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Tag: finances

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy Blogiversary!

One Year of Blogging Done!   Last weekend was the one year anniversary of Oscoey. I can’t believe how quickly the last year has gone! I have learned a lot about blogging over the past year and gotten to know many fabulous bloggers as well. […]

An Overview of Meal Planning

An Overview of Meal Planning

Meal Planning to Save Time and Money   I have heard of the wonderful idea called meal planning many times over the past few years and every time I read a post about it I love the idea of having all of our meals planned […]

Going back to work after being a Stay at Home Mom

Going back to work after being a Stay at Home Mom

Going Back to Work

 

Three weeks ago on a Monday marked a new day in the Oscoey household. For the first time in over three years I am no longer a stay at home mom. I went back to work and the next few months will be a season of change for us. I looked for six months for a job that is a good fit for me and I am pretty sure I found it! It is all very exciting and new and I am sure the first few weeks will be difficult but in the long run it will be better for our family.  I have not worked full-time since our oldest daughter was in elementary school and even then it was a retail job so I did not have regular hours. This new job will be my first full-time job with regular hours and I am really excited about it!

 

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beach
Oldest and the youngest at the beach.

 

Preparing for going back to work

The last couple of weeks prior to starting work were pretty hectic catching up on last minute tasks that needed to be completed before I no longer had a bunch of time. Laundry, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments and hiring a nanny topped my list. I would have loved to have the entire house scrubbed from top to bottom but we had a busy weekend before I went back and that just didn’t happen. I settled for reasonably clean and a solid plan in place as to when regular household tasks will be complete.

 

We originally wanted to hire a nanny for morning drop offs but it kept getting delayed and after a couple of weeks of Mr. Oscoey dropping the kids off he didn’t want to give up that special time with the kids so we are going to try and make it work without one. I start before day care opens but hopefully after I have been at work a while I will have some flexibility with my start time. Child care is a major expense for working families and one of the reasons I held out for so long when finding a job is that I wanted to earn enough that we weren’t breaking even with day care costs.

 

Outside play
I am going to miss our lazy afternoons outside.

 

The change from SAHM to Working Mom

 

The hardest part of going back to work has been the mental part. My kids had a super easy adjustment. They love their school and my daughter is always asking to stay later so she can hang out with her friends more and now she is able to do that every day and she loves it. My son loves his class too and is always smiling and laughing when I pick him up. Sometimes he doesn’t want to leave either. Neither kid has a hard time at drop off so we at least do not have that to add to the stress of returning to work but I am still having a bunch of mom guilt about going back which is totally normal. It hit me really hard this week when we all came down with the flu. My husband and daughter had it first and I went to work on Monday and Tuesday not being the one at home with a sick kid all day and even though I knew Mr. Oscoey would be an awesome care taker of her it was still hard. My job the past few years has been to take care of the kids and I was always the one to care for them when they were sick while my husband went off to work. Needless to say Mr. Oscoey did an awesome job and I am really grateful that he was able to stay home with her.

 

dog
George taking care of his girl.

 

Family time is more precious

 

The biggest challenge for me the past week weeks with working has been time.  I have been trying to spend a little bit of time with each kid every day. My daughter gets up with me in the morning and we eat breakfast together before I leave for work. After school I try and get some alone time with my son for a bit before bed time. We have had really busy weekends the past few weeks with a day trip to visit Bellingham, two school auctions, Easter, birthday parties and the usual weekly family activities of dance/gymnastics class. It has been a challenge to fit everything in and I am definitely going to have to scale back my gardening this year but I am more focused on the family when we are all together and as an added bonus since the kids are not home all week making messes the house cleaning has gotten easier. I am looking ahead in our calendar and we have a few full days free on the weekends and I think we should spend some of that time on family day trips to maximize family bonding.

 

Last Wednesday morning walk with my friend.

 

The one thing I have been missing since I went back to work has been the ability to exercise regularly. I worked pretty hard to get back into a great exercise routine the past six or so months and one of the things I had to give up when returning to work was my weekly Stott Pilates sessions. I miss it quite a bit. I am on a waiting list for if a spot opens outside of work hours but I am afraid if I wait too long I will lose all of the progress I worked hard for.  I also miss my semi-regular long walks with a good friend. We have been walking for over a year and I will greatly miss our talks and the opportunity to get some much needed exercise in as well! Now that the weather is starting to get better I am going to try going for shorter walks in the evenings in my neighborhood after the kids go to bed. I am also going to try and locate a Pilates studio near my work so that I can continue my progress. I am pretty exhausted when I get home from work but I sit at a desk all day long so exercising after work is a necessity for long term health.

 

The first few weeks back to work have been a season of change in the Oscoey household. How has going back to work after a period of being home changed your household?

 

Some Thoughts on End of Life Planning

Some Thoughts on End of Life Planning

I have been taking a break from the blog the past week or so and just been interacting a little bit on Twitter. I thought I would stop in and talk a little bit about end of life planning. One of my close relatives is […]

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

We have come to the end of our Uber Frugal Month Challenge and we were pretty successful! We kept to our super low grocery budget, were mindful about our purchases and had some great discussions about where we want our life to head and what […]

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

We are entering our final days of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge and it has been a great refresher for us to get back into our frugal habits. I am finally caught up on all of the emails and they really made us think about how we spent our money. Last week was a rough one for us and the entire week seemed against us but it did not effect our spending and we are on track with our grocery spending for the month. Yay!

 

Tacos made with canned refried beans, leftover pork, feta, olives and corn tortillas with salad.

 

We dug into our pantry a bit this week and used up some cans including olives, refried beans, tomatoes and a can of chicken. My kids love the cans of Costco chicken made into chicken salad and it is one of the few things I can send in their lunches that they will actually eat. I have tried making it from scratch chicken but even though I love it my kids are iffy on it.  We also used up some of the corn tortillas I found in our freezer. There are still quite a few in there though! Here are a couple of our other meals:

 

Salad, leftover refried beans, frozen corn and what we call “basic” cooked pork.

 

Homemade meatballs, homemade spaghetti sauce, gluten-free noodles, steamed carrots and salad.

 

As you can see a simple green salad with sunflower seeds has become a staple in our house.  I have always loved salads and try to eat at least one a day but I fell out of that habit while I was pregnant with our son. For some reason any sort of fresh fruit or vegetables made me sick and nearly two years later I am still trying to recover from it. Have you ever had a weird food aversion like that? Thankfully I can now eat salad again but I am still working on fruit. It just isn’t appealing to me any more even though I used to love it. I am hoping this summer when we are out picking fresh fruit it will spark my interest again! Our kids are not super fond of salad although they will eat a piece or two of lettuce sometimes when we ask them to try it so we always offer another vegetable and give them a choice of what they want. In the summer when we have lettuce growing in the garden the kids eat it all day long so apparently lettuce is only tasty to them straight from the garden? I may have to finally try growing some indoors and see if they will eat it.

 

Homemade English muffin, homemade pork sausage and vegan cheese.

 

One of the things my husband did for the kids this week was make homemade English muffins and make them breakfast sandwiches in the morning. They absolutely loved them and my son ate a whole one by himself which is crazy! Other days they ate them with peanut butter or even some of our homemade jam. We have ground our own meat for many years and my husband makes the most delicious garlic sausage. He made it this week and we have been eating it all week. I love garlic so it has been wonderful!

 

Homemade kettle corn.

 

The other food we have been munching on quite a bit lately is popcorn.  My husband loves his spicy but the kids and I love his dairy-free kettle corn made with coconut oil. We have been making it so much that we wore out his stove-top popcorn maker.  A new one is on our list of high priority household items to buy in the next couple of months. We use it several times a week for a cheap and easy snack!

 

A very windy and rainy day walk.

 

We had more than a little bit of cabin fever this week. Our kids were finally getting over two months of back to back colds and needed to get out and do something. Since we are being frugal we tried to find things for them to do at home but there reached a point last week when we had about 30 minutes to take them outside in the windy and very wet weather to jump in puddles to burn off some energy. It ended up being tons of fun! We went on the trail through the woods that I have been hearing about since we moved in but never gotten around to walking on and it was a pretty trail to walk on. We ended up doing a 3/4 (2yo and I) and 1 mile (4yo and Mr. Oscoey) loop and both kids walked the whole way and jumped in as many puddles as they could.  We will probably start doing more family walks around the neighborhood like that, especially since our son didn’t need to be carried. It is a great free activity for the family to do and it is important that our kids know the layout of the neighborhood for when they are older.

 

Water color finger painting.

 

Another boredom buster we did was to break out the paint. I realized we stopped doing our afternoon art because we got busy with the holidays. We have started it up again and the kids picked painting this time and had a blast. We cut up some sponges I bought a couple of years ago to paint with and our son wanted water colors so he practiced his painting skills and blending colors. They did make quite a bit of mess and we had to talk about how we behave while we paint but overall it was a success.

 

Puppy damage…

 

One unexpected thing that came up this week was some damage our puppy did to our wall. My husband patched and repainted this spot masterfully a couple of weeks ago but our puppy, being the crazy dog that he is, ran into the wall again and dented it with his gigantic bony elbow.  He is incredibly observant and noticed right away that the wall was slightly different so he investigated it and discovered he could peel back a section to chew on. Seriously. He did this while I was dealing with a kid “emergency” and he was not the least bit remorseful. In fact he tore another chunk off as soon as I wasn’t looking. I am really thankful that my husband is able to repair minor drywall damage and we do not have to pay someone to do it.  We have saved so much money doing small repairs ourselves and Mr. Oscoey has gotten better over the years and now you can barely tell that it was repaired. I highly recommend that you learn how to do minor house repairs like this so that you aren’t paying big bucks to have it fixed.

 

Overall the week was super frugal and we hardly bought anything besides necessary groceries like milk, fruit and some small key ingredients for recipes. I am excited to write up our end of the month recap later this week so look for it on the blog!

 

The Uber Frugal Month Challenge is almost over but how are you being frugal in your every day life?

 

 

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 3

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 3

Whew. I am a little bit late posting our summary of week three in the Uber Frugal Month Challenge but that is because last week was a whirlwind of expensive things breaking, children being sick and massive amounts of the general craziness that comes from […]

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 2

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 2

Well dear readers, week 2 of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge went off the rails a little bit. We had a busy week with sick kids and another family member was ill so I have not done the last 4 or 5 daily tasks from […]

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 1

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 1

A few weeks ago I found the Uber Frugal Month Challenge over at the Frugalwoods and I was immediately hooked. What a great way to start out 2018! I signed my husband and I up and we have spent the last week reading through the daily emails and completing challenge items.  I will admit that we already do a lot of the tasks listed in the challenge such as not eating out, keeping track of our finances and trying to be mindful of our spending but as I have said before we have had a rough couple of years for our finances and we are ready to get back on track! This challenge is perfect for that and we have already started looking at areas for us to cut the fat and to buckle down.

 

One of the areas we have struggled with overspending over the past year has been with our groceries. I wrote about it in  my A New Beginning in Budgeting Series Part 2 and we are working this month to lower our expenses even more with a pantry clean out. Unfortunately we realized on New Year’s Day that we were out of some very basic groceries such as bananas, eggs, carrots, yogurt and paper towels so we did end up having to go to the grocery store but we only spent $66.15 for the first week of the year and that included a couple of rarely purchased basic ingredients such as butter for when we hosted our group of friends over the weekend. That is a huge improvement for us! We stuck to our list and did not buy any extras and everything we bought we have absolutely used this week.  We are already out of bananas but we are delaying going to the store for as long as possible so maybe we will make it to the weekend before we do another Costco run.

 

Beans, rice, salad and green beans for our New Year’s Day dinner.

 

We got creative with some of the meals we made and although we are not completely vegetarian we have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian/low meat meals into our dinner rotation. Our kids love meat and some days that is all they will eat but we also are huge believers in putting a wide variety of healthy foods in front of them and eating them along with them.  Kids learn by watching what you are doing (even if they don’t look like it) and we always eat our vegetables with the kids. I try to serve two vegetables at dinner so that the kids have a choice. One choice is a vegetable I know they like (such as peas) and another is either a new vegetable, one they need to try or something else they like but maybe prepared differently. We have really been working with our pickiest eater on just trying new foods and so far it has worked with the eater in question at least tasting new foods.  Some of them have been thoroughly enjoyed!

 

Shakshuka minus the forgotten garbanzo beans. Looks like we will have enough for another meal!

 

Now I know that many uber frugal people would maybe tell us to switch to something other than paper towels but we primarily use them for cleaning up bodily fluids of both the pet and human kind off of the floor and I just do not feel comfortable using my towels and well loved hand/face wash clothes for that. I did make an effort this week to use our repurposed baby wash clothes when washing the kids hands and faces after meals instead of reaching for a baby wipe and I am thinking of making some more cloth napkins at some point.  I have sewed them in the past but we only have a few currently and that is nowhere near enough with small children in the house! I finally have my sewing machine set up but I definitely don’t have the time right now to make them. Maybe next month my goal will be to replace as many disposable items in the house with reusable ones as possible. Hmm…I will have to think about that!

 

Vanilla boxed pudding made from leftover “real” milk. Sometimes you just have to make your childhood favorite to use up milk that otherwise would go bad!

 

One of the biggest things we got out of our first week of the UFM Challenge was exactly how much our overspending on clothing and groceries was effecting our bottom line. I hadn’t really looked at our yearly spending in a couple of years and once we broke it down it became clear that we needed to be more diligent about overspending.  I am really glad we are doing this challenge and gearing up on our frugal choices!

 

What ways are you being frugal in the new year?

 

A List of Sort of Financial Goals for 2018

A List of Sort of Financial Goals for 2018

Usually this time of year I start looking over our finances for the year, project our income a year ahead and start setting some goals for the year. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions because I am not great at following through with them but […]