Mission: Drop the debt

Recently I signed up for email courses with ChristianPF to help get finances buttoned up and in order so we can use the money we make to do the things we want and that we think are important.  I sat down and did an ‘accelerated’ version – basically read through about 12 of the lessons last night – because I don’t really have the time to sit down and look at a new lesson every day right now.

I have been pretty passionate about my finances since they became a thing.  To me financial freedom is living within my means at a rate that allows me to not worry when I have a $5,000 unexpected housing expense, that I am able to put money away for retirement and when A is older that I would be able to provider her with reasonable requests like horse camp or dance lessons.  I would also like to be able to work less.  There is something very important to me to have more control over my time and I feel like that can be achieved through financial freedom. 

It isn’t that I don’t want to work or that I am opposed to long hours – for the right job I would do it but until that happens to come around my time is better spent with my family.  So back to these lessons.  I recommend them.  They are varied so far in terms of what is being discussed.  Bob explains ways to decrease debt via things like avoiding late fees, decreasing spending, budgeting, and even offers ideas on how you can generate more income.  Some things like reducing dinning out, are no brainers – others are new concepts I am not really familiar with especially related to tips on decreasing cost of gas.  He also suggests looking at your net worth occasionally.  At first I thought the idea silly but he explains the value in it.  It can show you improvement in your financial situation in a meaningful way.  I may not be increasing what I have in the bank at the moment but I am increasing assets I can tap into by decreasing bills – just another motivator.

I also like that he doesn’t take an approach of credit card or electronic banking of any variety is ‘evil’ and that he has been there and is willing to share his personal story.  I have heard of other ‘programs’ like the envelope technique but struggle with that since I like to do a lot of shopping and bill paying online and via credit card for the rewards.  I am not only looking for a system/technique to get me out of debt but one that also fits my lifestyle and can adjust to my values – this one does just that and bonus it’s free! 

Tonight I am mapping out my snowball payment plan and I hope I will be able to say all of our credit cards are paid off in the fall.  I have tried this before but doing it on my own I lacked support and focus.  Here is hoping and since it is free of charge I guess I have nothing to loose!

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Water in my basement – progress 1

I wrote about all the water in my basement – or at this point maybe the basement in all the water – and after today’s hard work I thought a progress report was only appropriate.

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My brother and sister came over today while my mom watched baby toddler A.  We successfully moved the love seat, entertainment center, television, and numerous toys from the basement up into the main floor of the house.  Its cramped but it works nicely – for now.  It is already adding to my desire to move though!  In addition to getting all of that stuff relocated to other rooms in our house my brother and hubby brought a desk, display case with contents, and a large comic book/sports card collection over to my in-laws for safe keeping until we get the basement ‘fixed’.  We also moved our garage sale things out to the garage (good place for it anyway right?)

We moved all of the things (swing, bouncy seat, high chair, etc.) as well as some bigger fun toys (tent with tunnel, bouncing zebra) over to my parents house for A to play with when she is there until we have room in our house again.  She spends three days a week during the Summer at my mom’s for daycare so timing worked well.

A’s room has never had so much stuff or so much space – she can actually play with the toys in her own room!

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My office is a little crowded with the futon from our formal living room now occupying one wall but I kind of enjoy it being in my office.  Not sure it is great staging when it’s time to move but it works for now.

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I am painfully aware of how small my formal living room space is in its current state but I love the style.  I think we did an awesome job basically combining to living rooms into one – at least for the short term.

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Now that our basement is mostly empty (what remains will either stay down there on an interior wall or go out to the garage) we just need to get that dang carpet up.  We need to cut it into strips in order to get it out of the house and into the garbage but it doesn’t cut well.  Suggestions would be met with welcome arms!

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As big of a pain as this is proving can’t wait for the final product and the upgrades coming.  I am hoping to paint, fix or put in new baseboards, make a fun activity corner for A, get a large wall unit for great toy storage/organization, and add some great drying racks to the wall in the laundry space.

Now to shower off the ick from the day and go have dinner and take in a movie with the hubby.

Too much water meets my basement

One down fall to living in a state with 4 seasons ranging from cold and snow to warmth and sunshine?  Spring can do a huge number on your basement.  After all the snow melt, we got a week full of rain.  That brought some water into our basement but nothing we couldn’t deal with and replace the carpet eventually.  But Spring showers just keep coming so we have water in probably 80% of our basement now.  Yay for throwing out crap that is now water damaged but was too hard to toss without cause.

In addition to our basement issues our dishwasher has been broken for about a month now.  Sounds like time us to do some home improvement and DIY style house work.

The plan:

Kitchen

  • Remove broken dishwasher (bonus it is the only black appliance so replacing this will leave us with matching white kitchen appliances)
  • Install new dishwasher – first time DIY style and enlisting my Dad’s help because I need his tools
  • Paint kitchen – finally time to get rid of the awful red I have been living with for 3 years
  • Install back splash (this will likely require adjustment of electrical boxes to accommodate the new backsplash)
  • Replace all outlet and switch covers – an easy update

Basement

  • Paint – the blue down there reminds me of cotton candy
  • Rip up carpet and carpet tiles – DIY
  • Analysis of where water is coming from and quote for preventative measures – this already hurts my pocketbook
  • New carpet – this will be hired and include the stairs so all carpet in the basement will match!!! That’s a plus
  • Install new carpet tiles in the laundry area – another DIY
  • Organize craft space and set up activity corner for A – DIY pinterest style.  Finally a beautiful, functional, organized crafting space!!!

With these projects coming up I don’t know if we are going to be ready to move next year.  Our house might finally be exactly what we always wanted it to be … not to mention the cost involved!

Amazed

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It’s cliche at best but the time sure has flown by with my little girl.  It seems like I just blinked and she went from a baby who needed me for everything to an independent, book reading, opinion forming, demanding year and a half old girl.  All of a sudden I am no longer reporting her age in months – 19 month old doesn’t seem right – and she is responding to commands and even providing yes or no to questions like ‘A do you want water’ or ‘Do you want to go to Daddy’? 

I am amazed everyday by what I find her doing.  In this picture I like to say she was studying because that book is How to Babysit a Grandpa and she was just getting ready to head over to grandma and grandpa’s so mommy and daddy could have a date night.  She wakes up in the middle of the night with this cold asking for water, somehow knowing instinctively that a drink will help clear her throat.  After we change her diaper or wipe her nose she wants a wipe so she can do the same to her baby.  She even rocks her baby and soothingly says ‘shhh, baby’.  

I think she learns at least one new word or concept everyday.  The newest with this crud was ‘blow’.  Sure she doesn’t exactly blow her nose but when you tell her to she make the sound and effort.  I know she is still young, for those of you thinking ‘just wait’ please keep it to yourself.  I am perfectly well aware that my parenting journey has just started and there is so much more to come and I am becoming more and more painfully aware of how quickly it will be here.  On one hand there is no point in worrying about the future because I have years before she goes to school or starts driving, or moves out of the house.  But on the other hand I am going to blink and all of a sudden she is going to be a beautiful woman walking down the aisle and starting a family of her own, should that be in the cards for her.  

$40 Grocery Budget – Dairy Free

After telling a friend of mine about my grocery shopping adventures and keeping my budget to around $40 per week, she challenged me with a simple question; ‘Will this work for special diets too?’ 

I had to admit that I really wasn’t sure.  I am one of the lucky ones who only has to deal with a picky eater but no concerns about allergies, sensitivities, or other food struggles.  I thought I would try out a few different shopping trips keeping some sort of special diet in mind.  Today was dairy free shopping day.  It was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be since my family LOVES anything dairy.  The challenge will be to keep them away from the dairy already living in our home.  My daughter already drinks almond milk so we were prepared for the cost of that expense and we already had some bulk purchase left overs such as ground hamburger to help reduce the cost a little.  The menu looks like this:

Monday:

B – Peach, Banana, and Raspberry smoothie made with almond milk

L- Leftover Chili (no cheese or sour cream) from Sunday

D – Salad, burgers and sweet potato fries

Tuesday:

B- Smoothie

L – Leftover burgers or chili

D – Tacos

Wednesday:

B – Breakfast burritos

L – Leftover Tacos

D – Leftover chili or burgers

Thursday:

B – Breakfast burrito

L – Hot dog, peas, broccoli and fruit

D – Fish sticks, sweet potato fries, salad

Friday:

B: apple sauce and graham crackers

L: PB and J veggies and fruit

D: Broccoli, salad, chicken nuggets

Saturday:

B – veggie quiche

Snacks for the week are mostly veggies, fruit, popcorn and nuts.

After going through what I already had on hand my grocery list worked our to be 14 items from Aldi (including 2 half gallons of almond milk, ground hamburger, and hamburger patties) at $32.01 and 4 items at Target totaling $11.73.  My grand total was $43.74 so just a little over budget.  All in all I would say not bad since this was my first shopping adventure dairy free.  

Motherhood

It’s funny how a song can bring up such strong emotions at the drop of a hat.

This morning I was driving to Elk River for the Spring craft show and I was listening to my iPod for the long drive. A song came on that is about a dad ‘giving’ his daughter’s hand and it basically was a message to the new husband that the woman he was going to build a life with is still the little girl that he had an unexplainable and unconditional love for.  

I noticed that I was getting teary listening to the song flowing so easily and innocently from my speakers.  It stuck me that it wasn’t unusual for me to get emotional about songs like this even before I had my own little girl.  

It may be cliche but I was born to be a mom.  I always felt like that might be true without anything to ‘back up’ my claim.  Today it clicked.  

I have always had some understanding of the insane roller coaster that was motherhood.  I somehow always knew that each thing that would bring me joy in my child’s life would also come with a little bit of bitter sweetness.  The first time my daughter rolled over I was so proud of her but also dumbfounded that a natural process would elicit such pride and taken aback by the undertone of sadness by the growing independence of my little girl.

Intuitively I knew that the things that were most rewarding about being a mom would also likely involve some of the hardest ‘transitions’ in life.  Even at 18 months this has been evident.  I still beam with pride and feel guilt over the small hint of sadness under the surface when I think about the day she reached out for her daycare provider when I dropped her off.  While I couldn’t have been happier with her ability to securely bond with a non parent caregiver, I was hurt that she didn’t show any desire to stay with her mom.  I know that it’s a sign of a healthy, secure, and well adjusted child and I know that it is a huge vote of confidence from my daughter in regard to the daycare choice we made for her, but it is heart breaking to see her need me less and less. 

To say I was prepared for motherhood would be an absurd claim, but it would not be a stretch to say I took to this role in my life like a fish to water.  Nothing has ever felt more challenging, rewarding and natural in my life.