Win $500,000 for the Little Light House

August 28, 2010

To learn more about this AMAZING school, go here.

It’s a Christian pre-school that provides tuition-free services to children with special needs. They run on donations only. They serve 64 students, and have over 140 on the waiting list!

Don’t you want to help them win $500,000?

Buying Secondhand

August 16, 2010

I am definitely one who loves to buy things, usually new things.

But I’m also one who loves a deal.

Mr D2S and I have been looking at china cabinets on and off for the past year. Because it’s less of a necessity than say, a bed or a table, we were waiting to find one we both loved that wasn’t too expensive. Turns out we’ll settle for one I really like that was pretty dang cheap!

A lot of the ones we liked at furniture stores ran at least $1500. I found one on Craigslist and we got it for $125. Sure, it’s not perfect. There’s a small ding or two, if you look. It had six glass shelves, but one was missing and one had a chip. But it looks good with our dining room furniture and it now holds a lot of beautiful stuff, including our wedding china.

Do you ever buy used?

Some people only buy used. There’s a great blog called The Non-Consumer Advocate. The author, Katy, is a member of “The Compact”.

Buying used makes sense (it’s easy to see why it’s normally more economical and environmentally-friendly), but it definitely wouldn’t be easy to do exclusively with the way I currently live. I go to Target weekly. I go to thrift stores never. There’s a Wal-Mart in every part of town. I can’t even tell you where a Goodwill is located.

I imagine if I at least considered buying secondhand more often, we could find some deals. In fact, today as we bought clothes for DD, I wished it wasn’t too complicated for me to take a newborn to garage sales. Although, there’s always the Craigslist app on my iPhone…

Eating Out While Working

August 15, 2010

Back in the day, before Mr D2S was laid off, and when I tracked our spending pretty religiously, we had a category for “Work – Eating Out”. While my little spreadsheet never specified that it was Mr D2S who spent that money, it mostly was.

I didn’t mind him eating out when he was at work because I felt he deserved the break. He works really hard, and it’s nice to go sit down and relax with coworkers for a bit. Also, the meals are generally inexpensive because most places give them great discounts.

I hardly ate out during work for the longest time. In fact, for almost a full year, I ate a peanut butter sandwich (yep, no jelly) probably 90% of the time for lunch. I didn’t mind doing that because, hey, I love peanut butter sandwiches. (Well, I did. I’m on a hiatus now, as you’ll read.) And I really didn’t want to spend the money.

But after a year of peanut butter, after we bought our house and put down our huge downpayment, after I got a promotion and made more money than I probably deserve, I started buying my lunch. I do not want to imagine how much I spent on that. It really was foolish. And unhealthy. I think I tried to tell myself it was okay because a lot of that time I was pregnant, and it seemed so okay to give into cravings.

Anyways, back to present. I’m not working now, so of course I’m eating at home. And Mr D2S has only been back to work for two weeks. And for those two weeks, he’s packed his dinner or came home to eat all but once. (Actually I think he did pack, but it was a coworker’s birthday, so they went out.) I didn’t ask him to start being frugal, he just wanted to. 🙂 I sure do love him.

I’m glad I get to be here to help him pack his dinner (which is usually leftovers). I don’t want him stuck with peanut butter for a year and then have him go on a binge like I did!

The Cost of Food

August 13, 2010

The other morning, Mr D2S and I went grocery shopping with the little one. We had made out a menu for the next several days, had our list, and stuck to it. As we were shopping, I mentioned that I’d like to try to set a budget for our groceries. I haven’t really tracked our spending well enough in the past to know what is normal for us, and life is a little different (my brother-in-law lives with us now, and we don’t eat out near as much as we did before the baby), but I threw a number out.

I ballparked a figure of $400.

Too bad we’ve already spent that much this month! Some of that was for household goods, and some of it was not for regular meals at home (we bought stuff for our daughter’s baptism reception). However, I still am going to aim for that goal.

Other amounts we’ve spent this month (and August isn’t even half-over) regarding food/drink:

Liquor: $97.27
Baptism Reception: $174.17
Pizza for friends: $40.69
Eating Out: $104.91

We’re honestly not big drinkers. I obviously don’t drink at all now since I breastfeed. And Mr D2S only drinks a few when socializing. Well, he just happened to socialize a lot because his best friend from high school stayed with us for the whole week prior to DD’s baptism. And his best friend can throw quite a few back. So three men drinking beer several nights, plus a few extra friends staying after the baptism who drank, equals too much spent on alcohol.

For the Baptism Receptions, we bought three Subway platters ($113.94) and a cake ($60.23). We had 25 adults here, plus a handful of small children. The cake was devoured quickly, and we only had a few sandwiches left, but they were eaten soon after and not wasted. I could’ve made my own sandwiches, but it wasn’t worth the stress to me. I also could’ve asked my mother-in-law for help with that (she actually offered), but I felt like she’s done plenty for us since our daughter was born (like doing our laundry and cleaning our bathrooms). I wanted her to enjoy the weekend too. My sister-in-law also offered to make the cake, but in all honesty, no one likes her cakes. Also, she can’t afford to make the cake, so if I had to pay someone, I’d rather pay a place that makes a good cake. We just told her we wanted everyone to enjoy the weekend and not work, and that’s why we were going with a local bakery.

After the baptism, a few friends stuck around and we footed the bill for ordering pizza. It’s hard to ask everyone to chip in when part of the crowd is unemployed (a seminarian and a recent education major grad).

And the eating out? We paid for four adults (ourselves plus brother-in-law and the best friend seminarian from out of town) to eat from Subway, Braum’s, and Quizno’s. Mr D2S and his brother also went to a Chinese buffet one night when the baby and I went to a Pampered Chef party. Can you imagine the cost if we’d eaten at sit-down restaurants??

Food can be so crazy expensive. Hopefully making menus, eating at home, and being a little smarter will help reduce our spending in this area.

What acronym are we now??

August 12, 2010

We currently have two incomes. Mr D2S did get rehired by the city and is back to work! Wooohooo! And I am currently getting 100% of my pay for these first six weeks of maternity leave.

Which means, yes, we now have a kid. 🙂 She is the most amazing thing person. DD will be four weeks old tomorrow, and I have to admit that I’ve spent a huge chunk of that time just gazing at her.

So, dual-incomes, one kid. DIOK? DI1k?

Whatever we are, it’s a temporary thing. After my six weeks of paid maternity leave, I’m taking ten additional weeks of unpaid bonding time. During those ten weeks, we’ll be looking at how we can live on just Mr D2S’s salary. It will definitely be a lifestyle change for all of us, but with me at home, I know it’s doable.

Also during those ten weeks we will have to decide if I’m going back to work. And if I am, when? And how much will I work?

Another thing we’ll have to start discerning is regarding planning our family. We definitely want more kiddos, but we will have to figure out when it’s appropriate to try to conceive. Or more accurately, when it’s appropriate to stop trying to avoid. (We use Natural Family Planning, which means we try to keep God’s will in mind, and we keep artificial contraceptives out of the picture.)

I’m completely loving our life right now, and while it’s a little scary to think about the unknowns, I’m also excited about the future!

cloth vs disposable

July 5, 2010

Before I was even pregnant, I had briefly thought about cloth diapering. It has never seemed all that disgusting or tasking to me, but I honestly don’t know that much about it. I don’t know anyone close to me that cloth diapers and what little I know I’ve found from the web.

Lots of sources say cloth diapering is more frugal, and that aspect does appeal to me.

Other reasons that appeal to me: not having huge stockpiles of disposables, cloth are so cute!, and less trash.

I’m going to do more research, but I bet I buy at least a few to try out.

Monthly Obligations

July 1, 2010

After such a long hiatus from tracking our spending, it’s been harder than I thought to get it all organized. It will still take me a little bit longer to track down a few purchases (like pending transactions and anything and everything bought at Target since we use a Target card), and I also want to break down our purchases to see what went where.

But now that June is over, I do have a breakdown of what will be pretty stable each month.

Bills (1166.95)
-Natural Gas
-Cell phones
-Cable, Internet, Home Phone
-Security System

Loans (392.27)
-Two student loans (both mine)
-Car loan

That’s around $1600 that is set. Yikes!

We’re guessing when Mr D2S returns to work in August, he’ll bring home around $3000 a month.

So, only $1400 to wiggle with.

I’d like to set aside $500 a month.

Can $900 cover groceries, gasoline, charitable giving and everything else? It can, but it will definitely require a change in our spending habits!

All in One Place

June 30, 2010

Tracking our money has been going okay this month. I’m sure there are small purchases here and there that we’ve failed to record because we’re so out of the habit. Since tomorrow is the last day of the month, I should have it all finalized before the weekend. I’m anxious to see where we sit.

Our main banking institution is USAA. I love it. Good thing I married into it. 🙂 Last night when I was checking our accounts, I realized they have an option to add other non-USAA accounts. So I did. Here’s a breakdown of where our cash is stashed:

Primary Checking (through USAA)
Small Savings (currently called Insurance and Travel, through USAA)
Secondary Checking (through a local bank, used to pay our car loan, which is through that bank)
Large Savings (through ING Direct)

We used to have multiple ING savings sub-accounts (Europe, Car, Gifts, etc) but those all got wiped out/combined into our main one. I think we will break them up again soon, when we know what we’re saving for…

Anyways, those are all fairly accessible funds. It’s nice to know we have a fair amount of money if we should need it, but I also look at the total and think “where the heck does all of my salary go??”. It should be very interesting once I’m not working full-time.

Time to regroup…

June 1, 2010

Apparently naming my last monthly budget as “We are now serious December 2009” was the biggest joke ever. I didn’t track our spending past December 2nd.

Six months later and I’m determined to get back to watching where our money goes.

So how have things changed in the last few months?

Well, we’re no longer a “double-income” family. Mr D2S was laid off February 1st. Thanks a lot, economy. We have a lot of hope that when the city’s new fiscal year starts (one month from today!), he will be rehired.

Also, we’re well on our way to no longer being a “no kids” family. I am 33 weeks pregnant. 🙂

Financially, I still feel like we’re very secure. We have relatively little debt (mortgage, small car payment, and student loans) and absolutely zero credit card debt. While our future regarding jobs (who’s working and where) is uncertain at the moment, the worst case scenario would be that I go back part-time after the baby is born and we live off $50,000 a year. And that isn’t all that terrible, minus that I want to stay home of course! And minus the fact that Mr D2S is so sick of being unemployed. 😦 Poor guy.

I’m very anxious to see how much we spend this month. And of course, more importantly how much we can set aside. Having a little extra stashed before the baby arrives will be reassuring.

November 2009 budget

November 1, 2009

As always, I’m a little bit late in finishing up last month’s budget (have a few more receipts to track down), but really wanted to post November before the 1st is over.


Our main financial goal this month is to save/invest $5000.

This will be easy as pie as long as we don’t go over budget.

And actually…just realized I didn’t put our car payment on there. Oops! It’ll be $200.

I was very generous with our bill and trip categories, so maybe we’ll still be around $3600 in total spending. We’ll see!