Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Small budget, big savings

As everyone tries to tighten their wallets and live off a little less, I'm jumping on the bandwagon. Not so much because I want to make a ding in consumerism. I know that my shopping habits are a drop in the bucket compared to their bottom line. Not because I'm drowning in credit card debt, I never jumped on that bandwagon. No I want to tighten my purse strings to save money. Not only for the goodies that my husband and I want (like a computer with a working "c" key or a flat screen tv or woodwork and sewing tools), but to have in those "oh shit" moments, like when you get a flat tire or your air conditioning quits. Also we want to buy a house, its in our 5 year or sooner plan.

So how do I plan to do this. Nothing earth shattering or ground breaking. But I do have a plan.

1. Meal plan - Now goin are probably going to ask how is this going to save any money? And my dears, I have an answer. No last minute trips to the grocery store, dd in tow, both of us starving, which results in buying full price *gasp!*, buying junk food and other unneeded items. It also prevents the "what to make for dinner" debate that can result in buying take out that costs WAY more than making it at home.

2. Coupon - Not only does this save on groceries but if you are careful you can get free health and hygiene items. So worth it.

3. Food allowance - My sister has issued me a challenge. $30 per person per 2 weeks for food, plus a $20 allowance for meat, since she raises cows, pigs, and chickens for butchering. Gotta plan to make that work!

4. Envelope plan - Rather than writing a check or using the debit card for groceries, gas, housecleaning items, I have cash, in envelopes, for these items. The envelopes have to be audited every pay period to prevent taking cash for other items.

5. Save "spent" money - I tend to consider bottle deposits, rebates and change spent. So rather than spending this as 'extra' money, I am saving it. This can be used for eating out at special events, going out to movies, or other fun things.

6. Shop clearance - Birthdays come around every year, as does Christmas and other holidays. Rather than waiting until the last minute to buy presents, cards, outfits I am going to buy ahead. It may be a stash of toys that went on clearance, a Halloween costume a size too big, an extra box of Valentine day cards, but it will be bought for much less.

These are all common sense but require thought, planning, time and effort. I'm making it my goal to take this time and put in this effort.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New year, new goals

Resolutions are so overdone anymore, plus you make a resolution expecting to not accomplish it. For this reason I am taking this time to examine my life and my home and figure out what needs work and setting goals.

1. Find the systems that aren't working and overhaul them.
I don't know about you but I have home systems that are failing miserably. My daughters closet is overflowing with clothes but she can't ever find what she wants or what fits. My hall closet is full of....miscellaneous stuff that I don't know what is. My cleaning supplies are everywhere. And so im going to take everything out of these places and make new systems. And then enforce things being put away.

2. Organization is key
Where's that bill? Do you know where the lunch menu is? When is that party? I, just like every other mom in America, am buried in paperwork. I plan to combat this by a) going paperless where possible b) having a clear "inbox" for all papers coming into the house and c) having specific days I go through my inbox. Invitations will go on the cork board along with menus. Bills that come in will have a file on my desk with my computer. School papers will be sorted through.

3. Meal plan and coupon
While this could fall under keep a clear budget, I'm putting it under its own goal. I want to meal plan a month out. Why? This will allow me to watch for deals and use coupons effectively. My sister and I are compiling a price book to share in Google Docs that will give standard prices as well as sale frequency

4. Budget and save
This is coming to a blog post near you soon, its too much to add in this one.

I'm hoping by setting goals for myself instead of resolutions I will achieve them instead of falling off as usual. Wish me luck ladies and gentlemen

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas preparations

That special time is upon us. Yes Christmas. The time of year when parents have to juggle the consumerism that our children are exposed to, teaching our children the true reason for Christmas and the growing number of people that expect gifts.

My daughter is having a smaller Christmas this year, ascent far as presents go. She is getting an mp3 player, speakers, a quilt, and a bookcase. I'm embroidering and sewing the quilt. My dh is building the bookcase. Heartfelt gifts made by her parents.

This year we are focusing on the Christmas story. I plan to read it a few times a week, combined with bible verses. I also am going to focus on giving to those less fortunate.

At school they are collecting gently used books to donate to a local charity that allows people to come and pick what they need. All they ask for is your hometown and the number of people you are shopping for. I'm going to challenge alexis to pick 5 books to donate.

I also want to donate some food to the local food pantry and take her with me.

I'm still looking for something we can do together to volunteer. I haven't quite figured out what we are going to do yet but I'll get there.

My family is large. I have 2 sisters, a brother and a brother in law. There are a total of 3 kids that aren't mine. Then of course my parents and Jaime's mom. Plus Alexis' biological cousins (4), their parents (who also happen to be my best friends). These are all presents. Plus we do an ornament exchange at the holiday party for work... This is adding up to a lot of presents.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Clean up clean up

Tonight's goal was to get the house clean. And in the hour and a half that I have been home I have cleaned and vacuumed the living room, cleaned, swept, and mopped the kitchen, and made biscuits and gravy for the husband for dinner. Yummo.

I'm not quite done yet. I still want to go start a load of laundry, take down all my halloween decorations, and clean the bathroom.

Am I crazy to be doing all of this on a week night? Probably. However Saturday I need to super clean my house as well as take the dd to her Clover Kids meeting. Plus at some point I need to go buy the staples needed for holiday baking (which is coming up sooner than we all would like).

It is a crazy time of year and it's just getting started people!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Good Sportsmanship

A recent news story grabbed my attention. Perhaps it's because it is about my home town, perhaps because it's about sportsmanship, perhaps it's because my daughter is growing up and wants to be involved in sports. Whatever the reason, I have found things in this story that bother me.

A local news crew ran a story about my home school showing poor sportsmanship at a recent playoff game at a nearby town. The headline itself made it sound like the entire team and perhaps even some of the parents and fans showed poor sportsmanship. After reading the story and watching the video it became clear that a few team members (it never did specify how many) performed minor acts of vandalism according to the other school's superintendent. They urinated in the girls locker room on the girls things. A student also said that the players walked across the gym floor with their cleats on.

At first glance this is horrifying both as a parent and as a former student. What kind of a reputation to give our school! We don't know how to lose well, and if you can't lose well you can never win well.

I then heard from a teacher at this school that it was 3 boys. Out of a football team of close to 60. Also the gym floor was not scratched by the football team but by the school janitor.

Now this does not make the urinating on personal possessions any better. And their is some discord on how this should be handled.

One parent said the kids involved should have to work at the school until they have paid off the damage.

Another said the kids should have to clean the entire locker room with sponges and bleach water.

Another said that the entire football team and cheerleading squad should have to clean the locker room and gym, as well as pay back the cost for the entire gym floor to be redone.

My suggestion?

First and foremost no to the bleach water. Most locker rooms are completely enclosed and no one should have to smell the bleach. Also most locker rooms are painted and the bleach would eat the paint. Then I suppose they would be responsible for the cost of repainting the locker room. Sigh.

Secondly I firmly believe in let the punishment fit the crime (or misdeed, or wrongdoing or whatever term is more palatable for you). The crime in this case? Poor sportsmanship and vandalism, as well as a total disrespect for personal belongings (that didn't even belong to the players who beat the team).

Poor sportsmanship - I believe they should have to come up with a presentation about the importance of good sportsmanship, how to show good sportsmanship and what constitutes good sportsmanship vs frustration at a poor play. This should then be presented to the younger team members whether it is the JV team, freshman team or junior high team.

Vandalism - I believe they should have to do work around the school cleaning up acts of vandalism (because honestly the urine should have been cleaned up the next day when they realized it was there). It should be agreed on by both superintendents what number of hours is required to 'pay' for the act.

Disrespect - I believe the students involved should have to write letters to the school, the players, as well as the individuals whose belongings they urinated on apologizing for their poor choice.

And what if the team members that did this don't come forward? It is a team and so if the individuals don't want to own up to their poor decisions then the whole team should have to do all of these things. And someone on that team knows who did it, and the team will either report who did it, or they will use peer pressure to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

I also wish that parents wouldn't be so quick to judge other parents. One parent stated that good parents don't raise disrespectful kids. This is just not true. Peer pressure, showing off, as well as trying to fit in all play a part. My parents raised me to know right from wrong, good choices from bad. That didn't mean I always did the right choice or the good choice. But it was never my parents lack of guidance that caused me to make those choices. We need to remember as parents that while it is easy to blame the parents when a child does any wrong, we should not throw stones or cast judgements. All children make poor choices, even our own. And when that happens we take the time to teach from these poor choices. And it is not our place to judge, we will all be judged one day.

I hope that this bad situation has some good come out of it. Additional supervision, more emphasis on good sportsmanship in our schools, and maybe even a stronger school and community.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finding a Church Home

As a newly married mama of a 5 year old, recently moved to the town, and having grown up with parents who don't believe that we need to go to church to praise God, I had no idea where to start looking to find a church home. I believed that while I praise God every moment of every day that I needed and my daughter needed the guidance a church provides.

I checked into several churches in town. They were not what I was looking for with my family that will grow over the next several years. However when my sister found Cornerstone she called me. "Sister" she said "I have found a church that is for OUR generation and is FAMILY oriented."

Now, to me, this seemed like a tall order to fill. Between my sister and my family our adults range from 25 to 32 and the children range from 7-3. But Cornerstone filled the order. They have Sunday service while the children age newborn to grade 2 are in Sunday School. The Sunday service is half singing. And not the traditional hymns. They are singing contemporary Christian songs. The words to the songs are up on projectors. They are playing guitars and drums. This is not your everyday church.

And on Wednesday while the kids are in their program, the parents have a parenting class providing guidance on raising children following the bible.

This does not feel like church to me. It is a church for the younger generation, for families with children, for busy families. It brings a sense of community to the large college town it is situated outside of. And you can guarantee that there are college kids sitting next to that mom of 2 high schoolers in front of the new mom across from the middle schoolers. They have us introduce ourselves to our neighbors on Sunday so that we are a church FAMILY.

When I went in search of a church home I never dreamed that in my backyard was a church that was such a perfect fit for not only me but my daughter and my sister and her family.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The craziness I call Life

Where to start?

There are 96 days until Christmas. In this time I have 5 1\2 quilt squares to embroider, 2 quilts to put together, and a huge cross stitch to stitch. Holy cow. This mama needs to get busy. And dad? He needs to put together a bookshelf for Alexis.

Last night I was in a car accident with Alexis. We are fine, it just pisses me off that I need to replace my car now. As I'm searching I have found a few that I like. A Nissan Versa, a Kia Forte, a Dodge Caliber, a Ford Fiesta and a Ford Focus. Now my favorite thing about some of these is that they are hatchbacks. I love hatchbacks. We have to see what the bank says.

Work is great. I started out assisting the student dentists. Since then I have started working in sterilization, assisting one of the 2 staff dentists, screening the walk in patients, as well as assisting the students. I help train the student assistants. I do it all in the clinic and I have been there for less than a year. I have been out of school for less than a year. I love it!!

Married life is great. Life is not a dream but it is life. My husband doesn't always do everything I think he should, but in all fairness I don't always do everything he thinks I should.