Monday Mandala 30

Mandala_30I can’t believe I’ve done 30 of these already.  I’m excited to color this one and see how that changes the look of it.  It feels balanced and I’m happy with the different levels and how they turned out.  I wish I had made the center layer a bit more complex, but overall I’m happy with the design.

Tired of Drowning in Debt?

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Credit: Pixabay

When I jumped into the planner world online, I discovered lots of Etsy shop owners and YouTubers talking about the Dave Ramsey method of budgeting.  I haven’t read everything by Dave Ramsey, but since I’ve always struggled with budgeting, I decided to see what he had to say.

**NOTE: I am not a financial planner or advisor, I am simply sharing a method that has worked for me.**

Everyone dreams of being debt-free, right?  But how do you actually get there?  There are a million financial advisors who can tell you what to do to become debt-free.  It’s simple – pay off your debts and avoid buying things on credit.  But simple is rarely easy.

And when you have a mountain of debt, even when you’re throwing every extra penny at it, it can feel like you’re not even making a dent.  What I learned from Dave Ramsey was to approach my debts in a different way.

What makes the most financial sense is to start paying off whatever debt you have with the highest interest rate first – that way you save the most interest and reduce your debt faster.  However, when your highest interest rate debt is also your largest debt, even when you’re paying extra, it often doesn’t seem like you’re making any progress.  So people become discouraged and quit making the effort.

Enter psychology.

People need to feel like they’re making progress in order to motivate them to continue their behavior.  So instead of paying off the highest interest rate debt first, Ramsey’s advice is to concentrate on the smallest debt first.  Yes, it doesn’t make the most financial sense to do it this way, because your large debt will still be accruing interest while you pay off the small one.  But – you will see progress quickly, and that will motivate you to continue doing what you’re doing.

Once you have one debt paid off, put that same payment amount towards the next biggest balance until it’s paid off, then repeat.  So, for example, when you pay off your car loan and your payment was $200, then you take that $200, plus whatever minimum you were paying on the next biggest debt, add those together, and make that the new payment amount for that debt.

Following this idea, rather than concentrating on my large credit card balance, I focused on the small balance remaining on a car loan.  Within 6 months, the car loan was paid off.  And the feeling of walking into the bank and paying it off was amazing! To help me keep track of what I’m paying, I created this Debt Snowball Tracker for myself (there are a million versions of these out there, so feel free to grab this one or make one for yourself):

IH Debt Snowball Tracker PNG

I currently have four credit cards, a car loan, a bank loan, and a mortgage.  I’m ignoring our mortgage for this purpose, because we will likely move and sell the house before we pay it off anyway.  We did just refinance our mortgage and were able to get a better interest rate and lower our payment, so that will help.

Simply having a visual tracker like this helps so much when you are budgeting and paying bills.  You can see how much the amounts are reduced in a single glance, and when you see that you are getting close to paying off the balance, it helps give you that extra push to get it done.

Once I paid off the first car loan, I have been adding that payment into the bank loan (our smallest remaining debt balance), and in just a few short months, it will be paid off as well.  After that is paid off, I’ll be able to attack our credit card debt and work my way through them as well.  And while I know that this approach doesn’t make the most financial sense, it has allowed me to be successful in making progress, and that’s what matters to me.

Back on Track

Download Success
Credit: Pixabay

I think I’ve mentioned before that I am a planner from way back.  I’ve been planning for as long as I can remember.  I’ve done it for so long that when I don’t, it throws off my whole schedule.  For instance, because I’ve been trying out different planners, I don’t have everything in one place like I used to.  So I completely missed the fact that I have double-booked myself for two events that I have to attend.  Which means I now get to figure out how to rearrange schedules so that I can make it to both – not the end of the world, certainly, but things would have been much easier if I had realized it from the beginning and scheduled accordingly.

In the planner sticker world, the Happy Planner Classic and the Erin Condren Life Planner are two of the most popular planners.  I finally got my hands on a cheap Erin Condren (half-off because it’s an 18 month planner, but it’s got all of 2020 in it, so win!) and I also bought the Happy Planner mini and Big sizes so that I could take measurements for my sticker kits.

I was surprised to discover that I actually really like the Erin Condren planner.  It’s good quality, it’s sturdy, and the paper is smooth.  The downside? The large spiral – it gets in the way of everything I do.  So, while I like it, I won’t be using it.

I thought I would stick with the Happy Planner Classic, because I knew I wouldn’t use the mini.  I don’t carry my planner with me – it stays on my desk and I check it periodically throughout the day.  If I worked full-time, I might want something portable, but not now.  And I’m finding that I really miss my large, cheap, big box store planner – it was large and had lots of room to write in the monthly spreads.  The monthly spread is really all I use in my planner, because I like to see everything at a glance.  I’ve been trying to use the weekly spreads in the Classic, but it gets annoying to keep flipping back and forth.

I think I’m going to move to the Big Happy Planner – I don’t need the weekly pages, but the monthly spreads are large and give me plenty of room to write everything I need to in one place.

I’ve managed to pare down from 6 planners to 2 – one scheduling planner and one budgeting.  It’s taken some getting used to, but I feel like I have a good handle on things now that I’ve pared down.  For a while there, with 6 planners, I think I spent more time copying the same thing into multiple planners than I did actually planning.

I have gotten all the templates for my monthly sticker kits made for the sizes I want to sell, and my goal now is to get demos printed and photographed so I can post them for sale. I’ve also figured out how to make covers for the Happy Planners, and I’ve already had two requests for them!

HP Classic Cover
My first cover!

It took me a couple of tries to get the dimensions just right, but I’m excited to make these.  I picked up some pretty scrapbook paper to use for them and I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

Now that my planner and organization is back on track, hopefully everything else will fall into place.  Things aren’t going as fast as I’d like, and I’ve still got some business housekeeping things to take care of as well, but I’m slowly getting there.

Am I An Artist?

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Credit: Pixabay

I love to do creative things – write, draw, paint, dance, sew, crochet, etc.  I may not be any good at some of them, but I love doing them.  The other day I was wondering where my creative need comes from, because I’ve never thought of myself as particularly artistic.

It suddenly hit me the other day that I come from a long line of creative people.  Something I knew, but never really considered until recently.  My paternal grandfather was an extremely good artist.  Unfortunately, a mental breakdown and electric shock treatment seemed to burn that creative spark out of him.  I treasure the few pieces I have of his.

My maternal grandmother was creative, too.  When I was small, she was always painting ceramics.  In the 70’s, she owned her own kiln and we would buy bisque ware, clean it, and then fire them in her kiln before we would paint them.  She was a poet.  She wrote poetry for herself, but also for other people.  She was often asked to write poems for birthdays, retirements, and obituaries. In her later years, she took up oil painting.  I still have some of her work.

My mother was also very creative.  We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so she sewed most of our clothes when we were little.  She could create a pattern for anything out of thin air.  She once helped me create (from scratch, no pattern) Star Trek uniforms for my brother and I to wear to a convention. (Yes, we’re those nerds.)

My mom taught me all kinds of creative skills.  She was a troop leader at one point for my sister, and they were always making something.  They had one project where they transferred designs from coloring pages onto wood, carved them out, and then painted them.

She taught me to knit, to crochet, and to latchhook. (Does anyone do latchhook anymore?)  I learned how to cross-stitch, crewel, and embroider with her.  We even did macramé at one point. (Jute plant holder, anyone?)

It’s funny how for all these years I’ve resisted labeling myself as artistic.  I was surrounded by all these creative people, which I recognized, but I never thought of myself the same way.

Over the past several years, I’ve come to realize that most people are artists – although in many different ways.  So, though I still often suffer from that dreaded imposter syndrome, these days I consider myself an artist.

Color Challenged

I love to create thing, but I’ll be the first to admit that my ability to choose colors is practically non-existent.  Finding pleasing color palettes has been a challenge as I’ve been working on products.

One day, while searching for something else, I came across the Coolors website.  Jackpot! Coolors is a site that will generate color palettes with a simple flick of your space bar.  The palettes are only 5 colors, but I’ve already found it to be an invaluable resource when I’m creating stickers.

For my monthly kits, I want the color palettes to be pleasing to the eye.  But I also want to offer a variety of choices, and I find it difficult to create color schemes, especially if I don’t care for the colors myself.

I’ve also used the site to create some of my colored mandalas.  I can save a palette and then use it to color my digital mandalas in Procreate.  I used one of them to create this colored mandala:

Mandala_19_ColoredPretty nifty! It’s certainly going to make my creating easier going forward, and that’s always a good thing.

Create a Font from Your Handwriting

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Calligraphr.com

I’ve been busily creating things over the last several weeks.  Some things have happened at work that have me even more sure that I want to get my business launched so I can work for myself rather than depending on an employer.

In addition to creating new stickers, covers, and the like for my sticker business, I remembered seeing a video about creating a font using your own handwriting.  So I went searching and found the website Calligraphr.

Basically, you print out a template and then write in the letters (capital and lowercase), numbers, and punctuation in your own handwriting.  You then scan and upload the template with your writing and the site will create a font for you from your handwriting.

You do have to create an account and provide an email address, but you get one font for free.  Delete your one free font (after you save the files and install the font on your computer) and you can then create another free font.  (You can only save one font file at a time with the free account.)  When I made mine, my hand was a bit shaky and some of the capital letters aren’t that neat.

I also noticed that when I tested out the font in a document, it was very small.  At 12 pt it looked like this:

MyFont12pt

As you can see, it’s small and pretty hard to read.  I tried making it larger:

MyFont24pt

Much easier to read, but I’m curious if there’s a tweak I missed somewhere to increase the size before the font file is created.  I’ll check next time – I want to try creating one that’s more of a calligraphy style font, but still in my own hand.

When you generate the font, you can also choose from two file types – OTT or TrueType.  The OTT file lets you add fancy flourishes and such, but unless you’re a professional font designer, the TrueType font is usually sufficient.

Calligraphr states that your font files are yours to use whenever and wherever you see fit, including commercial uses.  You can also upgrade to a paid account, which lets you create multiple fonts with additional features not available with the free account.

It was cool to see my handwriting in use as I typed, and even though I can’t make fancy flourishes and such, having a font that looks my own handwriting will surely let me be kinder to my carpal tunnel.  It means I can type notes that look handwritten and personal, something I’m sure I can use with my sticker business.  I may try some digital journaling using this font and see how I like it.

February Planner Stickers

Once again, I am behind schedule.  I have been working on my sticker business, creating stickers and figuring out what works for me.  If I wouldn’t use it, I don’t want to sell it.

It’s taken more trial and error than I had anticipated.  I wanted to start offering my monthly sticker kits in February, but since I’m behind, now I’m aiming for March.  Le sigh.

However, there is good news.  I’ve been creating stickers and I’m happy with how they’ve turned out so far.  I’ve avoided posting pics of what I’ve created because I want to wait until I have them ready for sale (i.e., when I’ve finally decided if I’m going to plunge into Etsy).  But since I’m not going to sell this February kit, I thought I’d share it.

My picture taking skills still need work, but here’s what the first two pages of the kit look like:

IH Feb Tulips Monthly Kit

It’s not perfect (the kit or the picture), but I’m working on it.  I am going to use this kit myself for February.  I made a winter-themed kit for January that I’m using as well.  I didn’t think initially that I would need weekly kits, but I am going to try creating some of those as well.

Using kits like these are any easy way to make my planner prettier, while still remaining functional. There is a third page with some additional full and half boxes, as well as some script and scalloped stickers.

Here’s a picture of the kit in use:

IH Feb Tulips Monthly Layout

I think it turned out pretty well, though my sticker application skills could use some work.  As could my photo skills, since there are weird shadows on my photos – I took this using a light box and they’re still there.  I guess I need to use the light box and my ring light.

I made these for my classic Happy Planner, but I’m struggling to keep from purchasing the other sizes and brands to see which one I like better.  I have to say, I love the disc system and the fact that I can take the pages out and write without the discs getting in my way.

My next tasks are to improve my photography, get busy creating for March kits, and working on other functional stickers.