Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Things You Don't Spend Money On

I read a post on another blog that listed ten things the writer doesn't spend money on. I didn't save the link so I can't share her list but I thought I'd see if I could make my own.

  1. eBooks - I can't say that I have never purchased an eBook but almost every book on my Kindle I got for free. There are tons of websites outside dedicated to sharing free books. Quite a few of them are books I would have paid for but waited long enough and didn't have to. 
  2.  New Clothing - This is more recent because I used to shop a lot. The vast majority of my wardrobe came from the thrift store or as a hand-me-down. There are a few times where I do buy something new for myself if it is majorly on sale and I need it. Recently I needed some tank tops and Old Navy had them on sale for $2. My wardrobe is really simple so I can get buy with thrift store clothes and super clearance finds. It's a little more difficult for the boys because they grow fast and boys clothes are often too worn out to make it to a thrift store. We do find things though and often cut off jeans to make shorts. I'm planning to start making more of my own things in the future.
  3. Makeup - Again a recent transition, but since I no longer wear makeup I no longer have to purchase any. 
  4. Soda/Juice - Now that I've kicked my soda habit we very rarely purchase these items. Once in a while we'll grab a bottle of something, but it is really rare now.
  5. Cleaning Products - Technically this is brand new. I have a pretty big supply of some eco-friendly cleaners but once they are gone I won't be buying more. I'll be using vinegar, baking soda, etc.
  6. Cards - We don't do a lot of cards (something I want to change) but when we need one I let the boys make them. They enjoy it and we already have everything we need.
  7. Cable (sort of) - I want internet at home and get it through the cable company. The require their most basic TV plan (at least they did, I should check if that is still the case) to get internet so we have that. We do have Netflix but it's cheap and eliminates the need for higher channels. 
  8. Salon Services - This one is reaching a bit too. I do pay for haircuts and waxing, and I'm happy to do it. Sometimes you have to recognize areas where it pays to spend money! But, I don't tan, get manicures (had one once when I had a gift certificate) or pedicures. I can do all of that (except tan, I'm proud to be pasty) at home. About half the time the boys dad will cut their hair so paid cuts for them are sporadic.
  9. My Weight Watchers Membership - Not something everyone needs or has to be sure, but once I made goal I went to work for the company. While it may not be something you do, there may be something you want that you could trade services for or work for in order to use the service free.
  10. Feminine Hygiene Products - Sorry guys, but this is an easy way to eliminate spending. Personally I just hate dealing with it and the fewer periods a woman has the lower her risk of cancer so I just stay on birth control that doesn't contain the sugar pills. Alternatively you could purchase a Diva Cup one time and not have to worry about this purchase again.

So what do you NOT spend money on?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Best Proposal Ever

So this is a little off of the normal topic here but I just had to share. A friend of mine shared this on Facebook today and I literally laughed and cried through the whole thing. I have zero, and I do mean zero, faith in relationships right now and this managed to warm my heart. It also made me want to marry Issac!

Now on Facebook!

Now that I'm feeling all legit with my new blog header, I've created a page on Facebook. If I did things correctly the posts should show up on that page so you can read them here or there. When I remember how I'll create a button to get you to the Facebook page faster. So go "Like" me!

Monday, May 28, 2012

New Header!!!

So my most amazing friend designed a new blog header for me!!!! I am so in love with it that there aren't enough exclamation points! She's simply an amazing person in general, but she also does this stuff for a living. She whipped this up in no time for me with almost no direction from me at all. She knows me so that helps, but she's also just that good.

She has her own business called Mountain West Consulting so if you need anything like this...or really just about anything you can imagine you need to check her out!

Did I mention that I love it? I feel all legit now!

End of Year Gifts

School is almost over here and I wanted to make a few things for the teachers and the boys classmates. Thanks to the wonders of Pintrest I found some great ideas!

The first one was the teacher gifts. My budget is very limited right now and so low cost was key. I found this idea that uses those plastic cups with straws that are so popular right now. Less than four dollars each for the cups, I had tons of those drink mix packets from a bargain purchase not too long ago, and the boys made the cards.

Here is my finished product.

I wasn't planning on doing anything for the boys to give their friends purely because of cost, until I stumbled upon these super cute freezer pop gifts.

Here is my finished product. I'm slightly worried about these popping so I'm going to send them in on the last week when they won't be carrying much home with a note for the teacher telling her to let them know to be careful. I hope I don't end up with a bunch of angry parents! The pops came in a bag of 36 for less than three dollars and we already had the ribbon.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

So I'll Probably Never Be a True Minimalist

I mentioned that after my major purge I still feel like there is too much stuff in my house. I've gone through a second time in most rooms now and a decent amount is going out again, but there is still a lot left. It's taught me that I'm probably never going to be one of the minimalists that I envy or live in a teeny tiny house. I just have too much I can't or don't want to part with. I know part of this is that I have two small kids, but I also have personal hang-ups with stuff.

Let's take my shoes. I went through them this evening determined to cut the number down a lot. Even after the purge I still have fifty pairs :( Talk about consumerism! Now to defend this just a little bit, I have a ton of flip flops and some people don't even consider those when they count. I also have several pairs of tennis shoes for my workouts and since I worked in a gym. I like to keep tennis shoes that are past their workout prime for getting muddy or dirty outside. But the rest are purely because I love shoes...mostly high heels. I don't wear them often anymore because they're ruining my feet, but I like to take them out once in a while.

My other issue is books. There are no words for my addiction to books. They're stuck everywhere they can be stuck in my house and I won't part with them unless I hated them. I'm pretty OK with this addiction though. There are far worse things.

So, I may never live in a tiny house, but I've pared down enough now that I know what I have. I won't buy more simply because I forgot that I already own one (maybe with the exception of books). My new job doesn't require me to dress up so my clothing is adequate and I don't need to buy anything more in that area until it's worn out. I plan to use up what we have, upcycle or recycle when we can and just be more conscious overall. I also plan to totally avoid the new shoe boutique that just opened downtown even though I love supporting the local economy!


I can now update on my fantastic day that I posted about a few days ago. I have been asked to return to my position as a Technical Writer that I was laid off from when the economy tanked!! I'm so excited about this! Of all of the jobs I've had this one was my favorite by far. The company is fantastic to work for and it really appeals to my nature. I like to write (even boring stuff like this LOL) and I love not having to interact with the public. People always tell me I'm friendly and a "people person" but the truth is, I much prefer being alone or in very small groups. This is especially true in a work environment which is why I've often pursued working from home. I just do a lot better when people aren't breathing down my neck and this job was great for that.

If being unemployed and then under-employed has taught me anything it is that you need multiple income streams. This job is going to allow me to cut back on the additional work that I had to do to keep afloat, but it will provide me with a normal schedule and allow me to pursue things that could bring income without the pressure. I'm hoping to get some stuff up on Etsy and possibly do a little writing. Still trying to finish school too so I'm really excited about a normal schedule. So that is my very happy news and I'm really looking forward to June fourth when I get to go back!

In other news, I know I haven't posted any spending updates. Truth be told, I fell off the tracking wagon, but my last day at my old job is June first and I figure that's a great day to start up again. Fresh month, fresh job and I'm ready to get back to watching my spending as well as my weight (which has been creeping back up) by tracking with WW again.

Life is good!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fantastic Day

You know how you wake up in the morning and expect your day to go a certain way. Then everything goes in a totally different direction? Well, that was my day today. I can't post details just yet, but just know that it is very good news!

Because of said good news I spent more money than I care to admit given my current project on an impromptu celebration with my kids. It was worth it though!

Lot's of changes on the way!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Quit Washing My Hair

That should get some attention. Well, I didn't totally quit and hopefully my hairdresser isn't reading this, but I am going to quit using shampoo. In fact I already did...three days ago. I haven't completely lost my mind or crossed over into full fledged hippie, but there are a lot of good reasons not to use shampoo and most people who do it find that their hair has never looked or felt better.

I have always had difficult hair. My hairdresser is a miracle worker and always manages to make it look and feel amazing for a day or two, but then I mess it all up and it feels heavy and gross again. She always asks me if I wash it in gasoline. I promise I don't, but I do think all of the shampoo is building up in between visits. So I quit.

There are lots of different methods and advice out there about going "poo free". Doing a quick Google search I came upon this blog (which I plan to read more of) and her instructions are simple and easy to follow. She also has a little bit about why people are choosing to do this.

I have a feeling that my hairdresser is going to think I've lost my mind when I tell her not to use shampoo on my hair, but I have my fingers crossed that this will heal my hair. I'm pretty freaked out about the possibility of a long transition period, but I hope I'm one of the lucky ones that gets through that quickly. If not, I apologize to those around me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spending Updates

I haven't updated the spending for a few days so I'll just run down the past few days quickly. I got behind on writing it all down, so I can't remember the exact breakdown of everything.

Thursday I spent $15.04 on gas because once again I hadn't made it to the place I wanted to get gas.

Friday was a bigger spending day. I spent $26.93 at Target. My purchases here were not typical, but they will become typical. I bought some Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, Borax, bar soap, baking soda...oh and bananas. The bananas were not connected. I plan to use these things to make my own liquid dish soap and detergent. I will keep you updated on those projects. I also spent $50.73 at Martins for some groceries.

Today I spent $30 on gas and $6.52 at a little bulk foods store. Only one of the three things I purchased there was necessary. I needed flax meal, but I didn't need the candy or spicy snacks! I also spent $10 at the farmer's market on bread and mint.

So it has been a pricey few days. Monday is payday so a whole lot more will be spent on bills :(

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homemade Dish Detergent and Yesterday's Spending

Yesterday's spending was about as exciting as the day before. My oldest son had is first round of allergy shots and a little mommy anxiety caused a few stops on the way home.

Dairy Queen milkshakes for all - $8.29

Thrift Store - $5.04 - The purchases here never make me feel bad though because the money goes to a good cause. My oldest got a book, I got some buttons for a craft project, and my youngest got a storage box. Now, the best part about the storage box is that he was begging me for one just like it at Michaels the other day and I told him we'd find something for him to use. The one there cost $5 and we found one that was just like it here for only $1!

Food Lion - $14.46 I can't remember the total breakdown here

So total for the day $27.79

Now, on to dish detergent. As I start to use up the household products I normally use, I want to replace them with a natural homemade alternative if possible. I do not have a dishwasher so I wash everything by hand and I'm getting close to running out of dish detergent. So, since I'm on my way to work and don't have time to Google, I hope my readers can share some ideas!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Living in a Commune

I love to pick on my mother about my name. I tell people that she named me after a cult leader's wife and it makes her nuts. But she sort of did. I was named after Emmy Arnold who was the wife of Eberhard Arnold who founded The Society of Brothers. They still exist under a different name today and still live communally.

I remember once as a child my parents considered the idea of us going to live there. At the time I was pretty glad they didn't do it, but now the idea doesn't sound totally nuts. I mean I wouldn't want to live in a religious commune because that really would feel like a cult to me, but I like the idea of a "village". One of my "internet friends" had a really horrible experience today and she could have really used a village to help her through it. I also have lots of other friends (married and single) that could use the support of others around them. I know it sounds odd in today's society, but I like the idea of living close to a lot of people I care about and us all working together to help each other survive and thrive.

So who's up for creating a commune?

Yesterday's Spending and Caffeine Withdraw

I was so worn out when I got home from work last night that I didn't post an update on the day's spending.

$50 - Field trip for oldest child
$5 - Field trip for youngest child
$10 - Gas

So I'm sure you're wondering where my oldest child is going that costs $50. It is to the National Zoo in DC and that cost is for both of us to go. We are packing our own lunch for the trip even though it is a pain carrying it around the entire time, but I'm sure he will want a souvenir and I remember how much I enjoyed that as a child so I'd rather spend the money on that.

The $5 field trip could have been a $3 trip but he wanted to eat lunch at the camp and I can't feed him for $2 so I figured that was a pretty good deal.

I needed more than $10 in gas but I didn't realize that I was so close to empty and I didn't want to fill up at the station that was closest to me because of the price there. So that was day one on my new radical no spending plan. I highly doubt every day will be that easy.

One of the big things I waste money on daily is diet soda. I am totally addicted! Like I wouldn't drink anything else if given the choice. I also tell myself I'll only have one if that's all I buy, but then I end up spending about $1.69 per drink multiple times throughout the day. That can seriously add up! So, as part of this project I am giving them up. I've tried this before and failed, so I'm hoping the money part of it motivates me.

The big problem is, I'm not someone who can wean myself off of them. If I have one I want more. So I have to go cold turkey and that leads to some nasty caffeine withdraw. So, today has been one giant headache! Hopefully tomorrow will be easier.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Something Radical

Well this will be something radical for me at least. I'm reading the book Your Money or Your Life and one of the steps in the book is to write down everything you spend for a month to evaluate how much of your energy is spent paying for those things. I tried it for a few days and was quickly shocked. But I got kind of lazy so now I'm going to blog about it so I can't be lazy anymore.

But there is a larger goal here for me. I want to stop spending. Now I'm not insane, I know I have to buy food and pay bills. I'm not going to become a hermit or totally do without things that are enjoyable. But, I spend a lot of money I don't have to and I want to see if I can cut that down. As I started writing this post my son came up to me with a permission slip that required five dollars. Obviously, he's going on that field trip, but it was just a good reminder that little bits go out all the time. I also hope for this experiment to help me. My oldest son has been diagnosed with severe allergies and the treatment is certainly not going to be free. Just gas getting him back and forth with be more than my current budget can handle, so I hope the cutting back will help offset this.

I'm putting some conditions on this project. First, we are not just going to totally stop all entertainment or eating out, but we will look for low cost options and cut back. I will not cheat anyone out of what they are worth. That means I will pay a fair price for goods and services and not skimp. I'm still going to my hairdresser and I'm still going to tip her. She provides a valuable service to me. Trust me, no one wants me to cut my own hair. As I run out of current products I'll ask for advice on their replacements, so I hope my readers will help me. I'm probably still going to buy too many books. It's a disease I tell you!

So, I'm excited about this. I'll try to chronicle my spending daily.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

High Maintenance Consumer

I have decided that I need to become much more serious about this blog. Partially because I'm an attention whore, but mostly because if I post here on a regular basis it will keep me on track and give me some way to watch my progress. This means that I need your help. I know that a few people read here when I do post something, but I need more (see attention whore comment above). I need more feedback, I need you to share me with your friends. I need people to keep me on track. I need strangers and friends. It's the only way I'm going to commit myself to this. My personality require accountability which is why WW went so well for me (I need help there too, but that's a whole new post). So please, help me people!

Now, on to the meat (hehe) of this post. For years I have had a problem that I didn't want to own up to. I'm a bargain addict. I'm a shopping addict too. I just love going out and finding a deal on just about anything. Heck, I have another blog that I neglect that is devoted to bargains (going to do better about that blog too). Nothing would please me more than coming home with a pile of stuff that I'd acquired for next to nothing thanks to sales and coupons. I had the makings of a great little stockpile and always had the newest products. Don't get me wrong, I didn't buy things I couldn't use but who needs twenty five bottles of shampoo just because they were really cheap? As you have seen if you've followed my purging process the last time, I had so much stuff that I didn't even know what I had so I was buying more because I didn't know what I had a backup of.

Now I still don't believe in paying full price for anything if I can keep from it. I do love a bargain. But all of that purchasing led me into a heap of debt. Yes, even the nearly free items add to a greater total and the bill still has to be paid. But more than that, I spent a little here and there on bargains that I should have been saving for emergencies which is where the bulk of the debt came from. And what did I have to show for it? Nothing special that's for sure.

But that's all in the past. I can't take back how I spent then, I just have to change it now. I want out of a job that I hate, I want to not have to work every waking moment of my life, and I want the freedom to pursue things that make me happy. I also want to do things that are better for my family, the community and the environment. Changing how I live and how I consume is going to be a big thing for me. I'm a consumer, I'm high maintenance, and I need to change that. Hold me accountable people!