Blessed.

Home Sweet Home

Yesterday we picked up the keys to our new home!!

It is an apartment; not a house. But that doesn’t make it any less special. Family members have lovingly provided a roof over our heads the past seven months; now we have our own place!

Getting an apartment, as opposed to a house, was slightly influenced by attending FPU. We want to be smart with our money. Even though we have enough money to get into the apartment, we don’t have enough yet to rent a U-Haul for all our stuff that is currently in storage. So, we’re going to temporarily make do. And fortunately for us, the couple that led our FPU small group is loaning us a set of pots and pans, and a few dishes. Otherwise, we have a couple camping chairs. And we’ll be sleeping on sleeping bags. I guess it’s a good thing we enjoy camping. And this has an upside–air conditioning and no bugs!

God’s Covenant

The most awesome part about yesterday…

When we stepped outside our apartment, there was a gigantic double rainbow right overhead. It reminded us of God’s promises:  God loves us, and will be with us. A rainbow is one of the only natural phenomenon mentioned in the Bible, that God used specifically to signify a covenant, and intended as a reminder in the future that he always keeps his promises.

We felt so blessed.

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FPU Goals

Attending Financial Peace University has been so inspiring!

What’s for dinner?

The other day my husband and I sat down to outline our financial plan for the next four years…

And if I write those goals out here for all of you to see, that means there’s more pressure to accomplish them, right!?

So here they are:

  • Pay off all debt
  • Second car
  • 10 year anniversary trip to Hawaii

Now don’t you feel better after reading that? I know it makes me feel good to write it, because I know it’s possible! It’s actually possible to get that all done in less than four years…. But don’t tell anyone…

 

F.P.U.

You know, I’ve always thought Dave Ramsey had good things to say, and his company promoted good ideas and values…. But I never really dove into his stuff.

Until now!

Last Sunday was our first FPU class. For those of you who don’t know, FPU stands for Financial Peace University. I don’t know about you, but financial peace sure sounds good to me!

The website makes it easy to find a local class. They’re usually hosted by churches. The classes last for thirteen weeks, a couple hours each. For the first hour, you watch Dave’s presentation of the lesson on dvd. For the second, you meet in a small accountability group.

This last Sunday’s lesson covered the Seven Baby Steps (click here to see a list of all the FPU classes)

FPU Kit

  • Step 1:  $1,000 in an emergency fund ($500 if your income is under $20,000 per year)
  • Step 2:  Pay off all debt except the house utilizing the debt snowball
  • Step 3:  Three to six months expenses in savings
  • Step 4:  Invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement plans
  • Step 5:  College funding
  • Step 6:  Pay off your home early
  • Step 7:  Build wealth and give!

My husband and I are both so excited to be heading down this path!

Some people have commented that we don’t need a class like that–we handle our money so well. Some people tell us we need to take it. We decided since we’re in a transitional stage of life, trying to figure out how to financially handle living in a new area, it was a good time to get some education.

Have you heard of FPU before? Why did you or did you not take it? If you did, how has it impacted your life?

Related Posts:

Money, Money, Money! by meMaigan

2012 Financial Goals April Update by Chickens, Cows & Children

God and Finances by On Planting Seeds…

The Joining of Your Money by Modern Wonder Woman

My Bucket List by LiteraryEllyMay’s Blog

Credit Card Addiction by Financially Literate

Here we go…. by Our Freedom Story

The Joys of Unemployment

I left my last entry on a high note—with a temp job. Well right after I posted, I received a message that my temp position had been discontinued. I guess there’s a reason they’re called temp jobs!

I had an interview last Tuesday for another job—temp to hire this time—and I thought it went really well. But I haven’t heard back yet, so my non-positive guess is it’s a no go (I’ll keep you updated). But at the very least it was great interview practice!

Lester Declawed

We’ve spent our free time moving in with my husband’s brother and sister-in-law, contacting key people, getting the cat declawed, crunching numbers, researching, filling out applications, sending out resumes, looking apartments up online, looking at options…so many different options.

This is my third week of not running…at all! Of course, a week of that I was very sick. That marathon may need to be put on hold…

When my dad heard what we were up to, he called me with some advice. He suggested I apply for unemployment benefits. In the past I decided not to because I didn’t want to take taxpayers’ money, especially when I was capable of working. And I figured in this situation I wouldn’t qualify because I voluntarily resigned. He told me though, unless it was different because I was in a different state, I would qualify because my boss had not been paying me on time. Also, he said for a certain length of time, unemployment benefits are taken out of the employer’s contributions to unemployment, before it hits taxpayers’ dollars. I know he suggested this option because it’s a possibility, and he wants his “little girl” taken care off. But honestly, I don’t know what to think.

Advice, readers?

Changes In the New Year

People enter the New Year with resolutions to make changes….

How many times do people choose something that turns their lives upside down, and follow through?

My husband and I did just that. After several months of looking for another job, a lot of thought, discussion and prayer, I quit my job without another lined up.

Disclaimer:  Our decision is not recommended for most situations. It appears against logic. A friend mentioned, “Faith was never intended to be a substitute for intelligence.” And we completely agree! But this was a decision that was made very plain for us.

Jeremiah 29:11

So. We spent New Year’s Eve and the following days with my mother-in-law, considering all our options for the future….jobs, apartments, etc. Last Tuesday I had a job interview with a recruiter. The following day I started my current job. It is a temp job with the potential of growing into something more. At the very least, it puts us near where we had been financially.

We have family to stay with and a job secured (temporarily) But many more things to figure out:  apartment, selling/renting our house, another car, pets, another job….

It is a huge choice we’re taking one day/aspect at a time. We are plowing ahead, believing we can make it.

Of course, I will keep you all up to date on our progress, struggles, and victories!

Anyone else make any unusual resolutions for the year 2012?

Creative Solutions for Christmas

This year my husband and I had to improvise a lot when it came to Christmas gifts… at least compared to what we normally do. As I mentioned in a couple previous posts, The Beginning of Our Impossible Dreams and Financial Obstacles, we technically live on one paycheck. This is our first Christmas season as such. Hope you can garner some useful tips from below!

  • Meaningful but Inexpensive

There are several different routes you can go with this one:  ornaments, stocking stuffer novelties, individual handy tools, candy, etc. We bought for three people out of this category, totaling $27.00

  • Rewards Points

Some people claim you should steer clear of credit cards. But if you can trust your self-discipline, they can come in handy. We have two credit cards, use them only for what we have budgeted, and pay the balance down every month. Our rewards points can be used to purchase gift cards. So this year we purchased an Amazon gift card and bought a Christmas gift that way, spending $11.00

  • Homemade

There are many options with homemade:  baking, knitting, crochet, embroidery (our sister-in-law embroidered our initials on a couple kitchen towels!), scrapbooking, ornaments, painting, drawing, etc. I drew a simple cartoon-like picture for our niece. And my husband, who is a wonderful realistic artist, did graphite drawings of our niece for his mom, brother and sister-in-law, and grandparents. You can visit his website at goginstudio.com  We did have to buy mats for the pictures, but my husband had a gift card he received to cover those. Those were $6.00

  • Clearance

If you know where to look, or you wait until it’s close enough to the holidays, you can usually find some pretty good stuff on clearance. We bought for two people, totaling $10.00

  • Something from Home

I’m not usually a fan of gifting something we own. But this year we realized we had something, never been used, that a particular person would greatly appreciate! $0.00

  • Remember the Love

My husband and I did not get each other gifts this year. Not enough money. Sure, I was disappointed I couldn’t surprise him as a means to show him how much I love him. At the same time, we have each other and we love each other. That’s more than many can say. $0.00

  • Expect the Unexpected

No matter the consideration put into careful planning, there are always going to be unexpected expenses. We wanted to purchase a gift for a couple people with our Amazon card, enabling the gift to be nicer than what we could afford with our own money. Due to unexpected timeframes, we had to use our own money instead. Also, we didn’t have the wrapping needed for our artwork, so had to spend for that too. The present was $10.00, and the wrapping $4.00

  • Wrap it Up

Gift-wrapping seems to be an expense many people don’t take into consideration. It’s not an actual gift, right? But it’s still an expense. In the past I’ve used newspaper and paper bags when needing to improvise. We still have wrapping paper we got on super duper clearance after the holidays a couple years ago. And we reuse gift bags given to us. So other than the wrapping mentioned in ‘expect the unexpected’, we spent $0.00 on wrapping.

Picture I drew for my niece

The Pictures My Husband drew of our niece

Obviously, you have additional holiday expenses. For us, that would include groceries for contributing to a work party and holiday meals, and travel expenses. Fortunately, we received a Walmart gift card, a $50 check from a friend, and a $100 bonus, pre-Christmas.

The total we personally spent this Christmas was $51.00 (not including taxes)

Most people I know spend hundreds of dollars on Christmas—it’s the American way. So our total may seem a little extreme. But when finances are tight because we aren’t receiving either of my December paychecks this month, we have to make some sacrifices to cover needs like our house payment, gas bill, and groceries. Fortunately, our friends and family value each other (us included!) more than material gifts.

Are there any more ideas you can add to the Creative Solutions list?

Pinching Pennies: Windows, Garage Door, and the Library

Winter isn’t the easiest season for finances, for various reasons:  The weather, expectations at holidays, and finding ways to entertain ourselves indoors. Below are three ways we have handled financial friction…

  • Windows

This past June we moved into our first house–a foreclosure. Beautiful house, 111 years old, affordable…..tall windows. A little drafty. Ideally, one would purchase a more efficient furnace, invest in insulation, or look at replacing windows. We are currently in a position to do none of those. Instead, we bought insulated curtains that were on clearance, for our larger windows, and hung blankets or towels over the others. And more importantly, taped heavy plastic around the windows. Hopefully that keeps the gas bill low enough!

  • Garage Door

After the cold weather started hitting, our garage door started complaining. Several mornings I had to hit the button multiple times before it was up enough for me to get our car out of the garage. Finally one morning, it jammed with the motor going and going and going. My husband came out and detached the motor. We could hired someone to come out and fix it for us. Instead, we are opening and closing our garage door the old fashioned way–using our hands.

  • The Library

In the past it’s always been easy to rationalize renting movies, going to the theater, or buying books. Individually those privileges don’t cost a lot. But when you’re on as tight a budget as we are, it adds up. Alternate solution:  the library card!

It’s always good when there are alternate solutions! This year for Christmas we had to be more creative because of financial reasons than ever before. Next week I’ll share our solutions for this year’s holiday…

Merry Christmas, readers!

Our Christmas Tree