Saturday, September 03, 2011

Budgeting for Autumn


One of the hydrangeas in my back yard. I'm so grateful to the house's former owner for planting these years ago.

I'm taking time today to look at my budget for the next couple pre-holiday months. (I'll worry about my Christmas shopping budget a bit later). Now that I have another teenager suddenly living in my house, my budget is a bit different from last year.

I need to think about upcoming birthdays I'll need to send gifts, cards and flowers for; Thanksgiving expenses (I don't travel for that holiday, so that helps); and all the grocery shopping I'll need to be doing for the autumn dinner parties I throw.

Meanwhile, I will need money to maintain my home (and make it better, not just keep it at the same level). I need some woodwork repairs, carpet cleaning, and a furnace inspection. A tree needs to be trimmed back from over the chimney. And very soon I'll be buying bulbs to plant in my fall planting spree.

I'll likely need to buy a couple new sweaters for the fall. The teenage cousin living with me needs a coat, shoes and some clothes for fall, too.

This year there is only one musical coming up that I'm particularly interested in ( Cinderella, at the Fifth Avenue) and I definitely will forego Starbucks, manicures and other non-necessities in order to save up for that.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Balance checkbook; pay any outstanding bills that didn't get done on September first.

  • Do a quick maintenance-cleaning wipedown of bathroom mirrors, counters, and sinks as needed.

  • Launder bath towels, bath mats, wash towels and hand towels, if needed


TODAY'S PROJECT: Budgeting


Home Budget Organizer, on Amazon

Sit down with your significant other/spouse/partner (or yourself; or your accountant) and look over your budget for the next 2 months. Are you able to put away money in savings? Pay down credit card debt? If not, what things do you need to give up, and behaviors to change, in order to do so?

What sorts of upcoming expenses can you anticipate? Need to buy any coats or fall clothing for family members? New shoes (the kind someone actually needs because their existing shoes are worn out; not the kind we just want because they're pretty).

Do you have any medical appointments coming up? Dentist visits that need a co-pay? Veterinarian visits for your pets? School pictures for your kids? Any upcoming field trips at their schools that have a fee associated? Will your family members need haircuts, or pets need professional grooming, in the next two months?

Any birthdays coming up, or parties you plan to throw? Need to stock your pantry for fall, and buy cleaning supplies? Planning on attending any movies, concerts, or events between now and November? Are you well stocked on fall home fragrance and candles?

What home-repair, home maintenance, and home improvement projects do you need to get done in the next 2 months? Doing any home organizing or redecorating, and maybe need to budget in organizing supplies?

Write your estimated budget (and expenses) down on paper. If you have a significant other, have them sign it, and make a copy so you both have one. That way you can refer back to it later (especially during an argument, laugh!)

I post mine somewhere I see it every day - my home office wall right next to the computer. After a couple weeks I'll forget to look at it, so hopefully I will remember to move it somewhere else so I will notice it again. I wouldn't put it anywhere public like the fridge where visitors could see it, though. Mostly it's just a reminder for me of all the things I want to accomplish and to be able to provide for my household.

LOVELY BLOGS: Food Lush


A food and kitchen-related blog covering kitchen gadgets, meals and recipes, cooking websites and related TV shows. Multiple authors contribute to this blog, so you never know what fun things you'll come across here. Currently posting about Wusthof knives, roasted tomatoes, and a September recipe roundup.

http://www.foodlushblog.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: Literary Feasts


"Inspired Eating From Classic Fiction." This is another book I picked up at the library recently. It helps inspire you for literary-themed dinner parties, as well as discussing the role of food in famous works of literature.

While I won't probably be throwing a Sleepy Hollow-themed party any time soon, it's fun to read through the menu suggestions (pies and preserved fruits, ham, beef, chicken, and tea) and the entertainments you'd present (space for wild dancing, and a supply of scary stories).

Each literary meal is presented on about four pages, with a charming illustration, a quote from the book, info on the themed food, and a snippet of suggestions on how to create the themed feast.

Meals discussed here include an Alice in Wonderland tea; dinners from Moby Dick and Madame Bovary; lunches from Little Women and Brideshead Revisited; children's meals from Dickens and Huckleberry Finn; and special occasions from The Great Gatsby and Ian Fleming's Bond books.

Overall this is a fun light read, but don't expect recipes or detailed instructions. Enjoy it for the inspiring fun little book that it is.

Literary Feasts, on Amazon

LOVELY STATIONERY: Matryoshka Notecards


These adorable notecards are die-cut. I have to admit the smallest two might not have very much room for a personal message, but I'd love to send friends cheerful notes on the larger ones.

Masha Matryoshka Notecards, on Amazon

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Japanese Autumn Dishes (Japanese Food/About.com)

Raspberry and Lemongrass Trifle (Nigella Lawson)

Time for School Lunch (CHOW)

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