Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Year of the (fill in the blank)

Have you ever felt a year was being dominated by a particular theme?  

I have.  Looking back over our past three years certain events really stand out in my mind.  2014 was dominated with prepping a house to sell.  2015 was dominated with selling the aforementioned home and then moving.  2016 was dominated with medical issues along with hefty (and I do mean hefty!) medical bills.

While none of these years were without challenges, I still prefer to look at the good that came from it.  Let me put a different spin on these years.  2014....we finally did things to our family home that we had intended on doing for 18 years.  The house looked fantastic when we were finally ready to list it.  2015....we moved to our dream location.  It is an area just a few miles from where we (when we could afford to) would vacation.  2016...the high deductible of our health insurance plan pushed dh to look for a new job.  His new job not only has much better insurance but he is also earning more.

Thus far 2017 seems to be shaping up to be the "year of the dentist." Other than our usual cleanings, both dh and I need additional work done.  Yesterday I wrote the dentist a check of over $200.  It was for our share of the bill from visits we had late last December.  I have 3 upcoming appointments in the weeks to follow.  Dh will also need to be seen again.  You know what though, like the previous years, there is a better way to look at it...

2017:  The year our dental premiums really paid off!  Hmm, not so sure that is really a good thing!  Better yet, I'm looking at 2017 as the year we started cash flowing what comes our way.  Prior to getting on a written budget, dh and I would have done what we always did and pulled out the credit card.  Not anymore!  This is the year we have joined forces and drawn the line in the sand.  This is the year we will take control of our finances, despite any challenges that come our way.

How is your year shaping up so far?  Are you making a conscience decision to focus on the good rather than focusing on whatever challenges you may be facing?  When you look back over 2017, how will you fill in the blank?  2017:  The Year of the ______.       Make it a good one!


Monday, January 30, 2017

I left the house!

There is actually a world out there!  

After three days at home, I finally left the house.  Almost forgot how to drive.  Just kidding.  As I've mentioned before, I do try and stay home as much as possible.  Just to go out for the sake of going out feels wasteful to me.  To some people, staying home so much would probably drive them crazy.  For me, I am perfectly content in doing so.  So, where did I go?...

First place was to church.  I admit that it was tempting to skip, but once I was there, I was happy I had gone.   We attend a very small Christian church of maybe 30 people or so, and that is when most of the regulars are there.  My dh and I do believe in supporting our church financially and that is part of our budget.  I never flinch when writing and giving that check.  

After church I came back home to let our boys (dogs) out and to make a quick lunch.  Then I headed the opposite direction of our church to go to work for a few hours.  I like going to work on Sundays because the office is quiet.  It usually listen to Dave Ramsey in the background as I go about my work.  

A quick stop to our local grocery store completed my big day out in the world.  While it was certainly not what most would consider an exciting day, it was an intentional day.  I accomplished what I set out to do and stayed within budget.  It was a good day.  


Sunday, January 29, 2017

The (almost) end of the month review

Making some progress.

I know.  It isn't quite the end of the month, but I couldn't wait!  To see our debt go down is beyond exciting.  Prior to drawing this final line in the sand, there were a lot of months that sadly, our debt load increased.  So how did we do?  Drum roll...

For our non-mortgage debt, we paid off $718.26.  For our mortgage debt, we paid off $582.05 for a grand total of $1,300.31.  Making progress!  Before you wonder what happened to the $2,525 that we paid off with the refund from our escrow, I don't want to count it until I see it credited to our account.  No worries, it will happen and reflect in February.  

While we still have a long ways to go, this does give me hope.  This time around we will get debt free.  Anything we throw at our debt it is one step closer to financial peace.  

Are you tracking your progress?  If so, how did you do for January?  


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Visuals to help keep it real

A very real one we intend on achieving!  

I am a very visual person.  Always have been.  Not sure if it has to do with a lack of imagination or simply the need to see something in order to understand it.  This applies to our finances as well.  Just saying that someday we will be out of debt simply isn't enough for me.   If I wasn't so embarrassed about our debt I'd probably have a huge debt thermometer hanging on our living room wall.  Well, I might not get quite that crazy, but at the very least I'd have one on the door of our fridge!  

Yesterday dh sent me an amazing visual.  He had to travel through Nashville to get to his destination.  He decided to take a slight detour and see where Dave Ramsey hosts his show.  Being the thoughtful dh that he is, he didn't go inside but did take a couple of pictures and sent them to me.  Going inside is something he wants to do with me.  

For those of you not overly familiar with the Dave Ramsey show, you can actually go there and watch Dave in action.  Some individuals on this journey go there to be interviewed by Dave and do their "I'm debt free" scream.  I love hearing these calls and am always thrilled for those who have achieved this status.  There is also a wall you can sign.  I'm not so sure I necessarily want to be on the radio when we reach this point, but I sure would add my signature to that wall!  I've actually seen Dave at one of his live events.  Dh and I weren't on the same page yet so I went with some friends.  The event was huge, so that while I say I saw Dave, it was from quite a distance. Taking a trip to Ramsey Solutions with my dh to see the show live would will be super exciting.

I'm happy.  Yesterday was a good day with a new visual to help keep it real!


Friday, January 27, 2017

Back to Frugality and Reality

It has become my norm.  

My dh once again left for work yesterday.  I have no idea how long he will be away this time.  I almost never do.  Usually he averages 3-4 weeks and then he comes home for a week.  This week was cut shorter on account of being robbed.  Those days of driving home rather than flying, cost him home time as well.  While I never like it when he leaves, this is the reality of the job he has.  

Another reality is that we spend a lot more money when my dh is home or at least to me it sure seems we do! For most people, this spending would probably be considered normal.  I'm just so used to not spending much of anything while he is away that I feel like we are spending like drunken sailors when he is home.  No offense to sailors as I once was one...albeit not a drunken one!  Unless there is an unexpected expense (as was in the case of replacing his wallet and the contents), we have been sticking to our budget so I am happy about that.  

For me I view my dh's time away as a time to live as frugally as I can.  Nothing too weird like some of the extreme tightwads you see on some reality shows.  I just watch for ways to spend as little as possible and cut back where I can.  I'd rather save that money for when my dh is home or use it to eliminate some of our debt.  

Today I washed sheets and hung them to dry.  We have a two story home with a loft and also heat primarily with wood.  Our upstairs tends to get very hot so it makes an excellent place to dry laundry.    I grew up with my mom hanging laundry so I'm used to it.  My dh did too.  He, however, was always embarrassed by his mom doing this.  For neither of our parents was it a matter of necessity.  Both sets of parents just happened to grown up during the depression so they learned to watch what they spent.  Many of us (including myself) could take a lesson from that.  Anyhow, dh is okay with me hanging things inside the house but absolutely doesn't want me to use an outdoors clothesline.  I tried using the argument that it was the "green" thing to do, but he wasn't having it.  I've learned to pick my battles and this one just isn't worth the fight.  At least I save a little by not using the dryer all the time.  

Food is another area I save on when dh is away.  My meals are simpler, yet still healthy.  I'm often content with a yogurt and a piece of fruit for a meal whereas dh is definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy.  I mostly drink coffee and water.  When dh is home I make sure we have other things available.  

Utilities also go down.  Dh likes to turn the furnace on in the morning to take the chill out of the house.  The temperature often drops to around 60 when the fire goes out.  Unless it is extremely cold outside (single digits) I can usually bring the house back up to a comfortable 70+ degrees within an hour or so.  Again, not worth the battle over a little propane.  

Yet another area I save is on gas for the car.  I tend to stay home a lot more when dh is away.  When I do go out, I try to combine my trips.  We live a good distance from town so it really does save a lot on gas by watching this.  

What are some things you do to live a little more frugally?  


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dripping Pennies

Are all those money earning sites really worth the effort?  

That is one question I am often asked.  During what I now refer to as my "coupon days" I was often asked a very similar question.  For the record, I still use coupons.  With having moved to a remote area my usage is just not as great as it was in the past.  I was never one of those hoarders having utterly ridiculous supplies of toothpaste, cereal, etc, but did keep enough items on hand to last my family 3-6 months.  As much as I miss the savings I wouldn't trade where we live now.  I just need to focus more on what I can do to earn a little extra.

How about websites like Swagbucks, Bing, etc?  Are they worth the effort?  If you were to do the math, most people don't even make minimum wage from these sites.  But I feel that is the wrong way of looking at it.  No, I wouldn't give up my job(s) to devote 8 hours (or more) a day to these sites, but I will still spend a little of my time on them.  Let me explain...

As someone who works a lot from home, it is very easy for me to have a device or two running in the background earning those pennies.  It takes next to zero effort to occasionally advance a round of videos.  Even when I didn't work from home, I was still able to earn a little extra when I was home.  My memory isn't good enough to tell you exactly how much I earned but I can tell you that I earned enough to buy a new television, a grill and a metal detector for my dh.  And those were just the bigger items!  Before we committed to getting out of debt I would usually redeem my earnings for Amazon gift cards and treat the earnings as slush money.  With my new mindset, I'm now treating these earnings as income.  

Another good way of looking at it~well, at least in my mind~is to think of a faucet dripping pennies into a glass.  As long as you leave that faucet on, it will continue to dripping those pennies and before you know it, that glass is full.  By far my favorite faucet site for this is Swagbucks.  In December I let it drip so much that I was able to turn all those pennies into $125 of cold hard cash via deposits into my PayPal account.  January has been a bit slower as typical of many of these sites they offer less earning opportunities for the first month or two of the year.  I have also been busier, having less time to monitor the dripping.  Even with the slowdown, I've still managed to earn $75 just from Swagbucks.  I also do Bing, but that takes a bit more effort so I'm not as faithful about it.  That usually only amounts to $5 or $10 a month for me.  

While I wouldn't suggest you give up your day job (if you have one), I would encourage you to consider adding some money earning sites to your daily routine.  While it won't make you rich, these sites can most certainly help you get just a wee bit closer to whatever your financial goal may be.  


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

First one down.

Thanks to a totally unexpected blessing!

So very excited to report that we will be paying off IN FULL our smallest debt of $2,550.  This is one that we needed to have paid off by May to avoid any interest charges.  To say that I am excited would be a total understatement!  And to what or whom do we owe our gratitude?  Our mortgage lender!

You read that right!  Our mortgage lender.  Thanks to an overage (and quite a large one at that) in our escrow account our mortgage lender is returning $3,025 to us.  While some people might be mad for having overpaid, I'm thankful.  Before you think I've lost my mind, let me explain.  Prior to my dh and I joining forces and drawing the line in the sand to get debt free, we would have NEVER saved that amount of money just for the sake of saving.  With no definitive budget, that money would have been spent on anything and everything.  As for how our lender managed to so grossly miscalculate our account, to an extent is it understandable.  2016 was our first full year in our home and the previous owners had used it solely as a vacation home.  Must be nice to have that luxury!  In our state, second homes are taxed differently.  Since this is our primary (and only) residence, we pay less in property taxes.  

My news gets even better.  As a result of rebalancing our escrow account, our mortgage payment has dropped by $210 a month.  In all my years of owning a home, that has never happened before.  Guess there is something to be said for the old saying Never say never.  

Dh and I have been discussing how to use this new "found" money.  With our smallest debt soon to be history, that still left us with a little leftover money.  We decided to use that to pay our car payment ahead.  We will still continue to pay it monthly, but I like the cushion of having it paid ahead.  That way if we do have a short month (money wise) if absolutely necessary, we could skip this payment.  As for the decrease in our mortgage payment, we plan to put extra towards our baby emergency fund.  Dave Ramsey recommends $1,000 which we feel isn't enough.  We started padding it with $50/week since starting the plan in January.  We would like to see that grow to $3,000.  First goal will be to get to $2,000 as fast as we can and then we will drop back down to adding $50/week until we reach the $3,000 mark.  As of today, we have $1,200 in our baby emergency fund.  

How are you doing at digging your way out of debt?  Had you succeeded at paying anything off?  Stay tuned as I continue to blog about our journey of getting out of debt once and for all!  


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Another day of spending

I'll be glad when this week is over.

We had yet another day of running errands and spending money.  I know, it would probably be easier just to get it all done in one day, but with various appointments, it isn't always easy to do.  Bigger yet is the fact that my dh absolutely hates running from place to place.  Love him to pieces, but it sure tests my patience!  

My dh did go to the dentist yesterday.  It was originally my own appointment but they graciously let me give it to my dh.  Sometimes I can be very sacrificial, although in this case, I'm sure my dh would have preferred I not be.  lol  Any takers for my next scheduled appointment?  Anyhow, I thought they were going to finish up his root canal.  He had that done at the end of December.  This appointment was for a thorough exam.  Dh has 2 cavities which will need to be taken care of.  He will be going back today for a cleaning.  No clue as to when they will do the crown.  One thing about having a husband who travels for a living, I also take on juggling a lot of appointments for him.  We still haven't received an actual bill (only insurance statements) so I'll continue to budget $150 a month for all our dental work.  

We dropped the boys off at the groomers, giving us a 2 hour time frame to get some other things done.  Dh needed to replace his stolen drivers license ($18 grr) and I also went ahead and paid for our vehicle tags ($142) that were due early February.  Meant bumping it to January's budget but the money is in the account so a week doesn't matter.  We also inquired about replacing his (also stolen) passport, which won't be cheap.  (double grr).  Dh got his haircut and we found him a nice wallet ($19) that was on clearance.  Still, that too was money that wasn't budgeted.  I know God tells us to love and forgive our enemies, but I am having a hard time feeling this way toward the thugs that did this to my dh.  Admittedly I felt a small sense of sweet revenge in hearing that they tried to use our Discover card unsuccessfully 3 times.  We are both still fresh coming off this robbery, so please bear with me as I go through the emotions.  

We picked up our boys at the groomers.  With the discounts, the cost wasn't terrible.  We spent $55 and they truly look (and smell) a lot better.  

Today dh will go for his cleaning, I'll head off to work for a few hours and we shall see what the rest of the day brings.  Hopefully it will be a day of a lot less spending!  


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Money, Money, Money

Spend, spend, spend...

How does a quick trip to town yesterday for just a few things equate to so much money being spent?  Some days it certainly doesn't seem to take long.  This is especially more so true when my dh tags along.

First stop of our journey was to our mailbox.  We live on a private road so our mail is delivered via a cluster box at the beginning of our road.  Given that we live almost 3 miles down the road, I don't always get it every day.  Along with some of the usual stuff, we also received the dental statement for the root canal my dh had late last December.  Our portion is close to $200.  Could have been worse.  The insurance paid over $600.  Dh will be getting the crown tomorrow.  I'm trying not to think about that bill.  

Second stop was to Lowes.  Thankfully we didn't see anything that we couldn't live without.  Lowes is conveniently located in a strip mall that had a few other stores we wanted to visit, one being the pet store.  No money spent (yet) but our boys now have an appointment on Monday to be groomed and get their nails trimmed.  We will save 25% by going later in the day.  We are going with their cheapest "spa treatment" at $29.99/dog before the discount.  The other store in this strip mall is TJMaxx.  Our hope was to find dh a new wallet.  For those who may not have read my earlier post, my dh's wallet was stolen a few days ago.  He didn't like what they had, but I did manage to find a sweater and a sweatshirt that I liked.  The sweater had a regular price of $68.  Do people really pay regular prices?  I paid $8 and still thought that was a little steep.  

Our final stop was Walmart.  Finally remembered to use my Savings Catcher balance so at least that shaved almost $9 off the bill.  Even with that, we still managed to spend $100.  In all fairness, that included an $8 bag of cat food and several items dh will take with him when he heads back out to work.  

Tomorrow (Monday) we will finish what we started.  Praying we can keep our budget in check!  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Prepping for next month

A new month and new budget is in the horizon.  

Dh made it home safe and sound last night.  Good to have him home.  Also good timing in that a new month and new budget is on the horizon.  We aren't quite yet where we can tally up how well we did in January, but we are close.  We still have a few bills that are looming, the dentist being one of them.    Our boys (aka dogs) also need to go for a nail trimming and that is something I hadn't budgeted for but needs to be done.  Then there is dh's wallet and contents.  Always something.  

This year I started using a new budget binder.  In the past I have tried everything from simply using a notebook to going more high tech (well, for someone my age!) and using YNAB-you need a budget.  I don't think I ever got past the first two weeks without blowing it.  I am currently using the OrganizHer expense tracker by Meade.  I read about it from one of the many "get out of debt" groups I'm in.  The reviews were incredibly favorable so I figured I'd give it a whirl.  Found a great deal on it.  With shipping it was less than $9.  For those interested, an overview of the binder can be found here.  I am in no way affiliated with Meade, but just love, love love this binder!  Pretty sure you can also find it on Amazon or Walmart, etc.  If you want to give it a try without buying, they also offer some free printables although obviously the binder itself offers a lot more!  The printables can be located here.   In general, I'm not one to spend money on this sort of thing (I used the free YNAB to see if I'd even like it) but at this point, I can't see continuing our journey without this budgeting tool.  

Additional expenses I know we will have for February are auto tags ($142), plowing (budgeting $250), and our CPA (also $250, but hopefully less) I *think* that will cover the extra stuff.  Some of our budget challenges come from our very irregular income and these extra expenses.  We are trying to combat that by putting extra money in savings.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times we have needed to cover extra bills or even our regular living expenses with a credit card simply because our income for that particular month was lower than expected.  Since we don't currently have a lot of wiggle room,  we are only adding $50 per week to our savings.  Still, it is more than we have saved in the past.  I would like to pad this account with a little more once my seasonal job begins.  

How do you do your budget and do you make a new one every month?  I know Dave Ramsey really stresses the importance of doing this and I can see why!  


Friday, January 20, 2017

What's in your wallet?

Probably not what Crapital, er Capital One would like!

No, I do not carry a credit card.  Not a single one!  I'm not saying that I don't have one, I just prefer not to carry one.  After my dh being robbed of his wallet yesterday, we are trying to come up with a good, safe alternative for him.  With traveling so much for work, he needs to have something.  One thing I did like about Discover was that even if his stolen card had been used, we would not have been liable for the charges.  We just don't like the fact that someone even has his card, whether he would be liable or not.  

One thing this robbery did make me do was to give more thought as to what I carry in my own wallet.    I realize that even though I don't carry a credit card, there was still some purging that needed to be done.  Other than my business expenses (for which I use a debit card), I use cash.  That will be the one bank card that I truly need to keep with me.  I did remove the debit card attached to our household account.  Honestly, it was more of a crutch to me.  I also removed my member ID for our local credit union.  I use it to cash my (albeit small) checks from my part time job for which I then fund my cash envelopes.  The credit union can easily look up my account with just my drivers license.  I also removed a few business cards that I would hate to lose, but certainly don't need in my wallet.  

So, with those items removed, what exactly is in my wallet?  Not a whole lot!  What remains is my drivers license, two insurance cards, two loyalty cards, my cash envelopes (clips) and of course, my business debit card.  Do I worry about carrying cash?  Maybe if I carried a lot of it I would, but with our budget being very tight, I honestly don't.  On the days I know I'll be doing more shopping there is usually a little more cash in my wallet, but that is far from an everyday occurrence.  In the case of a true emergency (and wanting pizza isn't an emergency!) I always do have my business debit card that I could fall back on.  

While it would still be a true inconvenience to ever find myself in the need of replacing the entire contents of my wallet, carrying less would certainly make it easier.

Have you ever given any real thought to what's in your wallet?  It may just be time to take a less is more approach and do some purging!  


Thursday, January 19, 2017

The phone call in the night

Very seldom is it good news.

Shortly before heading off to bed, I wrote a post about ice cream and getting a good night of rest.  Well, unfortunately after receiving a 1:30 AM phone call, that didn't happen.  When I finally did hear and answer the phone, at first I thought I had overslept.  To my groggy eyes the clock read 7:30.  The frantic caller on the other end was my dh.  

Without going into a lot of detail, my dh had been robbed.  Thankfully other than being very shook up, he was physically okay.  While he was waiting to fill out a police report, I cancelled his personal credit card and started racking my brain as to what else would need to be cancelled.  We do carry identity theft protection.  It is something I would highly recommend as someone actually did try to take out a credit card in my name a few years back.  Times like these there is a level of comfort in knowing that someone has your back should something more come of this.  

Meanwhile since it is near impossible to fly without a photo ID, his company is arranging a car rental for him to get back home.   The police officer said that with the report he was okay to drive without a license.  Given his distance from home, it will be a few days before he gets back.  Since his corporate lodging card was also stolen, hopefully his company can replace that for him before he heads out.  

Not sure how much this will impact our finances, but at this point, I honestly don't care.  I am just so very thankful my dh is okay.  Things can be replaced.  Human life can't.  

Stayed tuned for what I believe will need be my next post...What's in your wallet?  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ice cream makes me happy!

Nothing like some comfort food after a couple of busy days.  

I feel like I've been on go nonstop the past couple of days.  Yesterday I drove to a town about 65 miles from us.  I usually go every couple of weeks but haven't had a chance to get there lately.  I primarily go for business purposes.  It was well worth the trip as I found all sorts of things for my e-commerce business.  My car was loaded.  Had it not been for my two dogs in my back seat I'm sure my haul could have been even bigger.  Even so, it was still definitely a successful trip.

I spent much of this morning processing everything I had purchased the day before.  Got it all inventoried, boxed and dropped off to UPS by mid afternoon.  Based on my calculations, it should be at least a $700 profit.  Not bad for less than two days of work.  

The remaining part of my day was spent with a good friend.  Although it is always nice to visit, after a busy couple of days, it was equally as nice to get home and relax.  

Our temperature today was unseasonably warm.  My car read 44 degrees, but not sure just how accurate it is.  I will say it felt warm enough to take off the Winter coat and put on a light sweatshirt.  This warmer weather might also be the reason I was in the mood for ice cream.  With my sweet tooth happy and being tired from being extra busy, I think I'll sleep well tonight.  


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Random Ramblings

And possibly a hidden confession

Yesterday was a productive day.  I put 4 hours in at my part time job.  With 2 senior dogs, that (along with travel time) is about the extent of how long I can leave them in the house.  Their bladders simply can't handle me being gone for much longer than that.  I'll be thankful for warmer weather when I can have them out in the garage from which they can access an outside pen.  At 13+ years of age (human years) hard telling how much longer they will be with us.  The boys have been good companions so until it becomes a quality of life thing (for them!) we will do what we need to do to accommodate their aging bodies.   

While I was at work, I was called in for an impromptu meeting with my boss.  I knew it was coming but really wasn't entirely sure how I would answer his impending question.  The question was regarding whether or not I would consider taking over for another employee who will soon be retiring.  It would amount to about a 30 hour work week.  I've been on the fence with this and it has nothing to do with our aging dogs.  While we could use the money-and honestly how many of us couldn't-there are also other things to consider.  In addition to this job I also work a seasonal job that I can do 50% of the time from home.  I do make decent money during those 5-6 months.  Then there is yet another consideration and that is my e-commerce business which has really taken off.  Anyhow, at the end of the meeting, I decided to turn down the offer and keep my hours as is.  Taking the offer would mean I couldn't work my seasonal job and it would also limit the time I have to devote to my business.  I pray I made the right choice.  

After coming home to let the boys out, I made a needed trip to town.  Had to drop off some things to my bookkeeper and run a few other errands.  Put gas in my car twice.  Had $1 off coupons that were getting ready to expire.  While I wouldn't go out of my way to save a dollar as it would only be defeating the purpose,  I had to pass by two of these stations anyway, so I figure why not save a little extra.  It all adds up.  We get 8 of these $1 off coupons each month from our newspaper.  I'm trying to be better about using them.  

I've been reading a lot more blogs about personal finance.  Perhaps partly because misery loves company and also because I feel encouraged when reading them.  I receive a personal glimmer of hope when someone writes to say they paid off another credit card or a car loan or even bigger yet, their mortgage.  If others are doing it, I know we can too.  We are tackling $55,749.69 in non-mortgage debt.  This is a combination of a home improvement loan, credit cards and a car loan.  There.  I said it.  My hidden confession.  I'm also secretly hoping that since I'm just starting my blog that this post will eventually get buried!  Maybe, just maybe, at some point I'll be brave enough to have a running total more prominently displayed, but for now, I will leave it here.  As for what we are  currently snowballing, it is an interest free loan of $2,550.  It needs to be paid off by May to avoid any interest charges.  One way or another, we will do it.  

Do you have any personal finance blogs you would recommend?  After this confession, I can use all the inspiration I can get!  


Monday, January 16, 2017

I've become a juggler!

The Money Circus of using Cash

One of the things Dave Ramsey teaches is using an envelope system.  I've tried this so many times but without an accountability partner (now my dh!) I found myself constantly cheating.  For what it's worth, I do this with diets too, but that's a subject for another day.  Now with my dh fully on board, there is no more cheating.  We have an agreed amount of cash to spend and when it is gone, it is gone.

So how are we handling things that come up as we know they will?  That is where the money juggling circus act comes in.  Every two weeks I pull out $300 in cash and that money is divided into 7 categories.  These categories are grocery, pet, gas, clothing, prescriptions, blow/fun money and miscellaneous.  The miscellaneous covers needed things like oil changes, hair cuts, stamps, etc.  It does not cover wants as that is what my blow/fun money is for.  Trust me, at $10 a week my wants are fairly minimal!  Since my dh is gone from home (A LOT!), he receives a predetermined amount of cash to take with him.  Admittedly he does carry a credit card with him just incase, but I honestly can't remember the last time he has used it.  Our goal is to eventually build up enough buffer in our bank account for him to carry a debit card but we aren't there yet.  Baby steps!

Getting back to the circus act.  Dh and I have agreed that we can pull from one category to cover a shortage in another with the exception being the blow/fun category.  The juggling act also comes into play when I order something online as I often do.  Should I order something online from one of those categories the cash is then removed from the envelope which means I then pull out less cash the following two weeks.  Online shopping is also why there is no gift category as that is a line item in our budget.  With our kids and grandkids living on the other side of the country, Amazon Prime is my go-to.  Saves us a fortune in shipping!  

I know for some people this would make their head spin, but for us it is a way to stay on track.  Staying on course with any lifestyle change takes discipline and this how we are handling the change in our money habits.  One thing I have found with now having my dh as my accountability partner is that I think more about what I do actually spend.  To be 5 days from payday and still have cash in my wallet is rather exciting and for that, I will gladly learn a few tricks!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

The conveyor belt of life

Reflecting on life, or as my dh would say...overthinking it!  

How many of you have a love hate relationship with social media?  My gut is that many of us do.  Great to read the happy and good news but not so great to read the sad and the bad news.  

Yesterday a friend of mine from high school posted that her mom had passed away.  Just a few days earlier, she had posted that her mom was being placed on hospice so her passing didn't come as a complete surprise.  Having lost my own mom three years ago, my heart bleeds for my friend.  Although losing an elderly parent is a natural progression of life, it still leaves an emptiness when they do go.  Thankfully for my friend (and myself!) we know this is only an earthy goodbye.  I honestly don't know how a non-believer handles the pain of losing a loved one without this assurance.

One of many things that still stand out to me during the funeral preparations for my own mother was my sister saying "We're the next ones on the conveyor belt."  Although I secretly thought "No, you are as you are 6 years older than me!" my sister did have a point.  While that is one conveyor belt ride we will all eventually take, there are plenty of others we will ride first.  While some will be chosen for us, thankfully there are a lot of others that we, ourselves, can choose or choose not to take.  

This blog is very much about making a choice.  We made a choice to draw the line in the sand and do something about our debt.   While I realize that simply making this choice doesn't guarantee that we won't ever get rerouted - Murphy has a way of doing that to even the best of us - at least we have each other to keep from falling.  

I also know there are a few other belts I should probably consider hopping on, but for now, I'm good following the journey of this one.  Yes my sister, life truly is a conveyor belt.  


Saturday, January 14, 2017

7 Hours of solid sleep. Go me!

So good to wake up not feeling tired!  

My body and sleep have had a very long history of not being friends.  Whenever I actually do get enough rest I feel like a new least for the day!  Thankfully today is one of those days.  My sleep issues stem from several things, one being severe RLS and another biggie being the weight of our debt.  I'm sure working as a nurse on third shift for 20 years of my life didn't help either.  

Yesterday turned out to be an excellent day for our finances which I'm sure helped me sleep.   I was able to reduce our auto insurance from $1,063.50 down to $526.50.  We pay our premium every six months which saves us $75.  Being bound and determined not to put it on our credit card (as sadly I've done in the past) and also not wanting to dip into our baby EF of $1,000 I decided to call our agent.  We have three vehicles, two of which are not drivable during the Winter.  One is an older paid for truck in need of repairs and the other a car we are upside down in.  Since we can't drive either right now, we reduced the coverage to just theft, fire, etc.  We really need to get rid of that car and the payment attached to it!  Baby steps!  

Another good thing is that our electric bill was under budget by $1.44.  We were over budget last month by $2.45.  I realize to some this isn't a big deal but when you are watching every penny, it is!  

I also had $25 go into my PayPal account from Swagbucks which I then transferred to our checking account.  Certainly don't get rich from these types of sites, but it all helps.  

On a side note, I still need to figure out some of this Blogger stuff.  I was used to WordPress and this is a little different.  Being in my 50's I don't adapt to change quite as well as I used to.  But you can't beat free, so I'm sure I'll eventually learn it!  

I need to work for a few hours today.  Trying to increase my hours and thankful for a flexible job that lets me do so.  Now I just need our weather to cooperate so I can actually do so!  And our journey continues....


Friday, January 13, 2017

Need versus Want

The budget won.

Setting up my new blog yesterday was not without struggle.  I have blogged before, but in the past have always bought my own domain name (still own two of them) and also paid for hosting.  My old blogs are no longer visible on the web and at this point it is doubtful that I will revive them.  

For several months now I have found myself wanting to blog again.  So far I have filled this void by writing rambling on and on to a good friend of mine.  Given that my friend is also in debt, I liked to think of it as a way to also encourage her on her journey.   In all honesty, I probably was driving her crazy with my obsession to win this battle against debt.  I'm a nerd when it comes to this sort of thing and she is definitely more a free spirit.  In her opinion, it will happen when it happens.  All this got me to thinking.  There simply must be others out there like myself who would/might actually want to read how someone else is going about it.  

At first I tried to justified my need to pay for a new blog and hosting by figuring it might help save my friendships.  Nah, my friends wouldn't make it quite that easy for me!  Then I thought perhaps I could justify the expense as ultimately saving us thousands in mental health.  Hey, anyone in our situation knows getting out of debt is not for the weak.  So should I or shouldn't I?  

Well, here I am on Blogger.  As you can see, our budget won this one.  Try as I might, there was no category that even had enough money in it to pay for such said paid blog and even if there was, there was no way I could justify the cost.  Our budget is our budget and to win this battle I simply must be strong and stick to it.  Yes, the budget won.  

What are some things you have struggled with when it comes down to need versus want?


Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Line has been Drawn

And this time we drew it together!

How many times do you need to get sick and tired of being sick and tired?  For my dh and I, sadly far too many times to count.  And just what are we sick and tired of?  In two simple but yet very difficult words, our debt!  Enter Dave Ramsey again and again.  Yep, some of us are slow learners!

I first heard of Dave Ramsey and his baby steps 10 years ago.  Not exactly sure where or how, but I also remember listening to Larry Burkett around the same time.  In other words, we have had our heads in the sand for a very long time!  Sad that we have been married for over half of our lives-well, that's not the sad part-but the fact that in all of our years together we are just now finally on the same beach...err page when it comes to getting out of debt...well, that is sad!

So what exactly does all this mean?  First of all, it means that for any of you experiencing the same struggle, there is hope!  Never give up!  You're probably wondering what the turning point was for us.  It was actually quite simple.  We were broke and it was Christmastime.  This is also about the time I was trying to pull my own head out of the proverbial sand.  I bought my dh one gift, a used set of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University on CD.  I told him that his gift to me would be listening to them.  You know worked!  He has already listened to them once and plans on listening to them again.  He has become a Dave Ramsey quoting junky!  Music to my ears!  To my benefit, he travels for a living, which made him a very captive audience.

The Line has been Drawn represents a beginning to an end...the end of our struggle with debt.  This time we will succeed because this time we drew the line together!  Thanks for taking the time to read my first entry and I sincerely hope you'll continue to follow our journey.  Would love to hear about yours as well!