my money commitment tracker (Erin Condren, of course)

I love to write things down and track them. I want things in their certain places. So when I decided I wanted to get serious about my finances, I wanted somewhere pretty to keep track of everything.

And – big shock! – I turned to Erin Condren. I bought a notebook that I ADORE (and I realize that I should have put something more “us” and less “me” on the cover, but oh well). This is not a paid review, this is just how I use this notebook. The only perk I receive from Erin Condren is from any referrals. (Sign up here to receive $10 off your first order – and I get $10 as well. That’s how I paid for this beauty, actually!)

For those EC design nerds out there (like me!) this is paisley with pool background and chocolate pattern. My name was supposed to be in the peacock font, but I think it is instagram. Either way, I like it.

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I’m not going to walk you through the notebook page by page because I intend this post to be more about how I’m using it than a review of the notebook itself. 

I included the monthly spread and I had some stickers made to document all of our bills. This was insanely helpful to me, especially considering that the vast majority of our payments out go on the 27, 28, and 1st. (Buddy is our car, by the way.) This visual helps me see how to best split bills up based on paydates instead of just paying them as they come up.

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I’m using the lined pages for notetaking and journaling. I use washi tape on the sides of the pages so I can flip to a certain book or resource without having to worry about a table of contents and page numbers and all that jazz. I have started using this technique on a lot of my notebooks and I love it. I also love that the EC notebooks have a spiral that is much larger than the pages, so it has room to grow. Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 3.47.36 PM

So far, I’ve read Money: A Love Story (which I talked about yesterday) and I have re-read and outlined the money week in May Cause Miracles. The next quick resource that will pop in here will be notes from the latest Lively Show where she talks money with Jeff Williams. (I’ve just discovered this podcast and I adore it. She has been having some website issues the last day or two, but the podcast loaded in iTunes lickety-split.)

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I then counted backwards from the back of the lined pages in the notebook and created a spread for each month. I decided to outline them as they come up, as I’m sure they won’t look the same each month as our goals and plans change. But this is the spread for March. Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 3.48.14 PM

Since I filled this out, we have decided to go No-Spend March. Partially because I want to redeem myself from the epic No-Spend February failure. And partially because I really want to know our baseline.

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My absolute favorite take-away from Money: A Love Story is thinking about bills as Invoices for Blessings Already Received. So that’s how I lined them up here.

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Then there’s a section for necessities – gas, groceries, savings, sundries, etc. I don’t know what I’m forgetting, so it is going here. Down at the bottom is MFU (Money For Us) spending. This is from before we decided on No-Spend March. However, we do have some cash that we have earmarked as usable this month (for St. Patrick’s Day and the like), so it will be documented here.

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I have used Mint in the past and even written about it, I think. But I’m at the point where I want something tangible for a while. I don’t anticipate always continuing this level of organization and effort. In the past, I have done a great job categorizing our spending and having pretty little pie charts and all that jazz. But right now, that feels like a distraction. I want nitty gritty. And that happens when I put the pen to the paper.

I have plans of structuring debt pay off and all kinds of fun stuff, but this is the foundation, friends. And we’re gonna rock it out.


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money commitment update

My desire to get Money: A Love Story finished was partly motivated for my desire to do a book review for you. So here it is!

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First thing, I’m going to admit that the first few sections of the book irritated me. Something fierce. I understand that Northrup had to tell her money backstory and outline her relationship with money. I get that. But her story reminded me so much of other books that I gave up on because I was irritated with the author. So Northrup survived through college living in an apartment that her mother owned and supported her lifestyle with passive income. And I immediately went into a mindset that she had no information that was useful to me. What could someone who has always HAD money have in common with a student-loan-indebted, 30-something woman in Kentucky who works a job she doesn’t especially like to pay her mortgage?

And I wanted to put the book down. Just like I had Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin and Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons. I’m sure they are both great books, but the “I have this great life and I’m going to point out all of the things I’m missing” schtick just irritates the crap out of me. Because the “great life” part is just pointed out over and over and over. Money, career, family, power, fantastic home, etc. And, although I totally love my life, what does someone living in New York City with all of these bonuses really have to tell me that I can do anything productive with?

Yeah. So that was my issue with Money: A Love Story from the beginning. What could she possibly know about debt and making hard financial choices? That was my initial thought. And, then, her first suggestion for saving money while still feeling abundant was to go out and buy a nice handbag as a reminder? Seemed a little a lot enabling to me, but I persevered.

I finally decided that I was going to try really hard to separate the personality from the information. It was very VERY difficult at times. I may have texted with Ange for solidarity. I had twitter discussions with Jaemie and Ashley. I don’t know if I would recommend this book, honestly. But I do know that I adore some of the information and I will definitely utilize this as I hone my budgeting system in March.

So…what did I glean?

Frugality is not a function of morality. How I handle money, how much debt I have, and how I handle debt is not a reflection on my morality and self-worth. Just like my weight.

Lack of financial awareness is just keeping me small. Until I know exactly what I have and where it is going, I’ll keep some level of fear and dread. And that level of dread keeps me small.

I don’t have to figure it all out at once. Just like everything I try to teach as I coach, it doesn’t require a huge leap to make a difference. I just need to pick my starting point (which I’m showing you later this week), and go from there. Get support, continue to get information, and respond to money in a ways that feel expansive and authentic.

There are ways to earmark money that don’t require envelopes. I am opening a new bank account this week. It will be attached to our other accounts. All of our bills + cushion will be kept in our primary checking. Everything else will go to a separate “spending” account, with a different card. This will be an actual, separate location and balance for our discretionary income.  Kate calls it her “Money For Me” account, but I think Money for Us just looks weird. I need a new name. Anyway, I like that knowing exactly how much we have there will help me make better choices. And by having a different card (that I will carry with me, but not in my wallet), we will be more intentional.

I can view my living expenses and debt in a different way. I find paying bills highly irritating. This is especially true for student loans and credit card. I just look at that money and think about what I could be doing with it. But Kate presents a different view of this that has changed things for me. She calls these expenses Invoices for Blessings Already Received. So when I think about the mortgage? I have gratitude for having a garage to park in this winter. When I think about my student loans? I have gratitude for a specific college memory (like the time my college boyfriend threw my good-luck beanie baby hippo onto the roof of a classroom building and I pouted until he scaled the building and brought Happy to safety). When I think about the credit card? I take a moment and have gratitude about a specific dinner in Asheville at Curate with AshleyGee. There are things I would change about how I’ve handled money in the past (of course there is!), but it is what it is. And I love my life.

There are a few specific assignments from the book that I will share with you as I work through them. Again, although I had issue with the author, I really enjoyed the perspective shifts and specific tasks in the book. So I don’t know how to recommend the book. But I’m glad I read it.

Next up (on their way from amazon): Overcoming Underearning and Financial Recovery: Developing a Healthy Relationship with Money.


As I look at my goal to be more money-aware, it helps me see opportunities for you to get closer to your big, aching goal. Is it an organized house? Getting healthy? Changing how you present yourself to the world? Radical self-care? I believe the road to change is built with intentional and consistent daily actions. And I can help direct and shape your path. Forty Steps Closer. Skype calls, google chats, facebook group, weekly assignments, a rocking workbook (if you mention registration on social media!) and annoying text messages from me. Registration closes on SUNDAY, so don’t miss out! I am so super excited about this program. I think it has potential to rock your life and change your world, if you only embrace it. So let’s get started!

WIAW – the protein edition

Happy What I Ate Wednesday!

I’m given a new habit every two weeks from my Precision Nutrition program. This week: add a lean protein to every meal. So that was my focus today.

Breakfast: my lovely smoothie. There are two scoops of protein powder in there.

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Snack: I know it is processed, but I also knew lunch would be late. And I haven’t figured out a non-nut (because DUDE, I’m tired of nuts) protein source that I can carry around in my purse without an ice pack.

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This bowl is actually much smaller than it looks. Polynesian Tofu bowl. Next time, I’ll ask for more peas because they were so good.

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No protein in the pretzel after Run Club. This is the part that I didn’t eat.

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Dinner was disappointing. I spent a lot of time and energy to learn that I don’t like seitan. At least not in barbecue sauce.The consistency reminded me of fatty meat, which I hate. Super glad I had extra sweet potatoes. So protein attempt, but protein fail.

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Any suggestions for packable, non-perishable lean proteins for snacks-on-the-go?


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let’s chat about fear and excitement

I’m not going to write a lot because I think I said a lot.

So, like I said…

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the week that was 2/17 – 2/23

You know who I usually show you bright-and-shiny vegetarian-at-home food pictures and have a glowing report of the week that was?

Yeah, there’s none of that.

(Well, except for these Chickpea Patties because they were just amazing.)


Forgive me if I go a little TMI here, but I sometimes think that what my body does is just simply a cruel joke. And I sincerely want to be honest with you.

I have noticed a very distinct pattern over the last few years. The more I am respecting my body with good food and good movement, the more I notice my PMS symptoms. When I’m eating crap and just hanging out? My period just kinda sneaks up on me. But when I’m sweating and stretching and feeding my body real food? I have a few days a month that are almost crippling.

I spent this week in complete and utter confusion about hunger and fullness and when to eat and what to eat and how I was ever going to figure all of this crap out.

I spent a significant amount of time in tears that my latest coaching offering would bomb and all of this work and inspiration totally go to waste.

I felt hopeless and angry and confused and just plain defeated. And I know it is hormonal. I could actually feel the fog lifting over the course of the day on Friday. Nathan and I had a great Friday evening date night. I had a fantastic walk/run on Saturday. We had a ball getting beer and pizza with friends on Saturday night. I got a lot of work done on Sunday, including getting the house clean, prepping the blog for the week, going to Pilates and having a google chat with my braintrust.

Part of me wants to backtrack, you know? To make up the work I missed. To go back and get in those workouts. To go back and try to rebuild my food journal.

But I’m not going to. Because I just need to move on.

I feel like the biggest lesson I’ve received from yoga and my instructor (the amazing AnneDean) is that I have to respect who I am and how much I have to give in each day. Just like each yoga practice is different – how far I can stretch, how far I can push, what level of energy I have, how much time I need to spend in Child’s Pose – my life is exactly the same.

I am learning to work within the capacity and energy I have for the day. And I am embracing that with loving kindness.

Some days, I come home from work, knock out my workout, prepare a healthy dinner and spend three hours on coaching work.

Some days, I come home from work, ask Nathan pick up a thin-crust pizza and a big salad, knock out my workout, and watch Say Yes to the Dress while I play around in a journal.

Some days, I come home from work, prepare a healthy dinner, half-ass my workout, do a 20-minute yoga download, paint my nails, and read a fluff book in bed.

Some days, I go to Starbucks after work and knock out a big chunk of coaching work, text my friends for hours, spend a hard 30 minutes on the elliptical, and throw fried rice together in 5 minutes.

But here’s the thing. If I respect what my body has to give me today, it always gives me something. If I fight it? I’m just making things harder on myself. If I listen and respond, my body tell me what I need. And if I listen, I will be in balance. That’s it.

By learning to listen to my hunger cues and by generalizing my yoga intention, I am figuring myself out.

It isn’t easy. Sometimes, I know I irritate my friends by flaking. Sometimes, I know I irritate Nathan by switching up my plans. Sometimes, I feel confused and irritated with myself. But it is because I am learning. The difference between responding and making excuses. The difference between pushing through and unnecessary stress.

I am excited for this week. I feel back to normal. I am not necessarily excited about the past week, but I feel like I learned a lot from how I handled it. And that is truly all I can ask for.


I believe that it is important to listen and honor what we truly want to do in our lives. I believe that recognizing and responding to  those crazy “I’d like to do that someday” thoughts are truly important to honoring ourselves. I’ve seen the joy in those I love when  they opened their businesses, finished writing the first draft of their novel, and made health commitments. I believe that the scariest moment is when we flip the switch from hope to movement. You can start making movement – daily, not-always-scary movement – with me through fortystepscloser. Registration closes Friday. What are you waiting for?

sweet potatoes and chickpeas in cranberry-chipotle sauce

So the pictures I have of this are terrible since I fixed it after dark. And I don’t even care. That’s how badly I needed to share this recipe. Because the level of fantastic is off the charts!

Like I said, terrible pictures. And I don’t even care. You need this in your life.

I used this recipe and this recipe as a guide, but I made a lot of amendments, so I’m calling this mine.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas in Cranberry-Chipotle Sauce

Serves 3-4 (depending on how hungry you are and who many distance runners are in your household)

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chunked

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp taco seasoning

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

14oz can chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped

2 tsp maple syrup

1 adobo/chipotle pepper, seeded and chopped + 2 tsp adobo sauce


Preheat oven to 450.

Combine water, cranberries, maple syrup, adobo pepper and sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and allow to simmer while sweet potatoes bake.

Combine sweet potatoes, olive oil, taco seasoning, paprika, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes. Then remove pan from oven. Shake pan. Add chickpeas. Return to oven for 10-12 additional minutes. At this point, remove sauce from heat.

When the sweet potatoes are soft and removed from oven, add sauce to a blender with a vent. Blend to smooth. Place in a large bowl. Add sweet potatoes and chickpea mixture. Serve over spinach.

And then thank me.

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No matter where you are, that’s where you are. And it where you should be. But are you ready to go? Are you ready to make some progress? Are you ready to get forty steps closer?

My excitement is tangible, friends. And you know you want to hear my cute little Kentucky accent.

forty steps closer is my latest coaching offering. No matter what your goal – no matter how big, how small, how off the wall – it is time to start movement in that direction. Forty days. An intentional step forward each day. With support, accountability, and brainstorming from me (your coach!) and the rest of the lovely folks that will join the group.

No more spinning your wheels, just momentum. Let’s do this.

commitment – money

Hmph. I need to get honest.

So a few weeks ago, I told you that in February, I was going to do research to focus on money in March. Well, I haven’t gotten very far.

I ordered and received my Erin Condren notebook specifically for money knowledge and tracking. I really dig it. She is really, really pretty. (It is the paisley pattern with a pool background and a chocolate pattern, for those EC nerds like me that want to know all the details.)

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I also ordered stickers for each bill. (We named our car Buddy. So that’s what the grey sticker is for.)

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I am making significant process on Money: A Love Story. This was my progress as of Sunday, but I will finish it by Friday. I have a ‘book report’ started that may very well end up being a series because, friends, do I have lots of stuff to say.

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Here’s my issue at this point, though. I keep finding things that I want to do. *cough* YOGA CAMP *cough* *cough* NICKEL CREEK TICKETS *cough* So I’m spending more energy on BUILDING income rather than DECREASING spending. And that isn’t what my initial plan was at all. I wanted to do both, not one or the other.

So here are my action steps before I update you next week:

  • finish Money: A Love Story.
  • get March bills actually on the March calendar. (February sticker done and they really helped with paying bills differently based on pay dates.)
  • follow-up on balance transfer with bank-based credit card.
  • follow-up with possible house refinancing.
  • open second bank account.

Stay on me, friends.

(And if you like Erin Condren and think about ordering? Sign up with my link and you get $10! And then, when you order, I get $10. It is like the gift that we both get! And those referral bonuses are how I got this notebook, by the way. I’m not being totally willy-nilly with the money I say I’m trying to focus on!)


As you see my progress on being more money-aware, does it trigger a goal you want to work on? An end-point that you think you could reach if you just had someone to remind you to focus and hold you accountable? That’s what forty steps closer is all about. No matter your goal or dream – save money, get healthy, write a book, get organized, learn to juggle – you can make significant progress by committing to do one step, any step!, every day. Click here to learn more and get involved!