Sunday, September 28, 2014

Man vs. Baby

It's hard sometimes to not make your child the center of your world when he runs up to you to give you kisses and pose for pictures like these....

And when an adult forgets to turn the oven off and it stays on all night it's a lot harder to forgive them than it is when your nineteen month old screams at you for not letting them watch Space Jam for the, oh, thousandth time...

And I know that as young mommas we think we're supposed to feel guilty for preferring a night away with the hubby and leaving the kid behind...

But it shouldn't be like that.  I need to remind myself daily that, while I need to train my child up in the way he should go, my husband is the one with whom I'll be when the kids are trained and gone.  The hubby takes precedence, people, and to some that might not sit well.

So remember to leave the chitlins behind and do something your hubby loves this week! For us, it was going to Churchill Downs and watching some races - a place I don't understand yet, but is one of the hubby's favorite places to be.  And you know, even though I don't have the money to place a bet or know what the heck a superfecta is, I had a lovely time focusing on my man.

Keep your children close and your husband closer!

Scarcely had I left them,
when I found the man I love.
Song of Solomon 3:4a CJB

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Four Weeks of Frugal: Week 2

I must say, I am rather relieved our fiscal week has renewed.  By the fourth day it's all too easy to be stretched thin budget-wise, especially when that budget is $100 (including groceries) for your WHOLE WEEK!  Let me put it this way: by day five I was microwaving stale honey buns as a snack (I need the calories anyway).  

  • $58.42 on groceries.  And this was the first day.  More than half of our weekly allowance, poof, gone.  Our cashier had read about my frugal challenge, so there's no way I could lie about this one and claim that we spent that money more efficiently than we did! But what is a mom supposed to do, just NOT buy produce? Come on.  I might live off of stale honey buns but my child will not!
    Budget friendly meal I made: if you have Ritz crackers, shredded cheese, and milk lying around, all you need is the chicken and you have yourself an entree!

  • $25.00 on more Christmas gifts.  I feel it should be mentioned that this is the first year ever I will not be freaking out in December over what to get everyone. 
  • Another $6.58 on groceries.  I wanted to feed my mother in law, but I couldn't have her over without some puff pastry and a small bag of ice!
  • $5.80 at Rally's.  If, for some reason, this is the only blog post of mine you have ever read, please let me assure you that we don't limit ourselves to processed MSG-loaded sub-food! But when you've just gotten off a sixteen hour shift, you kind of only want a cheap greasy burger.  Besides, I had two coupons.  
That amounts up to $95.80.  Woohoo!

  • Starbucks.  Luckily I saw on Facebook that Sunday was buy-one-get-one fall frappucino day.  I got myself a nice pumpkin spice while Ian enjoyed a salted caramel mocha. That gift card is, for all practical purposes, completely cashed.
  • $2.98 on eggs and shredded cheese.  I used our old food stamp card which had a little over three bucks left on it anyway. 
    Free dinners are always awesome
  • Dinner at Mojitos Tapas, thanks to my mother- and grandmother-in-law.  
  • I used Ian's Target gift card to pay for a $7.29 chalkboard. 
    Et voila! Hung the chalkboard in the kitchen to keep track of our hectic schedules!
  • Four consecutive trips to the zoo with the membership that was (you guessed it) gifted us. 
    He got to become good friends with this guy
So, while it might not be the way some people would choose to spend their $100, it worked for us.  Not only that but we actually ended up with $77 cash by the end of the week from sales I had made on Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook (and let me tell you, I sold those people some CRAP-ola.  Really Craigslist guy? You want to buy ESPN Jeopardy the Boardgame for $3? Okay.)

I guarantee you, someone will take your clutter, so you might as well SELL IT! 

Another successful (by my definition) week of the Four Weeks of Frugal is in the books! My challenge for week three is to somehow pay it forward, with what little we have.  

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer...
Proverbs 11:24a 

Four Weeks of Frugal Challenge

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Four Weeks of Frugal: Week 1

A couple weeks ago, I happened upon the blog Living Well Spending Less' challenge of 31 Days of Spending Zero.  The basic premise is that, save for bills and bare minimum essentials (we're talking bread, milk, and eggs here), you and your family spend zero dollars for a whole month.  No eating out (even a drink at Starbucks), no outings or dates that would have you fork over a couple bucks, no running out to buy a bottle of wine, nothing.  You live off of creativity to cure your boredom and what food you have in your pantry to keep you from starving.

In light of our recent medical expenditures, I first thought, What a marvelous idea! Oh, the savings! I quickly began calculating how much we might save and asked the hubby if he would be amenable to taking on such a challenge.  Being the compliant guy that he is, hubby went along with it, as long as we allowed ourselves to buy fruit in addition to the French toast ingredients.

We were all set to begin our challenge, when I got an invitation to dinner with some girlfriends.  Well crap, I thought.  I can't even go to a nice dinner with the ladies because of this thing.  After some more time contemplating, I concluded that, while idyllic, 31 Days of Spending Zero was not something I believed my family should take on.  I mean, isn't it a little extreme?  All that self-denial in the name of saving money?

So, I concocted a challenge and tacked a title of my own clever invention on it: "Four Weeks of Frugal".  Each week, we have a total of $100 cash to spend however we so choose - but nothing more.  It can be spent on a combination of groceries, eating out, and clothes; or it could be spent on a night at the movies and a getaway at a hotel.  But we are only allowed the $100.  Bills, tithing, and gas are the only exceptions.

Well, our family has completed its first week on this new (temporary?) budget.  I will say that there are probably wiser ways we could have used some of the money, but I think we did an okay job: we didn't go over the limit and we also didn't have to deprive ourselves of simple pleasures like a double date.

For accountability's sake, our cash was spent as follows:
  • $10 on Dash's Christmas present 
  • $41.76 on groceries
  • $7.25 on a family outing for mini donuts at the mall
  • $40 at the Melting Pot on a double date (Okay.  This one is obviously not super money-wise.  I made a mistake thinking that because we had a Groupon, we wouldn't have to spend any money. WRONG! But, we had a lot of fun and I had leftovers. Boom, justified.)
Frugal fun at the park
This doesn't sound like much, and you're right.  $100 doesn't get you very far in a week.  If you're like me, however, you have gift cards hidden, unspent in your wallet because they aren't gift cards to Target.  I've had some of these gift cards for years and only used them this week because, well, I didn't have anything else to spend! Here's what I bought with gift card money:
  • $9.43 at Starbucks (I mean who can resist a caramel macchiato in this fall weather?!)
  • $41 at Bath & Body Works (We were already at the mall, okay? And who doesn't want an automatic soap dispenser and bubble bath gel?? This is something I would never buy without a gift card, by the way.)
  • $19 at Trader Joe's for produce to juice
Is that cheating and defeating the purpose of the challenge?  Living Well Spending Less blogger might say yes, but I say, it wasn't cash out of my bank account.  It's okay to use.

We did do as many free things as possible.  Dash and I made frequent trips to the park, we fed the ducks, we had family feed us, and today we used our gifted zoo membership to go look at the sad orangutan.  Heck, I actually MADE money this week by selling unused baby toiletries to a fellow momma.
Family fun on the train at the Louisville Zoo!
So, I would call our first week of frugal a learning experience and a success.  How will we spend next week's money?  Only time and my blog will tell...

If you want to see a full set of my "rules" for Four Weeks of Frugal, click here or download here: Four Weeks of Frugal Challenge