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Faith, Family, Finances, Funnies, and Flarps

$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

Looking forward to 2018

I REALLY do love a new year!

That fresh start. The clean slate. The unknown. The wonder. I LOVE it.

2017

Every year my husband resolves not to make resolutions. {Party pooper.} I sit down every year and truly ponder and dream of what I want to see different in the new year. I NEVER resolve to lose weight but I ALWAYS resolve to be healthier. I resolve to be nice to the new people that show up at the gym from January 1st-17th and then I don’t have to see them anymore because they gave up. I resolve to pray more and be nicer. But i’ve had some things stirring in me this year that I want to share with you. Maybe for accountability? Or maybe because you need to hear it too…

  1. This year i’m done chasing people! I love people. Hello-i’m a therapist! All I do is listen to people!!!!!! I ENJOY being a listener and hearing what people have to say. I enjoy getting to know people and entertaining people in our home. I LOVE making new friends and making fun memories with others. But this year- I am putting my tennis shoes down. I do NOT have the energy to chase people that don’t chase me back. I will be kind, nice, and i’m here if you need me–but I cannot do it anymore. It’s exhausting and painful to always be chasing others! You want to hang out with me or see me? I bet you know how to find me. Sounds harsh, right? I have re-written this paragraph 4 times and even took a 2 hour break. I don’t want to sound mean but I can’t find any other words. I was talking to my friend/mentor a few weeks ago. I called her in tears and rambled on for 30 minutes about how hurt I was over feeling this pressure to get friends together and to be the “planner” of every group of friends I have. She let me vent and then said “so why don’t you just stop it?” Why hadn’t I thought of that? It is OK to need a break and 2018 is going to be MY  year to sit back and STOP CHASING! Sometimes I feel like I chase people (that makes me sound like a stalker) because I believe all humans crave relationships. We crave that person to talk to or that couple to hang out with! I strongly believe that is a God-given design of His people. But I am going to learn {and it probably won’t be easy} how to just sit still and STOP chasing. I’ve been hurt too many times by “friends” and people that I thought were there for me only to find out they weren’t. I hope by the close of 2018 I know who my real friends are AND I hope I feel rested from refusing to CHASE!

2. Enjoy the quiet. I’m a go-er. I like to go, do, see, explore- hence the reason I go to bed so early! I get crap from friends for how early I go to bed but when i’m awake it is ON! I’d rather be going then sitting idle. To an extent that’s a pretty awesome [if I do say so myself] trait, but on the other hand it can lead to exhaustion and burn-out. *Hence my #1 for this year* I have been prayerfully seeking wisdom in this area because I DO consider myself a content person in so many ways. But then when I spend the time to dissect behaviors/habits of mine I realize that the world probably doesn’t view me that way. Sure-it really doesn’t matter what other people think, but I strive to be consistent (you may recall from a previous post that is my FAVORITE word) in action/word/mindset, and part of being content is being okay with the quiet. The still. I take for granted that we CAN go and do and part of me is dreading this next year due to the fact that we won’t be going as much {stupid Dave Ramsey}… I intend to use this time as a way to be shaped into a better version of myself.

3. No more comparisons! I STRUGGLE on a daily basis with comparison. I am a confident woman but that does not come without insecurities. In fact, in a lot of ways it comes with more! I am always so concerned that I came across TOO confident, or God forbid, arrogant. But I DO compare myself! I see powerful in the women in the world making a huge difference and then I see myself. What did I do today? Sure I helped a kid calm down and stop throwing chairs but how did that better the world? I am CONSTANTLY comparing what others can do!! And of course there are the natural female comparisons of her someone having better hair, a nicer car, better job… but those I can deal with for the most part. For me it’s seeing woman all over the world making a difference and me sitting here wanting so desperately to do something amazing but falling short every time… mostly out of fear of trying. In 2018, no more comparisons for me. Well, at least that’s the plan.

4. No more sitting back and waiting for change. I am the worlds worst at saying “I know how to solve that if they would have thought to ask me.” (Referring to political decisions, mainly.) I was talking to my Dad over our family Christmas in Nashville this past weekend. I was expressing my fears/concerns about changes happening in our State regarding healthcare and other such issues. After I said my say about my thoughts and frustrations my Dad said “Have you thought about writing a letter to your Congressman or Senator?” Well…ummm…no. I haven’t. We continued talking and did some research on WHO I would contact. Why hadn’t I thought about that? Why am I sitting around shaking my head and not doing anything about it? I may not add any cracks to the “glass ceiling” but I will for sure be making steps to promote good and honest change that is so desperately needed. No more sitting back and WAITING for change!

So what about you? What are you looking forward to in this new year?

Thanks for reading!

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

Front Porch sittin’

While in Nashville….

I had to find Deacons house!!! And I DID!

I love the show Nashville despite all the ups and downs that show has thrown at us. Killing off the main character, defying death and terrific music– I love it! I always wanted to sit on the front porch and ponder life like the characters do. So.. I did!

It was awesome!

#nashies what is your favorite episode?? Comment or email roxyrambles02@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

Minimalist Wardrobe

I’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest and talking with other bloggers/friends regarding the whole concept of a capsule wardrobe. Like I get it- but I’m struggling at the same time.

I completely see the logic in owning less because DUH! That’s what I am working towards!! But I do NOT see the logic (for me personally) in getting rid of clothes I WILL wear but I may not wear all of the time. I have the space. I have it organized and I HAVE downsized tremendously. I have gotten rid of tons of clothing so what is left WILL be worn. I understand that I might feel calmer if I went in my closet and only had 36 items to choose from. BUT I am not going to get rid of clothes that I will wear. 4

closet

**What I wouldn’t give to be THIS simple!!!**

That being said– planning ahead on my outfits has ALWAYS saved me time. My friends laugh at me because my daily calendar that I carry with me at ALL times contains important meetings, bills to pay that day, things to grab on my home, and at the very bottom I have listed what I wore. I did this in high school!! Isn’t that silly? Maybe so-but it works for me. On those crazy weeks when I can’t even tell you the last time I ate or had a calm, brief moment to regroup, I couldn’t tell you what I wore the day before. I have a fear of wearing the same outfit like LEGIT two days in a row due to being so crazy busy that I completely forgot. So, I write it down. That helps me. And I TRY to plan outfits in advance. Sometimes that fails. Weather in Arkansas is NOT predictable in the least so you may have a sundress and sandals planned and it ends up snowing. But planning SOMEWHAT ahead is very helpful.

What I DID do to eliminate some of the “closet dilemma” was this. I took away 8 pairs of pants and 20 shirts. I folded them neatly and put them in the attic in a special bin. I am not getting rid of them BUT this is a great way for me to see if I can make do with a smaller amount of clothes to choose from. I’m not getting rid of them so if I need something I can grab it, OR, I can decide to hang it back up and rotate something else out. That way I have LESS hanging to choose from/look at/get stressed by, but I am not throwing out perfectly good clothes that I will wear at some point.

It wasn’t as easy as I thought. It was SUPER easy to truly get rid of things that I knew I didn’t want to wear anymore. But looking at a closet that only contains items that fit/I like and trying to decide what to put away was difficult.

So I may not have followed the rules precisely, but that is A-ok. For me, this worked! I feel like I have less options which will eliminate some headache but I haven’t gotten rid of something that I will wear in the future. It’s hard to follow everything exactly which is why I ALWAYS say to take away what you can use “and throw away the rest!!!” Not everything you read on Pinterest (or a blog) will work for you so you have to add and adjust to make it fit YOU!

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

 

Biggest wastes of my money in 2017

I shouldn’t do this to myself… but in the 12 hours I spent in the car over the past week I had a lot of free time. I came up with several purchases I made that I totally regret. Care to join in? These are NO specific order.

1. Cable

I literally watch (or rather listen from a distance) about 20 minutes worth of GMA while I’m getting ready in the mornings. I hear just enough to know the latest stunt our president has pulled and catch the high temp for the day. In the evenings we watch Netflix OR reruns of “Everybody loves Raymond” or “Friends.” How ridiculous is that?? We have our shows for sure… but they ALL show up on Hulu the next day!! It’s crazy. I figured up we spent over $1500 this year on Dish Network.

2. Oil changes at the same dealership.

Thankfully I didn’t make this mistake ALL year. {this may not be the case in all states/all dealerships} My first oil change was free but they told my husband I needed a tire rotation as well. Let’s just say that rotation MORE than made up for the price of that “free” oil change. I purchased the extended warranty so I knew that keeping up with the maintenance was crucial but I also did my research and discovered as long as I can prove that I had the work done in a timely manner then it did not have to be from the dealership where I purchased. So- you see a local shop advertising oil changes for $20– go for it!! You get a coupon in the mail for $10 tire rotation- take them up on it. Just KEEP THE PAPERWORK!!!

3. Pedicures

This one is hard to admit. But I did spend a LOT of money on my toes this year. I love doing a mom/daughter date at the nail salon. And on a rare occasion I am okay with this. But I didn’t do it rarely this year– I did it OFTEN! When I began adding it up I felt sick at my stomach. I have sensed purchased a nice pumus stone to buff my own feet and have spent time looking up which essential oils can be applied to help with hard/cracked heels and toes. I can’t say I will not splurge on a pedicure in 2018 but I CAN guarantee it will not be often.

4. Monat

I had several friends selling Monat and I dove in. Why not? For some there were dramatic results. But for me, well, I have pretty good hair. I use good conditioner purchased at a discount and I allow my hair a break from heat (drying, curling, straightening) so my hair not what you call “damaged.” I spent over $180 dollars this year on the products and I cannot tell a difference. Not knocking the products at all! Just saying that for ME it was a waste. I will say this… when I realized I was not getting the results I expected {and I can’t even tell you WHAT I expected} I stopped using it daily and now use it once a week. It will last longer this way AND I feel like I’m still getting use out of it.

5. Cheap essential oils

Yes they WERE cheap, but I basically paid for things to smell good. I had a hard time spending the money (initially) for nice oils {like plant therapy, Do Terra, etc} but in turn I wasted nearly $100 this year on brands that were not true essential oils. Don’t get me wrong- it was HARD to pay for nice oils but at least I knew what I was getting!! To put it simply- if you are using a diffuser/oils to make your house smell like peppermint and that’s it– save your money and buy cheap! If you are wanting healing properties and wanted to ingest/ put on your skin, buy true oils from a trusted company! And if Young Living or DoTerra is out of your price range look up Plant Therapy. They are a trusted company who has super reasonable prices. [no one is paying me to say this!!! This is my opinion only]

And I’ll say this… I’m not throwing away my cheap oils. They can still be used to make the house smell yummy. Just this morning I used the type of candle that holds a tea light and has a place for oil/wax on top. I poured some of my cinnamon bark on the top and lit that candle. I just won’t be using those oils to add to my bath or rub on my skin. I’m working hard and not being wasteful!!

6. Organization and the tools to achieve it

I spent so much time, energy and money attempting to become organized in 2017. The problem with that is this… I didn’t need to get organized– I needed LESS stuff! All the labels, bins, tubs, calendars and compartments were (mainly) a WASTE. It didn’t hit me until the end of the year that I was never going to organize ALL THIS STUFF! I just simply needed less. Once I began my overhaul my life become easier and {surprise surprise} instantly more organized. It doesn’t take time and energy to organize less because well, there is an automatic organization that comes with less. Giving away, donating and trashing– all of which cost nothing has gotten me more organized in NO time!

Donate what will help you out with taxes! We had some furniture that we were done with. That was worth donating and getting the tax deductible form.

The mismatched socks were tossed. The worn out rags were tossed. Served no purpose-tossed!!!! That was easy!

The clothes that were in good shape were given to a friend who welcomes hand-me-downs or mailed to my sister.

The bottom line is that I quit focusing on getting organized and started working towards having LESS.

7. Subscriptions

I no longer get any magazines! Well, I say that. My mom got me a Southern Living subscription for Christmas but that was a gift. But I no longer pay for magazines or any other subscription such as Ipsy or FabFitFun. Here’s the deal… magazine articles are 99% online. I would get a magazine in the mail and then hop on Facebook and see half of the articles (the big ones) were free online. Unfortunately over half of what I got in my FabFitFun was nothing I wanted. I gave some away and the rest was stashed in my closet. It either wasn’t my color or wasn’t even my style. Sure it felt like a “bargain” in that the price was $60 per month and the value was substantially more BUT it’s not a bargain if you don’t need it!! I’ve made the best of it (re-gifted, saved for later) but that bad boy is cancelled. As far as Ipsy goes, it’s just $10 a month but a large portion of the products I didn’t care for. What I did like I have saved and even have a set of makeup places in my overnight bag just waiting on trips. But all in all it was a waste of $120 this year.

2017 was a year of growth for me. A lot happened and big changes took place. And while graduating with my Masters was a huge accomplishment, the change I’m most proud of his year is my attitude towards stuff and having a clearer view of what I want for my life. And that my friends is priceless

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

Another tender Tennessee Christmas

My family is scattered throughout the state of Arkansas and beyond. We decided a few years back that it wasn’t fair to have my middle sister and her fam from South Carolina drive all the way to Arkansas. A half-way point would be Nashville, TN and NOW that is our “home for Christmas”.

All of us together. Exchanging gifts. Watching football. Singing. Eating. And all things family!

Gotta love those teenage nephews!!

My 7 year old niece bought feathers for her hair and of course gave her favorite Aunt one as well… even if it only lasted a moment before she “needed it back.”

While the majority of the fam went to see Star Wars, my husband and I took Ava and my youngest niece to see Coco. Such a good movie!! Go see it!! Beautiful graphics and an amazing message.

Mom and Dad agreed to watch the kiddos so my sisters and I (and our other halves) could go to downtown for a bit. Oh- did I mention it’s 5 degrees here?? Brrrr…

My dad attempted selfies with my niece Lily Grace

And sent us a picture with the caption “proof we are surviving”

We enjoyed lunch, the cold weather, and the sights of Nashville 😍 #ilovedeacon

Thankful for this trip and the time spent with family!! ❤️❤️

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

A friend loves at all times- Misty

It’s not 2018 yet but one of my goals is to show deep appreciation for my friends. I’ve learned this year how rare true friends are. Like I’ve known that-but this year my eyes were opened to the need for genuine people! I’m a people person for sure but I have reached a point where superficial friendships serve no purpose. True connection, honesty, and mutual respect are of the upmost importance to me. And I’m keeping up with that mindset I want to show appreciation for those who have enriched my life in such a major way.

Enter Misty. Mama Misty, as I call her. Not only is she an active participant at our church, but she’s an active participant in my life! She calls, texts, and shows a genuine concern for what is going on with my family. She allows me to vent, she prays for and with me, and is always a phone call away! Her heart longs to serve others and she does just that FAITHFULLY!

This year has been fantastic but that’s not to say there haven’t been ups and downs. She has showed compassion and grace and helped me to reciprocate that to others.

She makes me laugh- makes me smile- and reminds me there is still good in the world!

Thank you, Mama Misty for being YOU! You are so loved!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”- Proverbs 27:17

Thanks for “sharpening” me, my friend!

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

The day it happened!

I. Met. Hillary. Clinton.

I bought my ticket. Drove to Little Rock and waited in line for 3 hours.

All the emotions were going on simultaneously. Excited. Nervous. Thrilled. Scared. Talkative. Tongue tied. It was such a rush!

As I stood in line I kept thinking of what I wanted to say. I wanted to say so much… I needed her to hear me say how sorry I was that things turned out the way they did. I desperately wanted to share the pain I felt on November 8th and beyond… I wanted to know how inspired she made me feel! But I also wanted to be somewhat memorable. I had every reason to believe she would hear those things over and over…

So I told her I was sorry for what I said when I met her back in the early 90’s. My choir was singing at an event in Little Rock in which the First Lady and First Daughter (is that a thing?) would be attending. Hillary came up to my choir after it was over and said to me “what a beautiful voice you have!” I looked at the lady in a red pant suit with a pony tail AND a headband in her head and said “thank you. But my parents didn’t vote for your husband.” She smiled, kinda laughed and said “well– that’s okay!”

So as it’s my turn to walk up to the table I am prepared for my spill. She looked up and smiled, asked my name and shook my hand. She held my hand the whole time we spoke. She laughed after my story and said “well you shouldn’t feel bad for that.” She asked if I was still singing , released my hand, and I told her “Thank you for inspiring me to do more.” She smiled, said thank you and as I began to walk away she said “it was nice to meet you Cara(pronounced correctly) and I love your shirt.”

Best. Moment. Ever.

2017 will ALWAYS and forever bring fond memories.

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

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