All Babies are Blessings

When we were expecting our first baby, I didn’t have a gender preference. I knew that having a girl or having a boy would be wonderful!

When we found out we would be welcoming a baby boy, we were excited – I hoped he’d look like his daddy.

When he was born, he was just as I pictured, a dark haired baby boy and he did look like his daddy.

When we found out we were expecting our second baby, I just knew the baby was going to be a boy. Sure enough at our anatomy scan, we found out we were having a baby boy and we were so excited that Paxton was going to have a brother.

We did not feel like having another boy was disappointing, we were thrilled to be adding to our family.

I was quite content with my two boys. I started seeing myself as just a boy mom and couldn’t imagine having a baby girl in our family.

We decided not to find out the gender of our third baby and I was completely convinced that our third baby was a boy too. And, I was excited about the possibility of three boys and brothers so close in age. I did not view having three boys as anything but a blessing!

All during our third pregnancy, it seemed like everyone told us they thought we were having a girl and that we needed a girl. We were still sure our baby was a boy. We didn’t feel like we needed a girl for our family to be complete.

When our baby was born and we saw that we actually had a girl, we were shocked and surprised. We had a daughter! We were thrilled to welcome a baby girl into our family but we would have been just as excited to welcome a baby boy.

It seems like people think that you need one of each gender in order to be happy with your family. I think the excitement from others with my third pregnancy was because I already had two boys and everyone was just hoping I’d have a girl.

I have a feeling if/when we have a fourth baby (we hope to add to our family in a few years) that the pregnancy announcement won’t be met with as much excitement because we have one of each gender. Since Cecilia was born, when people ask me if we’re finished having kids, I jokingly say no, she needs a sister! (And, while I’d love for her to have a sister, adding another baby boy would be wonderful too.)

What is wrong with having two boys or three boys? Or two girls or three girls? Do people really think that families that have one boy and one girl are happier? Or do they think my family of two boys and one girl is better than a family of three girls or three boys? The mindset that everybody wants ‘one of each’ is crazy!

I’ve heard people make comments like, ‘maybe you’ll get your girl next time‘ or ‘you can try to have a boy next time,’ to women who are pregnant with their second (or third or forth) of the same gender. The baby they’re carrying is important and should be celebrated even though there is a same gender sibling.

Forget the silly one boy, one girl ‘perfect family’ ideal and celebrate each and every baby regardless of its gender.

All babies are blessings!

Brothers

Having same gender siblings is quite wonderful. These 2 boys are loud and full of energy but they love each other and really are the best of friends.

Babies are Blessings

10 Ways to Change Consumption Habits

Simplifying, minimizing and decluttering seem to be popular buzz words these days.

Filling boxes and bags with trash, things to sell, give away to friends and donate feels great and leaves your home feeling a little less stressful and relaxing.

I’m a huge advocate of living with less.

However, if you don’t change your consumption habits, the clutter starts to creep back and soon your closets, drawers and storage spaces are once again filled.

So, how do you change consumption habits?

First, remember why you want your home to be clutter free. It really makes the atmosphere more relaxing, makes the things easy to find and makes your keeping your home tidy easier.

Then, take steps to really change your consumption habits.

10 Ways to Change Consumption Habits

  1. Stop shopping as a hobby. You’ll save time, money and reduce clutter by staying out of stores and shopping ‘just for fun.’
  2. Make a list and stick to it. Approach all shopping like grocery shopping. If you need to buy a new pair of jeans, when you go to the store, just find the pair of jeans and don’t browse for anything else – ignore the sales and clearance racks!
  3. Only accept the ‘cast-offs’ you’ll actually use. If you are given someone else’s ‘cast-offs’ (hand-me-downs, books, housewares etc.) go through and only keep the things that you need or really like. Pass the rest on to someone else or donate.
  4. Rent, borrow or purchase digitally.  Instead of buying every book and DVD that you want, trying renting, borrowing from the library, borrowing from a friend or buying digitally.
  5. Shop for clothing twice a year. Assess your wardrobes twice a year (spring/summer and fall/winter) and purchase the things you need for those seasons at the beginning of the season. Once your wardrobe for that season is complete, stop shopping for clothes!
  6. Stop buying stuff just because ‘it’s a good deal’. If you didn’t need or want it at full price, you probably don’t need it when it is 75% off.
  7. Know where you are most tempted to spend. There may be certain stores (both brick and mortar and online) that you can’t leave without buying something. Once you know where your ‘weakness’ is, you can be proactive and change your shopping habits.
  8. Stop buying toys all throughout the year.  If you’re a parent, you know that most children have a bunch of toys. They are slammed with even more at Christmas and their birthdays. It’s okay to buy your child a toy occasionally but don’t make it a regular habit or your home will be drowning in toy clutter. (Instead of buying them toys, buy experiences!)
  9. Treat gifts like flowers. Appreciate the gift, enjoy the thoughtfulness of the giver but don’t let guilt make you keep something you don’t need or want. You can take the gift back (if you know where it was purchased) for store credit or, depending on what the gift is, you can donate to a toy drive, homeless shelter or pregnancy center.
  10. Don’t over consume on holidays and special occasions. At Christmas, we know that our children will receive an overabundance of gifts from grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and extended family so we keep our family gift giving very simple. In the past, we have given them ‘something they need, something to wear and something to read’ as Christmas gifts. They receive 3 gifts from us and that’s it.

After working so hard to simplify your home, you don’t want to allow much clutter back in. Make an effort to change your consumption habits and keep the clutter out!

Have you changed your consumption habits in an effort to live with less? 

 

Declutter-Book-Cover1-232x300

Are you wanting to simplify? My new eBook, Declutter: A Workbook to Rid Your Life of Excess walks you through each area of your home and helps you to rid your home of clutter!

5 Year Mortgage Goal

We have decided to share our goal to pay off our mortgage in 5 years for accountability and to encourage others in their personal finances.

You see, we’re a family of 5 living on one income. While my husband makes a comfortable income, we’re not rolling in money. Our monthly budget is comfortable – we don’t feel we’re doing without but we do have to spend carefully and watch where our money goes.

Managing your money wisely helps you financially.

You do not have to have a large income to succeed with personal finances.

Our goal to pay off our mortgage in 5 years seems like it is an unattainable goal for a family living on one modest income. However, there are several factors that make this goal a realistic one for our family.

How does a young family living on a budget think they can pay off their mortgage in just 5 years?

1. We have no other debt.

We both graduated college debt free and we never have had credit card debt or car payments. The lack of these debts allowed us to focus on saving for a house downpayment upon graduation. 

2. We own our vehicles.

We began our marriage driving vehicles that our parents gifted us before college. We saved for years for ‘new’ vehicles and our savings coupled with the money from the sales of our old vehicles allowed us to pay cash. Our ‘new’ vehicles are both older models, I drive a 2004 model minivan and my husband drives a 2002 pickup.

3. We put 20% down on our home.

A 20% downpayment saves us from paying private mortgage insurance. And, the exciting part of a large downpayment meant that we owned 20% of our home the day we moved in!

4. We currently own almost 50% of our home.

Our 20% down payment coupled with regular extra principal payments for 2.5 years plus refinancing to a lower rate has really knocked down principal. We currently have paid almost 50% of the purchase price in the 4 years we’ve lived in our home. We believe we can buckle down and pay the remaining 50% in the next 5 years.

5. We bought a home below our price range.

We qualified for a mortgage amount that was nearly twice the amount of the purchase price of the home we’re in. Instead of buying a house at the top of our mortgage qualification range, we chose to purchase a modest house. Choosing to live in our smaller home frees up money each month to pay towards the principal.

6. We have budgeted extra principal payments.

We reworked our budget when we set this 5 year goal and have budgeted a couple hundred dollars each month to pay towards principal no matter what. Intentionally budgeting money towards the extra principal is playing a huge role in reaching our goal. 

7. We’re sticking to a budget.

We have a written budget and we’re sticking to it!  We’ve budgeted our entire marriage but we’ve had a tendency to cheat. We’ll overspend in certain categories and then move money around from other categories to cover our overspending. While we haven’t gone into debt doing this, we’ve been ‘stealing’ from other areas that could be used to pay extra towards our mortgage at the end of the month. We’re committed that when the money is gone out of the budget category, there will be no more spending.

8. Shopping is no longer a hobby.

Shopping at thrift and bargain stores used to be a hobby. We were finding all kind of great deals and ‘saving money’ on things we ‘needed’. If you stay out of stores, you won’t be tempted to spend! I’m convinced that succeeding financially has a lot to do with controlling consumer spending on smaller purchases.

We believe that paying off our mortgage in 5 years is possible for our family.

This is a stretch goal for us but we think we can reach the goal!

What’s your goal?

Are you trying to pay off your student loans? Finally ready to cut up the credit cards and get them paid off? Are you saving up for a house downpayment?

No matter where you are in your financial journey, the decisions you make today will have an impact on your future.

Set financial goals and work towards them.

Some goals may seem impossible today but with focus, discipline and a little frugality, they can be achieved.

Do you have financial goals? 

Creating Space in Your Home

We have a very small kitchen.

Our kitchen is functional but it’s lacking storage space. All of the cabinets hold our dishes, cups, pots, pans and bowls and there is little room for food storage. All of our food was being stored in a small cabinet in the kitchen that we call the pantry.

Existing Pantry

We’ve made this space work for the past 4 years we’ve lived in our home but as our children are growing, we’re needing to purchase more food.  We’ve been cramming the small cabinet full but didn’t have enough space to truly ‘stock the pantry’.

We needed pantry space in our home.

Of course, we could remodel our kitchen or purchase a large cabinet that would take up more floor space to serve as a larger pantry but both of these options would cost money that we don’t want to spend right now.

We decide to turn one of our hall closets into a pantry.

Our 1970s home is small but we do have 2 small closets in our hall.

One of the closets was considered mine and the other was my husband’s. My closet contained my sewing machine, art supplies, scrapbooks, yearbooks and other crafty things. My husband’s closet held his tech gear – cameras, tripods, cds, hard-drives and such.

We decided that the best thing for our family was for us combine the contents of these two closets into one and use the other closet for our pantry.

While our boys were visiting grandparents for a week, we emptied the contents of both closets into their bedroom and went through the contents.

Closet Contents

I went through pictures and old scrapbooks, purging items that had no real sentimental value. I moved art and craft supplies into our school cabinet that’s in our dining room. After I put my items back into the closet, there were 3 free shelves and half of the floor space available for John David’s things.

John David purged boxes (he’s always kept tech boxes), papers, cds, videotapes and cables. He ended up with a small pile of things to sell and a pile of items to bring to church to use (he does work in church production so these things will be useful there) as well as a lot of papers and boxes to recycle. And, we ended up with 2 bags of trash between us.

Clutter

In the end, we merged the contents of our two closets into one and only put one small tote (that contains cables and other miscellaneous tech stuff) in the floor of the second closet which is now our storage pantry.

New Pantry

We now have a real pantry in our home. We didn’t spend any money or knock out any walls. We just spent a few hours clearing our home of items that were no longer useful to our family and created the space we needed.

Do you have a need for more space in your home? Could you create the space you need by clearing clutter?

My new eBook, Declutter: A Workbook to Rid Your Life of Excess will help you go through your home and create space by clearing your clutter. It’s available for purchase on Amazon!