7/24/17

Spending and Saving + Girls' Clothes

I'm having a no spend July and all my blogging this month will be about managing the financial side of home life. I'm sharing what I'm learning and ideas about saving, spending wisely, and generally being responsible with our resources.

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Girls' clothes are my weakness. If I have a tendency to impulse buy or make an emotional purchase, it's usually with little girl's clothes or my clothes.

Lately, I have found the best defense against overspending with little girl's clothes is to buy what I  love to begin with and be selective with hand-me-downs. To love what we have and have what we love.

Because you are only a mom to little girls once and childhood goes so fast, I think it's important to
LOVE your little girl's wardrobe. If I only had boys, I would be more into what they wear. But since my boys are destroyers of all things nice, I choose to spend more time, effort, and money on dressing the girls.

I enjoy dressing Laurie and Caroline in pretty and playful prints and understated pieces. I like mostly simple, classic children's clothes, not ladies clothes shrunk down to children's size.

Even if it means spending a little more, I think it's so important to LOVE what your girls wear. Even pj's. Especially pj's.

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One way I'm finding to save money is to take a really good inventory. Every few months I have been going through my girls' things and evaluating what we already have. We have tons of hand-me-downs from cousins and friends and sometimes it all piles up and we just have SO MUCH that I get overwhelmed.

When I sort it out and decide what to keep I play this little game where I shop my own stuff. I'm very selective in what I keep. I ask myself "What would I pay for again if I was building my daughters' wardrobes from scratch?"

Another trick is to cull enough to "pack" for an imaginary 3 week vacation in your climate.

I find that these games help me make decisions. After a big inventory, I will make a list of needed items and then I try to buy exactly what I want so that it is a satisfying purchase.

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One last idea...

One day I was scrolling Instagram and I spotted a little girl wearing a summery dress that my daughter owns. This little girl also had on leggings and a sweater with that dress. It was styled so cute.

I don't know why this was such a revelation to me, but I realized I could definitely do more layering during the fall and winter instead of putting away summer dresses and replacing them with all long sleeved items.

Especially since where I live we have mild falls and winters. I think we will try hanging on to all the summer items as long as they last and still fit.

Laurie was a sweet little model for me for this post. Watch how she takes the same dress from summer to fall to winter.

summer...



fall...
 

winter....

See how that works! So fun reinventing the same dress. It's like getting a little shopper's high without shopping.
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So what are your thoughts on spending and girls clothes?

P.S. I appreciate all your comments on the previous posts in this series! Thanks for reading.  

7/12/17

Classic, Low-Cost Way to Dress Little Boys

I'm having a no spend July and all my blogging this month will be about managing the financial side of home life. I'm sharing what I'm learning and ideas about saving, spending wisely, and generally being responsible with our resources.
......

Today, I'm talking/typing about boys' clothing. My boys are wonderfully hard on their clothes. They frequently have holes and rips from climbing trees or grease stains from messing around with boats and vehicles with my husband. 

I think their destructiveness on their wardrobe started around age 4 for each of them.

I remember sending Stephen to preschool in the cutest Honey Bee Tee, feeling like such a proud mama, dressing him so cute! He didn't wear his shirt two times before he took a pair of scissors and cut a huge hole in it.

It's pretty much been down hill from there.

So here is the most practical and economical way I've found to dress my boys during the summer months.

100% cotton, solid color tee from Walmart 
shorts from Old Navy (toddler and big boy)


I buy solid tee's on sale from Old Navy and Gap, too, but the Walmart Fruit of the Loom ones are less than $3! And they have great colors. I'm a total stickler for 100% cotton, and I always check that before buying. Sometimes the manufacturers change on you and sneak a little polyester in there. Beware.

They have other random t-shirts from school or wherever, but if I'm buying I stick to this solid, boy-friendly uniform.

For shoes, we are loving Natives. They are a sneaker and a water shoe all in one, and they have held up really well.
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In addition to being low-cost, I really like the way the solid t-shirt and shorts combo looks.
I love understated, simple clothes on children. No obnoxious sayings please!

I do think sewing something cool like their age or a robot would be so cute, and a fun way to personalize the shirt. Inspiration from Margo. Maybe I'll get around to that.

My boys really don't have an opinion (yet) about what they wear, so let's hope we can hold off on the sports wear as long as possible. I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

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Do you have outfit formulas for your kids? Boys or girls?
How do you manage the costs of children's clothes?

7/11/17

Grocery Budget

It's no spend July, and I'm working on all things money related this month. In much the same way a person tries to reset their eating habits by doing Whole 30, I'm doing a financial "diet" to reset some of my spending and saving habits. I'm not buying anything except the necessities aka groceries...and maybe a dinner out with adults because #sanity.

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Taking a look back through the year, this is how much we have spent on groceries each month in  2017.

January $741.10

February $774.43

March $667.60

April $954.67

May $1,160

June $919.83

Average =  $869.61

These numbers include household items, alcohol, and the occasional takeout meal.

To my surprise, we are way within an appropriate range for a family of 6.

According to the USDA recommendations (calculated in this blog post), $750/month is considered the thrifty plan and $1454/month is the liberal plan for a family of 6 with young children.

.......

Since it's no spend month, I set grocery budget goal for $600. We were out of town the first week in July and ate at my parents house. I have lots of food in the freezer. I'm cutting back on wine (more on that later). I think we can do it. I think $600 is a reasonable number and the challenge gives me a little thrill.


Even though we are steadily within range of recommended spending I know I could improve my numbers in future months with more careful planning and less impulse buying at Costco....and less wine.

So, what do you think about the USDA guidelines? What are the holes in your grocery spending, where you overspend or just plain blow it? Or, are you happy with how much you spend on food?

7/6/17

No Spend July

Normal is broke. Be weird.
                           - Dave Ramsey

This summer, life has slowed down enough for me to concentrate on some lost priorities - frugality and good stewardship at the top of the list.

Since Caroline was born almost two years ago, I have been on a frugality sabbatical of sorts. We still budgeted and saved, but the priority was to make the house run smoothly and with minimal unnecessary stress.

If I needed something, I bought it/ ordered it. I stopped keeping close tabs on our grocery budget. I didn't worry much with how much we spent on birthdays or Christmas. We just lived and spent, not crazily, but loosely enough that I think it's time to dial it back and re-master some good ol' money habits - pay yourself first, save, live below your means, budget, use what you have, give generously!

The next era is on the horizon, and I'm feeling the need to flex my frugality muscles.

We have four kids to put through private school - and college! Then there's their looming orthodontic needs, cars, insurance, cell phones, etc. Also, we want to pay cash for some home renovations, replace cars, and really get the ball rolling with retirement. Our financial future is going to require planning and discipline if we want to reach our goal!

The ultimate goal is PEACE and not a dollar amount.

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To challenge myself as the primary shopper and spender for the family, I'm making July a no spend month. I've always wanted to do one of these!

The purpose is two fold. Of course I want to save some money and relearn some old frugality skills. But even more so I would like to untangle my heart from the love of money and stuff.

Even though I'm constantly decluttering and getting rid of stuff, I'm still compelled to buy new and nicer stuff even if I don't need it. And even if I'm not buying it, I'm sure spending a lot of time gushing over it online.
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So, I thought it would be fun to share what I learn this month on SWM and keep all my posts money themed. I want to share the process of gaining a more frugal mindset. Also, the public accountability will help me stay on track!

I don't have any super specific rules except - don't buy anything. And anything includes entertainment. Of course, we will buy food. And if something vital like our coffee pot breaks, we will replace it.

Also, I have a hair appointment that I'm going to keep, some credit at Gap, and some gift cards to a couple of restaurants. Stephen and I might have night out because it's summer and I'm with kids 24/7.

I'm allowing for a little fun so we wont snap. My intent is not to be miserly, but to be calculated.

Thoughts? Questions? Have you ever done a no spend month?

I would love for this to be an interactive series, so please jump in and share!

6/29/17

Turkey Wraps

Sometimes we need a little reminder about the goodness of simple foods. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. I think we get bombarded with recipes and food knowledge and the formula for the perfect green smoothie with 10 different vegetables in it that we forget that it is OKAY to make a quesadilla and a lovely side salad and a call it a day.

Oh yeah....tacos, bagels with cream cheese, a great bowl of berries cut up, corn on the cob.

Better to stick with the basics - to plan, shop, and cook at home with old favorites than to subscribe to a gluten free, Paleo, no carb meal plan that so easily becomes too much work.

I know I forget about the basics all the time. I feel pressure to discover new and exciting recipes and to eat healthier. I'm tempted, though rarely, by almond flour. I have to talk myself down, back to the kitchen where it is not a sin to make cornbread.

....unless you have a legitimate medical reason.
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The other day I re-discovered an old favorite. Oh yeah I remember - turkey wraps!

We have been eating these for lunch this week, and I think they would make a really great summer dinner - with a side of chips and some cut up fruit.



1 flour tortilla, heated so it rolls up easily
a nice scoop of cream cheese, spread all over the tortilla
turkey
loads of lettuce cut up thinly

Roll and enjoy.

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What about you? Do you complicate your meal planning by being too ambitious about special diets? 

6/27/17

Dealing With Sentimental Baby Items

Dear Readers,

I do not mean to be away so long. But this girl....

She keeps me so busy. She's wild.






You can probably tell how sassy she is from this picture. Pulling the cat's tail, brushing her teeth in the toilet, opening the front door and sprinting towards the street are just a 'few' of her shenanigans.

The good things going for her are that she's happy and she's a great sleeper. But still, all her waking hours are hands on, me keeping her from harming herself or others.

We all adore her to pieces, and she becomes more and more endearing as her personality is really starting to shine.

Everyday, she's losing some of her baby-ness. It makes me weep. To be a mother is to grieve.

A couple of weeks ago, I did the hard work of sorting and passing on some of our baby things, mostly clothes and blankets, boy and girl stuff. I could not keep it ALL. For one, I don't have the space. But also, what a waste to keep so many great baby items that someone else could use! The world could end before my future grandchildren arrive, and I believe in using and enjoying stuff.

I passed on the majority of the boy things to my sister's baby, Charlie. Just yesterday he wore one of George's old outfits. It brought me so much joy to see my nephew wearing his cousin's hand-me-down. See what I mean....why would I save it?!

I get it if someone wants to save stuff for future babies. And I did...as long as we had the desire to grow our family.  

But the way I we see it...I've had my babies. We are content with our two beautiful boys and two gorgeous girls.



If everything is special, then nothing is special. 

I first heard about the gist of this concept from Joshua Becker. It's the idea that if everything is so sentimental and special, then nothing is. How much better to have a small, meaningful collection of special items rather than boxes and boxes.


So I chose my favorite baby things to keep, a small representation of all four that I could pass down to them should they want it for their own children. There are so many emotions folded up in one Rubbermaid box. I miss those babies!

5/31/17

Summer Routine

It's summer and I'm taking the bull by the horns. We have a serious routine mapped out. I'm not even going to pretend that I'm laid back about it. It is my survival. My life.

It starts out strict and gets looser as the day goes on.

It goes like this.

wake up/ listen to music/ eat breakfast
get dressed
older kids do their school review work - Yes, we are doing some learning during the summer.
reading/ memory work
play/ run an errand/ go to pool or park
lunch
1:00 - rest time/ baby sleeps/ older kids read or play quietly and alone
2:00 - TV/ snack
3:00  play FREE TIME until dinner

This may fail, but so far it's really good. This routine gives me a quiet house for about an hour each day, something that did not work with the school schedule and left me feeling really burned out.

Also, quiet rest time was a challenge to get started, but now everybody knows what to expect.

If anybody asks me to watch TV before the hour of 2pm, my answer is this.


I'm thinking of incorporating some chores when we get more established.

Also, we have VBS and we will go out of town some. But on a regular day we have a plan!

Does your family have a summer routine?
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