Monday, January 28, 2013

No Spend January

In early fall, I read on Facebook that my girlfriend was having a no spend month. The concept was simple, don't spend any extra money. You pay for bills and groceries and that's pretty much it. No extras. No junk food. No eating out. No renting movies. No "this was on sale so I HAVE to have it". Just.the.necessities. It's supposed to open your eyes to how much money you spend on crap.

I thought it was brilliant. I was sold. But when? When do we have our no spend month. October was Adelyn's Christening so we needed to buy stuff for that. November was Lily's Birthday and while it wasn't extravagant, it would still cost extra. Then December was Christmas. It was easy. January. The weather is crappy so we don't want to do anything anyways. It's right after Christmas so we could keep Lily busy with all her new toys. So when she would ask to "do something fun", we had plenty to entertain her without having to take her places. It was an easy decision. So I brought it up to Steve and he was on board immediately.

So we rang in the new year with a bang and geared up for a no spend month. The hardest part? Not eating out. We ate out/fast food at least twice a week, if not more. This meant we were to prepare every meal. No grabbing fast food on the way home from Lily's dance class. No going out to breakfast with Papa on Sundays. Just good ol' home style cooking. Did I even have enough recipes in my repertoire?

Well, it's almost the end of January and I am happy to say we did it! We had a mostly non spend January. Our credit card bill is significantly smaller than it was in December (which is hard to compare due to the holidays). Thanks to Pinterest we had enough recipes to last us. We got our movies from the library. Which we do anyway. If you haven't checked your local library for movies, you really should. They even have new releases! Well, ours does anyway. We took a niece or nephew every weekend. This helped us spend more time with our family as well as entertained Lily. We even had enough left over beer from our New Year's Eve party to enjoy a little relaxing of the adult persuasion. It was an all around success.

What's that you say? "Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater?". Yes, we did cheat a little bit. When we had our nieces/nephew over we got Little Caesar's pizza. It was actually cheaper to do it that way than it was to cook. But we never spent much (thank you $5 Hot & Ready!). Also, I went out once with my best friend for her birthday. I missed her Dirty 30 so I had to make it up to her. Besides, thanks to the firefighters we met, I spent less than $20. =)   But, all and all, we made it. Thirty one days (or will be at the end of the week) without spending money on stupid stuff.

The no spending doesn't end on Thursday though. We won't be as hard core about it, but this month definitely opened our eyes. We're moving forward with a new look on our spending. An inspiration on why we should say no. We now want to hold ourselves accountable for what money we spend where. We want to do other things to help us save money, not just stop spending. Finally, we plan to do more no spend months in the future - every quarter at least.

Whether this concept is new to you, or you've heard about it before. I think that it's a great thing for every family to do. It really does open your eyes to the amount of money you spend frivolously. If you need ideas on how to spend your time, Google it, there are so many great ideas out there.

So, what are you waiting for? Stop reading and start saving!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Unconventional Mother

I've already told you about how I've been called a a good mom but let me take a minute to tell you what *kind* of mom I think I am.

With Lily, I exclusively breastfed until almost 6 months. Then I continued to "extended" breastfeed until she was 18 months. Only then did I stop because I had to in order to start fertility drugs for our second baby. If not for that, Lily may still be breastfeeding since she was such a booby monster. And I would still let her despite the "norm" that our society had deemed. I made my own food. She slept in our room until she was 7 months old. I used a delayed immunization schedule.  I wore her in one of the many baby carriers I invested in. We refused to do cry it out. I rocked Lily to sleep until she was almost 2 years old and continue to rock her before bed.

I read every book I could get my hands on not only when she was born, but from the time we were trying to conceive until she was probably close to a year old. I researched EVERYTHING. Every choice I made was not made without some sort of background information. I don't think this made me paranoid. I just felt that if I was bringing a child into this world they deserved for me to make informed decisions about their upbringing.

I remember hearing, A LOT, how things would be different when I had a second. How I was making it harder on myself by doing things the way I was. I know they were all teasing and had good intentions. I know that "my" way of doing things is far from the norm. At least the norm that society projects and that my immediate friends and family adhere to. But, at times it made me second guess myself. I wondered if things would change when my second child was born. If I would take "easier" ways (not that I think listening to your child cry is easy for anyone!).

Enter baby #2. My dear sweet Adelyn. I can say that some things did change. I still breastfeed and will continue to do so as long as she wants.I nurse in "public" much easier than before. I would even do it without a cover if it didn't make Steve uncomfortable. I still make my own baby food. I still use a delayed immunization schedule, wear her, refuse to do cry it out, and rock her to sleep. I still research anything I'm unfamiliar with. There has been a lot of that when it comes to her development and things I can do at home to help her meet her milestones. At almost 10 months old, she's just moved into her own room after quite a struggle. But now I cloth diaper. I wanted to with Lily but living in our old house we didn't have the room for all the extras that came along with that. So, essentially, I'm making it "harder" on myself. Not "easier" as some people projected.

So, you ask me, what kind of mother do I think I am? If you look online, there are a lot of terms to describe my parenting technique. Crunchy. Attached. Natural. Over bearing. Maybe I'm some parts of all of them. But, I just see myself as a little unconventional. If you ask some of my dearest friends who live in the computer, they'll say that what I'm doing is normal for them. It's normal for a lot of women who subscribe to the way of thinking that I do. But, those women are not parts of my inner most circle. I only know 1 women in real life who extended breast fed. She's my current boss. I only know of 2 women in real life that cloth diaper. One is, again, my boss (who's more "crunchy" than I am!). The other is a friend who started cloth diapering after I did. She, also, had thought about it in the past but when I loaned her some of my dipes I finalized the deal for her (yay!).

What I do is far from the "norm" for some people. They look at me with questioning eyes. They wonder if I'm going above and beyond what I should. But, it's normal for us. It works for us. And when it all boils down, that's really what matters. I get that cry it out, disposable diapers, not baby wearing, buying store food is normal for others. It works for them and their family. I don't judge by any extent of the imagination. But for me, I do what's in my gut. And, I think, when it comes down to it, that's what make people think that I'm a good mom. Whether people agree with my choices or think I'm crazy, they respect the fact that I'm following my heart no matter how "hard" it may be for me. That I'm doing what is right for my family as it stands now.

So, no matter what you want to call it. Or not call it. In the end, I just consider myself a mom doing the best I can do at the moment.

Disclaimer: I used "I" when referring to a lot here. I am not a single parent. I have a husband who is an intricate part of this family. He deserves as much credit as I do in raising these girls. But, he will freely admit that he gives me the freedom to do the research and make the decisions when it comes to these things when it comes to the girls. I never make them without discussing them with him first but he always says that he trusts me and the research I've done. He knows that nothing is done with a half heart when it comes to our girls. Not that he washes diapers or goes to the monthly appointments that are required for the delayed vax schedule. ;)   I am very lucky to have someone so open and on board for the parenting decisions that we make!