30 August 2009

First Day of School

Tomorrow is the first day of school for both my kids! Kindergarten for Mr 4 and Preschool for Mr 3.

I'm heading to Target to buy them snacks for school. Yes, I know this is a risk. Yes, I know I realllllly want/need a new pocketbook. Yes, I know they have the one I want at Target. But I'm going there anyway. My will is strong. Or maybe it will be on sale. :)

I ripped out a few of those "cute lunches" articles from Parents and Better Homes and Gardens and I'm bringing them for ideas. I'm also going to look for more little boxes for their lunch foods, instead of using individually wrapped things. We recently went to a museum where they showed two lunches, one with all reusable things and one with all packaged stuff and I asked them which one looked like their lunches, and they picked the reusable one. It was cool! Plus, this month in preschool they are learning about reusing and recycling.

I'm so excited!

22 August 2009

The balance transfer challenge

If you haven't already noticed this about me, I'm highly competitive. Everything is a challenge. So when I saw that the balance transfer went through, I quickly calculated how much I will need to pay each month to have that whole balance paid off in 12 months, and the race is on. I'm pumped!

I am taking my kids for new school shoes today. I have been a quality over quantity kids' shoe buyer from the beginning, a concept I strongly believe is achievable because I have boys. So each fall, spring and summer they get one pair of shoes from Stride Rite, who always seems to size them big enough to fit and last the months that follow. I packed a lunch so we can stay at the mall until lunch and play in the play area, which is healthier and will save us money.

Now if I could only leave these kids home, it would be a great day. :D

18 August 2009

Check me out!

I’m posting this via email! Part of the reason that my posts have become much more infrequent lately is that I used to post from my Blackberry but I hate typing on the iPhone so I haven’t been doing it. Then I realized that Blogger allows you to post via email, and I’m trying it out. So far, so good!


I started the book, but I’m not in it enough to post yet, so there is still plenty of time to find a copy! I go through books slowly because I don’t have a lot of time to read.


I transferred the balance on that credit card and then yesterday I increased my allowances on my taxes so that my paycheck will get larger. I have until August 2010 with this zero balance transfer and I plan on using that as a deadline to pay that card off. In the past I have transferred balances and then paid off high interest debt while the other amount remained at zero percent. I’m switching this up because now it feels like a race or a challenge to pay it off before the interest rate skyrockets, plus then I won’t have to deal with transferring the balance again, which costs me in fees. I feel confident because I’m so dedicated to paying this off, so I wouldn’t recommend this unless you think you can either pay off the balance or find another good rate to transfer to when the offer expires.


16 August 2009

Introducing the Year of Frugal Living Book Club!

That's right! Now you can read along with me and discuss books that have to do with money, food, life and everything in between. And you'll even get to discuss them with a real librarian! (Not that I run book clubs in real life or anything... )

This is how it's going to work- I have selected Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal Vegetable Miracle" for the first book, after that if others would like to suggest titles I think that would be great. The best place to get the book is your local library- use this search to find out where you can score one locally if you're not already a library user.

Anyway, every couple of days I'll post the title of one of the chapters and then everyone can comment on it with our thoughts, so that if you haven't read that far yet it won't be a spoiler for you.

I hope this is something that people are interested in! I'm excited.

A quick observation

I am a label reader at the grocery store, and I have noticed that often times the store brands actually have less bad additives (high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutomate, etc) in them than the name brands. For example, Lenders bagels have corn syrup, but the store brand doesn't, Gorton's fish sticks have MSG, but the store brand doesn't and Target brand fruit loops don't have corn syrup either. And the store brand is obviously cheaper!

15 August 2009

Breaking away

I just got back from a little vacation to a friend's house (the same friend that invited us away last summer) and found out that my ex took off again while I was gone, but he's back already.

In the 12 hours or so between finding out he was missing and getting a call from him that he was back, I did a lot of thinking about my life and what I want and need to do to be happy. What I came up with is this:
I need to live my life as if he did not exist. I need to worry about myself and
my kids. I deserve to be happy.

I tried to take an extra job to make some more money but right now it doesn't look like that is going to work out. I have decided to change the allowances in my taxes to give me more money per paycheck, mainly because I have already paid in what I owed last year, and I'll be taking both kids as dependants for 2009 since my ex owes me child support (that's what the divorce agreement says). I found a balance transfer that looks like a good opportunity, and I am starting to think about having a tag sale, even though I really don't want to. I also plan on pursuing a class in the Spring instead, or maybe doing some other extra work that one of my bosses mentioned to me.

In the meanwhile, I'm going to restructure my budget to reflect this goal of not depending on my ex. That way, when he DOES give me child support money each week, it will go directly to debt. I don't think I make enough to cover all my bills by myself, but I do think I can come close if I increase my income with the tax thing and decrease my debt payment by doing the balance transfer and then quickly paying off my car (which should free up 250$ a month to put towards credit cards).

I think this will give me a real emotional boost.

04 August 2009

Michael Pollan on Cooking

In this week's New York Times Magazine, Michael Pollan (one of my all time favorite writers) talks about cooking:

Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch
Published: August 2, 2009
How American cooking became a spectator sport, and what we lost along the way.
*Just a few words from me on this:

When people cut their budget, one of the first things that
gets cut is groceries. Not only does this end up being
time consuming (all the coupon cutting, flyer scouring,
driving to the cheapest store) but it negatively impacts
the quality of the food you buy. I've talked about this
before, but the food you eat is the fuel that helps you
work hard, play hard and feel good. Not only that, but a
good diet is a good investment in your health. So, visit the farmer's market, check out a cookbook from the library,
and go for it.

03 August 2009

the moral of the story

I have a confession- I nearly gave up.

With the disappearance of my ex husband came the disappearance of most of my child support, and no stop to my bills. And I had to travel for work, which means putting out my own money and waiting a LONG time to be reimbursed, and also a birthday party or two and, to be honest, a summer filled with fun and money spent.

And so in all this lack of income and money spent was a sense of failure. Like I was undoing everything I had done, and it was never going to get better. I looked up bankruptcy, but decided against it. I thought about asking for a loan, but didn't. I ignored my bills because I didn't want to see how bad it was, and even bounced a check.

At the last minute, though, I didn't give up. And what I think the secret is is never, ever give up. So you screw up? Get back on track the next morning. It's never worth giving up.

I *might* be teaching a class this fall, and that will bring in some extra money. If I do it, I'm hoping to pay off an entire credit card with the money. Then I can start working on paying off my car- something I have never done before! I have never really owned anything. I will be really proud when I send in that last payment!