Bad Attitude

I have been feeling down lately. I have noticed that I have a bad attitude towards a lot of things… especially in the mornings. I don’t know what my deal is. I just feel agitated and irritated a lot. I am in need of a major attitude adjustment and am not sure how to go about that. I am definitely open for recommendations. What helps you relax and enjoy your life? How do you keep your attitude in check?

P.S. I apologize to anyone who has been affected by this bad attitude. I am aware of it and am working on finding a fix for it.

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Chores

I want to come clean about something… Contrary to popular beliefs, I am not Susie Homemaker. I know. You just fell out of your seat from shock. I did not mean to spring that on you so quickly, but I needed to clear that up.

I do not like cleaning, cooking, chores, etc. Hubby and I have a chore list and I definitely fall down on my part. I enjoy organizing, but I do not like cleaning. I would rather walk into a complete mess and get to start from scratch and organize it and put it away and make it pretty, rather than haul out my cleaning products and scrub my bathroom (or kitchen or any other room). Don’t get me wrong, I do not live in an apartment of filth. It does get cleaned, but I do not like doing it.

Big props to the hubby… Last week I came home from work and the entire apartment was sparkly clean. In his words… Everything that could be cleaned, was cleaned… except for the dog. (I did that job over the weekend).

I also hate cooking. I have tried and tried to enjoy it. I have tried to make it a fun experience, but it simply is not an enjoyable activity. You spend time working and getting hot, and what’s it for? 5 minutes of eating enjoyment. Unfortunately, this hate of cooking really got us in a lot of trouble financially. I would come home from work and would spout one of a number of excuses: I was too tired, I didn’t have everything I needed to cook, nothing was thawed out, nothing sounded good. I was full of excuses! And because Hubby enjoys eating out, as I do, we would often go out to eat. Last year we ate out at least 3-4 times a week, if not more. Fast food, restaurants, take out, delivery… it didn’t matter, we ate it. Luckily Hubby and I were not outwardly affected by all of this unhealthy food. I cringe to think of what it did out our cholesterol, blood pressure, arteries, etc. I know exactly what it did to our budget and it was not pretty.

One of the worst parts was that I would menu plan for the week, and in true resolutionist form, I would resolve to eat in the entire week and change our eating ways. It didn’t work! I didn’t have the discipline or the desire to really change… until now. Since we moved to a tiny town, we do not have access to many places to eat. Here is our list: Subway, Sonic, Gambino’s Pizza, BBQ Joint, and some random restaurants (no big chains). We did have a Dairy Queen, but it caught fire and is currently out of commission. Because of our limited choices, I have been forced to cook dinner. I menu plan on Fridays or Saturdays, grocery shop for the week, and have food to eat all week. This is the first month since we have been married, that we have stayed on track with our eating out budget. We did borrow money from other areas a couple nights, but we were able to do that because we have been on or under budget with everything so far. I actually enjoy eating out now and it is a treat for us. No more excuses! I still don’t like cooking, but I know it is imperative for us in order to keep on budget.

Here is a look at where we were at the past few months with our eating out budget (it has changed the past month in order to prepare us for the increase in rent coming up):

February: Budget $80.00 Actual Spent $166.04
March: Budget $80.00 Actual Spent $277.47
April: Budget $40.00 Actual Spent $38.82

We cut our eating out budget in half and we are under!! Now, we did borrow money from other areas to eat out, but even with those added in we are at $79.68. We borrowed $29 from our entertainment budget in order to have pizza one night (which gave us leftovers forever) and we borrowed $11.68 from our grocery budget in order to have fast food one night. Before borrowing from another area, I always check to make sure that it is ok with Hubby. He usually doesn’t mind and we are good to go!

I will do a complete budget check-in on the 1st or 2nd of May and let you know how we did for the month. I think it looks great so far!

Do you have trouble eating out or do you love cooking and eating in?

Yuck!

The title should give you an idea of how I am feeling today. Allergies really hit me hard over the weekend and I am feeling super crummy! I am congested all over. My ears and nose are stuffy. My throat hurts. I am just miserable and feel like complaining. Do you ever get that way?

Well, I attempted to start couponing, and I have learned one important rule… It’s hard to start on a holiday weekend. Apparently they do not put many inserts (or really any) in the paper during a holiday weekend. There really was nothing on Sunday. It had the CVS, Walgreens, and Target circular, but that was about it. I am looking forward to next Sunday because the PG (Proctor and Gamble) insert is coming out and it is loaded with savings! I also went ahead and splurged on a coupon binder. I found it at Momsaves.com. I realize that I could have put one together, but I would have had to buy all the pieces, so I splurged a bit and will get one already put together for me.

Hopefully I will get to the store this week and get some good deals. I have some coupons clipped (including one for some allergy medicine) and have my lists for my two drug stores. I refuse to buy things just because they have a coupon. I will be buying things that will actually be used by us. When I get everything bought, then I will take a picture and let you know my deals 🙂 I had actually planned to go after school today, but I forgot my CVS card at home and just felt nasty, so no shopping for me today.

I did do a bit of online shopping for the dogs today. Petco is having a sitewide sale right now! It has 20% off everything and 10% off food. If you spend over $59 you get free shipping and if you spend under $59 you get a base shipping rate of $5.99. I went ahead and got a big bag of dog food for Bandit and one for Rose. Then I went ahead and got some rawhide strips for Rose… one of her favorite treats 🙂 Here is the breakdown:

Beneful Healthy Weight Formula 31.1 lbs: Originally $30.99… On Sale $27.89
Beneful Playful Life Formula 31.1 lbs: Originally $30.99… On Sale $27.89
2 Petco Natural Rawhide Strips 16 oz.: Originally $9.99 each… On Sale $6.49 each
Shipping: $5.99… With promotion: FREE!
Tax: $5.71

Original Total: $93.66… My Price: $74.47
Savings: $19.19!!

I would have bought all these items within the next month, so it was definitely worth it! I took out $30 from their April budget and the rest came from their May budget. They still have money left in their May budget, so I will still be able to refill Rose’s food if need be. (She seems to go through it a lot quicker than Bandit).

I hope everyone had a great Monday!

Couponing

Have any of you seen the show on TLC: Extreme Couponing? I saw one episode and those people are crazy! I think it’s great that they are all about saving money, but why would you continue to buy toilet paper if you already have enough for 40 years? I don’t get that part.

I have been reading a bit about couponing, and I am thinking about starting. I am not going to be extreme or anything, but it will definitely help to save some money. One thing I have read about shopping at drug stores is that sometimes you have to buy something you don’t need in order to get their reward coupons that could be used like cash. I don’t understand this concept, because aren’t you using cash just to get coupons that could be used like cash? And you end up with something you don’t need. I don’t think I will get that involved in things, but I do think I am going to start looking at weekly circulars and possibly shop at different stores to get what I need. Luckily, my main grocery store, CVS, and Walgreens are all on the same road, so I won’t have to drive all around town.

I also won’t be stock piling. I don’t have room to stock pile that much, and at this point in time, I would have to pack my stock pile in order to move in about a month. Yeah, not worth it. Right now, if there is a coupon on something that I would usually buy or is already on my shopping list, then I will go ahead and clip the coupon. Also, if there is a coupon for something that I know I will need in the near future (for example, I am going to need razors and body wash sometime soon), then I will clip the coupon and make sure to use it before it expires.

Do you coupon or have you ever tried it? What is the most difficult part? I think organizing them will be difficult.

Contentment

I struggle with being content. This is a main reason why I set new goals almost daily. I am not capable of being just content with myself or my life. I will lie awake at night and think about what could have been different and what I will try to do differently the next day. It is a very rare thing for me to lie down at night and be content with how my day went.

Recently I have been really struggling with being content with what we have. I am struggling with envy. It seems as though everyone around me is able to splurge or have more than I do. I look at my friends on facebook and they are going on vacations or buying many things for themselves or their children. With how hard we are working to get out of debt, I find it very hard to believe that people don’t care about their debt and are probably digging themselves deeper into a hole. When I see people doing those things or buying those things, I assume they have the money and are just more well-off than we are.

Here is my story and how money has influenced me:
I am the youngest of 3 children. By the time I came around, my parents were more secure financially than when my siblings were born. We didn’t move around and I was born and raised in the same area (around Memphis). My dad worked for the same company for the entire time I lived at home. My parents didn’t have debt and it wasn’t unusual in high school to go shopping with my mom and spend quite a bit on clothes and think nothing of it.
I got a new truck when I turned 16 and another new car when I was a senior in high school (this is the same car I drive now– almost 10 years old). I never made a car payment. I was very blessed and had my college career paid for. I did not have to take out loans for housing, tuition, books, or anything. I did work in college and the money I received from working was my play money. I would go home over breaks and Mom and I would go shopping for clothes and shoes and such. I knew nothing of a budget.
When I graduated college and got my first job, I was hit with the realization of bills. I lived in a one bedroom/one bathroom apartment by myself, but did not budget. I did what my parents did… I put everything on credit card and paid it off every month. I did pay it off, but I didn’t know how much I spent for groceries or eating out or anything. I also thought I needed all new things for my apartment and went on a little shopping spree. My now husband was still in school for a bit of this time, so I would pay for us to eat out and go out and all those things. I thought I needed to.
After one year on my own, I moved into a three bedroom/2 bath apartment with my good friend. Again, I didn’t really budget. I tried… I made spreadsheets, but I didn’t know what I was doing. I may have written it all out, but I was never able to stick to it.
During this time, I got engaged to my now husband. I helped contribute to my ring and bought his ring as well. I thought we deserved to go on a great honeymoon out of the country. Those three things were put on my credit card and we are still paying for our great honeymoon. Our first apartment was a 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment in the nicer part of town. It was almost double the rent of my first apartment.
Again, I wrote down what we should be spending, but I never really stuck to it. Hubby’s student loans were now our student loans. The budget was tight and I was in credit card debt for my first time. I wanted to make some extra money and started Mary Kay. In order to start Mary Kay you have to spend some money. I put it on my credit card and was a little too ambitious with this and am still paying off starting Mary Kay… even though I have since stopped Mary Kay.
We moved out of our super expensive apartment into the apartment we live in now. It is a 2 bedroom/1 bath tiny apartment that is the same amount as my first 1 bedroom apartment. I realized that we really need to get our act together when we had a few big expenses come up and didn’t have anything saved for it. We went to Chicago last summer to visit Hubby’s family and put most of it on credit card. We also put the dogs’ boarding on credit card. We had to scrape together money to pay our car tags (because we bought a brand new car the year before– with 0% interest). I Found out that I didn’t like that feeling.
In about November of 2010, I really got my act together. I now track every purchase we make and we work hard to keep on budget. This month I am happy to report has been the best as far as staying on budget! We were able to pay off one credit card (the one with the Chicago trip and dog boarding) this past March. We still have a lot of debt, and I love chipping away at it, but I don’t feel content.
I have started a small photography business and although it isn’t really bringing in any money, I want more camera accessories. I find myself wanting and wanting, but knowing we don’t have the money. We have to save up money in order to just go on a date each month. We are currently saving money to get a flat screen TV and hopefully get me a new lens for my camera. We want them now, but I refuse to go deeper into debt to get something that I feel I deserve.
That brings us to the present: We are going to be moving into a new apartment in June and our rent will be higher than what it is now. I am worried about how tight things will be, but I know we can do it. I just hope my motivation will stay strong.

What are your secrets to staying on budget? Do you get to splurge on things you want?

Updates!

I got quite a bit crossed off my to-do list from last night. I ended up only getting about 3-4 hours of sleep and woke up super congested (from allergies). I went ahead and took a personal day and called in sick. It was worth it. I got a lot done (including a nap) and feel a lot better. Hopefully I will sleep better tonight and feel better tomorrow.

Here are a few things I got accomplished:
*Finished reading Water for Elephants– It was great! I can’t wait to see the movie.
*Finished editing photos for the newborn shoot I did yesterday- they are burned to a disc and ready to go in the mail.
*Completed budget- Which includes updates to my finance trackers.
*Cleaned the kitchen- I need to run the dishwasher tonight because there are a few dishes still in the sink.

You may notice that our savings decreased dramatically this past month. We had to put a deposit down on our new apartment for next year, and that ate into a lot of the savings. We also had to pay some money to the government for taxes, so that took another chunk. We were not expecting to pay, but it was really nice to have a little cushion of savings so that we did not have to scramble and figure out where we were going to get the money.

We are planning to move at the beginning of June and this will change our budget substantially. Our rent is going to be about $200 more than we are currently paying, but our family will be reunited, so it is worth it. We are going to be putting a little less into savings and our debt repayment is going to slow a bit, also. We are bare-bones with our budget, and those were the only places we were able to take a chunk out of. I am still planning on having that credit card paid off by this time next year. That way, we can really focus on those student loans and hopefully be debt free in about 2-3 years! How exciting!

Have you ever had to work hard to get out of debt? Is it something you are still struggling with? If you are working hard now, keep up the good work!

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Wow! I can’t believe April is over half way done! Where does time go? It has been an insanely busy month for me, and shows no sign of slowing down until May. Even in May, I don’t know if I will really have a chance to catch my breath! Here are a few goals for the rest of my week (luckily I have Friday off, so I have a full day to get things done around here):

*Finish reading Water for Elephants– I started on Thursday night and only have a few more chapters left
*Go to the grocery store
*Finish editing photos from my photo shoot today (If you want to see some sneak peeks, head to my photography blog: J Lancaster Photography
*Clean my house!
*Do some exercising
*Update budget (This should involve an update on my sidebar tracker things)
*Call apartment complex about getting deposit back (The apartment we decided not to move into next year… we had put down a deposit, but found a better place… now we need that deposit back).
*Go to post office to mail a package (First I have to get the package put together)
*Blog more!

That’s all I can think of, but knowing me, more will pop up as the week goes on. I have a lot to do and I can guarantee it will take all my effort not to sit in front of my computer and do all the editing first! I just love looking at those cute baby photos!

I hope everyone had a great weekend and it wasn’t too short!

Great Day!

We had a lot of things happen today, which made it a fantastic day! First, my school went on a field trip to see a pianist play. He was phenomenal! I am not musical in the least and I was absolutely transfixed on him. He was not only a great pianist, he was a great entertainer all around. He engaged the children greatly and they loved him! The adults and children alike were all laughing.

After school, I came home and we spent that afternoon at my parents’ house to see Rose. My grandma is staying at my parents’ house since she broke her arm, so I got to see her too! I brought along my camera and did a mini photo shoot. I will give you a sneak peek of a few pictures, but if you want to see the rest, visit my newest blog dedicated solely to my photography: J Lancaster Photography. Rose did some great modeling and playing which made for some super cute photos. I also am loving that everything is in bloom! Here is a picture of Rose and a picture of some little flowers on a tree. (I don’t know the type of tree).

The best part of the day happened when we came home! We put down our deposit on our new apartment! We are moving one street over and will be reunited with our Rose Dog. 🙂 We are looking to move at the beginning of June. We have to be out of our apartment on May 31st, but we know the people who live in the apartment we are moving into. We are going to move our furniture and whatnot into the garage and probably stay at my parents’ house for a couple days while they get the place cleaned up and touched up… Then we will move in completely! We can’t wait! Trust me, I will take some photos of the place when I get the chance (and won’t feel like a creeper taking random photos of an apartment). 🙂

I hope you had a great day too!