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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Country

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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Allowance

We’ve started the kids on an allowance. They each have a chore that they must perform, in addition to the regularly expected help around the house. Their allowance is $4 a week. They get two to spend and two to save. They get a possible extra dollar if they do their chores without us having to remind them all week.

 

The two to spend can be spent on anything they know they’re allowed to have. Right now that seems to be treats out of the vending machine at summer camp. (they’re allowed no more than a dollar a day to bring there so that I can at least limit that spending and treat eating) Younger Boy had about $30 in birthday money and various other earnings. He bought a toy stuffed octopus and a container of ice cream. Tsat ice cream is his. He doesn’t have to share it with anyone, and no one else has ice cream. I still get to dish it out, but he can have it anytime we say they can have a treat. Older Boy bought a computer game that a couple of his favorite YouTubers play with his saved money. They are both happy as clams with their purchases.

 

As far as the saved money goes, they have to discuss it with us before they take any money out to spend. The point of making them save a portion of their income is to teach them to do that for the rest of their lives, as well as teaching them how quickly that money can add up. Granted, $2 isn’t going to add up that quickly, but it will still add up. They have separate piggy banks for the different “accounts”. They each also have wallets for carrying money. Younger Boy’s wallet doesn’t actually fit in his pockets, but he really wanted one, so we got him one.

 

We’ve tried allowances before and they never stuck because we never had the money in our wallets to pay the kids. So, I went and got money out of savings, all in ones, for their allowances. This time there is no excuse for not paying them. They’re old enough now to understand that they need to work to get paid and to want to spend their money on things. That was the other piece that was missing before – we bought them everything they wanted, so money didn’t mean much to them. With this newest budget, there’s not a lot of money left over for treats and presents, they’re going to have to buy their own if they want them. Cool.

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Food prep

I found a list of entrees we like that I made a couple of years ago. It’s a whole page of choices. We tend toward the same few these days and I’m going to need to get a little more creative if we’re going to eat at home from now on. Goodness knows I have enough cookbooks. At last count I have about 15. Now it’s time to explore them instead of just collecting them.

We’re starting to make the boys eat what we’re eating, including veggies. They complain mightily, but they either eat it or don’t eat. They usually eat the bits they like then complain and take forever over the veggies until we finally give up and say they only need to take a couple more bites. I am walking a fine line between what we like and what the boys will eat. Balsamic chicken might be pushing my luck a bit even though Hu0bby and I like it. Older Boy has the partial desire to become vegetarian, but realizes that he doesn’t like many veggies and that most of his diet right now is meat. I am still working on variety and veggies, but I’m starting to get there. Really, he likes meat but acknowledges that there might be a problem with it. That’s cool. It’s a start. I’m never going to push it, but I’ve discussed it with him and given my reasons in an age appropriate manner. I’ve never shown him video of how the animals are treated or anything. He’s a compassionate soul, he might get there. If he doesn’t that’s his choice and I’m cool with it. We are going to be exploring vegetable choices with him though. The weirdo doesn’t like corn! Who doesn’t like corn?! Oh well. We’ll figure something out.

 

I’m going to have to update that list of entrees though. It’s a good place to start. We’ve added a couple and gotten rid of a couple, maybe it’s time to add them back. In any case, we are going to have to get more variety going for all of our sakes.

 

For a while I had planned out lunches and dinners and it was great. No more searching for what to eat, I could make it calorie correct, and I could add variety if I felt like it. Usually I didn’t mind eating the same couple of things for lunches, as long as I had variety for dinner. I need to start that again. Especially if I want to start losing weight again. My diet’s been in the cruddy zone for a few weeks now. Time to get back on the good side of myself and stop feeling cruddy, too.

 

 

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Spending Fast

Well, it’s not going as well as I’d like. I ended up spending close to $200 on groceries. Then, today I had to go buy a new alarm clock. Mine, which was originally Hubby’s from before we met, has finally quit on me. Over 20 years later, it’s finally only alarming sporadically. Not a bad run though. Besides that, we had pizza a couple of nights ago because I tend not to meal plan for weekends. I need to do better about that now that we’re going to be eating home a lot more often. Next time we want pizza, I’m going to have to make it. I still have the recipe from the Tightwad Gazette for the pizza crust, and a food processor to make it in. Pretty yummy.

 

We had to get rid of the particleboard armoire that we’d been using as a pantry because some soda spilled who knows how long ago and had molded in the back corner. It weakened the whole thing so we had to disassemble it and clean. We went out and got a shelving unit instead. We needed something there because there just isn’t enough storage in the kitchen for pots, pans, plastic storage tubs, and all of my small electrics (blender, mixer, food processor, chopper, griddle, and all the rest). So the electrics are on the shelves along with the big bags of animal food. It works. And it looks better than the armoire did. But, that’s another expense.

 

The spending fast isn’t going well so far. But it’s only been a few days. I can still pull this off. Hubby actually suggested we not spend anything this week so that we have enough money to last the pay period. He’s on board whether he admits it or not; he wants my plan to succeed. Really he just wants enough money left over to last the pay period and allow us to have a little fun. Not a problem. He’s willing to do a Sunday meal prep for the week to keep from spending, and I’m willing to keep to the house doing housework and reading for the week. We’ll get this done.

 

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Reading trends

Here lately I have been all over the place in my reading. I read a personal finance book, followed by two fantasy novels, and now I’m reading a business book, Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office. My thought process is that, if I can go into my career with the skills I need to succeed, it’s going to save me a lot of pain down the road when I have to learn these things that hard way. I’m reading about presence and mistakes women make in business. I’m reading about how to balance my personality with professionalism. I’m also taking it all with a grain of salt. I can’t just be a cookie cutter business woman. For one thing, that’s not the environment I’m going into. For another, I refuse to change who I am at a basic level just to get promotions. I will still be me, I’d just like to be a professional and confident me at work.

 

Anyway, my reading has been eclectic to be sure. I usually get on theme kicks. Personal finance, homesteading and home care, horror, sci-fi/fantasy, self-help. I will read a ton on that specific topic for a month or more. For me to skip around like this is strange. I’m loving it though. I don’t feel like I’m constrained by any genre. I’m reading through the books that are in my TBR pile and some of the new ones that I bought more recently. I am still interested in personal finance and home stuff and all of that, I’m just threading some other interest through as well. I know it’s how normal people read, but I’m just now trying it out for the first time since I don’t know when.

 

Goodness knows I have a variety of books waiting for me in my pile. Business, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, finance, accounting textbooks, non-fiction, self-help… I’ve got them all. If I can keep going wherever my feelings take me with the end of each book, I think I’ll get a lot more out of them all. After a while, all the personal finance stuff starts to sound the same. There are a lot of conflicting self-help books as well. It gets hard to keep all of the differing theories apart and figure out which ones might work best for me. If I can skip around a bit, it might be easier to digest each book. We’ll see how long this lasts though. I am a creature of habit after all.

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Oh Ye Of Little Faith!

Hubby doesn’t believe in my vision. He cruelly pointed out all the times in the past I’ve tried to keep us on this tight a budget and how miserably it’s failed in the past. Meanie! What he doesn’t take into account is how much my mindset has changed since the last time we tried this. I have a definite goal and a definite deadline. I have incentive to get this done. I have a plan on how to spend and the willingness to try. I know enough about myself to know that I am a reflexive spender. I talk about saving then immediately go out and spend $60 on some stuff that we may or may not need, but certainly not right now. It’s almost like I feel as if just talking about saving is deprivation and I need to prove to myself that I still have money.

 

I recently had a breakthrough with my food. It’s taking some work to implement, but it’s a huge one. Rather than telling myself that I can’t have something, I am telling myself that I choose not to have it. It’s a fine, but important, distinction. If I tell myself can’t have it, I am not in control of the decision, some outside force is. If I tell myself that I choose not to have it, I am in control of the decision and it just became a thousand times easier to do what I know I should. I’m not trying to rebel against an authority that doesn’t even exist. I need to get into that same mindset with money. Saving money isn’t about deprivation and all the things I can’t have, it’s about a choice to save or spend my money on more important things. That choice is all mine.

 

I need to remind myself that we are actually doing fine. We could send less to the debt and still get it paid off (just not within my ideal timeframe), and we’d still be sending quite a lot. That might help with the reflexive spending part of this. I will be spending a lot more time reading and finally watching some of the series on Netflix that I’ve heard so much about or have wanted to see. Eventually I’ll start work. That’ll help since I won’t be home as much to get bored and want to go out and spend money to alleviate the boredom.

 

As it stands, Hubby is willing to try, but not willing to curtail his spending too much. He still wants to be able to get what he wants, when he wants it. I want to be able to give him that but within the bounds of my tight budget. That just means that I’ll have to be great about saving on necessities so that we have more for fun. I’ve already budgeted some for his favorite recurring expense, but I need to make sure that I’m doing my best to save. I know, this sounds horrible. I need to cut down on what I spend so that my husband can spend whatever he wants. It’s not exactly like that. This is my spending fast. I never intended for it to affect him too much. I want him to rein in reasonably, and he absolutely will, but I am doing a complete spending fast for my own sake. I need to learn to better manage money for me. That reflexive spending has to go. So, no, this isn’t about me being the submissive little wifey. This is about me being the one who spends the most by an order of magnitude and learning to cut back and manage our money rather than just spending whatever, whenever. He is on board with paying off the credit and the car and the house, he just doesn’t think we need to be quite so strict. He may be right, but I want to give this a try for a while and see what we can do with it.

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