Posted in books, debt, encouragement, family, finance, food, kids, money, obedience, Parenting, parenting advice, relaxation, savings, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

How to Change your life by changing your attitude.

So Ive been a little MIA from writing the last week or so. We just started back with full force of homeschooling. We have also just gotten back from a couple trips. So with that let me update you on where we stand with the debt.

I refigured the grocery bills, i was over, but after talking it over with hubby, a good portion of the overage was the groceries we bought for our camping trip so we took it off the grocery total and put it on the vacation total. Still it was money spent. I mentioned before hubby is having a hard time sticking to the plan, and that i feel i cannot do much about that. He works incredibly hard and telling him not to purchase a case of beer or some donuts seems a tad too controlling. I believe by leading by example he will follow along willingly when he starts seeing the results as well. That said I do most of the grocery shopping so I have been sticking to the plan, and if he WANTS something not in the budget he has to go get it. This seems like a fair compromise.

We also had the majority of the school expenses come out this month. Which seems like A LOT but in the scope of comparing to what we would have spent of private school, were way ahead. below are the bulk of the costs

Classical Conversations Tuition for 2 kids $1050

Classical Conversations Audio Memory Work CD Cycle 2 $30—– if you’re new to homeschooling or even considering it THIS is the NUMBER 1 purchase I suggest. I would even recommend the Audio CDs for non homeschool, or kids not in the Classical Conversations circle. While I LOVE the classical model of education I do understand it is not for everyone and every child, the CDs however are an easy intro to the topics.

Old World Tales $17 with shipping, this is another book new this year to CC and already loving it. Its a great way to jump into reading time in the morning each day. The kids like the stories and it is a nice way to spend time together. This would be another HIGHLY recommended item for families homeschooling or not!

This year we also decided to dive into the AMBLESIDE online world of education. I stumbled on this by accident and really really loved it. If you follow the blog you know im a giant book nerd so this was right up my alley. We are not following the schedule but instead reading some of all the books everyday. I am less concerned with completing all the years on schedule as i am with fostering a LOVE of reading. The other thing i love about this ‘curriculum’ is the focus on narration . If you dont know much about that i HIGHLY recommend reading the book know and tell. In essence, it is teaching the kids to not only listen when were reading, but to learn. Meaning i do not want them to simply parrot back to me the books we read. This may seem counter intuitive with the classical method and classical conversations as a whole, BUT from my stand point i think it fits in perfect. That is bc the classical method is teaching them FACTS, but the Narration is teaching them to not only listen to the facts BUT to understand it.

The Ambleside year 1 books did make up a heafty investment BUT i will say that books are in my opinion NEVER a wasted investment. I am currently trying to decide if I will purchase the YEAR 0 books for my younger kids as i think they would enjoy the stories, but they are not cheap.

Again this year we are continuing with the teaching textbooks for my sons math, he started the subscription mid last year and it is a year long, so we will not need to renew and get the next years work until around february 2020.

Handicrafts is another investment we are making, this is something charlotte mason touts and while i dont feel its as crucial to an education as she does, i do think it plays a part in breaking up the day and having more fun.

the Ambleside Art is another FUN thing. my kids and i appreciate art and painting and so were printing the art suggested and the kids will be talking about it and painting their own based either on reproducing, or using the same method, colors, etc… i have decided to take a picture of their work and at the end of the year print using google photo books to keep as their portfolios. If you live in a state that requires portfolio i find this is a simple way to just take pictures of the work and they line up nicely on the shelf instead of files and files of crinkly missized papers. plus the kids enjoy flipping thru these.

Other costs this month that we were NOT expecting, the brakes AND air-conditioning went out on our truck. i realize this is a mainenance thing and periodically need redone BUT wasnt expecting it. SO i am 100% happy that we started the savings plan at the beginning of the month BC we had the money available CASH to pay for it instead of going further into debt to cover the costs. That said the SAVINGS plan has been reduced to not much BUT thats ok were still on track for basically everything else.

Another EXCITING piece of information is i published a short work of poems! this has been something ive wanted to do for ALOOOOONNNNNGGGG time. I was o nervous to do it but am really so proud of myself. I do not care if a single copy sells. Just the fact that i did it and its out there is such a personal accomplishment. In fact i have taken the step to publish more works. I have purblished a short math workbook for pre-k students. I didnt do this for the money but found that what we have used for our kids in the past for math hasnt worked great and so made a book based on what OUR kids needed. I was tired of printing them all off the computer and having loose papers all over the house, so them being bound is a nice option and also makes my pre-k student feel like big stuff. I intend to publish more as she needs them. I published it bc i figured if my kids need this other kids may need it as well and instead of waiting for someone else to do it i did.

This month also saw the second check off of my bucket list. I finally saw Joyce Meyer in person! she has been such an inspiration in my life and I love listening to her ministry. One of the things she said this weekend is that People try church thinking theyre trying God. then when they dont feel welcome or they see hypocrisy in the church they think they dont like GOd. The church is made up of sinners and as such will never be perfect like God. it is made up of people who WANT to do better. So if you feel like you dont like church maybe you need to try another one, OR try listening to online church sermons. Find a minister you like. One thing people seem to not like about sermons is that they feel called out. THAT IS THE POINT. to be convicted on something in your life that you can change. it doesnt even have to be something big. this past week she talked about forgiveness and how it is for YOU not the other person. THIS is something ive heard a million times before but sitting in that arena it came to my heart what that MEANS. instead of turning my complaints and irritations to prayer and praying for the person who offended me i have been stewing in the offense.

Example: someone cuts me off in traffic, now ill be the first to admit im NO saint and suffer from road rage. I KNOW the person cannot hear me yet i yell, cuss sometimes, ANGER flares, my heartrate increases, you can feel the rage in your heart and head. I sit there with my anger physically consuming ME, while the person who cut me off drives on with their day. THIS is what unforgiveness does to us. When someone in our family, our kids, coworkers, etc hurt us they may not even KNOW, yet here we are MAD and angry for hours, days, years even. What i took away from the forgiveness sermon was that i need to turn the offense into a prayer. back to the road rage example: instead of yelling at the other driver i can say “THANK you father for giving me eyes to see and that no one was injured in an accident” By changing our WORDs and ATTITUDE away from complaining about whats wrong INTO what were are thankful for we can be happier as a whole.

Joyce mentioned how were all a bunch of winers, and wow she is write, my foot hurts-yea but thank you father i have feet to walk on. My kids dont listen- thank you father for my kids.

You may not even be a Christian and thats FINE, the point of this is that our WORDS have an impact on our attitudes and emotions, which impact our actions and being. TRY it for a day, try NOT to complain and to change the complaint into a thanksgiving. She asked us to do this as we left and BOY what a lifechanging day that was. Something as simple as that gave us SUCH joy and exuberance we were giddy with laughter realizing all the mundane things were THANKFUL for in life.

So as i sign off with the update on debt and our last couple weeks i encourage you to try the same.

Posted in family, food, kids, money, savings

Meh Pizza

Ok let me clarify this is a SUPER easy quick meal but the effect has been better than meh. They actually taste good, they’re cheap, and the kids actually ask me to make them. This is something the kids can prep on their own and make how they want.

You need flour tortillas

Mozerella cheese shredded

Plain marinara or pasta sauce( only a small amount save the rest to add to my secret ingredient pasta sauce)

Mini pepperonis

BBQ sauce

Boiled shredded chicken

Bell peppers

Guys this meal has endless possibilities try things you may not have considered like deli ham and canned pineapple, or tomatoes and basil, spinach and feta cheese with olive oil

All you do is spread a small amount of the base marinara, bbq sauce, olive oil on the tortilla, load up with a small amount of toppings

Toss in the oven at 400 degrees F, for 8 min or until edges nice and brown

Take out slice and serve, I budget two per person five or take.

Like I said this is great for kids to be creative and learn basic cooking.

Posted in debt, family, finance, mommy, money, savings, Uncategorized

debt journey update:2

ok so i completely blew it this month, i somehow missed an entire student loan payment when i created the budget, i have a medical bill i HAVE to pay , so i put it on forbearance for one month. This will cost us more over the life of the loan on interest BUT with the plan were using the snowball method hopefully we wont even see that. Even tho i put the forbearance in place to make sure were ready to pay next month, i am still making a payment next week on to that loan, it is not the ENTIRE amount but it will keep us from being continually behind.

we have made the major savings withdrawl to pay for school today. and completed our grocery shopping for the month. I determined to cut or grocery bill in more than half, as if youve been following, you will know that we went over last week. Previously we were spending well over 1k/month at hte grocery, this month i budgeted just $450. We had all the necessary items that needed purchased all at the same time BUT even with that (Bulk costco run for DIAPERS, WIPES, TOILET PAPER, and DOG FOOD), we are still at just over $450. i did some serious meal planning and meh meals, but i do not see a need to go back to the store this month. The only thing i am concerned about is that my children have devoured the bread at an alarming rate, tbd if i will need more of that before the end of the month for breakfasts, or maybe it will be pancakes every day at the of the month.

Again in my last post i let you all know how hubs seems to not get what a BUDGET is, and is still spending willy nilly. We are not serious drinkers but do like to entertain and this i have come to realize has been costing US quite a bit as apparently our friends are bums. They have no shame drinking all of our alcohol and bringing none of their own. So this month i told hubs im giving up the alcohol purchases, i will still have an occasional drink (maybe) idk im trying to live healthier anyways so maybe the cost savings will just be enough. BC of this i have let everyone know were not providing alcohol. well hubs still went out an got the bottle services… not thrilled as this came out of savings and now were having a serious talk about it. Like i said were not really drinkers so for such a large portion of money every month to come out for this is, well pissing me off (pardon my french). Any tips for getting hubs to stop swiping the card? I know he works very hard and i dont want him to feel like he cannot spend, but im also kinda feeling like he doesnt really care if we pay on these debts forever. Im like in less than 5 years we will have X amount more a month not including raises and bonuses. ARgggg marriage is so much about compromise and discussion.

Lastly, in my last update i shared our savings strategy, since then i have talked to financial counselors and we are seriously considering putting the college savings for the kids into CDs to grow the interest at 2.55% annually. which is QUITE a bit more than our .09% its currently in. since its the long term savings and we have no plans for it for like 15 years this seems like the route we will be taking. In addition to this we are investing in municipal bonds with a smaller portion of our savings. Diversify.

This is a new avenue and one we (I) am becoming very excited about. its starting small and building from that.

Lastly>>> MOVING seems to be even more likely given my husbands job. I am torn between taking on a larger debt in a mortgage, but being in a ‘nice’ neighborhood or taking on less possibly paying cash (out of equity of current home) but living much smaller… with 4 kids and a large dog this seems like it will be a huge adjustment. I know renovation has been working good for us in the past but it is SOOOO much work, is it worth it? idk kind of a toss up right now. hubs doesnt want to consider a smaller house but given the freedom from debt i am having a hard time thinking that another big home will be in our best interest.

with 4 small kids i feel a smaller home where they share rooms or where we split rooms in 2 (mini rooms) would be a good idea, i am an advocate for the outdoors and how it improves mood and happiness. if we have a smaller home in a temperate climate we can live more outdoors? ok well enough rambling now youre all caught up to speed. check back for more progress on our journey.

Posted in debt, family, finance, food, mommy, money, savings, Uncategorized

Meh Burritos

Here is another meh meal. This one is extremely budget friendly. I made double batches and wrap the extra in foil then freeze so when we have a night when we need a quick meal I just take the foil off and toss them in the microwave for 2-3min

In a medium size sauce pan add beans, drained tomatoes and 4oz shredded cheddar cheese, warm up until cheese melted, then add to burrito shells and roll up, top with sour cream and salsa with a side of tortilla chips and corn!

Make sure to check Ibotta for rebates bc chips and generic food commonly on there! I’m the queen of generic and store brand food! In most cases it’s cheaper and tastes the SAME!

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@thetinypinkclover_

Posted in family, finance, food, money, Parenting, savings, Uncategorized

Meh Meals

So our grocery budgeting has resulted in many, what I affectionately refer to as, meh meals. They are easy inexpensive meals that the kids like and I’m fine with.

Instead of having Uber tasty, yet expensive meals all week we have started having one or two NICE meals while leaving the rest to be budget friendly. I have cut our monthly grocery budget in more than half, including diapers, formula, toilet paper, and dog food. We were regularly spending over 1k/ month. Now we are down to a projected $450/month.

I will be completely transparent, the meats are from our freezer, we’re working our way back to zero there. But in the above picture you will see a bag of meat, this was part of a budgeting moment I got three lbs of ground beef from the meat counter at our local grocery, it was about half the cost as buying three individual lbs. then I got home and divided them into smaller 1/2lb portions sealing them all in i individual baggies and freezing them. you will also notice it seems kind of brown, that is bc I marinated the meat for 4 hours before freezing FLAT. It stores super easy and thaws very fast!

Lawry’s are my favorite marinade but sometimes I will use salad dressing.

Anyways I toss 2lbs white rice in the cooker with 4 cups water and two bay leaves.

Brown the meat and then add in the stir fry starters( this one had noodles which is my least favorite, the better ones are just peppers and onions) but heat it all up and put over rice with some soy or teriyaki sauce and you’re good to go. If you don’t have one of these pampered chef meat mashers GET ONE NOW!

My kids like adding shredded cheese to it.

Like I said meh, it’s cheap, easy, and fast, AND the kids like it which is more than half of the battle these days.

Happy cooking!

Posted in debt, family, finance, money, savings, Uncategorized

debt journey update:

Well here we are less than a week into this journey, and already i can see its going to be harder than i imagined. Dear husband is apparently not as on board as i thought. He has made some purchases that i didnt budget for. Im slightly peeved, because these are HIS student loans and credit card debts. I get that i married him and now they are ours, but i feel his not taking this seriously, even after i showed him the work and budgets and totals that took literally DAYS to figure out.

not only that but i realized that there are somethings i didnt budget for well timing wise. Some of the bills are due sooner than i initially thought so we had to make the payments earlier which is fine but now i have to reconfigure the calendar/paycheck system to make sure everything is paid without going negative in the account. Diapers, toilet paper, and dog food… all the bulk items i get from costco all ended up running out this week, and i didnt plan on purchasing for another two weeks. SO i am hard at work moving things around.

on top of this i want to reference the previous debt post . where we are putting quite a bit away for savings. This is for school and travel expenses, so while we will be saving, it is more a downpayment for these activities. this coming weekend will be the first planned trip we have, and our first withdrawl from the travel savings, it is a small weekend trip to canoe and camp, it will be a relatively small amount we have to take out compared to what we have put away. we need gas, kids paddles, some food (which i already paid for most of it in last weeks grocery bueget, to save both time and the clicklist charge). while i went over my weekly budget amount by spending over last weekend, i am under for the month still. This is a learning process.

The second part being schooling. we homeschool using a combination of Classical Conversations, local CO-Ops, and AmblesideOnline. We are Charlotte Mason-ish. I think the classical model definitely has benefits but ultimately we chose to homeschool because of the freedom it allows us. We do not have to choose just one curriculum, we dont have to use the FULL curriculum. but back to savings… this week will be our tuition payment, (we have been putting into this savings account before this month). it is a large cost all at once. $1056 in one gut check to the savings account. on top of that we begin community day in two weeks and i have to order the rest of year 1 ambleside books, as well as our materials for classical conversations (CC), this year we will only be purchasing the audio cd, and the old world echos. last year we purchased the curriculum book for foundations and wont need to spend as much this year. The ambleside books we felt are a great addition to the cc materials and so we will be using them more as supplemental than base curriculum.

In addition we spoke with our tax accountant this week and she let us know that we would be getting a federal refund, this is maybe the first time that has happened for us. We try to not loan the government money interest free, so our dependents and withholdings have always been set so that we owe about $500/year give or take which is REALLY close. But filed an extension this year as we didnt yet have our youngest SS# at tax filing time. We also didnt adjust our withholdings after our son was born last year. so we will have a little extra money to put into the savings account than originally planned. This is not something we had anticipated but we are glad to be able to have the cushion.

Lastly we have decided to downside our fleet. hubs listed two of our vehicles this weekend, to hopefully be able to purchase cash a new to us vehicle, but cut down on insurance payments and low mpg of the current vehicles. the remainder of the cash will also go into savings. these additional savings contributions go into our long term savings account. any time the savings account reaches 3k we bump everything over 2k into long term savings. our short term “variable” expenses of travel, car repair, homeschool costs, come from the main savings, but frequently we have more time between those costs so we bump it over into long term savings for the kids college fund.

Also for grocery/shopping I JUST signed back up for Ibotta, I’ve used it in the past, they say it’s money back but for me it’s more just coupons. I love using all the store coupons, I’m not a pro by any means but I do the few store apps if it’s something I’m already buying I figure cuts down on bills a little. try it out bc literally just about anyplace you buy stuff there is some kind of reward in Ibotta.

so there is this weeks update on the savings/debt journey. I will update again after these expenses come out and update the timeline for debt. I do not think it will be altering much.

Posted in debt, family, finance, money, Parenting, Uncategorized

clawing out from under the mountain of debt

So i used to consider myself relatively adequate when it came to finances. but recently in light of all the hullabaloo over the student loan forgiveness, i actually decided to take a deep look at our finances and make a plan to live life comfortably yet pay off all the debt we have incurred. I will start by saying i thought i had a general idea of the amount of money we owed to various sources. After further inspection i have realized that i was a bit off in a scary way. so without procrastinating lets take a look at what we have and the plan to get out from under the mountain we have created.

mortgage 180912.20

student loans 57823.17

car 26079.54

medical 7800

credit card 6500

total 279114.91

holy smokes i havent actually seen the total amount until right now.

so whats the plan?

cry, does that count? obviously the first step in correcting a problem is admitting you have a problem,

we have a problem! a very giant scary problem.

i did a bit of research and soul searching and so by combining the 7 stages of grief along with the 7 stages of problem solving i think we have a real viable plan. im going to share this process with you.

7 stages of grief

  • stage 1. SHOCK… the utterly paralyzing realization of what that number means. im flabergasted, im speachless, I AM SHOOK to the core of my being.
  • stage 2. Denial… i admit i flew right from stage 1 to 2 pretty fast bc i was convinced that there was an error in there someplace. i looked up all the student loans bc this is where i was convinced the error was, there was no way we could be this far in the hole from a few 1500 loans, but you know what those small loans added up to 70k, ok back to stage 1…just kidding, but for real guys i had to find where the mistake was… maybe our card was scammed for fraud? nope. maybe the emergency life saving procedures that resulted in a 10k max out of pocket last year were off, weve paid more off than that right? again nope, i already knew that the vehicle and mortgage were correct bc i was physically holding the statements with their large outstanding principles glaring me in the face.
  • Stage 3: Anger… yep i was MAD, furious at my husband for taking out student loans, furious about the trip we took to hawaii (we got a massive deal on hotel, didnt eat much, and flights were from savings) so how did that add up on the credit card? im sure my husband was scared to come home, after the firestorm of texts he got. i was mad at myself for not keeping better track of finances ( we live comfortably and bills are (almost always paid, there are the times ive forgotten to pay and the lights got shut off eek, but never because of lack of funds) we travel without having to tap savings very much. BUT i should have had a better handle on what our true obligations were and the END GOAL. Here is where i really lost my temper, WE HAD NO END GOAL!!!! we had a general idea of the house we wanted and things we wanted to do but no set idea of HOW to get there?!Deep breaths deep breaths
  • Stage 4: barganing… this one didnt last too long for us. there were the thoughts that maybe we can beg the government to relieve all the student debt… but that was fleeting and completely immature. We maybe millennial but we are NOT going to fall into the entitled whiny blame game trap of many of our peers. We earned this debt, with poor choices, some necessary choices, and ignorance…moving on
  • Stage 5: Depression… this one bites, once you see the mountain ahead of you and know what its going to take to claw your way to the top, its massively depressing. i wallowed a bit here in this stage, not sure how we could make a plan, how we could cut spending, increase savings, reduce the mountain of debt.
  • Stage 6: Testing… after i put the numbers down and saw what we were facing i had to step away to cry, to mourn the innocence and cluelessness of financial ignorance. oh those were the days. anyways once i decided to face it, i tried to imagine how things would be when/if we got out from under this, or living with it.
  • Stage 7: Acceptance… so here we are landed in the final stage of grief, while i am by no means happy happy i also am not wallowing in self pity, or playing the blame game. I accept that this was something my husband and i did together (mostly some were from before, but we are responsible) I accept that there is a solution and now we need to find it.

7 steps to problem solving

  • identify the issues, admit you have a problem
  1. issue 1: large amount of debt
  2. issue 2: no plan
  3. issue 3: excess frivolous spending
  4. issue 4: actual expenses we cannot cut
  • understand everyone’s interests
  1. my own interest is getting rid of this elephant on our backs
  2. my husbands interest is making sure the kids have a comfortable life, and good education
  3. loan services: obviously they want their money back
  • list possible solutions
  1. ask for forgiveness
  2. not pay
  3. pay on schedule
  4. pay more on all
  5. avalanche
  6. snowball
  • evaluate the solutions
  1. asking for forgiveness: while a tempting option falls short of my morals. by shifting the blame off of us and claiming we were uninformed or that its a burden, only reinforces everyone’s idea of millennial’s being entitled, lazy, and seeking to shift blame. it reinforces the claims of the baby boomers who were against “everyone gets a trophy” that those who didnt earn something are somehow entitled to it. well I for one am NOT this millennial. choices have consequences, good or bad and im not going to sacrifice integrity for the easy way out.
  2. this brings us to the next option, not paying, which sort of falls inline with number one, except im not even asking im just going to fail to meet my obligations, and risk garnishments, yea doesnt seem much better, lets move on
  3. pay on schedule, this is what we have been doing, and clearly its not working for us, were not getting further ahead, were stuck in this perpetual cycle of debt. whats next?
  4. pay more on all debts: finally getting to a financial AND morally viable option. I ran the numbers and with the amount of debt we have it would not make enough of a dent due to our interest rates to get us out in any kind of timely manner(if we had less debt or lower interest rates this could have been a winner, so i do not want to discount this for others who maybe in a similar yet different situation)
  5. avalanche our debt( dave ramsey), basically just paying putting extra money to the debts with the higher interest rates first thereby reducing overall interest paid, wow this looks good.
  6. snowball (dave ramsey), start by paying off lowest loan amounts first, while maintaining the minimum payments on the rest. then rolling the payments from paid off loans towards the next loan thus having a larger payment and just as a small snowball rolls down a hill as it increases speed it increases size and impact….
  • Pick a solution

can you guess which solution we chose?

that’s right were going to snowball this mess. While i understand the idea of paying off those with the highest interest first, because over the life of the loan we will pay more, after adding up the total both ways we will pay less by paying off lowest balance first.

  • document agreements

here i am publicly stating our plan of action.

  • agree on contingencies

Never again do i want to find myself in a spot so financially depressing as this. gone are the days of blissful ignorance. our contingency plan is basically two things

  1. if life continues as is we will reevaluate the snowball method versus the avalanche method after each loan is paid down (worth mentioning as i alluded to previously, the student loan amount is the total owed not on one but rather several individual loans with differing interest rates) so if we have extra and pay of quicker we may switch to the avalanche if it saves us over the long run
  2. contingency 2 is based on wage increases and moves, if we move homes we will not be increasing our standard of living by the same amount as the raise, rather we would be putting all extra money toward paying down the debts.

starting at the bottom

where else is there really to start, fun as it may not be it will teach us the discipline and accountability we need to maintain us on our journey up and beyond.

i will be updating this journey on instagram so follow at thetinypinkclover_ or on facebook thetinypinkclover