Pay Yourself First

October 28, 2008

Hi Friends – sorry I haven’t written much lately. We hit the ground running as soon as we got back from Denver and life has been pretty stressful. I still cannot figure out why the semester that I am taking the least classes ever is turning out to be my most stressful.

We did have a bright spot this past week though. A few weeks ago James’ boss hinted that he would be getting a raise on his next paycheck but didn’t indicate how much it would be. We got his paycheck on Thursday and were amazed to see that it was a 10% raise! That’s huge! I’m so proud of him, he’s worked really hard and deserves it.

One of the best parts of the raise is that it’s allowed us to increase the amount we put into savings per month by 50% so we’re up to putting about 13% of James’ income and 100% of my income into savings. That all adds up to putting 30% of our total income into savings! Most of this goes into a separate account to save towards paying for my education while the rest goes into a savings account which is building toward things like purchasing our first home, getting James a “new” car, and taking an amazing vacation for our five year anniversary.

I hope that you’re putting money into savings. Whether you’re single, married, or married with kids you need to have something in savings. Saving money means that you’ll have to cut back on some things and you’ll have to learn to be ok with money that’s just hanging out in an account when you’ve got a whole list of things you could spend it on right now. A few years ago James and I went to a Dave Ramsey event that really benefited us. We got on a budget and have been on one every day since then. One of his catch phrases is “live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later.” First National Bank of Omaha has another way of saying it, “Pay Yourself First.”

The idea of paying yourself first led FNBO to run a challenge which is aptly named “The Pay Yourself First Challenge.” They asked people to submit videos about what they were saving for and five videos would be chosen as finalists. FNBO Direct will match each of the top five finalist’s savings accrued from October 2008 – April 2009. Each finalist will receive a 100% match, not exceeding $5,000 each.

My best friend Kristen and her husband entered the challenge. I know I’ve mentioned her on here before but here’s a quick overview: Kristen and Michael (Miguel) have been living as missionaries in the Dominican Republic for the past three years. They love the people there and over their three years they have especially fallen in love with the people of Guatupita – a slum near their home. The people there are poor and often sick, and struggle with a number of spiritual strongholds. They’ve been meeting their spiritual needs and some of their physical needs but their desire to strengthen their ability to help the people there has led them to return to the states for Kristen to go to nursing school. This is a big financial investment for them, especially since they have a ten month old baby.

So – they entered the contest and their video was chosen as one of the five finalists! FNBO is matching their savings dollar for dollar! But wait, there’s more and this is where you come in. Now the five finalists are in contest with one another for the grand prize – a “Restore Your Balance” vacation to a luxurious spa worth $7,500. The even better part is that they have the option of getting $7,500 in cash instead. If that happened Kristen could have her entire education paid off and they could return to the Dominican Republic debt free!! There are a few factors going into choosing the winner but a portion of it is based upon votes by the American public on their website.

And here is where I shamelessly ask for your votes for my very best friend Kristen. If I haven’t convinced you of the cause, here is their winning video:

One of my favorite things about the video is that they don’t exploit the people in the village. It would be easy to take some video of them and you would quickly understand how great the need is but Kristen and Miguel didn’t do that. I think that’s pretty awesome.

If you want to vote for Kristen all you have to do is click here and click to vote:

And by the way, please pay yourself first.

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Denver Here We Come!!

October 17, 2008

YAY! We’re headed to Denver this Saturday and we are so pumped to see friends, family, and my possible future school. I can’t wait to see all you guys out there! Please pray we have safe travel – I get a little nervous on planes.

Your favorite magazine…

October 13, 2008

Hi friends! The other day I was at a store that had some magazines that I liked but I wouldn’t fork over the cash to get one for two reasons. 1) They’re kind of expensive 2) They usually have more stuff that I’m not interested in than I am interested in. This led me to my question: If you could make a magazine that only had articles that you were interested in what would it have in it? Here are some of the sections/articles mine would regularly include:

– great deals on cute clothes

– easy crafts and projects that actually look cute

– beauty product reviews by experts

– delicious recipes that include the nutritional data

– video game reviews and walkthroughs for wii and ds games

– logic puzzles

– coupons for stuff that I can usually never afford

– running tips and training guides

– funny pictures of animals

– funny pictures of people in horrible outfits like on glamour’s black bar page

– cheap yet delicious restaurants

– personality quizzes

– more great deals on cute clothes – by the way, these clothes would be from stores that are actually in my city – not some place in New York that I can never go to

– fun home decorating tips

– girly how-to’s like giving yourself the perfect manicure

– all things The Office

– interviews with other people that love school

– interviews with full-time therapists

– interviews with chefs

– painting tips and listings of art shows

– more recipes

– maybe one page of politics from an actually unbiased reporter (which I don’t really believe exists)

It would be called mishmash (fyi – I totally used to think I invented that word) and the cover picture would always be a normal looking girl wearing a normal looking outfit but she would still be cute.

I would buy that magazine.

So – my friends in the blogging world – what magazine would you buy?

Five years to 5k

October 4, 2008

Here’s some pictures from today’s 5k – my first one ever! It was so much fun! It was a big day for me, this run has been five years in the making. I still can’t believe that I can run one mile let alone three. I can’t believe that I’m even thinking about training for the 10k in 4 weeks – but I am. Five years ago – and pretty much every year before that I was a very different girl. I had an unhealthy relationship with food and myself. I still struggle, sometimes I’m still not happy with my weight or the way I look but right now I’m choosing to celebrate my accomplishment.  I want to say more about how things have changed for me and what this process has been like but I need to think about it. I’ll try to write about it this week. For now, pictures will say enough. Most of these are from the race today but the first two are from five years ago and four years ago respectively.  So – without further ado – I admit, I’ve been stalling – the pictures (by the way, for the old pictures you may need to click on them to get the full effect. I couldn’t get them to be any bigger but the smaller versions don’t show the transformation as well.):

James and I shortly after we got engaged.

This is from the summer after we got married when we lead a missions team in Mexico together. Please note that James is covering a part of me. I really don’t have a single picture that shows my whole body. There is a reason for that.

And today:

Here’s Peggy and I getting ready to start – I was so nervous.

Look – I’m running! I’m actually running! Hooray!

Finally at the finish – I ran faster than I normally do – probably because I was so excited – but it just felt so good! I didn’t walk a single step! Yay!

James was trying to get a post-race photo but I was just trying to catch my breath.

We did it! I was so glad to have friends there with me – Peggy and Andrea were so encouraging!

So there it is. Some before and afters. I do think I’ll write some more later about me and my weight but maybe I won’t. For the moment I do want to say that big Jessica up there had a lot of things to be happy about. Even though I wasn’t happy with my body I was happy in a lot of other ways. Being healthy today doesn’t make me happy – it just adds to my happiness.