Saturday, November 30, 2013

See Ya in Eleven Months November

2013 Financial Goals
1. Average $13.50 a day spending currently $14.22
2. 104 NO SPEND days currently 88
3. No more than 45 days off the record currently 46 I think
4. Maintain $1000 emergency fund currently no
5. Stick to a monthly Zero-Based Budget Doing pretty good with this

Itty Bitty Joys and $11 a day Results

I finally finished grooming dog number 2. She looks SOOOO much better than she did with her big fluffy matty coat. She's spunkier now too. That's a second $50 saved. So maybe it took me about three weeks to trim both the dogs, I cut their nails twice, I bathed one of them so far. $100 for the grooming of both of them is a savings WELL worth the bit of extra time I spent chasing them around the house to finish that foot, and then trim behind that ear, and so on. Here's my baby girl all trimmed up. Did I ever mention that we don't have clippers. I used scissors to groom them both.

Yesterday we rushed out of the house to Thanksgiving desserts with my family and honestly forgot to eat dinner. My husband decided that we needed to pick up hot dogs. I said, "no, I am not going to ruin NO SPEND day 88!" Then he offered to purchase his dinner and my hotdog with his lunch money. It was like a mini date. He paid for me!

When we arrived at my brother's house my sister in law handed me this ever so scrumptious bag of peppermint bark and no I have not purchased or had any yet this holiday season. Talk about a wonderful gift! I was planning to purchase some peppermint bark in December after the $11 a day November challenge was over. I'd been resisting the purchase for weeks. But I am now determined to use this bag of goodness to make it at least two more weeks before I purchase any for myself (EVEN if I see a great sale). Thank-you Jessica!!!

Well, you ready for the results of the $11 a day November challenge? Drum roll please... This month I spent an average of $11.43 a day. That is $12.84 over my goal for the month but a $12.84 overage for the whole month leaves me ecstatic. I'm thrilled with my results; exuberant that I came in under $12 a day. It was not easy. As for the 18 NO SPENDs, I made 17 of them. That leave 16 for December which will honestly be a challenge but I'm planning to cram them in during the beginning of the month and hopefully that will help close out the year with my 104 goal.

Hooray for all the little joys! I always find it neat how challenging ones self opens up doors to delight in smaller things, like a hot dog that your husband buys for you, or a bag of holiday candy. This was a good month. I am happy.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Holding Each Other Up With Thoughtfulness

Today's NO SPEND was a fantastic milestone for me. Several months ago I received an envelope in the mail all the way from Sweden. Remember when you were younger and you'd write back and forth by mail to close friends of yours? I hope that memory is a part of your childhood. I met a ridiculously kind Latvian exchange student when I was in the 10th grade. It's funny, I remember thinking, "Latvia must be the kindest country in the world." She never spoke a rude or unkind word. She blushed when stupid girls would gossip about other girls. She was always apologizing for silly things that didn't seem offensive to anyone but her (she still does that). She spent all of 10th grade here in the states and many of my fondest high school memories are from that time (in fact I despised all of high school except for my sophomore year). After she went home we wrote by mail all of the time. I read some of our old letters awhile back and they are quite silly. Seriously EVERYONE needs a pen pal!

Earlier this year I received an envelope from her all the way from Sweden where she now resides; quite the traveler, yes we're all jealous. She'd made me a chart for my NO SPEND challenge and I couldn't be more thrilled at the thought of it, the loveliness of it, and the idea of actually marking my little accomplishments off on paper (why hadn't I thought of this earlier?). Surrounded by photos and quotes cut from magazines there were all 104 of my NO SPENDs waiting to be crossed off. I apologize for the photo because its possibly the worst photo I've ever taken. I just spent the last 4 hours sewing with needle and thread and the idea of setting up the tri-pod and staging a photo so that I could avoid using the flash and get you all a much deserved decent photo of my lovely chart... well I'm just too lazy. I did link her blog behind the photo though : )

Today, upon completing NO SPEND day 88 I've moved from the first side of my lovely gift to the much smaller in number second side of the chart. I've been eagerly awaiting this day for sometime and I am so excited to have made it this far. With only 16 days to go and one month left of the year I might actually be able to do this thing. And to be honest there were many MANY a day when I almost caved but the kindness and friendly gesture of my friend caused me to press on without buying that coffee or bar of chocolate knowing that when I arrived home I could mark another day off of that chart. Thank-you!

Average daily spending for November: $11.70

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 17
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 17
Since we last ate out: 7
And I'm at 17 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sometimes You Can't See The Blessing Until You're Beyond It

I prayed for my child for most of life and that's no joke, I am a praying woman. It wasn't until 6 days after my 32nd birthday that I got to look upon my son's sweet little face and hold his perfect self in my arms for the very first time. I'd been married for almost 10 years. I'd been anxiously awaiting this wonderful child for about 8 years and then all of the sudden there he was, the small boy who'd change my world.

My friends began having children in their 20's. I spent about a decade feeling so incomplete. For so long there was an ache in my heard that words cannot describe. My son has a place in truly every bit of thankfulness I reflect upon this holiday season. But here's the thing, sometimes you can't see the blessing until you're beyond it.

I would never EVER want to go back to life before Abe. He is my heart running around in a little boy's body. But I had 10 years of blessings that only now I can see. I know and fully believe that my Abe came in God's perfect timing. Today something in me is compelling me to stop and give thanks for all the things I never knew I had during those years I spent dreaming of the future.

Today I am thankful for 32 years of me time.
Is that selfish? No. It was mine and I am thankful for it.
I'm thankful for sitting on my couch for hours reading book after book
in silence or with piano music playing in the back ground.
The ONLY me time I have now is in the shower
while my boy stands outside the door screaming,
"momma, momma, momma!"
over and over and over.

Today I am thankful for 10 and 1/2 years of alone time with my hubby.
Most married couples don't get that until the kids have grown.
As much as I'd have loved being a young(er) momma
I can't describe how much of a blessing 10 years with my man was.

Today I'm thankful for the many, many, many concerts I saw.
There's no way I'd have seen them under different circumstances.
Every single one of those shows (every song) is a part of my past, of me.
Regina Spector, The Killers, The Proclaimers, The Strokes, Interpol,
Over the Rhine (about 10 times), New Order, Pedro the Lion, Starflyer 59,
Girl in a Coma, Nada Surf, Travis, Refused, Sigur Ros, Death cab for Cutie,
Okay, okay, I'm only listing bands that are bigger and I won't pretend there's
anyway you want to read them all or that I could list them all.
I've seen well over 200 concerts.

Oh Goodness, I almost forgot the 10 Cornerstone Music Festivals
almost all attended with my little sister. It really is strange
how events in life shape who you are.
I am very thankful for those moments.

Today I'm thankful for all the traveling I've done.
Most especially 4 mission trips to Guatemala.
I am very thankful for my life right now but
I'm happy that I can look back and see how great life has been thus far.

In short no matter where your feet are set upon at present there is always something spectacular about your current place on the path (no matter how difficult it may be to see right now). That unique blessing or blessings may very likely not be on the otherside of the mountain you're about to climb or beyond the river you're just starting to cross. I encourage you to look, to really REALLY look at right now and to be thankful for something you may otherwise have not seen until you had already passed it by.

Carpe Diem and Happy Thanksgiving!

Average daily spending for November: $11.70
(counting the next 2 days as NO SPENDs in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 15
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 15
Since we last ate out: 5
And I'm at 15 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Thanksgiving Eve

I am honestly looking forward to not spending money today. It's the day before Thanksgiving and I have to spend at least 6 hours in two different super centers. The stores are a mad house right now. I don't want to go anywhere near a cash register.

Today I am thankful for NO SPEND day 86!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Debt Quote Tuesday BHAG

I heard a funny acronym for the first time today. BHAG (pronounced like be hag): A big hairy audacious goal. I love the idea of filling 2014 with BHAG's and I also like the acronym. It makes me giggle a little.
The point is not to find the “right” BHAGs but to create BHAGs so clear, compelling, and imaginative that they fuel progress.
-Jim Collins
I'd planned to get groceries tomorrow but I figured that the stores would be a bit less busy today (with Thanksgiving being on Thursday). I wrote a list, buckled down and got to it. I was determined to stay within a $35 range. I spent way longer shopping than I would have liked but I accomplished my mission. First I put the tin foil back and then 2 yogurt cups. After that I decided that I could hold out a little bit longer with the laundry detergent we have at home so I crossed that off my list and set it back on the shelf. This will just take some strategic laundering... making sure the essentials get washed together in two or three loads. I contemplated getting more coffee grounds but nope, those too would have put me over. My total was $30.32.

I think I can safely say that today's little HAG was spending $35 on groceries. Whoohoo, HAG in the bag!!! How can you not giggle at that. I love it.

Average daily spending for November: $11.70
(counting the next 3 days as NO SPENDs in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 14
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 14
Since we last ate out: 4
And I'm at 14 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Monday, November 25, 2013

Just Monday

Today was kind of rough. I guess you could just say it was a Monday. I almost ruined my no spend several times wanting a coffee (what's new right), really wanting to buy some candy or just something sweet, there was a cute penguin for ONLY $2 that I was pretty sure I needed, the list goes on.

I didn't though. Today was NO SPEND day 85! I've only 19 days to go for my 104 days goal this year. This is one goal that I just might, maybe, possibly, might pull off. I'm sooooo close. I'll tell you what though, if it weren't for cookies and yogurt (that's sounds weird. think of the two separately.) I'd be much farther behind. I would have totally without a doubt purchased some sort of a sweet treat today except I kept telling myself, "you can make cookies with Abe when you get home. Don't buy anything!"

Ah, sweet success and cookies!

Average daily spending for November: $11.88

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 13
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 13
Since we last ate out: 3
And I'm at 14 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Sunday, November 24, 2013


We feasted; turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cornbread casserole, and stuffing. My fridge is packed full of leftovers. Dessert is still on the fence. I might make an apple pie before the night is up but we're so stuffed that this is possibly the first time I've ever not wanted a sweet treat to finish the meal.

I honestly cannot believe that my average is under $12 a day for the month and I've pulled off an entire thanksgiving feast. Everything but the stuffing was made from scratch; no boxed potatoes and gravy out of a jar. When in truth is it cheaper to eat the processed foods. This is truly an eye opener as to what sticking to the budget, planning out the groceries and looking for deals, not purchasing coffee, pop, a donut or candy bar here and there, and really putting forth a tremendous amount of determination can accomplish. I'm a bit antsy to see what the average daily spending for November will end up being.

On another note can someone please explain to me how every photo or television appearance of a roasted turkey shows a golden brown bird tightly tucked into that fancy schmancy serving platter and the two I've made looked like a bomb went off in my oven; skin torn exposing white breast meat, drumsticks pointing at odd angles, and various different shades of turkey (never golden brown)? Bah! I apologize if you're a vegetarian... this must be an awful paragraph.

Average daily spending for November: $11.88
(counting the next 2 days as no spends in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 12
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 12
Since we last ate out: 2
And I'm at 13 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Simply Today

It snowed most of the day. It's the most snow we've gotten so far this winter. I really like snow.
My neighbor put up his Christmas lights. Christmas lights are really great. We're too lazy and cheap to put any up outside.
My son and I blew bubbles in the kitchen for like 45 minutes. We had very soapy hands, a very slick floor, and I got soap in my eye. I didn't know that a 1 year old could actually blow bubbles (all on his own too).
NO SPEND number 83 has been marked off my chart.
I made mashed potatoes for tomorrow. I'm cooking up the Thanksgiving meal for my hubby, myself, and my boy tomorrow. I could honestly eat turkey, potatoes, corn, and stuffing for a month (maybe longer).

This is what a good day looks like. No money spent. Fun times had. Food enjoyed (of course I sampled the mashed potatoes for tomorrow, duh). And family time.

Average daily spending for November: $11.88
(counting the next 3 days as no spends in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 11
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 11
Since we last ate out: 1
And I'm at 12 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Plan

I bought groceries first thing this morning before I'd had my coffee. In fact I'd planned to get a cup of Joe from the Starbucks in the grocery store before shopping. It was going to be a little treat for having done so well so far this month. And I actually put my foot down and said, "No, you can wait until you get home! You have perfectly good coffee there AND creamer and it costs about $4 less than your little treat would."

I purchased everything I will need for my little family Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey was $10 off so I spent $13.22 on a fourteen pound bird. I believe I have everything I need to make the two pumpkin cheesecakes for the two family Thanksgiving gatherings we'll be going too. I also have food for eight dinners: quiche, chicken hamburgers or meatloaf, grilled cheese sandwiches, at least 2 or 3 meals of thanksgiving dinner leftovers, eggs and potatoes, and another weird homemade pizza. I could probably get creative for a few more meals too. I honestly think, even though it's going to be a serious challenge, that I can get 17 of my 18 no spend days this month. And I'm pretty sure I'll come in under $12 a day.

The Plan
Saturday NO SPEND 12
Sunday NO SPEND 13
Monday NO SPEND 14
Tuesday NO SPEND 15
Wednesday grocery shopping (minimal)
Thursday NO SPEND 16
Friday NO SPEND 17
I'm planning to shop Saturday so boo, that would be 18

That's the plan. I'm pretty horrible at plans. Wish me luck!

Average daily spending for November: $11.88
(counting the next FOUR days as no spends in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 10
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 10
Since we last ate out: ? It should be 12 but hubby brought home tacos tonight. I am not including it in my budget because it was totally on him and he's not ruining my budget. That is not fair. There was no fight. But no, those darn tacos at his expense are not going to ruin me. I'm taking it out of his lunch money BUT technically we did eat take out?
And I'm at 11 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Thursday, November 21, 2013

One More Week and a Day or Two

I'm not sure how I'm going to go Thanksgiving shopping and stay on budget but it's already the 21st of November and my average daily spending is still under $12 a day. I've even purchased dog food and cat food this month. We've eaten out once (now that is an accomplishment). I bought food while I was working 2 times. I have SEVEN more NO SPEND days to go in order to meet my 18 days challenge. However 11 no spends out of 21 days for me is pretty great.

I can honestly say that this $11 a day challenge has been rather fun. Hmm, I'm not sure that "fun" is the appropriate word. This last week is going to be interesting. I'm really antsy to see how I pull it off. I better get to grocery planning and miracle making. Can you purchase a turkey on $11 a day... we shall see.

Average daily spending for November: $11.53

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 9
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 9
Since we last ate out: 12
And I'm at 11 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Money can't buy you love but it can buy you better looking wrinkles

In life we grow, at least that's the goal. There is a vast difference between growing and aging. Adolescence and college age kids who fear growing up have yet to realize that there is a difference. Scars from a battle that's been won can be worn like a badge to forever remember the struggle and the victory. Old age, wrinkles, grey hair "should" equally be held in high esteem as a symbol of all the many miles of road that have been traveled, the mountains that have been climbed, and the years of growing that have brought you to this place of maturity. But I'm afraid many of us fail to keep growing and then we just get old.

We read and our eyes are opened to worlds and experiences we'll never see face to face. We travel and (ideally) something inside of us increases who we are, how we see life. We love people and sacrifice bits of ourselves for them and our hearts increase inside. I won't pretend that I could possibly list all the situations in which one encounters growth but each time we embark upon something new, or face a struggle head on, or choose to move then we grow.

Money will never increase who you are. Never. But it certainly does help with traveling costs. I'd assume that I'm correct is saying that one of Dave Ramsey's favorite verses from scripture is, "the borrower is slave to the lender," and how very true this is.

Last night I'm laying in bed and I'm picturing my path. Sadly I'm living in a pit right now. The debt we owe to others, to the lender entraps us. I cannot travel (currently). I cannot purchase a fabulous variety of decadent food, which I believe is a fantastic part of the path in life. The experiences that I'm able to offer my son are limited. I can't help others in need (at least I'm very limited in how I could help). It's not that we need riches to thrive but money opens doors; it enlarges the path before us. Right now my path is sort of stopped. Until I get myself out of the hole we're in I can only go up or down.
Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.
-Rosa Luxemburg
This is NOT a woe is me post. I read the above quote earlier this week and I've been thinking on it. Some people are very content with stopping. If you don't move you don't notice the chains. What is debt, what are interest payments if you're okay with just existing? I don't want to stop, stand still, just exist. I want to travel. I want to eat new foods. I want to go through life independently with the feeling of financial freedom. I want to be able to give to others, yes monetarily. I want to grow, and grow, and grow and to earn every single one of my wrinkles and grey hairs. I want to wear old age with pride and with a happy glow.

Money will never increase who you are. But debt will hold you back. My journey right now is one of breaking these chains of debt and I'm excited about my path (once I climb out of this hole).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Maybe it was the yummy coffee WITH creamer this morning, I had no temptations at work today. I literally didn't want to purchase anything. Good day here even if we did eat a strange home made pizza for dinner.

Average daily spending for November: $11.53
(Counting tomorrow as a no spend in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 8
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 8
Since we last ate out: 11
And I'm at 10 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Finding Rewards Along The Way

I decided to change this entire post because I remembered that I bought coffee creamer today.

I ended up buying a small bag of cat food this morning and the most measly amount of groceries you've ever seen when I got out of work. Amongst the few items I picked up was coffee creamer. I went several days without any coffee this month which for me is like going without water. Then when I finally picked up a small tin of grounds for $2.50 (not the tastiest coffee I've ever consumed mind you) I ran out of creamer. Thus I have been putting a small bit of %2 milk in my (not too delicious) coffee for almost a week. A tasty hazelnut creamer (my flavor of choice) does help to mask the cheapness of coffee (in case you were unaware). It tastes okay but I've spent 4 weeks in Guatemala drinking some of the freshest, smoothest, most delightfully nutty (not bitter in the least) coffee you could ever dream of. Cheap grounds with 2% milk... not my idea of a fantastic morning.

Today I bought coffee creamer <happy dance>. You can tell a woman is serious when she compromises her morning cup of coffee for the budget. I'm not even joking I feel like I just purchased liquid gold. Do you have any idea how excited I am to wake up tomorrow... I am excited!!! I say all of this mostly to emphasis that there is some good that comes out of self restraint. The little things in life become much, much sweeter. I never thought I could be so excited about creamer.

I'm SOOO close to my average daily spending goal for the month too. I'll honestly be really really crazy happy if I come in anywhere under $12 a day this month. Eleven something would be fabulous. One day at a time...

Sidenote: a dear friend of mine (one of the nicest people you could ever meet) posts beautiful photos on her blog, as well as neat recipes. I love her post from today. It's sort of about a viking hunter in Sweden. For a bit of lovely please do stop on by : )

Average daily spending for November: $11.53
(Counting the next two days as no spends in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 7
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 7
Since we last ate out: 10
And I'm at 9 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Debt Quote Tuesday

Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.
-Rosa Luxemburg

Monday, November 18, 2013

Boo, Wah, Baaah

Attempting $11 a day has me feeling so deprived. I went several days without any coffee. I feel like we're eating scraps for dinner lately. I've been avoiding all the Christmas candy in the stores like the plague. I am truly in love with peppermint bark. I'm noticing all these little things that we need around the house and I'm getting whiny about not having the money in the budget to get them: a furnace filter, the cat food is almost gone, trash bags, underwear. Oh, woe is me right...

Have you ever thought about all the STUFF we buy on a regular basis? Next year I'm going to track my spending but I'm done itemizing. It takes too much work. I think I'll track household items, groceries, and a few other categories of spending separately though. I'm really very intrigued by how much of our money is spent on upkeep type stuff. Cleaning supplies, furnace filters, garbage bags; all these things we pay for to take care of other things we've paid for. I guess the intrigue comes from having seen how other cultures need almost nothing to get by. My living room is almost two times bigger than alot of the homes I saw in the mountains of Guatemala. And truly the "things" in my living room... oh goodness. I don't even want to get started. I'm looking around my living room right now and there is SOOO much luxury in here. We have too much stuff. Funny to, because we are on the lower end of the middle class scale in the US.

So back to my train of thought, it's almost a vicious cycle. The more you have the more you end up spending because of all that you have (time spent on up keep as well). Slowly realizing these things really does make me want to live a more frugal more simple life. I truly believe you can only accomplish said task if your mindset is right. You can't just try to be simple, try to be frugal. Your heart has to be in it.

I feel like I'm rambling but what I really wanted to say is that attempting $11 a day has me feeling so deprived. Thankfully I know that I am not. I know that we've eaten more food already today then some people will see in a week (we're piggies). I know that my messy home is filled with stuff that we are so lucky to have (even if I do need to change the furnace filter). I know that I am blessed and quite the opposite of deprived. I'm growing.

Average daily spending for November: $11.79
(Yep, I'm back under $12 a day. Yippee!)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 6
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 6
Since we last ate out: 9
And I'm at 9 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Sunday, November 17, 2013


There's only one apple in that pie. That makes it a single serving right...

Might just be the 2 best looking things I've ever made.

Okay maybe I'll share some with him.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Let the Christmas Gifting Begin

I started Christmas crafting today. I have 7 (very soon 8) nieces and nephews. Christmas is always a struggle for me because I love giving gifts. I like to figure out what gift would make the receiver beam from ear to ear. I hate budgeting for gifts, just "finding" something to gift, or drawing names. I think my strongest love language is giving gifts. When it comes to Christmas this little fact is a hindrance though. I wish, wish, WISH I could spend $100 on everyone on my Christmas list... that'd be $1700 and I'm counting my married siblings as one person. Those 17 people are just family; no friends. Oh gee, I forgot my dad and two youngest siblings. Well that makes 20 people.

The other day I saw a Christmas money tree pin and the Christmas crafting has now begun. I'm posting a photo because I'm proud of myself for starting but it's not done yet. I'm using stuff I have around the house for every part of the tree and I'll put $12 in cash on the tree (alternating branches so that I can put ornaments on the tree as well). Then I'll put $3 in change in the jar. I'm planning to make trees for my two oldest nieces.
One of my nieces really like pandas so I'll make a few of those ornaments.

In total the two trees should cost me $20 ($10 each in cash). The change I'll collect from the trail of lunch money coins my husband leaves laying around the house. I have several $2 bills I've saved and I'm going to put one on each tree. I hope that $15 in cash (and change) plus the little Christmas tree will be a neat gift for a 6 and 7 year old. I shouldn't even say it but Christmas on a little budget is not really fun. Darn it, no! This year it will be fun.

Average daily spending for November: $12.49

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 4
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 4
Since we last ate out: 7
And I'm at 7 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Friday, November 15, 2013

Halfway Through November

The one year old and I are rolling, crawling, running around the living room laughing hysterically (there's a good amount of tickling involved too) so I'm just posting numbers today. We're taking a quick catch your breath break right now. 

Average daily spending for November: $12.49

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 3
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 3
Since we last ate out: 6
And I'm at 6 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

I spent $9 too much today or my average would have been under $12... bummer.
Back to the shenanigans!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Is it Friday Yet

Today is payday which means I'd normally go grocery shopping. In a effort to get the daily average down a bit I'm declaring today NO SPEND number 77 and we'll eat grilled cheese sandwiches and steamed broccoli for dinner. I have a really short late day of work. This means I shouldn't be too tempted to grab a coffee or a snack. I think I can pull this one off. Here are my numbers IF today goes as planned.

 Average daily spending for November: $12.36

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 2
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 2
Since we last ate out: 5
And I'm at 6 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

If I can purchase enough groceries tomorrow with $30 for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday then I can get my average back under $12 a day for the month. That could be do-able. This week seems like it's been taking forever.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Windy Wednesday

Listening to strong wind swipe all the remaining fall leaves from the trees outside on this dark cold night.

I think I need to snuggle up under the covers and go to sleep.

Good night.

Average daily spending for November: $13.31

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 1
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 1
Since we last ate out: 4
And I'm at 5 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

A Little Pre-Work Blogging

Today I'm going to purchase juice for my son's smoothies, baking soda, and chocolate chips. That's it! No coffee, no toys, nothing more! And go...

(it helps to put it in print)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

11 12 13

Apparently a week really is my self control limit. Yesterday and today while I was working I wanted to buy EVERYTHING! I'm not even kidding. It seems that something about all the Christmas decorations and early holiday sales changes ones mentality and suddenly all these things that were just dreaming, "someday" type things have become "I need it now!" type things. I saw about 20 different toys today that I was certain my son needed for Christmas. At least 12 of them I picked up and looked at. Okay, maybe not 12. I also was determined that I needed to purchase some storage totes, cat treats, a few different articles of clothing that were really cute (but I'm pretty sure would have looked horrendous on me), socks for my husbands Christmas stocking, a bean bag, a dog bed.... I DON'T NEED A DOG BED! Ay, ay, ay! This holiday season is going to be long isn't it? Don't get me wrong, I'm really looking forward to Christmas even if I weren't to spend a penny. But really there shouldn't be so much temptation and resisting mixed up with Merry Christmas.

So what did I buy? Coffee. Yep. Why do there have to be 700 McDonalds on my way to work and a Starbucks in every store I work at? WHY!?!?! Okay, tomorrow is a new day. I feel a little defeated though. I bought way more groceries yesterday than I'd planned to and today I wasted money on coffee. Two bad days in a row feels yucky. It's pretty sad when buying apples and broccoli and bananas and butter feels like splurging. None the less I've been way over my budget at this point in the month and still made it back on track at the end before.

WOAH, November is almost half over!
It's silly but I wanted to mention that today is really cool in a little way. In the States we do our date differently than everywhere else I think. Ours always goes: Month, Day, Year. So today is 11-12-13. I'm not entirely sure why this seems so neat to me but really I think it's AWESOME!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Today's Money Saving Adventure

Well my dogs might not be making it onto the Christmas card this year but their winter "grooming" is underway.

I am NOT a fan of cutting my dogs hair and nails. Every time we cut their nails my boy bleeds. He apparently has very long quicks. As for their hair, I had a shih tzu when I was younger and I was always tasked with cutting her long matted hair. Apparently my mom had never heard of a dog groomer. I always and I'm talking every single time cut her poor puppy skin and made her bleed. I'm traumatized. We take our dogs to the groomers about twice a year but they charge about $100 for the both of them. Ouch.

A few days ago I buckled down and cut their toenails. I'm happy to report that for the first time ever I did not hit a quick. Today I took the scissors to our eldest dog. I'll tackle the younger one another day. Bozzy (our boy) is so happy to have been groomed. I don't think he knows that he looks like a street mutt now. I still think he's cute. My husband just laughed.

That's $50 saved!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Planning, Pondering, and Car Loans?

I've spent all of nap time budgeting out next year. I've come up with a very conservative zero based budget for the year. That just means we start the year off with zero dollars in the bank account and end with zero. I've done what you're supposed to and spent every penny on paper (actually in the computer) before it's gotten here. That's planning.

I have to admit my budget is a bit depressing. I've accounted for very light day to day spending for myself and my husband. That part is scary because he still does not spend conservatively even if he's getting a bit better. I based our income on what we "should" take in next year without raises but also without me losing a lot of hours. Our gasoline expense could sky rocket if gas prices shoot up to $4 a gallon again next year. I based all the credit card payments on minimums. I made sure we got $1000 in the emergency fund pretty early on in the year. But when all is said and done the only extra we had for debt payoff was about $1500. That's awful!

Granted we'll be paying off debt with the regularly scheduled payments that have been plugged into my budget but $1500 extra for the whole year... that's harsh. We could spend $1500 "extra" easily on this and that here and there. We'll already be paying $1040 extra on health insurance premiums what if car insurance goes up too?

I'm not going to take this eye opening moment as a huge punch in the gut. I'm just thinking, pondering, looking the harsh cold reality in the face and realizing that an extra penny here and an extra penny there really, REALLY adds up.

Okay, it's question time. No one ever talks about paying off the car; selling it yes but paying it off, not so much. We drive alot and we can't sell our car. We have a nice car, not expensive but nice. Anything less nice would not be reliable. But I can't bank on the thing making it to the end of the life of our loan. We put too many miles on it. Who thinks I should work on paying off the car (in case of it ever clonking) instead of paying off credit cards? What do you do with a car loan, let's say there's $3000 left on the loan and your car dies; what do you do? There's no way we'll ever just have $3000 laying around to give the bank. Do you just have to pay two car loans then; the one on your old car and the one on the new car you had to buy? I bet you can't even get a new loan if you already have one. Okay, any extra income: car or credit cards?

Double Whammy

I did not buy the cream cheese yesterday AND I spent money.

I had a strong feeling that my husband would ask to go out to dinner this weekend and when he did I could not say no. He came home from work in a relatively good mood and he wanted to go to a relatively cheap diner that would be fun for Abe. We went to a little locally owned chili dog place in town but before we left I reminded him of the plan, "ONE dinner out and ONE pizza this month." He said, "yep. I know. This is the dinner out."

We were the only ones in the restaurant so there was no worrying about our little guy being crazy or suddenly screeching. It's always so lovely to go to dinner a bit before the regular hour and have the diner to yourself. Abe sat in the booth with mom mom and dahdah (that's what he calls us) and was a very big boy (and there wasn't any screeching). He loved his food (and the ketchup). He drank the tiniest cup of chocolate milk I've ever seen. You'd have thought it was Christmas morning. That chocolate milk was such a treat! The three of us had a very good time for a grand total of $16.79.

My average is up now and I'm planning a close call NO SPEND tomorrow but I'm happy that I didn't hit $12.

Average daily spending for November: $11.44
(counting tomorrow as a no spend in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 9
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 9
Since we last ate out: 1
And I'm at 5 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dog Poo and Cream Cheese

I spent almost 2 hours this morning brainstorming a fun activity for my son and I to do today. Then I decided we should just go out back and pick up dog poo. He actually had alot of fun.

No Spend Day Dilemma: The cream cheese is on sale this week and I need it to make cheesecake later this month. Do I blow the no spend day and add $5 to my spending this week or just wait for it to maybe go on sale later?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Today was the first this month that I really just wanted to waste money. I really wanted to buy some sort of large warm sandwich while I was working. Gee, that doesn't sound so good now. I wanted to get something from Starbucks. I can't remember the last time I had a Starbucks drink. I wanted to buy some peanut butter M&M's (they were on sale). I guess one week is my limit. But it's the weekend now and I did NOT buy anything today. My average for the month is still under $11 and did I mention it's the weekend now!? I LOVE weekends!

Average daily spending for November: $10.91
(counting next two days as no spend days in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 7
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 7
Since we last ate out: 17
And I'm at 5 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Spending Rundown

I still record my spending on the purchases page but I stopped itemizing awhile ago because it was taking to much time. Several of the days I lost track of this year were simply because I didn't have the time to write out everything I bought and I lost receipts.

Since I've successfully made it through one week spending $11 a day I thought I'd post what a week of dinners on $11 a day looked like for us.

Tuna noodle dish with peas and carrots
Mini chicken meatloaves with rice and peas
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Sloppy Joes (I use the Pioneer Woman's recipe)
Veggie lasagna; onion, mushroom, tomato, spinach, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and cottage cheese filling.
Shrimp stir fry with rice and veggies; broccoli, red and yellow peppers, and onion cooked in a little veggie oil with garlic, basil, salt, and pepper.
Leftover Lasagna

We've eaten mostly cereal or eggs for breakfast. Lunches have been mostly leftover dinners. I've made a few batches of cookies and there's been quite a good amount of fruit and veggies in the house all the while. I haven't needed to purchase toilet paper. I picked up shampoo last Friday and some Draino on Monday. I can't think of anything else. Oh, the dog food yesterday. I think that's the rundown.

Cutting out little extras: pop, ice cream, lunches while working (even though I tend to keep these on the frugal side), coffee, has really helped to bring spending down. My average so far this year has been around $15 a day. I'm stoked that I made it through October on Twelve. A week of $11 in November amazes me. Like I said before: Target Practice! Sometimes you hit the mark. Other times you're way off. But the more you try the better you get.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Comida Para Los Perros

Guess who just bought dog food and still stayed on budget?

Oh, yeah! Oh, yeah! It was me! It was me!

There is a disclaimer though. I can't spend any money for the next three days or I'll go over. Honestly this is really difficult. I can not tell you home many things I wanted to purchase today (just regular everyday groceries) but did not because I was determined to stay on track. We have enough food for the next three days. We have all the necessary household supplies. And in other good news my husband has so far agreed that we'll go out to eat once and get a take out pizza once this month. Hopefully he's not planning on either of these two options before Monday.

We're only one week into the month but right now I am feeling like a champion.

Oh, and I started Christmas shopping too. I spent a whole $1.12 on something for one of the nephews. Score!

Average daily spending for November: $10.91
(counting next three days as no spend days in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 6
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 6
Since we last ate out: 16
And I'm at 4 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Debt and Health Insurace

I took another gander at the US debt clock today. Last time I stopped there I just looked at the US National debt. It's at 17 trillion dollars right now. This time I stopped a bit longer to look at some other numbers. Oh... my... woah!

Debt per tax payer: $149,000. That's the National debt divided by tax payers. In other words my husband and I collectively owe about $300,000 if everyone were to pitch in their fare share and pay off the US debt. As horrid as this number may be somehow it's making me feel better about my own situation. Right now hubby and I owe a grand total of $129,000 of debt on everything; house, car, credit cards, medical care; everything! Our total combined personal debt is $20,000 less than the National debt we'd EACH owe if it were to be divided by total number of tax payers.

So am I in debt $129,000 or because I am a US citizen am I actually in debt $427,000? Yikes! I think it's safe to say that no matter how horrible I've been with money over the years, congress is worse with it than I am.

In other US news we had to sign up for a new health insurance policy today. Ours was dropped due to the affordable care act. If you've been listening to all of the debate in the news it doesn't matter what anyone is saying. The letter we got in the mail specifically said, " your policy is being canceled due to the ACA..." We'll be paying $20 a week more; $1040 a year. That's not a ton of money right? It is to me. It's an entire credit card. It's a really nice trip somewhere. It's a whole lot of awesome toys and clothes and anything my son could ask for. So we'll basically be paying $1000 more for what we already had. That's cool. Is there any way I can just stop all the "little" expense increases? Please? They're making me nauseous.

In the grand scheme of things, none of it matters. I had a great day with my son. We have our health. The beauty of Autumn is in full swing and the Holidays are upon us. In the grand scheme of things $1000 won't be missed (right?) BUT concerning every day life, purchasing groceries, and paying for gasoline... yeah. I'm just frustrated.

Armed With Cookies and Tea

Almost out of coffee grounds here!!! I could purchase more but I think I will challenge myself to drink tea for the next two weeks or until I run out of my current supply. Along those lines, I'm trying to not purchase any sweet treats this month. Sugary goodness is definitely a " little luxury" that can be done without. This morning I whipped up a batch of sugar cookies to get me through a few days of not buying treats. Actually Abe helped me make the cookies for the first time. He pretended to use the beaters, he helped stir, and he helped dump in the flour. He's not even 2 and already baking. It was pretty special considering it's a family recipe I've been making since I was just a wee one.

I'm not a big fan of going into work in the evenings when my Husband gets home but I do like not having my mother in law here more than one or two days a week. She's retired and really doesn't need to be spending tons of her free time at my house. So a few late days are worth it. Today was one of those days. But today the thing I'm most thankful for is a fun morning with my boy. We ran around the house getting all sweaty and giggling for such a long time. I actually exhausted the little guy so that he went down for a very early nap but we had SO MUCH FUN!

Average daily spending for November: $10.78

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 5
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 5
Since we last ate out: 15
And I'm at 4 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

I bet I've had a post with this exact title before... what can I say, I like cookies and tea.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Debt Quote Tuesday

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.
-Frederick Douglass
To anyone who may be embarking upon a similar arduous journey: Struggle on my friends. The victories are worth the challenges.

Average daily spending for November: $10.78

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 4
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 4
Since we last ate out: 14
And I'm at 3 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Monday, November 4, 2013

So Far...

Planning really is better (even if I hate the effort). I saved $20.48 on my groceries today and only used 1 coupon. I basically only bought stuff on sale. We now have enough food in the house for at least 6 dinners, and I bought toothpaste, draino, baby wipes and quite a lot of veggies.

Today I'm thankful for our furry kids. We've 2 miniature Schnauzers and one very mutty Siamese kitty. We're a very blessed family.

These are two of my kids
Average daily spending for November: $10.78
(Counting tomorrow and Wednesday as no spend days in the above average)

Number of days in a row
Not buying food at work: 3
Not making large unnecessary purchases or luxury purchases: 3
Since we last ate out: 13
And I'm at 2 out of 18 NO SPEND days so far this month

Sunday, November 3, 2013

One Day at a Time

I spent much of today planning, looking at ads, and jotting down things we'll be needing this week. I plan to shop tomorrow trying to stick to the $11 a day budget. Then I'm hoping for a NO SPEND on Tuesday and on Wednesday. Thursday we get a paycheck. That will start a new financial week for us and I will shop again on Thursday. Truly fascinating stuff, eh?

Here's what I'm wondering though, do I try and sneak in future needs, such as the potty seat, stuff for Thanksgiving, stamps, a little at a time or should I stock pile food for meals and household items and then start getting the "future" needs later? I know, what kind of stock piling can be done on $11? Well, taking it one day at a time I guess.

Today was NO SPEND numero 2 for the month.
Average daily spending for November: $5.80
Today I'm thankful for a cozy warm home and my family of course. I'm most thankful for my family so I could list that everyday: A cozy warm home and my family! Ahh

Target Practice

I woke up this morning and I began to panic a little about my $11 a day challenge this month. "Oh, why did I make that post? I'm going to fail miserably. I'm sure of it." All these negative thoughts began swirling through my mind. "I can't do it. I can hardly stay under $15 a day. $11 a day is ridiculous!" Then I begin thinking, "I'm going to have to start buying Christmas presents this month. Thanksgiving is this month. I need to get a jump on Christmas cards this month. I haven't bought a potty seat for my child yet. Am I a complete moron?"

I've calmed down. The biggest thing I've learned from writing this blog is that my goals are generally something to aim at. I'm not going to freak out if I don't hit the target (do I want to hit the target? Yes!). At least I will have tried. If I end up spending $12 a day that's a heck of a lot better than $15 or $16 or $18. If I make my $11 a day goal, Hooray!!! At least I am challenging myself. I need to get this year cleaned up financially. This challenge is important (especially with Christmas coming).

So the biggest part of this goal will be devising a plan and sticking to it. If I want to buy a potty seat I'll need to work it into the budget. I should pick up some stamps here and there and plan out my Christmas cards in small steps (I can't cut out Christmas cards either. It's one of my favorite parts of the holiday). Plan. Plan. Plan and execute!

Today should be NO SPEND 73. That's 2 out of the 18 done already. I can do this. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Go!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

$11 a Day November

My November project will be attempting an $11 a day average for spending. 

My strategy for this plan
Bring lunch to work EVERYDAY 
Not make any large unnecessary purchases or little luxury purchases (like pop)
Speak to hubby about us not eating out this month
Look a little harder for good deals at the store
Write the weekly budget out on paper and STICK TO IT
Plan meals with items that are on sale for the week
Try to maintain the average as the month goes by so I don't have to catch up at the end
Squeak out 18 NO SPENDs
Remember to give thanks daily for what we already have

Average daily spending for November so far: $8.70

Friday, November 1, 2013

Vacuum Bag Plus Boxcutter Plus Duct Tape

Earlier this week I embarked on a mini career as a hair stylist. Today I attempted surgery. I just removed a large animal from my vacuum bag. Miniature Schnauzers aren't really supposed to shed. They're basically hypo allergenic. We really never find their hair around our house but what in the world was that compact giant ball of gross that I just removed from the vacuum bag? Eeew!

A few years back when we got new carpet (Very neat story: The dog attacked a purple pen. The homeowners insurance replaced our carpet.) my mother in law gave us her used vacuum and she upgraded to a nicer one. The vacuum she gave us is really very nice but it does require bags. And as expensive car repairs go with expensive cars, apparently expensive vacuum bags go with expensive vacuums. I really cannot splurge on bags that I collect our carpet crud in right now.

I wouldn't recommend this little surgery to anyone as the bag is likely to burst but I have successfully vacuumed the entire house and the duct tape is still strongly intact. In fact it seems I've gotten a much deeper clean than has been accomplished in a long time as there's been a large animal living inside the vacuum for far too long.

I feel successful. Now off to work. And then the weekend!

Tomorrow (with daylight savings time) is the longest day of the year and it's a Saturday. How lovely!