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Living a Frugal Life

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I know, two blogs in one day! It is amazing for me! Although my husband and I have debt, it isn't like we don't know how to live frugally. One of the things we have learned because of lack of funds is how to live on a budget.
When we were ready to have kids, I chose to stay at home even though this put us under financial strain. I know in my heart it was the right thing to do. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home for about 5 years.
I started back to work part-time and now have been working full-time for 4 years. Through all of this my husband has been self-employed. It has not been easy. I also started on my weight loss journey during this time. I learned quickly that brown rice and beans go a long way and are very nutritious and healthy. We have cut almost all red meat from out diet and finding the best deals on fruits and veggies has been a personal quest for me.
coming up with innovative and healthy recipes my family likes has been another goal of mine.
I often tell my hubby that I can pay more for groceries now or I can pay for his million dollar cath lab procedure ( heart attack) later. We choose to be proactive!
So, clipping coupons, never paying retail for anything and buying used instead of new has become a way of life for us.
One of my goals for 2010 was to find Financial Zen. I prayed about it and God put Dave Ramsey in front of me. Just as he put Flylady in front of me several years ago! It wasn't the first time I heard about Dave Ramsey that I jumped on board, nor the second. It took several chance meetings and circumstances before the light bulb finally went off. Now that is has, I am on board 100%.
My husband is also on board 100%, not like with my weight loss journey.
My husband has a serious emotional eating problem and although he recognizes that eating healthy is the best way, he still clings to his old habits. A lifetime of habits are hard to break. I know with my encouragement and support, he will eventually "get it". ( he gets it now, he is just dragging his feet).
What has this got to do with my finances? Well, everything, They are well tied together. The difference between the weight loss and the finances is that I am leading the way in the healthy eating front and really, my husband is the leader over the finances, although we are going at this as a team ( in both endeavors). I think in order to have marital harmony you need both partners engaged. But I digress.
So, although I am new to the Dave Ramsey system, I am not new to living a Frugal lifestyle. I look forward to all that this new adventure will teach me as I travel down this path to Financial Peace. Feel free to come along for the ride!
Keeping the Spark lit, Paige

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WORKINGSTIFF 11/22/2010 3:14PM

    Nothing is better than peace of mind.

Keep up the good work!



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TEENY_BIKINI 11/22/2010 3:10PM

    Beans and rice is a great idea and healthy too! I am big fan of living frugally. I just realized my stereo is over 15 years old - I am surprised it works. But it does.

Way to go, gorgeous.

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CAROLFAITHWALKR 11/6/2010 8:49PM

    "So, clipping coupons, never paying retail for anything and buying used instead of new has become a way of life for us." We have this and FlyLady in common. There's a reason it's called Financial PEACE University - it sounds like you are well on your way! Yes living within your budget and living within your calorie range are definitely tied together, aren't they?!


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WHOVIANPRINCESS 11/3/2010 1:25PM

    It is hard sometimes to get a grasp on how much money we tend to throw at things that we don't really need. I have been working on making a budget for myself, but I know I need some more work financially before I can quit work to return to school. I am excited to see the progress you make!

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GETDONE 11/3/2010 1:24PM

    I remember weighing less and eating beans and rice I need to eat then more emoticon

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LAURA2471 11/3/2010 12:39PM

    Right on!!! Being frugal is also environmental!!

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Baby Step #1 Accomplished

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Yay, so after all the great advice I received from my readers of In Search of Financial Peace blog, I went with Hubby's advice to put our extra money in an Emergency Savings plan. So Baby Step one is somewhat accomplished. My question to you is...
1. Do I just put it in a regular savings account? My hubby and I are concerned that if this money is too accessible we will blow throw it, as we have done this in the past. I would like to put it all in a credit union account that is not accessible online. This will mean we need to actually physically go to the branch when it is open to access the money.
Any thoughts or ideas?
2, We will be using a little extra of our money to get jump started on Baby Step #2 by paying down some small credit cards we have had for awhile. Then on to the bigger cards, auto loans, home equity, ect.
Thank you for your input, it is really appreciated!
Keep Sparking, Paige

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KESHA1975 11/4/2010 4:35PM

    I think you are thinking right....not accessible online...but you should be able to get it in the case of a "true" emergency. You need to define what those things are up front too! That will help you both. Write it down so that you are both accountable as to what defines an emergency. Dave will help you with that too! Way to go girl!!

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LOVENS84 11/4/2010 1:32PM

    I don't know about ING... but I do work at a credit union so you can always ask them about their CD rates, money market accounts, or even what other products they offer. Either way an account that earns the most interest with the least fees is the way to go!

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BRAVENEWGRL 11/4/2010 1:30PM

    Smarty Pig had a better rate then ING the last time I checked.........

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MIGHTYFINEWINE 11/4/2010 12:16PM

    A 4393th vote for ING savings! :)

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GERMANPICKLE 11/3/2010 3:14PM

  CONGRATS! Don't forget to celebrate with a nice walk, a rented movie, or whatever your thing is. Its a good idea to make a list of frugal activities that you can do together to help you get through what is in front of you.

I'm also voting for the ING savings. My husband and I do the same thing.

regarding payment: honor the snowball. you'll shock yourself with speed. Good luck!

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LILY_SPARK 11/3/2010 2:13PM

    I have very little money, make even littler money but if I had debts, I'd pay them off--as many as I could.



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CARLA-216 11/3/2010 1:53PM

    Another consideration, if you want access to your money to be even more limited, is put it in a CD. That way it IS accessible if you need to get it. True, you are penalized by losing some interest if you take the money out, but you don't lose any of the principal.

By the way, I've heard good things about ING.

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ISHIIGIRL 11/3/2010 1:40PM

    I am loving this ING idea. I will have to bring it up with the hubs and do some research. You guys rock! Thanks a bunch!

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PSFITMOMMY413 11/3/2010 1:24PM

    I second the ING account...DH and I have a few ING accounts that we automatically put money in and the interest rates are much higher than a typical savings. You can access the money easily, but not as easily as you would if it was in your regular bank account :)

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ANGIE_1230 11/3/2010 12:29PM

    I also have an ING savings account that is set up to receive automatic deposits out of every paycheck. I never see the money so I'm never tempted to touch it. When I remember to check on it, I'm always amazed at how the money has grown.

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LLGALLAGHER 11/3/2010 12:22PM

    I opened an ING savings account in addition to our regular savings account. I regularly put money in that account with an automatic payment... so I never "see" the money. And having it in a separate account makes it out of sight, out of mind... and the account has steadily grown, since we aren't taking anything out of it!

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In Search of Financial Peace

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I have been maintaining my 70 lb weight loss for over a year now. I have been able to maintain around 145-150 and although I would like to see it lower, it is just a number on a scale, and I am now working on building muscle and toning.
With that said, a few weeks ago I wrote a blog about finding financial Peace and one of my Yearly Goals for 2010 was finding Financial Zen in 2010. I haven't quite found Financial Zen, but I have found....Dave Ramsey! I think it is amazing that once you set your mind on something and you put it into words, things start falling into place.
Since I wrote out my blog on my finances, my husband and I have teamed up together to get our finances in orcder. Apparently ( according to Dave Ramsey). I am normal! But I want to be more than normal. I want to be downwright weird.
Over the last month I have been listening to Dave Ramsey's radio show almost every day. He has given me the tools I need to get this train going in the right direction. I am so grateful and blessed to have found this. Isn't it amazing that if you send up a prayer it is answered in the most unexpected ways? I had a friend lose her home last month. She mentioned she was going to try using Dave Ramsey's program and something clicked for me. As I started investigating I realized t his was the solution to my poor money management and asked my husband to take a look as well.
We are in the beginning stages of this process. We are still working out a budget and identifying our debt and spending habits.
We have always been frugal with our money, but we have been poor money managers. Already, I can feel a change in our attitude towards our money and our bills. It is very liberating.
I know if I continue down this road, I will eventually find Financial Peace. My next step is to get the book Total Money Makeover and have hubby and I read it so we are on the same page.
Dave's babystep program seems totally doable but right now we are so overwhelmed with info we don't really know where to start and are having a hard time focusing. Any advice from anyone who has started the program and has been successful with babysteps is greatly appreciated. We have a little money and I want to whittle away the debt but my husband wants to put it away for an emergency fund. Is it ok to do this? Right now we are paying down the little bills and putting the rest aside for an emergency fund. I am ok with this. What do you all think?
Spark people are the best! Thanks for reading and Keep Sparking!

Paige

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROLFAITHWALKR 11/29/2010 3:28AM

    What a great blog!

Carol here from the Dave Ramsey team. I have been (and still am) out on a SparkBreak due to visiting my sister in hospice. Sorry I did not get here sooner.

I can soooo relate to so many things you wrote. Being frugal but a poor money manager. "Feeling the change" after finding Dave, while you're still in the midst of it, but knowing already it's different, and liberating, which causes so much HOPE!

And being overwhelmed with info and not sure of where to start.

Dave has been a great blessing in my life, yes I was seeking, searching & praying when God answered my prayer with Dave, too. I had been advised by more than one credit counselor to declare bankruptcy. I didn't know much but I knew enough to know BK wasn't right. From age 18 - 41 I can't tell you HOW MANY TIMES I tried to budget; it NEVER worked. Every single time. Everyone said that's where to start; so I'd try again, it'd not work again, I'd give up again, then I'd try again.

I don't know what it is about Dave, he just has a GIFT. As much as I loved Larry Burkett and other similar people of high stature, they couldn't help me and Dave did. I tried so many times with so many orgs and people, GOOD orgs & people; I wanted to be helped, they wanted to help me, and it just didn't work. Enter Dave. Wow my life will never be the same. As you said, I immediately sensed something had changed and it was different this time. I got out of debt and have lived debtfree ever since, even during 2 years of unemployment (with no spouse for other income, and, no other source of income), all thanks to Dave. I'd be living at the Rescue Mission right now if it weren't for Dave.

How I got debt free is by going to FPU, that's Financial Peace University for others reading (I see you already know about FPU). Just follow the baby steps, in the order written, and you will change your life FOREVER. You will, LITERALLY, "change your family tree", and future generations will not have to struggle and be enslaved to debt like you and I were. There is a REASON it's called Financial PEACE University, and it's true: I've had SO MUCH PEACE since then, even during thick and thin and 2 years unemploy.

DAVE ROCKS, and for me, FPU is the ticket to freedom. I don't listen to other financial advisors, and there are many, unless their advice coincides with Dave's. I am so happy for you - you are on your way!!!!

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CARLA-216 11/3/2010 1:47PM

    Looks like you've got lots of good advice already. I don't have anything to add except a HUGE emoticon for taking the steps toward financial peace!

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DAWNO64 11/2/2010 5:59PM

    I need to follow these rules, too! Right now my inner child has run amok with my money.

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LADYFOLDER 11/2/2010 5:46PM

    Great goal, Paige!
You might also try signing up for newsletters from the Hillbilly Housewife and from the Everyday Cheapskate.
I'll send you one of each
Marie

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LOVENS84 11/2/2010 5:36PM

    I agree with everyone! We are slowly paying off debt too and getting it under control. It's crazy how fast it can get out of control. But I have always believed in having a savings. We save enough to have money for the deductible on each vehicle and our home should we have to claim something and pay that. And then we keep extra to have in case we have to buy plane tickets, tires, medical etc. We've been great about keeping the savings above $1,000.00 but I'm more comfortable leaving it at $2,000.00. Then I know we'd be covered.

I am actually paying off the high interest credit card I have before my student loans. It's not much but having the unsecured debt out there can hurt your credit and it just takes forever to pay it off. Once that's done I will take what I was paying on that and put that towards my small personal loan (4 % interest) Then combine those towards student loans (5%) etc... you get the idea. It's important to do what works for you and creates the least amount of stress. Good luck! I know you can do it- look what you've done with your weight management! GREAT JOB!!!

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GERMANPICKLE 11/2/2010 2:34PM

  Dave Ramsey truly changed my life. Way to go you for following through - it will be amazing, both the journey and the destination!

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SMOCKON 11/2/2010 2:12PM

    You might look at this snowball calculator, which lets you play around with your debt to see the effects of paying down particular accounts. I used the free version a long time ago to help me get out of debt.

http://www.flatbow.com
/Snowball.html

I think the key is to set a course and then be consistent. I agree with having an emergency fund.



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NEORN75 11/2/2010 2:00PM

    If you go to his website they have a listing of classes in your area. I have a lot of friends that have done Financial Peace University and loved it! The 1st class is usually free and then you can sign up which includes all of your materials. We are planning on signing up for one after the holidays...

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KESHA1975 11/2/2010 1:30PM

    I think you are doing something amazing that you will never reqret!! I agree with Mightyfinewine!! Do the steps in the order you are suppose to! They are in that order for a reason. The emergency fund is first, then the debt! This is really important! Good luck! I hope you have financial peace!

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JORDANA84 11/2/2010 1:15PM

    My mom actually gave me a Dave Ramsey book a few weeks ago, I have yet to read it but I'm going to. I hope you find financial freedom!

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FABAT402009 11/2/2010 12:29PM

    I just put Dave's teachings to the test.

I had a 1500 emergency fund in place, got a huge car bill and 1508.00 later, my car is fixed and I didn't have to worry about where to get the money from.

The rest of the year will be spent putting the BEF back to 1,000.00 but this time last year a 1500 car bill would have devastated me.

Comment edited on: 11/2/2010 12:30:37 PM

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BAILEYS7OF9 11/2/2010 12:25PM

    I took a class called Debt Free and Prosperous Living. It was $50 and they gave you the tools to use to determine what to pay off first and how many months till you are out of debt. Very cool.

They said to not save while you have debt as interest on debt is so much higher than savings. I personally, would like to have some savings.

The biggest mistake people make is paying a little extra on all the bills. Say 3 credit cards. The first thing you should put the extra on is car loans or student loans. When one is paid, all that money you were paying on that loan, gets added to the next loan, which will be paid off in no time w/ the additional added to it. Then go for the credit cards, one at a time. Home loan is the last to pay off.

Remember life has snags, just readjust your little spreadsheet and go with it.

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MIGHTYFINEWINE 11/2/2010 12:15PM

    Start with the baby steps, in order: http://www.daveramsey.com/new/baby-
steps/

First up is $1,000 to an emergency fund. The money you have in savings, if you have less than a $1000, save up til you hit $1000. If you have more than a $1,000 reserve that much for an emergency and any extra money beyond that goes directly to paying off debt.

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Weekend Roundup~Pumpkin Patch, Neighborhood Cleanup and Snow!

Monday, October 25, 2010

This weekend started off with a bang! I left work and headed straight home to grab the girls and head to the pumpkin patch by our home. I had invited my sistser as this is an annual event (tradition) for our family. Rain had been predicted for the day. I was a little worried as we headed out that we would get the worst of it. As it turned out it was a balmy 65 degrees and the rain held off until later that night!
We have a great time at this particular pumpkin patch. It is close to home and they offer a variety of activities for a fair deal. First we hit the corn maze. It is a hoot with little halloween riddles placed throughout the maze. We enjoy following the path and getting thoroughtly lost. We we emerged from the corn, we are greeted by a barnyard of animals. Goats, bunnies, and a variety of fowl greet us in their cages. They are fun to look at! Next, the kids get a chance to run through a mini obstacle course on their way to the playgroud, the huge Pumpkin Slide, and the light alley ( think nonscary spook alley, very cute and with light displays to enjoy). As we leave the light alley we are greeted by the pumpkins ready for picking out and taking home. After spending several minutes picking just the perfect pumpkins I spy a deal on some fresh tomatoes. The last of the harvest and the gardens "seconds" for $3 a 1/2 bushell. The "seconds" are just not washed. I pick through them and determine it is well worth the $3. We can make salsa galour and have fresh tomaotes. My garden was planted a little late and I didn't really get much from it this year so I am thrilled with the "deal".
After finishing up at the Pumpkin patch we headed home for a quiet evening.
Saturday we had neighborhood cleanup. I love my neighborhood for this very reason. Everyone pitches in and does all the necessary yardwork that hasn't been done all summer or that needs attending before the fall weather gets too bad. All the men gather with the trucks and shovels and go from home to home and dig up old stumps, cut down trees or do some pruning and help get the junk out of the garage or basement. We usually get two industrial dumpsters from the city and have them filled within a few hours. We were able to get rid of some clutter and all the trash trees in our yard within an hour! It was fun to see all the neighbors helping each other out and cleaning up our neighborhood at the same time.
The rest of Saturday was filled with running errands and getting all the last minute items for Halloween costumes. Then the rain started to come down! I was so happy we had actually gotten everything done!
Sunday arrived way to early, as always. We made it to church, visited DH's mother, and made it home. For some reason Sunday is not always a day of rest for us. We started on a few projects which should have been short and sweet but ended up taking most of the day. I was in the middle of helping my daughter with a homework project when we noticed water all over the basement floor! and all of our pictures were sitting in a cardboard box in a few inches of water, YIKES!
We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to salvage the pictures which were all glued together. Thanks to my husbands expertise we were able to save almost all of the prints but our house had pictures laid out drying for hours. So off to find a quick dinner and early bed!
This morning I awoke to snow in the forecast! What happened to fall?
I did feel a sense of accomlishment,though. We did quite a bit of needed work around the house. It feels good to be on the right path even if the rest time was minimal. Maybe next weekend I will get a chance for some R&R! But what am I saying? Next weekend is Halloween!! Oh well, some day I will look back at all this and think those were the good 'ol days!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ANG76H 11/1/2010 9:59PM

  Sounds like you had a great weekend! Sorry about the pics, good you able to salvage them. Your neighborhood sounds awesome! Thanks for the goodie!

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CHOESCH 10/26/2010 11:11AM

    I wish I had gotten more done in my yard this past weekend. I am feeling the crunch to get my garden cleaned out and everything ready for winter. It kind of snuck up on us this year. I guess it is like everything we need to be more aware so we can be prepared. The Pumpkin Patch sounds great - so much family fun! I'm so glad that you have a good neighborhood that works together and takes care of each other - that is HUGE! Hope your week is productive, happy, and dry.
emoticon
Cathy

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If You Fail To Plan, Then You Plan To Fail! And How To Eat An Elephant

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This morning I got up like every morning and low and behold. I had gone to bed without laying out my workout clothes or deciding on my workout dvd beforehand. So, as it happens, things didn't go as planned. I didn't get up on time, I lay in bed a little longer than normal. When I did get up, I had to search for my clothes. Then I headed for the coffeepot, This I did do last night, so just had to turn it on,yay!
I went down stairs and planned on starting my exercise on the computer with a little sparkpeople Coach Nicole dvd. Nope! Computer decided to reek havoc with my routine! I ended up wasting a lot of time trying to get the internet up and finally gave up and went for the 30 Day Shred. It had been awhile so I hurriedly popped it in and did the first level. I was pleasantly surprised I flew through it! I have been trying to increase my ST time, so after the 25 mins I was done. I had run out of time as well. So if you fail to plan, then you most definitely plan to fail.
I have a lot of Sparkbuddie comment on how I always have a plan, and this is why.
If I don't plan, its doesn't happen, just doesn't! I do feel grateful that I did have an option and so although things didn't go the way I wanted them to go, I did get in some exercise.

On a different note, I have been basically maintaining my weigh between 146-150ish for the last year. I had decided it was time to get my finances in order. This has been on my mind a lot lately so first things first.

For years my husband and I had been lamenting the fact that we just didn't have enough. Not enough money to do all the things that needed to be done. Sometimes we just barely had enough to keep the roof over our heads and pay the bills ( and not always on time!)
Now we both have jobs. We are both smart people. I would say we were in the middle class, probably the lower half, but still. Probably make more than a lot of people and not so much we aren't continually humbled.
Anyway, I digress. We have both known couples with similar incomes who have done so much better than us financially. I just kept thinking we were missing something. We didn't go out to eat a lot, we didn't buy extravagant things. We could barely go on vacation and then it was something fairly inexpensive like camping. Well, we had missed something.
We had not figured out how to manage our money. How could we both be well educated and make an ok income and still not have anything to show for it? So for the last few months we have talked a lot about finding someone who could help us manage our money better.
It finally started clicking for me when a dear friend had her home foreclosed on. This friend comes from a very wealthy family and I thought her parents had taught her all the secrets that I had not learned, all the things Robert Kiyosaki talks about in his Rich Dad, Poor Dad books. But apparently she was a poor manager of her money as well. She said she was going to take a look at Dave Ramsey's program.
For years I have heard that name and had never really taken a look at his program. I mentioned it to my husband and we subscribed to his daily podcast/radio show. Just listening to a few minutes of his show has really shed some light on all of our financial wows.
I took a quick look at his website yesterday and he had a section outlined on there called Babysteps. After looking it over, it dawned on my. I had plenty of money to get my finances in order. Especially if someone with a similar income had gotten out of debt and paid off their home within two years! i had heard of the Latte Factor years ago and had been living a frugal lifestyle so that really wasn't the problem. I just needed to focus on one thing at a time and whittle away at this mountain of debt one piece at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. My mountain of debt had become the elephant in the room!
After deliberating with my husband on the best way to eat this elephant, I found some money in various spots. I had put extra money in our W4 in anticipation of paying taxes. This year we received a return, so that money isn't needed there. The next spot was my savings. Yes, I still think I needed savings, but I tend to dip into it every month so its really not a savings. Its just in another account. I found this money and it was in plain view the whole time! Next, I am going to apply it to my credit cards and all my little medical bills so I should be able to pay it all off by the end of the year! Yay!
This has been really hard for me to write and lay it all out there. It is embarrassing to have debt and not be able to pay your bills but it feels good to finally be on the right path. I can tell this time, just like with my weight loss, it will stick. No more unnecessary debt. I need to treat this like I did my weight loss process. With deliberation and determination. It is true once you get your weight under control, the rest of your life seems to fall into place. It takes hard work and dedication. Just like it takes hard work and dedication to lose the weight and to keep it off in the long run.
Good Luck to you,my spark friends in finding your path on this lifelong journey! Paige

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIVINGPRESENT 10/24/2010 3:42PM

    I love your positive attitude. emoticon I have these same struggles and I find that weight and money and time issues all stem from the same place. Now if I could just resolve the base issues I know it would all fall in place. Good luck on your journey. emoticon

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MOTIVATIONFOUND 10/24/2010 3:25PM

    I'm a total planner too. I set out my workout clothes and pick my DVD the night before as well. That way in the morning, I can be on auto-pilot for the first ten minutes or so. It helps me so much.

Thanks for mentioning Dave Ramsey - I'm going to check his stuff out. I don't have debt, but saving money every week and financial planning for our future is something that hasn't been going very well the past couple of years. We had twins in college, so that was a big part of it. They've graduated now and we only have our 17 year old that we need to worry about financially. I'd welcome some advice from an expert. Thanks for sharing.

Have a great week!

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CHOESCH 10/15/2010 6:26PM

    Thanks for sharing your experience - I know we can all do better when it comes to our finances. I also know that planning definitely makes a huge difference. I'm with you...if I don't plan ahead I totally fail! I'm going to check out that website and hopefully I can put some new things into practice as well. You are the BEST!
emoticon
Cathy

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46SHADOW 10/13/2010 5:39PM

    Well done. Your facing the elephant in the room and whittling it down. So proud of you!

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KGRIMES371 10/13/2010 3:42PM

    How encouraging. I am so glad you shared. I for one KNOW exactly what you are talking about. I think it is a great way to look at managing finances. Just like a diet. I am having success so far with the diet, I hope I can be successful with the finances as well.

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LAURA9021 10/13/2010 3:00PM

  You are exactly right, managing your money and your weight loss is very similar and you definitely need a plan when it comes to both!

emoticon emoticon

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