Why I love Mondays

Why I Love Mondays

I love Mondays. I know I am one of the few but Monday can be the day that launches the rest of your week. Monday is my day to get organized for the week. It’s the day I get organized for the week ahead and lay out my game plan.

Every Monday morning, there are a few key things I do to get organized for the week. It gives me something to look forward to on most people’s least favorite day.

1. Update my check register and plan spending for the week (5-15 minutes)

I know that sounds extremely exciting, but one of the first things I do on Monday morning is update my check register to reflect our spending from the last week. I also plan out how much money we need for the week and pay any bills online that need to be paid.

Starting the week knowing how much is left in the account and that my bills are paid gives me peace of mind. It is one less distraction during the week and gets things started off on the right foot.

2. Clean out my inbox from the weekend (5-10 minutes)

I tend to let things slide in my email box toward the end of the week and into the weekend. I go through my remaining email and clean out the box. I first delete anything I know I’m not going to read, which are mostly ads. Then I go back through the remaining emails and deal with each one. Some are quick to deal with and are handled immediately. Some are blog posts that I want to read later and comment on. Those are archived with a reminder for later in the week (usually Monday night or Tuesday). I use IQTell to manage my email so setting up the reminders is a snap!

My goal is zero inbox when I finish this task. I like starting the week knowing that everything is dealt with for now and I have a nice clean inbox.

3. Reflect on last week’s to do list and create this week’s (10-20 minutes)

Each week I create a to-do list that I review on Monday nights with my accountability partner. In order to be able to have this meeting, I need to review the prior week’s list and create this week’s.

I have about 15 new ideas a day. That’s just how my brain works. Ideas for blog posts, new projects, things I want to do around the house, and recipe ideas hit me at all hours of the day and night. I need somewhere to organize all of those items as they flood in because otherwise my brain would paralyze me. I also use IQTell for this. The app (available for web, IPhone and Android) allows me to set up projects and actions. Plus, I can attach notes and emails to those items.

Over the course of a week, I dump all my ideas into IQTell. On Monday, I decide which items make the action list for the week and review the items from the previous week that did not get finished. This helps me prepare for my meeting with my accountability partner and map out my plan for the week.

These three items help me start off the week right. In less than an hour, my week is mapped out, my inbox is clean and my financial life is taken care of. This is why Monday is a great day in our house.

What could you do on Monday to help set your week in a positive direction?

It’s almost here! My schedule this week

With Christmas less than a week away, Jeff and I are both just a little tired. Hence, the lack of posts for about a week (so much for NaBloPoMo this month!). The last two weeks have been filed with Christmas parties and get togethers. I think we are pretty much past that part of the season. Now, on to what I call clean up week.

Generally, I take off the week between Christmas and New Years because I can catch up on a bunch of things I need to get done around the house before tax season starts. My birthday is also that week so I generally do something fun with Jeff. Before I get to that though, I need to make it through this week.

Today’s schedule includes running to school for an interview and attempting to get some grading done. Then I am running to a friend’s house to make Apple Pie Liqueur. I had some of this at a party a few weeks ago and it is amazing. It really does taste like apple pie. I’ll post the recipe. Tonight, I need to take a diagnostic GMAT exam so I can get my study plan together for the next month. More on that soon.

Tomorrow, I have to go to school for a class on a piece of software I am beta testing next semester (why do I sign up for these things?). Then, hopefully, I can finish my grading for the semester. Tomorrow night is my first meeting back on the Board of Education. Need to be there at 6:30. Those meetings can go really late so I don’t think I’ll get any studying in.

Wednesday, I need to make sure grades are done and posted. I also need to get some studying time in. Hopefully, by Wednesday the last of the Christmas gifts will have arrived and I can get wrapping finished. Did I mention that we still haven’t finished decorating the tree? We’ll have to fit that in somewhere, too. A bunch of the lights we had aren’t working so Jeff is off to get some today. Need to ship some things last minute as well.

Thursday, I’ll decide what Jeff and I are going to have for Christmas dinner and I will go shopping. I got a little hint about one of my presents thanks to Jeff using my Amazon account to do some of his shopping. Who knew that they sent out emails with the item name in the subject when the item is shipped? Oops! Therefore, I think we are having an Italian Christmas dinner. In the afternoon, I need to pick up my niece in Massachusetts and bring her to the train station in New Haven. I’ll do my shopping on the way home.

Friday is my final wrap up day. I have to make sure all the gifts are wrapped and ready to go for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I also want to make some toffee for last minute gifts, plus I promised to get my recipe together for an old friend from high school. This will be the day I realize that I have forgotten to get a gift for someone and I’ll run around like a lunatic.

Saturday is family and friend day. We’ll drop off gifts and visit loved ones on Saturday morning, then to mom’s house in the afternoon and my aunt and uncle’s house for a big party in the evening. If we can make it through all that, Sunday will be a breeze.

Christmas Day is the easy day. When Jeff and I first got together, we ran around like lunatics on Christmas Day. Jeff’s parents gave us some excellent advice when we got married: start your own traditions now! So that’s what we did. We were so tired of running around to half a dozen places on Christmas Day so we decided that Christmas Eve we would do our running around and Christmas Day would be our day. We open up the house for visitors and always have tons of food but we don’t go anywhere. We have really enjoyed Christmas since we started this tradition and we will continue it this year as well.

I can’t wait for Christmas. How does your week look this week? What do you have planned? Are you ready for Christmas?

WARNING: The holidays are coming!

Today is the last day of September which means that tomorrow is October first. Soon it will be Halloween, then Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the corner. Now, I’m sure you all know that these holidays are the same time every year. Yet, every year we all start to panic. We didn’t save as much as we wanted. We didn’t start making gifts in May like we promised ourselves we would (my yarn was shipped today).

It’s not too late to start a plan for the holidays. There are still a lot of things you can do to make sure you don’t have to whip out those credit cards to make the holiday great.

  • Make a budget. If you haven’t been saving up all year for this, you need to figure out how much money you can scrape up for all your holiday obligations. Don’t forget Halloween and Thanksgiving. You have to pay for these things too.
  • Once you have a budget, make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for. Don’t forget teachers, babysitters and other people that we tend to forget until the last minute. It’s because of those purchases that you end up over budget. Also jot down some ideas for each person. When out and about, look at your list to see if there is anything on sale that you could pick up early.
  • Allocate your budget between everyone on your list. If this seems impossible, maybe you need to have a family meeting at Thanksgiving and propose a secret santa instead of trying to purchase gifts for everyone.
  • If it looks like your budget for your kids is out of control, it probably is. I always think it’s funny when people buy gifts for kids and the kids end up playing with the box. I’m not suggesting that you give your kids a box but think of other things you can do instead of spending money. Consider giving the kids your time. Most of us are so busy that the one thing the kids really want is more of mom and dad’s time. Give your kids movie night with mom and dad or bowling night. Make up a cool looking coupon on the computer and wrap it up. Make up a cooking class and give that to your kids. Be creative.
  • Make things. Consider taking family photos and framing them with inexpensive frames. Create a family cookbook. Make cookies or candy. I love homemade gifts. They are cost effective but the recipient appreciates the effort you put in.
  • Be realistic. Don’t plan to make 800 pairs of mittens between now and Christmas. It’s not going to happen. You’ll stress yourself out and then end up going over budget as you rush to the mall at the last minute.

Start thinking about this now. Start budgeting for this now. Put the cards away and pay cash this year.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

When I graduated from college, my sister bought me a metal paperweight with that saying. While recovering from cancer, I found it in a drawer and really started to think about what it said. There are often times when life changes you and when opportunity knocks on your door. Do you hear it?

Many people are worried about the security of their jobs or have already lost their jobs. Do you hear the knocking at the door? I often ask my clients, “if you weren’t doing this, what would you do?” Most of them tell me they don’t know. Most of the time when I ask my students “what do you want to do when you get out of college?” they say “make a lot of money”. They don’t know how to get there but they have that dream. At least that’s a start, right?

Recessions are a great time to start dreaming and figuring out where you want to take your life. Stop letting your life take you. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Would you go back to school? Change careers? Move to another state? Start a business? Have you ever looked into any of these possibilities or have you dismissed them because you just know it is not possible? Again, I ask what would you do if you knew you could not fail? Don’t look at possible or impossible. Just make a list. Start there. Here was my list a few years ago:

Start my own business
Help people
Get my PhD and teach

I’ve got my own business. I started this blog to help people save money. This summer I start studying for the GMAT so I can apply to schools this fall. I’ve been teaching since last fall. When I made this list in 2002 or 2003, this all seemed impossible. I was studying for the CPA exam and I didn’t even have my graduate degree. Hadn’t started it. It was not until I got sick and found that paper weight that I stopped letting impossible limit me.

I then started to research how to get where I wanted to go. I talked to some business owners I knew who encouraged me to start my business. It was my knitting group that encouraged me to start the blog after sharing tips with them (I think they just wanted me to shut-up already about the coupons). I decided one day that I would just start looking for part-time teaching positions. I sent my resume out to a bunch of schools and got a phone call.

Don’t get me wrong. The fear of failure does hit me. I think that’s why I’ve waited so long to apply to a PhD program. I see the statistics. Over 130 people applied to the college I want to go to and 12 (that’s right twelve) were accepted. That’s less than 10 percent. I might get rejected but I decided this week that I won’t know if I’ll get rejected if I don’t freakin’ apply. I might just get accepted. If I get rejected, I’ll try again next year. It doesn’t mean I won’t get accepted some day. But I don’t know because I haven’t tried.

I start studying for the GMAT tomorrow.

If you could do anything, what would you do? Start there. Don’t tell me why you can’t do it. What would YOU do if you knew you could not fail? Make a list and soon we’ll start discussing how to get you there.