Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Girl" Stuff

I can't hide it, I can't fake it. Kit Kats and Reese's Peanut Butter cups were $.49 at Walgreen's, so I bought two of each, and, yes, I ate all of them. Sugar, chocolate, GMO crap....yes...I know.....

I also bought a pair of pink sparkle croc-like sandals for Lily. They were on summer clearance for $1.79. She already owns a lavender pair that's identical to the ones I bought her. I'm not sure if its cute, or if I should start being concerned that this girl who isn't even two yet has a shoe fetish.

I did not go to Walgreen's for chocolate or shoes, I went there for another feminine product...makeup. Over the summer, my makeup habits, which used to border on obsessive, were dialed down a notch. I used to rarely leave the house without eyebrows and mascara painted on. Now, I'm lucky if I think about running a brush through my hair. I just pop on my zebra fedora and leave.

I feel more comfortable in my skin than I ever have before. I feel like a wine that has sat on the shelf long enough to be uncorked. I like who I am, and what I look like, I don't need to hide behind makeup on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong, I have never struggled with self-esteem issues, or hated the person I see in the mirror. Quite the contrary, I loved the person in the mirror so much that I wanted to look at her all the time...especially if she had makeup on.

Over the years, I accumulated a well-rounded collection of makeup. Most recently, I had been focusing my spending on Mary Kay products. I liked the customer service that came with ordering from a consultant, as well as trying out all the samples before buying. But over the summer, tiny little fingers found themselves in my Mary Kay stash. One by one my lipsticks became finger paints, and at $18.00 a pop, I was not about to replace them. Slowly but surely, my makeup collection dwindled from pageant-ready to pauper. Well, maybe not totally pauper, more like "Mom has more important things to do besides sit at her vanity putting on makeup."

So, the time had finally come to restock some of what Lily destroyed this summer. Basically I have some blush and mascara left, and an almost-stub of my favorite eyebrow pencil. I decided that the new cosmetic line at Walgreen's, No.7, was a good middle-ground for makeup; it's not as expensive as Mary Kay, but it's not Cover Girl, either. Also, there is always a trained No. 7 consultant available to help sample and try on colors before buying, one of the reasons I was so loyal to Mary Kay.

But when I arrived at Walgreen's, ready to spend, the No. 7 consultant was no where to be seen. Instead, there was a new Walgreen's employee who clearly needed a few lessons in customer service. I looked at several different products while waiting for her to at least say "hi" to me. Then when she finally got around to acknowledging me, it turned out they were all out of stock of the few products I was looking at. (Let it be known that the No.7 lady is not a Walgreen's employee. She is hired by the makeup line to sell their product, which is why she is so knowledgeable. This woman who was "helping" me was an employee of the store, and clearly had no idea what was going on.) I left there with no makeup, and 4 candy bars and a pair of pink sparkle sandals that had already found their way onto Lily's feet.

So, back to my confession about chocolate: Mama just needed some. I might need to make a maca powder shake today instead of eating more chocolate. You know, "girl" stuff.

Kit Kats and Reese's Peatnut Butter Cups and Sandals at Walgreen's- $4.00
Balance this pay cycle- $96.00
Happy Spending!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Little Extra Money, Little Less Time.

Scheduling time has become essential now that I go to work three days a week. I find myself running around a bit more, using my time outside the home more strategically. This week I ran into the grocery store for a bottle of water and a coconut water on my way to work, spending $5.00 Fun Dollars. I have noticed that my time with friends has become more limited now that I work. I noticed I don't have the luxury of just sending someone a text to meet up. My time is more scheduled.

One of these people who receives more scheduled hang out time happens to be my bestie. She lives out in the Village of Oak Creek. Even though this is technically Sedona, it is still a 15 minute drive from her house to mine. It doesn't seem like much, but it means we don't spontaneously hang out much anymore. We have to actually schedule time together.

Another of my dear friends move out to Page Springs this summer. Since she is single with no children, and both my sister and Corey's sister live out of state, this friend has become more like an "Auntie" for our kids. She invites us all to her "villa" as I call it, overlooking a vineyard, about 10 miles outside Sedona. We have her over regularly for dinner at our house too. We love her dearly, but all of our time is scheduled hang out time since she no longer lives in town.

There are several other people like this, but the one I want to share about today lives in Clarkdale. This historic town at the base of Mingus Mountain provided all the smelting services for the copper mined in Jerome in the early 1900's. Many of the houses in Clarkdale are quaint little bungalows. She lives in one such bungalow. Her house is reminiscent of Mother Earth meets 30's chic. Her essence when we hang out evokes these same qualities. I feel like I am back in a simpler time, when we meet up. Her Mother Earthiness gives our hang out time a refreshing feeling as well. It's good to have friends like that, who leave you feeling like you just took your first breath of air in a long time.

She and I met up at Red Rooster Cafe in Old Town Cottonwood, just down the street from Clarkdale. I took my Wednesday and arranged for some hang out time with this friend. I had $8.00 left in my Fun Dollars bank for the pay cycle, and I knew it would not be enough to enjoy breakfast the way I wanted. So I sold some baby stuff online this weekend and carried with me a $20.00. I was glad I had the forethought to do this. I really really didn't want to cheat on this one. I could have waited until next pay cycle, but my friend's only day off that coincides with my days off now is Wednesday. Even then, her Wednesdays are only every other week. So it was either meet up this Wednesday or wait another month.

When people who are significant to you it is sometimes hard to wait to see them. Urgency takes over because you know how enjoyable your time can really be. So, I chose to take a chance and schedule our meetup for this (past) Wednesday and hope that more Fun Dollars would come my way, and they did. I enjoyed an egg and goat cheese croissant and a "Grown Up Drink" from the menu; Champagne and St. Germaine Elderflower Liquer with homemade strawberry jam swirled in. I ordered Lily a single pancake, which I ended up eating. She was more interested in the crackers I brought for her "just in case".

After sitting at Red Rooster for an hour talking, we spent another hour walking around Old Town Cottonwood, pushing Lily in the stroller, and talking, talking, talking. She helped me work through some things, and I gave her a listening ear for her life's adventures. We each had our own lives to return to, but I was grateful for the time I was able to spend with this very dear friend.

Breakfast at Red Rooster Cafe in Old Town- $8.00 (plus $8.00 extra Fun Dollars I earned from selling our old baby stuff.)

Balance this pay cycle- $0.00

Monday, September 22, 2014


All year, every entry in this online journal of mine has expressed some sort of choice I have made.  I remind myself every time I sit down to write that where my money is spent, who I buy for and what I support is purely the product of my own choices. No one tells me how to spend my Fun Dollars. No one is looking over my shoulder to make sure I make "the right decision". It's just me and my own free will taking charge.

Last week, I came close to be told how to spend my Fun Dollars. I made a big deal to Corey about him not wanting to support the school fund raiser because it was with Domino's. "But Carrick's class will get a pizza party if they win!" I was a bit incredulous that Corey wouldn't just buy a pizza and that it had to be with Fun Dollars. In the end, he did order a pizza and said that if I wanted to contribute to half, I was free to do so.

This has happened a handful of times before. (Part of it is me being naive, thinking that going out to eat an extra time is somehow magically part of our family budget.) We would go to a restaurant, enjoy a good meal, and when the bill comes, Corey would say, "Do you have any Fun Dollars?" Seriously? Either he needed to be clearer about financial expectations before we dined out, or I needed to lie and say, "Sorry, all out of Fun Dollars."

Since I am the world's most terrible liar, I wouldn't dream of saying such a thing. After a few times of this happening, though, I wizened up a little bit and started beating him to the punch.

"Want to go to Szechuan tonight?" he would ask.
"I'm not using my Fun Dollars," I would reply.

Sometimes this would work. I would tell him I already had plans for my Fun Dollars that did not include a trip to Szechuan, or wherever he wanted to go for dinner. He would want to go there anyway, and end up paying for the entire meal.

Other times, he would not feel like dishing out enough Fun Dollars to take the whole family out, so we would just stay home and make a nice meal together. It was never a big deal, just the result of both of us being honest about our choices.

After last week, I had $8.00 Fun Dollars left in this pay cycle. I would have $46.00 if I had not chosen to start my Christmas Countdown. No one said I had to pay for part of Christmas this year. But I want to, I choose to. I have dreamed about this all year long, believe it or not. I have had this idea for several years now, but since I didn't have a job until just recently, "my money" was only my Fun Dollars. Last year, I was not mature enough with my relationship with money to spend so generously on other people. So here I am, 9 months into Fun Dollars reporting, perfectly happy and excited to share this gift with others.

So, if all of these purchases are my choice, and no one is telling me "I must spend on Christmas," why the hell was I so jealous of Corey's purchase of Angry Orchard Variety 12 pack????

I fumed inside all afternoon yesterday while Corey sat in the bathtub, sipping endlessly on his crisp hard apple ciders. He offered to split me on them after he bought them, but my last $8.00 couldn't go towards alcohol; that's not what I had planned for my Fun Dollars. He even said I could exchange for the bottles, like give him a foot rub, or a scalp massage. But you know what? My pride and indignation got the better of me. I was furious that he wouldn't just openly share his purchase with me. Why? It was his choice to buy them, and my choice not to contribute.

Sometimes our choices back us into a corner. Sometimes our choices reveal more about us than what we wish to know. Choices are like little mirrors, held up for us to see ourselves more clearly. What do your choices look like? What do you eat? What kind of car do you drive? How clean is your house? How happy is your marriage? Seriously....all of these things are the product of your choices. They are extensions of the things you place value on and give attention to. No one is perfect, but using the choices you've made to examine parts of yourself can be a very powerful tool.

I think the reason I was so angry about Corey and his delicious hard cider, was the fact that I couldn't cheat. I had made the choice to be honest about my spending this year. He made no such commitment. I could easily have given him the $7.00 to pay for my half of the case, but then I wouldn't have as much spending money for my trip to Cottonwood this week. I sold one of the four sand boxes the kids have this weekend, and planned a girl's day out with the rest of my Fun Dollars and the proceeds from the sand box sale. A Girl's Day Out is an experience that I value, more so than a few bottles of Angry Orchard. This was my choice.

In the end, Corey asked me "Are you acting pissy for a reason?" I gushed out with my feelings of jealousy and disappointment that he spent all afternoon on our day off together in the bathtub. He offered me one of his hard cider bottles. That's all I really wanted in the first place. I didn't need half of them, I just wanted to sit on the porch with the man I love, sippin' on some cold hard cider. That's what I chose, and that's what I got.

Domino's Split with Corey- $5.00
Balance this pay cycle- $13.00
Happy Spending!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mommy Daughter Time

Mondays and Wednesdays are now my days at home with Lily. I work Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, dropping her off at daycare on those days. While I really appreciate the time I spend at work, talking with other adults, being creative and earning money, I still relish my days alone with Lily. She is still so young and so sweet. I truly cherish each and every moment with her.

On Mondays, I schedule very little for myself. It's my day to do all the laundry and clean the house for the coming week. So far, my plan has worked. Our house stayed 80% clean with only minimal effort throughout the week. Lily follows me around the house, pretending to sweep, "helping" with the laundry, and reminding me to take breaks by asking to nurse.

This past Monday, I had a few errands to run. I had to drop off the dry cleaning, fill the car up with gas, pick up groceries, and return some over due library material. On the way to the library, I heard Lily shouting from the back seat. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw her pointing to her open mouth. "You want some num-nums?" I asked? She smiled and nodded her head, delighted that I understood her.

I could have gone home to make something, but I still had to pick up the groceries. I also didn't want to make a kitchen mess on my already full day of cleaning. Since Safeway was part of my errands list, I pulled into the plaza and parked next to Cafe Jose. Lily and I shared brunch together.

I look forward to eating out with Lily regularly. She tends to be more squirly at a restaurant if Carrick is there with her. Carrick behaves just fine, but there's something about him being there that sets Lily off. She crawls under the table, shouts, and throws food more when he's around. So this is time that I get to eat out with my little girl without her acting like a banshee. I used to do this with Carrick when he was younger. It's nice to carry on the tradition.

Lunch out at Cafe Jose- $14.00 with tip
Balance this pay cycle- $18.00
Happy Spending!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Christmas Shopping- Uptown Sedona

 As a local, I do not go to Uptown Seodna that often. Few locals make the trip into Uptown, unless they are trick-or-treating on Halloween, or watching the St. Patrick's Day parade down Jordan Road. It tends to be crowded and serves as the tourist center for the town. It sits at the northern edge of Sedona, greeting you as you enter town heading south on 89A.

Beginning in Flagstaff 89A starts out with 7 miles of Ponderosa Pine forest. The Coconino National Forest is actually the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the world. At what seems like the edge of this forest, you suddenly descend downward on switchbacks. The elevation changes about 1,000 ft in a matter of miles. It can be intimidating the first time you go down into Oak Creek Canyon on 89A; intimidating, yet breath taking. The pine forest rises above you, and slowly, the deciduous trees take over. Leaving the Colorado Plateau behind you, Oak Creek Canyon opens its arms wide in greeting.

The scenic drive winds down through the canyon. With so many twists and turns, you might begin to wonder if you will ever get to Sedona. But then, Cathedral Rock can be viewed in the distance, framed on both sides by rocks much closer, and then it's gone. You know you must be close. About a minute later, you come to the edge of civilization; the Sedona City Limits, Uptown Sedona.

Tourists, shops, cafes, psychics, art galleries, jeep tours and trolleys all vie for space in this cramped, scenic and historic part of town. Sometimes, it gets so crowded that traffic backs up into the canyon. With only two lanes to satisfy traffic, the cars can pile up several miles back on holiday weekends.

But on a cool and cloudy Wednesday in September, there is ample room for parking and shopping in Uptown Sedona. Uptown looks like a remnant from the days of the Wild West. The restaurant known as the Cowboy Club used to be one of those old-timey saloons. Many of the buildings here still boast the old architecture from when this town was young. While there are newer additions, much of this area keeps its historic grandeur.

One of the newer-looking areas in Uptown is the Sinagua Plaza. I went to the Sinagua Plaza several weeks ago with my parents when they were in town. We all decided to "play tourist".  It had been almost a year since I had shopped in these stores, and I was surprised to see that the chocolate shop had closed. It had been replaced by a store called, "Little Tibet". How fitting, since the Colorado Plateau, which lies to the north, is the second largest plateau in the world only to the Tibetan Plateau.

When I went into this store with my mom, I came across something that I knew had to be a Christmas present. I saw something that shouted "This is my sister-in-law", without question. I've had this gift on my mind ever since then. So to kick off my Christmas Countdown, I went straight to Little Tibet, and bought her this present.

Since Carrick was in school, it was just Lily and me out shopping. I didn't just want to buy the Christmas present and head home. So, we stopped by the Canyon Breeze, an open-air cafeteria, and ordered a plate of french fries to split. We sat on the back patio, dipping fries in ketchup and staring at the Red Rocks.

When we were done, I put her back in the stroller and took a swing through Earthbound Trading Co., adjacent to the cafeteria. I walked in the back entrance and went straight to the clearance tables. There I found a 2 ft. tall purple Christmas tree made out of tinsel. I looked at the price tag: $2.50!!
The sign on the table said that everything on clearance was buy anything and get something of equal or lesser value free! So I also snagged a box of 6 white taper candles for the holidays.

What a way to kick off the Christmas Countdown.

Surprise Christmas gift at Little Tibet- $38.00
Plate of french fries at Canyon Breeze- $6.00
tinsel tree and taper candles at Earthbound Trading Co.-$3.00
Money set aside for New Year's Fun Dollars Giveaway- $10.00

Balance this pay cycle- $32.00
Happy Spending!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Master Chef Mama

Oh dear! I have been soooo good with what I put in my mouth for over a month now. Since the first of August, I have curbed my carbs, slacked on sweets and watched my wine. But on Monday night, I needed a home-cooked pasta dish, and vino sounded like a good idea. I thought I would also make a Greek Salad with the farmer's market sprouts (kale and sunflower if you're curious.)

For starters, I had to return some yucky beef to Basha's. I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say, it smelled more than two days old. I took both kids (alone, Corey was in Phoenix) to Basha's and returned the beef  and replaced it with a pound of grass-fed ground beef. While I was waiting for the butcher to come to the counter, I spied gluten free pasta and organic tomato basil sauce on an end cap. I was sooooo very pumped about making dinner.

Carrick was determined to have a hamburger (sans bun) for his dinner, but I could hear pasta and meat sauce calling my name.  I knew I was not walking out of Basha's without a vino rojo to accompany my beef. A tried and true brand made for a quick grab while the kids were using anything but their inside voices. Bogle Petite Syrah came home to kick my pasta dish into high gear.

I concocted a delicious drizzling of grass-fed beef, portabella mushrooms, and rosemary (from our yard) to douse the gluten free pasta. I grilled hamburger patties for the kids, and steamed broccoli for them in a basket over the boiling pasta water. When the meal was ready, I felt more like I was eating out at a restaurant than in my dining room.

One glass was all I needed. The Petite Syrah paired perfectly with the beef. I satisfied my craving for an Italian flavor without resorting to pizza. And, my Greek Salad served the purpose of desert more than salad. It was a flavor profile I desired to experience. I had no need for sweets after the meal. Whatever I'm doing with my "diet" seems to be working. Feeling satisfied with an entree and a salad is a new thing for me, and I think I like it.

As for the remainder of the wine, Corey poured a glass when he returned home from Phoenix that night. Then last night, he and I shared the rest of the bottle over the season finale of Master Chef. I won't spoil it for you but the person wins who I thought would win. Thanks for all the inspiration, Master Chef Season 5, I have channeled kitchen competence from you, and congratulations to the winner.

Bogle Petite Syrah at Basha's- $11.00
Balance this Pay Cycle- $89.00
Happy Spending!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Christmas Countdown

I have been waiting for this week for quite a while now. It's the first installment of Fun Dollars on my Christmas Countdown. Now that I have the Fun Dollars Summer Challenge done, I can start putting money towards the holiday season. In December, we have our first family Christmas with two children who are able to unwrap presents this year. Last year, Lily was almost 1, so she didn't really understand what was happening. This year, she will be fully aware that something is going on and she'll want to be a part of it.

I also know that this Christmas will be our first to visit family back east since Carrick was Lily's age. So plane tickets will also be a part of this season's spending. Not to mention that Lily's birthday is the week after New Year's, so there isn't much of a break for the bank in the present department. We know this ahead of time, which is why I am being to proactive about Christmas.

My normal pattern for Christmas is to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start any sort of Christmas shopping. I began this tradition long ago, before children were in our lives. So letting go of my normal shopping and spending habits to be more financially responsible is the real challenge for me. I want this Christmas to be magical, which doesn't necessarily mean buying more presents for the kids, it means enjoying the season and all it has to offer.

My goal this time around is to have presents for important people in my life purchased and wrapped before December. I want to use the month of December for focusing on my children, my family, and the dearest people in my life. I will probably do some shopping in December, but it will be leisurely and enjoyable.  I refuse to let the phrase "hustle and bustle" enter my holiday vocabulary.

How do I intend to do this?

I am so glad you asked!!!!

I had this wonderful epiphany when my parents were visiting just a few weeks ago. We had the opportunity to go to Jerome (an art community in the hills), Uptown Sedona (the Down Town Disney of our town), and Old Town Cottonwood (a leftover of the Wild West days). At each of these locations, I thought to myself, "I live around here, and I never go to these places." As we shopped each day, enjoying the smells of cafes, and the unique boutiques, I came across things that made me think of people close to me.

That's the way to go Christmas shopping. When you see something that says, "Oh this is so Aunt Margaret," you should buy it for Aunt Margaret. Giving a gift is a way to remember and celebrate the people who matter to you in life. When you see something that reminds you of them, chances are, they would enjoy it as a gift.

In that vein, I plan to go shopping as the first purchase of Fun Dollars with each installment from now until December 22 (my last round of Fun Dollars for 2014). On each shopping trip, my aim is to buy at least one Christmas present for someone in my life. I'll take a day, head out to these adorable, locally-owned venues and walk around with Lily in a stroller. I'll have lunch, enjoy the day, and be proactive about Christmas.

Oh yes... and the Fun part....

Since I am working again, I can use my work money to pay for the cleaning lady. That frees up $40.00 each pay cycle. So I will be setting aside $10.00 out of each pay cycle to put towards the Fun Dollars New Year Challenge! Yay!!! I will have $100.00 to give to someone to kick start their own Fun Dollars in the New Year. Use it to pay off Christmas bills, use it to visit family, use it to buy $100.00 worth of champagne for a bash on New Year's. The choice is yours. You don't even have to do Fun Dollars to win it. This time, it will be a surprise...and I'll announce what it is in December. So keep reading....you never know who might get lucky and win the $100.00 Fun Dollars.

Happy Reading, and Happy Spending!

Friday, September 12, 2014

She Works Hard for the Money


I decided a long time ago that I was not going to pursue a career, so I have taken a string of easy, comfortable, mediocre-paying jobs. I wouldn't call myself lazy, but I would call myself "not driven". I just haven't found what truly sparks a fire inside me yet. Also, I refuse to give myself to start down a career path that doesn't light up that soul fire. If I am going to spend more time with my job than I do with my kids (or close to it), it has to really be worth it, and so far, that job has not crossed my path yet. So for the time-being, I am going to continue working at easy, comfortable jobs.

About a month ago, I was walking back to the car after dropping Carrick off at school and I started talking with one of my mom friends. Her child is in Carrick's kindergarten class. The boys also spent two years at the same preschool. We know the same moms and run in the same circles enough that we have become acquainted with each other.

So, as we were chit-chatting about life on that particular school day, I was telling her about how I had to go back to work this fall. I sighed and rolled my eyes, "I'll probably end up waiting tables." In a tourist town with retired millionaires, serving tables can be very lucrative, but it's just not a job that I feel like I am best suited for. I have served tables before, and sometimes, it got downright disastrous. I remember serving a guy a side salad before bringing out his entree...a salad. I had no idea that what he ordered was a salad. I remember watching him eat his entree with this look on his face like, "Didn't I just eat my salad? Now I have to eat this even bigger salad?" I am not a good waitress by any stretch of the imagination. But I can do it to make money for the family.

So, my friend asked me, "is that what you really want to do?"

Of course I replied "No," then added, "But what choice do I have? I am going to apply somewhere that has a breakfast and lunch shift so that I am guaranteed to be out by the time school lets out. What else will work with that schedule?" Sedona is a small town, and part of the agreement I had with Corey about work is that whatever job I took had to be in town. My last job before Lily was in the picture was super-fun and flexible, but it was also a 15 minute commute. So, the wage I was receiving barely covered gas and daycare. It's a struggle I'm sure many parents face; I have to somehow work and earn enough to cover the cost of childcare and have some left over to help out with the family.

I help make these.
So my friend, who is an artist, told me how she needed help in her studio. She was willing to pay me enough to cover Lily's daycare costs (plus some extra) and give me hours that work with Carrick's kindergarten schedule. The most important aspect of this job, however, lies in the work that's needed. Making jewelry (and helping out with clerical tasks), is not as emotionally and physically demanding as serving tables. When I was telling Corey about this potential job, I informed him that it would leave me with enough steam leftover to keep up with the house and kids. Aside from pay, that is the most important aspect for both Corey and me. Whatever job I take, I can't let the house go, or be too tired to care for the kids. Since Corey works 85% from home, the state of the house matters.

With great joy and anticipation, I counted down the days until Lily started daycare, and I started work. After being out of the workforce for 20 months (I left when Lily was born), I felt ready. This Tuesday, the day finally came. Corey and I both took Lily to her first ever day of daycare. I was able to keep up with the domestic needs of the house and family as well as earn some cash. However, I still won't clean the toilets, so I gladly paid my lady $40.00 this week. She mopped too. After two days of work, I was relieved to walk in to a clean house. She even made our bed this week. At least someone works hard for the money. Not me, I enjoy working, because there's nothing hard about it.

Cleaning Lady-$40.00
Balance this pay cycle- $1.00
Happy Spending!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


And after a night out, where wine was free and friends wanted to buy us drinks, I drug myself to Burger King for some hot, greasy hash browns. Nothing like hash browns after a party. I feel this way so rarely, but I do know what to do, just in case... drink water, and eat hash browns.

I also kind of forgot that I had a doctor's appointment in the morning as well. If that had been on my radar, I might have toned it down a bit at the dinner/auction. 3 drinks has a way different effect on me, now that Corey and I are not buying alcohol regularly. This particular doctor's appointment was my first (non-pregnancy) checkup in over ten years. Even semi-hungover, I was still given a clean bill of health. Not too shabby. I just gotta stick to what I'm doing that keeps me healthy, like not drinking in excess.

Hash Browns at Burger King- $2.00
Balance this pay cycle- $41.00
Happy Spending!

Monday, September 8, 2014


I firmly believe that any relationship requires transparency. If you are not real, if you are not honest, if you are not true, then any bond you strive to build will be built on a foundation with weaknesses. Lies and deceit become cracks in the foundation, and eventually, it crumbles. Whether you're talking about a person to person relationship, a person to self relationship, or even a person to object relationship, transparency must be present from the beginning.

Which brings me to the Fun Dollars Summer Challenge. I would love to sit here and tell you about how swamped I was with entries, my inbox bursting with emails, but it wasn't. Maybe $50.00 wasn't enough to motivate people. Maybe people are scared to look at what they actually spend.  I am choosing to be transparent with you about what happened with the Fun Dollars Summer Challenge.

It's a little embarrassing to admit, but I have to hold true to my ethic about transparency. I must be 100% honest with my money and with my readers; no secrets, no lies. I could easily make up a story about a person who wrote an amazing entry and won the $50.00. The truth is, no one would be the wiser. But I would know, and I would be laying down a foundation for Fun Dollars with cracks in it. That's not what I want, so here's the truth.

No one entered. Not a single person wrote to me about their experience with Fun Dollars this summer. I literally tried to give away $50.00 and couldn't. I had been anticipating this week all summer long. I dreamed of reading emails about inspired readers who are now taking the steps toward financial responsibility. But no one sent those emails, no one shared their story. So what happened to the $50.00?

Yet another layer of transparency...

I had a fabulous night out. Yep, we paid for a babysitter with my saved-up Fun Dollars. I had it stashed in a hiding place since last week so I wouldn't spend it. Then I found out last Friday that Corey had been asked to represent his company at a dinner auction. It was for the Sedona International Film Festival, and his company is always a title sponsor, so they bought us the tickets. Instead of going to the bank for the money to pay the sitter, I just counted on using the Fun Dollars, and getting more from the bank after choosing a winner for the Challenge.

Can you tell which one is the $15.00 dress
and which one is the $150.00 dress?
The best part was wearing my $15.00 Fun Dollar dress that I wore to the wedding back in July. The
people that attended this event were the president of the Chamber of Commerce, the top realtors
in town, the Mayor of Sedona, and various millionaires. I did not feel a bit out of place in my $15.00 dress. I wore it with confidence, knowing that it was something I had purchased, for me, with my own money. Last night was a prime example of Fun Dollars put to good use.

I don't even plan on recovering my babysitter money. I'm choosing to let the babysitter be a Fun Dollars expense just because everything else about my night out was free. Also, since I don't have to pay anyone else the money, why not spend it on something fun?

Babysitter for the night- $50.00
Balance this pay cycle- $43.00
Happy Spending!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Last Call!

All submission for the Fun Dollar Summer Challenge need to reach me by midnight tomorrow (Sunday, September 7, 2014). I will announce the winner in one week. Good luck!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Hot Lunch

I finally stopped by the office at Carrick's school to ask about his lunch program. It occurred to me that the spare Fun Dollars I had saved up had helped fund Carrick's lunch for the week that my parents were visiting. Every day, I would scramble around, searching for $2.75. The paper money came out of my purse, and the coins came out of our coin stash. I didn't really realize it before, but I was using Fun Dollars to buy him hot lunch.

I didn't want to mess with groceries or packing a lunch while my parents were here. I just dropped him off each morning and picked him up each afternoon. Even though it only takes me five minutes to pack a lunch, I was focused on other things. Taking lunch out of the morning equation meant a little more time spent with family. Sound silly, I know, but when family lives 1,500 miles away, every second counts.

Carrick and Dedah hiking
Also, Carrick spent a few mornings over at the hotel before school. His favorite thing in the world when his "Dedah" is visiting is to eat breakfast with him. So dining on a waffle from the breakfast nook at the hotel was pure bliss to this little five-year-old. Telling Dedah all about his dreams, about his teacher, and about what wonderful things he was going to do at school that day filled his breakfast time with my father. I would gladly pay $2.00 to be able to give him a small window of time with Dedah before school. I'm not going to try to recover the money. I am happy knowing that it went to a good cause.

Now that I know about the online account, I can set that up for Carrick. No more scrounging around for things to pack in a cold lunch, or digging in my purse for $2.00. I can just use my debit card to plunk more money in his account as needed and he won't have to carry Ziploc bags of money to school every day.

There is so much to learn when a child goes to school for the first time. Preschool pales in comparison. I just have to put on my big girl britches and be a real mom. I have a kindergartner now.

Missing Fun Dollars- $10.00 bottle of wine, and $10.00 for 5 hot lunches.

Happy Spending!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Healthy Goodbye

Oh boy! Family visiting is always a bittersweet thing for me. On the one hand, I get to spend precious time with people I love, but on the other hand, I know that I will have to say goodbye at some point. On one hand, we get to eat out (and have extra help with the kiddos) but on the other hand, I eat way more than I normally would (and it might not be a part of my "normal" diet.) On the one hand, we get to do fun things like explore Uptown Sedona, or Jerome, but on the other hand, I spend more Fun Dollars than I plan on using.

I love every visit from family, and I go into each visit knowing that I will eat and drink more than what I am used to, I will spend money I don't mean to, and not have as much "normal" time doing things like grocery shopping. I know that no trip will last forever and that at some point, a goodbye is in order.

First, let's talk about all that extra spending I did. As many of you know, I am about to gift someone $50.00 out of my own pocket. Since Fun Dollars are mine to spend any way that I want, I want to share the fun by giving someone else half of my Fun Dollars for one pay cycle. I have been saving up for the past few pay cycles to fund this gift. But when my parents were visiting, I mingled my saved Fun Dollars with my expendable Fun Dollars. I think it might have gone towards bottles of wine, but I'm not sure. This is a spending behavior that seems to occur every time there are visitors. I am not particularly sad or disappointed about it, it's just something I have noticed. So, I can be more aware of it the next time family is in town.

Which brings me to my next point, saying goodbye. I have done this enough times that I have found new ways of dealing with the sadness that accompanies the departure of family after a visit. I used to dive into a tub of ice cream, or splurge on a bottle of wine that Corey and I would finish in a night. Pretty much anything to dull the pain of loss would do the trick. Since I have been eating differently, I have noticed that my moods are better managed without the need for "poisonous" indulgences. In reality, my body is looking for a sugar high or the dullness of alcohol to numb the pain. But since I am now used to "running on a cleaner system", my body doesn't seek out these methods for coping.

I kid you not, as soon as I left the airport after dropping off my parents yesterday, my body said, "Feed me a salad!" I even considered for a moment my freedom of choice in Flagstaff (where the airport was) with only one child in the car (Carrick was back at school). I could go for a mocha at Starbucks. I could get a Long John covered in chocolate at Dunkin' Doughnuts. I could even binge on a double scoop waffle cone at Baskin Robbins, but none of those options really sounded good to me. I truly wanted a salad. And in honesty, I felt better about my choice and about saying goodbye as I ate my Wildflower Salad topped with salmon.

Lily slept in my lap and I enjoyed every mouthful of my salad. I put her in the car when I was finished and we drove to Old Navy. That's where I did my "consolation shopping". I used family money to go clothing shopping for Lily. Yes, I know that I could go to Goodwill, or wait for a clothing swap, but I wanted my girl to have some actual new clothes for when she started school. It will be her first time in daycare next week, and I knew how fast she would go through clothes. Playing with other children, feeding herself lunch, I would need to bring a change of clothes for her every day. Also, she deserves some non-hand-me-down clothes too. I had no time limit to shop, so I just pawed through all the summer clearance items for little girls. I even found a swimsuit for $10.00 that I bought for myself. All said and done I spent $20.00 on a week's worth of clothes for Lily, and I felt 100% okay with my parents leaving.

No ice cream, no wine, no chocolate, just a salad and some (necessary) shopping. That's a much healthier way to say goodbye.

Lunch at Wildflower- $7.00
Balance this pay cycle- $93.00
Happy Spending!