May 30, 2008

Party Time!

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:57 pm by bitsypieces

The 127th Festival of Frugality is available at Funny About Money!

Aside from my own post, my favorite submissions include:

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Maternity Frump

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:59 pm by bitsypieces

I’ve been doing some browsing at Mrs. Fussypants Guide to Life, and I am loving her blog. I especially love her Fight the Frump series. I’m already worried that I’m turning into a frumpy, dumpy housewife, and I’m kinda hoping that staying inspired with some chic mommy blogs will keep me far away from the land of “mom jeans” and “muffin tops.”

Today, however, I must confess to my maternity frump. It’s currently 5:56PM, and I am still wearing my maternity nightgown. (And, as many of you know, only a muumuu is less flattering than a maternity nightgown.) Sure… Hubby is at work and I don’t plan to leave the house today. But does that really excuse my frumpiness?

We’re hosting a BBQ tomorrow… burgers, beers, friends, family. Rather than wearing my oversized maternity cargo pants and a plain maternity t-shirt, I may jazz things up with a little sundress. AND I’ll wear some lipstick. Maybe that will be enough to make up for today’s maternity frump.

And from now on, this is my solemn vow: No more maternity nightgowns past noon.

May 27, 2008

Joint or Separate Accounts?

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:27 pm by bitsypieces

A recent post at Clever Dude inspired me to think about the financial situation in our marriage.

Before we tied the knot 6 years ago, Hubby and I disagreed about joint versus separate bank accounts. He wanted separate accounts (as his parents had). I wanted a joint account (as my parents had).

His reasons for separate accounts:

  • I tended to be a bit of a spendthrift, and had a history of being irresponsible with my money.
  • It made it easier to buy gifts for one another.

My reasons for a joint account:

  • I believed marriage was a partnership in ALL things, including money.
  • I knew the logistical hassle of evenly dividing our money (especially since there were significant differences in the amount we earned) would be a nightmare.

Ultimately, we went with joint accounts. I felt quite strongly about the issue, and I think Hubby just didn’t feel like arguing about it. And, at the time we were married and the decision was made, I was the only earner in our family (he was attending school full-time). I was also the one who handled all of our finances, from investing to budgeting. As a result, it was all in my hands anyway.

Now that 6 years has passed, he agrees that we made the right decision.

Initially, I felt that–as the only bread winner–our finances should be joint so that Hubby didn’t feel like I was giving him an “allowance.” (For some reason, many men feel their masculinity is tied to their income.) Now that the tables have turned and he’s the primary earner (my income is very small), I’m glad I don’t feel like he’s “giving” me money every month.

We have arguments about money. Often. And we have heated discussions about spending, saving and budgeting. But overall, I feel that handling these issues together–and having open talks about them–is better for our marriage than a “yours and mine” approach.

I realize our way isn’t the way for every marriage. We all have different emotional baggage when it comes to finances. But for us, a 100% shared financial picture is the best way to do it.

May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:13 pm by bitsypieces

Land of the free… Because of the brave!

May 22, 2008

Freezer Stock

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:17 pm by bitsypieces

So far in the deep freeze:

  • 10 Breakfast Sandwiches (sausage, egg, cheese, English Muffin)
  • 15 PB&Js
  • 12 Twice-Baked Potatoes

Slowly but surely…

May 20, 2008

Freezer Meals Without The Hassle of OAMC

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:42 pm by bitsypieces

So now that we own a deep freeze, I’m going to start thinking about stocking it with meals!

Many frugal and busy folks use Once-A-Month-Cooking (OAMC) to stock their freezers, save money and save time.  OAMC typically involves a 24-48 hour marathon period of shopping, prepping and cooking that results in 20-30 meals that can be frozen for a month’s worth of dinners.

It sounds like a great plan, and I envy those for whom it works.  However, it would never work for me.  I get frustrated, tired and bored by the time I’ve spent longer than 3 hours in the kitchen.  By the 4th hour, I no longer feel motivated to cook.  I just want my kitchen to be clean again.

Fortunately, there are some other ways to fill a freezer.  I plan to use these two methods:

  • Maybe once a week or so, spending a few hours cooking up two different meals that use some similar ingredients (like spaghetti sauce and chili).  So I could easily get four meals (two spaghetti and two chili) in a short period of time.
  • Doubling or tripling batches when I make meals for us right now–like veggie lasagna–and freezing leftovers.

I also plan to spend an afternoon or so doing an “assembly line” of things that can work for Hubby’s lunchbox.

Thus far, the only thing I’ve managed to freeze is about a dozen sandwiches made from sausage, eggs, cheese and English Muffins.  These make good, quick breakfast meals and can also be thrown into Hubby’s lunch.

Today I may try to do a big batch of PB&Js for Hubby’s lunch.  According to a post at Clever Dude, they freeze well and defrost into a tasty sandwich.

Anyone have any other ideas for lunch foods that freeze well?

May 16, 2008

Your Salary: $117,000

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:24 pm by bitsypieces

My Two Dollars had a recent post about a Salary.com study, which found Stay-At-Home-Moms (SAHMs) deserve an annual salary of $117,000!

The salary figure is based on similar jobs that moms regularly do–such as housekeeper, cook, van driver and psychologist.

Want to find out how much you’re worth?  Check out Salary.com’s Mom’s Salary Wizard, which helps you determine your annual salary based on your personal information (such as the number of kids you have, your zip code, and the hours you spend performing various tasks).

May 14, 2008

Time is NOT on my side

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:54 pm by bitsypieces

Struck with the realization that Baby will be arriving in about 8 weeks, I am forced to acknowledge that I will not be accomplishing many of the tasks I had hoped to complete before having children.

For example, it’s probably much too late to start studying for my Personal Trainer certification.

It’s also probably too late to run a marathon.  (Though I still cling to the hope that I’ll one day cross that 26.2-mile finish line.)

Rather, I’m trying to focus on the few things I did complete.  I am a certified SCUBA diver.  Hubby and I both did our first skydives.  I wrote a novel (though it remains unpublished).  I published a short story.  I ran a 5k race.  I sold numerous magazine articles.  I married the man I love.  I achieved my purple belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Eight weeks isn’t much time.  But I think–with total dedication and resolution–I can accomplish one more achievement.

My goal:  To finish rewriting/editing my second novel.

And these wise words from Bunker Hunt will be my inspiration:

“To be successful, you must decide exactly what you want to accomplish, then resolve to pay the price to get it.”

May 13, 2008

Our Cold Experience

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:37 pm by bitsypieces

We finally purchased a deep freeze.

Large appliance stores are limited in my area.  Our choices are Best Buy, Lowes, Home Depot, Sears and one independent appliance store.  There are a few used appliance stores, but their inventory is questionable and their prices are comparable to new, bargain-priced appliances.

We spent approximately 3 weeks browsing for a new deep freeze.  We knew we wanted an upright, and we knew we needed at least 11 cubic feet.  We were willing to go with a manual defrost to save the money.

We visited each store at least twice to check out their prices and sales.  Sears seemed to change their prices most often, and were most likely to have floor models for sale.

Early on in our shopping–the first day we really browsed for freezers–we found an 11 cubic foot model for $270.  It was the final day of the sale.  I knew this was a great price, since I’d been watching sales fliers and browsing websites for weeks.  Hubby, however, insisted that we comparison shop some more.

For the next three weeks or so we shopped and compared.  We never found a deal that good again.

Instead, we ended up with a foot floor model for $300 (including 6% tax).  Not a bad deal, but not as good as the original one we saw.

The moral of the story:  If you see a bargain–and you know it’s a bargain–scoop it up before the sale ends.

May 6, 2008

Growing My Own

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:13 pm by bitsypieces

After discussing stockpiled food and buying local produce, I realized that the absolute cheapest method is one that many of my frugal brethren employs: gardening.

It’s true that gardening is the most frugal method of obtaining food. I’ve tried my hand at it during three different seasons, and the results are always dismal at best.

For some reason, God decided to bless me with a brown thumb. Everything I grow in the ground tends to wither and die.

I’m skipping the growing season this year. With Baby on the way, I have enough to occupy my time.

But next year I may give it another attempt. Until then, I’ll just have to enjoy the farm-fresh produce of my neighbors.

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