Friday, September 30, 2011

PF Update

Once again, this is not a PF blog, but I figured a little accountability would hurt.  Here's a run down of my original goal set earlier this month

  • Eating out/ "work food" - Realistic Monthly Budget $100 ($10/week/person on work food, $20 eating out) Ideal Monthly Budget $60 - Goal Met? Almost, I did really good this month, but the hubby used a little more than he normally did.  We also had a day sitting with family in the hospital factored in here.

  • The No Clothing Challenge - Realistic Monthly Budget $25 Ideal Monthly Budget $0 Goal Met?  Very close, we needed to PJ's for the kiddo and none were to be found in the consignment shop, so I hit up a really good sale at a kids store

  • The Entertainment ListRealistic Monthly Budget $40Ideal Monthly Budget $30 Goal Met?  Nope, hubby's game subscription was renewed this month and he broke his headphones and I succumbed to a book purchase.  Oh well, like I said before, it happens - he renews the subscription for multiple months at once to get a discount, and used a great deal for the headphones, so we came out ahead of what it could have been in the end.

  • Vacation/Travel -Realistic Monthly Budget (for months with travel, room + extra gas) $125 Ideal Monthly Budget $5  Goal Met? - Yes!  Didn't do any traveling this month, and probably won't in October.

  • Groceries - Realistic Monthly Budget $800 ($50/person/week ) or $400 for my half-share of the bills Ideal Monthly $600 ($37.50/person/week) or $300 for my half-share of the bills.  Goal Met?  Nope, however it was almost a 5 week month, the baby's stock of everything was depleated so I stocked up for another couple months, and I purchased for some bulk projects I've working on.  I'm hoping we can really start utilitizing our stores this fall and I really need to figure out a way to account for non-food items in some of those bills to get a better idea of what's being spent on what.

So in all it sounds like a bad month, however it wasn't.  We had some big purchases - our family photos and a new carseat which came out of savings, we paid off the car, we treated my mother to dinner for her birthday, etc. however factor those out and adjust things around and were still on track for having effective spending habits with a mortgage and more childcare factored in.

So for October, I'll still be working to reach those Ideal Goals and doing a little more careful calculations to see where any problems are.  I know want to be shopping for groceries more at real grocery stores, not stores that have groceries in them to keep from confusing the budget.

Onwards and upwards - we won our battle yesterday and keep us in your prayers that we get good news on the dayshifts soon.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Protect Us In Battle


Today is Michaelmas, or the Feast of St. Michael - even most protestants are familiar with the start of his prayer "St. Michael, defend us in battle".  Traditionally the celebration is associated with the equinox, and harvest.  It is also when quarterly debts were to be settled among other things.  Well, we've settled our debts recently, and my dad is working on bring in the harvest.  We also go to negotiate next years rental agreement for the farm with my Grandmother today - it is our battle and one I hope will have a good resolution.

So St. Michael, if you've got a moment, please defend us in battle today.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good Morning

Foggy morning.

Did laundry and checked emails while the baby climbed a half asleep Mount Daddy.

Spent the morning in the kitchen. 

Baby in the high chair eating puffs and playing with tin measuring cups. 

Making a large pot of soup for freezing. 

Listening to bluegrass and folk.

Laughing at whatever 7.5 month olds find hilarious.

Eating homemade strawberry jam on toast.


Really don't want to go to work now.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Thanks everyone.  Just that, thanks.  Thanks, no frills or sprinkles on top.  Thanks in the way my stoic mid-western relatives prefer to receive their thanks - quietly, quickly but full of sincerity,

I've got a lot on the way.  Fall is my favorite season by far and since we're having a cold snap my instincts to knit and cook have been in overdrive and I can't wait to share these things with you.

And for those who need a good laugh, I found this in the past post of my old defunct blog -

Saint Molly -

Patron Saint for protection from/for the victims of Nitpickers, Naysayers and the Chronically Grumpy.

Saint Molly , pray for us.

Help us smile in the faces of those who find fault in everything we do.

Help us remain steadfast when surrounded by those who always know better

And remain chipper and upbeat when surrounded by those who have no discernible sense of humor.

If we fail at this please see fit to provide us with Dr. Pepper, Peanut Butter Twix and a quiet, hidden place to stomp around and yell until such a time when we can complain ad-naseum to our significant others.


hmmm.... I wonder if I could convince good ol' Benny in Rome to canonize me while I was still living...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Day We've Been Waiting For

As of 10 a.m. this morning the "Make-Do" Family has ZERO consumer debt.

After collecting the hubby and the baby around the computer I clicked that final button and paid off our car and 6 six days shy of our 2 year mark we are (consumer) debt free. 

In those two years we've:

  • Had a promotion (the reason we could start the goal in earnest)

  • Had an off-season (3 months of no work)

  • Celebrated birthdays and holidays

  • Explored the West Coast

  • Found out we were having a baby

  • Moved cross-country

  • Took a minimum wage job - Me

  • Bought a second used car

  • Changed jobs (and took a pay cut to do so) - Him

  • Got the interview that turned into a real job a few days before Christmas

  • Went on 3 months of maternity leave

  • Got job offer

  • Had baby

  • Turned 28 (both of us)

  • started new job - entry-level but still mor per year than I was making before

  • Got a small raise, got past 6 months probation period and got another raise

  • Had expenses, bought clothes, tires, maintenance, fun things, saw movies, ate out, visited family, etc.

  • Paid of over $11,000 of debt - approx. $7500 car, $2300 loan, $1200 credit card

  • Have saved equal amount in preparation for home buying/savings/day to day expenses

I wasn't sure if I wanted to share the total amount on-line, but decided I wanted to do so to show those who want to do something similar that it is possible even when faced with those day to struggles and ups and downs.  You make sacrifices along the way, but it's amazing how quickly you learn to stick to your guns when you see that number start to get smaller.  It's even possible with small budget and paychecks.

How we did it -

  • Careful budgeting - figured out the needs and always saw that those were met each time they arose.

  • Planned known expenses in advance - Getting a flat tire can't be planned, but other things can.  You know when birthdays and holidays are coming up and can plan accordingly.

  • Pay with cash - Okay I'll admit the envelope system doesn't work for me, but paired up with my budgeting and planning it was easy to look a week or two in the future and see the expenses I knew would arise and do a little quick math to see what was left over in the account after those expenses were taken care of.  If I had extra, I could spend it; If we were barely squeaking by until the next paycheck that thing could usually wait.

  • Knowing that Money = Life - yeah that sounds a little weird, but if you work for a living and receiving a paycheck it's easy to figure out just how much of your life you'll be at work to afford that brand new car versus a used one.  Heck, an Ipod on an entry-level  salary will cost you over 20 hours of your life.  An Ipad, over 50 hours - that's 50 hours of your life working just to have a gadget you might not need, which will have to be replaced eventually anyways and if you're obsessed with owning the latest and greatest, the amount of time spent earning those items adds up; put it on a credit card and you can tack on another couple of hours filling TPS reports and being asked if you got that Memo.  (Apply this logic to cable TV, I dare you.  It'll make your head hurt.)

Things we've learned in the last two years:

  • It's not hard to say no - when you start asking yourself if something is a want or a need, it becomes easier to say "I don't really need that now".

  • Find the budget that's right for you - Everyone is different and everyone will find their own bookkeeping methods - mine was a Word program calendar file that allowed me to track exactly how much we needed in our account each week to take care of our needs (bills, food, gas) which made it easy to see the $500 extra in the checking account was not up for grabs.

  • Set budgets, but don't beat yourself up - it's okay if you set a budget for eating out or gifts and have 3 long-lost friends drop into town, a wedding and a 1st birthday all in the same months.  It's life, you only get one, so enjoy it when it happens and adjust the next month accordingly.

  • Saving is addicting - While I hope not to become a Scrooge coveting my saved dollars, saving money can become addicting and you start to mourn times when you can't save as much as you'd like. Part of this is the feeling of security you get knowing that if the month (mentioned above) also happens when the kid outgrows all his clothes, you get two flat tires and the toilet backs up you'll be okay.

  • You'll amazed out how little you need to really live well.

Now the plan is to bulk up the savings even more in preparation for the house buying by putting what we were spending on the car directly into savings and keep plugging away at those student loans, which we should have paid off with in 7 years, but I plan of figuring out a way to pay them off in 5 or the by the 10th anniversary of graduation.  I plan on trying to make a bulk payment to them in a month or two to pay off any outstanding compounding interest left over from my less financially savvy years.

Today is a good day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

{Weekend Wonders}

{Weekend Wonders} – A little something to read while drinking your coffee Saturday morning in the hopes that it will give you something to think about, talk about or the inspiration to do something!}

Okay folks it's time to put our money where our mouth is.  I know how hard it is to make good decisions for the world at large while trying to balance a check book; but even a small change is a change.  Go here to learn about a project to inform consumers about their favorite products and companies.

Each business is ranked according to 5 key issues - human rights, the environment, animal protection, community involvement and social justice.  It is a growing project and will be offering detailed look at their ranks on certain products every month.

I would encourage, not a full turnaround (like binge diets they only work so long), but a slow and steady change.  Choose 3 categories/products most important to you or are on your purchasing list in the immediate future - this could be body care/clothing/coffee or car/ice cream/paper products and start at the bottom of the list.  Make a pact with yourself not purchase from companies with the worst, "F", rating to begin with.  Since many of the "F" ratings are big, known brands - think Kraft, Budweiser and Nestle - take a couple months looking for the brands higher on the list, researching alternatives (can you make your own or buy local?), and finding out just how much more wiser purchasing decisions will cost.  Once this happens cross another letter of your list - take the "D" ranked items out of your rotation. And continue, personally I'd allow myself to purchase from any company with a B ranking or better - ideally if we start supporting the more sustainable companies and they stick to their moral guns a large population could affect prices, making the items more affordable (I know this isn't a perfect economic assumption, but go with me I'm an idealist).

I would choose to focus on 1) Body Care, 2) Hair Care and 3) Cleaning*

*I'm fully intending on going over to vinegar and baking soda within the next couple months, but for the items it doesn't cover.

What three products would you choose to focus on?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gee whiz!

"Big shiny buttons AND shoe laces I'm allowed to nom on?  Gee whiz ma' you're the greatest!"

Too cute not to share - Little Bear enjoying a rough draft of a sensory toy project his mama whipped up during nap time!

(Just incase - I'm a trained professional stitcher, but because of the buttons and laces this is a supervised use only toy)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Out of the Wardrobe

Nope, still no Narnia; no shirtless James McAvoy walking out of my closet.


Well, there's always tomorrow.

However, I did get the deep clean done.  The damage stands at this:

1 shopping bag full of ratty, damage or otherwise not worth keeping items from the undergarment/sock drawer ready to be thrown away.

1 shopping bag of items for the Goodwill - things with minor defects or out of style aka not worth of the great consignment shop

2 shopping bags of items for the great consignment shop - I was really hard on myself to accomplish this.  Even if the items were it great condition and were from quality stores - if they hadn't been worn in the last year or I some how find a way to talk myself out of wearing them on a regular basis they are going bye-bye.  I feel good that most of the items will be taken at tomorrows drop off.

Which brings my clothing items - total for all seasons (nothing in storage) to it's current tally

1 drawer undergarments (not full, but plenty to be cycled thru)

1 drawer socks/tights/etc. (also not full, but now organized with only the best items kept)

1 drawer jeans and non-work pants

1 drawer misc. work pants/pj's

1 standard garment rack (maybe 3/3.5 ft long) of tops, sweaters and dresses.

That's it folks, except for my shoes (which are hard to coral for a picture), my two winter jackets and a couple days worth of laundry in the machine, that's my entire (spring/summer/winter/fall) wardrobe.

I'm so glad I did this now, as fall is my favorite time to succumb to my consumer urges.  It's nice to look in and see just where, if at all there are any gaps in my necessary wardrobe.  While it's all in really nice shape I did notice a few spots that need help and have made a few goals relating to them.

Make-Do Projects

  • Boot socks and bras - my top priority for yearly "Restocking the Stocking" gifts, but not before.

  • One or two pairs of nice dress shoes - the heels I still have from college (you know about 8 years ago) haven't been worn in years and are getting tossed/consigned. I plan on waiting out the great C.S. for a quality pair of dress shoes this fall, or two. Goal - find consigned pair(s) of Sofft heels, or similar (small height, larger in the base than my 20 year old self prefered), they come into the great C.S. surprisingly often.

  • Continue to save for one really nice pair of leather boots - I have a dream about buying a good pair of Frye leather boots that will be heirlooms, and still wearable, when I die at the age of 107. Will check ebay and the like when the time comes, but until then I'll make do with what I have.

  • New hat/glove set for myself - knitting myself for Christmas out of stock of yarn.

Mend Projects

  • Hem 2 pairs of jeans - bought 2 pairs of fancy brand jeans at the consignment shop about a month ago, just a little too long and need to be hemmed.

  • Re-line winter jackets - I have two winter coats and both need little work on the inside. My long wool coat (that I've had since 7th grade) needs new lining throughout the body and my green coat needs the pockets sewn back up. {Note to self - this has been on your to-do list for about two years.... good luck!}

Do Without Goals

  • Find and save for patterns and yarn for a couple sweaters - there are one or two classic sweaters that I'd like to have eventually, and why not add them to my closet by the work of my own hands - but until then I'll do without.

  • I really don't need much else right now and with the prospect of potential home ownership approaching (hopefully) there are so many other things to spend my money on/save.

Thanks to my goals earlier this month to stay out of the stores my credit at the great C.S. is currently standing at around $130, with more to sell so my "make-do" purchases, once found, will not cost me a thing with plenty left over to stock up Little Bear at the end of the season for next year.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Into the Wardrobe

And no folks, I'm not talking about Narnia.

The weather is turning cold here, though we'll probably get one more blast of summer before it's all said and done and that means it's time to head to the closet.

I find that early fall is the perfect time to take stock of the wardrobe.  It's easy to remember what got a lot of wear during the summer and what is no longer interesting for the winter and it's the prime time to hit up deals in the stores for replacement items.

This weekend I started by going through my main rack of clothes, getting out the small pile of sweaters I put away last spring and really just analyzing my clothing needs.  This year I promised myself to be rather strict about what I was keeping and that everything that was kept had to meet certain guidelines:

  • Fit well - no more "only on the skinny days" pants, dresses or tops.  If can't look nice in it any day of the month it's just taking up space.

  • In good condition - I'm an adult, a mother and wife of modest means.  There is no reason to pull out the ratty tops and stretched out sweaters anymore and putting on a nice shirt and pants is just as easy as throwing on a pair of pj's there's very few exceptions for why I should be seen in public in anything less than acceptable.

  • A "go to" piece - except for speciality items, like dress clothes and heavy-duty weather/work clothes, if the item was not worn in the last year or in regular rotation it needs to get the axe.

As I mentioned in the guidelines - putting on a nice, or at least clean, t-shirt and pants is just as easy as a pair of pj's so, personally, I don't see the reason to allow myself in public looking like a slob.  Sure, I might not have washed my hair in the last 24 hours and make-up is often a no-go, but I can at least stop myself from wearing stained or hole-ly clothing.

I've found over the last year that having a smaller, nicer wardrobe has many benefits. 

  • It's easier to get dressed - there aren't racks of clothes to dig through to find that *one* item. 

  • It's easier to look nice and put together, even on the days when you're anything but. 

  • Looking put together often helps me feel more put together. 

  • Only keeping well-fitting clothing means I don't have to worry about what's going to show or slip out when I'm running around with the kid or juggling too many bags at the grocery store.

  • Having a small wardrobe means I'm more likely to know exactly what I have and what I need - if I know I already have two perfectly acceptable grey sweaters I'm less like to buy a new one because I know my need for an item has been met. (Grey sweaters are my kryptonite).

So for now I'm about 50% through the closet cleaning - not because there's a lot, but because there's a lot to be done during nap time of a 7 month old who can kind of crawl, but really wants to walk.  I still need to go through the socks/undergarments drawers and pants and then do a second sweep of everything.  My current goal is to cut my current clothing possessions by about 20% and get the seasonally appropriate things into the consignment store asap.

Do you regulate and go through your closets on a regular basis?  Do you need to?  Any suggestions to share?

Friday, September 16, 2011

{Weekend Wonders}

{Weekend Wonders} – A little something to read while drinking your coffee Saturday morning in the hopes that it will give you something to think about, talk about or the inspiration to do something!

September is National Preparedness Month - With all the crazy weather this year from tornadoes, to drought, to hurricanes, tsunamis and wild fires it's hard to think of a place that is "safe" from natural disasters.  How prepared are you to spend a week without power or pack up the essentials and get out of town?

We've done a lot this year to plan for the seen and unforseen potentials - stocking up dry goods and water, buying a chest freezers and stocking that as well, starting to garden and compost and there still so much that we can do.

Go HERE to the CDC site complete with lists of kits and plans to help your family land on its feet.

If all this talk of pantry stocking and the CDC makes you feel like a loony preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse, perhaps think a little smaller - do you keep extra keys with relatives for when you lock yourself out of the car?  Do you have everything that is registered and insured up to date?  Are you certain you have bandaids and neosporin around?  Do you know what to do when your little helper decides to help in the kitchen and runs afoul of hot water or sharp knives?

Being prepared is just as much about the little things as the big.

Other useful sites:

A Prepared Home - great tools and information

Food Storage Made Easy - so much information - an off shoot of the CDC program

The Mayo Clinic First Aid - basic first aid information

And don't forget ....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What's luck got to do with?

Got to do with it?  What's luck but a second-hand somethingsomethingsomething... okay so not quite, but it's late, I'm tired and yeah, that's all I've got.

Over on one of the Ravelry boards I frequent a post recently retorted that luck has everything to do with how well a person can live a simple life.  When there are no big medical bills or family problems to get in the way, if a person has a myriad of options, or what have you, that luck has everything to do with your success in living simply.

I can see the commentors reasoning - things are definitely easier when you have good health, a supportive family, live in an area that is not easily damaged by a fluctuating economy.  However, it's not all luck.

Luck has nothing to do with the simple choices you make that add up to a lot. 

Luck has nothing to do with keeping a small closet and thrifted clothes.

Luck has nothing to do with being okay with your old tv, computer, car.

Luck has nothing to do with choosing a smaller home.

When you have the room to choose, luck has nothing to do with it.  And it's those choices that affect how you cope when you're luck runs out.  Medical bills won't seem so daunting if you're not still paying for Christmas from five years ago.  Family illness that takes up your free time will be a little less stressful if the house is small enough to easily see to.

So yes a person might get lucky and be able to pay off a mortgage or retire early because those big expenses never came up - but the biggest stroke of luck came the day they realized that "Living for Today" also means realizing that tomorrow becomes today in a blink of the eye.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Putting the Okay in Ordinary

As long as were on the topic of virtues that I am lacking I have another to share and it comes from a parenting book I've been reading "Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids" by Kim John Payne, M.ed.

While getting a few pages in during my dinner break tonight I was floored by the following statement:

"If we hold on to the exceptional-if our children adopt that as their measure of success - most will fail, and almost all of them will feel like failures.  There's freedom in embracing the ordinary: freedom, and possibilities."

The author is discussing our expectations and desires for our children, but this section spoke to me on a different level.  In the last year of career and life changes I have often struggled with that feeling of inadequacy - my brain, after many years of influence, tells my psyche that money, title, degree, notoriety, etc. are the measure of success therefore how can I be a success without a fancy job, title, award, etc.?  On those bad days it eats away at me - aren't you a failure Mols for not succeeding in everything; somewhere along the line I began to associate failure with being ordinary.

I wonder how many of my generation are made to feel this way, particularly while navigating the current economic and job related waters.  I wonder how many of us believed those promises that everyone could and would succeed to those illustrious standards.  And I wonder how many of us would be happier if we just accepted the possibilities of being ordinary?

Accepting that we're ordinary opens us up to extraordinary experiences.  We can have jobs, and not life consuming careers.  We can have hobbies and pursuits and revel in their imperfections and the joy we get from them - how many of us would have loved music lessons or sports more if we had just been allowed to do them with out competition?  We can have more time for others, which can lead to extraordinary acts of selflessness and compassion.

"After all, the ordinary allows for the exceptional, but not the reverse...  Loving something for its own sake - not for its potential in fame, glory, or music scholarships - is far from ordinary.  It's an extraordinary blessing - a strength of character any parent would wish for their child."

I look forward to reviewing more of this book in the future - if you are looking for an inspirational book on parenting and how a simple life of less will not deprive, but rather enrich you and your children's live I recommend "Simplicity Parenting" though I'm only half way through.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Patience is a Virtue....

of which I have none.

Waiting, I hate waiting.

When I was going through my dark days during my pregnancy it was the waiting that made it worse.  I knew that if I could just get to a certain point, I'd be fine - if I could get the job, have the baby safe and sound; all these little milestones that I knew would come, but it was the uncertainty between where I was and where I wanted to be that was the worst.

So here I am waiting again. 

Waiting to see if someone else with seniority wants the position I need.

Waiting to get calls back from banks.

Waiting to see what happens next.

I feel like someone has me by one arm as I lean over a cliff.  Luckily the consequences aren't so dire - if I don't get the shift, I wait some more.  If it's not the right time to buy, we wait some more, but it's that feeling like we're almost there that's the worst.

So in the meantime I've been trying to keep busy, trying not to think too much on how perfect this house would be or that shift would be.  Trying to perfect my housekeeping skills again with the prospect of being on our own again.  Working on projects for the holidays.  Tending to the remaining things in the garden - tomatoes are still producing, and a few peppers, the strawberry plants are still thriving and the raspberry bush should be twice it's size next year.  Things are good, and are getting better and I know I just have to wait.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

For the day, ten years later

“O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us, remember the fruits we have bought, because of this suffering - our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of all of this, and when they come to judgement, let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness.”

-The Ravensbruck Prayer, written by an anonymous prisoner of the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp and said to have been found next to the body of a dead child.

Let us not forget those who had no say in the way their lives were ended and those gave the greatest sacrifice, but let us also remember that no matter the evil done against us, we are called to forgive.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A good question

Q:  How do you keep a 7 month olds socks on?


It's called distraction my dear Watson.

Things are going well here in Casa Make-Do, we've got a lot on our plate this weekend - baptism classes, visiting family, houses to look at.  Henry had his first face-first interaction with the indoor/outdoor carpet, which is not surprising when you love to stand, but believe that your face needs to be on the ground to crawl.  It's almost all healed today.  I'm just amazed at the progress he's made in a month, he says "mama" and "ahba" - we're pretty sure the later means "I like that" or "Mine", he can push up into a sitting position, and pull himself up on to his feet and is quite the cuddler - heaven forbid someone isn't make physical contact at all times - and we're going to install his "big boy" car seat this weekend.

We're doing well on our budget so far - I've been making a big attempt at bring lunch at work - and our clothing/entertainment budget hasn't been tapped into yet.  Of course there are things that come up - the car seat, a dinner out for my mothers birthday, and running low on those baby essentials - but as long as they're needs and not wants we're staying within our parameters.  

I feel a change coming to Casa Makedo, a good one, one that heralds to world our triumph over the last year and half of struggle and new ways of life. Cross your fingers that we like what we see this weekend - the day we go to view this house will be almost a year to the day that we arrived back in the midwest, started our "multi-generational" living arrangements, and really started to learn about life.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Special Times

First Official Family Photos, so glad we saved up for these.  If you live in the East - Central Iowa please consider Sarah Nebel Photography, I highly recommend her.  We plan on getting another session around Henry's 1st birthday.

Now for the hard part - choosing our favorites, and there are more in our gallery!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This is not a PF blog...

but, boy do I talk money a lot.

We're getting ready to do it.... pay off that last consumer debt bill that is.  Barring anything strange, that will happen at the end of September and I plan on toasting the occasion, if not set off some fireworks.

Reaching this milestone, plus the (hopeful) switch to a day time shift (did I mention this shift has 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. start times.  Oh the things this night-owl will do for her beautiful boys) means that we've reached the point where the house hunting can start in earnest.

However, since the listings at the moment are rather pathetic/we're super particular/we want a decent down payment/moving in Iowa in the winter is tantamount to joining the Donner party for a ski trip in the mountains, it looks like we'll probably be here through the winter.

Taking the moment to look on the sunny-side, this gives us a chance to practice living with a homeowners budget before having the home and since we've used some of our available income to make purchases and updates like the couch, our dishes, having more than one set of bed sheets, expanding the garden, new clothes for the Hubs (who gets new clothes about every two years because he hates shopping) our monthly tally hasn't been as great as it can be.

So for what I'm assuming will be the next 6-7 months I'm going to attempt to restrict our budget to what it'd be if we had a mortgage.  I plan on setting aside what we'd hope that payment to be into our savings each month so that it's untouchable and continue to challenge ourselves to not spend money we don't have.

The Challenges

  • Limit eating out/ "work food" - I'm hoping to give us the flex to eat out as a treat once a month and a little room for those "I just had no time to pack a lunch" kind of days.  However I really want to curb our "I'm tired let's order pizza" and "Oh, look yummy, delicious, greasy cafeteria food" ways.  Realistic Monthly Budget $100 ($10/week/person on work food, $20 eating out)  Ideal Monthly Budget $60

  • The No Clothing Challenge - realistically we're all set for winter, both us and babe, unless shoes wear out or something hasn't survived storage.  If replacements are needed we will try to use our account credit at my favorite consignment shop (easy for me and the babe, more difficult for my man-sized man).  I have a yarn stash ready to be made into hat, gloves, mittens and scarves for Christmas present anyways.  Realistic Monthly Budget $25  Ideal Monthly Budget $0 - Should be noted Ben and I use some of our Christmas money to give gifts of essentials - socks, undies, etc. - it's an easy way to have a few more things to open at Christmas and not fill your house with things that aren't useful.

  • The Entertainment List - Since the holidays are on the horizon we've decided to put the kibosh on things like book and movie purchases until the new year.  We have a small list of series that we're devoted to that will be published by the end of the year and those will become Christmas gift items and until then we've got a collection anyways and we really need to start making the library part of our lives again.  Realistic Monthly Budget $40 (hopefully reserved for family activities or our second date night since parenthood began) Ideal Monthly Budget $30 - these are almost the same because it's enough of a change from what we've spent in the past to make a difference, and we always want to budget a family activity each month.

  • Vacation/Travel - We've had a couple of road trips to visit family in the last two months to which we've treated ourselves to a private (modestly priced) hotel room since true privacy, even with Henry along, is a novel thing right now.  There will probably be one or two more trips for the holidays or family visits before the weather gets bad, so we'll either book a very affordable room well in advance or, most likely, bunk up with the relatives.  Realistic Monthly Budget (for months with travel, room + extra gas) $125 Ideal Monthly Budget $50

  • Groceries - Now I believe that caring your family comes first when doling out the money each month.  The first thing I do at the beginning of each month is stock up on essentials for Henry, so that no mater what he has enough food/diapers to get through till the next big paycheck.  However, I used to be a pro a grocery shopping every 2 weeks on a set budget and eating well on it and working those evening shifts have really cramped my cooking style.  So I'm hoping with the hopeful switch to days that I can get back on this horse.  Please remember, with these numbers we're buying food bi-weekly for 4 adults, and sometimes 6 when great-grandparents visit.  Realistic Monthly Budget $800 ($50/person/week ) or $400 for my half-share of the bills Ideal Monthly $600 ($37.50/person/week) or $300 for my half-share of the bills.  This won't include special allowances I factor into my holiday budgets for extra/special food and meals.

The How's

  • Shared Goals - having everyone on the same page makes reaching budget goals much easier.

  • Wiggle Room - don't set such strict goals as you feel deprived and then binge.  Don't beat yourself up if you don't meet the goals exactly - sometimes that pack of double stuffed oreos really does make the world a better place even if it sets you over your goal.

  • Keep out of the stores - easiest way to not spend money is to not go to places where your money is easily spent.

  • Plan and prepare - the meal and food related goals will be better attained once I stretch my pantry stocking/staple recipe muscles again.

  • Use what you have -  We have a well stocked pantry and chest freezer - we could probably eat well for a month with only trips to get milk, butter and fresh veggies.  We definitely have more than enough clothes seeing as how I just had to purchase more hangers for the first time in 3 years.  Honestly, as long as we can keep the gimmie-gimmies away we'll be fine.

  • Down the Road Goals - knowing that becoming accustomed to a tighter budget will make our early home-owning days easier, I'm convinced.  Even in the shorter term it means we can focus our available time, money and energy on creating a great holiday/baptism/first birthday season.


  • Expand repertoire of homemade "convenience" food - looking for the perfect granola and granola bar recipe to start with

  • Learn more about couponing for items like shampoo/toothpaste/toilet paper and other household goods

  • Go into crafting overdrive for the Holidays - I've got the materials, now I just have to deliver.

  • Save up the balance at the consignment store to use for Holiday gifts or hitting up my favorite January clearance sales to stock up on kiddos clothes for next year

Is this all going to be a challenge?  Absolutely.  Hopefully, my lack of access to the late night cafeteria and their little boats of fried balls of cheese will help greatly.  Yes, my name is Molly and I like fried cheese... I think it's an Iowa thing.

Will I feel kick-a$$ for reaching some great financial goals?  Heck yeah.  Maybe I can learn to make my own balls of fried cheese.

Wish me luck!
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