Friday, June 29, 2012

Homemade hand soap... This is going to save you a LOT of money.

I told my mom I was going to be making hand soap. She said, "I have TONS of bars of natural soap I got on clearance at Christmas time at target." LIGHTBULB...
"Hey mom, I'll make you a gallon of it if you send me home with a bar for you and a bar for me."
This works out well for both of us. She got the 3 packs of soap for $2.50. So she only paid $.83 per bar of soap. And I don't have to buy a bar of $5.00 organic soap.
The glycerin was $2.29 at Publix {Its in the bandaid isle} I only used about an eighth of the bottle. Plenty leftover for future soap making. So that was $.29 cents worth of glycerin per gallon of soap.
And the gallon of distilled water was $.79 at Publix.
So, Thanks to my mothers awesome clearance shopping skills, I only spent $1.08 on a GALLON of hand soap. My moms cost per gallon was $1.91. Plus the $.83 cents for my bar.

Now, I've said it before, I am very picky about the soaps we use and I ONLY buy J.R Watkins. It's natural, not a lot of ingredients, ETC. I like it. It's about $4.99 a bottle. That bottle contains 11 Oz. 

Shea Moisture Organic Shea Butter Soap Bar

This is the soap I used. My kitchen smelled LOVELY.
 And it only took about ten minutes hands on time.
{Technically it made a gallon and this much. I filled this one up with what wouldn't fit in the gallon. That's why its not full...If you were wondering.}
One gallon is 128 Oz. So lets do the math. 

128 Oz of JR Watkins would cost me $58. 
128 Oz of this homemade soap cost me $1.08 {Thanks to my genius idea to have someone else buy the stuff and I'd do the labor. I like this system... } even if you bought everything yourself, and didn't get the soap on sale, It would maybe cost you $6 or $7. You would still come out way ahead.
So, Cost savings... A LOT.  Who the heck wants to spend $60 on soap? Not me, I'd rather spend ten minutes making soap and have that $60 for something else... Like sitting in the bank earning 3%. Every little bit helps right?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Recently I have taken a huge interest in making my kids avid readers. {Ironically they have never been in a library, It's just too much to take 4 of them by myself}
We do flashcards and of course that dang leap pad. {I'm going through batteries like there is no tomorrow.} And the books... Of course the books. We are currently taking a book a day and reading it and doing a fun activity inspired by the book. {AHHH, The perks of not having cable. I really do like it. I just miss ESPN}

Here's a few of our favorite books. 
I'd love to know some of your favorites. We are running out of books here folks!

 I'm pretty sure we have read every fancy nancy book out there... At least a hundred times.

Front Cover

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You need to read this book.

This is what I'm reading right now. I've wanted to read it for a long time but didn't want to cough up the $10 for the book. Ironic no?

A few random thoughts that this book has provoked...

Owing is not owning.
It's not how much you make... Its how much you spend. 
Man, This book makes me feel really poor... {Like as in money, not in spirit} These can't be real numbers can they?!
I feel really dumb for not starting to care about money and saving sooner.
Where was this book when I was 18? I wish I'd found it then. 
It also made me wonder where the balance was? Is there a point where you have enough in the bank that you can loosen up the reigns a bit? If so, what's that number? When you are to that point is it so ingrained into who you are that it becomes hard to spend money? 
How do you get to that point? How do you turn yourself from a spender into a saver? If I had the money is it okay to splurge on a few things? Do millionaires next door splurge on nice things ever? Or do they put every last penny into savings and sit on cardboard boxes and drive corollas? Okay, basically I'm wondering if I can still be a millionaire next door {Sometime down the road obviously not tomorrow} and buy a tiny bit of Pottery Barn for the new house ;) Like a vase or something:) Where's the balance? Can one of you millionaires next door please tell me the answer to that question?

A few random stories...
One of Mikes mission presidents was extremely wealthy. And yet, he always wore shoes from payless. He's one of Mike's role models for several reasons. Payless shoes and old man Toyota Avalon are two reasons that are on the list. {And several others that aren't related to this subject, That's another post}

We were in the grocery store the other day and Lala asked if she could have something out of the dollar bins. Before I could say anything Blake said "Lala that costs money. Do you have any dollars to pay for that? Mom doesn't have any dollars." Awesome, I'm sure everyone around us heard. And you know what, I don't care one lick. Now don't think that I am involving my kids in my finances, {not that they would understand all that at 5 years old anyways} But I do teach them that they can't buy everything they want. And I intend to teach them from a young age about being frugal. And no, My children are not deprived. Far from it. 

When did this stupid idea of "wealth" begin? The big houses, flashy cars, name brands, and all that crap? Most people that are actually wealthy don't have any of those things. That's why they are wealthy! Most people that really are wealthy don't even "look" like it. And most people that do "look" like it, really aren't, they've bought those things on credit, even if they didn't buy it on credit, and they can "afford" it, that money isn't in the bank anymore! So technically they aren't wealthy, They spend what they make! {If that doesn't make sense you need to read the book and read their definition of wealthy. It's really good}
Any how, the bottom line is, We get wealthy by saving. It can be done on the most modest of incomes. Just as going bankrupt can come even if you make a million dollars a year. It depends on us, and what we want. Do we want financial peace and security, Or do we want to buy the latest and greatest and the biggest and the nicest? I want peace and stability. Do my spending and saving habits reflect that? I don't know. I need to stew on those thoughts for a while and revisit the budget and the savings.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The best thing I ever did to save time.

Okay, So granted, I may be slightly obsessive compulsive, And I like clean and neat. But this is really a huge huge time saver. all together it takes about 30 minutes to prep all the food from my once a week grocery trip and it's ready to go. I mentioned this in a previous post, But thought that I'd elaborate. This especially makes meals super duper fast and easy. And the kids can snack on their own.
I just use the plastic containers that the food comes in. For the carrots {Since they come in a bag} I just use an extra strawberry container. I wash the containers out, line them with a {reusable} paper towel and cut off the plastic lid, so just the bottom is there.
I peel all the carrots, take the gross stringy part from the middle of the snap peas, cut the broccoli, ETC. While the grapes, apples, stawberries, blackberries, cherries, whatever other fruits we have that week, sit and rinse in a {clean} sink full of of ten parts water and one part vinegar. Okay, I don't really measure it out. I just fill the sink up and pour a cup of vinegar in. It works. I don't rinse my vinegar off. You can't taste it. The vinegar keeps mold spores from growing and keeps the fruits and especially the berries firm and not soft and mushy, they last WAY WAY longer this way.

For the grapes, I cut the stems into smaller clumps with the kitchen shears. Okay, sometimes if I can't find those, I use my kids safety scissors. 
And those carrot peels... Don't worry those don't get wasted, I blanch those and then throw them in the blender with some cooked rice and chicken and make baby food. And no, I don't always make ALL of Brent's baby food. I'm not that awesome. I buy some too.

Oh shootsky, I forgot to take a picture of the meat. {I know you all love my iphone pictures because they are so awesome!} We only have chicken breasts once or maybe twice a week. So when I get home I clean the entire package {I buy the fresh organic packs at Costco} And cut them into meal sized portions {I slice the chicken breast in half so they aren't so thick}, and put them in two bags of marinade. Half goes into a salsa marinade and the other goes into an herb seasoning. That way all I have to do for dinner is throw some rice into the rice cooker and just throw those on to cook. This saves SO much time. Especially snacking and lunches. For lunch I just tell the kids to put whatever they want on their plate from the fridge and then I add a sandwich. They love that because they get to pick! I love it because they can't pick anything unhealthy! Breakfast is super easy, A few waffles and throw some fruit on top and voila! 5 second breakfast. I hate when people say "My kids don't eat fruits and veggies..." Well, That's because you haven't given them the chance. If you put processed brightly packaged crap in your pantry, you've chosen for them. If you don't buy that, One, it's cheaper, two its healthier, and three, They won't have a choice but to eat what you buy. My kids will almost always pick fruits and veggies over chips or snack cracker. Why? Because that is what they are used to. Their pallets aren't junked up by all that sodium and crap, so they crave good whole, natural foods. So, Let's recap... I don't do processed food because A) unhealthy B) Cheaper... WAY cheaper. C) when I do it this way, by talking just 30 minutes when I come in from the grocery store, It is JUST AS FAST as all those pre packaged meals. I bet I could actually get this (A healthy lunch) on the table faster than someone could cook that box of mac n cheese. with half the effort. So, Do yourself a favor and just try it. I promise you'll like it!

Monday, June 25, 2012

cash budget envelopes

I've been pretty good about the cash budget thing. It's really pretty simple when you cut way way back. 
Over the past 2 months I've cut out....

Diapers and wipes. Savings $40 a week.
{Cloth diapering is going well, Still having to fiddle around and figure a few things out, But I'm committed!} 

5 hour energies are totally gone. Savings $20 a week. 
{that was between both of us}

Paper towels are gone. Savings $20 about every week and a half. We used a LOT of paper towels. We are using reusable ones these days and really like it.

Nobody is getting new clothes until we have to go school shopping so there is no clothing budget right now.

I started making my own hand soap and laundry soap and using vinegar {With lemon peels soaked in and some essential oils} as our all purpose cleaner. It actually works really well, and it isn't stinky. 
I'll do a whole post on those later this week. 

And we are set on toiletries from my couponing days, So we don't have any expenses for those right now. So really the only thing I have to buy is gas and groceries. The grocery budget is $100 a week. Most of that goes to fresh fruits and veggies and a few pounds of meat. The bulk of our meals is coming from food storage. {rice, beans, pasta, oatmeal, and wheat.} 

So, back to cash. This is in my opinion the best way to get started on a budget. And stay on one for that matter. Once it's gone, it's gone. No going over budget. You'll learn to buy the real needs and not the conveniences real quick. 
I'm really surprised at how many ladies I see at the grocery store with their envelopes! It's pretty exciting!
I was sick of having ugly plain white envelopes for my cash, And so I made some cute ones.

I just took some scrapbook paper and traced a regular envelope, And then folded and glued where the original envelope was glued together. 
Pulled out the old cricket and made some labels to designate which week of groceries, or Costco, or miscellaneous. Punched some holes, And then did a blanket stitch to hold them all together. {You can totally skip that part. It doesn't really make that big of a difference. I would actually prefer to have mine separate, But how was I to know that before hand? That just goes to show that not all ideas on Pinterest are awesome. }
It does fit nicely in my wallet and they are way way prettier than plain old white envelopes and they are a bit sturdier too! And I don't know about you, But when things are pretty, it makes me want to use them. More motivation to stick to cash!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I love my job

Cutest bosses ever!

Just another day at the office!
It's a rough job, but somebody's gotta do it. {Let's see how long it takes Sarah to beat me for putting this picture up. Since my best friend rarely reads my blog.} 
Okay so most days I do sit for 30 minutes or so and chit chat and have a protein shake at the gym, But that's really about the only time that I get to sit down until the kids go to bed. 
I will say that being a stay at home mom is hard. Exhausting. Frustrating. Takes LOTS of patience. Is physically and emotionally taxing. 
For example, Just now as I was writing this, Brent is tired and starts crying for a bottle and a nap, So I get up to fix him that. Lexi is screaming "lullaby lullaby lullaby" At the top of her lungs to "soothe" him. Kynzi sees that Brent is getting a bottle and starts doing some rain dance type thing, waving her arms and dancing around in circles, clapping and babbling in Kynzi language "baaaabaaaaa baaaaaaabaaaa"{Yes I still occasionally give my 2 year old a bottle. My thoughts are that she's small and underweight and she needs the calories and if that is the only way she will drink them, I'm going to give it to her. And she's going to need braces from her finger sucking habit anyways. Think what you will. I don't care.} And lets not forget about Blake... He's asking for seconds on cinnamon rolls. Sure kid, I'm not busy, let me hop over and grab that for you, right this second.
But you know what? I love it. I love almost every second of it. {Let's be honest, some seconds are less than fun.} I love that they need me. I tell Mike all the time how much I love that he needs me. And I love to serve them. I was thinking the other day what I would be doing if I weren't a stay at home mom. And you know what, I couldn't think of anything else that I love doing more than what I do, and couldn't think of anything that I am better at. I am good at being a house wife. I am good at cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of babies, running the household finances, and everything that comes with running a household. 
My name is Kyrsten and I'm a Mormon, a Mommy and...
A tutor
A seamstress
A laundry lady
A cleaning lady
A teacher
A lifeguard
A Chef
A referee
A dishwasher
A Nurse
A playmate
A handy man 
A proffesional organizer
A party planner
A professional errand runner
A diaper changer
A bottler maker
A grocery shopper

The list goes on... Depending on what day it is. It's hard, But I Really LOVE LOVE LOVE my Job, and the wonderful man that makes it possible for me to live out my dream. This is exactly where I thought I'd be and where I wanted to be 10 years ago. 
Well, Minus the mini van ;) But it's grown on me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Len Penzo's ABC's of money.

I've taken a liking to this blog. I found THIS and couldn't agree more! {Okay the only thing I disagree with is K. I think that 3 months is a good start, But 6 months is better and that's what I am going to go by.

{These are Len's ABC's not mine.} My thoughts are in green.

Annual income, twenty pounds; annual expenditure, nineteen pounds; result, happiness. Annual income, twenty pounds; annual expenditure, twenty-one pounds; result, misery. –- Charles Dickens in his book David Copperfield*
Buy when everyone else is selling and hold until everyone else is buying. That’s not just a catchy slogan. It’s the very essence of successful investing. –-J.P. Getty
Content makes poor men rich. Discontent makes rich men poor. — Benjamin Franklin
Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are. — James W. Frick
Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. — Norman Vincent Peale
For a happy marriage, wise is the husband who understands that what’s hers is hers and what’s yours is hers. — Len Penzo
Good habits result from resisting temptation. — an ancient proverb
He is richest who is content with least. — Socrates
If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem. — J.P. Getty
Just remember: Any man who has $10,000 left when he dies is a failure. — Errol Flynn
Keep an emergency fund of at least three month’s living expenses. — common financial wisdom
Lend your money and lose your friend.– English proverb
Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. — Benjamin Franklin
Never spend your money before you have it. -– Thomas Jefferson
October: This is one of the particularly dangerous months to invest in stocks. Other dangerous months are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February. — Mark Twain
Plenty of people despise money, but few know how to give it away. — Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld
Quit using credit cards for making any purchases unless you intend to pay off the balance in full at the end of every month. — common financial wisdom
Rich people plan for four generations. Poor people plan for Saturday night. — Gloria Steinem
Solvency is entirely a matter of temperament and not of income. — Logan Pearsall Smith
The art of living easily as to money is to pitch your scale of living one degree below your means. –- Sir Henry Taylor
Understand that there is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means. — Calvin Coolidge
Volatility in your retirement portfolio can be minimized via diversification. — common financial wisdom
Wants may be easily satisfied either by producing much or desiring little. -– Marshall Sahlins
Xerox stock price on April 17 of selected years (adjusted to account for any splits and/or dividends): 1970 – $14.15; 1999 – $55.13; 2009 – $5.92. The moral of this story is that even buy-and-hold investors need to know when it’s time to sell. — Len Penzo
You’ll be much better off financially if you strive to be anonymously rich rather than deceptively poor. — Len Penzo
Zillow should never be considered an accurate gauge of your home’s value. — Len Penzo

You know what's crazy... Most financial "Golden rules" are common sense... The test comes when we can actually enforce the self control to live the way we know we should. I'm not perfect. But I am to the point that I know what I want {In short, House paid off in 15 years, and enough money in savings to retire when I'm 45.} And I know what I need to do to get there, AND I have the self control to tell myself NO when I want something. Yes, I'd love that $130 shiny pearl colored Brahmin wallet... But I sure as heck have enough self control to NOT buy it. I wouldn't have to buy it on credit, my emergency fund would still be in tact, and I would still be able to buy my groceries. "Technically" I could afford it. The point is that I have come to the place where I can afford those things if I wanted them, Because I haven't bought everything I've wanted in the past. I'm not saying I'm perfect. But I try hard. And I have done my best to teach my kids that saving money is important and that we don't buy everything we want. There is always room for improvement. But I think I realized that "This" {frugal} Is who I have become {I was a terrible spender before} While we were on vacation. We could have lost ourselves in the moments of vacation and spent on things we wanted, overpriced snorkeling trips, overpriced spa visits, ETC. We had a fabulous vacation and even better is that we still have the money that would have been spent on those things in the bank. It's a much much better feeling. Now I'm not saying that we have a boring terrible life and that we never do those things. We do, We just do it frugally and have learned to manage the emotions that go with spending. I'd say that I am now a logical buyer and not an emotional buyer. It's taken time, But it's well worth it. This is coming from a girl who used to NEVER look at price tags, and spent money on whatever I wanted. {That was one contributing factor to the "financial disaster or '08} If I can make this 180, You can too. You can't get frustrated that you made a financial mistake this week and throw in the towel, hang in there. Its a LONG, hard, but well worth it, journey.

This post is going to start off like every other post I've written in the last 2 months. We're busy. The time I would normally take to sit and write has been filled with vacation getaways, the NBA finals, pool time, laundry, packing, unpacking, grocery shopping, baby cuddling, trying new recipes, creating fun new stuff, and getting creative with the budget. So, over the next week, I'm going to do my best to just sit, write and get caught up.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

miami and cloth diapers... say whaaaaa?

We have been busy. Finding the time to write is almost impossible. I miss not writing everyday. I have tons of pictures to share and lots of stories waiting to be told. I'll get to them eventually... It'll probably be a few months down the road, But whatever, Life is short and I'm enjoying every second with these little babies. And if they want held on the couch and that means I don't have time to blog, So be it.

We have been sick for quite some time, and everyone finally started feeling better Thursday.

Mike and I are headed to Miami for a little getaway just the two of us! In the 6 years we have been married we have been away twice not counting our Savannah "honeymoon." Hawaii, and Utah for general conference. So this is long over due. And the best part... Toyota is paying for the whole thing! My expenses too! The perks of being a Toyota Pro are pretty sweet! So today, I'm off to get a pedicure, and find a cocktail dress. I've never had an excuse to have or wear one! EEEEEEE!! I'm so excited to get dressed up!

So on a completely different note, {back to reality.} We started our cloth diaper journey. Now granted it's only day 4 of 100% cloth diapering... But I can't tell you how much I am kicking myself for not trying it sooner. Over the span of all 4 kids do you know how much money I could have saved?  It makes me sick to actually do the numbers. But oh well, 2 outta 4 ain't bad right? I am SO surprised by just how easy it is. I don't even know what I was scared of!! Let me start from the beginning... I put a shout out on facebook asking if anyone had experience with with them. I was pretty excited that so many people had, or knew someone I could ask. My friend Courtney said she had some that I could try. So first reaction... Oh gosh. I better have some disposables on hand just in case I chicken out. Then I thought to myself. No, I'm going to force myself to do this 100%. We were at our last resort with poor Brent and his ultra sensitive bum. And so I figured, Well, If I'm doing it with Brent, Kynzi is going in them too, or she's getting potty trained. {She hasn't quite got the whole sit on the toilet before you go thing... She's at the I pee then take my diaper off and sit on the toilet stage.} So I put both of them in  We have had NO leaks, And these have been the first mornings that Brent has woken up with dry pajamas. {Thanks for the two insert tip Bethany.} And we haven't had any major blowouts. Kynzi filled the entire diaper and got a TINY bit on her onesie, But in a normal diaper that would have been EVERYWHERE. Brent got a red bum yesterday from something that he ate, and without any bum cream his heine was cleared up overnight. Something that in an earths best all natural diaper would have taken at least two or three days to clear up with cream.

Washing them is easier than I thought. And as long as you can keep up with the laundry it isn't a big deal at all. And even if you can't as long as you can throw the bag of soiled diapers in the washer every night, you're fine. And I just stick them on a drying rack over night and they are ready to go in the morning. Now, I will say the only thing is that the initial start up cost can be expensive. Very expensive. But if you had a baby shower, You could just ask everyone to buy one diaper and a couple inserts and Voila! You'd have your supply. We were SO SO blessed that Courtney and Phillip gave us their entire set of fuzzibunz. Oh my I still can't express how grateful we are. Otherwise, There is no way I could have committed 100% to these. At least not all at once. I would have had to build our supply slowly. Or I would have had to wash them as they used them!

So far, I have been washing them with the Costco free and clear detergent, But it has more wax than The diapers should be washed in over time. So I'm off to get the ingredients to make my own detergent for them.

As I was changing their diaper using disposable wipes, I thought to myself, Well this is dumb, If I am washing diapers I may as well wash wipes too. So I am going to pick up a set of reusable wipes and I am planning to make my own wipe solution to go with them.
The only two things I still need are a sprayer for the toilet,  And some on the Go wet bags. And I'm thinking I'll make those.
First reusable paper towels and now diapers and wipes too?! Who am I? I mean, I am ALL about Organic and all natural, But let's be honest, The whole reason I am being so "Green" Is because it is SO cost efficient. {And the fact that Brent is allergic to everything} But I am a cheap skate and I hate spending money on stuff I am throwing away. Between wipes and diapers I am saving at least $200 a month. No, I'm not kidding. So even though we didn't have to buy our cloth diapers, even if we did, It would have paid itself off in one or two months. 
I am now a cloth diaper convert. I love love love them. If you've been curious or throwing around the idea, pick up a couple and just try it out, You'll be surprised at how easy it is, and how few bum rashes your little one gets!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bubonic Plague

Pretty sure that the Bubonic Plague has hit the Hicks household. Mike had it Tuesday-Saturday-ish and I got hit hard yesterday, poor Brent I think has had it since Friday, and Blake has slept for probably 1/2 the day today. It's the weirdest thing, We feel okay in the morning, and then like death come early afternoon. This morning we had these for breakfast. 
Pretty tasty if you ask me. {I mean, Anything rolled in butter is good right?} Well, it was for the 10 minutes I kept it down. I'm not sure what I was thinking eating cinnamon and butter on a sick stomach... 
Our poor kids, Brent has been a terror. He's teething and I'm pretty sure he has this bug, So he has been screaming nonstop. And not sleeping through the night. Neither of our parents could come to the rescue today either... Thank heavens for the greatest friends and home teacher, They brought us dinner without being asked. Seriously an answer to a prayer. I couldn't even move from my bed to the couch without being exhausted. And Mike can't cook anything. No, really, Unless it's a frozen pizza and even then he has to ask me what to turn the oven to and how long it cooks for. {Even though it's on the box}
The house is disastrous, The laundry is in piles as tall as mountains... I hate being sick. Trying to catch up from the days of doing nothing is going to be terrible. I have at least 6 loads of laundry and a good few hours of cleaning. It's not happening for a while though, let's be honest. 
It was however, Really nice to just stay home and cuddle with all these babies in our bed. Watching Disney movies and taking naps. 
The house is coming along... still slow.... And always with a wrench in the plan. Now we are going to have to design the laundry room after we move in because the supplier doesn't carry the sink and faucet I want. Really? It's a galvanized bucket sweet cheeks. I could probably find one on the side of the road. Oh well. Just gives me more time to find more ideas right?!
Obviously this sickness has thrown off our summer scheduel... But the important things are still getting done and being taught. Hanging out with babies, and Blake and LaLa are doing fabulous with this pre school curriculum... And these sight word flash cards.
I'm hoping to have him reading by himself by the summers end. I'm pretty sure he could do it now, But the kid is so dang lazy. Any who, As soon as the plague has cleared, I'll get back to the exciting and productive posts. I started a project 4 days ago and still haven't finished it. {SO not like me!}

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Reusable paper towels...

Right now, I'm sitting at the computer eating oatmeal cookie dough out of the mixing bowl with the spatula... I didn't even bake any of it... I'll work it off tomorrow at the gym... And yes, my stomach hurts from eating so much, and I can't stop. In other news, Sarah, Ashlar and I took the kiddos out to the splash park. The kids love it out there. I wish we could be out there everyday this summer, But gas prices don't allow. Speaking of prices... Medical bills make me MAD. They put me in such a bad mood. So after looking over all the medical bills from Brents ER trip a while back, I needed a project to get my mind back into happy mode. 

These aren't mine... These are the ones from the tutorial I used.
I've been wanting to make these for a while now, { I know I could just use a bunch of white washcloths, But I like that these are on a roll} But had to find the motivation... Well, It came. We are on our last pack of paper towels... And I'm not sure if you have looked lately, But they are expensive! It's about $25 for a big pack of like 15 rolls at Costco... We go through one of those packs every 2 weeks. No, I'm not joking. We use a LOT of paper towels... So that means we are spending a whole lot of money on paper towels. Now, Part of me wants to say I'm doing it only to be "green" But let's be honest... It's mostly because I'm cheap. It's the same reason we have a prius. I mean, I do care about the earth and all that stuff, But I care about my bank account more. I asked Mike if he thought I had gone off the deep end, when I was cutting them out... {Insert skeptical look here} "Kyrsten, How much is this really going to save?"... {Sometimes my projects cost more than if I had just broke down and bought it, I have fancy fabric tastes, what can I say?} I think he was pretty impressed when I told him how much paper towels cost, and how cheap my 2 towels were... So, Mine are boring and white... But that's for two reasons... It was cheaper to buy 2 large white towels from target {$4.99} than it was to buy terry cloth by the yard... And two... I don't want fabric prints in my kitchen. I like my kitchen to look sterile. Plain white paper towels, counters clean and smellin' like citrus. It's the OCD in me. So, I plan on just keeping a little basket under the sink cabinet where we can put the dirty ones, and I will just wash them when I wash the towels. Alright, I'm going to finish my cookie dough and head to bed. And yes, My GOAL is to be 100% paper towel free. We'll see if I can do it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Today, I took LaLa and Kynzi to run my errands with me while mike stayed home and took the boys for a walk. I got new running shoes... Much needed and long over due.
They are the brooks pure connect. They look a little strange for a running shoe and I wasn't completely convinced of what the guy was telling me, but after I put those bad boys on I knew what all the hype was about. This shoe was my last shot before taking up barefoot running... EVERY other shoe I have bought is giving me problems, {Knee, shin, back} But I seem to be able to run barefoot pain free... I'm telling you those crazies you see running marathons with no shoes are on to something... But it might have been frowned upon if I tried to take up barefoot running on the gym treadmill... I'd probably get a few weird looks... and athletes foot.
I mean, But lets not over look the fact that they do happen to be my favorite color.
I also saw these two shirts and wanted both of them... But budget didn't allow... {Remember no spending year... Unfortunately it isn't over.}


So true... So true. Then we headed off to the craft store. LaLa LOVES going to Joanns and Michaels. She is so fun to take in there. I had to get some lining fabric to start a project with this material that I fell in LOVE with. No, for real, This is my inspiration for the fortress of sewitude. I'm pretty much obsessed with it. {Its joel dewberry ornate floral}

Sew in love... Sew in love.
Mike is at scouts right now, and it's pouring down rain... He will be so happy when he has to park 1/4 of a mile away from our townhouse and walk in this mess... Sigh... Only 4 1/2 more months... And then he will be able to park in the garage... Or at least our driveway;) It can't go fast enough...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Financial mumbo jumbo...


Mike sent me this article in an email. {I love it.} It states our feelings exactly on financial matters.{even though we aren't your millionaire next door neighbor...Yet.} The subject line read: Blog material. So, This one is what Mike has to say. My thoughts are in orange. I'm sorry, This is a REALLY long post, But SO worth the time.

19 Things Your Suburban Millionaire Neighbor Won’t Tell You

That’s right.  Although having a million bucks isn’t as impressive as it once was, it’s still nothing to sneeze at.
In fact, Reuters reports that in 2009 there were 7.8 million millionaires in the United States.
That’s a lot of people, people.  And the odds are one or two of them are living near you.
Heck, one of them might even be your neighbor.  In fact, the odds are very good that it is your neighbor.
But, Len, you don’t know my neighbor.  That guy doesn’t look anything like a millionaire.
Well, guess what?  Your suburban millionaire neighbor called (oh yeah, we go way back) and the two of us had a nice little chat.
Here’s a few things he shared with me – but apparently doesn’t want to tell you.  (No offense, I’m sure.)

1. He always spends less than he earns.  In fact his mantra is, over the long run, you’re better off if you strive to be anonymously rich rather than deceptively poor.
I can only speak from our experience, But Mike is A car sales man. That means that we are on a commission based pay-plan. Some months are feast, and other months are famine. Our budget is based on the famine month numbers. Any excess that we have goes to savings.
2. He knows that patience is a virtue. The odds are you won’t become a millionaire overnight.  If you’re like him, your wealth will be accumulated gradually by diligently saving your money over multiple decades. Mike is a whole lot better at this one than I am.
3.  When you go to his modest three-bed two-bath house, you’re going to be drinking Folgers instead of Starbucks.  And if you need a lift, well, you’re going to get a ride in his ten-year-old economy sedan.  And if you think that makes him cheap, ask him if he cares.  (He doesn’t.)
Mike is known as the resident cheapskate at work... He doesn't care one lick. I think he takes pride in that fact actually. And as to the other part of this, Mike is constantly mocked about his Prius... Actually it is pretty funny that he drives one... It definitely isn't a chick magnet thats for sure. But he doesn't care one lick. We have a stupid cheap payment on the lease and it costs us about $100 a MONTH in gas. It's not a chick magnet or his dream old man Avalon... But it allows us to save money. And that's whats important to him. {And me}     
4. He pays off his credit cards in full every month.  He’s smart enough to understand that if he can’t afford to pay cash for something, then he can’t afford it. I've said this before, I don't care if it's a dollar... If we can't pay cash for it, we can't afford it. We don't buy ANYTHING on credit, Anticipating that we will get a paycheck and then be able to pay it off two weeks later. If the cash isn't in the Bank and our 6 month emergency fund will still be in tact after we buy it... It doesn't get bought. Period. Credit cards are so easy to get sucked into and so hard to get out of. Just get rid of them. OR lower your max limit. It's easier to pay off a $500 limit than it is a $5000 limit. And trust me, It's easy to rack that up.
5. He realized early on that money does not buy happiness.  If you’re looking for nirvana, you need to focus on attaining financial freedom. We have been lucky to learn this early. During our financial ruin years, we were just as happy and in love and grateful as we were during our prosperous years. 
6. He never forgets that financial freedom is a state of mind that comes from being debt free.  Best of all, it can be attained regardless of your income level. True Dat!
7. He knows that getting a second job not only increases the size of your bank account quicker but it also keeps you busy – and being busy makes it difficult to spend what you already have. Mike doesn't have a second job, Nor does he have time for one, But I will probably find something part time when all the kiddos are in school all day.   
8. He understands that money is like a toddler; it is incapable of managing itself.  After all, you can’t expect your money to grow and mature as it should without some form of credible money management. It's true, Nobody is going to make you wealthy but you. You have to do the research, and you have to do your homework.
9. He’s a big believer in paying yourself first. Paying yourself first is an essential tenet of personal finance and a great way to build your savings and instill financial discipline. Automatic savings and retirement was the best thing we have ever done for ourselves.
10. Although it’s possible to get rich if you spend your life making a living doing something you don’t enjoy, he wonders why you do.  Life is too short. I think it's awesome that Mike likes what he does and doesn't mind being at work... It's so funny to hear his stories about negotiating. It really is an art. And he is like the Michelangelo of it.
11.  He knows that failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.  He also knows that the few millionaires that reached that milestone without a plan got there only because of dumb luck.   It’s not enough to simply declare that you want to be financially free. You gotta have a plan. Write it down!
12. When it came time to set his savings goals, he wasn’t afraid to think big.  Financial success demands that you have a vision that is significantly larger than you can currently deliver upon. Mike laughs at me because I am a BIG dreamer... My motto is "if your dreams aren't big enough to scare you, They aren't big enough." And hey, If you reach for the moon you're bound to hit at least the stars right?
13. Over time, he found out that hard work can often help make up for a lot of financial mistakes – and you will make financial mistakes. Oh gosh, We've made LOTS of these... And still do. But we learn from them and don't get discouraged and give up.
14. He realizes that stuff happens, that’s why you’re a fool if you don’t insure yourself against risk. Remember that the potential for bankruptcy is always just around the corner and can be triggered from multiple sources: the death of the family’s key bread winner, divorce, or disability that leads to a loss of work. You HAVE to make this a priority. It's never convenient to pay for it, and there is never an excess of money to do so... If you have kids it is especially important. They depend on you to make good decisions on their behalf. And that includes being prepared for disaster or loss. 
15. He understands that time is an ally of the young.  He was fortunate enough to begin saving in his twenties so he could take maximum advantage of the power of compounding interest on his nest egg.
Even if you don't have a lot to put towards it, you'll be surprised at the difference starting an account even just one year earlier can make. 
16. He knows that you can’t spend what you don’t see.  You should use automatic paycheck deductions to build up your retirement and other savings accounts.  As your salary increases you can painlessly increase the size of those deductions. THIS IS THE BEST THING WE HAVE EVER DONE FINANCIALLY. If you don't do anything else, do this.
17. Even though he has a job that he loves, he doesn’t have to work anymore because everything he owns is paid for – and has been for years. The plan is a 15 year mortgage, paid off cars and enough money to go on missions by the time the kids are out of the house... I'll be 43. It's not going to be easy, and we will ceartainly have to go without a lot of "wants" But we've decided that that's what we really want.
18. He’s not impressed that you drive an over-priced luxury car and live in a McMansion that’s two sizes too big for your family of four.

Did you know....
  • Most millionaires live in homes valued at $300,000 (or lower)
  • More millionaires drive Toyotas than BMWs and Mercedes 
-Dr Thomas J Stanley.{stop acting rich}

19. After six months of asking, he finally quit waiting for you to return his pruning shears.  He broke down and bought himself a new pair last month.  There’s no hard feelings though; he can afford it.

So that’s it.  Now you know what your millionaire neighbor won’t tell you.
Oh, and, um, would you be so kind to keep this just between you and me?  I’d hate to ruffle anyone’s feathers or cause of any kind of neighborly spat.
Thanks.  You’re a peach.

Most of this is common sense, But the hard part is having the discipline to actually enforce these principles.... Any how, This stuff fascinates me, Sorry if I have bored your with this financial mumbo jumbo... But let's be honest, You really should be concerned with your financial state... It's not going to fix itself, and it's not going to stay on track by itself... Whichever boat you're in... I think we have one foot in each boat... But we're working on it. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer break has taught me a few things. First, that I am a creature of habit, structure, routine, scheduel, planning whatever you want to call it. And we have none of that right now. And I am not one of those people who can stay home. I'd go nuts. People ask me how I take all 4 of the kids out and about by myself... Really, it's easier for me to keep them going than it is to have them bored at the house... They destroy everything. Not in a "they are bad kids way" Just in a "I'm bored and my mom is crazy to think that a 30 min. movie would be more fun than toilet papering the upstairs loft" kinda way. Yeah. No joke, that happened. I mean, Can I please just shower for 10 minutes without ramifications? Please? So, We are still trying to find our scheduel. And in all honesty, I don't think we're going to find one. We go to the gym every morning, and then the younger 2 have to have naps, while they do that, I clean up, and do laundry, while Blake and Lala work on some preschool packets, and then we work on sight word flashcards. {Blake is doing really well with those.} I've been trying to do some crafts for the kids as well as swimming/splash park. But still finding time to do the things that I like to do. I think I'm learning a hard lesson right now... I'm {Still} trying to find the balance between keeping the house clean and organized, and spending quality time with them, and still doing things that I like to do. It's a bit easier to include the older two in things like cooking or sewing projects, but it's still hard to just let the dishes and laundry pile up, and hold a sleeping baby, or cuddle up on the couch with them. I'm learning. But I also feel the need to hurry up and learn to leave the laundry before these sweet babies are gone and off to school. I don't know, I suppose we all feel guilty at one time or another. And I guess I'm not feeling too guilty as much as I'm wishing they were all a bit bigger so we could go places and do more things together. Life is really good and I suppose I'm just needing to learn how to enjoy it and savor each day.

A quick update on our last week.
Made some cute dresses for the girls. How did I not manage to sneak a picture of them on sunday? UGH! And some cute coordinating bow ties for the boys. Which in the process, I learned that Mike isn't a fan of bow ties...
Made some very cute PJ's for Kynzi. Knit fabrics don't scare me one bit any more. I'm pretty proficient with them these days.
I'm wishing that it was October 20th already. That's our new closing date. or somewhere close to that.
The house is coming along... at turtle pace it feels like, but it's moving along.
I'm lusting after a new sewing machine... That I can't buy until October, or later... And then I'll have a house to fill with furniture, so that may be on the back burner for a bit longer... Sorry mom. I hope you don't need your machine back anytime soon.
I have a million plans for decorating the new house, and can't buy any furniture yet! Mostly because I have no where to put it. UGHHHHH. Majorly frustrating.
That about covers it.