August 13
    Money continues to be tight.  While lack of funds has sharply curtailed our spending, a few factors remain active in making us feel the pinch.  First, I am still on summer vacation from my job driving a school bus so my income for a few more weeks is limited to unemployment compensation (less than half my regular 

pay).  Second, gas prices are staying close to $3/gallon, but Tim's travel to and from work has not decreased and has actually increased somewhat due to his being responsible for 2 job sites at the present time.  He does get mileage for the travel from site to site, but that is an almost miniscule portion of his travel expenses.  Third, there is just no getting a 14 year old girl to understand the need to budget.  Megan continues to pester on a nearly daily basis for money to do things with friends or to purchase some "must have" item.
    I for one am not really minding the forced frugality and simplicity.  It's forced me, at least, to slow down, spend more time at home and find enjoyment in the little things.  Since we finally got the invisible fence system we bought months ago installed, one of my favorite pastimes has become spending time in the yard with the dogs.  They are having such a wonderful time with their new freedom and are so fun to watch as they race around the yard playing tag.  They are equally content to lie at my feet while I sit under the poplar tree (that I had never sat under before) reading or just enjoying the flowers, birds and butterflies.  It reminds me of the times I spent with my Nana sitting on her front porch early in the morning or swinging in the backyard after supper.  If only I could convince my family that it's a nice way to pass the time.  Much better than always sitting in front of the television.
    The garden is producing quite nicely and with my mom and her husband away on vacation the responsibility of it has fallen on me.  This is at least one area that Megan embraces.  She loves nothing better than picking peppers, tomatoes and zucchini.  With all the veggies coming in and the money staying out...our diet has changed a good bit these last weeks, too.  Gone are the processed quick and easy fixes and in are simple meats and fresh vegetables and salads.  I've been experimenting and getting rather creative in my combinations.  I haven't won Megan over to healthy eating, but Tim hasn't complained and has even been packing up the leftovers to take to work for his lunch.  It's a start.
    Other than a few dollars here and there for Megan to do things, we haven't needed to look for entertainment.  Tim took the fireplace out of the livingroom last Sunday.  It was much too large for the space and took up much needed living space.  I'll miss the fire this winter, but we're going to look around to see if a tiny pellet stove we saw a few years back is still available.  It wasn't much bigger than a 5 gallon bucket and resembled a pot-bellied stove.  The salesman at the time said it would heat 900-1000 sq. ft., more than enough to allow us to turn down the thermostat.  Knocking down all that stone made a really big mess, but it cleaned up fairly easily and we've been spending the evenings this week patching walls and of course the ceiling where the chimney used to be.  Hopefully, we'll be ready to put a coat of primer on before the weekend and then paint next weekend.
    Another thing I've been keeping busy with is my new Avon business.  I've been reading an awful lot of training literature and taking online training courses with the hope of creating a successful side business.  I'd have to say I'm operating in the red at the moment, but that's because to get started I'm investing in demo's and other special package deals to build up my inventory in preparation for a Christmas Open House at the beginning of November.  I am getting orders and they are increasing with every campaign, both in number and in size of sale, so that's a good thing.  I have a website,, that I'm beginning to promote in the hope of gaining more customers based on the convenience of ordering any time day or night and being able to choose to have the product delivered right to your door.
    I've been looking online for sources of money saving tips and one of the best places I've found is  It's a site for women to share their knowledge on a wide variety of different subjects.  There are tons of articles from experts in every subject and also forums and blogs for regular women to share their insights.  It's a really helpful site.  I've found a couple of friends, learned a lot of great things and even joined a coupon exchange!
    One thing that has made tightening up the ol' belt a little easier is my new attitude.  Rather than looking at a financial rough spot as a disaster, I'm viewing it as a challenge and finding ways to beat the challenge is turning out to be rather empowering.  Not a bad present for my 42nd birthday.