8.22.2013

Tips On Saving Money

Before the slide happened at Kennecott, we were living comfortably. We took for granted where our money was going and how easily we were spending it. Since the accident up there and Cory lost some of his highest paid hours, we've obviously reevaluated how we've been controlling our money now that we have less of it. Knowing our situation is temporary hasn't changed our thinking. We want to be as smart as we can about this and let me tell you, we have learned A LOT! For instance, I now appreciate more than ever the importance of the dollar. It blows me away how much money people will throw away on superficial things or just to get the best name brand of a product! I've become keenly aware of my spending habits and the importance of saving our money and getting out of debt. I now know the difference between needs and wants and have learned what's really important and value what I purchase. I'm certainly not an expert on this topic, I'm sure we have more learning to do, but I wanted to share what we have learned or have used that has helped make what could have been a nightmare of a situation, into one that will hopefully shape how we budget our money for the rest of our lives. These are in no particular order. 

1. Make a list of all your expenses and cut out what you don't need. This was our first step when the slide happened. We sat down and listed all of our expenses to see where we could make cuts. We don't have consumer debt (unnecessary loans, credit cards, subscriptions) so we didn't have tons to cut back on. But we got rid of things that weren't a huge priority, starting with the most obvious. For example, no one needs cable or satellite. We get by just fine with our antenna and $8-a-month Netflix and Hulu Plus. Or we just don't watch TV altogether. Cut out subscriptions you don't need such as magazines, memberships, and whatnot. Shop around for internet prices or share with a neighbor. Strip it down to the bare minimum. You'll be surprised how much freer and happier you'll feel not having that weighing on you. It's like decluttering your life. 
2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Cut back on power usage. Increase/decrease your thermostat to a temperature that you can tolerate and not use so much energy. Look into budget billing as well so you will always know what your bill will be. Cut back on driving. Carpool with people. Etc. 
3. Use coupons and pay attention to grocery store sales. I hit up Smith's on a sale one time and saved so much money! Also, store brands, generally speaking, are the exact same thing as the expensive brands. Buy those instead! If you're used to buying $30 shampoo, change it! You can save $25 by getting $5 shampoo instead. Your hair won't fall out and you can afford much more stuff. Apply these principals everywhere.
4. Plan a menu for two weeks and only buy what you need. I plan our meals out for two weeks then hit the grocery store. I always shop when I'm full so I don't buy stuff out of hunger, and I only get what's on my list. I used to just go up and down every isle and just buy what looked good and I wasted so much money. Not anymore. 
5. Avoid advertising as much as possible. That's a bad title for this example but I don't know how else to put it. Let me explain. I used to really try and save our spending money before things got a little tighter but as soon as I would log onto Facebook and see a sale on Sexy Modest Boutique or get an email that Zulily had a particular item on sale, I suddenly needed it! I had to have it right then because it was cheaper! And I wasn't realizing how many times that was happening and how much money I wasting on stuff I just wanted. So I avoid those all together now. I instantly delete all emails, stopped allowing those stores to show up in my news feed to tempt me, stopped "window shopping" at stores, etc. Unless you're out to get something you need, stay away from it. I told Cory the new rule is: if I haven't mentioned we need it at least twice before, then it's not worth buying. And decrease your Pinterest use. 
6. Invest in things that will save you money in the long run. We subscribed to amazon prime in February. It's been a HUGE help to never have to pay for shipping when we have to order something. I also have lots of Norwex products which have saved us lots of money already because I don't ever have to buy cleaning products or face wash/body wash again! That's cut our grocery bill substantially.
7. Use apps to help you stay on track. About a year and a half ago, I purchased a (kind of expensive) app called Visual Budget. I'm sure there's many apps out there just like it, and I don't even know half the stuff this one can do, but it's awesome. I can put in all of our bills and group them in categories (transportation, home, personal, groceries) and the date they will take out of our checking account. So on any given day, I will always knowhow much money we have after all the bills will take out. When you spend money on something, simply put the transaction in and it recalculates it all for you. You can also see how much you've spent each month on each category like fuel, groceries, dining out, etc. which can be an eye opener and help you declare a budget. You can also see how you paid for each transaction if you remember to add that detail when you put in a transaction, whether it was with cash, check, credit card, or a bank transfer like automatic withdrawal. This is useful too, but I'll cover how we spend our money in another bullet point. 
8. Pay your tithing. This is kind of a no brainer. Having trouble? Don't stop paying your tithing. The Lord will always bless you with what you need. 
9. Plan your fun stuff/date nights ahead of time and save for them. We used to just spontaneously go out or order pizza randomly and never really care about how much it would cost. Now that we have to be more careful, we plan ahead. We decide what night we want to go out on a date night or to an event (like the rodeo) and what we want to do and where. Then we set the money aside and we know that's our "fun" budget. We also don't plan to do expensive things unless we know we have some time to save for it. Our date nights are pretty cheap these days. 
10. Budget your money. I guess this is kind of obvious haha but determine a budget and stick to it. Set aside a certain amount for bills, groceries, eating out, personal grooming, clothes, etc. If you stay under budget, save the extra. 
11. Use cash for everything. My mom first told me about this one when I was in high school and since then it's been a huge thing that people mention from Dave Ramsey's plan, which is also awesome and kind of what we are doing. The simple truth is, we can swipe and swipe and swipe our credit/debit cards all day long and never really know or care how much we spent. That's not the case with cash. It's so much harder to hand over $20 in cash to someone than it is to hand them a piece of plastic. We tested this theory out a long time ago with eating out. One month we spent gobs of money on eating out. The next, we used cash and didn't eat out once. We didn't want to waste our cash on food. Plus you always know how much you have left. We love this method. Minus having to go inside and pay for our gas at the gas station ;) 
12. If all else fails, be nice to every widow you meet in hopes they will leave you all their money when they die. Kidding. Obviously. 

Hopefully those tips will help anyone who may be looking for ways to save on some cash. I know we've learned lessons we'll use for a lifetime. 

8.18.2013

The Big 3-0

My handsome man turned 30 this weekend. Holy crap! For months I had wanted to plan a big surprise party for him and really go all out. But then we planned our camping trip on the same weekend and it didn't end up happening. But for Cory, camping on his birthday was just what he wanted, and that's what really matters. 

As a tribute to his aging, I want to share 30 reasons why I love him. 

1. He's very selfless. 
2. Doesn't care what people think. 
3. Incredible, devoted father. 
4. Sensitive and understanding husband.
5. So easy going.
6. Has the best laugh in the world.
7. Lets face it, he's handsome!
8. Works so hard to provide for us.
9. Loves the same things I do. 
10. Can cuddle like you wouldn't believe.
11. So talented with building things. He's pretty much a genius. 
12. Makes those around him happy. 
13. Puts the needs of others before his own.
14. Makes us laugh every day. 
15. Helps out with the dishes. 
16. Puts up with my crap. 
17. Has a good head on his shoulders. 
18. Always eats what I cook. 
19. Encourages me to be a better person and achieve my goals. 
20. Honors his priesthood and temple covenants. 
21. Always keeps his face shaved. Facial hair is so gross. 
22. Can figure out how something works within seconds of looking at it. He's a smarty-pants. 
23. Humble. 
24. Never, ever complains, even when there's a reason to. 
25. Makes pretty adorable babies. 
26. Can start a fire like nobodies business.
27. Organized and practical. 
28. Acts like a little kid and has fun. 
29. Cares about the important things in life and doesn't get hung up on material or superficial things. 
30. Makes me happier than I ever thought possible. 
We sure love you, Cory! 

Camping, Camping, Camping!

I was raised a camper. I love 95% of the things associated with camping. Not on that love-list are:
•no shower 
•eating like crap 
•lots of work 

But really, it's mostly all worth it. There's nothing quite like leaving the pressures of everyday life, escaping to the great out doors, away from cell phone service and distractions, and just having fun with those you love. 

We got to do just that over the last 5 days. We went out with Cory's family up to the Monte Cristo area. We brought the four-wheelers, our campers, and our game faces. 

I always envy that Kennedy gets to ride in style whenever we take a road trip:


We were able to find a pretty sweet spot just a little way down the road for free. The only problem was all the dirt. Lots of very dusty, dark, fine dirt. Kennedy was in heaven
And may or may not have looked like a different race by the end of each day. 
And much to her dismay she had to be sponge bathed every night 
But she seriously loved, loved, LOVED getting filthy, gathering sticks, throwing rocks in the fire pit, and a myriad of other things that we just didn't understand. We definitely have a camper on our hands. That's a good thing. 

The major down side to the trip was Thursday morning. Cory's dad had taken his four-wheeler out for a ride. Shortly after Kennedy and I headed out and found him. He had rolled his four-wheeler and had broken his collar bone and clearly needed a hospital. So Cory's parents headed home and his dad stayed there after the hospital visit and his mom came back. We all felt incredibly bad for him because he was so excited for this trip and now he was stuck at home with a broken collar bone. I think we all felt a little guilty having fun knowing he was at home. It was sad :( 

But, we still had a good time. I attempted to get a picture with my little squirt. We got this super fuzzy one:
 Then all kennedy cared about was pushing the button to take the picture:
So I asked Cory to take one for us:
Game over. She was not having it. Oh well. 

We also learned on this trip that she has outgrown her pack and play. After waking up crying about 800 times the first night, we concluded it was probably because she was too cramped. We were right. So we let her sleep like a big kid, but we did barricade the edge of the bed to keep her from falling off. 

And look what we found at the campsite!
Too bad it's the wrong year. But it was still cool. 

Other items of note on this trip include:
- cooking in a Dutch oven for the first time. My peach cobbler was to die for!! 
- lots of campfire time 

We really enjoyed ourselves and plan on going back. But next time I'll have to pack clothes we don't care about ruining. 

8.10.2013

Goals and Apps

As it turns out, I'm a pretty goal-motivated person. I'm obsessed with setting goals and deadlines and laying out a plan to get it done, I'm just horrible at executing. Until recently.

Cory and I discussed last week what we think we need to improve on individually. We agreed to make our own personal plan and get to work. Since I am also obsessed with my phone, I figured there had to be an app for goal tracking. I was right. There were lots. 

As far as apps go, I'm as cheap as they come. So I picked the free version of one that made sense and got to work:
It's not amazing, but being able to see visually on the calendar when I've accomplished my goal for the day has really helped me step it up. 

The you're-a-cheap-loser-and-only-use-the-free-version only allows you to set 3 goals at a time. I figured that was ok with me. Any more than that might be a little overwhelming. So I set to work and picked three goals:
1. Read my scriptures and pray every night on my knees. The "on my knees" portion is in caps on the actual goal description because I'm famous for the head-on-the-pillow prayers that usually end after "Dear Heavenly Father..." 
2. Exercise at least 4 days a week. Pretty self-explanatory.
3. Don't spend money on anything we don't need. 

So each day I complete my goal I get to put a dot on the calendar, like so:
It's pretty fun. I'm kicking butt in the scriptures and exercise portion. Having a date night and a spontaneous ice cream date with Kennedy messed up the money thing. But that's ok. Sometimes those are needs, but I didn't want to count that. 

I feel like such a nerd tracking and documenting, but at least it's working! Yes, I'm a dweeb. 

Speaking of dweeb, Kennedy loves to play with my phone, too. Specifically this app called Elmo's Monster Maker. She gets to create a monster and then the monster plays with Elmo and they dance and giggle and Elmo takes the monsters picture, a picture that gets saved in the camera roll. So every day or two when I go to look at my pictures I find little treasures like these:





Sometimes it makes me laugh. Sometimes it's annoying, like when she's been playing it in the car and there's 57 monster pictures to sort through. But she sure loves it. And it's been a lifesaver when she's been in a crappy mood. Thank you, Elmo. 

8.09.2013

Fishy Spectators

What a good day yesterday was! 

I woke up and had my last shift at this place:

It was bitter sweet. I'm so excited to get to stay home more and keep my house in order and be able to hang out with my friends again. But I will also miss my coworkers and Kennedy getting to play some place new. She made some cute friends that I think we will both miss. 

Then I went and did my usual Thursday duties, only today included smashing one of the biggest spiders I've ever seen. Spiders are the WORST! 

I spent the afternoon chasing our deck furniture around the backyard. We had some crazy wind and it literally launched our chairs off this baby: 
But don't worry, we stored it in a safe and convenient place:

Then after Cory tinkered in the garage for the entire afternoon it was finally DATE NIGHT! As far as date nights go, we never have them. Especially lately. A couple of weeks ago we saw a KSL deals coupon for the Salt Lake County Fair rodeo and decided we needed a date night so we "splurged" on the $5 tickets. 

For some reason I thought the rodeo started at 6:00. On our way down I checked the website and it said 7:00. The sign at the gate said 6:30. While we were saving our seats (at 6:00) they announced it would be starting at 7:30. So we were just a couple hours early to this thing and had some daylight to burn at the fair. We just walked around getting hassled by the game booths and tried to get recruited into the Army by the most overzealous soldiers I have ever seen, bless their hearts.  

Anyway, finally it was show time! Since this was only my second rodeo ever, I was so excited! They started the show off right with bull riding. 
Although bulls are highly more aggressive and moody, and this was awesome to watch, I think bronco riding it slightly better. But this was only a county fair rodeo. Maybe some day I'll see the big wigs compete and change my mind. But we stilled enjoyed every minute! 


Then it was on to mutton busting. For you rodeo virgins like myself who might not know what that is, because I didn't, parents take their sweet little 4-6 year olds and sign them up to ride a sheep around the arena for as long as they can hold on. After watching this, I have a new favorite event. I lost most of my mascara from laughing so hard I was crying. It is the CUTEST thing I have ever seen. Some of those kids were not letting go for anything. Every once in a while one would get hurt and cry and then I would feel bad that I was finding this so entertaining. But at least I wasn't the parent who made them do it, right? 

In the midst of my uncontrollable giggling during the mutton busting, I glanced over at the stand next to us and noticed this:
Yes my friends, that is a lady and her goldfish. I'm sure there was a rational explanation for her companion, but it was the last thing I expected to see and I already had to worst giggles ever. That set me over the edge and I couldn't stop gut-busting laughing. I'm pretty sure I embarrassed Cory. No one else thought the kids riding sheep was quite that funny. 

There were three rounds of bull riding and mutton busting, a round of miniature bull riding, which was awesome, and some barrel racing. We had such a great time. We really needed it. 

Hopefully on the next date night I will act a little more like an adult. 

8.06.2013

What July Looked Like

Hello, month-long hiatus! That's a long time to ignore someone. It's not a record though. I've gone much longer. I am a girl and no one knows how to hold a grudge better than us leggy chicks. But since I have nothing against my blog, apologies are in order. I sincerely apologize for not updating something that you didn't even notice wasn't being updated. 

Truth is, life has been a tad crazy around here. From our sudden move to Montana to my broken leg and on to finding out I'm pregnant with twins, I have a lot to update you on!

Ok, kidding. There's nothing quite that exciting happening. And hopefully it never does happen. But we have been keeping ourselves busy. I'll start by updating on ourselves individually and then throw in some extra bonus material for kicks. 

I get asked A LOT how Cory's job is going. The good news is, he has a job. Kennecott is done laying off employees for the time being (technically they were done a couple months ago but I forgot to update) so that's comforting news. But he's still short on hours. Until things pick up, and we're praying very hard that they do, we've learned a lot about not being wasteful and how to stretch our dollar. We've been very blessed to have everything we need each month which has strengthened our testimonies in how much the Lord blesses us and watches out for us. We've also learned what's important in life and who is important. I am eternally grateful for the friends who have stood by us and watched out for us during this time. We're doing ok and no matter what happens, we'll continue to be ok. The next question I always get asked is, "Is he looking for another job then?" No, he's not. And that's not out of denial or stupidity. The fact is, for him to get another job as good as Kennecott, we would have to move to Vernal or Mongolia or somewhere far away from family and we're not willing to do that. So we're sticking this slide thing out to the end. So that's the scoop on that. 

As for me, I am no longer working at Gold's Gym as of this week. You may be saying to yourself right now, "That's stupid! Why? Aren't you in need of money?" Yes, yes we are. Although I enjoyed my coworkers and the chance to get out of the house, a better offer came along that was more suitable for me and my family. I'm excited to be home more and hopefully not get sick as often. And to have more weekends free to actually go camping, now that summer is almost over. <---- that scares me to say it out loud! :( 

Kennedy is Kennedy. She has this special gift where she can make your heart burst with love and affection one second, and make you swear at her the next. Let's hope she grows out of some of that in the future. 

The most recent thing with her is that we took her beloved binky away last week. She wasn't a daytime binky-junky. She only ever had it at night or during naps. But we interrupted that wonderful, peaceful time and last week was rough. We felt like the worst parents in the world the first couple days and so we were suckered into spoiling her to help her through it. I had heard an idea of taking the child to Build-A-Bear and having them put the binky inside so they know it's gone but they have the bear to sleep with instead. We tried that. She put the binky in willfully and loved the bear all day until bedtime when she kept pointing at the tummy and saying "binky inside!" And handing the bear to Cory and asking him to get it out. Saddest thing ever.


She doesn't love the bear so much anymore. Plus if we're being honest, no one is going to take the place of Elmo. That little guy gets cuddled so hard every night it makes me jealous. But the bear served its purpose in her knowing the binky was gone. After about 4-5 days of no naps and screaming tantrums, she's finally accepted it and hasn't asked for it again. And naps have returned. Can I hear a "hallelujah?" 

Alright, so our other activities have included lots and lots of swimming:

And we've gotten sick every time we've gone to the water park. The worst was Kennedy getting pink eye. That was awesome. But we go anyway. 

We've spent time playing outside: 

Watching The Little Engine That Could literally over and over and over again. She is obsessed!! 
Celebrating holidays with lighting things on fire:
And there was even an overnight camping trip with my parents where she got to actually run around and be a kid in the dirt and stuff. 

"Does this waterfall make me look fat?"

So that's the gist of life at our house. Like I said, not terribly exciting. But there has been chocolate and ice cream, sometimes even together, so we really can't complain.