Sunday, November 6, 2011

Practical Living

Disclaimer: this is simply a post about what's been going on in my mind lately. It's not to make anyone feel bad for us, it's not to sound ridiculous because we are completely fortunate and blessed, it's not to make myself seem poor, it's not to garner sympathy or rolled eyes (poor Terri in her huge updated house with her good job and closet full of clothes, pantry full of food who doesn't have to choose between a medical bill and groceries.) This is my blog, a place to record what's going on in our lives, and sometimes simply writing things down helps me to process, keeps me accountable and is a log of how we can grow and change for the better :)

As most of my friends and family know, I've tried to shift much of our living practices to align with whole living. Things like organic foods, natural products, less plastic, less waste, etc. I love the idea of taking care of my family while taking care of the earth while allowing the earth to provide for us. However, in this day and age, whole living is unfortunately costly living. Sure, there are ways to cut costs, but in many areas, trying to do the natural, healthy thing, is expensive. Now that we have another kiddo on the way, and we have to look at child care costs, another mouth to feed, more clothes, more STUFF, I'm having to re-evaluate how we're going to make things work. If I'm being honest, I don't think I've ever been quite so stressed about money. Something in my personality tends toward worrying or caring about money anyway, but now, pregnant, hormonal, and with Olivia almost here, I've just got to do something to alleviate some of the financial tension. Sooo, while I will strive to stay healthy and holistic, I'm going to have to be more practical for the time being.

Here are some of my ideas. For starters, we have a budget and we've had it for almost 3 years. We try so hard to stick to it (which is a reason it feels unfair that we have to worry about money at all).  The hardest budget categories for me are my personal category (Starbucks/Target anyone?) and groceries. I am an impulse shopper. "Yumm, chocolate donuts look great. I NEED those!" Yeah. Right. We are going to have to cut back on almost every budget category, but I'm going to work the hardest on those 2. No more $20 Starbucks cards for myself. No more impulse purchases in the grocery aisles. And I'm thinking I'll start buying more generic, less convenient things. For example, bars of soap rather than soft body wash. Fixing dinners with recipes that utilize cheaper ingredients and/or things we already have (eggs!).

I for sure need to figure out what we NEED for Olivia versus what I WANT for her. Yes, a car seat protector for the car seats would be great, BUT, I'm sure a black towel will do the trick and cost much less. A colorful rug for her room would sure be cute, but does a baby need a rug? Nope! How about used? Yep, I'm going to check craigslist for some items rather than going straight to the store. Some things I can't (or won't, really) change, such as buying organic beef, which costs quite a pretty penny. Thanks a lot Food, Inc!
Sadly our health insurance is changing in 2012, and it's not changing for the better. We also work in jobs that apparently don't give raises. This stage of life is going to be a struggle for me. We've already cut WAY back on going out to eat. I loved when we were first married and we went out to try a new place to eat each weekend. Those were built in dates! Now I'm going to have to get creative on how to spend quality time with Jeff because lately we haven't really gone on dates and when the baby gets here, good luck, right?!

So I've got goals. Spend less at the grocery store. I'm going to take a calculator and add up every item so I know how far I've gone and what I've got left. If I get too high, I'm going to change a dinner plan, put things back and grab some mac'n cheese or spaghetti. I'm glad that many natural or organic items really are comparable to their counterparts, so I'll keep shopping for those great deals. I'm going to skip starbucks and target and try to find new ways to make my wardrobe work. I have a wonderful espresso maker, so I'll start making a delicious latte on the weekends or mornings and it will save me money. I'm going to work hard to shift my mindset from WANT to NEED. I'm looking into a seasonal job and I've approached my boss for a meeting about a salary increase, so my fingers are crossed there. And I'm going to take some deep breaths and try to relax and let go. Wish me luck!

I want to add, during this pregnancy I've never felt so blessed by friends and family! I don't know how many clothes babies go through, but we have been given SO MANY girl clothes from friends and family who have had girls. It seems like she'll be able to wear something different every day! I can't wait to turn around and give back to someone else who can use baby things when we are done. We've also gotten a swing, seat, pack n play, toys, mattress, cradle, and I just had the most AMAZING baby shower ever. Seriously, I feel so loved and I know Olivia is already so loved. (more on the shower coming soon.) I hope that everyone who has been so generous will be blessed ten times as much! Thank you, thank you to everyone!

So that's where I am right now. See, I knew it, just typing this out has given me some relief. I've thought through some good ways to start saving money and making a new budget work. So thank you for bearing with me as I blabbed on and on!

Also, I do recognize that in the midst of this whining post, we have it WAY better than TONS of Americans and almost all of the rest of the world. I get it. I've gotten used to a way of life and now I'm crying a river because I have to change it. I get it. We've made money choices that some people wouldn't, and we continue to make them. We could change a lot more than just the things I've listed above, and maybe someday we will. I'm just being honest, I'm just throwing out my feelings for the world wide web 7 of you to read. Please keep your judgments of me soft. I do welcome your practical suggestions for budget happiness, too :)


Sarah said...

thank you for sharing! I completely understand... my biggest struggle is TIME and LOCATION. I don't have time to do all the research to really do the "whole living" thing well... and we live SO FAR from stores that make it possible. I think we all just do the best we can with what we've got. Don't be too hard on yourself... you do such a fantastic job of living well.

Cheryl said...

Children change everything and take away the ability to take anything for granted. Your thoughts, and fears, are normal and very real. You should never have to apologize for or make a disclaimer for your thoughts/feelings! Trust me, lots of us feel the same way!

Oh, for groceries, I try to make a meal plan for 2 weeks at a time and shop all at once. Less visits to the store equal less impulse purchases. In lots of cases, the generic is just as good as the name brand so that helps too.

Hang in there Terri!

Sarah Feaster said...

Terri I love you! You are so totally normal! In fact, probably better than normal because you actually post your thoughts for the world to read! :)

Carly said...

You are so cute. I love your honesty, but that was the least whiney "whiney-blog-post" I've ever read. Your diligence in sticking to your budget is impressive, and your willingness to take an honest look at where else you can cut back is thought-provoking. You've inspired me many times in this area, so thanks for your honesty.