Sunday, March 30, 2008

Birthday parties

Birthday parties comes with the territory of having children. That being said, I'm discovering that what was once a simple occasion to spend/plan is now becoming a competition of who does what and whose is better, as well as who to invite. Someone I know is planning a birthday party for their eldest, who is just a couple of weeks younger than my eldest. The party is at an attraction, and due to the cost, the parent is only inviting the child's immediate friends, and not including the younger/older siblings of everyone. It just irritates me somewhat since all the older/younger siblings play with this child too-but based on age, they're excluded. Yes I understand cost is a factor, but heck when you say just a child and parent to come, for me at least, its a difficult thing to arrange. In all honesty, I should be able to rely on my hubby to take the time off, but with his career, a young infant and a tempermental toddler, nothing is ever set in stone. All I could say is that I understood where the parent was coming from, and left it at that. It just rubs me the wrong way, since I'm one of those people that will take all my kdis somewhere despite my hubby not being able to come. Now I know that my child will have to miss out on something if/and when I can't arrange for childcare for his siblings. While someone may say, well just pay for a sitter, that's fine, but for my 2 kids its $10 an hour, and it adds up quickly when you factor its not just the actual b-day party time I'm paying for, but paying to get there early and stay late so we're not late and get home once the party is over. I figure I'd be spending $30-1/2 hour before, the party is 2 hours, and 1/2 hour to get home. Makes me wonder if its really worth it.

This just makes me think about what I'm not doing for my own child, and if I were, how it would be different. As much as I'd want a big party, I really don't think M would mind haivng it at a park, having hotdogs/hamburgers and cake, and just having fun on the playground. At that expense, I could, and really would rather, include everyone we know, vs just one parent and child. I wouldn't mind having it here either, the kids that would get to play, and I'd be more relaxed. Yet I wonder if M would think he's missing out. Heck he doesn't even know when his birthday is, yet he knows he's turning 4 sometime this year.

To complicate it further, the two youngest kids have their birthdays 5 days apart, and both are milestones #3 and #1. What will come of their birthdays-most of the kids they know are the older and younger siblings of M's friends. All I can say is the mother's guilt has started :(

Friday, March 28, 2008

Simplifying lunchtime

taken from

"I don't know about you, but I get kind of tired of PB&J, mac & cheese, and yogurt for lunch. Sometimes we have leftovers, but I tend to send those with Keith for his lunch. A few months ago I realized that I was always dreading lunchtime because, while my kids are easy to please, I'm not!
So I've taken to eating a lot of salads at lunch. I could have done this before, but I never had any chicken on hand to top the salad. And a salad just isn't a MEAL unless it has some chicken on top. Now I've started buying pounds and pounds of chicken breast when it goes on sale. When I get it home, I immediately cut it up (using my kitchen scissors!) and cook it all at once. Then I fill quart-sized freezer bags with the bite-sized chicken.
Now I just keep one bag of chicken breast in my fridge at a time. Each bag has about enough chicken for a week's worth of salads, and this way I can throw together a salad (bagged lettuce, chicken, shredded cheese and dressing) in just a couple of minutes. Which is really all the time I have when there are hungry toddlers underfoot.
I also find myself using the pre-cut-and-cooked chicken for supper meals that require bite-sized chicken pieces. It has really simplified my meal prep - and it works for me!"

I'm going to have to try this-I definitely agree, I'm always starving and need to eat healthier. Maybe this is they key.

why so blah-its almost the weekend

i was so on the go yesterday that today i'm just tired. again. i don't want to cook, don't want to clean. just want to escape from it all. hopefully i can stick to not indulging while i try to escape. at least i know i have to go to the post office today to find out about shipping my ebay sales. that and cleaning out another closet may improve my mood.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

midweek review

The hardest part of staying at home has got to be making dinner every night. While my kids drive me crazy sometimes, its so hard to provide a nutritious meal that won't make us overweight and/or break the bank. Eating at home is healthier, but for me, seems to take up more time that I just don't have-or more clearly, rather not spend. For some reason, I rather bake sweets and cookies than make dinner, but that's besides the point. Despite this obvious whining, I have been able to keep on track. We have eaten at home all week, last night being the exception of feeding the boys at Costco when we stopped for gas on the way home from our day trip. We didn't spend a lot on food-the boys and I ate at Grandmas, and Hubby was treated for lunch by his friend. I did get McDonalds on the way home, but was absolutely starving. I paid cash, so it was money that was already "used". Tonight is the parenting workshop-dinner is provided for all of us. The main meal I now have to think about is tomorrow night, I may make a batch of chili or another crockpot meal-the weather is a bit cooler, and I want to take advantage of that to make some good comfort food while I still can.

Monday, March 24, 2008

monday checklist

i'm going to incoperate some of flylady's financial activities into our daily lives. the first baby step i'm going to take is check all our account balances, and start fresh w/ writing down each purchase as i make it. the key is to start today, not a week from now on the first of the month. for me, always waiting for the "perfect" time to start is a sign of perfectionism. i can no longer just put things aside though; with three young children, there is never a "perfect" time for anything.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

weekend progress

we meant to go to the movies and costco yesterday, but as it turned out we only got to costco. we spent under budget, and looking at my grocery game lists for the week, i won't hit any of my shops. hopefully that will make up for my overspending in the beginning of the month. i can rest, knowing that i can submit my monthy rebate checks, and that it will get sent in early.

my ebay items continue to sell. some items that i thought wouldn't sell, actually did. those i though that would, haven't. either way, i cleared out some space, freed myself of clutter. that's what counts in the end. it'll be nice putting these packages in the mail this week.

today should be a quiet day. we had dinner (saucy chicken in the crock pot) . i loved not having to worry about what we were going to have for dinner, especially when it nears the dinner hour and chaos seems to reign supreme. next time i will double the recipe so i can freeze some good food for another crazy night. i'm debating now whether we will go out for easter lunch/dinner at a local buffett. on one hand i took out ground beef to defrost that will become mini meatloaves and meatballs. on the other hand, that meat is frozon solid, and i could definitely make it for tomorrow's dinner. i'd love to take us out for a treat, but who knows if we'll do it. we plan on going to the movies today (w/ the movie tickets from the grocery store), so we can afford to go out for dinner if we choose. hmmmm, what will we decide? to be continued....

today was a complete success-despite the boys running me ragged, we met our financial goals! we hit the movies, used the passes, and the boys got in free. we planned ahead and brought plenty of snacks, popcorn, and drinks. when we left the movie, we were so full, we decided to come home instead of eating out. the boys helped me plant the veggies/fruit/herbs, and i also found some seed packets that i thought i'd try. my sister in law told me the only way i'll know if it works is if i try it, so that was my motivation. it was kind of funny to hear hubby comment on how i must not have had a garden growing up-it was obvious that i had no clue on spacing, what to plant where, and how to properly transfer plants. oh well, whatever happens, happens.

as for dinner, i cooked a frozen ham entree and roasted potatoes. i also made a cherry cobbler. while it wasn't the top-rated meal i had desired, it was better than spending $25 on the buffett and dealing w/ cranky kids. plus, the bottle of wine i opened was a nice treat for myself.

i hope today is a good jumpstart for the week ahead. i need a good push to keep me going. we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

happy weekend

so far, i'm on track. didn't make a crock pot dinner last night, but didn't go out either. instead, made a pantry dinner. tonight will be better, since i'm already getting stuff out for dinner.
yesterday i spent $43 at target on vegetables, fruit, herbs, and pots. i'm hoping that the veggies and fruit far outweigh the initial investment. i'm not known for having a green thumb, but since my fig tree survived last winter and is now bearing green leaves, maybe my thumb is also turning green too. i plan on having the boys paint the pots, it should be a fun (and somewhat messy) activity, but heck, at least it'll occupy some time and keep them busy.
its looking to be a nice spring day, hopefully we'll spend a nice chunk of it outside :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

goals for today and this weekend

1. Make a crockpot dinner for tonight, since i've found i'm totally wiped out by Friday and that's more incentive to eat out.
2. Make a game plan for this weekend so we don't eat out unless we've exhausted all our food resources that will spoil if we don't use them (ie. salad, veggies, dairy)
3. do something nice for myself-cutting corners is a challenge sometimes, bu rewards are nice too.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

hits and misses

a big miss this week: the car repair for hubby's car_$1,000 to replace the fuel pump
a big hit: i missed the mno because we didn't have an extra car for hubby to go to a parent focus group w/ the boys, so i chose to go w/ them instead of me going to mno and the rest of the familky staying at home. saved at least $25 on not eating out/drinks. on the way home from the focus group, baby was crying we pulled over so i could nurse (in the parking lot of a mcdonalds). the three year old wanted to eat, i told hubby we could make it home (the boys ate before we left the house, and given that it was already 8:30, i figured meltdowns were close). we made it home, all kids went down for bed w/o a fight, and a splurge was spared.
another big hit: we had a dr. appt this morning for the two year old. may need ear tubes, so while that may lead to an expense, nothing is freaking me out more than just the need to take care of protecting his hearing. we bypassed starbucks on the way there, and had snacks on the way back home (instead of hanging in town waiting for the car to be fixed, and spending $$ in the process).
its all baby steps but it makes a difference!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Food For Thought:11 Kitchen Money Saving Tips

Food For Thought:11 Kitchen Money Saving Tips by Leanne Ely (from

Getting yourself out of financial hot water requires that the spendingbe curbed. One of the best places to really get your budget in line iswith food. With the exception of the mortgage, it's probably yourbiggest expense. And unlike your mortgage, you have control over thefood money going out every month. Having a good financial mindset (tobe money-conscience; not a tightwad) gives you the freedom to put yourmoney toward your debt and obtain freedom from financial bondage. Here are 11 Kitchen Money Saving Tips that will help you with tha tgoal. These are all tried and true money slashing ideas used by mepersonally and I promise, these tips were instrumental in helping meget to the place of being debt-free.

1. Be a Bounty Hunter. If your grocery store has a sale on ground beef(for example) and it's a great big package, buy it any way, and cut itup into sizes you'll use. Use the freezer quality zipper top, plasticbags. You're going to go to all this trouble; you might as well havesomething quality to eat when it's time to thaw!

2. Bigger isn't Better. Not necessarily anyway. Don't automaticallyreach for the biggest package at the grocery store thinking you'regetting the better deal. Compare prices and watch for the price perounce or unit, on the price tag.

3. Make Mine a Markdown. Check the back of the store for a markdownshelf. Not all stores have these, but some do. My market deepdiscounts dented cereal boxes and I save a small fortune that way.Watch the dented cans though--I'd pay retail just to avoid any problems.

4. Count your losses. Loss leaders (the cheap stuff they advertise onthe front of the flyers they send out every week) are designed to getyou into the door, but watch for the end cap displays in the store.They may not the loss leaders! Just regular merchandise. Don't beduped into buying it.

5. Grocery store smarts. Give yourself this quick test before leavingthe house. Do I have my list? Is this a bad time to shop? (avoid rushhour and prime time at the grocery store) Can someone watch the kids?(no explanation necessary) Am I hungry? (you know what happens whenyou're hungry and you're shopping for food!). If you've passed thetest, go to the bathroom, tuck your list into your pocketbook and GO!

5. Spice it up. I use a LOT of spices when I cook--if you ever usedany of my recipes you know that. But I DON'T buy them at the regulargrocery store or I'd go broke. Instead, I get them at a discountstore, like Wal-Mart for $1.00 each.

6. Take Stock. You'll read about stocking your Perpetual Pantry later,but you must watch it when you're in that "stocking up" mood. Will youreally use it or will it go bad? I bought spaghetti on sale once atBig Lots for 10 cents a package and by about the 20th package, therewere little bugs in them! eeeewww! Stock up, but don't hoard.

7. Go Bananas. If your bananas get a little too ripe, freeze them withthe skins on. Later, peel them with a knife and throw them in ablender with a little milk, some other fruit and some protein powderand you have a quick, power breakfast. Or just let the kids eat themas is for a delicious snack -- especially in the summer.

8. Menus aren't just for restaurants. You MUST plan your meals. Noplan spells disaster--you know that. If you need some help, go to mywebsite for a week's worth of dinner recipes complete with a grocerylist http://www.SavingDi

9. Rubber Chicken. This is the mother of all dollar-stretchingrecipes. You take one measly, little chicken and turn it into threegreat meals (get it? rubber chicken?). It's on FlyLady's site,http://www.flylady. net Click on Food for Thought and you'll find allkinds of good recipes. There are other recipes that stretch like that,too. I will share some others later.

10. My Freezer, My Friend. In this day and age, the freezer is anextension of the pantry. Use it wisely! Get rid of the freezer burnedgarbage and feed it regularly with stuff you'll use. For example, doesyour family love your world famous meatloaf but you don't make itoften because it's time-intensive to make? Make TWO or even three nexttime, cook them off and freeze them (again--freezer worthy bags only).And here's another nifty tip, use a Sharpie pen (the only pen thatwill hold up in the freezer without running) to mark the date andcontents (you must do this--you WILL forget) on the freezer bag. Toavoid losing your Sharpie, keep it tucked into the freezer bag box anddon't tell a soul it's there or you will lose it for life.

11. Drop the Drive-Thru Mentality. Yeah, it is easier just to grabsomething to go and you might not want to cook. But it's costing youyour family's financial freedom, not to mention health. It's thelittle things that add up and rob you blind. And don't fall for the.99 menu either--it's all fat, cholesterol and those 99 pennies couldbe going toward a bill that needs paying off. You deserve better thanthat.

To FLY means you have to let go. This is the stuff that holds us down,that keeps us from being airborne. I used to be in huge debt, had nextto nothing income-wise and an IRS problem that almost made me wish Ihad the mafia after me instead! But getting my house in order (thiswas CRITICAL) gave me room to chip away at the financial problems, onebaby step at a time, using the brain God gave me. Today, I am debt-free. So go for it! You can do this!!


i have two choices, either give up after i've blown it, or keep moving forward. lately it seems that i've been maing a few careless msitakes, eating out once w/ elijah when i could have just made it home, not purchased an item when i really didn't need it, or just not paying things on time.
while i'm totally accountable for those failures, i also need to acknowledge that i keep moving forward. clearing my house of surplus items, finding them a better home, and making money at the same time. eating dinner at home with the boys even though i know hubby will be home later than usual. i think what i need to do is start making mini-goals.
i have a few goals for today. pack enough snacks for the boys so we don't need to eat lunch out. cancel the picture appt since today is really not a good day, and i should just say no. also, cancel a mystery shop for tomorrow, since really, who needs to go to two separate cities when its inconvienant-chances are i'll spend whatever money i make doing on that shop just on gas to get from one place to another. its not worth it. that's all i can think of on the top of my head, but i'm sre i'll face temptations today that will test my resolve. we'll see how i do, won't we?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

vactions and renovations

my wonderful hubby has been wanting to see his friend in puerto rico for years, so finally i say go. i'll stay here with the kids, you go enjoy yourself. i'd rather go w/ him, but given the choice between being stuck on an island w/ three young kids while he has a ball, and staying here where i can go out and do things w/ the kids, while he goes off, heck whatever makes him happy. i thought, well, we could plan and pay in cash, and it would all be good. well, i thought he'd want to go for 4-5 days, a week tops. no, he wants to go for 10 days. wtf?
moving right along in the same hour as that conversation, hubby has someone come over to give us estimates to redo our bathrooms. mind you, our master bath needs to get redone since there is mold in the floor, and it needs it for safety's sake. doing the hall bath is a toss up-when we sell we'll need to get it done-doing it now at the same time as the master bath could give us a discount on labor and parts. turns out the guy and hubby hatch a plan for both bathrooms and the master bedroom (something about painting the walls). grand total: between $7,500-$10,000. wtf?
well i ask hubby what the cost is for just the bathrooms, and he doesn't know-because he didn't ask for that. i say, well, what if we just do the master bath and bedroom, and leave the other bath for later on (not my ideal situation, but i'm trying to work w/ hubby). nope, didn't get an estimate for that either.
i'm beyond livid. we got in an argument about money and somehow scrapbooking came up-it's almost like he thinks i'm spending money on it (since the other women who i have been doing it with have recently spent a lot of money on it). nope, i haven't even bought the cricut i desire, or other fun stuff, thinking that its not a need, its a want, i can do without it, other things take priority. i am just so frustrated because its like we're getting set up to get in a hole again before we get out of what we're in now. no matter how i reason w/ him, he just doesn't get it.
somehow i stayed on track tonight and made dinner at home. we even had lunch at home, which was unexpected, and had breakfast before we had headed out. spending no money today was the brightest part (besides seeing friends at the park, and the boys having a good time). i just wish being responsible about this money stuff was easier.

Friday, March 14, 2008

the things we spend money on

i went out tonight and had to grab something at the store for our monthly scrapbook get together. planning ahead would have been great, but at the last minute we had to change locations, so bringing something became more of a necessity than just an extra (usually dinner/snacks were provided). i went by the grocery store, and paid $6.05 for salsa, chips, and a soft drink. it could have been worse, but i wasn't plannng on spendng it. on the upshot, i passed up mcdonalds today and instead went home for lunch. it's a small victory.
in other news, i sent hubby ouf for groceries at costco-all we needed was dog food and milk. his tab was $75. considering he watched all three boys so i could go scrapbook for 3 1/2 hours, that was great. he was in a bad mood when i came home, i think he was just tired from the kids and working all week. however, i think tomorrow i need to figureout what he bought and why he bought it. ugh. we really didn't need anything. both the pantry and freezers and refrigerator are well stocked. what the heck did he do? then again, if i nitpick that may not be good either. why does saving money have to be so difficult? or maybe its just me?

Monday, March 10, 2008

weekend summary 03/08-03/09/2008

its reassuring to know that i'm not the only one in my struggles. one of my friends also has a blog, and its nice to know that i'm not the only one who has trouble resisting temptation or likes eating out. its just something we have to watch if we want to continue moving forward, and not slip back into debt.
this weekend was a prime example. on saturday we took a family fun day, and planned to go on a train trip. not being familiar with the area, or knowing how long we were going to be out, i decided to pack us a picnic lunch and bring snacks and drinks for the 4 main eaters. so far, so good. well, we got to where hubby thought was the train/miniture gold place was, to find it was out of business. how he couldn't see it last week as he drove by the place is beyond me, but that's besides the point. we discovered that we were only 30 min from a national park, so we decided to venture out there, instead of driving back for 45 minutes and sitting at home the rest of the day. admission to the park was $20 for a 1-7 day pass, and $30 for a year pass. we should have gone with the year pass, but had no idea how mesmerizing the place would be until it was too late in the day, and we didn't see a paid entrance post the way we left the park. lesson learned.
on our way home from the park, we decided to eat dinner at a family place. it was a nice treat, considering we have been eating at home all week. also, we saved money by bringing lunch with us, and resisting our starbucks temptation. however, we had to leave earlier than expected when a potty training accident made it impossible (and frankly, undesirable) to stay longer. next time, i think we'll head home and enjoy one of the frozen pizzas i have stockpiled in the freezer.
yesterday i had planned out. hubby had to work, and i knew the best bet was to get out of the house so he would have peace and quiet to do his work. one trip to target to look for clearance deals, and a trip to costco for groceries. i stayed on track at target, only purchasing the laundry soap and cereal that were on sale (at rock bottom prices) and i had a coupon for eah purchase.
my next stop was costco. lets just say, this trip i had planned on spending $30, and walked out $96 dollars later. i saw two pairs of skorts for myself-i bought them because i have only a couple of shorts, and i'm not even sure they fit me. i also bought more laundry soap and granola bars, since yesterday was the last day to buy them at a reduce price, and it was a good price, and we go through both like crazy. the other purchases just add up, milk, olive oil (we were completely out), a carton of whipping cream (so many uses, and much cheaper than in the store), and my one indulgence-a magazine-not that i needed it, but because i couldn't stand at costco and read the articles that interested me while in the store with the boys. off the top of my head, i can't think of the other purchases, which makes me wonder how much i needed those items.
today is a new day, a new week. i plan on cooking dinner the whole week, and not ordering out. we'll see how that goes. i also need to pay off the credit card today-for some reason, i'm waiting until the last minute. i don't know why.

Friday, March 7, 2008

clearing out the closets

I've had many things given to me over time that for one reason or another were not being used by me or my family members. Listing stuff on ebay is a great way to see if anyone else wants your stuff, as the saying goes, one man's junk is another's treasure. I'm not one for overspending/overbuying as much as I used to when my kids were little, or when I was a first time mom. In fact, the amount of money I have spent has gone down-thanks to a rotating supply of hand-me-downs, thrift-store finds, and gifts from family and friends. I know one day this too shall end, but its not like my children really care that deeply about the style of clothes they wear, nor do they have brand recognition. On the other hand, I do, so that helps me when I'm going places to see what I want to purchase. I'm hoping this helps more than hurts my intentions.

For example, today I went to Goodwill. I found 8 Gymboree items that were in excellent used condition-some boys, some girls. The boys stuff is easy-what one child doesn't wear, another can. As for the girls, I'm going to try and sell it on ebay. The least that can happen is that it won't sell-I didn't spend a fortune on those items. I can always pass them onto several moms I know that would appreciate them.

Some may wonder why I even bothered buying clothes to sell considering I've been doing as much as possible to reduce our expenses. My frame of mind was that it for the amount of money I invested into thes clothes, I could turn it into a profit with miniml effort. If it works out, great. If not, then its one more experience I have, and I'll move forward in my quest to get ahead. I'm not one for sitting idly by-I want to be a team player when it comes to bringing in some money, even though I'm staying at home right now.

Monday, March 3, 2008

one foot in front of the other

the major bills are paid. however, i still have to pay off the credit cards w/ our tax refund we received last week. i don't know why i have an issue over faacing the reality of our situation, but i don. i know we need to cut back, save, make changes. that i understand and support. its facing everything on paper that'soverwhelming. i wish it wasn't so hard to do. the words that come to mind are "take a big girl pill". hmmm maybe i'll do that tonight and the truth won't be so bitter.