Home Buying, Goals, & Contentment

What?!  This blog is suppose to be about a crazy family of 6 living in a remodeled RV. Homebuying??

Well since we moved to Florida 2 months ago, there have been all sorts of changes.Continue Reading

You Need a Budget ~ Really You Do

Budgets sound so boring don’t they?!  The idea of budgeting sounds restrictive.  It sounds anti-fun.  It speaks “nerd”.  But if you want to have any control over your spending, you need a budget.Continue Reading

$20 to Spend on Pampered Chef – What Would You Buy?

Since we have cut back and want to spend our money more wisely, I thought I’d address one of my weaknesses.  Pampered Chef.

pampered-chef-on-a-budget

I’m not a consultant, nor have I ever been one (though I did con my mom into being one so I could split the consultant package with her when she deactivated).

I’ve used my fair share of Pampered Chef over the past 15 years

Which brings me the question, what are the most worthwhile Pampered Chef products?  Or if you had $20 to spend on Pampered Chef, what would you buy?

I attended a Pampered Chef party recently.  I’ve been to like 300 cooking “shows.”  Okay, maybe not.  But I have been to a few.  There are some real nice kitchen tools that are worth the added expense, but some of the items are too over-priced in my humble opinion.

My absolute favorite, budget-friendly Pampered Chef items they would have to be the following

Mix N Masher – $11.50 This is by far, my favorite Pampered Chef item.  So much so, that I talked about it here.

pampered-chef-mix-n-masher

Garlic Press – $16.50 I like that this press is all one piece and you don’t have to peel the garlic clove. It also comes with a nifty brush to clean out the garlic and that brush stores in the handle of the press.

pampered-chef-garlic-press

Batter Bowl – $16.00 I’m sure you can get a knock off of this but $16 is very affordable and you can even bake with it if you want.  It has a lid, handle, & pour spout.  Convenient.

pampered-chef-classic-batter-bowl

Serrated Peeler – $8.50 I prefer this style of peeler for apples, potatoes, or carrots.  I’ve bought other peelers, one was Michael Graves Design and the other was Tupperware – both failed and broke.

pampered-chef-serrated-peeler

Whisk – $13.50 I’ve had other whisks and they were junk.  They fell apart at the base or didn’t have enough bend in the wires be effective. This one is so nice and perfect in weight and for whipping.

pampered-chef-stainless-steel-whisk

Nylon Pan Scrappers – $3 These come in a set of 3.  I use them to clean my stoneware as well as my stainless steel pans (not Pampered Chef)  These are sturdy and inexpensive.

pampered-chef-pan-scrapers

My list is practical, conservative, under $20, and budget-friendly.  I’ve obviously NOT tried everything Pampered Chef but these are my favorites.

Did I miss something on my list of affordable Pampered Chef items?

 

Groceries and How We Stick to Our Budget

Family of 6. Living in an RV.  Little storage space.  Smaller fridge/freezer. Maybe you’re wondering how we do our groceries.

making your grocery budget work

A couple things have changed since we moved into the camper.  Basically we shop more often and don’t stock up on deals we come across.  Below is a simple breakdown of what we do for our family.  (And by we, I mean I)

Our Budget

Mark gets paid every 2 weeks and we promptly take out $400.  Yep…lots of money right?? It seems like it to me, maybe it’s not to you dear reader.  But that’s what we can afford for our little big family.  This covers all toiletries, puppy expenses, groceries, cleaning products, diapers, etc.

Now some of you may say, sheesh….your kids are small, how much can they really eat?? Oh do not let their size fool you!  Eva could eat almost anyone under the table any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  I kid you not.

Zero Coupons

We mostly try to stay away from prepackaged and processed foods.  Many coupons are for those convenience items so the bulk of coupons are not applicable to our eating style.

There are coupons out there that I would totally use.  I really would.  But I ALWAYS forget to use them.  It never fails.  So I *almost* avoid coupons.  Sounds silly I’m sure but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten something just because I had a coupon.  I’ve been burned and I have now developed an aversion to coupons.  I used to coupon all the time when I had 2 kids but it’s true what they say, you lose brain cells when you are pregnant and I’ve had 4 kids people!!

Cash System

I pay for ALL of our household needs using cash.  I was tempted to get a credit card for all my purchases because we get pretty sweet rewards through our bank.  Yeah, we could earn points/$ but the temptation to overspend or stretch into the next pay period was too great.  In the end we decided the negatives outweighed the benefits.

Let me just be real and tell you that I don’t really like this part of our plan, the cash ONLY system.  There are times I want to purchase coconut oil off Amazon or buy some herbs/supplements online.  It takes some preplanning and conversing with the hubsters, (like that’s a bad thing right?).  I have misplaced money before and that just STINKS.  Still it’s the best option for me and if I don’t have the cash I don’t get it.  Which brings me to…

Strict Budget

I use to be all prideful and ashamed to tell a cashier I needed to put something back.

Try it.

Just once.

But don’t you dare explain to him/her that you have money in your bank account just not “grocery” money for that item you need to put back.  Not that I’ve ever done that before.

At first I was embarrassed but I decided to get over my “image”, whatever that is/was. And why I even cared what my friendly cashier thought about my money situation is beyond me!

Weekly Meal Planning

I plan all the meals out weekly.  I can’t say I like this part of the deal either but I have NOT planned the meals out in the past and it is beyond frustrating figuring out what we are going to eat for din din.  If I wing it, inevitably forget something from the store or some obscure ingredient.  Then I have to go to the store again and buy even more extras we didn’t really need.

Weekly Shopping

I use to shop for 2 weeks at a time, but I actually prefer going weekly.  It’s like spa time going to the store and I can readjust the meal plan if we ended up not needing all the groceries I had gotten the previous week.  It seems as though we are wasting less and really only buying what we are going to use in that 1 week time frame.

Minimal Pantry

We obviously have limited space in the camper, though admittedly, as far as campers go, we have tons of space. Still I keep a few things on hand and just buy the canned goods as needed.  Some staples I keep on hand besides baking and cooking supplies are crackers, tuna, coconut milk, peanut butter, marshmallows, and any bulk items I’ve purchased from Azure Standard.

Freezer Space

Friends are letting us store our grassfed beef in their freezer since we order it once a month.  I’m hoping to squeeze it into our freezer but we’ll see.

Other than beef, we just pretty much stay on top of what is in the freezer.  We buy it, we eat it.  Pretty simple.

 

So that’s what I do.  Somethings we’ve been doing for years…the limited space and weekly shopping is a new thing.  I use to stock up when something was on sale, now that is not an option.  We keep as little as possible on hand and try to only buy what we need for any given week.  We’re not perfect about it but I think it’s something you just learn and get accustomed to as you go.

Do you have any tips to share to stay on budget?  Do you have a grocery budget?

 

Combined Debt Payoff Update ~ Working on the Final Debt

We have great news on the Combined Debt Payoff!!

3-Families-Debt-Free-TogetherThe third family is on their FINAL debt ~ a student loan for $33K and their van was just paid off!

So far, all 3 families have paid about $31K in debt for the past 7 months!  That’s a whole lot of moolah!

Some may ask how this all works out so well?

Accountable. All 3 families are close friends, we see each other on a regular basis (at least weekly).  We’re not out buying new cars or anything and we’re respecting one another to stick to the plan.

Disciplined.  This is the “just like you” part of the post.  I will say that Mark and I are LEARNING to be disciplined with our money.  Because of our downsized life, we have extra money we intended to put toward the debt.  But several things have come up, unexpected trips, van repairs, camper freeze issues, needing new jeans because of post baby body.  Little by little the extra cash has trickled away.  We are motivated and rejuvenated and making better decisions.

*  One thing I’ll say works better for us is that we have been consulting our financial advisors friends about more of our money decisions. (And let me just say that there are some HUGE ones in the works that I’m very excited about but refuse to spill the beans just yet).

Committed. We each look at the $800/month contribution as a bill.  A non-negotiable bill. We’re committed to seeing everyone debt free and by golly it’s happening.

Motivated. We’re in this together and we see debt melting away at a much faster pace than if we were to do this on our own. That is motivating friends. I cannot tell you how unbelievably blessed we are to see burdens lifted and doors open because of the debt being gone.

Where We Stand With Our Goal

Aside from our monthly contributions to the debt, our next big pay down will be with the tax returns.  Come on W-2’s and bank statements!!  We’re hoping to get $10K between the 3 families so we can knock the final student loan way down.

We had some things fall through at the end of year as far as extra income.  That along with the extra $3K on the student loan adds 2 more months onto the payoff (the 10 month plan). But on the bright side, we had originally planned for 15 months.

All this to say, we couldn’t be happier with where everything stands and see light at the end of the tunnel.

We welcome any questions about this whole debt thing.  The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we appreciate the support.  We’ll update on the debt as things change.  Thank you for the support!

Blessings to You!

Julie-Signature

 

 

How We’re Dealing with a Serious Case of Buyer’s Remorse

Money

(Image Source: 401kcalculator.org)

Money can be a tough thing to talk about.  Since we shared the about the combined debt payoff, we really want to be transparent about our money and hopefully help and encourage others.

Truth be told, we fail in the finance department frequently.  This is not meant to be a self-condeming post at all, just an honest one.

Buyer’s Remorse

It hit us square in the face the past couple of weeks.  You know those days when it was 20 degrees?  Well we were having some SERIOUS regrets.

Regrets that we didn’t buy a used camper.

Regrets that we didn’t spend half the money we did.

Regrets that we didn’t save up and pay cash.

Now don’t get me wrong, we love what we’re doing and we love our camper.  Our regrets were purely financial.

In the whole scheme of things, we’re on the fast track to being mobile, we just see how the amount of debt is still slowing us down.  There are multiple ministries we’d love to go and help out with but are unable to do so just yet.

Decision Time

Let’s backtrack though to 2 nights before our camper was delivered.

Mark was reading a forum on RVing and figured out the size of truck we will need to pull this beast.  A 3500.  Ugh.  I immediately got cold feet and asked Mark if we could cancel our RV.  Neither of us wanted to cancel it, but both of us wanted to stop the process right then and there.

I had already had some reservations about the money for it and now the cost for a big enough truck was another factor.  In addition, it ended up costing us more than we thought it would after all the taxes, awnings, extended warrantees, & options.

We laid in bed discussing the situation.

How were we going to pay it off quickly?

What was a reasonable amount of money to budget for a truck?

Could we even cancel the RV?

We had renters moving in to our house in 2 weeks.  What on earth were we going to do?

Needless to say, we consoled ourselves and felt like we were stuck, I think the RV was scheduled to leave the wholesaler early the very next morning and our salesman was not working at that late hour in the night.

Desperate Times = Desperate Measures

So this past week, I actually *almost* conceded to Mark taking a job overseas for a year.  A year away from us so we could pay everything off and have a good savings.

But that was in a moment of panic.  A few days later, when I woke up in the morning, I was overwhelmed with peace.

Peace that our Heavenly Father was going to take care of us.  I was impressed with the words, “You haven’t even asked me to help you!  Ask me.”

So now that the dust has settled…

What would we or should we do when faced with another big financial decision?

  1. Pray.
  2. Wait – don’t rush.
  3. Ask others for advice.
  4. Don’t ignore our gut.
  5. Move on if a mistake was made.

Where are We Today?

So that big ole’ number 5…

Move on.

Mistake.

We firmly believe we made a mistake in buying our camper.  Pretty humbling to admit this to whoever may be reading, but we do.  Had we lowered our standards for a camper, we would be on the road by the end of summer.  As it stands we will be here (realistically) for 2 years.

We’ve thrown around the idea of paying down on our camper and selling it for a less expensive & used model.  Right now our focus is finishing the combined debt payoff. Still, we’re praying and keeping our options open.

We are choosing to not dwell on our mistake.  It’s remarkably easy to beat yourself up for the mistakes you’ve made.  We are choosing to look ahead rather than behind.

We are trusting in God to supply all our needs and to take care of us.  I don’t know how this all plays out but one thing I know is He loves us and He IS GOOD!

So there you have it.  One final thought on the matter, we all make mistakes.  But the question to ask is, do we learn from them and turn them into something positive? Let’s hope we do.

 

*UPDATE*  We bought a used Class A for a super price, you can read about it, here.  We’ve listed our camper for sale and are busy focusing on renovating the newly purchased Class A for full-time living.