Friday, November 15, 2013

Budgeting and the Pencil Sharpener Dilemma

 Since we have a family of 6 and my husband is the only one who brings in any income we have to budget. There are a ton of things I would love to have to make my life easier, but those things will have to wait. For instance, I would love, love, love to have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer...ya know the one with all of the attachments that I will probably only use once in a blue moon but would love to have anyways. Instead I have my good old trusty hand mixer. Is it fancy? No. But it does get the job done.

The cost of us sending our children to school was costing us nearly 600 dollars at the beginning of the year. Clothing, shoes, backpacks, school supplies, plus supplies to keep at home for homework were simply expensive no matter how many sales I hit. Right before school starts here we have tax free weekend. Which I recommend to anyone regardless of if they send their kiddos to public school, private school, or homeschool. Heck, even if you have little ones and keep them home or send them to daycare. Tax free weekend can be awesome if you plan it right. There are things that I will pick up before the big sale. But it is usually little things. 

That 600 didn't include school pictures (which we were rarely ever able to get because the beginning of school kicked us to the ground and we were still playing catch up from the beginning of the school income families generally live paycheck to paycheck unless the working spouse makes an amazing living). We however have not had that luxury. 

My husband and I have had to "start over" well more than once in our marriage. Jobs came and went and every time he would have to start at the bottom and work his way up. By the time we would be OK something come up. Getting out of the military, found a job, had to move-found another job, found a better job-injury, school, another job that barely paid the bills, then another opportunity opened up and now we are doing OK again. Not great...but OK. 

Anywho...I had taken SOME of that money that we would have used (and managed to avoid putting us in even more debt) and built up our supplies. Since starting to homeschool my home has become a small office supply store. There is extra paper everywhere. Puzzles and games stacked up. A bookshelf overflowing with children's books. How have I managed all of these items in such a short time? Budget...with a capital B of course! Thrift stores, family contributions, and I make a lot of our resources. I also invest here and there in little items.

We started the year with the small pencil sharpeners from the dollar store. I bought Dixon Ticonderoga know, the good ones. BUT these pencil sharpeners were eating the pencils. I, of course, couldn't figure out if it was the pencils or the sharpeners that were the cause of my daily misery. Yes, misery. Every time I turned around we were having to sharpen pencils. Leads would break and by the time I got done sharpening pencils there wasn't much left of them. I almost couldn't believe that I had bought these amazing pencils. They were supposed to be the best of the best right? Well, they are pretty great and when staples or any other office supply store runs them on sale for less than a dollar for a 20 pack I thought I had saved a ton of money. 

What were we missing? A good pencil sharpener. I picked one up at Wal-Mart for under $10!! It's just like my trusty old hand mixer...nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. I like it because it doesn't eat the pencils up like they are pieces of bacon at an all you can eat breakfast buffet. It's x-acto brand so I know I can trust it's quality. It even suctions to my desk and can be moved around to suit my righty and lefty handed babies pencil sharpening needs. PLUS it was well within our budget!! Do I sound excited about a pencil sharpener? Well if not then let me tell ya I am sooooo excited about this product!! I couldn't find it on Amazon for under 10. Office Max has it in a few different color choices but it isn't as cheap as Wal-Mart :) 

At the beginning of the year these pencil sharpeners were nowhere to be found on the shelves. Now that the madness of back-to-school shopping is well over with and businesses are gearing up for Christmas I can find some of what I need. I also picked up a laminating machine ( was nowhere to be found at the beginning of the school year) which I haven't gotten around to testing out but will soon.

I will be posting quite a bit on how we manage our budget and about some of the products we have tried out.  Also some tips and tricks from a homemaker that was raised by a homemaker (my beautiful Grandmaw). Also I will post links from time to time on some of the homeschooling resources we use.

Which pencils or pencil sharpeners are you crazy about? Tell us about it below :)


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