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Faith, Family, Finances, Funnies, and Flarps

A successful no spend month

How in the world can you have a “Successful” no spend month? Doesn’t it sound horrible before you even get started? Here are some tips that will help! Promise!

no spend

  • Have a GOAL! Just like with anything in life-if you don’t know what you WANT out of it then there is no way to gauge if it was successful or not. Are you hoping to pay off a small debt? Maybe do some deep cleaning at home? Organize the garage? Whatever it is- know it and have it written DOWN! Put it in your phone to go off as a reminder. I HIGHLY recommend if you go that route have it set to go off several times over the weekend when it is temping to get off track.
  • Have a PLAN! What will you do to fill your time? Are you going to clean/organize/purge? Go for a hike and hit up the library? Put those on the list. When you are only spending necessary funds (household bills, gas for cars and groceries with NO extras in the cart) you’d better have some things planned. It is tough! And we are getting ready for another one in February. Hop on Pinterest to find ideas of free things to do. Call your library to get a list of events coming up. ALL you have to do is NOT spend money outside of the necessities. You can cash in those free drink coupons at Sonic and use those gift cards. You just CANNOT (under any circumstances) spend more than what the gift cards cover. The point is to accomplish a goal. It’s only 30 days! (or less if you pick February!) You CAN do it! Just know what you will do instead!It can be so rewarding and give you motivation to keep going but you HAVE to have a plan.
  • Recruit a friend to join in! Perhaps you have a close friend who might want to join. Or in our case, a couple who wants to try it with us. Make it fun! Together you can come up with a several ideas for goals and ideas of things to do instead of spending money. And let’s just face it-it provides accountability as well. You were NOT meant to do life alone so don’t do this alone!
  • Track your progress. If you survive the 30 days (which you will), wouldn’t it be nice to go back and read how it felt in the moment? We forget, don’t we? We forget the pain {big and small} but having a way to look back on it can be therapeutic and helpful for continuing to manage your finances! Blog it, journal it, put it in your phone. Just keep up with it! And celebrate! If your goal is to save $500 then have a dance party with every $100 you put aside!

You CAN do this!! And the fact that you read this tells me you are well on your way to a successful NO SPEND month! I’d love to share in your journey. Comment or email roxyrambles02@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

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If… then what?

Let me start by saying this post is my political opinion. I have so many friends (and a husband) who view politics differently than me. And I love and respect each of them– and their opinions. (Hi babe!! Hey Kristie!!)

I’m so confused by “the worlds” fascination with providing Donald Trump had an affair and that he is a racist. He IS racist and he probably has had multiple affairs. So– if “we” prove it– then what??

What is the end game with proving these types of “allegations?” I don’t care if we sleeps with half the world. I don’t need any other “alternative fact” to prove that {in my opinion} he IS racist.

Let’s put more focus on what WE as a nation want to happen and less on proving he paid off a Lady to keep quiet. Who cares? That takes me to Bill Clinton (❤️❤️❤️❤️). He admitted it. Okay it took some coaxing but he admitted it. Then what???

Why do we try so hard as a nation, in our friendships, in our marriages, to get that “I told you so” moment? When did proving someone wrong become more important than the bigger picture??

I don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t like what’s happening in our world. I want to throw a tantrum and cry out “IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THIS WAY!” 😭😭 But that solves nothing. Proving Donald Trump is a racist won’t do anything. Didn’t we already know that?

I don’t know people. I don’t like what’s going on in our world one bit. It’s sad. We’ve lost sight of the big picture and we are wrapped up in being right and have lost our direction.

Thoughts?

Thanks for reading,

Cara Roxanne

Tithing- it’s a HEART issue

Years ago I had a different blog. I actually made MONEY on that blog. And then one day I just got over it. I was so vulnerable at that time in my life and was using my blog as a form of therapy, so to speak.

Anyway, I was looking at it today and found several posts that were worth re-posting. This post was originally from August of 2012 but it is still very relevant today!

Original post:

Twice a year at our church, our pastor preaches on tithing. I love his approach to it because it’s not a yelling-screaming-fit from the pulpit about GIVE THE CHURCH MONEY! Thankfully, he takes a different approach. James, the pastor, speaks from his heart, and from the bible.

tithe.jpg
His focus is on being a blessing and recieving a blessing. No, I did NOT just say that if you tithe you will be rich. But more of THIS approach…

I have to paraphrase because I can never remember things perfectly.

Basically it’s like this… tithing is trusting God. Tithing is saying “Thank you God for providing, here is your cut==do with it what you see fit”. Back to the trusting part…

For me personally, in my lifetime, if anyone had asked me “Do you trust God completely”, there would have been a no hesitation response of ABSOLUTELY! Then about 6 months ago (the last time we had a sermon on tithing) I felt very convicted. I was not a tither. (I know, shame on me). I had heard about it my whole life but always said “I don’t have the money to tithe.” And I believed that answer. I did use my time and talents to help out in the church and to particpate in God’s kingdom, but I just didn’t do it with a checkbook. That was not WRONG or BAD of me at all. But then I go back to the trust part. I wasn’t trusting God enough. I said I trusted him in everything… but it boiled down to trusting him in everything BUT my finances. 

That was a wake up call for me. I began to really think about what it meant to trust God. I always knew he was there, he had helped me through some bad situations in the past, and all in all I felt blessed. But the whole trusting God with everything was so foreign to me. 

So I stepped out in faith. I wasn’t quite sure HOW I was going to pay all of my bills, buy groceries, put gas in my car, AND have money leftover. I just didn’t see how it was possible. But somehow I decided to do it anyway. Lots of people have “tithing” stories and HUGE MAJOR blessings that poured out on them the very next day. I don’t have some elaborate story to tell you but I CAN tell you that somehow I did not notice a difference in my finances. Here I was losing 10% of my income yet I couldn’t tell a difference. I have to believe that was God. Somehow, he made it work.

I don’t care where you to go to church or what your church background is… that is not the point. But i can say that trusting God 100% means just that. Every aspect of your life. Even that private and touchy subject of finances belongs to God. And we have to TRUST him in it. 

I have trusted God with my finances. And I am giving him 10% of my income. And even though it would be NICE to keep that money and get to spend some extra on fun stuff, I am stepping out in Faith. God has been faithful to me ALWAYS, and I want to prove myself FAITHFUL to him.

What are YOUR thoughts on tithing? I’m curious to know.

Here I am 6 years later still tithing. We fell off the wagon for a bit due to selfish reasons and attempting to regain control. (That never works well, does it?) I am so humbled and grateful for all of God’s blessings. He has continued to be faithful to us even when we lost our trust along the way. In all of this financial “season” we find ourselves in, we have never once considered giving up on tithing. Because I have lived and learned that God’s provision can NEVER be questioned.

Thanks for reading!

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

Eating crow

In case you aren’t aware, I’m deathly afraid of birds. All birds. And no, I’ve never had some traumatic experience I just hate them. Disgusting creatures who I fear might want to eat my face if given the chance.

Anyway. That’s a post for another day

Last week I chatted with a friend over text. It was one of those ongoing all day fun kinda conversations. We covered pretty much every topic including finances/jobs/etc. I said the words “I’ve cut out everything I can but I am NOT getting rid of my car.” And there may have been a “Dave Ramsey can just deal with it” comment in there somewhere… but I can’t recall.

Well— two days after that conversation I was using some charts I created to try and determine some type of timeline on when we are going to be DEBT free and doing the scream on Dave Ramsey’s show! (And yes I FULLY intend to do that) I knew it would be a long road until we reach the end but I’ve been proud of us so far. I was looking at other ways to cut/slash and SAVE so we can make this snowball even bigger! I began to get this weird feeling in my stomach… was it– conviction?? I began to look at my car.

My beautiful, luxurious {sounds hysterical right? But they even say it in the commercial!} SUV and feel sick. It had to go. BUT I DON’T WANT IT TO GO AWAY!!!! It’s my dream car if that’s even such a thing. It rides good, drives good, has more bells and whistles than I know what to do with… {so many buttons that I always call 911 when I’m trying to turn the interior lights on. Finally I figured out how to feel the difference between the light and SOS button… and the cops are glad!} but it has to go.

Once I decided my car had to go I was ready to see it gone. Due to the price of my car and the fact it was so new I knew I would be somewhat upside down. I’ve had it less than a year so it was inevitable. I began looking online for a more reasonable car and test drive a few. I crunched some numbers and knew that for it work (and serve the purpose of going down in debt/payment) it had to be a significant change. I didn’t want to go through all the headache of changing vehicles to save $50 bucks. I saved a LOT of money by making phone calls to companies but this was going to take time and I hate spending hours at a dealership.

Anyway- called a friend in the business and explained my end goal and gave him my list of requirements(which surprisingly was VERY little)

I wrote the first half of the post from the dealership. And now, I’m home with my new Nissan Altima down below me in the garage. I told my husband “I like it. It has 2 bells and 1 whistle!” Gotta laugh at myself.

I’m growing. I’m finding comfort in simplicity and am completely satisfied/content/ and even joyful with my new purchase. My insurance lady just emailed me and I saved a good bit on my insurance. Apparently it’s cheaper to insure less bells and 1 whistle 🙂

Here’s to saving more money! Thanks for reading. It keeps me accountable and provides encouragement!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

Living my life backwards for far too long

It’s a fact. I have been living my life backwards

Buying when I couldn’t. Now I can and I won’t. Now I’m downsizing and doing without.

Now that I “don’t have to” and make a decent living I have to get rid of things I should have been doing without for years

Why did I think I deserved things when I couldn’t afford them? And why can I afford them and am totally willing to do without?

I am trying so hard to answer that question. And the only thing I can come up with is the old saying of “we always want what we can’t have.” When I really couldn’t (and shouldn’t) have purchased things- I did. And when I really long for financial freedom (and should be enjoying it due to hard work to get here) I can’t.

I was expressing this to my friend and my husband. Both laughed but it was the kinda laugh that hurt because it was that half-say laugh/half-way gasp for breath kinda laugh. My friend said “everyone goes through that. That wake up call of realizing what you did wrong.” My husband said “I’ve done that my whole life.” It wasn’t necessarily comforting to hear those words but it did solidify that I’m not the ONLY person who has been living life backwards.

NO MORE! I can’t go back but to go forward I have to relive some financial mistakes. I have had to come to terms with mistakes that will cost me years to fix. The funny part is that I’m okay with it. I mean- I’m not OK with being stupid and backwards for years, but I’m okay with facing it and owning it. I’m in control of this now. God is TRULY in control but you hear me, right? I’m in better control (and have a reign on) of spending and monitoring finances. For years I was terrified to login to my bank. I didn’t want to face what I would see. Isn’t that crazy?? Gahhh- that’s just so sad. {but true!}

Anyway– enough living backwards. Moving forward I feel like I have the tools PLUS the accountability from this blog. Let’s do this. Let’s live life FORWARD!

Thanks for reading

For now,

Cara Roxanne

Living the frugal life-kids perspective

I have to confess… my daughter is not so sure about all these changes. I only have one child so I guess there is where I admit that I MAY have been prone to spoiling. I don’t MEAN too!! It just kinda happens.

Ava is fine with us having not having Dish. She would rather watch Netflix anyway. She didn’t gripe for too many days when I cancelled the data plan on her iPad.

But hearing the word NO has been the final straw!

“You used to never say no!”- she grumbled in Wal-Mart. This process has been challenging yet rewarding for all of us. I’m a pretty open type of Mom. She knows what’s going on in our world and we ask her often for our input. We have had candid conversations about changes in our family- adoption, selling our home, changing jobs, etc. It is my personal belief that children should be included in many aspects of factors in a family unit. Age appropriate of course, but we view his as an important part of our parenting.

We sat Ava down a while back and explained that we were going to make some financial changes. I tried to help her understand that if we make changes now we can do more later. (No cable now means another vacation in a few years). I wanted her to understand that we weren’t “poor” nor are we “rich” but I tried to paint a bigger picture for her about being smart with money.

She’s been a trooper! And there has been some perks for her. She’s 12 so she has responsibilities to take care. And when she does them, she gets an allowance. She likes this! So now if I say NO to something she has the option to use her money. While adding an allowance to our outgoing money kinda seems crazy while trying to tighten our belts, it actually makes sense {for us} to do this. I can teach my child the concept of a dollar while also explaining the process we are going through.

We also haven’t wanted to take fun away! We are notorious Go-ers. Go see a movie. Go to the park. Go to Books a Million “just to look”. Go eat dinner. Go rent a movie. We have had to put a stop to a lot of our “going”. But what we have done is tried to add more “treats”. Instead of going it to eat ($45 bucks) we eat at home and then go for an ice cream/Starbucks/hot cocoa run ($10 bucks). Those treats are important for all of us! It keeps us sane and keeps us motivated.

I’ve noticed some changes in Ava. Dare I say she almost seems more at peace? We have enjoyed the mess out of watching Netflix and making our own popcorn. And we HAVE used our “Fun” envelope to go see a movie at the theaters. But it comes down to choices. “Would you rather spend our fun money by going to Dave & Busters are go get ice cream 6 different times this month?” That doesn’t sound half bad, does it! I’ve seen her find contentment rediscovering books and Hulu tv shows. She’s spent more time reading and has appeared to genuinely enjoy sitting on the couch with me watching a show together. And THAT is worth more than all the money in the world.

Include your kiddos in the process. Explain simplicity, choices, debt, freedom from financial burdens… explain that we love Dave Ramsey’s quote of “live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else.” Ava is already planning our debt free vacation we plan to take when we owe no one NOTHIN’!!!!

How do you talk to your kids about finances? How do you explain debt or lack thereof to your children? I’d love to hear!!

Thanks for reading.

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

Women may NEVER know what they want— my rambles on the Golden Globes.

 

I love award show season. I call it “MY superbowl.” Watching the Golden Globes while giving up social media was SO tough. ALLLL the things I wanted to say. ALLLLL the quotes I wanted to re-tweet… but I was good. PROMISE. I did not get on social media ONE time. {And yes– I AM patting myself on the back.}

Okay so here is my problem… there was a LOT of emphasis on the negative attention that is in the public/media eye currently revolving around men. Men have been busted out left and right this year. And SHAME on those men who did terrible things to women just because they could… or because they wanted to. It’s horrible. AWFUL. And, BTW… #metoo. Been there, done that, and hope I NEVER go back to those moments. The creepers who felt like they could touch my knee. Or the boss who always stayed in my office a little too long. Gross. Yuck. Shame on YOU.

Anyway-back to the point. Natalie Portman (who looked divine, btw) called out men for being on the only nominated sex in the Director category. And as the audience was shown clapping and applauding for her statement all I saw was… BOOBS. They were hanging out everywhere!!! PICK. A. SIDE.

dress

If you want to be seen a sex object then please continue with the nips popping out the side of your dress. But if you want to stand up for women being treated equally then for the love of cheese and crackers but your boobs away! Possibly the reason women are not treated fairly is because we {dare I say it?} talk out of both sides of our mouths?

WOMEN! We cannot stand up and asked to be treated as equals if we continue to carry ourselves in a manner that screams “please see me as a sex symbol.” I’m sorry. I said it. Hate me if you want but that is (my) fact.

The women in this world who are beautiful, smart, intelligent, LIFE CHANGERS aren’t showing up on a red carpet with their dress so low I can see their belly rings.

Hillary

Condi

Jackie O.

Margaret Thatcher

Michelle Obama

Ellen

These women stand up for the rights of women and fight to make real change in our world. And I can honestly say that I have never seen their breasts hanging out of their clothes. Is there a correlation between the two? I think so.

PLEASE don’t harp on how men have advantages in this world over women and continue to portray yourself as a sex symbol. Were you expecting a lot of respect from the way you were dressed? I have to think that you were aware of what parts of your body were noticeable to the world when you stepped out of that limo.

Maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe i’m out of line. I’m not trying to be disrespectful to anyone. Wear what you want. Dress how you want. I ain’t judging! But I AM saying that maybe you CAN’T have it both ways. Maybe it’s time to make changes to your wardrobe so that you can be heard and not just seen… because believe me.. we see ALL of you!

What are your thoughts?? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading!

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

 

$603.25

That doesn’t seem like that big of a number… does it?

debt

To me, it seems like a really REALLY big number. The weekend of November 9th (I’ve written about that here) is the weekend that my husband and I decided to get serious about our finances. We both make a decent living and have grown accustom to having some debt. That is JUST how we lived. We never felt the need to do anything different because it felt like it was “working.” When I challenged my husband (and y’all-I kinda begged) to hop on board and let’s do this “get out of debt thing” he was all in. And I was too. But I truly had NO idea what this was going to mean.

I decided the first thing to do was start on the budget. That was ridiculous. I hate doing a budget. Like I always KNEW what I needed to pay and what was due but I was NOT faithful to put pen to paper and do it on a monthly basis. While doing the budget I did some digging. I looked into bank and credit card statements and HOLY MOLY! What we were doing was NOT working at ALL!

*Let me say to check your credit card/debit card balances NOW. I found where a hotel had charged us twice and we hadn’t even caught it**

We needed to get it together! We were two grown and educated human beings who were making stupid mistakes on a daily basis. (SHAME SHAME!) I began to dissect bills that I normally didn’t even open. I knew Entergy would text me and remind me my bill was due in the next few days and what that happened-i’d pay it. Once I started going through months of statements I realized that we had some areas we could cut back in!

Through phone calls, chatting with customer representatives, and going into places saying NO MORE, I have managed to lower our monthly expenses by $603.25!!!!

Cutting the cable cord, begging Verizon for a better deal, paying off our cell phones (they get ya on the phone thing, don’t they?), canceling Amazon Prime, getting rid of the Country Club and saying goodbye to our house cleaners has freed up $603.25 EACH month!

And the BEST part is– I don’t have $603.25 left over to go blow! I have $603.25 to pay on debt!!!! I cannot BELIEVE I just said that was the best part! 🙂 We are able to kick this Debt Snowball program into HIGH gear.

The grand total debt pay off since that road trip conversation took place in November= $6392.25.

Thank you Jesus! Slowly but surely we are on the way to financial freedom. It has NOT been easy but it is getting easier. It didn’t take long on this  social media fast to get used to NOT clicking on Facebook or Instagram. And it hasn’t taken long on this financial freedom journey to say NO to things that I know I don’t need. You CAN DO IT!

Thanks for reading!

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

Frugal Flyer

I LOVE to travel!!! I’ve written about this before and probably won’t stop here. Traveling is my favorite pastime. We put off home projects for years because we would look at our money and go “hmmm… we could get new floors OR we could go to Mexico?” Travel will win with us every single time!

That being said… travel isn’t cheap. It costs a LOT of money to leave your house. I go into a trip with more money than I intend to spend. And that typically works out well. This past year was a SUPER year for us trip wise. We were fortunate to be able to go to several cool places and I loved EVERY second of it. I’ve learned some tips on traveling that may help you as you prepare to travel in 2018!

travel

  1. If you don’t have a credit card that gets miles…get one. I know, I know… that goes against everything Dave Ramsey has EVER said. Pay it off every month. Don’t spend more on it than you can pay off. I’ll say it ONE more time– PAY. IT.OFF!!! BUT- let those miles rack up!
  2. Hotel points! Start earning them! Even if you only stay in a hotel once a year, ask to be on their point system. That one week a year in a hotel could equal 1-2 nights free throughout the year. Did someone say…FREE date night?!?! My husband is a Hilton point guy. That particular system pretty much means (and it can depend based on double point offers,etc) that every 5 nights adds up to a free stay. We are in a unique situation in that my husband travels at least 6-10 nights a month for work. But even if he didn’t travel as much we would still be earning points! Those points DO add up. Give it a try. Maybe there is a free stay in your future 🙂
  3. ASK! When you get to your destination ask the front desk for whatever it is you need. Most hotels will pass out toiletry item bags for free. Keep those and store them for your next trip OR for when you have company. Then you can sit it out in the guest bath and look like the best hostess EVER! 🙂 Ask the front desk for coupons, for recommendations, for free stuff! I don’t mean to go in and be a beggar but ask “do y’all do a social hour in the evenings?” “Do you guys do 1 free room service fee per stay?” Find out what you ALREADY have at your disposal. It boggles my mind that people are often afraid to ASK. Why? If you are afraid to ask get your spouse to!
  4. Book a hotel room that has a kitchen. When we travel as a family we ALWAYS stay at the Homewood Suites by Hilton. They have a full-size (semi) kitchen. Full fridge, microwave and 2 burner stove, no oven. BUT that means I can pack lunch meat, mac-n-cheese to cook for my picky eater, and bring my own drinks! They provide breakfast and a social hour (drinks and snacks during the weekdays), I can bring things for lunches and snacks and then we are only out one BIG meal for dinner. It’s perfect! It’s a fantastic way to stay and SAVE!
  5. Speaking of Asking– when we were heading to Chicago back in October my husband asked if they had any upgrades available for free. What do ya know? He comes walking back holding 3 First Class tickets! Upgrade for free, baby! What is the worst that could happen? They said no. That’s it. Totally worth the ask!
  6. PLAN AHEAD! You KNOW that the airport/hotel gift shop jacks those prices up. You have GOT to plan ahead. Hop on pinterest and find lists to help you remember items to pack. Headphones, ibuprofen, motion sickness pills, toothbrush… all of those things could break the bank! You cannot bring liquid into the airport but over the past two years I have seen an increase in the “Filling Stations” in airports. Bring your empty water bottle through security and then go fill it up. A bottle of water at our tiny Little Rock, AR airport is no less than $5 bucks. It’s crazy!
  7. Before we go on a trip I ALWAYS check to see if there are any promos to use on Uber or Lyft. And I go ahead and type in the destination address so that I know what to expect. I don’t want ANY financial surprises on a trip.

There are a MILLION ways to vacation on a budget. This just scratches the surface of some ways we travel on the cheap! Have a question or a suggestion–send it to me in a comment or at roxyrambles02@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

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