Saturday, February 27, 2010

Frugality for a family of 7

I have decided that since I live within the rules of frugality by necessity I would start tagging posts as this.  This way if I come up with more ways to be frugal and on-budget, I can easily connect to it for readers.

As a family of 7 where both parents work fulltime, time is of constant limitation.  I find myself forgetting small little details that I used to be able to easily remember.    So, while we are frugal; our motto for the past couple of years has been to stay frugal and enjoy life within frugality, we have time to balance with saving money.  This is us doing this and living this on a daily, hourly basis.

We survive on more than some, but less than most.  Maybe not in this exact economy since we're fortunate to still have jobs, but before the crisis caused major job loss.  We survive on well less than $100,000 and still enjoy some perks in life.

Clothes are HUGE expense for most families.  If you have 5 growing kids, imagine the costs.  Brian wears uniforms and he's not a clothes crazy man, so a few shirts and pants and he's good to go.  The only thing he asks for is a new, name brand pair of shoes every year or two.  I still wear clothes that is close to 10 years old.  If' it's not torn or stained, why not?  I wear a lot of khakis to work.  I can spruce it up with inexpensive, dress shirts for work.  I don't buy new shoes often at all.  If I still like them, they stay.  The kids get most of their clothes off the Kohls, Penneys, Target and Walmart clearance racks.  I wait until there's a good discount to go with the department store purchases and can usually buy items for $5 or less.  Children's Place outlets are great for little kids to buy cheap.  We still rummage sale for the little ones too.  Way to many name brand things we can get at these places hardly worn for a dollar or two. 

I drive a 2010 model.  I wanted to enjoy things, so we bought this one with everything the kids and I could want.  It is, afterall, the only vehicle we own that all 7 of us can fit in. Brian drives a 1993 station wagon.  Serves it's purpose with great gas mileage.  He also has a truck for hunting, etc. that 's almost 10 years old.  It's very nice though.  With him in construction we wouldn't want him driving anything too nice.  One drive through the woods, mud, etc. would just tear them up anyways.  They are all paid for.  We saved trying to do this and intend to continue this.

Luckily, my husband does a lot of cooking.  I usually do it on the weekends, but since he's home way earlier than me on weeknights he cooks those nights.  You can save a ton by not buying processed, prepared foods.  We don't buy canned goods.  Though it's cheaper, fresh or frozen is better for you and that tops saving a buck.  We eat a lot of venison.  This saves a ton.  We eat well, I have to say.  We're probably not spending as little as we could, but eating healthy is important to us.  We buy generic if we can and get the best buy on what we can.

We watch our bills closely.  If we're not getting a discount a provider promised us than we stay with it until we do.  Every dollar counts.

We have smaller packages when it comes to cable.  We don't get any locals without it, so it's not necessarily an necessity, but just to watch the news here, we need it.  We have the slowest internet, but we do have it.  We have the least expensive package with our phone too.  If you call them you can usually get them to find you a better deal for a limited time.  Then, when that limited time is up you call again.  It's worth $10/month to me.

Save for everything.  Do not buy it unless you have the money.  We even save for those non-monthly bills such as insurance, tracfone, Christmas, taxes, etc.  We have a totally separate account just for these bills and we have the money transferred automatically each month.  Then, when the bills come due the money is always there.  If a bill goes up the interest will usually cover it and we just call the bank to up how much we save every month for the next bill.  We've lived by this for many years and it saves a lot.

We don't buy little things.  We give ourselves an allowance every month.  With this cash, it's all you get to spend on collections at work, dinners out, sodas, coffee, snacks, etc.  This really keeps me from going to vending machines, etc.  We usually take turns with our cash grabbing things off a dollar menu to bring home to eat every once in awhile.  So while we don't get to go "out" to eat, we don't necessarily have to cook on these few nights either.  It's a whole lot cheaper and we just turn it into a carpet picnic with the kids and a movie.  And what I mean by don't buy little things is literally, when you go to Walmart or wherever for groceries; think before you buy.  Really ask yourself, "do I need this?"  I can usually answer no on that trip and if I REALLY want it I can get it another time when I'm sure how bad I want it.

I'd say shop around, but for some families, that's just not possible.  For major purchases yes.  First, have the money to pay for it, then call around to stores that carry what you want as well as checking the internet.  Shop around.  Groceries is something we don't have the luxury of that.  With 5 kids, we do good to remember we need to grocery shop.  We usually do not buy anything at Walmart, weekly, besides groceries though.  The toiletries and other things we want from Walmart goes on a 'monthly list'.  This makes me think as I buy those items as to whether we really want or need them by the time I go as well as making tracking our expenses easier.

Keep track of what you spend.  We do not have debit or ATM cards.  I don't like those.  It's WAY too easy to spend and lose track.  We write very few checks since we only write them if we have to.  We have most bills come directly out of our account.  We do put most purchases on our credit card.  This way we know exactly where the money went, can pay it off monthly and get rewards in cash for doing so.  Well worth it.

Don't have too many cards.  Keep it to the basics.  We have two credits cards.  We have one that we use for pretty much everything and another to use at places that don't take the first.  I do have a Kohls card too.  Only to get those 30% discounts.  Otherwise, I rarely even use it or buy there.

Dental insurance is somewhere we save too.  Our dental insurance would cost more to pay for insurance monthly for our family compared to just paying for our fees out-of-pocket.  My dental offered is not that great, so it's a wise decision for us.  You have to compare things.

Keep your life simple.  The more simple it is the more affordable.  I'm trying to slowly pass these strategies onto my children.  Not because I don't think they'll make more than us, but because I want them to spend what money they do have wisely.  Why waste?  That's pretty much our beliefs....don't waste.

I'll share more as I think of them.

Ha haaaa!

Just two days after saying I didn't have Jaemin's Certificate of Citizenship in-hand, the mail man brought it to me today.  We're DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!



Friday, February 26, 2010

Why is it a right?

I have no major ill feelings against smokers, but please keep your smoke to yourself.  I can't even walk from work to the parking lot without getting behind someone smoking away.  I have to go into a half job to get ahead of them.  At least, then, I'm not down wind.  I breath in every bit they blow out and I can't stand the smell.

Do what you want to your body, but leave mine out of it!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

The fastest adoption from absolute start to absolute finish, in history

I honestly can't imagine that there is an international adoption that's gone any fast than ours has.  It's seriously wild to think about.  Literally, from the second we found out we were adopting (sibling referral call) all the way to Certificate of Citizenship (the absolute last thing you should get) was just under 1 year.

3/12/09 - Our surprise, shocking call that our daughter had a baby brother born just under 6 months earlier.
3/16/09 - Made the decision to proceed after much praying and financial planning.
3/17/09 - Finally found out his name and basic information.
3/24/09 - Mailed application to US agency.
3/29/09 - First home study visit.
4/06/09 - Official referral received and saw his picture.
4/13/09 - Rushed and got our acceptance completed and sent to Korea.
4/15/09 - Legals arrived in the US.
4/17/09 - Filing for I600 (immigration petition and fingerprinting).
4/20/09 - I600 approved.
4/27/09 - Approval arrived at the National Visa Center in the US.
4/29/09 - Approval sent by NVC to Korean embassy in Seoul.
5/07/09 - Visa info packet sent from Korean embassy to Korean agency.
5/22/09 - Travel call!!!
5/23/09 - The girls and I left for Korea with Lois (my friend from work).
5/28/09 - Received Jaemin in Seoul.
5/29/09 - Arrived back in the US and became an family of 7.
6/2009 - First post placement visit.
8/2009 - Second post placement visit.
10/2009 - Third post placement visit.
12/22/2009 - Finalized adoption in US county court.
01/2010 - Applied for Certificate of Citizenship
02/19/2010 - Certificate of Citizenship approved.

The certificate is, as of right now, on it's way to our house!!!  We are completely and ever lovin' done with paperwork!!!!!!  Wahoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Password Potential

Yes, I am still looking at password protecting the blog, which is why I moved it here. If I see that people reading are joining as "FOLLOWERS" and I can 'know' our audience, I may not password protect it. We'll have to see

So if you're reading, come out and introduce yourself; join as a follower on our webpage.


Monday, February 22, 2010

New Home

This is our new home. In a bit, I plan to lock this and password protect so I can know who's checking us out. Just send me a message and I'll be happy to get you the password once I complete this. BTW, the title was thought of by Brian, so talk to him about it. :)

Give me a chance to work on this one a bit and get my links back in it, etc. I've got some clean up to do for sure.


Sunday, February 21, 2010


This describes my two youngest.  At only 4 and 1, they LOVE CMT!  They are HUGE music lovers anyways, but it's funny how much they love CMT and how much they know what's coming on.  Chelsi, of course, can read the name of the song for the video coming up next.  Jaemin can here a chord of a song (for songs he likes) and he knows what's coming.  Right now, Chelsi is anything Taylor Swift (of course), Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban and Darius Rucker.  While they are not her favorite singers, Chelsi AND Jaemin LOVE the Hillbilly Bone and the "dance song" as Chelsi calls it.
Jaemin heard just a couple of notes to Hillbilly Bone this morning and came running to the living room to watch the videos with his hands in the air to do the same motions as Trace Atkins.  My kids don't watch a lot of Dora and Jaemin could care less about Diego or Handy Manny.  He's a music man all the way.  At just under 18 months he tries to sing Hillbilly Bone...and yes you can actually understand him.  One of his first words...  :)

These two live for music.  Chelsi can hear an artist with a new song and if it's one of her faves she can tell you by their voice who is singing it.  She doesn't have a voice, but she has an ear for sure.  Jaemin could just dance 24/7.  He loves to dance and sing.  Nothing makes him happier.

These two have a lot in common!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The littles

Kae was being good (and quiet for once) downstairs, even after the littles woke from their nap.  The big boys were playing in the snow.  So J and Chelsi played with me.

Uh, no, you can't go out.

Girls play with trucks too.

This is what Chels thinks is the peace sign.  :)

Jae and Chels' cute little faces.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

They're always throwing something new at me kids that is.

I was home with the 3 older ones Monday.  I heard fighting in the rec room, so when I went to find out what was going on Cole tells me that Kaelin is arguing with him that the rules didn't apply to her because I didn't say so that day.  Where's the eye rolling emoticon when you need it?  I have told her at least twice in the past month that whether or not we remind her every day of the rules they indeed apply, every day!  I don't know why she tried that one....again.

Then, this morning I was trying to get my stuff together and J got ahold of my cell phone.  I saw him press a button, but he managed to get to my phonebook in it.  He called our friend Jay, but I hit end before he picked up.  I took away the phone and finished getting my lunch together when I saw him get into it again, but this time he dialed 911!  I hit end pretty quickly, but he's really strong and managed to get it out of my hand before I hit it too quickly.  Within seconds they called us back to find out what our emergency was.  Oh my!

I apologized for the 1 year old call and she said it happens often and asked for my name for the report.  About 20 minutes after we left the house Jay called to see what I needed.  Had Chase explain to him (since I was driving) that Jae had called him.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Learning Korean withJaemin

Jaemin decided to play with mommy's Korean translation stickers for her keyboard.    We even got the J right on the nose.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lunar New Year 2010 with Friends

It's not quite the New Year weekend yet, but since it falls on Valentine's Day we chose to have our get together a little early.  As usual, we had great company and loved seeing how much all the kids have grown since last time we saw them.  Cale has grown so much since October.

Here are the kids eating away and then we always take a group pic.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

And now he looks like a big boy

I gave J his first haircut just after his 1st birthday so he would still look like my baby on his birthday.  I barely cut at him the 1st time because a) I didn't want to see those sweet curls go and b) I didn't want him to look like too old of a boy yet.  His hair was growing over his ears again, so I decided it was time for him to look like a big boy.  It's such a darn cut look for him, but I can't believe how old he looks now.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fun at night

Sorry, not more creative than that tonight.  We got, yet another snowfall, so the boys begged us to let them go out after supper to play.  I told them it was too dangerous to sled ride on the hill, but they could build a snowman.  So they went out into the dark and shoveled for a bit and then proceeded to build a snowman.  The snow is a nice, wet, sticky snow so they were really able to make the balls pretty big.  Problem is they couldn't life them on top of one another, so they kind of lost half the snowman's body.   He's still pretty good size, considering.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Our Future

I worry about that so much.  It's normal, as a parent, to worry about the future for the sake of your kids, but I wonder if my worries are typical worries.

At this point, a lot of my worries stem from the state of the economy.  While, I know what is to blame, I wonder if the government has learned anything.  They always seem so business as usual....spend, spend, spend.  They both spend like water on such frivolous things and then take away some needed things.  I'm just so tired of state and federal governements at this point.  They all seem so tainted.  The employees who make the most keep the most and are the most untouched and top heavy.  We continue to support people who can take care of themselves, but don't want to.  Our governments continue to spend  as though the money is someone else's....oh wait it is. .......ours!  I pray that these people in charge of our tax dollars are better at managing their own household money.

Do I think it's an easy chore?  No.  But, if we ran into problems in our household we would have to sell everything or quit spending to take care of it.  We wouldn't just get to keep spending like nothing has changed.  I don't get why they can't treat every dollar they spend as if it's their own hard earned dollar.  I'm so disenchanted and bugged by our government bodies.  Do we ever need change!  And, no I don't mean we need to get a Republican president because Obama's doing such a poor job.  I don't care what party's in charge, it's all those dang people not getting along that are ruining this nation.  They spend more time arguing than sitting down together trying to come up with something great.  If they do come up with something they cram it through in one piece instead of staging things and thinking things through.

I'm done.  I just pray our children and grandchildren don't have to clean up the mess we're probably leaving for them because we can't control ourselves any better than they can.  LEAD BY EXAMPLE!


Monday, February 1, 2010

How did he know?

He was exactly what I needed tonight.  I have been feeling kind of bad about the kind of mom I have been.  I think a lot of working moms go through this from time-to-time.  If you, personally, have never then count yourself lucky.  I've struggled with doing both since I became a mother 13 years ago.  I wish there didn't have to be them or job.  I wish it could be easier for working mothers.  I have it better than some, but I could so spend more time with my babies and would be thrilled.

All day I kept replaying in my mind what I could do to make Jaemin want to sit with me more and hug me more.  I think after one bad night where he's just a busy boy I have trouble letting go and realizing it may have just been one night.  Tonight we were sitting on the floor and he let me hold him more and he gave me nice soft hugs around my neck.  He has also become a HUGE daddy's boy which is great, but leaves mommy a little jealous.

When it got close to bedtime I brought his paci and puppy out, turned off the lights and sat on the couch with him and cradled his sweetness.  He talked to me in that soft, quiet voice for a minute or two and quickly fell asleep.  I had to just hold him a little while longer.  Brian wanted me to put him to bed, but I just couldn't let go of the very thing I'd been needing all day long and maybe more.

How does a little boy know exactly what their mother might need?  I could just sit there and stroke his hair and cradle him all night long.  How blessed I am to be his mother and thank you my little many for giving your mom exactly what she needed tonight.....YOU!