Hello, hello!

I’ve been working and the housework has been slipping. We are letting it pile up until the weekends and it’s getting out of hand. Papers are piling up from the week, laundry is piling up (meaning that it’s getting dried instead of hung), and meal planning is gone. I have been sticking to our usual budget though, and we’re (slowly) getting a little saved. We are going to need quite a bit more in a short amount of time if we want to get the house ready to sell soon, but I’m working on it. That’s the other thing, it’s about time to start getting the house ready to sell. That means we can’t leave housework for the weekends as we are going to have to spend weekends packing and painting and finishing. Ugh!


Things are about to get very stressful.


Work is going well, I finished the first bit of school and did well. I’m off to the next bit soon, and then it’s a sprint to the finish for 6 months. Yikes! And the move will be right in the middle of that. It’s going to be rough. But, our family motto is (or should be), “We Shall Persevere!” And we shall.


Being green has been average. We are not doing as much as we used to, but we are still doing about as much as the average family. Lights off, recycling, setting the thermostat appropriately, that sort of thing. Not the greatest, but it’s nice to know that my efforts have paid off in the habits that I acquired.


Thrifty. Well, thrifty is a little harder. Like I said, I’ve been sticking to our regular budget, but I should be reducing it to get to the totals we need to put new carpet in the house and still have money to pay the kids’ tuition. This is the last year that they’re going to private school, so that’s nice at least. We are moving to a better school district so that they can go to public school. It’s going to be a big change for them, but they’ll adjust. Anyway, I have been online window shopping for the new house. So far, replacing every stick of furniture in the house with my dream stuff is only going to cost $22,000!  A bargain! The problem is, wish listing a $3,500 bedroom set makes it a lot easier to spend $30 on something stupid in real life. We haven’t been doing too poorly, but I do need to step up our saving efforts. Shopping from lists and meal planning is going to be key going forward. Planned left overs will be another thing that needs to happen. That way we can bring good, filling food for lunches the next day. We have both been going out to lunch more often than is good for our wallets or our waistlines.


Overall, we aren’t doing too badly. The biggest challenge is housework right now. So, I’m off to do laundry, bye!

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Beautiful chaos

I’ve been working for two months now and it’s been actually pretty great. I’m learning new things and meeting new people. This feels like a place I can stay for a good, long while (provided I pass the school!). It is, as is always the case with a new job, a bit intimidating sometimes but, overall, it’s good.


We have picked out the cabinets, carpets, tile, audio/visual hookups, and hardwood floors for the new house. It’s super exciting and I am so very happy with how it’s all going to look. Since it’s a new construction and we aren’t looking to close until March, they won’t break ground for another couple of months. Right now we’re saving money for new carpets for the house we’re in now, and starting to look around with an eye to how we’re going to stage the place. We’re going to put it up for sale in February, hopefully. I just can’t even begin to tell you how anxious I am that we can’t really get started doing that stuff yet. I can start packing a few boxes here and there, but the actual staging and carpet and all won’t come for at least another couple of months.


Our kitten is growing into a beautiful, super soft, little girl. She’s about 6 months old now. She isn’t much for being pet, but she likes to be around us. She has taken to a fuzzy blanket that I tend to wrap myself in while I’m on the couch, and kneads at it for comfort. The old man of the house (our older cat, Dasher), has taken to Hubby these days. I think he feels that I’ve betrayed him. Hubby has taken to him too though, and they’ve formed something of a testosterone alliance over on the other couch. And, miracles do happen! We discovered the wonders of a self-cleaning litter box! Somewhat expensive, but worth every penny. We love the thing. We got one that allows us to use our own litter, so the cats took to it right away. Soooo much easier!


Older Boy just turned 11. It’s not every day your young man turns 11. He wanted a party at the roller skating rink for just a very few close friends, thereby thwarting my grand plans for a Harry Potter party. Ah, well. There’s always the other one, right?




So many things are a work in progress right now. The house, my weight, adjusting to being a working mother, learning how to not buy all the things when I finally do go grocery shopping on the weekends. Being green, and being thrifty. That’s evolving, too. I don’t have time to do some of the things I used to, and others I was never very good at to begin with. I’m working on redefining those terms to fit into the life I’m starting now.


And, to top it all off, I just started eating meat again. It’s very strange, and I’m not used to it yet. I realized that vegetarian was turning into all carbohydrates, all the time for me. There just aren’t that many veggies that I like. Not enough to make meals out of. Also, my body, I think, has started feeding on itself to get the protein that it needs to function. Not only wasn’t I eating veggies, I wasn’t getting enough protein. It’s actually pretty easy to get enough, most Americans eat way more than is necessary, but I recorded it for a while and I wasn’t getting enough. I can’t eat beans at every meal, and I can’t stand the taste of soy. I am still minimizing the amount that I eat, but I’m adding in eggs and dairy again in a more significant way, and eating chicken about once a week.


My life is a work in progress right now, but I’m happier than I’ve been in a really long time.

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We found it

I am super anxious about the new job. I start on Monday and I’m positively worked up into a frenzy about it. It’s a huge change for me since I haven’t had a chance at a career in over 15 years. To alleviate that stress, I’ve been obsessing about a few things. One of which was the new construction houses that we were going to look at. I have been running numbers (my favorite stress reliever) like crazy for a week and a half. I have been looking at houses for a few months and seeing what was out there. The idea for new construction was a new one, but I immediately started poring over floor plans in an effort to see what was out there, and what kind of things we wanted or were deal breakers. My real estate agent sent me a list of the places she wanted to take us to visit and I immediately started scrutinizing the plans for those developments.


We found one. We saw several houses that I had specifically picked out as having everything we wanted. The last house was the one. It is in a spectacular location, we will not be the most expensive house in the area (by a long shot), the lot is a good size – there will be room for the kids to play – and it literally has everything we’ve ever dreamed of in a home. We sat down with the guy from the builders and looked at what upgrades we might want and what that would do to the price of the home. We got an idea of what we would qualify for, and what lot we wanted. Basically we went through most of the process with him, and we can afford it. There will be a couple of lean months while the kids are still in school, but Hubby is going to work overtime in the next several months to give us the savings we need to get through it. I ran more numbers this morning, the most pessimistic I could be (interest rates go up half a point, we add another $75 a month to the mortgage payment on top of that), and we can do it.


I called Sandy Stokes (ERA realty, Hampton Roads), our incredible real estate agent, and set the wheels in motion. We slept on it and we both adore the home, the area, and the lot that we’ve chosen. Even my skeptical Hubby is convinced. I am freaking out a tad right now because we are about to sign papers to have our dream home built just for us. It’s surreal. It’s so much money! But, we won’t close on the place until next April or so, and the first payment won’t be due until May. That leaves two months until the kids get out of school. Even assuming the house that we’re in now doesn’t sell by then, we could still afford the mortgage once my income isn’t going towards tuition anymore.


It drives my husband nuts that I am always telling him we are broke. Generally we have a ton of money going towards savings or debt, so we don’t have huge amounts to just throw around. When we get down to about $200 in checking for the next week, I start telling him we are broke. Running the numbers for this house has shown him just how not broke we are. It was eye opening for him. He hasn’t done the finances in a decade and really has no idea where the money goes or how much we have. All he knows is that I keep telling him we’re broke every pay period. Lol! Now he’s wondering why he doesn’t get to spend more money! Poor man. But, for the foreseeable future, we are going to be tight, with everything going towards savings again. He’ll catch a break eventually, but it won’t be for another seven months or so.


We already know that we are going to be living in a half-furnished house for a while. We’re not going to rush out and buy all new everything (except a refrigerator, we’re going to need one of those), so we’re going to have to get by without furnishing a couple of rooms. We’re not immediately going to get a dining set for the dining room. One of the bedrooms won’t have anything in it. That’s OK though. As time goes on it will be fun picking out the perfect pieces to go in each room and know that we aren’t going into any more debt to do it.


I am super excited. I’m sorry this was such a long one!

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Feeling better having gotten that off my chest yesterday. It has been weighing on me. But, at 40 years old, it’s time to embrace who you are. I am not a green and thrifty girl except when I need to be. I will always be interested in personal finance and thrift though. I am a thrift store kind of gal after all, I just like to buy a lot when I’m there. Here lately, and for the foreseeable future, I will be a thrifty girl so that I can save for the house. Then so that we can get the debt paid off. We’ll get the car and the house paid off early, never fear, I just won’t kill us to do it.


I have deleted the Amazon app from my tablet. That should help with the lazy shopping. No more books unless I buy with a credit that I’ve gotten from trading. I won’t be following that meal plan anymore, I’ll be making up my own. That shopping trip was insane and I don’t ever want to repeat it. (I mean, I knew I had a lot, but it was over $400!!!! Never again!) I am trying to keep my grocery trips to once a week, and less than $100. Meat is expensive, but I am usually pretty close. No more junk food. The boys are going to buy their own if they want it. They’ve been bringing a dollar from their allowance to summer camp so they can get treats from the vending machine. I’m cool with that. We have some treats at the house, but chips and such are going to be rare. Whole foods prepared at home is what we’re getting from now on.


I won’t have time for much more than basic meal planning and quick dinners starting next week. That’s when I start work. The upside of that is #1: I’ll have a job!!!! and #2: there won’t be time for me to shop for sport, so we should save money. I’m going to pack my lunches every day, and so does Hubby already. I think it’ll be good for me to get out of my own head finally. I’ve been out of the workforce for 15 years now and, for the last several, have been going quietly more and more nutso. It’ll be nice to have something to focus on besides my own belly button during the day while the kids are at school. And, it’s a complex job, so it’ll be interesting.


Life is going to get different now and I think it’s going to be a good different. I think we’ll be able to save money in a big way, and I think we’ll all be happier once things shake down.

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In what feels like a betrayal of everything I’ve tried to be the last couple of years, I realized the other night that I truly am a child of the 80’s. I want the big house with the nice car. I want what I want, when I want it. Looking at houses in nice neighborhoods in good school districts made me realize that we are going to have to spend a good deal of money to get into those schools. Looking at the houses and figuring out how much we can afford has reawakened the greedy in me. I want the kind of house I grew up in in the 80’s; a big house in a nice neighborhood. I want it without all the other debt in our lives though.


We have the minivan with its loan. We are going to have a huge mortgage no matter what we do, for the neighborhoods that we want (the ones that feed into good schools). We are going to have debt. But, we are also going to be able to pay off that debt. I know I said we were going to do that right now but, if we are going the new construction route and buying in six or seven months, all of the money that was going to go to the debt is going to get thrown into savings for closing costs.


Really though, I am just realizing that, despite my best efforts, I am plenty materialistic. I said as much to Hubby and he said, “Yeah. I’ve known that for years.” Well, heck. I hoard books. (although, it’s not hoarding if it’s books – it’s a library!) I buy things all the time. I’ve gotten better about not shopping as a sport, but I still overspend on things all the time, groceries is just the most recent example. I like shopping. I like buying things.


I feel like I’ve betrayed you all. While I’ve tried to be green and thrifty, really I’ve just been failing all over the place. I am neither green, nor thrifty most of the time. I shall keep trying, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll ever be anything but materialistic at heart. We are going to buy the big house, we already have the nice car, we have two kids, two cats, and a dog. We have the traditional American Dream. While I don’t really care what the Joneses have, I want what I had, for my kids. They’ll grow up in a neighborhood where we can let them play out front with the dog to look after them, without having to worry so much about them. They’ll have kids their own age to play with (they don’t here), and they’ll go to school with them. Right now their friends are scattered all over the city because they don’t go to a neighborhood school.


Really, don’t we all want that? A nice house, a good school, a reliable car, and a safe neighborhood? Hubby and I had talked about a smaller house in a place with more land, but then I saw this one and we both fell in love. The location of this neighborhood is right where we want as well. It’s not out in the country, away from everything, it’s actually right in the middle between his parent’s house and his sister’s.


Listen to me trying to justify my materialism. I’m Madonna in the 80’s. There’s no getting around it, I have been trying for at least the past couple of years. I will keep trying, too. I want to save up enough to move in six months. We will be employing our best thrifty moves for the next little while. It’s hard for me to see it as anything but temporary though. Just until we move. Just until the credit card is paid off. Just until whatever. Then I get to go back to spending whatever I want (as long as it doesn’t get us back in debt).


I’m 40 years old and I have no willpower. Is there any hope for me to ever truly conquer this? And do I even want to? UGH!

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New Construction

New developments in the home front. We have decided to consider new construction homes. I hadn’t thought about it before now, but it seems like a good idea. The house is move-in ready, you get to pick colors, nothing needs to be replaced or fixed right off the bat, and you have a warranty. Apparently they usually take six or seven months to build which gives us plenty of time to get our house fixed up and ready to sell. I have a realtor already (the one who sold us the home we’re in now – she’s amazing and wonderful and I can’t say enough good things about Sandy Stokes, ERA realtor in Hampton Roads, Virginia) and she’s going to take me around Thursday afternoon so I can see a few that I’m interested in.


I’m super excited. It was hard to go to sleep last night for all of the plans and numbers running around in my head. We need about six months to save up enough to be able to move, but I can totally do it. Seven or eight months would be easier, but I can do it in six. Hubby is more motivated to try to be strict with our money and do the tighter amount now that there is the possibility of actually moving soon. We are in awe of the fact that we might be able to afford the house model that we are looking at. It has everything we have wanted in a house since we started thinking about homes before we bought this one.


Yes, I have already picked out the house that I like best so far. Like I said, it has everything. I’m going to look at several others with Sandy, but they are going to have to be spectacular to live up to the promise of this one. Now, I’ve only seen the plans for it, I’m hoping to get inside one to see it Thursday. We’re getting a preapproval letter from the bank already. I just applied for it, so we’ll see what they say we can get. We already know that we qualify for this house (if they are true to their own calculators on their website), but we may be able to get a couple of optional features as well.


We are planning on stretching a little initially for the house payment. I am starting work next week and I WILL make it through this school (I have made it through every other school I’ve ever been in and done well, I WILL do well in this one, too.) because, not only am I smart, but I am determined, and I will have as much help as I need. In a year I’ll get a raise and every year after that for the next 5 until my salary has almost doubled. We can afford to stretch a little for the first year since our salaries are only going up from here.


I AM SO EXCITED to be looking! It’s exciting to see what we might be able to get in terms of homes. The kids are going to go crazy. This is the only home they’ve ever known. They’re excited and sad that we’re going to leave. We started getting them ready last year, that way it’s not a surprise and they have time to get used to the idea. They are used to it, if not happy about it.


Wish me luck!

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Overtime and a massive shopping trip

I’m following politics some this year. I’m watching some of the convention speeches. There are definitely some differences in the approaches of the two major parties this year. It’s … interesting. That’s all I have to say about politics here. I love a good debate, but that’s not what this blog is about.


Hubby is already working overtime in preparation for the kids’ first tuition payment. We figured out that I’m not going to get two paychecks before then so he’ll have to make up the difference this time around. After that he’s going to have to work overtime to pay for the day care charges that we’re going to incur. My check will be just enough to cover the tuition with very little left over.  It totally is icky for him to have to do this, but he wants to get the debt paid off just as much as I do. Hey! I didn’t figure our tax return into the debt repayment! That’s very cool. We usually get a sizable refund and that will cut down on the time it takes to pay back the debt. Yay! This may yet work out the way I want it to.


Oh my. I literally just went and did the largest grocery shopping trip since I had to initially stock the pantry when we moved in together all those years ago. I’m starting a weekly meal plan thing that I got a couple of weeks ago and I did the shopping for that as well as the normal grocery shopping. YIKES! I had to adjust how much we are sending to the debt…that’s how big it was. But, I have food enough to last a long time. I have enough food for this week and next at least. I shouldn’t have to go shopping again for a while. Supposedly this is enough food for the week, but there were things that I couldn’t find in just 1 pound quantities (boneless, skinless chicken breasts do not come in one pound packages at Walmart). I feel like this is enough food to last a couple of weeks, but the recipes say it’s enough for two people for one week. It’s just a ton of food. If this shopping trip is indicative of the rest of the weekly meal plans, I’ll stick with mine and abandon the ones I’m basing this week off of. I can’t afford to spend several hundred dollars on groceries every week! Everyone says healthy is expensive and, if you shop like I just did, it is! I can do it a heck of alot cheaper though.


What was really funny was watching Myra (the kitten) play in all of the grocery bags. She was racing around the kitchen attacking bags that were scattered all over the floor. She did it for, like, ten minutes! Plastic bags are incredible toys apparently. (And don’t worry, I was watching and listening to her the whole time. I wouldn’t take a chance on her getting suffocated.) It was highly entertaining.


Anyway, I have learned my lesson. I’m never spending like that again. I already have buyer’s remorse. It’s food and it will all get eaten, but still. Never again.



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All over the place

Back to the gym and trying to eat better. Things are starting to come together again. Granted, it’s only been a few days, but I’m feeling more in control. We spent the weekend in the house – none of us got dressed for 3 days. We’d shower and get into a fresh pair of pajamas. It was glorious. The boys took an impromptu day off on Friday and we all had a three day weekend. Back to the world yesterday when the boys went to summer camp and Hubby went back to work. I managed to get by under my budget for this week’s groceries, too.


I finally got the formal job offer yesterday. I start in a couple of weeks. I have a year-long probationary period. It won’t be until that’s up that I feel like I actually have the job, but that’s OK. In the meantime I’ll be very busy with the school that I have to pass to keep the job. Hubby teaches at the school I’m going to go through, though, of course, he will not be having any contact with my class in a professional way. He’s going to help tutor me through the school, but that’s it. Everyone has tutoring available to them after school so it’s not like I’m getting something that’s not available to everyone. Hubby even does the tutoring sometimes. I just get extended hours. OK, I have a little bit of an advantage, let’s be honest. But I’m still the one who has to pass the essay tests and the practicals. Yikes! I’m totally nervous because it’s a difficult school, but I hope I can pass. I’m usually pretty good at school.


(sorry about that – nerves you know) Anyway… I didn’t meal plan this week, but I’m doing it on the fly. The night before I’ll plan for the next day or two. I really should just sit and figure out what to make for the rest of the week, but I just haven’t felt like it. Today is pot roast with salad, some kind of veggie (corn, peas, or green beans, which I’m not actually too fond of), and biscuits. We’re eating biscuits at every meal this week. We’re making the kids eat what we eat so having the biscuits ensures that there’s at least one thing that they like on the plate. I’m going to have to start making them rather than buying whomping biscuits (Pillsbury – so called because you whomp them on the counter to open them). It’s not like they’re difficult. I have my trusty America’s Test Kitchen cookbook to guide me. Their buttermilk biscuits are delish.


Older Boy and I talked this morning and he reiterated his desire to go vegetarian, except for the fact that half his diet is meat. I explained that that’s one of the reasons we are having them try new stuff. It takes three tries before you can really say whether you like a new thing or not, and fifteen to develop a taste for it apparently. I read that somewhere. I told him that and he looked resigned. That’s cool, at least he didn’t argue. He likes to debate; he’s definitely my kid. I also told him about meat replacements and some advances in science that are allowing scientists to grow meat in the lab. He’s down with trying the meat substitutes and thinks grown meat is cool. I don’t push it, ever (he brought it up), but I’m glad that he knows it’s an alternative that’s available to him.


Anyway, this is really just a hodge-podge of a post today, isn’t it? Ah well. Maybe I’ll make more sense tomorrow.

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Family matters

Hubby is a card. He loves teasing me for things that I know I do. I am a little worried about starting the job in a couple of weeks. One of the things I focused on for a minute was that fact that my fingernails are all raggedy and short with paint on seven of them because I got the fake nails taken off. I need to take the rest of the polish off before I start. I said as much to Hubby and he said, “Absolutely! What kind of impression would you make with such nails?! I can’t believe you’re going in with nails like that!” All with a big smile on his face and the most sarcastic voice I’ve ever heard. Dork. He has a little bit of a point. I do want to get the polish taken off so that I don’t have polish on seven and not the other three, but they didn’t hire me for my fingernails, and they’ll grow out soon enough. See what I mean? Perspective. In a way that usually makes me groan or laugh and almost always roll my eyes.


We saved some money a few days ago. It was hot out, but the kids had been inside all day so, in the evening, Hubby took them outside and set them to washing my van. We have one of those extendable brushes and they had a bucket of suds and sponges. Of course, the boys ended up playing catch with the sponges and having wars with the water. At one point Older Boy decided that the best place for his bottom was in the pail of suds. Of course, Younger Boy had to follow suit. They had a blast and my car got clean. A win for all.


The boys are helping me economise and offered to sell all of their worldly possessions to help me pay off debt. I have reassured them that we do actually have money and we’re not hurting at all, but they want to figure out ways to help. They are always on the lookout for coupons and deals for me. They have calmed down on wanting to see their stuff for bills, but now they want to sell it all to get money for themselves. Now that they have stuff to use it on, they want more. I can sympathize.


Yesterday, Older Boy asked if I’d give him enough money for a vendor’s license. I asked him what he wanted to sell and he didn’t know. All he knew was that he needed a license to sell things (he learned it from a Disney show) and that he wants to sell something so that he can have more money. I want to encourage them, but I explained that he needed to figure out what he wanted to sell first. He’s working that out now. Younger Boy is torn between wanting to fund his brother’s dreams, and wanting things for himself. He was almost in tears in the store because he wanted a particular stuffed animal, but Older Boy really wanted a Nerf gun and didn’t have the money for it. He wanted to give Older Boy the money for the gun but that would mean that he wouldn’t have enough for the stuffed animal. His own wants finally won out, but it was a tense few minutes. In true younger sibling fashion, he adores Older Boy and wants him to have whatever he needs to be happy. They’re good kids.


Anyway, that’s enough bragging on my family for one day. They’re wonderful and I adore them all.



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I’m listening to country music for the first time in 15 years. The funny thing is that there’s a channel that specializes in the country of 15-25 years ago, so I’m listening to old favorites. I’m actually skipping around between really old country and the stuff from the 90’s. I haven’t heard any of the new stuff yet because I’m having so much fun with the old stuff. I have no idea what new country sounds like. I’m sure I’ll get curious at some point. I don’t know how long this will last, but it’s fun to revisit a different period in my life. Our wedding song was a country song. Just like my reading, my musical tastes often take thematic runs. Oldies, hard rock, classic rock, punk, and now, apparently, country. Interesting.


I’m definitely not a country girl. I was a little suburban punk. I liked hard rock, too. I was never into country until after I left California and had been in Virginia a few years. Some of my friends liked it and so I agreed to come to a club in the area with them. It was fun. I got the Wranglers and the Justin boots. It was a fun time. I don’t remember how to two-step though. The music is pretty good as long as I stay away from the stuff that makes me weepy. I’m much more an upbeat kind of girl.


I don’t think I’ll be getting another pair of Justin boots. I’m OK with that. For me at least, it’s just music, not a lifestyle. I don’t really approve of the horse riding and rodeos and cow-poking. Why poke a poor cow?

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