Friday, February 27, 2009

Money money money...

Do you budget? Do you have a budget? These are being called tough economic times (not that you'd know it in looking at gov't spending). Anyhow, I love tracking our money - I love making a game of how much I can save each month. I used to be a real dinosaur by writing how much I'd spend on my calendar (on the appropriate day), and what I spent it on, and then would add it up at the end of the month and put it into my little spreadsheet. Even when we got Quicken, I still punched numbers into my spreadsheet. Easy peasy. Quicken is fun but oh so complicated for my purposes.
By the way, I do NOT do couponing. That, to me, takes way too much time. Who wants to spend 2 hours to save $1.79?? I do use coupons occasionally, but the couponing obsession is just beyond me.

I'm still a slight dinosaur with my spreadsheet, but I have found some ways to make it easier and more efficient:

  • Have you heard of Google Docs? You can turn any document into a "Google Doc" and access it from anywhere where you have email. Oh boy was I excited when I learned about this!! Why is this so great to keep as a Google Doc? I can open it from anywhere; Spencer can also open the it from wherever he can get email and add in what he has spent. Efficient. Easy. I love it.
  • As I said, it's a sort of game for me to see how much I can save. I no longer write estimated outflows on the calendar (by memory) and add it up at the end of the month. How does that serve its purpose in terms of being a budget? By the end of the month, I could easily overspend if I don't know how much I have left in each category.
  • Want to know how my budget is broken down? The number at the top is our NET income (after tithing, taxes, medical, dental, etc.) - it's what we take home. I have categories for: rent and utilities (soon to be MORTGAGE!), insurance, doctor visits, groceries, gas, clothing, cable/internet/phone, car maintenance and repairs, food storage, clothing, miscellaneous, and entertainment. Most important is our category for savings. Since I work a litle bit from home, I add in what I have made at the end of the month. We have saved thousands over the last two months.
  • My grocery budget for the month is $350. We eat really well, but I find that number hard to stick to. I'd love to know what your grocery budgets are each month. I've asked around and think that $350 is on the low end of what others spend. For February I am up to $352 (eek) and obviously won't go shopping until Monday when March finally rolls around. My system is perfect for me, and I've even given it to others as a model. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but it works.
  • P.S. Our entertainment budget is only $75 a month. We go out to eat MAYBE once every 2-3 months. We don't go out much because I just can't justify it too easily (and because my homemade pizza is way better than what I can get at a restaurant). So, a large chunk of that $75 goes to a baby-sitter while Spencer and I do something free, like the temple.

So, do YOU budget? Do you stick to your budget? I think it's wise to have a budget, whether you are rich or not-so-rich. It's very interesting to break down your spending and to see where everything is going. And nowadays, who doesn't need frugality? If you don't budget, try it out.

Some other tricks:
--Buy your clothing in the off-season and learn when the stores have their sales. Old Navy has a huge blowout sale toward the end of every January, as well as every June/July--winter and summer sales, respectively. My kids always have at least a year of clothes, the next size up, in their closets. Two years ago I bought 3 GAP wool coats, normally $170 each, for $29.99. That October, I sold them on ebay and made about $40 each.
--If your Target has good clothes sales (I LOVE how my Target organizes clearanced clothes--by percentage discounted AND size!), and you are in need of good clothes, go on Tuesday's. Those are the days they typically mark clothes down, and you'll get the best selection. All my maternity dresses I bought in the offseason for $6.48. Most of my shirts from there cost me $3.74.
--Lastly, when you shop for paint, look for the "mis-tinted" rack. I didn't know this existed until just yesterday at Lowe's and happened upon a new gallon of paint, in a very light yellow color, for $5! That was a savings of $18.88! Just had to throw that one in there because I'm quite proud of myself... Coming soon...a light yellow laundry room!

Happy Friday.

Friday, February 20, 2009


One of my kids was playing in the car. I'll give you one guess who it was.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


We're not really into Valentine's. We do celebrate it but I have threatened Spencer with his life if he ever buys me roses on Valentine's and pays those seriously inflated prices. We've always been really low-key about it - I don't buy into the whole commercialization of love.

Well, Spencer still bought me something pretty amazing. It's been in the works for a while - our first house!! Prices are "low" and the timing is right. The best part - we've lived in the house already! That's also a downside - no one has lived there since we moved out last April and it needs some TLC. We are thrilled and will close in a few weeks. I'm also having mixed feelings about moving out of this house. It's nothing too special and is just a rental but it's also where I've had some of my most sad but peaceful and calming moments. Not quite sure yet if I'm more happy to escape this house once and for all, or if I'm more sad about leaving a place that's become so special and sacred since the loss of Macie. Regardless, I know we were able to buy the house in large part because of our little angel.

So imagine my surprise when, after we'd done the typical We're not doing anything for Valentine's, right?, Spencer managed to surprise me. A few weeks ago I read a heartbreaking article about those who have experienced stillbirth, and this group of photographers who volunteers to come in and photograph babies who have passed away. I wish so badly I had known about this a few months ago; while I got some pictures, they are not high quality and I've spent hours trying to edit them so Macie will look better. I really feel like this is something I should be involved in when it's not so raw for me, so I've been learning about photography as much as I can. I feel like I wouldn't just be a photographer...I'd be someone who has actually been there and could (and would) cry with those poor moms and dads. So, my ever-supportive husband surprised me with a new camera. I'm so excited about it, and only wish I knew how to use it! It's a Nikon and has more buttons and features than any other electronic device I've seen. I am signing up for a photography class in April (once the new house stuff has settled down) and then I'll see what happens. In our defense, we really did need a new camera so this wasn't completely un-prudent.

I wanted to post about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep in case someone YOU know (heaven forbid) could benefit from this someday. I wish I had known about it in October; I just contacted the hospital's representative here and she told me they just now found out about it and have started working with them. I'm glad other moms who are experiencing extreme disappointment and despair will have something beautiful and precious to remember their babies.

Spencer, thanks for buying me a house so we can stop moving (this will be #10 in 6 years!) and stay here with Macie. Thanks for the camera so I can, in the future, help others in a way I would have loved to have been helped.

Here's what part of it looks like. (Yes, we are replacing the front door.)

P.S. I started a photo blog so I have a place to put some of my pictures and scrapbook pages. I'm not even close to being "good" but I think this new hobby will be therapeutic for me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So normal

I remember having one baby and one baby/toddler. Changing 18 diapers a day was my life, and was so normal. Here I am today:

-Woken up by a happy 3 year old telling me what he wants for Christmas. 6:03 a.m.
-Spent 20 minutes digging a pretty blue bead out of that little boy's nostril. His constant sneezing didn't even help. His head lamp came in handy for me. Almost gave up and called the doctor.
-Waited an hour in line to register my other child for kindergarten, only to leave completely frustrated that the line hadn't moved. Need to go back later and try again. Even then, I'm just signing her up to be on the waiting list. Grrr. I'm sick of waiting lists. I even considered private school (for kindgergarten!!) for about 3 minutes. But who has an extra $4000 these days?
-JoAnn, Costco, and Walmart.
-Prepping for YW tonight where I'm teaching the Laurels how to sell on ebay.
-Need to edit a paper...sometime.
-My kids just ran in, naked bums, telling me they're doing the "naked dance." (Don't ask.)
-My house is a mess. I have train tracks running through every bedroom and hallway.
...and it's not even noon. I need chocolate.

Just another day. :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Heart Attack

Do you like my front door? Sorta cute, huh? Yeah, kinda...

And here is the other side. I have to tell you, I much prefer this side of the door. We heart attacked it this morning. It's rainy and blah today so after going on a walk and deciding it was wet and cold, we came in decided to make Valentine's. Some of them are...interesting...but I love how it looks. Emma was a huge participant, while Tyler sat on my lap and tried to turn the hearts into airplanes. Typical I guess. This was a fun activity because the three of us had to write down (well, I did the writing) what we love about everyone else on the hearts. I love what they came up with. Tyler wrote, "I love mommy because I like to kiss her." (Boy does he ever.) Emma wanted to make one for Aunt Carly and wrote "I love Carly because she goes to BYU and is going to get me ___ and ___ and ___ for Christmas." Ha! (Sorry Carly, you'd better save your pennies.)

Emma made a couple to take to Macie on Sunday. I don't have the heart (haha, unintended pun) to tell her they'll be destroyed within a day of sitting on her headstone.

Spencer, be thinking about what you'll write on your hearts tonight. :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Big 5

I think I must be one of the luckiest people alive. 5 years ago today Emma joined our family. She is the most sweet, kind-hearted, compassionate little girl I have ever known. For FHE last night, we talked about the day Emma was born and then went through her baby book and some of the funny things she has said. She loved every second of attention.

Some more about Emma:

*She is a pleaser. She wants to make others happy. She loves making others happy. I know this is a rare quality to find in someone so young. Her heart is so pure.

*She is the best sister Tyler (and Macie) could ask for. She plays with Tyler faithfully and they are the best of friends. I love to watch them interact. I can probably count on one finger (maybe two) the amount of times she has upset him. Emma also looks forward to our weekly visits to see her sister. She always sings her the latest song she's learned in Primary. Very sweet.

*She is stunning. Her big brown eyes get me every time. And her smile melts my heart. Spencer agrees. In fact, he's already nervous about the big birthday just 11 years from now.

*Emma is a joy to her pre-school teacher. Miss Darlene tells me almost every day how much she enjoys Emma. This makes me so proud - it's hard to know how your children do away from home and away from their parents. I know I don't need to worry.

*Emma LOVES doing her "homework." She asks for reading lessons every day. She's always had an affinity for learning. In fact, I really like taking her in to the doctor every year to watch her blow the doctor away.

I don't know how I got so lucky, but boy - I'm so glad I did!! Emma, I love you more than you could know. Thanks for showing me what being a mommy is all about.

Happy Birthday my girl.