I’ve been using Vital Proteins collagen since 2015 to help me live my most vibrant life. From strong hair to healthy joints, collagen is staple supplement for my overall wellness. Over the past 5 years, I’ve used their collagen in powder form, so you can imagine my excitement when I heard they were launching Collagen Bars.
These collagen bars have become quite a staple in my healthy lifestyle, so I want to share with you..
are the bars more beneficial than powder
a breakdown of the nutrition label
how/when I use them
flavor reviews (so you can find the ones that best suit your taste buds)
BENEFITS: COLLAGEN BARS VS POWDER
If you’re interested on a detailed post on what I noticed after taking collagen consistently for 90 days, read THIS. To recap: collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It can be found almost every within the body, such as skin, hair, nails ligaments, tendons, digestive tract, etc. As we age, our natural collagen production decreases, so it’s up to us to obtain collagen through dietary and supplemental forms.
The most popular form of collagen is in powder form; THIS is the one I most often take because it’s flavorless and odorless, so I mix it right into my smoothies or coffee.
The Vital Protein’s collagen bars are a total market disruptor. They are equally beneficial because the deliver the same amount of collagen: 12 grams per bar. However, I personally find the bars provided added benefits. There is a total of 16-17 grams of protein per bar. I eat a high-protein diet so any bit of added protein I can find, I take. The bars pack 6-8 grams of fiber, which is beneficial for digestion and feeling full and satisfied. Plus, it’s actually FOOD! There are very few supplements you can actually eat and enjoy; these bars make for the perfect meal addition or snack.
NUTRITION LABEL: WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A BAR
Not all bars are created equal. I’m not usually a bar person because I have high standards and there aren’t a lot of options out there.
Here are a few of my bar rules:
PROTEIN – must deliver a minimum of 10 grams
SUGAR – maximum of 5 grams of sugar
INGREDIENTS – recognizable; if I don’t know what’s in it, I don’t eat it
TEXTURE – cannot be chalky
TASTE – I have to enjoy it or I’ll simply pass + pick another option
The Vital Proteins collagen bars offer 16-17 grams of protein depending on the specific bar and have 4 grams of sugar or less. The ingredients are all ones you will be familiar with. The texture couldn’t be further from a traditional, chalky protein bar. These are moist (sorry, does that word disgust you?! my husband can’t stand it lol) and incredibly flavorful. I’ll outline the flavor details below.
HOW + WHEN I ENJOY THE COLLAGEN BARS
There is no best time to take a collagen supplement or collagen bar. I find that consistency is key with collagen, so however you can best work it into your daily schedule will be the best for you. The 2 ways I most often enjoy:
1) WITH BREAKFAST – I’m a quick and easy breakfast girl, especially during the work week. I’ve been breaking my fast with these bars a lot lately. I always keep some in my tote bag and I’ll eat them on the way home from the gym.
2) AFTERNOON SNACK – I love the chocolatey collagen bars as an afternoon snack or honestly, I’ll even have a few bites after dinner when I’m craving something sweet.
VITAL PROTEINS COLLAGEN BARS – FLAVOR REVIEW
Overall, I would say these bars are nice and chewy. They are tasty but not too sweet. You really taste the natural flavors of each one… the chocolate ones definitely have a candy bar feel and the fruity ones give you a real, fresh fruit flavor.
CHOCOLATE ALMOND SEA SALT
I have 2 favorites for different reasons and this is one of the two. In the afternoons, I always crave a little something sweet. I typically enjoy a Trader Joe’s dark chocolate caramel along. I started having these bars and they truly give you a chocolate candy bar satisfaction. I love the hint of sea salt in these!
This is the second of my two favorite flavors. It reminds me of a lemon poppyseed muffin. It’s not too lemony. It’s definitely not too vanilla-y. It’s a very fresh taste, which I most often enjoy in the morning.
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE
This is my husband’s favorite. He says it tastes like a Reese’s peanut butter cup. If you like peanut butter, this is the one for you.
These offer a fresh fruit flavor… strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and blackberry. It is unbelievable how fruity a bar can actually be. It kind of reminds me of a fruit roll up in a bar form.
We are HUGE Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie lovers. This flavor will remind you of that! It has that cool minty taste and is followed up by a delicious chocolate flavor. This one definitely curbs my sweet tooth cravings!
Again, this one packs a fresh fruit flavor and if you’re someone who likes both fruit and lemon, this is going to be your favorite! It’s like a lemon fruit cake.
COLLAGEN BAR SUMMARY
When you’re looking at a protein bar, I would definitely review some of my “rules”: high protein, low sugar, natural ingredients and most importantly, be sure you enjoy it. The Vital Proteins Collagen Bars check all the boxes for me, and hopefully this flavor guide helps you with choosing which one you will enjoy first. You could also try out their variety pack to sample one of each.
If there are any other supplements you’d like to see more in depth reviews on, please feel free to comment those below!
*thank you to Vital Proteins for sponsoring this post
The harsh fact is that 8% of people stick to their new year’s resolutions. Shocking; yet again, if you asked me each December what my resolutions for that year were, I don’t know that I would even remember. This year, I am dedicated to doing something about each goal I set. I plan on checking in on my goals at the end of each month for accountability. Hopefully, I’ll have some sort of action step for each of the goals I set. Of course, I’ll share them here.
HERE is the post I did on 20 goals I hope to accomplish in 2020 if you didn’t catch that post. I set goal in several different categories, so let’s see what I accomplished this first month.
1. 5 AM WAKE UP TIME
I’ve always been big on a morning routine. Having 2 kids under the age of 2 this year, I completely lost my mornings. Once my baby, Beckham began sleeping through the night, I decided my alarm would go off at 5 AM each day. After a short yet satisfying morning routine, I get in a workout or 2 hours of work before my boys wake up at 7 AM. It’s been amazing and I plan to keep this up in 2020.
January – at the end of 2019, my 5 AM alarm turned into waking up to the alarm of my 2 little boys ~7am, so I am slowly working it back up an am currently at 5:45 AM
One of my mom’s many strengths is her thoughtfulness. Everyone around her knows her for it: if you’re having a bad day, expect a Starbucks gift card in your email. I had smiley faces on my fruit for morning snacks and notes in my lunchbox growing up. She always goes the extra mile for others and that is something she instilled within me. I want to heighten that trait of mine. My goal is to go out of my way to bring about happiness just 1x per day for someone else.
January – I can think of several times I consciously thought to do this; I’m not doing this on a daily basis yet but I’m definitely aware of being more thoughtful
3. REGULAR SKIN MAINTENANCE
This year, I want to establish a professional skincare regimen. I did a great job this year of at home skincare and want to take it a step further. I’m going to be looking into regular facials and maybe even microneedling and/or laser treatments.
January – I got a facial w/ a special hydrating treatment for my birthday
4. STRAIGHTEN + WHITEN MY TEETH 😀
While we are on the superficial stuff… I had braces and like so many others, I did not keep up with my retainers. My teeth have shifted and I said I would do invisalign for years but…. babies and life… you know how that goes. This is the year I’ll do something about it: straighter + whiter.
January – an incredibly sweet LG Sister reached out regarding potentially partnering on my smile journey (what!!)
5. INCREASE MY PHYSICAL STRENGTH
I am so impressed with where I’ve taken my body over this past year, and I look forward to going even further with my workouts. I want to challenge myself with weight this year to increase my overall strength. It’s just such a bada$$ feeling, you know what I mean?!
2019 was a tough year for me. In going through challenging times, I had to focus on myself and my family to deal with what was at hand. I feel like I lost my patience in the process. At my core, I am a very patient person so to see myself having a short fuse is hard for me to witness. Little things like standing in a long line at the store and wanting to roll my eyes or not allowing my kids to be as slow as they are… I just was not as patient as I could be this year. It felt icky. This is something I want to improve in 2020.
January – I haven’t taken any proactive steps here
FAMILY + RELATIONSHIPS
7. GUILT FREE CHILDCARE
I have a good amount of childcare from a part-time nanny to gym day care and family that helps out. 95% of the time, I use this childcare when I’m working, which I don’t feel guilty about. However, when I use childcare so that I can go enjoy myself, I feel guilty. So, I usually only sneak away for a mani during naptime or we wait until after bedtime for date night. I know that the happier I am personally, the happier I am as a wife and mother, so this year, I am committing to not feel guilty about accepting help with my kids.
January – boys had a sleepover at my parents + I completely enjoyed the time guilt free
8. MORE TRAVEL (especially with friends + without kids)
I look forward to traveling more this upcoming year. In 2019, taking 2 kids under the age of 2 on vacations wasn’t exactly relaxing; we did it twice but it was a lot of work. This upcoming year, we plan to take a few family trips but also want to prioritize traveling as a couple and with friends. I’ve been thinking about a Paris/London trip.
January – talking about some upcoming trip destination + timing
9. WISCONSIN SUMMERS
This past year, we celebrated Leo’s 2nd birthday back home in Wisconsin where Anthony and I grew up and many of our friends and family still live. It was the Midwest summers we experienced as kids: lake life, running around a big backyard, bonfires, etc. We left knowing that we wanted to spend a good part of our future summers in Wisconsin. Ultimately, I would love to purchase a lake house or cabin in northern Wisconsin when we land on an exact location. For 2020, we hope to rent a home for a good chunk of the summer.
January – we picked a location!
10. STEP UP MY WIFE GAME
Kids change your marriage: in wonderful ways as well as in challenging ways. Personally, each year that we welcomed a baby, our relationship took a back seat. This year included. I think that is pretty common but this year, I want to become a better wife. I want to be a better listener. I want to get more interested in my husband’s interests… lately, he is very outdoorsy. I want to make more time for our relationship. My husband and I are truly best friends and this year I want to get back to the fun, teenage relationship we began our journey with.
January – I guess I would have to ask Anthony but one thing I am working on my mindset: not looking as much on what he isn’t doing and instead focusing on all the many, many things he does
11. SMART MONEY MOVES >>>
2019 was the year Anthony and I got our finances in check. Majorly… money management, budgets, additional savings accounts, retirement, college funds, investments, etc. I’m only going to touch on this briefly because within the next few weeks, I will share a more detailed blog post because… game changing. This year, we decided even though we made more than ever, we did not need more (and if you agree- you fall into a major minority and can expect to feel resistance in society in getting to your goals). Regardless, we set lofty financial savings and investment goals and are laser focused. We shifted our spending and decided to reinvest in ourselves to set up for an even bigger future. 2020 is the year that a lot of these goals and plans grow greater.
I am going to share more of this in the upcoming year because it’s been one of the greatest things for my marriage and family’s future. I wish money wasn’t such a taboo topic. In 2020, I will do my part to share what is working for me in hopes of it helping you too.
January – shared the first blog post on this (here) + we continued taking huge steps in our personal life
12. MORE IMPACTFUL FINANCIAL DONATIONS
I get so excited to “help a little” that I’ll donate a bit to this and to that and to everything in between. For our Christmas donations this year, we did something different by making impactful donations to people in our lives who really needed it. For example, a family welcoming a new baby but struggling to make ends meet, a family who was being supported by a mom while her husband looked for new work after a career-ending accident, and a woman who left her job to care for her special needs child, starting her own home-based business. With those donations, I felt a huge sense of impact. In 2020, I want to donate time and money where I can see an impact.
Update – ‘Im going to keep this section private (a little odd to talk about what, when, where I am donating? no?!) but I did do something impactful and special in January
13. SPEND LESS, SPLURGE MORE
Sounds odd, right?! I l am product obsessed (as you know!), but I don’t want to become an accumulator. This year, I was to spend less on stuff I “like” and splurge more on things I “love.” Do you know what I mean by that?!
January – no splurges
14. GROW THE LG COMMUNITY
Since I began LG, I primarily focused on creating quality content and programs. I work to serve the women who show up and raise their hands to ask for help. I don’t focus much on growth. I believe so strongly in the sustainable healthy lifestyle my plans provide and quick, effective workouts I have to offer. But, I should focus on growth to allow more women to experience the life-changing effects the plans have had on me and tens of thousands of other women.. This is the year that I am determined to make business moves that grow the LG Community.
January – honestly, I haven’t done anything specific for this
15. LEVELING UP ALL MY OFFERINGS
I love the evolution of life: personally and professionally. I am already hard at work to bring the very best of everything to this community in 2020. I take in feedback. I listen to what you have to say. I make things better. In 2020, this community will experience even better versions of all my offerings.
January – major work on the website + updating all the programs
16. 1 DAY/WEEK = NO WORK
I’ve worked 7 days/week for the past several years. I truly love working, so it doesn’t feel like work. I often think “it’s just 2 hours of emails, writing a post or something simple” BUT I have to view that time spent working as time that I am not giving to my children, especially on the weekends. This year, I am going to *try my best* to take 1 day/week off from working… probably Saturdays.
January – unfortunately, have not stuck to this
17. GET + MORE IMPORTANTLY, STAY ORGANIZED
I always seem to be getting organized. My home is pretty organized. BUT, my struggle is staying organized. This year, I plan to make my organizational systems easier to keep up with. I am also committed to “finding a home” for everything in my house, which is one of the
January – I created a huge organizational action plan; I’ve personally started + received some amazing help from my assistant
18. FALL IN LOVE WITH MY HOME
One of our bigger family decisions this year was regarding moving. We were deciding if we wanted to build a new home better suited for our family. And, where would that be. We decided the best place for our family to be right now is right where we are. Two reasons: 1) we love our life here. My kids play in the cul du sac every day with their neighbor friends. Our neighbors have become friends. A random night turns into a fun night outside. You can’t buy that. 2) we don’t know exactly where we want to be and the best thing you can do sometimes is nothing. SO, in 2020, I am taking all my “I need more storage” and “I would do this, this and this differently” comments about our home and turning them into love. Whether it’s just doing a few decor updates or shifting my perspective, I am going to better love the home I am in and my life here. And, more exciting things coming on this topic!
January – I loved taking down the holiday decor + freshening a few things up
19. REGULAR CHURCH ATTENDANCE
This is a pretty personal one… in 2020, I want to begin going to church again. I can’t believe I’m even saying that because I was raised Catholic, attending Church every Sunday… actually, 2x/week because I went to Catholic schools most of my life and we went every Wednesday as a school. I went to college. Got busy. Moved across the country. Never found the right fit of a Church here in Texas. I’ve always kept my faith but it’s just the act of going to church, being present, part of a spiritual community that I want to get back to. I don’t even have to go every Sunday… maybe 1-2x/month and watch a service on the other days.
January – I found a Church I think I plan to join
For years and years, I did a yoga class 1-2x/week but life… kids… you know the story. There’s something about yoga, particularly the practice of presence and focus on breathing that I miss most. I have to figure out just how to incorporate this but I will.
January – nothing
JANUARY GOAL CHECK IN SUMMARY
I am actually pretty impressed with some of the action steps I took on all of those goals. I am particularly proud of the personal section goals because as a mom, I am never on the top of my priority list, so it feels good to feel good, you know?! Also, I’ve made huge work strides in January. What I actually find more beneficial is seeing the areas I didn’t make much of an impact, so I can dedicate more effort there in February.
Areas to Improve in February:
More Patience + Yoga – I am actually going to tie this into the yoga goal I didn’t do anything about in January. I am going to start with meditation… I think doing a short yoga flow and meditation may help improve my patience. I always feel so centered with a short flow and/or meditation
Step up My Wife Game – I am going to try to do something for Anthony on a regular basis
LG Community Growth – I work with amazing women who help me develop strategic business moves; we’ve been so focused on the new website and now that that’s wrapping up, we can shift into this area
Take 1 Day Off/Week – I just have to do it. Maybe, I can better plan ahead to make this happen.
Organization – I have the master list of what needs to happen, so I need to continue taking action
This was fun. I can’t wait to check in next month and see what other moves I can make! As always, thanks for following along. I hope these goal setting posts inspire you to set some goals and take action in your own life. We are all on this beautiful journey of being our best selves and showing up to serve others together.
I must admit… I love Superbowl Sunday. I’m not so much into football, but I love the football party atmosphere, the anticipation of commercials, and the halftime show. And, if I am being totally honest… I am there fore the snack and party food. I wanted to share 5 healthy superbowl recipes so you can enjoy guilt free (and have room for more snacks).
1. BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP
If you make 1 recipe on this list, let it be this one. You can pair it with tortilla chips or veggie sticks. It’s meaty, filling, and satisfying. Everyone I’ve served this to loves it and no one will even notice it’s a healthier version.
On the topic of dips, this is the perfect recipe to bring to a party or if you need to throw together something in a few minutes. This dip literally takes 2 minutes and it’s a delicious twist on a classic salsa + chips that everyone loves.
I love serving pizza because first off, everyone loves pizza and secondly, you can cut it in cute, little slices which makes for great party food. This pizza is made on a tortilla instead of a traditional crust. It’s lower carb (no one will know!), which on Superbowl Sunday just means there is more room for other yummy food.
If you’re in need of an actual meal for Superbowl Sunday, this is a delicious option. You can pre-prepare most of it ahead of time and then pop it in the oven to serve hot. It’s a crowd pleaser… this recipe is top on the community favorites list. It’s spicy but not too hot. Cheesy but not too much. Delicious and will leave your belly full.
I’ve never met a pizza that I did not like, including this healthier tortilla pizza style. I’ve you’ve never had a tortilla pizza, I’m confident in saying… you’re missing out. A tortilla?! First off, it aligns with my cooking style which is quick and easy. I love that you can just as easily make a single serving as you can enough for your entire family. The tortilla crisps in the most delicious way and it takes like a legitimate pizza. And, it is macro friendly. Even if you’re not someone who regularly counts macros (I don’t), it is important to be aware of portions with a macro mindset. I enjoy every bite of this meal all while staying on the path to reaching my goals.
My daily schedule is something I’m constantly trying to improve for an increase in both productivity and enjoyment. I love reading how other people plan out their day so I can gather tips to apply to my own schedule. We all seem to be working toward that work/life balance, and I don’t mean work in just the traditional sense. We work around our homes, as wives, girlfriends, mothers, friends, etc. I structure my day to be efficient with my time: to accomplish important tasks and more importantly, to enjoy my daily life.
BACKGROUND ON MY DAY:
Just some quick background on myself so you can better understand my day… I run a business and have several employees. Most of them work remotely but a few work in my home. I’m a proud wife and mom to two little boys: Leo (2 1/2 years old) and Beckham (11 months). My older son goes to a little preschool and my younger son stays at home with us and a part-time nanny. I am fortunate enough to be able to set my own schedule but I also have very large responsibilities that require structure. I finally feel that I’ve found a schedule that allows me to get a lot done while prioritizing my family.
5 :00AM – WAKE UP
This past year, I decided to become an early riser after hearing so many successful people talk about how this daily habit improved their lives. It took a few weeks to months to get myself from a 6:30 AM alarm to this but I woke up 15 mins earlier each week until I got to my goal.
5:00-5:15 AM – MORNING ROUTINE
I could dedicate a full post to my morning routine because I’ve found this sets the tone for my entire day. It doesn’t matter where I am or when I wake up, if I follow a few simple steps, I always begin my day with the best mindset.
5:15 – LOAD OF LAUNDRY
This may be an odd thing to do first thing but it has such a great purpose… 1) it forces me to move, which energizes my body and 2) I get a load of laundry done. I have a basket of dirty laundry that can all be popped directly into the drier (as opposed to a mix load where I need to sort through drier-friendly and hang-dry item). This is usually socks, underwear, towels, etc. Even if it’s a small load, I run it to stay on top of things.
5:15-7:00 AM – WORK OR WORKOUT
This time slot is reserved for productivity. It’s been one of the main benefits in waking up significantly earlier than my children. If the day goes to sh!t, I love that I have almost 2 hours of work under my belt. Most often, I do computer work during this time. Every now and then, I’ll work for our family whether it’s ordering groceries or paying bills or doing 1 of the 1000 household/family tasks. About 80% of the time, I work but on days I know I can’t get in a workout later in the day, I’ll workout in my garage gym during this time.
*Hot Tip – I love listening to a podcast during this time; it keeps me company as if I have a friend I am chatting with and it alway stimulates my braind
7:00 AM – GETTING READY FOR THE DAY
I spend 10-15 minutes getting set for my kids to wake up. A little bit of preparation helps our mornings run smoothly. I make Beckham’s bottle and put together a breakfast for Leo. I make sure the outfits are laid out and I have everything set – socks and shoes too. I set out the toothbrush, hair brush, etc. If there is extra time, I’ll do my hair for the day.
7:15-7:30 – BOYS WAKE UP
Most mornings, my boys wake up between 7:15 and 7:30 AM. I am usually the one who gets them up and out of their cribs. Leo loves to be my helper in getting Beckham up. I walk down the stairs with boy boys in my arms, and Leo loves to say “the boysss.” I can’t help but smile just thinking about that.
7:15-7:30 – BREAKFAST
The boys sit at our kitchen table and eat breakfast right when they wake up. I do intermittent fasting, so I don’t eat with them but I do make myself a big glass of water. We sit, chat and enjoy. Leo loves to “cheers” to a great day.
7:45 – CUDDLE
This is new for us. After breakfast, I used to immediately get everyone dressed and off to school/nanny, so I can get to work. However, I’ve shifted this part of our morning because my boys are little and the reality is that my schedule is somewhat flexible. We crawl in my big bed, watch a morning cartoon and cuddle. During this time, I am casually dressing the boys and getting ready to walk out the door.
8:30 – SCHOOL DROP OFF
I take Leo to preschool. I always make sure to make the short drive special. We say affirmations together. We blast music and dance. And, he usually convinced me to find a construction site to watch for a few minutes.
8:45 – GYM
After I take Leo to school, I drive to the gym to workout. I love an AM workout for many reasons 1) it’s built into my schedule… I take Leo + then onto the gym (helps me actually go) 2) it’s too early for anything to “pop up” and keep me from going and 3) I begin my day with such a good feeling
9:45 – QUICK FRESHEN UP, SKINCARE, MAKE UP
I freshen up before my team arrives. If I’m super sweaty, I hop in the shower quick. AM skincare routine. Simple make up application.
10:00 – TEAM MEETING
We have a quick team meeting every day at 10 AM. Most of my team works remotely but as LG grows, we are shifting to work together more often. This little meeting is helpful in reviewing our big goals and making sure that what we are doing each day is moving us in that direction. Also, I LOVE that our work day officially begins at 10 AM… this allows my team to sleep in just a bit, maybe get a workout in, do emails while sipping coffee in the comfort of their own homes, enjoy getting ready and then show up in a powerful space. By this time, Beckham’s nanny is here so we can focus on work.
10:00-3:00 – WORK
I have about 2 hours of work in, so I pick up where I left off. Every day is different but I’ve learned that batching my tasks and time is the most efficient way to work.
3:00-3:30 – PICK UP LEO
I wish I could work until about 4 We pack up the entire family and pick Leo up from school. Honestly, this is the highlight of my day. I love sneaking into his classroom and watching him. I absolutely love the feeling when he spots me and runs to me. I cherish that hug and his excitement to do whatever is next.
3:30-4:30 – FAMILY ACTIVITY
We try to plan a family activity each day. It’s been an amazing way to get in quality time with all 4 of us. We do things like: the park, the local children’s museum, the mall, Chick-fil-A for a snack + the play area, the grocery store (Leo’s absolute favorite place), etc. It’s simple but we find ways to make it extra fun… blast music, put the windows down, act silly, run around with the kids.
4:30-5:00 – OUTSIDE TIME
After we go on a little family adventure, we play outside when we get home. Leo adores his neighbor friends and all his outdoor toys. He asks to ring everyone’s door bell and we literally have to drag him inside kicking and screaming (a sign of a fun time when you’re a toddler!).
5:00 – DINNER
We eat a pretty early dinner as a family. This is one area I want to improve. Ideally, I would like to prep this dinner sometime during the day so that I can moreso pop it in the oven or do a few, quick steps before we eat. This time always feels a bit chaotic, but that is this season of life!
5:45 – BATH TIME
We try to go right into the bath after dinner. This is a team effort in our house. One of us is cleaning up dinner. The other is getting the bath ready. Then, we rotate and one of us is bathing the kids while the other picking up and getting the laundry started.
6:30 – KID’S BEDTIME ROUTINE
I am a very structured, scheduled mom (with some fun wiggle room). We do snuggles, books, prayers and bed.
7:00-7:30 – TIMED TIDYING UP
I set a timer for 20ish minutes and pick up as much as I can. I let our house get messy during the day. I used to pick up after my kids until I realized I was taking time away from playing with them and cleaning the same toys over and over. I stay on top of dishes throughout the day but wait on everything else. I love starting the day with a tidy home, so 20 minutes gets me to a nice spot.
7:30-8:30/9 – WORK
I work for 60-90 minutes after the boys go to bed. This is something I am trying to get away from because I would like to do a bit more relaxing or something for myself.
9:00 – SHOWER + PM SKINCARE
I love ending the day with a shower. I am big on energy and I feel like this washes off the day’s energy. I always get out of the shower in a good mood. I also do my evening skincare routine now.
9:25 – SLEEP SUPPLEMENT
After I get out of the shower, I take a sleep supplement. I’ve been playing with a few and seeing what I like best.
9:30 – SHOWS
I am a reality TV junkie as you may know. My favorite thing to do is crawl into bed and turn on the Housewives. I try to find shows my husband will watch with me (currently hooked on Ozark – although it’s giving us both terrible dreams lol).
10:30 – BED
My goal is always to get to bed (and be asleep!) before 10:30 PM because that 5 AM alarm comes quickly lol.
Welcome to one of the most exciting blog post series I’ve ever started… healthy finances. This series is for all of us who are looking to take control of our finances. Less debt. Less stress. More impactful purchases. Greater savings. Financial freedom. Positive money relationships. Live well-lived. No one talks about this stuff, so get ready for some major realness…
LET’S GO THERE… ALL THE TABOO TOPICS
Money talk is hush hush, right?! Raise your hand if your norm was to never speak about how much money you earn, have, save, spend, etc. Raise your hand if you were never formally taught how to manage your money, create a budget, properly save/invest, etc. It’s no wonder why the average American carries $38,000 of personal debt excluding a home mortgage. source
There aren’t many people let alone women out there who are openly and honestly talking about these things. On this blog, I’ve always shared… everything. I share everything that helps me live a better life. Most often it’s fitness and wellness related, but as I evolve as a person, I also share on goal setting, personal development, motherhood, anxiety, business, and now… finances. I’ve NEVER had a stronger response to any topic than when I shared a bit about finances, so I know this is of huge interest to you as well.
I’m not an expert. My husband and I have just decided to go against norms. We are trying to absorb as much information as possible to set ourselves up for a healthy financial future, and I thought it would be helpful to share everything along the way. I’m about to go there and discuss all the taboo topics.
MY FINANCIAL BACKGROUND
If I am going to share some of my financial information and approaches, it’s only natural for you to wonder about my financial background, right?! I get it. When I hear someone talk about skincare and how a product transformed their skin… immediately, I’m like “did you have acne or was your skin always perfect” and “are you an avid product researcher or are you a dermatologist?”
God bless those who have parents who gifted them the down deposit on their home or who have in-laws that treat them to European vacations or who have a grandparent that gave them a car. I mean this – good for you. However, I am 110% about the self-made life. If I have it, I’ve bought it. Just getting it out there… Anthony and my life is solely financed by ourselves.
DISCIPLINE… ONE THING YOU NEED FOR THIS TO WORK
I want to let you know that regardless of your current financial state, I know that some of what has worked for me can work for you because of one thing… discipline. A healthy lifestyle requires discipline. It takes discipline to workout consistently. It takes discipline to choose healthy options over junk food. Similarly, healthy finances require discipline. The good news is that I know you have it in you.
WHERE WE ARE HEADING
I want to discuss a ton of topics in this blog post series. There is so much to unpack that I need to break it down into several topics, so I can get into the nitty gritty. I compiled a list of what I know I will be sharing. This is an ever-evolving, ever-growing list, so if you have topics you’d like to see, let me know. I’ve never received a stronger response than I had to this topic, so I can’t wait to get to sharing.
healthy finances: where do I begin?
financial principles we follow regularly
how we cut $1000+/month in personal spending
how I learned to establish a healthy relationship with money
our approaches to paying off debt (highly requested!)
a look into our personal finances + goals
how to create a modern day budget + do I need one?!
where we invest our money + how we plan for the future
HEALTHY FINANCES: THE START OF OUR JOURNEY
Anthony and I have always lived within our means even back when we did not earn a whole lot. For example, in our very first apartment, our mattress sat on the floor for a good few months. Anthony was our only source of significant income. I was still in school and working very part time at a retail store. By the time we paid our bills and put a small amount into savings, we didn’t have a ton left over. So, when it came to purchases like furniture, we saved and waited. I remember purchasing our bed frame at a local Big Lots for $39.99. I waited until the white tufted wingback headboard (not bed – I wanted the bed but a headboard was more in my budget) went on sale from Target.
That may be a silly, seemingly-pointless story to share but I think it’s important for you to know where we started. Today, our lives are very different and if you only catch a glimpse of the present, you may not know that mattress on the ground story was only 6 years ago. That just speaks to the power of financial discipline and smart money moves.
When we had little and now that we’ve been blessed with more, we have always prioritized money management.
Over the past few years, our income has increased significantly: 681% to be exact.
Here is the huge difference… the pressures and norms in society would encourage us to proportionally increase our spending: significantly upgrade our home, cars, wardrobe, vacations, where we eat, where we stay, everything about our lifestyle.
But, we haven’t.
Now, we have some nice things because we’ve learned that just like with every other area of life, there has to be some balance in finances. Overall, however, Anthony and I most recently decided to choose a life of financial freedom. Financial freedom can be described as: “you get to make life decisions without being overly stressed about the financial impact because you are prepared. You control your finances instead of being controlled by them.” source
WHERE DO I BEGIN? KNOW THE HARD NUMBERS
When Anthony and I decided to not only to manage our money wisely but also to make financial strides for our future, we revisited the hard numbers. When our finances were tight, we had an estimate of the hard numbers, like many people do; sometimes, you don’t really want to know the numbers… I’ve been there. Also, I’ve found that when you become more financially comfortable, it’s easier to “let go” of knowing your hard numbers because there is more wiggle room. I think that’s a trap. Knowing the exact numbers… seeing them on paper… that’s when the magic can happen.
NUMBER #1 YOU NEED KNOW: NET WORTH
In order to make progress, you’ve got to know where you’re at. If you wish to lose 10 pounds, you’re going to have to jump on a scale to get an accurate reading of what you weight right now, right?!
The first step in healthy finances is facing the numbers. The first number I suggest calculating is your net worth. This will allow you to gain insight into everything you have, “have” (as in own but not really) and/or owe.
Net Worth = total of what you own – total of what you owe
Your net worth is a mathematical equation of assets (ie: homes, cars, investments, etc.) minus debts (ie: mortgage, auto loans, student loans, credit card debts, etc.).
When I was looking for facts about median net worth, I came across this phrase…
“Home value, job title, car model, …. These things merely hint at how wealthy you or your neighbors are. The naked financial truth comes down to just one number: net worth.” source
There are a lot of smoke and mirrors in 2020. Net worth is nothing but the naked truth. Personally, I believe knowledge is power and for yourself (not to compare!) you need to know where you stand.
Here are a few examples I found to help you better understand how to calculate net worth if you’re new to it.
Example 1: Gina
Gina is 35 years old. She owns a home worth $250,000, and still owes $150,000 on the mortgage. Her six-year-old car is now only worth about $7,000, but it’s all paid off. She has $1,000 in credit card balances, $25,000 in her 401(k), about $5,000 in her savings account, and $20,000 remaining on her student loans.
Total assets: $287,000
Credit cards: $1,000
Student loans: $20,000
Total debts: $171,000
GINA’S NET WORTH: $287,000 – $171,000 = $116,000
Example 2: Emma
Emma, meanwhile, is 25 years old and rents an apartment. She has a newer car worth $20,000, but still owes $15,000 on it. Relatively new in her job, she only has $2,000 in her 401(k), and $1,000 in savings; she’s paying down $50,000 in student loans. And she’s racked up $5,000 in credit card debt as well.
The second number I believe is essential to know is your take home income.
Take home pay is the amount of income that you actually receive after deductions. Deductions may include federal, state and local income tax, Social Security and Medicare contributions, retirement account contributions, and medical, dental and other insurance premiums. The net amount or take-home pay is what you as an employee receives.
This is important to know because your salary and your take home income can be two very different numbers. Yet, some people spend and live with the idea that their salary = take home pay.
Also, it’s 2020 and I realize that many of us have a less conventional income than what was considered normal 20 years ago. You may have additional revenue streams. You may have a side business. You may work in a position where you have a base salary with bonuses and other variable income. You may be self-employed and not even have a set salary. The more factors, the more important I think it is to look into this number.
Just like I did with net worth… I wrote this number down on paper.
NUMBER #3 YOU NEED TO KNOW: MONTHLY EXPENSES
Let’s recap… the hard numbers you need to know:
1) know your current financial state: net worth
2) know how much money you’re actually brining home
3) know how much money is going out
Calculating your monthly expenses can be a daunting task. First off, it takes a good amount of work. Secondly, you may not want to know how much money is actually going out the door each month. I always keep in mind… knowledge is power. Financial freedom and a healthy money relationship are worth the work.
Monthly expenses will fall into one of two categories: fixed and variable.
Fixed expenses are those that do not vary with production output. The exact amounts may vary slightly but these bills are typically paid on a regular basis, such as monthly, quarterly or annually. For example, rent/mortgage, auto payments, property taxes, insurance premiums and utility bills are just a few examples of fixed expenses.
Variable expenses represent your daily spending decisions: eating out at restaurants, buying shoes, enjoying Starbucks, getting a manicures, etc. Not all variable expenses are discretionary expenses. For example, medical bills are necessary, variable expenses you may encounter.
Like I mentioned, Anthony and I have proudly been on top of our finances since marriage. However, this past year, we decided to take it to the next level. We meticulously analyzed our expenses. We took a 6 month window to get a better average of our expenses. Again, this was a lot of work but it was very insightful in knowing exactly where our money was going and how we could make simple tweaks for big results.
MAKING SENSE OF THESE 3 NUMBERS:
For us, knowing these three numbers…. and really knowing them… set the foundation for the financial strides we decided to make. We could not have taken the next steps without doing this first.
Also, I think a huge financial myth is that budgets and money management are for those who don’t have a lot of money. Speaking from experience, the more money Anthony and I brought home, the more beneficial it was for us to look into our expenses and spending because there was more money to manage. So, regardless of if that net worth number scares you or impresses you, regardless of how good or how bad you feel doing this, in my opinion, there’s no shame in the game and you can make progress that will feel good.
If this topic interests you at all, maybe take some time to look at these 3 numbers for yourself before we roll out the next post in this series.
Neither Anthony or I are financial experts. We are both just extremely passionate about going against the grain when it comes to finances. This really is a *stay tuned* ending because I have so much to say on this topic but I’ll leave it at this for the first blog post in this series.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my posts. I know many of us come on here to grab a tid bit that can help us live life just a little bit better: whatever better means to you. Healthier finances have been a pivotal part of my life lately and I hope that through these posts, you can find that too.
Welcome to the Friday Five where we chat about 5 random things, and this week’s topic is: 5 of the best personal growth books I’m reading in 2020. I am an avid reader, and 99% of the time it is some sort of self-help, personal development, personal growth type of book. I am obsessed with becoming the best version of myself and books have been one of my best resources in that process. This year, I’ve committed to reading only a few new books and rereading my absolute favorites. Here are the 5 Best Personal Growth book picks I’m diving into…
Hands down the best financial book I’ve read. You can read it in a day or a weekend. It’s not only an easy read but also engaging; it tells a story instead of just providing boring financial facts. Regardless of how much money you make, you will close this book feeling like you can take control of your finances whether that’s saving for a vacation or planning for your future.
2. HOW TO WIN FRIEND AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE IN THE DIGITAL AGE (here)
Dale Carnegie wrote a book titled How to Win Friends and Influence People not the digital age version that this is. A friend recommended that book to me several years ago. I bought it, but didn’t read it right away because I thought that I did not really apply to me. Let me tell you…. this is one of the best books for relationships whether they are your co-workers, clients, neighbors, friends, whoever. I loved the original and can’t wait to read this updated version.
3. ATOMIC HABITS: AN EASY & PROVEN WAY TO BUILD GOOD HABITS AND BREAK BAD ONES (here)
A new one for me. I’ve seen this circulating the internet a ton recently and can’t wait to dive in. I am a big believer that everything comes down to habits.
4. YOU ARE A BADASS: HOW TO STOP DOUBTING YOUR GREATNESS AND STRAT LIVING AN AWESOME LIFE (here)
One of my past favorites. This book sets the foundation for personal growth in a simple, easy-to-digest resource. It hits all the main points you’ll see every successful person talking about from setting goals to visualization and believing in yourself. Even though I read tons of other books with a similar message, I enjoyed the style of this book and I plan to reread it as a refresher.
5. THE RHYTHM OF LIFE: LIVING EVERYDAY WITH PASSION AND PURPOSE (here)
This was one of the first personal development books I ever read. I remember it being life changing, and I recommend it so often to others. However, it has been years since I reread it myself, so it’s on my list for 2020.
Who’s ready for this delicious dinner recipes?! Lasagna Chicken is the dinner recipe you’ll have on repeat in your home. My entire family literally inhaled it the first time I served it, and let me tell you… I have never been more excited than I was the following day when I heated up leftovers. For the record: I am pro-leftovers (it’s one less meal to cook!)
I can sum my recipe style up for you real quickly:
1) normal ingredients – I’m not going to a specialty grocery store to buy 1 item I’ll never use again
2) quick + easy to prepare – I’m cooking with 2 kids at my feet so it has to be short + simple
3) delicious – speaking of family… I only cook 1 recipe for meal times, so everyone in my house has to like it, which means it has to taste good
4) aligns with my goals – I also am a stickler on my goals. my meals to have to align with my health and fitness goals, so they are all properly portioned, provide an ample amount of protein, and hit all the macronutrient groups for a balanced meal that supports a fit and lean body
My gym bag has evolved into a healthy lifestyle bag. It’s a tote bag (or a few tote bags, lol) that come with me from school drop off to the gym then off to work and onto errands. Because this bag comes with me everywhere, the items in it are essentials for helping me live my best, healthiest life. I’ll share a run down because I’m sure you’re going to want to add these to your gym bag… or healthy lifestyle bag too!
To let you in on the BTS of writing this post: I am literally dumping out my tote bag and seeing what items are in here…
Just like I pack snacks for my kids, I pack snacks for myself. I always carry a Vital Proteins Collagen Bar. First off, you know the benefits of collagen, and so many of us have hopped on the VP collagen train for hair, skin, nail, gut and overall health. I’ve converted about half of my use from the powder to the bars because… I love to eat.
Each bar obviously provides the collagen benefits, but also they’re so satisfying. 12 grams of collagen 16-17 grams of overall protein. 4 grams of sugar or less. They’re a great snack option with added benefits. I have 2 favorite flavors: 1) the Chocolate Almond Sea Salt (when I’m craving a candy bar) and 2) the Lemon Vanilla (for when I want that muffin-flavor fix)
Quick Snack Tip – whenever I opt for a snack, I try to choose high protein options. Protein is the macronutrient most responsible for satiety: the feeling of full. High protein snacks like the collagen bars keep you fuller, longer.
I can’t get through a day without popping in my AirPods at least 5x: music during workouts, podcasts while doing laundry, audio book while running errands, etc. I also have THIS silicone pink case for protection.
If you’re going to spend your money on a shaker, you’ve got to get a Blender Bottle. They’re the best, highest quality shakers on the market and the only one I actually trust with liquid in my bag. This one in particular is what I take with me because it has an attached storage compartments where I can keep collagen and/or protein powder.
Another item I keep in the cosmetic pouch. I get travel sizes of all my favorite products. This dry shampoo is the best because it actually cleans your hair!
LAPTOP / IPAD
I always keep my laptop or iPod with me. I wish I had a great recommendation for a laptop case. I’m currently using a random one from amazon… I’ve been searching for a chic yet functional option. If you have one you love, let me know.
Another item in my cosmetic pouch. If I am going somewhere right after my workout and can’t shower, I do a quick wipe down: face, neck, chest + even underarms (in that order). I have sensitive skin and these are gentle yet cleansing.
A boring one but it’s in my bag, so it made this list. Plus, you’ll probably need money and/or your ID throughout the day, so don’t forget it ;):)
I also have a few stasher bags… they’re reusable silicone bags. In a huge one I have 1 diaper and a mini pack of wipes (mom life). In another, I have snacks for the boys. I love that they’re so heavy duty and they’re a good catchall.
*thank you to Vital Proteins for sponsoring this post