Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2016 Christmas Home Tour

 

This year I was really in the mood to decorate early for Christmas, even though I’m busy getting ready for a craft fair that is in December, meaning I don’t exactly have time for anything extra, but when these moods strike, what’s one to do but give in to them?

I do love these evenings with little lights everywhere and the smell of scented candles burning. Every year when I put up all these decorations, I can’t imagine wanting to take them down again, but come January, that’s what I’ll be doing!

So, now, welcome to our Holiday home…

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This picture wall is something I just added. I will be replacing the backgrounds in the frames with seasonal designs as the year goes by.

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A few years ago I made the coffee filter trees on the middle shelf and am still using them. For a tutorial on how to make your own click here.

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The little twig reindeer made their way out of storage again this year. For a tutorial on how I made them, click here.

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I had a vision for the mantle this year, but I wasn’t sure if it would happen, price wise. I wanted a snowy village scene and I soon found out small stuff can be expensive. :( But, thankfully I found these glass buildings at Goodwill for $1 each!

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My son helped me fix this up. We used books for the “hills” and placed string lights over them. Then we used quilt batting to cover the lights, and poked holes through the batting to stick the lights into the houses. After everything was set up, we made it snow, using fake snow, of course! It was a bit messy, but an easy clean up and well worth it. I love to see the village lit up in the evening!

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Don’t you just want to be little, and stroll through our snowy village? :)

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Now, the tree.. this year we invested in a real looking, fake tree, which I love! Though it was a bit pricier than I like to spend, we will have it in the years to come. It is still minus a star on top and gifts at the bottom, but for now it will do..

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If you like the wall scroll by the tree, you may want to visit my booth in the upcoming craft fair. I will have several of these available, along with quotes for year round decoration.

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I think I will always have some kind of wintery snow globe going on. :) It’s a little hard to see with the reflection but there’s a pickup with a tree on the back, waiting to be taken home in this snow scene.

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I still want to make a wreath or two for the Holiday season, and maybe fix the porch up a bit, but for now, this will do! I hope you enjoyed the tour and thanks for visiting!

-Mary

 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Makeover Monday – Chest of Drawers

 

It’s been awhile since I posted a Monday makeover and I apologize for that. I had some other things going on lately and since the weather turned cooler, I haven’t been able to paint outside with my sprayer as much.

Before I begin, let me fuss a bit about the absolutely gorgeous Fall we are having! Colors are extra vibrant this year and the weather has been so pleasant! Sure, I will always love the lazy days of summer the best, but there’s something about Fall that just holds me in awe..

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I love it that I can look out a window anywhere in our home and see such amazing colors!

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Porcelain Berry Vines offer such a treat for birds this time of year and into the winter.

 

Now, on to the makeover..

I was asked by a friend to be a vendor in a local fair fundraiser coming up December 17th, so I’m trying to make and repurpose things for that, the last while.

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For those of you who have visited my booth during the spring time Walnut Creek Vintage Fair, my space in this event will have similar things, but on a much smaller scale. For someone who is used to a 10’x30’ booth, going to an 8’ table is almost a challenge!

I was told I could probably fit in a few smaller pieces of furniture, behind my table, so I was tickled to find this chest of drawers for a good price at a local thrift store. I am hoping it’s small enough to fit the space. Here is how it looked when I got it..

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Definitely in need of some TLC.

First I wiped it down with Krudkutter..

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I then applied two coats of white paint, using my sprayer.

I wanted to do something exciting with the drawer fronts and was impressed to find a craft paper in Walmart (new item) that worked perfectly to apply to the fronts, using an adhesive spray.

I didn’t take any pictures while doing this, but It wasn’t hard to do. I just cut the paper the right size for the drawer fronts, sprayed the backs and applied them.

Again, here is the before picture, followed by the after..

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They don’t pop out as much in the picture, but I found these adorable glass knobs, also in Walmart that I thought fit in with the look.

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If you think this piece would look good in your home, mark your calendar for Dec. 17th and come out and see me at Zincks Inn in Berlin!

Have a great week, everyone!!

-Mary

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Money Makeover–Part 2

 

…continued from The Money Makeover – Part 1

So far you have heard what our financial situation was before budgeting (incase you missed it, click here to read about it) and now I want to share with you how it’s CHANGED! I really hope I can convey to you how we did this in a way that doesn’t sound confusing or impossible to those of you who want to try it!

First I am going to ramble a bit on how changed our financial situation really is..

In the past, I would literally dread to get the mail at times, in fear of a large bill. Now, there’s no worries when we receive our quarterly auto insurance bill or phone bill in the mail. There’s money sitting in our account waiting to go towards those bills. I don’t want to sound too smug here, because I realize things can always go wrong..hospital bills, or other non planned for expenses that could rock our world, but I like to think that at least we are doing the best we can for our current situation. If something like that comes up, we’re at least  better prepared than we were a few years ago.

There’s something about knowing where your money is going and being able to save some up, that makes you want to spend less! I know there’s a country song about that.. something about the less money you have, the less you care where it goes. Anyway, after being on a budget for about three months we were able to cash off a truck (see picture below), Smile buy a brand new chain saw (we have a wood burning stove to help heat our house, so it’s pretty important to have a good saw) and pay a decent sized repair bill on our family car. I mention this because in the past I know we would have ended up taking money from our equity loan or using a credit card for these bills. There’s nothing as freeing as cashing things off! Only then are you truly the owner!

Dave Ramsey’s motto is “Live like no one else so that some day you can live like no one else.” How true is that? We don’t mind driving a $600 truck that we were able to cash off last year. It will get us to the same place as a 2015 Dodge would. Even if it looks like this:

 

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If driving Rusty, as we call him, for a number of years, will help to get us what’s pictured below someday, payment free, it is totally worth it! Smile

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I could go on and on about the benefits of being on a budget.. the boys are taking interest in this, since they see it’s making a huge difference in our lives. We have an entertainment envelope and it’s so much fun to go do stuff as a family and not feeling guilty about spending money that should go towards groceries or something else of importance.

It’s also a JOY to be able to GIVE more than we have ever given before. We would love to eventually be able to give even more, but for now it’s such a good feeling to know we are using money more wisely. It is, after all, God’s money and we are only appointed to manage it for Him. (believe me, I have to remind myself of that fact daily!) 

We also feel pretty strongly about putting money aside to go on vacations now and then. After all, what is a better time to make memories as a family than when you’re together on vacation? We also realize we may not always be able to do so, but as long as it’s possible, we will budget for that.

 

I have one more little story to share before moving into the “getting started” part, so bear with me..

Last summer we were in a point in our lives where we were constantly struggling to make ends meet, as you read about in the first part of this series. It seemed financially we took a step forward and two back. I remember one evening I sat down and half heartedly tried to come up with an expenses and income list. We were always minus in the end. It was so depressing. Sadly, most of our family disagreements were money related. That was very depressing too.

Anyway, one morning last July I was feeling extra weighed down by this all this and was calculating the amount of money we would need to take care of a few major bills we had, along with the usual monthly bills that were due. It looked so bleak. At the time, I had sold a few items that I made and had been saving up the profits from that in an envelope (probably for the next vacation we couldn’t afford:/) So I got that out and counted it. It still didn’t reach the amount we would need to take care of the present bills.

The morning everything changed..

I remember exactly where I was sitting and what all was going on in those next few moments. Someone (I won’t mention names, by request) came to our house that morning and gave us an envelope with some money in it. They said, “We want nothing in return, we just want to help you guys out.” When I opened the envelope and counted the money through tears, of course, I couldn’t believe it! With that money and what I had stashed away, we were within ten dollars of the amount we needed to take care of all those bills! Praise God, that was the beginning. :) I remember thanking God (and giving hearts :)), and also vowing someday we want to do the same for someone else.

In order to start a budget, you actually need to be somewhat caught up with bills. In fact, it would be nice to be a month ahead – that way you would have a month to save up for the next month’s bills, if that makes sense. I would even advise you to raid a savings account, just to get ahead, because you are guaranteed to be able to put that money back in once you are on a budget. (I’m serious!)

Another way to come up with some fast cash is to sell everything you don’t use. We were surprised at how many things we realized we could do without! Dave Ramsey would say, “Sell so many stuff that the kids think they are next”.  :)

I know Mr. Ramsey probably wouldn’t advise borrowing a little money from a friend or relative, but I would almost think it would work, because I know how quickly you can save back up once you’re on a budget. Looking back now, the money we had received from our giving angel, would have been saved back up in a few months. It wasn’t a huge amount, but perfect for what we needed to get us motivated to start budgeting.

And if it’s impossible to start out without having a load of bills waiting to be paid, start the cash envelope system anyhow. Study shows people spend less if it’s in cash form. I know we do.

Also, just a note on paying off credit cards.. I would suggest visiting Dave Ramsey’s site for tips on how to do that. He has a method he calls snowballing, that works for people. As stated in the previous post, we did have a few credit card debts, but we paid them using our equity loan, since there is a much lower interest rate on that. I’m not a financial expert, but I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to get an equity loan to pay big credit card debts versus paying all that interest on them. Obviously the best thing would be to never have any credit cards to begin with, but since it happened back in the day when we were still STUPID (as Dave Ramsey would say) I guess we’d need to deal with it somehow.

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Getting started..whew, what a challenge! Hubby was excited to try the budget thing too, but him not being a writer he wanted me to draw the charts and make the lists, then together we discussed any changes we felt needed to be made.

Before getting into this, I want to say that just because this is how we are budgeting, doesn’t mean there aren’t other, even better ways of doing it, this is just what has worked for us and I want to share it with you.

1. Making Categories

First, I came up with all the different categories of expenses we have on a monthly basis, or sometimes weekly & quarterly.  I also made two sections, one for cash categories and one for debit categories. The cash categories we keep in separate envelopes with the name of each category on it. 

Something to keep in mind when making the different categories is the more categories that deal with cash, the better. I’ve heard Dave Ramsey repeatedly say that when dealing with cash you are much less likely to spend as much. There’s something about seeing that hard earned green moolah leave your hands that’s almost heart wrenching. Okay, maybe not that bad, but not as easy as sliding a debit card, or credit card.

I divided our expenses into two weeks, since our main income, hubby’s check, comes every two weeks. I know some people divide it into weeks or months, usually however often they get paid.

Here is an example: If your phone bill averages $240 a month, you would need $120 out of every paycheck going towards that, if you get a paycheck every other week. If you get paid weekly, it would take $60 out of every paycheck to pay your phone bill.

Below is an example of how I made the chart. I can be pretty old school at times, with just using plain old paper and a pencil, though I know Microsoft Excel is a good program to use to keep track of budgets. I will likely end up using that, eventually.

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These are our categories we are currently budgeting for. So far they work pretty good. If anything, we should add a miscelaneous category in checking. Now and then there’s a bill that does not fit in anywhere and it would be nice to budget for that. I am still learning as we go.

I’m sure not everyone would have the same amount of categories that we do. Some would have more and some less. Also, you could combine some of them, but for me I love having everything in separate categories. Even if some of the categories aren’t used year round, like the lawn care, or I’ve cut Netflix off at times, we still budget for it. That way there’s always plenty there and if there is an over abundance of money in a certain account, you can always move it to one that is lacking. 

* You may notice that we don’t budget for a few pretty important things, like property taxes, health insurance, doctor/dentist? There’s a reason for this.. Through hubby’s work we have health insurance and an HSA (health savings account) and we rely on our yearly tax return to pay our property tax. If we wouldn’t have all that, we would certainly budget for it.

Thankfully, our guesses on how much we spend on the different categories work pretty good. There were a few places where I had to shuffle, but overall, it’s pretty much stayed the same. I remember having a hard time calculating how much gas we use in our vehicles. At one time I had it set way too high, then I lowered it, but then we went over, so sometimes it’s best to keep it on the high side, that way if you end up building extra money in that category, it will come in handy to pay a random expense later on that has no category. (yes,unfortunately that happens :( )

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That total amount is what we need every two weeks. To me, this is the most important thing about managing our money. That number on that line will tell you if you need to get a new job, work three more side jobs, or cut back on the cost of living. We did two of the above. Seriously, it was scary to us to see that number. It made us realize hubby’s main job income isn’t enough. He does get a lot of good benefits so that made him keep the job and work two others. (no, we don’t want this forever, but for now it’s what we need to do) I also have my painting, fairs and a few other side jobs I do. And we did cut expenses out of our life that we felt weren’t necessary. Again, I’m not saying this to boast, it’s just what we need to do for now.

We are taking Dave Ramsey’s motto “Live like no one else so that someday you can live like no one else” to heart. 

 

 

2. Set up a budget savings account

This savings account is very important to us. It’s where any extra income goes into. Every two weeks, we take whatever income we made and put the correct amount into checking for what we need for our debit categories, get the right amount of cash for the envelopes, and if there’s anything left over, it will go into the Budget Savings.

 Now, unfortunately we have times when our income doesn’t reach that total amount and that’s when the budget savings comes to the rescue. The budget savings is definitely a must. The reason we chose to have it in a savings account rather than a checking account is because there’s no monthly fees and you can still freely move it around as you please.

 

3. Start an emergency fund

 

We have a what Dave Ramsey calls “an emergency fund.” We use a separate savings account for this. (not the same as the budget savings) It’s a 3 to 6 months worth of bills saved up for emergencies. Ours barely reaches that mark but enough that it offers us comfort in knowing it’s there. At one point in our life it looked absolutely impossible to save this up, but after being on a budget for a half year, we had it! We didn’t exactly budget to achieve it, but just sold some things or used any extra earnings to build that up, though you could make a category for that, along with your other monthly bills.

We use this emergency for things that come up that exceed the category amount and are very important. The most common being vehicle repair. We are not budgeting enough for this category. Since unexpected things tend to come up with vehicles, it’s just easier to budget minimal and then when something major comes up, like new motor mounts (which happened just recently) we can withdraw some of it out of the emergency fund. Some people call this fund the “transmission fund.” :/

The idea of this fund is if something should happen, like an injury that would cause the paychecks to stop coming, we would have this backup. It’s pretty important to keep it built up so you have it when you need it.

 

4. Faithfully keep the budget updated

 

This step is very important, of course. I sit at the desk going over our budget for at least an hour every two weeks. Sometimes it takes longer, especially if things don’t add up. (sadly this will happen) Even though there’s some head aches involved, I absolutely love it! I look forward to every other Friday to sit down and do this.

I also visit the bank every other week.

I’m sure the bank tellers groan when they see me come in there. I can be pretty high maintenance when it comes to operating our budget. :) I like to have a nice variety of cash, a certain amount of ones and fives, etc. We have an envelope labeled “boy’s allowance” and I like to have ones in there for “bribe” money. :) No, really, I like to reward an extra well done job with a dollar or two.

 One very important thing that I love do with our budget that I never heard about in the Dave Ramsey classes  is keep track of the debit categories individually. I’m probably not making any sense but I’ll explain it the best I can… With your cash envelopes, you can physically tell how much money is in each envelope or category. With debit, there’s somewhat of a mystery. Sure, you can lump all those categories together and have one big figure for all of them, but for us, I like to keep track down to the nitty gritty. So, I have a stack of papers with the name of each debit category on each paper. I then keep track of every deposit and every withdrawal from that category, almost like you would keep track with your checkbook. I like to think of it like every category has their own little checkbook or statement. Below is an example.. using random figures.

Note that the deposits on these statements are made every two weeks. Basically it’s just taking our biweekly debit income and dividing it into 13 categories. (the number of debit categories) It’s very important to us to put all our money into a category, going somewhere, so it’s not just floating around begging to be spent, like it has been in the past.

 

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Some categories, such as lawn care, may get numerous small deposits throughout a year, and only have three or four charges, depending on how often your lawn guy comes.

The “gas for vehicles” category always has the most transactions for us.

 

5. Hello Financial Peace!!

 

This is the best thing in the world! Seriously, it’s even better than being rich. And if that’s what you’re after, budgeting is a big leap in the right direction to obtain wealth.

 

So, I sure hope this all is making sense. As I read and reread this I know it’s far from perfect.. I feel it’s a bit jumbled and I use the word “category” to often, but if I can somehow portray just a small glimmer of hope in your life, financially, this is all worth it!

I would love to inspire you or get you fired up, to put it more bluntly, to start a budget. You will never regret it. We love it and would never go back to not knowing where our money is going, even if we were debt free.

Also, thanks for all the comments on Facebook, this blog, private messages, etc. I was a bit nervous of posting some of these things, but your interest kept my courage up. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Not that I have all the answers but I am willing to share what has worked for us!

Have a lovely Fall day, everyone!

-Mary

 

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Money Makeover- Part 1

 

For a while now, I’ve been working on this post, never sure if I’d ever publish it. So, I guess if you are reading this, I became brave enough to publish it! :)

I want to share with people who are in stressful financial situations as we have been, that there is hope! That’s why I’m publishing this. It is not to appear as if we have all the answers for every situation and are financially perfect, because we are not! Our life is just so much better than it was since we are on a budget and that’s why I’m sharing it with you.. in hopes that I can somehow be a motivation to someone out there who wants a financial change in their life.

I know, the word “budget” sounds so confining and deprived, but trust me, it’s not! It’s actually quite the opposite!

 

This post is on one of the best makeovers I’ve ever experienced in my life. No, there isn’t any paint or sandpaper involved, only realistic thinking and some paper & a pen. Oh, and a calculator.

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Let me begin by saying that I am usually a skeptic about things that sound too good. So if you’re like me and this post starts sounding like something too good to be true, please bear with me and hear me out, because it is good and true, but it IS also very possible for ANYONE to obtain.

If there ever was a post in the history of this blog that I ask you to SHARE with anyone and everyone you know, it is this one. Seriously, spread it all across cyber world, because I want EVERYONE to experience what we have had going on for a little over a year now. And we are nothing special, just an ordinary middle class American family making a living and staying in our budget to do it. And what’s best is we are not deprived or unhappy at all! Quite the opposite!

Two words that changed our lives as a married couple more than anything is FINANCIAL PEACE. We have  the dates of our wedding anniversary (6/4/98), the birth of our two boys (10/18/99) & (7/18/06) and the beginning of financial peace (7/30/15) to celebrate more than anything so far in our married life!

One of hubby and my biggest regrets in life is that we didn’t get our budgeting on track sooner in our lives. I cannot begin to imagine where we would be today, had we done that. So, any young married or single people out there, don’t wait until you’re about forty to do this!

One year and four months before we started our budgeting, we took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes.   Why we didn’t start budgeting immediately upon taking the classes, I don’t know. I guess it was because it looked impossible for us and probably because it sounded too good to be true. (I told you I’m a skeptic) :(

One good thing we did while attending the classes, was cut up all our credit cards. What a feeling that was!

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Part of us felt afraid (what if something came up that we need to buy, and there’s no money to pay for it?) and part of us felt victorious (no more credit card bills!). Looking back, that was one of the greatest accomplishments for us. We haven’t owned a credit card since and never will. I feel so smug and conceited every time I pitch those almost daily discover, mastercard, citibank, etc.(and yes, I purposely didn’t capitalize those words because they don’t deserve to be capitalized) envelopes into the trash. If hubby is around we make a show of it as the junk mail flies through the air, heading for file 13. :)

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The way it used to be…

Going way back, I want to share with you how we used to operate financially. I am usually not one to air our personal life here on this blog too much, but in this case I believe it may be of some help for those of you who can relate to operating this way.

We lived from paycheck to paycheck. Seriously, this wasn’t just a term or expression to us. We literally did this! When payday rolled around, the full check was spent already! When there was not enough there to meet our “needs” we got on each others nerves. Blame games were often played. I was the best, or worst, however you want to put it, at these blame games. When it comes to money, I am the nerd and hubby is the free spirit, so I was, and still sometimes am, the one to harp about how money is spent. I’ve always been the one to sit at the desk, taking care of paying bills and balancing the checking account. Hubby appreciates this since it’s not something he enjoys and I don’t mind doing it, so it works out well. I think it’s also some of the reason I would be the one to complain, since I saw first hand where the money was spent. This is not to say that I didn’t do the same thing at times.. go buy things that we had no money for. :(

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We had no idea where our money went. Again, this was not just a casual expression to use, it was literal. Our money was like a lost, dark movement floating around somewhere.

 

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Somehow the flow would land here and there, taking care of some bills, bouncing around in the dark, never being enough. This went on for years. Again, if we would have gotten a hold of this sooner, I’m pretty sure there would be less wrinkles and gray hair for us. :/

The worst thing finally happened. (at the time, we thought it was the best thing) That plastic card seemed like the answer to our financial struggles, so we gave in and signed up for a credit card. After all, we would pay the balance every month, right? Looking back, I am surprised we didn’t resort to this sooner. We were married ten years before getting that first card, a mastercard. It seemed so easy. After a while we felt the lure of a discover card. It offered rewards for a certain amount spent. That would be gaining money, right? After all, we were going to buy groceries anyway, might as well use the card and get money by doing so! We never owned more than those two credit cards, but it only takes one to build debt.

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At first we were very faithful in paying them off every month. Then something would come up that we felt we needed to buy, so we would put it on the cards. Christmas time rolled around and we wanted to make good memories for the boys, so we put all their gifts on plastic. An appliance gave out. We put a new one on the card. We can’t live without appliances, right? I won’t even begin to mention some of the poor choices we made regarding those blasted cards. I just know it felt fake living like that. It was like you had “stuff” to show, but inwardly you knew you didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t paid for, after all. It all felt hollow. Of course, as it usually goes with credit cards, we ended up not being able to pay off the debt every month, so interest emerged. The “rewards” we were promised suddenly seemed like a joke.

One poor choice led to another. We even signed up for an equity loan to start a little side business, which ended up not doing so well. The worst part was we began using the equity loan as another credit card! Even after we disposed of those ugly cards, we would withdraw from the equity loan “fund” to make ends meet.

Ever since we have had children, I have been a home maker, but I’ve always had some sort of little side jobs going on. I would be embarrassed to share with you all I have dabbled in. Seriously. I like to try new things. Enough said. But, unfortunately we misused that income most of the time too.

Since we lived from paycheck to paycheck with hubby’s check, we would use this side money for pleasure mostly. We felt we were so tightly strung out with paying bills, etc. that we deserved to use the “extra” money as blow money. I am embarrassed to admit this, but we, or I especially, felt since my first duty was that of a home maker, any extra money I made wouldn’t need to go towards the usual monthly bills, groceries, etc. After all, I didn’t need to make money. Hubby never wanted me to work out of the home. We both felt it was more important for me to be at home with the boys, which I will never regret. (Though I realize there are circumstances where both parents need to work) So this “extra” money could go towards a vacation or new cookware, right? After all, we want to keep up with our friends and blend in, right?

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I could go on for quite some time about poor decisions we made financially, nothing really major, but a bunch of little ones adding up. We got so tired of living on the edge, never knowing where our money went and never having enough. The area that we ended up being most deprived of was groceries, of all things! That was always what came last. We would pay our bills and what ever was left over would go towards food. No, we weren’t starving, but the cupboards were never really nice and stocked up either.

I think in the back of our minds we knew there would surely be another way to live with more stability financially, but we felt we couldn’t get on track. We were always able to pay our bills, but nothing more. How could we ever save money that way?

So some of the reason we didn’t budget sooner was because we felt we didn’t have enough of an income to even budget. After all, we were always minus in the end, right?

Another thing I am embarrassed to admit is the fact that we never tithed at that point in our lives. Oh, we would throw a twenty or two into the offering, but that of course, wasn’t tithing. Only later in our life did we discover the real meaning of the word tithe..literally giving ten percent of your income! This could be a whole other subject alone, because I seriously believe if you tithe, you will be rewarded in so many ways, even financially. In the past when people told me that, being the skeptic I am, I would think how could that be? But, it really is true! We are able to give more money than we have before and now we have more available than in the past, and don’t have a bigger income.

 

July,2015

 

My sister and her husband had been on a budget for a while already and always tried to encourage us to do the same, but us being the skeptics we were, it took some time before we finally gave it a try. To this day we give them credit for getting us started. We also took the Dave Ramsey classes, which played a huge part in getting our way of thinking on the right track. I mean you can’t help not liking the guy. He makes sense. Plus, he’s hilariously funny. :)

The thing that was hardest for us was how do we ever get started? After all, living from paycheck to paycheck, how could we ever get any money into an envelope or category for next month’s bill? The paychecks were spent already. It always seemed like we were one step behind, which looking back now, we literally were.

Since this post is getting a bit long, I will make two of them, so if you want to see how we did it to get started for a  MAJOR MONEY MAKEOVER and FINACIAL PEACE, stay tuned! Part two is coming soon!

 

 

 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Deer Sign Tutorial

 

I can hardly believe that I’m sitting outside in the dark on October 17th, typing this blog post! It’s a very pleasant 71 degrees,with a slight breeze going, and crickets singing on high. What awesome weather we are having!

Last week I made a sign that someone ordered for her boyfriend, who is a hunter.

I haven’t shared a sign tutorial in a while so I thought I would share this one.

It started out as a plain piece of maple wood..

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I applied a dark stain, using a bristle brush. I rubbed some of the stain off before it dried, using an old t-shirt. I did this in sections.

After the stain was dry, I sanded the piece, to get the color a little lighter. I planned to use black paint for the letters that would go over the stain and wanted that to show up.

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                       Before sanding                                                             After sanding

 

Next I found a silhouette of a deer that I downloaded and enlarged, using Microsoft Office Word. I played around with it until I had it the size I wanted. It ended up being six pieces of paper.

I taped it together and cut it out. This was my stencil. 

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I used double stick tape to tape it down and since I used my sprayer to apply the paint, I put stones along the edges of the deer so the paint wouldn’t creep underneath the stencil.

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I then sanded the sign, especially around the edges.

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Next I was ready to print out the letters. I played around until I had the right size. The font style I used is called Segoe Print.

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I taped down all the letters and measured everything, to make sure I spaced it evenly.

I traced the letters using carbon paper to transfer.

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I used yellow carbon paper for the letters that were on the stained part. It showed up much better than the black.

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Before painting the letters, I stood back and eyed the sign, making sure everything looked evenly spaced. 

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I used a paint marker to color the letters.

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And the final result..

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Of all the techniques I have used in making signs, this is still the one that will turn out best for me. It takes a little more time, but it is usually worth it!

I hope you are all having a lovely fall. Thanks for visiting!

-Mary