All In

My adventure as I jump into life all in!!

10 Ways to Save Money on Food

  1. Stop eating out
    It’s so convenient to eat out, but it is much cheaper to make meals at home than it is to eat out. The more people in your family, the pricier it gets to eat out. I’m guessing most people could save $20 minimum if they stopped eating out altogether. If you eat out quite often, why not just start by making a few meals at home?
  2. Meal plan around grocery ads
    I never remember to do this one, but I know people who swear by the ads. Some people never buy certain items unless they are on sale, and when they find a sale, they stock up. You can start out by noticing what items you buy often and try to stock up next time there is a sale. It can make a difference.
  3. Use coupons, Groupon, Living Social, etc.
    You don’t have to become a crazy couponer to save money with coupons. Granted, you may not walk out of the store with a cart full of items that only cost you one dollar, but using coupons and deal sites can help to make your grocery budget cheaper. My rule is to only use a coupon on items that we were going to buy or that we use often. For example, if I find a coupon for almond butter, I’m probably not going to use it because I don’t like nut butter and my husband only eats peanut butter. So we would never use it. But if I find coupons for milk, butter, or cheese, I’m more likely to use them because we use those items.
  4. Buy in bulk
    This one can be more costly up front, but if you price things out and realize how much you pay per ounce for some of your food, you may want to consider buying in bulk. Just make sure your family will eat it all before the expiration date, otherwise it is not saving you money.
  5. Make food from scratch (bread, cakes, even potato chips can be made from scratch with minimal cost)
    This is another one that I don’t do much, but the more processing that goes into a food item, the more it costs. You can buy a cake in the bakery section of most grocery stores, but you’ll probably spend over $15. Or you could buy a cake mix for $2 and a $2 container of frosting. Or you could go completely homemade and use a recipe for a cake, and your ingredients will probably cost even less than the $4 box cake! This applies to all sorts of foods, from cakes and desserts to taco seasoning and pasta sauce. Try to be aware of the groceries you are buying and think about how you could make some of them yourself. You could even go ‘extreme’ and raise chickens for eggs and meat, although that is a big time investment that you need to consider.
  6. Eat leftovers
    When eating out or eating in, the cost of food can be stretched by saving a portion of your food for the next day. This turns one meal that was let’s say $5-15 at a restaurant into 2 meals that were $2.50-$7 per meal. Plus this saves food waste if you were possible going to throw leftovers away a few days later. And if you saved money already by making your meal at home, the savings will be even greater if you can stretch your meal into leftovers. Make a point to eat your leftovers!
  7. Check your cupboards/freezer
    You may be surprised that you have enough food to get by for a few days. Even when I think I have “nothing to eat” I can usually find a few chicken breasts & a pizza in the freezer and a few boxes of rice or pasta in the cupboard. That means pizza for dinner, and chicken and rice for dinner tomorrow. I thought I had nothing, but I had 2 nights worth of meals! Get creative and make meals with items you already have. Quite often when I try to put off grocery shopping until the last minute, we will have egg sandwiches or grilled cheese because we have some bread and cheese and eggs but not much else!
  8. Eat your food before it expires!
    How often have you thrown food away? From produce, to meat to canned goods, make sure you are using these items before they expire and you will save yourself money. I know those produce drawers in the fridge are made to keep items fresher, but I swear, at my house, they are made to hide the food until a month later when I realize I bought produce and forgot to eat it! ūüė¶
  9. Buy produce only when it is in season.
    It is much cheaper rather than buying it throughout the year when it costs more to bring it in from a location growing it out of season. It also tastes better when it is in season and fresher.
  10. Figure out if you have “budget-busters” in your grocery list.
    Are you eating filet mignon every night of the week? Search your grocery receipts to see if you have some expensive items that can be removed from your list or swapped out for cheaper items. This also helps if your cheaper swapped item is on sale. Next time you plan on making a meal that uses beef or chicken, look at the meat section of the store and find a cheaper cut of meat or one that is on sale for a cheaper price.
  11.  (Bonus tip) РConsider how much meat your family eats, perhaps you can make a meatless meal a few nights of the week. Or stretch one cut of meat through  multiple meals. Americans tend to eat a lot more protein than is actually recommended, so consider ways you can save money by eating a little less meat. (Grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, macaroni & cheese, and a potato & veggie skillet meal are just a few meatless things we enjoy)
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Goal Progress – May

I can’t believe it is May already!! Before you know it 2017 will be over! How is everyone doing on their goals? I think this is the first time in a while that I have kept up on my goals this far into the year. I tried to use the blog to keep me in check last year, but I still stopped around March or April. Go me *clapping* *cheers* for sticking with it!! Hopefully it lasts all year. Here goes the update:

Financial Goals:

Start a Side Hustle – Pass-ish¬†– I still didn’t post any more items on Ebay, but I did continue to work at my new network marketing business as an It Works distributor. My It Works paycheck for March came through April 14th at around $40, so that was nice. The only downside is that I spent more than that to join and on some products so far. But I am keeping track of whether this business venture is profitable overall, so hopefully after a while it will become profitable, otherwise I will probably not continue in this business. I know that you get out what you put in, so I need to make sure to spend some time promoting my business if I expect results. We will see how this goes ūüôā

Earn $100 extra each month – Fail¬†–¬†I didn’t have much overtime last month due to using some PTO for an out of state trip. I maybe earned $20 extra from my job. Added to the $40 that I ‘earned’ from my It Works business and that is only $60 extra. Hopefully next month, I can get some overtime as well as put more effort into my business. I am also curious to see how much my April It Works income will be compared to March.

Pay down vehicles so they aren’t upside downPass-ish –¬†We ended up only making the usual payments this month due to our trip out of state. So, technically we do owe less than we did before, but no extra was paid towards these¬†loans. I am hoping that in May the budget will allow for some extra to be put towards our cars, so we will see.

Grow our Net Worth by $10,000 (20%) – Pass –¬†We are still working on recovering from a dip in January due to the markets as well as the dip in our Net Worth after transferring the auto loan balance into another auto loan. But we are still chipping away. Our net worth only grew by $850 last month, but that is partially due to some travel costs that we will get partially reimbursed for. If we receive what I assume we will receive in reimbursement, then our net worth will have been around $2000 higher than last month, so I am hoping we get reimbursed soon. Especially because the charges we are getting reimbursed for are on credit cards and I don’t want to receive fees on them before we get them paid.

Personal Goals:

Read the Entire Bible – Fail –¬†Last month went by so fast, mostly because I didn’t want it to. But again, I didn’t open my Bible at all, other than at Church. I definitely want to be more purposeful in this area, even if I don’t get the entire Bible read this year, I want to spend¬†some time in the Word.

Write at least two blogs post per month – Fail¬†–¬†The only post I made last month was my goal update, and that was barely posted before the month was over. In my defense, we had a lot going on in our personal lives as well as a trip out of state, so I am okay with missing this goal last month. But I do hope to be back on track this month. [One post down once this is posted ūüėČ ]

Read 13 books –¬†Pass¬†– I finished reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis right before the month was over, so I am still on track. I am still working on finishing reading What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey. I also started reading another book (I pre-ordered it even, so it is a brand new book!!) called Business Boutique: A Woman’s Guide for Making Money Doing What She Loves by Christy Wright. I heard about this book on Dave Ramsey’s radio show and though it would be good to read for my new venture with It Works as well as if I decide to start my own business of any kind down the road. One of my long-term goals is to be a stay-at-home mom, but I know I will need to bring it some income in order to do that so I want to learn all I can until that is a realistic possibility.

Grow Deeper in my relationship with God – Fail¬†– Not exactly trackable, but I didn’t read my Bible and didn’t end up spending much time in prayer (other than some begging for personal wants, but that is a story for another time). I yelled at God a lot this month because something big in my life didn’t work out the way I wanted. I know that God has more in store for me, even if it isn’t until I reach Heaven, but I was still upset and didn’t spend much time in the Word. I am hoping to work through this and focus more on this relationship this month.

Make a point to do something special for my husband once a month – Fail –¬†We spent some time on a sort of vacation out of state, so perhaps some of the downtime on that trip could be counted as spending time specifically with him, but I’m not sure. We really need to focus on each other a lot more than we do. We need to be more intentional.

Keep Our House Tidy – Pass-ish – For the beginning of the month, our house was definitely not as clean as I wanted it. But I cleaned a little before our trip out of state around the 20th and then finished cleaning when we got back. Our foster son moved in with some of his extended family, so we no longer have a toddler leaving his toys everywhere (although I love him to pieces even if his toys were everywhere, which was probably partially our fault for not having him put them away every day). Anyway, our house has stayed a little cleaner without his presence, but I would take a messy house with him in it any day!

Looks like April wasn’t the best month so far for hitting goals, but I am still pressing onward and hoping to do better going forward. There’s always next month, right?

What about you, how are your goals or resolutions doing? If you are hitting your goals, great! If not, don’t get discouraged and keep pushing towards those goals! The best way to stay accountable is to share you goals and progress, so feel free to comment below.

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Goal Progress – April

Well, I made it to April! Obviously, I am very late posting my April update, as it will be May in a few days, but here goes. All the stats used will be from the end of March/beginning of April so that my May update isn’t pointless.

Financial Goals:

Start a Side Hustle – Pass¬†– After selling one item on Ebay, I made a subconscious plan to look around and list up to 5 items on Ebay each week. Well, that never happened! But…..I did start another Side Hustle. My mom has been using and selling It Works products for about a year. She has had good results from the products and has been able to make a decent side income from it. In March, she encouraged me to think about becoming a Distributor as well. I thought about it for a bit, and she encouraged me that I wouldn’t be alone and the whole team works to help each other as well as help themselves gain customers. So, on March 8th, I make the bold decision to become a distributor for It Works. Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing (here is my link if you’d like to shop around, but contact me to get a discount: https:\\beccado86.myitworks.com\shop )

Earn $100 extra each month – Pass –¬†I received 3 paychecks in March as well as a bonus and we received our tax return during March. So although I may not have earned $100 during side hustles in March, I did receive over $100 in “extra money” outside of our normal bi-weekly paychecks.

Pay off at least 1 student loan this year¬† Pay down vehicles so they aren’t upside downPass –¬†As I mentioned last month, I was considering changing this goal from student loans to vehicle loans. Our last vehicle lost value quicker than we could pay it off and we ended up putting part of the remaining loan into our next loan when we traded it in. Ideally, I would like to have no student loans or auto loans, but that isn’t something that will happen this year. But I want to at least make sure our vehicles are worth more than the loan values that we owe on them, so that we won’t have to do something like transferring balances again. It is still a lofty goal to hit this year¬†($15,000) but we are going to hustle hard to get as close as possible. After we got our tax return, I was able to knock that down by $1000, so we got a good head start on this goal.

Grow our Net Worth by $10,000 (20%) – Pass –¬†We are still working on recovering from a dip in January due to the markets as well as the dip in our Net Worth after transferring the auto loan balance into another auto loan. But we are still chipping away. Our net worth grew by $2500 last month, so if only we hadn’t had those issues, we would be ahead of where we wanted to be this far into the year.

Personal Goals:

Read the Entire Bible – Fail –¬†I am still choosing to give myself a little grace in this area, but I can’t remember if I picked up my bible once last month other than at church or Bible study. I definitely want to take time to spend with God, but it is definitely hard with a 2 year old in the house!

Write at least two blogs post per month –¬†Pass!!! –¬†I posted my 2017 goals last month as well as a post¬†about a hypothetical windfall.

Read 13 books –¬†Pass¬†– I finished the C.S. Lewis biography on March 31st! So that makes 3 books read so far this year. I am also nearly done reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis and What’s So Amazing About Grace?¬†by Philip Yancey so when I finish those, I will be ahead of schedule for April.

Grow Deeper in my relationship with God – Pass – Not exactly trackable, but obviously without much time spent in God’s word, I didn’t spend much time on my relationship. I did pray often, but mostly about prayer requests for family, friends and church members. Listening to K-LOV radio is some great worship time for me, but I need to dig a little deeper.

Make a point to do something special for my husband once a month – Fail –¬†Again, these personal goals are a bit harder to track. My husband’s birthday was last month and we went out to dinner, but I feel like I could have done more. Maybe I am too hard on myself about this, especially since my husband’s work schedule is all over the place right now, but I know that I could do a little more to help our relationship thrive.

Keep Our House Tidy –¬†Fail –¬†This is always my downfall!! But with our busy schedules and a two year old in the house, it takes some effort to keep our house in order. I was not good about putting forth that effort, but that is why I made this a goal this year, so I would focus on it more. Hopefully I can focus more next month.

Gosh, what does that say about myself that all my financial goals passed last month, but my personal ones suffered? I definitely want to focus more on God and my family than I do on money. I am glad that overall, I did pretty well, but I do see some areas that I need to work on. Onward to April goals!

What about you, how are your goals or resolutions doing? If you are hitting your goals, great! If not, don’t get discouraged and keep pushing towards those goals! The best way to stay accountable is to share you goals and progress, so feel free to comment below.

Also, what type of posts do you find most encouraging/helpful? What kinds of posts would you like to read on this blog. In the past I have done recipe posts, budget posts, foster care/kids, Christianity, book review/recommended reading. I could also post about homemaking or my process in becoming a better homemaker. What type of posts are you most interested in reading? Please let me know so I can help out my readers the best I can. Thanks!

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If I had a million dollars

Once a year, people sit down to do their taxes and some of them get a nice surprise in the form of a tax return. This year, my husband and I are one of those people. It’s not much, but it’s enough to do a few things with. While trying to plan out what we would use this extra money for, I got to thinking…..what if it was a huge windfall, like a hundred thousand, or even a million dollars? Of course this got my brain spinning and I wondered what others would do if they magically received a million dollars.

What would you do if you randomly received $1 million?

First, I would breath a big sight of relief as our money stress would pretty much disappear.

Next, I would figure out how much I would have to pay in taxes on it, and set that aside in a savings account until tax time (that way it could still earn a little interest but be set aside so that I don’t accidentally spend it)

Second, I would set aside 10% to be given to charities. I would probably have to spend some time really digging into the charities that I would consider to make sure I agree with their business practices (i.e. to see if the money they receive goes mostly to the actual cause, or a high percentage goes to pay CEO’s outrageous salaries)

Then, I would pay off all our debts: mortgage, car loans, student loans, and credit cards. I would probably pay off my parents’ debts and my husband’s parents’ debts, if they have any. I would probably set aside a portion do be divided as a one time payment per person between my brother and my husband’s siblings, and stress that it should be used for debt payoff. I’m not sure how much I would allocate toward this, but I would want my family to be able to not stress so much about money.

I would probably use a small amount for my husband and I to go on a nice vacation. We really haven’t went on a vacation since our honeymoon (10 years ago) except a random weekend to Kansas City and a trip with my family to Myrtle Beach.

Then comes the more difficult decisions. I would have a few options at this point. With our mortgage and all debt payments gone, that would leave a gap in our bills that might give me the option to quit working and live mostly off my husband’s income, perhaps withdrawing a small amount each quarter to assist with bills if necessary. When we have kids I really want to be a stay at home mom, but it just isn’t feasible for us to live off one income right now. Also, staying home would give me more time to pursue working from home, perhaps I wouldn’t have to touch the money that is left until retirement?

Another option is to consult a financial advisor and put what’s left into retirement accounts, savings, the stock market, or even real estate purchases. Granted, after all the things listed above,¬†I wouldn’t have anywhere close to the original $1 million left, but it would still be enough that I wouldn’t know how to handle it myself. If I chose this route, I would probably continue working, but I’m not in love with my current job, so I’m not sure. The money would certainly have time to grow until I reach retirement age, but it would still be there in case of an emergency of some kind.

Honestly, I don’t know what I would choose to do after paying my debts, helping family and taking a much-needed vacation, but that’s not a decision I will be having to make anytime soon.

Sometimes it is fun to ponder the possibilities, even if it would never happen. Have you ever thought about what you would do with a large windfall like that? Comment below!

 

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Goal Progress – March

How did the shortest month of the year seem to take so long? I swear, January jumped by like a rabbit and February slid along like a snail! Anyway, a new month means time to check my goal progress. Here goes:

Financial Goals:

Start a Side Hustle – Pass¬†– I actually dug through my house and listed 5 things on Amazon a few weeks ago. Only one of them actually sold, but it’s a start!

Earn $100 extra each month – Pass –¬†The item mentioned above that ended up selling was the most expensive item I listed (yay!) so I made about $75 selling a cuttlebug machine with embossing folders that has been sitting in my basement for a few years. I thought I would be more crafty and make homemade cards or something with it. The idea was nice, but the follow-through didn’t happen. Anyway, I made more than $25 in overtime to bring the total up to $100 so I actually hit this goal this month!!

Pay off at least 1 student loan this year¬†– Pass –¬†We are still chipping away at the loans. I didn’t pay any extra than the normal payment this year, but I am ¬†thinking of changing this goal. When we traded in our truck, we were a couple thousand upside-down on it, which made the loan on our new vehicle even higher to cover the difference. I really want to pay down the vehicles, at least until their value is above what we owe on them. Since the loans are already at a fairly low number, they will get paid off in the next few years anyway, but vehicles continue to lose value and then stop working which means you have to buy another one. I don’t want to be stuck in an upside-down vehicle situation again. I would love to be able to pay cash for our next vehicle, but that means having debts gone to have the ability to save up. (I really hate money sometimes, it is a necessary evil in this world). I hope to use a portion of my bonus as well as tax return if we get one on paying down vehicle loans.

Grow our Net Worth by $10,000 (20%) – Pass –¬†After the drop in our net worth due to purchasing the new car, things pretty much went back to normal. Continuing to pay down debts, so our net worth went back up a little bit. It is still below what it was in January, but I am hoping we can still aim for this goal, even if we aren’t able to hit it by the end of the year. It still gives us something to aim for.

Personal Goals:

Read the Entire Bible – Pass-ish –¬†I still didn’t read every day, but I am making a point to read at least a few times a week. Recently, I was reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode¬†by Crystal Paine and it encouraged me to give myself grace, even in this area. No need to beat myself up for not reading daily. As long as I am making an effort and spending time with God, I am going to count this one as good (even though I’d love to finish by the end of this year, which would put me at 2 years for reading it because I started last year)

Write at least two blogs post per month –¬†Pass!!! –¬†I posted my 2017 goals last month as well as a post about budgeting.¬†Feel free to check them out! I hope to perhaps do a book review post on the book I just finished, so look out for that one as well!

Read 13 books –¬†Pass –¬†I am still read the biography of C.S. Lewis that I started last month, but I started and finished¬†Say Goodbye to Survival Mode¬†by Crystal Paine. I also began reading What’s So Amazing About Grace?¬†by Philip Yancey so I am on pace to meet or exceed this goal by December.

Grow Deeper in my relationship with God – Pass – Not exactly trackable, but I have been trying to remember to pray each morning on my way to work, although I may have missed a few mornings. I also have been making a point to silently pray almost immediately after hearing a new prayer request. I am more likely to actually pray for these requests if I do it immediately rather than trying to remember them all later. While I would like to be in the Word a little more, I still feel that I am making a conscious effort to spend time with God. Listening to K-LOV in the mornings helps as well.

Make a point to do something special for my husband once a month – Pass-ish –¬†Again, these personal goals are a bit harder to track. At the beginning of the month I tried to remember this goal and make a point to spend time with my husband and really focus, without TV or other distractions. We planned to go out for Valentine’s Day but I woke up with a cold or allergies of some sort and wasn’t feeling like going out. We ended up pulling a couple steaks out of the freezer and had a romantic evening at home. I still need to be more intentional about this goal, but I am working on it.

Keep Our House Tidy – Pass-ish – With some inspiration from Cyrstal Paine’s book, mentioned above, I took baby steps to work on getting my house in shape. We had family visit and spend a weekend, and the house was clean before they arrived. We even cleared the junk out of the spare room so they had somewhere to sleep! While we still struggle to keep up on the clean house, I am hoping baby steps can help us get into a consistent rhythm and begin to keep our house clean consistently.

Wow! I can’t believe I actually hit all my goals in February! It would be nice to continue this trend, but life doesn’t always cooperate with our plans. Here’s to my attempt at hitting goals in March!

What about you, how are your goals or resolutions doing? If you are hitting your goals, great! If not, don’t get discouraged and keep pushing towards those goals! The best way to stay accountable is to share you goals and progress, so feel free to comment below.

Also, what type of posts do you find most encouraging/helpful? What kinds of posts would you like to read on this blog. In the past I have done recipe posts, budget posts, foster care/kids, Christianity, book review/recommended reading. I could also post about homemaking or my process in becoming a better homemaker. What type of posts are you most interested in reading? Please let me know so I can help out my readers the best I can. Thanks!

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Making the Best Use of an Annual Raise

Do you get a raise each year? Or are you on some sort of raise schedule at your job? Does it seem as though no matter what you do, that ‘new’ money seems to not make much of a dent in helping you work out your budget? If this sounds like you, I have a plan to make the most out of your raise, even if it isn’t a big one. (Disclaimer, this is totally not an original idea of mine, but I wanted to share it because it is a way to make the best use out of your increase in cash-flow)

At my current job, we are offered the possibility of a merit increase (raise) if we have met certain criteria (done well at our jobs). You never know if you will get a raise or what it will be until about a week before it hits your bank account.But it seems like each year, the raise never seems to help me knock down my debt or build up savings any faster than before. Friends, I have found a solution!

First, you need to know what your raise is. If you don’t know that until the last minute, that is okay, you can start as soon as you know. There are two was to do this:

Way number 1: Let’s say that you will get a $0.50 raise per hour and you work full-time (40 hours a week). Do the math to figure out how much you would make (pre-tax) extra per check than before. In our example, 0.50 x 80 (if you get paid bi-weekly) = $40. Next, if you know the numbers of what gets deducted each check, than you can subtract that from your new amount, our you can decide whether you will work with your $40 extra or choose a slightly smaller number like $35 or $30.

Way Number 2 РRather than go through all these steps, you could simply wait for your new pay to hit your bank account once, then take the difference to find out how much extra your raise got you post tax. For example. If your post-tax check before getting a raise is $800, and your next check, including the raise is $830, than your difference is $30)

Anyhoo, now that you know what you make, open a savings account and set up an automatic transfer of that $30 every 2 weeks (or $60 per month, if you can’t set up a bi-weekly transfer).

Now you will be able to actually utilize the extra you receive via a raise, rather than letting it absorb into your monthly budget without even realizing it. You can choose do keep building it up as savings, or pay extra towards a debt or save up for something special.

Has anyone tried this method? It really sounds pretty straightforward, it just isn’t something that we all think about when getting a raise. What normally happens when you get a raise? Let me know if you have any questions. Comment below ūüôā

 

 

 

 

When you need to save money, how does it actually work to save your raise? (with example, such as .50 raise equals moving $40 to savings when you get your biweekly paycheck.

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Goal Progress – February

What in the world happened to January!? It seemed to take forever while also being gone in the blink of an eye. Anyway, a new month means time to update my progress on my goals. Here goes:

Financial Goals:

Start a Side Hustle – January Fail – I kept telling myself that when I found time, I needed to dig through my closets and find a few things to list on Ebay. But of course, when I had time, I sat on my but in front of the TV. It truly is a time-sucker, isn’t it? My sister-in-law and I still have plans to work on some soaps, but we have to find a time when both of us aren’t busy.

Earn $100 extra each month – Pass-sort of– Through overtime, I was able to make about $75 extra on my post-tax post-benefits paychecks in January. I knew this goal wouldn’t be easy to hit and I hope that if I would have worked on a side hustle that I could have easily made up the $25 to bring this total up to $100.

Pay off at least 1 student loan this year РPass-ish We are working away at chipping down our debt, payment by payment. I was only able to pay $20 more than our usual payment on this, but we will continue to work on this goal a little at a time. I am hoping to receive a bonus at work in April and I plan to use a portion of it for debts, so that will help, but it will probably not wipe it out completely.

Grow our Net Worth by $10,000 (20%) – Fail¬†– We had done well and brought our net worth up by around 4%, mostly by paying down a few debts and the markets doing well in my 401k, but then we replaced a vehicle, which added a loan (which included being upside down on the previous vehicle, which I HATED but it had to be done), which then dropped our net worth down 7% where it had been in January (so a drop of 11% total from day before purchase to day after purchase). This definitely will hinder our efforts to raise our net worth by $10,000 this year, but I still hope to pay down on our debts as fast as possible to attain this goal. Plus, what’s the point of a goal that is easily attainable, it should take hard work to hit it our it wasn’t set high enough, right?

Personal Goals:

Read the Entire Bible – Fail – While I did read the Bible a little bit last month, I certainly didn’t keep up with a pace that would help me have it completed in a year.

Write at least two blogs post per month –¬†Pass!!! –¬†I posted my 2017 goals last month as well as a post about foster parenting. Feel free to check them out! I hope I can keep up the momentum this year.

Read 13 books –¬†Pass – I read “Believing God” by Beth Moore (I strongly recommend this to everyone by the way), and I am half-way through a biography of C.S. Lewis.

Grow Deeper in my relationship with God – Pass – This isn’t exactly trackable, but I do feel that I’ve put more effort into my relationship with God in January. While I didn’t read much of the Bible, the book that I read, “Believing God,” helped push me into a deeper relationship with God and to trust that He is in control. I have been trying to pray every morning on the way to work as well, something that I didn’t do before. I am excited to see what God has planned for my life and excited to grow deeper this year!

Make a point to do something special for my husband once a month – Pass-ish –¬†Again, these personal goals are a bit harder to track. I’m not going to get into details, but I worked on being more intentional in our relationship. I still have a ways to go, but a start is a start.

Keep Our House Tidy – Fail –¬†While we make a conscious effort to keep things off of the floor and out of reach of our little foster guy, that doesn’t stop our kitchen from looking cluttered anyway. We are terrible about doing dishes the same day they get dirtied, and once there’s a sink full of dishes, they just pile up until one of us gets sick of it and does them. We actually ended up getting our annual surprise visit from our foster licensing case worker at the end of the month. Our house wasn’t terribly filthy, but those dishes make the kitchen look so cluttered every time. We still got a pass, but I am still aiming to get our house up to a standard of where¬†I feel that it is clean, not just “good enough.”

Well, there you have it. Although we didn’t do that well on our goals last month, I won’t let that get me down, as there are 11 more months this year! Did you set any goals this year? Have you been tracking your progress? Are they any tips I can offer for your goals or do you just need a partner to keep you accountable? Let me know in the comments. If we work towards our goals as a community, encouraging each other, they seem much closer to reach.

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Could You Do It?

The thing I hear most often when people find out that I’m a foster parent is “I could never do it.” They think they would be unable to love a kid and then give the kid back to family or wherever the state decides.

Yes, it is hard. But every relationship we are in has an end-date. Think about it. Your spouse, your children, your friends….Although you may not know when that end date will be, your relationships can end through death (yours or theirs, whichever is first), unresolved conflict, or simply growing apart. Really, the only difference in your relationship with a foster child from your relationship with your own child, is that there is a more definite end date.

But, I promise you one thing: You will get through. It will take time, and you are allowed to mourn when your foster child leaves, but you will be okay. And that child will have been able to experience your love when they go through what is possibly the toughest part of their life, being ripped away from their parents and thrust into the arms of strangers. It is not something they asked for, but they still deserve just as much love as any other kid.

Recently, I have been reading the book “Believing God” by Beth Moore. Definitely a good book to convict you and bring you closer to God and to believing what he has said about your life. Anyway, the following excerpt from the book struck me:

Agape [love] is not only exercised when it feels like it, it is exercised when we choose to extend God’s love as an (often sacrificial) act of our will. Sometimes our only motivation is obedience to God. When we’re willing, we’re succinctly told in 1 Corinthians 13:8 that¬†love never fails.

God calls us to love when we don’t feel like it, and that when we extend that love, it will not fail. Showing love to a child who may not have ever experienced it (or some people may feel doesn’t deserve it) will not fail. It may be hard, they may not appreciate it in the moment, but allowing God to work through you can make all the difference.

I truly want to challenge you to consider if foster care is for you. Pray about it, talk to God about it and follow His leading. Foster kids have done nothing wrong, most of the time they were stuck in bad situations due to their parents actions. You can be the difference in their life and the only glimpse of God and His love that they may ever see in their life. Is this part of God’s plan for you? Pray and trust Him with your life and His plans for you, whatever they may be.

As always, feel free to comment below and have a blessed day!

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2017 Goals

Last year, I set some goals¬†that I wanted to stick to throughout the year. You can click the link if you would like to read more about my goals last year. Obviously, due to the fact that I posted nothing after April of last year, I didn’t do too well at sticking to those goals, especially since one of them was to post on the blog each month. I was hoping I would stick to a track-able goal, rather than doing New Year’s resolutions that tend to fail after a few months. If you would like to see how I did on all of my 2016 goals (I actually completed a few of them, just not the blog one), I may post an update on that, but this post is for my 2017 goals. So, here goes:

Financial Goals:

Start a Side Hustle –¬†I keep telling myself how great it would be to have extra income for savings or a vacation or whatever. I keep reading blogs that have great ideas for legit side jobs (photography, selling on Amazon\Ebay, creating crafts to sell, etc.) and I tell myself those things are so easy and that I should do them. But year after year goes by and I am just sitting here, not doing that stuff. So this year, I want to try out at least one side hustle and hopefully get it to where it can have a consistent income stream each month from it, even if it is little. ¬†I think I will¬†try selling on Ebay or Amazon because that is the easiest to start out. I can sell some junk that I already have sitting around, which can hopefully provide enough income to buy more stuff to sell (that is where it will get tricky: deciding what to buy and how much to upcharge my cost while still selling at a reasonable value so people want to purchase). Also, my sister-in-law and I have been considering making and selling soaps & bath bombs. We have made a batch of soap and she has made a batch of bath bombs, but we want to see how far we can take it. The only problem is getting our schedules to work out to find time to make anything.

Earn $100 extra each month –¬†Last year, I had a goal to earn $50 extra each month. Although my job limited overtime for a few months, they are allowing it for the time being. I think between earning overtime and getting a¬†side hustle going, $100 will be a reasonable number. It will be enough that it isn’t too easy, but not so much that it is unattainable. Down the road,¬†we want to own a few rental properties for some (mostly) passive side income, but we just aren’t at a point that we feel comfortable having more than just our own home mortgage without a hefty amount of savings in place for possible emergencies.

Pay off at least 1 student loan this year¬†– Last year, we paid off one of my husband’s student loans. He only has 2 left, and the lower one is around $2,000 right now. I definitely feel that this is an achievable goal for this year. I hope to be able to pay off a decent chunk of the other loan this year as well and have them both paid off by the end of 2018 (if not before). He graduated in 2011, so I would say getting those loans paid off in less than 10 years is pretty good.

Grow our Net Worth by $10,000 (20%) –¬†I was going to just name this goal “Grow Our Net Worth by 20%”, but without putting a real number on it, I didn’t want readers to think I was one of two things: 1. an extremely rich person with no problem exploding my net worth or 2. someone who is setting goals so unattainably high that I will never hit them. Through a combination of a variety of things, I hope that this is a goal that we can meet. We actually grew our net worth by $10,000 last year (which was 25% since our net worth is currently at the small number of $50,000.) First, continuing to pay of debts should help this out, as less liabilities mean that your assets show more. Last year, we paid off over $8,000 of our debts, so if we can keep up the momentum, then I may have to actually up this goal mid-year. Second, my 401(k) is figured into our net worth (it is actually nearly all of our net worth….without it our net worth would look pretty even, like assets minus liabilities equals zero, lol). My contributions go in bi-weekly at 6% of my paycheck, and my employer contributes 3%. I may decide to up this by a percent if I think we can swing it, but we will see. As long as the markets don’t eat up all that money, I am hoping it can continue to grow. Lastly, I want to put more money into savings. Mostly, I need to build up our emergency fund and save up for our next vehicle when ours finally crap out, but still, it is cash in hand until it is spent. Hopefully with the combination of those things, growing our net worth by this number will be an achievable goal. We can always re-evaluate these goals mid-year and adjust if needed.

 Personal Goals:

Read the Entire Bible –¬†I tried to do this one last year. After our foster son was placed with us, I just couldn’t find as much extra time to read. And if I did find extra time, I took the lazy way out and watched TV to unwind. This year, I really want to spend more time reading than watching TV and I want to get through the whole Bible this year.

Write at least two blogs post per month –¬†I plan on writing goal updates monthly, so that will be one blog post. Then I just have to post one more time each month. If I do more, great! I want to get in the habit of posting consistently so that I can eventually earn money from the blog, but I need to really get it going first.

Read 13 books –¬†This year, I have joined a reading challenge! The blog “Young Wife’s Guide” is doing a reading challenge (for more info, click here). The goal is to read 13 Christian books in a variety of categories, none of which are fiction. I was able to complete my goal last year of 5 books, so I thought upping the number would be good. Then I heard about Young Wife’s challenge and figured it would be just right for me. It’s more books than I read last year, and definitely enough to keep me challenged. Also, I think I will find these books more interesting than some of the fiction books I read last year (I think I’m not into romance books, even Christian ones….too sappy or predictable or something). Plus the reading challenge offers recommended books in each category. My problem with knowing which books to read is often that no one has recommended any, so this will be great!

Grow Deeper in my relationship with God –¬†I really do put my walk with God on the back-burner, assuming I will eventually do my part….someday. I am hoping the books in the challenge (above) can help plunge me deeper into the word. And since I want to read the Bible in a year, I am hoping that being in the Word more will allow me to form a deeper relationship.

Make a point to do something special for my husband once a month –¬† Often, our relationship goes on the back-burner as well, especially now that there is a little one in the house. I need to be more intentional in ALL my relationships, but God and my husband are the most important relationships to me and I really want to work on those.

Keep Our House Tidy –¬†I hate how cluttered our house looks most of the time, but yet I have no desire to spend time cleaning….so then it gets worse until I can’t stand it and spend an entire day cleaning. If I would just stay on top of it, I know that it would take less time, so I really want to focus on that this year.

Well, there you have it! My 2017 Goals! Some of them will be harder than others, but I am excited to see how I have done on these at the end of the year. I will also be posting monthly updates to make sure I stay on track. Do any of you have goals or things you want to accomplish in 2017?

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Goal Progress – March

“A goal is a dream without a deadline” –¬†Napoleon Hill

The Rival
Photo Credit: Katy Wrathall via Compfight cc


Well, it is now April. One quarter of the year is over!! Crazy! How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions or your goals for 2016? Since I have given myself goals to meet this year, rather than resolutions, I am going to track my progress and see whether I am meeting each of my goals this year or not.

Make $50 extra dollars each month –¬†

I was not able to do any overtime this month, but I did receive my annual bonus from my job, so it worked out. Also, I was able to earn $30 at¬†Swagbucks.com again. So, I didn’t earn $50 through Swagbucks or overtime, but my bonus more than brought the total to $50 this month. Not sure how I will hit it this month if overtime isn’t available from work, but we will see.

Pay off at least 1 student loan this year

COMPLETE!! Woot woot!! We used a portion of my bonus to completely pay off the smallest student loan, which was around $700. Now my husband has two student loans left, and we are¬†going to work on paying extra on those until they are gone as well. I don’t think we will have another one gone before December, but we will definitely be chipping away at them.

Personal Goals:

Finish reading the entire Bible

I am still not reading every day like I wanted to, but at this point, I have read Genesis-Leviticus, Jeremiah-Malachi and 28 chapters of Numbers in the Old Testament, as well as 1 Thessalonians-Revelation, Mathew and 8 chapters of Mark in the New Testament.

Write at least one blog post per month

Besides posting a goal update, I posted 2 other blog posts in the month of March, so A+ on this one! Hopefully I can keep this momentum going the rest of the year.

Graduate with an Associate’s degree in Business Administration

This one isn’t really a monthly trackable goal, but I am doing well in my classes this semester so far. Also, I emailed my advisor in ¬†March to make sure that I am taking the right classes to graduate in December. It turns out, I needed a few different classes than the ones I was planning on taking, so I am glad that I reached out. At this point, I am registered for my Summer and Fall courses and as long as I pass them, I should be able to graduate December 2016!!! Woohoo!!

Read 5 books that I have never read before

Before March, I had finished reading¬† Amongst the Flames¬†by T.K. Chapin, Paper Towns¬†by John Green and¬† Orphan Train¬†by Christina Baker Kline. I began reading¬†Shock of the Fall¬†by Nathan Filer in February, but life circumstances made it difficult to find time to read. I don’t think I read any of this book at all during March. In my defense, we are foster parents and just received our first placement at the beginning of March and he is a toddler. Adjusting to this change did not give me much “me” time, and the time that was available when our placement¬†was napping or playing by¬†himself was spent cleaning, doing homework and laundry and catching up on sleep. I still plan to complete my goal by the end of the year, I will just have to adjust to this change and find some time to read.

Make a point to do something special for my husband once a month

My husband’s birthday was last month, so we went out to eat at his favorite restaurant. I still feel like I should do more to focus on him, especially now that there is a little one taking up some of my attention, but hopefully I can focus on this more this month.

What about you? How are your resolutions or goals going? We have gone through one quarter of the year already! I can’t believe it! Comment below how your goals are going.

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