Monday, December 26, 2016

We Signed With Tenants!

I wanted to apologize for being a little absent from the blog the past few days. There was a lot going on here what with the holidays, construction, and unfortunately most of the family having a virus of some sort or another. I'm still recovering and a few of my kids still are as well...

However, that said, we have some great news! We found renters for our rental unit upstairs from our apartment, and signed today.

I knew there'd be a large demand for this apartment, since there is a shortage of apartments, especially three bedroom ones, where we live. Two weeks ago I posted one short blurb in a local whatsapp group about the apartment, and despite it being under construction we got non stop calls and visits and people interested in the apartment, but we were looking for specific types of renters, and I am happy to say that I think we found a family exactly like what we were looking for. And that is just with posting a short blurb, no pictures, while the place was under construction.

I'd love to write more in depth, but as I said I'm still under the weather. And we still have more to do. Today they installed the granite counter-tops in the rental unit's kitchen, and only recently they finally installed a front door. Between now and the 31 of December we still have more to do- attach the plumbing in the sink, install the cabinet doors, and hang the upper kitchen cabinets. But that is totally doable in a day's work.

But for now, I just wanted to share the good news!

Since January isn't a popular time locally to move, we had the contract end one year from this July, so that it ends at a more reasonable month to find renters.

Any landlords out there? Any tips to give to new landlords so that we can be the ideal landlords? We have experience with bad landlords and we want to be as good landlords as we can possibly be. Or any tips, coming from the perspective of tenants, of things we should make sure not to do as landlords?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How To Overcome An Unexpected Financial Crisis

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at
A reader, Heather, reached out to me, and mentioned how she had cancer and she went from being financially stable to in a big financial crisis, because of all the expenses involved in the treatments and being unable to work, and more. She asked me if I'd be able to write a post about how people can overcome an unexpected financial crisis, and I said that I'd be happy to.

In my adult life, I certainly did have an unexpected financial crisis, but I can't say that it was following a period of financial comfort.
Rather, about a year after we got married, some financial mistakes of one of our pasts' caught up with us and gave us a huge jolt, causing us to feel like we were drowning financially, instead of the just barely making it through the month that we'd been doing until that point.

This post will hopefully address people in both circumstances- people who started off financially comfortable and then found themselves in financial hell, as well as people who weren't doing well beforehand and then found themselves in an even worse situation.

Steps to Overcome An Unexpected Financial Crisis

Monday, December 19, 2016

Our Kids' Free Upcycled Quadruple Bunk Bed

I had all sorts of plans for beds for my kids in our new home. We specifically designed the outlets and doors in the bedroom with the plan that we'd have a set type of beds that would be able to sleep all four of our kids. We were going to have 4 beds, in the shape of an L, with the ends overlapping each other- a four tiered bunk bed with two beds along each wall. 

We got to the new home, and for a few days, my kids slept on mattresses on the floor while we brought over the furniture and slowly got it put together. However, when we went to put it together, my kids didn't want what we'd planned, and I wasn't sure it would work so well either.

Instead, we ended up making beds for four (or even five if you want to get technical) all on top of each other, which saved even more room. The kids are loving it, and I'm loving how space efficient it is, but the biggest perk was the cost.

We spent nothing.

Healthy Girl: 5 Small Lifestyle Changes to Lose Weight

This post is written by a blog reader.

Losing at least a couple pounds is something that’s on just about everybody’s minds in some capacity. Beginning a weight-loss journey doesn’t have to begin with moving in to your local gym or eating crackers for every meal. Instead, imagine more realistic and sustainable changes that you can make in your daily routine. Often times, a small and simple adjustment in your day-to-day can produce the biggest successes.

Consider the following changes to make to your lifestyle and you’ll find your losing weight without working too hard!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Our New Beautiful and Frugal Small Living and Dining Room

In the past few days a few different people asked me questions about living situations that brought to mind some things that were at the back of my mind for much of the duration of my marriage, and especially in the last 5 years where we lived in 484 square feet, with a family of 6 the last two years...

Namely, how hard it was, and not just physically, but also emotionally. Because by nature I want to be able to host people, have guests over, invite friends and family to chill out at our house... but our last home was simply too cramped. And for the first few years there, we didn't even have a couch since we couldn't find any room for it. When we finally got a couch, it was a tiny little Ikea Solsta couch, which made me very happy at the time, and was the best we could do then, and it did allow us to have guests over a little bit more, since they had where to sit down that wasn't just around the table, but it wasn't really enough.
I wanted to be able to have an area of my home designated for lounging around. Even though I probably wouldn't ever have enough space for an entire room dedicated for that, I wanted to have room to comfortably have at least a small crowd hanging out together. On couches.

And I wanted prettiness. I have had such a hard time with feeling like I'm just living with somebody else's cast offs, never really being able to make my home mine since everything in it wasn't too my taste, but rather it was whatever we could get cheapest or free.

About a year ago, I decided to give our current home an interim makeover, to at least have the colors in my home, as much as possible, be ones that I liked, and I got rid of all the things whose colors bothered me, and replaced them with things more to my taste, just by making pillow covers and couch covers and replacing the tablecloths. You can read more about my super frugal home makeover here. It really made such a huge difference to my overall happiness, that my home at least somewhat felt more me, with colors I liked and in styles I liked.

But in our new house, I felt that wasn't enough. Now that we finally had the space, I wanted to have a real living room. Real couches in colors I liked. A rug. Pillows. And not with covers, but the actual thing. And we splurged. But not too much.

The only new things we purchased for the living room were these two couches, on sale at a Black Friday sale. A two seater and a three seater in the colors I liked.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Foraging and Homemade Miso

My dad makes homemade miso. When I was a kid, I think he made miso once or twice, but since moving abroad with the family, he has made miso pretty regularly for a few years now. I have been asking and asking him to write me a post on miso making, but that hasn't happened yet. I am trying to get it to share with you though!

The other day my dad brought over a bottle of miso for me- a liter and a half of solid miso. I was really excited about that. He then instructed me to make it into soup with onions, carrots, and foraged greens.

Rental Kitchen Mostly Installed Ourselves!

So yesterday I posted that we installed our Ikea kitchen cabinets (upper) ourselves, first time doing cabinets, and it was much easier than we expected. Putting the cabinets together was a cinch, and installing them was not super simple, but easy enough.

Today, my 9 year old son and I put together the rest of the kitchen cabinets, this time the ones for the rental unit upstairs from us. Mostly it was as simple as doing the rest of the cabinets, other than the corner unit that was harder but still doable (I just needed to look much more closely at the instructions and follow them very well, since unlike the rest of the cabinets we installed, this was not symmetrical so directions made a huge difference.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

We Finished Installing Our Ikea Kitchen

We did it! My kitchen is now complete! After 9 year old Lee and I built all of our Ikea kitchen cabinets, yesterday Mike and I installed them into our kitchen.  If I want to be honest about who did what, I went to the hardware store to get advice about what type of screws were best for securing cabinets and bought them, then I measured how long the rails upon which Ikea cabinets sit should be, and then marked them, then Mike cut the rails while I held them in place. I then measured and marked on the wall where the rails should go, and marked all the places to drill. After that, Mike drilled into the wall, and added the screws. The screws went in properly onto one wall, the one with the taller cabinets, however, the wall wasn't deep enough for the screws on side with the fridge, so Mike needed to problem solve and figure out different ways to secure the rails onto the wall, which he accomplished very well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Building Our Own Ikea Kitchen- Because We Can!

The kitchen, as it arrived...

Yesterday in Ikea I placed an order for a complete kitchen, and as I paid for the delivery they assumed they also were charging me for assembly. When I told them that we were assembling it ourselves, they said "Oh, your builders are putting it together for you?" I told them no, my husband and I would be doing it ourselves.
Then when I was walking around the bedding section I was talking to someone there, and mentioned that my husband and I built our own beds; this person asked "Oh, you designed it together and then had it built?" I insisted that no, I didn't "have it built", that I did more than just draw designs on paper but actually did 50% of the physical work on top of doing all the planning and sketching.

Today the kitchens arrived and there were boxes and boxes and packages of materials and the deliverers again asked the same question, who was building it, and then not believing me really when I said we'll do it ourselves. The contractor who is doing the finishing touches to the upstairs apartment asked me the same and was downright incredulous when I said that I planned on doing it myself.

Now let me admit something. I've never built a kitchen before. And today when it arrived and I saw just how much of a huge project there was ahead of me, without any assembly instructions for the kitchen as a whole I kind of balked. I wasn't sure I knew what I was getting myself into...

So why build it ourselves?
Well, a few reasons.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Homemade DIY Pallet Nightstand or End Table

I went to Ikea today to pick up some more things for our home and to place an order for the kitchen, and when I got home, I saw that Mike had started working on another DIY project out of pallets we collected- a nightstand for me. I had mentioned that in our room I didn't yet have a place to put down books or my glasses or phone, so Mike decided to build me one.

Since he was just at the very beginning of the project, I helped him build the rest, and gave design input, and held the wood while he sawed and drilled and sanded.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Feeling A Bit Like A Fraud

For the past little bit I've been having this thought running through my head- that I'm not being the Penny I've always been. Since I started packing and preparing for our move, and since we've moved in, in many ways I feel like an impostor, a fraud, and just not myself.


Two months ago, if you asked me to describe myself using fewer than ten descriptors, they would probably include:

Frugal (and extremely frugal)
Healthy Eater (mainly Paleo)
Tiny House Liver
and a few other things.

But now, I'm finding a hard time finding me since most of those words don't seem to be describing me or my life anymore...

Monday, December 5, 2016

PSA: Watch What You're Dissing

As someone who has lived a frugal life by necessity pretty much since I got married at 18 years old 10 years ago, I've gotten my fair share of remarks from people about how we live our life. Many people don't necessarily understand why I do things the way that I do, and I have a relatively tough skin, but I'll admit, certain things can sting, and even if they don't hurt me, they certainly have the potential to be hurtful to others.
Now that we moved into our new house, these types of remarks have increased, and I am writing this post as a public service announcement, because I'm sure many people don't even realize how certain things they say can be hurtful, and I wanted to point out to people about the power of their words.

First of all, I think it is important to realize that you can never really understand why someone else does things the way that they do. Things may seem silly or strange to you, but if you aren't aware of someone else's life circumstances, you may be missing a big part of the picture of why people are doing things a certain way.

For example, and totally not connected to the comments that inspired this post, I've had people assume that the reason why I am on a strict diet is because I am orthorexic, that I have mental issues that cause me to desire to restrict myself and take away all enjoyment from food, when the truth is that it is because I had physical health issues for years that finally were eliminated by removing trigger foods. Simply because they weren't privy to the details of my health situation, they assumed very incorrect things about me.
Similarly, when people make comments about why I am doing things a certain way, or telling me that I should be doing things in a way I'm not, they aren't knowledgeable about my financial circumstances that are influencing the way I spend or don't spend money. I happen to be more open about my finances than most people (being as I run a blog called Penniless Parenting), but even so, I don't share the details of how much money we bring in each month, various expenses we have, and how much money is left over after all that. Therefore, people may not understand why I make the frugal or extremely frugal choices I make, why I won't spend on certain things that would be givens to other people, and why I do sometimes spend money on things people may consider frivolous.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Almost All Moved In!

I want to apologize for my long absence from my blog! We got our keys to the brand new apartment that we bought while in the building stages on Monday morning, and by Monday evening we started moving in... Yes, started...
I was hoping to have a great post to share with you about how we frugally moved, but we ended up paying too much for movers, and they ended up doing a terrible job, and not even finishing the job. I'm not interested in getting into all the reasons of the whys and the hows, but lets just say on Sunday my mom and I brought over two car loads worth of things and put them in the yard, on Monday she and I brought over another load or two, on Monday night movers brought over much of our stuff but not all, on Tuesday relatives helped bring two more car loads of things, Tuesday night movers brought over most of the rest of our things and most of the rest of our furniture but refused to do any more, Wednesday we brought another car load or two over, Thursday another car load, and finally Friday, with two last car loads we brought the last of the stuff to the apartment.
It was horrible to do it like that, having the move spread over so long, but it wasn't by choice, and we specifically paid movers to move things so that we could get it all done at once instead of bit by bit and even so it didn't work out... but at the same time, in a way it was good because I ended up being able to put things away a bit at a time, so by the time we got the last things on Friday, most of the other things were already put away, so we were able to do it in smaller chunks. I certainly wouldn't recommend what we did, but... we aren't moving for a long long time again, if not ever, so at least we don't have to worry about this again!