10 Tools To Help You With Your Debt Free Journey

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Getting debt free & staying debt free is hard work. It takes discipline, self sacrifice and often a lot of out of the box thinking.

10 tools for getting and staying out of debt

Over the past 3 weeks I have shared our families debt free journey

Today I want to share with you the tools we used to get out of debt and to stay out of debt for good.

10 Tools For Your Debt Free Journey

1. Help to make a budget & a plan

To do any of the steps below you first must have the knowledge of what it takes to get out of debt and how to set up a budget that works.

Here are 2 great books to help you create a budget & a plan

2. A Budget

Unless you have a plan of how to spend every dollar earned your chances of living below your means so you can pay off debt are very slim. After you debt is paid you will still need a budget to help you stay out of debt and  reach further financial goals.

Here are some helpful free resources for budgeting

3. Goals

Budgeting is going to go a lot smoother when you have an idea of what you are aiming for. I know some of you are thinking “I am aiming to get and stay debt free” but that is too broad a goal. Instead break down what getting to debt free and staying debt free will take into small actionable steps. For instance that goal could state “3 months from now we plan to have paid off…..in debt which works out to a monthly goal of…… and a weekly goal of…..”.

 4. Cash Envelopes

I will discuss cash envelopes in further detail next week (update: post in now live) but for now all I will say is that when our family uses cash to pay for eating out, date night, and other sorts of activities we always spend less than budgeted. When get busy and decide to skip the trip to the bank to get out the cash and use our debit cards instead we always go over budget.

A great article on the pros of cash envelopes & a few resources for making or buying your own

10 books you need to read if you want to be a thrifty ninja (300)5.  A library of ideas on how to keep expenses low

Through the internet and the library you can find out how to save on just about every area of your spending.

(if you want to purchase some of the books listed for your home library make sure to check out Thrifty Bookworms & Swagbucks The Perfect Romance to find out my favorite ways to save money on books)

Work At Home Ideas And Tips (med)For Success6. Flexible ways to boost income from home

Sometimes there is just that one last bill to pay that the paycheck, even with over time, can’t cover. Other times you really want to have date night, but there just isn’t enough wiggle room in the budget. Or perhaps you just want one cup of fancy coffee a month, or a week, to help you feel special during the whole “paying off debt not seeing the inside of a restaurant” stage.

If so here a few ways my family has made money from home to cover those types of expenses

10 Ways Thrifty People Renovate(med)7. A DIY spirit

Paying to do things gets expensive. Yes doing things yourself does take time, but it can be fun, rewarding and a great way to save a substantial amount of money.

Our family renovated 3 homes together and saved a lot of money on the renovations by doing the repairs ourselves.

Need a bit of DIY instruction? Try out a few of Craftsy’s free mini video courses. Craftsy also came out with a line of free downloadable PDF courses (scroll to bottom of linked post for full list)  that include step by step colorful photo instruction for things like photography, sewing, woodworking and more.

10 bible verses thrifty people memorize (med)8. Words of wisdom

Our family gets our wisdom from the bible: Here are 10 bible verses about money that have helped us become and stay debt free as well as shape our view of money.

20 thrifty ways to send quality time with your child making memories doesn't have to cost much (med)9. A wealth of inexpensive ideas for fun

Life can get really boring fast if all you do is stay home and read books from the library because that is the only free activity you can think of. (yep a bookworm just said that)

Here are a few resources to help you expand your horizons and find frugal sources of entertainment

10 Key Things Thrifty People Do Over And Over To Save Money On Just About Anything10. A toolbox for ways to save money on just about anything

If you click over to 250 Ways Thrifty People Save Money and scroll down to the bottom you will find 10 key things  our family does to saves money on just about anything. I would call this our ultimate savings toolbox, and of course all of  the 10 tools are free.

What would you add to my list?

Never miss one of my posts on saving money, time management, decluttering and more sign up to receive them in your email inbox.

Linked to Frugal Friday, Thrifty Thursdays, Mom2Mom,

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Snapshot Thursdays: Why I Can’t Be Trusted With Plastic Cups

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Snapshot Thursdays 3 pictures from my week to give you a peek into my daily lifeWelcome to Snapshot Thursdays. Please join me on  Instagram  to see more pictures I share all week long.

By sharing today’s photos  I am hoping to find at least a few fellow klutzy soul mates out there who can share in my pain and benefit from my findings. The rest of you can all just laugh, well actually klutzy people can too, it is okay, I have totally been there and done that (America’s Funniest Home Videos is full of people just like me).

water glassThis is the type of glass I drink out of at home. Not only does it hold a lot of liquid but it is also very heavy and thus hard to tip over. That second fact, is the main reason I use it all the time. I might be 40 but I still have not out grown spilling my milk, or water, or in the case of last weekend when my husband and I enjoyed a weekend getaway, cranberry juice.

Cranberry juice on the hotel wall, cranberry juice on the hotel couch, cranberry juice on the hotel floor. And this spillage happened at 7 am in the morning while my cleaning expert hubby was still sleeping in the bedroom of our hotel suite.

I blame it on the flimsy plastic hotel cup. I swear I barely touched the thing and wham it was everywhere.

I blotted, I rinsed, I blotted some more. I apparently blotted so hard it woke my husband up who was sleeping in the other room.

spot shotHe immediately sent me to the grocery store across the street for carpet stain remover. I picked up Spot Shot, and a Starbucks caramel macchiato with a sippy cup style lid (those are great for us 40 yr old klutzy people) ran back to the hotel room and watched my hubby work magic on the stain. The stain was gone is seconds.

Man that stuff really works! (warning though it does have a strong chemically odor to it).

If you love knowing your not the only quirky couple out there then you will enjoy reading The Antelope In The Living Room just as much as I am. I picked it up last week when I saw it free on kindle through instagram (I follow Melanie Shankle and she mentioned it there). I am only a few pages in but already have laughed so hard that my husband shushed me, because he was trying to enjoy his own book next to me on the couch.

So make me feel better. What has your klutzy side split?

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quiltinghacks_carousel_1FREE eGuides By Craftsy

Craftsy offers is now offering a incredible line of free eGuides  (PDF format that can be downloaded to your computer and viewed at your convenience). These would be great for those of you wanting to pursue a new craft or perhaps improve your skills in a craft you already enjoy. There are also a few that might help you with you home business. Homeschoolers, the drawing ones would be excellent resources for art class.

Photography
eGuide: Understanding Exposure for Better Photos Now: Beginner Photography Tutorials
Cake Decorating
eGuide: Not-So-Basic Buttercream Decorating Ideas
Food & Cooking
eGuide: Delicious Doughnut Recipes You Can Make at Home
Paper Crafts
eGuide: 6+ Stash-Busting Paper Craft Projects
Drawing
eGuide: Drawing the Human Face: A Primer
Painting
eGuide: Beginner’s Guide to the World of Watercolor
Gardening
eGuide: Success With Container Gardening
Woodworking
eGuide: Woodturning Basics for Beginners

Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

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So I was munching on an applesauce oatmeal breakfast bar when it suddenly I start thinking “I wonder if this would work with pumpkin: and like that Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars were born.

pumpkin oatmeal breakfast barsI altered the recipe just a little adding in another egg as otherwise the recipe was kind of dry. The result was moist and yummy breakfast bars, perfect for those mornings when you got to grab breakfast as you rush out the door, even though you got up at 4:30 and it is now 7:30, because you got so caught up in blogging you forgot to eat.

Or is that just me? Well whatever is causing you to rush these pumpkin oatmeal bars are the perfect grab and go breakfast.

ingredients for pumpkin oatmeal breafast barsIngredients For Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

If you want you might want to add in a cup of crushed walnuts or perhaps some chocolate chips.

I really liked the way these pumpkin breakfast bars turned out they are very moist and filling. Perfect with my morning cup of coffee.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup pumpkin puree (either store bought or homemade if fine)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups white wheat flour (you could also used unbleached)
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • (optional 1 cup crushed walnuts or 1 cup chocolate chip or ½ cup of each)
Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. lightly grease a 9 by 13 baking pan
  3. in a large bowl mix together sugar and butter
  4. add in pumpkin and stir
  5. add in eggs and stir
  6. add in dry ingredients and mix well
  7. stir in optional nuts or chocolate chips if desired
  8. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean, or blade of knife)
  9. Remove from oven and let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving
  10. (these freeze well so you can make a double batch if you have 2 pans)

 

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52 Weeks To A Simplified Home: Project 7

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This week I realized that thanks to my husband pitching in and decluttering a few areas of the house on his own (I love my cleaning man) I was ahead of schedule.

Looking around though I realized that instead of moving on to another area I really needed to spend my time cleaning up some mess that our weekend away had made, as well as a busy week.

our weekend getaway messWe went on a night away just the two of us thanks  to a Christmas gift from my husband’s parents, and gift cards earned on Black Friday. When we got home we just dumped our stuff and went running into the week. Several days later our pile was still here! Embarrassing.

mess in the dining roomThis mess was created by 2 weeks of dumping the groceries out of bags and boxes and then never getting around to putting the bags and boxes away. Oh and tools are from a project my husband is working on for our church.

againThis pile really got to me. I just cleaned this area 2 weeks ago! The kids have a bad habit of piling stuff here from the dining room table when I tell then to set the table for dinner.

I got to admit I looked at all the mess and was a bit overwhelmed especially since I had so much on my to do list the day I decided to tackle this.

timer on my ipodI decided the best way to motivate myself to get the work done was to set a timer and see how fast I could get it done.

timer all done

In just over 16 minutes all three areas were decluttered . I promise I didn’t cheat either. All the things in the piles went to their proper homes.

decluttered couch

jacks tools

dinning room table decluttered againMuch better. Oh and if you wondering why I left that one box of tools in the middle picture, well my husband is still currently working on that project every night in the TV room off the dinning room and so I decided it was best to leave it handy for him and just re-box it up so it all fit in one box.

What did you declutter this week? 

If you need encouragement to help reach your simplified home goal, or another goal you have set for the year check out the Snail Pacing Goal Achievers Facebook group.

3 Deals To Help You Clean & Declutter Your Home

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$2.00 off (2) Purex Liquid or UltraPacks detergent

$1.00 off SPOT SHOT Instant Carpet Stain Remover

52 weeks to a simplified homefree printable plan (small)Grab a free plan and join along!

What I Have Learned So Far From 52 Weeks To A Simplified Home

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I am just over 6 weeks into my goal of decluttering one area of my home for every single week of 2015. I am loving all the people who have joined in the challenge with me and are active over in the Snail Pacing Goal Achievers facebook group.

Not all the members of the group are working on decluttering as I made it open to anyone working on a goal in 2015, but most are and the support has been great.

6 things I have learned about decluttering since starting my year long journey to a simplified home

With so much of  the year ahead of me, I am surprised by all the project has taught me already.

6 Things 52 Weeks To A Simplified Home Has Taught Me So Far

1. Rooms seem much larger, brighter and cleaner when you have less stuff.

For about a good week after I finished decluttering the last area of the library, I couldn’t come down the staircase of our home without saying “wow I can’t believe how much bigger this room looks”.

I know it should be a no-brainer less stuff of course equals more space, but for some reason it shocked me just how much more space we would gain.

2. It is quicker to pick up a room when it is clutter free.

Before decluttering the library I use to spend at least 10 minutes a day tidying it up  and then throw my hands up and say “good enough for the friends I keep” and moved on to tidying up another room .  After decluttering  I can clean up the whole room including straightening the shelves of the built in bookcase in 2 to 3 minutes tops.

3. Decluttering doesn’t really take that long.

Before I took the time to break down every inch of our home into 52 different areas, I was overwhelmed by the idea of a full house declutter. I would read books swearing a whole house declutter job could be done in a weekend and feel mentally frozen by that revelation. “Where on earth do I start?”

Having a plan and the knowledge that this week I just have to concentrate on this area, has really help me see that decluttering doesn’t take as long as you might think. All the projects I have done so far have taken me under an hour with some taking less than 30 minutes.

Will I ever take on a full house top to bottom declutter project? Nope, I did it once when we moved from British Columbia to Indiana and although it worked great to get our house sold much faster than expected it is overwhelming and exhausting. I would only recommend it to those wishing to get their homes ready for realtor showings.

6 weeks in and I am thinking, this 52 week to a simplified home project is going to be a year after year goal. I much prefer doing things at a snail pacing rate.

4. A great decluttering session starts with a good decluttering routine

A few weeks in I got a good decluttering routine going. It goes like this

  1. Asses the area and decide the best way to attack it (for example do I empty the area out all at once or one drawer or box at a time)
  2. Grab the recycle bin, a garbage bag, a box for giveaways and a box for things that go else where.
  3. Clear out area (as much as I am doing at one time)
  4. Clean cleared area
  5. Go through stuff, recycling, giving away and placing items in other places box.
  6. Put what is left back in area.
  7. Put recycling and trash away, put things to give away in my husbands truck (more on this in the next point)
  8. Finally take the box of stuff that belongs elsewhere and put the contents away.
  9. Step back and take in the progress I made.

The hardest part is step 8 and 9, by then I just want to admire my decluttered space, but I force myself to deal with the items no longer going in the space first.

5. Get rid of the giveaway box right away.

If you let the giveaway box sit in your home too long, you or the kids, or you hubby will become tempted to take the item out because “surely you could use it some where” or “well my aunt so and so did give it to me” or……….(put in your excuse here).

The longer the box sits there the more excuses that you create to keep it.Since I am the worst one at this in our home, I am trying to be very disciplined about marching the giveaway box right to my husband’s truck the first minute he is home, and having him drop it off so I can’t try and sneak things out of the pile before I place it in the drop off box at the thrift store.

6. Decluttering is contagious.

Since I started this project I am noticing that my cleaning husband who usually just cleans around clutter is actually going through piles and dealing with the items in them. He has taken 2 or 3 boxes worth of stuff to the thrift store that he found while tidying up that he figured we no longer needed. He did ask me to check the boxes to make sure he wasn’t giving away something I wanted to keep, and I can honestly to say, I didn’t keep a thing out of those boxes.

I am loving this as it means less work for me as the year goes on.

If you have been joining along what have you learned so far about decluttering?

52 weeks to a simplified homefree printable plan (small)

Grab a free plan and join along!

Linked to Mom2Mom,

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What being debt free looks like for our family

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Over the past 2 weeks I have shared, why I don’t like talking about our debt free journey, as well as a huge mistake we made along the way to being debt free and what we learned from it.

What the debt free life looks like for one family

This week I want to tell you what being debt free, for our family, looks like and feels like.

Before we were debt free, I had this idea in my head of what debt free would look like. I had this dream idea that we wouldn’t have to worry about paying the bills anymore. My husband would work a 40 hour work week and we would have money and time to spare. We would live on a small acreage with farm animals and a huge garden to give us fresh food. I could go on but you get the idea I was thinking of a debt free utopia. Not at all realistic.

Now that we are debt free I know that although certain elements of my debt free dreaming were true most were not.

What being & staying debt free really looks like

1. You still discuss money often

My husband and I still talk frequently about how much money is coming in and setting priorities for where it will go.

We still keep a running list of non-monthly expenses that will be coming up as well as non-monthly wants so that when extra money does come in through over time, bonuses, or blog money we use it wisely and not give it to restaurants and Target.

2. You still keep a budget

Our budget is a simple piece of typed paper broken into monthly recurring payments like property taxes, insurance, utilities, and other set payments as well as a set amount of money for  food, clothing and other more flexible yet still needed expenses. When we get slack on keeping ourselves accountable to our budget we spend way more than we should and end up not reaching the financial goals we desire to reach.

3. You still have to work hard to pay the bills

My husband is an RN. Shortly before we became 100% debt free he was offered a nursing job in another department of the hospital that was a lot less stress than his current position in the ER at the time. In the switch he lost his evening hour pay and his weekend pay. He also couldn’t work his second job around the new position hours.

The pay off was a hubby who enjoys his work days more and is home with his family more hours per week. The cost was that we broke even financially, meaning the cut in pay equaled the payments we no longer pay. Our budget is essentially just as tight without payments as it was when we had payments.

We chose family time over a bigger pay check and to do that means sacrificing the extra money freedom that I thought all debt free families enjoyed.  You know the one you hear all the debt free advisers on the radio talk about “think of all you could do with that money you will no longer be using for payments “. We traded that money for time.

My husband’s basic pay each month pays for our “need budget” basically our food, shelter and transportation bills with little wiggle room for other bills.

Thankfully due to investing some of the inheritances we received into a rental we have that monthly income to pay the kids for chores, give my husband and I some spending money and pay for a few activities for the children each month.

My husband also often receives overtime, and as of late a I receive a  small amount of monthly income from my blogging. These streams of income plus bonuses my husband sometimes receives at work pay for our “unexpected emergency needs” and a few things from our “want it” list. (I plan to write more on how we budget for these in a future post)

We feel pretty blessed to meet and sometimes exceed our bills each month. God is faithful to provide for His people.

4. You might not live in a grand home

I have no idea why but for some reason before we were debt free, I always thought that all  debt free people lived in great neighborhoods in fancy homes, or could afford all the expenses that come with country living. After reading The Millionaire Next Door I know that isn’t true for all those living debt free lives including ourselves.

We live in a very average home that we bought for just under $10,000 dollars, nope I did not forget a zero we bought the home for ten thousand dollars, then spent 2 years and $30,000 remodeling it from top to bottom  by ourselves.

We got a home for under $10,000 because it is in a so so neighborhood. In fact the house next door to us is quite the sight to behold (the picture with this post shows just a bit of what our neighbor’s home looks like, that is the view out my dining room window).

We really don’t mind though as the location is so near to everything it saves us a lot of time commuting giving us more time at home together and we set out on our journey to being debt free to do just that to have more family time.

5. You do worry less but you still worry

Just a few months ago my husband came home and told me his department was being bought out by another company and that he wasn’t sure at that point what was going happen.

Before being debt free with a 3 month emergency fund that type of statement would have sent me into worry mode.

Now with no payments and 3 months worth of income stored away, I just looked at my husband and said “God’s got this, no worries you are a great nurse, we will be okay” and I 100% meant it and slept peacefully that night.

Everything did work out and he is still working.

However, there are still days when I wonder “how are we going to afford the glasses the boys need, or the bill for my daughter’s emergency tooth extraction, or the ingrown toe nail bill”, but God takes care of that too. It never fails that just as the bill comes due, the money becomes available.

6. You can give more (and that is my favorite thing)

My favorite part about being debt free is how much easier it is to give. To help a person out and not wonder “if I give this can I still afford to pay the payment for ……  by the 15th of the month when it is due” is a very freeing feeling.

When you are debt free you have more control over your budget and saying where your money can go, and if you wish to give you can.

Yes I know I said above that our budget it still tight, and that is true, but it seems like whenever we give God takes care of it and we once again pay our bills and have a bit left over for wants. We are blessed.

In fact, I set aside a portion of my inheritance specifically for giving. God allowed my husband and I to help out people in a pretty impactful ways with that money and I pray continually that  He will use our family give in that way again. To me giving is healing.

If you are debt free what does it look like for you?

Please join me next week as I share our families top 10 resources for becoming and staying debt free (it is up now for you to read). Sign up to receive my posts in your email so you don’t miss it.

Linked to Thrifty Thursday,

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Snapshot Thursday: The Humbled Life

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Snapshot Thursdays 3 pictures from my week to give you a peek into my daily lifeWelcome to Snapshot Thursdays. Please join me on  Instagram  to see more pictures I share all week long.

me and my hatSee that hat on my head? Well I wore it during an entire walking workout on the treadmill at the Y last week. There I was in a tank top and capris, walking at a good pace on the treadmill my kindle paperwhite in hand reading $10 Great Dates all the while unknowingly sporting my black fleece hat. I didn’t find out until I saw it in the mirror as I was getting bundled up to go outside again. Needless to say I ended up leaving the gym red faced not from my workout but from embarrassment.

(oh and $10 Great Dates is such a great book. I gleaned so many great tips for new frugal date ideas from it)

christmas stuff still outHere it is mid February and I still have a piece of our Christmas decorations out. I have passed this Christmas colored vase filled with Christmas glass decorations for weeks now and still have not gotten around to putting it away. Good thing is I am working on decluttering this room during this month’s 52 Weeks To A Simplified Home so surly in a week or two this will finally be put away.

my plantsThis is an embarrassing trait of mine, that right now has an ending I am pretty proud of (but that could change). I am a well known plant killer among my group of friends. Seriously stories of my brown thumb circulate around parties. However, this picture is proof that I can keep plants alive (well at least so far I have). These plants are now several years old and still thriving. Sometimes the ivy type one looks like it is about to die but then I just water it well and it pops right back up. I got these plants at Aldi of all places.

Deals So Good I had To Share

Craftsy

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8X8 Custom Softcover Photo Book  for only $1.99 using promo code YOURBOOK (shipping starts at $2.99)

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You can only use one code on your first order at YORK photo, but there certainly are a lot of great ones to choose from.  A lot of the different options would make great gifts, and you could send a a screen picture of your creation to your loved one and on Valentine’s day telling them it is in the mail and made with love for them.

Where To Find Time To Express Your Creativity

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I love expressing my creativity through knitting, sewing and more . I also love expressing my creativity through making handmade gifts for others. There is just something about making a gift for someone that makes me feel closer to them.

Honestly though I rarely sit for hours and just work on a craft. In fact that type of crafting session for me only happens perhaps 3 or 4 times a year. Yet, last Christmas alone I gave away 2 hand knitted scarves, 3 pairs of fingerless gloves, a baby blanket and roughly 200 hand knitted dishcloths.

How on earth did I find the time to knit 200 dishcloths, well actually finding that many people to give them away too was harder than finding the time to knit them.

10 Ways To Find To Express Your Creativity It begins with thinking outside the box to fill in times you might not think about crafting in.

10 Ways To Find Time To Express Your Creativity

1. Keep the projects simple

This is my number one tip for those wanting to express their creativity through crafts. Stay away from complicated cable knit adult sized sweaters and instead knit a cable knit dishcloth . Stay away from complicated king size quilt patterns and make a dolly blanket, or a baby blanket. Stay away from writing a novel and instead write a short story (or at least concentrate on a chapter at a time, instead of thinking about how vast a goal a novel is).  Keep to simple projects that are portable and can easily be completed here and there in a short amount of time. It is just so much more rewarding.

2. Carry a project with you everywhere

I have what I like to call craft to go bags. I have several, one for knitting dishcloths, one for locker hooking, and another one for fingerless gloves, or a scarf or whatever I crafting project I  have on the go. You never know when there might be a window of  time  in your day to get a few rows done, or a few stitches added.

3. Use travel time

I can knit dishcloths in my sleep. My hands just seem to know what they are doing so I don’t even have to look at my needles. This makes dishcloth creation a perfect car time activity. My husband drives and I knit dishcloths. At the rate of one dish cloth an hour, I get a lot of knitting done this way.

4. Use waiting time

My daughter takes gymnastics for an hour every week. I sit in the bleachers and knit. Since I don’t have to look up all the time I can bring a more complicated project like fingerless gloves or a scarf for these times. For writing, I have a simple note pad app on my phone that I use to jot down ideas as they come to me during small waiting times that happen through the day, like those few moments waiting on my son to get out of his twice a week class.

5. Use visiting time

When my friends and I get together whether it is a meal or coffee they know I am going to come with my knitting bag in hand.  If I am going to be at there home for the afternoon while kids play, then I might bring my locker hooking which requires a bit more concentration but I can still have a conversation with people while I do it.

6. Use TV time

I can knit and watch TV or a movie at the same time. I usually stick to my no brainer dishcloths so I don’t miss the action.

7.  Use it as an excuse for a girls night

I haven’t done this with my group of friends in ages, but back when our children were smaller and didn’t have a million evening events that we had to drive them to and from,  I would invite friends to my home once a month for a craft night. People brought a snack and whatever they were working on and just sat crafted, ate and chatted.

8. Use vacation time

Vacation time generally has more down hours than day to day life. I like to fill those with a bit of Cable TV watching and knitting, or perhaps sitting on the deck of our hotel room enjoying the view and doing a bit of writing.

9. Use it as a reward

If I am totally dreading doing a chore or task, I will tell myself “get …….done and then you can spend all Sunday afternoon crafting”. It usually works well.

10. Make it a priority

If expressing your creativity is vital to your mental well being like it is mine, you need to make sure that you do all that you can to make it a priority no matter what stage of life you are in.

For me right now with children at home, and all that comes with a family and an at home business that means I need to keep my projects small and portable so I can redeem those otherwise wasted minutes with a bit of crafting. For you that might mean something different.

If find time to express your creative in a way I didn’t mention I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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52 Weeks To A Simplified Home: Project 6

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Six weeks into this project already. I have to admit some weeks I don’t mind posting photos of my mess at all since it seems pretty normal. But then there are weeks like today, where I feel slightly embarrassed by my mess. However perhaps embarrassment is needed if I am ever to cure myself of my piling habits.

my sports gear messThis is the dresser where I store all my workout clothes, and my workout gear. It is in my dining room of all places. Why? Because I use to workout early and my husband use to worked late, so to avoid waking him up we both agreed to moving my workout stuff to the dining room and that is where it has stayed for years and years.

Why a dresser full of workout gear. Well I do live in Indiana where it has been said that you can start your day in a winter parka and end it in a tank top and shorts. Because of the moody weather, I have workout clothes for rainy days, snowy days, cold days and hot days. I also have workout gear for running, biking and swimming.

Why all the mess of papers on top of the dresser? We don’t have an office in our home, so the top of the dresser is my filling cabinet. This is one thing I plan to change by the end of this 52 week challenge. I am hoping by tossing out the unnecessary I can make room for an office space somewhere that is big enough to hold all our papers and office supplies.

The junk beside the dresser. More office supplies, and more workout gear and …….a lot of other stuff that shouldn’t be there.

dresser drawers.I started the declutter process by putting the drawers on the living room floor. I then emptied out the drawers one at a time. I vacuumed dust out of each one and placed only the items I really use back in the drawers and discarded the other items.

dresser drawers all cleanFrom exploding to lots of room. That looks so much better doesn’t it.

recycling and giveawayBy the time I was done I had half a ThredUp box full of recycling and half a Zulily box full of things to go to the thrift store. Online cloth shopping has more perks than great deals it also gives you free decluttering materials :).

trash from dresserI also filled up half a kitchen trash bag with trash. YIKES!

I forgot to take a picture of me decluttering the top of the dresser, but I did pretty much the same thing. I cleared it all off and emptied the containers one by one.

dresser all doneIn the end the area still looks somewhat cluttered but it is the best I can do until I move on to other areas of the home and find better spots for some of the things that are here. Which is another lesson I am learning in this challenge;to make the best use of the space we have. We have only one closet on the main floor of the home and when I get to it I hope to put it to better use to store things that we don’t need others looking at while having dinner at our home, such as sports gear.

Join the 52 Weeks To A Simplified Home challenge and then join the Snail Pacing Goal Achievers Facebook group where share your progress and get encouragement.

52 weeks to a simplified homefree printable plan (small)

Coupons To Help You Declutter & Clean Your Home


$1.00 off ONE Tide Detergent 40oz or larger

$0.25 off ONE Dawn product

$1.00 off any two Ziploc brand bags

How To Get Out Of A Date Night Rut Without Blowing The Budget

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If you have been reading here for any length of time you know that I believe in the importance of regularly dating your spouse.

How to get out of a date night rut without breaking the bank

I also believe that dating can fit in any budget no matter how tight. In fact I have written numerous articles full of ideas of how to date for less.

Lately though I have been feeling like my hubby and I are in a thrifty date night rut. Short dates have become a trip to the hardware store for supplies, and longer dates always seem to end with grocery shopping.

Which made me pick up and read a copy of  $10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun On A Budget last week. I was hoping to find a few inexpensive ideas to blast us out of our same thrifty date over and over rut.

I honestly opened it up with low expectations think surly I would just find the same things you find in free blog posts about thrifty dating. However, I ended up highlighting several areas of the book and came away with at least half a dozen new thrifty date ideas for my husband and I to try.

Another thing I really loved about $10 Great Dates were the insightful advice from the authors on what it takes to build a good marriage.

Advice on why couples should intentionally stay out of date ruts

Advice on how to date from $10 great dates“..predictable dinner-and-a-movie dates have less impact than dates that stretch you and take you out of your normal routine. New experiences help bond together and often result in a big payoff for your marriage”.

Advice on why to intentionally set time aside for dating

why dating in marriage must be a priority from $10 great dates“With so many things competing for our time, dates rarely just happen naturally. A date communicates, “I choose you as a priority, and I want to be intentional about nurturing our relationship”

Advice on the elements for a great date

definition of a date by $10 great dates

“quality time together, giving each of you a break from your normal routine, a shared activity and conversation”

 A Few More Reasons I loved $10 Great Dates

Each and every date in $10 Great Dates can be taken for $10 or less. The book has ideas for all seasons. The authors lay out what to do to prepare for the date, what to do during the date, and gives insightful take-a-ways that will build your marriage.

If you and your hubby are in a date rut, or you are struggling for ideas of how to date on a tight budget.  I suggest reading $10 Great Dates.

(psst… read my post on Thrifty Bookworms to figure out how to fit book purchases into your budget, my top 2 favorite ways currently are Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks & InstaGC)

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