Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The evils of Groupon

Looking at my goals this year, I realize that I left something of vital importance off the list:

Balance the Budget

This goal has been on my list since we bought our house in 2008.  It has been there so long that I think I've forgotten that it is still a goal.  Budgeting is just something that I do.

I've succeeded at budgeting as our house has changed and grown.  The first joint budget my husband and I operated under was 1/5th of what we work with now.  Our basic needs were cared for with just a little extra fun money on the side.  As we finished school, found salaried positions and earned promotions, our income went from adequate to generous.  And, in a lot of ways, that has made budgeting much harder.  Before we asked where our money NEEDED to go each month.  Now we ask where we WANT it to go.

Which brings me to the evil that is Groupon.  Why is it evil, you ask?  I'm getting to that.

Having lived on a tight budget for years, I was thrilled when I could find a sale on something we would use.  I'd buy up a bunch of it and save it for later.  It was a great way to protect us from unexpected expenses.  I knew that I could lean on my pantry when a big car repair came up and the grocery money needed to be reallocated.  And I always had extra shampoo, socks, toothbrushes and hand towels I'd scored at clearance sales.  Finding a good deal had the double positive of saving me money in the long run AND supporting me when the money got tight.  I love sales.

Bring in the Groupon.  This is a sale on an item that you don't really NEED.  Nothing that Groupon peddles is a necessity.  Coupon to a fancy dinner, discounted movie tickets, car detailing, weekend getaways.  All these are nice things.  And the deals are great!  I'd love to take a weekend getaway with my husband to a B&B down by the ocean for $99.  Sign me up!

Here's the evil part.  A deal is only a deal if you use it.  That's right.  In order for the money to be well spent you have to use the good or service that you picked up.  I dare say that you need to use it and enjoy it.  For me to take that weekend getaway, I have to find care for my children.  I have to navigate to the destination.  I have to pay to eat the whole time I'm there.  And I have to recover from the trip when I get home.

And I have to make room for it in my budget.  Gone are the days of purchasing because the deal is just that good.  I could go broke stocking up on things that I don't need at all.  The money for these not really cheap items could be used to pay off my car early, or save up for my yearly vacation, or fund my retirement.  Following my second maternity leave without pay, we broke our budget.  This year I have to get it back on track.  I want us comfortable.  I want us prepared to deal with the crazy things life throws us.  That is what I'm doing when I balance the budget.

Taking advantage of good deals is part of that.  There are so MANY good deals on Groupon (and the 5 other like sites that email me daily) it is overwhelming.  Which one is the best deal?  Will there be a better deal tomorrow?  And when will I use it?  I don't want to miss out on all the money saving.  But I can opt out.  I can opt out of the coupon fad.  I know you can save money by spending money.  You can also save money by saving money.  At some point, it is too much and that is what I feel about Groupon these days.  Too much.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Back on the Road Again

While I haven't been posting them here every week, I have continued to Menu Plan.  Over the past couple of months, I've leaned HEAVILY on my Top Ten Meals.  So heavily in fact that I'm sick and tired of eating them.

Making the same meals so often makes dinner easy to get out, even on the days when cooking is just about the last thing I want to do.  The flip side of that is that cooking gets really boring.  Really. Boring.  Even when I have the energy to cook, I'm so uninspired that the first thought that comes to mind is whether I should call for Pizza or Chinese.  Being bored quickly defeated all of my good intentions behind menu planning.

My approach this week is a bit more ambitious than past weeks.  I'm trying out a few new recipes.  Prep each night will be required to make the next night's meal.  But to feel inspired  to cook each night is worth it.  Motivation will follow.  I hope.

This week's menu:
(Me & Hubby) Oatmeal, Bananas & OJ
Soup & Bread
Lettuce Salad/Veggie Sticks

Monday: Tortellini Soup with Beans and Chard
Tuesday: Teriyaki Chicken with Rice
Wednesday: Mini Meatloaf with Roasted Cauliflower & Green Beans
Thursday: Tuna Rollups with Spinach
Friday: Quesadillas with Guacamole and Salad
Saturday: Pork BBQ
Sunday: Shrimp Kabobs with Cous Cous
Do you ever find the same old recipes uninspiring? Where do you look for recipes to spice up the dinner routine?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Analysis Paralysis Solution

In the past I've avoided making New Year's resolutions.  I tend to set high goals for myself, aspirations if you will, and then fail quickly leaving myself with a growing pile of discontent.  This only leads to more resolutions and more heart ache.  Vicious cycle of negativity.  I want no part of it.

But my life is full these days.  Full to the brim with kids and work and plans and projects.  So much is going on from day to day that I get overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of options in my life. It's a hard life I tell you.  So many options and so much support.  It's just awful...

In a really awesome kind of way.

Given the analysis paralysis I've been experiencing deciding between all these options, I decided this year to set three goals for myself.  They are simple, straight forward, broad and I'm working up a game plan for each.  These goals will help me focus.  When I flounder, I look to my goals/game plan and see what I can do now to accomplish them OR determine if I've gotten distracted again.

So here goes.  My goals for this year are (in order of importance):

Get Healthy


Simplify Craftiness

I told you they were simple.  *grin*

Goal Get Healthy is already in full swing over on You can do this!  I joined a gym last year.  I'm in PT getting some issues resolved to take full advantage of my gym time.  I have worked out a schedule with Ray and the girls to keep me going to the gym.  I'm working through what being healthy means to me and what mini goals and actions I can do to get there.  I'm definitely pleased with my progress on that goal.

Divest and Simplify Craftiness haven't gotten as much attention, but work in those areas has begun as well.  The biggest step towards meeting those goals has been joining the 29 day org challenge.  I'm tackling craft central this month which, I hope, will help me focus in on where I want to go with my hobbies and remove some of the noise (stuff) that surrounds me at home.

Do you have goals for this year?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Money Talks

Without getting into a debate over abortion, I'd like to share an experience I am having today.  This morning as I perused Facebook (like I do every morning) I was inundated with articles about the Susan G. Komen Foundation's defunding of Planned Parenthood.  The Komen Foundation is a non-profit powerhouse.  People give money to the foundation all the time without even knowing it.  They are synonymous with breast cancer and beast cancer awareness.  To protect their ability to remain that way, they found a somewhat politically correct way to stop funding breast exams at a controversial clinic.

This makes me sad.

I know where I stand in the abortion debate and it has nothing to do with the majority of the work done by Planned Parenthood.  They provide low cost or free care to women who otherwise would be unable to get it.  That preventative health care saves lives.  That is why insurance companies pay for it.  It works.  And every one deserves access to it.  For women without insurance, Planned Parenthood helps close that gap.  To allow the abortion debate to limit a woman's accessibility to preventative health care is unacceptable.

This makes me mad.

Then I had a thought.  What if every time I got ticked about an injustice in the world I donate $5 to the victim?  Or an organization working to stop the injustice?  What would that do?  I don't know.  I know that I can afford $5.  With the internet I can also find and donate money to just about any organization on the planet.  I've boycotted organizations for practices that I don't like (Exxon for most of the 90s, for instance), but I've explicitly never put my money somewhere in response.  So I made a a donation to Planned Parenthood.  Moments later I read that donors had replaced the money denied them by the Komen Foundation.

This made me hopeful.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Org Challenge: Home Office

Back in September I posted about my office and the awful state it was in.  Since then, I've done a lot of work around the house.  Absolutely none of it was in my office.  If anything, my office has gotten worse.


I'm not sure there are words to describe how out of control this room has gotten.  I've completely stopped using the space for anything beyond storage/dumping grounds.  I had the handy excuse of Christmas which I leveraged fully through December, but Christmas is over!  It is time to reclaim this space!

As if reading my mind, Org Junkie posted a 29 Day Organizational Challenge starting today.  I'm thrilled!  The challenge is to reclaim a room in 29 days and blog about it sharing the process as you go.  She mentioned that you don't have to share your before photos, but I couldn't hide them.  So here they are.  No judgement, right?  29 days and I promise this will be a different room.

My first task in this room will be to take inventory of what all has collected in the room and decide what really BELONGS in the room.  See you in a few days!