#Christmas #onaBudget

Being a student during the holiday season is stressful enough because of finals but to add Christmas presents op top of that? Equals stress to the max!!! We all want to be able to not only get good grades but to be able to afford presents. Unfortunately, for most of us college students we want to buy presents for all of our loved ones but our budgets don’t match our wishlist….

That’s why last year I decided to give it a go to do a D.I.Y. present style!

Pinterest was literally my best friend for the whole month of December. I searched and searched until I could find an idea that was practical and something that I could realistically make on a budget.

My first encounter was the D.I.Y. coffee mugs.

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They turned out to be so cute! It was my first attempt to ever do something like this but I figured might as well try it out. The process of making things did take some time so make sure you plan accordingly.

I made coffee mugs for all of my immediate family members and my close friends. The website I provided just does a simple design of a letter but I wanted to make these mugs fun and personal. For each mug I found a joke online that made me think of them and I decorated  each one according to the theme of the joke.

My next thought was, wouldn’t it be cute if I stuffed the mugs with some homemade dessert?

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So I found a recipe online  for a candied pecan recipe. I chose this dessert because most of my family lives in Florida and I wanted to make sure that they would last through the long travels.

I doubled up the recipe and stuffed them in goodies bags with holiday themed ribbon to make cute bows. The dessert turned out so tasty that I made an extra batch for the house!!

After that set I wanted to give them just one more thing, so I thought of what does every use that I could make personal?

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That’s when I thought coasters!! I saw it on Pinterest and I knew that would be pretty cheap and fun to make. The longest part about this project was choosing the pictures! It was hard to narrow it down to 4 photos that you wanted to share with the person you’re giving it to.

In the end they turned out a lot better than I had anticipated. They’re durable and have already lasted one year so far! I actually use one of my fiancee’s coaster all the time for my night stand.

I hope this brought some relief to your worries! Pinterest is a lifesaver when it comes to ideas for D.I.Y. projects.

A meal Under $15 for two

I wanted to provide for you an option on what to do when it comes to cooking for yourself or if you live with other people, how to eat something healthy and delicious but on a budget. Here is one meal that I love to make that is simple and delicious!

Stuffed Chicken with Couscous and Kale

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Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 small package of Goat cheese or cream cheese – whichever you prefer
  • 3 table spoons Pesto
  • Couscous – any brand will do, just look in pasta isle for a cheap box of it.
  • Kale
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 Baby Bella mushrooms
  • 1 whole carrot

 

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Mix together goat cheese or cream cheese and pesto together in small bowl, then set aside
  • Wash chicken breasts and place on cutting board. Cut a pocket into the chicken breasts thats located right in the middle so you are able to easily stuff the cheese mix inside
  • Once you have successfully cut the pocket, stuff the chicken breasts with the cheese mixture, distribute evenly.
  • Liberally salt and pepper the outside of each chicken breast
  • Oil a baking pan big enough to fit both chicken breasts; once the oven is ready place the chicken in the oven and set a timer for 15-25 minutes depending on how large the chicken is.
  • Make sure to check on the chicken halfway through the time to estimate if they need longer or not; temperature for chicken should be 165 degrees no less!!
  • While the chicken is cooking wash the Kale and cut or rip into bit size pieces; set aside
  • Never wash mushrooms, just gently wipe them with a dry paper towel; they are very porous and soak in a lot of moisture.
  • Was your carrot and shave off outside layer
  • Slice up 2 garlic cloves, not too small, the more chopped the stronger the flavor.
  • chop up into small pieces your mushrooms and carrots; set aside.
  • In a  large skillet (make sure you have a cover for it) heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic, and let it simmer for 1 min.
  • Add in the Kale and red wine vinegar, and start sautéing
  • Once the kale starts to cook down cover with the lid and continue to check on it for the next 5-6 minutes.
  • As the kale is cooking, start boiling up water in the pot for your couscous.
  • Once the water is ready add in your couscous and let it cook for however long the box says.
  • After Kale is finished set aside and use the same skillet to sauté your mushrooms and carrots until tender
  • After the couscous is finished toss it together with the sautéed carrot and mushrooms.
  • Chicken should be finished after 25 minutes the most, let it sit for 5 minutes, and then enjoy!!

Poll Results

So the turn out for my poll ended up not so great… I only had 2 people actually answer the poll, as you can see below:

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I think my results turned out flat because of how I originally had my website formatted. It was difficult to find where it was exactly located. I just recently updated my page and now the poll is easy to find so hopefully I will get more results later on.

On that note, I have learned that I should make my web page more easily accessible for my viewers. In order for my message to reach out to everyone I need to promote my poll in a different way.

I am calling out to anyone who is reading this now to please take my quick poll that is located on the left side down towards the middle of the page. With more feedback I will be able to understand more how people are experiencing their debt situation.

Stress Relief: 10 Ways to De-Stress Your Life

Stressing is never a good look for anyone. That’s why I want to help you and share my ways of how I let go of stress.

1. Eat Breakfast!!

Eating breakfast is so important! It’s how you are going start your day. Do you wanna be hangry for most of the day or do you want to feel healthy and energized? I’m pretty sure that’s a no brainer but so many people skip breakfast, don’t be one of those people! Eating breakfast enriches you with vitamins, cognitive health, and helping to have a longer life.

2. Any Exercise is Better Than No Exercise

Seriously!! Anything is better than nothing, you can take a walk around the neighborhood or even work out while watching t.v. (yes it’s possible!). It increases your overall health and sense of well-being. It also helps reduce your stress because it pumps up endorphins through your body which leaves you feeling better than you did before and of course keeps your body strong and healthy.

3. Take a Whiff of Peppermint

That’s right peppermint is essential to reducing stress. This scent invigorates the mind and stimulates clear thinking. Smelling peppermint has been proven to help with motivation and overall performance. So get to Sniffin’!

4. Watch the Movie: Step Brothers

Ever heard of “Laughter is the best medicine?”? It’s true, when I am in a cranky mood due to stress I will turn on the t.v. and find a comedy movie to watch.  I like to watch Step Brothers because It keeps me laughing throughout the whole movie. If you have seen this movie then you know how ridiculous this duo is. Laughter is known to relax the body, boost your immune system, is good for your health, and helps lighten anger’s heavy load.

5. There is Always Time for Tea

Green tea is known to helps reduce the damaging impact of stress on the brain. It has chemicals called polyphenols that help calm down your body. Drink up!

6. Are You Getting Enough Zzzz…’s?

Sleep is just as important as breakfast, it sets you up for success the next day. If you don’t end up getting enough sleep, the next day you will feel like your stuck in a fog and not function correctly. Some people loose sleep due to stress, but if you follow the steps it will lead you to “Sleeping like a baby.”

7. Find Your Happy Place

Meditating is another way to escape from stress to calm your mind and body down. To meditate you don’t need a crystal bowl to create calming echoing sounds, you just find something that fits you. The purpose of meditating is to get in-tune with your body and relax. Try and set a few minutes a side everyday for this and you’ll see the reward.

8. Listen to Music

Music has the ability to switch our moods almost instantly. It helps us escape for a moment and just relax to some of our favorite tunes. For me, instrumental music calms me down the most but honestly whatever you find relaxing will do the trick. So when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed just put on some headphones and mentally cruise away.

9. Hangout with Friends and Family

Studies have proven that being around people who you care about and who care about you help reduce stress levels. Personally, when I’m stressed out hanging out with my fiancee and friends is just the cure I need. They help you socialize and express your tension and give you that feeling of relief that everything will be ok. Go see your best bud!

10. Breathe!!!!

When your stress levels are at an ultimate high, take a step back and just breathe. Studies have shown that concentrating on your breathing lowers your stress levels which brings you into a relaxation mode. Next time when you’re feeling like you want to destroy everything, just remember to simply breathe.

 

A Negative into a Positive

The Inevitable Debt

Student loans… You are like the opposite of the loving Sour Patch Kids candy, you’re sweet at first and then finish off sour!!

Growing up as a Millennial I have experienced all the major financial issues and now I am having to pay for my whole college career while living on my own. At first, I wanted to pay for it with all of my own money but as each year went by, prices just kept getting higher to the point that I had to borrow money. As a student when you see the word ‘loan’ it makes you nervous but when you see how much money they will give you up front you’re all about it. Unfortunately, most loan advisors will not stress about what happens AFTER college, most just say worry about that later… Well now it’s about to be later and I am freaking out in my mind! But when there is a negative there is always a positive!!

In an article I read it states, “Students should be instructed on the simple basics of budgeting, personal finance, and the difference between wants vs. needs, so that all borrowing is kept to a minimum.”(Article 1) That would have been nice to be guided like that 9 years ago but I am hoping to achieve for you that we can do this without cramping your lifestyle. We don’t want to have to continue to stress and let our loans control our lives like this respondent from an ASA Survey from 2013,“My goal in life is to be happy, work hard, and be free. I wake up every day and I think about my loans. My student loan debt is such an oppressive obstacle to my happiness and freedom, that I feel like I can’t start living my life until I’m 35, when I pay off my loans. And even then, I’ll need to take out more loans to earn a master’s degree to earn more money.”(Article 1)

As we are continuing this path of inevitable debt, we are going to have to accept it and start finding ways to work with it.”Retirement is something many look forward to and has a positive connotation. It shows that the time and hard work you put into your job is now allowing you to relax and enjoy the ride. With loans, retirement can no longer be as relaxing. You will be giving more money to your loans and less into your retirement fund.”(Article 2) I don’t and I am sure you don’t want this stat to become a reality.

I know that saying staying positive and finding solutions is easier said than done. So that’s why I am going to help all of us out and start finding ways to make this happen!

Throughout this blog series I am going to provide helpful solutions as well as fun day-to-day living like cooking, drinks, and activities that will help you manage your money without really having to think about that you’re actually saving! I don’t want to look back 30 years from now and see that phase of my life was miserable because of loans and I am sure you don’t want that either. Life is going to continue to have struggles, ups and downs, and we have to be able to teach ourselves how to work with it so our lives stay happy.

I hope my Blogs will give you hope and inspire you to make sure you enjoy life even with the endeavors that come along with it. It’s cliche but you only live once (yolo!) and we will make sure we will live it the best we can!

❤ Amber

Article 1:http://www.asa.org/site/assets/files/3793/life_delayed.pdf

Article 2: https://goodbyestudentloansnet.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/the-effects-of-student-loans/

My Personal Experience with Debt

Finding ways to live with debt stress-free is challenging but it is possible! You just have to stay optimistic and motivated. Here is my personal story of how I managed with debt and life while being a student.

 

 

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When I first decided to go to college it was at my local community college in Florida called Hillsborough Community College. My first two semesters there I was able to pay for each class with my own money as I was working two jobs at Steak n’ Shake and Red Lobster. As the following semesters came along prices for each credit hour for classes continued to rise at an alarming rate. It came to the point where I had to sit down with my financial advisor and ask to apply for a student loan. I was very reluctant to apply for a loan but I came to a point in my life where if I don’t do this then I may end up being a server for forever… and I don’t want that. So I applied for a loan and got approved and was able to continue my college career.

 

 

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As time went on I graduated with my Associates Degree and decided to move to Colorado. Before I was allowed to continue towards my Bachelor’s Degree I had to wait a year to gain my residency. During the waiting period I decided to work a lot and just save up as much as I could.

 

 

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After the year of waiting I was able to apply for colleges and I got accepted to the University of Colorado Denver but the cost for tuition was way out of my budget. So once again, I spoke with financial advisors and applied for more student loans in order to continue my college career.

 

 

 

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It was just until last semester when I questioned, “how much student debt do I have?” Once I saw the numbers, my stomach dropped and then the stress ball began to grow. I kept thinking to myself, “how am I ever going to pay this off? I don’t even know if I will get a high paying job when I leave. I’m in a pickle.” I just continued to stress over it bad, and even came to the point where I questioned if having this much student debt is worth having the piece of paper saying I have been to college.

I started to realize that I was starting to become extremely negative and that’s when I told myself, “ENOUGH!” I can’t undo what debt I have already collected but what I can do is make sure that I can find positive solutions. It is worth having a degree, If I didn’t continue college I would have looked back years later asking myself, “why did I give up?” I can’t let that fear control the knowledge and experiences that I want to have. I can find ways to manage this debt and still be able to live my life without that nagging feeling of stress.

 

 

So I began to budget, find hobbies, balance work and school, and become optimistic. I have been finding ways to do things that I enjoy doing when I have free time, being appreciative for what I do have, and learn how to manage stress. I know all of this sounds easier said than done, but it is possible! You just have to be willing to let yourself do it!

 

 

 

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I encourage everyone to try and find a way to manage stress. I understand that you will never make stress obsolete but there are ways to bring it down low enough to where it is not affecting who you are and living your life. You can budget and still do most of things you want to do. Denver is the perfect place for it! This city has so many fun places and free events to go to! Personally for me, I enjoy golfing, making drinks, and cooking.

 

 

 

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If I can find ways to balance happiness in my life then so can you! You just have to let yourself know that you deserve it!