Month 3 of Our Journey to Become Debt Free: March 2013

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This is the fourth post in the Our Journey to Becoming Debt Free series. To read more of them, please visit this page

 

Let me start by saying that I am absolutely loving the feedback I am getting on this Our Journey to Becoming Debt Free series. It is great to think that I am inspiring someone else to tackle their own debt to better their life. I know several of you have even started using You Need A Budget. (If you use my referral link here, you’ll save $6!)

Like Dave Ramsey says, if we’ll live like no one else now, later we’ll live like no one else.

We’re a little bummed right now about our debt payoff though, to be honest. As I mentioned Monday, Lucas had an overnight hospital stay this past weekend. Obviously, I know that it was necessary.. but I feel so defeated. Who knows how many months the bill will add to our journey!  I just need to remember to be thankful that Clint has a job that provides such a great insurance plan. Help me remember that when I get the bill, please?

So, let’s talk about March. Here’s what we looked like at the end of February:

Total Debt Month Ending February 2013 Clint gets paid bi-weekly, so twice a year he gets 3 paychecks for me to budget towards one month, instead of the usual 2. March was one of those months for us which meant a nice Snowball.

I hit just a little bit under my $440 grocery budget in March, coming in at $438.42. Go me!

We used the rest of the tax refunds and some of the Snowball and made a $500.00 payment on the Chase. I also finally went to the doctor to have some stomach issues I’ve had going on for around 3 years looked into, so we had an extra $175 in co-pays.

After all of that, we still had another $515.74 to Snowball. But I’ll admit it, I was scared. The idea of throwing every extra penny to debt is hard for someone who has always tried to save, which is silly because what’s the point in building a savings account while you’re building debt on the other side of your finances.  But I was scared, so I held onto that $515.74 into the next month. Don’t worry though! We reaffirmed our plan in April and used every bit of it. Come back next week to read about that.

Do you have a “savings” and debt? Why not just put that savings onto your debt? What do you think about the concept?

 

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Brownie Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

Brownie Pumpkin Mousse Trifle Dessert Recipe
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Looks yummy doesn’t it? That’s because it is! I have been on a pumpkin kick lately, so this Brownie Pumpkin Mousse Trifle was heavenly. So good that I will probably be adding it to the Thanksgiving table this year.

As a matter of fact, this would be wonderful right about now. We’ve had a very long weekend. Yesterday, we went to a farm 2 hours away to get peanuts for a Boiled Peanut sale at our church’s Fall Festival today and to go to their Pumpkin Patch. Lucas wasn’t feeling very well, but we were hoping that getting out and about would make him feel a little better. He did do pretty good, until on the way home he started getting pretty fussy. He was sweating so I took his clothes off and noticed he was having retractions. I focused on his breathing and noticed he was struggling to breath. It got worse and worse and decided we were going straight to the Emergency Room at our local hospital, which was still about an hour away when we decided. I was a nervous wreck. He is fine though– it was Croup and after receiving lots of breathing treatments and staying overnight at the hospital, he is feeling much better. He scared his Mama to death though.

This Brownie Pumpkin Mousse Trifle would be a nice treat right now. It wasn’t very difficult to make either, but would be great for a party of get together. People are always so impressed with a trifle because of the presentation. A printable recipe is at the bottom of the post.

Pumpkin Trifle Recipe Brownie Cool Whip Mousse

Start with the brownies. You can make the boxed kind or homemade like these. I like to cut them into bite sized pieces. 

Pumpkin Trifle Recipe Brownies

Then, make your pumpkin mousse by combining ….. Be sure to only fold the whip cream in and not just mix it or the whip cream might fall.

Pumpkin Trifle Recipe Ingredients

Now all you have to do is layer. I always like to put my brownies in the bottom of my trifles, because I think it makes scooping it out easier. Next is the pumpkin mousse and then the Cool Whip.

Pumpkin Trifle Recipe Ingredient Layers

Make one more layer and drop some brownie crumbs on top and Voila!

Finished Brownie Pumpkin Mousse Trifle Recipe

Have you ever made a trifle? Will you be adding this Brownie Pumpkin Mousse Trifle to your Thanksgiving Menu this year? 

Brownie Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

Ingredients

1 box prepared brownies
1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 box French Vanilla instant pudding (3.4 oz)
1 container Cool Whip (16 oz)

Directions

  1. Cut prepared brownies into bite sized squares.
  2. Mix pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin puree and pudding until combined. Then fold in half of the Cool Whip.
  3. Arrange half of the brownies into the bottom of a trifle or large bowl. Then, add half of the Pumpkin Mousse mixture from step 2. Top that layer with half of the remaining Cool Whip.
  4. Use the remaining ingredients to make another layer. Use any crumbs from the brownie pan tp sprinkle across the top of the trifle. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or as long as overnight.

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Welcome Home Wednesdays

Pastor Appreciation Month & A Gift Idea

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Timothy 5-17

Did you know that October is Pastor Appreciation Month? October 13 was also Pastor Appreciation Day. Have you done anything special for your pastor to show your appreciation?

We are extremely thankful that we have a Pastor at our church that is definitely “worthy of double honor”. Clint and I went through a rough patch a few years ago and he helped us through it and we will be eternally grateful to God for placing him in our lives when he did. Sometimes I wonder, what if he hadn’t been the pastor at our church at that time?

Besides that though, he and his wife are great friends to us. We both know that if we have something we are struggling with we can pick up our phones and call or text them and they’ll be there for us.

We’ve always wanted to do something special for him but have sort of never gotten around to it. We’ve thrown ideas around and that’s been the end of it. Recently, since he is human, I felt like maybe he needed a little encouragement and to know how much our family appreciates all that he does. I decided I was going to make him…something. I just wasn’t sure what. I headed to Mr. Google and searched Pastor Appreciation Day and to my surprise it was October 13. What perfect timing, right?

So I started brainstorming and knew I wanted to make something out of wood. I know he used to be some kind of Forestry guy, so it just seemed fitting. I thought a wall plaque or maybe something he could put on his bookshelf in his office would be best. I text his wife and asked her what some of his favorite verses were and she thought it was a great idea.

I hadn’t thought of anything besides that something planked would be cool. I had planned to make a trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s closer to time and pick up some wood for Clint to cut down for me. Then, I was driving home one day and saw a crib all busted up outside of a storage unit. I jumped out and took a side of it–perfect sized slats! Clint sanded the finish off of the next day and then cut them off.

Slats Collage

Then I mixed up some different paint colors I liked and added some water to thin it out and put it on each slat. I didn’t like the first color, but I did like that each slat was a little different.

Slats Painted

So I mixed up more paint and went over them again. I really don’t think it was possible to mess this up, just keep painting over it until you kind of like what you have. Here’s the consistency with the water added.

Paint Consistency

After they were dry, I laid them out the way I wanted (upside down) and glued 3 staggered slats onto the back. Sorry– I forgot to take pics of that part. Hopefully you understand what I’m saying. I didn’t have any screws short enough so we were going to just glue it and get some screws later. I left that over night to dry.

The next day, I grabbed an ugly old paint brush and barely dabbed the bristles in white paint and brushed them across the front of the slats, parallel to them. I loved the way it looked so I kept going. Here is the design I made for the verse we chose of his favorites:

Verse Design

I printed that out on transparency paper and used an overhead projector to project the design onto the plaque on the wall. Impatiently, I used a pencil and traced the outline of every single letter.

Transparency Trace

Last, I used a little brush like this and black paint to fill in all of the letters 2 or 3 times.

Paintbrush

It was EXTREMELY sturdy after we were done, so we decided against the screws. We were very pleased with the finished product and our Pastor seemed to be really pleased too. Here is the photo he posted to Facebook. 🙂

Robby's Picture of Plaque

Have you ever considered that your Pastor is human and probably needs encouragement, just like we do? Have you done anything special to make you Pastor feel appreciated this month? 

Month 2 of Our Journey to Become Debt Free: February 2013

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This is the third post of the Becoming Debt Free Series. If you’ve missed any of them, you can find them here.

 

Happy Wednesday!

In February, the pace started to pick up a bit. It was so exciting!

Although we made small payments on both credit cards and payments on the car notes, our total went up from January to February because of debt charged to the credit cards and interest charges. Here’s where we stood at the end of January:

Total Debt Month Ending January 2013

First things first, since we were without living room furniture, I scoured Craigslist every day for a leather living room set. Leather seemed like it would hold up better than the microfiber we previously had with a new baby in the house. I did not want to spend over $400 though, and I did not want furniture someone left outside for their cats to scratch up, so my options were limited in that price range. Finally, I came across a nice set for $250 and it included a nice big glass coffee table. I wasn’t actually interested in the coffee table but I knew I could resell it and I did, for $80. I basically got our new living room set for $170 and I had sold the other set for $600. Not too bad, huh?

We both got our W2’s at the end of January and I completed our tax returns. Since we had Lucas last year, our tax liability had gone way down so we were set to get back $2,774 from federal and $1,136 from state. Right after I filed our taxes, I estimated what our tax liability would be for the next year and we immediately adjusted our withholdings to have less tax taken out of our paychecks. I mean, of course it’s nice to get $3,910 all at once. But can you imagine having another $325 each month throughout the year to pay on debt?

Another big thing in February was our garage sale. As I said in my last debt series post, we had gone through the house and rounded up anything and everything that we did not need or use so it was a pretty good garage sale. Lots of waffle makers and dishes. I can’t remember the exact number, but we made between $300 and $400. $220 of that went directly into our BEF, which completed Baby Step 1.

Now that our BEF was complete (such a great feeling), we could move onto Baby Step 2: Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball. By all debt, Dave Ramsey means everything but your mortgage. The idea here is to pay off all of your debt from the smallest balance to the largest balance. I know it’s weird, but we didn’t take any interest rates into consideration. Dave Ramsey says that 80% of debt payoff is behavior and I completely believe that. You want to pay off your smallest debts first so that you build up motivation and momentum and get excited about paying off debt.

Using our newly scrutinized budget created in Baby Step 0.3 and entered into our handy dandy YNAB software, we knew that we should be able to use our “extra” $45 every month to go towards our Snowball. We knew $45 wasn’t much though but we were working on cutting other items in our budget. We were realistic in our budgeting though, we knew there was no point budgeting $300 for groceries if we knew we were really going to spend $500. Our grocery budget was one of the biggest ones we needed to cut. In 2012, I spent anywhere from $500 to $800 a month of groceries. That is WAY too much for 2 people. In February, I got it down to $473.37. Go me!

Another thing we considered was that once we did pay off some of the different debts that it would free up those monthly payments we were making on them and that money would be available for the Snowball. Oh, and February was our first month without a Cable bill. I did not miss spending that $50 one bit.

When our tax refunds came in, we paid off the American Express and Lucas’ surgery, which were our two lowest debts. We also made a $70 payment and redeemed $25.35 in reward points towards the Chase. It felt amazing!!

Do you get a large tax refund every year? Do you use it to pay off debts or in a needed area?

 

I hope you’ll be back next week as I share our March 2013 report in Our Journey to Become Debt Free.

This post contains affiliate links. 

Crockpot Pumpkin (Apple) Butter

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I love Fall! It’s my absolute favorite time of the year. I just love cooler weather. It’s also the season that my birthday falls in, as well as Lucas’ and Clint’s. My birthday was yesterday and Clint’s is the 29th. For our birthdays, we decided we wanted to go to eat breakfast in New Orleans and to the zoo with Clint’s parents so we went Saturday and the weather was great. Well, it rained all morning but by noon it cleared out and the temperature was great. Lucas really seemed to enjoy it and we all had a great time.

zoo

Another reason I love Fall is the food. Thanksgiving’s my favorite holiday. No– really. To welcome the cooler weather (and hope that it sticks around) Shaye and I made some Pumpkin Butter. Well, it was going to just be Pumpkin Butter but I had 2 apples in the fridge I hadn’t done anything with so we decided to throw those in there too.  The results = amazing!

I love getting Raisin Toast at Waffle House and putting Apple Butter on it. Apple Butter ain’t got nothing on this Pumpkin (Apple) Butter. If I would have known it was this easy to make, I would have made it years ago. Besides, I love eating Raisin Toast. It brings back memories of my Memaw, who also loved Raisin Toast.

Crockpot Pumpkin Butter (w/ Apple)

1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)

2 apples, cored and diced

1/4 cup apple or white grape juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar (or you can just do all white, your choice)

1-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

 

Combine all of the ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 5 hours.

Pumpkin Butter recipe

The diced apple will still be chunky, but soft. If you want it chunky, you could eat it as is. I wanted mine smoother though, so we pureed it in the blender.

blender

This can be stored for 2 months in the fridge or frozen for up to 6 months. I’ve stored mine in [amazon-product text=”Pyrex storage bowls” type=”text”]B0000CFTB0[/amazon-product] and would recommend something like that. If you freeze, be sure to only fill it 3/4 full since things expand when frozen.

You can also leave out the apples, but I would up the juice to 1/2 cup if you do that.

I think I may make a large batch and freeze some in [amazon-product text=”Ball Wide Mouth Mason Jars” type=”text”]B005T6FBOK[/amazon-product]  so I can make it once and enjoy it all year long. I’ve only had it on my Raisin Toast so far, but I want to try it on waffles, pancakes, french toast, and in my yogurt… and on anything else that I can think of that sounds reasonable.

finished  

Do you like apple butter? What about pumpkin? Then what are you waiting for?! Go make this and please report back to me about how amazing it is. 

 
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The Mother of All Meltdowns Review and Giveaway

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I cannot wait to share this sponsored post with you! When the writers of
The Mother of All Meltdowns asked me to share about their new book, I was so excited because it sounded like a good read for you and me!

But let me tell ya,–it’s even better.

No, really. It may even make you feel like a better mother. How?

Well…

Because you’ll realize that the insanely over-dramatic meltdown you had a few days ago- yeah the one that involved poop .. everywhere- was just part of being a Mama.

And in case you’re still in denial: meltdown

Are we on the same page now? Thought so.

In The Mother of All Meltdowns, thirty women share:

Real Stories of Moms’ Finest (Worst, Completely Awful) Moments

resulting from anything and everything but all ending in the one.. The Mother of All Meltdowns. Whether it be from that first positive pregnancy test (because you know you actually took 7 more) like Danielle Herzog at Martinis and Minivans; unwelcome vacation guests like Jennifer West at PinkWhen; stranger’s UNwelcome parenting advice like Debra Cole at Urban Moo Cow or from poop .. everywhere like Natasha Peter at Epic Mommy Adventures. Come to think of it, why does parenting involve so much POOP!?

I really did enjoy this book. I laughed and cried throughout the entire thing. And it’s the perfect read for a busy Mama because each story is only a few pages long, so if you only have the 5 minutes while sitting in the waiting room at the Doctor’s office, you can actually get through one Mama’s entire meltdown.

And it was encouraging. Sure Lucas is only 1 right now, but I have read (and laughed at) several other Mamas worst moments and can somewhat expect some of the completely awful events that could lead to my mother of all meltdowns someday. The book even includes tips on how to make it through meltdowns!

Sounds like something you’d want to read, doesn’t it? Well you’re in luck, I’m giving away two copies to two lucky NYMM readers. Entry below.

If you don’t want a free copy or are too anxious to wait, you can also buy your own copy of The Mother of All Meltdowns, either the paperback here or the Kindle version here.

Leave a comment and share your mother of all meltdowns!

Congratulations Rachael M. & Stephanie B. for each winning a copy of The Mother of All Meltdowns!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Month 1 of Our Journey to Become Debt Free {January 2013}

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This is the second post of the Becoming Debt-Free Series. If you’ve missed any of them, you can find them here.

I think people need goals in life. Our goal is for me to be a SAHM. After I finished reading [amazon-product text=”The Total Money Makeover” type=”text”]159555078X[/amazon-product], in December of 2012, Clint and I agreed to start Dave Ramsey’s program at the beginning of the new year.  At the end of 2012, we had $26,652.92 in debt, not including our mortgage.

That’s almost $30,000!

Here’s the breakdown:

2012

Dave Ramsey’s program is broken into Baby Steps. There are actually 7 primary Baby Steps, the first of which is to save and set aside a $1,000 Baby Emergency Fund. Before we could do that though, there were a few other things we had to tend to. The baby steps can be further expanded upon, and these are the pre-Step 1’s:

pre-step1

Most of these we already had covered before starting. We did lower our retirement contributions, but did not stop them and we did cut cable and have cut down on all of the extras like eating out and buying nice gifts for each other at holidays. Yes, I said it, we cut our cable off – and we love it!

We worked on completing Baby Step 1 in January so it wasn’t a big month in terms of paying down debt, but it was huge for us because it was the first month that we really and truly focused on where our money was going.  I’ve always been a budget fanatic and had a frugal mentality to some extent, but I’m also impulsive and impatient, as is Clint. When we want something, we get it. So in January, we really tried to not give in to those emotions and only spend the money we actually had and was budgeted.

We didn’t do great, we still created more debt. It’s really hard when you are used to spending money and living above your means, to just stop. We added another $595.30 in charges to our credit cards in January.

We definitely did not beat ourselves up, though. We were getting things in order, we were learning to live within our means, and it would take some time—we accepted that. Although we did charge some things to credit cards, we were busy busy making cash to fund our $1,000 Baby Emergency Fund, or BEF for short. Here’s what we did:

  • Set aside a measly $40 from the budget
  • Sold a name brand purse for $40
  • Sold a gaming system for $50
  • Sold our living room furniture for $600
  • Sold a dining room table for $30
  • Sold a wicker chair for $20

This brought our BEF to a total of $780, only $220 more to go.

At this point we had a bean bag and rocking chair in the living room as our furniture to watch our Netflix and Hulu since we had no cable. We were also going through the house rounding up anything and everything that we didn’t need or use to be sold in the Garage Sale we were having in February. Things were starting to get fun!

I hope you’ll be back each Wednesday to see the progress we’ve made this year. If you’re interested in learning more about Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, check out [amazon-product text=”The Total Money Makeover” type=”text”]159555078X[/amazon-product]. Are you ready to become debt free? What is your goal or motivation to do it?

 

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