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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Day 20 and I Learned Something Last Night

We drove to Drummond to the basketball game last night. We ate supper before we left. I was very tired and made the mistake of taking more money in than what we needed. I learned that when I'm very tired, it's very hard to resist hitting the concession stand. But thanks to Tom, we managed to get out of there without spending any money besides what it cost us to get in.

Today, we got the door covered with plastic. Then we went to Bob's during happy hour and treated ourselves to a pop! Not the same as Sonic of course, but not bad! Besides that, I've been working on homework, cleaning house a bit, and I started a turkey cooking. We're going to have some of it for lunch tomorrow, then I'll divide up and freeze the rest for other meals.

I'm going to get back to my homework now.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Day 19 and here comes the weekend!

Wow! I'm so glad it's Friday! It's been a pretty good week, and I've managed to actually get a bit of my homework done, but I always look forward to the weekend.

Let's review some of our successes. We are finishing up our second week of no Sonic drinks other than the two days that Tom got drinks before band practice. The last time we ate out was on our (almost) free date two weeks ago tomorrow. We are up to $280 in our baby EF, and I have sold two books on half.com this week. When that money gets deposited, I'll put it in the EF and it will bring it up another $60. I hate to brag on us (okay, really, I don't! LOL), but I'm so impressed with how we're doing on the EF. We never got more than $50-$100 in it last time we went through FPU. We also paid our house payment on time, saving ourselves stupid tax in the amount of $10. That also brought our total amount paid on debt up to $831.08!

I want to share another favorite crockpot recipe:

Lemon Pepper Chicken

chicken pieces (whatever your family likes, we like chicken breast)
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
lemon pepper

Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of the crockpot and pour the melted margarine on top. Sprinkle with the lemon pepper. Cook on high 4-6 hours or until done.

I can usually start this after lunch and it will be ready for supper, but as always, it depends on how fast your crockpot cooks. I love this recipe! The chicken is so moist and flavorful. It's good by itself as part of a meal, made into chicken noodles or cut up in a garden salad (that's my favorite way!). Today, I took a piece of leftover lemon pepper chicken, diced it up and added mayo, mustard, and onion to make chicken salad. It was very good that way too.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Day 18 and Valentine's Day

Wow! It occurred to me this morning that Valentine's Day is two weeks away. With our new get out of debt mindset, this needs to be a frugal Valentine's Day. Now I know there are many people who don't care about Valentine's Day, they think it's a commercial holiday invented by greeting card and floral companies and they're probably right. But I love Valentine's Day, especially with Tom. I have some very fond memories of some of our Valentine's Days. The first year we were together on Valentine's Day, (we'd been dating about 2 months), I was working as a manager at Wendy's restaurant in Enid (the old one where Urgent Care is now). Tom used to come in almost everyday at lunch and so I sent him a singing telegram that came in and sang to him right in front of everybody during the lunch rush. He has sworn revenge, but it's been 16 years, and I think he's forgotten (well, at least until he reads this post. LOL). Another one was when our kids were little and we were very broke AND dieting (LOL) and a friend offered to watch our kids (her husband was gone that evening), so we spent the evening at home eating Lean Pockets and watching TV. We were an instant family when we got married since I already had two kids, so those evenings alone when the kids were little were very precious. Last year, our church had a Valentine's banquet and Tom and I went. It was lots of fun, the food was good, there was lots of laughter, and we just really enjoyed ourselves.

So...what to do this year to make it special and keep it frugal? On the Living on a Dime site, Tawra has an article about "Valentine's Day on a Dime": http://www.livingonadime.com/articles/valentine.htm
The article has some great ideas. For us, I think I'll keep my ideas to myself (so that Tom can't read them ahead of time) and I'll share them afterwards.

On other things, I ended up having to go into Wal-Mart last night. I had a check to deposit in our bank account (and got the other $20 out to put in the EF-that brings it up to $280!), and while I was in town, I went to Wal-Mart because I needed a black ink cartridge ($21 for the "low-yield" cartridge) and generic Claritin ($18 for 120) for my allergies. I spent almost $60 in there on that stuff, milk, a 12 pack of Diet Dr. Pepper (that's one vice I haven't been able to give up yet), and a ream of paper. Well, it was cash, and they were planned expenditures. I bought only what was on my list and didn't waste any time even looking at anything else. Hey, I gotta celebrate where I can!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Day 17 and Being Organized

One thing I'm learning in this journey is that in order to keep up and do well, I'm going to have to be organized. I have so much going on in my life between my children, my job, my college stuff, my child care association obligations, and the mother's club that I belong to that some days it feels like all I can do to keep my head above water. Have you ever been so overwhelmed with everything that you have to do that you just can't do anything? That's how I feel some days.

In my quest to help myself keep organized, a few years ago, I discovered a website called www.flylady.net. Flylady is Marla Cilley and she is amazing. Several years ago, she decided to get her life organized and started a mailing list, now it's grown to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. She does sell stuff on her website in order to keep it free, but the basic service is still free-you never have to buy anything to use it. I highly recommend her website if you need help getting your home and life organized. Flylady's motto is "You can do anything for 15 minutes". I can't tell you how many big jobs (including my college homework) that has got me through.

Thanks again to all of my friends for your support! We went to another ballgame last night. Tom & I paid our way into the game and didn't spend anymore money on ourselves. I must confess though, I did give Josh a couple of dollars to get himself something to drink after his JV game.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Day 16 (part two!)

Oh, I forgot a couple of things on the first Day 16 post. Tom gave me $20 of his Christmas money for the EF, so that brings the total to $260! We'll be putting another $20 of Tom's Christmas money in (that he spent last week to get gas) once I get to the bank, so that will bring it up some more. I sold another book on half.com today, so once I get the money for that, it will bump it up a little bit more. We're making progress!

Day 16 and Late Fees (aka "Stupid Tax")

Tom & I had our "budget meeting" last night and talked about the February budget. I had done the best I could, but of course since I don't know how much some bills will be (like electric), I just had to wing it on those. I just have to keep reminding myself that it won't work right away. One thing we definitely agreed on, we need to get to where we pay all of our bills on time and quit paying late fees! I don't know how much we waste a month on that, but I'm guessing it's significant. Just off the top of my head, I know we've paid $20.50 late fees on our car payments, $10 late fees on our house payments, and 10% of the total on our electric bills. So that's an average of at least $45-$50 a month just on those three bills. The electric one especially can get you when it's summertime and you have a high bill! Dave Ramsey would call that (and the courtesy pay fees that I spoke of the other day) "Stupid Tax". Goodness knows we've paid a lot of it! So part of our plan for February is to work on getting those bills caught up and paid on time so that we can quit paying Stupid Tax. We've already got the house payment caught up, our next payment is due this week and we'll be paying it when I get paid on Friday.

I got the Christmas club account papers notarized, now I just need to make copies of our i.d.'s to send in with it and we'll be getting that set up and ready to go.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Day 15 and Doing a Budget

Our FPU homework this week is to do a budget for the next month. I've already started on it a little bit. The idea is to spend your money on paper before the month actually starts, then you'll have a plan. Dave says it won't work the first month, or the second month, it won't start really working until about 90 days of it. It's sticking with it that's important.

The nerd (that's me) is to prepare the budget, then have a 'budget committee meeting' with the free spirit (that's Tom) and go over the budget. This is hard for me, and I don't really know why. I can do the budget on paper, but for some reason when we sit down to talk about it, I get really sensitive and 9 times out of ten, we end up in an argument. So my goal is to really work on that, because we are on this together and arguing about it isn't going to get us through it. Talking and communicating about it will. If I can have the budget pretty much worked up by tonight, we can talk tonight and go over the budget and be ready for February 1st.

Now for some updates:
1. We didn't buy any extras at the ballgames that we went to last week!!! YAY for us! My goal is to do the same this week-only pay the entry fee to the game.

2. We didn't eat out at all last week or over the weekend. Tom didn't bring home any Sonic drinks, but we did agree that he could get one before he went to practice on Friday evening. When I went grocery shopping Friday night, I normally would have stopped for a drink at Sonic before I came home, but I didn't.

3. I have a menu planned up for this week and next week, plus got sandwich stuff and other easy stuff for ballgame nights.

4. We did not get the plastic over the back door yet, I was too buried in my homework, so I'll shoot for next weekend on that one.

5. I listed some books on Half.com to help with the EF (they haven't sold yet). I also listed some child care books in the swap shop corner of our association newsletter. I also hope to go through some toys and see if there's anything I can sell there. Goodness knows I have plenty of them. (just ask anyone who helped us move. LOL)

So goals for this week:
1. Continue to only eat at home and avoid Sonic drinks.
2. Get the plastic over the door by next weekend.
3. Work on getting the Christmas club account set up.
4. Finish up cash flow plan and have budget committee meeting.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Day 14 and Feeling Blessed

I am feeling especially blessed today. I still wasn't done with my homework when I went to bed at 11:00 last night. But I was so tired that I couldn't even think for another minute and I wasn't getting anywhere at all anyway. When I went to bed, I was thinking that I wouldn't go to church this morning (so that I wouldn't miss FPU tonight) and finish my homework. However, I got up and did my Bible study and prayed about my homework. When I sat down, the words finally came and I had two pages written before time to go to church. I went to church, we had a great lesson on faith in Sunday school, and then we sang my favorite hymn in church. My favorite hymn is "How Great Thou Art". My heart just felt so full as we sang it. I was really glad that I went to church.

Tonight is the 3rd FPU class at church. The lesson tonight is on "Cash Flow Planning" aka budgeting. Looking back over the last two weeks since we started the class, I can't believe all that the Lord has accomplished in our lives. I pray that we continue to do as well.

Have a great week everyone!