Swag Bucks

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

$20 Amazon Gift Card for $10

There is 8 hours left for this promotion. It may change to $20 for $15 so hurry on over. Well, if you want the deal. What a great way to save. Find and share deals like this too. Good luck on saving and using all the resources available. It is 100% legit and safe and it does really work. :) Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Using the Envelope/Cash System

We officially started the envelope system only 4 days ago and it has already saved me $75. What I mean is as I was in Walmart I jotted down the nick nack food, clothes and beauty items I would have put in the cart if using the credit or even the debit card. It came out to 48 buckeroos. Then in the past few days I/we have wanted coffee and to swing by the "sandwich shop" for a bite and then burgers the next day. But I didn't have any cash for it so I/we didn't do any of those things. You can only imagine how much I'd sepnd in weeks, months, years not making wise choices with each and every stop at the store.
With that said, the envelope system works. Here is the basic info from Dave Ramsey himself on HOW to make it work. It's easy I promise. Any reason not to do this is called an excuse, especially if you are in debt, are not honest with your spouse about money you spend, have any sort of issue with spending (gambling, binge shopping etc...), or are using any credit cards that DO NOT get paid off each and every month. If you are not in any debt, then congrats!! ;)

Here are a few simple basics for starting a cash envelope system:

"1.Budget each paycheck. Budget is a dirty word to most people, but you must budget down to the last dime if you're going to successfully implement the envelope system.

2.Divide and conquer. Of course, there will be budget items that you cannot include in your envelope system, like bills paid by check or automatic withdraw. However, you can create categories like food, gas, clothing and entertainment.

3.Fill 'er Up. After you've categorized your cash expenses, fill each envelope with the money allotted for it in your budget. For example, if you allow $100 for clothing, put $100 in cash in your clothing envelope for the month.

4.When it's gone, it's gone. Once you've spent all the money in a given envelope, you're done spending for that category. If you go on a shopping spree and spend the $100 in your clothing envelope, you can't spend any more on clothes until you budget for that category again. That means no visits to the ATM to withdraw more money!

5.Don't be tempted. While debit cards can't get you directly into debt, if used carelessly, they can cause you to over-spend. There's something psychological about spending cash that hurts more than swiping a piece of plastic. If spending cash whenever possible can become a habit, you'll be less likely to over-spend or buy on impulse.

6.Give it time. It will take a few months to perfect your envelope system. Don't give up after a month or two if it's not clicking. You'll get the hang of it and see how beneficial the envelope system is as you dump debt, build wealth, and achieve financial peace! See ... simple!

Certainly, some bills may come in at different times of the month, so you'll need to adjust your written game plan to take it one step further. You need to plan the budget based upon your pay periods.

Say that you get paid twice a month. If you can write down which bills you plan on paying from each paycheck, you will not be left with a surprise bill. Spend each month's income and each individual paycheck on paper before it comes in."

Thanks Dave for the tools for financial freedom.
My wallet with the envelope system right inside.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cash or Credit to pay for Christmas?

Wahhhhhhh! We used credit. I'll just say it. GUILTY AS CHARGED!!! Charged? Sheesh, funny thing. We charged, and charged.
What if I tell you that we had two kids go from a uniform school to non uniform schools. They needed clothes. They also needed just a few church outfits. What if I say that when we pulled one from one private school into another and had to pay some hefty app/reg fees and a larger tuition. Oh, hubby's job messed up on his paycheck, it was significantly lower than expected. That awesome truck we paid cash for two years ago has broke down with big expenses twice in 6 weeks, and the jetta is literally a pc of junk. That itself has costs us a few bucks. (But less than any sorta car payment added up).

Well, truth be told, we paid cash for almost all of those things that we ended up using credit just to pay the bills. I told myself it was ok, it was just going to be a bill here and there. Paying cash for those things came at a price. We used the credit card also for things like gas, groceries, (and a few eating out ventures. Ah who am I kidding, we ate out LOTS!!!) and now we are stuck with interest and another 9 months of trying to get out of it. uh, ha......ha????? Okay, so not really funny, but sad, scary, depressing, disappointing.

However, I see that minor setback as a great thing. Sorta. As we realized the credit card, which has a lower limit, was close to being maxed out we realized real fast that we had no idea but to get our butts in gear. A few months ago I ordered Dave Ramsey's envelope system/coupon organizer. We pulled that out this week and I got it going. Check book is fully balanced and ready to help hold us accountable. SO cash it is for gas, groceries (Which included eating out) and for medical (any co pays as we have one little one with special needs and goes weekly to OT). So this is just a start but when the cash is gone, the spending in done.
Yeah, it's that easy. We have done it before.

I am not sure I have any readers left but if so share your goals. Well, I think there may be one of you. Hi DAD! ;)

Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So Close!

I have hesitated and pondered this next post. But with being so all or nothing with Dave Ramsey I decided that the only way to spread the word and be true to the process is to be upfront.

A few years back I was talking with the one gal from Bible Study who really perked my interest in trying out Dave Ramsey's plan. When she shared her debt free story I was SO excited until she added in that due to an accident and settlement they were blessed to become debt free a little sooner. I instantly became discouraged. How often does money just appear and become a blessing to be debt free? And without a chunk of money coming in can we really become debt free before we are in our grave?

After the first 8 weeks and losing $14,000 of our debt by selling everything in our home we didn't need, and the largest one being our Tahoe, I was sold that things can be done to get further out of debt. We wrestled with so many things. If we were not upside down in our home, we'd sell it in a heart beat. So many people have a nice amount of equity but are unwilling to sell because they love their home or they are comfortable there. I totally respect and understand that. So many of us do not want to sell our vehicles that are not paid off, or maybe paid off and we could bank off them and buy a little used vehicle and put all the rest to a debt. Which I understand too. However when you get out of your head that what you have is too nice to sell, or this or that, you become sorta materialistic. We all have that and are guilty. I don't mean to sound judging but it's sorta true. However, once you sell one thing that means something to you, BUT is just a material item that can be replaced, you realize it is so silly to be hooked on something SO much that you can't live with less for a small time period to work at feeling free for the rest of your life. Is having all the FUN stuff, nice cars, large home with all the updates so you can "keep up with the Jones's" really making you happy. How are those credit card bills feeling each month? I hate the mail because for 11 years its been nothing but bills. Credit cards, doctors, hospitals, surgeons, car payments, the house, line of credits, loans... You name it and we probably had it. There were even a few times we got collection letters for medical bills. And this was after insurance. Life was a mess as it is for so many of us. When you take a stand and jump on board and pay things, little by little, it's so empowering. I know now that I am serving God by tithing, and serving HIM by being a good steward with HIS money.

With this post I say that we received our chunk of blessing money from a past stock. We met with a few "financial people" who wanted to know why on earth we wouldn't roll this over. We will take such a "hit" on a penalty for cashing it out and there is all the taxes. We knew in our hearts that the WORLD would say these things. However we know in our hearts that Dave Ramsey is right in stating that the interest we are paying out each month alone (which I will save my pride and not say how much it was total) in all these debts is way more than "X" amount of years in an account to gain interest. So we cashed it out and are now about 7,000 from being debt free minus the house. We have taxes on it paid and have 7 out of 10 (YES YOU ARE READING THAT RIGHT) debts paid off IN FULL (not including all the dr bills, but those are pd as well). One of the remaining being a dept store card. So really a few dollars away from making that 8 things. Humiliating that we had that much? YEP! However we are headed in the right direction. And sadly we are far from being alone in this credit card driven society. We are currently still living paycheck to paycheck with not a lot left over for the remaining debt due to the 3 girls tuition and all 3 being in school all day but it is worth it for their education. And truthfully we look back and have NO idea how we survived all this time except that I think GOD was very generous in ways that He kept us afloat. I am not sure how. Or even why since we SO did not deserve it as we were horrible with God's money. But somehow by His grace HE kept providing the important things.

If you are considering your debt resolutions please check out Dave Ramsey's book "Total Money Makeover" and even check in to the Financial Peace University, FPU. Many churches all over the US hold these and I still hope to get involved with it. I met up with an old friend from high school and she has gone through the classes and showed/told me how they run their finances. I can't wait to visit with her more on making this work better for us like they are doing.

So here's to busting butts for financial freedom. I know, unlike so many people, that we were VERY blessed my a sum of money, but even before this we paid off almost 16,000 in ONE YEAR!!!! It can be done if you really want, and if you are willing to give up the material items in your life. Someone who I value and love greatly and have gotten to know told Ron and I recently when talking about things said, "ALL material items can be replaced, your children cannot." We were actually discussing how we tend to get so worked up over the kids ruining the BIG EXPENSIVE items we own that we don't allow our kids to have fun. We spend all out time stressed out over the scratch that might appear, or the thing that might break or get ruined that we don't even let kids be kids anymore. There is a difference in respecting what you have and worked hard for (or put on credit for) and being so over protective over material items that our children lose out on being a kid. We have found this comment similar and applied it to our financial lives. All material items can be replaced. There is no amount of debt worth looking good, or temporarily feeling, or getting to have that desired thing right now instead of saving and waiting. We appreciate so much more when we work hard for it, hand over the cash or debit card that has that saved money on it.

Happy selling, happy saving and happy paying down debt. Here is to strict budgeting and back to the basics. OH, and no more excuses. What are your and can you rid the excuses from your life?

I can't wait to call Dave Ramsey and tell him WE ARE DEBT FREE!!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What's it Worth to You?

Getting out of debt! What is that worth to you? What are you willing to do? What can you do? These are the questions we ask and are still asking ourselves weekly. What more can we do and are we truly doing enough?
I have to laugh at our craziness. We have a timeline on a bill that needs to be paid. We can't use credit, so we are left with cash. Well, we have no spare cash to put towards this. SO we once again looked around the house. What can we live without? Here's a reminder..... Everything we have is a material item. We need our beds so those stay. We need our kitchen table and appliances so those stay. We need the washer and dryer, stay. Couch? Hmmm! I think we can live without the couch. We do have two nice little chair things we can sit on that are already a part of the living room. So we agreed on a price and put the couch, actually a very GINORMOUS (complete understatement) sectional from the La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery up for sale. I looked online and discovered the exact couch is new for 2,599. Yikes. That is over double what we pd. I then looked at the couch in detail and noted the things that were wrong with it and posted in on the local Craig's List. We had it sold, the people showed up after renting a uhaul and decided they didn't want it because it was not a solid brown. Downer. I was flooded with emails in response and hit the few that said "we want it no matter what. Have the cash and can pick up asap". So we went to the next and it was sold. Again. We delivered to them today and to my surprise they obviously did not measure like I said they needed to do. Sure enough the sectional was way to big for the living room there but they said they will make it work. LOL! So I walked away with the money for it. I was pleased.

Once you sell that first item it's easy to feel great and think, "Now what can I sell?" So we are selling our stationary bike and whatever else we find in storage that we have been living without for the past 7 months. I will keep you posted.
Just remember that if we can sit on the floor for a few months while watching tv, which we shouldn't be anyway, plus it's summer, than so can you. Well, I am not saying go sell your couch, but find things that you have around your house that you CAN LIVE WITHOUT. Sentimental things, heirlooms and those things passed down keep for obvious reasons. NO complaining until you have tried everything you can. Try your best to sell something before running to someone to borrow money. You will feel so empowered. Any feedback? Do I have any readers? I guess if you quit posting people quit reading. If I'm not suggesting realistic things for realistic people then there is no point in putting this out there. I will anyway, even if for one reader. If anything for my own documentation of our journey.
So what's it worth to us? Being debt free! Bottome line!
Have a great summer selling things on the Internet, at garage sales and however else you can. Clean house, less clutter and less debt. Go sell!!!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010


I think I have been avoiding this blog because I am not really sure what to write about. On top of that I know that I have a few family member that follow and a few friends. I knew that I went out on a limb when I followed my own blog as some of us tend to click on others our of curiosity. Or nosiness. ;) I'm not that one though. LOL Warning, this is a info post and a full blown vent at the end. I have bottled it up and am just going to let it out! (((ROAR)))

We have waited for over 5 years for stock $ from a job my husband had several years ago. He was automatically vested into the company and after his job change we knew we would watch it grow and have a certain amount of money in the end of a waiting period. We have come to that time where we have had to decide what to do with that money. Since we are huge Dave Ramsey fans we definitely know that we need to pull enough to become as close to debt free as possible. Knowing this made us a little lazy in being totally frugal. We have researched and know that we will make more money off not paying all the interest on the credit cards and line of credit we have then to invest or roll over the portion to gain money. When looking at our interest and how long we technically will be paying for these debts, it was way more outrageous. Remember our biggest financial success is from our income. So we know that we will be taking out enough for that. So in the next few months my blog will be saying we are SO close to being debt free. I know that this isn't an opportunity for many, we are blessed. With this I remind anyone who could even be reading this that we started taking baby steps and still are, and we have paid off almost 20 grand in 16 months. That is huge for a family of 6 that lives paycheck to paycheck.

We have had a lot of things come up that are not in our budget lately. ER visit for severe headache/migraine= strep, Urgent care visit for stitches on the back of head, several as in 12 dr visits at $20 per visit just in co-pays, ER visit for medicine reaction, ENT surgery and visits = $400 for dr/surgery center bill, ER visit for high fever after surgery that wouldn't come down, a baby shower for my sister, and a few expenses out of pocket for things for the school. These are areas where we did not include into our budget and KNEW that once we took them out we would regret it. We have no emergency fund. But we manage and know that at least the bills are being paid and on time. We are keeping our credit afloat.

I am not really sure why I blog about money. It's such a taboo to talk about and it's a risk to put it out for all to read. I think that there is a part of me that is not embarrassed because I know we are SO NOT ALONE. There is that other part of me where I have been so encouraged by others blogs that I wanted to write it all out myself. I love being on the computer typing away all my thoughts. I have been judged because I have done it but I really don't care. We are doing something about it and have worked SO hard for 16 months. We are too prideful to put others out and borrow from others. I think it's tacky when you keep making stupid financial choices and spending and every month are needing to borrow from people it's time to find another route. I know people who so this and it really bothers me. Lack of responsibility and maturity is everywhere. I may be too hard on some, we are no better, we just borrow from strangers call credit. But we vowed we would NEVER put out family or friends to rescue us because of our bad choices. I get so irritated when elderly, yes my grandmothers are used for borrowing money. I don't care who does and if they pay back but it's tacky. If you can't pay for something DON'T BUY IT with others money!!! If you need money every month, GET A JOB, get a second job. My husband did and it works. He's had 3 jobs at a time three times and two jobs almost constantly. I love my family but the more I hear the more angry I get. Especially when they are going out to eat, buying coffees, fast food, clothes and drive nicer cars and have new things. It's irritating. I am totally venting and willing to reap whatever comes out of this vent.
I know that we all hit hard times, and I am not opposed to borrowing from family or friends if needed for a last resort once or twice. I just think when it's abused its not ok. I have seen this too much. And truthfully, I never have done so, so maybe that is why it's easy to "judge" if that is how it's coming across.

So on a positive note, I am enjoying shopping for meals each week. I intended last time to jot that down. Not sure if it's to give you 3 ;) ideas or if it was to keep me accountable. So here I go with that:
Mon: leftovers
Tues: freezer meal- pasta primavera
Wed: crock pot chicken, rice a roni
Thurs: hot dogs, party potatoes
Fri: Left overs
Sat: misc
Sun: Dinner with family ??

Welcome Summer!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'mmm Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Man has it been a long time since I have committed to posting on here. Mostly because I felt if the debt wasn't going very far then it wasn't important. We have sold most things there are to sell in the house, and are at a little standstill. However we will have big changes this year and big choices to make.

I will be brutally honest! Last night after watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution , I realized that not only are kids not getting healthier foods, but that I was also feeding my kids terrible foods. I was appalled at the head cook for one of the schools he was at when she complained that it takes "too long" and would mean hiring more people to prepare foods from scratch, then to give them nasty processed foods. The head lady at the school even said that she wasn't sure on continuing this project, or mission, Jamie is one because it was double the cost. I was ticked thinking, "How dare someone put a price on my child's health. Most people pay for their child to have hot lunch, they should be fighting for their kids to have better quality. It is their money. And how dare she complain about the time and effort, and even the man power it will take to serve a child better foods." Then I felt so disgusted at myself thinking of the many time A WEEK, (I know embarrassing, humiliating, and shameful) I feed my children this same way. Because I am tired. Because I don't want to spend two hours in the kitchen. Because I don't want to clean up the mess after. Because I don't want the hassle. Man that is selfish. And wrong. I have been blessed with four wonderful children to serve. Part of that servant hood is giving them healthy foods to put into their God given bodies. This IS a very important task that I have been failing miserably at.

I then started doing some research and saw things like McDonald's fries never molding. I vowed to go buy a cheeseburger and small fries to document how long it takes to mold vs raw, hand prepped burger and fries. The only reason why is because I don't want to just believe what I saw but to see it for myself. I will keep you posted on this as well. Apparently the more raw a food the faster it will, should spoil.

You may be wondering what the heck this has to do with saving money, budgeting, or becoming debt free. Here's is the answer: In order to eat fast food, it costs money. I looked at our spending and I was even more embarrassed. I will save you the details of our stupidity but know that we BLOW so much on eating out, going through the drive thru, pizza, coffees, etc.... We even ate take out pizza right before watching the show. (Today I couldn't even eat the leftovers. I made my own healthy lunch). Not only fast food but things like buying frozen foods like chicken nuggets instead of being creative and making your own.

So, Within 30 minutes of watching the show I had two weeks of meals planned out and a shopping list written up. Ron and I agreed on this change. No more eating out unless it is fully planned and not without purpose. This is however, how it was when we were growing up.

So here we go. I will start again posting recipes and meals plans this next week. I will be checking out all of your blogs again too. I will keep you posted on our journey to being det free. I have been absent and could use the revamp!

I have a picky eater so I have included her in the meal plan. She gets to choose a healthy meal once a week. I am hoping this will save her from going to bed hungry.

Here's to saving money on gross foods to buying and preparing healthy foods. NO matter the cost. While not blowing it I can spend it on better things. Yay!!!!!