Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Wrap Up

I am so very glad this month is over. I know I said I would not revamp my budget but it happened - I revamped it - again. I have discovered its pretty hard to keep to a predetermined dollar amount to put on debt when every month seems to bring expenses I should have planned for. Case in point - this month I forgot to budget for a birthday gift for my brother and our anniversary dinner out. So - I did not pay off my Macy's card. At least I didn't add to that debt!

So, my new philosophy? Pay all of my bills (including debt minimum payments), budget for food and gas as well as any expenses that are not normal but may come up. Whatever is left over get's split in to thirds. One third goes in to savings, one third goes towards an extra debt payment on whatever debt we are paying down and one third is our fun money for the month. The less extra expenses we have the more each of our thirds will have in it. Also, the more we pay debt off the more we will have to roll in to the debts that are left.

One of the struggles I had this month was groceries and gas. For the first three months between my husband and I we got a paycheck once a week which made it easy to stick to $100 for groceries and $35 for gas (we carpool) a week. With my pay periods so wonky it was harder to stick to that budget which is why we went over.

So, as far as goals for this month...

Finances
Debt reduction: April $1212.92 - actual $917 (minimum payments), May $1074
Pay off credit card: Macy's - nope, May none scheduled to pay off
Savings: not scheduled - actual $150, May $157
Eating out/Coffee: April $120 - actual $230.46, May $120
Groceries: April $400 - actual $439.83, May $400
Odd expenses: none, May BJ vet, Costco membership, sister b-day gift, SD b-day gift, mothers day, BMW club membership - yikes an expensive month!

Health
BJ dog park every weekend: went several times not only on the weekend - continue
Walk every Sunday: twice due to illness and another scheduled event - continue
Walk pier every Thursday: walked several times not only on Thursday - continue
Wii fit and elliptical 3 days a week: yeah no - get back to it and combine with 30 Day Shred
TV viewing during work week 8 hours: did pretty well keeping to my scheduled shows - continue
Computer time during work week 5 hours: yeah no - be better
Drink 8 glasses of water a day: not stellar at this - be better

Hand Crafting
Was not really in the mood for that this month. Not certain what I will do in May. I have an out fit I want to make and I already have the fabric. Maybe this weekend...

Decluttering and Condo Projects
Stuff behind couch: still there
Stuff along TV wall in master bedroom: still there
Buy and install new master bedroom door: its been purchased - need a tool

101 Things
Did not actively work on this. Will get two accomplished in May.

Our first goal is to reduce a personal loan we have so we can refinance and lower our payment. This debts minimum payment is half of our debt payments in a month. By reducing the balance and refinancing we can increase the money we have available to us every month. Then we can focus on getting our credit cards paid off.

You may have noticed that my net worth badge is gone. If you choose to make your net worth badge public on a blog anyone can google you and find it. That was just something I didn't want so public.

One of the most significant things I have decided to do is start a home business. I have been reading a really great book called The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. After the week I have had I have realized that I really want to have freedom. I don't need millions of dollars - just freedom. I am fed up with the status quo!

Want I want to do with this home business is use the money I make to pay my debt down even faster and increase my savings even more. I want to be able to quit my job and design a life for myself and my husband. This will free up time to do what I really love. More on this to come.

Here's to a great May!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Change of Plans

Today the hubs and I were going to top off our weekend with a ferry ride to Kingston and some Geocaching. The car died. The hubs spent the better part of three hours replacing a car battery and a connecting cable. Disappointing but the day was not completely wasted. We did go Geocaching but stayed local.


We went to Grand Avenue Park in Everett, a town to the north of us. This is a small park overlooking the Everett marina and Naval Station.


Along the road across the street from the park are many old homes some dating as far back as the 1890's when Everett was a mill town. One house was the home of a United States Senator.

Sadly we did not find the Cache but the dog had a great time rolling around in the grass and meeting new doggie friends.

We drove down to the water and found the local brewery of a beer we enjoy.


After our trip to the park we stopped at some friends house near the park before heading home. Today was a little cold but still nice and we enjoyed getting out. I didn't feel like doing too much strenuous activity as I had done a couple hours of yard work Saturday and I was really sore.


Well, tomorrow is Monday....

I want to be just like Carrie Fisher but without the addiction and manic depression

Last night the hubs and I went to see Carrie Fisher who is in town doing her Wishful Drinking show. Wishful Drinking is a book she wrote and subsequently a show she created based on her life. It really felt like we were hanging out in her living room (with 200 of her closest friends) listening to her talk about things that had happened to her. She has a way of speaking about things that make you laugh and make you want to hear more. Of course, how can you not take her seriously when she is wearing a Princess Leia wig?

Before the show I ran in to a friend from college who actually used to live in North Carolina when I lived there ten years ago. It was great to see him and a couple of other college friends.

Well, off to breakfast, a ferry ride and Geocashing!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Anniversary

Today is the hubs and my five year anniversary. We are starting our celebration by going out to dinner to our favorite place for fish tacos and a movie tonight. Tomorrow we will do some local Geocaching and my parents bought us tickets to see Carrie Fisher. Sunday we plan on taking the ferry to Kingston for some more Geocaching and a picnic lunch.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!


A friend sent this to me and I just had to post it. A local soda company, Jones Soda is going off the grid today. The way they are running power for computer is for employees to take turns riding bikes. Click here for the article.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How Far Would You Go?

The hubs and I had an interesting conversation on the way home from work last night. We were talking about how drastic we could get if we wanted to free up $$$ to pay our debt down as fast as possible.

Currently we live in a two bedroom condo that we own. We have two cars but only one car payment and right now we can commute to and from work together until my office moves next April.

We have a budget we follow that includes bills such as savings and extra debt. With this budget we will be able to get all of our consumer debt paid off in just under three years. Mind you, the stuff I am more concerned about will take less time.

If we were desperate we could rent out our condo with the expectation of receiving enough in rent to cover the mortgage and home owners dues. That would free up around $1100 per month.

But where would we live? We could move to my parents (about ten minutes away) and sell all unnecessary items/furniture so we would not have to store it. Our utilities would go down as we would be sharing a house with my parents. We would of course pay them some rent unless they wanted to allow us to live there rent free to help us get out of debt and their house as fast as possible.

In this scenario of living at my parents house and renting out our condo out for one year. We could funnel a total of $13,200 extra dollars to our debt on top of the minimum payments and extra money already being paid out. That would be a total of $25,716 for the year. That would leave us with a car payment and a student loan payment, we could move back to our condo and go about our lives.

The trade off would be living with my parents which I just don't think I could do. I don't want to give up that amount of freedom for a year to knock roughly a year and a half off my debt repayment plan. So, this is a worst case scenario in my book.

What would you do?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hat Trick

A couple years ago the hubs and I bought a GPS to start Geocashing. We thought it would be fun to "treasure hunt" and get some exercise in the great outdoors. I first heard about it on Weirdy Pants blog. The first few times we went though were disappointing because we just were not lucky enough to find any of the caches.

We decided to try again (two years later) and brought along our friend Kerry who ended up being our good luck charm. We pulled a hat trick today and found three of three caches.

Cache number one was actually pretty near our house. A small park near some soccer fields in a residential neighborhood. With our GPS its supposed to get you within 25 feet of the logitude and latitude coordinates you plug in. Our only clues were it would be in a bison at the base of the "hugging tree". We were a little concerned the hugging tree would not be there as some of the trees in this park had been cut down right in the general area of the GPS coorindates. Kerry looked up and discovered what she thought could be the hugging tree.

As descriptions for natural things go I thought hugging tree was pretty appropriate. We looked in the base of the tree and found the bison. We were expecting to find a bison shaped container. What they meant by bison was a small waterproof container. HeHe - can you tell we are newbies?

Here is Chris and Kerry looking in the base of the hugging tree. We were able to pull out the well hidden bison with a stick. I certainly was not going to stick my hand in that hole!

Inside was a tightly wrapped "scroll" of paper where we could write our Geocashing name and date, roll it back up, stuff it back inside and place it back in the base of the tree.


Cache number two was another small park in the area. This cache was a little more out in the open. Our clue was that it was under a west facing seat at a picnic table. This one was pretty easy to find. The picnic table had metal parts and the bison was taped to a magnet and stuck under the seat.


The cool thing about this cache was the person who created it put information about Geocashing including the website on the scroll of paper you can sign. That way if someone found it by accident they could learn about Geocaching as well as discover a new hobby and not disturb for others who were looking for it.

The park was small and I forgot to get a shot of the picnic table but I did get a shot of Puget Sound from a hill near the table. The tiny specks in between the trees were a bunch of sailboats (my zoom is not stellar on my digital camera). It really was a great Pacific Northwest day to be outside!


I thought this bridge over the railroad tracks was cool. There are a few houses that are between the railroad tracks and the beach near the park with the second cache.

Our third cache was the most challenging in terms of actually finding the park. We had the GPS coordinates and new the area in general. Thankfully we had a Thomas Guide in the trunk. We pulled in to an elementary school parking lot and had a snack of apples, cheese and coffee (thank you Kerry!) while we took our bearings. By finding the school on the map we were able to locate a really small park which was exactly where we needed to go according to the GPS coordinates and the description of the site.

Here is the path in the park where we found our third cache. The picture above does not due credit to how steep the trail actually is. The photo below is dubbed "loincloth tree" due to the pattern of the ferns on the tree trunk by my SD.


Our only clues to the cache were it was about eight feet off the path to the west and if we went too far we would have a very steep climb back to the trail head. Because of the tree canopy it was messing a little with the GPS. We were not quite certain how far down the trail to go. We figured since the author of the cache didn't mention a fork we would look off the trail before the fork. My SD was hiding behind a tree just off the trail and it looked to be the right distance away.


Without even realizing it she was standing directly over the cache. It was hidden by a piece of wood covered with leaves.

The plastic container had camouflage tape over it and was filled with little trinkets and a log to place your name. One of the Geocaching rules was if there is something there to take you need to replace it with something. We took a fake gold coin and left two Chinese finger cuffs and a pack of cards. Isn't it amazing what you can find in your car that you don't need? That will remind us to go to the dollar store and invest in some trinkets to keep in the car for our next Geocache trip.

After several hours of successful "treasure hunting" and fresh air it was time to head home. If we don't go again tomorrow we will go next weekend. The hubs founds some caches in one of our favorite dog parks. My sewing machine is calling to me and I have fabric set aside for an outfit to make.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring is Here

Spring is officially here, I see evidence sprouting up all around me. Yet its still so darn cold! They say it might even snow this week.

Over the Easter weekend we didn't do much since it was raining. In fact, I can't remember an Easter weekend in the Pacific Northwest where it hasn't rained. We did not dye eggs this year. I didn't really even think about it since I have teenagers that don't seem much interested.

I'm starting to get cabin fever though. Last night the hubs and I took the dog on an extended walk around the neighborhood just to be outside. We had thought about going down to the pier but it was threatening rain.

We are gearing up for some projects inside and out. We have our hearth that needs some tile, a new mantle to be built that can accomodate a 42" flat panel (still need to buy that - we are budgeting for it), I have some gardening to attend to and a dining canopy to build. I'm even in the mood for some sewing.


Photo of my garden from last summer - inspiration to get out in the yard this weekend. Maybe I'll even get a few more of these.

Ready for spring!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hoppy Easter!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Amazing

I am a fan of vintage. I am a fan of people who love vintage. I am a fan of people who live vintage. Pop on over to Mary Deluxe's page and check out the chic headboard she made for her bed all by herself!


Did I mention I am also a fan of pin up girls?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Life Is Too Short

This last weekend here in the Pacific Northwest was absolutely beautiful! It actually reached over 60 degrees in some places and there was no rain! We had the patio doors open most of yesterday and fired up the grill Saturday night. I feel like Spring is officially here.


The hubs wasn't feeling to well yesterday or we would have gone out. If this weekend is pretty we will grab our GPS and definately do some Geocashing!


One of my best friends called me this morning and we chatted for a bit. She lives in MA and I am in WA. We have known each other over 20 years. She gave me good news about her dad - in remission thank you very much.


I have been inspired and actually started a blog post before I found this post which led to this post. Its like they were reading my mind. So, in the spirit of 'mushroom caps' I give you my life is too short list.


My life is too short to.....


Live in clutter and ugliness. Once and for all I want the clutter gone and I want my living space. The space I share with my husband and bonus kids to reflect us and how we choose to live. I want our surroundings to enhance our true selves and relaxed approach to life.


To put it bluntly - eat crap. I want what I eat to fuel me for the day and add to my health and energy. Not bog me down. I want to grow fruits and veggies I can cook with in my garden and shop the farmers market on a Saturday morning.

Move. I need to get out and exercise every day. The weather is getting nicer the days are staying lighter later and Spring is here. I am ready for it!

Relax - read more, sleep in more, enjoy my family and friends more.

Live creatively. Make more clothing like I sued to enjoy doing. Learn to utilize our power tools to make things for my home. Indulge in writing my book.

What is your life too short for?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Inspirations

The other day I was going through my house decluttering and came across my "tear sheets". I have been in the habit for the past twenty years to tear pages out of magazines of things I like. Clothing, recipies, decorated rooms, crafts, gardening ideas, whatever. Anyway, I had a stack of these pages that I finally organized. I pulled a bunch of clothing ones out and took some photos for inspiration.

This is a Ralph Lauren dress of camel colored herringbone cashmere and brown leather inspired by a horses saddle. Yum!

It would look great with these Adrienne Vittadini mules.

I have always loved the dress Nicole Kidman wore to the Oscars. The color was amazing and I think the choice of light blue shoes was perfect!

I love blue and brown together. This photo actually inspired me to make a similar skirt in red taffeta for a formal holiday party at my husbands work. I have worn it with a cashmere sweater and as pictured here with a white button down shirt and grey cashmere wrap.

This sweater looks so cozy and I love the detail on the hem of the jeans. As soon as I find some great ribbon I am going to do this.

Then I can pair them with a pair of shoes like the ones below (I actually have a pair).

Something about lounging around in velvet sweatpants styled like mens tuxedo pants - so decadent!

I think this next outfit would be great at a winter wedding. Something for the mother of the bride but of course not in white. Wouldn't want to upstage the bride!

There is something impossible about this outfit that I just love. From the see through top to the "bustle" on the pack of the pant.