Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tricks of the Save

Ok so saving money tricks is one of my favorite topics! I talk a lot about it lately with other women and of course with my husband as we have now celebrated the accomplishment of 8 years of HARD and focused work!

8 years ago, my husband & I took financial counseling at Saddleback in Orange County when we were first married. We started our marriage with over a combined $80k in debt from from both college & business loans that we were locked in to but that we wanted to be free of to achieve our goals. 

Our family goals included 
1. Buying a home
2. Traveling
3. When we had kids, that I could be a stay at home mom

In the early years, my husband made about $15 and hour and I made $13. We were living on the pennies left over from car payments, student loan payments, and business credit card debt. In our first apartment, we had all hand-me-down furniture that included a lovely set of christmas colored chairs & an ornate glass dining table. We didn't have a couch or living room furniture aside from a television that didn't even have cable and an ikea coffee table. But in it's own right, it was the magic of starting off.

So, we pursued change!

Between the financial tools that Saddleback gave us together & the classes Christan took with the Dave Ramsey plan, we kicked out all debt about four years ago. That makes it sound easy, but it wasn't. It included
PAYING a car dealership to take back one of our cars, carpooling, doubling up credit card payments, doubling up student loan payments, knocking out debt one debt at a time until 1 year ago we were entirely debt free. It included other sacrifices like not having cable {which we still don't have}.

If we HADN'T done this, two years ago when we BOTH lost our jobs we would have lost our home. As it was, we had no car payments and no pending debt we owed on. We had an emergency savings account we had poured into at Dave Ramsey's teaching and it "paid" for one of the hardest years of our life where we DID have to sell our home and move out of state to find work. However, today, after just celebrating a year of employment we have accomplished remaining DEBT FREE, buying a new home, and owning two new cars. It's HUGE for us. 

How do we do it now?

-We are on a cash only system. With each pay period I pull out our cash for things like Groceries, Gas, Clothes, Dates, Babysitting & Gifts. I have all of our cash organized in a coupon filer. When the cash is gone, we don't spend. 

-We have an amazing budgeting tool we were gifted from Saddleback that we use to help us figure out where the money goes and how much we have for the necessities as well as the fun. 

-We have a spreadsheet that shows which bills fall into which pay period so I know exactly what goes out and when it goes out by week. 

Other Savings Tricks

Every morning I do 3 things:
1. Load coupons to my Freddy's card. The coupons I load to my grocery shopping rewards card are automatically deducted at check out + they let me print my coupon/shopping list to help.

2. Check couponpro 

​3. Check groupon & living social for family activities & restaurant deals  (the reality is we WILL use them at some point and we LOVE adventure so we budget for it and pre-plan for it. My motto is without a plan both time and money are wasted)

I also....
1. Do a lot of online shopping in order to save! I use ebates to shop because they give me quarterly cash back kick backs for just linking my shopping through them & retailmenot to always check from promo codes before I check out.

2. Use my YELP app wherever I go! There are often check in incentives like a free drink, 10% off, etc.

3. Use Target's Cartwheel App + the Shopkick app when I'm at Target because I save a lot

4. I always plan ahead - if something is one sale and I know we use it, I buy it {clothes, gift cards through Freddys, cleaning supplies}. I keep a back stock so nothing is ever an urgent purchase.

5. I recycle. We often have soda cans and water bottles in stock so as we drink I save them and I take them to Costco or the local grocery store to recycle. It's worth the couple dollars I get back from that for me me to put towards my groceries.

6. I Christmas shop & Birthday shop all year long. I keep the gifts in my closet so it spreads out the financial "burden" of gifting {which I love to give gifts}

In the end
Saving is a way of life for me. 
I value it & it IS my job. 
My husband has asked me to track how much I save and when I save so we can truly understand the income I currently make with the hard work that goes into PLANNING, RESEARCH, & SAVING.

I am tremendously GRATEFUL that we have taken the lessons we learned early on seriously. There were times we felt desolate and utterly discouraged as we looked at other people and what they had. What we have experienced in the last year as a result of YEARS working to better our financial situation, however, is irreplaceable. I don't see what we don't have. I see what we DO.
We live on one income, I am home with my kids, we LIVE life & I LOVE that! It's worth all my time learning and saving.

What are some of your tricks??

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Heat, Heat, Go Away

I spent another evening, night, and now this morning deep in thought.
I've been chastising my self for how I was made; that I was made to love cool, calm climates & detest the heat.
I get that this must sound ridiculous, but I feel this ache in me today that I quite seriously wilt in personality & capability to function when the temperature is above 80.

My best friend loves when it's 75 degrees at a minimum.
I LOVE when it's 65 degrees at a maximum.
We have always made jokes about it.

Yes, I am a California girl
I'm a California Coast girl which means that 75 is often breezy but mostly, the weather is cool, calm, and collected 365 days a year.

When we moved to Oregon, I worshiped the rain.
I was vocal about my love of the grey skies and surprised to find that "the overwhelming amount of rain" was really all hype because it's not that bad.... for ME.

Last night we went to family camp at church.
It's not a spend-the-night camp, but just an evening to interact and be intentional with the kids.

For weeks I have been anticipating this event.
Not like, "oh yay I'm so excited!" but like, "oh my gosh! I just don't know if I can DO this!"

It's ok if you're rolling your eyes
I read that and I think, "Duh-RAMA!"
But here's the thing,
I know my self.

Ever since I was young, the heat evaporates who I am.

And last night, I felt truly ashamed by that truth.

Internally I was telling myself how ridiculous I was & I walked away feeling like the worst mom, wife, and church member.  No one said anything to make me feel that way! I just DID.

I found myself wanting to apologize for who I was that evening and explain, God just didn't make me for heat.

But is that real?

Did God not make me for the heat?

I don't know if I buy that.

I just know that the Allegra you get if we're in a coffee shop is ME and who I am if we're outside and I'm sweating is like meeting three-year old me (at BEST).

So if God made us uniquely with gifts or passions for varying things like communicating, art, hiking, gardening, writing, or public speaking, could He also make us uniquely made for climates that bring out the best or worst in our human spirits?

I'm feeling silly for feeling crummy about who I am today....


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

high dives and puddle jumps

This is one of those posts where I feel like it could rub people the wrong way. One that puts my heart out there to potentially be cracked, but I feel it churning and when that happens, it has to come out with all of it's truth & good intention.

My son is turning three.
It's the age old tale for me of making sure everyone is included, no one is left out, and most of all my children only know love.
The tale is a twisted one with bumps and bruises from falls {high dives and puddle jumps} but it all comes down to divorce.

My parents couldn't be more opposite people, both amazing in their own right of being, but oil and vinegar always separate even IF you shake them up for a bit.

I remember when my first son was coming into the world - I worried not only about my in laws but my two sets of parents. Managing expectations and taking personal responsibility for the emotion management of others is something I can't seem to grow out of. I wear it like the five extra pounds I want to shed but can't quite commit to working off. So the burden sits there, like a noose.

Six years of grandchildren's' birthdays later, I still become achingly aware of the crevice of pain that IS my family. Not my husband's or my children's', but my past that always comes knocking. While I have learned to navigate through it, there is still a five year old girl in me who never gets used to watching her mommy & daddy hate each other.

Most of my life, I've lived near with or near my mom.
31 years of it actually.
For one year, I've lived near my dad.
Growing our friendship, sharing the ins and outs of the little things vs. one week a year relational saturation.
Now my mom is the visitor, the the home field belongs to my dad.
I am the field manager.
I am acutely aware of the precautions that need to be established, the traffic signs that need to be put up to avoid any encounter pre-game.
This year, there isn't a party, no birth for anyone to be forced to co-mingle at the center of the field for; there's just a one sided coin toss:
mom wins one week.
see you in a bit, dad.

The pink elephant in the room LOOMS there.
We all pretend fifteen miles away is one thousand, that every day grandparent roles haven't switched, and a state line doesn't divide us.

I am five on the inside, thirty-two on the outside.
I am a mom who desperately wants my children to be protected from the bad relationships that DO exist in their extended family.
I am the mom who struggles to answer their questions: 
"Who's your mommy & who's your Daddy, mommy?"
I am the daughter who probably won't ever reconcile the pain it causes me but I will continually unload the burden on Jesus to show me how to love like a grown woman, not a hurt child.

My son is turning three.
Separate celebrations will happen because it's best for everyone involved;
But wouldn't it be amazing IF we could all lay the burden down and BE love for that little boy in one place, at one time, all together?

It would.