Thursday, February 27, 2014

Habit #3: Put First Things First

So what is the best strategy to use when "Beginning with the End in Mind?" How do you know where to begin? How do you know that you will end up achieving your goal with the steps you might think are the ones to take? Quite simply, we can answer that question by looking ahead to the third (and final) habit of the first three Habits of Highly Effective People.

Just to reiterate, the first three habits are focused on the self as well as time management. These are also habits that can carry over to our spending patterns as well. The third of these three habits is "Put First Things First." Prioritize. List. Pick out the essentials and work towards the non-essentials. By using this method of pick and choose, we can get better use out of our time (and money).

In the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Steven Covey illustrates how this point works by using rocks. It goes like this: Get a bucket, collect rocks of different sizes, dropping each one into the bucket.  When the bucket is full, dump out the rocks. Now try putting the rocks back in. They won't all fit. Now try it again, only this time, start with the biggest rocks, and add smaller and smaller rocks until you're down to the pebbles. They all fit. If you put in the big items first, the smaller items will fill in the gaps between the bigger ones. But if you try putting in the rocks at random, there won't be enough room for them all to fit, even though they fit as you filled the bucket.

So, what are your big rocks? What are your small rocks? For me and my Fun Dollars this pay cycle, the big rocks were items that completed existing outfits. One of the biggest items on my big rock list was a new bra. I knew that no matter how put together my wardrobe ended up looking, I would still look frumpy in my saggy old nursing bras that no longer fit me. I needed to take care of the shape underneath the clothes before buying anything else new. So that found me at  Victoria's Secret for my first stop on my shopping day. Very judiciously, I tried on about seven different styles and sizes of bras. I finally found one that worked for what I needed and proudly presented my $10.00 off coupon I received in the mail for my birthday. $36.00 later, I felt like a new woman.

From top to bottom, I needed a new pair of pajama pants. This might not sound like a "big rock" to you, but for someone who has been sleeping in pajama pants two sizes too big, having a pair that fit my new figure made all the difference in the world. all but one pair of pajama pants I owned were from when I was pregnant, so I had to cinch up the drawstring a ridiculous amount, making the pants bunchy and frumpy. I have worked too hard to get my figure back to be frumpy at all, even lounging around the house at bedtime. That's when my husband sees me the most. I wanted to feel more put together than those pants looked. I knew that now is the optimal time to find cheap-but-cute pajama pants on clearance at a place called Old Navy. Sure enough, $7.00 later, I was the proud owner of pink plaid pajama pants that say, "I'm 32 years old, and I can still rock pink!"

The stop I made that day was at Target. I intended to only get essential non-food grocery items (toilet paper, zip loc bags, etc.) As I strolled through the aisles, enjoying the last bits of shopping day, I found myself in the shoe section and face to face with a delicious pair of silver flip flips. They even had rhinestones down the straps. Being the proactive shopper I was hoping to write about, I snatched up a pair of size 7. Why wait till spring? Having the right shoes to rock the summer wardrobe I wanted to build was the finishing touch. Without the right shoes, it didn't matter how awesome my clothing looks. The shoes complete the outfit. These were the shoes I needed to rock out all summer long. I happily spent $15.00 Fun Dollars (which is the most I have spent on a pair of flip flops that weren't for a wedding) on the silver pair.

And last but not least, I deferred to my wish list before leaving the store. The Starbucks near the entrance/exit had on display the perfect travel mug. At long last, I could now carry my coffee with me as I bolt out the door. Like the flip flops, it was more than I would have normally spent on a travel mug, but after looking online, and at every store I went to that day, I was satisfied with my decision. It did not feel reactive at all. It was more like love at first sight. When you know, you know....ya know? So sophisticated Starbucks mug cost me $13.00 Fun Dollars.

And maybe I'm over thinking it, and maybe I am just reacting to turning 32, but with each of these purchases, I thought to myself, "Is this something a 32-year-old would own?" And my answer was, "This 32-year-old will own it and rock it!"

You see, everything we purchase is a personal reflection. It mirrors something inside of us that we want to project into the world around us. That's also why I wanted to take some time to write about how the first three habits of highly effective people applies to spending. I want to be effective with my Fun Dollars. I want them to not only work for me at creating my personal projection, but I also want to support businesses and people that I think are worthy of my money. I want to slow down a little bit and really examine why and how I spend my Fun Dollars, and this is just one avenue for that. 

Bra at Victoria's Secret- $36.00
Pajama Pants at Old Navy- $7.00
Flip flops at Target- $15.00
Travel mug from Starbucks-$13.00

Balance this pay cycle- $4.00

Happy Spending!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Habit #2: Begin With the End in Mind

The Second of the Seven Habits (we will only cover the first three, as those are the ones that can also apply to money) is "Begin with the end in mind". Know what you want your desired outcome to be and link a path back to where you are. Knowing what you want your outcome to be gives you a direction and a strategy as opposed to trying things out that may not be applicable or helpful towards your end goal.

My "End in Mind" for this pay cycle was to dedicate as much of my Fun Dollars as I could towards a new wardrobe. I did not expect to spend all $100.00 on new clothes. That would not be practical or realistic. If I did that, I would end up making purchases because I felt like I "had to". Instead, I used a list and kept to it as much as possible. Another "End in Mind" for this pay cycle was to spend $0.00 on fast food. So far so good on that one.

On a smaller scale, my day out for shopping also needed an "End in Mind". My target for that day was to a) Not buy any fast food, even though I would be out of the house all day long; and b) Only make purchases that were things I needed, no impulse buys.

I began my day as soon as I dropped my son off at daycare. An hour later, I still had not left town. I found myself in the canyon at Indian Gardens, one of my favorite places to grab a bite when I have the time. I knew they had an amazing breakfast sandwich there that would keep me feeling full until mid afternoon. (I even left off the bacon this time and it was still delicious!) One Egg Sammie and a tip later, I was down $8.00 and ready to go shopping on a full stomach.

Sure enough, by mid-afternoon, I started to feel a little rumbly in my tumbly. I had to drop off some things for store credit at the used book store, so I decided to get a dirty chai, and an organic, locally made Zunchini loaf for Lily and me to split. That took another $7.00 out of my pocket. Supporting Local, Avoiding Fast Food. All day long, from one end of town to the other, I kept to my goal of not going to a drive-through/fast food place.

I also was very diligent about sticking to my list. Store after store with cute stuff, things I wanted, but didn't need I kept my head about me and bought nothing on impulse. I even put back a cute pair of shoes for Lily that were on clearance at Old Navy. She enjoyed toting them around the store, but in the end, I knew she wouldn't wear them. She hates hard-soled shoes. She acts like a cat with tin foil on her feet if I put them on her. That was probably the closest call to not sticking to my list.

Begin With the End in Mind. Know what you want, and strategize how to get it. What do you want to see happen, what is your desired outcome? What steps do you need to take to get there? Seeing the whole journey reduces distraction and increases your effectiveness and chances for success.

Breakfast Sammie at Indian Gardens (plus tip)- $8.00
Snacks at Bookman's (plus barista tip)- $7.00

Balance this pay cycle- $75.00

Happy Spending!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Be Proactive: Part 2

Retailers count on us buying reactively. They place sale signs where they are highly visible, they use bright orange tags to grab our attention, they tell us about how much we'll save if we buy just one more of something. It's up to us as the consumer to decide what really works for us. We are not really saving money on something if we don't need it, aren't going to use it, or just put it in storage until it's forgotten. In my case, last Tuesday, when I went out on the town with my Fun Dollars, I really had to put my blinders on. I went to seven different stores around Flagstaff in search of ONLY the items on my ongoing wish list.

I keep a list in the back of my day planner that's titled "I Want" List. Whenever I think of something that I could use, or need, or just want, I write it down. I can't always take immediate action to purchase something when I think about it. Sometimes, it's because I'm low on Fun Dollars, sometimes, I'm not near a store that has whatever it is I'm thinking about (Sedona has very limited options for shopping.) If I write it down, then I can reference it when I am out shopping in a bigger place, like I was in Flagstaff that day.

As I walked through each store, I saw so many things that I wanted. Cheap things, sale things, buy one get one things, cute things, useful things, all of which I could have reactively purchased, but didn't. In doing so, I ensured that I was getting the most out of my Fun Dollars. I didn't want to look back on a day of shopping and have a sinking feeling about what I purchased. I knew that if I stuck to the list, I would feel as though I had accomplished something.

*fast forward to the next day*

After a successful day of shopping, I came home with some things that I was glad to call mine. And after exercising every ounce of proactive-ness I had on my shopping day, I must have been running low, because I made a very reactive decision with my Fun Dollars. I answered the doorbell, thinking it might be the mailman or the UPS guy. It was neither. It was a wounded veteran. He was very smooth and like able. As the wife of a salesman I could see each step of the sale he was going through. Build report, assume the sale, on and on. Even though I knew where he was going with his schpeil, I still said yes to support his cause (sending care packages to troops who have not had anything sent from home in six months or more.) I have him my last ten Fun Dollars. I didn't feel bad about it, but it was a reactive decision. I didn't know how to say no, and I'm not sure I wanted to say no. Even if he was full of it (but I don't think he was, he was missing an eye, which he showed to Carrick.)

So after all that thought, care and planning, after all that effort to be proactive, I learned that it is an ongoing process. I am never done learning and practicing it. The more I do it, the better I'll become at it, but mastery is the journey itself.

Care package to Army Troops- $10.00

Balance this pay cycle- $90.00

Happy Spending!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pro-active V.S. Re-active

The most valuable lesson I learned from habit #1 of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is the lesson of emotional identification. Practicing the skill of proactivity has several facets, but the primary one is to shift your thinking from being Re-active to being "Response-able", or "Able to Respond". The difference lies in our thinking pattern. Being able to respond means that we are choosing our response to external stimuli.

Think about when you are driving through traffic on your way home from work. Someone cuts in front of you and they didn't use their turn signal. You quickly hit the brakes and yell, "Nice driving, dipwad!" (Or something else more colorful.) You have in no way hurt the person that cut you off. They didn't hear your words of anger, but your body definitely felt the effects of increased blood pressure and adrenaline surge from the outburst. This is an example of a reactionary scenario.

Now, in the same scenario, if the driver who was cut off doesn't burst out, but instead says something like, "They didn't use their turn signal," they are an example of being proactive. They chose their response rather than allowing the first emotion they felt to come tumbling out.

The reason that being proactive is something that is identified as a practice that is effective is because the person who uses a proactive approach to situations gets more out of them and at a lower personal cost. But how does this apply to Fun Dollars? This pay cycle, I am putting this concept to the test. There are many ways that I could use "Be Proactive" with spending, so I am just going to focus on my personal experiences with this concept to illustrate it.

For about three months now, I have been losing weight. I have been chasing around a newly-walking one-year-old as well as significantly reducing my wheat consumption. As a result, the clothes that fit me before I got pregnant are now saggy-baggy on me. Last week, at the end of the pay cycle, I was in the car with my husband and he made some comment about a shirt I was wearing. I burst out at him on a tirade about how stressed I was about my clothes and how half my closet is second-hand and doesn't fit me; it was a very reaction-based monologue. Afterwards, I apologized, realizing that I had acted very un-proactively. It was good to identify how I really felt about it, and on the flip side of the proactive coin, I needed to take action.

So, instead of feeling burdened by my baggy clothes, I decided to celebrate the opportunity to go shopping. My birthday was approaching, which meant birthday money from some family and friends. I decided to make the most of my Fun Dollars by coupling it with whatever birthday money I received to round out my wardrobe.

Knowing that this was my plan, I proactively went through my closet on Sunday, the day before we got the paycheck for this week's Fun Dollars. I tried everything on and my husband gave me thumbs up or down. I made piles of "Keep", "Donate", "Recycle" (for stained or ripped things that are sent overseas), "Maternity" (yes, there were still some stragglers) and "Sister" (stuff to be sent to my fabulous sister.) Now that I had an idea of what I was working with in my closet, I could now go shopping and be proactive about it. When making wardrobe decisions, I like to make sure I know what I am dealing with first. I do not like buying clothes blindly. I want every dollar I spend to make sense with what I already have.

My Shopping Escapade continues....stay tuned.....

Happy Spending!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Habit #1: Be Proactive

One of the most helpful books we have read as a couple has not been anything about how to make our marriage work, or how to have better sex, it was about how to manage our time. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Steven Covey has the best advice and "how to" about how to manage yourself as an individual. Management from this book comes from within, and from within you reap better results than by force or by chance. You become effective. The first three habits deal primarily with time management. There are other elements built in, but by far, they are time related.

How does this play into Fun Dollars? Think about it: What two things do most people in America wish they had more of? TIME and MONEY. In many cases, these two nouns go hand in hand and are hard to separate. Think about your job for a moment. This is what many people spend most of their day and life doing. They are actively trading their TIME for MONEY. Some people get more money for their time than others. But, no matter what your trade rate of time for money is, you can learn to manage both more effectively by applying the principles of The Seven Habits. In the next few pay cycles, I will be examining different ways that the first three habits apply to Fun Dollars, and money management in general.

The first Habit is to "Be Proactive". Dr. Covey explains that pro-active is the opposite of re-active. Proactive means you choose your responses to what happens in your environment in contrast to reacting. He talks about the word "response- able" meaning you are able to respond. You are given the gift of intelligent thought as a human being, so exercise this gift. You don't have to jump to the first "reaction" when things happen, stop and think about how you want to respond.

For me, one of the hardest lessons I have learned so far from blogging about Fun Dollars, is to be more proactive. Even though I exercise this lesson in my day-to-day life when dealing with common household issues (not perfectly, mind you, it's an ongoing growth process) I am still in the early stages of learning how to carry this over to my spending habits.

The biggest challenge is with food. Week after week, I give in to my rumbly stomach and get fast food (although last week I was much better about than I have been so far.) Or I didn't pack a snack for the kids and I run in somewhere to grab a snack to go. Not only and I reacting, and not choosing a response, I am not planning ahead. Planning ahead is the other half to "Be Proactive". Do things before they are needed instead of waiting until the last minute. If I know that my day will involve a library trip and a play date at the park, I can plan ahead and pack snacks from home. Taking it a step further, now that I know I want to be more proactive, I can build snacks into our grocery list just to save myself a trip (which is what I did yesterday.)

I always marvel at those moms who have snacks packed for their kids. I think to myself "How do you do it?" Food has historically been an afterthought for me. Now that I have two children who can eat solid foods, as well as children who are active outside the house (parks, library, gymnastics, etc.) it now becomes my "response"-ability to keep them fed on better things than chicken nuggets from McDonald's.

This week, I have many many many things planned that take us outside the home. Knowing this, I can plan ahead, and be proactive, about what we eat during these trips and how much of my Fun Dollars I spend on food.

Stay Tuned....

Happy Spending!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Taking Care of Business

My husband manages two galleries in Sedona, AZ. He is responsible for the hiring, training, firing, scheduling, networking, public appearances, in-home consultations and appointments. It's a lot to deal with, especially when he is given employees to train that go to sister stores in the company. Add in the fact that he is down one man due to a gallery opening in Wyoming, and he has almost more on his plate than he can chew.

In December, added to his list of responsibilities was a location change. In Sedona, there are two major shopping venues along hwy 179, otherwise known as The Gallery District. They are Tlapuepaque and Hillside. The lesser of the two is Hillside. It has seen declining numbers of foot traffic in the past couple years. My husband's boss decided to snatch up a second location at Tlaquepaue for the larger items they carry. It's not as big as the Hillside gallery, but it is much bigger than the existing location in Tlaquepaque.

The problem is now that between the two stores in Tlaquepaque, as well as the space in Hillside (their lease is up in May) the team is short-staffed. So this week, Corey asked me if I would just sit at the Hillside store (with our one-year-old in tow) just to have someone in there. I happily accepted the position. It may turn into a once-a-week thing, who knows? At any rate, I was there, in an empty store with an empty stomach.

I remembered Corey talking about the delicious chicken nachos from one of the restaurants at Hillside. I ordered a half order, and it was just enough. Lily ate the shredded chicken and tomatoes. I had the guacamole, beans, sour cream, and scallions. I had everything put on the side, which made it easy to share. With the Hillside employee discount, it was $7.00.

That night, since I had "been at work" I was not really in the mood to cook. When Corey got home, he surprised me with an early Valentine's Day dinner at the best place to eat in town. It also happens to be right around the corner from our house. We called ahead to see what the wait time would be since we were going out with both kids. They said they had tables open. Ten minutes later, we were seated and ordering margaritas. He said we could "splurge" and that it was "off the books, no fun dollars." That really put a smile on my face.

Juxtaposed to the gourmet Mexican food of Thursday night, We had Domino's pizza two night's before. I don't understand how we can spend so much at the grocery store and still have "no food" in the house. We have stuff, but none of it goes together (or at least I am not creative enough in the kitchen to make what we do have work together.) We used to do meal planning at out family meetings, but lately we have been doing bare-bones meetings that mostly are about schedules for the next week. There were even two weeks that we skipped the family meeting all together. These were tough weeks to get through.

I have found that we do better as a family, and have more success in the kitchen, when we do a full-on family meeting every week. The family meeting was something we started last year and have enjoyed tremendous success with. Each week we go over schedules for ourselves as well as the children. We create a meal plan, grocery shopping list and lastly we talk briefly about what we did well as a family and what we need to work on as a family from the past week. I don't really like spending my Fun Dollars on pizza just because we didn't plan well. This is something we need to work on as a family, getting back into the practice of a regular, full-scale family meeting.

And finally, my last $3.00 went to Taco Bell. I signed Carrick up for gymnastics again, so that dominates our Saturdays. He has several friends that go too, so I get to see their moms, whom I am also friends with. After class, the gymnastics center has two hours of open gym for $5.00!  After three hours of gymnastics, Carrick is exhausted, happy and hungry. So I let him get a bean burrito and a side of nacho cheese at Taco Bell since it's right next to the gym. Sometimes I get a pintos and cheese if I need a snack too.

This Saturday morning ritual will need some planning as well. Sometimes, us mamas like to go out to lunch (as mentioned in the post Delicious Dining) while we just have one child in tow. So I will need to start to earmark money for the weekend so I can enjoy these little mama outings. We are making our way through the cafes and eateries in Cottonwood and Old Town. Yesterday I used some birthday money (I turned 32 yesterday) to go out to Red Rooster. I enjoyed a half tuna sandwich and a giant iced tea. This meal was outside the Fun Dollars system because it was birthday cash.

Javelina Cantina Chicken Nachos with employee discount- $7.00
Domino's- $10.00
Taco Bell- $3.00

Balance this pay cycle- $2.00

Happy Spending!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Delicious Dining

On my wonderful Saturday spree of thrifty shopping, I grabbed a lunch with some friends. While Carrick played at open gym for gymnastics with his friends, two of their mothers met up with me at School House Restaurant in Cottonwood. This classy-yet-casual eatery is one of those places I've heard people talk about, but had never been to. Since I only had Lily with me, I felt adventurous to try something new.

When we got there, I couldn't believe how small it was. I was worried that the three younger children who would be joining on our dining experience would be too much for such a cozy atmosphere. My worries were soon soothed as I stepped through the tiny glass doors. It opened up to a dining room in front of me and another room for seating off to the right. The glossy wooden tables were seated with black leather chairs reminiscent of IKEA. It had a very bistro feel. All the way in the back was a long table with booth seating against the wall and three chairs with their backs to the dining room. We were sat there. The back wall was a chalkboard with a mural done in chalk of a world map. In the space where the oceans would be is where they listed their wine and beer selections.

I ordered a Hudoo Beer and their burger from the lunch menu. The beer was quite tasty, but was dwarfed in deliciousness by the burger. They served it on a toasted English Muffin spread with a mustardy mayo. As soon as the bite hit my tongue, I had to pause to take in the experience happening in my mouth. Not since the Sheridan Chophouse in Telluride have I had such a mouth-watering burger. I was sure to tell our server how much I enjoyed my meal.

As our lunch progressed, the three children (all 2 and younger) were starting to express their need for a nap. We quickly paid and left, as the small dining room was now filled with spectators to our trio in concert. Us three mamas hurried across town just in time to pick up our eldest from open gym.

I call a beer and a burger out with friends a success, no matter how loud the kids were.

Lunch at School House Restaurant (including tip)- $17.00

Balance this pay cycle-$22.00

Happy Spending!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Second Hand Score

I love checking out what's new at Goodwill. In Sedona, we have a new location that's bigger and carries a wider variety than what was offered at the old location. They turned their old store into their new donation center. They have a drive up for easy drop-off and are open 7 days a week. The store itself is next door, and now has room enough for furniture, bikes and home decor.

I went there with the kids on Thursday. I thought that running a full load of towels would be a good idea, and I consequently broke the dryer belt. *oops* I took the damp and obscenely heavy load to the laundromat to dry. I also took a load of my clothes to run. Everyone else in the family had enough clothes to last them until the dryer got fixed. So while my clothes were taking their turn in the giant public dryer, I took the kids around the corner to Goodwill.

Carrick found a Mr. and Jr. Potatohead as soon as we walked through the door. I found a small baby toy for Lily at the cost of $2.00. It's something new to add to the toy rotation.  At the video section, Carrick found a VHS of Winnie the Pooh. We are always on the look out for movies he can watch in his room. Next to the videos, I searched through the books. I didn't have to look far to find two true gems. There in the front of the stack was a hardback copy of The Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban. I could not pass them up at $3.00 each, and in such good condition. I figure it's never too early to start the kids their own Harry Potter collection.

                   Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban Lithograph on

So, my son decided to drop $6.00 of his Fun Dollars at Goodwill, and I was down $8.00

On Saturday, the quarterly clothing swap event was held in the next town over. There is a local mama's group on facebook, and we hold clothing swaps once a quarter. We all bring our gently used baby, kids, and mommy clothes to the designated meetup place, and then we stuff our bags full of whatever we want. Yesterday, it was a "Loaves and Fishes" kind of story. Every one left with as  much as they wanted, and there was still an ample amount of clothes left. They donate whatever is left over, so it does go to a good cause. I completely filled out my kids' wardrobes through to next fall completely for free. $0.00.

After the clothing swap, however, I went with one of my mama friends to a garage sale of yet another friend who lived right around the corner from where the swap was held. The friend having the garage sale is the owner (and designer of some things) at a chain of local clothing boutiques. She was emptying out her warehouse and everything was super cheap. Her husband was manning the checkout at the garage sale. He talked me into buying two pairs of MC Hammer pants. He suggested that I turn them upside down and cut a hole in the top, and turning them into shirts. I gotta say, as pants, they looked kinda funny, but as shirts, they totally rock! I also scored a pair of black leggings and two more VHS tapes for Carrick's collection (Land Before Time 5 and 7 if you're wondering.) All in all, I spent $12.00 at the garage sale. Not too shabby for a Saturday!

Before: MC Hammer Pants

After: Way Cool Shirt

So, for any of you out there reading this, go ahead and hit up you local thrift store, garage/yard sales, and maybe create some clothing swaps of your own. These are all fun ways to stretch your Fun Dollars and find some really cool treasures!

Goodwill toy and books- $8.00
Garage Sale Shirts, videos, and leggings- $12.00

Balance this pay cycle- $39.00

Happy Spending!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Sweet Stuff

As Valentine's Day approaches, I get more and more excited. With each day that passes, I fantasize more and more about spending an evening with my husband ( and possibly my children too, depending on the babysitter scene.) Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday. It also happens to be the day before my birthday. So every year, I get 48 hours of delightful celebration.

This year, I promised myself that I would buy a dozen red roses to enjoy before Valentine's Day. That means that $11.00 Fun Dollars went to the Safeway florist.

Speaking of Sweet Stuff, it's Girl Scout season in Sedona. That means that those yummy boxes of overpriced sugar are coming our way. I bought some from a friend whose daughter is in her second year of Brownies. I stopped by Walgreen's this afternoon to pick up a box of Thin Mints, Samoas, and the peanut butter patties. I am going to have to work extra hard to keep these away from the 5-year-old. I did share two peanut butter ones after I picked him up from school, so he knows they're about. 


Girl Scout Cookies- $12.00
A Dozen Red Roses- $11.00

Balance this pay cycle- $59.00

Happy Spending!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Kickoff a New Week

...And indeed I did! We attended a Super Bowl party on Sunday, and my hubby and I each put $5.00 into the pool. Since neither of us won anything, we are both down $5.00 Fun Dollars. This, however was a small price to pay for the gourmet food (the host is a personal chef) and the kid-friendly environment in which we gathered. There were at least a dozen children there ranging from 8 months to 11 years.

The following day (Monday) I chauffeured my half-sick husband around Prescott in search of food and catering accessories (including a glass beverage dispenser, you know, the kind they have at hotels with fruit slices in them. Even though my husband went to urgent care the day before and was told he had an intestinal virus, he still had to find everything on the list that his boss gave him. They were hosting a large event at the gallery the very next day, and what we needed was not available in town. So, after dropping our son off at school, we took our little girl with us over the hill to the metropolis that is Prescott.

While we were there, we literally had to drive all over town hunting down the specific items on his boss's list. Somewhere between mini forks that are plastic but look like silver and an hours d'ouvres stop at Trader Joe's, we decided it was time to eat lunch. My husband is someone who pays close attention to what he eats. Salads are his lunch of choice. But after a weekend of gastro-intestinal intensity, he just wanted some comfort food. Add to it chilly winds and snow, and we were headed to Cracker Barrel. $25 dollars later (which we split) we were back on our goose-hunt.

Now it's Wednesday, my husband is feeling better, thanks to the narcotics the urgent care guy gave him, and the event at the gallery went off without a hitch, I am now heading to the bank to cash and deposit this week's paycheck. I will take out $144. We each spent $13 at Cracker Barrel, since we round up. Even though the total was $25. If we split it down the middle and each pay $12.50, we have to round it up to the next whole dollar. So that makes it like we spent $26.00. Then, we each contributed $5.00 to the pool. So, we will each receive $82.00 Fun Dollars, and our son will get $10.00.

Lunch at Cracker Barrel- $13.00 (That includes the tip)
Super Bowl Pool- $5.00

Balance this pay cycle- $82.00

Happy Spending!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Getting Better

So, in my continual battle to avoid taking my Fun Dollars to fast food places, I am getting better at putting the blinders on. This pay cycle, I only spent $5 on fast food. This is a vast improvement from my previous spending behavior. I spent $2.00 at Wendy's on a chicken sandwich, and $3.00 at Burger King for a large hash brown, which I split with the kids.

I think $5.00 is going to be my new "allowance" within my allowance for fast food. It's probably not realistic for me to ban fast food all together. But what I can do is get better at planning when I do outings with the kids, create meal plans so that I'm not hungry and trying to invent food to cook, and always carry snacks.

And with that, I finish my two week cycle of Fun Dollars.

Chicken sandwich at Wendy's- $2.00
Hash browns at Burger King- $3.00

Balance this pay cycle-$0

Happy Spending!