Archive for March 24th, 2011

March 24, 2011

Cutting Back

by Cait

This is not an easy post to write.*  I hate admitting we don’t have everything together, and I don’t like talking about overly personal things on this blog (which is why instead of writing about it before I just said we were taking a break).  This is a house blog, and I want it to remain a house blog.  However, you might have noticed that there has been a lot of talk from me about what I’d like to do to our house but not a whole lot of actually doing anything.  (And if you hadn’t noticed, or you recently started reading, I just called attention to that fact.  Dang it!)  In an effort to “keep it real” as the big time bloggers say: there is a reason for that (beyond when we said we were going to need to here thanks to a minor roof leak). 

Robert recently moved from his previous company to a competitor, took quite a pay cut, and picked up a part-time job to help make ends meet.  I won’t go into details of the move, but suffice to say it was spurred by what my mom likes to call “a witch-hunt”.  He may also have to cut back on the number of classes he is taking, we’re not sure yet, but it’s a bummer because he is thisclose to graduating.  Also, my company was bought out by a larger competitor (which happens to be inconveniently located up north), so we really don’t know what that means for my employment status over the next 18 months- which is how long the proposed “changes” are supposed to take to kick in.  They tell us that they are keeping our office in town and that the management will run it as it has always be run, but we shall see what happens.  I’m trying to be very Pollyanna about all of this, rather than freaking out.

In the panic from not getting to talk to my “in case of emergency person”** about this because we’re in a fight all this, I did think about pimping out the blog for sponsorships, but I still don’t know how I feel about that and, uh, it’s a tiny blog so I doubt it would get sponsors. Or starting a print shop or an Etsy shop, but I don’t know that there is any interest in that  (also I’m a chicken).  I even briefly thought about offering to make headers or graphics for blogs, but with the stress of Robert’s job situation I’m pretty sure I’ve been doing a terrible job of working on Heidi’s (I’m so sorry, Heidi! I emailed you a few things to look at, hopefully we can work from there!), so that’s probably an awful idea.  So, as a result of all of my hairbrained ideas not panning out, we have done a few small things to cut back. 

image seen on YHL

1) iTunes – We don’t have cable, but we love our Apple TV, especially when it isn’t football season.  We have the previous generation one where you can buy directly from the couch.  Hello impulse purchases.  My parents gave us an  iTunes gift card for my birthday and we have been hoarding it while we try to decide what to spend it on.  And then our season passes for our two favorite shows ended, so now we’re watching a lot of the (gasp) DVDs we already owned, and I am wish listing a SuperDrive so we can add those shows to our digital collection and possibly sell the hard copies.  On the plus side: Cutting out/down on iTunes purchases also means we are spending more time bike riding, walking the dogs and working on small projects around the house that we already have supplies for.

2) Cook Meals Using the Food in the Pantry & Freezer –  Similar to what YHL did before moving to their new house, we made a list of all the things in the pantry & freezer and have challenged ourselves to make meals using those things and only shop for basics, like milk, eggs and produce.  Seems obvious I know, and we are pretty good about using what we have, but we definitely don’t menu plan.  Generally spealing, we make the decision of what to eat for dinner spur of the moment, and sometimes that means an unplanned trip to Publix (or our favorite Chinese take out place).  So we started this in an effort to both cut out impluse grocery purchases and to focus on what we bought that we don’t really eat.  On the plus side: This should help our grocery shopping tendencies, because we will know if there are things we bought just beacuse it they were BOGO and never ate.

3) Work on House Projects We Have Supplies For – We have been trying to do this for a while, but we keep changing out minds about things like interior door hardware (ie- the Tea House doorknobs on the sidebar wish list).  Since I do not want to quit blogging, we have to focus on projects from the top section of our To Do List (and maybe the outdoor shower, if we can budget that well).  We have been talking about how much we think it will cost to paint our house’s exterior, and we aren’t sure when the best time to take that on will be.  Maybe we can work on it in stages as we have the available funds.  On the plus side: This will help us clean out the shed, we have doors, an outdoor fan, and many other things piled up.

4) The Blog – As I said, I don’t want to quit blogging, but the nature of cutting back and things like #3 mean that this blog may change a bit.  I will probably go back and work on tutorials I forgot to post about things like the lamp in our guest bedroom, or hanging curtain wires.  We may also work on the layout, the blog sections, organization, floor plan (darn you Floorplanner for making me want to yank my hair out!) and things like that.  On the plus side: Tutorials, yay! (Right?)  And also, hopefully a prettier, easier to navigate blog for y’all.

5) Credit Card Points – Though we prefer to buy things with cash or debit cards, our credit cards get a workout from time to time.  Our credit union has a nice rewards program that allows us to choose between the pretty standard credit card “gifts” (7000 points for Pyrex containers? no thanks) and merchant gift cards.  They offer ones for some places we wouldn’t use, but we like the Home Depot and Williams-Sonoma options (especially since the Williams-Sonoma one can be used at Pottery Barn and West Elm).   So although we still don’t want to use our credit cards much, on the plus side: We have a gift card to Williams-Sonoma on the way.

6) The CJ – We may have to sell our ’81 CJ-7 that “I bought Robert” as an anniversary present last October, and just when it’s becoming beach weather, too.  I really don’t see a plus side to this.  We have a neighbor who wants it, but then we’d have to see it every day and not get to drive it to the beach on a sunny summer day.  Kind of like how he sold his ’99 Suzuki Bandit 1200s to a friend when we were saving for a house; we get to hear about all the work being done to it, but we don’t get to (finally) take it to Deals Gap in May.  Major bummer.

I certainly don’t hope that y’all can relate to this, but I do hope that you have patience with us while we cut back and budget so that we can continue sharing our DIY projects with y’all.

*Since this is not a topic that  I enjoy covering or even cover very well, check out other budget cutting posts by YHL, such as their Life on Less post, and others filed in their Save Some Moolah category.  Also, feel free to comment with links to your favorite posts on budgeting.

** Blatant Grey’s Anatomy reference.