That Time My Husband Had A Heart Attack.

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Get ready for a long post. If you’re here just for the deals (I TOTALLY, really do get that), scroll waaayyyyy on down. 

 

13 days ago my husband had a heart attack. 

 

My 45-year-old-mostly-healthy husband had a heart attack. (For the record I’m 40 ~ no reason for you to think I’m quite 45 yet, right?) :)

 

My heart still hurts.

 

He’d had some chest pain about six months ago and had done a stress test to make sure everything was okay. The stress test came back negative, and we assumed everything was fine and went on about our lives.

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Our bunch just 4 weeks ago, on our way to ski for a week in CanadaWhile he’s always been a little overweight, James has stayed the same weight since we were married twenty years ago, and is as strong as an ox. He plays sports hard with our kids, and is in general a pretty healthy guy. He doesn’t smoke or drink, but did have slightly elevated cholesterol and some family history of heart issues at an early age.

On Wednesday almost two weeks ago, he started having pain in his arm while driving all over Ohio for work. He called home around 3 and said he really wasn’t feeling well, then finally made it in at 5 that night.

 

Because I’m a horrible (read – awful, terrible, pitiful) not-ever-meant-to-be-a-nurse-wife, I told him I didn’t know what he should do, but if his chest hurt he should go to the ER. (Honestly, I wasn’t all that compassionate about it ~ we had 3 kids going 3 directions and I had no time for this craziness. Like I said, I’m an awful, terrible, pitiful wife!)

 

A few minutes later though I looked at him the way I should have looked at him the minute he came home, and realized he looked awful. He headed to the ER, and I headed out for evening carpool duty.

 

An hour later he called and told me that while his EKG was fine, his blood work came back with some issues and they were transporting him to a nearby hospital for testing the next morning. Remember we’d just moved here two years ago, so while we definitely have a few people we could call on in a pinch, our kids weren’t all that comfortable with folks they didn’t know so well (my oldest is 16).  I left the kids at home around 7:30 PM and headed to the ER to see what was next.

 

I don’t know anything medically, but by the time I got there the second EKG had changed, and the ER doctor seemed pretty concerned. He let us know that a cardiologist would meet us immediately at the hospital, and when the ambulance came to transport James (they said he wasn’t stable enough for me to drive him even though he looked pretty good), I ran home to get a few things and then planned to meet him in the hospital.

 

It didn’t happen like that. 

 

I arrived at the larger hospital’s Emergency Room and was immediately taken past dozens of people in the waiting room to a small waiting room with a night chaplain. She wasn’t allowed to tell me anything, just sat with me as I waited. (I couldn’t figure what on earth had happened ~ just a few minutes ago we’d been laughing together in the original ER?)

 

About 20 minutes went by, and the cardiologist came out to tell me that my husband (yes, the 45 year old seemingly healthy one), had a mild heart attack. He had 100% blockage in one artery (thankfully only 20-30% blockage in other arteries), and they’d put in a stent to fix the blockage. He was doing well, but his life would change.

 

He wasn’t kidding.

 

Thankfully, because he was basically healthy his heart had used “collateral arteries” to repair the problem as much as they could on their own (which masked the heart issues in his initial stress test.) We found out a few days later that despite everything he had absolutely no heart muscle damage, and I’m guessing it’s partly due to those collateral arteries taking on the extra load.

 

(Isn’t it crazy that God makes your body to DO things like that?) 

 

I was allowed to see James who honestly looked great considering everything he’d gone through. I think we were both just in shock ~ and totally unaware of what this meant for our life. (Two weeks later, we’re still pretty unaware.)

 

Around 1:30 in the morning I left him in the ICU to come be with our kids and try to sleep, and his sister (she’s a doctor and was completely a lifesaver through this!) headed up to be with us just to get us through the first through days. (His other sister also came up for the weekend ~ I can’t even begin to tell you what a gift they were to me those first few days!)

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Us out on a short hike last week while playing hooky :) 

So here I sit, almost two weeks later, still just in a small state of shock over all this. James wasn’t allowed to work last week, so we kind of played hooky all week. We visited every plant nursery in a 30 mile radius, ate meals at fancy restaurants (he’s supposed to eat salmon and I haven’t yet learned to cook it), and even went to see a movie at 10 o-clock in the morning just because we could. (We were the only people there besides an older couple in their 70’s. I’ve never ever seen a movie at 10 o’clock in the morning!)

 

You know what though? I’m still kind of terrified.

 

I’m afraid of how I’d do life without him.

 

I’m afraid of what we would do if our finances really changed because of an illness. (We are so so blessed financially thanks to years of penny pinching, but fear of the unknown still scares the crud out of me.)

 

I’m afraid of my kids not having grandparents for *their* kids. (Y’all, I am seriously jumping the gun on this worry thing. I know. I’m nuts.) 

 

I’m afraid of what my life would look like if he wasn’t right here next to me.

 

He’s always been my one. 

 

I don’t know that I believe that people have just one person out there made just for them, but, for me, he’s been my one.

 

He’s the one I just feel safe and cozy with. The one who likes me even though I’m a mess. And more than anything he’s the one who completely cheers me on each and every day. 

 

The thought of something happening to him terrifies me beyond what I can even express. 

 

And honestly, the thought that’s filling my head right now is that something could happen to him, and in just a few short years my cute kids will be gone. And this awful crushing fear of just being without them kind of terrifies me.

 

But as I was muddling through all that in my head today, I remembered that long before I was James’s wife, I was chosen by Him.

 

And way before I ever dreamed of being Jackson & Caroline & Reagan’s momma . . . I was His child.

 

And I was reminded that the same God who has held me through so many difficult things along the way, loves me enough to hold me through this not-so-easy time too. 

 

Whatever may come.

 

Whatever it takes.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, right now things look good for my sweet husband. (Thank. heavens.) He’s doing an amazing job working to change his diet, is on a mountain of medication to keep this from happening again, and is already heading to physical therapy. His prognosis really is good (in fact, his heart is working perfectly), but my fear still is there.

 

But just this experience has rocked my not-as-firm-as-I-want-it-to-be foundation, so I needed to be reminded that ultimately the One who loved me first holds me no matter what comes my way.

 

 

I have no idea what mountain is in your world right now. I don’t know if your world has maybe been shattered by something so crazy-ridiculous-you-feel-like-you-can’t-even-breathe too.

 

But I do know that the same God who’s holding me? He’s holding you right next to me too.

 

He loves each of us, and desires peace for us, no matter what comes our way.

 

Know that I’m praying for you today. And I’d so love your prayers too as our hearts adjust to this new season too. God’s plan is bigger and better than ours ever is, and I’m so crazy-ridiculously-overwhelmingly thankful for peace that comes when we choose to find rest in Him today.

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

 

(On a quick side note ~ thank goodness I have some amazing workers here on PPP who totally have kept things up and running while I’ve been way more frazzled than normal. I don’t *think* any of this should have any long term impact on PPP except that I need to spend a little more time preparing meals and a little more focused on my family (I so appreciate you  understanding!) Right now we’re trying out the Mediterranean diet, so those are the recipes I imagine you’ll see here for a bit while we figure things out. Thanks so much for your kindness and support ~ so so thankful for you.)

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*HOT* Sale On Blue Host Ends TODAY: Start Your Blog Today!

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If you’ve ever considered starting a blog (or website for your business), don’t miss this.

 

Through today only, Blue Host is offering their web hosting for just $3.49 per month (which is an incredible deal.) 

 

This ends TONIGHT (just a few hours left!), but is oh-so-worth it if you think blogging may be for you! I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for blogging (it’s how I make a full time income as a stay at home mom), and I highly recommend it not only as a source of income, but even just as a place to keep an online journal of your every day life. Honestly, I never dreamed I would love blogging the way that I do but I’m completely hooked!

 

Curious why I think blogging is worth it? Here are my top 5 reasons to blog:

  1. To earn an income from home. (Honest. I make a full time income here on PPP which is beyond crazy to me. Learn more HERE.)
  2. It allow you to interact with other folks across the internet, and create a little “home base” online for family photos, stories and more.
  3. It helps you become a better writer. I am so not someone who would consider themselves a writer, but blogging each day makes me re-think the way I use words. While writing still isn’t my strongest gift, working at it each day stretches my mind creatively.
  4. It creates a place for you to think of others. I love that blogging (especially for a profit), forces me to think of ways every day to help other people outside of my home. I know that PPP is a better blog to follow when I write posts that really do benefit my readers, so I’m more creative in coming up with helpful content each day. (I love that!)
  5. It builds your confidence. I struggle so much with having self-confidence, but blogging has helped me realize I’m really good at things that I never even knew existed. It’s taught me business strategies, internet savviness, social media awareness, and so much more. I love the marketable skills blogging has given me, and would never in a bajillion years thought I would love it the way that I do!

 

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Once you’ve signed up with Blue Host, check these posts out:

Let me know if you have any questions ~ so excited to for you to get started!

This post contains affiliate links.  See my disclosure policy to learn more.

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Orange Bird Feeder

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Looking for a fun and frugal project to make with your kids this weekend? I love this!

 

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Large oranges
  • Bird seed
  • Skinny ribbon
  • Sharpened pencil
  • Scissors
  • Spoon

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Directions
1. Cut your orange in half

 

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2. Scoop out (and eat) the inside of the orange

 

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3. Poke four holes opposite each other, towards the top of the orange like so

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4. Cut two 8″ pieces of ribbon, tie one end in one hole and the other in the opposite hole
5. Repeat step 4 with your other ribbon

 

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6. Fill your orange up with bird seed
7. Now cut a 5″ piece of ribbon and use to tie the top of the ribbons together, then onto a tree branch

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Looking for more spring projects?  Here you go . . .

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

Interact with 480,000+ Penny Pinchers on Facebook and Twitter or Subscribe to Passionate Penny Pincher by email to keep up with all the penny pinchin’ deals!

 

 

 

 

 

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Ikea Shopping Secrets: 15 Secrets You Need To Know Before Shopping IKEA

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You know love IKEA.

 

Like, L.O.V.E. IKEA.

 

So much so that I brought home an entire bedroom worth of furniture for my daughter’s room home in my minivan not too long ago. :)

 

(Um, while we loved the furniture we did sell it not too long ago in a local buy-sell group because that bed was nearly impossible to make. But, I got back almost everything I spent!)

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So, whenever the opportunity arises, I race into IKEA to hunt down a few tips to share with you. (Check these out here too.) 

 

(My poor family ~ we were in the middle of Seattle, Washington on Spring Break when I saw an IKEA sign and I totally had to make them pull off the road to see what was there. Thankfully, they love their ice cream and it was kids eat free day, so we all survived.) 

 

Did you know there really are extra ways to save at IKEA though beyond their fantastic prices? Here are a few things you need to know before your next IKEA shopping trip . . .

 

 

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1. Join IKEA family ~ it’s free. :)

Just by joining the Ikea Family (totally free to join ~ I love that!), you get a ton of great benefits. Here’s what to expect:

  • free coffee or hot tea at the IKEA restaurant
  • an extra 30 minutes of time in “Smaland” for your child
  • 90 day price protection guarantee – if something goes on sale after you bought it you have 90 days to get that price when you bring in your receipt
  • chance to win a $100 IKEA gift card
  • special “bonus” IKEA family pricing offers only available to IKEA members

 

Go HERE to sign up.

 

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2. Start at the finish line. 

If you’ve ever been to an IKEA before, you know that going in the front doors you’ll be led down hours of hallways throughout IKEA’s massive store.

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However, if you go in through IKEA’s exit, you’ll go right in to their most deeply discounted “as-is” sales. Watch for a ton of savings in this area, including couches marked down as much as 75% off. For example, the couch above with the stains on it was $700 regularly, marked down to $175. It looks to me like a sofa that was made to be slipcovered, so that’s a crazy good price if you can stand the stain!

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In this area you’ll also find dressers, knick knacks, rugs and more ~ the store we visited even had a chair marked down to $6.50. If you don’t mind doing a little work, you can save a bundle in this area!

 

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3. Take advantage of free childcare.

If you have young children, take advantage of IKEA’s free Smaland childcare available as you enter the main entrance of the store. IKEA offers free childcare for an hour and don’t forget that by joining IKEA Family you’ll get an additional 30 minutes of childcare.

 

Kids must be between 4-10 years old and potty trained, and availability is limited based on the number of kids playing (meaning weekends and holidays are busy.) Go HERE to learn more.

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4. Watch for weekly specials.

Each week, IKEA offers weekly “specials” throughout the store. These are crazy good deals that won’t last, so keep your eye out for them!

 

For example, the lovely pink sofa :) above was on sale for just $179 (regularly $399) the week that we shopped. If you happen to be decorating a room for a girl (and have some space) that would make for some serious savings!

 

If your curious what the special offers are in your area, here’s how to start:

  • Go HERE
  • Change your store’s location to the one you’re visiting
  • Click on “IKEA Seattle (or whichever store you’re visiting) Special Offers”
  • Watch the list to see their special deals for the month.

 

Note: the information on the “special offers” tab varies a LOT by location. I noticed the West Chester, Ohio store shares their “last chance” deals, as well as new items in the store. The Long Island, New York special offers page showed only a few deals but offered discounted tickets to the New York Aquarium, Centra Park and Bronx Zoos. Be sure to do your research on the store your visiting’s website before heading out

 

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5. Don’t miss IKEA’s last chance deals.

In addition to IKEA’s weekly specials, they offer “last chance deals.” These will vary some by store, but you can snag some incredible savings with these! I was absolutely obsessed with the star lamp above but my hubby said we absolutely didn’t have room for it on the airplane ~ I’m still a little sad about missing that one . . .

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I tried to find a way for you to check out last chance deals online, and this *may* help (I’d love your feedback on this?) I noticed that the IKEA Portland website is lists their last chance deals online, so check these out and *possibly* they’ll match up with your local store.

 

(If anyone happens to be near an IKEA and wants to do some deal checking, I’d love to hear if the Portland’s Last Chance deals match up ~ I know a few of these items were on sale when I checked them this week in Seattle ~ knowing those ahead of time would be fantastic!) 

 

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6. Watch for Member Only offers. 

Since you’re already signed up for IKEA Family (refer to secret #1) be sure to watch for IKEA member only offers throughout the store. Our store had the table and chairs shown in the above left picture for $149 (regularly $179), so keep your eyes peeled for extra savings.

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7. Watch for specials on fabric remnants.

If you sew (or are just a wee bit crafty), watch for discounted prices at IKEA on their fabric remnants. Their regular prices on fabric are pretty reasonable as well, so be sure to check out the fabric section while you’re there.

 

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8. Don’t miss price drops on all things random at IKEA.

While shopping IKEA you never know what item will be dropped ridiculously low. For example we noticed soccer balls for $4.99 as a price drop, which was such a weird deal to notice in the middle of everything else at IKEA!

 

Also be sure to look for fleece throws, pillows and even wrapping paper when you’re there. Their fleece throws are almost always under $5 (they were $2.29 at our store), and are perfect to grab for yourself, as well as one to donate to your local homeless shelter in the winter.

 

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9. Buy kids playroom furniture at IKEA.

The prices on kids playroom furniture (think easels, small tables and chairs, etc.) are incredible.

 

(That easel above? Just $14.99, compared to $40+ on Amazon.)

 

If you have small children or even homeschool, there is no other place to get everything you need at crazy good prices, so be sure to watch for those while you’re there. (Especially since kids tend to abuse these pretty quickly, there’s no reason to pay more!)

 

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10. If you’re shopping with kids, go on Tuesdays.

Kids eat free on Tuesdays at Ikea. And, some stores offer special promotions as well (for example, this week Seattle’s IKEA had kids eat free all week), so be sure to check the special offers area at your store for any additional savings in the IKEA restaurant before you shop.

 

11. Get free baby food every day of the week. 

With any purchase at IKEA, you’ll get FREE baby food in the IKEA restaurant with any purchase. They also have high chairs to use while you’re there.

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12. Get $25 off your $250 purchase if you’re moving.

Especially if you’re a student starting college (or have just moved), this is a great way to save. Go HERE to sign up.

 

 

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13. Don’t miss the 50¢ hot dogs.

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Pick up 50¢ hot dogs and $1 ice cream cones at Ikea, and you may want to grab a 6 pack of cinnamon rolls for the road priced at just $4.

 

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14. Be on the lookout for incredible prices in the bathroom and curtain sections at IKEA.

While I love the entire store, I always notice the very best prices on curtains and just about everything you need for the bathroom at IKEA. (99¢ toilet brushes? You can’t beat that!)

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Curtain panels are as low as $4.99 when on sale, and a great way to quickly save while you’re there.

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15. Check out the IKEA catalog before you shop.

Go HERE to view the IKEA catalog before you shop, and sign up for email updates which may include local savings as well. 

 

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Be sure to check out my top 22 items to watch for when shopping IKEA, and leave a comment if you’ve found other ways to save when you shop. I love hearing from you! 

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Looking for other ways to save at your favorite stores this spring?

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What Kind Of Saver Are You?

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I’ve been thinking lately that there are three different types of savers and spenders out there.  Here are the types I’ve seen . . .

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1.  Folks who save 70-90% on their grocery bill by using coupons at the grocery store. 

I would include my buddy Shannon in this group, and while I’ve been that girl before (and kind of miss her many days!), I wouldn’t put myself in that category right now. These are the people that never (ever) buy anything without a coupon or serious sale, spend a few hours each week reading frugal blogs, clipping coupons and organizing their grocery trips, and menu plan well so that they can use what’s in their pantry to maximize their savings. 

 

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2.  People who are a little more subtle about their savings and save probably 50-70% on their grocery bill. 

 

This is where I’m at right now, and where I’ve been for the last few years. People like me always (always) shop the sales ad, look over their store coupon matchups before shopping (sometimes using their mobile phone), and primarily print coupons from their computer without stressing over a coupon binder. Savings for them won’t be over 90%, but they do save quite a bit without too much effort. (And, if you’re one of those folks like me, you probably order many of your household products on sale at Amazon ~ have I mentioned grace lately? This is the grace I’m giving myself right now.) 😉

 

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3.  Others who really don’t pay attention to how much they save. 

These people go to the store because their pantry is empty, grab what they need (without considering the cost), and might feel pretty discouraged when they get home. (I tried just shopping this way at Walmart at the end of last year hoping to make life a little easier, but I was sick when I got home each week and realized how much money I was throwing away each time I shopped ~ I just can’t do that!)

 

So, what kind of saver are you, and how do you want your budget to look in 2014? As I’ve shared before (over and over!), there is no other area in your family’s budget that you have so much control over as you do grocery shopping, so this is a fantastic place to start.  I encourage you to decide TODAY how much you want to spend on groceries this month, and can’t wait to see how we do this year together!  Leave a comment to share your goals too.

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And one more thing ~ if you haven’t gotten my free stock up price list I highly recommend checking it out so you can determine what your basic prices should look like before picking up groceries each week. That alone should help you get started!

 

 

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Trinket Tray

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I love this cute trinket tray, and it would make such a simple Mother’s Day or teacher appreciation gift!

 

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Here’s what you’ll need to get started: 

  • Terracotta tray – I used the 4″ inch size
  • White paint – I used the acrylic kind sold at craft stores
  • Foam brush
  • Stencil of choice – purchased mine at Hobby Lobby
  • Gold paint pen or gold paint – found at craft stores

 

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Start by painting your terracotta tray white.

 

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Be sure to paint the bottom side too to finish the look.

 

 

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When the paint is completely dry, center your stencil on the tray.

 

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I used my gold paint pen and went right over the stencil.  (some paint pens bleed so you could trace the stencil with pencil then use your pen to fill in if you prefer)

 

 

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Remove stencil carefully.

 

 

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Allow to dry completely and you’re done. So fun!

 

Looking for more spring projects?  Here you go . . .

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

Interact with 470,000+ Penny Pinchers on Facebook and Twitter or Subscribe to Passionate Penny Pincher by email to keep up with all the penny pinchin’ deals!

 

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How Much To Budget For Car Repairs?

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A few years ago, my husband was out of town and I’d taken my youngest to run some errands while my other kiddos were at extracurricular activities.

 

We stopped at several different places, and sure enough at our very last stop my car completely stalled.

 

Now, I know nothing about cars, and of course (really?) I left my phone at home while hurrying out the door.

 

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So I was completely stuck, and ever so thankful for the sweet man who helped jump start my car. When I got home, I called my husband and he suggested I take it to get a new battery ~ thankfully they fixed everything right up and the car was just fine.

 

So why on earth am I telling you all this? 😉

 

While it really wasn’t a big deal at all, for a few minutes I was stranded, with no phone, no one really to call to come save me, and I was pretty worried.

 

However, I wasn’t worried at all about the cost of the repairs, because I knew we had saved for exactly this situation.  

 

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We had enough set aside in our car expense budget, and even though the situation was stressful, I could at least check that one off my worry list.

 

Wanna talk real numbers?  

 

Each month, my husband has a spreadsheet including all of our expenses (all based on the Dave Ramsey plan), so we budget $75 monthly for oil changes and car repairs per car.

 

We’ve been fortunate and haven’t needed much work on our minivan, so whatever additional money is put in that account now goes towards a new car fund when we need one. (Our car now has 189,000 miles on it, and it won’t be too long before we’re needing it!)

 

It’s worth keeping a minimum $700-$1000 in that account because I know just how quickly those car repair bills can add up, but you may decide on a different number, especially if you already have an emergency fund.

 

I really can’t tell you how much peace comes from having money set aside for specific items in our budget. Right now the big ticket items we save for monthly include home repairs, gifts, yard projects, a vacation fund (our favorite!), clothing and even our kids activities. If you don’t have a written budget, schedule a few minutes this week to get started.  (It will give you so much freedom!) And while I know it’s not always fun to put away some of your hard-earned money for not-so-fun expenses that pop up, I promise it’s so worth it.

 

 

Do you save towards car repairs or other specific items that you know can bust your budget? I’d love to hear how you determine what to save . . . leave a comment to share!

 

New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:

 

 

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The Greatest Coupon

This is a guest post that I’ve shared before from a friend of mine (who knows the value of a coupon!)  May you know the love and peace of Our Manufacturer all year long. :)

 

No deal is perfect. Everything has a cost. Many things come at a high price, yet thankfully most can be discounted. Some things can even be free with a great coupon!

 

The greatest coupons still have problems. Most will eventually expire. They are “void where prohibited.” There is a limit on how many people can use.

 

Some people don’t take advantage of great coupons though. Why? Maybe some don’t even know about them. Even if they do, they might defiantly refuse to use them. Some people don’t believe they are really worth anything. But every coupon has worth in our eyes, right? Maybe non-couponers would cash in on the offers if they were just taught how. We couponers should share the good news!

 

So here’s the gist of how to reap the benefits: 1) Seek out something you love. 2) Find a coupon, maybe from the manufacturer. 3) Pay the price for the item. 4) Once the coupon has been redeemed, celebrate how much you saved! 5) Tell everyone you know about your great deal. Happy shopping!

 

 

 

No one is perfect. Our sins have a cost. Many sins come at a high price, yet thankfully they can be discounted. We can even be free with the “Greatest Coupon.”

 

The Greatest Coupon has no problems. It will never expire. It is never void or prohibited. There is no limit on how many people can use it.

 

Some people don’t take advantage of the Greatest Coupon though. Why? Maybe some don’t even know about it. Even if they do, they might defiantly refuse to use it. Some people don’t believe they are really worth anything, but every person has worth in God’s eyes. Maybe non-Christians would cash in on the offer if they were just taught how. We have the opportunity to share the Good News!

 

So here’s the gist of how to reap the benefits: 1) God sought out someone he loves—you. 2) We have a coupon from our Manufacturer. 3) Jesus paid the price for our sins. 4) Since our sins have been redeemed, we can celebrate as we have new life. 5) Tell everyone you know about the Greatest Coupon. Happy Easter!

 

 

My prayer for you this Easter is that you mayt know salvation from the One who values you so greatly that He willingly gave His life for you. It truly is the greatest gift we’ll each receive, and allows us freedom that comes only from Him. As my son reminds me each Easter morning, “Christ is risen!” He is risen indeed.

 

Photo courtesy of billaday on Flickr.

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How Real Budgeting Looks In Our House

 

How Real Budgeting Works In Our House

 

Download your free copy of a Monthly Budget Spreadsheet HERE to get started.

 

I get tons of questions for more information on exactly how we handle budgeting around here, so here’s a quick overview of our monthly budget planning.

 

We by no means have it all figured out, but this is what’s worked for us for almost twenty years . . . maybe it will help you too!

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We started years ago using the Financial Peace envelope system, however, at least for our family, keeping up with cash for every single item was just difficult to manage. So, here’s how we’ve tweaked it to work for us:

  • Every two weeks (on Friday), we withdraw cash for groceries, dining out, and entertainment
  • Once a month, we have an automatic withdrawal taken out of our checking account and deposited into savings for other specific items (keep reading)
  • When we need one of those specific items, we transfer money back into checking from savings to cover those expenses.

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So, what kind of things do we budget for beyond food? Here’s an idea . . .
  • Kids sports and extracurricular activities
  • Vacations
  • Christmas gifts (we start saving every January)
  • Birthday gifts
  • Car expenses
  • Car replacement
  • Life insurance
  • Home Owners Association dues
  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Yard Maintenance
  • Furniture Replacement (I don’t think my husband puts much in this one, but I forced him to add it in the spreadsheet) 😉
  • Clothing
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Hair Care
  • School Supplies
  • College Fund
  • “Blow” money
Then, within our monthly budget we have a separate tab (we use a simple Excel spreadsheet) that includes our savings account totals. I just looked at it this morning and the one that we currently are using has been around since 2007 ~ it was interesting that we now have well over ten times what we started with in that little savings account, and I can’t tell you just how much freedom comes with that!

 

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If you’re new to budgeting, here are several free budget spreadsheets you can use to get you started :

 

I’d love to know how your family handles monthly budget expenses, and what other suggestions you have. Leave a comment to share ~ I love hearing from you!

 

 

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7 Items You Should Always Look for at the Dollar Tree {Before Paying Full Price}

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I soooo love a trip to the Dollar Tree when it comes to gathering supplies for DIY projects and crafts ~ it’s amazing all they have to offer!  You can find some really cute stuff there, as well as crafting basics to have on hand when the Pinterest bug bites. :)

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A DIY project shouldn’t cost you more than buying the real deal at a home decor store, and a trip to the Dollar Tree before paying retail can save you a bundle. Check out these 7 items you should always look for at the Dollar Tree {BEFORE paying full price!}

 

 

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1 . Floral Picks & Berries

These come in handy for making inexpensive wreaths or front door arrangements as the seasons change, or a fresh centerpiece for the table.

 

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While there definitely are a few tacky flowers in the bunch, watch for a few that may work perfectly for your project. (Look for flowers or berries that look as close to real as possible.)  The smaller flowers and berry picks tend look to be a little more upscale than the big blooms.  (And what about those ADORABLE little faux succulents in pots?! I love those!)

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2 . Mason Jars, Glass Vases & Glass Jars

One of the things I use most often in changing up the mantle or table decor are small glass jars. In fact, every time I walk in the Dollar Tree I make a beeline for the glassware aisle (I’m like a kid in a candy store when I’m there!)

 

How to Decorate for Fall at the Dollar Tree

 

Place a tall candle in the center of the vase or jar (you can even sneak a can under your candle to beef up a $1 Dollar Tree candle) and on the outside, layer with whatever seasonal decor you like (like corn for fall, Valentine candy in February, peppermint sticks at Christmas) ~ the possibilities are endless.

 

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Tie on some Dollar Tree ribbon and Dollar Tree decor, and you’ve got a super cute centerpiece for just a few bucks. :)

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Mason Jars are handy for all kinds of stuff . . . especially gifting goodies, like this simple Dollar Tree Easter Craft.

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Or add a little spray paint for Spring vases too. 

And they make expensive-looking containers for birthday party favors too. (I love those!)

 

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3 . Pots & Tins

Use pots and tins to organize a desk area and cut down clutter.  Do you have a silhouette cutter? (I love mine!)  Customize a pot or tin with a monogram  ~ chalkboard stickers work great too.  These candy-colored guys will add a little splash of color to a shelf display, or make them match your decor with spray paint.

Flower pots with a plant inside make great gifts too.  Let the kids paint a flower pot for Grandparent’s day and plant some seeds in it for an inexpensive gift.

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4 . Frames

Inexpensive plastic frames are easy to transform with spray paint to coordinate with your wall collage – and no one will be able to tell those frames are just a buck.

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You can also place a cute piece of fabric behind the glass to make a simple dry erase frame.  Use it to display your weekly menu plan or to-do list.

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5 . Project Boards

This is my favorite thing to buy at the Dollar Tree. :) 

I’m always shocked at how much some stores charge for project boards or foam boards – definitely stock up on these for $1 when you get a chance!  They’re great for making signs and kids craft projects, and you can’t beat snatching them up for a buck.

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6 . Craft Foam Wreaths & Balls

I could only find the floral foam wreaths this trip, but watch for craft foam and even small grapevine wreaths too.  (In a pinch – a pool noodle can work as a wreath base as well!)

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Build on them by adding your favorite floral or berry picks, spray painted Easter eggs, or  a monogram in the middle.

 

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7 . Ribbons, Twine, Glue Guns & Washi Tape

A pretty ribbon or twine bow can make the perfect finishing touch – but craft stores can charge $3 or $4 for a spool of ribbon.

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Gather a few colors you like to have on hand at the Dollar Tree – you might even get lucky and find some burlap ribbon (woot!) which is useful for all sorts of crafts.

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Bonus tip . . .

Watch the Dollar Tree for aluminum containers ~ while these are great for baking and taking meals in, I love them for easy clean up when working on a crafting project. Fun!

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Do you love shopping the Dollar Tree as much as I do? :) Check out these extra saving secrets (they even take coupons ~ love that!), and leave a comment to share your favorite Dollar Tree finds.

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