Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Meet Mickey: My New Ride! :)

I mentioned in my last post that we bought a 2002 Volkswagen Beetle to be my daily driver.  Now that we have four drivers in the house, all with school and jobs to get to, we were having a hard time sharing three cars.  We scratched up a bit of money and bought my "dream" car. :)  I've wanted a Beetle since I was a teenager and the older New Beetles were finally in my price range (aka CHEAP). It's definitely a fixer-upper but I've had a blast working on it. It is a 2002, 1.0 liter diesel with 152K miles.  I'm getting about 31 MPG in town and about 34 MPG on the highway! The car was really dirty so Aaron and I have been cleaning it a bit at a time. I've also been giving it some Disney-inspired touches. It's still a work in progress but here's a look at how he's doing:

The front bumper was all scratched up and had a really bad touch up paint job on the passenger side. We found a replacement bumper cover at the Pick & Pull for cheap and it looks so much better now!

The dash bezel was all scratched up and the previous owner spilled glue or something on it - I'm really not sure what it was. Aaron took it off and I sanded it down and painted it red. Under the bow, Aaron drilled two holes and threaded a zip tie through so I have a permanent loop to hold bows. I can change them out as often as I'd like! How cool is that?!

Beetles are known for broken glove box doors. Mine was not just broken, it was completely missing! I made a curtain and used spring-loaded curtain rods to cover where the door would go.
...and of course I made a matching bow! :)

My sister Mamie, made me this awesome Mickey head table runner for Christmas. It fits the back of my trunk cover perfectly! smile emoticon

Saturday, June 13, 2015

So many stories, so little time!

Once again, it's been a while since I wrote. A lot has happened since my last post and we've been really, really busy.  For starters, at the end of January I found a new part time job as a help desk technician for a large medical firm here in town.  For a few months I was working there three full days a week, going to college the other two days a week, and working at my church on Saturdays!  Now that school is out (bagged another 4.0 this past semester - yay!) things have settled down. I've also since quit my church job so right now, I am working five days a week, still part time, at my help desk job.  I really like the job and the pay is pretty good, so for now, it's working.

Jake, our first born son, also got a job this spring. He's working at a hamburger joint in town and enjoying the work but not enjoying tax and standard deductions from his paychecks. ;)  Since Jake is working now, we gave him $1,000 to buy a car. We found him a Jeep Grand Cherokee off of Craig's List. It's nothing fancy but it hasn't left him stranded yet!

With four drivers, each of us having jobs, we were hard pressed to share three vehicles so I recently bought my dream car: a Volkswagen Beetle!  I will be posting more about it soon. It's a cosmetic fixer-upper and Aaron and I have been working on it as we have time.  It already looks so much better than it did when I bought it.

Probably the biggest and bestest (yes, I know it's not a real word) news I can share is that we got a new Shih Tzu puppy! Her name is Maizey and she is just the sweetest thing!  She was born on January 31, 2015 and she is four and a half months old.  I'll share a few pictures of her here and I'm sure there will be more to come!  :)

Quick update on our debt snowball:  We are currently at 65% paid off and we are down to three credit cards.  Although progress has slowed a bit with purchasing a puppy and two vehicles, we are not charging and still paying down as we can.  Getting into debt is so easy.  Getting out is so hard!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy New Year!

Hey everyone!  I totally fell off the radar there for awhile as we wrapped up 2014.  Sorry about that! :)  I'm back with an update to our debt journey!  Aaron and I recently sat down and figured out the progress we made this past year and we were amazed!  The Lord has really blessed us and helped us to be diligent towards our debt snowball.  We are happy to report that we are over 60% out of consumer debt!  Woohoo!  I can't tell you how good it feels to be headed in the right direction after living off of our credit cards for so many years.  I always blamed having five kids as my reason to charge basic things like food or gas, thinking one day we would have a windfall, a big promotion, an inheritance, or something  to get us out of the mess.  Now, I'm so grateful that I finally understand how to create a budget and, more importantly, stick to it!  We hope that by this time next year we will be working on baby step three: a fully funded emergency fund.  For now, we will keep plugging along with baby step two - less than 40% to go!!

We decided that we would have what we call a "no spend January" in order to jump start our debt snowball for 2015.  The rules are NO spending for anything other than essentials unless it's money on a gift card.  Well, for Christmas, my extended family just happened to give me gift cards to Hallmark, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, Michaels, and Dunkin' Donuts!  I finally put them to good use today when I purchased a Lilly Pulitzer planner and supplies to decorate it.  I am already in LOVE with this planner!  I went with the jumbo size and it has so much room to write in!  I will show photos of the inside and how I'm decorating it, and more importantly, using it to organize my life once I get it put together.  I bought birthday stickers to mark friend's and family member's birthdays, as well as snowflakes to mark debt snowball payments, and extra fun stickers for....well....fun!  Here's a peek at what my gift cards bought:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Free Lunch

"There is no such thing as a free lunch" is a very common quote in  our society today.  Believe it or not, I am sitting in a school cafeteria right this minute....typing away......while my children enjoy a free lunch. Even though we are homeschoolers, our local school district offers a free summer lunch program for kids of all ages.  The food isn't fantastic, but they have their favorites (spaghetti and chili dogs).  I think they enjoy it more for the experience than the flavors.  Once or twice a week they are given apples and most of the time, we take them home and make an apple pie or crisp, so that's fun.

So is their lunch really free?  They show up between 11:00 and 12:15 and are given a tray of food by a very friendly cafeteria staff member.  (I'm not kidding..the ladies that work here are awesome.)  But is it really free?  Not for me, it's not.  We've had to bump up our gas budget to allow for the extra miles on Tina (the Suburban).  It also takes a lot of time out of my day; right in the middle of the day at that.

So why do I do it?  Becuase they like it.  We've never been able to spoil our kids with expensive dance lessons, music lessons, or costly sports programs.  School lunch is something you don't get when you homeschool so they enjoy the little cartons of milk and prepackaged cheese sticks, carrots, and entrees.  

All of that being said, today is the last day for free lunch and I am glad.  ;)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Beans & Rice

If you're familiar with Dave Ramsey and his program, then you are familiar with beans and rice. Sometimes, so eliquently put by Dave as, "Beans and rice, BAaaby!!" :)  The whole idea is to have a "beans and rice" lifestyle while you're in your debt snowball in order to be as gazelle intense towards your debt as you can be.  Everyone knows that beans and rice are the cheapest way to feed your family; and dinners with meat cost significantly more.

A lot of people don't like beans and rice.  My family actually does, except my husband.  So, when he is on night shift, I try to make some sort of bean meal at least once a week.  Beans - other than the carb load that makes them hard to swallow for diabetics like myself - are pretty healthy compared to pastas, mashed potatoes, etc. and I don't mind serving them to my kids at all.  Their favorite beans are pintos and they love some good old fashioned cornbread to go with them --- another cheap componant to dinner.  Pintos and cornbread costs about $3-$4 for the whole meal and there are usually leftovers!!

So why am I blogging about beans??  Glad you asked.  ;)  I got to thinking this morning that the hardest thing about feeding my family beans is remembering to put them in the crock pot.  I know, I know...that sounds silly.  For those of you who cook, you know that when you have dry beans they need hours......HOURS.....to cook.  Some dry beans need to be set out in water the night before so you can cook them the next day.  So what's the problem?  Glad you asked.  ;)  I seem to always forget to set them out.  It really got me thinking that you have to be intentional, even with your beans!!  The key to getting out of debt is to plan...do things "on purpose, on paper" as Dave says....even with your beans!  So my personal challenge for myself this week is to be intentional not just about money and my cash envelope system, but also with my beans.  Cheers!!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Introducing Mopsters, Inc.!

So for those of you who've been following me for a while, you know I'm just a little bit too crazy/high energy for my own good.  In the spring, knowing my piano teaching income would come to a halt, I began looking for a part time job to keep the debt snowball going.  Not having much luck, and finding a $10 per hour cleaning job as my only viable option, I decided that if I were going to clean, I'd really like to make a bit more per hour than that.  That's when it hit me:  I'm good at cleaning.... I enjoy cleaning....  Why not start a cleaning company?  So, I did.  Yep, I'm crazy.  Crazy cleaning lady!!

I found a real estate broker on Carolina Beach willing to give us a chance with three condos she manages as weekly beach rentals.  They're absolutely beautiful and we've been cleaning them for about six weeks now.  The broker we're working with is awesome and has been throwing extra jobs our way, too.  (Thanks, Cindi!!)  So far, Mopsters has replaced all of my piano income, plus some!  I've even hired all of my kids to help me so as they're earning, I can teach them to give, save, and spend.  Not having the extra money to buy them things during the debt snowball, I find it an absolute treasure to be able to give them work so they can buy things for themselves.  It's a win/WIN!!

So here's to dusting and mopping our way to debt freedom!  As the summer winds down and the beach condos are no longer rented every week, I'll need to find some new cleaning gigs, but for now, we are thrilled to be working every weekend.  Debt freedom....here we come!!

Check out the awesome Mopster Monsters my sister created for me. I ordered business cards (below) and car magnets (above). She's creating her own business doing logos so if you even need any, let me know. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Introducing Cash, Aaron's New Ride!

After selling Duke and sharing one car, we were on the hunt for a second vehicle. We searched for about a week and found this: 

It's a 1997 Chrysler Sebring Convertible with 135,000 miles and we paid $2,200 for it.....in cash!  I've never paid cash for a car before and let me tell ya, it's fun!  Aaron named the car Cash. :)

We live very close to the beach so having a convertible is especially fun. I must admit, it's really fun to go cruisin' in. We're going to have to keep a eye on our gas envelope. ;)