it’s all about the benjamins baby

Money, money, money: a topic that comes between every beautiful union and for most, turns ugly. Unfortunately, we need money to buy the things we need, and it is rare that any two people have the exact same view on spending. Key word is need; I get want and need a little mixed up sometimes.

I am a spender. I am more of a “live for today” person. That might have something to do with the fact that I’ve only had a few jobs where I brought in good money. There is a reason why they call it “freelance journalist.”

Those times that I made good money, I had a different take on spending it. I suppose when it is my dads or husbands earned money, I may not take it into consideration how hard they worked for it.

So ya, I was a little spoiled. Marriage quickly brought me a platter of reality that I’m still chewing on.

My husband, the saver and budgeter, knew we needed to sit down and come up with a strict financial plan since I would be staying home. I’m pretty sure my dad coded him into what kind of spender I was before we got married and somehow he still wanted me. My dad was one happy man: Great son-in-law and a good chunk of his paycheck back.

In the very beginning, my husband and I made an Excel sheet with every category and budgeted monthly amount for that category (See Below). Chris said, “You’re going to need to become a receipt Nazi.” Something I’ve never done: saved receipts.

We are two years into our marriage and I am still working on it.

I know that I can’t take anything with me and that this is God’s money that deserves to be back with Him. It isn’t so much that I have the desire to be wealthy or have the want for expensive, material things, but when I have a grocery list, I don’t have the guts to put back half of the items when I’ve gone over budget. It is hard for me to say “no” when we are invited on trips or out to dinner. I see an outfit for $5.99 and think “Great deal!” and I get it when I don’t need it.

I pray for discipline and contentment. Two things I am seeing clear that I need more of in all aspects of my life from my health to our finances.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”   (Philp. 4: 11-13) 


“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”   (Heb. 12:11)

Moreover, the Arnold budget plan has saved us from many, many arguments regarding money. I live and breath our budget plan and don’t see how I could manage any other way. I am so obsessed that when we go on vacation, I bring my laptop so that I can constantly be plugging in receipts. A pile of receipts and a negative balance is never fun after a vacation.

We still discuss our finances, but it is rarely an issue to one of us disagreeing on another persons purchase as long as it was in the budget.

For example, if I want to go buy a new purse or get my nails done, I have a budgeted amount in “Britt’s Misc.” This is fun money. I can’t nag my husband about spending his money on bike things or beer making equipment and he can’t complain about how much my hair cost.

We have a date fund. To us, a very important part to keeping our relationship strong. Therefore, we budget for it bi-weekly to have a few date nights a month.

Below is an example of what we do. Every marriage has their own formula, but I strongly agree that every marriage needs to lay down a formula to prevent very destructive arguments.

If you argue a lot about money, I challenge you to sit down with your spouse and create a formula like this. Try it out. It is tough to learn budgeting, but very rewarding.

The Arnold Way

1. Write down your bi-weekly/weekly/monthly income

2. Write down your tithe & how much you want to go into savings

3. After that, write down your standard bills and how much you pay (i.e. Utilities, Car Insurance, Gas, Health, Mortgage/Rent). If you pay every 6-months for car insurance, divide the total number due by 6 months to see how much you need to be saving per month. That way, you are ready to pay when that bill comes.

4. Now, write down categories for the other fundamental items such as Groceries, Clothes, and whatever else you and your family deem important.

5. I would argue that personal categories are very good and would be considered “fundamental.”

6. Write down your additional columns such as Date Night, Travel, Gifts, etc…

7. After subtracting your MUST PAY categories from your total bi-weekly &  monthly amount, start plugging in numbers to the other categories until you both agree on doable amounts.

Our categories are:

Tithe, Mortgage, Car Insurance, Health, Food, Utilities, Gas, Car, Baby, Travel, Presents, Chris, Brittany, Extra/Misc., Phone, Date, Clothes, House

Here is an example of what it looks like on an Excel spreadsheet. Plug in your bi-weekly/weekly &  monthly amount, use the data formula to subtract and add where it will auto sum your category total. Then highlight all the category totals to do an auto sum of the account total and wah-lah!

Happy budgeting to you!

Mortgage    bi weekly   monthly
Car Ins.        (x)  (x)
Health  (x)      (x)
Food Misc.   (x)    (x)
Utilities (x)    (x)
total total total total total



the man store

I never knew there was such a thing as a man store until I started dating Chris. The only mail he received besides bills were Cabela’s catalogs.
Springfield, a city about an hour north from us, just opened a Cabela’s. The excitement was fierce here in Oregon about Cabela’s. Men who may not even hunt or fish were still thrilled about the Cabela’s simply because it defines “man.”
And this was all proven when my husband and I finally made the trip up north yesterday. I got to go to my stores and he got to go to Cabela’s – and it seems that is how any wife got her husband out to shop that day.
We walked inside and it was intoxicating how much this store defined my husband. The air was filled with testosterone. Stuffed deer and elk, moose heads, fishing poles, guns, bows and rows and rows of everything camo and plaid.
The store was packed and after awhile, I started seeing that most of the people were in the same boat as me. The women were toting around their Target and Macy’s bags, carrying their kids, sticking their hips out with that look in their eye that says, “Please, get me out of here,” or “No, we do not need another gun.”
In my case, I was brought into the Gun Library to be reminded that only about a week before my husband met me, he was ready to buy the next gun for his collection. He showed me the price tag: $1,300. “It’s so beautiful,” he whined. “Umm, I’m pretty sure I’m more beautiful, and I give you sex.”
Then again I was noticing all the families in a different light. These poor men were picking up these fishing poles and guns and remembering the “good ol’ days” when they could a) afford it and b) have time to do it. Their kids are screaming and wives are going, “Come on! We have soccer practice!”
“Ahh, remember when you used to go fishing?” I said to my husband. “Ya, it was nice,” he chuckled back.
For many men, the store is a dream world; a past lifetime.

“Maybe when you retire babe,” I laughed. 

how to hard boil an egg

The mystery of life, isn’t it not? It has become such a trivial annoyance and laughing matter in my house hold. I’ll wait everyday to see how my husband’s egg in his lunch turned out. He’ll come home and right away say, “Egg peeled great today!” or “Bad egg. Tossed it.” 
Yesterday on the phone with my mother she interrupted our conversation to say, “I gotta get back to these dang eggs. They better peel this time!” 
I started laughing. A woman who has been hard boiling eggs her whole life still doesn’t know the formula to an easy peel. “It really is the mystery of life,” she said. 
And it is the advice that is really flustering. My mom always told me to use fresh eggs – I don’t know why she claimed that was her secret when she is clearly still having problems. A close friend and farmer said the complete opposite, not to use fresh eggs.
My husband’s grandmother always used vinegar in the boiling water while my grandfather swears upon a robust boil, exactly 25 minutes on low and right away putting it in cold water. 
Let me just say that I’ve tried all those methods and I always get half that make eating a hard boiled egg enjoyable and half that make you just scream and throw your egg in anger.
Everyone seems to have advice, but it seems like those same people still struggle with a perfect batch of hard boiled eggs. 
So, what is the real secret!? 
I even Googled and on this how-to site everyone in the comments/discussion section is arguing about the methods listed in the article. “I tried this and it was impossible to peel!” “I did it and it was great.” Etc… 
Guess it will just remain a mystery for now.

5 summer getaways every kid should experience

Growing up, my mom had booked our summer up by January. My first married summer I followed the same example. My husband and I were traveling so much our new neighbors thought we had a second home. We did, our car.

I’m thankful as a child and into my young adult life that my parents did not fall short on family vacations. My dad instilled in all of us that creating memories was one of the best ways to spend money.

Audrey was born at the beginning of last summer and that didn’t stop us either. We were packed with beach trips, city trips, camping trips and concerts. We even ended last year with a road trip to Disneyland; a 6-month-old wouldn’t hold us back.

Even though we don’t have the budget for elaborate trips every year, some of my favorite getaways were right in the backyard.

I am anticipating this summer and the summers ahead while I get to experience the adventures I had as a child, but now in the role of the parent.

Here are 5 of my personal summer getaways that every kid should experience

. . .

1. Camping. Yes, I mean with a tent and in the dirt. If you consider a 4-star luxury cabin in the woods “camping,” you’re way off. As a child, I met many playmates, climbed trees, collected rocks and found peace while just sitting in a chair. Can kids even do that now? No video games, no television and no “I’m bored.” Learning how to stimulate your children in nature may be challenging, but it will be worth it. Pack the bikes, bubbles, Jiffy Pop, butterfly catchers and fishing poles. Time for some real fun! 

2. Disneyland or Walt Disney World.  I’m not going to lie: the children may be an excuse for us adults to go. If you haven’t been as an adult, you don’t know what you’re missing! While your patience will be tested with children, there is nothing like bonding and enjoying the same activity. Tip: Staying in a in-park hotel commonly offers child-care which is wonderful when you want to slip out for some adult fun, or just bring grandma. Another tip: You will always need to stay longer than you think. Children not only want to go on all the rides, they get tired, want to go in the pool and want to stand in those 2-hour Meet the Character lines. 

3. Road trip. As much as getting the whole family in the car for hours and hours doesn’t seem appealing, it really is as long as their are rules and everyone gets to be a part of it. Our family would pick the destination and then all of us would get to select things we wanted to do such as a certain restaurant, attraction or hotel. Make sure everyone knows car games! Tip: Portable DVD players, separate music players (since everyone will fight over what is playing in the car), magazines, books and snacks are needed. This is another trip that requires patience and a spontaneous attitude; you may not be able to pull a 10-hour car trip, so make a game out of finding the next place to stop. 

4. An all-inclusive resort. This may be more of a getaway every adult should experience, but if you are looking to get farther away this summer and go bigger, an all-inclusive resort is definitely a trip that is over-the-top-fun for children and adults. All-inclusive resorts feature a variety of kid activities that will have your children gone all day meeting peers from around the world and having the time of their life. Don’t worry, you won’t miss them too much as you sip unlimited drinks and eat all you want while laying on the beach or by the pool. They don’t lie when they say, “Family Friendly.” However, with all the activities they provide, you’ll get to experience fun things with your kids too. Added bonus: You pay everything up front. Therefore, you are not shelling out tons of money every time your kid says, “I’m hungry.” This time you can say back to them, “Go to the restaurant and get whatever you want.” They will get a kick out of it! 

5. The Backyard. For some reason, setting up the tent in the backyard and having friends spend the night was the best “getaway” as a child. You get to feel like a grown up, tell spooky stories, play games and don’t have to listen to your dad snore. Build a fort, tree-house or set up a tent, get a fire going for S’mores and pull out some kid-friendly ghost stories. It introduces the outdoors to your child and makes an awesome adventure only feet away.

. . .

Above all, make sure to enjoy your children and family this summer. Whether you have a large summer traveling budget or not, remember it is the intimate family bonding time that I treasured the most. My challenge to you: unplug the television. That will be a “getaway” on its own.