Friday, December 8, 2017

Frugal Friday 222

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- I had an Usborne party and Mark worked at both of his part time jobs.

- Mperks at Meijer had a FREE Hot Wheels car in our online coupons. We were very excited as this is Owen's current favorite thing!

- My sister came to visit from last Thursday to Sunday. We enjoyed taking her to lots of our favorite local places - the library, the Johnson County Museum of History, downtown Franklin to some of our favorite shops and for the holiday lighting, and even to Kroger to enjoy lunch there (one of our kids favorite activities!) We enjoyed local meals at Greek's Pizza and Tom's Pancake House. Our favorite thing was the Live Nativity downtown - we didn't even know it was there! Everyone loved seeing the live animals and especially the very loud camel!

Owen loved petting this little baby goat
 In the auditorium at the Johnson County Museum of History,
local organizations have decorated trees that the public can vote on.
The winner will receive a grant.
Annabeth chose the Magic Schoolbus tree by the Friends of JCPL. 

- Mark and I attended the Johnson County Republican Women's Christmas Dinner. Thank you to Kirby Cochran for Sheriff for our tickets. We had a lovely dinner and enjoyed seeing the installation of the new officers for the next two years.

We are proud to support local Republicans and are thankful
for their conservative leadership. 

- Our friend Kelley brought over some great homeschool supplies for Annabeth. They are for 2nd-4th(ish) grades so I enjoyed looking through them and plan to store them to use in the years to come. She also brought some fun activity books - I kept some and we added some to the collection we have going for The Cheer Guild at Riley Children's Hospital.

- Last month, I created the event page for our annual junk exchange. I started it about 60 days out to give people time to clean out their items before coming. I set a goal for me to put at least one item in the "Junk Tote" every day before the party.

- Last night the kids and I went to a Storytime with Mrs. Claus at the library. Annabeth enjoyed hearing her library lady friend Miss Heather read lots of stories and Owen enjoyed running around the lobby. We drove through the Masonic Home's Light Show on the way home.

- Mark stayed home from the library because our dryer broke yesterday. Annabeth and I cleaned out the lint trap and hose yesterday afternoon but that was not the issue. Mark took it apart and found the problem. I am so thankful for a problem solving man! We are very thankful for a $100ish dollar fix vs a new dryer.

We have 6 events this weekend and I am excited to celebrate the Christmas season and three special friend's birthdays!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Frugal Friday 221

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/made extra money/spent money wisely:

- We avoided Black Friday shopping.

- Annabeth earned her first Book-It award last month. Our local Pizza Hut had poor reviews from friends and online so we waited until we were visiting my family to go. We redeemed her free personal pan pizza on an outing with my parents, sister, and Momaw.

 Thankful that Pizza Hut still offers book-it!
I loved getting my free little pizzas as a kid.
Annabeth ended up not actually liking the pizza but she did like
the salad bar!
It still amazes me that she is in 1st grade!
Where is my Nanners Baby?

- My sister and I had a night out together! We had dinner at Manna, shopped at Barnes and Noble (I combined a gift card, store sale, and my educator's discount) and spent just $13 on three books for the kids.

- Mark stayed back from Evansville and worked a couple of shifts over the holiday weekend. He also spent time building and installing storage shelves in our garage. He has been wanting to do this project for years and we finally saved the time and money to get it done. We spent this week organizing everything and condensing, throwing away, or giving away tons of stuff in our garage. It feels so good to have this huge project tackeled!

- I watched a deal on two items for Annabeth over the holiday weekend. I came out way ahead on Monday with each item more than 60% off plus free shipping! Success! Saved: $44

- Annabeth needs new/gusseted garmet bags for dance this year since her costumes are longer and fluffier than in the past. I found a great deal on Cyber Monday and got free shipping. Saved: $15.99

- I forgot to click my Ebates button when I bought Annabeth's dance things. I was not happy with myself since the store had 8% cashback for Cyber Monday. I messaged Ebates, hoping maybe they would still give me the cashback, and **shockingly** they did! Made: $2.88

- Annabeth received a bag of hand-me-downs from her friend Gwen. We sent on a bag of hand-me-downs to our friend Aubree. We love giving and receiving clothes this way!

We had a great week and spent tons of time outside enjoying this unusually warm late fall weather! We are looking forward to a fun weekend with my sister in town and even a bit of a date night on Sunday!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Frugal Friday 220

Happy Frugal Friday!
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!
We are so thankful for ALL OF YOU!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wise/made extra money this week:

- Last Friday, we all went to the Superhero Academy at our library. The kids listened to superhero stories and then made arm-bands, masks, and capes to be their own superheroes. We enjoyed the library computers and toys after as well.

Annabeth was making superhero arm-bands
and Owen was pouring glue on the table. 

- Mark worked a shift at his part time job and I had an Usborne Book Party.

- My best-friend is expecting a baby, due in February, and has already been asked to do modified bed-rest. Last Saturday, Mark kept our kids home and I drove down to her house to help clean, run errands, and I made lunch/leftovers for dinner. She is a friend who has always been there for me and it was such a blessing to be there for her!

- Sunday, Mark helped a friend move. They treated him to dinner as a thank-you.

- Annabeth went to a birthday party Sunday afternoon. They played group games and made crafts. She had a great time! Owen and I spent the afternoon cleaning out the school room. We were able to get rid of a whole tote of paper.

- Our friends Jeanette and Audrey came to play on Monday. Jeanette had borrow a pie pan and returned it with homemade donuts! Thank you!

- I receieved a check from Ebates. I added it to our extra mortgage payment :)

- A friend was over and our girls were playing Dominos. She mentioned wanting to get some. I said, "No! We have extra." I gave them a set out of our gift tote. Last Christmas, Annabeth got three sets and we already had two so I have just been keeping them around waiting to give them to someone.

- Mark and his brother Matt hunted this week. They did not see any deer but I think they had a good time together anyway. Mark is hoping to head out more between work the next few weeks.

- The kids made free Thanksgiving crafts at the library and at dance class this week. Annabeth is almost past wanting to make the cutesy turkeys so I was thankful for one more year of them!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with the Rileys yesterday and are looking forward to a weekend with more family time.

Happy Savings to All!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Big, Scary 2018 Financial Goal

When Mark and I first married, he was 21 and I was 22. I was one year out of college and he was about 2 weeks out of college. We were young and living on love...and nearly $25,000 in student loan debt.

We made a plan, a firm plan, and we rocked it! Less than 2.5 years later we had paid off ALL of our student loans and purchased our first house. Here is my 7 Days of Dave series that gives the details.  We bought our current home in 2013 and we did a 30 year-mortgage because I was not working at all and we feared the bigger payment with a 15 year mortgage. We did verbally commit to each other that we wanted to shoot for that 15 year mark! Well, 4.5 years have gone by and we have not made many significant strides on our mortgage beyond our monthly payments. We have no new debt and have purchased different vehicles, two washing machines, a dishwasher, and spent nearly $15,000 in medical bills. We are happy that we are still debt free and that we have adjusted our budget time and time again to stay debt-free.

Last summer, when I started with Usborne Books & More my initial goal was that my paychecks would just go to put money on the principal of our mortgage. Then we had four eye exams, three ER visits, a flooded kitchen, a new dishwasher, an immediate care visit. My book money covered 80% of that! I still haven't made an extra payment on our house BUT we were able to cover so many things without even touching our savings!


A few months ago a certain number kept popping in my head. Over and over again. I started seeing it in my dreams. I would think of it 10-15 times a day. I began praying on it and the more I prayed the more it felt like where God was leading me.

Over the weekend, I read Money Problems, Marriage Solutions by Chuck and Ann Bentley. I won this book on my blog friend Abbi's blog - Proverbs 31 Living (If you love homemaking, homesteading, homeschooling, blogs hers is one to follow! I have been reading and enjoying her blog for years now!) Thank you Abbi for this great book!

Last night, Mark was out helping a friend move and the kids were in bed so I wrote the number down. I spent about 30 minutes doing math and figuring out how to get what we owe on our house down to that number. My goal date is 12.31.18. Poor Mark came home and I said, "Guess what I want to do next year?!"

The goal feels scary - we'll be making almost a double payment every month (with the second, extra going to the principal) but with book money and extra money from babysitting, sales, etc it's totally do-able!
The goal feels uncomfortable - we are going to have to edit some parts of how we live. We're going to have to choose the house money over pizza money. We're going to have to go without a few of our fun purchases.
The goal feels like a stretch - while it's completely attainable with dedication we haven't made a goal this big since I was working part-time.

We will not compromise:
Our health - we will continue to go to all medical and dental appointments. We will also continue to buy fresh fruits/veggies and organic meats.
The children's education - if it is something they need for learning we will continue to give them 100% of those experiences.

We will compromise:
Our fun stuff. Maybe we don't need every camping item or pair of shoes that we love.
Eating-out. We are working every month to get better and better about not relying on conveniences like a quick meal out.

I do not plan on making this into a series but just wanted to share this here as an encouragement to others. I do plan to update a couple of times over the course of next year and will update at the end of next December to let you know how we achieved this goal!
What big financial goal can you make for your 2018? What debt can you eliminate?

Join us as we prayerfully strive to, "owe no man anything but love." Romans 13:8 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Frugal Friday 219

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- I had two Usborne book parties and Mark worked a shift at his part time job.

- I cut both Annabeth and Owen's hair at home.

- We took a quick weekend trip to Cinncinnati for a cousin's wedding. We drove over Saturday after lunch and spent the afternoon at Pogo Play (just $15 for all 4 of us!) We checked into our hotel and then met up with Mark's immediate family for a dinner out. We split the cost of dinner with everyone so it was fairly affordable and a good time together. Sunday, we spent the morning at the hotel visiting and relaxing with the family. Then the four of us went to Bass Pro. The kids loved it! They enjoyed watching the fish, looking at all of the outdoor gear, and it was the Welcome Santa day so they had tables of blocks and sand to play with and free crafts. We went to the wedding Saturday afternoon at Niederman Family Farm which was just beautiful! We drove back a llloonnnggg way since we accidently programmed the GPS to "avoid highways." We had a nice 36 hour trip and it was much appreciated, dare I say needed, time away to relax!

It was Mr. O's first trip to Ohio - his 6th new state this year!
We thought he looked so sweet with his digger in his hands while he slept. 

- I had a Starbucks giftcard. When Annabeth and I went to use it, we really lucked out! We went on one of the buy one, get one free days and so we paid for just one of her cake-pops and got the second free. Then, they messed up my drink order so I also ended up getting the mess-up free! 

- Annabeth outgrew her Style sweatshirt. We were able to sell it to a smaller girl at the studio. Made: $5

- I paid a hospital bill that hadn't come yet. I had seen what we owed on our October insurance statement. I have waited for the bill to come but I HATE owing people money! I called Wednesday morning to pay the bill in full. This bill was paid entirely with Usborne commission money! Thank you to everyone who supports my book business - it has been such a finanacial blessing in this year of 3 ER trips!

- Wednesday we went to our once-a-month Homeschool Preschool Storytime for Owen. We really enjoy meeting with this group and Miss Kelley always has such fun crafts and lessons for the kids. This month we made a wreath of thanks and also brought home a snack for each of the kids.

- We handeded-down a pair of very expensive toddler boots to a family at dance. They were handed down to us but Annabeth refused to wear them (they are grey and she doesn't like grey) and Owen had difficulty walking in them as they are soft and didn't have the foot support he likes from his tennis shoes. These boots were a very expensive name-brand and I didn't want to just send them to Goodwill. I asked around until I found a family who could use them this winter.

We had a good week and are looking forward to a fun weekend - we are each headed different directions to help friends with projects and we feel so blessed to have the time to do that! Mark is also looking forward to the beginning of hunting season.

Happy Savings to All!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Matilda Jane Sale Review

Last Friday, Annabeth and I headed up to Ft Wayne (a 3ish hour drive) for the Matilda Jane Sale.

Let me begin with - I love LOVE LOVE Matilda Jane clothes! I have been searching consignment sales and stores for this brand since Annabeth was a baby. (My best deal ever was a pair of Platinum Ruffle Pants for $6!) There is always a few items at our local consignment sale but I have to really love them to pay $20+ for one item. Recently, I have scored three pieces on Zulily at great prices (determined to be great based on what I think I can resell them for) Then...someone shared this Matilda Jane Sale on Facebook. (Thanks Monika!) I messaged and asked her if she had been and what she thought. Her positive review meant I "needed" to go to this sale.

Annabeth and I drove up in the morning. The sale ran from 9-3 on Friday so I planned to get there around 11 hoping the first wave of people would be done, no line, and that maybe ladies would be heading out to lunch. I was shocked to find a fairly empty parking lot, no line, and a huge room at the coliseum no more crowded than our local grocery store. There was not any pushing or shoving or craziness! I was honestly so shocked! I have more issues with crowding and pushing on a Tuesday at Once Upon a Child!

Everything was really well organized! They had everything organized by: Baby, Girls, Tweens, Womens, Home, Holiday, and Accessories. The Platinums were all in their own area and then organized the same way. For each section they had huge signs with the pricing and all like-items in the same sizes were priced the same. Example: Girls: Pants: $10. I was pleased that it wasn't done by individual print or style so it made it very easy to keep track in my head as Annabeth shoved things in the bag. Each set of tables had a display rack showing all of the items on that table, then on each table were boxes (organized 100% by size) of the items in their original packaging. It was super easy to find everything!

We ended up bringing home 8 items for what I would pay for 2 dresses retail!
We got four shirts (all different sleeve lengths), 1 dress, 1 jacket, 1 headband, and 1 overnight bag.

What did I not love?
I wish, wish, wish there had been more dresses!! There were tons of sweet little tops but I didn't see very many of the dresses that I really love from Matilda Jane. Annabeth did get the one dress, a purple one that she fell in love with right away!
I also wish it had been a bit more organized as far as coordinating tops and bottoms. A friend got one of the shirts that I got for Annabeth and she found matching leggings. I missed the leggings and they were really cute!

What was pricing like?
Since we shopped girls I can only give the girls pricing:
Pants/Skirts/Capris: $10
PJs: $10
Tops: $15
Dresses/Rompers: $20
Jackets: $20
Tights/Hair Accessories: $5

Will I go again?
Absolutely! Annabeth and I had so much fun! Half of her items fit now and the other half we bought big to get us through until the next sale. Annabeth is very specific about what she wears - she has a lot of opinions about cut, colors, texture. I love watching her love what she loves - and loving that she got her fashion sense from my super creative and stylish sister!

Heading into the sale with my Nanners Girl.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Frugal Friday 218

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- I hosted my Usborne Books Holiday Open house, had two Usborne parties, one album sale, and received my October bonus! Mark worked a shift at his part-time job.

- I used my October bonus to buy the last item for the kids for Christmas. The toy that Annabeth wants is on sale + a friend told me how to get an extra 25% off. It shipped free so I didn't even have to drive to Greenwood to get it! I also shopped through eBates for 1% cashback.

- We made cupcakes for an event last Friday and sent leftovers home with friends.

- Saturday I went to the Downtown Franklin Open House with my best friend. We had a great morning talking and shopping local. We were even treated to a FREE tea from a nice man behind us in line at Benjamin's.

- Sunday I hosted my Usborne Holiday Open House. I came very close to my sales goal for the day which was exicting since it was my first live event! I made lots of treats for the day and sent the leftover cookies to work with Mark for his co-workers to enjoy.

- I put up a small Christmas tree for our Open House and since the kids' Christmas outfits are already here I went ahead and made Christmas pictures. I ordered cards using a 50% off code.
***I have been making photo holiday cards since Annabeth was born and every year I do the 100 for $15 Black Friday Deal from Sam's Club. This year, we don't have a Sam's Club Membership so to get the good deal on the cards, I would have to buy the membership as well. It was more cost effective to order cards at a slightly higher cost than usual***

- I sold a leotard at Annabeth's dance school. They credited our account. Made: $5

- Annabeth needs a certain style of tap shoe to compete with. We lucked out and a classmate had some to hand down to her for competitions! Thank you to Raegan and her mom!

- I listed three items for sale on Facebook.

- We deep cleaned Annabeth's room and she parted with a whole box of toys! I was really surprised as she carefully picked a ton of toys to get rid of! Some were little McDonald's type toys but also some larger stuffed animals!

- We made a quick trip to Meijer. The store mailed us some AWESOME coupons (all on items we buy on nearly every trip so I am guessing they track it through our mPerks) We got FREE dish soap and some great deals on other items. I also found some pumpkin nutrigrain bars on the clearance for $.89/box of 8 bars. We bought all they had and will donate them for the Meal Bags. It doesn't have to break your budget to bless others!

This is an old picture that Mark took of Annabeth on a hike last year.
I stumbled across it this week and was reminded of how much I loved it!

We are looking forward to a really, really fun weekend! Can't wait to share about it next week!

Happy Savings to All!