Life as a Lindquist…on a Budget (a semi-resolution)

Money money money moneeeey…mon - nay!

I wish I loved talking about finances as much as I loved that song. But because I don't, Mr. Lindquist and I have never been "on a budget." Granted, we've followed a few staple rules:

-Don't spend more than you make.
-Pay off credit cards each month.
-And order water at restaurants.

OK, that last one might not be a game-changer, but I digress.

One thing we couldn't avoid was student loans. I am grateful I don't have a single one. Shout out to my parental units for helping me get my career started debt-free and for UNMC paying for the majority of my almost master's degree. However, Rob has racked up his fair share during undergrad and obtaining his teaching certificate.

Quick side note: I read my first financial book five years ago, mostly because my dad bribed my sisters and I with a quiz at the end that would yield cold cash the more answers we got right. It was extremely eye opening except for the chapter in which he argues against taking on college loans. Apply for scholarships, work during college or don't go if you can't pay for it, were all his words of wisdom. I couldn't disagree more. Even with scholarships and a job, it's almost impossible to "pay as you go" on your own with the price of tuition these days. I am really proud of my husband for earning his degrees despite the fact he had to take on the debt that came with it. It's made him who he is today and resulted in one of the best fitting careers for him. My going to college wasn't brave or noble. It was just what was expected. He is the one who took on the financial burden with the belief that it would pay off someday. He'd probably want me to stop talking about it at this point, so I will.

Anyway, I read another book a year or so ago (are you sensing a theme here? books are BAD NEWS!) and it was all about the "an experimental mutiny against excess." More on that here if you're interested. This book in combination with that damn Dave Ramsey book got me thinking: I'd really like to pay off those student loans. Completely. In a year or two. And not string them out until it's our daughters' turn to go to college.

This thought became an idea: 2015: THE YEAR OF NO SPENDING.

Enter Rob, worried about his golf game and Starbucks addiction.

I've spent the last month "crunching the numbers." Turns out, I prefer popcorn, but that's neither here nor there.

It also turns out we spend wayyyyyyyyy wayyyy way way way too much money on food. And shopping. at Target. While sipping Starbucks.

In our defense, other than the student loans, we have no other debt (save for our house and an interest-free couch from Nebraska Furniture Mart in our basement right now.) Coupled with the fact we have two daughters in daycare/preschool, are paying for Rob's masters as we go and finished our basement last year, this is actually quite a miracle in our eyes. And even though some of that financial burden will be lifted when Faith goes to kindergarten in the fall, Rob graduates this summer and the knowledge that we're not taking on any home reno projects anytime soon, I am still sick of those loans and want them gone! 

I should mention the total amount is somewhere around our ages followed by a few zeros. The ultimate goal is to pay them off completely in 2015. That would be awesome, but I would take half if unforeseen circumstances arise. We'll see how it goes. I will update as we go with more info and tidbits, but for now you get this.

15 resolutions/action steps we are taking pay off student loans in 2015.

1. Say NO! A lot. Especially to the voices inside our heads telling us we "need" things...

2. Within reason. We're not going to stop eating out all together or never shop at all. We still need to feed our family and clothe our growing children, so don't worry that we're taking away their birthdays and eating rice and beans for a year. The crunchy numbers are just being trimmed back in all categories.

3. Stores on the banned list for me: Kohl's, Hobby Lobby and Metro Crossing in general.

3.5 Stores on the banned list for Rob: Home Depot, Menards and comic book stores in general.

4. No more automatically reloading money onto the Starbucks app. The amount of money we spent on coffee last year would make grown men ugly cry, especially Dave Ramsey. That was with an inordinate amount of gift cards Rob received for his birthday, Christmas, and Father's Day. No more! *Rob editing here… maybe just a few Starbucks...

5. Grocery shopping smartly. I throw anything and everything in the cart. Oh, there's cheese that tastes like chocolate now? Must have! The Costco worker has a sample? I don't want to hurt his feelings by not purchasing the item I tried. Basically, I never look at the prices. It's time to start.

6. Two Target Trips per month with a $100 limit each time. This shouldn't be considered cutting back, but sadly for us it is. We are making a list and sticking to it. Avoiding the clothing, books and home improvement sections should help with our impulse buys.

7. Things we're giving up: big shopping trips, golf trips (sorry, dear) and other pricey getaways. Yeah, it sucks, but it's only for one year.

8. Things we're not giving up: our Iowa State football tickets, our zoo membership, and running races. So don't feel too sorry for us. Also, unlimited Redbox :)

9. We're also keeping cable and internet, but cutting back on both. Thanks to Rob's negotiation skills, we'll be saving close to $50 a month!

10. Though we'll still have to eat out occasionally, we aren't going to do it for lunch. We will grocery shop for quick lunch ideas and if we forget to pack one on a certain day, have a stash of snacks to get us through.

11. We're also getting allowances :) That way if Rob goes into caffeine-free shock, he can splurge on Starbucks. *Rob again… whew! Or if everyone if my office orders Indian food, I don't have to stifle the sobs coming from my cubicle. The jury is still out on how much we're going to pay ourselves for our chores.

12. Birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions won't go unrecognized, but experiences will be worth more than gifts.

13. We'll create a wish list for everything we want to buy all year long but can't and see if we still even want most of it at the end of the year. If we do, Christmas ideas will be very specific.

14. We are going to make one of those monetary charts, and fill in the amounts we pay toward loans every month, with help from our lovely assistants who love to color of course.

15. We are going to fail at certain points, fight during others, but mostly we're gonna try our best! And at the end of the day, at this time next year, instead of putting money toward an education that's already been earned, we'll be able to put more toward those of two that have yet to be. 

Wish us luck! 

Holiday Bucket Lists: The Untold Story

It's that time of year again, when we make our holiday lists and check them twice:

Yeah, right. Allow me to share with you what a holiday bucket/to do list looks like in real life.

1. Pinterest version: Visit Santa.

Real life Lindquist version: Force your "mama's girl" to sit on a stranger's lap.

2. Pinterest version: Decorate your tree with hand-made ornaments.

Real life Lindquist version: Scream hysterically when the Christmas tree falls on your young daughters and probably scars them (and you) for life.

3. Pinterest version: Remember this year forever with holiday portraits.

Real life Lindquist version: Push your luck partaking in an unwanted photoshoot with kids under the age of 5.

4. Pinterest version: Bring home the bargains on Black Friday.

Real life Lindquist version: Have your joy zapped by a retail worker who is pissed that your Christmas shopping is standing between her and a 10 minute lunch break.

5. Pinterest version: Sip hot cocoa by the fireplace.

Real life Lindquist version: Gain all your holiday weight in one sitting.

6. Pinterest version: String up lights to make the neighborhood glow.

Real life Lindquist version: Laugh/cry when your husband tells you to check back in a half hour to see if he's fallen off the roof.

7. Pinterest version: Attend an ugly sweater party.

Real life Lindquist version: Allow your husband to wear something you treasured in the 5th grade all in the name of winning a contest at work.

8. . Pinterest version: Make a gingerbread house.

Real life Lindquist version: Throw away the gingerbread house craft that's too ugly even for a mother to love.

9. Pinterest version: Involve family pets in your Christmas celebrations.

Real life Lindquist version: Torture your dog with jingly bells.

10. Pinterest version: Read Christmas letters from family and friends.

Real life Lindquist version: Become saddened by the realization the people whose last names end in S haven't read this chart:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years from the Lindquistes' :)

What's on your holiday bucket list?

23 Things about Gabby Grace

1. First thing is first. You are still my little mama's girl. I wrote about you being a Stage 5 clinger awhile ago and am happy to report nothing has changed. You seek me out constantly and I love you for it...except for when I'm trying to help Faith brush her teeth cause mommy only has so many arms. But overall, it feels so good to be "thee person" that you prefer above anyone else.

2. That said you love your dada too. Dada is your favorite word for sure. And nobody gets you to giggle like he does. When he blows on your belly, tickles your ticklespots or does on of his many bodily function noises, you smile and laugh. Every baby laughs differently and I think your's should be recorded for a toy.

3. The number of words you can say and sign has increased immensely over the past six months. In addition to mama and dada, you love to say apple, ball, book, Howie, No (many times those last two words are together), stop, iPoop, peas for please, mo for more, wawa for milk, Nama for Grandma and nigh nigh for anyone who closes their eyes.

4. You are a pro at kisses and hugs. I love the way you pucker your lil lips and pat me on the back  when we hug.

5. Your favorite pastimes include playing with babies and putting blankets on them and putting barbies in the car and taking them out over and over again. You also love jumping on the bed, playing peekaboo or "I'm gonna getchu" and dancing, dancing and more dancing, preferably naked. Almost every day on your sheet from school, it says you enjoyed dancing to the music that day. When a song comes on, it's like your body can't help but move.

6. As for your little preschool, though it took you three. long. weeks. to stop crying at drop off, you now seem to enjoy your little friends and all the fun activities you do together. Your teachers told us at conferences (yes, there are parent-teacher conferences for 1-year-olds) that they absolutely love your personality. You are easy going, eat well and nap long. Three great qualities in a kid.

7. You officially know your name. Even though you think it's Gabba and not Gabby. That's probably our fault for saying Yo Gabba Gabba all the time.

8. Your hair is still blonde and stick straight, the opposite of your sister's. I love the color and am ready for it to be long enough to tuck behind your ear. For now we do a half-side-pony, and sometimes I pull it back in the middle, but that makes you look too close to two!

9. You and Faith/FaFa are getting along better, though you still don't trust her 100% and I don't blame you. She looooves to pester you because you're so cute and lovable, but much of the time she just wants to be near you and cuddle or hug. You like your bubble of space and seem to screech if someone enters it unauthorized.

10. I would list your favorite foods, but you still like pretty much anything and everything I put on your plate. Broccoli and cold peas are your fav veggies and blueberries and strawberries for fruit. While you're a healthy lil eater, you also go for the ice cream every time and unfortunately have been introduced to fruit snacks. Grandpa is your new best friend for feeding you pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.

11. Bath time is a joy with you because you don't mind water over your head at all. Getting you out is a different story. Thankfully, a little foot rub and a light blow dry help you forget you're not in the tub splashing around any more. Plus, you smell amazing and we need to look into making it into a perfume!

12. You officially know who Elmo is! And Abby Cadabby. I am trying to get you to learn the other characters your sister had memorized at an early age, but then I realized you've never even watched Sesame Street while she tuned in regularly back when she was your age. Hoping to win tickets to Sesame Street Live in January so I can watch your mind be blown by Elmo coming to life!

13. Since you're officially 18 months it's time to start thinking about taking away your binky. Nooooo! You are so attached to your MAMs, even though you don't ask for them by name. And we can't go very far without your "birdie" either. I love that you have comfort items…makes our lives a lot easier in the car and at nap and bedtime.

14. You enjoy reading books now and will find one and just start backing up into someone's lap. You trust-fall your little booty right down and expect the lap to be there. When we read, you love to point out apples, balls and anything with its eyes closed. Animals noises are your specialty.

15. When you wake up in the morning, your hair is usually a fright, but as long as you can have a few hits from your binky, you're in a good mood. If you're up before Faith, I'll let you watch a toonie in our bed for a few minutes. Now that you know the routine, you walk into our bedroom and grunt and point at the TV and remote until somebody finds Curious George.

16. Just when I thought you were too little to discipline, you started hitting people to see what the reaction would be. I don't think you were pleased to find out that meant a time out in your orange rocking chair. It's hard not to laugh when you pout, but I think you've learned your lesson. The other day I walked in on your babies sitting in the rocking chairs. When I got closer, I heard you yelling "No No" at them.

17. Smiling for the camera or for anyone on command is still the opposite of your specialty. I have several cute photos of you, but only daycare was able to capture your smile when they took school pictures (yes, school pictures for 1-year-olds, too). It doesn't phase me a bit that you won't smile for just anyone. Make em work for it, GG!

18. You're ready for a steak. I swear you should have all 20 of your baby teeth at this point, as it seems like you're constantly getting a new tooth. Hopefully you're done until your two year molars!

19. The Boynton books are some of your favorites, including Moo Baa La La La and Red Hat, Green Hat. Here you are reading at the ripe age of 18 months.

20. After saying "yeah" to everything forever, you finally learned to say no, and we captured it on video as well.

21. You've been introduced to dum dums. Everything in the house is sticky. Causation, not correlation!

22. Current wake/sleep schedule:
7:15 wakeup (always EARLIER on weekends)
12:15 naptime
2:15 or so wake-up
7:45 bedtime
Lots of babies, barbies and blocks in between. And we can't forget your many meals and the outfit changes that come with each one!

23. Last but not least, you've been sick for the Thanksgiving weekend, it's made me realize that despite your waking up at 2:15, 3:15 and 4:15 (you're very consistent when you're ill) I would do absolutely anything for you. All you want right now is to be held. I'm happy to be the person to hold you. I love you so much, Gabrielle Grace. Happy half-birthday!