Category: money and happiness

Why You Need A Smile File + How To Make One

Looking for cheer up ideas? Want to make a smile file but you're not sure where to start? Click through for inspiration ideas and ways to cheer yourself up!

Picture this: you’re grumpy AF. You overslept, you spilled coffee on your shirt, and because she wants to cheer a friend up, your co-worker is trying to tell you about something called a ‘smile file.’

Do you
a) roll your eyes so far back in your head you get a migraine
b) tell her she’s never allowed to speak in your presence again
c) pretend that you’re listening while quietly plotting her death

If this cheer up idea makes you want to punch someone, hear me out!

Really, a ‘smile file’ is just a personal collection of things that cures a bad mood – your bad mood. If the things that cheer you up are interviews with Nick Cave, hair metal music videos, and gifs of people falling on ice, that’s what you should put in your smile file.

Just as importantly, you are not required to call it a ‘smile file.’ If you think rhyming is dorky, you can call it something else! Or you don’t have to call it anything!

All I’m saying is: We all have bad days. Our bad days will be shorter + less awful if we take some time to create our own personal antidotes when we're NOT in the midst of one. Click To Tweet

Why do you need a smile file at all?

None of us are required to be happy at all times. In fact, that’s impossible!

I think it’s worth noting, however, that bad days and bad moods usually trigger our less-awesome behaviors and choices. Think about the last time you did something you regret – an expensive impulse purchase you can’t afford, snipping at your partner, mindlessly eating yourself into a cookie dough coma, stalking your ex all over Instagram and accidentally liking one of their photos from 2015.

There’s a pretty good chance that these things started with a bad mood. And if you could short circuit that less-than-awesome behavior simply by revisiting some self-esteem-boosting emails or watching a few funny animal videos, isn’t it worth a try?

How to make a smile file

Create an email folder that’s filled with only sweet things

Every time a client, co-worker, or vendor sends you a thank-you note, put it in your Smile File. Praise for a job well done, an amazing testimonial about how your ebook changed someone’s life, a thoughtful response to your newsletter, put it in your Smile File. Funny email from your kid’s teacher or your dog walker – you guessed it! – put it in your Smile File.

In short: any email that makes you smile and will likely improve your day on a second reading, put it in a specific email folder that you can easily reference.

Save all your favorite Instagram images to a ‘smile file’ folder

Did you know you can save all the  insightful captions, funny photos, and inspirational quotes you like on Instagram? It’s true.

Next time you see something you like on Instagram, just click the little pennant icon under the image and you’ll save it to your Instagram account. You can organize your saved images into folders like ‘funny animals,’ ‘memes about the 90s,’ and ‘inspirational quotes’ – or whatever would cheer you up!

Create a day-improving Youtube playlist

A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to upbeat music could improve their moods and boost their happiness in just two weeks. But we didn’t need a study to espouse the healing powers of sing-shrieking along to ‘The Dog Days Are Over” while flouncing dramatically around the living room, right?

No joke, I have a 33-song Youtube playlist entitled ‘happy dancing’ and it improves my mood faster than an episode of Brooklyn 99 and a bag of pizza rolls WHICH IS SAYS SOMETHING.

If you use Spotify or Itunes, you could also compile playlists there!

Make a physical ‘smile file’ – like a real, actual paper folder in a filing cabinet

There’s something to be said for holding mood-improving things in your hands, rather than just clicking through emails and online photos.

If you have tangible evidence of the things that make you happy – handwritten cards, photos, ticket stubs and receipts from memorable outings, the application paper work for the big project – put it all in an actual paper folder and put it at the front of your filing cabinet so it’s easy to find and access.

It’s seems like a little thing, right? How could an email folder, a playlist, or some saved Instagram photos cheer you up?

How could something so small (and free!) be the difference between a good day and a bad one? Why not try. Worst case scenario – you have another email folder. Best case scenario – you’ve got a stockpile of things that make you happy and remind you of how awesome you are.

P.S. How to restart a bad day + 101 ways you cheer yourself up

photo by Laura Olsen // cc

The Glorious Freedom Of ‘Good Enough’ + How To Find It

Want to experience the freedom of "good enough"? Let go of perfectionism and optimizing and upgrading everything? Click through and read more!

“I have extremely specific window treatment needs.”

As ridiculous as it sounds, this is a real, actual thought process I’ve had for the last three years.

I’ll spare you the boring specifics, but the windows in our master bedroom are strange. For the longest time, I was convinced that the only answer was $350 worth of custom-made roller blinds.

I set aside $350 for my custom-made window treatments. I measured the windows approximately 17 times. I visited the overpriced window treatment website 19 times and never pulled the trigger.

Every night I glared at the terrible dark brown curtains that came with the house and thought about how much better my life would be once I had my fancy roller blinds. Life is what happens on the other side of good window treatments!!!

And then, while poking around a thrift store on a random Tuesday, I stumbled upon a set of pretty, cream-colored curtains for $7. They matched the paint in our bedroom, they were thick enough to block out the light from the street, and they were $7. What did I have to lose?

I imagine you can see where this is going, reader. I took those $7 curtains home, I “hemmed” them with Stitch Witchery, and slung them on the very same curtain rods that had been home to the awful brown drapes I hated.

Was this the window treatment a professional interior designer would recommend? Probably not.

Was it the solution I’d been dreaming of for three years? No.

But it was exponentially better than what I’d been doing. And would the expensive, custom blinds have been $343 better than these second hand curtains? I don’t think so.

And my “good enough” solution meant that I now had hundreds of dollars to put towards other things. I could get that massage I needed. I could take my friend out for a nice birthday meal. I could get the exit row upgrade on my next flight.

All because I opted for a quite-good-but-not-totally-perfect option.

Saying “good enough” in one area of your life opens up time, energy, and money to be awesome in other areas. Not every aspect of your life has to be polished and remodeled and optimized to perfection. Click To TweetYou know what happens when we allow ourselves the “good enough” option? Life opens up. We can breathe again. Hundreds of hours and dollars are available to us because we kept using the two-year old iphone and decided we could paint the cabinets instead of remodeling the whole kitchen.

Most of us are exchanging time for money. We spend 40-60 hours a week working to earn the money that we spend during the other hours.  The median income in America is about $32,000 a year, or $15 an hour. The average American would have to exchange 22 hours of their life to buy those damn custom blinds I wanted.

That’s 22 hours of life that could be spent playing with our kids, throwing sticks for our dogs, re-reading our favorite books, walking along the river as the sun set, or just watching funny videos on Youtube.

That’s a lot of life we could be living and enjoying because we chose the ‘good enough’ option.

What if – instead of buying a new outfit for every wedding and holiday party – we just wore something we already owned with some different accessories?

What if we decided that the recipe would be fine if we used dried thyme instead of fresh and medium cheddar instead of extra sharp – because that’s what we have on hand?

What if – when the car gets a scuff on the back bumper and the mechanic says it’ll cost $350 to replace – we buy the $12 paint pen and shrug?

And what if – after we did all those things – we took the money and time and energy we saved saying “Good enough!” and spent it on things we were really excited about? (Because how excited can you really be about a perfectly painted bumper?)


Imagine how many hours of our lives we’d have back if we stopped trying to have the absolute best, newest, most updated everything?

Now, you are, of course, allowed to have nice things. Sometimes upgrading to the better blender, the nicer sports bra, the more supportive mattress truly will improve your life. I am not exaggerating when I say that my Roomba is an investment in the quality of my life.

But when we constantly spend time, money, and energy trying to make something that’s already an A into an A++ we burn ourselves out and make ourselves broke.

3 questions that can help you find “good enough”

How will things be different if I upgrade this?

If we’re talking about a Roomba, your life will be different because your floors and carpets will be effortlessly clean, you won’t argue with your partner about who’s going to vacuum, and you’ll stop quietly resenting your dog. (No, I will never stop shouting about my love for my Roomba!!!)

But not every purchase does this. Will your life be dramatically improved by replacing one working television with a different working television? By getting a Vitamix when you already have a Nutribullet? Will your lunches taste better when you eat them out of one of those hipstery metal bento boxes instead of tupperware?

Maybe! Maybe not. Everyone’s answer is different. But I think it’s important to take the time to actually ask ourselves this question.

How many hours would I have to work to pay for this?

Truly, one of the very few personal finance books I recommend is Your Money Or Your Life. The crux of the book is this: most of us exchange our time for money. The less money we spend, the more hours of our lives we have to spend the way we want.

So run the numbers. How many hours do you spend working each week? And how much time do you spend commuting? Divide your yearly take home pay by the amount of time you devote to work in a given year.

Is that new phone worth 10 hours of your life? Is the just-wearing-it-for-one-wedding outfit worth 15 hours? Maybe they are! But again, I think it’s an important question

Why am I buying this really?

Sometimes to answer is “Because I’m sick of vacuuming all the time” or “I spend $15 a week on hummus and this nice blender means I can make my own.”

But sometimes the answer is “Because I’m bored” or “Because all my friends are remodeling their kitchens” or “Because I’m the only person at the coffee shop who’s not using a Macbook.”

You might be surprised by what you discover when you’re really honest with yourself.

So if you’re looking for permission to allow some part of your life to be “good enough,” this is it. <3

I want to hear from you! Do you struggle with feeling like you need to improve and upgrade everything? What’s one area of your life you’re allowing to be “good enough”?

P.S. Everything is socially contagious (and what to do about it)

Photos by Junior Moran and rawpixel on Unsplash

8 things to do if you’re broke after Christmas

Are you broke after Christmas? Looking for some personal finance advice if to get back on track after overspending? Click through for 8 money tips to deal with your Christmas credit card bill!

Are you basking in the post-holiday glow of perfect presents and good food? Wonderful!

Or are you trying to ignore texts from your bank about how your balance has dipped below $50?

If that’s you,
a) I’m sorry. That’s super stressful!
b) You’re not alone and this is fixable.

The average American spends $700 on Christmas presents while carrying a $6,000 credit card balance. Not particularly ideal! Let’s talk about how to true our wheels, right our proverbial ships, and get our bank accounts back to where we want them, regardless of how much we spent over the holidays.

8 things to do if you’re broke after Christmas

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Why You Need A ‘No Grocery Challenge’ + How To Do Your Own

Want to reduce food waste while saving money, time, and eating great meals? WELL DUH OBVIOUSLY. You need to do a No Grocery Challenge!

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“HOW DID YOU MAKE THIS??!!”
“You’re going to tell us how you did this, right?”

The DMs pinged into my inbox and I squinted at my screen in confusion. What was all the fuss about?

Over the last week, I’d been cobbling together meals from my pantry and fridge, putting off grocery shopping because we were leaving for vacation.

I’d been hashtagging the experiment #nogrocerychallenge and amusing myself by making homemade croutons out of old hotdog buns and bacon fat I’d saved. I made a Mexican-inspired gazpacho to use up a bunch of vegetables and a cold Vietnamese-ish salad to finally get rid of those rice noodles.

After about 20 DMs politely demanding insight on the topic, I started writing.

And then I wrote some more. And then I wrote a lot more.

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9 Painless Ways To Trick Yourself Into Spending Less

Want some tricks to spending less? Looking for budget tips that don't suck the joy from your life or easy money advice. Click through for tricks to spending less in a way that doesn't suck!Does spending less feel like a long slog of coupon clipping, ramen noodles, and watching everybody have more fun than you on Instagram?

Friend, it doesn’t have to. Hand to God, I swear by these tricks to spending less that feel nigh-on painless. Like, you might not even notice that you’re spending less till you get your surprisingly small credit card bill.  

A giant asterisk: these tricks will absolutely help you buy fewer things you don’t need. HOWEVER. They won’t help you get to the root of why you’re buying things you don’t need in the first place. That’s a much bigger endeavor.

That said, this is a great place to start and when you’re ready to really, actually change your relationship with money, this will help.

9 Painless Ways To Trick Yourself Into Spending Less

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16 fun, cheap ways to celebrate the holidays (that don’t feel chintzy or grinchy)

Looking for cheap ways to celebrate the holidays? Trying to budget for Christmas? Click through for money-saving tips that will make your holidays affordable AND fun!

Are you rolling your eyes and thinking “There is no such thing as a cheap way to celebrate the holidays. Also: It’s still decorative gourd season. DON’T TELL ME HOW TO CELEBRATE!”

Yes. I hear you! I personally refuse to decorate for Christmas or Hanukkah till we’ve finished all the Thanksgiving leftovers. Thou shalt not trim the tree till the stuffing is gone!

But I’m sharing these fun, affordable ways to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Thanksgiving because I want you to have time to plan a holiday season that isn’t filled with overdraft fees and regrettable purchases.

Americans spend $465 billion on Christmas. Meanwhile, the average American has $6,385 in credit card debt and 40% of middle class Americans couldn’t weather a $400 financial emergency. And even if you’re totally debt free, most of us would prefer to spend less money rather than more, right?

Luckily, dialing back holiday spending doesn’t have to feel Grinchy. In fact, it can feel intentional and creative. Truly!

16 fun, cheap ways to celebrate the holidays (that don’t feel chintzy)

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