Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish all my NSM friends a blessed Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Got The Job!!!

It is true, I got the job I interviewed for last week...yee haw!!!

I am praising God for this blessing and rejoicing about this opportunity. Now I have three weeks to prepare for my first day of work. There is lots to be done over this time period in preparation of me being gone for more than eight hours a day. Things I should have probably worked on sooner but now I have the swift quick in the butt I needed, plus motivation that I've needed because I am employed!!!

My husband is still on the job hunt. Now he wil have to turn his focus onto jobs that will work with my schedule. It is my job that has excellent health benefits, the best yet since our days in the military where we didn't ever have to make a co-payment for an appointment or pay for a prescription. We are beyond thrilled with the health benefits we will be getting!

Getting this job also means we can stay right where we are and not have to move. Which totally delights our children. God is good, all the time. Things don't always happen in our time, but they do happen. Prayer and a patient heart, are two things that have gotten me through this time in our lives. My relationship with God has grown. We have received many blessings that have helped us out a lot. And having a well stocked pantry has been vital for my family. Foodstamps doesn't give you enough to feed your family but it does help. Having a well stocked pantry helped tremendously so we would have enough for feeding our family. I am grateful to God for placing on my heart the need to build a large pantry. At the time I didn't know why I needed to do this, just that I needed to and am now so glad I listened. It truly made up the difference for our family.

Now I can rejoice in His blessing...

I have a job!!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My first interview in over 13yrs.

It has been eight months since my husband was let go from his job and I had my first interview. I've applied for many jobs in our town, even outside of our area and in other states...not a single bite. Until last week. Wow, what a process it is trying to get back into the working community.

One of the best businesses in our town is hiring right now for various positions. I felt at ease with applying for a couple of the positions. Confident I could do each job very well. In times past I was never comfortable with the thought of working at all because I was either pregnant or nursing a baby. And I just wasn't ready. Those days are gone now and we are in a different phase, season of our lives. Which is very bittersweet for me. Yet, I am very much at peace with the possibility of working again. Even a little excited about it!

So, this process was none like I've ever experienced before. After the common submitting of an application and resume which was not the easiest thing to do since I haven't worked in over 13 years was completed, I was called to take a test. I initially didn't think much about it but then quickly remembered I am a horrible test taker! EEK!! After some great encouragement from my husband and my best friends I went with confidence that I would do good. And I did! Much to MY surprise I was called for an interview for this past Monday. So much goes through ones mind for their first interview in all these years.

What do I wear?
Do I need to color my hair because I think I might see some grey?
What kind of questions will I be asked and will I answer them well?

Oh my, I was so worked up for this interview! I interviewed with two individuals who traded off asking me questions. That was interesting because I wanted to give each person my full attention but couldn't. I had to divide my attention between the two adults. Sort of like I have to do with my seven children, so it wasn't an extremely difficult task to do. Once the interview was over with I had the pleasure of taking a second test! Ugh, not what I was hoping to do. I was in the building for over two hours, which felt much longer than it actually was. I ran a couple of errands afterwards, made dinner and talked to my husband about my interview. Then a hard crash hit me and I had a tension headache so I went to bed had been a very hard day for me apparently. (Giggle...)

Now I wait. I wait and pray that the Lord's will be done. The two postions consist of one full-time and the other part-time. Ideally I would like to work full-time to receive benefits but I will be just as happy to get the part-time job. Either one will be just fine with me.

Wish me luck and pray for me. I will let ya know if I get a job offer!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's been a year...

It has a been year since I first thought of doing a 'No Spend Month'. Wow, how the time flies. It was that little voice from the Lord that told me to change my spending habits. To build up my stored food pantry because something was on the horizon. My first thought was some natural event was coming that would keep us from being able to go to the grocery store. Maybe a blizzard or an illness in our family. Even scarier, maybe an attack on our country. Well, none of those happened and I am quite thankful. What happened though, has made this past year the most challenging time in my husband became unemployed.

I didn't see the wisdom in preparing for such an event before now. I took for granted his job and paycheck. Yes, I did pay off a good amount of debt in my first month of doing a 'No Spend Month'. I just wish I'd started this sooner. If I would have been more finacially savvy and responsible, we would be in a better situation right now. Now eight months later my husband is still unemployed. We've done our very best to keep our family above water. With the help of some loving friends and family whom we could never had without, we are doing okay.

We have all learned to do without a lot of things. We've learned to cook a lot more economically than we've ever done in times past. We've learned to enjoy our time as a family without cable TV which used occupy a lot of our time. I always tell my kids, 'What doesn't' break us, will make us stronger.' We have not been broken yet. Infact, we are getting stronger!

I can definitely say I look at life differently than I ever have before. That is a good thing. With times being tough for a lot of us I will always plan for the unexpected, no matter what that may be. If you aren't having any financial difficulties you may want to get a head of the game and better your situation now.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Winter preparations for lower heating bills...

We live in what I like to affectionately call 'the frozen tundra'. It can get brutally cold up here in northern Minnesota. Any little space that air can get through into your home will make your home cold and increase your heating bills.

With many of us dealing with under/unemployment we don't have much money to spend on high electric/heating bills. I have enjoyed a low electric bill this summer, it wasn't much more than $100.00 each month...wonderful! That is all over now. We are getting down into the mid 20's for a low and just above freezing for a high. We had to do something about keeping us warm this winter while keeping our expenses down. Here is what we've done so far...

1. We put up Energy Film on our windows that are old and have leaks that allow cold air to come into our home. I found this film in Walmart and have seen a noticeable improvement already!

2. Then my husband bought some expanding foam to help seal up the window frames and door frames. It isn't very expensive so we thought it worth a try in helping to keep our heating bills down.

3. Next we bought a portable heater for our living room, which is our coldest room when we are having cold temps below -15. Our radiant ceiling heater doesn't do a great job and works far to hard to heat that room, which means a high electric bill. So far with this portable heater we have not had to turn on our heat in that room.

4. Warm bedding and pj's for everyone! And that means fleece pj's for everyone because it is warmer than flannel in my opinion. This may be a no brainer for many but I wanted to mention a wonderful find I discovered recently, fleece sheets! Now, we haven't bought these yet. I am hoping to use some anniversary money we got to buy these for my bed and my teenage daughter's bed. I have touched them in the store and they will be a lot warmer than flannel sheets. That means being able to keeping the heat down during the night.

I am sure we will do more than the above, but this is just a start. And with money being limited our preparations are slow going and have to be done very wisely.

I would love to hear what you've done for winterizing your home.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Twelve days of doing SwagBucks...

Just thought I would give you a brief update on how I am doing with Swag Bucks. I currently have 11 bucks. Close to one buck a day, but I admit there were some days I didn't visit the swag bucks website. So I think if I did visit at least once a day I should be able to get more swag least I think I could.

I am please to see how easy it actually is and the bucks are starting to add up. Not bad for doing very little.

Have a great day!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Have you heard of SWAGBUCKS?

I recently learned of SWAGBUCKS from a friend. I had never heard of it until today. So what is SWAGBUCKS you ask? Well from what I understand it is a site that gives you bucks/points that you can redeem for merchandise or gift cards or many other things. Check the site out, it is really neat. Anytime you use a search engine like Google or do it on SWAGBUCKS to earn is that easy. You can also promote it on your blog, like I have done and if your readers go through your widget, you get points if they sign up! You can also earn points by referring people to sign up.

In this time of economic difficulties for many of us, trying something like this is a no brainer for me. If I can earn points while doing what I normally do anyway, then redeem those points for free gift cards for say...Amazon, I am doing it! Lord knows we could put those gift cards to good use with my husband being unemployed. Whether it is $10, $20, or $50...every little bit helps. Doesn't it?

So, I encourage you the check out SWAGBUCKS, you have nothing to lose but much to gain! And if you click on the ad on the right I will get referral points...just sayin' if you decide to register.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sorry for being MIA.

It has been a difficult few weeks in my home. For one, MY laptop died!!! It was working one minute and the next it was gone. As it was we were down to two computers in the house, mine and my teenage daughter's. Her's was on its last leg and today, her laptop died. I tell ya these things don't last much longer than two years it seems. So sad! Naturally she is feeling lost now that her 'best friend' is gone. And this just one day after we were up and running with a refurbished desktop computer we were blessed with by a family member. Now we are down to one computer, again...sigh.

Adding to the computer crisis, four of my children have been sick for the last 11 days. I suspect it is the 'swine flu', albeit very mild. I don't mind so much if it is the H1N1 flu. I'd rather we all get it now while it is mild because it may mutate to a stronger virus this flu season. I don't plan on any of us getting the vaccine, I don't agree with vaccines, but that is a whole other topic.

I hope to be getting back to blogging soon. Just trying to figure this whole computer situation out. And soon because school starts in September and two of my kids that I homeschool do their math online. It really is an excellent program and one I don't want to discontinue. If you are intersted here is the website... ALEKS math.

Until next time,


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bulk Cooking Weekend - Monthly Plan

Today I will be baking 10 dozen muffins (6 dozen apple and 4 dozen blueberry) and 6 dozen biscuits. These are great to bake and freeze because you can pull out 1-2 muffins/biscuits, pop them into the microwave for 20 seconds and they come out hot and fresh. YUM!

You will find all my muffin recipes and biscuit recipe on my cooking blog...Cookin' Cheap.

Tomorrow I will be making triple batches of black bean soup, taco soup, beef stew and chicken noodle (I will not add the noodles until the day we will eat it). I will place the soups/stew in ziploc freezer bags, lay them flat on one another and into the freezer they go!

I will also be preparing 6 pounds of taco meat (half ground beef and half ground turkey) and 10 dozen meatballs.

Have a lovely weekend all!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Adding to this months 'plan'...

I wanted to stop in briefly to add to my 'plan' for July. At the moment my parents are visiting for the week so I won't have the time to blog daily but I did want to add that we are going to be building a small chicken coop. To house about 7-10 chickens. We had built an 8x12 coop to house 27 chicks we had bought. Unfortunately we had to sell them because we didn't know if we would be staying in our home or not. Plus we needed the money. We still don't know, but I have to tell you...we miss those chickens somethin' awful! So, we are going to build a small coop with some left-over scraps of material we had from the last coop. I think my husband will be successful, he is a great coop builder!

The next thing we would need to do is buy some chickens. Not sure how we will get money for that just yet, but I am praying about it.

Enjoy the week and I will post again on Friday (my parents leave that day) about my bulk cooking weekend!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 1st...plan for the month.

It is a new month and I thought I would share my plan (which is still a work in progress) for the month with all of you. I do believe it is helpful to see what others are doing to make ends meet, which can be inspiring. I hope by posting this it will get your creative juices flowing!

1. Make monthly menu

2. Try to save $100.00 worth of food for our emergency preparedness pantry.

3. Plan out my bulk cooking weekend for July 11 & 12.

4. Continue selling items in attempt to get our utility bills current (especially before winter comes again)

5. Figure out how to school our three kids in the fall...borrow/purchase curriculum.


This is just a start. I will add to this as the month goes on.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

How are YOU surviving unemployment?

I know many following my blog are dealing with a spouse being unemployed. Which is very hard to do, don't I know it! So, please share with us what you are doing to survive unemployment.

1. How are you paying your bills?

2. How are you dealing with the emotions one feels by being unemployed?

3. If you have children, how much do they know about what is going on?

4. Are you able to preserve your credit or is it in the 'pits'?

5. Have you grown stronger in faith during this trial?

Here are the answers to my own questions...

1. We are paying our bills late each month. I am selling just about anything we don't need. We've had a yard sale and that paid to get our garbage service back. We have some wonderful friends who have blessed us in various ways. There is nothing better than great friends and I feel so fortunate to have 2 GREAT friends. We've received money and gift cards from these friends, with no expectations. It is so humbling because I've always been the giver when we had income. I've always been the one to bless another in need and now I am on the receiving end.

2. It is hard to deal with the emotions of unemployment. We have our days where we are feeling low and hopeless. We have our days when we are feeling full of hope. On the not so good days we do a lot of praying, but we also vent to one another. I think venting can be good to get things off your chest. Just so long as you can come out on the other end feeling relieved. Some can't vent and that is okay. Know your limitations.

3. We have seven children and the four younger ones have no idea what is going on. The three older ones do and we are very open with them about our financial situation. We don't believe in hiding these things from them.

4. Our credit is in the pits. That is just the after effect of a job loss. When I started this blog I was on a strict budget to get our debt paid-off. Not that we had a lot of debt. Just enough that would take us 18months to pay-off. We can't preserve our credit because we don't have enough money coming in. Even with our friends offering financial help, it still isn't enough...but we are grateful for any help that they have given. More than they can ever know.

5. I would say we have definitely grown stronger in our faith. Though it has been rocky at times, we have still grown. The Lord has shown us that our life could be much worse and He has shown us that it is okay to accept help from others. That was a huge step for me to take. We've always worshiped as a family but I think in these last few months our worship time has looked different. We praise the Lord for all things good and bad. I think we sometimes forget to praise Him when things are bad. He knows what is ahead so He could very well be saving us from something much worse. Giving thanks in all situations is what we have been learning.

So friends, share your experience for those who are going through the same thing. Offer words of encouragement and prayers. Lets lift each other up to the Lord...we are stronger in numbers. He hears our prayers. Anything else you'd like to add is welcome, we'd love to hear it.

You are all in my prayers...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Yard Sale!

We are having a yard sale this weekend. I sure don't like all the work in preparing for a yard sale, I must admit. I do however, like making money and decluttering my home, so I do it.

This week we've been busy preparing for our yard sale. I've purged closets and dresser drawers. Gone through my kitchen cabinets and linen closet. We are even hoping to sell some bulky furniture that we don't 'need'.

We made flyers this time and put an advertisement in out little newspaper. The only thing I am concerned about is the timing, as it is Father's Day weekend. Oh well, I am just going to have to trust that the Lord is going to take care of it all.

I've been told be many locals that everyone loves yard sales here, so I am hopeful. Plus, I have a great friend who works at a local bank who has been spreading the word too.

Wish us luck on our yard sale tomorrow!

Have a lovely weekend and Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Attitude ~

The definition of 'attitude' in the dictionary reads...

1. manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind: a negative attitude; group attitudes.
2. position or posture of the body appropriate to or expressive of an action, emotion, etc.: a threatening attitude; a relaxed attitude.

As a Christian our attitudes show others a lot about our faith, how well we deal with a difficult situation, and if we are trusting in God. Trusting in God is a very difficult thing when times are tough...and boy do I know it! Still, His word says...

Psalm 112:6-8 (New International Version)

6 Surely he will never be shaken;
a righteous man will be remembered forever.

7 He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.

8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear;
in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.

Pretty powerful words, yes?

~ Example ~

Today, I had an inquiry on some books I am selling. I was thrilled to get that email today. After corresponding back with the buyer, she decided to not buy the books. Usually I would be crushed by this...I needed that money to pay a bill! But I said, no I am not going to let this bring me down. This has to be satan taking my focus off the Lord and I can't receive His blessings if I am not focused on Him. I rebuked satan that second and praised the Lord for the buyer who inquired. I was feeling very good and full of hope to see how the Lord was going to provide for our needs.

Then an hour later I received another email from a potential buyer for the same books and a few more. This buyer did buy the books and her purchase was more than the first buyer! Not only did the Lord cover what the first buyer was going to spend, but He gave us more! Wow...I was/am so thrilled!! Praise the Lord!!!

I wanted to blog about attitudes today because this is an area which I believe is a great struggle for many of us, Christian or non-Christian alike. As a Christian we are to be His light and shine in honor of His glory. We are to be a witness to others who see us having a difficult time. Showing them how we are trusting in the Lord may be what brings them to know Christ, by showing them how wonderful it is to know Him, love Him, and trust in Him.

It isn't only about how our attitudes are when we ourselves are going through a difficult time, but how we counsel others who are going through difficult times. Having a good attitude in dealing with those people is equally important if not more important. We don't want to plant seeds of doubt when one is struggling because you cannot know what they have heard from the Lord. Do you know if they've been praying in earnest to the Lord for His guidance? Do you know if they have heard from the Lord? Has the Lord closed or opened doors for them? Wisdom would say that the best thing you should do for a person who you believe to be making the wrong decision is to pray for them. Fervently pray for your brother/sister in Christ. Because seeds of doubt are not of the Lord, but if someone is trusting you and coming to you for Godly counsel, then it would be prudent for you to be very careful in dealing with this person. Giving Godly counsel is quite serious and you don't want to mislead that person or misdirect that person from following God's will/word. So pray for them, fervently pray for them.

Remember, your attitude while giving that Godly counsel will speak volumes in how you feel and where your faith lies. Attitude is such a powerful emotion. It can either lift you up or tear you down. Having an attitude that will honor the Lord is what we should strive for and in accomplishing that, we must pray to Him and keep our focus on Him, He who loves us, is ever so faithful and trusting.

In His palm,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I am praying for all of you who are unemployed.

I didn't think my husband would be unemployed when I began my first 'No Spend Month'. My initial reason for doing it was to become debt-free. To take advantage of his income to pay off as much debt as we could. It was a great idea!

Being unemployed is difficult, for anyone. Having children makes it even more difficult in my opinion. I could totally go through this a lot easier if I didn't have children. It is so hard to look at them and know they understand what is going on. Not being able to fill a 'need' of theirs is heartbreaking for me.

Eventually you come to a point where you just know all the plate spinning you've been doing cannot be done anymore and those plates are going to fly into the air, hit the ground and break into a million little pieces. What do you do when you know the inevitable is going to happen?

I am cutting out as many expenses as possible. I am continuing to sell as much homeschooling curriculum I can, we have fliers posted around town to sell our chickens and I am selling some household items we don't need.

Mostly I am praying. I am praying for a job for my husband. A job for me. I pray in the morning, while nursing our baby, in the shower, and as I lay my head down to go to sleep. Praying is something I do all day long. Even with all that praying I have my days where I feel like nothing is going to change anytime soon. That our situation will continue to get worse. I've had pity parties too...sorry to not have invited you.

Then a day arrives where the Lord shows us that He is still here with us. He recently directed us to a movie, Facing the Giants. If you haven't seen it, go to your library and see if they have it. It is a fantastic movie about faith. Really, really wonderful. I highly recommend it. And that is all I am going to say about that, so I don't ruin it for you. Just make sure to have your Kleenex box handy!!

I know times are tough for many of us. I know so many who are unemployed, struggling as we are. I want you to know I am praying for you. I know the Lord has a wonderful plan for your life, your family. Trust in Him.

Your fellow unemployed friend,

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sorry about the confusion.

If you happened to read my post yesterday you will see that it is no longer here. For those who don't know what I am talking about, I had blogged a new post yesterday to update you, my NSM friends but I've removed it. It is for a personal reason and because I apparently can't be that transparent here. Not that I don't want to be, but because of a few who follow this blog.

I know, that should not matter, but it does.

I am going to think and pray about this situation. Prayerfully, I will be back here blogging again...

Thank you all for following this blog...

PS ~ read the Bible verse that God showed us today on the right side of this page. I feel deeply that I should share it with all of you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Economical meals...

Even though we are on a limited budget we are still able to eat well. Cooking from scratch is very economical and also healthy. I bake homemade biscuits, pizza and bread for my family at a fraction of the cost of buying in the store. You can find my recipes at my cooking blog Cookin' Cheap.

There you will find many economical recipes to try. One thing to remember, it so much cheaper and healthier to have basic ingredients on hand than prepackaged, processed foods.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The snow has melted and we've been busy!

First let me say, I've not forgot about this blog or my 'NSM' enthusiasts! I just need to get back into the groove of blogging regularly. It is quite an adjustment having my husband home full-time. I am getting there so stick with me, please.

Lots of work going on at our place. First off, we've had plumbing issues for a couple of months. Before my husband lost his job we had gotten a quote from a plumber for $1200...yikes! There is no way we would pay that much if my husband could do the job himself. He did a little reading about fixing the problem and what do you know, he fixed it for $100. What a huge savings! He is an awesome 'Mr.Fix It'! Now we are free of plumbing issues...yay!

We live on 2.5 acres and will be getting 25 chicks the end of the month. We are so excited! Again in keeping expenses down we bought the chicks for their egg laying. Being a family of 9, we eat a lot of eggs! My 'Mr Fix It' is building our chicken coop for our ladies. We estimate the savings for the coop to be about $500-700.

To add to the eggs our hens will give us we are putting in a large garden. I cannot get over the price of fruits and veggies in the grocery store these days. Seriously, $5.95 for a 10 pound bag of thank you! We are just plain tired of the high cost of produce and are going to plant our own. We are excited about being able to walk out to our garden and pick fresh produce for our dinner. What a great, rewarding feeling it will be.

It is amazing how much you can save by doing things yourself. The plumbing issues were at first a bit intimidating for my husband but he took it slowly and did a great job....just make sure to research! Same thing with the coop. Having a garden no matter how big or small will save you money. It should be something you seriously consider doing.

We are just saving money where ever we can right about you?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No Debt Paid Off in March...

As March comes to an end I leave it with a heavy heart. I also look ahead to the coming months with hope. Despite my original plans in getting debt free, sometimes uncontrollable situations your spouse losing their job. Which makes your plans impossible to achieve. I do have faith in God and I know His plans are much better than mine and more than likely better for us.

On the bright side, each month that passes we will get closer to my husbands car getting paid off...all on its own. It will just take patients on our part. We can certainly be patient and it will feel so GOOD when that last payment is made. I will be rejoicing from the roof tops!!!

Good bye March...hello April!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Finding the good in every situation...

I didn't intend to go so long before posting again after mentioning a plan to getting our debt paid off. We had some serious home issues this last Friday.

What kind of issues you ask? Sewer issues!

Friday was my birthday and my sweet husband took me out for nachos. A cheap but yummy was very thoughtful and I enjoyed his company a lot. As we were leaving the sports bar we received a call from our teenage daughter. She called to tell us there was water in our finished basement!! Now we didn't overreact. We thought she was being a bit dramatic. She wasn't. We could tell by the sight of the water and the 'smell' it was bad!

This last week I've been dealing with our insurance, the clean-up and inventorying everything we've lost. It has been a bitter sweet experience. On the one hand, we are getting paid to do much of the work ourselves. But then we've lost some priceless photos of our children that made me weep. It was very hard for me...

So as we continue the clean-up and begin the repairs, we are praising our Father in heaven for His continued presence in our lives. This flood could have been worse. We still have each other and our health. We have to find the good in this.

One good thing...our insurance is covering all that we lost.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

When you are feeling down about finances...

It is so easy to get down about your current financial situation...especially if you/your spouse is unemployed. You try to be strong and cling to your faith. You reply to the common question, 'how are you doing'...with 'we are good'. When you really know that you aren't. Sure you have food, shelter and your health (hopefully). Yet you are still feeling down.

Why are you feeling down? What would it take to lift you up?

I am feeling down because I was moving full steam ahead in paying off our debt. With 9 months to go we would have paid off $16,000. Then we would have tackled another $12,000 in the following 5 months. Our home would have been paid off in 4 more short years, our future was looking bright. That makes me frustrated and puts me down in the dumps. I hide in my computer and don't think about 'stuff'.

I am here to confess and be held stops! If you are in the same place as me, let it end today. Self pity is far more destructive than not having money. It will eat you alive and devastate you home and family. You aren't alone. I am here to commensurate with you.

I've had my week long 'pity party'.

So what are my plans now? To get back up on that horse of paying off debt. How do I do it without income? I have no idea. I don't need to worry about it because I trust the Lord. He brought us to this place and He has our best interest at heart. I will do His will with a trust and worries for the Lord is my strength.

Isaiah 26:4
4Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

More to come on my plan...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Applying for jobs to make ends meet.

Of course my husband is applying for jobs. We are grateful that he can collect unemployment benefits. The hard part for him is to find a 'living wage' job. Meaning a job that pays him enough for us to pay our living expenses. And more than he is collecting in unemployment benefits. That is the stinky part of applying for jobs for him. He can't apply for just any job, like an $8.00/hr job. He needs to focus on a 'living wage' job...ugh.

I am also applying for jobs here and there. The problems I have are my availability. I can't work a lot of hours and the times of day I can work are limited. Due to having seven children at home and homeschooling them. Still, I am applying for some part-time jobs to give us a bit of a cushion financial. Hopefully one of the jobs will work out for me. OR my husband will get a job that will allow me to remain a SAHM like I have been these last 12 years...I am praying in earnest for that!!

My biggest reason for applying for jobs is to get our car paid off. We owe about $2000 on it. Had my husband not lost his job it was to be paid off in May. If I get a job and am able to double up the payment I can get it paid off by the end of June! That would be so awesome! Having that extra money would be so good and then we could focus on other bills. I really don't want to lose the momentum I had in January and in the beginning of February.

I just can't stand knowing how close we were to being debt-free. I want to get those last lingering bills paid off and then pay our house off...that is what I want! So let's keep it going...let's not give up...let's look for another way!!!

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 9, 2009 ya been?

Busy, busy around here it's been. You'd think having your husband home would mean a little RNR for me, nope. With an eight month old there just isn't much free time. That's okay with me. The day will come where she doesn't need me anymore and then I will long for the days of snuggling her and loving on her...I will deeply miss those days.

My selling of used curriculum went very well. I sold $320 all together. I am about to list a few more books so lets pray those sell! My writing project is going slow. I don't know how I thought it would be easy...I do have seven children and am homeschooling two of them. Having my husband home in that regard has been great! He is getting to participate in educating our children...that is a very good thing!

We have been working on our storage room lately. We believe in being prepared for the unexpected events in life. Like unemployment. After living in Florida and going through hurricane season, we learned quickly that it is very important to store food and water. We carried that over into our everyday lives. You just never know when you are going to be snowed in because of a blizzard or there is another terrorist attack like 9/11 but much worse. Anyway, preparedness is a good thing. And for us, it is very important. Because of our preparedness we have plenty of food to last us 6 months, at least.

Having so much stored food leads me back to how we did our first 'NSM'. We could not have been so successful in January if we had to buy food. Now with my husband being unemployed we can't pay off more debt. That makes me sad. I was on such a good roll. I suppose God has other plans for us and I am okay with that. I trust Him and know with every part of my being that He loves me and it is all good.


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cutting Expenses and making money...

It is hard to cut expenses when you live so frugally already. But I've managed to cut a couple of more corners. I talked to my daughter's piano teacher and asked if my daughter could cut her lessons back and only go twice a month. She said that would be just fine...this saves us $28 a month. We are stopping our land line phone service which will save us an additional $30 a month. We are going to be 'only' driving my husband's car, not taking our family out for the month of March. In doing this we will save a lot in gas. My car is an Excursion which burns a lot of gas. So, we will put the big kids on a rotation for running errands with either myself or my husband. This way they can go out every so often.

It is all about making sacrifices. We can do it and we will still have a full, wonderful life. Many of the above is not necessary to make our lives great. We often think they are required but there not. Keeping the right perspective in ones life is very important...

Do you remember me saying my living room was filled with boxes of books? Well, so far I've sold $218.00 worth of books in my first week!! Most of it is used curriculum. Curriculum I used with on child that may not have worked well for us or won't work well for the next child in line. I am just happy to have cleaned out some bookshelf space and made some money at the same time...yay!

I recently was given the suggest to write a book about preparedness by some friends. I am sort of a 'preparedness nut' is like a hobby to me. Given all the research I've been doing in preparing my own household, my friends AND husband think I should write a handbook. I am going for it! When my husband came home from his dear Grandfather's funeral he said that God told him I should write a book about preparedness. I about fell over! He was telling me to write a book, just like my friends said just 2 short days! This is going to be quite interesting and it is already exciting for me. I am listening to the Lord, my husband and friends in writing this book. It just makes sense, preparedness is very important to me and I want everyone to be prepared for whatever may come...UNEMPLOYMENT, pandemic, terrorist attack, natural disaster etc... Being prepared is always a good thing.

I still have some books I am trying to sell, so we'll see if those sell this week! This coming week will be a busy one. Since I homeschool my kids, my free time is limited. Throw in writing a book and I'm really going to be busy! I am definitely up for the challenge!

How are you cutting expenses and making money?


Friday, February 20, 2009

A week of adjustments...and books in the living room.

I thought I would be able to come here twice a week to post, but it turns out that may not be possible. Having my husband home really occupies a lot of my time...and that isn't a bad thing. I adore my husband and have missed him dearly these last 2yrs while he has worked for the store. He worked 55-60 hours just about every week, with a few weeks here and there where he only worked 45-50 hours. I have been taking advantage of this situation to be with him more, which in turn keeps me away from the computer. Again, not a bad thing. I will do my best to come here and post. I think once the newness of having him home everyday wears off, things will get back to normal.


I have a lot of books in my living room right now! I am sorting through them so I can sell them. That is the one big thing I am working on to bring in some money. I keep tossing around the idea of getting a job...part-time. It would really have to be a job sent from God because I have little children to care for and the baby is still nursing. Yep, it would have to be a perfect job.

Fortunately, my husband will qualify for unemployment benefits but we are hopeful that he will get another, even better job soon! Selling our books, well some of them would be my way of contributing to our financial situation.

If you have any ideas about making a little money on the side (from home) please post your ideas in the 'comments' section. I'd love to hear them.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

On a No Spend Month until further notice.

Yes, that is right. We will be doing a NSM until further notice...

My husband lost his job on Thursday. I admit I was quite shocked. I guess I shouldn't be so shocked given the current state of the economy. I know many who have also found themselves is so sad. I do praise God for urging me to get a some bills paid off and for storing up some food. Thank you Lord!

Fortunately for us, my husband was given 3 weeks severance pay and he does qualify for unemployment benefits. Though, we are praying he will get a new job in the next couple of weeks. He has to wait to begin any new job until mid March so he can receive all his severance pay. The positive in that, is he can rest a bit. He has worked so very hard these past couple of years and truly needs to rest. BUT!!! While he is resting he will be submitting his resume all over the place looking for another job. He will even do interviews when called for one. So, lets call this a 'job hunting vacation', okay?

I will begin posting on Monday's and Friday's again. I will need some accountability and definitely some encouragement during this time in our family's lives. That means I have to post regularly so I can stay on track and motivated. I am going over our budget this weekend. Monday I will post about expenses I was able to cut and how I am looking to bring in some extra money on my own.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No Spend Tips...

First, I am sorry to have been MIA these past few days. I've been taking care of my sweet baby girl who is cutting 4 teeth, poor little darling. I have a brief break so I will be quick today.

Something I realized this month is when we have money we spend it. We don't spend it as wisely when it is just hanging out in our checking account. Last month I was able to do so much with our money...all good things. This month, we have eaten out more than the twice a month I had planned. Why? Because we can, plain and simple.

I have come to the sad realization that I am not very disciplined with money. It is hard to say that but it is the truth. I do great when I spend it all at one time on things that are needed or to pay bills off. Having X amount of money in the checking account is to tempting for me and for my husband. He isn't very good knowing there is money in the account either. So, we have decided to spend all the money each payday only leaving $50 for the unexpected. We did that during our NSM and it worked great. Knowing we didn't have money, or a lot of it kept us cooking at home and sticking to our meal plan. We were much more prudent last month than we have been so far this month...our 'spend month'. Boy we took that term literally, didn't we?

Bottom line for us, we can't have excess money laying around with no where to go but in the trash...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Paying off bills while spending a little money.

I feel like it has been awhile since I've been here posting. I want to continue posting updates during this 'spend month' but I also don't want to bore you.LOL I did pay $700 on bill this month, so I haven't gone spend crazy. The bill I am currently focused on is my son's ortho bill. Once we get it paid off we can get our daughter who will be 16 braces. She is such a beautiful girl and has patiently been waiting her turn to get braces. Hopefully by her birthday she will have them...which is in May.

I have challenged myself this month to buy enough groceries with my normal grocery budget of $1000. It will be hard and I probably will need to add a bit to it, but I think I can come close. Next month doing my 2nd 'NSM' I am again going to keep $50 for basics like eggs and produce.

We went to Sam's Club and stocked up on all the normal things I would typically buy. We did add a metal shelf to put in our storage room so we could put our bulk items on it. Plus, we have a 'preparedness' food stock that we've been building up. Having that food stock has helped us in our first 'NSM'. I know most families have to grocery shop monthly because you don't have a well stocked pantry to go as extreme as I did. It really isn't to hard to build up you pantry...I'll talk more about that in another post.

My husband and I have always tried to have 2 months worth of food in the house. Living in Florida during hurricane season showed us how important it is. When Katrina hit, our grocery store shelves became bare. There was no milk in the dairy aisle. Gas was only delivered once a week so you really had to conserve. After living through that we saw how fragile our food system can be. And to be honest, it really scared us. We had back then 5 children to protect and feed. Now we have 7 children to protect and feed.

We currently live in what I like to affectionately call the 'frozen tundra', in NW Minnesota where it is extremely cold! If our little town were to lose power because of a horrible storm like much of the USA has seen this season, we would be in trouble. The nearest town to us is 25 miles away but they would probably not have power either. And they are a lot smaller than us so they may be sold out of food. So, we like to be prepared for what may come.

In preparing ourselves we are buying chickens this spring so we can have eggs and meat. My children are so excited about having chickens. I am excited about not paying $2/dozen for eggs. My family can eat a dozen eggs for breakfast easy. I counted up last month how many eggs we go through and figured out it was 13 dozen and that is cutting back some because it was our 'NSM'. Keep in mind, I bake a lot! On any given week I bake 4 dozen muffins, 6 dozen cookies and a cake. I cook pancakes twice a week and we only eat eggs with our breakfast once a week. Being a large family we just eat a lot of eggs.

Next on our agenda this spring is to put in a large garden. We live on 2.5 acres so we have some room. We have one producing apple tree and are adding 4 more apple trees, 2 apricot, and 2 pear trees. I am so excited about having my own produce. Grocery store prices are only going up and I have had enough! For the little money we have spent on seeds and trees, we should be able to recoup that in our first season. Next year, it will be even better.

We are totally trying to cut out as many expenses we can. We have cancelled our cable tv, went bare bones with our land line telephone and didn't renew any of our magazine subscriptions. We do have cell phones but we switched to a new company and that lowered our family plan by $25/mo. We joined Netflix so we could still watch movies but that only costs us $14/mo which is a lot less than paying $85 for Direct TV. In the course of one year we will have saved $1260 by making these changes!

This first 'spend' week has been a good one...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Follow-Up...

Well, it is the end of the month. I am officially calling today the last day of my 'No Spend Month'! It has a been a great month and I've learned a lot!

The biggest accomplishment for this month was paying off $1400 worth of debt...yay! February will be a restock month for my pantry. I'll be heading to Sam's Club to buy 100lbs of flour! And many other items. It sounds like a lot of flour but that will have to last for two months and half of it is for our 'emergency supplies'. I also do a lot of baking and we eat homemade pizza once a week, so it doesn't last long. Plus, at $7.50/25lbs, it is a great deal.

I will pop in each week to give an update on my stocking up progress...and other tips.

Have a great weekend...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Motivational Monday...

No Spender's, we are in the home stretch! Can you believe in less than a week we will have completed our first NSM!? It hasn't always been easy that's for sure but oh how rewarding it has!

I just want to say that I am pleased with our accomplishments. I wasn't real sure if we could do it and for the most part, we exceeded my original expectations. Though, I was motivated to begin my first 'NSM', down deep I was a bit worried if I would be able to follow through.

I've had some unplanned for expenses, that I've learned to plan for, for the following NSM's. I've even had a few weak moments. Still, eating out a couple of times this month is nothing compared to the 10+ times we would typically eat out.

I went into our little grocery store twice this month, compared to the twice weekly I would have usually done. I didn't even set foot into the local Kmart, which I would do weekly and drop a minimum of $50.

There were no real temptations for me because we didn't have money sitting in our account with no place to go. I spent all but $50 of it on bills. That is really the way to go in my opinion. For me, I just don't do well with having a lot of money in my bank account so for my next 'NSM', I will do it the same way and just spend all the money on bills.

Lets finish strong this week! Ending our first 'NSM' with a bang! No matter what your personal goal was for the month, just thinking about where you are spending your money is a very good thing. Thinking twice about making a purchase will help so much in improving your financial situation.

Now lets hit the ground running...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Follow-Up

Let me ask you...

How do you do under pressure? When life gets really stressful? Does the stresses that life can bring make you go into emotional overload? Me, I don't do so well when life throws me multiple things all in one day.

My Wednesday had all of the above...

The day started out on the right foot. Everything was going as usual. Then I got a call that the washer and dryer we bought in November (Black Friday) was finally in. It was a great deal...we got the set for $599! It was a set we really needed, as our old set is 17yrs old. The washing machine only does small or medium loads and the dryer takes 2 hours to dry a small load because the heating element is just about dead. Can you imagine how long it takes to do laundry for 9 people?! Sorry, I digress...

So, we get the call that the washer and dryer are in and can they be delivered in 15 minutes. 15 minutes!!! Well, sure they can, I said. But the truth of the matter is, it was just 9:30am and my laundry room was filled up with piles of laundry because we aren't hitting the laundromat until Saturday. Why the laundromat you ask? We have been going to the laundromat twice a month since December because we have a clog in a pipe so I can't do laundry. {heavy sigh}

The kids and I rush around to get the piles taken out of the laundry room so the gentleman can take out the old set and put in the new set. All that was fine. Not to stressful. It did get us up and going quickly that's for sure. After they came and went we settled down for the rest of our homeschooling day.

The stress really began when my 6 year old autistic son came out of his room with a blood covered face! Oh my word! I quickly take him in to the bathroom to take care of his bleeding nose. He has gotten into this horrible habit of picking his nose lately. This time, he made it bleed something awful.

As I was cleaning him up the thought of his room came to mind. I asked my 10yo daughter to check it out for me. She went and came back saying he got some blood on a few things. I was relieved. But then, I thought that didn't seem right. He had a lot of blood on his face. How could he only get it on a few things? Just then I directed her to help him and I quickly went to his room. There was blood all over his floor!!! I was instantly overwhelmed at the sight. I called out to my son to get a bucket with cold water and the carpet cleaner. I was so upset, honestly. The carpet in that room is brand new. Just 3 months old. And of course, it is a tan color!!!

I was thrilled that the spots of blood were coming up but at this point it was about 11:30am and my baby was wanting to be nursed and I was beginning to get hungry. Yet, I stayed at it. Cleaning and cleaning... I got 3/4 of the spots up. There were at least 40 of them ranging in size of an eraser head to a silver dollar...yeah not good. The smell from the fumes was really starting to make me sick. I needed to open a window in the room, even if it was 15 degrees outside.

Then my best friend called as I was on the floor cleaning up this mess. That was a good thing because she helped to calm me down. I was really on the verge of losing it an hour into this job. I was starting to shake because I needed to eat, my chest hurt because I needed to feed my baby and I really wanted to cry. She convinced me to stop and eat. After eating and feeding the baby my husband had come home for lunch and told me he'd take care of the rest when he got home. That I didn't look good. He asked if I was well enough to pick up our oldest from her tutoring job at 4pm and I said yes.

After he left I took the baby and went to rest in my bed. I told my 13yo to 'hold down the fort' and if I fell asleep to wake me at was currently 2pm. Sure enough, I fell asleep and they woke me at 3:30. They are great kids! I got up feeling still a bit weak but much better. I got ready to go get my daughter...

As I was backing out of our tunneled 150' driveway to pick up my daughter from her tutoring job...I say tunneled because we have gotten so much snow that our driveways width is half its size now. We don't have a plow or a snow blower and we've seen the most snow in 10yrs. Great planning I know. Anyway...

Now, I am backing out really slow so I could see on both sides, well I didn't see so well on my left side and went into the snow wall that had built up. I couldn't move forward or backwards. I couldn't even open my door. Yep I was stuck good. My son came out to try and dig me out...yea, like that was going to happen!LOLOL I had to call my husband at work to go pick up our daughter... How much more could I take today? I was really stressing...again!

A nice gentleman was driving by our property and as he slowly passed us he stopped and then backed up. He drove into our driveway and asked my son..."hey partner, are you stuck?" My son said, "yes but I think I have it!" Bless his heart, he is trying to be a MAN these days!

The nice gentleman said he had a Bobcat up the road plowing his in-laws place and he would be happy to bring it over and get me out. We of course accepted his generous offer.

About 30mins later he was back at our place...YAY! He did some plowing, pushed my Excursion forward and did more plowing. Then he told me to back the truck up to the main road and he would finish plowing the driveway. All this took him 45mins. Wow!

I tell you all this to show, when life hits you from all sides it can be overwhelming to say the least. I don't do well in situations like I was in on Wednesday. Sure, I survived it. But it totally took over my entire day. The nice gentleman who plowed my driveway didn't leave until 5:15pm. My husband didn't get home with our daughter until 5:30 and dinner wasn't ready. I hadn't even begun dinner. What do you think we did?

We got McDonald's for dinner.

I feel somewhat guilty about that. What I am really finding out is that I have been very ridged this month. I have taken my 'NSM' very literally. Like I can't spend a penny even though we succeeded in paying off $1400+ like we set out to do. I need to find a balance and that is something I will most definitely do for my next 'NSM' in March. Lessons learned...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Motivational Monday...

Lets begin Monday with confessions, okay?

I am not one is. If you are a Christian like me, you know there is only ONE perfect one, our Creator.

I was very weak on Thursday. When I challenge myself, I go ALL.THE.WAY! Not only did I attempt to not spend any money this month, I also attempted to give up soda. That is one hard thing to do when you are NOT getting take-out too!!!!

Me and my family usually drink about (4) 2 liter bottles a week. Doesn't sound like much for a family of 9 but when one bottle costs $1.50 (on sale) that adds up to $6 a week and $24 a month. If you really want the *wow* effect to that amount, it adds up to $288 a year! It can even be more than that if the 2 liters are not on sale or if it is summertime when I tend to drink a bit more. As we began our NSM I had 4 bottles of soda in my pantry closet. I told everyone that after they were gone, that was it. We saved the remaining soda for our pizza nights and a couple of popcorn snacks.

On Wednesday night the kids and I had popcorn for a snack. With water! I have to be honest with y'all...popcorn just doesn't taste as good with water. I plainly don't like it with water. That brings me to Thursday. I asked my husband to buy a couple of 2 liters of Cherry Coke, my favorite. Again, I have to be honest with y'all, I just can't give it ALL up at one time. Remember, I am not perfect. I challenged myself to the full extent this month and I was successful for half the month in all 3 areas. I feel pretty good about that.

Confession #2...yes, I have another confession...sigh.

Do you know about the ridiculous Lead Law congress has signed into law? If not, I suggest you start reading up on it if you have children, own a business that sells children's products or work for a company that does. Click on 'Lead Law' in the previous sentence to read up on it.

Anyhow, there is a collection of books I've been wanting from a small company...Hope Chest Legacy. Because of this Lead Law they are selling off their inventory at a very low price. It is very sad. Once all the inventory is gone they will only sell their books as EBooks. I just feel awful for them and other companies who may find themselves desperately trying to sell their inventory before this law goes into effect so it doesn't get thrown into a landfill.

When I heard of this I went to their website and saw that the whole collection of books I've been wanting for sometime was on sale in a bundle, I didn't think twice about it...I bought them. I received 10 books valued at $190, for $39.95. Plus, they will add some items for free that are age appropriate for my kids (I gave them the gender and age of each of my kids). Books are my weakness, I admit that. We are homeschoolers so that should be enough for anyone to understand that. With this company no longer selling physical books, I had to act and quickly. I am not sorry that I bought them, nor do I feel guilty. I am just being straight up with all of you who are reading this.

As this is my Motivational post, I guess this isn't sounding very 'motivational', huh? But it is. Let me encourage you to not be to 'anal' about not spending. Be proud at what you have accomplished this month. If you gave up eating out and have stuck with that, then pat yourself on the back. You've done good. If you had a weak moment, get back up on that horse! No one is going to think bad about your falling off the horse...I certainly don't.

Progress is good in any amount, in my honest opinion. Can you do better, always. Can you have a moment of weakness, most definitely. Just recognize it and persevere on.

Life is much to short to dwell on any failures...I am learning this myself.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Follow-Up...

Hooray for Fridays, yes?!

I enjoy Fridays. More so now that I am looking back on the week to review how I did with my 'NSM'. This week was our mid-month payday. We took care of our regular bills, put gas in the cars and then paid one bill off and paid extra money on another bill. We had to buy some refrigerator items that we had planned for like 5 dozen eggs...yes, my family eats alot of eggs. About 10-12 dozen in one month. That is one of the reasons we are looking into getting some chickens. But that is another post.

I am feeling really good about our accomplishments this month. It hasn't been an easy thing to do for me...not spending money. Or not spending very much money. We did have to spend a little as you can recall from previous posts. Still, thus far we have spent around $60 total for the month. That is awesome! Especially when we typically would spend around $1200 in a month on groceries, unnecessary shopping and eating out. Boy have we done great!

I hope I don't sound boastful. That is not my intention. I am trying to show all of you who are reading this blog that it is possible. Even if you do a modified version of a 'NSM' you can improve you financial situation. I have heard from many people saying that they are doing their own version of the 'NSM'. I think that is AWESOME! Some are not eating out for the month. Others are reducing their eating out from 5+ times a week down to 1-2 times a week. Imagine the savings those people will see!

As much as I would like to do a 'NSM' in February it just isn't possible. I will need to do a bit of restocking of my pantry. Still, my goal for February is to be very wise with my usual grocery budget and see if I can buy enough food to carry us in March. That will definitely be a challenge, but if you hadn't noticed, I love a challenge. I am already making up my grocery list and menu for February and March so I can be prepared. It just isn't possible to do a 'NSM' if you aren't prepared.

Have a peaceful weekend,

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I love biscuits. Biscuits are great in the morning with some yummy sausage gravy on them. In the afternoon for a snack with preserves. Or with you favorite soup or stew for dinner. Biscuits are even great all by themselves. Another thing great about biscuits, they are cheap and easy to make. When you are doing a 'NSM' biscuits act as a great filler when your main meal may be a bit lean. Here is my favorite biscuit recipe...courtesy of Hillbilly Housewife ...

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder (3 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk or buttermilk or yogurt

First get out your big bowl. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl. Drop in the shortening and use your fingers to casually mix it in with the dry ingredients. Don't get too serious about it because it is better to under mix at this point than over mix. There should still be a few lumps of shortening, the size of peas, or even a little bigger. Two minutes or less of mixing should do it. Next add the milk. Stir it up into a soft dough. On dry days you may need another spoonful or two of milk. Form the dough into a soft ball. Get a piece of waxed paper and lay it on your counter. Sprinkle the waxed paper with a little bit of flour. Place the dough ball on the flour and knead it exactly 10 times. No more, no less. This activates the gluten in the flour just enough, but not too much. Next flatten out the dough with a rolling pin or your hands so it is about 3/4" thick. Cut into biscuit shapes with a biscuit cutter, or the rim of a clean cup or can. I use a tomato paste can for small biscuits and a tuna can for large biscuits. Works really well. Lay the biscuits onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan and bake them at 425° for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on their size. Makes about a dozen medium sized biscuits. You can brush them with melted margarine when you take them from the oven if you want them to look pretty when they arrive at the table.
Cheese Biscuits: These are made simply by adding a cup of cheese to the flour after you mix in the shortening, right before adding the milk. Cut into smallish biscuits and cook as directed. They are really good with spaghetti or lasagna.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Motivational Monday...

Lessons we continue our FIRST 'No Spend Month' I am learning so many things about myself and my family. I am learning what I didn't plan well for and I'm learning how to be a gracious receiver. This has really been a great experience for me and my family.

My husband and I had many conversations with our kids prior to beginning the 'NSM'. We wanted to keep them informed so they could help us be successful. Eating out is one of our greatest weaknesses, next to Walt Disney World. We love to eat out and we do it often...2-3 times a week. I spoke about that in my first post. Just not eating out would save us $300-$400 a month. So, our kids had to be involved with this. We asked them to not ask us to 'grab McDonald's' or 'order Chinese' for dinner. Up until today the question was not asked. The kids have been great and I am so proud of them. Then this morning our oldest son asked if he and his 2 sisters (9yo and 15yo) could buy the 'family' dinner at McDonald's, as a mid-month celebration for doing so good in our first 'NSM'. I hadn't expected to hear that question and didn't know how to respond to it. The kids were not technically doing the 'NSM' because their money is their own. None of it goes to bills. They were just asked to not ask for anything this month. In not knowing how to respond I asked my Sonlight friends what they thought I should do, they always have wise answers.

My friend Angi gave me this response...

I'd say yes to this request for these reasons:

1) They asked well. Politely, with the Family Plan understood and in mind.
2) They are using their own money, not used for bill paying purposes anyway.
3) They had to cooperate and be resourceful to accomplish their end goal.
4) Children have smaller incremental places of celebration. It's we adults who are capable of going longer and longer distances of self-denial.
5) It's a beautiful thing.

What a wise and well thought response from Angi. I also had many other responses that were great from my Sonlight friends. Angi and the others helped me to see all the positives that could come from allowing our older children to 'treat' the family to McDonald's. Thanks all!

What else have I learned...

1. You begin to lose the fast food craving by day 7 or 8.
2. You need way more flour than what you might think when you are baking your own bread daily.
3. Being flexible with changing a meal on your menu is okay. ( I tend to be very ridged about these types of things.)
4. Not leaving the house saves you money!!

Those are just a few new things I've learned since beginning our 'NSM'. I am certain I will learn more throughout the remainder of the month.

I want to encourage anyone considering doing a 'NSM' either in its entirety or a modified version to really sit down and do your best to account for any expense that may arise. And if something does come up that you didn't account for, show yourself some grace. It isn't the end of the world if you end up spending a little. Learn from it and then press on. Don't give up thinking you've failed because you haven't. You have done great and if you decide to do another 'NSM' you will do even better.

Best wishes, now think twice before you spend...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Follow-Up

Are you as happy as I am that Friday is here?! I am so happy that this week is over because I have been tempted a few times this week to spend MONEY! I also learned a few things I didn't prepare as well before entering my 'NSM'.

This week I have had sick children to deal with. Moms you all know how that goes when you have a sick, fussy baby and you have to get dinner going, right? Well that was my Monday! Great way to start out a new week...NOT! Add to that a broken ceramic plate to clean-up, care of 2yr old daughter and my emotions were quickly going down hill. Still, I was going to cook dinner. We were not going to order out as we would before. I had my 13yo take out the meat from the freezer I needed in the morning, we were good to go. Or were we?

As I went into the kitchen to begin cooking I learned he had taken the wrong package of meat out! I about fell apart! Not really but I was getting close. Here I've made this thoughtful menu with items from my pantry and I was going to stick to it! I tend to be very inflexible sometimes...I am trying to work on that. As it was 'Mexician Monday' in our house we had to have Mexican food, chicken mole to be exact. I know, there I go being inflexible again, sigh. My son took out boneless porkchops, not boneless chicken. It was an easy mistake, I know that. But it wasn't going to work. So, I quickly tried to find a solution. I had 1 lbs. of ground beef in the fidge. Not enough to make tacos with and I didn't have tortillas for burritos because of my sick baby (I make homemade). My husband called at that moment to find me a bit 'flustered'. Had I asked him to bring home McDonald's he would have. I so wanted to ask him to but I didn't. Instead, I asked him to spend $2.50 to buy tostada shells. With those we could spread refried beans on them and then a little taco meat. The 1 lbs of ground beef would be enough for our family if we could use the beans as a base. He agreed.

Dinner was great but I still spent money. I felt guilty about it all evening long. But really, when you think about it I did good. I didn't buy take-out that would have cost us atleast $25. I really believe satan was on the attack. He knows I fall under 'emotional pressure' and that is what I was in. I say, I succeeded under the attack...for the most part anyway.

Tuesday was much better. My baby was better and happy. The day was looking up... Then I received a call late in the morning that there was a death in the family. We live out of state from our family and there was no way we could attend the funeral. We usually send a card for something like this, but I didn't have a card on hand. Didn't think to have one before beginning our 'NSM'. I have learned that it is good to have various cards on hand for unexpected events. Maybe one of those boxes that have a card in it for every occassion would be good to have. So, we paid $3.50 for a card.

On Wedsneday I had the brown sugar snag. You can read about that below this post. In short, I was out of brown sugar and I learned (from my Sonlight friends) I can make my own brown sugar...awesome! I didn't spend a single dime!

Thursday was very hard. I am now sick. My head feels like it is going to explode from the sinus pressure. We are out of Tylenol and low on vitamin C because I increased the dosage I give to my kids to build up their immune system. With all my preparations I simply didn't think to check my medicine cabinet. I was more worried about food and toilet paper! LOL

Note to self: check to be sure there is a good amount of basic meds in your medicine cabinet.

I think we will be okay, provided no one else gets sick. Later in the day I took a nap with my baby. It was great and I felt better when we got up, two and half hours later! I still didn't have a good amount of energy but I was able to put dinner on the table (at 7pm which is late for us) and I baked 2 loaves of bread. My husband knew how sick I had been and thought for sure I'd be calling for him to pick-up dinner, but I didn't! Yay for me!!!

Well, that sums it up. The weekend is here. $6 was spent because of the unexpected this week but I think I did really great! Any other time I wouldn't have thought twice to spend. I am pleased with the way my mind is now 'thinking twice'. My plan for the weekend is to get my bills in order that will be paid on the 15th. My husband will be home and can help with our kids so I don't have any distractions.

It should be a pleasant weekend and I hope yours is too. Until Monday...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tip of the week.

Well, we are mid-week here on the NSM. I've gotta ask's it going?

I had a challenge yesterday. I was getting ready to bake some oatmeal bread and learned I didn't have any brown sugar! What I used as my brown sugar container didn't contain brown sugar. It had whole wheat flour in it and I FORGOT! I wondered if there was something else I could use as a substitute for the brown sugar. I would normally have not thought twice about running to the store to spend $1.50 to buy some brown sugar. Well, that kinda of thinking has got to change! So I asked my friends on the Sonlight forum because I know someone there would know. I was right! I learned that all I needed to do was add molasses to white sugar. I had no idea I could make my own brown sugar! I am a hapy girl...yee haw!!! So here's how you do it...

Brown Sugar Substitute
For each 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar called for in a recipe, use 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses plus 1 cup granulated sugar.

To make light brown sugar from dark brown sugar, use 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

For dark brown sugar, use 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar plus 1 tablespoon molasses; or 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup molasses.

See ya Friday!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Motivational Monday...

Happy Monday, everyone!

Today is the first day of the week and the first big test for me and anyone else who is trying to do a 'NSM'. I haven't had to leave my home since Dec.30th, which means I've not been tempted by any stores or fastfood joints. My plan when I leave to pick my daughter up from school today is to go straight there and straight back home. Usually I would pick her up and then run into the store. That is not going to happen today.

I have my menu made for the entire month, which you can see one the right of the posts. That menu was created to use only the ingredients I have on hand. I went into my freezer and pantry to take inventory of everything to make meals with. Now, I am still learning myself how to 'not spend' so I anticipate I may need to buy something for our meals, eventually. I really don't think I was able to account for everything but I sure hope I did! If I do have to buy something, I have a money can that we have been throwing our loose change into. It always amazes me how quickly quarters, dimes and nickles can add up. I have about $23.00 in the can right now. I figure if anything comes up, I will use that loose change. Produce is one of those things that just doesn't keep that long. I may eventually buy some later in the month. I am trying to do without which will be hard. I have dehydrated onion that I can cook with and canned fruits for my kids. I think we will be okay.

Every Monday I plan to have a motivational posting. In this post I will also post a couple of our favorite, economical recipes. Just so you know, we love food. Good food. So give these recipes a try...they are all yummy!

Now for the recipes... Everyone I know loves pizza. I know there are some who don't and frankly I can't imagine not liking pizza but to each his own. Up until a month or so ago we always bought our pizza. Not anymore. Making homemade pizza is a lot easier than I thought. I make a double patch of the below pizza dough recipe and one batch of the sauce (stores nicely in the fridge) and it will last us two whole meals of 4 medium pizzas. It is very economical and it tastes GREAT! Enjoy...

Pizza Crust

1 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar

Combine the above three ingredients and let stand for 10 min.

Then, stir in
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup EVOO
2.5 cups flour.

Knead well enough to combine and dough is smooth. Over kneading will make the crust more like a cracker. Let rest, rub a bit of EVOO on the ball, place in a bowl and cover for about 15 min. Shape into your desired size or into baking sheet. I leave the crust a bit thick because we like a thicker crust. We double this recipe and get 4 medium sized pizzas. Add your toppings…

Then bake the pizza at 425* for about 20 min.
Pizza Sauce (Cat Cora/Food Network)

1 (4-ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves (I use 1 teas. dried)
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves (I use 1 teas. dried)
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves (I omit this)
1/4 teas of red pepper flakes (this is my addition)
Mix together the tomato paste, water, and olive oil. Mix well. Add garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, oregano, basil, and rosemary. Mix well and let stand several hours to let flavors blend. No cooking necessary, just spread on dough.

Have a great Monday! Make a menu for the week and stick to it. Don't eat out for the 2nd, 3rd or 4th time this week. Save that money and put it towards a bill. Just reducing the amount you eat-out each week will help tremendously! Take the first step in becoming debt-free today. I will follow-up on Friday...

You CAN do it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

What is a "No Spend Month"...

After being stressed to the 'max' about our debt for many years, I felt we (my husband, kids and I) had to do something and quick! We are Christians and I was really feeling the Lord was telling me to do something and NOW. Given the state of the economy (all those darn bail-outs) and the job losses many are going through, I was most definitely listening to God. Plus, my husband had gone through 18 months of unemployment 3 years ago. Times were very tough for us. We learned to get by on very little because we had to. Boy did we learn was actually very good for us because it got us thinking differently. Since then we've come along way. We used to be very bad with money. Still, we can improve more...

Thinking back to that time of my husband's unemployment I began to wonder if we could get by on so little again, but for an entirely different reason. For a good, positive get out of debt. I hate with my every being having debt. Owing someone. Not owning my home free and clear. It makes me want to scream! It is just that bad. It is total bondage that I am in and my husband feels it too. It is not the same for him as it is for me, though. And that is because I pay the bills. I see each month what we owe, what we've paid and what is left. He has none of those stresses. I am okay with the way we do things. He works 50-60hrs a week managing a store and has plenty of his own work related stresses. So, I take on the debt stress which I am fine with. But, I've had enough of the debt stress! I am ready to elemenate it completely...once and for all!

I invite you to join me in becoming debt-free. We can come together and get out of bondage to our debtors once and for all. The freedom of not owing anyone is yours for the taking. It will not be easy but it will also not be impossible. You can do it! We all can do it! How do I plan to do it, you ask? Let me explain some of my ideas...

To give my month cash flow a boost I pondered getting a job. I figured if I could bring home a couple of hundred dollars a week we could really begin making a dent in paying off our debt. Just 7 little problems hindered that idea...I am the mom of 7 children ages 6mo-15yrs old. I would have to get a babysitter as we have no family near us to help us out. Another problem is, I homeschool 4 of those 7 children. So, I had to come up with another idea to jumpstart our debt reduction because the honest truth is, I don't want to work outside the home. I love being a SAHM and homeschooling my children.

As I would sit and think about this day after day, a thought came to me about our food bill. Being a family of 9 requires alot of food, as you might imagine. Our food bill was roughly $800 a month. That may not sound like much but I haven't included the 'eating out' portion of our food bill. We like to eat out...always have. In any given week we would get McDonald's twice at $25 a pop. My husband and I would go out for lunch on his day off once a week spending another $25. Twice a month on payday we would order Chinese food from a little local joint in town and that cost us $45 each time. If you do the math you'll see that we spend on eating out about $390 a month. That figure would be $100 higher if we went into town for some major shopping, which we would do every other month. As you can see, we were spending alot of money!

Now lets talk about the miscellaneous spending we would do every month. Someone is always needing something in a family of 9. Contact lense solution, socks, toothbrush, get the picture. That makes us have to be very aware of what we are spending our money on. We think twice if we really 'need' something. In our little town we don't have a large variety of stores to shop in so you'd think we don't spend money on shopping...not true. I am an expert 'online shopper', LOL. Most of my shopping is done online. I live to find 'a great deal'. When I find it, I buy it. I definitely need to develop new habits because that has to stop!

Some other areas where we are cutting back or not spending at all are, haircuts and gas for our cars. My girls all have long hair so I can easily trim their ends. I've been getting better at cutting my little boys' hair. My husband will still need to get his hair cut professionally so we have kept that in the budget. I am so thankful that gas prices have come down so much! It really is quite a blessing (another one of God's provisions) for our commitment of not spending money. With gas prices being $1.69/gal here, down from 3.98 that is a huge savings in and of itself! Fortunately my husband's job is only 8 miles round trip. He usually comes home for lunch but that may be stopping. Driving an extra 8 miles isn't really that much. We really love seeing him in the middle of the we are undecided at this point. I am having a bit of difficult time justifying it when we are working so hard and sacrificing so much to get our debt paid off. I do plan to pray about and then we will come to a decision with the Lord's leading.

Okay, what about food you ask? What are we going to eat if I don't do any grocery shopping? Good question. I have acquired a habit of stocking up on food since we lived in the Panhandle of Florida. It was something we did to prepare for hurricane season. It is really a good habit to have because you just never know when a disaster will hit and you can't buy food. We experienced first hand during Hurricane Katrina how important it was to have food stored. All that to say, I have a well stocked pantry. I estimate I have about 3mos of food stored. My chest freezer is well stocked too! I've made a menu for this month (I'll post it later) using food I have stored. I have a large box of powdered milk for when we run out of our gallon jugs of milk. We will drink water mostly and I will allow my Littles to have apple juice twice a week and we will all have soda/pop on our Friday Pizza/Movie Night...only one 2 liter bottle. Because I haven't bought any food for the month of January I have to ration my stored food. The only way for this to work well is to stick to our menu. I am also keeping a "Closed Kitchen" so my kids don't go and eat up all the food, LOL.

Okay, so there you have it...our 'no spend month' plan. It sure is alot to type out 'No Spend Month' so many times. Let's shorten it to 'NSM' okay? That will make it alot easier for me.

My prayer for this blog is that it will encourage many to use ideas from me or brainstorm on their own to find creative ways to stretch the money you already have so you can pay-off some/all debt.

Lets think out of the box and get out of bondage together and be free!