Got meat?

September 7, 2008 at 10:14 pm (Home, Money)

One of the best purchases we made was buying a used chest freezer several years ago. I can’t remember but I think we paid something like $125 for it.

With the addition of 2 more kids this is going to become even more crucial. Because, you see, I hate to go grocery shopping more than a couple times a month.

So I’ll be buying like 8 loaves of bread at a time.

It’s also great when you meat goes on sale. When boneless, skinless chicken breasts go on sale for $1.69/lb I buy like 5 packages.

A few weeks ago I bought 40 lbs of hamburger.

Yes, you read that right… 40 lbs.

It was $1/lb.

Not going to pass that up.

I rebagged the hamburger using this trick I learned from someone’s WFMW.


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I’m all for frugality…

June 3, 2008 at 8:28 pm (Money) (, , , )

…but this is going just a tad bit overboard

For frugalists, bargain hunting is a lifestyle
For these extreme anti-consumers, your trash is their food, furniture

I will admit to getting things that are sitting by the dumpster, or even on someone’s curb. But I draw the line at getting my food from the dumpster.

What’s the best “free” thing you’ve picked up? I got a desk once at an apartment complex.

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I Heart the Dollar Stores

February 14, 2008 at 9:23 pm (Money)

So now that I am back to work full time and have an actual desk to sit at, I’ve been getting myself organized. I realized I needed a monthly planner to help me track out all my project deadlines. I use my computer for a lot of stuff but I needed something I could easily take to meetings, etc.

So I ran out to do some errands. My first choice would have been Wal-Mart cuz their cheapest. But it was the only thing I needed there and it was the icky Wal-Mart and I just didn’t want to bother. I needed to go to The Dollar Tree for something and there is an Office Max a few doors down.

So I went in and looked at monthly planners. $11 something for a VERY plain monthly planner. But I paid it and went on my way.

I strolled through the Dollar Tree and picked up a couple Valentine’s things I needed. As I’m standing in line to pay I happen to glance back and notice on the end of the aisle is a slew of monthly planners. For $1. I  promptly put one in my basket.

I returned the other one to Office Max a day later.

I heart the dollar stores 🙂

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How Noah’s Paying for College

December 14, 2007 at 8:47 am (Money)

Who knew that I could turn Noah’s K’nex obsession into a college savings account. Let’s start building!

Kid wins $10k for K’NEX rollercoaster

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Save Money Shopping Online

November 29, 2007 at 7:58 pm (Money)

This should have been my WFMW but I didn’t think of it until right now.

Whenever I’m shopping online I try to remember to use a promo code or coupon. If I haven’t got one (like on the catalog or on an email) I will do a google search. There are all kinds of sites that track these things.

For example I was just doing some Christmas shopping from the Current Catalog. My hard copy catalog didn’t have any promo codes for it but I turned up several codes online by googling "current catalog promo codes". Some were free shipping, some were 15% off, etc. I figured out that the 15% off would save me more money so I used that promo code. I actually ended up getting free shipping too. Total savings was about $25. Woo hoo!

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The Top of the Mountain

November 25, 2007 at 5:17 pm (Money)

UPDATED: If you want to know more about how we reached this goal, check
out Dave Ramsey. He’s got an awesome sale going on that ends today
(11/25). I suggest you start with "The Total Money Makeover" book and
workbook. You can snag both for a total of $20 (vs. $43 reg price). GO NOW!

It’s a mountain we started climbing about 7 years ago when hubby and I first began our quest to become debt free. We scaled the first peak fairly quickly, paying off everything but the house. We’ve moved twice since then but God continues to bless us.

We moved into our current house about 28 months ago after the incredible housing boom. (Read that whole story here.) Our goal when we moved in was to pay off the year in 2.5 years – or 30 months.

(A little screen shot from the Wells Faro web site.)

It is officially PAID off and we are DEBT FREE!  Whooo hoo!

God’s blessings have been amazing as we’ve been on this journey. The story is long and involved and one I am working on putting in a book but suffice it to say that we cannot out give God and as we have tried to faithfully manage the money he has given us, he has poured out his blessings on us.

An interesting thing has happened on this journey to financial freedom. When we first started working Dave Ramsey’s plan I would say that our motivation was mostly to have more money and to live better by being out of debt. Not that I was dreaming of buying a Jag or a 6,000 sq ft home, but yes, I was looking forward to being able to afford nice things.

Well after 7 years of only paying cash for things and following a budget carefully (well, most of the time) and watching our "freedom" grow I’ve realized that I really don’t care about those things as much. Sure I still enjoy a new pair of shoes, a nice outfit, going on vacation. But I don’t care if I ever have a bigger home. I can’t imagine ever buying a vehicle more than about $15,000. Instead, I see the other things that money could be used for, either in our local community or around the world.

Now that we are debt free, what can we do for the kingdom of God?


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I should have been there

October 19, 2007 at 4:43 pm (Money)

So a couple weeks ago almost everyone on the church staff went to the big Catalyst conference in Atlanta. I was invited to go along but had no one to watch the kids as my parents are still out of the country and my MIL was having knee replacement surgery.

So I wasn’t there when my husband got to meet the man who has probably had more influence on our lives than anyone except for God and our families. That man is Dave Ramsey.

I’m actually working on a book right now (it will probably become an e-book) that tells our financial story. But to make a long story short, 10 years ago my husband started to listening to Dave’s radio show. And we started following his steps. We brought Financial Peace University to our church, teaching it for a couple of years before handing it over to others.

We have a 3-6 month emergency fund in place and have been debt free except for our house for the last 6 years. And now, we are standing on the brink of true financial freedom. Within the next 4 weeks we will have our house paid off.

God has truly blessed us as we have honored him with our finances but we owe a big thank you to Dave too!

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Falling Off the Wagon

March 31, 2007 at 5:39 pm (Money)

No, it’s not the wagon you’re thinking of. I’ve never really been "on" that wagon to begin with. It’s our "Financial Peace" wagon.

For the last 6 years or so we have been big proponents of Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University. We started classes at our church and led them for several years before giving the ministry over to someone else.

In the first 9 months or so of following Dave’s advice we paid off all our credit card debt and our student loans, finished paying off one car, sold another car, and got a free car from my grandmother’s estate. When my daughter was born 4 years ago we had gotten ourselves into a position where I could quit working full time and stay home with her and Noah, then 3.  The only debt we currently have is the very little we owe on our mortgage that we hope to have paid off in a year or two. (You can read a little more about that, here.)

But in the last couple of years as hubby has gotten raises and I’ve had freelance money we have both gotten lax in our spending habits.  Most of it is my fault as I’m the one who does the budget, pays the bills, etc.  Well at the end of June I will no longer have my part-time (from home) job that I’ve had w/ the employer I was working for before Natalie was born. That, plus the fact that our church is headed into a building campaign, has forced us to take a hard look at the budget, reprioritize and for me to buckle down.

The biggest step is going back to the trusty envelope system. If you’ve never heard of it, here’s how it works. When preparing your budget, separate out the items that get paid w/ a check (or online) like your utilities, mortgage, etc. Everything else (groceries, eating out, entertainment, etc.) is a CASH category. Add up all the amounts you have budgeted for your cash categories. On payday (so we do this twice a month) go to the ATM and withdraw that amount of money. Then make an envelope for each category and put the correct amount of cash in the envelope.

Then when you’re at the grocery store you pay out of the grocery envelope. Kids want to stop at McDonald’s? Check the "eating out" envelope and see if there’s money left. My kids have heard me say, more than once, "no money in the envelope guys".

Yes, you may borrow from one envelope to pay for something else but here’s the catch. When the cash is GONE, your spending stops! You don’t fork over the debit card, you just don’t buy it. It is the only way that we have ever really done a good job at sticking to our budget.

Studies have shown that people who pay cash for things will spend 12-18% less. That’s probably at least $100 per month, maybe more. If you’ve never tried the envelope system, you can start easy. Try it for just your grocery money for the month. See if it doesn’t surprise you.

Since I’m not a huge fan of having 6 different white envelopes in my purse I went online the other day to buy a new Financial Peace University Envelope System/wallet. It has the envelopes built in along with a coin area, and space for your checkbook. And my heavens, now it comes in pretty colors (used to be just boring black). When I saw that they had it in a blue and brown design (my favorite colors) I took it as a sign from God 🙂

For this month we are also saving all our receipts and tracking our spending to make sure that we’re budgeting the right amount in the right categories.

NOTE: The only exception to the cash rule is that we use our debit card for gas so we can pay at the pump. But the amount is still budgeted, it’s just left in the checking account. Not really any way to overspend there (as long as you don’t go IN the convenience store).

If anyone is in need of financial help I would HIGHLY recommend Dave’s program. You could start with his book "Total Money Makeover". To find a FPU class in your area, click here. He also has a great call in radio show/podcast that you can find here. He is never boring, highly entertaining and speaks about finances in a very practical, easy to understand way.

P.S. Because people always ask here is our cash categories (yours may vary):

  • Groceries
  • Husbands Lunches Out
  • Medicine
  • Hair Care (mostly my cuts and color which don’t happen every month)
  • Household (cleaning supplies, stamps, organizational stuff, home improvement projects, etc.)
  • Clothing (gets more money in spring and winter when I have to get kids new clothes)
  • Babysitting (for twice monthly date nights)
  • Entertaining/Eating Out (movies, date night meals, McDonald’s stops)
  • Fun Money (hubby and I get equal amount that is ours to do with as we please – golf, scrapbooking, etc.)
  • Gifts (birthdays, etc.)

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Build A Bear, Break a Budget

August 22, 2006 at 11:27 am (Money)

BuildabearIt’s McDonald’s fault. Back in the spring they had Build-A-Bear as their Happy Meal toy. Okay, so maybe it’s my fault for making too many trips to McDonalds. Regardless, neither of my children had ever asked for a trip to Build-A-Bear until then.

Lest you be unaware of the BAB idea you go into the store pick an unstuffed animal, then you can choose a sound to go in him if you want (cost extra). Then they fill it with stuff according to your "squishness" factor (included). And then the true shopping begins. Different outfits line the walls. Everything you can possibly imagine for their little animal. At an additional cost of course. And then there’s the shoes, and the hats and the sunglasses. And even furniture, seriously. It’s unbelievable.

When you’ve picked out appropriate clothes you get to go to the computer, name your animal and either print out a story or a birth certificate.

Noah’s new friend is Patch, in a Batman outfit. Natalie’s is a koala bear named Superman in a firefighter outfit (can you say tomboy?).

I plunked down my $65 and was not two feet out the store when Noah said. "Mom, Patch really needs roller skates. Can we get roller skates?"

Um, doesn’t Batman fly????

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Working For A Living

June 30, 2006 at 8:01 am (Money)

The number of teenagers age 16 to 19 in the workforce has fallen 25 percent in the last 25 years. While 54 percent of teens worked in the summer of 2004, that number is the lowest on record.

So what’s your take on whether teens should get a summer job? The same article said that much of the decline was due to the rise in extracurricular activities teens were involved in as well as a larger number participating in summer school courses.

They can’t do both?

I got my first job at 15 working at Burger King. I was so proud of that first paycheck. I remember my very first "big" purchase too – one of those cool Papasan Chairs. I think I slept in it the first couple of nights.  When school started back up my hours were restricted since I was under 16. I couldn’t work past 8:30 p.m. and could only work like 15 hours a week. But I kept at it. And I kept at it. I’ve been employed ever since….a different Burger King…The Limited…a lawyer’s office (at the same time as The Limited for awhile)…waitressing…college admissions office…college Taco Bell Rep (bet you didn’t know there was such a job)…more waitressing…DEGREE…publishing company…distance learning company…state university…church…WHEW – that’s a lot of jobs.

I think I learned a lot in those early years of working – people skills, responsibility, managing (or rather spending) money, leadership, etc.  And I did all those jobs while still participating in school sports, drama club, summer school, etc.

I’m not saying I’ll force my kids to get a job when they get old enough but I’m pretty sure they’ll be rightly motivated by the fact that we don’t just give them whatever they want and they have to earn money for new toys, etc.

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