Month 13 of Our Journey to Become Debt Free: January 2014

Month 13 of Our Journey to Become Debt Free January 2014
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This post is part of Our Journey to Become Debt Free series. To see the others, please click here
Hello February! 2013 went quick and 2014 is already flying. January was one of those 3 paycheck months for Clint so it looked very good for our Snowballing efforts. We did a decent job overall though.

Here is where we stand on our monthly Snowball totals:

Monthly Snowball Totals

And here are our debt balances:

Debt Balances through January 2014

As you can see, we paid $1,199.07 on the Civic in January. We’re now at 64% of our debt being paid off. Of course, things will slow down now that my income is only going to be half of what it has been.

We came in at $402.57 for the month in Groceries, which is great at right around our $400 budget. We did go $110 total over in eating out, clothing, entertainment and blow money. We did eat out 5 times though so that blew our Eating Out budget by $50 right there. In my defense, one of the meals would have been $25 less, but we had a gift card/coupon error. The other $60 worth was a new to me jacket that I absolutely needed, a Mickey Mouse chair for Lucas, and my first haircut in 18 months. Of course, I can justify almost ever penny of what we “go over”, but I really can’t do that starting NOW.

Speaking of justifying, our weekend trip came in at $570.90. Not bad for staying 2 nights in one of the highest reviewed bed & breakfasts around us.

Other than that, we’re just trucking along here. I’m pretty anxious about the finances right now, since I am starting my new job today. Going from full time income to part time income is scary. I know that He will provide and things will work out one way or another, but I’m still going to be anxious until I get used to things. We are going to have about $800 less a month in income…scary!

How was January on your finances? Have you started your journey to become debt free yet? Any words of wisdom to share with me about my anxiety over finances? 

 

Month 10 of Our Journey to Become Debt Free: October 2013

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This is the 11th post in Our Journey to Become Debt Free. To read the others, click here.

Oh October! October was a very spendy-rific month. You get to the end of the year and just lose sight, I guess. We are inching closer and closer to becoming debt free though, so I just need to look at it that way. 🙂

Here is where we stood at the end of September:

Totals as of October 2013

And here are our monthly snowball totals:

Monthly through September 2013

 

Let’s start with groceries, they were a whopping $769.63. Maybe it was another of those months where we ran out of everything? I really don’t know why but that’s crazy high. I do know that October is the month that Lucas stopped nursing. {insert Mama tears here} He seemed less and less interested and got more and more teeth and it would take some adjusting for him to get used to the new teeth when hey started to come through. Then, he got sick over and over again and he bit me two days in a row and then just wouldn’t latch anymore. It was really bittersweet. I hadn’t gotten to that, “I want my body back” phase. I still enjoyed the closeness tremendously and having him slow down long enough to snuggle and nurse. Now he’s too busy to slow down for anything. Haha!

My point is, I think that could have brought the groceries up a tad because we started weaning him to whole milk and buying a few more grocery items for him. Not $370 worth though.

October was the month that Lucas was sick several times so we had a couple of co-pays and prescription costs and then at the end of October he was hospitalized overnight for Croup. I got worried about the hospital bill and how much it would be, so I didn’t snowball at the the end the month whatever was left like I normally do.

Which means, we only made an extra $137.50 on top of regular monthly payments for our Snowball. We carried over $430.53 to November though.

That’s it folks! Only 2 more weeks left and then we will be caught up and you’ll get to see if we are going to actually be able to pay off the CR-V by the end of the year. The rest of the year has a lot of spending going on so I’m hoping and praying. Be sure to check back next week for November’s post 😉

Oh, and don’t forgot to like me on Facebook or Subscribe for future posts.

How are your holiday preparations going? Is everything ready for Christmas at your house?

 

Linked up at Living Well Spending Less’ Thrifty Thursday.

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. 

Yes, I Cloth Diaper (Part 3)

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Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

So here it is, the final post to wrap up Yes, I Cloth Diaper. If you missed any, you can see them all here.

Around the time Lucas was 6 months old, I bought more prefolds. They are actually the same size as the Orange edged ones, just wider, which makes them easier to wrap around him. We use them under a [amazon-product text=”Flip Diaper Cover” type=”text”]B00469ZSTO[/amazon-product] most of the time.

alldiapers

I also bought some more pockets to give them a try. I got a really good deal on some used Alva pockets from a local Mama and I recently bought some used Fuzzibunz from another mama. The microfiber inserts that come with pocket diapers just stink, in my opinion. I can’t stand smelling them, so we’ve been stuffing the pockets with the Orange edge prefolds, which fit perfectly. This works really well for us, and is our preferred diaper choice overall.

And here’s the big one… our nighttime solution. When Lucas was younger, just a prefold and cover were fine. Then he started sleeping longer and wetting more and that just would not hold all of it in. We experimented with a few of the diapers we had and then we broke down and bought some nighttime disposables. Those worked most nights, although, sometimes he still leaked out of those. I hated using them though and the smell of them seriously grosses this Mama out! So I started looking around for a cloth nighttime solution. I know wool is very popular, but I was intimidated by it because I had never researched it at all and just assumed it was difficult.

But finally, I looked into wool and it really isn’t all that hard. You just use a diaper of your choice, we like pockets, under a wool cover. If the inside diaper leaks, the wool cover will absorb 30% of its weight in liquid before it starts to leak. Wool is naturally antibacterial so it doesn’t need to be washed after every use, either. And don’t worry if it smells when you first take it off of the babe. Once it dries up, the smell just evaporates.

wool

When you first get a wool diaper, you prep it by washing it in the bathroom sink with wool wash and then you lanolize it with lanolin, or nipple cream as we call it in our house, in the sink and then let it dry for 24 hours and then you just do the same thing once a month or when the diaper starts to hold a smell or leak. Wool can be very expensive, to the tune of $50 or more a cover, but being my thrifty self, I bought two that were upcycled out of old wool sweaters and made by mamas for around $5 each. The maroon one is a little more fuzzy and thicker than the blue, so it works better at night for us. We are loving wool.

Ok, ok – let’s talk about the dirty word – POOP. What do we do with it? Well, we flush it down the toilet where it belongs, of course.

pail

We have two separate spots for dirty diapers in Lucas’ room. One is a pail that is a regular kitchen sized trash can with a trash bag in it. Then we put a [amazon-product text=”Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liner (Hedgehog)” type=”text”]B00A3V33TQ[/amazon-product]in it. The trash bag is to try and keep smells from soaking into the plastic trash can. This pail is for dirty prefolds, which is all cotton. We also keep a [amazon-product text=”Planet Wise Wet Bag” type=”text”]B00A3URYFG[/amazon-product], which is only for covers and the pocket shells.

I separate them because I wash them separately and I don’t want to have to sort through dirty diapers on laundry day.

When Lucas has a dirty diaper, we dump any solids in the toilet and spray it with a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet and the cover/pocket shell and prefold in their respective wetbag. That may sound nasty to you, but consider this: any time Lucas poops in a disposable, it goes everywhere! To compare, he has only had 1 or 2 blowouts wearing cloth.

[amazon-product alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″]B0041287A8[/amazon-product]

We try to wash laundry every other day or the diapers do start to stink. The prefolds get bleached with a second rinse and dried regular and all of the covers and pocket shells just get laundry soap and a dry on medium heat.

pockets

I love cloth diapers. I know that we are saving so much money and I just generally like them. They feel so much better against my skin than a disposable does, so I’m sure they feel much better on Lucas’ sensitive little bottom.

Would you consider using cloth diapers? Or if someone else would have done the research for you, would you have considered it? What is holding you back?

Introduction to The Journey We’re On {Becoming Debt Free}

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This is the first post of The Journey We’re On {Becoming Debt Free} series. To see all posts in this series click here.  

In January of 2012, Clint and I found out that we were pregnant. We were ecstatic! Our original plan was to get pregnant around June or so, but God had other plans for us I suppose. Since we were planning to get pregnant, we were putting a little money aside in preparation, but not much. So with my excitement, came anxiety.

We started putting aside another $300-$400 each month, which was to pay medical bills and buy all the baby things we would need. Eventually, we needed more than we were saving, so we put a little on credit cards. When we decided to transfer our care to a midwife at the very end of the pregnancy though, we had to pay her immediately, so that also went on a credit card. Then, as we added a new member to our family, we had also added several thousands in credit card debt.

But let me back up a little. When I did finally decide that I did want to have children and Clint and I decided that getting pregnant during the Summer of 2012 was a good time, we also discussed me being a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). If I was going to have children, I wanted to be home with them to raise them myself. I know not everyone thinks that way, and of course, I’m not knocking anyone for the way they do things… but that’s what we wanted.

Once we got the surprise positive on the pregnancy test, I stopped dreaming about being a SAHM and started looking into an affordable childcare option. I mean, we have car payments and a mortgage to pay and my salary helps pay them.

At the end of 2012, when Lucas was a few months old, Clint got tired of hearing me complain about being a WOHM (Work Out of Home Mom) asked me what it would really take for me to stay home. I started researching and making spreadsheets like crazy and really cracking down on our budget. Our budgeting software, You Need A Budget (YNAB) was extremely helpful for this! Click on this link for a $6 discount on the YNAB software.

It was during this time, that I found Dave Ramsey. After researching Dave Ramsey’s steps a little, I read his book [amazon-product text=”The Total Money Makeover” type=”text”]1595555277[/amazon-product], which I absolutely recommend.

[amazon-product align=”center” alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″]1595555277[/amazon-product]This is when I had my epiphany: I was never going to be a SAHM with all of the medical bills, credit card debt and car loans we had accumulated. Clint wasn’t sold on it at first, but has definitely come around. We’re not super strict DR (Dave Ramsey) followers but we do apply several of his principals and terminology to what we do.

Since January of 2013, we have sold a car, bought an older car, sold half of our furniture, bought cheaper furniture, and sold off almost every single thing in our house that is not used on a regular basis and paid off a large chunk of debt!

paidoff

Over the next several weeks, in this series, I am going to share (in detail) exactly what we’ve done financially and how we’ve accomplished it. Since we aren’t yet debt-free, I will also post a ‘progress report’ at the beginning of each month showing you what kind of progress we made for the month prior. If you don’t want to miss then, be sure to Subscribe and they will be delivered straight to your Inbox!

Paying off our debt is extremely important to us so I hope you’ll join us in our journey to become debt-free (and a SAHM, for me).

Go ahead and order your copy of [amazon-product text=”The Total Money Makeover” type=”text”]1595555277[/amazon-product], and meet me back here next week for a recap of January 2013.Yes, I am going to be as transparent as possible and include our actual debt numbers, not fictitious numbers. Any questions for me before we get started?

 

This post contains affiliate links. 

My Thrifty Finds aka Poppin’ Tags

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I love a good bargain! I guess some people think it’s beneath them to buy stuff other people once used, but I love nothing more than to pay a fraction of the cost for a gently used item. For instance, look at those mint condition furry disco platform shoes my little sister is modeling. Who wouldn’t want those? You know, I wasn’t even raised this way either, I’ve only gotten so cheap thrifty in the last 10 years or so.

But in all seriousness, I did a little shopping this weekend and got some stuff I’m really excited to do some DIY crafty stuff with so I wanted to share. 🙂 First off, here is everything.

Everything

Oh come on, where’s your vision? It may all be ugly, boring and dirty now, but you just wait.

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Fabulous garland wrapped wreath (See what I did with it here) – $2.99

Lovely pink bathroom art framed picture – $1.49

Pink lily soap dispenser – $0.99

White wood plaque – $0.99

Plaque shaped mirror – $1.99

Black wood frame – $0.50

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Busted and disgusted cookie sheet – $0.35

Black Nautical framed art – $0.79

Extremely neat candle lantern – $1.99

Clint thinks the lantern is hideous, but with a fresh coat of spray paint, I think it will be that thing everyone picks and says, “ooh this is neat.” Only time will tell.

right

Pepto Bismol framed bathroom art – $5.00

Huge brassy lamp – $2.99

Large storage tupperwares – $1.50

I loved the large frame. At my Goodwill, a framed piece of art that big would run me about $30 so I snatched that up quick when I saw it at a church’s garage sale. The tupperwares aren’t going to actually be a craft project, but I’m just so excited to have more of these. I love those things!

And last but not least, my second most favorite thing (the lantern is my first), my new entertainment center/TV stand.

buffet

It’s not exactly cute right now, but I am thrilled with this purchase. I’ve been searching around for a dresser or buffet to serve as our new TV stand. Everything that I’ve been able to find is about $150-$200 though, which is out of my budget for an ugly piece of furniture that I have to put blood, sweat and tears into. This buffet was at Goodwill for $50! It also had a glass hutch to go on top. I didn’t want it so I re-donated it back to them, I guess you could say. It’s not all real wood, but Lucas’ dresser was less real wood than this and is holding up great from me painting it, so I’m really excited. Here’s another shot of the doors..

detail

I love it! Now I just have to decide on a paint color. Our walls are tan, couches are cream and I plan to incorporate a Robin’s Egg Blue and Muted Yellow in the room. Our floors are pretty close to the color of the buffet now, but a little more red, since they’re Cherry. Color ideas? Clint said blue and then a coat of white chalk paint on top and rough it up. Whatever we decide, I’ll definitely show you when we redo it.

Lucas was sick the end of last week and we were prepared to get some weather from Hurricane Tropical Storm leftovers of Karen.

My Boys

As you can see, there wasn’t much to it and Pumpkin is feeling better.

How was your weekend? Do any shopping of your own? 

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