Friday, January 31, 2014

End of Month Status: January

Happy Chinese New Year!

Horse year is suppose to be a fortunate year that brings luck and good things. Sounds excellent!

January, you were good.

Here is how you shook out.

Budget-This month we were able to put over $1,000 away. In just the first month! It makes me kind of sad that this money will be put towards a new kitchen in a home we will not be living in much longer (hopefully), instead of a big trip. In the long run though, it is providential and absolutely the way events should be transpiring.

We have done so, so good on our budget.

The only meals we ate out at were from Subway, and were both less than $15 each, for all 4 of us (+ an Ibotta rebate!)

We only bought what we needed. Which happened to include new clothes and shoes for my kid (growing too fast!). It was all bought on clearance online, and with Ebates rebates  (if you haven't signed up please consider clicking my link!) & extra coupon codes + free shipping.

I also committed to helping at the hospital about 12 hours a week, to bring in more income.

We had to get the car serviced ($171), had an enormous electricity bill ($369! usually around $240 as our entire house is electric, we have no other heat source), Our dog had an ear infection ($89), and I have had to get a tank of gas every week to get to work (about $160, but I will be reimbursed for this) . I also decided to support a friend who is running her first 35 mile Ultra Marathon with Team World Vision to provide clean drinking water to those in need ($25).

February's savings should be even better.

Health- I have only managed 1 run a week since working more, but have gotten out hiking or walking at least 4 times a week. I even share at least one of these ( #48Walks on instagram) , each week. My yoga practice is something I do daily, and I have added more meditation thanks to signing up for The Joyful Mother's Mamaste meditation group as part of a personal experiment.

Family- It has been good financially that I am working,  but this has come at a personal cost. My son is knee deep in serious separation anxiety. When I leave for work he is crying and begging me "don't leave me, mama!". Luckily he is with his Grandma and she takes excellent care of him. I have to remind myself that this is temporary.
I have been spending my mornings with him distraction free, and have a fun and interesting project or sensory time we can do together. I cannot say if it has helped or not.

House- Oh lord, this one I am making slow, slow progress on. There is such a wide range of things on this list that even when I cross 1 or 2 off a day it seems like they are instantly replaced by something else. Its an infuriating game of whack-a-mole.

I am so pleased with how well we did, and I am pumped about February!

I have many goals for this month,far too many to list here (not to mention some are downright boring..zzzz..) But I will still be focusing on saving, saving, saving & trying to get a few more runs per week in.

How did you do sticking to your goals in January?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Using What I have. Making Stuff I Want.

Next weekend I have scheduled some time to sort through our closets and dressers. This act is a prelude to Spring cleaning. This is not a task I necessarily like, but I feel like life is much easier after decluttering, and that is usually motivation enough for me. 

This decluttering results in a giant pile of stuff. Some will be sold, most will be donated, and some will be upcycled, salvaged, repurposed, DIY'd, and live happily again as something completely different.

 I am pretty creative and I can see multiple uses for most objects, so this process is trickier than it seems.The pile of things I just "decluttered" can very easily become another pile of "crap to make or do later".

I have to be ruthless during the decluttering and reorganizing process.

But let me explain- using things I already have is one of my favorite things. It kind of feels like free in my flawed logic.

I have limited myself to 5 upcycling ideas because I feel pretty confident I can get these done in a reasonable time frame. There a few things we legitimately need, and a few that I just legitimately want. I will be looking through our cast offs with these things in mind, and getting rid of the rest that afternoon.

Without further ado, my 5 upcycling projects:

1.Use your old clothes for rags!
 I cant believe more people my age dont do this .Cut up unserviceable clothes to use as household rags for everything. Cleaning, wiping dog paws, keep a set to use instead of paper towels, even cut some to use on your swiffer (wet, or dry). When you are done using them, they go right in The wash. We only use paper towels when company is over. No wasted trees, or money.

2. Before tossing any clothing- remove zippers and buttons and any usable cloth. They can be used for projects later. My grandma taught me this. She had a super impressive button jar. I kinda wish I still had it.

3. Make a sweater bed for a small pet. Too cute. This will be made as a gift for my neighbor. She has two adorable little dogs, and mentioned she wanted one of these.

 4. Make lace boot "socks" out of sweater sleeves- (more like leg warmers, but so comfy and cute). I ordered some last year. I was so excited when they finally came and then as I was opening up the package the buttons fell off of one. I was so mad! I will just make my own. I already have the lace, buttons,and a specific sweater in mind.

Image 1

 3. Make a sweater throw pillow

Cable Knit Decorative Pillow 
 I love cable knit ones like these I found for $29.00.  Pfffft- $30  for a pillow? That's almost a full tank of gas for a weekend getaway! I would much prefer the experience of an adventure more than a pillow I will probably only use for a short time anyway. A few stitches, a cast off sweater, and a throw pillow I already own? That is totally doable!

4. Patch some sweaters together to make a cozy couch blanket. I don't think I have enough sweaters (or time, or patience) for a big blanket, but I do for a small couch sized one. This will go with the throw pillow into the play room.

5.Repurpose an old pair of pants or a skirt into draft dodgers. 

We need one of these so bad! I plan to use a piece of pipe insulation that I already have, but you can fill them with just about anything.

 + Bonus points-we will be saving money on our energy bill! Tutorial for the one pictured here.

I'm looking forward to the end of this week, and the end of this month.

I can't wait to share our progress, with our budget and all of the other "goals" I set for myself this year!

Have you started your spring cleaning yet? What do you start with first?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Quotes and Motivation: Travel

A reminder. 

2/ 48Walks on a Sunday

These were taken at Tolmie State Park. This is a great park for kids. The trails are well kept, even boardwalks in places, and just long enough for little legs to run.

During the Summer months the beach is the perfect place for kids to enjoy some crab catching, sand dollar collecting, and general watery fun. It's not usually too crowded, even on our most Summery days.

It is definitely one of our favorites. 

This #48walks project, led by Alison Chino, has been super Interesting. My favorite part is seeing where all of the participants are in the world, and the places we are choosing to show. 

My family is a pretty outdoorsy lot anyway, and it has been fun to go out walking with an intention of showcasing these familiar twists and turns on our favorite woodland trails. 

There is a quiet peace I feel when walking in the Winter woods. There isn't a lot of foot traffic during the Winter, and I'm sure that plays a big part. 

I love the bare winter branches against the overcast sky & the dark hollows made by the understory brush. These will soon be little secrets. Still there, only hidden by the new Spring growth. 

 We will be there. Happily running the same trails, with new wonder.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

8 Ways to Use Christmas Discounts for Valentines Day

I love a good bargain, so naturally I am a clearance shopper. January is one of the very best times for people like me. Practically everything is on clearance!

During the month of January the most deeply discounted items are the leftover Christmas goods.

 Most people remember to stock up on clearance items for the following Christmas. I always, always buy new wrapping paper, and a few new things for the following Christmas. 

This is nothing new for us budget savvy folk.

For many, January is so full of resolutions, and purging, and organizing that they forget Valentine's Day exists until around February 1st. 

There are so many great deals that will make your  February self so thankful for your foresight. 

Many Christmas items can easily become Valentine's Day items, with a little imagination.

Yep, Valentine's Day in the Christmas section.

Too soon?

My February savings account doesn't think so!

Here is a list of things to buy right now at a huge discount to make your Valentine's day beautiful in both aesthetics and budget-friendliness.

1. Red and White Tissue paper.
 It's pretty affordable to begin with but I have come away with the big fancy packs for about $0.19 before. The possibilities are endless!


2. Red Dresses- its usually date night, after all! Show off your fitness resolution successes in a brand new red party dress.

3. Red sweaters and Cardigans. You can wear these pretty much year round as well.

4. Red Tights! to wear as is or for projects. These 2 are on my list.

18 Adorable DIY Clothes and Accessories for Valentine’s Day

5. Twinkle lights. Buy them now for like $1.00 per box and twinkle light your place up for a romantic evening.


6. Red ribbon. Apply where needed! Also good for wrapping birthday presents year round.

7. Red Dinnerware. If you are staying in this Valentines day, or if you make Valentine's day treats, some red dinnerware makes it all fancy.

8. Red and white candles. Candlelight is always welcome on romantic occasions. 

I've already gotten the twinkle lights and the tissue paper, and  will be making a few projects to decorate this place up for Valentine's day. The best thing about these projects? They are less than $1.00 each to make now that I have done my clearance shopping.

Creativity is important when you are on a budget. A budget does not mean you shouldn't have a good time, celebrate, give gifts, or decorate for holidays. It just means you have to be a bit more creative. From that necessity the very best ideas are borne.

Have you noticed any other Christmas items that could easily become Valentine's Day items? Share your ideas?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Weekend. Finally!

Hey weekend!

I've been working out of town all week, and it was so nice to not have an 120 minute commute to anywhere today. 

Of course, Saturdays are always tricky for me as I have to shift gears quickly to keep the kids entertained alone. My husband works Saturdays, so I am on my own. 

Even though all I actually want to do once a Saturday rolls around is lay on the couch drinking tea and reading something interesting, that is not going to be a reality for several more years. I am ok with that. Especially if I remember that when I get the time to myself I crave it will mean that my babies will be all grown, and I will be missing these days.

So today, despite a chill to the air, we ran around our local preserve and I took photos for the #48walks project led by Alison Chino. 

Love the idea, and I kind of feel like it is a visual relay race team, if that makes sense. 

I love being outside more than I can explain, if I sit inside all day long I am so irritable.  I am so thankful to live in such a gorgeous place, where the best days are spent playing with the kids out of doors.

 Thankful that nature is completely free entertainment.

Hope you are being good to yourself this weekend! 

Have a great one.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

6 Ways to Keep Your Budget on Track, Even at Target

Everyone has that store.

You go in needing dental floss, and come out with everythingyouthinkyouneedbutyoujustdontactuallyneed.
I have been shocked, at least a few times, when I get to the register and the total is $60+. Not because I do not keep track. I kept a running tally in my head of approximate cost.

That math becomes really, really bad at some point during the excursion though. The dollars I am spending in my head as I shove another thing in the basket may as well be printed with glittery unicorns and rainbows. It is just not real.

 Not until there is a tired looking cashier in front of me and a queue of impatient patrons behind me.
These places, I'm fairly certain, were designed to augment your senses. Also, designed to destroy your carefully prepared budget.

Some popular places include Target, Walmart, Costco, the mall, and even the drug store.
This is how I have been dealing with this:

1. Avoidance- If I do not go in, I will not spend the money. Simple right? Sometimes though, a girl needs some dental floss. See #2.

2. Use a list- Funny fact about me: I hate writing shopping lists. Don't ask me why. I just do. I love making to do lists, but shopping lists make me feel really irritable. At this point in time however, they are crucial. If you are on a budget, you need a list. YOU NEED A LIST.

3. Stick to that list!- Yeah, it sucks. Stores are full of cool stuff. There are more worthwhile things to do with your money. Keep focused on your list. (With 2 kids in tow this one is a struggle!)

4. Use a calculator- Instead of using your imaginary unicorn dollars you can keep track of exactly how much you will be paying at the register.

Protip #1: Input  the amount of the item before you put it in the basket.

Protip#2: Do not give this calculator to your toddler halfway through the shopping trip and expect an accurate balance. Bring them their very own or;

5.Shop Alone- Kids are distracting and they want stuff. Husbands can also be distracting, and they also want stuff. Friends, well they are distracting. They usually buy their own stuff, but their new stuff will inevitably "inspire" you to want stuff too. Just go alone. You, and your calculator, and your list.

6. Use that Amazon Prime- household items are often the same price or cheaper on Amazon + 2 day delivery right to my door. If you notice you are running out of something, check it out on the Amazon and see.

I went shopping this afternoon and I am pretty happy with how I did. I did not go over budget, and even came in way under budget at one store.

What is your budget killing store, and what do you do to conquer it?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Budget Quotes and Motivation: Think of Your Future Self


They have been with me all my life.

Not because I grew up in an "alternative way",  with little money but a whole lot of land. (I did)

Not because we were  sometimes broke and really struggling.   (We were)

It is because, well, I like them

When I was 13-16 I remember fantasizing about college. Getting out on my own,  what would that look like?
I would collect the newspaper, grocery adverts, my parent's utility bills, and a calculator. I would lock myself in my room, turn on my radio, and research. (My dad would be on the only good computer in the house at the time)

I would find an apartment and a job in the paper. Then I would calculate how much groceries, and utilities would cost. I would look into colleges around town and see what a semester might cost. I would add that in too.

I would get a solid amount. I would reach a happy balance. I would feel really quite pleased with myself that I had it all figured out. It was a great comfort at that time. I knew when the time came I would make it just fine.

It still is a great comfort.
It is not always easy, though.

This year we have made travel a priority. To do this though, we will have to follow a pretty strict budget.
I know many people who hate to budget. Who are vexed by it. Or derailed by impulses, (this coffee is good NOW, it wont make a difference if I save $3.00 at home).

I feel like budgets are of utmost importance. They create guidelines and boundaries. They ultimately give you so much more autonomy.

It may feel like the budget is in control for a while, but every step closer to the goal makes a difference. Even if it is only a tiny step forward,  forward is the right direction.
In fitness, and in finance, here are a few go to reminders.

Sometimes saying no to something now, feels even better when you remember you are  saying yes to something in the future.

Be patient.

The control you show today directly affects the freedoms you will have tomorrow!

Set your limits and respect them.

Do not let your today self rob your tomorrow self.

Here's to staying in control!

Are you still on board with your budget resolutions for this year?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sometimes You Just Have To Have a Setback

I feel like I've read this story before.

The heroine starts out on an epic quest, determined and focused on her goal. Nothing can stop her (you may even wish to add a cape to this heroine if it helps) from reaching it.

Then inevitably her best laid plans are thwarted.

At this point, said heroine, always finds her feet and ultimately defeats that which has sought to destroy her. Right?

Have you read this story too?

What I'm really trying to say is, I am experiencing quite a setback.

Just in the 1st week of 2014 I managed to put $375 into our savings. The next night, I discovered a very, very bad home repair issue. It is so bad that we will have to tear part of the floor in the kitchen up! There is costly home repair and then there is costlyhomerepair(!).

Despite being a bit discouraged, I am so thankful for these reasons:

1. I never liked that kitchen anyway. It functioned well, so I didn't mess with it too much. This is obviously a sign from the Universe telling me I have put up with it long enough.
2. This home will eventually be a rental home, a kitchen update will bring in more rent. Eventually. It is something that we can tick off the list of things we need to do to get this house rental ready.
3. I have been working at the hospital quite a lot this month, which is extra income that will hopefully help offset this new expense. Sure we might not get too far ahead, but we are also probably not going to move backwards either. Grateful that the opportunity came up.
4. Its super fun to play around designing new spaces. This is excellent motivation.

I will be having contractors come to look at it on Friday. At which time I may have an actual freak-out.

I'll get back to you.

Monday, January 6, 2014

RELAX!!! 25 Ways to Reduce Stress for Free!

I say "Relax" about a billion times a day.

Usually it is said this way :
"Just relax! Its fine."

This works all the time for my kids.
 No matter what "it" actually is. (for the record- It is usually a toy issue, I wouldn't say this if they were on fire or bleeding.)

I say it in my head too when I am getting frustrated, or overwhelmed.
It usually works... sometimes.

But I thought I would compile an actual list of free stress busting activities. Because as this year starts and we often feel the need to put a whole new load of demands in our already demanding lives. I figure, we should all just RELAX a little.

While spa days, yoga retreats, and beach vacations are nice and relaxing- we happen to be saving for something even more life changing and spectacular, and you might be too. So for now- try these.

Bonus points for combining several of these in one day!

1. Sing.

2. Dance. Check Youtube. Hulu. Or Netflix

3.Take a walk. Walking boosts endorphins in as little as 10 minutes.

My little guy walking

4. Bonus points if you take a walk with a friend.

5. Do yoga

6. Find a quiet place and just be.

7. Meditate.

8. Play a game. 

9. Call a friend or family member. Bonus points for skyping.

10. Play with your kids. Then hug them, a lot.

11. Take a bath.

12. Drink something hot. Even if it is just water with a lemon.

13. Write something.

14. Draw something.

15. Help someone else out.

16. Go play outside. Nature is the original stress reducer.

17. Find a source of water. Rivers, lakes, creeks, ponds, or ocean. Doesn't matter, just find some and do what you want in or near it.

18. Breathe deeply.

19. Visit the library, read in a quiet corner.

20. Stretch your body.

21. Say something nice to yourself, and mean it.

22. Take a nap!

23. Do toe-ga. (Warning: if feet kinda skeeve you out- skip this one)

24. Take a hike.

25. Go for a run.

I could really keep going on and on. You don't need money to beat stress. You just need to prioritize your time!

What are some of your thrifty stress busters?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Quotes and Motivation

Just go for it! Even if the outcome isn't exactly as you planned it, it will probably be way better than if you do nothing.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Blog!

Well hello, shiny new blog.
I think a safe place to begin is to state the purpose for this blog. A mission statement, if you will.
This blog was created as a place to collect all of my personal favorite money saving/making/spending tips and ideas. A daily reminder to focus on our financial health, and ultimately so we can save enough money to travel. A lot. Maybe even for an extended period of time.  Within the year.
Also a daily reminder to keep myself fit and healthy, without a gym membership.
My goals for this year are pretty simple. Commitment is the hard part. I am confident this blog will help keep me accountable and creative.
+ its just fun to try new things.
Here is to a very focused and committed new year!
Happy 2014!!!!!!!!