Saturday, July 27, 2013

Free Fish and Mochas

My father in law stopped by with two huge fish that he caught in the lake. I broiled one up for dinner tonite with some long grain rice.

I found a tiny chocolate recipe book that a friend had given me back in high school. There was a recipe for a mocha that I thought, "hey why not give it a try?" I've mixed together milk, coffee, sugar, and cocoa before. It's always good but its never been SOO yummy. I've learned that it's best to start with a recipe and tweak it from there... at least for me. This was no exception. The mocha was really REALLY yummy this time.
1/2 cup milk
1 tbls. sugar (I know, that's alot... but I bet less than starbucks)
2 tsp. cocoa
1/2 cup of coffee
I've been going heavy on the coffee all these years. This recipe is a great balance for a yummy mocha.

This morning teething boy was cranky so we walked to the playground to let off some steam. I thought of inviting some friends but decided I'd like it to be just the two of us. Friends are wonderful but so is spending one on one time at the playground with your kiddo. It's fascinating watching this tiny man who was only months ago a helpless infant now climbing, running, discovering wood chips, birds, litter (yes litter is fascinating), laughing, giggling, being silly, and whooshing down slides all by himself. There are SO many priceless moments in this life!!!

and NO SPEND day 47 is in the bag!

Today was a calm but wonderful day. Shoot, calm is always wonderful!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pit Stops and Victory Dances

I'll tell you what, last week was tough! This week I've been sticking to the budget pretty well. Today I didn't spend any money. It is definitely not easy following a plan. We just had to replace the breaks on the car. My husband changed them himself but the total cost still ended up being over $100. Even so I didn't have to break out a credit card. We didn't go into overdraft. I didn't have to borrow money from anyone. Maybe that's $100+ that I won't be putting into the emergency fund or paying towards debt but I'm surprisingly giddy about this little set back. In truth if I hadn't been trying so hard to stick to my super tight budget these past few weeks then we would not have been able to afford the car repair. The sense of accomplishment I feel after a tough week of penny pinching is great. Being able to afford a car repair with cash is like the cherry on top.

Victory dance!!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I did not break down and buy all kinds of crazy things today.
I did splurge on a diet Coke and some chex mix. I also changed dinner plans for my husband who did not want spaghetti as I'd planned. I spent a bit more today than I could have but I stood my ground and didn't go crazy. I'm considering today a success.

Now for sleep! Someone is working on a few new teeth and he has NOT been sleeping well (thus mommy has not been sleeping well either).

Average daily spending for July: $13.41

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my

It's mid week. I've done okay so far with spending. But today my resolve is about as low as it gets. I am super tired. There are two days until payday. Thankfully my worklist picked up this week but my back is acting up again as well. Up and down and up and down, weeeee!!!

It's 8am here. I'm about to head out to work. This blog post is an attempt to fight off the urges I'm having right now to throw abandoned to the wind and spend, spend, SPEND today. I haven't bought food while working for weeks now. I've been sticking to the grocery budget but it's not an easy task. I can't remember the last time I stopped at a Starbucks. But oh my oh my is my inner child screaming right now. I'm going to blame it on lack of sleep but that certainly doesn't quite the child any.

I'm off to work but I'll report back this evening. I seriously want to stop at a drive thru for greasy food and then pick up some coffee and then buy some candy while I'm working, and then LOAD up on groceries, like 10x over my budget groceries, and then pick up food for dinner so I don't have to cook when I get home. Hopefully this post is enough to shake some sense into my tired self and keep me on track.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crunching Numbers and Feeling A BIT More Confident

In truth it feels like the debt will never be gone. Over the past few years we've had some huge set backs and some little pit falls. In 2009 our car died and we bought a different one. That point was the highest our total debt has been since purchasing our home. In 2012 our son was born and I didn't work for three months. We incurred hospital debt of about $3000 and my not working combined with poorly managing our money added about $2000 more debt to the 2012 calendar year.

Our total household debt looks like this:
$147,805 beginning 2010. This is the highest point I have recorded.
$127,000 projected beginning 2014

My ultimate goal is to be debt free by 40. I would need to pay off over $15,000 a year to get there. That is a huge number for our income but others have done it and I believe we can too. At first with interest payments being higher I cannot expect payoffs like that. But as the debt snowball gains momentum principle payments go up and interest payments go down. $15,000+ payoffs should be very doable in the last few years. I managed an almost $10,000 payoff in 2011 just starting off with a ton off determination and effort.

It's WAY out, dreaming big, and crazy planning, also a lot of "life" can happen in 6 years but here goes:
$115,000 beginning 2015
$100,000 beginning 2016
$83,000 beginning 2017
$65,000 beginning 2018
$47,000 beginning 2019
$27,000 beginning 2020
$0 beginning 2021... so I'm a year late but in January of 2021 I'd still be 40. Hey, that works.

I could also win the lottery somewhere along the way, right...
too bad I don't play the lottery.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Quick Note

The blog spammers are brutal and even though I've turned on comment moderation there are still a ridiculous amount of silly spammer comments left on this blog. Due to the fact that it's just to difficult to decipher between legit web addresses and some of the more sly spammers I've decided that I am not going to post comments with web addresses in them. Feel free to leave your address in a comment if you'd like me to stop by for a visit but I can no longer publish these comments.

You guys are all awesome and encouraging. I wouldn't be where I am in this journey without you all. This is just one of those technical decisions that I've thought on for a bit and I think its for the best.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I Hope it Makes a Difference in Their Lives

Not to long ago I heard a news story about a car dealership owner who retired. He was known to be a good kind man. He had a retirement party at which he handed each of his employees an envelope. When the envelopes were opened all 89 employees found $1000 for each year they'd worked for him in their envelopes. One of the employees, a man who drives the parts van, had worked for the company for 28 years. You do the math.

I've been reminded of this story lately as I've been concentrating ALOT on my spending and debt payoff. I listen to the news regularly so I hear tons of depressing things but this is one of the happier stories I've ever heard. I personally do not desire riches. I don't need a bigger nicer house or a brand new car. But when I think of what I'd really like to do once I'm financially free, once my money is actually my own, this story certainly comes to mind. I don't ever intend to hand 89 people thousands and thousands of dollars (oh, what a fairy tale story) but it sure would be nice to do something like that for just one person one day.

I think I might start a financial freedom wish list. Something like this awesome gift of generousity would be the first thing on it. Then maybe a trip to Sweden. I wonder, what would top off your financial freedom wish list? Now that certainly is a thing to ponder.
I wanted to thank my employees and that was a way I could do it. I hope it makes a difference in their lives like they have made in mine.-Howard Cooper
Today was accidental NO SPEND day 44. I forgot to bring my wallet to work. I was going to buy some food for dinner but we had eggs and potatoes instead.

Average daily spending for July: $11.74

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I Rewarded Myself With Rhubarb Pie

A friend of ours brought over a ton of rhubarb last night that she picked from her Grandmother's garden. Just so happens that even though we're out of practically everything I still had the flour, butter, sugar, and one egg that I needed to throw together my first ever rhubarb pie. Talk about icing on the cake. I made it through the week successfully and I came out with a super yummy pie!

Thank-you all for the kind comments! You do really encourage me to push through during tough times like these when we're down to the penny and it'd be SO so so SO much easier to just swipe a credit card. Ya all rock!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fourty Three Cents

We've had 43 cents in the checking account since Monday. Normally this would be something to fret about but today it's causing me to feel so incredibly triumphant. My average daily spending for July is now $10.65. I spent a total of $50.67 on everything this week except food exclusively for my son on which I spent $20.74. Today is officially NO SPEND day 43 for the year. I made it. I did not use a credit card for little extras this week. These little victories feel much like winning a gruesome battle in a long arduous war. I am the winner!!!

Tomorrow when the paycheck posts, oh my do I have some shopping to do. We are out of everything!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Goldfish and Determination

Don't be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with the wind.
-Hamilton Wright Mabie
My goal this week is to stick to the budget and to not use a credit card to cover little extras. I've had to do that some lately and it's not something I want to do. There is currently 43 cents in our checking account and one more day to go before payday. I am out of cash but I am very determined to stand my ground this week.

Yesterday I realized we had a baby item I hadn't used and I returned it to the store and got a decent amount of groceries with that money. I felt like I'd won the lottery walking around with a return card for $36.99 in my wallet. The little kid in me was screaming, "ooh, ooh, OOH you could buy some chocolates and Dr. Pepper with some of this new found money." That little kid is LOUD. I seriously debated for a bit but instead I wrote up a prioritized grocery list and worked my way down it until all of the money had been spent. The chocolates and Dr. Pepper didn't make it out the store with me.

It's funny the mental state you get into when you're trying so hard for something. I've been getting pretty creative with meals. I've had to plan my grocery trips down to the penny. Today I went through my husbands pockets looking for change. We were out of milk (a necessity) and I am out of money and just so happens he doesn't spend his change. And you know things are crazy when finding a bag of goldfish crackers in the back seat of the car while you're working evokes pure bliss and excitement. I'd only brought a granola bar with me today.

After documenting my last two days of spending I must mention that I am fully aware that there are people all over this planet who are without food for days at a time, haven't any access to clean water, or health care, or sanitary living conditions. I am not struggling. I am well fed, well housed, and employed. The only situation that I am currently dealing with is trying to get myself and my household out of the debt hole we dug. My struggle is purely an emotional one, fighting urges and entitlement issues which tell me that I should have access to everything my little heart desires. This is not reality.

The thing we must realize is that emotions can be very strong but you decided whether or not to give them power. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose but I decide.

Daily spending average for July thus far: $11.31
Average daily spending for the year: $14.37

Sunday, July 14, 2013

We Dined Like Kings

I thought I might make it successfully through today without spending any money but I really wanted to get some strawberries for my sons smoothie and I wasn't entirely sure what dinner would be.

My son's daily smoothie:
About 4 or 5 strawberries
1/3 cup of frozen blueberries (I froze them)
1/3 cup of organic whole milk yogurt
1/3 cup of apple juice (orange juice is equally delicious)

I had a go of it and put fresh blueberries in place of the strawberries. It was a success, very tasty, and he couldn't tell the difference. For dinner I swapped turkey bacon for tuna fish in our staple: spaghetti noodle, dab of butter, parmesan cheese, peas and tuna pasta dinner. It was an incredibly scrumptious swap and I did not spend any money today.

We were out of clean cups
Average daily spending for July: $11.03
NO SPEND day 42: complete
And feeling good about improvising.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


In the midst of it all there is beauty, life, and much to marvel at. I'm experiencing one of those weeks where it's invaluably important to remind myself that there's more than all of this.

Once it chanced that I stood in the very abutment of a rainbow's arch, which filled the lower stratum of the atmosphere, tinging the grass and leaves around, and dazzling me as if I looked through colored crystal. It was a lake of rainbow light, in which, for a short while, I lived like a dolphin. If it had lasted longer it might have tinged my employments and life.
-Thoreau (from Walden)

My question to you and to myself today is when was the last time you were a dolphin? When was the last time the simplest moment transformed you? When was the last time that life was new, vivid, and made you feel exhilarated to be alive? I don't believe these moments are rare as they may seem and I don't think we have to go searching for them we just have to remember to look.

The truly beautiful things cannot be had but experienced and those things are always free.

Day Forty One

It's only 4PM but I'm declaring today NO SPEND #41 for the year. I'm feeling rather proud about this particular milestone. So far this year I've lost track of 40 days worth of spending. Today's achievement has allowed my NO SPEND days to surpass my not recorded days. I wish I hadn't lost track of any days but it's nice to have my achievement now outweighing my set back.

I might not have to pick up any groceries tomorrow either but I'm pretty sure I'll stop at the store for strawberries for my son's smoothie. Hm, maybe I could only use blueberries. Not spending money tomorrow would bring my daily spending average for July down to $11.03.
We'll see.
Three days down, four to go for this tight, tight week.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Another Work Week Ends

Minimum groceries have been acquired, dinner is made, boys are in bed; today is done. I don't intend to spend any money tomorrow. So far so good.

Average daily spending for July: $11.89

Money is sooo tight this week but using a credit card for anything for any reason even with pristine intentions of paying it back instantly, well that's the opposite of getting out of debt. I told myself that this week would be different. I so adamantly dislike money and the managing of it!!! Grr
Just taking it one day at a time.

The Debt Snowball

I've been attempting to pay off the debt for a few years now... what a crazy journey. I've sort of been following the debt snowball principle; I've been putting extra bits of money towards the smallest debt. But I have not ever really snowballed my debt. Seriously this debt payoff thing is such a roller coaster ride.

For anyone who is unaware of the debt snowball here is how it works:
Line the debts up smallest to largest.
I'm calling mine 1 through 7.
Pay the minimum payments on each debt except for the smallest.
You pay every extra penny towards the smallest.
After you've paid off the smallest debt you put that minimum payment and every extra penny towards the next in line.

Here's how my debt snowball for July looks. Keep in mind I cannot truly begin the snowball until I have $1000 in the emergency fund again. I have all our debts in this list except for the Mortgage.

1: $15 payment towards the smallest debt
2: $56
3: $37
4: $85
5: $230
6: $158
7: $153 payment towards the largest debt

Once debt #1 is payed off the monthly minimum payment for debt #2 will not be $56, it will be $71. Once we've payed off debts #1 through #6, then the monthly minimum payment for #7 will not be $153, it will be $734. We're talking years here but you get the idea.

IF, big stinking "IF" my hours at work are sufficient and if I can stick to my tightly drawn up budget and if no crazy Murphy incidents occur I should have the $1000 emergency fund up and running by October, debt #1 payed off in November, and the snowball moving along in December. It'd be faster if I didn't have dentist and doctor bills to pay off this month and next. Anyhow...

In the meantime itty bitty baby snowball is patiently sitting atop the hill eagerly anticipating momentum and growth while hoping desperately not to melt into a puddle of failure.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Sitting on the couch watching chopped while my husband "naps" (right before bedtime) directly next to me. The sun has been shining warm and bright all day over the plethora of wildflowers filling the fields and is just beginning it's dramatic decent into Lake Michigan. My son is down for the night (okay, there will be at least one waking) and I'm about ready to snuggle in under the covers. It's been a good day; calm, A-okay.

Even so I have been thinking about money, about not spending money all day. My husband's paycheck was a nice size with the holiday pay and overtime but unfortunately the extra only affords us the ability to pay bills on time this month (rather than late). Money is still way tight. I'm not planning for any NO SPEND days this week. Instead I've $70 to spend and I intend to purchase as little as possible as each day progresses. I'm afraid that while planning for NO SPENDs I pick up a few extra things that we "might" run out of or "might" need.
This week: daily essentials only.

I spent $4.50 today and only $3.34 yesterday. My average daily spending for July is down to $12.25. That's encouraging at least. I think I'm almost ready to jump into the Dave Ramsey plan. So my current baby steps look like sticking to a tight budget (obviously) and building that $1000 emergency fund back up.

Baby step, baby step, baby step; weee!
Time for bed.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Am Going To

I suck at "I am going to." I'm a dreamer, a schemer; I'm always looking at the big picture, the glamours, way off in the future, grand culmination of things. But those darn things are what keep me from the bigger picture.

I've said it a million times but I really need a daily reminder: its about the baby steps. Today is important. The bigger picture is me being debt free. The baby steps today are me planning, watching what I buy, bringing lunch to work, making dinner at home, and reminding myself all day long that some dreams never come true. I have to fight for this one.

Yesterday was NO SPEND #40. Woohoo.
My average daily spending for July is $14.11.
Life is obviously more expensive since little guy came into the world but I can do this.
I'm shooting for $12.56 a day this month.
Baby steps.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Debt Quote Tuesday Today

The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had means, time, influence, and educational advantages, but what he will do with the things he has.
-Hamilton Wright Mabie
I think at some point in time throughout each day I find myself asking, "why didn't I..." It could be a number of why's: why didn't I refrain from that purchase, why didn't I put more money towards this or that instead, why didn't I spend more time with him, why didn't I go to sleep earlier. Okay so those are fairly little whys but most of our whys are little. It's usually the little ones that bring us down.

The woulds are equally as frustrating: what would I do if I were a millionaire, what would I do if I weren't in debt, what would I do if I had more time, what would I do if I hadn't purchased this house? So much pondering.

Instead of thinking about what I would do or what could have/ should have been done I think I'll take inspiration from Hamilton and move forward. What will I do today?

Be the best me I can be.
Find every bit of lovely life has to offer.
Not go more into debt.
Accomplish NO SPEND #40 for the year.
Smile more.


Monday, July 8, 2013

All Grey With Me

I'm horribly analytical. There's very little black and white with me. It took at least three days for me to decide which car to take to Detroit this weekend. What if, and what about that, and maybe this would be better... It can be really annoying. With finances I drive myself crazy. I think I should put the extra $10 towards the emergency fund but I'd really rather pay a bit more on the smallest credit card but we haven't eaten out in a long time and my husband has been so stressed lately (just an every day example).

The really nice thing about Dave Ramsey's financial peace plan is that it's completely black and white. There is a specific answer and correct way to go about everything financial. But on the flip side for an overly analytical person like me its torture not being able to control or devise my own plan. Thus for several years I've been implementing bits and pieces of Dave's plan, slowly, SLOWLY crawling out of debt and analyzing every financial decision I make along the way.

It took a long time but I finally came to agreement, after much much analysis that baby step one: $1000 in the emergency fund is essential. I also struggled forever with the cash only payment part of Dave's plan. But after pit fall after pit fall, again he's right. If you want to spend less, if you want to pay off debt faster, if you're anything like me and want to be more financially responsible paying with cash is the only way to go.

Okay what if, and I know alot you don't follow or wholly agree with Dave, but what if after years of driving myself insane with every little financial decision, what if I spend the rest of this year just throwing in the towel on my own madness and trying Dave's way, for real?

hmm, I'm going to have to think about this for a few days.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Independence Day Celebration

Yesterday involved a long drive to the other side of the state,
A family reunion of 54 people (30 people didn't make it),
Lots of yummy food, swimming, and fireworks,
Yearly traditions of volley ball, rain on the roof, and trivial pursuit,
The older generation sitting around and chatting about who was who and how so many kids came about,
A few political arguments (family tradition),
Memories being made and memories being remember,
and no money was spent.

It really made me think about how so many of our celebrations involve specific apparel needing to be purchased, gifts having to be brought, meals at restaurants, money, money, money, spend, spend, spend. Yesterday was one of the most fun times I've had with family and I even pulled off an NO SPEND day. How truly refreshing to be reminded that so much enjoyment can be had with such little expense.

My brother and nephew : )
That being said, my aunts did an amazing job feeding us all. My dad spent a good chunk of money on some big fireworks, and my grandpa spent a lot of energy getting the pool ready for us all.

Don't worry he was not drinking pop.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lookin Good

He's growing so fast.
I've scheduled most of the bills for the month... on time!
My husband's check this week was more than normal; really the only reason I was able to pay the bills on time.
His check next week should be big as well with the holiday and time and a half on it.
I'll try and get something into the emergency fund after next weeks check.
We're only 4 days in but I'm sticking to the zero-based budget for the month so far.
I've accomplished 2 NO SPEND days already this month.
Like I said, a financial roller coaster. This month is lookin good!

I just need a daily reminder to not pick up "this and that" here and there. I will not nickle and dime myself to death this month. No, no, no!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Debt Quote Tuesday/ I Just About Bought the Butterfinger

But I didn't.
NO SPEND day 36 is in the books!
The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.
-Martha Washington
I'm feeling good about July. For some reason I like that it's only 64 degrees outside and raining... possibly just because I feel that it may prohibit my neighbors from their firework shenanigans this evening. I feel as though we're going to catch up some in the finances this month. I'm ready to buckle down, get back on track, and brush myself off from my fall back. I'm feeling that 40 days of lost spending isn't too horrible. I'm looking forward to family time this weekend. I'm from an Irish Catholic family (my dad's side). There are ALOT of us and it will be great to see everyone. 88 people to be exact, if everyone were to show up. Maybe it was 83. I'm bad with numbers. If only my Great Grandparents were still here to see what the two of them contributed to this world. I don't know how my Aunt intends to feed us all though. I'm certain there were other motivating factors to why July looks promising but I'm sitting here listening to the rain tapping on the windows and I've lost track of my thoughts.

Wishing everyone a spectacular 7th month of 2013! The years seem to fly by faster and faster as time progresses but we're only half way through this one... I'll just pretend it's moving along slowly.

Today's lovely: My son's smile upon walking in the front door after work. He's such a tremendous blessing and just melts my heart every single time I look at him.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Let the Explosions Begin

It is July.

On the downside I had to borrow some money from my sister. Either that or take out a crazy huge cash advance. And Independence day is quickly approaching which means I won't be getting much sleep for awhile (my neighbors get CRAZY with fireworks). Lack of sleep makes it seem like the sky is falling, doom and gloom and more doom. And of course the fireworks make is sound like the sky is falling. I have grown to HATE fireworks with a passion.

On the upside my sister is really sweet and I can finally rest assured that my bank account will not be in the negative all month (I know they don't allow that). We just switched our cable/phone/internet provider and will be saving $25 a month with that. It looks like my husband will be using his remaining vacation days for this year during his two days off each week (Until the end of August when his vacation renews). That should catch up the loss in hours I've been experiencing at work pretty fast. Seriously finances and me are like a roller coaster: wee, I'm doing great... woooah, where did all our income go...

I'm having one of those back to basics moments. There are all these little things that I've let slip since my income has dropped some. I really need to focus, focus, FOCUS!

For July
I want to get some money into the emergency fund. I don't care if it's $10, I just want to put something in there.
I want to pay ALL of our bills on time. I've been paying them all but I've also been paying them all late. Not this month!
I want to use cash to pay for things... not sure when I stopped doing this but it's really imperative to sticking to budget.
I want to at least remind my husband regularly to stick to his spending cash.
I want to stick to the budget. I've written up a zero based budget for the month. I'm expecting some extra with my husband's vacation days but I plan to split that between paying back my sister and getting some cash into the emergency fund. Sticking to the budget will just take work, planning, and determination.

Lets get to work!

Today's lovely: I passed by a lemonade stand with three little kids at it. Its not too often that you see lemonade stands anymore with the FDA outlawing them and what not... I'm not sure about Michigan laws but I do know many of our laws are more strict than other states. It was a truly refreshing sight. I so wish I had stopped. I might check back tomorrow and see if they're still there. Lovely!