Thursday, July 26, 2012

Finances: Part 3


I started researching daily. I went to every budgeting and living frugal blog I could find and stalked the Dave Ramsey website. I was becoming obsessed and would stay up at night crunching numbers in my head. I was brainstorming ideas as to how we were going to cut back and live a more frugal lifestyle with a child {heard they’re spendy} coming into the world soon! 

After reading and researching so much I looked around my house. I was living in a world of WANTS. Do I really need 20 different lotions and 56 eyeshadows? I have 13 cans of tomato soup so why aren’t I making any when I complain “we have nothing to eat…”? It became completely insane to me the amount of money I had been wasting. 

So I sat down and started implementing the tips I had learned while Pinteresting, Googling and reading blogs. I first started with a notebook and wrote down all my bills and financial goals. After I figured out our wages - bills + savings + a budget/allowance I discovered we could live solely {but frugally} on one income. So that means I could have been saving my entire paychecks for years now. Shoot me!!! 

Anyways after I got done kicking myself and got all my bills figured out I put together a financial binder. In the binder I deposit ½ of the bills’ sum every two weeks on payday. 
For example, let’s say my total bills per month are $1,000. I would take $500 every two weeks and deposit the money into the correct slots in my binder. For instance, let’s pretend my mortgage is $300/month so that means every 2 weeks I deposit $150 of that $500 into that slot in my binder that says ‘MORTGAGE’.  When the time comes to mail the bills I deposit the $1,000 into my checking account and send all my bills off at the beginning of the month. It really helps with the whole feeling of, “this whole paycheck has to go to bills so I’m broke these 2 weeks.” Ya know? I hope that explains it thoroughly!

After Googling what the average percentage of what was reasonable to save from each paycheck - {10-20%}. We decided we would save 15% of Lenz-pipes’ paycheck and ALL of mine. I am also saving every $5 bill that comes into my possession (saw online that some lady saved $12,000 in 2 years just by doing this!) and all of our loose change. We are saving ALL of my check to pay off my car by the time baby L gets here and really trying to save our butts off so in the spring we can buy Matt a new pickup {he desperately needs one!} by paying strictly cash.

Anyways, after I got the binder all ready to go I began searching for other ways to save money. I organized all the kitchen and bathroom cupboards to see exactly what I had/didn’t have on hand. I felt it would be easier for me to find when we were actually out of something like cream of mushroom soup or conditioner. It was kind of like shopping in itself rediscovering all your old junk.

All this frugal saving has been a huge mental process for me because I’ve been used “retail therapy.” I used this therapy for years on bad days, when I was bored, mad, happy…basically any time. I’m pretty proud of myself though because when I make a Wal-Mart shopping list I write down EVERYTHING I need and revise it 3-4 times. Sometimes when I go through it I find that I can take items off: “oh I can make sandwiches for another 3 days to finish up that lunch meat we have. I don’t HAVE TO buy hot pockets to pack for lunch.”

Some of my friends think I’m nuts when I tell them I live on $200/2 weeks. {Some may think that’s a lot but it truly does go quickly especially living 40 minutes from work}. but I actually really try to live on $100-$150 just so I can save some extra cash.

Here’s how I usually figure my $200:

Gas = $60 usually {$30/ week & I’m even trying to drive less! Some weeks this # is higher.}

Groceries = $40.This is honestly all I like to spend and since I only am feeding 2 it hasn’t been too bad. {although, I have been craving McDonald’s chicken nuggets so bad this week I’ve splurged!}.

There are other things, of course, I have to plan for within this budget too and that’s why I try to stash extra cash away instead of using up my $200. For example: 

+ Cut/coloring my hair {not a necessity but I also have to treat myself too!}

+ Oil changes

+ Friends’ weddings/Bridal Showers/Bachelorette Parties {hotel, food –I totally pack sandwich/snack stuff when I travel now so I don’t have to eat out much!, gifts, etc.}

+ Propane/Car Tires {I don’t HAVE to use this money to pay for these spendy items but I like to see our savings increase, not decrease!}

I highly encourage you to budget if you have felt/feel like I have in my posts on finances. I believe no matter how much money a person makes they should have a budget. You would be amazed at how much you can save when you’re conscience of your money. Like I said, I was spending $1,000 + a month and I had no idea where/how it went. I finally feel like I’m making headway having financial goals and being in control of my money.

Here are some of our financial goals for the curious cats out there:

+ Save enough to have 6 months worth of wages built up in savings in the case of an emergency.

+ Pay off my car by the time Baby Lenzen arrives.

+ Save all $5 bills and loose change.

+ Pay cash for a pickup next spring/summer.

+ Pay off mortgage within 10 years. {I used a mortgage calculator and about fainted when I discovered if we just paid the payments we’ve been making – the minimum amount – we will pay $23,000 in interest by the time we pay it off. NO THANK YOU!! If we pay it off in 7-10 years we will have paid like $7,000 - $9,000 if I remember correctly. I had always said we’d build new after 10 years but you know, I love my house and it probably won’t be necessary. It might need some upkeep since it is 100 + years old but that’s okay, it’s gotta be cheaper than building a whole new house brand new}.

Here are some of the blogs and websites that really inspired me to save, save, save!

Living on less than $28,000/year: The Peaceful Mom

Living on $14,000/year: Blissful and Domestic

Paying cash for their home: Money Saving Mom

Décor/Cleaning Supplies Dupes: Fake It Frugal

Dave Ramsey: Dave Ramsey

I would love to hear your feedback and how you’ve been saving or plan on saving! J

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

One Year Anniversary of Add a Little Sparkle!

So here we are celebrating the one year anniversary of Add a Little Sparkle! This blog has probably been one of the only things I’ve ever kept up with in my life. I’m the mediocrity extraordinaire remember? Plus, I’m an Aries and we like to rush into ideas only to let them fade fast. Meaning this is a huge accomplishment for brandi_babe35 even if no one reads it!

I originally started this blog to help with the grieving process after losing my friend Thomas. It was a very trying time in my life with friends, family, faith, life, etc. Besides my grandmother, I had never lost someone that close to me nor that suddenly. I was all over the place with my emotions but writing publically helped me immensely. { least it wasn’t crack that helped right?!}

Looking back in those whirlwind emotions, I realize I wrote some blog posts I am not proud of. The main one that comes to mind is this one – the one about not being in my best friend, Adrienne’s, wedding. I was hurt by multiple things and I took it out on someone who was closest to me. I could say I regret posting it but it was a life lesson I’ve learned from and found out who my ride-or-die friends are because of this situation.

Anyways, after about 7 months of not speaking, I just called Adrienne and we talked for 2 hours like we had never hurt one another. Now we’re closer than ever. Some people don’t understand and probably think I’m a “back and forth friend” because I talked a lot of shit! Haha! At least I’m honest about the shit talking though which is something not a lot of people will admit! And don’t worry, Adrienne knows and understands all the mean stuff I said was just out of sadness and spite! I thank God for bringing her back into my life because she’s truly one of the greatest friends.

And for all of you who have taken time over the year to send me texts, call me, Facebook message me, etc. after a blog post that touched you or hit the funny bone: I thank you! You truly have kept me going and helped me through the hardest time in my life without even knowing it. Matt and I {and several others who loved Thomas} are still grieving and I know Matt has appreciated the support that I’ve received through Add a Little Sparkle.

To those of you who took the time over the year to send rude anonymous comments, didn’t understand or weren’t there for me during the grieving process or the Adrienne situation: I forgive you but I still no longer want to be your friend. J

Damn, that feels so good to say!! For a long time, I haven’t really posted how I felt because I felt a little bit of hidden judgment from “friends.” Meaning, I felt as though some thought I was sharing too much. Which, might just be a figment of my imagination – but I doubt it. I’ve finally learned to just say SCREW it because I’m not going to live life stepping on egg shells so a few people will be satisfied I kept my mouth shut.

Anyways, I’m SO proud of my blog – I love the design and I am happy to say I feel it’s one of the things that brought me back to being me. I hope I keep it up for another year!

So here's a reflection of my MISADVENTURES from throughout the year:

+ Being a Beachbody Coach and then deciding it wasn’t for me. {ovvvvvvvver it!}

+ Saying I wanted to open a party planning business and then not. {I love helping others but so far I just help people for free! J}

+ Dressing like a carebear/being the drunkest most dysfunctional a-hole for my BFF’s going away party. {lost a diamond in my ring too}

+ Wearing a diaper to the Miranda Lambert concert so I wouldn’t have to move from the front row {shaking head}

+ Admitted I gained 100 lbs and SHOCKINGLY am self-conscience of it. {ha}

+ Attending Career Step online for Medical Transcriptioning {I have until March to finish anddddd I’m like not even ¼ done…..fml}

+ Told all sorts of “details” about our wedding + asked our bridesmaids and now we’re not even getting married for like 2 years! Haha! Starting from scratch including the wedding party.

+ And the greatest misadventure/blessing of the year: making a baby
 with Matt {puking 6 months straight, almost getting fired from my job, having surgery while 23 weeks preggers and becoming disgusted with the red stretch marks growing around my belly button and my giant milk boobs.} 

WHEW! What a year…….who’s ready for another!??!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Girl's Gone Child: 28 Weeks

{Mom has done nothing worthy of posting a picture of but Dad caugh a keeper walleye this week!}

How far along? 28 {29 in 2 days}

Total weight gain: I gained 6 pounds this month…whoops.

Maternity clothes? YUP!!!!

Stretch marks? Yes! :( 

Sleep: My hemoglobin was a 7.8 this morning so we’re waiting on the iron levels to see if the doctor wants me to do a blood transfusion. No wonder I’ve been so tired! This may sound awful but I sleep better when Matt sleeps on the couch and I can sprawl out with my body pillow. Needless to say, he will be camping in the living room from here on out!! I need those heartbeat pillows I found on Pinterest that make it so you can listen to your significant others heartbeat. Although I can see myself yelling from the bedroom, “Can you tell your heart to be quiet?! I’m trying to sleep!” haha.

Best moment this week: Watching our doctor chuckle while listening to the baby’s heartbeat! He said, “He doesn’t like me bothering his mom! He keeps kicking me!”

Miss Anything? Sleep,booze, normal body temps, not feeling like a total cow, etc.

Movement: Yes! I get very scared when I haven’t felt him in a couple hours so kick away baby!

Food cravings: Food in general will do. ;)

Anything making you queasy or sick: I had my gestational diabetes test and the fluid they gave me to drink about made me hurl it was so sugary!

Gender: BOY!!

Labor Signs: nope! Still cookin’

Symptoms: exhaustion, charlie horses, etc.

Belly Button in or out? IN

Wedding rings on or off? on

Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy! Feeling good.

Looking forward to: seeing everyone at the baby shower this Sunday!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Finances: Part 2


It’s not that I was raised with bad financial examples. My parents are excellent with their money and provided a cushy lifestyle for my brother and me growing up. They’ve worked hard for every dollar they’ve ever earned and don’t have a single loan payment. They’ve always been firm believers in saving up and paying cash.

This is where I missed something in all of their wonderful examples, long lectures and supper discussions about money and my future. I didn’t listen when it came to the importance of saving. If I had any amount of $ you bet your sweet ass I was spending it on random, useless junk! I can’t think of one good thing I’ve spent my money on from back in my late high school/early college years. {Unless you count rum}. And, of course, I didn’t save a dime.

All this not saving and mindless spending brought me to my lowest financial point probably about 3-4 years ago. I was so broke I had to pay for tampons and gas with change I had scrounged from every possible nook and cranny. I waited until late at night to run to the gas station because I was so embarrassed. I remember dumping my $10 worth of change on the counter and apologizing to the cashier. She just smiled as she separated the coins and told me she had been where I was a few times in my life and it will get better.

This is where I slap myself for not listening to my parents. As I get older the more I realize how right they are! It’s so frustrating that I chose to figure it out for myself. Although, in life I believe everyone has to figure out hardships for themselves. For some, it’s finances they make terrible decisions about, for others it’s bad relationships - whether it be with false friends or the wrong spouse, etc. If you’re as lucky as me you were bad in the past with finances AND relationships AND a bunch of other random junk. Go us!

***A piece of advice coming from an experienced loud mouth, you should NOT- repeat - NOT say a word about someone else’s life decisions because they will get upset with you. So just nod and be supportive of their financial stupidity/crumbling relationships/whatever they are doing that’s dumb and just let them ride it out. Live and learn, if you will.

Anyways, I’m getting off track like a high school history teacher. Where was I? Ah! Not saving a dime of anything I’ve earned my entire adolescent life. I think when I left for college I was accustomed to a certain lifestyle and I had never had to save money or watch what I spent. Mom and dad made it cushy and I didn’t listen to a word they said about saving remember?

But suddenly 5 years rolls by and there I was 8 positive pregnancy tests later with still, no money saved up. Yup, pass the dunce cap and put me in the corner. So after the initial shock/excitement/etc. wore off I started to get frantic and began panicking about finances.

This is where my Pinterest, Google and Dave Ramsey obsession began…

To be continued…again…

Friday, July 20, 2012

Finances: Part 1

I feel like it’s been a long while since I’ve blogged just to blog! I’ve been filling up my page with weekly baby updates and that’s about it! To be honest, I am not even sure what I have/haven’t shared with you! Sheesh. I promise now that I’m feeling better after surgery I will blog regularly. J

I did let you know that Matt and I decided to wait to get married! We were scheduled for September of 2013 but the thought of being new parents, going to school, working, trying to lose some LOVELY l-b’s AND plan a wedding seemed SO unbelievably overwhelming. Doesn’t that sound like personal torture?!

We just have to do what’s best for our family. Marriage licenses aren’t going anywhere and I'm so relieved with this decision. I promise we’ll have to have a big sha-bang when the time comes. RUM FOR ALL!! J

Also, a huge shout out to my friends who were very supportive, understanding and kind about our decision. I love that they weren’t judgmental and understood where we were coming from.

On a different note, I have been PINNING the crap out of stuff on Pinterest. I would say my 3 favorite things to pin are crockpot recipes, financial organization ideas and homemade anything for holidays, beauty, furniture, etc.

Thanks to Pinterest I have recently given myself a budget makeover. Meaning, I started budgeting at all. I became intrigued with other family’s savings ideas and prior to being pregnant I literally just spent what I wanted, when I wanted without a real plan for the future. It’s embarrassing to admit but I know I’m not the only one that has spent my money mindlessly. In fact, I know of several middle age and older adults who still don’t have their finances in order because they didn’t learn or plan when they were young.

Becoming pregnant with little hammy really gave me a wake up call in several aspects of my life. I was picturing myself as a 36 year old (insert whatever occupation I’m in) with only $5.95 in my checking account, with no savings built up, driving a car I couldn’t afford and living way beyond my means. Doesn’t this sound like a lot of people you know?

This vision literally scared me half to death. I decided that my peers and elders who are living beyond their means with mountains of credit card/student loan debt were my driving force. I was ready to get my butt in gear and finish my Bachelor’s degree {back to school August 27th!} and to get myself prepared financially for my little family’s future.

To be continued….

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Girl's Gone Child: 27 Weeks

How far along? 27 weeks {28 today}
Total weight gain: 6 lbs but still –7 from my original start weight.

Maternity clothes? Pretty strictly maxi dresses in public and old lady night gowns – pants are uncomfortable!!

Stretch marks? Really starting to form around the belly button area. Red ones! All my stretch marks my entire life have been white so hoping they go white after baby is here.

Sleep: they say it should be harder to sleep in the 3
rd trimester but I’m exactly the opposite. I could sleep 14+ hours a night.

Best moment this week: Watching Matt enjoy feeling and seeing baby kick. I guess I’m so used to it but it’s a real treat for Matt since he doesn’t get to carry the little guy around all day and night.

Miss Anything? Having a normal body temperature!! I am SO HOT all the time.

Movement: All the time! Mostly mornings and nights…although, I’m thinking it’s because that’s when I’m just laying there and can feel him really kick ya know?
Food cravings: Not really any cravings just hungry 24/7.

Anything making you queasy or sick: not too bad!

Gender: BOY!!

Labor Signs: nope! Still cookin’

Symptoms: exhaustion, headaches/migraines, cookie monster.

Belly Button in or out? IN

Wedding rings on or off? on

Happy or Moody most of the time: MOODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amber from Teen Mom moody.

Looking forward to: seeing everyone at the baby shower!

Throwback Thursday. Gotta love the noodle hanging out of my mouth.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Girl's Gone Child: 26 Weeks

 My stepmom bought me a Mother-to-be crown and sash for my baby shower and I about died! So fun! Took a few too many pictures of myself in them because I adore them!

How far along? 26 weeks {27 tomorrow…}

Total weight gain: 8 lbs in like 2 weeks…whoops. 

Maternity clothes? Pretty strictly maxi dresses in public and athletic shorts at home.

Stretch marks? around my belly button.

Sleep: tired alllll the time!! My hemoglobin was at a 7.8 yesterday and the nurse was freaking out. I will have it checked again next week but if it’s the same or lower it’s blood transfusion time.

Best moment this week: My west river baby shower!!
J I love my family so much and they spoiled us rotten! My aunts were apparently calling each other trying to top the others gift. Haha! They may or may not have pinned me down so I would tell them the name…rascals.

Miss Anything? Not too bad. When I feel stressed I miss rum and substitute for Clear American Pina Colada flavored water…what a wonderful substitute right?

Movement: He loves to kick and Matt and I love to sit and watch my belly when he does! He’s so precious!!
Food cravings: you know that whole seafood diet quote? Yeah, well if I see food I eat it. Seafood diet.
Anything making you queasy or sick: migraines and the thought of my baby not making it into this world! I'm such a worry wart but you hear so many things about the cord wrapping around their neck or lungs not being developed or brain damage! This is exactly why I need rum.
Gender: BOY!!

Labor Signs: Braxton Hicks here and there (i think that's what they are..) but other than that no!

Symptoms: H.E.A.R.T.B.U.R.N.

Belly Button in or out? IN

Wedding rings on or off? on

Happy or Moody most of the time: sooooo happy!!!!
J I feel like I’m on cloud 9. I often wonder why God thought I was so worthy of all the beautiful people and gifts in my life. I am truly blessed.
Looking forward to: seeing everyone at the baby shower! J

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Girl's Gone Child: 25 Weeks

How far along? 25 weeks! 25 weeks and 3 days actually but once again I’m late on updating! J 

Total weight gain: Last Tuesday, I had gained ½ a pound but I haven’t weighed myself since.

Maternity clothes? Pretty strictly maxi dresses in public and athletic shorts at home.

Stretch marks? around my belly button.

Sleep: the sun and baby are making me tired! And hot!

Best moment this week: laying in my pool. Per picture below. It’s been hotter than hell here lately!

Miss Anything? Not too bad! I was sober at the street dance/5 year reunion yesterday and I still had fun! I told Matt that maybe it was a lesson that I may carry over after pregnancy and all he said was, “doubt it.” Haha! Such a pessimist or should I say a realist?

Movement: slowed down a tiny bit! Getting less and less room in there to move even though my surgeon told my family my uterus was one of the biggest he’s seen………..thanks?

Food cravings: FRIED CHICKEN!! 

Anything making you queasy or sick: the smell of hot bird shit and cigarettes. I’m really starting to hate Matt’s smoking habit (esp. since I bought him a $44 carton of cheapo grandpa cigs)….I told him he better quit or ELSE 

Gender: BOY!! My friend Bre says she hopes it comes out a girl because she’s wanted that to happen to someone she knows so bad! I just said, “screw you! I don’t want to have to re-buy shiz!”

Labor Signs: None…but having some back pain when I sit or stand too long which means late night back rubs from Matt J

Symptoms: tired, hot, crabby, etc.

Belly Button in or out? INNY

Wedding rings on or off? on

Happy or Moody most of the time: MOODY!!!!!!! OMG!!!!! SOOO MOODY!!! J   

Looking forward to: laying in my pool tomorrow, eating bomb pops and enjoying my “kiddie pack” of fireworks I bought for $6.95 (all the good stuff is in there..)

livin' it up straight redneck style.

aaaaaand me in a bathing suit...oh well, this momma has to cool off!

Wedding Update

Our wedding update is that we are no longer getting married next September. It was an easy decision actually based on what’s best for the needs of our soon-to-be family of 3. It was a hard decision, for me, based on what others would think. Matt has a level head though when it comes to things I get easily get worked up about and vice versa (maybe that’s why we’re soulmates??) and he just said, “don’t worry about what other people think it’s OUR life.” He’s completely right too….damn him ;)  

Anyways, the main and pretty much only reason is because I’m a college student. As a single mother I get more help financially to help pay for school. This may sound like a “pretty shitty” excuse but my child’s future depends on my education and my ability to have a good job. That’s about as simple as that.  

I guess when you become parent’s you see the importance of things in a whole new light. $50 marriage certificate + glitzy wedding or not I love Matthew more than anything and that I can say is the one thing that will never change. I’m so GLAD I have the support of my family, fiancé and friends that all agree that this is the best decision for our future lives together.  

And I will have that dream woodland wedding + kickass Disney bachelorette party someday....for now I’ll just pin about it J

{nude eyes. pink lips.}