Thursday, March 31, 2011

Paying extra on your mortgage (or any loan for that matter)

I am here to tell you that the power of loan prepayment is amazing! Jason and I have always tried to pay our loans off early to reduce the amount of interest we paid and it has worked out great so far.

For our auto loans instead of paying 1 monthly payment we would usually break that payment up and pay towards it weekly. This method hits the principal more frequently and speeds up your debt repayment a lot. We normally had auto loans at local banks/credit unions so weekly payments weren’t a problem or you could pay them online now weekly. When we could pay extra we did, but just by breaking the payment up you make a lot of progress.

We have also always tried to pay extra towards principal on our mortgages. We also make sure to get a mortgage that we can easily afford and pay extra when we can, but if things come up that use that extra money our normal mortgage payment is easily paid within our budget. As we made more money and paid other loans off, we would put even more towards our principal balance. Last year we were able to buy another house and use the equity we have achieved as a lump sum payment towards our current home mortgage. Yesterday I got my handy-dandy calculator out and realized that we are much closer to being debt free than I realized. This has motivated us both to make sure we stay on track with what we’re doing and maybe buckle down a tiny bit more.

It is just incredible to me just how much of a different paying extra can make to your loans. I’m sure our lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but I believe we live a pretty nice life. Neither of us really likes going on week-long vacation trips so we just naturally tend to have more “staycations” which of course saves more money. We are well clothed and fed and have entertainment that we enjoy. I just feel that our needs and wants just aren’t really that extravagant or expensive and this enables us to be able to save a lot without feeling deprived or bitter about the process. For example, starting this year we’ve started using only my salary for our living expenses and regular mortgage payment and using Jason’s salary for extra payments towards our mortgage and beefing up our savings/emergency account. It can be a little tight at times but it’s doable and makes me feel a whole lot better know that if something happened to one of our jobs that we would be able to make it.

I am not writing this to brag or show off, but hope to help someone out there that just doesn’t realize that there is a way off of the debt roller coaster. If fact, I bet a lot of people reading this make more money than we do, so it isn’t about big salaries either. It’s about what you do with what you have and using it to your best advantage. Why not keep more of your money to help yourself and be able to do things you want to do with it instead of sending it out into the world for other to enjoy?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crazy Craft Project - How to make a toilet bowl brush holder from 2 liter bottle!

I know this is out there, but I just wanted to see if I could do it and how it would turn out. It does save money however, reuses something that would otherwise be thrown away and can be customize to go with any bathroom decor. So, let's just have fun with it and see what happens.

First, I started with a 2 liter soda bottle.

Next, of course, you remove the label from the bottle unless you want to leave it for texture and paint over it.

From here I decided about where I wanted the top of the holder to be and cut away the rest of the top.

Now the fun part, I chose a simple gloss black spray paint for these and painted the outside of the bottles. It seemed easier to paint them upside down (and less messy too).

And now for the finished product. I decided that I cut off way too much from the top. I should have left more of the curve of the bottle for stability. It literally only took me 5 minutes from start to finish to do this and there is no way that I could have gone to the store and bought one in that amount of time.

Pro and Cons of the project:

Cheap to make
Can throw away when it gets gross inside
Can customize to any decor and get very creative with it
Fun project to do with kids

May not be for everyone
Cheap if you have the bottle and the paint on hand
Some people may not want to express their creativity with their toilet brush holders.

So there you have it, may be fun for some and a definite NO for others. Honestly, I will probably try it again with a higher top and use it. Maybe I'll even get a little more creative the next time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Recent cuts to some of our expenses

Here are some of the things we’ve done recently to lower our expenses and have more money to pay towards our mortgage.

The first thing we did was to cancel our landline service. Most everyone who called us used our cell phones anyway, so we felt like we were only paying to get calls from telemarketers. Once we realized that you don’t have to have landline phone service for internet service it seemed like a no-brainer to us. Honestly, we haven’t missed it one bit and have knocked about $35 off of our expenses.  (Yearly savings approximately $420.00 per year)

Second, we looked at our cell phone plan. It seems like for the most part we use texting more than we using phone calls. We have a pretty sizeable family share cell phone plan, but when I looked back over our bills we weren’t coming anywhere near our phone minutes. I looked over the plans and found what I thought would be better for us and save about $25 per month.  I called our service provider and had them run their own analysis (they can do this with a touch of a button and are happy to do it for you for free) and they came up with the same plan that I had.  (Yearly savings approximately $300.00 per year)

We were motivated to look at our other expenses for the same type of savings. Next on the table was our satellite service. I looked over the plans and what channels each tier offered. I realized that the extra tier we were paying more money for basically only had 1 extra channel that we watched sporadically. That 1 channel definitely wasn’t worth the extra $25 per month we were paying for it so off with its head! (Yearly savings approximately $300.00 per year)

I will say that if I had found that we were watching a lot of the other extra tier channel that I would have left it alone. I don’t want to strip us down to the bare minimum on enjoyment just to save the most possible money that I can save. It makes it easier to budget and work towards being debt free if we’re not miserable doing it.

So, just by looking over 3 expenses we were able to lower our expenses by around $85 per month and $1,020 per year and honestly didn’t notice one bit of difference in our enjoyment of these services.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Things Keep Changing!

I've been playing around some with the look of the blog (I'm not done yet), so if you pull the site up and it looks different each time that is why. Hopefully this weekend I will have more time to sit down and finalize the design.

Have a great day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Publix shopping trip during my lunch hour.

I did really well today at Publix during lunch. I got 6-Coke 12 packs, 6-boxes of Betty Crocker muffin mix, 2-boxes of Taco Bell taco kits, 4- containers of Country Crock butter, 4-boxes of Green Giant veggies, 1-dozen Eggland's Best eggs and a magazine. I spent $19.53 out of pocket and saved $55.88!

Oh how I love coupons and saving money. Let me know how you did.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wondering about all the chicken from yesterday? Freezer Meals!

Do we like chicken that much? Well we do seem to eat a lot of chicken, but that amount of chicken will do us for some time. One of the ways that we save money, but more importantly, time and energy is to do freezer meals.

What are freezer meals? Well the way that I go about them is to sometimes precook the meal(s) and then freeze them for use later. I also do the prep work for meals, then freeze them. Once thawed, all I have to do is pop them in the oven, put on the stove or grill once I get home from work in the evenings.

I make a list of the meals that I have in the freezer and just pick one in the morning or the day before to thaw, then most of the work is done for me once I get home. If you're like me, when I get home in the afternoon from work, I'm pooped! The last thing I want to do is stand around in the kitchen all evening. The sofa has a much stronger gravitational pull for me than the stove or oven I can assure you! In fact, I almost called this blog the lazy way to debt free because of my desire for energy conservation (my energy that it).

Usually I get an idea of what meals I either want to have or new recipes to try and gather my ingredients. Then either on a Saturday or Sunday I cook or do the prep work on the entire list. You can break up your work load over more than one day, but I just like to do it in one day and be done with it.

Depending on what type of things I'm cooking I may be in the kitchen a couple of hours or the afternoon, but that's with lots of breaks built in (again energy conservation). It is so worth it to me to put the time in one day and reep the benefits for a month of quick meals and less take-out.  I'll post more information on my next freezer cooking day in case anyone is interested.

I would suggest starting out small and then moving on from there. That way you won't get overwhelmed right from the start and give up. There are several recipe books out just for freezer cooking or you can also search on the internet for "freezer cooking", "once a month cooking", or "freezer meals".

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Whole lotta chicken going on

Yesterday I went to the grocery store to get the bone-in chicken breast they had on sale for $.98 per pound. I got around $24 worth, so basically about 24 pounds of chicken. Bone-in chicken is a lot cheaper to buy than boneless, skinless chicken and if you don't mind putting in a tiny bit of work you get a lot more bang for your cluck....i mean buck.

Today I started with removing the skin from the chicken breast, then using kitchen shears, cut the breast filets away from the bone. Doing this resulted in 30 chicken breast filets.

Next, I threw the rest of the pieces (bone, bits of skin and more meat) into pots of boiling water to cook them. After they were done, I was able to pull 3 more pounds of cooked, shredded chicken off the bone! I will use the shredded chicken as add-ins to meals, to make quesadillas, pizzas, and all kinds of other meals.

Finally, I strained the broth that all the bones cooked in and ended up with 12 cups of great chicken broth.  I put the baggies into the pans to cool and freeze just in case there is a leak so that I don't end up with a mess.  Not bad for a little bit of time in the kitchen and only $24 invested in the kitchen plus a lot of help on those busy weeknight dinner. 

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Tonya and my husband's name is Jason. We're been married for 18 years and we're both 37 years old. We've been working towards debt freedom for some time now. We've tried all sorts of things to help with this goal, some worked and some failed miserably. I'll tell you about things we've done, continue to do and new things we try in our search for being debt free. My hope is that you will pick up a tip or two to help your own goals of having zero debt and also to have a little fun along the way. I really hope you enjoy No Sweat to No Debt.

By the way, I came up with the title because my family, like yours I'm sure, is very busy. The money saving things we try have to basically be the lazy-man's way of doing this. So I can usually promise that the things I will share with you are neither difficult or too time consuming.