A Place to Call Home

ManagingtheEveryday When our little blog world gets quiet, it usually means that real life is anything but. 

The last month or so has been no exception. 

I keep trying to come up with the perfect post to explain everything, but I think this email we sent our families does a pretty good job:

Hi Family, 

Email is far from the best way to let you all know about our latest top secret project, but we wanted to let you all know at the same time…

We’re moving!

We will be staying in Seattle and aren’t sure which neighborhood we will be in yet, but we are going to be leaving our much loved spot on Capitol Hill – likely in the next few months. 

(No, I’m not pregnant.)

But we do need at least 2 bedrooms in order to pass our adoption home study.**

Yes. You read that right.

We are planning to adopt a child through foster care. :)

(a pause for you to be able to read that again…and again.)

Adoption has been something we’ve talked about for sometime and back in January we decided to officially go for it. Since then we’ve done research and talked with a couple agencies about the different options: international, domestic infant adoption and adopting through foster care. 

We decided that foster care was the best fit for our family. 

It’s going to be a long and complex process.

First, we have to find a new place to live. 

Then we have to take classes, get background checks, fill out LOTS of paperwork and do everything it takes to become certified foster parents. 

After that, we will be able to start receiving referrals. It will probably take a while to find the right “match”. 

And there you have it. 

Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. 

To give a little better idea of how it can look, this piece was written by a couple who came and spoke at one of the foster-to-adopt info sessions we went to. They adopted their son through the same agency we are planing to use. 

I’m sure we will be talking with each of you soon. 

Love, 

Lindsey, Juan & Javi

So…ta da! We are adopting. And selling. And buying. And moving!

Crazy.

I’m also happy to report that we are currently under contract both to sell our place AND to purchase our perfect-for-us new home in Ballard!

The entire home selling/buying process has made for an amazing story and I’m looking forward to sharing more once everything is finalized. 

By the end of June, we should be settled into our new place and ready to begin a mountain of foster/adopt paperwork. 

We are excited, nervous, uncertain and sure all at the same time. It’s going to be an adventure. :)

**In case you are wondering, Javi’s current bedroom doesn’t count as an actual bedroom since it lacks a window. 

100 Walks

Managing the EverydayI’ve always been a homebody. 

I definitely like the idea of outside. It’s beautiful and I’m always glad to get out when I do.

But if given the choice between going for a hike or curling up with a good book? You will find me turning pages on the couch, under a throw blanket. 

And now that I’m at home with Javi, just getting out the door feels like a lot of work. Mostly because there is no simple “open the front door and roll on out” in our elevator-free building.

Instead, it takes at least 3 trips back-and-forth from our apartment, down the hall and up the stairs to get our beast of a stroller (first the base and then the seat), reusable shopping bags, etc. (if we are running errands) and the baby (most important) ready to go. (I’m sooo glad we don’t live on a higher floor.)

All that said, I have one BIG incentive…this guy:

Javi

Javi absolutely adores being outside. The fresh air, trees, birds, people watching. He stares at the world with his big beautiful eyes and can’t get enough. 

And I want to be the Mamá who encourages getting outside and exploring nature – even if it goes against mine.

So that means…a New Challenge! I am happy to introduce…

100 Walks!

The goal? Go on 100 walks with Javi before his 1st birthday (January 25).

We kicked it off on Sunday, where we got caught in the rain a torrential downpour and had to buy emergency umbrellas from the corner store. 

Managing the EverydayToday (Walk #3) we avoided rain, ran some errands and said hi to Jimmy, one of two honest-to-goodness alley cats who live – as you might have guessed – in our alley.

Managing the EverydayI have 97 walks to go and 102 days until Javi’s birthday, which gives me a nice little buffer for illness, extreme laziness, blizzards, etc. 

I’m excited to see where these walks will take us. So far, we’ve been exploring our neighborhood and based on our travel plans, the view is going to change a lot over the next few months. 

If you want to follow along, I’ll be posting images from our walks on Instagram.

Feeling inspired to do your own 100 walks? Share your own photos on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #100walks so we can follow along! 

Happy walking. 

The End of No Spend Month!

Managing the Everyday

No Spend Month is OVER! 

Best of all? We made it, with a little cash left over. 

Managing the Everyday We finished strong! Celebrating with a shared cupcake & homemade coffee.

The Grand Total

294.56 on Groceries (food, cleaning products & personal care)
174.37 on Dining Out
48.75 on Fuel
26.25 on SitterCity (to find a babysitter for Javi)
22.78 on a New Headlight Bulb
22.33 on Paint (to finish painting the hallway)
21.89 on a New Wireless Router
12.00 on childcare (for a class we are taking)
10.00 on a book (for a class we are taking)
3.27 to watch an episode of Tiny House Nation
3.00 on Parking
2.83 on Baby Bottle Nipples (Javi need a bigger size)

TOTAL: $642.03 ($7.97 left!)

3 Things We’ve Learned from No Spend Month

1. Planning is Everything.

Before this month, we used to eat out a lot. Nothing to make for dinner? Let’s go out! Nothing for Juan to take for lunch? Just buy something. 

This month we planned our meals, bought what we needed, made it, ate it. 

This alone has saved us a ridiculous amount of money.

It also saved me a lot of time since I was no longer running to the store for missing ingredients or thinking about what we were going to make for dinner every night. 

2. DIY = $$$

Managing the Everyday

Before this month, the idea of cooking all of our meals at home instead of going out at least once a week (plus a lot on the weekends) was extremely daunting.

It definitely felt that way when we were both working – even more so when Javi was a newborn and we were spit-up covered zombies. 

But now that he’s older and sleeping well, it’s not the challenge it once was. It’s not always fun, but I can definitely do it. 

And when we do go out? It feels soooo nice.

Managing the Everyday

We also cancelled the cleaning service we had started using.

Since our space is small and we don’t have a lot of stuff, I’ve found it only takes about 30 minutes a day to keep it reasonably clean. 

Bonus? I get a great sense of satisfaction just looking at our freshly scrubbed tub. It’s a good workout, I know it was done “right” and it saves us at least $180 per month.

3. WE were the problem.

Before No Spend Month, we regularly went over our budget. We would make adjustments – adding a little here and there – and STILL went over.

Spoiler Alert: The problem wasn’t the budget. It was US. 


Our new theme song.

Looking back at what we spent over the last few months as compared to our “new normal” is pretty shocking and embarrassing. 

Even though No Spend Month is over, we have no intention of going back to our old ways. We’ve made big changes to our monthly budget (although it’s not as tight as our No Spend Month limit). Now that we know what we are capable of, there are no excuses. 

I’m so glad we took this challenge and highly encourage you to consider doing your own No Spend Month.

Seriously, do it.

p.s. A BIG thank you for reading along and keeping us accountable to this goal. Just knowing you would be expecting updates and asking us how it was going kept us from throwing in the towel. :)

5 Tips for Saving Money at the Grocery Store (no coupons required!) + No Spend Month Week #4

Managing the Everyday: 5 Tips for Saving Money at the Grocery Store

We’re in the home stretch of No Spend Month! Only a few more days to go! (Current $ totals at the end of the post.)

The Final Shop

Yesterday, we stopped by the grocery store on our way home from church.

We knew we only had about $30 left to spend on food until the end of No Spend Month so we brainstormed a few meals in the parking lot based on what we knew we had at home.

Juan stayed in the car with our sleeping baby and I braved the store, armed with our list and the calculator on my phone. I managed to get everything we needed for $27.28! 

Here are some tips I’ve found helpful this month:

1. Check the Store Flyer.

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Find out what the weekly specials are before you get to the store.

This way, you can plan your weekly menu around what is on sale and avoid searching for the deals when you are at the store (and buying things you don’t need). 

If it’s a good deal AND is something you need, it’s on your list. Speaking of…

2. Make a List.

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This one is pretty obvious. Figure out what you need to buy for the week and buy ONLY what is on the list. Get in. Get out. 

3.Buy only what you will actually use.

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We started No Spend Month with two pot roasts in the freezer that I bought back in March on a “Buy One, Get One FREE!” promotion. 

Stocking up on an amazing deal is great, but those savings won’t do you any good if you don’t actually use what you buy. Meat freezes well so we were able to still enjoy those pot roasts, but not everything lasts that long.

Eat the food you have. Then buy more. 

And if that new recipe that calls for an exotic spice or unusual ingredient? See if your store has a bulk section where you can buy only what you need instead of a whole container. 

4. Shop the Outside Aisles. 

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Grocery stores usually put the produce, dairy & meat sections around the outer edges of the store. These are usually the only places you need to shop to get wonderful ingredients for homecooked meals. 

Instead of buying pre-made goodies, buy some basic staples and make them yourself.

Chances are, you will spend less, eat better AND your home will smell like chocolate. (We used this easy brownie recipe multiple times this month.)

5. Meet the Dirty Dozen (& the Clean Fifteen).

Peppers
We generally buy organic produce, but it’s often more expensive.

As a compromise, this month we’ve been using the EWG’s Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen lists to let us know where buying organic matters most and which conventional foods are safest from a “pesticide in your mouth” standpoint. 

The No Spend Month Numbers

Last week we spent $161.96.

$103.35 on Groceries
$35.22 on Dining Out
$23.39 on Gas

We have $68.72 left!

What are your favorite grocery shopping tips?

To Buy or Not to Buy

rug

So what do you do when you:

  1. Find a beautiful one-of-a-kind vintage rug that would be perfect for your living room. AND
  2. It’s No Spend Month.

I’ll be honest. If you are me, you buy the rug. Like I just did.

You Did WHAT?

Yes. I know. 

I debated buying it – I could have waited.

Someone else could have bought it, but I would have remained firm in my No Spend Month principles. (And part of me really likes following rules.)

I thought about buying it and not saying anything. I mean, it’s not like any of you would know that I didn’t wait until October. (But that’s shady.)

Instead, I decided to find a way to make it happen while still honoring the goal of No Spend Month. 

Take a Penny…

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photo: 401kCalculator.org

Since we didn’t have the extra money for a rug in our No Spend Month envelope, this meant making sacrifices elsewhere. (No pigs were harmed in the making of this sacrifice.)

We use the Envelope Technique of putting a little money aside every month to save up for big purchases. 

326182675_efa3b24d67_zphoto: Seth Mason

We have virtual envelopes for everything: Car Repairs, HOA dues, Christmas Gifts, Clothing, etc. 

We looked at the balance in each and made some cuts. I sacrificed some of my “Fun Money” aka Allowance. We each took some from our Clothing envelopes (which were very healthy thanks to months of OVERfunding.)

When I asked Juan if he was really cool with taking from his Clothing budget, he said not to worry:

“If I run out of money for pants, I’ll just wear the rug.”

Sounds fair. 

Goodbye Creative Accounting

14458297248_5a79d033a2_zphoto: swong95765

Before No Spend Month, we would have bought the rug, let that envelope go negative and made up for it next month by saving a little less. 

It was a sneaky little give and take that in retrospect made about as much financial sense as spending Javi’s college tuition money on cupcakes

We didn’t do it all the time and never went into debt, but it still wasn’t a healthy habit. Now, we are feeling the pinch in the moment and not sacrificing our future. 

I think that’s a good No Spend Month Compromise.

No Spend Month: Week #3

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month / Week #3

Week #3 went by very quickly and felt surprisingly easy. 

I went grocery shopping, made some good food and we ate it.

Pretty normal stuff.

Normal.

This month has been all about redefining what that means.

Before No Spend Month, we had an almost weekly habit of stopping at our favorite Cupcake Royale for cupcakes & lattes. 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #3

It didn’t start out that way. At first, we started going there for our monthly Money Meetings (what Juan and I call going over our budget, etc.). We split a cupcake and each had a coffee. 

At some point, we decided to get 2 cupcakes so we could try a different flavor, but still have one of our favorites too in case the new flavor was a dud. (Because that would be disappointing). 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #3

After Javi was born, it was one of the few places we felt comfortable going to late at night with our giant stroller & tiny baby. 

Getting out of the house is super important for new Mamás. (So is chocolate cake & cream cheese frosting.) Our visits became more frequent. 

Now, we were sometimes stopping there on our way home from the grocery store and getting cupcakes to go.

Our special once a month treat was now a regular impulse buy. 

2 Cupcakes + 2 Lattes vs Javi’s College Fund

Managing the Everyday- No Spend Month, Week #3

So what was this normal cupcake & latte habit costing us? Almost $1000 per year. 

It’s a lot, but if you really want to put it into perspective consider this:

Imagine we took that same $1,000 per year and put it in a college fund for Javi. And assume that we did that same thing every year for 18 years.  With a 6% return, that would be $32,760 by the time he went to college. 

$32,760!  (And $14,760 of that is interest aka FREE money.) 

We know that college is going to cost a LOT more than that, but it’s not a bad start. 

This Week’s Numbers

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month Week #3 Late night walks to get pizza from Zaw are sooo fun!

Now that I’ve said all that, I will say that this week we did go to Cupcake Royale.

We split a cupcake and had an Americano and a drip coffee. We spent half of what we usually spend and for the first time in a long time, actually cringed a little bit at spending $10 on sugary goodness & caffeine. (That was an oddly good feeling…Our “normal” is adjusting!)

This week we spent $221.56. It was the most we’ve spent yet, but we did purchase several things that are not going to be regular expenses. 

$93.19 on Groceries (food, cleaning products & personal care)
$41.18 on Dining Out (Cupcake Royale, Zaw Pizza & Woods Coffee)
$26.25 on SitterCity (to find a babysitter for Javi)
$22.78 on a New Headlight Bulb
$22.33 on Paint (to finish painting the hallway)
$10.00 on a Book (for a class we are taking)
$3.00 on Parking
$2.83 on Baby Bottle Nipples (Javi needed a bigger size)

We have $234.68 left!

Does Your “Normal” Need an Adjustment?

Reclaim Your Money!

Managing the Everyday
photo: Vincent Anderlucci

Like I said in my last post, prior to this month we have been living comfortably.

We haven’t felt pressure to make every dollar count. And when that happens, little things can slip by. (And if you feel busy, tired or like life is moving too fast? That only makes it easier.)

In addition to setting a spending limit this month, we’ve also been taking a close look at our reoccurring & fixed expenses.

As Juan put it, 

It’s not only No Spend Month…

It’s Reclaim Your Money Month!

 

Subscriptions

Managing the Everydayphoto: Sascha Kohlmann

I used to listen to audiobooks while sorting paperwork at my old job and loved my Audible subscription. Now that I’m home with Javi, listening to audiobooks has been low on my list.

I had a bunch of unused credits that would disappear if I cancelled, so I picked out some books, redeemed the credits and then cancelled. Now I have a bunch of books to listen to on our next flight or road trip. (We’ve already started this and it’s a lot of fun).  

Savings? $16.37 per month

We also cancelled our Zipcar subscription since we haven’t used it in years. Yes. YEARS. We were keeping it because it “wasn’t much” and “just in case”. I think 3 years is a good enough test to prove we don’t need it. 

Savings? $2.08 per month 

Internet Service

Managing the Everyday
photo: James Cridland

When we moved in to our current home, we signed up for a 30MB wireless plan with Wave Broadband. Our 12-month promotional period ran out and we were now paying $89.95 per month. Yikes! 

I went online to see their prices and found that our 30MB was no longer offered and in fact, the price we were paying was the same as a 100MB plan(!)

But although they changed our monthly bill to state that we were now on the 100MB plan, a speed test still said we were at 30MB. 

(Oh internet companies…)

We contacted them and told them to put us on the cheaper 55MB plan AND to make sure we were actually getting that speed. 

And they did. 

Savings? $20 per month (Plus much faster internet.)

Phone Bill

Managing the Everydayphoto: Ashok Govind 

I’ve been slowly increasing my data plan over the last couple months. 

I realized that this was only making it cheaper for me to continue habits that I didn’t like – specifically, checking Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest a ridiculous number of times. 

So I knocked it back down a level.

Savings? $10 per month. 

Little Things Add Up…

Managing the Everydayphoto: Jason Rogers

A couple emails and phone calls later, we are now saving a total of $48.45 per month. All money that was being automatically spent every month on things we didn’t use. That’s $581.40 per year! 

Add that to the unclaimed property money that Juan “found” this month and we are up $206.13 – almost as much as we have spent so far during No Spend Month.

Crazy cool.

Is it time to reclaim YOUR money?

No Spend Month: Week #2

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week 2

Not going to lie, No Spend Month was tough this week. 

Juan and Javi both got colds, I felt stuck inside our apartment and was tired of cooking and planning every meal. The fun had definitely rubbed off the adventure. 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week 2
Poor sick baby.

Usually, I pair getting out of the house with running errands. But with nothing to buy and no money for coffee shops, getting out of the house barely happened. Taking a sick baby to the park also didn’t seem like a good idea.

By Thursday, I had it. I wanted to use a $10 off coupon we have for our favorite take & bake pizza place instead of making the halibut I had defrosted for dinner.

I decided to save the coupon for later in the month, put on my big girl pants and made the halibut.

And it was good. 

The Numbers

This week we spent $47.01:

$2.73 on a box of tissues (for sad, stuffy noses)
$18.92 on Dining Out
$25.36 on Gas

We have $456.24 left!

We ate our way through almost everything we had in the fridge & freezer. Our fridge now looks like this:

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week 2 
Three jars of vegetable soup, two stuffed bell peppers, leftovers from last night’s dinner out, sour cream, grapes, cilantro, a bit of spinach, one hot dog.

The costs were also a little less because of…

Our Weekend Adventure!

On Saturday, we drove to Eastern Washington for a getaway with friends. This trip was planned before we decided to have a No Spend Month, so we decided that it wouldn’t count towards our $650 limit.
Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week 2

That said, we also didn’t want to use it as an excuse to overspend. On the morning we left, we ate breakfast at home (an awesome scramble that Juan put together from bits of leftovers in the fridge), packed snacks & filled our water bottles.

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week 2 Crackers, cheese, apple slices, grapes (and a bottle of Vitamin C)

We did stop for lattes. They were our first lattes of No Spend Month and they were delicious. Juan went in to place the order while I waited in the car with Javi.

A friend was working that day and jokingly asked Juan if she needed to report him for breaking No Spend Month. He assured her it was a mutually agreed upon treat. :)

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week 2 Instead of staying at a hotel, we rented a couple of town homes with full kitchens. We brought food & beverages to share and we had a delicious BBQ.

It was a lot of fun. 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #2

Everything combined, we spent approximately $250 (lodging, gas, groceries and of course, lattes.)

We also had a lot of fun on the 3 hour drive there and back listening to a fascinating book, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior.

Per Juan, “Every parent or anyone considering becoming a parent needs to read this book”. 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #2Like our state of the art sound system? IPad + portable, battery operated speaker. 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #2

It was so nice to get away and to take a break from thinking about No Spend Month.

It’s been on my mind constantly. It means I have to plan where our money goes (and what we eat) to a degree I haven’t had to do since my early single days in Seattle where I was barely making it. 

Back then, it was out of necessity – not challenge. And I made it work.

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #2
Homemade brownies with vanilla ice cream. A No Spend Month treat. 

I admit I got pretty comfortable during our post-marriage, pre-baby, 2-income years.

Looking at our expenses (not our budget), especially for groceries & dining out was like trying on your old favorite pants and realizing that you can’t zip them up. 

A big & uncomfortable wake up call. 

So here we are. Doing something about it!

Tomorrow the challenge picks up again and I’ll need to go grocery shopping. I think it’s going to be our biggest trip yet this month, given the state of our fridge. 

We can do this! We are doing this!

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No Spend Month: Week #1 Recap

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #1

We’ve successfully completed Week #1 of No Spend Month!

The first week wasn’t too difficult (which is good, because we’ve got a few more…)

We missed eating out, but enjoyed finally having a plan for what we were going to eat. Plans save so much time.

Dinner was usually ready when Juan came home and we always knew what we were having for lunch the next day. 

The Numbers

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #1

We’ve spent a total of $146.75:

$95.29 on Groceries (for last week & this week)
$26.30 on Dining Out
$21.89 on a new Wireless Router (reliable internet being a modern “necessity”)
$3.27 to watch a past episode of my new favorite show. (I debated this for 2 days

We have $503.25 left!

The Eats

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month Week #1

It definitely helped that we started the month off with some things in the freezer.

We finished off a bunch of frozen enchiladas and used ingredients we already had to make Coconut Ginger Chicken

I baked brownies and blueberry banana bread muffins, made a quiche, roasted a chicken and made chicken stock. 

We still have everything for Panko Breaded Halibut and Pot Roast – two things on the menu this week. I’m also planning to make a Chicken, Veggie & Quinoa soup with the delicious homemade chicken stock. 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month: Week #1

Yesterday, we went out for lunch (!).

We spent $26.30 on yummy Mexican food and came home with leftovers. After lunch, we went to Gas Works Park and shared a bottle of Coca Cola while watching the sailboats and float planes on Lake Union. 

Observations so far…

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #1

We’ve spent more time outside in the evenings & weekends. Instead of going to a coffee shop, we’ve been filling our water bottles and taking snacks and a blanket to the park. 

We make some pretty awesome meals. Sometimes I like to think about how much I would pay at a restaurant for one of our homemade meals. It’s fun.

Our home is lighter. Instead of buying new things for our home, I’ve been decluttering. We took several boxes of things to Goodwill, Best Buy (great for misc. electronics recycling) and the Hazardous Household Waste site (lightbulbs & batteries). 

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Saving the Crumbs

Managing the Everyday

These first few days of No Spend Month have been a good exercise in creativity. 

We’ve worked hard to use what we have and not let things go to waste: Planning our leftovers so Juan always has something yummy to take for lunch and using things before they go bad. 

Bits of cheese & a few slices of Canadian bacon ended up in today’s quiche. Overripe bananas went into muffins. 

I even saved bits of stale bread & crumbs in a tupperware. 

Usually these would have gone straight into the compost, but I had other plans for them. 

Yesterday, I packed up Javi in the Ergo and we went outside with our little tupperware of crumbs…to feed the pigeons. 

Managing the Everyday

One of Javi’s favorite activities is sitting in his highchair and watching the pigeons through the window.

He sits straight up – no slouching – and watches with extreme intensity, only occasionally breaking his stare to shriek with excitement, wave his arms and look for us as if to say “Did you see that? It’s a bird! It’s a BIRD!

So to actually be outside with the birds up close? Hello wonderful world. 

He was fascinated as they flew down from the rooftop and jostled each other to get the biggest piece, bits of crust flying in the air. 

It reminded me that spending money isn’t necessary to have fun. Sometimes all you need are crumbs.