Saving and Homemaking 4/21

We had a very relaxed Easter with a walk to church (good exercise plus it avoids the jam packed parking lot!), simple meals, and plenty of time outside raking leaves and debris out of the garden.

Saving

The Easter Bunny had some unexpected success at CVS this week. I bought some nice items for my daughter’s baskets with a 32% off coupon, a 40% off L’Oréal Cosmetics, and a $3.00 off 10.00 on Cosmetics. I haven’t paid much attention to CVS but when I know I will buy a number of things I go check out the CVS digital coupons.

I tried to watch the impulse purchases this week because my last check was only 40.00 from not working over spring break!

Planning

We started costing out a trip to Toronto this summer and weighing costs for driving vs. flying. We try to always stay with the same hotel company when we travel to get rewards points, which we have managed to accrue and redeem. IHG has been good for us.

Reading

This week I really enjoyed reading this memoir from Elizabeth of the frugalwoods blog. It’s not really a step by step instruction book, more a glimpse of the decisions one couple made to realize their dream of living in rural Vermont. I could relate to the intensity they brought to the financial planning process. If you have visited their blog, you may also enjoy this book. Check it out from the library!

Earning

This week I earned 40.00 through my health insurance company for participation in their online coaching for asthma. I checked in every few days and logged information about exercise, diet, and medication compliance. I also got a pneumonia shot through the program. Many health insurance companies have online programs for wellness, weight loss, smoking cessation, diabetes management etc. These funds can be used towards medical copays and other medical expenses. Every year I maximize whatever they offer me. The only one I haven’t completed is stress reduction !!!

How was your week?

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How Did You Do That?

This morning I said, “Hey it’s our debt-free anniversary!” It’s a good thing I have the blog because that’s how I keep track of how many years it has been. Eight! When we paid off our house DD was in kindergarten and now high school is on the horizon.

She said, “How did you guys DO that?”

Short answer… when we were first married and had less income we paid off all of our credit cards, then our car. We hated interest! After that, we only bought what we could pay in full for (except the house). Then we went after the mortgage.

I shared that most people use credit/debt to pay for trips, clothes, cars.

I never envisioned how quickly our decision to be debt free would become a touchstone for talking about college costs. Many people would say, “Eighth grade is WAY too early to think about college!” I disagree! Three years from now she will be narrowing down choices for college, which is a $100,000 + financial decision. One day you’re deciding how much babysitting money to put on your Starbucks card and the next day you’re taking out a $7,000 unsubsidized loan (interest accrues right away). The steps she takes in high school can directly correlate into money and more choices for college, if she wants them. We have found that when you stop borrowing money you need to think 2-3 years out for major expenses.

If you’re at the beginning of a journey to pay off credit cards or school loans, keep going! It’s a huge undertaking in our culture of readily available credit, but if you are successful you will give yourself and your children an amazing head start at building wealth and freedom.

Back and Saving for the Big Stuff

This morning I was reading old blog posts to get menu plan ideas for the coming week. One theme that really stood out for me was how many years we have saved for big expenses, and how we actually achieved them over time. New siding, basement bathroom, trip to England and Ireland. Done without taking on debt, but with a good amount of budget focus week after week.

Bath, England

We are still at it too!

This spring we had an unexpected opportunity to go to Europe, and when we came back, we just wanted to travel MORE! It lit a fire under the budget process we have used for years and made us want to be a bit more mindful to come in under budget whenever we can so we have more more to put towards future travel.

So this Sunday we are home, waiting for it to snow (Spring, where are you?!), and eating from the pantry. I’ll work up a meal plan for the coming week and we will see if we can save some money this coming week.

Travel wish list: Scotland, Denmark, Germany via river cruise.

It feels good to breathe some new motivation into the budgeting we have been doing for 25 years.

What is your current financial focus?

Prisoner of Clutter?

Toys? Root of Modern Clutter?

In the past few days the article “Today’s families are prisoners of clutter” from the Boston Globe has been trending all over my Facebook feed.  I’m not sure why this article got kicked back to life, since it is almost 5 years old, but it interested me nonetheless.

I was intrigued by the portrayal of 21st century kids as over-saturated with toys.  Growing up, one of my sets of Grandparents rarely gave Christmas or birthday gifts.  It was more of a special event when they did.  They raised 6 kids, who had kids, and there were just too many Grandchildren to undertake gifts for every event.  In contrast, my mom only has one Grandchild.  My daughter also receives gifts from aunts and uncles.

That can make for a lot of toys.

I can imagine this situation reaches a crisis if you have a few kids, and the stream of toys keeps coming throughout the year.

The article states that one problem with the avalanche of toys is adults’ unwillingness to part with the toys and their desire to save the toys for future grandchildren.  A result is Rubbermaid tubs in the garage and nowhere for cars.

What is the toy situation at your house?

I have been lucky to have other relatives in the family to hand things down to.  One child gets all of my daughter’s clothes, and the choicest toys and books.  I don’t want to overwhelm them with toys either!  Other items I sold at rummages (like the Melissa and Doug mentioned in the article) or gave to Goodwill.  Items we still have include Legos, dollhouse, Calico Critters, American Girl dolls, Barbies, dinosaurs, and wooden blocks.  Those items put together are probably more toys than I had in my whole childhood, and that doesn’t even account for the items we don’t have anymore.

It’s hard for me to refute the assertion in the article that today’s kids have too many toys.

Playing the Scenario Out

Will today’s children become parents with tubs and tubs of toys to hand down, passing along the clutter crisis?  I have found that every few years there are a lot of toys we can pass along in one way or another.  Kids make great leaps in terms of interests and maturity and suddenly you both know that an item has served its purpose.  The problem comes in when we — the parents — don’t want to let the toys go.  It’s not Great Depression mentality.  Maybe it’s closer to a wish to have another crack at reliving the joy of childhood.  Certainly some items are “keepers” but saving enormous amounts of toys for hypothetical kids to come decades away means the toys aren’t able to give someone else joy.  Saving things also make a lot of assumptions about what a future child would be interested in — My Little Pony?  Beanie Boos? Anna and Elsa?

I can’t say this article doesn’t hit a nerve.  Though we have come to the very end of the toy buying years, the article will stay with me as we go through bins of toys.  Today we have some Dora Legos, Princess items, games, and craft kits headed for new homes.  It’s a start.

What are your thoughts on the article?  I’m interested in the opinions of those with and without kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving and Homemaking 6/18

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Take care of your garden Leprechaun

It’s Sunday evening where I am.  We have the windows wide open to catch the cool breeze and I am getting the great scent of mock orange blossoms which I picked from the neighbor’s shrub.  I’ll try to get a picture of them for you for my next post.  It has the most blissful scent that just makes me glad to be alive.  The neighborhood kids are outside and I am grateful my daughter is old enough that I don’t have to worry about what shenanigans are going on out there.

Last week I wrapped up my last day of work so now I can get down to the business of being an at-home mom for a few months.

Cooking

You know what I made this week?

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Frosting.  Epic quantities.  DD took a cake decorating class and we went through 2 cans of Crisco and 4 lbs of powdered sugar.  When we weren’t making frosting, we were washing frosting out of clothes, decorating tips, you name it.  You should see the shine in my mixing bowl!

DD took over a night of cooking this week and made egg salad.  She has that meal down pat.  I asked her this summer to make (with any help she needs) and plan a meal every week when she doesn’t have camp.

Saving

Our biggest savings this week came from Mr. Saver researching our cable TV situation and, unable to negotiate a lower price with U-verse, we switched to SlingTV/Hulu at a reduction of about $ 45.00/month.  We are pleased with the channels available to us given the savings.  I appreciate the time he put in on this.  That’s some real money.

Cleaning

Lots of activity in this department.  I tackled a few problem areas, such as the area around our printer, which accumulates paper, school work and catalogs.  I parted with some school art work from years ago and found other gems worth keeping in a more permanent set-up.

This week I want to address some problems such as lack of space for seasonal items like blankets and duvets.  When you live in a vintage house, there is no walk-in anything.  To do this, I am going to need to get into closets and get some items headed to Goodwill.  I am thankful for the time in summer to do this.

Reading

You know I always have a few books in play.  This week I am finishing Kate Singh’s book on homemaking, and am also reading the 1943 Newbery-award winning book “Adam of the Road” set in 13th C England.  I’m highlighting all over the pages because the writing is so beautiful, especially to a lover of England.

The rafters and the walls were dark with smoke, but otherwise everything was neat and clean.  Dame Malkin’s bed in the corner was spread with a blue coverlet, her table was scrubbed white, and her oak cupboard against the wall had been rubbed with beeswax till it gleamed.

If you love England, this is a must read book about the life of a minstrel and his son roaming the English Countryside.

Thinking

On my mind these days are thoughts about the Sabbath, and lack of rest in modern life.  Also thinking about clutter and how it can keep us apart from God.  More on these topics to come.

I hope your Father’s Day was lovely!  Talk to you again soon.

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1895 architecture that caught my eye.

More Homemaking and Saving 6/10

Patio Flowers – So Pretty!

I’m enjoying a spot of quiet this afternoon with a cool breeze coming in the window, iced coffee at hand, and a view of the neighborhood boys trying out the Slip and Slide despite the 65 degree temperatures.  It’s time for a big exhale as DD’s school year is finished and I have just one more day of work on Monday.

Saving

Not a lot of shopping this week, so the primary way we saved was staying home.  One major expense was a speedy purchase of a swimsuit for my daughter.  This weekend will be in the 80s-90s and the village pool is open.  She wanted something specific (swim shorts), and it had to be functional for a church youth retreat at Lake Superior this summer.  We went straight to Athleta, which I knew would not be cheap.  Prior to going I jumped on their website and got a 20% off coupon by signing up for emails.  I used money from her clothing budget to pay for it.

Mr. Saver knew we could eventually need a new wireless router and he had one  waiting in his Amazon wishlist.  He checks his list every day for price drops, and usually catches a good price that way.  The router was a deal of the day and he nabbed it.

Cooking

Our village has an open house this weekend — the pool is free, the village construction crews bring out the big tractors and diggers for kids to check out, and there are various sports team mascots to meet and greet.  I made several dishes for the weekend so we would have meals to enjoy all weekend — tuna salad, chili, rhubarb crisp, sliced berries.  Usually when I am working I don’t have the stamina to do this on a Friday, but I am glad I did so I can enjoy the weekend fun too.

My friend’s peonies and a lone rose from ballet recital.

Homemaking

We are busy getting our home into summer vacation mode!  Had DD unpack her backpack and go through all of her school folders.  It’s lovely to not have a backpack, folders, and clarinet sitting next to my front door!

I took some time to wash all of the ballet leos and tights and boxed them up until September.  It is so helpful to have them all corralled into one place.

I took our back door “water hog” mat outside to spray it off from winter salt and mud.  Washed the floor under it.  I did the same at the front door.

I picked flowers at my friend’s home where I am house sitting (it’s OK with her!)

Reading

I am enjoying the e-book  The Homemade Housewife by fellow blogger Kate Singh .  I particularly like the way she relates her personal journey of living well on a single income.  Check out her blog and see if her writing resonates with you, too.

Family Fun

At the Community Open House DD got to climb a real tree with the help of professional arborists and their various pulleys and ropes.  The arborist standing way up in the tree said “welcome to my office!”

I’ve been on many a walk with DH and bike ride with DD this week.

How was your week?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shop the Locker

This post is urgent for those with kids still in school!  Shortly your kids will be cleaning out their locker or cubbie.  You would be shocked at how many school supplies have not been touched!  Most schools put out bins to donate leftover school supplies to the district’s summer school program in addition to big garbage cans right in the hallway.

Here is what we reclaimed (so far!) from my middle school student’s locker:

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The graphing notebook had three pages used.  I know that was expensive.  The unopened Post-It’s are like GOLD… those things are crazy expensive!  The markers are missing fuchsia.  When your kids are little you fear sending then to school with a 10 pack of markers if the teacher asked for 12, but by middle school you are more of a skeptic.  My experience is that most of these supplies are never touched!

Now, if you have an upper elementary/middle school student, a bribe may be necessary to get these supplies back.  In my case, it was a pick up at school and a trip to Starbucks.  Trust me, I am well ahead of the $ 4.55 spent on a Frappucino!

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I always keep a school supply bin available.  In this one you see yet more filler paper and a 10 piece math set which I got for .25 in October.   If you want to be a black-belt school supply saver, keep a list of the supplies for the grade your child will enter the following year and be on the lookout for any odd or expensive items.

I would love to hear about you school supply adventures!