Destroying Your Debt

I think deep down inside, most of us know that credit is not the ideal way to purchase things.  However, we revert back to children sometimes, and we want things NOW, and so we use credit.  Many financial experts will agree – the only way to financial peace is to alleviate all credit from our lives.  What?!? (in my best minion voice;)).  It is possible folks, not easy, but possible.  I know there are those who tell you that in order to make big purchases, like a car or home, you have to have established credit.  Well Dave Ramsey tells us there are ways around that – you can check out his explanation on that because he is way smarter than I am!!

So, how do we “destroy” debt?  The first step – stop creating debt.  Get rid of the cards in your wallet.  Not very many people have the kind of will-power it takes to not use them if they are there.  If you are brave, and seriously ready for a change in your financial story – cut them up.  If that terrifies you – freeze them in a LARGE block of ice.  Whichever you choose – DO. NOT. CARRY. THEM.

The second step is intentionally working to pay off the debt.  Everyone knows that “minimum payments” are just there to keep us hooked in.  If we only make minimum payments, we could be paying on this debt forever, and in the end paying hundreds or thousands of dollars more than what we actually spent. 

Dave’s method is called a debt snowball and it looks something like this.

Debt Payment
$150
$50
$50
$50
Debt Amount
$300
$450
$500
$1,000
Month 1
$150
$400
$450
$950
Month 2
$350
$400
$900
Month 3
Add 150 payment to Debt #2
$150
$350
$850
Month 4
Add extra 50 to Debt #3
$250
$800
Month 5
Add $200 payment to Debt #3
$750
Month 6
Add $250 payment to Debt #4
$450
Month 7
$150
Month 8

Many of us would probably try to tackle the debt with the highest interest rate.  Which, would make sense. But, Dave appeals to our need of instant gratification and satisfaction by suggesting we start with the smallest debt and work our way up to the largest one.  This way we are able to actually see, and feel, the progress.  The snowball effect happens when we take the amount we were paying on the original debt (after it is paid off) and adding it to the amount of the next debt payment.  

As we work through this process, we chose to pay the minimum on everything except debt A, and then paying as much as our budget would allow on debt A, to make paying that off easier.  Also, during this process you can dump whatever “extra” money you might have left over at the end of the month because of your mad budgeting skills – into debt A to help pay it off quicker.

Remember – we are working to DESTROY the debt.  


The third  step should be common sense, but I must admit we fell victim.  Once you destroy the debt – don’t get more debt.  In order for all of this to work, you must change your habits along with your bottom line.  

This is a tough one for most – so extra blessings to you!!


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Meal Planning Basics

Okay, so my biggest reason for eating out has always been – “oh my goodness, it’s almost dinner time and I have no idea what to make”. Sound familiar?  So then I text my hubby and say, ever-so-sweetly, “can you pick up something for dinner on your way home?”  To which he says, ever-so-sweetly, “I’ll take care of it.”  🙂

Well after 19 years of marriage I think I finally figured out that the key to knowing the answer to “what’s for dinner?” is meal planning.  My mom taught me to cook, and I had a variety of meal options under my belt when I got married, however, my mom never really seemed to have a plan.  It was more of opening up the freezer that morning and pulling some meat out and thing figuring out what to do with it later, and she was really good at making something great from nothing.  But, for me not so much.  However, being new to this whole homemaker thing, this is how I attempted to operate for years.  The flaw in this plan is that I barely like to eat breakfast in the morning, let alone think about dinner. So, I would not even get to the pulling the meat out of the freezer part.  A few hours before dinner would arrive, and I would realize, not only did I not have a clue what I wanted for dinner, but all the meat was frozen, so I had nothing to cook for dinner.  For a while my hubby would pull meat out for me, and I would go from there, but then I got bored with what I was cooking.

In comes pinterest (again), and more recipes at my fingertips than I ever knew what to do with, and still don’t by the way.

The Ultimate Menu Board
Source:  The Creative Mama

Also, I noticed all these really cute menu boards (like this one), and printables, for meal-planning and grocery lists.  I even pinned a few several. But, that’s as far as it went.  For the past year, I have slowly found a process that works for me.  This is what it looks like when I start.

Meal planning basics


I pull out a couple of binders that have all of our family’s go-to recipes – family recipes, and some new ones I have tried which we now love.  I also have my grocery list and a piece of paper to make my menu on, and our family calendar.  The calendar allows me to know what nights we might have activities on, what nights we might be having dinner elsewhere or out for a special occasion.  I meal plan for two weeks at a time because my hubby gets paid every two weeks. Maybe you want to tackle one week at a time at first. Some people plan for a month at a time.  It really it whatever works for your family.

I inventory the meat we have in the freezer and I get started. We eat a lot of ground beef and chicken, because it’s cheaper than most meats.  So, I try to spread those meats out over the two weeks, and fill in with some other type of meat variety.

meal planning


Then I start pulling recipes.  Pulling the recipes now, allows me to add the necessary ingredients to my grocery list.  I don’t really enjoy going to the grocery store as it is, so I definitely don’t want to have to go often to fill in ingredients.

meal plan and recipe holder for easy access


I use a simple page protector to slide my menu and all the recipes in.  And, I have a book ring in the top corner that allows me to hang it in my kitchen.  It’s not as pretty as some of the other menu boards I have pinned, but it’s functional for me.  I love having all the recipes right there, and being in plastic is a bonus too, cuz if I make a mess, I’m not ruining the recipe page. (I have no idea what the blue stuff is at the bottom of that recipe???)

recipe holder


Having a plan means I don’t really have to think about what I want for dinner in the morning.  I just look at my menu and pull out the corresponding meat for that day. This also allows me to choose meals that will work depending on the time I have on any particular day.  On the days that I attend Bible Study, or other activities, I might choose a crock-pot meal so I don’t have to worry about it. On those days when we are all eating dinner at different times, I will choose something simple, that can be heated up easily.  

This has almost completely cut out our eating out.  We still do on occasion, but it’s not out of desperation anymore.  

Blessings friends!!
 
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Top 5 Budget Busters

There are many things that can blow your budget.  But, over the years my hubby and I have noticed a few trends in our own spending habits, and some things we have done to make them better.  So, this week I am going to focus on those.


Top 5 Budget Busters

1.  Eating Out – we all know that eating at home is considerably cheaper than eating out, especially if you have a larger family like we do.  But, we all make excuses to why it is “necessary”.  

2.  Credit – we all know credit is a bad idea, but most of us have a need for instant gratification, and justify spending on credit with the “I’ll pay it off at the end of the month….”

3.  Impulse Spending – you know those stops for the pop you need to make it through the day, or maybe it’s the coffee, or maybe you feel the need to celebrate with a little ice cream…

4.  Lack of Organization – this one might surprise you, but seriously, we have noticed that as we are more organized we are saving money.

5.  Keeping up With the Jones’ – we have all heard this expression, and this one kind of ties in with some of the others.  We like to tell each other that we ‘need’ this or that.  But, truly we just ‘want’ this or that, and a lot of times it’s because everyone else has this or that.
When emotions are tied to your spending habits, it is not a good thing.

Again, you may have other things that you struggle with, we all have our ‘things’, our stumbling blocks.  For us, these are the hard ones.  We will take this week to talk about each one of these in a little more detail with some practical ways to help you stay on budget.  

Blessings to you my friend!!

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God Is In Charge

As you have your budget meeting, and you track your speeding, and you allocate your money, always keep in mind that God is ultimately in charge.  

This should not be a daunting realization but a freeing one.  What you need to know sweet friend, is that God wants only the best for you.  Now, granted, sometimes He has some interesting, and sometimes painful ways of getting you to what He considers His best for you.  But, I promise, once you are there it will be like nothing you have ever experience.  There is something so peaceful about living in God’s will – walking the path that He has laid before you!!


So here are a couple of reminds from the Bible today for you to ponder.


The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  -Proverbs 16:1

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. -Proverbs 16:9

Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand.  -Proverbs 19:21


Don’t you just love Proverbs?  It just speaks the truth.  Sometimes it might not be what we want to hear, but the truth nonetheless.  I pray that this series is helpful to those of you that are following along!!

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My Experience With Coupons

I have tried several times, with great intentions, to clip coupons.  And, every. single. time. I have failed (whichs means I quit). Mostly because I’m too lazy, but partially because I really want instant gratification – I want to save $100 my first time out – and I just don’t think it works that way.  Or, at least, it’s never worked that way for me.


Maybe you coupon, and maybe it’s the greatest thing for you, and to that I say bravo!!  You go girl!!  But for me, I just can’t seem to make it worth my effort.  I’m sure, as the experts will tell you, if I were to work at it for a time it would pay off.  Any experienced couponer – whether big or small – will tell you it takes time.  And folks, I’ve told you I am not a patient person.  

Also, I don’t buy name brands for the most part.  I have always bought generic or off brand when I can, so there’s that.  

For my family I find that shopping for groceries takes quite a bit of time anyway, without coupons.  🙂  We (yes, we – my sweet hubby almost always goes with me) make a morning of it and hit three stores in one area – Aldi, Sams, and Walmart.

There are four men/boys in my family who must have meat, and lots of it – so we shop at Sams for that and a few other breakfast and lunch convenience items.  I know I could probably save a bit on some of those things by making them myself and I am working towards that :).

If you have an Aldi in your area and you haven’t tried it out before – GO!!  I steered clear of it for years, because it was small, there was hardly anyone ever there, and you have to pay a quarter for your cart and bag your own groceries!!  Well, I am now an Aldi convert.  I LOVE this place!!  


If you refuse to buy off-brand than Aldi may not be for you, but I can tell you that just because the label is different means nothing.  Many of their products are manufactured in the same factory as the name brand stuff, and just labeled differently for Aldi.  I am shocked every time I go there – even still and I have been shopping there for over three years – when the cashier gives me my total.  What would have cost me $200+ at Walmart or any other discount grocer, even with coupons, cost me $100 or less at Aldi!!  No joke, every time!!

I shop Walmart last, because there are a couple of things that I am still a brand snob about, and a few things that I can’t find at Aldi.  

I do need to clarify that I love coupons I receive for some of my favorite clothing, shoe, or department stores – those I most definitely use!!

I am not saying couponing is bad, I’m just saying I’m not any good at it :).  If you are interested in couponing, Ruth has a wonderful step-by-step guide on how to get started and do it right.

Anybody else out there love Aldi??!!??

Blessings and Peace!!


  

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