Saturday, September 29, 2012

What did you do Right?

I was attempting my second NO SPEND for this week a few days ago and I seriously wanted to buy all these little things. I had written to my friend about how badly I wanted to buy the little tooth brushes (I only bought them once but those single use Colgate toothbrushes are actually awesome), a bottle of water, some cat litter... stuff like that, all stuff I didn't need to buy on a day I was attempting a NO SPEND. My friend wrote back about how its interesting that we've come to a point where we're no longer lusting so much for non-essentials but rather practical things.

She's right you know. Many of us, many of you are thinking about practical ways to spend as little as possible on lunch and dinner. We're looking for ways to spend less on laundry detergent and make our own magic erasers. We're turning our thermostats down in the winter and driving as little as possible. We're wining this war by golly.We're staring financial freedom in the face and saying, "you shall be mine!"

There are steps back, bumps in the road, BIG fails and some days where it looks as if all is lost BUT we are changing. We are growing, progressing and going somewhere grand. Maybe if we keep it up and inspire others, maybe we can teach our governments a thing or two... just a thought.

I accomplished 2 NO SPENDS this week. I brought lunch to work with me over 50% of the time this month. I cooked a ton of dinners at home. I put $230 into savings. I said no to so many purchases that little devil me insisted I needed and I didn't buy a billion toys for my boy like I wanted to (I think I bought 1). This list makes it pretty clear that I didn't really accomplish anything I set out to do this month but the matter of fact is even though I didn't make it all the way to the top of the ladder I climbed pretty darn high. 

I encourage you to make a list (especially if you're feeling down on yourself) of everything you did right. I bet you're moving forward. I am.

Two days from now starts October, the fourth quarter of 2012. BRING IT ON! 

Monday, September 24, 2012


I was thinking about that last bit of my header today:
The Plan: Spend an average of $12 a day on food, household supplies, and gifts. The Goal: Freedom! 
And really truly pondering what freedom must feel like.

Freedom to me looks like being able to plan a trip to Sweden, Alaska, Ireland, The Grand Canyon, The redwood trees and knowing I've the funds to finance it. 
I want to drive through a tree

Freedom looks like being able to buy a $155 coat for my boy just cause I love it and not having to think about all the creditors I owe. 
He doesn't need a tail anyhow : )
Freedom looks like being able to donate however much money I might wish to feed hungry tummies in Guatemala, or provide clean water, or shelter and care for orphans.

Freedom looks like being able to stay home and raise my boy and take care of my home and husband. 

I think I'm ready for freedom.

NO SPEND Monday Hooray

It may be partially pathetic but I am so proud of myself for not spending one single penny today.

I specifically took the babe and went to the store yesterday on my day off (I work at a supermarket) and bought exactly enough groceries to last three days, until Thursday, payday. Today I was tempted by several different beverages pretty much because I was getting dehydrated and needed water but I did not cave. I stuck to the plan. I didn't spend a penny. I cooked (an awful) dinner when I got home and I can call today a crazy Monday type chaos filled successful day.

Please can I go to sleep now...

yeah, not quite yet.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Fourth Quarter

I'm pretty excited about these last three months of 2012 and fall is my favorite season. I feel like I've got somewhat of a chance to redeem myself financially. There are 3 months left to stick to the budget and obtain a small sense of accomplishment for 2012.

The Fourth Quarter
$1000 emergency fund
$12 a day: food, household supplies, gifts; spending
$3 a day for the babe
Keep track of and jot down every penny spent
Read through my blog
Notice and acknowledge every lovely bit of life

That seems basic enough.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Is it January Yet?

I feel like this year has been such a huge mess up. Ok, I knew before it even began that it would be difficult and WONDERFUL. I knew that it would basically be ALL about the baby. I knew that we'd be really strapped for money but I didn't expect that my defenses, that my will power, that my every ounce of energy would be so sapped.

Today I found myself thinking, "Can't this year just be over already?" It will be over before any of us know it but I was feeling that I need a new start now. Just throw this one under the rug and begin with a clean slate...

Ah, but I am not ready to resign 2012. After wishing for the speedy arrival of 2013 I realized that there's still a quarter of this year left. One fourth is really a big chunk of a year. I figure I can do a lot with one fourth. I should be able to get together a $1000 emergency fund. I should be able to find satisfaction and accomplishment in sticking to the budget for an entire quarter of the year. I've got one fourth of 2012 left to love on my baby boy AND kick it into gear financially. One fourth of an entire year to notice the lovelies. One fourth of an entire year to wear my rose colored glasses. There's something to be said for that.

2012 is NOT over yet! The first 3 quarters may have been a not incredibly successful challenge but I have a son now. I'm a mom. The hubby got the promotion. We took care of our Boz's teeth (again). He's back in good health. Okay! Pep talk done.

Today's lovely: The baby boy is starting to slowly lift his little hand to his hair and pull and twirl and softly feel his fuzzy auburn head. I'm amazed that only a few months ago he was growing in my stomach and now he's experiencing the world and really enjoying it. What a miracle life is.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Possibly Losing It

I thought I was a month behind on my communications bill. Turns out I over paid. That put an extra $50 cushion in the budget this month (considering I didn't get Labor Day holiday pay as planned). I just went to pay the natural gas bill, which I budgeted $60 for and turns out I overpaid on that last month. Instead of a bill this month I have a $3 credit.

So, there's a possibility I'm losing my mind. But it looks like I'm $100 closer to the additional $500 in the emergency fund goal for this month (If my husband doesn't spend it first... believe me I'm not going to inform him of my horrible calculating, but he can spend $100 without me knowing in the blink of an eye).

Friday fail. Saturday no spend.

The ONE goal for now is $1000 emergency fund. Currently $220.

September's challenge is to not buy food or coffee while working with only 2 exceptions.

Friday was a fail. I ran out of coffee filters. I literally cried when I opened the cupboard to get one and saw they were gone. I bought a coffee and a cookie before work and I bought a diet Dr. Pepper (pop) while working. My two exceptions have officially been spent. BOO!

The good news is that I've been kicking butt with dinners. We ate out once last week. I can blame that on my husband who brought home taco bell. I have three dinners worth of ingredients in the house right now. Believe me that's REALLY good for us. Usually we have enough food to make one dinner and then we just don't "feel" like eating that dinner so we get something else. Now this dinner downward spiral happened shortly before the baby was born... we totally reverted to our old ways. But I'm making a come back to the good ways. It feels good! I feel healthier and the budget is feeling it too!

Friday was a fail (but we did eat dinner at home). Saturday was a NO SPEND! 

$1000 emergency fund here we come.

Saturday Lovely: The babe had this weird hyper bought. He was kicking and squealing and giggling almost uncontrollably. It was a little weird but he thought he was so hilarious. Priceless.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pollyanna Moment

Gripe, gripe, gripe... Yesterday I got an e-mail back from HR in response to my question about Labor Day holiday pay. The answer is, "You haven't averaged enough hours over the past 12 weeks to qualify for Holiday pay," even though you're a 40 hour employee who we've not been giving 40 hours to because work is slow and you're not allowed to work on Labor Day and we won't give you the raise we previously said you would get this year (after FOUR years of not having a raise... which with the current economic situation and inflation considered is basically a demotion)*. SO the 40 hour week I thought I had this week (for the first time since I've been back from maternity leave) turns out to be a 32 hour week. (Completely giving away my pay rate) That puts me another $80 behind this week. I cried. I actually cried when I got the e-mail. You know how sometimes it feels like the world is against you?

This morning though I had a wonderful Pollyanna moment. At the beginning of last month I had to pay double on the cable/ phone/ internet bill because I was behind. Somehow I (thought) missed last months bill because it comes towards the middle of the month and I didn't get it. So I was pretty sure this months bill would be double again. I put $260 in Septembers budget for cable/ phone/ internet. Turns out I'm not behind! Ok, so I'm $80 down because of Labor day but $130 up because I kept poor track of the communications bill. Woohoo! The way I look at I just found an extra $50. Pollyanna!

* Its not that I'm a bad employee but in my company you don't get a review unless you have bad performance. But raises usually go along with reviews... I know that doesn't make sense. I am told fairly regularly that I'm one of the best field workers. So even though I work all alone with no one to compare my work to I know I don't suck. I can't stand asking for a raise but I actually did it in December. My boss said he'd put in for one in January (and basically said I'd get it). Our company got bought before he put in for one and now he says the new owners put a freeze on raises. My last raise was in 2008.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Emergency Fund

I'm neurotic. No denying it. I'm not so much a worrier though. I don't worry about tragedy, sickness, accident, Murphy if you will. I stress about the dishes not being done. My mom doesn't even know how to worry and luckily a bit of that rubbed off on me.

Here's the thing I'm realizing though, and I believe a HUGE reason I've never committed to the Emergency Fund (baby step numero uno in the Dave Ramsey program) now that I have money in the bank I've this constant feeling that something is going to happen; like the car might clonk any second, or the fridge might break down, or the dog might need surgery (again). I don't worry about those types of things normally but ever since I got that first $100 in the EF I can't stop feeling tragedy coming.

So, the question is am I insane or is this semi normal? I've never had savings before. Weird, I think I may have just realized that to be fact after typing it but I've never had savings or committed to saving before and now that I've begun it feels SOOO futile.

Almost Friday Anyway

The ONE goal for now is $1000 EF, currently at $220. Only $480 to go in order for me to meet this months hopeful.

Today's September challenge was a success for myself and my friend. YAY us!

At present hubby and baby are asleep for the night. I didn't buy any food at work. I didn't even have to buy groceries for dinner. I cooked dinner at home. I've finished balancing the checkbook. I washed some of the dishes. There are clothes in the dryer (and wash). Oh, the list goes on and continues to get more and more boring. I do still need a shower and I need to track down some sanity and... well I won't continue with this list either.

So, trying to bring food to work and cook at home again has added several extra chores to my never ending list but despite constantly feeling overwhelmed I am doing much better emotionally now that I'm reigning in the finances again. So far this month has brought with it a breath of fresh air that I haven't known for quite sometime. Life hasn't gotten any less crazy but I'm feeling better.

Today's lovely: This morning's drive up north. It was unbelievable. Fall is truly on its way. The foliage in fields was accompanied by the autumn yellow bushes. There were these spectacular little plants that almost looked like dew covered spiderwebs, which I've never seen before dotting hills for miles. Which is funny because I spotted a fantastic neon yellow plant last year on my drive north that I'd never seen before. The clouds this morning were practically putting on a show. At first they were misty grey waves like upside down rolling hills of silk in the sky. I'm surprised I've an impeccable driving record. I couldn't stop watching them. They quickly took on a deep blue hue and then the sun began to tip them with glowing edges. Then sunbeams burst through creating streaks of light traced with yellows and oranges beneath the deep blue clouds (that had formerly been a light grey silk). Just as this scene began I came upon the Wind turbine field. I'm not sure why but I'm in love with the enormous wind turbines they just put up north even though I've only ever seen one of them move. These gianormous white machines backdropped by this mornings spectacular sun beaming sky... well that's one way to start a day. Wow, this lovely is longer than the blog.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Challange

My ONE goal for now is still $1000 emergency fund.

Currently there's $200 in the savings account. It doesn't look possible when I crunch the numbers but I'm going to TRY and save $500 more this month. I have budgeted low this month because my hours at work have been cut and we've really been struggling making ends meet. However its looking like I might actually get a few 40 hour weeks in this month SO that money should be able to go into the EF (since it's not budgeted elsewhere). Seriously, fingers crossed!

My friend and I are doing a September challenge. Our objective is to bring lunch to work everyday and not buy food while working. We're allowed two exceptions. I'm including coffee in the challenge. I can brew at home and purchase only two coffees otherwise. Sadly I've already bought one. I didn't have any grounds yesterday so I started the day with a McD's coffee (my tea is gone). So that puts me down to one more I'm allowed to buy. It honestly shouldn't be that difficult though. These little challenges are so much easier when you've someone trudging along side with you. Hooray for friends!

Today's Lovely: Helping an older woman at the store. She was super sweet but seemed very confused. She couldn't think of what perfume was called. I showed her where it was and she looked at them all for a long time. Then she asked me for more help to find the one she wanted. She was just so sweet and a appreciative and it felt really great to help her out. Also, my boy's smile when I came home from work was just SOOOOO great!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday Lovelies

Struggling. But here.

Today I set out to enjoy beauty/ lovely moments, 20 of them. 20 free, no money required, perfectly uplifting little bits of life.

1. You ever have one of those, "that could be a piece of art (like a painting)" moments? Just saw an old guy on a rickety moped at a 4 way stop, wearing a University of Michigan shirt with a fairly odd pine box sitting behind him covered in painted UofM logos, bumpers stickers; no one could have missed the blue and maize. Not sure why but the sight brought a large smile to my face.
2. Puppy kisses from my Maggie.
3. Rocking my boy to sleep
4. And gazing upon his perfect, priceless little sleeping face.
5. A cool breeze in the evening air.
6. A much needed hot shower.
7. Grandma Lucy's mac'n'cheese at the house warming gathering this evening.
8. Despite our constant bickering every day spent with my husband is lovely. I love that man.
9. A grasshopper.
10. Seeing the father and son next door playing football in their front yard.
11. The smell of my baby's hair.
12. Watching boys playing together (entertaining but geesh they're aggressive)
13. Tea. (Irish breakfast)
14. ooh, getting the house vacuumed. That was genuinely a lovely bit of today.
15. I could have made all 20 something pertaining to my boy but I must add at least one more: his tiny hands and his enormous smile! For sure a lovely bit of everyday. I'm so amazed by him.
16. Hubby mowed the lawn. It'd be super lovely if I'd stepped outside to smell the fresh cut grass, my favorite aroma in the world, but its great just that he did it. Beautiful!
17. Putting on my pjs... so comfy.
18. Hearing mom in law and hubby laughing hysterically together at the stupidest thing (two peas in a pod with the same exact terrible sense of humor).
19. Peace and quite
20. And right now. I'm going to bed. Oh sweet, sweet sleep.

No pennies required. What lovely bits of life inspired you today?