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!

Twenty-Nine

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I turn twenty-nine today.

I used to think it was a faraway age that I would never be able to attain. Twenty-nine was really close to thirty, and thirty was old. But here I am, and I don’t feel like I’m getting old. In fact, sometimes I feel like I should still be 16 and sitting at a desk at my high school. I definitely don’t feel old enough or mature enough to be a grown-up, or a wife, or a mom for that matter.

Are we sure this isn’t some kind of mistake?

Well, I guess the need for a grown-up skin care routine shows me that’s not the case. That and the pile of bills staring at me on my desk. And the budget I’m working on for the next month. Or the fact that Addi recently told me that she really likes my vintage music. I was listening to the Spice Girls.

Many of my friends still do not have kids. They live lives of freedom, going out, doing their own thing. Their conversations with friends don’t revolve around the color of their child’s poop or how hard it is to get silly putty out of a kids hair.

But you know what? I’m just going to embrace it. I’m going to embrace the fact that the most exciting thing in my daily life right now is if my seedlings for my garden are germinating or not, embrace the reality that I recently cried over broken knitting needles.

My life isn’t filled with parties or kids free travel, but it’s filled with love and hugs and ketchup covered kisses.  I have a husband I love, a house that I like, and three little souls that make my world go round.

I have my own little piece of paradise right here, and we’re creating this heaven together piece by piece.

Twenty-nine isn’t what I thought it would be. But I think I like it just the way it is.

My Grown-Up Skin Care Must Haves (Product Review)

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.I have a confession to make: I’ve never had a real skin care routine. Yes, I am a real life, grown-up, mom of three, that has never taken the time to actually care about my skin. Sure I’d buy moisturizer here and there. But never really cared what it was made of, or what it did for my skin. And I never thought of needing products beyond that, face wash, and maybe a toner here and there. I definitely was never consistent in caring for my skin, it just wasn’t that important to me.

But then I moved to Colorado, where dry skin reigns with an iron fist thanks to the cold air and constant winds. Also, as I inch closer to the big 3-0 I have started to notice these horrible creatures called fine lines inching their way into the corners of my eyes. It wasn’t hard to come to the conclusion that it was time to take my skin care seriously and fast.

But I feel like I’m kind of in a hard market. I’m too young to require major anti-wrinkle products, but I’m too old for products geared towards teenagers. And it didn’t help that I was looking for natural/organic product. As well as ones that were under 40.00 and would last a long time, and had eco-friendly packaging.  Needless to say, it took me awhile to find products that fit all these categories. And it took even longer to find ones that worked with my skin. But now that I am done, I am so excited to share my must have with you.

Face Wash

The problem with most face washes is they either do not seem to wash my face enough or are too harsh on my skin. There is nothing like using a toner on what you thought was a clean face, only to find tons of makeup coming off on the wipe. But after scouring the for months I came across the by Hello Organic Facial Cleanser by True and Olive. It’s a deep cleansing oil made with ingredients like lavender, lemongrass, and rosemary. And the best part was it was made to use on crazy acting grown-up skin like mine! I quickly emailed the company asking if they would allow me to review their product, and I got the sweetest email back from Christine, agreeing to send me both their face wash and face oil (more on that later).

The only thing I can say is this product is amazing. It is formulated for breakouts, which I do not have and almost made me skip past it. But it also promises to be balancing and nourishing, so I was intrigued. It gave me hope that it wasn’t drying like most acne formulas can be.

I’m glad I went with my gut, this face wash is fantastic! My skin doesn’t feel dry or tight after using it, and on top of that, it really deep cleans my skin. Two pumps of this formula lathers nicely and manages to get all of my makeup off in one wash. This allows me to skip the step of using coconut oil to get my makeup off, saving me time. The scent is also pleasant and refreshing,  without being overwhelming. And it comes in a glass jar which satisfies my minimal waste desires.

Overall I can honestly say I love this product, and will definitely by it again once my bottle runs out. I don’t think that will be for awhile though because I’ve used it every day for the last month and I’ve barely made a dent. Which makes the 24.95 it costs per bottle well worth it for my budget.

Serum

It took a lot to sell me on the idea of having a serum. I really just did not want to add another step to my skincare routine if I’m being honest. But then I started reading up on Vitamin C Serum and now I don’t think I will ever go back. Vitamin C helps to protect you from sun damage, prevents wrinkles and fine lines, promotes collagen production, provides moisture, and helps to reduce under eye circles. That’s a lot of punch packed into a tiny bottle.

I’ve been using this one from LilyAna Naturals for almost a year now, and have only had to rebuy it once, which makes the 19.99 price even more affordable. And just like the True and Olive Facial Cleanser, this comes in a glass bottle, which makes me happy that I can repurpose it or recycle it without hassle.

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Moisturizer

Ah Colorado, the land of dry air and skin that begins to look like scales as soon as the first cold wind blows in the fall. My first winter here it took me by complete surprise. I had never lived somewhere that moisturizer was actually a necessity before. I mean, Texas and Hawaii were humid enough to provide my skin with all the moisture it needed most of the year, and even in California, I did not notice a major difference. But here, well it’s a whole new ball game.

Searching for a moisturizer was almost just as hard as searching for a face wash. I wanted something that was anti-aging, but also natural/organic, affordable, and came in good packaging. After several months of searching, I finally settled on the Mirakle Cream by The Better Skin Co.

This product is definitely the least eco and budget-friendly on my list. But y’all, my skin has never been better. None of the more natural products, even more expensive ones, were able to touch what this cream can do.

Featured on the likes of Wendy and The Zoe Report, this 2017 Clean Beauty Awards Best Face Care winner lives up to it’s promises. It hydrates, reduces the appearance of all those lines and wrinkles, and leaves my skin feeling soft and silky. Plus I do give it points for being vegan, paraben free, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. And although the packaging is plastic, I can recycle it in my community.

The worst part about the product is it’s 34.00 price tag since the bottle is so small. But for what it does it’s really not a lot at all. I tried cheaper drugstore options, and they just did not compare to this cream. The good thing is a little goes a long way, in the month I’ve been using it I’ve barely made a dent in the bottle. I’m excited to see how long it lasts, and I’ll make sure to update everyone in the future!

Face Oil

Similar to my thoughts about serum, it took a while for me to come around to the idea of face oil. Even with my dry skin I was scared that a face oil on top of a moisturizer would be too much. I didn’t want my skin to turn oily in the process.

But through my search for a face wash, and my finding of True and Olive’s Facial Cleanser, I also found their Bloom Face Oil & Serum, and the reviews left me intrigued. Several reviewers noted that this oil did not leave their skin feeling oily at all. And even Christine (co-owner of the company, and who the products were originally made for) had oily skin before trying this product and used it to combat her own adult skin care issues. The company’s claim that oil will fight oil seemed to the case for many reviewers.

I was so excited when Christine agreed to send me this to try on top of the facial cleanser. And my excitement was not in vain. This face oil does exactly what I want it to do, providing a great final layer to my routine. Plus, the amazing scent of it’s natural and organic ingredients (such as lavender and bergamot essential oils) lingers lightly throughout the day. It’s heavenly.

Since my skin is so dry I use this product on top of my moisturizer each day. I simply pat it in lightly to help it soak into my skin. The two together have left my skin feeling soft and angelic. No more scaly patches on my jawline! At 34.95 this is the most expensive item on my list. But it’s a 2oz bottle and it only takes one pump to cover my entire skin and face. Which makes me think it will last well over 6 months, if not the whole year. That and the fact that it comes in a glass bottle like it’s counterpart make me sure that I will buy this product for years to come. I can definitely see them becoming permanent places in my skincare routine for years to come.

March 2018 Goals

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March is a historically good month for me. I mean I was born during it and you can’t have a better life event than birth, you know? I have high hopes for this March, and in the spirit of keeping myself in check (and because I just really like lists), I’ve decided to create a list of goals for the month. My thinking is that monthly goals are broader than daily lists, but it’s also easier to keep track of and more attainable than new years resolutions.

 

My March goals are:

  • To continue my Lenten discipline of no extra spending (more lists will need to be involved)
  • Keep track of every penny we spend
  • Get back on a cash budget/envelope system
  • Go through the entire month without taking anything from savings
  • Go through all of our closets and get clothes listed on PoshMark
  • Build our garden beds and plan our garden layout for the year
  • Pay off our smallest debt, which is 175 that we owe towards my cell phone

Happy March everyone! Do you have a list of goals for the month? Share them in the comment section below.

Blow Money – The Budget Category You Should Not Be Slacking On

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Were you the person creating your budget and wondering if blow money was really something you could justify? Have you ever found yourself in the midst of your debt free journey and found yourself thinking, “well I’m doing so great now, if I gave up my blow money I could put all that towards my snowball and get done with my debt x amount of times faster?”

Don’t do it!

I was you, and it was a huge mistake, seriously.

While blow money might seem like an easy thing to cut in order to reach your goals faster, in my experience it actually did the opposite.

That’s because while blow money also provides you a little bit of freedom, it also provides you with structure. The structure of having a set amount of money you can spend on you is often a huge motivator in continuing your journey.

It allows you to get that Venti Starbucks Caramel Mochiato you’ve been craving.

It allows you to buy that fancy CC Cream that’s the only thing you like on your skin.

It allows you to take the kids to grab a snowcone as a treat on a hot summers day.

It allows you to say yes to the new Melissa & Doug Puzzle your kids have been drooling over.

And it allows you to do it all guilt free.

Let me tell you a secret: taking away your blow money is not going to stop you from spending money on yourself. All it does is take away the structure, the boundaries, and the that it’s line in the budget creates. Taking it away is a breeding ground for guilt, and it’s not a fun way to live.

So allow yourself a little bit of freedom, your conscience and your wallet will thank you. I promise.

Life Updating: Moving Forward

I feel like it’s been forever since I sat down to post. So many things have gone on in the last few months, both financial and personal, and my brain has been living in constant overload. If I am being honest I feel like I’ve been living in a cloud of guilt and shame that my financial goals, as well as my household and family goals, are not coming to fruition. And it’s lead to a revolving door of anxiety and depression.

For example, while I am happy to say that we have not taken on any more debt since May, it comes with a sense of shame that it took me that long to get my husband on board with doing so. And on top of that our debt has still increased from then to now because of interest and such, and we’ve also had to pull money from savings several times since May to make ends meet.

We are making progress in our income, the hubs’ business is now up and running and doing good, we started it with no debt, and were even able to pay ourselves a bit each month since our second month being open. I am hopeful that this month we will be able to fully fulfill our budget with income from my job and the business, meaning no more money coming out of savings.

On top of finances, my house is a mess, and my kids are constantly going insane. Flu season is kicking our butts this year. We battled a PICU stay with Austen due to the adenovirus in November, influenza A in Atlas right after that, and so many rounds of the norovirus that I can’t honestly count. I’ve become so desperate I no longer let people wear shoes inside and everyone has to use hand sanitizer as soon as they come in, then I sanitize doorknobs each day. But the everyday clutter? It has me beat.

Basically this a whiney, I can’t do anything right kind of post, and I’m sorry. I want to be upbeat and happy all the time, but lately, I just can’t.

What I can tell you is that I am taking steps to get on top of things. I am human, I fall, we all do. I’m a real mom, a real person, and if you’re wanting to read a blog about a perfect wife, with a perfect house, and perfect kids and finances…well you need to look somewhere else. I will always try, but I will fail a lot and I know that it’s life.

So what am I doing? A new approach to therapy for one. I switched to a therapist who focuses on CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to get ahold of my anxiety. I think that will be a big thing to allow me to focus on other aspects of my life. If I can get past my ‘stinkin thinkin’ I can move on top more positive thoughts and move on with my days instead of spending all day fixating on one mistake and the next on all the things I didn’t accomplish while I was fixating on that thought (I told you it was a brutal cycle). I’m also working on my internal health. I’m exercising, and making sure to take my vitamins, I’m eating healthier, and taking time to myself each day. I’ve also found a natural antidepressant supplement that I am giving a try, to hope that takes the edge off of my really bad days.

And thanks to marriage therapy (yep, we’re in it and I’m not ashamed) my marriage is starting to improve. We’re on the same page with our finances, we’re going over our budgets and spending together, and we’re starting to get on the same page with parenting as well. Thanks to our awesome therapist we are on the same page in so many areas, where before I don’t even think we were reading the same book…or sitting in the same library. It’s amazing to see what progress can be made when we are working together. Who would have thought?!

Finally, to jump start my new mindset I’ve given up extra spending for Lent. No more picking up this or that in my Target trips. So far I’ve been successful, although I’ve mostly been avoiding going shopping. I did actually go to Target on Sunday and come out with exactly the six items on my list, nothing more. I was very proud.

I think 2018 has some pretty good things in store for me, despite all the muck of the last few years. I’m excited. I’m persisting. And I’m moving forward into a brighter future.

 

 

The Budget: Why It Is Your Most Important Financial Tool

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Ah, the dreaded budget. The list of rules that dictates your life and your wallet. Most people hate the idea of a budget, many say that they do not need it, they are doing fine without it, it’s just not a necessity. They are wrong.

If there is anything, anything at all you take from this blog in regards to financial advice, I hope it is the importance of a budget. Not because I want to you to live a life restricted by the numbers on a list, but because I want to experience the freedom that a budget can give you.

Freedom, from a budget? You heard me, the budget is your number one tool to gaining financial freedom, and here is why.

It shows you where your money is going.

We made our first budget by analyzing our last three months of expenses and averaging out what we spent in different areas each month. Things like rent, internet, and our utilities were not a surprise. They rarely changed each month anyway. The fact that we spent almost 200.00 eating out in one month, yea that we didn’t expect. By seeing where exactly our money had gone in the past we were able to see what changes we could make to achieve bigger goals in the future.

You are in charge of your budget, not the other way around.

You tell your money where to go, you set the rules. Your budget isn’t this big bully trying to confine you into a rigid set of rules. You can choose how much money you want to spend each month eating out, or going on dates, or on that awesome new toy you’ve been eyeing for the kids.. All that matters is that it fits into your budget, that it equals zero when your done. Seriously, that’s the only rule, the rest is up to you.

Your budget is fluid.

Our needs change monthly. Sometimes unexpected events come up, last minute plans are made, or spontaneous opportunities arise. These things do not have to be budget killers, only budget changers. Did you just get invited to see Hanson on tour? I can only dream. Well, you don’t have to say no, you just have to adjust the budget to make it fit. Spend a little less eating out, save up your blow money, don’t buy that new mascara you’ve been dreaming of. It’s all about the give and take. It’s up to you.

Your budget is an asset, not a jail sentence. Simply take charge, be vigilant, and chances are you will discover your money can go a lot farther than you thought.

Want a copy of my free budget planning printable? Simply sign up for my email list to gain access to the free resources page!

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Are you still confused about your financial situation, or are completely overwhelmed by the idea of a budget and just don’t know where to start? Adam Hagerman, a certified financial planner, has set up a program designed to help. Adam will walk you through the steps of why you need a budget, how to implement it, as well as how to go beyond it to the path of financial freedom. And the best part? Whether you go with his payment plan option or pay upfront the whole 97.00  fee for the class, Adam’s Budgeting for Budget Haters Class will help you control your finances without emptying your wallet in the process.