Bad Mom,  domesticity,  illos,  Moody Blues

The Pesky Post Part 1

The Pesky Post is refusing to organize itself into a cohesive blog unit. So I’m just going to slog through it bullet point by bullet point and hope by the end of a bunch of typing, I reach some sort resolution and point.

  • Financial Worry

    We did our taxes. (Late for 2005 and early for 2006. That kind of gives you a little insight into our bookkeeping skills right there.) There was good news and bad news. The good news is I sold a bunch of illustrations and made more money than Toby expected. Yay me! The bad news is I didn’t save any of that money to give to the government. Boo me! I thought I was okay because Toby said he’d cover me. But he said that before he knew I was going to make that much. Somehow we didn’t communicate. Double Boo. So Toby had to take all the money he saved all year to put into our house fund (that is three years out) and pay the government instead. This is very very sad and I feel awful about it.

    This called for a sit down between Toby and I and it didn’t go so well. There were tears. I had to admit to him that I’m not financially faithful. Meaning, I spend a lot of money on the side that I keep secret from him. I know! I’m terrible. Here’s how I justify it: Toby doesn’t understand the little things I need to buy. Guys just don’t. He doesn’t understand how a simple trip to Target to buy paper towels can turn into a $75 shopping trip. Notice I don’t say “spree” because a “spree” would be a whole other thing all together. A shopping trip would be: paper towels, zip lock bags, cat litter, a $7.99 seasonal t-shirt for Baby Bug that just jumped into my cart, a chocolate bar, a place mat for under my dish rack to catch all the dripping water and I don’t know… some stickers or something. Add all that up and it’s $75 somehow.

    Sometimes I even go to Old Navy and buy Baby Bug socks and pajamas and that ends up being $75 too. Then there are the online purchases, like cafepress shirts and mugs and gifts for friends and relatives. It seems like every week it’s somebody’s birthday. Before you know it I am easily spending $500-$1000 on things that Toby does not know about. What I’m not doing is putting it on my credit card. What I am doing is working at night and during Baby Bug’s naps so I can have a little bit of money in my business bank account that I lop over into our joint checking account to support my financial unfaithfulness and cover-up all the overdraft I am constantly going into.

    Unfortunately this has to stop. First off because I’m not saving for taxes and secondly because I lost one of my bread and butter clients. And thirdly, I want a house too!

  • Losing a good client

    This is a pesky post bullet point all in it self. I hate losing clients. Not because I miss the work but because it’s a personal rejection. I’m full of ego and it makes me sad when people don’t like me any more. Thankfully, this client is really nice and the break up was as kind as a break up can be. They even want me to still do small side projects for them that their new agency charges too much for. So it’s not a complete break up but it’s enough of one that I’m examining my behavior with them and second guessing my talent and business practices.

    Frankly, I’m just not as capable as I used to be pre-baby. I hate admitting that but it’s true. Four hours a week is just not enough time to support a client completely. However, I’m not ready to take any more time away from Baby Bug to be a better designer. It’s already hard enough leaving her for two hours twice a week. This is something I’m struggling with deeply.

    Toby wants me to give up working altogether but I’m not ready to give up all the side spending. I have a hard enough time making the grocery money he gives me cover all the groceries. I need to work. I need the money but I also need the sense of accomplishment and pride that doing a good job gives me. I love designing. I love making logos and graphics and having people exclaim happiness over my work. I’m just a glutton for praise. A lot of times I’ll do it for free just because I love the praise so much. I need to find a way to make my work pay better. Less work, more money or something like that. Which brings me to another bullet point.

  • This blog needs to work harder for me

    I’m selling ads, as you’ve noticed, but I’m not tracking them. I have no back-end software that tells me how many times they get clicked on. I need to set up something and keep my ad clients abreast of how well they are doing. I need to raise my rates. Thankfully my new favorite web friend, OMSH, is very savvy at web business and she’s sent me in some great directions to get this done. The part that is bugging me is that I feel overwhelmed with all the work I need to do and how little time I have to do it. I’d rather just make somebody a blog banner.

  • Free Blog Banners

    Since I love making graphics so much and I love making graphics for free (for people who really really appreciate them and hardly ever criticize), I want to start giving away a free web graphic a month. How fun will that be? I could have a little side bar linking the new free graphic and send that blog a bunch of traffic. Fun for me, fun for them. I think it’s a good idea. Of course this doesn’t get any “work” done or make me any money but it could be good for traffic and therefore good for advertising and in the long run good for me. I don’t know, it’s something I’m simmering on.

  • What else?

    I’m bugged about a bunch of parenting things. But I think I’ll save them for a Pesky Post Part 2. I don’t think I’ve come to any resolution or point but I feel better sharing some of my worries with you. Now those worries can sprout wings and leave my cluttered head. Out! Out! This brain needs more room to worry about other things.


    • Gidget

      There is a great open source ad tracking software. Shoot me an email and I can give you some pointers if you like.

    • anne

      One thing I have to say is that you have the best ads of anyone I’ve seen. They all seem to “go” together on your site and look fabulous plus are so very enticing. You definitely have that going for you.

      Sometimes I want to hide spending from my hubby too. He never notices when and what I buy and it’s so dangerous. I totally hear you on that. Thanks for the reminder to be more careful about that.

      I always love all of your artwork and love seeing all the clever new things you have to say and draw! :) Keep up the phenomenal work!

    • lainey

      I’m impressed you can devote 4 hours a week to a client, post-baby! I agreed to work from home a few hours a week once my baby is 3 months and I’m wondering how in the heck I’m going to manage! Good luck resolving all your pesky problems.

    • Sleepynita

      I think all of us moms sometimes need a reality check about spending once and a while, me included! It seems so easy to spend a day “out and about” with a baby picking up necessities and come home with 100$ worth of bargins and stuff that you really didn’t need.

      I just try to work everything (toilet paper and diapers included!) into the grocery budget each month, but I have to admit I cut it close at times.

      Don’t worry too much about the $$$$; this year you can just try to add a little of what you make regularly to the house savings account. Work this out with Toby, I am sure he will appreciate any effort you can make. Pay yourself first (or save for your home) it does add up quickly and you don’t miss it when it becomes a regular thing! I put away $50 a week from my maternity leave (in Canada) and I managed a nice RRSP come tax time (with a tidy little deduction) without realizing it.

      Best of luck, and don’t fret too much; you are a great mom and wife!

    • Leah

      It’s hard to save for something big and long-term like a house when the instant gratification of a T-shirt (on sale!) is staring me in the face too. But I firmly believe that I will be able to afford the big things I want not through a lottery win or surprise financial windfall but through slow and steady saving in little bits and pieces. When I see something I want, I force myself to compare its value against the value of a house. Do I really need all those T-shirts or would I rather have the hundreds of dollars go toward a downpayment? The downpayment wins almost every time. That’s what works for me.

    • Isabella's mom

      You know, it sounds like maybe you need to be more realistic about what you spend and that Toby needs to be more realistic about how much things cost. And no, you shouldn’t hide your spending from your husband, you know that it is wrong. But don’t beat yourself up about it, you’ve been punished enough. But definitely you and Toby need to work out a better budget and one that includes your income also. Have you looked at Crown Financial? They have a great budget in which you put in how much you make, how much you tithe and it divides the remainder into categories for you – you can shuffle those to accomadate your life – maybe child care is much lower for you than on the budget, maybe your power bill is higher but your housing bill is lower. Included is a budget for clothing and for entertainment. It has made a tremendous difference for me in how I perceive my money and now I almost never have those unplanned $75 trips to Target – because I don’t feel deprived because there is money allotted for me to spend on fun stuff. Good luck to you and Toby – I know you guys will work it out.

    • Angella

      While I LOVE the free banner idea (because you already did it for me!), I don’t want you to undervalue your talent! You should be paid! But maybe the one free banner a month would get those peoples’ readers to pay you for banners or other work…so the traffic idea is a good one. When I revamp my site, there will be a link to you re: the banner :)

      As for the money stuff in general, big hugs to you. Money stuff can be heavy and crappy, but it’s good that you guys are talking openly about it.

      Again – BIG HUGS! :)

    • klcdh

      Off topic – Thank you for the link to slide. I’ve been wanting to play with some slideshows for a while – but haven’t invested in photoshop yet. Thanks for doing the leg work and posting the link on your sight.

      I’ve been reading for a little while. I really enjoy looking in on you and Baby Bug.

      Thanks again

    • nina

      SAJ, once upon a time (twenty years ago), I had a little baby girl, a rental near the beach in CA and a very, very tight budget as well. I understand.

      Please give yourself a fun-fund. NOT for paper towels. Or cat litter. Or groceries. Just for those little things that brighten up an ordinary day. How much is up to you but if you don’t budget for a cute clothing item for your darling girl or a chocolate bar, it just feels so awful.

      Maybe doing the taxes (ick!) is kind of like a financial spring cleaning of sorts.

      I hope Baby Bug feels better too!

    • Mary

      I totally understood I about the shopping trips that end up costing more than you planned! That happens to me all the time. I like the idea of including a little fun spending in your budget, though. I should try that.

    • margalit

      Two suggestions that may or may not be right for you. Blogher ads. I make a decent amount. Not a huge by any means amount, but an extra $50 here and there. It might be worth it for you to look into it.

      And, how about SELLING blog banners for a small price? Sheryl at Paper Napkin charges something like $10 each. It’s not much, but if you did one a week, that would be an extra $40 of mad money for you for something you love to do anyways.

      Our money situation is very very tight, too. Blog ads, blogging on several paying sites, and doing some small freelance writing helps me get by. It means I can order pizza once a month, and maybe even get some coffee at Starbucks once a month. One of the things that has helped me a LOT is being very careful about groceries. I use coupons (I know…it is bizarre!) and read the weekly circulars and make a grocery list and do not deviate from it. I started this a while back and found I was saving a ton of money. It’s amazing how much crap you put into your cart without a list.

      But I agree with your other commenters. Try to save a bit of mad money for yourself. I rarely do and it does affect how I feel about myself. Don’t make my mistake!

    • Bethany

      Aw, B, this post makes me wish I could give you a hug. :-) Dealing with budgeting and all that gives me a headache too, but I agree with previous commenters that it’s GREAT you and Toby are talking about it openly, even if there are tears. Better to get it out in the open, and then you can work together on how to make it easier for both of you.

      Also…how do you manage to spend ONLY $75 at Target? My husband and I joke that it’s the magical $100 store, because we can go in totally meaning to get just soda and paper towels and kitty litter, and when we get to the cash and everything is rung up, somehow we’ve spent $97.38, or $101.15, or something like that. I think it’s the clearance stuff that always adds up for me.

      Do you get much money on the CafePress stuff? I’ve been meaning to buy a few things for a while now, and I will totally still buy them if you hike all your prices by a dollar… :-)

    • BeachMama

      Everyone has given such great advice. All I can say is been there, done that and we got through it all.

      Our first year with me at home was rough, and I was getting mat leave pay and top up, so basically almost a full salary. I realized that things were really going to be tight when I didn’t have that anymore and started to bring in some sewing work. That went on for just over a year, but was turning into a full time job and J just wasn’t napping enough so I was sewing into the wee hours of the morning. So I stopped that and started a virtual office business. I did quite well with that for about a year, but gave it up to get pregnant with number two. So, technically for the first time since I was maybe 12, I am not working (a paying job). My extra spending has definately slowed down, but it is hard.

      Your talent is so great, you should have no problem making the extra money you want. If Toby is worried about not keeping money aside for taxes maybe this is the time to let him help you put some aside, so you can still keep doing the stuff you love, but without a big payout at the end of the year.

      As for free banners, well I would hire you (as in pay you) in a second to do one for me, I just didn’t want to ask because you are so busy. And your ads are awesome, I have even sent the links to a few friends.

      It will all work out, I am sure, in the best way possible for you to enjoy both worlds.

    • josephine

      Hi guys! You all are so nice to me! I love all your comments. I should respond individually and I will if I can but I just wanted to say something so that I don’t lead you astray. I didn’t design all the ads on this site. In fact, I’ve only done a few of them. I just “approve” them and only let “cool looking” ads on. But thank you. I wish I could take credit for the Aloha girl. She’s awesome!

    • Kuky

      I agree with Nina about a fun fund! Set aside a little whenever you make some money and then when you feel like splurging for a little something you’ll have the money for it. And free blog banner once a month sounds very cool. But like margalit said maybe the rest of the time you can charge for them.

    • Amanda

      I love how the ads on your site don’t make it look cluttered, and they are all snazzy and stylish ads that I don’t see on any other sites.
      Money troubles suck the big one. I hate budgeting and being held accountable for every frappuccino and bottle of Febreeze. It all adds up, but I’d just rather not know. :)
      As far as the free banner per month idea goes…sign me up! I love what you did for Ange and have been drooling enviously since it went up.
      You have a great eye and a true talent!

    • DeeJay

      Uhhh ohh…looks a lot like a situation that I know personally. We had to pay in about $3,500 this year in taxes and I had fits of anger for not planning better for it. Nobody to be mad at other than myself!

      I know I don’t get the traffic that you do , but if you would like to provide me with a graphic I’d be happy to give you a space on my side bar…to help a little maybe.

      I just love your blog and fee that that is the least I could do. Unless we find out for sure within the next couple of weeks that the grand baby is a girl…then I’ll be shopping at your cafepress store lots. Woot!

    • Jenifer

      SAJ…You’re really fabulous for being so honest with us. That takes a lot of guts. Getting financially sound is a tough thing to do, especially when you’re not keeping track or budgeting. I’ve been there and did that in college. I blindly use credit to give me a lifestyle that I thought I deserved and didn’t realize how damaging it could be. You can do it and change how you think about money. I’m really proud that you haven’t used credit. I live in a house with a self-employed and we have to be careful how we track that income, so that Uncle Sam isn’t knocking on our door.

      Secondly, YAY for the free banner. I would love if I could put up an SAJ on my site and would give you props at every moment that I could. I’ve been trying to design the appropriate ‘Nut’ logo for Nutcase but alas, my photoshop skills are not as elite as yours.

      Thirdly, INTERNET HUG!

    • Kathryn S

      Hey SAJ, have you thought about I have become a little obsessed with it, but it is the little ego stroke that I need every once in a while. It doesn’t pay a lot for me yet, but maybe someday. It’s fun to put up a bunch of you illos and just see which ones sell. It’s easy because you don’t need to work with clients directly, but there’s the thrill when something sells. You might like it too.

    • gorillabuns

      we had to take out a home equity loan to pay our taxes, so i TOTALLY understand!

      i’d totally let you do anything to my sight you want. even for MONEY!

    • Jennifer

      Two years ago when hubby was doing mostly all contract work and we weren’t paying taxes per paycheck we did an online tax program and found out we owed $12,000. I about had a heart attack and we held each other all night, haha. We ended up seeing a professional and he was able to bring that massive amount down considerably but it still hurt.

      I’m pretty sure we talk about money on a daily basis. We also talk about the dream of owning our own home. Not sure if it is possible for us in Socal. We’re trying to follow some sort of budget but it’s tough.

      I can relate to so much that you’ve shared. One difference for me is that I’m more in control of the money that hubby makes than he is. Sometimes it’s hard because I don’t know if I know what I’m doing. He trusts me with all our finances and self control is tough. We do communicate A LOT so neither of us goes over the deep end.

      I’m so glad you shared your feelings on this subject. Makes me feel more normal. Thank You and (((HUGS)))

    • Adam

      Did you not get my email about doing a graphic for my wife’s dog walking business? I realize now that at the time I had no idea you actually sold your work on a regular basis so I’m sorry if I phrased my email in a way that offended you… But I’m still interested. :)

    • Jen

      It takes a lot of courage to write about this sort of thing. You are such a great mom to BB and wife to Toby, it’s great that the two of you can communicate about this kind of thing. I can relate re: the magical Target store shopping experience (except my downfall is Wal-Mart; I find it helps to go with a list and not deviate from it). Also, when I noticed that the money I had in my wallet at the beginning of the week had all magically turned into lattes by Friday, I tried limiting my Starbucks intake – I now barely ever drink the stuff. I’ve bought from your Cafepress store just recently and I think you’re definitely justified in raising your prices by a dollar or two, the price I paid was very reasonable. Good luck and lots of hugs.

    • andrea from the fishbowl

      This is a tough one. Back in February I did a month of “unshopping.” That is, not buying those extra cute things we didn’t need. I found it easiest to avoid shopping altogether, and strictly limiting myself to the food aisle. Sometimes it was pretty tough, especially when faced with a good sale. But it is possible. I have to ask myself: do we really need that? If not, I don’t buy it. Tax time is coming for us, and I’m back to not-shopping for awhile. Minus, of course, the ten bucks I spent on Easter Peeps for the Peeptastic Photo Challenge yesterday. (I hope you’re going to participate!)

    • andrea

      As everyone else has said, don’t give up all your mad money. I know how happy that cute seasonal t-shirt for the baby can make me in the midst of cleaning supply shopping. It really sounds like you know what you need to do and now that you’ve had a wake up call with the taxes you are on the right path. Being self employed is a bitch come tax season. We had a reality check mid year and had to get our lives back in shape. We’d been freely spending most of our freelance earnings without setting much, if any, aside. We still owed a ton, but luckily had put some $$ aside to cover it.

      You are so talented. Don’t get yourself down about losing a client. You are a busy woman these days with the darling BB. I am guessing you have a lot of people here in blogville who would happily pay for your banners and other design work.

      Good Luck!

    • Sam

      This is a hard lesson to learn, and we’re in the midst of learning it, too. Having a kid makes you think about money in a different way. I agree with everyone – you’ve got to have SOME money to play with, or else you’ll feel deprived, because I know I do – and I know how fast money can go in Target! :) I seriously would pay for a banner made by you -my banners have always been made by a friend and I love them but I hate to ask for another one- you know, nothing outrageous, but something for your “fun” fund. You are so talented and need to use your gifts!

    • jeanetta darley

      isnt it amazing how merchandise comes to life when we shop and just jumps in our cart screaming “you need me! you really need me!” many a time the one or 2 items i thought i could pick up for the fiver in my wallet expands into more that forces me to pull out the plastic.

    • jd

      Even though I’m at a financially secure stage in my life, I still do all my just-for-fun kids shopping at Goodwill. Huge aisles of stuffed animals and playskool and leggos and fun raincoats and cute handmade sweaters, all for a buck or two. Some GooGone and a trip through the dishwasher takes care of the plastics, and the washing machine handles the rest. Then, when the stuff has outlived its usefulness, back it goes to the Goodwill — it’s much easier to part with a cute toy that you didn’t pay 15 bucks for. It’s fun to take kids there as well. They think it’s kid paradise — all those toys! and nothing in wrappers! Plus, you never can guess what they’ll glom onto — my youngest formed a lasting relationship with a giant stuffed lobster that she still totes around a few years later. Also key is to find one that’s close to a “good” neighborhood with lots of disposable income (and thus lots of disposed-of stuff) — shouldn’t be too hard in the OC.

    • sarah

      kudos to you and being so candid about your money worries! i am completely in the same boat with you…trying to save for a house and all that. my downfall is wanting cute things for my (rented) home…do i get it for my future home and be able to make my present home comfy and livable, or do i scrap it altogether and save the money for that future home? (i know what the answer SHOULD be, but it doesn’t always end up that way!) AND to add onto jd’s idea about goodwill–at least in michigan (and maybe in CA too) target donates merchandise to goodwill, so you can find stuff from there STILL IN THE PACKAGE! look for a goodwill near a target store. there you go…target stuff, saving money, giving to charity–all in one! good luck!

    • betsy

      “Frankly, I’m just not as capable as I used to be pre-baby. I hate admitting that but it’s true. ….. However, I’m not ready to take any more time away from Baby Bug to be a better designer. ”

      This has been the story of my last 12 months. my boy is 15 months old; I went back to work (same part-time position, but with a new boss) this time last year. I just cannot make sense of this – was my brain damaged in the delivery?

      I finally realized that, before Ian, my job was by far the most fascinating thing in my life, and I could spend endless amounts of extra (unpaid) time researching, writing, having conversations about it…

      it’s pretty easy to excel at a 30-hour-a-week job when you’re spending 75 hours a week on it.

      So now I am trying to learn to prioritize (I never really had to before) and organize (ditto) and delegate (gah!)…and all this learning is significantly harder than the job itself. I know (on some level) that it’s good for me, and I do feel a sense of accomplishment.

      And exhaustion.

      So I totally feel for you.

    • Amy

      Keep working from home but remember to tuck some away for the tax man. SO important to have some ‘pin money’ as a stay/work at home mom, so important. Or, get Hubby to give you a weekly fun money budget. Why not? I did for years.

      I also kept the house clean, kids fed and happy. Food in the pantry and meals on the table. Unfortunately that paid not nearly as much as his job did (as in I made nothing, he made the big bucks). So to ease all the financial tension crap I took X amount of $$ out of our account weekly and spent it how I darn well pleased.

      Now the kids are older, all in school and I work outside the home. Enjoy the young years though, they go by fast! You are so fortunate to be able to stay home, but do NOT feel you are not contributing and do not deserve some $$ to call your own! (Besides, the average mom spends all her money on the house or kids anyway…_ I would never trade the years I spent home with my kids for anything.