Monday, February 27, 2017

Financial Peace University Week Three: Cash Flow Planning

**This post contains affiliate links that I may make a commission from.**

I know I'm behind on these posts for you again, but trust me when I say live has been INSANE. I have so much to catch you up on, so just stay tuned for it all.

During week three of our class, we focused solely on cash flow planning, or how we spend our money during the month. The key is to have an assignment, a plan, for every dollar that comes into your account every single month. You don't deviate from your written plan unless you actually consult that plan and figure out where that money is going to come from, but always being in step with your partner. Most of the time when you say "budget", people freak out and say there's no way they could live like that.

But you actually can if you simplify it. In class, the video mentioned it is going to take us three to four months to really get the hang of the budget. You are inevitably going to forget something (I originally forgot dog grooming because that happens every six weeks, but Matt and I decided we should put money aside for that every month just in case.)

I can't find a video for you this week, but on Dave Ramsey's website is all of the information on the zero based budget, including forms! Matt and I are using the Monthly Cash Flow Plan worksheet, I've printed enough for the rest of the year, and each month we are going to sit down and decide what we are going to spend in each category. And stick to it.

The next task is to set up your Money Envelopes. Categories like food, gas, household shopping (your Walmart or Target runs), entertainment, allowances, etc are things you would use the Money Envelope system for. I am going to set ours up in about a week and I'll share with you what we decided on.

The key about the envelope system is that it emphasizes that you need to feel your money leaving. Swiping your card doesn't give you that gut punch that you just spent money. Handing over actual cash gives you that but it also makes you make better choices on what you spend your money on. Do you want to spend another $5 on coffee or do you want to save it for something better?

The other thing that was a breath of relief is that it's not about punishing yourself. If you don't want to give up your movie date, don't. Budget for it. You want a little spending money to treat yourself, maybe get your hair done or buy a new book? Budget for it. The nice thing about having your budget all worked out is you can see on paper where your money is going. If you are spending $200 on cable, ask yourself is it really worth it? Where could that $200 be going to make more of an impact on your financial well being. Add up what you spend in a year on cable, could that pay off a credit card?

There are a lot of different options for your money envelope system, it kind of depends on how many envelopes you want to use and what works for you. In the video above she uses clips but for me that doesn't work because I like different dividers. Someone in class mentioned that they use a coupon organizer, which would be an inexpensive option to start off with. If you want to get a little fancier, here are a couple of options for you:

If you are following along and maybe want to implement some of this into your own finances, I really implore you to check out Dave's page talking about budgets. If you do nothing else, this is what will make a huge difference in how you spend and how you track your money. Later this week I'll talk about the next lesson, Dumping Debt! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Where Do Dreams Come From (review)

I love reviewing children's books because our family loves to read. Well, everyone except my husband, but that's OK. I read to my children all of the time and I love books that can be personalized so when I had the opportunity to review this one, I jumped at the chance.

Where Do Dreams Come From - Kim Delgado

A magical story that will satisfy even the most curious child and expand their imagination about Dream Land, the place where dreams are made. After all, what child wouldn’t love to know "Where Do Dreams Come From?” 

In this magical adventure, your child’s imagination takes them on a visit to Dream Land where they see how dreams are made. They learn about the "Dream Machine" and the fairies that work very hard to make sure that happy dreams are delivered to children around the world. This is the perfect bedtime story to expand your child’s imagination, encourage reading and instill pleasant dreams!

Can I just tell you that when I read this book for Penelope, she was so excited to not just have her name mentioned in the book but also her brother and sister, too. The author, Kim Delgado, is the owner of KD Novelties, an independent publisher of personalized books. I really invite you to look around on the website because there are so many unique gifts (books, CD's, puzzles, bags, etc) that you can personalize, perfect for a kiddo who maybe has a unique of uncommonly spelled name.

The book itself is an adorable story of a child who learns about the Dream Machine and the fairies who work in the factory. The illustrations are fun, the story is fun, and Penelope totally enjoyed being involved in the story. It's a really great bedtime story and though Penelope (almost two) can't read yet, she enjoyed making  machine like noises and acting surprised/scared/happy as needed throughout the story. Plus, it's a fun book we'll likely keep in her forever box once she's grown out of it.

You can find your own copy of Where Do Dreams Come From on the KD Novelties website, The other cool thing is you can read the story on the website (click on the above link and scroll down until to the personalization area and click on the "read story" tab) and see where the personalizing information goes in the story. Overall? I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. It's a cute and fun read, it has great illustrations, it's a good read for kids up to age 7ish, and it's a great book for getting ready for bed!

Monday, February 20, 2017

I'm sorry.

One of the things I say on a daily basis to no less than five people, is I'm sorry. And I'm sorry for a lot of things. If you think the people in my every day life have had to adjust to me being different than I was before my AFE, it's nothing compared to having to adjust myself. I've always assumed that when people have something happen to them that changes who they are, how they move around in the world, they adjust and move on. And maybe I'll get to that point, but I'm almost seven months out and I'm still not there. I think a lot of the people around me look at me and assume I'm doing OK because I'm out of the house, I can communicate and seemingly be able to conduct a conversation. You see me interact with my kids and I can laugh and smile, by all standards, I look OK, but inside I'm not anywhere near OK.

The biggest struggle I deal with is clearly the depression and anxiety. I can no longer be near a pregnant person without feeling anxious. I try hard to hide it so I don't make someone feel badly but I'll excuse myself when it gets too much. Leaving the house is so emotionally taxing because all of the commotion is too tiring. It's too much sound, action, lights, stimulation on every level and I just want to go back into my quiet little home. Aside from that I have the memory loss that I try really hard to hide from people. But still. I'm sure people have noticed.

If I don't respond to calls, texts, emails, and messages right away like I normally would, I'm sorry.

If I don't answer the door, or I call you at the last minute to let you know I can't meet up, I'm sorry. 

If I look spaced out, I probably am. If you think I'm avoiding you on purpose, I'm not. I'm sorry. 

If you think you can count on me to step up and volunteer like I always do, you can't. Please don't assume I can do anything. I'm doing my best, but I can't. I'm sorry.

I might be smiling or laughing, but I don't feel joy in anything anymore. I can fake it for awhile, but not for long. If I look like the Energizer Bunny with half dead batteries, that's an accurate description on how I feel. If you expect me to be fun and funny, joking around and up for a last minute adventure? I'm sorry. I want to be the old Sara, I really do. I miss that Sara so damn much. I look in the mirror and I don't recognize that person at all. The best description of what it's like is that show Wife Swap, where the wives switch lives and their families are horrified. That's me. I feel like I've gotten swapped out and I'm struggling. But I'm sorry. I'm trying every day, I'm trying to fake it, mostly for everyone else's sake, so just go with it.

And you know, it's OK for you to tell me how I'm different or seem different. It's really OK. You aren't going to hurt my feelings because what you notice, I assure you I have noticed it months ago. It's really OK.

I think perhaps the biggest change in me as a person is my level of empathy for strangers. I have always been an empathetic person but I feel more so now. When I read an article about someone who has killed themselves, I feel relief for them because I get it. I know what it's like to be so done with it and wishing I had the courage to do the same thing. People say suicide is a selfish act and while I can't disagree, I think being selfish is sometimes OK. There are times where we have to do what's best for us despite what other people think. Because at the end of the day, nobody knows what is best for us except for us. That's a lesson I'm learning now, and I am wracked with guilt every single day because I do worry about what others think I should be doing. I don't want to be a disappointment, but I do know I'm at a point in my life where I'm at a crossroads. I have to take care of myself. Who knew that would be the hardest thing to learn how to do?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Wild Horse Springs (review)

*This post contains affiliated links that I may earn a commission from. All opinions are my own.*

I can't remember if I've already mentioned it, but I'm probably going to beat this horse until it's good and dead, but I have started a humble little Facebook page for this blog. I would love it if you would head over and give it a like! 

Dan Brigman may not lead the most exciting life, but he's proud of what he's achieved: he's a respected lawman, and he's raised a bright, talented daughter on his own. But finding a lone, sparkly blue boot in the middle of a deserted highway gets him thinking maybe the cowgirl who lost it is exactly the shake-up he needs.

After losing her baby girl, Brandi Malone felt like her soul died along with her daughter. Now singing in small-town bars to make ends meet, she's fine being a drifter until a handsome sheriff makes her believe that parking her boots under his bed is a better option.

College grad Lauren Brigman has just struck out on her own in downtown Dallas when a troubling phone call leads her back home to Crossroads. Her hometown represents her family, friends and deepest hopes, but also her first love, Lucas Reyes. Will Lauren's homecoming be another heartbreak, or a second chance for her and Lucas?

I have to tell you that this is the fifth installment in the Ransom Canyon series, but this is the first one I've read. It's actually the first Jodi Thomas book I've read but it certainly won't be the last because I found her to be as entertaining as authors such as Delores Fossen, Lori Wilde, and Linda Lael Miller so if you are looking for similar styles of contemporary romance that isn't raunchy and overt, this is a great book to add to your to be read pile! 

It's a few love stories in one, always appreciated. We have Dan (the sheriff) who isn't so much a loner but he's not busy with the ladies. Enter Brandi, a singer with a troubled past, not ready to settle down. They meet and Dan falls for her but he knows she isn't ready to be tied down so they kind of hit a crossroads. Dan's daughter, Lauren, has moved away to basically find herself and hopefully become a writer. She's homesick but wants to live in the city. She is also a crossroads. (I have to warn you, this character was incredibly annoying to me because I feel like I would be eye-rolling nonstop if I knew her in real life.) 

Then we have Cody.. kind of a bad boy, lots of trouble following him. Lucky for him, there's a beautiful woman who just happens to be out and stumbles across him. She essentially takes him in and almost mothers him but can their romance make it? This romance was far more interesting for me to follow than Dan and Brandi, mostly because Tess just takes over and I just expected Cody to.. not sit in the back seat so much? I don't know, it was kind of strange so I kept reading wondering if this was even going to work out. 

Overall, I'd give this a 4 out of 5 stars. It's a solid, entertaining romance read and it's refreshing to not have penises and vaginas flipping out every chapter. I'm not saying I'm against that, I'm very much for that, but it's nice to have just a regular ol' romance filling this niche.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Penelope and Lucy - a tale of opposites

I haven't given you a proper update on Penelope and Lucy in awhile, so it's about time I do that. These girls couldn't be more different from each other, but they make every day exciting, that's for sure.
It's hard to believe that Penelope is going to be two at the end of April already. She is a mini tornado and I keep telling Matt this is probably a glimpse into her college years. I certainly hope not because she often runs around topless. Or pantsless.
I signed her up for a toddler class and we went to a bunch of the classes. She is one of the youngest in the class so it's been interesting to see how she interacts with the other kids.
She's mostly really shy but she hands the babies (some parents bring their babies along with their toddlers) toys and of course, she's interested in the classroom turtle.

We are very gently introducing potty training with her. She can recognize when she has "booped" so it's time. Well, that and she has now taken a liking to taking her diaper off at night. We had several mornings of me walking into her room only to be greeted by a stark naked toddler and pee ALL OVER her bed. Truly, it's a disgusting thing to deal with in the morning. Then it's a race to get the bedding all washed before nap time, which is like an Olympic effort on the best of days. So I took to Facebook to ask for ideas. The most commented? Duct tape.
We told Penelope we were putting a fashion belt on her. She wasn't so sure.
But she's a sport.

It actually worked, too. She can't get the tape off and in the morning she might have her pajamas off but her diaper is still on. Which is glorious.

Except sometimes I forget to put the tape on her at nap time and one day it was an emergency. I heard Penelope wake up from a nap, and then start screaming. I race up the stairs faster than ever only to find the source of the screaming....
...nobody messes with her beloved Kitty Kitty. ESPECIALLY a bunch of poop balls.
Then I look in and there's Penelope, crying and showing me her poop balls (that she put there, obviously) but I had to rescue Kitty Kitty.
Oh, and she loves powdered donuts. Look at that powdered donut grin.

Penelope has also started talking and has the cutest little voice. My mom and I have decided she's like a real life Sour Patch Kid- first she's sour, then she's sweet.

Lucy, on the other hand, is always sweet. Lucy is the sweetest, chunkiest little thing and you can't help but love her to bits.
No kidding, this is how she looks at me all of the time. It's like she knows more than we think she does. She's always watching and looking for me.
Officially six months old now, she loves her jumper and anything that lights up, music, and loud things.
She rolls over and is SO close to sitting on her own. The problem is so she's so damn chunky that she kind of just topples over.
Penelope is an excellent big sister and she's always very concerned about Lucy. She will bring me the pacifier, pick out toys, she'll tell me exactly when and where to put her down.
It's going to be fun to see them playing together in just a few months. I can only imagine the shenanigans they'll get into.
So yes, Lucy is a love bug. She can blow raspberries and she absolutely loves kisses and hugs. She will try to grab your face and pull you in so she can kiss and/or slobber you.
She sleeps mostly through the night, she's tried a few foods and is just learning how to deal with those. She loves sucking on her toes and sitting up like a big girl.
She looks so much like her daddy, it's weird. She's officially in 12 month clothing and she has her six month check up on Friday so we'll see how much she weighs then - I'm curious. Oh! And I can always get her to fall asleep in my arms if I sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to her. I don't know why I love that, but I do. She's still sleeping in a bassinet in our room only because she sometimes gets up in the night, AND she goes to bed later than the other kids so I don't want her waking up Penelope. (Who is an absolute bear if she doesn't get enough sleep.) But soon. Soon she'll be going to the big girl crib.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Spring cleaning... it's never too early

One of the biggest things I have struggled with since having Lucy is cleaning my house. If you knew me before Lucy, you would know I always had a clean house. Things were never piled up anywhere, my laundry basket was always manageable and lord knows my closets were never over flowing with stuff.

Post Lucy, I struggle. My biggest problem is everything feels overwhelming. I can't multi-task like I used to and I can't even make a list because I can't prioritize things like a normal person. It's actually kind of annoying all of the things I can't do and some of them I'm not sure how to explain it, but I know I'm not firing on all cylinders anymore.

But I decided that if I take on small projects, one at a time, I won't be overwhelmed. Like a moron, I started with Olivia's room. I won't put it all out there, but I've decided my kids are hoarders, but Olivia is by far the worst. I can't even tell you how much junk came out of her room, but it was a lot. I spent hours in there but it was worth it.
We got the corner of her room, which was a catch all for everything, cleaned out and her closet.
Then we were given a new-to-us bed frame so Matt carried that to her room. We also got a bunk bed for the Penelope and Lucy from the same friends, but that won't come into the house quite yet. Olivia got her posters hung up from the two concerts she has been to, we got her dresser completely cleaned out and sorted. Her room is actually not gross anymore. Praise the lord.

Thankfully Jackson's wasn't near as bad. His problem was he had all of his Christmas gifts stacked up and needed help organizing things, which wasn't that bad actually.
He has SO much more room to play Lego's, which is his favorite thing to do. He had me move his bed so he was up against the wall again, which is fine.
Then he cleaned up his corner and "found" his chair again (which was under a bunch of clean blankets he couldn't put away in his closet and Christmas gifts). We cleaned out his closet, too and I have three bags of clothes to bring to a friend who has a son that can fit into them. Jackson's clothes are actually in great shape so I'm happy to pass those along to someone who can use them.

Both rooms turned out to be an entire day of cleaning, so probably not the best project to start with, but it's a start. My goal is to get our room cleaned out and painted this spring, but we'll see. I have so many other things to clean out and purge things from before then so I realistically might not get to it. We have had a couple of days of warmer than normal weather for our winter season so I'm in the mood to start spring cleaning. I guess on the bright side by the time it actually is spring, I'll be able to enjoy it, right?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Financial Peace University: Week Two- Relating with Money

I know I'm behind on this by a week, but we have been doing the homework and getting into the class, so I have good reason. If you remember from week one, our homework was to tally up all of our non-mortgage debts, which was.. I can't lie, was daunting. And that number has only gone up because since we did that, we've gotten new medical bills in the mail. So that's depressing. 

But this week centered around men and women and how we each relate to money differently. We all know that financial issues can cause stress in any relationship and in some cases, can end a relationship. It needs to be an absolute priority to be on the same page with your partner when it comes to money and the first way to do that is to figure out if you are a nerd or a free spirit. The nerd likes doing a budget, feels a need to be fiscally responsible where the free spirit looks at a budget as a way to be controlled. Not surprisingly, I'm the nerd and Matt is the free spirit.

I don't know if I'll always be able to share the videos from our classes because they are actually pretty tough to find. But when I can, I will. 

I have SO many friends who are in the same boat Matt and I are in, one wants to get on a budget and be debt free, and one has impulse buying issues. And sometimes we flip flop those roles, depending on what's going on! But through this class I'm starting to think that anyone that doesn't want to go through this process is in serious denial of their financial future. 

Our homework this week was to identify our accountability partner, which is our spouse. (If you're single, you're expected to find a friend who will sit down and help you be on track with your budget.) We prepared a Quick Start Budget and we were supposed to call our firs Budget Meeting and talk about the strengths and weaknesses we each bring to the table. We also had to register for the online tools, which we did, but we haven't used any of them yet. I'm assuming we'll be using those soon.