Cash Budget-What We’ve Learned So Far

July

I am a big Dave Ramsey fan, Robert is a growing fan I think. When Robert asked if I wanted to consider starting cash budgeting with envelopes this summer, I was so excited!  With quitting my job in April and then suddenly getting pregnant, a good talk on our budgets was in order.  When I was working full time, basically Robert paid our living expenses and all my money went into paying down loans (Baby Step #2 in Dave Ramsey’s world… http://www.daveramsey.com/new/baby-steps/ ).

We were still able to pay extra into loans without me working, but not as much by far and we started to see our living expenses begin dwindling our nice emergency fund slowly. So starting in July we went to the cash envelope budgeting system for any variable expenses that we still had a maximum price set on our https://www.mint.com/ accounts. For us this included groceries/eating out (which we combined together), each of our personal spending accounts, home improvement fund, gas, and miscellaneous fund.

After our first month we were ecstatic! We actually had about $20-30 leftover to spare from all the accounts!!! And we saw our savings grow back since we had stayed within budget.

A Few Things We Learned After July:

  • It can be hard to remember to bring the envelopes with you as needed.
  • You’ll realize your paper budgeting isn’t always what you spend, we went over on gas and food but were able to use cash from other envelopes to make it work.
  • Cash budgeting was fun.
  • We both made willing sacrifices of part of our personal budgets to help the family budget out, which was a sweet concept instead of hoarding it for ourselves.
  • We did go on a family reunion camping trip and used our food budget to cover it, but our vacation budget to cover the extra cash.
  • We still had some online purchases to make (gifts for long distance friends, etc). So we decided to install a limited cash budget system for August.  See more below.

August

We left the total cash budget amount the same, but took out less cash since we’d had some extra after July.  We also moved our Miscellaneous and Home Improvement funds back to debit card only. Gas got moved to a credit card with bonus points we are responsible about paying off each month. Robert also just took half of his personal spending in cash and kept track of the rest on debit and paper.

A Few Things We Learned in August:

  • After feeling the pennies pinched in late July, we went a little crazy and ate out about four times in the first week of August which killed our food/eating out fund and made us a lot wiser the rest of the month. Grocery shopping for necessities (like milk, eggs, and veggies) can be a lot harder when you only have $11 left in your budget for the next ten days.  We ended the month for total cash in all our envelopes of less than $3 extra.
  • My sister and her best friend spent a weekend with us (they are entering high school) and we worked hard to plan events with coupons to accommodate their receptive love language of gifts but that cut our budget a lot too, we ended up using our personal funds a few times to help out.
  • We went on a trip to see my other sister at her summer job and take her home again and all of the expenses were on our vacation budget (separate from cash budgeting), though we packed as much sandwiches, leftovers, and fruit as we could to keep restaurant costs low.
  • Looking up deals helps! Robert loves going out for ice cream and one morning he commented that he’d like to go after dinner but I knew we didn’t have funds for Cold Stone or Frozen Yogurt. That very day, I saw a 50 cent ice cream cone deal at Burger King thru the rest of the month!  We went and had a nice time using our spare change.  We’ve gone three times since too before the deal runs out on the 31st.
  • We’re adding more to our gas budget thanks to a raise Robert got!
  • We both agreed it was hard to balance debit vs. cash systems. We will be going back to cash for Miscellaneous and Home Improvement next month and if we have to make debit purchases take the cash out of the envelope immediately at home and put it in next month’s cash stock.

Things We Ran Out Of This Month:

  • Butter (we resorted to olive oil and salt as needed instead, actually a much healthier option!)
  • Carrots
  • Gas ( we had to use any spare change, dollars in any of the envelopes to get through the  month even with the vacation weekend of gas on our vacation budget).
  • Strawberry jam
  • Sugar

But we made it for another month and are excited to start month number three tomorrow, and we definitely have a major shopping list!

Queen of Reading

I am a voracious and fast reader but I have heard that once kids come you either never read a book again, or read the same book for months before finishing.  I have decided I want to gorge on as many books as possible before baby comes just in case either of those options happen.  Luckily I live amongst the best library system in the states.

So I asked the three biggest readers in my life for suggestions, then added my own re-reads I want to go through again, and a few more baby related books I still want to read.  Check out my list and make your own suggestions.

Teej’s list for me * The Survivor Personality, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,  Markings,  Gravity and Grace , Infinite Jest, or Consider the Lobster, The Idiot, Reach for the SunThe Habit of Being.

RJ’s list for me * Girl in Translation, Glass Castle, re-read To Kill A Mockingbird, Dubliners, Anna Karenina, All The King’s Men, Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, IQ84.

Jen’s list for me * A Sense of the World, The Road, King Leopold’s Ghost, Operating Instructions.

My re-read list * And Ladies of the Club, Gilead, One Thousand Gifts, Stepping Heavenward, Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, Pride and Prejudice, Committed, Celia’s House 

My baby book list * One Year to an Organized Life with Baby

What would you add? How many do you think I can get through? I am aware that IQ84 is a bit daunting and may be saved till baby’s naptimes.

Getting Ready For Baby Etc.

As we are preparing our hearts for a baby, we are also working hard to prepare our home for all the things that come with a baby!

We are making a baby registry for friends and family but more importantly we are making room in our house before we even buy or receive anything.

We have a few key steps in process that we’d love to share with you.

1. Declutter like CRAZY. flylady.net is a great place to go for decluttering ideas.

  • Personally, we’re moving through one area at a time. We have about three large bookshelves, we scan through one at a time, each of us in order to find books we will never read again and would never recommend either.
  • Go through each of your clothes closets and drawers for anything you haven’t worn in over a year (fancy party clothes are my only exception). For pregnant women, this is a great time to revamp your closet. Get rid of clothes you won’t wear again as a mom or you’ve always hated. Don’t feel the need to fill your closet with maternity clothes totally either, since after your nine months you won’t find them attractive till another pregnancy.
  • Walk through your garage/storage areas separately and find what can be tossed, given away, or sold.  This also gives you time to look through what can be recycled or re-organized.
  • Go through your fridge and pantry and toss anything that has expired. This should be done every month at least, but now you have the time pre-kid.
  • Go through your kitchen drawer/cabinets. If you haven’t used a baking/cooking item in a year, it should probably go.  Even if you desperately wanted a bread maker for your wedding if you haven’t used it since your first year of marriage, a goodbye may be the best thing. Since we’re still in our first year of wedded bliss, we’re planning to do this after our anniversary but before baby’s arrival to see what we never used.

2. Organize like MAD.

  • This is the time to re-format your house as needed. Remember how when you moved in you put glasses here or there to try it out and they’ve stayed there for years now?  If that is not really the best place for the glasses to be, now is the time to move them, etc.
  • This gives you a chance to pull out any kids’ books you’ve been saving or were given on the same shelf, to organize first aid stuff together, etc.
  • Organize your desk/office spaces so you always know what drawer has stamps/envelopes/stationary, organize kitchen drawers so you always know where to find matches/candles/birthday candles, etc.  Store items that belong together, together!

3.  Clean like a newborn is moving in SOON.

  • You will have a sensitive baby moving into your house-sensitive skin, sense of smell, taste, hearing, touch, and sight. Cleaning your fridge coils, air filters, and carpets are good steps before baby moves in to keep the air as clean as possible.
  • Wipe your walls down if needed or in our case put the new coat of paint on a few months before baby is due so air has cleared.
  • Vacuum or clean your furniture as needed. This is the time to remove stains, clean up dog hair, etc before baby arrives.
  • If you’re feeling the nesting urge (which I  think has hit me this week) clean as much as you can while still taking care of yourself by keeping your heart rate below 140, staying hydrated, using safe cleaning products, and taking rests. I am desperate to clean my silverware drawer out today!

What else would you add?

Most Important Thing To Do Before Baby Arrives

You probably saw my over 80 item to-do list before baby arrives.  But there is one thing on the list that is my most important item in preparing before baby arrives.  It is being Godly parents.  If there was anything I could pass onto my child, besides its father’s good looks it would be our love for the Lord.  I want our child to know in any situation, joy or struggle, we turn to Christ for strength.  I want our child to trust God in all things, hope in all things, and love in all situations.

And we can’t pass that on unless we feel and trust the exact same way ourselves.

So I am working on building my bible reading and prayer times back up after a year of choosing to be too busy.  To start, we have over 150 days till baby arrives and we just started the 31 day month of August. I will be reading a Psalm a day, hopefully finishing before baby arrives and one Proverb a day for this month.

I had a really anxious first trimester with high HCG values (turns out we were farther along than anyone knew), low progesterone (having to go on supplements till week 12), and a lot of spotting.  I wish I had spent more time in prayer and trustful relationship with God, no matter what the outcome.  I don’t want to have that same regret the rest of this pregnancy now I am nearly 18 weeks along.

The best part of drawing closer to God is it enriches my life, our marriage, and our future child(ren).

From WritingRachel.com

To Do Before Baby Arrives List

I have read a ton of these lists, most are the same 7-10 items like buy a car seat, install it safely, etc.  None of them were comprehensive enough for the list-lover that I am.

So I made my own…feel free to read, use, add items for us!

write thank you notes
Book Babymoon
18 week checkup
Gender Test
Buy first gender outfit
go to amy’s for baby stuff
22 week visit

go on babymoon
decide on cord banking options
contact cord banking decision
go on babymoon
complete baby registry
clean out nursery closet
finish painting house
Paint room
26 week visit
Buy crib
Buy car seat
Buy stroller
Buy recliner
Put together crib
Put together car seat
Put together stroller
Connect stroller/car seat
Glucose Tolerance Test
clean nursery carpet
Decorate walls
buy cloth diapers
find pediatrician
declutter drawers all over house
Clean baker’s rack
Put crib, baker’s rack, bookshelf, and recliner in room
Halloween Party
30 week visit
celebrate anniversary
clean carpets
decorate bedroom
assess household needs
buy any assessed household needs
go on a bunch of dates
See SKYFALL
marriage conference
32 week visit
take baby prep class
Put car seat in car
34 week visit
buy christmas gifts early
buy stocking gifts
have a baby shower
thank you notes from showers
wash baby clothes/things
put clothes in room
put diapers/wipes in room
buy night light
make baby basket in bathroom
CPR class
get breast pump
buy two maternity bras
group B strep test-wk 35
install diaper washer
set up dirty diaper holder
make ten freezer meals
36 week visit
nonstress test-wk 36
get a last haircut
get eyebrows threaded
pedicure
massage
pack my hospital bag
pack robert’s
pack diaper bag
arrange dog sitters/food/leashes/keys
make email distribution list for labor/announcement
37 week visit
38 week visit
39 week visit
40 week visit
41 week visit
42 week visit

12 in 2012 Update (Plus Life Updates!)

Here’s what we started with and my notes along the way for progress:

RECIPES-
Souffle
Beef wellington
Fried chicken – I can’t fry food worth anything currently…We made this, it was great!  And we ate almost all of it in one sitting-oops!
Donuts – See above!
Sourdough bread-We made it and liked it a lot but need to work on keeping our starter alive longer to let the sour flavor really develop.
Santa Cake
Rainbow cake in jars http://pinterest.com/pin/131589620331893711/ For my b-day!-My sister made cupcakes for us instead, so I still need to  make jarred rainbow cakes.
Delicious cinnamon rolls!-Made Pioneer Woman’s recipe which was good.  Loved the allrecipes.com Clone of a Cinnabon one, and still have one more potato based recipe to make.

Mole

Paella
Macarons
Butter chicken-Made this twice and really loved it, working to perfect it now.
Swiss cake roll
Pavlova

DIY-
Laundry Detergent http://pinterest.com/pin/131589620331909043/ – Love it and have made more twice already!
Dishwasher Detergent http://pinterest.com/pin/131589620331909042/ – Hated it. Using it as a general house cleaner now, it left smudge, water spots, everything.
Toilet paper wreath-Collect and create http://pinterest.com/pin/131589620331870653/
Update dressers in bedroom-maps http://pinterest.com/pin/131589620331728622/
Fill and hang up all photo frames
Get canvas and poster framed and up – Just need to find time to put them up.
Halloween or thanksgiving pumpkins http://pinterest.com/pin/131589620331909866/
Plant a pot of potatoes – We should be harvesting within the next month!
Grow herb garden in San Antonio pots
Kill chickens http://www.ebeyfarm.blogspot.com/p/we-sell-chickens.html
Have a garage sale-Cancelled…
Rainbow wreath http://pinterest.com/pin/131589620331914457/ For my b-day!-We made a drink umbrella wreath instead!

EXERCISE-
100 days challenge http://100dayschallenge.org/ – Done first 100 days of the year!
Bike the Burke Gilman trail
Bike to church
Bike around bottom of lake
Bike around all of Lake Washington
Work up to 12 pullups
100 pushup challenge http://hundredpushups.com/
200 situps challenge http://www.twohundredsitups.com/
Couch to 5K completion http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtmlStarted and then we went to the East Coast on vacation and walked so much we chose not to run each day.  Then we returned….PREGNANT.  Needless to say, my health and exercise plans have changed a ton!  Remember how last year one of my life goals was to not have any crushes starting Jan 1st and then I ended the year married to the best man in the world?  This is a similar situation!
Run a 5K
Run 4 miles
Run 5 miles

On top of that, and our previous post’s dreams, I have a million other ideas, like…