John and I have been discussing a lot about our plans for the future, especially when it comes to when we will purchase our own house here in North Carolina. While interest rates are low, the housing market seems to have creeped up a bit over the past year. Since John just started working for himself in September 2014, the soonest we could purchase a home would be in September 2016. But, we think we are going to wait even longer to purchase a home unless the market suddenly takes a huge dip. Buying versus renting has been a frequent subject of conversation here in our household!
Archives for February 2015
We were chatting the other day about life and our dreams on one of the beautiful drives we take here in North Carolina. We both agree that we’re happiest when we’re on the road, traveling, seeing places, exploring new areas, etc. Adventures are exciting and (to us) are what make life worth living. I had recently come across this awesome blog about a couple who live on a sailboat almost full-time. They also have three little girls ages 3 and under. Yup, reread that. Three little girls 3 and under…on a sailboat. I mentioned to John on that drive how it would be really cool to live in an RV for a year or so and travel all across the US. I didn’t think he would agree to this idea, but he actually thought it would be really fun and when we got home he started looking at the cost of used RVs and all the different types.
And so an idea was born…
Since moving into a larger home, I have been worried about what our utilities were going to be. Well, after receiving our gas bill last week and our electric bill over the weekend, it’s safe to say we will be cutting back immensely this month.
Our gas bill was $167, our electric bill was $196 and our water bill was $48.
Let’s break it down…
January was a cold month here in NC, especially for us considering we are from AZ. We decided to put our thermostat at 70 degrees and adjust as needed depending on that first bill. This may surprise some of you, but I’m actually OK with the $167 gas bill. John and I decided if it was more than $200, we would turn it down but since it’s $167, we’re keeping it at 70 degrees. I know I’m a wimp…but I’m FREEZING even though to most people 70 is probably warm. I definitely plan on lowering the thermostat next winter once we’ve adjusted a bit to the colder climate. In comparison, our electric bill in AZ over the summer months was $250-$300 keeping it 80-81 degrees in a 1700 sq ft house. It’s all relative…
Currently, we are living in a 3000 square foot rental home. To some that may be average, but to us this house is quite large. In fact, it’s the biggest house my husband and I have ever lived in. I was nervous moving in thinking about what it would be like to clean the house. Since we’ve lived here almost two months now, I thought it would be interesting to share my cleaning schedule. It actually hasn’t been as daunting as I thought, thank goodness.
I will preface this post by saying that I’m naturally a pretty clean person. My kitchen is always clean, laundry is never piled up and we don’t have random toys strewn throughout the house. The girls know that their toys stay in the play room or in their rooms. They bring toys downstairs, naturally, but know that they belong upstairs and they put them away when they are done. I do dishes throughout the day as needed, I wipe down the counters multiple times per day and I rotate laundry as I go. It’s really not that hard to bring the dirty clothes with me on my way downstairs and throw them in the washer. This method has prevented me from doing multiple loads at once on any given day.
My biggest tip for keeping a big house clean
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! John and I don’t go all-out for the holiday, but we do enjoy an excuse to celebrate our love. In the past, we’ve both made dinner at home and gone out to eat at fancy steakhouses. While going out to eat on Valentine’s Day was fun, this year we’re opting to stay in. There’s really nothing better than being at home with the one I love – plus, let’s be honest, no one likes to be in crowded restaurants and spend money on overpriced food.
This past weekend, our local grocery store – Publix – had a Valentine’s Day tasting event. It may be pathetic, but yes, I planned my day around this event. Free samples of desserts, cheeses, wines and yummy food – yes please. We sampled a Blackened-Barbecue Shrimp Salad with Orange Dream Shakes that were both to die for, so that’s what we’re making on Saturday. We budgeted $50 for the meal, but if you look at the ingredients, it doesn’t look like it will cost more than $25 or so.
As far as gifts go, we sometimes exchange and sometimes don’t. It really depends on what’s going on with our financial situation at the time. The year we went to the steakhouse, we didn’t exchange, but normally we buy each other something small to exchange over dinner. John has also gone all-out before and surprised me with jewelry, candles and clothing. Even though I’m a saver, it’s a really sweet gesture to be surprised, regardless of cost 🙂
So, I thought it would be fun to create a little gift-guide for your loved ones. All of these ideas are affordable and less than $35!
I’ve decided to share my freelancing and online income with readers to hopefully encourage others that it’s very possible to make a decent income online while staying home with your kids, living wherever you please or doing whatever it is you choose. Last year, I was sharing both mine and my husband’s income, but I’ve decided to only share my income moving forward. I’ll provide “business updates” once a quarter and update how the both of us our doing with our careers.
I’ve been freelancing three years this coming July and I’m almost certain I will never, ever return to a desk job again. My favorite job I’ve ever had was after college when I was a waitress at a breakfast restaurant. I loved it so much I stayed for three years before actually getting a job in finance (my major). I would honestly rather go back to that than get a desk job at this point in my life. When my kids are in school full-time, perhaps I’ll change my mind, but I highly doubt it. Working for yourself and from home has SO many benefits, including unlimited income potential, flexible schedule, being able to get household chores done, being able to run errands as you please, working as much or as little as you want and more.
So, onto my income for January…
Happy Wednesday! Before I dive into today’s topic, I don’t know if anyone noticed but I got a new theme installed on my blog! It’s from Pixel Me Designs and I could not be happier with it. Laura, the designer, is wonderful to work with. I purchased a pre-made theme but emailed her a question and she responded immediately. I am all about good customer service and Laura surpassed my expectations! For those of you new to my blog, I have a self-hosted WordPress site and am using Genesis Framework. Laura provided me with the Child Theme that goes along with Genesis Framework. You can read more on how to start a blog here.
The original theme I was using didn’t properly load “page 2” and on, making it difficult to navigate my site. I deleted that theme a few weeks ago and was just running off of Genesis Framework. I took my time purchasing my current theme because I wanted to find one that I LOVED and that was functional. Having an appealing, easy-to-navigate, fully functioning site is vital if you wish to make money from your blog.
Anyways, on to today’s topic…
I’ve recently been thinking about entertainment budgets. While they aren’t necessary and they can actually be completely free (as the Frugalwoods have shown us!), entertainment does add value and fun to our lives. We all have different ideas of what entertainment is – but I think we can all agree that it’s spending money on an item or activity that will make you happy. Superficial? Sure, but sometimes you have to get out of your house and live a little (and maybe spend some money).
To me, entertainment means seeing movies (either in theaters or renting), going to concerts, traveling, shopping, visiting museums and I’m even going to take it one step further and say it can mean going out to eat or stopping for a coffee. While those expenses can be classified under “Food,” they’re more entertainment for me as I could easily eat at home or drink my coffee at home. It’s an “extra” and therefore – it’s entertainment.