Sunday, September 30, 2012

Our CRAZY Life

Life in the Herendeen household has been absolutely crazy lately. No joke. We’re taking the “a lot on your plate” thing to a whole new level. If you had to compare our “plate” with something, it’d be like those flimsy paper plates filled to the brim at the church potluck type of thing. You know, when you start piling food on top of other food (maybe I’m the only one who does that… but, still, you get what I mean…).

Don’t get me wrong—it’s not bad. It’s just crazy. And I guess you’re probably thinking somewhere along the lines of why?

Well, good question. We’ll get back to that. J

First, I want to throw this out there—when I started this blog, it was with the full intention that I would write primarily about finances. Finances, budgeting, and organizing paperwork are things that I’m really, really good at. I’m not saying that to brag or be in your face or anything like that. It’s just something that comes naturally to me. You give me a dollar amount earned, what bills need to be paid, and a pile of paperwork, and I’m right in my element. I’ll have it straightened out in a few hours tops. So since that’s one of my passions, I wanted to take that and do something good with it. I know there are a lot of people who don’t excel in that area (trust me… there’s lots of things I don’t excel in… we’ll actually get to some of that in a bit!), and I wanted to help them. I hate hearing how people are broke, are living paycheck to paycheck, or don’t know how they’re going to put food on the table. It breaks my heart. But while I do still intend to write a lot about finances, probably more so than other areas, I’ve also come to realize that it’s really hard to have your financial life in shape if other areas aren’t. It doesn’t make sense (or cents haha) to have a super-organized budget and desk, but a disaster area kitchen. You’ve got to get other areas of your life together, too, in order to have successful finances, at least in my opinion.

So, where does that bring us? Well, I think now would be a good time to explain why life in the Herendeen household is a wee bit on the crazy side…

The short version—we have a lot going on. But I guess I already said that with the whole plate analogy. J The long version—well, here we go:

1.)    The biggest reason why life is crazy is because I am going through a really, really big job change. Corey and I prayed a ton, crunched numbers, and thought long and hard and, in the end, decided that it would be best for our family for me to stay home with Tate. As a result, about a month and a half ago, we started to set in motion the groundwork for making this happen. I talked to a few friends about babysitting their children and started to get that set up. Corey and I worked our butts off and paid off a lingering credit card debt that was hanging over our heads to free up some money each month. And I put in notice at work that I would be leaving.


It’s funny, because as much as I know this is the right decision, telling work was extremely hard. I felt so guilty. I work for a wonderful company and they’ve been very good to me. I love the people I work with. But it was killing me leaving Tate every morning—I would literally cry every day, and that’s not healthy—for him, or for me. Of course, when I did tell work, they completely understood and were incredibly supportive (I told you they’re great!). I told them I would stay on until my replacement was hired and trained. This coming week will be my last, and I’ll start babysitting October 15th. It’s scary, but also very exciting.


2.)    So, we’re also getting everything set up for me to babysit! Like I said, I am so, so very excited about this. I think it will be wonderful for Tate, wonderful for me, and I really hope that I will be able to make a great impact on the life of some great little kids. Throughout my entire growing up, my mom babysat, so I know firsthand that life as a babysitter can be crazy, but also very rewarding. I have some really awesome kids lined up, which I know is a huge blessing in and of itself. I truly can’t wait. Like I said, it is a little scary, but I have no doubt in my mind that everything will work out.


Of course, this adjustment does require some work. While our house is set up fine for one little boy, it wasn’t exactly in ideal condition to have multiple little ones on a regular basis. So, that meant some decent changes to our little abode. Most of them are basic re-organizing and re-arranging. We built a new storage area/TV stand for our living room, are working on some cubbies and such for our entryway, and made our dining room table a bit smaller so I could fit a train table and other toys in as well, just to name a few of the small little jobs. But… there are a few biggies…


3.)    Like a bathroom remodel! Let me start off by saying this probably wasn’t my brightest idea ever. We had a completely functioning bathroom. But I decided that we needed a bathtub in our house, and, even more, I wanted to do it while I knew we’d have the money to afford it. So, the gut job began. We took out the toilet and sink, and ripped out the shower. It was messy. It was crazy. But, it is coming along. Everything but the sink is up and running and the sink should be done (hopefully) today. After that we’ll just have to build a shelf in our corner cubby area, paint, and do some general organizing and whatnot. The goal is to have all of that accomplished by my first day of babysitting (keep your fingers crossed!).

This is a "before" of our bathroom-- we had already started to take some stuff apart, so it's not in the best of the best shape, but it gives you an idea of where we're coming from! :) Eventually I plan on doing a post entirely about just our bathroom adventure, and when that happens, you'll get "during" and "after" photos too!

Oh, and we also built a closet. One of the er, wonderful things about our little place is that, prior to the bathroom remodel, there was not a single closet. Zip. Zilch. Nada. So, I decided it would be awesome to take a bit of space from our bathroom, and give it to Tate’s bedroom (which is right next door), to give him a closet. I’m incredibly excited about this. It needs finished out, but I can’t wait to get our little man’s clothes and other miscellaneous items transferred over! J


4.)    We also bought a truck. During our bathroom remodel, it became very apparent that trips to Menards, Lowes, and Home Depot went a lot better when there was a truck involved. Corey started a bit of a search on Craigslist, not really with the intention of us getting one yet… we just wanted to see what was out there. Well, of course we found one at a great price that was exactly what we were looking for… so we took the jump. As a result, there are four vehicles sitting at the Herendeen household at this moment (but trust me—we’ll be narrowing that down to two soon!)

 This is a pic of the new truck :)

5.)    And, in case all of that wasn’t enough, Corey’s job is going through shift realignment. He’ll still be working nights, but it’ll be the opposite nights that he works now (yes, it’s incredibly confusing… basically, he works a similar to schedule to what nurses do with twelve hour shifts).

6.)    I guess we could technically throw in that Monday is our two year anniversary, and the 4th is my grandparent’s fiftieth and my parent’s twenty-sixth! Tonight Corey and I are going out to dinner (yay for my parents keeping Tatey-kins!) and coming up soon, we’re planning a weekend getaway to Cincinnati to celebrate my grandparent’s huge accomplishment (FIFTY—wow!!!!).
This is my grandparents, Larry & Martha Tonjes! :) Photo courtesy of my uncle, Tim Tonjes.

So yeah, we have a lot going on. J

So how does this all relate to my blog and any of what I’ve talked about? Well… like I said earlier, I think the rest of your life also needs to be in a semblance of order for your financial world to make sense. Right now, the rest of my life is not in order, and I can definitely tell when I go to pay my bills each week.

And now is where we really get into it—I’m committing myself to get the rest of my life in order, and to share the journey with you. If you want to join in, that’s awesome. I’d love to hear about what you’re doing and how it’s going. If not, you can just use me for entertainment purposes, and that’s fine too! J

Which, I might as well disclose this up front—you know how I said I’m really, really good at finances, budgeting, and organizing paperwork? Well, I’m really, really not good and organizing stuff. All the stuff our house has accumulated during our two years of living here—well, I don’t know what to do with it. I take a look at it all and feel completely lost. Paralyzed. Granted, it doesn’t help that there’s so much going on that I don’t really have a lot of time or energy to stay on top of it all (or that we don’t have closets!).

Luckily, I have an awesome mama. While my mom doesn’t do so hot at the paperwork side of things, she kicks butt at organizing stuff. So, we’re employing some good old fashioned team work. Yesterday she came in and helped me start to get everything in a bit more order. With her help, I’m making my to-do list a DONE list! We’ve gone from disaster area, to looking pretty darn presentable! J

Okay… so to wrap this realllllly long (sorry!) blog post up—as I go along this journey of getting things in order, I’ll share it with you. Currently, I have a few projects brewing—a home management binder (yay, Pinterest!), a recipe binder, the cubbies for the entryway, getting Tate’s room in better working order, and finishing up the bathroom, just to start. So, stay tuned for some fun ideas, tips, and, if all else fails, laughs! J

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Let's Get Healthy

Okay, okay-- I've been a HUGE slacker. I can't believe I haven't posted since July... yikes!

But, I guess, once again, better late than never, right?

Well, hopefully...

So, I guess I might as well finish out my "food" series... with, as promised, healthiness! And I might as well get this out there from the beginning-- I'm awful at eating healthy. Part of it is because most of the foods I love the most are far from healthy. Part of it is because I feel like I'm twenty-four years old... I should be able to enjoy food. And in large part it's because growing up I could literally eat whatever I wanted to and it didn't matter. I never had a problem with what I ate impacting my weight until after I had Tate. Well, let me tell you, it's a big adjustment. It's hard knowing that a donut will go straight to my hips/butt/thighs, when it used to not matter!

But enough of my pity party. Here's what I do to try to stay healthy without breaking the bank:

1) Weight watchers. I'll admit it-- I haven't been doing this as diligently as I should. But, I did sign up for weight watchers online, and I do pay the monthly fee. I even have the app on my phone. In the beginning, I was rocking it out and I lost 8 pounds in the first three weeks. Then things got busy with our bathroom remodel, and it sort of fell apart. I am hoping to get back at it... hopefully mid-October things will settle back down in the Herendeen household!

2) Zumba. So I've never done an actual class, but we got Kinect for our x-box awhile back, and I really do enjoy doing the zumba with that. It's not a crazy-intense workout, but it allows for some good cardio, and I can tell that it helps.

And those are the main things. I've done Curves in the past, and that helped a TON (that's how I lost the baby weight between Tate's birth and the wedding). Unfortunately, my schedule didn't fit well with our local curves hours, so it quickly became not worth the money. I might go back in the future, but right now it's not gonna happen. I also try to eat veggies and fruit daily, although this can be challenging, especially with a husband who doesn't want to eat anything green or good for him! :) But we are working on it... and hopefully I'll keep getting better. I really do want to start running, too. I used to love running in high school and even college, but I haven't really gotten back into it since having Tate. I know I really just need to make the leap and do it... so here's hoping! :)

But anyway... my to-do list is about ten miles long, and I'm going to be honest... I'm mega distracted right now, so this is probably far from my best post. I think I'll leave it at that, but give you the heads up that I plan on posting tomorrow and hopefully it'll rock your socks off! :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bulk It UP!

For some reason, the title of this made me giggle-- I picture a buffed-up weight lifting muscle-man. Kinda funny! :)

Anyway... that is COMPLETELY off topic!

Buying in bulk. Is it worth it? WELL... that's kind of a loaded question. Yes. No. It just depends! :)

So here's my thoughts--

Corey and I have a membership to Sam's Club. We first bought it before we were married and when Tate was just a little peanut. At that time, you could buy a "premier" or whatever it's called membership for $100 and then get a $100 travel voucher towards a travel package from Sam's. There was also the basic $40 membership. Since Core and I were engaged and knew we'd want to have some sort of mini-honeymood, we signed up for the $100 version, knowing that we'd likely get our investment back. PLUS, they do say you can reduce to the $40 version and get the $60 difference at any time. It made complete sense. AND what's even better, is we did use it! :) We had an absolute AMAZING honeymood in San Antonio, Texas, that only cost around $700 with the voucher (not costing the food once we got there-- but that's it!)!!! Quite the bargain, and totally worth it!

Corey and I at the Riverwalk-- our hotel was right on it! SO beautiful!
P.S. We paid in cash too-- such a good decision! :)

Unfortunately, Sam's no longer has that option, or trust me, we'd go for it EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!

But, as I said, we do still have a membership. The $40 version. Why? Well, because we can buy enough diapers to last Tate around (and now that we're sorta potty training him, more than) a month for $40 instead of spending that amount on a two week supply. Plus, while we're there, we can buy corn dogs (for anybody who knows us, they know we love corn dogs-- we had them as an option to eat at our wedding and don't care if it's hillbilly-- it's us!) in bulk and CHEAP, toilet paper (their toilet paper is without a doubt the best EVER and it's SO stinking cheap. We spend SO little on it and it lasts FOREVER!), granola bars (I eat one every morning on the way to work for breakfast!), and other odds and ends. Typically speaking, our bill ends up being around $90 for food that will last us over a month, diapers that last about a month, and toilet paper that lasts three months. Not too shabby.

HOWEVER, if it wasn't for Tate's diapers, it probably wouldn't be worth it. And as much as I hate saying good-bye to unlimted corn dogs for the month, when Tate is finally potty trained (as long as there isn't a Baby Herendeen already!) we'll probably not renew our membership.

Pretty much, the point of it all is that it may be worth it for you. It may not. Make sure you take into consideration your membership fee, your cost of items, and the gas it takes to get there too. For us, Fort Wayne is the closest Sam's, and that's an hour away. If the savings weren't so big, it might not be worth it. Also, take into consideration what's going on in your life. For Corey and I, it was MEGA worth it when we got married-- we bought the majority of food foor our wedding from Sam's, as well as the paper products. We saved a LOT. There's things like that you have to factor in and make sure you're getting the best deal.

And, as a side note, you MUST use cash or debit card when buying at Sam's. I think it's awesome... I'm not a big fan of debt (thank you, Dave Ramsey!) and appreciate them stopping me from being tempted, especially when I can buy SO much for SO little! :)

Anyway... that's my opinion on it-- use your brain and remember that SOMETIMES it's worth it... and sometimes not!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Date Night Dinner... FINALLY!

I'm back! AND, I find it a little ironic that this post is actually a lot like date nights in our household-- put off for far too long! :) I'm going to do my very best to do better at posting more regularly!

But anyway, a long, long time ago I promised to blog a few of the pointers Corey and I have picked up regarding food and how to eat affordably. I covered grocery shopping and the temptation of fast food, but then disappeared for awhile, but the next promised post was to be on date night dinners.

First off, I think it's incredibly important for people to take the time for their relationships. In all honesty, Corey and I aren't always super great at that, especially since I've been working at Alex full time. Both of us find it hard to take time that we could be with Tate for each other since we both spend more time than we'd like away from the little booger. But, with that being said, we are Tate's example of what a relationship should be, and our relationship is definitely better when we take time for each other, too. I think once a month is a good rule to go by-- and this doesn't mean necessarily going out once a month, but reserving time for just the two of you once a month.

So, when your date night comes around, what does that mean for your finances? I think it's absolutely CRAZY how expensive it actually is to go on a nice date. Even if you just go to dinner and a movie, you're looking at probably at LEAST $50. That's a decent chunk of change! Here's my thoughts on the matter:

1.) You don't have to go out to have fun. Don't be afraid to stay home. Cook dinner together. Light some candles and eat on a blanket in the middle of your living room floor. Buy a cheap bottle of wine, dress up, and dance to your favorite song on iTunes. Play twenty questions. Rent a redbox movie (this works REALLY well when you get the free rental codes!). You'll be amazed how much fun you can have being creative with an at-home date night!

2.) BUT also don't be afraid to go out and have fun. There's a lot of ways to go out cheaply. Pack a picnic, go to a park, eat and take a walk. Wait till your city's movie theater has it's discount price night, and go then (or go to the daytime showings when it's cheaper!). When you go out to eat, don't pick the most expensive item off the menu! This doesn't mean you always have to do this, but I think it's safe to say that you won't feel like you've missed anything by choosing these options instead!

And, as a quick P.S., this is also part of my promised post from forever ago-- please please please TIP WELL! There is nothing that drives me more crazy when people tip poorly. I have never been a waitress, but I know they put up with a lot of crap for not a lot of pay. I'm not saying you have to be extravagant, but I think minimum 15% is a good starting point. If they've done a really great job, PLEASE give more! Granted, if they're awful, I do think you should pay less. Personally, I could never leave nothing for a tip. Even if the waiter/waitress only came to take my order and bring my food and had a bad attitute while doing it, I would probably give 10%. Just my two cents! :)

Also, BUDGET. When you're going out, set a certain amount aside, take it out of the bank in CASH, and do not spend a penny more! That way, you won't look at your bank account the next morning and think man, that popcorn was not worth that much! :)

3.) Rotate. Maybe for two months stay in, then the third month go out, and rotate it around. This will give you a little bit of change, but still keep the budget in check.

4.) Think like a high school student. I don't know about you, but being an adult sometimes isn't very enjoyable. I really miss the carefree high school days. So why not live out a bit of your high school memories as a grown up? I think this works really well in the fall. Literally pretend you're going on a date with someone like you did in high school. Who cares if you're married??? Have your hubby drive around the block and still come to the door and pick you up. Go get fast food. Go to a football game. Have a bonfire afterwards. Maybe even make out in the car a little! ;) All I'm saying is don't be afraid to think outside of the box to refresh some of that romance. Don't do the same old same old all the time!

AND most importantly 5.) HAVE FUN!!! :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fast Food Frenzy

How can something so awful for you be so good?! That's always my question when I go to pretty much any fast food place. Mmmmm. Delicious. And SO cheap-- or so it seems.

That's the interesting part-- it seems like such a deal, but when you really break it down, you are majorly getting ripped off. That double cheeseburger and fries? If you made it at home, it would be way cheaper-- and most likely healthier too. Your taco-- LOADS cheaper if you made it at home, and you'd probably have leftovers to eat in the future. Seriously... think about it!

Trust me, I get the convenience. I get that sometimes it's delicious and you don't care. I'm in the same exact boat. There's days that I get off work and absolutely don't want to cook. There's days that nothing can fill my craving like a trip to the golden arches.

BUT what I try to remember is how much money I'm spending that I wouldn't have to. If I made that sandwich myself, I'd spend quite a bit less. That extra money could go then to paying debt, a trip, or who knows what. And it adds up so fast.

Corey and I started awhile back trying to limit all going out to once a week (and in all honesty, I think that's even quite a bit!). It isn't easy, and there's been a few weeks that we've failed miserably. But the other night I went through and looked at home much money we've spent recently on fast food-- holy cow! I seriously probably could have bought a holy cow! Okay, maybe not... but you get the point. It's craziness. Such a waste of money!

So here's my pointers:

1) Limit yourself. Try not to go more than once a week, or actually even once every two weeks. Corey and I are trying to work on that one-- yikes!

2) Think cheap. Seriously try to figure out how much it would cost you to make the same thing at home. Make sure it's worth it to you. And if you decide going to the fast food joint is worth it, don't order extravagantly. For one person five dollars should be MORE than enough.

3) Don't foresake your health/diet. I've noticed fast food isn't quite as appealing when I think about the health impact. I recently started weight watchers-- wow. When I see that that double cheesburger is over 10 points compared to the more "healthier" choices, it's a lot easier to order something different, or just altogether pass it up. Granted that might not work for you, but it certainly has helped me!

4) Think about what you're teaching your kids (if you have them). I'll admit it-- Tate loves chicken nuggets and fast fries. He knows the golden arches the second he sees them. And when I think about it, it's kind of sad. I'm not exactly being a good example to him. Definitely something to work on!

Anyway, I hope my little thoughts help-- nothing major or earth-shattering, but hopefully just a friendly little reminder that there probably are better ways to spend that hard earned money of yours!

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Trip to the Grocery Store

I can't be the only one who has a love-hate relationship with grocery shopping. I love picking out delicious meals and snacks, coming up with creative meals, and actually having food to choose from at home when I'm done. I hate battling the crowds, staying within the budget, and, the worst- the total at the checkout line.

Of course, no matter how much I love or hate the trip, it's something that I don't really have a choice to do or not. We gotta have food.

So how do you go about keeping the cost of the grocery trip run in check? Here's what Corey and I have found useful.

  • Make a list (and by list, I technically mean lists). Core and I do it in a couple of different ways. First, we have a magnetic notepad on the side of our fridge that, whenever we run out of something, we add it to the list. That saves us time when we create the master list, and also makes sure we don't forget anything! Which, as I just stated, the second part of our list is the infamous master list. Typically, to create it this list, I come up with 15-20 recipes I want to be able to make. Then I compile the list of what it takes to make these recipes that I don't have on hand. I make sure to write amounts, too, so I don't over or under buy. Lastly, I sort the list according to where I would find the items in the store. Of course, I also add items that aren't a part of the recipes too,  like cereal, fruit snacks, or string cheese, for example. This might seem a little overwhelming, but trust me-- it's so worth it! ESPECIALLY if you stick to the list. That's the important part of this-- making the list does no good if you aren't determine to stick to it. Granted, most trips I do give myself $10 of "listless" items, but I make sure I track it, and once I hit $10, I'm done. You also need to make sure you remember what meals you're buying stuff for. At our house, we have a "week planner" by our desk, and one of the columns is set aside for listing what we'll make for dinner each day. On the side it has a cork board, and I typically keep a list of the meals we bought stuff for and cross them off the list as I make them or put them on the board. It may seem like a lot, but really it's not, especially if you keep up with it. And another benefit is that you really don't have to go big grocery shopping that often. Most of the times we go to the store for the 15-20 meal trip once every other month, and then go probably every other week to get the things we run out of. I think we could go less if we did better and buying more of the things we go to faster, but it's not bad when the store is less than five minutes away from your house!
my week planner-- LOVE this thing!

  • Make a budget. For Corey and I, 15-20 meals fits the budget. BUT if your budget is more or less, adjust it accordingly. The first couple times you follow this, it's hard to know how many meals your budget will make. What we did was take the list of meals and prioritize them. The ones we wanted the most we bought the things for first, and then on down the list. During this, though, it's the nerd's job to not miss a thing and use a handy dandy calculator to do the math of about how much your order will cost. If you're anything like me, you'll love seeing how close you came at the end! :) Your ultimate goal here is to stick to the amount you alloted yourself. Period! Another way to do this is to write down the max cost you'll spend on items. If you know the approximate cost of the things on your list, this is an easier way to know how much you'll spend without having the eagle eye on the cart at the store!

  • Don't Shop Hungry. I know, I know, this is an old, old rule, but it's oh so true. When I step foot in the store without dinner, I'm practically guaranteed to make worse decisions about what I buy. It's so much harder to say no when your tummy is growling!
Another word of wisdom, if you have a small child, they are ALWAYS hungry and will beg you for something!
This is my lovely son showing me his cookie that he finally got out of me after begging and begging!

  • Take Advantage of Sales & Coupons. This is one area that I really would like to improve on. I'm going to be honest-- I will likely never be a crazy couponer. I have mad respect for the ladies on Extreme Couponing that can get paid to buy hundred of dollars in groceries, but right now there's no way that can be part of my lifestyle. Still, if you do it-- all the more power to you! And even if you can't do the mega couponing, it doesn't hurt to use a quarter off one here or a seventy-five cent off one there, or even a buy-one-get-one free! AND it NEVER hurts to pick up on a good sale! Keep your eyes peeled and take advantage, especially if it's something you buy often. BUT as a side note, it's not a deal if it's something you won't use. Even if it's pennies-- only get it if it's something your family will eat!
Anyway, happy shopping! I hope my little bit of advice can help! :) Stay tuned for future ways to eat on the cheap!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Wonderful World of Food!

I love food. Today during work, I found myself dreaming of lunch, then dinner, and everything in between. And I know I'm not the only person like that. We live in a world of foodies! :)

So how does that relate to finances?

Well, quite a bit actually. Food does cost money, right? And it's not like it's something you can cut out of the budget during a tight week. You need it. And it's not only in terms of stocking your pantry-- you factor in fast food, date nights, being healthy, and so on and you have quite the impact on your wallet. It's really easy to let food eat your moola right up (sorry, I couldn't resist the pun!).

Which means it's the perfect topic for my blog. For the next few posts, I'm going to look at how you can control your finances in the world of food. Here's what you have to look forward to:

1) A Trip to the Grocery Store. This one is a biggie. We'll talk about how to not blow the budget when you go to the store and what to do to get the essentials at a good price.

2) Fast Food Frenzy. Who doesn't love the occassional splurge on this junk? BUT, as cheap as it seems, how does it actually impact your finances? AND how can you keep it in check?

3) The Date Night Dinner. Granted, it's not just dates... even just going to a sit-down restaurant counts. How much is too much for these nights? What about tipping? Is it worth it?

4) Bulk It Up. This isn't just in the realm of food. Sometimes buying in bulk is a really great way to cut costs... and sometimes it kills the bank account. I'll look at the pros and cons of buying in bulk for anything, not just food.

5) Let's Get Healthy. This is another one that isn't just in the food world. Getting healthy can be expensive. Fresh fruits and veggies, gym memberships, etc. can put a dent in the budget! How can you keep it under control?

And that's it for now. Let me know if you have any specific points you want me to talk about that fall under any of these, or if you have another food-related issue that somehow relates to your moola that I've overlooked! And enjoy pigging out tonight-- next post you just might feel too guilty! :)