Sunday, January 15, 2012

Resolution Update

We're nearly half-way through the month of January, and by now I've typically lost steam with my resolutions - not so this year! The daily Bible reading is going great and right on target. What I'm most excited about is our challenge to find/save/earn 12,000!!

Here's the breakdown...

I really don't like lunch... I've never been a fan of sandwiches... I never really know quite what to bring to work for lunch, so I got into the habit of going to Bruegger's because I LOVE bagels and I LOVE soup! Unfortunately, each time I ate out... it cost me $7.81! Now granted... I only work 2-3 days a week, but it adds up! So... since the beginning of January, I worked 3 days (have I mentioned that I love being part-time?!?) and have brought my lunch each day... so a savings of $23.43!!! (I eat a lot of yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola bars.... I still haven't found a lunch that I "love" bringing to work.)

Steve is part of a research study for Crohn's disease and a few days ago he received a check in the mail for $10 for filling out a simple survey! I'm looking at some research studies for me to participate in because we get a little extra cash and also help medical research!

I made a very difficult decision to cancel my gym membership at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center (DAHLC). I loved going... all the equipment... meeting with a wellness coach... getting a massage every now and then... using the pool... daycare that Amaya loved... just talking about it makes me want to change my mind!!! Unfortunately, I wasn't getting there consistently enough to make it worth it and I wasn't making it a priority in my schedule. We have a treadmill that is completely paid for just begging to be used, so I'm on it 4-5 days a week now! Total savings: $351 (for the entire year). (And a bonus... a few pounds gone too!)

We've had a Kwik Trip card for over a year now and we absolutely love it! We generally buy all of our gas there since it's conveniently located to our house. We found an extra bonus in that their bread, eggs, butter, onions, bananas, potatoes, and milk are cheaper than at Wal-Mart. So, with our card, we get 3 cents back on every gallon of gas we buy and 10% off our grocery purchases. Once a quarter, we get a gift certificate combining the 3 cents back and 10% off groceries. This week we got a check for $19.63 to use towards the purchase of anything at Kwik Trip. It's not a huge savings... but it all adds up!

Amaya hit another growth spurt and I was hoping I could literally stretch out her clothes a little longer, but she really needs to be bumped up a size. Arwen has been absolutely awesome and sharing her girl's clothes with us as they outgrow them. So, Amaya and I brought out the bin of size 5 clothes to organize and try things on! She had a blast doing a fashion show for me and I was so pleased to not have to rush out to buy new clothes for her. We slashed our clothing budget for the three of us to $20 a month, so I'm grateful for Arwen's generosity! It's hard to put a price on how much we saved, but I figure at least $200.

I've been cutting Steve's hair for nearly 7 years now. We started right after he got laid off from Pemstar to trim our budget. I cut his hair again this week... saving us $20! I wasn't sure I should include this for our challenge this year since we've been doing it for so long, but decided that it was important to recognize what we've already done to be frugal! In those 7 years we've saved $1,680 just on his haircuts alone!!!

We've only just begun and already our total for the year is $624.06! Only $11,375.94 left to go!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gymnastics Class

For Christmas, Grandma and Grandpa Gustafson gave Amaya money to take 4 weeks of gymnastics lessons through Community Education. Amaya has taken lesssons before and has LOVED it, but it's been a little over a year so we weren't sure if she would remember much or enjoy it as much as before. Well, she remembered it VERY WELL and had a GREAT time!

There are only two other kids in her class, so each one gets a lot of personal attention. (I think there can be 6 in the class, so I'm relieved that it's a smaller class size.) Her teacher's name is Kristina and is very young, full of energy, and great with kids. They warmed up and Amaya remembered how to bear crawl, do pikes, and "make pizza." (one of the names of the stretches). Then, they went in the larger room with the foam pit and gymnastic equipment. She remembered most of the beginning skills - somersaults, balancing on a beam, etc... and she learned how to do a handstand using the wall to crawl her feet up. She loved jumping in the foam pit and it really wasn't jumping... it was more like LAUNCHING herself in the pit! She's got gusto and no fear! Her other favorite parts of the class were going down the slide into the foam pit and jumping on the trampoline. Amaya already asked me this morning if she could go to gymnastics today... I don't think 4 weeks is going to be long enough for her..... Anyway, I hope to take some pictures of her next week at class and get those up on the blog.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas is Over....

We finally got our Christmas tree taken down and the house back to normal. No matter how late we keep our tree up, it's always a downer to take it down. If I had my way, we'd have a Christmas tree up year round! So much hard work of putting on all the lights... placing each ornament "just so"... admiring the tree's beauty... Sigh... I miss our tree. I miss the sparkling lights... the fragance... however, I can say that I DON'T miss the needles. Family returned home... cookies are long gone... activities have restarted... I'm back at work... it's time to move on... Why can't it be Christmas every day? Fortunately, we've got a special little girl's birthday right around the corner - something to look forward to - and I've got to get planning!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Power of Advertising

Amaya hates oranges... doesn't like orange juice... but she LOVES Cutie's - California Clementines! She saw the Cutie commercial on TV... "You know why Cuties are small? 'Cuz kids have small hands. Kids love Cuties, because Cuties are made for kids." The next time we went to Wal-Mart, she saw the Cuties and got so excited, so we bought a bag... after spending $6.88 on a 5 - pound bag, this kiddo better like them! And she does! Today she said, "Kids DO like Cuties!" How's that for the power of advertising?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone! Do you make New Year's resolutions? Do you see it through to the end? I usually have a few New Year's resolutions, but by February I've either forgotten about them or given up. Last year, I decided to finally read through the Bible in a year. My cousin has read through the Bible every year for the past five years or so and inspired me to do the same. I'd like to say that I read several chapters every single day... but I got behind... several times... I remember riding along the coast of Lake Michigan on vacation reading through the book of Job because I had gotten so far behind. But... I finished the entire Bible... a day early! (I had two chapters left of Revelation to complete on the 31st, but I couldn't really stop with only two chapters left, now could I?)

This year's resolution - read through the Bible again - this time chronologically and with a commentary in hand. I admit, I breezed through some of the more difficult books of the Bible... and as my dad would say, "It's all about the journey." So, I'm not in such a rush this year to read through it.. I'll enjoy this journey more this time around.

My other resolution is to "find - save - earn" 12,000 dollars more this year. Since completing Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University... we have a plan/budget... but I need a little bit more motivation to maintain "gazelle intensity" especially when we are at a tortoise pace with student loans. I've looked online and I can't really find any blog for support and encouragement during the hardest Dave Ramsey Baby Step... that may be another blog in my future... but anyway... 12,000 extra dollars in 2012... can we do it?