April End of Month Review

April Goals

  • Pay off the 5th credit card on the list
  • Pay $1,000 on the 6th credit card on the list
  • Continue with the Konmari Method
  • Do a Pantry Challenge

I can’t believe it’s already the end of April! Seriously, where does the time go? We have been continuing to work hard toward our goals this month and the time just flew by. Our first goal was to pay off the 5th credit card on the list. It had a balance of $798. We completely paid it off early in the month. Our second goal was to pay $1,000 on the 6th credit card on the list. It took a little hustle but we managed to pay $1,391.69.

We continued with our decluttering. We have been working our way through all the paper clutter in our house. There is actually way more than I originally thought. We have been plugging away at it. I am going through boxes that have been being stored in closets too. That has caused the paper pile to grow. I have been keeping it all in a crate as I work my way through it. I have also taken some steps to lessen the amount of mail coming in. I have switched as many things as possible to emailed statements/bills. I put any paper bills I need in the front pocket of my planner until I pay them and get rid of them as soon as I do. I have also been working on decluttering more areas. We recently went through all of the art/craft supplies and did the first pass on the kids’ toys. The closet we keep all of our art/craft supplies, board games, and our toy rotation bins is the cleanest it has been in a very long time. As a result, Isabella has been doing more craft projects and using more of the available supplies. We bought the stuff to keep them busy and for them to do more educational projects but the stuff just sat there before. It was such a pain to find things in the messy closet that my girls would just give up before they ever got started.

We are still working on the pantry challenge. It saved us about $200 in April. The goal is to completely empty our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. I take stock of everything we have when figuring out our weekly meal plan & grocery list. The point of this is to do a spring clean of everything so we know things are not going bad, use up the items that have been hanging out for some time, and help us to keep our pantry more organized going forward.

We are finalizing our May goals and I will be posting them soon.

How We Are Getting Out of Debt and You Can Too

We have been working on getting out of debt. These are the steps that we have been following on our debt free journey. If we can do this, you can too.

Step 1: Figure Out How Much You Owe and Who You Owe 

Sit down with pen and paper. Write down every single debt and every single monthly bill. This may take ages. It took me about an hour a day for a week to collect up everything and make sense of it. I wrote down who we owed, how much the debt was, how much the monthly payment was, the interest rate, the expected payoff date, and what day of the month the payment was due. For household bills (electric, water, etc) I wrote what the bill was for, the monthly due date, the average monthly bill, and the highest the bill had been in the last year. This step is super important. Don’t guess how much you owe. Do the hard work and gather the information. Make sure you get everything no matter how small. Include how much you spend on groceries each week. After getting together our debts, I used our bank and credit card statements to see what we were spending money on over the course of the last year.

Step 2: Organize Your Information and Make a Plan

After I finished gathering information, I made three lists. The first list was a list of debts in order from lowest to highest amount owed. Then I separated out our debts into categories based on types of debt and interest rates. This helped us to decide on a payoff plan. If you skip this, you will regret it. You need a plan in order to make the most of your money and time. We decided on a system based on the debt snowball and taking interest into account. We chose to pay off our credit cards and a personal loan first. This will be followed by our student loans because the interest rate is lower on them. This broke our debt into two pieces. We are still paying them off in order from lowest to highest balance within those sections. We had a couple unusual debts that we chose to move up the list when we made our final plan. We had credit cards that had 0% interest that we wanted to pay-off sooner so that we knew they were paid off before the interest hit. The personal loan was the debt that annoyed me most so we paid it off sooner. It also had a higher monthly payment which rapidly expanded our debt snowball. I used all of this information to set up our debt binder which I will be sharing in a future post.

The second was a list of our monthly bills including debt payments in order of due date starting at the beginning of the month. I used this and the month layout of my planner to finally get my crap together. This step only took a few hours. Our bills are now organized until the end of the year so we’ll never have a late payment and our debt binder helps to keep us on track with the overall plan.

The third list was a list of things that we could give up or cut back on to save money on those monthly bills. Any payment that we were paying prior to this process that we were able to get rid of became part of our debt snowball. This list grows everytime we pay something off or discover another way to save a few dollars. We set a weekly grocery budget. If we are under budget, that money goes towards the debt we are currently working toward paying off. We ate out a lot before beginning this journey. I was shocked when I added up what we spent at restaurants over the previous year. We now save a ton of money cooking at home and planning ahead for busy nights.

Step 3 – Work the Process

You have done the hard work of gathering the information and setting up the process. This step is a different kind of hard work. We are currently at this stage in our plan. This is where things get real. You have to change your habits. You have to make the sacrifices. It is exhausting to work the process that looked so simple on paper. Keep looking for inspiration to help keep you going. It is hard to keep the momentum going. Watch or read things about finance and getting out of debt. I love listening to the debt-free screams on Dave Ramsey. Celebrate along the way to keep yourself motivated on your debt-free journey. Plan ways that you are going to celebrate after hitting your goals. Make your favorite dinner. Take your kids out for donuts. Bake a cake. Treat yourself to a new lipstick. Go out for a drink with friends. Whatever it is that will help you to dig a little deeper and keep working a little longer without breaking the bank.

Those are the steps we are currently taking during our debt-free journey. We would love to have you along for the ride. If you have any questions or suggestions, drop us a comment below.

5 Things you can do today for Free…that you’re future self will thank you for

You can do so many things today that your future self will thank you for. Some of these things are completely free. We are currently on our debt-free journey and I have been astounded by the number of things I have been able to accomplish without spending a dime. This is a list of the things that are a good starting point and I felt had the most positive impact.

  1. Set Up Your Budget – Many people do not have a budget. Many people do not understand budgeting at all. There are so many resources available for free online to learn about budgeting. There are free apps if you prefer to do it that way. EveryDollar is really good and easy to use. Having a budget helps you to save money, pay your bills in a timely manner, and work toward your goals. The best part of setting up a budget is that it will make every month easier forever if you simply continue with it. Once you have your base budget you only need to update it every month. If you take the time to set up a good budget it will take very minimal effort to continue with it. You will be thanking yourself for this every month for years to come.
  2. Declutter – It doesn’t matter if it’s a drawer, a closet, or your whole house, it will make a difference. Clearing out the junk is something that will make you happy in the future because you will not have to continue to deal with the clutter.
  3. Life plan/5 year plan – Take some time to figure out what it is that you really want. Take at least a few hours if not the whole day. Turn off all the distractions so you can actually hear your inner voice. So often we are simply following the path laid before us without deciding if it is the path we want to spend our lives walking. Make a list of things that you would be the most disappointed not to accomplish during your lifetime. This is different than a list of things that you want to do. We all have a crazy amount of things that we want and being bombarded with advertising our whole lives only makes our list longer. Really narrow down your list and you will start to notice that your list has an overall theme. Is it security you are looking for? Do you want to retire a millionaire? Are you hoping to raise your kids and grow old in the same home? Do you want to travel the world? Hoping to finish your master’s degree? Wanting to move to a certain place? Discuss lifetime goals with your significant other if you have one. That way you can figure out how their goals and yours fit together. It’s important to plan together. Once you figure out what it is that you are hoping for during your life, start planning how to achieve these goals. The biggest, craziest wishes become goals the minute you begin planning how to get there. Sometimes the wish that seemed so crazy becomes realistic when you start figuring out what steps would be needed to achieve it. You may not like all the steps to get to where you want to be but if you want to get there you will have to make some sacrifices and put in some hard work.
  4. Read a Book – Do you have a book sitting around that you have been meaning to read but never get around to reading? Do you have a list of books that you would love to read? Are there books that would help you with your job or a hobby? The book sitting there is already paid for. Read it. Want to read a book that you don’t already have? Check the library. You can also ask to borrow books from friends and family. Are you a major reader or want to read more? Consider setting up a book swap. Your future self will thank you for the knowledge and you never know when you will find yourself in a conversation where a certain book will come up. Reading helps you to become a more well-rounded person. It also keeps your mind and your imagination working.
  5. Take a free class – Does your work offer any free courses that would help you to perform better at work? Any classes at your local library that interest you? Any free online courses for things that will benefit you in some way? Our family has taken many free classes over the years. I work in healthcare at a hospital that offers many perks including free classes. My children have taken many free classes at the local libraries. The area we live has multiple county libraries and we can enjoy neighboring counties as well without driving too far. I took online classes for typing years ago and more recently have enjoyed some free courses about blogging. It is amazing what knowledge is available to you for free if you are willing to look.

Hope this list gets you started on bettering your life while paying off debt or saving money.

April Goals 2018

April Goals

  • Pay off the 5th credit card on the list
  • Pay $1,000 on the 6th credit card on the list
  • Continue with the Konmari method
  • Do a Pantry Challenge

We started working on the 5th credit card on our list at the end of March. We will be paying off the remaining $798 this month. We honestly didn’t expect to make it this far so fast! I know we can get this paid off.

We want to pay $1000 toward credit card 6. This is an unusual situation. We will be going out of town in June. We decided to start saving a little each week starting this month to pay for our hotel, food, gas, and anything else that comes up. We were planning to just put it into a savings account but it made more sense to pay it on a credit card so that we are not paying as much interest for a couple months. We are not counting this as paying off this card. We will count this card as paid off when we pay it off after returning from our trip. It is the 6th card on the list and we would be working on paying it off next. We will continue with the list and simply come back to this one in late June.

We love the changes we have been experiencing from implementing the Konmari method. Our house is slowly but surely improving. It becomes less cluttered with each step we take. We are currently working on decluttering toys, art supplies, games, and craft items. Michael has to finish his clothing still. We have begun going through things one closet, toy box, shelf, or drawer at a time. This will be continuing and I hope to do an update post on our progress soon.

We are planning to do a Pantry Challenge in April. This will help us with two of our goals. We will be saving money which will help us to pay more toward our financial goals. We will also be cleaning out the excess. I want to do a complete clean out of our pantry, refrigerator, cabinets, and freezer. When they are completely empty, I want to wipe everything out and start with a new organization method that will help us to keep things tidy and minimize food waste. I am planning this for either the second or third week of the month. The idea is to go as long as possible before buying anything and then plan our grocery list around the items we have on hand to finish getting rid of everything. We do something similar to this every year. It really helps to clean out all of the odd items lurking around the kitchen. I will be doing a photo update post about this challenge.

March End of Month Review

March Goals

  • Pay off our personal loan
  • Pay off the fourth credit card on the list
  • Continue the steps of the Konmari Method
  • Drink more water
  • Eat better
  • Spend time with friends and family
  • Work on this site 3 times a week

We did so well in February that we set some lofty goals in March. The first goal of the month was to pay off our personal loan which had a balance of $926. We crushed it! If we had continued to just make the monthly payments we wouldn’t have paid it off for 8 months. This one was huge for our debt snowball. The payment on this was $120 a month. This will now be going toward paying off our credit cards and eventually our student loans each month. This brought our debt snowball amount to $197 a month.

The next thing we wanted to pay off was the fourth credit card on the list. We owed $835 on it at the beginning of the month. It took a little work but we managed to pay it off completely as well. This brought our debt snowball total to $223. We were on such a roll that we immediately started working on paying off the next credit card on the list. The beginning balance was $1,445. We hustled hard and were able to pay $647 toward it. We plan to pay off the remaining $798 in April. I’m shocked that we were able to pay off $2408 in debt in March!

We are working on decluttering our home using the Konmari method. I really enjoyed the book “The life-changing magic of tidying up.” This month we have gone through Ivy’s and my clothing. I will be writing a post about this as soon as we finish with Michael’s clothing. He has been working a ton lately and hasn’t had time to do it. We have started with the paper portion. We have gotten rid of 9 bags of clothing and 3 small bags of paper so far.

I have been drinking much more water and much less soda. The budget-friendly, healthy eating has been going well. We are really working hard to eat well without breaking our weekly food budget. We are eating many more fruits and vegetables. We have eaten much less meat and junk food over the last month. I have been making our weekly meal plan based on which produce is in season and cheap.

We continued to try to spend more time with friends and extended family.

I have been trying very hard to dedicate enough time and effort to this blog to reach my goals. I love writing and I have enjoyed the many aspects of blogging. I love being able to start with a completely blank page and turn it into something I am proud of. I managed to get caught up on loads of posts about past trips this month. I wrote a couple current posts about finance and our journey to becoming debt-free. I set up the contact me page, edited photos, made new connections, and I’m working on a few posts that are not quite up yet. I’m proud of the progress I’m making and will continue to work on this site at least 3 times a week.

I’m so excited to see what we accomplish in April!