...because we all have our motley moments!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This World

I love this world. I know I'm not supposed to. I'm a Christian; therefore, I'm supposed to be set apart and love the people in the world, but not the world. I'm in the world, not of it, etc., etc. I can't help it, though, I love this world. There are just so many great things to love about it.
1. Organized Sports: I've written before about my obsession with Alabama football, but I also love pro baseball, pro football, college basketball playoffs, golf, hockey, MMA, lacrosse, and even soccer sometimes.
2. TV: Lately I've been watching Seasons 1-5 of "Lost" on Netflix instant streaming and I'm completely hooked. It's such a terrific story and I can't wait to see what happens next. I stay confused, but I've hung in there because of the characters and writing. I love great writing.
3. Books: Speaking of writing, I sure do love to read. Right now I'm on a Frederick Forsyth kick. I love to read anything, though. My husband got me hooked on Kipling and I've always been a fan of Dickens. I even read nonfiction, and not just self-help books. I love the Bible the most, as I "should," but some secular stuff moves me almost as much as Scripture does.
4. Music: Music moves me, as well. I love hymns and praise music, but as I'm talking about what I love about the world, I'll tell you that I also love booty music and really loud rock and roll. I love Rimsky-Korsakov and Mozart and some old twangy country.
5. Movies: This is where I could really get in trouble. Well, here and with Ludacris, Jay-Z, and Eminem. Anyway, I love movies, especially raunchy ones like The Hangover and Superbad. I love to laugh. I also love science fiction, so I enjoy Star Wars and Star Trek and pretty much anything with good special effects. I like martial arts, so I also watch Jet Li and Jackie Chan movies.
Hopefully I'm not so wrapped up in the stuff I love about this world to also care about its people and to see the ugliness and evil all around me. Hopefully I can get out of my "Lost" fog and away from football games to show the love of God and really be in the world, but not of it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

4 Reasons Why a Four-Year-Old Is Like a Teenager

1. He eats all day, every day, and begs for more. Today Ethan ate an oatmeal bar, milk, carrots, pizza, apple juice, snack mix, strawberries, bread and butter (2 pieces, like a butter sandwich), steak, couscous, Sprite, and more milk, and he still got out of bed to say he was hungry. I don't know how I'm going to pay the food bill when he's a teenager playing sports.
2. He is increasingly moody.
3. He is defiant. Today I said, "Put your shoes on, boys, we're going to go to Wal-Mart." Ethan said, "I'm not going to!" so I sent him to time-out. He then proceeded to STICK HIS TONGUE OUT AT ME. So I sent him to his room. When he's 14 he'll probably give me the finger.
4. He cares about his clothes. When we finally were on our way to Wal-Mart to get him new underwear, he said, "Mom, I want cool underwear. Kids at school have cool underwear."
5. He has a great sense of humor. His instructor asked him to tell a joke tonight at tae kwon do. "I don't know what a joke is," Ethan replied. "Well, then, tell me something funny." "Monkeys are funny!"
I guess the good news is that I actually like teenagers. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Financial Fun: Any questions? Comments?

Next Tuesday we will talk about eating healthily on a budget, but today I am recovering from a weekend trip and I need to take a little break! Please take today as your day to question and comment on anything financial, and we can all join in the conversation. Thanks for your understanding!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Love Budget - Part 2 {The Categories}

Last week I posted about the idea of a Love Budget (An idea that my Hubby came up with). Here is my Hubby's post on it if you want more information on the idea.

Similar to how a financial budget has different categories, so does our Love Budget. The categories that I am going to talk about are The 5 Love Languages and God's Commands. I am going to start out talking about each Love Language (Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Service, and Gifts) separately.

Just like in a financial budget some categories have more weight than others, the same is true in our love budget. But it will be different from person to person and family to family. You have to figure out what Love Language you, your spouse and your children speak to decide which one(s) will be more important.

For example: My Love language is gifts, my Hubby's is Service, and my Son's is Physical Touch. So, those will be the a bigger focus. We will still need to budget for Words of Affirmation and Time but they will have less weight.

So your homework for this week to find out your family's Love Languages. Here are some helpful sites for you.

Love Language Test
Summery of the 5 love Languages
The 5 Love Languages Book on Amazon.
Next week I will talk about Time.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Financial Fun Part 5: Dear MM--Can you help me lower my grocery bills?

This week, let's tackle a question from a reader:

Dear Motley Moms,

My family eats pretty much the same meals every week, and I buy pretty much the same thing at the grocery store every week. I buy what we need whether it is on sale or not, and it seems like we are spending too much money that way. Do you have any suggestions on how to lower our grocery bills? Thank you!

Dear Reader:

I have good news for you--you have a way of shopping that is prime for saving money with a few tweaks to your weekly routine! By doing what is called "stockpiling" (buying ingredients and foods you use often in larger quantities when they are on sale) and remodeling your grocery list a bit you should be able to lower your bills! Here's what I suggest:

1. Make a list of all of the meals and snacks your family eats and the ingredients necessary to make them. If you have more than enough favorites for a week, that's great! You will be able to take advantage of sales!

2. Divide that list into three categories: 1)Extremely perishable (like milk) 2) Somewhat perishable (foods with longer expiration dates--cheese for example) and 3) Storable (pastas, jarred sauces, canned veggies, etc.)

3. BEFORE you go shopping, find the sale circular for the store where you shop. These days, finding those online is the way to go if you'd rather not go into the store. Also, you may receive an ad with your newspaper subscription.

4. This is where your routine changes--rather than deciding what YOU want to eat that week, your ad decides for you. If there is a great deal on chicken that week, you choose to eat your famous chicken dish. If the beef is not on sale, sorry, but no steaks that week. Make your meal plan based on the sales, then add those items to your grocery list.

5. Next, scour the ad for foods you use frequently. For example, I use a ton of cannellini beans. If they are on sale for a very low price, I buy 10+ cans that week. Then, I don't buy them again until they go on sale again. Period.

Shopping this way allows you to eventually spend less on storables. There will be weeks where you only buy fresh perishable foods because you have everything else you need! A word of caution, though--be careful not to overspend the budget on stockpiling, and never buy more than you can store. Trust me on that one. ;)

If you have any advice for this situation, let's hear it! Send me any other grocery questions you may have, too. Next week we'll talk about eating healthily on a budget. This is something I'm dealing with right now, so I look forward to hearing your comments! Have a great week!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Love Budget

Rachel has been posting some AWESOME post about budgeting our money! I thought I would take that theme and put a little twist on it. This idea is really my Husband's. He is an accountant so he is a real numbers kind a guy. He came up with the Love Budget because he wanted a tangible way to think of love. He wanted to answer the questions:

  • How can we be rich toward God?
  • What is heavenly currency?
  • How do we earn it, and how do we spend it?

Luke 12:15 says, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." This verse implies that these riches are separate from our possessions. Luke 12: 33 speaks of "treasure in heaven", which makes me think that these riches cannot be seen, and verse 34 states, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." The word "heart" is often connected with the term of "love". This connection really helped me pull it all together. I remembered that Mark 12:30-31 contains the greatest commandments, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." The plain and simple truth is that God values love so much more than anything else. Just as a modern day currency could have its value based on gold or silver, heaven's currency is based on love.

There are a lot of ways to earn and spend love. One great book on the subject is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman (I believe that he has written on for kids as well) is a great book on love. It talks about your "love tank" and how it fills up and empties out. The book talks about 5 ways to show and feel love:

  • Physical Touch
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Service
  • Gifts
  • Time

Jesus also gives us some incite on how to earn and show love to God. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:20-22

1 Corinthians 13 also sheds some light on the subject:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

What if we were to put together a Love Budget. A tangible measurable way to earn and spend our heavenly currency (love). "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." What would the plan look like?

My Husband and I are pursuing the idea of a Love Budget. Are you interested in hearing more of our thoughts on the idea?
What ideas do you have for a Love Budget, what kinds of things would you include?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Big Boy

Ladies (and gentlemen, for you hubbies out there), I no longer have any babies in my house. I've written before about how I think it's neat when my kids hit milestones and grow up, about how I didn't cry when Ethan started preschool or went from his crib to a big bed or got rid of his pacifier. And I'm here to tell you that when I said that, I was full of crap. I think the reason why none of that stuff was tough for me was because I had a baby at the time, Micah. But Micah ain't no baby no more. Tuesday we started potty training him and yesterday he only had 1 accident all day long. I can't even believe how well this is going. What I've done is pretty much stayed home and let him run around naked with the potty in the TV room. And it works! I remind him a lot, but he also goes over and pees in it all by himself. Yesterday he even pooped in it. First he pooped near it and that really bothered him, so I told him to sit and try to do it in the potty and he did. I think God is repaying me for all the trouble I had potty training Ethan. Or maybe I've just learned what not to do from how it went with Ethan. I'm really tired of doing it wrong with Ethan and getting it right with Micah. But that's a whole other blog topic. While I think it's totally awesome that Micah is peeing in the potty and sleeping in a big bed and got registered for preschool the other day, it's making me sad! His crib is still sitting out in our garage and I don't know what to do with it. What I need to do is advertise it on Craigslist and sell the thing. Or give it to someone who needs a crib but can't afford one. But there it sits in my garage because I'm too sentimental to part with it. He also got a big-boy haircut last night. It's not my sister-in-law's fault because I told her to chop it all off. It needed to be done because he keeps waking up from his nap with his head drenched in sweat. But I was not prepared for how old he would look. Check it out:
Wahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! Where did my baby go?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Financial Fun Part 4: Back to Basics--Why bother?

I'm leaving the grocery store for a week to give us a chance to examine our motives, but I would like to head back there next week. I can ramble for hours about grocery shopping, so let's tailor the next article to what you want to know! Send me your questions or leave them in the comments at the bottom of today's post, and I or one of my Motley money-saving friends will respond!

Back to High School--Long Term and Short Term Goals
I was always so frustrated when he had to write down our goals in school. Who had time to think about the future? There was too much to do now, right? Well, it turns out that writing goals is actually quite beneficial, especially when it comes to personal finance.

I think I can safely say that we all want to be financially independent, but why? Why bother with all of this budgeting and saving? What does financial independence really mean? What does it look like for you?

For me, I can't wait to be able to give away money without a second thought. Major earthquake? Here's a thousand bucks. No, thank you, I don't want any cookies, but here's a hundred bucks for your troop. Your whole soccer team needs cleats and can't afford to buy them? Send me the team's sizes. Wouldn't that be amazing? Of course, I would also love to be financially set so that if the car stops running we can just write a check for another one, or if the grass in the yard stops growing (which it has, by the way--gotta love that Florida sand), we could just re-sod the whole thing and stop thinking about it.

Those are our long-term goals. Before you get the wrong impression of me, though, you should hear my totally selfish short-term goals. I have been salivating for months over a digital SLR camera--you know, the big ones with the fancy lenses. I had the money in my hand this Christmas that was enough to buy one, but instead we put the money into our savings account to help our emergency fund project. It was so hard to do that. I've always just bought things, which is why I'm paying so much attention to our spending now, by the way, so putting off my camera purchase was agonizing. Once the emergency fund was complete, my DSLR and an iPod went to the top of my "saving for" list.

Get a Visual
And, yes, we do have a list. When we started the emergency fund project, I took a piece of note paper and wrote our goal amount at the top. I taped it to the door of the computer desk under the saving envelope (the place where I put the extra cash I don't spend each month so it can go into our savings account). Each time we made a deposit, I wrote the amount and subtracted it from the total. It was exciting to see that number go down, to be able to see how long it would be before we would finish, and then to see what we could do to accelerate the progress. The day we made the final deposit my husband printed our account summary from the computer and taped it to the tally sheet. It was an awesome day!

Now that we have accomplished that goal, we desperately need another to keep our momentum from waning. I created a list of short and long-term savings projects and added them as a second page to our MASP. Every time we make a deposit I add in the amounts so that we can see where we stand. It's exciting to see those numbers rise and fall! It's good to win those little saving battles, too. Every time we fill an account we are closer to our larger goals.

Live Like No One Else
One of Dave Ramsey's favorite statements is "Live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else." Once those goals are set and the lists are posted, this is the key to success. But, what does it mean? It's different for everyone.

For us it means that we only eat in a restaurant if we have a gift card, and even then only on special occasions. I pack a cooler when we'll be out of the house at mealtime. I no longer go shopping "just to look"--I only enter a store with a list in hand and enough money to cover what's on the list. I only go to the grocery store once a week, and if we run out of something before the next trip, that's too bad. We are actually rationing milk this morning for that very reason. It means that I get to be a ninja money-saver in the grocery store. It means learning how to do things ourselves so that we don't have to pay others to do them. It also means knowing our limits so that we don't have to pay someone to come fix a mess we've made.

I realized a little while ago that indeed, some people were noticing our frugality. I noticed it because they seemed worried about us. It hit me that some people misunderstood our thriftiness--they thought we were broke! We have more cash right now than we have ever had at one time, but it looks like we're scraping every cent we can find! (Actually, I am--I'm obsessed with rolling coins!)

So, I love hearing your comments and anecdotes, but this week I want to hear how you live like no one else. Also, don't forget to send me your questions for the grocery saving Q&A! Have a great week!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

But Sunday is coming!

Sunday is here! Jesus is Risen!

Happy Resurrection day to you!

I love this sermon. What a great reminder to not live our life like it's Friday! We need to live like it's SUNDAY! I find myself feeling like "the world has won." But I know that My Savior lives and He has the victory!

Today to celebrate this fact I am making two special dishes:

These Resurrection rolls: These rolls look like a tomb on the outside and when you bit into them they are empty! To remind us that IT IS SUNDAY and OUR SAVIOR LIVES!

Deviled Eggs: We are going to eat them to show that the devil has lost and Jesus Christ will eat him for dessert and not the other way around !

Happy Easter!