Saturday, January 31, 2009

January recap

What a month it's been! It started off quiet, and went out with a bang. We kept steadfast to our goals, eating home at least six nights out of seven, only going out when it was a reimbursable msytery shopped meal. I've already started to receive checks from last months shops, so don't forsee any problems with this month's checks.
I worked every week, averaging 3 days a week. I supplemented the days I didn't work with mystery shopping/merchandising jobs. I watched our dollars, and only used the credit cards for reimbursable items, if at all. Cash (or debit card) was used nine out of ten shopping trips. To take it one step further, R cut up his two credit cards this past week. Coupons were used, and sales ads were followed. Due to our diligence, I definitely foresee a better outlook on our finances in the months to come.
I'm not sure how R's income will affect us, besides a reduction in pay. So far we've cut out discretionary spending, and we're watching our spending in all areas. We're always asking what's a need vs a want, what we should do vs what we want to do, and how best to handle unexpected bills and windfalls. We've come a long way this month, not only in our spending, but also in our communication. I'm looking forward to the month ahead :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

That's why you have insurance

Talk about a crappy day-of sorts. My beautiful Palm Centro cell phone was stolen while I substitute taught at a locl continuation high school. I was more pissed off earlier, more about the principle of stealing vs the loss of the phone. I have a $50 deductible on over a $300 phone-that's why I have insurance. I'm just relieved that I didn't see it-because frankly, seeing something happen-well you never know what someone will do if you see them doing something illegal. R already disconnected service, so we're good there.
updated to add: the principal just called, he thinks he knows who took it. Now the question is if they figure out who took it, do I press criminal charges or let the punishmet lay at school suspension? Remember these are troubled youth-but at the same time, does the punishment fit the crime?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend shocker

I'm blown away-literally. Tonight R announced once again that he's okay with having a fourth child. This is after weeks of laying low, not mentioning adding to our family, thinking we're done, this is it, I'm at peace with it, we have three healthy boys. I thought for sure it was a done deal, our family of five. As much as I've thought about having another baby, I was thinking the past week or so how I should really do something with the baby stuff if we weren't going to have another child. I didn't mention it to R, not wanting to hear that he felt like we're done, or mention that he was ready to make his v appointment. I liked just being in the moment, enjoying what is, as crazy as life is, I love my husband and my boys, and the life we've made for ourselves.

My friend asked me this weekend if R had changed his mind, I said no, I was sure he was not on board to add another to our brood. Life is finally managable with three-we're able to go places, do things, look forward to what we want to do as a family. Maybe it was E's haircut, or seeing our boys play together. We know they're getting older-but yet we still have room for more. We never closed that door to having more, its always been cracked open. The big question now is will there be another? I'm not going to make a pro-con list-its not even an option-there's not a single good reason to not add to our family-whatever challenges we're facing, well, I've always said life was a journey, and challenges will be there, regardless of how many children we have in our family.

Needless to say it'll be interesting what happens in the months to come.....

Weekend musings

This weekend has had its moments. We spent the morning at the local barber shop-sniff, someone recieved their first haircut, and I was an emotional mess. Sigh. There are pictures, and I'll post later today. We spent the rest of the day at home, boys helped bake corn muffins and apple bread. R went to Costco and had his "alone" time to unwind. I caught up on Brothers and Sisters, and folded laundry during naps. There was also a huge discussion on our finances, one that went a lot better than I thought-maybe because our commitment level is huge, Dave Ramsey is in our heads, and we want to do more and live better than we are right now. I'll post more later, kids are underfoot, so I can't write everything out now. I made a pasta bake for dinner and brownies for dessert. The house smelled delish with all the baking going on, now I'm hoping for some warm weather eventually so we can walk off the extra (delish) calories.
I called it a night earlier than I hoped, I think the emotional toll of the day caught up with me.

Today will be a nice day. I'm taking the boys out while R studies. Not sure where we'll end up, but it'll be a treat. Have a good one everyone!

Friday, January 23, 2009


I need to get back on the Flylady program. I was doing well, house looked put together, dinner always taken care of, I was put together to. Lately I feel like I'm scrambling, R says I need to slow down, but I've never been one to take my time. Now I see how my actions impact the boys- if I can't find something, how can I get upset when the same happens to M? I want to nip this now- so I can enjoy life more, and not have stress- or at least have a plan to deal with it. Look for changes in the days and weeks ahead, I'm going to refocus my time and energy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mixed bag day

Today I had grand plans for our day. Nothing went as planned. The boys played longer and refused to get dressed, so playgroup went out the door. Saved me $14 and a headache at Pump It Up, but we missed out. Still, the day wasn't a complete loss; I took them to storytime at the library-they did well, E loved the duck song-I could have sworn I heard him singing some of it tonight. M an G, they sat through almost the entire session. I tried valiently to get us to Costco and home, but forgot about a few errands that needed to take place today. Doing those cost me precious minutes, and left me with two over cranky and tired children. I resorted to splitting a chicken nuggett meal in the backseat of the van, in hopes of missing the rain during our Costco run and appeasing my children with food. $5 later, they were happy, and I was able to grocery shop in peace-or so I thought. Fast forward to leaving Costco, and M and G throw me a double wammy of a temper tantrum-seriously, they were egging each other on, an it lasted from the bathroom to the outside of the store, to sitting in the car, getting dwn an aisle, to having to repark w/ one child getting themselves unbuckled. If I have a couple of gray hairs tomorrow, I know why. No sooner do we get on the road, all three boys are asleep-that speaks volumes!
The rest of the afternoon went by quickly. Post office detour, then home. I gave them all a bath in the afternoon-that kept them occupied, and relieved some major stress from all of us. I make a huge pot of vegetarian chili and fiesta bread for dinner, and the boys gobbled it up. Somehow I managed to get them in bed, E fell asleep on me, and now I can relax while the laundry dries and R is on his way home from school. I wonder if all days will be this crazy, and for how long, and whether I'll survive, but I know the days come, they do end (eventually), and so far I'm still here, so that says something.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Long weekend wrapup

Given today was a paid holiday for R, I'm considering it a long 3 day weekend. This weekend was relatively quiet, considering for most of it we were at home. We made a short trip to Costco on Saturday for diapers and toilet paper, both of which we were on our last open roll. G has made significant progress in PT, but given that diapers are cheaper than pullups, and the fact that he understands how to take it off to go potty, well, I'll take the cheaper alternative anyday. I'm a bit hopeful that this case will last awhile, as his diaper's remaining dry most the day, but I won't sweat it if it's not-after having 2 kids in diapers for so long, this is a piece of cake.

We went to urgent care yesterday, where we found out everyone was okay-Baby E included. M had a touch of bronchitis, and we have antibiotics for him, and prescription strength cough syrup for the rest of us. Love $5 copays for meds, that rocks!

Today was supposed to be baby playgroup day, but given E woke up still coughing, I decided we would stay home. An alternative plan was to check out the zoo w/ a friend, but that too was nixed. Instead we decided to stay close to home and check out the brand new park in town. That was a huge hit-number one being the kids had a ball, and all the equipment is their size, and number two, we ran into a lot of kids-some from their preschool! We came home for lunch, and after R did his homework, the five of us (plus the dog) took a nice walk around the neighborhood. The boys rode their scooters, I pushed the baby (omg, its been forever since I just pushed a single stroller!) , and R walked the dog. It was a perfect family moment, if one is even possible. Everyone felt good after getting outside, and I barely heard a cough or a sneeze-I definitely think the warmer weather helped everyone renew their physical well-being. We made dinner at home, and then settled the kids down for the night. Now I'm going to check online for work, and call it a night.

Tomorrow I have plans to hit grocery stores for my grocery game deals, and maybe hit a thrift store or two. We hope to go camping this summer, and I'm on the hunt for some camping items-no way do I want to pay top dollar for supplies, but I know the basics of what we need (thanks to boy scouts in the family), and know what to look for. At the very least, it'll be a change of pace. Its also the start of birthday season for us, I have a few gifts stashed already to get us started, but I'm on the prowl for more-just in case I run out before the next hot online tip. If I don't get to it tomorrow, no biggie, tht's the perk of planning ahead, no having to run out to the store the night before the party, already have stuff to give :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It was bound to happen

There's a reason why I haven't been posting. Slowly, one by one, each of us is getting sick. Poor E is the worst. Congestion, running noses, fevers, nothing fun or glamourus. We are taking Baby E to urgent care today, after two horrible nights of me being up at all hours (and then being up all day too). Depending on how the boys look/feel too, they may get seen too. I'm just glad we have insurance, and while the thought of $15 copays x 3 scares me (R and I can tough it out, but the boys look worse than us combined), not having insurance is more frightening. Did I mention I heard yesterday our insurance company is laying off 2,000 people this month, and is due to raise insurance rates too? Just something I wanted to hear, right as our income level is decreasing. Now we'll have higher payments for the same coverage, and it'll eat up more of our take home pay. What a mess.... :(

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Three shoes and a stick

That sums up my week. R started school this week, and between that and the work I've picked up, life at home has been busy. We've managed to stay on track, not eating out, not spending money. I don't know how that is, but I do know that I haven't used the credit card except for gas, so that's progress.

Today we had playgroup. I didn't want to go, but I did-the kids were restless at home, I knew I needed to talk to adults, and not focus on what our financial stuff is making life like at home. Somehow though, it came up, between kindergarten registration (which I have an idea about), what shows we've been tivo'ing (too many that are slowly getting viewed), books we're reading (uh, not since before the holidays), and siging up for tball in the spring (not happening here). I felt like an outsider-especially when it seemed like everyone has more time to do stuff for themselves or money to spend on activities for their kids-since right now I feel I'm lacking in both areas. Yet once again, playgroup still saved my sanity. Another mom confided in me that she felt like an outsider with the rest of the group-since she has a different education plan for her child. And another mom-well, her husband is getting a paycut too-not quite as large as R, but still it's one-and as with the way things are going, it can always get bigger. And not everyone is fortunate to have their husband around, at night, during the week, when kids are just becoming too much to handle. So yeah, it gave me perspective.

Add to it M coming to me with one foot bare and muddy, the other shoe caked with mud, telling me he lost his shoe. And he lost his stick. Along the way finding both of G's muddy shoes abandoned, and G playing happily on a basketball court-white socks now black with mud. This week I may be more tired, with less money in my pocket, but as I reassured M today, I'm not mad, I'm jus glad him and his brothers are okay.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weekend update

This weekend we went to S town for R to attend his union meeting. The trip was a huge success. I planned ahead, and scheduled a mystery shopping meal for the way there, and the way home. We ate at his mom's house while we were there. The boys and I went to Super Walmart with my MIL, and bought each of the boys a belt-M for successfully completing potty training, and G for starting the process. G's decided that he wants brand new underwear when he's completely potty trained, so I didn't mind buying a belt for him now. For $6 each, it was a bargain, and the Cars belt buckle is a huge hit. I saw some prices of the food at Super Walmart were cheaper than other places, frozen chicken was cheaper there than at Costco (or anywhere else for that matter), but I didn't buy it since I didn't bring a cooler with me. Next time, I'll stick one in the trunk, so I'll be prepared. Gas was affordable, and with the gas shops I have lined up for this week, it'll fill up the tank for the week, or longer.

Yesterday was a buzz of activity. Doing laundry, playing outside, it was a long day. R ran errands alone (which wasn't my first choice, but I knew he needed alone time, and the boys were driving both of us nuts, so I opted to stay at home with them). We made up for it by having another mystery shopped dinner, which was nice, I wasn't in the mood to cook. I told R I was done w/ these assignments for awhile, I missed eating at home. We'll see how this turns out.

I have more I want to write about, I had a nice long chat with my MIL about credit cards, finances, how to deal with our current situation. It really gave me some food for thought, but now I need to get ready for the day out, so I'll write more about it tonight. Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gaining perspective

I'm not good at setting large goals, since I feel like an utter failure when I don't reach them. I've done this enough times and finally something clicked. Its not about reaching the ultimate goal, but taking steps to overcome challenges and and working at it step by step. I hope that this way of thinking will keep me motivated, and I sincerly hope that I'll see changes down the road.

I'm not one for posting our debt-right now I'll admit, I'm embarrassed by the number. Instead, I wrote everything down, and have it safely tucked away. Writing it down, I feel I've gained clarity and a true sense of what we're facing. I don't want to hide behind this, nor do I want it to overshadow everything I want, whether its for myself, my husband, or my children.
Right now, I plan to use the snowball method to reach our goal, and add to our savings at the same time. I know that with due diligence, the numbers will decrease and our savings will increase. Maybe later I'll post it, but right now, I'm not there yet.

I'm proud to say while I carry my credit card with me (in case of a true emergency), I'm no longer using it. I've have the mindset that I don't want to use it unless I have the funds in my checking account to pay I off in the next billing cycle (besides whatever additional payment I'm making to decrease the original debt) At the same time, I'm not using it for just anything ,gas and Costco are my only uses for it. Will this work? I'm going to give it a shot. Considering I've altered how we grocery shop and how we fill up on gas, I think this will make a signifigant impact.

I'm off to write off the bills for this month, and then we'll be set for the month.
Oh and before I forget, I stumbled upon this web radio show FrugalCoast2Coast this morning, an online wealth of knowledge. Hope you take a listen, it's wonderful!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Shopping with coupons

I know by keeping focus we'll reach our goals. This week my goal was to get our shopping completed for under $100, and to pay cash. Thus far, I've been able to keep the task at hand. I researched my grocery game lists this morning, and compiled most of my coupons. There was quite a stack for me to organize, but considering I had let my coupon binder sit, and coupons go uncut for the past month, I knew my coupon binder was in geat disarray. I'm happy to say, today's organization paid off.

Here are today's receipts for Vons: One may wonder, why did I buy 17 boxes of cereal, and 3 packages of oatmeal? Considering that 1. one box of cereal lasts my family of 4 main eaters one or two breakfasts, 2. I spent $35.44 on boxes of non junky cereal (and oatmeal, tortilla chips, and canned soup too) that retails on average $3.99 per item (oatmeal costing $4.69, not on sale), and 3. we eat at home for breakfast everyday (rotating between cereal, oatmeal, eggs, toast), and 4. this will last us 8-12 weeks, in line with the cycle of coupons/sales, and our family's eating habits. So for us, this money was well spent.

I don't have the numbers from Costco's trip today, and Winco's trip from last week right in front of me, but from memory I believe we're on target. I'll post more later, but for now dessert is calling.

Shout out to SAHMs

So what gives. Someone posts about their MIL riding their hide for being a SAHM and not working outside the home. Let me tell you, this is the hardest job ever-one that I don't feel I'm completely cut out for-hence why I went to grad school earlier vs waiting until my boys were older, and now work part time. I don't think anyone is better than another- we all have our own way of living life, but our goal is the same-to live well with our families and raise our children to be law-abiding, productive citizens. I may write on and on about budgets and cutting corners and working deals, shops, etc., but it takes work and time, and sometimes I wonder if the work justifies the pay, and if the means justifies the end. I do what I do, and others do what they do. I hope others know what they do is amazing. And now I'll go back to clipping my coupons, baking my muffins, and referring between the three boys. Sigh.....

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Weekend plans

I hope the new year is off to a good start to all of you. We continued our plan of eating at home this week, watching what we spend, in the hopes of meeting some of our financial goals this year. Emphasis on some- life is not perfect, and I will never claim to have all the answers. I keep getting reminded on my Fly Lady emails that it's not about perfection, but about baby steps. So on that note, we'll take baby steps to meet our goals, and do our best to meet them.

This weekend our plans are simple. I plan on making bread and muffins for the coming week. Bills for the month will get paid. We'll go to the library. Let the boys play on their scooters if the weather clears up-even better, if its decent we'll head to the zoo. I want to hit up Target today or Sunday, once it hits 90%. We already went there on New Year's day, and bought our christmas lights for the house and ornaments for the boys at 75% off, that was a blast! I also loaded up on pumpkin and gingerbread mix, cake mix, and craft sets (gifts for grandparents!) for next year. All for under $15, that's the way to shop!

Its rainy and cold here, so eating at home will be easier than going out. I plan on making a pot of chili or stew for dinner this weekend, that'll warm us up and keep us on budget. I want to post more about grocery shopping and meal planning, but that'll have to wait until naptime. Kids are calling......

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Save and learn

In my quest to learn more, I found this blog it looks like a great read

And thi blog, love the name, its how I see my life sometimes, but wouldn't trade it for the world :)
Three Kid Circus

Starting fresh

Happy New Year! Last night was wonderful cap to a busy year. R and I dined on pizza, dip and chips, alcoholic drinks, and soda, and enjoyed the peace and quiet of three boys sleeping well past midnight. What a treat! This morning we passed on brunch, opting to have coffee at home and watch the Tournament of Roses parade. R went back to sleep, the boys are playing nicely, and I get to relax while deciding what to do with the rest of the day. R mentioned the zoo, I mentioned a beautiful walking park in F town, we may hit up some shopping places, to window shop and let the kids play in an indoor area. For the time being, I'll peruse some blogs, make a plan for dinner tonight, and relax! Have a great day everyone :)