Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Teaching Giving at Christmas

I strongly believe that giving is something that can be encouraged and taught at a young age to foster a giving spirit when older. You may recall that my husband and I are trying to pay off our debt and really focus on family, fun and memories. Even though we are paring back our Christmas overall ( as far as gifts, wow did we buy the kids too much!), there is one tradition we love keeping.

We give goats. Or chickens. Or geese- to people in need through 

We've been giving to this organization for a while ( 15 years maybe?) and when my oldest daughter started Kindergarten, she wanted to give a goose in her teacher's name for Christmas. Talk about making this momma proud.

To backup just a bit, according to the website Heifer's mission is to:
We empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but our approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market.
When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.
I love that Heifer promotes "passing the gift" meaning that when a family accepts a gift, they are trained on how to care or manage that gift, then are expected to give the knowledge to others around them. They have projects all over the world, even right here in the United States. They help provide everything from actual heifers.... to ducks, geese, goats, sheep, rabbits, vegetable gardens, bee hives and more. It's a great way for us to teach our kids about sustainability as well. 
Once you donate, you can order free "honor cards" in a variety of beautiful prints, to give to whomever you are honoring. 
This year both of our older daughters decided to get this: USE THEIR OWN MONEY to purchase a gift for their teachers. One "bought" a flock of geese, the other a flock of ducks. I also purchased a gift of a gardening project in honor of my boss who has been extra amazing this year. 
We love to give at the holidays, I think this is an amazing way to share our blessings with those that can benefit from it. It's not a handout, anyone that has hand milked a cow twice a day, or made goat's milk cheese, know that these families work hard, but just giving the initial gift of an animal can make such a difference in their world. 
Happy Homesteading Y'all!

Monday, September 5, 2016

So what changes are we making?

The last few days I've talked about the Debt pickle we're in, how it happened and why we are trying so hard to get out of it. Today I wanted to just kind of go over the things we are doing to help remedy the situation.

We made a budget. We've "had" a budget before but it was pointless because we never used it. Laughable actually and a waste of paper. So we have a budget for September and so far ( a few days into the month) we are doing okay with it.

There are certain things we can't do anything about; like our childcare. Our son is 4 and has the most amazing babysitter ever. She watches him 4 days a week and my father in law watches him on Fridays. We have to pay her of course what she asks, which is comparable to day cares in our areas and she provides breakfast, lunch and snacks. She's just awesome. We'll pay her until Fall of 2017 when little man starts school...

We got rid of cable years ago, but right now have Netflix, Hulu and Amazon prime. Netflix I think we will keep and I've already paid for Amazon prime for about 9 more months (it's a yearly fee). I checking into cancelling Hulu though. That would save us 11.99 a month.

I've budgeted $450 a month for groceries with NO eating out. I haven't been to the store yet this month ( September) but will have to go soon. Although it wasn't too many years ago I was feeding our family on about $280 a month, but all the kids are bigger now and the costs have went up, so I think $450 is fine. Looking back we were spending at least $600 a month on groceries ( gulp) and between $100-$150 a month on eating out. We didn't even eat out much but with 5 of us, it added up quickly. The sad thing is that if you would ask me how much I am spending a month and I would probably have said oh about $400..... Man I was clueless.

So point being,now we have a plan. We know what we were spending and have ideas and thoughts on what to spend going forward. We also have a plan for saving for my tuition in the Spring which will be due in January and we won't have to put back for the summer since I'll be getting paid all summer now.. We'll need to build up some savings for other expenses like emergencies and such though.

Anyways, it feels good to have a plan. It feels okay to have a start.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Our reasons to get out of debt

So the last two days I've posted about our financial distress situation. I won't rehash that. We've made some super bad decisions....

So what do we really want to do with our lives? With our money? With our family?

My husband and I have always wanted to buy some land up in the mountains. We have a specific little town in our state about 3 hours from where we live currently that we have fallen in love with. The town, the people, the landscape. It's where our heart is. We go there several times a year hiking and such and dream about having land there. Maybe just to camp on, or put a small camper on. Maybe to build a home on one day. But we want some land there.

We want a small creek, and it needs a well, and acreage for the kids to play on, and room for a few animals. We want to be remote, and not see another person or home from our place.

There is a small college about 30 minutes from there that has the program that I teach in, so it's possible that I could get a job there and my husband does computer-y type stuff so he might be able to work from home. A lot of ifs but it gives us something to think about. Perhaps we just weekend up there, and the kids and I say there in the summer and my husband come up after work on Fridays. We've talked a lot about this imaginary piece of land we want. But I think it energizes us. It gives us something to look forward to.

We were hoping to be able to buy some land within 4-5 years but I'm thinking now it may be 7-8 years. The problem is that it will be a big fat never though if we don't do something about it today. We have to get debt paid off and get some savings built up. I honestly think if we work super super hard and stay focused it could still be within 4-5 years. I hope that motivates us to really get moving on this debt needle.

Besides that dream, we need to be better role models for our kids. They aren't super greedy or materialistic, but I also don't think we've taught them about money as well as we could have. They don't know that we are having trouble right now, they still have food and snacks and clothes so all is well. But we want to be able to leave them a legacy and to help them be successful.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

So what happened? How did we get so far into debt?

Yesterday I talked a bit about our family being in financial distress. It's a hard realization. But I think it's like other problems: until you realize that you really do have a problem, it doesn't seem real to you.

So we have a problem with money. Not necessarily with making money; my husband and I both work hard and have good jobs. We just aren't spending it wisely, and not saving it for rainy days.

We have debt. We have student loans, 1 car payment ( thankfully one is paid off) a mortgage, 2 credit cards, medical bills and a mortgage. Dave Ramsey would say we "are normal". He also would say normal people are broke. Ugh. We are.

The problem really happened this summer. My last paycheck was May 15th. I wouldn't get paid again until August 31st. We had put a little money back for summer, but not near enough for what we needed. I mean what was I even thinking? Why did I not sit down and actually map out how much money we would need? Lesson learned. We were way way short.

Early on in the summer we went on vacation with my husband's family. We do this every other year. My father in law rents the house, we pay for everything else. Although we didn't live it up on vacation, there was the extra expense of gas, groceries and eating out. We spent money that we should have been saving for the rest of the summer. I'm just being honest here guys, we messed up.

I took two classes towards my PhD this summer, and we paid out of pocket. Although, I'm thankful we had that money we could put towards my education without additional debt, we should have saved more.

Things like our mortgage and electric bill needed to be paid, but we didn't have enough to cover it from my husband's checks, so out comes the credit cards that we haven't used in sooo sooo long. Ugh.... again I'm thankful we were able to pay, but we are just in a mess.
So we are going to stop digging. That is what it comes down to. We have got to stop getting further into debt.. We have to start making progress and get some savings built back up. Tomorrow I'll talk about our future goals, then I'll talk about things we are doing to hopefully help. After that I'll get back to just posting on the regular happenings around the homestead with some updates thrown in every so often.

Happy Homesteading Y'all.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Financial Distress

Financial Distress; typically you hear that term when describing a school, company or business. However, that is where my family is at this point. Since I do about 90% of the spending in our family, I'll take blame for it, but it's here and it's bad.

I mean we're fine. We just have been super dumb about our finances. So here is the thing; on most things I'm super frugal. I mean we grow a ton of our own food, I can a lot, we have chickens for eggs, we don't buy a ton of extra wants. I thought we were doing good.

But I haven't gotten paid since May 15th ( I work for a university) and even though we had put "a little" back for summer, it wasn't near what we needed, so we got behind on stuff, we used credit cards and it's just a mess. A few things popped up that needed fixing, a few medical bills and doctor's visits came around, my middle daughter broke her glasses and we had to pay out of pocket for a new pair, and we just overspent.

You may or may not recall that I'm about 3/4ths of the way finished with my PhD program and we are paying out of pocket for that. We did have enough to pay for that, as we had a separate account set up for it, but that's just an extra expense we have right now. We both though agreed that I'm so close, that if we buckle down and just save that the small amount I'm paying out of pocket is worth it. Thankfully I receive scholarships for most of it.

So on September 1st ( yesterday) the hubs and I chatted about it. Actually it was quite a discussion for quite some time.... and I think we are both very very committed to getting things under control. We laid out every single bill and payment that we have and discussed. We talked about things we are both doing that are not conducive to the goals that we have. We talked about financial behaviors we have that aren't good for us. It was actually very therapeutic.

So here we are. On Day 2 of our journey. The first thing that I think is helpful is that back before July 1st started I opted to start getting paid all 12 months instead of just 9 months. This is the first year that our university has offered that, and although that means my check is smaller each month, I will get one all summer.

Tomorrow I'll write more about "What happened?" also known as " How did we get here?". It's a mess folks.

Others are no doubt dealing with a realization that the debt is overtaking their life, and I welcome you to follow along on our journey. Some of you have gotten out of debt years ago- good for you! Others may never have bitten the debt ridden apple- even better. I think we can all learn from each other!

Happy Homesteading!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A rainy ( but productive) Saturday

It's been raining here a lot... We are not in the flood zones; our thoughts and prayers are with those in Louisiana though.

I got up early and had some coffee and read a bit. Then my oldest daughter went to collect eggs. We have quite the stockpile so I decided to make and freeze some breakfast burritos for breakfast next week.

I had some home made sausage from a wild boar we got last year and then added some  bell peppers from the garden with about a dozen eggs and wrapped them up in a nice flour tortilla. Then I wrapped them in foil and put them in a big baggie and put in the freezer. Bam; 10 breakfasts ready to go....

I then made about 3-4 dozen home made chocolate chip cookies, which will be yummy snacks for us all next week.

Lunch was tacos made with deer meat, tortillas, black beans and peppers on mine and hubbies, no peppers for the kids.

I made 2 gallons of tea to drink for the next few days. Un sweetened , but my kids don't really know what sweet tea is to taste like, so they don't know..

Other updates around the homestead:

Our pears which normally are amazingly abundant seem to be lacking this year and on top of that there appears to be an insane amount of squirrels that are eating them... I'm not sure how many we'll get.

We are still getting a few tomatoes and peppers from the garden, but the main harvests of our summer crops are mostly over.

We are still getting eggs daily which is a blessing.

The muscadines and grapes also aren't doing as well as normal. I'm hoping for enough for some jelly and juice...

What's going on around YOUR homestead???

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Are you in love with beauty and spa products? But not so much with the ingredients?

I think I've had this picture in my mind that in order to be a "real" homesteader and to be super crunchy and green, women had to forgo all the luxurious, amazing smelling, beautiful beauty and bath products. But that is totally not true.

I love nice long baths.

I love a good face mask.

I love soft lips and hair.

I love a good lotion.

I love a wonderful soap.

What I LOVE LOVE LOVE about Posh products are that they are free of a lot of those weird crazy ingredients that I try to avoid and that they are made in the USA. I would appreciate it if you would check out my site here . There are so many wonderful items and they are buy 5 get the 6th Free and also $5 shipping no matter how much you buy.

If you are looking for a way to earn a few ( or a lot) of extra dollars around the homestead I have found Posh to do the trick. I have found it easy to sell because people love it and it's practical. They have a great commission plan and treat their consultants so well. For example, most companies you can earn free products ( which Posh does also) but you also earn Posh points which are good for a huge variety of items like electronics, travel, gift cards, toys for the kiddos etc. I got a Keurig for my office with my Posh points last month!

Thanks for checking out my site at

Please let me know how I might can help you, if you have questions about signing up to sell, or questions about products.

Happy Homesteading Y'all.