Growing up, money management was nothing I was ever taught. I knew when my family had money and I knew when my family didn't. I was never taught the importance of saving, leaving your credit score untarnished, and living below your means. I am not saying that my upbringing is the sole reason for my past poor money practices, but I definitely will say that it didn't foster great money handling.
When I became an adult I got credit cards, got in debt, and lived above my means, not knowing how this would affect the future. If I had the money, I would spend it. When Rick and I got together, we were basically a hot mess express. We didn't have a clue about how to build a smart financial foundation, we didn't have great jobs, and were struggling to get by.
After a while, you just get tired of struggling, tired of being in debt, and not having that financial freedom. We were determined to make a change and get educated on how to be great stewards of our money.
If you are in a financial place you're uncomfortable with, remember that this is not a permanent situation. You can make the choice to turn your circumstance around.
This is how we did it:
1.Get educated on good money practices.
You can't fix something if you do not know how. As a starting point, I suggest reading a book to give you the tools to become a success. I read The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness and The Road to Wealth. If it is available to you, I would highly recommend taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Freedom course. This was offered through our church and was a definite game changer. You do have to pay for this course, but think of it as an investment to your success! Or find someone that is amazing with their money and pick their brain! Tools are needed to be financially successful!
2.Change your mindset.
You can read books and take all the financial courses available, and it will all be for naught if you aren't changing your mindset. Just because you got it in your bank account doesn't mean that you have to spend it! That was something I had to understand. You have to change the way you think about money. We had to put ourselves in the driver seat for our finances. You must gain discipline, and you have to truly make the choice to want to break out of the struggle.
3.Evaluate your financial situation.
I know this is something you probably have been dreading for a while but it is a MUST in order to understand exactly your starting point. To evaluate your financial situation, that means checking and writing down all the bank account balances, pulling up your credit scores (which you can go to annualcreditreport.com to get it), and logging into all of your debt accounts. Sometimes your credit report is not currently updated so you want to get the most recent balances. Lastly, you want to write out all your expenses. All this will help give you the detailed picture of where you are at financially. In order to accurately evaluate our financial situation, we simply started an Excel spreadsheet with all this information with a monthly output tab and debt tab.
Once we knew the damage, we started putting together clear goals that we wanted to achieve. We made monthly and yearly goals to start out. Initially, we didn't put together a 5- and 10-year plan. We wanted to get out of the weeds first, and then put that together. Some of our monthly goals were to save a certain amount per paycheck. Eliminate this x amount on eating out. You want to set realistic goals that you can achieve. Setting lofty goals that are hard to hit will just discourage you. Be fair to yourself. Some of our annual goals were to have a certain amount of debt paid off, and have x amount in the savings. Before getting our house, that was also a goal of ours that we were so excited to achieve. Additionally, we regularly do check-ins on our goals to ensure we are on pace to hit them.
5.Initiate growth in your career (if applicable).
When Rick and I first started out, part of our issues stemmed from the money we had coming in. Please note: Whatever you make, you MUST still be good stewards of your money. Even if you only have $100 coming in. With that, Rick and I knew where we wanted to be and how we wanted to live, and in order to do that, it required us to level up in our careers. To do that I started educating myself on positions I would like to be at. I started asking to shadow and gain additional skills. Once I got those skills, I started always consistently applying for jobs that were a level up. This will not be an overnight change, but definitely something for you to work towards. Again, you can make a lot of money and still be broke. So don't think that getting more income means it will solve your problems. However, when more came in, we would pour it into correcting our finances and saving.
6.Establish a budget.
Can you believe that we were operating at one point without a budget?! Yikes! We would just pay bills as we could and spend however we wanted. Big mistake! Everything should be accounted for, and bill payments should be planned out. It took some time to find a budget system that worked for us. We tried Quicken, using a friend's template, and creating our own. Ultimately, we ended up finding a free Excel budget template online. We then put it in Google sheets so we can both edit and see the updates immediately.
Budgeting has to be the core of how you operate with your money.
It allows you to account for everything. If you follow your budget, you will hit your financial goals without a doubt. Creating a budget is not the tough part, following it is the hardest (in my opinion).
7.Have family business meetings.
We learned about this at one of our church's couples conferences. This has been such a key factor to our success working together. Having your finances jointly is not easy. I handle money differently than Rick. What we have learned that one hand must always know what the other is doing, so communication is key. Family business meetings are designated times to talk about the family operations and finances. We put it on our schedule, and that allows us both to be mentally prepared for talking finances. We go through our budget, talk about any discrepancies, go through our family schedules, and check in on goals. These meetings have helped us work together effectively. You can do it weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings, whichever you prefer.
8.Add a side hustle.
I have become a huge proponent of having multiple streams of income. It helps add some extra money to the bank account to pay bills off faster and to have for spending money. Plus it allows you not to be solely dependent on one income source. It can be doing contract work in a field that you are already in, doing Uber or Shipt, selling your clothes online, getting a night job, joining a MLM, starting your own business -- the options are endless! Having extra income definitely helped us hit our financial goals faster!
This is real y'all. Some of our financial issues come into play simply because we were not proactive. My husband let me share this, but that is a huge thing my husband dealt with. Whether it was calling to set up a payment plan or putting off updating your resume. Years ago, my husband had an account close because he simply didn't call to make arrangements. Don't procrastinate paying your bills, making your budget, and/or talking to that bill collector. Be in control of your finances and stop procrastinating because it only makes financial issues worse.
10.Surround yourself with the right crew.
This applies to more than finances. Who are the people in your circle? Are they motivating you to be better? Or are they advocating for you to charge up that card and not go after leveling up? I am not saying drop those friends, but you definitely want to also be in a community with people that motivate and inspire you to be better.
11. Trim your expenses.
Once we established our budget, we then started looking at what we could cut out. Some of our expenses were things that could be eliminated or decreased. We decreased my shopping (insert sad face), lowered our cable package, went through those monthly subscriptions and took those out, decreased eating out, and so much more. You would be surprised with how much money you can have by simply cutting back on your expenses.
12. Save money.
This sounds simple, and really it is. Y'all, I have suggested a lot of things in this blog but this is basically mandatory. You have to grow your savings. Whether it will be for your future, or simply to have a safety net if something were to happen. Life will happen and you need a savings account that you are prepared for just in case. We save without even thinking about it.
We take a portion of our paychecks and have our employer deposit directly into our savings accounts. If we get bonuses, we put a large portion of that into savings or tithed more. We also use the feature with our bank that does keep the change and puts it into our savings. All of that really starts to add up. When you read any of Dave Ramsey's books, you will learn about the emergency fund and best practices of how much to have in savings. I have seen fellow influencers use a variety of apps that also help you save as well.
13. Pay off debt.
Once we made our plan to repair our finances, we got serious about being debt free. We do not want any type of debt. We use the snowball method where you pay debt off smallest to largest. This has helped us stay motivated and get some instant wins. We also have the mindset that if we can't buy it with cash, then it doesn't come home. We stopped getting store loans or charging it.
14. Live frugally.
This will look different for everyone, but you want to live beneath your means. Just because you got approved for this car amount, DOES NOT mean that you should purchase it. Get yourself in the mindset that just because you can, doesn't me you should! This was especially important for me to remember as our salaries increased. I had to put myself in check and remember where we once were. Rick and I have cut back on a lot.
15.Be patient and stay encouraged.
When we got fired up to really start getting serious about our finances, I was anxious for instant results. However, rebuilding your finances is not an instantaneous solution. Be patient, and know that it takes time. Keep doing the steps consistently and you will see success from it. This is a journey that you have to stay motivated. If you are married, help keep each other motivated. When my husband does something that helps us financially or takes care of something, I give him major kudos! You need to cheer each other on. If you are not married, find an accountability partner that can keep you encouraged.
Y'all, I am not a financial advisor. I am simply a person who at one point made poor financial choices, learned from my mistakes, and made a plan to recover and thrive. You can too. These tips to improve your finances are key elements that we took to fix our finances. Everyone's situation and journey will look different. I hope that you can implement even one of these tips and be successful!
Featured image courtesy of Taryn Newton*Originally published on Glamorous Versatility
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
An author by the name of Alexandra Katehakis once said this about orgasms: “Great spiritual teachers throughout the ages have stated that orgasm is the closest some people come to a spiritual experience because of the momentary loss of self. Why is this true? Because with spiritual sex, you move beyond orgasm into a connection with yourself, your partner, and the divine — recognizing them all as one.”
If it’s counterintuitive to what you’ve ever thought about orgasms, believe it or not, there are even pastors who have said that climaxing is the closest comprehension of heaven on this side of it: it is an extreme kind of bliss that is indescribable and is best experienced between two people who share a sacrificial kind of love for one another.
Although this might seem like a heavy way to intro this particular topic, because the O Method is an orgasm-achieving technique that centers around housing energy, embracing the mental practice of manifestation, and the attempt to achieve the best climaxes ever — it all works together pretty well if you ask me. If you want to take your orgasms to the next level, it’s important that you get out of yourself (to a certain extent), that you see the spiritual role that manifestation plays, and that you are open to trying new things. No doubt about it.
So, let’s learn more about what the O Method is all about and how it very well could be just what you’ve been looking for…even if you didn’t know it.
What Is the “O Method” All About?Giphy
Question: When’s the last time you’ve had an orgasm? Not just any orgasm — I mean a really mind-blowing one (I’ll give you a second to think about it). Now, what if you could manifest that experience to the point where it wasn’t a rare occurrence but something that happened almost every time that you and your partner had sex with each other? How absolutely awesome would that be?
That is pretty much what the O Method is all about — helping you achieve the kind of orgasms (and sexual pleasure, in general) that you desire through the practice of manifestation. And since your biggest sex organ is your brain, it would make perfect sense that even with all of the tips and techniques that you might learn to do as far as your body is concerned, honing in on what you think about is super imperative to sexual fulfillment, too. And that’s just where manifestation comes in.
What If You’ve Never “Manifested” Anything Before?Giphy
Before we get into a quick lesson on manifestation, I think it’s important to mention two things. One, for the cynics, there is a lot of truth in the fact that it’s got some solid spiritual basis to it because even the Good Book says that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). At the same time, that same Good Book tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). So, while it is always a good idea to focus on good, positive, and productive thoughts, just thinking about them isn’t enough — at some point, you’ve also gotta get out here and DO something (bookmark that).
Okay, with that mini-sermon out of the way, whether it’s in the bedroom or not, manifestation is basically about focusing on something tangible that you desire, harnessing your energy in such a way that your words and actions are directed towards that longing until what you want, well, manifests. For the record, aside from this having a spiritual backing to it, in many ways, science cosigns on manifesting, too. There is actually a scientific process known as neuroplasticity that consists of reframing your mind so that your actions ultimately end up aligning with your goals — and that is another way to look at manifestation.
So, what if you’re someone who has never set out to do a manifestation practice before? No worries. Something that’s awesome about it is there are several different approaches that you can take.
Some people manifest what they want in their lives via:
- Visualization/Creating vision boards
- Writing down their desires before going to bed (so that they can “download” them into their dream state)
- Creating mantras and affirmations
- Applying the 369 Manifestation Method (you can learn more about that here)
- Learning more about what you want to manifest (which brings forth clarity)
This is important to keep in mind because, when it comes to manifesting the types of orgasms that you want to have, as you can see, you can try different manifestation methods until you find one (or ones) that you are truly comfortable with. One that can ease you into the entire process rather smoothly is something known as sex journaling.
How Sex Journaling Can Actually Help You to Have an OrgasmGiphy
As a writer, I’m a big fan of journaling. Mostly because it’s a way to get out some of your deepest thoughts and feelings so that you’re able to really process what is happening inside of you in a private setting. And when it comes to sex journaling, specifically, it’s all about centering yourself on the things sexually that you want to “unpack,” get clarity on or come to some revelations about. For instance, if there’s only been one partner from your past who’s been able to help you achieve the type of orgasms that you wish to manifest, journaling about what makes him different from the other guys can provide you with some solid ah-ha moments.
Or if you need help getting as specific as possible about the sexual experiences that you’re after, journaling can help to make that happen for you — because one thing that manifesting reminds us all to do is be as specific as possible.
Yeah, simply saying, “I want to have better sex” isn’t detailed enough when you want to get your energy to match with your desires — instead, describe how all of your senses should feel in the experience, along with why, that can get you so much closer to achieving your goal. Once those things are documented, you can segue into creating mantras and/or meditation that are based on them. Yeah, sex journaling really is an underrated superpower on a lot of levels (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”).
5 Tips for Making the O Method Work for YouGiphy
Now that you know more about what the O Method is and how manifestation plays a direct role in its process, let’s talk about five ways to make the O Method truly effective in your own (sex) life.
1. Focus, FULLY, on your feminine energy. What do rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone (which is a Gemini birthstone as well; yes, I’m a Gemini), selenite, and rhodonite all have in common? They’re crystals that help you to go deeper into your divine feminine energy. Traits that are associated with this include compassion, creativity, kindness, gentleness, and sensuality (feminine energy is also accepting and forgiving). If you were to study energy from a biological standpoint, it’s about producing change, responding to stimuli, and having the ability to do what needs to be done (work). So, when it comes to manifesting the kind of orgasms or sexual experiences that you want, using things like your creativity and gentleness in your thoughts and actions can play a role in bringing balance to your partner’s masculinity, which can create a profound sense of pleasure — after all, opposites do attract.
2. Don’t hold back on what it is that you desire. Whenever I interview sex therapists, something that they all say is, a huge mistake that people make as far as sexual satisfaction is concerned is, they have walls up — not just with their partners but even within themselves. Sometimes, there is intimidation, fear, or even shame around what they really want to happen during sex to the point where they aren’t able to channel their energy fully in those directions in order to manifest what they want. For the O Method to work, you can’t let those types of negative emotions hinder you; the more you are able to articulate what you want and how you want it, the better chance you have of making it happen. So yes, get graphic. As graphic as possible.
3. Make manifestation a daily practice. Repetition is important when it comes to manifestation. That’s because the more you declare what you desire (a mantra), get still and think on it (meditation), or look at the “art” that you’ve created surrounding it (visualization), the quicker it becomes a part of you. So yes, make manifestation a daily practice. For instance, if one of your mantras is, “I am going to have intensely passionate orgasms, one right after the other,” don’t just state that 15 minutes before sex is going to happen. Wake up and declare it. Then say it on your lunch break. And again before turning in. The more your thoughts are “streamlined” in this way, the easier it will be for your body to follow suit.
4. Share this practice with your partner. If you were to do even more research on the O Method, one thing that most of the articles will mention is it’s a practice that you can do alone or with your partner. Indeed. However, I just want to make sure that you get into your psyche that great sex is, in part, about good communication. And so, the more comfortable you are sharing with your partner what you are doing as far as the O Method is concerned and what you ultimately want to happen as a result of the practice, the easier it will be for him to “match your energy” — both in and out of the bedroom. And when your partner is on the same page as you? That definitely increases the chances of attaining your sexual desires — exponentially so.
5. Stay in the moment. While I was reading one article on manifestation, I really appreciated something that the author said: manifestation isn’t some supernatural power. In other words, while it can be beneficial, it’s not like you can just think of something, and it instantly appears out of nowhere. Manifesting is a discipline, and it must be accompanied by action, consistency, and patience — this means that you must also practice mindfulness. Meaning, now that you know better what you’re looking to achieve as far as sex is concerned, every time that it transpires, maintain a level of positive energy, remember what your end goal is, and then determine in your mind to enjoy the moments as they come. Remember, manifestation isn’t to add stress…it’s to cultivate clarity.
At the end of the day, the O Method is simply a way of reminding you that your mind plays a huge role in your sexual pleasure, and when you channel it and your energy exactly where you want them both to go, you’ll be amazed what your body is capable of doing…and accomplishing.
So, what kind of orgasm are you wanting to achieve? You’ve got a tool to get you there. USE IT.
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Featured image by Giphy