Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Little Bear

Dear Sweet Stephen,

Last night, you woke up screaming at 2:00am because you are getting your second tooth. We changed your diaper. We gave you juice. We gave you tylenol. We gave you orajel. We gave you more juice. And then we let you cry. And you cried and cried and cried. For over 20 minutes. So finally, I got to snuggle with you.

I took you into the guest room and we cuddled close. You laid there gnawing on your hand and my fingers, making sweet noises. I smelled your washed hair and nuzzled your cheek and rubbed your head and helped you calm down. And I thought about how someday, when we dance at your wedding, I will remember getting to be The One for you for this short time.

The One you love. The One you need. The One who calms and soothes and snuggles and loves. The One who provides. The One who cares. The One who will never be able to completely let you go.

I love you so much more than I can say. And last night was one of the best nights of my life.


No Spend Month – Update # 2

Time for a quick update for how our No Spend Month is going.

I don’t know that it can necessarily be classified as a “No Spend Month” anymore. I would say that we are still succeeding pretty well in the eating out area. We have only eaten at restaurants 6 times in June compared to 14 for the same timeframe in May. We are down over 50%.

We went to Yorktown this past weekend for a wedding that I was in. This was also something that was planned before the No Spend Month was established so there were some expenses that went along with it like getting my hair done, dress alterations, and suit alterations for Brian that were unavoidable. I mean I guess if I was super committed I could have done my own hair but…I wasn’t. Maybe next time.

Our Wins for June 9 – 20

Jen – Yesterday morning we were out of coffee and I didn’t even want to stop at Starbucks. I just drove right by it and had a diet coke instead and avoided the caffeine headache I usually get.

Brian – He really wanted to buy a cigar a few times and used self control. Someone at work ended up giving him one out of the blue which was exciting.

Our Wins

We have successfully eaten the food we bought the grocery store for dinner instead of going out to eat b/c we didn’t feel like cooking.

Our Rooms for Improvement

Brian – Brian went out with the boys for tacos one Thursday night. Originally he was supposed to use a gift card that ended up being totally confusing and unusable (NOTE: Restaurant.com gift cards are not the greatest gifts). So my expectations were pretty high. I thought maybe he would spend like $20 and $25 max but hopefully closer to $15. The bill ended up getting split equally and Brian paid twice as much as I thought he would. To say I was upset is putting it very lightly. Livid, About to Cry, Wanting to Gnash my teeth and heap iniquities upon him is more accurate.

This leads us to…

Jen – The same week of the Taco Night Debacle, I ended up spending $14 for a foam roller for running, $25 for Bible Study snacks that I hadn’t planned on, and $8 for something else that I can’t even remember now. As I was getting angry enough to cry at Brian about what he spent at dinner, I was convicted that I had spent literally the exact same amount on unplanned things that I didn’t need to. It was a glaring reminder of how hypocritical I can be – holding Brian to a higher standard than I ever set for myself. I give him a hard time while he gives me grace every time I mess up.

We have had a few other areas for improvement this week but I don’t need to go into all the gritty details. I think we are learning how hard it can be to delay gratification, to not get what we want when we want it, and to spend conservatively for things like gifts and times with friends.

I am thankful for grace. We don’t have to be perfect. And if all we do is get our eating out at restaurants under control, I will call this month a success.

But we still have 9 days to go and I am hoping we will finish well!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

No Spend Month Update - Week 1

We have officially completed Week 1 of "No Spend Month". We have not been perfect by any means but I am trying to give ourselves grace b/c we are learning and this is a trial thing. We are under grace, not the law here. So I decided to share our "Wins" and our "Learning Opportunities" for Week One.

Jen's Win
After I ran a half marathon on Saturday I wanted pizza worse than anything in the world. Brian gently reminded me that it was No Spend Month so I opted for Macaroni and Cheese instead. I figure we saved $18 at least. WIN!

Brian's Win
Brian has been invited to go out to lunch at work at least twice by people in his office and he has opted to stay back and have Spaghettio's or a sandwich. $15 saved. WIN!

Our Win
We used a gift card to buy a pound of Starbucks coffee that lasted us 10 days. We paid $12 for the pound. It comes out to about $0.50 per person per day. If we had purchased coffee at our respective coffee shops, we would have spent $20 this week. We are also learning to perfect the art of making your own coffee. WIN!

Learning Opportunities
We went to a really fun wine festival with some friends on Sunday. We had made the commitment to go prior to deciding on June being the No Spend Month. It was a really fun time and honestly, worth the $24 per person tickets but it was still money that we spent on something frivolous. Although, there was this chocolate wine that was pretty much worth every penny.

Brian bought some suits last month and the alterations ended up being about twice as much as we expected. But he needs them for a wedding we are going to this month. So what can you do.

Goal for Week 2
This coming week I hope that we will make less quick trips to the grocery store. There were a few times where we were craving something and so we went to get it instead of just making what we had. So the goal is to plan the meals ahead of time and stick to it. And to make sure we have stuff to make homemade pizza always on hand :o)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Glamorous Life of Living on a Budget

Doesn’t living on a budget seem glamorous in certain ways? Maybe it is just me, but when I read blogs and see fri
ends who are “living simply” I feel this longing to do the same.

So I analyze our spending down to the penny. I make excel spreadsheets and figure out that we spent 26% of our income on diapers and formula and 15% on eating at restaurants. I come up with spending reduction goals and tell Brian that we can each only spend $6 a day.

And then something happens. I like to call it the Romans 7 principle:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

The day after I make my decree, I stop at Starbucks (because I’ll get a headache without my morning coffee) and get a breakfast sandwich (b/c we were out of

granola bars) and I tell myself it is okay b/c I will eat lunch at my desk and have soup for dinner. And then my coworker says, “Let’s go to Chick-Fil-A” and I say, “OKAY” (b/c who can turn down Chick-Fil-A???). On the way home I stop at Target to pick up something we need and end up spending $150 (b/c I need some more totes to organize baby clothes and eye makeup remover and 17 other things I did not intend to buy) and then I get home and all we have is pasta with no sauce and Oreos so I decide we really must order pizza (b/c I also have to have pizza at least once a week). And then I feel guilty for eating out so much and spending money so I just decide to not look at our bank account until it’s time to pay the bills again and I hope we stay in the black. It is a great system, Right?

As our babies get cuter and cuter (and cuter) and more fun, my desire to stay at home with them increases exponentially. And when we have Baby #3 it will become a necessity (b/c childcare costs are whack and believe it or not, working is actually pretty freaking expensive).

But in order to make that possible we have to be disciplined with our finances in a few ways:

  1. We need to figure out how much money we need to live frugally but not miserably. It is okay to eat out once or twice a week. But we do it a lot more than that. For no good reason.
  2. We need to actually have a budget. Like a real one. That we follow. And are accountable to.
  3. We need to not spend so much money on stuff we don’t need. Like eating out. And eating out some more. And Target.
  4. We need to give more to our church. I am a firm believer that God will bless us when we are cheerful givers and give as an act of trusting Him. It is really easy for me to think of our giving to God as an option when really it should be a priority. But I am admitting here that a lot of times it is not. So I want to get better at that.

I have a renewed focus on all this because we spent a little too much last month and, as a result, we are making June a No Spend Month. I heard about this from my favorite blog, Small Notebook (www.smallnotebook.org) and I am looking forward to the challenge. Basically, you don’t spend money on stuff you don’t have to (like eating out, stuff you want but don’t need, trips, activities, etc).

We have talked about it a few times but that’s all it was – talk. So now we HAVE to do it. I think it will be difficult and that a lot of our bad habits will be revealed and tested. But I know that it will be beneficial and if we can actually make it through to the end, we will be better for it. I will keep you posted on our progress.