Posted in family, food, kids, money, Parenting, parenting advice, Uncategorized

Kid’s Parties

Every year we are faced with the same dilemma and as our kids get older it becomes more difficult to answer.

We have all heard the stories of a child who invites kids to his party and no one shows up. The child is devastated, the parents hearts break for their child, and society shames the classmates and their parents.

However we have also all been faced with an invitation to a party we cannot attend. My children have received many invitations and we are almost always the ones who do not attend. This is not because my child does not value your child and want to attend. It is simply because my family comes first and our own cohesion and time together trumps time away at a party. I have 4 kids, my husband works many hours in a week. So firstly if all my kids cannot attend I have no other option than to decline the invite, and as I do not expect you to invite my entire brood we cannot attend. Secondly even if the entire family is invited, we have very little time with my husband home for an entire day and so we want to spend time hiking together or enjoying each others company. I want to emphasize that families choosing not to attend your child’s party has nothing to do with not liking your child. But it is not just one party, when you have 4 kids and they all have multiple extracurriculars, and friends we have multiple invites every weekend… not only does that mean we will have ZERO time together, the logistics of driving everyone around, I will not leave my kids alone at a party of children whose parents I wholeheartedly trust, and on top of that it is all of the other people in attendance that I do not know and cannot in good conscience leave my kids alone with. It is not personal against the families and I understand the pressures society puts on family to host elaborate parties with everyone invited.

It is not that we could not come, its that we cannot come. I love and value the relationship that our children hold, but even when gifts are not expected, the pressure to give is still there, and a financial burden that my family cannot take on for multiple children every weekend that are not our own.

Now onto the point of my post, ever since we started having birthdays for our kids, we have made them almost exclusively family only. There have been a couple times were other people were invited but we made sure to invite the entire family because we know how it is, stress of leaving one kid behind, taking time away from your own family, and stress from not knowing who will be there and if you can leave your kid. We also emphasized that NO gifts were to be brought, and only family can give gifts to our kids if they want. I understand and am truly grateful that you would want to give my children gifts, but my children are already entirely blessed with material things, and I would 100% rather you spend that money on your own kids. If we invite you it is solely for the companionship. I used to ask family not to get the kids things, but have since had my eyes opened to the ingratitude that I was modeling for my children. If we have family that wants to bless my kids I will forever more be thankful for that. BUT as a fellow mother, I know what a burden purchasing gifts can put on families, you may not be that family that is struggling, but you may be and I in no way want anyone to feel pressured to struggle financially to keep up with societies pressures.

So once again I will say that we as a family have FAMILY centered birthdays. I do some decorating and themes but nothing over the top. I want my children to know that it is a special day for them and that their family loves them. We have many days when we meet friends to play but this is a special day for family.

So if you are out there struggling with wondering if people with show up, or wondering why. Know that it is not in all likely hood because your child is not loved or valued, it is simply because your kid is not the ONLY kid sending out invites and the rest of us are overwhelmed with the amount of parties. We very rarely attend them. I tell the other moms this in advance, that we love and value your child but simply cannot attend every party, and to be fair we usually wont.

I want to call on society to stop with this unusual practice of birthday parties. We have such busy lives and expecting us to put our own lives on hold to attend another families party is fine if it was only ONE but it never is. WE will never get to spend time as a family or accomplishing things on the weekends if we have to spend them all out of the house. I know your child is the most IMPORTANT to you, and that is how it should be. So why not show them in a special way by doing something special just with them instead of stressing over hosting a party.

My son this year picked out Minecraft so I handmade most of the decorations by sponge painting amazon boxes and I used those for the actual wrapping of the gifts. I made the fondant covered cake. Baking cakes is a past time of mine and I enjoy making these for the kids. The cake is always the big thing of their parties. Fondant is a beast, and I usually won’t mess with it but it turned out pretty good I think. For the small Minecraft element boxes I printed them off in color from and cut them out then laminated them cut them out and taped them with packing tape. My son plays with these all the time with the Minecraft minifigures he has. Our small family event turned out perfect just how it should be.

Posted in debt, family, finance, food, mommy, money, savings, Uncategorized

Meh Burritos

Here is another meh meal. This one is extremely budget friendly. I made double batches and wrap the extra in foil then freeze so when we have a night when we need a quick meal I just take the foil off and toss them in the microwave for 2-3min

In a medium size sauce pan add beans, drained tomatoes and 4oz shredded cheddar cheese, warm up until cheese melted, then add to burrito shells and roll up, top with sour cream and salsa with a side of tortilla chips and corn!

Make sure to check Ibotta for rebates bc chips and generic food commonly on there! I’m the queen of generic and store brand food! In most cases it’s cheaper and tastes the SAME!

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Posted in family, finance, food, money, Parenting, savings, Uncategorized

Meh Meals

So our grocery budgeting has resulted in many, what I affectionately refer to as, meh meals. They are easy inexpensive meals that the kids like and I’m fine with.

Instead of having Uber tasty, yet expensive meals all week we have started having one or two NICE meals while leaving the rest to be budget friendly. I have cut our monthly grocery budget in more than half, including diapers, formula, toilet paper, and dog food. We were regularly spending over 1k/ month. Now we are down to a projected $450/month.

I will be completely transparent, the meats are from our freezer, we’re working our way back to zero there. But in the above picture you will see a bag of meat, this was part of a budgeting moment I got three lbs of ground beef from the meat counter at our local grocery, it was about half the cost as buying three individual lbs. then I got home and divided them into smaller 1/2lb portions sealing them all in i individual baggies and freezing them. you will also notice it seems kind of brown, that is bc I marinated the meat for 4 hours before freezing FLAT. It stores super easy and thaws very fast!

Lawry’s are my favorite marinade but sometimes I will use salad dressing.

Anyways I toss 2lbs white rice in the cooker with 4 cups water and two bay leaves.

Brown the meat and then add in the stir fry starters( this one had noodles which is my least favorite, the better ones are just peppers and onions) but heat it all up and put over rice with some soy or teriyaki sauce and you’re good to go. If you don’t have one of these pampered chef meat mashers GET ONE NOW!

My kids like adding shredded cheese to it.

Like I said meh, it’s cheap, easy, and fast, AND the kids like it which is more than half of the battle these days.

Happy cooking!

Posted in debt, family, finance, money, savings, Uncategorized

debt journey update:

Well here we are less than a week into this journey, and already i can see its going to be harder than i imagined. Dear husband is apparently not as on board as i thought. He has made some purchases that i didnt budget for. Im slightly peeved, because these are HIS student loans and credit card debts. I get that i married him and now they are ours, but i feel his not taking this seriously, even after i showed him the work and budgets and totals that took literally DAYS to figure out.

not only that but i realized that there are somethings i didnt budget for well timing wise. Some of the bills are due sooner than i initially thought so we had to make the payments earlier which is fine but now i have to reconfigure the calendar/paycheck system to make sure everything is paid without going negative in the account. Diapers, toilet paper, and dog food… all the bulk items i get from costco all ended up running out this week, and i didnt plan on purchasing for another two weeks. SO i am hard at work moving things around.

on top of this i want to reference the previous debt post . where we are putting quite a bit away for savings. This is for school and travel expenses, so while we will be saving, it is more a downpayment for these activities. this coming weekend will be the first planned trip we have, and our first withdrawl from the travel savings, it is a small weekend trip to canoe and camp, it will be a relatively small amount we have to take out compared to what we have put away. we need gas, kids paddles, some food (which i already paid for most of it in last weeks grocery bueget, to save both time and the clicklist charge). while i went over my weekly budget amount by spending over last weekend, i am under for the month still. This is a learning process.

The second part being schooling. we homeschool using a combination of Classical Conversations, local CO-Ops, and AmblesideOnline. We are Charlotte Mason-ish. I think the classical model definitely has benefits but ultimately we chose to homeschool because of the freedom it allows us. We do not have to choose just one curriculum, we dont have to use the FULL curriculum. but back to savings… this week will be our tuition payment, (we have been putting into this savings account before this month). it is a large cost all at once. $1056 in one gut check to the savings account. on top of that we begin community day in two weeks and i have to order the rest of year 1 ambleside books, as well as our materials for classical conversations (CC), this year we will only be purchasing the audio cd, and the old world echos. last year we purchased the curriculum book for foundations and wont need to spend as much this year. The ambleside books we felt are a great addition to the cc materials and so we will be using them more as supplemental than base curriculum.

In addition we spoke with our tax accountant this week and she let us know that we would be getting a federal refund, this is maybe the first time that has happened for us. We try to not loan the government money interest free, so our dependents and withholdings have always been set so that we owe about $500/year give or take which is REALLY close. But filed an extension this year as we didnt yet have our youngest SS# at tax filing time. We also didnt adjust our withholdings after our son was born last year. so we will have a little extra money to put into the savings account than originally planned. This is not something we had anticipated but we are glad to be able to have the cushion.

Lastly we have decided to downside our fleet. hubs listed two of our vehicles this weekend, to hopefully be able to purchase cash a new to us vehicle, but cut down on insurance payments and low mpg of the current vehicles. the remainder of the cash will also go into savings. these additional savings contributions go into our long term savings account. any time the savings account reaches 3k we bump everything over 2k into long term savings. our short term “variable” expenses of travel, car repair, homeschool costs, come from the main savings, but frequently we have more time between those costs so we bump it over into long term savings for the kids college fund.

Also for grocery/shopping I JUST signed back up for Ibotta, I’ve used it in the past, they say it’s money back but for me it’s more just coupons. I love using all the store coupons, I’m not a pro by any means but I do the few store apps if it’s something I’m already buying I figure cuts down on bills a little. try it out bc literally just about anyplace you buy stuff there is some kind of reward in Ibotta.

so there is this weeks update on the savings/debt journey. I will update again after these expenses come out and update the timeline for debt. I do not think it will be altering much.