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Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

Lately, I’ve been feeling stuck in the house.  That’s probably because I am literally stuck in the house.  Before we moved to Springfield, we got rid of our second car for a variety of reasons.  It was getting older; it didn’t easily fit a car seat, so we never took Frankie out in it; our new apartment only has one parking space; with me staying home, a second car wasn’t a necessity; and – the biggie – we wanted to save money.

Now, I agree with all of the statements above.  Heck, I think I even argued for those statements above.  But fast forward 6 months later, and I’m stuck in the house in the middle of winter and longing to walk around the mall or Target or the library or any place other than my living room.  Yup, I’m that stay-at-home mom. 

(I just realized that the savings with just one car extend beyond just insurance and gas; add my incessant Target shopping habit.  Why is it that you can enter Target for one thing and then leave with $100 worth of stuff you don’t need?  Target is a marketing genius: make everything just cheap enough and just stylish enough that it leaves the customer begging for more.  Oh Target, you devilish big box store, you).

Having just one car is probably one of the most eco-friendly things we can do as a family, however, and I do have to say that, despite the suckage aspect, I am proud of our decision.  Here’s a few tips I’ve come up with for others who are thinking of ditching the second car:

  • Plan, plan, plan ahead.  It’s not like I never get the car; but during the week, I have to drive hubby to work and pick him up in order to get it.  Right now, he’s schedule on Wednesdays and Thursdays doesn’t allow for it (he’s teaching day and night classes, so I would have to pick him up after Frankie’s bedtime, which wouldn’t make anyone in this family happy).  But I have way more access to the car on other days, and luckily he won’t be teaching at night every semester.  But these things need to be planned.  For instance, on the Tuesdays that I go to MOPS, I have to make sure that all 3 of us are up, dressed, feed, and ready to go by 8:30 am at the latest, and I need to make sure that I pick up hubby at the magical time of after nap time/before dinner/during rush hour and allow enough time to get home and make dinner before my two boys become ravenous beasts.  Just writing all that out exhausted me.
  • Do your errands all together.  To save time and gas, I try to make one day “errand day” (minus grocery day, which is Monday morning and takes forever – don’t ask). 
  • Order stuff online.  If you can’t get to Target, then bring Target to your living room!  Or Amazon!  Or any number of wonderful free shipping websites!  Don’t you just love exclamation points!  Sometimes things can be cheaper online – I order our disposable diapers (used for traveling and poo-related emergencies – again, don’t ask) through Amazon mom, and not only are they cheaper, they literally arrive in less than 24 hours. 
  • Live in a convenient location.  Hubby and I talk about this all the time.  Chalk it up to the few years we lived in the city, but we like to walk to stores and activities.  It’s a novel concept in the suburbs, but it really shouldn’t be.  Right now, we live within walking distance of a few places, such as restaurants, a video store, a bowling alley (not exactly baby friendly, but we plan to check it out someday), a park, and, if you go a little further, a couple of stores.  I’ve even walked to drop off our rent check.  Most subdivisions and suburbs are set up so you CAN’T walk anywhere, but if you plan it right, you can live within walking distance to the library, schools, and other locations.
  • Buy a bike.  OK, I have a confession to make: I am quite possibly the only eco-friendly person out there who doesn’t own a bike.  Forgive me Greenpeace, for I have sinned.  We’ve just been too broke to consider the purchase in the past.  But now that I’m sans second car, it’s looking more and more attractive. 
  • Take the bus.  Easier said than done in some areas, but here in Springfield, there’s a bus that goes down our street every day, all day.  I haven’t mustered up the courage yet to try it out, mostly because I’m afraid of how it’ll go with a two year old.  But one of these days, I’ll force hubby to take a ride for me and figure things out.  It might just be my ticket of stay-at-home boredom.

Of course, this is a huge sacrifice on our parts, and I will admit, it sucks.  A lot sometimes.  Like the time a bunch of my friends got together at the park and invited me and I had to say no because Tony was in Chicago at the time with the car?  Yeah, that day sucked.  But then I remember the money we’re saving, coupled with the fact that we actually can’t afford another car right now, nor do we need one, and I move on.  You can always come visit me, right?  Right?  Guys?

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My confession…

I have a confession to make.  I actually have a very good reason for wanting to save money.  I actually NEED to save money.  Because…

I HAVE A NEW JOB!!!

(one that doesn’t pay as much)

Ahem.  Let me explain.  I took a very nice, as-long-as-I-could maternity leave (3 months) after Frankie was born, and during that time, I realized two things. 1) I wanted to be with my beautiful new baby as much as I could and 2) I really didn’t like my job.  I wasn’t crazy about my job before my leave, but after taking a step back, I realized that I REALLY didn’t like my job.  I don’t want to go into all the details, but in essence, the atmostphere where I worked was way too corporate for this tree-hugging liberal.

Anyways, unfortunately, I had to go back to work because, with hubby in grad school, I am the current breadwinner.  There were a lot of tears and a lot of bickering in our house because of it, and hubby and I decided that the very best thing to do is for me to find a better job – part-time, if possible.  So, long story short, I returned to my current job but started applying to other libraries (I’m a librarian, remember?) and as of two days ago, I received the news that I got one of those jobs (and, I must add, the one I wanted the most!).

I am beyond excited about this new opportunity, in a local public library, but it does mean a paycut.  Why, you may ask, would a normally sane and logical person such as myself decide to take a paycut in the middle of a recession?

I asked myself the same question.  However, despite my poverty, there are things more important. Like personal happiness.  Spending time with babies while they are still babies.  Having a happier marriage.  You know, the things money can’t buy?  Yes, it is a paycut, but it also less hours, less of a commute, more library experience, working for the common good in a non-profit setting…many things that I value over a paycheck.

HOWEVER, this does mean that saving green is key to our, well, survival.  I HAVE to make changes.  I HAVE to save money.  We can make ends meet, but it will be tight.  Now you know the sudden shift of this blog from environment to finances?  You can see what’s been on my mind lately.  But it’s totally worth it.

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It’s also all about the benjamins.  Of which I have little.

Yesterday, I posted about wanting to save energy and money on our utilities.  Part of this is, of course, to help save our lovely planet, which I love.  But a more pressing reason is that we’re broke.  Well, not officially broke, but certainly low on funds.

I’ve always been keenly aware of where our money goes.  We’re not the kinds of people who are broke because we are addicted to collecting worthless crap things; on the contrary, we’re poor out of choice.  Sure, my husband and I could have gone into business or law school, taken the path of least resistance, and be making tons more money.  But we didn’t do that.  We took the harder route of grad school and having jobs that we love, with the knowledge that life would be poor and harder at first, but would get better with age (especially around middle-age, when most people who took any-old job in order to make money fast are miserable and we’re happy in our fulfilling careers).  Unfortunately, these jobs that we love don’t exactly pay off the student loans we took out in order to have the jobs that we love.  Whoops.

This isn’t a post of complaint or anything, just an acknowledgment that we need to stay on budget and find creative ways to save dough.  And when I put my ambition out there for the blogging world to see, well then, I just may be held more accountable.

When looking at our budget (yes, we have a spreadsheet-based budget – I am a librarian after all, people), there are certain areas where we can’t save money or change the monthly amount – loans, insurance, etc.  But there are a lot of areas for improvement, such as utilities, food, extras, etc.

I’m actually excited about the prospect.  I see saving money and squeaking by on little (while maintaining my ambition to be green and natural) to be a competitive challenge, almost like I’m standing up to my finances and saying “Is that all you’ve got?  Please, I eat bills like you for breakfast.”  I know it will be hard to stay green in some areas (good-bye $10 organic chicken!), but I’m up for the challenge.  Are you with me?

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