Thursday, September 29, 2011

Family Time

I know that I have talked a lot lately about saving money as opposed to being a family again, but I feel like this is part of us becoming a family again.  I enjoy finding new ways to save money so that I can be a stay-at-home mom and spend as much time with my kids as possible.  For  years my husband was gone 4 nights a week and I worked.  I felt as if our kids were being neglected (even though in reality they weren't).  I was tired from working and I was seeing our kids on average 2 hours a day (they went to bed soon after I got home from work) and my husband was only home two and a half days a week (one of those days was a work day for me).  For the years that he was traveling, the approximate number of nights that he was gone was 688 nights.  That is 1.9 years.  So having us all together everyday with me staying at home has been a blessing.  A blessing that cannot be taken for granted.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Just a Thought for Small Savings with a Big Finish

I've recently had an idea to save money for things like Christmas and back-to-school shopping.  If (for each child) you put $2 a week into an envelope labeled "Back-to-School" and the child's name, you will have about $100 for each child by the time it is time to buy "back-to-school" items.  Saving for Christmas works the same way.  If you place about $5 (for each child) a week (starting the first week of November ending the last week of the following October) into an envelope labeled "Christmas" and the child's name, you will have about $260 per child saved for Christmas. 

I don't know about you, but this is a big deal to me.  Saving just a few dollars a week is not nearly as difficult as trying to come up with it all at once.  Just a few dollars can be spare change from your wallet, from the loose coin jar, from your car, the couch cushions, etc.  Instead of opting to buy the pack of gum and a soda at the gas station, put that money into an envelope for your child.  I also recommend having funds for various other things such as the TF (we loose teeth around here like crazy, last week we got a visit from the TF twice!!) because you never know when  you are going to need some one dollar bills (our child's teeth seem to be pulled around 8:30, 9:00 at night when no one wants to go make change at the gas station on the corner).

Another thing that we have recently started is a savings account for our third grader.  Ok, so her school actually promotes it with the local bank and they have "bank day" once a month at the school so we were strong-armed into doing it.  However, I did the math on this.  If we put $10 a month into a savings account for her from this school year until she graduates high school, she will have accummulated (just with our deposits, no interest) $1,200.  That money will be hers to use to help buy books for college.  We will do that with all of our kids (I make it sound like we have a soccer team, but there are just three even though at times it seems like twice that).

Just some thoughts I had while doing laundry, I hope they help you because everyone could use a few new ideas sometimes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Starting Over

We had everything that most Americans aspire to have: the large fancy house on a hill in the "must live in" neighborhood, nice cars, expensive wardrobe, three beautiful kids, and the nice job to afford all  of the "necessities" of life.  The problem was that we weren't a family unit, not in the way we wanted to be.  We were putting the things that were the least important in front of the most important thing: our family.  We were trying to keep up with the Joneses (who by the way lived next door) and we were running a race that we could never seem to finish because something bigger and better was always there to attain next.  You know what this is like, you are either doing this, would like to do this, or have already achieved and surpassed the status of the Joneses.  As Americans we seem to always be in search of the next best thing and aren't happy with what we already have.  My husband's job was a traveling one where he was gone Sunday through Thursday of each week.  I was, in essence, a single mom 5 days out of the week and we were a family two days of the week.  After 5 years, 3 kids, and 2 houses later, enough was enough.  So we did something that most people don't do:  he quit his job, we sold our expensive house, we sold his expensive car, he got a new job making less money, we moved (and downsized), we bought him an old cheap car to go to work in, and he comes home every night.

We did this one year ago, right after our third child was born.  I don't want to make this sound like it was easy because on some levels it wasn't, but on the ones that count, it was.  When I make dinner now, I can set my husband's place at the table.  He can look at the kids each night and ask them how their day was.  He and I can sit together at night and talk.  He can take the kids to school each morning.  He can hug and kiss us all he wants.  He gets to do all of this seven days a week instead of just two days a week.  We can be a family for the entire week every week instead of cramming a week's worth of family time into two days.

There are some parts that weren't as easy.  We didn't have as much money as we once did so we can't live the lifestyle that we once did, but that doesn't matter to us.  I don't want to go shopping and drop an outrageous amount on a pair of jeans just "because I can."  We have had to learn to live on a tight budget and do things ourselves instead of hiring people to do them for us.  We used to have a maid, a yard man, people that washed our cars, and various other things that sound ridiculous now. 

My purpose of this blog is to show that you don't need a lot of money to live like you want to, all you need is enough.  Money doesn't make you happy, people make you happy.  Hopefully through my writing I can help others get to where they want to be in life because we are getting there, and there is no better feeling in the world.