Months 19-23 of Our Debt Free Journey: July – Nov 2014

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This post is part of Our Journey to Become Debt Free series. To see the others, please click here.

Going from a full time income to a part time income really had an effect on our debt snowball. Of course, it had a major effect on my time to devote to spending with my 1 year old, Lucas and to housework. Last week, I told you that in Months 16-18 of Our Journey to Become Debt Free, we were not able to pay anything extra towards our debt snowball and only made the scheduled loan payment of $234 each month on the Civic. You can read that post here, if you missed it.
Well, as promised, things got exciting!
MONTH 19 – JULY 2014: We paid down $999.26 on the Civic, bringing the total down to $5125.08. This was made up of from some of my Etsy profit for the month, after the $1,000 Baby Emergency Fund we decided to create for Aqua Anchor. I was still too scared to put all of the remaining profit on the Civic though. 
MONTH 20 – AUGUST 2014: Paid down $634 on the Civic, bringing the total down to $4503.65. Same story for August, it was some of my Etsy profit for the month, but I was still too afraid to use all of it.  
MONTH 21 – SEPTEMBER 2014: Paid down $745.77 on the Civic, bringing the balance to $3,768.95. In September, I did use all of my Etsy profit. But only part of it went to the Civic, the rest went towards a weekend spent out of town for Lucas’ birthday at a wildlife exhibit. We decided to do it since we had just found out I was pregnant and Mama was having those “he won’t be an only child much longer” guilt emotions. But we had a BLAST! 
GWC Collage
 At this point, I knew we were headed to having the Civic paid off SOON and I started busting it to make that extra income in my shop, Aqua Anchor Designs to put towards it. I also decided to close out my little 401k that I had left at my previous job. There was only around $1100 in it, so they took the taxes required out and we’ll pay a little more on our tax return next year for it.
MONTH 22 – OCTOBER 2014: Paid down $2155.94 on the Civic, bringing the balance to $1622.90. About $1,200 of that was Etsy profit and the rest was my 401k check. 
MONTH 23 – NOVEMBER 2014: In November, we did it! We paid down the remaining $1623.22 and paid off the Civic! 
totalpaidoff
 That means that yes, except for our mortgage, we are now DEBT FREE!!!
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It’s an amazing feeling! So now we have a lot more decisions and planning we need to do, and some we’ve already made/done! I’ll make a Follow-up post and update you on all of that next week!
 
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Month 12 of Our Journey to Become Debt Free: December 2013

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This is the 13th post in Our Journey to Become Debt Free. If you would like to read the others, you can find them here

We made it through a whole year! I’m so glad we did not lose steam and kept trucking every month on this journey to become debt free. Clint and I both have pretty short attention spans unless we’re doing something very rewarding.. and this definitely has been rewarding. Of course, it was our hard work that has made it rewarding 😉

I want to do things a little bit differently this month. Instead of posting the “where we stood” at the end of November, I want to tell you about December and all that we’ve accomplished this year.

We did really good in some areas and really bad in some areas in December. I guess that’s life. We spent $516.33 in groceries. We had a few special things with the holidays. I also bought a bunch of Lucas friendly stuff in an attempt to get him to eat more throughout the day. We’re having a hard time getting him to eat food over his milk, so it’s worth it.

We also ate out a lot in December. I mean, a lot! My Etsy store Aqua Anchor Designs was really busy around Christmas so rather than try to cook and make earrings, we just picked up something. We’re bad, I know!

I made payments on Lucas’ hospital bills from back in October of $727.24, all of which were budgeted for. That left $625.68 for us to use as our Snowball. And we most certainly used it!

The $625.68, along with the usual payment of $178, paid off the CR-V!! We made our goal for 2013!! We are SO happy about it!
Now, our only debt left is Clint’s Civic, which is $9,523.59.

So here are our monthly Snowball totals:

Debt Payoff Progress through December 2013

We paid almost $14,000 in debt off just this year! Last December, if you would have told me that we were going to be able to do this well, I would have laughed at you.

Here are are debt balances at the end of 2013:

Debt Totals through December 2013

The bad thing though, is that I have some stuff going on with my job. The position I was in was eliminated so now I’m doing something I don’t particularly want to do. I’ve been trying to decide if I want to just stick it out until we pay off the Civic (which would probably take around a year), get a part time job somewhere (which would take us about 1.5 to 2 years to pay off the Civic) or just go full time somewhere else and pay the Civic off even sooner. If I can get another position, I will probably make more money than I’m currently making. I just don’t want to get something just to keep it temporarily, so if I went full time it would be for the long haul. What would you do? Decisions, decisions!

Clint and I are celebrating the progress we made in 2013 this month. I’ll tell you more about that towards the end of January.

Reaching your goals feels absolutely amazing! Were you able to fulfill your goals in 2013?

 

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chunky scarf or pair of shotgun shell earrings! Deadline to enter is January 7 at 11:59 PM CST. You can find it here.

Month 11 of Our Journey to Become Debt Free: November 2013

Month 11 of Our Journey to Become Debt Free November 2013
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This is the 12th post in Our Journey to Become Debt Free. To read the others, click here.

November was a great month. I didn’t think it would be, but it ended up being pretty eventful in Our Journey to Become Debt Free. We were waiting for Lucas’ hospital bills from October to be finalized and I was in the middle of opening my Etsy store. Both of those equate to a lot of nervous anticipation and money money money.

Here is the monthly progress we have made:

Totals through October 2013

At the end of October, this is where we stood:

Debt-Totals-through-October-2013-

At the end of October, Lucas stayed overnight in the hospital with Croup. He recovered very quickly, but it was a very scary ordeal for us. I was also terrified of receiving the hospital bills. Even with insurance, medical bills make me sick to my stomach.

Throughout November, I signed on every few days to our insurance’s website and looked at what claims had been filed. At one point, 2 claims for some doctor were filed for a total of $78.00. The insurance discounted and paid and we were left with $13.73. Then, the pediatrician’s claim was filed for $249.00, processed and we owed $216.23. It would have been less, but we still had a $500 deductible left to satisfy. Next, the Emergency room company filed for $617.38, insurance processed and we owed $274.37. At this point, at a total of $504.33, our deductible was covered but I knew the hospital itself still had not filed a claim.

Finally, the week before Thanksgiving the hospital’s claim was filed. It was a whopping $10,080.98! I estimated we’d have to pay about $1,000 of that and the $504.33 for a total of around $1,500. I had not made most of our Snowball payments in October and did not make any in November. I carried over $430.53 in the Snowball budget category from October and set aside $256.76 in November for a total of $687.29 to go towards the medical bills. Then on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I looked and we only owed $322.91 to the hospital!!

With the other claims and the hospital, it was $827.24 for his ER visit and hospital stay. A little over half of what I thought it would be! I decided to use the $430.53 from October to make a payment on the CR-V and carry the $256.76 over to December for Lucas’ medical bills.

Another great thing happened; I received my final refund from the OBGYN’s office for overpayment for my prenatal care from Lucas. It took over a year, but at least I got it. That was another $420 to put towards the hospital bill.

We spent $393.54 on groceries in November, which is great! I blew my $100 Etsy/Blog budget though, coming in at $176.94. Yes, you should go to my Etsy store and buy something to help me make it up. Just kidding, kinda..?

We made a goal to pay off the CR-V before the end of the year. Although the $827.24 hospital bill was less than I thought it would be, it definitely threw a wrench in those plans. I’m not sure we’re going to make it.

We’ve caught up the Our Journey to Become Debt Free series! Starting in January, I will post a summary of our debt payoff activities for December and will continue to do that monthly for the month before. Right now, I have December’s post scheduled for January 3.

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a medical bill being LESS than you thought it would be? Or started a new endeavor, Etsy for me, that cost you to start up and you didn’t see any results at first?

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? 

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?

Yes, I Cloth Diaper (Part 2:Newborn to 6 Months)

Cloth Diaper Storage
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This is the second post of the Yes, I Cloth Diaper series. The entire series can be found here.

Things are a little tense around here. I guess that’s the right word. Clint works for a subcontractor of the Federal Government, so he’s home right now. Luckily, his company will be advancing them one week of vacation, which will cover this week. We are praying that it won’t last long. Suprisingly though, since I normally get extremely stressed out about all things money, I am not stressed out about this. Yes, I’m frustrated–but, I know that He will provide.

So now you know why I chose cloth diapers—because I’m cheap. Well that’s the main reason anyway. Besides—they can be really cute. But there’s so much to know about cloth diapers. Today, I’m going to share with you about some of the different types that we’ve used and what’s worked for us—but only during the first 6 months of Lucas’ life–for today, or we’d be here all day.

First, there are so many different kinds of cloth diapers. I know when someone says cloth diapers, most people think of the cheap Gerber prefolds people generally use as burp cloths and the pants like these. Well, you think of that or poop (that post is in the works too). But there are so many other options.

Gerber Plastic Pants

Cloth diapers come in many many different styles. There are pockets, prefolds and covers, flats and covers, fitteds and covers, AIO (All In Ones), AI2 (All In Twos), and Wool. My plan was to mainly stick with prefolds, flats, and covers since that is the cheapest most economical choice in cloth diapering.

We were lucky enough to be given about 20 Kissas Size 0 fitted diapers right before Lucas was born though. They were so soft and squishy. It was a good thing too, because he was so small that I’m not sure anything else would have fit him. For the first couple of days, we didn’t even need to put a cover over them. He was so small that he wore the Kissas with a cover for around 3 months. The cover we used was Thirsties Size 1, which a lot of people recommend for newborns.

Kissas & Thirsties

Then we started using flats and prefolds with a Thristies cover over them. We had 24 flats and 24 prefolds. I had some pockets that were free with purchases too, so we started trying those out as well. The prefolds and flats did the job, but the pockets always seemed to repel. Repel, meaning when he peed, the liquid would sit on top of the fabric and roll out of the leg holes instead of absorbing it. The flats were by far my favorite. They were really trim and dried super quick on laundry day because they are only one layer of fabric. I liked experimenting with the different “folds” for putting them on Lucas, too. Our favorites were the Origami and the Kite Folds. Once Lucas was about 6 months old, the flats just did not hold enough pee though.

Flats Folded

So, we decided to start only using prefolds and covers. At this point, we had used 2 different sizes of prefolds so far, and had 24 of each size.  The Purple edge are an Infant size, the Orange edge are more like a medium for the 15-30 weight range. Lucas is only 20 lbs right now though and they will not go around him. Once he grew out of the Thristies Size 1 covers, we mainly used Flips. Flips with a velcro closure are my absolute favorite cover.

Prefold Diapers

When Lucas was around 4-6 months old, we started using disposables at night though. He started to leak out of the prefolds and covers we would put him in so it saved us from having to completely wake him up to change his diaper and clothes (and sheets, in some cases) when he would wake up to nurse. We have since found a solution though, which I’ll tell you about in Part 3. This covers the first six months though. If you are confused or overwhelmed by choices, your best bet would be to just get one kind and see how those go. Of course, I would recommend buying used. One, because you’re saving money, but two, because if you don’t like them—you could probably resell them for the same price you paid.

I love cloth diapers, don’t you? Clint says that I am addicted to buying them. Would you ever consider using them or have you?

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