Time to Meal Plan

Meal planning is easily one of the best ways for Paul and I to stay on budget and save money.  Not only do we eat out less, but when I actually know what ingredients I’ll need for dinner, our grocery bill is smaller.  That being said, let me admit that I’m terrible at meal planning.  I typically go grocery shopping each week and buy a bunch of food, meats, veggies, etc. but I never actually make a plan to use it each night.  So when it comes time for dinner, I either A) haven’t thawed meat, B) don’t feel like cooking, or C) don’t have the right things.

When we made our move from Tallahassee to Orlando, I finally started meal planning, and then actually sticking to it!  We were doing so well, and then I got pregnant, and sick and didn’t cook a real meal for almost 2 months.  When Paul would pick up my slack and cook, I would get sick.  Part of me thinks it was seeing the actual prep side before a meal was complete that I couldn’t handle, but to be honest, I’m really not sure.  Aside from breakfast and lunch, we ate out for dinner almost every single night.  Which, as you can guess is EXPENSIVE!  Dave Ramsey would be so disappointed… 🙂

Well, I started feeling better, and I started going back to my old routine… which isn’t the best as I’ve already stated.  So, now I am actually going to make a meal plan, a grocery list, and stick to it!  So tomorrow I’ll go grocery shopping and at some point during the week I’ll cook the meals that I have bought the ingredients for.

Here’s our menu! Side notes: I don’t make a plan for 7 nights, as we always have left overs since it is just 2 of us, and we will eat leftovers as meals.  As of a few nights ago, we made shrimp and chicken skewers, and now all I want is shrimp.  I am also going to try and add chicken back into my diet as my aversion lessens… we’ll see how it goes!

I am so excited to cook these meals, because aside from the wings they are ALL new recipes (thanks Pinterest)… and the two with shrimp I’ve been craving for about a week now!  Hopefully they turn out, otherwise I think we will be making PB&J 🙂

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Money Makes the World Go Around

When I graduated from college I got really good at saving money (why I waited so long to start beats me) then Paul and I got engaged and my savings account rapidly began to dwindle.  Apparently a wedding will do that to your savings account.

After we got married, Paul and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course through our church. To say I loved it would be an understatement. In Dave’s words, I am a full blown nerd. I’ve always loved numbers (my mom is an accountant and my sister worked in finance before becoming a SAHM so I guess it runs in the family), so it was really easy for me to latch on to his basic concepts and hit the ground running! Immediately after Paul and I got married I became obsessed with paying down debt. My biggest fear is the lack of money to provide for our family. I want to give my kids an amazing childhood and be able to let them partake in activities the way my parents did. I want to be able to give them a great house, in a great neighborhood in a great school zone. I want to be able to pay for their college so they can graduate debt free the way I did. I want Paul and I to be able to retire and enjoy our time together instead of working forever.  This course provided solutions for all of my financial fears.  Sacrifice now and I won’t have to worry later! Well, Paul is more of the free spirit and has a much more faith based concept with money.  Completely rational, unless you’re his crazy money obsessed wife.  Our goals are the same, but we have slightly different ways of getting to the end result. Mine is complete sacrifice, working two jobs until we have kids, and followowing Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps entirely.  Paul’s is to be conscious and smart, but still have a life and splurge occasionally.

After Paul and I paid off all the credit card debt we decided it would be best for our family to save to buy a new house and then focus on paying off student loans. So we started saving, and the harder Paul and I worked to save the faster money left our accounts. I’ve said before, that 2014 has not been an easy one financially, and we are only half way through! The faster money left our account, the more obsessed I became.  My obsession with money became an issue. Money became an idol for me, and this realization smacked me straight across the face on February 20, 2014.

Paul has a herniated disc in his back. Long story short, he threw out his back and after a week of being in pain he became physically unable to walk. He texted me at work and told me he could not put weight on his legs. I had a little panic, and after calling around to a few doctors we were told we needed to go to the emergency room. Paul is by no means overweight, but he is much bigger than me and there was no way I could get him down the steps and into the car to get him to the hospital. I called my brother-in-law and he came over and we could not get Paul to the car. I finally asked Paul if we should just call an ambulance, and his words were “we can’t afford that”… My stomach literally flipped over. Here is my husband, in excruciating pain and unable to walk and his concern is MONEY. His concern was money because he was thinking of me and what I would think.

While I followed the ambulance to the hospital I just started crying and praying. I was crying because I felt so awful that my husband thought money was more important to me than his health. I was crying because I was scared that 6 months into our marriage my husband may be paralyzed from nerve damage. I was crying because it finally hit me, God has been trying to tell me all along that HE will provide for Paul and I. That I need to let go of financial control and obsessing over savings and running numbers to figure out when we can have things paid off, and when we will financially be stable enough to have children. God was telling me to put my trust and my faith in Him that everything will work out, and I needed to stop worrying.  Dave’s teachings are based on Godly principles, but I was not incorporating God into our plan.

God has been testing Paul and I this year, probably more so me than Paul.  We continue to have huge unexpected expenses each month, and I truly feel this is God giving me this lesson over and over to make sure I’ve learned where to put my focus now.  I have come a LONG way in the last 6 months, and I still have more work to do.  I stopped logging into our bank account every hour of the day.  I am not using money as the determining factor to decide when Paul and I will be ready to start trying to have a baby.  I am not running numbers everyday to figure out what we can save and when we may be able to move.  I am not so crazy about our budget, but I do still try to follow it.  Everytime I get anxious about money, I have learned to pray.  I am letting go of control.  I am letting God’s plan unfold and trusting that we will be fine.  I am so grateful that I can rely on Paul for his strength and his faith when I feel discouraged.  This is just the beginning of our journey, but I am so thankful that Paul is the one next to me to go through it. He gives me more grace than I deserve, and he has helped me more than he probably realizes.  Just another reason why God brought Paul into my life.  He always knows just what I need.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

Out With the Old, In with the Newish…

When Paul got his job as a Sales Rep almost two years ago, we quickly realized that with all of his traveling he would be doing he needed to be driving a car.  Not his gas guzzling F-150.  Being the loving girlfriend I was at the time, I let him take my car on his trips and I would just drive his truck.  Then we got married and we kept this same pattern.  Sounds like it works pretty well, right? WRONG.

ford

  • I am a little organized (maybe OCD organized). My wonderful husband is not.  Then stick him in a car where he is traveling for days at a time, lugging boxes of literature for customers, business cards out to wazoo, luggage, food, etc. and I think you will know where I am going with this.  Whenever Paul would get back in town we would trade back cars.  I would never be able to put groceries in the trunk.  I would have panic attacks from the amount of junk piled everywhere, but I’ve dealt with it because I love him and he loves his job.
  • Some girls can drive big trucks… Some girls cannot.  I am the later of those two said groups. I am NOT comfortable behind the wheel of a truck that is so MASSIVE!  Once I backed up too far… into the bushes.  Another time I cut a corner a little to close at a drive through, hitting a pole (luckily it was just a paint transfer from the orange pole onto Paul’s gray truck and was easily buffed out).  This past weekend I had a small fender bender… I shoud not be driving a truck (or maybe at all, but I don’t have much of a choice).
  • Paul has terrible back issues and my car provides ZERO lumbar support.  My back starts to bother me in my car if it’s longer than a 2 hour drive.  We’ve bought him cushions to alleviate the issue, and it does help, but not much.  I feel awful knowing he is uncomfortable/in pain while he is driving especially when he spends so much time on the road.
  • Our biggest issue with our car situation is that Paul has been driving my 2001 Nissan Sentra.  It’s a great little car.  Though this car is still working, neither one of us is really comfortable with Paul driving it such distances.   In the last year we’ve had to put a LOT of money into it to ensure his safety.  I know what you may be thinking… repairs are cheaper than a car payment.  Yes you’re right, but the car is still 13 years old.  We repair it and then he drives 10,000 miles in approximately 2 1/2 to 3 months.  The repairs are not lasting as long as they should (we’ve already replaced the motor mounts 3 times…).  The repairs are adding up.  (Yes Dad, I know we will have to do repairs on any car we own…)

Paul has wanted to get a new car for about a year (maybe more?).  I loved that we did not have any car payments.  In my head, we could make it work, and we did… for almost two years.  After my recent issues in Paul’s truck, we decided it was probably best to get rid of it (before I made it lose the rest of it’s value).  This is not something we rushed out and did.  We’ve talked about it for MONTHS.  Everytime he would bring it up I would get anxious about finances and not wanting a car payment and we need to save to move and blah blah blah.  This time when he brought it up I knew something had to be done.  He’s been looking at deals on cars for almost a year so when this one came up I actually felt pretty comfortable and at peace with the decision.

So last night we headed on over to the Ford Dealership (after Paul had made rounds to countless dealerships throughout the day) to take a look at this car.  After a long night at Ford,  I have a happy husband, my own clean car, and an aggresive plan for early repayment of our little loan.  Even though the loan is conservative I’m still pretty sure Dave Ramsey wouldn’t approve…

honda