How to Easily Accomplish Your Long Term Goals

It’s a new year! And with the new year comes new year resolutions. No matter what your goals are this year, the most important thing to do is come up with a game plan and put it into action. I’ve always found that breaking down your goal into smaller, more manageable tasks make it much more achievable. That is precisely what I did with my big goals for 2017.

How to Easily Accomplish Your Long Term Goals

Step One: Define the BIG GOAL and think about why you want to achieve it

Knowing exactly why you want to achieve your goal will help give you the motivation to succeed. Bonus points for writing down your whys.

Step Two: Break it down into smaller tasks and how you will complete them

Small tasks are more achievable. With each completed task you’ll feel at least a small sense of accomplishment.

Step Three: Create a tracking system

Seeing your progress will keep you motivated. You’ll be able to see where you stand and what needs to be done to work toward that big goal.

Step Four: Set your plan into motion

You know what to do, now do it! Put your plan into action and achieve success!

Step Five: Reflect and Evaluate

This step will help you with future endeavors. You’ll be able to see what worked for you previously and what you can improve on for next time.


My Big Goal for 2017: Save Money

Step One: I want to save money for a few different reasons. This year I want to focus on a big vacation, so yeah… I need big money for that. Why do I want to go on a big vacation? To spend time with my family and try something new and exciting!

Step Two: I decided to break it down into weeks. I thought of an achievable but challenging number and made that my goal. To me a week is long enough to make money and save it, but short enough to keep me motivated and on par.

In addition to my Etsy shop and selling on eBay, I’ve taken on two other positions to help in my money saving ventures.

Step Three: I’m a visual person so I created a google sheet to track my progress to motivate and keep me honest throughout the year. Nothing fancy, but practical.

Game Plan for Saving Money

Step Four: I’m happy to say I put my plan into action on January 1st! Feeling pretty excited right now!

Step Five: It’s been one week and I’m happy to say I’ve exceeded my goal by 20%! Here’s to working hard and making every week just as successful! I’ll keep you updated throughout the year.

This approach helps me to feel confident in my ability to succeed in making (and hopefully exceeding) my goals for 2017.

What are your goals for this year and how do you plan on tackling them?


Minimizing and Organizing Junk

Minimizing and Organizing Junk

I wanted so badly to turn our “catch all” room into a sleek and functioning office space. All that stood in my way was a monotonous amount of clutter we had managed to collect over the years. You’d be surprised how much junk you can fit into a 12 X 12 room.  Here are some ideas, tips, and tricks on how to organize those stubborn junk piles in your life.

My first task was to identify the major groups taking up valuable space in my future office space. Then (with the help of google and Pinterest) search for ideas on how to organize, eliminate, and/or store the excessive piles of clutter. After accessing the mess, I found these groups to be the largest issues:

-Documents and Other Paper Clutter




-CDs and DVDs

-Craft supplies

Documents and Paperwork

What you’ll need:

  • Hanging Folders
  • File Labels
  • Manila File Folders
  • Tabs
  • Hanging Folder Tabs

Unfortunately, I had outgrown the fire safe filing box I had been using since my senior year of high school. It was crammed full of anything I deemed “valuable” and thought I needed to keep. I wanted a real filing cabinet but the price tag had me hesitating. Luckily my husband found a functioning filing cabinet sitting on the side of the road with a free sign attached to it! Perfect! A nice scrub and a few coats of spray paint and we were in business! I went through every document and shredded what was old or unnecessary. The remaining piles were then sorted into a few different categories. The goal is to be able to quickly and easily find something if I need it.

Vehicles: Titles, loan documents, proof of insurance, repairs

Documents: birth certificates, marriage license

Mortgage Documents

Property Taxes and Insurance

Medical Information: Hospital bills, health insurance

Income Tax Returns

To be filed – this is to keep future paperwork safe and contained until i can get around to properly examining and filing

I printed off file labels to create a more uniformed and organized look but you could easily use a sharpie to write directly on the folder (this was the method I used previously). I like the idea of being able to change the name without throwing away the folder.


What you’ll need:

I managed to collect an obscene amount of magazines over the last couple of years. The sad part is I’ve probably read less than a quarter of them. The fact that I paid for them AND the length of time I had kept them made it difficult to just recycle them. I quickly scanned each issue for anything I deemed worthy. When I found something I liked, I simply tore the page out. I then organized the pages into categories like home decor, health, pets, vacations, parenting, etc. Using the paper trimmer, I cleaned up any rough edges and then put the page into a sheet protector.  I created labels for the binders that corresponded with the original categories and placed the pages in the correct binder. Ta-Da! This whole process was pretty time consuming but all and all I think it was worth it. Organized clutter! I love it!

Craft Patterns

What you’ll need:

  • Sheet protectors
  • Binders

With the magazine concept in mind, I assembled one binder to hold my crochet patterns. Each pattern is placed in a sheet protector. Pretty simple! I really like this system because I can take the pattern out and use it while keeping it protected and together. I can also easily keep notes or other information about the project with the pattern.

Loyalty Cards

What you’ll need:

  • Ring clips
  • Hole punch

I’m not sure if this is just a personal problem or a common household issue but I have an abundance of rewards and loyalty cards. Some I probably don’t need. Not the point! I decided I needed a system for those so I could actually access them when I needed them (otherwise, what’s the point in keeping them, right?) I sorted them based on size – either business card sized or keychain sized. A majority of the keychain sized cards already had holes in them so I just slipped them on a ring clip. With the business sized cards I just lined them up and punched holes in them (I was careful not to punch a hole through valuable information or the magnetic strip if it had one).


What you’ll need:

For my coupon collection, I divided the coupons into categories and labeled the tabs on the accordion filer. Be sure to select categories that make sense for your family and make the coupons easily found. 

Baby -baby related items

Grocery -manufacturer coupons, good anywhere coupons are accepted

Internet -online retail (i.e. Shutterfly,, etc.)

Target – I shop at Target a lot.

Meijer – I have an abundance of Meijer coupons

Shopping – (Kohl’s, Barnes and Noble, Gordmans, clothing stores, etc.)

Restaurants – fast food included!

The filer is small enough that I can take it into stores without looking ridiculous. Usually, I can fit it right in my purse or keep it in my vehicle for easy access.

Greeting cards and Memorabilia 

What You’ll Need:

  • Scanner
  • Scissors

While going through my things I discovered I had quite the collection of greeting cards. I seriously found birthday cards from my first Birthday. No lies! I decided to incorporate them into my “yearbook project” by scanning them or “digitizing” if you will. With this method, I think I’m more opt to look at them in the future if they are in an album instead of in a shoebox somewhere in the basement.

Maybe this is a personal problem but I like to collect things – flyers, maps, and pamphlets when I travel. I bring them home and they sit in large piles throughout my house. Sometimes I move them around the house but that’s the extent. Same as the greeting cards, I plan on digitizing the memories and placing them with the event or trip they go with.  This is something I haven’t quite started. Like the photographs, this will be time-consuming but worth it!


What You’ll Need:

  • Scanner

Over the years I have collected quite a few pictures. Before digital photography, smartphones, and the internet, the thing to do was purchase duplicates. Oh boy… the mess I had.

I had boxes and boxes of unorganized printed photos. Not ideal for viewing and reminiscing. On top of that, I had those terrible sticky albums that turn your photos yellow. Not cool. My goal – to digitize the photos and then create photo books.

The first thing I did was collect all the printed pictures I had. I gathered my infinite boxes and tired, old photo albums. Then I began going through them. All of you sentimental people reading this, brace yourselves… I actually threw pictures out. You’re probably thinking “what!?!? Is she insane! How could you throw out a memory?!?!” Think about it. If the photo holds no significant value there is no point in keeping it. There. I said it. Photos with horrible quality were also trashed. Oh yes, the era of disposable cameras left me with tons of terrible images.

The second step was to sort the photos. I’m not kidding when I say I had years of photos jumbled together. Basically from birth to college. It wasn’t pretty. First I separated them into stages of life (childhood, high school, college, etc.) and then organized those into events (weddings, graduations, holidays).

Next, I scanned. This is one of the most time-consuming parts of the process. I used a flatbed scanner (HP). I had debated on purchasing a portable scanner but decided against it. The benefit did not outweigh the cost and I have no regrets.

DVDs and CDs

What You’ll Need:

  • CD/DVD sleeves
  • CD/DVD box

I’m not even going to count how many burned CDs I have. It’s ridiculous. I found and collected 2 large boxes… I’m pretty sure I burned a new CD on a weekly basis when I was sixteen. Wasteful, I know! Now I’m surrounded by old CDs. Some even unusable. The first step was minimizing. I threw out anything that was severely scratched. The rest were examined and uploaded to my computer if they were deemed worthy. I had some questionable taste in music during some points of my life. I did the same thing for the DVDs. The system I used to store things during my youth was pitiful.

To keep this from happening in the future,  I purchased this box and some CD/DVD sleeves. Now my plan is to backup home movies and photos by year and keeping each disc safely in a sleeve inside the box.

Craft supplies

I dreamed of a large peg board beautifully displaying all my supplies, readily available for the next creative project. I finally talked my husband into the idea and he created my vision (love him for it!) It’s pretty great but I’m still playing with the organizational scheme. My yarn collection was placed into a three drawer plastic organizer. All fabric was condensed and organized into a plastic bin and stored in the office closet for future use. 

Do you have any tips or tricks on how to tackle organizational nightmares?

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate or sponsor links. With these links Growing Up With Sam can receive a commission. These commissions help support the work and website at no additional cost to you.

How to Tackle Debt -Steps to Eliminate Debt

Tackling Debt

How to Save Money and Get Rid of Debt

I hate being in debt. It causes added stress and an abundance is unnecessary. One mortgage, three car loans, a load of student debt, and lots of credit card balances later – we weren’t feeling too hot. We knew we wanted to eliminate the bulk of our debt so we could start a family with a little less stress (and a lot more money in the bank).

So far we have been able to get rid of our mountainous credit card debt, one (almost two!) of our three auto loans, and even contribute to the savings account! Yay! Here are some of the tips and tricks we’ve used to tackle our debt and to stay motivated during the process.

How to Tackle Debt

Define Your Why:

Think of your reason for wanting to pay off the debt. It’s okay to have more than one reason! Your why can help motivate you and keep you on track. For example, we became very motivated when we decided we wanted to start a family. We knew it would be less stressful if we could provide for our child without constantly worrying about our debt. If you are a visual person, create a Vision Board and keep it in a location you’ll see often (nightstand, background on your computer, office space). Or you can even create a Virtual Visual Board on Pinterest! Include motivational quotes and encouraging words too!

Write All Your Debts Down:

Debt can be an easy thing to ignore. When you see your debt, it becomes more real. Once I wrote down my debts and the monthly payments I was making, things got serious. I started asking myself what I could do with all that extra money and how life would be a lot less stressful without the burden of all these additional payments. Not to mention the interest! Talk about depressing. 

Formulate a Plan:

There are few different methods to paying off debt. Take a look at the different options and decide what will work best for you and your situation. 

Here are just a few methods for budgeting and paying off debt. You could even mix a few together to suit your situation.

Snowball Method – focusing on one debt at a time, starting with the smallest balance

Avalanche Method -focusing on one debt at a time, starting with the highest interest rate.

Half Payment Method – dividing large payments in half and saving money from each check

Cash Envelope System – use envelopes to keep cash stored for certain bills or categories

We mostly used the snowball method. By paying off our smallest balances we were able to free up some money and contribute that toward the larger debts.

Get on the Same Page:

It is very important that you and your partner both agree on the plan for eliminating debt. If you both aren’t on board, it will make the process very difficult, very stressful, and it can create a strain on your relationship. If both of you are excited and committed to saving money and paying off your debt it will not only keep you both motivated, it will make a debt free lifestyle more achievable.

Create and Write Goals Down:

Having a list of written goals will give you motivation and help you maintain the drive. It can be very easy to lose sight and slip into old habits.

Remember, goals should be:






Give yourself a time frame for each goal. Include all short-term and long-term goals that would ultimately help you obtain that debt free status! It will feel amazing to check the box complete as you climb the debt free ladder.

Good example:

  • Payoff Bank of America Credit Card 1/1/16
  • Payoff Student Loan 5/1/17
  • Save $250 1/15/16
  • Payoff auto loan 7/1/16
  • Save $1000 11/1/16
  • Participate in a no spending challenge

Challenge yourself but be realistic!

Delete Saved Debit/Credit Card Data

If you have your debit or credit cards saved to websites or apps such as Amazon, Playstation Store, Groupon, or even stored on your computer for autofill – delete it. The more difficult it is to purchase something, the more likely you won’t buy something you don’t need. You’ll think twice before grabbing your wallet and filling in the details.

Stop Using the Credit Cards

According to, the average U.S. household had over $15,000 in credit card debt! This can be the toughest type of debt to tackle. The minimum payments are not designed to payoff the debt quickly and the interest rate on most credit cards is sky high. Credit card balances can create a vicious cycle. It’s easy to get sucked in and it can be extremely difficult to get off the merry-go-round.

If you can’t pay cash/debit for it, don’t buy it. I know this is easier said than done especially if you rely on that line of credit for the essentials but paying on a card you are constantly adding to is counterproductive. We stopped using all but one of the credit cards and the one was for emergency purposes only. It took a great deal of self control from both of us, but we were able to pull through.   

Cut Extra Expenses

Start thinking of things you can cut out. Take a look at your checking account and credit card statements. Highlight anything that isn’t a necessity. Ask yourself if you really, truly need it.

Here are some examples:

TV Services – Netflix, Hulu, Cable/Satellite, Sunday Ticket

Video Game Subscriptions – Playstation Network, Xbox Live,

Subscriptions – Satellite radio, Amazon Prime Membership, Kindle Membership, Magazine Subscriptions

Entertainment – Restaurants, Movies, Gambling

Other – Coffee, Fast Food, Spa Treatments, Gym Membership (if you don’t use it), excess cell phone coverage

Put Extra Money Toward Debt

If you have an excess amount of debt you really should be putting that tax return or bonus toward it. I know, it sucks. You wanted to use that money to go on vacation or to remodel the bathroom. Making large payments toward your debt can keep you motivated and eventually free up some money. Think about how rewarding it will be to go on vacation and not have a ridiculously high credit card bill to come home to.

Round Payments Up:

It can be difficult to remember exactly (down to the penny) what a specific payment is. Rounding your payment up makes it easier to remember and adds extra to the debt without breaking the bank. This is similar to saving your change.

For example my car payment was $242.65 every month but I would apply at least $250. That extra chunk of change may not seem like much but every penny adds up. 

Find ways to earn extra money:

Every little bit counts! Return those pop bottles, save change, a side gig or two, anything! (Just be sure it’s legal and doesn’t violate your morals). Put that extra money toward your debt free plan. 

Believe in yourself!

You can become debt free! You don’t have to be the typical American family with a crazy high debt to income ratio. Believe and achieve! I have been where you are. We were drowning and it was scary. We aren’t completely free and clear but the progress has been amazing. Just know that getting out of debt is possible and you can do it too!
What motivates you? What has worked for you in the past?

Disclaimer: I am not a financial adviser. This post is only modeled after my personal experience.

Ten Things I Wish I Did In College

10 Things I wish I Did In College - Here is the list of the top ten things I wish I would have done in college. A little advice for current and future college students who are looking to get the most out of their college experience!

I loved college! It was a great experience and I’m very happy I decided – at the last minute – to give it a shot! If I had to do it all over again there are a few things I would have done differently. There are some experiences I feel I missed out on without realizing it at the time. There are also some things I could have done to make things easier on myself or that would have helped me out in the long run.

So I have compiled a short list of the top ten things I wish I would have done in college. No regrets! You live and you learn. I do hope that by sharing this post, I can help at least one person maximize their college experience. 

1. Utilized Professor Office Hours

Communication with a professor can certainly make a difference in your classroom performance. In my first few semesters I rarely even raised my hand to ask the professor a question during class! With every passing year, I became more and more comfortable approaching them. At first it was through email and finally by my last semester I was visiting a couple of my professors during their set office hours. My grades improved significantly! My last (and most difficult) semester ended up being my best!

I once thought I was “wasting” their time but professors purposely set up these office hours in hopes students will use them. Plus, you pay an awful large sum of money for their time. One of my professors was even happy to help me with a project from a different class! You can learn a great deal from them and when you take an interest in your education, your professors will notice and admire your effort.! Bonus: This could work in your favor if you happen to be in between grades 😉

2. Take Spring/Summer Classes Every Year

I know what you are thinking! Give up my summer vacation? Are you crazy?! Hear me out! There are a few reasons for this. It’s easier to maintain good study habits. You won’t have to “get back in the groove” if you keep the momentum going. If you take just one 3 credit class every summer, you can graduate an entire semester early! It’s a lot easier to focus on just one class than it is to juggle multiple. Don’t be a lazy bum like me, take a class or two!

Perhaps you go home for the summer. Think about guest enrolling at a local community college (it’s cheaper!) or taking an online course through your home institution. Just make sure the credit will transfer! For those of you who currently attend a Michigan college or university, there is a fantastic website dedicated to making sure your credits will transfer –

3. Joined Clubs

Joining a club or organization is a great idea! You can connect with other people with similar interests and it’s a fun and interesting outlet (keeps you out of trouble too). I mean they seriously have something for everyone! My University had an optimism club and a fashion club! If you are interested in a club and your university doesn’t offer it, guess what?! You can start it! Bonus: This would look great on a resume!

Clubs are a great opportunity to network and create relationships with people. Consider this an easy way to find people with similar interests. Yay for friends! So why didn’t I do this?! Not to sound lazy or anything but it was probably because of my hour drive, and because I was lazy. The regret is strong with this one.

Ten Things I Wish I Did In College - You live and you learn! These ten things will help you maximize your college experience -

4. Studied Abroad

Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity! It gives you the ability to explore different cultures and environments while continuing your education.

By the time I decided this was something I was interested in, many of the courses that were offered through my university were not required for my program. I couldn’t justify paying for classes I wouldn’t need for graduation. It would have also required me to take time off of work and I would have taken two classes instead of my normal five (delaying graduation). Hindsight- I should have just went for it! The chances of being able to do this later in life is very unlikely.

Maybe money is an issue for you: Financially, many universities will help you apply for grants and scholarships intended for students who want to study abroad. Student loans can also be used to fund the trip. Visit your University’s website for more information or go to to learn more about private companies offering study abroad opportunities.

5. Applied for More Scholarships

Those wonderful loans that seem to be paving your way to freedom can actually be a burden on your financial independence later on. It’s easy to rack up thousands of dollars in student debt resulting in 10+ years of high payments. The easiest and quickest way to ease that burden is through scholarships. There are so many and not just for the academically or athletically inclined. It seems like they have scholarships for everything and everyone. I’ve even seen scholarships for people who are left handed! How cool?!?

So why didn’t I spend more time applying for scholarships? For one I had dial-up internet service (a weak excuse- I know), I was lazy, and I didn’t understand how important it was. If it takes you four hours to search and apply for one $2000 scholarship, you potentially just made $500/hour. Wow! Keep in mind this is money you don’t have to borrow and pay interest on!

Here are some websites to help you with your research:

6. Applied for an Internship

I truly believe internships or co-op positions will help you get a job in your field after college. You make connections with some influential people, gain valuable experience, and many internships are paid. I know a few of my close friends who were able to get great full-time positions after graduation within the company they were interning for.

Maybe you are unsure of what you want to do with your life. There are opportunities that give you awesome experiences while trying out a new field at the same time. I really wish I would have at least applied to the Disney College Program!

I didn’t think about it too seriously until I was almost done.

7. Traveled for Spring Break

I never went anywhere for Spring Break in the four years I attended my University. I’m not kidding. I was pretty frugal with my spending back then. I was definitely more concerned with saving money for tuition so I could avoid the dreaded student loans.

If I could, I would go somewhere really cool just one time! Experience the whole Spring Break thing and come out with some good memories and stories.

Ten Things I Wish I Did In College -More studying -

8. Studied More

I had horrible study habits going into college and even though they improved with each semester I wish I would have taken it a bit more seriously early on. Sadly, I completely bombed my second semester and I lost my largest scholarship. Ouch. I thought I could just attend class and magically obtain the information, just like high school! So so wrong. Some classes just require more work than others. The next year I was more prepared and I slowly began to understand my learning process. I utilized the library and took in depth class notes.

Everyone learns differently so it is important to identify the study methods that work best for you. If you weren’t able to discover your preferred method in high school, be sure to try a few methods early on. It will save you so much grief later on.

9. Double Majored

I know exactly why I didn’t do this. After four years, I was ready to graduate and become a “real” adult. I desperately desired a break and some time for soul searching to help me determine what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I never regretted my choice to study History, but I also understood finding a career in Mid-Michigan that would utilize this particular major (besides teaching) was highly unlikely. When I think about it I could have unlocked many more doors with a second major. It’s true, I could go back to school and obtain a second degree or a post-baccalaureate, but it’s easier said than done.

It is much easier to get grants and scholarships for the first degree. Loans are an option but let’s be honest… you have to pay those back! Plus you have to reapply to attend the university. Another obstacle! A small one but still. Remember Newton’s First Law: Objects in motion, stay in motion. Taking a “break” from school makes it much more difficult to get back on track and maintain motivation. There is absolutely no shame in taking a few years to complete your education.

10. Lived Closer to Campus

For a majority of my college years, I lived one hour away from campus. I did save a great deal of money by not living on campus, but I think I would have been much happier living (at least) closer to campus. I would have been able to more easily take advantage of the resources on campus and I wouldn’t have had to schedule my classes so intensively.


Do you have something to add? Do you wish you would have done something differently during your college years? Tell us about it is below! I’d love to hear from you!

Three Steps to Saving Money Online


Three Steps to saving money online - = anyone can follow these three simple steps to get the best price when you shop online

Oh the luxury of online shopping! How I love it! How addicting!

No lines, comfy clothes, endless possibilities all from the comfort of your own home? It doesn’t get any better than that! So how can you be sure your dollar is being stretched to its full extent? I follow a simple three step process to save money when I shop online. It almost justifies how much I spend!

Step One: Always Check for a Coupon or Discount Code

More often than not you’ll find a coupon code on the homepage of the website you are shopping from. Just because there isn’t a code located on the actual site, doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist! A simple google search could turn up a code or two but I have much better luck with the website To use the website, you simply type in the website’s store name and it will tell you if there are possible coupons or discounts you can apply to your shopping cart. Just a free shipping coupon alone could save $5 or more! I even use their app when I’m shopping at a brick and mortar store. It’s saved me quite a few dollars at the last minute.

Check your email for possible promotional offers. If you are anything like me, you receive dozens of retail related emails daily. It’s almost annoying but it certainly pays off when you decide to use one or two of them.

I also keep a filler full of coupons and I have a special section reserved for internet based coupons such as and I always check to see if I have anything that I could apply to save a few dollars. Every little bit counts!

Three Steps to Saving Money When Shopping Online - These three steps will help you save money on purchases made from thousands of online retailers-

Step Two: Price Shop

Don’t skip this step! You’d be surprised how much money you can save just by doing less than five minutes worth of research. If you plug in the name of the item on google you could find it’s much cheaper somewhere else.

Price shopping is a great habit to have. Some stores (like Target) even price match! How convenient! So if you’re out and about doing your shopping the old fashion way, you can still use your smartphone to double check prices to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Step Three: Use Ebates

One of my favorite parts of shopping online is using You can earn up to 25% cash back from over 1,800 different stores online using this website. It’s incredibly easy to use and it’s free! Search for your favorite online store, once you find it  – click on the link and it will activate your shopping trip. You can also earn money by referring your friends. When payday comes (every three months), you can choose to have your payments direct deposited or go old school by getting a paper check by mail. You’re basically getting a paycheck to shop – at least that’s what I tell my husband! Haha!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

That’s my basic strategy for saving money on online purchases! I hope you find these tips helpful and they save you lots of money!

Do you have any advice for other online shoppers out there? Don’t be shy! I want to hear from you.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate or sponsor links. With these links Growing Up With Sam can receive a commission. These commissions help support the work and website at no additional cost to you.