It's no secret that I work full-time. With that comes a mortgage size child care payment each month. With two kids in day care/preschool, I was more concerned with making more than the cost of school than what my take home pay would be. I simply refuse to work to have the kids in school. If I am going to do this, there better be some fun involved. I shouldn't think twice about buying a sweater, picking up a new supply of tinted moisurizer, buying stamps. We should plan amazing trips to Disney World and summers on the Vineyard.

It wasn't long ago that I panicked over every penny. I worked a very flexible job three days a week and made enough to cover child care, enough to help out, but not enough to live panic-free. We were fine. We were always fine, I mean my lord, we got hosed on our house and we were still fine. We were fine because my penny pincher spouse had rubbed off on me. When we needed that safety net we had carefully saved, it was there, and that was all Steve. It was a big challenge for our family, but a storm we weathered with a relatively small amount of lost sleep. He was onto something.

My thoughts on finances have evolved, but I still hate denying myself.  I struggle with it more now than ever because I justify. "If I can't really consider buying this sweater, why do I work?!" "If I can't treat myself to a pumpkin muffie in the morning, what is the point, really?" Part of that is selfish, and part of it is true. I'm not just talking about things for me. That justification extends to groceries, housewares, things the kids need, and on and on. I still love a good deal, don't get me wrong. The highlight of my grocery shopping this week was a 75 cent coupon on Fruitables juice right there in the aisle next to the juice, no forward thinking, no planning necessary. My kind of coupon. Pre-full-time job, I would have bought one. I bought two. Justification. When I went to BJs this week for our monthly snack replenishment. Marc is onto something, I only buy Nutri Grains, Granola bars, pb crackers etc once a month. This has vastly improved my overall quality of living, it has saved us money too, but the initial investment is more and sometimes a bit overwhelming, especially if it includes diapers. Justification.

No one in our house puts everyone else's needs ahead of their own more than Steve. That throne is his alone to sit in. I tend to put the kids before myself, but I try to balance it with little perks for myself now and again and I don't think there is anything wrong with that, but I struggle with it. My heat resistant spoonula somehow got a piece broken off, bingo, flashy new purple one. I justify this because I use that heat resistant spoonula more than any other item in my kitchen. Justification. Steve would never do that. He would keep using the broken spoonula. It wouldn't bother him. He has two pairs of jeans that he likes, I suggest he get a new pair, "I have two pairs, I don't need a new pair of jeans!" complete with arm motions and emotion in voice. Thing is, he has gotten a lot better about coping with my unbridled justification lately, he just doesn't extend it to himself. I'm still calling it a win. I doubt his views on justification will ever change, it keeps life interesting, it keeps me honest. It keeps me realistic.

We recently completed the final steps to getting our Mass Saves Heat Loan and are now the happy and comfortably toasty owners of a Lockinvar system with tankless water heater. We have been ticking off items for our house improvement google doc at the fastest speed we have ever tackled a google doc spreadsheet. Overgrown bushes in the front of the house, GONE. New Heater, INSTALLED. Firewood, ARRIVED. Powerwash the house, UNMILDEWED. (It looks amazing! I think it is actually a different COLOR) Interior panting estimate to rid the house of her PINK walls, completed, awaiting discussion on coughing up the money to neutralize the crap out of the upstairs; ie awaiting justification. I'm happy ticking things off, justification never felt so good. Steve wrings his hands wondering if we have done too much at once. I've learned a thing or two in ten years, including inviting the powerwash/painter in to give an estimate on some challenging walls in the interior and "hey, could you just do an estimate for the whole upstairs so we can see how much it would be?"

Enter holidays. I am trying to improve in this area. I am an over zealous organizing fiend, complete with you guessed it, a google doc spreadsheet. I tackle each person, tracking ideas, costs, shipment details. This isn't where I try to improve, I'm all over the organization piece. It's the justifying. It's the inner battle of a sensible holiday vs. a smidge of over the top magic. Christmas morning is going to be pretty amazing this year. Dollhouse, some felt food for the kitchen, Basket full of BALLS. It's not about quantity or cost, it's that our kids acutally have likes and dislikes, things they are into, and we have an attack plan. A sensible attack plan. We're planning on mostly shared items (less fighting), a few things of their own to open, and stockings. I stood in Toys R Us this week, another perk of my job, the ability to snag some time at Toys R Us to debate the differences between dollhouses. I splurged on the snazzier dollhouse. I justified, the same way I do for those occasional treats to myself.

More than improvements to the house, I'm working on improvements to myself, laying off the justification a bit. That being said, I pretty much love this little $30 justified splurge.

Improvements, mostly small, but exponetially improving quality of life. Justification can sometimes make it warmer, more of a home, a place where roots are tended with care and life's moments of perfect simple daily love are showcased. They are reminders that justification cannot recreate any one of these moments. The only thing I will continue to fiecely defend and justify is the temperature on the thermostat. I'm not willing to budge on this one.


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