So, it’s been a while….

I guess you could say we got off track on the debt free plan. Life hit us, HARD. The good thing is we haven’t accumulated any new debt. The bad thing is we really haven’t made much headway, on our past debt, in the last 6.5 months. It sucks. It makes me pretty darn upset. I mean yeah, things come up that change your plans and you just gotta go with it. We will get stuff paid off eventually. BUT, I STILL WANT TO BE DEBT FREE BY 2020.

So, what can we do? Do we just settle and push back our debt free date? There has to be something else we can do. There has to be.

So we happen on this one day and my almost 8 year old son absolutely falls in LOVE with the idea….

16 year old builds tiny home to guarantee mortgage-free future

Our house is our biggest expense. So it makes sense that downsizing it might actually put us back on track. So we’ve been reading, researching, watching videos, trying to decide if we can actually make this happen for us. We have kids (3 +1 on the way) so it seems that it would tricky to find space for everyone. I don’t know. Maybe it is out of the question but, we need to do SOMETHING. We are not happy sitting here owing money on our house and on that stupid, stupid credit card. Whatever we do it is going to have to be drastic. I just don’t know how drastic at this point.

I guess it is time for more reading, more planning, and more ideas. We WILL be debt free by 2020, the question is how?

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. -Socrates

 

Food Experiment #1

So every once in a while I don’t know what to cook. Sometime its because nothing sounds good. Sometimes it is because there is really nothing left to cook. What is a busy mom to do in those situations? That’s right, we improvise!

A little of this, a dash of that, bake for 30 minutes and its like a miracle (or a fiasco) depending on the day.

Today I had one of those days nothing I had pre-prepped and frozen sounded good. So without a recipe and no idea what i wanted, I set forth to make something tasty…..

Today’s ingredients: Whole chicken, raspberry hazelnut vinaigrette, lemon, garlic powder, and fresh Rosemary from the garden.

Today’s Method: No measuring. Just throw everything into the convection roaster and wait.

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Miracle or fiasco? Only time will tell but it sure does smell yummy!

It’s that time again!

Time to pay the bills, AGAIN?

It was tight this month but our credit card (that we haven’t used since 2009) is FINALLY under $15k!! Big milestone, huuuge milestone. When we started this journey it was double that.

Next month we plan to pay it down another $2k. If we keep at this pace we’ll have no trouble getting it paid off by Christmas. Talk about an awesome gift. I just can’t wait!

Slackers? I think not!

Sorry i’ve sort of fallen off the face of the planet. These last few weeks have been insanely crazy. We have been working like there is no tomorrow.

What we’ve accomplished in the last three weeks:

We planted a small orchard (we now have 18 trees).

We put up just about 300 foot of fencing (I am not looking forward to finishing the rest of our nearly 3 acre property).

We cleared a TON of brush and even cut down a few gigantic pine trees to make way for our fence.

I started organized our pantry and freezer.

I cut all the fabric needed to make 40 super spitter bibs (18 of them for my sister-in-laws twins).

I made 6 pound cakes for the freezer (seriously, yummy!)

I also made 30lbs of cookie dough for the freezer. Yes, I realize this sounds insane. But, I am a true bulk cooker.

I am tired!  But man we got a LOT done.

I’ll go into more detail about each of these projects in the coming weeks. But until then, I think I deserve a nap. :P

Paying bills & having fun too?

Today is bill paying day. It wasn’t always this way but, bill paying day is a good day. These days we actually have a little bit of extra money to work with and that makes it a little bit fun. We still have $16,522.81 to pay on our credit card but are really making some headway with paying that down. We are still on track to knock that out this year!!
 
We did something a little bit crazy today: We bought the fencing and designed the layout for our orchard. We plan to have 20-24 trees in all. I am most excited about the almond tree. I’m kind of a nut so it stands to reason, lol. :P
 
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My almond tree. It even has a flower already. Exciting huh?

Anyways, this weekend is going to be full of extremely hard work. We have 7 trees to plant (pomegranate, almond, apple – grafted 5 in 1, nectarine – 2 different kinds, cherry – grafted 3 in 1 and bing) plus some raspberries and blueberries.  Hopefully the kids cooperate and Greg and I can get a lot done. Wish us luck!

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

 

We are a work in progress

We are a work in progress, ever changing, adapting as we walk down the path to our goal. Each step holds a new adventure for us.

As we were working on our garden path this weekend, I started thinking about how our plans have changed over the years. All the things we have been through have led us to this life, this path.

It seems that everyone wants to be debt free but not many are willing to make the hard cuts to make it happen. We ARE making those cuts every single day. We make very few purchases but, the ones that we do make are nearly always well thought out. I say “nearly” because we do have the occasional slip up. This is a hard path. It is not for everyone but it IS for us.

I am looking forward to the day that we pay the final payment on our credit card. We will briefly take a look back at the path that we’ve travelled and then dive headlong into paying off our house!!

As we lay the stones for our garden path I am reminded that even though we know where we want to be, our path is not set in stone. We have the freedom to deviate and change our path. As long as we keep our eyes on the goal we will get there!! :)

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.  
-
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Here chickie chickie…..

Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw
 
Knowing where our food comes from is extremely important to us. In addition to our debt free journey we are also on a journey to cut out all pre-packaged processed “foods”. After all, we want to be around to enjoy our life when we are debt free, right?
 
Why hello there!

Why hello there!

At the beginning of the month one of Greg’s co-workers adopted chicken from someone who could no longer keep them. There were more than he wanted so he offered us 4 hens that were already laying. We had already built a chicken coop so we said, “YES!! We’ll take them.” I was really nervous about getting them while the weather was still so cold but, they made it through the freezing temperatures just fine.

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They are awesome little chickens and I am glad we got them when we did. We are getting 16-18 eggs/week (the perfect number for our family).

Had we stuck to our original plan (getting baby chicks in April) we would have still been buying eggs until October when the chicks were mature enough to start laying eggs. Sometimes modifying the plan a bit is a good thing. :)

Our first eggs!!

Our first eggs!!

Now I’m off to search for re-usable dishwasher safe egg cartons. I know they exist it’s just a matter of finding a good quality one at an awesome price.

Recipe: Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

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Our eating out budget is $60/month. We are extremely frugal so we are almost always able to go to a nice sit down restaurant twice a month (unless of course we splurge and go to Cattlemen’s). We also allow $20/month for fast food. We are trying to get away from that but sometimes when you are out and about it is just plain unavoidable so we built it into the budget. Pretty decent for a family of 5, huh?

So, what I’m getting at is this — We eat at home a lot. Years ago (before my middle child was even born) I stumbled upon the inspiration for this recipe. I have no idea who or what gave me the idea but I know something did. When I figure it out I’ll be sure to give proper credit.

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

  • 6 tilapia filets
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 c. parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 tsp. parsley

Directions
Melt butter and pour 1 tsp over each filet. Sprinkle parmesan cheese to cover top. Add a pinch of parsley to the top of each filet. Bake at 375 degrees, until edges start to turn golden brown (aprox 15-20 minutes).

It is super easy and is one of the BEST ways to eat fish. Go ahead and give it a try you won’t be sorry!

The Plan

So I’m sure you are wondering how we plan to get out of debt and still continue to live a normal life. Well first off let me warn you, we are NOT normal. I have never wanted to be normal. Being different was my thing (ask anyone who knew my 11-year old, multicolor headband crocheting, self). Being different was cool. Umm yeah, we are very very insanely “cool”. ;)

STEP #1 – REDUCE SPENDING
In this step we will eliminate wasteful spending and become better stewards of the money we have. We started this step back in 2009 when we nearly lost our home. Our funds were extremely tight as it was and then my husband got an unexpected reduction in pay it pushed us over the edge. At this point we decided to stop using credit cards to stay afloat. Anything we could cut, we did. Losing the house just wasn’t an option for us neither was adding to our debt.

If all our debt was gone right now we would need roughly $1k/month to live, including food. The lower we can get this number the easier it will be to live without a guaranteed monthly income.

STEP #2 – INCREASE INCOME
I am a stay at home mom to three kids. I am also homeschooling my oldest. So this part will be tricky for me. I can’t realistically pull in a full time income but, I can come up with a few different income streams. My goal is to make a fairly steady $1000/month from home by January 2015. Add that to my husband working towards doubling his salary and we might just have a chance to make this happen.

STEP #3 – ELIMINATE DEBT
In this step we plan to attack our debt head on. We owe just about $16k in credit card debt (accumulated before 2009). We are planning to knock that out in less than a year. Then we will move on to our $20k equity loan. After that we will start paying down the mortgage on our home. We are still undecided as to if we will stay here long enough to pay it off or if we will sell it to buy our forever home. Either way, the goal is to not have a mortgage or any other debt by 2020.

STEP #4 – SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
This step will seem so much simpler when all the debt is gone. We want to save up enough money to cover our basic living expenses for 2-5 years. We would like our income streams to sustain us when my husband is no longer working but we don’t want to be stupidly optimistic that every month will work out perfectly. Having a fairly large savings (that will more than likely be invested in mutual funds) is our backup plan. If however the savings is ever low enough that it alone will not sustain us for two years, someone will have to start looking for a “real” job. That will also be our motivation to not touch the savings.

So that is a rough overview of our plan. There is so much more to it and I will go into more detail as this blog progresses. Be forewarned, I LOVE cooking and am VERY crafty. So there will be no shortage of pictures and posts about those two topics. :D

You can always amend a big plan, but you can never expand a little one. I don’t believe in little plans. I believe in plans big enough to meet a situation which we can’t possibly foresee now.
Harry S. Truman

What’s in a name?

I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

When my husband and I named our children, we thought long and hard. We believed that a good name is important. We wanted their names to have real meaning. I might go as far as to say that I believe that a person’s name helps shape them into the person that they will become.

When it came down to naming this blog I had no clue where to go with it. I knew that we wanted to be debt free by the year 2020 but, naming the blog that seemed so boring. Then it came to me:

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
Billy Wilder

Well duh, this blog isn’t just about the end goal; it’s about the journey too. How did we get here? Oh man, how did we get here? It was a fun ride for sure but had we only known where the road would lead we may have taken a different path. But who is to say that path would have been any better? Maybe we are where we are supposed to be. Maybe we learned the lessons we were supposed to learn. We are now ready to take the next step armed with knowledge from our younger days.  We still have quite a ways to go but, we WILL get there. 

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.
George Bernard Shaw

One last thought that just came to me, 20 plus 20 equals 40. I want to be debt free by forty.  How funny is that? I now have three reasons that “Debt free by 20/20″ is the perfect name for this blog. :)