Thursday, May 17, 2012
Though most family's don't want to admit it or "stick with it"...a budget is an effective tool in understanding what "comes in" and "goes out" of your home each month. Used correctly, budgets can help you make critical decisions that effect how your home functions, save for the future or make "want" and "need" decisions with ease.
Each New Year's Day (I know...as exciting as it can be!) Drew and I have a yearly financial budget meeting to discuss the goals and reallocation for the year's finances. This meeting helps us get on board and have a consensus of what will get accomplished each year (new purchases, home improvements, family vacations, etc). Though I complete the monthly budgeting and bills for our household, it is critical that we are on the same page for the welfare of our family. For example, our budget would never work if I had only planned a camping trip for our family vacation in the Puget Sound and Drew was insisting we should spend three weeks in Italy and it wasn't in our budget.
Being on the same page is vital. We have been married 14 years next week and have always had a set consensus of a dollar amount we could spend without the person knowing about it. For example, right now the dollar amount is $25, so if I want to spend $100 on new shoes I would have to consult with Drew to make sure we both felt it was a worthy purchase and that it fits into our budget. This has helped us avoid those awkward situations when one is worried about paying the car payment and the other person just spent $65 on a random rafting trip. But mostly, this helps us be accountable to our budget. Did I allocate monies for new shoes this year? Are the ones I have really worn out? Can I find a bargain price somewhere? Honestly this system has helped us not to make any impulse decisions and kept a lot of piece in the marriage. Depending on our income level this dollar amount has varied over the years, at one point it was as low as $10 and as high as $75.
Entering a new season for our family this decision has made us readjust our budget mid-year. Reducing my rate of pay and hours has caused us to re-evaluate our lifestyle. Many of the luxuries of me working full-time needed to be cut. Though we have a tight budget there were places we knew we needed to cut immediately to make our budget balance. Though some of these were easy...others were harder. Gaining more time with my family and personal time in my gardens were a huge factor in making any cuts seem logical and worth it. But nonetheless, these cuts are changes in which our family has to uphold in our budget and personally deal with.
Changes that immediately occurred included:
- Pull Fiona for the Afterschool program M/W. Savings = $77.50/month
- Cut Personal Training Sessions. Savings = $25/month
- Stop prepped meals with Dream Dinners. Savings = $100/month
- Change Keegan's Kindergarten status from full-time to alternating. Savings = $270/month
- Stop Cleaning Services. Savings = $75/month
- Discontinue/Minimize Babysitting during work hours. Savings = $500
In the next couple of months we will be re-evaluating our budget to ensure we are on track and able to sustain our new budget. If not, we definitely will go back into negotiations and have to "trim the fat" elsewhere. Developing a budget and sticking to it is one of the greatest tools you have in maintaining financial peace in your household.
From inside the little blue bungalow,
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Saturday, May 12, 2012
To say my life is "interesting" is a relative term, but I'll let you be the judge. Different, possibly, but certainly my own. Of course, it is my life so I find lots of enjoyment from it by being surrounded by my family and friends, growing and preserving our own food, having chickens and living a life with God as the center. Last Friday night was no exception to my so called "interesting" life. As most eagerly got off work to enjoy an evening out on the town, put their feed up and watch a movie, etc...I was busy grabbing a empty box from work, map questing an address, and texting my husband these few words... "Please get Keegan. I will b out rescuing a chicken. Seriously...I will explain more when I get home."
Thankfully, my husband is a gracious man and doesn't say too much about my...ahem..."interesting" life. So after finishing my text, I was in the car onto my next adventure...rescuing a chicken. I know, most of you are shaking your heads...but hey, it is my life...you just have the privilege of knowing me. (Well, I hope so!)
My Friday started out like any other one. Get up, drink tea, let the chickens out, get the kids ready for school, carpool, drop the kids off and head into work. Two hours into work I had a conversation with one of our members that changed the course of my Friday evening. She unfolded a story of a neighbor's lone chicken, abandoned and being sought out by the local coyote. As I listened intently, she suddenly asked would I come out and rescue the chicken. Huh? What is that you say...rescue the said chicken?
Suddenly I had questions, what kind of chicken was it? Was it a rooster? Was it injured? How old was it? Do you have permission to save the said chicken?
And just like that...with the exchange of phone numbers and address my Friday evening had been sealed. At 4 pm when I left work, I was meeting the Y member to rescue the chicken. (I know..."interesting".)
As I pulled up their driveway in the rain no less, I had no idea what to expect. I opened my trunk for inspiration...for tools. Well...I did have the box from work and...YES, my husband had left his pull over boots in the trunk from the Earth Day project a couple weeks ago. After slipping
I was relieved to find she appeared in good health, sitting on a couple of eggs. However, I was more relieved to see her in a somewhat contained area. This rescue was going to be a cake walk or...so I thought.
Joyce had enlisted the help of her husband as well so I was happy that this job of rescue would be over soon...I mean of course, it would! Three adults and 1 random chicken...easy, done, finished. However, as I bent down to pick her up...crazy chicken evoked! Even though Joyce was standing in front of the opening where the door had been...she was gone. Fantastic! Now we had the joy of catching a chicken in an open pasture and of course in the rain no less. Yeap. My Friday evening had turned from interesting to "Oh, my goodness...this is going to be FUN!"
There is no book on how to chase a chicken, especially one that is not extremely accustomed to humans or one that has had practice out running coyotes for the past couple of weeks. As I jogged behind the ever increasing chicken, thoughts raced in my mind. What in the world I'm I doing? How in the world was I going to catch this chicken? In the past, my children have been my source of help when I couldn't catch a chicken. Keegan is especially helpful and has no fear when it comes to catching chickens. However, I was in an open field, in the rain with three adults running after a chicken. Entertaining I'm sure...even the neighbor came and sat on his porch and watched all of the commotion for awhile. Seriously? Thank God he didn't video tape it...I didn't want to see my Friday adventure youtubed for the whole world to see. I mean, blogging about my adventure was going to be good enough. I am glad we provided some entertainment for the neighbor, but honestly.
Think Katie Jean. What was my strategy? Ok, I had it we have to somewhat contain it again...convince her to go back to her old coop. Convince a chicken? Are you crazy? And that is just what we did...after about 30 minutes of running, chicken cackling, and utter frustration. She was back in her coop...of course without a door!
Laying near the entrance was the door and in utter desperation I looked at Joyce and said "Hold this door up! I'm going in...whatever you do don't let go of the door until I've got a chicken in my hands!" And after a few more minutes that is what I did...without fear I grabbed the very unhappy chicken and stuffed her into my box from work. Success.
With grins and hand shakes we congratulated one another as we had cornered and successfully caught the chicken. Now I only had to get her home and introduce her to my existing flock. Worried that I would have a rogue chicken flopping around my car, we quickly thought to duck tape the box down. How in the world was I going to explain this one to the cop when I got pulled over...yes, duct tape was a good option.
Driving home my phone beeped. Oh, a text message from Drew..."R u ok? Been home 4 awhile." Ah...yes...now to describe this adventure to my wonderful husband and better yet present my box of new fun...the rouge chicken. I couldn't think of any other way to tell my husband about my new friend in the car so when I walked in the door but said something like, "I have a surprise for you!". Yes, definitely a surprise. He is such a gracious man.
It has been a week now since my Friday adventure and it has been tough introducing the new girl to the flock. I'd love to say it was just a wonderful thing, but they were not thrilled. No, not at all and there has been much chicken drama at the Little Blue Bungalow. I have found most of my week herding chickens...existing flock out of the coop...new chicken in...new chicken out of the coop...existing flock in the coop. I'm sure you get the picture.
It will get better once everyone knows there place on the pecking order...it just takes time. Yea, we've got some chicken drama going on...similar to a fight scene from West Side Story. I'm just waiting for the story book ending, but hey...at least it is interesting.
From inside the little blue bungalow,
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Change is hard, but is necessary at times. I recently made one of the toughest choices I've had to make...resulting in change. Though some people embrace it, while others run; I guess I fall somewhere in the middle.
I had been restless for a long while now. I tried this and that, (more time in the garden, more prayer, more activities with the family) but nothing seemed to make sense and put my heart at ease. I prayed. And prayed some more and when I finally stopped and listened I realized I needed to make a change for myself and my family.
Though my path is laid now, I am learning to embrace the change. To let go and trust God. Stepping down at work and making my family priority didn't always make sense to me, but is clear now. I'm reminded by God simply that He has big plans for me and my family. I am elated that I still have a role as a Marketing lead but reduced to 10 manageable hours per week. This change will allow me to still make an impact on our community, but also be there for my family.
Though I am excited for this new opportunity, on the other hand, fear sometimes overtakes my joy. Most of these times, it is societal views of 'keeping up with the Jones' that overtake me...that small voice, saying "Really...Financially will you have enough?". But, I remind myself that I've never been about the fancy car or being the best dressed. Nope, my lifestyle falls more into the..."wow, I just made my own dress out of a feed sack and canned 20 jars of pickles". Nevertheless, one has to be comfortable with a decision such as this and I'm excited to blog about my frugal and "radical homemaker" ways knowing wealth comes from not necessarily having dollars but true fulfillment.
Though I don't officially leave my full-time role for a couple weeks, I am at peace. I am comforted by friends prayers and good wishes and know that God will make my path straight. A good friend recently shared a comment from her grandpa via text that I feel sums up my journey with making this choice that I leave you with...
I was praying for you today and something my grandpa always told me came to mind. It's simple but always impacted me. He said the easy choices we make have no sacrifice are usually not of God. Its the choices that cause us to lose sleep, cry and wonder - they are the ones of God. Its then we are putting it all in HIS hands.
Her grandpa is wise indeed.
From inside the little blue bungalow,