Category Archives: money

vicious cycles

Vicious, indeed. I will blog. Then I won’t. Then I’ll decide it’s been too long. Then I stop. Lovely. Well here we are again. I’m blogging. It’s spring. Time to blog I guess.

I’m gonna start a new series because I have made some recent changes in my life and this is to try to track my progress and keep record of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Just to update you, I went to Rwanda for an 8 day mission trip with e3 Partners. It was a blast. Maybe I’ll write about my experience later. I journaled every day about every. dadgum. thing. Even some things I won’t be sharing with the general public too.

But since I’ve been back, my husband and I have made some life-altering decisions. First, we prayed and decided that I would apply for a position at our home church. I pursued this job and through lots of prayer, I accepted the position when offered it. But in the middle of all that too, we traded in Nate’s precious Jeep. We both LOVED that thing. We believe I had a harder time letting it go. Nate drove it every day and had to put up with it. It will be missed, but we made the right decision. It needed new tires, some cosmetic work, and some under the hood work. And we just didn’t have the money for that. We have been saving for a new car, but that was supposed to be 3 years down the line. Instead of dipping into those savings, we traded in the Jeep (we actually made our final decision after leaving a dealership where they made us a you-can’t-walk-away-from-this-deal deal and right before we ordered our food at a restaurant) and bought a Dodge Caliber. I’m actually very happy now with our decision. But we’re not a MOPAR family anymore… We’re a silver Dodge family. That’s right. Nate is now driving my silver Dodge Dakota and I’m driving the silver Dodge Caliber.

New car. New job. New hours. New view on life.

My new motto: simple. Live and move simple. Spend simple. I hope this isn’t just another phase. I want to make these changes something I can truly live with. And without regret. We’re pursuing God’s will. I am seeking Him. I want to live a Gospel-centered life. I was us to be a Gospel-centered family.

holiday decorating

It’s the holiday season (holiday season)…

I love the holidays, starting with my birthday (Oct. 28), then Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and finally New Years! So many parties & festivities going on! LOVE it! We’ve already got 4 Christmas parties, 1 baby shower, 1 b’day party, and lots of visiting with various friends and family all before Christmas actually rolls around.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and I went to a Christmas/holiday decorating class at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens by the folks at In Bloom (in the Five Points area for those in the Huntsville, Alabama area). I took notes with my little Android phone. So I’m gonna try to make things full sentences now. (Bare with me if I overlook something.)

So, I just cranked up Pandora with my Christmas channel and my fingers are ready to work! The only thing that would make this perfect is a cup of hot chocolate and if I was at home working on this. I’m gonna also add my own thoughts and notes to this so it’s gonna be MY own Christmas decorating post instead of just notes.

Organize. That’s where we start. The speaker said, “You’re too late with organizing; you should have started last year.”

First, you need to decide when you’re gonna decorate and how much you’re gonna decorate. Once you’ve got that decided, you need to plan for 3 days to decorate. I’ve never done this before, but I am this year! I work full time, so I can’t really do it during the week. So we normally go cut down our tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but this year, we’re going the day after with some friends. So I’m doing this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Day 1: Put up the tree (fluff it if you decide to go the wrong fake route) and light it. That’s it. No more. Even if you want to. Stop. I mean it!

Day 2: Decorate. Decorate your tree, your foyer, your whole living. Just do what you want.

Day 3: Finalize. Put all the finishing touches on everything. If you see something out of place, fix it. Make a list of what you need and go buy it.

Note: If you’re doing outdoor lights, plan for another day for this too. Or if you’re like me, I’ll just send Hubby out to do it while I’m decorating. That’s our rule anyway. I take care of the inside of the house and he gets the outside.

That all sounds easy enough. Better than me trying to cram it all into one Saturday. I’ve already planned to go get the tree Friday and get all our decorations down out of the attic (or get hubby to). We’ll put lights on together and then go to watch the Iron Bowl game (War Eagle). On Saturday, I’ll pull out the rest of the decorations and decorate that morning. My family is coming up that evening to go out to eat for our Thanksgiving. Everybody seems to be so overwhelmed and tired this year, so we’re getting someone else to do it for us. And we’re going fancy too! My day 3 will consist of me visiting a local florist (the people that actually did the demonstration/talk about decorating) and do the finishing touches of decorations. We’ll see how it all goes.

Now as you go through your decorations this year (and at the end of the season) grade them. A. B. C. D (for donate). F (for trash). I like this system. I went through my decorations last year, but I’m really excited about this method! Also, you should invest in one quality Christmas item a year. So this is our 2nd Christmas together and last year we had to invest in a lot since we needed a lot of our own things, this will be a good start. I’m planning on buying mine Sunday hopefully.

Accessorize. This is the next step in your Christmas decorating (or any kind of decorating for that matter).

One thing he said that stuck out in my mind was to rethink key surfaces and rethink how you use your items. I definitely will. I don’t know what this will look like just yet, but I will!

Start with a clear area. Take everything off your surface (unless there’s a lamp or something that will stay). Then you just work your items in. And I did note that he said to use an odd number of accessories (not including a lamp or something that will stay). Then mix textures. You should also make sure your eye dances over the height of every object. Use books, logs, etc. to add height to things. I have a few old books I will try to use. I do that with normal decorating anyway. Don’t make anything symmetrical. That’s something I tend to do, especially with an even number of objects. You can also add a mirror underneath something to give more light to a dark area.

This class really inspired me! They did some sample decorating on a small table with a lamp. He did one monochromatic with silver. Then he worked some gold into it too. He said it was very ok to mix silver and gold, something I’m terrified of! Mr. Speaker Guy did a fall table (wood logs, acorns, squirrel, silver leaf, current fall photo) and a Christmas table (mercury glass, silver tree, deer, silver ball, silver picture frame).

The Tree. Now that we have everything organized and accessorized… Let’s move onto decorating your Christmas tree! Lights. One idea somebody gave was to do inner lighting on your tree where you just wrap the inside stem with a C9 size bulb strand. I’m not sure we’ll do this this year, but it sounds kinda fun! He did say something about the technique of lighting the tree and I know after hearing him, I do it ALL wrong! Ornaments. Organize ornaments by same style, same size, then go down in size its more visually appealing. I didn’t know this either, but you’re supposed to put the bigger sized ornaments to fill the holes! I have 1 and it’ll fill a whole instead of hang down at the bottom and just get knocked around by gifts. You have a base of handmade ornaments, but hang matching colored balls in the inside of tree to reflect your lights better. A good idea for old ornaments you don’t want broken: put them on a special tree where it won’t get knocked off. Or put them in a shadow box and display this as part of your decorations somewhere. Garland: Garland should be out on the tips of the branches. And they said tinsel is ok to use, but use sparingly.

The speaker touched on fresh flowers and arrangements, but I’m not even going to attempt explaining this because that’s nowhere near my forte! But he did say to make sure you always have fresh flowers at any kind of social gathering. I’ve not really done this. Ever. So here goes another new thing for me.

Finally, we’re at the end of this post. But I will post some words of advice from the speaker: “Share your Christmas. Think of others during the holidays and support local businesses. Remember those in need. Have fun. Make memories. Control the holidays, don’t let them you.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

lions and tigers and zebras, oh my!

Well, it’s not officially official yet, but it’s semi-official so I can announce to the world… I’m going to Rwanda next year!! I was waiting to ask off before I made any kind of announcement about it. But I asked off this week for possibly going March 17-27. My boss was very supportive about it, so I’m very thankful for that. I was so nervous about it that I kept pushing that part off. I have several people on my prayer team for me through all these little things and then finally the actual trip. If you’d like to pray for me & this process, I won’t stop you!

Next on the agenda: Get a passport! Raise support! Get shots?!?!?

Shots: I’m so so SO scared of needles, blood, anything medical really. My sister a nurse, so she got all those kind of genes… I pass out SO easily. I can count on both hands (almost out of fingers too…) how many time I’ve passed out. Over the most random and ridiculous things too!

Passport: I’m just waiting to get everything pulled together to apply for one. My mom is supposed to be looking for my birth certificate tonight (she was supposed to do it this week though). Gotta go get a mugshot pic taken.

Support: I’ve raised about $350 so far! I’ve had 2 craft booths and a halloween contest! Everybody has been really supportive (except that one church that I had a booth next to at my last festival… We won’t get into that!)… So part of that will go toward my passport ($165) and the application fee ($200).

I’m going with a group called e3 Partners. The group leaders are Mike & Mary Wagner. They go to my church and I’m so blessed to know them already. : )

So, I can’t wait to go. I’m nervous and excited about what God is gonna do with me there and in me before, there, and after!!

Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…

Oh and edit: I’ll be in Africa on our 2-year wedding anniversary…

recent happenings in money

So I just made our last payment on my student loan. That’s 3 loans paid off in the last 4 months! I’m very stoked about it. We’re celebrating by going to Nashville for a night with a couple of friends. Nate and I have never been to Dave & Buster’s, so we’re gonna spend a lot of money there! My mother-in-law recommended Aloft hotel. She stayed there around Christmas last year. It’s supposed to be pretty modern with their decor and technology. They have free wi-fi. Not a huge deal, but I hate it when hotels charge you extra for wi-fi. Disney does that. And so did the condo we stayed at in Gulf Shores for our 1 year anniversary.

But yeah, back to the money. I married into some debt, not a lot though. But I’m pretty good with money (or so I think… It’s kind of the reason I got a finance degree…) and I put us on a plan to pay it all off. It started it after we stopped paying on my 1/3 of the apartment rent right after we got married. It was probably about 3 months after we got married we started paying extra on the bills.

Since all three of our extra loans (not the mortgage) were about the same amount, we paid off the one with the highest interest rate first. Then snowballed it from there. I ran some numbers and it made the most sense. If you want to know anything about paying it off, let me know. I’m an open book about it!

crafty with money

So I have been reading a bunch of money-saving/freebies blogs this morning. I’ve been loving this because I am a VERY frugal person.  I know how and where to find a $2 summer dress or a $1 denim skirt. I wore my latest $6 dress on Saturday! But I have decided that I will post about my frugal purchases too. You honestly have to be crafty with your money.

We are on a pretty strict budget right now trying to pay off all our loans (except for the mortgage). I’m doing the envelopes thing, but I keep it all separated in a coupon organizer. I actually got complimented on it on Saturday at the pharmacy! I usually get slightly embarrassed when I have to pull that thing out, but it has really helped. Before we got married, I did alright with my money, but now that have a house payment to add to the mix of things. I’ve had to halt a lot of spending even if it is really cheap.

I guess I will talk about my budget in this post, too. I keep cash in my coupon organizer. Each section has half a notecard with the category and the amount I put in monthly and weekly (my budget is read by the month, but since we get paid weekly, I divide it up that way).  The categories are Groceries, Dining Out, Clothes, Gifts, Vehicle, Medical, Coffee, Misc. I pay for gas on my debit card and I will put cash in the front pocket for when I use my debit or credit card on a purchase and I wasn’t able to take it out of the organizer. For the bills we pay by check or online, I just put the total weekly portions (divided out just like cash) into a separate savings account and pay my bills out of that. I’ve never had to do that but we’re really trying to pay everything off early.

As for those loans, we’re hoping to rid of that by April of next year. We’re also going to celebrate that happy occasion with a glamorous night on the town! We might go a little overboard and it might be a little cliche, but we’re just going all out that night!  We have 2 payments left on my husband’s Jeep, 4 payments left on another loan, and 6 payments left on my student loan. I tell you all of these details because I am so excited for us to pay these off and I hope that you can celebrate with us as we get out of debt!