Mint...the Money Making App

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

I am normally not one to rave about an app, because quite frankly I rarely use an app enough to rave about it.

However, the Mint app is one that I keep coming back to. This app helps you with all your financials. It even gives you tips on how to make more money (for instance, it suggested that I look into some online banks for a savings account because I could be receiving a higher interest rate than at my home bank). I ended up doing this, and I'm glad I did!

I love that it helps you create a budget, and alerts you when you're close to/over it. I tried (and failed) at using a google sheet to budget. I always had to manually go in and change it. Then, if I used a gift card somewhere I felt like I still needed to write that down. But, with the Mint app, it doesn't even know the gift card exists and really focuses on your bank account information.

In fact, I love this app so much that it made it onto my bookmarks bar (which has important social media, one of my banks, school, and medical sign in places).

One of my favorite aspects is you can link every account you have. I have two savings accounts, checking, and multiple credit cards that are all kept on track in one place. This also means that the app takes all this information into my budgets so I don't have to do it. 

Plus, all of this information is right at your finger tips, no more toggling back and forth between all your credit card companies, banks, etc. 

This app lets you know when you made a big deposit, or if you've got low funds (great if you use a debit card). It also lets you know when your bills are due for all your linked accounts. 

The only fault that I can find with it (and it might be my bank's fault) is that it disconnects from my primary bank. This is obviously frustrating, but it also lets me know via email that this happened. 

Do y'all have any apps that you love? Comment below and let me know!

with southern grace,

Making Money Fast

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

I don't know about y'all, but money is always important. I know that money doesn't make you happy and other things like that, but it definitely improves your quality of life. In fact, I had to get a tax return transcript, I was able to see all of them from when I started filing my individual taxes. I was able to see when I only had my job at school, versus a job at school and another job in the summer, and then when I worked started working full time post grad. Now, I will say I have been very fortunate: I am able to pay for school without going into debt thus far. I know not everyone is that lucky.

While having a job is great, it can also be really time consuming depending on where you work. I'm fortunate that I have down time at my job as well as can ask for days off when I need them. During the traditional school year, I was working two jobs. Granted, one did go with my licensure program so I was able to do part of my school requirements on the job.

However, there is one website I absolutely adore. It's called Swagbucks. Essentially, you earn points (Swagbucks) for doing simple things like surfing the web, taking polls and surveys, and even watching videos. I'm able to earn about 2500 points a month, which equals about $25. This isn't too bad when I'm spending maybe 10-15 minutes a day doing it. A nice perk to Swagbucks is that if you hit your "goal" for the day, you get a bonus and then they give you a bonus goal and even more bonus swagbucks (you get the bonuses at the end of the month).

Wait, only $25? Well, if you take more surveys and spend more time you can earn more. But, let's put that $25 in perspective:
-a little more than a tank of gas (I typically hit around $21-$22 for a tank).
-two meals at Panera
-two+ months of Netflix (depending on your subscription)
-19+ songs on iTunes (at $1.29 each)
-a 20 oz. Yeti Rambler ($24.99)

All of a sudden that $25 is looking better isn't it?

You receive your "money" in gift cards (literally to anywhere it seems) or you can get it in a PayPal gift card. It deposits directly into your PayPal account.

There's several other places like Swagbucks, too. I also use opinion outpost (surveys only), just not as frequently.

Make sure to use my referral code if you want to sign up!

with southern grace,

All the Deets: Shopping Local & Small Business

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

I for one have worked both corporate and locally owned retail jobs. I'm a big proponent of small, family run businesses (both my parents are entrepreneurs); however, both my brother and I work/will work for larger companies/the local government (my brother works in IT and I'm finishing up my teaching licensure). 

There are tons of perks to shopping your local community:

1. Money stays in your community. Often times when you shop with a big corporation, the money has to go to other aspects of the company. When you shop local, it has no where else to get!

2. You know the people. You know who you're shopping with. You have probably grown up knowing the person who is assisting you the in the store.

3. Better customer service. Who doesn't want better customer service? We want you to shop with us, so we're willing to work with you.

4. We can get what you want easier. Since the employees have direct contact with the buyer (or can make suggestions to someone who does) over a company that only looks at numbers. The employees can say things like "I've had multiple women come in interested in this type of product by this company". Then, the owner or the buyer can look into getting in stock. Likewise, custom ordering something is often easier. 

5. Improve your community/Make it what you want. Wherever you chose to give your business will succeed more than a business people aren't buying from. Personally, I've stopped shopping at some local businesses because they've upset me so much.

Do y'all shop local? Or do you chose to go to department/corporate stores?

with southern grace,

Book Review: Sarah Dessen's "Once and For All"

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

This book is all about weddings. The main character, Louna, works for her mother: a wedding planner. Louna's outlook on life can be called skeptical at best after a recent event, and the amount of weddings her mother helps to plan (often the second or third wedding) don't help. This book isn't complete without a bet that with all facts figured in, both are going to lose.

If you're familiar with Dessen's other books, it reads very much the same way: some situation has happened in the past, and overtime that situation comes to light and then you understand why the character acts the way they do. Personally, I've been a big fan of her work since high school (and eagerly checked out her books at both the school and public library).

This book (like many others in the market today) tries to talk about a difficult societal issue. Dessen keeps the information to a minimum throughout the majority of the book. I liked this slightly hidden plot element because it allowed for the rest of the plot to really shine through.

Overall, this was definitely a well written book (like all of her novels have been). However, I feel like this one was captivating unlike any of her other novels. This story has a different mix of characters (a mom, a deceased father who never played a role, and a gay father figure). Of course, we have our usual trouble maker. My only real complaint is that I feel like the ending is very obvious.

with southern grace,

A Letter to my Freshman Self

7:00 AM

Hi y'all,

I have seen on overload of new college freshman headed off to their orientations. This, of course, has left me super nostalgic as I think back to mine that was *gasp* 6 years ago. Now, that I'm feeling slightly oldish, here goes nothing:

Dear Lindsey,

It's going to be alright. I know you decided to move 3 hours away from everything you know to an area that you were told never to venture into. However, CNU really is as worth it.

You're going to struggle. But, you'll learn from it. You'll have to ask professors for help (and you'll get much better at it-don't worry). You'll also learn how to kill it in your classes and impress your professors (helpful hint: take all the classes you have to write papers, not take tests). Don't skip the classes, it isn't worth it (good news, all classes take attendance). Be thankful for the strict technology policy. You'll be grateful later when you learned how to take notes by hand instead of on your computer. Also, no cell phone in class equals actual attention on the professor and not on whatever is going on in your life (and that's nice for an hour and 15 minutes).

Parties aren't all what they're cracked up to be, and you'll be thankful for the nights you stayed in, just as you will be for the nights you went out. You don't need a date to have fun, either. Truthfully, you'll have more fun without one.

Your roommate doesn't have to be in your best friend, but she can turn into your best friend. Starting out, roommate situations are often sticky, but don't worry, it'll get better. You'll get the best roommate ever, and somehow you'll keep each other (barely) alive.

On that note, you'll also learn who your true friends are and who is willing to turn their back. That's okay. You'll learn how to stay out of the drama you don't need to be in (and somehow sleep through the biggest drama all year). Keep in mind, your friends will change. Be (very) thankful that housing isn't until February.

You'll learn how to handle going to the doctor by yourself, including a trip to the ER. It's okay, you'll survive, and you somehow will learn to advocate for yourself.

You will learn what is important, and what you can live without. Your priorities will change, and you'll focus in on the more important things (or at least what you consider more important).

It's okay that you stick with your major that you chose coming in. Everyone around you might be changing their minds, but it's okay to stick with it. It's also okay to throw in a second minor on signing day.

Get a job, and treat school like a job. You'll be thankful for the money when you graduate. Volunteer (at more than one place) you'll be thankful for the experiences later. Be thankful for the work ethic that becomes ingrained in you.

Go to the gym. More than once. It's a great stress reliever and time killer. You don't need to watch Netflix all the time.

Don't mind the construction. At the end of your time, you'll be thankful you saw CNU's campus change and grow. You'll really be thankful on graduation day when you can say you were part of the first class to graduate in front of Christopher Newport Hall.

This goes along with spend time in each building. You'll love them all and find a purpose for each of them (even if you remain confused how some your leadership and Communication classes end up being in Forbes).  Also, the walk to the third floor of McMurran is killer. Wear comfortable shoes.

Make friends with your professors. Also, take Connable very seriously when he wants to know your weekend plans/what you did during your weekend. They want you to have a life! Don't be afraid to go see them for no reason.

Be on top of your advising appointments, always. Go prepared and you'll end up getting to know them instead of having to deal with things that you could have looked up on your own.

PLP Speakers aren't that bad. Well, at least not all of them. You'll hear some cool stories, and your views on leadership will definitely change. 

Last, but certainly not least, your four years will go by far too quickly. Enjoy each day as much as you can.
with southern grace,

Teacher Prep: Making a Unit Plan

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

Since I'm finishing up school to be a teacher, I figured I would share some of my insights on what I've learned from my program thus far (after all, teachers learn from each other).

I do realize the school year just ended (or is ending for some districts). However, some teachers have to switch grade levels and have to start coming up with lessons and units for their new grade. New teachers also have to do this.

For one of my classes (Elementary Education Methods), I had to learn Backwards Design lesson planning and create a lesson plan. Now, I'd made lesson plans specific to language arts and reading groups before; but I had never done the Backwards Design model before.

For my class we turned in two lesson plans before working on our actual unit plan. Our unit had several requirements (like you had to have a technology lesson, cooperative lesson, and a lesson you found on the internet). Quite frankly, I found most of them on the internet, but I wasn't afraid to switch some things up.

I have the good fortunate to be getting my licensure in the state of Virginia, which means that I have the Standards of Learning (or SOLs) to follow.  Most (if not all) states have something similar.

Since I already knew I had a guideline, I picked out first grade citizenship as my focus for my unit. Citizenship is super important, especially for the younger grades as they're learning about society (gives them background knowledge they might now have) and it also teaches them about being nice to each other.

I took each standard, and put it into Google Sheets (I don't have Microsoft on my computer). I then had a column for each lesson (I had to have 10 lessons). Each time I completed an SOL, I put a check for the lesson plan.
(c) withsoutherngrace

This way, I knew exactly what I needed to accomplish in my lessons. I also thought about how I wanted to assess my students. Something I've noticed is there is way to many papers. I'm glad that students have stuff to take home to their families, but come on, no one needs that many papers. 

Therefore, I thought about ways I could ask questions to the students and do check lists instead. That way, I could write out the responses and be able to watch what they were doing instead of having 15 plus worksheets to grade throughout the unit. 

In Wiggins and McTighe's model of Backwards Design, after you figure out how you're going to assess, you have to figure out what the Big Idea/Understandings and Questions are (these are also known as Essential Understandings and Questions). Luckily, in the state of Virginia, it's essentially the SOLs, just reworded. This allows the students to have something to discuss. 

I then wrote out the lesson plan using the WhereTo format. I also typed out what materials were needed (worksheets, technology, pencils, markets, erasers, etc.). This way, when I pull up the lesson I know exactly what I need and can have it ready to go!

For some of the activities, I found them online (I found ideas on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers). However, some of them I had to tweak to the Virginia SOL specifications. I've even been thinking about putting them on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

How do y'all lesson/unit plan? How do you find your activities? Do you use Teachers Pay Teachers?

with southern grace,


7:00 AM

Hi y'all,

Passion. The word that so many people are trying to find. I can't tell you how many times in college I was asked, "what's your passion?" or "what are you passionate about?". I get it now because that is what helps you figure out your potential career. However, what I'm passionate about now is much different than it was two years ago when I was fresh out of college.

When I was in my last semester, I thought about starting my own social media business. Then I realized I would have to do all the things I don't like: work all the time and live in a big city. Now, my hometown is a college town, thus about a quarter of the population isn't here four months out of the year.

Now, I can fully say my passion is in education. Both myself and future generations of children. Knowledge really is power.

After working a job that I lost my passion for, finding it again has been key to my success. I have maintained a 3.9 GPA in my program and have passed all of my tests so far on the first try (still waiting on the last one).

When I was thinking about my passion and how I found it, I also thought to myself you know what didn't prepare me for this? High School. I never took a career aptitude test, ever. The only time I took one was when I was already considering going back to school and I took one on the community college's website. Sure enough, teacher was the first suggestion.

I won't say my passion was easy to find. I did struggle and it took some time (and two bachelor's degrees, but who's counting?). However, I'm grateful for my story and I know that I am more passionate about teaching than anything else and I will continue to be thankful for my journey even when I have my own classroom.

What's your passion?

with southern grace,