Our Debt Story – How We Got Here and How Far We’ve Come

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Today’s post is a little different than most you’ll see on the blog.  Instead of sharing tips and money help, I’m going to tell you a little story.  A story about how our family got into over $70,000 worth of debt without realizing it.  You see, it’s so easy to spend money.  To open a new credit card.  To qualify for that new car loan.  Before long you have a car that has more debt than it’s worth and a credit card that’s charging you monthly interest more than your minimum payment.  

You don’t see a way out.  It’s a vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself.  

Well one day, we weren’t able to get everything we needed at the grocery store because we didn’t have enough in our bank account and our credit card would work.  It was heartbreaking and a huge light bulb moment for us.  

We needed more money.

But how?

We had decent jobs, were making good money and we thought we were living below our means.  But we were so WRONG.

You can watch our debt story online or down below.  Keep reading for more.

We sat down and created a budget.  I remember I grabbed an old clipboard and a piece of copy paper, we sat down on my great grandmother’s flowered couch we were given and got to work.  

We listed out our income – I vividly remember having to log in to our bank statement to see how much we were making.  We had no clue.  Our checks were directly deposited each week, so we never bothered to actually look at the stubs.  We knew a good guess, but it wasn’t exact and we guessed higher than it actually was.

We jotted down our expenses – again having to look at our online banking to know.  We added up our grocery trips, which we made a lot back in those days.  Need bread for dinner? Stop after work.  Ran out of soda?  That’s okay, we can grab some while we’re out.

When we started adding up our eating out totals, that’s when reality set in.  That’s where our money was going.  We were wasting it and on what? 

It was shameful. 

After we created our first list of income and expenses, we just stared at it.  There we were – 20 something year olds and we were in shock.  We had no clue what we made, what we spent and where our money went.  But here it was in black and white.

We then sat down the next night, because the first night was a doozy to create a new budget.  We talked out every expense – how much should we be spending on groceries each month, what about eating out, why is our cell phone bill so high?  All of these questions we had to answer and we had to do it ourselves.  

That next week I spent the better part of a day calling companies to see about lowering bills, turning features off and researching lower cost options.  We switched car insurance providers, removed some fancy features from our cable lineup and set hard budgets for eating out and groceries.  We also decided to start using cash instead of our debit card and credit card.  It was a hard transition at first and we used our debit card a few times as a safety net.  

But after a few months we started to see progress.  We were actually able to get everything we needed at the store.  We cherished our date nights out or dinner with friends because we didn’t do it all the time anymore.  

The first time we were able to send MORE than the minimum payment to the credit card company was a great feeling.  We knew we found something that worked.  

Each week we would sit down together, on that old couch, and update our budget.  We made sure we weren’t going over and we checked to see what else still needed to be paid.  We stopped paying bills late because we created a bill tracker to help us.  We kept it on the clipboard we used that first night. It became the budget clipboard.  Our budget was printed out each month and placed on the clipboard that sat next to our fridge.  We also kept our tracker, our debt payoff letters, and debt thermometer on there, too.

The first time we received a letter stating a debt was paid in full, was amazing.  We were so excited.  I wanted to frame it and actually looked around our house for a frame, but couldn’t find one – I knew going to the store to buy one would be defeating the purpose.  So I put it on the fridge.  Then another one came and another one.  Finally we started keeping them with our budget spreadsheets so we could see them every time we sat down to update it.

It’s been over four years since we started tackling our debt.  We aren’t done yet, but we are close.  We have two school loans left and my car.  Our plan is to have my car paid off when J gets out of school next spring. Then we will be focusing on our school loans and saving for our dream home. 

Each month I share a recap of our budget from the previous month.  You can check out last month’s here and see our current debt payoff totals.


Having a budget has helped us more than just paying off debt.  It’s given us financial confidence.  J has been able to go back to school full-time, which means we’re down to just my income.  And it’s okay.  We’re doing great.  We’re still able to live the lifestyle we were living before he quit.  Sure we aren’t able to put as much into savings or put towards our school loans, but we’re still making progress.  Before he left his job and started school, we did a few things:

We built our emergency fund

We saved enough for our insurance deductibles

We paid off all other debts except for my car and our school loan

We sold J’s truck and bought a small car to save on gas (he drives close to 3 hours a day, 5 days a week to get to class)

Need More Help?

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

Top Budget Busters and How To Beat Them

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You’ve tried, Lord knows how hard you’ve tried to keep your budget under control. But out of nowhere an unexpected purchase just throws you off. Now you’re annoyed and want to give up. 

Sound familiar? Well it should because that’s most of us (maybe even all of us).  As Moms, we work hard all day to keep our home organized, our lives and family members in order, we have to manage our time, kids’ time while getting to work every day to provide for our families.  It’s hard.  The last thing we need is something to through our perfect plan into a tailspin. 

Maybe you forgot to stock up on something you typically buy in bulk, you’ve run out and didn’t save room in the budget this month.  It happens.  

Perhaps you have an unexpected work event or something comes up and you need to hire a babysitter last minute.  

For my family, it’s always something with the cars. One needs new brakes, the other needs new tires and they both need an oil change. With my husband driving a lot more lately, we go through a lot more gas, oil changes and tires than we used to. I try to budget for them using a simple method we use for any big expense, but it gets tiring.  This year I vowed to do a better job scheduling these “unexpected” expenses.  

The bottom line is we know their coming, at some point.  We don’t know when, but we know it’s going to happen.  So what we’ve started doing (and I talked more about it in my December budget check-in) is budgeting a flat amount each month to put aside.  That way then something comes up, we can transfer money from a savings account to help cover it.  It might look a little strange in that particular month’s budget spreadsheet, but at least we know we have the money set aside and we won’t be pulling from our emergency fund or taking away from another category.

Here are the top budget busters and how you can beat them.  You can watch online or down below:

Groceries – You’ve planned your meals, looked through your pantry and freezer before going to the store.  You took inventory of everything else that you might need for the next few weeks, too.  You do your grocery shopping, you make sure to stick right to your budget.  You get home and a few days later you realized you forgot something – something more than a few dollars.  You have to have it, so you head back to the store.  I recommend having bigger items that you need on a regular basis on auto-ship.  We use amazon and we may make a quarterly trip to Sam’s Club for anything else.  But we typically get the same items each trip and we get enough to last us until our next visit.  Amazon Subscribe and Save is a great feature – I know other stores have this ability too.  We have our baby wipes, toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, etc. on this.  

Not planning easy dinners – You finish your meal plan and are super proud.  You have a week’s worth – or two – of delicious and healthy meals.  Flash forward three or four days and you’ve had a heck of a day.  You’re tired, your spouse is tired, your kid is tired and you do not want to even think about cooking dinner.  That’s why you need easy dinners.  Something you can throw in your crock pot that morning (we use ours a few times a week during busy times – like holidays and tax season).  Something you can bulk up to have leftovers one night during the week.  If you have a lazy Sunday then make a few freezer meals to have ready on those nights.

Traveling and Eating Out – Traveling can be a real budget drain. You may book your tickets at a good price, get a good deal on your hotel or be staying with family and friends, but when it comes to eating – that’s where you loose most of your money.  Try to be prepared.  If you’re driving then pack a bag and cooler full of snacks, easy lunches and drinks.  That way you don’t have to stop at a fast food place to get lunch on your way.  You can pack your kiddos’ snacks so you don’t have to buy something when you get there or stop at a thousand different places when you’re kid gets hungry – and they’re always hungry.  Look around for local deals like groupon, coupons or sign up for their reward programs a few days before you leave to get any coupons or special deals.

Car maintenance – Take a look at how much you spent last year on car maintenance.  Then get a monthly average.  You should be setting aside that amount each month into a savings account.  That way when an expense comes up, you have the money set aside.  Also, take a good look at your vehicles and see if they will need to be any repairs this year.  Will you need new tires?  How are your brakes? When was the last time you replaced the battery? I know not everything you can be prepared for, sometimes a car just breaks down but having some money put aside will make the sting a little less painful.  We took our annual spending for anything car related, divided by 12 to get a monthly average.  Then we added 10 dollars to it just to be on the safe side.  If you can’t afford your monthly average, then do what you can.  Put back whatever amount you can or set aside any bonuses you have for maintenance.

For more information and budgeting help, check out these posts:

How To Afford Anything You Want

How To Tracking Your Spending

Our Favorite Budget Template

Need More Help?

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

How Much We Spent In December With Christmas and Traveling | December Budget Check-In

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It’s time for another budget recap.

Oh my goodness! December is over and I have no idea where the last week of the month went. I had so many plans to get so much done before the New Year and I am still working on that list.  It took me a little longer than usual to get caught up on last month’s final budget recap. Christmas and then New Year really did a number on my routines and totally threw me into a whirl. 

I always do really good when I get to work a few minutes early each day to update our budget and go through our online bank statement to make sure everything has cleared.  When I’m out of the office for a few days then my habit of getting there by 7:30 usually goes right out the window, which means the time I have to update our budget is usually gone.  Now that we’re into the second week of 2018, I’m finally working my habits back into what works best for us.

Alright, enough with the excuses. Let’s get down to business.  Here is this month’s budget recap and check in to our envelope tracking system.  As you probably remember we use the budget spreadsheet I created years ago.  It’s easy to follow and really helps us keep up with how much we’ve spent and how much we have left each month. 

If you’re new to budgeting, then I recommend finding a system that works for you.  It’s okay to have a few trial and errors along the way, and to test our multiple systems to make sure it’s easy for you.  Finding something that’s simple and easy to update will encourage you to stick with it.  At the end of the day we’re striving for progress not perfection when it comes to budgeting.  You have to be willing to forgive yourself (and your partner) of any mistakes that are made and keeping finding new ways to improve your spending habits.  

Recently I shared why we like to review our budget at the beginning of a new year to make sure we’re on track to hit our financial goals.  You can read about how we do that on last month’s Budget Q&A post.

Watch this month’s recap online or down below:

As you can see we had a few bumps in December. We budgeted for Christmas and that worked out great, but with travel and sickness it hurt us a little bit.  That’s okay though, we realized we needed to be a little more prepared for doctor visits and medicines in the upcoming year so we made an adjustment to our 2018 budget.  All we did was average how much we spent on doctor visits, medicines and other medical related bills in 2017 and averaged them out.  We assumed that 2018 would be similar to last year so we’re using that number as a monthly budget goal – we took our average of 2017 and divided by 12 to get a monthly amount.  Now we’re simply setting aside that amount each month to make sure we have a cushion for when the flu bug hits our house again.

We also traveled more than we realized and usually that means eating out.  So our eating out budget shows a little more than average in December.  Again, that’s okay.  We know why and we can then be better prepared when it happens again.  

It’s all about progress not perfection.

Need More Help?

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

Quick Cleaning Tips

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Today’s post is going to be a quick one because I am running around like a crazy woman. After this weekend’s 24 hour stomach bug attack. Our house looked as if a tornado had passed through. We had toys thrown everywhere – in the family room, hallway, kitchen, the dog’s crate – everywhere.  Dished piled up and laundry that needed to be folded, washed and dried. 

I knew today was going to be a mess.  There are too many meetings, errands and just stuff to get done in these 24 hours. Plus I like my sleep.  So I figured on a day where I barely have time to catch my breath I wanted to share with you some quick cleaning tips. 

Because let’s be honest…

Who doesn’t need quick cleaning tips this time of year?

These are my go-to when it comes to a messy house, feeling stressed and not much time to get it clean.

Baking Soda To Freshen Carpet

Alright the first one is probably my favorite.  We have a dog who is allergic to any carpet deodorizer we’ve tried.  So to save her from feeling miserable we had to find a new option.  After trying baking soda on our carpets once I fell in love.  It works great and it’s non-toxic for the dogs and kid.  All you have to do is pour some on your carpet, let it set then vacuum it up.  Your carpet will be left smelling fresh. I also LOVE how cheap a box is compared to the fancy carpet powders you can find at the store.

My Favorite Carpet Refresher for Cheap

I like to vacuum once without any baking soda down then pour baking soda to vacuum again.  We have three dogs, so I like to get as much dog hair up as possible. 

Vinegar To Clean Carpet

Do you have a steam cleaner?  If you have kids, dogs or both then you need a steam cleaner!  I love mine.  We got it years ago and it’s still kicking.  After trying to find a less expensive way to clean, I discovered vinegar.  Instead of using the store-bought shampoo and cleaners, just add some white vinegar to your solution.  Then you just clean like normal.  

You will notice your floors will smell a little like salt and vinegar chips until it dries (at least that’s what I thought), but then the smell goes away as it dries.  This was my go-to for steam cleaning our carpets when our little boy was crawling everywhere.  I felt so much better using vinegar on our floors since it’s non-toxic compared to all of those chemicals you find in store-bought cleaners.

Use Vinegar To Clean Your Microwave

Here is the quickest way to clean your microwave without all that scrubbing.  Take a glass of white vinegar and microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Once it’s done, simply wipe down the inside with a towel and you’re done.  No more scrubbing.  Something about the vinegar, the steam and the heat just melts away messes.  

I usually start a cup in the microwave while I’m putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher and by the time I’m done with dishes it’s time to wipe out the microwave.  

Clean Your Toys In The Dishwasher

This one is my new favorite. I really don’t know how I waited until as long as I did to try it.  Did you know you can take your child’s toys (the ones that are plastic and don’t have holes in them) and put in your dishwasher.  Just pile them in and turn on.  Our dishwasher has a one hour cycle, which is perfect.  Make sure to turn off your heat dry option and let them air dry.  I’m always afraid that high of heat might ruin a few of them.  I’ve never had a problem washing any toys in the dishwasher though.

I usually start it before bed and then by the morning they’re dry.  It’s best to do this during cold and flu season or if you have a sick little one.  It’s great at disinfecting all the toys at one time and makes it a lot easier on you.

Wash Your Pillows In The Washing Machine

Again, with another quick deep cleaning tip.  You can wash your pillows in the washing machine – not just the pillow cases.  Just take your pillows out of the cases and toss in the washing machine.  Try not to overload the machine, you want them to move around a little easier. Just wash on cold in a delicate cycle with a little bit of detergent.  I prefer the detergent without any dyes or perfumes since our son and I have allergies.  

Once you’ve washed them you can throw them in the dryer with a tennis ball (I wrap ours in a sock) or even a toy rubber ball.  The ball helps the pillow to dry evenly and come out fluffy.

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Use The Laundry Basket Method

Whenever you have a room that looks as if a tornado hit then grab an empty laundry basket. Go around your house, room-by-room and gather any items that don’t belong. Once you have gone through each room in your house (or until nothing else fits into your basket), you can start emptying it.  Take your basket back into each room and put away anything in it that belongs to that room. 

I use this a lot in our kitchen and family room because they tend to be a catch-all. I put shoes, clothes, pans, toys, and anything else our son tends to carry around. Then I go back through each room and I put away whatever is in the basket.  I usually start in the bedrooms when it comes to putting things away because I always have shoes or dirty clothes in the basket and they tend to be the biggest and bulkiest items.  

Split Your Duties

We prefer to not do any house cleaning on the weekends.  We like to have our weekends to ourselves to do whatever we want.  So J and I bust our butts Monday through Friday to get everything done.  One of the best things we did was stop being a perfectionist.  We break our cleaning into days and then work on something for a few minutes each night.  That way the house is always getting cleaned with little effort. 

We try to focus on one room each night and between the two of us we can dust, sweep or vacuum, mop, clean and straighten within 15 minutes for most rooms.  We tend to clean after our little one goes to bed and before we sit down to relax for the night. 

What are some of your favorite quick cleaning hacks?

The 52 Week Savings Challenge for 2018

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If you could accomplish anything in 2018, what would be? For most of us our answer might involve money in some way. From having less debt, to making more money, having more saved, budget better, whatever it might be. Money is a huge focus for many of us. There never seems to be enough to go around and when it rains, it pours – am I right? This year, I want to help you save more money for those rainy days or for those days where you just want to have a little fun. 

Last year, I introduced the 52 Week Savings Challenge and it was a huge hit. Our family really benefited from taking simple steps to put more money into savings. So, I wanted to start 2018 off with a bang and bring back the 52 week savings challenge.

Now remember this savings challenge is above and beyond what you’re currently budgeting for. This money either needs to come from your grocery budget, your eating out category or a combination of any budget categories. We don’t want to take away from what you’re currently putting aside for your emergency fund or your debt payments.

Last year when we decided to do this challenge, we looked at our budget and realized it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra $1,300 in the bank by the end of the year.

We created an easy-to-follow 52 Week Savings Challenge. It’s easy to follow and you can really tackle it any way you want.

Here’s the gist of the savings challenge:

Start off with saving $1 the first week, then add $1 every week to you new goal. Here’s what it looks like for the whole year:

week 1 – $1, total of $1
week 2 – $2, total of $3
week 3 – $3, total of $6

week 52 – $52, total of $1,378

52 week savings challenge image

I created an easy PDF for you to download to keep track. You can download this free printable here.

Here’s another way to tackle this 52 week savings challenge:

You can start with week 52 and work your way backwards. That way you’re starting with savings $52, $51, $50 and so on then when it’s closer to the holidays your savings would be less than $10 a week. It’s up to you.

Just decide which way is best for your family and get started.

What are you going to do with this extra savings at the end of the year? It’s going to be good to use towards Christmas gifts or you can add it to your emergency fund or even debt! Whatever you want to do with it, it’s up to you!

Just think, $1,378 can be yours by saving a few dollars each month for the next 12 months. So easy!

Need More Help?

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

Recap of 2017 Goals

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Each year, I like to dust off my goals from the beginning of the previous year and see just how I did. 

I recently shared what my goals are for 2018 and am really excited about them.  As I get older (and wiser), my goals have shifted. I no longer carry about the tiny details as much and like to focus more on the bigger pictures.  What goals will help me achieve my overall success and what does that success look like? To me it’s all about my family and providing for them.  So that’s what helps shape my goals.  

I also don’t like calling them resolutions because to me a resolution is something you want to stop.  A goal is more positive and it’s about expansion.  So that’s why I call them goals instead of resolutions.

Let’s take a look at last year’s goals to see just how I measured up.  

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As you can see my goals were a little broader than they have been in the past, which means success is open to interpretation.  And I love that.

I achieved 7 out of 8 of my goals in 2017.  That’s a pretty good passing rate (if I do say so).  

What are your goals for 2018? Think bigger, but more manageable.  What will make you happier and your family happier.  That’s the goals you need to strive for and work towards. Also, that one goal I didn’t achieve – I shifted to 2018.  Nothing wrong with not reaching every goal.  Sometimes you have to realize that the sacrifices you would have to make to meet everything, may not be worth it.  So you shift, you rearrange your goals so that they fit better with what you have going on.  You’re not a failure for doing that – your a realist who knows the value of your time, sanity and family is much more important.


Make sure to take a look at 2014’s goals, 2015’s goals and 2016’s goals, too.

2018 Goals for the New Year

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I’ll be the first to admit I will probably date a few documents with 2017 for the next few weeks until I can get the hang of it. No matter how many times I repeat to myself “2018, 2018, 2018” I still end up dating with the wrong year. This will go on for most of January, which it does every year. At this point, I’ve just accepted it. 

This time of year J and I sit down for our quarterly planning meeting to plan the next few months in advance. Planning the next three months out is one of the biggest YES things we’ve ever done. We don’t plan out each day in detail, but we make sure to plan out any out of town trips we need to make to visit family, birthday gifts we need to buy, any bigger purchases that are coming up (like car maintenance, home repairs, etc.).  This planning helps us make sure our budget is right and makes sure that we’re on the same page. 

So before you get too much further into 2018 (I know, today is only day one), make sure to sit down with your significant other and have a calendar in front of you. We use our Google calendar to organize our entire lives. We each have our own calendar and then we have a joint one that we can both see. Whenever I have an out of town conference or he has a late class then we can put it on our joint calendar so we both know about it. I don’t necessarily put my doctor appointments and client appointments on our joint calendar because they don’t affect him. 

This planning also works great for when we’re out with family and friends. If we want to schedule a dinner out or a weekend visit, then we just look at the joint calendar. If that day or time is open then go ahead and schedule. It’s an unwritten rule in our house that when it comes to family and friends, we like to do whatever we can to be there. So if there isn’t anything scheduled, then mark it down. Whatever is on the calendar is something we’ve committed to and that means a lot to us.

After we have our planning meeting, we also like to talk about goals for the new year.  What do you like most about a new year? I love the idea of new beginnings, which means new goals and new successes. For me, I love creating action steps to help reach our goals. Now J has his goals, I have my goals and then we have family goals.  We like to think of our family goals as the driving force behind our decisions. 

This year our word is simplicity. What can we do in our day-to-day lives that can help simplify everything? For us, it means saying no to more and saying yes to what we actually want to do.  It also means making sure our budget tracking is easy to maintain and encourages us to stay on top of it.  That’s why we created the easiest budget template because we wanted something easy.  We wanted something that didn’t take hours to fill out each month and something that told us exactly how we were doing with our money.

I won’t share J’s goals with you because he didn’t sign up to be a blogger like I did.  But I will show you my personal goals and some of our family goals.  It’s funny that some of mine and J’s goals and our family’s goals are pretty much the same.  I think that’s the price you pay when you become a parent – you’re sole focus is the family.

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As you can see most of my ‘personal’ goals involve my family. The ones that are left involve my blog or my day job as a financial specialist.  To me – building those goals will help me reach our family goals because we will be able to provide more for our son.

What are your goals for the upcoming year? Try to keep them short, sweet and to the point. Don’t put too many details in your annual goals because then it makes it harder to achieve.  What we like to do is take our bigger goals and then break them down into smaller ones.  That way we can focus on one thing at a time and measure our success.  If you’re curious, you can check out last year’s here.



My Favorite Toddler Hacks

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Hi! My name is Meredith and I am a Mom who is constantly running in circles.  Like constantly.  Like I fall down from being dizzy at least once a week because I have too much going on. That’s why when I find something good that makes my life a little bit easier, I hold onto it.  Then I like to shout it from the nearest rooftop (but not really because I am terrified of heights) so that other Mommas can benefit too.  That’s why I just love finding anything that saves me time and saves my sanity.  

I’m always trying to tweak this or change that to make it more efficient. When it comes to being a Mom, I’m pretty sure we need all the help we can get. It’s hard enough to remember everything on our to-do list, grocery list and doctors appointments – if we could have just a little bit more help then we could rule the world with our eyes closed. 

Recently I was talking with other Moms about things that make our lives a little easier.  I came away with a ton of great idea, but realized I had a lot of toddler hacks already in place.  I thought it was time to share them with you so that hopefully your life can become a little bit easier.

You can watch my favorite toddler hacks online or down below:

What’s some of your favorite toddler hacks that you’ve learned along the way? Leave a comment below!

Check out these posts for more tips and hacks:

Mess Free Baby Painting

Road Trip Hacks with Toddler

Tips For Organized Packing

My Favorite Mom Gadget

Planning For A New Year, Revising Your Budget, and Setting New Goals | December Budget Q&A

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This month’s Budget Q&A was too important to skip. With the end of December and 2017 just a few days away I realized I needed to get this months answers to your questions done.

This month has flown by, with trips to see family, holiday parties, Christmas, and so much more I’m just surprised I let this month’s Q&A slip by.  I started trying to find a time to post this month’s video and realized I needed to just do it.  So that’s why I’m coming at you on a day outside my normal posting schedule.

This month’s Q&A is all about how to plan for a new year to make sure your family is off on a good foot – I’m sharing with you tips on how to plan your year in advance (we do ours in 3 month intervals), why you should revise your budget, and make sure you’re on track to meet your short-term and long-term goals.

Make sure to check out this month’s Q&A online or down below:

For more help, check out these posts:

How We Plan Our Life 3 Months At A Time

How We Use Google Calendar To Stay Organized

The Easiest Budget Template Ever!

Need More Help?

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

Our Favorite Time of Year

our favorite time of year, how to be more present, christmas, meredith rines, merelynne

Christmas is my favorite time of year. Something about the cold air, the bright lights on the Christmas tree, time with our family, and watching our son’s face light up on Christmas morning.

We love being with a family, eating good food and making new memories with our little guy. Last year, Dent was still so young that he passed out half-way through opening gifts and after an hour nap we could continue (ha!).  This year, he loved it. He was showered with way too many gifts, but he loved every second of opening them. J and I stuck to our Christmas budget and was able to buy Dent a few smaller gifts just from us, which meant a lot to us. 

This year I wanted to make a conscious effort to be more present. Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting to take pictures and video so that we never forget this moment, that I don’t actually enjoy myself. So this year was different. Of course I took some pictures, but I wanted to make sure I was right there with him when he opened some of his gifts.  I even asked J to snap a few so I could be in them this year.

our favorite time of year, how to be more present, christmas, meredith rines, merelynne

christmas morning, christmas pjs, meredith rines, merelynne, budget christmas, being more present, christmas family, christmas time

christmas morning, christmas pjs, meredith rines, merelynne, budget christmas, being more present, christmas family, christmas time

christmas morning, christmas pjs, meredith rines, merelynne, budget christmas, being more present, christmas family, christmas time

christmas morning, christmas pjs, meredith rines, merelynne, budget christmas, being more present, christmas family, christmas time

christmas morning, christmas pjs, meredith rines, merelynne, budget christmas, being more present, christmas family, christmas time

As Moms we get distracted by trying to be perfect – the perfect wrapping job, the perfect gift to be given, the perfect picture, the perfect everything.  And it’s to just be the organizer of everything and let Dad be the one in the pictures and the one helping your child open each present.  

But not this year!

This year, I wanted to be right along side him. Of course I still took a few pictures and J was nice enough to take a few of me with our son. I think there is a fine balance between having the pictures to remember those important memories and then making sure you’re apart of those memories, too.