Friday, August 22, 2008

My experience with money - part one

I ended up writing way more then one post should have, so I split it up and called this part one...

We had some beautiful weather the other afternoon, cool and breezy from the aftermath of Fay. While the kids played nearby, I was able to have a great chat with one of my girlfriends and it brought a lot of things to light. So many everyday people are suffering in this economy, I personally know quite a few that are losing their homes or just walking away from them. The ones that are not losing their homes are trying to make ends meet or stuck in the rat race trying to keep up with everyone else.

One of the reasons we chose to pick up and move a few years ago was to simplify our lives. My husband and I both had great jobs and made quite a bit of money. I only worked two short days and had family to watch the kids, but my hubby was never home and was missing out on so much, especially where our children were concerned. We saw how all our friends were buying homes that were sucking the money and life out of them and we decided we didn't want to live like that.

When we moved we had my parents near us and my in-laws about three hours away, but other then a few scattered relatives that was it. We somehow mustered the courage and took a leap of faith and made the move. It was really tough to leave that life and our friends and family, but it's been the best thing for us. It took about a year to get really comfortable and feel like this was home, there are so many things that you have to change that you don't even think about. New doctors, dentists, schools, library, stores, insurance, auto shops, the list goes on and on. But we've made lots of wonderful friends and now have more family around us and it's really been a blessing. Most important for us, we are out of the rat race and have a lot of time together.

Now about the money. When we sold our house in NJ we took the money we made and put most of it into savings. My husband took a huge pay cut when we moved and it was a big adjustment. It was also very hard not to touch our savings at first, but thankfully we managed. My best advice is to weather it with baby steps and cut back a little at a time. Whether you have to cut back, want to get out of debt or just want to start saving you can use the same methods, you may just have to take your steps a little faster depending on your finances. I don't know if I could live as frugally as some do. Well that's probably not true, we could live more frugally we just choose not to when it comes to certain things. We have been very blessed and we never take that for granted, but we do spend some money on things we enjoy.

I'm off track again, about the money. If you want to start saving, start small - clip a few coupons, cut back on eating out, buy things on sale. Try something a week at a time and you'll see how fast it becomes your normal way to do things. We used to eat out all the time, now it's only occasionally and we don't miss it. It's our normal now, and the money we save is amazing. I used to buy whatever we felt like eating or what I wanted to cook that week, now I shop by sales fliers and coupons. We had the top cable package, now we have regular and I couldn't even tell you what we used to watch on those expensive channels (although my husband will quickly tell you it was the sports channels). I would go out to the stores all the time just to shop and then spend money on things we really didn't need. Now I shop for things that we need and get them on sale whenever possible. Another bit of advice, stay away from the stores as much as possible, if you are not in them you won't be tempted to buy things. Also try to avoid buying things just because it's a great deal, when I was starting out that was a big mistake I would make. I would find something that was an amazing bargain and buy it, only to realize later that I never really needed it (my husband and I have had some really good laughs from showing him some of my "amazing bargains").

Keep track of what you spend and what you are saving. When you see what you are doing with your money it's very motivating and empowering. Once you get into the mindset to save it becomes a challenge and you want to save more.

Run to T.J. Maxx

This is why I will never be able to follow an extremely strict budget, I've got to have a little room to groove on days like today. I will try not to hyperventilate while I fill you in on all the bargains I got at T.J. Maxx.

Superstar spa kit - bubble bath, bath gel & shimmer lotions in a nice box $1.00 (reg. $19.99)
(I bought 2)
Speedo girls bathing suit $4.00 (reg. $40.00)
Body Glove bathing suit 2 pc. $3.00 (reg. $25.00)
Capelli NY boys flip-flops $1.00 (reg. $7.00)
Girls fancy flip-flops $2.00 (reg. $10.00) (tag was off so I don't know what brand)
Adidas girls socks 3 pair $1.00 (reg. $8.00)
Poof 3/4 sleeve shirt $2.00 (reg. $14.00)
(I bought 1 pink, 1 gray)
Periscope girl shirt $3.00 (reg. $16.00) (2 shirts in one that can be worn separately).

My grand total was $21.30 and I took home at least $174.00 (before tax) worth of stuff. I only stopped in because I had 20 minutes before I had to pick up the kids, so I didn't even have time to really shop. Imagine what I could have saved if I had another hour to look around:)

Check out other great savings at Super Savings Saturday over at Money Saving Mom!

How long do balloons last?

This is the ceiling in our living room. We took these balloons home from the open house at school LAST Friday and the kids promptly let go of them. We were able to recover them a few times thanks to tall friends and long strings, but the kids somehow managed to break the strings and now they are stuck. These are not the only balloons either. We have 2 in the girls room without any string at all, and one that seems to roam the house at will. Our ceilings are pretty high so we would have to lug out the ladder to reach said balloons, a project I rejected undertaking since they were just balloons and wouldn't last long. Well it is 8 days later and the only thing they have done is shifted position when the air conditioning kicks on. I wonder how long they will last...