Monday, September 30, 2013

Day 3-9: Back Logging

Hello everyone!
   Sorry for the long absence. My internet was cut off for a bit. Now that we are back in the game I will give a brief account of what everyone missed.
   Day 3: Internet was off, so we traveled outdoors for our information seeking. Not as boring as it sounds. it was actually quite an adventure! Hubby and I both began looking for better employment. Hubbsters did not realize he was making what he was making. Albeit it was a modest income, it was not enough without a second to supplement. We made our rounds, having excellent discussion to whole time, revolving around how to make us better.
    Hubby came up with excellent suggestions on lowering the electric bill. Some we are not willing to do (unplugging all 90874645 devices) but many we agreed would be easy to do. We stay in our living room 90% of the time we are home. So we can block off the vents in the rooms we do not use. Which we did with massive success! We make sure our second hand computers and other electronics are all the way off when not in use, and we are investing in dryer balls and the equipment needed to fix the dryer finally!
   Day 4: reaching quite a few dead ends on Day 3, we hit up quite a few leads on Day 4. I filled out applications for local service establishments in town, and talked to the manager of establishment #1 the very same day! He asked for a follow up the next day (Thursday). Hubby talked to some promising leads, and also got face time with a few computer repair companies. We are hopeful! Update on bathing the fatman with a wash-rag: Sometimes you just need copious amounts of water, but a full bath is unnecessary. He is thoroughly wiped down twice a day (Well, after really messy meals). I am hoping to make bath-time a twice a week occasion.
    Day 5: Hubby was able to revamp his resume (he hasn't touched it in years) To return to said repair companies. One asked for a formal interview Monday! I had an informal interview with the manager of establishment #1 and was told I will be hired, provided the primary manager ok's it. We set up a time for Monday early evening to meet her. I am very confident that I will secure this position. And very excited to be getting out of the house regularly!
     Day 6: Hubby volunteered to stay home and overhaul the house, having his handy-man dad help with repairs. Old Paw never made it, but the house looked amazing. While Hubbsters did this, the fatman and I went to a friend's to help her overhaul her new office space. We made a lot of headway. The Mother In Law (MIL from here on out) needed some time with the grandson so she came by to pick him up and entertain him for the weekend. Since we were off the parenting hook, we proceeded to celebrate by putting up all of Ethan's toys for the weekend and eating an excellent dinner, and waiting for our other 1/3 of our triumvirate, James to arrive. He helps us be more analytical about things and we teach him how to be more outgoing (with him learning faster than we are)
   Day 7 and 8: We relaxed in the evenings and made the most use of our days with a meeting of the minds. The intelligent conversations we had serve to reenergize us for the rest of the week. Keeping each other on our toes. I did not clip coupons this weekend as I was alerted to an alternate method, which I have yet to use. My coupon tutor and I will arrange to meet as soon as I get my schedule from work. Girl time is always highly valued in my book, and I don't want it to be interrupted by having to leave to go to work.
  Day 9: Hubs had his interview with positive results, but not formal hiring. My interview is only an hour off from now. Which I will also combine a trip to the store since we are in need of some items. And I am not quite sure how to get the most of my coupons yet, I will still make use of what I can.
  I have also begun developing well rounded designs to follow up with my ideas for Christmas. My brother in law is probably making out the best. MIL may be getting the second best present. And since I plan to use only things I have on hand or can acquire with little sacrifice on my part, these are going to be the most creative and best gifts I have ever given.

       In the week I was without internet I spent every evening going through my mother's original copies of the Tightwad Gazette (I and II) By Amy Dacyczyn. This is technically the first time I have actually read through them, and they are filled with more information than just pinching pennies. TG is filled to the brim with values, motivation and instruction. Not on how to be a tightwad, but why being frugal is a good thing. Teaching our kids to waste nothing, and earn the things they want leaves behind a better world for all of us. Tightwaddery is not about being deprived. It is about choosing less expensive alternatives to maintain more capitol for long off or long term buys. It gives excellent advice on living a life where choosing to repurpose something isn't about saving it, it's about wasting nothing. I highly recommend these books to anyone and everyone who wishes to leave behind a better world for our children.

  I'll be back tomorrow on Day 10 to cover my possible new employment. God bless you all!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day 2: Let's Talk Numbers

Hello everyone!
   Today was a little more productive as I received the opportunity to do a little extra outside the home for a little gain. I also found a little luck and won a little extra to help me through the next day or so on a scratch ticket (I have won 4 times my whole life so that's saying something!)

     I have been thinking quite a bit about the numbers that revolve around my head, the numbers that define me. I am 25, my husband is 27, our social security numbers, pay stubs, receipts, sizes of shoes. All these numbers have meaning in my life, but what my life seems to revolve around are not these, easily memorized, safely stocked away numbers. The numbers that drive me mad are the cost of rent, the utilities, phones, the car, gas, internet, insurance, and cost of food. These numbers, THESE numbers drive me wild. Please note that they are in order of significance. (rather, what gets paid first, and what gets put on the back burner) They only seem to go up while the size of the paycheck goes down. These numbers make living the life I want seem so close and so completely impossible at the same time.

  How can I make them go down? Make them into bite sized, manageable pieces. Well, I've thought about that. My electric bill is a staggering $200 a month and has been $150 and above since I have lived here. My water bill is $50 a month, and it used to be $35. My house is small, and some of my family members have homes roughly twice the size of mine and pay less than I do. I am lead to believe that firstly, my house is not well built, and I am no contractor and it is obvious. I am unable to afford repairs at the moment so here are my intentions to bring down my utilities: First, shutting off the air when hubby is not home. I don't care if I am hot, and I can wear more clothes if I get cold. Second, I am going to cut back on my laundry. Unless something is visibly dirty, I am not going to wash it. I am trying to convince the hubby to erect me a small clothes line for drying purposes. Sun dried towels will dry you better! I can honestly cut down my shower time, I really don't need to stand in there until the water is boiling hot. And maybe, just maybe, finding a more efficient way to do the dishes. Of course, my son doesn't need  a bath after every time he eats. Cloth wipes work just fine. Those are my first steps, I'll keep everyone posted if it works.

    I think my next step is to talk to my bank about refinancing my car. I don't have a good credit score (a handful of poorly thought out decisions will do that fyi) Because of said bad credit scores, we are paying 22.725% interest. Yeah, it makes me sick too. If that doesn't work I haven't come up with plan B yet. Although, my bank does offer free financial advice from a licensed advisor. Hello Plan B (maybe it should be plan A) Thank God for USAA!

While I thought about how to make my monthly payments go down (I am roughly 600 in the hole every month) I searched, and searched for things to make me money from right here. And duh, freelance writing. I am not educated, but I am well read, articulate and damn, I have a LOT of opinions on things. There are people willing to pay me for what I have to say! As shocked as I was that I have found someone to pay me to not close my mouth, I am venturing down that path. I have plenty of people willing to proofread for me and plenty of things I want out in the open!

   Oh and one other thing, my wonderful vehicle that I am paying damn near loan shark rates to have, couldn't get my amazing hubby to work today. But it's ok. I would much rather worry about what we are going to do, than worry about his safety on that long drive. God is unveiling a path before us, and we are so incredibly scared, and so stressed we can't get to sleep before 1am. Yet, it will all be ok. I have faith that as I pray, my prayers are not falling on deaf ears.

   The remainder of my day is going to consist of finding a ride to the grocery store, and looking for craft ideas to sell some merchandise, and of course give to my mass of people for Christmas gifts :) These things are going to work. I am going to find a way up from this sinking ship and bail us out with my own two hands and all the elbow grease in the world. In case you were wondering, change does not happen over night, but bit by bit. These life altering realizations have accumulated to what most would call an epiphany.

  Thank you for reading! May God fill your day with blessings and your heart with peace!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day 1: Redefining the almighty dollar

     I am not feeling so hot today. A massive headache fell upon me last night, and I am quite tempted to call it a migraine. It was absolutely agonizing. While I prayed and begged to just fall asleep so I would not feel it any more, I couldn't help but simultaneously wish I was back in un-medicated labor. Today the headache is gone, but all the other symptoms remain. The shakiness, the nausea, the fatigue. yay me!

    I spent about an hour or so cutting coupons. I was advised to clip all and organize as I go. There were few coupons for things I purchase, but a ton of coupons of things I would purchase with extra cash. I spent the remainder of the day organizing my work space (which thanks to hubby being so generous is now the kitchen and half of the connected living room.) I discovered many things when I organized (as I always do, every week) and I have allowed my mind to wander as I went. Peaceful thoughts crisscrossed in my head with stressful ones, but after a while a sense of peace spread through me.

   I came up with a few ideas, and my crafty bones started to tingle. As I sit with my financial struggles, I want so badly to finally have a Christmas that I can be happy to contribute to with no cost to me except time. I thought of slippers to make, sweaters and hats for my loved ones (11 brothers and sisters, 3 steps, 10 nieces and nephews, step mom, step dad, mom and dad, one surviving grandma, mother and father in law, step in laws, brother and sister in law. 33, not counting Hubby's aunt's uncles and cousins, also excluding our friends and their children) Whew, that's a lot. Any way, I have quite a few craft skills under my belt and thought that I would love to hand bind a few books and turn them into shared, much abused and annotated family recipes. I thought of possible toys I could make for the kiddos (nieces and nephews from their teens to infants) and sadly worried desperately how everyone might hate a handmade gift, and how that is all I have to offer.

   Some people may think to themselves, how wonderful to craft such things! It being all I have to offer, seems like it may not be good enough. That is the world I live in. Being in the low income bracket that I am in, it seems like everything revolves around what I don't have. Logically I know I should be unconcerned with other's perception of me, but there are those hard fought against insecurities that creep in to tell me "I am poor" "I am unloved without higher finances" "My life could be perfect with more money" and although I am happy with all I have been blessed with, these are the whispers I hear, when I am too tired not to hear them. The flip side of the coin is that more money would give me more options for things I cannot have at this moment. For example if I had more on a regular basis I could afford to make my payments on time and raise my credit score, with a  better score I could get lower payments and come full circle.

   I am not writing these things to gain pity among my followers. I hate pity. I am writing these to detail the events, thoughts, actions and subsequent consequences because I believe that I can do this. I believe I can build a living dream from nothing. I believe that because I want a better life for my family badly enough I will do whatever it takes to get there within the means I have available to me. I want other people to feel it too. To know that they can win this game, even with a shitty hand.

    These thoughts give me strength, and build my confidence. I am crazy smart, energetic, innovative and unbelievably strong. Stringing these thoughts together, in a more concrete form helps me to see that I can do this. I can change my life, and I can have whatever the hell I want because damnit, I earned it!

      I hope everyone feels their blessings today, and God gives them so many more!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

The almighty Dollar

In the last 5 years I have grown to be a somewhat responsible adult in life, a happily married woman, and the very blessed mother of an 18 month old. What I have not conquered in 5 years of ultimate adult-hood is money.
    I have not managed my budgets, scrimped and saved to attain some great long lasting purchase or mastered telling my husband "No" to this week's dream of all dream items. I am sick and tired of it. I am tired of the minimum budget getting us no where, and for the time being, without educations to further our life dreams (of which we have yet to finalize) we have to do something drastically different from what we are doing now.

   My husband and I pride ourselves with our strong convictions, and discipline to commit to eating regiments to lose weight when we want to, or to keep our child well behaved at all times, and to stick to our guns when it matters most. Why oh why can't we just stick to a budget. Here's our answer: I never really learned. I didn't know how to operate a budget, I only knew how to operate money. I want this, and I have enough today. Never even considering what I may want tomorrow. For my husband, unfortunately everything was done for him. Not in a spoiled manner, but in a manner of "here, let me help you." (There is something to be said for letting them work out their own problems)

   So what is a wife and mother of a very small household budget to do? Cut out the crap. Literally and figuratively. I am tired of hiding from my bill collectors and I am damn tired of not being able to purchase the things I need, but can survive another week or so or indefinitely without (new underwear, tires for the car, proper working appliances, a good pair of shoes, etc.)

    I am going to attempt to get a hold on all of my financial nightmares and throw them in the burn pile. I am turning to the experts I have in my life to combine all of their ideas into a new lifestyle. I am damn crafty, I should be able to figure this out, right? God I hope so.

      Anyone want to come with me on this journey? I will be detailing my attempts, trails and errors on a daily basis. Today, I will be reorganizing my home (and for the next few weeks I imagine) and combing through my outstanding financial obligations, and coming up with a plan. Tomorrow I will begin couponing.

   I am nervous, and I am deathly afraid I will fail, but with limited options at the moment, something's gotta give.

    God Bless everyone!
p.s. tips, and suggestions would be welcome and appreciated!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Long time, no see...

Hello Readers!
    It has been an awfully long time since I have written anything. That in and of itself is a little depressing.

    I am coming in hot today to ask some question to the world for those of us who live below our bridge. My financial roller coaster has dipped to a new low recently and I am here to ask, why? It's a simple question, it should have a simple answer right?

    Well in all of my womanly over analyzing of my life, I have found many answers and I don't think any of them are right. The first is that maybe I am being punished for sometimes being a little evil. Wishing bad things on people who irritate me? Or even worse, wishing bad things on people who have it easier than I. The second is that maybe I missed something in the keys to life that everyone just seems to pick up along the way. I must have missed the financial security one. In looking at everything I can go back and say, ha! I must have missed it here, where I could no longer to afford college, so I dropped out. Or there! Where I made a financial commitment I couldn't fill, or there, where I decided it is far more important to spend every day with my child to enrich his life, than to have the money to go grocery shopping without concern.

    These little thoughts whirl through my head on a daily basis, where did I go wrong? Why Can't I simply enjoy what every mother should have an option for? Being a stay at home mom? More grueling that a 60 hour work week, and more rewarding than a career (in my opinion). Why, oh why, can't I simply make a living from the 20+ years of sewing skills I have accumulated in making and selling everything cloth for your little ones?

    What can I do? I ask myself from hour to hour. I have little materials on hand with which to create, and something I enjoy more than I can say. The finished product is so amazing, and mind blowing to me every time! Where is my business? I am doing something I love, and boy do I love every minute of it, where is the money? Isn't that what they say? DO what you love and the money will follow, right? Well without any marketing skills, business savvy, or capital I am a little stuck in the mud. How do I run on my own steam, and not push 40 hour work weeks for a measly paycheck, where the sitter takes half home for her hard work?

   What is wrong with this country we live in where a mother cannot offer her strength, love, support, and life curriculum to her children? It makes me irate! My own little reality leads me to believe that there has to be a better way, but where is it? As my mind offers me so many questions, life offers no answers. So what is a girl to do? I suppose since I cannot afford to stay within my own home and work on my own business, that it may have to become part time until I can, or maybe never can, afford to make it work.

   Dedication is one thing, stupidity is another. I think I may have reached both to new definitions. It will take some time to find a pitifully paying job outside the home with steady hours and pay, so I suppose I will have to create as much as possible.

   I am far from defeated, I am newly resolved. I will do what it takes to make this work. I have fought to hard to be my own person within the roles I have embraced in life. No one is as fierce as a wife and mother who calls the Kingdom her Home.

   God bless everyone!