes me to think back on the person that I was 5 or 6 years ago. At 15, when I started high school, things were simple (though I didn’t realize it then) and I had no idea what my future was going to hold. Life is always clearer in hind-sight. Through our experiences we’re able to learn, grow, and gain the wisdom to make better decisions in the future. We all have things we wish we had done differently but- in the end- those choices made us the people we are today. So, be thankful for that.

High SchoolAll of that considered, sometimes I wish I could write a letter to 15 year-old Emily. Just a simple note to prepare my innocent self for what was to come. If I could, it would look something like this…

Dear Emily,

First and foremost, smile. Life is more precious and beautiful than you will ever understand.

Second, breathe. Don’t wish your days away. Don’t get so caught up in ‘tomorrow’ that you forget about today. Enjoy the freedom of being young. Give everyone and everything a chance- you might be surprised by what you discover. Never let the world dull your shine. Boys will come and go so don’t let any of them define you. It will become obvious who your true friends are- never let them go.

Work hard but don’t let the stress control you. No one is perfect- you included- and that’s okay. Trust that everything is going to work out for the best, even when it doesn’t feel like it will. When it comes to your future, just let it happen. Don’t over-analyze and don’t over-plan. Don’t draw a detailed picture of how you want things to be because the universe will continually surprise you. Just live.

Never, ever take your family for granted. You’ve been blessed beyond belief and things won’t always be as wonderful as they are now. So, enjoy every minute because you’ll never get this time back.

Love yourself. You’re stronger, smarter, and more beautiful than you give yourself credit for. Own it.

So get out there, have fun, make mistakes, laugh at yourself, and smile like it’s going out of style.

Love, Emily

What would your letter say? 

-Emily

mehIf I had to choose one word to sum up my week, that would be it. Meh. A lot of good, a little bad, and a dash of stress and anxiety all rolled into 7 long days. I keep reminding myself to focus on the positive and smile, even when it’s hard. Thankfully, I have amazing people in my life that make it a little easier.

When I was in high school we had a seminar every year called “Breaking Down The Walls”. It was a 2-day assembly that focused on getting rid of the barriers between students and realizing that no one is perfect, we all have feelings, and we’re all special in our own way. Needless to say, it was awesome.

I got to attend my junior year and it was one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had. There was one thing in-particular that has stuck with me since the moment I heard it…

Adults don’t smile enough. 

The average kid smiles 400 times a day. The average adult? 20 times. 

How sad is that? It breaks my heart to even think about. We should have a million reasons to smile every day but the majority of us rarely make it to 50. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that.

babysmileLife is never going to go according to plan. There will always be something to stress about, there will always be pessimistic people, and there will always be situations that are out of our control. But succumbing to the negativity that surrounds us will only make it more miserable. Positivity is a powerful thing and it can drastically change your perspective on the people and events in your life.

So, despite the personal issues I’ve been dealing with, I’m going to keep smiling. It’s not always easy and there are definitely times during the day where I can’t completely hold it together, but I’m going to make damn sure that I squeeze in WAY more than 20 smiles, no matter what the circumstances.

I challenge you to do the same thing. Surround yourself with happy people, get out of your head, and let yourself be silly. Then count how many times you smile. And remember, they’re contagious.

Here’s to smiling like it’s going out of style…

-Emily

There are lots of people in this world who spend so much time watching their health that they haven’t the time to enjoy it.” –Josh Billings

I came across this quote the other day and couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard it before. Billings died in 1885 which proves that society’s fixation on health started long before our time. Insane, right? However, I do think that we’ve taken our obsession to a new level in the recent years. We’re constantly debating which foods are ‘healthy’, whether we’re eating too much or too little, what type of exercise is most effective, the fastest ways to lose weight…it’s absolutely exhausting.

I’ve read a number of articles and blog posts recently that challenge the idea of labeling our diets. Why is it necessary? All it does is limit us and make us feel guilty any time we break the ‘rules’.

kittiesI’ve been there. I followed a strict vegan diet for 2+ years and convinced myself that I was happy that way. For a while, I was. But eventually I realized that, for me personally, it wasn’t the healthiest choice.

Putting any type of strict label on our diets is stressful. We’re constantly forced to make modifications, ask extensive questions, and search for foods that fit our requirements. Don’t get me wrong, I love vegan food and there are tons of vegan options that I still take advantage of (I’ll choose almond milk over real milk any day!) but I was sick of restricting myself to only those things.

I wanted to be able to eat what I wanted, when I wanted, without guilt. I wanted to go out with my friends and order off the menu like a regular person. I wanted to stop making trips to 3 different grocery stores just to find all of the obscure items I needed. I wanted to find bliss by being free.

Starbucks

I stopped following a vegan diet 7 months ago and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Have I gained weight? Yep. Is my diet as ‘healthy’ as it was before? Probably not. But I’m perfectly okay with that. My skin has cleared up, my hair has gotten thicker, and I have more energy than I’ve had in years.

OlivaLife is about so much more than food. When you’re 80 years old and you look back on your life, are you going to remember how many macros you ate one day? Or whether or not you enjoyed that bowl of ice-cream you were craving? NO. You’re going to remember living, not eating.

So, here’s to letting our only obsession be an one with happiness…

-Emily

Monday, Monday, Monday! Let the busy week commence.

I’m not going to worry about updating you much since I posted over the weekend, but I wanted to drop in for my weekly budgeting update! Only one more week to go and I’ll have successfully made it through my first month of challenges. I’ve learned SO much about my money habits and am already much more aware of my income vs. spending. If you’re having trouble with budgeting, I highly recommend setting up a challenge like this for yourself. You’ll be amazed by what you discover!

Makin’ Bank Challenge: Week #3

The Good:

Weekly Spending: $82.13

1.) Groceries

After realizing how impractical it was to be making multiple grocery store trips every week, I made an effort to change that. Success! On Monday I went grocery shopping and spent just over $50 on everything I thought I would need for the week. After that, I only made one trip to Trader Joe’s and it was to pick up bananas and berries (which I knew I’d need more of since they don’t last very long). This made such a big difference and it’s definitely a habit I’m going to try to maintain!

2.) Second Job

I found out on Friday that I got the 2nd job I had applied for! I’m beyond excited. I start my training at the beginning of May and, even though my life is going to be a little hectic, I can’t wait.

3.) No Shopping

Woot woot! Three weeks down, one to go. I haven’t made a single clothing, makeup, or accessory purchase all month. And guess what? I’m alive! Not to mention, I’ve learned to get creative and make more use out of the things I already have. The first week was tough but it’s getting easier and easier. I’m definitely going to be more conscious and selective about my shopping from here on out.

The Bad:

1.) Eating out

With my trip to Coachella and having a somewhat stressful week, I did eat out with my friends a few times (3 to be exact) and we went out for drinks on Friday night. But hey- I had fun! A girls gotta live a little. Plus, it all evened out since I was able to cut back on my grocery spending.

On top of everything else, this week was payday (aka: the best day of the month) and I made some extra money by working the catering event on Thursday night. Money > Sleep.

If all goes as planned and I’m able to finish them, I have two interesting posts planned for Wednesday and Friday. For now, have a beautiful week and be thankful for your safety, your health, and all of the little things you’ve been blessed with. There are always going to be things in life that are out of our control- all we can do is hold our heads high, stay positive, and never stop building bliss.

quoteHere’s to a week filled with opportunity…

-Emily

I’ve finally caught up on sleep after my Coachella adventure and the non-stop headache that I’ve had for the past 72 hours has subsided. Thank the Lord. So far, the weekend has been exactly what I needed. Sleep, relaxation, friends, cleaning, yoga, and finding out that I got the 2nd job I applied for! I can’t tell you how thankful and excited I am. Life is going to be hectic for a while but I’m ready for it.

Coachella

This weekend I haven’t wanted to do much of anything. I went to dinner and drinks with the girls last night and have spent the majority of my time catching up on rest and various other things before the new week begins. I know life is about to get crazy (especially with the addition of a 2nd job) so I’m embracing the opportunity to relax. <— FYI: that’s something I never used to do.

A year ago I was the girl that was convinced that every minute needed to have a purpose. I planned, scheduled, and obsessed over what I was doing and when I was doing it. If it wasn’t productive, it wasn’t part of my life. How ridiculous is that? Life is meant to be enjoyed and that means balancing work, play, and rest. It’s okay to work hard, it’s okay to play often, and if you want to spend a day being anti-social with Panera Bread and Gilmore Girls, so be it. (Not that I did that today or anything…)

Coachella TheCounter

PS: I finally updated my About Me page and set up a page for my workout routines! Check ’em out.

Here’s to doing what makes you smile…

-Emily

It’s 11 AM and I just rolled out of bed. Yep- that’s coming from a girl who hasn’t slept in past 8:30 since high school. I spent last night working at a Coachella pre-party and didn’t make it back to LA until around 4 AM. The restaurant I work at was catering and a few of us were chosen to go work the event. It was insane but my friend Tara and I turned it into a little road-trip and had a blast. 

roadtrip

Thankfully I was thinking ahead and got today’s post written up ahead of time. Enjoy!

For most of us, it’s extremely easy to come up with an excuse to skip a workout. There are always a million things that have to be done and the most common cop-out becomes ‘I don’t have time’.

Believe me, I understand that. Our lives are crazy and finding the time to squeeze in a workout can be nearly impossible. But, sometimes we just have to get out of our own way. Spending hours at the gym on a daily basis is never going to be practical for most people and that’s okay. The important thing is to get your body moving, even if it’s just for 15 minutes in the comfort of your own home.

You all know how I feel about strict workout regimes and the importance of listening to your body- that should always come first. But, more often than not, it’s your brain that wants to skip the workout not your body. So, mind over matter. Make time for your health. It’s that simple.

At-home workouts have become my go-to lately and, with gas prices the way they are, my wallet appreciates it. I’m limited when it comes to equipment but that’s okay! I truly believe that our bodyweight is the most effective form of resistance anyways. It forces you to stay engaged.

This week I put together a pyramid workout that I thought was going to be fairly easy. WRONG. This little guy kicked my booty! But, it’s over in less than 15 minutes and there’s no equipment required!

Break&BuildPyramid

So, complete each exercise in order and then reverse it! I’m not going to lie, doing 40 jump-lunges and 100 squats left my legs screaming but I felt like a rockstar when I was finished. You will too!

And with that, I’m off to laze around for the rest of the day. Gossip Girl marathon, here I come!

Here’s to making time for you and your health this weekend…

-Emily