How are you all today? I am doing well. The crazy busy holiday season at work has slowed down some. Although, there's still some mess that we're trying to clean up from that. I also have inventory coming up at the end of this week. That means I will literally be working from 9 p.m. on Friday until 6 a.m. on Saturday counting things. I'll be super tired....but then I won't have to work again till the following Monday.
Okay, so one of my BIG goals for this year is create a home management binder that I can record all my finances, goals etc. I really need to get my budget under control this year. I don't overspend. I always live within my means, but I'm not a good saver. So I'm getting better at that this year. Plus, my BIG BIG goal is to really make a dent in paying off my student loans.
It may take me awhile, but once I pay off student loans and my car, I'll be completely and totally 100% debt free :) I'll be blogging about that more specifically soon, because it's on my heart to do that as a way to motivate myself, keep myself accountable and hopefully encourage others that no matter where you're at financially, there is always something you can do, even if it's just a small step (like using a cash envelope system) to improve your financial situation.
Why am I doing this? I want to be able to give big and to give without hesitation and participate in ministry opportunities as they come up. I can't do much of that, because of this financial burden that hangs over me...but also, I just don't like having that weight on my shoulders.
I am a fan of Dave Ramsey. Click here to go to his website or click here to go to his page on Facebook. I don't even remember how I first heard about him. It's been quite a few years now, but I do remember somehow getting a copy of the book "The Total Money Makeover" and it changed my life and set me on a path of working towards being completely and totally debt free.
I suppose everyone has to make their own choices and for me, this is the right path to follow and it hasn't been easy. I stopped using credit cards in 2003 and finally paid off all of my credit card debt in 2007. That's another story for another time, too...but wow, it was HARD WORK...but oh so worth it, because when I sent in that final check and paid it all off, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I felt so free.
I'll show you all a few pictures of my home management binder in just a moment, but two other websites that have been so helpful and encouraging to me are The Budget Mama and Money Saving Mom. I'm not married, nor am I a mother, BUT I have found these sites along with quite a few others to be invaluable and so encouraging in my journey towards being a better steward of my money and towards getting out of debt once and for all. If you do visit either page, please tell the nice ladies there that I sent you :) :)
I've always had some sort of planner in the past but I never really used them. However, I have found the desire to keep a written record of my finances and just being organized, in general, to be really helpful in keeping myself on track, creating more time in my day etc.
I needed a new planner, but I couldn't afford to pay the cost for a new one and certainly not even one of those really fancy ones that come in PDF format, where you can print out whatever pages you want. Although they are fantastic and worth every penny, in my opinion. My heart's desire this year is to live as frugally as possible and only spend money when I absolutely have to. Fortunately for me, I did find a couple of sites that offered some free, very basic but extremely useful printables which I promptly downloaded and printed out.
The only one I actually paid for was a really basic, but extremely useful home management binder from Sheri Graham called The Intentional Planner. A one year subscription only costs me $5 and I can download all the files for this year that I want. It's designed for someone who is a homeschooling parent, but many of the categories are useful for anyone, including finances, setting goals, blogging, daily and monthly calendars etc.
This is what the front of my planner looks like. I was able to edit the PDF file and call it "Heather's Home Companion". I reused a pink three-ring binder that I received from a women's Bible study a few years ago and probably saved myself at least $5 by doing that instead of buying a new one.
I have the daily and monthly pages located in the front of the binder. I like having an entire day on a page AND having an entire month at a glance spread out over two pages. I like having an entire day on a page, so I have lots of space for writing out details of my day, what I spent, goals, memory verse or whatever else I need to keep track of. Having a month spread out over two pages is also helpful for me, because I like to write down when my bills are due and when I get paid. It helps to have a literal visual, so I know exactly what bills need to come out of which paycheck.
I haven't settled on which day on a page style I like yet. So I'm using the one from the Intentional Planner and also one that was a free download from Ann Voskamp's website "A Holy Experience" As soon as I find the link for the latter, I'll come back and post it here. I don't need anything overcomplicated. This is easy, practical and it's got a bit of beauty added which is always a plus :) I actually forgot I had these. It was fun to find these again.
Also, as part of my goal of keeping a record of my finances, goals etc. I am also keeping track of things I'm thankful for each year. I am participating in the Joy Dare / Count 1,000 Gifts over at Ann Voskamp's site "A Holy Experience" The easiest way to find out more about that is to click here and visit her page on Facebook or here to visit the page that goes with the book "One Thousand Gifts".
It's so important to me to remind myself to be grateful for all of the blessings that God has given me - big and small and to remember to find joy even in the most ordinary of things. So I've been participating in the Joy Dare as much as possible, and writing down things I'm thankful for - anything that makes me smile, laugh etc.
I also happened to find this printout that a lady in my church Bible study printed on her home computer a long time ago. It's a monthly challenge to write down at least one thing that we're thankful for everyday. It's also from Ann Voskamp's website "A Holy Experience" . I don't know if this particular download is available any longer, but I sure am glad that I didn't throw it out.
This is what the inside looks like. As it happens, I have January in front, so I better get started. I've been faithful to keep up with each day's Joy Dare, but I don't think you can ever be too thankful for things or to seek joy in the everyday things of life. Take it all and look back at the end of the year and say "Wow, God really has done a lot. I have a blessed life" :) :) :)
That's a good start for now. As I start using my "home companion" a little bit more, I'll let you know how it's working out. I'll give you a review at the beginning of February, plus maybe a few more sneak peaks into how I like to organize my single life on paper.
That brings up a random thought. I am single and have never been married. One of my dreams is to be a wife and mother, but it all has to happen in God's timing, because He knows best and He clearly knows how to give the best gifts, Amen? :) :) :) So while I'm waiting for that, there's nothing that says I can't work on my homemaking skills right now.
I'm not just talking about cooking and sewing etc...but also really incorporating faith into every aspect of my life and how I decorate my home etc. One of my heart's desire's is to make whatever place I call home, a real place of hospitality - biblical hospitality. I'm not even sure how to define that other than I know it's more than just about the "stuff" It's about people. I want my home to be a place where people feel welcomes and encouraged and that they leave happier than when the arrived at my door.
Oh, the wheels of ideas are spinning. I need to get all of my ideas down on paper. God is so creative and He's created us with creative minds and talents to use to love on and serve others and for His glory :) :)
Alrighty, friends, that is the news from the ocean shores of California today.
Extra love and hugs for the New Year,
p.s. I also participate in a fun daily photo challenge with the nice ladies over at Middle Places. Click here to visit their blog. I found this group purely by chance while looking for a fun daily photo challenge to participate in. It has turned out to be such a delightful group of women bloggers. I'd encourage you to check it out.