this is how we do it: BUDGET

SPOILER ALERT: You will not find nitty gritty stuff in this post. You will find no discussion of numbers, income, or expenses. Below is simply a collection of thoughts that has brought my husband and I together on a hot topic issue. Carry on!

Chris and I put our money together right around the time we got engaged, I think. The details are fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure we decided it made sense to learn how to manage our money together from the get-go. He had a little debt from his divorce and was in the process of getting out from underneath his house before it foreclosed. I was in nursing school and nannying for cash on the side. Since there wasn’t a lot of money to go around anyway, we just threw it all into one bank account. We had no savings. We had no credit cards. I hadn’t yet learned how to go into debt, nor had I learned the secret of being content. We were just a little bit broke and a whole lot in love.

Over the next several years, I managed the finances. I did so very, very poorly. I am great with details and schedules, but I was neck-deep in fear and panic. Chris is a peace-keeper by nature, but he had a hard time saying no and he avoided conflict at the time. So we struggled along for years before things came to a head. I dropped the ball at least once a month, and he gave me far too much grace. During a particularly rough season, we agreed that Chris should take over the finances and also that he should keep things to himself for a few months while he found his footing. Three years later, we are in a much better place. While both of our names are on everything, he handles the day-to-day details as well as an overall vision for where we’re headed. We connect at least once a week and touch base about the future, both goals and anticipated needs.

As a married couple, we’ve gotten into and out of debt several times. We’ve always had a mortgage. We’ve opened credit cards and paid them off. We’ve switched banks. We built a house, bought another house, used the first house for rental income, and then eventually sold it. We bought land adjacent to our current house.

We’ve taken out small cash loans for old cars and paid them off as fast as we could. We’ve learned how to save. We’ve learned how to get out of and stay out of debt, though I’m not sure we’ll ever be completely free of it. We’ve never filed for bankruptcy. We’ve wept over medical bills. We’ve contributed the maximum allowed to retirement funds. We’ve given a lot of money away. We’ve been on food stamps and Medicaid. We’ve enjoyed family vacations.

I get asked about money more than any other question I receive on the internet, which is understandable but difficult since neither of us are experts. However, I want to honor the questions by giving y’all a little glimpse of how we handle money around here. The ground rules will be particularly helpful for you on this one! There’s no way we all have the same amounts of money and income, or the same type of bills and expenses, or even the same beliefs about how to handle it all. Okay? Okay! Let’s get started.

Because my husband manages our money, it only felt right to ask him to contribute to this post. So recently I asked him, “If you were going to tell someone three things you do with finances that make you feel both secure and freed up, what would they be?” He answered fairly quickly, which is actually quite unusual for him. This must mean these are important nuggets. So listen up, and grab ’em while they’re hot.

Thoughts from Christopher:

Balance your checkbook. “This relieves stress because it leaves me with no surprises.”

He keeps a Microsoft Excel spread sheet (color-coded, of course) with all of our income and bills and expenses, divided up into categories that work for us. There are sections for regular monthly bills, budgeted areas like food and automotive and self-care, money coming in, giving and saving, etc. He says this took him about six months to nail down, and he works on it every day for about five minutes. During the months where he lets a week or two go by, he says it takes him several hours to catch up. Every morning, he pulls up the spreadsheet and compares it against our bank account. Sometimes he texts me or yells down the hall to talk about it, but most of the time it’s just a quick check-in that he handles by himself.

Prepare ahead of time. “I try to make arrangements when I see something coming down the pipe.”

Now that we don’t live in fear about what’s coming next and whether or not we’ll have enough, we’re able to look at the future with clear eyes. Now that we’ve learned how to say no and how to save, we don’t stress about the random school fees and unexpected car repairs. At the same time, though, we’re able to tighten things up if we know we’re headed into an expensive season. For example, we won’t eat out for two weeks if we know we’re traveling at the end of the month.

Get on the same team. “My no doesn’t crush you because it’s our no.”

We used to try to talk about finances, but it felt too hard and awkward and overwhelming and embarrassing and so we’d avoid it for months. Once we forged ahead and got through the hardest conversations, we got on the same page. We committed to staying on the same team, and we unified our goals and our language. To jump start, we did a spending freeze for one month while Chris learned how to track everything and got a rough version of a budget set up. We agreed on what felt most important, and how we wanted to attack things together. Things have been smooth(ish) sailing ever since. This means I might not ever get a new kitchen, but it also means that someday we might have enough cash to pay for three new kitchens, and that is just as powerful.

Thoughts from Rach:

We loosely follow the Dave Ramsey program. We attended Financial Peace University several years ago and we used his cash flow budget sheet as a starting place for our budget. I agree with his wisdom and cheer on the folks I know who subscribe to it explicitly, but we’ve found a better fit in taking some parts and leaving others.

I use cash for “blow money” and it’s literally changed my life. Every Sunday night, I get cash back from the store when we pay for our groceries. It’s mine to use on food, coffee, skincare, whatever I want for the week. It makes me feel empowered and not policed, and it keeps the swipe count down on our bank account so Chris doesn’t have to muddle through it all each day. Outside of that cash, I check in with him before I swipe the check card for anything. It felt awkward at first, but now it just feels right and honoring and freeing.

We recently quit my employer-sponsored health insurance plan and picked up a policy with Medishare. It has been an adjustment, but so far so good! And we’re saving money in premium costs, so that’s helpful.

I contribute the maximum allowed toward my retirement fund.

As Jesus followers, we believe that it’s important to resist. We resist what culture tells us to care about in regards to money. We refuse to idolize the American Dream, but we take it a step further. We also refuse to idolize financial freedom. We believe our salvation is secure regardless, and we want to focus more on the Kingdom of God than on anything else. This means we practice financial responsibility, but we do not give into that late-night, sleep-deprived obsession and worry that pretends like there isn’t a God out there who cares about his kids.

We have life insurance.

We recently decided to spend a certain amount of money of groceries and household items (like soap and toilet paper) per week, which leaves enough room for us to eat out once per week. This means we have to choose – either a date night or a meal out as a family or a couple of quick takeout runs. This has been a particularly helpful and fun part of the process.

We tithe. No matter what. Every month. As of right now, we tithe to our church every time we get paid, and then we give a little extra to other various charities and ministries. We are currently supporting Preemptive Love and Shama Women with a monthly subscription. Sometimes Chris hands a server our check card and tells them to pay for another person’s meal, or we’ll write a check to a friend’s church plant. It’s been so cool to watch him lead us in radical generosity.

We do not have it figured out. Some of this information will be outdated by next week. We are not experts in anything other than being needy children of God, trying to learn stewardship as we grow old together. I hope it helps a little! Hit me up with any life-changing tips you’ve got regarding finances!

I bought every product from Glossier… a review.

-updated October 2017 with more products and more opinions

I first started using Glossier about a year ago, after seeing the brand on Instagram. I have since fallen in love with it, as both a skincare + makeup company and as a force of nature + empowerment in the beauty world. I love Glossier’s slogans, their branding, their packaging, and the fact they use a diverse range of models and real-life women in their campaigns. I visited their flagship store in NYC the week that it opened (previously-planned trip, promise) and was not disappointed. Their real-life vibe is just as cool and genuine as their online one. I am impressed that in a world of full-face and drawn-on and more is more, Glossier is planting its flag firmly in the camp of natural is beautiful; let’s just tidy it up a bit.

In this post, I’m going to review everything Glossier currently sells.* I’ve literally pulled up their site up in a different browser window and will simply work my way down their product offerings, giving you a little snippet of what the item is supposed to, and how I use and like it. Let’s get started!

SKINCARE

The Supers – “supplements for your face.” You can buy these three serums separately or in a trio at a discount. I bought the trio. I did not notice a huge difference, such as a crazy glow or plumped skin. However, adding these into my regimen was the turning point, when I began to notices the subtle changes in my skin overall. My face was smoother, my makeup went on easier, and everything just felt brighter and healthier. I also experienced drastically fewer breakouts. The bottles are deceivingly small and don’t last forever, but the price point is great compared to that of other serums on the market.

Will purchase again: YES

Priming Moisturizer – “light and buildable moisturizer for a dewy, smooth canvas.” This is marketed as a lightweight priming moisturizer. It goes on easily and does not irritate the skin. It is unscented, and I like the packaging – you don’t have to squeeze hard to get it out. I use it in the morning on top of the face mist.

Will purchase again: YES

Milky Jelly Cleanser – “one face wash to rule them all.” I cannot disagree with this. I use it only in the morning after the gym, but I could easily use it multiple times a day. It’s so gentle! And it smells like heaven filled with roses. Sometimes I apply it on a dry face, and let the water suds it up. Other times I get my face wet first.  I plan to never run out of this stuff. I use it in the morning as my only cleanser, and in the evening for makeup removal before a tougher cleanser.

Will purchase again: YES

Priming Moisturizer Rich – “a supremely lavish hydrating experience.” Yes, a thousand times yes. I’m so glad Glossier came out with a heavier option. This goes on like a night cream, but I’ve found myself using it in the morning, as well. It is packed with hydrating ingredients and my face feels soft hours after applying.

Will purchase again: YES 

Balm Dotcom – “cult favorite do-everything salve.” I first saw this product being applied in a video, on a girl’s lips and nose and even cheeks. It really does work that way! It’s like the new Vaseline, with better ingredients. I use it on my eyelids and lips. I’ve tried the unscented, rose flavor, cherry, coconut, and birthday. The flavored ones have a nice little tint, and the birthday has some shimmer!

Will purchase again: YES

Mega Greens Galaxy Pack – “a juice cleanse for your face.” That sounds about right! This mask goes on smooth and little chunky, with actual pieces of leafy greens and who-knows-what that never quite rub all the way in. It also never totally dries like a typical clay mask, but I have to grown to enjoy that feature. I can apply it more often without it feeling super harsh.

Will purchase again: YES

Moisturizing Moon Mask – “the most intensely hydrating treatment we could make.” Packed with hyaluronic acid and a bunch of other super-moisturizing ingredients, this has become much more than a mask for me. In fact, I haven’t washed it off once since purchase. I apply it at the end of my nighttime routine as a sleeping pack, and leave it on while I sleep. This is the juiciest, plumpest my face has ever felt. That’s a good thing.

Will purchase again: YES

Soothing Face Mist – “for fresh, glowy skin all day long.” I’ve used rosewater sprays before, and they’ve never really made me dewy or glowy. This one isn’t an exception, but it does have extra ingredients (aloe, for one) that make my face feel much softer and refreshed after use. I spritz in the middle of the day, as well as first thing most mornings beneath my moisturizer.

Will purchase again: YES

 

MAKEUP

Cloud Paint – “a new way to blush.” This is Glossier’s newest product, a gel-cream that goes on in four vibrant shades that ease up into a natural tint when applied. I own Haze and Puff, and I am pleased with both. I particularly enjoy the little tutorials Glossier has released for each color, and I’ve tried to emulate those looks. However, I just don’t like getting messy. I’ve never been a “make a palette on the back of my hand” kind of girl, and my fingers get a little stained from this. Although, I could try a designated sponge blender for this. And I do really want to try Dusk. Maybe in another formula, someday.

Will purchase again: NO

Haloscope – “the galaxy’s first dewy effect highlighter.” Praise God for this baby! I have it in Moonlight and Topaz, and I rarely go a day without it. Sometimes I stack one on top of the other. I love the ease of use, and they last all day long without looking too shimmery or sparkly. It has a moisturizing quality to it, too, which I adore. This product is one of my top two favorite products by Glossier.

Will purchase again: YES

Generation G – “lip color that gives the look and finish of just-blotted lipstick.” That is exactly how it looks. I own Like and Zip. The colors are vibrant but easy to wear wherever, with as much or as little makeup alongside it. I bought my second one after they modified the formula a bit, but I still find they lack staying power and tend to crease pretty quickly. They go on best with a little Balm Dotcom on top.

Will purchase again: NO

Boy Brow – “our all-in-one brow filler, fluffer, and shaper.” This is my absolute favorite product at Glossier. It does everything it says, and it stays in place for hours. I have tried all of the shades and they each do great for different purposes. I use Brown the most. I cannot recommend this one enough.

Will purchase again: YES

Perfecting Skin Tint – “more skin, less makeup.” This concept is a new one for a lot of us makeup and skincare connoisseurs. It’s not a tinted moisturizer. It’s not a foundation. It’s not a sunscreen. It’s literally the layer between moisturizer and whatever other skin-covering makeup you put on your face. It evens out the tone and adds a little dewy sheen to your face. I wear it on top of a tinted sunscreen, and these days those two things form my foundation step.

Will purchase again: YES

Stretch Concealer – “makeup that lets skin look like…skin!” I’d agree with this claim, and it’s why I cannot buy it again. It goes on smooth and lasts for hours. The color is a great fit, too. But it just doesn’t provide the full coverage I’m looking for under my eyes. That’s the only area on my entire face that I want a nice thick layer of help. This one also creases considerably on me, but maybe I’m not priming correctly. I’m wondering if maybe it does better with color correction around noses and on chins, instead of a heavy layer on my undereye circles.

Will purchase again: NO

Wowder – “cut shine, blur the appearance of pores, set makeup, look like skin.” Yep, it does all of those things. I don’t wear it every day because I like a dewy look and it provides more of a full-face, made-up look, but it also covers imperfections and smooths everything out. I have been just as impressed with this as any competing mineral makeup, even more with Wowder so than most of the other brands I’ve tried. I do wish it came in a compact, instead of a loose powder.

Will purchase again: YES

Lip Gloss – “cushiony, crystal clear shine.” So true! This stuff gives me a long-lasting glossy look, without any tacky or sticky feeling or residue. It originally came in a holiday collection, but now Glossier has added it to stock for good.

Will purchase again: YES

OTHER

Body Hero Duo – “for the other 90% of you.” I am very pleased with Glossier’s first step onto the body skincare scene. The wash goes on like an oil but foams up easily when wet, and the lotion starts out thick but also spreads very well. A nickel-sized amount of each product works for my whole body. I wasn’t crazy about the scent at first, but it’s growing on me (still wish it came unscented). It sticks around most of the day, and the lotion really does produce a subtle shimmery glow.

Will purchase again: MAYBE

Invisible Shield – “sunscreen for people who hate wearing sunscreen.” I’m already borderline obsessed with sun protection, so I didn’t need to be convinced to add sunscreen to my routine. This stuff smells amazing and goes on very smoothly. A little really does go a long way. The only reason I don’t plan on purchasing again is because I prefer a higher SPF.

Will purchase again: NO

Glossier You – “creamy, sparkling, clean, warm. That’s You.” I only recently began wearing perfume and decided to go with one signature scent that my kids picked out, but I was happy to try out a sample of this fragrance. I am crazy about it! It’s actually similar to the one I already wear, but just different enough to keep things interesting. I agree with the claim that the base notes lead out – there’s nothing too overpowering about this scent but it fits pretty much any scenario.

Will purchase again: YES

There you have it! If you choose to buy, I highly recommend trying the kits, so you can experience several products at once and save a little money. As far as new products go, I hope they release an eye cream soon. I hear SPF is already in the works. It happened! And I bought it, of course. Invisible Shield smells amazing and goes on very smoothly. A little really does go a long way. The only reason I don’t plan on purchasing again is because I prefer a higher SPF.

I assume by now that you can tell I am a fan. Been there, done that, bought the actual sweatshirt. Well, my best friend bought the sweatshirt for me for Christmas. Overall, I’m just really into the Glossier message. I love that they have democratized beauty (founder Emily Weiss’ words) in a way that makes it both simpler and more accessible to women like me. Glossier is about beauty in real life. I can get down with that.

*As of October 31, 2017, I own every product currently in production by Glossier. I've never received a product for free, although I was recently selected for the brand's rep program! Shop through any of the links on this post to access my personal page and score 20% off of your first purchase!

this is how we do it: SKINCARE

I figured I’d start with something easy. I’ve been working on my face for a long time now and it’s time to act like an expert, okay? But really, I’m only an expert on my own skin. So read the ground rules, settle in, and get ready to spend at least twenty minutes a day on your face. I promise, you have time.

One of the fancier things I did was give up my manicure budget (about $100 some months, depending on whether I did the gel thing or got my toes done) and put it towards professional facials. Ideally, you’re getting a facial once every four weeks. It helps with skin turnover and resets/jumpstarts your home routine and all that. BUT WHO HAS TIME OR MONEY FOR THAT? My facials run me about $175, plus tip, and then I spend another $50 or so in products while I’m there. Last year, I got three facials. This year, I will probably only be able to afford two.

There is much (MUCH) to be said about what you do at home. A one-time fancy treatment cannot take care of everything. But even aestheticians get facials, y’all. I don’t know all of the things my girl does to my skin, but I do believe it’s magic. She is also incredibly helpful at identifying what type of skincare I need at home, another reason to get thee to a professional STAT.

So, the routine. At home, I wash my face twice a day and do not touch it in between. I try not to reapply makeup and if I have to so much as adjust my glasses, I do it with the back of my knuckle. My mom always told me her daddy always told her, “a lady should never touch her face.” I am a rule follower. I also wear sunscreen every single day of the year, no matter what. I wear a hat every single time I go out in the sun during the summer. I’m a freckle-faced gal, and those freckles began joining together as soon as I turned thirty. I’m also the fruit of two sun-loving, skin cancer-surviving family tree branches, so I’ve got to be careful.

In the morning, I wash with a cream cleanser. I follow with toner, serums, moisturizer, and sunscreen. In the evening, I remove my makeup with coconut oil and rinse off. Then I wash with a decongesting cleanser. I follow with toner, serums, eye cream, eyebrow growth serum, moisturizer, and a sleeping pack – an even heavier moisturizer to lock it all in. A few times per week, I use an electronic spin brush during cleansing. Also a few times per week, I use a clay mask during the evening routine. This step falls between the toner and the serums. Also ALSO a few times per week, I perform a little at-home peel with a combination of glycolic and salicylic acids. This falls between the toner and the serums (after the mask, if I do it on the same night).

Without even knowing it, I have slipped into a Korean skincare routine. Google it! The Korean folks basically believe that every skin problem ever experienced is due to dehydration. Their experts don’t understand why we Americans implement such harsh practices like bar soap and spin brushes. They practice skincare in small, tedious, isolated steps in order to soak in each ingredient and provide maximum hydration. I have absolutely no problem addressing issues with my skin one by one. It does not feel tedious to me. It actually feels incredibly life-giving to spend a few minutes in the morning and evening taking care of my face. I close the bathroom door, turn the air vent on and grab a few peaceful, prayerful moments to myself.

As far as the other family members go? I slather my little kids in coconut oil head to toe a few nights per week, and use Lucas’ Papaw Ointment on their faces each morning and night after brushing teeth. My teenagers do their own thing but are hilariously receptive to “spa nights,” where I try my lotions and potions and masks on them. My husband washes his face nightly with just water or bar soap (I’ve tried to get him off of it, but he’s allergic to nearly everything). He follows that with a men’s moisturizer and wrinkle prevention/treatment system by RoC. He uses the same moisturizer in the morning, since it has sunscreen in it.

And now, the goods! I’m going to list some concepts and ingredients below as a down-and-dirty tutorial. I’m also going to share products I love (Glossier will get its own post soon), with links if I can find them. Some are affiliate links, which give me discounts on future purchases if you use them. No pressure. Here we go.

Cream cleanser – gentle for mornings and makeup removal. I like the milky jelly cleanser by Glossier and the gentle milk cleanser by Au Thermale Avene. I rub it on my face dry, like a lotion, and then it produces subtle suds when I add water.

Decongesting cleanser – more powerful ingredients to get things rolling for the nighttime routine. I like Skinceuticals. This bottle has lasted more than a year and I don’t think I’ll wash with anything else anytime soon. I noticed results (cleaner pores) in less than a week.

Toner – balances skin pH and preps the skin for serums. I am currently using PMD (gentle) in the morning and Revision (exfoliating) at night. I swipe on with a cotton ball after patting my face dry from washing. This is not the harsh, drying astringent stuff we killed our skin with as teens.

Serums – powerful concoctions of incredible ingredients that activate cell regeneration. They can be watery or viscous. Serums brighten, plump, tighten, attack dark spots, clear acne… you get the picture. I’m currently trying out a bunch of products by The Ordinary. They’re relatively new on the scene, and disrupting the skincare world by offering a price point 10x less than competitors. I’m very happy with Biossance, which is also affordable. My skin actually shines and glows for hours after this stuff. I have also experienced good results with Glossier Supers. The serums are non-negotiables, guys. Washing your face is really just prep for these babies.

Retinol – reduces fines lines and wrinkles, enhances the work that peels and serums do. I am currently using CVS wipes and am very pleased with the brightening effect! I apply after serums and let it dry while I brush my teeth, before moving on to the next step.

Eye cream – works on those fine lines, circle, and bags, depending on the issue you have. Circles and fine lines are my biggest issue, but I haven’t found a cream I completely love yet. I’m currently using RoC. I have very sensitive eyelids and am prone to eczema, so I typically rub Lucas’ Papaw ointment on those.

Eyebrow serum – nothing else to say except I physically and literally watched my eyebrows grow back with NeuBrow. I’ve gone through two bottles over the last two years and will not need to purchase again.

Moisturizer – seals in all of that hard work. Look for one with hyaluronic acid, which can hold a bajillion times its weight in water. It hydrates the mess out of your skin while the serums do their work. I am currently using Glossier Rich and Moon Mask as my sleeping pack.

Here are some fun, random, off-the-top-of-my-head tips… I love the occasional sheet mask for detox and hydration. You can get them really cheap on Amazon. Cutting back on dairy and increasing my water intake has drastically improved my skin, better than any skincare product I’ve found. A lot of companies and stores and spas offer samples for free, and they last for months! Just reach out. If you’re ever confused about the order in which to apply products, go thinnest to thickest. Korean products are some of the most cutting-edge and the most affordable. When I learned about their routine, I wrote down each step of the regimen and listed the products I already had that worked. For sensitivity issues, I try to only add one thing into a routine at a time. I refrain from purchasing new products until my existing items are completely used up. I try to never mess with blemishes, but I do like Mario Badescu for spot treatments.

I think that about sums it up! I hope this was helpful and not overwhelming. Personally, my skincare journey has been a joyful, exhilarating experience within the context of learning to steward my body well. It also happens to be fun and rewarding, with visible progress along the way. Icing on the cake! Now, go wash your face.