I know you’re there and I need your help.

Over the years, the focus of this blog has evolved and grown right alongside our own camo-covered lives. We started here talking about cooking and crafts, and now here we find ourselves in the midst of personal finance with a hint of military lifestyle. It’s been quite the journey.

Lately, though, I’ve been spending my time on furthering my freelance writing career, all of my time. I could easily retreat into the darkness of all the other abandoned blogs out there in cyberspace. In fact, that decision would likely make the most sense business-wise.

There’s just one little problem.

Every time I log into my dashboard, I see that you’ve been here, diligently visiting despite my spotty attendance. It’s hard to walk away from a blog that gets so many readers even when I’m AWOL.

Go ahead and finish your coffee first. I'll wait.

Go ahead and finish your coffee first.
I’ll wait.

So, dear reader, let’s give this one last go. If you’re still interested in reading Our Camo Covered Life, then let me know by taking this quick survey. Or don’t and we’ll part ways. No hard feelings. Either way, you get to decide the future of this humble corner of cyberspace.

It’s all up to you.

See you next time?

Perfectly Imperfect

I have a terrible tendency toward perfectionism. I tend to want to be the very best at everything I do, and when I don’t like the work I put together, I will procrastinate the heck out of submitting (or posting) it.

That’s why you haven’t seen anything on the blog lately. I’ve been caught up in thinking that nothing I had put together was worth posting. And, heck, that might very well be true, but if I dwell on every tiny imperfection, I’ll never post a thing.

That got me thinking… Have you ever felt that same way about getting control of something in your life? Whether it be your finances, or a messy garage, some progress, however flawed, is still progress. Some budget, even an imperfect one, still initiates good habits that will help you tackle the bigger challenges in the long run.

Stephen King wrote recently of his first days submitting his work and how he collected his rejection letters on a huge stake in the wall. He learned from them. He gleaned the constructive criticism from them. And now look at him. Thomas Edison is quoted as saying that he didn’t fail, he had simply found ten thousand ways that don’t work.

We can learn from our faulty budgets, but we can never grow if we don’t take a leap and make those mistakes first.

So go ahead and tackle that budget, or that garage, or whatever else you’re afraid of failing at.

 

The only true failure is failing to try.

Repair, Don’t Replace, or, My Dog Has A Drinking Problem

Let me set the scene for you… it was a beautiful Saturday morning in San Diego. The window let in a delectable breeze. I sat on the bed with that heavenly first cup of coffee. It was blissfully quiet. I plopped down on the bed and leisurely drank my coffee and opened my laptop, ready to dive into my freelance work. And then…

the dog puked on me.

No kidding. Puked right on me. On my arm, on my leg, and on the bed.

Talk about ruining my writing groove.

mattress

The dog is fired.

Worry not, the dog is fine. (He drank too much water at one time.) The silver lining is that he missed my laptop by mere inches. (I’ve been known to spill the occasional coffee on my laptop, but dog vomit would be a new one, even for me.)

The bed was stripped and I was left with dog vomit on my mattress. I googled and found an article on using regular ole table salt, which actually worked! (I’ll admit I had my doubts.)

The whole vomitpalooza on my mattress thing got me thinking… I wasn’t going to replace the mattress because of one wayward canine hangover. That would be ridiculous. I would clean it. But, did I have that same line of thought on items that may be less expensive and easier to replace? I have an office chair that I would like to replace, but now I think I’ll take a few minutes with a screwdriver and make sure it isn’t just needing some screw-tightening TLC.

Boom! Saved some chair money right there.tools

The moral of this whole stinky story is to keep an eye toward repair instead of automatically replacing soiled or broken items. Bring your things back from the brink of the landfill and give them a second chance. You may be pleasantly surprised to see how much life is left in them, and your wallet too!

Fast Money: Sell Your Clutter

We are big fans of Craigslist and eBay. We love the idea of purchasing gently used items without paying full price for the brand new versions. This way someone else pays for the depreciation on new purchases and we still get the same item we could have paid full price for in a store.

By Vectorink (for sale by owner sign) [Public domain], <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFor_Sale_by_Owner_Sign.svg">via Wikimedia Commons</a>

It’s easy to forget, though, that the web goes both ways. For instance, just yesterday I spent about a half an hour total taking a few pictures, posting a few ads, and meeting up with a couple Craigslisters… I walked away with $16 from two of my items. eBay isn’t too shabby either. (Just remember to take into account shipping costs, listing fees, and paypal fees.)

Take a hard look around your home. I guarantee you have something worth selling. Do you have name brand jeans in decent condition that no longer fit? DVDs you’re no longer crazy about? Books you’re not going to read again? These types of items are prime targets for selling.

Furthermore, you might be surprised by the type of items you can turn into cash. I’ve sold things that I was sure no one would want, like my husband’s old scratched phone case, but it sold. (The best bet for these types of items would be Craigslist with its free listings.)

Moral of the story: Don’t let your clutter sit collecting dust. With just a bit of effort, you can turn it into money in your pocket!

Military Tip

Many of our military installations, like MCAS Miramar, host swap meets on post where you can sell items. Check with your FRG leadership or in-processing center for more information.

Also, don’t forget that online swap meets might be another option for your post, like the online yard sale site for Camp Pendleton. A simple Google search with “(your post name) online yard sales” should aim you in the right direction.

Thrifty Thursday: Coupons, Simplified

Coupons are not as scary as you might think. I promise.

In a nut shell, coupons are best used when used strategically. Clip them then save them until you can find a sale on that item. Eat what’s on sale. It’s that simple.

By Julie & Heidi from West Linn & Gillette, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This is how I use coupons to slash our spending on groceries:

I subscribe to three Sunday-only newspapers for three sets of coupon inserts. This allows me to take better advantage of a good sale by being able to stock up at a discount.

I clip them all and file them in a 3″ binder so they’re easier to find when I need them.

Before I go to the store, I visit thekrazycouponlady.com and southerncalisaver.com to check the matchups where some wonderful bloggers spend the time and effort to match the available coupons to the store sales. (God bless those ladies!)

For more information, visit http://www.commissaries.com.

I pull the coupons I plan to use, then I head to the store with my list. Easy peasy.

Don’t let yourself be intimidated by coupons. Yes, you can save even more money by investing more time (and newspaper subscriptions) and joining the ranks of the as-seen-on-tv variety of extreme couponers. As for the rest of us, smaller-scale strategic couponing means minimal effort and maximum savings.