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saving money

I hate surprises

I don’t like surprises at ALL! I am a planner. Type A. Everything is mapped out. Everything has its place. Naps are penciled I’m so I don’t forget to do it. Bottom line? I hate surprises.

So imagine what these past 2 weeks have been like for a “planner”.

Husband had to get an unplanned crown… and I don’t mean the kind on your head. $687.00 after insurance.

Husband had a spot checked. $238 for a skin cancer biopsy

I had 3 fillings. $287.00

I HATE surprises– good or bad!!

Thankfully Baby Step 1 had us covered. Paid for it. Grumbled. Kept it moving

If you don’t have an emergency fund– get one!! Now! Go sell some stuff, drop cable, quit eating out and stop going by Starbucks. Do whatever you can to get that $1000 stashed away as quickly as possible. Because trust me– surprises happen. No matter how bad you hate them!

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

Debt Payoff Planner

Thought I would share about an amazing app I found.

Debt Payoff Planner can be found in the iTunes or the Play store. (I know because I had a friend with a Samsung phone try to find it.) it’s blue and has a dove on it. (I have no clue why!)

Anyway– the app allows you to put in all of your debt, interest rate, minimum payment and then decide how you want your payoff plan to look. I chose smallest to largest because “that’s the Dave Ramsey way”. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

It gives you a picture of how quickly you will pay off your debt using the snowball method.

I found it to be encouraging and a way to keep that motivation going! Hope you find it to be helpful.

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

Some days it’s just difficult…

I was chatting with a friend yesterday who also is on her debt free journey. I find so much comfort in moments when someone else is right along with me… trying to follow the steps, make smart financial moves, and get out of this mess!

We were discussing ways to stay motivated. She suggested following hashtags (like debt free, financial peace,etc) on Instagram. I totally jump don that bandwagon and spent some time finding encouraging people to follow.

Guys (and gals)… some days it’s just plain hard! It’s hard to stay motivated. It’s hard to take hundreds of dollars every Friday (our paydays) and chunk it at debt. Some days it’s difficult to “confirm” the payments!! I often pause and think of what I could do with that money. Whether it’s $150 or $750… I could undoubtedly find something “fun” to spend that money on. And instead I have to remind myself that I’ve already had “fun” with that money. And now I am PAYING for all that fun I had. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Sometimes I want to say forget it! Let’s go back to just paying the minimums on everything (I mean at least we were paying our bills, right?!?!) and book a flight to somewhere– anywhere!!

We have paid off over $13,000 since we began this journey just 5 months ago. It IS worth it. Sometimes I just need to vent and rediscover that motivation!

How do you keep yourself motivated? How do you push through the tough times? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

Making changes to your envelope system

envelopes

I am such a fan of the envelope system. The FIRST step we made in starting this Debt Free Process was to start living on cash. We had done it some in the past but never stuck with it 100%. We both agreed to jump in with both feet!

I’ve mentioned before the envelopes that we use. After I traded my car, I did not need as much in the gas envelope. My husband’s fuel is covered through his work so the envelope is only for me. I realized after a few weeks that I had a LOT of cash leftover in that envelope… BUT, we had really gotten into trying new food at home and were spending more at the store. Easy fix! But– I still took time to read on Dave Ramsey’s website to see what he would say. πŸ™‚ Once I had his permission {I know, I know} to make this change, I did it.

The cash we take out each month is still the same amount BUT it gets divided up differently. Make those changes! YOU are in control! Perhaps your family requires a TON of money for food but you live in a place where you take the bus? Or maybe you only have one vehicle. That’s OKAY!

I’ve mentioned my Love/Hate relationship with DR before… and part of the reason is that he comes across as though there is no margin for error, or change. I want to do it RIGHT and let’s face it- Dave Ramsey has this down to an art! So I was struggling with swaying from the “plan.” Make the plan your own! You know what your needs are and you HAVE to take those into full consideration on this “plan.” The PLAN will NEVER work if you aren’t on board. And it’s HARD to get in board when it seems so rigid, right?! I know I felt that way! I don’t anymore.. I have made peace with making changes. InΒ  some areas I follow his plan 150%, but in others, well, my husband and I don’t agree with them. {Mainly the emergency fund… DR says $1000 and we say we want it to be more to feel comfortable.}

Make it your own. Take each step and apply it in the BEST way to fit your NEEDS!

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

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

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 πŸ™‚

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

For now,

Cara Roxanne

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