No, we are not losing the house. We just cancelled cable.

A simple rule we all know about budgeting: make more money or cut expenses. In our case, making more money would mean working more hours and that wasn’t at all what we wanted. We want more time together, we kind of like each other, just a little bit. 😉 Since making more was out, we were on to cutting expenses. Cutting expenses is a really, really hard chore. We were not about to give up our date nights out, eating less was kind of out of the question, and unfortunately the water, sewer, and trash companies are not big negotiators. That left us with cell phones and cable. We both have iPhones so the answer seems pretty obvious, get rid of the phones. Don’t pay for internet on your phone if you have internet at home, right?! Seems to make perfect sense…in theory. If you have an iPhone (or any internet phone for that matter) you know how much of a time sucking, work avoiding, completely unnecessary yet completely necessary thing it is. So that’s definitely off the list of expenses to cut.

That leaves cable. Drop our cable?! Never. I needed to watch my Real Housewives, Lifetime movies, Lockup, and so many other shows that I’d rather not admit to watching (though I know I’m not alone). How would I ever be able to fold laundry again without having something mindless to watch or waste away a day watching a marathon of some show I’ve already seen 1,000 times?? Seriously, the thought of cancelling cable made us shudder. But when we looked at the numbers and thought: if we do this, we can have one more glass of wine on every date night. We were sold!

Since cancelling cable we have had quite the range of reactions from people we tell. Anywhere from , “Do you need money? Are you sure you guys are okay? You’re going to lose your house aren’t you?!” to “That’s awesome! What did you do? I need all of the details!”. So here it is, every little detail.cost breakdown

phone croppedAfter a lot of research and deciding to be in this for the long haul, we went with Ooma  for our home phone service. You might choose to use your cell phone only, but we needed a reliable, dedicated line for business and job purposes. Ooma is a VoIP (voice over IP) service that only requires the purchase of a base unit. The unit cost is $150, but you will quickly make that up the very small monthly fee of $3 to $4 to cover the cost of taxes and 911 service fees. We have had Ooma for over two years now and have nothing but wonderful things to say about it.

To make this all work, you will need the internet. Entertainment aside, with working from home and running our little internet croppedbusiness TheHumble Lemon it was critical that we had a very reliable, high speed internet connection. After a whole lot of searching we found that cable companies are on to us and are not very happy about it (big surprise, right?). To have only internet without cable cost almost as much as having cable AND internet. The whole point of this was to save money, and that just wasn’t going to work. Finally we found Clear wireless internet. There is no equipment to buy upfront, unlimited usage (this is huge because many cable company owned internet providers are now putting in place a usage cap to make it harder to cancel your cable and stream), and only $52 per month. The only draw back it that because this internet uses 4G and 3G cell internet, it is not yet available in all areas.

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Now to the important part, TV. How will you ever get to watch all of those wonderful shows without cable and DVR? You will be very surprised to find out how easy it is to watch almost the same exact shows that you watch right now without having to pay. You might have to watch them a day later but you will still get to watch! To get local network channels (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, etc.) in real time, we purchased digital rabbit ears. The FCC has a wonderful website detailing the different types of antennas available and their purpose. They also have an interactive map that will show you what channels you can pick up in your area. For what it’s worth, we went with a simple $5 antenna from Amazon.com to start and went from there based on what we could and could not receive. The best part about this is it’s free. Completely free (beside the antenna cost) TV! I know that just covers local channels and you seriously need your shows, the shows that are not on network channels, what about those shows?! Check out Hulu. It is amazing how many cable channels put their programming on Hulu only one day after it airs on television. One website, tons of new shows and movies and it is all for only $7.99/month. All you need is a streaming device, this could be a computer, a Roku, Apple TV, iPad, tablet of any kind, Xbox, Wii, and I’m sure there are more that I am leaving out. The Roku and Apple TV you can pick up for under $100 and both just plug into your TV using an HDMI cable and you are set to start watching (given you have a Hulu subscption).  Hulu most likely will not satisfy all of your guilty pleasure fixes, but if there is that one show that you need but they do not have, chances are pretty good that you will be able to find newer episodes on the channel’s website. For example, we NEED HGTV and were devastated when we thought we would not have access, but were so relieved to find that they put full episodes on their website. These episodes are not always the most current, but hey we can still watch…and it’s free.

Since dropping our cable, we have found some great new shows to love, lots more time in the day, and an extra $80-90 a month. Think of what you can do with $80 extra each month, that’s an extra $960 a year!

Have you made the leap yet? What do you do?

You have it all together, right?

You have it all together, I know you do. Your house is always clean, your baby always slept through the night, you always have a hot, healthy dinner at 6, you have a perfect job, a dream house, a budget that you stick to, happiest family ever, I think I could go on forever! It’s funny how we always think that everyone else has it all together, when I’m not really sure that any of us do. At the same time that I am looking at you thinking that you have it all together and wishing that I did, you are probably looking at the next person and thinking the same. exact. thing. Why do we do this to ourselves?!

Here’s the thing: not many people are going to tell everyone at a party about their money problems or pin pictures of their messy homes or failed projects on their “Dream House” board on Pinterest or upload pictures of their kids crying to their “My Babies ❤ ” album on Facebook, or post that video that you secretly have of a crazy meltdown to YouTube. We are only seeing the good, and we are seeing a lot of it! Of course we want be proud of the good! I’m not saying that we all need to stop posting positive things or that we need to start posting and talking about bad all of the time.  I am saying that we (maybe it’s just me, but I’ll say we hoping there is at least one other person like this out there!) need to realize that all of the good we see and hear about might just be a snippet of life. Even though you might be surrounded by wonderful stories of travel, amazing pins, smiles in all pictures, or “I love my job” status updates (do those exist?), that might make you wish that you had more, remember that you really don’t know what else is going on beyond the happy stories and posts. Realize that even though you might not always hear about it or see it, you are not the only one out there who has tough times or arguments or a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night at 3 weeks old.

Kids or no kids, married or not married, young or old, I think that we all have a tendency to look at others and think, “if only”. Take some time to look at what you do have and realize that what you do have is perfect for you, in this moment! Look at your posts and pictures as an outsider and think, “I really wish that I had it as good as him/her”. And hey, everyone would be better off if you’d post a picture of your messy house, admit that you ate ice cream for dinner at 9 last night, or share that even though you just posted a picture of the happiest baby ever you were in tears 5 minutes ago because you were frustrated.

Happy family, right? How about the 4 days leading up to this that were filled with tears (maybe me more than baby) and no sleep at all.

Happy family, right? What you don’t see is the 4 days and even minutes leading up to this picture that were filled with tears (maybe me more than baby) and no sleep at all. When he finally fell asleep right after this picture we walked, and walked, and walked just for a few minutes of peace.

Join me right now in sharing now an unpinnable look at your life, and do it proudly, knowing you’ll make a lot of other people feel better.

The dining room table: catch all for mail, bags, and more. Great organization!

Sophisticated organization. In our defense, this is Owen's favorite cabinet, he likes to make coffee and tea.

More sophisticated organization. In our defense, this is Owen’s favorite cabinet, he likes to make coffee and tea.

And on that note, let’s all agree to stop going crazy cleaning our homes right before we have company (I even clean before our parents come. That’s just crazy. They all know how we really are, we lived at their houses, remember?). I know you don’t really have it all together. Neither do I. Can we please quit faking?

You use what, for what?!

you us ewhat for what

“I will never ever do anything that my mom does!” A teenage girl’s motto, right? Surely it was mine during my wonderful teenage years. I always thought: I will never yell at my kids, I will never ground my kids, my kids will eat whatever they want, and I most definitely will NOT use cloth diapers like she did, that’s just weird and gross. Here we go back to that teenage me that would be rolling her eyes at the today me. I think all of this would call for a big, you’re going to get stuck like that kind of eye roll. The things that I do now are way too similar, it’s scary! Our son thinks that peas are the best snack ever, we will most definitely be using time outs and probably even grounding (but we’ll call it something else just for my satisfaction), and we use cloth diapers…even on vacation.

The cloth diaper that I thought my mom was insane for using and that I swore off from the time my little brother and sister were in them, we are now using and loving. Nick and I went back and forth on whether or not to go cloth. One day when O was about 6 months old, we were in Babies R’ Us and it came down to buying a $40 case of diapers for the second time in one month (we needed the extra sensitive, extra expensive for Mr. Eczema) or buying enough cloth diapering supplies for at least a year for almost the same price. That was right about that same time we decided that I would not go back to work full time, so we needed every penny possible and our decision was made! I completely understand that it is not for everyone and we are far from experts, but I thought I would share what we found and learned along the way.

1. Cloth diapers are not what you think! Well, at least not what I thought. I thought a strip of cloth the needed folded, secured with pins and plastic pants over top. This kind of cloth is still available, very economical and the covers come in some adorable designs, but there are a ton of other options out there as well!

2. The eww factor. I promise that it is no where near as gross as you think! Trust me, you know that person who uses the paper towel to turn off a faucet and open the door, that was me. I am almost to the point of washing my feet before getting into bed because I just can’t stand the thought of sleeping with germs. So if I am not grossed out, that is saying something! Clean up really only takes a minute, you just dump the waste where waste goes (the toilet of course) and throw into your “diaper hamper”. We use a $5 plastic garbage pail with locking lid from Target lined with a regular laundry bag. Solid waterproof pail liners are also available, we just wash the pail out after each use. To make clean up even easier, you can invest in flushable liners that are thin sheets that sit on top of the cloth to catch the solids.

how we vacuum3. gDiapers. These were great to start with and easy to get since they are available  at Babies R’ Us. We loved that they helped us get started and that they had disposable inserts to use in place of a cloth liner to help you ease into the cloth. The downside was that they were a bit time consuming because they had the cloth part and the snap in liner. If you want to give these a try, I recommend buying one of their starter packs that includes all parts needed. Otherwise, you need to but the gPants (cloth outer diaper), gPouches (snap-in plastic insert), and gCloths (you need at least two 6 packs).

4. BumGenius Freetime. After getting tired of the multiple pieces in the gDiapers, we went to a wonderful local cloth diaper store (so happy that it existed!) and they recommended BumGenius Freetime All in One (AIO). The AIO made a world of difference in ease; it went on just like a regular diaper! Really, you can pick from velcro or snaps and you just fasten it on. I highly recommend going snaps. No one wants to walk into a mess in the morninglook how comfy because little mr. or miss got the velcro undone!

The AIOs are great in that there is no stuffing, no snapping, no situating, just put it on like a regular diaper and you are good to go! I highly recommend these to anyone who is thinking about cloth but is not sure about the time commitment. These are also great if you have a babysitter or send to daycare because they are so familiar in the way that they go on. The downside of these diapers is the upfront cost. AIOs in general cost more than the pre-fold (what you think of when you think cloth diaper) with cover, but there are always some great deals out there on these! So check with your friendly local cloth diaper supplier!

cute prints5. The Alvas.

Upon great recommendation, we purchased about a dozen Alva AI2    (all in 2s) and also have been very happy with these! Alva (the brand) diapers are very cost effective! At around $5-10 each (includes a diaper and one cloth insert) you can’t beat the price! The AI2 means that you stuff the liner into the actual diaper, then they go on just like a regular disposable diaper. These are a great way to add to your “stash” to make sure that you have enough so you are not doing laundry every day. They come in some really adorable prints, which I never quite understood before but now I get it. Let’s face it, we all let our kids run around in diapers because that diaper change was enough of a battle, I’m not chasing your down just for pants! I can’t tell you how many pictures we have of Owen without pants on…another one of those, “I will never do” things.

Just go buy one and give it a try, I think you will be amazed at how easy and cost effective these really are! Then go tell your mom she was right, about most things.

A new kind of vacation

ImageVacation. How it has changed over the years. Not necessarily in a bad way, but just changed. When I was younger, all I had to worry about was if I had enough pairs of Umbro shorts packed so that I could play tennis and embarrass my parents when we went out to dinner. As I got older it turned into overpacking because I just couldn’t decide what outfits I wanted. And here we are today, on our way home from vacation. A new kind of adult with a kid of my own vacation. A vacation where I am ashamed to admit that I packed dirty clothes because I ran out of time before leaving to finish laundry. And even more ashamed to admit that I was all too excited to actually get laundry done and folded while we were there. Let me tell you how wonderful it is to be coming home with all clean clothes!Image The things that excite me now would really make the vacation me from 10 years ago roll her eyes (rumor has it I did that a lot, but I think that’s a lie).

So if packing dirty clothes isn’t bad enough, we packed up the sewing machine and serger and were actually excited about that too. Yes, we packed up a sewing machine AND dirty laundry, traveled 6 hours (which of course turned into 10)  to a condo near the beach, and felt like this was going to be the vacation we’ve been needing. The vacation that we would not have been able to take if it was not so graciously gifted to us (thank you!!). We were thinking that we would finally  have some free time to work on making fun new things to add to our little shop. Image

 Really what it turned into was a lot of choice words over one particular shirt for an order that we just couldn’t get right and attempting to keep our 1 year old away from the “sheeen!!” What does that say when one of your toddler’s favorite words is “sheeen” for sewing machine?

10 years ago I could have never predicted that this would have been my vacation, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Well maybe at an all-inclusive resort with free flowing mojitos and laundry service, yeah I’m dreaming. We had such a great time just picking up and pretty much living everyday life in a new location, just as a family without needing to leave for work. There was still cooking and laundry and diapers and cleaning and working, but even with all of that the time with just the three of us together was perfect.

The three of us: Katie, Nick, and Little Owen. Living on a tight budget, trying to soak up every second of family time possible, and having a great time doing it. We look forward to sharing our cheapskate ways with you!

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