Enlightened by the Kardashians


What the fork! I might have to give up on achieving $15k by New Year’s Eve. This thought came to me while watching The Kardashians. Reality TV brings about enlightenment!

Image from dailymail.co.uk

First, it’s not realistic at this point unless I won the Lotto that I don’t bet on. It’s $5.5k away and we only have this and next month to come up with that. Who am I kidding? Secondly, it just doesn’t look achievable says our monthly budget. Do you see what I’m saying?

Maybe, just maybe, we could make it by February.

We don’t have a set budget on Christmas gifts yet. J and I don’t really give Christmas gifts. We like to give gifts for some other reason and not just because it’s a holiday. Though Christmas is my favorite holiday, I don’t completely associate it with receiving presents. I LOVE giving presents, but I think I’m going to be a bit of a Grinch this year. We’ll see. I tend to change my mind about being stingy on Christmas anyway. 🙂

Having no budget for gifts, we could d end up pushing the projected date of our emergency fund. It could set us back to March. Eep! Jon, if you’re reading this please just limit your present to that Nikon camera we saw on TV tonight with Ashton Kutcher replacing the lens.

When I set the goal to $15k, I thought about how a bit steep that was for a start. $10k seemed more SMART, but I got greedy. If I lower the goal now I’d feel such a fake. My pride is at stake here! It would be giving in to the whims and wants we gladly splurged on. Uurgh. Why is life so difficult sometimes?

If I set a donation link on this page, would you donate $2 to help fund our savings? Please? I promise to acknowledge you, guys! You’d be helping me achieve a dream.

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Re-using coffee holders


I like to recycle and re-use things. I don’t know when it started because despite growing up with parents who re-use everything including foil, it didn’t come natural to me.

Maybe it was feeling bad about the coffee holder being chucked into the recycle bin that did it. Though recycling is good for the planet, it still requires energy and effort to be recycled, right?

I’m a regular at a café close to my toddler’s pre-school. Once I told the owner that I re-use coffee holders, she said “I love you for that!”.

Imagine if ALL take-out coffee drinkers re-use their coffee holders, a small effort could:

– save businesses money
– less use of energy and other resources to recycle paper
– keep cost down for businesses and the government, and for us coffee lovers

It was a conscious effort at first but now it comes natural to me. I keep 2 coffee holders in my bag if one of them breaks and I’m stuck with a hot cuppa.

My mom re-uses old tattered clothes as dish rags. My dad re-used wood and nails when he and mom decided to build their retirement house — a project that they managed themselves. When finished building, they gave away wood. They also bought old iron gates from a junk yard and re-designed and painted them to look different and new.

What do you re-use?

One week of no dining out or buying take-outs


I can’t write enough about how pleased I am about this progress. I like to cook, it’s therapeutic, but there were days that I just can’t be bothered. I know that there WILL be days that I won’t be bothered cooking, and I’m hoping that those will be few and far in between. I think I got my cooking groove back.

Every day since last weekend, I have reflected on the reasons and circumstances why we ate in. I can account the change to planning better and having the determination to achieve our $15k emergency fund goal ASAP!

We have a plan to visit my family in Christmas 2012 and to save money on airfare, we HAVE to buy them in summer. This plan is budgeted for (at a minimum the budget can afford at $50) but because it depends on the completion of the $15k, it only has $100. 😦 We need at least $6k by August for airfare. That’s why I’m in a hurry to reach $15k to give us breathing room while saving for $6k. Just so you know, $6k is a liberal budget. I over-budget for things because over time I realized that there are things I just have no control over.

So far, we have spent $170 on groceries with some of the food bought still waiting to be cooked. Yesterday I cooked 2 entrees that will last us until Tuesday night I bet. 🙂 The good thing about Asian food is that the older they get, the better they taste. 🙂 I’m on a cooking roll and they are all delicious!

It’s true that budgeting, and anything money-related, is psychological. I don’t know why I didn’t feel like having Sunday brunch in a café when I typically think about it from Saturday afternoon. The house felt such a cozy place to be in yesterday morning. Our toddler went to a playdate for the most part of the afternoon, and J and I decided to watch pay-per-view movie. Instead of spending $20+ (not including gas, parking, and who knows what), we only spent $5. It just felt right to be home yesterday, but we had talked about going to a movie theater all week. We just decided on it an hour before play date started.

We’re going camping this weekend. We’ll sleep in a yurt. I’m actually looking forward to it and I’m not the camping type. We’ll be spending 3 nights in it and we’ll obviously need to pack food to cook and eat. That should be fun! I’ll try to remember to post pictures of camping when we get back. Below are links to very informative videos that even kids should watch I think.

Funny SNL folks.

Have a lovely week!

I have a quirk.


I have a…not sure what to call it, but I think it’s a compulsion. My husband thinks it’s plain ghetto compulsion, but whatever.

When I buy food or coffee, I have to pull out 3 napkins though I only use one. I put the rest in my purse/bag and when I get home pile them up in a drawer in the kitchen. When I clean the counter, instead of using paper towels or dish towel I use them.

I don’t feel guilty doing this. I don’t think it’s taking more than I should from businesses either. I’ve seen plenty of people taking out napkins WAY more than they need and throw them all after eating. I make sure the unused napkins have use. Also, they go straight to the compost bin after I use them. It’s much more environment-conscious that way.

So that’s my quirk.

My toddler and his piggy bank


I took my toddler to watch Puss in Boots for the first time last weekend. The dark theatre proved to be a good place for imagination. Needless to say, he probably watched half of it with full attention and half imagining he was in a cave or something like it that I couldn’t understand.

Anyway, after that I decided to take him to the mall across the road. My intention was to get him a pair of exercise pants for gym class. I got his attention diverted to going to the ice skating rink after seeing a toy shop as soon as we stepped in. I’m not familiar with the malls here yet because we hardly go to them, otherwise I would’ve chosen a different entrance believe me. Walking past a few more shops and he spotted a toy from RadioShack, which was right next to the photo shop I realized I needed to go to. I still managed to divert his attention but he didn’t forget! After getting the printed photo (for him to take to school), he had me running after him as he ran back to RadioShack.

Strategically, one of the shop employees approached us, and with my toddler starting to get grumpy I gave in and bought the remote control truck for $10.98. Of course with all the enthusiasm playing with it at home, it was easy to justify that purchase. At that time, though, my first reaction was no because I tend to say no when it comes to unplanned toy purchases.

But I tell you that I talked him into paying me back using his piggy bank money. I don’t feel bad about this, but I also didn’t’ take the money out just yet. He may not have plenty of toys like my friends’ kids do, but he has more than enough to entertain himself without sacrificing creativity.

As early as 3 years old, he was introduced to saving. He’s nearing 4 now. Everytime he sees coins lying around, he grabs them and announces that they will go to his piggy. We pay him for things we ask him to do when he does them outside of his responsibility that is putting his toys away. It pleases him when he makes his piggy fat and tells us that he will one day take his piggy to the big bank (a real one) to save them there. I’m not quite sure that he truly gets it but he already knows that if something has to be bought, the money comes from me and that has to change.

His face turns lemon when I tell him that if we bought something he wanted, but he doesn’t need, that he will pay me back using his piggy bank money. Half the time he changes his mind, the other half he is solid about his wants. I think it’s a good learning tool for him to associate spending with emotions and logic. He’s still very young but it’s never too early to learn about money.

Cash helps my determination


It sure feels different handling money. Because I have this need to be organized, I make sure that my notes are folded in a pile in my tiny purse. I cringe when I think about pulling folded notes and counting my money in front of strangers. I’ve seen people do it, I don’t think it’s weird, but when I do it I think it’s showing people my money regardless of how much I have. I have this thing about pulling out money, like it’s tacky or something.

Image from geekpinoy.com

It’s irrational, I know. There are plenty of irrational reasons why I spend. I mean I want to know where our money goes but I don’t have a strict self-imposed limitation on how much to spend. Yes, I do budget but it has always been a guiding information but I don’t feel shackled when I run out because I know I can rely on savings if I need to.

The money manager is me. Jonno asks me if we could buy this or that because he doesn’t touch the budget I set monthly. So, I bear the weight of budgeting and I feel I let down myself and my husband. Of course he has no idea that I feel this way, because he would think that I’m doing great. After all, we have $10k saved within 4 months.

That was my turning point, the savings. The plan is to have $15k by end of December. It has been $10k for more than a month, maybe even 2. We lost so much time and money spending aimlessly. So that’s where we are now, at least where I am. And it’s not even wasted spending. We went to San Francisco for 3 days not only to visit it but to also meet a friend from NZ who traveled to the States. We bought a car for $1,500 and bikes that we enjoy.

At the rate of saving $1k a month (at least), February 2012 is the projected month to reach the $15k goal. I’m beating myself for that, hence the determination to truly reduce eating out and non-budgeted spending. Like I said in an earlier post, we believe that spending in cash would truly keep me determined. I’m getting there. I haven’t thought of ordering food for a week now.

Do you spend cash? If you do, what for and how often?

Conversation in my head at the grocery store


Is it guilt? I found myself picking up (what appeared to me) a good chocolate cookie mix. I held it, thought about when Conor (my toddler) and I would get our hands dirty this weekend and bake it.

Oops, it required a mixer. I began to put it back to the shelf but I remembered that we have a mixer, that’s good enough. Wait, it’s more like a smoothie/baby food hand mixer, idiot.

But that should do it! Even hand mixing could do it.

Really? Do you need endless supply of sugar at home? You still have tons of candy from Conor’s trick or treating and 2 small tubs of ice cream that you already eat a few spoonfuls of at night.

Fine. But it’s cookie! Conor would love making cookies! The batch could sit in the jar for a few days. We’ll consume them just like we do with small tubs of ice cream–bit by bit.

And again, you really want endless supply of calories that you don’t burn?

I’m gonna run 3 miles this weekend.

How are you gonna fit that in between chores?

Sunday! We usually take lazy Sundays.

You’re going on an afternoon date with Jon after dropping off Conor for a playdate, remember?

FINE.

And I placed it back in the shelf and walked away.