Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Some money talk....(insert apprentice theme song here)

Welcome to the blog for all of you wonderful visitors. I really hope you like what you see & stay a while. To all of my amazing can also find me on the awesome blog Sadie & Stella today.

Today I am not going to write my typical post (feel free to come back tomorrow if this topic doesn't float your boat). I'm actually going to talk about something downright taboo. I'm gonna talk about the green stuff...yep, that's right, money! Who doesn't love money? I sure do and I wish I had more of it these days haha, but who doesn't? I'm about to get real about that flashy crisp paper.
I admit that I find it completely fascinating when people are able to live on one income. Especially since we are a one income household. A lot of times they make it seem so easy when I have had such a struggle with it ever since deciding to close down Clutter to Classy (my professional organizing business).
It's been really tight for us since moving to California because the cost of living is much more and my hubby actually makes less...go figure. So I have been trying to get used to not having a whole lotta' bucks to devote to decorating. It has been an amazing challenge for me and truly taken this blog in a new direction than if I had stayed in Baltimore. Where as I used to be able to drop $$$ on a pillow I now have to figure out how to do it for $. This has made me more creative in the execution process of decorating. Which is an awesome skill to have.
 So why am I telling y'all this? Because I get a lot of emails from my sweet readers asking how we make it work on one income and if I have any tips to share with the class. The truth is there is no magical formula. But I am happy to share what works for our family even if it's just for entertainment value.
 I have to say it... grown up allowances are the bomb! Knowing we actually get "fun money" out of our paychecks makes it feel like our home & our family is a priority and it makes paying bills not quite as painful.
We also have three different accounts. We have a savings account, a joint account, & a "Courtney" account. The Courtney account was a sweet attempt by my husband to make me feel like I had my own money to shop with even though it all comes from his paycheck. I can just spend from that account until it is empty with no worries. Let's just say that account mostly stays empty because after awhile I feel guilty that he doesn't have his own account. So I just stick whatever money I happen to bring in on the side in it. As self explanatory as the savings account is, it happens to stay quite tiny at times but knowing it is established is one step in the right direction.
A lot of you ask also how I save money other than cutting cost when it comes to projects. I am not nearly as cool as those heroes peeps you see on Extreme Couponing but I do love me some coupons and some sale items. I most definitely look for promo codes and coupons with my amazing GEOcoupon App before I go out. I always shop around and I rarely buy something on the spot without going home and thinking about it first (unless it is a one of the kind item). And if I want it bad enough and it wipes out the monthly decor allotment then sometimes I just go for it...what can I say, I have a little wild woman inside of me.
I am also a big believer in pairing a splurge item with a sensible item. For example, the little man has to look like a stylish dude. So I may splurge on a Janie & Jack hat but I pair it with a Target sweater. That's just us keeping it real. I may splurge on a lamp but cut back by purchasing a thrift store table for it to go on. Here is an example of that lil' formula...
ahhh me what you're working with...
I also know that everything is a choice & being a stay at home mom is the trade off. Which makes everything worth it for me. We rarely go on vacations if at all because it is more important to us to have a cozy home and money to make memories with on a daily basis, rather than a one week excursion. But I totally get that that logic is not for everyone.
We also chose to be a one car family, to eat a lot of crock pot meals and we chose to be "the cup is half full," kinda family. We make going to get a latte an event. We take family drives and walks. We go to local events and even cook together. We try to just enjoy each others company, which is totally free and totally awesome.
I bet you can also guess..I try and make my gifts for people not only to save money but to make it more personal. Especially for Christmas this year. We don't do credit cards and believe it or not we don't really miss out.
I have to share my latest SCORE with you & my last little tip. I LOVE to hold on to gift cards for just a little while until there is a sale going on to use it in combination with. Remember this bag you all love?

Well I was able to get it for $15 out of pocket. Can you believe it? It was a $300 bag. But when I combined a sale with my gift card I had been holding onto I only had to pay $15. I also recently bought my little man this $129 Janie & Jack coat (ouch) for only $20 out of pocket.
 This seriously made me do the happy dance in the middle of the living room while the hubs and the dogs watched. I thought it was liberating...I am pretty sure by their faces they thought is was scary crazy.  
And here is a perfect example of one of my favorite, completely free projects that was born out of complete creativity and on hand supplies.
Here is the How to
Well I will wrap this up because I know that this post may be extremely boring to some of you, but I just wanted to share my life (the good and the bad) (the socially acceptable and the taboo) with those of you who emailed me and may find it interesting. If you find yourself on a tight budget just know you are not alone. Try to find the creative beauty in a makes it so much easier to be okay with where you are at financially. And don't misunderstand. I still shop Anthropologie and Sephora as well as enjoy fun things like my new birthday ipad woo whoo! But those purchases are in the "not often" category of the budget which makes me appreciate them even more. I really hope this helps some of you, especially when you are under such financial pressure during the holiday season. 
I will be back tomorrow with something less heavy and more normal..but thanks for sticking it out with me today. I heart y'all!


  1. We are in the same boat. I am a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful children. We have one car (sold the other one so I could stay home). We are all about making home and family fabulous. I still hope for a family vacation someday, but I rather each and every special moment I get all year long over one week with the kiddos so quitting my job was a no brainer. This is what the hubs and I always wanted.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. This summer my boyfriend, our daughter & I moved into a new rental with the rent costing double from the house we had been living in. But we hoped it would balance out from saving on gas because we'd be 15 minutes from work rather than the 60 before. The day after we signed our lease my boyfriend was layed off. Our world was crushed. I have now become the main supporter of the family living on a waitresses paycheck. A year ago if I wanted to buy a pair of Miu Miu shoes it was no problem, now I shop tag sales at the Goodwill. When we moved into this house I wanted to decorate it in a way that was ours, now it's on a nickles & dimes budget. But you learn, & you make do. And are thankful you have a roof over your head & food on the table. Because that is what really matters.

  3. I thought this is a very interesting post. We are a two income family, but still need to incorporate many of the same tips to make it work, including one car. I buy most of my daughters' clothes at Goodwill, but buy their shoes new. I am also prepared to wait if the price is not right.

  4. This is awesome! It sounds like we live parallel lives and you put it into words perfectly! I have a quote on my living room wall that says, "The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything" as a daily reminder that it's not really about the "stuff." And I think there's a major sense of pride that comes with knowing you've done things yourself and/or you scored a KILLER deal! Anyway, love this post. Thanks!

  5. I'm fortunate also to stay at home and honestly we're finally getting to the point where things aren't so tight (the one joy of getting older) but that doesn't mean we throw our money away because we can, one of our cars is almost 10 years old, I frequent the Goodwill for furniture more then I frequent high end shops and I still find that I can get more creative with my home when I set a tight budget. Just because you have some extra money is no reason to throw it away! Love your blog and I'm so glad I've found it!!

  6. This is great. Thanks for sharing this with us, Courtney. We're also a one income family and things have been tight for a while-and will continue to be so. But life has transformed with this new way of budgeting-I find I cherish things so much more than before and I discovered an absolute love of Goodwill and garage sales!
    I love the quote Jenn shared-I plan to write that where I can see it daily too! Thanks for keeping it real with us:)

  7. Great post! We are also a one income family and try to incorporate everything you talked about in your post. It is also amazing how many free family events you can attend if you just look around to see what is out there. I love your Janie and jack pea coat for your little man! You can probably find a high end kids consignment store and get back what you spent on it if not more when olly grows out of it!

  8. Hi Courtney, post my divorce I went through the longest time of having no money...and having to be really careful. I hated it and was pretty grumpy about it.

    And then I worked for people with loads of money - that was harder! No budget = too many choices. Everything's easier when it's binary: Can I afford it? Will it make me happy for days? weeks? months?

    It's a good lesson to remember.
    I'm happier on a budget.

    Thank you for a great post, particularly during this crazy season...


  9. First let me say, I love your blog and I'm an avid reader, though this may be my first comment :) WOW! I'm surprised at the number of couples making due3 with one car--my boyfriend and I are the same way.

    Courtney, would you consider posting tips on a cross-country move on a budget? My boyfriend and I are moving from St. Louis to San Francisco in the Spring! Thanks!

  10. I will be happy to Shea! We will be living so close to one another ;.)

    Thanks so much for sharing your stories & support. I'm glad we have each other ;.) big hugs*


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