Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year Resolutions

It's New Year's Eve!  This year we are hanging out at home. My sister and her family are visiting from Michigan and we were planning on getting together but they have colds and they shared with my mom and dad. No fun!  We did spend some time together this afternoon as we celebrated my grandpa's 89th birthday but everyone was pretty wiped out after the party. So, I'm sitting here in my PJs blogging. What a start to the new year, hun?

I was just collecting my thoughts on what I want to resolve to do this year. One thing came to mind quickly. I have a LARGE cross stitch that I started years ago and never finished so finishing that is going on the list. (It's a big Amazing Grace hymn page with the music score and a big floral border.) I'm not sure how I want to resolve to make progress in our debt snowball plan, but it is definitely on the short list. I think I will resolve to be intentional with money. We will continue to set goals for specific cards as we plug along, but I'm not sure how to set a reasonable goal for the whole year. I'd love to resolve to have at least half of our debt paid off by the end of 2014 but I'm not sure that's attainable. So, resolving to be intentional with money will work. That will include bi-weekly budget meetings, using cash for purchases, not borrowing any more money, setting short term goals and paying down on debt with gazelle intensity. 

I'm sure I'll come up with some other goals for the year but I haven't thought of them yet. :) I have two extra boys here tonight and Mrs. Puff is fired up and dashing across my bedroom floor. She's excited for the new year, I guess! :P (Mrs. Puff is my six month old siamese mix kitten.) :)
Here is Mrs. Puff hanging out on my guitar case. :) I rescued her this fall from my grandparent's house. Her parents were feral and she was one of two litters they had living under their house. Brady caught her when she was about five weeks old and she's been a close friend ever since. I love my Mrs. Puff - definitely a highlight of my year!! :)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Our First Emergency......!

We knew it was bound to happen. Dave Ramsey says it'll rain. When people tell him he has to stay positive, he tells them, "I am positive. I'm positive it's going to rain!" That's pretty funny.....until it happens!  ;)

My car has been squeaking for awhile so we new a repair was coming, but I had no idea that it would take $400 to fix it. The squeaking was the AC belt, however the bigger problem was a "thump, thump, thump" that I kept hearing. After some quick Internet research, I realized that driving a 'thumping' car was not wise. We took it to our mechanic and sure enough, it was a doosey!  

Aaron seemed almost giddy about going to the bank and taking out 40% of our emergency fund to pay for this repair. He was glad it was there and said it wasn't stressful at all. I get what he's saying...really I do. However, I found the whole ordeal bothersome. I know that we can build back up the emergency fund but I'd rather be paying down on debt!  Now that I've realized we CAN and WILL get out from under debt, I'm just in a hurry to get it over with. :) I keep reminding myself that it took years to spend my way into this mess and it's going to take time to get out. Patience is not my strong point. ;)

After doing the bills lat paycheck, I had almost $200 leftover that was supposed to go to the debt snowball. I still wanted to send it to the visa and deal with the emergency fund over the next two paychecks, but Aaron wanted it replace what we took from the emergency fund. So, we decided to ask my parents what they would do. They had a split vote, too!  My mom agreed with Aaron (as usual) ;) and my dad agreed with me. I even asked about a 50/50 split: half to the emergency fund, half to the debt. No go. So, that $200 still sits in our checking account waiting to be issued to the debt or the emergency fund. At this point, we're decided to wait until next payday to decide where to put everything. I think by then, thanks to some overtime and holiday pay, we can replace what's missing in the emergency fund and still have a chunk to pay on the debt snowball.  So, this story is to be continued. :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kip's Homemade Christmas Present

Here is an original design Aaron and I came up with for Kip. It's a quilted Tic-Tac-Toe board with wooden X's and O's, a 'can't say no' card and a Velcro pocket to keep them in. 

Cosmetic Bags and Tissue Pouches

Here's a look at the gifts I made for the ladies in my family. I followed Noodlehead's Open Wide Zippered Pouch tutorial for these.  My mom' sis in a Mickey Mouse fabric because, well, she loves Mickey. (Don't we all?) :)
I bought a keychain in Disney that had several fobs on it and repurposed it for the zipper pulls on these cosmetic bags. Here's a look at a couple others:

They were pretty simple to make and I really enjoyed the process. I'd definitely recommend the tutorial from Noodlehead.  The tissue pouch was from a different blog. I'll list the links below. :)

Old Navy and Dr. Dube are PAID OFF!

Our last paycheck was quite a bit bigger than normal so we were able to say goodbye to Old Navy, which we owed about $43 on. That card had only been used a couple of times to buy jeans for the younger two boys and an outfit for Aaron. It was a small balance to begin with (>$100) but it felt great to pay off yet another card!  We also were able to pay off our dental bill which was $80.60. That frees up $75 for our debt snowball because each of those, along with QVC, were paid $25 each month. It's crazy how quickly the debt snowball grows!

We also had about $138 leftover to pay towards our next debt, which is a Bank of America Visa with a balance of just over $3,160. The main thing on that Visa is a replacement AC unit that we bought three summers ago. We've always made the minimum payment but never really got anywhere because my monthly Planet Fitness membership was also billed to that card. (Of course, that membership is cancelled now, but it was $19.99 a month.). With the gym membership being billed to it, along with the monthly interest charge, my payment of $60 a month barely made a dent in the original AC purchase. Not anymore!  Our debt snowball has picked up steam so we will be paying a minimum of $135 to that card from now on. We'll also put any extra money on it as it appears. I'm hoping to have it paid off within a few months (by Aaron's birthday on April 16th) but that might be pushing it. We'll see. :)

Merry Christmas!

A couple weeks ago I found this video on Dave Ramsey's Facebook page that gives the idea of making a Christmas mosaic ornament out of your old credit cards. I couldn't resist. My mom and I got together the other day and each made one. Here's the video link: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fBbJn6cDE_k

And here's my ornament:
I wrapped it up and gave it to Aaron as gift. 

So just to recap, Aaron received this crazy ornament, a bed pocket for Tums, and a tub of cashews that I got at a gift exchange. Laugh. Out. Loud. 

We are no longer normal.....  ;)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Super Silly Present: A Bed Pocket :)

So, you know we're not spending any money on gifts this year. I am making each of my family members a home made gift and today I made Aaron's. Almost every night he gets heartburn during the night. He doesn't have a bed stand on his side so he has to get up and walk to the dresser to get Tums. I had the idea to make him a bed pocket to hold his Tums so he wouldn't have to get up. I think this is so silly, but I think he'll love it. :)

It will stay in place as the long fabric top will be between the mattress and the box spring, like this:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bye Bye QVC!

Baby Step Two in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University plan is the debt snowball. In this step you list every debt out from the smallest balance to the largest balance. The plan is to attack the smallest balance first with 'gazelle intensity'.  Since completing Baby Step One, we've been working on our first (smallest) debt: QVC.  We owed them $40.91 and I'm happy to say the balance has been paid in full. 

Our next debt is to Old Navy. That balance was just over $80 and I had a little extra after paying QVC so I was able to pay $38 on it. Our next Payday is this Wednesday and I'm hoping we'll be able to pay it off completely then. 

So far, the extra money to build the starter emergency fund and the debt snowball has come from piano lessons and selling on Craig's List. I am just amazed at how quickly little things add up!  This week I sold a floor lamp that we never use for $15, hot rollers for $15 and a bike for $10. Those alone paid off QVC. I just find it exciting to be making a dent in this mountain of debt. 

In other news, I have been working hard on Christmas presents and hope to have some crafty posts up soon. :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Slam Dunk Baby Step One!

I'm so excited to say that we have indeed passed through baby step one in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace program! (Baby step one is to build a starter emergency fund of $1,000 so you never have to use a credit card for unexpected expenses. He calls it "Murphy-proofing" your budget.) :) 

We have been selling a lot on Craig's List. We sold some bikes for $120, a sewing machine for $40 and even some salt and pepper shakers for $10. I tell ya, when Dave said, "Sell so much stuff that the kids think they're next" I took it literally. LOL!  If we don't need it, if it's not an heirloom item and if it can't make money, it's going to be for sale!  I figure I can always re-buy anything I truly miss, right?

Recently on Facebook a saw a post of a family from China pictured with all of their worldly possessions. They had so little, yet they have everything they need. I think the Lord showed me that picture intentionally because something inside me clicked. I've always been somewhat of a minimalist. I donate to the Goodwill at least once a month.  (Jake calls the drop off boxes donate dumpsters. LOL!) I don't typically keep things I don't use or need, but now that I've seen that photo, I've realized that even the things I've kept may not actually be necessary. I'm taking a second look at everything in my house and if it's not truly needed, it's for sale. It's freeing!  And as each 'thing' leaves, I feel lighter, cleaner, and downright better. I'm decluttering and getting out of debt at the same time. Praise the Lord!

Aaron and I are so happy to have met baby step one so soon. We keep looking at each other and grinning. Our goal was to have it finished by January 1st so we're excited to be ahead of the game!  Our next goal is to have our three little debts knocked off by January 1st. We owe $41 to QVC, $81 to Old Navy and $180 to our dentist. It'll depend on how much we can sell and how much OT Aaron can get at work, but we're hopeful!  :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

$15 to go!

So we've put our Craig's List selling into high gear in hopes to meet our baby step one goal early. Now that Aaron and I have realized that we don't have to live with credit card debt, we are bent on getting out from under it. He's taking as much overtime as his work will give him - in fact, he's there right now!  Just before he left for his OT shift we sat down and counted up how much we've made over the past few days from piano ($40) and Craig's List ($140) and we are just $16.46 short!  We scrounged up $1.46 in change and that makes us just $15 away from our first goal. The really fun part is that I have a meeting planned with a gal to sell a dog crate tomorrow after church for...guess how much?  Yep! $15!

So, just to recap, our first goal was to have our $1,000 emergency fund (aka baby step one) funded by New Year's Day.  If we can make the next $15 and complete a bank deposit on Monday, we will be more than three weeks ahead of schedule. Exciting!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

First Down Day

So I guess it should be expected: when changing your life, eventually the 'new' will wear off and you'll have a down day. That's today for me. Nothing's wrong, I'm not sick, not fighting with Aaron...just down. Actually, today is payday. You'd think I'd be excited to refill my budget envelopes...especially since I only have three dollars and change left between all four envelopes, but I'm just not too excited about it. Aaron's check was not super big because it was all vacation time and absolutely no overtime. Maybe I'm a bit deflated because the pay was just enough to cover cash out for envelopes & giving and bills so there's no extra to plop on the baby fund. I did make $30 yesterday teaching piano. Maybe I'd get a boost if I went and deposited that to our baby fund account. I'll try it. :)

I had another piano student cancel for today. It seems like Murphy's Law would have it that everytime my student's piano dues are due, either I have to cancel or they do. I've seriously thought about finding a part time job with structured hours in order to give up teaching piano. I love being self employed and I love staying home with my kids, but hate the ups and downs of never knowing if I'll get paid. It's a trade off and most days I love teaching, it's just a lot of stress to have to have my house in order, dog put up, etc. to be able to host students and parents. The upside is that we've structured our budget without counting in any piano money so every dime I make teaching goes right to baby step one and then eventually baby step two. I hope that helps me change my way of thinking towards teaching!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Baby stepping the baby step :)

We made another deposit to our baby step one (the $1,000 starter emergency fund) today. This time, we are depositing $40 cash that Aaron made by selling a router on Craig's List, as well as a $100 year-end bonus I received from my church secretary job. That puts our account at $751.04!  We're 75% there!  Woohoo!  I'm supposed to have piano students this week and I think I have a buyer for my Kenmore sewing machine. Those, in addition to Aaron's paycheck deduction ($22.50, biweekly) between now and January 1st should get us super close to our goal of having baby step number one done by New Year's Day. Here's hoping for no December emergencies! :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Black Friday

I've never been much of a Black Friday shopper but have been known to *occasionally* run out for a good deal or two in years past. This year we are not spending any money on Christmas so I have no need to even look at BF deals, however I feel very blessed to not have any pull to the big shopping day. I know there are some great deals (an iPad mini for $199!) but knowing that my budget is zero, I'm just not interested. I'm glad it's easy!

If you're wondering why we're not spending anything for Christmas, we recently took a trip to DisneyWorld and we all decided earlier in the year that birthday and Christmas money would go towards that trip. We paid cash for our trip. Actually, pre Dave Ramsey, we set out with a budget and a plan to go to Disney debt free. Instead of birthday gifts, we contributed money on each of our birthdays, sold stuff, as well as set aside money each month to cover the cost of the trip. Now that we've learned Dave's plan, we realize that that money should have paid down debt but we're not beating ourselves up about it. It is what it is and we're taking the steps to get out of debt now. 

I've challenged myself to make a homemade gift for each of the kids this year but with a twist. Since I have a zero budget for Christmas, I am making them things with what I already have. No supply shopping......not even for a single zipper or bias tape!  I'm about finished with Kip's gift. I made him a fabric tic-tac-toe mat. Aaron is going to make wooden X's and O's for it. I'm still working on ideas for the other four. The girls are pretty easy to come up with gift ideas but the older boys are a challenge. I'm hoping Aaron can help me out with ideas for them!

Happy thanksgiving, everyone!  And if you're heading out for Black Friday shopping, may the force be with you!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I don't like cash. :/

Aaron and I put together our first "zero based" budget a couple weeks ago and put it into practice last Wednesday (payday). I went to the bank and withdrew cash for everything except for the bills we were paying out of our checking account. 

You know what I realized?  I don't like cash. I know that sounds crazy. I think I'm afraid of it...actually I think I'm afraid of losing it. I need to get over that!

After I got home, I divided up the cash money into envelopes. I carry three envelopes: food, pets, and clothing/household and Aaron took gas and giving/tithe. At first I wouldn't carry all three envelopes in my purse but now I'm getting a bit more comfortable with it. 

I also realized that envelopes in the checkout line are not too appreciated by the cashiers and folks in line behind me. I'm a bit clunky trying to get change together and then money and a receipt back into the envelope. I think I'm going to try to make some type of fabric pouch to separate money into. Pinterest, here I come!  :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

There's a new man in my life...

I know, sounds crazy, right?  For those of you who know me well, you know that I am head over heels in love with my husband, Aaron. In February we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary!  (Yes, I was married at a VERY young age.) ;) As strong as my love for him is, there is a new guy in my life. Who? You ask?  Dave Ramsey.  Go ahead, laugh.  I am. 

If you don't know, Dave Ramsey is a financial expert who has his own radio show. I found him when someone posted a short video of him talking about Obamacare. After watching that video, I was hooked. I had to know more about this man and his program. As it turns out, the Lord directed me right to him because his ministry is just what I need right now. He thinks that debt is dumb. He says that cash is king. He teaches people to dig out from their debt and then invest their money for their future using his "baby steps". His teachings are so NOT what is normal in today's America and I am hooked. 

I've never spoken publicly about our family's debt. I don't talk about it because I'm embarrassed by it and, quite frankly, I find it overwhelming. Aaron and I have very good credit scores and we've never missed a payment....ever. However, we are maxed in minimum payments on everything from cars, to credit cards, to a home equity and even a dentist bill.  I'll share more of my story as we go through these baby steps, but for now I'm not ready to spill the beans completely. We'll just leave our debt total as "a lot" and come back to it another day. ;)

Baby step number one is to put $1,000 in an emergency fund as quickly as possible. This is to protect your household from financial upsets so you have no need to use a credit card. So far, we have $560 in our savings account and I just sold a small desk on Craig's List for $40. Typically a Craig's List sale would fund a family pizza party and a movie. Not today. I'll be going to the bank in just a bit to deposit today's sales. Once baby step number one is set, we'll move to baby step two, which is paying down debt using the debt snowball method. That one scares me. Here's to completing baby step one first. Our goal is to have it finished by the New Year. Time to sell more stuff.....

Here is the desk I sold today. I bought it a few months ago at the goodwill for $20.99 and painted it with paint I already had at home (leftover from the kitchen). I'll miss the storage, but am glad to be $40 closer to our first goal. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Disneybound Snow White Outfit

My daughter introduced me to "Disney-bounding" this past summer and oh. my. word!  It is the coolest idea ever!  If you don't know what it is, it's basically putting together modern, stylish outfits inspired by a Disney character. I put together the following outfit for our recent trip:

I found the Capri pants, tank and jacket at my local Goodwill. The shoes are from Amazon.com (by Gotta Flurt) and the charms are from Hobby Lobby. One is an apple, the other is a mirror that says, "Fairest of them all." Carrie bought me a red satin hair bow that I also wore (not pictured).

I had a lot of people stop me in the Magic Kingdom to compliment me on my outfit. I had one cast member stop me and tell me that I had the same colors on as Snow White. :) She had never heard of Disney-bounding so I filled her in. I saw her later in the week and she said she had googled the term and couldn't believe how many outfits had been created. It is a lot of fun and totally addicting. 

As a bonus, Carrie found out that Snow White was having a meet & greet the day we were there so I had my photo taken with her. I'll post that once all of our vaca pics and downloaded. Snow White really liked my outfit. :)

Minnie Mouse Inspired Zip Wristlet

We just got home from Disney and I'm missing all of the ears, bows and magical outfits!  I haven't been feeling well so I decided to cheer myself up with a sewing project. (That's what everyone does, right?) So I made this on the fly without a pattern. Let me know what you think. :)