Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What I bought - Week 3

Well, this was the worst week by far. I see a growing trend....it seems to be getting worse by the week. My realization is that it is impossible to not spend money.

I am consciously trying to only buy the things I need, but I tend to throw that out the window for convenience. Living a minimalistic lifestyle seems almost impossible if you are constantly filling your days with stuff to do.

This upcoming week, my goal is to try and SLOW DOWN. There isn't a need for such a hectic life. I need more motivation to make more food at home and eat lunch at my desk!

groceries - many needed items - $140

Alamo Drafthouse
dinner and a movie (Nick and Norah...was so cute) - $41

gas for Eric's car - $43

needed office supplies - $10

Sam's Club
baby formula, bulk groceries and frozen foods - $182

dinner for the fam - $5
I had a $25 gift card, won that day from a work party

Sweetberry Farms
Took the kids to the pumpkin farm for horse rides, corn maze, and pumpkin painting - $20

Austin American Statesman (newspaper)
A guy came by the house selling the paper, since I need the Sunday paper for coupons, I decided to subscribe for a year - $60

Jo-Ann Fabrics
bought a new sewing machine -$216
the belt on my old one needed replacing. It's old and hard to find, so I decided to buy a new machine since they were on sale and I needed to finish Lauren's costume quick!

Linens 'N Things
needed to buy "Fridge It" for my car (had 20% off coupon) - $14
this needs explanation: So I went to the grocery store last week and bought milk. Eric was helping me unload the groceries from my car and there was a whole bunch of baby clothes and crap from the consignment sale that I hadn't taken out. Well, a jug of milk somehow slid under all those clothes and blankets and he thought he grabbed everything. I assumed he grabbed the milk and put it in the garage fridge (I always buy 2 and put one out in the garage). So the entire week went buy and I didn't notice it missing. We carpool and so I didn't drive my car that week. When I went to grab something from my car it stunk so badly. Eric found the root of the smell and it was the milk that had gone sour in the car. it also leaked onto the baseboard of the trunk. So in order to get the smell out of the car I washed the baseboard as much as I could, but it still stunk. So I bought some Fridge It to try and get rid of the stinky smell.

Mighty Fine (restaurant)
had lunch with Eric - $16

foundation - $25
darn it! I couldn't go one month without hitting the MAC makeup counter. I thought I could, but I was weak. I needed to change my foundation because it was too orange and I couldn't stand it!

Wants: $681
Needs: $435 (I counted the paper as a need...for the coupons)

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60-60: The Garage Door

My 60-60 experiment has been keeping me in touch with God everyday. I am beginning to feel his presence around me constantly. This is a good thing because it means that I am finally opening my eyes to what has been there this whole time. I have been doing well with the experiment and have been taking the time every 60 minutes to just meet with him and realize his presence. I find myself doing it more now than just every 60 minutes.

Crazy things are starting to happen. It's almost as if his will has been there the entire time but there has been a wall between me and what has been waiting out there for me the whole time. The second that I let go, and let God take control, was when this wall seemed to lift up...kinda like a garage door.

Opportunities have presented themselves to me, things have been happening that are out of my control and I just know it's God. Skeptics would tend to believe that the events happening in my life are merely coincidence and that they just "happened" at the same time that I chose to open my heart to God. But those of us that follow Christ and understand God's desire for us, and his longing to give us the desires of our heart, know that it's not coincidence...it's God.

So much has happened in just this one week and all of it has been nothing but good....At the beginning of the book, it asks you to take a piece of paper and list ALL the things you long for in life. Whether it's a good desire or not, you just list every desire of your heart. Then it asks you to circle the three to five most important things on that list.

I was amazed yesterday when I took that list out and looked over it again (cuz i have poor memory sometimes). I was surprised to find that God already met me on 3 out of the 4 things I circled (I know...all in one week!). It only shows me that he was there the whole time willing to give me what I desired the most, but was waiting for me to just take a leap of faith and trust him. The fourth thing I had listed will be met too, but it will take some work on my part and finishing the book to really see that one come to pass.

So my encouragement for this week is to remind you that God is right there. He's is humble and loving and just waiting for us to make to the first move. If you feel like you keep hitting a roadblock, then whip out your garage door opener and open the door. Once you do that and finally realize that you can't do things on your own...God will show you the desires of your heart. What I have learned so far from this book is that God wants your love, but he can't force it on you. You have to make the choice to love him too. We can say that we love him and that we are willing to follow the path he has chosen for us...but to actually blindly take that leap is hard for us sometimes. Let's stop thinking about it and really commit.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What I bought - Week 2

Sadly, I didn't do so well this week. I had anticipated spending less this week as a result of spending so much last week...and because I set a goal for myself. This anti-consumer challenge is much harder than I expected.

I am looking back on the things I spent my money on and trying to understand what happened. It looks like I ate out alot more this week than last week.

Maybe I am not considering "food" as a consumer-related product. I had alot of cravings, social events, and was on the go more.

Exxon Mobile
coffee (got a free water with purchase) - $1.50

Kerby Lane (restaurant)
was craving pumpkin pancakes, so went to lunch with Eric - $25 (for both) only $7 for myself

Thrift Store
My co-worker took me to this amazing thrift store. I bought a purse and a blouse :(
hey, it's recycling right?- $14

Twin Creeks CC
Lauren attended "Kids Movie Night" at the club. We had dinner and drinks with some friends during that time. They put the charges on their member number, but we still participated...so I am counting it. $30 food/drinks, $15 Lauren's activity - $45 total

Home Depot
Eric bought some screws for the fence - $10

They opened up a Buffalo Wild Wings in Cedar Park! We were dying to get some since we haven't had it in over a year and a half! - $24

Freebirds (restaurant)
running errands during lunch - $7

Jo-Ann Fabrics

need supplies for Lauren's Minnie mouse gloves and ears - $14


gas for car (I actually paid $2.99/gal can you believe it! Something positive has come out of this whole market crash) - $40

groceries (mostly meats, dairy, bathroom supplies) - $140
got two free movie tickets as a result of some shampoo and toothpaste I bought (and actually needed)!

Exxon Mobile
coffee (plus free bottle of water) - $1.50

breakfast (forgot my lunch that day and wasn't going to have time to go out to lunch)- $4

BW3's (restaurant)
Eric and I went to lunch. It was "Wings Tuesday" so 35-cent wings! - $19 for both

Wants: $137
Needs: $204

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Monday, October 13, 2008

60-60 Experiment

I am following this 8-week series at church called Soul Revolution and the 60-60 Experiment. I started a week late because my mom came to visit me the weekend before last and I missed church. Well, we went this weekend and I am beginning my journey with this 60-60 Experiment and I have to say it's been very powerful even in the 1 day that I have been doing it.

60-60 is a commitment to 60 days of trying to stay in continuous, honest conversation with God and willing to do His will at every moment in my life. The goal is to stay consciously aware that God is with you at all times and desires to have a loving and trusting relationship with you. So every 60 minutes for 60 days, I stop and think about God. Knowing He is with me at that moment and realizing that He desires to give me good things and a satisfying life.

The funny part of the whole experiment is they gave me a timer to keep me reminded to do this. I chose the carabiner with a timer instead of the watch, cuz i don't like wearing watches much. So every 60 minutes this timer goes off (really loudly) and I stop what I am doing to talk to God. Seems silly that you need an alarm to remind you to talk to God, doesn't it???

Not at all! This thing is getting me to talk to Him more than ever. I guess I never realized it until now, but I have been too busy for God. I rarely take the time to talk to him throughout my hectic day. My normal relationship is usually talking to him at the end of the day when I am just about to go to sleep...I lay my head down, get cozy under my covers, close my eyes, start to pray, and usually pass out before I can get to "Amen."

For the last 10 years I have filled my life with more things than I can handle, complained about how busy I am, and how stressful my life can be at times, and spend most of my evenings exhausted. Why? Why do I do these things? Well, it's because I want to live the best possible life I can. I keep thinking I need more to be satisfied. And for some reason, it's never enough. When Eric was getting out of the military, we lived on his $19K/year salary. We thought, "wow! if he could just get a job making $30K/year we would be living large!" Well, that came and went and we laugh now at how much money we thought that was...and laugh even more because we thought that much would make us happy and give us everything we ever wanted and more. Yea, I can hear you chuckling too!

I know what you are thinking...."Well, you just piled on another commitment!" This is different though, I am taking a step of faith and trusting that God will show me what things I REALLY need to be doing instead of doing the things I THINK I need to be doing. I kinda like talking to God throughout the day cuz I already feel my relationship is getting stronger. Sunday was a great day for me...and would you believe that I actually felt satisfied at the end of the day. Maybe this 60-60 thing is working for me already! I will keep you posted on my path to faith and my willingness to listen....


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What I have bought - Week 1

You will be seeing weekly updates about what I have been spending my money on and what big business I am sadly supporting...

This also give me a visual insight to how much I am spending and on what...I am being completely honest with you guys (and myself) and putting every penny down! We may both be shocked :)


Batteries, Safety Pins, zip ties - $12

Whole Foods

Groceries (salmon, baby veggies, hummus, teriyaki sauce) - $40

Bone Daddy's
It was a co-worker's bday. Split a meal with a friend - $11

Chick-Fil A (fast food)

It was the last day to use my promo coupon for 24 nuggets. So I used that for dinner (bought fries only) - $5


Dog Food for Dax - $43

7-11 (convenient store)
Slurpee - $2

Saturday: My mother came into town. She's a total over-consumer, so I got sucked into spending money, but it was not mine..it was hers. Still I feel I have to annotate the expenses, even though it wasn't my money, because I participated in the purchases.

Babies R Us
Bottles for Kaeden and Booster seat for LT - $ 93

Regal Cinemas
Lauren and Kaeden's first movie (Igor) - $30

Exxon Mobile
Newspaper (for coupons) - $1.60

Whataburger (fast food)
Drink and FF - $3

I have to explain this one...So I put a bunch of LT's clothes in a consignment sale over the weekend. I was supposed to pick up my leftover stuff at 6:45pm. I got there at 6:40 and they told me to turn around and come back in 5 mins. I didn't want to just drive around so I went across the street to get some fries and a drink...which took 5 minutes exactly! Although I spent 3 bucks on fast food, I made $315 by consigning all of LT's old clothes. Not bad, huh!? Good thing about it all is that LT's clothes are being re-used instead of just sitting in a closet taking up space.

Shipping costs for returning a router - $12

Sonic (fast food)
2 corndogs and a diet cherry limeade (forgot my lunch...yea, this was real healthy ha!) - $2

HEB (supermarket)
Groceries (fruits, veggies, and turkey to make Kaeden's baby food; meat; cheese; yogurt; milk) - $60

YAY! My first day of not spending money!!!!
no biz
no items

The final tally for Week One:
Needs: $261.60
Waste: $ 53

So it looks like the total for needs is much higher than expected. That's only because we had to buy another carseat for Lauren so Kaeden could have hers. I also spent a lot at Whole Foods, when I could have gotten those groceries cheaper elsewhere I am sure. Dax had dog food and that's a monthly expense, not weekly (so it added to my total). My waste amount doesn't seem that bad, but it actually is!! I would like to try and cut that down to $25 next week, which will be my goal.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Finished My First Garment!

After months of sewing this and that...I finally completed my first garment. It was a traditional Korean dress called a Hanbok. Lauren was participating in a parade called "Celebrating Cultures." Her school asked all the kids to dress up in something representative of their heritage and march around the parking lot singing "It's a small World." It was a good excuse for me to show her that she's got Korean in her blood, even if it is only 1/4.

I wanted to buy her an original Hanbok, but could not find any in the area. I spoke with my mom to see if she could get her one. She knew where to get some, but they were all about $90-$120!! I told her absolutely not! I don't want to spend that much money on something she's only going to wear for 15 minutes and march around a parking lot wearing! This was a perfect opportunity to make one myself!

It took me 5 days to make this dress and I feel that I did a very good job at replicating the authenticity. I chose bright satin fabrics for the dress. The chogori (jacket) was light pink with maroon trim on the collar and sleeves. The chima (dress) and the goreaum (sash that ties the jacket) were the matching maroon color.

I researched the dress as much as I could online, going through lots of images and youtube videos. I finally understood how the dress was made up and what important features of the dress needed to be included. I crafted the dress without any patterns, totally free-hand. I did a few fittings with Lauren to get her sizing down for the length of the dress and jacket. Luckily, I had been working on a minnie mouse costume for Lauren prior to this project. I had only completed the bodice of the costume, but that helped me out with assembling the sleeves and lining for the jacket.

It turned out very nice! My mother thought I did a fantastic job and she was really impressed when she saw the dress in person. She said it was very authentic. I pointed out some minor flaws, but she said that she and her friends were very impressed with the craftsmanship! The best part of the whole thing was that it only cost me $25 in fabric and notions to make the dress!!


Friday, October 03, 2008

Confirmation of my cause

So I was watching some of my backlogged Oprah shows on my DVR last night because my usual Thursday shows were bummped (VP debate). I ended up watching Oprah's "Recession" show with guest Suze Orman. I don't know if you guys watched it, but it just further confirmed my cause to go Anti-Consumerist this month.

She came on and explained how the recession was worse than ever (even the great depression). And she went onto talk about how to recession-proof your family. Wouldn't you know it...the biggest way to save yourself from being affected by this recession and what is happening to this market is to...STOP SPENDING MONEY.

Suze explained how the economy fell apart and what the key factors were in contributing to this downfall. One of the points she made was that companies made money by selling investments (like mortgages and credit cards) to people who couldn't afford it. People who wanted to live in a facade of having a big home, new cars, and all these "things" they needed when they truly couldn't afford them. The big companies that lent out the money were just trying to make more money for themselves -- to pay themselves more compensation. You see...it's all about money and people wanting to make more money so they stick it to the consumer...and look at us now -- the people who are suffering the most are The People, you and me!

Anyway, the solution was to stop spending...and stop putting things on credit. Basically, don't buy what you can't afford just to live a life you think you need. This facade that we are all living in is truly what is causing this collapse.

To read more about the show, click here. It's a long read, but really eye-opening. If you can get a hold of the show, it's better to just watch it :)

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hearting my old iPhone :(

Picture this...it's Friday afternoon, the weather is perfect and it's the end of the day. I see my neighbor's kids across the street playing on their playscape. So I look to Lauren and ask "Do you wanna go play with the kids?" Of course she says "YES!" with so much excitement. So I pour myself a drink (vodka and diet coke) and we head out across the street.

The kids are playing, I am enjoying my beverage and I am sitting in a lawn chair in my neighbor's backyard. I am wearing these shorts and sitting in a low chair, both of which keep making my phone fall out of my pocket. So I set the phone in my lap after the 3rd fall. My neighbor's adorable little daughter, who would be turning 2 that Sunday, spots my phone and says "Phone?" and I say, "Yes! That is my phone. Good girl!" So it drops out of my lap again and she proceeds to pick it up to give it to me.

I reach out my hand to accept the phone from her...and we somehow just don't make the hand-off...instantly flashbacks of the U.S. Olympic relay runners dropping the baton flash in my head (okay, not really...just thought that would make the story more interesting) and in slow motion....I see the phone dropping out of our hands and headed straight for my drink.

The phone doesn't clip the rim of the glass, it doesn't land flat on top of the cup, it doesn't just barely miss the cup. Instead it falls so perfectly into my small plastic cup and becomes totally submerged in Vodka and Diet Coke. So perfectly that I couldn't have even dropped it that perfectly if I tried!

I immediately push the cup over to save my phone, run inside my neighbor's house to try and dry my phone. I gather up my things and Lauren and we run back to the house where I proceed to rip the phone open. I only see a few drops of liquid inside the phone. As I am doing this, I see the screen turn white and there are streaks running down the LCD. HORROR!!!!!

I do everything I possibly can to save this phone. I dry every bit of moisture I can find, I put the hair dryer to the electronic components, and I drop it into a bag of rice the entire weekend.

Slowly, the phone comes back to life on Saturday morning. I am able to get the screen to come back up (even tho it still has streaks) and I am able to get a connection to the wireless box. But it still acting funny...rebooting itself and flashing on and off.

I get the fantastic idea to take it to the Apple store to see if they can do something about it. Of course, the iPhone has a submersion tab inside the iPhone that turns pink when it has been touched by liquid. So I remove that tab and replace it with a brand new white sticker that looks exactly like the last one. I put all the pieces back together and I have to say it takes a VERY steady hand to put all those tiny screws back in place. I take it down to the Apple Store and proceed to tell them this story about how it got really hot and overheated..killing my screen and not recognizing the SIM card. I asked for them to replace it, but lo...it was 2 months past the 1-year warranty and I had not gotten the apple care extended warranty. DRATS!!!!

------- Warning: iPhone Rant about to begin. -------
If you don't want to hear my whining move onto the next section

So what could I do??? They said I could send it in for Apple to repair or replace, but that was going to cost me $199. OR I could get the new iPhone 3G for...you guessed it! $199. First of all, it completely upset me that the Apple store would not fix my phone even tho it was not my fault (let's just assume my phone really didn't get dropped in a diet coke and start thinking if the phone really truly blew up on it's own). I pay $600 the day it comes out and the phone blows up 2 months after the limited warranty and they are not going to replace it or even repair it for a minimal cost...they are going to charge the EXACT same price as the new phone. Does anyone feel like this is extortion???

On top of that....I cannot just put my old SIM card into the new phone. I have to actually sign up for ANOTHER 2 year agreement with AT&T. Is this sounding like more extortion??????

They wouldn't even let him walk out of the building without activating it right there in the store. Also, not only do I have to start a new plan with AT&T, but it's going to start costing me $30 MORE a month for my new plan...because of the new 3G service. I feel like I am being raped here!

You know what's going on here don't you??? Apple is not letting anyone take the phones without activating them because it's so easy to unlock the iPhone now. Everyone is doing it. Heck, I saw a guy on Craigslist offering to unlock phones for $25. The unlocked phone will allow you to use your iphone on any network besides AT&T. So in order to stop the madness, AT&T and Apple have devised this foolproof plan. Well, here's what upsets me the most. So I buy the phone, I start my plan over, and I even pay more for it....a month from now (you wait and see) they are going to start selling iPhones for every cell carrier because they can't control people getting these phones and unlocking them.

--------- RANT COMPLETE ----------

Okay...so that's my rant about Apple and AT&T and how they are completely extorting their customers....let's get back to my story.

So I walk out of the Apple store, refusing to buy into the new iPhone because I don't like the whole scam and frankly I am not sure I would want another iPhone. I do some research about what other phones I could get...possibly thinking about a blackberry or some other smart phone. After tons of research and pricing I found that any other phone is going to cost more than $200. I could get a deal on the phone for $130, but then I have to start my contract all over with them again...which is what I was trying to avoid.

I looked on Craigslist and tried to find a used one, but people were still selling them for $170 and $200. So I figured I might as well just get the dang iPhone.

So I broke down and got a new Phone on Tuesday. I miss my old phone and wished that this had never happened. I would be completely happy with my phone and still be on my original contract. I took the phone to my work and the guys in manufacturing cooked it in the component oven for a while to see if any moisture was being extracted from the board. It was completely dry, which means I did a great job of saving the phone. It still seems a little quirky to me tho...so I am going to wait and see if there is a full recovery.

If it happens that I can save old iPhone...then I am going to screw the system man! I am going to unlock the phone and sell it online for $400 and recoup the cost of what Apple and AT&T tried to stick me with!! Go me!!

Anti-Consumerism Month

This month I have self-announced "Anti-consumerism Month". For the entire month of October, I am going to be a minimalist. I will buy groceries, gas, and cloth to make clothes...but I am protesting any major consumer purchases.

For those of you that read my iphone post...you will know that I grudgingly had to make a large purchase and that was my LAST ONE!

I know. You are thinking...what's she doing? Well, I have finally realized that I don't want to be an over-consumer. I have been buying stuff left and right because I feel I needed it or wanted it. I am wastefully spending money on stuff I don't really need. Yes, I have watched a few Oprah shows that have opened my eyes to what is going on out there in this world today (the Freegan episode, and the wasteful family episode)... But for me, I finally just realized that I waste money on stupid stuff....$200 jeans, $300 purses, fast-food/restaurants, knick knacks for the house, over-priced coffees, tons of toys and clothes for my kids (that don't ever even play with them or wear them).

For those of you that know me well, I have been trying to lead this minimalistic lifestyle for sometime now. However, I don't think I am being extreme enough. So this is my one month to try and really DO IT! With the holidays coming around the corner, it will give me fresh insight as to what the holidays really mean...it's not about buying present for everyone...it's about caring for people and loving them. (So for those of you that might be receiving presents this year, it will most likely be hand-made. I have already arranged for card-exchange with some of you. Where we agreed not to buy any presents, but just send cards).

So here's where I outline what I can/cannot buy:

I will not be making any purchases that are not absolutely necessary for myself and my family. Groceries, gas, utility bills of course are on my "can buy" list. I am even going to go as far as trying not to buy any packaged food items. I wanna keep it fresh to just meat, veggies, fruits, and breads. So no snacks or anything that is sold via commercial. I can't help but buy milk and orange juice and formula and stuff. I am also not going to eat fast food or dine at restaurants, as much as I can help it.

No clothes, shoes, stuff for my hair, expensive MAC makeup (or any makeup at all...I have enough to last me for a month!), electronics, dvd's, etc. Anything that can be in a commercial...I am forbidding.

So if you have any questions about my list or have any suggestions...or simply want to join me in my quest...feel free to comment!!

I will be posting weekly updates on what I have spent my money on for that week, just to keep me accountable...and also for your viewing pleasure!! So start subscribing to my post (click here) and you will get updates when I post new blogs!


The results are IN!

I see the survey results and it looks like you guys still check my blog often enough to want some new material. Therefore, I am going to give it to you! Come back often, leave comments and never think I am crazy!