Emotional check-in

Sometimes, I have realized, you just need an emotional check-in. Overall we have done really well in our spending freeze, for almost two full months, we have not spent anything outside of our budget and have not really missed out on anything. Granted let me be the first to admit, I probably couldn’t do it for an entire year, sometimes coffee therapy is needed and life is about the little things so I wouldn’t really want to; but for now I am very proud of where we are with it. We are making progress little by little and I am confident that over time we will see that change.

I had to do groceries this week, no meats needed, thankfully. The month-long menu helps great for this, but keeping up with breakfasts and lunches is usually a two-trip process. However we are keeping well with eliminating the random trips to the store and only shopping twice a month (mainly because milk does not last 30 days and we can only purchase so many gallons at a time).

Emotionally though, this last grocery jaunt left me a bit exhausted. I didn’t have the stamina I began with but I think it’s just that time in all of this. I am entering the steady part of the race. The excitement from the beginning is more at a plateau and the finish line is still a ways out. I just have to keep my music on and energy up, remembering to breathe when I forget. I apply this same metaphor to the upcoming memorial for my Dad, I just have to remember to breathe and continue my quick self-check-ins. All of these things take time. Healing and saving, neither happen overnight. For now, we work one month at a time. I’m looking forward to introducing you all to calendar day and some very exciting and frugal (of course) anniversary plans I have in store my hubby next week. The creative juices are flowing and I am ecstatic to share my secrets when it is time 😉

As always thanks for listening, ox

 

True Frustration

In the matter of all true rhyme and reason for even having a blog, I’m going to take a few minutes just to write and let a few things out, maybe even vent a bit, offering no excuse or apology.

As you know, we are really putting the rubber to the road to make change. We have been and we continue to but it’s incredibly frustrating to hit the roadblocks you thought you had gotten rid of. I logged into our bank account and at face value we seemed to be doing ok until I did the “what’s to come” calculations. We pay quite a few bills between the 20th and 28th of every month and with the exception of our rent all of our premium payments come out during this period. It quickly looked quite grim. ugh! Seriously..WTF! During my weight loss I read something like it takes 90 days for change to really be seen (I have no clue if this is true for all I know it’s a wikipedia fact but either way…sure, I’ll find use for that here). The silver lining is that we were able to make a final payment on one of our debts, so that is out-of-the-way. The remaining light is that the difference in the calculations is exactly what that double insurance payment cost us, so HOPEFULLY now the roadblock is out of the way- although I hesitate to say this with any true certainty.

To maximize this outlet, let me just say this week has been so very emotional so that may be where my little vent is rooted. I’m not sure why. I think that with our anniversary coming and father’s day vastly approaching I just miss my Dad so much. It often feels like a snowball that just keeps rolling, getting bigger and bigger. So, I guess it’s ridiculous to say I don’t know why I feel like this, of course I do. My Dad has only been gone for about 10 weeks and to most people their lives get to go on but when you are in the situation everything feels so much worse and nothing makes you feel better. I don’t expect anyone to know what to say and I think it’s fair to say most people don’t know what to say so they avoid it. This doesn’t help btw because sometimes you just want to talk about the person you love without feeling like you will make someone else feel uncomfortable. You get really good at going about your day and your business but then it just hits you- a slap in the face called reality and it sucks. It doesn’t matter if you had “time to prepare,” there is no preparation for losing a parent. And let me point out when you went on the roller coaster of he’s sick, he’s not sick, BS and the last conversation you had been he’s going home and he’ll be fine only to get a call 12 hrs later that he’s gone…this is NOT preparation instead it’s a sick game reflective of doctors ho have no idea what the hell they are doing. Now with all of this “venting” going on I can admit I feel guilty complaining in light of our nation’s events and my heart remains in Boston but let this be a lesson to me and to everyone not living in Boston, it will take so long for them to heal but we will all go on, or perhaps already have…but let us live with true compassion and empathy for this beautiful strong place and let us hold them tightly in our thoughts and prayers. Try to find the positive. For me, of course I have asked why, hundreds of times, I spend most evenings alone and peaceful moments are still filled with sadness, you can only imagine where my thoughts go BUT I stick to this… if I can pull out some positive, it’s to cherish family and I hope this teaches me the best way to be able to help offer comfort to those I love most when they enter this foreign territory of hurt.

In a moment of what I call weakness, I reached out to one my nearest and dearest earliest this week and let me close with her response to my why? “because life is hard and sometimes the parts we persevere through still bust out all at once” …true statement.

Run for Boston

A beautifully written piece from our cousin Lauren, a runner who was at the race on Monday and lives in Boston. She was the first person who crossed my mind and I’m so thankful she is okay. When things like this happen it’s not about money, or discounts, it’s about love. Here’s to you Boston.

The Running Carrot

The other day I wrote about the excitement of the Boston Marathon expo and the energy in the city that was getting ready for one of the most exciting races of the year. Runners spend years dreaming of qualifying. They pound the pavement for months for the anticipation of running Boston – the most prestigious race.

I was cheering at mile 24 yesterday afternoon, waiting for a friend to run by to cheer her on. Runners were asking spectators how the Red Sox were doing (they won). Runners of all ages from across the world were out there pushing through the pain, yet still smiling. They took the time to stop and give their friends and family a quick hug or a child a high-five. I cheered for strangers and felt inspired to run another marathon.

Twenty minutes later, my twitter feed went off – explosions at the finish line…

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No coffee money? No problem.

Getting back from vacation certainly can be a crazy time. I feel like the last week has simply flown by and yet my to-do list is still a mile long. The good news is that as we enter week three of April we are still going strong with the budget freeze. The EVEN BETTER news is the indulgence we have been able to take advantage of over the last week at exactly NO COST and only a little planning (which let’s be real, is my one of my favorite things to do!)

534778_607206692365_1819291441_nSo if you will, just call me Frugal ‘Freebie’ Fowler for this month. As mentioned in my bio I keep multiple,updated calendars and I use them for everything. Including making special notes of discount days and freebie events at local restaurants and area entertainment venues. You can imagine my excitement when I came back to my desk to find that free Iced Coffee day at DD circled on  my calendar and so was free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s although I wasn’t sure if NC would partake…but they did. However, the true icing on the cake here was free small premium coffee all.week.long. at Old Mc Donald’s.  The best part to all of these deals was that you can frequent as much as your heart desires. One per customer, per trip. Of course the coffee shops didn’t really adhere to these rules very well, thankfully. The whole week felt like Christmas! Okay, slight exaggeration here but when you love of Ben & Jerry’s and coffee  as much as I do, making it free can, and will, suit your fancy.

And, I am happy to say it didn’t end there. I was so excited about all of the free stuff, I also rented from Redbox using their code DVDONME giving us a free rental. They have multiple codes but can only be used one per credit or debit card. I believe REDBOX1 and BREAKROOM are some of the other codes but we had only used the first one. We don’t rent movies very often so we let Madz pick and Wreck it Ralph was awesome and I will say it is probably worth the $1.29 that one would normally pay.

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By the end of the week Brent and I had taken advantage of a free movie rental, 1 free Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzz cone (note to self: take the girls next year) for $4.50,  6 DD Iced coffees for $14.94 (relax, it was between the two of us…I only had 3) and 8 free small premium coffees (over the course of the whole week) that would have totaled $10.32 in coffee change. That adds up to about $32.oo~ in frivolous spending that did not cost us a single cent. Granted we probably wouldn’t have splurged on 6 coffees in a single day at DD had it not been for the promotion, but I guarantee we would have spent that easily in the month; and sure maybe the scoopshoppe isn’t a stop we make regularly, but it still would have easily been an afternoon treat back when we weren’t careful with our card swipes. Now I am happy to say that our focus is much more clear and the only important point is within the bottom line, and that for us remains at 0.00 spent. Very, very cool!

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Fun Tip: Watch your fliers, check out your local indy press, pay attention to what’s going on in those FB posts from your friends, and more importantly… WRITE IT DOWN!

 

March Month 1: Results

I fully admit I was a little nervous and still really excited to see how we did for our first month. Outright we knew that we didn’t spend not a single penny on anything not written into our budget. Willingly and firmly sticking to the not written, not gettin’ rule. And in this regard we had great success. That’s correct. No random stops for coffee, no eating out, not one quick trip to Subway for an easy dinner, nodda! To be honest, for the first month it actually wasn’t hard. Granted I’ll be the first to say doing it all year might be slightly more difficult; but to take it one month at a time. Brent and I can easily say, no problemo! So with this we knew we had saved $256 dollars from what we had expended in the month of February, when we embarrassingly (and unknowingly) were living at least $100 beyond our means.

Knowing this upfront, I anxiously logged into our bank account and cross referenced our payroll. On a side note, it’s oddly exciting and very satisfying to log into your joint checking and see only a single page of transactions for a full month, this including all checks and bills. Awesome, more success! So I began to work the numbers and all seemed to be as it should be, estimating that we would have $200 in money leftover from the month.

All seemed so positive and exciting, and the steps seemed to be in forward moving motion until the dreaded three steps back roadblock. My paycheck was 196$ less than we had anticiapted. WHAT.THE.HAY! At first this didn’t seem right, then I got that pit in your stomach aka: intuition that tells you when something is a certain way and I knew pretty quickly that we had missed something. But what? And why was my paycheck low? I’m a salary employee so that didn’t make sense, taxes maybe? No, that didn’t seem right? Then I looked and noticed that the amount they had taken out for my health insurance had doubled what we were expecting. The girls just got added over to my insurance policy and apparently the first month of enrollment you have to pay up double to cover the first month and then the following, because you pay at the beginning of every month. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. And of course how much, wait for it..$196. So, I suppose that says it all.

Although on a final note in the recap, we did not go into the red and are up $4 for the month. Not to mention our girls have good health insurance which is obviously huge. I am a big enough person to see the positive here and we can be happy with it.

P.S. We have decided to extend our no frivilous spending rule from March through the month of April. Remember our expenses on vacation, from start to finish, did not come from our living funds so there are no sneaky shortcuts happening behind the blogging scenes. Our next night out and out of budget expense will be a slight splurge for our 5 year wedding anniversary on May 3; and we are very much looking forward to it!

The Happiest Place on Earth

Resampled_2013-04-04_12-05-50_923Well, hello there. It’s been a while. How are you? The Fowlers are well. We had a wonderful trip to Central Florida. At 5:00p on Sunday night we walked through our front door, all very relieved to finally be home. Of course it was a wonderful vacation but as good as it is to get away it’s always so nice to come home and with money to spare. That’s right, we went on a ten day road trip vacation on a $600 budget and came home with $56. Granted, Grammy Karen and Aunt Robin spoiled the girls (and me) rotten however, I have no question in my mind that even without that we would have made it. There were tons of groceries so plenty of food to suffice all, we budgeted just right for gas, and Madz was allowed to pick one souvenir from the park each day. I brought coupons along (of course) for coffee and lunches at “Old” McDonalds that can really help stretch a budget.

Resampled_2013-04-04_21-18-11_377Here’s the recap, the little ladies and I traveled down last weekend to meet up with family then made the trip down to Tampa to spend Easter with my brother-in-law and I have to give a shout out to everyone who participated because it was definitely one of the best Easters yet. The girls had such a great time playing with their cousins and the weather was absolutely perfect. After the holiday we made our way over to the one and only DisneyWorld for 4 full-fledged Disney Days. The weather continued to be great, minus two brief storms, and we spent the peak morning and early afternoon hours exploring the parks and our afternoons by the pool. Brent joined us midway through the week and we rounded out the Disney portion of our trip with the parade of lights and fireworks. It was great fun and lots of fun memories with family and friends were made. Resampled_2013-04-04_19-10-23_214

After Grammy Karen and our GA family headed back home on Friday we spent the day exploring around where I spent much of my childhood and the first home my parents bought together. I may or may not have gone against a “do not enter” fence sign to check out the finished addition and the cement walkway. For some reason I thought  we had put our handprints down but sadly I couldn’t find them. Needless to say it didn’t look as I had remembered, I suppose that is to be expected; and the landscaping was all different. Somehow as an adult the yard didn’t seem as large and spread-out as in my memories and they had definitely cut down my favorite fort trees. Grrr. I digress, also on our trip I got to connect with my grandparents who live in FL. I had not seen them in a few years and I have missed them terribly. It was bittersweet to see them given everything that has happened but their hugs always make me feel better. On a lighter note, I thought we had just about made the whole visit at their museum/antique-esque home, filled with ceramics and collectibles, until as we were putting on our shoes to leave, Charlotte walked straight-on into a side table and sent a china dish filled with candy flying across the room. head.in.hands…I looked at Brent and said “so, close. we were so close” lol but my grandparents are awesome and of course weren’t phased in the least. After that we went and visited my oldest and dearest friend Tiffanie who had just had her third little blessing and that was all just icing on the cake.

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After our day of exploring we headed back to Tampa so we could spend a few extra days with Brent’s brother and family and he was so excited to watch the Final Four games with his big bro but unfortunately the tummy bug that went through all of us at the beginning of the week made it to him on Saturday so we just began our two day trek home. And a trek it was, it took us about 8 hours to get to Savannah after being stuck for a few hours behind a bad accident. So we stopped for the night and spent Sunday am walking along the riverfront and exploring the beautiful city that Paula Deen calls home. It was a great am but we were all so anxious to get home, this was proof by the look of my backseat once we arrived. It got to a point where I handed one child the grocery tote and the other child the cooler and then turned around. I didn’t want to see what they were eating or destroying I just wanted the screaming to stop. Brent and I were in our own little world as Charlotte continued to scream (without tears-we are talking toddler yelling) what was probably baby swear words at us. At one point they fell asleep then would wake up to yell and go back to sleep. We decided that if we just face front, make no sounds, and pretend like we are invisible they can’t hurt us. It was a fun ride. lol All kidding aside, it was truly a magnificent trip and the this face says it all.

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