Still Following Our Baby Steps

Good morning blog-o-sphere, here is an update on us and the last year.

As you know we are big Dave Ramsey fans.  We have paid off debt over the last 4.5 years and we have gained debt through the sale of our home, a major surgery, and now in an attempt to regain custody of my oldest.  Before discovering Dave Ramsey we had the typical consumer debts like a credit card and a couple of car loans.  We paid all of that in 11 months while we bought a house and my husband was working full time and going to college full time… and with a young baby.  We also found out we were expecting again during those 11 months.

We successfully paid of the $7,500 that we borrowed to avoid having to do a short sale on our home… It only took us 4 months!

Last July I had to have a major surgery.  All is well now and I feel better than ever.  But during that we had to pay our $10,000 deductible.  Ouch!  We worked hard and paid it off as fast as we could.  Then this May I got a call that yet another bill was coming in from it, 10 months later.  Luckily it was only for $13.80.  But still it felt like the surgery was stalking me.

This year we set out to regain custody of my oldest.  He is 8 and my ex husband got full custody during the divorce then gave guardianship to his parents.  So we thought it was about time that Mr. Picky get the opportunity to come live with me and our family.  Between lawyer fees and a court ordered family vacation to Southern California we have incurred more debt and sadly it is on a credit card.  We are skimping and saving and working hard to pay it down as fast as possible.  Obviously the lawyer charges more per hour than we can afford each month so we also have plans to do specific things to pay it down and hopefully get rid of it in the next year.  Some of our ideas are paying extra each month, getting rid of our iPhones, selling our second vehicle, and using our tax return toward it.  My husband also picked up an extra job as a College Instructor so the monies from that will go toward the debt.  We have even tossed around the idea of selling our custom built home, taking the equity, and buying something like a few acres with a home or even a duplex that could bring in an income.

Through all of this we are still grocery shopping with cash, using our envelopes, and not impulse buying anything.  It is as hard as ever but at least it has become a habit over the last couple of years.  We are still a single income family with one family vehicle and recently we added a puppy to our family dynamics.

I hope the last year has treated all of you readers well.  Have you experienced set-backs in your attempt to become debt free for life?

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Grocery Shopping Tips

All I knew when I began this challenge was that I needed to take a calculator with me to the store because I was going to take another bit of Dave Ramsey‘s advice, only shop with cash.  And by cash I mean we left debit cards at home and had 3 crisp twenty dollar bills in Michael’s wallet.

My first trip to the store with our new budget I had Amelia in my cart, a calculator in hand, a list of essentials woven between my fingers and a pen tucked in my pocket.  It was not easy for me to do this.  I do not enjoy talking finances, it always makes me feel awkward.  But I sucked it up and started weighing the fruit before putting it in my cart.  And nothing went in the cart without being added on the calculator.  Before the end of the trip it had become a game that I enjoyed.

Michael wanted me to remind everybody to round up when weighing your fruits and veggies, you will be much happier having a few extra cents for your coin jars than having to take something back at the checkout.  He likes to check around for a scale that is already zeroed out to make weighing easier.  When you need to calculate the price the formula is: +(Price per pound, such as $0.69) times (pounds, such as 2.75 for 2 and three quarters pounds)

1. Meal plan

2. Make a list

3. Shop with a calculator

4. Weigh your fruits and veggies

5. Round up

6. Cash only

7. Use your staples

8. Get creative

9. Always have a backup meal idea

10. Shop at an inexpensive store such as Winco Foods

The Challenge

The Challenge: Can our family of 4 eat 3 meals a day plus snacks, 7 days a week on only $60/ week? That is $8.57/day for all five of us.  Or $2.14/person per day.  When my son Mr. Picky is here we stick to the budget as well, this reduces it to $1.71/person per day.

The Reason: We took a loan to cover closing costs on the sale of our home.  Being huge fans of Dave Ramsey we wanted to pay the $7,800 off as quickly as possible.  We have always been pretty no-frills with the rest of our budget.  We have no credit cards or car loans, we do not subscribe to cable, none of us have expensive hobbies, and I also recently broke my fancy coffee habit.  The only place that we had an excessive amount of waste and needless spending was in our food budget each week.

Who We Are:  am Shea, I am 28 and my biggest jobs are raising The Kids and being a frugal homemaker by staying within our budget.  Michael is my Husband Extraordinaire, he is 30 and he works full time and comes home to be the Daddy Jungle Gym and Official Dishwasher.  Mr. Picky is Alexander, 8 3/4, his job is to play video games and critique my cooking.  The Girls are Amelia, 4 3/4, and Annabelle, 3, their jobs are to make messes, eat plenty, bicker, and be sweet little darlings.

Fun Family Facts: Our income is around the median family income for our area.  We recently moved to Oregon from San Diego.  Michael has a Bachelors of Science from Embry Riddle.  I love to knit and I dye all of my own yarns.  We have been married over 6 years and we have recently taken up running together for exercise.  We started this challenge at the beginning of December 2012 and we will continue for the foreseeable future because it has become a fun challenge.