Friday, December 30, 2011

It's his party and I'll cry if I want to!

Even though New Years isn’t quite here yet, I’d say it is safe to say we survived the Holidays. Our budget for Christmas gifts, dinners and parties worked out beautifully! We made sure with each month’s breakdown, we always had an idea of how much more money we’d need at that point to put aside and truthfully it all could not have gone better!(Unless, of course, Santa had brought us the winning lotto ticket or blue prints for where to strike oil or gold in our own backyard) But really, I was the one whose survival could have been leaning toward a Mama-sized meltdown. It was never a question for my Husband. He is pretty laid back most of the time and by now has a general idea of when to take a front seat to my insanity and just enjoy or jump into the craziness and lend an oven-mitted hand. Even our little man was more than a trooper. Faced with the non-stop over stimulation of Christmas Eve, his own 2nd Birthday Party, Christmas Day and all of my 'must have' memories cram packed in between, he still was a picture perfect little boy!
But me, I am the one who builds up this idea in my mind of all the wonderful plans of what I’d like to do for the Holidays. And now with our son’s Birthday celebrations added, my list of ‘must-haves’ has probably at least doubled in size. We have to bake this (and this and this and this and this), hang the decorations, take a Christmas card photo, visit with Santa, attend one Christmas/Holiday light/music show, drive around and see the lights, find some snow, watch Christmas movies… etc..etc..etc. And then with the hosting of our little man’s 2nd Birthday, I had even more grand plans of how I wanted things to go down. So needless to say, I can easily become one stressed out Mama. (by my own doing of course!) I made a point though, to keep myself in check as much as possible, after all, things don’t have to go perfectly to make a great memory and Lord knows with a toddler on your heels, plans can change in an instant…or just take hours longer to get started than you had anticipated (or come to an end even quicker!).
Harder than keeping a harness on my overly zealous memorandum, was watching my precious little boy officially leaving behind babyhood and making a full on leap into toddler hood. I find it almost impossible to wrap my mind around the fact that this little being was once nestled inside of my belly, all safe and warm. Whose personality and gorgeously handsome looks was only something I could dream of. And who then started off life so tiny (and quite wrinkly!) and has now grown into his own little person with ideas and imagination and opinions. Who is now not just off and running, but jumping and skipping and somersaulting all over the place(even in the middle of the Target)! Whose ‘repeat everything I hear’ button is firmly turned ON 99% of the time and whose keen observation for only having to see something once before he can do it himself, has now taken hold. Whose little heart has started to develop empathy for other’s bumps and bruises that might require hugs and kisses for healing (or a barrage of concerned questioning concerning a possible poopage in the pants and a diaper change needed if someone should happen to accidentally pass gas). We leave behind the stages of finger pointing and grunting and instead praise the fact that he now calls people and things by their name. Hello to the wonderful world of toddler reasoning (such as believing honey is an acceptable request for breakfast, lunch and dinner; you must always have a cup of milk and water with every meal and rubber rain boots are the must have choice of footwear whether out of the house or in).

Amazing hardly begins to describe witnessing the transformation of life in your very own child that you have helped to create and are now helping to shape and mold. I am proud to admit I was able to hold it together during the party. Before and after however, might have been a different storyJ I did shed a few tears over the fact that this little creature is growing and changing before my very eyes and that he will never again be as little today as he was yesterday. Despite the fact that a 2ft 11inch, honey fingered, milk mustached, rubber booted toddler can melt my heart in one look, I really AM one tough M.O.B. (mother of boy!)….as long as you can look past my blubbering face.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Budgeting for Baby

Can't believe my little guy is already
almost 2 years old!

There are reports every day about how the economy has become a huge factor in family size. Or the option of whether or not to have a baby at all! I hate to become this kind of statistic, but right now that is exactly what we are. A living statistic and example of how we cannot afford to bring baby #2 on board yet and I have to just plain sucks! I know that if we did get pregnant tomorrow, (No my husband did not magically grow a uterus…when I say ‘we’,I mean ME) we would be fine. After all, our favorite little guy was a plan brought on from the Big guy upstairs and that seems to have worked out more than just fine.J But then, I also couldn’t afford to take more than my ‘c-section mandatory’ 6 weeks off work when he was born and that is not something I want to have to go through again. I’ve said before, leaving my little tater tot for work each day still tugs at my heartstrings and I can’t imagine having to leave my poor husband, with his split shift sleep schedule (yay for graveyard…not!), alone with a never-sit-still-toddler and an infant that has NO interest in a sleep schedule at all.
My ultimate goal is to be able to stay at home period or at the very least work part time only, but even if I do have to go back to work, I’d like to be able to take my full FMLA 12 weeks off. We’ve been working on our zero dollar budget for about four months now and it’s been going great for the most part! We have had to put more into our gift/Christmas fund this Holiday season so as to make sure we are more apt to cover all the kiddos in the family including our own. As well as being prepared for celebrating our Christmas Eve cuddle bug’s 2nd birthday. Over all though, everything has been going pretty smoothly. We’ve had things come up here and there but because we’ve been putting money aside every month dedicated to the particulars, nothing has really rocked the boat, so that’s great news. But we are nowhere near having enough debt paid down to feel comfortable adding to our brood.
This is me. The original Octo-mom! 
Most days I can remember very clearly why this is a great plan to wait…..most days. But then there are the days when I see my son around a baby and all he wants to do is give hugs and kisses and even insist on holding baby’s hand while the diaper gets changed; and while I am not na├»ve enough to think he would be like this every day once a new little person enters his domain and is there 24/7, I can’t help but feel my heart melt and my reasoning turn to a mucky mess. I always imagined having a house-full and that my kids would be close in age. I love the thought of my children being little buddies. To have that constant companion and comrade in tall tale adventures, a co-conspirator in driving Mommy & Daddy crazy when we find our living room wall has now become their own personal artwork display. And of course sometimes they will fight like cats and dogs. But no matter the “She crashed my Lego tower!” or “He stuck a boogie in my hair!” spat, witnessing the loving moments of their bond would be so worth it! Each month that goes by I see that gap between my little monkey and his would-be sibling getting bigger and bigger. And somehow this just doesn’t quite seem fair. Since when does a piece of green paper determine the amount of love in a household? (Not that ours doesn’t already feel like it’s bursting at the seams) But why should our yearly income be the deciding factor in aiding in the creation of another miracle?

Because, even a miracle costs a pretty penny these days! And with the amount of debt we’re working on…we’d be pulling out our hair (and probably trying to auction it on e-bay) pretty quickly.
I’ll admit, I have been more than blessed to lead the life I’ve always dreamed of, thus far. An amazing husband who tolerates my crazy ways and scatter brain tendencies better than I could have hoped for, a beautiful home to call our own (in about 15-20 years anyways!) and the most precious and spirited, sweetest, smartest, goof-ball God ever made! But when you have a kid as amazing as I do, why stop now?! My visions of my family didn’t just include one child…they included MANY! Enough to give my husband a deer in the headlights-slow-head-shake-no-way-YOUARENUTS-kind of appearance. So while I know that my own family baseball team may never come to fruition, it also certainly doesn’t have to include an only child. Some day my little guy will have a brother or sister to call his own, to love on and pick on and giggle with, and our hearts will be even fuller (hard to imagine!) when we watch our family grow. And I will quiet this baby fever madness inside of me…at least for a little while.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

*~*Ode to Holiday Joy*~*

Listen…do you hear that? …If you’re real quiet you can hear the click click click of the roller coaster just about to crest the top of the of the track before it goes speeding down into the rush of the ride that is the Holidays! Halloween is just around the corner and before we know it, that click click click will be the sound of Santa’s trusty brood clip clopping across the rooftop!
Many people look upon this time of the year as nothing but stress amid jam-packed schedules, but for me I relish it all! I am counting down the days to Christmas before we even hit February of the New Year. Yes, I admit I may be the exception to the rule when it comes to my love for the holidays. Christmas music is never out of rotation for me. It is almost disgusting how many Christmas CD’s I own (35 to be exact!). I listen to it all year round because it reminds me of the feelings of love and hope I feel at this time of the year. An instant mood lifterJ
It’s hard to ignore the way the winter chill seems to warm our souls. Once we hit Thanksgiving, the mood changes immediately. It’s as if someone has sprinkled magic into the cool, crisp air. Everyone’s hearts appear polished and shiny as we regard one another with a hopeful spirit. It makes me positively giddy just thinking of all the new memories I’ll be making with the people I love. (If you are not a lover of the Holidays, I recommend you just keep your distance because Christmas seems to radiate out of my being from now until New Years and there’s a strong chance I’ll make you want to punch me out of annoyance and I really prefer not to have a black eye in my Family Christmas Card photo).
Traditions new and old are always the top of my list. Thanksgiving Turkey with family members gathered round, counting our blessings. (A mean poker party to follow of course!)  Decorating the house (inside & out) with lights and garlands. Putting up and trimming the tree, adorned with home made ornaments from years past and creating new ones to hang beside them. (Caution: trimming the tree is not to be taken literally. Those Norelco hair trimmers don’t take too kindly to pine needles). We used to go to the tree farm every year but we had two years in a row where my husband’s back was out around this time of the year and let me tell you, sawing down a 6 foot blue spruce on your own is no easy task! (And neither is dragging it through the mud all the way to the car). So the second year this happened, we both agreed we would bite the bullet and purchase a ‘fake’ tree which we’ve used now every year since it saves us a few $$.
          I always look forward to spending an entire weekend with my Mom and my sister, (freckled with flour, stained with butter, dogs-a-barkin’) baking every favorite holiday treat we know of. Including, of course the sugar cookies that EVERYONE (much to their disgruntlement) has the esteemed honor of helping decorate. (Somehow we always end up with a few angels and gingerbread men that are disturbingly frosted anatomically correct…I will not name the person who usually happens to create these Michelangelo-esce masterpiece works of art that really deserve to be recognized).
          Excitement over the first snowfall, spiced cider and hot chocolate warming our bellies as we enjoy all of the Christmas Classics and some of my personal favorite Christmas Movies as well. (I am not ashamed to admit I am also an avid collector of Christmas Movies and have about 44 in my collection). Reading “Holly & Ivy”, “The Little Toy Soldier”, “Santa Mouse” and of course “The Night Before Christmas” snuggled up in front of the fire. The rich scents of cinnamon, apple, plum and many winter spices weaving their way through my home; their fragrances invitations of fond memories past.
          Braving the cold, and sometimes crazy, winter weather and the always crazy Christmas crowds to head to the mall and find that perfect gift for the people you love. (Whether it’s something practical or just plain knee-slapping-hilarious!) Wrapping the gifts with such excitement over imagining the receiver’s face when they open it with either a smile of happiness or laughter. And then the great anticipation electrifying the air on Christmas Eve, waiting for the jolly old man himself, (Santa Claus!), to make his grand appearance while we dream of the gifts we’ll find the next morning. My sister and I used to write an entire play every year, telling the history of some classic Christmas character or inventing a new one in a completely inappropriate and disturbing way. (Complete with at least a few re-written holiday numbers with lyric sheets for everyone for the sing-along that would follow) One year was a story about a bloated reindeer with a serious need for some bean-o who saved Christmas with a (literally), gas powered (and awful smelly!) sleigh. Another time we re-wrote the fun spirited “Here Comes Santa Claus” song that everyone knows into a rousing rendition of “Here Comes Menopause” that left everyone wondering how an 11 year old knew some of this stuff.

          I love every blessing and memory, all infused with love, that I have from this time of the year. And I know that God took notice of my heart for Christmas because he sent me the absolute greatest gift on Christmas Eve in 2009. My beautiful baby boy! It is beyond perfect that I, (the lover of ALL things Holiday related), would be blessed with my very own little Christmas angel! My joy and excitement for the Holidays has blossomed even more now that I have the gift of God’s love in my child to celebrate every day of the year and especially at this time of the year when we celebrate his birthday! Sharing traditions with my little one (and the other(s) to follow someday) and creating all of the same kinds of wonderful memories I have for the Holidays is what brings me the greatest joy. I can only pray they develop and share the passion I feel for spreading cheer. And that we will all be huddled in antsy-pants excitement at the front of the line whenever this roller coaster comes to town! 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Child Chit Chat Overload

The other day my Grandma called my mom and asked if I ever talk about anything other than my son.  She was (half) joking of course, but I’ll admit, it’s true! She and I still write letters back and forth since she will never bring herself to invest in an unnecessary computer that would do nothing but clutter up her home, and my letters do pretty much consist of the goings on of my 21 month old. After all, I don’t think stalking a giant spider until my husband has the chance to kill it or forgetting to put the garbage cans out really qualifies as headline news. Let’s just say it’s not anything to ‘write home about’.  There isn’t much that changes in my day to day life. But when it comes to our little sprout, his world is constantly growing.  Today is always different than yesterday. He is constantly learning something new and I can’t help but get excited about every new accomplishment. Whether it’s piecing together a few more words than two days ago, (even if it is “Oh my! Fart?”- Or my favorite “I love you”), babbling incoherently while looking me right in the eye like this totally makes sense (let me tell you, it doesn’t make a lick of sense but it sure is cute!), insisting on using a big boy cup instead of a sippy cup (and then proceeding to splash half the contents all over the floor), asking to use the potty over and over again (only to sit on there for a maximum 2.5 seconds), putting his stuffed monkey, Benny down for a nap with a blankie and a kiss, or dragging a stool to the baby gate  to climb over it and up the stairs to follow me. I may shake my head at him now and then (or have one of those days when I’m counting down the minutes to nap time) but it never ceases to amaze me what he is learning to do, and even if it includes making my heart leap into my throat (dive bombing over the side of the couch), I still find myself one incredibly proud Momma!
Not every ‘new’ thing he learns is top of the ‘fun’ list though. Such as one of his current little nap strikes he’s been on for over a week now! His longest one so far! It seems every month or so, he will go maybe three days without a nap. He’ll just sit in his crib, babbling away to himself for hours. It doesn’t matter what I do, he just won’t sleep. But considering how great of a sleeper he is over all, we don’t really complain. Usually, these streaks don’t last long…but THIS one. This current Nap Strike of his has been going on now for 8 days. (It’s making me start to think this kid may be channeling Gandhi in protest).  And couple that up with his newest fad of removing every single item of clothing, including his diaper, any time he’s either supposed to be sleeping or has just woken up (I guess nude jammies are the latest fashion choice of toddlers?)….and this just ain’t cutting it.  I don’t know about most people, but I am not a fan of washing pee stained bedding twice every day. Basically my life was starting to look  like one of those Tide commercials where “My tide is the 2 gallon bucket loaded with Febreeze that I go through in less than one week playing laundry maid to my Birthday-suit prone toddler”….Uhhh, no thanks.
So finally today, I tried hanging up a dark sheet over his window. About 20 minutes into his designated ‘nap time’, he was out. Success!!! 
His new choice of bare bum freedom has me wondering though, with all these great new diaper choices they have these days; designer fashions like ‘poo in blue’ jean, over night mega soaker hold, little movers and shakers, and now the easy slip on for the non stop on the go go go-ers, why the heck hasn’t someone designed duct tape tab diapers for the not yet potty trained, but think they are bigger than their pee and poo holding britches?! Come on, I need something stronger than Velcro to keep that sucker strapped on! I doubt that I am the first Mom to think this world would be a better place with a child-proof diaper…so what’s the hold up here?!
            The point is, I could go on and on with all these great new conversation starters now that my life revolves around my main little man.  But not everyone is as interested as I am in how many animal sounds or dance moves my miniature cutie has mastered.  So I guess until I learn how to widen my topics of interest, I’ll just adorn myself with signs reading “WARNING-Has child, do not approach unless you are interested in conversations that could involve any or all of the following: Poo, Pee, Elmo, Goldfish, Naps, Vomit, Barney, Potty Training or Boogers. Speak to me at your own risk.” I’ll add that to my to-do list, right under giving 1-800-HUGGIES a call.

            Having my son was like giving birth to part of my heart and being able to be a witness to this incredible little life makes mine and my husband’s world all the more brighter and so rich in love, so don’t be surprised if you see me shouting from the rooftop how amazing my son is…because I’m not gonna shut up anytime soon J

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hip Hip Hooray for Budget Day!

Nothing soothes my worries as soundly as Budget Day! With check stubs in hand, the hum of the bright computer monitor beckons my fingers to the number pad like a pig to slop. Ahhh yes, Budget Day has quickly become my favorite day of the week… favorite ‘week’ day anyways. It’s funny because I don’t even realize I’ve come to a point of questioning if we are making the right decisions, if this will all work out, is it’s all worth it, until we hit that re-energizing moment. (Queue the choir build-up here) When we’ve sat down and plugged in the numbers from our check into our allotted payments and other categories for saving. Then freedom escapes me like a giant sigh… (HALLELUJAH!!) Like solving a nasty math problem that’s been hounding you for days. “Why is six afraid of seven? ……because seven ate nine!” (Yes, that is my version of a ‘math’ problem. But seriously, why is there no Numbers In Distress outreach program available that could have kept seven from going rogue anyways?!) Somehow, it all works out and I can quiet my nagging mind (without the use of a large glass of wine). Victory is becoming ours!

            Slowly, I can feel this new reality sinking in. Yesterday was my first trip to the grocery store with my hubby since our financial diet began. It wasn’t as hard as I had thought it would be to ignore my impulses. Especially since I never actually left the car…(kidding!) I actually felt good about saying no to myself and even pointed out things that I would’ve liked to buy but that were not something that we needed. I admit, it might have looked a little odd from a bystander’s point of view to see some ‘crazy’ lady gazing forlornly at a fresh loaf of Artisans Sourdough like it was my long lost love…but you know… I moved on…eventually.

            We also had to plan and put aside money for our trip to the fair this past weekend. I had bought my husband tickets for Larry The Cable guy back in April for his birthday. So we saved up in our ‘entertainment’ fund, took advantage of our free fair entry for our whole family and took our little monkey to check it out. We had a blast and I never felt like we skimped or missed out on anything, although we still came home with half of what we had taken to spend left over! (A great feat in itself!) I think the biggest thing is that we are both making conscious decisions with our later in mind instead of just the NOW in front of us.

*Enjoying the fair food*

            I do feel like there are a lot of things we have to say no to, but at the same time I’m amazed that we are living our life without feeling like we’re on lock down. And we’re still managing to put extra money towards paying off our debts. I love it!

            With all of that being said, I am about to enter my own personal money war zone. The Holidays! I will elaborate more on that in a later post, but let me just say this will be a REAL test for me. I am the #1 fan of the Holidays. I love crafting and creating, decorating my home and sharing in family traditions and I can easily find myself spending a lot of green in the process! Luckily, we have already been putting aside in anticipation of this season of spending. But it will take more than reining in my overly zealous buying habits. I don’t think I’ll get to the point of desperately rifling through the dumpsters at the JoAnn’s, but I’m going to have to put my creative mind to work finding ways to still indulge my inner child but at a much lower cost.
*Decorating for Fall*
          I have to admit though, as long as I have a crackling fire (well mine doesn’t crackle since it’s behind glass and ignites with the flip of a switch butttttttt this is MY daydream, dangit! And no, this luxury is not lost on us since our last home we lived in had an old brick fireplace with an iron insert that we never could figure out the flu system on and a fan that was about as quiet as a hydroplane), a cup of sweet peppermint cocoa warming my hands, Christmas music playing softly in the background, surrounded by the family and friends that I love, an ever-growing little snuggle bug curled up in my lap, my husband’s hand in mine and at least one good snowfall this season… my heart will be full and happy J

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Budget Blunder 1.0

It really was bound to happen…I mean I’d be kidding myself if I ever thought otherwise. Last weekend was my first financial slip up. It wasn’t big or bad and it didn’t blow my house down, but it was a lapse in my budget judgment none the less. My mom and I had a girls night planned for a few months now. We had to road trip to our destination so I made sure when I worked out my ‘allowance’ for the trip, it included everything; gas, food, and some spending money.  It’s also pretty easy to guess what it was that did me in…. As I approached the cash register, with a small pile of, (you guessed it!) fall/winter basics for my little cub, I didn’t need a sixth sense to tell me I was going to be over my limit. It’s kind of funny because when I was counting out my cash before I left, somehow I accidentally grabbed an extra bill. I didn’t know it until I was burning rubber on the open road, belting out Judds tunes, taking my first of a few wrong turns. (Even with my trusty GPS, Marge, telling me I was supposed to take the OTHER exit and then forcefully repeating over and over to “Make a u-turn if possible. Make a u-turn if possible.” Like she’s never taken a wrong turn in her tiny little car computer brained LIFE! ) Anyways, my husband called and said our totals were off somehow. I checked my wallet and sure enough, that little critter had snuck right in there! Maybe, subconsciously I was setting myself up for failure. It was an honest mistake but just knowing I had that extra bill to fall back on…you know…just in case, might have been what did me in. 
Anyways, snap back to my counter approaching journey, and I knew by the shear amount of items in my greedy paws that my total was too close to call. I ‘sort of’ added it up as I was picking them out, but it was all stuff that was ‘on sale’ so it didn’t seem like I was going too crazy.  Plus, it was all basics he would need soon anyways. Never mind the fact that I already had three different consignment stores on my to-do list for fall that I had planned on checking out first, before I bought anything else. Although, who knows if I would find anything there anyways. I knew I liked what I found here so this was a sure bet! Who passes up a sure bet? Especially when it’s waffle knit and on sale? And sometimes those darn price signs can be so confusing anyways. I mean half the time you get up there and find out something you picked up was actually $5 cheaper anyways! (Okay, maybe that’s more like 1/16th of the time but this moment definitely has the potential for surprise savings) And, this is an outlet mall so everything is even cheaper…right, right?!
So, with my impossible to resist persuasion skills squashing down the angel on my shoulder, I watched that total climb to $10 above my permitted amount. Ten bucks…yeah that’s it…but really it could’ve been $100 for how I felt after I left that store. That was my first real test for myself and… I failed.
It’s really not that big of a deal and I got over it but the fact of the matter is, this budgeting stuff is really going to be harder than I thought. One thing I’m really going to have to learn is how to say “No”.  Not to everyone else, but to that ‘over spending-if it’s on sale I can find a need for it-I’ve been meaning to get one of those’-person in the mirror. No matter how convincing my awesomely dominating persuasion skills may be.  I mean does my little guy really care if he’s wearing this shirt or that shirt? No matter how adorable and totally cute I deem it, he could care less as long as he’s got a diaper to poop in.  (Actually  he’s decided he’s not really a fan of those either.)
I don’t know that I can count on that fashion financial budget blunder incident being my last default in the Big Debt Beat Down, but I can certainly say lesson learned!
It wouldn’t be fair of me, though, to only give recognition to my failures in the past few weeks and not give myself a little pat on the back for my triumphs, (such as fishing out the last remaining lotion at the bottom of the bottle) however small they may be!
Last week I was so tired at work (thanks in part to my little early bird deciding he was ready to get this show on the road a couple hours earlier than normal) I honestly thought my eyeballs might melt right onto my keyboard, but I trudged through without my RockStar and instead settled for a vending machine coffee from the break room. Bought with the change I scrounged out of the ashtray turned change holder of my husband’s car. (Yes! I was THAT desperate! For anyone who’s bought a vending machine coffee, you know the gamble I was taking!) 
             Since we’ve cancelled Netflix almost three weeks ago, I still haven’t rented a single movie! While I love the $1 a night price of the Redbox, those bargain deal DVD’s have been known to sometimes take three or four days to make their way back to the henhouse.
Part of our monthly dividends includes putting aside for clothing and shoes and we’ve been meaning to buy our little big foot some new sneakers all summer. We’ve gotten away with his crocs for the good part of these last few months but have run into a few snags when they just wouldn’t cut it and his Paul Bunyon sized tootsies just won’t squeeze into his old shoes any longer. So yesterday I took him to three different shoe stores until I found the right pair for the right price. And not only did I pass up the adorable $30 Nike kicks, but I managed to walk away from the store with only ONE pair! Even my step was a little lighter as we walked out of that store, and it wasn’t just because I only had one bag to carry.
I also have to acknowledge my amazing husband who has been doing all of the grocery shopping himself (I don’t quite trust myself yet to partake in that venture as I’m just not sure those greedy little grocery elves have stopped following me, making items that are not on my list mysteriously appear in the cart). He’s gotten so good in the last month, I’m pretty sure he’s on the verge of entering into “Extreme Couponing” territory!  (Minus the ten deep stockpiles and emotional hoarding tendencies).  
For all of the little changes we are making to keep ourselves budget savvy, it’s all a small part of something so much bigger. And although I did have one little set back, it showed me the only person standing between me and victory is myself. At the end of the day, I do have to hold myself accountable but also remember that this budget plan is part of a process and my life isn’t going to transform in a day. There are bound to be a few speed bumps and roadblocks.  And besides, as they say, it’s not how many times you fall that matters, it’s the decision you make to get back up that counts! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hasta La Vista, Netflix!

My husband and I have finally decided to take the plunge. We’ve jumped, and are hoping this will ultimately keep us from falling face first. We started a budget! Yeah, BIG news right?! It is to us! I do find it a tad bit embarrassing that I’m an adult with a marriage, child, home and 2.0 cars and haven’t balanced a checkbook since I was 16. Don’t get me wrong, I am responsible! Or at least I thought I was until I found out I had no clue where most of my money went each month. (And I don’t even have drunken blacked out nights to blame!)  Sure, some months have been harder than others but some how the bills have gotten paid. The water’s still hot and the heat is still on, and we could still go and do as we pleased (within reason of course). 
It took my hubby reading his first book since High School, (a feat in and of itself!) about becoming debt free that finally got us thinking in a different direction. (Never mind the fact that the book was a Christmas gift from his Mom over two years ago). The book talks about creating a zero dollar budget that allows you to take any leftover $ and pay down your debts one by one. All while eliminating any extra or unnecessary expenses. (What? WalMart aisle perusing is not a necessity??!!) The first items to make the cut: Sayonara my Friday pick me up Rockstar. Adios smart phones and the ability to LOL my BFF’s newest facebook photo from the lobby at the Jiffy Lube. Au Revoir my instantly streaming episodes of Weeds on blue ray.
 After the first chapter, I was ready to get radical! How long would it take before the DEA put our house on watch if we start a green house garden in the garage? Could we covert the basement into a giant chicken coop? How quickly could I learn to knit? Do knit undies make you chafe?  If we sell both of our cars could we fit a horse and buggy on the side of the house? Would said horse also nibble down our grass in the summer or should we get a goat for the lawn mower duties? (I’m not ridiculous enough to think we could fit a Horse AND a Cow in our little backyard) Could I get my son to switch to goat’s milk? Could I? (Bleck!)
A couple more chapters in and I was able to come back down to reality.  (Knitted knickers? Really?! And who wants to pick up that much animal poo anyways?!) We were finally able to step back from our paycheck to paycheck lifestyle and realize we don’t have to wonder how we’re ever going to afford to send our kid(s) to college someday. Or how we will ever be able to tell Joe Schmo to take our jobs and shove it (as we drive away in our double wide pop out motor home). And we don’t have to become Amish to do it. Basically, we just need to learn how to take control of our own income and tell our money where to go.  (Grocery, on the ground and give me $300! STAT!) There’s no secret formula or get rich schemes involved. Just good ole’ fashioned tightwad money smarts!
By literally writing down where each dollar goes for each paycheck, we’re creating a budget that will allow us to be completely debt free within the next 2-4 years. And we couldn’t have picked a better time to take our heads out of our tooshies! Our room mate of last few years, has decided to stop paying rent for a room that he really hasn’t ‘lived’ in for almost a year now(he’s finally, officially shacking up with his lady).   So here we are with a fresh dent in our little ‘plan’. Depending on the day’s mood (who am I kidding, more like the HOUR), I see this as a blessing and a hardship. It’s not that we hadn’t seen this coming, like I said; our roomie never stays here anyways and has basically been paying a high price for a heated storage unit, but it’s still going to take some serious adjustments. Including a huge adjustment to our overall timeline. (Insert frowny face here) It really is a blessing though, that we’ve got a plan at all! If we had learned this a few months ago we’d just be going about our day-to-day lives completely clueless about where our account was at (or I would be running to WM to pick up shampoo and deciding I really needed was $60 worth of toddler clothes that will be grown out of faster than I can even think about getting into my skinny jeans)!
But I have to say, even if it means it’s going to be harder than we had originally thought and take longer than we had planned, every single penny that I save and can put towards paying off our timeshare, or our vehicles, or our ridiculous dental bills (seriously, I think the tooth fairy is scheming us all!) it is totally worth it for the end result! The closer we get to stomping out those monthly bills, the closer I get to being able to stay home and become a full time Mom and Wife.
All I have ever wanted was to be married to my prince charming (I got blessed there for sure!) and to have lots and lots of babies and stay home taking care of my family. Now that I know how expensive little blessing shaped children can be, I’ve had to scale back my Duggar sized dreams but my core goals are still there. I want my days to be filled with cooking three square meals for my family, removing glue from hair (hopefully not mine) after our daily craft project, weekly play dates, mommy and me music class, grocery shopping, playing outside, making dinner, spending time with my husband, cleaning up and finishing off my day with a load of laundry and a new episode of Glee or Sons of Anarcy on the DVR.  (And the occasional interruption, 15 minutes into the week’s newest drama to give my little boy an extra hug and snuggle to send him back to la la land after a bad dream). I’d love to have the time to attempt keeping my house clean for longer than one afternoon. I want to know how to recite Betty Crocker’s entire cookbook in my sleep! In English and the French Cuisine translation! I want to have time to teach my little buddy all the basics before he starts school and MORE! And once he’s in school, I want to be there for every adorable Holiday performance going back and forth between cheering him on and furiously hand motioning him to take one or more fingers out of some bodily crevice. (Thank goodness for shake reduction cameras!)
I could kick myself for not having this plan in places years ago so I could be living this way now instead of later. And I’ve thought of giving myself some kind of awful punishment for my loose wallet ways, (no red box movies for a year!) but let’s not get crazy here. The point is, we’re on our way, we’re making the right decisions NOW and that’s what counts. Someday I won’t have to pry my cling on toddler from my legs as I head out to work and I can feel at peace knowing I’m right where I need to be J