Monday, February 29, 2016

February's Spending Freeze

This idea all started when I had Mr. Jewels look up the total amount we owed on our student loans. I wanted to see how much we had paid off from the last time I had checked the total a year ago. The amount was much bigger, like over $200.00 more! After taking a closer look, our minimum payment was only going towards the interest owed, if that. I found one of those amortization schedule, plugged in all the correct information and by the time we would be done paying the minimum amount each month for 20 years we would have paid over $247,000.00 for a $45,000.00 loan! That's way more than our house is worth.

Let's get down to business, I searched and pinned and read every idea I could find that might help us to pay down our debt faster and yes we have been following the Dave Ramsey advice and all would be great, but I really wanted to have a real kickstart into getting us into the mood for paying off these loans. There really are some great articles out there of people's stories and ideas of how to get debt paid off fast. One lady didn't spend anything extra for a whole year, just bills, groceries, gas. One couple sold their home and moved in with parents until their debt was paid off. A little extreme, but it worked for them.  We are the type to just take it one step at a time, just like the saying, "how do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time." We are going to do just that.

I really liked the idea of doing a spending freeze for one month so we decided to go for it and besides February has the least amount of days even when it is leap year. The results were amazing, over $1,000.00 sent off from our one and only income.  We received a windfall from our tax return and the total amount sent to student loan debt was $3,270.63. Amazing.

The spending freeze rules were that we didn't do any spending except for groceries and a cheap date every once in awhile. We paid our bills, but didn't put any money into the fund accounts that we have for like school fees, car repairs, house repairs, donations, etc.

Tips to remember and advice for the next time we do this:

Have a meal plan for everyday of the week and every meal of the day. I didn't do this for every meal and we went out to eat a few times or had a pizza brought in. Oops.

Stock up the month before on snacks and other items the kids enjoy and chocolate for me. Hide these things until the kids get a hankering for wanting to go get something from the store.

Find lots of free things to do around town and at home and make a list. Ask others what they like to do for free.

Finally finish a project you've been putting off, one that doesn't cost anymore money of course.

Play all the board games you own.

Visit the library often

Stock up on yarn so that I won't run out of yarn before I run out of project.

Tell friends and family what you are doing so they can be supportive and helpful.

Check daily the balance of the debt you are wanting to pay off, it kept me motivated.

Make a list the month beforehand of things you would like to accomplish around the home during the spending freeze. Free things you can do, like organizing closets, cleaning cupboards, washing walls, rearranging the furniture in a room, whatever you can do that will keep you occupied enough that you will not want to go spend money.

Do a tightwad date night with friends, every one brings a dish to share and play games or watch movies even with the kids.

Be content, spending freezes will end, debt will be paid down, sacrifice does pay off.

Read inspiring books

Visit with friends often

Have a supply of snacks in the car

Invite others who would like to try a spending freeze and meet together often to encourage each other.

Write down your goals and your progress and get the kids involved.

It's not the funnest thing in the world to do, but with a goal in mind and lots of support and planning a spending freeze isn't so bad after all.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Time

We started out this month by celebrating two birthdays, one for our oldest who turned 16 and received his driver's license and the other was for our 8 year old boy who was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We then celebrated a promotion at work for Mr. Jewels, got our Christmas tree and had dinner at Cafe Zuppas. We then put up the Christmas tree and finished the final decorations on the home. This year's tree consisted only of lights and the star and new-to-us vintage tree stand. Sam was the only one who complained about not having any ornaments and I told him next year we will put every ornament we have on the tree. There were many days of baking and cooking, many days of knitting, many days of wrapping, many days of shoveling, and many days spent at home and enjoying our blessings. These photos are a few of my favorite little things around the house at ChristmasTime.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The mighty tidy

Just a little over two years ago we decided that we couldn't afford to live in our home anymore, after a long unemployment and running out of student loan money, it just wasn't looking good. We wanted so dearly to keep our home, we love it so much.
We came up with two options, the first was that we would find another home to rent that was significantly cheaper than our mortgage payment and rent out our home at the price we needed in order to keep our home. The second option was an idea given to us by a friend and that was that we would also move out of our home into a place much cheaper and make our home a vacation rental.

We went with option two. It was actually really fun turning our home into a vacation rental and thinking what would make people want to come stay in our home while visiting our great little town. Only one problem came with this scenario, we looked everywhere we could to find a place for us to live and every single rental fell through, it was frustrating.  We decided we would still put our home up as a vacation rental, we packed up everything we didn't possibly need or want and stored it in the garage and what was left we would just pack up into the van when we had guests staying in our home. We were able to stay at a neighbors house while they were out of town, we stayed at my parents home for another weekend, we went up to Lava Hot springs and stayed in a very cheap motel room for another weekend and we squatted in an empty house for another weekend.  It worked out just fine for the most part. I was just extremely tired from all the packing and cleaning, I think being unknowingly pregnant had a little something to do with that too.

It was so exciting when we finally received a job where we could come back home, we took our home off the listing and moved our stuff back in. I was still a little mentally and physically exhausted and taking care of our little newborn and didn't feel like putting my house quite in the order I wanted it to be.

I read that popular book, the one about tidying, with others I have talked to it gave them a great rush and they got right to it, with me it just gave me anxiety and I didn't do anything but read it. It just made me feel like I needed to get the house ready to move again and I did not want to do that. Just recently have I felt some permanence with being here at home. I finally put what I read to use. I have done to my closet what works best for me and it will stay this way until I feel like I need it to change. I love opening the doors to see it all organized. I have kept it tidy for a whole two weeks now. So happy with myself.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Up in the Uintas

This summer we took a little weekend trip up to a cabin in the Uintas, it has been quite awhile since we have taken a family trip and with a new little one in tow we have been pretty homebound. This trip was like taking a little dip to test the waters. We stayed in a neighbors cabin and invited up some friends and had an enjoyable time. We saw deer and sheep and birds and squirrels. We visited Mirror Lake to go fishing and the following day we drove to this beautiful lake, Lilly Lake. The road was extremely bumpy, but the lake was totally worth it. I'm always forgetting to take pictures so it's nice to invite friends who love taking pictures and are good at it. 
(Picture taken by Talia Photography)