11 October 2011

Money Thoughts

As I mentioned in my last post, we've been a little, well, indulgent of ourselves lately.  Being hugely pregnant is inconvenient in a lot of small ways that add up financially.  It's easy to forget that my energetic "stay at home" schedule (ironically named) allows me to save us a lot of money.  It doesn't make up for my previous salary (not by a long shot) but it does let us to live reasonably on a single income.

For instance, I cook most nights (probably 5-6 nights a week) and DH cooks at least once a week.  My cooking is generally more made-from-scratch and vegetable-intense, requiring more prep time.  However, since I've been in my 3rd trimester, I'm usually too tired at 5:30 to be on my feet for another hour.  This has led to DH cooking after he comes home from work (usually 10+ hours) and quicker meals... i.e. more expensive.  While still couponing and meal planning, our grocery budget went up by ~20% last month and is on track to do that again this month.  We won't discuss the eating out budget!

I expect this to change in a few weeks, when I have a little more energy or can at least devote my energy to particular activities, rather than being struck by tiredness at random times.  In the mean time, I'm reading through a blog I found via a friend on Pinterest: 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget.  It's always good to refresh my brain on finance topics, even when I've heard the majority of it before.  31 topics is a lot (and some I disagree with) but there are a few techniques I need to remember in the coming months.  I may post more specifics about this soon.

I've also been thinking about Christmas presents after reading this Yahoo Finance article today.  The first step for me is always determining how we can rearrange our money to pay for presents.  Only then do I pick who we're buying for (mostly immediate family these days) and what we can afford to do in December (lots of Christmas party invites every year, not to mention travel options).  I usually do our Christmas budget in September.  That may seem early (and sound boring) but it lets us anticipate expenses and use October & November to save for presents and travel, rather than trying to fit it all into December's budget.  I actually enjoy this task because it easily halves my stress level during the holidays when I know what we can and can't afford; plus, it's enjoyable to think about all the fun we'll have at Christmas time!  I think I'll be spending one day this week catching up.

In the past few weeks, lots of my friends have mentioned money being extra tight.  Are you doing anything extra these days to make ends meet?  Any financial wins lately?

03 October 2011

Pre-Baby Thoughts

Being out of school and (temporarily) physically limited leaves me a lot of time to sit around and think during the day.  My brain is pretty good at quickly bouncing around on many ideas.  Lately, I've been thinking about a lot of family-centric topics: baby's impending arrival and the changes it will bring, finances, fitness, the holidays, food, housework, craft projects... the list goes on.  I started this blog to help me explore some of these wanderings in a more coherent way and so far, it's been very useful to me in that regard.  As a bonus, it's also garnered some great feedback from friends.  So here's some glimpses of my latest brain-musings... let me know what you think.

  • How DH and I have changed over the years: We've been married for just over 5 years and together for 7.  5 years ago we were way over our heads in debt, with very different views of housework & daily living; neither one of us was good with credit cards and we definitely weren't ready for kids.  Today we've got a handle on our financial situation (which is steadily improving) with a more open communication about daily life and our expectations.  Along the way, we've found a lot of common ground and compromise (e.g. having friends over for dinner satisfies my introverted needs and his extraverted ones at the same time).  I don't know if we're truly ready for kids (is anyone?) but we're definitely ready to take on the challenge in a way we couldn't have 5 years ago.  I'm grateful that we've learned and grown together.
  • Recommitting to our financial goals: We haven't strayed off our plan too far this year; we're even ahead a bit in some regards.  However, we've been very lax about a few areas and somewhat indulgent of convenience over savings as the pregnancy has progressed.  I'm hoping that post-pregnancy I'll have a little better self-control and that when we do our financial review in January, we'll find a few ways to speed up our debt repayment.  Baby will probably affect this in both directions: more motivation to do better but also less available cash.
  • Our health: Maybe it's having a child that's pushing this issue but DH and I have talked a lot about improving our physical fitness recently.  Besides eating well, I can't do much in that department for a few more weeks, so I'm starting to mentally plan out my "return to fitness", beginning in November.  So far, it mostly includes daily weigh ins on the Wii Fit, more home cooking and less convenience foods, walks with the whole family (including the dogs), working up to working out on the Wii Fit at home, and trying to restart Zumba classes after the holidays.
  • Housecleaning: Yup, nesting and OCD combine to create a mental image of a house that desperately needs some TLC.  We're steadily working on this.  Baby's room is 95% done (and 100% clean) and I cleaned the desk (i.e. major disaster area) last week.  DH even cleaned the whole kitchen, stove included, over the weekend... with no prompting from me (this may be the most amazing moment ever in our domicile-maintaining relationship).  There's still plenty to be done though, including the dreaded bathrooms.  What perk of working do I miss most?  Paying someone else to clean my house.
That's enough thinking for now, off to take care of dinner.  What's percolating through your brain lately?