Category: money and happiness

How To Feel Good (Or Any Other Way You Want To Feel)

Want to feel good? Looking or happiness tips? It's possible to feel any way you want to feel - without spending a bunch of money. Click through for ideas!

Do you want to feel good?

(entire internet rolls their eyes and groans “dur, ooooooobviously, von bargen.”)

Like almost every other human, I’ve spent most of my waking hours trying to feel good. And like every other human I’ve attempted to feel good by…

  • eating many, many bowls of noodles covered in butter and cheese
  • buying one million Target sundresses
  • binge watching Broad City
  • saying snarky things about other people
  • drinking $13 cocktails

And while many of those things made me feel good in the moment (#cheeseandcarbs4eva), they didn’t necessarily lead to long-term happiness. They also, despite my best efforts, didn’t lead to long-term feelings of connection, support, accomplishment, or peace.

As part of my never-ending endeavor to figure out what makes me happy, I like to dig down into my happy-making activities. If I know why something makes me happy and which emotion I’m really seeking, I can do other things that will make me feel the same way.If I understand WHICH emotion I'm chasing, I can find more things that make me feel that way. Click To Tweet

Let’s take, for example, my propensity for drinking $13 cocktails with my girlfriends every Friday afternoon.

Do I love these Friday afternoon drinks because …

  • It feels good to catch up with my friends because I’m seeking connection?
  • I love doing things at a time of day/week/month when most people are at work; day-drinking makes me feel free?
  • Eating and drinking outside is The Actual Best?
  • Being able to buy a $13 cocktail makes me feel successful and accomplished?
    All of the above?

When I understand what I’m seeking by spending $40 every Friday, I can find other things that will make me feel that way! Hopefully for less than $40! And if I do decide to continue my cocktail habit, at least I have a deeper understanding of myself, my needs, and the purchases and activities that meet those needs.

So in an effort to help me understand myself better – and maybe save you a lot of time and effort – I’ve compiled the following list of activities/behaviors/mindset shifts that can help us feel the way we want to feel … not matter what that feeling is.

How to feel connected

Go somewhere people are doing things you love to do – a climbing gym, a writing group, a dance studio, a cooking class. Do what you love in the vicinity of other people who love it, too. Talk to them.

Join Nextdoor, the social networking platform for your neighborhood.

Throw a barbecue and invite all your neighbors, even if you’ve never met them before.

Sit with someone new at lunch.

Invite your friends over for a potluck, a clothing swap, or just a marathon movie-viewing session.

Send an email to a friend you’ve been thinking about.

How to feel supported

Tell your partner/best friend/co-worker “I’ve really been struggling with _______, lately. Can I talk to you about it?”

Find an in-person support group. (I joined a MeetUp group for stepmoms and it’s been invaluable!)

Find a Facebook group, a blog, or an online forum for people who are experiencing what you’re experiencing.

Hire a coach or a therapist to guide you through this.

How to feel accomplished

Update your resume and LinkedIn.

Re-read old academic papers you wrote. Be amazed that you once used the term “brain plasticity” correctly and frequently.

Make a To-Done list, a list of all the things you’ve done in the past month or so. Include house projects, professional undertakings, social outings.

Finish one nagging task you’ve been putting off – making that phone call, paying that bill, finally painting the hall.

Think about where you were 10 years ago.

Clean your fridge, purge your closet, look at your bank account statement and cancel all those $7-a-month subscriptions you’re not using any more.

Volunteer your professional skill set. There are so many volunteer opportunities you can do online! Translation services, design, IT development, etc!

How to feel fancy + luxurious

Unearth all those gift cards you haven’t used and spend them, preferably in a frivolous manner. Use the grocery store gift card to buy imported cheese and cloudberries. Use that Target gift card to buy cute underwear or overpriced skincare.

Put on your swankiest outfit and buy one cocktail at your city’s best bar.

Give yourself a great mani/pedi. Or pay someone to give you a great mani/pedi.

By yourself fresh flowers. Cliche? Yes. Effective? SUPER YES.

Get a blow out.

Spend the extra 30 seconds to make your meals beautiful; eat them at the table, on a placemat. Put ice in your water. Drizzle the sour cream prettily into your soup and sprinkle a few almonds on top.

How to feel peaceful

Turn off the radio when you’re driving. Look at the trees, the houses, the people around you.

Drink less caffeine.

Take off your shoes. Put your bare feet in a lake, in dirt, in grass.

Close your eyes. Take 15 deep breaths.

Refuse to argue about a topic that’s not important to you.

Refuse to argue with someone whose opinion you’re not going to change.

How to feel free

Take a different route to work.

Say no to one obligation or invitation that doesn’t interest you.

Go for a wander around a part of the city you’ve never explored. Leave your phone at home.

Let something go.

Pack something new for lunch. Eat it somewhere different.

Take a half day off.

Tell someone what you really think.

Of course, these are things that would make me feel free/supported/accomplished. Your mileage may vary; only you know what’s right for you.

But I want to hear from you! Have you ever tried this approach? Do you understand what feeling you’re chasing when you make decisions with your time and money? What do you do when you want to feel luxurious/free/peaceful?

P.S. How to figure out what makes you happy + How to bank happiness for tough times.

P.P.S. Did you know I have a (free) private Facebook group dedicated solely to the topics of money and happiness? And the stuff we talk about has helped members change jobs, save thousands of dollars, and fight less with their partners? Join us!

photo credit: ananda escurdero gomes // cc

How To Bank Happiness For Tough Times

Is everything in your life going really well right now? Maybe you should bank some of that happiness, take a few steps to shore up your life, love, and finances so when the going gets tough you've got something to lean on. Click through for 5 steps I've used to do just that >>

How often have you seen “This too shall pass” embroidered onto a throw pillow?

It’s one of my family’s favorite sayings, something to be intoned after a layoff or a breakup and I find myself reciting it on the regular – usually while stuck in traffic.

But realistically, ‘This too shall pass’ applies to the good stuff, too. This season of life when my friends and I have free time and discretionary income, when everyone in my family is healthy, when my husband and I like our jobs and home … it won’t last forever. That’s okay! Smooth seas never made for a skillful sailor.

I’d like to make the argument for banking our happiness.


How To Figure Out What Makes You Happy (so you can do more of it)

What makes you happy? It's a simple question but a lot of us don't really know the answer - or maybe we're doing things that made us happy 10 years ago, but don't do much for us now. Click through for 5 steps that will help you find out EXACTLY what makes you happy, right now >>

Let me begin by acknowledging that the internet probably doesn’t need another post about how to be happier.

(If you do need one, here are 101 ways to cheer yourself up.)

You’re smart. I bet you already own this book. I bet you’ve read eleventy listicles about exercise and journaling and self-care. You’ve read all the happiness tips from The Well-Intentioned Internet People.

But, uh, what if you don’t actually know what makes you happy?


Real talk: you can’t ‘lifehack’ your way to happiness

Lifehacks are great! Productivity tips are wonderful! But they can't change the reality of your life or who you are. Sometimes we need more help than a bullet journal can provide.

If you had to guess – how many times have you clicked on a headline that says something like 53 Ways To Organize Your Closet So You’ll Reach Nirvana? Or Meal Plan Your Way To Personal Enlightenment? Or maybe You’ll Love Your Life If You Can Just Outsource More Of It?

I probably clicked on all of those. I probably clicked on all of them and tucked them in my favorites folder and tried to implement them.

I’m sure I marched around my kitchen chopping vegetables and rifled through my closet, clutching every item of clothing to my chest, trying to decipher if it “sparked joy.” I’m sure I announced to my husband “So, I’ve got this new thing I’m doing.”


12 Cheap Apartment Improvements That Are Totally Worth It

Looking for cheap apartment improvement ideas? Click through for 12 rental DIYs that will make any space more inviting and homey!Potentially controversial opinion alert: I think apartment improvements are pretty much always worth the time and effort.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I like my living space, I spend less money going out, I’m more likely to have friends over, and I’m generally more productive and happier. I even sleep better! All because I spent a weekend painting or swapping out handles!

Today, I brought in ASID-certified interior design Liz MacKeigan to share her best, most affordable rental-improving tips and tricks!

It’s no secret that home ownership instills a sense of pride and a having a stake in your local community. But what about those of us who can’t afford to buy or aren’t ready to settle down with a thirty-year mortgage? There is nothing that says renters can’t also take pride!

I can’t think of a valid reason to wait until “someday” to make yourself feel at home somewhere. Sure, ripping out a bathroom or replacing flooring surfaces is likely out of the question, but it doesn’t mean you can’t inject your personality or creature comforts into your landlord’s place.

At the end of the day, you’ll feel better coming home to a place that’s comforting and personalized to your tastes than you will when coming home to someone else’s poor, beige decisions.

Looking for cheap apartment improvement ideas? Click through for 12 rental DIYs that will make any space more inviting and homey!

Cheap apartment improvements: Living room

Blank walls make me sad. And because I don’t have a fabulous art budget, I’ve gotten creative over the years about hanging things on my walls. Here are some ways to get big art on a small budget, without utilizing your old NKOTB posters:

I made a pretty intense wall mural in college through The Rasterbator.

Aunt Peaches shows us how to turn wrapping paper into legit art.

If geography is your thing, blow up or photocopy a map and break out the Mod Podge for an inexpensive oversized map. I made something like this for a first-anniversary gift to my husband and now we paint the route of every road trip we take together. Awwwww.

Washi tape can make magical things happen to your walls.

When hanging art, remember to keep it relatively at eye level, and hang pieces in groupings on large walls if your frames are less than 36”.
Looking for cheap apartment improvement ideas? Click through for 12 rental DIYs that will make any space more inviting and homey!

Cheap apartment improvements: Kitchen + bathroom

Kitchens and bathrooms in rentals typically leave a little to be desired. Without causing damage, you can typically make some small changes to make cooking feel a little nicer. Here’s how:

Upgrade your backsplash

A few rolls of temporary wallpaper or a quart of paint and a stencil can make a huge impact.

Swap out your knobs & pulls. Knobs are easy because they have one screw, but did you know there are adjustable pulls on the market? They’re great because you can haul them from place to place. These are my favorite.

Take off some cabinet doors! My teeny apartment in college had two-toned kitchen doors that were peeling, so I yanked them down and installed pretty contact paper the back of the cabinets. The kitchen felt larger and the doors were no longer mocking my sensibilities.


Looking for cheap apartment improvement ideas? Click through for 12 rental DIYs that will make any space more inviting and homey!

Cheap apartment improvements: Bedrooms

Need extra storage? A few inexpensive wall shelves and a can of gold spray paint might just solve all of your problems.

If you’re having trouble locating the right furniture for your space, check out my old post on tips for selecting pieces that can move with you from place to place.

And finally, check out my tips for giving your lighting a boost and installing good window treatments, all on a budget.

Looking for cheap apartment improvement ideas? Click through for 12 rental DIYs that will make any space more inviting and homey!

If you have any other suggestions for giving your apartment a little love, please share in the comments!

P.S. 11 DIY headboards + 5 ways to hide your tv

photo credits: decor8 holly // bolster // brit + co // plaster and disaster // homey oh my! // bolster // ikea // cc

23 Ways To Treat Yo’ Self Without Buying Or Eating Anything

Want to practice self-care without sabotaging your diet or budget? Looking for some ways to reward yourself without breaking the bank? Click through for 23 great ideas! #cheapselfcare #healthyselfcare

Here are some ‘treats’ that I regularly give myself because I ‘deserve’ them:

* An entire block of Parmesan. Not on something, mind you. Just the cheese. Just the brick. I just hold it in my hand and take bites of it like an apple.
* Piles of $5 lady magazines
* Not brushing my teeth before bed (??!!??)

In case you’re keeping track, exactly zero of those things are good for me. In excess, each of those things is pretty detrimental to my physical and emotional well-being.

But here I sit, ‘rewarding’ myself with things that – if I’m not careful – will give me a stomachache, make me feel less-than,  and give me cavities.

Ridiculous, right?
And what’s even more ridiculous is that I’m often treating myself after a hard, frustration-filled day. And what am I frustrated about? Oh, you know, feeling less than or drained or urpy.

I am literally engaging in ‘reward’ behavior that will make me feel worse in the long run!

Stop it, self. Stop. It.

I want better for myself. And if you are human and occasionally treat yourself in not-particularly-healthy ways, I rounded up 23 ways we can reward ourselves that don’t involve buying or eating anything.

It's totally possible to 'treat yourself' in a way that doesn't undermine your health or your bank account. Click To Tweet

1. Take a nap
Sleeping is awesome and I bet about 99.7% of us aren’t getting enough of it. Make your nap even more treat-like by changing your pillow case (it gives you that ‘new sheet’ feeling with less work), taking off your bra and spraying a bit of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil onto your pillow.

2. Give yourself a mani or pedi
Add a few drops of essential oil and body wash to a pretty bowl of warm water and soak your extremities while you watch an episode of Broad City. If you don’t have a manicure or pedicure set, push your cuticles back with a wet washcloth. If you’re feeling fancy, exfoliate with a brown sugar body scrub and slick on a few coats of a color you love.

3. Re-read a favorite book
Resist the urge to treat yourself to a new book purchase! Trawl your local library the way you’d trawl a used bookstore or just re-read one of your favorite ‘comfort reading’ books. I’ve been reading a few chapters of this book every morning and I JUST LOVE IT.

4. Take a day off work for no reason at all
And then don’t run a single errand or go to a single appointment! YOU CAN DO IT I HAVE FAITH IN YOU. Use your day off to do awesomely unproductive things: sleep in, make yourself a big pancake breakfast, explore new parts of your neighborhood, Skype with friends in other time zones, write a letter to your Grandma. Nap.

5. Take a hot bath
Add powdered milk. Or flower petals. Or Epsom salts or bubble bath. Turn on your favorite mellow music, light a few candles, and stay in the tub so long you wrinkle and raisin.

6. Have a Netflix movie marathon
Now, this is a personal preference, but I think the best movie marathons are movies that you’ve already seen and/or movies that don’t require rapt attention. You need to be able to fall asleep halfway through or get up and make yourself popcorn! Suggested marathons: The Anne Of Green Gables movies, BBC’s Pride & Prejudice, all the Wes Anderson movies, all the Judd Apatow movies, everything Dolly Parton has ever starred in.

7. Listen to your favorite music
Make a playlist of all your absolute favorite music, choosing not to care if it’s thematically similar, segues nicely, or is ‘embarrassing.’ My favorite playlist goes like this: Dolly Parton, The Knux, Pharrell, Kasey Musgraves, Ke$ha, Flo Rida, Beirut. WUT.

8. Visit a pet shelter
So many snuggles and cuddles! And you don’t have to clean fur off your sofa or worry about that spot on the rug!

9. Take an aimless walk WITHOUT YOUR PHONE
Getting out into nature is lovely and calming and centering. Getting out into nature without the temptation to tweet, update, or Instagram about it is exponentially more lovely, calming, and centering. I’ll do it if you will.

10. Make a DIY face mask
It’s a cliché for a reason, that reason being: it’s awesome. You probably have everything you need for a face mask in your kitchen right now.

11. Go for a drive
Do you live near a body of water or a mountain/bluff/large hill-type thing? Go for a drive near it or on it. It’ll be sweet and relaxing and refreshing. Promise.

12. Watch a Youtube makeup tutorial and experiment
Do you, too, have a whole drawer of lipsticks and bronzers and eyeliners you’re not using? Have a search through Youtube and see if you can find some new ways to use them. Do you know how to contour? Do a real, serious cat eye? I don’t. Let’s learn!

13. Walk near some water with someone you love
Ahhhhhhh. Feel those shoulders come down from around your ears and your blood pressure drop.

14. Devote some time to self-pleasure

15. Go for a nice bike ride
Not to get exercise. Not to pick up some milk or tire out the dog. Ride someplace pretty and scenic and not overrun with other cyclists. Ride at a pace that feels easy and good and notice what’s happening around you.

16. Listen to an awesome podcast
No, but really listen to it. Lay down on the sofa, open your ears and just soak it up. Like everyone else, I love This American Life and Awesome Etiquette.

17. Go window shopping
This is almost as fun as actual shopping. Pack yourself a travel mug of something sip-able and then wander through your city’s swankiest shopping district. Peek into the windows and imagine where, exactly, you’d wear that avant-garde cape that costs $3,000.

18. Visit a free museum
I bet your city has heaps! Or at least they have a few free nights each month. Here in Minneapolis, The Walker is free every Thursday evening and The MIA is always free!

19. People watch
One of my all-time favorite activities is watching people and making up stories about them. Second favorite activity: going for ‘house walks’ with my BFF and making up stories about the people who live in said houses.

A few of my favorite people-watching places: the airport, any public transportation hub, any downtown area during lunch hour or after work, flea markets, farmers’ markets, anywhere near a stadium on a big game day.

20. Take time to do your hair and makeup
Even if you’re not going anywhere. Every time I take the 10 minutes required to apply eyeliner and curl my hair I’m floored by how different I look and how confident I feel.

21. Watch a Youtube yoga or dance tutorial
Youtube dance tutorials are The Actual Best And Most Fun. No one ever has to know what you look like when you’re twerking! You can just keep rewinding and re-trying till you either a) get it b) collapse from laughing at yourself.

22. If you already have a gym membership, go there and take advantage of the non-athletic stuff
I mean, you can also go to the gym and work out but I don’t think that’s much of a treat, do you? Does your gym have a sauna? Or a hot tub? Go have a soak or a steam!

23. Shave your legs and put clean sheets on your bed
This is probably the best any of us will ever feel in our entire lives.

Do you ever find yourself ‘treating’ yourself in ways that aren’t actually …. beneficial? What are your favorite non-buying, non-eating rewards?

P.S. How to figure out what makes you happy (so you can add more of it to your life) 

P.P.S. Did you know I have a (free) private Facebook group dedicated solely to the topics of money and happiness? And the stuff we talk about has helped members change jobs, save thousands of dollars, and fight less with their partners? Join us!

Photo by Katie Harp – Pinterest Manager on Unsplash