Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Week six in Jennifer Ford Berry's book, "Organize Now!" deals with organizing your finances. Despite an uncontrollable urge to link you directly to Dave Ramsey's website and call it a day, I'll offer you some insight on what we do around here to keep the Pearson family finances in check. Fair warning though... this might sound like a Dave Ramsey infomercial... you know, without the annoying "and if you call in the next 10 minutes" shpeel. LOL!
Seven short years ago, Chuck and I were living in a new town, I was preggo with child numero dos and had recently come out of work due to Anna's medical situation. Coming out of work was something that happened suddenly and not by my choice, so we went from a two-income family to a one-income family without warning, planning, or want-to. Keep in mind we still had the bills of a two-income family and for a time, things were pretty rough. Many months went by when I was literally "stealing from Peter to pay Paul" as the saying goes. Add mounting medical bills to this scenario. It was NO fun, I tell ya. No fun at all.
I had never heard of Dave Ramsey, but was immediately interested in his course "Financial Peace University" by the title alone. Our church was offering classes (by video and workbook) and Chuck and I signed up immediately. We were doing the best we could with what we were going through (which was mostly living off credit cards) but I knew we needed help. Help came in the form of a witty, tell-it-like-it-is, been-there-done-that, knight and shining armor...otherwise known as Dave Ramsey. ;) I hold the man in high regard, can you tell?
If you ever have the opportunity to take this class, I highly recommend it. You can even take it online now. If you want to get the gist of things, buy his book "Total Money Makeover" and heed every.single.word. There is no quick fix to getting out of debt. You have to "plan to work, and then work the plan" as he says. But if you do the work, you WILL reap the benefits.
This is the part where I should tell you how we live debt free and are the poster children for following Dave's advice. Ummm, no. If we had stuck to our guns we would be debt free by now. But we got lazy. And we lost focus. But luckily we've managed to get back on track and have made a plan to be debt free (except for the mortgage) in 5 years. That may sound like an awfully long time, but dear peeps, we're talking about an awful lot of debt. And you know what? It's TOTALLY do-able. Dave can show you how.
If you are so lucky (and smart!) to have not accumulated the debt that we have, Dave's advice is good for you too:
*Do you have an emergency fund? This will keep you from having to rely on those credit cards when the air-conditioning goes out or you need a new set of tires.
*Of course, a budget is crucial (I know, the "B" word. It's so ugly. But essential. Kinda like Spanx after childbearing!). You HAVE to know how much money you have coming in and going out before you can do anything else. This may take a month or more to collect such information, especially if you haven't kept up with things before now.
*Got outstanding debt? Tally your balances and start with the lowest, putting all extra cash toward paying that one bill down. Pay only the minimum payments on the rest. When that bill is paid in full, take the money you were paying on that bill and add it to the minimum payment of the bill with the next lowest balance. Dave calls this the "debt snowball."
Soon, you will see your debt disappear. It's a beautiful thing. Check out his website for all the deets on saving for an emergency fund, budgets, and basic wealth building. He's got it "down pat" as my grandmother used to say. It's fool proof.
The only other advice I can give on organizing your finances is to have a specific day set aside to pay bills. Mine is Monday. I pay the majority of my bills using my bank's online bill paying service and though it takes a few days to process, it's no slower than snail mail. And think of all the money you save in stamps! My apologies to the USPS! I also use automatic bill pay for our hospital bill. The benefit here is that you don't have to worry about the bill getting overlooked because it gets paid every month on the same day. The only thing you have to worry about is making sure there's money in the bank! I see us switching to more automatic bill payments in the future. This is easy when your emergency fund (in a separate savings account) is linked to your checking account through overdraft protection. Just one less thing to have to worry about, you know? Who couldn't use more freed up mental space?
Next week the topic of Berry's book deals with organizing your bill-paying system. I've re-vamped mine recently, so I can't wait to show you. Don't forget to check out House of Grace for tips from Bonnie and the other girls linking up to her party.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
We brought a quilt outside for Anna to sit on. She loved it! Daddy is taking a break from mailbox duty. When I say stuff like, "Honey, will you cut the bottom out of that fake whiskey barrel planter so I can put it around the mailbox?" he's always game. After 10 plus years, he trusts my vision (even when he can't see it for himself, right away!).
And there she is... ain't she purty?! It was getting dark, so the picture is not the greatest. We are going to fill in the bare spots with Lantana later on so it can spill over the sides. I'm pretty proud of our work. :) Adding little touches like this really makes a big difference to your curb appeal. What are you waiting for?! Get out there and show your mailbox some love!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Aren't the pictures precious? The title says it's for the very young, but my six year old and (mentally challenged) 9 year old love it. We've started keeping the TV off in the mornings and read a passage from the book as we begin breakfast.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Well, here we are at week 5 in Jennifer Ford Berry's book "Organize Now," and we are working this week to organize our personal information. Honestly, this was not a week I was looking forward to, but not for the reasons you might think. Surprisingly, Momma's got a pretty good handle on important paperwork. This is due primarily to the fact that I traded in my two drawer filing cabinet for a mack-daddy 4 drawer one that my father-in-law was getting rid of. Because I was the lucky recipient of such charity, I happily gave my friend Hollie my old filing cabinet. "Share the love," I always say. But I digress...
How about you? Could you put your hands on your family's important papers like Social Security cards, birth certificates, or car titles? Berry breaks down this weeks goals to guide us though this very important task:
1. Decide where you want to store this information. I'm a "paper-and-pencil" girl myself, although storing such info on the computer would probably be easier. Just be sure you save a backup copy to a jump drive, you know, just in case...
2. Label each category accordingly so you can reference the information easily. Berry suggests these:
*Your credit score (I have NO idea what mine is...oops!)
*Credit card and debit card numbers and the number to call if they are stolen
*Bank account numbers and the number to call if your checkbook is lost or stolen
*A budget for your income, expenses, savings, and personal goals
* Allergies (food, meds, animals, etc.)
* Your blood pressure
* Any health issues that run in your family
* Your cholesterol level
* Your blood type and those of family members
* Emergency contact numbers
* License plate number and VIN
* Flight numbers if you or a family member are planning a trip
* Current photos of every member of your household labeled with heights and weights
* Photocopies of yours, your spouse's, and your children's passports
D. Just In Case
* Your measurements and clothing size (along with your spouse's and your children's).
3. Purchase a fireproof storage box (if you haven't already) to keep important documents in like:
* Marriage certificates
* Birth certificates
* Death certificates
* Adoption papers
* Auto titles
* Stocks and bonds
* Household inventory list
* Valuable contracts
As mentioned earlier, I actually have a pretty impressive filing system but a fireproof safe, I have not. I've always wanted one, so I guess it's worked it's way up on my " things to buy" list. I'm going to look around because if I remember correctly, they are not cheap. Worth every penny, I'm sure, but not cheap.
I made a notebook for Anna's medical history several years ago to help me keep up with medicines (that she currently takes, and has failed), doctors and therapists (along with phone numbers and clinic notes or instructions for home) and basic seizure information that I pass on to anyone whose care she might be under (church workers, babysitters, etc.). As for the rest of the fam, including myself, I have almost NO
information. This area needs work I guess. I'll do a post on Anna's book, too, as that might be beneficial for some of you to see how something like that comes together.
I also need to get all my credit and debit card numbers together. We have been the victims of identity theft recently so many numbers have changed for us. This will also be a good chance to cancel some cards that carry a zero balance thanks to some hard work to become debt free. Woot-woot!
Next week we will dive in to organizing our finances and this makes me super excited! Berry's book is making this organizing stuff easy peasy. If you've been following along and haven't gotten the book yet, I would HIGHLY recommend it. Bonnie at House of Grace has a printable for your personal information that looks awesome today, so head on over to check out her post. Happy organizing, folks!
Friday, March 11, 2011
Since my Thursdays have been rather full "organizing my life" ;), I thought I'd interject a little music therapy today. When I need to get in touch with my inner red-neck, I like to listen to Miranda Lambert. This is such a fun song and it literally makes me LOL. So to kick off the weekend, here's a little diddy to help us laugh at ourselves. Just one question, tho... Southern belle or red-neck gal? Me? Well that's easy. "I'm just like you. Only prettier."
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011
First, let me say that I have NEVER been the running type. I really don't know what got into me, really, other than thinking it would be really cool to run a 5K. This program takes you from your current "couch potato" status, and through the course of nine weeks of building up walking and running intervals, will have you running continuously for 30 minutes, or 5 kilometers.
I started off gung-ho. I ran EVERY. OTHER. DAY. Without fail. Then life happens, as it tends to do (sick kids, sick husband, etc.), and I began to skip two and three days in between. Then Anna's seizure activity picked up and as of yesterday, it had been almost 2 weeks since my last run. But after NOT exercising, my body started to (dare I say it) crave running. I know it sounds bizarre, but it's the truth. So yesterday I hopped back on the treadmill and completed day three of week three and it felt great. I guess I'm a runner now. Who would have ever thought that would happen?!?
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I have at least figured out that I haven't been able to clean as I would like because a lot of my time is spent putting things back in their rightful home. I guess you could say I do a lot of "picking up" but not a lot of "cleaning up." I recently implemented a chore chart with my kiddo as well as began purging a lot of unnecessary things to help with this issue. After following Berry's advice to write down ALL tasks that need to be done in the house and then categorize them into what needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly, etc., I think I've come up with a plan that will help me be successful once and for all.
Basically, I broke my house into sections that will be addressed on certain days of the week.
Mondays: Master Bath and Master Bedroom
- sinks/counter tops/mirrors
- change sheets
- pick up
Tuesdays: Laundry Room and Kitchen
- wipe down washer and dryer
- sweep and mop Laundry Room
- put clothes away
- sweep/mop Kitchen
- clean sink/wipe counter tops
- clean microwave
- wipe down cabinets
- wipe down fridge
- clean out fridge
Wednesdays: Living Room and Dining Room
- clean t.v.
- pick up
Thursdays: Guest Room/ Office and Girls Bath
- change sheets
- clear desk
- sweep/mop bath
- wash rugs
Fridays: JR's Room
- change sheets
- clear desk
Jamie now has a new chore chart that involves keeping her room clean, but the Friday list is for me to make sure that things are being done and tweak some things that she's already done to get them to my specs. I know. Control is a hard thing to let go of. But I'm trying to keep this from happening again. Aye-yie-yie.
Of course there are things that NEED to be done daily like make the beds (hopefully JR has already made hers before school), take out the trash, dishes (empty dishwasher, load dishwasher, run, repeat :D), laundry, and some general sweeping (We keep our litter box for the cat in the master bath, so I'm trying to sweep in there every day to keep from stepping on strewn cat litter. I know. Gross part dos. And let's not forget one-third of our meal that seems to end up underneath the table. It's the only reason I'm thinking of getting a dog... kidding!) I recently purchased this little broom and dust pan set at Tuesday Morning. I thought it might help me feel cheerier (is that a word? LOL!) about cleaning crumbs and cat litter. I'll let you know when that emotion kicks in...
Once a month I plan to dust the base boards (first week of the month), ceiling fans (2nd week) and windows/ blinds (3rd week), change the air filter in the return and dust the grate (on the 4th week of the month). I'm outta control, right?!? Soon the Pearson house may actually be dust-bunny and cobweb free. Oh, to dream!
Three things I can already check off my list that Berry suggests is to have each family member an assigned towel for the week (Check), place a set of disposable disinfecting wipes in each bathroom for quick, in between cleanups (Check), and to save space by minimizing cleaners (big fat CHECK!). I recently switched to Shaklee cleaners after reading about it on Bonnie's blog and I have been super impressed. I'll do a post about them later cuz they are just. that. good.
Whew! What a long post! But can I tell you what a difference it makes to actually have it written down? There's no "Where do I start? What do I do now?" cuz it's all right there in black and white. In doubt? Check the list! And if the kids are sick and I'm unable to accomplish everything for that day... oh well. New day = new tasks. It can just wait until next week or if there's extra time later in the week (yeah, right!) I can back track on a task or two but I am NOT getting bogged down trying to play catch up. It just defeats the system, ya know?
I hope y'all are enjoying the book and every one's posts as much as I am. Don't forget to check out House of Grace today for inspiration on getting your own cleaning schedule started. Next week we delve into organizing our priorities and I've already jumped ahead a little. See what a little organization can do? ;)
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Chuck and I often wonder who was the first person to come up with this unique flavor combo. At first glance these ingredients seem like they would never go together, but trust me... It's super yummy. My mom used to make it all the time, and though it's technically a salad, I like to have it for dessert.
* Get yourself a can of pear halves and drain them.
* Arrange them on a bed of lettuce for presentation (I left the lettuce out, cuz, well, we were out of lettuce!).
* Add a dollop of mayo to the pear centers (I like to use a mellon baller because it's quick and keeps the fingers mess free!).
* Grate yourself a little cheddar cheese and sprinkle on top.
* Finish it with a cherry and you're good to go.
What could be easier than that? Pretty enough to take to a pot-luck and simple enough for an after school snack. And dee-lish. Four out of five housewives with the culinary skills of grade schoolers agree. ;)