DIY for “all the reasons”

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Okay you all know how cheap I am, seriously, I’ll do anything to help save a few bucks here and there.  Except extreme coupon, that is way over my head.  However, I fortunately am entertained by many do-it-yourself projects which actually end up saving me money in the long run.  While sitting in my living room I can see two projects that have been financial “wins” for my family.  The first is our TV stand, the second is Elizabeth’s learning tower.

Our TV stand is some sort of victorian dresser-type piece that was the worst condition of furniture we had ever tackled.  We learned so much while working on it and learned a handful of techniques as well.  Our TV stand cost us under $100 for the entire project which is hundreds less than most tv stands, let alone real wood ones.

The learning tower allowed us to take a stab at a very “hands on” approach to parenting.  Before our tower Elizabeth would cry at our feet simply because she was so interested in what we were doing on the counters that she couldn’t see.  With the tower she is able to watch what we’re doing from a safe distance, or right up in the mix.  It has allowed us to spend more time in there cleaning or cooking and has exposed her to those very life skills which she is already mimicking!  The learning tower cost us under $50 which is a fraction of what regular learning towers cost.

Yay for DIY!

Prepping for baby: meals, crafts, chores…

Yesterday, with football playing on the laptop situated on the kitchen counter, my husband and I prepped numerous frozen meals for after our second baby’s arrival.  I’m due tomorrow, so we’re cutting it close this time around with this “prep for baby” stuff.  However, yesterday really was a breakthrough.  We accomplished so much it was so rewarding.  I intend on making posts in the next couple weeks about the meals we prepped, as we eat them, so I can give you a real opinion of the food after it’s been cooked and eaten rather than just after it has been prepped and frozen.  Another huge benefit of prepping is that it will help us with our “no spend October” goal as well.  We spent about $80 at the grocery store Saturday which covered every single meal we made.  We made enough dinners for two adults to eat for well over two weeks, maybe even three!

We spend our breakthrough morning cleaning around the house, doing simple catch-up chores, and food prepped in the afternoon while simultaneously either watching football  (the husband) or reminding others to continue stirring (myself).  😉  In the evening after cleaning up the kitchen and eating our own lame dinners we relaxed for a bit watching a little of the Sunday Night Football game, and I worked on Baby #2’s quilt.  I was able to finish quilting it and squared it up so the only thing remaining is to put the trim around the edges and it will be finished! 😀

Yesterday was truly a great day for both baby preparedness and mental preparedness!  I’m hoping this little one makes her debut on Thursday, we’ll see! 🙂

No Spend October

You read that right!  We’re doing another “no spend” month however this time we as a family will all be together for it!  In order to help prepare for this coming month we’ve stocked up the freezer and pantry a little bit and have some tasks ahead of us.  The tasks are simple: learn how to be a family of 4 (baby is due October 4th).  We will spend cash instead of swiping the debit card to ensure that the allotted budget isn’t manipulated or abused, and we will stick with it.  We absolutely have to get our heads in the game.

Dave Ramsey talks about a facade people who have unhealthy budgets have: nice new vehicles, all the fun vacations, great meals out and excursions, essentially “keeping up with the Jones’.”  Since they’re paying for everything later they cannot actually afford the things they have.  They use loans.  Loans are debt.  Debt is money you do not have therefore you cannot afford the item.  Financially fit families live with what they have, or less, so that they can buy with today or even yesterday’s money.  That’s our goal.  We’re working on becoming debt free while living with one income.  In order to help speed up the debt pay-down process we’re randomly challenging ourselves to “no spend” months.

Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish with No Spend October:

  • Spend as little as possible on groceries
  • No “wants”
  • No trips or visits out of town
  • More time with family in our local surrounding
  • Put more money toward debt than usual
  • Create good solid spending (or lack there of) habits

I’m hoping that since we will be adding another little into our family we will have more motivation to stay home and not spend money. 😉  Stop by to help us stay accountable as I will be posting throughout the month with progress updates.  Maybe once we get the hang of this “no spend month” obstacle we host an accountability group for our friends and family who want to give it a shot as well, as for now it’s just us. *fist bump emoji*

No Spend August meals week 4

This is the last full week in August, yay!  September we will begin preparing freezer meals in preparation for the next little baby’s arrival so our grocery trips will be a little bit more expensive than usual, but will save time, money, and sanity in the long run.

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B: Oatmeal (E), Cereal (me); L: Leftover spaghetti; D: Tyson chicken breast, rice, corn

23

B: Peanut butter toast, applesauce; L: Egg salad sandwiches; D:  Leftover butter and parm noodles, mixed veggies

24

B:  Cereal, applesauce; L: Rice, fruit,  D:  Beef stroganoff, peas and carrots

25

B:  Cereal, banana;  L: Leftover beef stroganoff;  D: Spaghetti, mixed veggies

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B: Waffles, applesauce;  L: PB&J;  D:

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B: Cereal, yogurt, banana; L: Out with friends visiting town; D: Pizza

28

B: Cereal, banana; L: Leftover spaghetti; D: Blueberry muffins, eggs

Will comes home tomorrow so our month is about to become much more exciting, and much different in terms of meals and this will be the last meal post for August because of that…  Can’t throw myself under the bus just yet! 😉

No Spend August day 28

It doesn’t even seem like this month is just about over!  I’m motivated to do another no spend challenge and hopefully have more success next time.  With that being said I’m still very pleased about how well we did this month.  We would have been much more successful if my husband’s phone hadn’t fried, and if he didn’t need to make last-minute purchases for things he needed (he was in the field all month).  Those purchases are what have hit us the most this month, but were basically unavoidable.

We have both cheated during this month.  I have purchased a few meals out including a slice of pizza at Sam’s club and a lunch with friends visiting for the day.  I definitely rationalize the lunch date, the pizza slice was avoidable but it was $2 and I would not have made it through the shopping trip I was so hungry and drained (keep in mind the 34 weeks pregnant thing).  I have also purchased $33 worth of toys for Elizabeth to receive when dad gets home, as gifts from him.  Alternatively, Will has purchased a few meals here and there, and all of his “last minute needs” in the field are definitely cheats because, well, he has plenty of socks in his dresser, he just didn’t pack them.

Going forward with “no spend month” challenges I want to keep in mind that we will need to:

  • Meal plan because feeding an adult man (who cannot eat as blandly as Elizabeth and I have this past month) will require more thought and preparation.
  • Plan it during a “normal” month when my husband will be home so he isn’t tempted to spend money or be in a situation where he is unable to use something we already own, like all of his socks.
  • Give ourselves tasks to accomplish around the house.  I believe that having a to-do list at home has kept me busy around the house rather than wandering stores impulsively buying things, and it has benefited the home as well!

Which month would you recommend for doing another No Spend challenge?  Have you ever done a challenge similar to this?

No Spend August day 22

Since the last “no spend month” update I’ve completed Elizabeth’s quilt which I plan to do a post for in the days coming, I have sold the daybed and two dressers, and continued the pre-move clean up around the house.

I’m hoping within the next week to prime over the painted wall in our guest bedroom, get started on baby #2’s quilt, and to continue working toward emptying the pantry and not purchasing a lot of food.

At the beginning of the month I had expected to build a big wish list of all these things I would want to buy during this month but in all reality I haven’t really wanted anything badly enough to add to a list.  Luckily things that I’ve been craving are foods so I’ve been allowed to get them even with keeping the grocery list short, sweet, and cheap.  Instead of this wish list of things to purchase I’ve been creating a wish list of things to accomplish for September which so far include stripping and re-staining our dining table which we’ve intended on doing since we purchased it last November and repainting our buffet.  The reason I would like to get those two jobs completed is because while we’re in this house we can cordon off our dining room whereas whatever house we move into next will have a more open floor plan so we’d have to move the pieces to the garage to really work on them.

We’re also hoping to make a trip to IKEA sometime in September which we are both so excited for.  Who doesn’t love IKEA?!  The nearest IKEAs are in Charlotte, NC and in Woodbridge, VA so we’ll be going to the Woodbridge one and staying with his parents, two birds one stone! 🙂  I’m hoping to make a post after visiting about the best items under $50 from IKEA so keep your eye out for that.

What would you recommend most to purchase from IKEA?  There are a couple furniture pieces we have in mind and a handful of smaller and cheaper items to help keep the home more organized.

No Spend August day 17

The months where we are the most successful in putting a lot of money toward debts, and spending little money, always seem the most stressful while we’re dealing with them.

We always pay toward debts as soon after the paycheck as we can, otherwise it might be spent elsewhere.  However, in putting more than the average payment to a loan, our bank account appears much smaller than it typically would be.  Well that’s how I’m feeling so far this month.  I know we haven’t spent more money than usual, but I look at it and am like, “whoa, no way.”  I also know that we’ve been great and we’re on track, but I’ll fully realize just how successful this month was next month when I do our budget breakdown.

The month is half way through which means we’re half-way there!  If that isn’t the most obvious sentence ever…

So what have I been up to?

I’ve been working on Elizabeth’s quilt.  Yeah, over 13 months late, it’s long overdue.  I’ve been purging a little bit here and there.  I’ve been napping. Seriously, almost 1 nap a day lately.  I might as well while I can.  Elizabeth and I visited with her grandparents for a day.

Today’s tasks to accomplish include: Clear off our daybed because it’s being sold, clean up from yesterday (I was a tad lazy in my everyday-cleanup tasks), and possibly, hopefully, maybe, finish E’s quilt.

Wish me luck!!