Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The power of the sun!

Oh my goodness! It has been a long 10 days! Dre and I have been looking for our first house as our rent is way too expensive for us ($1,750/month) now that we're on "month to month" instead of a lease. Yeah - it's the complete opposite of what would be the financially sound thing to do.

The reason we're going month to month was because a few months ago, his grandmother offered to gift us a down payment for our first house as a wedding gift and we expected to be in a house months ago. Unfortunately, what was supposedly a gift has now become a huge burden for us. This "gift" is now dependent on whether she likes the house, if she would live in it, etc. We've gone through multiple real estate agents already because they just can't put up with her. (I forgot to add I think she has undiagnosed narcissistic personality disorder, which is common with people with NPD.) Things have gotten so out of control with her that I've told Dre that under no circumstances will I be visiting her regardless of the occasion and that I'd rather forgo this "gift" than be around her even though we can't buy a house without it. We just don't have that sort of money right now. Luckily, I'm not the only person in the family who feels this way toward her and I happen to have two fabulous future mother in laws - my fiance's mom and his step mom to go to for support. It's not often you get two mother in laws and it's really not often that you actually like them!

Anyway, for money saving tips, I'll tell you about this house that my fiance and I really wanted to buy (his grandma said no dice to getting this "gift" of a down payment if we pick it out because she said it's a cheap piece of junk...{???}) This house isn't completely finished being built yet. It's slightly over 1,800 sq. ft, $253,000, 3 stories (it's a bonus room + full bathroom on the third story) and... the entire community is completely solar powered! This house has the largest lot of all the houses (they have zero lot lines unfortunately) so it has a tiny back yard and the front door opens up to the gigantic park in the neighborhood.

With the first time home buyer credit + new house credit + solar energy credit, we would get $20,000 in credits for our taxes! As well, because everything is solar powered, PG&E buys excess solar energy to the tune of $600 a month. Yep, we'd be getting a $600 check from the electric company every single month (It's sunny year round and they have it set up where no trees or anything will even be close to casting any shadows on the panels.) We could use that check toward our savings, my fiance's debt or our mortgage!

Unfortunately, we're not getting the house (I'm sure something better will come along.) but granite is standard, security systems + free monitoring is standard as are Bosch appliances. It's so cute but hopefully we'll find a place with a nice big backyard so we can save some real money through our grocery bills, rain water collection system and (I know this sounds gross) composting toilets.

More to come shortly!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Want to get pearly white teeth without the chemicals?

Growing up, I had the worst teeth. By the time I was two years old, I had had 18 ear infections (according to my parents.) I was on antibiotics the entire time and unfortunately, when taking a whole lot of Amoxicilin, my teeth had weird discoloration and came in quite crooked.

When I was in middle school, I was in braces for two years. Unfortunately for me, I followed my orthodontist's orders to a T and over corrected my teeth by wearing my bands 24/7 (apparently they double the time because they think kids will only do it half the time.) so that ended up keeping me in braces even longer. Fabulous.

When I was very small, my parents would brush our teeth and what I remember most is how much the toothpaste burnt. Maybe I was just extra sensitive to the mint flavoring but I hated it. I didn't care for the kid flavored toothpastes either. As I got older, I never felt like my teeth were getting very clean. I flossed, I scrubbed, I bleached, I scraped and brushed everything. Every time I'd go to get my teeth cleaned at the dentist's, I'd hear the same thing - you need to floss more. You need to brush 9 zillion times a day. Blah, blah, blah. I had plaque build up even though I was brushing twice or more a day - I kept my toothbrush and toothpaste in my backpack so I could even brush at school and nothing helped.

A while back, I stumbled upon an article about the dangers of fluoridation. I decided to completely cut out toothpaste with any fluoride in them. I went to the store and tried all the fluoride free toothpaste - NOW's Xyliwhite, Burt's Bees (owned by Clorox) Lavender Mint Toothpaste, Tom's of Maine (owned by Colgate-Palmolive), a few others and some sort of German toothpaste I got at Whole Foods (I used to work there.) None of them really worked at all and I always felt like I had nasty breath. It wasn't very refreshing. The German toothpaste was the worst - I couldn't read it as it was all in German but it used some sort of alternative to whatever chemicals are in regular toothpaste. When I went to my dentist, he told me to stop using it because it was eating my tooth enamel away. Great...

I was on a search for something that didn't have a bazillion chemicals in it. What's a better way to control what's in your product than to make it yourself? I went online and started searching. After awhile, I played around until I got the amounts I like just right. Here's my recipe for whitening toothpaste which you can also find on my Recipezaar account:

8 tablespoons baking soda
8 tablespoons sea salt, not iodized
20 drops orange blossom essential oils

1. Mix ingredients in a glass jar.
2. Dip damp toothbrush into mixture and brush your teeth for 2 minutes.
3. Rinse.

Honestly, this is something you can make with ingredients from around your house for just pennies. That's a lot better than the Crest you buy at the store. It's so affordable you can make a jar for each member of the family so you don't have to double dip after each other. I've been using this for two months and my teeth always feel clean, like I just got them done at the dentist! They are also noticibly whiter!
Cost: x<$1
Saved: $3+

Try it some time!


Let us begin!

Well, it looks like I need to get this show on the road. I started this thing more than 10 days ago and not one post! Eeek! Maybe I should start off with telling you a little about myself.

Well, I go by Bella (I actually respond to both my birth name and my nickname) and I'm 21, going on 22 at the end of September. I live with my fiance Dre and our two chihuahuas, Maximus and Tiberius, and our two black cats, Furball and Sophronia. Guess which three Dre got after we got engaged? (Hint: the ones with non-animal names.) Actually, with the exception of 4 year old Furball, all of our animals are less than a year old. It's a lot of mouths to feed and there's a lot of animals that need house training! (That's Sophronia, Maximus and Tiberius in the tub.)

Dre and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and we're in the middle of trying to purchase a house a little farther north of us, still in the bay, but in a big farming community. We have a nice big chunk of down payment and an approved loan - we just can't find a house! We've put in offers on three houses so far and have been the second highest bidder on them all! It's awful! Currently we live in a two bedroom apartment and it's getting very cramped.

Our main reason for wanting a house is so that we can have a nice big backyard. Maybe I'm asking for the moon, but I want to grow the majority of our food. I'm very into eating fresh food and staying away from processed muck. I gained a bunch of weight when I went off to college in the midwest and it's been beastly trying to get back down to my high school body. My diet follows the Primal Blueprint (Marksdailyapple.com) with a lot of raw, vegan (tons of fresh fruits and veggies) thrown in. It's fabulous - but expensive! Gardening is by far the cheapest way to grow your own organic food - the next is going directly to the farm or farmer's market.

Because I'm detoxing (there is no "end" to this way of eating) I'm cleaning up everything in our lives - household cleaners, body cleaners, pet food, transportation, food, water, everything. Beside the benefit to our bodies, our wallet isn't so darn skinny anymore!

Basically, that's why I wanted to start this blog - to share how to live the good life (a healthy life!) cheap. Hope you enjoy today's short little post (the one I'm about to post - the teeth one!)


Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Hi! I'm Bella and welcome to The Little Budget. I'm starting this site as a means to document and share my ways of saving money for everything that comes up in life. As my life progresses, so will this blog.

I'm going to start out with having a great wedding on a shoe string budget ($2,000) because that's where I am at this point in my life. Check back as I update as not everything will be weddings (we're buying a house right now, going to plant a garden, friends and family are having babies, etc.)

Well, I hope you enjoy as I start out!