Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mind blowing news!

It has officially been one month since I last chewed my nails.

Pretty sure I would throw a party to celebrate this important milestone but we're doing this whole save money thing soooooo......

Maybe I''ll get a tattoo? Of what though? A nail biter? A plaque that reads "one bad habit cured every 30 years"?

Scratch that.

Maybe I''ll just pat myself on the back :)

Now, instead of biting my nails I peel my nail polish. It's great fun but probably not great on the nails. Oh well, you win some you lose some. I like to make it a game to see if I can peel it in one piece. My boys like to wear the polish peels like they're fake nails. Someday pictures of this will come in handy.

Minorly obsessed with glitter nail polish. No, I did not just turn 5. I have rules to keep it classy. It needs to have large glitter pieces, be multi colored and cost less than $4. I even googled glitter polish to learn the tips and tricks. This led to me making my first ever purchase of black nail polish. Soooooo rebel right?

But, lest my head get to big with my newly acquired nail skillz, my sister jumped on the glitter bandwagon and is in an all out war to outdo me. She's much more dedicated than me and has a lot more free time/less gross things boys do and have that ruin nails so I'm sure it's a fair fight.

Now what to do about my husband? He's a nailbiter too and glitter does not become him.

The "family plan" - part 1

I'm sure you've all been waiting with baited breath to hear the nitty gritty details of the grand, amazing and somewhat fantastical "family plan" that I have been hinting about on Facebook for the last month. If we're not Facebook friends than you can thank me now for not giving you baited breath. It sounds gross.

Here's the deal. A couple of big things happened this summer:

1. My mother-in-law returned from Europe with a plan to get us all (all - as in our family. Our family - as in my sister in law and her husband and my brother in law and his family plus our crew) to go to Europe next year. I'm not sure if it will work out or not but it's definitely leaning towards yes.  Europe is not next door neighbors with Hawaii so we have some serious money to save if it's going to stay in our realm of possibility. So part 1 of our plan became save $, lots and lots of $. I figure if Europe doesn't work out we'll have at least saved enough for an awesome vacation here in the old US of A.

2. I read a book: Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlementand it got me thinking. One of the main things that I got out of it was that we need to prepare our kids to become adults. I do a lot for my boys because its just easier but that is really doing a disservice to them. So, I took a few things from her book and added them to the family plan. Most importantly, chores and having a monthly focus.

3. I am finally trying to get back on track of taking care of myself. In order to do this my family has to give me some time to myself and make some changes because I can't "go healthy" all alone. 1.5 yrs ago I was on track and had lost almost 30 lbs. My parents split up and my father in law got a tumor and died suddenly and my world shattered. I completely gave up all focus on me and it has taken me longer than anticipated to get back where I needed to be mentally. Lucky for me life is full of do-overs so I will live, learn and try again. Still not sure where I am mentally (it's always been questionable) but time (and hopefully my pants size) will tell soon enough.

August 1st marked the day we began our grand plan. The month of August was simple and straightforward.

August Focus - Work together as a family 

GOAL #1: Save Money.
There would be no spending money on anything not 100% necessary. I budgeted $100 a week for groceries and $200 for household expenses for the month and then all of our regular boring bills. Our boys are now responsible for earning their own money and purchasing anything they want. We only supply needs.

RESULTS: Better than expected.
The hardest part of this was no going out to eat. We eat out way to often for convenience/laziness sake. I do not like to cook so we ate a lot of sandwiches.

Going to have to work on that.

Don't worry, I pinned all kinds of beautiful meal planning ideas on Pinterest, just couldn't muster the energy to try any of them. One more PB & J meal and I'll be there, I'm sure of it.

Alongside this was the fact that we all had to make home lunch every day.

They all thought I was going to make the lunches.


You'd think they know me better by now!

My husband had the hardest time, going out to lunch is sometimes part of his work and I know he felt a little left out eating by himself in the break room. My sons mostly rocked at making lunches. We've been learning the 5 food groups for well over a year and they know how to pack a balanced meal. We had a few randoms thrown in like when Larry packed a pound of plain cold spaghetti noodles as his lunch but mostly I was proud of them (please note that I work at their school so it was extra embarassing when everyone saw his lunch. Also extra motivating for me to not let it happen again). We found that we just didnt get around to packing them the night before so we started getting up earlier in the morning to make it happen. We also discovered that we cant get that organized on Mondays so the boys all got a pass to have school lunch every Monday. With the 3 boys eating breakfast at school, milk every day at lunch and lunch every Monday it added another $120 to our food bill for the month.

We had a lot of unplanned expenses so it was sort of a win/lose month over all. We saved a lot, like a lot! But, we spent all but a couple hundred on the unexpected expenses. At least we didnt add debt right? :) I was surprised to find how much my boys ask for and loved being able to say yes to long as they had their own money to spend :) It was one of those rare moments where you get to be nicely evil :) Turns out I LOVE/NEED to shop so this month was hard for me. I tweaked the household budget to buy a few things that were wants and felt very guilty afterwards. Luckily I needed to shop quite a bit for work this month so the shopping beast inside of me was soothed momentarily. It may eat me alive in September.

GOAL #2: Chores.
The boys all received laminated chore lists with morning chores, nighttime chores and weekend chores (Moes had pictures since he doesn't read yet). I would take pictures but they are all sleeping and if they wake up I have to deal with it so that's not going to happen.

At the beginning of the month they each received a mason jar with $30. Every morning I checked their rooms and if the chores were done they got to keep their dollar for the day. If not, they lost the dollar. They could not have the money until the end of the month. There was also a list of approximately 30 chores that could be done daily to earn immediate money ranging in amounts from $.50 - $5.00.

Their chores were mostly basic stuff like get dressed, brush your teeth, make your bed, feed pets, take pets outside, pick up bathroom floor, empty trash etc... The weekend chores were harder because they have more time and included things like wash, dry and put clean bedding on your bed, sort dirty laundry, put clean laundry away, wash windows/mirrors in your bedroom and a few others. There was no real punishment or reward for these I just wanted them to learn how to do them.

RESULTS: Mixed. Very mixed.
I thought the immediate $ chore list idea would get pounced on but it seemed to only get used under duress or when threatened. They also quickly remembered the power of 3 and did the least amount of work possible and pooled money whenever they wanted something.

Yesterday the boys excitedly counted their wait til the end of the month $. Larry had $11, Curly had $15 and Moe had $12. I forgot to check some days and had a really hard day being the policeman. It seemed to get a lot easier for them in the last week of the month and I think they're finally getting the hang/routine of it. Their rooms are no longer stinky and I can see the floor at all times. We'll fine tune as we go and count this in the win category. It turned out that we either don't have enough time in our day or waste too much time, either way it was almost impossible to ever get everything done in a day.

GOAL #3: Fitness
This one was simple. Eat better. Exercise more. Do more family fit activities. We had reached near negative levels in these areas so everything was bound to be a win.

I haven't stepped on the scale yet but no McDonalds has to have helped a little (although the Costco size bag a gummy bears probably didn't). We managed one family fitness outing to the track and it will go down in history as a magical moment for me, an entertaining moment for my boys, and pure torture for my husband.

We'll look into other family fitness options.

I finally joined the gym.

I have flip flopped on this idea for years and hate the idea of paying for something I could get for free. That being said, I won't let the money be wasted and I have done my cost/benefit analysis and determined that anything less than 3 days a week is unacceptable.

I was very lucky to find a workout buddy that finishes work at noon like I do and can listen to me talk forever (she has a lot of patience!) so we've been doing pretty good at getting an hour of cardio in every Tuesday and Thursday. I have been walking the pool while my boys swim for about an hour once or twice a week as well. I like super awesome doing this ridiculous energy so thats always a plus.

I tried going to work out by myself and hated it. Gotta put my big girl pants on and try that again at some point but for now I am avoiding it. No courage to take a class etc... and still need to try out the childcare option but even this slow start is better than the sitting I was doing.

Taught (I use this term very very loosely) Moe how to ride a bike which provided several days of back breaking exercise for both of us. He's halfway there and has finally stopped crying every time he sees a bike so I envision mile long family rides in our near future. Planning to train with Larry for Valley Isle Roadrunner races but haven't started yet.

CONCLUSION: Now you know the grand plan. Go clean up your baited breath.

August was bumpy but there were glimmers of hope. We had a family meeting this week to discuss our results and tweak for the next month. I have more to share on the not eating out and not spending $ but I'm saving it all up in my head to hopefully use it as guest posts on my friends blog (how's that for putting her on the spot?)

Stay tuned for The "family plan" - part 2 at the end of August.