Showing posts with label stay at home wife. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stay at home wife. Show all posts

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Great Sale On Cloth Diapers!

The folks at Cottonbabies are selling factory second flip covers and inserts for great prices. The covers are about half off regular price and the and the inserts at about 3/4 price. This is the system we use with Walker. Wifey recommends the ones with snaps as snaps are less prone to wear than velcro. As to quantities we have 8 covers and 24 inserts for Walker. We needed all of them when he was little and pooped all the time but now we could probably get by with a few less of each. With those numbers we need to wash them about every other day.
Anyway that is a real good deal on a product we use and recommend. I wanted you all to know about it so maybe you can save a few bucks. The only relationship we have with this company is as satisfied customers.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Day in the Life

Today was kind of a busy day for us. This afternoon I went and picked up a bunch of used 2T clothes for Walker for $25 that Wifey found on the interwebz. He will still need some more pajama's but the bulk of the shopping is done. The lady tossed in some 3T stuff also. We washed and folded it so everything is ready for when the stuff is needed in a couple months.
Walker is currently wearing 18 month clothes and we have already got his 24 month stuff. We have bought almost all of it used for great deals. Buying stuff used often takes time, especially when you want something specific and are cheap. It is sort of like that saying about construction "you can have fast, right or cheap but only get to pick two." We could get him a bunch of  clothes that he needs tomorrow but we would be paying a lot more. On the other hand if we anticipate our needs a few months in advance we can wait for the right deal to come along.

I found a bunch of toys in a bag by a dumpster. Needless to say I grabbed it up. Wifey went through it all and decided what to keep. We got a ton of new stuff for Walker. Also I found a toddler bed that somebody had thrown away. We will have to put it together and check it out but it appears servicable. We cleaned and sterilized everything (though it seemed clean but you never know) and it is ready for Walker. He really likes the fire truck and having another ball to carry around.

Dumpster diving is one of my favorite things to do. I just love finding free stuff.

Later Wifey decided to figure out how to make some snacks. First she made wheat crackers. The recipe came from Frugal and Simple and they resemble wheat thins. The first picture is before. The dough is rolled out then cut with a pizza cutter before baking.

The second picture is from after baking. The white stuff is a bit of flour that helps minimize stickiness. It is the only white flour used in the recipe.

After that she made dehydrated yogurt bites in the dehydrator. Walker loves these things but they are like $3 for a tiny package! He gets them when we travel and we keep some around for various reasons but they are too expensive to feed to him all the time.

If it wasn't obvious almost all of this stuff except the dumpster diving was Wifey. She does all sorts of things like haunting used stuff boards and cooking snacks to stretch my earnings as far as possible. Also feeding the kid healthy stuff is important to her. It is also worth noting that she can do these things because she has time. If Wifey was working at a full time job she would not be able to do these things.

Anyway that is what we did today.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stay At Home Mom's, Lifestyle Choices and the American Family.

In a recent discussion I saw stay at home mom refered to by the acronym SAHM. I am unsure where this came from and until proven otherwise I will credit it to Patrice who writes the great blog Rural Revolution. Anyway moving forward. I have been thinking about the whole stay at home mom thing.

I find the excuses for why people say they can't have mom (or I suppose dad) at home to be just that, excuses. The fundamental issue is that to be able to have mom at home you need to be able to live on what dad makes. Simply take the amount he brings in, subtract some for savings and a cushion then the rest is what you've got to live on. Simple but not easy.

All the excuses boil down to we would rather have stuff than mom at home. Living on less may well mean a smaller, simpler residence like most things in life, it is attainable if you want it bad enough. I can however see that not every woman wants to be a SAHM. They may have goals outside of the home, want the social interaction that comes with working outside of the home. I guess my point is that having momma at home is possible if you are willing to make the sacrifices.

For some reason I am still not clear on I watched a couple hours of 16 and Pregnant today. My first thought was "life is hard; its harder if you're stupid".  John Wayne said that. The whole getting pregnant really young thing is stupid.

Seriously the impact of lifestyle choices like having a kid cannot be overstated. These kids are going to have a seriously rough go of it based upon the stupid choice they made.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Breast Feeding, Formula and Diapers

We planned to have Wifey breast feed Walker and to do cloth diapers. Long story made short breast feeding didn't work. She saw a dozen nurses, a half dozen doctors and a couple of lactation consultants. We still aren't sure what the issue was but he wasn't getting fed and just kept losing weight. It was necessary to switch to formula so kiddo actually got some food. It was devastating to Wifey and pretty rough on me too as we really believe in breast feeding. It was hard enough on her that I didn't mention it on here for some time and only then after discussing if she was OK with me posting it. However at the end of the day the kid has got to get fed. He is a lot happier now that he isn't like starving and stuff.

As punishment for his failure kiddo will not recieve a Breast Man onesie. I think this was the first big lesson that sometimes things will happen beyond our control when it comes to kiddo. The saying "If you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans" comes to mind. Probably a lesson that was coming anyway.

His legs just got big enough to fill out cloth diapers which we are excited about as it means no more disposables. The breast feeding failure, while beyond our controll, definitely redoubled our motivation to make cloth diapers work. It is too early to say for sure but it doesn't seem like much of a hassle. She has those ones with the outer thing and a liner and just keeps a spare ready to go so changing is the same. I am sure we will talk more about this later.

Anyway I've got to get to work. Talk to you all later,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something, Something Better, Close To Ideal

Wifey has been working to improve our household and furniture situation since we arrived here. We have been trying to get our place to finally look like we are out of college but on a very modest budget, enter Housewifery. She stalks the sales boards and is constantly watching for deals. A pattern seems to have appeared.

At first it was easy because we could use just about everything. It was also easy because if you do not have anything filling a certain niche improving is easy. Any end table is better than no end table. Once you have an end table the Mrs. wants one that is the right color or looks nice or what not. To be honest while I don't necessarily care about any one thing I do like having a place that is decently put together.

So first we get something. As time goes by sooner or later something better comes along. For example we ended up with a queen sized bed frame and a full sized mattress in the spare room. Eventually Wifey found a great deal on a basic full sized metal frame. We got a rocking chair and it turned out to kinda suck. Just a bit better than no rocking chair. Today she found a glider with an ottoman for a good deal. Sometimes the "something" stuff gets another place in our home. All but the most well established house can use an extra chair or end table. Other times the stuff gets sold.

The queen frame got sold for the cost of the replacement full frame.   The rocker will get sold and for the price of a fast food dinner for two we will have upgraded to the glider. Half the time we upgrade to the better stuff for free and other times it costs a little bit. In any case by being a bit flexible and buying used stuff we get pretty darn good deals. I can't speak for anyone else but to pay an average of 1/3rd the new price we are willing to accept a small stain or a little scratch or a bit of wear.

Aside from a couple pieces we haven't really gotten to close to ideal yet. Part of this is because we are just finishing up something better (actually we could still use another end table but I digress). Since we are at a reasonably comfortable place the amount of energy and money which will go toward furniture is going to decrease for awhile. Also when purchasing anything used the pickier you are the harder it gets to find stuff. For example you could find some kind of a couch on any decent used stuff website over the course of a week or two. In a given month you can probably find a decently nice couch at a reasonable price. However you might be waiting half a year for an 8 foot long greyish blue couch with material that will resist children and a hideabed.

Anyway this plan seems to be working well for us. It is a bit time intensive but that is something Wifey has right now. For the price of one or two brand new things we have a pretty decent dare I say legitimately non college setup.

You can live a decent life and stay on a budget. It helps a lot if you are at least somewhat flexible. It also helps if you are willing to put in the time to find good deals and the effort to sell (versus give away or throw away) stuff you want to get rid of. A hundred dollars you save on a couch or a table can be put toward savings or preps.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Voluntary Simplicity

I got to thinking about what voluntary simplicity really means to me. I know it's corny but lets look at both words first. Voluntary means " proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent" and simplicity is "the state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded". So basically you're choosing to have a simple life. A guy who has no skills and generally isn't particularly employable, works at McDonald's and lives in a travel trailer isn't practicing voluntary simplicity. That is just his life. Versus a guy who makes 40k a year and chooses to live in a travel trailer and bank tons of cash who is practicing some voluntary simplicity. 

I see there being two real raw components to voluntary simplicity. How you earn and how you spend/ live. The two go together. Of course how you earn is a huge factor in how you can spend. You can't spend more than you make for very long. Also more subtly how you spend effects how you can live and earn. If you decide not to run up a bunch of debt on stuff you don't really need then maybe you can work less overtime. You can't enjoy a boat or a motorcycle much if you're working weekends and evenings to pay for it. Also if you change the way you spend you can choose to shift to a more rewarding job.

A big part of voluntary simplicity to me is about choosing HOW YOU WANT TO LIVE then adjusting your spending patterns accordingly instead of doing the opposite which is the case for far too many people. We all have different ideas of what your ideal (realistic) lifestyle is. For some it is wanting to have Momma stay at home with the kids. Other folks might want to have more free time or be able to take a month of for hunting season or work from home, retire at 55 or whatnot. This is sort of the idea that your life is more important than the stuff in your life. 

There is also a big amount of freedom which comes with voluntary simplicity. Since it generally means living well below your means with very minimal debt it is a lot easier to save. With that savings you can get even further ahead and then really have some good options. Can't quit your job if it takes a direction you really don't like when you have 2 car payments, a visa payment and generally debt up to your eyeballs. However if you have no debt and a good savings and decide to find another job there isn't anything keeping you from walking away.

For us voluntary simplicity has two real benefits. First it is flexibility. The difference between what we could realistically earn and what we need to maintain our lifestyle is such that we have flexibility/ options. Right now it is very important to us for Wifey to be at home with Walker instead of him being in day care full time and her working. Instead of having say a new BMW we choose to have our kid be raised by his mother. If we had debt and a lifestyle that required two incomes this wouldn't be an option. Remember that at the end of the day debt is the promise of future work and work represents time. If Wifey's future time was promised to a few lenders it could not be spent at home with Walker.

Secondly is security. The difference between what comes in and what we need to maintain our lifestyle is such that we have a measure of security. A lot could go wrong before we were unable to maintain our normal operating budget. We think this is a good thing.

We are pretty financially conservative. My beliefs are kind of a black and tan made of Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman and a shot of tangible investing on the side. Wifey is just really frugal. She hates spending money and loves seeing the balance of our accounts going up. Simply put if you spend everything that come in it is impossible to save. It is also very difficult to get ahead by say paying off a debt at an accelerated rate. Living at the edge of your means, in addition to being a recipe for disaster, ensures you will never get ahead or to a comfortable place. Lets just for the sake of discussion say you want to save, in various forms for various reasons (short and long term, retirement, etc) a total of 30% of your income. It isn't that much really. Figure the smart folks say you should save about 15% for retirement. The debt averse are usually also saving for the next time they need a vehicle or other mid to long term goals. Living below your means is a sort of voluntary simplicity in and of itself.

This seems to be one of those positive feedback loop situations. The further ahead you get the more freedom you have. You live below your means so you start getting ahead. That makes it easy to get debt free and save an emergency fund. Then it isn't a big deal to save for a down payment on a house. Seeing as you live a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity you buy a home you can very comfortably afford and pay it off at an accelerated rate. The whole time you are saving so you're getting even further ahead. Once you pay off your primary residence things really get moving.

I think it is important to note that voluntary simplicity is relative to your income and current lifestyle. It isn't about living exactly a certain way but relatively speaking living a simple and frugal existence. So much of it is relative. It is also worth noting that you don't need to deprive yourself of everything you like; though of course it is all relative to your unique situation. Personal finances are a marathon not a sprint. Baring huge issues like a 350k liar loan on a McMansion when you earn $16 an hour no one thing sinks you. You can realistically choose a couple things that are sort of splurges which are important to you. For us it is travel, right now while we are in Europe we put a lot of money towards getting out and seeing stuff. Though we plan to take our kids on a trip here someday there is the distinct possibility that we may never come back here. Regardless it is never going to get easier or cheaper to see the sites here. When we get back to the states we will allocate far less money towards travel. Other than that we give ourselves some small flexibility to cover the relatively little stuff like designer purses and single malt scotch.

I am pretty happy with our lifestyle of voluntary simplicity. The Wifey notes that we are probably happier than most people because we aren't worrying about getting the next thing. Our next big thing is making money with our investments or meeting a new saving goal instead of a new car or some rims. I like that we aren't worried about making our bills and all that stuff. For us the benefits of flexibility and security more than equal out the downsides of the modest lifestyle we live.

I hesitate to say what is the right lifestyle for others. It is really and truly about how you want to live your life. If it is worth it for you and the Mrs. to work overtime to have a Mercedes and a Land Rover in the garage of a McMansion then who the heck am I to judge you for it. However as the Sheryl Crow song says....
"If it makes you happy. It can't be that bad. If it makes you happy. Then why the hell are you so sad".

Monday, October 4, 2010

New and Upcoming Frugal Child Rearing Adventures

Wifey is breast feeding Walker. It has a lot of health benefits and that formula junk is so darn expensive. Unless there are some exigent medical reasons I don't see why anyone wouldn't breast feed. However for breast feeding to work momma and baby have to be around each other almost constantly. She can pump but in the big picture it is sort of a hassle, at least to do all the time. Also a lot of day cares won't deal with anything but formula. In my book that is yet another reason mothers should be at home with their kids. 

We will be doing cloth diapers once Walker builds up his legs a bit by roundhouse kicking. They are cheaper and have some other benefits too. This one will be interesting and surely will be the topic of subsequent posts.

Wifey plans to make baby food when he gets ready. They want so darn much for those tiny little jars of baby food. Also this will have the added benefit of knowing exactly what is going into kiddo's body. We aren't crazy about that sort of thing but it never hurts to eat actual food instead of hydrogenated preserved junk.

Pretty much all this stuff is at least somewhat cheaper than the pre packaged, disposable consumer equivalent. It is also a lot more preparedness friendly. This will become a series.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Ramblings: What Have You Been Thinking About This Week?

It has been an interesting weekend. We're all pretty thrown off staying up at all hours and sleep randomly. Going to bed when the sun is coming up and drinking coffee in the early afternoon or in the middle of the night. Sometimes the meals I eat match up with my schedule and other times they match up with the time of day. The combination makes me feel kinda out of it and like I'm slightly drunk all the time. Yesterday I woke up and immediately had dinner. This morning at 6am Miley was having a beer. Half the time I can't tell you what day it is let alone if it is AM or PM.

Talked with Stephen for awhile yesterday.  He is doing a lot better which makes me really happy. Had some interesting conversation about life, guns and the economy. He sends me lots of interesting emails and I do my best to read them. We talked about precious metals some. Concluded that it might not be a bad time to sell gold if you plan to anywhere in the near future. However if you are still buying PM's silver still shows some opportunity. Personally I am staying away from gold and instead buying silver.

One interesting thing about interacting with people who come to something from a different angle is that sometimes they can expose you to a cool new piece of gear or way of doing things. For example after handling my Glock 19 when I was down there he really wanted one and recently got it. If there has been a person who wasn't happy with the Glock 19 I haven't met them.

Also I got to talk to my friend Ryan (lawyer type) which was cool. He is well. Getting ready to do all kinds of huge things. We had an interesting conversation about politics and such. It might be interesting how this upcoming election goes. During it and beyond we are both cautiously optimistic that the Tea Party will do some good stuff. He is excited that they may well win some stuff in this election. I think it is good that if nothing else they are shaking up the GOP and conservative base in general which is good.

Ryan (lawyer type) said something that really resonated with me. He said more or less that he was seriously concerned about the state of our nation and was just going to stop stressing it and just get his stuff in order. I had a similar realization some time ago and it has brought me a lot of peace.  I can watch the news now and usually not freak out. My stress level and probably blood pressure are at much more reasonable levels. Instead of worrying about this or that which may be or is happening I am putting mental time and energy into preparing my family. Instead of stressing this bill or that amendment I think about how to meet this goal or increase that capability. I suggest this sort of perspective to everyone.

Personally I am really tired of this whole crony capitalism thing. It breeds corruption, kickbacks and nepotism by rewarding connections far more than sound business practices. After some reflection I think I prefer welfare type socialism though it should go without saying that I dislike both. At least somebody can (incorrectly) think they are actually helping PEOPLE. Ya know the kind of people with connections who often move seamlessly between slightly above mid level political appointments and cushy advising/ consulting/ VP of nothing type jobs in business. Hook up GE or some hedge fund while you are working for .gov then get a highly paid job not doing much of anything for them afterwords. I don't like the idea of forcibly taking hard earned money from people and giving it to nonproductive members of society; however giving somebody welfare (social security, "disability insurance", mortgage interest deductions, "earned" income credit, etc) just makes me shake my head. Conversely rewarding a group of businesses who screwed our entire economy makes me want to throw up.

We got a bunch of formula today even though Wifey is breast feeding. It is good to have options and a backup plan. Other than that I did a lot of reading on various preparedness and financial stuff. It doesn't really seem worthwhile to do "What did you do to prepare this week" but I figured I'd mention what has been going on. Life is kinda busy for me but I hope you are still doing good stuff. If you want to tell me what you've been up to I would love to hear it.

Now that Walker has been born Wifey is officially a stay a home mom. We don't plan for her to go back to work (though if a good part time work from home opportunity arose...) until our last kid, we're planning on two, goes to Kindergarten. For us this is a very put your money where your mouth is kind of thing. We believe and research agrees that young children do better if Momma is at home with them.

Having a stay at home parent  is one of those things that is simple if not easy. To do it you just need to live on what one of the parents makes. This may well mean decreasing your lifestyle and probably means you've got to give up on keeping up with the neighbors. We would rather have Wifey taking care of our kid then a brand new BMW. Her being able to hang out with, take care of and teach Walker is more important then brand new furniture, expensive electronics and a closet full of designer clothes.

I've got a couple interesting posts coming up for next week. Hopefully you folks will enjoy them.

Interesting news article: Oregon Faces Cold Hard Reality.  Here is a teaser "Borrowing money to cover operating expenses is just plain stupid."

What have you been thinking about this week?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Voluntary Simplicity and Creamy Ranch Pork Chops

Wifey reads blogs also. She reads blogs about Housewifery, which incidentally is a phrase I coined today, simple living, doing things cheaply and the like. She saw the recipe for Creamy Ranch Pork Chops and immediately thought they would be great.  Creamy  and Ranch are adjectives which we like in a meal. Short of cheesy and sauce it doesn't get much better. Well maybe cheesy saucy creamy ranch but you can't be too greedy with these things.

Sunday is Wifeys day off so I do the cooking. Generally it is something easy but I have been trying to get back into practice recently. Also the pork loin was in use or lose status so I cooked this meal today. It is really pretty easy. Make rice, cook pork chops, mix and heat up sauce, pour sauce onto meat, cover and let cook then serve. With a bit of canned corn and some home made french bread it made for a delightful dinner.

Anyway we got to talking about the blog where the recipe came from which is called Frugal and Simple Living. It is written by a young house wife. After graduating college she and her husband both got normal jobs. Then they decided to see how her being at home worked. Shortly thereafter he quit his job and went to work at their church for a significantly decreased salary. They live very frugally and simply on his modest salary. They seem happy with the decision.

The women who blog about serious Housewifery, stuff like cloth diapers, making food from scratch and the like tend to be quite conservative and almost always devoutly religious. Their politics or religion do not detract from the interesting observations, experiences and lessons. The only reason I mention it is to note a distinct trend.

Anyway Frugal and Simple got me thinking about the concept of voluntary simplicity or its extreme gentile poverty. I am a big fan of the idea. To each their own but I don't give a damn about keeping up with the neighbors. When someone else sees a neighbors shiny new BMW and thinks success I see it and think huge car loan. This is even more plain in military communities where you have a very good idea what somebody makes.

In our own way we practice voluntary simplicity. I earn a decent living and we live well below our means. We indulge a bit in travel and "date nights" but otherwise live pretty cheaply and simply. We take the leftover money and use it to make our lives better. A little bit at a time things are coming together for us. We saved an emergency fund and purchased a new to us vehicle and now are paying off my student loan at an accelerated rate. After this is done we will save a down payment for a modest home. We will then pay off said home at an accelerated rate.

I have a couple concerns with voluntary simplicity. My first concern is people who practice voluntary simplicity often live right to the edge of their means. If your normal expenses are 95 percent of your income there is no wiggle room for life's little unpleasant surprises. It interests me that some folks talk about how those who earn 100k a year and spend 98k are fools just waiting for disaster; while they earn 20k and need $19,995 to keep a roof over their head and food in their stomachs and don't see a similarity. You need a decent gap between what normally comes in and your typical expenses. You need it to deal with life's little surprises and those occasional major life events like job losses or home repairs or the need to fly to Minnesota to help out your aunt who got hit by a truck.

My second concern is about medical insurance and retirement though this is more with the gentile poverty plan than voluntary simplicity at large. Often saving for retirement and having medical insurance are among the first expenses to get cut. To each their own but I would not be comfortable without decent medical insurance. Also I find it interesting in the preparedness community that some folks will have a plan for an EMP but not to pay for a trip to the hospital for a broken arm or whatever.

Also folks who plan for the fall of western civilization but not for supporting themselves in their old age are really missing the mark. Yeah, yeah the world is going to end and you will be so rich with wheat and beans and .22 shells. Those fools who stashed lots of money for retirement will be wishing that instead they had put a grand into wheat and .22 shells like you did. I've heard all that junk before. To be honest every time I hear that line it sounds even more stupid than the first time, and it sounded pretty darn stupid the first time. Get real and start planning for how you will live with dignity in old age should the world not end. Hint hint, it is more likely that you will grow old and need money to live on then the world will go all Mad Max plus also wheat and .22 shells while useful are not the way to go.

Living simply is great. A real added benefit is that if your lifestyle is modest the odds that you can do something you enjoy, versus just chasing a big paycheck, are better. I think this is a great plan provided you keep income a reasonable amount above basic expenses and include medical insurance and retirement into your overall thinking.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stay At Home Wife IPR#1

Wifey has been back at home full time for awhile now. I have been noticing some differences and they are worth talking about. We bring in less money now. Obviously if we needed her income to pay bills or support our lifestyle we would be in a rough place right now. For us that isn't a huge deal because we never really let our lifestyle increase with her income. Still we notice it because occasionally a couple bucks from her paycheck was the answer to something we wanted to do but couldn't (well chose not to) fund out of my pay. We hardly every used it but it was comforting to know we had excess income. More significantly her income really let us kick butt on getting ahead. We are still doing good things in terms of saving and paying off debt and all that but are no longer in overdrive.

However we do save some money. She has the time to cook real food, life with flour and sugar and stuff. That saves money. Also she can haunt the used stuff boards and sites to get great deals. So instead of spending a few hundred bucks on a piece of furniture we spend $35 and a bit of gas. If we had been paying child care costs that would be a big savings. Also with just me working we don't totally need a second car. Of course it is pretty darn nice but if one broke we could at a minimum wait awhile to get it fixed. 

Also the total amount of available time to do household stuff has gone up by 25-35 hours a week (what she was working). That means stuff which we used to have to do during the weekend gets done by her during the week. When we both worked basically all of Sunday was eaten up by laundry and grocery shopping. Now weekends are free to do whatever.

This also means the amount of time I have in general has increased. I can focus on work and not worry about what I am going to make for dinner or stopping by the store to get something. I don't know that it has made me more effective at work but it certainly hasn't hurt. When I get home I don't have to worry about household stuff because it is taken care of.

Wifey is liking having time to get Walkers room strait. She also enjoys getting stuff for cheap and now has time to do that. There is a risk that she starts to get bored/ down when not active outside the house. These days she is relatively active with some neighbors and wives of my co workers so that is pretty much taken care of.

The whole thing is going pretty well and we have adjusted to it. I feel like for right now this is the best answer for our family. Of course more money never hurts but the other benefits currently out weight it. I hesitate to say what is best for any other family but it is working well for us.
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