Grace in Spending

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God has been dealing with me for years about excess and cutting back in hopes of helping others.  Summer of 7 was another part of that journey.  Recently, though, God has been dealing with me about cutting back.

My entire extended family is eight hours away.  For over 30 years, we’ve traveled back and forth at least twice a year visiting.  Up until recently, we’ve been able to stay with family but as some family members have passed on and our own family has grown, we’ve moved on to staying with my parents’ empty-nest friends (we’re pictured above visiting one Christmas at their house).

Read the rest of my guest post today over at Jamie’s blog

iPhone Apps That Save Money on your Cell Phone Bill

So I don’t know about you but a big part of our budget is our cell phones.  And I try to limit the cost first by using texts instead of minutes.  But of course I try to save there too by not having an unlimited plan and keeping my text messages in check with a limited texting plan.  Here are two apps I use to help:

kik

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A coworker clued me in to this app.  Each participant signs up for the app and then unlimited text messages are sent through your data plan, not your text message plan.  The trick is getting people to buy into it but if you can, it will save both of you text messages.

HeyTell

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I tried this app several months ago and it was awful!  It was a faux-walkie-talkie system.  The quality was bad and delayed.  However, they’ve switched it up so your whole audio message is recorded and then sent at once to the recipient.  You are alerted just like a text message that it’s there.  Again, both parties have to sign up.  I love this because there are many times I’m driving and can’t type a text message or it’s just too much to say.  Or sometimes you just need someone to hear your tone of voice as well as the message.  The girls and I love to just say “hey” all together when Scott is at work.

What other apps do you use to save money on your cell phone bill?

The Dave Ramsey Envelope System – 4 Month Review

cash-envelope-system-from-dave-ramseySo it’s been 4, almost 5, months since we started budgeting utilizing Dave Ramsey’s envelope system and 3 months since my last update.  How’s it going?

Well, the envelopes are dead.

But not by choice.  AND the budget is still alive and kicking.

About two months into using the cash/envelopes, which I LOVED, we had $100 disappear.  I’m not going to speculate how it happened but the bottom line is the money never showed back up and I just couldn’t make myself risk it again.  So for the past 2 months I’ve heavily relied on the Excel version of my budget as well as Mint.com to track all of our expenses but especially our envelope money.  I log on nearly every day and, yes, manually enter how much we’ve spent.  And I have to say, I like it.  Yes, cash holds you much more accountable but doing it this way relieves all the headache of shuffling money around when you’re caught without your envelopes.

What I love is that budgeting has nearly curbed our frivolous spending.  I mean, really. Sometimes I go all week without spending my blow money and now that I think of it, Scott hasn’t even asked about his in a few weeks.  I didn’t buy ANY clothes for anyone in January.  We had money left in our entertainment budget even though we went to the circus.  We’re eating in much more and while I know I could save more money grocery shopping with coupons, we’re staying within our budgeted amount. By saving in these categories, we’re able to use the extra for things like unexpected doctor bills, pharmacy bills and guitars that aren’t in the budget without ever having to touch our emergency fund.  I guess what I’m saying is I LOVE our budget and I really don’t know if I could or would ever live without one again.

In closing, I know I’ve plugged this book before but if you still haven’t checked out Jon Acuff’s new book Gazelles, Baby Steps and 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt you should.  If you are a Dave Ramsey-er it’s a must read.

123InkJets.com Ink Cartridge Deal

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OK I just got an amazing deal for ink cartridges and have to share.

I have an Epson Stylus Photo RX600 (That I wouldn’t recommend) that has the individual color cartridges.  It is a pain and a half because when one goes out, the whole thing won’t print.  I started buying the bulk containers that have 4 Black and then 2 of each of the color cartridges.  It makes my life SO MUCH EASIER to have them available.  Anyway, just got an amazing deal online.

  1. Go to ShopatHome.com and sign up/log in.
  2. Do a search on ShopatHome for 123inkjets.com.
  3. Click Shop Now once you find 123inkjets.com.  You’ll get a whopping 22% cash back from them.
  4. It will launch a browser window of 123inkjets.com.  Shop for what you need.  I got the set of 14 remanufactured cartridges.
  5. Right now they have a code EOY123 to get 20% off remanufactured cartridges. AND  they’re doing free shipping right now.  Both of these loaded automatically into my cart.
  6. Checkout

Here’s the math

$79.99
-$16.00 (20% coupon code)
FREE SHIPPING

Total OOP: $63.99

-$14.08 (22% from ShopatHome)

Total: $49.91

That’s only $3.57 per cartridge!  Holla!

Budget – Envelope System Update

cash-envelope-system-from-dave-ramseyI’m sure you’re waiting on pins and needles on an update about our envelope system.  I mean we HAVE been on it for a full pay cycle of 2 weeks now + the 1 week test run.  You’re excited, RIGHT?!

Well, you should be because it’s going SPLENDIDLY.  Splendidly, I tell you.  We stayed under budget for both the test run and the full 2 week cycle.  In fact, in all 3 weeks, we came $30 under in groceries, my most feared category, EACH week. 

I can’t tell you how nice it is to open my Mint.com account and only see 2 red lines (thanks to extra Charity (yay) and  pharmacy (boo)).  Usually by mid-month, the budget was shot and it was difficult to find a green line.  I mean, seriously, all the rumors are true…we finally know where our money is going instead of where it went!  It’s amazing!  We already have money set aside for our car taxes next spring for crying out loud.  It’s fantastic!

All of that to say it hasn’t been complete smooth-sailing.  There have been a few times we’ve been caught out without our cash and then we’re left juggling cash around envelopes after using our debit card.  Scott is more of the spender than me (really) and he’s stomped his foot and lowered his bottom lip a few times when I’ve had to say, it’s not really in the budget.  I can’t say I haven’t been disappointed just in the last two weeks not being able to spend like I want (fingernail polish or fall decorations, anyone?) but in hindsight it feels really good to have stuck to my guns.

We have made a few changes.  There are a few categories that Dave recommends we use for envelopes like gas or vacation that is just too inconvenient or silly to keep in envelopes.  So far, I’ve kept other things super divided.  Food is our sore spot so I have separate envelopes for groceries, fast food, sit-down restaurants and coffee.  I know it seems like a lot but knowing ahead of time it is our weakness, we are better able to keep an eye on how many times we’re eating Taco Bell and how many times we’ve gotten coffee etc. with it like this.

Speaking of food, I still haven’t mastered weekly meal planning.  I’m at the grocery store constantly, only thinking of dinner a day or two ahead of time but you know, we’re literally 3 minutes from the store and it’s just hasn’t been a big deal.  It’s the only way I don’t completely stress over the whole thing.  And you know they say the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  So I’m tackling this dinner thing bite by bite…or something like that.

So all in all, I really can not imagine not having this even just a few weeks in.  All our needs are met, our wants are managed and we have flexibility to help others. Win, win, win!