Category Archives: Finances

I’m working hard and getting nowhere

Do you ever feel like that?   I have felt that way on our jOurNey to get out of debt.  On Tuesday, I shared the story on how we got out of denial and started tackling our finances in my “Getting Out of Financial Denial” post.  Does that mean the process has been easy and I haven’t wanted to quit?  No way!

Today I wanted to shed some light on the “lows” of working toward a gOaL.  There will be times when you feel like you are making no progress.  When we first started tackling our debt I felt like we were moving mountains.  But as time went on there were moments we felt defeated because of unexpected bills or kinks in the “plan”.

Life isn’t easy.  There will be suRpriSes and setbacks.  In tough times, Doug and I talk a lot about where we’ve come and the good things in store for our future.  When we need inspiration we tune into Dave Ramsey’s radio show for the “Debt Free Fridays” to hear how other people turned their financial disaster into a sUcCeSs story.  We surround ourselves with friends that have similar goals and give us support.  We choose NOT to give up because we know there IS a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you are feeling defeated in some area of your life, take heart!  You may not feel like you are making progress, but YOU ARE.  Eventually you will see your hard work pay off.  Believe it and persevere.  The greatest rewards come to those who work hard and wait….

Lara

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From the Confessional: Financial Denial

I remember 2011 Super Bowl Sunday like it was yesterday.  The game was about to wrap up and I sat in the living room staring at our computer, logging our expenses for the month.  I told Doug what I was woRkiNg on.  He responded by asking, “Lara, WHY do you even do that? We’ve been doing this for years and it comes out to the same number every month!“  After talking about it for a while we went to bed feeling defeated.

I couldn’t fall asleep and happened to see the “Total Money Makeover” book by Dave Ramsey on the night stand.  (I had ordered that book earlier in the week because a friend had recommended it.)  I ended up reading the first three chapters and my financial atTituDe was forever impacted.  I anxiously told Doug about it the next morning and, from that day on, we started working the basic principles to become debt free.  We revamped our expense sheet, made new gOaLs, and most importantly worked like crazy.   Doug got up with me and worked a few hours painting blocks before he went to his day job.  We stayed home on the weekends and worked every free chance we had.  We got the entire family involved in the process.  It was a little cRazY but we finally started getting traction.

Looking back, I can’t believe how much we’ve accomplished.  We not only drastically changed our financial situation, but our family has become even more of a TeaM.  It is still a work in progress but we are on our way to changing our family tree!

I am sharing this with you because if someone didn’t reach out to us, who knows how long we would have stayed in denial.  As humbling as it is to admit our faults, I take cOmfoRt in knowing our story may help someone going through the same struggle.

How is your financial situation?  Do you run out of money before the end of the month?  Go check out the “Total Money Makeover”.  Dave Ramsey has a great, simplified plan that will make you look at your financial future in a whole new way.  We also LoVe tuning into his radio podcasts while we are busy at work!  Visit http://www.daveramsey.com/radio/home/

Check back in on Thursday, for my Part 2 of this story!

Get on your way to financial FREEDOM!

Lara

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$ailing The Financial $ea$

This is a ship Scott made for our girls one cold, winter night. It's lessons are: On the journey to financial freedom, first, just get going, and second, don't compare your ship to the Queen Mary!

I have to AdMiT, I was a little (or a lot) hesitant to write a post about money.  You may have read my earlier post “Broke Was My Goal” where I talked about being a teacher with a financial mess on my hands and how I got out of that mess by taking one small step at a time.  Back then, I was a teacher on a limited salary.  Now I’m a doctor’s wife and on the other end of the spectrum.  You can probably understand my hesitation of talking about MoNeY.  The last thing I want to do is discourage our readers, who may think, “That’s easy for you to say.  I could do that if I were in your situation.”  My motive for talking about money is to give hope and encouragement, regardless of where you find yourself financially.  Not only do I desire for you to have hope in your financial situation, but also financial PeAcE.

That is a phrase I first heard in 2006 when Scott, my husband, and I took guru Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” class.  That really ChAnGeD the way we looked at money.  Up to that point we weren’t all that bad at handling money, but really didn’t have a clear-cut plan.  However, once we took this class our goals changed.  Because financial peace and living DeBt FrEe is our goal we have chosen to make certain sacrifices in our finances.  For us, it meant swallowing our pride and not trying to keep up with the Jones’ next door.  We don’t always do things perfectly.  {I’ll even share some of my mistakes I’ve made on this journey}.  But we are trying to take small steps in the right direction.  For example, my husband Scott drives a 13-year-old SUV with close to 300,000 miles.  My vehicle is a 4-year-old Dodge minivan which I plan to drive until it dies.   In addition, for two years we lived in a 950-square foot home with two kids and two dogs.

For everyone,  the definition of SaCriFiCe is different, but for everyone AcTiOn is required.  Just as we talk about losing weight, exercising more, or being a better parent/spouse, inaction is inertia; and inertia makes sacrifice just another good InTeNtIoN.

Here’s wishing you success in overcoming inertia….that difficult first step.  BoN VoYaGe!

:)

Robynn~

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Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

{Subscribers–if your email link did not work today, we apologize.  Tomorrow it should be back up and running!}

Our family is planning a BiG trip to Disneyworld this summer!  It will be the first visit for both of my children and we can’t wait to see the excitement on their faces as they meet their favorites…Tinkerbell and Mickey Mouse!  With a big trip like this comes a BIG price tag.  I don’t want my kids thinking you show up to Disneyworld and say, “HeRe I Am!”  I want them to understand that our family has worked hard to save and plan for such a special trip.

Like many kids, mine have so many toys they don’t know which one to play with first.  For upcoming holidays and birthdays I have asked my family to give my children Disney gift cards instead of toys.  I bought each of them a small Disney sandwhich keeper at my local dollar store and my kids now use them to save all of their “DiSNeY MoNeY.”  Between Halloween and Thanksgiving they already have a nice collection of gift cards from family and any money they got from trick-or-treating went into their sandwich keepers too.

We’ve been discussing different things they can use their “Disney money” on when go on our trip such as souveniers, special snacks, extra activites, etc.  As young as my children are they are really understanding why they are saving their “Disney money” and it makes me happy to know that they are learning such a ValUAbLe lesson so early in life!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Change Your Family Tree

If you could cHanGe an area in your LiFe, what would it be?   Would it be your bad temper, financial decisions, work ethic, eating habits, etc.?

I listen to a radio talk show that occasionally talks about “changing your family tree”.   I’ve always loved this concept because we all have areas in our life that we would want to iMproVe or change.  The good news is that we have the power to do something about it!

If you feel like you are in a rut or don’t like the diRectioN your life is headed, take heart!  Make a diFFereNce for generations to come and begin working on your improving your family tree today!

~Lara

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“Broke” Was My Goal

After I graduated from college I had difficulty finding a job so I did what most college graduates do, I got a job in a completely unrelated field than my major.  In my case, it was waiting tables.  I remember my first day on the job thinking, “I got a college degree and now I am going to be a waitress for the rest of my life!”  This was a discouraging and disappointing time in my life.  To make matters worse I had three maxed credit cards, student loans that were coming due and was barely scraping by each month.  I remember having no money at all except maybe a little change in my apron from work.  When I needed to mail a bill I would have to go to the post office to BuY oNe StAmP for that bill because I could not afford the $5 or so to buy a book of stamps.   

Needless to say, I had tremendous financial pressure.  It felt like a belt was around my neck and cinched so tight I could hardly breathe.  Who would have thought that being broke could have been a GoaL?  At that point I would have been thrilled to have no money and no debt.  But instead I was thousands of dollars in debt.

Fast forward to a few years later when I landed my first teaching job.  It was at this point that I made the conscious effort to be a GoOd StEwArD of my money and get out of debt.  At first that belt around my neck was still cinched tight, but with every step I took towards financial freedom I found that belt loosening.  It took year after year of making wise financial decisions before I saw significant changes in my finances, but with my commitment and diligence I made continual progress.

How did I whittle down my debt?  Here’s what I did:

1.) I ReFuSeD tO qUiT regardless how small the changes were.

As a teacher, I received a paycheck once a month.  I would pay my bills at one sitting and whatever was left in my checking account was what I had to spend for the entire month.  This amount for me usually was around $75-$100.  Out of this money I had to buy food, gas, oil changes, toiletries, clothes, etc.  I remember once having two luxury items I really wanted but could not afford to buy immediately:  a $20 candle and a $20 garden hose holder.  Both of these items I had to wait to buy until I had money saved up.  I didn’t just live like this for a few months or a year or so.  It was a few years, but I refused to be discouraged and give up.

2.) I was a GeNeRoUs GiVeR. 

The Bible says that whatever you sow you reap and with the measure you give to others it will be given to you.  The first portion of my paycheck (tithe) I gave to my church.  I also gave money to good causes.  As a result I saw God blessed me richly.  Someone gave me a lawnmower. I bought a piano for $100. Good deals and bargains seemed to find me.  Speaking of this . . .    

3.) I became a BaRgAiN sHoPpEr. 

I shopped at stores such as Marshalls and T.J. Max’s where I would find brand name clothes at a fraction of the cost.

4.) I WoRkEd My TaiL Off!!!

My school district would give teachers opportunities to work on projects during the school year and during the summer which I would sign up for.   I also taught night school, gave up my planning period to teach at our alternative school, coached, wrote curriculum, and taught summer school.

5.) I began SaViNg for my ReTiRmEnT.

To be perfectly honest, the amount of money I was saving up was very insignificant, but it was the best I could do and so I did it. 

When I finally got married after six years of teaching I had for the most part paid off all three credit cards and my car!!  It was such a great sense of accomplishment.

Yes, those days were lean, but they also developed much character in me.  I learned a lot of lessons about life.  One lesson I learned was being content.  I learned that I could absolutely love my life and yet not have many material possessions.  I was truly happy and I felt blessed.

If you are where I was at in my days of financial chaos and have a belt cinched tight around your neck, take one step towards financial freedom.  I promise as you do, your belt will loosen and little by little you will move toward financial freedom as well. 

~Robynn

P.S.  Want to read more about Financial Peace?  Check out DaVe RaMsEy’S book “Total Money Make Over”.

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Goodbye Joneses! Hello Freedom!

So here’s the truth: I have never considered myself to be a very good writer.  When I first started blogging (1 month ago!) it was easy to give up b/c of the following thoughts:  What if people think my posts are horrible?  What if someone thinks I’m not very SmArT?  What if people look at my pictures and think I’ve gained weight since they saw me last? Writing is a bit out of my CoMFOrT zone, BUT I’m never going to be a good writer unless I work at it and have someone critique me.  Society influences makes us think we need to be perfect.  The thing is, look how many of these thoughts keep us from doing what we really want to do?

Yesterday I wrote about living on a budget.  For a moment you may have considered taking a deeper look at your own finances.  Then, after a few minutes, you talked yourself out of it b/c your thoughts sounded something like this: “What if I traded in my new car for something older and used that money to pay off my credit cards?  Forget it…I can’t bear to look silly driving a car that is more than 5 years old!”  We’ve talked a lot about ‘what would you do if you knew you could not fail?’  So many of the reasons why we never attempt to answer that question is because we are so worried about what everyone else thinks. The thing is, what does it really matter what others think?  Can you really call the people who don’t support you “F R I E N D S“?  Why surround yourself with people that aren’t going to encourage and support you in doing what is best for YOU?  This is YOUR LIFE. You have the power to choose how you want to live it.  Don’t give in to society.  Follow what is in your heart.

So whatever life change you want to make (drastic or not), remind yourself of WHY you are doing it.  Don’t live in misery b/c of what you think everyone else thinks! Don’t limit yourself on the things you want to accomplish b/c the Joneses are standing on your doorstep. I’ve been there too.  It’s okay.  It’s normal.  Acknowledge  this challenge and ChAnGe your way of thinking to take control of your life.  Focus on what is going to bring peace and happiness in YOUR life regardless of what the Joneses think.  Get excited about feeling F R E E and the rest will come.  Trust me. :)

~L

*By the way, this is a  picture of me and my daughter taken by my husband this evening  :)

F R E E D O M is F U N!

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