Tag Archives: money

Schedules, Lists and Plans

6 Mar

First off, I’m sorry that I’ve been completely MIA from my blog and from reading your blogs. My head is spinning with everything that is going on right now, and blogging/reading blogs has fallen way down on the priority list. But I will get caught up eventually!

In the midst of the current chaos, I have been maintaining my sanity by keeping schedules, lists and plans in various areas:

Meal-Planning:

Whenever I get busy, lazy or tired, dinner is one of the first things to go. Poor Travis has had to deal with more than his fair share of frozen pizzas, ‘whatever you can find’ and ‘breakfast for dinner’ dinners. Add to that a complete lack of inspiration for dinner ideas and it was a mess. Then two things happened: I heard of ZipList, an online tool that lets you file recipes and add the ingredients to a shopping list organized by aisle. And I was also inspired by nHerShoes to assign each night a dinner theme, thereby giving a little more structure to what to make. Added bonus: more variety!

I have been doing this for about 3 weeks now, and while it unfortunately hasn’t helped me spend less on groceries (need to start working on that too!), it has been a huge success in helping me make actual dinners, and get away from my handful of rotating recipes (which are great to have, but we needed to mix it up badly!).

Budgeting:

I mentioned back in January that I’m taking over the finances in our family. Well, we haven’t had time to sit down and go over the bills and stuff, so Travis is still handling that. But I have been tracking our budget and spending! After my mind exploded trying to track our credit card, checking account, bills, income, etc. via an Excel spreadsheet, I was inspired by Mel at Winners Wear Yellow to use Mint.com. So. Much. Easier. And it has a nifty button you can check to carry over any unspent funds to the next month, taking the guesswork out of those expenses (like auto and house maintenance) that typically are spent in large chunks, but (ideally) saved for monthly.

We use US Bank and because of security measures for logging in, Mint.com can’t automatically update our account balances and activity. But I can still manually update it, so it works out. It has helped keep us on track and while we are still going over in some categories, we were a lot less over than we were before. Progress!

Running:

I’m training! For a race! I’m 3 weeks in to a 10-week training plan. My longest run so far has been 4 miles – which used to be nothing, but now was the longest run I’ve done since July 2012. I’ve also been doing some cross-training via videos at home and I have to say, it feels GREAT to be back working out regularly. I’m averaging only about 3 times a week, but it’s been nice.

A few things about the race (Hot Chocolate 15k on April 19 in Minneapolis) though are cramping my style:

1) I realized it’s on Easter weekend. We were going to have the race weekend be a little husband/wife getaway sans baby but we have to be with her on her first Easter! So boo on that.

2) Travis is studying for the California Professional Engineers exam, which is like the Colorado PE that he took back in 2012, except even more intense. So he’ll be studying a lot between now and the race, which means I’ll have to watch Emma.

3) It’s still winter in Minnesota. Like, majorly winter. And the town where Travis’ parents live doesn’t have an indoor track, so I’ll be relegated to running on the dreadmill. I don’t know if I can handle that.

Needless to say, with all of those factors, I’m not absolutely dead set on running this race. I’m still going to train for it as much as I can, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I’d still like to run a race before getting pregnant again (ahem…), but flexibility is the name of the game right now.

And that’s all I have time for! I’ll be back tomorrow for Emma’s 11-month update!

* I was not compensated by ZipList, Mint.com or Hot Chocolate 15K for this post. All opinions are my own.

Where I’ve Been + Where I’m Going

9 Jan

Where I’ve Been

At the beginning of last year, I set the goal of writing down one thing each day that I was thankful for. Well, after March 11, I failed. Miserably.

But all is not lost, because I did spend the year learning how to be thankful when life is hard. Becoming a mom has challenged me in more ways than anything ever has – even more than getting married. It has forced me to let go of my to-do list and agenda daily. It has changed my identity. It has changed how I spend my free time (what’s free time again?). It changed my marriage. It changed my career. It changed my home.

I’ve discovered, though, that no matter how much in my life changes, or what season I’m going through, whether things are easy or hard, whether I’m satisfied or discontent, giving God thanks is always the path to joy. Because in giving thanks, I accept the life God has given me and deem it Good.

I admit, it is HARD to give thanks when you want to yell and scream and kick against the circumstances God has allowed. When you want to send the meal of your life back to the kitchen and order something else. But because we Christians have the promise of eternity with God, and a purpose for things that is bigger than this visible world, we can be thankful for ALL THINGS.

Where I’m Going

I thought that making one goal for the year would increase my odds of actually achieving it. But I proved that theory wrong last year. So for 2014, I’m aiming a bit lower with ‘areas of focus.’ Ha. Mostly the New Year just coincides with me finally deciding to get my act together and stop making excuses. So without further adieu, here are my 4 ‘areas of focus’ for 2014 (in order of importance):

1) Spend time with God daily. God is the most important aspect of my life. If I can make time for anything else, I can make time for Him. It doesn’t have to be sitting down and reading the Bible, though that’s usually what it looks like. It could be listening to a sermon while running, just praying for an extended amount of time, soaking in worship music on the way to work, etc. Just something that gets me engaging with God and reminding my soul of truth every day.

2) Eat healthy foods. Over the past year or so, I have found myself regularly eating things that before getting pregnant, I would have only eaten once in a blue moon. I’ve also been slacking on eating the healthy stuff. So what this ‘area of focus’ entails is:

  • Include a fruit or vegetable with every meal and snack.
  • Drink wine only one day a week.
  • Eat only one sweet a day, if any.

3) Exercise. I say that this is one of my passions, but looking at my tracking in MapMyRun, you would never know it! I’ve been thinking recently about the reasons why I haven’t gotten back in the groove, and my ‘reasons’ are pathetic. If I can find time to go to Target 3 times a week, I can find time to work out! So no more excuses. I just need to do it. Already this week, I’ve gone on my first run since Thanksgiving, my first swim since May 2012 and done an 8-minute Tabata workout that made me sore. Man, I am so out of shape. But fortunately, I just enjoy being active, even if it’s a pale comparison to my pre-pregnancy fitness.

4) Stick to a budget. God has blessed Travis and I with abundance, and until Emma, we were a DINK (Dual Income No Kids) family, so while we’ve had a budget for the past couple of years, I don’t think we’ve actually stuck to it. Ever. However, since I’ll probably no longer be working when we move, and we plan to have more kids in the next several years, we will need to learn how to! I also feel convicted that we aren’t being the best stewards of God’s money by not knowing more about where all our money goes.

Our main problem with sticking to a budget is that even though we are fairly practical in what we buy, we make a lot of purchases that aren’t planned for. They’re usually paid for out of what we call the ‘slop’ in our budget (a.k.a. the money we’ve budgeted for other things that we didn’t use this month, but might need next month). So we will definitely need to learn delayed gratification.

On a similar note, we’ve recently decided that I am going to take over handling our finances, paying bills, etc. (GULP) since I’m the one who spends most of our money. I’m toying with the idea of going back to using envelopes of cash (Dave Ramsey style). Best part of this is that I am now in control of the (nonexistent) Gun Fund. ;)

So there you have it!

The irony of pregnancy

3 Oct

You have headaches often but can’t take aspirin.

You feel like a zombie but can only have 200 mg of caffeine. And coffee sounds disgusting anyway.

You’re overwhelmed by monthly checklists, diaper options and product reviews, but can’t have a drink.

You’re actually supposed to gain weight by eating more, but nothing sounds appealing.

You need new clothes but have no idea what size you are and 80% of stores that sell maternity clothes only have them online.

That last one is the one I’m struggling with.

Buying maternity clothes has been one of the things I’ve looked forward to most about pregnancy. A valid reason to buy more clothes? Heck yes!

But the frugal side of me wants to find good deals, make sure I love the things I buy and try my best to not duplicate things I already have (pre-pregnancy or otherwise). Needless to say, it made my head spin a bit yesterday.

So I decided that I needed to plan a wardrobe and not just buy random pieces that I happened to like (yes, I do overthink things). I pasted screenshots into a Publisher file and finally narrowed it down to the things that I want to buy (at least for now).

 

Most of the pieces are from Old Navy, some are from Target and a few from Kohl’s (but I plan on buying pants in person, with the exception of those adorable green ones!).

But since I don’t have $360 to spend all at once, I narrowed my list down to $150 (which is my Blow Money amount) for this month. Pants are my most urgently needed item so I bought the green pants from Old Navy and will look for a pair of black and tan dress pants this week or weekend (planning to spend about $35 on each). After much deliberation, I decided to also buy the black maternity tank, camel sweater, and taupe dress top from Old Navy. And that will probably be it for this month (assuming everything fits well, that is).

I’ve been hesitant to go buy pants because the used maternity store I want to go to is only open Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5:30 pm. I’d really like to see what the prices are like and if it’s even worth shopping there, but I can’t find out until Saturday. But I can probably survive until then.

In other news, our Ford Focus, which we’ve been driving “until it dies” is on its way out. I went to start it on Monday and nothing. It’s working again now but Travis is very skeptical of its reliability. We know we need a new car eventually (the Focus is a 2001 with almost 170,000 miles) and we’re thinking we might as buy it now rather than wait (since the Focus has been sketchy for several months now – it’s not the first time it hasn’t started). So this weekend will probably also involve car shopping in addition to maternity clothes shopping. We’ve pretty much decided that we want a certified pre-owned Ford Escape with a V6. It will definitely be the nicest car either of us has ever owned. I’m pretty excited!

Clothes and Couches.

24 May

Clothes

Our care group is having a little BBQ this Saturday and since it’s supposed to be 84 degrees, I’m planning to wear my new dress:

I LOVE this dress. It’s so comfy, casual and for some reason, I’m smitten with the orange/tan color combo.

As for the trendy vs. timeless pants, longevity and comfort are the winners this time.

The skinny jeans fit me well… standing up.

But they’re a little iffy for bending over or sitting down, meaning I’d always have to wear a belt. And since I don’t like being limited like that…

Dress pants it is.

The dress pants are the Aubrey cut from Gap (a quick Google search shows that they’re either only available at Gap outlet or have been renamed). They’re the perfect size in both the waist and hips (hard to find!), perfect length to wear with either heels or flats, and they’re machine washable. Best part, I got them for 50% off. I feel like $30 for nice dress pants is a very reasonable price.

After much contemplating, I mailed my “marathon shirt” back yesterday. I did exchange it for a large and while it fit better, it was still really long and a little tighter than I would prefer:

One of my friends is an amazing seamstress (I was going to write “sewer”, but somehow that didn’t seem right…) and I was thinking about asking her to shorten the shirt 2-3 inches. But the more I thought about it, it’s just not the right shirt. So back it went, much to our wallet’s delight.

Speaking of our wallet, I have not bought and am no longer planning to buy a Garmin just yet. A new pair of running shoes had to come first (somehow, they seemed more essential) and our Alaska trip has pretty much eliminated any wiggle room beyond that in our budget. But it’s a small price to pay for the trip of a lifetime.

So what am I planning to wear for the marathon? Well, after way too much thought and deliberation, I’ve (almost) decided to go with this short-sleeve shirt if it’s a warm day:

 Malibu Half 2010

Or this shirt if it’s chilly:

On the bottom, I’ll wear my pink running skirt over my 2XU compression tights. The other bottom option I’ve been thinking about is my running skirt over my Aspaeris compression shorts (just in case compression tights would be too warm) but then I’d want to wear compression socks and not only would that be more $$ to spend, I’m not sure it would be any cooler than the tights in the first place. I’ll probably change my mind 10 more times before the race and end up bringing along 5 different options anyway. Le sigh. #firstworldproblems

Travis laughs whenever I bring up the majorly important and hard decision of what I’m going to wear during the marathon. “When I ran my marathon {Twin Cities 2006},” he said, “the night before the race, I realized that I didn’t have a drifit shirt. My roommate said he had one I could borrow, and that’s what I wore.”

Boys.

Couches

We are LOVING our new couches that we got from our friends who just sold their house to travel around the country:

You almost can’t even see Charlie on the loveseat… but she’s there. All. the. time. Luckily, besides a minor mishap (looking at you Katy) in the first 36 hours, the couches have remained intact. But the dogs still lick them every chance they get. ?!?!?

School’s out for summer!

9 Mar

I get to leave work at 12:45 today. And because it’s sunny and almost 60 degrees outside, I feel like a kid getting out of school for the summer. I have been looking forward to this all week long – it’s the little things in life.

I am so excited to go on a run in the warm daylight, and still enjoy a full night of relaxation afterward. This week has been crazy and this afternoon will be Glorious.

I just have to make it through a call about life insurance with our financial planner…

You might know that I don’t do anything with money except spend it. All things financial bore me to tears and anger. When I announced last night that I was going to bed, Travis started talking to me about life insurance. Nope, not talking about this now. See ya.

Travis asked me again this morning when would be a good time to have our phone call. I couldn’t keep my eyes from rolling. The last thing I want to do on my glorious day of freedom is talk about money. 

But, in an effort to be grateful for a husband that cares about things like life insurance and kindly doesn’t ask me to be involved unless legally necessary, I will allow the phone call to infringe. I realize it’s not necessarily a good thing that I don’t want to be involved in our financial situation, but I don’t think you’d want to be involved in something that made you want to poke out your eyes with sharp objects either. (And no, I am not being overly dramatic at all.)

After the call of gloom, I will skip happily and merrily into my free afternoon of running and reading! I might even paint my toenails with the fun purple color I bought a couple weeks ago…

What are you up to this fine Friday? Do you like talking about finances and future planning?

New Running Gear!

30 Dec

Even though my family is wonderfully generous and I got lots of great presents for Christmas, I didn’t get any running stuff (which was secretly what I wanted the most, but it’s also the hardest to buy for someone else so I totally understand why they bought other things).

So after thinking long and hard about the running gear that I would most like right now, and shopping around for the most reasonable prices (I think I can only handle spending $100 on running tights once in my life), I bought the following:

Underarmour Coldgear Compression Tights – $49.99

For every run I’ve gone on that’s been colder than 40 degrees, I’ve worn Smartwool long underwear under my regular running pants. It works but the long underwear doesn’t stretch at all and I don’t like having to wear 2 layers. So hopefully these will solve my dilemma.

I bought a medium because that’s almost always what my size is, but according to my waist/hip measurements and their size chart, I would be an XXL. So I’m crossing my fingers that they’re the ones on crack, not me.

Nike Windproof 1/2 Zip Jacket – on sale for $29.23!

I’ve been wanting a running jacket for a while but am so cheap that I almost pass out every time I look at their price tags. {Side note: What happened to me?!?!} This jacket is cute, on sale, windproof and water resistant (which is all I need because I don’t usually run when it’s pouring outside). I also bought a medium in this.

I’ll let you know how I like them after they come and I have a chance to try them out.

I haven’t tried out my new shoes yet because I was a big lazy butt last night and this morning. I watched Sweet Home Alabama on TV (love that movie!) and then slept in until 7. I’ve just been so tired this week – I don’t know what my deal is. Usually, I’m wide awake once I get up but this week, I get up late after getting 8+ hours of sleep and still want to go straight back to bed.

Anyway, I’m going for my run after work today. And I’m actually excited because it’s supposed to be about 45 degrees and almost all of the snow we had has melted, which means no more slipping, sliding and accidentally stepping in ankle deep puddles.

What is the most important thing for you to have/wear on cold runs?

The giveaway winner is…

11 Nov

Based on the order of comments and random.org’s selection, the winner of my 400th blog post giveaway is…

One Bad Mamma Jamma!

Please email your address to me at specialkkluthe [at] gmail [dot] com and I will send you your prize! Thanks to all of you for commenting!

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A few of you asked me to talk more about what gear I like for running. It’s really not that exciting but since you asked…

Shirts

I’m pretty boring and cheap because I usually wear the tech shirts that I have gotten from either races I worked last year or done myself. My favorite shirts are the ones I got from the Heart and Sole Half Marathon last year, Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll this year, and the Steamboat Springs Oly this year. The main reason I love those is that they’re a women’s size – usually races just offer unisex sizing and the smalls are still too big. But with the women’s sizing, a medium fits perfectly. So if you’re looking for tech shirts, or doing a race that offers women’s sizes, go for the women’s if you like a tighter fit.

Of the few shirts I have actually bought for running, I really like the Under Armour shirt that I bought last year when training for the Malibu half marathon:

It’s so cute that I wear it around even when I’m not exercising and the length is perfect so that it never rides up. It’s also a wicking fabric and dries really fast, which is good when you’re hiking in the Smoky Mountains and look like this at the top:

(I was dry by the time we got back to the car.)

I also have three long-sleeve tech shirts (yes, only three) – one is Nike (and has taken a beating!), one is Alpine Design from Sports Authority (I’m wearing it in the Denver RnR picture below, along with a fleece vest that is literally falling apart), and another is from a race we put on last year (and it’s bigger, so it’s my least favorite but it still works).

Something I will be intentional about looking for on running clothes in the future is reflective detailing. My New Balance Capris (below) and Alpine Design shirt both have reflective elements and when I was wearing them on a little-too-late run with Travis the other night, it was nice knowing that I was more visible to cars.

Shorts/Pants

The bottoms that I wear most often for running are spandex shorts and pants – like the Adidas shorts I wore for the half marathon above (similar to these) or the 2XU compression tights I wore for the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll.

There are a few things that I’m not thrilled about with the shorts and tights – the shorts don’t stay completely down (they would need to either be tighter like tri shorts or have elastic at the bottom of each leg) and the 2XU compression tights, while amazing and worth the money, are a little short. Instead of being full-length pants, they’re about 5 inches above my ankle. Not a huge deal, just a little annoying. But both options beat the feeling of shorts riding up! And there’s much less chance of chafing when you’re wearing form-fitting clothing for long workouts – always a good thing.

My latest obsession is the pair of New Balance capris I got for my birthday.

I love those capris. They’re perfect for fall runs in the 40s and 50s where you want something more than shorts but don’t quite need pants either. There is a pocket on the inside front, as well as the back outside. I stored my car key in the back pocket for a run once and it actually worked really well.

I also have a pair of Nike DriFit pants that I found on clearance when I first started running in 2006 (they’re still good!) and a pair of Puma running pants that I got out of lost and found last year (hey, no one had claimed them!).

Shoes

My mantra with shoes is “Don’t mess with a good thing.” So for the past 3 years, I’ve worn the Nike Zoom Structure Triax. These were the blue ones I had before I got pink ones:

Now the shoes are all fancy.

Sports Bras

As far as sports bras go, I am still in search of one that actually impresses me with how well it holds the girls down. I’ve heard raving reviews of Moving Comfort bras – to the order of “They don’t bounce at all!” Well, I beg to differ. The Juno bra that I bought did do more than an average bra, and I did wear it for an Olympic triathlon and do fine but still, there was bounce-age. I tried on the Fiona bra as well and it was laughable how much it didn’t do. For $52, you think they could do a little better than that. One day, I might check out the granny bras from Enell. But that day is not today.

Heart Rate Monitor

The heart rate monitor I have is the Polar F6 Green Tea.

I’ve been very pleased with it – my only regret is that I can’t record splits. If/when I get a new heart rate monitor, I will make sure to get one with that capability.

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Anyway, if you haven’t noticed, I don’t spend a ton of money on running gear… I would like to because Nike and Under Armour have some seriously cute stuff. But I only have so much money to divide between race fees, racing equipment, and athletic apparel so I have to look at my running wardrobe as something I accumulate over time. The next thing I would like to get is a jacket for running in the fall, winter and rain.

So now you’re up to date on my running gear. Did I mention Body Glide is a runner’s best friend ever? That stuff is awesome. Buy it. Use it. You’ll thank me later.

What’s your favorite piece of running gear? 

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