Saturday, June 28, 2008

Suburban Garden Update

I'm pleased to report that my vegetables are growing pretty well. I have four corn stalks, three bean stalks, three tomato bushes and two basil plants. Most are doing well although a few are looking a bit yellow in terms of leaves. Perhaps poor drainage or not enough water? Granted, a week ago, we had a huge hot spell three days in a row with over 100 degrees.

And, I'm waaaayyy behind on the Millionaire Mommy Next Door Abundant Life Challenge. She's on Day 11 with $102,000 so I'll just jump to Day 11.

How I'd Spend It:
10% to Church
10% to Charity of Choice
50% to College Funds
30% to Invest

How I'd Earn It:
Implement the new marketing system for our business. If I can get that going, I believe our revenue will increase by at least that much.

What I'm Grateful For:
My parents whom I miss since they're on vacation right now! I appreciate my parents, and have much more so since I turned 30 (which was a while ago). Parents have wisdom and patience and now that I have children, it's all the more I appreciate what they endured. Sometimes children can try the patience of a saint! And, they're wonderful grandparents, too!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Is being frugal patriotic?

I'm working on creating a Statue of Liberty costume for the 4th of July festivities. I had been looking at costumes online which range in cost from $16.99 to $99.99 and so I figured I could probably make one myself for less. I found an easy online "how to make a Lady Liberty costume" which includes buying material for the draped dress and making all the accessories--the crown, torch and book. I found the perfect green material on sale (!) which cost $3 in total for a yard and 1/2. I'll use foam sheets for the rest of the accessories and find a book to hold.

But, in preparing for the 4th of July, I found myself thinking about our current economy and whether it's been part of America's history to be frugal. And, for the most part, I'd say, it's been a resounding yes. (In my former life, I taught US History to high school students which is why my mind wandered to our country's past.) I can think of so many times and eras where Americans had to tighten their proverbial belts to make it through. In the pre-Revolutionary era, colonial Americans made their own herbal teas and spun their own yarn to make their own cloth when they faced taxes on products and decided to boycott English goods. In the early part of the 1800s prior to the Industrial Revolution, most Americans were farmers so they were used to growing their own fruits and vegetables and then canning and storing. Just think of the life as described in Little House on the Prairie! Even with the Industrial Revolution in full swing by the late 1800s after the Civil War (another period of deprivation), the majority of Americans were frugal--only the middle-class and the wealthy began to have leisure time. And then, let's not forget the first half of the 1900s included World War I, the Great Depression and World War II. Both World Wars featured meatless days, Victory Gardens, etc. but the World War II saw the imposition of rationing and serious lack of consumer goods and durables. The Great Depression was America's greatest moment in Frugal History where people had to live with less. So, really, the excess consumerism of the Baby Boomer generation from the 1950s on through today accounts for just about 30% of our history, and it's our recent history to boot. So, I'd have to say that there's a long tradition of being frugal and if we were to look back at some of our books on homemaking (Catherine Beecher comes to mind), I imagine we'd find a wealth of great frugal ideas. We should be proud of our frugal heritage and call on it now in these challenging economic times.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Abundant Life Challenge

I forgot to include the other part of how to bring the money into my life! How to make that much money and show gratitude!

Day 1: $100 - Send out a postcard for $99 PC tune-ups to customers and prospects.
Gratitude: I'm grateful that we've been in business for 12 years.
Day 2: $200 - Sell our blue couch/chair that's in our garage.
Gratitude: I'm grateful that we live in a beautiful neighborhood with a community pool where the kids can swim and a lake where my husband and I can go out on the boat.

Now onto Day 3: $400

Spend: Have a birthday party bash for my youngest son at an indoor party place.
Earn: Send out letters to clients explaining our newest 24x7 Automated Remote Management service.

Gratitutde: I'm grateful for a wonderful husband who's a great dad to our two boys. He took them to the local Touch-A-Truck event yesterday and went swimming with them. He said he had a great time and that interaction with them was the greatest Father's Day gift he could have.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Millionaire Mommy Next Door: Abundant Life Challenge

Millionaire Mommy Next Door has decided to stretch her mind and work on the laws of attraction by listing what she'd spend starting with $100 on the first day and then doubling it for 30 days (ultimately reaching close to $53 billion on Day 30). I'm going to join the challenge! What a great idea!

Day 1: $100 to Spend
Sushi dinner with husband ($65)
Bouncy house rental for the boys ($35)

Day 2: $200
Spa treatments (Facial, reflexology, manicure)

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Opportunity Cost of Rising Gasoline Prices

Let's say that now you're paying almost $30 more per gallon than you used to (based on filling up 15 gallons at $4.50/gallon whereas you used to fill it up for $2.50/gallon). Here are some items and services that you could have bought, used or otherwise engaged those $30:

Buying dinner for four at an inexpensive/fast food restaurant or dinner for two at a moderately priced restaurant
A haircut
7-8 coffee drinks at Starbucks or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (although I hesitate to even list this since frugalistas like ourselves probably wouldn't be buying expensive coffee drinks, would we?)
Two CDs or DVDs
1.5 months of a Netflix subscription
Clothes--at a garage sale about 10-20 items; at Old Navy, maybe 4-5

The list could be endless. The point of this is that there is an opportunity cost to rising prices and I'm sure we'll be changing our behavior if we haven't already. Does it seem to you like there are fewer cars on the freeway?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Frugal Transgression

So, we had our family portrait done a week ago and we went back yesterday to choose the portraits and, in the end, spent three times as much as I budgeted for. That means we won't go on vacation for a long weekend like we'd planned this summer but I think the portraits will be worth it. The family portrait will be on canvas and looks so professional. I really didn't want to spend that kind of money but our kids are young (and I know that they grow up fast--at least that's what everyone says!) and the photos are, oh, about 100 times better than what we've gotten from Sears and J.C. Penney. So, I pride myself on being frugal but there are times where I think the value of what we're buying is worth the price. I guess this is my frugal transgression for the time being. What have your frugal transgressions been?