Friday, October 10, 2014


So. I have to give kudos and thanks to a blog I stumbled upon the other day, called And Then We Saved (blogger Anna Newell Jones).  She totally motivated me to want to make a significant change in my relationship with money (and the black cloud of student loans that hangs over my head). She paid off a ton of debt in one year by going on a Spending Fast; she also talks of a Spending Diet, which I'm thinking about starting once I have a chance to wrap my head around it.

Anyway, this week's money saving efforts:

Worked from home a few days this week, saved on mileage/gas

Brown bag lunched other days!

Recycled brown paper grocery bags for an art project I'm currently involved in

Borrowed ebook 'Your Money or Your Life' from the library, to get a little motivation/learnings under way

Saved/washed/dried Ziploc bag I brought one of my brown bag lunch sandwiches in to be used at another time

Had oatmeal for breakfast this morning in order to use browning bananas and not let them go to waste (though I do try to always freeze any bananas that are on the edge if I'm able to catch them at a reasonable time)

At the last minute, saved a plastic yogurt container from going in the garbage! Washed/put away

Turned unecessary lights off as I noticed them on/trying to make a more conscious effort to do this!

Ate leftovers instead of just pushing the Tupperware to the back of the fridge as I might do otherwise (therefore letting it go to waste).

Made/making food for a friends visit (that will last beyond her visit) instead of going out to eat at a pricey restaurant!

Kept to my list at the grocery store and shopped the lowest prices/sought out the store flyer.
My store-card missed getting swiped through at the right time, so it didn't get counted. I then waited at customer service to get $1.46 back. Ha! Normally I would have just said 'oh well, next time...and eaten the loss (literally). Hey, it's $1.46!

Confession: At the grocery store, I bought ice cream, which was not on my list, so here's me trying to rationalize:
A) I bought a quart instead of those little individual portions that I usually buy
B) I bought a flavor my boyfriend also likes so at least we'll both benefit from the purchase!
C) I bought store brand which was a lower price than the other name brands.

I'll learn.

Speaking of learning, the other night I did an exercise where I added up the money I spent on groceries in each of my last two billing periods. It was absolutely astounding. I don't have the details of each item I bought at this point, (but I have created a space for my receipts and will be reviewing these at the end of the month for better understanding of exactly where my money is going in the future). Anyway, while groceries are fine and necessary, obviously, I have a bad habit of going to the store multiple times in one week, perhaps for an item or two (and of course leaving with 7 or 8, see my ice-cream rationale above). I have another bad habit of going to a particularly expensive grocery store chain for a lunch-salad once in a while and then browsing around the store afterwards, always finding just a few more items for the week... This habit is a) unnecessary and financially wasteful and b) just an ineffective way to 'relax' - the browsing, looking at new items maybe, or just attractive packaging, etc. I AM that consumer who is suckered into something that 'looks good'. I do pay attention to prices (though at this store, this is a pointless endeavor, no matter what you do, as everything is overpriced anyway, even the 'cheaper' items) but have  definitely gotten a bit too casual when it comes to what I really can afford.
The point of my story is that I will seriously be able to cut my grocery bill in half by not engaging in the multiple trips/mindless browsing and spending/buying lunch at work 2-3 times per week. I'm sure I'll find even more ways to save if I just put a little effort in and try to stay aware. Sounds easy, though I'm sure I'll report back and let you know just how easy it really isn't.

I'm excited about trying to make a change, so I thought I'd just stick a little post up here. Not to mention, I will probably need a place to organize my thoughts as I learn, adapt, struggle, and succeed...

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Happy First Day of Autumn!

This is it for me. I absolutely adore this time of the year. October is right around the corner, and I am so ready. Bring on the pumpkins, apples, flannel shirts, harvest scented candles, and crisp, cool air! I'm trying to hold off on my first pumpkin flavored something for another couple of weeks. Typically I get started on the pumpkin craze early and have overdone it way before the season ends!

We treated ourselves to two nights in the Green Mountain State this past week, after a summer saturated with love and loss. We needed to get away and hold each other close, and no better place to do it in our eyes, than Vermont!

We spent our getaway in the southern part of the state, an area new to me. Though I spent my college years in northern Vermont and still make the trek once a year (at least) to our beloved cabin and university town, somehow in my travels I've simply whizzed past this part! Boy, was I missing a lot. It is so beautiful in the surrounding areas of Dover, Newfane, Wilmington, and Brattleboro.

Note: The Brattleboro Food Co-Op is to die for. The endless bulk aisles...

I'm so glad that Vermont has stayed a part of my life, so many years after I finished my undergraduate schooling.  The cabin is the main reason this has been possible, and we look forward to going there every holiday season (just a couple of months away! Cabin countdown begins). It was fun to explore a new area and balance our sense of familiarity and home that we have at the cabin with some adventure, tourism, and total relaxation (no cooking or cleaning!)

Living is simple (I didn't say easy!) up there in the country, and so much of the day to day involves love and respect for the outdoors. It's clear how this lifestyle shapes the value system and allows for a more natural existence in the world, and this is what really draws us in. There is a connection, a sense of belonging and meaning that we struggle to find where we live now.

Just a couple of months and we'll be back up that way, enjoying the holidays in a snow covered cabin! We can't wait!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Planning in the Present

I think Bob and I are rounding the corner towards something really, really good.  To pull it off will require organization, discipline, creativity, patience, motivation, and the ability to stay true to ourselves and our dreams. Staying present, too, is a task that has to be done in order to plan for the future,  even though it sounds contradictory (and is one of my biggest struggles). I guess how it plays into our 'plan' is being able to slow down, stay, and see the bigger picture. Having a plan is one thing, how that idea resonates with me right now is even more exciting.

I'm reading a really great book that I just happened upon at the library the other day. It's called Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment (by Katrina Kenison). It's about seeking, but at the same time realizing what we already have inside and cultivating a life that is right for each of us.  I'd do a terrible job of describing it any more than that, and it will have more meaning for you if you discover the story for yourself. Show your library some love and have a look!

Many times when I find myself amidst the quiet of the day, a big fat case of the 'shoulds' creeps up on me. I 'should be' running, I 'should be' cleaning, I 'should be moving' All The Time. What a prison! This morning, as the cat sleeps under the bed and I sit and think and write, I'm realizing that I am doing enough. Right now, this moment. This is what I am doing.

I am (we are) constantly surrounded by doers. Doing is great! Lots of things Get Done. And of course, we can't 'do nothing' (which doesn't really exist, right?) all the time, but I'm talking about overdoing, overthinking, over scheduling. It's easy to think and feel that I'm not doing enough if I'm not baking cookies, running a marathon, making DIY holiday decorations, and putting together the perfect outfit all at the same time. This is what I need to get away from.  This is not me.

Sitting here listening to the rain, enjoying the quiet morning ... is.