Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Free Quiznos!

For anyone out there looking for free stuff (as I always am), Quizno's is giving away one million free subs... and there's no strings attached!

Go to...

and sign up for your free coupon. Its limit one per person and you have to have an id. You will get an email with a link to the site and you can only print your coupon once. Once printed, it will expire in 5 days. There's only 400,000 left, so sign up and enjoy a free sub.

I think we're going to go tomorrow for dinner and drink water... we might just bring them home and eat our own chips :). (Because I'm not buying them there!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Sometimes, its hard. Its most definitely not easy. I see friends buying houses, and I want to buy one, or people buying houses and using credit cards that shouldn't. It makes me want to holler and scream and tell them that they're not doing it right! That they need to work on other things first and slow down a little, that there will be a time for a house and a nicer car and more spending, but right now isn't the time, not when you have $50k + in debt.

Sometimes it makes me jealous, I often wish that we hadn't discovered Dave Ramsey until we had bought a house, and made some other mistakes, but I know that in the long run I'll be happy. Our future house will be a blessing, not burden and we'll have it paid off within 15 years... at the most! And we'll be millionaires by the time we're 40! We won't have to worry about Charlotte's school or our retirement. I know we'll get there, but somedays I just want that house, with a fenced yard and a big garden, oh and an attic for storage. I really hope we can afford one by the time Charlotte is in Kindergarten. I think I'll be more sad if she starts school and we haven't bought one, or aren't in the process of it.

I also don't understand why EVERYONE isn't doing the Baby Steps... it doesn't matter where you are in life, you can still do them! But then, its working for us and I like it, so shouldn't everyone?

Well the baby is waking from her nap, I best go get her.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Where to start YOUR Voyage

If you are thinking about going debt free, I HIGHLY recommend reading "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. I'm sure you're local library probably has it and you can find it at almost any bookstore. (Though the library is free, yay!)

After we read the book, we decided to enroll in Financial Peace University (FPU) and I think that really helps too. You can find locations and times on his website (and if you have kids, most everywhere has free babysitting). It is a 13 week course that teaches about all kinds of things. There are lessons in emergency funds, going debt free, the importance of different kinds of insurance, investing, and the list goes on. It was very motivating and helped us meet some people who were going through the same things that we were (and some people in completely different walks of life too). It was very very informative and really interesting, but then I kinda enjoy that kind of stuff.

I will warn you, reading the book and going to FPU makes you look at all the mistakes that you have made and sometimes its really hard to face those. I hated the fact that we ran up a credit card and that I took out so many student loans... if I had only worked a little harder or gone to a cheaper school. Since, I have overcome them and I'm happier that we found Dave Ramsey and know what to do with our finances now, instead of making mistakes and not discovering what the right thing to do with our money is until 10 years from now (other sentences will be better than that one, I promise!)

I think that a financial plan is SO SO SO important. Before we started this, we had no plan. We lived paycheck to paycheck, and we're trying to figure out what we wanted to do. Thankfully, we discovered Dave and have changed our lives and our lifestyle, forever! We will be millionaires by the time we're 40! That feels GREAT to say!

PS-Thank you for the comments, they keep me motivated! Its such a joy to see people I don't know reading what I write!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Debt Snowball-February

So, we just wrote our check to the loan that's next on the debt snowball for a grand total of......



I worked on next month's budget too, and we will be paying an extra $445.98 towards our debt next month. (Unfortunately, we won't be getting any expense checks for the next few months because of Phil's job). Plus whatever money we happen to find, or have left over in our envelopes (only a few) at the end of this month will go towards it. And when we get our tax return... there should be another 2k or so to go towards them too, woohoo!!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009


We signed up for Identity Theft Insurance!! Its through who Dave Ramsey recommended, Zander Insurance Group. Its $140/year. So I paid for it all up front and we are going to create a sinking fund in order to save for it so we'll keep paying for it by the year (it would cost us $10 more a year if we paid monthly).

We also received our Last Will, Living Will, and Power of Attorney today in our email. We will have to work on filling them out and finding a couple people to witness (can't be related, in the will, or receiving anything). They will then need to be notarized, which I believe I can take to the bank. Phil will have to find some time in order to get his notarized... during bank hours. Maybe someone at his work is a notary.

I feel good, we're getting things done. Next order of business, life insurance! That's a big one and I don't know very much about it... eeek!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


So, I decided that its time to tackle the insurance issue!

Phil has life insurance through is work, equal to one years salary. That won't get us very far. I'm thinking about taking $500,000 out for him. That would get everything paid off, a house, and money to invest, while I find a job and can care for Charlotte. Dave recommends 8-10 times annual income, and thats just over. Of course we'll do term life insurance and I think for 20 years.

For my life insurance, I'm unsure what to do. I'm thinking just $50,000. It would take care of burial and such, and pay for a couple years of childcare. By then, Phil would be making more money and Charlotte would be getting close to school age, where childcare costs less. Does this make sense?

I think we'll pay the life insurance's this year monthly, it ends up to be a little more, but then we're not trying to find a large sum right now, thus delaying us buying life insurance.

I ordered our Will's today. The company has a combo pack that includes the Will, Living Will, and Power of Attorney. It costs $29, plus $15 to get a second copy for Phil. The payment should be approved within a day and Phil and I will need to take some time to get them filled out, copies to loved ones, and such.

The Identity Theft Protection is $140/annually or $12.50/month. I'm thinking of paying this one right now (since we can), and saving the amount each month, so that we can pay in full again next year. This will save us $10. I need to talk to Phil first, so I don't spend the money without him knowing. I'm hoping to do this today as well.

Phil also will need disability insurance. I will have to look into it some more, but that is also on the to do list. I'm not sure what his company offers at this point, so I also need to look into that.

I guess its time to go listen to Dave's lecture on Insurance from FPU!!

Our Debt

Debt we have paid off (only listed when a loan is complete):

$2000-Ring (credit card, paid during grace period with 0% interest)
$1500-MST Student Loan-Phil (paid during grace period with 0% interest, through MST)

TOTAL: $3500.00

What we have left, in order of debt snowball:

$2076.41-DIRECT Student Loan-Phil, minimum $50.00
$2567.67-MOHELA Student Loan-Anna, minimum $26.79
$3016.32-Hospital Bill for Charlotte's Birth, minimum $100.00
$3524.71-MOHELA Student Loan-Anna, minimum $41.29
$3600-MST Student Loan-Anna, minimum $40.00
$5387.70-MOHELA Student Loan-Anna, minimum $63.10
$5429.31-DIRECT Student Loan-Anna, minimum $63.30
$6369.61-Credit Card, minimum $153

TOTAL: $31,971.73

We'll get there, but it feels like its going to be a very long time!! Plus, I think part of those minimums go to interest, which I don't think is listed in the amount of the loan, so less actually goes to the principal.

Will edit to add starting balances of all debt listed above.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Consolidated Loans... Kind of

So, I was looking at one of our student loans, about 11k, and upon further investigation, it seems that it is actually 3 separate loans, lumped together... or consolidated (by the bank, not me). Reading a little more, any extra payment will be split across all three loans, unless otherwise specified. I guess I'm just a little confused on this snowball, should I pay off the lowest of those three loans (its what comes next) and have them put all the money towards that loan, then work on the next, or should I just keep them together and call them one loan? I don't think there will really be a difference financially, maybe emotionally though. One loan, suddenly turns into three smaller ones...

Anyone thoughts?

Friday, February 6, 2009

What should we do?

So with the news of Phil's office laying off two more engineers (one senior and one at his level), it makes me wonder if we should put this debt snowball on hold. I know that I've mentioned it before, but they have laid off 3 1/2 people since the end of last week, when the memo came out about layoffs, and Nashville was NOT on the list. I wonder if they just closed all those other offices? Long story short, his boss said that the office is now at the break even point, but my question is for how long? Should Phil be looking for another job? Should we be saving all of our money?

Those of you that have been through FPU, I'm the woman and I want to save money, espically when times are hard. That fully funded emergency fund is looking rather pretty at the moment, unfortunately we don't have it, we have a baby emergency fund of $1000. And I know I'd feel stupid if Phil never looses his job, and we wasted money in an efund, but I think we'd be really grateful for it if something does happen, and we need the money. One of those hindsight is 20/20 things, but unfortunately I can't jump ahead and see what is going to happen.

I just wish the economy would jumpstart and get going again. The past few months has really started to hurt people, and I'm so afraid that we're next. Especially with a baby and a lease and bills... its getting really scary out here. I wish Phil didn't have this Clarksville job, so that I could get a job at the local Kroger or something for nights and weekends. We'd have a lot more money for our debt snowball and/or money to save. But with him gone all the time, I could only work nights, and thats not goint to happen. But at least he has his job!!!!

Any and all advice is welcome. Should we continue with our debt snowball and only $1000 in a baby efund? Or should we put it all away to save? Or do some of both?

Monday, February 2, 2009

February Budget

So in order to look back, I want to track our budget month by month. If anyone has any tips or thoughts on where we can take money out for our debt snowball, feel free to let me know.

* We have $300 in a Health Savings Account or something (doesn't roll over year to year, but we can use it now... comes out pretax, each paycheck).
* Monthly take-home income is: $2793.28 I think it will go up because Phil changed his claims from 2 to 6 today... being married, having a child, etc.
* A " * " next to the category means we are using the Envelope System.

*Charitable Gifts: $50
Rent: $808
Renters Insurance: $13.08
Water/Sewer/Trash: $47.86 (changes by a few dollars every month)
Internet Service: $27.45 (Will go down to $20.45 in 6 months, we are paying $7/month for 10 months for our modem. I think we will cancel this as our neighbor lets us use hers and it works fine. We would have to pay off the modem, but that would save $20/month).
*Grocery: $330 (I've been playing with this number from $300-$350... $300 is now not enough with Charlotte using some formula for cereal, and $350 was too much last month).
Car Insurance: $77.22 (Right now this is only mine. Phil's would be $65 for everything or $45 for comprehensive).
*Repairs and Tires: $40.00
*Gas and Oil: $0 (We had almost $300 in here, so we put most of it towards our debt snowball. We usually budget about $250 since gas prices have gone down).
*Children's Clothing: $30
*Adults Clothing: $40
Health Insurance: $210.17
*Miscellaneous: $15
*Household: $120 (I have recently upped this the past few months from $100. It covers everything that is not food. Diapers, shampoo, lotion, etc.)
*Toys: $15
*Gifts (Including Christmas): $20 (We put a lot in last month, so I put less in this month).
*BLOW $: $25
*Pet Supplies: $30 (For dog food, toys, and vet visits).
Credit Card: $153 (Minimum just went down by $2, yay!)
MOHELA-Anna: $131.18
Direct Loans-Anna: $63.30
Direct Loans-Phil: $50
Hospital Bill: $100
Debt Snowball: $204.55

TOTAL: $2793.28

Beginning in March, we will have another loan to pay back. They had a 9 month grace period. One was Phil's which we paid off in January, the other is mine. I believe my minimum payment will be $50.

Feedback is always welcome!

A little back story...

To begin, I think I should start from square one.

Most of our debt is student loans. Phil has two that he got his freshman year. His parents paid for the rest of his school. For me, I got a couple freshman year at SLU and then the majority of them came my junior and senior years at Rolla. Junior year I had gotten married and the plan was to take the loans because they had 0 interest until I got out of school, then pay them back right away because we had the money... and let it grow during that time. As we all know, that didn't work out, so I got stuck with a lot of student loans from that year. My senior year, I got a lot of grants and some loans too, since my estimated family contribution was so low.

And of course we have the credit card. It wasn't too bad until I couldn't pay for all of my school stuff, so I had to put some on there. And then moving down here, we put a lot on because we just didn't have the means to save while in Rolla, so we lived about a month or two mostly on the credit card (not rent), so the credit card is not a pretty sight right now.

The last debt that we have is the hospital bill from Charlotte's birth. Its just over $3100 and we're on a payment plan with the hospital right now, with no interest. It'll be nice to pay that one off, then I'll feel like we can think about another baby!

I've always been interested in money and have hated the idea of debt/loans/etc. I never really had a plan to pay it all off though. After talking to my dad a lot, he recommended Dave Ramsey. He then gave us a copy of Dave's The Total Money Makeover, and we read it very quickly, and became motivated, we finally had a plan!! After Charlotte was born, we signed up and have since graduated from Financial Peace University. I highly recommend it for anyone who is on the fence about attending. It is a time commitment, but very helpful and motivating.

Since discovering Dave, we have developed a plan for our finances and paying off our debt. We are following his baby steps and are currently on baby step 2. (We added in baby step 1b... pay for a wedding with cash). It is very comforting to finally have a plan. We also have a monthly budget that we stick too. It took a few months to get one that worked, but now that it does, I wouldn't do it any other way. We use the envelope system, where you put cash in envelopes for different categories. That too is very helpful, because when we're out of money, we're out of money. There have been a few months where we have to scrounge around and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and whatever we can find for dinner (no we don't starve, we just discover what is deep in the freezer and should be eaten anyways!). I'm also trying to "penny pinch" wherever possible. I do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi's (just started this past month) and that saves A LOT of money. We also buy all of our clothes on sale or at stores like Ross's, TJ Maxx, or the like. That saves a lot of money too. We also have a deep freeze now, so that if I find something on a super sale, I buy a lot. For example, I haven't had to buy chicken in a very long time :).

Hopefully in the next few days I will get up our totals and write out the debt snowball and such. I hope I can find a free calculator online so we can see our "date of freedom" if we just pay the minimums... of course it'll need updated when we pay extra on them.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What I wrote in the other blog

So, I've decided that I'm also going to write about our Debt Snowball here, so that I can look back for some encouragement whenever I need it.

For those of you that don't know, Phil and I are following Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps. We took his class, Financial Peace University, and graduated right before Thanksgiving. We haven't used any credit cards since Charlotte was born either!!!

Baby Step 1 is start a baby emergency fund with $1000. We completed this right before our class started, I believe in late August. We put the money in the savings account and its not attached to our checking account or anything. Thankfully, we haven't had to touch it.

Then, it just took us awhile to get going. We started FPU and that was great! It was nice to have a more concrete plan and someone to help us with our budget. There was a lot of good support there too.

In September we paid off my ring... it was on a credit card with 3 months, no interest. We paid it off in the 3 months and closed the account. That was during the beginning of our class, in September. There was $2000 on it (another $1000+ paid in cash to purchase it).

After that, it just took us a while to get our budget balanced. We decided that we really wanted to get married so we added in Baby Step 1b, and paid for our wedding with cash. We did not want to go into debt for it. We saved about $2000 in September-early December and paid for our wedding. The rest of December's extra money we used for gifts, because we hadn't planned very well (before September) for Christmas time.

Finally, this January we were able to start our Debt Snowball! In January, Phil got an extra check (he gets paid every two weeks, so two months a year he gets an extra check). We used it and more money that we had for our debt, to pay off the lowest student loan for $1500. It was our first thing and it felt so good to write the check. Since we paid it before February 1st, we didn't have to pay any interest on it! We then put just over $450 on his other student loan, the next smallest, which is just over $2500 with interest right now (before the $450). It looks like we're going to have another $700-800 this month to pay on it, thanks to mystery shopping, expense checks, and spending less than Phil makes.

I will be posting more documents, just outlining our debt snowball, different debts, and a few other forms that we received during FPU. They're more for me than anything for motivation... but feel free to look. I'll be updating them every few months too so that I can see the progress!

I encourage everyone to check out Dave's Radio Show. You have to put in your email, but that's so they can tell you what radio station it is on in your area. I also STRONGLY recommend Financial Peace University, it costs about $100 and its a lifetime membership (so you can go back again). It is good for all people in all different places in their life. It is often offered at a local church, but you do'nt need to be a member or anything to attend.

If you have ANY questions, don't hesitate to ask!


So, after a little thought, I decided why not start another blog exclusively about our journey to Financial Freedom!

To begin, I decided on "Voyage" instead of "Journey" because we love cruises and traveling. Someday, we will be able to go on a wonderful honeymoon cruise, until then, we're on our Voyage to Financial Freedom.

In a few minutes, I will post what I wrote on my "The Start of a New Years Resolution" blog so that its over here as well.

I am planning to update each month with the new balances on each debt that we have. I will also post any extra money that we have been able to put towards our debt snowball. I think I will also write to talk about good deals that we have had, share our budget, and any struggles, etc. that we have. It will take a few posts for the back story, so bear with me.