Monday, December 29, 2014

Let's talk raised garden beds

Seed catalogs have been trickling in the mail lately and I am slowly getting the gardening bug...just a little. You see, until a year ago, we have always rented since moving south and I just couldnt bring myself to spending money on raised garden beds for a rental house that I knew we might not be at for more than a year or two.  I bought all our veggies and have joined a CSA the past few years to get local organic veggies.

With starting a super budgeted year, growing our own veggies will be a great way to lower our monthly grocery bill AND eat healthy!

We did not learn of exactly where our septic lines and leach bed (or whatever those reserve areas are called) until after we bought our house.  Unfortunately, we cannot plant trees or any deep rooted plants in most of our 0.88 acre. ARGH!  I have decided to build raised beds and they will have to go over those reserve fields (again, whatever they are called).  I will make them at least 12 inches tall and will grow plants that do not have deep roots or root plants that we will eat in these beds.  Root plants, such as potatoes, turnips, etc, will be grown elsewhere, maybe in pots along the deck...who knows?

So, about these raised beds...

I have been thinking of how I can make them.  I thought about buying them from a local maker who makes them pretty cheap.  I also thought about using some old bookshelves we have. Like this! found at

But then I discovered that since they are particle board, they probably will not last an entire season.

I have been scouring craigslist and our local Buy Sell Trade Facebook groups for all doors and dressers to use. These are pretty cool!
 Recycled dresser into raised garden bed by imad karrariphoto found at: old garage door panels for inexpensive, quick, raised garden beds. I bet you could spruce it up a bit by painting the outside a nice found at:
 I *may* go with those, but I think I have an even better idea!
WINE BOTTLES!!! Here is a few pics of ideas...
The county won't pick up our recycled glass so it stacks up in the garage... BINGO! Wine bottle raised beds. XOXOphoto found at:

love the use of old wine bottles
photo found at:

So?  Whatcha think?  I have already messaged a local wine bar to see what they do with their bottles and there is a craigslist ad that advertises empty wine bottles for pick up. 

Decisions, decisions.  I am REALLY trying not to spend hardly any money on this project!  I also have to figure out what to fill them with!  That is investigation for another day though.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dave Ramsey's 7 Babysteps

Ever watch the movie 'What about Bob'?   I LOVE that movie!

Of course I do. I am a psych nurse and love that kind of humor.  However, the concept of babysteps is one that I absolutely love and even tell my patients about.  So when I learned about Dave Ramsey and his 7 babysteps to get out of debt and build our family's wealth, I was all in.

I decided to post these 7 babysteps so that maybe another can be influenced to reduce their debt and build their wealth too.  Plus, it helps me be reminded of what I need to do to stay on track!

So, here they are straight from his website!

Dave's 7 Baby Steps

1.     $1000 to start an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is for those unexpected events in life that you can’t plan for: the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, a faulty car transmission, and the list goes on and on. It’s not a matter of if these events will happen; it’s simply a matter of when they will happen.
This beginning emergency fund will keep life’s little Murphys from turning into new debt while you work off the old debt. If a real emergency happens, you can handle it with your emergency fund. No more borrowing. It’s time to break the cycle of debt!

2.   Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball

List your debts, excluding the house, in order, smallest to largest. The smallest balance should be your number one priority. Don’t worry about interest rates unless two debts have similar payoffs. If that’s the case, then list the higher interest rate debt first.
The point of the Debt Snowball is simply this: You need some quick wins in order to stay pumped up about getting out of debt! Paying off debt is not always about math. It’s about motivation. Personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. When you start knocking off the smaller debts, you will see results and you will stay motivated to dump your debt.

3.   3 to 6 months of expenses in savings

Once you complete the first two Baby Steps, you will have built serious momentum. But don’t start throwing all your “extra” money into investments quite yet. It’s time to build your full emergency fund. Ask yourself, “What would it take for me to live for three to six months if I lost my income?” Your answer to that question is how much you should save.
Use this money for emergencies only: incidents that would have a major impact on you and your family. Keep it in a money market account. Remember, this stash of money is not an investment; it is insurance you’re paying to yourself, a buffer between you and life.

4.   Invest 15% for retirement

When you reach this step, you’ll have no payments—except the house—and a fully funded emergency fund. Now it’s time to get serious about building wealth.
Dave suggests investing 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement plans. Don’t invest more than that because the extra money will help you complete the next two steps: college savings and paying off your home early.
Why shouldn’t you invest less than 15%? Some people choose to invest a small amount, if anything, because they want to get a child through school or pay off the home in a hurry. But the kids’ degrees won’t feed you at retirement, and if you throw all your money into your mortgage at this point, you’ll end up having to sell the house and buy the book 72 Ways to Prepare Alpo and Love It. Bad plan.

5.   College funding  (considering our kids are almost out of the house, we may skip this step!)

By this point, you should have already started Baby Step 4—investing 15% of your income—before saving for college. Whether you are saving for you or your child to go to college, you need to start now.
In order to have enough money saved for college, you need to have a goal. Determine how much per month you should be saving at 12% interest in order to have enough for college. If you save at 12% and inflation is at 4%, then you are moving ahead of inflation at a net of 8% per year!

6.   Pay off home early

Now it’s time to begin chunking all of your extra money toward the mortgage. You are getting closer to realizing the dream of a life with no house payments.
As you attack this last debt, you will gain momentum much like you did back in the second step of the debt snowball. Remember, having absolutely no payments is totally within your reach!

7.   Build wealth and GIVE!

It’s time to build wealth and give like never before. Leave an inheritance for future generations, and bless others now with your excess. It's really the only way to live!
Golda Meir says, “You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.” Vow to never hold your money so tightly that you never give any away. Hoarding money is not the way to wealth. Save for yourself, save for your family’s future, and be gracious enough to bless others. You can do all three at the same time.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Debt Reduction Begins Now!

I've been slightly obsessing about our debt lately and how I am tired of living paycheck to paycheck when there is no reason for it. I had heard about Dave Ramsey and decided to check him out. I lucked out and found a book of his at the thrift store and read it in a few days. I love his concept of baby steps! I signed up for a year use of his online budget tools and have begun to create a budget for us. It ain't easy that's for sure! I plan on snowballing us to living debt free!  It should be interesting to start up this homestead on a strict budget!

How am I going to lower our debt you ask?

Well, one way to limit our outgoing money is by lowering our food bill. I hope to get the garden beds made within the next few months to help defray the cost of our grocery bill. I also need to cook ahead since I noticed that we spend lots on takeout meals since we are either too busy or too lazy to cook some nights. Tonight, I am scouring the world wide web for some gluten free freezer meals. I want to try some once a month cooking so that we will stop the takeout.  I also need to create snacks. The boy likes his afterschool snacks!

Another way to keep money in the house is to lower our utility bills.  I had bought some low flow water faucet things and will be finally putting them on the faucets to try to lower our water bill. Our electric isn't too bad, but it can be better. I am going to brainstorm on ways to lower that bill too.

We don't have a landline but our cellphone bill is just too much. We will be telling our girls that they need to start paying for their phones. I mean, they are 22 & 20! It's about time they pay!

We got rid of cable years ago and use the internet. I am going to have the man look into how we can lower that bill.  We have netflix and already reduced it to just streaming.

The chicken feed is a big expense each month since I feed them organically. I need to get the fence up so they can walk around more and forage for bugs. I may turn my worm bin that isn't really being used into a meal worm bed to supplement their feed. I also saw a set up where they can scratch for grass but not dig it up because it is under a hardware cloth. I need to research that some more.

Lastly, for now, is to sell some items. We have too much stuff anyway and wont miss most of it if we sell it.

What do you do to lower debt?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hodgepodge? Yes, it is fitting.

I have been thinking a lot of this blog.  One concept I noticed is that each blog has some sort of overall theme. They may post on other topics occasionally but many times the other posts are linked to the overall theme.

So what is my overall theme?  That is what I have been thinking about.  Do I want it to be a foodie blog. Nah. I love food, but I am not really much of a cook. I am a wannabe cook though. I want to love to cook.

Do I want it to be one about debt?  Nope. Although that is a main theme in our life, that would be pretty boring for me to write totally on debt relief.

What about hunting or fishing?  Ok, that would be cool, but I do not know enough about these topics to devote a blog to these topics.

Hmm, gardening?  Beekeeping?  Organic living?  Mental health (I am a psych nurse, afterall)?  Chicken and ducks?  Family life?  All are interests of mine, but not really any that would keep me interested in blogging. 

So then I thought about the name of this blog. Hodgepodge. How fitting.  Yup, I am going to blog about a hodgepodge of topics.  I am interested in all of these and most I know little to nothing about them.  I think it will be fun. To share my learning as I learn and to share what I already know. 

Now, to design the blog.  This will be interesting. I am known as the virus in our family because of my lack of understanding of technology and the ability to take this lack of knowledge and unknowingly wreck havoc on the technology.  I have brought down our home network and have no idea how. I have broken printers without a clue.  I hope to take some time during this break between winter and spring semesters to learn blogging techniques.

How exciting!  I hope I can find time to blog during my busy last semester of grad school!