Category Archives: Financial Matters

Having Faith During the Hard Times in Life

Something has been making itself crystal clear to me lately.  I think that this is something that I have always known, but something that my sinful pride has kept me from fully grasping several times.

Namely, it is that there is nothing, NOTHING, that you can’t endure when you put your faith and trust in Jesus.

It is so very easy during the easy and happy times of your life to say, oh yeah, I have faith, everything is great, God is so good to me.

And it is another thing entirely to be able to say it when you have to go through something that seems unspeakable.  Something that feels totally unfair and undeserved.  Something that makes you question everything that you thought you knew.  Even those things that cause people who you think you know to behave completely opposite of what you believe them to be.

There have been many times in my life where I have tried (in vain) to get through the hard times on my own.  Those times left me exhausted, frustrated, angry and shaken.  There have also been times in my life where I have surrendered it all to Jesus and said, I can’t do this on my own, Lord.  Please help me.  I just can’t do it.

While it may be hard and even scary to surrender it all.  Once you truly do it, there is a peace that comes.  It does not erase the problem from existence.  In fact, the problem may grow and get uglier, however it becomes bearable because you know that you are not alone.  Friends and family will let you down, no question.  Jesus will not.  If you can truly give it all to Him, you will feel Him with you.

I am not a theological expert.  I cannot instantly quote bible verses to fit specific situations.  I know from my own life’s experience though that life is pointless and hopeless without Jesus and with Him there is no bad situation or problem I cannot conquer.

“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” -Deuteronomy 31:8

For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13

These are the verses that I will remember in the coming days as we struggle through one of those hard times in life.  I am not fearful, but rather I have peace knowing that the Lord strengthens me.

I Hate Shopping

Women are supposed to love shopping, right?

Wrong!  At least when it comes to this woman.  I hate it.

No, I take that back.  I only hate it because I don’t have unlimited amounts of money that allow me to walk into whatever store I wish (Pottery Barn) and point my rich old lady wand and say things like, “I shall have this.  And this.  And what the heck, just for the fun of it, I shall have that too, I think it will look simply splendid in the conservatory!”

So, since I am not a rich old lady with a wand (and I have no idea why I am picturing a wand in there, I’ve seen a few rich old ladies in my day and they were never carrying wands), I usually only shop out of necessity.  Not that I’m complaining, I’ve actually come to enjoy having a simple life.

But right now, I am being forced to shop.  Or rather WE are being forced to shop.  Out of necessity.  For a car.  I couldn’t be more miserable.

Brian wrecked his car into a telephone pole a few weeks ago.  He went into town and bought me some tomato cages.  On the way home, he had them laying on the console, up from the backseat, and they were poking him in the arm.  He turned for just a second to adjust them and BAM!  Straight into a telephone pole.  He was fine and not going that fast, but the car was totaled.

So now we are forced to find something else.  Gag.  Have I mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of change?  I was completely content with the vehicles we had.  Now we have to go spend money.  Thousands of dollars.  I could vomit right now.

So, we are off in the morning to look at a vehicle.  We have looked at what feels like a million over the past few weeks.  I will probably hyperventilate all the way there.  And have Brian pull over so I can puke.  I don’t like spending large amounts of money.  But who does, really?  Other than rich old ladies with wands, of course.

Metal Mouth

Katie went to the orthodontist today and we thought she was getting her braces off, but it turns out that she has to wait another month.  She was bummed, but she got to put red & green bands on them for Christmas, so she was happy about that.

The bad news is that she’s going to have to have 3 teeth pulled to make room for some teeth that don’t have room to come in correctly.  And the even worse news is that she’s gonna have to have braces put on the bottom teeth.  $KA-CHING!$

But the doctor says that we won’t have to do that for 2-3 years, so at least we’ll have a little time to try and save.

I hope & pray that Nanner’s teeth don’t end up being as jacked up as Katie’s are.

And now, just for fun, and because I just learned how to do this, I’m putting a 2-minute video on here that I took of the girls tonight.  There’s no real point to it, and the lighting is bad, but I finally figured out what the problem is with loading videos onto my laptop is, so I’m celebrating that little victory by putting a video on my blog!  I’ll try to make sure that any future videos have some sort of entertainment value.  : )

Oh, and is it just me or do I sound like I’m 12?

And why is the TV up so loud?

Why I Do What I Do

I can remember the exact moment that I knew that I had to be a stay-at-home mom.  It was our first night home from the hospital after Katie was born.  I had just tucked her in to her bassinet next to our bed and we couldn’t sleep because we couldn’t stop staring at her.  I felt such peace and contentment at having my little family and thought that I might actually burst from the happiness inside of me.

Don’t get me wrong, I had been dreaming and plotting of quitting my job from the minute I found out I was pregnant, but it wasn’t until that first night at home that I knew that it had to become the reality of my life and not just the dream.

I am not one of those mothers who proclaims and demands that all mothers must stay home with their kids.  I know there are some out there that would disagree and quote the bible at me and say that it is the purpose and duty of the woman to run the home and take care of the children.  I don’t argue that for the most part, but I do think that it’s possible for mothers to do those things and hold down a job too.  I’m not one of them, but they are out there and I applaud them for it.  I think that as mothers, we all do what is best for our own families.  At the same time though, I think that there are probably a lot of women out there that might want to be at home and think that there’s no way they can do it.  And I just want to say that it’s easier (and harder) than you think.  Ha!  That was confusing right?

There have been times, especially when Brian was out of a job, that we had to accept help from others.  There are times even now when we do.  A lot of people think that if you have to have help, then you shouldn’t be living on one income, but I disagree.  If occasionally accepting help from your family when times are lean allows you to be home and doing what you know your family needs and loves, then isn’t it worth it?  And when you are in the position to help someone else and you do so without a second thought because you know, you’ve been there, you understand, it makes it all feel right in the end.

I can remember that first night home from the hospital and turning to Brian and saying “I want my face to be the last thing she sees when she goes to bed at night and the first thing she sees when she wakes up in the morning.  I don’t someone else to watch her during the day.  I want to be able to be with her all day, every day.”  And I remember him saying that he wanted that too.  That we would keep working towards getting there.

We didn’t get there until she was 18 months old.  And fortunately my mom was able to keep her until then, which kept me appeased for those 18 months.

We had no idea the amount of sacrifice that is required when you give up an income that you are used to having.  You’ve been used to living a certain way and buying certain things and then one day that is turned completely upside down and you are left trying to figure out how to make it all work.  There were periods (and still are) where we wonder how we have done this for so long now.  But we do and we are glad that we decided to make those sacrifices to keep me home.

There were people in our lives back then that thought we were crazy for doing what we did.  There are some that still think that.  But the thing that I know for sure is that it is the best decision we have ever made.  When I look at my girls and see how close we are, how close they are with their daddy and how many things that we do together as a family that maybe initially we started doing because we couldn’t afford to do anything else, but are now things that we truly love and look forward to doing together (bike rides, picnics, playing in the yard together…etc, versus expensive family vacations, running out to the movies and out to eat every weekend, and shopping at the mall for the next latest & greatest thing that all the kids are going nuts over), I know in my heart that no matter the sacrifice it was the right decision.

Now with 3 weeks left until school starts and I find myself alone all day, I have lots of people asking me what I plan to do with myself.  I know that people are surprised when I tell them that I hope to volunteer at the school a little bit and still plan to take care of my home and family full time.  Some people even ask me why I’m not getting a full time job.  The answer to that is very simple actually.  My priorities are not changing just because I’m going to have more time on my hands.  I will keep doing what I do now.   I want to pick them up from school and bring them home and feed them a snack while they tell me all about their day.  I want to have the time to take a walk with them in the evenings and not have to be running in the door, stressed from my day at work and then trying to slap dinner on the table in time for them to get their baths, do their homework and get to bed at a decent hour.  I know that there are mother’s that can handle all of that with flying colors.  In fact I know several.  And their kids are happy and healthy.  I also know that I’m just not one of those mothers that can do all of that and handle a full time job while keeping my sanity and not taking my stress out on my family.

I’m not saying that I’m opposed to a part-time job that would help bring a little money into the household.  In fact, if I could get something part-time at the school, where I would only be working while they are in school, then I think I would welcome it.

I guess the reason for this post, the REAL reason, is that the closer the start of school gets, the more I find that I’m trying to get myself ready to cope with the fact that my babies, BOTH of my babies, will be gone from me all day.  It gets one to thinking.  Life is going to be a lot different around here.  And hopefully cleaner!  It won’t look very good on me if I’m home alone all day and the house is a wreck.  There will be no one to blame it on in T-Minus 3 weeks!  🙂

Going Homemade

I like to make lots of things myself that would normally cost me an arm and a leg at the store.  It feels good to make something yourself and save money in the process.

Things like old towels for rags instead of paper towels, homemade laundry detergent, antibacterial cleaner, glass cleaner, etc.

I also like to make lots of food from scratch too.  I’ve dabbled with things like ketchup and tortillas.  The ketchup, while I loved it at first, proved to be too time consuming to get it to the consistency that I like.  And the tortillas also are another time zapper that I have since quit making.

But then there are things that make me so happy I could squeal. Like “cream of” soups.  These are so much tastier than the store versions and are much better for you.  And refried beans!  I will nevah evah evah buy canned refried beans again.  I buy a bag of dried pintos and then make the most delicious refried beans on the planet.  Yes, I said it, THE PLANET!  And a very cheap bag of them will make enough jars to last for quite some time.

Another favorite is homemade granola bars.  These things are so wonderful.  And much better than the store bought ones as all of the ingredients are pronounceable and recognizable and they are cheap cheap cheap to make!

I have to admit though, that I don’t ALWAYS make everything myself.  Sometimes I buy the cheap dollar store laundry detergent.  I kinda make it myself as time allows.  If I don’t have the time to do it, I just don’t.  And I don’t really feel guilty about it.  I used to, but the fact of the matter is, no matter how much money something saves you, if it robs you of time that you need to be spending with your loved ones or doing some other thing that needs your attention, then it really isn’t beneficial.

My cousin and I were talking about this a little bit today and it got me to thinking about how I spend my time.  I think that we homemakers have a desire to be efficient and thrifty, but where do we draw the line?  When do we say “Okay, stop the insanity, I am not going to knit a sweater from my saved up dryer lint?”  😀

Seriously though, it can be a fine line.  If it takes time away from the Lord, your family and other responsibilities, then it can be detrimental.

What things do you make yourself?  And do you have any things that you’ve tried and decided just aren’t worth it?


I’m sure that everyone is now aware of the earthquake in Haiti.  I’ve been watching a lot of TV now that I’m restricted to the couch and it is all over the news.

I don’t normally watch much of the news.  I don’t normally even watch any TV until the evening after the girls are in bed.  And then its usually just Andy Griffith or other shows I’ve recorded on my DVR.  But because I can’t do anything, I’ve been watching lots of TV.  And I can’t watch the news about Haiti without crying.  It is so sad.  The medical supplies that these people have on hand is so rudimentary and the injuries are devastating.  I heard this morning that they are estimating 50,000 dead.

I hate to admit this, but had it not been for the fact that I can’t do anything, I would never really understand what is happening there.  Yes, I would be aware of the situation.  And I would pray for the people in Haiti.  But it would probably stop there.  But because I am seeing over and over again the extent of this situation, I feel like I need to do something.  I can’t do much, but even the smallest amounts will go a long way.  That sounds cliche, but it is true.

So, I’m just posting a couple of links to sites that you can go to in order to make a donation.  We’re all aware of the American Red Cross.  They have a minimum set for donations at $10.  If you have less than $10 to give, you can go to Compassion International, Inc.  There is no minimum.  Please consider giving to this cause and pray for these people.

American Red Cross

Compassion International, Inc.

Free Christmas Photo Cards

Go to Money Saving Mom and see how you can get 100 free custom photo holiday cards.  I just did mine and it took about 15 minutes start to finish and I should have them within a few days.

Do It Yourself: Laundry Detergent

There are TONS of laundry detergent recipes out there on the good ol’ world wide web.  The one that I use is only slightly different than the one I got from my cousin.  It uses oxi-clean.  I think that most of the recipes I’ve found don’t call for it, but I like to use it in mine because I think oxi-clean is pretty awesome.  The oxi-clean gives the finished product more of a liquidy result versus the more goopy egg-white texture without it.  But it works fine with or without.  Our clothes always come out as clean as they did when we were using the expensive store-bought detergent.

Now, I should say here that I’m not a Going Green renegade.  I like the idea of it and I like to incorporate it into my life as much as possible, but sometimes it just isn’t affordable for me to scrutinize every product we use and turn it into something that is environmentally friendly.  I do the best I can on my budget.  If you are a person who is, admirably, committed to Going Green, then some of these recipes may not be for you, but I would wager that you could find some greener alternatives online…


1 bar Fels-Naptha soap (or any bar soap of your choice)
1 C. Borax
2 C. Washing Soda (Not the same as Laundry Booster, you have to really look for it at the store – I got mine at Kroger – the box should say “Washing Soda”-it kind of looks like a cereal size box)
1/2 C. Oxi-Clean
4 C. + 2 Ga. water
5 Ga. bucket (with or without lid – I use a lid now because my laundry is in the basement and every once in a while I’d end up with a drowned spider in there.  Ew!)

Grate soap and melt on stove in 4 C. water.  Water needs to be hot, but not boiling.
Add Borax, Oxi-Clean & Washing Soda (stirring after each)
Pour into 5 gallon bucket & stir
Add 2 Ga. water & stir
Let sit overnight.

Use 1/2 C. per load.  I use a full cup on my towels.

I’m not exactly sure on the cost of this because I’ve tweaked the recipe a little bit to my liking.  Previously I was using only half the amounts borax & washing soda, so I believe that it now costs somewhere around 6 cents per load.  Still beats store detergents by a mile!

So, do you guys make your own?  If so, how do you like it and do you have anything to add?  If not, do you think you might be interested in trying it?

One of the things I love, besides the savings, is that you aren’t stuck with a bulky plastic bottle every time you run out that either needs to be thrown away or recycled.

Next week I’ll post the recipe for fabric softener.

From Scratch

The other day I made a joke about making everything from scratch and how that requires a lot of my time.

But all joking aside, I just can’t believe how much money we have saved this way.  When you can take a single bag of flour and a few other ingredients in your pantry and make things like banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, quesadillas, etc…you can see how these things end up costing you pennies.  Compared to the inflated (and much less nutritional) store bought alternatives, it’s a no-brainer for me.

I’m not saying it’s for everyone.  In fact, if I wasn’t a stay-at-home mom, I can promise you that I would probably be doing very few of these things.  It does require time.  But the more you do it, the quicker and easier it gets and besides, when you’ve got the time to invest in it and you are a frugal-minded person, it just makes sense to do it this way.

I won’t sit here and tell you that everything I put on the table for my family is made from scratch, but I will tell you that most things are.  And if I’m not making it from scratch, then chances are that I just haven’t found the right recipe that is to our liking yet.

Here is a list of the things (as many as I can think of off-hand) that I no longer purchase from the store.  These are things that I make myself.  Keep in mind that I don’t grind my own grains or anything, so I do still buy flour, sugar, etc…but again when you think of how many different items you can make from just one bag of flour, it’s exciting actually to think about how much money we save this way.  So here is the list:

Bread crumbs
Rolls, biscuits, bread sticks, etc.
Pancake mix
Fruit Jams &  Jellies (I don’t have any fruit plants YET, so I’m buying fresh fruit and then canning the jam – but next year!  Next year for sure I’ll have some blackberry bushes!)
Tomato Sauce / Juice, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce (canned from the garden)
“Cream of” Soups – celery, mushroom, chicken, etc.
Chicken broth
Bottled dressings
Powdered soup mixes
Taco seasoning
BBQ sauce
Alfredo sauce
Apple butter
Caramel apple dip
Granola bars
Hash browns

And then there are the non-food items that I no longer buy-

Laundry detergent
Fabric softener
All-purpose cleaner
Toilet cleaner
Bar soap (This is only because Brian works for a soap factory and we get it for free) 🙂
Facial cleanser
Lotion (I am the only one using this because Brian does not share my enthusiasm here, so he is still using store bought)

So, I’m sure that I may be missing some, but you can see that the possibilities are endless.  And again, you have to purchase the ingredients to make these, but the ingredients have so many other uses that one big bottle of vinegar will be used to make laundry detergent, surface cleaner, glass cleaner, etc.  Many times over.  In fact, laundry detergent ends up costing me about 3 cents a load!

Looking at the lists above may seem overwhelming to some, but believe me, I didn’t just wake up one day and say “I think I’m gonna just make all this stuff myself!”  No.  It was a work in progress over several years actually.  I started with laundry detergent and then just started adding new things here and there as I found time to do the research.  Some things I didn’t care for so much and others we loved.  You just have to find what works for you.

With these uncertain times that we are in now, I think that more and more people are trying to find ways to save where they can.  This is a great way to do just that.  I know when Brian was laid off, I really hunkered down and started looking for even more ways to save.  That is really when a lot of the “cooking” from scratch came into play for me.  I was already making my own cleaners and such, but as far as the cooking went, there were really only a few things that I made myself.  He was laid off for 5 months and that was a long, scary 5 months.  So, now that he is back to having a good job, I’m still utilizing all of those methods I learned when money was tighter.

If anyone is considering trying to start making more of the things you use from scratch, I would like to encourage you to take that first step.  And remember to start small with just one or two things at a time.

And if anyone wants any of the recipes for the stuff I have listed above, just let me know and I’ll be happy to get those to you!

Big Fat Honkin’ Deal!

Look at the deal I got today at CVS.  3 bottles of shampoo, 3 bottles of conditioner, hairspray, toothpaste and 2 bottles of Dawn dish soap.  (Sorry the picture is blurry.  My camera sucks or I do at taking the pictures!)


All that stuff would have cost me $40.72, but with my CVS card + coupons + cash back towards my next purchase, it cost me $7.54!  Oh sweet money saving madness!  I love me a good deal like this!

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Twisted Fencepost

Life on the outskirts of town.