Category Archives: Uncategorized

Saving and Homemaking 4/22

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Forsythia blooms

Spring has arrived where I live, and with it a renewed interest in tending to the outdoors and freshening up our home.

IMG_2193Planting

This week I planted some herbs in pots inside. I started with dill and basil.  We have a sunroom so hopefully I will have some very inexpensive herbs in the coming weeks.  I was inspired to try this because we have been planting seeds with the junior kindergarteners at school.

Saving

Our local grocery store has e-coupons, and every Friday they issue an e-coupon for a free item as well as some other loss leader deals requiring the e-coupon.  I have been too lazy to log in to their website since the school year started.  I tell myself I’m too busy or there’s not time for everything.  In truth it look about 4 minutes!  I think I will commit to checking their deals on Fridays… this week was a free box of Annie’s Mac and Cheese which is appreciated.

Watching

This week I watched ‘The Ultimate Guide to Penny Pinching” while I was on the treadmill.  This documentary was filmed in England, so it amused me to see the grocery scene in the UK.  If you are a fan of saving money at the supermarket, you might enjoy it.  My favorite couple interviewed were putting on a wedding with a very tight budget.

Cleaning

This week I worked in the sunroom, since I was already there staring into my pots waiting for my herbs to sprout.  I gave the houseplants a deep soaking outside, moved the couch to vacuum under it, got cobwebs out of the corners, and went through the always accumulating mail.

Reading

Every moment I get I am sneaking a few chapters of the excellent middle grade book “The War that Saved my Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  The topic is the children evacuated from London to the countryside at the beginning of WWII.  This Newbery Honor book is for anyone 4th gr and up.

Cooking

“Using up” is the theme for this weekend.  Finishing off ham in the freezer with ham and eggs after church.  The evening I am grilling some odds and ends from the freezer and making potato salad from scratch because I have celery, onion and mini red potatoes.  Our local food co-op had organic pastured beef on sale so I made up some taco meat for the freezer.  Tonight I will sit down and think up a meal plan for the week.

How was your week?  Any savings surprises or spring cleaning?

Nissan Giveth, Nissan Taketh Away

Last year I came back from dropping our daughter off at school, only to find Mr. Saver in the driveway holding a chunk of metal from the bottom of our car.  Not good… And a resulting repair that was over $1,000.  Fast forward to this winter, when we got a recall notice from Nissan. Yes, it was a recall for the problem we had experienced.  

  • Lesson One… Open mail and read!
  • Lesson Two… Get on the phone and find out what to do if you already fixed the recall 

Nissan said we still needed to go through the recall process and then we could request a refund for the repair. They would determine what could be reimbursed after we faxed all the work orders.

  • Lesson three… Have a place you can find your receipts.

We took care of everything and submitted the paperwork for a refund of the original repair.  Good news!  A check for about $1,000!

Do your kids ever read those “choose your own ending” books?  

You receive a $1,000 refund from Nissan.  

If you take the $1,000 and hit the mall–surprise money!–go to page 46.

If you take the money and book a spring break trip–you deserve it!– go to page 112.

If you take the money and put most of it back into your car repair budget line, go to page 130.

Guess what?  All the choices end in the same place!  Four weeks after receiving the check your car now needs a new muffler.  Are you left wondering whether you can still return that new purse, or are you grateful that you topped up the car repair budget?  We were grateful for the car repair budget, because Nissan Giveth and Nissan Taketh Away.  

Versatile Blogger Award – Thanks Vic!

wpid-versatile-blogger-awardThanks to Vic over at Dad is Cheap for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  If you are new to his blog I can tell you that I have been inspired by Vic’s commitment to his family.  He and his wife work as a partnership to do what is right for their family to thrive.

These are the copy/pasted rules for the Versatile Blogger Award-

1.  Acknowledge the person who nominated you by thanking them and posting a link to their blog.
2.  Share 10 interesting things about yourself.
3.  Nominate 10 more bloggers

Ten facts…

I have always been motivated to earn money.  As I kid I was always looking to mow the lawn or wash the car.  In high school as soon as I turned 16 I applied for a job at a dance apparel store at the mall.  This was in the glory days of leotards and leg warmers and shiny spandex tights!

I have never been to Great America, or any other theme park.

When we were Gazelle Intense about paying off our mortgage our daughter, then about 5 years old, thought that every balding man was Dave Ramsey.

I love throwing kid’s birthday parties.  I’m all about the theme party.

My husband makes the world’s best nachos.

I have a degree in English, but now my knowledge of children’s literature is far greater than what I remember about Chaucer and Shakespeare.

I don’t understand Swiss cheese.  Or beer.

I have never had a school loan.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

I am thankful that my husband and I have continuously improved how we manage our finances throughout our 20+ years of marriage.

I wouldn’t have a blog if it weren’t for my daughter, who started her own when she was in 2nd grade!

I am tagging…

101 Ways to Cook Rice and Beans

Planet Krystal

Finally Acting Our Wage

Budget Brain Consulting

We Sold Our House

Adventures of a Fiscally Fit Chica

Thanks, Vic!  That was fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Prudent to Extravagant in 40 Minutes

Now, you know we plan ahead for kid expenses, whether it be school fees or summer activities, we are thinking and budgeting in advance.  .  . (most of the time).

Our daughter sure grew this year, and surprise! her bike is ridiculously small.  We tried to drum up a used bike from friends — no luck.  Thought about a bike from Target or Amazon, but we’re not real comfortable with assembling a bike with so many gears.  That brought us to the local bike shop.  Are you seeing dollar signs?  Wait, it gets worse!

My husband and I previewed the offerings at the bike shop alone to avoid possible kid disappointment.  We thought we could aim for an entry-level TREK 24″ wheel bike.  I brought her to the shop and the clerk was about the same height as our daughter.  Turns out she is ready for an adult-sized bike, and not even the smallest adult frame!  Dollar signs!

While she was testing the bikes out I was, of course, texting Mr. Saver: “Adult bike… $ 400-500, not 300. as we planned! ”  The upside is that this bike should work for her for a long time unless she hits 6 ft tall.  I advised her that she can buy her next bike because this one should last until she is 35!

mcdonalds-grimaceWe hone in on one model, only to find out the entry-level adult Trek comes in one color:  charcoal gray.  This is a moment where your parental resolve is tested.  Naturally, there is a purple bike, with better components, and it is teetering close to $500.  The clerk calls the bike “Grimace” purple.

So, for Mother’s Day, mom bought a $ 500 bike for daughter.  Quintessential parenting moment.  We have been out biking together every night when the weather cooperates.  Her bike is much nicer than mine and I may be a bit jealous of her slick looking Bontrager puncture resistant tires.  We paid in full for it… I would never finance a bike even if it were the last Grimace-purple bike in town!

Trek 7.2

 

 

 

 

American Girl Warehouse Sale-Wilmot 2015

A reader left a comment yesterday asking about the dates for the American Girl Wilmot Warehouse sale. It will be held June 11-13, 2015, from 10:00-8:00 pm.

You can read about our experience at the first day of the sale in 2013 here

You can read about our experience on day two of the sale in 2014 here

You can read more about all things American Girl, from Wilmot to the Madison Doll Sale, at DollsBetweenUs

Directions can be found on the Mattel Outlet Website.  I’m happy to answer any questions!

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Small Signs Point to Spring

Vintage-Winter-Birds-Image-GraphicsFairy-1024x392In our northern location, one of the few birds that sticks around are cardinals.  In the past week, despite the 10 degree F temperatures, I have heard Mr. Cardinal singing.  I think he was singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”  Works on the ladies every time!

The other sign of spring was I caught Mr. Saver looking out of the sunroom window at his raised garden beds, with thoughts of “doing something different” out there this year.

We decided that when we work through our budget this Saturday night we will take a good look about whether our finances are ready for spring as well.

Areas where our budget is ready for spring, and beyond:

  • We have summer vacation expenses covered
  • We have kid’s summer activities and camps covered

Areas that need attention soon:

  • We have a wedding to attend and need to set aside some gift money for that
  • We have no money set aside for gardening, and it is always more than we expect
  • We have no money set aside for Mom/Daughter summer fun.  This is to cover things like going to a local summer festival, American Girl sales, rummages, lunch out, taking a friend to the movies.
  • May need to revisit the clothing budgets and see if they are ready for spring

Vintage-Daffodil-Picture-GraphicsFairy-543x1024It has been so cold this week that we have barely spent any money from our weekly budget other than buying fruits and veggies, and a few gallons of gas until I got too cold waiting for the tank to fill!  We will re-route our weekly money towards some of these happy spring expenses.

Ordering Summer, Hold the Big Vacation

Morton Arboretum. Looks like England, Not Chicago Suburbs.

Morton Arboretum. Looks like England, Not Chicago Suburbs.

In January we begin thinking about summer vacation plans. We add money to our vacation fund every week, year round when we come in under budget with our weekly expenses. We try to hone in on our plan in January to make sure we have money to pay in full for our fun. (Bring home memories, not debt!)

This year we tossed around a number of ideas… Another train trip out west, or a trip to Montreal? Rent a summer lake house? We felt like we needed to come up with some sort of “legitimate” vacation, but we weren’t really feeling any of the ideas. They all sounded like work for mom and dad!

We came up with some driveable regional options that would give my husband lots of long summer weekends, good food, no travel stress, and time together doing new things. Two-thirds of us are excited to be going to the Madison Children’s Museum American Girl doll benefit sale this summer, but we hooked my husband in with snazzy accommodations and hiking at Devils Lake State Park. Minimal planning, packing and stress, and something for everyone to enjoy.

We have saved up enough to fund our summer plans, and plan to keep on saving so that next year we can contemplate a bigger trip if we are up for it. We would love to get to England in the next few years, but right now that level of planning seems daunting, and the cost to travel as a family seems like a lot of money for a week or two.  That doesn’t mean we won’t ever do it, but if we can build up a nice vacation fund, it may not seem so painful!