Saturday, December 29, 2018

Setting Goals to a Simpler Less Stressful Life. Reflections After a No Buy Year and Going Forward.

Do you set goals every New Years only to find by March you don't even remember what they were or are you struggling with guilt over not reaching your goals?
I set goals as well  but find I am often working on them decades later. And I am okay with that. At thirty I said to myself I would "practice being a better listener" at forty eight I am still practicing. Some goals are ongoing. We may decide to "get healthier" but that is something we want to maintain. There is no reach and stop.

This year after a "No Buy" year I have really been focused on how much simpler my life became with restrictions, self imposed as they were. The end results are "I want even less, far less". It was that good and yes it was hard. See in a "No Buy" year you set the rules and perimeters for yourself. You should make them so that you can and will follow them, and take hurdles as a chance to learn about yourself and explore your feelings, this is where the life changing moments happen.
On my "No Buy" year I vowed to not buy new clothes, shoes, jewelry (not even those $5 earrings at Old Navy), purses or books (that last one...H A R D). This is how I discovered HOOPLA a free book app like Audible and Kindle. So how did it go?You can watch my video to see more.

As a result of my "No Buy" Year this is what my goals are this year and below that I'll give you some suggestions for setting your own goals. My goals might seem large but many of these are in motion and I've got the ball rolling so it is a continuation of goals I've already been working on, at least many of them are.

My Goals for this year: 2019

1. Self Care and Health: 
Meal Plan weekly, cook more, walk a minimum of 3 x a week for 20 minutes (1 mile) and take one yoga class and one at home yoga session. (I generally do more but on crazy weeks less, so it needs to be doable or so easy I feel like I am a total loser if I don't:)) .  Let my hair go more natural (low lights and go back towards my natural color (I think it is dirty blond) and reduce coloring and haircuts by also letting my bangs grow out. Reduce trips to get my nails done by doing them myself except for special occasions (I know this is a no brainier for some but I am horrible at nail care and I live a very public life so if I have to speak in front of 400 people I'm having a nice manicure for $20).

2. Business:
 Make sure to fully collect all tuition and close out the school in May successfully and have happy graduates at the end. Teach one more class per week at work for the public. Finish at least one ebook this year (I have one about ready to go). Possibly get started on two more, but my publish goals for those are two years. Speak at two conferences where I am compensated for my time (Until now in the conference arena, not workshops but the big deal ones, I've volunteered).  Grow our roofing business to a minimum of 100 roofs, we are at about 90 this year. Be smarter with keeping the roofing books and avoiding costly mistakes, this means me keeping books and letting my husband bid the jobs and organize our crews.

3. Personal Finance: 
Save enough money to replace my car. Pay 1/2 the mortgage off by 12/19. Cash flow from our day jobs our home bills and food. Cash flow vacations and hobbies, gifts, personal money etc..Set up sinking funds for large expenses and save more in our emergency fund (we have 1 years living expenses now, I'd like two to four years). * This is a continuation. As our incomes grew from about $40,000 a year to quite a bit more we never increased the cost of our living. We cash flow, paid off debt and lived mostly the same, this has helped us pay over $40,000 on our mortgage this year and pay cash for 1/3 of the cost of our home when we built it. Follow and subscribe to my You Tube channel for tips on this. 

4. Environment (Home, Farm, Cars): 
Clean out the storage building. Get every room and closet cleaned out and minimized. Same goes for storage building on the farm and barn. Keep cars maintained and cleaned. Keep farm property cleaned and maintained (we are rebuilding a barn, outdoor storage, garage for equipment, and run in shelters for the pasture animals which we will cash flow).


Setting up Goals for Yourself:

My goals are fairly large and you will see categories, also many of my goals are continuations. I have a notebook, a planner, and sticky notes stuck to the closet wall to keep me on track so I don't forget. I highly recommend this! I have a black belt in this and have been doing it since I was eight (I know I am crazy, lol). Do what you can and don't get overwhelmed. Start small.

1. Make goals in different categories or simply choose one.
2. Follow the SMART method.
S.M.A.R.T., it needs to conform to the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
S: Such as I want to lose 10lbs 
M: I want to lose 10lbs in approx 10 weeks at 1lb per week
A: I will follow a low carb diet, a 12 hour window of eating and an exercise plan of 2 days of yoga and 3 days of cardio.
R: I want to feel better in my clothes and improve my health
T: by 3/1/2019
3. Have an accountability buddy if you need one. I have a friend that we compare health and well being notes.
4. Review your goals weekly or monthly and see what you can do better next week or month.
5. Make it so easy you can do it! Don't plan to go to the gym everyday if you have never gone. Be realistic.
6. Work your schedule around your commitment rather than trying to fit in your goal to your schedule. For instance put your exercise on your calendar and let nothing get in your way. If someone calls then say "I'm sorry I have an appointment can we do this another time". You don't have to explain.
7. Know your why (That is the relevant part of SMART). If you don't have a reasonable why you will return to square one after the goal is reached.
8. Have a plan to maintain your goal or get back on track. Avoid the all or nothing trap. I recently lost 15lbs by following a low carb diet and doing moderate exercise. Over the Holidays I gained 4lbs back. I am back on track now and following the plan. I didn't just give up because I had several cheat days, I just accepted that this would probably happen and I would correct for it.

Happy New Year to You!

Love,
Courtney

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Frugal VS Cheap.

Frugality for me is a way to achieve a life that is richer in experiences and is in line with my values. I pursue and promote Financial Freedom because I myself have been on the other side a few times and know what it is like to be a slave to a lender. You can read back on my stories but until a few years ago my husband nor I made more than $40,000 a year. As a matter of fact until my forties I never made over $25,000 a year.

Because I had learned black belt frugality from my Depression Era grandparents I was able to survive when hard times hit, the collapse of the housing market, a financially devastating divorce and raising four teens by myself. These skills have increased the quality of my life not decreased it. I have everything I need and want and do not feel the pressure or stress of being deep in consumer debt.

Cheap versus frugal. What's the difference? For instance lets say your faucet breaks and instead of fixing your faucet you simply use a wrench to open and close it for years so you can save money, even though the fix would be less than $50 and you have it in your emergency fund. To me this is cheap (this is a true story about someone I used to know). Frugal is you go to the store and buy a quality faucet that will last because you have money saved to pay for it. If there are twenty five available to choose from so  you research to find the most reliable. You may pick one you like that matches your decor but it won't be the most expensive and fancy one that you have to put on a credit card because you have planned for this kind of thing. This is frugal. You will have more quality items but not items that you cannot afford to pay cash for.

Another example is that you have a 3 pairs of quality fitting blue jeans that you purchased at a resale shop for $35 each. These jeans may have cost $100 or more brand new. You get them cheaper at resale but you could have purchased a pair of new lesser quality jeans at a big box store for $30 that wouldn't last as long or be as comfortable.

This is how I live my life. I have less but better quality. In my living room I have three high quality leather pieces. A $3500 Henredon sofa that I paid $300 for on Craigslist, a high quality leather recliner that a friend no longer needed (free), and a hand me down leather chair and ottoman from my family. New all of this would have cost me nearly $6000. I paid $300. I was patient and lived with only a couch for a while.

Some qualities of frugal people.

1. They put values first then live their life in accordance with their values. The live frugal to support their values. If health is a value they may forgo some expensive trips to afford high quality food and pay for a good treadmill. Forgoing extraneous expenses in other areas.
2. They have patience and wait for a good deal.
3. They do not use credit, they save for emergencies.
4. They save for big expenses like vacations and cars.
5. They avoid marketing (advertising) as much as possible. This may mean not watching cable t.v., staying off social media and not shopping for fun.
6. They save in areas that aren't as important to them so they can spend in areas that support their values. For me I save on the daily expenses like eating out, clothing and excessive living like a bigger fancier home and car so I can travel and spend more time with loved ones.
7. They find free and inexpensive ways to entertain themselves. Such as working out at home, reading from the library, having date nights in.
8. They budget their money. They know what comes in every month and they know what their expenses are. In the early days I had to budget every dollar. Now that we have no debt and a higher income I don't have to do this but I have some strict habits I've developed that allow me to  have a high savings rate.
9. The live on less and save more. My husband of one year, who I have been with for seven, and I have not increased our standard of living as our incomes have grown. We now make two to three times what we made when we met but we still live on $45,000 a year. We save the rest and pay cash for expenses like cars and repairs. We also are paying our mortgage off quickly.
10. They have an emergency fund. Start with $500 then build up to two years in the bank by the time you retire or before (this does not include your retirement savings).
11. They keep a reserve in their checking and business accounts.
12. They are always learning and staying up to date on information that supports them in their journey.
13. They keep their mortgage or rent payments at less than 1/4 of their income. For couples it would be suggested that one income could support you in the event that one person lost their job or had to be off for an illness or special circumstance.
14. They are able to cut back on work if they choose to, in order to enjoy more of their values like exercise, travel, health etc.
15. They are planners. They think about what they want their life to look like and live day to day with accordance with that plan.



Monday, November 19, 2018

Going Against the Current with Money.



Yesterday I found myself once again frustrated with a money conversation. My beliefs are very different against main stream money thinking. I began this journey back...well truthfully it's been my life growing up in my family. My grandparents were this way (frugal and debt averse) and though they passed on with about $250,000 in assets not millions, my other frugal grandma was a millionaire  unbeknownst to us. So you know they are rock stars with money in my book.

So recently we found ourselves debt free except the house and wanted to know if I should pay off the house or invest the difference after paying my IRA. Well of course a financial planner with a firm is going to tell you to invest, which they did. There was a lot of talk about making more money than I was paying in interest on the house and tax deductions but I'm not sure those financial planners are as wealthy as my grandparents were. So I  thought about  my grandparents. They lived frugal, had all they needed and both left a legacy that helped their children. So instead of looking to what main stream society tells me I decided to look to my grandparents.

Our decision:
We are paying the house off and investing the max into IRA's for now. All excess goes to the house. I'll continue to max out the IRA's after the house is paid off and either invest in real estate, index funds, or keep money in the bank in high yield checking or savings, probably some of both. I also keep us fully insured with life, home, auto and good health insurance.

Here is what my grandparents did. One passed on a millionaire the other had a paid for house, money in the bank and over $154,000 in stocks, no debt and they had over a quarter of a million in assets.
They had all they needed, wanted and for the most part were normal people who didn't have to worry about money.


Lessons from my Depression Era Grandparents

1. Eat at home
2. Grow your own food when you can or catch it (we ate a lot of fish). I am not a gardener but my husband is. I can cook anything though.
3. Wear it out. If it ain't broke don't replace it.
4. Do without. You don't need half of what you want.
5. Needs first then wants within reason.
6. Keep a tidy house and car it leads to a tidy mind.
7. Don't buy into trends. You don't have to remodel. You can have a nice clean house with furniture that is older. I buy antiques and furniture that is timeless, much like timeless clothing. I have a coat from the 40's that is a simple cashmere mid calf and it has never been out of style. I have Persian rugs that never go out of style. My bedroom furniture is from the 40's and it is still super cool.
8. Buy quality. Research before you buy.
9. Don't do debt. Pay it off. Then don't get back in.
10. It's more about what you don't do than what you do sometimes. Not doing things that cost a lot of money actually saves you tons over buying stuff you don't need on sale.
11. Keep a simple wardrobe or basics and a few fun pieces. Buy when you need something but not simply for an activity.
12. Have simple hobbies like reading, walking, cooking, gardening. Hobbies that help you learn, keep you fit, and actually save money.
13. Send in the rebate, use the coupon if you actually buy that which you have the coupon for. Don't buy crap you don't need because it's on sale or you have a coupon.
14. Say "NO" to enabling others. If they can do it for themselves don't do it for them unless you truly want to gift them from your heart. If you feel resentment then you are enabling.

My grandmother was a millionaire when she passed, She lived in a modest home, drove an older Toyota Highlander, cut her own grass until she was 84, cleaned her own home, cooked her own food. She had a nice home but it wasn't over the top and it was paid for. She truly was the millionaire next door. She didn't have to worry about her food or if she could pay her bills. That is true financial freedom. I'm not saying we should never have fun or spend on life's pleasures but we should consider first that our future is secure so we are not a burden on others.




Friday, September 7, 2018

How to handle financial distress with helpful tips.

Are you in financial distress and don't know where to turn?


Maybe I can offer some help.
I've been there and I've helped many people see the light at the end of financial fears. We also have six kids, three in college and five on their own. We are trying to assist them in being independent but also find that balance between helping and enabling. I've been on my own since I was seventeen and I was lucky enough to have been raised by depression era grandparents and other frugal family members who taught me well how to be resourceful.

Here are some tips.

Emergency Steps to Handle Financial Distress.
 Don't panic there is no debtor's prison. You can fix this.
* I am assuming if you are reading this you are not homeless but I need to say this if that is the case. If you are call the nearest homeless shelter or church and ask for guidance. Then apply for all the services you can and follow their advice. You will need to contact the Department of Human Services immediately. 

Let's say you have a place to live, you have to many bills, maybe you are behind and you don't have enough money coming in to pay everything. I'm talking to you.
1. The first thing you need to do is write down all your bills on paper the old fashioned way. Then write down the money you have coming in, not what you think it going to come in but what actually came in the past thirty days. That's your starting point. Go by what happened last month.
2. Pay your rent/mortgage first every month and your utilities. If you are behind call and make arrangements immediately (This will save you fee's and maybe eviction). If you need to find a cheaper place to live do that as soon as you can. Ask people you know as well. You never know what people might be willing to do if you ask. They could have a garage apartment or a room. They may even come down on their asking price.
3. Hussel up a some money, after rent, utilities and food are paid then you need an emergency fund. Why? Because something will always happen to throw you in distress if you do not. You have to have money for emergencies when you are living that tight. Sell some stuff, take an extra job, call people you know and ask them if there is anything you can do for them and tell them your situation. You might be surprised how many older folks need chores done, shopping, or help with electronics.
Quit being afraid to ask! All they can do is say "No'. Be on time and do more than you are ask. Always give your best.
4. Stop all discretionary spending. If it isn't shelter, food, utilities and basic transportation stop spending on it for now.
5. That means meal plan. The average person can eat healthy on about $6.00 a day. I'll share below. The average person with no money is eating fast food every day to the tune of about two to three times that. If you spend $6.00 a day eating at home versus $18.00 a day eating out you will save about $360 a month! I'm serious!
6. Stop smoking, don't buy alcohol and stop all frivolous spending. This means clothes, makeup you don't need and hair products etc. This area alone is the problem for most people.
7. You need to find cheap or free entertainment.
8. Cut off the cable even if they tell you they will charge you..you can pay it out.
9. In extreme cases cut off the Internet. You can use your phone. People not to long ago, my generation did not have cable (until I was a teen), wifi, or cell phones. I can see having basic cell service. What to do if you have no wifi or cable? You can get books and DVDs at the library (we did this for years), read, clean your house, cook your own food, garden, learn a new hobby, take care of your car and what you have. Spend your time exercising. You might actually be happier. If you need wifi go the library. If you need it for your work like me I understand this and you should write it off your taxes.


Most people these days can make $10 an hour for basic labor. You may have to find a cheaper way to live, rent a room, take on a house mate, do the tiny house thing, get a trailer....

Basic Budget for a single person making $10 an hour, working 40 hours a week. If you are broke and working less you need to find another job or an extra job. Maybe at night or weekends. * I was $1400 a month over my head about two decades ago (meaning that is what I was short to live on. I took an extra job and moved into a much cheaper house).

$400 x 4.3 (average month) = $1720 before taxes (this is high for this pay grade but average) after $1290.

Your health insurance should be about $20 a month at this pay rate.

  • Rent about 1/4th your income no more than $330. *This may be hard, the average may be more like $425 for a small studio. Figure out a cheaper way, be creative.  
  • Utilities: electric, heat, water no more than $75 
  • Auto Insurance on an old car (liability) $30.
  • Basic cell phone service $55.
  • Total = $480
  • Balance is +$810
  • Food $75 a week x 4.3 = $322.50
  • Gas $40 a week x4.3 =$172 
  • Balance = $315.50 (save emergency fund first, then pay on debt. If you have no debt then you can save up 3 to 6 month living expenses, then pay off a mortgage if you have one. For now follow the steps in order. Don't pay your bills late. Sit down every pay period and pay bills due first and set aside money first before it is spent. DON'T GO SHOPPING.You will not buy clothes for now. 

*You should not have a car payment, if you do consider selling it and buying a used cheaper car with your tax return. If you are upside down start working on plan. If you can take public transportation.
Everything below that line should be put in the order of most important. Call all your creditors and work out a plan, even if it's $10 a month. If you have a lot of debt you will need to get another job. I suggest a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Course. You can read the book for free if you are to broke to afford the course.

*If you need new skills you can often get Pell Grant money and Scholarship money. At a local technical college or community college that may leave you some money to live on and work part time. They also have night programs that are only a few nights a week. Getting skills of some kind will greatly increase your pay and most likely the quality of your life. This is what I did.

Read more of my blog for tips.

Meal planning.

Last week I went shopping for a weeks worth of meals for two people for $85.00
This was a test for myself to see if I could do it.
Most of the food was organic and very high quality. I looked and figured that I could have purchased non organic cheaper products for about 25 to 30 % less. When I added up the cost of the meals it came to about $2.02 a meal for breakfast and lunch and dinners where closer to $3.00 a person. The total for organic meals was about $7.04 a day per person.

Before you meal plan look at what you have and plan around that. Do you have a jar of spaghetti sauce? Guess your eating pasta. Do you have some bacon? BLT's anyone? Do you have a loaf of bread? French toast or sandwiches. Use up what is going to go bad first. If you have some veggies or fruit that need to be eaten plan your meal around those. This will save tons of money and waste.

This week I took my son out to eat for lunch at a local restaurant and it was $65 with tip! I about died. I don't have to be on a budget anymore and was treating my son, but my point is that would be one weeks worth of groceries for one person if you meal plan. 

Here is what we had this week, I modified a bit for my low carb diet.  You will have to food prep on this diet (Food Prep is fancy talk for store your left overs for the next meal). Dinner for two for seven days.
1.A deli chicken with 2 veggies (frozen veg): Made 4 meals
2. Enough left over to make two meals of chicken salad (2 meals) with crackers.
3. Taco Salad (3 meals)
4. Broccoli Soup and Crackers (4 meals)
5. Spaghetti with Turkey (ground) and green beans (frozen) (6 meals)
Total full meals 19 meals (Need 14 dinners for two people, then 5 days of lunch one person can take leftovers)

Lunch: Leftovers
or Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich and milk
or Egg Sandwich with a few slices of tomato and milk and a banana

*There was enough left over salad fixings and veggies to add a salad to a couple of meals or another side veggie.

Breakfast:
Eggs and Toast
Overnight Oats (Organic Yogurt mixed with fruit and topped with nuts)
Oatmeal with nuts, peanut butter, butter, a half of banana and glass of milk.
* I had some berries, the only fruit I purchased was banana's because they are cheap. Look for what is seasonal.


You can do this! Don't get discouraged get empowered. :) I did it, got ahead, screwed up and did it again. This time for good.











Thursday, August 16, 2018

Vacation: Bozeman Montana, Yellowstone and Jackson Hole

Well the Hubby and I returned a few days ago from a full week in Yellowstone & down to the Grand Tetons. When I was planning this trip I found some information but not as much as I would have liked that was helpful. Especially since most of the info I found was monetized (had advertising). So here's the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful of our trip and hope it helps someone else.

So this is not really so much about Resourcefulness but in a way it is. We have been on this path long enough that we could relax and finally afford a big vacation. If you follow Dave Ramsey we are on Baby Step 4, paying the mortgage. The debt it done, the 6 months savings is there, and now we are to a point that our extra money goes to our mortgage. There is now a little room to relax after many of years of simple vacations. Part of the reason we are on this path is so we can enjoy life more but it took some time to get here. It's so worth it.

My husband had open heart surgery about 3 years ago and that put everything into perspective. The value of life, experience, and living your life came clearly into focus. In a moment of clarity I made a decision to take my husband on his dream vacation, one he has talked about for years, Yellowstone. I quickly booked up everything I could find in Yellowstone sitting in a parking lot outside of a pizza restaurant. This was only 12 weeks ago. Yellowstone can book up a year in advance. I then came home and poured over info to find the best places to stay, rescheduled and moved things around, rented a car, found out where to fly into and that lead me to make some changes.

We flew into Bozeman Mt., what a beautiful place. I highly recommend it. The flights on United where substantially cheaper and we had great service from United. For two people round trip it was roughly $1000.
We had one bad experience at a hotel that lead me to another one on a recommendation from a lady at a ranch supply store. The C'mon Inn (less than $200 a night). It was great! The least expensive hotel and the best priced of all of them. Highly recommend. Hotels here are expensive! Outside of the park it's possible to find something for under $200 that is nice, inside the park equivalent lodging it about double.
I would recommend flying Little Rock (If you are in Arkansas) to Bozeman on United, then staying at the C'mon Inn. Go straight to Walmart and buy these things
1. Bear Spray (one can should do, it cost $50 or $10 a day in the park, you figure the math).
2. A cheap ice chest that is soft $4.94
3. Refillable insulated cups for water to save on buying bottles, it's dry and you will need a lot of water. $6.94
Then you can buy your snacks here or go to the Bozeman Co'op and buy food. We ate here twice, and got our green juice. They have great picnic boxes and hot food. I am a foodie and was able to get a nice chicken curry while my cowboy husband got a salad and some organic chicken. LOVE THIS PLACE.
We had dinner at Montana Ale Works twice. The food is great and it's worth a visit.
We also went to the local movie theater though I don't remember the name and it was very clean and nice. Take some time to drive around the city of Bozeman, over in the neighborhoods near downtown. There are parks and walkways. It is one of the cleanest cities I've ever seen.

We then headed to Yellowstone, driving through the North Gate, Stopping at Mammoth Hot Springs. Then going down to Lake Yellowstone stopping and looking at all the sights along the way. Including the buffalo. We took the North West side down and over to Lake Yellowstone. Lake Yellowstone Inn is the most expensive hotel in the park, the food is good at the restaurant but not great for the price. It's embarrassing what we paid for a room and I wish we hadn't. It was suppose to have a lake view but the window was very small, the room was small, and though very nice it was not worth $536.00 a night to stay here. I went into Lake Lodge down the street and wish we had  stayed there, it was more "cabin lodge" feeling and more our speed. Not sure the pricing but it's in between Jackson Hole and Bozeman. The lake is beautiful and we drove out to the lower west side about half way until the lake ended, a beautiful drive.
This was a beautiful place to stay but be warned the hotels, lodges in Yellowstone are not that comfortable. The beds were small and  hard.

The park is in the shape of the letter 8 with fingers going N,NE upper, NE lower, S, & W, five total roads out of the park.

Day 3 we drove to Jackson Hole through the Grand Tetons stopping along the way to view all the magnificent sights. I stress that this was a hard drive for a girl afraid of heights! Wow. So beautiful though I cannot begin to express the beauty of the Grand Tetons. We stayed at the Rustic Inn, which was about $416 a night. It was very nice, the rooms where amazing and comfortable and all were individual little cabins, though very close together. There was a nature walk, a pool (heated), hot tub and sauna. My husband used the workout room and a very nice breakfast was included. My only complaints where they started cooking at 5 a.m. and we apparently were next to the kitchen wall! The other issue was that they needed someone to walk around and be aware of trash and picking it up around the nature area. It wasn't terrible but for that price I expected it to be picked up. They were busy so I give them that. We took full advantage of this resort and experienced all it had to offer that came with our room. They light the outdoor fire pits at night and this is very nice. The breakfast was very crowded and let's just say that Southern manners we are used to are not used here, people were a bit pushy. My husband was pretty irked.
We had dinner at The Silver Dollar an old hotel there and it was great. Service was great, very friendly staff. While there we walked downtown to Healthy Being so I could have my juice fix (I had the beet..wow it was tart but good, I had some stevia in my purse to add to it).  I would go here again, they have a basket of lawn blankets and wonderful places to sit outside. It's like a park.
We also ate at Jackson Grocers, which was really good and similar to a small size Whole Foods. I really liked that they support local health food stores all over the place and there are no chain health food stores. We also had lunch at Cafe Genevieve, it was good. I had a salad and it was very good. My husband had breakfast fare and said the bread was amazing. Everyone told us to go the Million Dollar Cowboy bar but we were so tired we didn't make it. The highlight for us was the Jackson Hole Art Fair, it was amazing. We visited several parks, one of my favorite things to do and enjoyed this very much. Highly recommend visiting the local parks here for a place to rest and enjoy the natural beauty.
Be prepared to walk, the traffic is bumper to bumper.

Day 4 back to Yellowstone up the South entrance, so much beauty going back that you get a different perspective and it's worth it. We drove up to Old Faithful and waited for it on the second row viewing deck of the hotel. Grab a drink and have a seat and enjoy from the deck. This is the best place. Visit the gift shops and relax a bit. We then drove up the west entrance a bit, so much beauty I cannot even explain, you must experience it yourself. We headed over the Canyon Village. Canyon is beautiful and we had stopped here to eat earlier on our way to Lake Yellowstone. Canyon Village is the place in Yellowstone to eat, buy gifts and see The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The lodge looked nice but it was booked and I booked a cabin, and I loosely call it a cabin. I'm in the process of working on getting our money back. The cabins are a group of rooms that are like going to camp when you are a kid. Our room had a dirty floor, hair on the bed and was generally pretty nasty. I won't go into details but I cannot recommend the cabin, they were $313 a night and not worth $69 a night. I would choose the lodge. The chicken dinners at Canyon Village in the middle area of the Village where great. The food here was excellent. $33 for two, not bad.

The next day we went up to Roosevelt after sleeping only 2 hours. I had booked a 2.5 hour horseback ride not knowing much about what I was doing. Unless you are a seasoned rider I would not recommend this. It was great, but I was not prepared to go straight up a mountain literally inches from the side. I would recommend the 1 hour ride. Our team that led us was amazing, I loved my horse Mr. Longhorn, slow and hungry as he was he was a good boy. Even though I have horses I was not used to riding for 3.5 hours...yes that is right, 3.5 hours. The 2.5 hour ride is actually 3.5 hours. My behind still hurts.
We also did the covered chuck wagon dinner, which I highly recommend but I would not recommend riding a horse to it because you will have a full belly on horse going back. Plus the guides give you so much information about Yellowstone that it's worth the money. This was about $154.00 I believe for two. Drink the Cowboy Coffee, at least taste it, best coffee ever, like mud and delicious! Very much worth it. Roosevelt is not much on food and the wait is very long. This place is old and dusty but very cool. Pack a lunch with you. We purchased some food at the gift shop or what they call General Stores and had a picnic, it was very nice. Drive out to Lamar Valley while you are here between the morning horseback ride, lunch, Lamar, and then to the Chuck Wagon for dinner. A great day!

We finished dinner around 7 and headed back to Gardiner, Mt where we stayed at the Yellowstone Village Inn (about $154 a night). So clean, simple, laundry facilities and a great price. Highly recommend. They do not have coffee in the rooms but it's in the lobby. Super friendly people, spotless simple rooms, comfy beds and a heated pool, breakfast is simple but enough, we had oatmeal, an apple and peanut butter, my husband had some toast. Great outdoor sitting spaces. It was a super respite. There is a simple grocery store down the road with anything you might need.

We got up on day 6 and headed to Bozeman with a stop at Chico Hot Springs, $8.50 for the heated mineral hot springs pools. Pack your swimsuit and flip flops and don't miss this! For two people with two rented towels it was only $19.50. What a bargain. So worth it. We enjoyed taking our time going back to Bozeman. We needed a more restful day and it's a scenic 84 miles. We stopped in at Livingston at the Wheatgrass Saloon for our juice. It was great. My husband went to a local ranch store while I stayed outside and petted the shop cat and visited with the sweetest young man, he had Downs Syndrome and he kept winking at me, smiling and talking to me, this made my day. He was such an angel. Meeting many of the sweet people and seeing the animals was really nice.

We then got into Bozeman and checked in to the C'mon Inn, went back to the Co'op for lunch, went to a local park where we walked around a pond and then to a movie and back to Montana Ale Works for dinner. We were about 10 minutes from the airport (Bozeman International). We had rented a car, a Subaru Outback for less than $500 for 7 days. The airport is small and not to busy. An hour was perfect in getting there.

We saw coyotes, elk, bison, deer, pig whistles (similar to a ground hog and so cute!), antelope, and many birds, some huge ravens and hawks. None where scared of us and they are everywhere.

The park is less than 2% developed and 98% is undeveloped. This is why the horseback ride is nice, you get to see more of the park. We had a healthy fear of bears and many had been seen so we didn't do much hiking, just walking around the park on the areas that are designated to look at the sights was a ton of walking. The animals will be very close but be careful. None where aggressive but we kept our distance. This was a trip of a lifetime. I am not sure how you would see as much if you didn't move around like we did, however this was not a restful trip, it was very active. If you are good only going to Yellow Stone I can highly recommend Gardiner as a place to stay. However if you have the time the Grand Tetons are out of this world. Some of my friends rented an Air B and B and had that as their home base. Many people told me that staying in the park was worth it. The convenience is worth it but you will pay a premium for far less amenities. Also I would recommend finding out about construction (there is a lot of roadwork in Yellowstone) and being aware of not planning to take Mountain passes at night or more than once. They are beautiful but the roads are very curvy with little to no guard rails, it's not for the faint of heart. My favorite spot was Lamar Valley and all the Bison!  Also if a road says 18 miles in Yellowstone plan on about 40 minutes to an hour, you will be driving slow due to curves, mountains, wild life and constantly stopping to take in the wonder of it all!

Enjoy.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Getting Started with Financial Freedom

I have decided to do a free financial freedom coaching or consulting via the old blog and You Tube.
So today I'm sick, my hands even hurt but my minds working well enough. The short story I want to share this for our kids. To offer help, but not in the "Here's a fish kind of help" but "Let me get you a fishing pole" kind of help.

Okay so follow along this journey if you want. I'll add VLOGS as we go (video blogs).
*Here is a link to my old You Tube Channel that has some advice on being resourceful. 



How to get started.

1. Find your Why. 

Why are you ready to change? Why do you want to learn how to get out of this darn mess. I was in a darn mess at age 33.  $1400 negative a month (that's right). Shamefully buying groceries on my credit card. I was lost. I had been debt free just a few years before and we blew it. We weren't wild spenders we just didn't have the knowledge we needed. The bank gave us a big loan for a house we couldn't afford and it ate our lunch. I was sick and tired of being broke and scared. What's your why?
Video Lesson 1

2. Write down all your bills and expenses (be honest) and your income (all of it). Make two columns. 
First how much you make and when it comes in and total that monthly. 

Example: Husband $950 every two weeks,  Wife $1000 every 2 weeks. Random in our case. Total is $3950

Then all your bills, due date, how much: House note $1250, on the 5th.
If a bill is quarterly divide it by 4 and put it in your budget.

Just look at it and add up both columns. Subtract bills from income. This is what you have leftover.
Lesson 2 Video


3. Now look at what you can slash or get rid of NEEDS VS WANTS

You don't need expensive phone plans or cable. Those are wants.
Wants can be handled later. For now get busy getting out of debt.
Lesson 3 Video

4. Go on a spending freeze: 

For the time being until you get an emergency fund make a budget for needs (food, basic transportation not joy riding) and all other spending gets frozen.
Lesson 4 Video
5. Save $1000 Emergency Fund 

Get busy selling stuff. Yard Sales, Auctions, EBay, Craigslist, Resale Shops, Facebook Marketplace, old cars to the salvage yard. Clean up your crap and get rid of it (this also has a psychological impact on you in a positive way, you start to feel lighter). Get a $1000 fast. Then ear mark it for emergencies. Your tires are not an emergency you know you have that coming up, you will now start a savings account for those types of things.
Lesson 5 Video
6. Slash your budget and use excess money to pay debt. '

If you can slash your budget by $100 then you will put your $100 towards the smallest bill. Your goal will be to get debt paid off fast. I was a follower of this method long before Dave Ramsey was preaching this but he makes it really easy to understand. I know some people don't agree with his politics or religion or whatever but regardless just take the class and get the gist of it. It's the best program out there and it works.
Here is a link to the courses:
https://www.daveramsey.com/store/product/financial-peace-university-class#in-progress=1&center=34.746481,-92.289595


7. I've already said it but I'm going to say it again. Sell everything you can and get out of debt.
YOU MAY NEED TO GET A SIDE HUSSEL, or as we old timers call it "a second job". 

You can buy it again when you can pay for it. Get rid of the expensive cars, boats, phones, cable packages. I know many of you are upside down, figure out a way to get rid of all you can. You are going to have to study on how to do this. I actually sold the fancy house for $197,000 and moved into a fixer upper for $97,000 and lived there for 15 years. You heard me. We also got used cars, sold the boat and did the work ourselves on the house and it felt damn good to be out of debt.

At times in my life I've had two or three jobs (we actually still do until our farm is paid off). I've  cleaned houses, taken in people's kids, dog sat, ran errands for money, worked a multitude of odd jobs. Right now I'm taking extra contracts and keeping my school open until I have a full years worth of living expenses paid up and our farm paid off.

One day I opened the door because my kid ordered a pizza (with money they earned) and a friend of mine was there delivering pizza (he was getting out of debt). This made me so happy! 

Get your butt to work. As Dave says "There is a place for broke people, it's called work".
Lesson 6 & 7 video

8. Maintain this idea and hang with people who support you. 
Find people who are living the same way. You will not be like the average person and they are everywhere and they are broke.
78% of Americans live pay check to pay check. You are going to be the 22%

Follow things on Instagram, Facebook, You Tube that have words like "frugal, debt free, simple living" In them. Find your people!

BE THE 22%. Link to article about 78% of Americans.

Here are some basics while you are getting out of debt and building your emergency fund up to six months.
  • Meal plan and eat at home. Have a little fun money set aside and use coupons or find specials and share.
  • Get rid of cable, rent movies from the library or get books. The library has tons of free resources and entertainment. FOR FREE! Well actually you pay taxes to use it, so do. 
  • Wear the clothes you have or buy your clothes at resale shops. If you must buy new then shop a sale but DO NOT SHOP for fun. I still buy 95% of all my clothes at resale.
  • Pack your lunch. It's also a great way to lose weight. 
  • Work out at home, take a walk, use a free app, ride your bike. The library often has free yoga. 
  • You should not have one app on your phone that isn't free until you are out of debt. 
  • Stop shopping unless you need something. 
  • Tuesday nights are usually $5 movie nights in my town. I am not saying never have fun but find the deals and stick to the budget. 
  • For meals out find the cheap places to eat or go to lunch or use a coupon. Lunch is usually 1/2 the price of dinner and 1/2 the calories. 
  • Don't shop resale, garage sales, or flea markets for fun if you are getting out of debt or trying to build your savings. Only shop when you need something. 
Video 8

9. If the emergency fund gets used go back to filling it up then restart debt pay off.

10. Once the debt is done then focus on 3 months expenses in the bank. 
If you make $4000 a month, then you will save $12,000.
Video 9 and 10

11. Pay off the mortgage and or invest in retirement. 
Here is where Dave and I differ. And it depends. At this point you have
a. no debt
b. An emergency fund that has three to six months living expenses
Dave would say put 15% in retirement. It depends on your situation and how you feel about it. Right now I have a good amount saved and my husband has police retirement. I know that with no debt we will have more than what we make now. So I am choosing to pay off the mortgage first and then start putting more into my retirement. And that's not 100% true. I am self employed so each year I ask my accountant how much I should contribute to my IRA to save money and I usually add in about $4000.
I also am not super confident in our government right now and don't feel great about the stock market.

12. Invest in retirement and then you can contribute to your kids college fund or help them with college. 
We have six kids. That's right. Three are currently in college and they get Pell Grants (some money not full), two of them get a load of scholarships and then they have to take out some loans. We pay what we can, this summer it was two summer tuition's which we paid cash for. We also pay for their car insurance and health insurance. We have also bought them all cars and we have helped at times but we also make them work for us if they need extra money. They are expected to work part time and go to college. I did and they can.

13. Help others or volunteer your time. 

When you don't have to work or retire you can give your time to others or your money to programs and people who are less fortunate and that feels good. You may be able to help your kids go through college, or help a grand child. It feels good to give.
Video Lesson 11 through 13


I will be posting videos and updating this frequently.


* So as a side note I was on this journey 7 years ago when I got a divorce. That threw me into a state of living in poverty. Still I stayed out of debt, worked harder, paid all my bills, paid off my car and lived pretty well taking care of four kids on less than $45,000. a year. The first few years I made only $27,000 but had some child support. It was hard as heck. Now my husband (I got remarried in Jan.) and I have worked up to having a 40 acre farm (that is our only debt and we have quite a lot of equity as we paid for a lot of it as we built it). I have a decent retirement account, we have six months expenses put back and a savings for large bills that come up like house insurance or tires. Things can come up and surprises and I know life is not perfect but we try, surprises and emergencies are much easier to recover from when you have an emergency fund. If we have a slip we figure it out but we don't give up.  We don't live a lavish lifestyle, we buy used items (often) from clothes to cars. We think about our purchases and we are now able to take a nice vacation (without any credit cards). Life is easier without debt and worry.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Why We Buy Rocks

This weekend I was doing some landscaping at my house with my mom and my husband. We were talking about buying edging for the gardens and I've always been partial to those little rock walls. Thinking "Well we have forty acres of rocks so that should work",  I realized that there are a lot or "rock shops" where I live that sell rocks. Yes they are easier to stack so there is that. Generally they can run between $100 a pallet to up to $900. I've actually purchased big Clinton rocks to build stairs before. Those stairs cost $900. Clinton rocks "grow" about 2 hours for me in Clinton, Arkansas.

So why am I telling you about rocks. Because I became resourceful and told my husband what I wanted to do and that man, working hard as he does, got the tractor and in 3 hours had piles of nice rocks up by my front garden beds. We will be using "Robinson" rocks off the Robinson's Ranch.

*Our cabin prior to landscaping.


We make life so complicated sometimes. One of my goals is to simplify my life and have a better quality. Moving to this big farm I have gotten where I crave it even more. I feel safe here, tucked away from the outside world of noise and crowds and consumerism. Here I feel like it's our little part of Heaven and I crave more and more time here.

Here are some of my reasons for simplifying & how I do it.

Reasons to Simplify
1. You don't have to work at a job you hate if you don't have debt.
2. You can enjoy relationships more.
3. The quality of your relationships is better when you are not stressed.
4. Having no debt brings a sense of freedom to travel or have hobbies.
5. You have time to focus on your "inner" well being as well as your overall health.
6. It gets you out of the rat race of consumerism that is never a long lasting thrill.

How to Simplify
1. Have a plan. Design your life. Where do you want to be in 1 year, 3, years, 5 years, 10 years..etc.
2. Figure out the steps to this plan. They will look something like this. Reduce bills, pay off debt (may require more work for a bit of time, short term work for long term gain), save money, work less, play more, enjoy life.
3. Have clear priorities about what you want so when you make decisions (especially financial) you can ask yourself "How does this impact my long term goals?". If you want to retire in 10 years on an average income getting a bigger house and going into more debt probably isn't part of your plan. Use your own rocks. :)
4. Get rid of the clutter, sale your stuff, pay off debt, save extra money.
5. Reduce your bills if you can. If you need to sell the boat, sell the fancy car with debt, sell the house (I've done it all for a time being then I was able to replace with cash eventually). Get rid of debt. I moved to a smaller older home (sold the one I built years ago). I drove an older paid for car. We sold the boat. Fast forward 14 years I purchased a farm, a boat, a car and built a home and we have no debt except a small mortgage that will be paid in a few short years. All because we saved and were able to pay cash.
6. Learn to meal plan, shop and cook at home. Reduce your meals out.
7. Learn to live with less clothes (This is so freeing I cannot tell you). Sell what you don't wear, buy better quality clothes (I find high quality clothes for a fraction of the price at resale shops, they are a bit nicer than thrift stores like Goodwill) that last. I bought two pairs of jeans that cost over $120 new in the past two weeks. I paid about $20 for them.
8. Think about entertainment cost. If we had good internet we would Net Flix everything but it's not possible where we live because we are limited on data so we are back to doing Red Box, even so a night at home with a Red Box DVD, homemade popcorn and smoothies cost us less than about $10 where a night out would be $50 to $100. I don't like crowds and would rather stay home with my honey and snuggle in my jammies and have my clean bathroom. :)
9. Daily you can make choices to help you save. If you meal plan you can cut a lot off your bill. If you buy breakfast at McDonald's every day for $6 a day every  week x a month this is $180 a month, if you eat at home for $1.00 to $2.00 (easy with oatmeal or eggs and toast) you are spending $30 to $60, you have saved $150 to $120 a month. In a year you are talking about $1800 saved! And people wonder where their money goes. It's about 5 choices a day like this. You feel it in your bank account. If I buy
$100 a month ($1200)  in retail clothing versus $200 every 6 months in resale clothing (and probably better quality) I have saved $800 a year! Recently I saw a woman on You Tube figure that making little choices like this each year saves her $14,000 a year. Seriously folks you can buy a good used car for that or pay off some serious debt.

Hope this helps. It really is the little things when it comes to money. Every once in a while you can save big like when I sold my house of 14 years and paid off my car and socked away a bunch of money. On a day to day basis you are faced with many chances to save that really add up.


Much Love,
Courtney


Thursday, July 5, 2018

How to Make a Net Zero Purchase

What does Net Zero Purchasing mean?

So I had this little happy accident when I put limits on my buying an spending for one year. If you follow me on my YouTube Channel, Facebook, or here you know I made a pact to not spend money on clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry or books for one year. Through this I discovered the net zero purchase, which is when the money you spend on something equals or is less than the money you received for that same type of item. 

Here is how it works. This year I made a caveat to my challenge. I could not buy these things unless I sold the same type of item and earned the money for it. So if I sold $11 worth of books I could spend $11 on books. I indeed spent 9.99 on a magazine and .99 cents on an ebook. 
On clothing I've been doing this for years but never really thought to much about it. I sell my clothes to a resale shop and get a credit that I can either cash in for a check or use in the store. I use the credit to buy new to me clothes. 

I've been thinking of doing this with my car. So my car is only three years old and I'm known to drive a car for a long time. However I've put almost 100,000 miles on my car in three years due to a crazy work life. I'm now considering driving my car two more years, saving the money I would spend on a payment and then selling my car and using that money to buy a new to me car. If I spend the amount of money I sell the car for then it is Net Zero. If I use the money I saved plus the money I sell the car for it is not Net Zero but I will have no debt. 
Recently we purchased a 2009 Camry with 50,000 miles on it for a second car for my husbands business. We paid $8000 cash for the car. 
If I sell my car for $10,000 in 2 years (now it's worth about $16,000) and I save $7320. Then I could spend a total of $17,320 for a new to me used car with low miles. Or I could choose to spend $10,000 on an even older car with less miles. 

How can you apply this in you daily life?
Well you can apply the examples I've given above or similar examples but also think about the hours you work in a week.
If you make $20 an hour and you spend $800 a week, that is similar except you need to have some savings for when big things come up. 
Start thinking about would I work this long for this item? If you want a pair of shoes and they cost $200 but you can find a similar pair for $60 or another pair at a nice resale shop for $20. Then you either work 1 hour, 3 hours, or 10 hours for that pair of shoes. Applying this to your purchases will help you keep your priorities in check. 

You can also barter for services. I will sometimes barter my services for hour for hour cost of someone else's services. $60 of yoga for $60 of massage. 

Living a Net Zero life and having savings and no debt will get you to a life of Financial Freedom which means being able to choose your work and how you live your life. You will be free of being a slave to the lender and have more control over your choices. 

5 Tips for Net Zero Purchasing
1. Grow food and barter for other folks who grow food.
2. Barter your services for other's services in dollar value.
3. Sale your clothes and use that money to buy new clothes.
4. Sale your books on Ebay and buy new books on Ebay.
5. Sale your jewelry, sunglasses and purses and buy new to you similar items at resale shops. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Free and Frugal Things to do in Hot Springs, Ar.




Last night I was looking over my old blog from about ten years ago and an article I wrote on visiting Hot Springs for under $20 a day per person. Coming home yesterday I was thinking of all the things I like to do in my hometown that don't cost much and how I should share with others. So here is my updated list.

When I have people come visit there are many things I share with them that are not on your local websites because there is so much beauty around Hot Springs. Here is my quick list.


  1. The Stueart Pennington Memorial Running of the Tubs, the bath tub races are free and so much fun. This community event was thought up by my late step father and runs every spring or early summer. https://www.facebook.com/RunningoftheTubs/
  2. Hike: Go to the visitors center for maps. Hot Springs has more trails than you could ever imagine for those who tire easy to the adventure seeker. My favorite hike is the trail at Lake Catherine to the falls. There are trails downtown, trails at Lake Catherine, Degray, Ouachita and more.
  3. Go swimming at a local beach. My favorite beach is in Hot Springs Village, Balboa beach,  but you will need to be a guest or get a day pass to go. It's so clean and nice. I feel like I'm in Florida when I am there. 
  4. The Village also has amazing hiking trails. 
  5. Downtown you can walk the Promenade, visit the Fordyce Bath House (My dad gives tours here), walk bathhouse row, visit the park at Arlington Lawn, stick your hands in the Hot Springs, and remember to bring your glass water bottles and jugs. Hot and cold springs abound and the water is free. Go to the visitors center for a map of the springs. 
  6. Take a drive to Hot Springs and West Mountain located in downtown! This is free, beautiful and fun. 
  7. Have a picnic at the Gorge, also part of the National Park and free.
  8. Go swim at one of the many beaches at Lake Ouachita.
  9. It's not free but you have to eat so pick up lunch and beef jerky at "Burls' Country Store" when visiting the beaches at Lake Ouachita.
  10. Visit the local library. Need a cool place to take a bathroom break, rest, check your email, check out our local library. It's fantastic. The kids library is amazing and everyone can enjoy a little quite time. They also offer lots of free events from Blue Grass Music to movie night. 
  11. Tuesdays is $5 movie night and cheap popcorn and cokes at the Cinema 10 in HS. Our movie theaters are not truly that up to date but they do the job and they are clean and friendly. You will need to give your phone and email to get the movie pass. 
  12. Flea market shop. Hot Springs has lots of great flea markets and antique shops. Google and visit for cheap take a ways for home. 
  13. When my kids were little we food packed when we traveled. It would be worth your while to rent a house, condo or hotel with a kitchen. Pack your food or visit our local Health Food Store "Good Earth" and pick up food, salads, soup, and goodies. Eat lunch and dinner at home and get lunch out. Lunch is much cheaper than dinners in Hot Springs. Places that have lunch specials that are good are La Hacienda, Rolando's, Hunan's, Cracker Barrel, and I am sure there are more but these are some good ones. I love Pho Hoang My, it's  great for dinner and very inexpensive. At La Hacienda I would recommend sharing the La Hacienda Nacho's. Cracker Barrel is also pretty good and inexpensive and has something for everyone. 
  14. We have many great city parks as well. My favorite is Energy Park for walking, fishing, and playing on the playground. Hollywood park is amazing too. 
  15. Visit Lake Charlton outside of Hot Springs. It's a cold spring and has waterfalls, picnic areas and ice cold water perfect for a hot southern day. 

Please feel free to ad to this list and thank you for reading! 

Monday, April 30, 2018

My Previous Single Life Retirement Plan

So I was proofing my own blog and had the thought that some people may see my "Retirement Plan' blog and think "Well yeah you are married with two incomes of course you can do it". However, I was on this plan to retire by 55 before I got married. Prior to Jim and I getting married we were both raising teens and or had kids in college living at home. It was tough, really tough. I still had a retirement plan even though my average income with spousal support and child support was less than $45,000 a year and that was with me working two jobs, working about sixty hours a week.

Here is what it looked like.

I had a car, one debt, and owed my lawyer enough to buy a nice used car within 18 months of my divorce. I also had a house payment that was more than about 40% of my income. I wanted to keep the house until all my kids had graduated high school.

What was my plan and how did that feed into where I am now.

Year one as a single parent I was flat broke, we purchased nothing and I simply paid my bills monthly praying for money for the next month. I took every job I could and marketed my business as much and as cheaply as I could.

Year two through four: I grew my business and took a big loss on the way. During this time I paid off my car with the profit from my business, paid off my lawyer and paid off that debt. In total it was over $34,000 in four years. I am not actually sure how I did it to be honest, I just put my head down and paid it and every time I had a surplus I paid on debt. During that time I put $100 a month in my IRA, and was very frugal.

Year 5: I sold my car and made about $10,000 total. *I forgot to mention I was able to help two of my kids buy cars for about $2500. With my $10000, I used $5000 to make some repairs to my house and put $5000 down on a new car with a warranty. I do not recommend buying new cars, my situation was this. My job had put me traveling and I needed a car that was reliable and could get through bad weather and made me feel safe. I often found myself driving through rural country so I decided to get a slightly used Outback. When I got to the dealership the used Outbacks were more than a new Crosstrek. I purchased the Crosstrek and put $5000 down, I've paid extra on it for three years and now only owe $11000. It will be paid off soon with the sell of my house and that is my only debt. I haven't regretted it because it has saved me on some dirt roads and creeks in Arkansas and Mississippi and through some storms and slick roads. The peace of mind has been worth it. My payment is also far less than I could afford and it has never hurt. MPG is almost double my previous car and insurance is the same. Effectively it's cost me $150 a month more to drive the newer car. The peace of mind has been worth it. I always new it would be paid off early.

Year 5 through 7: I stayed debt free besides the car, got another contract job. I'm basically killing myself working right now and trying to get to a point where I don't have to do this.

So...the point was "Retirement Single" where I was and where I would be if I was still single.

I would be at this time, seven years in:
1. Have a house for sale with the plan to move into a much smaller and cheaper house. *I had found one I wanted for $94,000 which would have put my payment after the down less than $500 a month with taxes and insurance.
2. I would have paid off my car with the sell of the house.
3. I would probably continue to work as hard as I am now because my focus has shifted to being with my husband.
4. My expenses are more with my husband because we live on a big farm. I would have had 1/2 of that with my son and I. I'm happy with where I am but this would have been the difference.
5. I would have probably been driven by need and worry to be quite frank to continue to work hard and save more and more so that I could still "Choose" my work by 55. My wants, needs and desires have changed since getting married.

If I was single on $40,000 a year it would look like this after the sale of the house.
After taxes $2900 a month.
1. House payment with taxes and insurance: $500
2. No other debt
3. Continue to contribute to an IRA and maybe even more.
4. Build an Emergency Fund up to thee months, six months and then one year.
5. I'd work on paying extra on the house note to pay it off early.
6. Utilities and wife: $300 (I would not have cable only Roku)
7. Health, auto and life insurance. I was getting free insurance when I was single, I imagine it would stay that way, auto is $80 a month and life was about $18 total less than $100.
8. Food $500 (I am obsessive about eating healthy)
9. Gas is covered and phone with my business expenses, actually so is car insurance.

MY total house payment, utilities and food would be about $1300 at the high end.
My car insurance, health insurance, phone, and wifi would actually come out as a tax deduction and off the top.
I would have approx $1600 left to pay on house and save and would probably use a little extra to help my kids and buy things I need or want.

You don't need a lot when you keep your expenses low and get out of debt. Debt is killing Americans. 50% of Americans cannot come up with $400 for an emergency.

If you are struggling look into a Dave Ramsey plan today. Change your mind set. Google Financial Freedom, watch You Tube videos. There are tons of people out there on $30,000 with no debt getting by comfortably. It's all about patience, mindset and being creative.

Love and Light,
C

Sunday, April 29, 2018

My Five Year Retirement Plan

Today I told someone I wanted to retire in five years. That's the first time I have said it out loud. Actually for many years I knew I wanted to retire by fifty five and I feel like I am on my way to doing that, but I've been on this track for seven years now. Now don't get me wrong retirement for me does not mean not working it means not having to work and choosing my work. By nature I am a creative entrepreneurial type person. Since I was a teenager I've been working as a contractor or doing my own business. Early on at the age of 15 I was doing contract modeling jobs  and bartering hair cuts and color for pictures in those hair magazines. In my early twenties I started a pet sitting, plant watering, check the mail business and then went on to have an essential oil blending company before it was cool back in the early nineties. I served over fourteen stores with that little business making bath salts and oils in my kitchen.
As my kids became toddlers I had to let that go and cleaned houses, something I had done off and on since I was fourteen. Until I sat down to write this I didn't really realize that I've pretty much always had a side gig, or what we used to call a second job! At thirty I started teaching yoga as a contractor, at thirty seven I opened a yoga school (back in 2008) and today, ten years later,  I still own that business. During all of this I was often an employee for long stretches of time (part time usually) and always had my own business. I ceased being an employee in 2012. For the past six years I've been solely self employed. Why am I giving you all this information? Because my point is that there is always a way to make extra money. Look around at what people need and match your talents with that or simply find something you don't mind doing or you are good at and do it on the side. The hard part is being self motivated when you don't feel like working. If this is you then you might need to actually find a second job for a while as an employee. Making money usually happens more so when you are not the employee but the owner.

So my five year plan is actually a plan I've had since I was forty and I'm now 47, so it's more like a 12 year plan. At age forty, broke, divorced and the mother of four surly teens I decided "I am going to retire at 55" or at least I will be able to choose the work I do and when I do it.

Before I go any further I would like you to know that I started this plan when I was making less than $17,000 a year, and my now husband wasn't making much more. We both were going through divorces and job changes. I paid off all my debts prior to marriage (except my home) with less than $40,000 a year in income.

The plan is simple.
1. Pay off all debts including the house.
2. Have plenty saved and live off some of the interest and side work as I choose.
3. Now that I am married my timeline has gotten smaller, my husband retires in five years and we will live mostly on his retirement which should be around $3000 a month. Not much for some people I know but let me tell you how that will work here in a few...stay with me.
4. Upgrade to two newer cars with low mileage within the next five years that will last a good long time.

1. Now we will have the car and tractor paid off by this fall when we sell my house in town.
Our income varies greatly but we have been working hard and have both grown our businesses at a good rate and based on the past three years we should be able to pay the farm off in 2 to 4 years. We borrowed only what we needed and paid for cash as we built it as much as we could, therefor we have a lot of equity right now. We also got it to bank satisfaction and closed the loan. We could have borrowed more but we chose to pay for finishing the farm as we worked and had cash. So six months after we moved in we just got a driveway! Next is staining the outside, then hopefully landscaping, we will pay cash.

2. We should be able to save one years income within the next two years (I have a good start on it) and still pay off everything.  We live on about 1/2 our income the rest goes to savings and debt.

3. I have a decent IRA and Jim has retirement and Social Security. I put about $1200 to $1500 a year in my IRA (my focus is more on debt freedom than the IRA).

4.  We should be able to save enough to buy two newer cars within five years.

I'm not going to give all the figures here but suffice it to say that Jim and I make less than $85,000 a year with two incomes. I drive a three year old Subaru and he drives a 14 year old Ford.
We live within our means and don't spend a lot of money.
It's really simple, we just don't spend. We always ask ourselves "Is this a need or a want?". Sometimes we allow ourselves a want but we keep our goal in mind.
We rarely buy new clothes, jewelry, or much of anything else.
Most of our money goes to taking care of our farm and our animals and food. Some goes to medical expenses as needed.
We have a gym membership and use if often, it's only $45 a month for both of us.
We have satellite T.V. and I hope to convince him to do an antenna and ROKU once our contract is up, at that our satellite is only $60 a month.
We often choose our spending around tax deductions since we own businesses. If we need to travel we try to make it around something we can do for business so we can take a deduction.
We also pay for many of our expenses out of our deductions like a large part of miles we drive (by combining trips with work trips). Need to go to Office Depot for work, get personal stuff done there too.


So by the time Jim is 65 and I am 53 we should be debt free and have a good savings with a couple of years of income in the bank plus and IRA and retirement.
He will get approx $3000 a month.
Interest on the savings will sit there and accrue we shouldn't need it.
I'll likely go to part time and still earn about $1500 a month (I am a contractor so I can pick and choose but I'll be pickier) If I need off I'll take off. My book sales (I am an author of one published book at this time and several others in the works) should generate some income and I'm working now on passive income with online material (building a store with my many years of materials from my work). This will allow me to still contribute to Social Security.


Income when we turn 65/ 53: Cowboy and Me = $4500

Utilities (Electric, Propane, Water) $175
Wifi and TV = 170 (We live in the country wifi is ridiculous)
Health Insurance = $675 *Hoping I can get cheaper when Jim goes on Medicare.
Homeowners Insurance and Taxes = $200 a month (we will pay yearly)
Car insurance = $150 a month (we pay twice a year)
Total = $1370

We also currently have
House cleaner = $200 per month (I may do this myself)
Food at home =$600  I hope to grow more and can and freeze
Fun and Food out = $200 (I am not sure we spend this much now)
Gas $300 (should be even less if we are not working)
Total = $1300

Total is $2670 a month for everything.
If we want clothes or anything else this shouldn't be a problem. I like to figure out ways to save money.
This will leave us with a surplus of $1730 a month (We will likely save so that I can eventually not need to make an income by age 59.5 when I can draw off my IRA).
Saving money is like a sport/ hobby to me. I get a thrill out of finding ways to do things frugally. It's especially exciting to me to get something of high quality at a thrift store or save for it and buy it on sale. I know it's geeky but being free of debt is pretty cool.

In the event something happened to one of us we would have the option of selling part of our 40 acre farm and having a much smaller home (Right now we are at about 1700 sq feet).
With a surplus of $1730 a month this should allow us to save enough to replace appliances, repair cars and make repairs on the house. When I turn 62 If we need it I can draw off my SS and IRA.
I will continue to put money into my IRA for as long as we have extra money. My hope is to max it out over the five years so that when I turn 59.5 I can draw off of it and that should give me an extra $1500 a month or so.


I would like to add here some ways I save money and intend to save more money.

1. Go to the library instead of buying more books.
2. Cook from scratch at home.
3. Be happy with less stuff.
4. Buy quality and make it last.
5. Clean up and reuse what I already have (like fixing a pair of shoes or painting a lawn chair).
6. Buying a good clean used car with very low miles when we upgrade.
7. Taking care of what we own.
8. Keeping things clean.
9. Utilize deals like gift cards, coupons, and discounts (when you are in a hurry you often don't do this).
10. Grow more of our own food.

Hope my plan helps some of you all. I would like to add that we would like to do some travel, though we live on a beautiful farm and truthfully don't like leaving to often. If we travel we will save and pay cash and most likely we will travel about two weeks at a time three to four times a year.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Tons of Money Saving Tips

So it's about six weeks into my Resourcefulness Challenge and I can see it in our bank account and I also feel happier. My creativity is growing at a massive rate. Things shift when you impose limitations, limitations can be an amazing tool to help you grow. 

Here's much of what has happened over the past few weeks.
There are tips here to help you save money, make money and build wealth, be financially free from debt and enjoy your life more. 

What would life be like if you didn't have to worry so much about money?
Here is how we do it. 


Love and Light,
Courtney

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Have Money Trouble? Start Here.

Do you struggle to make ends meet?
Do you feel like you will never get ahead?
There are basics for anyone to follow and you can empower yourself.
Let me show you how here.

Video Part 1

The basics are :

1. Make a list of everything you make each month and all your bills and expenses: Include rent, mortgage, insurance, food, gas, pet care, utilities, absolutely everything. This is the first and most important step. 2 columns 1 for each.
2. Assess Needs Vs Wants: Food, Shelter, basic clothing, medicine, enough gas to get to work those are needs. Beyond that not much is a need. Be real with yourself. I once had to find homes for two of my dogs because I could not afford them after a divorce. It was hard but had to be done. Get rid of all expenses that are not needs. Cut off cable, etc...
3. Tell your money where to go.  That's all a budget is. In column one put down all your expenses on the left side, then make four or five columns for each week of the month, or two if you get paid twice a month. Under each column at the top put down your total income for that pay period, underneath list the bills that have to be paid. Subtract the bills from the income and what is left over is the money you have for food/gas/ savings/fun.
4. Time to Create an Emergency Fund Fast: Sell stuff , use you tax return, do what you have to do to get $1000 in the bank for Emergencies only. Needing tires is a planned expense not an emergency.
Once you have one you don't have emergencies because the money is there. Leave it alone unless there is an emergency like your car breaks down or you need to go to the emergency room.
5. Sell Stuff to pay bills: If you are strapped then start looking at what you have and sell what you don't need. Have you looked at Swap Shop online lately? I swear people will buy anything. Clothes, coffee pots, juicers, etc... get some money fast to help you get ahead. I sale my clothes at the resale shop and use the credit to buy things I need. Meet people at the Police Station Parking lot and have someone with you for safety if possible.
6. Get another job. There has been little time in my life when I did not have two jobs. Look at your schedule and get out there and work nights or weekends. If you already work nights and weekends find some time and work extra until you get ahead. It can be done.
7. Meal plan. This is a huge savings. If you make a pot of chili one week you can eat four or five meals off of that. Get stuff for sandwiches. There is a 300% markup on food. Eating at home saves a ton. Also make food from scratch. If you don't know how start with breakfast foods, sandwiches, and basics like spaghetti and tacos. Then check out a library book and learn to do some basic cooking. Eat leftovers and pack your meals and snacks. Avoiding going out to eat as much as possible.
8. If you need something check out Goodwill or a Resale Shop. Don't go just to go but if you need a coffee maker and you are broke chances are Goodwill has one for under $10 vs $30 at Walmart. Be smart.
9. Do not use pay here places for appliances or cars. This is what keeps poor people poor.
The cost of a used washer and drier is anywhere from $100 to $300, a new one is three times that. Going to a Rent a place, will cost you as much as 5 to 10 x the value of the item. If you have  a washer and drier on monthly at $25 for two years by the time you pay that off you have paid $2400 for something that would have cost you $600. Ridiculous. I once sold a van and I regretted it. I saw one at a tote the note place but I had cash. The cost of that van was 3 x the value because that's how they trap poor people. As soon as you get a tax return that's the time to find a car for sale by an individual and buy it.

Video 2, when to look for another job

Video 3: Save over $600 a month, want to know how, words on meal planning and shopping for things cheap.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Why I am so Obsessed with Resourcefulness

You hear a lot these days about "story telling" and let me tell you I am about some stories. I love stories. I love to hear about people and their stories and I like to know people's "Why".  Why do you do what you do. If you don't know your why it's really hard to be successful in what you are doing and meet your goals.
Why do I write this blog on resourcefulness and why I have written blogs, taught classes, hosted and created large events on the subject, started groups, created book clubs and written hundreds of entries on the subject when I don't have to do it.
Here is "MY WHY?".

There is no way I could begin to tell you all the reasons I am so passionate about this but I'll try with a list of 5. My main "Why" Is I would like other people to be happy! Being of service makes me happy and when you can figure things out on your own you are happier and feel more confident. I think this may be my mission in life to share the gift of being resourceful.

1.  Being Resourceful helps you make friends: Being a child raised by grandparents and divorced parents I became very adaptable. I was also an only child until I got a bonus sister at 21. I learned to resourcefully entertain myself with whomever was available, be it senior citizens, my dads fishing buddies, or whatever stray animal would let me drag it around. I would talk to anyone, go fishing with a my dad and his buddies, or hang out with a cat in barn. This has made me learn to get along with all kinds of people.

2. Being Resourceful helps you learn new things:I read to learn things. You can learn so many things from books and online. Reading on my own has probably taught me more than I learned in all my years of school. I've taught myself to cook, clean, raise children, handle money, and learned a ton about my craft. Nowadays I love to watch tutorials and learn from videos as well.

3. Being Resourceful give you confidence: I can go to my closet right now and find something to wear for almost any occasion no money required, and I don't have a ton of stuff.  I can figure out something to take to a potluck most likely without having to even go to the store (I can make bean dip out of a bag of dried beans) because I know how to cook.

4. Being Resourceful helps you find keep a roof over your head. Though I have a great career now I know that no matter what happens I can very likely find a job and chances are I could find a place to live and a way to survive. Why because I am not afraid to ask people if they have a job, know of a job, have work I can do, a place to stay, etc..... I have no problem asking questions and you need to know what and how to ask those questions. I know that my connections in life are important. I've cleaned houses, watched peoples pets, taken care of babies and children, answered phones, kept books and done all kinds of things because I needed a job. No job is beneath me. I would do what I had to do to eat and care for my family.

5. Being resourceful builds self esteem as you learn how to do things in clever and new ways and to make things work with little resources. When my kids were little we were on a government subsidy called WIC, a food voucher program. My ex and I were both in college and we were struggling with three kids. I learned how to cook every possible thing with what they provided. I made it my mission to feed my kids well with that food and we did. We did not have health insurance for some time and I took my kids to the Health Dept for shots and check ups and I also went there for my care. Humiliated? No because I knew it wasn't forever and I was not to proud to take care of my kids. Eventually we wouldn't need it but I did what I had to do to get out of poverty. You do what you have to do to care for your family and you hold your head high. Doing all of this made me realize I have the grit to do what has to be done even when it's hard and that makes me proud. And I never, never took it for granted. I was thankful to be able to find what I need. I always dressed my kids in clean clothes and kept what we had clean even though it may not have been new or the best we always looked kept and never did I allow us to look pitiful no matter if I only had a $1 in my account.


My kids are grown now and three of them are out of the house. They have watched me their whole lives food pack, budget, and take care of them even when things were tight. Now I don't have to do that as much, it's more of a choice now but my kids have those skills and that is so important to me. The other day Cole told me he needed two pair of jeans, one for work and one for daily wear. He said "I realized that at work I really didn't need anything fancy, just something without holes so I went through all my old jeans and found some that I could get by with and save the $70 cost of a new pair of Levi's." My heart was so proud. I knew I had done a good job.