Why I’m saving money to buy my dog a house

I read an article recently that said millennials are saving their money to buy homes, not because they want to have kids but because they want to have dogs (or already have dogs)! And wham! It hit me upside the head. That is exactly why I want to buy a home. Do I necessarily need a bigger home than the one I currently live in with an awesome-sauce roommate? No. I want a yard. I want to be able to let Holden and Jethro run and romp and not have to worry about them getting out. I want them to have a way to get outside when I’m not feeling up to walking them. They are my kids. (And please, don’t jump all over me and say “how dare you compare your dogs to my kids! I ain’t hearing it!)

My dogs are my family. I will move heaven and earth to ensure they have what they need to succeed. Jethro has made such strides in my care and I hope to always be able to give him whatever he needs. I want him to thrive.

So why exactly do I think my dog deserves to live in a house that we own? Let me explain….

1) Most rentals are decidedly NOT dog friendly. Let along Doberman or Pit Bull friendly. And that’s what my squishy loves are. They are my heart and soul and it just kills me that not everyone sees them as such. So many people put restrictions on rental properties, excluding those with pets. I have more than one pet, two over the usual 25 lb limit, and two that are definitely on the breed restrictions list. So that pretty much rules out all rental properties. (I currently live with my AMAZING friend who owns her home and happens to love my dogs. Her dog and mine get along fabulously and it’s a total win situation. I know that down the line I will however want to own my OWN home.)

2) Location. I want to be able to walk my dogs without fear of anything happening to them. I want to love the neighborhood and not worry about being safe in my own home (though I suppose a Doberman and Pit Bull definitely help with that one.) I want them to be comfortable and not worry about anything happening to them and needing to move.

3) I want my home to work for them, not against them. Someday my spindly legged Dobe will not enjoy the stairs or jumping on high furniture. I want to be able to have him on one main floor, and have furniture that he can easily access. Jethro also has a hard time jumping up on ANYTHING and definitely has a hard time with stairs. The flatter my house, the better!

4) Most importantly, I want my boys to be safe. I want them to have a safe and secure home of their own, so they will always be comfortable. They have all come from such different backgrounds and I promised them I would always take care of them. So that’s exactly what I intend to do.

That weird in-between stage

Right now is that weird in-between stage. Certainly it’s fall. The leaves are turning. The air has a crispness to it that summer lacks. And it gets cold overnight. Not necessarily freezing, but definitely down in the 40s.

It would be so easy for me to turn on the heat and call it a day. But I don’t. I absolutely love this time of year, and I love keeping my window open to smell the fresh air and let in the breeze. This tends to make the house a little cooler than perhaps I would prefer, especially in the middle of the night. In order to enjoy the weather without turning on your heater (and thus costing your hard earned money) here are some steps I take to keep warm during this glorious in-between stage!

1) Cozy socks! I don’t know about you, but one of life’s greatest pleasures is a pair of super soft, big slouchy socks. I have a few pairs from an ill fated trip to Massachusetts last year (at least it ended with warm socks!) that I just can’t imagine life without now! If you are hanging out at home, put on those fuzzy socks, hang out in sweat pants and put on a big fuzzy sweater. Something about being so cozy is just such a treat! And the softer the better while we’re at it.

2) Warm beverages. I literally have a cup of tea/coffee/cider/cocoa in hand at all times during fall. If i’m not home I have it in a travel mug. Warming myself from the inside out is just a small way to put a smile on my face.

3) Pets! Do you have pets? I have a few. (Ok we have four total. 3 big dogs and one scrawny cat.) And let me tell you, snuggling with pets is a great way to stay warm. Perhaps not so much if you have fish or a reptile (though I’m sure your lizard would appreciate your body warmth) but dogs and cats, or really anything fuzzy, are excellent sources of warmth in cooler months. My boys love to hang out on the couch on or under blankets with me. They keep me warm and I don’t feel so desperate to turn on the heat!

4) Blankets. All the blankets. I put extra blankets on the beds, couch, kitchen chairs, even the bar stools! I move from place to place and pick up blankets all over the house! It may sound silly but I love it. Granted, I work from home so this is easily applicable to me, but even when I worked in a traditional office setting I had a blanket at my desk.

5) Fire! Ok, to clarify, I’m not advocating that you set your living room on fire. But do you have a fireplace? Or a wood burning stove? These can be excellent sources of warmth, as well as general coziness, during cooler months. Consider sitting closet to the source of warmth while reading, writing, or even checking emails on a tablet.

There are so many ways to keep warm without turning on your heater and throwing money out the window. I love love love crisp fall days and i definitely like to keep my window open to let the fresh air in. But I’m always cold, so I have always been creative in my efforts to keep myself warm. If you have to turn on a heater, may I suggest a space heater? That way you are only heating your bedroom or kitchen instead of the whole house? You can only be in one place at a time after all! Other ideas include take a hot shower, go for a run or do something physically active, cook, leave the oven open after baking, wearing a few extra layers, or moving to Hawaii 😉

How do you keep warm during these goofy in-between months?

Frugal (but yummy) snacks for the single woman

Ok, so this could be applied to anyone, really. However, as a single woman, I’m relating it to some of my favorite snack food options.

First of all, I am a professional snacker. Like, really. I rarely sit down for a big meal, and prefer to snack throughout the day, constantly. Somehow it feels healthier because I’m never really full (a feeling I dread to be honest). I am that weirdo who has a purse full of snacks at all times. So what are some of my favorite frugal snacks you may ask?

1. Popcorn. Not the from the bag, completely drenched in butter and salt variety (though that’s freakin’ delicious). But you can buy popcorn for pennies in the bulk section of most grocery stores and it is super easy to make on the stove top. 1/3 cup of uncooked kernels turns into what seems like an enormous amount of snacking deliciousness. Pennies? I think we can all afford a few pennies.

2. Cherry tomatoes. Every year my mom plants 4 tomato plans on the side of the house. Each one costs roughly $2 when it’s all said and done. Those 4 tomato plants go to town late summer and produce BUCKETS of tomatoes. We usually plan 1 heirloom plan, 1 roma plant and 2 or 3 cherry tomato plants. Now, this is only a frugal snack if you have tomato plants. Buying those tiny boxes at the store (which each probably cost over $3 is not cheap my friends!) However, eating them fresh off the vine is AMAZING! Ask my tiny nephew (he’s 2 years old). He LOVES them! He takes his little bucket and helps Auntie MoMo go pick tomatoes each afternoon. He of course pops them right in his mouth (I prefer to rinse the dirt off mine before digging in). They are healthy and delicious and super cheap! $2 for 2 months of daily afternoon tomato snacking? That’s pretty darn delicious to me!

3. Roasted chickpeas. Now, you need to roast them yourself. Buying the prepackaged ones at the grocery store will set you back at least $4 per package, which is less than a cup. Nope. Buy dried beans, soak them, rinse and boil them, drain them, toss with some olive oil and a little garlic salt, roast in the oven for a few minutes and enjoy! They are crunchy and salty and so yummy! You could even eat them plain if you wanted to (but seriously, garlic salt for the win!)

4. If you’re anything like me, sometimes your sweet tooth kicks in. Instead of going out and buying a box of cookies or a slice of cake from the local bakery, make it yourself! Don’t even use the boxed cake mix! That shit aint cheap either! There are literally thousands of recipes online for cakes, cookies, and brownies from scratch. Many even call for veggies like zucchini or carrots if you have extras on hand, or applesauce instead of eggs. Trust me, you can do it. Baking is all about following directions!

5. Tortilla chips. Again, make them yourself. You can buy like, 80 small corn tortillas at my local Mexican grocery for like under 2 bucks. Each tortilla can be cut into 6 pieces, then pop in a screaming hot oven for a few minutes. Bam. Tortilla chips better than any in a restaurant. You can eat them plain or add a little salt and dip them in whatever you have on hand (those chickpeas? make some hummus! extra tomatoes? salsa!) I’m telling you, super duper easy.

So what do all these suggestions have in common? Doing it yourself. I like to eat good food, trust me. I don’t like prepackaged things as I care what goes in my body. That being said, these aren’t necessarily health food suggestions. They may be healthy, but they are also easy on the wallet. I am a single woman who works hard for her money and doesn’t want to spend all of it on food! I like pinching my pennies and saving a few dollars here and there. And for as much snacking as I do, these tips certainly save me money over time!

What are some of your favorite on-the-cheap snacks?

How I’m getting my budget back on track after a speedy summer

First off, I had a fantastic summer. I entered a new decade of life (woo hoo 30!) I spent time with those I love, my roommate and I moved into a new townhouse, I explored my city, I had friends in town that I haven’t seen in years, it was really an epic summer. 

That being said, I pretty much threw my budget out the window the day the sun showed up (somewhere around July 4th, the official start of summer here in the Pacific Northwest.)

I didn’t do it on purpose! But I also didn’t realize what I was doing.

……….Ok fine, I wasn’t paying attention!

It rains a lot here in Portland. Like, all the damn time. Literally 9 months of the year. So when it starts to warm up, and we see the sun for the first time in months, we Portlanders immediately bust out our shorts and flip flops and bask in it! Even though in all likelihood it’s probably only 50 degrees that day. But I digress….back to the less than stellar budget keeping skills that ensued.

Summer to me means warm evening drinks on the patio, days at the river, nights with all the windows open, early morning dogs walks, music festivals, and general excess. When we finally all emerge from self induced hibernation we are all desperate for human interaction. Here are some of the things I did this summer that definitely didn’t take my budget into account:

-I saw a lot of live music (some of this is free, most of it is not)
-I wandered around new-to-me neighborhoods as I love wandering, and stopped in any and all new coffee shops to try all the delicious cold brew coffee offerings
-I spent many hours strolling the isles of my local book stores to escape the mid afternoon heat
-3 of my close friends had birthdays so obviously celebrating was in order
-backyard barbecues and potlucks, every weekend
-air conditioning. ’nuff said

Summer for me is about spending time with my friends and I tend to ignore the costs associated. This brings me to tacos. My groups of friends and I are full blown obsessed with tacos. We were on a quest this summer to find the best tacos Portland had to offer. Instead of trying to perfect a recipe at home we traipsed all across the city trying all the awesome taco restaurants we could find. Did we find the best tacos in the city? Maybe. But at what cost?

How concert tickets could have easily wrecked my budget (but totally didn’t!)

Here’s the thing, I really want to be one of those people that always values experiences over things. And I really try. For friends’ birthdays I would rather go to a show or try an escape room than get them something they will quickly discard. The same for me personally, I’d rather someone take me to try a new restaurant or just DO SOMETHING instead of getting me something that I will then get rid of immediately. (The one exception may be my mom who has amazing taste and knows exactly which shoes I love, however has no idea what kind of show I might want to attend.)

But here’s the thing, experiences can just as easily ruin your budget as tangible things. For me, this means concerts.

I love live music, always have. I love it all, from an unknown jazz band in a dive bar to top 100 artists selling out stadiums. I love every second of it. And I have a really difficult time saying no to going to said shows. I will justify it like “I can’t buy that $35 sweater because I need to buy such and such tickets next month”. This is not an inexpensive habit people. And I truly struggle to pass on such opportunities. “when will they ever play in Portland again?” “I have loved them since I was a kid!” “Oh it’s my current favorite band!” I can come up with any and all excuses. And let me tell you, that shit adds up!

Let me give an example. The local radio station in Portland does a holiday series of concerts that benefit local charities each December. I usually go to one of them, and they always have an assortment of artists to choose from. They perform at a really cool local venue, and it’s always a good time. This year, I literally like the entire line up. All TEN shows. The ticket prices range from $17 each to over $200 for VIP tickets for one show (The Killers!) So, obviously, I can’t buy all the tickets. But I did have to make a quick decision as to which shows were most important to me so I could get the tickets I really wanted. Can I do this all year long? No. Do I put aside a chunk of change year round in order to buy these tickets teach December? You betcha!

So who DID I get tickets to go see this year? I bought tickets to three shows (hold on before you get up on your high horse and judge me!) I got Killers tickets (a bucket list band of mine that I have never seen before. They rarely tour and who knows when I’ll get this chance again.) Weezer (one of my all time favorite bands. I have seen them twice at HUGE arenas but this is a really small venue so I was happy to shell out for these pricey tickets to see them again.) and Alice Merton with SYML (these were only $17 each, and my roommate and I are currently OBSESSED with SYML so this seemed totally worth it to me. Alice Merton is on the up and up and I suspect she is going to be selling out major venues before too long. It’ll be a fun night and I am not worried that this is going to break the bank.)

So what’s the damage Heather? I don’t have the numbers on me but close to $300 total for 3 sets of tickets. I will likely take my roommate to two of the shows as her holiday gift but hopefully someone will go with me to Weezer and reimburse me for the ticket. If not I’m not fretting as I have budgeted for such expenses. I put a few dollars away here and there all year so that I can attend these shows each winter. Everyone has their priorities and mine happens to be concerts! If you don’t plan accordingly however, it can totally wreck your budget. Did I just have $300 lying around that I didn’t know what to do with? Hell no! I planned for this year round. But it could easily have ruined my budget (or required rent money) if I didn’t think about this in advance.

My point is, experiences can just as easily ruin your budget as things can. You need to decide what is worth it to spend your hard earned money on, and what isn’t. Bands that I don’t really care about just to hang out with a boy? Probably not. It’s just not worth it. But planning ahead to have a memorable experience with those that I love that WILL last a lifetime? That’s totally worth it to me!

What experiences are you willing to spend money on and what do you pass on?

The things I spent money on in September that were and weren’t worth it

This is a picture of my beautiful best friend Lizzi. She is the most amazing mom, friend, sister and daughter. She is fighting the battle of her life and I couldn’t be more proud of her. She is beautiful, kind, funny, compassionate, patient, loving, silly, resilient. I love her more than words can possibly describe.

I don’t tell you these things to make you feel bad for her, I tell you this because I want everyone to realize that life is so short. One day everything is fine, and the next the rug is pulled out from under you. Hug your family, tell your friends you love them, snuggle your pets a little longer. Take nothing for granted.

This leads me to the things I spent money on last month that were worth it and a few that weren’t.

The things that weren’t worth it:

-Unhealthy snacks from Grocery Outlet $17 (You know how you are not supposed to go shopping hungry? Ya, I was hungry. I ended up with a bunch of stuff that was full of sugar and just generally yucky. Most of it went in the trash within a week so that was a total waste!)

-Decorations for Halloween/Dia De Los Muertos $23 (I feel really guilty about this one. As you may or may not know, this is my favorite time of year. I keep skeletal decorations out year round. So this is when I typically scour the stores for new pieces to add. Did I need that garland? No. Did I need those little sculptures? No. Le sigh. I really wish I had taken the time to think out each purchase ensuring that I picked things I really love.

The things that were worth it:

-Decorations for Halloween/Dia De Los Muertos $16 (Confused yet? Ok, so though some of the things I purchased were less than stellar, I got a couple things that I really love. I got a small wooden coffin with a skull carved in it, LOVE IT! I also got some paper decorations to hang in our kitchen, and a hand carved and painted box for little treats. I love them. So these decorations I definitely don’t regret!)

-Indian lunch from a cart $6 (My good friend from high school and college was in town and she had never been to Portland before. I decided one of the best ways to show off our city was to get lunch at a food cart. The Bombay Chaat House is one of my absolute favorites, and they have a $6 lunch special that totally fits the bill. That lunch will definitely feed me at least 2 meals, maybe three. It’s huge! If you live in Portland and haven’t tried this particular food cart, you should definitely check it out. Each meal is vegetarian, though can be served vegan, and contains rice, naan, a cup of chai and 4 different “entrees”. Trust me, you’ll love it!)

-A bag of snacks from Trader Joe’s $32 (As mentioned before, my best friend Lizzi is fighting cancer, for the second time. She spent about a week in the hospital while recovering from brain surgery and I went to visit her daily. Though the hospital food was just fine, I thought a bunch of yummy snacks might lift her spirits. Who doesn’t love peanut butter stuffed pretzels!?! I was right. The bag of snacks was a big hit and lifted her spirits. I will never regret a single cent spent on helping those that I love in some way. She is home now recovering further, and I am so glad to see her improving.)

There was definitely some other superfluous spending but I can’t seem to find it at the moment (that’s probably part of the problem right there!) That’s okay, I will do better next month.

What did I learn? I have always been a big fan of spending on experiences rather than things, and I think this list definitely demonstrates this. The money spent on time with family and loved ones was never wasted. What did you spend money on last month? Was it worth it?