Cruise Control and Sack Lunch…

•September 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

So Tuesday we drove out of town for my son’s appointment. I didn’t spend any extra money and the gas is budgeted for.

When I’m driving longer distances (in the case 50 miles each way) Cruise Control is a must. Google around and you will find some very interesting studies on the use of Cruise Control. Keeping your car at a constant speed saves gas. If you have cruise, use it!

Today, Wednesday, I was reminded how much just thinking ahead can save money. We were                         going to be gone a good chunck of the day and I was able to pack lunch for my 2 small kids. This was great because they were able to eat when they were ready and it didn’t cost me anything except a few minutes of my morning. 

So, I’m doing okay. I haven’t caved yet on those under $5 purchases and hope to continue the small saving streak. Now, to increase our income, that takes a little more work…

It’s always the small purchases in the way.

•August 31, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I read something somewhere sometime that said you should really think hard about any purchase under $5. 

I try and take that to heart. Actually it is where we lose the most money as a family. A snack here, a gadget there, most of which we could do without. 

Today was no exception:

Win: Really wanted a juice when I dropped the kids at school (thanks pregnancy) but I skipped it. Water is better for you anyway.

Neutral: After dinner the kids wanted to go for a walk. One had a gift card to the local corner store so we decided to walk there and the kids could purchase a drink or snack with their own funds. The walk was free, the snack was not. Come to find out the gift card had $0 on it or was not properly activitated, still working this out. So $4.97 on snacks for the crew (since it seemed unfair to pay for one kid and not the rest). Was happy for a good family walk though, it was worth the $5!

That’s all for today, we will see how tomorrow goes when we drive out of town for a Dr. appointment.

Revival: 2015

•August 30, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a charismatic church but they have REVIVALS! They get people excited about starting new things or keeping the old things going.

This right here is a revival of different sorts.

We never did pay off our 100K in student loans that kicked off this blog.

Here in 2015 we now have 4 kids, are expecting in February and live in Central, IL. My husband is working full time (a job with travel) and I am freelancing and staying home with our kids.

I’m still a little shocked that we’ve ended up where we are with the kids and jobs we have but each decision has been made or accepted with thoughtfulness and joy.

So, I plan to post here daily. It probably won’t be a lot and won’t include any fancy pics or stats for the time being. This is here to keep me accountable. As we consider buying a home we want to continue to be frugal and wise with the finances we have.

I’ll just keep track of the wins and losses here. Hopefully big wins and only small losses. For us we are focusing on staying frugal and creating more income (freelance work for me, potential side jobs for my husband). We are also focusing on self control. It helps to say “NO” on this journey to pay off debt, so here is my record of that.

Today:

Win: Saved $1.06 by skipping grabbing a drink before church

Win: Went swimming at the community pool and supported our local food pantry. Entry was a donation to the food pantry. This ($10) was also less than the cost of our family entry to the pool would have been. Community means a lot to us so I was glad we could do this today.

Win: Saved $10.50 by skipping pizza on the way home. A local place was having a sale and I so waned to grab one on the way since we’d spent all afternoon at the pool. I came home and made breakfast for dinner instead while the kids showered up.

So today was a small win. We didn’t bring in any additional income but we did have self control in the normal day to day things.

You have to start somewhere! Welcome to Revival.

VROOM: Holiday Spending

•November 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Love it or hate it November – January is what we call “Holiday Season”.  From Thanksgiving to New Years and everything in between it is two months of eating, gifting and spending.

Did you read that…SPENDING!  It doesn’t matter how you twist it unless you are doing a white elephant of gifts from your house for everyone you will end up spending some money some where, it’s inevitable.

Since holidays are nothing new our  house has been planning for them all year.  Yes, all year!  After Christmas last year my husband and I sat down and reviewed.

-We both enjoy gift giving and are huge fans of giving thoughtful, meaningful gifts.

-We also don’t have a lot of time to go shopping together so we know that online shopping is something that we can do together and can be cost efficient.

-We don’t have a huge budget.

-We aren’t very good at DIY projects or homemade gifts.

With all those things in mind we came up with a plan of attack.  Buying gifts for free!

There are a lot of ways to earn points, earn rewards, earn discounts and earn gifts/gift cards.  If you look at your spending habits (those within your budget) and your online usage (search engines, blogs, etc.) you should be able to locate several of these opportunities for yourself.

For us it has panned out this way:

Chase Rewards: We have a debit card that allows us to earn rewards every time we use it.  This is great because we have set up bill pay using this debit card and points have acquired pretty quickly just because we pay our utilities and student loans via that card.  We have earned over 10,000 reward points.  What does that many points get us?   A lot of things but one of them is $100 gift card to Target.  We can get the gift card and either give it to someone or use it to purchase smaller gifts for people. (In full disclosure we did have to pay $25 to sign up for the program so our net is only $75.  The sign up was a one time thing and I still think that $75 is a good return for no extra time or effort on my part.)

SwagBucks: SwagBucks is a search engine that awards you points for searching.  You can then spend those points in the SwagStore to purchase various items and again, giftcards.  I have not been as diligent as using this as I could have been but between my husband and I we have acquired almost 4,000 points.  We plan to turn those into Amazon gift cards that we then use for buying gifts.

Change Jar: Everyone has a change jar right?  We have a blue piggy.  It was actually given as a flower arrangement when our son was born but it is glass and he is 3 so we have it in our room.  Every time we have change we put in in there (except for quarters:  those are used for laundry!).  So far this year I have turned in almost $150 worth of change which I then set aside for gift buying at this time of year.

Between our rewards and change we have over $350 that we can use to purchase gifts.  It has taken time and a small amount of effort but overall it has been worth it!

Take a look at your spending habits, debit cards, credit cards and web use.  Where can you acquire a few extra bucks for the 2011 holiday season?

GLUG: Retreat!

•November 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I mentioned a couple days ago that I had a chance to take a little personal retreat.  The first reaction of most people is WHY?  And HOW did you afford that?

Why: Because I needed it.  I am a full time mom to 2 kids, freelance writer, am employed part time and have a husband who travels 6 days a week.  Even when I am not “working” I am working.  There is a lot on my plate.

Even our quest to be frugal and pay down debt takes time and forethought.  Since that is a goal for our family we have sacrificed the luxury of vacations. My husband and I have not be away together without children since October 2008. We did go away last October but had a 10 week old baby that was along for the ride.  This means that in 2 years I have gone home for holidays with family and that is all.  (Note:  My husband travels for work and although that is not a vacation he does have some time to himself to recharge.)

Lesson:  In order to achieve our goals we have to have the ability to think through them. Sometimes to keep going on a project, in a job or just in life you need a time out.  Take a break to think through your current plan of action.  Make sure you aren’t just going through the motions but that your heart is really in it.

How:  FOR FREE!  (Of course!).  After my husband agreed to help me work out the details with our kids I put the word out.  I asked around.  I let people in my immediate circle know that I was looking for an inexpensive or FREE place to take some time away.  Within one day a friend from church emailed me with 3 trips she was taking before January and she offered her place as a retreat full with comfy bed, cable and quiet.

LESSON: ASK! We all have different things we are willing to share, lend or give.  Maybe it isn’t your home but your power tools, free babysitting or just your time.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  It really is one way that you can stay connected to your community.  It is also inspiring.  When someone gives to you – you will feel that much more inspired to give back.

All I can say is RETREAT! Both you and your goals will thank you!

November 1: It’s almost New Years

•November 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

40 to 45% of American adult make one or more resolutions each year.

The following shows how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:

– past the first week: 75%
– past 2 weeks: 71%
– after one month: 64%
– after 6 months: 46%

Via ProActive Change.com

I know it isn’t January 1st but November 1st will do just fine right?  All those stats just to say “sorry I haven’t been around for awhile”.  I am obviously in the 54% of people that have a hard time resolving to something, in my case, this blog.

No, I have not stopped trying to reduce our debt.

No, I have not done a good job of reducing our debt recently.

Yes, We did hit a rough patch – our car died.

Yes, I have been busy being a wife, mom, freelancer, volunteer and employee.

Nope – I’m not giving up!  I can not be taken down that easily!

One of the hardest things about reducing debt is staying on track.  Like many other things it SOUNDS like a good idea (and let me assure you it IS a good idea) but the follow through is always a little harder than you anticipated.

One of my son’s favorite books for months was Sputter, Sputter, Sput.  It’s about a car that runs out of gas, gets gas and keeps going.  “I put more gas into my car. Glug, Gurgle, Glug.  It makes my car go very far. Zoom, Vroom, Zoom”.

Sputter: August 19th – I began to lose my focus.  I made a mistake, it was costing me dearly and I lost my focus.

Sputter: September.  I had not yet fixed my problem from August.  I was still giving away much more time than I actually had.

Sput: Our car died.  Money coming out of the emergency fund, husband’s overtime slowing down, just general surrender.

*****

Glug: Getting a car.  This is happening this week.  With all the money accounted for and details taken care of.

Gurgle: Time.  I have backed out of several volunteer commitments and have my work time under control.  Not having a car helped me put a few things in perspective.

Glug: Retreat.  My husband took my kids for 2 days and I went away.  I had time to rest, collect my thoughts, and start new.

*****

Zoom: Today.  I’m not starting over I’m just moving ahead.

Vroom: The Plan:  Right now I am focused on rebuilding our savings from buying a car and making sure all our holiday purchases are made.

Zoom: January 2011.  Getting this show back on the road.  I’m still working on it but think maybe, just maybe 2011 will be the year where we do some big time conquering!

Come back soon as I outline GLUG and VROOM for you!

Some things in life ARE free!

•August 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Some things in life really are free.  As we have made the commitment to scale down our lives and live frugally so we can be debt free some good things have come our way.

I want to encourage you by sharing some of the free things that have happened upon our family in the last month and how they happened.

Maybe you will be inspired and encouraged to either give something away OR be creative about receiving something for free!

Item:  Train Table
Received From:  Church Message Board

We have a 3 yr old that is into trains.  That added to the fact that my husband works with trains we pretty much live, breath and sleep trains in this house.  A train table is not a “must have” in our book and although we had talked about purchasing one we decided it was not a good use of our money.  We have even often visited our local gelato store just to play with the train table for a precious 20 minutes.  This past month one of the moms on our church message board decided it was time to pass on their table and offered it for free.  We were blessed and able to pick it up and it arrived at our house yesterday.

In the midst of the pick up this very generous mom mentioned that they were gifted the table from another family and it was their joy to pay it forward.  If you are in a situation that something has been gifted to you that you no longer need or use consider paying it forward and gifting it to someone else.

*****

Item:  External Hard Drive
Received From: Facebook

I “like” a photography business on Facebook.  This past week the business started going through their items and downsizing.   Some of the items are outdated but still usable.  The business posted on Facebook that they had these items both for free and for sale and listed a way to contact them.  I did so and within a few hours they called me, offered me up a 150gb external hard-drive and will deliver it within the next week when they are in my area for business.

If you have outdated items of any kind that someone could still use consider posting them on freecycle, facebook or the free section of your local Craigslist.

*****

Item:  Fresh Vegetables
Received from: Next Door Neighbor

Our neighbors next door are in the process of decluttering and making space for a new dog.  Since we live in the city they also choose not to have a car. In the past week they have needed to make some trips to both drop off items for donation and pick up items for their new dog.  We mentioned that instead of trying to walk the items somewhere or use their bikes they were welcome to use our car.  Today when they came to get the keys they dropped off fresh cucumber and tomato from their garden!

If you have an item that someone could borrow consider lending it out for free.  You never know what you may receive in return!

So there are things in life that are free.  By being unselfish with the time and things that you already possess you are able to help others and in return may just gain a few new things of your own!

What is your favorite “free” item that you have given or received?  Tell us about it in the comments below!