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Lawncare, here we come…

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In keeping with the spirit of this morning’s post and really wanting to be debt free, the lawncare line item from our budget bit the dust this past Friday.  We are now on our own as far as lawn care goes…and my grass is completely overgrown!

The plan was to borrow a neighbor’s lawnmower for the first few weeks to give me time to put the money away for the equipment we need.  They were totally open to it since they don’t use it, they use the same lawn service I just quit.  However, after a year of un-use, it won’t start.

So now to plan B, as soon as I can figure out what plan B will be…but as soon as I purchase the equipment, that extra $100+ is going right to expediting my debt payoff.  (I will be paying the kids to mow the lawn, but it will come out of the already budgeted line item.)

I am SO EXCITED about the little progress that we are making that I know is going to pay off big time!


Rewards and Celebrations

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I have some good news to share today! I am about to receive the largest paycheck of my life!!!

I have been working on a writing-related project for a loooooong time (10 months) and finally finished last week. (No, it was not a book). I wasn’t smart setting up my contract and I had agreed to not get paid at all until project completion (in my defense, I thought it would take a fraction of the total time invested). Anyway, 10 months later I’m about to receive a paycheck for several thousand dollars (more than 5, less than 10…but that’s “gross,” so I’ll need to pay taxes), which is by far and away the largest single paycheck I have ever received.

Good news: This means we are going to knock it out of the park this month in terms of our income. Last month was the most we’d ever made (in life), and this month is going to be even better! I tell you this because we’ve just “met” and I really want you to understand how NOT TYPICAL these huge pay months are for us.

But, that aside, I want to celebrate. It feels like a HUGE weight off my shoulders to have this project complete; in the past we would have done something fun – gotten a ‘sitter and gone to dinner.

But we pay babysitters $13/hour (is this normal?? I used to make $5/hr when I babysat but that was 20 years ago), plus a dinner-for-two can be in the range of $50, so we’re talking roughly $80-$100+ if we were to throw a movie into the mix, too.

What do you do to reward yourself when you’ve hit a big milestone? Ours has ALWAYS been going out to eat, but we need something new (read = cheaper!) I want to celebrate a little!


Another one bites the dust!!!

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I paid off the Mattress Firm account!!!

I’m glad it is paid in full (and we now own our very expensive mattress outright), but I’d be lying if I said it gave me the same “high” I got from paying off my Capital One card. I think its because I’ve had debt on my credit cards for a very long time (going on 7 years now), whereas we’ve only had the mattress account for less than a year, so it doesn’t feel like as big of an accomplishment (plus the mattress account has been interest-free).

It was necessary to pay it off so we aren’t hit with all the accrued interest and fees that get tacked on after a year, but it definitely doesn’t feel like as huge of a “success” as it did to pay off one of the credit cards that had been hanging around foreeeeeever!

Not trying to be a Debbie Downer because its certainly a good thing. One less debt to worry about each month. Perhaps the more exciting development is that I will now take that $100 payment and snowball it toward Wells Fargo. This means my payments for my Wells Fargo card will increase from $800/month to $900/month starting in June (with possible snowflake payments, too!) Exciting stuff!!!

 


Doin’ the Carlton

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I am dancing around ya’ll, and just so you’ll have a visual, you can imagine how Carlton dances from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Hey, that’s all the rhythm I’ve got! So, let me explain why my children are currently glad their friends can’t see me.

In one of my previous posts we got to talking in the comments about whether or not we should pay credit cards with crazy, stupid interest off first or our furniture loan which is interest free but due to possible trickery, could bite us in the end. Well, this is what happened…

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and……

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The card that had almost $600 on it and the card with a little over $1,000 ? PAID!! I. AM. SO. EXCITED!

Let’s talk about how this was possible, shall we?  My husband has a job that rarely gets overtime.  They have been swamped lately so, he has been working a few hours extra a week to help out. We knew that he would have enough overtime on one check to pay off a good chunk of that smaller balance.  What we did not know is that the weather in our area was gonna go nutso crazy and, fortunately for us, his work is greatly impacted by weather. They sent him out of town, which just so happened to fall on a weekend so, there was lots of overtime. They taxed the heck out of us but in the end it was enough to pay off both cards.

I’m not gonna lie ya’ll, there’s a part of me that really wanted to pay off the small card, put a little on the other card, and have fun with the rest. But, I know that sticking with this is going to benefit us so very much. I also have another confession that I’ll get more into this afternoon.  The crux of it is that we have not been sticking to our budget as strict as we were before.  I’m hoping that these two victories over our credit demons will help us get back on track.

So, what do ya’ll think, was it a good decision to pay these cards off? Or should we have put it towards the furniture loan?


Ashley’s Money-Saving Tricks

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I want to start a series of money-saving tricks that I have started using since kicking off this debt-reduction journey. Hopefully these tricks will help reduce some of our monthly expenses (pssst: revised budget coming this afternoon). Here’s my first money-saving trick:

Homemade Cleaning Spray and Reusable Rags

I have actually been making my own cleaning spray for years. I started because of health/safety (I wanted a 100% natural cleaning solution for cleaning high chair surfaces), but it also had a side-effect of helping out the wallet. Since starting my debt-payoff journey, I also decided to eradicate paper towels from our lives.

To be fair, we still have some paper towels leftover from a Costco run I made in late February, but I have already switched over to reusable rags. If all goes well, hopefully our hoard of paper towels will last the entire year of our credit-card eradication challenge since we will only be using them very sparingly (side note – I also saw a tutorial on making DIY baby wipes out of paper towels for WAY cheaper than store-bought wipes, so that’s an alternative, too). The only thing I’ve noticed so far as a disadvantage of reusable towels is in regard to cleaning mirrors. The rags always leave streaks and little bits of rag “fuzz” behind. Any reader tips on how to avoid this?

Otherwise, I’m really trying to stick to the rags. In our case, the rags required no initial investment. Because we had twins instead of a singleton, we were gifted an obscene amount of burp cloths (which were all IMPERATIVE when the girls were babies). Now that they aren’t needed as burp cloths, they’ve just been sitting in our linen closet taking up space. I have just repurposed these into our cleaning rags. They’re the perfect size and I don’t have to run out and buy a bunch of towels to replace the paper towels. Win-Win!

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Dirty baby table about to get cleaned with a burp cloth and homemade cleaning solution. As you can see, I have reused an old spray bottle (you can tell from the picture it’s pretty old, as the label is peeling off). No up-front costs, only savings!!!

I have a link to my pinterest in my author info in case anyone is interested. I have a board of DIY ideas that I have used, and there are links to several homemade cleaning solutions you can use to save yourself some money, too!

and one more BONUS money-saving trick….

Free Magazine Scam

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the free magazine scams, right? These are when you get a mailing saying you can get a free magazine subscription for “X” months….but then they never remind you to cancel and the subscription auto-renews and CHARGES you!!! Familiar?

Well at the beginning of January I got an offer for FIVE free magazine subscriptions. I have no idea how this happened – I haven’t subscribed to a magazine in YEARS! But the mailing said that depending on the magazine, I could qualify for 6 months up to 1 year for free! Don’t mind if I do!

I went ahead and signed up for a bunch of magazines. Turns out I got 4 for one full year, and 1 for 6 months. All totally FREE!

Here’s the thing……the magazines are banking on you forgetting to call and cancel in time, and then they get to charge you! I am meticulous about keeping a planner (I would never remember all my various deadlines and due-dates otherwise). So I write in my planner the phone number, magazine subscription information, and a big note to CANCEL a month before the free trial ends (just so there’s no confusion or funny business).

But I don’t really care about magazines. I sometimes flip through them while the babies are taking a bath (I sit in the bathroom supervising, but they love to play in the tub so it could be a good 20 minutes or so), but I could do without them and don’t need them or anything.

So what’s my trick????

Almost as soon as I receive them, I take them to our local book resale shop (called Bookmans). It’s important that I take them soon after they arrive because then they are still the “current” issue. I take them to the book store and “trade-in” for store credit! I use the credit to buy books for my babies!!! Voila! Free books!!!

Me?? I’ve always been a library-girl. But my babies are so destructive they are NOT old enough yet to be responsible library-borrowers (they’re not even 2 yet), so we can’t borrow   baby books from the library for fear of a book getting a page torn, a sippy cup spilled on it, etc. But the books at the resale shop are cheap anyway, and once I use my 5 trade-in credits per month, I’m always able to walk away with 1-2 new-to-us books for the girls absolutely FREE!!!

So there you have it! Two new ways you can save some money!

What’s your favorite money-saving “trick”??? 


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