$31,699 Left on Our Mortgage

Ladies, I’m beyond grateful and excited because as of today, $31,699 is left on our mortgage. Lord willing, we will see the $20k’s within two weeks or so.

We are almost three years into our debt/mortgage free journey. I’m so grateful to God for how far He’s brought us. All glory belongs to Him.

So much of this journey has been a lesson in contentment. I’ve learned that I don’t need many of the things that I thought I needed before. My children do not need all of the extracurricular activities. The best things in life are free, and simplicity is a precious gift to give them.

After a busy month, I’m looking forward to settling in our home and nesting. Our ninth child, a boy, is due in less than a month now. The last two weeks have been filled with small purchases to get ready for baby. Our biggest expense was building up my cloth diaper stash again. I used cloth with our fifth and sixth children for a time. I’ve decided to dive back in and I’m very excited about it. Our new Thirsties covers are my favorite purchase.

So cute!

So much of our baby clothing and gear has been provided by my mother in law and my husband’s aunt. They have been a God send! Since our youngest son is almost ten, we were lacking in boy things. But not anymore!

Hopefully we can keep extra expenses to a minimum going forward. That is the plan, anyhow.

The Scriptures have been so reassuring during this time, even when my flesh is weak.

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Luke 12:27

The Lord cares for us and wants to provide for our needs. He is our loving Heavenly Father, and has been so good to us. Even when the answer is no to some of our wants and desires, He is good.

Looking forward, we are excited to honor God with our finances, instead of paying for our past. We hope to be good stewards of what the Lord has given us while setting a good example for our children. They are always watching and absorbing.

I would also like to take a minute and share a testimony I recently read from a sweet blogger. I hope you are encouraged by it.

Have a blessed rest of the week!

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Life in Our Home || October 2019

When I look back at the past month, I see a flurry of activity. As we prepare for the birth of our ninth child, things have been busy! Throw in birthday parties for three children, dropping our first child off at college, and the continual settling into our new home, and I must admit that I am tired.

The blog has been quiet as of late. We have been laser focused on paying off our mortgage, which involves me (by my own choice) accepting a lot of Etsy orders. I feel like it is time to wind down, with baby being due in early November. This has been a struggle for me. We have come such a long way, and I’m ready for this chapter to end! We started off with $293,000 worth of debt in November 2016, and are now at $33,699 left on our mortgage. My sweet husband has been working a lot of overtime and overall, we try to live a fairly simple life. Downgrading our home twice has also helped our cause.

I think one of the reasons why I am having a difficult time slowing down is because I place a lot of the blame of our debt on myself. My husband has always been more steady and smart with finances than me, and I was usually the one who wanted the new house, car, or camper. I was the one with student loans. We are in a totally different place now, thanks to God’s mercy. But I still take the words “Owe no one anything but love” in Scripture very seriously and I’m trying very hard to find the appropriate balance. I think my focus will shift to frugality even more so once our baby arrives to counteract any losses in Etsy income.

Life has been different without our oldest daughter here. I believe this has been the hardest part of parenting so far. This life change has made me cherish the moments with my other children even more so. Children are such blessings and gifts. I am truly blessed to be expecting our ninth at age 39.

The pregnancy has been going well except for some nerve pain in my leg which puts me out of commission at times. My family has been so helpful and I’m very grateful for them.

We celebrated the Feast of Trumpets a few days ago, and I’m looking forward to celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles soon! How I love His feasts and this time of year!

I hope you ladies have a lovely October. Oh, and I would love to quickly share a head covering article that was a blessing to me which I recently stumbled upon. Blessings!

Downsizing, Again?

Hello, friends. As I type, I’m sitting in the living room of our new-to-us cabin. We have downsized, yet again. This time it’s more in the manner of land instead of house size. We now live on 1.5 acres instead of 6. The land is both hillside and rocky, not at all usable like our last home.

The inside of our home is about the size of our last one, if you don’t count the garage conversion we completed last year. I honestly didn’t know if our furniture would fit. But joy upon joys, it does. Our living room fits our new-to-us furniture well. We didn’t pay a dime for any of it, praise God. Our kitchen is awfully tight, but we have plans to convert our screened porch into a sun/dining room one day. Our master bath boasts a single sink and the washer/dryer. Surprisingly, I don’t miss our previous master bath at all! I do miss the privacy our previous place offered, though.

Instead of two baths, we now have three, which is wonderful news for our family of ten! We are also now spread out between three levels instead of one. The noise reduction is a huge plus.

The past few years have been an exercise of embracing the simple and learning to be content with the abundance the Lord has set before me. Most everyone living in America lives in abundance. A yearly income of $33,000 puts you in the top 1% of wage earners worldwide.

Those of us living in America and other industrialized nations (myself being one of them) often forget how abundantly blessed we are if we have clothing to cover our bodies and food. That’s it. We are taught in Scripture to be content if we have these things. But how often do we chase the next car, the season’s must-have accessory, or the upcoming family vacation? We tell ourselves things like, “You only live once,” or “It’s more important to make memories instead of paying off debt quickly.” Again, I’ve been there and am still there at times!

Free fun at our library.

God has changed my heart like only He could. Our mortgage debt now feels like such a burden and I want to be rid of it. I have been deeply convicted about our debt. I have no business taking lavish vacations if we owe the bank a huge debt. In this abundantly blessed place that we live in, there are so many free and inexpensive opportunities for fun and recreation right under our noses. People in other places of the world only dream of the opportunities we have.

Our new living room.

So yes, we have downsized again, and I’m embracing it. My daughters and I planted a small container garden today, which was lovely. The cabin is cozy, and well just about perfect when it comes to my preferred decor style. We are sitting on two mortgages at the moment, and prayers are appreciated for our out of state home to sell quickly. My husband’s new job necessitated a quick move, which is why we still (or the bank, ha!) still technically owns both homes. Once it sells, Lord willing, we will be completely mortgage free fairly soon.

Thank you so much for stopping by! Feel free to read my thoughts about motherhood here, and connect with me on Instagram.

New Blog – Finance & Frugality

Good morning, friends! It’s been a minute. I hope everyone has had a wonderful spring thus far!

I wanted to pop on the blog to let y’all know that I have started a new blog called Finance & Frugality. I’m using this new site to chronical our financial journey. Since November 2016, we have paid off $152,000 of debt, with most of this amount being our mortgage.

I do plan to still write here as well. 2019 has been both busy and blessed for us. We are preparing for our oldest daughter to attend college in the fall, we have another one graduating this year, and more exciting things are in the works.

If you would like to follow the financial side of our journey, please take a look at the new site here.

Blessings!

Living Simply and Intentionally This December

Hello, friends! It has been a minute. I have been concentrating on accomplishing a few 2018 goals before the year ends, and have been busy!

What a blessed year it has been. It has been a year of growth for me, for sure. I’ve grown closer to the Father as I’ve learned more and more about His truths.

I’ve been stretched as we have strived to live more simply. I’ve also been stretched as we have squeezed our finances to pay off our mortgage as quickly as possible.

As we end the year, I would love to encourage you to live more simply and intentionally. Just yesterday, I learned that while the United States contains only 3% of the world’s children, these same children own 40% of the world’s toys. This statistic is mind boggling to me.

Our children need things like a secure home life and a present mother to grow into happy and healthy adults, not an abundance of toys. I am now doing my best to encourage our children to embrace the simple and important things in life. But please believe me when I say I didn’t always used to live this way. I’m so thankful to the Lord for the work He has done in my life!

We all can do our part to fight the consumerism monster. Even in December, it can be done!

I hope to begin posting again more regularly in the near future. I am on Instagram almost daily, and you can find me there at redeeming_home.

Be encouraged, mamas. You are doing the Lord’s work!

Our Family Was Featured in Above Rubies!

I hope your year has been wonderful thus far, friends! We have been both busy and blessed. And when I say busy, I mean busy. My family was featured in the “Can God Provide?” section of the Above Rubies magazine over the summer, and I’m just getting around to sharing the short article!

Stepping out in Faith

I am continually amazed by God’s provision and timing! After welcoming our eighth child into our family, we realized we needed to improve our money management skills. While working to get out of consumer debt, my husband discovered a job opening in another state that sounded perfect for him.

At first, I was fearful of change. By the time I was comfortable with the idea of moving, the position was no longer available. Silly me. I then took matters into my own hands and became involved with an MLM company. No matter how hard I tried, my new “job” was not successful. All I did in the process was spend my husband’s hard-earned money!

I relaxed and let go of the reins. Lo and behold, a similar position for my husband became available at the exact same company a couple of months later. This time around my husband wasn’t so sure, since he remembered my trepidation before. He waited until the final hour of the final day to submit his application after much reassurance on my end.

He was hired quickly, and a month later we moved to South Carolina! Our finances look better now than they ever have before. The Lord has been so kind and gracious to provide for us when we stepped out in faith. His ways are perfect. It is a joy to know the freedom available to me when I rest in my true role as a Biblical wife instead of trying to take matters into my own hands.

It was such a blessing to share my short testimony with the Above Rubies audience! Oh, what a time that was! The first job that my husband almost applied for was a department supervisor job, and the job he ended up getting with the same company was a lead designer job which supervises a group of six men. God orchestrated all of the details.

I also would like to mention that this story was written from my perspective. My husband was just as trepidatious as I was when you hear him tell the story, and he in no way blames me. He would say that he was the unsure one, ha!

My time selling Young Living Oils was a mess, and I spent SO much money on unnecessary products. I DO love essential oils however, and I’m so glad that I went ahead and finished an Aromatherapy Certification course during that time.

I would love to say that everything has been amazing and wonderful since we’ve moved…but these past few months have been hard. We have not questioned our decision to move in the least, but we have come to the realization that our life here looks radically different than it did in Georgia. I have found myself wishing that things were different in regards to our local.

But ladies, God has not called us to be comfortable. He has used this year, in His great mercy, to call me to really surrender to Him. I want to be fully surrendered…but surrendering our flesh is hard. I’ve finally realized, not just in my head but in my heart as well, that His ways are better. I can truly say now that I would rather be here than there, finances aside. I can truly say that our extremely rural local is much better than our semi-rural past existence. We can actually really see the stars at night now! I’m not terrified when reading stories about the upcoming 5G Network which will broadcast radiation smog throughout populated areas, ha! And, do you know what? Even if we hated everything about the move, His ways would still be better.

I would like to encourage you to wait on the Lord’s perfect timing. He is still writing our story, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead of us. His mercy and love is great for you, sweet mama.

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

1 Peter 1:3

Feel free to check out my Etsy shop below:

How We Paid Off Over $30,000 of Debt in Less than Six Months

If you would have told me six months ago that we would be $30,000 less in debt today, I would have laughed.

We were seriously tapped out.  Unless I put in time at my etsy store, I thought that we had absolutely no money to squeeze out of our budget each month.  Well, if you could call our method “a budget,” that is.  We pretty much bought whatever we thought we “needed” and then wondered where our money went each month.

Out of a sense of desperation, I decided to look into Dave Ramsey and purchased The Total Money Makeover.  I devoured it!  I didn’t know if we could really make the debt snowball work for us, but we decided to give it a try.  We started cutting back in small areas, and before we knew it we had saved $4,250…just enough to pay for the new heat pump that we needed.  I was astonished.  We had NEVER been able to pay for an item that cost this amount without going into debt.

With newfound determination, we decided to give it all we got.  We are now $30,000 in debt lighter, and it feels so good!  At the time of this writing, we are down to owing money on my student loan debt ($32,000) and our mortgage.

I thought it would be fun to share the things that have worked for us since we are basically at the half-way point, mortgage aside.  All glory goes to God!

  • Get a good budgeting app.  We personally went with the free version of Every Dollar, and it helped us really understand where our money was going at all times.  For this to work, I had to be diligent to add every purchase.  For a monthly fee per month the app can be linked to your bank account, but I was not willing to pay it!
  • If you don’t have the cash don’t buy it.  Seriously.  Stick to that budget.  If a true emergency comes up, use the emergency fund.  I’ve had to say “no” to many extras that just weren’t in the budget.  It is difficult, but the payoff is worth it in the end.
  • Stay encouraged and motivated.  After purchasing The Total Money Makeover, I started watching Dave Ramsey’s YouTube channel.  These short episodes kept me motivated when I was tired of our new lifestyle.  I have the phrase “DEBT = RISK” written on the white board in our kitchen as a reminder to me each day.
  • Cut the grocery budget where you can.  We started going to Aldi on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, and only purchase a few items at Walmart.  I began meal planning for the first time ever, and utilized the Freezer Cooking Meal Plan from Passion for Savings.  Our family of ten now has a monthly grocery budget of $650.
  • Cut extracurriculars.  This was a tough one for me.  One of my oldest daughters is really involved in ballet, and it was taking up so much time and money.  We were gone 5-6 days per week sometimes.  We found a less expensive school where she only goes three days per week now.  She loves it, thankfully!
  • Cut your vacation budget.  Dave Ramsey advocates for no vacations until debt is paid off, but we have gone camping one time.  While in Savannah, we spent our time at either low-cost or no-cost activities, and we didn’t even visit a single seafood restaurant.   This was tough for me, ha!  We do plan on taking a few more camping trips before too long.  The kids really enjoy it!
  • Shop at consignment stores.  I have been doing this for awhile anyhow, but it is definitely a big help.  I do tend to purchase my boys clothes new since boys are so hard on clothes and there really isn’t much for them at second hand shops in my experience.
  • Use your tax refund to pay down your debt.  Our tax refund was almost $10,000, and we put all of it on our debt.  It wasn’t really hard at the time, because I was so motivated by the books I was reading and videos I was watching.
  • Shop around for insurance.   We realized that we were paying WAY too much on our home insurance, and we shopped around for a lower rate.  We ended up going with a different company that saved us $200 per month, AND we received nearly a $2,000 refund from our escrow account, which promptly was used to pay down debt.
  • Make sacrifices.  We need a new cooktop, but they aren’t cheap.  Instead, we purchased a $30 countertop double burner from Walmart.  It isn’t ideal, but it works until we are ready to invest in a replacement cooktop.
  • Cut cable and other similar expenditures.  We were able to find a new cell phone plan that saves us $60 per month, and we cut cable only to have it turned back on one week later at a much lower rate and a $200 gift card offer.  We used the gift card to buy groceries, so even more money could go towards our debt.
  • Be content with what you have.  If it’s not broken, don’t buy a new one.  Try to find ways to use what you already have.  These are a few of my new mantras.  I’ve also tried to become more content with staying at home.  When I leave the house I usually spend money!
  • Use your talent to make extra income.  If it wasn’t for my etsy shop, we wouldn’t have paid down our debt as quickly as we have.  If you have any skills that you can put to use in your home, I suggest giving it a try.  But don’t go into debt to start a new business.  It doesn’t necessarily take money to make money.
  • Use the Debt Snowball.  When you pay off one debt, put the money you were using on that debt on your next one.  We have paid off our debts from smallest to largest, and it’s nice to wave good-bye as they begin to drop off quickly.
  • MY #1 TIP IS…Pray and give it to God.  Give Him all of the glory for all He has done.  If your debt is being reduced, He is ultimately behind it.  Just last week we were $570 away from paying off our travel trailer, and then we received two checks totaling $580 in our mailbox.  We had overpaid our oral surgeon nearly five months ago, and had no idea.  God was definitely at work!

money-2212965_640

What are we going to do next?

Well, I’m not entirely sure.  If we were to follow Dave Ramsey’s plan to a T, we would start attacking my student loans.  I don’t like having only $1,000 in savings however.  I think we might have our land surveyed and try to sell a piece of it to pay off my loans while building our Emergency Fund.  If the sale of the land doesn’t work out, we will dump what we’ve saved on the Student Loans.  That is our loose plan, anyhow.

I also am now a Mary & Martha Independent Consultant. Besides helping myself and others beautify their homes with God’s Word, I pray that this venture might lessen our debt load as well.

While I do not know what the future holds, I look at debt in a totally different light now.  While we hope to avoid it entirely, I know at least we will strive to only make purchases if we can pay cash, or have a substantial down payment in hand.  I used to think I could afford an item if I could afford it’s payment.  No more!  We went from thinking we had NOTHING to use to pay extra on debt to having a decent sized debt-snowball to throw on it each month.

Thank you so much for stopping by, and I hope this post has encouraged you.  If we can do this with eight children, you can as well!

Thank you so much for stopping by! I would love to connect with you on Facebook. I’d also like to invite you to my Mary & Martha Facebook Page, and to my Mary & Martha website. It is a such a blessing to serve you!

Our Debt Free Journey – March Update

Ahh, I can hardly believe it is already March!  I wanted to give a quick “debt free journey” update.  With a good push from our federal tax return, we are now working on our 2nd to largest debt besides our house.

Last week we owed $1,777 on a personal loan from our credit union (which was really just a credit card consolidation.)  As of right now that is paid off, and the balance on our travel trailer has gone from $14,300 to $7,250.

I am pumped!  I really want to see the travel trailer debt GONE, but we have allocated a bit of funds to take an “anniversary” camping trip to Skidaway Island near Savannah.  We really love that place!  I am working on a frugal activity schedule, and it looks like we are going to be able to make that happen.  The kids are so excited!

In November, we started out with around $67,000 worth of debt (not including our mortgage).  Now we are down to around $40,000 by the grace of God!  After the travel trailer is paid off, we will start to tackle my $33,000 student loans.  We are thinking about selling a small tract of land from our property to pay off the majority of this debt.