Monday, April 23, 2012

Money Money Money

I’m kind of cheap.

I chalk this up to the way that my parents raised us, not to take anything for granted and not to overly spoil us with lots of material things. I think another big element to this money puzzle is logic. Why would I want to spend more money on something then I need to? When there is an item that I want a lot of times I ask myself “Do I like this (item’s dollar amount) worth?” Basically comparing in my head if I would rather have that cash in my pocket or the item in my hand. Maybe that makes me cheap. I think I’m just being logical. I don’t do that with every purchase but usually when I’m teetering between the good and bad angel on my shoulder.

In college I took a course on personal finance. It was in my last semester and it was one of my favorite classes that I took the whole time I was in college. I went to a small school so a classroom was only about 25-40 students at a time. My professor for that class just lectured. All his lectures were on the things that people always say SHOULD be taught in school. Taxes. Understanding credit cards. Buying a car. Buying an engagement ring. It is safe to say that my professor was kind of cheap too. I don’t really know if cheap is the best word though. We both can be lumped in the category of people that don’t want to give their money up too willingly. The most important lesson that I learned in that class was “no one will ever care as much about your money as you will.” And from what I have observed so far this is totally true. And also a really important reminder to get educated and continue to educate yourself about finance.

I guess I’m a little bit of a nerd, I really enjoy finances and planning and finding new ways to make saving and growing our wealth more interesting. Along the way I’ve found a couple things that work for us. I’m not claiming that these things are ground breaking secrets but they are all finance points that I believe in and have served us well so far.

You can have anything you want but you can’t have everything you want.
I think this makes sense, pretty easy to understand. But so much harder to live.  It goes along with the same thought that you can’t eat everything you want but you can eat anything you want and still remain relatively health. It’s about moderation and really listening to what is your priority and what balance you can find between the things you really want and the things you want in that moment.

It is more important to be happy then it is to be rich.
Of course there is always the argument that having money can really help to be in a happier place but in this case but when you get down to it I believe this to be true. There was a period of time when we had moved and money was tight for us. I didn’t understand how it gotten so complicated and over our heads. Did I plan poorly? Why wasn’t it working anymore? There were many days where I thought about money and money issues and stressed day after day. But worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but you don’t get anywhere. So I started doing things instead of just thinking about things. I organized our finances, I started focusing on ways to save, editing our budget to what mattered, tried my hand at couponing. The most important thing that I think I did during this time though was learn to appreciate what we had. Even though our situation wasn’t perfect we had a lot and we really were rich in the things that mattered. And it is amazing how once I really started to focus on the good things we had, all the wonderful things that we had to celebrate and feel blessed about, that other things just seemed to fall into place.

I would rather be rich then look rich.
I have never been really into labels. I remember wanting clothes from the mall because it was so much cooler when I was in high school but my mom wasn’t into letting me have just any old thing that I wanted on a whim or silly reason. Boy am I glad she held that line. Don’t get me wrong there are certain brands that I believe do the job better then generic or store brands. One example of this is I love Bare Minerals/Bare Escentuals. I’ve been lazy and bought the drugstore brand mineral powder before and always ended up just going back to the original brand because it was so much better. Quality can be better in the long run. But buying something for the sake of getting to float that label just has never been my thing. I think this goes along with wanting to be rich rather then just look rich. I would much rather have a fat emergency fund in the bank then a new car that I have to pay huge car payments on each month. Just about anyone can purchase things that put them in a higher lifestyle class to give the impression that they are doing well when their credit card bill is actually on life support. I love reading stories about millionaires that continue to drive older model cars and still use coupons and deals. To me this really says that finances and money are a lot more about a frame of mind then they are about actual numbers. This is good news for me since numbers and I don’t go well together but being able to be creative and thrifty do seem to come much easier to me.

Coupons and deals are only deals if you need it/ planned on it.
I’ve never shopped on Black Friday. I know a lot of people do and find great deals that way. That is awesome. For you. It’s not for me. I don’t like going to Walmart on a regular Saturday because there are usually so many people there. I just don’t enjoy that. I do get a kick out of the ads that come out and tell you “You can save $300 when you buy this (whatever item)”. You are only really saving if that item was already on your list of things that you need or need to replace recently. If you weren’t planning on buying it but now because its on sale, and therefore on your mind, you go and get it how is that saving? Saving is keeping money in your pocket.

I’ve tried couponing and it isn’t something that I seem to be all that good at. But I keep trying. One down side of couponing that I have noticed though is the habit of buying an item when its on sale because its on sale. When you have a coupon for a candle and all the sale stars align and you can get it for $1, again, is it really a deal if you wouldn’t normally buy it? Yes, I’m getting something at a lower cost but if I normally do without it that is always going to save me more. It all comes down to the value.

 Nobody cares more about your money then you do.
To me this is the most important piece of financial advice. Which is why I’m repeating it yet again. There are times when you need to consult people that know more then you to get farther and become better with your finances. I read a lot of finance blogs and for the first time we hired a CPA to do our taxes this year. Just keep learning.

When things are going well and your bank account is in a good place I think it is easy to let your money go into cruise control. When things with money were tight and stressful for us it forced me to really look at the numbers and figure things out. I’m so grateful for that and for that opportunity to become more interested and more involved. While it meant taking a couple extra heart burn pills for awhile I can’t even begin to imagine the money we saved because of the lessons that we learned through that process. It was the silver lining, the rain after the rainbow moment.

These are just some of the lessons that I have dug up and realized in trying to educate myself more. I enjoy learning and finding new and better ways to do things. It is a process though and not really something that you ever get to a point and just stop.

What financial tips do you live by or feel help you to manage your finances to the best of your ability?


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

23 weeks, back to the schedule

Size of Baby/ This week's fruit:
We are 23 weeks now! Little Miss Lucy is the size of a pomegranate. The belly is making it's first real appearance now since we have the lovely maternity pants covering up a portion of it. Don't want to expose Lucy (or myself) too much! First time I tried my maternity pants on in the store was a hoot. I had no idea that they didn't have a fly/zipper! I think I look paler in every picture that I post. No sun tanning for me lately!

Cravings: Nothing new here. I don't have any weird cravings, I kinda doubt that I will at this point. I'm trying to curb my desire for sugar though so I can pass the glucose test next week. Yikes!

What I love now: The movement, lots and lots of movement. Being able to feel her kick and flip and move around is probably the best part of the pregnancy so far (besides the fact that I'm having a baby of course!). Sitting and watching my belly pop and move from her action just never seems to get old.

Symptoms: Still low on energy, heart burn and indigestion started up and I have had some Braxton Hicks contractions. They aren't really regular and they aren't painful so not worried about them so far.

Highlight of the week: We got our registries done a couple weekends ago, we feel like we are in a good place right now with getting things done and how it is progressing. I'm excited about visiting my best friend in 2 weeks for the celebration of Lucy's future best friend's 1st birthday party. So excited! Our babymoon is also coming up which is exciting. My husband has a conference in Vancouver, BC and I am tagging along so this will be our babymoon trip. Very excited about our trip and having a chance to go and relax in a beautiful place.

Here is a little sneak peek of the nursery so far:

Gender: Miss Lucy Goosey :)

Me and my little furbaby sharing the couch. She's such a space hog :)


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Confessional Friday Link Up!

1. I spend WAY too much time staring at my belly these days once I feel Miss Lucy moving around. It just doesn’t stop fascinating me.

2. Our house is a little on the old well loved side and gets hot quickly in the summer and cold quickly in the winter. I complained for a couple months about how cold it was and dressed like an eskimo. Now that we have some beautiful cool weather after a taste of hot weather I really would like to have that cold weather back again. I won’t complain this time, I promise.

3. At my next doctor’s appointment I have the infamous glucose test scheduled. I’m really not looking forward to it and I’m a wee bit concerned about passing it considering how relaxed I’ve been about my diet lately and all the Easter candy I’ve consumed in the last couple of days. Read that last part again. Obviously I’m not THAT worried since my hand is always in the jelly bean bowl.

4. I cry every time this commercial is on:

That commercial is on every 5 minutes during the airing of The Baby Story. I guess I just also confessed to watching The Baby Story too often.

5. The last good movie I saw was the new Muppet Movie. I’ve seen it 3 times now. My husband and I quote it constantly. We have had such bad luck/ bad taste in movies lately and it was such a pleasant change to LOVE a movie for once. Waka, waka :)


Magnolias and Belles

"It takes a Steel Magnolia to raise a Southern belle."

I don’t remember where I saw that quote for the first time. Maybe it was on a shirt or one of those decorative home decor signs that I love so much. I know that the first time I heard it though was long before there was a little girl in my life that would be my daughter. When I heard that quote I remember being so much more focused on the last part, the southern belle part. I love the idea of a southern belle. A girl that has grace and poise and manners and her momma’s recipe for fried chicken. A girl that wears pearls and seersucker but also knows the difference between pass interference and spread option when it comes to college football. Or just football as its called in the South. Grit and grace, side by side. That is what I’ve always thought a southern belle was. I’ll admit that I’ve spent a good chunk of time thinking about my behavior and if I thought I qualified to be in the hallowed halls of the southern belle sorority. All the criteria that made you one of “those” girls.

And then it all changed.

With a pregnancy test, tears of joy, 20 weeks of waiting in anticipation and those three little words, “It’s a girl” it all changed. And along with it, my perspective. The coin flipped and no longer was I thinking about being that Southern belle that I envisioned in my head. I was thinking about raising that baby girl that would be born on Southern ground that I saw on the ultrasound.

While I still can’t truly grasp the enormity of it all, raising a daughter, almost instantly I knew the responsibility that would now become mine. But what I wasn’t prepared to feel was the way that responsibility would fit and feel like my favorite pair of jeans. Instead of feeling like a weight of expectations and criteria to meet, the idea that a sweet little girl would be looking up to me, modeling after me, seemed more like a challenge. And a challenge that I am more then willing to accept. A challenge that I am honored to make my focus. A challenge that I won’t take lightly.

This challenge would be to teach my daughter about what mattered in life, about loving, being creative and having an imagination, being fair and kind, how to catch fireflies on a summer night and what ingredients made for the best chocolate chip cookies. It would also be a challenge in the things that the world would try and make her believe mattered, and I knew really didn’t. Things that might cloud her judgement or shake her self confidence at times things like what size her clothes were, who made her shoes and how many boys sent her valentines on Valentine’s Day. Things that are NOT measures of who she is as a girl and will be as a woman.

It will be my job to help her to navigate these paths and these obstacles, just like my mother did for me. She will have the love of both her parents to get through the good and the bad times. To teach her and encourage her to grow. She will have the love and support of so many family members that will take much joy in watching her become an individual with likes and dislikes, passions and opinions. But it is my job as her mother to live my life in a way that I can use as a guide for her. Being the best woman that I can be will make me a better mother for her.

While I have accepted this challenge with an open heart I know that as a first time mother there are many situations and stumbling blocks to come. And that is ok. I feel peace about it. My heart feels full and complete knowing that I trust that I will always do my best for my daughter and while I may make mistakes, rookie mistakes and repeat offenses, my heart will always be in the right place and I know that will lead me through the difficult times.

“God only gives us what we He knows we can handle”.

So many times I have wondered how God can possibly believe that I could handle some of the things that have come to me in my life. And this new challenge will be no exception to that. The peace that I feel is such a comfort. A peace that encourages me to trust that God will teach me and stretch me and help mold me into a strong and faithful mother.

I’m so excited to raise my little Southern belle. I’m also terrified, determined, unprepared and naive. I know that she won’t ever demand perfection of me, just love. My heart is already so full of love that I can’t imagine being able to find room for more. But that is the great thing about this and many stories, they are written much better then we could ever have imagined. They are stories of girls that dream of becoming Southern belles and realizing instead that being that steel magnolia is so much greater then anything that she could have ever have imagined for herself.

Under our magnolia tree on Easter Sunday


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Week 20: Half Way There and It's A.....

Size of Baby/ This week's fruit:
Cantaloupe. I really wonder how they are measuring this fruit sometimes!

Cravings: Ice Cream. I tell my husband this is how we know it is his child since I never really have been much of an ice cream person and suddenly it sounds so good to me.

What I love now: The fact that we are at the half way point and it all seems very real right now. It's time for things to start happening over here! I started feeling movement and some kicks this week and towards the end of the week I realized I was able to see the kicks.

Symptoms: Still have low energy and started having leg cramps.

Highlight of the week: Our 20 week appointment and anatomy ultra sound. This is the BIG appointment. They told us it would be a long one. Our ultrasound tech was WONDERFUL and was very thorough checking everything out. There really aren't words to describe how unbelievable it all is. At our first appointment the baby looked a little like a shrimp to be honest and now it is a BABY. It is beyond anything I could ever truly grasp. They ask for you to come with a full or mostly full bladder to the appointment. I EXCELLED in this task since I don't know how much it takes to fill my bladder these days and our little one wasn't too activity since it had a full bladder pressing against it. Our ultrasound tech and our doctor were both very happy with everything and we felt extremely fortunate to have such a great appointment.

Gender: We are having a girl. Her name is Lucy Grace. :) We both really loved the name Lucy and her middle name, Grace, is the same as my mom's middle name and my maternal grandmother's first name. We have had such a positive reaction to her name and so much love and support already.

We feel so incredibly blessed and are so excited to meet our daughter :)

The fact that I am wearing pink and he is wearing blue was a total coincidence. Not planned at all.