Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No Spend September Results!

                     So, betcha  you might be wondering how did my no spend September go? 

Well, it went amazing!  I stuck faithfully to my no spending resolution.  I even asked my hubby NOT to buy me a birthday present...which he reluctantly honored.  It was a great financial exercise and guess what... I survived!  The biggest news is that we ended up paying off our mini van!  Yea!!  We sold our beloved Mountaineer and swiftly applied that money to our car loan...then we took some funds from our savings account and said "See You Later Mini Van Debt"!  Bye Bye!!  I am thrilled to say we are now debt free minus the house.  And...that's next.  I love the freedom in knowing that we owe nothing to nobody.  With the new year approaching we are looking over our financials and asking some questions.

                                               Where can we give more?

                                               Where can we pinch pennies more?

                                               Do we have our will updated?

                                              Are we investing enough in retirement?

                                              Are we spending frivolously?

Just some thoughts for us to ponder...and maybe for you as well!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Giving while paying off debt

Many people, including myself at one point in time, would think it counterintuitive to give money away when you are trying to pay off debt.  And, I can totally see the rationality of that statement.  But, as a Christian, I learned a long time ago that God can sometimes ask us to do some pretty irrational things!  Years ago, as new Christians, the hubby and I decided to tithe (that is give 10% of our income, pre tax to the Church).  Yikes!  I know some of you just about keeled over after reading that! :)

We had read the following verse and took God at his word.

Malachi 3:10
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

Now, I absolutely understand that tithing is NOT a requirement.  But, there is major blessing when you follow God's principles.  No one can convince me otherwise because we lived it.  We had front row and center seats to watching God provide for our family.  I could go on for hours about the time my hubby lost his job due to the economy.  How I was pregnant with our 3rd child and y'all know when you lose a job, you lose not only income, but health insurance too!  With a mortgage we couldn't pay anymore, 2 small children and one on the way, no health insurance, and no job...we were right where God needed us before he could "Show Off" for us.  That's my term for it.  He just showed up big time!  And without going into all the details (which I would love to do, but there were just so many), I will say we had every.single.need of ours met.  Usually right at the last minute, but that's what makes these stories even more exciting. 

I could go on and on about how God provided every.single.cent we needed for the adoption of our 4th sweet child.  We prayed that we could pay for the adoption without incurring any debt...and guess what?  We started the adoption process in January 2011 and brought her home 10 months later in November debt!  Wow!  I am sure y'all are very familiar with the cost of adoption.  It's not inexpensive.  So, to walk away with out any that's a major blessing!

And, I will tell you...we never stopped giving our tithe or giving to other organizations close to our hearts.  Never.  Not when we were unemployed.  Not when we didn't know how we were going to pay for the next medical bill.  Not when we were in the adoption process and could have really used that money for adoption fees.  Never have we stopped.  And, Lord willing, we never will.  We have seen "the floodgates of heaven pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" in our lives. 

I hope this post is encouraging to you.  I still can struggle with giving, hey I AM human.  But, each time I struggle with giving, I am reminded of ALL that's been provided for me. 

So, as we continue to work off this car debt and house debt, we will continue to give and give some more.  And I have no doubt that if we do our part, God will bless this journey and we will have another amazing story to tell our children and grandchildren about God's provision. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Redefining a WANT versus a NEED

I used the word "redefining" instead of defining in my title on purpose.  I'm not so sure I need to define what a want versus a need is.  However, I do need to REDEFINE in my brain what a want is and what a need is.  The entire point of this No Spend Month of September is to be more concious about what we are spending our money on and why we are spending it.  When I get the urge to update my already updated kitchen...I try to ask myself why am I desiring this?  Am I bored? Lonely?  Or, am I just not content with being content?  Honestly, after I ask those 3 questions...I usually have my answer.  I can't help but think of the world around us and compare my life to theirs.  Here's a simple quote that I found after some internet research.  This data was from 2 years ago.  It got me thinking....

Over three billion people — more than half the world population as of 2010 — live on less than $2.50 US Dollars (USD) a day. More than 80% of the population lives on less than $10 USD per day. To put that in perspective, the average American spends about $7 USD a day on entertainment alone, and more than twice that on transportation.

Whoa!  Did you read that right?  Read it again...and again...and again...until it really truly sinks in.  See, what I have learned is that I have the amazing priviledge of living in a very wealthy country.  Even in this ugly economy, which by the way we have certainly felt the pressure of when my hubby lost his job in 2008, we are still amongst the richest people. 

So, what do we do with all that extra money?  Well, if you are anything like me...we give some away, but then we spend it on ourselves, our homes, our cars, our kids, our pets, our family.  And you know what, that's not all bad.  Actually it's a good thing to take care of ourselves, our family and all that we've been blessed with.  It's a blessing to have our needs met and to take good care of those blessings.

                                BUT, C'MON PEOPLE!

You and I both know that we spend way more on our wants than our needs.  I am sure we all go through times when we pull our purse strings just a little tighter.  You know, we don't eat out 3 times a week, just once.  We decide to make our Starbucks at home with our fancy Keurig instead of walking into a Starbucks and purchasing a Tall Vanilla Roobis Tea Latte with 2 extra squirts of Vanilla Syrup.  What?  I never said I was innocent from this want versus need thing!  I am the guiltiest!  But, just so you know...that is my favorite drink there. Just sayin...

So, with the above quote still resonating in my head.  I am obligated to get myself in check.  It's so easy to compare myself to my neighbors.  And if I do that, well we are doing pretty darn good.  BUT, of course, we aren't rich by any means,  You know...we get by... we have enough to pay for my cell phone, the cable and the internet.  We can run to Target and buy some new shoes if our kid's shoes are looking a little tired out.  I can run out to dinner with my girlfriends and spend $15 on a meal.  My boys can play their sports and my girls can get pretty new hair clips.  But, don't get the wrong picture here...we really aren't rich. 

Hopefully, you are catching on to my sarcasm here.  One thing I have recently been blindsided with is just HOW rich I truly am.  Has my husband worked hard?  You bet he has!  Have we "sacrificed" in some ways to get where we are?  Heck ya we have!  But, the truth is anything and everything we have has little to do with us.  We had zero control over where we were born (here in the USA).  We had zero control over who our parents would be and how they would raise us.  We had zero control over the privileges and opportunities we were blessed with.  Anything we have is a gift from God.  A GIFT...not something we earned and certainly not anything we can take credit for.  It is a gift.  I am guilty of not viewing these privileges as gifts, but rather as things we have earned.  But, the truth is...I would have nothing if it weren't for God's hand providing it for me.  And I just can not shake the thought that I can do more for those who need it. 

You know the saying...Blessed to be a Blessing? 

That applies to me.

P.S  For a fun look into just how rich you are...try this fun tool.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Homemade Bread

So, in my attempt to save money.  I have decided to bake my own bread this entire month.  On average, for our family of 6,  I spend about $7.00 a week for just sandwich bread.  I also buy hotdog buns, hamburger buns and English Muffins.  So, I bet I spend close to $15 a week on just bread products.  That's $60 a month on just bread!  If I make my own bread and my own hamburger buns and I cut out hotdog buns all together...I think that's a sizable savings!  And, of course, anything I save in groceries is going towards the additional car payment I want to pay this month.  Of course it's not really $60 savings each month because I do need to buy the ingredients for the bread.  However, even if I am only saving $30 a month, it is still a better investment in our family's health.  I have made 2 different bread recipes.  I really liked the first recipe found here.  And this is the recipe I made today.  I haven't tasted it yet, because it is still in the rising phase.  But, the reviews were 5 star.   It does take a little time to get used to making time for bread baking, but I really enjoy cooking so this isn't a deal breaker for me.  So far the kids haven't complained much.  Like everything new, the kids will have to adjust.  But, this mama is sticking to my no spend September month and if this helps pay off the car one day earlier...then it's totally worth it!  Let me know if you have any fun ideas for me to save money.  I would love to hear your tried and true tips!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Budget time

Okay, moment of truth...I love budgets.  I really do.  I love everything about them...I love thinking about budgets, I love writing up budgets, I love looking over the budget, and I LOVE keeping to the budget.  So far so good today.  I had to stop in at Target today for a few items I missed on my grocery list.  I can not tell you how disciplined I needed to be.  I walked past a 50% off shelf and started browsing.  There were some great deals on dishes!  But, I committed to no frivolous spending this month of  September and darn it...I'm sticking to it.  Plus, I have enough plates...why would I even consider buying more?  So, I put the beautiful 50% off dishes back on the shelf and kept walking.  I actually walked out of Target with ONLY the items I intended to get!  Honestly, it felt very good once I was out of the store with only the items I needed!  Now, I have made a budget for September...have you?  I have noticed keeping a budget really does keep me more accountable.  If you aren't too comfortable with a budget...well, you might want to get comfortable with it.  Because if you are serious about getting out of debt, I have no idea how you are going to do it if you don't keep track of your spending.  And, for all of you out there who don't update your checkbook...I think you might want to reconsider that!  It's so very important to KNOW your KNOW your purchases.  Give it a might just like it!!

Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.
Proverbs 22:7

Friday, August 31, 2012

No spend month~September

Well, I have made a decision.  Starting tomorrow, September 1st, I declare it NO SPEND MONTH!  I've started to notice that restless feeling again.  You know, when something is bugging you and you just can't shake it.  For me, it's paying off debt.  A few years ago, after my hubby lost his job due to our lovely economy we were reminded why it is so important to save, save, save.  Wait...scratch that...we were reminded how important it is to GIVE first and then save, save, save.  We currently have car debt and the house debt.  Doesn't sound like too much when others are drowning in much more debt than that.  But, like I said, we've been down this path before and we paid off all that other debt years ago.  But, it creeped back up into our lives and now...well, I am waging war!  I hate debt.  I hate all the bondage it brings.  I hate all the heartache it brings.  I hate the heaviness that it brings.  It really just isn't worth it.  Nope.  All this stuff that I's just junk.  Yea, it might not be junk today, but give it until next season and it will be.  That's just how we Americans have become.  It's a disposable society we live in...and I am the guiltiest one.  So, with that said.  I am commiting to paying off this dreaded car debt first.  With about $8000 left on it...sigh...that may take awhile.  Unless, of course, I stop buying junk.  Even nice junk, like clothes from my favorite store White House Black Market.  Goodness, I love that store.  Just walking in makes me smile.  Okay, enough about that I need to stay focused.  Is it possible to pay it off in 8 months?  Yikes!  That's $1000 every month until May.  Hmmm....I don't know.  BUT, I have to admit that when I look at our checkbook, I do see a lot of areas that can be trimmed.  Like groceries, eating out (although not much of that is going on with a family of 6), my Target jaunts which always cost me way more than I had anticipated walking in.  There is just something about Target that I love.  It's just such a fun store for me to walk in and I always love browsing...ahh...Target.  Okay, back to reality...this dumb debt is weighing on me.  I am ready to say "buh bye" to that nagging feeling of owing someone something.  So, I am taking the pledge (even if it is my own pledge)...I am not spending anything the month of September that is not a necessity.  The necessities would include our giving, house payment, car payment, insurances, utilities, gasoline, and grocery.  I need to look into some of these areas and see where our money is going...the one that jumps right out at me is grocery.  I've already done this weeks grocery shopping and I did really well coming in at around $100 for a family of 6.  However, I had done a pretty large shopping trip the week it doesn't really count.  Next week will be the true test.  I am hoping to stay focused and get this car paid can be done, it will be done.  I just gotta want it bad enough.  Feel free to join me in this debt payoff journey.  Start with your smallest debt.  Maybe it's a gas card, or a credit card.  Just pick your smallest debt and let's do this TOGETHER!  Leave me a comment and we can spur each other on to victory!  C'mon, you know you want to...Right? Right? Anyone?

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where theives break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where theives do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6: 19-21