Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Five: Things I'm Loving Friday

So, this is a new thing for me, but I'm really getting interested in sharing what I love with the world. Do I think that people pay attention to what I have to say? Not really, but no one ever really has. It's shocking when I'm not talking to hear myself (or writing to read myself).

Mike's Hard Lemonade in Blood Orange

Blood orange is a seasonal flavor, and it goes down so so SO smooth! I mean, it's hard lemonade. It's not like you're trying to knock back scotch, but I generally don't care for alcohol in general. This was so delicious. I'm looking forward to enjoying it on our patio, by our little pool this summer. It's been a nice post-work treat. Honestly, I think I only drink in the summer. 


When Calls The Heart

Oh, my heart. This show. It was a little slow to start, but it's definitely growing on me. It's been added to Netflix, and I really hope season 2 is available On Demand, because this is filling the period piece void in my life. I'm a huge fan of books and movies like this. Always have been. It's reminiscent of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Christy, and Anne of Green Gables (which, we already know I love).

It tells the story of an affluent teacher that moves to a coal mining town to teach, inadvertently gets on the bad side of the town constable (who was being a total asshat to her for no good reason), and how she wins over both him, and the rest of the town. I've always loved Jeanette Oke, ever since second grade when my teacher read us several of her children's books, and I've become a fan well into adulthood. Love!

Season 2 is on Saturdays on Hallmark Channel.

The Avengers, Agent Carter, Agents of SHIELD

I was never really a Marvel nerd until the Marvel Cinematic Universe created this large, beautiful story, weaving the lives of several people together in order to save the world from those that want to hurt it. My favorite is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but they're all pretty damn amazing. I'm a massive Captain America nerd, and when Agent Carter came out and was renewed for a second season, I was incredibly thankful.We need more heroines like Peggy Carter on TV. And the world needs more gentlemen like Captain Steve Rogers. Dang it, he's adorable.

Agents of SHIELD is another show that was a little hard to get into at first, but it's addicting, especially when you watch it along with the MCU, and see the big picture of what they're trying to create. This last season was full of twists and turns that I wasn't ever expecting. Just absolutely insane.


Jamberry Butterfly Effect Wraps

We know I'm a Jamberry fiend consultant, but I've been having a hard time finding Jamicures that I love. Well, I decided to do all my nails with  Butterfly Effect, and I honestly really love how it looks. I've always thought Monarch Butterflies were beautiful. 

A bit overexposed, but still nice.
A few years ago, at the Omaha Zoo, there was a documentary called Flight of the Butterflies in 3D, and to date, it's the only documentary that's made me cry. And I've seen some doozies! My dream one day is to build a butterfly garden. If you awtch the documentary, you'll know why. I HIGHLY recommend it.



This cat. I tell you. I was concerned that she was going to be mad that I left her for three days last weekend. But she's been nothing but loving ever since I got back. We've got kind of a fun night time ritual going on this week. I hang out in my room, watching a couple episodes of When Calls the Heart, and she comes in, vying for my attention. She's not much of a snuggler, but she LOVES the laser pointer. She runs around after it until she's tired, then she comes to me and cuddles close. It's a new stage, and I'm thankful for it. Love my girl. <3

  • What are you loving this week?
  • Any products I should try?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3 Ways to Make Money Fast

Since my last post about giving up my money troubles to God, I've been doing a lot of thinking on how to save and earn more money. Sadly, it's on my mind a lot more than I think it should be, but this week a lot is coming due, so I'm getting really anxious.

Sell Old Movies or Music

As a teenager or even young adult in college, the thought of selling movies or music was like giving away my children. I bought TONS of media from this place in Columbia, MO called Slackers, and my movie collection grew a lot. Not my music collection as much, because I'm particular about my tunes, but I bought a LOT of movies back in the day.

When I need money, I usually go through my vast array, and weed out the movies I don't really like, don't usually watch, or have more than one copy of (True story). It's not a huge money making scheme, but if you need a few extra dollars to put in your emergency fund, it's not a bad way to do it. $2-$3 can add up over time. 

Give Plasma Locally

If you're in reasonable health and can handle needles, giving Plasma is a great way to help out the medical community, and make money doing it. 

Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood, carrying red and white blood cells to different parts of your body to help keep you fit and healthy. The plasma can be used in medicine, as an alternative to saline solution (Ever watch Grey's Anatomy or ER and they ask for saline solution, which are the clear bags on IV stands? It's basically salt water to help replenish fluids). 

Plasma is a lot like giving blood for the red cross, except once they've stuck your arm with a needle, it goes through a centrifuge to separate the plasma from the blood cells. The red blood cells are mixed with saline solution, and pumped back into your body. It's not that uncomfortable, and aside from a bit time consuming, if you get into a good habit of going to give, you can make a decent side income.

Back in 2007, gas prices in the midwest were nearing $4/gallon, and despite working several hours a week at my call center job, the money wasn't there. I started giving Plasma for gas money, which became almost lifesaving for me. Back then, they paid in cash, Nowadays, places like OctaPharma (where I've given in the past) use a Visa Debit card to load your money, and you can use it anywhere Visa is accepted. I used it on the Disney Dream back in 2011. 

For more information on how Plasma can be used, check out OctaPharma's website.

Online Options

These take a bit longer, but if you do them consistently, they could certainly add up. Swagbucks and Inbox Dollars both have search engines that let you earn money by doing searches, and they also have surveys you can do to earn a little bit on the side in the form of points, which you can trade for gift cards. This would be a good thing to do throughout the year if you want to save up money for Christmas. Like I said, not much, but if done consistently, it'll add up. I'm still working on the consistent thing. 

Inbox Dollars also lets you earn money by reading emails, and taking part in offers. I don't usually do that option, because I hate getting spam, but if you're not as annoyed by it as me, then it could be a good option for you.

If you're really not in a hurry, but want to get money back on your everyday purchases, Ebates is probably a great option for you. Depending on what specials they're having, and how much your order, you can get a decent amount back. They even have travel deals, which I'm hoping to use when I buy plane tickets for my trip this summer. I've only earned $5 and some change back, but I installed the Ebates button on my browser, so when I'm on a site with an online shopping option, it starts glowing to let me know I can earn money back. 

I hope this gives you some ideas to build off of when looking for options to earn money. I know I'll be more aware of what I can do to get myself out of debt. It's a slow process, but Dave Ramsey said to do whatever you need to do to build your emergency fund, and pay off that debt with gazelle intensity. 

Post contains afflilate links, which earn me money or points when you sign up.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blog Hop!

I rarely participate in Blog Hops, which is something I really want to remedy in 2015. I want to meet new people, read more blogs, and hopefully can encourage others to pull out of their shells to reach out into the Blogosphere.

Without Further Ado:

We are super happy on how our blog hop is growing and how many bloggers linked up last week. We are so thankful for you guys being part of it.


This week we have two new cohosts:

If you're interested in cohosting with us please fill this form out here.

Rules of the Blog Hop

1. FOLLOW YOUR HOST(S) & COHOST(S) - via GFC or Bloglovin

Classy, Sassy & a Bit Smartassy

Monday, May 18, 2015

Giving It Up To God: My Personal Debt Hell

Money is an ugly topic to those who don't have it, a rude topic for those who are working on fixing their money problems, or beautiful to those for whom it's not an issue. I'm currently in the first category.

I'm in a bad place with money right now. I took Financial Peace University with my sister at our church last year, and learned a lot about how I spend money. In fact, I switched a lot of my bills around so that I was able to have more per month to spend and save.

Spending, I'm great at. Saving, not so much. SmartyPig has made it easier, and I've saved for two cruises on this program, but that's kid stuff compared to what Dave Ramsey (and I) wants me to do.

Buckle up, kids. This is gonna be long, but hopefully informative.

My First Savings Account

When I was eleven, I got my first job, which was a paper route around my neighborhood. I made about $70/month to start, but within two years, I was up to $80/month. When you're a pre-teen that's actually a lot of money.

My dad took me down to the First National Bank to set up a Savings Account with my very first paycheck, and told me the importance of saving. I got a little red book with a register inside, where I watched my balance of half of my paycheck grow every other week. My dad told me to save half of every paycheck, and then I was able to spend the rest on anything I wanted (BOOKS!). My first big purchase was a TV/VCR combo when I was in 7th grade, that I took with me to college. Do you know how many times I watched Titanic on that thing? Too many to count.

Sadly, it started to stay vacant after I quit the paper route for after school stuff (I was without a job of any kind from the time I was in 7th Grade to 10th), I wish I'd learned money management and saved for college when I was in high school. It probably would've saved me a lot of pain in college, and now.

A Collegiate Crisis

When I was in college, I failed two classes that wouldn't be offered again until the year after I was supposed to graduate. I was working almost full time, plus going to school full time, and was crashing and burning. I used student loans to stay in school an additional year, which was absolutely the dumbest thing I could've done. If I could do it all over again, I would've gone to state school (Thanks a bit too late, Rachel Cruze), but in that situation right then and there, I would've stayed living on campus, then I wouldn't have had to worry about groceries, rent, utilities, or excessive driving to and from school. I only lived ten minutes away, but it racked up. 

In 2007, I stopped working at HyVee, where I'd worked since 2003, and started working in a call center. This job was better for many reasons, but one of those reasons was that I got my books for free (correction. I *borrowed* my books). I also got to study and do my homework during my downtime, of which there was a lot for all but four months of the year. 

If I'd been smarter, I would've opened up a savings account. Any kind of savings account, to help pay off my tuition for the following year. The thought absolutely NEVER occurred to me. I'm embarrassed to admit this now, but we all have mistakes that we learn from.

I attended college during the time when they gave loans to everyone for everything, and college got really expensive. Because of living off campus, and failing two classes, I lost two of my scholarships, which were worth $1,000-$1,500 each semester. I tried to get them back after raising my grades and moving back to campus, but was turned down. If there's any advice I would give students starting college, it would be work your butt off to keep those scholarships NO MATTER WHAT.

I don't know the full extent of my student loan debt, because my school convinced us to take out Parent PLUS loans, which my family consolidated (they're with my sister's loans, too), but there is about $20k in my own name. I'm trying to fix this.

Jumping Into Debt, Climbing a Mountain of Uncertainty

I was like a lot of college kids of my generation. I didn't think about the loans I was taking out, because all I focused on was the now. I figured when I graduated, I'd find an epic job, and basically be Jennifer Garner in 13 Going On 30. It's amazing how naive you let yourself be. I jumped into my new life in college believing that I was going to make my dreams come true. The last thing my mom said to me before she and dad got in their car to go home when they drove me to school was to go make them come true. We all believed it would happen. 

When I was in school, I asked numerous people numerous times when I would learn to submit work to publishing houses, what the protocol was, how I could find them, even how to submit work to theaters or production companies for film. There was no class on the business of writing, on how we, as writers, can work to achieve all we can. I graduated not knowing anything about what the future would hold for me. It was like getting ready to jump off a cliff. And I'm afraid of heights.

When I graduated, I didn't learn how to handle my student loans, I had debts that needed to be nipped in the bud, and I needed to figure out how to stay out of debt. Problem was, as soon as one was taken care of, something else popped up. I paid off and cancelled my Best Buy Rewards Master Card. I went to the dentist, learned of several cavities that needed fixing (that I later learned were probably just weak spots), and was coerced into getting a credit card through them to pay it off. I swear, these people see me coming.

When I bought my car, it was out of necessity. My sister and I worked at the same place for about a year before she decided to move away, and I needed a way to get to work. So, I bought a car, and have been paying three hundred dollars a month since January 2012. Life freaking happens.

Learning to Take Charge

As I said, in the start of 2014, my sister and I went to the second round of Financial Peace University given at my church. Dave Ramsey is a hilarious speaker with a lot of good sense when it comes to money management, because he's been there.

I started to take my spending into deep consideration, and I realized that I spent a lot of my money on fast food, and didn't do any kind of tracking. I had no idea where my money was going, like at all.

I've tried to budget my money, but it's something I'm still working on. It's difficult, but doable, if I'm consistent. I just haven't been consistent.

The last several months have been easier, thanks in part to Jamberry. I did extremely well the first couple months, which made my money go further, but I still have creditors calling me, and they're getting somewhat relentless. That's why I've written this blog. I want to chronicle my journey out of debt. I've got a game plan. I've started budgeting my money with Dave Ramsey's new online budgeting tool,, and I'm trying to wrap my head around using cash for everything except bills and gas.

My Game Plan

This is what I'm working on. 
  • Begin tithing 10% of my take home pay every pay period. 
    • I am a Christian, and have been taught my entire life that God asks for 10%. It's an act of obedience, and one I've neglected for most of my life. Speaking to others who've done FPU, they're always amazed to see that when you pay your tithe, your still manage to have money left over to manage your bills. I don't see this as a magic trick, but when you add giving into your monthly budget, you'll always be able to handle your finances. 
  • Save up quickly for my $1,000 emergency fund. 
    • Start doing whatever it takes to get there. Even look into giving plasma again. It was easy money.
  • Write down all of my purchases in EveryDollar. 
  • Look for discounts when grocery shopping.
  • Eat out less. 
    • I'm doing Visalus, so the money I was sending to restaurants should be replaced by my Vi shakes every month. 
  • Look into trading my car for something with lower payments. 
    • I'm paying $300/month for a POS Kia right now. Do you know how much debt I could pay off if my payment was even HALF that?!
It's a start. I will try to give monthly updates on how I'm doing, and how I'm working my way through Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps. It'll take awhile, and a lot of hard work. I'm hoping to get a raise at work, which would be absolutely amazing. Pair that with getting a different car (which, would hopefully have lower car insurance), and I think I could really start to save some money. 
  • Prayers are always appreciated in this endeavor!
  • What are your best money savings tips?
  • Any idea how to get rid of a car you're still paying on?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ode to Gil: Remembering Jonathan Crombie

It's been two weeks, but the absence is still there. There's still a bit of a dark cloud when I think back on favorite books and movies of my adolescence.

Two weeks ago, actor Jonathan Crombie, best known for playing academic foil and love interest Gilbert Blythe in the Canadian Miniseries, Anne of Green Gables, and two of its sequels, passed away. He was 48 years young.

You might be asking me, "Becky, what is this? Celebrity deaths shouldn't have this kind of affect on you, unless they were SUPER famous!" and you'd be wrong to tell me that. Gilbert -- I mean Jonathan -- was special to many people in the world, because of the character he portrayed, and also the kind of person he was. 

Gilbert Blythe was the cocky, handsome popular guy who had his eye on Anne Shirley from the moment they met at a church picnic in the early chapters of the novel, and was one of the few characters in literature who learned his lesson on how to treat people early on. He flirted with Anne at the picnic, and then at school, pulled her hair and called her carrots, hoping to get attention. Attention he got, but not the kind he wanted. He got a slate broken over his head, and saw a temper of which he'd never see again. From that day on, Gil was remorseful, and wanted nothing more than to treat Anne with the respect she knew she deserved.

When I first read these books when I was fifteen (I read all of them in probably two months). I wasn't ready to be thinking of marriage by any means, but you'd better believe that his characteristics (after the hair-pulling slate incident) are something that I still look for in a man, and I feel like they're characteristics that aren't that prevalent anymore.

He was:
  • Intelligent. He and Anne were academic rivals for their entire adolescence, and this rivalry drove them both to be better. 
  • Caring. He gave up a job at the local school so that Anne could stay with her adopted mother, Marilla, who was going blind.
  • Driven. He wants to be a doctor. He could've taken over his father's farm, but I think knowing Anne helped him realize that medicine was the true future for him. 
  • Funny. He helps reign in Anne's melodramatics, and shows her the funny in everyday life. 
  • Keeps it real. When Anne wrote her first novel (and kind of became a laughing stock), he explained to her that most people like stories they can relate to. She was pissed when he told her, but she eventually got it. 
Long story short, he's the kind of respectful guy that every woman should aim high for. I know I do (which probably explains why I'm still single).

Found on Pinterest, but this fits so WELL!
Okay, that's all well and good, but what does this have to do with Jonathan Crombie?

Jonathan did more than play the part of Gilbert on screen four times (Three movies, one episode of the Road to Avonlea series). He embodied this role to the point where I believe he was the kind of man LM Montgomery had in mind when she penned the character of Gilbert Blythe. Plus, he knew the affect his performance had on the fans, and was so happy to talk with them. Many actors WISH they had the lasting appeal that Jonathan had with Gilbert. 

Upon his death, his sister stated that he treasured the role for his entire life. When I found out about it, I honestly felt like I lost a friend. As a writer, you have these ideas of who you want to portray your characters on the chance that they get made into movies. I had a primo spot for him in my Spy Sisters  series. I'll probably continue to use him as a model in my brain as a way of keeping him alive in my mind.

2008 Touring Production of
"The Drowsy Chaperone"
I like to think that we would've been good friends, had we ever gotten to meet. Plus, he was on my list of men I'd like to sing a duet with. Knowing I won't get to sing with him is almost as heartbreaking as knowing I'll never get to meet him. 

It sounds as though he lived a good life, and even better, he made many people happy. He even helped shape an entire generation's idea of love and companionship (or, if he hasn't, he needs to). Google Jonathan Crombie, and read comments people have left upon hearing of his death. It's extremely heartwarming to see how beloved he was to the world.

Also, check out the Buzzfeed Tribute. Heartwarming, and I am not ashamed to say I cried.

Goodbye, Jonathan. Rest in Peace knowing you touched so many lives.