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Budgets, Basketball and Champagne Cupcakes

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Good morning everyone. I hope you got a chance to enjoy the day yesterday. It’s amazing what a little nice weather can do for you spirit. And today should be nice, too. Although maybe not as warm, but why are we even complaining about temperatures in the 60’s?

Today we started something new on Today in Iowa. It’s called Financial Fridays and for the next month we are doing segments on financial related topics. Today we had Tom Coates from Consumer Credit of Des Moines talking about creating a budget. I know you’ve probably all seen the stories about how to make a budget and why it’s important, so we didn’t want to give you the same old information you’ve heard a thousand times. I mean, we all know having a budget is a good thing to do. So, we asked Tom a couple of tips that we could all use that will hopefully help us track our spending and keep a budget.

First, he said most people don’t think about allotting money each month for car and home maintenance. They also forget about budgeting gifts and aren’t honest about how much money they spend on eating out. I think eating out is the big budget killer. Before I had Evan, we used to do it all the time. And I am amazed by how much money we don’t spend now that we rarely eat out. I often joke that having a child actually saved us money!

Anyway, Tom also mentioned giving yourself an allowance for eating out and then putting the cash in an envelope. When the money is gone… you have to stay home. The point is that you shouldn’t cut it out all together… just monitor it.

We asked Megan Ruether to blog about her story this morning which dealt with eating out and saving money.

I wish I had a dime for every time I took my 2 year-old Alex out to eat, bought a kids meal only to watch the waiter take away a full plate. If I did, I would actually be able to afford to take him out to eat! I think most parents can relate to this. That’s why I think the Kid’s Eat Free section on the Des Moines Families website is so helpful. You can click on the day of the week you’ll be dining out, and it tells you what restaurants have deals. There are 19 places alone on Tuesday! The site is also nice because parents blog about experiences and fun places to go around Des Moines. My new goal is to plan ahead so I never have to pay for another kid meal again (or at least not very often!)

Here’s the website:

State Basketball
Drake is out of the Missouri Valley Tournament but UNI plays later today.
Meanwhile, Girls State Basketball is heating up. This morning we also aired a story from Elias Johnson about how schools playing in the tournament are now allowed to bring their pep band. It really creates a so-called “soundtrack” to the tournament and it also allows the school’s musicians to be a part of this exciting event.

Here is the recipe I promised. It’s nothing like the version you can buy at the famous Barbara’s Champagne Cakes, but it is good. I dedicate this to Jeriann because these were her favorite while she was pregnant.

Pink Champagne Cupcake Recipe

1 pkg. white cake mix

1 (3 1/2 oz.) pkg. vanilla pudding mix

1 c. vegetable or canola oil

3 eggs

1 c. champagne (the cheap pink kind works best)

Red food color (enough to make the batter light pink)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl and beat until blended. Then beat 4 minutes at low speed. Fill cupcake tins (greased or with a paper) 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 2o minutes or until browned on top. Mix a few drops of food color with a container of whipped cream. Frost. Devour!

Dancing with the Stars starts Monday. And I have a feeling this season will pick up a few more viewers from Iowa. Shawn Johnson is one of the contestants. I can’t wait to see her strut her stuff. And Pat told me she’s blogging out her experience for USA Today. Here’s a link. Good luck Shawn!

I have to say, I am ready for the weekend. This has been a crazy week and started off a little rough. On Monday, I was involved in my first serious car accident and it scared the living daylights out of me. I won’t bore you with all the details, but basically a driver pulled out in front of me while I was driving on Grand Ave. this week. I t-boned him going about 35 miles per hour. That doesn’t sound very fast, but when you are talking about two cars colliding at that speed, it’s not pretty. I am not sure yet if my car is totalled, but it did some major damage. Luckily the only injury I have is a mild case of whiplash. And thankfully Evan wasn’t with me at the time. And it not often he isn’t with me. The doctor gave me some pain relievers and a muscle relaxer for the pain. And, I don’t know if you have ever had a muscle relaxer, but I am not sure how you are supposed to function on them. I quickly realized that nighttime and muscle relaxers don’t mix. They started to work when I was giving Evan a bath. Eric had to take over and I literally had to crawl to my bedroom. I was out at 6:45 and could barely hear the alarm go off the next morning. Wow. At least I got a good night’s rest. And, I am thankful to be alive!

Hope you have a good weekend. See you Monday!