Friday, January 31, 2014

Baby Savings

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, we make our own baby food.  My friend, Sadaf, got us the Baby Bullet as a shower gift.  At Turner’s 4 month check-up she was cleared for solids!  Now, the pediatric “solids” aren’t actually solids.  They just mean purees.  To the usual baby-food-from-a-jar family, this adds a little extra cost to the monthly budget.  For us it’s about $4 per week.  Not bad for the little Tu to have fresh, organic fruits and veggies!  

I wish I had recipes for this, but it’s so easy no recipe is necessary.  I guess I was a little lost on how to cook the different foods for the least amount of nutrient loss.  Avocados don’t need to be cooked at all, just scoop those bad boys in the Bullet!  With apples, baking and steaming are the best.  We’ve done both.  Steaming took a lot less time, and I thought it was easier.  We have a rice cooker with a steaming tray on top.  I just peeled (worst part) and chopped one apple, dumped some water in the bottom of the cooker, threw the apple chunks in the steaming tray, put the lid on, and let it rip!  While I was waiting for that, I pureed a banana.  In a half hour or so I had enough food for three to four days of good eats!  

I also made some rice cereal.  That was a little tricky.  The recipe that made the most sense to me called for you to grind up the rice first, before cooking.  The Bullet had some issues with that.  I think it’s better equipped to grind up soft stuff.  I ground up that rice until I smelled the motor in the Bullet get too hot.  The rice still wasn’t fully turned to dust (that’s what you’re looking for, by the way).  I thought I could sift it, but it turns out we don’t have a sifter or a strainer; might have to invest in one of the two.  After a good sifting, the ratio of rice to water for cooking is ½ rice to 4 cups water.  I don’t think I did it right, but I just brought the water and rice dust to a boil, then cooked it till I thought it looked done.  This is probably not a good method.  20 minutes of cook time is what the recipe I followed said (I really only followed the first part, not the cooking part…).  The first time baby girl had the rice cereal, she ate it plain.  Then she got a taste of fruits, and it was goodbye plain rice.  Now we have to mix some fruit in the cereal (not a big deal).  Tutu’s menu to date has included the following: apples, banana, sweet potatoes, avocado, and carrots.  So far it seems she will eat just about any fruit or veggie you feed her, but the top of her list belongs to apples and carrots.  She LOVES those two.  She almost sat up out of her semi-recline to get closer to the spoon.  

Homemade baby=success!  I definitely suggest trying it.  I can’t wait to try actual recipes when she’s a little older!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Slip Up

It was just a matter of time, right?  The mall was calling my name this weekend.  As many of you shoppers know, January is an amazing time for sales.  Gap dramatically marks down their prices (they had men’s jeans for $15 each!).  Just like its big sister, Baby Gap marks down their clothes, too.  I got Turner a romper, swimsuit, headband, and shoes for just under $20!  She also got two sleepers and two outfits from Macy’s (I had a gift card so this part doesn't really count) for about $45.  The prices were amazing.  I didn’t even look at my section of Gap.  I have vowed to not buy any clothes until all the baby weight is gone.  I still have about 15lbs left (funny enough, that’s about how much Tutu weighs).  
Oh, and I went to Target (bad news bears) and got more than formula.  *We love their Up and Up brand of soy formula.  It’s half the price, and Tu spits up less than when we used the Enfamil ProSobee* Tutu needed a Valentine’s outfit and matching shoes, right?!  The girl can’t go anywhere without a bib, so she got some of those, too.  I walked out of Target $85 poorer.
How does all this fit in the budget?  Oh, right.  It doesn’t.  About once a month I get an itch to shop.  I see this as a victory, since it used to be about every three days.  Lately, Zach has done the grocery shopping (yes I even get my shopping high from the grocery store) since the car seat takes up a majority of the cart.  I needed my fix.  I hadn’t shopped since Christmas, and I got that done early (thank you, Cyber Monday).  After church on Sunday, Mama and Brian took us to Flat Top (Thank You!) and asked if we wanted to go to the mall with them.  We thought it would be fun to push Tutu around in the stroller, so we said yes.  We spent about 3 hours walking around, going in and out of stores.  Word to the wise: if you can’t hold yourself back, don’t even go!  EVERYTHING was on sale.  I was saving my Macy’s GC for Tutu’s Easter dress/hat, but we’ll have to put that in April’s budget.
Hopefully, this will be the last shopping trip for awhile.  Maybe when Tutu is in all that ridiculous stuff from Justice, I won’t be so tempted.  Any slip ups out there?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Meal Planning

Zach’s good friend, Decatur (the one that visited with his girlfriend, Deana, a couple weeks ago) wrote me a message on Facebook before his visit.  It was all about tips to save money on food.  As previously noted, spending money on food is our biggest struggle.  I used to go without food to buy shoes, but times have changed…
He said one of his best money saving tips is meal planning. This week will be my first attempt at making a meal plan and only buying groceries that correspond to it.  Oh, and all meals will be vegan.  Double whammy. (If you’re interested in our diet, we highly recommend Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bastard.  They’re worth the read even if you aren’t thinking of a vegan lifestyle because they’re so funny!) Luckily, our Kroger is pretty good about keeping vegan alternatives in stock.  We also use the Kroger app to load our card with coupons.  You don’t need the physical coupon; the discount happens automatically when you scan your card and buy the product.
First, I decided to brainstorm.  My biggest issue with meal planning is not being in the mood for that night’s assigned meal.  I can’t even pick out my outfit the night before because, inevitably, I don’t feel like wearing it the next day.  I’m not going to try any new recipes (except maybe a dessert surprise for my hubby) this time.  I would like to make it as simple as possible.  And we’ll have to shop for the little Tu this trip, because she’s eating real food!  Proud Mama over here!

Next step: fill out my fancy Meal Plan sheet.  One of my bffs, Lisa, got these for us as a wedding gift.  (She also got us check-it-of-when-it’s-gone grocery lists: best idea ever.)  I included what Tutu would be eating as well.  We’re not supposed to introduce new foods too quickly, so she eats the same thing for three days.  This is an easy way to keep track.  I also included a couple snacks that are easy to grab, but still healthy.  

Now the list.  Tutu’s list is easy.  She needs 1 banana, 1 sweet potato, and 1 avocado.  Done.  Our list is a little more tricky.  We love (love isn’t a strong enough word, are in love?) with Daiya “cheese”.  It is the best vegan cheese hands down.  It actually melts.  That’s usually my main complaint (I almost said main beef…but that seemed inappropriate) with other vegan cheeses.  It is tapioca-based and soy-free.  We eat a lot of soy elsewhere in our diet, so we cut back where we can.  Anyway, our local Kroger doesn’t carry it, so we venture out of town for it (it’s that good).  
I forgot the list page at home, so this time I’m doing it the old fashioned way: by hand.  We WILL stick to the list.  I’ll follow up after week 1 of meal planning.

Do any of you follow a strict meal plan?  How does that work out?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Date Day!

Zach and I are firm believers in dates after you’re married.  BT (Before Tutu) we usually had dinner out once or twice (or three times) every weekend.  Now, as noted earlier this month, we are allotting one meal out per month.  Well, we both blew it this month.  We both had breakfast at McDonald’s separately (gross). 

Well, lucky for us, we had gift cards!!!  I had a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card from my former manager, and we got movie theater gift cards from family friends last Christmas.  Hooray date day!  Sunday was the only day this would happen.  Zach has wrestling tournaments just about every Saturday until March. We are too busy during the week to fit in date night, so Sunday was the lucky winner!  We decided to go right after church since my parents could take Tu home from there, and we’d already be in town.  So, off to B-dubs we went!  We ate quickly (the service was great) and decided phones would only be for emergencies.  Then we headed to the theater.  We saw American Hustle (really great) and talked about it the whole way to my parents’ house. 

So, there you have our free day date!  It wasn’t totally free.   We did have to pay $2.68 at lunch to include a tip, but I think that’s okay since both our meals this month were at McD’s (not exactly fine dining prices).  Next month we will be stronger (especially since we don’t have any more gift cards). 

We can’t wait for summer so we can go for picnic dates!  Do you have any creative date ideas that won’t break the bank?

T & Z

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Funding a Baby

This post is not about paying the hospital bills.  We don’t have a grasp on that, so we are in no place to give you tips.  This is about a little secret a friend told me.

At my newish job (I've been here just over two months), employees must wait six months to receive health insurance.  Naturally that would fall when Tutu is going to the doctor every two months.  I looked into temporary insurance, and it turns out they do not have to cover anything under the super high deductible.  Ah, the woes of being an adult.  So, since Zach and I are on a very tight budget, we decided paying over $100/month for it wasn't smart.  Keep your fingers crossed that nothing horrible happens!

I was telling my friend about this, and he told me about his girlfriend not having insurance with her first daughter.  She wanted to stay with her pediatrician, but the cost of vaccines was through the roof.  Well, turns out you can take them to the Health Department for $8 per vaccine!  The baby still has her monthly check-up, they just skip the shots.  Oh, and the Health Department sets up shop at a church right in our town!  (This was key, because the Health Department office is about 40 minutes away.) So, this afternoon little baby Tutu gets to go to the doctor and skip the pain!  That makes this mama happy.  However, on February 4th, we have to go through the harrowing experience.  The shots don’t bother her nearly as much as they bother me.  After about 10 seconds, she’s over it.  We didn't even give her pain medicine for her 2 month shots.  She’s a trooper!

You have a chance to help us with our getting out of debt journey!  I entered Tutu in the Peoria Journal Star’s Cutest Baby Contest!  Vote Tutu!

We actually plan to put any winnings in Tutu’s savings account.  As of right now, it’s her college fund.  If we are able to save enough money, it will be her nest egg for her wedding, a down payment on a house, or whatever she wants. 



Monday, January 13, 2014

Entertaining on the Cheap

Happy Monday!  I hope it hasn’t been too rough so far.

This past weekend, Zach and I had our friends, Decatur and Deana, over for a couple days.  They traveled from the far away, exotic land of Indiana.  We found some great ways to pass the time without breaking the budget.

To begin, you need friends that understand your situation.   Keeping it a secret will only make your weekend awkward, and it’s guaranteed you will go over your budget.   If you need big events to get your friends to visit you, they’re probably not great friends.  The star of the show should be you!  Well, this time it was us and Tutu.  She’s the brightest star in our house these days!

So, once you have good friends on lock, you have to feed them!  Usually this entails a flurry of restaurants.  Well, if you cook for them you not only save money on food, but on gas as well!  It’s a win-win.  Zach wanted to have a food theme: Mexican.  For lunch, Zach made a spread consisting of cilantro-lime rice (a la Chipotle), beans, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, tortillas, and a fake taco “meat” (we’ll discuss that in another post).   It was a little taco bar.  None of these items cost a lot, but everything was delicious and super filling (plus all the leftovers will make awesome taco salads throughout the week!).  For dinner, we had Taco Soup.  This is a Weight Watchers recipe my grandma gave me years ago.  It is so quick and easy.  You just put 2 cans of black beans, 2 cans of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), and a half packet of taco seasoning in a pot.  Then add V8 juice until you get the consistency you like.  We eat it more like a dip with chips, so we don’t add a lot of V8.  Put it on the stove till it’s hot.  Done.  Serve with tortilla chips.  That is my cheapest recipe.  It also feeds an army.  We make it vegan, but you can also brown ground sirloin (that’s what the original recipe says) and add it to the soup.  After the four of us had dinner, I ended up refrigerating about 8 servings that we can eat throughout the week.

So, the Mexican theme only lasted through Saturday (our Kroger didn’t have eggs because of the snow last week, so breakfast burritos were a no go).  Sunday morning brought a baby that slept in till 6:30 (!) and pumpkin spice muffins.  We stole this one from my best friend, Kiley.  She brought them over at Christmas, and we fell in love.  Stir one can of pumpkin pie filling into one box of spice cake mix.  Bake them for about 20 minutes at 350 and you’re done!  I could eat them just like that, but everyone seems to like chocolate chips in them.  Again, inexpensive, and we have muffins for a couple days.

Decatur and Deana were nice enough to bring some beer (they work next to an amazing brewery).  We played games, watched Game of Thrones (I tried to keep busy.  That show is waaaaaay too violent for me.), and talked.  It was relaxing and no fuss.  We needed that after our first holiday season with the baby. 
To top off our weekend, our wonderful friends took us to Flat Top for lunch on them!  We have the best friends.

Do you have any money saving tips for entertaining friends?  We went easy with games, but I’m sure you have more creative ideas!

With love,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's Budget Time!

So, the best way to stay on budget is to actually have a written budget.  I used to try to keep everything in my head, but it’s not working so well these days (I chalk it up to pregnaner… mama brain?).  Actually, it never worked that well.  If it did, we probably wouldn’t be in our predicament.  

Dave Ramsey (you’re going to hear his name a lot) follows a “zero-based” budget.  This means every penny has an assignment.  At the end of the month/the bottom of your budget, every bit of income should be in a new home that isn’t your checking account.  I have a very hard time with this.  I like to have a cushion just in case I forget a bill (usually it’s the kind that gets automatically withdrawn).  However, this budget makes you check and double check that you have every little thing written down.  I equate it to your boss telling you an assignment is very important.  If you’re like me, that makes you go over the final product with a fine-toothed comb before you present it.  Your boss in this situation is you and your family.  Who deserves a job well done more than you?

So, Dave has a budget sheet that he uses (you can find it here), and I used it as a jumping off point.  Zach and I are big fans of spreadsheets, so I made our own.  Originally I inserted some formulas (nerd alert), but all the changes made them useless.  That’s the thing about a budget, it’s always evolving.  They say it takes about three months of budgets to get it right.  We’ll let you know.

I really like to break down numbers as much as possible, so a weekly budget really appeals to me.  This could get a bitexcessive, so I’m think bi-weekly budgets are the way to go.  Typically, you make one a month.  I get paid weekly and Zach gets paid twice a month, so lining it up with Zach’s paychecks makes the most sense.  I like to get all the bills, and organize them chronologically by due date.  Then I can split up what needs to happen in the first half of the month and what needs to be in the second half.  

The budget isn’t just bills.  You have to figure out every single thing you spend money on throughout the month (or whatever time frame you decide to work with).  I almost always forget toiletries…and car maintenance…and really anything to do with the car.  Zach uses about $400/month in gas (he commutes over an hour each way to work.  Don’t become teachers, kids!), so that’s a pretty big chunk to forget. One way to keep track would be to keep every single receipt for a month.  It’ll be a harsh dose of reality (See my last post for how much we spent on food in 11 months), and should also catch any costs that you didn’t think about.  

So, there you have it: Your beginning guide budgeting.  We’ll get more in depth when we feel like we know what we’re doing.  Do you use a written budget?  If so, do you have any tricks?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Budget Aggressively

Hey! I’m not sure if you all knew, but it’s cold here in the Midwest! This morning’s windchill was -25, and that was an improvement from yesterday.  Thankfully, I have a husband that doesn't mind bossing me around sometimes.  He refused to let me leave the house yesterday. (I use “let me” loosely.  I’m not one to be told what to do.)  I was all too happy to comply this time.  I got to spend the day snuggling with my baby girl!  
I want to talk about budget struggles.  This month is a doozie.  Yesterday (January 6th) was supposed to be the most depressing day of the year.  The reason?  Most people went back to work, school, or life as usual.  I totally understand.  It’s especially hard to go back to work when your spouse/significant other/anyone that lives with you is called off work (only time I want to be a teacher is when they’re off school… Probably a great reason I didn't become one!).  I hate calling in to work.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a workaholic; I just really dislike confrontation.  It’s the “cop following you” effect.  I know I’m not doing anything wrong, but I feel super guilty like I’m going to get caught.  I don’t lie, but it still feels wrong.  Maybe my self-inflicted guilt is returning!  I was terrible about the guilt all through my school career, until college.  In college I found that very few professors were disappointed when I didn't show up to class.  If you don’t care, then I don’t care!
I hope Tutu has some of this guilt.  I really hope she doesn't have it as bad as I did. I would make myself sick (literally) over making everything perfect.  To some level, though, this guilt can be a good thing.  If all of your motivation comes from your parents telling you what to do, what is going to happen when you move out of their house?  Every kid needs some self motivation.  So, how do you instill this virtue?  I don’t want to coddle Tutu, but I don’t want her to think I’m constantly disappointed either.  Disappointment from the parentals is a huge motivator.  Who thought it was worse for your mom to say, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” UGH!  
Well, now I’m disappointed in myself.  I have let a total lack of self-discipline take over my finances.  Do Zach and I really NEED to get that Qdoba after church?  Do I NEED a Diet Coke (referred to as DC, lovingly, from here on out) every morning?  While these seem like really small costs, they add up fast.  I mean, we could be taking trips to Mexico…ahh Mexico.  Every year we set a pretty tight Christmas budget.  We spend $50 on each parental unit and $30 on each niece/nephew.  Sometimes we get a little something for the grandparents, but it’s usually just a food gift.  This year we stayed on budget for those people, but we sure didn't with ourselves.   Zach and I usually get each other a little something to open on Christmas morning.  Last year I got a giant bag of Skittles (my fave) and Pocahontas (another fave) on Blu Ray.   I got Zach a nice thermal (his fave) from the Gap.  This year, we blew last year out of the water.  Z took me to Running Central (a Peoria running specialty store) to be fitted for running shoes.  (This means I actually have to start running and stick with it!) We walked out $200 poorer.  I got Z a Keurig machine (he’s wanted one for awhile).  I did get the Keurig for an AMAZING deal ($32!), but the spending didn't stop there.  Oh, right!  We have a baby now, and it’s her first Christmas!  We need to make it a good one!  Luckily that thought was gone pretty quick.  I did order her a hat from Etsy and Z ordered her a custom bib that said “Tutu’s 1st Christmas”.  It was super cute.  But then we decided to just get things that she actually needs, since she doesn't know what’s going on anyway.  So, Tutu got the awesome gift of fleece sleepers.  (Side-note:  Super disappointed with Target’s selection.  She is the proud owner of a boys’ reindeer sleeper and a Santa sleeper; both which we have no problem putting her in well past the Christmas season.)
Fast forward two weeks.  It’s January, and we have no money!  And here is another reason January 6th is the most depressing day of the year: holiday debt is realized.  Once the sea of wrapping paper is no longer clouding your vision, you’re left with a hole in your best budget intentions.  Well, this January, we’re getting back on track with a vengeance!  We’re finally really mad.  We’re sick of all of our money going straight out the door every month.
Early in our marriage, Zach and I enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  He preaches living debt free.  We were totally on board.  Step 1 is saving $1000 (or $500 if you make less than $20,000/year) as a starter Emergency Fund.  His logic is that if something comes up while you’re trying to aggressively pay off debt (and it will), and you have no money in an E Fund, you’ll go back/further into debt.  This made sense.  We did it pretty quickly.  Step 2 is the debt snowball; this is a little more complicated.  You list your debts from smallest to largest, and pay the minimum payment on all but the smallest.  Then you put every extra penny you have toward that smallest debt.  The logic behind smallest to largest is the need for small victories along the way.  If you diet for months and months and see no results, you’re going to quit.  It’s the same with paying down debt.  So, once that first one is paid off, you take the money you were paying on the smallest plus the minimum on the second smallest and aggressively pay that one down, and so on a so forth until you pay everything off someday!  (If you’re even slightly interested, visit Dave’s website and read the success stories.  They’re amazing.)    
Well, this couple had $1000 in the bank, and we were good with that, apparently!  We never got to the aggressively paying down debt part.  It seemed like a huge victory to just get all the bills paid every month.  Well, this time we’re doing it for real.  We have a daughter now, and she deserves more than coming out of college with a massive amount of debt.  We won’t let it happen.  
Challenge for the rest of the month: Only eating out once.  Just to give you an idea, we usually eat at restaurants at least 3 times a week.  At least.  Who am I kidding?  I ate lunch out almost every day.  Breakfast too (guess that’s why I gained 70 lbs. while I was pregnant…).  I went back through our bank statements, and from January to November last year, we spent $3609.98 at restaurants!  That’s insane!!!  I realize we have to eat something, so let’s say we spend $100 every two weeks in groceries, that’s $1509.98 in savings!  And really, we were spending about $100 every two weeks during that entire time.  A lot just went bad, and we threw it away.  That’s over $6000 in food for one year.  I’m all for date nights here and there, but every night?  Not really necessary.  Here’s the plan:
  • Plan meals for the week
  • Grocery shop (with cash) according to the plan.  No more than what is on the list.
  • Stick to meal plan.
  • No dinner out at the last minute because we don’t feel like cooking! (I realize this really goes with the bullet above, but I desperately need the reiteration.)
Wish us luck!  And don’t ask us to go out to eat unless you want to pay!



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Non-Religious Demons

One of my monument goals in life is to be a honorable man for my God, my family, my friends, my acquaintances, and my enemies (though they are thankfully few and far between).  In order to be the best Christian, father, husband, son, brother, friend, peer, leader, etc., I must better myself by working on my weaknesses.  How?  By maintaining a constant state of learning.

A friend recently lent me The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, the same beloved author of The Chronicles of Narnia series.  I fully expected the story to dwell in the realm of fantasy with Mr. Tumnus, Aslan and the White Witch.  To my surprise, the book takes place between Hell and Earth.

The book is collection of letters from one of the highest demons (Screwtape) of THE Devil to his nephew (Wormwood).  Individual demons are charged with the task of securing the damnation of individual human souls.  The veteran Screwtape mentors the rookie Wormwood throughout his task with tips and tricks used to lure his "patient" away from the righteous path.  Wormwood speaks towards the more traditional evil ways our modern culture has portrayed a path to Hell (sex, riches, etc.) while the experienced Screwtape reminds his nephew in Letter XII, "...the safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."  Screwtape focuses on planting seeds such as doubt, impatience, temptations and other distractions.

Screwtape's ideas of seeds are the very weaknesses with which I struggle and must rule in order to live up to my objective of being honorable.  Are you ready for my epiphany moment?  Each of those seeds are negative ideals, beliefs, or practices.  I began to see life and every decision, big or small, as a constant battle between good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral, God and Satan, Luke and Vader, etc.  Every time I give in to a negative, the Enemy wins that moment's battle.  Every time I rise above the temptation of a negative, I win that moment's battle for the good, right, etc.

Each of us has a variety of demons catered specifically to our dispositions regardless of religious tendencies: impatience, a loose tongue, lack of respect, frustration, gluttony (not defined by only food), any type of addiction (not specified to only social taboos), etc.

Being a teacher at an alternative behavioral program offers the greatest practice grounds.  I have been yelled at, sworn at, had books, chairs, desks, and doors slammed, and called every name in the book, yet in each of those moments I recognize the challenge the Enemy is presenting; for those of you who aren't familiar with me, I don't like to lose challenges.  Yelling, calling a student names, insulting their intelligence or their mother would only bring me down where the Enemy wants me, thereby securing his victory in that battle.  Funny thing about losing battles with the Enemy, it tends to pile on more challenges after you lose.  If I were to call a student a name or even throw something back, do you think the challenge is over simply because I lost in that moment?  Of course not!  I would have that student's parents, my bosses, and the administration to deal with next.

Keep in mind, when I say Enemy I am not always referring to the Devil.  For you, the Enemy could be some non-religious demon.  (AH! I used the title of the post!)  Like the founders of Crossfit, I find that people tend to rise to challenges with more vigor when the idea of points or competition are put in place.  Look at your demons, your negatives, as the opponent.  By referring to your opponent as "the Enemy" you not only bring them to life, you create character.  Capitalizing the word "Enemy" signifies importance, personifying whatever it is your personal "Enemy" may be.

Raise up.

With love and honor,

Saturday, January 4, 2014


So, Tutu and I are home this morning, chilling in our PJs. This whole not working on Saturdays is pretty new for me. For pretty much my entire working life, I've been on the clock on Saturday. No Saturdays at work mean I get to spend two whole days with my little family!
Then Zach told me he was going to coach wrestling again this year. The time commitment is insane. He has practice every week night, unless he has a meet, and a lot of tournaments on Saturdays. I was livid. 
I'm still not thrilled with him being gone so much. Some nights he doesn't get home until 8pm. I have since realized that he's not doing it to make me mad. He's making a sacrifice for our family. He doesn't enjoy being away from home any more than I do. I am thankful my husband has a part time job that he loves. With any other second job (a typical one, maybe delivering pizzas) he would be home so much later. 7:30 or 8? Not bad. 11? Bad. I'll take my happy wrestling coach. 

I also want to use this post to say thank you for all your support! This journey will be so much easier knowing we have all of you standing behind us!

Tara and Tutu
Tutu, still rocking the Santa jammies!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Here It Is! Welcome!

We decided to start a blog to help people by teaching through our own experience.  We haven't actually gone through the experience yet; that's what we plan to share with you.  We also hope you'll chime in and tell us what is going on in your lives.  Recently we sent out a letter (well, via Facebook...that's a real letter, right?):

Dear Friends and Family,
Starting now, Zach and I are making a major life change.  We will begin to live on less than we make.  We won’t be able to go out to eat (unless you want to take us out), go to the movies, or really take part in any other entertainment that requires money outside of our set budget.  We've been living above our means for far too long.
We have several goals we’d like to hit (Tutu to college debt free, buy a house, etc), and that won’t happen without some serious cutbacks.  We need your support.  Please understand when we say we can’t do something.  Please don’t pressure us.  We still want to be a part of your lives, so let’s get creative!  Many activities require little to no money.
Our choice will allow us to teach our daughter by example.  We don’t want her to make the same mistakes we have, so please respect our choice.  Anyone that would like to join us in this massive upheaval is welcome!  Let’s make our lives (and thus our children’s lives) better!
There it is.  We know we can't be the only people that want to make their lives better, so join us!

Zach and Tara

P.S.  Tell your friends!