Friday, October 28, 2016

Getting Out of Debt Step 1

I am sure you have heard of Dave Ramsey. If you haven't, it is time to look him up. Being a homeschool mom is hard. Living off of one income is hard. Working from home part time to make sure that I can help supplement my husband's income is hard. Not being able to make any headway on our debt and living paycheck to paycheck is hard. So we decided to make a change.

A couple of years ago we started reading Dave Ramsey's books. We did our budget and stuck to it pretty well. Seems like every time we would get ahead, something would come up and we would get behind again. It has been like playing catch up for the past 2 years. I finally decided that I was just sick of it. I get that stressed out feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I sit down to do the bills. We cut out our cable a few years ago, and really the only thing left to cut is our car payments. We had 2 payments totaling almost $650 a month. That is a lot of money to pay for two cars! Something had to change.

I thought long and hard about what to do. I decided the best bet was to sell my mini van. My husband was up for selling his car, but we bought his more recently than mine and were upside down in it, so mine had to go. We finally had gotten to the point where we could sell the car outright, but if we went to a dealer they would give us $2000 less than payoff. So the decision was made and we listed it for sale. Luckily it sold within a week! Bad news was that DMV is ridiculous here. I called to ask how to do it with registration and such because I need to get the title from the lien holder. The first person I spoke with told me "you cannot sell your car to a private party because it has a lien." I told her that is ridiculous and I wanted to speak to somebody else. So I did and they told me that I have to get the title before I can sell it. Well I can't get the title until I pay it off and I can't pay it off until I get the money from the buyer! Talk about a Catch 22!

We found a way around it. I am still not sure if it is how we are supposed to do it, but we met at his bank, he transferred the money to my account, I paid the total over the phone and got an email confirmation that I sent to the buyer, then we did a bill of sale at the bank and got it notarized. The buyer still has my license plates until I get the title which can be up to 3 weeks! Ridiculous! And the car is insured on both of our insurances.

So then came the hunt for a car. With my husband's long hours and later nights, it is really tough considering going with one car for long. So we spent all day Monday selling the car, all day Tuesday finding a new car and co-op, and PE, and Wednesday we had a field trip and then had to go buy a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee that we found.

Here is where more adventures started! I paid the guy for the Jeep, went straight to DMV to get plates because my buyer still has mine, then I drove it home. I got home, pulled in the driveway and saw smoke. I thought it was my rear brake was ON FIRE! I freaked out, ran to the house to find the door locked. I was banging on the door because my mother in law and the kids were there, but they were out back. I ran back to the car to get my keys, got inside, got water, went back outside and the fire was out. I threw water on it anyway because it was still smoking. My bright 7 year old asked me why I didn't just use the hose that is out front....good question!

So I took it to Firestone because they are the closest to me. They called me Thursday morning to give me a quote. I had them check the entire Jeep out and the only thing wrong was the back brakes. The entire rear brake system needed replaced. Firestone also said my front rotors and brakes should be done and quoted me almost $1300!  We bought the Jeep for $2350 so I was a little uncomfortable paying that much for brakes.  So we called my husbands friend from a long time ago who owns a shop and took it there instead. We got the rear brakes done and it didn't need the front done at all for $450. I think that is a lot more reasonable! Grammie has been a great sport driving us around all week, and then her drivers side window broke and won't roll up! So we drove around with plastic on the window for 2 days. She is getting it fixed tomorrow and I finally got the Jeep back today! I love it and am so glad we made the decision to get rid of the mini van and get an older vehicle. And the relief that comes with not having a $353 payment a month is enough to make me never want to buy a car with a payment again!

Are you trying to get debt free?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

My Charlotte Mason Adventure Part 1

I have been homeschooling for 2 years, this is my 3rd. I am not sure I can really count Kindergarten because we mostly built relationships and got a feel for the homeschooling community around here. So this could be considered my 2nd year homeschooling and I have a 2nd grader and a Pre-K 4 year old.

We have been doing Math U See and The Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading. We filled in where we could with other random subjects but it wasn't something I had plans or a curriculum for. I decided that my son was bored with Math U See. Working from home part time as a virtual assistant, taking care of the home, the kids activities, and painting doesn't leave me much time to create daily activities to help make math more fun. I decided to switch my curriculum. I went up to our local Homeschool store here, Moore's Expressions, and the lovely ladies up there showed me some options and we narrowed it down to Singapore. He took the placement test and there was a lot on it that we hadn't covered and he figured it out just with the different format. So I decided this was a winner. I haven't received it yet, but it is on its way here!

So this got me I really making our homeschool all I can? I came up with a resounding NO. I am that person that plans for the worst. In this case, the worst would be the boys having to go to public school because of some unforeseen circumstance and needing to be able to fit in and understand what is going on.

I had an Ah Ha moment and realized I was holding us back from doing what we really could be doing. We are doing a fantastic nature study based on the Charlotte Mason way called Exploring Nature With Children . I really like it because it gives you an outline of topics by season and the option to expand on them if you want to. We have started nature journaling and I realized that this was the only day out of the week that went really well. We did it together, enjoyed each other's company (mostly), and had time to explore what we wanted without any outside stressers such as what chores we had to do, what was for dinner, etc. I know my problems don't melt away with a nature study, but just getting out and enjoying our time together changed the whole dynamic of our day.

I have a friend who follows Charlotte Mason and I talked to her about this. She recommended I check out Ambleside Online's free Charlotte Mason curriculum. I did and I am in love. I purchased A Charlotte Mason Education (affiliate link) and More Charlotte Mason Education (affiliate link) and I am still reading through them, but they are a great guide on how to get started with Charlotte Mason. If you love books, love nature, and trust that your kids don't need to read Twaddle to understand, this is for you

As I am just getting started, I have downloaded all of my books, reserved them at the library if I couldn't find a free copy, and created my schedule for this coming week. I am very excited and can't wait to try it all out! Do you use Charlotte Mason's ideas? What do you think?

There are affiliate links in this post for your convenience.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Planning My Time

I have been feeling very out of sorts lately. Lately, as in ever since we started our school year back up and all of our activities. This year my oldest is in 2nd grade and my youngest is pre-k. It is the first year with both of them being involved and I was determined to be prepared. Well that didn't work out of course because I planned out 3 weeks in advance and I have all but threw it all out the window.

I find myself sitting back and thinking "this is not what I want our homeschool to be" a lot. I know I am the only one who can change it, but I have been feeling so overwhelmed and lost lately that I can't even figure out who has clean socks, let alone how I can better our school. I kept wondering and wondering why I felt like I did. Imagine taking neatly filed papers and literally throwing them all into the air. That moment when you look up and see everything flying every which way and you don't know how you will get it all back together. That is the feeling I have had every day.

So because of this feeling I have not wanted to leave the house, but have had to of course. I have had zero motivation to do anything because really, where do you start?

Then I had a playdate with a friend. I think it was more a playdate for us than for the kids because we both didn't stop talking the entire time about the things that were bugging us and she knew exactly what was wrong with me. She asked me one question: How is your chore and laundry schedule going? I said: What schedule?? As soon as summer hit it went out the window.

So this was my AHA moment. I have never in my life had a plan on when to do chores or laundry. I have to say this is one thing hubby really dislikes because I am a clutterer. I am really trying to get out of the clutterness, but it is easier said than done for sure! Last year this same friend sat me down and helped me create a schedule. Not only for chores, but for laundry and every day things. I have never ever used a planner. I am getting much better because I have one that I use daily for work and it makes my life so much easier! And I am creating my new one for my school activities, chore schedule, and laundry.

I have been so overwhelmed just thinking about how much stuff I have to do, and worrying about when and if it will ever get done. A couple week ago I just had to have proof of progress because cleaning the house is like brushing my teeth with oreos and the success is immediately replaced with the feeling that I have to do it again then next day. So I painted the kitchen. This is a task that has needed to be done since we moved in 4 years ago! I had been waiting and waiting to find the perfect "light" color because everybody I talked to said I need a light color in the kitchen, especially since I have black cabinets. Well I never found the color. I went into my garage and perused my many many gallons of Oops paint and came across a tera cotta type color. My sister said it wouldn't look right, my friend wasn't a fan, but I said screw it and threw caution to the wind! When it was done, I looked around and was so happy I just made the decision and did it. I love the color, my sister loves the color, and so does my friend. And of course hubby likes it so that is a bonus!

How do you keep your stuff in order and not get overwhelmed? Does it seem like a never ending battle?