What I Wore to… Go on a Thrifting Date With My Husband

You know what’s lovely? When your in-laws invite you over for a Sunday supper. You know what’s even lovelier? When they suggest you drop the kids off early and go out with your husband for a while before said supper. *Delightful* (I just happen to have some of the nicest in-laws in the whole world, by the way.) Normally we’d just leave the three “big kids” and take Pooter with us, but they suggested we leave him, so we had a rare time out completely kid-free.

I really did intend to get a picture of me actually wearing this outfit, but our afternoon got too busy. And way too fun.

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Black dress and nude tank top, Old Navy
Flats, thrifted
Nursing necklace, here

First we stopped at Starbucks, for a little “free splurge” – my husband the teacher gets lots of gift cards from his students at Christmas. Then, knowing we needed to get new running shoes for Princess, we went into the shoe store next door. There we saw a pair she would absolutely love – black and purple and sparkly. Oooooh! But for $54.99? Just not in the budget right now!

We went to our favourite thrift store on the other side of the parking lot. First we dropped off two garbage bags full of donations. (Doesn’t it feel good to purge?!) Then we blitzed the store. We didn’t have much time to hunt, but we did well. For under $40 (well under the price of one pair of brand new running shoes for a six-year-old), this was our haul:

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The big ticket item was a Mexx dress shirt for my husband (for $12.99). We also grabbed three books for Christmas gifts, the much-needed running shoes for Princess, Osh Kosh dressy boots for Princess (the faux-fur lining is incredibly soft! She was thrilled with them.), and Columbia boots for me.

Great deals, a lovely afternoon with my number one guy, and a delicious family dinner. Good day all around!

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What I Wore to…Drop my Kids off at Daycare

Good morning, Mighty Ones!

Today is my very first “What I Wore…” post and I’ve been excited about it for weeks.  Let me tell you why.

As many of you know I recently returned to work after twenty-two months at home caring for my three little people.  Big deal, right?  Going back into the workplace after nearly two years of working at home changes nearly every aspect of your life, both big and small.  Because I think that this is something we mothers don’t talk about often enough, I’m going to risk sounding a little shallow here and go so far as to say that one of the biggest changes for me, and one that I thought about often and planned for extensively, was the necessary wardrobe shift.  I love clothes and I love to look nice whether I’m running to the mailbox, chasing my people at the playground, hanging out at home to bake something yummy (never underestimate the mood-boosting power of a fabulous apron, people!), attending church on Sunday morning, on a date with my (very) handsome husband, or teaching middle school.  I like to look my best because, whether I like to admit it out loud or not, feeling like I look nice has a huge impact on my mood.  And we all know the power that “Mommy’s Mood” has over a family.  And thanks to Spiderman, we also know that with great power comes great responsibility.  Therefore, I have come to the very scientifically-based conclusion that it behooves me to take care in this particular area of my life, since it can and does affect my entire family.  Don’t mistake me: This conclusion is never, ever, to be used as an excuse to shop.  Ever.  But it IS to be used as motivation to put thought and effort into creating a sustainable and well-planned wardrobe of things that make me feel fabulous.  There is much more to say on this topic, but I will wait for another time.

Anyway, today is a Monday, and therefore a work day for me.  At this point I would normally be teaching my first class of the day in one of my fabulous new-to-me (I have recently become a highly successful thrift shopper…more on that later as well!) work outfits.  But instead, I find myself at home nursing the inevitable “Back to School Bug” that teachers and students know all too well.  This of course means that instead of a professional dress, make-up, pumps, and pearl studs that I am actually rocking some black maternity yoga pants, a sports bra, and a long-sleeved cotton tee that used to belong to Monique’s sister.  No make-up.  Messy bun.  Runny nose.  Hacking cough.  Snuggly quilt.  Classy.

I did however need to run out and drop my children off at school and daycare early this morning, so I decided to show you that outfit instead.  This could also definitely be worn to work for Casual Friday, errand-running, and pretty much any other time I need to come across as put-together, but relaxed.  All these pieces are either hand-me-downs from friends or thrifted with the exception of the sunglasses (which are prescription), the earrings (which I bought at Walmart for under $4), and the lip-gloss (Covergirl Wetslicks Crystals, in “sassy”).

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Here we have a cosy belted cardigan, a simple black cotton tee with a neckline that is flattering on my body-type, dark-wash skinny jeans, black Blowfish ballet flats, black ball stud earrings, sunglasses, lip-gloss, and a messy bun.  Comfortable, simple, tidy, well-fitting, stylish, and EASY.  Also, highly affordable.

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So there you have it, Mighty Ones:  What I wore to drop my kids off at daycare.

Happy Monday!!

Five for Fun

Sleepy Dudes

Plum tuckered.

1. There is a dog in my house, and he just might end up being ours. We’ve been giving a lot of thought to adding a four-legged member to our family, but both my cat allergy and my father’s rodent-loathing have narrowed our choices considerably. We found a fella we believe to be the perfect fit, but I won’t jinx it by giving it all away just yet. He is a very sweet boy and these two are fast becoming best buds.

2. September 1st might as well be New Year’s Day to me, since that’s when I make all of my resolutions. This year’s list is short: buy nothing. There will have to be exceptions, of course, and it is enumerating these items that occupies much of my fun-thinking time. Stay tuned and watch me succeed/fail spectacularly!

 

Lippy

Stove-top Alchemist.

3. My brother is getting married tomorrow, and I spent this past weekend making custom lip balm wedding favours. I am always so pleasantly surprised when something turns out as well in real life as I pictured in my head. I used the recipe from Karrie at Happy Money Saver (with slight modifications for the bride’s and groom’s custom flavours). I love it. Would make again.

4. While helping to choose music for the wedding playlist, I remembered that I know all the words to a lot of songs.

 

 

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Monique.

5. I once bought a dress online for the stupid reason that it had the same name as me, and it’s never fit me so it’s hung in my closet for over a year. One of those aspirational dresses. You know what I mean. Or maybe you don’t, in which case I congratulate you on being so highly evolved. I had planned (months ago) to wear it to the wedding this weekend, but wisely, I had a back-up plan: I borrowed a dress. Well, I borrowed four dresses, actually. I have never done this before, but I suspect it helps to have friends with great taste. Thanks for the assist, Sam!

 

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The Easiest Budgeting System Ever

We are now *officially* a one-income family. My maternity leave benefits have ended, and the paperwork now shows that I am no longer employed. Logic tells me that we can surely live well on one income, as long as we have a budget.

Budget. Yuck. Every time we have tried to set a budget in the past we have failed. We did all the right things…

  • We outlined our monthly income.
  • We allocated money for all of our bills.
  • We made sure we were putting money into long- and short-term savings.
  • We determined monthly spending amounts for necessary categories such as food, gas and clothing.

But it just didn’t work. I don’t spend $30 a month on clothing; I buy one good-quality item and then don’t buy anything for a while. I don’t buy just enough food for the week, because I prefer to stock up on grocery deals when prices are excellent, which might mean buying 10 lbs of cheese at one time, or a dozen green peppers to slice and freeze.  So, since traditional budgeting wasn’t working, I started using the simplest money-management system I could think of.

I drew on money maven Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s rule that says you have to WRITE IT ALL DOWN. That was my starting point. I grabbed a clipboard and some lined paper, because I’m a pen and paper girl. Are you ready for the brilliance?

On one sheet of paper, I made two columns, because my husband gets paid twice per month. Under each pay period, I listed all of our committed expenses that are covered by that paycheque – including bills, donations, investments, and deposits into our savings accounts. Then I totalled each column. This sheet of paper stays on the clipboard all the time.

On a fresh sheet of paper, I wrote the date of the next payday. I noted the amount that would be deposited into our account and subtracted the committed expenses for that pay period. The remainder is what is available to spend. It needs to cover all our variable expenses – groceries, gas for our vehicles, clothes, home maintenance, and anything else we might need to pay for. Each time we make a purchase, it gets listed on the paper and deducted from that amount. Check out an example:Image

At any point, we can look at the clipboard and easily see how much money is available. It’s basic. Low-tech. Easy-peasy. Once the balance on that sheet of paper reads $0, we have to stop spending until payday. It sounds reasonable, right? But it takes willpower. We have credit cards! I *could* keep spending after the money is gone. But then I either have to use the next paycheque to pay it off, or start accumulating debt. I don’t want to do either of those things.

This is a really, truly simple way to track your spending to make sure you are living within your means. It clearly shows that money is a finite resource. It can only be spent once!

You might be wondering how a system like this works for larger expenses. For example, how do we cover Christmas gifts and family vacations? This happens through the magic of sinking funds. A sinking fund is a separate space where you set aside money on a regular basis to cover a larger, irregular expense. It could be an envelope that holds cash, or a dedicated bank account. In our family, we use five ING Direct savings accounts for: Fun Money, Emergencies, Christmas, Property Taxes, and Farm Share. Each month we contribute a set amount of money into these accounts. They are set up to take place automatically, so we don’t even have to think about it. These monthly deposits form part of our committed expenses, so we can be sure to have the appropriate amount of money available when the need arises.

In this busy season of our lives, the last thing we need is a complicated money management system. This is as simple and it works. I’ll take it.