WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!

Well, it’s official!! We can yell “WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!!” Yes, it is true. We have completed baby step #2 of Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover Plan, which is to pay off all debt besides your mortgage. Sean and I paid off approximately $77, 500 in under 2 years (January 2012-November 2013). Our debt snowball included our automobile loans and college loans. We were fortunate that we did not have any consumer debt, which would include debt such as credit card debt.

DR (source: www.daveramsey.com)

There are a few things that I have learned thus far on our journey to financial peace and freedom:

1)      A budget is absolutely essential for success: when you have a plan and tell your money where to go each month, you can ensure success. Starting off with a budget can be overwhelming and it may take a few times to “get it right”, but once you figure it out, your budget is your best tool. Sean and I actually look forward to sitting down to plan our budget and review it each month now.

2)      It is beneficial to be “gazelle intense”: some people don’t decide to be “gazelle intense “ about paying off their debt snowball. Sean and I were and it was every bit worth it. Being gazelle intense means “you need to work as hard to get out of debt as a gazelle works to run from a cheetah”. Read more on gazelle intensity here: http://www.daveramsey.com/article/gazelle-intensity-do-you-have-it/lifeandmoney_debt

3)      You don’t have to live on “rice and beans”: There is a common misconception that those that follow The Total Money Makeover plan are living on a “rice and beans” budget. This is not necessarily the case. Don’t get me wrong, you have to make sacrifices, but you can still budget to have fun and live life.

4)      However, the sacrifices are well worth it: It is about living like no one else now, so you can live like no one else later. Essentially making the small sacrifices now, in order to prepare for a solid future. We are looking forward to a bright future! Sure, we have had to cut back on frivolous spending, eating out, vacations, etc. However, we know this is just temporary and really we haven’t missed out that much. Actually, it has been somewhat rewarding and has changed our perspective on life. It makes you think twice before you spend your hard earned money, and it makes you appreciate the small things in life.

5)      There is no such thing as “good debt”: Our society lives under the impression that we must have debt to have nice things. What happened to the good old fashioned concept of saving money for things that you want or need? People think that you need debt to build a good credit score, etc. However, if you are not living on debt, you don’t need that score. I find it sad that those that work hard to save money and pay for items in cash are the ones that are penalized or considered “odd”. Our grandparents generation did not live on debt and saved money to make purchases, rather than buying everything on credit. We are only a few generations removed from that concept and living that lifestyle. I would like to see our society go back.

6)      Working together with your spouse and agreeing on finances strengthens your marriage and bond: This is probably one of the most important lessons learned and the most gratifying. Having a strong financial foundation has made our marriage stronger and strengthened our bond as a couple. With the rates of divorce today in our society being greatly attributed to financial disagreements in a lot of cases, the aspect of agreeing on finances is comforting. Especially when it comes to making big purchases, you and your spouse should be on the same page.

We are hoping to call into the Dave Ramsey radio show to be able to give our “debt free scream” and share our story. Another venture we would like to take is a trip to the Nashville, TN area where the Financial Peace Plaza is located with the couple that recommended the Dave Ramsey The Total Money Makeover plan to us and guided us through getting started on our journey. We would like any chance we have to pay forward the great opportunity that our friends presented to us through sharing our story or offering any tips/advice to those that are interested in beginning a journey towards financial peace through The Total Money Makeover. Consider that an open invitation to contact myself or Sean if you have any questions! We would love to help!

The Honest Life

One of the areas I mentioned that I more recently became passionate about is living a healthy lifestyle.  My sister, Charley, uses the diapers and wipes from The Honest Company, whom Jessica Alba is one of the founders. Since Charley swore by the diapers, I decided to start exploring and experimenting with some of the other products The Honest Company has to offer. The Honest Company has a vision to provide “safe, eco-friendly, beautiful, convenient, and affordable” household products to the homes of their customers. So far I have tried the Stain Remover and the Multi-surface Cleaner with which I have been overly impressed. The products are safe and reasonably priced considering so. I more recently started taking a multi-vitamin daily, but I decided to order the pre-natal vitamin (no, not for a particular reason. I have just heard the benefits of a pre-natal vitamin are great!) and the omega-3 fish oil supplement from The Honest Company. The reviews listed on the website were great! I have yet to begin taking them, as I need to cycle out of my multi-vitamin still, but I hope to get noticeable results and will keep you updated. My wish list from The Honest Company includes: Oxy Boost, Floor Cleaner, Fruit & Veggie Wash, Conditioning mist, and the Body Oil.  I am sure that wish list will continue to grow, but the above listed products are a few things I plan on ordering in the near future as needed. The company continues to develop and add new products to their website monthly. I have enrolled in a monthly bundle service, since I will be ordering the pre-natal vitamin and omega-3 fish oil supplement on an ongoing basis. I was slightly confused on how the program worked, so I called The Honest Company customer service number. The customer service representative was beyond helpful and very friendly. I am a very satisfied customer thus far.

One of the other items on my list was the book, The Honest Life written by Jessica Alba herself. Since Charley ordered it, I decided it wasn’t necessary and took the opportunity to read hers. After reading it, I have decided I will still purchase the book myself to continue to resort to in the future. The book was a very easy read, and Jessica outlines it in a way that is easy to navigate. Jessica discusses everything from food, to cleaning and beauty products, to style, and parenting. She calls her way of living Honest Living. Jessica offers so much great advice, and she has many tips and resources available to educate yourself on healthy living. She simplifies a topic that can be very complicated. Sometimes that makes the reader nervous because you wonder if the agenda of the writer is not honest and genuine, then the reader can be mislead; however, I got a sense of nothing but genuineness from Jessica Alba as a writer. I initially thought, “I wonder if she will just try to sell her company”, but she did not. In fact, she does mention her product but often also mentions alternatives. I promise you won’t be disappointed in reading this book.

HL

Here is a link to The Honest Company website and the book:

https://www.honest.com/bath-and-body/the-honest-life

Warrior Girl

Today I am feeling very blessed to be surrounded by people that are motivated to make a difference in the lives of others. The same friend that I featured a few weeks ago who is raising money for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is pursuing another passion. Autumn has decided to create a new venture by starting a Facebook page to promote healthy living. The main goal of her health page is to encourage others to live a happy and healthy lifestyle. She is constantly encouraging and motivating me to continue to live a healthy lifestyle. You can call her my accountability partner. Having her as my shift partner at work makes it easier to eat healthy, and even though I cannot workout still, she is constantly role modeling her efforts in fitness, which is motivating to witness. Please click on the link to her Facebook page Warriorgirl and “like” the page to follow her. She will be sharing great recipes, tips for healthy living, fitness advice, and generating other health related discussion topics. Let’s all follow together on a journey to healthy living 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152079577519225.1073741912.222223969224&type=3#!/warriorgirlpage

WG

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics

One of my best friend’s, Alycia, is fulfilling another one of her passions. She is participating in the Polar Plunge to raise money for the Special Olympics on November 16th. I have participated in the Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics on two previous occasions, so this event holds a special place in my heart too. The main reason that this event is such a passion for Alycia is because of her older brother, Jeff, who is a participant in the Special Olympics. I personally know Jeff and what a great person he is. Alycia speaks highly of Jeff, stating “I have a brother who is higher functioning MR. He is the kindest and most giving person I know!” Follow the link below to find out more about Jeff and why Alycia is so passionate about raising money for the Special Olympics. Please consider helping Alycia reach her goal for fundraising. It is a good cause…Good luck Alycia, and thank you for “freezing for a reason”, as they like to call it!

Here is the link to Alycia’s fundraising page:

https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/AlyciaStauffer/dubuque2013#.Unw_k2dLhxA.facebook

AlyciaBros

Alycia with her brothers, Jeff on left

 

Random Acts of Kindness

As I stated in my very first post, following blogs is a recent past time of mine. One of the blogs that I follow is the House of Rose blog @ http://houseofroseblog.com/. As a blogger, she covers home décor, fashion, DIY and motherhood. In one of her posts, Mandy, made a calling for “ambassadors” for the House of Rose. Our role has not yet been clearly defined, but essentially we are a bunch of gals wanting to make a difference in the world in one capacity or another. We have our own private Facebook page in which we can share ideas amongst each other with different ways to make a positive impact in the world.

With the holidays coming up, I wanted to use the House of Rose ambassador page as a forum to “pay it forward”. I suggested that as House of Rose Ambassadors that we coordinate a Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) movement for the holidays. I thought since it is about two months out from Christmas that now would be the time to start generating ideas, etc. It isn’t anything too formal, but have been bouncing ideas off each other and inspiring each other to make a difference during the holidays through Random Acts of Kindness!

Now is my challenge to all of you. Want to join the Random Acts of Kindness movement for the holiday season? Are you going to join the challenge? What are some of YOUR ideas? Please share! I can’t wait to hear about how all of you are making a difference in the world 🙂

Here is the message that I printed and handed out to spread the RAK:

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK)

In place of exchanging gifts with our family this year, we have decided to spread holiday cheer in a different way by displaying Random Acts of Kindness. You’ve been RAK’ed! We hope you decide to “pay it forward” and continue to spread joy into others lives!

Happy Holidays!!!!

Here is a list that I have come up with and used last year:

1)            Taping candy canes to ATM machines around town

2)            Tape quarters to meters around town

3)            Salvation Army bells

4)            Randomly pay overdue utility bills

5)            Taped change to vending machines

6)            Buy someone’s groceries (or give gift card to person behind you to use towards groceries)

7)            Buy someone’s meal/drink

8)            Give cart to someone at Aldi’s

9)            Gift for mail carrier

10)          Fill someone’s gas tank

11)          Leave money at the carwash

12)          Leave a generous tip

13)          Shovel neighbor’s driveway (FREE)

14)          Leave quarters at Laundromat

15)          Pump someone’s gas

16)          Send a care package to a Troop

17)          Take cookies to police department/fire station/EMT station

18)          Leave dollar bills attached to Toys at Dollar Tree

19)          Take a set of holiday books to a local women’s/kid’s shelter

20)          Give hand warmers to Salvation Army bell workers

21)          Pay for Santa pictures for someone at mall

22)          Leave small Christmas treats/gifts in shopping carts for folks to find

23)          Offer to babysit for free (FREE)

24)          Pay for person behind you in drive thru

25)          Tape quarters to kids gum/toy machine

26)          Leave inspirational quotes in random places (FREE)

27)          Buy someone popcorn at movie theater

 

Here is a link to my Pinterest board of ideas for Random Acts of Kindness.

http://www.pinterest.com/ginabean05/rak/