We’re Debt Free!

Our secret goal that we’ve been working towards!

I have to start with our backstory! This wasn’t a quick journey or one that was just started without much thought.

Rewind way back to 2005. We started our year off by having a beautiful baby boy. I had just graduated college (with some debt) and didn’t have a job. The Mr. was working and bringing in a decent income. However, we were barely making ends meet and babies are expensive.

Fast forward to the end of 2005, my beautiful and healthy 25 year old sister passed away very I expectedly. She was so close to really getting to the good part of life. She had just landed a better job. She had a great boyfriend and was starting to make some money. But, life just ended.

Still in 2005, my mom was battling 2 types of cancer, bills are crazy with those treatments and money was tight. (Hang in there, I’m getting to where our debt free journey begins, but these experiences definitely have altered my thinking.)

Moving on up 10 years. I finally heard of Dave Ramsey, money envelopes and a debt snowball. We had lots of bills and not a lot of savings. We brought our nest egg up a bit, and achieved our first big financial goal. We paid off my car!

Now we are up to March of 2015. We still have quite a mortgage and a truck payment, but the debt snowball was rolling. We tracked our money and budgeted like we should have been for a long time. And finally started writing everything down.

Our repurposed financial notebook

We started paying down the truck by making double payments (since we were used to paying the car payment, we just continued putting that amount towards the truck) and finally got that beast paid off in February of 2018. Yay! All that was left was the mortgage and the solar panels. So, we started making extra payments on the panels (we put what we used to pay for the truck and car towards the panels) and by May 2019, those were paid for!

And last, but not least is the house. We had been putting any extra money that we had towards the mortgage. It had been getting paid down a little at a time. From May until now, we have been paying every extra bit towards the house. And here we are in February of 2019, and we just paid off the house.

Here we are in 2019 debt free. I’m not even 40 yet, so now I question how much longer I will continue to work. I enjoy teaching, but I also enjoy spending lots of time with family, sewing, growing food and spreading my love for the environment.

I’ll end by saying that I didn’t share our story to be braggers. We live in a much different way than most. We don’t drive new cars, have the newest of anything, eat out often, live in a high end neighborhood or go on amazing vacations. I’m proud that we decided to achieve this before we were old.

The take away is that anyone can do this with time and dedication. Your journey might be longer or shorter. I acknowledge that we are blessed with good jobs (teacher and trooper), but we did not come from money. We are very proud of our accomplishment!

Keep blooming friends! 🌸❤️

Becoming debt free!

Oh goodness, I’m blogging about money. So taboo for some reason! But, here goes!

Remember how last year we focused on not spending? We did a good job of keeping our debt snowball rolling. Well, rewind back to March of 2015, I would have laughed if you told me that I could be anywhere near debt free (including our mortgage!) by 2020. But we did the best first step of sitting down and writing out our bills and where our money went back then. So basically before this time, we paid our bills in a timely manner. But, we didn’t have a whole lot extra and made minimal payments.

We found out how much those quick trips to dollar general or a “run” into the grocery store were really costing us. We saw how much money we spent on eating out and buying soda. It was crazy! So, we starting slowly working on our debt. We paid off our car. Then, we worked on both of our orthodontics. Next up was paying off the truck.

This year, we are going to be attempting to pay off the rest of the loan for our solar panels and we will be doing extra patents to hopefully pay off the house.

So now on with the how. We did the smart thing of when we pay off one debt, we put that amount onto the next debt to pay it off sooner. And then on to the next. And last will be the mortgage. We will also:

Keep crafting and putting the money that we make towards our debts

Continue to pack our lunches and have no problem with eating leftovers.

Make our own snacks and avoid visiting the grocery store to pick up extras. (And make our own meals too!)

We will keep gardening and saving money by saving our own seeds.

We will keep growing our own food to save a few bucks in the summer. Plus preserve the rest for decent food in the winter.

We will keep composting and feeding extras to our chickens to give us extra food for the garden and yummy eggs for us!

We will also try to buy second hand when possible. Plus, fixing, mending and upcycling when possible.

So, do you have goals when it comes to your finances? If not, pull out those bills, take a deep breath and find out where your money is going!

And if you do have some goals, or other ways of saving, please share!

The strange statement that I always get: Your poor husband!

You read that title correctly! I get told the same very strange statement all of the time! “Your Poor Husband!!” This is usually in response to me telling people what we do a little differently at home! Here are a few examples:

  • You don’t go out to eat?!?! Your poor family! But when we do go out, it’s like a nice surprise! When things are rare, they are that much more special! Plus, we put all that extra money saved towards being able to go on trips and spend more time together! So, definitely not poor Mr!
  • You can’t just throw everything away?! Your wife gets upset when she finds recycling in the garbage?! Well, I’d rather things like plastic bottles not come in the house, but if they do, just recycle them. And yes, I am usually the one that takes the recycling to our center! So, not poor Mr! I take care of it!
  • You help your wife till the garden and put in the fencing?! It’s true! He does and it is a lot if work! But, I do an equal amount of work, and I share all of those delicious fruits and veggies with him! So, not poor Mr!

  • You have to help your wife pick up pumpkins and other compostables?! He does help me pick up about half of them! And I’m very thankful for his help! All of those will become plant food which equals more produce for our bellies! So, not poor Mr!

  • You really have to compost all that food stuff at your house?! Yes, same as above! Our food scraps equal soil amendments, which equal more food for our family! Not poor Mr!

  • You really have to help out when it comes to canning?! He is the best at helping me use the pressure canner! And everyone knows he eats too, right?! So, delicious food in the winter! Nope, not poor Mr!

  • You just don’t go out and buy new things all of the time?! Oh this one!! I do not tell him what he can and can’t buy. We are a team and together we are trying to become debt free! He has helped to fix lots around here and is ridiculously handy!! So, not poor either of us!

  • You are the beekeeper?! I figured your husband did all of the beekeeping?! But you do help your wife? Poor you! It’s the strangest look that I get when I say that I’m the one who keeps bees. Weird. But yes, he helps me spin honey and carry super heavy honey filled boxes. He also eats the honey and eats baked goods made from that honey! If you tasted our honey, you wouldn’t think poor Mr!

We are a dynamic duo! While I know that I am very driven to make the world a greener place, I would never make someone do anything that is out of their comfort zone. He is totally on board with our journey and often chuckles when I start a sentence with “hey, I have an idea…”

You don’t stay married these days for 15 years when you are not moving along life in the same path! Thank you Mr. for helping my dreams come true and for always embracing my crazy ideas! You are the best of the best!

No Spend Year November Update

It turns out that not spending money blows people’s minds. They have no idea how staying home, making meals here and avoiding purchases would be possible. But, here we are, chilling out the house, shopping thrift stores and very rarely eating out. Recently I had to go to Kohl’s to buy my long legged 13 year old dress pants and we both did not enjoy shopping. It was foreign to us, but I had a gift card to use on those pants! And, they cost us $0 using that gift card!

So, we have been spending some money on our crafting. I’ve been using what I already have, but also creating new things like our honey suckers. It allows us to give lots of Christmas presents that are homemade and make money on the extras! I can use some of that earned money on the few gifts that we are purchasing!

Other than spending lots of time crafting, I have also been composting pumpkins like it’s my job! Why?! Because this will become garden food for the gardens and will help us produce lots of food! So, that’s well worth our time!

I unfortunately ripped a huge hole in my favorite jeans when picking up pumpkins. I’m going to do my best to find a pair second hand, but at least I have a second backup pair. And, I’m going to try to fix my original pair!

And checkout this awesome vest that was on the free table at school! I love finds like this:

Although the picture below looks like I eat alone, that never happens. I just took the picture before anyone joined me! But anyway, packing a lunch saves a ton of money! Plus, I swear leftovers taste better the next day!

This year for Christmas we are focusing on spending time with people instead of overspending. I love that my parents and brother don’t have to stress about buying gifts for each other. We get the kids something practical and spend more time together!

And, we decided to not buy wrapping paper and have been using my parent’s newspaper instead! And it can even be recycled afterwards!

We are slowly paying off our solar panel loan and our mortgage might just be paid off in less than 2 years! I can’t even imagine being debt free by 40, but it might just happen!

Do you have some financial goals? We started with paying off small debts and working that debt snowball towards our larger debts. Don’t let a setback make you give up! Keep pushing forward!

No Spend Year October Update

October was another month of working on our finances and we are also focusing on paying off those solar panels!

A few things that we sprung for were eating out once during a day off together. That was nice!! Turns out you really enjoy those experiences when they are more rare! And I found a nice pair of work pants at a thrift store for $1! Such a great deal!

We try to save where we can. As a gardener, learning how to save seeds is a way to save a ton of money for the next growing season. I have been saving everything that I can and I’m going to only have to buy a minimal amount of seeds for the next growing season!

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Some of the flower seeds that I saved

We also save about $15 a month by not having a trash service. We have only produced 4 bags this year, so that means I would have been paying almost $40 for each bag to be thrown away. Instead I have the option to drop them off myself for next to nothing.

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Less trash, more money

We also have been working on our crafting/Blacksmithing and making a few bucks on our creations. It’s nice to have hobbies that pay you back!

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Our craft display 

Another great way to save some money is to be a fixer! I know people throw out a lot, instead of just fixing it! The arm on our couch just needed a needle and thread!

Right now we are also shopping around for new insurance and comparing prices. When we are both driving paid off vehicles and have luckily not been in accidents in a while, it seems like we are paying a crazy premium!

Next up is trying to take it easy on our finances while the holiday season is upon us! We already have some ideas for family members, but I still wish that we could just enjoy spending time together! I just can’t stand buying literally junk. Ugh! (Not for my kid, other family members!)

Does anyone have some insight on how to avoid buying so much ridiculousness during the holidays? Thanks for any ideas!

 

No Spend September Update

This no spend year has been much harder on the Mr., instead of myself. He’s is the spender and I am the saver. I was so proud of him for not buying me expensive stuff for my birthday! He even reused a gift bag that I had saved! ❤️

As a gift, I got a grab bag of seeds, compost thermometer and a new pair of sanuks, since mine were getting holes. (Btw, MIgardener has these grab bags for only $10!) Phenomenal deal!

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30 seed packs picked at random! 💚

I also decorated the house for Fall with what I grew. Everything is from the garden and I spent a whopping nothing!

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Our beautiful glass gem corn!

I have also been saving lots of seeds, so that I don’t have to buy more next year! So far I have put up several types of beans, dill, cosmos, ground cherries and I’m working on fermenting cucamelon seeds.

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Cosmos seeds

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We saved the Paw Paw seeds from our hike

Speaking of hike, we enjoyed going out to a local trail. We stopped at a comic book store that my boy loves along the way. So, it was a great family day!

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Beautiful hike

I also enjoyed raising some monarchs that were on the milkweed! It was free to do and so much fun! The whole family enjoyed searching for the tiny caterpillars on our plants!

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One of our handraised beauties

We were able to start paying more on the house since I am back to work and are planning on becoming debt free in less than 5 years, pending health and staying accident free! Keep pushing on and thinking twice before buying those wants!

Does anyone else have some tips for saving more? Please share in the commmebts! 😊

No Spend August Update

How in the world have I not gotten around to updating about our no spend year? Well, the main reason is that it has just started to become a norm for us. And, I can officially say that we made it through the summer without dipping into the savings. That’s a first! Getting a paycheck was sooo nice!

Since the school year started, we really didn’t buy much for the beginning of the year. The only things that the boy needed for school were a new pair of shoes (which we do splurge for since that is all that he actually cares about), and a binder. As for me, I only bought a new pair of sandals, because mine completely broke! However, I had a gift card and got a great deal!

In August, we went on an end of the summer getaway. We took the camper and the pups and headed to the Chesapeake Bay to enjoy a beautiful weekend. We used our KOA rewards card (from our camping trip this summer) and saved some money and packed all of our own meals. So, lots of savings!

Camping at the bay

We have also been harvesting lots more from the garden. The boy and I have had way too much salsa in the past month, but we still had more last night! I know that technically it doesn’t save us money, if I calculate in how much time and effort I put into it. However, since I love gardening, that also gives me a free workout and yummy food!

Haul from the garden

Another way that we save money is finding things around here that we enjoy doing that don’t involve leaving the house. Have I mentioned before that I don’t really like going out in public? It’s not the people, it’s just that I have talked all day to little people and I just want to stay home and relax. So, one thing that I have loved doing here lately is raising the monarch caterpillars that are on my milkweed. I collect the little caterpillars and feed them and keep them safe until they come out of their chrysalis and then release them to nature. It is fun for me! Heck, I even have the rest of my family looking for the tiny creatures.

Handsome male monarch

The composting service that we provide for 12 families has been a nice addition to the food for the chickens. They love the extra fruits and veggies and also kicking around in the compost looking for bugs. Double win!

Squash for the chickens

The garden produced so many tomatoes this year! I have sold some, given some away, chopped them for salsa and this weekend I have canned a lot of them for ketchup and pizza sauce. They will give us some delicious fresh food in the winter!

Ketchup from our tomatoes!

I was also able to put up some zucchini for future zucchini cake this winter and took a few pie pumpkins that we grew and turned them into a yummy pumpkin pie. The boys said that it was delicious.

Homemade pumpkin pie!

It’s so weird how you just get used to not really spending money. I won’t lie and say that we haven’t had any take out this year, but it has been a very rare occurrence! My husband and I have been packing a lot more for lunch and eating up the leftovers more often. So, that cuts back on waste more too. This year of saving has made us realize how wasteful that we can be.

I really am hoping that we can continue to find more ways to save, and would love to hear what else that you all do! Any tips that we can try in September?

Keep blooming friends!

No Spend July Update!

July used to be a tough month for us, since I don’t get a paycheck from June until September. (Teacher problems!) We normally had to dip pretty heavily into the savings. However, we haven’t touched it yet!

I was able to score a brand new pair of shorts from the goodwill for a whopping $4. Since my sandals broke, I was able to use the remainder of a gift card and only owed $5!

We have also been selling off our extra produce and we will be putting that money towards seeds for next year!

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I have awesome neighbors and friends! 

I have also been able to make lots of food from scratch with the ingredients from the garden: salsa, dill fridge pickles, salads, tomato sauce… and that means fewer trips to the grocery store!

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Grateful for a bumper crop!

And we have even been able to put up some for winter! (Which will save me money eventually!)

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Green beans for winter! 

To keep the garden cart sales rolling, I have started my fall garden seedlings! It looks like there will be more beans, spinach, lettuce and kale!

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They have tripled in size since this picture! 

Instead of spending tons of money with entertainment, we spend the days relaxing, walking/working in the garden and my favorite, hammocking with my Sherman!

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His favorite hobby is relaxing! 

I am hoping to be able to stay away from the savings in August too, which is hard with back to school time. I don’t need anything new and the boy only needs new shoes and basic school supplies. And no, I don’t think a kid needs a whole new wardrobe because it’s the start of another school year!

So, how has your budgeting been going? Are you paying anything off, or have some major financial goals? Whatever you do, keep blooming! 🌱❤️

No Spend Year June Update!

I’ll start off with how we were able to go on such a nice trip this summer, while saving money.

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1. We haven’t been on a big vacation in 3 years. Only little weekend trips. (But still very fun!)

2. We camped all along the way in the camper that we could double our money on, if we sold it today. (Because we upgraded it so much!)

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3. We saved up all year to make sure that we wouldn’t have to dip into our savings for our trip! (By choosing to not eat out, buy things that we don’t need and limiting our spending for the holidays!)

4. We rarely ate out. Because we were camping, we made a majority of our meals in the camper. It was so nice having that stove and our fridge!

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Burgers for dinner! 

And remember the adorable toaster oven/griddle/coffee maker combo for the camper?

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This beauty?!

It was amazing! We were able to have morning coffee from our campsite and… the thing holds a freezer pizza perfectly!

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15 minutes in the toaster over for perfection! 

It was so nice to be able to have some of my boy’s favorite food available for him without ordering out! We ❤️❤️❤️ That toaster over! (We got it on amazon FYI!)

5. We were not big souvenir buyers. The boy and I got a shirt and we took lots of photos that I will be turning into a scrapbook at some point.

Now on to the rest of the month! We have been working really hard at paying down the house! And we are down below the next $10k! We enjoy seeing that number fall!

We also have been eating more from the garden and saving up on our grocery bills. Since I love gardening, it’s a win-win!

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We had fried zucchini and zucchini cake! 

We have also sold a bit of our produce and will use that money to buy plants and garden supplies next year!

June was really a blur, due to school finishing and our trip all at one time! The summer is a time for us to focus on saving (since I don’t get paid again until September!) I’m looking into more ways to save, and would love hearing any suggestions! Thanks for reading along and keep blooming! 🌱💚

No Spend May

Last month was almost a complete fail in the whole no spending. My Mr. has had his heart set on needing a new tractor. We didn’t have one at the moment, so tilling the big garden is a lot of work. On top of that, digging holes, loading up heavy things and running mulch is always a task. So, he bought a new tractor. But, he has been selling off a ton of extras including: his 4 wheeler, the Panel truck, an old jeep, accessories for the jeep and Panel truck, and other things. The garage is a lot cleaner, and we also didn’t have to pay too much more for the tractor. So, no payments or credit card purchases!

A huge accomplishment this month is that I am now payment free on my braces! My teeth are straight and my retainers come next month! Yay!

A reader on my Facebook page keeps some feral cats warm in the winter by creating wind breaks with straw bales. However, after a long winter, they were not in the best shape. She got ahold of me and I gladly took them to mulch around the garden! Yippee!

The garden is all planted and I’m pretty excited to say that most of the plants look very happy and healthy! Starting everything from seed is a lot of work, but it does save money!

I’m still working on making more food from scratch at the house. Just last weekend the Mr. was frustrated because he claimed that we didn’t have anything to snack on. An hour later we have some super delicious homemade soft pretzels. Getting out of the habit of wanting instant food is hard. I’ll start trying to make more ahead of time. (Once my summer break starts!)

The garden is slowly starting to produce. That will help to take a small chunk out of our market budget!

And this has been my go to spot for relaxing when I get the chance. I love being home and most of the time at least one dog is curled up on the hammock with me. And that’s free entertainment. 😊

May wasn’t perfect, but the savings is continuing to grow. The house is getting paid off faster and faster. And, I’m hoping to continue working on spending less this year!