Category Archives: Frugal Living

Financial Peace University

Stevan and I started Dave Ramsey‘s course, Financial Peace University (FPU) last night at a church in a nearby town. We had already started by reading the book and doing it on our own so when we found on-line that a local church was having the classes, we signed up. It was a good first night and I think we’ll be able to share in our small group when we need to.

One of the first baby steps that FPU asks you to do is build up a $1,000 emergency fund right up front. Later, your emergency fund will be 3-6 months of expenses, but this first $1,000 is to jump start you into a commitment and to give you a buffer for when Mr. “Murphy” comes to visit (i.e. an emergency that in the past a credit card took care of). Well, we have had that emergency fund since last month and have been quite pleased with ourselves for doing it so quickly (with much sacrifice, but still we did it). We were even able to share that we already have done Baby Step #1.

Until today….when I had to get a CT scan for my kidney stones back in Sept. that procedure cost like $3,000! The insurance paid the 80% and we’re stuck with $750 to pay (we know this isn’t a terrible amount but it is high to us). Somehow, the hospital didn’t contact us and inform us on what is left to pay so we are unable to do a payment plan and must pay the $752 (interest). We are so bummed that we have to already use our Emergency Fund! But this is an emergency to us and we can pay for it! We DON”T have to put it on a credit card and pay for it later for the rest of our lives, either! I am going to keep reminding us that at least we will never see that bill again or be paying for it. And………………..if in the future I pass the other stone that we know is there thanks to that expensive procedure and they want to do another CT scan, I am praying that we will be able to meet that crisis and it won’t be a crisis because we’ll have the money (and then some) saved. It won’t be a “Murphy” crisis, it will just be something unexpected. Well…I am expecting it and hope to be proved wrong in that the stone disintegrates on it’s own or that I never pass it. This is my earnest prayer.

I am sharing this so that I can look back on my pep-talk to myself and know that we will be okay. We’ll just sacrifice some stuff even more until that emergency fund is built back up. Thankfully, we just started FPU and have a small group to hold us accountable and encourage us as we do it. God’s timing is amazing. Perhaps He knew it would be extra tough on us to dip into the fund so early so He didn’t have us find this opportunity to take this course until the bill came.

If you’d like more information on Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University, click here.

Vinegar–the Universal Cleaning Agent?

My house smells like distilled vinegar. I am cleaning the coffee maker right now to get rid of all the water scaling and such (run a cycle of white vinegar through your automatic drip coffee maker as if you were making coffee–without the grounds, of course, then many cycles of water afterwards to rinse and your hubby will never know you cleaned it, but the coffee will taste much better). While I was at it, I decided to do the dishwasher and tea maker, as well.

As I was doing all of this and inhaling the steamy, smelly fumes, I remembered that on the inside of the washing machine lid there is a guide for getting out stains and it recommends using distilled vinegar to get out old deodorant stains. Hmmm…has anyone ever heard of this or have you tried this remedy? I hate how gross the underarm areas of my shirts get so I am starting to think that if vinegar works in the kitchen, perhaps it will work on my clothes, too.

All of these vinegar ponderings (uh, yeah I know this isn’t an actual word, but you get it so I’m not changing it) has made me wonder if you, too, have found wonderful uses for this common household agent. Do you have multiple uses for it, or does it sit forlornly in your kitchen cabinet only to be used when your banana bread recipe called for sour milk as mine used to do? Well, if the latter is the case, I urge you to take a look at that little smelly bottle and use it–or get on-line and find some more uses for it that I haven’t even discovered yet. In fact, if you find something that needs sharing, please comment so we can all add it to our list of household cleaning remedies that we can never get enough of.

Oh, and have I mentioned how stinkin’ (no pun intended) cheap vinegar is? Buy a bigger bottle to get the most for your money and also because once you start using it, you’ll go through it much faster!:-)

I’m going to go try out the laundry thing now………….if I have enough left. I’ll go put it on my grocery list right now, just in case. Maybe you should, too!

Saturday Sleep and Savings

It is a typical Saturday and I decided to run to the store to get milk and bread. When I arrived, I realized that it was busier than usual due to the upcoming Packers game tomorrow night–ummm….I’m pretty sure us Colts fans don’t do our team justice compared to these die-hard fans. This is the game that determines if they’re in the Superbowl–whoopty do! Everybody was getting party food and I have never seen so much alcohol going through the scanners in under 30 min. (I was the only one in my long check-out line not to have any sort of alcohol–needless to say I had the cheapest bill–the people in front of me rang up over a hundred bucks on what seemed like nothing but cat food, milk and buns so it had to be the booz).

Anyway, I came home ready to apologize for taking forever only to be met by silence. I walked out of the kitchen to find Stevan and Ella both sound asleep on the couch. They didn’t even move when I walked in. So, I decided not to get the camera and risk waking their peaceful slumber–so cute!

But, I wanted to tell Stevan of my great news, so you guys get to hear it instead! I had two coupons for a certain brand of peanut butter and knew the local store had that brand on sale for a dollar. Each coupon was for a $1 off, too! I know, I know! It’s too good to be true, right? I wasn’t sure if I could get by with getting two jars in one purchase, but sure enough, I walked away with two free jars of peanut butter. I also walked away with Electrosol 3-in-1 Power Tabs for the dishwasher for $1.25–these are regularly $4 something but were on sale and I had a $2.25 off coupon! That made them cheaper than Wal-Mart’s cheapest gel stuff (that doesn’t get Gerber oatmeal off sometimes)! Oh, yeah–I saved a total of $4.85 for 2 gallons of milk, some trial bags of coffee, bananas, dishwasher stuff, peanut butter and a loaf of bread! I saved $10 something all together! Woo hoo!

So, this post is dedicated to Natalie, Marsha, Karen and Cindy for giving me your Sunday paper coupons that you don’t use and a special thanks to the mysterious person/family who bought us a subscription to the Sunday paper (at least we think that’s what happened since it arrives in our driveway every week). Thanks for helping me stay on our grocery budget and get extra stuff in the bargain!:-)

Budgets and Blessings

Stevan and I started a new budget this month with Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover program. We have to get out of debt and think we can do it with this program by the time we’re 35. Stevan is 28 and I turn 28 next month (yuck). It hasn’t been too fun so far knowing you can’t spend anything not budgeted for in a specific category, but we’re doing it. I think this has been a tough month to start all of this with it being the Christmas season, but we assured ourselves that with Ella being too young to know there aren’t gifts under the tree for her or us, it won’t be like we’re taking anything away from her. She has plenty already from grandparents and aunts and uncles. All of that being said, we are still dealing with the changes of this whole thing.

Our mindset is changing and is starting to accept that fact that we are living within our means. So, we didn’t mail Christmas cards (did send an e-mail one so if you didn’t get it, I’ll put it on the website) and we didn’t get any family Christmas gifts this year. Well….this week has still been a little tough…..until today.

A package came to the church today for us so Stevan brought it home at lunch time. I figured it was from my mom who was sending something for Ella, but guess who it was from? My Grandma and Grandpa Garrett! Grandma sent us homemade banana bread, a french vanilla candle, some micro popcorn, corn puffs and pretzels for Ella, a bag of three musketeers, an Indiana Hoosiers cheer leading outfit (said she saw it at Wal-Mart after she talked to me on the phone about the only sports paraphernalia are Packers things), some footed pajama sleepers, a baby doll that feels real and has a pacifier, and an envelope to Ella. Inside was a card that said “Take Mom and Dad out for supper” with four books of McDonald’s gift certificates in there (that’s $20 worth). Do you know how excited we were to get that the week of Christmas when we had nothing to anticipate?:-) So, I called to thank my wonderful Grandma. I figured my parents had told her about our budgeting, but Grandma and Grandpa didn’t know about it yet, making the package that much neater with the timing of it all. Plus, we had already spent our budgeted money for eating out at Fazolli’s last week when we were out of town!

How awesome is God? I told Grandma it felt like college all over again getting a package from her. They always came at the most needed times–whether I was broke or just emotionally down. Stevan got to thank her too and we made sure she knew how perfect the timing of it all was for all three of us. We’re going to hide the baby doll so Ella can open it up at Christmas since she’ll find it under the tree if we leave it out. Stevan said he was pouting in the office today over the fact that we had nothing under the tree for each other and then that package came. We didn’t need those things, but emotionally we needed the package, if that makes sense!

Oh, and the UPS guy told my grandma they would try to get it to us by Christmas Eve–she sent it yesterday so I’m pretty sure that God made this package get here so quickly!

I pray that those of you reading this will be reminded that God won’t forget about us, especially when we are trying to be good stewards of what He has given us. I also hope this encourages you to get a hold of a family member or send a package or card to someone faraway if you’ve been feeling the nudge to do so.

God rocks!

How has He blessed you lately?