I’m Pooling Your Wisdom And Experience Again!

Thanks to everyone for chiming in on the Cost of Beauty entry! I think the general notions is “wants” v/s “needs” and every person’s hair and skin has different needs and my poor husband needs to be prepared for some of that. The conversation also included talk of budgeting and I thought I’d add more to that part of the discussion because BUDGET TALK IS SO EXCITING. Also? Because it was so interesting to hear how everyone handles cost of beauty, I thought maybe I could see how you handle budgeting Cost Of The Non-Emergency Emergency.

First of all? YNAB is our savior. We tried so many different budgeting tools but You Need A Budget (YNAB) is the one that really fit our needs. Donnie took over our budget 2-3 years ago (I’m not detailed enough to be good at budgeting) and we’re still getting a handle on what we spend in what categories. Now – regarding whether or not we need a “beauty” line item, we kinda haven’t decided yet. Nikki may decide to get her hair cut as a birthday gift – and “gifts” are a line item. And that brings me too a budget problem I thought I’d get your feedback on.

How does everyone “plan” for non-emergency emergencies? We budget several different forms of savings – “emergency” and “retirement” and “college” and “vehicle” (when we stopped having a car payment we put that into a “vehicle” savings item) and then just a general “savings”. SO, it’s not like we’re living paycheck to paycheck, we’re very fortunate to be able to budget like we do. (I am very fortunate that Donnie budgets. My budgets were never that detailed which is why he took over. My general budgets caused us problems.)

THAT SAID…this year everyone we know is either pregnant or getting married. We have bought more wedding and baby gifts this year than we did in the 5 years prior. Plus, one of the weddings is a family wedding so there are other expenses – like clothing – that are not typically budgeted. How do you guys budget for stuff like that? We do have a “miscellaneous” category but that only gets $50 a month and usually that’s where the random twice-a-year cost goes – like haircuts. Or bullet journals. Or iPhone covers. It’s not really enough of a buffer to cover things like 14 pregnant friends, a millions weddings, and 3 suits and 2 dresses.

Just to give you an idea of how detailed our budget is: You guys mentioned “sports” fees might end up being where Wes cost more than Nikki but right now we have a “kid’s sports” line item and the one thing he gets that she doesn’t is Basketball. So, this year we gave her 1 art camp and 1 musical theatre workshop out of that budget to balance that out. But that shows you the detail we budget to – sports fees are there. We have “race registrations fees” there which includes ALL of our race fees. I’ve bypassed on a few races this year so I can use some of that $ to get a pass to our local state park for trail running. We had “coaching” as a line item but we’re ditching that to balance some other stuff now that Donnie’s Ironman coaching is done. So, we’re detailed in our budget, is my point.

But how detailed do YOU get in order to prepare for the things you can’t prepare for? Non-emergency things. We have “emergency” savings for the true unplanned emergency, but what about the unplanned non-emergency? How do you plan financially for that?

Maybe there’s just a random extra savings category: The non-emergency emergency savings. Like, $50 a month to cover the weird surge of pregnant friends or events (because funerals would do this too) that force your entire family to need dress clothes. We only budget $100 a month for clothing and since I’m an hourly independent contractor employee, some months we take from that to balance out a short paycheck from sick kids. So we can’t really count on a “build up” of clothing money because $1200 divided by 4.5 (E really doesn’t use much of the clothing budget anymore) doesn’t go very far to just keep us in Clothes That Fit Year Round. So any event that requires new clothing is going to not be included in the “clothing” budget.

How do you guys plan financially for Non-Emergency Emergencies? Is your “miscellaneous” bucket bigger and does it just accumulate until you need it? How much do you put it in monthly to give you a big enough buffer for a surge in weddings and births?

Another thing that used to zap our gifts and/or miscellaneous line item: Kid’s birthday parties. Like – OTHER kids. I’ve stopped letting my kids go to classmate parties because if I let them go to every party, and bring a gift every time, we would be going to at LEAST 15 parties a year. That’s at LEAST $300 in presents. And that’s a big chunk of the “gifts” budget that normally goes to family/kids. So we only let the kids go to parties of their actual FRIENDS (not just classmates) or we have periodically gone to the party where We’re Pretty Sure No One Else Will Go because I hate the idea of that.

SO! Give me your budget wisdom!!!! It know it’s a process and we’re still “new” to doing it “right” so if you’ve been doing it for “right” longer – help us out!

Give me some sugar!

I tried to do the 100% break from sugar once. I didn’t even make it 48 hours. I felt terrible and awful and like I was detoxing (which I was) but then I decided it wasn’t worth the anxiety and stress I was feeling just to break myself of the addiction. Have you seen Fed Up? Yeah. Sugar is more addictive to rats than cocaine. I BELIEVE IT. But sugar is NOT cocaine so I went back on the wagon and never thought of it again.

Okay. That’s not true. I think of my addiction to sugar all the time.

I still don’t thing 100% cold turkey is right for me. Mainly because it also forces you to let go of artificial sweeteners because they screw up your brain as it tastes sugar but never actually finds sugar in the bloodstream and that makes you permanently crave it.

But, here’s the thing. I really like my Diet Coke. I’ve tried quitting before to various degrees of success. But until I sell my house and can get my sleep in a normal pattern? I really need that caffeine. I also love my daily Monster drink, the one with the artificial sweetener. Both of those things help me through the days when I’ve been getting 5 hours sleep for a week and don’t want to doze off at my desk.

But I can give up the real sugar I think. I have a candy habit (totally not vegan) that I can’t seem to break now that I work in an office with a candy bowl. It’s totally not vegan and really my only consistent non-vegan issue, but it’s like I can’t resist it. THEY ARE CALLING MY NAME?

So, have you done any sugar detoxing? Is it worth it to just focus on “real” sugar and ignore artificial sweeteners? Also. Donnie is out of town this week – he comes back tomorrow – so I’ve been basically eating like an 18-year old college kid every night because I CAN. HE IS NOT HERE TO MAKE ME COOK HEALTHY.

I’m Scared. Hold me.

We’ve been wanting to sell our house for a year now. For a lot of reasons. Let me give them to you.

  • We bought this house optimistically thinking we’d need the space for any more children we might have. HA. Funny joke on my shitty uterus.
  • We used our free time renovating our old house, so buying a house that needed updating to be our “forever” home seemed fine.
  • Now we use our free time running/cycling/swimming and therefore have NO time for updating/renovating.
  • We also have no free time for cleaning, so managing a 4,000 square foot house is just a joke.
  • We no longer care about the walls around us. We used to be homebodies so those walls were important. Now they’re not, so we don’t want to waste time or money on them.
  • We need to downsize. Our entire family hangs out/uses barely half of the house.

The problem is – there are a few kinda-major things that would need to be done before we sell the house. We haven’t done those yet because we haven’t had the time. So, now we’re at the point where we think we should get a real estate agent to tell us: “This is what you could sell the house for AS IS. This is what you could sell the house for if you put this effort into these projects.” I mean, I know it’s not an exact science, but just some guidance would be nice. Donnie and I have different opinions about what’s important to buyers.

The other problem is – I’m kinda embarrassed. I haven’t “deep” cleaned in years and don’t really have time to do it now. So I don’t want a real estate agent to come over until I’ve cleaned. Which I need to admit, is never going to happen.

The other problem is – I’m scared of the “selling” process. We didn’t live in our old house when it was on the market so we never had to deal with “showing” it. That part TERRIFIES ME.

SO! Can you give me some stories to ease my mind? This is what I’m looking for:

  • Stories telling me how houses that haven’t been updated DO sell. We know we can’t get top dollar for it, because it has old cabinetry and old counters and popcorn ceilings. But can you reassure me that, if it’s priced reasonably enough, that someone will still buy it? Did your house with popcorn ceilings sell?
  • Stories about how you managed to keep a house “showable” with pets and kids. I can’t pack up my cats whenever people come to see the house. I guess we can pack up the dog, but not the cats. Did you leave your cats in your house when it was being shown?
  • Stories telling me that when you first called your real estate agent over, they didn’t judge you. Tell me they’ve seen worse. We’re going to pay to have someone deep clean it to give us a fresh start, but not yet. We’re going to wait until closer to market date. Will she judge me now? With dirty windows and baseboards?

I can’t even bring myself to call a real estate agent because the anxiety is so great. YES. I WANT OUT OF THIS HOUSE. But the anxiety keeps me from making the call. Can you help a girl out? I know selling houses is AWFUL, but maybe you can reassure me that it’s survivable.

The FitBit and Sleep

Yes. I am still addicted to my FitBit…in case you were wondering.

I wasn’t using it to log my food for awhile because I wasn’t watching what I was eating (Which is why I gained that 10lbs back! Weird how it works, right?) but I have been more diligent now that I’m trying the vegan thing. So, since I’ve been logging my food again, I’m spending more time watching my dashboard and looking at my data and I finally looked into the sleep settings.

I’ve heard SEVERAL people talk about using the “sensitive” setting on their sleep records to “really” see how they’re sleeping. I’ve never messed with my settings because I just enter in the time I went to bed, the time I woke up, and I feel like the “normal” setting paints a pretty accurate picture of how I slept.


This is me going to bed around 9pm and getting up around 4:30 which is a pretty good “average” of what I do most nights. This is a “Kid Wakes Up With Leg Cramps” night so you can see the middle-of-the-night activity spike. However, what it doesn’t do for me is really show the time it takes for me to fall asleep. I read for 15-30 minutes in bed most nights. Sometimes even longer, but it never tracks that as “awake” time because I’m still and holding a book, I’m not tossing and turning. So, even though that a small error in the reporting, I decided to switch it to “sensitive” to see what THAT report looked like.


What in the HELL? That’s a HUGE DIFFERENCE and – in my opinion – incredibly inaccurate. I mean, maybe I toss and turn a lot, but I’m definitely sleeping more than 3 hours and 50 minutes! JEEBUS.

So now I’m looking back on past conversations with FitBit users who area all, “I only actually sleep 4 hours a night…” and wonder if this is why they’re saying that. Because I’ve heard TONS of people say that and I’m always thrown for a loop because – WHO LIVES LIKE THAT? Who lives consistently on 4 hours of sleep a night and still is healthy enough to function like an normal person?

I’m just saying…that’s a HUGE difference in data reporting. Yes, it does a better job demonstrating my movements while I read to fall asleep, but it goes a little overboard there, I believe.

And here’s another night comparison to show it’s consistent in this huge range of data reporting:


I’m going to check again the next time I feel like I’ve had a solid night of restful sleep and see what it says. And I may try turning the “sleep tracker” on from my band when I sleep which is another method I don’t really bother with because I felt like the normal method was fine.

Have you ever changed your tracking via your desktop to “sensitive” instead of “normal” and compared the data? Do you find it as incorrect as I did? Or am I really that restless of a sleeper and just blissfully ignorant about it. (There’s NO WAY. I feel too good to sleep that horribly.)

My Co-Worker

This day has been INSANE and I almost forgot to post something. OH MY GOD. Five days in and I almost screwed up NaBloPoMo! But I remembered! So here is a half-assed post about my cat!

(Here’s a topic of discussion: Which is worse…blogging about your cat, or your dreams?)

I work from home now, which has the same amounts of pros and cons as working in an office does. Just typically the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Office: Pro – no cat hair in your printer. Con – You have to wear something other than your pajamas.
Home: Pro – I don’t have to even shower, much less get dressed. Con – My feline co-worker get all up in my workspace.

Bambi likes to hang out near me as much of the day as possible now. He still doesn’t bother with me at night, but during the day when it’s just me at the computer? He tries to find the most inconvenient place possible to relax. Maybe on the printer, maybe on my chair, maybe on my bullet journal…either way, he has to be wherever is the most annoying to me at that moment. And while part of me is like, “GET OUT OF MY CHAIR!” the other part of me is smitten with him because he’s old (14) and not super-affectionate and I kinda like that he seeks me out when it’s just a quiet work day at the house.

P.S. I don’t think embedded instagram photos show up on my blog if you’re viewing on a mobile device. If you can’t see any photos on this entry, then just imagine pictures of my cat in all of the annoying places possible on/around a desk.