Friday, March 18, 2011

Responsibility Appreciation

I know some people in life who are so willing to work hard, not just giving straight up labour, but being responsible for things. (My oldest brother is one of these people for sure. He's so bossy.) They thrive under pressure, and give all that they need to for the job to get done right. I am not one of these people. Responsibility is awesome in that it shows someone is willing to entrust something to me, but I really can't say I seek it out or THRIVE with it.

Money, to me, is just one large tiring responsibility.

I do a devotional reading every day, and there is a different theme for every week of the year, so one week was encouragement, another relationships, and so on. A few weeks back the theme was money, and on day one I literally thought, "Well, I don't really need this since Ted does all of our finances anyway." (In the big picture sense.) Day three of that week, we get a call that says that Ted will be going away for work until late in the summer. I would, therefore, be the one managing and steering our family finances. One thing, I did not feel at that point, was thriving. But I can tell you, I soaked up every word of every day's reading for the rest of the week.

I don't know why I'm so terrified, because I know I am equipped to do the job, and I can reach out to Ted if I have a question or concern. Part of me is afraid I might steer my family wrong, or undo all the good things my husband has worked hard putting in place. (In this scenario we would have no savings, but I would have a killer wardrobe.) Mostly right now I feel like staying very, very still. Literally, still. In this scenario if I don't do ANYTHING, I can't possibly rock the boat or mess up in any way, shape, or form.

It occurs to me though in writing out all these thoughts that the ideal position would be seeing what I can make better. How can I improve on the terrific job Ted has done. What NEW ideas can I implement that adds a new dynamic to our family finances? Because as much as a strong leader is a very good thing, a strong team is even better. I've prayed lots that I stay on track and make good decisions with the blessings we have.

And I love you Andrew, despite all the teasing. :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Budget Romance

Where once a date was not a date unless I had makeup, heels and a dress on, we have discovered that our excitement has shifted away from $150 dinners towards a more practical approach at dating. For us having a babysitter usually means the chance to shop minus the screaming child/poop explosions/blood sugar crash that typically comes with a trip into town. Romantic dinners are still one of our favourite things, but generally they happen at home, after our son is in bed, where we can enjoy the process of cooking together, eating slowly, and sometimes even saving cleanup until the morning. Even if we indulge a ton of whims for our dinner at home, we're still more than likely only spending 1/4 of what we would going out.

It's hard to make the time to think about romance and activities together when we're in the routine of life, but I've been realizing how important it really is. We're doing a small group study on the book The Five Love Languages, and the book helpfully revealed to us that I most definitely have the love language of quality time. This means that I most feel loved when I have my husband's undivided attention, through conversation or participating in something together. The study had us as couples come up with a list of activities we want to do together, alternating inexpensive activities with ones that may cost a little more.

Ted and I discovered something we love doing together is house projects. When we turn off distractions and just paint, or sand, or even hang pictures, we're getting the chance to converse, and that feeling of satisfaction after a project has been completed. I think it's so healthy to accomplish something TOGETHER, as a team, but it does take thought.

I took a picture of our latest house project-painting our banister. The activity cost us a can of paint, and our time, but it wasn't time wasted, it was time invested. Not just invested in our home, but in our relationship (Even with Ted's Mom there helping us) . Money well spent.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stretching our Meat Budget

I did a brief and completely unscientific poll on facebook about how my friends save money on their meat budget. While I did receive a few of the answer I expected (buying what's on sale and freezing it) I got a lot of answers that surprised me. One I saw quite a lot more than I expected was cutting down/cutting meat out.
A few others answers that I appreciated was using co-ops and local farmers, as well as trade. And one smartie who suggested trading a vegetable budget for a meat budget. Joker.

I realize that people cut out meat for many reasons aside from budgetary, but the quantity still took me off guard. For the most part I'm on side with those friends. I find it easy to cut down/cut out meat, I lived on no red meat for years, and loved it; but living with a self-proclaimed meatatarian means that I needed to find a new creative solution to eat meat at almost every meal without breaking our bank.

In our household, the solution was trickery. I couldn't cut meat out of too many meals, because no matter how delicious the food was, I would still receive a pout and a, "Where's the meat?" And that bugged me.
So instead of cutting it OUT, it gets cut in half, and "filled in." And the filler is usually a vegetable, sometimes rice or beans, but I generally try to camouflage it in a way that doesn't betray a cutting to the meat. At first I thought I was getting away with it, completely unnoticed, but a yelled, "I see you adding carrots to everything" from across the room revealed I am nowhere as covert as I once thought.
Hubby's pretty patient though with my "Rabbit food" way of eating. I think he appreciates a goal of a financially and physically fitter family, and whatever the means are to make a cash grocery budget last as long as it needs to. As long as it doesn't mean saying goodbye to meat completely.