Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Break is Over

The #1 son went back to school this morning. After a week of sleeping in and lounging on the bed watching cartoons, it was a rude awakening for both him and me. I woke up with a start 20 minutes before the bus comes. Hubster and I jumped out of bed and quickly got the Joe-boy ready for his day. I went back to bed ....

We had a good week off. Hubster's professors didn't think much of the break as 3 of them assigned homework! But we still did a few things. The SUB has a bowling alley so we bowled a game. Hubby and I were grateful for the kiddie bumper they put up for Joe. I took Joe to see Monsters vs Aliens, which was cute. And Joe went swimming with his dad. We even ate out a couple nights.

Our trip was postponed as we are having some electical issues with the car and didnt' want to chance getting stranded. But we made up for it.

As far as spring is concerned tho, I'm still waiting for this famous "global warming" to kick in. Sat night we had hail and snow! We had rain off and on, and our temps are 10 degrees lower than normal. Ugh! Global cooling is more like it! I feel really sorry for those poor people in North Dakota fighting the flooding.

I'll be catching up on blog reading this week. And maybe I'll find a few new ones to pass on to you, my treasured reader.

My verse for the week is: "Then Jesus said to them "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:15 Good reminder as I continue to declutter my house. And as I look through our spring and summer clothing to see what we need for this year.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Bloggy Break

Hello treasured readers,
I must say, my bloggy break was refreshing for me. The first couple days, I had a hard time, and sneaked a quick peak or two at some blogs. But even with that I stayed off the computer for lengths of time. I was able to transfer the bulk of my pics onto webshots. Then when I got tired of that, I decluttered some. I read a book! A real, live 300+ page book. I spent more time with my family. I knitted. And I crafted. It was a good break for me.

Of course, I didn't get everything done. Story of my life. I still have more to download off my computer. And it still sounds like a dying zebra. Thankfully, hubster has allowed me to use his computer as long as I don't hog it for hours on end.

And this is spring break week. Rain here. But later today we are heading out for a short road trip. Just to get away. Just to see some different scenery. We'll stay somewhere with a pool and #1 son will be in heaven. We'll eat out and sleep late. I'll be in heaven. We'll find a local coffee shop with wifi, and I might even check in.

Well, enough about me. How are you? Really! Let me know. I've missed you. Is it raining where you are? Are you on spring break or is that coming up? How are the kiddos? the pets? the hubbies?

Ta Ta for now!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Update on Joe's Bike

Hello treasured friends,
We received our letter from the group who gives out the family support money yesterday. Unfortunately, they denied our request. They gave some vague reason, but I think what is really going on, is that they don't have any money. If this is indeed the case, I wish they would just come out and say that.

So at this point, we are going to shelve this idea. Maybe in the future we will revisit it and brainstorm other ideas on how we might find funding for this bike. Or maybe we'll just wait til Michael graduates in a year and gets a job and start saving money for the bike.

Thanks for your comments and well wishes as we tried this avenue. Walking alongside our family makes the journey so much more enjoyable.

I'll have another post soon about my bloggy break. It was a good thing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Taking a Blogging Break

Hello treasured readers,
Its time for me to take a little break. From blogging here and over yonder, from facebook, from twitter. I have been neglecting things that I should have been doing. Hence, the need for a break, so I can catch up quickly, rather than slowly. I'll be gone a week or so. I'm going to try not even to read other blogs, so pray for me! I will miss my bloggy friends. But when I come back, I'm thinking I will have much more pep and energy and focus. Which will be good for me, and good for you. Cuz I'll be a better blogger!

I'm not a task oriented person, but I'm actually looking forward to a little spring cleaning and organizing. We'll see how long that lasts -- ha! I also have to troubleshoot my poor ol'computer, which sounds like a dying zebra. Not that I've ever heard a dying zebra, but if I did hear one, it would probably sound like my computer. I'm hoping it doesn't die on me altogether, the computer, not the zebra.

I would appreciate your prayers for me over this coming week if you think of it. I have a huge capacity to waste time, and I want to be productive. Especially since I'm giving up some of my favorite things in life. I will still be available on email--can't give up everything! So email me if you get lonely for my company. It'll break up the organizing and cleaning for me.

Til next week, my faithful friends,
Au revoir

Are You a Foodie?

First off, I'm not even sure I know what a foodie is! Essentially I think of it as someone who likes food, loves food, enjoys food. Is that close enough?

So, hubby and I have been chatting about pizza. Our #1 son's all time fav food. Me, I like it too, and don't mind having it once a week. Hubby, not so much. He says he gets tired of pizza. A few years ago, I felt like I could eat mexican food every day of the week. Now, not so much.

So this begs the question that everyone wants answered: What food could you eat everyweek, or do eat? How bout everyday? Chocolate, for sure, everyday for me! And I hear all those amens, treasured female readers. How bout your husbands? Kiddos?

So, am I foodie? Are you?

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Got Nuthin'

Really, I don't. I have nuthin' at all. All that I have and ever hope to be .... do you remember that song? I forget the words now, but it goes along something like, I owe it all to thee (God). This week I've been listening to a 3rd Day cd and one of their songs talks about how I have nothing original to give to Him. All I have is from Him in the first place! I like that.

It reminds me of my place in life and helps me not to get big-headed. It puts the Lord in His proper place too, above all else! Almighty! All Powerful!! All Knowing!!

On the blogging front, I have nothin' either. I'm feeling brain dead. No funny stories, no catchy quaotes, no cute pics. We did have fun going swimming at the Y yesterday tho. And we all slept really good last night, coincidence?? I think not.

It's rainy and cloudy here. Spring is holding back on us. Maybe by friday.

I need to get meds for the #1 son and myself today--priority!

Spring break is next week and we're still talking about what we might do. I'm so ready for a little break.

So what's up in your neck of the woods, my treasured readers?

Friday, March 13, 2009

10 Ways We Save Part Two

So what did you think of Part One? Do you do these things along with me? Here's 5 more ways we save for your consideration:

6) Downsizing our van to a economic sedan

We had an accident last sumnmer that totalled our van, so we were in the market for a new vehicle. I know not everyone can go trade in a car or two right now, but if you are looking, go for it! It really made a difference for us when gas prices were creeping up to $4/gallon last August. With our newer, smaller car we got better gas milieage with very little downsize.

7) Blockbuster-Netflix-Library-Hulu
When my husband and I were first dating, we loved going to see movies. We remember paying $3 or less per person to go see the newest blockbuster. And soon into our frugal married life, we found a $1 cheap theatre. Then, our #1 son arrived in our lives, and over the years we have realized that he has inherited 100 fold our movie loving gene. And he loves to watch the same movie over and over again. Yes, when he was younger, I bought videos and dvd's for the #1 son. It was during one of the wimpy frugal phases in our life. But we soon woke up to the reality that this was a waste of money.

We made the switch to renting from blockbuster and the library. That worked well enough, until we started racking up the late fees from blockbuster--yikes! We heard about netflix and quickly signed up. #1 son was able to watch his favorite movies without any late fees, Michael and I were able to watch movies at home with our homemade popcorn on our time schedule. But once we became a starving student family, we cancelled our netflix account as just one more way to trim the budget. Michael had heard about Hulu, an internet site where you could watch free movies and tv shows. And I loved having the Boise Library close by with a much greater abundance of dvd's, videos and even Wii games. And this time around, I'm very concious of when their due date is.

8) Coffee Time with hubby and friends

One of the differences between being frugal and being cheap is the knowledge that its not all about money. Being frugal is also about what your values are. What are your priorities. Yes, we are trying to pay down our consumer debt, but we are also trying to live an enjoyable, satisfying life while we do it. So for us, we have decided not to eliminate all of our discretionary spending. For me especially, I need times when I feel like I've had a little treat. But since we are being frugal, it plays inself out like this. Instead of going out for a weekly date night, Michael and I go out for lunch while our son is in school (no babysitting fees) or out for coffee at one of the hip coffee shops in this university town. Instead of going out for pizza, we often make pizza at home and have a movie and pizza night. I don't go out for lunch or coffee with friends as often as I used to, or as often as I would like, but I do go. I budget it into our monthly budget so that it can be a reality. It's important for my emotional well being, and it makes me happy.

9) At Home Haircuts

I have picked up my haircutting scissors again and once again I'm cutting Michael's hair. And I've added Josiah to my client list. I don't have a degree in cosmetology, but I've read books, I've watched professionals, and I do a pretty good job. I've had worse haircuts from professionals than what I've given my two boys. Joe is a trial to cut his hair anyway, since he wiggles and moves and generally doesn't do well. Both wear their hair in very simple cuts. With Michael's eyesight he isn't able to return the favor, but he has helped me color my hair at home which has saved us a bunch of money.

10) Doing Without

And last, and maybe the most important of all the ways we save money, is doing without. Knowing that this drastic method of frugality is but for a season, we are willing to put extra money towards the bills instead of new clothes, new furniture, manicures and pedicures, jewelry, eating out as much as I would like to (see #8 above), taking a wonderful spring vacation or renting a beach house on the ocean this summer. We don't go home to visit as much as we and our families would like us to. We don't have a brand new luxury car (see #6 above). But doing without is not all bad. Learning to do without can make one more resourceful. It can make one appreciate the simpler things in life, including family. With more stuff in ones life, there is more maintenance, more organization needed, more insurance to keep it safe, and on and on.

So there is our top 10 ways we have been saving money this year. This isn't the end tho. As I read what others say about saving money and being frugal, I know I will be adding to our drastic frugal phase ideas. Maybe riding a bike instead of using the car, maybe clipping coupons and doing rebates, maybe finding a mystery shopper job ,,, So how 'bout you? What are you doing to save money?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ten Ways We Save Money Part One

I would much rather read about what someone has done--a personal story, than just a general list of things to do. So I'm assuming you are like me, and I am going to share what we have done to save money. Not all of my ways to save may apply to you, but hopefully you can find a couple to use to lighten your burden as we ride out this recession.

1) Trading in our monthly cell phones for one prepaid phone

This has been one of our all-time best decisions we have ever made. We have had a cell phone or two for years! First as a business expense and need for my husband and then for both of us. We used them instead of a landline for many years and used them to make long distance calls to family and friends. It was wonderful, but expensive. Over just the last 5 years we have paid anywhere from $50-$100 a month, including fees, taxes and misc charges. Even when we tried to get it as low as possible, the lowest we could seem to get it was $50. And then there were the contracts. We had been faithful to one company for over a decade and they treated us like dirt. Or worse.

So last summer I finally found out when our contracts would be up on our family plan. August and October respectively. And we slowly extracated ourselves from the cell phone monster. In January we bought a prepaid cellphone with 300 minutes for around $25. And the minutes were good for 3 months. So for the last 2 and a half months we have averaged $10/mo for our phone.

Now this has only worked for us because we have a landline with our apt. It is included in our rent. But even if we didn't have a landline or had to pay for it ourselves, I would still switch to a prepaid cell phone in a heart beat.

2) Making more foods from scratch

I have gone through bouts of using alot of prepackaged meals, but what I have found is that my grocery money doesn't go as far as when I make old fashioned meals from scratch. But then I decided to take it up a notch and look at those items that I generally pick up without thinking and make them from scratch. I don't have any price comparisons, but I know I have saved money. Consider. I have made salad dressings from scratch, bar-b-q sauce, teriyakisauce and other condiments, cream of whatever soup--very easy to do, bread---not as cost saving but definitely healthier, and pizza. There are others out there who make their own laundry soap, cleaners, beef jerky, yogurt, butter, and ice cream. It does take some work and forethought, but besides the savings you get, you also know whats going into your food.

3) Hanging clothes to dry on a line

If you have the space, this is a great money saver. I heard once that the cost of cleaning clothes comes 90% from the dryer. All that energy being used to heat the air that dries the clothes. I have hung all of my clothes to dry in the past, but am now just hanging my shirts. I gave up my huge drying rack and only have my little one. In this apt that's all that it can handle. But if you have the space, go get yourself a rack or clothesline and start drying on the line.

4) Using Craigslist & Freecycle

Just by being on the freecycle list, I have come across and recieved, good looking, good fit jeans, pants and shirts, several pair of shoes,purses for me, toys for my son, clothes too, sheets, fabric for my crafts, dishes and knick knacks. Off of craigslist we found a wonderful sofa for $30 to replace the too big worn out couch we left behind in the move. So if you need something, check out your local craigslist and freecycle.

5) Getting the Wal-Mart price for medications
If you pay for prescriptions with cash, like I do, then getting the Wal-Mart $4 price is a lifesaver. You may have to work with your doctor and the pharmesist to make sure the amount and the millegrams cooridinate. Not every medicine in every amount is $4, but you can get around most obstacles with some creative thinking. Also, some other pharmecies will match the Wal-Mart $4 price. Ask!

This article was getting too long, so I decided to divide it up into 2 parts. So tune in Friday or Saturday for the next installment. I'd love to hear how you have saved with these 5 categories: phone, making from scratch, cleaning clothes, craigslist/freecycle and medications. Do tell!

Do You Ever ...

wonder where the week has gone? #1 son was sick most of this week, and that has just shot my week to "you know where". I have so wanted to post. I missed WFW yesterday, and I have 2 new frugal posts half done. I spent 2 wasted hours trying to burn some discs--my computer refused to cooperate ... sigh. So its been one of those weeks.

But I have been able to visit bloggyland and catch up with the rest of you. For which I am thankful.

See ya soon!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Which Frugal Chick Are You?

I have started reading the happy homemaker, and besides just loving her title, I also love her posts. In this one she talks about 3 types of frugalnesss in her life:

Drastic frugality- I am not sure what this all would entail but some ideas discussed were dh biking to work, making even more items from scratch to cut grocery costs, cloth diapers, vehicle changes, growing our own food, switch to a pay as you go cell phone, cut out paper plates, napkins, paper towels, disposable wipes in addition to the things we already do.

Moderate Frugality- Basically continue on the current path with slight modifications. We are planning a Square Foot GardenLiving on Less ~ Financial Goals
this year and I hope to increase our from scratch cooking since it is something I enjoy doing already.

Frugal living for Wimps- This is how I feel about how we are living now. We made some pretty significant changes a few years back, but have stalled a bit in our progress. Even if we continued on the exact same course we could still save money, but not enough to purchase a house for cash in the next few years.

Isn't this great? I love how she divides them up. For each of us, the drastic, moderate, and wimpy might look somewhat different depending on where we are on our journey, but I can so totally relate.

20 years or so, when we first started on our frugal path, we dove right into the drastic frugal phase out of necessesity. I hung my clothes on a line to dry. We practically eliminated eating out, we rented the smallest, cheapest house we could find, we heated our house with wood--a wood burning stove. It was an intense time in our lives, getting out of debt and building our business. Then as the business grew profitable, we switched to the moderate phase, and somehow got sucked into the wimpy phase. I've always tried to do some frugal things just to make our money stretch further, but it wasn't until my husband had his accident and our life radically changed 6 years ago that I dove back into the moderate frugal phase and am now looking at the drastic phase. I'm digging out my old Tightwad newsletters I saved, I'm visiting frugal blogs, and in general, I'm just resetting my mindset to be drastically frugal.

So which frugal chick are you? Do you see yourself in one or more of the categories? I have a couple more posts in the works about what we have done to be more frugal and what we are working towards. So stay tuned!

Sick Day

I have a sick little boy at home today. He was coughing, feverish, and sneezing over the weekend, so we laid low. Didn't even make it to church. This morning we didn't wake him up for school, and he slept and slept and slept! This is highly unusual. Especially since with his dx his body produces less melatonin than the rest of us, and he normally needs meds to help him get to sleep and stay asleep! It is now 11:50am and he finally woke up.

I have some blog posts in the works, so as I get time to work on them, in between caring for my sick one, you'll be seeing them. Soon, I hope.

Til then ....

PS: for those of you who have inquired, we should be hearing later this month whether Joe will be recieving his special bike. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

There Is Still Time ...

It's Wednesday and you know what that means, my treasured readers. I missed last Wednesday, so I am doubly excited to share a WFW post with you.

Isaiah 55:6 says "Seek the Lord while you can find Him; Call on Him now while He is near."

Isn't that wonderful? The Lord is still available to anyone who will seek Him. He is near, He can be found. And on the flip side, it is a caution to all that there will come a day when He won't be near, He won't be found. This IS a limited time offer. So don't delay ... Seek Him today!

And head over to AmyDeanne's place at 160 Acre Woods and enjoy more Word Filled Wednesday.

Monday, March 02, 2009

One Frugal Gem to Trim Our Budget

Like most others I have been looking for frugal ideas to trim our budget. I have a few of my own tricks that I have used over the years, but I'm always up for a new idea. So when I got my Biblical Womanhood newsletter this past week, I was excited to see her "Frugal Friday: Eight Tips for Saving $100 This Year", a guest post by Hope Ware. As I looked through her 8 tips, I nodded, yes, yes, yes, those are all good. Each one seemed to be things I was already doing, or was aware of, and then I happened upon the gem (at least for me).

Institute a weekly baking day. Isn't that a great idea? I thought so too. I bake sporadically. I bake bread, I make homemade pizza, I bake muffins once in awhile. But I had never really thought about having a baking day.

Hope explains how she does it:
Each week, I use one day as a day to bulk bake. I bake 3 loaves of bread, 2 tins of muffins, 2 tins of cornbread, and any other bread that I might need during the week.

One reason I like to make a weekly menu plan is that I can consult it ahead of time and see what bread products I'll need that week. I always bake a little more than I think I will need. Muffins freeze great and can be thawed in small amounts for lunches for the children or for your husband to take to work.

How many times have I planned on having pasta and didn't have any french bread, foccacia or bread sticks? Which would have been a perfect addition to the meal. And I end up going to the store, rather than going without. Or how often do I buy a take n bake pizza or even order delivery--yikes! because I don't have a pizza crust already made up, ready to go in the freezer. I can see having a baking day will help trim my grocery budget, and save me time and energy too. I'm liking this idea!

So how 'bout you, my treasured reader? What gems of frugalness do you live by? What have you discovered recently that you are adding to your repetroire? It seems like everyone is trying to tighten their belts just a bit nowdays. I know we are. Let's share ideas with each other here at Challenges and Adventures. I'm all ears.