Sunday, September 20, 2009

Yard Sale Stats

Yesterday Porter and I sat on the front porch for 6 hours during our very first yard sale. I had never done one because the thought of someone else wanting and even paying for my junk just didn't sit well with me. But I was bored, looking for something to do, and the thought of a little extra cash didn't hurt.

Hours open: 6
Hours prep: 1
Visitors: 23
Sales: 6
Largest Sale: $45
Smallest Sale: $0.50
Porter barks: 7 occurances, numerous barks
Surprise best sell: door knobs (with keys)
Suprise worest sell: books
Best time of day for sales: 10-11:30
Pages read while sitting in the hot sun: 162
Times Porter tipped over his water dish: 4
Profit: $91.50 & space in the garage

All and all not a bad day and I'd probably do it again if I got bored enough. Although I really wish someone had asked about our gas dryer because I really want to sell it. Know anyone out there looking for a great deal on a gas dryer?

Monday, September 14, 2009

To Bookswim or not?

Last night I was checking out bookswim, which I think is a fabulous idea and was super psyched to try it out, especially when I saw that they were servicing my area! That never happens. Then I saw the monthly fee ($19.95 for 3 books a month plus $4.99 S&H) and I'm not sure if it's worth it...

Pros for joining

  • a lot of books I want to read aren't available at the library and are available here
  • I buy a lot of books for book groups that I don't really want to hang on to
  • I can easily browse for new books
  • I can start a queue of interesting books I hear about but aren't quite ready to read
  • I'd read more
  • I'd read more of the books I want to read through out the year verses waiting until my birthday or Christmas when I get a ton of books I want to read all at once and then only read half
  • the monthly incentive would motivate me to finish books for the next swap
Cons for joining
  • a lot of books are available at the library
  • I currently only buy 1 book a month around $10-$15 if that
  • it's an increased monthly expense
  • I don't get to keep the really good books
Really the dilemma is that joining bookswim will not saving me money but will cost me a little more for my reading habit. The plus side is that I would read more (which I want to do) and I could read books that I am really interested in and not just the books that are available at the library. I'm leaning towards yes, but it's just the extra $25. It is a little too high, I was hoping for $15 or $20. What do you think?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Declutter Success!

Yesterday DH and I had a very successful day cleaning out all of our old stuff. Of course now our garage is full of junk but at least it is out of our living space, right?

Here is a before and after pic of the living room:

Our first month in the house:

Two years later, it actually looks like a home:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Got to Keep Busy

Yippee! The new carpet is in! Thursday night while I sat in an empty living room on a nasty carpet, I realized how much bigger the living room looks with less stuff in it. DH and I agreed not to return all the furniture back to it's original place and I have to say our house looks bigger because of it.

Of course that means we have 5 boxes of "stuff" that we now need a home for so I've got some hardcore cleaning, throwing out, and organizing to do next weekend! DH and I went through all of our clothes yesterday and were able to remove 3 garbage bags full. And I'm hoping with the rest of the cleaning we can move a bunch of stuff in boxes to the garage. Our spare room is full of seasonal stuff and things only used on a rare occassion so I'd love to remove them from our every day living areas so we aren't as cramped.

Items for labor day weekend (or before):

  • clean out filing cabinet (top 2 drawers)
  • top drawer of spare room dresser
  • spare room closet
  • top half of kitchen hutch
  • 5 boxes of books and DVDs need a new home
  • the kitchen cabinet with baking and coffee stuff

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

So before my hiatus, I listed out some goals for the summer. Well since the summer is almost over I thought I'd check in on my progress.


  • Paint bedroom
  • Paint living room
  • Paint kitchen walls
  • Paint kitchen ceilings
  • Paint baseboards white throughout house
  • Paint doors white throughout house
  • Clean out the filing cabinet
  • Buy new microwave (on hold)
  • Make a curtain for back kitchen door (no longer needed)
  • Hang pictures in kitchen (tried and didn't like)
  • Get new carpet for living room- 2 more days til complete
  • Get new carpet for "master" bedroom- 2 more days til complete
  • Get estimate for redoing the garage (roof, sheetrock, backdoor, overhead door, update electrical box)
  • Paint the rest of the "porch"
  • Power wash the whole house
  • Get outside table
  • Brainstorm for making patio next year
  • Mow and water the lawn regularly (in progress)
I've been pretty sucessful inside the house and how I just need to focus on the outside before the weather gets bad again. All and all not too bad...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Prioritizing Money

DH and I have a long wish of hopes, dreams, and wishes. And of course all of these things take money. To help us prioritize when and where we spend out money we've started a list:

  • Xbox 360 (for DH)
  • Carpet for living room and bedroom (slated for Aug)
  • Garage remodel (need estimate)
  • October vacation (going to Florida)
  • New computer desk
  • Vacation to New England (2010)
  • Trip to Portland
  • Trip to Seattle
  • Pay off independent student loan
  • New couch
  • Trip to San Fran (Alcatraz)
  • Car GPS
  • Tires for Versa (Aug)
  • New bed
  • New microwave
  • New work boots for DH
  • Savings to sell house/move
  • New weights for DH
  • New clothes for me
As you can see we have quite the list. Some of it is nonnegotiable like replacing the bald tires on my car and others are a long time off like selling the house and moving. As a planner I need to have an organized strategy. Even if it is never used I like knowing what I'm getting into to help stay on target and keep progressing in the right direction. Our next step is prioritizing our needs/wants and setting goals to meet them.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Addition to Dream Job List

This morning over coffee and brownies (yes, I ate brownies for breakfast), I stumbled across this slide show of Netflex's corporate culture. If you are as interested in corporate culture as I am flip through it. There is some pretty interesting stuff in there and a lot of that stuff I am currently struggling with as my previously 80 employee company was bought by a company of 2,000+ employees.

If you aren't interested in corporate culture then just know that Netflex has joined the ranks of, Zappos, Google, and Ben & Jerry's as companies I'd love to work for.

Freedom & Responsibility Culture

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Long time, no write

After a 2 month hiatus, I think I'm back. Life got busy and I got Animal Crossing for my birthday and that pretty much sums up where all my time went. If you haven't heard of Animal Crossing, good. Your ignorance will spare you from hours upon hours of fishing, bug catching, and buying the latest items in your town store. It is incredibly addicting and acts as it's own natural black hole. You start at 10am and the next thing you know it's time for bed.

I have made some progress on the house in my absence. I had one productive weekend where I painted the baseboards and doors of the living room and kitchen white. I still have the other two bedrooms and the kitchen ceiling to do though. And next month we are getting new carpet! Woo hoo! I have one month to get the rest of the painting done and our social calendar is filling up so I better start cracking!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Welcoming Summer

Welcoming the nicer weather and the occasional sunny days that will come with it, DH and I invested in a doggie pool for a whopping $10 at Rite Aid. The dogs don't really get the concept of the pool and think it's the largest water bowl they've ever seen. At least they won't get dehydrated this summer!

I also got a sprinkler and have been watering the lawn every night (I pretty sure you are suppose to water in the morning but DH just aren't up early enough). I'm hoping the water will help the grass grow so that we will have a nice green lawn when the family comes out in Nov. Otherwise it will be welcome to the dust bowl!

(And check out the awesome fence in the background, DH did a great job!)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

House Goals

It's time for some summer house goals! It's an ambitious list but I'd rather have stuff carry over to next year than sit on my butt playing Animal Crossing all summer!


  • Paint bedroom
  • Paint living room
  • Paint kitchen
  • Paint baseboards white throughout house
  • Paint doors white throughout house
  • Clean out the filing cabinet
  • Buy new microwave
  • Make a curtain for back kitchen door
  • Hang pictures in kitchen
  • Get new carpet for living room
  • Get new carpet for "master" bedroom
  • Get estimate for redoing the garage (roof, sheetrock, backdoor, overhead door, update electrical box).
  • Paint the rest of the "porch"
  • Power wash the whole house
  • Get outside table
  • Brainstorm for making patio next year
  • Mow and water the lawn regularly
Okay I kind of cheated with the first 3 by putting stuff I've already done on the list but technically they aren't done yet. There are 2 spots in the bedroom that need to be touched up, DH noticed some "spots" in the living room that I don't see so we have to wait for a sunny day so he can prove it, and I still have to figure out how to paint behind the refrigerator and gas stove in the kitchen without doing too much damage. Despite my video game addiction, I think I'm doing pretty well.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Time Wasters

Recently I have been addicted to Mafia Wars on Facebook and Animal Crossing City Folk. It's amazing how many evenings and hours have gone by propped up in front of these two games. It is also probably why I haven't been blogging as much. Sorry mom, please forgive (and I'm still getting you Animal Crossing for your birthday)!

Normally I'm not a big fan of video games but I have found it very relaxing to escape the realities of this world to a world where I can make $8,000,000 with a click of a button or a world where I can pay off my mortgage in one day by collecting fruit and seashells.

I've settled myself in for the long haul at work. It's more of a marathon (maybe a mega marathon) than a 400 meter sprint. So I'm learning to let things go, focus on the things that matter, and smile through every meeting. I few people have commented although I think they were more suspicious in nature. But you have to laugh when the company you work for disappears over night and a new one takes over. No one knows the rules yet. You can't take yourself too seriously unless you want ulcers and I'm to young for that. I'm just going to wait a little for someone to put together the company cheat codes and post them online. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Poor Forest. He went in for his regular annual exam and found out he had a melanoma growth on his eye lid. Fortunately the vet was able to remove it and he is completely healthy otherwise, but he's feeling a little groggy and walking around like a drunken salior.

This is Forest trying to get on the couch...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bit by the Bug

With my bathroom fully functioning and brand new looking, it has motivated me to work on the rest of my house. And of course the fact that my parents are planing to come out in November is even more incentive to get the house in pristine condition before their visit.

Last weekend I finally painted the rose colored bedroom that DH swore he'd never sleep in. Not to call DH a liar but 2 years later I've finally painted in blue. It's not quite the blue I was hoping for (it probably needs at least 2 coats to cover up the pink that is trying to shine through) but I'm too cheap and lazy to do any more right now.

Here are the before and after pics-

Before bare walled and dogs allowed.

Freshly painted and no big dogs allowed (somehow Porter is still allowed in the bedroom).

Next on the list is the living room and kitchen walls. But first I have to learn how to texture the walls and cover up Forest's teething marks!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Support PWO!

One of my favorite bloggers, MJ from Note to Self, is hosting a 24 hour blogathon tomorrow, April 25th, starting at 9 a.m to support Police Wives Online.

Please stop by the blogathon page, read some great stuff, and make a donation!

Thanks in advance for your support!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Everyone Has Dreams

I heart

There are a few companies that I've always wanted to work for- Google because I think they are the greatest and they treat their employees well,, again, because I think they're ingenious and you can bring your dog to work, and Ben & Jerry's because I want free ice cream every day.

In case I every find myself living in Las Vegas or Kentucky, I'm adding Zappos to that list. Another amazing idea wrapped up in a company culture that's worth being apart of.

If you're still not convinced check out the Nightline episode and tell me what shoe-loving girl wouldn't want to work here?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Nicest Room in the House!

At long last, our suffering has ended and our dreams have come true- our bathroom is officially the nicest room in the house. The contractors did an amazing job and we are so happy with our end result that we've already asked them to come back for our next big house project- the garage!

I have a real bathroom now with tile floors and nice overhead cabinet storage! Everything looks so new and clean! The window is a very safe distance away from the shower and we have a ceiling fan that works like a charm.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Running Water

Hallelujah! We have running water in our bathroom and the toilet flushes! Words can not express how excited I am! No more running to Safeway to use the restroom and no more Sri Lanka style baths with buckets! Woohoo!

They aren't quite done yet, but man what a difference!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Are we there yet?

It's been a long week without a bathroom and running to Safeway everytime I have to go pee is getting really old! We're half way there and by this time next week, I'll be soaking in my new tub something I never dared to do in the old one.

Here are some of the not so glamorous before shots.

I'm not quite sure what the previous owner was thinking when they installed his and her medicine cabinets. And the black thing in the bottom center is the space heater we have to use to dry out the room when ever we shower- it will not be missed!

As I'm sure you can imagine, they found an incredible amount of moisture and mold when they dug up all the old floor and walls. And there was absolutely no insolation in any of the walls. Wow!

And here is a shot of the "fan" in the bottom center that was not connected to anything. No wonder it did such a poor job!

But it's starting to turn around and the window is no longer in the tub, which is a good sign.

Forest and I can't wait for the bathroom to be done (although probably for different reasons)!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We did it!

After almost a year of saving and cutting costs, DH and I have finally saved enough to get started on our bathroom remodel! I'm so proud of us!

2 years ago when we bought the house we knew the bathroom needed to be gutted, but basking in the dreams of our future we didn't think too much about reality. 10 months ago reality hit us and we committed to saving although we didn't have a lot to put aside.

At the end of every month, after paying the bills and putting a little extra towards our debit, I put a hundred dollars in a savings account. After a few months of "forgetting," I set up an automated savings plan, which turned out to be our saving grace. We started off with just $25 a week and when that was successful I bumped it up a little. We paid off some of our debit and I doubled the weekly contribution. DH and I got raises and I doubled the weekly contribution again. Tax refunds and birthday money all went into our savings acount. And finally we had enough money to secure a contractor and wouldn't need a loan to do so.

It feels great to work hard for something. While I won't be doing any of the physical labor to make my bathroom happen, I did work hard to cut back our spending and beef up our savings. We finally did it! I'll post some before and after pics soon!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

29 Days of Giving

Last month I was introduced to Operation Nice, if you haven't heard of it before I strongly encourage you to check it out. With all the ugly things happening in our lives these day, it's easy to lose sight of the good that exists too. Operation Nice has helped me remember that it only takes one person to make a difference in some one's day.

Today is my last day of the 29 days of giving challenge. At first I thought 29 days was a whole lot of giving, but as I got into it I realized how much I give without even thinking about it, just because it's "the right thing to do". Cooking DH dinner after a long day of work, letting a car pull out from a side road in front of you during rush hour traffic, and giving people compliments for things they've done. All very simple things that we do during our regular days and don't even think about.

I'm really glad I got involved, I did somethings that I wouldn't ordinarily do like send a care package to a sick child. But more importantly I became mindful of all the nice things I do and all the nice things people do for me. By week 2 it seemed like DH was being abnormally nice to me- washing the dishes, rubbing my back, mowing the lawn. My new mindful state made me appreciate his efforts that before wouldn't have got more than a tired "thanks hun". I think it's true if you do nice things, nice things happen to you.

I'm going to continue following Melissa's weekly challenges and Nice Testimonials and I encourage you to check it out too!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

First Ride Along!

I can't believe there are only 2 classes left in the Citizen's Police Academy. I've learned a few things but mostly it's nice to be around non LEO people that are in awe of what our men and women in blue do. I have to say it's very refreshing to walk through the classroom doors and be surrounded by citizens and city council members who support law enforcement.

But enough mushiness- Friday I went on my first ride along! For 4 hours I was immersed in what my DH does everyday:

  • Gave a death notice, took almost an hour since we didn't have a valid address and had to respond to a building alarm across town during the hunt
  • Pulled 2 people over with tinted windows (one person was cited, the other got a warning)
  • Pulled over a car with expired tags and the driver had a warrant for arrest- my first trip to jail (kind of smelly don't recommend it)
  • Assisted another agency with information on a stop within the city limits
  • Got to see Cop Watch in action (for those that don't know our local Cop Watch goes around on patrol taping officers doing their job, invading their personal space, and generally just creating a scene, I'd link to their page so you could see the ridiculousness but I don't want them to find me!)
  • Responded to a 911 hang up when dispatch couldn't get a hold of the caller (gosh darn those 2 year olds. At least the family was very nice and apologetic)
  • Checked out an apartment for loud music and underage drinking
  • Looked for juveniles who overturned a porta potty and were being chased by a neighbor (we didn't see anything)
  • Searched for a municipal code violation of camping but again couldn't find anything in the location given
  • Responded to a fight call and assisted in locating a caregiver for an unknown 2 year old who was left by her drunk mother when the crowd broke up
It was actually a pretty slow night according to the officer but I was exhausted and a little bit car sick. Who knew how tiring it can be to get in and out of a car! And there were times I swear we were driving in circles (okay we were- we kept trying to catch up with cars to pull over but traffic was getting in the way or we'd get dispatched some where).

I have a new respect for how tired DH is when he gets home and I was only out from 6-10!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monthly Recap- Feb 2009

February was a whirl wind of taxes and parties (but no parties for taxes). Our spending seems to have reached a consistent number month to month with minimal fluctuation. We’ve weeded out our over the top spending and are consistently able to put more money aside each month for savings. There are certainly many areas we can continue to cut back on, but at this point neither of us is motivated enough to make the big sacrifices.

Here were the dingers for the month:

  • Dog food doubled as our bi weekly trip to the feed store caught us on the first and last day of the month, maximizing the spending for all 28 days of February
  • DH’s truck was registered in February- DH, I hope the $311 is worth it!
  • Our groceries were $100 higher due to our every few months Costco trip.
  • Our eating out bill was another $100 higher from the overwhelming number of birthdays in February.

The plus side was we got a fatty refund from the government. Although I’m disappointed as I hate to think of giving away my money for free. On the flip side there probably wasn’t much I could have done differently as I think most of the tax refund was due to all my PTO payouts that bumped me into higher tax brackets for several paychecks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Ultimate Compliment

I've been feeling pretty good about myself lately and have taken the next step to bring goodwill to others. One of my goals for work this year is to be a corporate cheerleader of sorts. I know there will be a lot of changes this year for the company, some good and some not so good, but as a good leader I need to rally the troops when we they are needed and address their concerns so they can do their work.

This past week I've been working on a presentation for my boss' boss. It was stressful and I saw things that I wish I didn't, but I knew how important it was for me to do a great job, to be professional, and to do everything I could to make her job easier.

At the same time I couldn't let my stress bring down the morale of my team. I need them to believe in me and to trust me. They've been asking difficult questions but I felt it was important to answer them as honestly as I could and to explain the reasoning behind such decisions to prevent panic and to squelch any anti-company feelings that would prevent them from getting their job done. It's amazing how little things like a mandatory corporate desktop display can cause employee uproar.

At the end of my stressful week my employees thanked me. They thanked me for keeping such an upbeat attitude during this stressful time because it made work a lot easier and even fun. They thanked me for answering their questions about the upcoming changes. They understood that many things still needed to be addressed and decided but appreciated that I didn't deny that things were going to change and some of them were going to be difficult. And an employee that had more experience on the job than I have been alive told me she admired how professional I am.

While I've always appreciated compliments and atta boys from my boss and the higher ups, I've always valued my employees feedback more. When people under me thank me for doing a good job, for making work a fun place to be, and for being professional and forthcoming with information I feel like I've truly done my job well.

Sometimes corporate life can be rewarding. :)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Getting involved

This month marks my 3 year anniversary of living on the West Coast in the middle of nowhere. In some ways it's hard to believe it's only been 3 years and in other ways I'm sure it's only been two. But alas it's really been 3 and outside of work I don't have any connections here.

I've taken matters into my own hands this last month and have started volunteering to get involved in activities outside of work (hence my lack of posting). My goal is 3 fold:

  1. I want to expand my network beyond just people I work with
  2. I use to be very involved in community activities before moving here and I miss it
  3. It looks good on the resume should I end up on the job market
In some ways my motivations are selfish, I want to have a larger support network since I don't have family close by that I can rely on and I'm trying to cover my bases in case I become unemployed. Local involvement will look good as will having connections outside of work that I can draw from. But there is also the element of being engaged in the community that makes you feel good.

I'm currently attending a Citizen's Police Academy which is a lot of fun. I was nervous that I would meet a lot of LE haters but in fact everyone has been incredible nice and in total awe of what LEO and Dispatchers do and what they put up with. A few city council members are attending and I'm also meeting more people that DH works with which is nice. I did a sit along in dispatch for a few hours last weekend and all I can say is that dispatchers have an incredibly stressful job and are perhaps the best multi-taskers on earth!

I've also joined a local book group with 5 other ladies. I love to read and was really excited when a co-worker introduced me to his friend that lead the group. I think the best part about the group is that no one from my work or DH's work is part of it so I'm actually opening up new doors!

This week is the annual Bowl for Kids' Sake to support our local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. I'm one of the team captains and we've done some really successful fundraising which I'm pretty excited about. And next week I'm volunteering at the local Jazz Festival.

Since getting involved I've felt a lot happier and believe it or not have more energy when I come home (even when it's past my bedtime). I'm doing a better job of eating well and keeping the house clean. I'm starting to feel like the old me again and I like it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bring out the toothbrush

It was late on a Monday night and I was trying to procrastinate going to bed so I wouldn't have to wake up and go to work in the morning (by the way that trick doesn't work). That's when I pulled up the site thanks to a post on PWO that was coincidentally reinforced by popping up on another blog the same day- I thought it must be a sign I needed help.

Flylady is the answer for living in CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome). I read the first page just because of the cool acronym. My first assignment was to make my sink shine. Apparently it's not enough to just wash your dishes every night like I had been doing. Flylady wants me to dry the dishes, put them away, and spend the next hour polishing the sink! (insert evil laugh here).

I'll admit the idea of soaking my sink in bleach for an hour had no appeal to me but as I read further about removing the rust in the creases around the sink, I sprung into action. I pulled out an old toothbrush and started scrubbing down my sink. Granted my sink didn't shine when I was done, but it looked really, really clean. Perhaps the cleanest it's ever been since we bought the house. Better yet when I woke up the next morning a bit groggy from my late night cleaning spree, I was instantly energized by my super clean sink and tidy kitchen. Maybe just maybe Flylady has something here...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Things About Me

Part of living a focused life is knowing who you are and what you believe in. I had a lot of fun filling this out. Enjoy!

  1. I ran a marathon and it honestly didn't feel that long. Until the next day when I couldn't walk. Half marathons are the way to go.
  2. I tore my ACL and MCL during the Stowe Derby, a race only for crazy people (it's a downhill slash cross country course that starts on top of a mountain and you can only wear your itty bitty, no edges, cross country skis).
  3. I've lived abroad in both Sweden and Sri Lanka.
  4. At one point I could speak French, German, Swedish, and Sinhala. Now I barely speak English. :)
  5. I do not think credit cards are the devil- I believe people are raised in a culture that can't do math and has no respect for the numbers.
  6. I'm not a phone talker as my family and east coast friends will confirm. I'll probably pick up if you call me, but I'm not one to initiate calls. I'm much better at email or meeting in person. (So just hop on a plane and come visit!)
  7. I want to love cooking but it stresses me out. If it requires more than one pan, forget it. I do, however, love baking. I could bake all day or until I pass out from all the taste testing!
  8. My husband taught me to love Johnny Cash.
  9. I'm not a big soda or juice drinker. It's water or if I'm feeling frisky ...Vitamin Water!
  10. I need exercise and yoga to keep me sane. I'm a naturally anxious and stressed out person!
  11. I love Indian food!
  12. Ceasar Millan is one of my heroes. Not just because of his way with dogs but with people too. He is a true leader and I've read all 3 of his books.
  13. I told my husband I'd never marry a cop and 2 months before our wedding he signed on with the local PD. Yet, I still married him so I guess that makes me a liar.
  14. I fall asleep during movies- at home, at a friend's house, in the movie theater, and it doesn't matter what time of the day.
  15. I think my dogs are my kids because well they are! lol
  16. I can't relax in cluttered or cramped spaces. When I'm stressed out the first thing I do is clean, it's amazingly therapeutic.
  17. I have 2 rescued pit bull type dogs but it's the boston terrier you have to look out for!
  18. I have a Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language and I used it for less than a year before changing careers.
  19. If you asked me what I do now, I'd have a hard time describing it. It's a cross between marketing, communications, and project management for a merchant processing company. Don't ask how I got here from teaching. :)
  20. I'm a professional delegater. I love to plan and organize things but want other people to do the dirty work. At times I think I've found the perfect job.
  21. My favorite color is red although there are times when I think it is hideous. I guess that's the Gemini in me coming out.
  22. I'm a proud police wife in a community that thinks the world doesn't need cops.
  23. I prefer to spend my Friday nights at home with my dogs watching Netflex.
  24. I have no qualms about drinking alone (you won't either if you spent most of your married evenings by yourself).
  25. I've been a vegetarian since 2002 but occasionally eat fish at restaurants if my only other option is fries and a salad.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Okay so this may not be finance related but aren't my dogs cute!

Bonus- I made the image with free shareware! Photoshop just is't in the budget for awhile.

Check out The Simple Dollar's shareware lists for Windows and Macs.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Monthly Recap- Jan 2009

January 2009 was our best month to date!

Even through our income to expenses wasn’t as high as other months we had the lowest expenditures to date! I'm very proud of DH and I for how frugally we started off the year!


  • Our phone bill was up $7 mostly because I’ve been texting and sending pics to the family- I guess that's acceptable :)
  • Groceries went up $80 which is to be expected when you stop eating out
  • Porter had his annual vet exam- good bye $90
  • All 3 dogs got worms- $137 for fecal exams and medicine. Double yuck!
  • Restaurant budget down $130!
  • Extra $400 went toward paying down my variable rate student loan
  • Doubled our weekly automatic payment to savings account
  • No money spent on clothes, hobbies, or items for the house!
We are on target for an April 2009 for the bathroom remodel!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tax Time!

With a glass of wine in hand, I finished my taxes in a record breaking 2 hours sans tears! Yes, the keyboard was a bit blurry at times and I had 3 W2s to enter because of our dear failed bank but at least I had W2s to enter. I made it through and I'm getting some money! It's amazing how each year it gets just a little bit easier even though my tax life gets a little more complicated (marriage, mortgage, ect.). I would like to take this opportunity to thank Turbo Tax Deluxe- you are amazing!

Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that the state has enough money to give me my refund! I am a little bitter that we might get an IOU for money that I worked hard for and is rightfully mine. I'm thinking it's time to change my allowances on the good ole W4s.

Bathroom remodel here we come!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I'm an abstaining, half habiter

My biggest goal for 2009 is to establish better habits and to be more disciplined. My plan is to tackle 5 daily expectancies a month, repeating them as necessary until I feel like they are a true habit (in other words- an automatic action requiring little physical thought to complete).

Here's some good habit forming motivational reading-
2 Simple Ways to Form New Habits without Really Trying I like the idea of a half habit. I used the wii fit as a half habit to get me back into exercising daily and it worked like a charm.
Your Happiness Project: Do Something EVERY DAY I do find it much easier to do something everyday than 3 times a week and I have the exact same conversations in my head as Gretchen!
Quiz: Are you a Moderator or an Abstainer? I'm definitely an abstainer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

3 Weeks Make a Habit

I've heard it takes 3 weeks to make a habit and only 2 days to break it. Meaning if you concisously do something everyday for 3 weeks it will become a routine for you that requires little effort to get done. However, if you get busy and skip the habit 2 days in a row it requires more effort to get back on track.

At the beginning of the year I created 5 daily expectancies to get me back on schedule. I gave a progress report a week later identifying some of my difficulties. It's been over 3 weeks and I'm proud to report I've got some new habits! Which also means it's time for some new ones for February.

Progress Report

  • Daily dish duty is an official habit. A few nights ago I fell asleep watching tv before I washed the dishes in the sink. A whiny dog woke me up at midnight and as I let him out the back door I saw dishes in the sink. I couldn't go back to bed until I did them! It only took 2 minutes and when I woke up the next morning it felt great to have a clean kitchen!
  • Making the bed is an official habit. It's so important now that DH and I have limited the dogs' access to our bed. Only Porter is allowed in the bedroom because his kennel is there. No more doggies playing on the bed keeps it nicely made and is also doggy hair free which is a bonus.
  • Excercising everyday is almost an official habit. I've switched up the wii fit to My Fitness Coach (still a wii "game"). It's more challenging and I'm doing it every weekday morning, but it's not quite automatic yet. I'm keeping this a focus for February.
  • Walking the dogs is in the same boat- I'm doing it every work day morning but it still takes some concious effort and self talk to get me out on those cold rainy mornings.
  • Cooking 4 times a week is well, not there yet. We are eating at home every night so depending on your definition of "cooking" you could say I'm meeting this expectation. I'm revising this goal for February to be more specific.
  • Cleaning calendar has yet to be created. I think I bit off more than I could chew for January. 5 goals a month is probably my limit since I didn't even think about this goal all month.
February Goals
  • Excercise every weekday so it's automatic and requires no thinking when I get out of bed.
  • Walk the dogs every work day so it's automatic and requires no thinking in the morning.
  • Cook at least 2 meals a week and have food available and prepared for eating at home the other nights.
  • Create a cleaning calendar for regular weekly, monthly, and quarterly cleaning.
  • And a new one: organize mail daily by immediately throwing away junk mail and putting bills to pay in the designated spot.
How are your resolutions coming along?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

What's Your Debt to Income Ratio?

I always find it interesting how people often exclude mortgages and student loans as part of their "debt." I hear people say woohoo I'm done paying off my debt and I think to myself -Really? You've paid off that mortgage you took out a year ago?

For some reason we distinguish worth while debt like a student loan or mortgage as not real debt and only count things like car loans and credit card debt as true debt (although I also know people who don't count car loans as debt either).

The hard truth is that if you owe money to an entity you are in debt. I stumbled upon a helpful article explaining how to calculate your debt to income ratio. It's actually quite easy. Add up all your monthly minimum debt payments and divide that by your monthly income and voila- your debt to income ratio.

Anything over 40% is considered not healthy. Under 30% is excellent and 30-36 is pretty good. DH and I weigh in at 43.6%- ouch!

I think it's our 2 car payments that do us in. We both got "new" cars last year and are not even close to paying them off. I was extremely uncomfortable buying 2 cars so close together but my car was on death's door and once I got a gentle used car, DH "needed" his fancy new truck. I wish that I had started my financial challenge just a few months earlier last year so I could have avoided this "mistake." I'll mark this down as a lesson learned to follow my gut.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And the Numbers Say...

We got the quote from the contractors and I was pretty right on in my guestimate although I was secretely hoping that DH would be closer. Further evidence that DH doesn't quite get the full value of money and probably why I handle the all the finances. But that's not what I wanted to write about.

The quote is significantly more than what we have currently saved up. I'm glad scheduled the appointment and got the quote because we needed that kick in the pants to start seriously saving. We had hoped to have the remodel done in April but with this number we might have to push it back a few months so that we can afford to do everything that needs to happen.

I'm a little disappointed about the set back but hope to use this as motivation to get back on the wagon.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Monthly Recap- Dec 2008

I'd like to say I closed out 2008 on a high note but with the holidays and all the gift giving and over indulging, I closed out 2008 on a middle note. DH and I have a savings, which we are desperately trying to grow for our 2009 Bathroom Remodel project. I'm happy to say that in the later half of the year (around the time I started this blog) our contributions steadily increased and that continued all the way through 2008. I was even able to double our weekly contribution so I'm pretty stoked about that.

The sad news is there weren't many financial highs for December 2008:

  • DH got a raise for completing his first year with the department.
  • We doubled our weekly contribution to our savings account.
The lows for December were numerous and stem from a general bleeding of the wallet syndrome. I guess it's true that when I loss focus, I really lose focus. Go big or go home... (inside joke sorry)
  • $500 for holiday gifts.
  • $100 more than last month's already inflated eating out numbers. Bring this down will be our top goal for February.
  • $100 more on entertainment. I have to admit we had a fun month and I don't regret this little splurge.
  • $215 at Target, which is over $150 more than the previous 2 months. This was disappointing to see on paper.
The good news is DH and I are committed to our 2009 Bathroom Remodel project and we also really want to go on vacation again (hopefully in 2009 also but depends on how much the remodel costs). At least there are lots of places to trim the fat and start plumbing up that savings account!

Monday, January 19, 2009

No More "Treats"

We're half way through the first month of 2009 and I'm not sure that I've made as much progress on my mindset as I would have liked. True I'm making the bed in the morning, washing all the dishes at night, working out with the Wii and My Fitness Coach for 30 min every week day, but I still feel like I'm cheating the system.

A while back I admitted that my biggest challenge for 2009 was discipline and avoiding the guilty escapes of treating yourself. I have a confession to make- I'm still indulging in those little treats.

I had big plans to work out in the evening but ended up having to take work home. Instead of making time for both, I "treated" myself with a pass card to the work out so I could do my work and still watch tv. Lame.

The next night I had to make a special trip to the local feed store for my dogs' special food, because it is slightly out of my way I "treated" myself to a frozen pizza that night because I got home from work late and shouldn't have to also then cook. Pathetic.

It seems to be a regular theme for me -if anything out of the ordinary happens, I make it into an excuse to "treat" myself. But it's never really a treat just an excuse to be lazy and undisciplined.

Any suggestions on how to stop this?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Progress Report

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m working on creating a more disciplined (or structured) schedule as I think it will help get me in the right mind set I need to accomplish my 2009 goals (to be disclosed in a future post). I’m taking baby steps to ease my way in since I’ve been pretty fast and lose with a lot of my household chores and what not. I’ve started off with little things to help me keep a cleaner house which also reminds me to balance out my work life by putting my home life at a higher priority.

Progress Report-

  1. Wash dishes every night. This is going quite well and by doing the few dishes we have every night, I never have that daunting pile of dishes that overflows from the sink to the counter. The bigger plus is since the kitchen is always clean, DH has started washing his plates occasionally! Must be the guilt of being the only dirty dish in the sink!
  2. I’m making the bed every morning. Granted my dogs mess it up all day long but every time I go into the bedroom I straighten the sheets. Again it only takes a few minutes and it makes me feel better about myself.
  3. I’m getting into my morning wii fit routine and I’ve even tossed in two other games to help keep me active in the evening (My Fitness Couch and Ski and Shoot) I’ll be sure to review them in a future post.
  4. I’m making walking my dogs a priority. I live in a very small house and 3 hyper dogs is never a good things. We are all a little calmer if we take the dogs for a walk in the morning- I just need to tough out the rain.
  5. I still need to work on the cooking 4 times a week I think last week I cooked twice. And by cooking I mean making an actual meal verse throwing veggie burgers in the frying pan and calling it a meal if you catch my drift.
  6. And the cleaning calendar still needs to be created so I've got some work to do this weekend!

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year Resolutions

In the spirit of the season I've been spending some time reflecting on my past, present, and future and have realized that while I use to be proud of my accomplishments and life, I'm really not that excited about the person I am right now. I think the biggest thing is that I strive on structure and as I've gotten older I've had less and less structure provided externally and more and more has to be internally motivated. So my New Year's resolution is to lead a more structured life and to stop making excuses for why I should be given "a break" just this once.

I read this article at the Happiness Project and it really hit the nail on the head. When I have a bad day I think that is a good excuse why I shouldn't have to do the dishes that night. But the reality is I will actually feel better if I just buckle down and do the dishes. Cleaning makes me feel better but I come up with excuses while I shouldn't have to do it. I don't know if this makes any sense to you, but it was an epiphany for me.

I've started a list of the following daily expectations and are tracking them in my daily planner:

  1. I will cook at least 4 meals a week for DH and I.
  2. I will use the Wii fit (or other wii excercise game) at least 15 mins 5 days a week.
  3. I will walk my dogs at least 15 mins 5 times a week.
  4. I will do the dishes daily.
  5. I will start a cleaning calendar for weekly chores.
I 'm sure there are other things that I will add but this is what I'm starting out with and once they start becoming habit I will add some new ones.