How We Survive On One Income

When people find out that I am a Stay at Home Mom they automatically assume that my Husband must “make a lot of loot”. That just isn’t the case. Sure, he makes an average salary but we really had to change our lifestyle to make it work.

Like most of you, when Ryan and I got married we were both working full time and had a little apartment so we really had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. We tried to save a lot knowing one day I would stay home but for the most part, money wasn’t an issue.

The first couple of months trying to figure out how to live on one income was challenging  but with a few changes, it has been pretty manageable (we lost about 30-40% of our income!). Now, it has not always been easy. And, it does take a lot of discipline. But, it has been worth it.  I am so grateful I get to stay home with my babies, I wouldn’t give that up for the world (unless I had to…)!!

A lot of people have asked me how we do it so here it is… my Stay At Home Mom Money Saving Tips:

1. Pack your lunch. My Husband packs his lunch everyday for work. If we go to the Zoo or the Mall or to the park, I pack a lunch. Festivals, day trips… we pack food. This takes some preparation and I know that there are so many better food options when you buy out, but the money we save not buying food when we don’t have to allows us to use that money for other things, like a nice dinner date or, more groceries. This goes for your coffee too, make your coffee at home! $2.00 a cup adds up.

2. Minimal Christmas. Ryan and I do not exchange Christmas gifts and we only get our children four gifts each. The main reason we only get them four gifts is to save money but the other part is to not spoil them. They DO NOT need 10 new toys for Christmas, it is a waste. We get them four things that they really want or need and they are just as happy with those four things as they would with 100 things. We both have large families so trying to afford to buy gifts around Christmas (and a tree and parties and decorations and cards…) is really challenging so we really try to stick to a strict budget. I do cheat and buy something for Ryan sometimes if we have left over money….

3. Basic Cable. We have very basic cable, it is only about six channels, and that is so we can get the internet package. I really wish we had HGTV and Disney JR, but, we don’t and that is okay. We have Netflix and watch things for free through the internet sometimes so I don’t feel totally lost. Not only does this save us money monthly but it also keeps me from getting into bad habits (like watching trashy TV that will rot my brain…).

4. Cheap Groceries. Do not just shop at the grocery store that is closest to your home, shop at the stores that have the cheapest prices. You all know that ALDI’S is my jam, but I also will shop at Wal-Mart (however, I hate it there and I regret going every time I go) and BJ’s (they have the cheapest lunch meat! ). Sometimes I will go to Giant because they have things I can’t get at other places but I will not do all of my shopping there. ShopRite has good sales and coupons too.

Look, you do not have to buy name brand food, it all tastes the same. We should all be eating mostly fresh produce and healthy meats anyway so that shouldn’t be a problem. I do not know how to coupon and I am not interested in learning, so if you are like me, just start price comparing and make smarter shopping choices, not just the easiest option. This will save you money!! I get so sad when I am behind the person spending $400.00 on groceries at the basic grocery stores.

5. Less Eating Out. We rarely go out to eat at a restaurant. We will buy food one time a week (usually a weekend) but that means Chinese or Chipotle or Penera, not a sit down joint with a waitress. I would LOVE to eat out more, I LOVE eating out, this is probably the hardest sacrifice for me personally. Anytime I can eat something that I didn’t have to make or clean up is wonderful but we just can’t do it regularly. We get to go on a date not very often, maybe twice a month, and we will go out to eat (because paying for two people is way cheaper than four or five) but I would do it more if we could.

*There are times where I get lazy packing food or we just want to get out of the house and we will go out to dinner, but not going out to eat is a goal we try to stick to because it is the biggest waste of money.

6. No Random Shopping Sprees. Boo. I remember a time when I could go buy a shirt if I wanted one, any time I wanted one. Now, I just don’t do it. I can’t just randomly buy a new candle or a pair of shoes if I like them. I have to strategically save up my money and plan a time where I can go shopping and get a few things. I can not just pick things up here and there if I see it and I want it. This is actually a great habit because I end up spending less money in general, but it is also really hard when you see that thing that you would really love to have.  It is not easy, but the more I resist, the easier it is to resist.

7. Make a Budget. Come up with an amount that fits within your budget and budget out specific items. For example, I have a little file thing that I have labeled for different things (i.e. gifts, clothes, food, hair, etc.) and I try to put money into it weekly and only use what is in the designated file. I don’t get my hair cut until I have enough money in my “hair file”. If you are not that organized, just be aware of what you have and what you can/should spend. Being aware of your bills and finances will help you make smarter buying decisions.

8. Avoid Temptation. Avoiding going to stores that are really tempting unless you know you have the money to spend. I had to stop taking my kids to Storytime at the Mall at one point because the temptation to buy all. the. clothes. was too hard and I was spending money when I shouldn’t have. Don’t go walk around Target if you have nothing else to do. You will find something to buy even if you don’t need it.

And, that is basically it. There are a few other things that I don’t spend money on like manicures and pedicures, coloring my hair, massages… things like that. These things  weren’t really something I spent a lot of money on before so it isn’t a difficult thing for me not to do but I realize that some people may have a hard time doing their own nails vs. getting a professional manicure. I do like an occasional pedicure though, I’m not gonna lie. I just have to budget for that.

*

Welp, I hope you find this helpful. It has definitely been a growing experience for me but with a little self-discipline, I have been able to stay home full time for the last six years.

And, yes, I do wish I had the flexibility to take random vacations with my man, or buy fancy clothes or go out to eat more often, but like I said before, it has been worth the sacrifice!

Also (I will stop rambling in a minute), you do not have to be single or a Stay at Home Mom to practice any of these money saving tips. Try it for a month and see how much money you have been able to save. We do it so I can stay home, you can do it so you have more money to spend on other things! ha.

=)

 

 

 

 

 

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Holy Bad Day

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Today, has been a hard day.

Think, “if I wasn’t in a public place right now someone would be really hurt” kind of a day. Fo realz.

Half serious.

Thank goodness I was in public.

It has been some time since I have had one of these. My blood pressure is still boiling. I can understand how some Mom’s turn into secret alcoholics. I am not saying that I would, but it is days like today that I can understand how some women get there. Phew.

Three is one of my favorite ages, but also at the same time one of the HARDEST ages. In my opinion.  How is it possible that someone can be SO, so sweet and loving and funny and then the next minute turn into [Linda Blair and Hulk had a baby]?!

It’s nap time now. Part of me wants to fall asleep to rejuvenate for the second half of the day, part of me wants to stay awake and do ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING so that I can have real quiet time and a small (small) part of me wants to do some chores so that it looks like I was productive today when important people come home. Hopefully they come home by themselves because if they bring a friend I will have to have done more chores. Decisions, decisions. ZZZZZZZZZZ…….

Thanks for letting me vent.

And, a word of truth to all of those sharing in my bad day…

1 Thessalonians 5:18: “ give thanks in all circumstances…”

All circumstances? Really? Ok. Well, thank you Lord that I did not kill my Son in anger. Thank you that I have a son and that I am blessed enough to have a bad day because of my blessed children. Thank you that this situation has caused me to come to you when I may not have if I was having an easy day. Thank you for nap time. Thank you promising to carry me through bad days (psalm 50:15, 1peter5:7, nahum1:7…). It would have been better for me if I wasn’t having a bad day, if I am being honest, but for some reason you want to teach me something through this, so… forgive me for my anger, forgive me for being tempted to turn to a glass of wine for comfort (and chocolate), forgive me for not being more patient with my children, help me to have patience, to have wisdom and, well, help me to be overflowing with every single fruit of the spirit. Amen.

Cheers!

=)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be An Encourager

” Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Most of the time, I am walking around thinking about how horrible of a Mom and Wife I am. I am always thinking about my failures and short comings and how my family deserves better and how hopefully, I have not ruined my children.

I don’t think much of myself. I never have really. I am not sure if that is because of the lack of affirmation and affection growing up in a family where that wasn’t practiced regularly or a feeling that had been developed and molded by a social circle that didn’t really appreciate peoples differences. Either way, lets just say I have never really felt that I measured up or was good enough.

This is not a pity party and I am NOT trying to get a whole bunch of you to tell me how great you think I am. I mean, you can if you want, but that is not the point of this post. I am telling you this so that you have a better understanding of who I am and the struggles I have.

The point is, there may be other like me. Or, maybe you’re not like me but you are having a day like me…

Yesterday, I ran into someone that I know and see from time to time. We were chatting and he says to me; “Yeah, my wife always talks about you and how you are a perfect example of how God can change someone’s life around.  You are a great Mother and…”

I interrupted him.

“What? Really? Thank you for that encouragement because that is not how I feel- at all.”

He paused.

“Well, you are.”

{Huh. Well that is interesting. You mean, your wife doesn’t think I am a terrible Mother too? Well that’s good!}

This brief conversation just made my day. Wow. Thank you for that!

 For me, it was a moment where I stopped to thank God that others could see how He is working in me, even when I can’t see him. And, I thanked Him for the encouragement because when I am stuck in this rut of thinking I am just THE WORST, He (God) shows me that He is still there for me even when I am not seeing him.

Now, this post you may not be able to relate to or understand because you don’t have a relationship with God like I do, but what you can relate to, is that EVERYONE needs some encouragement. The Bible says “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov 17:22). There is 100% someone out there today who could use some encouragement. There is someone who needs to hear that they are doing a good job and someone that needs to hear that their hard work is paying off and you appreciate it.

Whether it is the lady in the check-out line at the Grocery store, a teacher, a weary Mom at the park, your CHILDREN, your HUSBAND… whoever it is… you can be the medicine that their heart needs. YOU can be an encourager.

So, my challenge to you today is to encourage someone today. And tomorrow. Once a day try to think of a way that you can encourage someone and build them up. Joy is infectious, lets spread joy together!

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13

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My [Other] Boy

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I’m sorry, I know I have not written a lot about our experience with Anton, our German Exchange Student. There have been a lot of things I would love to have written about but I want to be respectful of his privacy and because we are bound by a contract. And, I don’t want to say anything that could get me in trouble! And, his Mom has Facebook. <Ha-Ha>

First, let me just say that I do not know how we are going to be able to say goodbye in a few short Months. It is going to be messy. And wet. I tear up when I think about it. I asked his Mom if we could keep him but she said “no”. Of course I understand, I thought maybe after being away from him for a while maybe she decided she didn’t like him anymore. Ha. Not possible. Everyone likes Anton. There is not much to not like (except maybe the grocery bill that comes with him but I guess that is normal with teenage boys (Lord help me)).

Anton, my dear, we love you. Thank you for all that you have taught us and thank you for allowing us the opportunity to teach you (if you can think of something that you didn’t already know…). We have really enjoyed seeing your dreams realized here in America. We are so proud of how hard you have worked in School and the effort you have put in to be a part of our family. As we have put up with your flaws and annoyances (haha), thank you for also putting up with ours. Our lives were very different when we first met but you quickly and easily became a part of our family. Can’t wait to experience more things with you these last four months (or years in case your Mom changes her mind…)!

 As I expected this opportunity has  opened my eyes to the world and I am so grateful for it. But, not only has it opened my eyes in a positive way, it has opened my eyes to the yucky stuff too. For example: I really enjoy my “comfort” (like, “No I can’t drive you to CrossFit, I’m busy doing nothing!” (this is an exaggerated statement, just giving you an idea of a possible thought). Also, I have learned that I really care about what others think of me. I used to confess that I really didn’t care what people thought of me but very quickly in Anton’s stay I realized how much I really wanted approval from others. Of course you want people to like you and think you are great (especially a stranger coming to live with you) but I was constantly thinking “I wonder what Anton thinks about this” or “what is Anton going to think about…” Normal right? it is normal except that this thought process was making me anxious and I began to base my worth and achievement on what this person thought about me and my family. The problem was that I was caring more about what this teenage boy was thinking about my skills or my habits or my attitude more than I was think about what God thought about them. He’s really the only one who can judge me and the only one who’s opinion really matters. His is the only standard I want to measure myself to.

Most of us already know how terrible our Food Industry is. If you don’t know, it is TERRIBLE! Do your research. Having someone here from Europe has made me even more aware of how terrible it is and why American’s in general are overweight and so unhealthy. Sure, it is convenient to have 100 Fast Food options within a 10 mile radius but is it really necessary? Sure, prepackaged food is convenient but is it worth the health risks? And, if something is ILLEAGAL to eat in Europe because of the ingredients, why is it okay for us to eat in the U.S.? IT IS NOT!

We are actually pretty healthy eaters so fortunately this was not a big “light bulb” moment for us, but it is sad that people aren’t properly educated on nutrition and just blindly eat whatever is available without realizing what they are doing. And just so you don’t think I am a hypocrite, I am not a self proclaimed Health Nut- I LOVE sugar and I am addicted. I also have prepackaged Goldfish in my closet.  However, I am educated and though choose to eat unhealthy sometimes, it is an educated decision.  ;0P

But for real, I love hate convenient American food. Moderation people.

After learning so much about other countries,  I really want to travel the world. Ugh. This really puts a damper on my future plans. My dream of moving to a nice farm house has gone down the drain. All I want now is to stay right where I am in Parkville so that I can use all of my money to travel the world. And well, first someone has to figure out a new way to travel that doesn’t include flying over large bodies of water. Or floating over large bodies of water…

See what happens when I don’t write for a while? I have an explosion of thoughts all over the computer full unorganized statements and topics.

It is the time of year where we have to make the decision whether or not we will again be Hosting an Exchange Student. Though I CAN NOT imagine sharing this experience with anyone other than Anton, after prayerfully considering we feel that it is something that we will be doing again. I’m in a very weird place. I know that this is what we should do, give another student the opportunity to live out their dream as an American Student in an American Family where we can teach them and love them and learn from them- i’m excited about it.  Having to pick another student while our student is still with us is very uncomfortable, and sad. How can I imagine starting a life with another child while the one we have now is still with us, and isn’t finished his life here, and we aren’t finished living life with him yet? We have to pick someone who we think best fits our family, and if we don’t do it now all of the kids will be gone, but I don’t want to, but I do. Anton fits our family. It’s hard, and sad. At the same time, how exciting to learn about someone new from somewhere new?

Lucy said it best when she said: “Can’t Anton just come back for another year”?

 Maybe one day I will write about all of the challenges, and specific stories and exciting moments. All of it has been amazing, even the hard stuff. This world, this life, it is so much bigger and more beautiful than you/we can imagine.

You should totally Host an Exchange Student. It’s amazing and challenging and enlightening. Totally rewarding. And challenging. Really amazing.

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Meh.

Hello. It’s me! Janet, wife to Ryan. Mother to Lucy and Abram and a half Mother to a cool Exchange Student named Anton. Just thought I would leave a refresher since I’ve been missing and you probably have forgotten about me.

So, what’s been going on? I have been losing my mind over here. Not that things have been super stressful, or, maybe they have, I don’t remember. Every day just comes and goes.  I wake up looking forward to bed time. That sounds depressing reading it on paper. Eh, on screen. It’s not bad. I’m just busy and tired. Aren’t we all?

I thought things would be easier with Lucy in School full-time but, actually I am busier! I live by the schedule. And, I look back at my days and literally have no idea what I did. Well I do, but it doesn’t sound like much.

Topic change.

So, once I turned 30, everything started going down hill. If you haven’t turned 30 yet, get ready! If you have turned 30, you can relate. If you have turned 30 and nothing has happened to you… well, good for you. For example; pimples. I have never had so many pimples in my life. I never went through the weird teenage skin phase, and now, I am even more grateful that I didn’t. Another thing, my MEMORY! What?! I have always prided myself on my amazing recollection of unnecessary information and now, I literally can’t recall half of the things in my brain. Ugh. I hate it!! Lastly, (not really lastly, but just at the top of the 30 board) Pre-midlife crisis! What? Who am I? What is my purpose? What is my direction? Am I good at anything? Blah. Blah. Blah. Why?

Dumb.

Well, my little just woke up and I have to get ready to pick up my big.

Hopefully, I will have some more time to write in the near future. And, if you think about it, this Hyperthyroidism thing (hashtag 30) keeps me DoWn a lot during my free-time, so, if I am feeling better, I can write more. And, that would be awesome.

Love to all of you! Thanks for reading!

=)

 

 

 

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Smoke Break

Do you know that new Carrie Underwood song called Smoke Break?

Well, here is why I need one.

Thursday I was told I have Hyperthyroidism.

Saturday my son broke his Collar Bone.

Today, I hit a parked car while trying to get my daughter to school.

W.T.H!

Super sad about the Thyroid thing but happy that there is a reason behind how I have been feeling lately. I have been feeling so guilty because I feel like I have been sick for EVERRR without reason and can’t properly take care of my home and my family. Honestly, it does explain a lot but I am still sad that this is something I will have to deal with the rest of my life. Could be worse things I guess…

Uh, going to the Hospital with a three-year old is REALLY fun. I’d say the highlight of my day was when my son, while possessed, screamed “YOU ARE STUPID!” at me while three nurses were holding him down so they could get an X-ray. That was fun. It has also been really fun trying to get him to keep his sling on so that he can get better. Because, of course the sling is STUPID! Boy, I sure am glad that is the only “bad” word he knows.

And, well, Of course I would hit a car on the first day of a new week. It’s cool. I don’t already have 100 other appointments and obligations to deal with this week. And it isn’t embarrassing at all. Oh well. At least my Insurance Company is really helpful and the other guy was very kind and understanding. UGH! Women drivers.

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I Hate Kindergarten

It’s true.

Ever since Lucy started Kindergarten, she simultaneously became a grumpy, mean old Monster.

Now, I know that 90% of the reason is probably because she is tired and when Lucy is tired is shows up as rebellious attitude. And, I know she has to follow instructions all day long in school so probably it is hard to follow more instructions at home. Trying to keep all of that in mind I should probably consider adjusting my expectations of her when she gets home from School but there are just some things that can’t be adjusted and just need to be understood and accepted whether you want to obey or not. Especially having a joyful attitude with the people you have to interact with. Obviously I can’t make her be “joyful” but it is really hard to deal with the rudeness and unkindness in her attitude and actions.

I also hate Kindergarten because it has been revealing some of the sins that are in Lucy’s heart that I didn’t know were there before. Actually, this is a good thing but a sad thing at the same time. Good because now I know what her struggles are and I can help her but sad because you don’t want to see the ugliness that is in your children. For example, Lucy really cares what other people think about her. So much so that it affects what I am allowed to pack her for lunch and obviously what she wears to school. I know that this is normal, especially for girls, but I never realized how much of her life she spends worrying about what other people think. If she wasn’t in this environment or situation I would have never noticed. Maybe I would have eventually?

Noticing this in Lucy has given me a lot of opportunities to talk to her and to ask deep questions. It has also allowed me to pray more specifically for her and research ways to help her in this sin (or “state of mind”). It is upsetting though, you want your child to be confident in who they are, to be proud of how God made them (different and unique) and own their choices. I want her to be a leader, not a follower. Do you know what life looks like for a teenager who is a follower? Well I certainly do and that is not a life I want for my child. The only person I want her to follow is Jesus.

If I had known then what I know now, gosh, I wish I did not care half as much as I did about other people. I wish I always embraced my weirdness unique abilities. It is so freeing not caring what other people think about you.

Anyway…

There have been some good things about Kindergarten. I know there are probably a lot of good things that I haven’t been able to see yet. But right now, I’m distracted by the negatives because that is what effects our lives on a daily basis right now.

I know 100% that Lucy is where she is supposed to be and I have complete peace with sending her to public school vs. Homeschooling or Private School. It has just been a hard adjustment for all of us and in different ways than I had expected.

And don’t worry, Lucy isn’t the only one who doesn’t have it together. Where God has given me supernatural grace and patience these past few weeks, there has also been a lot of attitude problems on my end too. I am grateful that God has a plan for my children and though I play an incredibly important role in their lives, their future does not solely rest on my ability of being a perfect Mother. Normally I would beat myself up and feel guilty thinking “I am ruining them! I am a terrible Mother!” but Gods plan for them is already written and despite my failures, He does not fail. As long as I continue to trust the Lord and “Train up {my} child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6), they will be alright! I am not perfect and can not be perfect. I want to be the perfect Mother but reality is that I am not. None of us are.

Grateful that we have a perfect Father in Heaven that we can call upon when we are in need. And are at wit’s end. And don’t know how your children will ever turn out right since you too are grumpy. And when none of the other girls wear blue shorts so she can’t possibly wear blue shorts.  And Like when your 5yo tells you that “you are THE WORST Mother in the WHOLE WORLD and I  wish I had a different nicer Mommy!”. #5goingon15

Ugh.

I blame it all on Kindergarten.

Don’t worry. I still love that grumpy mean old Monster and I am glad God gave her this WORST Mommy in the WHOLE WORLD to be her Mom.

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