Black Friday Buzz Kill… (and Free Budget Printables)

After talking to several friends and family, it seems we’re not the only ones feeling a bit of pain in the pocketbook. Holiday season 2013, is going to be a bit lean for us and others. Which is why I thought it would be the perfect time to be the “Debbie Downer” of the Black Friday buzz. Why? Because of our recent vacation views like these… (Which really keep us centered and remind us of the importance of celebrating the holidays with family and friends, is more important than the stuff.) free budget printables 008 free budget printables 007

Also having our second water heater blow up, and new car brakes will keep a person very budget conscious. Budgets are something I love! Friends sometimes tease us about our OCD tendencies and the mysterious “budget” we refer to. Yet  budgets work, and we thought it might be useful to others out there experiencing a lean Holiday season. Also a great way to kick off our Busy People series, starting with the Busy Budgeter…So here it is…

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(I’ve taken our spreadsheets and turned them into a handy mini budget binder!) Aren’t you just as excited as we are?!jump for joy

Not to be left out, we included the Assets and Liabilities tracker (Forgive the financial lingo) as the second page to the monthly budget printable. Also here is the newest edition…A spending journal (I started paying for the personal and grocery expenses with cash and an envelope system) and we needed a place to track all the details. Luckily Sarah at the Accidental Okie has a lovely budget system (seriously she makes budgeting so stylish), and we need to give her full credit for the inspiration of my mini spending journal. free mini spending journal tracker

free mini spending tracker and journal sheets

Basically all the sheets are sized to fit a 1 inch 5×8 binder. I use the Avery pocket binder with the built in folder/pocket to store my cash envelope system, receipts and pens.

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Also the 5×8 size allows me to easily store the binder away in the purse so I can always budget on the go.

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Each sheet is separated by a divider: Monthly Budget, Assets Sheet, Liabilities Sheet, and Spending Journal. Just fold and cut the sheets in half for each one, and three hole punch for the binder.

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I even found some plastic protectors for my coupons and mini binder paper for brainstorming weekly meal plans and grocery lists. (I’m not nearly as organized with my meal planning yet because of a new diet)

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We hope you find our system useful and that I didn’t completely kill your Black Friday Buzz. However as sneak peek for next Sunday’s post we have a couple follow up posts for our Busy People Series…Have a safe, fun and budget friendly Thanksgiving from us and the pups!

Defrosting the Ferns…Easy way to Protect your Plants during Winter

Yay! Fall (and in some places Winter) is upon us! Only problem is if you have tropical plants (zone 9-9b+) you know its also time to protect them. We’ve used the special frost fabric, and even old bed sheets in the past, but here is our newest and cheapest technique for protecting plants from winter’s chill. This inexpensive trick was suggested by the garden experts at Green Acres here in Sacramento after we almost fell over looking at pop up “frost tents” ($17 a piece!). All you will need is some burlap (a roll is about $10-$12 at Home Depot), long bamboo stakes ($0.89-$1.50) and lots of dried leaves (we have plenty of those this time of year). As for tools you’ll need only scissors and a hand staple gun. protecting plants from frost 010protecting plants from frost 011

First sink your bamboo stakes, either 3 or 4, to a pot/plant depending how large your plants are.

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Next wrap your plant with the burlap and attach it to the bamboo stakes using the staple gun or even stapling it to the adjacent fence if necessary.

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Finally add your leaves, and be sure to cover the root ball or base of your plant, as the experts say, its actually not the outer leaves, branches, etc you’re trying to protect but rather the root system. If you don’t have leaves, they suggested purchasing cedar mulch.

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Now if you have a real hard frost, use any excess burlap to cover the tops of the plants at night, and just remove the covers during the day so they can still get some winter sun, rain and/or if the day warms up. They also suggested to give the plants a good watering during the warmest part of the day at least twice a week during dry, cold stretches. (Making sure the water is penetrating the root system.) This may not be the prettiest idea, but it should protect our tropical plants.  We’ll free the “girls” in the spring and see if this technique actually worked!

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Keep Calm and Clean On…(Lessons learned from a flooded basement)…And Free Printable!

All was quiet on the blog-front last week…(Sorry guys!)…And thank you for the reader emails and messages of concern. #Thanksformissingus! (That was sort of cool!) Anyway we had a couple good excuses for no Sunday morning blog post. The first and biggest was our water heater met an untimely death, and flooded our basement. We lost several boxes of photos, books, craft supplies, wine, electronics and a desktop computer. We also had a massive amount of cleaning, and lost hours of our lives dealing with the home warranty company plumbers. Yet in the end we have a new water heater and some new knowledge about home insurance policies.

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Create a Home Inventory Checklist

In the midst of damage control you may have forgotten what was in those boxes or rubbermaid containers. Whether it was a storage closet, a basement, or even in a room we often don’t remember what we were storing away or had in the first place. Essentially print one checklist for each room and itemize all valuables, furniture, etc, in it. Don’t forget to list whats in the closets, basements, garages, guest houses, and attics.

Make a Home Movie

Walk around your house with the video camera. We often narrate and describe the items we are recording. Luckily we do this every year usually around New Years and/or tax time. There is a reason for the timing, 1) we normally have some new things after Christmas, and/or 2) taxes always brings out the organizer in us and when we finally pull out that ol’ receipt file.

Don’t Leave them at the Home

Store your video and home Inventory checklist off-site from your actual home. This can be with a trustworthy family member, or in a safe security box at your local bank. We chose the later, because our bank offered a safe security box for free to us anyway, and what should happen if that family member has their own fire or flood?

Hopefully you will not need to use your Home Inventory, but as we all know…Life happens.