Sunday, June 7, 2009

That's what I'm talking about!

Great strides were made in the last month in terms of debt paydown. We finally took control of our spending and went to an all-cash system, no writing checks whatsoever (over $250 in bounced check fees will do that to you). I have been wanting to do this for some time, but I finally felt that things were in such crisis that we had no choice. So I re-arranged the finances so that NO checks can be written out of the joint account, or they WILL bounce. My husband and I are each on allowances of $20/week, which we can spend as we like, but when it's gone it's gone. My husband chafes at the restriction, but he is also mowing lawns right now for extra cash, so he has that to spend as he likes as well. I have started donating plasma for extra cash and that is also helping.

The bills were REALLY behind, but I have almost got them caught up as well. It feels good to know where every penny is going. When I told my husband that an outstanding debt for a water ionizer got paid off completely this month, over $900, he appreciated the tighter control of finances. Over $1500 in debt repayment in just the last 4 weeks! I feel hopeful.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Easiest and Best Granola

For a long time I have searching for the perfect granola recipe. Because my family are cold cereal fiends, I had to find something to replace their fix. I tried a number of granola recipes, but all were rather high maintenance. They required frequent stirring, during which I usually managed to spill some over the edges of the cookie sheet, and they burned if not watched closely. Crockpot granola was an improvement, but I still managed to burn it from time to time.

So I was ecstatic when I discovered Lazy Granola. The original recipe is from Lori Flem's Sanity Saving Breakfasts. I left out the brown sugar and doubled the recipe and found it to be just great. It takes about five minutes to mix up and makes a large batch of very delicious granola. Start it the night before you want to eat it.

Lazy Granola

14 cups rolled oats
1 cup oil (I use coconut or butter)
1 cup of honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla

Melt the honey and oil together, either in the microwave or on the stove. Stir in the cinnamon and vanilla. Pour over the oats in a large roaster pan, stir well, and place in the oven at 350 degrees. Cook for 20 minutes, stir, place back in the hot oven, close the door, turn off the heat and leave overnight. Tape the oven door with duct tape if needed, but do not open it till the next morning, when you will have crunchy and delicious granola, ready to be doctored up with coconut, raisins, nuts, or whatever your heart desires. I make this every friday night, and it lasts my family of eight through the weekend.

Now, is this cheaper than store-bought cereal? You have to compare apples to apples. Yes I probably could find giant bags of sugar laden Dead-Flour-Pops for less than it costs to make this cereal....but why would I want to do that? If you compare the cost of this, using bulk bought organic oats, bulk organic coconut oil, and home-made vanilla, it should pencil out to be much cheaper than similar quality store-bought granola. Someday, when I have time to kill, maybe I will do the math. But right now I am feeling hungry for some cold cereal.......

Friday, April 24, 2009

One down and two to go!

Card number one is PAID OFF!!!!!! Yay! This is the only one that was charging interest at this point. It is such a great deal to pay the stupid thing off, but it will be even more of a big deal to KEEP it that way. The card WAS paid off last fall and just from those four or five months, it took another four months to get those charges taken care of. I really plan to accelerate my debt pay off now. I am caught up on contacts and glasses, and I have signed up to be a cook at the Bible Camp where my children go in the summers, another "big ticket" item that was coming up. So I should be able, Lord willing, to devote the majority of my paycheck to debt pay off in the forseeable future.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Brenna!

My oldest daughter, Brenna, is 18 years old today. Everyone should be blessed to have such a kind, caring, hardworking, and fun daughter. I am truly blessed and wish her all the best God has to offer for her in her adult life.

Seventeen Years!

Well, it looks like it will not be worth it to refinance at this time. But that's actually GOOD news, because our mortgage is in better shape than I realized. We took out our mortgage in 2004, $102,000 at a rate of 5.75% for 30 years. We put it on a bi-weekly payment schedule right away, which made sense because our paychecks are bi-weekly. We time the mortgage payment with my husband's paycheck, so we know the money will always be there. Just putting the mortgage on a biweekly schedule has our mortgage paying off about 5 years sooner, basically giving us a 25 year mortgage. But here is the good part. Some time back, I don't even know when, I added $30 to each mortgage payment. It was barely noticeable to us because our insurance payments went down at this time, so the payment is nearly the same as it had always been. According to the mortgage man, this small extra payment means our mortgage will pay off in 17 years! WOW. I had no idea we had made that much progress. This motivates me to put as much on that principle as I can in the next year, before I hope to cut back on working. You save more interest by paying extra principle earlier in the loan, when the interest payments are higher. So who says $30 doesn't buy much these days?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Some hopeful news today....

I have been watching the mortgage rates for awhile now, to see if it would get into the territory where it would be beneficial to refinance. We already have a good rate, 5.75% on our 30 year mortgage, and we have 24 years left to pay. To refinance to a 20 year mortgage and get about the same payment, our rate would have to hit around 4.62%. 30 and 15 year mortgages have been in that territory for awhile, but the 20 year rates have hovered above that.

So today I was discussing the options with a mortgage guy who wants our business. He said that for what we still owe, $89000, the rate would most likely NOT hit the target we were hoping for. So I mentioned, "Well, we DO have this little debt." When we roll the $10,000 credit card debt on there, we can hit that target rate! So, for a payment only $75 more per month than what we pay now, our credit card and part of our other debt goes away and we pay our mortgage off 4 years sooner. Then I can take the money I was going to pay on our debt for the next year and pay down the mortgage, so we can be paid off even sooner than 20 years. Any way I pencil it out, it comes out to a good deal to me!

Our mortgage man is putting together the numbers for us, and I have also contacted two other companies. But hopefully VERY soon, you will see that column to the right drop by at least $10,000!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Yay! Progress!

We made good progress in this last pay period. I felt that we were both disciplined in our use of finances, as there was very little "blow" that took place. Ideally there should be no "blow" but we are human. Anyway, we paid down $517 on our debt and still had enough cash to pay for some repairs and other needed items. My paycheck is about $900/biweekly. I would love to see all $900 go to debt. Getting there!