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!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Frugal Friday 217

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked overtime at his main job as well as a shift at his part-time job. I had two Usborne book parties and closed out my holiday book box orders.

- Two weeks ago we sold Mark's truck. We bought it two years ago and it ended up being a far bigger project than we are responsibly ready to take on at this time. Mark worked extra shifts and used his birthday/Christmas gifts and money to buy parts and pay for labor on the things he couldn't do but it was just becoming far more than we needed to put into it. We orginally listed it for sale in July and it took until this month to sell. Mark was very sad to see it go but it was the right, responsible choice for our family. We earned enough to match what we spent on the new family car and were refunded the remainder of what we had paid in insurance for the year. We will add that refund to our savings account.

- We took advantage of Open Gym on Saturday morning and took Annabeth to an extra gymnastics class this weekend. We have had pretty busy Saturdays so this was the first one we were able to take her. It is built into our budget with the studio and we hope to get her there as much as possible this winter. Owen loved playing with the other little siblings in the hallway.

- Annabeth was invited to a pottery painting party on Saturday afternoon. She very much enjoyed painting her own little bank. We gifted the birthday girl a gift certificate to our dance school (which I think her parents were very happy to see since they can use it for class fees) as well as a ballet sticker book.

- We packed our shoebox for Samaritan's Purse. Annabeth chose to fill a box for a 6 year old girl. Mark took Annabeth to the store on Sunday and they filled up on school supplies - pencils, crayons, colored pencils, notebooks, and markers. They also added hygeine items - toothbrushes, hair ties of various kinds, and a hairbrush. Annabeth chose two little cupcake dolls for the girl's toys. At home, I found a manicure set (without sharp scissors since it was for a young girl), a flower hairbow, and a little sticker book in our "gift box." Annabeth loves doing this each year and we love watching her give with joy! We used a $10 off coupon to help buy things and tried to use up things in our gift tote as well.

- Mark's work vehicle was needed at the office over the weekend so he drove home a marked vehicle. Both of the kids loved checking it out and having a "real" police car to look at! Owen was beside himself with excitement!

- Sunday evening Mark made biscuits and gravy for dinner. Once we were full of warm food, we bundled up and headed outside to play for the evening. The kids loved seein the first flurries of the season!

- We had a great Halloween! The kids enjoyed their usual classes at Style. Their friend Kinsley and her family made sweet little treats for the kids and her mama even gave each of my kids their own, allergy free ones. Thank you Katelyn! Our amazing neighbors all stopped in Halloween night with treats for the kids - coloring books, crayons, color your own bags, and allergy free treats! Since our kids' grandparents all live far away we are so thankful to have these special grandparent-like people in our lives!

 Buckets and costumes ready!
Owen used my trick or treat bucket from when I was little!
That cat decoration is also from my parents house from when I was little.

Post trick-or-treat trade out for safe candy.
Owen was originally "scared" of his costume so we were glad he
finally agreed to wear it! 

Annabeth waiting to trade out her treats for safe ones.

- We had a great trip to Meijer yesterday. We saved $45.55 with coupons! My best deals were Owen's GF bean chips for $.99/bag and hair color for just $.49! We also checked out the sushi and the sushi man Simon offered the kids a sample. I thought one piece each but he gave them a WHOLE ROLL to split! My little sushi-monsters loved that!

Frugal Fails and a Savings Challenge for November:
- We did have some food waste this week - 1/3 jar of pasta sauce and 1/2 container of sour cream were hidden in the back of the fridge for quite a few weeks. I worried they wouldn't be safe to eat so we dumped them out and recycled their containers. We also let four yogurts expire.
- We ate out twice as a family this week. We really try to only eat out as a family three times (or less) each month. We have set the goal of not eating out as a family (AT ALL!) for the month of November. Mark does eat out some for work meetings and will continue to do that. We took a family vote and Annabeth chose to use the money we save from not eating out to buy supplies for the Meal Bags that we help fill. We will make a big shopping trip at the end of the month just for Meal Bags!

How can you find extra money in your budget to bless others this Christmas season?
If you are local and would like to know more about donating time, money, or resources to the Meal Bags please let me know!

Happy Savings to All!