Thursday, April 30, 2009

Garden update

Wow. I've been absent for longer than I thought! But here's an update on the garden:

Green bean on the left, 3 snap peas on the right, second crop of carrots in front of peas
Spinach in top square, Kale in bottom

As you can see, we divided the bed into square feet with string. That helps me with spacing the plants out. The zucchini will get really big, so it gets its own 3'x2' section.
I have some more pictures of baby lettuce and such, but I can only upload so many at a time.

More updates to follow!

Happy Friday!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Frugal vs. Cheap

Today I was reading a post on, and liked what Trent had to say about the difference between being frugal and being just plain cheap:

"A cheapskate always chases the bottom line, regardless of quality of the experience. A spendthrift just takes the first offer that comes along and insists that this is the best way of doing things. On the other hand, a frugal person doesn’t just accept the first offer that comes along. They try to find ways to get that same experience and quality and value for a lower price - or find the best bang for the buck in their lives."

When I think of a cheapskate, the face of one particular person comes to mind. Lance and I laugh about the behavior of this guy, because he can be such a MISER! He is the only person we know who has ever had an electric bill in the single digits. And, boy, was he proud of that...He went without heat all winter (choosing to sleep with hot water bottles instead) just to prove he could.

Sure, I search for ways of "trimming the fat" in my own life, but I won't completely sacrifice the comfort and quality of my life to save a few bucks. Personally, I like heat in the winter. To save money, we simply installed a programmable thermostat, which only heats the house when we're there and turns it down when we're asleep. I actually consider this a luxury item (because I never have to adjust it), but it also saves us a lot of money.

My goals as the homemaker of our little family are to provide an inviting home, good food, and good company to my husband. I find that I can accomplish all of these goals on a much smaller budget than most of our friends, while our quality of life doesn't seem all that different from theirs. This is extremely satisfying to me. And while I may never have an electric bill in the single digits, I use my God-given talents to help us live on less while still having a life of relative abundance. We have everything we need to be happy and fulfilled. That's just enough.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Update: Getting our Finances in Line in 2009

Now that we're through the first quarter of 2009, it's time for a little update:

We finally closed on the mortgage refinance (after a number of irritating set-backs on the part of the two banks involved), so that will help our budget in a big way from here on. That extra $200 of interest we DON'T have to pay now goes into savings!

We are sticking to a stricter monthly budget without really noticing much difference in our standard of living. It has been a nice surprise! Lance has been going out to lunch less and less, but he doesn't complain, which makes things easier on me. That was my biggest concern when we talked about cutting unnecessary expenditures like lunches out...I wasn't sure he'd be on board. But he has been, and that's such a relief!

We paid off Lance's school loan a few months back, and now that monthly payment has been rolled into other debts (my school loan and the home equity line, specifically). We're still on track to have everything but the mortgage paid off by December. And we're still prepaying the mortgage, which should be paid off in 2024.

We're stashing extra funds in our HSBC online savings account, and by the end of the year we should have about six months' worth of living expenses saved up! Having that big emergency fund will take a LOAD off my mind, since by that point we may be expecting. (Who knows?) Best to be prepared!

We added a new goal to the list: Start a Roth IRA by the end of the year. This goal is intentionally loose, since we aren't sure how much we'll have available to invest. I'm hoping to have $5000, but that depends on various factors (like whether Lance will have to take another pay cut, whether we both still even HAVE jobs, etc.). Regardless, we want to diversify our investments and have been flirting with the idea of a Roth IRA for a while. Time to take the plunge!

Our progress towards our financial goals is made even more gratifying because of how well we've done in spite of our recent circumstances. Lance had to take a 10% decrease in pay about a month ago. His company is very small, and business has been suffering. It's just a fact of life these days. But we're blessed that we both still have jobs and make very decent wages. The 10% decrease hasn't hurt us much. We're just that much more determined to stick to a budget and do what we can with what we've been given.

They say you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone. But I say you don't appreciate what you have until what you DON'T NEED is gone. Because of our stricter budget, I've forced myself to make more of our meals at home, and I've been *gasp* enjoying it! I never realized how much joy I could find in my own kitchen. Sometimes I spend hours in there just baking away. And to think I might have never realized my own potential as a cook had it not been for our change in circumstances. We're still living the good life and eating good food (maybe even better?), so it seems that what we no longer have wasn't really needed anyway.

God is good.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Garden update

It’s exciting to see my baby transplants doing SO WELL in the raised bed! So far I’ve transplanted kale, spinach, and snap peas. I direct-sowed some chives and carrots, which are starting to come up. I have a few more plants in containers that are ready to go into the dirt just as soon as we’re past the threat of frost (around April 15th).

And speaking of…We’re in for some freezing temperatures this coming week (down to 30!), so I’ll have to bring in the tiny tomatoes, cilantro, and pepper containers for a few nights. They are all warm-weather plants, so it’s risky to leave them out when it’s so cold. I’m probably being overly protective (which defeats the point of winter-sowing), but I just can’t risk losing my little babies!

Here's a little glimpse of some of them:

Snap peas:



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

FREE seeds!

Want some free tomato seeds? Click HERE to go to Campbell's website, and then click on "Get Yours Now" on the right hand side of the page. Enter the code information from a can of Campbell's soup, and the seeds are yours!

When you're done with that, click HERE to get more information from MoneySavingMom about how to get a free multi-pack of basil seeds.

I bet those summer tomatoes and homemade pesto taste a lot sweeter when you know you grew them for free.

: )