Friday, March 13

IRL: Month Two

As you might know, in January my husband and I began our journey into the world of budget spending, organizing and meal planning in the quest to better our lives and secure our future! That sounded weird... true, but weird. In a quest to have money in the bank and clean floors? That sounds better.

With March about to bloom (hopefully) I wanted to recap our second month of this project and share a bit about what we're learning.

  • Budgeting Apps can be tricky. We've been using Better Haves (a budgeting app for couples, we're both on android). Better Haves is based on the envelope system, but unlike in real life, you can go over your allotted amount and into negative numbers and when you do, there is no prompt to transfer money from other envelopes to cover your negative balance SO we've ended up over $200 in one category but still showing we have positive numbers in other categories. This didn't really click for me until I started wondering why I had no money in my account but the app says I should still have $100 for groceries. Duh, Kaitlyn, you spent your grocery money on clothes you idiot. SO, in conclusion, it doesn't work if you're not actually sitting down with the app and balancing it frequently to make sure you're using it correctly. Lesson learned. 
  • Websites that auto-fill your Visa information are the devil. Nine times out of ten if I have to reach for my Visa and fish it out of my wallet and type it all in I will decide not to make the purchase. If my Visa number is auto-filled it's too easy to spend mindlessly! I'm removing my Visa number from everywhere I shop online.
  • Emails about clothing sales are also the spending devil. I blew my monthly clothes budget out of the water in February and I definitely blame sale emails. I get it in my head I need to buy all the things because of the great deals, but it all adds up. Of course I don't want to get rid of these emails completely, when I am in the market for something it pays to know what's on sale, but I needed to do something to keep myself from spending all the time. I recently discovered that in outlook (Hotmail) you can right click on an email sender and create a "rule" for all emails from that sender. I went through my emails and created rules for all of the places I get subscriber coupons (GAP is my biggest weakness because they have sales basically every week). From now on, GAP and JCrew and ASOS emails will automatically go into a separate folder so I won't see them in my inbox. That way, if I'm shopping for something I can go to that folder and see if there are any sales, but I won't be tempted to spend money if I'm not specifically shopping for clothes. 
Zucchini cakes with salad and beans.
  • Meal planning can be hard. We struggled occasionally with meal planning, mostly because my up and down battle with creativity. An extra challenge for us is that our weekly game night with friends has recently added a few members, thus increasing the cost of food and requiring me to find a new host of recipes to feed more people. My biggest resource for meal planning is pinterest of course, and I find that ignoring the fancy recipes on pinterest and focusing more on easy, common ingredients is helping me cook affordable meals all week. 
  • On that note, my biggest discovery - cauliflower. Cauliflower is crazy versatile! I have made pan fried cauliflower 'nuggets', butter 'chicken' cauliflower, and whole roasted cauliflower. Still want to try cauliflower crust pizza, and cauliflower rice. Also awesome and versatile? Zucchini. I've been making a lot of zucchini cakes (like crab cakes, not like chocolate cake) and serving them with sour cream and veggies. I've also been keeping pizza crusts frozen, and assembling stir fry beef in portioned bags with sauce at the beginning of the month. I can get 2-4 stir fry's out of one package of beef strips, and I can make a pizza out of what ever is in the fridge if I'm having a lazy night. Recently made beet and walnut pesto to use as a pizza base with Kale and sausage and it blew me away. So good! 
Progress being made on my office/den.
  • As for organizing, I've been continuing to do my best to follow Marie Kondo's method from "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up". Not all of her tips have worked for me, but many of them are indeed life changing. So far the best tips from her book have been:
    • Creating a central pile of all storage baskets collected during cleaning. All of my baskets and bins are sitting together in a pile waiting to find homes and as I see a need, I can put them to good use. It's tempting to use storage bins everywhere and for everything but I've certainly found that they become a hiding place for clutter, so thinking really hard about how to use them is making my space more organized. 
    • Purging first. I'm currently working on my office/den and the first step was purging all the clutter. During this process, my closet, desk and dresser sat empty. With everything out in the open I was able to get rid of the maximum amount of clutter. Once I knew what I was keeping, I had to think very long and hard about how I wanted to use these storage places for maximum utility. Only then did I start filling these storage areas back up. This way, everything has a real designated place and clutter doesn't continue to pile up.
    • Folding. I cannot tell you how much I love Marie Kondos folding method! It truly does make folding and putting away laundry a more joyous task. I actually enjoy filing my husbands shirts (and underwear, mens underwear folds up so nicely! Haha). I used to make him put away all his own laundry but seriously, we're both so much more organized when I do it. 
    • What brings you joy? One of the things I've done during this time of organizing is purge a lot of books. I love books, I love to read, but honestly I didn't get a lot of joy from looking at all the books we owned. In most cases, I prefer to have my books on my Kobo for easy reading and storing. One thing that we have way too many of is board games, and we never had a good way to sore them so I purged a lot of books from our living room and stored our board games in plain sight on our book cases. Honestly, board games are not the most fun to look at. They aren't calming or pretty, but we get a lot of joy and we spend so much time enjoying them with friends and family that I prefer to have bookcases overflowing with board games then books I read once a year or read once and forgot about. Bonus: when we're asking guests what they want to play they can see our collection now at a glance.
    • On that note, Nick has been cleaning his den and organizing as I do the rest of the house and the other day he came to me with a painting I did for him when we were dating. "See, I told you I didn't lose it!". If this was the only result of all of our hard work I would still be so so grateful. Having that precious artwork I made with my own hands, and find so much joy in viewing, is what organizing is about, no?

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