Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Grocery Shopping Day! How we shop cheaply and healthfully for our family!

Follow Lindsay on her grocery shopping day.  More about how she coupons, plans, and organizes will be shown in a future video.  She shares the Rich family grocery budget, her cash system, and then takes you along as she visits Aldi, Krogar, and Sams to stock her large family with all the food they will need for a 2 week period of time!  That's right, no eating out.  This is all we will eat for 2 weeks!  And we will eat like Kings! The money she saves on our budget will go towards paying debt.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Short History of Our Family and How We Got Into Debt

We posted a new YouTube video to our channel giving a short history of our family, beginning at marriage and continuing through present day. We tell all about how we got into debt, some of the good financial decisions we made and some bad financial decisions we made along the way. This episode is chocked full of photos to illustrate our growing family and carry you through our past journey.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rich Family Update

               It has been awhile since I have written a family update on the blog and I know many of our past readers are wondering about all the changes our family has made in the last year since this blog was primarily about our lives as a homeschooling family. I will tell a little about each of the changes in order! 
     Beginning in January 2015, we sent Grace to a small christian school near our home. I was overwhelmed trying to homeschool four different grade levels the way I wanted to. I knew many women who did it successfully but I was struggling and felt defeated. Grace's reading was not progressing and being the high extrovert that she was, she was the child struggling the most with being at home. It was a difficult decision for Daniel and I, but in January, Grace became the first of our children to start school at Auburn Baptist Christian Academy. It didn't take long for us to see that we made the right decision sending her there and we felt so grateful to the wonderful teachers who helped her read and thrive! It brings tears to my eyes to see the progress she has made. 
              Also in January, I began to pursue obtaining my CNA license on the weekends. I fell in love with learning about the nursing profession and was thrilled to pass my CNA exam in June. I also took a class at the community college during the spring semester. At the end of summer, we made the decision to send all four of our school-aged children to the Christian School so that I could continue to pursue a degree in nursing and work part-time at the hospital. We knew that teaching had never been my natural gift and we thought this would work better for our family. In August, I began my first CNA job working three days per week at the hospital while taking 6 credit hours at the college over both the Summer and Fall semesters. I excelled in my classes but our home life was falling apart. 
           I wanted to be supermom and do it all but it was just too much and very hard on Daniel and the kids. I was able to finish up a total of 15 credit hours of college classes last year and am so grateful for all that I learned! I still hope to finish my degree one day but my focus in life right now is to be the best wife to Daniel that I can be and the best mom I can be to our five children. I assured Daniel before I started on my career path that if I started falling down on my job as a wife and mom that I would take a step back and re-evaluate. As much as I want to provide financially for their future, I know that I can never get these years back with my children. When they are gone, they are gone and I will wonder where the time went. 
        I continue to work one day per week at the hospital while the kids are in school and work on some math that will prepare me for college level mathematics one day but that is all. During the week, I am busy keeping up with 3 year old Susanna and running the older 4 kids to school and activities and assisting them with homework. I am also trying my best to stay on top of the house, the laundry, the household budget and preparing three meals a day for our big family so that we do not waste money on these things. These responsibilities all make for a very full and busy life but I couldn't be happier! As much as I love my children and want to give them everything, I have realized over the past year that I just can't. God is their provider and I am called to be their mother, the one who loves, encourages and nurtures them both physically and spiritually. 
         I have wasted so many years comparing myself to other women who seemed to be able to do more or be more than I could be and feeling inadequate in just about every way as a wife and mother. As a type-A personality and an overachiever, I have made a lot of wrong turns in my life attempting to overachieve. I am grateful that 2016 so far has been a year of reflection and understanding the deep love my Heavenly Father has for me. He does not expect me to be more or do more than He has called me to and I am learning to rest and be content that through Him, I AM ENOUGH as a wife to Daniel and mother to our fabulous five. He doesn't care whether I am homeschooling all the kids, or making a great income to fund college and retirement. He just wants my heart...  

In the same way that I want my children's hearts

Friday, March 18, 2016

Why We Must Stop Comparing Our Lives to Others' Lives

I thought this post by Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist was awesome! While I have no desire to live in a tiny house and am so grateful for the 2800 square feet the Lord has blessed me with (maybe due to the size of my family), I am on a journey to become a minimalist when it comes to owning less material things and not cluttering up my schedule with things that don't align with my goals and priorities. By becoming a minimalist, I feel that I will be able to focus more time and energy on the 3 things that matter most to me in life: My Faith in God, My Family, and My Friends. I feel that a huge step in my journey is to not waste time comparing my life with others' lives and fully enjoy the life that the Lord has blessed me with! 

Joshua's Post:
 Envy is ever joined with the comparing of a man’s self; and where there is no comparison, no envy.” —Sir Francis Bacon
Most of us understand the foolishness of trying to compare ourselves to others. We would readily admit that no good ever comes from it. Yet, whether we are comparing our home size, paycheck, physical features, or any number of measurable (and even unmeasureable) things, we do it all the time.
Even though we know there are inherent problems contained in the process:
  1. We most often compare the wrong things. Because we can most easily compare the things that we can objectively measure, we live in a world that is great at measuring and comparing externals. Somewhere along the way, we decided that we could determine who is living a more valuable life by comparing clothes, cars, homes, paychecks, beauty, or Twitter followers. But externals are rarely a good measure. Net-worth has never been a good indicator of self-worth.
  2. We always compare our worst with their best. Comparing your life with others is always a losing proposition because there will always be people who “appear” to be better off than you and seemingly live the perfect life. After all, we always compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions that we make about others. Be advised, their life is never as perfect as your mind makes it out to be.
  3. There is no end to the comparison game. There is an infinite number of categories upon which you can compare yourself… and an almost infinite number of people to compare yourself to. Once you start down that road, you will never, ever find an end.
  4. Life isn’t graded on a curve. How you measure up against others holds absolutely no importance in your life anyway. It simply makes no difference. The goal of life is not to be better than 50% of the other people on the planet. The goal of life is to be the best you that you can possibly be.
  5. Comparison puts your focus on the wrong person. You can control one life – yours. When we consistently compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own.
  6. Comparison robs you of joy. Comparing yourself to others will always cause you to regret what you aren’t, rather than allow you to enjoy who you are. It will always steal the joy and happiness that is within your reach… and place it just outside of your reach instead.
Many a contented life has surely been stolen by the unhealthy habit of comparing ourselves to others. Comparing ourselves to others will always rob us of gratitude, joy, and fulfillment.
But even more than than, it prevents us from fully living our lives. It calls us to envy someone else’s life and seek theirs rather than ours. It is robbing us of our most precious possession: life itself. And while the temptation to compare may never be completely eliminated, there are certainly some practical steps that we can take to move past it. Consider a few of these:
1. Recognize the inherent problems in comparing yourself to another.Take a good look at the list above. Why would we want any habit in our life that promotes feelings of inferiority? Or consistently promotes envy, competition, and strife with no end in sight? Sometimes, just a reminder of the foolishness contained in the habit is the most important step in overcoming it.
2. Celebrate who you are. There are many wonderful things about your life. You are an artist… or a businessman… or a mother… or a good listener… or a generous soul. You have much to celebrate and are entirely unique. Any comparison between you and another person is like comparing apples to oranges. They aren’t living your life, you are. Therefore, you should expect the results to be completely different.
3. Focus inward. Value generosity, humility, goodness, kindness, and love. Begin to focus on developing the inward qualities of a simplified life and the externals will lose their beauty. And the quicker we find beauty on the inside, the sooner we’ll stop comparing things on the outside (skin-deep beauty, paychecks, or power).
4. Realize life is not a competition. There may be times when competition is appropriate, but life is not one of them. We have all been thrown together at this exact moment on this exact planet. And the sooner we stop competing against others to “win,” the faster we can start working together to figure it out.
5. Remember that nobody is perfect. We live in a society that glamorizes perfection. Consider that magazine racks are full of models and celebrities with perfect faces telling one-sided stories of great triumph and fulfillment. One important step to avoiding the lure of comparison is to remember that one snapshot in time never tells the whole story. The story is never told of the hours in a make-up room or the photo editing technique to cover the blemishes. The story is rarely told of their insecurities or failures (except to mention how they overcame them). That story doesn’t sell nearly as many magazines. But the truth remains: there are no perfect people – including you and including me.
6. Live as intentional as possible. Too many people live their lives without intentionality or thought. They rarely find a quiet moment to sit in meditation or solitude and examine their life – who they are and who they are becoming. As a result, lives are lived as a reaction to the events around them. But when a life is lived intentionally and thoughtfully, the comparison game becomes less attractive.
As humans, it is in our nature to compare ourselves to others. But nothing good ever comes from it. So let’s stop comparing ourselves to others. We were not born to live their life. There is no sense wasting our life (or energy) being jealous of theirs. Instead, let’s start living our lives. Let’s determine today to be good at it. After all, we only get one shot.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Save Money By Making Your Own Granola Bars

I don't know about you but I think it is so disheartening to buy a box of natural granola bars at the grocery store for approximately $3.99 a box only to have them gone in one sitting and not even have enough for Daniel and I because there are only five bars in the box, one for each of our five kids! If Daniel and I exercise restraint and let all the kids have a granola bar for a snack five days out of the week, this habit would cost us approximately $80/month! That just doesn't work for our grocery budget, especially since the granola bars are so small and light anyway that the kids are still famished and begging for more after one bar. I came up with this recipe and while I don't keep them made up all the time, it has certainly helped us out! 

Natural Granola Bars

3 cups of oats
Anything else in your cupboard you want to include-
(dried fruit, choc chips, nuts, seeds, dry cereal, flaked coconut...)
Equal parts of a nut butter and coconut oil (to make them stick)
1/2 c. honey
salt to taste
Mix everything together except nut butter and coconut oil. You will want to save those for last since the amounts will depend on how many other ingredients you decide to add. Add equal parts of nut butter and coconut oil until everything stirs and sticks together nicely. Line a 9"x13" dish with wax paper and press mixture into the bottom. Place in refrigerator until hard. I like to cut these into squares and wrap them in wax paper with a piece of tape and store them in a container to grab and go. 

*You can make these lower carb and more like the popular KIND bars by cutting out the oats and using more nuts and low carb ingredients instead. Maple and other flavorings also taste great in these!
I usually double or triple this recipe for our family since they will stay fresh for weeks in the refrigerator. They are also fine not refrigerated for several days. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What I'm Reading ~ Raising Grateful Kids In An Entitled World

    I am reading this book at night before bed and it is knocking my socks off! I highly recommend it if you are in the trenches of raising kids. I used to feel bad that we couldn't give our kids more, take them on more vacations or provide more experiences for them but now I feel differently. I have been reminded that they are watching our every move and whatever standard of living they see us living is what they will want or feel entitled to for themselves. What if we taught them that it is more blessed to give of our resources than it is to receive? What if they saw us truly finding our joy in giving even when we could afford to spend more on ourselves? This book is a challenging read but so necessary. We have entitled kids, because we are entitled. Ouch! This book is a challenge to love God and others more than ourselves and to let our kids see us doing so by the joy that flows out of us in the process. The book also mentions one caution that really got my attention; "Anytime we step out of the mainstream and try to turn our lives and our homes around to go upstream, its hard. Some would say impossible because the journey is full of obstacles, naysayers, and  people who attempt to discourage us. It's in our human nature at a young age to want to fit in, to not stick out or be different, to blend in. The problem is that God has called us to exactly that-- to go against the flow." (18)

Romans 12:2 MSG says
Don't become do well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking
Instead, fix your attention on God. 

*I really can't recommend this book enough! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Strawberry Cream Muffins

I am so excited to see strawberries going on sale just about everywhere right now with the start of strawberry season! Last weekend, I was able to purchase 16 oz. containers of strawberries for just $0.99/each at Aldi! I purchased six tubs but would have bought more if I had the refrigerator/freezer space because we used the last container of them this morning when we ate these yummy strawberry cream muffins for breakfast. My friend Shannon requested the recipe so I thought I would share it here for anyone else who would enjoy them.

Strawberry Cream Muffins

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt 
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup honey 

Measure dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Add liquids and mix just until blended. 
Use a 1/4 c. measuring cup to drop batter into well greased muffin tins (or paper liners).
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes 12 muffins. Enjoy! 

* I always double or triple this recipe so we have some to share or extra batter to freeze. To freeze batter: pour into greased muffin tins or paper liners and place in freezer just into frozen, dump frozen batter clumps into a gallon size freezer bag and freeze. When ready for muffins, place frozen batter into greased muffin tins and add 5 minutes to the cooking time. This method tastes way better than baking before freezing! 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

How To Save Money Going to Kid's Birthday Parties

When you have five kids, you get LOTS of invitations to kids' birthday parties. Our children get so excited about going to their friends' birthday parties and we are so grateful for the many wonderful friends that our children are blessed with! Going to so many parties could be a budget buster if we don't carefully plan but we love the opportunity to bless them! I recently set our budget at $5.00 tops for going to a child's birthday party. That includes everything: the card, the present and the packaging. I am going to show you how we have been able to manage this lately while still giving the child a wonderful gift that will make them feel special. 

Today I started by getting a piece of white copy paper and folded it into a trifold shape to make it fit inside a standard envelope (cheap!). I then wrote "Happy Birthday Meredith" on the front and left the rest of it blank to have Mercy personalize it for her friend. She loved doing this because she knew what Meredith would like. 

                                                She drew a picture of her and Meredith together
    and some minions because Meredith 
apparently loves minions! I think it is special 
  for the friend to receive a homemade card 
    personalized just for them from one of their good friends! 

For the gift, I got on Groupon to see what deals were currently available in our area and I was able to score a $12.00 gift certificate to the local Cinnabon for just $5.00! I quickly paid for it and printed it out. I did blot out the price I paid on the certificate for good manner's sake! I did want them to think I spent the full $12.00 right? 

 And there you have it, a great gift that most any kid would love, packaging and all for $5.00. Time to go party!

Friday, March 04, 2016

What I'm Reading ~ Living Well, Spending Less

One of my close friends, Megan Carver  let me borrow this book and I am loving it so much that I have almost finished it in spite of an incredibly busy week! She and I are always reading similar books so we have decided to start book swapping to save money!

From Amazon:

In Search of the Good Life

Have you ever that your life--and budget--is spiraling out of control?  Do you sometimes wish you could pull yourself together but wonder exactly how to manage all the scattered pieces of a chaotic life?  Is it possible to find balance?

In a word, yes.

Ruth Soukup knows firsthand how stressful an unorganized life and budget can be. Through personal stories, biblical truth, and practical action plans, she will inspire you to make real and lasting changes to your personal goals, home, and finances. With honesty and the wisdom of someone who has been there, Ruth will help you:

    *    Discover your "sweet spot"--that place where your talents and abilities intersect.
    *    Take back your time and schedule by making simple shifts in your daily habits.
    *    Reduce stress in your home and family by clearing out the clutter.
    *    Stop busting your budget and learn to cut your grocery bill in half.
    *    Bring order to a messy life and create a practical cleaning schedule that works.

Who Needs This Book?

Living Well, Spending Less was written to bring hope and encouragement to every woman who currently feels overwhelmed or stressed with a life--and budget--that feels out of control. It speaks to the mom trying to juggle all the demands of a busy life with the pressure to keep up with those around her.  It is a practical guide for those of us who often long to pull ourselves together but don't always know how. It is real, honest, packed with practical tips, and speaks to the heart of the matter--how can we live the life we've always wanted?

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

9 Reasons Buying Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

I can't say that buying stuff has ever made me happy and it never will! I really resonated with this post from Becoming Minimalist and I think you will too! 

9 Reasons Buying Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

“If you make a habit of buying things you do not need, you will soon be selling things you do.” —Filipino Proverb
Our experiences hint at it. Studies confirm it.
Buying things won’t make us happy.
The pursuit and purchase of physical possessions will never fully satisfy our desire for happiness. It may result in temporary joy for some, but the happiness found in buying a new item rarely lasts longer than a few days. Researchers even have a phrase for this temporary fulfillment: retail therapy.
There are many reasons buying stuff won’t make us happy.
They all begin to fade. All possessions are temporary by nature. They look shiny and new in the store. But immediately, as soon as the package is opened, they begin to perish, spoil, or fade.
There is always something new right around the corner. New models, new styles, new improvements, and new features. From clothes and cars to kitchen gadgets and technology, our world moves forward. Andplanned obsolescence makes sure our most recent purchase will be out of use sooner rather than later.
Each purchase adds extra worry to our lives. Every physical item we bring into our lives represents one more thing that can be broken, scratched, or stolen.
Possessions require maintenance. The things we own require time, energy, and focus. They need to be cleaned, organized, managed, and maintained. And as a result, they often distract us from the things that truly do bring us lasting happiness.
Our purchases cost us more than we realize. In stores, products are measured in dollars and cents. But as Henry David Thoreau once said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” We don’t buy things with money, we buy them with hours from our lives.
We discover other people aren’t all that impressed. Subconsciously (and sometimes even consciously), we expect our newest purchases will impress other people. They will notice our new car, computer, jacket, or shoes. But most of the time, they are less impressed than we think. Instead, most of them are too busy trying to impress you with their newest purchase.
Someone else always has more. The search for happiness in possessions is always short-lived because it is based on faulty reasoning that buckles under its own weight. If happiness is found in buying stuff, those with more will always be happier. The game can never be won.
Shopping does not quench our desire for contentment. Contentment is never found in the purchase of more stuff. Our overflowing closets and drawers stand as proof. No matter how much we get, it’s never enough.
Experiences make us happier than possessions. All research points to the fact there are far more effective way to find happiness: enjoying life-changing experiences, for example.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps

In an effort to become the best stewards of all that God entrusts to us, Daniel and I are attempting to follow Dave Ramsey's 7 baby steps. We went through Dave's Financial Peace University back in 2012 when I was pregnant with Susanna (Bitty Bit) and were able to pay off all our (non real estate) debt before selling our house and buying land in 2013. We went backwards and right back into debt however when we went way over budget building our house. This is attempt #2 to go through Financial Peace University and follow the baby steps. This time we aim to stick with the plan and see it through all the way to baby step #7! We are currently on baby step #2 and doing all the we can to knockout all our debt. It's not easy but we have found joy and peace in the process and best of all we are starting to see results!

Here are the 7 baby steps.

  • Baby Step 1 – $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
  • Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
  • Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
  • Baby Step 4 – Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
  • Baby Step 5 – College funding for children
  • Baby Step 6 – Pay off home early
  • Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give!
May I encourage you to seek out an FPU class in your area? Click here to find a class in your area!