{ spending hiatus }

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I posted last week about joining in on Aimee at Mostly Mod's remainder of 2009 spending hiatus and got lots of great comments and emails with more questions about it...so I will attempt to explain my personal motivation and answer some of your questions about it. I can say that my motivation in doing this is really getting a grip on the non-essential spending that happens in our household (and by that I mean by ME). As you ALL know, it is really easy to drop $100 in Target and later try to recall what exactly you bought... We are very fortunate that we own our own businesses and aren't at risk of being laid off during this recession, but we seriously need to be better about not buying STUFF we don't NEED.

So for ME, this spending hiatus is about spending SMART. This isn't about deprivation. This is about plugging my leaks of wasteful spending and using our money for specific purposes, rather than by habit or accident. We are attempting to save money by spending only on things that we really care about and plan to buy for a specific purpose. The bottom line with this spending hiatus for me is to spend less money on things I don't care much about so I can spend on things I do care about (eg. traveling). We want to spend our discretionary money on doing rather than owning. Because in the end, positive life experiences contribute to happiness more than things do.

Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word that means "nonviolence." In ancient yoga texts, it means not violently compelling ourselves or others to change emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Yoga teachers often encourage their students not to strive to achieve a perfect pose but rather to be present and accepting of the current posed, before making any change. With that in mind, I'm trying to pay attention to the moments where I struggle with money and learn and grow from those situations instead of judge harshly from them. So if you want to join in on this spending hiatus, do so, gently and lovingly and gradually.

Specifically some of our financial goals are...

1. Financial Independence. We have some pretty lofty goals of paying off all of our non-mortgage related debt (car loans & school loans) by the end of the year...This can only happen if we continue to increase revenue and decrease spending. I have the debt figures posted by my desk to remind me daily of our goals.
2. Life experiences. We've got some fun travel plans lined up for the next year or so and I want the money for those trips set aside before the trip.
3. Simplicity. I am really trying hard to simplify our lives and get rid of stuff that we no longer use, love or appreciate. Bringing MORE stuff into the house thwarts our decluttering efforts as it just turns into a continuous bad cycle of stuff coming in, stuff going out.
4. Environmental. Likewise, I am trying to only bring stuff into the house that is made in the USA, made with eco-friendly materials, preferably made by local artisans...and of course, not to forget to bring in less overall to stop the endless cycle of over-consumption.
5. Education. Teaching our children that money does not grow on trees and continue to educate myself about the financial realm and how to better manage my families resources. I am hoping to set a better example about saving for my children vs. impulsive consumption.
6. Planning ahead for purchases. For example, my best friend from NY came out to Colorado this weekend for a fun girls weekend...I set aside $ over the past few months {girls weekend $$} -from birthday money and some stuff I sold on ebay - guilt-free cash - to have some guilt-free girl time with Lisa... massages, dinner, etc. I have been planning for the past few months out some garden expenses (soil, compost, seeds, plants, etc.) and bought all of this during Home Depot and a local garden stores Earth Week sales. These purchases did not go on the credit card and I had a budget to stick with.
7. Repurpose. I want to better about repurposing what we have instead of buying a replacement. Waste not, want not.
8. We have enough. More than enough. More than most people around the world. Instead of buying more stuff, I want to be able to travel and help those less fortunate more.

Now, what are my exceptions...besides normal household expenses (mortgage, utilites, car payments, gas, school loans, healthy organic food, baby diapers, formula, Sam's montessori school tuition)... The spending hiatus will apply to the other things (like Target ventures and Anthropologie.com orders). {note: I am going to aim to keep our grocery bills to $125/week as well}.

Exceptions to my spending hiatus may include:

1. Birthday, Baby, Wedding & Christmas Gifts - I will purchase birthday presents for family & friends that I do not or cannot make (but will aim to give the gift of my time with these people vs. a gift; make a gift or purchase a handmade gift from etsy). But these gifts will come out of my small pot of misc. cash each month and not be charged to a credit card.
2. ME funds - I will have a designated SMALL amount of money each month (in cash) that I can use for yoga classes, drinks at girls night out, date night, etc. It's essentially my blow money and when it's up, I guess I will be doing my yoga DVD's at home ;-). But I am aiming to use this money solely on experiences and not more STUFF.
3. Kid's misc. funds - Cash for Sam's dance lessons and misc. things that come up (new sneakers because she outgrew hers, new art supplies for a project, etc).
4. Minimal, mindful household purchases of things we are budgeting and planning for (eg. a pond liner for our pond and 3 aspen trees for our yard).

I am going to keep my monthly spending plan on google docs and track all receipts and checks written into that for our normal expenditures and my cash outlay out of my {envelopes}. I am going to use this dave ramsey envelope wallet thing {I recognize that might make ME look like a dork} but everyone I know who does this says it helps and ME and a credit card at Anthropologie don't mix. Once the money is gone, its gone. What a concept. ;-) I'm also going to try to get rid of 10 things a week from our house (either donating them or listing them on ebay or craigslist).

Oh, and this post by Joslyn's experience with her 3 month spending hiatus sums it up for ME.

So, anyone IN with ME?


{ the garden }

Happy Earth Day everyone! I spent the past weekend and free time this week working on our garden and getting the chicken coop ready! Who-hoo! I am so excited! I've been really inspired by this nationwide revived approach to the {victory gardens} concept. Check out this post too. And if you need even more inspiration to start your own, check out this article about 10 Ways Gardening can help you through a recession and reasons why gardening is great exercise.

In addition to planting a vegetable garden this spring, in honor of earth day we also put up a clothesline and I am giving up using paper towels (why does this seem harder than it should be?) We are also doing some trail work this week and cleaning up some trash along one of our bike routes. What are you doing in celebration of Earth Day?

Speaking of the recession, I've joined in a voluntary {spending hiatus} for the remainder of 2009 at Mostly Mod. More on this soon - what my exceptions will be (handmade products, birthday gifts that I can't make, garden supplies, and a few things on our list of things to buy this year - eg. our landscaping project and belay device for our home climbing wall and items that help organize and simplify our lives.) So there won't be NO spending going on, but there will be totally mindful consumption and LESS spending overall and my Dave Ramsey envelope system wallet. I need to buckle down if we are going to meet our lofty saving and debt payoff goals and have our pot of travel funds this year. Anyone want to join in?

Adorable garden illustration via My Tiny Plot.


{ the break part II }

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"I became a positive influence by standing in opposition to what matters least by choosing to live for what matters most."
- Lee Wise

What I've been working on these past few months is this concept of {choice}. I am a working mom. And I have a choice on how to spend my time. Either on what matters most or things that matter the least. I choose to raise my children FIRST and then grow our businesses second. I can't do it all. I can't. (And I'm done trying.) I can CHOOSE to do things that make ME and my family happy & healthy over things that don't.

I'm not complaining. I am fortunate that I have so many good, positive things to choose from in my life. But with poor choices, chaos & neglect can happen. What are we telling our children when we say we don't have time to exercise but we have time for facebook, twitter, etc? Why do we say we don't have time to cook our families healthy dinners but we have time to read 75 blogs a day? Now, I'm not saying that you have to cut the internet out of your life (I know I can't). There are SO many blogs that are inspiring, that help ME be a better mother, business owner, wife, etc. But reading all of these blogs takes time away from SOMETHING in your life, as it does mine.

So, I've been working on making smarter choices. Cutting back on internet time. Getting a good nights sleep each night instead of being up until 1:00am working. Increasing my shipping time by a couple of days. Getting some help when I need it in the shop or with household tasks. I've been saying {no} to others and {yes} to my family. All of this with the intention of being more present in my home and simplifying my busy world. I've also been working on cutting expenses and unnecessary purchases so we can live more simply and travel more - I love this concept of creating a {mindful lifestyle rich in experience.}

So today, thanks for listening and for your support. I'd love to hear how all of you work towards balance and positive choices in your lives. I'll be back later this month with our garden plans, a Yoga for Families DVD giveaway, some amazing {day in the life} guest bloggers - Tara from Ink+Wit and Alli from Bird Dog Press... two of the most creative and inspiring woman I know. So don't forget about ME!

And I leave you with this list of things that I've been doing this past month, while taking a self-imposed {break} from farting around on the internet... :)

1. I meditated. Not everyday, but enough that the silence helped.
2. We had Henry's adoption finalization in the court and a party afterwards.
3. We celebrated Sam's 5th birthday with family and friends.
4. I deleted my facebook account.
5. I ignored my twitter account.
6. I wrote in our family journal on an almost daily basis.
7. I caught up on orders (finally).
8. I practiced lots of yoga.
9. I sat on the couch and watched Season 1 and Season 2 of the West Wing (best show ever).
10. I bought lots of fresh flowers for almost every room in our house to help usher spring in.
11. I ignored my blog and most others as well.
12. I took Sam rock climbing a ton and she {rocks}!
13. I sent gram & gramp lots of letters and care packages.
14. We launched our new company.
15. I sold some more stuff on ebay. Less is more. Less is more.
16. I made a dozen healthy veggie casseroles for the freezer for use on nights when I don't feel like cooking.
17. We put on our first race of the season.
18. I decreased my blog roll and google reader from 100+ blogs to ~20.
19. I spring cleaned a lot of the house.
20. I wrote in Henry's baby book (finally).
21. I got new pictures of the kids printed out and enlarged for framing on our wall.
22. Did I mention I sat on the couch?
23. I read my past issues of Seeing the Everday magazine cover to cover.
24. I worked out more.
25. I refrained from drinking diet coke and instead drank oodles of water and green smoothies.
26. I took {unimportant} items off my to do list.
27. I read this, this and this.
28. I got ~8 hours of sleep a night. Beautiful. The kids cooperated and Will got up with Henry when needed (thank you willy).
29. I didn't sign Sam up for any additional activities this spring (only one 45 minute ballet class once a week that she loves). After a winter packed with swim lessons & ski lessons, we all needed a break from activities.
30. I planned a weekend away at the end of the month with my BFF from childhood who lives in NY.
31. I decided not to exhibit at the National Stationary Show this year. I have enough to do already. I've let it go.
32. I had 2 great date nights with Will.
33. We had a family photo shoot with this delightful photographer.
34. I sent my friend Amy who was diagnosed with brain cancer recently a kick {cancer's} ass care package.
35. I helped my friend organize her nursery for the baby that recently arrived.
36. I took my mom out to lunch.
37. I started taking the supplement ashwaganda for energy & strength.
38. I bought a new pair of red shoes. :)
39. I savored the bed time read books & snuggle routine with Sam instead of rushing through it so I could get back to work.
40. We planned a family getaway to Moab for this week....lots of hiking and rafting planned.
41. We toured Sam's kindergarten classroom. Yes, I cried. But I am happy with the choice we are making and so is she.
42. I celebrated my 33rd birthday with a quiet day at home with the family and later this week a {not so quiet} night out with my girlfriends! :)
43. Really enjoyed this post and this post from these inspirational bloggers.
44. Went to the library every week with Sam to get more books to read.
45. I hiked all over the place with Henry and went on a hike with a dear friend who I see far too little of.
46. Colored about 6 dozen eggs and planned a chicken coop so by next easter we have our own eggs.
47. Made about 7 dozen cotton easter bunnies. Sam couldn't stop... :)
48. Was finally introduced to Edward {twilight} and my obsession has begun. I honestly didn't get what y'all were so obsessed with....but I finally saw the movie and read the book and yes, I am now on board. Fully, on board. ;-)
49. Colored 48 easter eggs. Hide 48, located 45.
50. Was more present in my world. More present with my family. More present with myself.


{ all grown up }

We have a bunk bed at our rental condo that Sam {hearts}...we always told her that when she turned 5 she would be old enough to sleep on the top bunk and she could get a bunk bed for her room here. Leave it to her to remember, and us to forget. Seriously, how is it that she turned 5? Where did those 5 years go? Anyway, to make a long story short, we found a bunk bed on craigslist (for practically free)...all it needed was this adorable new bedding and we were good to go. Note to parents: Bunkbeds rule. Samme LOVES going to bed now. :)

While reminiscing about the past 5 years and our amazing little girl who isn't so little anymore, I came across this quote on a darling blog the other day....

"Make your wife the object of your highest devotion. Make your husband the recipient of your deepest passion. Love the one who wears your ring. And cherish the children who share your name. Succeed at home first."

Yes, succeed at home first. That's what we've been working on at our home lately.


{ celebrating }

Some things I'm celebrating today.

1. My 33rd birthday. THIRTY-THREE. I can't quite process the fact that I am getting older because I don't FEEL older.

2. Spending a fun, relaxing day with my sweet family on a beautiful spring day.

3. My husband bringing me a green smoothie and a cupcake for breakfast. My 2 favorite foods.

4. Samme picking daffodils from the garden for me first things this morning. The garden is now barren but my office sure is cheerful.

5. Being cancer free for almost 9 years. Hip, hip, hooray.

6. Looking forward to yoga class this afternoon and sushi tonight. My 2 other favorite things.


{ what is real...? }

This post entitled {what is real} is exactly what I have been talking about and working on lately...since I couldn't have said it better myself, I'll refer you to this amazing post at Superhero Journal.

Here's a snippet...

"In the wake of my clearing, I had the sense that my energy was too far-flung, dispersed in too many directions, that I had been tending too many things I couldn't touch and that I was out of balance in some fundamental way. I realized I needed to bring my focus in closer and tend things much nearer to home. And when I say this, I mean really close to home, like my actual home, my family, my neighbors, my body, my heart, my community right here in Berkeley. I had to look hard at what’s most real and true in my life.

And of course, how do you reconcile being a blogger, surfing Facebook, emailing, texting, phoning, twittering when you are on a quest to ground yourself in what is real in your life? How do these things fit in? and what am I giving up by spending countless hours checking email and blogs and weather reports and celebrity gossip columns? What am I not creating in my life as a result of all of the life force I give to my "friends" in cyberspace?"