Archive for February 2014

A few ways to save money

I like to think of Steve and I as fairly savvy shoppers and consumers. We go into great research on every item that we buy making sure that it is going to do exactly what we need and that we get the best deal we possibly can. But there are also lots of little ways to save a few dollars and that adds up as well. Here is a list of some of things we do.

1. Utilize your local library for all your entertainment needs. Instead of purchasing books for your child, why not give them the experience of rotating books out each week or so from the library. That way you don't have a ton of books piling up in your home and there is always something new and exciting to choose from. Instead of Redbox, we head to our local library on a Friday night to find something that interests us.

2. Share an appetizer for date night instead of ordering separate entrees. Since my husband and I are trying to eat healthier and watch our portions, this works great not only for the waistline but the wallet, too. You can even take advantage of discounted prices by dining late afternoon/early evening. Many times on an early Friday evening last summer, Steve and I could be found dining al fresco at Chuy's which overlooks this gorgeous view of our city for a bill total of $12. They offered a full cheese dip buffet (honestly, I do have a love for cheese dip) and by sharing a salad or appetizer it was the perfect amount of food for us.

3. Utilize blow money. When each adult in your household has a specified amount of blow money then it is up to him/her to use it at their discretion. But when it's gone, it's gone. So if someone opts to pick up Wendy's on the way home instead of eating the food in the fridge, then that's $5 less blow money they will have to spend elsewhere. By carrying this in cash, it will actually keep you from spending it. I hold onto my blow money for as long as I can because I never know what might come up. I don't want to blow it all in one day because what if someone invites me to meet them for lunch later in the month. This principle works in our favor because we become even tighter on the purse strings and it forces us to get creative. One friend of mine started doing a picnic in the park for lunch with friends instead of restaurant dining. I thought that was a genius idea.

4. Use the envelope system. When we pay with cash we have routinely found over and over again that we are spending way less than we used to. Also, we don't borrow from the different envelopes and many months end up with some extra money in them to give us a little extra cushion. Who doesn't love finding a $20 bill in the pocket of their jeans? This time, it's already in the way you do your accounting. :)

What are your tips for saving money?

Capsule wardrobe for the winter

We have had some wintry days here in Alabama and it doesn't look like it's letting up anytime soon. I'm a beach baby, so the warmer the weather the happier I am. But I'm not going to get the cold winter blues just yet. One way to stay ahead of the game in this season is to already have your capsule wardrobe picked out and easy to access when you get up from that warm, snuggly bed in the morning.

Here's a peek at my capsule pants wardrobe this winter. But be warned, it's very minimal. :)

From left to right, these are the pants for the season. A pair of black leggings - they truly go with everything and will take me into the spring; dark denim skinny jeans; long bootcut jeans to wear with high heels; black pants; and teal blue ankle length jeans that can be worn with flats or boots.

Our weather can be temperamental in Alabama so I do a lot of ankle length jeans that can be worn with flats but are also skinny enough to wear with boots and a big, comfy sweater. This is one way that I can make items in my closet do double duty and stretch throughout the seasons.

One thing that I love about my items so far is the minimal investment I made. I only purchased the leggings this season and happened to get a great price on them; the price tag wasn't on them and the sales person just made up a number. LOL! The skinny jeans I have had for two seasons now. The bootcut jeans were hand me downs from a friend, and not only are they designer jeans in perfect condition, but they are the perfect fit. By just spending $10 to get them hemmed, I had a new pair of jeans for my capsule wardrobe. The black pants will probably be the next item that I replace. The teal blue jeans were a birthday present. All in all, I spent less than $30 on pants for the winter season. Not too bad for a gal on a budget. :)

Are you sporting a capsule wardrobe this winter? What's your favorite item in your capsule wardrobe?

How routines rescue my morning

To say that my morning would be chaos without a routine is an understatement. My morning routines not only start my morning off but they give me a sense of accomplishment when I'm not sure what the rest of my day will look like - at least I can know I did do something. Routines can be flexible and can be adjusted when needed. But for candidness sake, I thought I would share what I do every morning. Here's my caveat, there are days when there is a sick child or a sick me. There are days when something just happens that is beyond my control so on those days then I don't worry so much about the routine. Things happen so I have to be flexible. But more often than not, that's the exception and not the rule and the routines are my compass for the day pointing me in the right direction.

Here's my current routine: (some of the times are estimates)

5 a.m. - wake up. make bed. spend time studying the bible and in prayer - I can say that this part is the most crucial part of my day to make sure that I am calm before the storm. :)

6:30 a.m. - get dressed. do 5-minute face. fix hair.

6:50 a.m. - start laundry load. swish and swipe my bathroom. swish and swipe the guest bathroom.

7 a.m. - get boys up. change diapers and dress. breakfast.

I will also add that at 10 minutes till 7, my husband is emptying the dishwasher, fixing milk for the boys and getting breakfast started. This helps so much in keeping the morning running smoothly and by doing that, we are done with breakfast and dishes cleaned by the time my husband checks in for work at 8 (he works from home).

I try to go three days without washing my hair because ain't nobody got time for that every day. Usually by the third day, it's starting to look a little iffy, so a ponytail might be necessary. On the days that I do take a shower in the morning, it can push our schedule a little later because it takes so long to dry my hair; it's pretty long right now.

By utilizing the 5-minute face routine, I look presentable and pulled together but not like I overdid it or tried too hard. A heavily made up face in daytime can be a distraction. Sometimes, I have a hard time focusing on what someone is saying if I can't stop staring at their make-up. More make-up during the day is just that, more make-up. Less is more when it comes to daytime but something is definitely better than nothing. :)

Doing a load of laundry every day is necessary when maintaining capsule wardrobes. I wear my clothing several times before I wash it, but since I have all boys in my home, many times they cannot. Having a daily laundry habit ensures there is always something nice to wear since we make sure that we only keep items that fit, are in good shape and that we love.

I would love to know, is there a routine or one thing that you would like to implement in the mornings? Do you already use a morning routine - what does it look like for you?

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