Friday, October 14, 2016

October 14, 2016

Payday today.

We are down from $38,509.30 as of today in our debt snowball to $37,949.35. We started this journey with $50,530.01.

The citi card is down now to $1,565.22.

Our plan is to have the citi card paid off by 11/25/26 if all goes according to plan.

Bry got a raise and once I know what that new check will look like each month I'll be able to figure out if the citi being paid off by 11/25 is a for sure or not.

I can't wait to have the citi card paid! Then comes my van!

~Have a blessed evening~

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pay Day 9/16/16

Today is Payday...

We are down from $39,367.30 to $38,509.30 as of today in our debt snowball. We started this journey with $50,530.01.

The citi balance is down to $1,898.28 now, yay! I will be so glad to see this hit zero! I can't wait.
I had misplaced  my citi card somewhere in the house (I hadn't cut this up as of yet unless I did and maybe forgot). It didn't matter until I tried logging into my account and couldn't get it so then I had to call them and explain that I lost my card. They sent a replacement which I needed to use to set up the online account again. Getting another credit card was a weird feeling.  We've got a stack of credit cards we are going to use to make some sort of decorative art project with, this one will go into that heap soon.

This week we had some extra from the grocery budget so I was able to use $50 that was left over toward the Citi card this paycheck, making the payment to Citi $500.

Last night Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze did a live stream from Texas on You Tube. I was able to "watch" which means listen while I was at work. Best part was my Dad actually watched and got to see Dave Speak. Hopefully planting tiny seeds of change for him and my Mom.

Citi had sent me some balance transfer checks for a zero interest rate. But in the past transferring one debt to a zero interest card didn't do anything except give us more credit cards to spend money on, and then allowed us to charge up the freed up balances on the cards we had been paying down (dumb I know). If we transfer over the AMEX it would save us $137 or so in interest per month but then we lose the excitement of having a debt wiped completely from our Snowball (as the AMEX balance is up about $15,000 and that citi card available credit is not that high).

We are canceling the Capital one card. Just finally got around to updating the payment info with the gym to a debit card we had created with a new account just for that purpose and for any Xbox live purchases we make. Some places I just don't want to have our "main" debit card.

Found some great recipes to make that are cheap and can be made ahead. I doubled or tripled them so that it would make for easy easy dinners. This Lo Mein recipe was a hit with the kids (sans carrots and peppers). And this one is like a chicken rice bowl with cilantro lime rice (two of my favorite things), again Sans peppers.
One of our other go to recipes these days is Italian hot dogs, which is basically grilled hot dogs with Potatos and peppers over top of them. You can do the same with sausage as well.

~Have a blessed evening~

Monday, September 5, 2016

Payday September 2, 2016

Today is Payday...

We are down from $40,562.41 to $39,367.30 as of 9/2/16 in our debt snowball. We started this journey with $50,530.01; so that's $11,162.71 paid off since we started in May 2016.

The citi balance is down to $2,398.28 now, which is super exciting to see. I really can't wait until we pay off the family van! I think my parents may be inspired by that too (as my Dad co-signed for us on it) - Dave Ramsey has a lot to say on co-signers and not doing so which we know now of course, but didn't think about that. But I think once my Dad sees that paid in full.. perhaps he might get bitten by the Dave Ramsey bug too. Here's hoping!

The process is going a bit slower than it could be as we want to save up for birthdays and Christmas. But once that is done, our momentum should increase I believe. January has my car registration so we will make sure we have that set aside in advance. And then also next year Summer, our 12 year old, wants to get Invisalign treatments, we do have a flex card (which is our flexible savings account that comes out of Bry's check pre-tax) but his employer only allows us to put $2,500 per calendar year in that, and this year I sort of burned through a bit of it because of my Emergency room visit and the related co-pays for that. So hopefully for Summer's treatment we can use $500 from our Flex that restarts in January 2017, and then cash flow the other $500 on that. She's got a baby tooth not yet in so her treatment has to wait until that comes in anyway, so we have some time to save up. Hopefully some tax refund money can contribute to this.. but I will make about $20,000 working part time this year and that may or may not effect us tax wise this year. Praying that we won't owe anything and if we break even that will be a blessing.

The family and I like to go walk around IKEA and the other day we saw a couch we would love to put in the family loft / gaming area, the Ektorp sectional (washable cover). But it's $999 so that's not in the budget right now. So we will keep the futon with the washable cover up there for now and maybe start a small couch fund down the line.. but it's not an emergency so it's okay for now. Not a need but it's a want. There is some stuff Bry and I would like to do to our room as well. I think as parents we always tend to put our room last on the design spectrum. We've had our same bedroom set for over 13 years now. But it's still kicking so no reason to replace it. I was thinking maybe of doing some painting though and giving it a bit of a make over or something just to make it feel new. We use chairs as side tables in our bedroom... I've seen it in design photos and it's not that it looks bad.... but I would eventually like something different, again not an emergency and just a want not a need, so I'm good with waiting. We could actually probably cut the backs off the chairs and then they would be true tables then, but someday we may need the extra seating haha, so I don't want to do that.

Well that's all for now.
Have a blessed evening.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cutting Spending

Some of the ways we have been cutting spending money...

  • Not getting fast food very often unless there is money for it in the family spending money. 
  • Not getting Starbucks very often unless it's in the family spending money. 
  • Having at home Movie night (renting a movie from Amazon for $5 or from on DVD from Redbox $1.99). We do this with candy and popcorn (we have an air popper which makes some great popcorn too) and sodas at home. 
  • Instead of going to ice cream places.... taking the kids to pick out half gallons of ice cream which allows us to have ice cream many more times than just the one time at the ice cream place. Getting sundae fixins' to make sundaes at home too. 
  • For going to movies out... $5 movies... and not getting any drinks or snacks while there. A small popcorn cost more than the movie admission... no thank you movie theater. 
  • I got a library card for myself and have been using the overdrive app to borrow E-books on my kindle from the library. Reading a lot keeps me busy and keeps me from shopping too. 
  • Not buying bulk sizes just because we have a SAMs membership, instead buying what we need for that two week period. 
  • Finding things we can do that don't cost money... like walking around IKEA... I could walk around there a lot and am not tempted to buy anything... and there is always a few dollars in our pocket in case one of the kids or Bry wants a vanilla cone haha. 
  • Bowling... an affordable option for family fun. We haven't done this yet but it's in our plans. 
  • Think ahead... it's too late this year but for next year we want to make sure that in January we begin to put money aside for birthdays and holidays for the up coming year. And we want to set up a sinking fund category as Dave calls it, for the camping vacations we want to take.. tent camping... nothing fancy but we feel this would be a great thing to do with the kids and the dogs while being cost effective and budget friendly. 
  • For grocery shopping... keeping up with detailed menu planning and using a pen and pad to keep track of what we are spending as we shop to keep in budget. If you see a gal using a notebook to add up prices... yeah that's me haha. Please say "hi". 
  • Keep up with unschooling the kids... every once in a while I'm tempted to buy some fancy item for homeschooling... Yesterday I wrote out a list of what Skylar is doing for her 9th grade year using educational speak for the things she does in daily life. Let me say that kid covers a lot of college level stuff and beyond. So that was good. So just to keep on top of that list to help me avoid needless spending on supplies. 
  • Remember to ask myself if things are needs or wants before making a purchase. Old Melissa would have purchased all the camping stuff we want on a credit card and worried about it later. There is such power in waiting and planning and saving. 
  • Staying in God's word daily. I do some verse mapping each morning on the daily verse that the You version bible app shares each day. Praying daily that God will keep me steadfast in our budget and avoid the temptation to spend. And then I'm doing the 17:18 bible journaling, right now doing the book of John... So marinating a lot on God's word. 
  • Focusing on being content with what we have in the moment not what we wish we had. 
~Many blessings to you and yours~ 

Friday, August 19, 2016

August 19, 2016

Today is Payday... so we have made some payments today of course.

We paid down more of the citi card, $651 toward that bringing that balance down to $2,687.20.
We also paid some of the PSECU but that's not due until the 25th so I wait to update the balance after the payment is credited on that account, just because of the interest.

Bringing our total debt balance to $40,562.41 as of today.

Bry and I had sent my parents FPU for home study. In the mail yesterday I received a box, and when I opened it it contained the unopened FPU that I had sent them. They never opened it.
Bry and I decided to keep it and popped in the first DVD. What a great speaker Dave is... and he is so funny. I listed to his Podcast every day but seeing him and his facial expressions as he acts things out... well it's just great. So their loss is our gain in this instance for sure.
We watched two lessons last night. The first being Super Savers and the second (we accidentally skipped ahead to lesson 3 being Cash flow planning. So we are going back to watch lesson 2 the next time Bry is off.
Sparked lots of laughs and more importantly lots of thoughtful discussion on our debt and our dreams.

So even though I had felt prior that if someone read the books maybe they didn't need FPU. FPU is definitely well worth the expense just as it's so motivating!
I signed up for the online tools that comes with the membership, very cool!

~Have a blessed day~

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Down goes the debt

We started this journey with $50,530.01 in debt.
Now the total amount is $41,213.77, so since May when we started we have paid off $9,316.24.

As of today the balances due are:
Citi Card:             $ 3,338.56
Car Max (Van):    $ 6,227.97
PSECU Credit:    $15,757.71
Amex:                  $15,863.14 (this one is a little tricky as it's not going down fast enough as I hadn't been making a payment enough to cover the interest, the min due always said zero so I just kept paying $50 a month. Stupid tax as Dave Ramsey would say and now the payment is up to $286). This is effecting the snowball as the money I was paying on on discover was supposed to be shifted to Citi and instead it's going to Amex. So just a small blip in the matrix. This is why after Citi is paid we are going to pay the Amex as the next debt in line.

Since last time I update I did end up setting up a free checking account to use for auto payments online for Xbox and for Bry's gym membership as well. The gym had overcharged us by a month and the capital one card credited us right back, so I'm waiting to see if the gym tries to bounce that charge back to us again before moving on closing this card and moving over to using the debit card instead for this.

The family van is in the shop... since August 2nd.... So that has been an inconvenience. We had it at a local dodge dealer... it's a dodge Van... and they were not helping us... this isn't the first time we have had this experience. So we pulled the van and took it to a Hyundai dealership for service. Here's hoping it's fixed in a timely fashion. We did have to pay $300 deductible for the work that dodge did do on my van, as we have a warranty from CNA that was offered to us when we bought the van through carmax. Hence the $300 cost to us from Dodge. We were told by the warranty company that this would count as one event and shouldn't have to pay the $300 deductible again. The AC compressor is what caused us to take the van in for service and that compressor had been replaced by Hyundai for us with a certified warrantied Chrysler compressor. Dodge refused to honor the warranty on the Chrysler part, which is why we pulled the van and took it elsewhere. Here's hoping I get my van back soon. Getting hard not having a car that fits the entire family.

~Have a blessed night~

Friday, July 22, 2016

Best Buy is gone now

So yesterday we made the final payment on Best Buy! It was a very small balance left on a zero interest offer that we have had since May of last year. The final payment, which paid it in full was $168.52.

We started this journey with $50,530.01 in debt.
Now the total amount is $42,318.37. So since May when we started we have paid off $8,211.64. That feels wonderful!

As of today the balances due are:
Citi Card:             $ 3,838.56
Car Max (Van):    $ 6,588.28
PSECU Credit:    $15,962.73
Amex:                  $15,928.80

I have closed my SAMs credit card and also my Discover. Going to be cancelling Kohls very soon. Just haven't gotten that far yet. Best Buy card will be cancelled as soon as this final payment has been credited. Next to cancel is Bry's capital one. We use this for his gym membership which comes out once a month and also for the Xbox live purchases. However I think I'm going to set up a free checking account that gives us a debit card and just have this be the fund for these two items. I just don't like giving the gym access to our main checking account just in case they have an overcharge error, which has happened in the past.

I read Chris Hogan's Retire Inspired the other day. Great book which I highly recommend to anyone. Not a rehash of Dave's books as some Amazon reviews indicate. I felt Chris really explained heavily the retirement steps of the baby steps, which makes sense since it's called Retire Inspired after all.

~May your evening be blessed~

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money

So I read this book for the first time just the other day....

I really like this book very much. While I enjoyed the story based conversational format of the Total Money Make Over... I think I prefer this just a smidge more as I like that it really digs in to the money concepts deeply.
I read Total Money Make Over many years ago. I'm currently re-reading that. I also listen to Dave's Podcasts Daily. As you can tell I am committed to keeping the motivation going here.
I had borrowed the Financial Peace kit from my dear friend who took Financial Peace at our church. I  was sort of teetering about if Bry and I should take the at home version.... but we have known about Dave's "system" for awhile.... I don't think there is anything we would learn specifically out of the class that we don't already know very well already from having been following Dave's materials so far.... We don't feel we need the group support/accountability aspect at this stage or the extras provided in the FPU class. I had already listened to all the FPU CD's and since I would like to get the kit back to my friend sooner than later... I was like okay... open this book and read it so I can give it back. It's basically the handbook for FPU, and it's really a great read and I highly recommend it!

I honestly think I would recommend both books since they work in tandem. Yes some of the info is repeated a bit... but not in a word for word annoying kind of way... Total Money Make Over has lots of stories sprinkled in of others and their journey (for your encouragement) where as Complete Guide to Money is more meat and potatoes and details with sparse stories of encouragement. I know that FPU gives you a workbook to complete which follows this book, but that was something I felt I didn't need much for us to cement the concepts. I did look over the workbook my friend completed and the rest of the materials which were a chart to keep track of your debt and an envelope system. We already have encouraging verses hanging up, a space that prominently lists our current debts to keep track of and our envelopes that my younger daughter and I put together firmly in place. We used regular size 10 envelopes but we decorated them fancy with left over scrapbook paper we had, and then stenciled on them either names of the family members or the category (i.e.: groceries, family spending money, holiday/gift money). And we have our budget going well and budget sheets I made custome for our debts (which I just redid a bit) and then our thermometers to color in as a debt is paid off. So we felt that for us reading the Complete Guide to Money was really the piece of the FPU puzzle that we didn't want to miss right now. I enjoyed the book so much that I asked Bry if maybe after he completes some testing he is doing for a promotion at work (which requires lots of reading and studying) that maybe when that's all said and done he may want to dive into the book because it's nice and to the point which he would enjoy.
I also purchased the TMMO audio book so that I could listen to that anytime I don't have any podcasts going or if I just need some Dave inspiration.

I do have Chris Hogan's Retire Inspired on the way. I had sent that to my Mom as a gift for her birthday (she didn't read it yet) and I really would like to read it and maybe the two of us can chit chat about it.

I did realize a few tweaks we needed to make:
List out all budget categories on the bi-weekly budget... Before I didn't include yearly bills like the sewer bill of $229 or the SAMs $45 or Amazon Prime membership fees $99 or Bry's uniform cleaning which is about $5.50 to $8 per week, or the Master HOA of $93 per quarter or the quarterly trash bill of $43.43... so then I was having to cover that from money we may have wanted to put towards another bill or spending category. So I went back in and updated the budget sheets I like to use to write out for each pay period.

Another thing I realized is that we didn't start by paying the smallest debt first... That is our Best Buy with a current balance of $168.52 so this paycheck we are going to pay that all off and then be moving along in the "proper" order, so to speak.

~Blessings to you and yours~

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Slow snowball, Holiday budget, control

So we got the discover paid off. But the Amex min payment went up.... so instead of being able to devote $200 from the discover to pay off the citi bill quicker, we had to move $200 over to pay toward the Amex. I think there was some sort of grace period going that I didn't realize. So I'm glad I paid attention to the increase of payment or we could have been up a creek.
I have guesstimated that we will have the citi balance paid off by 11/11/16 unless we have to slow a bit for medical bills for some reason.
Man I am feeling so anxious and fired up to get this citi card out of lives and off the sign hanging on my fridge.... you just have no idea!

I wanted to try to put $250 away toward Halloween, Christmas and Birthdays, per month but it slowed the citi snowball far too much. So I've made it more conservative and we are trying to put about $50 to $75 per month aside instead. Christmas won't be a glorious gift adventure this year that's for sure.... especially as that AMEX bill still contains Christmas and Birthday gifts we purchased for at least the last 3 years.... Ugh that's a sobering thought isn't it?

I'm happy to report that my spending habits have changed. I am reformed. I can only say a huge thanks to God for changing my heart about spending and our budget. I have kept a written budget for many years... however I never ever stayed within it. I would use my debit card to spend and just replace the money from the next check that I spent prior, but that kept us from getting out of debt and clearly my spending was out of control to do that because if I was an employee running a business so badly I would have fired me for sure. And the funny thing is.... I would never run anyone's money the way I was running ours.... um hello.... can you say duh?!

When the cash in our envelopes is gone.... it's just gone... and then no more spending.... that's it. I am not even a lil tempted to cheat at this. We have been putting gold stars on the calendar each day we stay in budget. I think Bry is super proud of me.... the feeling of being able to be trusted and know I won't slip up... that feels great to me for sure!

I also canceled my SAMs credit card. That felt good. The man asked "Do you mind my asking why you are cancelling your card?" I replied "Honestly... I want to be debt free and not use credit cards anymore for anything." His response "Well we are sorry to lose your business but that's an admirable goal"
Thank you sir.... I think so too! Yay!

Oh I can't recall if I wrote about this.... my parents are now living on a budget. They are in their mid 60's and this is their first time on a budget... we talked about cash and how you feel spending it. I think my Mom was hesitant at first until we began going through their credit card statements. We spent an entire weekend on video calls getting a workable budget for them to use - spending money for her and my Dad, envelopes for groceries and gas. I felt really excited that my Mom was so open with me and let me into their finances in this way. This past week they used their grocery cash in their grocery envelope for the first time to buy groceries and this is the first time they felt it (having used credit cards for this prior). And I could totally hear the pride in my Mom's voice that she used cash and that she walked out with money - cold hard cash in her pocket and that she scored 6 bags of groceries at Aldi's for like $26! Way to go Mom and Dad! I am so so proud of you guys!

C'mon let's all be debt free!

~Have a blessed evening~

Dental work for two down...

We switched over to a new dentist, great doctor and great staff all around.
So far, myself and 3 of the 4 kids have some work needing to be done. We had the work done for two of the kids so far. And made the appointment for our younger daughter at the end of July.
Our middle daughter has her check up in two weeks and we will see if she has anything needing done. And if not... I'll be next in line to get the work done that I needed to put off just for now while we make sure the kids are all taken care of first in line.
Of course I have to stay in budget. Our flexible savings account doesn't have too much more in it so we need to dig into our pockets pretty soon. Fingers crossed and prayers that our older daughter doesn't need anything at all, and if she does...nothing too pricey. We do have dental insurance put need to cover the out of pocket and deductible portion.

I received an emergency room bill from the ER physicans trying to get me to pay the full balance of $1275, on the bill it never even indicated it was sent to my insurance company. I have been watching my insurance claims carefully and my insurance company explanation of benefits says my out of pocket is $213, not $1275. I have sent the billing office the EOB three times now so hopefully they will get that updated soon. If not I have to keep on top of it. We simply don't have $1275 to devote to this bill right now, and especially a bill that has been paid and processed by my insurance company as per their contract with the ER doctors, far differently.

Today we went to have some dental work done for my son. I ran out to the car to grab The Total Money Make Over. Yes, I've read it but I like re-reading it. :-) And as I walk into the office the Dentist asks me "Who was that financial guy your husband was talking about yesterday" (We were there the day before for cleanings and a baby tooth extraction on one of the kids.) I wasn't in when they had their conversation but I held up the book and asked "was it Dave Ramsey?" He said" yes yes that was him." He asked if he could take a pic of the cover to send to a friend who is deeply in credit card debt, I said oh sure thing. He asked me later how we found Dave so I told him a bit of our history with Dave and about the amount of our current debt and how we had kicked Discover to the curb so far, and the dental assistant asked the name of the book so she could tell her husband who loves reading books about finances.

I sat there thinking... Lord this is super cool... at the ER there was Dave Ramsey talk..... at the dentist there was Dave Ramsey talk.... No one likes debt... don't we all want to be debt free? Man I do! I sooooo do!

~Have a blessed day~

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Meals revisited

So we have been doing the Emeals trial. It's going well enough except for a few things.......

1. The kids are kinda picky so it's pretty much a sure thing that someone won't like the Emeal dinner of the day. Tonight we had mushroom meatball soup which I admit I wasn't a fan of myself and neither were two of the kids. And spinach salad with peaches on the side. My older daughter had a hummus quesadilla (she hates cheese) so I made her that. My son tasted each item and was not a fan so he grabbed some yogurt instead. My husband liked it... but honestly he will eat pretty much everything I make, haha so there is that.

2. Some of the meals this week have had a lot of prep time involved. And to be honest this is just a lazy thing in me where I am not into the amount of prep at this time. I did look at the 30 min meals to see if they would work better but didn't see any offered on the current menu that would work better than the low carb choices. I did add in one kids meal of sloppy joes to try this week.
There really wasn't a great choice coming up for July 4th. So I opted to make homemade potato salad and grill up some hot dogs. And I'm going to make one of the coleslaw recipes on the E-meals plan that I printed out.

3. Bry wondered if the price maybe isn't great to take on while we are getting out of debt, which I think he does have a point about. And the fact that I have to end up offering something that one or more of the kids will eat on top of the meal... well that's kinda a downer and adds more cook time for me and we have to weigh the cost of that into the mix.

4. Some of the items for the meals I can't find at my local grocery store and then I end up having to make one or more trips to another store to find them.

5. Probably one of the biggest issues for me is that many of the meals involve the oven, and using the oven during the summer here is something I really need to avoid when it's over 100 degrees everyday.  It would be nice if they had a meal plan that didn't rely on oven use for those of us who prefer grilling or even stove top meals.

We talked it over with the kids tonight and discussed just having simple meals and a weekly meal schedule instead of the E-meals and using any extra grocery budget money for our debt snowball instead. And keeping snacks simple

Maybe something like this:

Breakfast options: Pancakes, Eggs, Yogurt and granola, cereal, Peanut butter toast, English muffins

Lunch options: Nachos, Lunch meat sandwiches (when the budget allows), Quesidallas, Loaded baked potatoes, Pasta Fazol, cheese and crackers with fruit on the side.

Sunday: Spagetti with garlic bread (I try to do low carb so I'm not sure if I would eat this - but one day a week probably won't be to bad).

Monday: Hot dogs and homemade potato salad

Tuesday: Tacos (I learned how to make flank steak from E-meals so I bet I could make some carne asada for tacos) with homemade guacomole.

Wednesday: Sloppy Joes, corn on the cob and potato salad

Thursday: Order in Pizza

Friday: BLT's and fresh fruit
Saturday: Breakfast for dinner

Our older daughter isn't much of a fan of eating the same kind of meal each week... but at the same time... she is really picky so pleasing her is hard but not impossible. She does like all the meals on this list minus anything with cheese or eggs, so it is doable.

I really tend to get hung up on side dishes. I will admit that the Emeals is giving good side dish choices, the green beans with brown butter and almonds I liked a lot.
I am not sure what's going to happen but I know I need a set strict list to follow. I like that about Emeals, the detailed list to stick with.

So I guess we shall see how the next week goes and go from there.

~Have a blessed night~

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Grocery budget savings - Emeals

I don't know about you but one of my least favorite things has become meal planning. I lack inspiration to put a full meal together and at times when I meal plan it ends up with meals I end up not making, wasting of food or a freezer full of chicken breasts and not much to go with it as far as sides and so one more night of grilled bbq chicken anyone?

I had heard Dave Ramsey talk about Emeals. I sort of let it go in one ear and out the other as I didn't think I would pay for anyone to plan my meals ... but today as I sat down to meal plan and literally didn't get past writing out the days of the week of on a sheet of paper..... I decided to investigate Emeals and give it a go.  This isn't a plug for Emeals and I'm not getting any type of compensation for talking about it, but I know others have to be struggling with meal planning so thought it worth a mention just in case someone found themselves sitting like me staring at a page of paper trying to find some inspiration for meals.

I signed up for the free trial today, which gives me 14 days of free access and then I will be charged $30 for 3 months (there are other plans and also promo codes to lower the price). I also downloaded the app which gives a bit of a neat spin as you can pick and choose the meals you want to make from the meal plans which can be nice if you have foods you or one of your kids simply won't eat at all.
I haven't found that aspect on the desk top version but maybe it's there and I just haven't seen it yet.
I don't see a way to print the recipes or meal plans from the app, again maybe I just haven't stumbled upon that as of yet. But I was able to print from the desk top version which suits the paper preference in me. I do like the way the app lets you use it as a shopping check list. Love that both the app and desk top version show you what foods you need from the store you choose (I picked Walmart as the food is cheaper and also offers me savings catcher discount which helps too).
For 7 days of meals for my family of 6 it has it at about $127 for one meal plan and $103 for the other week. Wow! To me that seemed really great. Not to mention left overs for lunches for the following days. I ended up making adjustments and leaving out the pork dishes from the app and choosing other dishes and it brought my total for 7 meals to $97.72 (though may be a tad more if I need some of the listed staples.) I may look at SAMs Club for the meat prices and some of the veggies since I can freeze the meat to use the following week.
The desk top lay out on this is pretty nice and simple. I love the shopping list broken down by grocery store aisle as well as a box to the right that has the necessary staples. It's nice and simple which is pleasing to the eye.

I looked at a few other meal planning companies. One of them had you important your own recipes. That seemed like a lot of work since what I'm lacking is meal idea inspiration. I know I could search online for them but right now.... I just really wanted something easy to help me make meals that taste good and don't require me to think about creating them or finding the recipes.

I went with the low carb plan. I may try others but I liked the offering of the recipes and the sides are nice and simple, nothing crazy. I am not a fan of crazy hard to make sides requiring a ton of time on my part.
Some examples of a couple of the meals are One pan roasted chicken and vegetables, Shredded Pork Tacos, Pineapple -Tomato Roasted Grouper, Greek Chicken Kabobs with Herb Yogurt Sauce.

I usually shop for two weeks at a time but I'm going to try shopping for one week this time to keep fresh ingredients fresh and go from there. I will also still hit SAMs for our snacks, milk, yogurt, and fruit.

I'm really hoping this will make our budget stretch longer and also make meal time less of a drag since it's been a real challenge for me lately.
I do wish that there was more nutrition info on the recipes verses just net carbs... and for someone on a strict diet who needs to know more information... I could see this presenting a problem.

~Have a blessed day~

Monday, June 20, 2016

Citi snowball

So Discover is all done. Yay! 
The final payment cleared and we cancelled my account. They asked if they could make me any special offers to keep me as a customer. I thanked them for the offer but said no thank you, please close my account effective immediately. 

The debt snowball is taking money you were paying on a prior debt which you paid off and moving that payment amount to the next debt in line to be paid off. 

I put the citi payment snowball in the left side bar (view desk top version not the mobile version to see it). We are able to move the amount we had used to pay off Discover which was $1052 per month. To that, we are also able to add in 49.08 per month we freed up from replacing life insurance which was a whole life policy that had a term rider attached to it. We replaced this with a 30 year term policy that includes living benefits. And we also are adding in an extra $40 per pay period (taking $20 from the grocery budget and $20 from the family spending money) .

I may be working extra in July for a couple days and if I do that we will speed this up faster. Here's hoping! 
God willing we will knock this one out fast and keep the momentum going strong! 

I was listening to Dave Ramsey the other day (I listen to his podcast daily as well as Chris Brown and soon Chris Hogan), to keep me motivated to get this debt out of here. He asks people that are doing their debt free scream what changed for them to make them want to do this.... I was thinking about it.... why do I want to do this? I think it's for a few reasons.... I'm sick and tired of sending out so much of Bry's hard earned money to pay credit card bills and I'm mad about it mad that we spent foolishly in the past.... and I want Bry to be able to rest easy and know that I totally changed the way I spend and view money...... and I want to change our family tree so our kids will not live in debt like we have and so they will be so money smart that it will just be amazing! And I want to give give give and be able to do that knowing that it's not taking money from our food money to be able to help others. That will be amazing! 

~Have a blessed day~ 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Bye bye discover card

Today we did it! We paid off the Discover in full baby! Whoo Hoo. I know it's not a huge amount in the grand scheme of our debt pay off plan... but it really speeds up our payment plan quite a bit.

We cancelled the whole life on myself and received $6753.00 from that. We used $4733.60 to pay off the entire balance on the Discover card. We put $1000 into our baby step 1 emergency fund. So the balance on that is $2000 now. And we also set aside $1000 to put toward orthodontist work for one of our kids.

And now it's gazelle focus on our Citi bank card and the balance on that one is $5,164.00

I'm projecting the payments on this to have us paying it off hopefully by 10/14/16.

Wish us luck!

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Feeling Gazelle intense ....

Today was kinda a not so great budget day. You know one of those days when you sit to do your budget and it's not all fleshing out the way you had hoped it would. A few reasons for this were some expenses that popped up that were not originally accounted for in the initial budget... and then you have to take the money from other categories to cover them.... And so this chopped our usual grocery budget down a bit and also our spending money as well, as those are really the only fluid categories we have at this point. Man I can't wait until we get that changed.... We need sinking funds for other areas of our lives...and clothes categories and spending categories and so on.

I had planned on having my hair done ($90 with tip) but since I didn't have all the cash I needed saved up I would have had to take that from another place and didn't feel comfortable doing that. So I opted to cancel my appointment and hold off. Our 12 year old wanted to go by some shirts - she doensn't need them just wanted them. And it's just not in the budget right now... so we are going to go through her closet and see what she has. She may have forgotten what she has in there and find some hidden treasures she's been overlooking. Christmas is also going to have to be really intentional and really trim this year as well. Going to have to foster a feeling of abundance without a lot under the tree this year. Last year was IPads and this year... well let's say there are not going to be any IPads or amazing gifts.... but we know it's about Jesus and not about the stuff anyway. Just sometimes I know we parents feel some guilt is all.... But keep trying to remind ourselves that once we are debt free it will feel like nothing else for all of us in the house... and that is worth keeping committed to.

I've been thinking about looking for some more part time work... it's hard because there are a lot of times I can't work if Bry's not home and we are not comfortable leaving the kids for long stretches. Bry was seriously also considering some part time work.... For Bry he's got a lot of balls in the air right now with his testing for other areas of his job and it would be great for him to be able to stay focused on that stuff right now. So I don't really want him to go this route as it would mean he can't do the testing options for his current job for promotion, and if he does promote that would be a huge jump in pay and also a nice jump in retirement pay long term... so lots falls into decision making here.
We do feel like we have a decent size shovel with $1052 going toward paying off debt. But I guess sometimes you just want to see that needle move faster.

I also have to be honest and say that I feel that a good bit of this credit card debt falls squarely on me. And that makes me feel guilt.... I want to be a help to my husband not a burden and by digging us into debt I have been a burden....
I think my worst mistaken was doing a balance transfer of a USAA card I had to a 0 interest with discover.... but then charging up the USAA card again... (hangs head in shame) WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING!!! But yeah I did that.... With two cards actually which makes me feel twice as angry at me..... 0 interest for me is not a fix.... I hear people call into Dave's show asking about transferring balances  all the time and I think man.... I wish I hadn't of done it.... What a mess I've made.

The next payday is on June 24th. I like to do them in advance just to make sure I get the basics covered and then tweak as needed the day or two before the payday when we have our budget meeting... So that one had me lacking $101 to pay bills... I was kinda freaking out trying to figure out where to get that money from... So I ended up paying a few of the smaller bills (Nextflix and Hulu) from this paycheck instead and then altering the grocery budget and the family spending money next time to cover the difference. God willing I will be creative and do a great job with meals the next two weeks and have some stuff prepared and be able to do a smart grocery trip that pay period.

Good luck to all working Dave's Steps! May God bless!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tapping into the Emergency fund - van troubles

We had our Van at the Dodge dealership and after 5 days of them saying it started for them fine (which we can't believe because it continually was harder and harder for us to get our van to start) they sent us home saying their computer didn't show anything needed fixing. Alrighty then....I elevated it with customer care but we didn't feel confident with Dodge having hands on it again (and it is a dodge van) so we didn't give them another crack at it.

So here we were with a Van still giving us trouble starting until all of a sudden it wouldn't start at all. We had to have it towed and this time took it to a Hyundai dealership that we had had a good experience with on Bry's car (Hyundai). They had it about two weeks. They gave me a loaner the entire time for no charge and they really made sure they were not sending us home with an "oh well, too bad, nothing we can do for you" attitude. They replace the battery, fought the fight for us with the Dodge Dealership that had to flash the car, replaced the battery, which was killed because of wiring issues from - the culprit - the junction box, that stinker!

We had to take $577 (some of that was for an issue with Bry's car: $130.86) from our baby step one Emergency fund which was $1,036. On this van we had previously (before starting Dave) purchased the extended warranty. Without the warranty the bill for just my van would have been $1,471.78.... which wouldn't be an issue if we had a fully funded emergency fund or were at a point where we can do a car repair sinking fund... we are not there yet but we will be someday. And this is a great reminder for us of why we need to kick this debt out for good! And not get into debt again!

Bry had received a payment from AFLAC for an injury he received (for now until we have a fully funded emergency fund we are not canceling AFLAC because of the career Bry has). So that was a check for about $515. We used some of that to cover the replacement of the ER fund and then some of my work check. We were only able to pay $317 on the Discover bill this pay period instead of the
usual $526 that I've been trying to pay bi-weekly for Discover.

Next pay day is next week. And the hope is to pay $526 on Discover.

I may be working a few extra days at my job in July (right now it's 4 hours weekly that I work) over a 2 day period and our plan is to dump all of the payment toward the Discover bill.

As of today the discover balance is at $5,270.60

I think that's about all there is to update for now.
~Be blessed~

Friday, May 20, 2016

Met with a Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local provider

We met with a really nice gentlemen (free of charge) here in Nevada who is a Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider. It was nice to walk in and see Dave's baby steps, books, bible verses and inspirational quotes.

We had some questions about Bry's deferrered compensation plan and how to move that money around where it already is. He's going to get back with us on that after he does some research into the mutual funds offered to us.

In our situation he advised that with our daughter's transplant, keeping her whole life policy in effect was a great idea. And also us keeping the Aflac that we pay for.... until we have the 3 - 6 months savings that comes at step number 3 (which comes after paying off all debt except the mortgage).
Now Dave's usually not a fan of whole life or Aflac, but with the health issues we faced prior our advisor felt that they were prudent for our situation.

He advised that I cancel the whole life policy of $50,000 on myself which has a term rider attached to it of $ 250,000. Once I replace that with other coverage first... I am currently waiting to receive word on that so nothing gets cancelled yet. In total right now my life insurance is $600,000  through two companies in total $50,000 whole life with a $250,000 30 year term rider and also a $300,000 30 year term policy. Though I only work part time - the income wasn't the issue it's the loss of Bry's income as he would take some time off to be with the kids and use the money to pay off any remaining debt and the house so that things could be more comfortable for him and the kids.
When we can cancel the whole life on myself (any funds we get back) we will beef up our Emergency fund to $2,000 which our advisor felt was a good amount since there are 6 of us humans, 4 pets, 2 cars and a house. And use the rest on debt. (Bry had felt that $1,000 made him feel a bit
shaky hence the suggestion to increase).

My car is still in the shop so no word on cost for that.
I had to be taken to the Emergency room the other night which was the pits. They did a CT-Scan and determined I have some cysts on my ovaries. One had leaked a bit and that was causing me the pain. I was given pain mess in the hospital and then also sent him with some pain management and will be following up with an Ob/gyn who will put me on birth control pills to handle the cysts. Ugh not looking forward to being on the pill but it's the required fix so I will do so. Laying in bed recovering now, just taking it easy.

A side note to my ER visit, the PA that took care of me was also following Dave Ramsey... she and I were talking about it and the nurse got interested and started asking us questions as her boyfriend followed Dave. Was neat to run into someone following Dave as well and wanting out of debt.
~Have a blessed day~

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Somebody asked.....

Question: Why do you want to pay off all this consumer debt? 
Answer: Because we want freedom. I added it up and if we had no consumer debt to pay each month that would save us $1,607.49 each month... Holy smokes if that's not a kick in the pants to pay this off as soon as possible I don't know what is.  Because that is literally a mortgage payment and some change right there isn't it?!

Question: You realize you need to have a good credit score right? 
Answer: From what I read..that seems to be inaccurate. Funny enough I was looking at my discover card FICO score monitoring they do for you just this week, and even they said: "Your credit score indicates to lenders that you're a good borrower." This seems like a backhanded compliment if I ever heard one. Can you imagine if someone said something comparable to you in person? I wouldn't take it as a compliment at all. Maybe we are so brainwashed in America because it seems like borrowing is just what you do. Read a little bit more here.

Question: Why would you want to pay off your mortgage? Don't you want the tax deduction?
Answer: When I entered an extra payment toward the principal of $1000.00 per month into the mortgage amortization schedule my mortgage holder offers we could be able to pay off our loan in 12 years instead of 30 years saving us $116,975.29. That amount is a ton more money than the small tax break we get. Read or listen to an explanation of this here.

Question: So are you telling me you will never take out another car loan? 
Answer: Yes that's the plan... to never take out another car loan... to drive the cars we have until we can't drive them anymore. The reason being... the sheer volume of depreciation on a car is just crazy and really is like throwing money out the window. New cars lose 70% of their value in the first four years. Yikes! I'm still paying a car loan on a car that isn't worth what I'm paying. But it will be paid off soon so I'm going to push on through to the other side of debt freedom. 
Here's a great read on the new car purchase. So yeah Bry and I already have a plan that we will put money away for a "new" used car once our debt is paid off for when the time comes. 

Thank you for these questions. 

~Have a blessed day~ 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Dave's Baby Steps

So we are on baby step 2 right now. Although we just had to take my car into the shop and Bry's is next. So we will be tapping into our emergency fund and have to replace whatever we spend then zooming back to Step 2.

May 15, 2016

So I decided to start this blog as an accountability tool to keep me motivated in our debt free journey.

How did we get here......
In 2009 we had committed to following Dave Ramsey to get out of debt... It's 2016 now... and as it's 2016 and I'm just starting this blog... you guessed it.... we didn't stick with it. If only we had... oh wow things would look different.
We made a lot of mistakes prior to 2009 and after.. We have had foreclosures... yes two of them... our primary home and a home that became a rental home of sorts....

Our first home purchase in Nevada was a condo that I loved it was about $110,000. But less than a year into it an officer next door home became available. This is offered to officers, teachers, firemen, at a 50% off discount for $100 down... but the home is typically in a less than desirable area of town and in need of a lot of work. We had several other police officer friends who had done it... enough to make us think it would be a good move because of the discount offered and the bonus when we could sell it three years later (you had to live there 3 years without owning anything else). So we sold our condo to get this "deal" of a house (which I'll call the blue house). When we walked away from our condo we had to pay to get out of it. That was a bad experience.

The blue house ended up being a pretty huge mistake if I'm being completely honest. I wanted to run away the first time I laid eyes on it... however, it was too late a contract was signed and we were stuck. And so there ya go..... Our older daughter got really sick in this blue house... she ended up needing to have a liver transplant (at 2) - she is 12 years post transplant and doing wonderfully. As you can imagine there were hordes of medical bills and hordes of crazy emotional stuff when you go from a totally healthy kid to a kid that 6 weeks later needed a liver transplant. During this time our insurance benefits exhausted and we lost her insurance coverage. All told a liver transplant alone with after care expenses was about a half a million dollars, not to mention adding in the cost of hospital re-admission, blood draws, home nurses, rejection treatment and the cost to live in CA for 70 days (some of that with a friend but most of it in a hotel).
So just financially things were rough. But after time we bounced back and had a new kind of normal. The insurance plan for the police department my husband works was amazing to us, they also got her benefits back again and changed the transplant after care benefits for the entire department, it was a Christmas miracle.

We were living there with an affordable mortgage like less than $800 a month. But we took out a HELOC.. Yes I know what you are thinking... dumb diddly dumb dumb dumb. But yes we did it.. It gets worse because the cars we paid off with that HELOC we didn't even hang on to down the line and the debt we paid off was accumulated again.

We had saved up some money to put down on a manufactured home we wanted to have "built" in a small town outside of the city and had already started making payments of $100 a month to the land owner until we got the construction loan to roll the land costs into. The land was $99,000 I think for 2.5 acres and the house was about $230,000 or so.

My brother (who had been living with us since he moved to Nevada) agreed to rent the blue house for a while with roommates. Prior to him moving out to buy his own home we listed to sell it, but the market here had crashed hard. We were competing with forecloses all of a sudden and we couldn't sell it... couldn't short sale it either though we tried and it ended up in foreclosure. That was a pretty horrible emotional time. I was pregnant with our youngest child then and the lender was less than kind when they would call and threaten me daily. I get it now looking back, they wanted their money. But we tried like heck to exhaust all possible options before foreclosure happened. We tried renting it out but people didn't want to live in the area period. There ended up being a small paying class action law suit we took part in as our lender had blocked us from pursuing a short sale by "unethical practices".  We had a valid offer with money on hand in an escrow account but they wanted no part of it. After a lot of heart ache and work, that chapter eventually closed.

We had left the city to start living in a small town where we thought was our dream home and dream location.... Again other officers had relocated there from my husband's police department, so it seemed like a good idea. Houses in the city that we liked were already out of our budget, or so we thought, in retrospect we should have looked harder in the city. As I recount this I'm reminded what Dave says about who you take advice from and man we should have sought some more varied advice verses relying on the positive experiences of the friends who had already relocated out there. Some of our friends and realtor said this small town move would be great. My parents not so much. Should have listened to Mom and Dad.

Out in the small town, our mortgage eventually rose to about $2600 which was about the time when we started to have issues (it rose a bit from our original quote and the interest rate was like 7%). Concurrently Bry had taken a pay reduction because they had eliminated training officers (of which he was one, it was a loss of 8% of his pay). He was also having health issues from driving up and down the mountain (back and neck pain galore). We reached out to our mortgage company and they told us to there was no help unless we became delinquent. We didn't want to do that. We tried varying avenues to refinance but no one would touch a manufactured home. Initially both our lender and realtor told us that a manufactured home converted to real property would be the same as a stick built home. We found out that was not to be the case and were stuck with the loan as it was. (It was a 30 year mortgage 7 percent interest). We really loved our house and the beauty of the wide open space. And so we tried to hang in as long as we could.

Four years after living out there we decided to pack up and move back to the city...we prayed hard before doing so and God gave us a huge answer. 

Our realtor told us that she could list the home but no way it would sell for what we owed on it. We didn't consult another. Not sure why. We felt we could trust her. She listed the home and back to the city we went. Surprise surprise it didn't sell. Still a sea of foreclosures everywhere. It ended up selling for $78,000 at auction. That was a kick in the face, but it was what it was.

Our homes back in the city....
Rental 1: A 5 bedroom home for $1800 a month. Our family car tanked at this point. But a huge positive was finding a great church and a huge huge surge in our faith. And so we just hung in there a bit. My parents came for a visit and my Dad co-signed a car loan on a mini van for us. Which we have faithfully paid on and will pay off soon! Thanks Dad!
After a year we opted to move to a less pricey rental payment to be able to save money. 

Rental 2: Offered by our property management company by a retired CA police officer. He gave it to use for $1400 a month. It was 3,330 sq feet. Big house meant big heating and ac bills for sure. It was a lot to take care of. And we felt led to downsize and to save money. 

Rental 3: A house Bry found, was $1000 a month for 1,100 sq feet. Deal was made on a handshake and our landlord was great. She understood we were using this as a place to rent while we saved for our next home purchase and waited out the rest of the foreclosure timeline. We lived here 2 years.

Four years later we got with a new realtor who was a super nice guy. We found him through an advertisement with the police union. We got a special offer which had the realtor and lender chip in a certain amount of money for police officer home purchases.

The home we purchased is 2290 sq feet, 4 bedroom. It was $269,000 I believe and we did a 30 year FHA loan as we had less than 20 percent down, ugh (I know what you are thinking - I'm sure Dave would give us a shake). 
Our payment with insurance and taxes and PMI is $1741.00 a month. We love our house, our neighborhood and neighbors and we feel a huge sense of emotional peace knowing that we don't have to make any more moves when leases expire and such. And I know for me this is a pride issue, but the rentals never felt like "home" probably because I know they were temporary. And it always felt like we were saving to move to the next house. 

So recently I was bitten again by the Dave Ramsey bug. We had known about Dave since 2009 but our following of him pretty much didn't go beyond a written zero based budget. I was always negative in the check book from over spending. Ya know how Dave says get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Well I got to this point. I think it was seriously some Godly intervention to be honest. Because really there can be no other explanation for me pulling the Total Money Make Over down off the shelf.

I started listening to Dave's podcasts on Itunes and was moved to tears by each Debt Free Scream. And man I felt motivated. I talked to my husband and said, okay I want to do this.... How do you feel about it? He always wanted to be debt free so he was more than game to jump in. And then we sat and started to get things in motion.
Now me, I need to see progress. I need to see that I'm making headway in tangible ways. I made a budget notebook with debt pay off thermometers for each debt, including the car loan. I made a wall of motivational stuff and also our debt hanging up there so I can see it and not forget in the dining room. 
And I am gazelle intense baby! I am committed to debt freedom! I was the anchor keeping us from being debt free before, but no more!

~May your day be blessed~