Roth IRA Update

Here's a quick overview of one of our 2019 goals.

$8,500: The amount of money we've put into retirement so far this year.

IRA= Individual Retirement Account. Matt and I both have one, and this year they upped the max contribution, and you are allowed to put in $6k per person.

Why are we prioritizing retirement this early?

  • Luke 14:28 "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?"
  • Proverbs 13:22 "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just." 
  • The younger you start, the more time it has to grow! Here's a video to illustrate it to you!

Why do we prioritize our Roth IRAs instead of Traditional IRAs?
  • For a Roth IRA, the money is taxed before you put it in, and then it *grows tax-free*. When you pull it out during retirement, you've already paid the taxes on it, so you get to bring home the full amount.
  • For a Traditional IRA, the money is not taxed before you put it in (so you are saving money on the front end), but when you pull it out in retirement, you have to pay taxes on it. It's no longer the amount you put in; It has grown significantly over the years, and so your tax bill will be much higher than it would have been if you had paid taxes on the money before you put it in to your IRA.

Where do you invest?
  • We invest in Vanguard. You can open an account online. The specific ticker numbers we have in our portfolio are: VTSMX, VASGX, VTIVX, and VTSAX.

If it looks like we're crushing our financial goals for this year, I've asked God to double our income this year (we're hiring our first employee in May), and I believe He will!! 

What's coming after we hit our financial goals? Well, we have a trip to South Carolina planned in May (visiting my best friend!), and we've also got our dream couch (pictured below) on deck after we max out our retirement accounts, and then we'll start a long-term goal of saving for our next home (a dining room and a fireplace are on our short list)!

But, in case you think all of my 2019 goals will be crossed off before we finish April, be comforted in the fact that after these financial goals, I need to refocus on my weight-loss goal. I'm trying to get back to 128, but lately I've been in the low 140s, which means I've gone a couple of pounds in the wrong direction these last two months.

Another goal I have for this month is to hit 800 followers on A Helpmeet for Him's Facebook Page. So, if you haven't, go like it! If you have, share it with a friend. I've got a two-winner giveaway ready for when we get to 800!

Did you set any goals for yourself this year? We're wrapping up the third month. How're you doing?


Nowak Family Minivan

At less than two years old, I began mothering my baby brother Chris, so it is no exaggeration to say that I have been dreaming about these days my whole life. For some women the minivan is a purchase they accept in defeat, but for me the term "soccer mom" sounds ideal, not derogatory.

We had planned to save $20,000 up for a van this year, and we needed to pull the trigger before the summer began (to run our cleaning crew to the Outer Banks every weekend), but we only got to $9,000 before we ran across my dream van on Facebook marketplace and pulled the trigger.

2006. Toyota Sienna. White. 65k miles. One owner. All maintenance regularly kept. $7,500.

We brought hundred dollar bills and bought it for $7,200.

It's the newest car we've ever owned: The fancy kind where you can press a button to open a sliding door, have a digital display for the temperature outside, and watch a DVD in the backseat (don't tell Charlotte, she doesn't know, ha.)

Driving in this van as a family, paying for my dream car with cash, and needing more space because our business is expanding, are just a couple of God's big gifts to us so far this year. He's so faithful to hand us good things.

That is not to say that life is pain-free, loss-free, or lie-free. Sin wages war all around us, and our family is not exempt from its harm or its indwelling, but even tonight as I was reading Proverbs, I saw it again.

Proverbs 10:6 Blessings are upon the head of the just...

Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it.

I looked up the root word behind "rich," and it is monetary wealth. God wants to do so many other big things in our lives, starting with the fruits of the Spirit (found in Galatians 5), but He also is faithful to reward a diligent worker.

On to the next goal!


Without fail

For three hundred and fifty-four days, we've been self-employed. Last February, we started something new, a window cleaning company, with no customers and no promise of work, stepping into the unknown, trusting God to bring the work and supply everything we needed.

Every day, without fail, God has provided that work.

This morning, January 30th, we woke up with nothing on the calendar for tomorrow, January 31st. All of our bills are paid. We want for nothing, but still, Matt and I were (separately) praying that God would fill in work for tomorrow.

This afternoon, we got a call from a current customer, asking us to clean five more of his businesses. As he ended their communication he said, "I really need them done for January. Can you squeeze them in tomorrow?"

Normally, short-notice like that, there wouldn't be any way to make that work, but today, I could feel the glimmer in God's eye. He's always handing us things that we can't reach, dropping things in our laps that we don't have the faith to ask Him for ourselves, and proving His unfailing faithfulness.

We're ending today with six jobs for tomorrow.

I don't know what it is that you haven't bothered asking Him for, but ask Him, and then open your mouth wide.


Why did Jesus come to a yucky place?

I always strive to explain things to her in a way that makes sense to a three year old.

After I carefully talked through the trip to Bethlehem and the kindness of a man offering his barn for them to sleep in, I explained how mangers are a dirty place where animals eat.

Charlotte responded with, "Why did Jesus come to a yucky place?"

I explained that they were on a trip, so he didn't have his normal crib to sleep in, but what a question! I couldn't stop there!

Why did Jesus come to a yucky place? Forget the trough and the barn... Imagine the Creator making Himself small to come into a world infested with sin and darkness, malice and evil.

Why did Jesus come to a yucky place? Love. Unadulterated, never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.

She keeps asking questions, and we just keep feeding her the Gospel on repeat.


Resolutions: 2019

As we stand at the threshold of a new year, it is the perfect time to refresh and resolve to meet some specific goals. I love a good excuse to set goals. Last year, I set three goals. The first was to pay down the mortgage to under $25,000. The second was to successfully start and run a business. The third was to get to goal weight (128). Let's review how my 2018 goals went:

1. We paid off our mortgage! Goal exceeded. God blew that one out of the water.

2. Business successfully started and run, which was a HUGE part of the success of that first goal.

3. I didn't make it back to goal weight this year. But I've lost 76 pounds and made it to goal weight before on Trim Healthy Mama, so I know it works. I just haven't been faithful to stay on-plan. In 2018 I lost 22 pounds. I'm 139 beginning 2019. 11 more pounds to go!

Goals 2019

With the mortgage payment in the rear view mirror, a lot of people have been asking what we're doing next! We just got back from a week away in New England, we have two weekends in the OBX later this month, and then we have a staycation (baby-free) booked in February for my birthday, so taking more time out as a family/couple this year is high on the list, but here are three other goals that I'm dedicated to hitting this year:

1. Max out our Roth IRAs ($11,000 into our retirement accounts) for the first time.
2. Save up $20,000 to buy a van when our Honda Accord dies/we have another baby (whichever comes first).
3. Get back to goal weight (128 pounds).

Those are my three big goals for 2019! I was on-plan all day yesterday, and I'm buckling down with renewed focus on hitting my health goals. Also, after 22 months of never shopping, we're allowing ourselves to make little changes around the house room-by-room. Stay tuned-in for room tours!


Debt Free: 79,000 paid off in 22 months

Thousands of dollars in debt, sit like a weight on your shoulders, forcing you to spend the majority of every day working, when you'd rather be spending more time with the people you love, but work equals money, and you need money to pay your debts. You shrug and continue. It's just the way life goes, right?

It's an endless cycle of "have to:" The American Dream is shackles between you in that tiny white house and a skyscraper bank downtown; Someone else's pockets are lined with your money, as you pay them the interest you agreed to when you decided to borrow from someone else to buy things that you couldn't actually afford.

Liberty seems out of reach.

It took 22 months of focus, but we are finished: debt free. No more mortgage. No more debt payments.

Endless options and decisions. Open horizons. Choices.

We're on vacation right now, spending a week in Vermont/New Hampshire, spending time later this month in the Outer Banks, not worried one bit about "time off work," because there's no looming, giant payment at the end of the month. As Dave Ramsey says, "You have to live like no one else, so that later you can live and give like no one else." For almost two years we've done nothing extra, sacrificing deep, and now we have the freedom to shift our priorities, enjoying our time with our family, chain free.

I'm not sure what God's going to give us to do in our thirties, but He put the mortgage and debt payments behind us before we got there, and that gives us all the freedom.

Here's a link to all of the debt free posts from this journey. Debt Free Posts.

I hope it helps! You can do this!

Like us on Facebook to get in on our Dave Ramsey giveaways. Got a good one coming in January!!


Payoff Request

As we've rounded this last bend towards the finish line, we've committed to push hard all the way to that final step.

Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he has sufficient to finish it?

God blew our timeline out of the water. I had counted the cost and then set what I thought was an ambitious goal: to pay our house off in 36 months. We had $79k left to pay off, so that would have been over $2,000 EXTRA toward the mortgage every month.

I wanted to be debt free by my 30th birthday. It's 2018, not 2020. I'm 28 years old for a couple more months. Every month, and with every payment, God whispered, "YOU can't do this. I can."

Last December, I expected to have our biggest month. I was going to push hard selling things online, we were going to get Christmas money, and we were going to end up way ahead, putting massive amounts towards the mortgage. That month was one of our lowest. When I get proud, thinking I'll make progress on my own, God makes me small.

His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

How fitting, that He's going to pay off our mortgage in December, 22 months after we started.

This is our first time paying off a house, and it wasn't as straight forward as I'd imagined. You can't just pay off your house. You have to send the mortgage lender a payoff quote request. Essentially, there's a $50 fee for them to send you the paperwork saying that you now own your home. We sent the request, and they sent us back the exact amount that we owed, a date that the request expires (if we don't pay it off by December 21st, we'd have to re-request the payoff quote), and the requirement that the payoff can't be paid online (it must be wire transferred or sent by certified check).

We aren't quite ready to pay it off yet, but we've asked God to pay it off this month, and we have every expectation that, as we work, He'll hand us the money to pay off our mortgage this month.

Our mortgage. That final debt. This final payment. Hello, finish line.