Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Create It Thursday #72 (Plus Features)



So glad y'all could stop by for another fun week of Create It Thursday!

I loves so many of the creations from last week.  Here are a few of my favorites!  These are also on the the Create It Thursday Pinterest board and the Lamberts Lately Facebook page.















A big, huge thanks to everyone who contributed their great ideas last week!  Here's your feature button if you're listed above:



Let's get this week's party started!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our Tailgating Favorites

Today’s post is sponsored by Sam’s Club, but my love for their tailgating and football season is all my own!

The past couple of football seasons have been a little bit different in our family.  When we lived in Tuscaloosa, we were right in the middle of all the excitement.  We were used to tailgating on the Quad every weekend, and had a ton of fun doing it!

But now, football seasons are a little bit more laid back.  We still like to tailgate, but it's at home and 3 hours away from the action now.  Is it strange that I might like this kind of tailgating just as much?  It kind of takes some of the fuss out of it and concentrates on the fun.

Here are a few of our favorites tailgating items, whether we're right in the middle of the action or celebrating at home!





-A good, quick dip recipe: I love having an easy recipe to take to tailgates that is both delicious and easy to put together.  Here's one: mix 1 block Kraft Velveeta with 1 can Hormel Chili.  Microwave in 3-4 minute increments until cheese is melted, and mix well.  Top the mixture with another can of chili and cheddar cheese, and bake until cheese is melted. Serve with tortilla chips.  Easy and such a crowd pleaser!

-A sturdy canopy tent: These things were absolutely everywhere when we tailgated on the quad.  It's so important to get a sturdy one...you're going to be using it lots!  These are great for beach trips and outdoor afternoons too.  You can see Sam's Club's full line here, just click on Canopies!

-An easy-to-transport grill: The last thing you want to do is lug a huge grill from your car to your tailgate area...what a pain!  This is a great quality one that's portable.

-Something to stay hydrated: Tuscaloosa, Alabama is HOT throughout a good half of football season, and it's really easy to not drink enough fluids to take care of yourself while tailgating! We kept a supply of things like Powerade in our coolers.

-Comfortable chairs: I've seen many, many kinds of tailgating chairs throughout the years, but the one pictured above has to be my favorite!  Make sure yours has a cup holder and folds up easily...when you're breaking down 10-15 of these at a time, you'll thank yourself for that. (You can find that one under "Tailgating Furniture" at this link.)

-A good slow cooker: The easiest thing to do for a tailgating recipe is to find one you can put in a slow cooker and just forget about.  I prefer to spend time with friends, rather than worrying about what we're eating.  The recipe I put up above is perfect for that!  (Isn't the one above awesome?  I'm kind of in love.  It has a rice steaming option and holds up to 20 cups of cooked food!)

-A Smart TV: This is definitely something for the at-home tailgating experience (although I've seen these on the quad).  It's so nice to have a Smart TV that allows you to not only watch the game, but check social media and other scores too!  This one is also 3D...how cool does it sound to watch the game in 3D?


Alright, what am I missing?  What are your favorite tailgating items?


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Monday, September 15, 2014

How I Made Our Household Budget

Great resource if you're planning a personal or household budget!




I know some people might cringe at this topic, but it's actually been one I've been very interested in lately!  Noah and I are really starting to look at some of our long-term goals - namely, buying/building a house in the next couple of years.  So I've made it a priority to get our finances in order in the past few months.  And, believe it or not, it's actually been kind of fun! :) There's just something so freeing and comforting about knowing where your money is going and knowing you're using your budget to its fullest potential.

Making our budget was kind of tricky.  Our household income is pretty variable from month to month - no two are the same, so no two monthly budgets can be the same.  So, I waited a little bit after Noah started his job last September to really buckle down to a budget.  

My first step was actually looking at what I was working with.  I took the average of what we were brining in each month, minus taxes, insurance, and anything else taken out of our paycheck before we get to spend it.  I used the past 6 months to figure that.  I based the total monthly budget off of that number.

If we make less than average in a month, we reduce the amount we put in savings for that month.  If we make more, we increase the savings for that month.  It all really balances out in the end.  Savings is a great area to catch some of the windfall if you have a variable income!

(Each of the following graphics has a printable version that fits standard printer paper - just click the graphic to go to my google drive account to download!)

Free printable for personal budget categories




Next, I sat down and listed out our budget categories.  The list above is a good reference to what you might want to list - of course, each household is going to be different.  For each category, I listed the items that were the same expense each month (rent, car payments, internet subscriptions, etc.) first in each category - since those have to be the same month to month, you want to make sure there is room in the monthly budget for them first.  Everything else can have wiggle room,  so you can tailor how much you spend on each item to how much you're willing to spend in that category.

Free printable planning sheet for your personal/household budget



After I listed our fixed expenses and estimated our variable expenses, I totaled it up.  Chances our it isn't going to match your income the first time you total everything - so, increase or decrease those areas with wiggle room as needed.  This is the trickiest part of the process, as you have to balance your budget while keeping enough money in each category.

The percentages you see above is how I finally divided our budget up.  This was after sitting down and listing each expense, listing the constant costs and giving the areas with wiggle room an estimated number, until everything fit into our overall budget.  Once again, every household is different, so you might find that you need to raise/lower the percentage for each category.

A few tips/notes for each category...

General Bills
This is an area that has lots of costs that are consistent, so it can be difficult to tailor it into a budget sometimes.  I do have some tips on how to reduce your utility expenses here.

Savings
This is an area that we have really tried to maximize in our current budget.  We would love to have a great down payment for when we decide to buy/build a house, so that's really been prioritized in our current budget.  We do have a small, set amount that we put aside for vacations and Christmas each month...that makes the sting of those expenses a lot less dramatic!

Transportation
Of course, this area can take up a lot less of your budget if you don't have a car payment.  We're working on paying those down soon, via our savings.  You can also minimize gas expenses by using rewards programs at grocery stores.

Debt Reduction
This is another priority for us right now.  We don't have a ton of debt, but the little bit of credit card debt we have makes me cringe. :)  If you have no debt (lucky duck!), I would default the money from this category into your savings budget. 

Pets
Though this might be a small portion of the budget, I think it's important to set aside some for your pets each month!  Especially those medical bills can sneak up on you.  If that's something you worry about, pet insurance might be a good option.

Daily Living
In my opinion, this is the area of the budget that has the most wiggle room.  I've written about how to save on your grocery budget here.  This is a big area to ask yourself, "do I really need this?"

I've also had to let go of planned weekly/bi-weekly grocery trips because of this budget.  If you have enough food for your family, there's no point in going to buy more just because you normally shop every Wednesday!  This might require you get kind of creative in the kitchen, but your budget will benefit in the long run.

Charitable Gifts
Unless you're in dire circumstances, I really think this area should be kept in the budget.  We have the majority of this going to our monthly tithing at church.  Check into whether or not your church has an automatic payment for this - it makes it so much easier!  I feel it's important to give back some of what you're earning.

Medical/Health
This area can be really variable, depending on whether or not your health insurance is automatically drafted from your paycheck.  It is for us, so I don't even write health insurance into our monthly budget - so, if you don't pay this out of a paycheck, it very well might take up more of your budget.  Of course, medical costs can sneak up too, whether you have insurance or not.  You might want to consider a medical expense area of savings if your costs fluctuate!

Home Maintenance
This is an area that is really minimized for us, as we rent right now.  It might be higher if you own and are responsible for your own repairs.

Entertainment
This is also an area with a lot of wiggle room.  If it's looking like you're going to be over budget for the month, this is definitely an area that can go!

If you haven't done this for your home yet, I'd highly recommend it.  Not only is it an easy reference for how much you're able to spend on any given item in a month, but you're going to benefit in the long run from the savings you're planning.  If you have any questions, please comment below - I'll be glad to answer them!


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Friday, September 12, 2014

Five on Friday



TGIF!

-one-

We went to the New Orleans Aquarium with Noah's parents last weekend.  We have a yearly pass since it isn't a super far trip for us, and I have a feeling we will wear it out.  It includes the Butterfly Museum, Zoo, and Insectarium too!





-two-



I had to share this...we decided to be the "fun parents" and take Emma Ramey to Sonic for a milkshake at 10:00 Saturday night.  Of course, our battery died there.  I was trapped in a car with a delirious toddler with a milkshake.  Fun times.

On another Emma Ramey note, I am so happy to report that she is absolutely thriving in school.  Every day, she is just beaming when she gets in the car.  It's giving me time to get my work done so I can concentrate on her & Noah when they're home, and I absolutely love seeing the things she's doing at school.  Her teacher has a private Facebook group for parents, so I get to see what she's up to every day!  We couldn't be happier with it.

-three-




Ok, so I mentioned earlier this week that Noah and I are really trying to stick to a budget.  August was kind of our trial run month - and y'all, I had no idea how much we spent on food.  I used to have that budget absolutely down, but moving just made it spiral out of control.


So, one thing we're doing is really concentrating on eating at home.  I still have my emeals subscription and love it.  We have it set on kid-friendly right now - the meals are a little more creative and just seem more appetizing.  I've started doing my food prep during nap time, and I actually enjoy cooking again! :) It's so nice to have it done and ready to pop in the oven.

I think I might do a bigger post about budgeting next week...it's been a topic I've really been thinking about and researching lately!

-four-

This has been my song of the week.



I had it on repeat a few days ago while I worked.  I could listen to this version 50 times...love it!

-five-

Speaking of working...I have a sale going on in the etsy shop through Sunday!  Enter SBDESIGNS20 at checkout for 20% off your order.

This has been a busy week in Sweetie Baby's world...I had a big order and several little orders that took up every second of time I had.  It's a good kind of busy though, and the kind I'm so, so thankful for.  Who would have dreamed this dinky little blog I started 5 years ago would provide so many opportunities for us. :)  Just know that each and every day I'm thankful for y'all!



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