Saturday, May 31, 2008

Double stroller

Does anyone have a double stroller that they love or that they wish they owned?


did you watch the season finale?
what did you think?
what are your theories?
what do you think will happen next?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm Seeing Spots!

Do you have trouble getting spots out of your kids' clothes or am I just really bad at this?  I know she's two and messy and that's okay but EVERYTHING has spots on it and it doesn't matter if I stain stick it or bleach the whites, they don't seem to come out.  And I want to reuse these clothes for her little sister!  Any tips?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday Weekly

Is there a word in your vocabulary that you feel like you use too much?

Biggest Loser Challenge, Week 3

Alright - this week is mental. Sit down and write yourself a pep talk - it can be as long or as short as you want it to be. Write down what motivates you to lose weight/maintain your health. Then read it to yourself once a day, more often if you feel temptation or laziness creeping in.
Next week report on how it made a difference. So... how did everyone do with the 200 minute challenge?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Biggest Loser: May 27th Thoughts

Alright fellow Losers, what's been going through your mind this week? Any recipes to share? Great workouts you've discovered? We'd love to read what you've got to say!

Biggest Loser: May 27th Weigh In

Week 2 is over! How did everyone do? And don't forget, its not too late to join! Just leave a comment with your goal and start losing.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Favourite Party Treats

I'm having some girls over later this week and I'm trying to decide on some yummy treats to serve. What are your favourite party treats to make or to eat?

Saturday, May 24, 2008


My aunt who's a school nurse told me last night that you're supposed to have fresh sunblock every year. I so did not know that and have ancient sunblock that I still use! She said there was a study on its effectiveness and that it needs to be brand new each year. So buy little bottles!!

She also shed light on how spf works. (you may all know this but I didn't) The spf means that it will keep you protected "xx" times more than nothing at all. So if you're wearing spf 15, it will keep you 15 times more protected than nothing. So, since she's fair skinned, she said she would burn after a minute in the sun and so spf 15 would keep her protected for 15 minutes and then need to reapply. I'm more olive skinned and burn less easily so I'm guessing it would keep me protected longer. Kind of interesting...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Challenge Week 2: Is all about time

How did everyone do with last weeks challenge?? I will post a comment with how I did. Hopefully we all are eating more fruits and veggies than we were before. Let's keep going with it!

The challenge for this week is a physical one: get 200 minutes of cardio in before next Thursday. That is roughly five 40 minute workouts. Feel free to modify this (increase or decrease) if you need to.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bomb threats

So one of my beehives was telling me yesterday that there was a bomb threat at her school recently and it was dated to happen today. She also said that the threat included bringing a gun to school if for some reason the bomb failed. She said a bunch of kids weren't going to go school and she didn't know yet if she was going. What if there was a bomb threat at your child's school and you knew about it in advance? Would you send your child to school that day?

Kids and money

What do you do or plan to do to teach your kids about money? Will you/do you give an allowance?

Wednesday Weekly

How long have you been married?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Biggest Loser: May 20th Tips, Tricks & Thoughts

How's everyone doing this week? What's worked well for you? What hasn't worked at all?

Biggest Loser: 1st Weigh In

Alright all you Losers!! (And I do mean that in a kind and loving way!) What's the grand total for this week? How much closer are you to your goal? (Just a reminder- when you leave your comment, let us know how much you lost, the total you've lost and what your goal is... for example "I lost 1.5 lbs!! Yay me! (Lost:5/Goal:30)"

Anyone who didn't join and is now wishing they were in on the Loser fun... feel free to leave a comment with your weight loss goal. We'd love to have you join us!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Preparing #1 for #2

 I'm 27 weeks pregnant as of yesterday.  My little girl is 27 months old.  When I got pregnant, I didn't worry too much about her adjusting to the new sibling.  She's a pretty easy going kid.  Those sentiments are changing.  I'm starting to worry as the day creeps closer. We recently moved and I cut back my working with our move.  These changes-my being around more and her whole world being turned upside down has made for major clinginess!  She only wants me and if we can convince her that Dad is okay to help, I still have to be RIGHT there!  
At the same time, I'm trying to enjoy this stage and give her tons of one-on-one attention right now while I can.  She's funny and busy and sooo talkative and inquisitive and I'm loving this age. We were outside blowing bubbles on Friday and I just marveled at her personality and knowledge and spunk but also felt bad knowing that those easy moments would be harder to come by in the future. 
I know there are lots of us in this phase.  We've had and are having a lot of babies born lately on S&S!  What did you do to prepare your first child, if anything?  What have you learned?  What do you plan to do?  Am I paranoid or will she do just fine?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Money-Saving May: Budget

How do you organize your budget? On the computer? On paper? Using categories?

Financial book recommendations

Two good friends recommended that I read books by Dave Ramsey. Last month I read "Financial Peace, Revisited", and "The Total Money Makeover". Both of them pumped me up and motivated me to get my financial life in gear. There are so many things we hear about to put our money towards that are all good things, but where do you start, especially if you don't have a lot of extra money? These books answered this question for me. Very quick and easy to read. If you only read one, I would say maybe read "The Total Money Makeover", but I feel I benefitted from reading both.

Money-Saving May: Our Life Insurance Lessons

My husband and I decided we needed to look at life insurance once we had a baby.  It took us a year to finally commit but once we did, it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be.  I won't get technical about the different kinds of life insurance-I just want to share some things that we didn't really know going into this process.  Things that we learned along the way.

1. Both of us needed life insurance!  If my husband were to die, I would need to bury him, replace his income, and provide daycare for our children so I could then work.  We also chose to add in the cost of our mortgage so that worry would no longer be a worry.  However, if I were to die, we would need to replace my income (I have worked 1/2 time since our first girl was born and still work some), bury me, and definitely provide daycare so that he could continue to work.  My insurance is much lower than his.  We don't have insurance for our kiddos yet. We may change that in the future but only to cover funeral expenses and then put the rest in education funds.

2. The insurance that our employers' provided was not enough. It did impact our decisions but for example, mine only provided 10K which isn't much more than funeral expenses these days so we had to compensate how much we purchased.  

3. We looked around for an insurance agent before we committed.  A friend referred us to their ward member early on which got our wheels turning but it wasn't a good match. We felt like he was trying to make a sale rather than provide for our future.  My father in law made some changes to his insurance shortly thereafter and referred us to his agent who worked well with us.  He made it very clear to us that our goals were 1) risk management or disability and life insurance 2) providing for the future or retirement funding and 3) wealth building.  We felt like that was his goal as well, rather than getting us to buy more.

4. It wasn't as expensive as we imagined.  One part of the process which we appreciated was a very thorough financial profile.  This was both so we could figure out how much we needed to provide for and so that we could figure out where in our budget this would fall. We bought permanent life insurance (it won't go away after the "term" is up) because it made more sense to us but both our parents recommended different things.  Love it! :) Now it's drawn out monthly and it's like our 401K where since it's built into our plan, we don't even miss it being there.

5. It's a process.  If we magically change financial status and get really rich, we may need more insurance.  We have disability insurance for my husband and that may need to change as his career changes and grows.  We are so not experts and we're definitely still learning how to be smart with money, but we did find an agent and insurance that fit our family for now and it is a comfort now that it's not just us.  

A few more resources:


We usually trade babysitting but we are going to venture out and pay one of the YW (trying to raise money for EFY) to watch Eden for a couple of hours this weekend. What is the going rate these days?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Biggest Loser Challenge - Week 1

Ready for the challenge this week? This is a challenge everyone can do - pregnant or not!!!!

This weeks challenge is to get at least 5 servings of fruits/veggies in per day. If you are already doing this, increase your intake by 1 serving per day.

Here are some helpful reminders about what is a serving size:

  • One medium-size fruit
  • 1/2 cup raw, cooked, frozen or canned fruits (in 100% juice) or vegetables
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) 100% fruit or vegetable juice
  • 1/2 cup cooked, canned or frozen legumes (beans and peas)
  • 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit

Good luck!!!

Wednesday Weekly

What's your favorite song right now?

healthy snacks

Some days I just feel like snacking. I try to resist the urge... but often I am unsuccessful. So in honor of the Biggest Loser health tips, here is my question to you: What snacks have you found that are both healthy and satisfying?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Shepherd's Pie

I grew up on the very simple:
browned hamburger with onions and S&P mixed with tomato sauce and ketchup
layer in 9x13 pan:
beef mixture, canned green beans, mashed potatoes and shredded cheese
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

A few years ago, I found this in Everyday Food and kind of combined it with what I grew up with and loved it!
1-2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 Tblsp. tomato paste
2 Tblsp. flour
1-2 Tblsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water
salt and pepper
10 oz. frozen peas, thawed
mashed potatoes
shredded cheddar cheese

Brown hamburger, adding carrots and onions and cooking until softened.  Add tom paste, flour, worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper and 2 cups water, cooking until thickened.  Stir in peas and pour into a 9x13 pan or two smaller pans.  Top with mashed potatoes (I usually use flakes but you can of course use real) Top with a layer of cheese.  Bake at 425 for 25 minutes. I loved the change with the veggies and the new sauce that had more of a kick!

Shepherd's Pie

Can anyone share a good Shepherd's Pie recipe? I've never made it or eaten it but I'd like to try. If there's been a post of it in the past, please just point that out to me.

Biggest Loser: May 13th Tips, Tricks & Thoughts

Alright... this is the portion where we share tips we've learned, tricks we've discovered and thoughts we've had over the past week (or for the upcoming week!). This would also be an ideal place to share recipes, inspirational quotes, compliments you've received, etc.

I thought I'd start out this week by sharing something I discovered right after I got married when I decided it was time to shed my marriage weight. Growing up I actually struggled to gain weight. In college I never gained the freshman 15. I moved to Utah where I stayed really active, snowboarding, running, waitressing. Plus I was working two jobs and going to school full time... I often didn't have time to eat! (Not healthy, I know!!)

Then I moved to Arizona during the middle of the summer and my lifestyle changed drastically. I was living with my soon to be mother in law, who made me breakfast before I left for work in the morning, packed me a big lunch then cooked me huge dinners. Pair that with the fact that I now had a desk job and throw in the fact that it was too stinking hot to be outside, the pounds started to pack on!!

When I went to lose the weight I had to evaluate WHY I was gaining weight in the first place, especially after so many years of never gaining a pound. I knew I needed to be exercising but I decided to count my calories for a few days to see if that was part of my problem as well. For 3 days I tracked everything I ate and I got some scary results. Over the course of a normal day, with all my snacking and my not very healthy meal selections I was consuming upwards of 3000 calories A DAY!! This knowledge made me absolutely sick.

That was kind of a long winded way to get to my tips for today, but what I wanted to share with you is that being conscious of what we are putting into our bodies can be a huge part of weight maintanence. I was so oblivious to what I was eating and the amounts that I was eating. All it took for me to lose my marriage weight was to be aware of how much I was consuming and throw in some exercise. I know that this isn't the case for everyone, but such small changes made a huge difference for me.

The other tip I have is evaluate yourself... what is it that you are or are not doing that could make a huge difference in your quest for weight loss? Maybe you share one of my bad habits... skipping breakfast! Or maybe you drink pop and juice instead of the right amount of water. Maybe you don't make healthy snack choices. Like the scriptures teach us, the small and simple things can lead to great results. That concept is true in so many aspects of life, and I'm a firm believer that it applies in this aspect also!!

Biggest Loser: May 13th Weigh In

Being that this is the program kick off, I thought I'd just remind everyone to weigh themselves so they know what their starting point is. Also, here is a list of people we have who are participating thus far. Let me know if I've missed your goal. Also, we'd still love to see people sign up, so leave a comment with your weight loss goal!!

* Molly: 15 lbs

* Katie: 7 lbs

* Bamamama: 10 lbs

* Claire: 10 lbs

* Amanda: 20 lbs

* Jen L: 10 lbs

* Stephanie: 5 lbs

* Julianne: 12 lbs

Our Sugar and Spice girls who will be cheering us on, and participating in tips and challenges (but not in the weight loss portion)

* Linz

* Liz&Meg

* Kristi

Monday, May 12, 2008


What strategies do you have for saving a dollar when it comes to entertainment?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Announcing: Sugar & Spice Biggest Loser!!

So Cramster and I have been emailing back and forth about weight loss for the past few weeks and one of our main complaints is how hard it is to stay motivated! We both have a similar problem. At night, when we are getting ready for bed, we have big plans for the upcoming day... healthy breakfast loaded with protein, a brisk 30 minute jog followed by 30 minutes of yoga, a good lunch, maybe an afternoon walk to the park with the little ones, a yummy and nutritious dinner and no large bowl of ice cream before heading to bed! Of course, then morning comes and we feel lucky if we manage to down a can of soda, never mind a well balanced breakfast. And exercise... isn't chasing a one year old around enough of a work out!? By the time dinner rolls around, it takes everything in us to not just drive through McDonalds and thoughts that bowl of ice cream is what's been keeping us going most of the day!

So, we've decided that we need some support, and what better place to get it than with our fabulous Sugar and Spice girlfriends! Which brings us to the kick off of Sugar and Spice Biggest Loser! Here's how it'll work...

* S&S Biggest Loser will be a 12 week program beginning this Tuesday, May 13th.

* Anyone is welcome to participate. You don't have to reveal your exact weight... just share with us how much you are going to try to lose. (For our pregnant and breastfeeding friends out there... feel free to join us in living a healthier lifestyle, rather than losing weight! We would love for everyone to participate!)

* Each Tuesday we will have "weigh ins". You don't actually have to weigh yourself on Tuesday... for example- Cramster's weigh in day is Saturdays, Tuesday will just be the day that we all share our progress.

* Whenever you see a weigh in post, just leave a comment sharing how much closer you've come to your goal. For example "I've lost another pound!! Woohoo! (Lost: 3/Goal: 15)".

* On Tuesdays we will also post a Tips, Tricks & Thoughts post. This is where we will share ideas, recipes, healthy living facts, etc.

* On Thursdays Cramster will post a weekly challenge. Each week she will give us something new to try for the upcoming week, and we can all report on how our challenge from the past week went.

That about sums it up! So for this week, everyone who wants to participate can just leave a comment sharing their goal. And remember, your goal doesn't have to be just weight related. For example, I'd love to lose some pounds, but more importantly to me, I want to tone up the flubber that has made residence around my belly and thighs since having a baby! I'd also love to make steps towards having a healthier lifestyle... So tell us what your goals are. And in 12 weeks, hopefully we'll all be winners!!

Happy Mother's Day!

I got the best card this morning from my hubby! It shows Mom and Dad's feet and a little pair of feet in between them in bed. It says "Lately I feel like something's been coming between us. (then inside) And I'm completely okay with that." This is funny for us because I'm 27 weeks pregnant and so not only do we have a toddler that climbs between us in the morning but my ever-expanding belly and all the pillows required to help me sleep!

One of my favorite things about being a Mom is snuggles!! My little girl was a snuggly baby until she could move around and then she just wanted to move all the time. I missed my snuggly baby! But recently, she's returned and loves to cuddle with me and I love it!

What's one of your favorite parts about being a Mom?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Getting to Know You

I know that we all "introduced" ourselves at one point or another but I thought it would be interesting to get to know a little more about you. So, starting at the beginning, where were you born? I was born in Missoula MT (but grew up in OR and now live in 'bama).


I know I am not the only one who is saddened by the recent disaster in Myanmar... and the government's unwillingness to accept outside help (though I'm glad to hear that planes with food landed yesterday... finally!). The church has a website that you can go to to donate directly to the cause. Click here to find out what the church is doing to help and how to donate.

To my husband and me, this is a huge part of our financial planning. We are still students (and will be for another 4 years) and so though our funds are limited, it is super important to us to donate to humanitarian aid. Our financial guide is Jacob 2:17-19-

17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
(Book of Mormon Jacob 2:17 - 19)

I remember reading an Ensign article a few months back that encouraged us to pay our Fast Offering ... even if we can do no more than contribute the price of a few eggs.

It's amazing to me how the Lord's ways are clearly not the world's ways. The world teaches that if you want to be rich, you have to keep all your money to yourself. The Lord teaches to share that money with others, and then we will be rich. Of course, rich spiritually, but also temporally we will never be without.

Of course, all things in wisdom and order. You obviously can't deny food for your family to give food to someone else on the other side of the world. This isn't necessarily a "money saving" tip, but I view the principle of charitable giving and the doctrine of caring for our brothers and sisters key to our (Michael's and my) financial stability.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why I Care About Saving

This is Brian Baugh again. After my post a few days ago, there have been a lot of comments addressing why I care so much about saving money. People brought up the good point that there is no reason to save money if you never intend to spend it. I thought I'd address a few of these points.

I fully intend to spend my money. If I didn't intend to spend money, I would simply work less so that I could spend more time with the family.

My philosophy is that I deny many small things which I don't care about in order to buy big things which I do care about. The things that I don't care about are eating out, having a big TV, having nice cars, wearing the latest clothes, having 1000 HD channels, etc, etc. Here are a few of the big things that I am planning on using my money for :
  • A house. I realize that I could spend frivilously and eventually get into a house in 20 years, but I'm not that patient; I want to get into a house sooner. Living frugally will enable me to do so.
  • Retirement. I don't want to work at the age of 65-70 like some of my coworkers. I want to retire at a reasonable age. I don't know about you, but I would rather be serving a mission in retirement than working at Walmart at 65 because I didn't save enough. I'd rather be travelling the country to see my grandchildren in my retirement.
  • Safety net. I don't know about you, but I have a HUGE piece of mind when I realize that I could be laid off tomorrow, and still be able to provide for my family for over 2 years without income. This freedom will enable me to take my time to find my next job instead of committing to the first job offer that comes my way.
  • Vacations. I love vacations. Some of my best memories as a kid were of being on vacations with my family.
  • Paying for kids. Kids are going to get a lot more expensive once they get older and start going to college, wrecking cars, and going on missions. Savings will definitely help here.
  • Spend more time with family. If you learn to consume less, you could afford to work less. This will enable you to spend more time with your family, which is what is really important. Could I sacrifice a plasma TV to spend more time with my family...I hope so.

As you can see, I fully intend to use my money for good causes. In my mind, it just clicks for me. I deny myself simple pleasures (which I don't really really really enjoy) like eating out so that I can realize my long-term goals more quickly. I don't deny myself anythign that I need or that I really want. The long-term goals are what is important to me. For some people, they prefer eating out and having nice cars to having a safety net in case of job loss or buying a house. I don't.

When I served my mission in Chile, I met families living in poverty who were happier than any family that I've ever met in the US. Money can't create happiness, but the lack of it can create misery.

I've never met a person who has claimed to have too much in savings. I have met countless people who have spent too much money on frivilous items which have prevented them from reaching their long-term goals.

The last point I want to bring home is that living frugally has not negatively affected my hapiness one bit. In fact, it has done quite the opposite. Knowing that I'm working towards my long-term goals is incredibly liberating to me. Was anyone else frugal in college? Those were some of the best times of my life.

Sorry about the random collection of thoughts, but I had to respond to the comments. I am a firm believer in financial freedom/independence. Living frugally is a very important part of that goal.

- Brian

Some of my finance questions

I am really enjoying this month's topic of money-saving. I have found the posts so far to be really interesting and really helpful. Brian, thank you in particular for going out of your way to provide your expertise! Obviously we all do things differently, and in various extremes. But it's great to take bits and pieces from everyone and maybe find a better way to do things. I have been thinking a lot lately about where to keep the money that we use each month, not counting savings. I thought the money market idea was a good one. We actually already do the credit card thing and pay the balance each month, because I love racking up free airline miles. That's how we went on a vacation last month! However, I have found a danger of it to be that you don't have to worry if there's "enough" in the account when you buy something. Therefore, I'm maybe not as careful at the grocery store or other places, because you just swipe the card without thinking about it. I found Claire's method of taking out cash to be smart, but probably not right for me. I'm just a debit/credit card kind of girl. Anyway, I'm playing around with ideas like treating the credit card like a checkbook and pretending there's a certain amount in it, etc, then just keeping a log of what I spend. I'm not sure. Does anyone do something similar to this?

Another question, we have a savings account that draws decent interest, but not nearly as good as the previous one mentioned. I have to admit, I've just been too lazy to switch everything over. Right now, all of our loans, accounts, etc. are through the same bank and it's so easy to do my online banking. How do you switch to one of these high interest accounts, and how hard is it???

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Personal Fiance 101 - How to Save and Invest

I'm Tiffany Baugh's husband, Brian. I'm an engineer at Boeing, but I am a wannabe financial planner. As I was finishing my senior year of school, I became completely disinterested in engineering, so I turned my attention to investing. We had a chunk of change that was rotting away in a checking account, so I decided to learn how to make the most use of it. Along the way, I think I have learned a thing or two about money. This post is meant to serve as a practical guide to getting richer through living below your means and investing wisely. I hope it helps.

In order to get richer, you have to spend less than you make. This is called saving. It is usually thought of as making more than you spend, but I challenge you to consider it the other way. In the first part of my post, I’ve tried to illustrate some practical ways to spend less than you make. I’ve tried to arrange my thoughts in order of importance.

Once you have savings, you should learn where to put your money. I’ve tried to address that in the second half of my post.

  • Live under your means. If you want to increase your savings significantly, you will have to learn to live well under your means. The following principles have helped me considerably in my life:
    • Understand needs vs wants
      • Whenever I make a purchase, I ask myself if it is a need or a want. If it’s a need, I buy it without remourse. If it’s a want, then I have to do some more thinking. If you want to increase your net worth, this is the single most important principal that I could impart to you. There have been countless times that I have wanted to buy a new toy, but I’ve refrained because I didn’t need the thing. I use this skill daily.
      • A budget can help you distribute your spending to satisfy your needs and wants. I’ve heard that they are very useful for a lot of people, but I don’t use them.
    • Spend less than you make
      • When you get a raise/bonus/tax rebate, pretend like you didn’t. You’ll magically increase your savings. Tiffany and I pretend like we are college students even though we’re making a hundred times what we were in school. It pains me when I hear of people blowing off their tax rebates on plasma TV’s which they really can’t afford. I am not going to alter my spending habits at all when my $1200 gift from the IRS arrives. It will go straight to savings.
      • Watch out for recurring fees. They’ll kill you because you don’t even thin when you pay them. I’m talking about cell phones, tv, internet, car insurance, etc.
        • Tiff and I pay $13/month for Comcast local TV. It was tough saying goodbye to ESPN (more so for Tiff than for me), but we hardly miss it at all.
        • Tiff and I pay $100/year for BOTH of our cellphones. We have T-mobile prepaid phones which we use sparingly. We use less than 1000 minutes a year total. Tiff and I are able to get a hold of each other 99% of the time when we’re apart through normal phones at home/work. I don’t miss having my normal 1000 minute/month plan one bit.
        • Tiff and I pay $13/month for voice over IP (VOIP) phone service, with unlimited long distance. Since we can’t live without broadband, I figured that we ought to get the most use out of it. VOIP quality is fine. It’s better than cell phones but worse than land lines. We use viatalk ( and like them fine. I believe they have a promotion right now for 2 years of service for $200. That’s better than the promotion that I locked in to.
        • We take advantage of internet promotions, which give away internet for free for the first 6 months. Once the rates go up, you can switch services to qualify for the new internet promo. We switch between Comcast cable internet and Earthlink broadband every 6 months or so. The great thing about this strategy is that Earthlink uses Comcast cable, so you don’t need some installation guy coming to your house every time you want to switch. It’s as easy as a phone call. We save TONS of money each year by doing this. If you are too lazy to do what I just mentioned, simply call up your current provider and ask them to match a competitor’s promotion. 99% of the time they will give you a cheaper rate so that they don’t lose your business. Info here:
        • Car insurance. Tiffany and I have gotten some pretty sweet discounts at Geico by following the counsel provided here: We save about 15% a year on car insurance by simply by opening up a checking account at PENFED.
      • Develop cheap hobbies. Some of our favorite cheap hobbies are playing board games, hiking, biking, going on walks, and reading.
        • I could go on forever about board games. I’m not talking monopoly or sorry. I’m talking about german strategy boardgames like Settlers of Catan, Alhambra, Ticket to Ride, etc.
      • Eat out less frequently. It pains me to the core every time I go out because I realize how much cheaper I could eat at home. It’s so bad that when it’s my birthday, I request to eat at home instead of going out. If you do go out to eat, don’t order drinks, sides, or deserets.
    • Never, ever, ever pay bad interest. I would categorize education loans and mortgages as good interest. Anything else would fall under the bad interest category, including cars.

At this point in the post, you’re probably asking yourself if I could be any more stingy. Let me try to explain why in the heck I care about minimizing expenses. I like to save money because I understand the significance of saving a dollar. In order to spend a dollar, I have to make over a dollar because of taxes and tithing. If I assume a 25% tax rate, I would have to make $1.33 to spend a dollar ($1/0.75). If I pay tithing, I would have to make $1.54 to spend a dollar ($1/0.65). When you save $1, it’s the equivalent to earning $1.54. This is an incredibally empowering topic which a lot of people don’t understand. For us members of the church, I believe it to be especially important, since we pay tithing and usually live off of one income.

One of my coworkers is a single guy with a lot less financial obligations than me. He doesn’t pay tithing or support a family. He shares rent costs with a roommate. I would think that our salaries are almost identical, but he cannot manage to stay out of credit card debt. We, on the other hand, manage to save about 30% of our income. It just goes to show you that it’s not how much you make; it’s how much you spend.

Now that we’ve learned how to maximize savings, we should have some extra change laying around. In this next section I’ll try to explain what to do with it.

Invest your money wisely

    • Own a home if you can. Unfortunately, after being out of school for 1.5 years and living in an overheated Seattle real estate market, we have been unable to cough up the 20% required for a house. Fortunately, through living the principals mentioned in the first section, we’re getting close. There are countless benefits to owning a home. I’m looking forward to building equity in a house, never having shared walls again, and having a juicy tax write-off some day.
    • If your employer matches any retirement contributions, you must take advantage of that. When you fail to take advantage of your employer’s matching, you are literally throwing money away. This is a tough principal for a lot of us young folks to grasp. When I was an intern at my company, I didn’t take advantage of the company matching because I was a dumb kid. I didn’t understand what a 401(k) was or why I should take advantage of employer matching. I’ve wised up over the past several years, and I’m kicking myself for my wasted opportunity.
      • Invest in low-cost mutual funds. Just like the principles described in the first section, cutting costs is one of the best ways of guaranteeing superior performance on stocks. I invest exclusively in index funds, which are like mutual funds in that they hold a variety of stocks, but they are passively managed. What this means is that a person isn’t actively trying to guess what the best stocks are going to be. Rather, the index simply tries to follow a pre-determined mix of companies. The S&P 500 and DOW are the most common US indices out there. There are countless PhDs out there who swear by passive investing. I’m not as smart as them, but I’m smart enough to read their books and believe them.
    • If you have money left over, put it in a Roth IRA. Each year, you are allowed to put $5000 per person in this tax-sheltered account. The Roth differs from the traditional IRA or 401(k) in that you pay the taxes now, but you never pay taxes again. That means that when I withdraw from my Roth IRA in 40 years, I won’t pay a penny of taxes to the government. One of the greatest advantages of the Roth IRA is that you can touch the principal (money that you have contributed) without penalty at any time. When you do this, you don’t have to pay taxes, since the money has already been taxed. Traditional IRAs or 401(k)s impose a 10% penalty upon withdrawal of funds in the event that you withdraw before retirement.
      • Open up a Roth IRA at Vanguard. It is hands down the best brokerage out there. Vanguard has the lowest fees out there, and they have a wide variety of index funds to chose from.
    • Invest in yourself. The leaders of the church have told us on many occasions to “get all of the education that you can.” It’s a powerful statement that has inspired me to go back to school for a graduate degree. Investing in your education is simply the best investment that you can make. As the world becomes flatter and flatter, it is getting more and more competitive. Having an education will be paramount in remaining marketable through these times. Thirty years ago, all it took was a high school diploma to be marketable.
    • Open up a money market savings account. These vary from traditional savings accounts in that their interest rates don't suck. Current money market rates are around 3%, though they were as high as 5.5% before the federal reserve started slashing interest rates over the past 6 months. WAMU has one of the best rates in the country right now, at 3.25%. Sign up here:
      • At any point in time, Tiffany and I only have $50 which is rotting away in a checking account. Everything else is invested or making interest.
      • Since money market accounts have a limit of 6 withdrawals a month, we simply buy everything ever on a rewards credit card and pay it off in full every month. This way, we have far less than the 6 transactions a month. If we owe a friend $5 bucks or something, it comes from our checking account.

Sorry about the length of this post. This is a subject that I’m incredibly passionate about. I hope that it has done somebody some good. I’d better get to bed before I get myself into more trouble with the wife.

Recommended Reading:

The Richest Man in Babylon. This is the best book which I’ve ever seen on the topic of personal finance.

A Random Walk down Wall Street. This is hands down the best book which I’ve read on investing. It’s pretty technical, so you may want to read my next recommendation.

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing. This book is a quick read and gives a convincing argument for index funds.

- Brian

Wednesday Weekly

What is one lesson you've learned from your Mother?


Augh!! Have you seen this yet?


I am wondering where everyone gets their coupons. I get the occasional one with a store receipt, a magazine, or in the mail, but that is it. Is it worth it to subscribe to the Sunday newspaper for coupons?

Yard Sale Junkie

If we are talking about saving money, my best money saver is shopping at yard sales! I love them and can usually find some great buys! Atleast half of my kids' wardrobes are from yard sales and I am proud of that! I don't buy dirty or stained clothes, I definitely look very closely at each item before I purchase it. I love buying my kids Children's Place or Gapkids clothes for 50 cents a piece! Also childrens books and toys are also great to look for at yard sales. Then your kids get a variety of toys and books without spending a fortune. (I always Lysol my buys real well before giving them to the kids, though!) Last year my husband and I got my son a Schwinn bike that came with training wheels and a helmet, in mint condition, for $20! You can't get that kind of a deal in a store buying brand new! Anyone else addicted to yard sales?? If you aren't a yard saler, I encourage you to try some, you might find some great buys!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Two tips I remember reading recently about saving on gas

I read fairly recently about conserving gas in your car. Here are the two main things I remember:

1. Some gas can burn off if cars are left out in the sun. Try to park in a covered area or garage when possible.

2. More weight in your car requires more gas to make the car move, like a stroller in the trunk.

Anyone else have ideas to share?

Kicking things off

Here's a money question to start off our month:

How do you save money on groceries?

I, like Steph, was really impressed with the amount people spent on groceries several weeks ago. I spend more than most it seems. What strategies do you utilize to keep your spending low?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Toddler Beds

We are getting ready to buy a toddler bed for my son. I just have a couple of questions. I know it is kind of silly it's not like beds have as many features as car seats or strollers but what features do you look for in a bed? What toddler beds do others have that they like? Where did you get your toddlers bed? What would you say is a good price? Also for those who have two kids when did you start training the first child to sleep in a bed? I still have until October but I am just trying to prepare ahead of time.

Time for Money-Saving May!

What topics are you interested in covering over the month of May?

In what areas of your spending life do you wish you were better at spending less?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hate it...

I hate to take out the garbage. When I was single (for many more years than I ever planned) I said there were three things I needed a man to do:
1 - Take care of my car.
2 - Handle the finances.
3- Take out the garbage.

Well, I learned to take care of my own car (including putting in a new catalytic converter) and got really pretty good at managing my finances (including long-term retirement etc.) but I never got to the point where I could take out the garbage unless I absolutely had to (thank goodness for good roommates who did it). Now Phil does the garbages (and actually, the car care and finances too).

What chore do you just refuse to do and who ends up doing it instead of you?

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I have heard many of you ladies mention Costco, and now that I finally live close to one I am debating whether or not to purchase a membership. Do many of you shop there? Do you do all of your shopping there or just your bulk items? What kinds of items have you found to be a better deal there? Do you feel like you save enough money there to make a membership worth it?

Pope Joan Discussion

Alright, hopefully all of you ladies had a chance to finish this book. It's become one of my favorites and I was happy to have a reason to read it again! I can't wait to hear what you all thought of it.
I'll put some of the discussion questions from the back of the book in a comment. If you'd like to talk about any of them, great, and if not I'd love to hear any other thoughts you had while reading it!