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frugal living

Making progress πŸ’ͺ🏻

We have been so BUSY! With good stuff!!

Since I last posted…

*We have have paid $12k on my bonus sons student loan πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

*We are in the middle of cash flowing summer vacations

*We have now paid over $35k since we began this journey in November!

INSERT HUGE CELEBRATION HERE

For those of you considering changing your lifestyle, or trying to pay off debt… it CAN be done! It’s crazy how “simple” it is. I put that in quotes because it is HARD work and dedication like none other but the principals are simple.

On my Instagram page (moneyonmymind02) you can follow more up to date progress. I encourage you to follow financial pages (debt free hashtags, frugal, etc) as I have found this to be a huge source of encouragement. What’s crazy though are the {dare I say} cat fights I occasionally see in regards to Dave Ramsey’s plan versus the avalanche method. In DR’s plan you pay smallest to biggest whereas the avalanche goes by highest interest rate. I’ve watched people call DR fans “cult members” and I’ve seen others bash the avalanche method for not doing it right πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

I always chime in and say it is YOUR journey! We started with the snowball plan due to having small debts that we wanted done quickly. That made sense! But then we jumped over to the avalanche method to knock out a high interest credit card. Here’s the deal- follow whichever plan you want! Mix it up! If you are intentional in your finances and are slashing through debt– who cares what plan you are on?? I’ve seen people start with automobiles and leave small debts waiting. For them it made sense to knock those out first. Who am I to judge?

Start somewhere. We took some HUGE leaps and dumped a lot of monthly bills to get going fast. Not everyone can or wants to so that! (Lemme tell ya… I don’t miss cable but I do miss my cleaning lady! 😭😭) Do what works for YOU!

We’ve made some major progress. We are working towards pre-paying (I guess you’d say) our summer trips. So this month there’s no “snowball” so to speak but we still have a plan and that is the most important part.

Anyone knew to the journey? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

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This has turned into all out adventure!

I started the journey to become debt free. It’s ended up being a crazy adventure!

Through this journey so far, I have watched my husband and I “jive” like never before. We are on the same page and are communicating so much better!! πŸŽ‰β€οΈ

Crazy things have happened to me though:

1. I don’t enjoy shopping anymore.

You read that correctly. Somehow this has become who I am. Even walking in a store with a plan can be exhausting. Example: I went into Old Navy 2 weeks ago to pick up a pair of jeans for my daughter. (In the budget… btw) I also had some “fun” money in my pocket leftover. I decided to stroll through the clearance items(fav pastime) and found myself disgusted. I know, right??? What has happened to me?? I looked at some cute stuff and just kept thinking how I didn’t want any of it. I LITERALLY had money to spare and didn’t spend it. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

2. This financial lifestyle change is changed a lot more than our finances.

I am finding myself more content. I am enjoying putting together outfits from my already paid for wardrobe. I am content to drive past Starbucks and come home and make me some afternoon coffee. I’ve come to enjoy sitting outside on our paid-for outdoor living area in the afternoon with a hot tea. Somehow I’ve just learned contentment. And it happened when I least expected it. I assumed NOT being able to spend money would make me want it more!! I was wrong. ☺️

3. I don’t feel as attached to my “things” yet I appreciate them more at the same time.

I OFTEN walk around my house with 2 empty Kroger sacks. I find things to throw out. I don’t put a lot of thought into it I just throw stuff away. It seems less overwhelming than having a family meeting and asking everyone to spend hours going through stuff and throw things out. I look forward to doing this! Yet at the SAME time I am finding old things and appreciating them. I was looking for sandals the other day and ran across 2 old purses. I had forgotten about them. It was like Christmas morning! With pride I switched my purse out and was happy to carry it around!!

This journey quickly became an adventure. Perhaps I reached that magic number in the 30’s. I’ve always heard that there’s a point in your 30’s when you become YOU. I never understand that until now. This has been a WILD ride and I’m lovin’ it! ❀️

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

What I have learned on this journey so far…

Hello there! Been a while. I hate not having the time to blog like I want. Such is life, I guess. I am hoping things at work will calm down soon and I can get back to my regular posting. #nopromises

Here’s the deal… we are 3 months on this lifestyle change to get control of our finances. (INSTEAD OF OUR FINANCES CONTROLLING US!) It’s been fun, exciting, boring (there I said it), depressing, and motivating… All at ONCE!

  1. 99.9999% of our spending occurs out of boredom. Bored? Let’s go out and eat. Bored? Let’s do some window shopping! Bored? Let’s go meet friends for coffee and a movie. So much of our spending is out of boredom. We have the spending aspect under control but boredom is real. I don’t have much time during the week to be bored…but oh those weekends! We have a budget for “fun” and that can get wiped out on a rainy weekend. {and since we have 4 of those in a row…} Filling our time without depleting our funds has been interesting. I have spent more time at the library, read several good books, cleaned out virtually every corner of my house, and have spent a LOT of time in the Word. Learning WHY you spend is helpful information to have, I might add. I can do other things to fill that time slot rather than spending… it just takes a LOT more creativity.
  2. I have watched our balances go down SIGNIFICANTLY! We’ve had some wins that helped keep us motivated. Trading my car allowed for a nice size check back from my warranty that was unused so immediately that ALL went towards our debt. It is so CRAZY to watch how an extra $100 here or $200 there seems insignificant when staring at large balances. But it ADDS UP! So if you are right here with me–don’t give up! Every single time you choose NOT to spend $6.00 on something, you have made a tiny dent in your debt. Keep on going!frugallife
  3. Banking on a wind-fall is NEVER a good thing. I had high hopes of a large tax return. It has happened the past few years so in my head I had already “spent” that money on debt. Imagine the pain in my gut when I had to write a check to the IRS. Some people will pre-spend a windfall they are expecting. NEVER DO THAT! I learned the hard way. Not being a full time student and working full time changed our taxes for sure. I am thankful [oh SO THANKFUL} that we are in a position to pay the IRS and keep it moving without needing to break out a credit card or dip into savings. *But that is why you start with the emergency fund, FYI* I was disappointing… not gonna lie. I saw us paying a huge chunk on debt and chipping away at 3-4 months of our debt payments at once. It didn’t happen, said a few choice words in my head, asked for forgiveness for it, and kept it moving. πŸ™‚ That’s all you can do!
  4. We are living on the basics. Our tv choices are basic. Our phone plans are basic. Our day to day choices have become basic… and I can’t tell you I miss a thing! I don’t miss my car. I don’t miss the amount of gas it took to fuel it. I don’t miss flipping channels for HOURS on end. I just don’t miss it! We made some HUGE sacrifices to save hundreds each month… and I don’t miss A THING! #honesttruth It’s crazy! It really is all in what you are used to. And once you get used to it- it’s what you are used to! If you are contemplating making some REAL changes just know that you can do it!
  5. I’ve learned that in 5 years we will have conquered a mountain of debt. A mountain of debt that we could maintain easily with our income… but we won’t be maintaining it for long! When I feel discouraged I pull out “5 year plan” from my financial notebook… and I smile. We ARE making progress! Every choice, every change, every time we say NO, we are impacting our future. We have BIG dreams! {Some of which I want to share oh so badly… but it’s too soon!} We have a goal for where we will be in the next decade of our lives and that picture is oh so pretty! No house payment, car payment or debt. My daughter asked last week “are y’all doing this so one day you can be like Grandmother and Papa?” YES, baby girl! One day very soon we will only have to pay electricity, water, and buy food. {okay so maybe there’s a few more than that} Paint a picture of what you want and go for it! It will NOT be easy and it won’t be an over night “Get rich quick” scheme that gets you there. Unfortunately it’s the hardest marathon I have ever run… and that’s not only because it’s the ONLY one i’ve ever run! It’s because it’s personal, it’s day to day choices, it’s drinking coffee at home instead of going to the coffee shop, and it’s trying to find something fun in your closet our of clothes you have had for years. It’s hard, painful, and sometimes lonely… but it’s WORTH IT!

That’s what I have learned along with many other nuggets of wisdom I will shed light on later

Thanks for reading.

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

Keeping that laser focus.

It’s so hard to stay focused, isn’t it?

There are a million and one distractions in our lives. I get so easily distracted so I HAVE to write things down. My planner is always with me, I am constantly writing notes or putting notes in my phone. It’s just so easy to get off focus.

The financial journey is the same. We HAVE to remember why in the heck we are doing this!!! Right? {Please don’t tell me it is JUST me.} I just finished an episode of “Divorce” on HBO. I totally love SJP but she will ALWAYS be Carrie Bradshaw to me. (SEEE!I just got distracted!) Anyway- the point is that while watching the show I am fascinated by the fashion and the homes. The show is set in New York but clearly not right in Manhattan like “Sex and the City” was. But still!! The homes are so open with huge windows and the kitchens are amazing. And Carrie (okay that’s not her name on the show but that is what I will call her #carriebradshawfan) shows up to an event at her daughters school in these AMAZING shoes! I didn’t let myself google them [totally curious as to what brand they are] because THAT is how it starts. I see something in the media-whatever the format may be- and I instantly feel this DESIRE to have it.

How do we stay focused when it is just so dang easy to lose focus?

  1. I keep my goals written and where I can see them.
  2. I go over them ALL the time! And I mean ALLLLL the time!

Short term goal:

  • Pay off the credit card!!!

We allowed ourselves to get sucked in to swiping there for a while. I have mentioned that before Dave Ramsey would NOT be happy with us for keeping a credit card. At this point it is JUST for my husbands work rental cars/hotels/etc (for which he is reimbursed) but there was a time when it was easier to swipe that card. The balance is much higher than I would ever want and the INTEREST! It’s crazy! For a couple with good credit I don’t understand how it is THIS high. No, it is not our “smallest” balance. We skipped ahead again. And Dave says no to that, and so does his daughter Rachel. {Just finished her book. It was so good! And I took it back to the library so if you’re local- go get it!!} But for us– we looked at the monthly interest and decided if we used our gazelle like intensity to pay this off FAST we would be money ahead in the long run. Based on what I have read the reason for using smallest to largest is to get those “wins” or victories along the way. And we have gotten a LOT of those! I don’t need a win to stay motivated– i’m MOTIVATED! So for us, we wanted to knock that out because the NEXT debt becomes our vehicles.

Point is– I check the balance on that card constantly! I click on payments JUST to be reminded of how much we have been paying and how far we have come. When I get distracted and want to swing by a boutique on the way home I click on that icon and look at how far we have come. CHECK YOUR GOALS!

focus.png

Long term goal: (5 *hopefully* years out)

NO DEBT except our home! And even in that 5 years I HOPE to see a LOT of progress on our home. But if my hand to paper calculations add up we will have 2 vehicles, student loans, and a large credit card paid off. The snowball will keep growing EACH month! I cannot lose sight of that.

Looooong term goal: (10 years and beyond)

Owe nobody NOTHIN’! The ultimate plan is that my 44th birthday will be celebrated by 15 days in Europe. We will be celebrating owing NOTHING!! I want my bills to be:

insurance, water bill, electricity, cell phone, internet, Netflix. That’s it! {And who knows? Maybe I will feel like I can splurge for cable by then!}

I understand that is somewhat of a stretch. Things happen. At some point a car will break down or we will need a new roof. Or God forbid something worse that would drain our finances. But living with REAL goals {and doable with hard work and motivation} keeps us going. I am a traveler. If I could travel to a new place each month I would. In fact, last year I nearly did. ALL I want to do is hop on a plane and go somewhere new and exciting. (Or visit the coolest places I have already been.) But I am {almost…and literally ALMOST} as excited to only have one trip planned this year. Ya know why? Because that means I am that many thousands of dollars ahead on reaching my GOALS!

Keeping that laser focus is hard. But it is MUCH easier when you know what the heck this all for! With every time we pass up going out to eat (which happened Friday night), with every NO we have to say to an outing, and with every extra dime going towards debt we are reminded of the purpose.

How do you keep focused on your financial goals? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

 

 

And an additional $265

I’ve posted previously about saving over $600 a month by cutting back, literally cutting the cord, and making some phone calls.

And as you know from reading here I decided to downsize my car. Trading my car meant notifying my insurance company so that they could make the change of vehicle to my policy.

Well…

Between the car payment lowering, insurance going down, and the HUGE gas mileage difference… we have saved an addition $265 per month! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

$868.25 is our new monthly savings total! Talk about that debt snowball growing tremendously in just a few short months!! I am SO excited!!

Couple of things to note:

You CAN do it too! You may think you don’t have enough to cut but I assure you there are at least SOME changes you could make. Get specific with your bills and make some phone calls.

You CAN keep it up. I’ve had several emails from readers asking if I can REALLY do this long term. Here’s the deal– I can and I will! There are two reasons I can say that with confidence.

big

1. I have a “big picture” in mind. I know the purpose behind the madness. I know with every penny I pinch I am ONE step closer to obtaining this goal.

2. I allow LOTS of room for fun! Whether it’s using our “fun” money to go see a movie or spending hours walking around my favorite resale shop to find some deals… I allow the room for that! I look for bargains and I try my hardest to stretch every dime but I still get to do fun stuff! (That costs actual money) Life doesn’t feel THAT different than before except that I’m watching balances decrease. And that is a beautiful thing!

Keep going!! You can do it! πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

Thanks for reading!

For Now,

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.Β 

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.Β 

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.Β 

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

Because Dave told me so…

I have told more people this lately… it’s becoming insane.

Throughout this process I can honestly say that my husband and I have gotten closer. We have written goals for our future and a plan on how to get there {or at least we agree on how to NOT get there!} We also have come to share our love/hate for Dave Ramsey. I hate it when people are ALWAYS right.

We sat down last week and looked very intently at all of our bills. Things that I have NEVER paid attention to are now topics of everyday conversation. Such as: How much is Netflix and when does it come out of the account? We had no clue! How sad is that! I wasn’t quite sure what we paid for Amazon, Sam’s, Hulu and so many others it’s embarrassing.

I looked through each bill and went back through our online banking to SEE what all we pay for and when. (terrible… I know!) We knew there had to be some wiggle room in there somewhere. After looking through EVERY bill we have–here is what I learned and did.

  1. Verizon. I called them. Let’s talk. “Ya see Dave Ramsey told me to call you.” What changes can be made to lower this bill! I saved us $36 dollars each month by this phone call. I now have my bill drafted {and don’t worry–I wrote down the draft date so I won’t forget!} which saves $10 a month and I took the iPad off of a data plan. We use the unlimited plan so when we need the iPad we can hotspot our phone and save that money!
  2. Entergy. I mean we HAVE to have electricity but what can we do differently? We are on levelized billing and after taking a good look at every bill from this past month I learned that we are over paying by $60 bucks a year! Not anymore we aren’t. Maybe for you this is a great plan to be on… but not for us! I’ll take that extra money any day of the week!!
  3. Dish. Guess what? If we cancel on February 14th (which is our anniversary/contract date) we can come back in 30 days as a “new customer.” So on that date we will no longer have dish! Will we come back after 30 days? Probably. But do we have to? NOPE! Because we are not slaves to Dish anymore! (HALLELUJAH!) In the mean time I looked at some blogs/pinterest posts to see what Roku has to offer. We have one but we really only use it for Netflix. I found a FREE app called Pluto tv. It basically works like dish/cable in the fact that you have tv channels to chose from within this app. There is a news channel and a People tv channel which has some great shows on it. We WILL survive that 30 days with no Dish and possibly survive longer. Roku has some fantastic apps you just have to know what you’re looking for. IF we can stay away from Dish for any amount of time we will be saving TONS of money. Average savings: $88.20 per month.

money

A few phone calls and only a FEW times of having to say “Dave Ramsey asked me to call…” I have saved $125 dollars a month. And I LITERALLY did all of this in less than an hour. Worth every second.

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

Budget BUSTER #1 Grocery Shopping

I despise going to the grocery store.

Not just like a slight dread but like legit hate every second of it. It’s ALL the prep work.

You have to find the recipes on pinterest that you want to try. Make the list of all the stuff needed to try out these new fancy recipes… then it’s finding coupons and looking through the pantry to see what you have/need. Then it’s realizing you are never going to do all of that and starting over with your same ol’ weekly recipes. {I can’t be the only one…right??}

My husband will NEVER understand all of the work it takes to go to the grocery store. (Though I try to explain every single time we go…) I try to keep up with what we have/need, find my coupons, match the ads for the best prices, decide what night is going to be what, look at our calendar to see if we have anything planned that night, who will be home, who is gone… it’s legit like a never ending cycle!!! STOP THE MADDDDNESSSSS!!!

Two things that have helped:

Clicklist

eMeals

Clicklist is amazing and I use it when I can! You can do it through the Kroger app or desktop and fill your cart, pay for it, then set up a pick up time. It REALLY is life changing! After the first few times you use it you will start to incur a $6.00 fee.

Pros: I believe that I spend less when I use Clicklist. I am not tempted by impulse purchases or a “bargain” that ends up wrecking my budget.

Cons: The fee. You have to decide if that $6 fee is worth not going inside. You might make the perfect list and still forget something. Walking around the store may spark that memory of a forgotten item and you won’t have to make an extra trip to buy it. IF you use coupons then it is more difficult. You pay for your items from your comfy couch, but when you get there and they bring them out to you, you then hand them coupons and they go back inside and bring you back out cash or a gift card. (I’ve had it happen both ways.) Either is great but I have had it take $20 minutes before they came back out. Not griping just telling you the cons.

Price: $6 per trip (be on the lookout for a occasional freebies from Clicklist)

grocery.jpg

eMeals is a great meal planning site that literally gives you printed recipes, meals PLUS the shopping list!!! Wanna know something super cool- It is DAVE RAMSEY approved!! You can sign for free for 14 days and see how you like the program.. You choose your meal plan (family meals, vegan, gluten free, etc.) and from there your program is built. I still spend some time matching my coupons to the list and deciding what I already have and don’t need to buy but it is a time saver for sure. Several of the meals are not worth trying (in my opinion) but if you desperately want to try new meals on a budget while saving time- combine eMeals with Clicklist and there ya go!

Pros: If half the battle is planning meals– then here ya go! Problem solved. You can print the recipes/grocery lists and re use them later! I chose to pay for it for 1 year at a time and I print every weeks meals/list and file them away for next year.

Cons: A LOT of the recipes I don’t want to eat. I don’t think of myself as picky but a few of the recipes required bottles of stuff that I bought and will NEVER use again because I won’t be remaking it. It’s a nice way to try new stuff though. So maybe that isn’t a con…

Price: $50 per year, $10 for 3 months, first 2 weeks free!

Other tips for not busting your budget at the grocery store:

1- Know your family staples.

Each week {most weeks} we are going to have some form of Mexican food, hamburgers and spaghetti. Quick, easy, and yummy! That means no matter what I am picking up a few taco seasoning packets {or making my own when i’m feeling super frugal}, jar of tomato sauce, and hamburger meat. I can use the meals I always have in rotation and then I really only need to focus on having a few more. When Kroger runs their taco seasoning on clearance, I stock up! When Spaghetti sauce is 10 for $10, I just grab my coupons and head out the door. Know what you make on a regular basis and keep extra on hand!

2- Shop on Tuesdays.

It stinks because that is ALSO senior day, but that is also the last day in Krogers week. Which MEANS the mark-down wands will be waving their magic powers all over the store. That is a terrific time to get meat and produce on sale. Go later in the evenings {learn from my mistake} and enjoy a less stressful time to search the bargains.

3- Cut and freeze.

We don’t like to waste at our house. If I have to invite friends over to eat to avoid wasting food– I will do it! When I find meat on sale I will bring it home and cut it up, bag it up, throw in the deep freeze. For example– yesterday Kroger had pork loins on sale for .99 a pound!! (HOLY MOLY!!!!) We stocked UP! Several I froze whole knowing that we will throw them in the smoker and invite friends over for a game night. But 2 I cut up into smaller portions for me to throw in the crockpot during the week. What would have been $55.80 for 20 pounds of pork loin was $20. Now THAT is what i’m talking about. I also freeze bread, buns, and chips.

4-Β  I’d love to have a 4th point but i’m a Baptist preachers kid… so I have to stick with 3!

What are YOUR tips for saving at the grocery store? Share them with me in a comment or by emailing roxyrambles02@gmail.com

Also–the link to the lettuce wrap tacos is one I found on pinterest earlier this year when I did the Whole 30. It was AMAZING and super easy!!

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

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