How to Move Across the Country on a Budget

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Does the thought of moving scare you a bit? Do you start to think of the To-Do Lists, organizing, errands to drop off donations, the packing, packing, packing, and then not being able to find something you packed because you didn’t label EVERYTHING that was in the box? Well, and then there’s all the costs involved, let’s not even get started there! I will share with you the details of our move and how we survived.

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7 Steps to Kicking Debt in the Teeth-Dave Ramsey Style

7 Steps to Kicking Debt in the Teeth

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People are starting to realize that their monthly payments are eating them alive. Many people are getting that sick feeling that if something bad happens (and it will) that all will be lost. They are starting to decide that their lives need to change but they just don’t know where to start. This post is for you who want to start. I want to give you some motivation and some direction.

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A Lesson in Perspectives-Debt Free Puzzle: March 2017

Debt Free Puzzle: March 2017

Instagram Post:

I had better get this out before it gets much later in the month! Our debt journey for March has been a ride, to say the least. We had very high expectations that were dashed pretty low. I am working on a blog post to share more of those details. But in all, we are still on track & we took off 3 more pieces to our puzzle! This last loan is going to give me gray hair as I wait for it to be gone out of our lives! #debtfreejourney # thisisexhausting #financialfreedomisworthit #keepingon

My husband and I are on a Debt Free Journey to pay off $94,000 of student loans. We created a puzzle to help us keep track of our progress (because a thermometer tracker just wasn’t good enough for the graphic designer in this family.) Each piece is equal to about $200. We took off 30 out of the 500 pieces before we started to equal our $94,000 worth of debt. Each month we post an update on Instagram and Facebook of how many pieces we took off or what our thoughts are on this journey. Because I share this on Instagram, my updates are short and sweet so I am going to start sharing them on our blog as well and give a few insider stories to our journey as well!

Our reward is a trip to Iceland. The picture underneath the puzzle slowly reveals a collage of Iceland to help us stay focused and encouraged on our journey-there is a goal and reward after all this sacrifice!

 A Lesson in Perspectives.

This month started out super strong! We received tax refunds, I worked extra hours, and we were pinching pennies like maniacs. We were really hoping and expecting to pay off a boat load of debt for March! Our end goal was coming soooo close and we were thinking that we could beat our goal deadline!

Yes, I am using past tense because none of that really happened. Well, we did receive tax refunds, work extra hours and pinch pennies like maniacs but it didn’t exactly turn out the way we expected.

I’m going to get real and put numbers out there, which I don’t normally do, but I need to express how life hit us this month.

Things Were Good!

  • I worked extra hours and received $700 more than I usually do
  • We received a larger amount of tax refunds due to our move last fall. It was about $2400
  • We were planning on putting $4000 for our March payment!
  • It would have gotten us in the single digits of our debt
  • We were going to be debt free by Summer rather than late Fall

 

The Downhill Part

  • A random bill came in that used up $2250 of our extra earnings.
  • Turns out that we need a State Inspection of our cars- that used up another $1550
  • Both of us traveled for the first part of April. We fund our trips with cash and everything is paid from the month before.

Expectations

Expectations can be real killers. Everyone expects something out of someone or something. I expect my phone to work and the battery to not die every hour. I expect to eat every day. I expect my cat to be cute. Those expectations, though mostly valid, can really rock our world sometimes. If things go opposite of what we expected, it’s hard to deal with the damage.

Our March expectations were to be 3 months away from DEBT FREE. We expected to pay off $4000 and be around the $6500 mark in debt. We were very excited and anxiously awaiting the end of the month so that we could pay off more of our debt, post our picture, and shout to the world how ecstatic we were with our progress!

Then, one fateful day, that all changed. (Yes, I’m being overly dramatic, I know.) First, I was pulled over and asked why I didn’t have a State Inspection sticker on my windshield. Thoroughly confused, I was able to get off with a warning to go get this procedure done. It turns out that Virginia makes you repair your car to a certain standard every year to ensure that it is road-worthy. While I admire that to some (very) small extent, I really don’t like the regulation aspect and the fact that I had to pour $1550 into our vehicles just to be registered in Virginia! We both have “beater” cars, I have 235,000 miles on my car, and we are planning to run them into the ground. I don’t want to spend money on my piece of junk vehicle!

Next, we received a very large bill that basically negated all of our tax refunds. We waited so long for those refunds! Well, we anxiously awaited them so it seemed like forever. And it was just gone in one second.

Lastly, although some of this was planned, we both ended up traveling for the first week of April. Hubby had a work trip so that was mostly paid for, but I drove to Michigan and needed gas and hotel money. It wasn’t a huge expense, but it certainly added to our dismal month.

Choices

I’m sure this post is a real downer right now. What I want my point about this post to be is a look at choices and perspectives. Now I gave you the real downer side of the story. I will admit, I still really feel down and depressed about this situation, but there is a positive side here. I promise.

Imagine we had a normal month with no extra income, no refunds, and no extra anything. Our expectations wouldn’t have been up, yes, but those bills would still have come in.

I would have still been pulled over and expected to dish out $1550 to repair our vehicles.

That bill would have still come in and expected us to dish out $2550.

I probably would have still gone on my road trip. (You may think I should have stayed home, but it was legit, I promise.)

So we would have still ended up paying $4400 but we wouldn’t have received the income from the taxes or extra hours. We would have been stuck. Possibly, gone back into debt because our emergency fund is only $1000 and we needed $4000!

In the end, God protected us. He allowed our refunds and my extra hours to show up in the month that He knew we needed it the most. He protected us financially in our desperately long journey and prevented us from going backwards. Sure we didn’t go forward much. Certainly not as much as we expected but still, we didn’t go backward.

We were faced with a choice: do we get mad and upset about the lack of progress or do we thank God that He protected us and provided for us so perfectly? I will admit, I mourned the “loss” of what we could have had, but I have been thanking Him for days now that He did so perfectly protect us.

What about you? Have you had a wake up call when it comes to perspectives? Please, share your story!

 

 

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Grocery Savings When You Only Buy Organic

Grocery Savings When You Only Buy Organic Grocery Savings When You Only Buy Organic

Grocery savings buying organic seems like an oxymoron, right?

I’ll tell you right now-you will still spend more than if you are buying pesticide riddled, GMO, fake food. But, there is a way to do it within a budget!

Why organic

Let’s first talk about why organic is important. I’m sure most of you already know the blessing of organic since you’re reading this-but let’s go over the basics.

  • Pesticides lead to diseases, ADHD, mental illness, growth defects
  • GMO foods change your body chemistry and hormones
  • Dyes and food coloring can change temperaments, cause bi-polar and schizophrenia
  • Chemicals are not okay to add to our foods and consume. Many of the things we consume are too toxic to be put on our bodies much less in our mouths and digestive system. Read this Purdue University Research!

Grocery Savings When you Only Buy Organic

  1. Meal Planning is going to be your best friend.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been very difficult for me to do the whole meal planning thing. But you can’t save money when you buy random things every week. I started out planning each week and then moving to two weeks and now 4 weeks at a time. I would prefer to do a major shopping trip once a month, freeze most of my purchases, and run in the store every so often if I need fresh veggies or forgot something.

Again, I had a hard time figuring this all out. I don’t know why it was such a road block for me but I came up with a list of 100 foods that we really liked and were relatively inexpensive and easy for me to make. Cuz’ we all know that Jacynda does not belong in the kitchen! I have a simple Excel spreadsheet that I write all the recipes on that I want to do for the month and list the ingredien

ts that are not currently in my pantry. I rarely ever follow the list perfectly but I have all the ingredients and a “fool proof” plan to go with.

  1. Use the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen Principle

It’s easy to go overboard on organic everything but when you’re budgeting, there are

some sacrifices you have to pay. Do you need organic nuts? Maybe not. I suggest you get organic canned tomatoes if you don’t buy fresh and can them yourself. This list was created and maintained by EWG (Environmental Working Group) and you can find more about them here!

How do you Follow the Deadly 12 and Clean 15?

The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and veggies that contain the most pesticides and are more liable to contaminate you and your family. Why is that? Most of these foods have soft skins and the pesticides/chemicals soak into the entire fruit rather than just sitting on the outer layer and keeping bugs away. Strawberries are some of the most pesticide contaminated foods. Just think of soft foods and always buy organic with those items. (Dare I add, those of you with super tight budgets, attempt to avoid these foods altogether until you are able to afford them organic? Extremist? Yeah, I know.)

The Clean Fifteen are foods that have a harder outer layer and don’t allow pesticides to soak into the food. These foods may also not need as many pesticides due to the bugs and plights that bother them. Avocados, pineapple, and onions are examples of Clean Fifteen foods that you don’t have to buy organic.

So how does this work within a budget?

Well, you first determine your budget, and then look at the prices of those fruits and veggies you need. Like I mentioned before, if you have a tight budget, avoid strawberries-especially when they aren’t in season! Buy organic frozen strawberries instead. If you can afford to buy everything organic, then do it! Organic is always better. It just may not always fit into the budget.

How do you keep track of the right veggies to buy? It can be quite confusing and it is going to be more time-consuming. Sorry, doing a budget and getting out of debt or reaching your financial goals is going to be time-consuming. I highly suggest you download the Dirty Dozen app that EWG created. They keep the list updated and it’s easy to bring up while you’re in the grocery store (if you’re like me and usually forget to look that up when you are meal planning.)

  1. Buy frozen foods instead of fresh

Fresh is always better; yes, I know. But fresh is always more expensive too!

The hubby and I drink smoothies for breakfast every weekday. We go to Costco and buy frozen fruit in bulk, package them when we get home and are set for the month. We can get 20-30 shakes out of 3 bags of fruit. These are 3lb-5lb bags, mind you, so they last a long time! But getting 20-30 meals spending around $20? Yes, please!

Make slow cooker meals out of frozen items. I have had a great time finding slow cooker meals and freezing it all! I love that I can do a ton of prep and not worry about putting it all together on the day of that meal. It’s making my life so much easier!

  1. Coupons

I haven’t had good luck with coupons. If you are an amazing couponer-please share your secrets! There aren’t many coupons for organic foods. I also tend to forget to use my coupons- o

n’t know why but it’s a serious problem for me. They also make my wallet bulky or clog up my purse. The only thing I have found to work is an app called Ibotta.

Ibotta has coupons for name brand items-most of which I never buy, but it also has coupons for generic foods. Not generic brands, but bananas, bread, milk, and such. You can buy any brand you want and you will still qualify for the discount. So, buy your organic bananas and receive cash back! This doesn’t give you a discount at checkout. It adds up your savings and gives you cash or gift cards

  1. Discuss the Budget with your Spouse

Groceries are the thing my husband and I argue about the most. Ridiculous, right? We fight about groceries! Here’s why: he is more concerned about buying organic than saving money. I am more concerned about saving money than buying organic. We have compromised in many areas and I have threatened to leave all the shopping, prepping, and cooking to him if he complains anymore but I think that’s an empty threat at this point.

If your spouse doesn’t care what he eats as long as it’s food and it’s good…I’m so jealous. That will be an easier adjustment for you with meal planning and all these decisions!

If your spouse is very conscious of what goes into his body, good luck to you! Sit and discuss what your expectations for the budget should be and how you can work around his preferences. You will both have to give up certain areas, but that’s what budgeting is all about!

If Nothing Else

Be mindful of what you’re eating, of what you’re buying, and how much you spend. This is so important health and finances. Maybe your grocery budget will always be too high and you just can’t control it, that’s okay. Give yourself some grace and see if you can tighten the budget in other areas. Either way, I highly encourage you to be mindful of what you are eating and how that will affect your health and your finances.

Grocery Savings When You Only Buy Organic

Please share some of your secrets to grocery savings when buying organic!

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Debt Free Puzzle September 2015

Debt Free Puzzle: September 2015

My husband and I are on a Debt Free Journey to pay off $94,000 of student loans. We created a puzzle to help us keep track of our progress-because a thermometer tracker just wasn’t good enough for the graphic designer in this family…

  • Each piece is equal to about $200.
  • We took off 30 out of the 500 pieces before we started to equal our $94,000 worth of debt.

Each month we post an update on Instagram and Facebook depicting how many pieces we took off or what our thoughts are on this journey. Because I share this on Instagram, my updates are short and sweet so I am going to start sharing them on our blog as well and give a few insider stories to our journey as well!

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Thanksgiving Turkey Alternatives

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Some of you might be saying, “Wow, how could you possibly replace Thanksgiving turkey? It’s TRADITION!”

Well, I’m here to admit to you that this year will be my first year to be “in charge” of making a Thanksgiving meal, and I DO NOT look forward to the ever-tricky turkey cooking. In fact, I’m planning on avoiding it all together!

You may send as much hate mail as you’d like. (Actually please don’t, it’ll hurt my heart either way.)

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How to Make a Cheap Tomato Cage Christmas Tree

Easy cheap tomato cage christmas tree

I do love Christmas. Now that we are living away from all of our family, I have decided to push the Christmas traditions a bit more in order to feel like I am really still with the family. Weird? Maybe, but it makes me feel better! You have to have a tree, and I decided on making a cheap tomato cage Christmas tree for our frugal Christmas!

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Beans and Rice Recipes: Banana Pancakes

 

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Banana Pancakes. Hmm…

Today I’m sharing the 2nd of my favorite Beans and Rice Recipes! Dave Ramsey always says, “Beans and rice, rice and beans!” So, true to form, I did my best to find some recipes that I could make as cheaply as possible and gluten free to boot! If you are like me and want to pay off a mountain of debt ($94,000 for us-ugh) I think you will like these tasty, healthy recipes! If you have some you’d like to share, I’d love more ideas! Please share your recipe below!

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4 Steps to Set Up a Christmas Budget with Family Members

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Christmas is a time of joy, cookies, wrapping gifts and making memories. It’s a time to spend with family and friends! It’s also a time of chaos, spending, and stress. More often than not, we try to ignore the stress part of Christmas and enjoy the holiday to the best of our ability. The only way to reduce that stress is to address the problem and come up with solutions. My solution is a Family Christmas Budget.

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Beans and Rice Recipes: Bean Burgers

bean-burgersBean burgers have been my go-to for many years. It’s an easy, cheap, and nutritious way to have a fast meal.

If you follow Dave Ramsey at all, one of the things he repeats is, “Beans and rice, rice and beans.” He encourages people to cut their budget in so many ways and food is something that we can control easily. So, if we are going to only eat “Beans and rice, rice and beans,” how do we do that healthily? That’s what I plan to tackle with this series of recipes.

These are some tried and true recipes that I have been implementing into our lives as we live a life of frugality and pay off $94,000 in debt! I’m always looking for more recipes so share your Beans and Rice Recipes with us below!

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How to Make a Fall Wreath

how-to-make-a-fall-wreathThe pumpkin spice, the crunchy leaves, the crisp clear air all puts me into the crafting mood! Since we just moved into a new house and I purged the majority of my decorations, I decided that our door needed something special this fall. What better than a simple leafy fall wreath?

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