Give Someone a Compliment

Give someone a compliment today.  You never know what it may mean to them.

From a friendly smile and “Hello” on the sidewalk to say “I like your dress”, or a nod in the coffee shop to say “Your hair is beautiful.”

While these are friendly gestures of acknowledgement, the best compliments are deeper, a little more meaning.  My mother came to my husband’s grandma’s visitation service.  My mom introduced herself to his Grandfather as my mother, and he smiled at her and said “She is one of the best parts of our family.”

That’s high praise.

And it meant the world to me.


Take Note of Your Bills

The Art of Love & Money - Take Note of Your Bills

This step is simplistic, to the point that a lot of people skip it entirely.  But, just trust me on this one.

Get out a pen and paper and write down all of the bills that you pay monthly and the amount that you pay.

Analyze these bills.  Do you love the service?  Can you get a better price?

Write them all down and then take a day or a week to focus on researching each bill, calling around for a better rate, or even a better service for the same rate, and finally analyzing whether or not you even want to keep that service.

Think minimalism – in that if you don’t love it, and it isn’t a required necessity, or you don’t use it – let it go.  You can always go out and get more bills if you change your mind.

The Art of Love & Money Manual Bill Pay
The Art of Love & Money Manual Bill Pay

Download FREE Manual Bill Pay Sheet here.

Set Your Bills to AutoPay.

Take the list of each bill that you pay and set up an auto pay plan for each of those bills.

Contact the company and set up the bill pay through your checking account.

Mark the bill for auto pay on a schedule on paper and set a reminder in your phone.

The Art of Love & Money Automatic Drafts
The Art of Love & Money Automatic Drafts

Download FREE Automatic Draft Sheet here.

Create a manila folder for auto pay and put a hard copy of all of the auto pay agreements in there.  File this paper in your Financial File Box.

Place a copy of both of these sheets in your Personal Planner.

Return to your budget software.

Fill in auto payments in your budget.

This can be time consuming, so don’t get frustrated or use it as an excuse to procrastinate.  Get a weekly planner sheet out and block out times to set up the payments, make a folder, print and assign the agreements, fill out the auto pay schedule, fill in your budget.  Break it down or do it all at once.  It is up to you, but this is a big step in systematizing your finances so celebrate when you are finished!

Get it done and then do something fun.

Tip:  If you use YNAB, putting these amounts into your budget is fairly simple.

Side Note:  If you are really, really behind on your bills, or your balance is very low, I don’t recommend auto payments until you get caught up and have enough money in your checking account to handle it smoothly.  Don’t use that as a crutch, though!  Sit down and figure out how you can get caught up on the bills and get at least a $500 minimum balance in your checking account.  One mind game I used when I was starting out was to use $500 as my $0.  If I had $540 in my checking account, my paper register read $40.  It helped me to stop spending way before I got to the point of emergency.  You could also use $1,000 as your Zero if you have more expenses. When you get really advanced, use the buffer – one prior month’s spending or income as your Zero.  There are hundreds of mind tricks you can use, and I say use every last one of them that you can think of.  Money is a game, so play it by your rules and make it work for you.

ACTIONABLE STEP: Open up your bank statement or login to your checking account.  Sit with a pencil and paper and track all of the bills that are paid EVERY MONTH.

Download the Automatic Drafts & Manual Bill Pay spreadsheets and fill them out.

Research each bill for a better service at the same or more competitive price!


We Lost a Good One Today

We lost a good one today.

My husband’s grandmother passed away this morning.  We lost her at 5:13 a.m.  She slipped away peacefully with loved ones by her bedside.  They kept vigil over her through the night.

She was moved to a hospice house last week after she stopped eating and drinking.  She was unresponsive.  Her family visited every day.

On Friday night, her breathing began to decline.  We were told she may be gone by morning, or it could be another week or even three weeks.  Everyone was called.  Some came, some were not able, but on Friday night we had a full on sleep over.  Four of us in a pull out sofa bed, 2 in reclining chairs, four in  parson’s chairs, and her 90 year old husband in a parson’s chair with his hand in hers, and his head resting on a pillow by her side.

The next day we were told her health was not declining as rapidly as we had thought and that we should preserve our strength, get some rest. The groups still gathered throughout the day, coming and going through the weekend. We took turns stroking her arm, or holding her hand as she rested.  A smaller group stayed on night watch.

Grandma held on until Monday morning at 5:13 a.m.

We were not all there, but she had four dedicated family members standing watch over her.  She went peacefully, just not drawing her next breath.

She was our matriarch.

She had eight of them.  Eight children, one who passed before her.  Seven remaining who loved her dearly and will have to bare the grief of her loss.

She was from the greatest generation to have ever lived.  Born in 1926.  Married in 1946.  Married for 70 years to the love of her life.

They tried to keep them apart, but it was clearly meant to be.  She was raised an orphan after her mother passed away when she was a lovely young woman of just 15 years old.  He, after all, was a Mexican, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in the Boxcar Community.  Did you catch that?  His family lived in a train cart on the side of the railroad tracks, set up like an apartment complex for their workforce. To keep their feet warm at night, his mama would heat bricks over the fireplace and wrap them in blankets, set them at the foot of the bed.  Any left over scrap of fabric that couldn’t be reused as hand-me-downs were twisted and then shoved into the 1/4″ gaps of the wooden planks open to the outdoors.

The Catholic nuns cared for her daily needs and gave her an education, and a faith that was strong and unwavering.

She was a Saint.

As close to a Saint that you will ever meet on Earth.  She refused to curse, did not care for drinking or smoking.  And yet, she continued to love those around her who did drink and smoke and curse – she loved them fiercely. She insisted on treating people with kindness and respect.  She was unwavering in her love.  She knew what she expected of you, and you could bare to give her no less than that.

When the homeless man came to the door to ask if they had any bottles to turn in for a small cash sum, she responded “Wait here.”  She then hurried into the house to make him a sandwich and donate their recyclables to him, even though, they could have used the spare change themselves…what with eight mouths to feed and her husband working two full time jobs.

When family was in need, she took them in, raising more than just her 8, at a count of near about twenty last we checked.  Not to mention her grandchildren when their parents needed help.

When her sweetheart left for the Navy, the Nuns intercepted the letters and discarded them.  He found her when he returned home.

They married shorty after that on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

Their kids lived a happy childhood, the kind where love was plenty and best friends were siblings and neighborhood kids playing until the street lights came on.  They had freedom and independence to play all day as long as they looked out for one another and lived by the Golden Rule.

Their grand-kids grew to cherish them.  Holidays and weekend filled with food and games and fun and laughter.  Get togethers were the norm, not the exception.  If someone needed something, you stepped in and helped them out.

Any day to stop by was an occasion to play Upwords, Rummikub, Farkle, Uno, you name it.  The games cabinet was full to overflowing with good times, an invitation to pull up a chair to the Walnut dining room table with claw feet and chat over a friendly competition.

Their door was always open.  Any given Sunday you could stop by for a visit.  The house may have been full or empty, but either way, you would likely stay long past your expected departure time.  Many times we stopped by after Sunday brunch, only to leave the house after dark and a supper of popped popcorn and good time stories.  Their house was the kind of home where their great grand-kids would notice that we were crossing the bridge, and holler out “Hey, Can we go to Great Grandma & Grandpa’s house today?”

The success that they had in the loving family department outshines even their climb up from an orphan and a box car kid.  They may have started life out that way, but they lived through the Great Depression, a World War, and ended up in a large four square home an a hilltop with a wrap around porch.

That porch is perfect for Porch Sitting.  Drive by on a Saturday and you can honk and wave as we all spend the day laughing and telling stories, catching up with each other.

All your children will come and gather around you.  You will wear them as jewelry, with pride.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, If you were born a Rodriguez, you are among the most blessed people on Earth.  If you weren’t that lucky, I hope you got to marry one.

I did.

Conquering Overwhelm!

Some days are so overwhelming!  Even that exclamation point has me feeling anxious and, well, overwhelmed.  Certain times in our lives can just seem like too much.  Too much to do, too much to get done, too much mess, too much stuff, too much clutter, too much noise, too much outside pressure, just too much.

This is how I conquer overwhelm in my own life.

I clean.

I will set a timer and clean up my environment for about 15 minutes.  Clear away the clutter. If the clutter is not there, I will scrub, mop, and dust.  It is proven that clutter and a disorganized environment causes stress levels to rise in both men and women, although more so for women, and women are more in-tune to the feeling that the stress is caused by chaos in the environment.

I thank.

I get a list and I physically sit down and write all of the things that I am thankful for, I take note of all of the joyful moments in my day.  The red geraniums on the drive to work, the way the sunset lit up the sky as I turned the corner walking the dog, the she greets me as I walk in the door, all of the things that I have but take for granted, all of the things I have already accomplished and now behind me, crossed off of the list of things to do.  I give thanks.  I send thank you messages to others – thanks for doing the dishes, thanks for taking me to dinner last night, thanks for always being there when I need a friend.  If the occasion calls for it, I will a physical, hand written note, if not a text will do.

I prioritize.

I lay out all of the things that must be done, then I determine what must be done first based on deadlines or timelines.  If I have a whole page of to-do’s – I pick out what must be done first chronologically and do the top 3.  Only 3.  Those go on a separate list.  I try to clear my mind of all the rest and put all of my energy into those top 3.  I do them as if they are the only 3 things that need to be done.  I cross them off with a big, black squeaky sharpie.

I rest.

Again, with the 15 minute timer.  I rest for 15 minutes.  In this 15 minutes I rest as if there is nothing else to be done.  Sometimes I will make a list of what I will do for my rest.  Daydream in the sunshine, read a book, have a cup of tea, doodle, a small artsy project that doesn’t require a mess, journal.  What is not restful?  Scrolling through social media.  Even watching Netflix can feel more of a drain on my energy than just connecting with my self, being alone in my thoughts, taking a break.

I repeat.

Back to the to-do list with the 3 next most important things, than back to rest once those items are finished.

I detox.

When overwhelm strikes, social media and screens are not your friends.  The best, most restful weekend I have had lately include setting my phone in a drawer and not reaching for my phone for a dopamine hit whenever I have a free moment.  If you love the socials, you can still set aside time to use your phone, but set a timer, and a list of things you really want to check while you’re on there, and then put it away again.  Somewhere just odd enough that you don’t automatically reach for it in your spare time.

I chose.

I spend any free time I have with myself or with those who give me energy.  I really pay attention to how I feel around others.  Certain people drain your energy – negative, toxic, passive aggressive, and overly narcissistic people will have to wait.  Unfortunately, these people can be family, where you may not want to completely eliminate the relationship,  but you can est a boundary for the time you will spend with them – and it shouldn’t be when you are struggling to hold yourself together.  Instead, spend time with people who lift you up.  It’s worth reaching out to friends for a long lunch, a night out, a long phone call, a quick text message.  Try this: reach out and tell people what you love about them.  See how much better it makes you feel to make someone’s day when you are in overwhelm.

I focus.

I try to focus on only what needs to be done for the moment, and put the rest aside for another time.  If I am really stressed about a particular deadline, I’ll put everything into terms of doing really well on that one accomplishment, and use that date as my horizon line.  Anything that comes after the horizon gets put on the back burner.

Now I want to hear from you.  What are your best overwhelm tips?  What do you do to conquer overwhelm?

Set up Your Budget Categories

The Art of Love & Money Setup Your Budget Categories

I thought I had a budget before.  It was a sad appropriation of ‘CAN NOT’  in my head.  It was a round about number, it was a cursed word that said “No.  Not it the budget.”

Let me tell you what a budget really is.

First of all, every month is different.  How  could it not be?  Every month is different and brings its own challenges and celebrations.

And your income is maybe not exact every month.  If you are not on a salary, your pay may fluctuate. If you had a rough month, do you have a plan in place to duck and weave?  You can’t keep spending the same in a tight month as you do in a banner month.

If you get a bonus, be sure you are using it appropriately to fund YOUR goals, YOUR life’s plans and purposes.

Secondly, your budget can say “Yes”, as well.  Set up your Budget to pay yourself first.

List your income

Subtract from the very top pay yourself first.

This could mean

  • Retirement automatic withdraws
  • Funding your dream list savings
  • Paying off your debt

This is what I refer to as reverse budgeting.  I hit these goals first.  Then I do my best to stay within my budgeted dollar amount categories.  If I spend too much on eating out, it may mean less grocery or spending next month, but it won’t mean that I don’t do what I have decided is the most important to me.  I prioritize my income.

This takes some finessing and you will suck at it at first.  That’s okay.  Just do it again next month.

First things first, set up your budgeting categories.  I have ours set up to put the goals first (reverse budgeting), then the NEEDS, then I filter into the other categories.  Most of the things in the budget are needs, or they at least FEEL like essentials, but I try to list them in a priority order.  My order will be different than your priority order and that’s how it should be.  Our life is not the same, our priorities may not be the same.  My debt is paid off, but when I was rolling my snowball, DEBT would have been the goal at the top of the page, instead of my dream list savings.

The Art of Love & Money Monthly Cash Flow
The Art of Love & Money Budget Categories

Next, find a software system you can deal with.  I love YNAB.  The classic version.  I don’t love the monthly subscription fee of the new version, but many people do because of the phone app.

My credit union also has a budgeting feature, so does Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar.  You can check out,  there’s literally hundreds of options to choose from.

What I love about YNAB, and why I will always lean to them for recommendations first, this software will actually teach you sound budgeting techniques as you go.  There is a built in overflow category that will help you get one month ahead of your bills if you use it properly. They have a very active community, a prolific blog, and owner/founder Jesse does weekly whiteboard Wednesdays to teach you a thing or two.  There are live web sessions you can sign up for to teach you how to use the software fully, and the  transactions can be automatically categorized and downloaded for you.  Sometimes the best option is the one that you know you will actually use on a continued basis, so keep that in mind as you get set up.

Take advantage of the free trial versions of the different options available as you get setup.  If you bump into a non-negotiable, take your categories and what you have learned from one budgeting software and bring it with you to the next one!  This budgeting thing is going to be a journey, so pack you bags for the long haul.

My goal is to teach you how to do it in 15 minutes or less, weekly, so that it is painless and you see major progress in your cash flow.

Sound good?

Let’s Go,



Set up Budget categories.  Get started with this FREE download. BudgetCategories-AofLM

Choose a budgeting software to get started with.


Email me with any questions.  I’d love to hop on a skype coffee session with you to get you started!  My goal is to help 10 people this month set up a new budget system that works for them, let that be YOU.


Monday Motivation

Word to the wise:  Don’t spend your time worrying.

It doesn’t help.

Spend your time preparing, fixing, planning, or sleeping.  Worrying never solved a damn thing – just left me drained and exhausted.  And also, resentful.

Let me save you some sleepless nights – Don’t Worry – DO.

And if there is nothing that you can DO, then do not worry – it’s not for you.

I first came across this scripture about ten years ago.  It hit me in the soul.  Like a gut check.


Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34




I was at my height of obsessive worrying.  It never solved anything, in fact, I often made matters worse obsessing and meddling where I did not belong, making mountains out of mole hills, creating issues where there were only my own insecurities.

It was ridiculous, but it fed my ego.

Oh, such an important mother you are, worrying and stressing over everyone and everything.  Clearly everyone needs for you to handle their problems for them.

You poor, exhausted soul.

Only, they didn’t.  And I set the worries aside, and oftentimes, the next day there were – lo and behold – no longer issues that needed to be solved, and there were new things to do and fill my time.  And I was productive because I wasn’t so expended from trying to solve fake problems.

It’s hilarious, really.  Unless you are still stuck there.  So, if that’s where you are, just let me reach out my hand to you and offer you a view from this hilltop, looking over the valley.  Because there are definite valleys coming, but there will be a hilltop on the other side.  And just knowing that helps me enjoy the ride.

Come enjoy the view,


ACTIONABLE STEP:  Think about your worries.  If there is something that can be done about them, roll up your sleeves, and stop procrastinating.  Start doing.  Start Planning.  Break it into small steps.  One a day.  By the end of the week, you’ll be so much closer to handling the thing that had you worried, and your worry will begin, slowly, to dissolve.



Final Days of Summer

The Art of Love & Money Summer Countdown

Summer is quickly slipping through our fingers – what have you done to celebrate your summer?

Do you still have plans to go somewhere or have summer list items to secure?  Take some time this weekend to do something fun and summery.  We haven’t kayaked not a once this summer!

It is getting quite chilly here.  We have had a very mild summer, and it has felt like fall is on its way for quite sometime.  It’s lovely weather, but not quite pool lounging weather or sweltering heat to like drips off of an ice cream cone before it melts down your arm weather.

This is your last call for summer!  Summa Time!

Pull out your summer list and check off any last minute fun items before the first day of Fall – coming soon to a locale near you – September 22.

I did:

I have yet to:

  • Kayak anywhere, let alone the Snake River.  When we went to Indy it was not good kayak weather and we were quite busy with the farmer’s market, an art show, and the State Fair.
  • Create an original artwork on a large canvas

ACTIONABLE STEP: Review your summer list.  If you don’t have one – make one!  If you did make a list and/or you went on a trip or did something you are excited about, please share it with me or comment below!  I love to get new ideas and I love to live vicariously through YOU!


Create Your Personal Planner

The last couple of weeks have focused on clearing out paperwork clutter, organizing paperwork into a financial file box, an setting up an incoming paperwork basket. Today it’s all about the planner.

I first learned about the binder system through FLY lady back when my daughter was in elementary school.  It was a life saver because my time at home was limited it helping her with her school work, making and cleaning up after dinner, and bedtimes.  I still use a variation of the binder, although I have strayed away from it in some ways.  This planner is a slimmed down, simplified version that fits my lifestyle a bit better.

Start with a presentation folder and download The Art of Love & Money Personal Planner.

Imagine having all of your important paperwork in one spot when you are ready to deal with it.  You can take it to work with you, or in the car, you can work on your paperwork when you have the time – waiting at the Doctor’s office or during tumbling class or soccer practice, over your lunch break.  There are no limits to when you can get your to-do list accomplished when you have everything in an organized ready to go binder!  This one is slim enough it can fit in my (oversized) purse.

The files are customize-able, so make it work for you!

  • Meal Plan/Week at a Glance
  • Current To-Do’s
  • Mind Dump for all to-do’s
  • Bedtime Routine
  • Morning Routine
  • Weekly Routine
  • Weekly Check list
  • Monthly Budget (more on this next time.  For now just leave a blank spot.)
  • Current Bills
  • Outstanding Debts/ Overdue Bills
  • Copy of kids’ School Calendar
  • Birthday Calendar
  • Address List
  • Postage Stamps
  • Cards to send
  • Outgoing Mail
  • Extra Printouts of Weekly Planners & Budget sheets can be stored in the back.


ACTIONABLE STEP: Order your presentation binder, download the planner.  Save a copy for an original and save as for your own custom version.  Set your own routines and schedules – make it work for you!

skype-imageContact me! Send me an email and I can help you setup your personal planner to work for you via a Skype call!

I’d love to hear from you – I am looking for feedback – so please, get in touch if you are ready to get your financial life in order.  It is my goal to help at least 10 people this month organize their paperwork and systematize their finances.

Happy Labor Day!

The Art of Love & Money Labor Day

Do you ever think about the history of Labor Day?  How different our lives would be had their never been organized Labor Unions?

Labor Unions are the reason we have paid vacation time, holidays off, and 40 hour work weeks.

Do you ever think about the Industrial Revolution, the workers of yesteryear, how their lives were so much more laborious than ours today?

I can’t help but think about how the employment landscape will change over the next one hundred years.  Independent contractors, side hustles, remote office worker, virtual meetings and the Next Revolution.

See James Altucher for more on this thought.

While I don’t think that the fabric of our employment prototype will necessarily change over night, I can see that it is drifting to more independent work.  Great for workers who want to strike out on their own, be their own boss, set their own schedule, choose the best projects.  Scary for those of the status quo, who like the ‘security’ of a full time job with benefits and vacation days.  When the truth is there is no security.

I’d argue that the facade of security is holding some of us back.  What is the lost cost analysis for job safety, staying in a job that is safe and secure, but there is no growth or room for upward momentum?

Instead of being fearful of the changes ahead, embrace them.  Start thinking of a side hustle. Cultivate some skills. Ignite your creative sparks. Have a fund for a rainy day, an emergency stash of cash in case you get laid off from your ‘stable’ & ‘secure’ job. Think about your personal brand, your digital footprint, your professional reputation.  Start preparing now new work revolution.  And think about how different employment and our daily living looks now as compared to one hundred years ago.

What would your great-great-grandfather have to say about work-life balance, for instance?

I can’t help thinking of reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, where the poor migrant farmers literally worked the entire day to pay for their room and board and a meal of one mealy potato.

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Think about the next revolutionary wave and what it may look like for you.  What would you enjoy, what would be your concerns, what could you do to minimize your concerns?




Exploring Kansas City – What We Missed & What We Will Do Next Time Around

The Art of Love & Money - Kansas City - What We'll Be Back For

This was our first trip to Kansas City, and judging from the fun we had and the list of things to do there – the great local eateries, craft breweries and artisan cocktails, the live music scene and the ease of mobility in the city – it won’t be our last! We are casually pretty realistic in our choosing and pickings of how much we will be able to do in a day but we didn’t get to see and do a fraction of what we had hoped to do.  Here’s a few of the things we missed – and what we’ll be back for.

We missed most of the Over & Under Tour

Kansas City Library Rooftop. Photo Credit: Eric Bowers
Kansas City Public Library Rooftop. Photo Credit: Eric Bowers

Rooftop Terrace at Kansas City Public Library

African Sky Safari – Kansas City Zoo

Underground Irish Pub – O’Malley’s 1842 Irish Pub

Rooftop Brewery –Westport Ale House

Italian Restaurant –Rosso

Bourbon in a Cave –Holladay Distillery

Secluded, Covert Cocktail Bar –The Campground

We missed the distilleries, and the breweries.

We missed the Art Museums – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art& Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum at Prairiefire Photo Credit: Visit KC
Museum at Prairiefire Photo Credit: Visit KC

We missed the Museum at Prairiefire.


American Jazz Museum. Photo Credit: Visit KC
American Jazz Museum. Photo Credit: Visit KC

We missed the American Jazz Museum& Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

We missed Strange Music Headquarters.  Anyone know how to set up a tour there?

Next time we will be sure to eat at Joe’s BBQ before Sunday (they’re closed Sunday).

The Power & Lights District

And we will ride The KC Streetcar.

Have you been to Kansas City, MO?  What can do you recommend we do when we go back?  What’s your favorite K.C. BBQ?  What is your best hidden-gem tip?

Judging from this list, we’ll be back a few times!

ACTIONABLE STEP: Explore Kansas City & let me know what your favorites are!