This will be my first Thanksgiving to ever host and I'm excited! We're having my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and super cute nephew over on Thursday and I'm cooking us a delicious meal!
But first things first...the only recipe I have to share with you this week is this awesome pasta bake from Mix and Match Mama Blog.
Kevin and I really enjoyed it! The recipe made a large amount so with just two people to feed, we ended up with a lot of leftovers! So needless to say, we've been eating leftovers since then. I prepared it exactly like she says. The only things I'd do differently next time is maybe add some more cooking liquid and mix mozzarella into the pasta to make it a bit more moist.
I have a few recipes I plan on trying this week so check back later for the results. For Thanksgiving, I'm going to keep it simple for my first one and make the traditional dishes...turkey, ham, greenbean casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes and crescent rolls...oh and a chocolate chip pie from Mix and Match Mama again. My sister-in-law is bringing the mac n cheese! I'll be honest, I normally like to cook with fresh ingredients, cut out the unhealthy stuff and put my own twist to it, but I'm not doing that this year. I know my audience and I know they want the traditional stuff. And it's once a year, so why not?! I'll get more healthy at future Thanksgivings!
On a different note, I want to share about something non-food related! Something I'm passionate about (hold on...don't get too excited) is budgeting money. I know...make fun of me...I'm an accountant! But I don't think it matters if you're an accountant or not. Money is something EVERY person handles and depends on to live in this economy. It can make or break you. The love of it can hurt you, the lack of it can stress you out. It can be used as a blessing, it can be used as a weapon. Whether you're single, married, white, black, young, old, tall or short, this topic affects YOU! Financial freedom is so important and in fact, it's Biblical. We are to be good stewards of our money (1 Peter 5:2-3), be cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:7), honor the Lord with it (Proverbs 3:9), work hard for it (Proverbs 10:4), but not put our hope in it (1 Timothy 6:17).
For the past 5.5 years, I have volunteered as a budget counselor for New Friends New Life, a non-profit organization that helps women leave the sex industry and lead them to a life of self-sufficiency.
In our budget counseling program, we teach women how to track their expenses, budget their money, and about spending tips that can help them be able to become financial independent. My main goal in this program has been to teach others how important tracking your expenses is. Before I did this myself, I never knew where my money went. I didn't know if I was overspending on food or entertainment. I believe that you have to know where your money is going or you won't be wise with it.
I used an Excel spreadsheet to do this for years and it worked very well for me. And then I got married. I've only been married for 5.5 weeks and I can already see how hard dealing with finances can be. I have always heard that the majority of marital arguments involve money and I believe it. My husband and I have been trying to figure out the expense tracking part first...baby steps! We have both been using Excel as single people, but that doesn't work very well for us together. So here's what we're trying...
Goodbudget is a smartphone app where we can each enter our daily expenses/bills/income in one place. I know there are many out there such as YNAB and Mint. In fact, one of my friend's husbands (computer guy) has created his own app for them to use. We're not "techies" so we're using one that the Apple Store has to offer. We're liking this one so far! We don't like how it allocates income to certain categories so we just leave it uncategorized, but that doesn't matter. It's just nice to see how much we spend, as a couple, on a monthly basis. We know when we're getting close to the monthly budgeted amount for a category and can appropriately plan how much to put in savings or pay extra on the mortgage each month. Our goal is to be debt-free (including the mortgage) in just a few years. We'll have a better timeline once we get the hang of this...again, it's only been 5.5 weeks.
I encourage you to start tracking your expenses if you don't already. Download an app or sign up with a website like mint.com. I'm also happy to send you my Excel spreadsheets if you'd like to try one of those. If you already do track expenses, I'd love to hear what you are using and how you like it!
There are so many budget-related topics that I'd love to write about (saving, investing, how it affects your marriage, debt, spending tips, etc), but I'll save those for another post so this one doesn't get too long!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone! Be safe, have fun with your friends and family, Sic 'em Bears and most of all, remember...
"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for those who belong to Christ Jesus."
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18