Monday, February 27, 2017

Achy and blah

Please don't let this be the flu!

Woke up super early this morning feeling achy and blah.  I'm hoping it is simply the lack of sleep I've had over the past few days. Whenever my DH is home, I never sleep well.  Weird, I know.  Between his snoring and hogging the blankets I toss and turn all night.  We do have two other beds I could retreat to, but they tend to bother my back.  Being ever so afraid of catching the flu (should it be that) DH has agreed to sleep in on of our spare rooms tonight.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time~Zig Ziglar

Tentative Goals for March

I am feeling a bit in limbo right now.  Our taxes have been sent off to our CPA, but I almost hate to set any financial goals until I know for certain where we stand. I honestly thought about just holding off until we knew something concrete.  But as Zig Ziglar says, If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time. With that quote in mind, I have decided to go ahead and make a few goals for March...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The (almost) end of the month review for February

How much did we pay off?

February turned out to be an awesome month for us.  For the debts on our snowball list, we paid off $3,444.93!  Keep in mind that we received a large escrow refund in January so $2525 went towards eliminating a home improvement loan.  Although I added it to our total, I like to point out that $919.93 was paid from our regular incomes, selling things and simply cutting back.  Admittedly I've often felt a tad discouraged when I'd read of others eliminating enormous amounts of debt each month while we struggled to pay off a few hundred.  While we do have a decent income, we also have an indecent amount of debt to pay off.  I want to give hope that no matter where you are in your journey, you can do this too!  

For our mortgage debt, we paid off $1,310.04 which was also higher than last month.  Our mortgage debt not only includes our house but also an RV that we are upside down in.  Our eventual goal is to dump that as well.  Since much like a house, we can claim the loan interest on our taxes (viewed much like a second home) we have chosen to lump it in with our house.  With the remaining escrow return we chose to get the RV payment ahead by a month. Our car (which we are snowballing and intend to sell) is also paid a month ahead.  I feel like it gives us a slight cushion, which makes me feel a bit more comfortable.  

With all that being said, our entire debt is now down by a grand total of $6,055.28 since officially drawing the line in the sand on January 1.  Since my focus remains on the snowball, that part of our debt is now down by a grand total of $4,163.19!  

Our baby emergency fund (BEF) will be at $2,000.17 on Monday once our automatic weekly transfer of $50 goes into that account.  We intend to continue adding that $50 each week and avoid using the BEF and continue cash flowing whatever comes our way.

February was indeed a good month!  No projections for March as we have several extra expenses and I also have no clue how we will do with our taxes. Having sent them off yesterday, I expect we should know something by the middle of the month.

Have you tallied your numbers for February?  If you feel comfortable doing so, please share how you did.  Keep your eye on the goal of the freedom that comes with getting out of debt.  We can do this!


Friday, February 24, 2017

More mortgage payment issues

The never ending saga.  

I am really beginning to dread the first of the month.  This is when our mortgage payment is supposed to be made.  We had issues last Summer with them not taking the payment.  Thought we had it straightened out yet to go through the very same thing on this month.  February 1st came around, we had the money in our account, and yet they still didn't take the payment. Took multiple calls to get that (supposedly) back on track.

Here we are a few days away from March 1st.  This is the month our mortgage payment was supposed to drop by $210/month on account of our escrow review.  The problem we are now having is that our payment amount due has not changed when I look it up online. So how much do I pay?   Ugh!  If I pay the lesser amount, there is a chance they won't take the payment as they will only take a full payment.  However, since I have paperwork stating our payment has been reduced, I should just be able to pay that reduced amount.  If I pay the original payment more might just go towards our mortgage or they might leave the extra $210 in our account.  I hate feeling like I need to second guess them.  My DH has already placed two calls to them, both times leaving a message.  Have they called back? Nope.  Their complete lack of customer service seemingly continues to be their motto.  We live too far to simply stop in at one of their branches. So, the saga continues.  

On a bright note, I did manage to finish gathering all of our tax information. I'll be going to the post office later today to get it sent off.  Considering the size of the envelope plus the information it contains, I want to have some type of tracking with it.  I plan on being more organized this year by keeping running totals of my DH's expenses and also doing a better job at keeping up with the bookkeeping for my business.  Or at least that is my plan!  

I had hoped to use this week to take a trip to handle an estate issue for my dad and also see family.  Unfortunately Mother Nature isn't cooperating and we are getting hit with even more snow.  I have no desire to drive a rental vehicle (let alone our own) through this much snow.  I'll aim to go the next time my DH is home.  

Have any of you used Amazon Pantry?  I used the rare discount coupon that Amazon was offering this past Wednesday to purchase some much needed personal clothing items.  I'm a Prime member but by agreeing to a slower shipping method, they offered me a $5 credit for Amazon Pantry.  Wonder what kind of needed item I can get for cheap with that credit?  I'm all about stretching my dollars!  

Stay frugal and keep beating that debt down!  We can do this! 


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Busy, busy day

All worth it because my DH came home!

Yesterday was a super busy day.  I hardly ever know exactly when my DH will make it home.  He called me late morning to say he would arrive home around supper time.  With that, I had to get busy.  I worked my part time job for 3 hours, stopped at the local grocery store for a few forgotten items, cleaned the house, etc.  You'd have thought royalty was coming over!  Since DH is home so little, I try my best to have everything just right.  He is worth it!  

On the money side of things, I should be able to use our health savings account to pay for the dental work DH and I have had done.  His company puts $840 in the account, so that should cover a nice chunk of the bill.  Even with insurance, dental work (especially getting a root canal and crown) are costly.  Guess DH will be royalty after all with his new crown.  lol 

Today we are calling our propane company to come top off our tanks.  We have two 1000 gallon tanks with levels of 55 and 60%.  We had a new customer discounted rate of $0.99/gallon that is good through the end of March.  I'd hold off on placing this last order, but the warmer weather has me concerned about our road.  Once weight restrictions go into effect, trucks are not permitted on our road.  With topping off these tanks, we will have enough fuel for next Winter and possibly even the following one.  For those of you who have never had propane, they will only fill to 80%.  Currently the going rate is around $1.79 so this is a nice savings.  Winter has always been a tough time for us financially.  I'm trying to get some things knocked off the list much earlier.  Getting our wood delivered and chimney inspected will be two other things I plan on taking care of before June.  

DH is out walking our boys (dogs) and I need to get busy.  Still need to finish up those blasted taxes.  


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Another Giveaway from Don't Read This; It's Boring!

Girly Girls Giveaway

Sluggy over at Don't Read This; It's Boring is hosting yet another giveaway.  I was (still am!) super stoked about having won her last giveaway.  Received my book, The 5 Years Before You Retire by Emily Guy Birken just a few days ago.  Excellent book so far!  

Here is a picture of just a few things she is giving away this time around. Head on over to her blog and to check out the rest!  And while you're there, don't forget to enter!  

                          photo credit:  Sluggy from Don't read this; it's boring

Will YOU be the winner this time around?  


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Secured seasonal job...yes and no

My DH, ever the wise one.

So much for feeling like I secured my seasonal position.  Yes, the job offer is still on the table.  No, the terms are still not what they should be. I received an updated job description and after discussing it with my DH, I realize that the job has the makings of another season much like last year.  I am so thankful for his wisdom.  I tend to be a people pleaser, which as we all know, can be both good and bad.  

The biggest issue with the position is that they want me on to be on call for three months of the Summer.  During those months, I would not have hours except for the ones I am called in to work.  No thanks.  Putting my life on hold for three months is simply not going to happen.  I would then return for the last 1-2 months of the season.  Problem with that is I'm afraid of the billing mess I'd inherit.  Again, no thanks.  

Nothing is set in stone.  I am certainly open for discussion.  It will be a few weeks before I need to decide one way or the other.  DH still feels I can make more money by expanding my business.  I never wanted a job to be about the money.  When you are trying to get out of debt, unfortunately there are times it has to be.  

Have you ever taken on an extra job to help pay down debt?  


Monday, February 20, 2017

$259.31 closer towards our goal

Beefing up the emergency fund.  

You read that right.  $259.31 and it is all going towards beefing up our emergency fund.  This was the proceeds of my eBay items that ended yesterday.  Would have been more, but eBay and PayPal always take their share.  Still, I am very pleased.  Now before you start thinking I'm a packrat with endless items to unload, I'm not.  One item had been left in the house we purchased 18 months ago.  The other was from a friend who had me sell 2 other items and then told me to keep the third item to do with as I pleased. Of the items I sold, only 1 was actually originally mine and it only netted $15.  I had a few items that didn't sell that I'll re-list once I'm back from a trip I need to make. 

I am excited to say that we should (barring any unforeseen circumstances) be able to reach our goal of $2,000 by the end of the month.  To play it safe, we still won't throw any snowballs at our debt until we know exactly where we stand with our taxes.  After that is behind us, watch out debt...we are coming after you!  

Today I secured my seasonal job.  Nice to know that they want me back, even with my "demands" for the year.  Nothing too outrageous.  I want to work primarily from home and also want to be paid hourly opposed to salary.  Last year I worked far too many hours for far too little pay.  The season also hurt my business and I lost time at my other part time job making what I did actually earn almost a wash.  With having better time management, my income should increase...or at least that is the plan!  

How are you doing with your plan to get out of debt?  Are you staying focused and keeping your eye on the prize?  Without a doubt, I know reaching this ultimate goal will be so worth it!  


Photo credit:  Noel Hankamer

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Taking a trip while in debt?

There are times you just need to.

I am planning on taking a short trip.  Honestly, I would rather not as I don't like long distance driving, but there are times it simply can't be avoided. My brother contacted me a couple of weeks ago and said he needed me to come sign some papers for our dad's estate.  He prefers me to handle this directly with the attorney rather than via the mail.  Dad is very much alive, but his mind is starting to slip more and more.  At pushing 90, it is to be expected.  No rush in coming, but sooner rather than later.  With well over 400 miles separating us, this trip will take a little planning.

First of all, I need DH to be home to take care of the boys (our geriatric dogs). Taking them with me is not practical and having never boarded them, at their age, now is not the time to start.  

Secondly, I will need to rent a car.  We took the insurance off of our two other vehicles (one of which we will be selling) until May.  I know I could add it back on, but it would cost me more than renting a car.  Plus then all those miles I'll be driving won't be put on our own vehicle.  DH offered to just be without a car, but I didn't like that idea.  I'd also like him to take care of getting the oil changed in the car we have been using all Winter.  He likes hanging out in auto places, whereas I do not!  

I have vacation time at work so at least I won't be out those hours.  I'm seeing prices of around $24/day for the cheapest rental car.  I may decide to upgrade to a larger vehicle and take advantage of being in a big city to purchase items for my business.  In that case, I'd also stay an extra day. Doing it this way I could also write much of it off as a business trip.  No hotels needed as I can stay at my dad's as he still lives on his own.  Staying with my brother is also another option.  

Perhaps this trip is just as well.  I haven't had the opportunity to see my family since we moved.  Prior to making our move 18 months ago, we still lived 200 miles away from family.  While visiting made for a super long day, I would go back and forth in one day.  Definitely no longer doable.  

So yes, there are times taking a trip while in debt can certainly be justified.  I may even start going every Spring and Fall.  I never look forward to the drive, but especially in the case of an elderly parent, it is necessary.  


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tax time!

My least favorite time of the year!  

It is that time of year again.  Tax time!  I gave myself a deadline to get everything ready to send off to our CPA by the end of the month.  With February being a shorter month, it is getting down to crunch time.  I always admire those who are pretty much ready to go once their tax forms arrive in their mailbox.  In my own defense, ours have become a bit more complicated.  Even more so this past year with having started a business.  I also know that January and February are the busiest months for our CPA so I like to give him a break and not send ours in right away.  My excuse and I'm sticking to it!  

When it comes to tax stuff, I'd rather be doing anything but that!  Just not my thing.  I even hired a bookkeeper to handle the sales tax end of my business.  Dealing with the tax divisions of multiple states was becoming one big headache.  Yesterday I spent a fair amount of time catching up with the business expense part of my accounting program.  I am now ready to run all those reports to give to our CPA.  

Today I will tackle the medical expenses we incurred.  This is this first time we should have enough to claim.  2016 was a rough year health wise.  Broken bones resulting in needing surgery, physical therapy, a cancer scare, the dreaded over 50 colonoscopy along with a very high deductible meant a lot of money out of pocket.  Once this part is finished I can move on to adding up all of DH's business expenses and then our usual household stuff.  

I believe that there is always a silver lining to every challenge, even with compiling tax information.  With getting a clearer picture of our financial numbers for last year I am truly amazed that we survived!  Our income was significantly lower and our expenses were significantly higher.  We still managed to financially support our church and make other various donations. Although a true struggle, we were able to keep our heads above water and pay all our bills.  As difficult as the year was, we survived!  Probably one of the best things that came out of having such a rough year is that both DH and I see how urgent it is to get control of our finances.  It would have been a much less stressful year had we not had to worry about money.  

While I still have more work to do with compiling our tax info, I am making progress.  It will probably be mid March until we know exactly where we stand.  I always pray that we don't owe, but if we do, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  

Do you dread doing your taxes or is it (gasp!) something you actually look forward to each year?  


Friday, February 17, 2017

The emotional rollercoaster of debt

I am so eager to get off this ride!

This getting out of debt sure comes with a lot of emotional ups and downs!  Yesterday morning I was feeling 'okay' with how we were doing-or at least as okay as someone deeply in debt can even possibly begin to feel.  But by the evening, my emotions had completely changed.  You name it, I was feeling it...guilt, frustration, anger, fear, impatience.  My emotions were all over the board.  My DH, being ever so level headed, kept telling me to focus on the positives.  We are making progress, our bills are getting paid, we have a plan, we will get this done!  Still, some of those feelings persisted and caused for a restless night.  

I know that logically my DH is completely right, but I want this done sooner rather than later.  Yes, right now I am feeling very impatient with the journey.  I know my DH is doing all that he can do but I just don't feel that I am.   My DH keeps telling me that I am doing my part with my business and part time job.  Most of all he is happy that I am taking care of our geriatric dogs who are his babies.  I know my DH means well, but I still personally feel that my contribution is pathetic!  Maybe it's because up until recently I had always worked full time.  I told you my emotions were all over the board!  

This awful ride continued throughout the night.  About 3 AM I had all but convinced myself that I was going to go find a "real" job.  I was still am a licensed nurse and although it has now been 18 months since I left my full time position, I could go back into nursing.  Last Summer I worked as a camp nurse for a few weeks so I wouldn't say that my skills are completely rusty yet...not that handling bug bites, sprained ankles, homesickness, etc exactly requires all that much skill.  At least it looks somewhat good on a resume.  

Here it is morning and now with having consumed 3 cups of coffee,  this emotional ride has somewhat leveled off again.  The idea of pursuing another nursing job is now just a bad dream.  While I truly enjoyed my career for the 25 years I gave it, I was also more than ready to retire from it.  I will continue doing my part by doing just what I am already doing.  Unless anything changes, by May I should also be back to work at my seasonal job working as the registrar for a small local camp.  It will bring in extra snowball money and best of all, it is a job that offers me a lot of flexibility.  Whether or not I'll be needed to cover some nursing hours is yet to be determined.  They did pay me a small stipend (small being the key word!) for when I did do so.  I know that our snowball will pick up more speed in the months to come.

For those of you reading who made it this far, I commend you and thank you for hopping aboard!  If you feel comfortable or compelled to do so, please don't hesitate to share your own ride on this emotional rollercoaster of getting out of debt.  With all the ups and downs that comes with getting out of debt, we can all use some extra encouragement from time to time!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Paycheck anticipation!

How much will it be?

DH has a very irregular income.  We never know from paycheck to paycheck just how much it will be.  My income from my part time job is also a bit irregular, but nothing compared to DH's checks.  He also earns the bulk of our income (thank you dear!) so that check is always the one we wait on with the biggest anticipation.  There are times I think it would be easier to have a consistent check, but when a check is larger than expected, I'm happy for the inconsistency.  Of course this unfortunately works the opposite way too.  I've trained my brain to think low when it comes to our checks, hence avoiding too much disappointment.  No matter how much it is, I know DH has worked hard to earn it.  

The day before the check hits our bank I can get a sneak peek of what is to come.  Today I was pleasantly surprised (and a tad relieved!) to see how much tomorrow's check will be.  I knew money was going to be a bit tighter during these last two weeks of the month to accomplish our goal of reaching $2,000 in our emergency fund.   As life would have it, we experienced a mini emergency a few days ago when DH needed to replace his GPS.  It wasn't an item he could put off buying as his old one had finally completely bit the dust.  He had been babying it along for months.  Thankfully with a better than anticipated check it is looking like we will indeed accomplish our emergency fund goal even with the hit of the new GPS.   

Other tidbits of the day...

I was also pleased to see that we came under budget by $3.51 on our electric bill.  I was able to make yet another $25 deposit into our emergency fund thanks to Swagbucks.  There are more watchers on the items I have listed on eBay.  Ah, the little things in life!  As always, we shall see what today brings!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Saving Nickels Saving Dimes

But unlike the song, I'm not 100% sure why!

DH and I have saved our change for years.  The last time we cashed it out, we had almost $1,000 worth.  That was 18 months ago and we ended up using it to help offset some of our moving expenses.  We never seem to save for anything in particular.  I highly doubt if we were to have an actual goal in mind that it would change how much we do dump into our container.  

Pardon the really bad pun, but I've heard the pros and cons of both sides of the coin and we will stick with the pro side.  We've been doing this for so many years that we just don't miss this change.  It is also nice knowing we have a little extra being saved on the side.  

This morning I cleaned out my purse.  I had just a few dollars worth of change.  Dumping that change into our container the words "saving nickels saving dimes" from Linda Ronstadt's version of Blue Bayou found its way into my head.  It is what got me to thinking about writing a post about saving change.  Do others who are on a debt slaying mission save theirs too?  Should we be applying it all to our debt?  While it would probably be the smart thing to do (and I never said I was smart!) I doubt we will.  On a positive note, when we do decide to use it, the money will be spent wisely.  It may help offset a purchase we need to make or we might even use it to buy something for our home.  Time will tell!  

Are you a change saver?  If so, what are you saving for?  


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Definitely not a typical Monday

Wow, what a day I had!  

Ever have a day that simply seems to go just right?  They hardly ever seem to happen on a Monday.  I truly believe there is something about the "It's a Monday" phrase.  I was reading a couple of other bloggers who were having absolutely horrible days.  I wished I could have shared some of my "just right" with them to make their day a little better.

I started my day with a dentist appointment.  Now usually that would be enough to set off anyone's Monday as being horrible.  This appointment was unusually quick with minimal pain.  The dental staff only held me hostage for about 20 minutes or so.  I have one more small cavity that will get taken care of next week Monday.  I kind of wish the dentist would have just taken care of it yesterday but then again, it might have felt weird having my entire mouth numb.  

Leaving the dentist's office, the sun was shining and I felt a hint of (do I dare say it) Spring!  At 45 degrees, it felt like a heat wave.  We will need a lot more of these temperatures to melt the several feet of snow that we still have on the ground, but at least it was a start!  Given that it was warmish, I felt okay about leaving the boys (our elderly dogs) in the garage which has access to an outside pen.  Their senior bladders simply can no longer handle me being away for more than a few hours.  With knowing that they could manage without me, I then headed to the big city....aka a neighboring town with a few more stores.  

My purpose of shopping was primarily for my business.  Wow, did I ever hit the jackpot.  It took me practically no time to soon have my vehicle packed.  This will give me a very nice profit.  I also purchased a few household items.  I had a coupon for $10 off $30 purchase that I was able to combine with a pharmacy rewards coupon for $10 off $20.  Ended up getting 30 rolls of TP, 7 boxes of Kleenex, some fabric softener and coffee filters for $11.45 out the door.  Love stocking up on those types of things.  

Hmm, what else?  I saved $4 on a tank of gas.  I hit my first Swagbucks goal, I received payment for two eBay items (netting exactly $40 after fees) and got both items shipped off and I received bids on two other items I listed on Sunday.  Just when I thought the day couldn't possibly get any better, I saw that I won the contest I posted about earlier this month.  If I ever make it big in the blogging world I'd like to hold a contest too.  Scratch that.  Since becoming a big time blogger isn't my actual goal, perhaps I could hold some type of contest for when we become debt free.  Now that would be fun!  

Yesterday was definitely not a typical Monday!  Sorry for those of you who had a rough day.  Hopefully today will be much better for you.  I haven't ventured out yet today but will need to at some point.  I have boxes to ship and I also need to put in a few hours at my part time job.  We will see what today brings.  


Monday, February 13, 2017

Thanks for the reminder, Hallmark...

but I'll save my money and celebrate it my way!  

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I've done nothing for my DH.  That's right, absolutely zilch.  I've never really understood the hoopla around so many of these holidays.  Do we really need a reminder from Hallmark to express our love?  Shouldn't we already be doing this for the special people in our lives?  

Call me unromantic, but I honestly don't feel the need to rush out and spend money that we really can't afford just to let my DH know how much I love him....all because Hallmark is telling me I need to do so!  I already tell him this every day.  If he doesn't know by now how I feel about him, we have some serious relationship issues!  

Despite how I feel about these "Hallmark Holidays" I will still acknowledge the day wish my DH a Happy Valentine's Day, but I'll also continue to do it my way all year long.  I much prefer to give random surprise personal notes throughout the year.  They don't cost me a thing and I like to think that they are a lot more meaningful than some card from Hallmark!  My frugal self will even take it step further and look for the Almond Joy candy he so much enjoys...but he also knows me well enough that I'll wait until it goes on clearance the day after!  

Do you do anything special on these Hallmark Holidays?  


Sunday, February 12, 2017


This time the green kind!  

Don't you just love receiving unexpected money?  Who doesn't?!  For those of us who are snowballing our way out of debt and are already budgeting every dollar, we refer to this unexpected money as a snowflake.  

This past week I have been blessed to receive two such snowflakes.  One was in the form of a small rebate of $2.01 and the other $30.97 for holiday pay at my part time job.  For the life of me I can never remember which holidays we get paid for so it always comes as a  nice surprise whenever it is on my check.  Being so very part time, I'm thankful to receive any amount of holiday pay, no matter how small.    

The thing about these snowflakes is that they need to be put to use fast!  Left alone, they can quickly disappear.  This journey to get out of debt takes a lot of determination, which also requires being intentional with each and every dollar that comes our way.  For those of you who have been reading my blog, I'm sure you know exactly where these two small snowflakes are going.  Yep, beefing up the baby emergency fund.  I went ahead and transferred $25, which also accounts for the taxes that came out of my holiday pay.  We continue inching snowflaking our way to our first goal of having $2,000 in that account.  

The nice thing about green snowflakes is that you can help them to come your way.  Last Sunday I listed 5 items on eBay, with 3 of those items already having bids.  While they aren't huge ticket items, every little bit helps.  I know others who are digging their way out of debt take on extra jobs, have garage sales, babysit, dog walk...anything that creates more money to throw at debt.  The more that gets thrown at debt, the quicker it will go away!  

What are some of the things you've done (or are currently doing) to help knock out debt?  Are you making it a point to be intentional with the extra money that comes your way?  


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Don't leave money on the table!

Digging out of debt takes focus!

I almost left $3.29 on the table.  Well, not literally.  It was $3.29 that I had coming back to me from Walmart's Saving Catcher app.  Thank you to fellow blogger over at One Family One Income for the reminder to collect what I almost left behind.  This was from a shopping trip I took last Saturday.  Had I waited another day or so, I'd have lost out on this money.  

While for most of us $3.29 isn't exactly life changing, it did get me to thinking.  How many other times have I lost money simply by not paying attention or by (gasp) being lazy?  Probably a lot!  It's the little amounts that why seemingly no big deal, over time can really start to add up!  While no one can possibly keep track of every money saving opportunity, I really do see where putting forth a more focused effort can pay off.  For those of us digging our way out of debt, the more money we keep in our own pockets means the more money we can put towards our debt.  Now that is a real motivator!  

So as not to feel overwhelmed, I'm going to make a list.  Walmart's Saving Catcher will be the first thing I add to it.  I also want to revisit using Ibotta and Checkout 51 again.  Receipt Hog is yet another app I'll be checking out as well.  Thank you One Family One Income for also passing that one along!  Having a list to check will serve as a reminder to actually take advantage of these money saving opportunities.

Whether it be clipping a coupon, scanning a receipt or earning via Swagbucks, it really doesn't take that much time to do these things. Think of it as money being left on the table and go start picking it up!  Remember, it is YOUR money and you'll be surprised at just how quickly it will add up!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Changing the Family Tree

Could this just be the year?  

Great news!  Our two kids and their spouses are going to see Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze!  Yes, they are going to a Smart Money event and I am one very happy momma!  

Over the years our kids have often heard me talk about Dave Ramsey.  I think it mostly fell on deaf ears, but they kindly amused me by listening.  I've sent them books (they both live out of state) in hopes that they would learn something we did a very poor job of teaching.  Other than knowing we still have a mortgage, our children have no idea of where we stand financially.  It is honestly not something that, right or wrong,  I am comfortable discussing with them at this point.  I have, however, shared with DD that her dad was finally on board about getting completely debt free.  Again, that more or less seemed to fall on deaf ears.  From what she sees, we as her parents, have no money issues.  We have a nice house, drive decent cars, have nice could we even possibly have any money issues?  Oh the things we do to our children.  

DD and her hubby also seem to have it all.  They have a nice house, drive nice cars, have lots of expensive toys, have lots of children (they've had five in 11 years of marriage!) and they also have lots of debt.  I only know about the debt part because DD will often mention that they took out a loan for this or for that.  It always makes me cringe inside to hear about them going down the same financial path we chose for far too many years.

DS and his wife have only been married a couple of years.  They don't have a house, they drive an older vehicle, have no expensive toys, have no children (yet) but they also spend every dime they make...or at least that is what I hear via the grapevine (aka DD).  Again, I cringe seeing them start out this way.  Such a prime time in their life to be saving for their future.  

Yesterday the grapevine (aka DD) was expressing concern to me about her brother and his finances.  I mostly listened and let her talk.  Then a "strange" thing happened.  DD brought up Dave Ramsey!  Again I continued to listen and let her talk and then she mentioned hearing that Dave was coming to their area.  The eventual outcome of our conversation...our kids and their spouses now have tickets to the Smart Money event next month!  My initial thought was to offer to pay for it, but first of all, it isn't in our budget.  Secondly, since DD shelled out $196 for them all to go, I'm sure she will make sure that they do indeed attend!  Kind of like when you have to pay your own way through college (which I did), you put more effort into it.  I did, however, locate a coupon code which saved her over $40.  

Now with my DD all geeked up about "her idea" of going to this live event and helping DS change his ways, I have renewed hope that our family tree will change.  I know not to push it too much, but I did (via Amazon) order yet another book for DD.  By tomorrow she should receive  Love Your Life Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze.  I have read this book and I really feel it speaks to my daughter's generation.  With my daughter all geeked up about the live event, she is now equally eager to read this book.  I am one happy momma!  


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thousands of people can't be wrong...can they?

Following the "Dave Plan" takes trust!

Last night I found myself awake at 3 AM.  So many thoughts were racing through my mind.  At this point in our journey, it isn't surprising that each and every one of them revolved around money.  In all fairness, I can't really blame Dave Ramsey for this sleepless night.  Over the years I've lost countless hours of sleep because of our finances.  Last night was a little different though.  I found myself questioning not only our own journey, but the journeys of others.

As an avid Dave Ramsey junky, I am part of a lot of different groups all focused on his plan.  While it almost sounds cult-like, I assure you it isn't!  We are all (well, I like to think most of us are!) just trying to do whatever it takes to dig ourselves out of our financial messes.  Support groups certainly aren't anything new.  Communities are full of them...everything from weight loss to "my mother-in-law is mean to me*" are available should you need the support.  You name it, it's out there.  And if a group hasn't already been created, you can always start one and I'm sure in no time you'll find people to join.  So how about these "Dave" groups?  

In one of the smaller groups I am active in, I posted a question about baby (aka beginner) emergency funds.  In general, Dave Ramsey recommends having $1,000 in this fund.  This is also considered to be baby step one of his plan.  The feedback I received was fairly consistent with no vast differences.  I'm also part of another much larger group with those members doing the same thing.  That is a lot of people with what I still feel is a small emergency fund!  The other steps to the plan are also being followed in a similar fashion.  Perhaps with some slight variances, but again, nothing too extreme.  Bottom line is that thousands upon thousands of people are not only working this plan but are winning at it!  

So while I may sometimes question it all, I still feel strongly that this is the right plan for us.  The success stories do speak for themselves.  Thousands of people simply cannot be wrong!  


* Disclaimer...although in the past my mother-in-law has indeed been mean to me, I am not currently in need of that type of support group!  😏

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Please don't leave me hanging!

A heartfelt message to all my fellow personal finance bloggers!

How many of you have ever watched a television series or read a book that leaves you hanging?  I'm not talking about the ones that eventually return with a new season or a sequel, I'm talking about the ones that seem to vanish into thin air, never to be seen or heard from again.   I'm sure most of us have.

As I have delved into the blogging world of personal finance, I have found myself getting drawn into the lives of the various writers.  I find myself eager to read their next post about meeting a certain goal, saving more, spending less and even just stories of what is going on in their lives.  No, I'm not some kind of Gladys Kravitz from the Bewitched sitcom of the 60s/70s wanting to poke my nose in where it doesn't belong.  I'm probably a lot like you....someone desperately trying to do whatever I can to get out of debt and reach my retirement goals once and for all.  

One thing I have experienced in my financial quest is stumbling across a lot of very well written blogs that have left their readers hanging, wondering just what happened next.  They are bloggers with often similar stories to mine.  They are bloggers who have given me hope that I, too, can continue making progress in my own journey to financial freedom.  So then, just what is my message?  My message is to all you wonderful bloggers (I mean that!) who, like a television series or a book have invited me as your reader (and fellow blogger) into your life.  Please don't leave me hanging wondering what became of you!   

While no, we don't owe it to our readers to finish our stories, I think we should.  I don't feel we have the right to let readers into our lives without at least saying goodbye.  For those who have, I am thankful!  I do get where there are times when a person loses the desire to write or perhaps they feel that they've come to an end of their story.  I'm also certainly not pointing fingers because I've been guilty of doing the same thing myself.  I honestly feel badly about having done so.  Although I still own the domains, my old blogs are no longer searchable on the web.  I can't offer a guaranty that someday I'll end this blog too.   When and if that time comes, I will do my best to at least say goodbye.  I won't leave you hanging, wondering where I went or whether or not I did succeed in my quest to achieve financial freedom.  That, I feel, is what we all owe our readers.  


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Debt Free Calculators

By following your plan, you will be debt free in a million years!

Have you ever played around with one of those debt free calculators?  You know the kind.  Enter your numbers, interest rates, etc and it will give you an estimate of how long it will take you to get out of debt.  While an estimate of a million years is obviously stretching it, for someone who is already in their 50s, the number may as well be a million years.  Depressing, huh?  Could be, but it doesn't necessary need to be!

I honestly think the results of these calculators should come with a disclaimer and potentially some warnings.  A disclaimer in that circumstances seldom stay the same.  Change is all part of the journey we call life.  The warning, aside from the potential heart attack the numbers might give you, could be that the results might just shock you enough to actually do something about it!

What plugging in our numbers has done for me is to reinforce what I already knew...we have to make changes, and thankfully, we are!  It is often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  That's exactly what we would be doing if we followed those projections, which we won't.  Being a numbers nerd, I'll still play around with the calculator, but it will be with different numbers proving those million years to be wrong.  


Monday, February 6, 2017

A Change in Targets

Rearranging the debt snowball

Come up with $4,000 and then $10,000 worth of debt will "magically" go away.  Hmm, doesn't that sound like a good deal?  Let me share...

We have a car with an outstanding balance of just a smidge over $10K.   With this balance drags a $281 payment . Lately though, I've been rounding it up to $300.  DH feels we could get $7,000 for the car.  I think we would be lucky to get $6,000 for it.  No matter which figure we hypothetically use, the bottom line is that we are still upside with it.  

While we do like the car, we don't actually need it.  Good thing, since it can't make it down our road in the Winter.  I even decreased the insurance on it given that it sits all Winter.  Whether we use my Dh's figure, mine or even a slightly lower or higher one, unloading this car would greatly decrease our overall debt and also therefore increase our debt snowball.  

Given that we don't currently have an extra $3,000+ to throw at it, we have decided to bump this debt to the top of our list and make it our next target to be snowballed.  Getting rid of this car would also save us on insurance and yearly auto tags.  I'm all for following Dave Ramsey's advice of smallest to largest, but this just makes sense.  

Last December the hospital offered us a 30% discount off our balance if we paid it in full.  Coming up with the money was a bit of a struggle, but by doing so, we ultimately saved $780 and dumped the $150 monthly payment arrangement we had with them.  I'm viewing this car in a similar way.  How fast can we can we come up with this money?  Hard to predict but with this goal in mind, I'm again ready for the challenge.  We still need to finish beefing up our baby emergency fund (bringing it up to $2,000) and then the gloves are coming off to get rid of this car and the payment it is dragging along with it.  

Since I'm old enough to realize that even the best laid out plans can change, I'll simply say that this is our current plan for now.  Along with finishing up our BEF, we still need to get through tax season.  January and February are always the busiest time for our CPA so I've given myself until March to get our tax info off to him.  

Yesterday did end up being a financially productive day.  I managed to work 4 hours at my office job and listed 5 items on eBay.  It also ended up being a good day for my business, although until we get through tax season, we aren't taking a draw from it.  I also handled a large envelope of sales tax info being sent off to multiple states.  Unfortunately that also meant writing almost $200 worth of checks out of our business account, but that's the cost of doing business.  On a side note, hiring a bookkeeper was one of the best things I have ever done!  Definitely been well worth it.  

Getting back to our debt snowball, does this change make sense to you?  For those of you following the Dave Ramsey plan, have you ever rearranged your debt order?  Would love to hear your thoughts.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Snow, snow, snow and more snow!

The white stuff, not the green!

I'm beginning to think that all my talk about snowballs has Mother Nature confused.  According to the weather reports, she is preparing to dump 12-18 inches of the white stuff across our area.  Those are not the kind of snowflakes we need for our snowballs! Yesterday we had what looked to be about 5 inches. This next heavier round is supposed to start later on tonight.  This will not only add to our plowing bill but may also cost me a few hours at my job.  I think I'll try and get a few hours in today.  Again, that will depend on the weather.  Right now it is super windy which usually means extreme drifting so it isn't looking promising.

In yesterday's post I mentioned making a visual to track our savings.  I came across Debt Free Charts with all sorts of free downloads.  Heidi offers a wealth of different charts, so if you need something to help track your progress and keep you motivated, I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for on her blog.  Since we are now working on beefing up our baby emergency fund to $2,000 (ultimate goal of $3,000 while on baby step 2) I printed off that one and will keep it in front of our budget binder.  

As much as I always dread it, I'm going to get my eBay items listed today.  Sunday tends to be a good day for starting auctions.  For those of you who may have never sold on eBay, it really is quite simple to do.  It is also a good way to unload and make some extra money from items you may already have.  Don't let my personal dread of it scare you away.  My feelings stem from comparing it to the simplicity of my e-commerce business.  Once the eBay items are listed and are live, it really is fun to watch the bids come in.  Crazy what people will pay for things.  

I best get to my day.  Weather permitting, I'd like to make it to church as well.  The wind remains fierce so going out isn't looking too good right now.  


Saturday, February 4, 2017

We have it straightened out

Sure you do.  Until the next time.  Sigh

Can you tell that I'm not holding my breath that our credit union did indeed fix this payment problem?  After 4 calls, they finally took their money which had been in our account since the last week in January.  After logging on this morning, I see yet another issue.  Our payment is supposed to drop by $210 with our March payment.  No change seen.  I'll give them a couple of weeks.  Hopefully their system just needs to catch up to reflect this.  Again, I won't hold my breath.  On to a far better topic...

We now have an extra $50 added to our baby emergency fund (EF) thanks to "dripping pennies" from Swagbucks.  I always cash out for PayPal deposits and then have that money transferred to our bank account.  I am eager to get our baby emergency fund up to $2,000 so we can resume our debt snowball.  Another $700 and we will be there.    

I think about the amount we still need and it really doesn't seem like a lot of money to me.  But, it is a lot of money with an already tight budget.  It would be (and often is) easy to get down in the dumps when thinking about it.  DH was feeling much like this yesterday.  There are a lot of emotions attached to not only having debt but also with deciding to get rid of it!  The way you look at money changes.  With DH already doing everything he can, it is now my turn to be strong.  $700...I'm coming after you!  I'm going to view this as something that must be achieved by the end of the month.  Good thing I've always enjoyed a challenge.  My plan of attack:

  • Make a savings thermometer.  Told you I was a visual person!
  • $200 already budgeted for savings.  BOOM, now down to only needing $500!
  • Earn another $50 from Swagbucks
  • Tighten up the grocery budget.  With DH being away, this is reasonable.
  • Continue working any available extra hours at my job.
  • eBay more items.  Not my favorite platform to sell on, but still a way of bringing in more money.  
  • Possible $210 savings from decreased mortgage payment in March, but won't count on our credit union straightening this out before the end of the month.  Sad, I know.  

"You make way too much money to be this broke."  I hear Dave Ramsey telling people that on a regular basis.  He would be absolutely correct in telling us the very same thing.  With these words in minds, I am going to do something about it.  $700 really isn't a lot of money and today I am feeling empowered to do something about it!

What are some of your financial challenges? Better yet, what are you doing about them?  


Friday, February 3, 2017

Slave to the Lender

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender."  Proverbs 22:7

There is certainly a lot of truth to this verse.  I really felt it yesterday when I placed a call to our credit union to inquire as to why they hadn't yet taken out the mortgage payment.  I've been going in circles with them ever since we took out this mortgage with them.  Last Summer I thought I had it all straightened out whereas they would automatically take it out on the first of the month.  This had been working beautifully until yesterday when I saw our funds still hadn't been transferred.  Lovely.  Waited a good 20 minutes to even speak to a real person who then proceeded to tell me that I had been calling every month to do this.  Um, no.  I most certainly have not!  Having gone rounds with them over this before, I then ask to speak directly with a supervisor.  Again, I get the same story.  Then this supervisor wants to know what phone number I used to initially set this up.  Good grief.  Between my old and new numbers, plus our landline (yeah, we still have one of those!) and my dh's cell, how could I possibly remember which phone I used?  At that point I was half expecting her to ask what I had for breakfast that morning all those months ago.  I was told she would look into it and call me back in a few hours.  Didn't happen.  Nor did the payment get credited.  To say that I was aggravated is putting it mildly.  DH is much more diplomatic with these things so he said he would take it from here.  God bless him.  After spending a good hour of my day on this, his offer was music to my ears.

While there will always be situations that may cause your blood to boil, this call to the credit union could have been completely avoided by not owing them a dime in the first place.  Yes, as in the Bible passage, we have become slave to the lender.  

Given that this lender is who holds our mortgage, it will be years before we can discontinue our dealings with them.  Refinancing is simply not an option for financial reasons.  We simply have no choice but to continue dealing with their incompetence.  If you're ever looking for a credit union not to use, ask me.  The least I can do is spare someone else the headache.  

Oh how I cannot wait until we are no longer in the position of being slave to the lender.  Phone calls like yesterday make me all the more eager to get out of the position we are in.  

On a positive note, the sun is shining and that is always something to be thankful for!  



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Oh how I love a good financial book!

If you are planning on retiring someday (and who isn't?!) the book "The 5 Years Before You Retire" by Emily Guy Birken sounds like a must read!  I have not personally read this book (yet!) but hope to very soon!  Thanks to fellow blogger Sluggy over at Don't Read This; It's Boring, you have a chance to win it.

Don't delay, enter today at Don't Read This; It's Boring!  


21 Days and 21 Posts

All part of my journey to get debt free!

Wow.  Hard to believe that I have reached this mini milestone!  Somehow I have now managed to bore enlighten those of you who are following my journey for 21 days straight!  I started blogging for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I wanted something to help keep me financially accountable.  This blog is certainly helping me in that area.  Secondly, I wanted to reach out to others in similar situations.  Digging your way out of debt at any age isn't any fun, let alone when you are in your 50's.  I figured there had to others who were facing the same challenge.  Much like the many blogs I follow, I hope that my blog will also serve as a way to encourage others.  Yes, many of us have done stupid with zeros but that certainly doesn't need to be the end of our stories.  We can do this!  We can dig ourselves out of the messes we created and go into our retirement years without the stress of debt.  Our stories can have happy endings!

With all of this get 'out of debt' stuff in mind, I did end up going out yesterday for a few hours to work on my business.  With the snow letting up and the sun making a short appearances, I figured the roads would be okay.  Except for about 4 miles, the drive to town is mostly highway miles.  About 20 miles into my trip to town there was a mass of fire trucks and police cars.  Thankfully it was on the opposite side of the highway, so it didn't effect my drive.  The few hours I spent in town were successful so I was glad I had gone.  On the way home though,  traffic was stalled for a vehicle that had flipped over.  No idea what happened in either of these cases as the road was dry.  Hopefully there were no injuries.  

Not sure yet what today will bring, but I will try to make it a productive one.   I do need to go into work for a few hours.  Sometimes I think I should quit that job but along with the flexibility I have with my hours, they pay well and I like being able to count on that steady check.  It is also so part time that  it really doesn't take up that much of my time.  With my business I have to be more disciplined.  The more effort I put into it, the more  I earn.  It also has the huge benefit of letting me be my own boss.  In both positions, I am happy to no longer be punching a clock.  

Between fielding phone calls and other interruptions, this post feels like it has taken me 21 days to write!  Some days are just like that.  Best get moving before this blends into yet another day and another blog post!  Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A $38 dollar bottle of oil

Why does needing only one item end up costing so much?  

Forgetting to buy an item at the store sure can be expensive.  After going to work for a few hours I stopped at the grocery store for what was supposed to be just the oil I had forgotten to buy the last time I was there.  $38 dollars later, I now have the forgotten oil along with a lot of other items.  I hadn't really planned on doing any additional grocery shopping this week.  On the bright side, these additional items were the result of the sales week turning over so I did get some good deals.  I bought several packages of meat which I put in the freezer and also more fruit.  Not entirely sure how the Doritos found their way into my shopping cart, but snack food has a sneaky way of doing that sometimes.  

Strange,  but when I shop for my business I have no problem with compulsive purchases.  Good thing, since my business has me in different stores multiple times a month.  Maybe I need to treat grocery shopping the same way.  I'm sure that shopping with a list and sticking to it would help as well.  I'll need to give that some thought while I munch on those sneaky Doritos.

I had hoped to use today to shop for my business but the weather didn't cooperate.  We had lots of snow during the night.  Enough that our driveway needed to be plowed.  We get way too much snow plus given the length of our driveway, shoveling it is not an option.  I would never be able to keep up with it.  I'd probably feel like the episode of I Love Lucy where she and her sidekick Ethel took jobs at a chocolate factory.  I think that'd be more fun than trying to keep up with this never ending snow though!  

So today I'll do some work from home.  My office needs some attention and I still have taxes to work on.  Always plenty to keep me busy.