Monday, August 14, 2017

BIRTH MONTH!!!!!


BIRTH MONTH!!!!!! We finally made it to August!! We are expecting our second little guy to arrive any day now, and we could not be more ready. Although I don't think it's really sunk in that when this pregnancy is finally over I will have a second baby to take care of haha! But ready or not, he should be here in less than two weeks! August is my birthday month as well, and we had a really good time celebrating! Birthdays are one area we decided would definitely be worth it to scale back on to put more of that money toward debt. To be honest, I didn't even realize the difference. Tom and I had a great dinner together, and he bought me the perfect gift - a book on creating a successful eBay business - and Madi and I bought fun notebook journals together and had a coffee date. My family came over for take-out dinner at my house, and we had a really good time just hanging out and eating cake and ice cream. I got some birthday cash from my parents and grandma, so I picked up a couple of nice little clothing items on (you guessed it) eBay for next summer. Very low key and fun and relaxing.  It might have been my favorite birthday yet.

We took a weekend "babymoon" Dave Ramsey style. Free babysitter (thank you grandparents), free hotel room (points from Tom's job, booyah) and entertainment that will make us money (a full day of thrifting for the "bay"). I'm sure there might come a time in our lives that we will splurge on big trips and birthday parties, but I'm really enjoying being creative and simple with our celebrations. It really helps me to focus on what I'm actually celebrating.

My eBay project is ramping up nicely! I just hit a little over $3k in my 31-day trailing sales, so that's a huge milestone for me! So exciting! I have been using every bit of my profit to beef up my inventory for my "shopping maternity leave" and invest in some equipment (lighting kit, inventory storage), but I expect to be able to take some money out next month, so that is my next goal! I'm really excited to see what kind of damage I can do to our car loan balance with this project.


My eBay business is taking over my room! This is my photo wall and lighting kit! 



All of my listed inventory and the tip of my "death pile" iceberg. 
My new best friend - a handheld steamer! Much easier on dress clothes than an iron! 

Money money money!!!! 

It's important for me in this journey to keep circling back to the "why". I have the type of personality that wants to go big or go home, so I tend to stress out easily if I'm not hitting my goals (which lbh are probably a little high) or making the progress I want to be making as fast as I want to be making it. I have to make myself step back like at least every day if not multiple times a day and say "why are you doing this". I want to be debt free so that we can honor God in the finances he's given us and so that we can set our kids and family up to succeed financially and so that we can use our money to bless others rather than being a slave to our paychecks. When I focus on that, I am able to view this journey in a bigger picture and take a deep breath and rest knowing that we are doing what we can do and that every dollar matters. If one month looks better than another month or it seems to be taking longer to pay off debt, we still have a roof over our head and food on our table and healthy happy babies and a beautiful marriage and we are taking steps in the right direction. The rest will fall into place.

It's really good accountability for me to have this blog, so thank you so much for reading! I am really excited about some side hustle opportunities coming up this fall, so here's to hoping for big debt payoff numbers to report in the next few months!!

xoxo,

Maxie

Thursday, July 27, 2017

July Wrap-Up

Walker "helping" me sort items to list on my eBay page :) 



We are wrapping up the final week of our first month back on our debt payoff plan. With minimum payments included we paid off a total of $640-ish in debt this month, bringing us to a grand total of $17,354.19. It's less than I originally calculated that we would be able to do for this month, but I am not disappointed by any means. Progress is progress.

I think that's one of the things I can take away from this month, that everyone's story is their own, and we all have different things that come up, both good and bad, that will affect our debt free journey positively and negatively. We had a couple of unplanned for expenses that were unavoidable this month, and that's just part of the ride. The important thing is that for the past 27 days we have made conscious decisions regarding our spending and told our money where to go instead of the other way around. It feels really good, and I am just as excited to start August.

I think it's important to emphasize that there is no right or wrong way to get out of debt. There are of course really helpful guidelines, like the Financial Peace "Baby Steps" from Dave Ramsey, but what truly matters is your mindset and the finish line. For example, the first time we paid off debt we sold at least 60% of our belongings including some big items, like Tom's motorcycle and 75% of my wardrobe, to get a jump start. The last year or so we have really tried to embrace the idea of minimalism and living with less, so that being said there was a lot less crap laying around my house to sell this time. Hence the side hustle haha - I now buy other people's crap to sell LOL. Again, the first time we paid off debt it was just me and Tom, and we were both working and out of the house more often than in it, so we were able to take our food costs down to a bare minimum. This time around with Walker we have realized that it's really important to have legitimate sit-down family dinners together (i.e. cereal is not a legitimate sit-down family dinner to me), and that's not something we're willing to give up, so we've had to revisit that item in our budget and make sure there is enough allocated for those groceries.

For people to be successful in this idea of financial freedom, I think it's paramount to make it your own thing. Find what works for you and ditch what doesn't. That being said, if your "thing" is binge shopping on Amazon, you need to find a new thing, but be okay with your timeline and your ideas and your budget being different than everyone else. Give yourself a couple weeks to make a plan, find your groove and then HUSTLE and get it done.

On a different subject, we are so excited to welcome baby West into the world in just a few short weeks! We have done everything we know to do to prepare for having two children, but I'm pretty sure in the end we are going to be just as tired and overwhelmed as we were in our first few weeks with Walker. At this point my body is so done being 9.5 months pregnant in this heat, so bring on the chaos! I am ready!

Thanks for reading, and as always, please feel free to share in the comments or message me with any ideas you have on debt-free living, debt payoff, etc. I'd love to hear!!

Maxie

P.S. You can  follow me on Instagram or Bloglovin' for updates!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Rave Damsey Week 3



Just a few of my finds from the Goodwill this week!! 


Happy Monday!! Just wanted to post a quick update this week on our debt free journey! We are just over two weeks in, and this month so far we've paid an extra $230 on my credit card! Which is pretty substantial considering that the last three months we've baaaaaarely made it or had to borrow from savings to get through the month of just our day-to-day expenses. Right now I'm not really to the challenging stage yet - it actually feels really good to say no to extra purchases knowing that I'll be able to take that money off of our debt balance. I'm still in the "honeymoon" phase. Tom seems to be holding up well despite the fact that we have had nothing but plain popcorn to snack on for the last two weeks haha! It's amazing how much money you can cut out of a grocery budget by eating simply though.

Right now it kind of feels like we will NEVER get through $18k of debt, but I am just focusing on sticking to the plan and reminding myself that every dollar counts. I felt this way at the beginning of $45k in debt too, so we will ignore those feelings and set our minds on hitting our mini-goals.

It's not a surprise to anyone who knows me that shopping secondhand is one of my favorite ways to save money. It's like a treasure hunt! I have been frequenting Goodwill lately, and I never cease to be amazed what I can find in there. This week I bought an unopened jumbo size box of Up&Up diapers for $15, normally $29! It's something that will randomly save us money as West grows, so I can look forward to an extra $30 payment on our car in like six months when I don't have to buy that pack of diapers at Target haha! Thrifting is a great energy outlet for me, and I love being able to save our future family money. I've also been finding tons of stuff I can flip on Ebay for a little profit, so that has been a really fun side hustle the last few weeks. So, thanks, Goodwill!

Side note - I have talked to SO MANY people in my life that are skeptical of or grossed out by resale shops and/or buying used things - I have no idea why haha, I can't even imagine our family's possessions or wardrobes without resale. Maybe I shouldn't be giving away all of my secrets, but I have found COUNTLESS clothing items new with tags or clean, perfect condition, and then even the most random things like unopened diapers and Bath and Body soaps for pennies on the dollar of retail cost. All it takes is a little digging! Give it a chance, I promise you will become addicted. It's so much fun! Just don't steal all the good stuff because, you know, I'm still here...

Thanks for reading! If you have any great budget hacks or any kind of debt payoff ideas/strategies, I would love to hear from you!!

XOXO

Maxie








Monday, July 3, 2017

So It Begins



July has officially started which means our +/- 18 months of Dave Ramsey baby steps is underway!! One of the areas I plan to hit really hard right off the bat is our food budget. It's something I have a lot more control over than other spending areas that tend to be a bit more unknown (for example I can't really plan for the weather to be in the 70's and reduce our air conditioning bill). I found several yummy looking recipes on Pinterest that use either cheap ingredients or a small amount of ingredients and are still fairly healthy, so I thought I'd share!




There are pages and pages of frugal cooking pins, so make sure to use that as a resource if you're looking for more ideas! 

Summer seems to also be the time of year for us that there are a lot of neighborhood get together's and church events where each family brings a dish to share. I have always tried to put a lot of effort into these appetizers, and the cost can really add up if I'm making unique dishes with a lot of ingredients. Over the past couple months I have found that people enjoy a good fruit salad just as much as any other dish I've made, so that is my new go-to. Aldi carries a mixed frozen fruit bag for a couple of dollars that is delicious! Two bags is more than enough for a large group. I get them out the morning of the event so they can thaw and throw them in a pretty dish - voila! This kills two birds with one stone as I am going to need a quicker, easier option with two kiddos as well as something that is budget friendly. Feel free to use this idea as long as you and I aren't going to the same party. :P Jk jk. :) You can never have too much fruit salad. 

Our garden is finally producing some fruit...and by that I mean I was able to pick exactly one squash, one pepper, and three cherry tomatoes, so we are ringing in somewhere around $9 per vegetable so far haha! Not sure this was the most lucrative investment, but it's been fun anyways, and the veggies we've had so far from it have been delicious. I think next year will be much better when I know a little more about what I'm doing. The plants are growing a lot, so I'm hoping we are able to start getting some more fruit out of these little guys! 

If you follow me on Instagram you saw that I was able to stand strong against some pretty intense temptation in the Cat & Jack aisle at Target today. Right now I am counting every win to try to gain some momentum and motivation, so that one is FOR SURE going in the books. 

Thanks for reading!! Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Bloglovin' for updates on our journey to financial freedom! 




Monday, June 26, 2017

Baby Steps



Over the past year we have been pretty lax in our budget. It's just been one of those crazy times - we were moving, switching up jobs, learning to be parents, walking through loss, celebrating our growing family - it has been easy to push our financial goals to the back burner. After paying off $45k of debt in the first three years of marriage, we turned around in year four and bought a new house, a new vehicle to fit our growing family and also splurged on a few too many renovation projects. I would still say that we were "reasonable" in all of those purchase categories, but when you don't have money to spend I guess $1 might as well be $1000 because it's still not your money. With a new baby coming in just a few short weeks, we have decided that it's about time to buckle down and gain back the momentum we had going on our baby steps.

I'm definitely the nerd in our marriage as Dave Ramsey would say it, and pregnancy has given me a lot of open hours when no one else is awake, so I have spent a considerable amount of time planning out our baby steps. It's a different animal this time around, because we are now a one-income family with two babies as opposed to a two-income family with one baby. We definitely have our challenges cut out for us in the time ahead, but I was pretty shocked to find out that on a really strict budget we could potentially make it through the first five Baby Steps in under 18 months. It's going to take a lot of planning, several side jobs, and ALL OF THE SELF DISCIPLINE THE WORLD CAN OFFER, but it is doable...on paper anyway. I'm not dumb enough to assume that nothing will happen in the next 18 months that we aren't planning for, but still I'm excited to see how close we can get to that 18-month mark. I love a good challenge...and this will be the mother of all challenges.

We have currently completed Baby Step 1 - save a $1000 emergency reserve as well as Baby Step 2 - pay off all debt except for your house, and half of Baby Step 3 - save a 3-6 month emergency reserve; however, with the new vehicle and a couple house projects on credit cards we are sliding back to  Baby Step 2. Our goal is to complete Baby Step 2 by May 2018! This time around I really want to focus on disciplining my spending. Anyone can pay off debt, but I think it takes a lot more work to learn how to live outside of that cycle.

I am going to attempt to write weekly updates on our journey through the Baby Steps. I know it's really encouraging for  me to read about other people's progress, so I hope I can be encouraging to someone else as well. A life of financial freedom is possible, and we are excited to make it happen for our family! I would love to hear any suggestions, ideas, and success stories, so comment away! You can get blog updates by following me on Instagram or by following Three Fergs on Bloglovin . Thanks for reading!

XO

Maxie

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Struggles of a Pregnant Type-A Ultra Nester




So...nesting is for real. Someone please back me up on this. With Walker it didn't hit me until like the beginning of the third trimester, but this sweet baby boy due in August must be a lot like his mama, because the nesting bug is already in full force with 17 weeks to go. It doesn't help that I already lean toward the side of extreme organization and over-preparedness on top of all of these raging hormones telling me to GET READY. Exhibit A: I woke up at 4:00 this morning in like emergency mode with the realization that I don't have a car seat or DockATot for this child and it needs to be in my house pronto as if the baby will undoubtedly be sleeping on the floor and riding on Walker's lap if I don't get these things at least three months in advance.

I'm also in full house mode trying to get all of my projects done before August, and last night alone I painted my front door, removed a kitchen cabinet, painted the wall (the wrong color of course so there's that) and ordered all of the shelving I still need for the entire house. It's exhausting and it's expensive, and I just thank the Lord for gifting me with a patient, understanding spouse who will love me unconditionally despite the many boxes that will be arriving at our house over the next couple of weeks...

With all this craziness going on in my brain the last thing I'm thinking about is my wardrobe. My regular clothes don't fit like they should, but maternity clothes are still a little weird looking. Every day I am looking for something in my closet that I can just throw on and go. The Julia dress by Lularoe is like a literal godsend. I can throw it on with leggings and sneakers for a super cute casual Target run or dress it up with booties and a necklace for church. It gives me the confidence I need to make it through a full 12 hours of toddler wrangling without losing myself and the flexibility I need to get 25 things accomplished at once. I'm thrilled that the soft, stretchy fabric fits me now with my bump and will also look amazing postpartum so that I can continue with my low key, minimal effort wardrobe in the midst of double the diaper changes and a fourth of the amount of sleep. An added bonus for me is the modesty of the neckline when it comes to all the bending and twisting and leaning of momhood.

I am so excited to be partnering with LulaRoeJulieForster to offer a chance to win a $25 LulaRoe shop credit! You can find out more details on my Instagram page. Make sure to check it out!




Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My Little Social Media Hiatus

Okay so my 40-day social media fast turned into a two-week social media fast, which I still think is pretty good. Forty days is waaaaaay longer than I thought and in my personal opinion perhaps should be reserved for fasts by more disciplined people...like Jesus. (I am the monkey emoji covering my face in shame) Here are some things I learned/observed:

 1) I am not addicted to social media. One thing that scared me in the past when I contemplated coming back on to the social media scene was becoming addicted to it. During the last two weeks it  was pretty refreshing to be out of the loop for a little bit. I would say that I spent a similar amount of time on my phone just doing different things. I figure I maintain a good balance, because I didn't have a sudden breakthrough realization that I waste so much time on social media or anything. I think my routine is roughly the same with or without.

 2) It kind of surprised me that a good deal of my social interaction is via social media, and honestly I'm not sure I see that as a bad thing. Even though I see and talk to my closest friends on a regular basis it's nothing compared to being involved in their day to day experiences as well as the other people I follow. I enjoy getting those sneak peeks into everyone's days - it makes me feel more connected to my far away besties and helps me become more acquainted with newer friends. I might have previously found this to seem unhealthy as if I were spending time developing/maintaining "fake" relationships or whatever, but the friends I choose to follow on Insta are pretty much just real people who post their real lives. Just an interesting observation, because I have definitely viewed social media as a negative in the past for whatever reason. I think it has more positives than I  realized.  

   >>> Side note: This is really interesting to me. I have heard many people reference social media as an arena where people post their fake, perfect lives; however, I view Instagram for example as a place to share the best parts of my day with an obvious understanding that that's what I'm posting, the best parts. Do you view a "curated" feed as a false advertisement of someone's true life, or as a place for good memories like our parents' photo albums? Do you find yourself comparing your worst to others' best, or do you find yourself enjoying the happy break from negative things for a  minute? I naturally tend to lean toward the second, so I'm genuinely curious to know if I'm alone in my view on this subject! <<<

 3) I take waaaaay fewer pictures when not using social media. On a positive note, I feel like I was maybe a bit more "all there" in the moment playing with Walker or spending time with Tom, but the downside is that my sleep deprived self is not going to remember a lot of those moments without the pictures I normally have to refer back to. I don't know why I am not naturally inclined to take pictures, but I literally don't think of it until after the moment has passed (notice I had literally not one picture to share on here from the last two weeks lol). Wanting to be able to share my special moments with my friends and family motivates me to document more, and as long as it doesn't become obsessive or too much I think I will appreciate having snapped those pictures in the long run.

Well there you have it. Lessons learned from a social media break. I'm happy to be back.

XOXO

Maxie

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hello Again



Shew! Having all-day "morning" sickness and keeping up with a 14-month old are kicking my booty!! It has been several weeks since I accomplished more than keeping Walker alive and laying on my couch. At first it really stressed me out to be out of commission, but the more time passes with piles of laundry and cereal for dinner, the more I'm okay with it. I am growing two humans after all, one on the inside and one on the outside, and I've got to say, one is currently not easier than the other. Thankfully I have super supportive men (who as you can see are thoroughly enjoying helping me grocery shop) and family and friends, and despite the nausea and exhaustion, these days are gold.

I have been participating in a 40-day prayer challenge with the women's ministry at my church. We are reading through "Draw the Circle" by Mark Batterson, and it's been life-changing to say the least. I have struggled for a long time to find the time and motivation to make prayer a priority, but after committing to and experiencing this challenge, I can't see how I ever survived without the peace and power of daily prayer. I am really excited to be starting another 40-day prayer challenge when this one is complete, this time in the form of a 40-day media fast with the purpose of dedicating the time and energy I spend blogging, Instagram-ing, Pinterest-ing, etc. to prayer. I am so ready to hear from the Lord during this time and to be strengthened and encouraged in the work He's given me to do.

We have taken a break from big house projects in order to focus more of our finances on our financial "baby step" number 3 - building an emergency fund. It's sobering and sanctifying for me to realize exactly how much of my money and time and even self worth are tied to the decor in my home. I all of a sudden feel as though I have nothing to do and no purpose to my day. Like, what?! I LOVE to decorate, and I don't think there is anything wrong with decorating; however, when the need to decorate replaces the initial reason of decorating, which for me would be to provide a warm, inviting home for my family and friends, I think it's a good indicator that a step back is in order. I'm looking forward to practicing contentment and enjoying the space we've been given as it is, unfinished though it may be.

This week was a huge milestone for us in pregnancy number 3. We finally got to hear our sweet baby's beautiful heartbeat and watch him or her bounce around like crazy on the screen. Everything looks healthy and right on track! We are so encouraged and so full of hope for this brand new little life. Nothing will replace the baby we lost, but what a healing process it is to experience another life forming in my belly. We are already so full of love and anticipation. It is so incredible the way the Lord's peace has overwhelmed me in the last couple of months. I have had my times of fear and doubt, but never without a gentle whisper from the Spirit that He held me then and is holding me now. Our God is so faithful.

Thanks for catching up with me. Hoping to keep current with updates as I get some of my energy back.

XO,

Maxie