Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

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Please note our son LOVES to wear those shoes, as hard as they may be for us to put on him, and we were laughing at his outfit (or lack thereof) before we went out to play in puddles. That would be Daddy that took him out in public like this. Of course it was Mommy that took the video and posted it to the world wide web!


I mentioned some changes, and here they are...

Physically, (this is the least exciting one), I hurt my neck two days ago. My chiropractor and I agree it's due to the extra relaxin from the pregnancy. He told me to pull my shoulders back when I lift my 32 pound almost 2-year-old, oh, and not to pick him up at all for a day or so. So, I'm almost all better now, but it's a thing I have to remember, a change I'm making in my thinking to have good posture, lift with my legs, contract my stomach muscles (turns out this helps me push the baby out later) and pull those shoulders back when I lift.

House-keeping
wise, let me share. A while back I expressed an interest in doing two different things from the internet, one was a meal planning system recommended by Dave Ramsey called e-mealz. I seriously considered it, and thought we'd do it once I returned from TN and WV, etc., but decided we liked our normal meals just fine (even without the 'z' at the end) and can save money in other ways, like controlling ourselves (meaning me) when we go to the grocery store.

The other idea, however, I like. The FlyLady's e-mails are free and make me feel like I have a cleaning buddy (I'm just so darn social!). I went with the one e-mail a day option. I delete any back e-mails from her, and only read what I have time for. From the FlyLady's plan I've been inspired to shine my sink every night before bed (two weeks now!), declutter our counter top (even of the drying rack! One week and counting)....

...We pull the drying rack out when we need it and put it right back so the counter stays clutter-free...
...also she encourages we make our bed every day (I try), and yesterday the project of the day was to work on the entrance to your house. I wish I'd taken a before picture because our mudroom is so different now! I removed an entire shoe rack (we still had two from when we had three teens living with us), Spring cleaned the window sills (I had to look up how to spell that!) and floor and washed the rugs. It's perfectly lovely to come home now! She's also encouraged her readers to drink more water and exercise, but I'm only capable of so much. The laundry organizer thing is what we use to put our recycling in, in case you were wondering.

Finally, the big one. Our finances. I'm ready to get one of those tickers for my blog to count down our debt. I've shared previously that since our income was cut in half and I've been home, we've somehow managed to pay off all our debt besides school loans and our mortgage. Penny pinching has it's perks! We were such bad stewards before that. But we're more smarter now (cheesy grin) and can do better, even with half the income. Since I last wrote about our debt reduction we've managed to save up $4,000 in emergency savings and some for Z's college, some for vacation, up-coming baby and Christmas. Now, we're ready to get back to attacking that debt.

Here's our plan of action, some of which we've done before successfully, some not so much.
1. Review spending (I kept track on the YNAB software), then create a budget. I never used YNAB for budgeting b/c I didn't get it. It's just a wee bit over my head. Maybe someday I'll get it. I'm starting with paper because paper doesn't do anything fancy to the numbers when you're not looking.

2. Use envelope system for top areas of over spending (grocery and miscellaneous shopping needs). Oh, and coupons where possible. I'm coveting this money envelope/coupon organizer! I'm making myself do this with normal envelopes for a few months first, besides Christmas isn't that far away!

3. Buy groceries like they're commodities, buy lots when cheap, buying ahead, not just what I need today (hence the deep freezer purchase mentioned last post). Keep track of cheapest prices on items to help remind what's a good deal. Limit trips to the store (to reduce impulse buys). (We were going 2-3 times a week). I'm down to once a week now and my impulse buy yesterday was a 58 cent box of mac'n'cheese, my craving this week.

4. Cut out all extras including eating out. We already canceled our cable subscription (for more reasons than just money) and our XM Radio subscription. Also, I'm making all our gifts these days if at all possible. Oh, and if you see our TV on, the billing cycle doesn't end until the 23rd, so it's on until then (in case you're nosey like that).

5. I already reviewed our credit reports online and called to close any open creditors that we're able to close. We hid the one credit card we're keeping open (besides the gas one that's strictly for gas) so that we're not tempted to use it while out. If we haven't needed it for a year we'll close it.

6. We're putting our income tax returns (incentives and all) toward the debt once it arrives. We had to file late, but it'll get here.

I've used two books to help us get our plan in place:

The one I borrowed from my parents and the other I bought at a garage sale for 75 cents (yes it was my own sale again!). In saying that, though, I just want to clarify that I do know that buying things cheaply isn't saving money. Not buying things is saving money. The hardest part for me will be consistency. So, I'm adding a ticker, somewhat for accountability, somewhat b/c I'm so confident we'll be successful in paying off our lowest debt. Ben's school loan has just $7,046 left. Mine is astronomical and we'll tackle that next. Then, (smile and a wink ;^D) the mortgage! Oh aren't we ambitious these days? So, look for the little ticker (just measuring Ben's loan first) and rejoice with us as we dig our way out of debt.

5 comments:

Kristin said...

Did you read the Dave Ramsey book yet? I just heard about him yesterday and my friend was raving about him. What did you think? Worth getting a book?

Elizabeth Wickland said...

I LOVE Flylady, too! I've been using it for 3 years now and the principles are still really good!

Dana said...

i'm rejoicing with you! our church went through the finacial peace university last year (dave ramsey's dvd series). we didn't do it since we had a pretty good "budget" going with larry burkett's system, but dave went ahead and picked up the book and skimmed through some ideas. we decided to do the 7 steps (or however many there are) with some slight tweaking. it was REALLY hard to understand at first why dave was taking all our saved money (for kids college and such) and putting it towards our debt and emergency fund. but the way he explained it to me was like this, "if i lost my job right now, all that money would go towards debt and bills anyways and be gone" but getting rid of the intrest acruing debt and saving for 6 months worth of necessary bills, we would be safe. thanks to GE and dave's severance pay we were able to pay off a HUGE chunk of school debt. then through pinching we now own both our vehicles, have our emergency fund, and are now saving for college and retirement. we still have a mortgage, which is the one place we didn't follow ramsey exactly, but otherwise we are in very good shape.

Chris said...

Love the format for sharing your video & pics! So proud of you and all your changes! Go, debt, go!!

Matthew Sebree said...

I remember the days when all it took to make me happy was the sun on my face, a diaper on butt, and warm puddle water in my shoes.