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 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 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 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 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. ;)

Monday, April 14, 2014

My husband rocks!

If you listen to Dave Ramsey, you know he HATES car payments.  Once we heard his debt lesson, we totally understood why.  Although both of our cars meet the value ratio he sets (values on combined motors should be no more than 50% of your annual income), we did not think we met the other requirement, which is to have the vehicles paid off within 24 months.

We have (actually had) two cars:  I drive a 2003 Suburban named Tina; Aaron had a 2008 Dodge Charger named Duke.  Ever since I've known him, he's wanted a Dodge Charger.  And not just any Dodge Charger, a black one with a spoiler!  Sixteen months ago, he bought one - a black one, with a spoiler!  Actually, to be specific, he financed one.  {enter scary music here}

In FPU we were taught that the average car payment in America is something like $457.  I thought to myself who in the world would have such a big car payment?  That's crazy!  Then, I realized that we pay $130 every two weeks on Tina and $97 every two weeks on Duke.  Yeah, do some quick math on that and guess what?  I'm around the national average.  Sure, it's on two cars, but who cares?  That's a lot of money going down the drain on vehicles that are plummeting in value.  Not smart.

Because of grasping that lesson, we realized that we needed to sell Duke.  Today we did just that.  I felt so bad for Aaron although he seemed to take it really well.  I told him how awesome I thought it was for him to put his family first and sell his dream car.  Then, I sent my mom a text to tell her he had sold it and we had paid if off.  She responed with, "AWESOME!! I'M SO PROUD OF HIM!!" I showed him the text and he just grinned ear-to-ear.  I hope he knows just how awesome he is.  I think I'll bake him his favorite pound cake as a thank you.

Now the search is on to find him something different to drive.  I promised him that if we found an old lady car, he could drive Tina to work from now on.  :)  For now, we are sharing one car until we can find something dependable for him.  Yet another adventure in our journey to financial freedom...

Here's Duke. We will miss him!

We no longer OWE Lowes!

Thanks to the yard sale on Saturday, plus a side job at Mawmaw's house (raking, raking, and more raking) we were able to knock off the barn debt on Sunday.  We were so excited about paying it off.  Our favorite cashier, Jackie, has taken our last few payments.  She is also doing the Dave Ramsey plan so she didn't mind our jars of change one bit.  :)  After I told her we were making our final payment, she said we had to come back to see her and update her on our progress.  I assured her I would be back in but never using my Lowes credit card again! :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Progress on the Barn!

I'm so excited about Aaron's new barn!  I've talked about it before, but I wanted to share a new photo of our progress.  We were able to install the front doors and it is starting to look finished.  We still need to work on a few things, but I just love the progress!

The barn debt (to Lowes Home Improvement's Consumer Credit) is our target debt right now.  We've also made a lot of progress on it!  When we started our debt snowball that account balance was $3,735.83.  Today we made yet another payment and the balance fell to $934.26!  We've made six payments in the last two weeks!  It's fun going over there with Aaron, hand & hand, and making payments on the barn.  :-)

When we first moved here to Wilmington, I worked at Lowes as a part time cashier.  I especially loved working in the Lawn & Garden Department.  Last week when Aaron and I went in to make a payment, my old supervisor checked us out.  He told me they were hiring and he encouraged me to re-apply.  I guess they're really busy and he doesn't have enough help.  I told him I'd think about it.  I did and decided to apply.  I haven't heard anything about my application but today when we went in to make our payment, he was there again.  He immediately said, "I've got a register out in Lawn & Garden waiting for you!"  I told him I applied but hadn't heard anything.  He said he was going to talk to the hiring manager and I guess he did.  By the time I got home, I had a message from her.

I'm not sure it'll work out or not because I am only available three days a week, however I've decided if they offer a position to me, I will take it.  :)  I'll keep ya posted!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Yet another step in the Dave Ramsey process is looking at your current mortgage.  Fortunately, we are well within the 25% limit of what he recommends so we aren't even considering selling our home.  (Your house payment shouldn't be more than 25% of your monthly take home pay.) 

Currently, we are almost 7 years into our 30 year mortgage at a 6.125% interest rate.  That was a very good rate 7 years ago, but now is quite high.  We are refinancing at 3.75% and taking a 15 year fixed which will increase our payment by only about $40 a month.  It's amazing to think that we will shave 8 years off of our mortgage by just refinancing to a lower rate!

Refinancing is not for the faint of heart though!  It's been a long process and even though we're looking at closing in one week, there is still work to be done. 

Our house did not quite appraise for what we had hoped (it was about $10K lower) however, we were happy to find out that we're not "underwater" on it.  ("Underwater" meaning we owe more than it's worth.) 

It costs about $2,500 to close a new mortgage and we are trying to decide just how much of that we want to pay out-of-pocket so we're not borrowing as much over the 15 year period.  It's hard to decide whether to plop down cash or keep it to put toward the debt snowball.  I think the hardest thing is finding time where Aaron and I are available to have an indepth conversation about what we want to do!  It just seems that we are both working non-stop these days.  I guess that's the power of gazelle intensity.  :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

It's Raining, It's Pouring, the Old Man is Snoring!

When Aaron and I began working on our budget back in November, my mom told me that once I had my emergency fund it place to get ready - it was going to rain.  I thought to myself, surely not...the baby emergency fund is supposed to be my murphy-proofing!  Boy oh boy was I wrong!  As always, my mom was right. :)

Since getting that fund together, we have had to tap into it three or four times.  The next time, I'm afraid, is going to be a DOOSEY!  Back in September we got a letter from our county saying that the ditch that runs across our side yard needed to be cleaned out.  We had sixty days to clean it. 

The kids and I worked tirelessly to get the ditch emptied out.  We raked out all of the leaves and picked up any trash we could find.  I called the man in charge and left a message telling him the work was done.  He in turn told me he'd be in my neighborhood soon and would let me know if we did enough.  I never heard from him.

Two days ago (on my anniversary, no less) we got a letter from the county attorney saying we did not complete the work and if it wasn't completed in twenty days, they would hire a contractor to do the work and slap a lien on our house.  I contacted the guy and he said he'd come out today to meet with me about it.

It turns out, we have about two dozen trees that we have to cut down along with a ton of smaller bushes and other vegetation.  The county engineer said it'll cost a couple thousand dollars to hire the work done.  Instant stress.  :(

I'm hoping Aaron will get on board and do the work before they hire a contractor.  I hate to bug him, but it's just work that I can't do. 

I tend to stress out about these kinds of things so I'm trying not to.  Wish me luck...  ;)

Update!  Update!  Update!
I realized I never finished and published this post, so I thought I'd go ahead, but I'm happy that I can give a positive update to it!

Aaron plugged in BIG TIME and cut all of the trees down in less than a week.  Our awesome friend from church, Teresa, helped us with the whole project.  We have a ton of firewood stacked up for the upcoming bonfire seasons....okay we probably have three or four year's worth....and a cleaned out ditch.

I handed the dealings over to Aaron and he has dealt with the county engineer since I met with him and was upset by what all we had to do.  Aaron has been awesome, not just with the work, but with following up with the man.

It turns out the house on the other side of the ditch is bank owned and the bank has completely ignored the county's request to clean the ditch out.  The engineer came and looked at our work and he told Aaron he was signing off on our part of the work!  This means that when the contractor comes out next week, the lien will be put on the other house, not ours.  Yay!!

"The quickest way to building wealth is having no payments." -Dave Ramsey

It's Saturday morning and Aaron is working all weekend so I stayed in bed a little longer listening to Dave Ramsey's podcast.  I especially liked this quote from the show:  "The quickest way to building wealth is having no payments."  This is ringing especially true for me lately as I've had a couple older people "poo poo" me for having consumer debt.  Of course, they think the mortgage is fine, but "they never use credit cards and if they did, they'd pay them off the very next month."  Yeah, yeah.  You're cooler than me. 

I've learned that the very next question to ask when someone talks down to me because I have credit card debt is to ask about their savings.  Guess what?  I've yet to find anyone with a "pile of money" as Dave likes to call it. 

I'm realizing that even though I thought this program was about getting out of debt, it's not.  That's just one step along the way.  You have to clean up your mess so the money you earn has your name on it, not Bank of America's, Chase, Discover, etc.  Once the debt is clear, all of that money you were paying to them, you can now pay to yourself.  (After giving, of course.) 

Right now, my minimum payments on my credit cards and cars is almost a thousand dollars a month.  $1,000!  If I didn't have those payment going out, I could invest that money, and within very little time, have a BIG pile of money.

To those who don't have credit card debt, car payments, and even student loans (fortunately I don't have this one, but a lot of folks do)....kudos to you!  I mean, really!  I'm impressed.  I wish I could say the same thing.  But I've learned that's not the whole ANY means.  The whole idea of paying off the debt is to get it out of the way so you can build wealth, live and give like no one else.

I'm no longer going to feel bad about my consumer debt.  And I'm not going to let people poo poo me.  When you know better, you do better.  Now I know better and we are doing better. 

I totalled up some nerdy figures and since November, we have paid off 5% of our TOTAL included!  We've also paid off over 15% of our credit card debt!

Our target debt right now is Lowe's Consumer Credit Card and we used this card last fall to buy materials to build a barn for Aaron.  We started with a balance of $3,735.83 and we now owe a flat $2,300 - that's over 38% paid!  I was hoping to have it paid off by Aaron's birthday (April 15th) but we've had some emergencies we've had to cash flow, so I'm not sure we'll be able to.  I've been thinking of some things to sell to get the balance down quicker but the next round of cuts will hurt.  ;) 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bye Bye Bank of America Visa!

Thanks to a sore shoulder from our accident in December, I received a settlement from the other guy's insurance company. We were able to pay off our Bank of America Visa with it - two months ahead of schedule!  Aaron and I are SO excited!  The first few debts we paid off were rather small. I think QVC was around $40, Old Navy was around $80 and our dentist bill was just over $200. We were able to knock those out fairly quickly but we had to really work at the BoA bill. It was over $3,100 when we began our debt snowball!  Having that first big one gone feels good!  We had it paid down about 1/3 to $2034 when I got the settlement, which wasn't much more than that amount. 

There was no question on what to do with the money. Jake (my oldest son) asked me what I would have done with that money had I not been following Dave Ramsey's plan. I told him I'd probably buy the materials needed to reroof our house and finish fencing in our backyard. The rest, I'd spend at Hobby Lobby, of course. ;)

We don't really need a new roof - I just don't like the roof we have. (I know....vanity, vanity!) Half of my little ranch-style house is shingled. The front half has a red rolled fiberglass roofing product that is downright ugly. Yes, you understood correctly....only half of the roof is covered in the red. It's terrible. Seriously. I asked Aaron if we could just take off the red stuff so the whole thing was shingled. He explained that we can't do that because it is screwed down and if we take it off, those holes will leak. Since the roof doesn't currently leak, it is not high on Aaron's priority list to re-do. I will have to wait . . . unless it starts leaking.

Seriously, it's kind of funny to think how differently I feel about money and how my thought process has changed. Whenever I come into money, my first thought is to put it on debt. Whenever I get an unexpected bill, my first thought is Oh no!  This will slow down my debt snowball! 

Who am I and where did the old me go? :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blow Money aka Pocket Money

If you follow Dave Ramsey, you know there is a budget line called blow money.  Some folks call it pocket money, others call it his & hers money.  The idea is that you can spend your blow money on whatever you'd like without busting your budget.  Dave advises that you take your blow money out in cash rather than use a debit card.

When we first created our budget, I wanted blow money.  Aaron did not want us to take any; he wanted it all to go to the debt.  I wanted to take out $20 per pay period to split, which would have given us each $10 every two weeks.  After realizing that if I had blow money, I would definitely spend it, and after crunching the numbers ($20 x 26 pay periods) I realized that was a lot of money that could go to paying down debt and I changed my mind.

Last night at our third FPU class the topic of blow money came up.  Our coordinator (who is my dad) asked if anyone was not allowing for blow money in their budget.  Aaron and I were the only ones!  It started quite a big discussion and everyone seemed to be of the mindset that we should take blow money.  No one really said anything to convince me to take it, but I am open to the idea if Aaron is.  For now, I think we will continue to leave that budget line at zero and have every dollar go to the debt snowball.  I will be so glad when the last credit card is paid! :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tax Trouble...Double Trouble!

So I've been working on our taxes and I am a bit disappointed this year.  Typically, we don't usually owe taxes so anything we've paid in over the prior year, we get back in a return.  Furthermore, because of the Earned Income Credit and the Child Tax Credit, we get more back than what we paid in.  It appears that is the case with the Federal taxes, however the NC state taxes has become a thorn in my side.  :/

Last year on my 2012 state return, I took a credit called the Credit for Children with Disabilities.  It is a credit designed to offset education costs for children with special needs.  I researched it and found that Brady was a great candidate for the credit.  He has cerebral palsy (diagoned at 10 months old) and, as a result, he also has severe dyslexia.  He has always been homeschooled but was tested by a school psychologist a couple of years ago so I had all of the paperwork to prove his disability.  I listed all of our homeschool expenses as well as his private reading tutor's charges and took the credit. 

This past December, I was audited on that specific credit.  I received a letter asking for additional information on Brady's disability and proof of expenses.  I promptly responded with all the required information and heard back just last week that we were not eligible to take the credit.  After talking with the auditor, I was told that the credit is only designed for children who have been in public school for at least two semesters and then pulled out because the public school was not able to service the child.  (The way the credit is written is not very clear and it was an oversight error on my part.)  As a result:  I owe the state $599.12 in taxes from the 2012 tax year.  Agh!!

Because I thought we would take the credit again in our 2013 taxes, I didn't ask Aaron to adjust our W4, which is the paycheck withholding form.  Not enough taxes were withheld, so, for the 2013 tax year, I owe the state of North Carolina over $1,000.  Combined, I have to pay in more than $1,600!  Double agh!!

Our plan is to try to cash flow the $599 within the next month.  Next, we will e-file our Federal return and holdout the amount we owe the state, then plop the remainder of the Federal refund on our debt.  We are hopeful that by the time we receive it, we will be able to completely wipe out the Bank of America Visa, which is our target debt right now.  We are sending anything and everything we can to that Visa and it's balance is just over $2,000.  I'm hoping next paycheck we can get it down to where the return will wipe it out.  If not, it'll be close!

I can't help but think that if I had gotten a surprise $600 bill this time last year, I would have cried.  I literally couldn't handle the extra stress in our finances.  This year, as much as it annoyed me, I took it with ease.  There is something about having a handle on your finances, and having an ememgency fund, that just makes dealing with surprises easier.  I'm so thankful for FPU, Dave Ramsey and his ministry.  I'm also thankful the Lord directed me to him and his program!

Shouldering the Debt

Well, I received some good news yesterday afternoon about the car accident we were in.  The other guy's insurance company is going to reimburse me for the copays I paid out to my doctor for my shoulder injury but - here's the good part - they also insist on paying me something for my "pain and suffering"!  From what I understand, the whole idea is to pay me something so that I won't come back and sue them for major damages later.  I'm not really the type to sue (I've been sued before - and cleared - however, it was no fun to go through.) so I wasn't even thinking about the possibility.  They are offering me $2,500 plus my $60 copays and a $500 'bonus' in case I need any other treatments for a total of $3,060.

If the Federal tax return pays off our target debt (currently Bank of America Visa), the next one on the chopping block is $3,600 to Lowes Home Improvement which is Aaron's barn materials.  That card is on an 18 month special 0% financing plan, however it is our next smallest debt and must die. 

I think it's kind of ironic that my shoulder pain will almost completely pay off Aaron's barn, which is coming along nicely I might add.  :) 

Once the barn is finished, I get the shed (which is attached to The Chick Inn) all to myself, so I am profiting from the barn as well.  I can't wait to clean the shed out and set up a cute space for me and the chickens!  My favorite part of the shed is that there is a window to the coop from inside the shed so I can just open the window and have feathered friends join me inside.  :)  I'm going to paint it up cute and add a fabric skirt to the workbench so I can hide uglies behind it.  I've got big plans for that little shed!  (I've even dreamed of making it a sewing studio.  LOL!  It's 8 feet by 8 feet! That would be one tiny sewing space.....but I'd take it!)  :)

Here's a picture of the barn in progress. Kip has been a great helper with the construction process. He is about fearless on the roof which makes this mama hen a nervous Nelly!  :)

Two decades of (mostly) wedded bliss! :)

Today is my 20th wedding anniversary!  Yep, I think I finally hit the "old married lady" least to my kids I did.  :)

Aaron and I have been somewhat struggling on just how to celebrate our 20th.  We've always said that we would celebrate it together in Disney World...our special spot.  We spent our honeymoon in Disney and we were also there on our 10th anniversary.  Of course we've taken the kids other times, but we like to spend time together there by ourselves too. 

Since learning about Dave Ramsey, we quickly decided that a Disney trip was out of the question for now.  We strongly feel the urge to get out of debt as quickly as possible.  So much so, we were torn over whether to even go to dinner or not.  We had set aside $20 for a meal out and we were planning on using a theater gift card to go see a movie together.  We were both feeling like the $20 should go to the debt snowball so the plan was to pack a picnic and go see a movie for zero dollars out of pocket.

I teach piano on Wednesdays plus we have Financial Peace University on Wednesdays nights, so we had set aside tomorrow for our anniversary celebration day.  Well.....Aaron picked up overtime for tomorrow.  (Side note:  they weren't going to give any OT this month at all because of some schedule changes, so when he saw the opportunity, he jumped on it.)  He is scheduled to work from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and has to work early the next day, so really there isn't enough time to work in a movie date.

So then we decided to celebrate this morning.  We were going to have breakfast together and then go make a payment on our debt snowball.  We also thought about going to the beach and doing some budgeting forms together that are on our to-do list.  Well, he came home last night with good/bad news......

The good news:  he was asked to attend a staff meeting which is quite an honor from what he was told.  The bad news:  the staff meeting is this morning.  Doh!

So, once again, our plans were thwarted.  I got up early this morning and made him French toast for breakfast.  We were able to hang out for a little while before he left at 8:30.  He may be home in time to sneak in a picnic lunch but I'm not holding my breath.  ;) 

I could be upset and have thoughts like after twenty years of marriage, this is what I get....nothing  -or- I can't believe he took overtime on our special day -or some other nonsense.  But the fact of the matter is that I love that he is digging in and working as hard as he can to lift us out of debt.  I'm sure he doesn't want to spend extra days in the jail, but he is willing so that we can be debt free.  I've got a great partner in life and I am so thankful for him!

We exchanged gifts this morning.  I had made Aaron two pound cakes yesterday while he was at work.  I gave them to him and told him that he didn't have to share - a rare thing in this house of kids & teens!  He gave me a very sweet handwritten card with a Disney IOU.  :) 

This whole situation reminds me of how marriages, as much as we like to think they are, are not the fairy tales we read about in books.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good Disney princess story, but true love - the kind that takes patience, understanding, forgiveness, patience, work, dedication and did I mention patience? - is the true fairy tale.  Marriages that last have fun times, but also not-so-fun times, and they all have one thing in common:  commitment.  Marriages that work aren't always glamorous, in fact they rarely are!  But they are formed by two people who love each other, and beyond that love, are committed to staying together in good times and in bad, for richer or poorer, til death.  I love that Aaron and I have twenty years of commitment and love together....that's my favorite fairy tale of all!  <3 p="">

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Coming Clean

Since we've started Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace program, I have not shared with anyone how much debt we actually have.  I think the main reason is that I'm embarrassed about it.  I've been trying to decide if it would be beneficial for me to share the numbers, or if it really doesn't matter.  I see a lot of blogs online of folks who vow to get out of debt and list all of their debt amounts, just to see them go up over time, or the blogging falls apart because they're just not able to conquer the debt.  I wonder if that is becuase they've shared their numbers, or becuase of something else.

When I was losing all my weight, I was very open about my weight.  I had a lot of folks cheering me on and I felt by being honest about my numbers, I was in a way cheering them on, too.  I have NO problem telling people what I weigh (166) or even what I did way (212) when I started.  But ask me how much debt I have and I cringe at the thought of telling anyone.

I really don't know if I have much of a blog following at this point, so a lot of times, I feel like I'm talking to myself....almost writing a diary.  If you follow my blog, I'd love to hear from you.  Do you think I should share my numbers?  Would it make my story easier to follow; harder to follow?  Any input would be great.  Thanks!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Free Baby Mermaid Seashell Bra Pattern

Since we're in the middle of a couple snow days, I decided to revisit my baby mermaid pattern. This time, I made the mermaid tail two colors. I also worked up a pattern for a seashell top. 

Here' said close up of the top:

Here's the pattern.  (I used Hobby Lobby's I Love This Cotton for this set as well.) Please let me know if you have any questions or notice any errors. I did find a couple on my mermaid tail pattern so those have been fixed. :)

Seashell Bra

With H hook, chain 5, turn
Change to G hook
Row 1: sc 4 across, ch 1, turn
Row 2: 2sc in first st, 1 sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in last st, chain 1, turn (6)
Row 3: 2sc in first st, 1 sc in next 4 sts, 2 sc in next, ch 1, turn (8)
Row 4: 2 sc in first st, 1 sc in next 6 sts, 2 sc in last, ch 1, turn (10)
Row 5: 1 sc in each st across, ch 1, turn (10)
Row 6: 2 sc in first st, 1 sc in next 8 sts, 2 sc in last st, ch 1, turn (12)
Row 7: 2 sc in first st, 1 sc in next 10 sts, 2 sc in last st, ch 1, turn (14)
Last row, scallop: sk first st, *5 DC in next stitch, skip next st, sc in next* repeat twice across, chain 1, fasten off leaving several inches to sew with. 

For connector piece, using H hook, ch 7, turn
Change to G hook
Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, and in each st across, ch 1, turn (6)
Row 2: sc in each st across, ch 1, turn (6)
Row 3: sc in each st across, ch 1, fasten off leaving several inches to sew with. 

With F hook, make a chain of 50 for each side tie. Leave long tails for sewing.

Sew shells together with connector piece; sew side ties on either side. Weave in ends. 

Extra Snow in Wilmington for the Debt Snowball

Aaron and I just finished tweaking the budget for the next two weeks.  He gets paid tomorrow so we always sit down to make sure all of our bills and cash-out needs are covered before we start spending.  I tell ya, this budgeting thing takes a lot of time and effort, but it really is worth it.  I heard this the other day:  It's better to tell your money where to go rather than wonder where it all went.  I love that!  So many times, we've gotten a padded paycheck (thanks to overtime and/or holiday pay) and I think that I'm going to finally be able to catch up and maybe buy some fun things for the kids, just to see that when I finally get around to balancing the checkbook, we've spent the surplus....and more.  Now, since we meet before the check is actually deposited, we can come up with a game plan on how and where to put each dollar.

After bills and a few extra things (girl scout cookies, for one and an ACT test for Jake) we had $188.30 left to put on the debt snowball.  Yea! 

It's actually snowing in Wilmington right now (a very rare thing) so it's fitting that we have snow to put on our debt snowball.  :)  I'm hoping we wake up to several inches of snow so we have enough for a snowball fight with the kids tomorrow.  {I must clarify....I really hate snow.  Growing up in Michigan, I've had my fill for life.  To me, it's a four letter word.  ;) But, the kids want to see it every now and again so I try to act like it's all fun and games.  I could live without it, but they do love to see it, so I don't pray against it.} :)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Changing Our Family Tree

One of my favorite phrases from FPU is when Dave talks about changing your family tree.  When I think about it, I get so excited about teaching my children what I'm learning.  Dave's daughter, Rachel Cruz, says, "more is taught than caught" and I completely agree.  The more I set a good example for my kids, the more they'll soak up. 

Last week Kip asked me to take him to the credit union so he could open a savings account.  I was thrilled!  We went over to our credit union and the staff was awesome.  They made a big deal about him wanting to open a savings account.  They explained how credit unions work and why they call them "share" accounts.  They gave him a tshirt, stickers, and temporary tattoos with the Fat Cat logo.  (Fat Cat accounts are designed for kid's starter accounts.)  He opened his account with $12 - all of his remaining Christmas gift money!  (He only needed to start it with $5 but he was so excited, he wanted to put it all in.)

When we got home, he was so excited to tell his siblings.  They haven't opened accounts yet but I think they might come around.  :)  We offered Kip "commissions" for five extra chores every two weeks.  If he chooses to do the work, he will be paid one dollar for each on our next payday.  The first dollar he earns will go to his giving envelope.  The next two dollars will go to savings; the last two for him to spend however he'd like.  We've made the same deal with the other kids but so far he's the only one who has taken us up on it.  He has until Tuesday to do his extra chores for commissions.  I'm sure hoping he does them.  :)  I think once the other kids see him earning dollars, they'll jump on board.  I could be wrong, but time will tell....  :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Milestone Blanket

So I thought it would be fun to start a milestone project to work on as we dig out of debt. I'm still trying to decide just what to do, but I'm thinking of crocheting one square for every so-many-dollars we pay down debt. I need to do some figuring on how many I'll need to join together in order to get a nice size blanket that's not too big and not too small. 

Of course I immediately wanted to price out yarn. My new favorite is the 'I Love Cotton' from Hobby Lobby but I don't have much of it, so I'd need to buy some. That's not a good idea. So, I decided that I can only make it with yarn on hand. I have a lot of Vannah's Choice yarn, so I'll use that. Here's my first square:

I got the idea from back when I did Weight Watchers. I had a friend who made a denim tote bag. Everytime she lost five pounds, she sewed a button on her tote bag. I love visuals so the idea really works for me. :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I quit Monday...

Yep, I did. I told Aaron, my mom, my dad and even the kids that I was done. This stuff is hard and definitely not for the weak. I was feeling very weak and just didn't want to do it anymore. Even though I know it's not an option to quit and knowingly dip back into the sinfulness of being a bad steward, I really wanted to. I didn't want to go shop; I just didn't want to keep going with this plan. What I really didn't want to do is replenish, yet again, the $1,000 emergency fund. We've already replenished it twice and now I have to do it again - all because of my car. We haven't had a repair bill on her in almost a year but it seems like ever since I've tucked the emergency fund away, I'm getting hit over and over again with repair bills. 

Aaron was so frustrated with me. He kept saying that having the emergency fund is supposed to eliminate stress, not add to it, yet I find it SO stressful to have to take from it. The three car repairs have been especially frustrating because the mechanic we have seems to be guessing at the problem. The last thing I want to do is replace parts that I don't need, especially when we're H-bend on getting out from under the credit card debt. 

I need to find a way to figure out how I can use the emergency fund on an emergency without feeling stressed. I want that peace!  My dad thinks I'm frustrated because having to stop the debt snowball makes my numbers and projected debt-free date off. That could be.  My mom thought I was having a hard time because I haven't had a dependable car to be able to get out. That could be too. Maybe it's a big combination. 

I woke up this morning with a changed heart. I suppose I owe everyone an apology for being a big baby. I suppose I could not blog about the down times, but I want to be able to look back and be reminded of the struggles, not just the easy times. Sorry for ranting!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Free Pattern: Crocheted Mermaid Costume for Newborns

My second cousin is expecting a baby girl next spring and we recently saw a picture of a sleeping baby in a mermaid costume.  We thought it was so cute stinkin' cute!  Unfortunately I could not find a pattern for a newborn, so I decided to create one.  Here is a photo of what I made:

Here is the free pattern.  Please feel free to use it and share it on your blog, but do not sell it.  Let me know if you have any questions or have any trouble. :)

Baby Mermaid Costume

Yarn: Hobby Lobby “I Love This Cotton” in turquoise or desired color; optional contrast color for drawstring at waist

Hook size:  US G

This pattern was created for a newborn.  If you need a bigger size, you can use a bigger hook and chunkier yarn to increase pattern, or increase as needed after round 21.  (You'll catch on to the increase pattern as you work the rounds).

The pattern is worked in rounds; use a stitch marker to keep tabs on your rounds.

Round 1:  Magic ring > 12 DC (If you don't want to do a magic ring, just chain two and work 12 DC in the first chain. This area will eventually be covered by the fins.)

Round 2-8: 1 DC in each stitch (12)

Round 9: *1 DC in next 3 sts, 2 DC in next st* (15)

Round 10: *1 DC in next 2 sts, 2 DC in next st* (20)

Round 11:  1 DC in each st.  (20)

Round 12:  *1 DC in next 2 sts., 2 DC in next st* (26)

Round 13: 1 DC in each stitch around (28)

Round 14:  *1 DC in next 2 sts, 2 DC in next st* (34)

Round 15:  1 DC in each stitch around (34)

Round 16:  *1 DC in next 3 sts, 2 DC in next st* (41)

Round 17:  1 DC in each stitch around (41)

Round 18: *1 DC in next 4 sts., 2 DC in next st.* (49)

Round 19:  1 DC in each st around (49)

Round 20: *1 DC in next 6 sts, 2 DC in next st* (56)

Round 21: 1 DC in each st. around (56)

Repeat round 21 until you have your desired length.  You can switch to HDC for the final rounds.  (I did this on the turquoise tail in the photo – just because HDC is my favorite stitch.)

Final Round: (shell ‘waistband’) 1 SC, *skip 1 stitch, 5 DC in next stitch, skip 1 stitch, 1 sc in next* around.  Slip stitch to first SC. (14 shells) Tie off; sew in tail.


Using same or contrast color (I used white.), make a chain long enough to weave around shell top and tie off to cinch in the waist for a custom fit on baby.  Use a yarn needle to weave in and out of the center of each shell.


Fins (make 2)

Leave tails slightly longer than normal – you will use these to gather and to sew on to the tail.

Chain 14

Round 1: starting in second chain from hook, 12 DC across (12), ch 2, turn

Round 2: DC2Tog twice, 8 DC across next 8 stitches, chain 2, turn

Round 3:  DC across (10), chain 2, turn

Round 4: DC2tog twice, 6 DC across next 6 stitches, chain 2, turn

Round 5: DC across (8), chain 2, turn

Round 6: DC2tog twice, 4 DC across next 4 stitches, chain 1, tie off leaving a long tail.


Using the long yarn tail, weave in and out through the last row of stitches to gather it.  Sew both pieces together at their short ends.  Sew to bottom of tail.  For additional shape and support, block piece.

How do I budget?

The next most asked question I'm getting is how I'm budgeting; whether I'm using software or apps.  So far, I have not jumped into any budgeting software.  I have created spreadsheets that log our monthly income, our monthly bills and our debts.  Each month I update our total debt spreadsheet with current balances so we can see each balance dropping.  (Sometimes I update them two or three times a month becuase I'm a bit obsessed.)

I've found that the easiest thing for me right now is to use good old paper and pencil!  I have a spiral notebook that has become my financial diary.  I have a lot of figures in it - total debt, income, lists of bills that are due from paycheck to paycheck and so forth.  I don't keep a traditional check register anymore.  Since Dave teaches us to use a "Zero-based Budget" I don't see a need to keep a running check register.  Instead, before each of Aaron's paychecks, I start a new sheet in my spiral notebook for that period's checking account transactions.  The first line is our starting balance which is always $0 because every penny is sent to the debt snowball after bills are paid. The next line, I add Aaron's paycheck amount and the next is our cash out line.  (We pull cash for everything we can to limit debit card transactions.)  I then start listing the bills that are due (by date).  After that, whatever is left goes to the debt snowball.  I typically leave about $4-$5 for the first week just in case I've made a math error. Once I'm certain that I haven't - typically by the next week - I transfer those few dollars over to the credit card.

So far this system works for us.  I do have a couple of iPad apps that I use.  One is a debt snowball app.  I like to play with it to figure out our debt free date.  You can see a payment schedule as well as interest paid and "fun" stuff like that.  (I think it's fun but I am a big nerd.)  The other app I use is a simple calendar called Bills.  It just keeps track of my monthly bills so I don't miss any.  I like to see them placed on a monthly calendar.  I also like that I can check them off as I pay them.  If I don't check one off and the due date arrives, I get a notification on my iPad.  You could do the same type of thing on a printed calendar but the app is free and I just kinda like it.  :)

I've had several people suggest Mint as a good budgeting app.  I may check it out, but for now I've just found that the old fashioned paper and pencil are working well for us.  Maybe as we sharpen our budgeting skills we will dip into some fancy software or apps but for now we are content with our system.  :)

Here's a screenshot of the three budgeting apps I'm currently using. I believe the one on the far left was one that I paid around a dollar for because the lite (free) version was limited to just one or two accounts. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Is budgeting hard?

Okay, so we've been at this budgeting game a full two months now.  We built our first budget in early November just before our Disney trip (I know...I can't talk about it.) but we didn't put it into play until we were back home.  I've been pretty open in conversations, on Facebook and, of course, this blog about our - um - adventure.  The most common question I've gotten, and I get it often, is if budgeting is hard and/or overwhelming.  I thought I'd take a minute and write about that in case any of my readers are wondering the same thing.  (Assuming I have readers.....) ;)

At first, it was very hard to sit down and face the music with where we were on our credit card amounts.  I'm not a drinker, but I could relate to the scene in the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic when the girls sat down and totalled up Rebecca Bloomwood's credit card accounts.  Her roommate said something like, "You get the bills, I'll get the tequila."  Really, the hardest part was coming clean.  Now I feel the need to say that I never thought I was a big spender.  I - pretty much - only used my credit cards when I felt what I was buying was a need.  I've charged a lot of pet food, groceries and gas.  Because my intent while shopping was to check out with my Discover card, I would easily add extras on in the name of "need".  (Cleaning tools, extra groceries, etc.)  I was very nervous for Aaron to see just how much my Discover had racked up since the last time we had a "budget" meeting.  (We had no idea what a true budget meeting was.  Back in the day, it was more like a budget throwdown.  LOL!)  My nervousness quickly disappeared when I saw that he had charged gum to his Bank of America card.  We were both guilty.  We both knew it.  We didn't blame each other though.  Instead we decided to work as a team to get a budget on paper and figure a way to make it into the black so we were making more than spending.  That was tough.

Getting our budget to the black took cancelling our iPhones.  That hurt.  However, I almost immediately realized that I was checking it WAY too much and therefore missing out WAY too much of my children.  Now that it gone, I'm kinda glad.  I am not saying that I'd never want one again, but if we ever do get phones again, I will be very conscience of how often I'm on it.  Having cancelled the cell phones, we were just about in the black, so long as Aaron could pick up an overtime shift or two and I could teach piano.  Our goal was to get where we could live off of Aaron's paycheck without overtime and my church paycheck.  (It's small because I only work four hours a week but it's steady.)  Once we paid off Old Navy and QVC, we found that we were very close to that goal.

Once the budget was in the black, I found a lot of peace and much less stress by having cash in envelopes to spend from.  Having the decisions already made before payday makes my day-to-day life much easier.  I love that I no longer have the guilt of charging things that I always knew I should be paying cash for.  I also love that I know I have the money for the things my family and my pets need for the next two weeks; and that we have an emergency fund for...well...emergencies!  There's just a lot of peace in those things.  I've also found that I have a lot more time on my hands because I'm not shopping nearly as much as before. 

Just two months in, I can't imagine going back to our non-budgeting days!  I also can't imagine charging anything.  It's amazing how new habits can totally change your life.  If you're on the fence about budgeting, go for it!  It's changed our life for the better and I think the Lord is pleased with it.  I finally feel like I'm being a good steward with His money.  Amazing!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Homemade Elizabethan Collar For Cats

Tomorrow is a big day around here: Mrs. Puff is getting spayed!  Our vet clinic insists on dogs and cats leaving the office with an Elizabethan collar on. (Also known as a 'cone of shame'.)  Since we've put ourselves on such a tight budget, I didn't want to spend $15 on one since it's not something I intend to use. So, I decided to make one!

I bought a plastic placemat from Walmart for $1.58 plus tax. I used Velcro that I had on hand, as well as some felt so it was softer around the neck. If you need a cone collar for a cat or a small dog, you should definitely make one of these!  It only took about an hour to make!

I used a plastic protector for the neck hole and a pizza pan for the larger circle; plus my sewing machine and a heavy duty needle. For specific instructions, leave a comment and I'll put together a tutorial. :)

First Big Chunk!

I can't believe it!  I just paid $860.32 on my Bank of America Visa!  Today is payday. As I sat here doing my bills, I decided to just go ahead and pay it out before I chickened out. I'm giddy, nervous, and proud all at the same time. :) That big payment will bring that card's balance close to $2300. Our goal is to pay it by Aaron's birthday which is April 16th. $2300 is much closer to zero than $3148!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Daddy Knows Best!

Aaron gets paid every other Wednesday and the day before payday, he can access his paystub so we know exactly what will be deposited into our checking account the next day.  We knew this check was going to be large because of four paid holidays as well as overtime pay.  Well, it was almost twice the size of a regular paycheck!  We wrote out our budget and after all of our bills and cash out, we will have about $900 extra to throw at the Bank of America Visa! 

Instantly I began dreaming of spending that money on other things:  fencing in the back yard, a new patio door, our 20th anniversary that is right around the corner..... you get the idea.  I was on the phone with my parents and I was telling them about the extra debt payment we'll be able to make and mentioned that I was having "evil" thoughts about spending it on other things.  (Just to be clear, my intent was always to go ahead and put it on the card!) 

My dad pulled a great parent line.  He said something like, "Well, Malissa, you have a perfect opportunity here.  You can be like most people and buy more stuff, or you can decide that you're serious about getting out of debt and pay it down."  LOL!!  Yes, Daddy!  :)

I have such great, Godly parents.  They are mine and Aaron's accountability partners and they are leading the Financial Peace University class at church that starts tomorrow.  (I'm so excited!!)  They are also my biggest cheerleaders and so supportive of our debt-free journey.  I can't wait to tell them that we're debt free.  :)

Side note:  we were able to deposit piano money into our starter emergency fund today so we have officially rebounded from our first emergency ($435 car repairs).  Now that the fund is back to $1,000 any paino money I make will go to the debt snowball.  Woohoo!  I can't wait to kiss Bank of America goodbye!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Getting Ready!

Our Financial Peace University class starts this Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at church.  Today I spent quite a while working on getting my box and desk space ready.  I'm a nerd, so I actually filled out the lines on my box and added a family photo.  I can't help it....I'm just a nerd.

Working on getting my things together, I was thinking about what I hope to accomplish during the nine week class.  I'm realizing that FPU is much more than just paying off debt and living within our means.  Really, debt is a small part of it.  Of course, we will have to work hard to get it cleaned up and payed off so that we can put the rest of what we learn into practice.  It covers life insurance, estate planning, giving, investing and other big, life-altering issues.  I'm looking forward to the classes and working through everything with Aaron!

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Remember my dilemma a couple of weeks ago when I had about $212 to send to the debt snowball when my car started acting up?  We were in a pickle about what to do with the money: rebuild the emergency fund (since we had to pull $400 out for car repairs) or send it to the credit card. Because we were undecided, that money sat in our checking account until the next pay rolled around. Ultimately, mostly because Aaron's next paycheck was missing OT pay, we had to use that money just to cover bills. I was a little down about it. Not just because of the specifics, but because it got me thinking, "What if I had sent that money to the debt snowball?  How would I have made ends meet with the smaller paycheck?" Well, Aaron and I discussed it a lot and we weren't seeing eye to eye at all. I was suggesting starting a second savings account 'just in case' we didn't plan well and/or had another small paycheck. That wasn't sitting too well with Aaron, but I was thinking that it's because he's so easy going. I tend to think up tragedies while he sees everything as no big deal. (I could write a whole post about how he is the perfect man for me because he keeps me so balanced!) :)

So, after praying about it, I got my answer this past Sunday. During his message, Pastor Ken was talking about faith. He put a chair on stage and said that many people think they're showing faith if they say, "I believe this chair will hold me."  He then said that was all wrong. He said, "You're not showing faith until you actually SIT in the chair!" Now, he wasn't talking about finances at all, but the Holy Spirit immediately showed me that I was missing that piece from my financial dilemma. I need to sit in the chair by sending the debt snowball payment without worrying about the next paycheck. I need to put my faith in the Lord, not in 'horses and chariots'.  Psalm 20:7 "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."

Our next paycheck comes next Wednesday, January 15th. After my calculations, we will zero out our checking account and send the snowball payment, without worry, and without fear. Thanks Pastor Ken for the great message and reminder. (George Michael's song "You Gotta Have Faith" just popped into my head. LOL!)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dave's Question

So I've been listening to Dave Ramsey's show almost every day and whenever someone does their debt free scream (if you've never seen or heard a debt free scream, you have to check some out on YouTube!), he always asks them the same questions: How much debt have you paid off?, How long did it take?, How much money were you making?, and the one I've been pondering lately: What was the hardest thing you've had to do?  We've only been at this for two months, but I've already had to make some not-so-fun decisions. So far, the hardest thing I've done is give up my iPhone - boy do I miss that little gadget of goodness!  That was a good decision though because losing that $209.22 bill each month put our budget in the black, which, obviously, is essential to maintaining a budget.  Another hard time was standing in Walmart at the self checkout machine using - literally - pennies, nickels and dimes, to buy ice cream for Jake's birthday. I had enough coins, but barely. That's not a fun feeling. I also thought it was hard to not be able to buy my kids a Christmas present. I kept reminding myself that Disney was our Christmas and, when all was said and done, the kids said they'd definitely pick a Disney trip over presents again. 

Right now, I'm facing another hard situation. My friends invited us to Buffalo Wild Wings for this Saturday night. I am a big Tom Brady fan (my middle son is named David Brady after Tom Brady!) and the Patriots are playing the Colts. I love going to BWW with these particular friends but we vowed we would not eat out until our debt was gone. Not going is not the hard part.  Telling them no is. I'm kinda embarrassed to say, "We're on a budget so we can't go."  I've also gotten some push back from some folks when I've mentioned Dave Ramsey, FPU or budgeting. I don't think these particular friends would bat an eye at that, but I'm still embarrassed to mention it. Bottom line:  I'm a baby.  I need to suck it up and just tell them I can't go. Aaron does have to work this weekend so that's an easy way out, but I really feel that I should be honest and say why we can't go. If the shoes were on the other feet, I'd want my friends to be honest with me. I guess I better go let them know.......

Here's my son Brady with Mrs. Puff.  He's such a great kid! <3

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cute Mickey Mouse Crocheted Cap

I had some leftover red cotton yarn from Christmas so I made myself a hat. It's from a pattern in one of my favorite crochet books: Cute & Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench. Instead of adding a flower, I created a Mickey Mouse pin for it. I can't wait to take it to DisneyWorld! :)
Here's the book on Amazon:


Today has been tough. It's one of those days that makes me feel like we just won't be able to get out of this hole that we're in. So much has happened lately and I think I'm just tired. Last week I said we had about $200 to put on our debt snowball but then we had to fix Tina (my car) and we weren't sure where to put it: on the debt or towards rebuilding the emergency fund. Unfortunately, we weren't able to put it on either because our check this week was missing almost $400 of overtime so it had to go to help with bills. Aaron's looking into why there was no OT pay but we think it was probably because of the New Year. Regardless, it's a downer. *sigh*

I haven't mentioned it yet, but last week we were in a car accident. We weren't at fault, but Aaron's car took a beating!  A guy ran a red light, hit a car in the right lane, then side swiped us in the left lane. He then sped up and rear ended another car. After hitting that car twice, he lost control, swerved onto the curb and his car died. When he hit us, he hit right behind my seat and I was knocked around quite a bit. I wound up with a sprained shoulder and am on two different medications. I'm certain they aren't helping with my state of mind. I'm never the same when I'm on meds. *sigh*

Here's a few pictures of the wreck. The guy was driving a white Jaguar and we were in Duke, Aaron's black Dodge Charger. 

The guy says he has no memory of hitting either of the first cars and says the minivan he rear ended stopped right in front of him for no reason. He wasn't drunk but he really seemed out of it. We got the police report today and found out that he was charged with reckless driving. We haven't had much luck with the man's insurance company. They want to replace Aaron's doors with used doors and Aaron is not too pleased with that idea. Their adjuster said it should cost about $2600 to fix using used parts. I think Aaron is going to get a few estimates done before accepting their check. I've yet to hear anything on my medical bill reimbursement. *sigh*

The day before our accident, Carrie (our oldest) was also in a very minor accident in a Starbucks parking lot. She backed into another driver as they were pulling into a spot. In North Carolina, young drivers pay a high premium ($1,000 every six months) to have a license. Each year that cost should go down as long as they stay accident and ticket free. She wasn't given a ticket, but the lady is filing a claim to have her car fixed. I'm assuming her insurance will go up. *sigh*

To top it all off, my car is still not's still thumping.  Looks like I either need a new tire or new rotors. Aaron's off Saturday so we're going to see about the tire first, then possible rotors. *sigh*

So, after all of those sighs, I'm reminded that nothing is really wrong. My shoulder will heal, our cars will fix, and we'll help Carrie with her insurance. We're healthy, our marriage is strong, and our God is bigger than any of these pesky problems. Sometimes it's hard to keep smiling when it feels like it's raining. Thanks for letting me rant. :)