You Should Probably Be Budgeting

Budgeting is something everyone needs to practice.

It can be hard, especially if you don’t think you make enough to put any in savings after bills. I started budgeting recently when I realized I had nothing to fall back on if my cat became ill or need repairs on my car.

50/30/20 rule is a system created by breaking down your monthly expenses. It’s great for those who have the same pay every month. This method can also work for those who work in the food industry or a job where monthly income isn’t always the same. Slight adjustments make this method easy for anyone.

Add up all your expenses.

This includes rent, utilities, student loans, and groceries. All the things that are non-negotiable. This alone will be a real eye opener at how much your paycheck is spent by default.
Normally, this will equal to around 50% of your monthly income.
Now add unnecessary expenses.
 
Essentially, unnecessary expenses include internet, eating out, gym, and cell phone bills. But we all know these are actually necessary – things you could live without though if mandatory. This should be 30% of your monthly income.

These add up fast.

What’s left over?

20% left to savings and future goals. Looking to finance a new computer or save up for a house? That’s where this will come from.

If you spend the same every month it’s easy to direct deposit to a savings account. Then, you’ll never have to think about it. This process is almost fool-proof and leaves you with money for going out with friends, and all those lattes you need to get through the week!

It’s beneficial to transfer something over, even if you’re not able to deposit the same amount of money every month. It’s been a goal I’ve set for myself this year. Now If I ever have an emergency, I am confident I can support myself, and that’s a great feeling.
How do you organize your monthly budget?

FINESSE: Restore + Strengthen Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner Review

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Recently I’ve been trying to embrace my natural beauty. I took a leap and performed a ColorOops treatment of my hair, followed by a hydrating hair mask. The results are exactly what I wanted – closer to my natural hair color! I loved the darker brown, but it didn’t feel like ‘me’. I wasn’t so surprised by how frizzy my hair was even after I used the hair mask.
I’ve used so many different types of shampoo over the years. I won’t even go into the time I went through a period where I washed my hair with baking soda and vinegar (I also wasn’t shaving my arms or legs at that time, so it makes sense). Anyway, I’ve tried it all – Cleaning conditioners, fancy salon brands, and various brands from drug stores. I’m definitely a “don’t know it until you try it” kinda gal.
For about a week Finesse has been the only shampoo and conditioner combo I used. I researched the company before hand and read they’re known for reducing frizziness. I was hoping it would be my saving grace.
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My hair has a natural wave but unfortunately I apply heat to it so much I swear they’ve lost their luster. I stopped applying all heat to my hair while using Finesse to get the full-effect of the product. Except my bangs…because if you have bangs you know how stubborn they can be.
I was expecting both products to smell floral or like some type of sweet fruit, like most shampoos. But, there’s not much of a scent at all which I found to be quite refreshing. I didn’t need a lot of product to produce a nice lather over my entire scalp so this bottle will last me a month or two.
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After the first wash I immediately noticed how soft it was! It wasn’t harsh on my hair at all and I didn’t have to wash it again for 3 days, which is pretty normal for me.
A week in and my hair is soft and wavy again. I still have frizziness here and there but that’s expected. You can purchase Finesse shampoo and conditioner at Walgreens or order online here.
Thanks, Finesse for sponsoring this post. I received this product in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

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Bridge Nine Candle Co. | Pineapple Sage

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Living in the South has always been such a blessing I take for granted. The weather is pretty much always warm. We truly don’t know what a real winter’s like here (I experienced it first hand in NYC back in December and it was more than I expected). Okay, we have our sold spells but it’s really nothing compared to the winter ‘up there’.
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However, down here we get a taste of the sun’s warmth sporadically through the winter months so it’s pretty tempting to begin gardening and spring cleaning a little early every year. After all, it allows more time to actually stop and smell the flowers once they decide to make their appearance.
For spring this year I want to incorporate more plants in my home (hopefully I won’t kill them), flowers, and everything else that makes a home feel alive and bright but still sink-in-the-couch-and-binge-Golden Girls-comfortable. I absolutely cannot wait until the warm weather is a constant and friends are in and out of the house all the time. I’m at my happiest when I host a group in my home. That’s why it’s so important for the living space and kitchen to be warm and inviting.
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One thing that never fails to add coziness to a space are candles. I usually keep a mixture of all different scents I use anytime throughout the year – I just put away a pumpkin spice candle I’ve been burning since September. No shame.
The scent filling up my home currently is Pineapple Sage from Bridge Nine Candle Co. These soy candles are  sourced from American farmers, which makes this product worth every penny. It’s fruitiness intertwined with the earthy sage has great depth. I really love that the sage cuts the sweetness of the pineapple that creates such a happy blend. The scent coats my entire living room as soon as I light it up and even comes with a book of matches! Adorable. It’s the little things.
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 Bridge Nine Candle Co. is offering all of my readers a 20% discount off all orders – simple use the code ‘neutralfig’ when purchasing. Make sure you follow me on Instagram to stay updated with the latest blog posts and special offers.
Image credits: Max Palmer 

Make it Yourself: Choker Tee

I recently stumbled upon this kind of shirt and I’m obsessed. Finding a shirt I wanted to use was the hardest part. If you have any kind of old t-shirt laying around, you can easily create a built-in choker.

Your supplies:
-White crayon or any kind of fabric marker
-Scissors

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Mark your shirt with curved lines that go from the collar to a center point. I put on the shirt and marked how far down I wanted it to go to make sure I didn’t cut too far down. I went down about mid chest. (Wasn’t quite sure where I wanted my lines to go, can’t you tell? I’m no artist, anyway)

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Cut along the lines. ~ Don’t cut the collar! Follow the seams around it. If your lines make you cut unevenly, here’s your time to make any extra snips. Tug on the fabric where you just made your cuts. It makes it look a little more worn and natural.

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That’s it! I love the grungy look it gives this band t, but you can always use an unprinted shirt and give it a little edge.

Love,

I Attended Nashville’s Women’s March on Washington & These are the Thoughts Going Through My Mind

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, two friends and I marched with 15,000 men and women in downtown nashville to support women’s right and that means women of all races and transgender individuals, too. In a world where there is so much hate and judgement it’s especially important to be confident in what you believe in.

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While at the march I felt such an overwhelming sense of pride and freedom “I’m an American. I have the freedom to do this,” wouldn’t leave my mind. I saw people of all ages and races walking, singing, and laughing together. We were all there supporting each other. I do have a voice and in this free country we live in we are able to express that.

The Women’s March on Washington is not solely a march about abortion. That has something to do with it, yes we all know that. But I can guarantee there were many people in that crowd who personally do not believe abortion is right.

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As a Christian, this has been a conflicting topic for me. I know God does not see it as okay, ever. However, I do not believe Christians should steer the reigns on how the general public lives their lives. Not everyone in America is part of the Christian religion. Therefore, we should not force people to live by those standards.

So a bunch of people who call themselves ‘feminists’ go shout and protest with their signs downtown. But what exactly is a feminist?

Feminist (n) : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
***equality of the sexes***

Please now feminists are not all:
– Man-haters
Liberal
Full of hate
Non-religious or Anti-Christian
Pro-choice

There will always be individuals who make a group look bad. Always. Those who are hateful, disrespectful, or just outright unpleasant. Do not associate all feminists with those who are spreading hate. Feminists are regular men and women who think we should all be treated the same.

In an article on The Odyssey by Gina Davis titled “I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists,” she goes on about how she doesn’t appreciate the way ‘feminists’ put men down for being nice…or just simply for being a man in society. Davis mentions feminists are infuriated when a date pays for their check which definitely an over exaggeration. I can just go ahead and say if you’re giving me free food, I will never say no. The females who would reject a date paying for her meal, in the name of feminism, probably has the wrong attitude towards it. Chivalry is still a thing and we do appreciate it. 

As a feminist (remember that means someone who believes in being treated equally), I take pride in taking my boyfriend on dates and paying for his meal from time to time. That is equality. That is feminism. My boyfriend still takes care of me and I would never tear him down for doing so. Davis is not speaking about actual feminists, but speaking of those who label themselves as feminists but are in fact giving us a bad name. 

When you do not agree with a certain opinion, such as the idea as feminism (or your warped perception), it’s easy to find a million things wrong with it. I get that.

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Which leads me to start talking about the man who we now call president. 

This walk was not a pro-Trump event, either. So automatically, if you are pro-Trump, you’re probably anti Women’s March on Washington and the word ‘feminism’ anyway. He has degraded women and that alone was enough reason to march on Saturday. I’m not going to go into political mumbo jumbo, but he is scary. He might “Make America Great Again,” and I honestly doubt he will, but as the president I hope he does. America has voted in a TV reality star to guide this country. This is a JOKE

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At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what your (or my) political perspective is. What I do care about is kindness, and I do not support anyone who is disrespectful when it comes to accepting difference of opinion. Whether we have the same views or not, if you cannot accept someone thinks differently than you, please sit back and evaluate your attitude. We do live in America, a free country, and it’s important to understand why someone thinks the way they do.

Coming from a conservative family, I’d like to give a shoutout to my dad for teaching me that difference of opinion is okay. My parents listen to me and I listen to them. We agree to disagree. At the end of the day, they still love their liberal daughter who isn’t scared to stand up for what she believes in. 

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Bloomin’ Jack-O-Lantern DIY

Fall is here. Finally! September 22 is the day most of us have been waiting for! The leaves are starting to change and the sun isn’t as harsh when it’s shining, but it’s still warm here in Tennessee. These are all things I find beautiful along with the spookiness and crispness of Halloween time.

This year, along with some Pinterest inspiration, I found the easiest and, in my opinion, cutest decor for outside your front door. These pumpkins are easily found at Walmart or any other store that sells Halloween costumes, and they are usually no more than $1. When I was little I only remember them being neon orange though….not pink and green or blue? Oh well. I’m not asking any questions.

I absolutely love plants. I’ve really picked up on my green thumb lately. I would suggest to double check and make sure the plants you choose are made to last during the fall and winter months. I know a lot of stores are still trying to get rid of the leftover summer plants.

This craft is right up my alley, because all together it cost me under $20. The real task is going to be keeping the flowers alive! Wish me luck. I’d like to give a shoutout to my mom for helping me make these. She said she never crafts, but she enjoyed making them with me.

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Things You’ll Need:

  • plastic Jack-O-Lantern candy bucket
  • Primer spray paint* (white)
  • Any fall color spray paint*
  • Fall Plant
  • Extra Potting Soil
  • Hammer + Nails (trust me)

*make sure the spray paint you choose is made for plastic, I used Rust-oleum. It will say if it’s plastic-friendly on the label.

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Step 1:

Pull the handle out of the jack-o-lantern and apply the first coat of primer. Let that dry for about 20 minutes. You’ll probably notice the color still peeking through, so apply a second coat of primer and let that dry completely. About 20 minutes each coat.

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Step 2:

Once the second coat of primer has dried completely, it’s time to apply the color. I actually thought this color was more bronzy but it turned out to be orange, so it’s still actually very appropriate. It’s called Satin Cinnamon if you were wondering.

We also applied 2 coats of the color to ensure complete coverage. It’s pretty much impossible to complete this without getting a little paint on you, so just embrace it! #doitforthecraft Allow the paint to dry completely.

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Step 3:

So the plant will drain properly when watered, turn the dry jack-o-lantern upside down and nail about 4 holes into the bottom.

Step 4:

Now for the fun part!

I chose these gorgeous yellow flowers, they actually match perfectly with the paint color I chose. The label on thesesaid they would last all through the cold seasons too, so we’ll see about that. They were each $6 at Walmart.

Make sure you do a comparison of the flower pot to the pumpkin. We had trouble getting the plant to fit at first. We added soil in the jack-o-lantern to make sure there was enough to touch inside. With a little fluffing and adjustments, we have a completed flower pot to go outside!

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This is the first part to the many, many fall-friendly decor ideas I have. I’d love to see your fall plant or inside decor. Post a photo on Instagram using the hashtag #NFgreenthumb and #NFcrafts !

Keep up with me on social: Insta: @blowfishemoji | snapchat: @kay0

Love,

Alternative Anniversary Gifts You Should Try with Your Significant Other

Max and I just recently celebrated out 2 year 6 month anniversary. Even though it’s not a particularly important landmark in a relationship, it got me thinking of options for our 3 year anniversary. We’ve been known to do things a little differently; it’s kind of been our ongoing  theme throughout our entire relationship.

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Since distance has always been our issue (but not anymore 🙂 ), we usually celebrated in a slightly different way, usually by traveling to a new place. I think I can speak for both of us when I say travel is our favorite gift to one another.

For our two year anniversary, Max surprised me with a weekend trip to Asheville, North Carolina. It was amazing and I had been itching to try a new place!

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Maybe next birthday, anniversary, or whatever you’re celebrating you can find an alternative gift that will surprise the heck out of your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse!

Make a Meal

An alternative to making reservations and eating in a restaurant is creating the meal together! It’s okay if you don’t actually know how to cook. Cooking classes can be found on Groupon and Whole Foods has a large variety of couples cooking classes and single classes. You can even sign up individually if there aren’t any couples classes available.

Do Something Daring

Have you ever been skydiving or is it something you think would be insane? Perfect. Take a chance and experiment with facing a fear – like heights. Maybe even snorkeling or swimming with dolphins is more your thing.

Since fall is creeping up get each other tickets to a haunted house. That is definitely a fun memory to share with your bae.

Or Do Something Relaxing

Let me be the one to say I love a good massage. Your muscles can get achy and stiff, especially in the cooler months. Many places such as Massage Envy offer couples’ deals.

It’s dark, relaxing, and your favorite person is in the room right next to you.

Travel

There’s a little part in all of us that wonders what all is out there, right? Or is it just me? Definitely not. When Max surprised me with our trip to Asheville, it open new doors for us in the gift giving department. I was completely oblivious!

Stay overnight in a town 1 hour away. Hop in a plane and stay somewhere for the entire week. Explore a new city and find your favorite things about it. Traveling with your best friend makes wherever you go an adventure.

 

The best part about all these gift ideas, is they can be planned together. Look into all your options before your next anniversary and make it a memory you’ll hold tight for years to come.

Love,

 

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Does everyone feel nostalgic about your hometown at some point or another or is it just me? Is that what is feels like to be “homesick” – something I’ve never admitted to before?

After leaving home almost 6 months ago, I haven’t looked back since besides a short 24 hour visit to celebrate the great dads in my life. I’ve been busy with online school, an internship, a job, and building and maintaining new friendships. Now that I’m settled in my big city, I can’t help to think of what I would do if I moved back to my hometown. Who would I hangout with? Where would I work? I’d get to see my friends and family a lot more, but would I always be wondering about what else is out there?

I’ve also had an intense wonder of what is actually ‘out there.’ I’ve been very tempted to just get on a megabus and go. (I’m now obsessed with megabuses since a coworker introduced them to me)

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I’m learning about who I am and that can be scary. Do you ever do things that are out of character? I do. And those are the thoughts that keep me up at night sometimes. I’ve learned a lot about forgiveness and why people do it. How can some people do it so easily? Those people are good people.

I’ve been writing letters and baking more lately, those are two things I love, that make me feel like myself. How come the yummiest treats have the worst ingredients? Like a whole stick of butter. Comfort food.

The letters are so personal and they make me actually use my brain. Not the brain I use when studying statistics, but the brain I use when I’m having a conversation with a close friend; the kind where you can’t even catch your breath.

What I’m really trying to say is: I’ve been drinking coffee past 5pm and I need to reconsider next time. Life is weird and it happens all the time without slowing down.

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A Life Revive: Noticing the Monotony and Embracing Small Changes

It’s so easy to get used to the swing of things. The routines, tasks, and work we have every day can become mundane without even realizing it. It’s sometimes hard to step back and take a look at our lives from an outside perspective, too.

There are things we can’t necessarily change all of a sudden like roommates or sucky job positions, but there are things you can do to make these not-so-ideal situations (such as life lol) more bearable.

 

Good night’s rest

Relaxing and snuggling into bed are probably high on anyone’s ‘favorite things’ list. It’s not easy to go to bed at a decent hours but oh it does make such a difference. Putting a couple things off until tomorrow here and there will make you just that much stronger in the morning and maybe you won’t have that fog over your head when you wake up!

If winding down is hard for you, I’ve shared some tips on getting relaxed before bed a few months ago on the blog.

 

Set A Routine Skeleton

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One of the hardest things to accomplish is having an order to your day. Week by week, day to day, things change, and that’s completely normal. It can throw off good eating habits and your well-planned workout schedule.

Instead of beating yourself up when your tasks aren’t completed in order, praise yourself when you’re able to get most of them done.

I think this is a truly important things to remember.

 

 

Pluck negative people

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The people around you have more of an effect on you than you would ever imagine. I’ve had many, many instances where I was in the best mood, then someone comes along and ruins it with a rotten attitude.

Be encouraging. Ask how your roommate’s or coworker’s day was (even if you honestly could care less). We never know what’s going on in other people’s minds.

The most rewarding part is realizing how much better off you are without those people in your life who drag you down. It’s worth a shot and can really save you a heartache in the end.

 

Check Yourself Out

giphy (18)The daily, Monday through Friday, hair and makeup routine gets old, let’s admit it. Same foundation, same winged eyeliner – it’s always pretty but after seeing it everyday can be monotonous.

How about next time you get ready, just stop and look at yourself. (If you’re like me you’ll end up bursting out with laughter) You are gorgeous, COME ON! This might sound like the silliest thing you’ve ever read, but it can really lighten you mood and boost your confidence – which are two things that steadily increase productivity.

 

Make ‘Me’ Time

IMG_0491Being surrounded by people all the time can be extremely comforting and humbling. Never take this for granted – embrace it to its fullest. The time comes when we need to take some time for ourselves. It can be hard when work or family are always #1 on the priorities list.

I’m no expert on this subject because I’m not married, no children, and I only work part time. However, I know one thing’s true: alone time is important. I love having a ‘Kayla day’ where I go to the mall by myself to slowing finger through every item in the sale rack twice, share an ice cream with myself, and sing all the song I want to hear in the car.

My ‘me time’ is special for so many reasons – one being it makes me realize how vital my family and friends are. If I had no one, this time by myself would take on a whole different meaning.

 

Take a walk. Bust a loop around town. Go to your morning yoga class.

 

Remember who you are, what you have, and know that you mean so much to so many people. Life can be so very monotonous so we need to make it a priority to sit back and help ourselves.

Love,

Getting Ready to Go LIVE on TicketChat!

If you saw my post yesterday, you know I’m holding a discussion on a new social app called TicketChat. It’s free in the app store and let’s you connect with people all around the world.

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At 12pm CST I’ll be talking about some new products I recently purchased, relationship biz, and plant-based eating tips and things I eat on the reg.

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It’s so new to me, I’m just thinking of things I can talk about. Who knows what it’ll evolve into.

See you then!

Love,