A little Christmas sewing

 

Here’s what I’ve discovered about handmade Christmas.  It’s not stressful if the projects are small enough, fast enough, and easy enough (and the supplies are easy and cheap to get-stash is all the beter.) It is not my season in life to draft my own patterns or make up a new way.  All of these were made from scraps in my dwindling stash from free patterns.  No new money spent.

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In progress:  A pretend campfire from this book (I borrowed from the library.)

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Finished:  A tiger/fox/racoon–whatever.  Super soft from minkey, felt and knit terry with polar fleece scarf.)  From this free pattern.  I changed the eye placement but otherwise kept it the same.IMG_0072.JPG

A hard to photograph infinity scarf.  Would you believe it’s adorable?  One seam, boom. I used this fabric, because I had a scrap left that begged to be a scarf.  I didn’t hem any edges, just stitched it into a loop with a French seam.  Nice and light and drapey.  Someone’s going to be very happy.

Yes, my bedroom walls are mustard yellow. I’m pretending I love it temporarily.

Now off to finish a Christmas movie while I stitch.

 

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The Filthy Rich

credit: Saine

photo credit: Saine

Lately at Sunday School, the pulpit, normal conversation …  discussions about the rich have been more frequent than usual.  Most of the conversations have been about the evils of wealth and the scriptures that talk about how hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven.

In all of these discussions, no one talking about the wealthy considers themselves to be wealthy.  Wealth is relative.  Someone who has more than us, is wealthy.  Someone who has less is not.  And it almost nearly follows that someone who has more than us is evil and someone who is “poor” is more righteous.

When you think about who the rich are, you might consider that over 50% of the world lives on less than $2.50 a day.  Over 80% live on less than $10 a day. Things like indoor plumbing, electricity, elementary school, and clean water are reserved for the world’s top income earners.

At our house we also have the internet, a washer and dryer, central air, a piano, and a car.  I’m thinking we might be part of the wealthy.  The fact that our budget discussions include whether we can afford music lessons and school tuition—not if we know where our next meal will come from, seals it.  You might as well stamp “filthy rich” on my forehead.

I didn’t know the rich young ruler personally, but I’m guessing if you put his possessions and mine side by side, I’d have more stuff.   He went away sorrowing because he didn’t realize that all his stuff really wasn’t his.  It was God’s.  God gave him a large share to manage for Him and when He asked to be able to use it, the young man couldn’t let go.  Christ’s point was that no one can keep all the commandments.  No one can earn his own salvation, it’s not humanly possible alone.  It takes God.  It really wasn’t a discussion about the evils of wealth at all–that was an example of the many ways we can stumble.

Teaching against wealth building is a dangerous thing.  The most reliable way to build wealth is to manage money properly: Avoid debt, live on less than you make, save monthly, invest conservatively.  Building wealth requires hard work, patience, self-control, humility, self-denial, sacrifice. These are all things we should have in our lives.

It is never more righteous to be a HOT IRRESPONSIBLE MESS with our money.

When we have wealth we can DO great things with it.  We can give, fund missionaries, build relief shelters, support adoptions…anything!  Wealth gives choices.

Because we live in one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, we are likely to have some rich people discussions.  Such as:  Should I buy organic?  How can I afford supplements?  How do you budget for college? Does cleaning with vinegar really work?  Understand that someone who doesn’t know where their next meal would come from would find these discussions ludicrous. It would be even more shocking how we can tear each other down over things like homeschooling, gluten, chevron, and high fructose corn syrup.

There may be times in our financial journey that our income barely covers our basic needs–shelter, food, clothing. In order to make progress we have to get a little crazy and do without some “necessities” like heat, toilet paper, organic food, and paleo ingredients.  In the scheme of things, we’ll still be living better than 80% of the planet.

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Surrounding Myself with Success

those we spend the most time with

I don’t have a lot of time today, but I wanted to express something short.  We become like the people we spend the most time with.  If we want to be savers, hanging out with extravagant spenders will influence how satisfied we are with our meager existence.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I grew up poor, but we didn’t know it.  Everyone around us was the same kind of poor.”

If I want to be thankful for my home and patient with the 1970’s decor and 43 year old carpet, then reading blogs that complain about “builder’s grade” and “boring beige” in their brand new home is not going to help my attitude.

If I want to be a good work at home mom, then I should listen to those who are already good at it. (Plus a little Zig Ziglar and Mary Kay Ash wouldn’t hurt.)

I’m keeping my real life, in the flesh, friends.  They are my people and God put them in my life, and I’m thankful.  I don’t have a lot of complainers, mis-managers, and snobs in the mix….can’t think of any, really.  But if I did, I would still love on them when we crossed paths even if I didn’t go out of my way to cross paths often.

The blogs I follow online are different.  It’s not personal.  If I need to take someone out of my life for a time, it’s one click of a button, and I can click back when I’m ready. I subscribed to every interior design blog I came across over the last 3 years (while we were planning changes to our fixer-upper), and the emails have been coming in daily since then.  I learned a ton during that time, but I’ve also found myself becoming more and more discontent.  I’m unsubscribing today.

Instead, I’m looking for encouragement to be patient with our mess, content with my family, to manage my business well, and  to be thrifty even when it isn’t pretty.  Along with my purging, I’m keeping my subscriptions to this, this, this, and this.  And reading often here and here.  These are some of the people that I can learn from without feeling discontent.

Where do you find encouragement to be what you need to be?

P.S.  I’m really close to 2,000 facebook likes.  If you have time to click “like” up in the side bar, it would make me giddy.

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Saving Yourself Into Debt

Early in our marriage I saved so much money, that I nearly ruined our finances. Nothing inspired me to spend like a 40% off coupon or a dollar bin of yarn.  I’d head into the salvage stores just to see what kind of good deals I could find.  At Walmart, I always checked the clearance rack even if we didn’t have clothing needs.  If I found a good deal, I bought one in every size and color.

This past Saturday, I sat in a craft show with my Mom with nearly my entire stash of fabric out on tables for all to see.

fabric stash

It was a good way for me to declutter, repent of all that spending, and get a head start on next year’s emergency fund mad dash.  While I sat there visiting with Mom, I thought a lot about what I spent on and what I could have done with the money instead (like saved it!)  Of course, I’m benefitting from hind sight and not being too hard on myself, since I used to have a sewing business and saved a lot of money making all my girl’s clothes when they were young.  Going forward, though, things are going to be different!

I’ll be listing the fabrics I have left on Etsy or Fabric Destashing for Those Who Aren’t Cray Cray  and sending it all the proceeds to the emergency fund. Then I’ll be looking for more things to declutter that might help us reach our goals.

Today, I started unsubscribing from the emails that tempt me with their really good deals.  It’s a temporary move until we get our emergency fund in shape. I’ll be needing 80% off area rugs again one day, and when I do I’ll know where to sign up for the deals.

Do really good sales tempt you to stock up on stuff you probably don’t need? How do you decide when to buy and how much?

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Some Cool Things

Today is a busy day.  This week I’ve gone through all my fabric (roughly 12 big tubs worth) and am letting it all go.  Well, almost all of it.  I’ve kept back just enough to fill 3 Sterilite tubs.  The rest needs to be cleaned, straightened, measured and marked for the craft show this weekend.  It’s supposed to snow!!!! I hope we have a good turn out anyway.

The idea is selling my fabric will help me reclaim my office and get us a little closer to baby step #3 (again.) At the rate we are going it will take us 7 years, but I have a goal to be done by this time next year.

Painting classes 4 kids

There are going to be some amazing vendors at the craft show, including my cousin who is offering $10 art sessions for kids while you shop.  If you are local, this is a must.

Before I run off to my sea of fabric, I wanted to share a couple of things with you.

I’ve been a crazy Facebook posting monkey.  If you haven’t liked me on facebook, you are missing out.  You should click like>>over there.  Then check out all the great frugal gift ideas that you have missed. (Plus we’ve talked about the best way to do winter Light Therapy; how to store silicone baking mats; and whether Pinterest ideas really make us feel inadequate–they don’t.)

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This app. Food logging couldn’t be easier or more fun.  I’m only upset I didn’t find it sooner.

I’m healthy enough to exercise now!  I’ve been walking for a couple of weeks, and now that my baseline of fitness has come up a bit, I’m starting in with the beginner exercises in this series.

I’m still eating the FYM way, but I’m also adding some recipes from this. I have an amazing recipe for skinny chocolate, and yes, it’s as good as it sounds.  If you twist my arm, I might share it.

Have you discovered anything cool lately?

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Write Your Own Debt Free Story

Write your own debt free story

I posted a link on facebook that went viral.  It went to Kelly’s story of how they paid off their house in 5 years.   Reading her story again made me think about how I could write my own future “house” debt free story.  Then live it.

Following Dave’s baby steps, we still need to finish our emergency fund; direct 15% of our income to retirement, and invest for college.  Then we can start working on our house.

Here’s how to write this story before it happens:

1.  Decide on a time frame.  For example 2 years (or 24 months) to finish the emergency fund.

2.  Figure up how much $$$ you need. I need $7,0000 to finish  the emergency fund.

3.  Divide the amount of money you need by the number of months.  This will reveal how much money per month you need to find in your budget.  $7,000 / 24 = $291.66.

4.  Make a sample budget to see where you will need to cut spending to allocate this much money to your goal. Is it doable?  No?  Then extend the number of months you will need.  Start by adding 3 months at a time until you get to a manageable number for your budget.

Is it so doable that you can’t believe it?  Shorten your time frame.  Lets get this baby done! (If I only took 1 year to finish my emergency fund I would need $583.33 a month.)

5.  Tighten your belt for the shortest time frame you can manage.  No restaurants, vacations, extra stuff….eat tuna, beans, peanut butter and ramen noodles if you have to. (But maybe not together.)

3803 S Union After

Then onto the house

If it took me 1 year to fund my emergency fund, I would owe $122,291.82 on my mortgage when I was done.

I’d be used to not spending that $583.33 a month and could chuck it at the mortgage without noticing a change.

If I did, I would pay off my house 6 years and 3 months early and save $14,0000 in interest.

Then I would not only recoup $1,000 a month to our pocket, but I’d have that $583.33 too.

At the end of the first house payment free year, it would add up to $19,000.

 Invested in a good growth stock mutual fund (averaging 10% return) at the end of 15 years I would have $472,571.59

At the end of 20 years:  $745,938.20

After 25 years: $1,111,764.39

Stupid house payment.

 

 

 

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How to Get Christmas Cash…Fast

Get Christmas Cash Fast

There’s only a few areas of my life that I have together…and none of them come to mind right now.   So if you don’t have any money saved up for Christmas yet, don’t worry.  It’s going to be ok.

You have most of November and December to save as much from your normal income as possible.  When you make up your budget for these months, funnel as much cash to Christmas as you can.

If you’re like us….that won’t be enough.  How much cash do you need?  If you missed my post yesterday, there was a video to help you figure out how much cash you actually need.  Do that first and you’ll have a concrete goal.

Let’s pretend you need $600, and subtract the amount of money you can save from November and December’s income.  Just for an example, it’s $200.  That leaves us with $400 left to get.

Ideas to generate cash:

1.  Donate Plasma:  Most clinics pay $20 for the first visit and $40 for the second in the same week, for a monthly income of $240.  Do that two months and you’d have $80 extra :). (Health restrictions apply.) And a bonus….it saves lives.

Women cleaning a window 3

2.  Emergency clean houses:  Going rate  $1o-15 an hour.  Work 26-40 hours doing this over the next 2 months and voila.

3.  Cook two meals when you are cooking for your family and offer a delivery service for working Moms. Going rate:  $20-30 for the meal (of course this all depends on the number of servings and the cost of ingredients.)  Net profit about $15.  26 meals over 2 months and you’re done :)

4.  Sell some stuff on Craigslist, Fabric destashers, or consignment stores.

5.  Combine ideas.  You don’t have to work 40 hours cleaning, what if you only worked 10, sold some stuff, and donated a little plasma?  Figure out what works into your schedule.

When offering services on Facebook, be specific about what you are offering and what your terms are: “I’m cleaning houses to help busy families get ready for their holiday gatherings.  I charge $10 an hour and can clean an average house in 4 hours. Send me a message and we’ll schedule it.”  That makes others feel more comfortable to hire you than if you say, “I’m willing to work and need cash if anyone has anything that needs done.”

When you need cash fast, how do you earn it? I’m always looking for new ideas :)

 

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How I Make My Christmas Budget

Christmas Budget That Works

The number one cause of Christmas Spending Disasters is a failure to plan.  If you haven’t already made a plan it’s not too late. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about what you can do right now if you don’t have any Christmas cash yet. But today, watch the video to see how to get it on paper.

 

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Using PowerPoint to Plan for Christmas

 

A couple of things I forgot to mention

1.  In PowerPoint you can drag over pictures to help with ideas.

2.  You can also copy and paste your budget from Excel and keep everything in one place.

More on excel and budgeting tomorrow :)

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5 Things to Do Right Now to DeStress Christmas

photo by MeiTeng

photo by MeiTeng

I know Halloween just ended and Thanksgiving isn’t here yet, but it’s time to plan for Christmas.  You don’t have to get out the tree yet or starting playing carols (But if you do, I won’t judge.)

Do these 5 things this week to make this holiday season easier to navigate.

1.  Make your Christmas Budget:  How much are you spending on gifts, cards, postage, decorations and food? It has to be cash….no borrowing allowed.

2.  Make your Christmas List:  This is just a list of names and a dollar amount you are going to spend on them. All those dollar amounts must add up to what you budgeted for gifts.

3.  Brainstorm Gift Ideas: This is a broad list of everything you can think of.  There will be time to narrow it down later.

4.  Make Your Christmas Card List: If you have one from last year, just take a few minutes to update the addresses and see if there needs to be any additions or deletions.  Knowing how many cards you plan to send will help you tweak your budget in step 1.

5.  Put it on the Calendar: When are your gatherings, school concerts, church events, family traditions?  Also put in when you should be done Shopping, when to wrap gifts, when to mail out Christmas Cards, when to bake cookies.  Put it on the calendar that is simplest for you. We use Google calendar in our home and have it sync with all our phones and lap tops.   I still love real paper calendars too.  When it comes to scheduling less is more.  If I get too scheduled up, all my family gets for Christmas is a stressed-out mama. Nobody wants that.

If you’d like more detailed ideas and printable planning pages, I wrote an ebook with all those things a few years ago.  You can get it here.

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