Our Debt Snowball – August

8 months = $18,412.37 in debt paid off

In January of this year we started our Debt Snowball, partially following Dave Ramsey’s method.  To see the beginning of our journey click here.  This was the year that we hoped to find our home, so by paying down our existing debt we knew we would be able to afford more house.

We are still on Step 2, which can last for months, even years.  During this step,  you make a list of all of your debts from smallest to largest.  You don’t pay attention to interest rates or anything other than total pay off amount.  Then, you tackle the smallest debt first.  You make the minimum payment on everything except for that smallest debt.  On the smallest debt you scrounge around and scrub your budget, every extra dollar gets put onto that debt, until it is paid off in full.  Once you have tackled one, then you move on to the second smallest debt.

In these past 8 months we have been able to pay off 2 student loans, 2 credit cards and a car loan.  Let’s just reflect on that for a minute…5 monthly payments eliminated!  Some months we are able to contribute more, other months are tight and we contribute very little.  But every small bit adds up, so it still feels good.

This month we contributed $1,855 to the debt snowball and then added an additional $2,000 from savings.  Normally we don’t tap into our savings since that is our house down payment, but this month was a little different.

Since it has been 8 months, and we are starting to get serious about starting our house search again, it was time to re-evaluate our current monthly payments.  After checking in with our balances, I realized that what we were currently putting the “snowball” towards was not the smallest balance.  We had a student loan, which had a monthly payment of $262, with only a $2,753 balance left.  By taking the money out of savings, we were able to eliminate that loan completely, meaning that monthly we are now adding $262 into our snowball.

Now that we have re-evaluated what the balances of our remaining debts are, we have a new game plan of what to attack first.  But again, let’s reflect.  We have eliminated 5 debts!  We have paid off $18,412 in debt!  It’s amazing and rewarding to see it working.  Each month we see that amount grow and grow and it becomes that much more motivating.

September will be a tricky one for us.  My husband returns to work after labor day, with a 3 week unpaid hiatus.   He is also returning to a job that does not pay as much as his previous monthly income.  But we are rolling with it, and reminding ourselves that even if we only contribute a little bit each month, it is getting us that much closer to financial freedom.  At least until we sign that mortgage!

Some tips we like to remember when times are tight:

  1. Eat at home instead of in restaurants
  2. Make meal plans so we are spending less and using all of the food we purchase
  3. Pack our lunches for work
  4. After receiving a paycheck pay all the bills upfront that are due before the next pay period to avoid annoying late fees or over draft fees
  5. Only use our bank ATM’s to avoid transaction fees
  6. Eliminate credit card charges, use only cash on hand.  If we don’t have it, then we can’t afford it!
  7. Maintain our $1,000 emergency fund for true emergencies
  8. Make a budget and stick to it!

8 months = $18,412.37 in debt paid off

Stuff I like Sunday

We are throwing it way back for an edition of “Stuff I like Sunday”!  This is not a sponsored post, but may contain affiliate links.

While on vacation I was finally able to read some books for pleasure.  I read and really enjoyed The Lovely Bones.  I’m interested to see the movie now, as it also received fairly good reviews.  Any time that there is a movie based off of a book I like to try reading the book first, we will see how this one lives up to the real story!

Once I finished the Lovely Bones I have just started begun It Starts with Food.  Even though we just finished our first Whole30 (check out our thoughts here) we never actually read the book.  I’m excited to dig into it now and see if I learn anything else new and interesting.

Even though we are done with the Whole30 I am loving keeping up with our Banana, coconut milk and almond butter smoothies.  They taste too good to be that healthy!

There are two apps that we are loving.  The first one is called Meal Planner, and we just have the free version.  It lets me create our meals for the week, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.  I can then create shopping lists and share the menu.  During the Whole30 this was especially great because I was able to just email the week of meals to my husband and he had easy access on his phone for what to expect.

The second app I’m loving is a puzzle game called “Six!”.  It’s mindless, challenging, and fun!

Currently we are also loving the TV show “The Night Of” which we stream through HBO Go.  This week is the season finale, I don’t want it to end!  It was the perfect amount of suspense and mystery.  And we already love crime shows, so it was great.

My sister and I also recently gave each other a gift subscription to BirchBox.  I’ve received 2 of my 3 boxes and have enjoyed a few products out of each box.  It’s exciting to receive something in the mail and be surprised by what it contains.  It’s also a great way to try new products before committing to paying full price.

What are you currently loving?

 

Life after the Whole30

If you checked out the last post here, you will have seen that we successfully completed our first Whole30!  I managed to loose 11 pounds, and my husband lost 14.  I personally never stepped foot into a gym, I didn’t alter my routine at all, I just changed what I ate.  Focusing on whole foods, fresh produce, and little to no ingredients clearly made a huge difference.  But it also wasn’t super easy.  Here is a list of some of our Pros, Cons and tips for anything thinking about starting their first Whole30!

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Our Personal Pros:

  • Opened our eyes to sneaky ingredients in processed food
  • Reading lables taught us to look for ingredients rather than just number of calories or amount of protein.
  • Better eating habits, including making time to have 3 well rounded meals a day
  • Branching out and trying new foods (and surprisingly liking them!)
  • Cut down on mindless snacking
  • Threw out less “forgotten” food in the refrigerator
  • Almost completely eliminated the expenses we were spending eating out or grabbing take-out.
  • Gained a new appreciation for high quality food and being healthy
  • We felt “healthier”
  • Having a meal plan and sticking to it saved us time and $$.  I didn’t have to worry about whether or not we had the right ingredients.  After a long day at work I didn’t have to wonder what I could possibly throw together for a meal.  It eliminated the need to make multiple trips to the grocery store, again saving us time and $$.
  • Time spent together.  We spent more time shopping and cooking together, and generally had dinner together each night.
  • Weight loss

Our Personal Cons:

  • Expensive Grocery Bill – organic produce, free range and grass fed..$$$
  • Food prep is time consuming!  After a 12 hour work day and an hour commute home thinking about being in the kitchen for another extended period of time was hard.
  • Feeling restricted when visiting family (a family cookout and birthday party were harder and full of temptations)
  • Some meals got boring after a while, you can only have eggs so many days in a row for breakfast!
  • Brian felt the lack of carbs when he would workout and then spend a full day at a very physically demanding job.  Meals were not as filling for him.
  • I was disappointed not to see the most common benefits such as more energy and better sleep at night.
Whole30 Lunch
Our plates were colorful and our meals were delicious!

Our Tips:

If you’re thinking about giving the Whole30 a try, or if you’ve done one before and you’re looking to mix things up we found a lot of these helpful:

  • Check out the website!  There is a really useful shopping list, restaurant guide, substitutions and recipe suggestions.
  • Follow Whole30 on Instagram and/or facebook.  They often have guests posting, who are regular people just like us, who offer great recipe suggestions, motivation and real life stories.  Having a network is especially helpful if you are trying to Whole30 alone!
  • Make a meal plan.  I can’t say this enough.  It saved us so many trips to the grocery store which wastes time and $$
  • Prepare as much ahead of time as possible.  Cook a big batch of something that can be used in multiple meals.  Cut all your veggies so salad assembly is easy.  Pack your lunch the night before.  Seriously, it makes a BIG difference.
  • Keep yourself busy so you’re not always focused on food.  If you have a quiet weekend at home, get up and go for a walk or make plans.  Sitting in the house thinking about snacking can be a huge let down.
  • Have the willpower to be around food you cannot have and still be able to turn it down.  Instead focus on what you CAN have.  It will help you stay on track while being around family and friends without the same restrictions.  If you can’t resist your urges, avoid those situations as much as possible.
  • Get people to join you!  There is a force in numbers, the more support you have, the easier you will find it.  You can swap recipe suggestions and get together for meals knowing that you are not alone.

Whole30 Days 27-30!

The last horrah!  We made it to the end…more on that later.  I again only took pictures of new or interesting meals, but take a look at what our last 4 days consisted of:

Day 27:

7.31 Whole30 breakfast
Fruit Salad and scrambled eggs with Pesto. Got the green eggs…just missing the ham!
7.31 Whole30 Dinner
Salisbury Steak, Green Beans with Balsamic Vinegar and Mashed Potatoes with Ghee

Day 28:

8.1 Whole30 Snack
First day of August and my office A/C is so frigid that I broke down and needed a mid-day hot coffee. Still struggling to drink it black, but I’m getting used to the taste.
8.1 Whole30 Dinner
Homemade taco seasoning simmered with beef, topped with salsa and guacamole inside a lettuce wrap

Day 29:

8.2 Breakfast
Breakfast on the go…banana, cashew larabar and ice water.
8.2 Whole30 Dinner2
Perusing the natural aisle we found a new brand to try, frozen spinach cakes. Brian loved them, I thought they were only ok.
8.2 Whole30 Dinner
Spinach cakes, compliant bacon, turkey meat sautéed with green peppers and sweet onions.

Day 30:

8.3 Whole30 Breakfast
Almond Butter, Banana and coconut milk smoothie with a side of fresh strawberries
8.3 Whole 30 Dinner
Stir fry with peppers, onion, broccoli, beef with a Tahini sauce dressing. Organic sweets and beats on the side.

We did it!  We made it!  We survived!  30 days was hard work…but it paid off.  First thing I splurged on was an iced coffee with cream and sugar…boy did I miss that!

Overall I lost 11 pounds and my husband lost 14.  I never once stepped foot into a gym…I didn’t do anything differently other than change my diet.  I think that is pretty impressive!  

Come back later this week for our overall impression and tips.  And if you’re participating we would love to hear your best practices as well!

Whole30 Days 20-26

As we rounded the home stretch to our first Whole30 I made my biggest mistake.  No weekly meal plan.  It resulted in last minute trips to various grocery stores, repeat meals and panicking at the last minute trying to throw something compliant together for a meal.  I learned my lesson!  In order to really follow the Whole30 you have to have a plan in place, it saves so much time, so much money, and really helps mentally prepare yourself for the coming week.

Here are some of our meals:

7.22 Whole30 Breakfast
Breakfast of fried eggs, fresh fruit and a tall glass of water

My newest favorite kitchen gadget is the mandolin I received for my birthday.  It makes perfect french fries, my most favorite food ever!  I could have eaten just a plate of french fries alone for a meal!

Whole30 French Fries
The mandolin makes the perfect french fries, we baked them in the oven to make them Whole30 compliant!
Whole30 French Fries
Potatoes sliced by the mandolin and tossed in light olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, basil, salt, pepper and a little bit of paprika. Baked to perfection in the oven
Whole30 Brunch
We re-fried left over potato medley and topped them with 2 poached eggs and complaint “faux” hollandaise sauce. A side of compliant bacon made the perfect Brunch.
Whole30 DInner
Turkey burgers topped with pineapple, mango salsa, avocado oil chips and broccoli
Whole30 Breakfast
Smoked Salmon was the perfect breakfast addition when I needed a break from eggs. I had this with a side of fresh fruit and was good to go!
Whole30 Dinner
Back to the oven baked French Fries, because they were that good! More broccoli and a perfectly grilled steak.
Whole30 Restaurant Dinner
One of the rare times we’ve braved going to a restaurant…ice burg lettuce, grilled chicken, apples and dried cranberries. Dressing on the side.
Whole30 Dinner zoodles
Back to the zoodles! We have had so so so much zucchini on this diet
Whole30 lunch
Quick stop at Whole Foods, well balanced salad with avocado dressing and a cold pressed grapefruit juice. Perfection.

Stay tuned for our last 4 days, and what our final results end up being!