Browsing Tag

date night

Budget, Family Finances, Police wife life

Financial Emergency Planning and our First Ever Finance Date

June 8, 2015
Finance date night

At the start of our marriage, my husband always took care of our finances. It made sense because he had more experience than I did with tracking money and managing bills. I had just graduated from college, but he had been living on his own and managing his money for four years working in the Navy. After our kids were born, I actually preferred that he take care of the finances, because taking care of the kids all day is exhausting, and my mind would turn to mush if I were confronted with accounting numbers.

I have no trouble at all living frugally, cutting the excess from our spending, and trying to live within our means. When it comes to hard numbers though, up until this past Friday night, I was completely lost. I was completely ignorant of the bills, how any of them were paid, and I didn’t have the login and password information for any of our accounts. Especially since my husband works a high risk job, this put our family and our future in jeopardy. Should anything happen to him now, on his job as a police officer or Navy reservist, I would be completely in the dark as to how to go about managing our finances.

Receiving daily advice from personal finance blogs has really helped get me motivated to organize our finances and save for the future. I realized that we have an alarm system on the house and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. We have car, home, and renters insurance. We have all of these safeguards in place to protect our belongings and our assets, but we didn’t have any protection or emergency plan in place for our finances. For the past few months, I have really been pushing for us to sit down and hash out the numbers. I wanted to have a plan in place, not only for if an emergency should arise, but also so that I could become more involved in the daily maintenance of our money.

So, this past Friday night, my husband and I snuggled on the couch with a legal pad and laptop. We had our first ever finance date for creating a concrete budget and having all of our account information compiled in one place. It was everything I imagined it to be and more. Just kidding…sort of. Creating a contingency plan for if your spouse should be killed is not exactly the epitome of romance. However, going over the numbers that represent our life and how we feed, clothe, and house our family was a new sort of intimacy that we had never experienced together. Albeit serious and at times painstakingly dull, it was a date which required eye contact, real communication, and compromises being met. If you have never had a finance date, I highly recommend it. It brought us closer together, and it gave us the tools we need should we ever have to deal with an emergency.

After our finance date, I felt so much better. I don’t like having to think about something terrible happening to my spouse, but it’s a relief knowing that I now have all of our account information to deal with the finances if I have to. After our date, my husband told me that he felt like a huge burden had been lifted from his shoulders. Since he was no longer the only one dealing with the stress of our finances, he could breathe a little bit easier.

I honestly have no idea why we waited so long to sit down together and talk about our finances. It was such a huge relief to us both. We decided that, from now on, we are both going to manage our accounts together, and we are going to work towards meeting our financial goals together. We plan on having monthly finance dates from now on. We both slept well Friday night knowing that, financially, I would be alright if anything were to happen to him in the line of duty.

Do you and your spouse have monthly finance dates?

Do you have the account information you would need in case of an emergency?

DIY, Gardening, Self Suffiency

Berry Picking a Path to Self-Sufficiency

May 26, 2015
Berry picking a path to self-sufficiency

In five years, my husband and I hope to have the money for a down payment on a piece of property where we can start a small, self-sustaining, completely off the grid, homestead. It feels a bit like a pipe dream, but it is our dream nonetheless. We have a long way to go to reach our goal of living a sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle. We are learning now, though, that self-sustainability doesn’t have to mean solar panels and well water. It starts with the ability to figure out how to do most things completely on your own.

Canning and freezing seasonal fruits and vegetables, both from local farms and our own garden, is one thing that we taught ourselves to do in order to become more self-sufficient. We believe in trying to eat as seasonally as possible and storing what we can for the rest of the year. Not only do we support our community’s farmers by eating locally grown food, but we also save a lot of money by preserving food when it is at it cheapest.

My kids eating them as fast as I could pick them

Strawberries happen to be cheapest in May. We like to go strawberry picking every year to save a little bit of money. We always try to preserve as many as possible to eat throughout the rest of the year. Some go into the freezer for smoothies and pies, and the rest gets turned into jam, marmalade, or conserves. We enjoy the time spent together at the farm, picking the berries. We also enjoy the time spent together as a couple, preserving the berries after our kids are in bed. It has become an annual date night for us, and we are even a little bit competitive about it now. My husband likes to think that his strawberry lemon marmalade is better than mine. I beg to differ.

Just 33 lbs of our strawberries

Just 33 lbs of our strawberries

The “pick your own” strawberries from the farm down the road from us cost us $1.57 per pound. Grocery store strawberries cost $3.99 a pound. It took us roughly 1.5 hours to pick 50 pounds of strawberries. So, in 1.5 hours we saved ourselves $121 dollars. It’s just a small amount compared to the rest of our food budget, but we enjoy going, and we would rather support our local farmers than pay for the over-priced grocery store strawberries shipped from California.

first batch of jam and freezer berries

first batch of jam and freezer berries

If eating local is important to you too, but you don’t have access to local farms because you live in the city or don’t have a car, look into local CSA (community supported agriculture) programs. Many of them deliver or have local pick-up points.  Try looking for a CSA local to you at http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

There are a million ways to become a little bit more self-sufficient. You could plant a container garden on your deck or have a full-sized garden in your yard. Even having a pot of herbs on your kitchen window sill is a small way to grow your own food. Don’t let the home you live in decide the kind of life you want to live or the kind of food you want to eat.

Do you try to eat locally grown food?

What steps do you take towards self-sufficiency?

Motherhood

Budget For Quality Time With Your Kids

March 26, 2015

I recently wrote about prioritizing your partner by setting aside both the time and money for a date night. While spending quality time with your partner is important, I also believe that parents should try to spend quality time with their kids as well.

Family time is important too, of course, but there is something absolutely invaluable about spending one on one time with each of your children individually. It allows you to focus on them without distraction and to talk to them about their lives without interruption. Giving your child your complete and undivided attention tells them that you love them, they are worth your time, and you enjoy them as unique individuals.

Talking with my husband, I realized that I had not spent any time alone with my daughter since our son was born. He is 13 months old now. I felt terrible with the realization that due to circumstance, the nature of my husband’s job, and a million other excuses, I had not spent any one on one time with my daughter in 13 months. For 3.5 years she was an only child with my undivided attention, but I needed her to know that even though she has a sibling now, she is still important to me.

Find the time and money for kid time

To remedy the situation, I set up a mommy and daughter date afternoon. We budgeted for an afternoon matinée to see the new Cinderella movie, complete with a fountain drink and candy. Her daddy bought her a new dress up Cinderella dress. I painted her nails, did her hair in an up-do, and let her wear a little bit of glitter and my colored Burt’s Bees Wax lip gloss. She was so excited to dress up and get to spend some special time with me. She practically glowed with her excitement.

On our way to see Cinderella together

On our way to see Cinderella together

Our “Date” Budget

All said and done we spent $20 on the dress, $10.50 for both of our tickets, $8.50 at the concession stand, and $5 to spend in the arcade before the movie started. $44 spent. We are on a really tight budget and can’t be spending $44 willy-nilly, but this mommy-daughter date was special. It was a one time extravagant memory being made together with my daughter. She will never forget the time she got to dress up like Cinderella and go to the movies, just her and mommy.  It was $44 I can’t imagine having spent on anything else in the world.