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9 Unexpected Things That Have Happened on Our Road to Debt Free

We’ve experienced both highs and lows on our road to debt freedom and today I want to share with you some of the fun and unexpected things that have happened on our journey.

  1. Less mail and far fewer bills in my mailbox. Most days there’s nothing in there. And I kind of like that.
  2. Surprise expenses are only annoying now and not fear inducing. When we took our son to the emergency room last winter we weren’t afraid of the bill in the same way we would have been before our debt free journey so we focused more easily on making sure he was getting the care he needed.
  3. Budgeting has become a fun game for us. At first making a budget is confusing and frustrating. But as you see progress it gets fun. Trust me. (If you haven’t started yours here are two blog articles that might help you: How to Make a Budget That Works over at BeingFrugal.net and How to Make a Budget over at ChristianPersonalFinance.com)
  4. As we’ve gotten closer to debt freedom we are getting giddy about making plans for our money instead of our debt making the plans for us.
  5. There are almost no arguments about money in our house. I can’t recall the last time we argued over money. (Underwear and socks left on the floor, yes. But not money.)
  6. I’ve learned to cook some great fun food, like homemade pizza. Eating at home is healthier and we don’t need to leave a tip. When we do eat out it really does feel like a treat because it is.
  7. My kids understanding of money has improved greatly. And I’m very motivated to make sure they don’t travel the debt road we have.
  8. Vacations planned and paid for in cash are FAR more fun because you can truly be in the moment. I love knowing on the ride home that I will not be getting the bill in the mail. The memories stay more golden for me this way.
  9. My five year old walking around hollering “Freeeeedooommmmm!!!!!” or “I’m debt free!!!!!!!” from listening to Dave Ramsey’s free podcast with me in the car or while I’m on the treadmill is hilarious. But clearly he’s listening.
Comment Worthy:
Add a 10th thing to this list! What has been a fun and unexpected result of your debt freedom journey?

Stop Throwing it Out: Jumping Onboard the ‘Food Waste Friday’ Wagon

I love the blog The Frugal Girl. It’s a regular inspiration to me. I subscribe to this blog and it’s listed in my blogroll because I love what she does over there. She has a great regular Friday series called Food Waste Fridays. The point is to see where you’re throwing money away by letting something go bad in your refrigerator. You might be surprised to realize how much food you are tossing out on a regular basis. I know I was! And I’m pretty frugal to begin with. Food waste costs money. If you aren’t careful it can cost a lot of money over time. It has brought me to a new level of awareness on how to prevent losses by making sure I use food before it goes bad. The Frugal Girl has a call-out on her blog for other’s to jump on board with Food Waste awareness and I think it’s a truly worthy one so I’m giving it a shot today.

So how did I do this week?

My successes:

  • I managed to save half a carton of grape tomatoes that were starting to get just a tad wrinkly by tossing them in some olive oil and oven drying them. This is actually a great discovery for me. They turned out to be a fantastic snack to have on hand. My kids loved them and they are a great addition to a salad. If you haven’t tried oven dried grape tomatoes, they are really great.
  • I saved some blueberries and strawberries that had started to look ugly but were actually still smoothie worthy by popping them in a freezer bag for future smoothie creations.
  • I’ve also noticed I’m very close to the use by date on what’s left of a dozen eggs so we’ll be doing some baking today to use them up.

My failures:

  • The last fifth or so of a bottle of Pace Picante Salsa. It had gotten pushed to the back of the fridge because I’ve been making my own salsa lately. It had grown some green fuzzies inside. Pretty gross.
  • A small piece of chicken leftovers that didn’t make it into a sandwich of salad lunch.
  • The last couple of sips of a 7-Up we’d forgotten about since we almost never drink soda.
  • 2 containers of baby yogurt way past their use by date.
  • Half a lemon that didn’t get used and is just not salvageable.

Going forward:

At first glance this morning I thought I’d done pretty well. I thought it was only the small piece of chicken and the last fifth of the battle of salsa. But when I looked closer at my refrigerator contents I was pretty disappointed in myself. What a waste! It may be only a few cents here and there but it adds up. Clearly I need to work at this. Our biggest challenge seems to be things that get pushed to the back of the fridge. We seem generally to do well on using up our produce but not so well on the odd occasional items that we aren’t in the habit of using regularly (like soda or lemons). We need to do better!

Thank you to The Frugal Girl for helping me to be more aware of tossing money in my trash can! I think I’ll be jumping on board her call out every Friday to help keep me in check on reducing and hopefully reducing food waste in our household. It is not budget friendly to throw away food. We’re taking a use it or lose it philosophy with the food in our refrigerator from now on!

Comment Worthy:

So how about you? How aware of your food waste are you? Do you find yourself throwing away food you just didn’t use?

My first Food Waste Friday and not doing so well here. Let's hope next week is better.

Inspiration Thursdays: What Do You Call a Goal Without a Plan?

Because Thursday’s child has far to go…

When I lived in Tennessee there were more churches in my town, it seemed, than in any other place I’d ever lived. And nearly every church had a sign outside-the kind where they change the letters on it every week to let you know what’s going on or to give people driving by something to think about. A few years ago, driving down the road in the rain after having taken my kiddo to a Kindermusik class I saw a sign that said this:

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

It struck a chord with me. It’s been more than two years since I saw that sign and I still remember what it said. I don’t recall what church the sign was for or what day it was, only the general route I was driving, the rain…and this message. I remember laughing to myself about it at the time. It was so obvious! Wasn’t it? It was so on the mark! Right?

I read a blog post yesterday over on Simple Mom about living with intention and about having an intentional summer. I realized there were a lot of things I wanted to do to create wonderful summer memories for our family. But sure enough we are halfway through June and summer is slipping by. I have yet to accomplish any of the things I really would like to do for summer. Even the simple things. Again. It occurred to me that one more summer is just slipping by me with ideas just floating around in my brain. It became clear, reading that blog post that I have all these great intentions that are going nowhere! I sat back in my chair a minute and really thought about it. And that’s when I remembered the message on that sign outside the church. What I had on my hands was just a wish. I had no plan. And a goal without a plan really is just…a wish. For a minute I felt like I was failing my kids but the reality was, I was failing myself.

I decided, in that moment, to rectify the matter. I grabbed the closest pencil and a scrap of paper within reach and called my oldest over to me because my youngest can still only say things like “ddoowwwwww” which I’m not entirely sure means “dad” or “down” or “dog.” So while the littlest sat at our feet, I asked my oldest what he wanted to do everyday to make summer fun. You know what he said? He wants to walk the dog early in the morning when there are more birds out. He wants to paint the rock he found up in a mountain town near our home. He wants to do more art. He wants to swim and run in the sprinklers. And ride bikes to the library. These are such wonderful simple things. And they are now all on our list. We’re going to make a “summer board” to put up in the kitchen to keep us inspired this summer and keep making plans for these wishes so they become goals-attainable goals. And we’re going to have ourselves a wonderful memorable summer.

What wishes do you have, for summer or life in general, that need a plan?

Jumping into summer

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