Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Test My Ways...

Lamentations 3:40
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.

You know how people tell you when it seems like the world is crashing down that God never gives you more than you can handle? Well I would like to think that God must have amazing trust in my ability to handle things because He has given me a heaping help of stuff to contend with right now!

1. The transmission on my minivan needs to be replaced
2. The brakes on our SUV went on our way home from the transmission shop!
3. Our house is sitting empty, unsold, on the market for nearly 4 years

So if the Lord sees fit that a money tree should grow in my front yard, I would accept his blessing with a big basket and a huge smile right about now. Alas, I am pretty sure that's not going to happen, so it's time to move onto a plan of action.

The plan of attack

-We will NOT use credit to get through this emergency
-We will NOT touch our tithe to the church to get through this emergency
-We will TRUST that God will continue to provide for all our needs

We have our Dave Ramsey emergency fund, so that money is there to use. Unfortunately, our emergency fund isn't enough to really cover all these "opportunities" we've been given, so we are going to get very creative over the next month to fund the rest out of cash flow. It's going to be tight, and very close, but I am thinking we can do it. I started looking around the house and noticed we do have quite a few things that could be put on Craigslist instead of gathering dust. I listed a few things tonight, and when I am off work a few days next week, I'll attack a few more.

I read in some of the materials at church the other day something that really stuck in my head. It was a blurb on Phillipans 4:6 where we are commanded by God, "Do NOT be anxious about anything". God's pretty clear on quite a few things, and when he says DON'T, I am pretty sure I'm supposed to be listening! If I tell my kids, "Don't touch that" or "Don't you dare go out that door", I'm talking pretty serious, so I am gonna do what I am told (I know, shocker right???) and follow His lead on this one:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phillipians 4:6)

Friday, March 26, 2010


I like to follow a few frugal blogs and forums, and have been seeing the word "Upcycling" more and more. I am not a hoarder, but I do have problems parting with things and I tend to hold onto things because I know I'll want them later, for something.

For example, I buy baby wipes, quite a few of them in fact. What can I say? I have 2 boys, they make a huge mess of themselves, and I have a tomboy in diapers that gets disgusting from head to toe. In my quest to find the best deal, I know my "buy" point on wipes, which is about $1/per tub or refill. I used to just buy them by the case at Sam's Club, but a quick price comparison shows that they are actually not the best deal out there.

One of the downsides to getting the best deal is that you might end up with a bunch of smaller sized things than you might normally buy. Of course it's easier and more convenient to buy the case of wipes at Sam's, or to buy a big refill bag, but if I can get a plastic tub of wipes for pennies, or FREE, I'm going for the plastic tub.

I had it in my mind that I was going to use all these tubs for something, so I kept piling them up on a shelf in the closet. The other day I had one of those AHHH HAAAA! moments and decided that I was going to condense the random bags and boxes of school supplies into them. I had a few sheets of Avery labels around and just did a quick handwritten label on each one and stacked them in a cupboard. Now when we want to color with the kids, we can find everything easily and pack it up quickly when we are done.

It's not fancy, but check it out

Are You Sick and Tired?

Have you had enough? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Do you pay more than you should in "stupid tax"? If you've followed our journey to becoming debt free, then you know that we have been following the Dave Ramsey principles taught in Financial Peace University. We started out by just reading the Total Money Makeover and then running with it. This past fall we finally got to take the entire Financial Peace University class and it really helped us narrow our focus and keep plowing ahead.

One Free Financial Peace University Lesson

If you are interested in testing the waters of Financial Peace before jumping in, this is a great opportunity for you. If you fill out the form on his website (linked above), you will get matched up to a free FPU lesson near you. Of course I am biased and would HIGHLY recommend that you sign up for one in the 49348 zip code and join the class I am going to be co-leading, but it's ok if you can't make it to my class :)

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Free" Money to be Had!

I know I've mentioned a few different ways that I earn free gift cards and such, but I don't recall if I've ever made a centalized list of all of those. Me? Without a list? Say it ain't so! Having made this realization, I give you:

Search & Win
I started "swagging" about a year ago and just installed the search toolbar on my computer figuring a search here or there might add up to something eventually. Around Christmas last year I decided to see what I had and what I could cash in for. What I ended up with was $50 in Amazon gift cards! Wowza! Anyone who frequents Amazon during December knows that it's the best time of the year since the sales are abundant and I was lucky enough to have a free trial of Amazon Prime, so I stretched that $40 into a LOT of Christmas gifts for people!

My Points
I've been using MyPoints as my starting point for online shopping for years. They also send random emails to your account that have you click through for 5 points each. Sometimes you can earn 10-25 points for filling out a survey, but I rarely do that. If I am looking to buy something online, I ALWAYS start by seeing if it's a merchant that works through MyPoints. I've redeemed over 55,000 points, which works out to a whole lot of gift cards to places like Sam's Club, Chili's, and Starbucks! One thing they did recently was link up to Coupons.com, so if I print out 10 coupons from them (which is incredibly easy for me to do with the amount of coupons I use!), I get 10 points, and you get points for redeeming the coupons as well.

My Coke Rewards
This is a hit or miss one really. I have redeemed my MCR for a few good things like Chili's gift cards and Omaha Steak gift cards, but the pickings on their site are pretty slim. You have to check back often to see if there is anything good there to cash in on. I bank up well over 1000 points before I even think about cashing out. I have a lot of friends who drink Coke products but don't do the rewards program, so they just give the codes to me.

Speedway Rewards
If you drive a car, you pretty much are guaranteed that you have to buy gas. There are less than 5 options on my way to/from work to get gas, and Speedway happens to be one of those. As long as they are the cheapest option, I will choose them to get gas from in order to build up my Speedway Rewards points. At Christmas last year we cashed in our rewards for a $25 gift card to Applebee's and the year before that we cashed in for a $25 card to Lowe's. It's not big money, but we aren't loyal to just Speedway so we don't earn as many points as we could be. If someone offered you $25 wouldn't you take it?

I've gotten random gift cards here and there for filling out surveys, but am always interested in more ways to free up cash in our daily expenses to put towards the snowball.