Best Way to save money

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The best way to save money is to pay attention.

The magic of doing a monthly budget.

Ever since we began doing our budget on Everydollar.com , we are more in tune to how much each of our monthly expenses runs. I can easily see if a bill goes up or down by even a small amount. Certain bills will fluctuate: Water, electric…etc. There are some regular bills that shouldn’t fluctuate and when they do there should be an explanation. So this brings me to this post about paying attention and how it can save you money. A recent example happened this evening.

 

When scanning over our budget, I had a bill that seemed higher than it should be. Looking over the bill I couldn’t quite understand why it was higher than the previous month.  I took the time to call the 800 number and ask to speak to a customer service person. Politely, I  asked them to walk me through our bill. There was an error in the bill by $30.00 a month.  I asked her “do you see any other area that we may be able to save because you found that error so easily?” She looked over our bill and showed coverage that we had that we didn’t need. It was a savings of $20.00/month!

Well… when you do the math: $30.00 X 12 months = $360.00 and  $20.00 X 12 months =$240.00  for a total savings of $610.00!

The phone call took me 22 minutes. (Wow thats almost $1,800.00 and hour.) LOL.

 

In all seriousness you can save money by taking the time to pay attention. Even if it is one bill a month it is worth the effort. I promise you. That is money that I would have just continued to pay if I had accepted the bill as a “victim” of “things are so expensive”. Look how much this bill went up ” drama, drama, drama”. Drama does you no good. Taking action does.

  1. Pay attention to your bills and the amounts you are paying each month. “The trend is your friend.”
  2. Understand the breakdown and why you pay what you pay. Don’t just accept that – What you are paying is the best deal you can get.
  3. If you don’t understand Ask. Be polite. Be kind and professional. People by nature love to help. Call and say:” I need your help to understand this”. 9 times out of 10 they will help.
  4. Make a success list, of savings you have identified. Keep a post-it note, list  in your planner, or a note on your phone- however you would like to keep track and after awhile your list will build and you will be surprised at what you can save in a years time.

I keep a list in my Bullet Journal and I love looking at the results after 6 month time period.

If you are working to save money, and get out of debt, read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover! Click on the book below to order.

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We followed his plan and got out of debt.( including our mortgage!). You can read our debt free story, on my home page of why we decided to get out of debt for good.

I stand in a relationship with Amazon Services LLC Assoc. Program and use their affiliated links. This means that some of the links take you to Amazon.com where you can view and/or purchase a recommended item. If you do purchase the item (within a certain time period), I may earn a small commission from the sale. I ONLY link to products that I have reviewed or used myself and would recommend to family or friends.

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How to be more organized when you feel overwhelmed.

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wpid-Photo-Jul-30-2015-813-PM.jpg

I don’t know about you but my mind spins with ideas and thoughts about projects and things I would love to do around the house, and cabin. Ideas I would love to do for gifts.

My problem was keeping track of those projects, in an organized fashion so that when I am out shopping that I remember what supplies to look for.

I get very overwhelmed by all of the wonderful things that I want to do- ideas I see on blogs and on Pinterest. Keeping a list helps keeps the ideas and thoughts straight. It helps your ability to hunt for the best deals. It also gives you a place to write down your ideas as you are inspired.

This picture above is a great example.

I was in a stationary store of all places and I stumbled upon these white letters for a dollar each.

On my list of projects was numbers for the address plate at cabin. These fit perfect. A side benefit is the bright white color- they will be very visible at night. I may have passed them up had I not had looked at my list prior to heading into the store.

Give it a try. Make a written list on your smart phone, on a notebook you keep in your purse or car.

It is very satisfying when you get to cross through projects over time.

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Why menu planning is worth it!

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One of our biggest challenges is to do a Menu plan for the week. 

Menu planning is worth it! There are so many advantages:

1. Saves money. (potentially a ton of money).

2. Less food gets wasted. (we waste too much).

3. Eat healthier. (yeah, beats ordering Pizza).

4. Less stress. (no panic for “what’s for dinner?”)

5. Eat a better variety.

6. Saves time.

Well, geez with all of those perks why wouldn’t you  we plan each week?

1. It can be overwhelming.

2. It takes discipline to take the time to sit each Sunday and plan.

3. You must think about the week ahead on your day off…

4. It takes effort, and some creative thinking.

I guess I finally got “sick and tired of being sick and tired” of being unorganized and then doing something quick on the fly. So I made the commitment to take the time this weekend to tackle this area of our lives. I found this amazing menu planner page.

 

It is from bakedbree.com. I love the menu planning template for several reasons.

1. It is on one page.

2. It only has dinners on it.

3. It has a large area to “inventory” food we have on hand for planning as well as for a grocery list.

4. It is simple and straight forward.

Here is the process I went through:

1. Print out the template. Click here for link.

bree menu lise 2

2. Inventory your food on hand. Start with the refrigerator. Write down on your menu planning sheet everything you have on hand. ( as you can see from mine I did this on Bree’s sheet to the right). This is a great time to clean out the frig as wel–get rid of food that has gone bad.

3. Inventory the freezer (or both if you have multiple).

4. I didn’t take the time to  Inventory the pantry. (I worked my menu around the frigerator first because those foods have a use by date, then freezer). I then “shopped” in my pantry when I was trying to make menu.

5. I then went to the allrecipes.com  and used their search by ingredients function. It is at the very top of their web page.  It is awesome you put in a few ingredients and a list of recipes with those ingredients appear. Here is the link to their page. Click here. 

6. You base your recipes on most of the ingredients that you have on hand, then make a list of what you need to buy.

bree 4

As you can see from this week, after doing the menu planning I only needed to go get 5 things from the grocery store for the week. That is truly amazing.  I was ready to get in the car and do a full shop which for me usually is about 150.00- 200.00 dollars. What a waste of money and effort when I really can get buy with only 5 grocery items. And the funny thing is we will eat healthier, and with more variety. Another plus is the kids are home for the summer and the leftovers can be eaten for lunch.

Another tip- I printed the recipes I got from allrecipes.com  and attached them to the back of the menu planner for the week and after I got back from the store I hung this  page and recipes on the refrigerator door.

If we love a new recipe I will make a recipe card and file it away for meal planning.

Hope this helps with your menu planning and getting organized in the kitchen.  I will give you an update next week.

 

 

 

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The 10 stupid things we have done with money…that are “normal”.

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I keep promising to do a post about the “normal” stupid things that we have done with our finances over the years.

Afterall, if we are going to inspire others and talk about how we are 100% debt free including mortgage, and cabin…THEN….

We have to be completely transparent and talk about our journey and struggles before we followed the Dave Ramsey plan. Most of these  are  completely normal in our society. Complete normal money practices. Make no mistake these are things that keep you in debt and remember “borrow is slave to the lender” mode and mentality.

 

  1. Took out a loan against our 401K.
  2. Debt consolidation loan.
  3. Home equity Loan
  4. Hid money stress and spending from my spouse.
  5. For years, I bought to make myself “feel better”even if it was garage saling or on sale.
  6. For years, bought things because I was immature, and justified the purchases to myself saying “I deserve it because I work hard…” (“wah wah” sound effect should be playing). Or a temper tantrum.
  7. Buried my head in the sand, and didn’t look and add up how much money we owed.
  8. Didn’t do a monthly budget.
  9. Interest only loan with a balloon payment due at end of 10 years.
  10. Not following the wisdom of the bible on how to manage your money.

WE have all done stupid with money, what is your worst?

 

Don’t fool yourself into believing there is “good debt” – there is no such thing… if you don’t believe me read his book.

A great place to start is with Dave Ramsey’s book the Total Money Makeover. It spells out the 10 Babysteps to get out of debt. The plan that we followed. What are you waiting for? Click here to get the Total Money Makeover. .

I stand in a relationship with Amazon Services LLC Assoc. Program and use their affiliated links. This means that some of the links take you to Amazon.com where you can view and/or purchase a recommended item. If you do purchase the item (within a certain time period), I may earn a small commission from the sale. I ONLY link to products that I have reviewed or used myself and would recommend to family or friends, or have bought for family or friends.

Time to get control of your money, and get out of debt,  What are you waiting for?

 

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You never know how strong you are…

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I have so much fun with decorating, doing pinterest projects, home focused stuff that I forget to post about myself. I decided to start going a “deep thoughts” post every so often so you know there is a person behind this blog.

You never know how strong you are…until it is the only option you have.

I believe that is one of the truest statements of life. I have been through some amazingly trying times in my life. One thing that I know for sure is that I just kept moving through them.

The bible calls it diligence. I love that word.

Diligence

There have been those times in my life when I have just wanted to just stop.  Just to say “uncle”.  I didn’t–and I don’t.  I just kept moving through it. Getting up and moving through it.  Listing hardships,  that I have been through will sort of be mute. They are the similar things in life that everyone is faced with (heartache, betrayal, loss…). That is life.

 

Things that I know:

  • I am a very sensitive person.
  • I am human, not perfect.
  • God is absolutely crazy about me.
  • I am simple.
  • I work hard.
  • I am stubborn like my dad. It has served me well.
  • I believe in the life that I have built. I believe in working hard for the people I love.
  • I married a better person than I could ever be, and have known that since the day I married him.
  • I believe in my children. Someone said to me once. You think your children are perfect. ( No- I just don’t spend time repeating their mistakes, trials or tribulations to just anyone, as they already have to live with their choices, they don’t need my gossip or the gossip of others to expand their mistakes).
  • I hold the expectation bar high for my children. When they fall, it is not as far…I live and hold the same expectations for myself.
  • I am a parent first, maybe someday I will  be blessed enough to be my children’s best friend, if they so choose. But, I love them enough to be their mom first, and “popular” second.
  • I am fiercely strong. (I mean mentally, though crossfit is helping I am not that physically strong yet).
  • I am proud of my mental strength. It has been a blessing to me and others.
  • I am learning to have boundaries.
  • I am no longer accepting poor treatment from (family or otherwise). (Even if this means having fewer people in my life).

I am glad that life has made me show how strong I am.

 

 

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Journey to Debt Free – Part 5

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Paid in Full cabin

We became debt free including our home and cabin on February 28th, 2015. The last day my husband was 50. We had the goal of being debt free by the time we were 50 years old. DONE!

Am I here to brag? No !!!! The exact opposite. I am here to celebrate and give others hope that if you follow Dave Ramsey’s plan you can be debt free and have financial peace. We had a TON of debt so it took us 10 years-  9 years 9 months if you count the moment we became gazelle intense.

We do not owe one single dime to anyone! In fact, after our last recent payment on the cabin -they owe us a refund of 261.23!

Now it is time to “live like no one else-give like one else”-and save like crazy and make up for lost time!!!

 

We are not sure how we are going to celebrate –we are kind of in shock. We have had this carrot dangling out there for so long. Now it is time to find a new dream.

If I am being transparent– I have to admit that I got a little depressed after we paid the house off. It has been a specific personal goal of mine my whole life and it drove me to work hard in so many areas of my life. It was almost a ” now what”? feeling.  I was melancholy and sad. Weird I know.

Then we continued to hammer away at the cabin– we had a ton to throw at it with the house being paid for. That gave me some more drive.

My husband has been just amazing. It has made us so much closer. We work together. He pays bills, I form the everydollar budget and we both have equal say. He is not saying “no” all the time and I am not hiding the stress of money issues  from him. We were in a horrible pattern for alot of our married life. Of him putting his head in the sand, and me just doing what I wanted with our money.  Not a great or successful way of doing things.  We’ve  never separated our money. We always have lived as one, ever since we took our marriage vows. But, we weren’t managing God’s money correctly.  About 10 years ago it hit me, and I handed the bill paying responsibilities over to my dear husband. (He is way better at it. He is able to be more on top of it ;being home fulltime).  It helped us both learn from each other and jump back on board with the Dave Ramsey program.

When he first started paying bills he would track me with my debit card purchases, I remember my sister warning me and saying it is never going to work. (obviously she saw how much I spent, a reasonable thought). It was a little  very tense at first but, it was time for me to grow up and be mature. We got out of debt the first time because I did it all, the second time we did it together. I think that is why we kept going and hit our goal. So— to get to the point- it is not easy. But it is worth it and the one thing that is the number one cause of divorce has made us closer.  I actually had a family member say to me after I explained that we needed to put maximum in IRA for my husband every year and catch up on the contributions, ” your going to put it in his name? what if you divorce?”  What would have angered me years ago, made me really sad. I am glad that I don’t view life that way and make decisions based on “worse case” scenerios. Besides, if we divorce my husband deserves half of what we have accumulated after being together for 32 years. Amen to that.

We  started to teach Financial peace classes together and it really kicked our level of understanding of finances and building wealth. It helped us realize what we could do- most important volunteer and help others have financial peace. It is so motivating to sit in a class we teach and have someone thank us after class because they finally had the courage to face their debt, and to face their behaviors that caused the debt.  It is fun to see them calculate how long it will take themselves to get out of debt. The difference in their walk from week 1 to week 9 is amazing. They feel confident and most important are full of hope.

Following the program, gives you a sense of power and control, so much that you get all areas of your life together. Power and control? Yes– because you are planning and telling every dollar where to go at the beginning of every month. You realize that you are in control. You learn how  to get organized and take care of other areas. We did the following:

Life insurance, disability insurance, identity theft insurance, wills, IRAs, regular insurance, sink accounts, savings accounts, and college accounts and savings.

Of course we had to learn the hard way and go broke or get back into debt before it stuck!!! It’s stuck – this time– BIG TIME!

Stay tuned for Part 5 where I dig into the Top 10 stupid things we have done with money. Things that are normal…. oh yeah and I have to do our debt free scream- “WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!” FREEDOM!!!!

 

 

 

 

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EveryDollar.com

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I wanted to take a quick moment to share a tool that I love! (okay it isn’t this drill, but this picture I loved because taking control of your money eventually leads to Freedom.)

tools-you-can-use Financial Freedom and Peace.
If you have read my blog before, it is no surprise that I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey, we not only follow his teachings and program, my husband and I are Financial Peace Class Coordinators.

If you don’t know where your money is going every month, than you need to follow a budget- before the month begins and give every dollar a “name”. This sounds simple and it is not, until now Ramsey Solutions has made it so much simplier with their new computer program/app called Everydollar. Click on picture to go to there site.

everydollar

5 Reasons I like “everydollar” over a spreasheet budgeting: 

1.There is a iphone app that gives you access to the budget that you set up on your computer. It  tracks what we have planned to spend, what we have spent and what is remaining in each catagory for the month.  This helps when you are shopping and tempted to say “just this once”. You open the app and look at your clothing budget and it gives you instant balance of what you have to spend for the month for that category.

2. Sounds restrictive? No! You are in charge. You tell your money where to go , before each month begins, each and every month based on the priorities you have set in your life. Seriously, it gives you control and a sense of peace.

3.Unexpected killer  Side benefit, I have found myself not wanting as much.  Sounds kind of funny but, I find myself having a sense of peace that I didn’t know would come from being directive about money and being in control of it instead of wondering where it went at the end of the month. Reminds me  when you are shopping, have no money you find all the best outfits, shoes, and home accessories you could ever ask for, then when you get your budget money for the month you shop and can’t find a thing.

4. I love that it is free. Now I have to fess up and say I did link it to our bank account so I didn’t have to add the transactions manually. That service costs 99 dollars a year, because the bank charges Ramsey Solutions. In my not so humble opinion–It is worth triple that cost. It saves so much time. The other thing I love about it is that it makes budgeting fun. I know— I know— sounds really weird but, I love the ‘control” aspect so much, that it gives you instant gratification.

5. Gives my husband and I the ability to review our budget very quickly. I make the budget and then we sit down and he gives his input and we move stuff around after discussing our priorities. For instance we recently this past year added a wedding savings account for our dear daughter.  She is 19 and in college and far from getting married.  But some day…and I don’t want that day to be full of stress and concern over money. (There will be a budget limit — but we will be prepared.).  every little bit saved is better than not saving at all…

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How to cook Bacon in the oven…

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Okay I love bacon. I know don’t lecture me on nitrates and et al. (I love Whole Foods and tried their healthy bacon- not so much—- it was gross). I want my bacon to taste like bacon. (Sorry guys!) I just love bacon.

Got bacon

 

When they started making cult following bacon shirts I secretly wanted to wear one. I have been on the hunt for the best way to cook bacon. Let’s face it –it is a losing propsition with grease in the kitchen. Well after many googles and visits to websites I found it on line by Culinary Arts expert Danilo AlFaro. Seems as the trick is to put it in a cold oven, on parchment paper, and turn to 400 degress and walk away.

Here is the link to Danilo, afterall I am no chef.

Best bacon Ever.

 

 

Best tasting bacon ever….bacon picture

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11,610 pounds lifted this morning…I must be insane

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crossfit1I have a love hate realationship with CRossFit! As I lay in bed, and the alarm goes off my mind becomes very sharp at decifering why I should just sleep in. I have learned over the last 8 months doing crossfit – that I never regret getting up and going, but I always regret for the most part when I don’t!

This morning was a stuggle to get my fat butt outa bed, and I am so glad I did! Okay and look bleow at what Cricket did! wow. I swear I am gonna make a t-shirt with my cricut machine and wear it into the gym. With a cricket on it. She is badass strong!! Wow.  and yes- errrr…. Those are my hands! real feminine aren’t they? Nope but they are strong.

image1WORKOUT:

AMRAP (crossfit talk for “As Many Reps As Possible) in 30 minutes.

Deadlifts.

My deadlift max is 150lbs, I did 135lbs this morning.

For a total of 86 reps THUS the 11,610 lbs!

I guess my flight to El Paso this morning will seem easy, since I have lift 11,000 pounds before 6am!!

 

On another note: I need some long socks!!! cause even crossfit can make me shop! and notice how crossfit is leading me to craft? I am making a t-shirt?

My new realization about myself anything can make me shop or craft!!!

 

 

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Did I tell you I started Crossfit?- very humbling…

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June 29th, 2014 – I started on this crazy and amazing journey. (you will see posts on my instragram feed).

crossfit logo
Let me back up a little, in March of 2014 I lost my dad. After losing him I struggled to get my life back on track. I never realized what an impact our “little conversations” had on me. He had grown into such a cheerleader for me in my life.
Through depression bouts and moments of self doubt I embarked on a journey to try to be my best self.  As “cheesy” as that phrase can be “my best self”. I really thought to myself I am not getting any younger, what if I challenged myself to get in the best shape of my life?
That lead me to facing the fact that I needed to start making my physical and mental health a priority.   I didn’t realize until my first few sessions how much strength, functionality and agility I had lost. Let me just say–It was a very humbling experience. Not being able to get up off the floor quickly or without alot of effort. very humbling. In my mind, I still feel as if I am in my early 20’s, and assumed my body was the same.

Enter-Crossfit.

 I have to say that I am like many crossfitters, and was very passionate about my workouts and discussed it often. (insert- me in Joey from Friends picture). I am so excited to discuss and share my progress. You do not have to do crossfit. You just have to move and work out! For me I am on a journey to do my best effort and become in the best shape possible. For the challenge, for my well being…What do you do to stay in shape?

joey

me against myself

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