Friday, February 28, 2014

February Round Up!!! It's a good one!

     At the risk of every one of these month ending round up blogs sounding the same, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S ALREADY MARCH TOMORROW!!!  Seriously.  We have been at this for two whole months!  I am so excited to share with you about our month!!  Let's dive in and see how we progressed.
     If you recall last month (or maybe you don''s really not a big deal) we didn't meet our goal for the amount that we would like to pay each month toward our debt.  Life happened.  We dusted off our initial disappointment and moved on knowing that God is leading this and we are just following along.  During the month of January K was able to pick up a lot of overtime.  A LOT.  I averaged out his hours and he ended up working 80 hours/week last month.  That is TWO full time jobs.  That guy is insane.  I have never been more thankful for his job and the fact that he LOVES it.  Especially since he is spending so much time there this year!  haha!  Let me tell you, if we had tried to do this three years ago we would have failed...miserably I might add.  We wouldn't have known how to stay connected when he is basically at work for two thirds of the time and home for one third.  God's timing is always perfect.
     Anyway, because of the perfect storm of K working his tushie off coupled with a light bill month, meaning we have a few bills that come every other month or quarterly and this month was one of only two times this year that all of those bills weren't due, (Again, God's timing is perfect) we were able to pay off our American Express in FULL.  IN FREAKING FULL.  SO GOOD!!!  We also have what we call a "debt jar."  That is everything extra cash-wise that comes in goes into that jar.  For example, my work money, a reimbursement check from K's work for a class, any extra money left over from our cash budgets all get tossed into the jar.  We had two months worth of money in there because I forgot to deposit it last month (And maybe I was just holding onto it because I am lame) so yesterday I was able to take that money and make a payment for $211.77 to the principle on my car.  Woohoo!  Here's how the numbers look for us now after February:

  • New Debt Total: $15, 496.20!
  • Amount paid off since we started: $6, 910.90!!!!
  • Amount paid off since last month: $5, 819.01!!!!  
    I love seeing how God is providing work for K and all he has to do is say yes.  Working 80 hours/week is no joke, especially since most of that time he doesn't get much sleep working in one of the busier houses in the fire district.  I am so thankful for the convictions and passion that God has put into both of our hearts for this year and years to come.  We are learning so much.  We were talking the other night and started wondering what we would have done with extra money like we had this month if God hadn't called us to this this year.  We had no idea.  We would have saved some for sure, but who knows what else we would have spent that money on.  Nothing important enough for me to think of right now!  We definitely wouldn't have spent every last penny we could getting rid of our debt, I can tell you that.
     So that is where we stand this month.  It was a really good month!  Months like this will balance out the ones where we aren't able to pay off as much.  Please remind me of that when I am whining about one of those times.  :)  Thank you in advance!!

Have a great weekend friends!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Transforming to Humility

         Recently I had to come to a hard realization...I am prideful.  Not the kind of prideful that you are thinking about.  I don't walk around telling everyone how awesome and amazing I am (at least not all the time..haha!) and I don't think I am better than anyone else.  I know that I am saved by grace and grace alone...not by anything of my own doing.  This kind of pride is the sneaky kind.  
     I have had some amazing friends offer me yarn and paint among other things because they know what we're doing this year and that those things aren't in our budget.  What was weird for me was noticing right after they offered me these things I had a feeling that I didn't deserve it.  It didn't last very long and I was excited to receive these things, but I couldn't shake that initial feeling that came over me.  I prayed about it and came to the realization that I didn't feel like I deserved those things because we do have money.  K actually makes good money in his job...we are not struggling to put food on the table.  It just so happens that all of our extra money is going to pay off debt that we created.  My pridefulness was in my thinking that God didn't need to bless us with these things because we didn't deserve it.  We created this don't need to bless us...just let us dig ourselves out of it God.  We've got worries God.  You've got so many other things to deal with.  See??  SNEAKY!   The amazing thing is that God knows we created this mess...but he doesn't care.  
     God wants to bless us through this mess we created.  He doesn't want the enemy to try to take those acts of kindness from friends and discredit them by turning them into acts of pity.  God showed me that our friends aren't offering these things because they pity us...quite the opposite actually.  They are offering us these things because they are 100% behind what we are doing this year and that is how they are showing us their support or cheering us on.  Take that Satan!  It's been such a freeing thing to realize and takes me off the defensive if someone offers us something.  So good.  I love this journey.  Want to hear the verse that the Lord led me to?  It's pretty amazing...I will answer for you.  You want to hear it.  Proverbs 11:2 says "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."  MIND. BLOWN.  How true is that!?!?  How is it that I have read through Proverbs at least four times and never had this verse pretty much yell in my face from the page.  I love those moments when God uses his word to slap you upside the face with wisdom.  Thanks God!  
     Here is a picture of my "new" red door.  Isn't it FREAKING AWESOME!?  I am so glad I didn't let that sneaky pride take over or I would still have a plain boring door.  It's the little things, you know? :)  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Through Our Kid's Eyes-The Commission System and Some Other Stuff.

This post is a little different.  I just wanted to let you all in on how the commission system for chores was going and what our kid's think about what God has called us (Kris and I) to this year.  So here we go...

     We just completed our fourth week of commission chores.  For those that may not know, Dave Ramsey advocates commission style chores, where you have set chores that are worth so much money. The kids then get to choose whether or not they would like to earn money by doing those chores.  When we learned about this during our Financial Peace class I thought it sounded like a good idea, but also sounded like way too much effort.  "I would have to check their work!" I told myself. "This would just add so much to my already packed schedule!" I also said to myself.  Well let me tell you, it is a little bit of extra work on my part, BUT I can see in their little faces a sense of pride and accomplishment when they get to put their money into their spend, save and give jars right after they complete their chores.  This system blows our old system of three dollars per week for things that they really should just be doing because they are a Rafferty ie. making their beds, personal hygiene and keeping their room neat and clean.  And that was IF we remembered to give them their money on Sundays!  Poor kids!  What were we teaching them!??  I have no idea.  Let me go into a little more detail on our system that we set up.
     Kris and I talked first about what we felt we could afford to pay our kids.  We decided $10 per week was comfortable for us.  This is not $10 per week per kid mind you. Kids that are 6, 7 and 9 like ours, have no need to be earning $40 a month in my opinion.  Anyway, we chose six chores to assign commissions to, that way each kid could choose two per week.  Here are the chores and the dollar amounts we assigned to them:

  • Clean Bathroom- $3
  • Sweep the kitchen floor and wipe up spots-$2
  • Take out the Trash-$1
  • Vacuum the house-$2
  • Pick up Outside toys-$1
  • Clean out Mom's car (because it's all their stuff anyway, right!?)-$1
Are you ready to see a picture of my fancy chore chart?  Here it is!
I had some great ideas of how I could have made this look cute, but they all required money and you all know that I just can't do that this year so it will have to wait.  My point is, it's not fancy, but it gets the job done.  You also get to see who is doing our taxes this year! Thanks JR Martin and Associates!  There is their address at the top in case you were wondering.  haha!
     The first week took the longest because I had to walk each child through the chores they had chosen and show them what to do.  This last week though, week 4, was so awesome!  They all did what they needed to do and all I had to do was check their work and then give them their money.  It has totally helped me out by taking some of the chore burden off of me and they feel accomplished.  Just look at E's proud face when she finished the bathroom for her first time (keep in mind, she is the one that was ALWAYS fighting me about cleaning)

And here is my resourceful oldest daughter who said she was going to make wiping up spots "fun" and put rags on her feet like shoes.  Do whatever you need to do to get the job done C...I love it!

I have no picture of my little work horse of a son. That kid is his Dad's child!  He finishes his chores so fast I don't have time to get pictures...and he does a great job at them!  This commission system has really changed the way our family does chores and I love it.  They see a reward for their work instantly and I don't have to clean as much!  Win win!  I will say, I do keep my expectations relevant to their age.  I don't expect the bathroom to look exactly as it would if I had cleaned it, but it does need to be clean.  As they get older their definition of "clean" will become more strict.  For now they are doing amazing for their 6,7 and 9 year old selves. :)  Now how do they feel about their Mom and Dad not spending any money??  Let's talk about that next.
     This year has seen with it a lot of the word, "No."  It's really hard sometimes and really easy other times.  I would LOVE to be able to take them to lunch on a Saturday or run by Dutch for a treat now and then but it's not in the budget this year.  I can see the coming freedom that we will have, but that is not our reality at the moment.  We sat them down at the beginning of the year and explained to them what God had called us to for this year.  That it wasn't for them, but just for Mommy and Daddy.  It has been so awesome to share with them how God has blessed us and shown His favor and faithfulness to us since we said yes.  I believe that is what they are going to remember, even more so than what we might be teaching them about money through this.  We have started a journal dedicated to the amazing things that God has done so far, gift cards, encouraging notes and words from friends have started to fill it's pages.  It's such a GREAT reminder for us that God is in this with us and He will not forget about what He's called us to.  All in all, our kids have been so gracious with us this year.  They have their moments of frustration, but they are few and far between.  They don't think twice when we tell them, "if you have money for that then you can buy it."  They even know what sales tax is and that you have to "pay the man."  haha!  I watched my daughter ponder for ten minutes if she wanted to spend six of her hard earned dollars on some new bands for her Rainbow Loom.  I was so proud of her.  She ended up buying them, but not until she had weighed the value of them first.  I like to think that everything Kris and I have done has taught our kids what they have learned about money, but I know that's not true.  Without God bringing our finances to the forefront this year I know we would have passed on a very different financial legacy to them.  Praise God.  "O my strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God." Psalm 59:17.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January Round Up!!!

I CAN NOT BELIEVE IT'S ALREADY FEBRUARY!!!!!!!!!  So crazy, right!??!?  Ok. So we are one month down on our mission to get debt free in one year.  We feel like God has called us to not spend anything extra at all for the year and we have a goal to put anywhere from $1500-$1900 toward our debt every month.  Yes we realize that is a lot of money, but we serve a big God who is bigger than any amount.  I have to remind myself of that fact almost daily. So how did we do last month?  Let's take a look.....
     On January 3rd, our debt total was $22,407.10.  That included our three credit cards, two of which have our HVAC system spread out between them and the rest is my car loan.  When we got our AMEX bill there were two items that hadn't posted when I paid the bills last and I immediately got discouraged.  I felt like our total wasn't going to budge.  Well this is just a little lesson for you all in my math logic (or lack thereof).  I added up all of our new totals and as of right now our total is $21, 315.21!  Down by almost 1100 dollars!!!!!  Way more than I was expecting.  Numbers just don't compute in my head.
     Major success for the month-really not buying a single thing that wasn't a necessity!  I feel like I have more confidence going into the next month knowing that we were able to do this month with it's 31 days.  Take that January!!!  February and it's 28 days should be a breeze!!  I've also felt a lot of freedom in going out knowing that I can't spend money.  That is the complete opposite of what I thought would happen.  I thought that I would loathe going out and want every single thing I saw.  While I have had my moments, for the most part I feel like I have been released from the stress of wondering where in the budget I would pull the money I was spending from.  I love it.  Also, balancing our checkbook has been SO FREAKING EASY.  We've used our debit card all of twice last month??  So nuts.
     Major fail for the month was our food budget.  I way underestimated what we would need for food without having a restaurant budget.  We didn't go out a ton before, but we had about $150 for restaurants which has been cut to about $20.  I definitely didn't budget enough for a family of five to eat almost every single meal at home!  We went to In N Out once last month when K was working and it cost me $10.  We're just awesome like that (and I had one child who preferred soup at home instead so we were really only feeding three people :)).  We also had a few other expenses, both expected and not, that kept us from meeting our goal.  Oh well, that's life.  $800 in dental bills for the kids. Ouch.  That one hurt.  $285 to get our dogs fixed.  Better than a litter of puppies, right?  Praise God that we had the cash to cover all of those expenses!
     Well, that is how our January went.  We are praying for God to continue to lead us through this year and teach us what He wants us to learn.  Still learning to live in the now and just be still. Not my forte, but I'm getting better at it. ;)
     Thanks for reading!!