9.10.2017

Toyota Tacoma (New Truck!)




We bought a truck! No, you're not blind. That ^ is a Dodge Journey, not a truck.

My husband's plan, since leaving his window washing job this spring, has been to start his own Window Washing company next spring. The largest expense (by far!) for the start of that business was my husband's dream truck, a Toyota Tacoma with a truck bed cover and a ladder rack. We've been looking locally for months now, and praying for the perfect truck to show up in our price range, but whenever we would go and see a truck (and fall in love), we'd make our best offer ($8,000.00 cash), only to be turned down. Over and over.

Toyota Tacomas hold their value forever, because they last forever, because they're fantastic trucks, but their lasting value makes it hard to find a steal of a Toyota Tacoma.

My brother-in-law stopped by Norfolk on his way to path of totality for the total eclipse, and we mentioned that we were looking for a Toyota Tacoma. When he went back home to Philadelphia, he poked around and sent us a link. It was Matt's dream truck (with the truck bed cover and the ladder rack) for $8,500.00. We were close. Matt prayed hard for clear direction and open doors, and a couple of weekends later, he road tripped to Philadelphia, handed a Polish gentleman $7,850.00 and came home with his truck. Some of that discount was because we only had $8,000.00 for the truck, some of it was because of the ten hours of travel, and the last $50 came off because Matt is Polish too.

So, on Saturday we bought a truck, and the next weekend we listed our Dodge Journey. We have someone looking at it this afternoon, and I'm trusting God for whatever he wants to do in our family, while praying that it sells quickly.

This weekend we're having a GIANT Yard Sale, which we've been hoarding for all summer. Everything people have given us to sell, will be priced to move, and we're hoping that it will make up for the (mandatory) week off work that Matt has this week. I promise to take some pictures of the truck (I should be driving it this week) to show you, but I also promise that all week this week I'll be up to my eyeballs in treasures, sorting and pricing, to place them out this weekend. If good deals are your thing, come out and visit us on Saturday!

8.29.2017

Lists



Eating: Cheesy chicken and brown rice because pregnant, nursing mamas need all the good fats and all the good carbs.

Reading and Recommending: Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins and Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot.

Listening to: Baby Beluga by Raffi on repeat in the car and on the record player, because Charlotte knows what she likes.

Feeling: Thankful to see tiniest Nowak wiggling around on ultrasound again this week. We're on track for a March 30th, 2018 due date!

Buying: Nothing extra so we can put money towards Tummy Baby's birth, while still working toward paying off our house. After chatting with Matt about it, we decided to split what we save every month in half and put half towards the house and half towards the birth! It felt good this month making progress towards both!

Getting Ready For: A giant yard sale next month. If you know anyone who has things to get rid of, send them our way! Or, if you have anything big you want us to sell for you, we're game for that too! Anything that looks good in the ads!

Studying: Knowledge, in the light of what God wants for me as a wife and mother: Ex. 31:3-5. Proverbs 1:20-22, 5:1-2, 8:10-14, 21:11, 23:12.

What have you been up to as summer comes to a close? Reading books about homeschooling even though you're still years away from starting? Yeah, me too.

8.18.2017

All living









She's all soft edges and shy glances; There's nothing sharp about her. She shocks me daily with her unrehearsed brilliance: the lyrics of a song I rarely sing or the repeating of a phrase I said hours ago, slipped into conversation. She's a ready sponge, and we have the privilege and responsibility of choosing the pool she soaks from as she grows.

“Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. ‘Thou hast set my feet in a large room,’ should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking—the strain would be too great—but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest...” Charlotte Mason


8.16.2017

Pregnancy: Debt Free / Sugar Free



We're pregnant, and those of you who have been paying attention have had a couple of very valid questions for us.


  1. How does this pregnancy affect your debt free journey?
  2. How does this pregnancy affect your sugar free journey? 


Our debt free journey: 

Since February, we've been working hard to get out of house debt, making extra money where we can and throwing it at our mortgage. At the end of July we found out we were expecting another baby. I guess it depends on your insurance, but having a baby costs us about $7,000.00. We've always hoped for a house full of babies, and we've been asking God for this baby, so the pregnancy wasn't a shock, but that's still a huge pile of cash.

We do have the money to cover the birth, BUT during this pregnancy we want to replace that money so that once we spend it we still have our full emergency fund. So, before the end of March, we need to save up $7,000.00, which is about $220 a week. No doubt, that will slow down our house payoff, but we've always said, "Depending on how many babies God gives us between now and then, we can pay off our house in x years." So we'll pile up that money as fast as we can, and once that's done, we'll go back to full force on paying down the mortgage.

I'm a huge fan of goals, so it's just a change of focus for me.

Our sugar free journey:

Sugar free is a simplified summary of our diet, but we follow the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan. We've lost over 100 pounds combined, and I'm so thankful for what this way of eating has taught me. The week after I found out we were pregnant, we went to teen camp with our church as sponsors. We spent the whole week outside: taking hikes, tubing rivers, and climbing mini mountains.

Pregnancy is exhausting anyway, and when you mix it with teen camp and watching a toddler, you'll find yourself HUNGRY. So, while I was at camp, I ate camp food. I think there was one meal where I was able to leave off the bread and stay on plan, but generally, I just ate the food they served and was thankful for it. I didn't gain weight or anything, but I definitely felt the difference in my body. Bleh. Since then, I've floated, eating mostly on plan, but not being 100%. Just to be clear, I haven't purchased anything off plan, I just haven't avoided things I've been offered. Basically, I'm dreading the detox, because pregnancy already has me feeling meh.

When you're pregnant, you're supposed to eat more crossovers to help baby grow, but you're also supposed to eat more crossovers when you're breastfeeding and at goal weight, so you don't keep losing weight, so it's not much of a change from what we've been doing.

I need to get back to making those best decisions again, because I know how good I feel when I eat on plan. It's better for me and for baby. I had my official hospital weigh-in on Monday and my starting (afternoon with clothes and shoes) weight is 133. I weighed 229 at my highest with Charlotte's pregnancy, so I'm thankful to be starting 100 pounds lighter. Also, I'm thankful for this platform. I like to pretend that y'all really watch me and want me to stay 100% on plan, so feel free to check in! Like, I said, I'm goal oriented.

8.08.2017

Debt Free Tips




To get out of debt you have to spend less than you make. This part isn't difficult, it's just different. 

 
If you're used to spending everything (or more) than you make, than you're living like 76% of American families, who live paycheck to paycheck with little, to no, savings. For your life to be different, you have to make a change. Nothing changes if nothing changes. 
 


Matt and I don't have an extraordinary income. We've never made more than $50,000.00 a year (combined), so our income is  average or lower than the normal American family. YOU CAN DO THIS.
 


In order to make this big change toward a debt free lifestyle, you have to make as many changes as you can on both ends of your budget. I know the word budget can be an intimidating word, but really all a budget is is setting your goals on paper, with forethought, and sticking to it! You can get budget forms here ---> Budget Forms.  
 


The two ends of your budget are simple: income and outgo. What you make vs. what you spend. You want to increase what you make as much a possible, and you want to decrease what you spend as much as possible.
 


Income:
 
Most of the ways we have upped our income since we started this journey in Febuary ANYONE can do!
 
 



Sell everything. When we were searching for a way that I could stay home with Charlotte and still make extra side income, God gave Matt and I this same idea. We went through all the closets, all the drawers, all the attic spaces, and all the rooms, and we've been a part of several yard sales. We've sold things on Facebook Marketplace, Instagram, Let Go, and Offer Up. All of those platforms are free. They just take time, good pictures, and good descriptions. Selling things isn't limited to what you currently have in your house. Put out a plea online. Something like, "We're trying to make some big changes in our family, and we're looking to make extra money to get out of debt. If you have anything you were thinking about cleaning out or donating, let me know! I'd love to come pick it up from you!" Putting the word out has helped us so much. People have had us pick up their yard sale extras and other household extras. We also aren't above picking things out of the trash. If we see a piece of furniture or art etc. that is in great shape, we'll haul it off, clean it up, fix it if it needs work, and then sell it to its new family. We have not purchased anything to resell. God gave Matt and I the idea to sell things online as a way to make extra money towards our goal, and He has blessed it!


Work after work. I know how little fun it is to work extra. When you get off a long day of work, you want to see your family, get things done in your home, and relax some if possible, but if you'll work all the time for a short period of time, you can make big gains. We've babysat, cleaned gutters, pulled weeds, painted, trimmed bushes, and hung blinds. Again, the trick was just putting the word out, "We're looking for extra work in the evenings and on the weekends. If you have something that you need done, send me a message!" For the most part, we tried to do this work as a family, so we were able to still spend that time together. Again, remember that this is only temporary!


Just making those two changes ^, we have made an extra $1,000.00 a month, every month, towards our goal of getting out of debt. You can do that too! None of that requires you to have a degree (and if you have a degree, there may be easier ways to make extra: tutoring, electric work on the side etc.), but it will help you take big steps toward your goal of getting out of debt!
 
 
 


Outgo:
 
To give yourself more money to throw towards your debt, you'll want to spend less in areas you spend money in.


Clothing. Since February, I have not spent a single dollar on clothing or shoes for Matt, Charlotte, or myself. Obviously, if someone NEEDED something, we'd go get it, but we have plenty of clothes we can wear, and we're CHOOSING to not spend money in this category. I just found out I'm pregnant, and since I've lost seventy-six pounds since my last pregnancy, my old maternity clothes don't fit me. God knew that I was pregnant, and God knew I needed maternity clothes, and when we went to visit our friends in Knoxville even though they didn't know I was pregnant, they gifted me a huge tub of small maternity clothes. God will meet your needs when you're working on a goal He's given you!


Food. We haven't gone out to eat (unless we used a gift card someone gave us), since February. Mostly, this just requires planning. It requires you to grocery shop (or pick the garden) to keep your kitchen stocked, so that you aren't tempted to do the "easy" (and expensive) thing. Also, we keep our grocery bill under $50 every week (often under $40). We eat a lot of frozen chicken tenderloins, brown rice, and veggies. We have eggs and veggies for breakfast, or oatmeal, or a fruit smoothie. We have simple sandwiches almost everyday for lunch. We shop at Aldi. We're living on a diet and a budget, and it's totally doable.


Credit Cards. We don't have one. I used to keep one "just in case", but God has given us an emergency fund, and we don't need to borrow money for anything ever. The borrower is slave to the lender, and we're getting out of slavery as fast as we can, which means we don’t have a credit card.


Entertainment. We haven't gone to the theatre (or eaten out, as previously covered), or gone to a concert, or a sports game, or bought a movie, or spent any extra money. This is our decision to make small short term sacrifices for big long term gains.


Bills. Dave Ramsey offers a free resource of insurance agents who will shop insurance for you (for free) and make sure you're getting the best deal available on all our your different insurances. I highly recommend you do this ---> Insurance Check Also, you can save on your electric bill by leaving the air conditioning off (even when it’s 96 degrees inside). This pregnant mama turned on her A/C yesterday for the first time this summer. Keep in mind that these choices are about long term gains, not short term comfort.


Bank account. Maybe I didn't cover the things you spend money on. Maybe you buy coffee a couple of times a week. The easiest way to see where you're spending extra money is a good look at your bank account statement. Look through it and see what you could cut. I cancelled a subscription to a magazine (that I enjoy, but this is only for a time!), we stopped renting movies, and we stopped spending any extra money.


To help keep myself motivated in the slow and steady journey out of debt, I enjoy listening to the Dave Ramsey show and specifically Debt Free Screams. I enjoy talking to friends who are on the same journey as we are, and I do my best to avoid the subject with people who think we're crazy. I don't need people being negative about something we are sure God has told us to do. We have a friend who is finishing their debt snowball this weekend! I'm so excited for them!
 


All along the journey we're continuing to tithe and give to missions, because what God has told us to do now doesn't change what God has already given us to do. 

We've paid $11,000.00 towards our mortgage since February, and we have $68,800.00 left to go.That means that we've paid the same amount toward our mortgage in the last six months as we did for THREE YEARS before that. We've saved thousands on interest, long term, in these six months by putting more towards the principal every month (making one giant payment when we pay our mortgage at the end of each month).

This financial sacrifice is only for a season, and in the scheme of our lives, it will be a short season. I’d rather be really uncomfortable for a short period of time than mildly uncomfortable for a long period of time. We know God wants to use our little income in big ways that He couldn't while we were giving the majority of each paycheck straight to the bank to repay our house debt.

What are your questions for us? We want to help you as you reach toward your debt free goals!

7.30.2017

A Tiny Announcement







It was a warm day near the end of July, when the line showed faintly. Dada came home with hands full of sunflowers, even before he knew, and we started whispering baby names out loud together again and wondering who you will grow to be.

For seven weeks now, I've been growing a new baby Nowak, and even though he's (she's) only the size of a blueberry, he's making big waves. My energy levels are low, my potato chip cravings are high, and at the end of the day, when I curl up under the covers, I feel like it was leg day at the gym. 

I've been staying on plan, which helps a bunch, and I haven't had the same itchy legs as accompanied my first two pregnancies. My starting weight is 128. I'm excited to watch this pregnancy take shape and compare it to my first two, unhealthy, pregnancies. 

We haven't had our first ultrasound, but my unofficial due date is March 19th. Charlotte talks about "tummy baby" at the sweetest times, so first official nickname! We're excited to get to know you, tummy baby!

7.25.2017

Knoxville Weekend Trip




When I started attending the private, Christian college in Knoxville, my first order of business was GET A JOB. God placed an opportunity in my lap during class registration, and I interviewed for a babysitting position that first week in Tennessee. Soon I was spending my afternoons watching a one-year-old girl who didn't like to eat but loved to dance.

Over the next four years, a sister and a brother joined the family, and I spent hours playing with those lovely babes. Working for the Thorntons allowed me to graduate with my four year degree debt free. I can't tell you how many times other students told me how lucky I was to have that job. Without a doubt, God gifted this family to me. We've seen them a couple of different times since we moved back home to Virginia after graduation, but this was their first time meeting Charlotte. Watching those babies love on my baby was the most beautiful thing. I love watching kindness in action, and I'm thankful for the continued relationship our families get to enjoy.

If you haven't already entered, we're giving away a Trader Joe's Gift Card! The giveaway closes tomorrow, Wednesday, July 26th.

Details Here ----> http://ahelpmeetforhim.blogspot.com/2017/07/trader-joes-gift-card-giveaway.html