Friday, September 30, 2011

thrifted find #1 & thrift store "ambiance" {31 days of thrifting}

 
On the first day of thrifting, my true love gave to me:

 
The Dyson handheld vacuum- $25, brand new in the package at Goodwill.
{bonus points if you can sing that to the tune!}

how to get a great workout outdoors {finding your sweet spot series- part 4}

This is part 4 of our {fitness on friday} series on finding your exercising “sweet spot.” Check out part 1, part 2, and part 3 if you are just joining in!

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Today we’re talking about getting a great workout outdoors!

Did you ever notice how you can be feeling down, and then you step outside and spend a few minutes in the sunshine and everything seems better? Take that feeling and add endorphins to it, and you’ve got a magical formula- one you might even be able to call your exercising “sweet spot.”

To me, the biggest benefit of exercising outside is getting to breathe fresh air, soak in the sunshine and enjoy God’s wonderful creation. Ah, the joys of living in the world God made, right? :D

There are so many ways to burn calories in the great outdoors, and today I’m going to start with the most popular two: walking and running!

1. Walking

Walking is one of the most enjoyable exercising options out there- probably because it requires the least amount of exertion. If you are just beginning to exercise, this may be your perfect match. All you need is comfortable shoes and moving legs! :D

You can easily incorporate walking into your life on a daily basis. You could start with a morning stroll before your day begins, or do the same with a friend or spouse in the evening. Finding a walking companion keeps you accountable {the #1 motivation secret, remember? :)}, and makes your exercising time even more enjoyable.

If you are looking for more than just a stroll, and want to up the calorie burn, walk as fast as you can! I have a friend that was part of a walking club and they walked an incredible 5 miles per hour, which is faster than many people jog- and if you don’t believe me, try it- it will give you an amazing workout!

And to lift the heart rate even higher while walking, you could add light hand weights or ankle weights to increase the effectiveness of each walking session. Going up hills will strengthen your legs and raise your heart rate as well!

Believe it or not, you can get an amazing workout without ever doing high-impact moves like running or jumping!

Here are a few more resources if you’re interested in walking:

:: Mayo Clinic- walking benefits and tips
:: Start Walking Now- walking plans, community, events, and more
:: Ways to add 2000 Steps to Your Day- 30 ways to stop sitting still

2. Running

Running is another popular option for exercising outdoors. It’s a challenge whether you are just beginning or even a more advanced athlete- the intensity of running all depends on the speed and power with which you run.

If you are just starting to exercise and want to become a runner, the Couch to 5k plan works very well. You basically up the time you spend running or jogging during each workout, until you are running the full 3 mile distance without walking.

MP900409756Speaking of 5k races, setting a goals to run a race or fun run can give you the motivation to exercise consistently. If you are like me, having a goal makes you take the first step outside, and having a deadline keeps you on track.

Like walking, if you run with a friend or spouse and you are accountable to meet them at a certain time, you are less likely to skip your workout. And I know from personal experience, talking to a friend while jogging or running increases your cardiovascular fitness! There’s a reason they make soldiers sing while they run!

There are so many resources available if you are interested in running, but narrowed it down to two of my favorites for you:

:: Runner’s World: blogs, races, tips, and running shoe reviews. No matter if you’re a beginner or a marathon runner, they have something for you!
:: Cool Running- running logs, virtual trainers, and the creators of the Couch-to-5k.

Whether you are running, walking, or a mixture of the two, you can’t go wrong with your exercise if you’re enjoying the great outdoors at the same time!

So tell me, are you a runner? Or do you want to become one someday? I’m always so in awe of people that run, aren’t you? They have such discipline!

 

coming next Friday: more ideas on how to get a great workout outdoors!

Don’t forget- tomorrow begins our 31 days of thrifting and the October giveaway! Have a great weekend!!

*royalty-free stock images from Microsoft.com

Thursday, September 29, 2011

thrifting, vintage goodness, & a giveaway ::: October happenings @ {bh}

I’m excited to get to share lots of fun news with you today!!

October is going to be a big month around here!

{and not just because my birthday is coming- 29??? for real? oh.my.goodness! …ok…focus...!}

Here’s what’s coming up:


I’m joining in the fun over at the Nester’s place- I’m jumping in for the “31 Days of Blogging” challenge! Here’s my topic:

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

{what i wore this week} pc & primary colors edition

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This has been the week of big blogging posts and lots of computer work! I think I’ve spent most of my free time in front of my laptop since last Thursday. All by choice, of course! It’s all for fun! :D

First there was the video/multimedia post I did on Monday about OneVerse! {you guys should check it out- did you know 340 million people don’t have the Bible in their language?}

Then, there was the huge living room reveal yesterday! Crazy stuff- it’s so exciting to see the finished product!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

living room tour {with before and after pics!}

I’m so excited to show you our living room “before and after!” We started remodeling it in the spring, and I’m happy that after six months of working on it {including finishing those last few details}, we are finally done! Phew! I want to encourage those of you who are still renovating- it’s worth it!

We bought our home last year as a foreclosure, and the previous owners did not take great care of the house at all. The fireplace was falling down, the floors hadn’t been cleaned in ages, and there were several cracks in the drywall. I so wish we’d gotten more before pictures so I could show you! You never want to take pictures of ugly though!

I showed you the entryway a couple of weeks ago, so let’s do the full tour today!

the living room before:

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off-white trim, yellow walls, icky dark floors, and even with the warm walls, extremely dreary.

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and after all of our DIY blood, sweat, and tears work…

can we get a drumroll, please…

Friday, September 23, 2011

how to get a great workout at home {part 3}

This is part 3 of our {fitness on friday} series on finding your exercising “sweet spot.”  Check out part 1 and part 2 if you are just joining in!

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Technology is changing the way we interact with the world, and it’s changing the way we exercise as well. We covered how to get a great workout at home using DVD’s and videos last week, and this week I’m going to give you a few more ways to use technology to exercise at home.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

laundry devotion {on weariness}

This week’s laundry devo is on weariness. Many of us are in a stage of life that leaves us physically or emotionally weary, but it’s so exciting to know that the Bible is full of encouragement and instructions for those who are exhausted and burdened!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

{what i wore this week} my blue “sweet” shoes edition

Happy Wednesday to you!

I got to visit one thrift store last week and I’m so happy because… I found some blue shoes for $5. Giani Bini. With tiny heart cut-outs. And peep toes!

They’re sweet!

{if you can’t wait to see them, scroll on down and then come back up! ;)}

It was warm here in Texas again- but hey, fall colors and plaids count, right? Black, greens, and oranges? I got this J. Crew skirt at Goodwill for $4.

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shirt- Gap, $3, skirt- J.Crew/GW $4, shoes- Mia/GW, $5

1 hour piano bench makeover

 
A few weeks ago I did this easy piano bench makeover in just an hour!
 
here’s what it looked like before:
 
and the after….!

Monday, September 19, 2011

menus and goals–9/19/11

just over seven months ago, I was here:

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We hiked miles into the mountains of Kauai in early February of this year and it was amazing! Think of the Jurassic Park helicopter ride with waterfalls and cliffs with thousand-foot drop-offs…. oh, how I miss it!  Yeah, I have to say a tiny tropical island is sounding pretty sweet right about now… :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

#1 motivation secret+ using technology to exercise at home {finding your exercising sweet spot- part 2}

Today we’re covering part 2 of our {fitness on friday} series on how to get a great workout anywhere! {check out part 1 here!}

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If you’re just joining in, we’re doing a series of articles over the next few weeks on how to find your exercising “sweet spot:” a way of exercising that works for your life, your budget, your personality, your family, and your time schedule.

Last week, I covered lots of ways to get a great workout at home, and this week I’m going to give you a few more ideas that might work for you if you like to exercise under your own roof.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

laundry devotion {on blessings}

This week’s laundry devo is about blessings- how we view them in our modern culture, and what they look like in believer’s lives in the Bible. This week I’ve also included the text below if you prefer reading rather than listening. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

{what i wore this week} reconsidering fashion edition

This week my view of fashion got turned on it’s head. Oh my goodness. I thought the hubs and I were on the same page when it came to what looked cute on me.

I thought we both loved outfits like these:

funky plaids with lots of jewelry…

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shirt- AE/GW $4, pants- Gap $7, shoes- Gianni Bini, eBay, $8, bracelet, JCPenney


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and cute polka-dots and skinny jeansIMG_2638
shirt- $4 GW, pants- AE/GW, $6, shoes- Dillards, $28, belt- Target, $4

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even dressy tees with metallic shoes and headbands…

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shirt- GW $4, pants- GW $7, flats- Gap, $10

and vintage belts and heels in bright red…

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shirt- Goodwill, $4, pants- AE/GW $7, shoes- $4 GW, belt- $1/GW

and last week, I discovered this is what my husband actually likes:

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shirt- Hawaii, jeans- hudson’s refashioned, shoes- Steve Madden, $11

t-shirts and jeans and flats.

I was all ready with my cute clothes for the day, and then changed into a t-shirt and jeans to do some mopping and cleaning. I walked out and he told me in all seriousness for the first time I can ever remember, “You look so cute! That’s definitely my most favorite outfit of all you’ve ever worn.”

What?

What????

I looked down again to see what I had on, and looked back up to him to see if he was joking. And then I looked down again. It wasn’t that adorable red skirt or my high heels that I’d planned to wear, or the cute clothes and accessories I’d worn for the past few weeks in an effort to impress my sweet husband.

It was a black t-shirt and jeans.

Seriously. What’s a girl to do when she’s been given the highest clothing compliment ever by her hubs?

She wears her t-shirt and jeans for rest of the day.

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Nothing special here. But he loves it….?

I’m looking for a motive…maybe it was that the t-shirt was from our last vaca to Kauai? and he’s fondly recalling the great time we had there?

Or…maybe {wishful thinking here} I look young again and it reminds him of our youth?

Or….

or…. I don’t know.

maybe he’s just a t-shirt and jeans guy.

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I clearly have some thinking to do.

And I suppose a couple of t-shirts to buy.

I have like two.

I’m not a fan of t-shirts.

But I guess I will try to become one??

oh. my.

What would you do? Is there a happy medium between t-shirts and cute clothes? Ideas, anyone? I’m in trouble.

Help. Please.

Linking up at the pleated poppy!

oh, and don’t forget to check out yesterday’s big entryway reveal! so exciting!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

entryway reveal + pics and details!

I’m so excited to share a little more of our house with you today!

We’ve covered the office and the main bathroom so far, and now we’re moving on to the main room in our home! We just finished remodeling it this spring, and I still have a few more details to decorate as I find good deals, but it’s so nice to have a completed living room! It’s been a challenge to remodel such an old home, but I love that it is one of the oldest homes in our city. {we have an awesome story behind it if you want to catch up!}

I’m starting in our entryway today to give you a little taste of the living room reveal that’s coming next week! I’m really excited about that one too! :)

Here’s our entryway in all it’s 116-year-old glory!

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These pictures were taken after the big remodel- repainting and floor refinishing- all of which was done by my sweet husband. I helped with the painting {the color is Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams- love it!}, but he did the most work by far on those floors. He’s amazing!

I love the transom window and the original oak floors. LOVE.them. I wasn’t sure what color I wanted the front door to be, but I really love the two-toned cream and white look! We open the transom window to let a breeze blow through when it’s cool outside.

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To the left of the door, my thrifted $7 Pier One director’s chair and eBay Target pillow. I used a coupon from Pier One to buy a brand new set of chair covers for a total of $2.50, and the pillow was $8 last year on eBay. If you’re looking for a particular Target item, you might just be able to find it cheaper on eBay! It’s always worth a try! Chair total- $17.50!

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and to the right of the door, Ms. Fanny Manny is ready and waiting to take your coat.

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Ok, it’s crazy, I’ve moved that dress form all over my house! The really funny thing is that it scares the mess out of both of us when we walk by! If you just see it in your peripheral vision it looks like a real person! And then it’s always in a new spot, so it really takes us by surprise every.single.time. :P

I bought Ms. Manny at HomeGoods last month and I can’t wait to announce here on the blog why I brought her home and when you can see her in person!
{I’m just full of teasers today, huh? ;)}

We didn’t refinish the door, and I’m pretty sure we won’t. I love how many times it’s been kicked, the sweet old white door knob, and the rich color the whole door has. There are so many cool things about living in a home that’s been lived in for over a century!

Moving along the entry wall- here’s my favorite spot in our house right now!

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I got the buffet for $90 at Goodwill. Seriously. Amazing. I feel like it was a gift from the Lord. I was looking and looking and never found a single buffet I liked for less than $250. I was so excited to get an antique for $90!

Candle sticks- thrifted, books- thrifted, pretty Jane Austen book collection from Barnes and Noble, $20. Globe, a $20 splurge from HomeGoods but I know I will use it for homeschooling too. ;) Frames- $1/ thrifted and $3/ Wal-Mart.

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Basket- $3/thrifted, book- $2/thrifted. Our Bibles stay in here too.

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Lamp, $5/thrifted, candlestick, $4 thrifted, vintage book page family name- from my micahsixeight shop. Wal-Mart scentsy {so nice to leave on!}- $15

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One more close up of the buffet! I use the drawers and cabinets for craft and toy storage. Legos always go back in here for the sake of my sanity! :)

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And that completes the entryway tour! I hope you enjoyed it! :)

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next week: the full living room reveal with before and after pics!!

coming up tomorrow: {what i wore this week}

Roomspiration

Monday, September 12, 2011

this week’s 10 goals and menu plans

Happy Monday to you! I hope your weekend was lovely!

Mine included a birthday celebration, lots of dinners out with the family {one was Outback!!}, thrifting, grocery shopping, an awesome church service, Bible study, watching Survivorman {that’s ol’ Les Stroud over there in a pic from his website- he’s awesome btw!} with the hubs, one gigantic piece of birthday cake, a few crazy balancing yoga moves and even a plank-holding competition in my brother’s living room {I blame the sugar rush from that cake!}.

I definitely had more than my fair share of that ridiculously yummy buttercream icing, so I’m thinking I’d better make up for it over the next few meals this week! :)

menu plans this week:
monday: spaghetti + turkey meat sauce, salad, bread

tuesday: chicken fajitas, fat-free refried beans, steamed rice

wednesday: pork chops {from the freezer}, green beans, and mashed potatoes

thursday: crockpot bbq chicken, rice, salad, corn bread {I’m usually toast by dinner time- this is an early workout day and my errand day, so the crockpot is the only way we won’t go out for dinner!}

friday: homemade sundried tomato, chicken and feta pizza {recipe coming this weekend!} + caramel popcorn {family night!}

saturday: dinner out

breakfasts: cereal, eggs, toast + jelly,  biscuits, banana bread

lunches: turkey sandwiches + chips, salads, mini pizzas

and here are my top 10 goals for this week:
1. walk to the library and do a science research project with the kids

2. finish decorating fireplace with pictures

3. learn new choreography tracks for my fitness classes-not hard, but time-consuming

4. take pictures of eBay items to be listed

5. help hubs with painting master bedroom

6. go grocery shopping only two times this week- I’m trying to focus on being more efficient at planning what we will be out of and when- I always end up forgetting one or two things and having to go to either Wal-Mart or Sam’s like four times a week. Not fun. Or cheap.

7. continue with the morning efficiency project- this has helped me sooooo much! Coffee ready and waiting is a very good thing!

8. sand one project that’s waiting for me outside

9. shoot engagement pictures for a friend

10. have friends over for dinner {it’s been forever since we’ve gotten to do this! so exciting!}

linking up at Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, September 09, 2011

new {fof} series: finding your exercising “sweet spot”

What do you say we talk a little {fitness on friday}? :)

I had a great question asked on our Facebook page the other day {oh, did I tell you? There’s a super fun little BH community over there! You can click “like” at the top to keep posted on the the newest updates, shared links, recipes, reader stories, and more! Hop over there and check it out- the party’s on all week long! ;)}

The question was, “How do you find time to workout, I love to exercise but am having trouble fitting it in. Do you exercise in a.m. or during day? Also, what do you do for your exercise routine...gym, weights or at home? Any ideas to help me squeeze in exercising would be great! Thank you!!!”

I answered with the shorter version there, but I wanted to share more details here on your options for getting in a great workout with limited time and resources.

You basically have three options for working as far as I can see: you can workout at home, outside, or at the gym.

Starting this week, I’m beginning a series of posts that will continue over the next few weeks on how to get a great workout anywhere- with each post highlighting options for exercising at home, the great outdoors, and the gym!

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My hope with this series is to offer you lots of ideas and ways to exercise so that you can find your exercising “sweet spot”- a way of working out that is best for you- your personality, your lifestyle, your family, your time schedule, and your budget.

You see, the coolest thing happens when you finally find your very own sweet spot- exercising naturally starts to become part of your daily life!! And that sounds pretty exciting, right?

So let’s get started! Today I want to talk about your first sweet spot option: exercising at home.

Exercising at home is the easiest, most frugal option for exercising. You don’t have to pay for a membership to get a great workout.  All you need is a little self-discipline to get a great workout under your own roof! And it can be totally free- equipment is optional, as are special workout clothes, and it costs nothing to travel to your living room!

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You can exercise in the comfort of your home, wearing no makeup, a t-shirt, and old yoga pants and using only body weight or items found around your house to use for resistance purposes. You could create a routine of push-ups, full sit-ups, burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, crunches, planks, and simple stretching moves. You can actually get a fantastic workout just using your own body weight! Create a workout based on your fitness level by writing down your favorite exercises and doing multiple sets in quick succession, for a minimum of 20-30 minutes of exercising.

And, if you do have a little extra cash to invest in working out at home, you could buy weights- dumbbells or barbells to do strength training sets, or resistance bands {which require less storage space} that would allow you to work with a lighter resistance.

Little side note: here’s one of my favorite moves of all time- take a resistance band under both of your feet, hold the handles up by the sides of your hips and take little steps right and then left. I like to use that move in my Core and More class- it works those hips and abs like nothing else!

If you’re interested in doing cardio at home and can afford the financial cost and storage space, you could buy a larger piece of equipment like a treadmill or elliptical. They will both give you an awesome cardiovascular workout for one big investment up front. If you decide to go this route, please, please, buy your machine used at a garage sale or on Craigslist. There are tons of almost-new ones out there for a fraction of the original price because people buy them at the store and never use them more than three times! {which will be different than you, right? ;)}. Garage sales and Craigslist are both great places to find all kinds of great exercise equipment.
 
No matter where you buy, it would help to really examine your personality to see if you really would use that fancy Stairmaster before you actually make the purchase.  Otherwise it might turn into pretty expensive clothing rack sitting in your garage!

So whether you design your own program or use small or large equipment at home, all you need is a little motivation to get started!

Of course, that’s the one downside to working out at home, and exercising in general. We all know that getting motivated to move is one of the biggest obstacles in exercising- no matter which option you might choose- home, the great outdoors, or the gym.

Well, guess what! I’m going to tell you the greatest secret of how to fight that lack of motivation!

And I’m going to give you more ways to exercise at home using technology…

in next week’s {fitness on friday}!

{now that was just mean, wasn’t it? heehee}

coming next Friday: finding your motivation+more at-home exercising options!

So, do you like to work out at home? What’s your favorite method? I’d love to know! Anyone have creative ideas for home exercise? Leave a comment or join in on the conversation on our Facebook page!

linking up at

five days five ways | fit and fabulous

Thursday, September 08, 2011

how to raise a baby without breaking the bank

I’m so excited to be blog-swapping with Kelli from More Bang for Your  Bucks today! She’s has a wonderful site that focuses on frugal living, family, food, and more! Be sure and stop in for a visit if you can, I know you’ll love it! You can also check out my tips for becoming debt-free over there!

Hi y'all! I am so thrilled to be posting for Mandy today. I instantly loved her blog from the minute I began reading a few months ago. If you're new, take some time and stick around for a few minutes. I think you'll love what you find!

I blog over at More Bang for your Bucks. There, I explore different ways to save money, as well as a hodgepodge of other topics- such as family, Scripture, and food. :) I wasn't lying when I said hodgepodge!

One of my favorite ways to save money is by using dollar stores. Originally, that is what my blog's primary focus was, but I have since branched out. Still, I love getting a good deal and I have found many of them at Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar, as well as the "Dollar Spots" in stores such as Target. Today, I am going to share with you a few ways to raise children more inexpensively using these great stores!

  • What is the first thing most women want to buy when they *suspect* that they maybe, might, possibly be pregnant? A pregnancy test! And you can spend a fortune on them, or you can march right down {or drag yourself, if you really are pregnant!} to Dollar Tree and buy one for a buck. And they work! As I mentioned here, they either accurately diagnosed or confirmed all three of my pregnancies. :)

So now that you know you're pregnant, there are LOTS of other expenses that can quickly add up. {especially when you're a cash-paying maternity patient like moi!} So how else can you save money?

  • First of all, if at all possible, breastfeed your baby! I know this is a sensitive subject- I have really good friends who really wanted to but just couldn't- but it is so good for baby, for you, and it is free! With our first two, we supplemented a tiny bit with formula, but our third hasn't had formula since she was about a month old {mostly because she won't take a bottle!} and there is no telling how much money that has saved us. If you are not able to actually nurse, I suggest buying a high-quality breast pump. Even if you spend $200 on the pump, this will not compare to the money you'd spend on formula! {Also, ask around about borrowing one. I was able to do this, only buying a few replacement parts.} Again, I know that nursing isn't possible for everyone. It took me 5 weeks to get my firstborn to nurse- because he was sent to the NICU at one day old- and I was thisclose to giving up. But I can honestly say I am glad I stuck with it.
  • Secondly, shop around for the best deal on diapers. I know, I know cloth are cheapest and I kinda wish I had started from the get go. But as I mentioned, our first was in the NICU at birth, and in the hospital off and on for the first 5 months of his life, and cloth diapers were the furthest thing from my mind! Plus, we had a huge, huge stash of disposables from our showers. I wrote a whole post here about shopping around for the best price. Spending a few extra minutes each time can really save you money! I like the AmazonMom option- you get free shipping and there are usually coupons to use as well.
    • {Another suggestion- if you are having more than one baby shower, you can kindly request that one be a diapers/wipes shower. My youngest is almost 10 months old and I have bought 2 packages of diapers so far! We went 6-7 months with the other two without buying a single diaper. Although the 5,000 newborn-sized outfits you'll get at a traditional shower are cute, you probably don't need that many. But you will need 5,000 diapers! :)}
  • Lastly, you probably want your little one to look cute, but have you seen the prices of some baby outfits out there? I am all for dropping a little extra cash for a special event {coming-home outfit, Easter, Christmas, etc.} but for the most part, I only buy super-cheap clothing for my little ones. They simply outgrow it too fast to spend a fortune! But that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style. :)
    • The best places I've found to buy baby/children's outfits: clearance racks at Children's Place, Carter's, sometimes Target although their clearance is sometimes still too high for me, and garage sales. Goodwill and consignment shops, while great for adult clothing, seem a little over-priced to me for children's clothes. You can read more here on this topic.

I got this adorable outfit at Dollar General for $3.50!

This outfit:: Shirt- Children's Place last summer (I was pregnant with her!) $1;

shorts, hand-me-downs from her sister: $2 from Wal-Mart in 2007. :)

Bathing suit: also a hand-me-down from her sister, $1 from Dollar Tree in 2007.

  • And now for my final suggestion- I looked through hundreds and hundreds of pictures from this summer for more examples of great clothing buys, but honestly about 90% of our clothes are hand-me-downs from generous cousins and friends. If you know someone who had a child the same gender as yours and they are done having children, it doesn't hurt to ask if they'd be willing to sell you a large bag to you for a few bucks. They'd probably be happy to see them being used again!`

I have really enjoyed sharing with you today. I love helping others learn to save money! You don't have to follow all of my own personal "rules" for cheap baby raising, but the point is to get you thinking about how to save money for important things, like college! {oh, my!}

Oh, and don't forget to stop by my blog today to read Mandy's post about becoming debt-free!

Thanks, Kelli! I love those tips- I can’t believe I’ve never thought of the dollar store as a clothing option! I can’t wait to see what I find there! Thanks again! Don’t forget to check out Kelli’s big giveaway while you’re there! You won’t want to miss it!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

our journey to becoming debt-free {part two}

if you’re just joining in on the story, you can read part one here

After almost five years of being in debt, we were excited to get started on Dave Ramsey’s list of baby steps to becoming debt-free.

The first baby step was to build an emergency fund. We had a fairly good income, so this was just a matter of more carefully watching our money. It took us a while to build it up, but it was very exciting to see money actually accumulate in our account!

We slowly started on step two- the debt snowball, which is basically using all of your free money each month to put toward paying off your lowest balance. We stopped contributing to our 401k and used that money for our snowball. We started praying in earnest that God might be merciful, even though we had been in the wrong, and provide us with ways to make additional income to put on our snowball.

Amazingly, God provided in miraculous ways. We started with $40k in debt {between a school loan, a car, and credit cards}, and 19.5 months later, on a middle class income, we had zero debt other than our mortgage. We sold our nice car at a huge loss and paid for a used nine-year-old van with cash, and God provided as many side jobs as my husband could do in his free hours.

During that time, we also had our third baby, and by another miracle of God, three days before she was born, we were given employee health insurance that saved us thousands of dollars.

It was not an easy 19 months- we worked hard and lived on a tight budget. I carefully watched every dollar that came in and went out. I went to my first garage sale, bought and sold things on eBay, and used Craigslist to buy almost everything we needed. We ate at restaurants a lot less, though we still allowed ourselves to eat out on occasion since it's one thing we loved to do as a family. I played the drugstore game at CVS, saving a ton of money each month on toiletries. Oh, all that and I practically never saw my husband during that year and a half; I listened to Dave Ramsey's podcast and blogged at night when he was away working!

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Within a few months, we started to see our balances drop rapidly with addition of the side income and the money from our car payment. We paid off balance after balance, and with great joy called each credit card company and cancelled our account. The reps were a little more than confused when we started to tell them about Dave over the phone!

I’d have to say the sweetest moment in the whole process was writing the check to pay off our last consumer debt- a school loan. It was an amazing feeling, like a huge weight was lifted off of our shoulders. It was freedom, and there's just no feeling in the world like it!

Right now, there is still one last check we have left to write- the one to pay off our home. And that will be even more exciting!

Being debt-free has allowed us the freedom to buy our foreclosed home, allowed us to take sweet vacations, and even take a pay cut last year without worry of the future.

I definitely wish we hadn't made the mistakes that we did- we'd be so far ahead of where we are now. But even with all of those hard years, I'm not sure I'd take it back, because through our experience I can say this with certainty: financial freedom is even sweeter when it's fought for.

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Are you working on the “baby steps,” or have you recently become debt-free? I’d love to hear your story! Please tell! :)

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