The NOVAdventurer

A friend at work mentioned geocaching to me a few months ago and I was immediately intrigued. For those of you who don’t know, geocaching is a real world scavenger hunt using GPS coordinates. Basically someone hides a small container (like a small Tupperware) and then posts the GPS coordinates online for other people to find. I have been wanting to try it out ever since I heard about it, but plans were foiled by bad weather every weekend I found myself not working. Finally this past weekend we had beautiful weather and I convinced Adam that it was time we gave it a try. We downloaded the iPhone app and were off!

Geo1

In each cache you’ll find a log sheet to record your name and the date you found the cache. The above was the second cache we found and the log sheet was short (the first cache I forgot to snap a photo of).

geo2

Our third and final cache for the day was the most difficult to find, even though it was in plain sight! We think it may have been moved from it’s original spot as our GPS coordinates did not match up perfectly. There were many treasures inside (the rule is you can take something, but you must leave something of equal or greater value). Because this was our first adventure we didn’t know exactly what we would find, but next time we plan on taking some trinkets to swap out.

I thought we would only do one to try it out, but we had so much fun we ended up finding 3! We were pleasantly surprised by how many caches have been hidden in our neighborhood, and I think it will take a while before we actually have to start driving to the locations.

If you like puzzles or treasure hunts you should give this a try! Visit the official geocaching website and create a login to get started. If you want to connect we are treasure hunting under the username  NOVAdventurer.

Have you ever tried geocaching? Share your experiences in the comments. 

Advertisements

Our Journey Out of Debt [part 4]

Mondays That Matter logo

If you missed last weeks post you can find it here. Today I’ll give you the specifics for each step in our journey.

1.)We made the decision to stop borrowing money.
This first step is self explanatory, although this is the step people get tripped up on. For me it was extremely helpful to have a spouse who was supportive and on board. If you’re not in a committed relationship, try to find a close friend who you can work with and use as an accountability partner.

2.) We formulated a plan.
Once you really commit, then you can formulate a plan. We used Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps as a guideline, although we adapted it for our needs. You can find his plan here.

How we adapted Dave’s plan to fit our needs
We still put money into my 401K. I understand why Dave recommends stopping contributions (focused intensity), but I just couldn’t bring myself to break this good habit. Plus I may not always have the option of a 401K (if I stay at home with kids) and I wanted to start something that would be growing for the rest of my life.
We still went on vacation. Sort of. While we didn’t take any exotic cruises or tour Europe, we did visit out of state family a LOT while we were getting out of debt. Both Adam and I understand deeply how precious the moments with our family are and we were not willing to risk missing those moments to get out of debt sooner. If anything I wish we would have taken more trips to visit family, especially those who lived multiple states away.
We ate out occasionally. You’ll often hear Dave Ramsey say that while getting out of debt “you won’t see the inside of a restaurant unless you’re working there.” While we didn’t eat out all that often, we still ate out for entertainment or to enjoy a night with friends. If you choose to still eat out while you’re getting out of debt you MUST decide in advance how much you are going to spend. If you don’t track your spending or have a budget then you probably don’t realize how much you spend eating out. I encourage you to look through your account for last month and add up the numbers- you may be surprised. Then sit down and decide how much you want to spend this month and stick to it.

An important part of having a plan is to budget. You don’t have to get sophisticated about this. And a budget isn’t constricting (as I thought it would be). A budget is just a specific outline of what you will make and how you want to spend it. That’s right- you get to decide how to spend your money! We used an excel spreadsheet for the main budget but also supplemented with mint.com. Remember, the first time you write down what you think you will spend it won’t be perfect. But also remember if you’re about to spend an extra $50 on groceries then you have to go back to the budget and take that $50 from somewhere else. When getting out of debt you don’t get to spend money you don’t have.

3.) We created a visual reminder.
I probably made 3 or 4 different charts before I finally had one that worked. It was a simple grid where each square represented $50. I had totals beside each line so we could see quickly see our total paid. At the bottom of the page we wrote out the reasons we wanted to be debt free. Most importantly, we posted this on our fridge as a constant reminder.

photo (35)


4.) We set goals.
When we first decided to get out of debt, we used this debt reduction calculator to figure out how long it would take. We got married in June 2010 and running the numbers we figured it would take until June 2013. The total amount was a combination of many small loans, so we set deadlines for paying off each of the small loans and focused on those goals, rather than the 3 years it would take for the entire amount. Each time we set a goal that represented a reasonable estimate, along with a stretch goal. On our very last loan our stretch goal was to pay it off by the end of February 2013, but we actually exceeded our stretch goal and made our final payment February 1!

5.) We rewarded ourselves for small milestones and constantly talked about the “why.”
After each small debt paid off we would treat ourselves to a restaurant meal, ice cream, or have some small celebration. It felt so good to see each debt get paid in full, but we needed a little boost after each one to keep us going. On a daily basis we talked about the plans we had for once we were out of debt, and now being on the other side it feels amazing to see some of those dreams becoming our reality.

photo (36)

I would have loved to have paid for college out of pocket and graduated with no student loans, but I am actually grateful for the student loans in a way. Adam and I have learned how to delay gratification and wait for the things we want while we save up and pay cash for them. We have learned how to make a plan and stick to it. We have learned to rely on each other and support each other and for that I am so grateful. I love life and I look forward to the debt free chapter of our lives. Good luck on your own journey! I know you can do it.

Do you have any questions about how we achieved this major milestone? Any advice? Leave a comment or email myhomemakingexperiment [at] gmail [dot] com.


I [heart] Chocolate

We were supposed to get some massive snowstorm today. Here is what it looked like at 10 am Wednesday morning.

snow

Oh, what a crazy storm! The U.S. government shuts down when we have these crazy snow storms, so hubby got to work from home today. Since we had extra time for breakfast, Adam requested that we make something special. I had seen some chocolate waffles on Pinterest the other day, so I suggested we try some and hubby began salivating right then and there.

Since I hadn’t actually pinned the recipe I saw, I did a quick Google search and the first link was for an Alton Brown recipe. I absolutely adore this man and his cooking, so I simply could not resist. Once again, he delivered. You can find the recipe here. I replaced 1/2 cup of all purpose flour with wheat flour and they turned out great. I might try to go 100% whole wheat next time.

You’ll have to forgive me- the only photo I have is the less-than-perfect one I posted on Instagram earlier. I meant to take more photos, but I sort of got caught up in the chocolate goodness of the waffles and the accompanying sauce. If you’ve never had fruit sauce on your waffles or pancakes, you have to try it. Super easy and ridiculously good. Just throw frozen fruit in your blender with a little water and blend. I did frozen strawberries and a banana with about 1/2 cup water. I also added about 1 TBSP of maple syrup at the end because I didn’t think it was quite sweet enough.

Waffles

What is your favorite chocolate food or treat? Tell us in the comments and be sure to leave a link if you have one! 


Our Journey Out of Debt [part 3]

Mondays That Matter logoIf you read the first two parts in this series (here and here) then you now have a sense for where Adam and I came from. We were both raised by parents who had considerable debt, yet both Adam and I were averse to debt from a young age. It is important to understand our mindset because my guess is that most people struggle with getting out of debt because they get stuck at this point- the psychology.

In America the following ideas are rampant: 1.debt is a tool to build wealth 2.you must own a home to live the American dream 3.to procure that home you need a credit score and a mortgage 4.If you want a new car, couch, washer and dryer, etc you can buy it now and pay for it later. I personally don’t agree with any of these (nope- not even the first one).

The steps we took to get out of debt:
1.) We made the decision to stop borrowing money.
2.) We formulated a plan.
3.) We created a visual reminder.
4.) We set goals.
5.) We rewarded ourselves for small milestones and constantly talked about the “why.”

We were lucky that we made the decision a long time ago to stay away from debt. For some of you that will be the most difficult part of your journey. Deciding to fight against the norm is not easy.

It’s your life and your money. You get to decide. If you want to live in debt the rest of your life, that is your right to choose- but own up to it and don’t blame anyone else for your decisions {I know there are some situations where debt is unavoidable due to medical conditions, etc…to those of you who are facing this I exclude from this statement and feel for}. But if you have dreams and need money to achieve those dreams, then my recommendation is that you get out of and stay out of debt.

I am actually grateful for the student loans. Sure, it would have been nice to have college all paid for and start out my marriage debt free. But the sacrifices we made to pay off a debt we could have held onto for 10+ years taught us to delay pleasure and focus on our long term goals.

Next week I’ll delve deeper into the five steps we took to eliminate debt.


My First

Sorry all! I’ve been a little distracted with life and have consequently been absent here. I apologize for the lack of “Mondays that Matter” post this week. I also completely forgot to tell all my wonderful readers that I guest posted at My Bookbloom this past Friday. My real life friend Miranda writes over there and she is awesome. I’m honored that I got to do my first guest post as a blogger for her. Check it out! And while you’re over there reading go back a few days and read her “Chocolate Love” post. I tried out the recipe and it was delicious.

Here’s the link again:

My Bookbloom
http://mybookbloom.blogspot.com/2013/02/friday-favorites-guest-post-by-christy.html

Enjoy!

Canada

(photo courtesy of my grandma)


Our Journey Out of Debt [part 2]

Mondays That Matter logo

*If you missed part one of this series you can read it here

As promised you get to hear from my dear sweet husband today.

[Adam]: So Christy wants me to contribute something to her blog, give all you folks out there a sense of my financial background. Sounds easy enough.

Financially, my family has had it fairly rough, mostly due to medical issues. My sister’s heart problems in particular put serious strain on my parents’ income, almost more than they could handle. As such, they had to deal with debt, but for things they severely needed. Despite their own debt, my parents taught me to stay away from debt, and President Hinckley (an LDS prophet from my youth) advised members of the church to not go into debt. My brother also set a good example for me when he almost made it completely through college without debt.

In high school, I worked for my parents’ crafting business to help pay for school. The deal was that I would get a small hourly wage from it and they would help with college costs in exchange for my cutting wood door toppers in the basement. I hated it, but I did it. I was very happy when I got a job at Dominos at 18 and got out of the house. Then I went on a mission to Japan for two years, then had a year off for medical issues.

When I started school, I was very, very poor. I had a monthly income of about $600 to pay for rent, food, books, travel, entertainment and anything else I needed. My resources were slowly drained to the point that when I married Christy I was almost completely broke, but I had no debt.

Then finally, after graduating, I got my first full-time career job last June. It has been wonderful to actually have money and now that we are debt free we are enjoying our hard work. It feels good to be making more than $600 a month.

My philosophy with money? Debt is stupid. I hate debt so much, I don’t even want to buy a house until I can pay for it in cash. I wouldn’t feel like I owned it until I paid it off. I would just have all the responsibility and risk without really owning it. I love saving up, then paying for something in full. It feels great to know and feel that I purchased something huge and owning it without anyone else (except Christy) having a claim on it.

===

Join me next Monday for part 3. And if you have any questions for us leave a comment or email myhomemakingexperiment [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for following! 


Grace [noun]: mercy; clemency; pardon

I believe in eating nourishing food. I am intentional with my grocery list and the only food that comes into our home is fruits, vegetables, dry grains, and raw meat. I cook 100% of our meals and snacks from scratch. We don’t eat refined sugar.

This is my DREAM.

NOT my reality.

The truth is, I try. And that first statement is true. I believe in eating nourishing food. But I’m not always intentional with my grocery list, processed foods sneak into my cart are chosen carefully based on the level of dopamine release I will get, and I just can’t quite figure out how to cook from scratch 100% of the time while I’m also working 40 hours a week.

Over the last few weeks/months I have been coming to terms with my homemaking shortcomings. While I know someday I will be a superwoman who can do everything, today is not that day. I’m trying to be okay with that.

When we first got married I refused to buy certain convenience foods for Adam that he wanted us to keep on hand. He knew that some nights I would be too tired to cook or be overwhelmed with everything I needed to get done. He was trying to help out by having food on hand that he could cook himself (think frozen pizza, 5 minute pasta from a box, etc). But I refused for a few reasons:

1.) I never get tired. I always want to cook. And I’ll always have freezer meals and options for him so he doesn’t have to worry [delusional maybe?].

2.) He doesn’t need a box full of sodium and calories with very little nutrition.

3.) If I can make a quick and healthy meal then he can too.

In truth by refusing to buy convenience food for my husband I was protecting myself from my own laziness and hormonal desire for empty calories. If I was thinking about making a delicious batch of lentil burgers on homemade whole wheat buns and I knew there was a box of mac and cheese in the cupboard, I’m going to go with the box of mac and cheese 90% of the time.

I still have moments when I superimpose my dreams onto our reality, but I’m getting better at focusing on what is actually happening and accepting it to be good enough [for now].

Most importantly, I’m learning to give myself grace.

And some nights (like tonight) I might even willingly pick up a box of ramen noodles and frozen pizza for my dear husband us to share on the crazy nights.

Do you find it difficult to eat well when life is busy?