Blogging My Way Through Debt

 - Blogging My Way Through Debt

Refund Payment, Sidebar Picture and Major De-cluttering, Oh My!

Thought I would drop in the ole blog today and let you know what I’m up to…..

We’ll start with the first; refund payment.  Not quite the big reveal on our tax refund BUT $5000 from our tax refund was applied as a principal payment towards our mortgage loan today….WOOT WOOT!!

Second, you will notice in my fancy sidebar picture that our mortgage balance dropped from $231k to $226k due to above payment!  Displaying our balance as a graphic has been on my to-do list for awhile and today I finally took the time to figure out how to do this super simple task.  YAHOO!!

Lastly, I have some major de-cluttering going on here.  I am tearing up the 2014 items in 2014 challenge!  I am trying to get this done before the boys are home for the summer!

What is keeping you busy these days?  Were you able to do anything exciting with your tax refund?

We Planted Our Garden!

It is the perfect time of year for us to start our garden AND it is also that time of year that everything seems to be blooming all at once thanks to our CRAZY winter.  Because of said blooming, my sinuses threw my body (head) through a whirlwind this week!  I finally caved and went to the doctor yesterday who gave me antibiotics for a sinus infection.  Thankfully, I now have the energy to get things done around here! :)

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Last year was our first year planting a garden.  We started small so we wouldn’t get overwhelmed.  This year our garden is twice the size and I am so excited!  We planted tomatoes, peppers, onions, cantaloupe, watermelon, radishes, cucumber, okra and pumpkins.  I LOVE being able to pick fresh food from our garden.  Having a garden definitely saves us money over the summer and I love sharing our abundance with family and friends!

Do you have a garden?  What fruits and veggies do you like to grow?

Quick and Easy Homemade Pizza

 

In the past, our family would sometimes “splurge” on a Little Ceasers $5 pizza instead of buying the frozen ones from the grocery store because they are pretty much the same price these days!  After reading this post over at The Nester, we now make our own pizzas every Friday night and they are DELISH!! :)

In short, she shares a SUPER easy pizza crust to make and uses whatever is in the refrigerator as toppings.  We have a Sam’s Club membership so I bought a huge container of spaghetti sauce and a huge bag of mozzarella cheese.  This past Friday was my favorite pizza to date!  Since I have always enjoyed Hawaiian pizza, I used the leftover ham from Easter and added pineapple!  Mmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmm, yum!!!

Do you make your own pizzas?  Any special topping combos you really enjoy?

FREE Minecraft Chore Chart

minecraft chore chart

As with many kiddos these days, my oldest son gets excited about anything Minecraft!  What better way to get my son excited about chores, than with a Minecraft chore chart?.?. LOL!

My son and I are both visual people and like to see our progress!  We tried using chore cards and they worked a little bit.  I think being able to check off his progress will work much better in helping HIM make sure all his chores are done!

If you would like to use this free printable at your house, click the link to print off the Minecraft Chore Chart! :)

 

Weekly Goals- 4/14/14

My word for 2014 is intentional.  Each week I will be intentional about making goals that align with my 2014 goals!

Last week’s goals:

Health

  • 21 minutes on elliptical OR  / 3 miles walk-run outside 6 days a week  YES!  I can’t believe I am becoming a fan of running!

Personal

  • Finish week 11 and start week 12 in the Bible.  (Finished 12 too!)
  • Plan morning Bible activities for kiddos.
  • Create boys’ chore charts.  I created a Minecraft chore chart and will be sharing this week as a free printable!

Financial

  • Start using coupons (You will start to notice a few more links to coupon deals on the blog.  I’m going to start myself with the free to almost free deals; which is what I will be sharing with you!)

Writing

  • Complete children’s book.
  • Get ahead and write future blog posts. (I started planning for the month- better than nothing) ;)

This week:

Health

  • 21 minutes on elliptical OR  / 3 miles walk-run outside 6 days a week ( Each day I am working towards beating my time from the previous day by running more and longer spurts!)
  • Start a wellness journal. ( I don’t want to diet and I don’t want to restrict myself!  In my journal, I want to keep track of how certain foods make me feel, i.e. do they give me energy or make me feel sluggish?)  Here, I will document my running times.  I want to start running in 5K races sometime this year! :)

Personal

  • Finish week 13 and start week 14 in the Bible.
  • Plan morning Bible activities for kiddos.  We will be discussing Easter this week!
  • Create boys’ goal sheets. (These will either be Minecraft or Lego themed.  I will share the goal sheet as a free printable too.)  I’m thinking a school goal, a home goal and a sport goal….
  • Create master of list of things that need to be done.

Financial

  • Start using coupons (You will start to notice a few more links to coupon deals on the blog.  I’m going to start myself with the free to almost free deals; which is what I will be sharing with you!)
  • Begin planning a summer reading program to offer.

Writing

  • Complete children’s book.
  • Get ahead and write future blog posts.

Hmmm, it seems my writing is the first thing to get pushed back!  I am working on fixing that! :)

A few weeks ago, I substituted for my son’s kindergarten teacher from last year.  I knew she was amazing then but after spending the day in her room…WOW!  Her room was so organized that those kindergarten students knew EXACTLY what they were supposed to be doing and when they were supposed to do it!  I was there as a supervisor pretty much!  That day made me realize that I want that feeling in my house!!  What I have now, is what I refer to as organized chaos…  I will be an organizing fool over the next few weeks!  I believe this will be more efficient and productive in all areas of my life!!  Wish me luck! :)

 

What are your goals this week?

 

Mrs. Debtfighter Throws Her Son a Birthday Party

Okay, so I actually started this post the day after my son’s birthday-March 17.  But…. the following week was spent prepping for our vacation and I never came back to finish the post. ;)

Yesterday we celebrated my youngest son’s 5th birthday!  We all had an amazing day and it melts my heart to see him so happy!!!

Several months ago, birthday boy asked if he could have his birthday party at Chuck E Cheese.  Anyone with kiddos knows that birthday parties can add up quickly cost-wise!  Most of my kid’s parties are at our house because they enjoy having all our friends and family together to celebrate.

For this party we stuck with a small number and let the other normal guests know that we were keeping the guest list to mostly cousins with a few friends his age.

Here are some things OUR family does to keep birthday parties low-cost but still make the birthday boy feel special:

  • A big birthday party IS your present from mom and dad.  Our kiddos know and understand that if they want a big birthday party that is our present.  However, the price we pay to feed our guests is similar to what we would spend to buy them presents which they are already getting from the guests!!
  • We only decorate with balloons or items we already have around the house.  We always get one or two packs of colored balloons to go with the party theme.  This only sets us back $1-$2.  The beauty of using balloons is that you can put them all over the house/outside making the space feel well-decorated.  On his 4th birthday he wanted a tractor party.  We took several of the tractors/farm toys he already owned and used them as centerpieces.  Here is a link to an article I wrote last year about planning a tractor party.

tractor cake

  • We keep the menu simple. The benefit of having this party at Chuck E Cheese was that the food was included.  It was nice to just show up at the party.  We usually let the birthday boy pick their food but limit the menu to 3-4 items and make a birthday cake/cupcakes.
  • We politely eliminated guests to keep our costs minimal.  We certainly didn’t want to hurt any of our friends’ feelings by not including them BUT we also didn’t want to pay for 3 times as many children who my son probably wouldn’t even get a chance to talk to at the party.  We let our friends know that we were keeping the party low-key since we were having it at Chuck E Cheese.  Since they all have children of their own and have been-there-done-that, they were all very understanding!
  • Most of the time we make our own invitations.  We could save more money by sending e-vites but I think the little ones enjoy getting mail so we spend the small fortune to get stamps. :)  I include the boys in search of invite ideas to go with their theme or picking out a picture of themselves to use.

What are some ways that you save money when planning a birthday party?

Mrs. Debtfighter Goes on Vacation!

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Last week was my sons’ spring break.  We enjoyed a 9-day, much-needed vacation!

Everything worked out perfectly as I planned our trip!  10 years ago on March 27th, hubby and I got married.  We were young and it was the semester I was student teaching.  When we were offered a basically-free honeymoon to Disneyworld, we took it!  Last fall when I started thinking about how to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, I loved the idea of celebrating with our kids at Disney!

Since this is a blog about saving money and being frugal, I’ll share how we enjoyed a memorable vacation on a budget.

  • We drove instead of flying! Obviously, the number one reason we chose this option is because the flights were expensive.  If we flew, the vacation would have only been 5 days instead of 9.  I wanted our trip to be a little bit of everything.  I wanted our boys (ages 5 and 7) to see others states.
  • We spent one day at Magic Kingdom! I am SOOOOO glad we planned only one day!  We spent the entire day at Magic Kingdom; open to close!  The boys were pooped and fell asleep on the bus ride back to the resort.  We planned on visiting Universal Studios the following day but it would have been too much for boys; they needed a more relaxing day.  We took our time and made our way to Downtown Disney the second day.
  • We shared meals and ate leftovers!  Based on how hungry we were, we shared meals so that none of the food was wasted.  If we had a lot leftover, we took it back to our room refrigerator and ate it as a snack or meal the following day.
  • The boys got a t-shirt and that was it!  My parents and the in-laws went to celebrate our ten-year anniversary with us so they each bought the boys one thing on the trip.

We left on Friday, 3/21 and drove to Kimball, Tennessee.  We packed snacks and lunch for the drive so that we would only need to buy dinner.  Part of the fun was trying different foods at new restaurants in different cities!  Saturday, we drove to Tifton, Georgia.  For lunch, we enjoyed our leftovers from dinner the night before.  Sunday, we arrived at Pop Century Resort in Orlando, FL.  After driving, we enjoyed the movie UP by the pool and walked around taking in the awesomeness of the resort.

On Wednesday, we left Orlando, FL and drove to Sanibel, FL to spend the next three nights on the beach!  Of course, at such a beautiful place there are several tours/activities you can purchase.  The four of us were beyond excited to take advantage of the FREE activities Sanibel has to offer.  Wednesday we just rested by the beach and played Frisbee.  Thursday, our anniversary, we took a bike ride along the island (bikes provided FREE by the inn).  The ride was AMAZING and oh so beautiful!!  We set out for a nature reserve in search of alligators for the boys.  Once we got there they told us it was a four-mile ride.  Neither one of us was interested in tacking on extra miles on the bikes, so we opted for heading back and coming back in the car.  BUT, we ended up spotting two alligators on the ride back, which made our day!  Friday, was the nicest day weather-wise and we spent the entire day enjoying the beach!!!  The boys built sand castles and rode the waves.

We definitely could have saved a lot more money as far as the food was concerned by making different choices but it could have also been way worse!! ;)

The whole trip was perfect and we did not have to spend a fortune to enjoy it!!!  It felt great to be unplugged for awhile but I am happy to be back and writing again!

How do you stay frugal on vacation?

2014 in 2014- Update 1

photo 1 (3)So, I have told you before that the majority of the 2014 items in 2014 that I am about to get rid of will be from our storage room.  As you can see from the above picture….JUST LOOK…..Oh My Goodness!!!!  There are several pins on Pinterest that I told myself I wanted to try with these boxes like the real life Angry Birds backyard game (still want to try but I am sure I can accumulate more boxes before summer) or the drive in theatre where my kiddos can decorate their own “car.”  Today I chose to say buh-bye to those boxes.  Little Bit and I enjoyed burning them in our fire pit on this chilly day!photo 2In addition to the 11 boxes that I burned, I have a small bag of goodies that I have set aside while cleaning out our closets (14 items) which comes to be 25 items today!

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Before I announced this challenge, I gave several bags of clothes/toys to my good friend pregnant with twin boys.  I am sure I am underestimating on the number of items I passed on to her, but I am going with 40…

As of March 14, 2014, I am currently at 79 items!  Wait until you see the rest of the storage room!!

The Purpose of Mrs. Debtfighter

As I strive towards being intentional while writing at Mrs. Debtfighter, I have used The Nester’s suggestion and developed a purpose statement!

Here it goes (soon to be moved to the sidebar):

Here at Mrs. Debtfighter you can join me and we can share our lives as we live frugally and strive to pay off debt!  Everyone has a debt story; whether it’s how you became debt-free, working towards paying off debt or in over your head and don’t know where to begin.  I believe there is so much to gain from hearing other’s stories!

 Mrs. Debtfighter is a place for me to journal my own experience of paying off debt, striving to live simply, decorating on a dime, scoring awesome deals and sharing the everyday life of living frugally!  Everyone has a different story and everyone has different circumstances!  What works for me, may not work for you or be the best option for you during this season of life.  BUT, I hope you can leave Mrs. Debtfighter with motivation for your own journey and ways to help save you money!

Fun question- Can you guess what movie gave me the idea for my blog name?

If you are a blogger, do you have a purpose statement?  If so, feel free to link to your statement.  :)

Getting to Know the Readers-Financial Relationships

Today I am curious what other couple’s financial relationships look like….

Much like our actual relationship; mine and my husband’s financial relationship has changed several times over the past 15 years.  We started dating when hubby was 19 and I was 17.  At that point, we didn’t care too much about finances.  But, even then, I was at one end of the spectrum and him ALLLL the way at the other end.  I was always the saver and he was always the spender.  As we got older, we moved closer and closer towards each other in the middle.  We started to balance each other out!

Are you the saver or the spender?

I’ve read on other blogs that monthly budget meetings with your spouse are beneficial.  Hubby and I are getting better at these.  We don’t sit down and meet formally.  We do discuss future home projects, future purchases and where we can save money!

Hubby has seen the benefits several times of saving our money and not blowing it on random purchases.  He does not seem interested in knowing how much money is in certain accounts.  I teased him the other day that he must think it is better off that way.  I have always been the one to balance the checkbook.  He trusts me 100% and I still discuss with him any out-of-the-ordinary purchases.

Do you and your significant other hold budget meetings?  If so, what do they sound like?

Who balances the checkbook or is it a shared duty?

I would love to hear about your financial relationship!  I enjoy these conversations because they help me think about my own life and ways to tweak our “meetings” to benefit our financial relationship!