Relax, Get to It

It’s been an interesting week over here as I transition from my full time summer job into full time student mode. I only have one class left in my graduate program and am supposed to be spending all the extra time writing my master’s thesis. Although I love my topic and it’s very self-designed, it’s quite hard to get motivated. I managed to get more done today by hanging out at my local library. And, speaking of my local library, don’tcha just love them? I managed to get 4 out of 12 of my books for my class this semester there, so I don’t have to shell out as much cash. Otherwise, I’m trying to get my hands on Eat, Pray, Love because I’m going to my first book club meeting in September. I’m so excited for this. I haven’t made a ton of girlfriends here in Richmond since my grad school is out of town and I did not go to undergrad here. All my park ranger chick friends are graduate students at other universities. Sad face. But, still, going to a book club is going to be so much fun. A friend I made at the dog park invited me, and she just happens to be very crafty and girly so it’s sure to be a good time. Here’s hoping I don’t geek them out too badly with my crazy grad school way of pulling obscure topics out of books.

When I’m avoiding writing my thesis, I also posted some goods on eBay. We’ve been cleaning out our closet. I literally have tons of clothes I’ve worn since high school. Keep dreaming, Cat. Your round tush will never fit in a size 2 again. eBay has this great promotion right now of 100 free listings at any price (For you non eBay-ers, usually if you list an item at a high price, eBay takes a bigger chunk. But, until September 7th, you can list items for $1 or $1,000 and eBay will list it for free.) So, it’s a pretty good deal.

Here are some pics of things I posted.

Don’t think I’m too fancy with all the designer labels. You know I swiped them at Goodwill or at the outlet mall on the cheap. Except the Kenneth Cole watch. Apparently, the hubby’s ex-girlfriend gave him that. We’ve been together for almost 5 years folks and have moved several times each since meeting each other. I think it’s time for this one to go!

Needs vs. Wants

Ah, the classic need vs. want debate seems to happen every day ’round here. Discerning the difference between needs and wants seemed so easy as a child, but once you add in adulthood, hubby, and bad puppy, the lines between these two ideas seems to get blurred. My personal philosophy on doing all things as budget friendly as possible means I say no to wants more often than I’d like (read: all the time). Of course, your wants probably differ from say, your Mr. Right’s wants. I’d love some feedback on how you decide what’s best for you and your family and when you decide to splurge. Here are some examples that we talk about all the time at my casa to cut costs and keep our spending as low as possible.

Need: A car that works.
Want: A new car. Mine has had so many repairs, I’ve lost count. It has 150,000 miles on it. I’ve had it through everything – including Category 5 Hurricane Katrina. This car survived the hurricane with me, traveled with me to many colleges, and has now made it through half of my grad school education. I’m emotionally attached to it. His name is Kal. But, I really WANT one of these (Note: I’m not asking for a Lamborghini here):

Solution: Continue to repair Kal and apologize profusely to him for searching for something new and better. The couple times a year repairs have all been less than a car payment would be, and so I keep him. He’s paid in full. But, my mouth will continue to drool and stare lustfully at all yellow bugs on the road. (I’ve wanted one since high school.)

Need: Food.
Hubby Wants: Fancy spices, fancy pots & pans, ingredients I’ve never heard of to make food.
I want: To eat Hubby’s food. Like all day long.

This is a tough one. The hubs is an awesome cook. He knows how to make things, like chocolate syrup when there is no chocolate syrup in the house. These things might seem normal to you, but are like magic to me. But, so often when we are sitting down and creating our “plan of attack” with coupons for the grocery store we talk about extras like steak and ice cream and my downfall, snacks for afternoon hunger. It really ends up always being me who is reminding sweet hubby that we can definitely eat pork chops instead of steak and hubby reminding me of all the times I proclaim loudly that I’m having a steak craving (I told y’all about my penchant for steak in this post). So, if you are the main money organizer in your family, how do you not seem like a nag all the time reminding your significant other just what you’ve got and what you can spend?

Here’s hubby planning his coupon attack:

Need: A break from work.
Want: Vacation x A Million
Solution: Try to take day trips.

I’ll admit. We’ve been spoiled travelers. I was unbelievably (ridiculously) fortunate enough to have a study abroad trip paid in full by my university back in the day. I still feel like crying when I think of how lucky I am that I got to have that experience. My then-boyfriend (current sweet hubby) was able to tag along with me at the end of my studies and we backpacked all over the place.

Of course, nice folks aren’t paying for my vacations in full anymore, so we wistfully watch the cooking channel when they travel to some of our favorite places! We actually booked a 3 day beach vacation for the end of the summer but after crunching some numbers a few weeks later, we made the hard decision to cancel it. We truly believe in not spending money that we don’t have. This is difficult in a world full of materialism and pretty, shiny, pink things. It is definitely a constant struggle to live by this rule and even harder for the hubs and I to consistently remind each other of our long term goals.

We get around these issues by doing things like taking day trips (there are so many pretty places to see in Virginia). We also (as you know) shop at estate sales and thrift stores to decorate our house and make it a place we enjoy living in. We sell things we don’t use anymore on eBay and to consignment stores. We cook at home a lot. We cash in credit card points for things like gas cards instead of magazine subscriptions. I should tell you that we’re definitely not always perfect with this system. The hubs and I have both bought things before we were married that we shouldn’t have. But, we make a constant effort to make decisions as a team since being married. We share a checking account completely and do not have separate his/hers “fun money” accounts (at least not right now). If we eat out, we try to make it a lunch out and order things like water instead of coke to cut costs. We buy fun things for each other as rewards or gifts not “just because.” Of course, all of these examples are in no way how everyone should live. These are just things that we try to practice day to day and have worked for us.

So, here’s where you come in. I’d love to hear all of your needs vs. wants opinions and how you run things over at your casa. I’m always up for new ideas on how to not seem like a stick in the mud all the time as well! Oh and if you happen to have a yellow bug that you’re giving away because you love my pink-and-green blog, you can tell me about that too. ;)