2017 Money Saving Challenge: January

As most of you may have read, I am doing a Money Saving Challenge for 2017. In January, my challenge was to create a grocery budget. More importantly, I wanted to create one that I could stick to.

 

pexels-photo

 

First, I’ll give you a little background info. I’m single, I try to eat healthy 80% of the time, & I like to do all of my grocery shopping at Aldi. Sometimes I’ll hit up Shop & Save or Giant Eagle for something small if I am short on time & just need an item I forgot. I also don’t really cook. I know, I know. But – one reason is that I don’t like cooking for just me! I’ll make something every so often, but I’ll rarely eat all of it (even if I eat leftovers for the whole week, its rare the entire amount of food gets eaten) & I also don’t enjoy a lot of hot food. Don’t ask me why – it’s just what I like. I also don’t eat a huge dinner. My biggest meals are breakfast & lunch. Since I’m normally working out after work, I tend to eat a small dinner – sometimes just some yogurt & fruit & it satisfies me.

As far as the budget goes – I printed out my bank statements for the past 3 months & highlighted my grocery spending. What I came up with was pretty low, & I think it’s because of the holidays & the fact that I was eating out so much due to being short on money & for whatever reason, I was programmed into thinking that eating out is cheaper than buying food – NEWS FLASH: IT’S NOT. In line with the “new year, better me” in 2017, I’m getting my shit together & doing my best to being a better adult.

Right now, my budget is $120/mo. This is a super flexible budget – let’s call this my trial run month since I have no idea what I’m actually spending each month. We’ll see how $120 goes, and if necessary, I will re-adjust for February. I normally only spend around $30 each time I go, so this should work – but TBD.

Here’s how I plan to stick to a grocery budget:

Shop at Aldi – I swear this place has such great prices. Their produce can be iffy if you go at a time where they haven’t gotten a shipment in a few days, but if you shop there enough, you can usually time it right. Plus, I’m sure they wouldn’t have a problem telling you when they get their fresh stuff in.

Meal prep – I use the app “Out of Milk” as a grocery list. As I think of things I want to eat/make for the next week, I add it to the list. Sometimes it’s hard to think of meals & things, but I want to try to make more of an effort. Again, I’m not so much of a hot food person, so usually I just like to stick to making some chicken in the crockpot & making wraps for the week, or getting creative with a salad.

Take advice from others – Thankfully I have some friends who are way better at being an adult than I am, so I reach out to them frequently. Whether it be for meal ideas, budgeting ideas, shopping ideas – I’ve always got someone to turn to.

Take advantage of sales! – This is a big one. Aldi DOES send out their flyers but I’ll be honest, I never read them. Everything is such a great price there that I almost never look at their sales prior to going in there. I’m going to see what that’s all about & if I benefit from it – great! Or if I choose to stick to just going in blind, that’s cool too.

Does anyone else have a grocery ‘budget’? It’s kind of fun challenging yourself to stay within the limit you have set for yourself. Let’s talk if you have any other helpful ideas!! I could always use advice on how to be a better adult 🙂

Rock ‘n Roll Raleigh Half Training – Week 2

First, I wanted to post about how the Pittsburgh Marathon interviewed me for their Fundraiser Friday series & I got to talk about my story & why I run for the ALS Association. Friday was an emotional day when it came out, but I loved the article so much. If you’re interested in reading it,  here it is. 

Also, in case you would like to donate (which would mean so much to me, here’s the link to do so. Skip your morning Starbucks or your afternoon lunch to donate to this amazing cause! 

 
Week 2 in the books! Another great week in my opinion. I was able to get in (most) of the miles I wanted to & I only had one “bad” run. Let’s take a look!

rock-n-roll-raleigh-half-marathon-training

Sunday – Single digit temps, negative degree wind chills: that’s a hard pass for me. Rest day!

Monday – I had a meeting with Pro Bike + Run after work so I spent the evening talking about putting good things in the works for the running club! I’m excited at the possibilities.

Tuesday – I took the day off, but we had some snow + a little ice first thing in the morning. I did some chores around the house, was super adult & after I was done cleaning I was feeling antsy so I headed out for a run. Luckily, the roads were great & I got in a little over a 4 mile run around the city. This was by far the best run I’ve had in a long time. Legs felt great, pace felt effortless (11:30 avg) & the temperature was great for this time of year.

 

Wednesday – After work, I headed to EFX class. Great work out & was so happy I wasn’t as sore as last week! I felt the majority of the effort in my arms & I got a great sweat in!

 

Thursday – It was almost 60 degrees this day! I was hoping for a run downtown after work, but it ended up torrential downpouring instead. I had not fueled well at all this entire day, so I wasn’t sure how this run was gonna go. I only got through a mile & a half on the treadmill & decided to stop. I hate junk miles. If I’m not feeling it, I don’t push it.

Friday – Rest day

Saturday – 5.5 miles with Pro Bike + Run! It was a great morning. Wasn’t too, too chilly & we had a huge group! I got to meet some new people & I had a lot of fun talking & running with everyone! I also finally got to meet Jen & I am so looking forward to running with her more!

 

After the run, Jessie & I headed to Delanie’s in the Southside for some coffee. What a great place this was! Awesome art on the walls & it had an upstairs with nice seating. I got this amazing croissant. I ordered a croissant with honey butter + banana. I literally thought I was just going to get a croissant with some honey butter I had to spread myself & a banana but NOPE. I got this beauty & it was absolutely delicious. I will for sure be back.

 

School starts tomorrow, so my ‘real’ schedule starts but I’m looking at it as a challenge so I hope my miles + great workouts continue all the while killing the school game!

How was your week? Do you have any favorite local coffee shops in your area?

Friday Five 1.13.17

Happy Friday! 😀

So, I’m laying on my couch last night finishing up the Season 3 finale of Game of Thrones & I realize I haven’t even written a Friday Five post for today. I immediately thought well.. I have nothing to write about! Which is sort of true.. everything I’m excited to write about is already in “Scheduled” mode, ready to go out in the coming weeks. So I’m going to wing it today.. probably won’t be that interesting but hey, let’s see what we can come up with. Here’s some favorites from the week…

1. Golden Globes moments. Specifically Meryl’s & Ryan Gosling’s. And if you don’t know what I’m referring to: you should YouTube both moments. Immediately.

ryan-gosling-et-emma-stone-dans-la-la-land_exact1900x908_l

I’m seeing this movie tomorrow & I CAN’T WAIT.

2. Remember that Money Saving Challenge post I did on Wednesday? It turns out that I’ve now become oddly obsessed with budgeting & saving money this year. No joke, I’m equally proud & disturbed. Cue the reading of budget blogs now. I can’t stop!! I stumbled upon Our Freaking Budget & liked what I read. Also up for any other blogs that are interesting/deal with finances, meal planning, budgets etc so throw ’em my way if you have ’em.

3. Ever since Jan 1, every night before I go to bed I write down the date & one good thing that happened that day on a post it note. I then put it in a box. I plan to do this for the entire year so that on December 31st 2017, I can look back on all of the good things that happened this year & remember that no matter what happens, good things do happen.. even if sometimes the only good thing was that I got out of bed.

4. Aly Raisman for Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition! She looks amazing & had an even better statement for her fans: “I’m very proud of my body and how hard I have worked to look like this. I of course like everyone else have my days where I feel insecure and not at my best. BUT I think it is that much more important we love our bodies and support each other. It is 2017 and there is NO perfect or ideal body type.”      YASS girl!

aly-raisman-in-sports-illustrated-swimsuit-2017_1

 

5. Spring semester starts on Tuesday for me. Ugh. I’m so not ready to go back. BUT – starting again means the sooner I can finish. Anatomy 2, here I come!

 

Happy 3 day weekend to me! What is on everyone’s agenda this weekend? What do you plan to do to get up & active?

Lets Talk Money – First Quarter

Let’s do it. Let’s talk about the one thing that everyone wants & can’t seem to ever have enough of… money. I am going to be completely & 100% honest in these financial goal posts because it’s time to be real with not just you guys, but with myself.

hiring

I’ll be 28 in less than 8 weeks & I have zero $ in my savings. Not because I had to spend it on something, but because I have incredibly poor money managing skills & I never made  saving money a priority in my life. I have been able to rely on my parents for a handful of things in which I have been so, so fortunate. But – I’m about to be 28! It’s time for me to wake up & take responsibility for my actions & create some financial goals that are actually going to work for me.. and will hopefully one day lead me to some sort of secure feeling when it comes to money.

I was introduced to a company called Earnest and their 2017 Money Saving Challenge at the perfect time. I’ve included a few personal financial goals for myself which is included into this awesome graphic that is separated into each quarter of the year.

ciara_moneysavingchallenge.jpg

How awesome is this?!

I am officially intrigued. And so motivated to make changes for myself. I’m going to make this a quarterly series & give myself these specific financial challenges each month! Making these goals for yourself.. or even taking some of these ideas & creating your own is so important for future financial security. Whether it’s saving up for a big trip or saving up to buy a house.. your finances are important. And who has those pesky student loans still out there?! That’s a significant amount of debt for most people. I’m not done with school yet, but once I am done & graduated in 2019 – I’ll be like the rest of America.. trying hard to pay off their student loans. Earnest was actually created to support graduates with services to refinance student loans to lower monthly payments and thousands of dollars off your debt.

Let’s focus on the first quarter of the Money Saving Challenge:

ciara_moneysavingchallengeq1

For January, the challenge is to split your holiday bonus into thirds. My employer doesn’t give holiday bonuses, so this challenge actually won’t work. So I’m going to give myself my own challenge – I’m going to make a grocery budget. I’m planning on taking the average I’ve spent on groceries in the last 3 months & start with that.

February I challenged myself to NO DUNKIN or STARBUCKS. Anyone who knows me know that I visit Dunkin Donuts 6 days a week. But, it’s time to stop. I spend entirely too much money there.

In March I’m going to do my own “Cash Confessional” post for you guys! I’m going to outline my spending during a typical week & show ya’ll my current expenses.

I hope you all enjoy this series & can get something out of it. Bottom line, money is important! Money surely isn’t everything, but it does help if you have your finances in order. Anyone want to join me on this challenge?! I can’t wait to report back as the year goes on!

Rock ‘n Roll Raleigh Half Training – Week 1

Week 1 is complete! I didn’t get in as many miles as I wanted to because I spent like 3 days before so, so sore – but I still did well for week ! WIN, WIN.

rock-n-roll-raleigh-half-marathon-training

I had fun making a new graphic (how did I never know about Canva before this?!) As you can see, I’m fully back into the swing of things & I am so proud of myself.

Sunday – Jessie & I went to North Park & hiked a couple of miles. It was a beautiful day!

Monday – I finally got to sign up for EFX classes at FASTER. Because I’m a part of Pro Bike + Run’s training program, I got a ridiculously amazing deal on FASTER’s 20 class pass. EFX stands for Enhanced Functional Exercise & it kicked my ass. Double time. Phew.

 

Tuesday – I was so sore from EFX the night before that I could barely walk. My quads were completely ruined & I could barely lift my arms! I can’t remember the last time I was that sore. I definitely over did it, but hopefully as I continue to go, the soreness will be less. I came home from work & did a yoga video & it definitely helped get my muscles moving.

Wednesday – I worked from home & even though I was still really sore, I went out on my lunch break & got a mile in. It was better than nothing & it was really nice out.

Thursday – Pittsburgh was expecting snow in the evening, so I went to the gym downtown after work & hit the treadmill for 3 miles. Surprisingly this was a really great run. I normally hate the treadmill, but I love the view Golds has of the street & it was cool to see the snow come down outside.

 

Friday – REST day! I came home & enjoyed relaxing watching Game of Thrones & American Sniper.

Saturday – This day & Sunday’s temperatures were going to be in the single digits, but I knew I needed to get miles in so I met my friend Jen for some miles. I am so proud of myself – Jen text me in the AM asking me if I still wanted to go & without hesitation, I said YES. Recently, it has been very easy for me to say no & stay in bed. I actually would back out of runs all the time, but I am so motivated & so happy to be active again that without thinking, it was automatically a YES. The temp was a real feel of 4 degrees, but we got in 4.25 miles around the city. If we weren’t running into the wind, it actually wasn’t that bad but the air definitely hurt my face in certain places!

 

I give this week an A! For week 1, I feel very happy with what I did. Starting from the bottom again getting 0 miles in per week to 8.25 + 2.5 hike… I definitely had a great week.

How was your week? Are you training for anything? What’s one of your favorite workouts to do?

Friday Five 1.6.17

Happy first Friday of the year! I have no idea where all of this motivation & drive has come from, but I’m really excited it’s here. I have missed this REAL me! I have so many things I’m excited about again – fitness goals, financial goals, personal goals.. all really amazing stuff. I hope you’ve done something similar for yourself. Okay, so onto this Friday’s post!

1. I was excited to hear I was accepted again as an ambassador for Legend Compression Wear. I absolutely love their compression sleeves & they helped get me to a 10k PR after I was on my feet all day the day before the race. They have an awesome Refer-a-Friend program (click the link to order!) this year where you receive $15 off your initial order, which is such a great discount! Check out my review & let me know if you’ve been looking for new compression wear!

legend-2017

2. It’s going to be frigid cold this weekend. Actually, the cold is sort of already here. Wind chills in the single digits & snow. YUCK. Luckily, I’m meeting up with a friend in the AM to get a few miles in. Anyone else running outside this weekend? Don’t forget to bundle up properly…

15138357_1848789218686101_8974669674916332829_o

3. My goal to run 500 miles this year is in full swing. I’m really excited about it & have decided that I’m not going to run a fall half this year. Once I run RnR Raleigh, Pittsburgh Half & Ragnar Relay, I want to solely focus on just getting to 500 miles for the year. I also would still like to go for my sub 30 5k. But that’s it. No long miles, no hard training for long distances. Just me enjoying 10-ish miles per week & hanging out with my friends. Sounds perfect.

4. I did a yoga video the other day on YouTube & I absolutely loved it. Gretchen gave me the suggestion & now whenever I feel like I need some good, calming yoga in my life… I’m heading over to Adriene’s YouTube page.

c2c0ad29e90c9b27df0b4c17ef45d27b

5. Tell me about your goals! Fitness, personal, financial, anything! I’m so interested to hear what other people have challenged themselves with this year. I firmly believe if you’re not consistently trying to better yourself in any aspect of your life, you’re not truly living. I have never been one to stay stagnant. I am always thinking about, working towards, a better me & a better life for myself!

 

Happy Friday, friends! Stay warm this weekend 🙂

currently + goals | january

pexels-photo-202105

Planning: No trips or anything like that – but I am planning on focusing on my fitness & my mental health more in the coming year. Big plans that I can’t wait to talk about.

Listening to: I haven’t listened to anything new lately, but I am looking forward to new John Mayer music! What’s everyone listening to? I need some new stuff.

Drinking: All the Nuun! I got a box for Christmas & I drink it constantly now.

Watching: Game of Thrones! I’m currently in the middle of season 2. No spoilers, folks! I know I’m late to the party, but I’m loving it.

Eating: The leftover chocolate from the holidays. Hopefully it’ll be gone soon so I can stop eating it haha.

Looking forward to: Continuing my fitness/training routine! I can’t wait to get weekly training recaps up for you guys starting next Monday.

Loving: the start of the New Year. It feels like a clean slate & I’m ready to rock & roll.

December goal recap:

  • Pass my final exams – did it! One A & one B!
  • Read 1 book! – okay, I read most of one. American Sniper. 
  • Devote more time to meditation & working on myself – Fail. Epic fail. 
  • Exercise 3x/wk – Meh. Definitely didn’t go as planned.

 

January goals:

  • I have a few financial goals that I can’t wait to outline for you guys. I had someone reach out to me via my blog about financial goals so I can’t wait to talk about that with you guys.
  • Go to EFX class once a week
  • Run 10 miles (ish) per week. I made a goal to run 500 miles in 2017, which is technically 9.6 miles per week. So, for this month, I’d like to get between 9 & 10 miles per week.

 

What are your goals for January? How did your December goals pan out? What music are you currently listening to?

 

See ya’ll Friday for Friday Five!

Linking with Gretchen & Kristen

Nice to see you, 2017!

Although 2016 was bleak at best, saying goodbye to it was a blast. And so far, on this 2nd day of January, 2017 has treated me well.

It brought me beautiful weather, blue skies & SUNSHINE. We don’t get to see the sun very often in Pittsburgh come winter time, so whenever I get to enjoy the sun, I am grateful. So, here’s a little weekend recap for ya – it was a good one 🙂

On NYE, I woke up & headed out to mentor for Pro Bike + Run. I missed their kick-off run last weekend, so this was my first appearance of the season. I was running a 5k in the afternoon, so I knew I didn’t want to do much. The night before, one of the group members asked on FB if anyone wanted to walk – so I said I’d join her. I did a little review of my mileage recently on my Garmin – & it wasn’t pretty. 3.3 miles for the entire month of December. Cool. That’s great. (Rolls eyes). It was nice to see people I haven’t seen in a while – and I got to hold the “WALK” mentor sign.


I ended up walking 3 miles with one of the group members & it felt really great! It was nice to start off my morning that way. After the run/walk, I milled around the house for a bit, took a nap, packed a bag, watched some Game of Thrones… (which by the way, I’m just starting.. so no spoilers).

I headed to Jessie‘s around 1pm & was able to catch up with her & Mr. Sass until we had to leave for our race. We were running the Harmony Silvester 5k in Harmony, PA. Harmony is about 25 minutes from Jessie’s place so it was a super easy drive up there. The race began at 3:30pm, which is the latest I’ve ever started a race! I’ll be doing a race recap sometime next week (since Wednesday’s post is the next edition of Currently…) so I’ll give you all the good details then!

Once we finished the 5k, we headed to Wunderbar Coffee & Crepes which isthis adorable coffee shop full of this beautiful exposed brick & cool little coffee signs on the wall. It was pretty busy, although we realized later that we were happy that we showed up when we did, since it got busier as the evening went on. We both ordered our coffees & I got a feta, spinach & tomato crepe which was delicious.

We hung out at Wunderbar until about 5:45pm when we decided to head up to the square where they were planning to drop a ball, counting down until 6:00pm, which is midnight German time, signifying their New Year. It was really fun! Jessie & I had fun dancing the night away to the DJ that was there & we (she) counted down in German with the rest of the crowd. Once the ball dropped, it was time for fireworks!

 



The fireworks were certainly better than I had anticipated. For a small little town, I was pleasantly surprised.

Once the fireworks were over, we made our way back to the car & ordered Chinese food. YUM! We were both looking forward to such a low-key evening celebrating the closing of 2016.

Chinese food & cheese were eaten, sparkling wine was drank, & the ultimate cap to the evening: Mariah Carey’s epic fail on national TV. ‘Twas perfect. Both our butts were in bed by 12:30am & we agreed that we couldn’t be happier about it.

On Sunday, Jessie’s fiancé so graciously made us girls breakfast before he headed off to work & we drank multiple cups of coffee. How does anyone function without coffee? It’s just so delicious & life-saving. After our coffee, we changed & headed to North Park for a hike. We definitely couldn’t let the beautiful first day of the new year go to waste! We both scolded each other when we realized that we didn’t take any pictures while we were hiking. Just too consuming in conversation & the great weather, I guess!

Also – how true is this?:

I hope everyone had a safe & enjoyable evening ringing in the New Year. I’m so happy to have the day off today – I’m going to head out for a run & then head to an EFX class in the evening.

Tell me what you did this weekend! Did you go out or stay in? What’s one thing you’re looking forward to in 2017?

Holiday Week Highlights

I’m back! How was everyone’s holiday? Honestly, I’m glad it’s over. I’m ready to get myself back into a routine of working out & taking care of myself. I’ve been sick pretty much the last two weeks & I’ve done zero physical activity all the while eating all the cookies. *sigh*.

Here’s some holiday highlights!

My vacation started off amazing when on Wednesday morning I found out I got a B in Math!!!! 3.4 GPA for the semester 🙂

Thursday I left on a jet plane to Baltimore airport. Mom lives in DE. It’s the closest airport. Once I landed, I met my brother at baggage claim (YAY). Thursday evening we saw Rogue One & it was really good. RIP Carrie Fisher ❤

Friday morning, my mom & I got pedicures. So needed, people. My feet are actually presentable again.

My parents house! We had a really nice day on Friday.

Had some fun baking cookies, drinking mocktails, & taking selfies.

Mom & I made Twix Thumbprint cookies. Recipe HERE! They were amazing. I ate 90% of those cookies. All the points for taste. I realize they’re not pretty. Whatever.

Mom’s Christmas tree

My brother & I got my mom a Terry Bradshaw jersey. She said it was the best Christmas gift she ever got. SCORE.

How sweet is this Tervis?! Mom was thoughtful enough to put my blog name on it. Bad ass.

I went on a short (very short) run on Christmas day. I have been dealing with a very sore throat for almost 2 weeks. Still wasn’t feeling great, but wanted fresh air.

My favorite gift of the year is my new Penguins jersey. To say I’m obsessed is an understatement. I’d sleep in it if I could. My family has to show off their Pittsburgh pride for the Steelers game!

I went back to work on Tuesday & was finally feeling better throat wise. I knew I needed a good sweat session. I feel sluggish, bloated, and generally not healthy so I signed up for my first spin class at Mecka Fitness in Mt. Lebanon. WOW. Kick-ass class. And super, super difficult. I can tell I’ve been sick & I haven’t moved in a few weeks. I will absolutely be back to this studio! Such a great atmosphere!

How was your week? Did you get anything fun for Christmas? Tell me all about it!

2016 Year in Review

This was a really fun post to do. It allowed me to look back at all of the beautiful things that have happened to me over the last year. It reminded me how far I’ve come since January 1st & how much I will continue to grow as the years go on. I have amazing memories to look back on & I can’t wait to make new ones in 2017.

In January, I started my first week of training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. It would be my first time running this race & my first time running for the ALS Association.

 

In February I ran my first race of the year, Spring Thaw, & I got a PR in the 10 mile distance. Little did I know how frequently I’d be using the term “PR” in 2016…

 

 

In March, I let my anxiety over take me a little & I didn’t get to run as much as I wanted to.. but I did always remember the importance of self love.

In April, I wrote this post about why I was running for ALS. The cause is so special to me & close to my heart & it meant everything to be a part of this team.

 

 

In May, I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. It was the most amazing experience. A sign I’ll always remember I saw along the course said, “Purpose with every step”. And I knew that’s what I had to do. It wasn’t about the time in which I finished, it was about the race as a whole. What I did to get there, what it took to get there, and why I was out there. I know Mr. French was there with me. He always is.

 

 

In June, I ran my first OCR! Someday I would like to do a more challenging one, but this was perfect for my first time. I completed almost all of the obstacles.

 

 

In July, I started training for my 3rd half marathon, Buffalo Creek. And I even gave myself a time goal. I wanted to finish in 2 hours & 30 minutes.

 

 

In August, it was really hot. That’s all I remember.

 

 

In September, I became a LEGEND Compression Wear ambassador & I PR’d in the 5k. If you’re keeping count, that’s PR #2 of the year. Then, I PR’d in the 10k. PR #3 of 2016.

 

 

In October, I PR’d in the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. PR #4. 2016 was hands down the best running year I’ve had so far.

 

 

In November, I went to my 10 year high school reunion & had a blast. It made me nostalgic for my old life – but made me appreciate my new life that much more.

 

 

And so here we are.. December. Closing out the final month of 2016. This year was a growing year. I got into big girl school (California Univ of PA) after finally finding the perfect major for me, & I learned a lot of new things about myself. My hope for 2017 is that all of my friends & family stay healthy & that I stay healthy as well. I hope 2017 brings even more love & self awareness. I can’t wait to see what’s in store 🙂