The Obedience Game: My Kids, Their Chores, My Sanity

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Over the last few months, something has happened to my kids. I don’t know what caused it, or where I went soft, but all of a sudden they have been rude and argumentative. Chores that they have been doing consistently for months, or even years, are all of a sudden a fight to make happen. There was more yelling, more crying, and a lot more timeouts and groundings than I had ever given before.

Something had to change.

So a few weeks ago I came up with an idea, the obedience game.

The game goes like this. On my china cabinet in my dining room, I have two large jars. One filled with pennies, one filled with silver coins. You will get a penny every time you do something the first time I ask, without complaint, and remember to say yes ma’am. Silver coins come from extra jobs that you can do around the house.

These chores already have dollar amounts assigned to them that range anywhere from fifty cents to 3.00. The kids can find out what is available easily by looking at our chore cards that are hanging up in another area of the dining room. Each card lists a chore, with a picture of the chore for our non-readers, and the dollar amount the chore is worth. The kids can take down the card for the chore they want to do, and then bring it to me when the chore is done. After a quick inspection to make sure it was done thoroughly I will put the money in their jars right then and there. Instant gratification, sort of.

I say sort of because while the money is put in your jar right away, you have to wait until the jar is full to find out exactly how much you have and be able to spend your money. Once your jar is full you can count your coins and divide it into your spending, savings, and giving accounts in the Bank of Mom and Dad (that’s another story for another day).

Now you might be saying a penny isn’t a lot for doing a chore. And you’re right. But honestly, these were chores that my kids weren’t getting paid for in the past. These are chores they are supposed to do because they are a member of our family and it is part of their job to help it run smoothly. The pennies take a long time to add up, so they are more or less purely for motivational purposes, especially for Austen and Atlas, who are only three and four-years-old, respectively.

Our obedience game started officially right before vacation. That Saturday night I sat the kids down and explained the game to them. I showed the kids their jars, the extra chore cards, and I explained to them the chores they have that are apart of their daily routines. These they can find in their daily chore packs, which tells them what they should be doing each morning and evening step-by-step to help us get into a routine and make our days a little less hectic.

We’re currently on week three of The Obedience Game, so far the kids have money in there, so I’d say it’s working, at least for now.

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Dream Big: Plans For After Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball

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When I was a little girl, the only thing I ever dreamed of was getting out of my small hometown. Where did I want to go? That was easy, New York City. I read everything about it, watched every show that set there. I even read the New York Times when I could get my hands on it.

This was probably because my mom traveled a lot with her job and New York was one of the places she went most often. She was even there when the city had the massive power outage in 2003 and came home to tell me how fun the street parties were. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would get there someday.

You could say I was obsessed.

But, as it often does, life happened. I got pregnant and married young. We did move out of our hometown, but it was where the Army sent us. When my husband got out we moved back home, then moved away again to Colorado when Austen got sick. I’ve spoken to my husband about my dreams of moving to New York continuously over the years, but we aren’t naive. We know to live even halfway comfortably in New York it takes money, a lot more money than Colorado or Texas. Especially when you have children and a family.

I’ve talked about why I want to get out of debt before, how I want to travel the world with my kids, how I want to retire comfortably. How I want to leave my children a legacy. Oh, and I want to move to New York City. Maybe not forever, but for a few years at least. One thing the military taught me is that you don’t really experience a new place by visiting. Instead, you want to live there.

I want to really experience New York.

But, I know New York is a long way away. We have to get our personal finances in order, pay off our debt, and make enough money a month so that we don’t get back into it. That might take a while! But it will happen. And it will be so worth it to be able to go there without worrying about having a creditor call me the day after we move in.

This is a big dream, I know that. But it is my dream and somehow, some way I know I will make it happen.

Now, it’s time I get back to our budget.

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I Could Kick Myself

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Three years ago we bought a van from a small dealership in Texas. Within a few days we realized it had a coolant leak, and vowed that if we ever bought another vehicle again we would get it looked at by a mechanic or it would come with a warranty.

Guess what I didn’t do when I bought my Honda Odyssey two weeks ago?

That’s right. You can yell at me now, I am definitely yelling at me.

Within a week I noticed the A/C not working. Dr. Google told me it was probably the compressor, but I prayed it was a smaller fix. It wasn’t.

1350.00 later (thanks to a deep discount from the dealership) it was fixed, but when I picked it up I was told even more was wrong with it.

First I was told, thanks to a communication error with the tech and secretary, that it was the drive belt tensioner that needed to be replaced. At only 300.00 I told them to go ahead since I had budgeted 1800 originally for the compressor. But yesterday I got a call saying the secretary was wrong, it’s really the timing belt tensioner that needs to be replaced, and that would be a 1200.00 fix.

That’s money I just don’t have.

So I called around, I’ve learned that lesson at least, and had a shop look at it yesterday who has great reviews online and told me it would only be 780.00. Would you believe when they looked inside it was neither the drive belt tensioner or the timing belt tensioner? Nope. Instead, it was the serpentine belt tensioner that was leaking and needed to be fixed.

So I did that and went ahead and had him do my back shocks, which I knew needed to be done, and both he and Honda had mentioned.

The work did need to be done, and I’m out another 780.00 but I know my car is safe.

Y’all, I want to cry. I cannot believe I didn’t learn my lesson. I even thought about getting checked out before I bought it but I was in too big of a hurry.

One thing is for sure, I’m learning exactly what they mean by patience is a virtue, and I think I might need to take some time to focus on that.

In the meantime I got a heck of a lot of work done this weekend because I wasn’t going anywhere and risking something worse happening to the van.

My Top 5 Favorite Financial YouTube Channels

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I make YouTube video’s because I want to help inspire others that taking hold of your finances is possible. And that you can make small and conscious decisions each day to work towards your goal while still living a full and happy life.

If you’ve ever looked beyond my channel on YouTube, which I am sure most of you have, you will know that I am not the only one with this goal in mind. There are several financial YouTube channels out there that can inspire you on your debt free journey.

Below are five of my favorites.

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Christine and Josh, along with their three daughters, started daily vlogging way back in 2011 to show how they were working towards their debt free journey. They were the first Dave Ramsey related YouTube channel that I found and it quickly felt like they were my mentors guiding me along in the process.

Although they do not vlog much anymore it is so worth it go back and watch their videos. Their Debt Kickin’ Sunday series offers a ton of valuable information, as do their weekly dinner videos. Seriously, I still use Josh’s spaghetti sauce recipe as my go to.

Jordan Page, FunCheapOrFree

 

Jordan Page is one of the most popular frugal YouTubers, having graced our screens in an episode of Cheapskates as well as on the Today Show, Rachael Ray, and many others. Her website, Fun Cheap or Free, offers a wide array of advice on anything from budgeting to organizing and even parenting. And since she has 5 kids with another on the way, and has managed to keep them all alive so far, I happily take any advice she can dish my way. One of my favorite series she has right now is her Q&A sessions with her husband.

Pennies into Pearls

 

Brittany from Pennies into Pearls is another YouTube channel that I follow, along with her blog. I love this channel because Brittany often gives us her budget with real numbers, to let families know that paying off debt can be done on just one income. On top of that she also has a ton of DIY crafting ideas that can be done for cheap on her website, and a lot of good meal planning tips too.

Our Life…On A Budget

 

Our Life…On A Budget is a Canadian family who are following Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps to get out of debt. Well, actually, they are out of debt (as is every channel I’ve posted if I remember correctly) but they still post videos on frugal living and how to handle life on a budget. I love to watch this channel because it lets me know that Dave Ramsey is not just for Americans. The principals are the same no matter what country you come from. I also like that they still post actively even though they are already out of deb.t

LiveLikeNoOneElse

 

Okay, let me tell you. Although this couple has not put up a new video in over a year, they are hands down my favorite financial YouTube family. I actually first found them through their birth vlog and then realized they were on a debt free journey.  Anna and Joel are just so real and relatable. Seriously from day one, I felt like Anna was a long lost best friend. Plus, they are doing this job on a freelance/ self-employed budget which is totally awesome.

We Paid Off Our First (And Second) Debt!

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I am so excited to be able to say we have paid off not only our first but our second debt as well. And in the process, we got rid of 15,095.00 of debt!

How did we do it?

Well, it’s kind of complicated-

First, we bought a “Dave van” with a small personal loan, a 2005 Honda Odyssey that is in really good condition actually and I am hoping can last us well beyond our debt free journey.

Then, we took both of our vehicles to Carmax. We sold my 2010 GMC Acadia and the Hubs’ truck. My Acadia was paid off, so we used what we got from it to pay what we were upside down in his truck.

We then had a bit left over, so we used that to pay off our smallest debt, the Hubs’ new iPhone.

So yes, we did semi use debt to help us out of this situation. Dave has said this was okay before in order to get out of a vehicle you are upside down in. And the loan is actually less than the amount we had to pay to get out from under his truck.

Some might ask why we didn’t save up each month to pay for the Dave van in cash, the answer is because his truck was costing us almost 900.00 a month between the payment and insurance. You read that right, 900 a month. We were having trouble making ends meet and that truck had a lot to do with it. It was seriously hindering out debt free journey.

This is why we also went to Carmax instead of selling the vehicles private party, which is something Dave also recommends. We simply could not wait any longer to get them sold.

Now we will take what we were paying on that truck and pay off our other debts, including the one we just took out, a lot faster instead of just treading water.

So here’s to progress! Now let’s see what we can do next month!

Monday’s With Meagan | Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps | Baby Step #1

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Hi Y’all,

Today I am doing a brief overview of Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps, and then really diving into the information on Baby Step #1.

Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps have provided a path to financial freedom for millions of people. It’s ‘God’s and Grandma’s guide to money’, meaning it’s simple and easy. It’s more about the motivation than the math…and it works.

Monday’s With Meagan: How To Get Your Spouse On Board With Getting Out Of Debt

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Hi Y’all,

So, you have decided that you want to get out of debt, but your spouse is not on board. What can you do?

I’ve been there, done that. For eight years actually. You read that right, EIGHT YEARS. I begged I pleaded, I demanded, and I threw fits that make my three-year-old look civil. And none of it worked. My husband just wasn’t interested, and I was defeated.

Luckily for me, today my husband is on board…at least I’m 98% sure he is. But it took me changing my strategy in order to get him there. In today’s video I’m discussing the mistakes I made, as well as what I did to help push him towards wanting to achieve financial freedom.

Until next time,
Meagan

Clean With Me

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Hi Y’all,

I know I keep saying this, but I have been doing a lot of writing lately to try and increase our income and get us out of debt. As a result, my house has really suffered. On this day I had exactly 45 minutes of ‘me time’ before I had to go get Atlas from school. So I rushed and did a quick clean of the house.

Next year Addi will be in school full time, Atlas will be in preschool half days, and Austen *might* be in school half days as well. So I am going to try and implement a solid morning routine the involves me cleaning and the kids doing their chores, that way I can write while the littles are at school AND keep my house clean.

If that’s something you would be interested in seeing leave me a comment down below!

How I Earned 239.98 In A Single Phone Call

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To tell you this story I actually have to take you back in time a bit first. To 2013 when my husband upgraded his Xbox 360 to a shiny new Xbox One. He plugged it in, he got all excited, and then he realized he didn’t remember his login for his Xbox 360.

That fall, though, I noticed that we had a charge in our bank account for an Xbox live membership, and told my husband we had been charged again, and then it happened the next March, and again the next September. Every time my husband basically told me he thought I was insane, they weren’t charging us twice a year. I was just imagining it.

Y’all, this is where it gets embarrassing. I let it go on, for four years! Four freaking years!

It was pure laziness on my part, I wanted my husband to make the call…it’s his Xbox after all. He wanted me to make the call because I’m the main one who handles the finances. We were both stubborn and it could have cost us a lot of money.

Note I said could have.

This past March, when it happened again, I finally got annoyed enough to make the call. It turned out that Xbox Live payments are made like an ACH payment. Many banks, my bank included, allow recurring ACH payments to go through on a card even if the card is expired. They just push it through like it is the new card number.

Thankfully, since we were being billed from two completely different Xbox Live accounts, they could prove that we had been paying for two subscriptions the last four years and agreed to pay us back all of the money we had been charged in that time for our original account. It was 239.98 to be exact, in one 15-minute phone call.

I think it was well worth my time.

And I’m glad I learned that lesson then because in April we discovered that another company also had us on recurring ACH payments that we were unaware of. It was something my husband had accidentally signed up for when he was setting up his business. We caught this one after only two months and that 30-minute phone call earned us over 500.00.

Have you ever experienced a situation like this? Tell me your story in the comments section below!