Work

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This blog serves as digital documentation (for the entire world to read, if they so desire) of our journey toward living a debt-free life. So far, our journey has been incredibly challenging, but completely rewarding.

We started off our journey to financial freedom when my husband and I were both working as teachers, living in a very nice middle class suburban home, with the ability to basically spend our money however we wanted. Over time, we have learned to more fully surrender our lives to Jesus and through that we made a series of pretty radical life-altering decisions.

First, I stopped working. Not necessarily by choice. I had a rough year during my second year of teaching and was unable to find another teaching job due to my performance evaluation. Something I was truly ashamed of a few years ago, but Jesus has brought healing from both that situation and also healing of my perfectionist/performance drive, so now I can share that with you all without feeling like a failure as I once did.

A few months later, the Lord shared that we needed to sell our house and move into Waco proper. We did that and have had some financial relief due to a much lower house payment.

Then, once we moved, Josh started working like crazy. When I say “like crazy” I really mean it. The photo up there talks about a second job. Well, Josh took a second job… And a third…. And a fourth… In addition to the volunteer work he does for the a/v team at church. Not to mention, being an amazing husband and father….

One of those jobs was pretty sporadic, but the other two extra jobs have been weekly gigs. My husband, in his support of me being a stay-at-home-mom, and in support of our desire to become debt-free, basically forfeited all days of rest for weeks and even months at a time. Not because his main job can’t support us. But because he is working hard so that we can live comfortably AND get out of debt more quickly.

I have also been waiting and praying for some way to earn extra money for us to speed along our debt payoff. I originally was hoping to utilize this blog to do so, but discovered that was not the direction I wanted this blog to go.

As I have continued to pray, we have received answers and are excited to have a few new opportunities to keep pressing forward.

Friends, it’s not easy. But it WILL be worth it. We make the sacrifices now so that later, we can live in financial FREEEEEEEDOOOOOOOM!

I am so looking forward to the day when I get to post on here that we are DEBT FREE!! Keep your eyes peeled, because it may be happening soon ūüėĀ

It’s been a while….

Well, I took an accidental two-week break. The last two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind at the Moore house. We went on a quick trip back to my hometown for 4th of July, and had a great time seeing family & celebrating the 4th.

For our trip, we budgeted $400. This was to include gas for the drive there and back, meals on the road, and a date night while we were there. We actually went $135 over budget, but for the first time in life, I wasn’t stressed about it at all!

There were two things that caused us to go over budget.

First, we paid for a dog-sitter. We usually have friends or family take care of our pups, but ended up finding a college student who was very sweet with our dogs who was able to come to the house a couple times a day to let the dogs out, play with them, and feed them. That was $50 well spent–the dogs didn’t have to be stressed about not being home for four days!

The other $85 was spent on a giving opportunity while we were there. Without going into too much detail, it was an opportunity to bless family and we felt led to do so.

Even though Dave Ramsey would probably be mad at us for going over budget, we feel like we did what was necessary and are content with our decision to do so. Big moment in the life of this crazy budget lady.

Hope you all had a great holiday! See you back here soon ūüôā

When Discouragement Rears Its Head

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Source: daveramsey.com

Disclaimer: I’m going to be pretty open with yall today. If you aren’t feeling hearing about Jesus, Dave Ramsey, or about how our we deal with discouragement in our family, then you will probably not want to continue. If you don’t have a problem with any¬†of those, then I strongly encourage you to read.

Just a quick bit of background info.  The debt we are currently paying on consists of my two student loans, a car loan, and our mortgage.  We set a goal recently to pay off one of my student loans (a very ambitious goal) by the end of 2014.  The way we have attempted to accomplish this goal is by paying all our bills and necessities, and then all extra income goes toward the debt.

Next.¬†¬†I’m going to sound like a complainer for a minute, but bear with me.

It seems that any time we start to make some headway on our debt payment, something happens to throw us off course. ¬†In January, our washing machine died. ¬†Thankfully we were able to purchase a new one and get a great deal! ¬†But then our entire kitchen went out of commission for about a week (no electricity or water… long story). ¬†Then Josh’s car needed a sizable repair. ¬†All within about a two week span. ¬†Thankfully, the Lord provided the means for us to pay for all of these things. ¬†I had just sold off a lot of inventory from a direct sales¬†job I decided to retire from. ¬†The plan was to put that money toward our debt… didn’t happen. ¬†We ended up using that money for the car repair, and then also using a large portion of our emergency fund.

We spent the next two months replenishing our emergency fund. ¬†When we finally did, we had a large chunk of money to put toward my student loan in April (yay!). ¬†Then the next month, we overdrew our account twice. ¬†I can’t even remember what happened… other than life. ¬†It took us the entire month of May to get back on track. ¬†I wasn’t able to pay any money on my loan for that month. ¬†Finally, it seemed like we were back on track for the month of June, and I could pay another large sum on my loan (yay again!) and then we got an estimate to trim our trees… ¬†$4000. ¬†No joke. ¬†Unfortunately, the tree trimming is a safety/insurance issue at this point, so it is absolutely necessary. ¬†The extra income we were going to put toward my loan seemed to once again be allocated for us.

I’m not going to lie. ¬†When things like this happen it is incredibly¬†discouraging. ¬†It is so easy to get mad, spend weeks or months getting frustrated, and just give up. ¬†I have actually wanted to do this multiple times. ¬†And yet, we have continued to make ends meet and slowly but surely pay down our debt.

This is how we have managed to do it.

1. ¬†We pray about it. ¬†When it seems like life is falling apart financially, we talk to the One who holds our future. ¬†God promises to provide for all our needs. ¬†We may not be able to accomplish all of our wants on our own personal timeline, but he is faithful to provide all our needs. ¬†This has obviously included monetary provision, but also it has been a provision of faith for us too. ¬†When we want to give up and stop trusting God, he always seems to speak in such a way that increases our faith. ¬†Most recently when I was praying about our finances (probably a month or more ago), He gave me the word “victory.” ¬†At the time I didn’t know what exactly he was speaking to, but now I know that He was speaking to our life in general. ¬†He has given us victory over our circumstances because we already have victory in Jesus. ¬†The verse that I was given was Psalm 118:14 “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”

2. ¬†We read the Bible. ¬†I believe that the Bible is the word of God and that it is true. ¬†When we face difficulty in life, we spend time (aside from our regular time with Jesus) reading the Bible. ¬†Lots of times, God will highlight a passage that speaks to our situation. ¬†Other times, I go back to the promises that I know he’s already spoken. ¬†This one is always helpful, particularly in times of financial crisis:

Matthew 6:25-34 ‚ÄúThat is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life‚ÄĒwhether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn‚Äôt life more than food, and your body more than clothing? ¬†Look at the birds. They don‚Äôt plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren‚Äôt you far more valuable to him than they are? ¬†Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? ¬†And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. ¬†They don‚Äôt work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. ¬†And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? ¬†So don‚Äôt worry about these things, saying, ‚ÄėWhat will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?‚Äô ¬†These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. ¬†Seek the Kingdom of God ¬†above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. ¬†So don‚Äôt worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today‚Äôs trouble is enough for today.”

3. We speak truth over our thoughts. ¬†When things get especially difficult, it is easy to let your mind wander and make things even worse. ¬†An example… “Nothing ever works out for us.” ¬† ¬†“This isn’t fair.” ¬†“Everyone else seems to have things work out just right.” ¬†Etc. ¬†When these kinds of things pop into my head, the first thing I do is to speak biblical truth over those kinds of destructive thoughts. ¬†The verse that has helped me through a whole lot of frustrating situations in life is Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. ¬†They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.” ¬†Sowing is hard, and we are definitely in the sowing season right now. ¬†But when we reap the harvest, it will be glorious!

4. We continue to give. ¬†Even in our need, we give to others. ¬†We may not have much to give, but that is always a non-negotiable in the budget. ¬†And we always give of our first fruits… aka, first thing that comes out of the budget¬†in the month is our tithe. ¬†Our¬†church gives the best, most thorough explanation on¬†why we give. ¬†If you don’t feel like reading all of that, the short of it is this: ¬†“So, the answer to our question, ‚ÄúWhy do we give?‚ÄĚ appears to be clear. All of it (our stuff) is all His anyways. We are His stewards and managers and even our ability to earn income and build assets is a gift from Him. We are blessed generously to the extent we give generously¬†and¬†He wants the needs of His house to be met.” ¬†Source: ¬†antiochcc.com

5. ¬†We remain diligent. ¬†It is so important that no matter what our circumstances, financial or otherwise, that we stay the course to meet our long-term goals. ¬†Giving up in times of frustration or discouragement will only push us back even further for when we finally get a grip and get back to it. ¬†We make the conscious decision every single day to be¬†diligent and to commit to our goal of financial freedom. ¬†It’s not easy, but it is absolutely necessary.

So that’s what we have done through our times of discouragement. ¬†This is specifically written about our financial woes, but absolutely 100% applies to all areas of life. ¬†I hope if you or your family is struggling that this can be an encouragement to you.

Please know if you ever have questions about any of the information above, please feel free to contact me and I would love to discuss this more in-depth with you.

p.s. we are getting another estimate on the trees ūüėČ

 

 

Summer Saving: New Cash Envelope System

For my first post in this series I wanted to share my new cash envelope system. If you are on a budget, I highly recommend you adopt a cash envelope system. I was resistant to it for a long time for two reasons:

1. Our bank is out of town and it’s inconvenient to have to use the ATM every time we need cash. ¬†Also, having to work it out so our cash is in multiples of 20s is kind of a pain.

And

2. I was certain I could demonstrate some amount of restraint with my debit card.

Which was untrue.

I believe we’ve already established that Mary and self-control generally don’t go in the same sentence (read my post about Walmart). Unless you’re saying Mary doesn’t have self-control. ¬†Anyway, recently I have realized the errors of my ways and have fully embraced the cash envelope system.

This system will help you save money this summer for one main reason: if you don’t have the cash to pay for something, you can’t buy it. That simple.

I’ve mentioned before about attending Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. During that class we learned about the importance of paying cash for everything you can. If you’d like to know more about this, click here.

I originally had a cash envelope system that was literally envelopes with cash in them. I was not a fan of this system because it felt disorganized just having a bunch of envelopes floating around. ¬†Also, I’m a bit haphazard at times and I just knew at some point the envelopes would tear, or get lost, I’d lose track of things, and every thing would come crashing down. So yesterday I revamped my cash envelope system and I am¬†already loving¬†it!

mini-accordion file

I bought this mini-accordion file a couple of years¬†ago for 98¬Ę. I had my own business at the time and was using it to organize my business-related purchases. ¬†Now¬†I keep my driver’s license, check book, our A+ card, coupons, and gift cards in the front, and I labeled the each of tabs with a sharpie marker for each of the¬†cash categories¬†in our budget.

cash envelope system

These categories include:

‚ÄĘgiving– currently revamping, but as of right now, this is for spontaneous giving, as well as gift giving (birthdays, etc.).

‚ÄĘgrocery– self-explanatory.

‚ÄĘgas– self-explanatory.

‚ÄĘhousehold– for items such as cleaning products, toilet paper, batteries, etc. Anything related to the household that is not edible.

‚ÄĘpets– for food, occasional treats and toys.

‚ÄĘentertainment– for family activities such as eating out, going to the zoo, etc.

‚ÄĘmiscellaneous– for those times when you just have to buy something that wasn’t in the budget. ¬†AKA our cash version of the emergency fund. It’s only $20.

‚ÄĘJosh
‚ÄĘMary
‚ÄĘJosiah

The last three are for purchases that we as individuals may need or want. For example, Josiah (our son) may need new socks.  Or I may just want to buy him books or a toy. These categories are our own spending money to use as we like.

In the past, when I’ve budgeted for these cash categories, I’ve used the debit card to pay for them. ¬†Unfortunately, it is wayyyyy too easy to go over budget with a debit card. ¬†“I know the money is there… I’m $2.50 over budget. ¬†I’ll make up for it somewhere else. ¬†No big deal.”

Dave Ramsey says, “While debit cards can’t get you directly into debt, if used carelessly, they can cause you to over-spend.¬†There’s something psychological about spending cash that hurts more than swiping a piece of plastic.¬†If spending cash whenever possible can become a habit, you’ll be less likely to over-spend or buy on impulse.” ¬†Source: daveramsey.com

If you’re not already using a cash envelope system, this may be your first step to saving this summer!!

Why I Don’t Shop at Walmart (and Places of the Like)

In my last post I mentioned that I only allow myself one purchase at Target, which is a big box of baby wipes every 2 months or so. I mean this very seriously when I say I don’t shop (read: don’t let myself shop) at these kinds of stores. To illustrate my point, I will share a story of my most recent trip to Walmart.

The week after Easter I was getting ready to go to the grocery store. I wasn’t actually planning a trip to the store this week (I usually go every 2 weeks), but due to an unfortunate misuse of the calculator on my iPhone, I actually ended up $30 under budget for that week. This may seem like a “win” but Dave Ramsey always says, the goal isn’t to be under budget; the goal is to allocate all your funds so you have a zero-balance in the bank, and then and use those funds accordingly. Also, we didn’t have any food because we already have a small food budget & just stretch it as far as possible every shopping trip. Needless to say I had to return to the store the following week.

My plan was to go to my usual HEB (if you live in Texas, you know the amazingness that I am referring to); however because of the way my errands worked out that day, I ended up on the Walmart side of town, and against my better judgment, decided to go there. So, with a $30 budget and a list of only $30 worth of groceries, I unintelligently entered The Store.

The following is an absolutely true and accurate depiction of my visit to Walmart.

Don’t judge me.

Walk in, grab a cart. Pull out list. “Oh I wonder if they have a tinted window sticky for the back seat. I’ll go over there before I do the grocery side.” Walk toward baby section. Pass the Dr. Pepper 12-packs in the middle on sale for $3!!! “Sweet, they’re $3.98 at HEB. I’m getting two.” Throw it in the cart.

Continue to baby section. Go by way of Easter candy sale aisle. “OMG. If they have Cadbury mini eggs on sale, I’m getting them.” Scrounge the aisles for 10 minutes. Find 2-lb bag. “No price tag? I don’t care. I love these. Besides, they can’t be more than like… 2 bucks.” Stop and tell lady in the aisle how much I love Cadbury mini eggs. “Yes, I know my baby is absolutely precious, thank you.” Proceed to add chocolate to my cart.

Continue onto baby aisle. Find tinted window sticky. “It’s only 5 bucks for two! Awesome deal!” Throw it in the cart. “Maybe I’ll see if they have a transitional sippy cup for Baby J.” Don’t find it, which is probably an act of God trying to keep me on track. “Ok, I came here for groceries. Get back to business woman.”

Return to grocery side of store. Get all the things on the list. Get to the meat section. “A three pound bag of frozen chicken for $8 or a 6 pound bag of frozen chicken for $12? Duh, I’m getting more chicken for less!” Throw it in the cart.

Look for ground beef. Decide this is the time to try ground turkey. “Oh look at this, a three pound package of ground turkey for $8! That’s wayyy cheaper than ground beef!” Throw it in the cart.

Wrap around to produce section. Decide as long as I’m there, I’ll get some fruits and veggies to make a new batch of purees for the munchkin, even if what I have will still last me a week or so.

“Apples for $1.27/lb, I’ll take 6.”

“We’ve been out of green beans for a while. I’ll get a pound and a half.”

“Oh these pears look good! I bet that will help with Baby’s constipation too. I’ll get 8 because I’m not sure how many ounces of food these will make.”

At this point, I realize I’m over budget and need to leave before I do any more damage. Walk toward registers. “Oh these avocados are on sale! He loves avocados and I haven’t given him any in a while. I’ll get 6.”

By the way, I can only buy produce in even numbers. I don’t know why.

“Ok, it is really time to leave. I don’t even know if I have the money on my debit to cover this.”

At this point, I finally made it to the register. Now, my budget was $30. I didn’t take cash because I was certain I could stick to my budget and I’m really smart like that.

The damage? $114 and some change. That’s right. I went almost EIGHTY FIVE DOLLARS over budget. None of the items I told you about were on my list. There were a few similar but less memorable moments that I didn’t share, but I think you get the picture. And by the way, the 2-lb bag of Cadbury mini eggs was $5 on sale from $10. ¬†Still feel like I got a deal on that…. Not.

And that, my friends, is why I don’t shop at Walmart.

The End.

saving{s} grace

Today marks¬†the start of my documenting our journey to financial freedom. ¬†We’ve actually been on this journey since the fall of 2011. ¬†My husband and I were both teachers here in Texas. ¬†For those of you who don’t know, people say¬†that teachers don’t make a lot of money (which is true), but when you are a young married couple with hardly any expenses, a two-income teacher salary is prettttttttttty nice. ¬†The only problem is we had no idea where our money went. ¬†We paid all our bills, bought groceries, went out to eat frequently (but who doesn’t?), bought stuff, but still couldn’t actually pinpoint how we spent our money. ¬†Clearly we were very irresponsible. ¬†And clearly it was time for a change.

So in August of 2011 we attended Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class that was offered at our church. ¬†Long story short, it has absolutely changed our lives. ¬†Over the course of that 12 week class (or however long it was…), we were able to accomplish Baby Step #1 ($1,000 emergency fund), plus get a head start on Baby Step #2 (pay all debts). ¬†As we continued to follow Dave Ramsey’s plan, we were all set to be completely debt free in May of 2013.

Of course, I’ve failed to mention thus¬†far that we follow Jesus first. ¬†That is the absolute number one priority in our marriage: ¬†to love and obey Jesus. ¬†And when you do this, the plans you make sometimes¬†have a way of changing… especially when you’ve surrendered the control you have over your own life to this crazy guy who promises life abundant if you just choose to trust him.

…back to my original story…

A lot happened between finishing FPU and finishing out that school year. ¬†I ended up resigning my position at the school I taught at, and trusting that another position that was made just for me would open up and all would be well again. ¬†But just in case, we skipped ahead to Baby Step #3 (3-6 months expenses¬†into¬†savings). ¬†As the summer progressed, I applied for… I don’t know… a hundred jobs? ¬†Just kidding. ¬†But it seemed like it. ¬†I had several interviews and after a few, I was certain I would be employed by the start of the next school year. ¬†Again, following Jesus. ¬†Again, plans changed. ¬†I never found a teaching job. ¬†I was thankful that we had saved 3-6 months of our expenses so that we could have a cushion, should the need arise.

And yes, the need arose. ¬†We found out in September of 2012 that I was pregnant. ¬†A complete surprise, but a welcome one! ¬†If you know me, you may be doing the math, thinking, “Wait she had her baby in September of 2013, why was she pregnant for a year?” ¬†Well, I wasn’t. ¬†The need for that 3-6 months of savings arose¬†because I ended up having a miscarriage. ¬†We went to the emergency room, not having any idea what to do as this was happening to my body and to our baby. ¬†We spent several hours in the ER all for the doctor to tell us¬†what we already knew was happening.

It kinda sucks to have to continue my story after that… ¬†But it is a part of our journey, and an important one. ¬†I laid around the house for a while, but on the 3rd day after this happened, I woke up and was overcome with a sense of peace. ¬†To this day I don’t understand how that happened, after only 3 days of grieving. ¬†But it did. Thank you Jesus.

As life started to move on, I found out I was pregnant again in January of 2013!  Again a welcome surprise, but this time I was full of fear.  We had drained our emergency fund, our 3-6 months of savings, I had no job, and my husband was exploring other options as far as his teaching career went.  It was a scary time, and that brings us to the present.

As our journey has continued, we are still committed to becoming debt free, although we had to take a several month hiatus. ¬†Now I am a stay at home mom, and we are a family of three (or five, if you count the pups) living on one¬†relatively-new teacher’s salary. ¬†We sold our house (and a lot of the stuff that was in it). ¬†We live a much simpler lifestyle now, which is why I have started this blog.

It sounds silly, but this is my passion… finding new ways to be frugal and get us closer to our goal of being debt free! ¬†I want to share our journey to financial freedom to inspire other families who may be doing the same thing.

I will be sharing how

  • we’ve cut our budget
  • we’ve saved money on groceries and other necessities
  • we’ve managed to establish a savings again
  • we make our own everything
  • we continue to give to our church and other causes/individuals
  • we continue to pay off debt on one modest income
  • and how we live a¬†much simpler, semi-urban lifestyle here in Waco, Texas.

Following Jesus first, and letting him establish our path to financial freedom.