Saturday, October 29, 2011

$50 giftcard for saving for college

This past Thursday I enrolled in a 529 college savings plan for my son.  I am super excited about it!  I don't know if it is because I am turning 35 next month or if there is some other reason that I am all gung ho about saving money all of the sudden.  It just really dawned on me that I am in no way prepared for my children's college, retirement or any type of emergency because I have no money saved.  I guess I should be kind of relieved that my daughter dropped out of school??  :/  I guess she is saving me money.  That is sarcasm, people.  If she was graduating from high school this year and planning on attending college next year I would be going crazy.  I know we could apply for financial aid, but whatever wasn't covered, I would have no way of paying and I would not want to deprive her of going to any school that she wanted to go to in order to further her education.  This is not our scenario though and although I am saddened by her decision to drop out, I am relieved that I do not have to either A.) tell her she cannot attend "that" school because I did not prepare for her future or B.) be stuck with a very large financial burden that I cannot afford right now.

At this time, my son is almost 3.  I have roughly 14 years to save for his college education.  A 529 plan is a great way to do so.  It is like a 401k for college :)  You open the account with a deposit, choose funds to invest in and hopefully watch your money multiply.  You can add money as often as you like.  I will be having a particular amount direct deposited from my paycheck twice a month.  If investing makes you nervous, you can choose to just put the money in a savings account and let it earn interest.  You have total control.  The funds can only be used for your child's continued education... tuition, room and board, books etc.  If your child decides not to go to college, you can transfer it to another child in your family, a sibling, cousin, niece, nephew, whatever.  Or YOU could go back to school and use the money to further your own education.  If neither of these are an option, you can withdraw the funds, but there are penalties for doing so.  

Right now, if you live in Massachusetts and open a U.Fund 529 college investing plan with Fidelity with a minimum deposit of $50.00, you will receive a $50.00 gift card to Target from MEFA (Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority).  You must enroll by December 31, 2011.  Here is a link to the site.

Do yourself and your kids a favor and start investing in their future and then buy yourself a little something nice from Target as a reward :)

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Food Journal - Saturday 10/29/11

1 serving Steel Cut Oats
1 tbl craisins
1 tbl toasted flaked coconut
1 tea extra virgin coconut oil
2 tbl falx seed
1 tea brown sugar


Grilled Caprese Sandwich
  - 2 large slices crusty bread
  - 2 oz whole milk fresh mozzarella
  - 1 medium tomato
  - 1/4 cup fresh basil
  - 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  - 2 tbl balsamic vinegar

cup of coffee  (not really a snack)
1 tbl Pumpkin Spice Coffee Mate
1 pkt Truvia

Quinoa Chicken Waldorf Salad with Maple Vinaigrette (I omitted the raisins)
Oven Roasted Asparagus
1 med Baked Sweet Potato
I can't believe it's not butter spray

3 grilled fresh pineapple slices
2 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tbl Cool whip free


Saving is not so hard...

As you may remember, about a week ago I started my savings plan.  The plan was to save .50 every day in my can for 30 days.  After the 30 days is up, I will deposit the funds into my Savings account.  I have been sticking to the plan very well.  I have actually been putting in more than .50 every day.  I just empty out my change pocket in my wallet and dump whatever I have in there, which is always more than .50.  This is simple and is not affecting my budget nor my fun.  I am actually getting a little thrill out of watching my money pile up.  I did splurge on one of those self counting banks.  It was only $5.99 at Marshalls.  You put the change in the slot and it tells you the denomination of the coin and then adds that amount to your running tally.  Pretty awesome!

Tonight, I will deposit the amount that I saved by using coupons:

$10.00 BJ's membership coupon
$  1.50 K-cups
$  2.00 Scooby Fruit snacks
$  2.00 Hershey Syrup
$  1.50 Coffee Mate Creamer
$  1.00 Cinnamon Butter
      .55 Almond Breeze almond milk

I "liked" on Facebook a while ago and thought the recipes they posted on FB sounded pretty damn tasty but I had not made any of them before this week.  I also had not really surfed their site.  Over the weekend I got an email from them with this weeks menu plan.  I clicked on the link and was like, oh hell yeah, this will work for me and my family!  All of the recipes on this week's plan sounded scrumptious and pretty much worked with my diet.  (I made a few changes here and there to accommodate my needs).  I decided to go with 4 of the 6 recipes that were suggested.  I had many of the ingredients in my cabinets already, so I was off to a good start.  Buying the ingredients I was missing plus whatever other items we needed for breakfasts, lunches and snacks, I spent $140.00 - That is a significant savings for me.  I very rarely come away from the register dropping less that $250.00.  And we are pretty much set for about 2 weeks with what I bought,  I will have to buy milk and some produce over the next week, but I get produce pretty cheap from a small local store.  These recipes were absolutely delicious and filling.  My grocery bill may have been drastically cheaper but there was no skimping on flavor and no one was left feeling hungry.

I made the following:

Mediterranean Quinoa
Creamy Avocado Pasta
Slow Cooker Maple Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
Pumpkin Pie French Toast

Everyone in the family LOVED everything that I made.  My son was licking the bowl the night I served the Creamy Avocado Pasta.  He had the whole bowl over his face :p

We had left overs two nights and London Broil was one sale BOGO this week so we will have that the other day.

I also discovered  This is a great site to help you get your finances together.  I entered all of my bank accounts, credit cards accounts, 401k, etc and it automatically pulled up all of my account balances.  All of my banking transactions come up as well.  It dumps all of your transactions into buckets ie.  Automobile expenses, Food, Home, Television, etc.  Some of them were a little off so I just went in and corrected them, for instance it told me that I spent $70.00 at coffee shops.  What now??  When I located those charges it was talking about I found the charges were actually for groceries.  For some reason it pulls this one grocery store up as a coffee shop, haha!  I actually only spent $2.53 at a coffee shop this month.  I knew that I spent a lot on groceries, but when I saw exactly how much, I felt a little sick to my stomach.  I spend approximately $500.00 +/- a month - just on groceries.  That is disgusting!  I'm not talking dining out, take out, delivery or anything.  This is just food that I buy to cook for my family.  Disturbing.

As I mentioned in a previous post, paying down my credit card debt is one of my current goals.  My original plan was to pay more than the minimum payment.  I decided how much extra I can apply toward my debt and was planning to sort of spread that money out over the credit cards each month, focusing on paying my highest debt first.  A woman that I work with was telling me about the debt snowball method.  This is when you pay down your credit card with the highest interest rate first by paying as much as you can on it while still paying your minimum payment on your other cards.  Once the card with the highest interest rate is paid in full, take the amount that you were paying on that card and pay your next highest interest card with that money and pay the minimum payment on your other cards, so on and so on until all your credit card debt is paid off.  When she was telling me, I thought it made sense and I was going to look into it more.  Before I had a chance to look into it more I stumbled upon  There is a goal section, and one of them is "Pay off my credit card debt".  It automatically grabs all of your credit card info - account names, balances, minimum payment.  You just plug in your interest rate and how much total you can pay toward eliminating your debt each month.  That's it! will then prioritize your accounts so that you are doing the "snowball method".  This was exactly what my co-worker was talking about and I understood her but actually SEEING how quickly I can pay off my cards was exciting!  My card with the highest interest rate has an approximate balance of about $430.  My minimum payment is only $11.00.  If I pay $142.00 a month to this credit card, it will be paid in full by February.  This is $131.00 more than I am used to paying on my credit cards...but this is money that I spend elsewhere and typically have nothing to show for it or on groceries (that I will no longer be doing).  If I follow through, I will be debt free by February 2013.  Not bad at all, definitely a hell of a lot better than the projected payoff date of 2037 if I paid just my minimum payments.  When I get my tax refund back, I will use a chunk of it to pay down my debt faster.

Doing all of this and "sacrificing" this extra cash every month will improve my credit score dramatically and we will be well on our way to buying our first home :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Food Journal - Friday 10/28/11

Friday 10/28/11

Mango Pineapple Smoothie -
    1 cup skim milk
    1 scoop Care One Whey Protein (vanilla)
    1/8 cup each - frozen mango and pineapple chunks
    2 tbl milled golden flax seed

1 pkt Truvia
2 tbl CoffeeMate Pumpkin Spice creamer

Leftover Slow cooker Maple Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Caprese salad -
     1 oz fresh whole milk mozzarella
     1/4 cup fresh basil
     5 cherry tomatoes
     1/2 tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
     1 tbl Balsamic Vinegar

Pumpkin Pie French Toast - (I used flax seed in place of the eggs)
served with:
1 tea Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
2 tbl maple syrup

Banana Protein Shake -
    1 cup Almond Breeze original milk
    1 scoop Care One Whey Protein (vanilla)
    1 banana, frozen

WATER INTAKE:    48 oz         TOTAL CALORIE INTAKE:   1,712

Food Journal - Thursday 10/27/11

2 tbl Milled Golden Flax Seed
1 cup Apple Cinnamon tea
1 pkt Truvia

1 cup mixed berries (strawberries/blackberries)

3oz grilled boneless skinless chicken breast

Caprese Salad
     1 oz fresh whole milk mozzarella
     1/4 cup fresh basil
     5 cherry tomatoes      
     1/2 tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
     1 tbl Balsamic Vinegar


1.5 cups frozen grapes
2 servings Tropical Fruit & Nut mix


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Totally broke! What's for dinner?

So I have to food shop in my pantry this week. Normally I do order lunch at work a couple times a week, but this week I am completely tapped. So I am challenging myself to come up with good meals that I can be excited about bringing to work. So last night I made:

Rice Meatballs in Spinach Tomato Basil Soup over Mashed Potatoes

This is the rough recipe since I don't really measure when I cook.

1 Pound Ground Beef
Italian Seasoning
Olive Oil
Bread Crumbs
2 Cans Progresso Tomato Basil Soup
1 small can Tomato Sauce
Mashed Potatoes (I used instant)

I made the meatballs out of the hamburg, egg, chopped onion, chopped garlic (I used a whole bulb), breadcrumbs, oregano, Italian seasoning, about a cup and a half of uncooked rice, and I chopped up some of the spinach and mixed that into the meatballs. I rolled out about 25 meatballs.
In one pan I used olive oil and fried up the meatballs, don't go crazy on this they don't have to be completely done, they will cook more in the soup. In the other pan I brought the soup, sauce, and a little water to a boil. When the meatballs were done I transferred them to the sauce and turned it to low. In the pan that I had cooked the meatballs in I sauteed the remaining spinach.
After the meatballs had simmered for a bit, at least a half hour (covered), (test one to make sure the rice isn't still hard,) I added the sauteed spinach. Serve over mashed potatoes or rice if you prefer.

I also made up extra mashed potatoes, to use during the week.

I'm on the lookout for things to make with Ground Beef other than the standards (meatloaf, tacos, American chop suey etc.) So if you have any good ideas, let me know!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cinnamon Apple & Raisin Quinoa

I am having a love affair with quinoa right now.  I hope it never ends.  It is so good for you.  This breakfast recipe is so scrumptious, healthy and hearty.

Serves 6

2 cups Quinoa
1 pinch salt
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tbl ground cinnamon
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 tbl maple syrup
1 tbl light cream

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa, apples, raisins and cinnamon with a pinch of salt. Once it returns to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

As the quinoa nears the end of its cooking time, stir in the sweetener. Remove from heat once it has finished cooking.

Serve with maple syrup and light cream.

Cal 295  Fat 4.3 Sat Fat .5 Chol 3mg  carb 58.6  Fiber 5.8  Sugar 15.2  Protein 8.6  Vit A 1%  Vit C 3%  Calcium 5%  Iron 29%

Orange Banana Smoothie

I make this on nights when we have a meatless dinner.

Serves 2

1 banana, frozen
2 tbl frozen OJ concentrate
2 scoops CareOne Whey Protein powder (vanilla)
2 cups Almond Breeze Almond Milk

Blend all ingredients in blender and serve in a tall glass.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 345 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
Saturated Fat 
Trans Fat 
Total Carbohydrates 
Dietary Fiber 
Vitamin A 13%Vitamin C 50%
Calcium 34%Iron 4%
Nutrition Grade B

Food Journal - Wed 10/26/11

Wednesday 10/26/2011

1 serving Cinnamon Apple and Raisin Quinoa
1/2 cup mixed berries


1/2 serving Mediterranean Quinoa
3oz grilled boneless skinless chicken breast

1 Luna Protein Bar - Chocolate Cherry Almond

1 serving Creamy Avocado Pasta
note: the recipe says 4 servings, but I felt it was more like 6.
Orange Banana Smoothie

1.5 cups frozen red seedless grapes

WATER INTAKE:                         TOTAL CALORIE INTAKE:
 48 oz.                                            1,655

Natural Hair Care

I have gotten some requests from some friends for my hair care regiment and products that I currently use.

This following is a list of what I am using at this point in time and getting good results.

I just purchased some Argan Oil which I have read great things about, but have only used once so far so I don't know if I love it yet.  I'll update this as I change or add products.

Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo

I wash my hair once a week.  I wash just once and then rinse out completely.  I like this shampoo because it is sulfate free, all natural and makes my scalp tingly.  I love the clean fresh scent.

TRESemme Moisture Rich Vitamin E Luxurious Moisture Rich Conditioner

I co-wash my hair with this after shampooing and on the days when I need to wet my hair in between shampoo washings.  This conditioner has great slip so I brush or comb through while it sits on my hair.  Then I rinse out completely.

Denman Brush

This brush, in my opinion, is an absolute must for curly hair.  It just glides through my hair.  When I do hit snarls, it is very easy to remove them, painlessly, with this brush.

Wide Tooth Comb

Another must for curly girls!  I love this type because I can hang it right in the shower.

Blow Dryer with Diffuser

A blow dryer with a diffuser is a must if you do not want to air dry and want to dry your hair quickly.  Curly girls MUST use a diffuser when blow drying.  I love the diffuser because it gives my hair nice volume without being bushy or frizzy.  If you are going to air dry instead, NEVER EVER use a towel on your curls.  That is a frizzy accident just waiting to happen.  Use an old tee shirt or paper towels and scrunch the excess moisture from your hair.  I actually do this even when I am blow drying,  It cuts down on my drying time.

Leave-in Conditioner
Kinky-Kurly Knot Today 
Shea Moisture Shea Butter Leave-in

While my hair is soaking wet, I apply one of these leave in conditioners and brush through with the Denman.  The Kinky Curly is much lighter than the Shea Moisture one.  If I had frizz or fly aways the day before I use the Shea Moisture one for more weight to avoid frizz.

Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie 
Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Hair Milk

After applying leave-in, I section my hair into 4 sections and apply a small amount of one of the above moisturizers (about a nickel sized amount to each section of hair).  Again, I choose which product to use based on how my hair was behaving the day before.  The Palmers is much lighter than the Shea Moisture, so on a typical day I use the Palmers.  If I need more weight to control frizz I go for the Shea Moisture.  They both smell delicious and make your hair really soft!  

Eco Styler Olive Oil Styling Gel

I love love love this hair gel.  It provides needed hold, but does not make hair stiff or flaky - Even when I use a lot to slick my hair back into a pony.  When wearing my hair out and curly, I use a small amount and apply it to my still sectioned hair right after the moisturizer.  My hair is still soaking wet at this point.  I then use my Denman brush again and shingle my hair.  Here is a video on "shingling" in case you don't know what it is.  My hair is too thick to shingle with a fine tooth comb and I like the results I get using the Denman brush instead.  I also do not use anywhere as much product as she does in that video.  I do not sit under a hair dryer either.  I just don't have the time or the patience.  I use a blow dryer with diffuser instead.

Night Time Routine

I apply coconut oil to my hair each night before bed.  Not alot, really paying more attention to my ends.  Then I cover my hair either with a silk or satin scarf or with a Hair Hood by Sue Maesta.  I can't find a pic of anyone wearing it, so I will have to take a pic of myself wearing it and post it, so you can see what I am talking about.  There are nights when I am just so tired and can't wait to go to bed that I either forget or am too lazy to apply the coconut oil.  I do wrap my hair almost every night though.  Satin Pillowcases are a good idea too, I personally don't care for them because they make me sweat.  But I know people who love them.  The point of all of this is to protect your hair from breakage while sleeping.  Your hair will glide right over satin unlike cotton.  And wrapping in a scarf or wearing a hair hood shields it from coming in contact with the pillow all together.

Weekly Hot Oil Treatment

In a squeeze bottle combine (use a condiment bottle, they are cheap and work perfect):
1 part Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
2 parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 part Jojoba Oil
2 drops Rosemary EO
2 drops Orange EO

Warm oil and apply liberally to hair.  Cover with shower cap and let sit for at least an hour; all day and/or overnight if possible.  Wash hair with mild (preferably sulfate free) shampoo then condition as usual.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil - Eradicates hair breakage, split ends, thinning, excessive hair fall and dandruff. It adds shine and softness to hair follicles and prevents hair breakage and dryness. Coconut oil adds strength and vitality to hair and is also known to have antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil  Rich in high levels of mono-unsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant.  Both are good for moisturizing, protecting and nourishing hair. Makes hair grow stronger and it's emollient properties help with hair loss.  It battles dandruff and kills lice.

Jojoba Oil - Deeply penetrates the scalp and hair shaft.  Dissolves sticky product build-up on the scalp.  Using as part of your regular hair regime will ensure healthy and clean hair with a natural shine.

Rosemary Essential Oil Has a pronounced positive effect on the health of the hair and scalp. It increases the circulation to the scalp and is therefore also effective for promoting hair growth.  Also helps migraines, so it is great mixed into a scalp massage oil.

Sweet Orange Essential OilSweet orange oil is beneficial for refreshing hair and removing buildup. The citrus properties in this oil make it a good choice for oily scalp and skin.  It is also known to enhance the mood and create feelings of happiness.

Difficult Teenagers

As I have mentioned previously, I have two children.  I often speak about my little one, but my first love and first born, is my daughter.  She recently turned 17 years old and for the better part of a decade she has been...difficult.  

She is very smart but has always hated school.  She hates authority.  And even more than the aforementioned, she hates the word NO!  She is beautiful with very low self esteem.  She is angry.  She does not know her value so she allows people to take advantage of her.  But she is not always the victim, she is a master manipulator and is often the one doing the taking advantage of.  She is a lying, lazy, unappreciative brat.

I know the negatives far outweigh the positives up there.  And that truly kills me.  She is a beautiful person who I love unconditionally so if I sound like I hate my kid that couldn't be further from the truth.  She is my first true love.  I created her...with some help from her father.  I carried her in my body for 9 months and anxiously awaited her arrival like a crazy person.  She was and still is the most beautiful baby girl I have ever seen.  She was my everything!  She gave me purpose.  She was my little sidekick.  Where ever you saw me, you saw her attached to my hip.  It's crazy how much things change over time.

School has always been an issue - and she is now a high school drop out.  The only time I ever seen her cross a stage to get a "diploma" was KINDERGARTEN!!   She had runaway a couple days before her 8th grade graduation and didn't bother to show up.  Me, the hubby and her little brother all sat there waiting for her name to be called.  They called her name and then followed with "ABSENT".  My heart sank.  I was sad and furious at the same time.  I felt that she robbed me of this moment that every parent should experience.  I so wanted to have that proud mama moment.  Sadly I already knew that she would not be graduating from high school so that was my last chance to see her getting a diploma.  Hopefully she will get her crap together and get her GED and then one day take some classes at a college, not for me, but for her.

She has runaway countless times, stolen from stores and family, been involved with drugs, underage drinking and all of the shit that goes along with that.  She has been very self destructive in the past.  She has all but ripped our family apart.

Last month she was in a pretty bad car accident while on the run.  She thankfully was wearing her seat belt and had minor injuries.  But the car was totalled, all of the windows busted and all of the contents of the car spilled all over the highway.  The Police came to our house at 1:20am banging on the door to let me know that she was at the hospital.  I was so scared.  They wouldn't tell me what happened - they wouldn't even tell me if she was alive.  My mind was running rampant with all of the terrible possibilities...did she O.D.? Was she shot or stabbed?  Raped? I was beyond relieved to see her alive and only with minor injuries.  She was very shaken up emotionally though.  She was crying uncontrollably.  After the doctors did their thing, I took her home.  

We really have not had any major issues since the accident.  I think it may have knocked some sense into her.  haha!  Whatever, the reason, I am grateful for the major decrease of drama in my life.  I am grateful to know where my daughter is every night.  I am grateful that she no longer "hates" me.  I am grateful for the opportunity for us to be able to start repairing our relationship.  She comes home every night.  If she is running late for curfew she always calls and lets me know she is on her way.  She is civil with all family members.  The attitude is all but gone.  She is miraculously handling the word "NO" ok these days.  She still doesn't help out much around the house and keeps her room disgusting, but as far as I am concerned that is normal teenage behavior.  I love my 17 year old baby girl no matter what, even on the days when I don't like her much. ;) She will always be my baby and I her mother.  My love for her is unconditional even when it needs to be tough love. 

This is a poem that a friend emailed to me while I was going through a particularly difficult time with my daughter.  It was during one of her many runaways, but this time I didn't know where she was for over 3 weeks. When I read it I wept uncontrollably.  I think because I always felt I was so alone in my trials and tribulations with my daughter and then there it was, in writing, that others go through the same. 

A parent is grateful to have been a dealt a difficult child for in this she has the opportunity to test the boundaries of her love.

Thank God For The Difficult Child
By: Shelly D. Coleman 

The difficult teen will do things their own way, in their own time, regardless of your wishes or schedule.
The good teen will do what you ask, when you ask, even though they may complain a little.
It's easy to love a good child.

The difficult teen will try your patience and understanding every day. They will challenge the depths of your love, the core of your soul numerous times throughout each day, until you wonder if you have any strength left.
The good teen will try your patience and understanding from time to time. They will challenge your ability to see just how many extracurricular activities you can cram into each day, until you wonder if you have any energy left.
It's easy to love a good child.

The difficult teen will sneak out of the house at night to buy drugs, only to have the police knock at your door at 3am on a work night so you can come down to the station to pick them up. They've been arrested.
The good teen will sneak out of the house at night (on a weekend) to TP the soccer coach's house after a big win, only to go back to the coaches house the next morning. To help clean up.
It's easy to love a good child.

The difficult teen will skip school, even when you drop them off out front and watch them walk inside. No matter how hard a parent tries to help or force a child, the difficult teen may not graduate from High School. The difficult teen won't be going off to college.
The good teen might consider skipping a class or two, but doesn't want to get caught. A parent doesn't have to make an effort to keep a good kid in school. The good teen ponders which college they should attend.
It's easy to love a good child.

The difficult teen is often withdrawn from family. They don't smile a lot, they don't get real enthusiastic about much. A parent's heart breaks a little more every day.
The good teen often tells family about things that happened during their day. They smile and laugh a lot, and are enthusiastic about a lot of things. A parent's heart soars a little more every day.
It's easy to love a good child.

So many people give up on the difficult teen. Write them off as being unworthy of their efforts. Distrust, because they don't understand. Give up because it's the easiest thing to do.
So many people cheer for the good teen. Try to help them in any way they can. Trust them, because it's not hard to do so. Encourage them to succeed because they seem to want to.
It's easy to love a good child.

It's easy to love the good teen. The parent's of them, thank God their life is going as planned. That they have good children to love. Sure, a parent loves their good teen unconditionally. But they haven't really had to put that to the test. They haven't had to test the limits of their understanding and forgiveness. Their souls and faith are intact because they haven't been shattered. Do they realize that the most important things in life are the little things? The path of the good teen may not be exactly what a parent would have chosen, but they know that everything will turn out all right.
I thank God that you have a good child.

It's not easy to love the difficult teen. But I thank God for them, for without the difficult teens, how can we possibly understand what unconditional love really is? How would we know just how deeply we can love, and how easily we can forgive? How would we otherwise test the endurance of our souls, the depths of our faith? How else would we realize just how strong we really are? How else would we know what is TRULY important in life.
The path of the difficult teen may not be what a parent would have chosen, but it is the hand that they were dealt.
I thank God that I have a difficult child.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A few more tips for saving...

I just wanted to drop a quick blog entry - again on savings. Someone shared some tips for saving with me that I thought were awesome and wanted to share with you.

  • Save 50 cents a day for 30 days.  Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters - whatever.  Keep an envelope, jar, water jug, piggy bank, anything.  Put it someplace that you will be reminded every day/night to deposit your change.  At the end of the 30 days you will have $15.00 saved.  Take the change directly to the bank and deposit it all into your savings account.  Next month, double your daily deposit amount to $1.00 - coins or bills.  Save for 30 days.  ($30.00) Deposit this money into your savings account.  Continue doing this every month increasing your daily amount up to $5.00/day if possible.  DO NOT DIP INTO THIS MONEY!  Take it directly to the bank at the end of the 30 days and deposit.
  • When shopping, use coupons.  Whatever money you save by using coupons, deposit this amount into your savings account.  So whether  you save $4.20 or $42.00  - deposit that amount into your savings.
  • PAY YOURSELF FIRST!  Include your savings in your budget - like a bill.  And put this "bill" at the top of your budget, right above your rent/mortgage and all other expenses.  
I am starting these TODAY!  I will be adding a new ticker under my profile, if you would like to follow along with me on my financial makeover.

Thanks for stopping by and please share any tips or ideas you may have :)


Got to get my head out of the sand.

So I pretty much abandoned this blog for the past few weeks, Sorry Aunty M :(
I was in that downward spiral of no motivation. I was (and maybe still am) caught up in the circle of house is a mess ->I am discouraged so I eat->I overeat I am out of shape and lazy->I am out of shape and lazy I lay around and watch TV or waste time on the computer-> I watch TV and play on the computer I snack-> I snack and feel gross-> I spend money I don't have in shopping therapy->My finances suck I eat or get discouraged and don't want to do anything->housework doesn't get done-> I am overwhelmed by everything. Then I feel like I am so far behind why bother with anything, kind of like the dieter that has a bad day, meal or even a single indulgence and decides to throw in the towel.
So that's what I have been up to for the last few weeks. On the plus side, I do schedule time for socialization and activities with family and friends so I do enjoy that, but that takes a lot of time too. I have always had a problem with time organization. I am at the point where I don't even want to schedule anything on my days off, because I feel like that are over so quick and I got nothing done. Hopefully getting this train back on the track.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pinch those Pennies!

I realized yesterday that there are only four paychecks left until Christmas.  Am I prepared?  HAHAHAHAHAAHA!  NOPE!  I suppose I am not overly behind considering I only really shop for two people, one of them is 2 and has no idea yet what Christmas really is and has no expectations.  The other is my 17 year old, who is doing much better but is not overly deserving of much this year.  Maybe someday I will clue my blog world in on the girl child a little more.  I will get the hubby a little something.  Our moms, my sister in law and aunt are pretty easy gifts, but do involve a fair amount of preparation, not so much money, thankfully.

I have been trying to save money.  It just does not come natural to me, ha!  If I have money, I can feel it burning a hole in my pocket.  It just needs to be spent.  I typically have nothing to show for it.  :(  This needs to stop.

As of last Friday, I am officially contributing to the 401k at my job.  Not joining sooner is one of the dumbest financial decisions of my life.  Just dumb.  My job actually matches 75%.  So for every $1.00 they are putting in .75.  Every $100.00 I contribute they are putting in $75.00.  FREE MONEY!  And here I was just letting it get away.  I have also been at this company for a decade... Yep, just letting this free money get away.  The only reason I hadn't enrolled before was because I was afraid of having less money in my paycheck.  I felt I could not afford it.  But seriously, how can I AFFORD not to??!!  I am only contributing 3% of my pay for the time being and it's pre-tax.  3% less to work with for budget is not going to kill me.  Just wish I smartened up much much sooner.

I also have no emergency fund.  NOTHING!  My car needed some repairs last week and I had to make arrangements to pay another bill late in order to swing the repair bill.  I am tired of living like that.  I have two savings accounts but I spend whatever I save usually before my next paycheck even rolls around.  My goal is to save 6 months worth of living expenses.  Thankfully we have not been in a position where that has been necessary, but I would hate to not be prepared in the event it ever did.  Someone suggested to me to open a savings account at a bank that would be inconvenient to withdraw money from.  So outside of my normal bank.  So I opened an account with ING.  I chose ING because they have a higher interest rate, there is no ATM or Debit card, there is no branch for me to go in to withdraw funds and it was quick and easy to set up my account right online.  ING's interest rate on savings is 6.5% for 3 months and then drops to 5%. Still significantly higher than my piddly Bank of America rate of 0.05%.  And just an FYI, in case you haven't heard yet, BOA will be charging customer's a $5.00 monthly fee if you use your debit card to make online purchases, starting next year.  Yeah, they will be charging you to spend your own damn money.  I will admit that I like the convenience of BOA, it is world wide...but who the hell am I kidding...I don't travel, hahaah!  I frequent the same one or two BOA ATM's, either close to home or close to work.  Over the next couple of months I will be working on closing my accounts with them.  I'll be damned if you will be charging me to spend MY money.  Less access to my money will be a good thing.   I have other money oriented goals that I will talk about below so I won't be able to save as much as I would like right off the bat.  But SOME savings is better than NO savings.

Seeing little numbers really does nothing for me.  Like telling me that I could be saving $3.00 a day if I didn't go to Dunk'ns and buy a coffee every morning (which I don't do...just an example).  But when I see how much that adds up to over time, that definitely jolts me.  $3.00 on coffee 7 days a week is $21.00, approximately $90.00 a month, $1,095.00 a year, $21,915.00 over 20 years.

Check these numbers out: (I apologize for the small print, I couldn't get the sizing of my screen print right.  It was either huge and across the whole computer screen or this, so put your spectacles on.)

Crazy, right!?!  Those big numbers definitely do something for me, haha!  A lot of the items on that list don't pertain to me.  I'd say my biggest problem and unneeded expense is impulse buys.  I absolutely know the difference between a want and a need.  My problem is simply lacking the self discipline to curb my spending on "wants".

I really evaluated my spending and determined that I never REALLY buy anything for myself.  I don't buy clothes unless I NEED them and that is simply because I refuse to buy any more fat clothes.  When I lose all my weight I will have to keep myself in check.  I have issues with shoes since my injury and have to be very particular about what I wear on my feet.  So I don't buy shoes hardly ever.  Purses and extravagant jewelry are not really my thing.   I love my handmade earrings and I bought 11 pairs for under $30.00 on eBay, they will last me years and I have a pair to match every outfit I conjure up.  I have two signature pieces of jewelry that I wear all the time - well one, since my son lost my necklace behind my bed and I have not located it yet.  I don't care for perfumes since I my nose is very sensitive and the alcohol smell in all spray perfumes is overpowering to me.  I honestly spend $4.00 for my roll on bottle of Egyptian Musk oil and it lasts me months.  I get more compliments on the way I smell than I know what to do with, ha!

I have determined that my "problem spending" goes toward household items. ie: prettying up the bathroom, a new area rug for the kitchen, shelving, painting and wallpapering (again), pretty much making our rented apartment that we are not really happy in, more likable.  It dawned on me last weekend (while dropping cash in Lowe's) that if I didn't spend this money right now and drove straight to the bank and deposited it, that could be money saved toward a deposit on our OWN home.  But I spent anyway.  I know it might sound stupid, but I often think that this measly $60.00 is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  How is that little bit of money going to make me reach my goal of THOUSANDS towards a deposit on a house??!!  Just reading what I wrote I want to slap myself in the face!  I told you I have issues spending.  I have an excuse for everything, haha!

I also spend money on crafting supplies for crafts (which are being given or sold to someone else), I need to come up with a good formula for pricing my crafts.  I always end up coming out of pocket and cutting myself short.

I do spend money on toys for the little guy.  Not so much quantity but the items I choose to buy him are typically electronic and more expensive.  Which I do not regret.  One of these items is the Fisher-Price IXL, which in my opinion is one of the greatest inventions in children's educational toys. It has been a life saver on many occasions in our home and on the road.  My son LOVES it and has learned many many things using it.. (I just now decided to do a product review on it at a later date.)

On top of rent and your everyday bills, I do have credit card debt and a car note that I want to pay off. My debt is not astronomical at all, but it is debt just the same.  I tell myself all the time how broke I am (which is generally true) because I have spent my "extra" money on wants.  I have decided that I need to pay more money towards all of my credit card and car note.  Just making the minimum payment is going to take me forever to pay them off.  This is not ground breaking news for me.  I am quite aware that you pay a ton of money in interest the longer it takes you to pay off your debt.  It is just now - all of the sudden - hitting me how stupid I am being and I need to make changes immediately.  It would be one thing if I seriously didn't have a few extra bucks to throw on these accounts each month, but that is not my case.  I don't have a lot of extra money, but what I have been spending on nonsense, I will now be putting toward decreasing my debt more expeditiously (I like that word) and some money towards savings. 

I still plan on living.  I will still enjoy a nice bottle of wine, I will still eat healthy foods that unfortunately tend to cost more money, I will still treat my rugrats to nice things when they are deserving of it.  But these treats will need to be budgeted.  I have been eating very healthy for the past couple months and have lost close to 10 pounds, I have been getting more exercise in over the past week and I feel good.  If I can stick to my diet and exercise plan, I can stick to a financial makeover.  I know I can do it, although it will be a shock to my system.  It will take time to adapt, I know it will be hard but this much needed overhaul is what I need in  my life in order to get to where I need to be.

If anyone has any other money saving tips please share with me.

Wish me luck, People!  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interesting facts about clutter

Everything we possess that is not necessary for life or happiness becomes a burden, and scarcely a day passes that we do not add to it.  ~Robert Brault

  • We get more mail in one month than our grandparents got in a lifetime.
  • Attention deficit disorder, depression, chronic pain and grief can prevent people from getting organized or lead to a buildup of clutter. 
  • Being disorganized and having lots of clutter costs families an average of 10-15% of their income.
  • About 80% of the clutter in your home is a result of disorganization - not lack of space. 
  • Getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40 percent of housework in the average home.
  • 23% of adults say they pay bills late (and incur fees) because they lose them.
  • the average American burns 55 minutes a day looking for things they know they own but cannot find.
  • one-quarter of people with two-car garages have so much stuff in there that they can’t park a car.
  • we spend one year of our lives looking for lost items.
  • 1 in 11 american households rents a self-storage space and they spend over $1000 a year in rent.
  • Clutter can hinder sale of your home.  Many potential buyers may not see past dirt and clutter. If the house is crowded with the owner's "stuff," they will assume that the house is too small for their possessions.
  • Buried alive!  Every year a number of people are literally buried alive in their homes by clutter. Sometimes, their spouses, search dogs and police cannot locate them for weeks after their disappearance.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Did you know that studies have found that the average desk harbors 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat!!??  How disgusting is that?  Your phone, keyboard, mouse and where your hands lay on your desk are the dirtiest.

Studies showed that one of the least contaminated areas in the workplace was...are you ready??... THE TOILET!  Hmm, I know they did not include my office building in this study.  I'm not buying that the toilets in this place are one of the least contaminated areas.  I SEE THE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT MY ARGUMENT ON THE DAILY.

Other areas in the workplace that are germ infested are the water cooler, microwave handles, bathroom faucet handles, (I say) toilet seats and handles, and all doors.

I am grossed out on a daily basis at my job by the lipstick smudges on the spout of our water cooler.  We all know exactly who the culprit is, but no one has the balls to say anything to her, ha!  And I always think about all of the other people who probably rub their water bottle all over the spout too, but we just don't know about it because they don't leave a lipstick trail behind.

photo courtesy of

I am also mortified by the number of people I hear NOT wash their hands after going to the bathroom in this joint.  The walls are paper thin in the bathrooms and unfortunately I can hear everything that goes down in there.  And I mean...EVERYTHING!  Including, who did not wash their hands.  Then I think about how these people are going to go fill up their water bottle and touch the dispenser handle, or possibly open the fridge and spread their germs all over the fridge handle. Oh now it's time for lunch and they will using the microwave.  How about a little fecal matter with your chicken noodle soup.  Mmmm. 

Many people bring in food and then forget to take home or dispose of the leftovers. Then the food spoils and is probably contaminating everything in the fridge. The office refrigerator should be cleaned out once a week.  I think I am going to try and implement a new routine.  I am going to place a pack of post it notes and a marker in the kitchen and ask everyone to please write their name and the date on a post it and place it on their container or bag when putting it in the fridge.  This will hopefully serve as a reminder to them to eat or discard at the end of the week.  I am often the person who gets stuck cleaning out the fridge, I guess because it just bothers me most.  I can't say I have much regard for what container belongs to who.  If it has hair and is green it gets tossed, I don't care who's it is.  But if everyone had their names on the containers, it would definitely make my "job" easier.  I could just pull out all of the spoiled items and put them on the counter and send an email to all of the Shenaniganizers and tell them to collect their containers.

To keep office areas clean and bacteria free use disinfectant wipes or spray to routinely clean these surfaces.  By doing so microorganisms can be reduced by 99% or more.  If using a spray, wipe with paper towels, and change the towels frequently to avoid spreading bacteria from one surface to another.

Point of this post could be many.
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom (your mom should've taught you that...)
  • Be mindful that others will be using the water cooler after you, since it isn't your private property.  So don't rub your germ covered bottle all over the spout.  Simply hover your bottle under the spout and allow the water to pour into the bottle.
  • Clean and disinfect your desk regularly since it is 400 times grosser than a toilet. 
  • Throw away your unwanted food in the refrigerator, since your mom nor your maid are here to do it for you.
  • Use paper towels to shut off the faucet, shut off the light and open the door in the bathroom because you never know what the person before you did in there or if they washed their hands.
  • Wash hands frequently.