Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009--The Good, The Bad, The Sad

I started doing this quite a few years ago when I was heavy into scrapbooking, and I would make an entire layout for just this. Now that time is limited and I haven't touched the scrapbooks in years, I just tend to reflect on this either in a journal or a blog and try and use it as my launching point for the new year.

The Good

  • Jenny was promoted at work

  • Nathan finally learned to ride a bike without training wheels

  • Scout joined our family shortly before Christmas

  • Jenny was baptized in Cobb Lake

The Bad

  • Jenny was in a car accident (her fault!) on Valentine's Day, the van was a total loss

  • Jenny was in another car accident (NOT her fault!) with the "new" van over the summer

  • Nathan's bike was stolen from our front yard

  • Our house in Eastpointe--STILL FOR SALE, three years and counting

The Sad

  • Whiskey the dog passed away

  • Pastor Todd left Gun Lake Church and moved to California. Sad for us, not him!

  • Many of our friends ended 2009 with empty arms and we pray that they are blessed with children during 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Saving Money is WORK!

Sometimes I feel like being frugal is my 3rd full time job, right after working 40"ish" hours a week, and wrangling my 3 kiddos. It does take time to comb through the ads, browse the clearance racks, and clip coupons to get the best deal I possibly can with every dollar. It's great to save the money and stretch those pennies into copper wire, but I really can't wait to get to the point where being frugal isn't a requirement in order to manage my finances. Like Dave says, if I am willing to live like no one else, then one day I will really be able to live like no one else. I just keep reminding myself of that!

For example, one of my most treasured things I do for my kids is buy them a Hallmark Keepsake ornament every year. I start buying them for their first Christmas and collect all the way through the series that ends with their fifth Christmas. From that point I try and find one that either has the year or is really reflects something of their personality/hobbies of that year. I used to be able to pick these up in the days right after Christmas and get a GREAT deal on them, but the past 2 years I've noticed that either Hallmark has cut back on how many they are sending to the stores, or more people are buying them, because I have really struggled to get the ones I need even the weeks before Christmas!

This year I decided I was going to just get them early and pay full price because I wasn't going to risk not getting the right ones. As I was browsing one of my favorite deal websites (, I saw that they had a coupon link posted for $5 off of a Hallmark purchase and when I printed one and read the fine print I saw that there were virtually NO EXCLUSIONS on the coupon, so I could use it for my ornaments! Almost every Hallmark coupon I've seen excludes the ornaments, so this was a huge find for me. I printed off the 2 that I could from my IP address and then sent the link to a friend and she printed one off for me too. Armed with my 3 coupons I had to visit SIX different stores to get the 3 ornaments I needed since so many of them were already sold out!

But the end result was that instead of spending the $30 on the full price ornaments ($10 each), I was able to get 2 of them for $5 each and I got the final one today for $2! That's a net savings of $18 and I am still under my total budget of $300 for Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

If I could get my ticker to update, I would post the following:

$39,216.30 Starting debt

$21,199.98 Debt paid as of 12/18/09

$18,016.32 before we are DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Christmas on a Shoe String

So, I think I am just about done with Christmas shopping, only a couple of straggling gifts to pick up. My budget this year was $300 cash in hand to get the job done and anything I could cut a deal on or get for free was not going to impact the cash reserves.

Gifts given that did not cost any cash include:
$25 gift cards to Kohl's, Cracker Barrell, Panera Bread, and Olive Garden (MyPoints)
$50 in Amazon gift cards (Swagbucks)
$10 Chili's gift card (MyCokeRewards)
$25 Applebee's gift card (Speedway Rewards)

That's a total of $185 in gifts that were not taken from our $300 budget!

I usually do bank up points over the year and cash them all in for gifts, but I think that this year was my best year by far. I've never really tracked it all that closely, but this year I definitely am keeping track and will set myself a goal for next year to at least meet the same or hopefully beat it!

What definitely helped keep me on track this year was an unsolicited offer from Amazon for a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime, which gave me free 2nd day shipping on most items regardless of the cost of the purchase. So I wasn't looking to get to that $25 minimum for free shipping all the time. I was able to use my credits on Amazon and free shipping to buy: 2 DVD's, 2 Nintendo DS games, a dancing Buzz Lightyear, a Bakugan carrying case, and a Bakugan booster pack. As you can see, the Amazon credits were used primarily for gifts for my son Nathan who is 110% boy in his likes! I might end up putting one of the DS games away for his birthday in January, I haven't decided yet.

Even more exciting than the fact that we pulled off our Christmas on a shoestring this year is that in the month of December were were able to put $80 towards our debt snowball as well!

The winter months are hard on us, and I wasn't anticipating having ANY extra money in the budget at all for the snowball, but God promises that he will provide for us, and once again he has provided not only for our needs, but provided in abundance as well. We have food in the fridge, gifts under the tree, our tithe to church is being met, and we gave for Christmas charity as well. We are truly blessed!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Last night was the last class in Financial Peace University and we did in fact graduate. It was a great experience to actually go through the full 12 weeks with a group of people instead of just reading and doing it on our own. I am a chatty one though, so the small groups made the class way more enjoyable by far.

Right now is a tough time of year to really stay "on plan" for us, so the classes were perfectly timed. Matt works full time for part of the year, but we are currently in the slow time, so there isn't much money to roll into the snowball.

The best take-away from the class had to be that we finally developed a very real, very living, working budget for our family. I created a nice budget spreadsheet in Excel that takes our gross income and calculates out our tithe (since it varies depending on Matt's check), and then lists all of our obligations for that 2 week time period. It is set up to tell me how much I need to take out of the bank in cash (groceries, gas, entertainment money, blow money, household money) and how much is left after bills that we need to move into the snowball. Since we have very few debts left, the workbook is pretty much a cut and paste from the previous month with just a few minor changes here and there. Dave isn't lying when he says that once you get it down to a science, it will go much faster. It used to take me at least an hour to get it all straight, and now it's way less than 10 minutes! And it's so much faster to balance my checking account now that I only have a few large transactions to really work with and balance out.

The budget workbook has also helped us stay very faithful in our tithing to our church, and we have not had to dip into our emergency fund at all! We have taken the test and God has shown us that if we are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us, and has provided for all of our needs plus some these past 12 weeks.

Hopefully our church will offer FPU again and now that I've been through it as a student, I would love to do more than just help with one of the smaller groups.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black Friday--Thanks But No Thanks

This was a HUGE post, and Blogger LOST IT!

The highlights:
1. I am on budget for Christmas this year
2. We did not blow it on Black Friday
3. I redeemed $150 in gift cards and used them for Christmas gifts/shopping

Friday, November 20, 2009

Proud Mommy Moment

One thing that Dave really talks about over and over again is how as adults, we have the power to change our family tree and really impact our children by taking control of our finances and modeling to them.

Matt and I have really taken this seriously and have worked very hard to be consistent in what we say and do, especially around the kids. Nicholas and Lauren are still way to young to catch on to the brainwashing we're doing, but Nathan is definitely starting to sip the Kool-Aid.

When we embarked on our Total Money Makeover, we also brought Nathan on board with us and started working with him to understand money and give him a real education in this area and not let him grow up clueless.

The way things currently work is Nathan gets a base allowance of $5 every 2 weeks, which is consistent with the allowance Matt and I give ourselves for "blow" money. The most important thing we've taught Nathan is that before he spends any of his allowance, he needs to set aside 10% of it to give during the children's offering at church.

Prior to Dave, we would just hand Nathan $1 every week and send him off and that was that, but it's really teaching him more about his faith and being responsible if he gives from his own money than us giving him money just to give him money. It's been a little harder of a lesson to explain to him why he's giving less money than he was before, but when we walk into his class and he drops his $.25 in the box (10% of his $5 is $.50, or $.25 per week), I take that time to reaffirm to him that he's tithing from HIS money and I am very proud of him for doing so.

Now as a Christian parent, you can imagine how much my heart swells with love and joy when I can hear Nathan talk about this kind of stuff and especially that I know he really GETS it. But, I think that I have a very, very close second moment that ranks right on up as of last night.

Nathan was standing by me as I was doing dishes and told me he wants to open his own savings account! He's pretty good at saving money on his own for things that he wants like Nintendo DS games, or to buy books from the school book orders, but he recognizes that he wants to save for some bigger things (like Guitar Hero) and that a bank account could help him. So I am really going to try and find time in the next week to take him up to the credit union and do this with him.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christmas, Part 2

I don't know why, but I am really struggling this year to wrap my arms around Christmas. I know how much money I have to work with, I know who I need to buy for, but nothing is jumping out at me as something I need to cross off my list. Anyone who knows me well knows that I not only do I have lists, I have lists to organize my lists, so to not cross things off my lists is very nerve wracking to me.

I think that part of my struggle in getting this task done and over is that I am Christmas shopping with cash this year. It's so much easier to shop online and just order things and have them show up in that happy little box from Amazon (really, there is a smiley right on the box!) show up and I can toss it in the closet and be done with it. I keep thinking I am going to come across "the gift" for someone and it will be too late because I either don't have the money now, or I've already bought something for them.

I feel like I'm totally skipping over Thanksgiving this year because the stores went straight from Halloween decorations to Christmas, there is already a radio station playing nothing but Christmas music, and they picked Secret Santa already at work. Maybe what I need to do is just stick my fingers in my ears and scream "nah-nah-nah-nah" until the day after Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Grocery Savings

This is the time in the year where it's time to stock up and start filling the pantry. Between November and the end of January is when you can find the BEST coupons out there and the most! Usually it's hard to come by coupons and good sales on staples, and with holiday baking creeping up on us, it's the time to start combing through your ads and matching coupons to sales.

While you are clipping and matching, take a minute to look and see what you can get for FREE or for a few pennies, and take those items and donate them to a local food pantry. The food pantry we choose to support is (Project Hope in Dorr, MI). Our church has a box right in the lobby where donations can be dropped off, which makes it so easy and convenient to do!

So what did I get for my $9.06?

3 3.5lb bags of Purina One cat food
2 Macaroni Grill dinners
3 Wanchai Ferry dinners
6 cans of Campbell's Gravy
2 4pk of Fiber One yogurt
1 4pk of YoPlus yogurt
2 cans of Campbell's cream of chicken soup

Received a coupon back for 1/2 gallon of OJ (Value of $2.50!)

Out of pocket: $9.06
Saved: $54.20

Before anyone jumps and tells me how unhealthy I shop, I do need to add the disclaimer that we don't eat boxed meals every single night of the week. I find it extremely handy to have a few in the pantry for those busy nights where everything falls apart and we all need to be somewhere and have the tendency to just go through the drive thru in order to get people fed. I would much rather throw together a quick chicken fettucini (ala box) and eat that instead of a Happy Meal with fries. Not only is it CHEAPER, it's still the healthier option because there are things we can do to the "box" to make it healthy. I can use skim milk, I can make sure it's not loaded down with butter and oil, I can make sure the chicken isnt' fried, and I can mix in plenty of veggies!

I do use a coupon "service" that helps me organize my shopping lists and gives me access to hundreds of printable coupons. Many people have heard of the Grocery Game, and while I haven't tried to "play the game", I have been blessed by Savings Angel! I love that I have full access to stores in my area and I don't have to pick and choose where to shop and I can search all my local stores and get the best of the best deals!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Christmas, Part 1

The holidays are so stressful every year, and when you factor in current economic conditions with the astronomical expectations of your kids and family, well it can be a recipe for disaster!

Aside from the small amount of cash we've budgeted for Christmas, we are also using some "found" money as well to fund our Christmas this year. Under no uncertain circumstances will a single penny of our Christmas spending go on credit, this is absolutely not an option.

I don't want to give away too much on the Christmas details, but I can give a good breakdown of how we are scrounging up stuff:

-Cashed in $100 worth of giftcards with MyPoints. I booked travel and did the email click throughs all year to scrounge up points towards this.

-I have 25,000 Speedway Rewards I am going to cash in towards a gift card, haven't decided what just yet.

-I have $25 in credit out there that I am using to purchase a gift for someone. I earned that doing Swagbucks searches.

-I've been watching clearance racks for interesting items for people all year long. I have a few stashed away for the kids. For example, my neice really wanted a Baby Alive doll, and for some reason, the local K-Mart had one on clearance for $11. SOLD!

-We cut a deal with quite a few family members that we strictly go "kids only" and even that within reason. Adults don't need more crap, and it's more fun to watch the kids open stuff!

-I am constantly watching the deal sites (GottaDeal, SlickDeals) for mega deals on things.

-Amazon does some good toy sales in the fall, keep an eye on SlickDeals/GottaDeal to see what's out there. Usually you can find a nice consolidated thread of all the ongoing things.

-I personally opt out of the secret Santa stuff and all those other misc gift exchanges. I just don't have the money in the budget for it and I usually don't end up with anything that I really want or need anyways.

-I have a chunk of Coke Rewards out there that I plan on cashing in towards something, not sure yet. You have to watch the site pretty close to snatch the good gift cards, so hopefully a few good ones will pop up again soon!

In our Financial Peace University class, quite a few of us are supporting each other and just letting family know that Christmas this year is scaled back. It's not an easy conversation to have, but I think it's a GOOD conversation. Every chance we have to shift our mindset from STUFF to the real reason for Christmas (Jesus and time with family), the stronger our family will be. Pop in a DVD, watch a movie together and drink hot chocolate and make memories because those are what are going to last way longer than the singing fish on a plastic plaque!

I am going to be blogging a LOT this holiday season because I know that I am going to need to reinforce this to myself over and over again. It's hard to resist the temptation and it's hard to stay focused and on plan. I am so happy to have my Financial Peace class running right now to help hold me accountable.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Now More Than EVER....

I need to be on the Dave Ramsey bandwagon.

Reason #1: Matt's hours at work are almost non-existent
Reason #2: Did you know Christmas is in December this year????

Matt and I finally got the opportunity to enroll in a Financial Peace University class and we are loving it. We are about at the halfway point and it will carry us through to Christmas, or right near it. What amazing timing is that! We'll have lots of support to rely on during the time of the year where we are most likely to backslide on our finances.

The class has really pushed me to follow the Total Money Makeover principles, and I can officially declare myself to be a NERD at this point. I know that FPU is designed to be the framework of budgeting, so I took it to the next level and decided to make myself a budget workbook to really get the nitty gritty details. I can input in our gross pay and net pay every 2 weeks when we get paid, along with all of our standing expenses and basically calculate out our tithe, how much cash to pull out of the bank, and what our debt snowball payment is going to be. It really works well and I just wrapped up my first full month using it. I have a couple of small adjustments to make, but otherwise I am very pleased with it.

We decided in FPU to move more of our spending into cash, and that has actually gone much better than I expected. Our cash envelopes right now are: groceries, gas, entertainment/family fun, blow money, and household (cleaning supplies, etc). The biggest plunge for me was moving our gas money to cash. I'll admit I am lazy and HATE walking into the gas station to pay, but it's not been that bad. Maybe I'll be singing a different tune shortly when the snow starts falling, but we'll see.

October was a 3 payday month for me, so when I went yesterday to pull my cash out of the bank to replenish my envelopes, I pulled out our Christmas money as well. It's going to be interesting to Christmas shop this way, but I'm willing to give it a try. It's a "seasonal" envelope and it's fully stocked, and once it's gone, it's gone, so I know we'll stay on budget this year for Christmas!

Which brings me to another point, cashing in on Christmas! I have been hoarding rewards points all year from various programs and have begun cashing them in towards gift cards to either give people directly for Christmas, or to shop at my favorite stores and buy Christmas gifts. As of right now, I have over $125 in gift cards that I've got in my purse from Speedway Rewards, MyPoints, and MyCokeRewards and I have another $25 sitting out on Amazon in credit from Swagbucks.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Busy Summer

Summer was pretty busy for us. The weather didn't cooperate as much as we would have liked, but we still had quite a bit of fun! We kept things frugal and still had a great time together. I never would have thought a $5 pool from Family Dollar would provide so many hours of entertainment, but that was probably the best summer investment we made! I spent quite a few hours out riding my bike around and the kids went to the park almost every day.

Now that fall is creeping up, it's time to get serious about keeping our grocery budget low. We don't worry too much over summer because we end up at a lot of potluck picnics and eating dinner at the camp for the family nights. This week I decided it was time to refocus and start stockpiling again and getting ready for the cut in pay we see when it's camp off-season for Matt.

Meijer, my coupon store of choice, was my biggest trip this week, but I was able to get quite a few staples in our menu on hand to start the pantry off:

Total spent: $30.70
Total saved: $67.77

So what will $30 buy you these days?

6 boxes of Hamburger Helper
4 bags of frozen veggies
7lbs of frozen turkey
8 Campbell's soup microwave soups
6lbs of chicken nuggets
3 "cups" of Oreo cookies
2 boxes of Pizza Rolls
4 Lysol toilet bowl cleaners
12 cans Campbell's cream of mushroom soup
BIC razor refills
1 box Honey Bunches of Oats
4pk of Activia yogurt

I end up buying quite a bit of snacks since Nathan prefers to take a lunch to school, and having a nice stash to pick from is nice so that he doesn't end up with the same thing every day.

Long Overdue Update

We are over 50% debt free now!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Patience, It Pays!

I've been doing the Body for Life workout routine for 3wks now and I've been challenged by the fact that I don't have a weight bench. I bought my handweights with a Target giftcard I was given from work, but the bench has alluded me. I was checking Craigslist, watching SlickDeals, posting on Freecycle and all the usual avenues to a deal, but kept coming up empty. I didn't want to spend a whole lot, and $20 was about the max I was willing to go.

Today I was going to the grocery store to pick up milk and saw a yard sale right near the store. It was drizzling a little out so I thought I would stop by on my way home if it wasn't pouring by then. Well when I got out of the store not only was it not pouring, the rain had let up quite a bit so I decided to stop.

As I got there, the guy told me that everything minus a few things was half off, and lo and behold, he had a weight bench!!! I held my breath and took a peek at the price, it was $25... so my cost was only $12!!! I was SO THRILLED! I told him that I wanted it and then continued to look around a bit, not finding anything else, but just giddy with my steal! He helped me load it in the car and I drove very happily away and towards home!

One thing that Dave has taught me is that as adults we have to have patience and not act like children and do things just because we want to or because it feels good. It might take a few extra days, or it might take a few extra weeks, but there are savings to be had by those that are diligent to find them! I could hardly find anything less than $50 brand new and the cheapest thing I found used was $25 about 50 miles away, so patience really can pay! I am so excited to do my weight routine on Monday and not use a toy box or folding chair as my pseudo weight bench!

Monday, July 20, 2009

144 Days!

That's how long it took us to pay off the loan on our van. We took the loan out in February for 2yrs and knew that it would be paid off much earlier, and in 144 days we did it! We're pretty excited about having that big one out of the way and now we can focus all of our energy (and money!) to paying off the credit card. We haven't used the car since 2007, but there is still a nice chunk of change sitting out there on it, and then of course my student loan.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beans and Rice (and Rice and Beans!)

I tried out a recipe the other day for a beans and rice dish that I have absolutely fallen in love with! It's quick, it's easy, and it's easy to dress up a bit if you have stuff laying around the house.

3/4 cup dry lentils (brown ones)
3/4 cup dry brown rice
4 cups water
4 beef bouillon cubes (or chicken, vegetable)
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Dump everything in a medium pot and boil. Turn down the heat to a little lower than medium and cook covered (just like rice) until done. I usually stir every 5-6 minutes, but you probably don't need to once the spices are mixed! Use just like regular taco filling.

I have been putting a bit of taco sauce on mine, who doesn't have extra Taco Bell ones right? And sprinkling a little bit of shredded cheddar on it and eating with broken taco shells. Not only does this taste very good, it's a good balance of carbs and protein so it does fill you up. A bag of lentils can be bought for under $1 and rice should be a staple in any frugal house, right?

I haven't updated on our progress in awhile, mostly because I've been holding off until our van was paid off. My goal date for payoff was July 1, but we ended up needing to get tires put on and I took money from our "snowball" and paid for them that way rather than tapping into our emeregency fund. Hopefully with payday next week I can report a big payoff!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cash Ain't So Bad After All!

Well it's been nearly a month since I decided to experiment a bit and try out this cash thing that Dave talks about. As a die hard debit card girl, and someone who has a reputation for being a little bit stubborn, this was not a decision made on a whim.

It was actually not as bad as I thought it would be! I did cash for groceries, medical expenses, and general household expenses. I did save all the receipts in all the envelopes so that I could still divide out things into smaller categories later, and that also worked very well.

It went so well that I re-funded my 3 envelopes today and I am going to go for it again this month too!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Are We There Yet?

Sometimes I feel like a little kid. I find myself asking over and over again, "Are we there yet?" I just want to be done with debt forever so desperately that I feel like this is taking way too long. In reality, it hasn't even been a year. We just turned over our 9th month of our Total Money Make Over and I feel like I was starting to hit a bit of a rut.

I am waiting for that turning point where we hit 50%, and it's not that far away now. We started with $39,216.80 in debt, so the magic number is right around $19,608.

As of June 8
Starting debt: $39216.80
Debt as of 6/8: $21116.50

Amount Paid: $18099.80

Saturday, May 30, 2009

To the Dark Side

I don't know why, but this week I felt compelled to not only put a budget on paper, but to also start funding envelopes with cash instead of just using my debit card. I think it was having my family visit me for a few days that made me realize that sometimes I really do just whip out the debit card and pay for stuff without really thinking it through. I always do the quick, "Do I have the cash in my account for this" thought, but I never really consider where I am in the budget for it.

This is the one area of "Dave" where I have be very resistant. In fact, I traded in my Toyota before I even considered going to envelopes, so that speaks volumes.

I have the envelopes and I am ready to go, but now I am afraid to spend any of the money. Maybe this will work after all!

One of Those God Moments

The weekend before Memorial Day I taught Nathan how to ride his bike sans training wheels. It was a pretty big moment because he was so resistant to trying because if he can't be the best or do it absolutely perfect the first time, he gets really angry and gives up. Well I didn't give him much of a choice and we went to the park together, and when we go there I threw his bike on a picnic table and took the training wheels off and told him he better figure it out if he wanted to go home. Within an hour, despite a few tantrums, he was riding his bike like a pro!

So we got home and we were going to get the 2 little ones in the bike trailer and go for a ride, and I had to inflate the tires on my bike, and lo and behold someone stole his bike out of the back of our yard. He left it pretty close to the road and it was gone in a matter of seconds.

After a few days we gave up on getting the bike back and bought him another bike (NOT on credit, we cash flowed it!) and put the other bike out of our minds.

A couple of days ago, Nathan was at his friends house and they live close to the park and they saw from her house what looked like his bike in the park, so they walked over there and looked, and it sure was! It was absolutely trashed: the back tire had burn holes through it, the seat was burned as well, it had been dragged (by a car?) and the seat was also torn up and one of the pedals was destroyed. Even as bad as it was, I couldn't bring myself to just throw it out. There were still lots of good parts on this bike.

Matt decided that it would be a good project to replace the broken parts and give the bike to a kid who needed a bike, so we set out to Walmart to see what it would cost to replace the tire, tube, pedals, and seat. Now, understand that this bike was only like $50 to begin with, and when we priced it, it was $35 in parts to repair it. We decided in the store that we knew how much it would cost now to fix it, so if we did find someone who needed a bike, we could do it then, but we weren't going to just fix it up to give away on Craigslist or something.

On our way home from WalMart, not even 15 minutes later, we drove by this MASSIVE yard sale, and on one of the tables was a plastic bin full of bike pedals and some bike seats. For under $3 we got most of the bike fixed and now all we need to do is replace the tire and tube.

I just know there is a little boy somewhere who needs a bike and God is certainly making it easy for us to find him!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Weekend

We had a pretty fun weekend and we kept it on the cheap, that's for sure! I had Thursday-Monday off work, so I did attempt a yard sale for a few days, but there just wasn't enough traffic to justify giving up family time for a few bucks and I ended it a day early. We made nearly $100, but I felt like we should have done way better. I loaded up a significant amount of the stuff and just drove it straight to Goodwill and have zero regrets. I'll take the tax deduction over the cash.

One thing I did experiment this weekend with is buying a gift certificate online from I paid $3 for a $25 gift certificate to a newly remodeled bar in town. My sister and Nena babysat (free), so Matt and I went out together. One of the rules on the certificate was that you had to spend $35 and this place was so cheap that even with both of us drinking Diet Cokes, getting an appetizer, 2 meals, and splitting dessert, we still came in a hair under the $35. Thankfully they took the certificate anyways. After the certificate and tip, it was still less than $20, so not too bad. The math will drive you crazy though trying to figure out if it was a decent deal or not.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Can $20 Buy?

Well when I put my mind to it, $20 can go the distance at the grocery store!

Bottle of Centrum vitamins
Sweet Baby Ray's dipping sauce
2 bottles Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
2 Breyers Ice Cream cartons
1 bottle Kraft dressing
2 4pks of Danimals yogurt
2 4pks of BIC razors
4 boxes of Frosted Mini Wheats
4 Lipton side dishes
4 boxes of Wheat Thins
1 bottle of A1 Sauce
1 box of Frosted Flakes

Between sales and coupons, I saved over $60!!!

This weekend we are holding a yard sale while our tiny little town is overrun with tourists coming to spend Memorial Weekend out on the lake. I've been boxing up things and pricing for over a week now and I am so anxious to get this show on the road! The money from the yard sale will also be used towards the debt snowball (of course!!)


This past week Matt and I took a huge step and officially registered our home based catering business as a partnership. We are official! Now begins the fun stuff, which is working and getting our health department licensing worked out. It's pretty exciting to get going on all of this and see it starting to take shape. It's a great balance for us since I have the type of personality that likes the business aspects of things, and likes to refine the little details over and over whereas Matt is definitely the chef of this operation and can crank out amazing meals like you can't imagine.

I am keeping my eyes open on Craigslist and eBay for liquidation sales and hopefully we'll be able to build our equipment up that way.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ticker Update

It's been a long time, but I need to toss it out there!

Die Debit DIE!!

Matt and I are very motivated to get our van paid off as it's something we never wanted to finance to begin with, so I've been putting as much toward it as possible. The thing is that Matt's working full time now, so we do have a bit more in the budget, but at the same time we have to cover daycare and gas, so it's not like we're clearing big bank or anything, plus factor in that there are house expenses that really do need to be taken care of.

Anyways, tonight Matt asked for a quick update on the car and I am happy to report the following:

Van Loan:
1742.44 owed
737.56 PAID since 2/09

Credit Card:
$6112.95 owed

Student Loan:

We started out our Dave Ramsey journey $40,000 enslaved to various lenders in September 2008, and by the Grace of God, I am proud to report that we have managed to magic up $16, 600.87!

There are good things coming our way, I can feel it! PRAISE HIM!

Friday, May 1, 2009

That Was Fast!

I was so excited to get the news about our property taxes that I called our lender right away and fax over the statment from the board of review. Yesterday I got the notice in the mail from the lender that our house payment has been adjusted down about $100 per month and in time for our May 1 payment!

Looks like our van loan is going to be much sooner than I thought with the extra cash we've been able to put towards it along with this extra $100/month.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It PAYS To Ask!

When we received our tax assessment for the year we did not agree with what they valued our home at and decided to pursue an appeal with the assessor's board of review. We weren't all that optimistic since we knew from the news that they would not be considering any foreclosures in the comparable sales to help determine the property value, but it wasn't all that time consuming to write the appeal and gather the information.

Much to our surprise, we got the determination back yesterday and they lowered the taxable value of our home by $8500 and the overall value of our home by $17,000. Not as much as it could have been, but we were pleased none the less.

This morning I called our lender and let them know that our taxes will be adjusted based on this new assessment and asked if they would recalculate for our escrow account. They had me fax the letter over and we should have a new number for our June 1 housepayment. Our housepayment had gone up $200 based on the assessment earlier this year, this should help nudge that down a tiny bit.

All the money we get "back" from this can be rolled into our snowball again as our snowball went away with the increase in house payment.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Big Balls, Snow balls That Is!

So I decided that since money is so tight with Matt not working a full 40hrs/week right now that I needed to buckle down and get something going to move our snowball forward.

This month so far I've managed to pull together:

$50 in eBay money
$30 in a baby gear sale to a co-worker
$75 in cloth diaper resale

I also have some mystery shopping money that should be coming around the 20th for about $30 and I know that around the 30th of the month I get paid for a few other mystery shopping jobs, and that will be about $30 too.

All told that's $215 in money that I am putting right into our snowball!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Shopping!

Tuesday is typically the day I spend my lunch hour doing some shopping since that's when the coupons are all posted and finalized on Savings Angel. I made a quick run to Walgreens and then to Meijer. I'll be making a few more trips into Meijer since they have a couple of deals I want to take full advantage of with a few more trips.

4 packs of Mentos gum, 1 bag of Chex mix, package of hair rubber bands, 2 Lysol toilet cleaners, 2 Lysol wipes.

Total spent: $5.77
Total saved: $20.33
Even better, I am getting a $3 rebate back from Lysol, and I got a $2 coupon to use on my next trip to Walgreens, so I actually ended up spending 77cents!

Silk Soy yogurt (large bulk container), 2lbs of organic baby carrots, 1 loaf of bread, 4 boxes of Kelloggs cereal, 6pk of Danimals yogurt

Total spent: $7.68
Total saved: $17.16
The soy yogurt for Nick was $2.99, which was almost 50% of what I ended up spending.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Frugal Easter Breakdown

So how did we manage to pull off a very frugal Easter this year for the kids? Well a huge "shout out" to the Target dollar spot to start with. I have been visiting on my lunch hour and picking up things here and there for the kids. I found a couple of activity books for Nathan there and some markers and Elmo books for Nick...and Lauren, well she's 1, let's just say that she's not old enough to know that I filled all her eggs with Kix from the cereal cupboard!

I also hit up a lot of the Walgreens sales for things when they were 39cents each, and that pretty well rounded out everything I shoved into the baskets (which were bought at Target last year for 75% off!). We certainly don't go overboard, and I would love to keep it that way.

Saturday morning we went to town and did the Kiwanis Easter egg hunt in the city park. It was bright and sunny out, so it was absolutely packed. They basically let the kids pick up as many eggs as they want and then they cash in their eggs for a goody bag at the end, which is fine by me. Kids can get brutal at these things, so I would rather just let them pick up a couple eggs and still end up with their "prize" and not have to fight for it. Nick ended up winning a special sand box kit too, which was nice considering how much sand we have in our yard and how much time we spend near water and sand during the summer.

Later on Saturday afternoon we went to church for EasterFest, along with about 500-600 of our closest friends (LOL right?). They literally had 10,000 eggs out in the field in front of church for the kids to grab, and it's always a mad dash (exactly what the park egg hunt is not). In any case, they do a ton of stuff with the kids like crafts, games, a hot dog cook out, a cake walk, face painting, and just an overall fun time to spend the afternoon.

Easter Sunday we went to church and made dinner for ourselves, my mother in law (and her husband), and our next door neighbor. It was a great time for all of us to sit around and talk and just fellowship with each other. Nobody ran right out the door after dinner, but nobody lingered for hours on end either, so once our guests left and we had things reasonably in order, we put the kids in the stroller and walked over to the park to play. It's not the biggest park in the world, in fact I've seen bigger play areas at preschools, but it's nice to have close by and it's never busy, so we go there quite a bit with the kids to play.

One thing we are really trying to instill into our children is that our Earth is precious and it's our gift from God to maintain and take care of, so when we go for walks, we always try to bring a bag to collect litter and trash in. Well we forgot this time, but while I was walking with Lauren at the park, I found a piece of litter that happened to be a plastic grocery bag, so as I walking around the park with her, I stopped to pick up random bits of litter here and there, and we had the bag pretty much full by the time we got home.

Spring Cleaning in a Frugal World

It's finally starting to get nice outside, and I have been motivated to de-clutter our house and get things going towards a yard sale. Not only will that reduce the amount of crap we have piled up everywhere, it will also bring a little bit of cash to the snowball.

Yesterday I attacked the mountain of toys in our house and rounded up all the pieces to things that would complete the sets and put those aside for the impending yard sale. I also attacked the pile of kids books. We have so many books piled up that it's just unreal. I emptied out the kid's bookshelf, grabbed all the books off of Nathan's dresser, and all of the books from Lauren's closet. I literally had a mountain of books around me!

I sorted out all of Nathan's older kid books for him and put those in the bookshelf that we keep in his closet (to protect them from the little kids) and he has so many books that I've picked up at yard sales, book fairs, and book orders that I was stunned at just how many there were once I got them all in one place. He was stunned too, and it was like seeing them for the first time all over again. I was thrilled when he started pawing through them and grabbing ones to read.

Then to attack the baby books. I made a tub of board and soft books that Nick and Lauren can play with and put those in the living room. Again, where did all of these come from??? I know I donated a huge pile to our church last year, so it's like they were breeding in the closet or something!

Finally it was time to sort out the books that are too babyish for Nathan, but not quite able to be handled by a toddler. I kept quite a few that I know that the kids will enjoy reading, but still ended up with 2 large grocery bags of books that I doubt we'll ever open and duplicates. I emailed Nathan's teacher from last year and told her that they were hers for the taking and anything she didn't want she could dump in the teacher's lounge at work since I have yet to meet a teacher who could pass up books for their classroom library.

Believe it or not, the sorting of the books and toys took me nearly 2 hours! At least I feel like I am making progress, one baby step at a time!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kitchen Science

Last night I was the mad scientist in my kitchen as I mixed and brewed my first batch of homemade laundry soap. My house smelled like the 50's with me standing there hand shredding my bar of Fels Naptha. It's currently sitting in my laundry area in a covered bucket until this evening when I need to stir it up and see how it worked.

This is the recipe I used:
1/3 of a bar of Fels Naptha shredded
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax

I used a small cheese grater and shredded a 1/3 of the bar of Fels Naptha into pot with 6 cups of boiling water. Stir until all the soap is melted, so it really helps to shred it as fine as you can and avoid big clumps. Add the washing soda and Borax and keep stirring until it's all melted and a thick liquid. Pour into your bucket with 4 cups of hot tap water and keep stirring. Add another 6 cups of water, and finally add a gallon of water.

I am supposed to let it sit overnight and use about 1/2 cup per load.

I didn't add any "scent" to it, but I've read that you can add a few drops of essential oils.

I spent less than $10 on all the ingredients to make this, and I'll see how many loads I get out of it and figure out if it's cheaper than buy my favorite liquid from Sam's Club (All Free and Clear).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Time to Stock Up Again

One thing that I have to do as a working mom of 2 kids in diapers, is be on my game to make sure that I #1 have diapers in 2 different sizes for the kids, and #2 am not breaking the bank doing so.

So I was thrilled to see some of the diaper deals this week that are to be had, especially since Lauren just moved up from size 3 to 4's and I was down to the last few in the pack and Nick can only fit in Huggies size 6 (since he's so big!).

Walgreens has their brand diapers on sale for $4.50 per pack, which is fine for Lauren since she can wear pretty much any diaper. Plus they have some register rewards out there that end up netting you free products (Colgate toothpaste and Edge shaving gel), and factor in a $2 per pack coupon! Do the math and you'll see that I am at about $2 per package of diapers, or about 6cents per diaper. Prior to being a coupon gazelle I was buying diapers by the case at Sam's Club for 18cents each (Members Mark brand) and thought I was doing pretty good.

CVS has Huggies diapers on sale for $10 per pack and $5 wipe refills, and if you spend $25 you get $10 off your next purchase. This was my big score since I can definitely use more diapers for Nick right now, and if by some act of God he potty trains, I'll just hold onto them know that Lauren will be in them eventually. I had some leftover printable Huggies coupons that are expiring in the next day or so, so I had to hop on this one FAST. I picked up 2 packs of diapers and a pack of wipe refills for $25, minus the $8.75 in coupons, which gave me an out of pocket on the purchase for $16.25 and have my $10 off my next purchase to use later on today to roll into my next round of diapers. Even if I lose the $10, the $5.40 each that I paid out of pocket for the diapers and wipes is better than store brand prices, so the $10 I'll be rolling only sweetens the deal.

I was talking to Matt last night about couponing and how it's work. It's a LOT of work, but if I figure out the time invested vs the money saved, I am confident that I am coming out ahead. The money saved is what is helping us get through the winter months when Matt is not working full time and we take a pretty significant hit in our income.

We're also starting to see some little improvements in our budget from changes we've made. I made changes to our cell phone plan that took us from $91/month down to $60, and we've dropped our car payment from $317/month to $100 and I am confident that the tiny loan we took on our van will be paid off very soon. Matt's hours are picking up in the next month, so we'll just maintain our spending and expenses and throw all that extra money coming in towards our SNOWBALL!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Search & Win

So a bunch of message boards I belong to are hopping on the Swagbucks wagon. I figured I would sign up and see. I have racked up about 25 bucks in the past few days and I'll see if it's worth it as far as what I can cash them in for. I used to do a similar thing with Blingo, but never seemed to "win" with it, so I gave that up ages ago. This way it looks like I'll be able to "redeem" vs win.

I posted my referral link if anyone is interested in trying it. Like I said, I see people on a few sites really racking up the "bucks" and cashing in, so why not right?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Financial Peace

Today on my way into work, I finished the last CD in the Financial Peace University (FPU) kit that a friend let me borrow. I can honestly say that it was worth every single minute I spent listening to it. I feel like I learned so much and I just hope that I can remember some of it when the time comes to move on from babystep #2. I actually am thinking that I might ask them if I can buy the set off of them since it was the 2007 edition, so I might end up with it anyways.

Listening to FPU is just what I needed today after browsing one of my favorite websites and seeing the "poor white trash" folks being torn up and down about stretching every last dollar they can and frequenting big box stores like Wal-Mart, Target, etc. If I wanted to live at their standard of living, I could always bust out Master Card and Lady Visa and head on over to Whole Foods or D&W over here in Grand Rapids and just be wasteful in spending, but I don't think I would feel any better about myself by just spending more money. Ironically the most vocal and obnoxious probably don't wonder month to month if they'll have enough money to pay their house payment, or worry that a couple of extra prescriptions are going to push them out of the ability to make minimum payments.

I don't even know why I am letting it bother me, but it is.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mini Update

I haven't really had much to update lately, so I've been quiet. The van window was replaced last Monday, it ended up costing about $250. Not as bad as I expected, and it killed me to tap into the emergency fund for it. Man I wanted to charge it on the credit card and "pay it off" next month!

Matt and I had a talk the other night as I was paying bills for month end, and I came to the realization that I have a hard time committing my money to where it should be. Case in point, Matt had charged a few things for Cub Scouts on our credit card and they wrote us a check for the stuff. My first instinct was to put the check in the bank, pay the $10 minimum to the card and then use the rest of the money for household expenses. It's that behavior that slowly killed us over the past few years and I MUST STOP.

So I bit the bullet and paid it all. Of course that leaves us dangling as to what we are going to do for the rest of the month, but it will all come together eventually.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Murphy Visits AGAIN!

We live in a 3 bedroom home, so you would think that Murphy wouldn't want to come and visit so often, but alas, that is not the case. He seems to visit us more and more often these days.

So what did Murphy have in store for us this weekend?

I wanted to take the kids for a walk on Saturday to run our Angel Food order up to church, and when I went out to the van to get the stroller, I noticed when I lifted the back door up that glass fell on my head. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a bullet (BB?) hole in the glass!! Someone had randomly decided to shoot at our van in our driveway and shattered the glass! Unbelievable!

Thankfully we have our emergency fund, and we can cash flow most of it, but come on already! I lived in Detroit how many years and never had this much bad stuff happen, and I move out to cow country and suddenly someone is driving up and down our street shooting at cars? Are you KIDDING ME? When we called the police to come and do the report, he told us that he had been on our block already that day because we were not the only ones. At least we know it's random and not that someone has some beef with us.

I was able to get a decent price ($250) to get it replaced, so we are going to do that rather than report it to our insurance. Our insurance deductible is $400 so we have nothing to gain by reporting it. I was able to schedule the appointment online and they'll be out sometime today and fix it right in the parking lot at my job.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Living Like No One Else

Today I had the chance to share with a few ladies at church about how we are really living like no one else right now. As in, we are clearly focused on eliminating our debts, committing our finances to following Christian principles, and living a frugal lifestyle. It's a whole shift in thinking and living, and it's honestly not for the faint at heart, or for someone trying to keep up with the Joneses.

So what does it mean to live as a member of the Ward family? It means:

1. Living off 90% of our income because our tithe check is written before all others.

2. Coupon clipping, sale shopping, and menu planning to squeeze every last penny we can from our grocery budget.

3. Participating in Angel Food Ministries to round out our grocery shopping.

4. Clothes are never bought at full price. I scour the clearance racks and buy ahead sizes when I see something I just can't pass up. Lauren already has a jacket for next winter because I found one for $7 on clearance at JcPenney. Bought now for $7 instead of the first snowfall for $50. Now that I think about it, all 3 of my kids have winter jackets ready to go for next winter! I've spent $17 on jackets: $10 Nathan, $7 Lauren, and Nick has Nathan's old jacket that was bought for $10 about 6 years ago.

5. I pack my lunch for work and bring that along with me daily. There are a lot of days where I have meetings that provide lunch, so that's always a bonus. When I get things like cookies or other snacks like that, I toss them in my purse and bring them home for Nathan to take in his lunch. I certainly don't need the cookies!

6. I cut my dryer sheets in half. I tried using a bunch of other things in my laundry and nothing worked to eliminate the static electricity. So, the best I can do is cut them in half and buy the Sam's Club brand ones.

7. We traded in my Toyota that had over $12,000 still owed on it and bought a much cheaper vehicle. Not only do I love my minivan, we can all sit very comfortably in it, something we could not do in the Toyota.

8. Economize on gas. Everytime we get in the car to go somewhere, we think about what else we can combine into the trip to save us a bit on gas. If we go into town for something, it is not a one store trip. In a few weeks, I am combining a trip for work into a visit with my family, and that is going to work out very well for us!

9. We don't go on vacations and instead find fun things to do around town. We live near a beautiful lake, so people come HERE to vacation, why would we leave? Eventually we'll go on a few family vacations I am sure, but not until we can pay for them 100% with cash.

10. Every dollar spent is intentional and maximized. If I am buying gas, I see if it's cheaper to go to Speedway since I build up Speedway rewards points. If I am buying something online, I go through MyPoints to earn points. At the end of the year, we cash in all of our points and use them towards gifts. This past Christmas we were able to get a $25 gift card to Omaha Steaks, 2 $10 gift cards to Panera Bread, a $10 gift card to Cracker Barrell, and a $25 gift card to Lowe's. We're already on track to pull a repeat performance this year at Christmas, I am pretty excited!

So anyways, that's just a tiny glimpse into the ways we've found to cut the budget bare bones and not rely on debt to sustain our family. It's not always glamorous, but we know that it will not be this way forever and we'll have some breathing room soon and that makes us even more determined to be debt free forever even sooner!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Just a quick ticker update now that I factored in the new car loan amount.

More Progress

Matt and I are still making progress on our goal of being debt free. It's just hard to claim victory right now because we are just in a low point. Once his paychecks start picking up more with the new camp season we'll really be able to attack things full force.

One thing we did do this past week though was we made the decision to downgrade our cell phone plan. I compared our last 3 cell phone bills and saw that we were hardly touching our minutes and that I was just being wasteful with text messaging because it was included in our plan. By downgrading our plan we'll save about $20/month.

I am waiting on some mystery shopping payments to come in, and I am going to dump that right into our snowball for the month.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Diaper Deal

So via Savings Angel, I found out about a GREAT diaper deal this week at Walgreens. So knowing that I was going to load up, I recruited some friends at work to print off coupons from me since there is a 2 copy limit from the website ( per IP address. I work in an office with over a hundred people, and when there are times like this, I am happy to have so many IP addresses to choose from!

What I ended up with:
8 packs Huggies Supreme
2 packs Huggies wipes (182ct)
1 tube of Colgate (and it had a free travel size with it!)
1 Glade Plug dual air freshner
1 Glade sensor air freshner
2 bottles of Garnier Fructus shampoo/conditioner
5 packs of Eclipse gum

Total spent: $35.02
Total saved: $115.83

The Huggies are regular priced for $12 per pack, and Nick can only wear size 6 Huggies because he's so big for his age. So I bought 7 packs of the size 6's and 1 pack of the size 4's for Lauren knowing she'll be wearing those soon enough. Since this deal is so hot, the pickings were pretty slim, so I was happy with what I was able to get my hands on! I am debating on going for another round of the stores later this week even...We'll see!

Weekly Shopping

I wanted to post my amazing diaper deal today, but I misplaced 2 of my receipts, so I will have to do that tomorrow. It's a great one, probably one of the best ones ever in fact.

But what I will post is my Meijer shopping trip that I did today on my lunch hour. I ran into a co-worker there and she was amazed at the fist full of coupons I had. I had quite a bit in my cart, and I told her that I was probably up to about $10 by that point, which even that blew her away.

Items purchased:
3lbs of bananas, 1 bottle of organic ketchup, 3 2ltrs of Pepsi, 2 boxes of brownie mix, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 4 boxes of Ziplock bags, 4 boxes of Fiber One bars, 4 boxes of Curves granola bars, 4 boxes of Strawberry Yogurt Cheerios,

Total before coupons and sales: $60.79
Total spent: $20.61

On my way into work, I made a quick stop to Hardings to pick up yogurt that was on sale this week and came away with:

7 cups of Dannon yogurt, 3 bags of Chex mix, 1 bag of croutons

Total spent before coupons: $7.77
Total spent: $3.77

Yes, we are a pretty breakfast heavy household, in fact I think my kids would eat breakfast food for dinner every night of the week if I let them.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Murphy Again.....

Dave certainly tells it straight when he says that once you get on the path to living debt free, you are instantly inviting Murphy (as in Murphy's Law) to visit you on a regular basis. February was a killer month with car accidents and sickness, and here we are on March 2 with more of the sick!

Yesterday I had to go to Urgent Care after a car seat installation project gone horribly wrong. Thankfully one $10 copay covered the visit plus tetanus shot. But today Matt took Lauren and Nick to the Dr ($10 each) and Lauren STILL has a touch of pneumonia, and she also has an ear infection ($60 in prescriptions!). So in less than 24 hours, we've paid $90 out of pocket just in SICK and it's only March 2.

Looks like I am going to have to really kick up my mystery shopping this month if we are going to stay on plan.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vehicle Purchase

We purchased a replacement vehicle on Thursday and I am thrilled! It's been such a struggle to balance me getting to work, Matt getting to work, and all the fun stuff in between like Lauren going to the Dr with pneumonia.

We test drove a few Grand Voyager's and looked at a few other older minivans and just didn't get much to choose from. We were ready to buy one from a place down the road from us, but there was some concern about the water pump, and he wasn't willing to replace it or come down on price, so we had to walk away. It was so unnerving because all I wanted to do was just get something and get on already.

So Thursday Matt found an amazing deal online for a 2001 Honda Odyssey. Slightly outside of our budget, but for a Honda, it was something that we had to stop and take a look at. After a test drive and running the numbers, we decided to break our own rule and finance part of the cost of the vehicle. We did put down the $4000 we had intended to use for a vehicle and financed $2480 for 2 years knowing that we'll have it paid off by the end of this year. In actuality, it was only $1480 more than we owed on the van I totaled.

I know, I am still justifying the purchase to myself. I realize we backslid and went off plan. Ultimately though, I really feel as though we made a good purchase since we were able to get a very safe, very reliable vehicle that is going to last our family a very, very long time.

Frugal Living Resources

Dave says to eat lots of beans and rice, and when you get tired of that, eat some rice and beans. Matt and I actually have been eating red beans and rice quite a bit lately, and I have to say it's tasty if done right! We use bacon to make it, and that brings a lot of flavor. We pretty much buy any bacon (READ: CHEAP) that's on sale and I haven't noticed a different in taste at all.

I was checking my email this evening and got my update from the Hillbilly Housewife and thought that it would be a great addition to my blog. I love her updates! And there is just a ton of great information on her site.

I use her menu planning options for Angel Food Ministries to help get ideas on what to make with some of the things that come with the monthly box of food. I have an amazing homemade sweet and sour sauce recipe I got that way that is just awesome, and it's not glow in the dark red.

I do keep handy my copy of the Tightwad Gazette, but because it's a book it is a point in time reference. There just isn't anything new in it, so it's great to look through, but nothing new is being added, and that's where Hillbilly Housewife comes in.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Over $18,000 in debt has been eliminated since September 1, 2008!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The claim on the van has been settled. Hooray!

As frugal as we are trying to be, I am so glad that I have AAA insurance. They have really worked hard to make this process go smoothly and I really feel that their settlement number to us is very fair. I know that I could probably find some cheapie car insurance company out there, but when you have a claim like this, it's nice to know that you are being taken care of adequately.

So the numbers came down to
Balance of the loan: $5090.19
Amount of the claim: $4843.50
Amount we owe: $246.69

Considering we rolled money from my Toyota into the loan for the van, I am very pleased!

That leaves us with nearly $4000 (if not $5000 if we have to tap into the BEF) to purchase a vehicle in cash. I can't wait! NO MORE CAR LOANS--EVER! Yes, freedom is creeping into our lives, and so much faster than I ever imagined! My Toyota was financed for 7 YEARS in August 2006. If we had made our regular payments, we would not have been car loan free until 2013!

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Limbo

I was talking to Matt last night about how I am so frustrated right at this moment by our vehicle situation. Thankfully my friend Jill has been able to drive me to work most days, so that leaves Matt with a vehicle in case the kids have an issue (since 2 of 3 have been sick). But that leaves me pretty stranded at work so I can't do errands or shopping on my lunch hour like I've become used to doing. Not to mention, the vehicle we do have is not the ideal situation for our kids. All three kids sit in one row, with Nick in the middle to irritate Nathan and Lauren on either side of him. If he's not kicking Nathan, he's poking Lauren in the face, smart girl has learned how to bite back ;-)

What else is frustrating is that we don't know where we are in our debt elimination plan. Yes, we still owe money on the van, but until we get a settlement number we don't know if we owe a difference or if it's going to be paid completely off. We hesitate to jump into another vehicle until we know exactly what money we have left to work with.

And in an optimistic note, we had a showing on our house on Friday. I wish I could say we had gotten an offer, but nothing as of yet. We aren't picky, we'll take whatever they offer, they just have to make it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Some Shopping Savings

Just wanted to throw it out there some of the shopping I managed to squeeze in today.

4 packs of BIC razors, 1 bottle of saline solution, 1 tube of Colgate toothpaste, 1 bottle Garnier Fructis Conditioner.
Total before sale prices: $34.35
Sales: ($5.80)
Coupons: ($13.75)
Total: $14.80
After rebates: $8.46

Considering the razors are normally $5.99 for a pack of 4, I am pretty happy with this trip. Matt shaves his head and has very sensitive skin, so whenever I can find these particular razors on sale, I stock up.

I also had to run to Meijer to pick up my vitamins (do you know that they do free prenatal vitamins there???), and picked up a few groceries while I was in the store waiting. I snagged a bunch of 6 organic bananas that were marked down to 37cents! I was pretty happy with that since my kids will eat bananas morning, noon, and night. I am not sure what the criteria is that they use to mark down their produce, but even their mark downs are in better shape and last longer than our local grocery store!

bunch of bananas, 2 bags of Quaker rice cakes, 4 boxes of pizza rolls, 2 liter of Dr. Pepper, 10 cups of Dannon yogurt, 3 cups of soy yogurt, 2 cups of Meijer yogurt, 10 Lean Gourmet's (quick lunches for me at work), 2 Lipton side dishes.

Total before sale prices: $39.86
Total after sales and coupons: $16.07

Not one of my better trips, but not the worst either. Lauren and I have been eating a lot of yogurt, and Nick has taken a liking to it as well, so I have been buying more of that lately. Unfortunately, Nick can only have the soy yogurt, so I can't get as good of a deal on it as I can with the bigger national brands. But you can bet if I can find some coupons for Silk Soy yogurt, I am going to load up!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Minor Setback Or Is It?

The final word is in, the van is a total loss. So we are back to the drawing board so to speak. We can't really make a determination where we are financially in this mess until we know how much our insurance is going to pay out on the claim. We looked around online a little bit, and there really aren't many comparable older vehicles for sale in our area to really put it up against, so I am not sure how it will go.

I was able to cancel the large payment I sent through last week, so at least we don't have that money tied up. We just don't want to run out and buy a new vehicle with it until we know if we're taking a loss on it or not.

We are leaning towards buying another inexpensive vehicle and paying cash outright for it. So far we've combed through Craigslist to see what's out there and what we have to look at. But again, hesitant to make a move until we know more about our claim.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Valentine's Day Gift From Murphy

Just one day after funding our emergency fund back to full status, we welcomed Murphy to our house on Valentine's Day.

I was at a conference for work and Matt called because one of his employee's couldn't make it to work. So, I had to leave the conference early so that he could get to work. I was driving home and the roads were a million times better than when I left in the morning, so I was just driving along. I was stopped at the light and it turned green, so I went. Well there must have been a lot of slush piled up on the road that I just didn't see and my van started swerving side to side. I let go of the wheel and took my foot off the gas and in a blur I saw myself going towards the guard rail on the bridge over the highway. All I could do is close my eyes and pray that I didn't flip the van over the rail. The passenger side of my van hit the rail twice, once in the front and once in the back and I was on the opposite side of the road I started on and facing like I was driving southbound and just pulled over for a flat tire. Aside from the pieces of my van all over the road and the huge dent in the rail, you wouldn't know that I had just did some serious damage.

I wish I could say I could have driven the van home and it was just banged up a bit, but it really was not safe to drive with a good portion of the front end pushed into the wheel well. Thankfully we have good roadside coverage with AAA and Matt called for towing and came up to pick me up. The police came out and took a report and wrote me a ticket (which I expected since I did hit something).

I called and filed the claim tonight with AAA and it looks like we're going to be responsible for the $400 deductible, about $15 in towing fees (our limit is 15 miles and it was 19), and whatever the ticket costs me.

A crappy Valentine's Day, but I count my blessings:

1. I am alive
2. I was alone, my kids were not in the car
3. My airbags did not deploy (this is a strange fear of mine)
4. Nothing inside the car was broken

The inspector is coming out on Tuesday and we'll know how bad the damage is. We really, really hope that the van isn't a total loss. We really like it!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Huge Chunk Gone!

Our tax returns are coming in and hitting our bank account over the next few days. We already got our state return back, and federal will hit tomorrow. We were expecting a larger return from MI than we ended up getting because we didn't do our property tax piece correctly. Thankfully the state was kind enough to fix our error and adjust our tax return accordingly *snicker*.

So this is what we did with our tax returns:

1. Replenished the emergency fund
2. Paid property taxes
3. Paid $4000 towards our van loan

Not as much as we had hoped, but still very significant. We were REALLY counting on paying the van off completely, but it just wasn't in the cards this time.

Matt and I went back and forth a little over what direction we should take with the money, and I felt very strongly in replenishing the emergency fund first. We've tapped it a couple of times and it was looking pretty slim, and when else are we going to get an opportunity to do it all at once rather than holding up our snowball for a month or so? It just seemed to make more sense.

Yesterday we also found out that our house payment is going up about $200/month because of losing our Homestead Property Tax exemption. Not only do we take a hit on our state taxes by not being able to claim our property taxes, we are taxed at the much higher rate. We are fortunate to be living in Matt's mom's house right now that is completely paid for, but we are paying the property taxes on it. Unfortunately, that puts us in a position where we are paying taxes on 2 houses in MI, neither of which are at the exempt rate. Go figure.

So my logic was that if things fall apart and this $200 increase puts us behind, we NEED that emergency fund fully stocked to be able to fall back on. We talked through it, and even though it wasn't what Matt really wanted to do, he agreed to it.

I think we both just need to come to terms with the fact that we didn't hit our goal this month of paying off our van, and that's a little blow to the momentum, but we did accomplish 3 pretty significant things. We have to celebrate ALL victories and I declare VICTORY!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shopping Day

Tuesday is typically the day of the week I do my shopping. That gives me all of Monday to get coupons in order from the weekend and make sure that I am getting the best price possible from all of my options available.

2 rolls of Bounty, Garnier shampoo, saline solution, 2 bottles of Fantastik
Total before coupons: $18.81
Total after coupons: $9.53
Total of mail in rebates: $7.98
Net total: $1.55

2lbs of bananas, Bbq sauce, 4 boxes of Meijer brand cereal, 2 boxes of Fiber One bars, 2 boxes of Fiber One muffin mix, 2 bottles of Vaseline lotion, 3 bags of pizza slices, 2 4pks of YoPlus yogurt, 1 bag of Chex Mix, 2 tubs of frosting, Herbal Essence Shampoo, Herbal Essence Conditioner, 2 cans of Progresso Soup
Total before coupons: $75.81
Total after coupons: $25.02

It's exhausting to go from store to store and clip the coupons, but the time investment is worth it to me. The key is to stock up on things so that you don't get in a position where you are out and have to pay full price or a less than "good" sale price.

When I find that I have too much of something, I am able to donate it or give it to a family member. I have some loose guidelines in my head that I follow, for example I won't pay more than 50cents for a tube of toothpaste, so I am usually giving away something that I paid a fraction of the cost for and can possibly help someone else out. My goal is to get a full stockpile of things so that I can get to the point where I am just picking up free stuff and donating it to the Project Hope Food Pantry or the Ronald McDonald House.

Monday, February 9, 2009

How I Save Money

Here is the site I use to cut my grocery bill.

The monthly investment is $20 and my typical grocery bill is $200/month at the very most.

I consider myself a coupon warrior!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Fun Weekend

We had some errands to run this weekend in town and it's quite a process to get 3 kids loaded up in the van and on the road. Not to mention we are trying to be very conservative with our gas in the van, so we don't make a trip for just one thing anymore.

So we set out on Saturday with a few things to get taken care of. Stop at Lowe's to exchange a light fixture, a stop at Barnes and Noble to use a gift card Nathan had gotten for his birthday, Matt wanted to run into Dunham's to check on backpacks, and I had a pack of socks I bought for Lauren that were too small.

After we went to Lowe's we went across the street to the mall (Centerpointe, the dead mall) and Matt went into Dunham's to look around. This was a great opportunity for me to take Nick and Lauren and let them run loose in the play area. Most mall play areas are just gross, but since this mall is essentially vacant, it's not really crowded and it's not full of kids too big to be playing. I think that they played for a good hour!! It worked out great because Matt and I were able to trade off the supervision and I got to walk around Old Navy (looking for markdowns on winter jackets for Nathan for next year) . I think we spent less than $2 on the trip and that was change in the bottom of my purse when I let the kids ride one of those silly car rides.

So after that we went across the road to Barnes and Noble. Nathan has had a gift card for a few weeks now and we just haven't had a chance to use it. Since we were out this way, why not. Well nobody told me that the B&N had a MASSIVE Thomas the Train table there for kids to play with. Why was I left out of this? Nick is our biggest challenge when we go out, so this was perfect. Nathan got to look around for books (Pokemon and Star Wars), and I had Lauren and Nick at the train table. The only slight problem we had was physically removing Nick from the store when it was time to go. He had that much fun at the train table. The only money spent was Nathan's, quite an accomplishment for me and Matt since we are both very avid readers of pretty much anything we can get our hands on.

Somewhere along the way we had decided we were going to eat Chinese that night. Not really a big deal because we don't eat out much at all and have actually been spending considerably less since we've been living Dave's way. But Lauren fell asleep in the car as did Nick at Barnes and Noble so we took the scenic route down to Wal-Mart for me to exchange those socks.

Dinner worked out pretty well. I am not typically a die hard Chinese buffet person, but this place really does have something for everyone, which is a HUGE struggle in our family. Nick has got to be the pickiest eater in the world. But when you have a buffet option, you can pretty much find something for everyone. He ate a huge plate of pineapple, bananas, a few french fries, and apples. It could be worse and it's probably the most I've seen him eat at one setting in weeks. No complaints here.

We finally made it home after being gone alllll day and when we tallied up the damage I was quite proud of us. Nathan spent the most money (a game for his DS, a little extra at the bookstore) and we had a pretty enjoyable day together. I think that the key was that we let the kids run loose a bit and burn off some energy.

We visited a church in town today that we have never gone to before because it was "Scout Sunday". They had the scouts and leaders wear their uniforms and talked about serving.

Oh and here's something to throw in there! I was checking my credit card balance online, which I do almost obsessively because I love watching it go down, down, down...and noticed that a $400 payment I had made wasn't on the account! So I clicked on it and looked further and I had a LATE FEE! WHAT!?! Turns out that Chase and their new online bill payment tripped me up and I made a mistake when I made my last payment to them. I got them on the phone, and the nice woman in India transferred me back to the US to someone named Jason who looked at my account and saw that I wasn't trying to play a scam on them or anything and reversed the fee off and let me make the payment right away.

I can't wait to be debt free so that I don't have to worry about this kind of crap EVER AGAIN!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Where We Are Today

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fun Post!

Here's a fun (long post) taken from Facebook:


the value of your car doubles every time you fill the gas tank!

you buy a soda and immediately start calculating how much money you would have in 30 years if you had put that $1.00 into a Roth IRA.

…you walk around with money in your wallet.

…you see a guy driving a 15 year old car and you think, I wonder if he would sell it to me . know 15 different recipes for rice and beans.…

the voice in your head now has a southern accent, and you are from the Northeast, from listening to DR so much throughout the day!

…you discover that you have a Little Dave in your head.

...someone says you are weird, and you say 'thank you!'

...the alarm on your watch reminds you to balance your checkbook....every day.

…you only have pity for someone when you observe the latest vehicle purchase, furniture purchase, house rehab, ... made in effort to keep up with the joneses.

…you had 4 very successful yards sales and you can still find things to sell.

…the bumper sticker on the back of your car reads: "My other car actually has a hood!"

…your automatic response to the phrase "Mom, I want..." is "Save up!" count late fees from the library as an addition to your debt snowball. call your spouse excitedly to tell him/her you have saved up enough in the emergency account to get old junker worked on (including replacing the windshield wipers)

.…it pains you to pull out your credit card and you hear Dave's voice telling you, "Does it look like I have stupid on my forehead?."

…you start using your unsolicited credit applications as tinder for your fireplace.

…you respond "better than I deserve" every time someone asks you how you're doing.

…you start a sentence with "Well, Dave says..." and your friends just roll their eyes and walk away.

…the guy who works at Quik-Trip makes fun of you for putting cash your QT Gas Card every week instead of just using your debit card.

…someone looks at you weird when you tell them you ONLY pay cash and actually GET cash out of the bank every payday.

…you see someone in a BMW, and think "moron is fleecing it I bet".

…you scrape the soap scum off of the side of your tub to make a "new" bar.

…your wife makes you take off your socks; but not your orange wristband!

…you walk down a row of cars at the mall and wonder how many might be paid for.

…your teenagers ask if Dave will let us get take-out pizza on the week-end, and our reply is Dave would want us to make home made pizza instead.

…you count out the slices of ham to see if they will last the week's lunches.

…you make your kid's grilled cheese sandwich with only 1/2 a slice of cheese. say, "Because Dave said so," every time your kids ask why they have to eat beans and rice again.

…an acquaintance calls your house and asks to speak with your husband Dave.

…you scream, "NO!" in the checkout line after seeing someone pull out their credit card to pay for their groceries.

…grandma asks you what Johnny wants for his birthday/Christmas and you reply, "Actually, any donation amount to his ESP would be fine." Even better when you immediately hand her a pre-printed piece of paper with his account information.

…you scream "NOOO! DON'T DO IT! when you see the people about to do a debt CONsolidation on a TV commercial.

…you rinse out a sandwich bag for reuse.

…you think "I wonder if there's a way to reuse toilet paper."

…your children run and hide in a panic when you ask them "I wonder what I can sell on Ebay Now?"

…you feel good about paying a student loan off early at 1.875% interest, instead of investing that in mutual funds at 12%

.…the girl behind the register asks you "Credit or Debit," and you snap back at her without thinking "I don't have a stinking credit card... do I look stupid?"

…you see other people who are driving nice brand new expensive cars who think they have it all when you know how wrong they really are. (unless they paid cash for it, which I highly doubt)

…you're snowball is made of chips of plastic, checks, coins, and currency, instead of ice and water.

…you do a cost per pound analysis on the tomatoes from your garden.

…you've cut your dryer sheets in half to get double the use per box.

…your teen daughter preaches to her friends the dangers of credit cards.

…your hubbies millionaire boss is impressed while his broke co-workers are making fun of him.

…you've cut your own hair to avoid paying a hairstylist (just this past evening).

…you've filled up on leftover hamburger helper before going out with friends and only ordering iced tea.

...your mom feels bad for your rice and beans diet that she brings you groceries every time she comes over.

... you have your son's first birthday party at home, with homemade food and a homemade cake, instead of one of those party places with a store-bought cake, like you did your other son's birthday party.

... your husband keeps trying to talk you into getting a new van, but you have the nerve to tell him maybe after the debt snowball, but for now, would he please just fix the durn thing?

... your kids ask for store-bought waffles or some other convenience food, and get a five minute lecture on how much cheaper and healthier it is to eat it cooked from scratch. feel sorry for your friend when she goes on a shopping spree, instead of jealous.

…you ask to purchase a cell phone battery because yours is not charging and the sales person behind the counter says it is cheaper to upgrade the phone to a new one ... and you look at her and think has she lost her mind.

…your family believes that you have lost your marbles and says things to you like but you can afford it dear...and it will make you feel so much better.

…the internal temperature in the house is 62 degrees and you try to justify turning the thermostat down a little bit more to save on energy costs.

…you wear all your dry cleanables at least 2-3 times so you don't have to take them back to the cleaners yet.

…your 9 & 7 YO kids:
-yell at the infomercials on tv: "you just want our money! That stuff doesn't work!"
-ask you to set up a another savings fund because they want a [fill in the blank here]
-ask to go to the second hand shop to pick up some computer games
-believe in Santa because Mom & Dad would NEVER buy all that stuff!

…the co-workers in the cubicles around you begin to whisper about their new car purchases and leases, because they know they're about to get another Lecture on stupidity!

…you can listen to another channel during commercials and turn back to the Dave Ramsey Show at exactly the right time for the next segment.

…you clip coupons for $0.25 off at the $1.75 cleaners!

…you go shopping for a new purse, and it HAS TO BE a shape to work with your envelopes. rinse out a paper towel and lay it on the counter to dry for use again later.

…when you go to the bank the teller says "Oh, it must be allowance day."

…you call the bank to check a client's loan history and the teller who usually waits on you answers the phone and after hearing who are you says, "it's not time for your allowance yet."

…the teller who usually waits on you is busy but tells the teller helping you "She doesn't want an envelope, she has her own."

…you have a piece of paper taped down to your computer desk to write down the exact hour/minute you left off while listening online. So you can find the right spot the next day when you listen again. So you don't miss a second of the show!

…you hear the beginning of Baker Street (the DR theme song) on the radio you get really disappointed that they play the whole song, and it's not followed by a DR segment.

…you calculate other people's stupid tax for them.

…your regular teller writes a note to the kids explaining that the computer was down and that mom really couldn’t fill the envelopes that day!

…YOU see THE NEW 2007 SUBURBAN with someone else driving it and start screaming...y’all have my debt payment!!!

…you have literally taped your debit cards in your wallet.

…your family is watching tv with a jacket on in the winter because your too cheap to turn the heat on.

…every time you are riding beside a brand new or really nice car, you say to yourself, 'Their Broke'.

...…the thought of shopping for stuff you don't need makes you ill. move in with your in laws to save money. see furniture on the side of the road and you realize it's in better shape than your own. use credit cards and Satan in the same sentence. price compare thrift shops for the best bargain. still have money on your Christmas gift card cause you really really can't spend the money.

…you have Baker Street for a ring tone on your cell phone. the first sign of spring you start planning your garage sale.

…you enter a store and see no clearance racks and immediately walk out.

…you wait till your son is working at your favorite pizza joint to order because he gets a 30% employee discount (only when he is working)

…you waited to upgrade your TMMO to a yearly subscription until you were sure you would be receiving the brand new edition of the book instead of the old one.

…you can't wait until the show is over to download it onto your IPOD.

…you work at a dept store and another employee comes through your line and I ask "Will this be Associate Cash?" and they immediately go into an explanation about why it has to go on their dept store card.

…your sons ask for a ROTH IRA for Christmas!

...your unemployed EX spends $18.80 to Express mail your kid $10.00 cash in a card and some candy in a box. Your kid rolls his eyes and says "He could be using this money for groceries! What's wrong with him?”

…you re-arrange the books at the bookstore so DR books stand out the most!

…you make your own laundry soap for 3 cents per load and cannot keep from telling everyone you know how to do it themselves!!!

…you use vinegar for fabric softener and actually make people sniff your sleeve to prove to them that it actually works!

…you get up at 4-5am every morning (and don't have to) to pack your spouse's lunch so he won't eat out at fast food joints.

…you are excited at the opportunity to go grocery shopping and whip out the crazy envelope wallet in the hopes that it will spur a conversation with anyone about getting out of debt!!

…your dear husband actually calls you Dave. Tells the waitress at the restaurant to "give the bill to Dave" and points at you.

…you shed tears watching the baby gazelle escape the cheetah "go baby go go go go go!" or even typing it.

…you see someone driving an economical 88 honda accord and you know that it has to be paid for and your are jealous.

..…you can walk out of Home Depot for under $20 and paid for it with cash.

..…you keep a budget on your fridge in your purse and on your mirror in the bathroom to remind you what you are trying to do!

…you can spend less than $3 dollars at Wendy's and feed two people.

…you decide Beano is too expensive for your rice and bean budget. ask your husband if he has gas and he thinks you are talking about gas due to the rice and bean budget instead of the car.

…when they were talking about making soap out of bathtub scum and you were thinking of credit card collector scum.

...your pets have their own envelope.

...dear husband is jealous because the pets used coupons, bought on sale, and had some money "left over" so they got to buy the pet toys they had their eyes on. are shopping for office supplies with the company credit card and still feel bad. are shopping for office supplies for work and can't bear to not compare prices, buy generic and get the very best deal. are eating off a card table because you would rather put your money toward a fully funded emergency fund.

...your mother-in-law writes a check at the bank for cash and puts it in an envelope, because you are with her buying holiday groceries.

...your friends who have been in FPU with you see you at the store and quickly pull out their envelopes and wave them at you as if you are the "Envelope Police." have change piles in different areas of your house. Waiting... waiting just in case you don't have enough money in your envelopes. But you never use it because you always make it to payday! have enough checks to last you three years, because you ordered them BDR (Before Dave Ramsey). know exactly what Dave is going to say to any question that is asked of him, and you can't help cringing... and snickering....knowing that they will be informed really soon!

…your 5&6 y.o. go around saying, "Credit cards are EVIL! Evil I tell ya" and your 2 y.o. follows them around saying, "Evil, Evil."

…your kids don't even bother asking for the toy anymore at McD's.

…you feel guilty for even going to McD's.

…your kids randomly say, "my dad's in Iraq making money because we're really poor" to strangers.

…you hear your kids talking about asking for something & one of them says, "You know we don't have money for that, but maybe we can ask mom if we can save up."

…you can recite Dave's opening at the beginning of every hour: "Live from Financial Peace Plaza, it's The Dave Ramsey Show! Where debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid-off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice. I am Dave Ramsey, your host, and this is the BEST is talkradio. Service oriented talkradio. Talkradio that matters. Talkradio about you and for you. [The rest varies]"

…you use crayons to color in squares, squares that represent money paid on a debt that's blown up and taped to your fridge. And you REALLY enjoy coloring in those squares!!'s a good thing to be awake in the middle of the night thinking about money. Not because you can't sleep from fear but because you can't sleep for thinking about what you can cut to pay off the debt sooner.

...a really NICE gift for Valentine's Day is a steak dinner. And you about die when you sink your teeth into that first bite because it's been a year and a half since you've had steak. sit here literally bawling your eyes out from happiness when you get a family member hooked on DR. think the best $100 you've ever spent is for 10 TMMO books that you hand out to friends and co-workers. If it changes even one family it was money well spent a hundred times over!…your 10 yr. old tells you your "cheap".

…you see everyone around you in fancy cars and your first thought is "suckers".

…you see the "immigrants" driving some beat up car with 4 guys riding together and think that's really smart, good for them.

…your neighbor owns an $80K boat and is not satisfied and wants a $100K boat on his equity line and you feel sorry for him for not understanding this is debt.

…your 11 yr. understands that credit cards are a bad idea. …your 11 yr. tells his younger brother he will help him when he's a millionaire since he's saving his money.

…your kids can tell their friends they have Money Market accts at a high yield.

…you have a panic attack when you see someone spend money on toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant or aspirin.

…you catch yourself saying "what a rip-off" because a sale is only 75% off.

…you can repeat just about all of the commercials, and you can repeat word for word the disclaimer at the end of the show. "This program is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. This information is given with the understanding that neither the host nor this station is engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice. Since the details of your situation are fact dependent, you should additionally seek the services of a competent professional".

…your icon picture is an old picture of Dave!

…your 11 year old son can calculate the interest earned/paid on a specific dollar amount for a year, in his head.

…your 8 year old daughter gets teased at school for being poor and your family income is over 100K.

…your 8 year old daughter responds to being called poor by telling the person she's rich because her family loves and supports her.

…you hear of a friend getting a big settlement (100k) and the first thing out of your mouth is, "You had better be paying off debt!"

…your neighbor just bought a $35,000 SUV because they need more room now that they have a baby (whatever) and you know they look down their noses at our 10 year old paid for car and instead of feeling jealous of their new purchase you know that you really are the lucky ones because you will be debt free except the house by May! save over $70 on a hotel room and then refuse to spend an extra $10 to upgrade to a room with a view.

…you ask your child to help you think of a "you might be a Dave Ramsey fan if...." and he says..."I AM NOT A DAVE RAMSEY FAN"...where was that support group?

…you hear about someone winning a large sum of money and you think about how much debt you could pay off if you had won it.

…you hear about someone winning a large sum of money and you think about how you could have an FFEF if you had won it.

…you hear about someone winning a large sum of money and you think of all the ways you would invest it.

…your idea of a big Friday night date with your spouse is sitting reading blogs of other Dave Ramsey fans… and having a blast because we see ourselves.

…your 6 year old asks you if we're debt free yet

…you over hear your six year old telling grandma "when we're debt free" I'm getting such and such

…you ask your 15 year Daughter old to grab that cd' out of the burner (of the Ramsey show) so you can listen to it on the way to work and when you go to put it in the car you realize she has titled the disc... "oh Crap" its dave again!!!!

…you get the kids a new puppy and you name Him Murphy/ Ramsey and the goldfish are named Broke, Desperate and stupid.

…you find yourself jackknifed in a trailer park because the beater that you just bought had to be towed with a car dolly.

…your coworkers start answering their own question: "I know ... better than you deserve" just after they asked the question "How are you?"

.…it makes you cringe to say "credit" when using your check card, when asked "Debit or credit?"

…you ask for an estimate at the veterinary office during an emergency visit, before deciding what you can afford that day, because you already depleted your baby emergency fund for an emergency dental visit for yourself.

…you delay necessary dental procedures until the money you paid for the last medical visit/dental procedure has cleared your insurance, flexible spending account and been reimbursed back into your account.

…your "blow money" envelope is only $10 to $20 per week, and that is used on groceries, making you realize that you need to increase your grocery cash envelope and decrease some other category.

…you pay certain people in cash just because they take so long to deposit your checks that it takes longer for you to balance your checkbook.

…you turn down invitations to lunch, etc. because it is "not in the budget"

.…instead of giving people towels, etc. that they asked for, for their wedding, you give them Dave Ramsey books (all 10, which includes the two Spanish ones and the three workbooks, if you are feeling generous), because you want to make absolutely sure that they are on the same page with their money going into their marriage.

…you ask "How much" instead of "How much down? or "How much per month?"

.…you have a lot of Dave Ramsey "isms" playing a tape in your head, and find yourself repeating them (or at least wanting to repeat them) as soon as someone starts to even suggest the idea of doing something unwise/ill-advised with money.

…your then 9 year old daughter graciously receives a gift card from her Aunt and then discreetly whispers in your ear, "Is this debt?"

…you have to tell the bank teller the number of each specific denomination you need when you get your cash so it will be easily split between your 7 envelopes AND so the 3 kids on commission who need to be paid in all ones can easily split their commission for their OWN envelopes.

…you live without a working oven for 7 months so you can save for the replacement all the while mastering the art of baking on the top rack of your gas grill.

...your 10 year olds 1 year old bike suddenly has new life when she is told she will have to replace it with her own money since she has not outgrown it, if she no longer "likes" it

.…"freeeeedom" is no longer thought of as a phrase from Braveheart, but rather a signal that someone is debt free.

…you read ten pages of posts.

…you cringe while the in-laws explain the benefits of getting down to two credit cards (his and hers!) when you try to get them on the Dave Ramsey bandwagon.

…the tellers at your bank keeps track of where you are in line and pace their work to try to get you to use another teller; all because they know you'll be overloading them with requests for strange combinations of various monetary denominations to put in your dozen envelopes.

…you give your 8year old son a quarter for him to pay for a small notebook and when you ask for the change he says it was his money.(no pockets -drops coins twice in the walk over to me) I explain that it was my quarter that he paid for the book with... Then in front of the check-out he screams "But that is BORROWING you are NOT suppose to borrow". (coins go in bag with book)

…you would rather learn how to sew a slip cover than to spend money on a new couch watch other people go out for lunch during work and feel bad for them plan camping vacations months in advance, not to make sure you can get the time off but so it doesn't throw your budget off.

…you begin referring to yourself as the "King of cheap Saturday" know, walks in the park, making sandwiches, free movies at the town plaza.

…you felt bad for whomever brought their brand-new Chrysler Minivan to the Dallas Live Event (complete with window sticker). Talk about putting a damper on the day!

…the van breaks down and you think, "Is this REALLY an emergency, I could just walk to work for the next month. It's only a couple miles." because you don't want to disturb the BEF dreamed you were delivering pizza and you showed up at Dave's house... and you live in Illinois.

..…you look forward to Monday because it's Military discount day at the thrift store!

…you get back from eating out and figure that the one hour lunch away from work cost $8.25, 2 Arby's meals bought with coupons cost $8.66= Total cost $16.91!!!! ARGH- Could have brought PB & J!

…you associate "Another One Bites the Dust" with plasectomy. actually know what a plasectomy is.

…after breaking your little toe, you ask your husband, (while crying from the pain) to check with the Urgent Care Center to see if they are cheaper than the emergency room at the hospital.

…you give your 2-year-old and 4-year-old pennies to throw in the fountain and then feel immediate remorse for it because you could have saved those pennies and contributed to another cash envelope.

…you use cash and think about how weird that is to be doing that.

…you take off the labels off tin cans and use them for writing paper to save money.

…you overhear your 9 year old and 7 year old sons discussing a lost toy and accusing mom of selling it on e-bay.

…you spend hours, literally, making out weekly menu's based on sale papers.

…you cut off your hair to save on shampoo & conditioner.

…someone asks your kids what flavor kool aid they drink at your home and they say, "Dave Ramsey."

…you're mother looks at you like you're insane because you make $105,000 a year and you brag about a bag of socks you were lucky enough to snag at a flea market.'re family refers to you as "Dave Jr."

…you run out of deposit slips long before you run out of checks in your checking account!

…your toes are hanging off the end of your sandals because you won't get another pair until payday, only if they are in the budget, and only if they are on sale, and only if you pay cash.

…the highlight of your trip to the grocery store is reading the total savings on the receipt when you leave the store.

…your teens are embarrassed to go with you to the store because their friend works there and they know you're going to be pulling out a wad of coupons at the checkout.

…you have a nervous breakdown if you misplace your coupons.

…you contemplate how much toilet paper your family uses a day and think maybe you should have them count squares.

…you log on to My Total Money Makeover and Dave's speech starts, your six year old screams "I LOVE that guy!"

…you think about Christmas coming up in 4 months, and you know that you cannot afford it this year. You tell your kids "Christmas is a craft"!

…you tell your 17 year old daughter that she/we will not be borrowing money to send her to college. If she wants to go someplace expensive, she's got to look into scholarships!

…you actually get why these sayings are funny!

…you rent an apartment where the bedroom is the same as the living room and your bathroom door will only open partially due to the couch being in the way.

…you and your hubbie think that a 'hot' date is a trip to McD's for their 50 cent ice cream cones. go to the local grocery store and actually enjoy doing the "self checkout" and filling it full of change like a slot machine (from what you found in your car).

…you ask they pizza guy how he is and hope he says "Better than I deserve" so you can give him an extra $20.

…you get a light blue "Debt Free and Lovin' It" sticker from Dave Ramsey for doing a debt free scream and although you drive a red truck and it looks ridiculous you put it on anyway. You figure..."Hey, maybe it'll get more attention this way."

…you fantasize about the day you'll be able to scream "I'M DEBT FREE!!!"

…you and your spouse exchange the SAME Christmas card back and forth to save money.

…you go to a Live Event and start laughing at the joke before Dave gets to the punch line.

…you have "Dave" so engrained in your head that you don't realize that everyone does not know who Dave is.

…your 5 year old tells someone (a perfect stranger) "we are going to buy an RV after we are debt free"

…the bank teller says we must be doing something right because we make so many deposits

…you have to write out a check and have to pause to think HOW because it's been so long

…you seriously consider the long term savings versus the expense of a bidet or TP

…you consider a pbj a GOOD lunch as opposed to just pb

…you can't enjoy a party because you keep thinking how much the hosts spent to pull it off--and probably on a cc

…you find yourself randomly wondering HOW to save $ on feminine monthly products.

…no matter how stoic you are, tears form in your eyes when you hear someone scream "I'M DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!"

…you tell your wife you don't see any reason to go shopping, you already have a black pair of pants.

…your mom calls to say she is going on a trip this weekend to try out their new $25,000 travel trailer, your initial thought is "You have more debt than I do!" And want to ask if they paid cash for it. But think better of saying anything...

…you have gotten to the point you have eaten so much Top Ramen that you pretty much hate it... and continue to eat it anyways (the new ALPO diet. 66 ways to eat Top Ramen...)

…you just finished that quote. think all these things are funny and awesome instead of down right pathetic.

…you stand in line and check out the person at the register, if they are pulling cash or credit. If cash, you wonder if they know about Dave Ramsey.