Feeling blessed

Even last pay period when we had just a few dollars until payday, I felt blessed. Blessed that we didn’t go in the red, blessed that we were “broke” because we chose to pay extra on debt. I am so incredibly determined to get the rest of it paid off! This pay period we were able to pay another decent chunk. It feels good to get back into paying extra because the past several months have been a little crazy with job changes, moving and honestly, spending more fun money than we should have.

However, we’re back on track. And just to let you know, I’m not shy about talking about money. I wish more people weren’t so secretive about it. I don’t tell just random people about our debt woes or anything, but I like to get it out in the open what we’re accomplishing and that anyone┬ácan do it. And this is on a modest middle-class income.

At the end of this month, we will have paid off close to $27,500! That is roughly 44% of the debt we started with. It’s hard to sacrifice the things we want, even small things. Aaron’s not too fond of this Dave Ramsey saying, but I love it: “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.” Basically it means that right now, live like no one else does… saving money, giving up your latte or fast food, doing whatever you can to save money, so that you can live like no one else is when you’re older.. i.e. having a good retirement, putting your kids through college, etc.

Now we’re really into the heart of paying off my school loans. I’m so thankful to have a job where I get to work in my field AND contribute to paying them off.

 

Here’s a list of things we’ve been doing recently to save money:

-Going to the library or buying books at garage sales instead of buying them new or for my Kindle.

-Using coupons when we want to go out to eat (fast food).

-Using cash for our spending money each week. Right now we’re each spending between $10-15 per week. I know this is silly, but I get excited when I see that $10 bill in my wallet! We use our debit card a lot so I hardly ever have cash.

-Making Christmas gifts and purchasing only a few. This is a win-win because I get to share my love of knitting and sewing AND save money at the same time.

-Buying ice cream or frozen pizza at the store instead of going out.

-Running around our neighborhood instead of Aaron meeting me at work to run. I work about 15 miles from our house so that’s a lot of extra gas if he meets me there!

-Taking coffee and lunches from home to work.

-Being homebodies and in general spending a lot of our free time relaxing together at home.

 

Deployment is still on the horizon, and I actually look forward to the extra money coming in during those nine months. (Hopefully it’s only nine months.) Military pay is tax-free during deployment, and we’ll get other allotments like separation pay. I would like to get a second job (possibly?) to keep me busy (really busy!) and supplement our income so we can pay and save faster. We would like to take a trip after he gets back and I hope we can save enough by then.

And then, of course, the other thing we can do is pray. I’m excited to where we’re seemingly being led so far, and I want to be ready financially when that time comes.

>What a Groundhog Day! and other things

>Snowpocalypse, Snowprah.. whatever you call it, it was a storm. Yesterday we had a snow day for the anticipated havoc. It started in the late morning and continued throughout the night. We even had thunder and lightning. It was bizarre. Luthor and I chilled all day. I was on the computer and sitting on my butt most of the day. I read some, knitted, even made dinner. I also got a sourdough starter going for bread. I got the idea from Katie.. who can pass up fresh, warm homemade bread?

This is what we woke up to this morning, and according to the weather service Peoria got 15 inches of snow.

I was absolutely dreading having to dig out my car as we don’t own a shovel. I got out there with my bucket and dustpan, no joke, and then was able to borrow a shovel from a woman who had borrowed it from maintenance. Two guys came around and helped me with the rest of it, and made sure I could back out. I don’t think I’ll go anywhere today because 1) I don’t feel like it or need to, and the gym is closed anyway and 2) I don’t want to risk losing my spot.

I’m excited about my Kindle cozy. This entrelac knitting has thrown me for a loop (no pun intended). I started it when we were in Wisconsin, and Katie was able to help me with it. She’s really good at reading the instructions and knowing what to do. I am the exact opposite and need someone to show me. Anyway. I got a good portion of it started, and yesterday I spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out how to continue. I combed YouTube and Google for videos and finally figured it out.

I think I will put in a zipper and line it when it’s all done, and maybe get some really cute buttons. It really shouldn’t take too long. Then I’ll tackle the socks again. I tried one and messed up within the first couple rows. Let’s just say I lose my patience pretty quickly with newer activities.

Back to school, back to school
On a different note, I’m considering going back to school soon to get my Master’s. But honestly, with moving around in the next five years, I don’t want to risk starting a program on campus somewhere and having to stay behind to finish it. Not happening. And a Master’s in Spanish online would really not improve my spoken skills all that much. That’s where I’m lacking.

With my current job as an aide to a boy with special needs (but he’s above average with most academic skills), I’ve found a niche I didn’t expect. In my two months in this job, I’ve realized that I can be absolutely content teaching any level, any subject. I subbed for almost a whole day a couple weeks ago and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

This leads me to considering my Master’s in Special Education. I thought about getting a certificate, but if I’m going to put in the time and money, I want to have something more to show for it. The other thing is that we would not take out loans and instead pay cash. This is quite a new concept to me as far as education is concerned. But it certainly is making me rethink a lot of things.

I found a program through a university that offers an online program, but also boasts a brick-and-mortar campus too. They are accredited and offer military spouses an awesome discount. They would also let me take up to five years to complete the degree, which is ideal. Financially, I’d be able to take only one class per term. This would allow us to still put money on debt, not let me be stressed out with school work, and I would have time to work full-time if the opportunity arose.

I’m still thinking about it, because it’s a big financial commitment, as it would be about $12k for the program. Part of me just wants to trust that work will be provided. In this time of uncertainty, I haven’t been jobless. The other part of me wants to be more cautious and wait it out. Education will always be there, even after Aaron’s out of the Army (2016). I could still work on an advanced degree when we start a family, so why rush it now?

However, if I pursue it now, it would let me recertify at some point, and land a more lucrative job. I’d also have more job opportunities and some schools might still offer tuition assistance. Hmm. MyCAA, the military tuition assistance for spouses, does not pay for graduate tuition. I think I will start saving money and see how I feel in a few weeks.

Remember when I was working at the fabric store and said I’d be open to managing something like that someday? Yeah, let’s pretend I never said that. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I want to stay in education for a very very long time. Like I said, it doesn’t matter to me if I’m teaching high school, or an aide in grade school, or even subbing for a little while (gasp!). There’s just something that excites me still about influencing and educating young minds. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been teaching/mentoring/tutoring in some fashion for ten years (I started teaching piano in 2000 at age 14).

Back to fitness
I am going to start tracking my workouts and nutrition again on sparkpeople.com. I gained 3-5 pounds since Aaron was home and got off track with eating. Yesterday I ate a lot.. so many different things that I can’t even remember what all I ate. According to SP, I burned about 300 calories shoveling snow this morning. Since the gym isn’t open and I was supposed to do a six-miler, I’m going to do some yoga and strength training today at home. Back on the healthy wagon I go!

Stay safe, everyone.