Where's Margie's Money?


Gloomy Friday

The weather outside today is super gloomy.  I’ve heard the rest of the country is really warm but for some reason Southern California has not gotten the message.  So much rain lately!  And, apparently, there’s more on the way this weekend.  Boo.

So it’s been over a week since my last post.  Since when did life start moving at such lightening speed?  I guess ever since I became a mom.  My daughter started crawling a week ago (last Friday) and she’s pulling herself up to a stand.  It’s super cute to watch her grin at me after she successfully stood up.  She’s such a joy!  I love being a mom.

So, the update on my monthly budget is that I need to another paycheck! I shake my fist in the general direction of Target . . . and in the general direction of my grocery store.  I need to figure out what I can do next month to reduce those expenses.  I have a few ideas . . . stop going in!

I had a few successful moments when I was urged to splurge on spring clothes for my little one . . . but then my parents and sister came to the rescue. On Wednesday the folks brought over a big bag of clothes they had picked up for her on sale at the Navy Exchange.  This week my sis sent an Easter outfit in the mail for her.  Lucky girl now has a ton of cute outfits and my urge to drop $25 on a romper at Baby Gap (and that’s the SALE price) is gone. 

Last week I met with a financial advisor and she helped me sort out some questions I had.  We are opening a college savings account for the little one – even though it’s just a small monthly contribution right now, it’s better than nothing!  The way that tuition is going up and up – even at public universities – I doubt we’ll ever be able to provide a full ride, but if I can help reduce the burden of loans in any way it will be worth it!

I have so much I want to accomplish this weekend: cleaning/organizing, baking, exercise . . .

Happy weekend, all!


Weekly Money Check-Up and Meal Plan Monday

My weekly money check-up is brought to you by My Pretty Pennies!

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on chiropractic treatment.

2. Today I am thankful for being a “glass is half full” type of person.  Maybe I am sometimes “too nice”,  “too trusting” and “too positive” but I belive that my optimism and faith in people and the world at large and served me really well.  In fact, I’m going to venture to say that it takes a certain inner strength to be a positive person even in the midst of challenging and difficult times – but my ability to see a glimmer of light in the darkness and home in on it has served me well on countless occasions.

 3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy video chat with my dad and step-mom last night.  I was able to show them how my little miss is JUST on the verge of crawling! 

4. I will consider this week a success if I do not spend any money today through Friday.  There is definitely a lot more month at the end of my paycheck than the other way around.  I need to focus.

 

 

5. My favorite spring flower is the tulip – they are just so cheerful!

Now, on to my Meal Plan for the week:

Monday: Taco Lasagna – sub out ground beef for tofu crumbles (new recipe)

Tuesday: Spaghetti

Wednesday: Left-over buffet

Thursday: Guacamole Grilled Cheese (new recipe)

Friday: Take-Out

It feels good to have a plan!


Friday Most and Least

I am so ready for the weekend! This afternoon I’ll be leaving work a little early as my little ladybug has her 6-month “wellness” check-up at 3 p.m. Technically she’ll be 7 months on Sunday (my goodness!!!!) but two weeks ago when she was due for her vaccinations she was fighting a cold so I decided to wait on the shots. I’m so curious to know how long she is these days!  My guess will be 17 lbs and 29 inches (she’s takes after her mama when it comes to height . . . I’m 6 foot!).

TeacHer Finance has started doing a fun survey called “Thursday Most and Least.”  I figured I’d try it out this week and see about making it a regular thing I do on Fridays! Here we go:

Friday March. 2 – Thursday, March 8
Most Expensive Purchase: $505 for an iPad for my husband’s 40th birthday. My dad is retired military so he was able to buy it for me last month on base which meant no taxes!  He also bought a screen protector. I gave Dad a check three weeks ago to cover the price but he forgot to cash it (ugh, Dad!!) until I reminded him at the beginning of the month. Before anyone gives me a hard time about purchasing such an expensive gift, I’d just like to toot my own horn by saying that I planned and saved a little each month since last September to be able to buy this for him and it was so worth it – he loves it!  
Least Expensive Purchase: $2.45 for an iced coffee for the husband and I to share last Saturday whilst shopping in Target.
Most Exciting Purchase: My “Mom’s Day Out” spa indulgence, $149.50 (including tip)
Least Exciting Purchase: a trip to the grocery store, $93.57
Most Fun Purchase: $13 on lettuce, carrots, tangerines and a bouquet of flowers at the Farmer’s Market – I love using my lunch break on Wednesdays to walk to the market!  Especially when the weather is beautiful!  The carrots will be pureed into baby food, the tangerines are snacks for work, and the lettuce is for dinner tonight (falafal in pita!).
Least Fun Purchase: $3.23 at McDonald’s – I hate eating there but I was desperate for food and would have eaten anything at that point.
 
My weekend goals:
 
  • Clean kitchen and mop floors
  • Dust living room
  • Rearrange our bedroom to accommodate the little one’s crib mattress on the floor (long story but basically she has been co-sleeping with us since birth and I’d like to transition her into her own bed but she won’t allow me to put her down in her crib in her own room. So we’re going to start with the crib mattress on the floor by my side of the bed as baby step #1 to getting a little independence at bedtime. . . I hope it works, I love sleeping with her but she’s starting to hog the bed and I need sleep!!)
  • Vacuum car and wipe down dashboard (I’ll be driving my boss on Thursday)
  • Make baby food (carrots and peas!)
  • Meal Plan and Prep two meals for the week
  • Grocery Shop
  • Enjoy time with friends and the husband
  • Get a little rest and relaxation in!

Happy weekend!!

 


Frugal mom tip #1: Make your own baby food

Around the time my little darling turned 6 months old she started becoming extremely interested in the food on my plate. So, I decided it was time to start introducing solids. I knew that I really wanted to make my own food, but as a busy mom who works full-time outside of the home, I didn’t want to spend copious amounts of time in the kitchen. Luckily, I decided it was at least worth a try and I’m so glad I did!  As it turns out making baby food is super easy and amazingly inexpensive!

I bought these trays that basically look like ice cube trays with a sliding lid:

OXO Tot Baby Food Freezer Tray, White/Green

$4.99

Then I bought a butter nut squash and a bunch of carrots (the carrots only cost $1 at my farmer’s market!).  I peeled and diced the veggies and put them on the stove to steam. 

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Then, I pureed the veggies in my food processor:

 

 And the last step was putting the puree into the trays!

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 So easy! I got 24 “cubes” of squash and 8 “cubes” of carrots. Each cube is 1 oz and right now she is eating about 2 oz of veggies at dinner. I estimate that I spent $4 total on the produce which equates to only 25 cents a meal! Jars of organic baby food are priced at 70 cents at my local grocery store. The savings is in the pennies but it all adds up! Plus I have the piece of mind of knowing that my little one’s food is fresh and locally grown without any additives or perservatives.

She loves squash and carrots!

If you are a mom, do you make your own baby food? What was your baby’s favorite fruit or vegetable?


Weekly Money Check-Up

Brought to you by, MPP.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a birthday gift for the hubs (given to him in February. My parents bought it and they finally cashed the check I gave them).

2. Today I am thankful for a really wonderful boss who understands the challenges of being a working mom.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was take my sugar plum on a walk.  She got in her morning nap and I got in a little exercise!  Win-win!

4. I will consider this week a success if finish out the work week without spending any money except at the Farmer’s Market and on gas.

5. I consider myself a really positive person.  I try to find the good in every thing and every one.  When I’m frustrated with something, I try to think about how I can change my thinking to make something work.  I find it’s easier to “catch flies with honey rather than vinegar” and I believe in diplomacy and kindness.


Mom’s Day Off

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(photo credit)

I’ve made myself a promise that I will take the first Friday of every other month off to have a “Mom’s Day Off.”  This is what I like to call a “mental health day” – a day when the hub’s is at work, the pumpkin is at daycare, and I get to do as I please!

Knowing that this day was on the horizon has helped me through many difficult nights and the last few challenging weeks.  I’m finding that with my responsibilities at my full-time job, my responsibilities at home, and my responsibilities to my little one, there just isn’t much left at the end of the day for me.  I’m okay with that because these are the choices I’ve made and I feel that my life is very blessed.  Yet, at the same time, I think it’s important to take care of me once in awhile.  In fact, I think all mom’s – whether they work in the home or at the office – need a day off once in awhile!  When I take care of my needs, I’m better able to take care of the other two important people in my life.🙂

With my 8 hours of freedom I plan to:

  • Go to the hair salon
  • Drop off/pick up dry cleaning
  • Go to Michael’s for supplies for the hydrangea wreath (there is a 50 percent off sale going on now for fake flowers).
  • Drop off a few items at Good Will
  • Get a massage – my neck and shoulders are KILLING me
  • Go to the grocery store
  • Go to the chiropractor (if they have an appointment available)
  • Do a load of laundry

If you are a mom, do you ever take a day off?  If so, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?


Hello March!

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(photo credit)

Dear March,

Please be prepared to have your Personal Finance booty kicked.

Love,

M.

Seriously, you guys, I’m so happy for March. Even though February is a shorter month, it felt like it kept dragging on and on – and that leap day didn’t help matters!

I’m excited because it’s payday. I only get paid once a month so this morning I made a payment to all of my debts: car, student loan and credit cards. I’m feeling really enthusiastic to be focusing again on my finances. I sent off $779.44 to my credit cards alone!! I stretched myself a bit to do it but it felt really awesome (and a little scary). This should definitely bring down my total debt in this category to below $5K. Yeah!

I decided to participate in My 1/2 Dozen Daily’s March Challenge which has three subcategories:

1. Finance:  My financial goals are to:

  • Track all of my spending.  Yes, Margie, this means each and every purchase!
  • Save $100 in our joint savings account/house fund.
  • Bring my lunch, snacks AND beverages to work every. day. 
  • Stay on budget. Put the Master Card that I’ve been using as a crutch (and paying off the following month) away and just suck it up.

2. Decluttering: In my efforts to minimize and organize I will:

  • Put away the Pac N Play and stop using it as my laundry basket.
  • Clean out and organize any place that I currently store knitting/crochet related goods.
  • List 10 books/items on Half.com, Ebay or Amazon.
  • Get rid of the boxes in the corner of the dining room and photograph the before/after evidence.

3. Personal: Some personal things I’ve been meaning to do are:

  • I’m stealing this idea from My Pretty Pennies: Attempt to make at least one of the cute crafts I have pinned on Pinterest and share my triumph here with a photo. (Right now I’m thinking that I’ll make this easy hydrangea wreath (Hydrangeas were my wedding flower!).)
  • Another Pinterest related one: Try at least one recipe that I’ve pinned on Pinterest and write a recipe review with a photo here. (I’m considering Chicken Enchilada Pasta (and a non-chicken version for the hubs) for Sunday dinner this week.)
  • Shop at the farmer’s market at least twice.
  • Take the baby out in the jogging stroller at least twice.
  • Clean out the trunk of my car.

To be honest, this is going to be a challenging month with these goals. Sometimes it’s all I can do not to collapse into bed once the baby is down.  But I’m determined!  I can do it! Yeah!


Weekly Money Check-Up

I’m a few days behind with this week’s money check-up, but better late than never, right?!

Brought to you by the lovely MPP:

WMC 2.27

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on groceries at Target.

2. Today I am thankful for the ability to communicate professionally and effectively. 

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was rock my baby to sleep in the dark while listening to the rain POUR DOWN outside.  It rarely rains in So Cal and something about that moment was so sweet and cozy.  I tucked the memory away to relish later.

4. I will consider this week a success if I make a March budget – I have done a monthly budget in at least 7 months!

5. The thing I am most excited about spring is daylight savings (have to agree with MPP) and warmer weather.  I can’t wait to hit the beach! This year instead of being uncomfortably pregnant I’ll get to enjoy watching my little one discover the joys of sand, sun (with protection of course!) and surf.


Doing it

Random photo of my shoes today.

I promised myself that I would make the time to blog again before the end of the week.  I find that I think a lot about topics to blog about but when it comes to actually doing it – I totally fail.  I guess it’s better to just sit down and write, especially if the alternative is not doing it at all!

So this has been an interesting week in the world of mommy-hood.  I’m leaving early from work today to take Pumpkin to the doctor.  She has a lingering cough that just won’t go away and I want to get the doc’s advice on a few issues.  First, should I be concerned that Pumpkin is 6.5 months old and not rolling over? (She seems determined to skip rolling/crawling entirely as she can now sit unsupported and can easily pull up to her knees . . . even tries to pull herself to a standing position).  Second, I know it’s normal to have stranger anxiety at this age, but there are people that she has interacted with on a daily basis for 2 months and she still cries.  What’s going on here, hmmm?

In other baby news, I’m contemplating whether or not I should try sleep training (again).  I tried for a few days when Pumpkin was just 4 months old but I gave in to her cries.  Two months later, she wakes frequently at night to nurse and it takes at least 40 minutes to rock her to sleep in the evenings.  I can’t decide if it’s better to continue with what we are doing (a combo of crib sleeping and co-sleeping – she comes to our bed after her first wake-up) or if getting her to sleep through the night in her own bed is worth the initial pain.  I’ve read so many sleep-related books and know by heart each side’s argument.  I almost have TOO much information – I feel so torn as to what to do.  I don’t really need/want advice (I’ve already received a TON of it) – I’m just putting it out there what I’m going through right now.  I’ll likely also discuss this with her doctor this afternoon.

Okay – what’s up with my money this week?  Well, I did pretty good although I did treat myself to coffee three times (once was a latte, other two times just a simple cup of jo).  I need to pull back on that next week and brew my own tea at my desk (hot water = free).

I am currently wishing that I owned/could buy a Kindle but, seriously, who am I kidding?  I don’t have time to read anymore (unless it’s one of those aforementioned baby books).

I’ve also spent a lot of time contemplating what it would be like to reduce my hours to part-time. . . 30-ish hours per week.  I’m not sure that’s viable right now, but by the time Pumpkin gets to Kindergarten that is definitely a goal.

Goals for this weekend:

  • Meal plan for the week and go grocery shopping
  • Clean kitchen and mop the floor
  • Organize one spot of the apartment (the corner of the dining room or the ottoman “storage” area in the living room or something in our bedroom).
  • Relax, relax and relax

Have a good one!

 


Weekly Money Check-up

It feels good to be doing a check-up after a long break!  Today’s post/photo brought to you by My Pretty Pennies:

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was $40.96 on gas. I feel like the price of gas suddenly went through the roof! Yesterday it was $4.20/gl at the station closest to my house!!

2. Today I am thankful for my brother and his super adorable girlfriend. They stayed with us this weekend. At first I was annoyed because he sprung the visit on us pretty last minute (brothers! ugh!) but in the end it all worked out and we had a great time as usual!  I totally adore his girl and I really hope they work out! She’s definitely the cream of the crop!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was eat lunch (packed from home) outside in the sun with my good friend/co-worker.  The weather was perfect!  We got a nice break from our desks, a little vitamin D and we kept it frugal!

4. I will consider this week a success if I blog two times before Friday.

5. The last thing I ate was an apple! Keeping my snacks healthy today!