Wednesday, March 27, 2013

the debt reduction diaries: march

alright, let's just get down to it:

the whining:
*I'm reeeealy sick of this grocery budget.
*I got another late fee this month.  forgot to pay Brielle's preschool bill.  SERIOUSLY...what is wrong with me.
*Trader Joe's raised the price of my very favorite item from there.  brown rice medley.  it used to be $1.99 and now it's $4.99.  goodbye you bag of wonderfulness.  see ya never again. :(
*I've gained five pounds, most likely from only slightly changing our diet. we're still not eating much of it, but some processed foods have crept their way back into our home, thanks to their lovely price tag.  boo.
*our list of 'things we need to fix but can't afford to' grew this month.  found out the computer will be $300 at least to send it in.  we can totally do without it, but it's the computer I was using for all my photography stuff.  so now I just have to figure out what to do.  (did you know I've been dabbling in photography???  every year I have a handful (or two handfulls) of families who ask me to take their pics, so this year I started charging $50.  cheap enough for most people, but it helps me cover my time that I could be spending sewing, which would bring in some money. so anyway, I have to figure out what to do without that computer, learn new programs, etc.) so yeah, that 'list' now consists of Steve's car, the back sliding door, the bathroom vent/fan, and the computer. but we're managing just fine without them all. :)  (and the dishwasher USED to be on that list!)
*my serger also broke. :(  so I spent a whole spring break day (when I could actually be sewing all day) trying to fix it first, because I wasn't about to shell out a bunch of money if it was something I could do.  so I wasted the whole day because it really was broke, and then I still had to pay to get it fixed.  that was one item that was NOT allowed on 'the list' because I really need it.  so that just stunk. but...the guy got it back to me the NEXT day.  last summer when I brought it in to another place, I had to wait like TWO freaking weeks to get it back.  so I guess I should just quit complaining about the cost and be thankful I got it back for the rest of spring break.  I got a lot done that week.
*I'm having a really hard time with the whole balance thing.  I actually did really well with the budgeting part this month.  we had $38 and two weeks left for meal planning this month (I realize that doesn't sound like I was doing good, but bear with me).  so I took a piece of paper and a pen, and wrote down all the random things that were in our cupboards.  a can of this, a half eaten bag of that.  and I put all that random stuff on our meal plan. and I got out my calculator and old receipts (so I could be SURE of the prices) and made my list of things to buy to turn the random things into meals.  by that time I had $31, and when I got to the register, my total was $31.77....BUT Josiah brought his own money to buy a candy for a dollar, so that means...UNDER BUDGET baby! :)  I was proud.  my master plan worked. :)  I have since spent about $4 of "other money" though, because I could NOT stomach the quick oats for one more day.  seriously, I'm a steel cut kind of girl, and I was gagging.  it was bad.  so I guess now I technically went over budget.  but it was worth it.  oh, and today I bought a can of beans for $.78. but I used change to buy it so I feel like it doesn't count as going over. :) ok, but staying focused on the budget, and working on pinkadink orders, and keeping the house maintained, all of which I did a pretty darn good job of this month, totally took over my life.  The things in my life like rest, and devotions, and other important things took a back seat.  more on that later, I guess.  but it just didn't feel like a very successful month, life-wise.

ok and now the blessings:
*we got a DISHWASHER!!!!!  our friends (who were not all that long ago in our shoes with the whole debt elimination thing) upgraded, and blessed us with their old (but perfectly functioning, just kinda loud) :) one.  and let me just say, that if you ever want to give someone the gift of TIME, that's the way to do it.  I cannot even express my gratefulness for that gift.  It makes me cry.
*the pinkadink orders continue to come in.  I agreed to do the whole daycare thing again because normally this time of year is slow for me.  But I've seen 2am three times in the last week, just trying to get caught up with orders.  at one point this month I had over 80 items on my list of orders, and now it's down to like, under 20 or so.  just in time for my parties next month!  I feel so blessed.  It's the type of thing that I feel guilty about, ya know, when people hand me a big check.  But my dear husband constantly reminds me that these people (God bless them!) are CHOOSING my business, and my work, and my style, and my effort, and my quality, because they want to. I need to remind myself that everyone else who works any job gets paid for their time and their skills too.  it's a constant battle, as I'm sure it is with any sell-what-I-make type of people. But I'm just so thrilled that people love my stuff! :)  and even when it calls for some late nights, I LOVE that it's really happening for me. that I'm able to earn a little money for my fam doing something I love so much.
*Miss Maddie (my little daycare friend) is someone that I haven't mentioned much on this blog series but she's the cutest little 2 year old girl you've ever seen, and she takes up a pretty big part of my life, and my heart. :)  I'm not sure you can ever love anyone as much as you love your own kids, but man, you can sure get close.  She spends every weekday with us, playing, reading, crafting, playing games, walking, talking, singing, you name it.  She and Brielle play so well together, and I'm just so thankful she's back in this house every day.  We had spring break and a few snow days when she wasn't here in March so it really made me realize what a blessing she is here.  Yes, it's a paycheck, which is helpful, but her.
*We have had a couple other sources of major 'blessing' this month too.  People just deciding to bless our family.  It's a hard place to be in, because I sure don't want anyone to think I write this all out here on the blog to encourage people to "bless" us.  That's certainly not it.  But everyone keeps telling us that God will honor our decision to be financially responsible and tithe faithfully (because man, that's a lot of money that could be going toward food or bills), and maybe this is one way He's doing that.  money for gas to go to OC for Easter.  a gift card and special treats.  people listen to God.  and I can't wait til it's our turn for that.
*my sister came to help me for a weekend!  Friday night was very non-productive, but we just hung out and browsed facebook together (do any other sisters do that?  we do it all the time) talking about "her" eyebrows, "her" house, "her" kids, "her" style, trying to figure out if "she" had a baby, or if it's her niece or what.  I don't know what we ever talked about before we could facebook stalk. :)  but isn't it just so fun to be with sisters? even when we're doing nothing. Then Saturday we WOOPED up on pinkadink stuff bc I could be like "can you cut this for me? and now iron this? now trace this.  and iron this.  now cut this out of that fabric," all while staying parked in front of my machines, cranking stuff out.   it made me realize that I need Lillian to grow up a little faster. or Maria to move to Omaha.  but I don't think either of those will be happening anytime soon.  which, in the case of Lillian, is a good thing. :)
*we just did our monthly budget meeting for April, and GUESS WHAT!!!  this is the month that we reap the benefits of an extra paycheck!  Steve gets paid every other week, so twice a year there's more than 2 checks a month.  we won't actually see the extra until the end of April, but we're so excited to finally be at this point.  so far we plan on paying off our van (we'll have around $500 left after we pay bills this month) and then, (cue drumroll....) our snowball will officially begin!!!!  plus we'll have the rest of the check to decide what to do with.  right now we're tossing around ideas such like fixing steve's car, or paying off some of our credit card debt which more than likely has a few other car repairs on it from before.  dumb vehicles.  ugh.  I"m going to STRONGLY encourage our children to work in the area of car mechanics.  or chiropractics.  or computer repair.  or back-door sliding glass creation and installation.  you get the point. :)  so anyway, it just feels so good to finally see the benefits of all our planning and skimping and trusting.  We still have to figure out how much of our "snowball" to use as a snowball, and when we should actually start budgeting for things specifically, like oil changes and new tires and home repairs and haircuts (seen Josiah lately?  I love it, but still...) and water treatment things and everything else that we KNOW we'll have to pay for somehow in the near future.  our $100 of "other" money doesn't get us much besides shampoo, toothpaste, random things like school pics and preschool deposits, and maybe some toilet paper.  so that should probably happen soon, but then I feel like our snowball that we finally created is just going to disappear again. :(  but I'm trying to focus on the blessing of actually getting there.  soon!!!

the lesson:
Being aware of blessings in my life is something that I've been working really hard at these last three months.  But today as I was reading my devotional (yes, the same one I talk about all the time.  I can't help it, it's that good.  I just LOVE it!) I was hit with a ton of bricks.  here's what it said:

"Be still in My Presence, even though countless tasks clamor for your attention.  Nothing is as important as spending time with Me.  While you wait in My Presence, I do My best work within you: transforming you by the renewing of your mind.  If you skimp on this time with Me, you may plunge headlong into the wrong activities, missing the richness of what I have planned for you. 

Do not seek Me primarily for what I can give you.  Remember that I, the Giver, am infinitely greater than any gift I might impart to you.  Though I delight in blessing My children, I am deeply grieved when My blessings become idols in thier hearts.  Anything can be an idol if it distracts you from Me as your First Love.  When I am the ultimate Desire of your heart, you are safe from the danger of idolatry.  As you wait in My Presence, enjoy the greatest gift of all: Christ in you, the hope of Glory."

--Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young

ugh, that was my problem this month.  I spent a lot of time being thankful for my blessings, but this whole money thing has real power over my mind.  My prayers are prayers of thankfulness, which is important.  but I was missing the adoration.  the act of WORSHIP that can be experienced in prayer.  thanking God for who He is, not just what he's done for me.  I needed that today.  I got lazy with my worship time, I got too busy with my "jobs," and I got too obsessed with my blessings this month. I was quite focused on ME, even though the things that I was doing were good things. 

so after the whining and the blessings the lesson learned, I have the challenge:
In April, coming fresh of the heels of Easter, my very most emotional holiday, I will strive for balance, recognizing that the only way to achieve it is by having priorities.  and number one will be "be still in My Presence, even when countless tasks clamor for your attention."  yowza, that'll be hard.  I just got done writing a whole blog post about how hard it is for me to be in this house day in and day out, surrounded by the millions of things that need my attention, remember? so this will be tricky. take the time.  every day.  and don't focus on me. 

that was a really long "summary."  but someday I think I'll be glad to go back and remember the struggles, and see the blessings listed out.  And I"m not offended if you just skimmed it. :)  it's for me, not you. :)

1 comment:

Teresa Templin said...

YAY for your dishwasher and other blessings!!
My sister and I stalk FB together too.....extremely entertaining and informative with someone else.
I too need to take on a similar challenge....thanks for sharing your life.