The July spending freeze (!)

I often set goals.

Sometimes, I fail!

After my son was born, I became determined to spend less in order to save. We needed to better prepare for life’s uncertainties. We needed a financial cushion.

A big part of saving is not spending.

I flunked in June.

Continue reading The July spending freeze (!)

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Eli, media mogul

you crazy moms
you crazy moms
My pal Rachel Calderon over at News9 featured Eli being adorable and cute, along with a story about stuff we’re doing to plan and save.

But srsly I look at the video and I just keep rewinding to him getting on his beloved truck.

Ooooh so cuuuuute.

For real though: Rachel worked up a 30-day financial challenge series for her station and asked us to participate! She reads my blog (Hi!). She was having a hard time sourcing a family finance story, probably because the only time people want to talk about money is when they’re showing it off! PAHA!

Not us! Oooh let me take you to Goodwill in the ’97 Ranger we bought with cash. Maybe after we get back we can have some Ramen! Yes? No? Doesn’t work?

Thank God Rachel knows what she’s doing, or who knows how this story would have turned out.

My family’s part in all of this was to do some number crunching, share the numbers with a financial planner, take to heart any criticism, listen to tips and implement them.

It was great to have an expert cast her expert eyes onto my budget and an expert journalist cast her eyes on our story. And it was easy, oh so easy — maybe too easy — for me to blather on about our goals on camera.

Rachel did a great job telling our story and included in it context and additional facts about financial challenges faced by families with chronic disease.

Here’s a link to the piece.

I’ll let you read and watch Eli being adorable surrounded by some facts about money.

In the mean time, we’ve begun rolling out new financial plans as we roll on into 2015.

We’ve implemented a few, but not all of them.

A few of our savings/spending goals are:

-Space out auto-deductions into savings account throughout month; save more to account for occasional purchases like clothes, electronics, gifts and auto repairs. Use cash for those occasional, yet expected, costs.
-Save more for fun dreams, ie, we want to take my kids to the ocean in ’15
-Invest in fun for ma and pa; it’s OK. It’s really OK.
-We’ve knocked out our December and Christmas budget; creativity in gift-giving shall commence now.

First of all making a budget, and second of all sticking to it, is a challenge.

2015: Bring it.

I try to write about our effort to save, survive and thrive each Monday in the category Money Madness. Cold, hard green. Bookmark it bay-bay.

What are your savings and investment goals leading into 2015? Leave a comment below or send a note!

xo

C-ya, slummy, and 5 other matters of madness and cash

Oh hey yah, it’s been a while since I wrote about cash.

Let’s see…During the month of September we were like a germ bag circus.

The month of October, we had an opportunity to move away from slummy the slumlord, owner of giant dread tree in backyard he refuses to cut down.

And why clean the house when you can just transfer your stuff into a new one?

We got so busy, the laundry pile so huge, and this move has been so overwhelming, and I ate so much pizza, I kinda felt like this guy:

bleeeeeh
bleeeeeh

Bleeeeeeeh!

It’s been just over a year since I spearheaded the family effort to not be financial dum dums any more.

I just re-read my original post in which I was like: chronic disease. Top American dream killa, frack you. Here it is. That’ll get ya caught up.

A year on, are things easier? No.

However, we are making better choices and slowly, slowly (possibly too slowly) our lives are changing.

Below is a list of ways my family has changed for the better and what I feel we can do to improve.

Good thing bad thing, the list:

1. No more-ish boredom shopping
I (vastly) stopped shopping ‘because I’m bored.’ I gravitate toward shiny, pretty things so that was good.If I want to look around in a tantalizing store out of boredom or need for escape I will leave my cash n debit in the car. Mark…just…never buys anything for himself, so no worries there.

But can you (yes, you, Juliana) do better?: I go to Goodwill in search of treasure for kicks, I won’t deny it. By “treasure,” I mean, I bought a giant porcelain rubber duck for the kids’ bathroom. Also, I am obsessed with globes and found a pretty sweet one from Haiti. Who doesn’t need a giant duck and a Haitian globe? Don’t judge me. Aw crumbs it’s all money down the drain.

2. A pat on the back for saving
Saving while attempting to afford childcare for Eli and Laila is flippin hard. Even as we cut a check every week, the numbers staring back up at us are just…stunning. Because of my son’s chronic illness (cystic fibrosis) I have refused to put him in daycare. We have a nanny I love but she’s pricey to the tune around 2K/ month. That’s one big ass pile of cash for we little people of little consequence and modest means. My dad Big Al recently chipped in, because as opposed to last year when we had part-time help, we now have full-time help due to the demands of our work schedules. I feel like the biggest of all big huge losers for admitting this.

But we can do better?
With my pop’s recent big-hearted move, I hope to squeeze more into a savings account. Other changes we made to afford our childcare tab include enrolling Laila in a public school, canceling cable (boo hoo first world problem), paying off Eli’s medical bills from two surgeries with a sense of urgency and sticking to a budget at the grocery store each week. We also took on extra work, which brings me to…

3. Extra work…yaaaaay…kind of, because who actually wants to work more? NO ONE.
A good thing about sharing what’s going on in life is that people step up. Around Christmas last year I started waiting tables to kick down Eli’s medical bills. So holding two jobs plus being a parent 24/7 felt, well, exhausting and stressful, which I wrote about. My excellent friend Lee (Hey Lee!) kicked me a good contact for freelance work and I quit job 2. I’ve only had the chance to write a few articles but it helped kick-start a savings initiative. Then my pal Erika offered my husband Mark, a teacher, a copy editing gig for a curriculum company he does at night. Why are we working like this? For one thing, we have not received meaningful raises in years, which has had an increasingly negative impact on us as our expenses continue to rise. I’ve not received a raise since I moved to Oklahoma three years ago in January. My husband’s raises (OKC Public School) are like a bad joke. HAHAHAHA except no one’s laughing.

But can we do better?
Right now, like, as I’m typing, in this moment in time, no. Because we like to sleep. Wait, then why are we still tired? Because we are trying. It is statistically more likely that opportunity will present itself and your life will improve when you try. So we’ll just keep trying.

4. Budgets
We’ve had them! Like, half the time!

Do better: Have a monthly budget. It really does work to keep one in line financially.

5. Housing
We moved to a new house.

Can we do better?
I don’t really know. We are renting. Maybe that’s stupid. But I believe in having enough cash for a big down payment at least and a stockpile for fixes and the unexpected, and we just don’t have that now. I think we are doing better, because we are living in a bigger, nicer, safter and more energy-efficient place and it’s just a little bit more per month. Plus OKC is one of the lowest cost-of-living metros in the country.

And I don’t have a slumlord any more.

Victory is mine.

I try to write about our effort to save, survive and thrive each Monday in the category Money Madness. Bookmark it bay-bay. Thanks for reading!

What kind of financial improvements are you trying to make in your lives? What have your successes or failures been and how long have you been givin’ it the ‘ol college try? Leave a comment or send a note. xoxoxoxoxox

family

Monday money madness: Batten down the hatches, it’s childcare season!

We had our fun in July.

My family got out and explored the world, ie, the Southern plains. Ma & Pa drank the good beer and even pulled off a few nice nights out.

Fun’s over, kids! It’s childcare season. Mark, a teacher and stay-at-home summer parent, had his first day of school today.

Continue reading Monday money madness: Batten down the hatches, it’s childcare season!

Total budget…breakdown

Welp, I just can’t lie. Our effort at running a tight ship on the money front went up in smoke this month.

Do you have any idea what kind of lattes they have in the D.C. area? I had a Mayan Coca and cayenne latte, people. I was there to learn about how to be a good soldier in the cause to cure cystic fibrosis, and eat all the baked goods, and drink all the lattes, at every little indie cafe I saw. NOMS.

noms noms noms noms
noms noms noms noms

Continue reading Total budget…breakdown

The ledger

One day at a time

Making a budget was the last thing on earth I felt like doing tonight.

A few days ago, Mark sent me a text. And by a few days ago, I mean, roughly 10 days ago, he sent this text:

Continue reading The ledger