Friday, January 20, 2012

Money, money, money by the pound :)

So I'm nearly finished reading The Total Money Makeover and I'm kind of sad to be almost done. I found myself really enjoying the bits in the morning and evening that got my mind thinking and helped me feel so motivated to be better with our money. As I was reading it though, I did realize how the scriptures should hold that sort of a place in my heart as well. So I started to read a little from my church magazine before I broke out the money book and now I'm doubly benefiting.

I've started to realize how I've been slowly rationalizing our way down to hell (aka financial bondage). I've read about spiritual bondage but I'd never thought about how satan's played his part on me when it's come to finances. I've believed his lies about "Oh, a little spending won't hurt" and "we'll never be out of debt so we might as well enjoy what we can" and so on. I'm starting to realize that every little bit counts and it WILL make a difference. I'm coming up with our game plan and excited about the goals we're working on. Meanwhile, it's Jan 20th and I still have about half of my monthly cash budget left! So for once, I'm right on track. It may even be the first month I won't go over on my budget.... that would be incredible. Even better, I'm not feeling strangled.

One of the questions the book poses is, is 5 years of sacrifice worth it to change your financial destiny for the rest of your life? (aka, being debt free and in the process of building wealth) It got me thinking about what I've learned from the gospel as well and on to my next new mantra.... Sacrifice brings blessings! I know it's not magic that makes it happen, but I've seen it as we've paid our tithing and it feels magical. When times are really tight and we choose to pay our tithing blessings are poured out. Somehow the numbers become more than they were. So even though our debt is so large, I'm putting faith in the fact that Sacrifice Brings Blessings, and trusting that God will help us find a way!

Monday, January 9, 2012

January Ramblings

I used to fight routines like crazy. I felt constricted by them, but over the last couple years they've become my lifesaver. I don't stick to them exactly but I use them as a general guide to keep me on track. Last year my theme was getting my home in order. I wanted it to look nice and run smoothly all the time, not just when guests come ;) I still have a long way to go, but I'm getting so much better at it. Really I have to give credit to my friend for repeatedly pushing me towards Wow, the baby steps from Fly Lady makes it like a game and breaks it down into small steps so it's easy and fun to plan, clean and de-clutter. My mantra through the whole thing was "Maintain and Add a Little". When I'd feel behind and overwhelmed I'd tell that to myself over and over and I'd have a little more hope.

Now that we're all moved in and Christmas is cleaned up and put away I've been feeling a new burst of energy and a new theme coming on. This year is time to tackle the finances. Ben's graduated to a big boy job now, so it's time to face our student loans head on. There are two parts to that. First of all the know-how... a.k.a. knowing what order and how much we'll need to pay while still planning and saving for the future. 20 years from now I don't want our only financial accomplishment to be that we're finally back to zero! Secondly the means to do so. Ben loves his job, but he definitely did not choose it because of its amazing earning potential. From the very beginning we knew his happiness in a career would be more important than being rich.

So the way I see it, we have a couple of options; either spend less or earn more. With so many young children my job has been to work on the spending less portion. So Tori told me about a book she read in her high school finance class, The Richest Man in Babylon. I thought it sounded cool, so I picked it up from the library along with Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. I finished the first already and am a quarter of the way through the next and I love it! What I liked so far:
  • Save 10% of your income (this is repeated over and over again). So you can have "a couple of gold coins to rub against one another."
  • Live on only 70% of your income
  • Use the remaining 20% to put toward your debts
  • Put your savings to work so that it earns and its earnings earn
  • Finances are 80% behavior and 20% know-how
  • Debt is not necessary, and it is possible to have all the luxuries and be debt-free.
I would STRONGLY recommend both of these books! Wow, I'm looking at finances in a whole new light. I'm also realizing all the lies that have become acceptable about debt and financing. As well as all the bad information and advice that gets passed around even by myself. You hear things enough and you figure they're true, whether they are or not... scary.

So this year's mantra is "No Time Like the Present!" I'm working on the know-how, refining my budget and going to the "Cash Method" of paying for things. So in order to make it a little more FUNctional, I made these cute envelopes:

I made them by taking a regular envelope, sealing it shut, and cutting off the two sides just below the width of the bills. They were easy to label and fit in my wallet so I don't fall back to my card.

This morning someone mentioned that when you have a plan and it's what God wants, He helps make it happen. Well managing our money would only take care of half the problem, and I knew one key to this being successful was for me to supplement our income and my goal was to start work in January. I hadn't decided what it would be yet, but in the last 3 weeks I've had 3 different opportunities come up where I could earn some money. One of those was a woman wanting to hire me to decorate and help furnish her home. I'm really excited and kind of nervous too. I'm so grateful I have a skill that can help others and provide for our family, but I'm nervous about being able to balance. Before I get too deep I'm trying to make a plan so that I can have the right kind of focus towards work and keep my family and home first priority.

I'm excited about the prospects of my business starting again, but I also know I want to do things a little different this time. I want to offer more of the whole package, while still specializing in window treatments, but I don't want to sew my own. I know that here in Dallas I'll have every resource available to me, I'm just not sure where they are or how exactly I'll find them. I just feel so blessed to have this fall into my lap. Word of mouth is the only way I've gotten business before and it's been the best and I know this is the beginning. It will snowball out from here and I just need to make sure I have the plan in place so I don't get trapped into it taking over my life.

So these are the things going on in my brain these days. Family, Home, Kids School, Finances, Work. It's good to be alive and it's nice to know that God is watching over us. We may have approached this the stupid way, but it was right for us and we're being blessed because of it. "My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure." -- Tennyson

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ben's Birthday and New Years Eve

Ben turns 10... finally BEN 10!

Our New Year's Eve shindig... having a big family is soooo much fun, it's a party everyday, but to make the night special we made sure to have the spattering of yummy food. Tori and Blu came by and joined us later for games until midnight. We were the only ones in our neighborhood outside banging pots and pans. Hopefully we didn't give any old people heart attacks :)While us girls played games the boys played video games... little Ben was inadvertently teaching Ryan that while playing video games one must jump up and down uncontrollably ;) You wonder why little Ben's screen name is jitters?

Christmas 2011

We were blessed to have someone do the 12 days of Christmas for us at the beginning of the month, and then Christmas Eve someone Secret Santa'd us leaving some great presents for all of us, including the American Girl dolls for Alaura and Sam. It was their favorite present for sure. I've never actually seen theses dolls in person before this, but they are really well made, you can style their hair without it getting yucky and the size and weight are everything you want in a doll. I think we may need to get more of these for the other girls some day.

December 2011

Visiting a mini-train display at the North Park Mall in Dallas... umm, scary.... we were walking past stores like Gucci and Coach... "don't let the kids breathe on them". And I didn't realize how sheltered we've kept our kids, the younger ones had no idea how to maneuver an escalator :)The week before Christmas we got an awesome rain storm on the cusp of a warm front so we rolled up our pant legs and played in the gutter... it was so much fun. I even got in, and the fact that I let them do it made me "the best mom in the world!"

The older kids helped me out with an enrichment activity by being a live nativity.
I broke down and we made ravioli to have for Christmas Eve dinner.

Dad practicing the balancing act with Emily who is now 4 months old!

Life in Dallas

It's so amazing living in/by such a large city... and I love it! This is 10 minutes from our house. It's also super weird not having any mountains around.
The Dallas Zoo
The kids lineup... Emily's already growing so much!
Tally's first awards ceremony at her Pre-K school with her new Bestie Afton.
Ben's new scout group. It's good to have such a great network already.

Halloween 2011

Pa drove down to drop Tori off to stay at our house while she goes to culinary schoolHalloween... no new costumes this year, good thing we had a stock pile. Ryan's wearing an outfit handed down from Great Grandma and Grandpa de Hoyos (I think).

Our New House - Part II

The Dining Room... only 2 of the houses we looked at had eating areas big enough for our table... that helped narrow it down a bit :)

The Kitchen - At first it was hard getting used to such a small kitchen, but now I love it! It's so much easier to keep clean.
The kitchen didn't have any pantry and the garage was converted to our master bedroom so we put the deep freeze in the kitchen and made a make shift pantry out of our IKEA shelves and it works great. Looking from the dining room into the kitchen.

The Boy's Room:

The boy's room and the girl's room closets were back to back, so going off what Pa did in Nick and Cassie's rooms we made a secret passageway between the rooms. They have a lot of fun with it. Ryan occasionally tries to sneak out it during nap time so we have to "lock" the closet door with a chair.... good times :)
The Girl's Room

Our New House - Part I

One of the biggest blessings with the new job came a very generous new boss. Ben's new boss made it possible for us to get into our own home, which we didn't think would be possible for us for another 10 years. To rent anything similar or even less would have been at least 50% more expensive. This home has been well loved and well taken care of and after 3 months I finally am unpacked and in order enough to get pics up. It's good enough for now with plenty of redecorating and remodeling projects in the future.

In all honesty, the yard is what did it for us! It is big and beautiful and landscaped well, now we're working on a fence :)
The study

The TV Room
Our adorable shutters... I love the vintage charm to them!

October 2011

While Nana was here we ventured out to the Dallas Temple where we found a last minute blessing dress for Emily.

Tally turned 5!

Our first family photo with all 7 kids, in front of our new church building in Dallas the day of Tally's birthday and Emily's blessing.

Fall 2011

The new lineup!
Packing up.