Tag Archives: budget

Settling In

Even with all of the craziness that has been going on, we are really starting to settle in.

Tennessee is really growing on us. We will always miss AZ and there will probably be things that are always going to be ‘better in AZ,’ but it’s finally good here too. We’ve made some friends, joined a small group at church, gotten to know our way around and now bought a home!

The place we rented was in a great location and it was in the perfect place to get to know the area. And it was a huge blessing, but we were ready for something that was ours.

We’ve been in our house for a little over a month now and it’s perfect! We still have to really make it our own, but that’s ok. Knowing that we are actually living on a budget and have a plan for our money makes this time around so much more fun! I still have to wait to do things like paint and get a real dining room set, but there is actually a budget category for it and not just a “I hope we can do that someday.”

These are just the pictures from the Realtor, so it’s not our furniture, but you get the idea!


Budget Friendly Green Tips for the Home

I love to research, I love to teach and since I write a blog, I obviously love to share.

Here are my top tips for being budget friendly and trying to be a little green. These are some of the things we actually do. Which means they are cheap, easy, and they work. Because we don’t have time for anything else.

1. Making our own deodorant.

Coconut oil + essential oils + cornstarch (arrowroot powder) and baking soda. I do leave out almost all of the baking soda because it really irritates my armpits. It doesn’t bother Damien at all. He loves tea tree and peppermint in his and I use only lavender since peppermint oil can reduce my milk supply. It is not an antiperspirant, but the deodorant works great. And Damien loves it. Which means it must really work.

2. ‘Make’ our own foaming hand soap.

We buy Dr. Bronner’s soap in the big bottles and mix it with equal parts water and a little bit of olive oil (to keep the pump working smoothly) and it works great. I’ve heard of adding tea tree, but that would take more effort on my part. We just reuse a foaming pump from one of the store green brands after we finished it.

3. Cloth diapering.

I know it’s not for everyone, and my intimidation factor with starting was super high, but after 2.5 years, it has been so worth it! We’ve spent well under $1000 to diaper two kids. And once you get started, it’s not nearly as big of a deal as you thought. Just a little time spent learning about it and how to properly do the laundry will save you thousands of dollars PER KID!

4. Cutting out processed foods, especially snack foods like granola bars.

I’ve always been under the impression that eating super healthy has to be more expensive. While it is definitely true that fruits and veggies are costly (especially if you buy organic), I have noticed a drop in our grocery budget when I stopped buying things like granola bars. They are often not very healthy at all and the cost adds up quickly. Same with junk food snacks like cookies, chips, and ice cream. They are often very expensive and it’s easy for me to overindulge. If I buy apples, they may cost a little more, but I’ll go through them more slowly.

5. Breastfeed.

Well, the obvious answer here is it’s free! And it’s the exact formula God made. You can’t really go wrong with that.

6. White Vinegar

This stuff is amazing! It’s the best toilet bowl cleaner I’ve ever used, it removes soap scum like nobody’s business and it removes hard water buildup on things like faucets. They should empty the cleaning aisles and just stock vinegar. Seriously. And to combat the lovely aroma, just save citrus peels in a mason jar, fill with vinegar, let it sit for a few weeks and voila! citrusy vinegar. It also works great as a laundry stain remover and just a general counter/table cleaner.

7. Make our own soda water (and not drink soda).

We finally(!!) made ourselves give up soda. It took a while, but we grew to like just plain soda (carbonated) water. Once we knew we liked it long term, we wanted to stop buying the bottles from the store since it can actually be more expensive than soda if you’re not careful! I researched the SodaStream and each liter would only cost $0.25. Since we were paying double that, and sometimes more, we grabbed a machine on Craigslist with two of the CO2 cartridges which saved us even more. We have been using it for a few months now and it’s awesome. It not only works great, but we get to use our better tasting filtered water and it is so convenient to never really run out. We can always just make more in a few seconds. If you like soda water or even want sodas without high fructose corn syrup, I would totally recommend the SodaStream.

I’m looking to add more things to my hippie green list, but we add things in slowly. We do use natural products in the shower, but have not gone the no-poo super cheap way yet. I plan on trying it out in the coming months. Right now we use shampoo and conditioner from the Honest Company thanks to special coupons and other discounts. Another thing I’m hoping to try is oil cleansing for our face and trying activated charcoal for teeth whitening. I would also love to try un-paper towels in the kitchen.

Fixing Up the House

Before we left Flagstaff, we had a few home improvement projects to do. We were able to make enough cash from our garage sale to completely fund everything we needed to do! Below I’ll show some before and afters. A few years ago we painted the exterior and now along with these projects, the whole house got a fresh coat of paint inside.

It was so bittersweet to finally complete the projects we wanted to just so we could sell it, but that’s how it goes sometimes. We are super excited about this opportunity to do things over. Next time around we’ll be saving for a much larger down payment (at LEAST 20%) and we’ll have the money to do projects if necessary in an actual planned amount of time. The beauty of living on a written budget every month is that now I know that saving that much money is not impossible and I can easily see which things I’m willing to sacrifice in order to make it happen.

Another great thing we learned was that most of the projects that seemed very intimidating or daunting were so much easier than we thought. We had been delaying on several things because they would be a huge expense or just way too difficult. In the end, we completed everything in one weekend! We had help from my awesome cousins, but it was still done in less time and for less money than I had imagined. Going forward we will both be much more willing to jump into projects and get things done.

Financial Peace University is Starting Soon!

After taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University last summer, we felt led to lead a class of our own and it’s starting soon. Taking FPU was a life changer. For the first time, we took the things we knew we should be doing, combined with a bunch of new things we learned, and actually DID them. The group setting and class structure helped to keep us accountable. We actually wrote out and followed a budget for the first time. We made the decision to sell a bunch of stuff in order to get out of debt. We are now working on building an emergency fund. It is a totally different experience when you know you have the money to pay your bills and handle life’s hiccups. Throughout our married lives, God has blessed us immensely and I’m disappointed to report that we wasted a lot of it. God calls us to be good stewards with everything he gives us and that definitely includes our money. Now we have hope, and more importantly, a plan. We still mess up and make bad decisions, but we aren’t spending money we don’t have. Cutting up and closing all our credit cards keeps us honest. We actually CAN’T spend money we don’t have. We are responsible for planning and saving for emergencies. February is the 9th month we’ve budgeted through and it’s still a process. We are way faster at it and have a much better idea of what we spend on things, but it still requires dedication. I’m most excited about teaching this class so we can get back some of the intensity we had while paying off debt to help us finish the emergency fund. I don’t need that *thing* now. I need to provide for my family. If you have the opportunity to take FPU, or just read The Total Money Makeover, it can change your future.

Our class starts in two weeks from today! For more information about classes in your area, check out the class finder on Dave’s site.