Debt Free Zone

How to Get out of Debt

5 Steps to Raising Financially Responsible Children

Set goals, work together, give to charities

Dont miss the prior posts

How to Get out of Debt part 1

How to get out of debt part 2

We received some great info from a follower and thought it was wise advice:

Growing up, things were always tight for my family. I knew that certain things could not be afforded, like ballet lessons, and that certain things were substituted for ballet lessons, like soccer at YMCA. But I never truly understood why it was that my parents were so far behind on their bills or why my Dad had to work two jobs just to support our family. I was never taught the true value of a dollar; I was taught that working to make ends meet was the way life was meant to be lived. But this could not be further from the truth. After beginning the process towards becoming a financially responsible adult, I realized that there are many things parents can do to ensure their children have a successful but realistic financial future. Some children will have trust funds and college accounts and their needs will be taken care of. This article is about raising the other kind of children: the kind of children who develop thrifty habits and value frugality and worth over fanciful and flashy.

Saving money involves each and every member of the family, and there are five simple steps you can take today to get your entire family on board your plans of savings and frugality.

1. Clue them in. Let your children know about your financial situation. They do not need to know about every last credit card bill you charged up in college ten years ago and are still paying on, but they should have a general idea of the financial situation and budget. How much is set aside for sports and recreation activities for each child? If the child knows this information, it is her financial decision what sport to participate in, and this builds character and fiscal responsibility.

2. Set a common goal. What is it that your family would like to accomplish? Paying off the last of the debt? Making the final mortgage payment? Taking a family vacation? Decide what financial goal your family is working toward, and create together a visual reminder. It could be a picture cut out from a magazine brochure clipped onto the refrigerator, or a chart showing how much family debt has been paid off so far. A visual reminder toward a common goal helps keep the family (and the wallets) united.

3. Enlist help in saving. There are ways that each family member, from 0-18, can help cutback and increase the family savings. Encourage your children to help clip coupons and match them to sale ads, and to get the appropriate items at the grocery store. Even my 2 ½ year old loves to hold Mommy’s coupons at the store. Older children can be in charge of finding the best deals for family needs online or finding trendy, like-new clothing for themselves at garage and thrift stores. Sons can scour local secondhand stores for their sports equipment like cleats and shin guards. Your husband or wife can be your equal partner, keeping you accountable for extra spending and helping assist your children in their frugal endeavors.

4. Find frugal rewards for reaching individual goals. Money or gifts have long been traditional rewards for a job well done such as a recital or perfect report card. Learning to replace these material rewards with frugal gifts from the heart cuts back on the budget and fills the soul with love and admiration. Use the skills you already have. Can Dad do woodworking? How about a new shelf to hang his son’s sports equipment on after he wins the last game of the season. Daughter get a good report card? How about a homemade gift certificate for a handmade pizza of her choice and a Netflix DVD night with a friend? Frugality is nothing more than creativity with money and goods.
5. Encourage Charity. Even a 2 year old is capable of understanding that once a month she must choose a toy that will be given to a little boy or girl who has no toys. Encourage charity in your children, with their material possessions and their time. A teenager who cannot possibly part with any of their belongings can still volunteer to help coach ballet or soccer an afternoon or two per week. Giving back to others teaches children the cycle of reciprocity and helps them become adults.

Nadia is a young Army wife and mother of two who enjoys shopping and sharing her frugal lifestyle

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How to Get out of debt!


Staying out of debt is the best thing that can happen in your life.

Make sure you read our first post How to get out of debt! Part 1 of 3

Well I wish we did a budget. Our way of budget is in our head… We think we have so much until we look at our account once a week. We talk about it together, and both know how much money is going out or coming in.   We sit down and do it together as a team!  What is weird about it is that we have spent way less in every aspect of our life now that we run this site. I’m not sure if it’s just that being “Thrifty” is on our mind even more now, or that we are just too busy to go and do more shopping for things other than groceries.

I have to fess up that when we first got married 9 years ago I brought in more then $10,000 in credit card debt to our marriage. Sarah was so good about accepting me for me, and teaching me her thrifty ways way back then. I knew some simple budget rules, and simple ways to get out of debt, so I applied what I knew.

I sat down on a 4×5 inch note pad and made a chart.  On top was our tithe to our church. Next was the bills like mortgage, then car payment, and utilities in that order. I figured that I could do with out the phone or do with out cable if it came down to us not having money to pay all of the bills. I placed everything in order of importance. Below those bills came the dreaded credit cards. The one with the highest interest came first. Next to the name I wrote down minimum monthly payment / credit card balance. Then I continued until I had every debt written down. At first I had to write pretty small.

So my plan was that when ever I got a check I wrote down the gross and the net payment on the very top of each 4×5 note pad. I paid my tithe, my mortgage on and on down the list till my credit cards. They say to always pay off the credit card with the highest interest first. So what I did was figured out the minimum payment for all the cards, and the remaining balance I lumped into the one with the highest interest.

I rewrote every card every 2 weeks along with my pay checks. I stapled them together after making all the checks out to my debts. I had a huge stack. But you know what, we paid each one off in only a year and a half. I am not sure how we did it now that I look back. I was a car salesman. One month I would make two or three thousand, and the next 5 months I would make minimum wage. At that time Sarah was working at the dealership too (that’s how we met and is a whole different story). She was barely making over minimum wage too. To give you an idea we spent $15 per week on groceries for 3 people (even when Matthew was born)

By the time Matthew came along, 1 and 1/2 years after we were married, we were out of debt and had 6 months of our mortgage paid in advance. Yeah I am amazed even now. Now that we are out of debt, there has been a huge burden lifted from us. People always say money is the root for a lot of divorces. The stress from bills, credit cards, and collectors can split even the best of marriages. Don’t let that happen to you.

I’m so thankful to my wife when I hear people tell us of how much money they have saved by following what my wife tells them. We both truly do this site for you and your family. Financial stress can be taken away or maybe even lifted by following the tips she shares. We just want to help anyone willing to take time and learn how to use coupons a new and different way. We want to show people how to be thrifty and independent from creditors. Pass what you have learned on to your friends. Being thrifty doesn’t mean having to live like a street person. We are not telling you to buy that 1972 Datsun, or to sit on milk crates in your family room. But what we can show you is how to save money on groceries, or save money on other shopping purchases. So that you can go get that nice car or nice house, and still live with in your means. Just yesterday we were talking to an owner of a business and he stated that driving a Ford Excursion is kind of funny while being thrifty. I chuckled and said, yeah when you can buy them at a government auction for under $5000 its being real thrifty. The largest SUV  for that price is like getting your groceries for free. We buy all of our vehicles at the GSA auctions. To find one near you click here

Anyways, thank you for following our site. Hopefuly we have saved you money. Hopefully you and your spouse have smiles on your face when you come home shopping. That is why we do this, to make families happier by saving money and becoming A Thrifty Mom.

More to come Tomorrow….

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How to Get out of Debt


How to get out of debt – a three part series.

I got a couple emails over the last while asking various questions on how we are so Thrifty. Well truthfully its been all Sarah and a learning curve for me. One email in-particular is about how to be thrifty while planning a wedding. We spent about a total of $1800- on our wedding, reception and honeymoon. This included rings, her’s (1/3 ct, she only wanted the 1/4 ct cause it was cheaper and I had to talk her into the larger one) and mine (9 little diamonds in the middle). The cake which a friend made and was the finest cake I had seen. They made it out of rice krispy treats. Partly to pull a prank on me “struggling to cut it” and partly because sheet cakes are cheaper. The cake was about 3-4 separate layers with pillars. It was about 2-3 ft tall. The top being actual cake for us to take home and freeze for the year(for you guys- its some wedding tradition I don’t know much about except it took up room in the freezer, but I did it anyways) The cost of the wedding included nice picture frames with photos of our childhood on each table (bought from the dollar store before we even dated) It included the finger foods, you know the mints, nuts, and chocolates. It included the wedding guest book, the pen and all the foo-foo stuff that comes with the wedding. Sarah’s Aunt was happy to share tablecloths, flowers and wedding decorations to make our church gym into a reception hall.  It included the photographer (Darby- Sarah’s oldest brother, and yes he did a great job). And did I forget anything? Oh yes even the dress! Which we still have hanging in our closet. The honeymoon was at Soldier Mountain. Which is a huge house north of Fairfield Idaho, south west of Sun Valley. We had the master suite. It had a huge California king, a huge hot tub in the room, a large walk-in shower for 2 or more even. The bathroom had a toilet of coarse but it even had a bidet, you know that toilet in reverse that sprays water on your backside, and just makes things worse. And one thing it didn’t have, which as I look back I am glad it didn’t – a TV. We just spent time together, focused on each other. We paid $75 for each night and stayed 2 nights. We went to Sun Valley, walked around with the celebrities and did what ever they do. It was a lot of fun.

Why was it fun you ask? Why didn’t we go to the Bahamas, where I had been a few years back on a free vacation (long story). Why didn’t we go to Mexico, or Italy. Well the reason is we didn’t want to go into our marriage for eternity with debt over our head. Once the excitement wears off and the bills start rolling in, cable, rent or mortgage, utilities, car payments, health care, food, insurance, gas money, etc – then stress hits and puts a strain on the relationship.

We all watch Dr Phill, or Oprah, or those shows. We all see what happens when money is a stress on the relationship. Ever since I was a early teen, I always thought you could live like a king on $30,000 per year. It is true, it just depends on what your view of a “king” is. Is it the gold and the diamonds? Is it the fancy clothes, or those cool shoes that the Sex in the City girls wear, or even the half off mock ups of those shoes? Is it the $5000 or $10,000, or $30,000 on one day, or even a week of vacation that makes the wedding, or makes the relationship?

Sometimes I think we need to take a deep look inside and re-evaluate our pride. Now if you wince at that word, or are having a hard time reading this, then maybe its been awhile since we have had that evaluation.

Being a nurse, I see a lot of seniors. Let’s face it as we get old our health fails. I’m sure you have noticed that cute old couple. Probably in their late 80’s or even 90’s, holding hands, she is probably driving because he wore his body out working. I see them all the time in the hospital. Sure they don’t stay at the bedside through the night because he tells her she better get home before she can’t see to drive at night. Have you ever thought about how they stayed married for 60 or 70 years?

My challenge to our readers is to find one of those couples and ask them… How have you stayed married for so long?

They will tell you that it’s not because they spent a load on a wedding, or on the ring, or because they went to Mexico, or the Bahamas. It’s not because they racked up a huge credit card debt. What they will tell you is that the relationship is ALL that matters. And don’t do anything to put stress on that.You should really ask them what it was like in the Great Depression. These are the people who struggled more then we are now. And they still remain happily married.

I can’t tell you what you should and shouldn’t buy, or how much is too much for a certain item. What I can tell you is ” Will that really make a difference in your relationship, now or 10 years from now?” Isn’t a relationship more of what’s to come then whats happening right now? If we always focused on what makes us happy NOW, then I can tell you that the relationship will eventually be less then it could’ve been, and the credit card companies will love you even more.

Other things to think of are…

In todays view everyone needs a home phone and a cell phone with internet, texting, games, music downlads, and on top of that a new phone every time the newest one comes out!

Really? Don’t you see the enslavement things like this cause? See what you can do to cut cost!

TV? Do you really need the TV? And all the add channels and programing. I have a friend who pays almost $200 extra dollars a month for his football channels! Now he can watch 8 games at one time… Really? Or just the extra $10 a month for HBO or those other channels… See what you can cut!

Toys? Motorcycles, ATV’s, boats, snow machines, guns, scrapbooking supplies, computers, video games, workout equipment, ipods, and so much more! If you really want to cut your budget and get out of debt, you CAN forfeit these at least for a short while… in the long run you will have so much more after you are out of debt!

Movie rentals! These add up! couple bucks here, couple buck there! If your really need to get a movie in, try the dollar theater. Sure there is gum stock to the floor, just dont lick it! Or those box rentals you see like Blockbuster, or RedBox… use the free codes that come out all the time… or just make sure you only keep it one day, so they don’t keep charging you.

We have become a society that thinks we need these things to be normal! To fit in! Or just to survive! Trust me after the first couple days, you wont know any different! Just tell yourself that you want the burden of debt off your shoulders!

Once we got out of debt, every thing improved! Our life, our relationship, and now we get more, do more, and yes we can spend more! We buy things with cash and not plunk our hard earned money into interest to the bank!

Part 2…coming tomorrow

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The Day We Moved In

The Day We Moved In – home had been vacant for 2 years.

So we moved into our current home over three years ago. Wow it seems like just last month! When we bought the home we almost instantly started the remodel and began to tear down walls, rip out the carpets and chiseled out the old tile the day we moved in it seemed like. The plumbing and the kitchen have taken the most out of us both in time and money. If you know anything about me (Matt – the hubby) I like to do things my self. Not that I would rather do other things, or that I don’t want to spend the money, I just like the feeling of accomplishment of doing things myself. Learning how to tile, or install all new wiring with the help of my electrical engineer Dad is what makes life fun.

Looking at the walled off Dining room

Looking at the walled off Dining room

When we first looked at buying our current home the kitchen was a narrow galley type kitchen with a dining room separated in an attached room. The very first thing I knew we had to do was to take out these walls. And not to make it easy on our self because they turned out to be load bearing walls.

Looking towards the kitchen

Looking towards the kitchen

Removing the walls

Removing the walls

Kids had fun!

Kids had fun!

56Then we had to install matching wood flooring. It took days just to color match the stain on the old and the new floor.

7Next we had to move the water heater in the garage to make room for the new entrance of the garage door from the kitchen. And we wanted an island sink in addition to the normal sink under the window. And we wanted a “pot filler” over the stove. So we had to add plumbing. Well in that process we found out the 40 year old pipes were so corroded we decided to replace the metal pipe with the new pex tubing throughout the entire house. And we added a “in-line” water heater to provide constant hot water with out running out with a family of 6 and maybe more in the future, plus any friends that stay over. And it has saved us money on each gas bill!  The plumbing was done by our neighbor and boy that was a crazy week because we had no constant water and the two nights we had no water at all, our family had the stomach bug! Yeah gross—

Next we did all of the sheet rock, and moved the garage door, took out a normal door into the laundry room and added a pocket door.

915While shopping for flooring, we found the 3 slabs of granite that we always wanted. We were not ready for it because we didn’t have the cabinets through out the house for it. But both our granite guys and our cabinet guys (Heritage Cabinetry)were great working together. Our cabinet company (Sarah’s) brother did our home remodel in segments. He built all of the bases we needed for the granite. The island, the bathrooms, our computer desks and the bases in the kitchen. All over 3 months. We had to hurry because we had slabs just sitting at the granite shop waiting for us to hurry. But we wanted to make sure we didn’t go into debt so we paid it off as we went. Doing it this way was a risk of upsetting the companies working with us, and also a risk in the only granite slabs that matched each other breaking while they waited for us to build the cabinet bases.

Lived like this for three years!

Lived like this for three years!

Well we got all of the granite in through out the house. All of the bathrooms, the two computer desks, the island and the kitchen. But as you have seen in our Youtube videos, or in photos we had no upper cabinets or cabinet doors for about 3 years. We had to do so much so quick it burned up all of our savings. So we lived in a three year long construction zone. We had capped wires hanging out of the walls, for our cabinet lighting, Sheetrock dust every where, and it was a constant mess.

Between illness and business ventures that took the money away from us finishing our kitchen it was a long wait. Finally we saved up enough for our kitchen to be finished. The cabinet guys started to install and our whole family became so excited.

13Once the cabinets were installed the tile back splash process began. I have installed tile many times in my home remodels as well as back splashes. With back splashes you need to be very careful of your choices and your install. Even though you spend so much on the cabinets, the back splash is what the eye is drawn to.



So finally our kitchen remodel is done. Maybe now we can make more Youtube videos, because we don’t have to feel like we need to hide the wires sticking out of the walls!

So next time you want to spend a ton of money. Think to your self – “Can I pay this off in segments to stay out of debt?”. Yes living in construction for years seems just terrible  but now that the remodel is done, and there are no left over bills we can enjoy every bit of it. No wondering if you spent too much or if you are ever going to pay it off, but you can enjoy it free and clear.


Related Post:

DIY Concrete Stained Flooring

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