Tag Archives: money

Home Improvement Update

Well, we’ve been pretty busy around this place lately.  As I previously mentioned, we replaced three toilets a few weeks ago and my husband did a bunch of repair jobs around the house, which makes this wife very happy!  And we just had a valve replaced and other work done on our HVAC system to the tune of $809, so prayerfully, this will help make our electric bill more palatable.  January’s electric bill was $719, February was $597 and March was $556.  Triple ouch!!  That hurts just typing those numbers!  Hopefully those insanely high bills are behind us.  Our family has grown rather fond of eating afterall …

We recently had a contractor come out to give us a quote on replacing all of our windows (all 25!) and are waiting to hear what the final figures are.  (We’ve received several quotes and they want an arm and a leg!) At a minimum, we will have the kitchen window and frame replaced as the wooden frame has been rotting for some time.  He’s also going to give us a quote on power washing the siding and roof, which would be an awesome improvement.  So, we’ll see how reasonable he is.  This contractor was referred to us by a good friend of mine, who just had 17 windows replaced, and she was very pleased.

We’re focusing on spot cleaning the carpet throughout the house this week.  Fortunately, we have more wood floors than carpet, but the bedrooms are carpeted.  My daughter is actually pretty talented at getting stains out with baking soda and lemon juice, which is very helpful.

I declared 2014 a year of simplicity and have been purging like mad over the last few months.  My teenage son’s room was on my recent “hit list” and, boy, did I have my work cut out for me!  First, I got the back hoe … Okay, maybe not, but was tempted …  I completely filled a kitchen trash bag with garbage and two other kitchen trash bags with donation items for the Salvation Army.  Mind you, it hasn’t been that long since the last purge in his room!  I decided to remove an old bookshelf from his room and put it on Freecyle.  The shelf needs new support pins.  But, more importantly, my son needs fewer items in his room in order to maintain some sense of organization.  The shelf just winds up being a great landing spot for junk, so it’s for the best.  No worries, he has other furniture.  What a transformation!  There actually is carpet in his room!  So, purging is part of our overall home improvement plan as well.

How is it that we wind up with so much stuff?!?!  It honestly perplexes me.  I hold onto way too much little stuff.  Lately as I’ve considered parting with more, I’ve realized that it’s hard getting rid of things that were given to me.  I’m not even referring to family gifts or heirlooms or anything that special … just stuff.  Nonetheless, I’m getting better at releasing items to good homes and have been a weekly contributor to the Salvation Army for the last couple of months.

Here’s to more home improvements in 2014!  What’s on your list?

 

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Target Deal

Life is busy.  I don’t coupon.  Maybe I should, however I do a lot of my shopping at Aldi (a discount grocer), so I guess I’m not as motivated as some.  I feel like I’m already getting things at about half price.  But, when a deal smacks me in the face, I am wise enough to engage!  Such was the case the other day!

Okay, don’t laugh … but, sometimes I’m techno “challenged”!  I was doing a little grocery shopping at Target the other day when I saw these signs that said “Save $10 when you spend $50 on groceries”.  Well, I’m no rocket scientist, but I know a good deal when I see one.  Despite my “challenges”, I was going to make this work!  I grabbed my trusty iPhone and texted Target and entered the coupon code.  Voila!  Presto Change-o!  It actually worked!  I did it!  For you teeny-boppers, you’re probably ROFL, but I’m the mother of teeny-boppers, so this is a big deal!  I only used a coupon on my phone once before and that was at Michael’s.  Sadly, the yuppy cashier had to assist me in getting to the proper screen.  Hey, the important thing is, that I got the discount!  I digress …

The best part about getting groceries that day at Target was that most of what I purchased was on sale as well.  For instance, the Folgers coffee was $6.99 each, which is an awesome deal for a big container!  It’s double that price at the regular grocery store around here.  I bought two.  Should’ve bought more in hindsight.  Anyway, I got some lunch meat and some other necessary things.  The icing on the cake was the fact that I also had a $5 gift card from the last visit when I bought 3 sets of Suave Naturals mint shampoo and conditioner.  If you bought 3 sets, you got the $5 gift card.  They were $3.87 per set, which was pretty good.  Not great, but pretty good.  I just saw them at another store for $2.50 each, which is normally what they run for.  So, to get the gift card on top of that was pretty decent.

So, my grand total of savings on this Target shopping day was $15 plus the difference between the sale items vs. regular price.  (which I didn’t tally up)  Not bad for a non-coupon clipping lady!  (not to mention, a limited-techy lady)  I just love when I stumble upon an amazing deal!  Thank you, Lord!!

Have you found any great deals lately?

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Praise Report: Auto Style

Can I just tell you that I spend entirely too much time worrying about things?!  Just Wednesday I was provided with fresh worrying material when the Toyota mechanic at the dealership informed us that our 2002 Sequoia needed new front and rear brakes, rotors, wiper blades, terminal for the battery, and on and on their list went!  Yes, fresh fodder for this weary mind that has a lot going on at the moment!

Well, the total for the above repairs would have cost $1,400 as I mentioned in a previous post, which nearly gave me heart palpatations just thinking about it in light of other recent expenditures.  We’re a one income family on a fairly tight budget, so huge unforeseen expenses are unwelcome financial intruders!

Our good neighbor across the street happens to be a Toyota certified mechanic and we’re also good friends with them.  I tell you, the Lord planted them there to be a blessing to us and vice versa.  My daughter often pals around with the young mom and her toddler, who is cute as a button!  We called our good neighbor last night to see if he could install the parts if we picked them up.  He said that it was no problem to order the parts and he could do the work today!  Wow.  Not even 24 hours later, he had our SUV up and running!  He picked up the parts this morning and paid with his employee discount too!  The parts cost $440 and he wanted to charge only $110 for labor.  We couldn’t let him do that, so my husband will give him a check for $650.  I know he doesn’t want to accept it and just wanted to be a blessing, which he was!  But, we also believe in treating people fairly and showing our appreciation.  We’ll have to bake him a cake soon.  He loved the last chocolate cake my daughter made for them.

What a tremendous answer to prayer this is!!  A savings of nearly $1,000!  (If the parts only cost $440, that means the dealer’s mark up and labor was $1,000!  Insane!)

God truly is so faithful to provide for our every need.  Why do I spazz out and doubt then?  “Lord, help my unbelief!”  Ah, somehow I think trusting God is a lifelong lesson.  God always provides and it’s not as if I didn’t think he would in this instance.  I just didn’t know how!  The timing couldn’t have been worse, but that’s when a pause is in order and deep breaths.  How I thank God that His favor lasts a lifetime.  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!”  He is so good to us, full of mercy, compassion and love!

So, the lesson here is trusting God no matter what the circumstances or the timing are.  And, the bonus lesson is remembering how God provided this time when the next financial challenge comes along!  In the Old Testament, they built a monument in the desert when God performed a miracle.  Sometimes we need to also do that in our spiritual life today.  Write down the praise reports.  We’ve instituted a “Blessings Jar” where we write down all the great things God does for us throughout the year.  And at the end of the year, it’ll be great to reflect back on!  This testimony definitely qualifies a submission in the Blessings Jar!!

How has God provided miraculously for you lately?  Have you praised Him for it?  Built a monument?

 

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Frugal Challenges: Auto Style

Frugal living does not necessarily mean a life of total sacrifice.  It, conversely, has more to do with saving money where you can so you are free to spend money on the important, quality things of life.  So, that’s our mode of operation in general.  It’s all about intentional living … Redirecting our money away from useless, fleeting expenditures (like Starbucks coffees, pedicures, fine dining, etc.) and toward the things that strongly matter to us.  Choices.  All about choices.

Well, we were presented with an opportunity to choose to be creative with our finances today…

Yesterday we dropped our 2002 Toyota Sequoia off at the dealership to have the oil changed and fluids topped off.  And today they called us with the ugly news!  It seems our twelve year old SUV is in dire need of front and rear brakes, new rotors and a fresh air filter.  *Sigh*  The ugliness of it all is to the tune of $1,400!  Ouch!

It would seem our money tree out back is bare at the moment, so my husband has a better idea than to line the dealership’s pockets.  Our good neighbor is a Toyota mechanic so we’re going to see if he can help us out.  He also happens to be a Christian and we like their family a great deal, so prayerfully it works out.  He often does work on the side.  We figure between the cost of the parts and labor, we’ll likely save half.  That’s frugality put into practice.

We did, however, pay $88 to have the oil changed, etc. because my husband is sold on the idea of using synthetic oil and we always have.  So, that costs more and it likely needed quite a bit.  That said, we’ve owned this SUV for about seven years now and it has never given us a bit of trouble.  We always maintain it and since it’s my baby, it is driven for leisure only, not to commute to work.  It has about 181,000 miles on it and has traveled extensively along the eastern seaboard.  I always say that it will last however long we need it to!  🙂

Lately, it seems every time we turn around, there’s an unexpected expense!  We’ve had three:

  • Garage door spring repair – $450
  • 3 New Toilets – $600
  • HVAC repair – $809

Not to mention, the last three months of electric bills were: $718, $597 and $565!  And, now this … Ugh.  It’s a good thing we have no car payments!  I’m so thankful that old man winter has had his run for this year and we are slowly marching into spring weather!  (which means lower electric bills!!  Praise the Lord!)  Also, our electric bill will be lower anyway due to recent repairs and freon being added, thankfully!

Today I went to the discount grocery store we usually do a fair amount of our shopping in and reflected on the $86 well spent!  I stocked up on a ton of fruits, vegetables, and a lot of things.  At the regular grocery store, it would’ve been more than double that price!  So, we save where we can, like I said.

Oh, and I was so excited to use my $5 off coupon at Target this evening (if you spent $35 or more)!  Not bad considering I’m not much of a couponer.

And my 16 year old daughter has announced that she’s in need of a new summer wardrobe.  To the thrift store we go…

Also in the mix is our desire to do a few household projects, but we’ll see about those.

I cannot complain really.  We are so very blessed.  God is always so faithful to us and has never failed to provide for our every need!  We are firm believers in tithing and offerings.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t outgive God!  He owns everything, afterall.  It’s all His.  He gives us the ability to work and earn a living, and blesses us on top of that!  What a kind and loving God we serve.  May we be wise and faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted us with!

When unexpected expenses arise it reminds us once again of the importance of an emergency fund and savings.  Like I’ve told my daughter, you will never be sorry for saving too much money!

So, here’s to increased savings!

 

 

 

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Consumerism

Americans are great consumers, aren’t we?  We will buy just about anything.  Rocks.  Others’ trash we believe to be treasure.  A shirt with some man’s name on it so we can be advertising pawns.  A bag with a strange logo emblazoned on it.  A motor vehicle because some commercial said we’d be cool or sexy if we drive it.  A McMansion because society says you have arrived if you live here.

Have you ever stopped and questioned yourself why you are purchasing something?  Far too often, I think it has to do with the pervasive subliminal messages.  I don’t think we were born with the need to impress or be cool.  I think we were born with the desire to be loved, fed and clothed.  Pretty basic needs if you ask me.  How did we stray so far from basic necessity then?

I’m not saying it’s a negative thing at all to own expensive things.  They’re all wonderful if one can afford them.  It becomes an issue when our identity is enshrined in things.  We all want to put our best foot forward (or at least most), but what about when you overextend your foot?  You dislocate your finances.  Not good.

Because our society is more connected than at any other time in history, we are bombarded with advertising as well.  I am a stubborn individual.  I turn down the radio on commercials.  I mute the t.v. on commercials (if I watch t.v. at all).  I close out the ad box on YouTube.  And why do stores think we need to be entertained in the check out aisle with a series of advertisements?  I resent the “in your face” brainwashing.  I really am not impressed with what some advertising guru tells me is the latest and greatest thing that I must spend our hard earned money on.  Not in the least.

Question:  Would you still buy that expensive suit, handbag, watch, car, etc. if you were invisible?  Obviously no man is an island to himself, but it poses food for thought.  Who does it matter most to?  Impressing the other guy/gal or something you truly enjoy to the extent of the price tag?

Perhaps I do not possess the need to be associated with some high fashion brand or exclusive logo because my identity was established more than 2,000 years ago.  You see, my identity is in Jesus Christ.  I do not turn to the things of this world to fill an inner craving of acceptance because Jesus paid the price on Calvary when He purchased my salvation and wholeness.

One day the things of this world will be no more.  Rather than focus on the trappings of this world, I set my hope and faith on things that will outlast this temporary existence.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” ~  Matthew 6:19-21

If I strive to be accepted by society via Coach, Rolex, Mercedes, a McMansion, etc., what does that say about me?  If they let me in their “club”, would that bring happiness?  We are pilgrims, my friend … just passing through.  This world is not our final destination.  Do not set your affections on the things you see here.  We have an eternal home that will far surpass anything we’ve yet seen!

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” ~ Romans 12:2

To be sure, quality items are pleasurable and acceptable.  They just don’t captivate my heart.  My heart is set on things above.  And my focus is on bringing as many to heaven with me as possible.  You see when we’re caught up in replicating the culture of this world and fulfilling some need for social acceptance, our focus is often distracted from winning the lost.  It’s not about us anyway.  It’s all about Jesus, the One who took our place on Golgotha’s Hill, so that we may live eternally with Him!  That’s where my hope lies!  What say you?

 

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Thrift Store Haul

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Today’s thrift store adventure was successful!  This is what I found:

  • Four pairs of men’s shorts for my ever growing son – $3 each
  • One pair of shorts for hubby – $3
  • Casual men’s shirt for my son – $3
  • Two pairs of capris for myself – $3 each
  • 18 Joy Mangano non-slip “Huggable Hangers”- $3.50
  • a pen radio – $3.60
  • a set of VHS tapes – “History of the Gun” (A&E Special)  – $2.10
  • Hardback Book – $2

We mainly went to look for summer clothes for my son, but also to use the 30% off coupon I had.  🙂   All of the shorts were name brand, such as:  American Eagle, Polo, Aeropostle, Arizona, etc.

I absolutely love the huggable hangers (as seen on HSN)!  They are tremendous space savers, in addition to ensuring clothing doesn’t land on the floor.  I’ve bought several sets over the years, so I was thrilled to find the “like new” set of 18 today!  If they were grungy, I wouldn’t have been tempted, but they are in mint condition.

Guess whose idea the pen radio was?  Yes, my 14 yr. old son!  It was brand new in the package and even included batteries and headphones.  He was too thrilled!  What is it about teen age boys and gadgets?  😉

All in all, a good treasure hunt!  That’s the interesting thing about the thrift store.  You never know what you may find.  I’ve shopped at this particular one for a long time and have gotten some amazing deals.

We also dropped off two large bags of donations as well as the bags from my Dad’s recent purging.  So, our trip was dual purpose.  Ironically, we donated two sets of VHS tape series … and we brought home another!  I guess you can’t go too wrong for a couple dollars.  Haha.

Thrift store prices vary from area to area.  As I’ve previously mentioned, we live in a high cost of living area, so these prices are pretty good.  I’ve been to some thrift stores that have a $.99 bin for clothing, which is usually the last step before the trash; but $.99 cent clothing is not to be had around here.  You might be able to find a t-shirt for that price, but that’s about it.  Considering a pair of shorts at Target or a department store runs about $20-$25 a pair, I’m pretty satisfied with paying $3 a pair!

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A New Favorite $ Saving Site

So, my 14 year old son is growing out of just about everything he owns!  Fortunately, we shop at a great thrift store and can stock up on clothes for him there.  He recently grew out of his tennis shoes also.  I decided to check:

http://www.6pm.com/

My son and I perused the website and found a pair of size 12 Reebok running shoes that he likes for $36.99!  That is an awesome price for running shoes, I thought.  He’s hitting that stage of growth spurts I remember my older son going through a decade ago.  He’ll be 15 in a few months and is closing in on 6′ fast!  I always knew he would be tall.  At 9lbs. 10oz. and 22 1/2 inches, he had no where to go but up, up, up!  🙂

6pm.com not only sells shoes, but clothing and accessories.  I’m most impressed with their shoe prices.  I detest paying full price for anything, especially for items my son will quickly outgrow!  It seems that clothes and shoes are merely disposable items these days, so why pay more when it’s unnecessary?

My lovely sister-in-love told me about that website a while back and I’m so glad she did!  She’s a savvy bargain hunter herself!

So, I just thought I’d toss it out to you all.

Here’s to saving a few $$ today!

Do you have a favorite $ saving website?  Care to share?  Of course, there’s ebay, Amazon, half…  What else?

 

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