Archive for the ‘Life Lessons’ Category

The Big 5-0! posts that is…

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

This is my fiftieth blog post. Wow, I feel like I should celebrate a little bit!

My blog has been live for about 3 1/2 months and I even managed to keep it going after a slump there in April.  50 posts is peanuts in the blogging world, but here is why it is important to me:

My husband was very concerned about the state of my mental well-being after we decided that I would become a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).  Why? When we moved down here from DC, I had a period of 8 months where I was unemployed and 2 months where I was waiting for my new job to start.  For those 8 months, I was mostly miserable.  I began to hate the monotony of the household chores.  I was dying to be around people.  I felt trapped in a house that was too small, cluttered and constantly falling apart.  We used to fight (alot) and I used to cry (alot) and it was basically a miserable time in general.  Having gone through all that, he was skeptical that I could be happy not working again.

Here is what he did not take into account.  We had just gotten married in September, the month before I left my job in DC.  We also miscarried our first child at 3 months.  My grandmother also died the week I quit my job.  Our water heater broke in our attic 2 weeks after that.  Our car failed inspection and needed to be overhauled a month after that.  I had continuing medical problems and bills that continued on for 6 more months.  The debt started piling up as we had month after month of $1,000 expenses to add to the lingering expense of the wedding and continued expense of doctor’s bills. 

As anyone knows, when debt climbs and income drops so does your general happiness.  In January, I started looking for employment hardcore.  I found that after working at a large international non-profit in DC, coming down to Raleigh was difficult.  I wasn’t qualified to do much in this job market.  My technical IT skills from my tech support days were non-existent after a 6 year hiatus.  My non-profit IT skills (I was a manager), were not useful in Raleigh’s technical market.  Week after week, I had zero responses – not even one inquiry.  I attended job fairs and was thoroughly disappointed.  I started lowering my standards and looking for entry level work – guess what?  I was OVERQUALIFIED.  Someone with my resume would never be happy working a menial desk job -or so I was told.  I started “dumbing” down my resume.  I actually have 14 different versions which each hacked up my career (Secretary – yes, I can answer phones, and file, and type on a computer).  The whole experience was pretty demoralizing.  I couldn’t even get a job making $10/hr at Mailboxes, etc. 

Add that demoralization onto the stress of not being able to pay the bills and guess what?  I was Miserable.  While we were at it, lets add the fact that I was desperately missing my life, my friends, my job, and the city of DC.  I had worked so hard to get out of Raleigh and to do something with my life and here I was back in Raleigh and back in the same old house that I had been desperate to leave. 

It sounds like I am rambling, but I am getting to my point.  The miserable unemployed person that I was 2 years ago does not exist anymore.  The reasons I was miserable had very little to do with me just being “unemployed” and more to do with – well, you can read it again in case you missed it.  Here is how I have changed:

My husband and I finally started meshing as a couple – mind you, we met in 2006 – married in 2007 -got pregnant in 2008 – had a baby in 2009 – and have another coming for 2010.  We didn’t really have a long “honeymoon” period before we started making big life decisions.  Once I started working again in 2008, we were able to start paying down our debt, stop living so desperately, and start enjoying ourselves a little.  I also started settling in to my new lifestyle and stopped missing DC.  Raleigh is a different city to us now that I am a part of a “we”.  This is also a different house – it’s “our” house and with our home improvement projects my hubby definitely has put his touch on things around here.  We also had a HUGE garage sale and finally got rid of the excess stuff and merged our households into one.  And the biggest change: 

We have started our family!  I have wanted to be a mother my entire life and now I have the most precious little boy ever, with a girl on the way.  Everything that I have ever done, from my upbringing, my travels, my jobs, my education, and my experiences have come down to my greatest project – raising children, laying the foundation for the future.  I would say that this is my biggest and most important job to date.

Regardless of how my life has changed, how great things are, and how happy I am – my husband does have a point (Now we are getting to it!).  Without a goal, without focus, without self-expression, I tend to get lost and lose my drive, my forward momentum.  Hence, 2 Pennies 2 Rub was born!  He pushed me to come up with a way to keep the inner me challenged and satisfied, above and beyond taking care of my family. 

My goals are my own, but I get to challenge myself constantly with this blog.  Did I hit my number of posts?  Are they balanced between family, living, and being frugal?  Do I have good ideas?  How do I get my site traffic to go up?  How can I enhance my readers experiences?  Did I make my milestones at 3 months, 6 months, a year?  Not only does this blog keep my happy, but it keeps us focused on saving money, living frugally, and finding the best deals so that I have more to share with you. 

So back to the beginning – this is my 50th blog entry! Woo hoo!  Thank you hubby for pushing me and thank you readers for keeping me writing.  My little one is now slapping my keyboard and demanding to be fed now, so I am off. 

BTW, I love being a SAHM and my mental health is doing good.  :-)

Rejoining the human race.

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

I have taken a hiatus from blogging for the past month or so to work on my “big project”.  So what have I been working on?

Making a baby! 

We found out near the end of April that we were expecting a bundle of joy.  I then immediately fell into the first trimester funk of gagging and vomiting for about 7 weeks straight.  Combined with my sudden onset of narcolepsy and having to take care of my little boy, I had zero capacity to do other tasks such as, cleaning, cooking, blogging, and showering.  Seriously, my husband would hose me down outside a couple times a week.

I am now in what is known as the best part of pregnancy, the second trimester.  The nausea is fading away, I suddenly have more energy, and I only need to take one nap a day.  I also have an interest in reaching out and touching people again (hence my first blog entry in ages) and am dying to reconnect with old friends over decaf coffee sans squirmy child (so sorry I disappeared for 2 months).

When I left my job in March I had no idea that I was already pregnant.  Would it have changed anything?  Maybe.  I might have worked just a couple more months to sock away 3 or 4 more paychecks.  Realistically though, I couldn’t have taken having Oliver in daycare one more minute than he had already spent.  With that said, living frugally has taken on a whole new meaning for us now.  We need to do or die, as they say, with another hungry mouth joining our table.

In the upcoming week, I have some questions to answer for you.  1) How is my garden growing?  hint- I’ve made a profit already from one of my “crops”.  2)  Where can I get baby stuff for pennies?  hint – The next round of kids consignment sales is coming soon!  3)  What ever happened to all the homemade soaps and stuff I made earlier? and 4) Is making your own bread from scratch really worth it?

hanks for hanging in there with me!  This should be an interesting summer…

p.s. It’s a girl!

He Speaks!

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Salee here… It has been several weeks since my last post.  I have been tied up with a very important project, which has left very little time to blog.  While I haven’t been writing about it, we have still been living it – the frugal lifestyle.  I have updates on my garden, our home projects, how couponing is going, etc… and I will get to them in the next couple of weeks after I reveal my latest endeavor.  In the meantime, my husband suggested being a guest blogger and I thought – what the heck?  So without further ado, may I present my husband and his two cents:

Ok, Salee has been swamped with the duties of motherhood, spousal-hood, and any other *-hoods I failed to mention.  So, I, the devoted husband am pinch-hitting in her stead for the time being.

First, I must admit, that the whole idea of Frugality is something that, once begun, begins to consume your life . . . but in a good way.  Originally, I thought that the goal of bring frugal was to be, as the Boy Scouts state, “Thrifty.”  Thus when I was young, Thrifty was the moniker of the day, with everyone looking for ways to save a little on the side, so you would have a solid nest-egg or back-up fund in the event of an emergency.  Now, it is not as easy as it was back then.

Personally, I always thought that there were different levels of being thrifty, or frugal as is the current trend.  The lowest level being someone who collected coins in a jar, and wrapped them up in the little coin wrappers that you could get from the bank.  And, the upper echelons being those people who were so tight fisted that they could squeeze a booger out of Lincoln’s nose.  Most people, however, fell into a kind of middle ground.  Personally, I was always the oddball that would cross over 4 lanes of traffic to pick-up a penny off the road.  However, several years later, and a few scraped and bruises “stupid sedans”, I find myself now with a wife, a son, and a mountain of debt working to crush us all into the throes of perpetual missed payments and late fees.

Ok, I am exaggerating.  Our debt is not a huge overbearing mountain of credit cards, mortgages, and other loans.  However, it is also not something that I can just write-off.  I would classify our debt as more of a little foot-hill, or a large speed-bump.  A majority of the debt is wrapped up in the mortgage and college tuition loans.  I have seen all the ads and read a lot of articles which state that these 2 types of debt are “good debt.”  I guess that is because they are linked to a tangible (or as the case of education, intangible) asset which can appreciate, and provide a benefit to you later on.  In fact, companies often re-classify debts as separate from expenses on their balance sheet, which end up having a different impact on their bottom line.  Personally, I feel that if I have to write a check for any amount a month or whenever, that this is a cost to me that I would prefer not to have to pay.  Not that I would prefer to have it for free, as I believe in hard work and earning your place in the world . . . I just do not like seeing the hard earned monies I make disappear each month without seeing some physical asset replace it.

Now, onto the task at hand.  This blog is about living the frugal life.  To assist with the blog, I do spend a little time browsing the local web news and am seeing more and more articles expounding the benefits and joys of “frugality.”  Personally, the word frugal sounds like some weird fungus or toadstool that you find in a dark cave, surrounded by some mythical little creatures with pointy shoes and hats right out of a Harry Potter novel.  “Hey, can you place pass me some frugals” . . . “Boy honey, this is the best frugal I have ever had” . . . etc.  However, as it turns out, this is really “How to live simply, and to enjoy life to the fullest.”  Most people seem to measure their life via the accumulation of the newest little electronic blinky battery scarfing things that you can buy in your local Best Buy or GameStop.  Personally, I believe that life is about experiencing what the world has to offer, and making your mark in the word in some way to the betterment of all.  I know, it sounds kind of like a weird 1960’s flower-power ideology, where everyone gets a guitar and paints their faces while wearing a burlap sack singing Kum-By-Yah around a campfire.  Well, if that is what you think I am about . . . boy are you in for a surprise.  :-)

I will be chiming in from time to time, filling in, with my own personal viewpoint of the world, current events, and new events in our frugal minded household.  So, check back in from time-to-time, as you never know what is coming next.  But, keep in mind . . . my goal is not to shock, or gripe, or whine about the world or to propagate my own personal beliefs with the aims of motivating or manipulating the masses.  I admire objectivity, and will always strive to give the true and honest, un-biased stance on any issues I take on.  This will be fun . . he he he.

Looking back on the month…

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

I have been under the weather this past week and have been sleeping rather than typing.  I think I caught a bug while we were out camping.

I just realized today that it has been one month since I left my job and one month since my blog has been “live”.  How did the month go?

1) Becoming a full-time mom was rough.  I felt like I didn’t know my own kid.  I didn’t know what to feed him, what to do with him, or how to entertain him.  I didn’t know what stage he was in developmentally.  I didn’t know what to teach him or how.  I pretty much spent the first two weeks on the floor watching him all day and trying to figure him out.

I spent any extra time I had reading baby books and found out where we stood amongst it all.  Oliver and I started developing routines as we ironed out his feeding and nap schedules.  We started getting out of the house for our little “field trips” to the grocery store and the farmer’s market.  He seemed to miss the hustle and bustle of daycare, so I found him opportunities to play with other babies and be around other children.

Now that it’s been a month, I feel like we are two peas in a pod now.  We have started communicating with each other and he even sings with me – so freakin’ cute.  We have been adopted by a stray cat and Oliver loves playing with the cat through the sliding glass door.  His first words were “itty at” and he meows back to the cat.

2) Not spending money is easy.  Worrying about not having enough money is rough.  We are able to live just fine on one income, but there’s always that big “what if” out there makes for a few sleepless nights.  Looking back, the “what ifs” have always been lurking around.  I guess going down to one-income just amplifies them.

3) Writing a blog post every day is not feasible.  I think I was crazy and under some adrenaline rush when I thought I would be able to do that!  It’s not that I don’t have a plethora of ideas (I have a 4-page document of post ideas alone), it’s that I don’t have an excess of free time.  I have just as little free time now as I did when I worked.  The quality of my work has changed, but not my hours.  My day starts at 7am when he wakes up and ends at 830pm when he goes to bed.

I had envisioned being able to blog while he was napping or while he was playing by himself… HA HA HA.  I was delusional.  Instead of blogging, I’m digging the latest plastic wrapper out of his mouth or de-crusting the latest mountain of dishes for the washer.  For those of you who faithfully follow my blog – I know there are at least 16 of you – thanks for sticking with me!  I will be posting 3 – 4 new posts a week from here on out.

4) I miss being around adults!  One thing I took for granted when I worked was the cheap and easy accessibility to adults whom I could chat with, have coffee with, and go out to lunch with.  Now that I’m a SAHM, it is so much work to connect with people.  Seeing people during the day is rough because everything revolves around the baby’s schedule, you have to tote him everywhere, and he demands attention from everyone around him.  Seeing people at night is rough, because all I want to do is sleep and because seeing someone at night usually involves money of some sort (dinner, coffee, drinks).  Sleep and money – 2 commodities which I am short on.  For all you people out there that I want to stay in touch with – hang in there.  We will get together, I promise!

5) Living frugally has a big learning curve and takes a lot of energy.  To be a true frugal, you need to question everything – how can I do this in a less expensive way?  That’s a lot of work.  I’ll have to add the 3rd commodity that I am short on – energy.

Slowly, but surely, we are integrating some of the things into our lives.  We are happily making our own laundry detergent and are satisfied using the magicJack for our home phone.  We’ve cut back drastically on the fast food and eating out.  We shop at Aldi regularly now and have started using coupons.

Other things I am reluctant to give up, like paper plates and Clorox wipes.  I still haven’t handed over my poor dilapidated cell phone for a pre-paid Tracfone and we haven’t switched over to cloth diapers yet.  I think I am clinging to the convenience items because I find that I am still so short on time and the rest…I haven’t had time to figure them out yet!

Overall, I would say that this past month has been a success.  Quitting work cold turkey led to a rough transition, but we have weathered the storm and even pulled out a family camping trip!  Next month we will add a few more penny-pinching tricks to our hat and see if we can batten down the hatches even more.  I would also like to spend a few more hours a week on the blog and figure out how to find and interact with more readers.

We will be trying out the cloth diapers next month, so be prepared to learn all you ever wanted to about poo!

All Worth It

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

The baby has learned to put the ball in place.

I went into my old office today to pick up a few items I had left behind and I must admit, I sort of miss it- just a little.  I miss the camaraderi the most.

At home, I do not have a shortage of things to do.  Every day is jam packed and what little breather I get during nap time is spent doing house work.  I have actually watched him flourish before my eyes in the short 1.5 weeks that we’ve been together.  For example, in the picture above, he learned how to place the ball correctly after we practiced for 4 days.  He was so excited that he started clapping his hands afterwards!  Priceless.

Choosing to stay at home has been worth every penny we pinch.

Last Day of Being Gainfully Employed

Friday, March 26th, 2010

This.Is.It. Wow, I am both excited and terrified today.  I finally get to be a stay at home mom and to raise my son the way we want him to be raised, yet I have so much still to do at work that I can’t imagine leaving.  I haven’t really ever left a perfectly good job before.  I have either been burnt out, had a better job elsewhere, or moved.  It feels sort of gutsy to walk away.  Go me!

There are more important things out there than money.  I could list 2 dozen off the top of my head.  It comes down to food, shelter, personal hygiene, and the bare necessities.  We are shifting our values from material and self-gratification to spiritual and emotional well-being.  Instead of thinking of everything we will do without, we are thinking of everything we will gain – peace of mind about the baby, less stress, more sleep, more family time and more time to have a cleaner house and better meals.

Frugal tip of the day:  Decide to live frugally and then do it!  Stop moaning and groaning.  It’s just like daylight savings time or flying across time zones, the longer you wait to change your watch the more confused and bitchy you will be.  Embrace your penny-pinching ways and it will soon hurt less to have less.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Tomorrow is my last day of work.  Today some colleagues took me out to a nice lunch and surprised me with thoughtful going away gifts.  The first thought that went through my head – “Awwww…how sweet!  You guys are too much.”  The second thought – “Awesome!  Free stuff!” 

Frugal lesson #1 – To get free stuff, work with incredible people, make good friends, and then quit your job.

JUST KIDDING!  Well sort of.  The real lesson here is a life lesson – be kind, generous, thoughtful, caring, and genuine to the people in your life and you will receive the same in return.  This especially works when you are trying to get deals and discounts to sustain your frugal life.

Here are real world examples of this in my life:

CVS – I was confused at trying to figure out the secrets behind saving money at CVS.  I started chatting up a very tired and cranky looking employee.  Within a few minutes she not only told me how to get the best savings, but also personally led me to the bargain items I was trying to buy AND told me to call for her if I needed help!

Lowes – I am a regular fixture at my local Lowes Home Improvement store and have developed relationships with some of the employees over time.  They know my skill level, appreciate my enthusiasm, and have always given me GREAT advice on how to do my projects better, easier, and usually less expensively.  When we replaced our carpet last year, I was told by someone that I could only take the little 3″ X 3″ samples home.  Who on earth can decide which carpet you want for your entire house from a 3″ x 3″ sample?  I came back when the manager, who I am friendly with, worked and he cut a 12″ wide swath down the entire length of the carpet ROLL for each carpet I wanted.

S2 Metrobus – When I first moved to Washington, DC I had NO CLUE how to use the Metrobuses.  I was told by a local that I wanted the S2 bus to get back to my apartment.  When my bus pulled up, I sort of stood there looking at the driver and finally asked if he was going to 16th and V.  I sat at the very front of the bus and chatted with him.  I learned all about the bus system that night, how long he’d been driving, how the drivers rotate routes, and how many kids he had.  In turn, I got great advice, some free bus rides on his routes and a honk and a wave when I saw his bus go by on 16th street.

Frugal tip of the day:  Instead of trying to wheel and deal a few extra cents savings from someone, try being nice.  In the long run, you will probably come out ahead.

The “F” Word

Friday, March 12th, 2010

For my first blog post, I am going to tackle the dreaded “F” word. 

In our house, this word is not taboo.  In fact, the “F” word is always on the tip of my tongue just waiting to be used on a moments notice.  I hope to raise my son to embrace the “F” word and to use it often even though it raises eyebrows.  Most people cringe when they hear the “F” word.

FRUGAL

There, I said it.

Being frugal is a good thing.  It means taking charge of your life.  It means being in control of your finances.  It means stretching the value of a dollar to buy and do more than ever before.  It means making the most with what you have.  It means reusing, recycling, and refurbishing goods.  It can also mean defining your values and evaluating what you deem to be important.  If saving money helps you towards what you define as important, then being frugal is for you.

For us, we value raising our child at home, spending quality time together as a family, eating healthier meals, exercising regularly, and saving money for the future.  Those things are important to us.  My time turned out to be worth more money than I was earning at my job.  In other words, you couldn’t pay me enough to keep my baby in daycare, to eat fast food all the time, and to subtract what little time remained in the day after work to go to a gym rather than be with my family.  On top of that, there was little money going to savings because I was paying out for everything listed above that I didn’t want in the first place.

And that is how we became “Frugals”.  Live it and love it.

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