Browsing Tag

debt-free

Money

Don’t Get Fooled By A Phony Black Friday Deal

November 22, 2016

Black Friday in only a few short days away.

That might invoke love or hate in some households but in ours? We love it.

Growing up, Black Friday was an extension of an already awesome day – Thanksgiving. I remember having a second serving a pie while scanning the toy ads with my trusty permanent black marker. Of course I circled about $100,000 worth of toys knowing full well I’d only get 1-2 items but it was a lot of fun to dream. We’d hit our pillows that night knowing that in a few short hours we would hear mom and dad getting up to go sniff out and snag the best deals to be found.

When we got older, we actually got to join them in going out, hunting down the bargains, and meeting people in line at all hours of the night. It was super fun (and no I never saw anyone get run over or punched or anything you see on YouTube…because Nebraska). Jonathan and I have continued the tradition into our marriage and absolutely love being part of the action.

Ahhh. Black Friday. 🙂

Y’all know we are Dave Ramsey peeps. We are deal hounds who have a knack for sniffing out and snatching the best of the best prices available.

But aren’t all prices and items on Black Friday the best of the best?

No, my friend, they are not. And that is what I want to walk you through in this blog post. If you plan to shop this Black Friday, I want you to know you’re getting the best deal you possibly can.

Craigslist/Ebay

Wait, what? Why would I look for a used item on Black Friday when all these brand new items are deeply discounted?

Jonathan and I have found stellar deals on used items the day of Black Friday or the weekend following because so many people ran out and bought new items and now need to sell their used ones to make room. And when they already have the new item, they are much more willing to take lower offers just to get the old one out the door.

The year Josie was born, I was stocking my cloth diapers and I knew that Rumparooz Black Friday sale was 25% off brand new inventory. So I went on Craigslist and a Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade group and used that sale as leverage in my offer to buy barely used diapers for 50% off…when typically they would have sold for about 25% off.

And that’s how we do.

Do Your Homework

Is that 85 inch TV on sale for $139 actually worth it? This is where you have to put your detective hat on and do some sleuthing.

Black Friday is all about padding the bottom line for these stores. Some of their “deals” are actually duds, as you could walk in the store anytime of the year and buy the item at that price. (Totally happened to me once when I was a teenager…went back to The Nebraska Furniture Mart months later and my $19 DVD player was still $19. All that after I had stood in the cold for 3 hours to buy it.)

Market Watch LLC claims that 42% of the prices they are seeing on 2016 ads are the same as last year! So look at past Black Friday ads for insight. If it’s an Amazon item – check CamelCamelCamel to watch price comparisons.

Pay Attention to Quality

Sometimes stores will not specify the brand of the item being discounted – which matters in certain areas like a refrigerator or a computer and not so much on pajamas. While in your mind you know that a Black Friday LG washer and dryer set sell for $900 for a set, buying random-no-one-has-ever-heard-of-it brand set for $500 might seem like deep savings but if it’s nothing but junk that will break within a year, you should’ve just spend a little more for higher quality.

Read item reviews. Take the actual model number and input into Google and read all the reviews associated with the item. Or check out The SweetHome to read tested reviews on common household items. Sometimes stores use low end models (or even known brand models that didn’t sell well) to draw people in during Black Friday just to get rid of last year’s inventory. Be careful to make sure you aren’t buying a pig with lipstick.

Use Technology

Times are a changing and our smart-phone world has even crept its way into Black Friday. There are many apps you can use to ensure you’re getting a great deal even while out and about shopping.

Or hey, if crowds aren’t your thing, go ahead and Black Friday shop from the comfort of your own home online. Most of the deals these days are also available via the company’s website! One year I pounded the pavement all night long looking for a black peacoat in my price range. I got home in the wee hours of the morning, empty handed and exhausted as could be. I jumped online to Wilson’s Leather and what do you know? The perfect coat at way better prices that the brick and mortar stores I hit up.

Pay With Gift Cards

One last tip I’ve got for you is to buy discounted gift cards to shop with on Black Friday.

If you already know you are buying something at Sears, why not buy a gift card at 5%-15% off to maximize even more savings? We do this all the time with stores we regularly go to: Chipotle, Starbucks, Ebay, Target, Old Navy, you name it. Free money, people! And if you can combine a coupon on top of these Black Friday and gift card discounts? Even better!

I hope that helps you snag the best deals out there this Black Friday! Last and certainly not least – don’t Black Friday shop unless you have it in the budget. Any sale that makes you go deeper into debt and/or wasn’t planned for at your budget meeting isn’t a sale we’d recommend.

Adoption

Growing Our Family Piece by Piece: Day Six Update

September 29, 2016

Six days down and three to go in our adoption puzzle fundraiser!

Shout out to everyone who shared our post yesterday! We appreciate that so very much and know your shares are working since not only are people we know giving to the puzzle but strangers! You want proof, check out this guy:

Hi guys I just wanted to let you know that your story popped up in my Facebook newsfeed from two different people and I am rarely on Facebook so I really felt called to donate!

Yup – because of y’all. 🙂

Yesterday a heavy majority of our paperwork got turned in, which is a huge weight off our backs. Now clearances need to come through and the home study meetings are all that stand in the way of us being officially approved to adopt again! Oh and the funds we are trying to raise but you know what? God will provide. He will. As long as we work diligently and prudently with our time and resources the Lord will bring whatever we lack.

I had a strong sense of his providence yesterday while riding in the car ad listening to Hillsong’s Oceans. (Sorry to anyone at the intersection of 132nd & Harrison who saw that ugly cry). I asked the Holy Spirit years ago to lead my life and do whatever he wants with me to bring glory to God. There have been some major ups and downs already in this adoption process (can’t go into detail) but I’ve been begging for peace and it came. We are right where we are supposed to be no matter how things turn and bend ahead. Being confident of that leaves little room for fear…just for love.

Today I want to throw out a challenge. Many of you already have BUT if you are someone who’s life has been positively impacted by the presence of True Good & Beautiful or through Jonathan and I’s friendships/mentorship/whatevership we happen to have – would you join us in this adoption puzzle? We sincerely thank you for considering it.

What kind of progress did we make on Day Five?

  • 237 pieces sold

  • $5,925 raised!!!!

  • 15.80% of our goal of $37,500

Here’s a virtual picture of the puzzle’s progress:

puzzle-day-06

If you would like to donate, please do so below. If you know of anyone who has a heart for adoption, please share our story and invite them to consider joining the journey.



Donate w/ Squarecash

Money

The May Budget Breakdown

April 29, 2015

Howdy.

Here we are again. Time for some good ole budget accountability and fun!

In these posts we will write-up typical expenses that may get overlooked for the particular month. Then we have a photo link up portion where YOU can upload a photo of your budget committee meeting for the month!

So, what expenses might you expect in the month of May?

  • Mother’s Day (I can’t believe we FINALLY get to budget for this!!!) 🙂
    • Brunch
    • Flowers
    • Gifts
    • Crafts
    • Etc.
  • Cinco de Mayo Party
  • Spring Cleaning Supplies
    • Mop, Broom, Vacuum
    • Organizational boxes
    • Filing Cabinet
  • Birthday gifts
  • Wedding gifts
  • Graduation gifts
  • Summer travel
    • Extra gas money
    • Flights
    • Rental car
    • Hotels
  • Memorial Day
    • Party with friends
    • Grilling supplies
    • Wreath’s for graves of Veterans
  • Animal expenses
    • Flea/Tick medications for animals you plan to take out into the woods/hikes
  • Summer supplies
    • Bathing suits
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunscreen
  • Entertainment
    • Entry fees for fun races (Rugged Maniac)
    • Blockbuster movies (Avengers)
  • Yard supplies
    • Gasoline for mower
    • Landscaping
  • Utilities increase
    • Air conditioning
    • Fans
  • Summer Recreation
    • Hiking Supplies
    • Camping Supplies
    • Swimming pool pass
    • State Parks pass

Again, these are some expenses we’ve found ourselves budgeting for this month, so they might be applicable to you or not. Some of these expenses are best budgeted for as a sinking fund...like vacations or gifts. About this time of the year we have to book a lot of travel for the summer months and it’s helpful if several months of flight expenses don’t hit all at once in the same month.

Now it’s time for your part!

[inlinkz_linkup id=520737 mode=1]

Money, Our Debt-Free Story

Our Debt-Free Story: Part 3 – WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!

September 2, 2014

This is Part 3 of a 3-part series. Be sure to read about Our “We’ve Had It!” Moment and Our Secret Weapon.

We left off in part two when we were knee-deep in debt but with gazelle intensity and a laser focus to pay it all off ASAP. We even shocked ourselves and beat our “debt-free date” by nearly five months!!

How did we do that?

Let me tell you…

So there we were, Spring 2012, with between $15,000-$18,000 of student loan debt left to go when we got the tax return funds and threw it towards the loan. The numbers fell significantly that month and momentum started rolling like crazy.

At this point, we sort of snapped and went scorched earth. We also found out we would likely be moving in two months time, so we started thinking about all the things we could purge from our household and turn into quick cash to pay towards our loans.

Sometime in April, I gathered up items from our house in the living room and began listing them on Craigslist left and right.

Bicycles. Nintendo. Lamps. Throw pillows. An HDTV Television. A desk we dug out of a dumpster. A chair we got for free.

If it wasn’t nailed down, it was on the “discuss to sell” list. In a two week window, we had people at our town house nightly, one after another, purchasing items from our living room garage sale. 🙂

We ended up with a couple thousand dollars from our sales…but still had to live in the place for a few weeks before moving. Yup, it was rather uncomfortable sleeping on a blow up mattress, having no lamps, furniture, or Nintendo to play with. But we were brimming with happiness and joy at seeing more progress on the student loans. It became like a game to sacrifice more and more so we could see the debt fall quicker…so we happily played board games under a light bulb on a string in the closet.

With this continued surge of momentum, we saw the debt fall below the $10,000 mark in early May 2012!!

To keep the gazelle-like intensity up, we decided to sell my car and drop down to a one car family. It sounds harder than it was, since we actually work together. The times we actually needed two cars was far and few between. This got us some extra cash to throw at the debt and lowered our car insurance bills and gas costs.

To top it all off, we had unusual circumstances that summer. We moved out of our apartment in May but didn’t find a place in Denver to live straight away so we put all our belongings in a storage unit. We traveled that summer working on our fundraising and staying with family. Upon moving to Colorado, a family invited us to stay with them while we searched for housing. With those circumstances, we didn’t have any rent and minimal food expenses from June through August, which was a MASSIVE help in our debt snowball.

In late July, we saw the numbers really plummeting and we were just ITCHING to get it all paid off the next month. We received a few special donations in larger lump sums which gave us the extra cash flow to pay the loans off earlier than we ever anticipated. We kept living on a bare bones budget and scraping money our of thin air, hoping we could have an August debt-free date.

On August 15, 2012 we had finally scrounged up enough to sink our last loan and become 100% debt-free!!!!

Wahoooo!! 🙂

To celebrate, we made doughnuts and started forming a plan for the next baby step, the fully-funded emergency fund! A few months later, we traveled to Nashville and did our Debt-Free Scream on the Dave Ramsey Show. Someday we will tell our “post-debt-free story” and the unique challanges and freedoms that come with each baby step.

Until then, here’s wishing financial peace for everyone reading this! You can enter our Financial Peace University Giveaway to jump start your journey!

Money, Our Debt-Free Story

Our Debt-Free Story: Part 2 – Our Secret Weapon

September 1, 2014

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series. Be sure to read about Our “We’ve Had It!” Moment.

Welcome back!

At the end of our Debt-Free Story Part One, we left you hanging with us having our “I’VE HAD IT!” moment.

We were officially sick and tired of being sick and tired. We didn’t want to see hundreds of dollars being shipped off to Sallie Mae on a monthly basis. We were inspired to kick her to the curb using Dave Ramsey’s baby steps.

There we were, fuming with excitement, so what did we do next?

The budget.

We had our very first “Teixeira Budget Committee Meeting” on December 30th, 2011 to plan our January budget.It was quite simple back then. We grabbed a pencil, paper, and some envelopes for cash. (vital to all beginner budgeters…since when cash is gone it’s gone and it’s a built it “stop” to spending)

Looking back, it was actually hilarious since we fumbled our way through varying categories and were bad at estimating the cost of things. I think we budgeted $50 for groceries for the month. Yea…that needed adjusting! 🙂

Despite being bad at budgeting from the first go, we had tremendous amounts of zeal and passion for it. We were finally a team. We were on the same page. Nothing could stop us from getting that very first baby step done – $1,000 in a mini emergency fund.

We found a way to shuffle the budget around to compensate for our under-funding certain categories and over-funding others and by the end of January we had baby step one completed! We were on track to paying off our student loans within one year’s time.

We then turned our gaze towards that pile of debt. As the months crept by, we not only got better at creating a budget but also sticking to the budget! We found that the more realistic we were about our budget and stuck mostly with cash, we were having great success not over-spending or feeling guilty for the spending we did do. By cutting discretionary spending, it allowed us to begin throwing more lumps of mula towards our loans.

We cut our lifestyle. HARD. We wanted to literally live like no one else…so later we could give and live like no one else.

Here’s what I mean by cutting our lifestyle based on a typical monthly budget back then:

  • Blow money: $0
  • Entertainment: $5 (a couple red box dvd’s)
  • Restaurants: $0
  • Vacation: $0
  • Groceries $120
  • Gas: $50
  • Clothing: $0
  • Date Night: $5 (an ice cream cone to share)
  • Birthday gifts: $0
  • Vacation: $0

Obviously we had some fixed expenses like rent and healthcare but every category relating to our lifestyle was bare bones. It actually was barely enough. Sometimes we rode bikes to work when we were almost out of gas money. Or we would make pb&j sandwiches for days on end with baby carrots and celery on the side when we wanted to stretch the grocery funds. Or instead of buying a new mattress, we slept on a (clean!!) donated mattress from someone’s old RV.

Did we need to do this?

No.

We were squeezing thousands of dollars from our budget every month. We could have decided to be a little softer on ourselves. Seen more movies. Gone out to eat. Taken a road trip. Bought whatever we wanted at the grocery store.

But at what cost? Months and possibly years longer to get out of debt. 

We wanted it done NOW. Our desire to become debt free was so intense we literally were willing to sacrifice everything but necessities to meet that goal. We would rather suffer a short but intense time of delaying gratification than several years of lukewarm spending/paying debt.

In March, we got tax refund and combined it to the funds we’d scraped up our of that month’s budget for an extra large payment towards the student loans. That is when we started to really feel momentum pulling us. Dave calls it the “debt snowball” since it starts small and over time gets larger and larger with more momentum.

We were officially weird and gazelle-intense. Friends and family thought we were taking things just a little too far….and that is exactly where we wanted to be! 🙂

The debt started falling rapidly and with every dollar thrown at it, our confidence and excitement grew. We quickly went from first-time fumbling budgeters to budget pros with a goal no one could stop us from reaching!

Stay tuned for next time as we talk about how we were able to beat our initial goal of a one-year debt payoff by nearly five months! And jump over to win a FREE Financial Peace University class membership!

Money, Our Debt-Free Story

Our Debt-Free Story: Part 1 – “We’ve Had It!”

August 29, 2014

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series. Be sure to read the whole story!

Since we are running a Financial Peace Giveaway, it only seemed right that we formally share the story of how we became debt free.

This will be a three-part series and this post is the first installment. We hope to offer encouragement in sharing our experiences and perhaps a few laughs along the way.

So, let’s take a trip down memory lane back to yesteryear….

name-my-car-3In a Delorean.

Since we’ve all not-so-secretly wished we could travel in one.

The story begins on  warm summer’s eve when a guy with long hair walked up and  asked me to get ice cream later that night. I said, “sure.” He then high-fived me and ran away.

That guy was Jonathan and we’ve been inseparable ever since that first ice cream cone.

Our first conversations about money began that Fall. We both declared we had some students loans and had them on auto payments…student loans we likely never needed to take if we had both saved and worked through college. Whoops. Not a very deep or informative conversation but it got the ball rolling.

In late Spring…Holy Thursday to be exact, we got engaged and that is when the real shackles of debt began to rear their ugly heads. Now we had a wedding to plan with varying expenses and a honeymoon to pay for. Naturally we began to talk more details about what sort of financial means and baggage we were carrying at the time.

We were sitting in my car when the bomb dropped.

Between the two of us we had $24,500 in debt!!!

displeasedHere’s the breakdown:

Amanda: $8,000 student loans 

Jonathan: $13,000 student loans + $3,500 on a credit card 

What’s weird is I didn’t freak out about the $21,000 in student loans but I FREAKED about Jonathan’s credit card debt. Something about credit cards has always scared me and I just cringe at the thought of paying 17.235% interest or whatever they are. Gross. 

At that point, I had some savings I was holding onto. Why was I sitting on student loan debt with savings in the bank? Don’t ask. I really have no idea. Upon arriving back at my house, we got out of the car and I logged into my bank and transferred Jonathan the funds to pay off the credit card immediately. 

Later on I learned  Dave Ramsey says I shouldn’t have done that until we were hitched. Whoops.

It was paid. I felt instantly better.

Throughout our engagement we both began to read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. It rocked our world. All the testimonies from individuals and families who have worked Dave’s plan and obtained financial freedom were inspiring. We started listening to the radio show and with every “debt-free scream” that aired, I would start to cry. We felt the weight and burden of debt and knew we wanted it gone as soon as possible.

But.

We had that thing called a wedding to plan.

We wanted to apply all of Dave’s principles right away but we were waiting to merge bank accounts until after the wedding and there were too many urgent tasks in the way that kept preventing us from starting to budget on our own.

We let the principles take a back seat and knew that after the wedding, there was no turning back.

We were going to do this.

We were going to kick Sallie Mae to the curb and never look back.

We were going to be debt-free and that is all there was too it.

We were finally “mad” about our debt.

And Dave Ramsey always says the first step to getting our of debt is saying, “I’VE HAD IT!” and being sick and tired of being sick and tired. We had arrived at that point.

In Part 2, we will talk you through how we got started working the baby steps as a married couple.

See you next time! Until then, jump over to our FPU Giveaway post to enter for a chance to win one of three FPU memberships!