You Need a Budget

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I first heard about YNAB, personal budget software from YouNeedABudget.com, just a few weeks after Caleb and I got married. (The timing on that one really couldn’t have been better, right?!) I downloaded the free trial right away and was instantly hooked.

YNAB makes it simple to track every penny of inflow and outflow, and one of my favorite things about it is that there is a mobile app (that automatically syncs with the desktop program) that you can use to enter a receipt as soon as you receive it — it only takes a few seconds. This really helps to keep the pile-up of receipts and checks to record from getting overwhelming! In addition, it’s possible to download transaction history from your credit card sites in order to mass-enter transactions quite quickly.

It’s easy to keep track of different accounts (checking, savings, and credit cards), yet see an overview of all at a glance. The software also comes with some great reporting capabilities that allow you to gauge your spending habits over the past month, year, etc.

While Caleb and I currently don’t necessarily stick to a super-strict budget with each category, it’s still helpful to be able to see exactly where all our money is going and try to put caps on certain categories. I also love that we have history of nearly every income and expense amount we’ve ever had in our 2.5 years of marriage so far, and can use the search tool to quickly locate any given transaction for reference.

So if you could use some help in the budgeting department, or aren’t satisfied with your current method (or lack thereof) of expense tracking, give this software a try! (If you use my referral link there, you’ll save $6 and I’ll get rewarded $6 as well!)

My Favorite Apps for iPhone

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In case you don’t know me personally, I will tell you: I am an iPhone addict. My first smartphone was a used iPhone 3 in 2012 and I have never looked back. I recently upgraded to my third one, the new 6s, and AT&T offered us a super sweet deal on an iPad mini that day as well that was too good to pass up. These devices bring me a lot of joy. I know that I am a rich American and that I don’t need or deserve them. But, I am grateful for the way they connect me to people, help me organize my life, and open up my world to infinite learning and discovery.

Here’s a short list of my current favorite apps…

Cortex Camera | My friend Rebekah just told me about this one; it’s a $3 camera app that takes amazingly high-quality pictures (much better than the built-in camera, even on my new 6s which was already a huge improvement over the 5).

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Stylebook | This virtual closet app is still one of my favorite things ever; read more about it here.

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Clue | I’ve tried a lot of different period tracker/fertility calendar apps and this is by far my favorite. The latest update includes a ton of new tracking abilities and it all integrates with Apple’s Health app, if you use that.

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CircleBack | If you’re like me and can’t stand clutter/disorganization with things like your phone/email contacts, use this great little app to manage duplicates and updates. But the best part is that you can mass-delete contacts — something you can’t do using the built-in contacts list on iPhone, for some reason.

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Cartwheel | Love this coupon app from Target. If you’re a frequent Target shopper, you simply must use this! So many money-saving opportunities.

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Couple | This is a little communication app for messages, stickers, location sharing and more for only two people. Caleb and I are sappy romantics and we love it especially for the “thumb kiss” feature. 😉

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OverDrive | My sister recently informed me that you can “borrow” e-books from the library using this app. (Maybe you all knew that already and I’m behind the times?) The Lancaster County Library System that I’m a member of doesn’t have a huge selection, but there are definitely a few good options. Maybe one of these days I’ll become an e-reader.

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Reference Guide for Essential Oils | Everyone talks about the Reference Guide and how it’s a must-have for every essential oil user, but I prefer the electronic version. It’s cheaper than the book anyway ($4) and I have it with me all the time.

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Shopkick | This is one of those “points” apps to use while shopping; you get “kicks” for walking into certain stores, scanning certain items, and purchasing others. They add up slowly but they do add up and it’s a super easy way to earn free gift cards from your favorite stores!

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Think Dirty | I’ve mentioned this one several times before, but in case you’re new here, I use this app to check ingredient info on cosmetic and cleaning products. Makes the research on toxins so easy!

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You Need A Budget | I fell in love with this budgeting software right after we got married. Having the app on my phone that syncs with the software on my desktop makes adding transactions in real time so easy.

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What app(s) could you not live without? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Instagram Feeds I’m Loving

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I love sharing my favorite things with you. That’s what The Realization of Good is all about! Today’s post is a quick lineup of my favorite Instagrammers. If you missed them earlier, check out my favorite blogs and Facebook pages, too!

  1. @the_beauty pill  //  super pretty beauty product feed
  2. @malisyourpal  //  Mallory has such a cool ministry over at @theuneditedmovement + I feel a kinship to her since her pregnancy loss earlier this year
  3. @marylauren  //  such a gorgeous feed + I think Mary looks a lot like my best friend, Michelle
  4. @oldjoy  //  mama + homemaker (whose hats, and baby-filled belly, I adore)
  5. @tortoiseandthehareclothing  //  a just-launched handmade heirloom children’s clothing line designed by my very own sister [in-law]
  6. @sackclothxashes  //  the coolest blanket company in the history of ever — I just placed an order for one this week & can’t wait ’til it arrives!
  7. @emilyhogarth  //  talented papercut artist & creative mama
  8. @mamawaters  //  such an inspiring mama, with a precious new tiny!
  9. @caroline_joy  //  it was a sad day for many when Caroline stopped blogging at un-fancy…but thankfully we can keep up with her + her fabulous outfit inspiration on Instagram!

And if you want to keep up with me on a personal level + all things #therealizationofgood, hit Follow on my account over at @melpfish.

What are some of YOUR favorite Instagram accounts?

Using Stylebook to Get the Most Out of a Capsule Wardrobe

IMG_1148If you’ve been following along with my capsule wardrobe posts, you probably remember me mentioning the Stylebook app. (If you’ve just arrived, you can catch up here.) Today I want to show you why I love it so much!

Stylebook is like a virtual closet. I upload pictures of all my clothing, along with information for each piece such as the brand, size, and price. I keep track of what I wear every day on the built-in calendar, and the app calculates statistics including my 25 most-worn and least-worn items as well as cost-per-wear and best and worst value!

Check it out…

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Some other great features include:

  • Size Tracker – a place to record all my measurements — this is super handy for shopping online, which I prefer over shopping in store because I’m not a big fan of shopping. I can compare my measurements to the size charts at a glance without having to remeasure every time! Also, I tend to forget which sizes work for me in which brands. You can record custom data here in addition to the built-in measurements.
  • Inspiration – a place to organize screen grabs I want to keep for future reference, selfies from the days my look turns out great and I want to remember a particular combination, and favorite Pinterest pins.

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The app provides a great visual for planning what to wear, what to purchase, and what to pack. (Speaking of packing, you can create packing lists for upcoming trips and dream destinations, as well!) And, throwing together outfits on the “Looks” page is not only a great boredom buster on road trips and such, but is an easy exercise in creativity with mixing + matching different pieces.

By the way, the upload feature includes auto and manual editing tools that enable easy erasing of the photo’s background, giving that crisp clean white look you see below. Total Polyvore style! (Here is a great resource for getting professional-looking images.)

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So, how has using this app helped me figure out the capsule wardrobe thing? Well, it tells me exactly what I wear the most, when I wear it, and for what occasions. I’ve been able to figure out which pieces are worth splurging on because they get worn so often, and which pieces, much as I love them, just don’t fit my lifestyle. I’ve also gotten a better handle on what colors and styles I gravitate towards, are the most versatile, and make me feel good about what I’m wearing. And that’s what capsule wardrobes are all about — finding a small amount of pieces that you love and are worth their cost + real estate in your closet!

I think it’s safe to say that Stylebook is my very top favorite app on my phone right now. I like to tell people it’s like a game — it really is just that fun! If you decide to give it a try, I hope you’ll love it as much as I do. And if you need any tips once you get started, feel free to give me a holler…