- Itch to Pitch--a challenge initiated by Toni at The Happy Housewife several months ago. I participated in this to a little extent, uncluttering the kids' bedroom and some other areas to get ready for a yard sale we had in October. But here I am, looking around, looking through drawers and cabinets, and I am finding item after item after item that HAS TO GO! I thought about gathering these items and boxing them up for the next yard sale. But no telling when that will be. So I plan on uncluttering once again and pitching everything to a second-hand store.
- Simplicity and Order--Laura at OrgJunkie shares a lot of helpful organizational tips. Her new theme is to live simply instead of being overwhelmed with too much clutter. This theme struck a chord with me, and goes along with the Itch to Pitch that I have.
- Reorganize--the cabinets, junk drawer, kids' room, living room, dining room, might as well say all rooms! For the kitchen, I like to have "like things stored with like things." Although I have lots of cabinets, I have really fallen on the wayside storing things together. The kids' plates, bowls, cups are in one cabinet, and on the other side are the adult plates, bowls, cups. I have canned vegetables in 3 different cabinets, and in each of these cabinets is a mixture of canned beans, rice, soups, pasta. I try to rotate my stock, which I'm pretty good at doing. But since I've been stockpiling nonperishables, I haven't done very good at keeping "like things stored with like things."
- Family Binder--This is another tip that was on OrgJunkie, although it was actually a post from guest blogger Michelle from Leaving Excess. Michelle has a 3-ring binder where she stores all those little pieces of paper that tend to get lost but we still need--information from school, important phone numbers, take-out menus. You name it. Like any other family, we get those same papers. Half the time, I'm not able to find a place for them right away. So I put them in a stack on the corner of the counter, thinking I'll go through them "later." When later comes, the stack is buried under something, or has been accidentally tossed somewhere. I am following Michelle's advice and putting together a family binder to keep all the important paper what-nots. I bought a binder and tab dividers. Just need to get a stack of sheet protectors to put it all together.
- Organize kids' room & label everything!--I mentioned this up above. But I don't just want to clean up the kids' room. I'm stocking up on cute little totes for the toys that will fit under their bed. And while I'm at it, I'm going to make labels for all the toy boxes, totes, shelves, and drawers in their room. It's very irritating cleaning up their room, finding a place for everything. The minute I do, they tear everything apart and the place is a disaster area. The kids are really good at cleaning their room regularly. The problem lies in them not putting things back in their proper place. All the little cars get put in the doll crib, and the dolls get put on a book shelf, and the books get put in the lego bin...you get the picture. The room looks "clean" but no one can find anything because it doesn't make sense where the kids put their stuff! I feel that if I label everything with little picture clues, then the kids will understand exactly where their stuff is supposed to be stored.
- Cleaning schedule--I did this a few years ago. On my calendar, I wrote down a chore for each week that I needed to do at some point during that week. One week was sweeping & mopping, another week was dusting & vacuuming, etc. I had daily chores that would always need to get done--dishes, laundry. But some chores just needed an extra reminder to do them. I've neglected to do a cleaning schedule for a couple years' now, and the state of the house is really suffering because of it. I need that visual reminder to do chores in order to get them done. Hubs does help out, but as I mentioned before, it's not second nature to him. His mom did all the household chores growing up--literally, ALL of them. So he wasn't taught to get into a routine of cleaning. I was taught, but I just can't keep up with a family of four by myself without that visual reminder.
This is an area that definitely needs improvement. While I'm not ready to do a cash only envelope system, I need something better than my current system (guesstimating a number in my head that I allow us to spend on everything.) The checkbook is always balanced, but...there's always room for improvement, and it wouldn't hurt to know exactly what we are spending and where, so we will have something to work with to reduce our spending in 2010.
- Lower & set budget for groceries--This is where my friend Melissa has inspired me. Did I mention that she saved over $239 on a recent shopping trip? Her actual OOP (out of pocket) was less than $38!! She uses coupons, catalinas, ECB's, RR's, gift cards, and anything else she can get her hands on in order to save money at the register. My budget varies week to week, depending on what we need, if I'm able to go shopping, if it's a tight week money-wise...I want to set a top dollar amount for the entire month and keep that same amount month-to-month. The spending may still vary week to week, but I want to keep a tighter reign on the overall amount we spend.
- Calculate savings on our spending--The Coupon Project has a free downloadable 2010 savings tracker. It's an Excel spreadsheet with all the formulas. You just plug in your purchases, coupons, retail price, etc., and the spreadsheet calculates what your actual savings were. Using a tool like this will really help me calculate our savings, reduce our spending, and maybe even help me apply the amount we saved towards something we need to purchase (like a new washer & dryer).
- Budget categories--It's easy to say I want to budget $150 on utilities, $300 on groceries, $60 on gas...but I want to break down our grocery budget even more. All our grocery items came out of the same spending "bucket." This includes pets, automotive, food, toiletries, pharmacy, general merchandise, food, long-term storage, clothing, you name it. To get a better reign on our budget, I really need to set aside specific dollar amounts for each category.
- Budget off my income only--This one will be tough. My husband is receiving unemployment, which has been a true lifesaver. Eventually, the UI money will stop. So we need to prepare for what is likely to happen and budget our spending solely on my income only, and not what hubs is receiving from UI or from a potential job. This will require both of us to be on the same team, both of us committed towards the same goal. And if he does get that job one day, that would be great! We'll just use his income to budget towards savings (see below).
- Save for major purchases--Let's face it, it costs money to spend money. There are a lot of worthwhile things that I would like to have and I know I'll use. And the same goes for hubs (is it just me, or are guy toys expensive???). We need a new washer and dryer. The dryer will eventually give up the ghost the way it's going--you ain't heard a squeaky dryer until you've heard ours! Hubs has expressed the desire to buy his family's farm in Minnesota. The farm has been in the family for about 150 years, but sadly the current owners (my mother-in-law and her 5 sisters) have put it on the market. At this point, we have not committed to moving to MN or even to live on the farm...it's still a dream. But if we want to make that dream a reality, we will have to start saving for it.
- Get stuff for free or nearly free--Swagbucks, surveys, MyPoints...whatever it takes to earn points and gift cards, I want to do it. I have decided that I want my own Wondermill Grain Grinder. The appliance is expensive! But if I'm going to store wheat, then I'll need a way to grind it.
Utilize Resources to Increase and Use Our Food Storage & 72-Hour Kit Stockpile
This is a goal that I introduced recently, as mentioned above. I've been working on this goal over the years that I've been married. I started focusing on it more and more since my husband's company ran out of work a year ago, and especially since he had to dissolve the business this past Summer. I have been adding to our stock more and more, and using up some of the stock as the days and months go along (gotta rotate it or it'll go bad). I want to focus on it even better. Resources include:
- Provident Living.org--This website is full of information. Not just for food storage and emergency supplies, but also for financial planning, gardening, emotional health, and employment.
- Safely Gathered In--The girls at Safely Gathered In rotate through their lists during the month. So if you start in the middle of the list, it's no problem because they just rotate from one list to the next as they make their purchases. They also provide easy-to-follow recipes and practical tips on how to use your food storage. Before reading their blog, I seriously did not know what to do with 50lbs of wheat.
- Food Storage Made Easy--Jodi & Julie also have loads of information to share, including how-to videos (the visuals really help me know what I'm doing!). You can sign up for a free "baby steps" series, an e-newsletter that is sent out every couple of weeks with tips on what to buy and food storage recipes to try. You can also buy the downloadable version to get all the baby steps at once and put into a binder. I've been receiving the e-newsletter, but I want to buy and print the binder to give me the visual and something that I can easily refer to whenever I need to. Just gotta work it into the budget to buy it (it's not overly expensive, but it's been low on the spending priority).
- Other resources include buying freeze-dried or dehydrated food storage items, like at Emergency Essentials. Visit a local cannery, doing some service work there, and taking home my own bulk purchases that I've canned or dry-packed. Possibly purchase a shelf-reliance system or have hubs make one for me. This is in the major purchase category, so I'll have to fit this into the budget as an item to save for.
House Remodeling Completion
We've been remodeling our house since we bought it in 2002. There are lots of areas that need to be started and completed. All of which will have to be budgeted and saved for.
- Laying down floor tile in the bathroom, hallway, dining room and kitchen.
- Painting the kitchen cabinets.
- New siding on the outside of the house (our siding is made of wood and is probably as old as the house, it's literally coming apart :(
- New sink, toilet & tub in the bathroom.
- That's just the beginning, there's lost more yet to be done!
Be More Feminine
I made this a goal in 2009, and I can honestly say that I've made some strides here. I've thrown out my old make-up and bought lots of new stuff. But I'm nowhere near as feminine as I was before the kids came along. I don't have to be feminine to be happy, but I know my husband likes it when I'm girlie, and I feel better when I look my best.
- Take better care of my skin--clean my face not just in the morning, but nightly, too. I'm really bad about washing the make-up off my face before going to bed. Really, really bad.
- Paint my toenails--before my second child was born, I always, always had my toenails painted. After she was born, I simply stopped doing this. And I miss it.
- Update my wardrobe--I have clothes that I've owned since my freshman year of college. People, that was in 1994! If I can find a good deal, I think nothing of buying clothes for the kids or even hubs. But when it comes to buying something for me, I hesitate. I think of other things that the money could go for, like putting food on the table. But it's important that I take care of myself. I need to look good, too.
Fit & Trim
This one kind of goes along with the item up above, Be More Feminine. The first year of my marriage, I put on 50 pounds that hasn't come off. After that, I had no problem losing my pregnancy weight with both kids. BUT, I have gained back all the pregnancy weight PLUS more once I stopped breastfeeding my second child. Hubs and I would like to add Baby Boren #3 into the picture, but it simply cannot happen with my current weight. My second pregnancy took a real toll on my body, and some of those health problems have remained with me. I can't add my excessive weight to the equation.
Pay Tithes and Offerings
Sadly, we have neglected our tithes and offerings since my husband's business venture began failing. Once getting out of the habit, it has been very difficult to get back into the habit of tithing 1/10th of our increase. We've had a few spurts here and there when we started, but have been unsuccessful keeping up with it in 2009. I'm not saying that we'll be worry-free by being 100% tithe payers. But I know that we will make it, we will have what we need if we pay our tithes, and we will be blessed even more than what we will be able to receive.
This is kind of an oddity, I'm sure that's what you're thinking. But in order to be Fit & Trim, I need to reduce the amount of food I eat. I have definitely done that in 2009. The amount of a main dish I put on my plate has been cut in half or more. I used to make just a main dish and that was about it. Now I prepare more fruits and vegetables. If we have leftovers, I usually take them to work and eat them for lunch. Which is good, I'm not wasting food by throwing it all away. But I can do better. In order to be Fit & Trim, I need to reduce my calorie & fat intake. Hubs rarely eats leftovers, and I don't want to throw food away. So I'll prepare smaller main dishes, so that there's enough for our dinner. And instead of leftovers, I'll take healthier salads and small sandwiches to work for my lunch.
Habit of Reading
I used to be an avid reader. In high school, I always carried a book with me and read at just about every free moment. My personal reading faded away in college. I was an English major, and I read all the time, but it was for school, not because it was something I wanted to read. And now when I read something, besides a blog post, it's usually one of my kids' story books! I want to take just a little more time for me and read my own books more often. This includes:
- Personal reading--read at least two books a year.
- Scriptures--read at least one chapter daily.
- Sunday school and gospel studies--be prepared in advance by reading these as preparation for Sunday school.
- Read to the kids--daily. I read to the kids a couple days a week, but I want to read to them every day like I used to when they were really little. Before long, they'll be "too old" or at least in their mind they will be, and I need to take advantage of the opportunity to read to them now while they are young.
Overcome Fears of Unknown
I'm a definite procrastinator when it comes to doing something that I'm not familiar with. I get in my comfort zone and no cattle prod will get me moving. That can include cooking up certain foods, working on crafts, and even new tasks at work. Even when I know what the outcome is supposed to be, if I'm not sure how to go about doing it, I'll just put it off and put it off. That's no way to get a task accomplished efficiently!
Redevelop Musical Talents
I'm a pretty good alto, so I try to sing with our church choir on a regular basis. But sometimes I get in that "me" zone and I don't participate like I should. I also played the clarinet all throughout junior and high schools, but I haven't touched my clarinet more than a handful of times since graduating h.s. I want my kids to be musically-inclined, so I want to introduce more of music in our home, and especially in our weekly FHE nights. Even if it means playing the clarinet and some of the other instruments that are in our home. Heavenly Father gave me the talent of playing the clarinet, and I hiding--or ignoring--that talent is not a good way to show my gratitude.
This blog is a hobby for me. But I do want to improve it. I want to make it more enjoyable and informative for my readers. Some ways I can do that:
- Daily post or at least an "out of office" post--sometimes I just need a break and I end up skipping blogging. I sit on my couch thinking, "I really should post something." And I just don't get the motivation to get up. I tell myself I'll write up and schedule posts in advance. And some weeks I am able to do this. But I don't like pulling a disappearing act like when we went on vacation in October; it's not very responsible of me.
- Create a posting schedule--I like making little series like Wok's For Dinner, The Goody Bag, Friday Night = Date Night, and others that I've had throughout the past year. But in my quest for being more organized, I want to incorporate that goal into my blogging as well. I want to create set schedules for these series, so you know when to expect them, and I know when to post them.
Return & Report
In order to maintain my personal responsibility and accountability for these goals, I will need to refer to them frequently and report my progress. My goal here is to post an update on my progress at least once a month.
So there you have it, my goals for 2010!! I know, this is a definitely novel of information that I've written up. I've prayed about these goals, and they have been weighing on my mind for some time. I know that they need to be done. Problem is I want to start on all of them right now all at the same time! I can't do them all at once, try as I might. But I can do a little at a time, incorporating more and more as I work my way through the list.