Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes....(and lessons learned)

Saturday, June 30, 2012
    I love David Bowie....I wanted to be Jareth from Labyrinth for Halloween in 3rd grade. Mom said no, I think I was a telephone instead. Kind of like the time I went to the pet store to buy a bearded dragon and somehow mom convinced me bringing home a bunny was a better idea. Apparently my mom doesn't like glam rockers or scaly reptiles.

   I officially have 4 more days at my current job, lots of emotions involved in that. Nerves, anxiety, and excitement to name a few. I also struggle with a little bit of guilt because they haven't hired anyone to replace me yet and my boss has been so great that I hate to feel like I'm leaving her in a lurch.

   I got a call about this great opportunity nearly 2 months ago. I was nervous about my job situation, thinking my position was going to be eliminated so when this came up it was great timing. I applied, interviewed and was hired! Starting on July 9th I will be the new Box Office Manager. Pretty snazzy! Being paid to work in a theatre? I thought I'd have better luck hunting a Sasquatch.

   One of the best parts? The benefits are awesome and the pay is quite a bit more than what I'm making now. Who could really say no to 4 weeks of vacation/year and a pay increase? Also we're closed on holidays. It is salaried so some weeks I'll probably end up working more than 40 hours, especially during festivals and big shows but I'm cool with that.

  So what have I learned from my past two years working at my job? I thought I should share some life lessons with you all.

 Bingo is a contact sport. 

You mean you didn't know this? Yeah I didn't either. Taking another players bingo seat is akin to taking the old Baptist lady's pew. You just don't want to go there.

Most verbal filters are gone. 

My first day I was asked (in a very southern voice) 
"Honey, are you PG?" 
"Excuse me?"
"Are you pregnant?"
Granted, this lady was a nurse during WWII and was definitely a Nosy Nancy but this was not a great first impression. Of course the next day she had forgotten about it but I was still a little cranky. Since then I've heard just about everything people think in their heads but never have the gall to say. I guess once you reach a certain age it doesn't matter anymore! So pretty much they're like Sophia from Golden Girls.
You learn to how to REALLY search for things

*ring ring*
"Good morning this is Sunny how can I help you?"
"We can't find mom's teeth"
"I'll be right down"
They were in her shoe, wrapped in a napkin, under the bed.

Now for the mushy stuff

Somewhere between serving snacks, taking them grocery shopping, and hunting for teeth and hearing aids you really grow to love these people. Even those with a seemingly gruff exterior just want to be loved and treated like a human being. I am really going to miss them.

Getting on Track

Thursday, June 28, 2012
  Last month we signed up for an account with I've been playing around with the budgeting tools this week. We've been setting up specific budgets for some things but for others we kind of just "guesstimate" so we don't know exactly where every dollar is going.

We're still in the "Hey we're newlyweds! We have 2 incomes! Let's buy new lights for our bicycles!" stage of our lives. We haven't really made any stupid purchases but we have bought some things that we don't need.

While plugging in our stuff on the budget we ended up with some leftovers. When I clicked that I was finished it said "Wait! You don't have a zero-based budget!". The Total Money Makeover says that you should have a zero-based budget each month, so that you know where each dollar is spent. To be quite honest...I kind of don't want to know!

 I've always been intimidated by money and let it control me instead of me controlling it. There have been a few times where I've been like "hmm I haven't checked my balance for awhile, I should probably do that" then log on, make sure I'm not broke and log out quickly (side note: Hey mom! I know this is irresponsible, sorry about that!). 

I think this is because if I know where I'm spending all of my money I'm accountable to it, and I'm not good at that! 

So tonight I'm going to suck it up and import our bank transactions file and match it up with our budget from June and see where we stand. After all, you can't make an accurate budget if you don't know what you're already used to spending.

Our weekly grocery bill: week of 6-24-12

Tuesday, June 26, 2012
  So I'm sure reading about my grocery shopping is a thrilling experience :) It does help me keep tabs on where our money is going, I hate keeping receipts!
 This week I tried something a little different but I think it was pretty unsuccessful. I downloaded all of the sale ads for our stores and marked down everything we use that was on sale. I know a lot of people buy whatever is on sale but I'm super picky so we really don't need like a cabinet full of tuna fish if no one is going to eat it, even if it was $.10/can!

   Kroger did have a sale on Ronzoni Pasta half price @ 10/$10 so we bought 3 boxes. Since it's just the two of us it takes us about a month to go through a box so we should be set for awhile. Total Savings: $3
  Their crescent rolls were also on sale at 10/$10 so I grabbed 3 of those, we eat them every 2 weeks or so. I thought that was a pretty good deal. Savings: $2.61

  Cheese....dude we eat so much cheese. Well we don't even really eat it, I think I've just started stockpiling it since it's been on sale the past few shopping trips. It seems like every time I buy it it's like $3.29/8oz so we now have a pile of cheese. Good thing it lasts a long time! This round I bought 2 8oz packages for $1.64 each.

  Chicken! Purdue boneless skinless chicken breasts were on sale for $1.99lb. I picked up a pack for $3.50 and I should be able to stretch it out into 3 meals for us.

 My Kroger receipt shows that we saved $18.03 with the loyalty card. Not too shabby!

Here's the rundown:

Honey Nut Cereal    1.59
Crushed Tomatoes    .99
Coffee Filters            .99
Cucumber                 .39
Spinach                   1.69
Garlic                        .99
Cantaloupe                .99
Celery                     1.19
Strawberries              .99 (x3)
Ibuprofen                 1.99
Frozen Blueberries    2.49
Potatoes                      .65
Stewed Tomatoes        .59
Canned Soup            1.39 (x2)
Plums                        1.65

Total                          21.94

Green Apples       2.90
Bananas               1.32
Grapes                 2.97
SobeLifewater      1.00
Vinegar                1.24
Yeast                   1.48
QuesoMelt           3.78
Bread                   1.98

Total                    $16.67

Tortilla Chips         1.00 (x2)
Ice Cream Pint       2.00
Greek Yogurt           .80 (x5)
Tomatoes                 .69
Crescent Rolls        1.00 (x3)
Orange Danish       1.00  (x2)
Cheese                   1.64 (x2)
Tomato Sauce           .28
Ragu-Tomato         1.77
Ragu-Alfredo          1.77
Pasta                       1.00 (x3)
Vanilla Yogurt          1.99
Chicken                    3.50
Milk                          2.98
Toaster Pastries         1.39

Total                        $37.96

Weekly Total: $76.57

I can't decide if stocking up on things is worth it, Phillip gets it and is cool with buying a 72 pack of toilet paper or 25lb bag of flour if it's cheap compared to the smaller units. He knows we'll use it eventually. I on the other hand am perfectly content to buy the $.99 4 pack of toilet paper every week because the initial cost is smaller.

For next month I am going to add more to our grocery budget because we seem to keep going over our weekly limit of $50. I think I'm going to up it to $75/week and hope that having more food in the house keeps us from going out so often or stopping by the store more than once/week (more on that in another post).

How do you budget for groceries? Any money-saving tips that we aren't utilizing? Please share!

New To-Do: Budget Vacation Planning!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012
   After the wedding was over I was honestly kind of bummed, we looked forward to it for 7 months and then poof, it was over! I've not really been in the mood to do any crafts/jewelry to sell on my Etsy site and I really needed something to look forward to.

  For the past 4-ish years vacation has meant going home to Missouri, which can be fun but is also stressful. Trying to make sure you see everyone, spend time with family and friends and make everyone happy can be exhausting! So we decided since we didn't really take a honeymoon we're going to take a vacation. I'm pretty excited!

So we chose our destination: Charleston, SC. It seems like everyone around here has been there so it seemed like a good idea. I've been looking around at places to stay and downtown Charleston is super expensive.

 Except I found an awesome bargain.

Enter: the NotSoHostel.(
I've never stayed at a hostel but I mean by the looks of the name it can't be that bad! We can stay in a private room for $60/night. Way cheaper than a hotel in the historic district! I was nervous that it would be one of those deals where it was per person/night but I e-mailed them and it isn't! We'd also be able to use the kitchen which will help out, budget vacations are possible after all!

I'm also looking up free/cheap things to do as we plan our itinerary. I'll keep you posted!

Menu and Grocery List for the week of June 17th

Monday, June 18, 2012
   This week we came in right under our food budget! We were under by $1.61! But we were out of some household supplies that added up pretty heavily.

 Our menu for this week was pretty simple, also trying to use up things we had in the kitchen already.

Monday: Panini's (easy to grab and go, we're bike riding tonight!)
Tuesday: Manicotti
Wednesday: Enchiladas
Thursday: Baked Chicken Tenders/Baked Potatoes
Friday: Whatever Phillip wants to make, I'm going away on a women's retreat!

We usually head to Aldi first, we have our staples that we get there and then go to Wal-Mart or Kroger for the remainder of the list.

Cucumbers 2x.39
Oranges 1.49 (3lbs)
Fresh Chicken Tenders $3.44 ($1.99/lb)
        *I've never shopped their meat department but this was a pretty decent price so I thought we'd give it a    
Toilet Tissue $4.99
Frozen Peaches: $1.99
Mozzarella Cheese: $1.79
Greek Yogurt: $.89 (x2)
Vanilla Yogurt $.39 (x5)
Skim Milk $2.89
Neufchatel $1.19
Romaine  $1,99
Strawberries: $1.69
     Total: $29.66

    Red Grapes  $3.06
    Bananas   $1.23
    Cantaloupe $1.78
    Special K - Vanilla Almond $2.50
    Dannon Greek Yogurt $1x2
   French Bread $1.60
   Bagels: $2.50
   Whole Grain Waffles: $2.98
   Potatoes $1.00
     Total: $18.65

Grocery Total: $48.31

I'm going to try a new strategy for my grocery shopping next week. Well new to me, it's how mom has pretty much always shopped. I've already pulled up the sale ads from each store we buy groceries and I'm working on making the menu around those items, then trying to find coupons to make it even cheaper. We'll see how it goes!


What to do when your car breaks down...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

 Up until recently I drove a 2 door '97 Pontiac Grand Am, her name was Gypsy Anne. She was a good car, good gas mileage, relatively comfy. No air conditioning and the heat left something to be desired. But she got me where I needed to go.

I noticed that she had started running a little hot, we added some coolant and that made her quiet down for about a week. Then we took her on our honeymoon. we honeymooned in the mountains....up a really steep hill.

The Monday after we came back I was driving to the dentist after work and she just keep over heating. So me, being the drama queen that I am went through these steps:

  • Yelling at the car (didn't work)
  • Crying trying to make it to a spot where I could pull over, I was convinced it was going to blow up on me.
  • Finally pulled over.
  • Called my dad.
  • Quickly realized "oh I'm married now and my dad is 500 miles away".
  • Hung up.
  • Called my husband at work. No answer.
  • Called the front desk of his work still trying to pull myself together.
  • Finally got him to get off work and come get me.
  • We slooooowly drove it to Pep Boys and had them inspect it. We had to stop twice so it could cool down a bit. 
  • Got a phone call around 8:15 that the cost to fix it would be $1300.
  • Jaw hit the floor. 
Apparently my intake manifold was busted, all of my hoses needed to be replaced, and my water pump was bad. Now this car had 284,000 miles on her. She lived a good life,  but have I mentioned I don't like change?

So Phillip and I spent the next day or so trying to figure out what to do. Do we fork out the money to just have it fixed only to have something else go wrong soon? Do we try to sell it and buy a new car? Do we try to sell it and buy an old car?

We ended up selling to some junker place for about $400. Looking at new cars and the low payments was reaalllly tempting. We were looking at a Chevy Aveo that was about $8,000. Then we listened to some Dave Ramsey, got our senses about us, and set about looking for used junkers.
So it happened one of the men I work with buys used cars and fixes them up to sell. Just what we needed! He kept telling me how ugly this car was and I kept trying to convince him I didn't care! I took it for a drive, Phillip took it for a drive, and we bought it! 

I think we kind of went backwards, it's '95 Nissan Maxima with crazy amounts of hail damage and scratches where it looks like someone had tried to buff it out. But it's 4 doors with A/C, a sun roof, and a CD player lol. It still has about 185,000 miles on it but after asking around I found out that apparently Nissan's can go forever if you keep up the maintenance. It also gets about 24mpg, not too shabby! 

So instead of taking out a loan for a nice car that would run well and get good gas mileage, we bought a car that we paid for in cash, which was kind of empowering. This was our first major purchase as a married couple and I have to say we did pretty well! It seemed like a really crummy way to start our first week as a married couple and I think for us it was a big hurdle to overcome and we succeeded!