Sunday, October 10, 2010


Some good news to share. As of Friday, I am officially employed! Yay!! The life of Ms. S will get infinitely more interesting on Tuesday when I start said job. I am hoping it will mean more motivation for projects around the apartment, and therefore more posts, too.

Yesterday I tackled a task I've been avoiding for, mmm, forever. Cleaning out my closet and dresser. It was surprisingly less scary than I anticipated. I knew I had a lot of clothes and that I never wore half of them. I didn't know I had four grocery bags full of unwanted clothes and one bag of shoes!! Whoa!

The inspiration for finally doing this project: a paycheck and the need for more work appropriate clothes. Not wanting to go shopping until I knew what I had (or didn't have), and until I had made room for new clothes, I decided I could no longer avoid my closet. And since I haven't really been clothes shopping since before I got married, I was kinda excited about the prospect of finally getting to do so. *This is the first time in our marriage that both of us are employed to our full potential, with full salaries and benefits.*

I started by taking all my clothes out of the dresser drawers and sorting them into piles: keep, maybe, give away. When all the drawers were done, I emptied out the closet (and remembered the clothes stored under the bed). Once all my clothes were in one of the piles, I looked at everything in my 'maybe' pile and determined if it would be kept or given away, and did one final look-through of my keep pile just to be sure. My give away piles went into brown paper grocery bags - four of them! I figured while I was at it I might as well do my shoes, too. One bag of shoes joined the bags of clothes.

Then!!! Mr. S and I went shoe shopping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I adore shoes. A lot. And have rarely stepped into a shoe store for about 4 years because we didn't have the money for me to indulge. Don't get me wrong - we didn't go crazy. Remember the last post about our cash budget? Yeah, we're still doing that (I managed $51.60 today!!), and are still intending to save - more aggressively now than we thought we'd be able to. But we both needed a pair of new shoes: Mr. S a pair of loafers, Ms. S a pair of brown dress shoes for work. My shoes are super cute brown suede wedges by Me Too. I'll take a special picture Tuesday - my first day of real work since August, 2008 - with my shoes so you can see them, too.

In the mean time, enjoy your weekend! We've certainly been enjoying ours.

~ Ms. S

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cash Budget

In yesterday's post, I mentioned having something more about grocery shopping later. Well, here it is!

Money is a little tight around here lately, so Mr. S and I have been examining our budget to determine what we can cut and where we can trim. I do most of the grocery shopping for our house (mostly because I can get in and out of the store more quickly than Husband most days), but both of us are pretty bad about spending more than we planned at the store. We love food, we love good food, and we both enjoy cooking. Needless to say, we both have ideas and upon entering the grocery store are totally enchanted by some of the things we see. All this to say, the grocery budget could definitely be trimmed.

We decided to put a couple systems in place. We've never been meal planners - that is to say, we rarely sit down once per week and figure out what we're going to eat everyday for dinner. This meant a lot of forgotten leftovers in the back of the fridge that had to be tossed, and remaining unaware of things already in the pantry to be used for that week's meals. Obviously, this needed to stop. I sat down yesterday and planned out our meals for the week, including space for consuming leftovers.

A lot of people go grocery shopping with a list. My mother, Husband's mother and sister, many of our friends. For whatever reason, we've never been list people. Even on days we tried to be good and go with a list, we'd end up with quite a few items in our cart that weren't on the list. (I did tell you the grocery store is an enchanted place for us. I wasn't lying.) Now our rule is you must make a list before setting foot in the grocery store, and you must stick to it!

The final system we put in place is a cash budget. As we thought about different ways to trim the grocery budget, we both knew if we pulled a certain amount of cash out of the bank each week and said, "That's all we have for groceries," our chances of actually trimming the budget might succeed. So, we now have an envelope on our fridge with our grocery money. On the front of the envelope we wrote: Week of: October 2-8, etc and a place to write down how much was spent that week. We've budgeted $50/week for groceries. For this first time around, we pulled two week's worth of cash for the envelope - nothing worse than getting to the checkout and needing an extra 4 dollars or something as you try out the system.

Alright, so we put these systems in place and I tried it out for the first time yesterday. I planned out this week's meals with our pantry in mind. We have lots of rice, pasta, and potatoes on hand, some fruit and veggies in the I wanted to only pick up ingredients from the store that would round out our pantry for the week. I made my list and grabbed our envelope. During my shopping trip, I paid close attention to the cost/ounce or pound of the items I purchased, wanting to get the best value. Only one extraneous item made it into my cart - sweet potatoes because they were on a good sale this week. How did I fare? $55.13 for my first time out. Not too shabby! "But it's over your budget," you say. That is true, but some of the items like milk and cereal will last us for two weeks. Also, it was my first time using this system and most of my grocery trips were at least $70 or $80. I'm pretty proud of myself and Mr. S is proud of me, too. Mostly, I'm proud of us for finding a practical solution to this problem.

How do you budget for groceries? Do you have any systems in place?

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Apologies for the lack of updates lately. The stress level in our house has been unusually high. People keep telling us, "You'll get through this." We're aware and appreciative of the insight, but it doesn't really help us right now. Most of my energy lately has gone into finding full-time employment. Therefore, my attention hasn't really been here. I'm hoping I find something amazing in the next few weeks and can refocus my energies to our Castle.

That's the other thing. Our apartment has been significantly more messy than usual due to our stress level. I know, I know. The mess = contributing to stress. Believe me, I know. So here's my assignment for tomorrow:

  1. Dishes
  2. Meal planning for the week
  3. Grocery shopping (we have a new budget for this...I'm saving to post about later this week)
  4. Clean our bedroom
It's a very doable list. And I'm keeping it doable because I need to feel like I'm accomplishing things. I'm also going to start a new sewing project so I have something to focus on besides staring at the computer conducting a job search/waiting longingly for an email reply or phone call.

How do you cope with stress? What do you do to stay sane?