Learning to Love A New City

I was raised in a small southern town.  I lived in the same place for 32 years and was surrounded by immediate family.

Then my family moved to a different state and into a very large town.

Home, At Home, Luck, Feel At Ease

We’ve all heard the saying that home is where the heart is.  For years, I didn’t feel like I was at “home” in my new surroundings.  When we would plan a trip back to visit my family, I would say that we were going home.  It has just been in the past few years (more than eight years later) that when I speak of home, I mean where I really live now.

Starting over without family or friends nearby, no net work, no tribe was very scary to me!  I felt very alone for quite a while.  Everything that I knew was within the four walls of my home.  I didn’t really venture out a lot and if I did, I felt lost immediately, both in the physical sense and emotionally.  I eagerly waited for my husband to get home every afternoon.  He was my one friend. (no pressure there, huh?)

A friend of mine recently moved to a new state, more than 9 hours away from her childhood home.  I have been admiring how well she has transitioned.  She seems to have already found her friend group and is loving her new life there.  What took me years to do, she has done in months.

I started thinking about how that is done.  How do you just start over?  What could I have done to build a life in my new environment sooner?

I’ve come up with a few things that have helped me and that I wish I had done sooner.  I’m so thankful that I now feel at home and actually enjoy living here.

  1. Find your tribe.

    This was the most important piece for me.  I often think that I am an introvert but I LOVE being in the presence of others, especially those moms who are in the same season.  Find those people.  Search for a group.  Some possibilities might be a church group, a MOPS group, or a volunteer group that interests you.  Take a class.  Find a job.  If your kids are in school, make it a priority to be involved in the activities.  In my case, it was through taking a teaching job that I met some of my dearest and closest friends.

  2. Learn about and appreciate the area.

    Is there a particular culture or history that is unique to the area?  Is there a local signature food? What do those who have lived there forever know about the area?  Learn about and try to experience those things and you will begin to feel like you are a part of it too.

  3. Meet your neighbors.

    This may sound crazy but you have something in common with the people next door.  You live on the same street, on the same floor, or in the same building.  Those people could end up being your closest friends.  They can watch out for your home, your children, and your pets.  Introduce yourself and get to know them.  You just might find a new friend next door!

  4. Appreciate the surroundings.

    Find the beautiful parts.  Visit the parks.  Visit the downtown area if possible.  Look for the positive.  I now believe that every place has beauty if we take the time to search for it.

  5.  Be welcoming.

    This may sound silly since you feel like the new person.  I spent so much time feeling unwelcome that I didn’t take the time to welcome others into my life.  You never know who else is new or searching for a friend.  You are now a member of the community.  The people moving into the area will be searching for their new friends too.  You can be the person to show up with an apple pie when a new neighbor moves in!

Have you moved to a new location?  What are some things that you did to help make your new home feel like home?  I’d love to hear from you!



Ways to Save Money on Vacation

Summer, Holiday, Holidays, Recovery

Ahhh…summer.  That time of year when many travel for summer vacation.

I am very fortunate that summer vacations have been something that I’ve looked forward to every year since I was a kid.  Many of my best memories were made during those trips.  It seemed that every year this time was set aside for my family to reconnect by spending hours together on the road (I’m not sure if all those are fond memories) and experiencing whatever thrill my dad had planned.

It has been important for me to continue that with my kids.  While we don’t do elaborate vacations, we do try to get away together for a short time each summer.

Vacations don’t just pay for themselves though!  They can really be tough on a budget if we’re not careful.  My husband and I have a set amount transferred from our bank account into an savings account each month specifically for vacation.  Otherwise, we might look up in June and realize that we have no money to travel.

While it is vacation and some of the fun is not to pinch every penny, here are some of the ways that we save without feeling like we are scrimping on a good time.

1.   Find a good deal on a hotel.

I shared here about how I saved money by asking for an educator discount.  If this is not applicable to you, then there are other ways to save.  If your dates are flexible, ask for better rates when you call the hotel to make the reservation.  If you make a reservation online, don’t forget to use your Ebates account to get cash back.  If you are willing to do a walk or a drive (think about parking $ though) you may also choose to stay a bit of a distance from the “scene” and pay quite a bit less for a hotel room.  You can read more about my hotel up “the hill” here.

From my personal experience, it is wise to have a hotel booked before you travel.  I have ended up in a few places where I was tempted to sleep with one eye open and would not let my children touch anything.  You don’t know what other activities may be in the area and hotels could be filled….at least the good ones could be ! 😉  If you’re a bit more courageous than I am about that, I’ve heard that you can wait until the day of your arrival and score a great deal on rooms that are left.  The hotel had rather have the room occupied, even at a lower rate.

2. Pack snacks for travel.

By far, this is the biggest way that we save. Avoid convenience store and amusement park prices for snacks!  We made a trip to Costco and bought things that we could easily pack and eat during the drive and throughout the week.  I can’t even begin to calculate how much money this saved us.  We took a cooler in the van and packed it with drinks, string cheese, and fruit so that we had snacks during the drive.  My husband packed a backpack each day with bottled water, juice boxes, fruit roll ups, rice krispie treats, crackers, and other small things that were easy to pack for being out and about.  We had snacks ready when the kids’ moods and sugar levels started to plummet!

3. Look for coupons in a local attraction guide.

You can almost always find coupons and deals in attraction guides.  When you arrive, go to the welcome center and pick up travel brochures.  A quick google online can also leave you with tons of options to save money on the attractions.  Buy 3 slices of fudge and get the 4th free…yes, please!

4. Skip the souvenirs.

This is possibly just my opinion.  One can only have so many pieces of $9.99 junk to drag home and later send to good will.  To be totally honest though, those things did have some appeal when I was a kid.  I mean who doesn’t need a snow globe, gigantic pencil, and paperweight with the city’s name on it?  But now that I’m the adult, I don’t want to spend my money on those things and thankfully my children don’t seem to be attracted to it.  I’ve gotten pretty good at distracting them!

Whatever our budget, I try to use this time to reconnect with my family and not stress over funding it.  If I can do little things to take the financial stress away, I can also come away without a stack of bills.  For me, this makes the trip more enjoyable!

If the budget doesn’t allow actually traveling away from home, then do a stay-cation.  More coming about that soon!

What are your tips for saving while on vacation?  Do you try to save or just forget budgeting altogether for the sake of having a good time?

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Quick Tip Tuesday – Tip #4

For the month of June, I’ve been sharing quick tips!  The posts are quick to read and the tips are quick to implement.

I personally use all of the quick tips and have saved a lot of money by doing them!

Today’s tip for saving money is making your own detergent.

I have shared this before through a longer post but I can’t emphasize enough how happy I am with this recipe that I’m using.  The key to the success for me has been to let the bar of soap dry out for about a week (this requires some planning ahead).  It grates into a very fine powder if you do that and will dissolve easily in the wash.

You might think that this is time consuming but I can make a batch in about 20 minutes now.

It is so simple to make, cleans well, is cheap, and is better for the environment.

If you make your own detergent and have tips to share, please leave a comment!  I love learning from others!