Getting Out of Debt: First Update

Friday, May 19, 2017


It's time for my first update!  Since I just started this series I'm still playing around with how I want to organize each update, but for now I think sharing last quarters progress and this quarters goals is a good start.   I was going to update monthly, but since we're still figuring things out I am going to post quarterly for a while (once every 3 to 4 months).

February/March Progress:

I knew I wasn't going to make too much progress these first months since I didn't start my second job until the last week of February and we weren't sure where we were going to be financially with Josh's deployment because we were being told 100 different things (welcome to the Army, right?).   I am happy to announce that we were able to complete the emergency fund of $1000 this month.   I also wrote out all of my goals time wise and now have them hanging on my refrigerator.

April/May Progress:

April was when I really got started.  I'm not going to lie, I'm cheating a bit.  Dave Ramsey says to start with your lowest debt and work your way up.  However, we have a loan that has less than 2 years left on it (totaling approximately $6,900), so I am paying that one off first.  Plus, the minimum payment is super high and will majorly help is in paying off some of our lower debts.  Between April 17th and May 15th, I was able to pay my minimum payment of $320 as well as an extra $698.14.  The current balance on the loan is 5987.17 (I know that doesn't add up, but interest, ya know).  If you add in the minimum payments that we paid on all of our other debts ($723), we paid a total of $1741 this month!  To tell the truth, I'm super proud of us right now!  I honestly thought that we'd maybe pay off and extra $300, so to double that is super motivating!


I hit a bit of a "roadblock" at the end of April when my phone just stopped working.  One minute it was fine and the next it was totally dead.  Ugh.  Luckily I work at Best Buy and was able to get a new phone that day.  I am now the owner of a Samsung Galaxy S8.  Since my S6 was not yet paid off, I had to pay the balance on that which set me back a bit.

This month I started getting into Podcasts (totally open to suggestions for good ones, BTW) and Dave Ramsey's was the first I started listening to.  I listen while driving to and from work and I listen when I take Bolt for a walk.  With Josh being gone, I really don't have an accountability partner (which Dave says is super important) so listening to these podcasts really helps.  I also learning a lot about investing and different types of retirement funds that I didn't even know existed!

Goals Update

Way back in February, I posted some goals to help us get started on this debt free journey and I haven't revisited them since.  I took a look at them and I'm happy to say I've actually done pretty well!  These goals will also be my goals for the next quarter.

Start Meal Planning// This one is a pretty big fail.  I've not done any meal planning, but I have been better about being more intentional with what I buy.  And I've been making an effort to eat what I have rather than what I want, which is helping me get rid of stuff that's been sitting in our pantry or freezer for way too long.  So, I could do better with this goal, but it wasn't a complete and total loss.

Sell Things We Don't Need/Declutter// This has probably been my biggest win yet!  There is a Thrift Shop on Post which allows you to consign stuff.  They let you set the price and cut checks on the first of each month.  If your item is not sold in 90 days, you can either donate it or buy it back for a fraction of the price you set.  So, I set my prices and figure if none of it sells, then I'll just donate them and they're still out of my house for good.   I consigned some books, some DVD's, shoes, picture frames, and a whole lot of clothes!  I got rid of a bunch of DVD's;  I took them FYE the other day and they took all but 4 of them and I made $10.50 which I put with my tips to go into the snowball.  Of the 4 that I didn't sell, my sister took 2 and the others went to the Thrift Shop.  Books were the hardest.  I always ask my Mom and Sister if they want any of the books, and if not, I move on to my former boss who collects books, and whatever she doesn't want gets consigned.  I felt my soul die a little when I took some of these books to consignment, but I know I'd never read them again and if I wanted to for some reason, that is why libraries exist.  I am still working my way through all of the rooms in my house, but I'm so happy with my progress so far!

Work on a Written Budget// This hasn't really happened yet.  There has been so many changes in Josh's deployment, so this has been really difficult because the Army doesn't care about my budget.  If they tell you to buy something, you do it.  It's a little discouraging when you write up a great budget and your husband says oh, I have to take out $200 for X and I have no choice.  So, I'm going to keep trying, but I may not be able to get a great written budget figured out until he gets home.

Work Two Jobs// Win!  Well, kind of.  I said in my last post that I got a full time job, which is true.  But I hate the job so much that being there full time was torture.  I went down to part time and picked up more hours at Fridays.   The money I make from the other job goes towards bill and the money I make at Fridays goes right towards the debt.   I seriously considered leaving the job I hate at the end of June, but I'm going to suck it up until Josh gets home.  By that time, I'm hoping to have 3 debts taken care of and only 3 left.  Who knows, by that time I may find a job that I really like, but I'm not holding my breath. (After I wrote this, I accepted a new job at a super nice hotel on the St. Lawrence River, so I will be quitting the job I hate and working full time at the hotel restaurant and part time at Fridays)!

101 in 1001: May Update

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


I've missed the last few updates because I haven't really been focusing on this list for the last few months.  It's hard to get motivated to get out and do things when it's super cold and snowy.  However, the weather is beautiful now and I have some visitors coming, so hopefully we can cross some things off this list! 

Completed

Meet at least one blog friend in person: I am happy to say that I've completed this one!  We didn't really hang out this day but I saw that Melissa from Loving Life Moore, was selling a patio set and I really needed one, so I met her when I went to pick that up.  She is super sweet in person, and I am in love with her bionic dog!  Hoping to get together soon and actually hang out!

In Progress

Put together a financial plan and stick to it: We're working really hard on this one!  We are having a hard time putting a budget together (which I explain in my next financial update on Friday), but we have been paying off debt so I can't complain too much.  I also have a plan written out for when to have each baby step completed, so in that regard, this is a win!

Pay off one student loan:  I am currently working on a personal loan but the first student loan comes after that.  If we stick to the plan that I have laid out, we this first student loan paid off by the end of the year, or at the end of January at worst.

Do the declutter challenge: I am not doing the challenge that I had originally wanted to do, but lately I have been decluttering the crap out of my house (more details in my next financial update).  I have gotten rid of so much stuff, I'm just not using the exact steps in the plan that I found back in 2015.

Finish the 50 States Reading Challenge:  I have crossed off three states: Kentucky, Iowa, and New Mexico (check out my book review post).  I only have 20 to go, so this should be fairly easy to finish by the end date.

Visit at least 10 new vineyards in New York:  I visited Tug Hill Vineyards on my birthday which brings me up to 3 wineries.   My friend Heather is visiting in June and we plan to check out a few other wineries, so hopefully I'll have made some good progress on this one by the next check-in.

Visit at least 1 new country:  Without going into too much detail, there is a 90% chance we will be getting a big chunk of change at the end of this deployment.  A lot of that will go into our debt snowball, but Josh really needs a vacation, so we figured we'd check out some shorter cruises.  There is one to Cuba and The Bahamas that we really want to do.  Cuba would be a new country for both of us, and one I've wanted to go to for a long time!

Go on another cruise:  See Above.

Not Happening

Double savings again by the end date:  Because we are doing Dave Ramsey's baby steps we will keep $1000 in savings and leave it at that until we pay off all of our debt.  As much as I would love to, we will not be paying our debt off by time this challenge is over, so this will definitely not be happening.

Get my ACE Personal Trainer certification:  Goals have changed and this is just not a priority anymore.  Especially since it's looking like I may get to go back to school way sooner than I thought. 

Book Reviews: April

Monday, May 15, 2017


I finally got back into reading a bit more and even crossed a few states off for my 50 States Reading Challenge. I discovered the MWR Digital Library and went a bit crazy!


I think this one wins for most hated book I've ever read.  The only reason I even finished it is because I couldn't find any other book I wanted to read set in Iowa.   This book was dull, I hated all of the characters, and the writing was super boring.   Also, talk about way over descriptive, holy shit!  She probably could have cut 100 pages out of this book if she left out all the unnecessary descriptions of stupid stuff!  I hated it so much, and I definitely don't recommend it.

I gave this book a 1/5 on my GoodReads


 This book was just what I needed to get back into reading. It wasn't a great book and I often found the main character to be annoying (what 14 year old girl isn't?) but it was light and easy to read which was what I needed.  It kinda reminded me a bit of mean girls but not quite to that extent.  I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this book, but it was what I needed to get out of my reading rut - and I crossed Kentucky off my list for my 50 States Challenge.

I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.


I read this book in one day even with work!  It wasn't as suspenseful as I thought since things were revealed throughout the novel, but I still really wanted to find out what happened to Grace.  You find out slowly how things got to the point where Grace was trapped and why she was trapped and I think that is what really gets people hooked.  I highly recommend this book!

I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.


I liked this book way more than I was expecting to.  It was seriously a romantic comedy in book form, and lord knows I love a good romantic comedy!  My favorite part was the characters constant banter, and I also like that, while there was conflict, it wasn't too angsty.  Definitely my favorite read of the month! 

I gave this book a 5/5 on my GoodReads.


I have mixed feelings about this book, but overall, I really enjoyed it.  I really liked seeing the main character become more independent and more confident.  There were a few parts that were just a tad unbelievable and a few parts that were just in there for drama and that could have been left out.   I really enjoyed the European scenery and I loved the people Aubree was traveling with!  I seriously found my self laughing out loud and crying my eyes out at different points in the book.  If you like "coming of age" stories or travel stories, I'd recommend this book. 

I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads.


This book made me really nostalgic! It takes place right out side of Florence and there were times I felt like I was back in Italy.  I really enjoyed following Lina's journey in Italy and learning more about her Mom.   There were some parts that were a bit too cheesey for my liking, but overall, I enjoyed this book.

I gave this book a 4/5 on my GoodReads


Meh.  I really liked parts of this book and really didn't like other parts.  I feel like it had a lot of potential that it just didn't live up to.  I don't really know what else to say without spoiling it.  It passed the time fine and it wasn't an awful book but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it. 

I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.

Cheer's to Military Spouses!

Friday, May 12, 2017


I am so excited to participate in this link-up this year!  I saw it last year but didn't participate because my husband was still in AIT and I didn't really feel that connected to Military life yet.  I've learned a lot in the last year and a half and I'm so excited to share my experience.

//Tell us about yourself and your blog.
Hi! I'm Jenn!  I am 28 years old and I am a lover of travel, books, vegetarian food and my Shepherd/Husky mix, Bolt. I currently live in the Frozen Tundra that is Fort Drum, NY.  I blog about pretty much anything from our journey to being debt free, to books, to travel, to life in New York. 

//What branch of military are you affiliated with?
The Army - my husband works on helicopters, which I think is pretty cool! 

//What is one thing you enjoy about the military lifestyle?
As much as I don't really like Northern NY because of the weather (it's 40 degrees while I'm writing this ... IN MAY!), I do like the opportunity to move new places and experience new things.  I know I'm not going to like every place that we move, but I am going to take advantage of the travel opportunities each one affords.  I mean, when am I ever going to live 30 minutes from Canada again?  And when am I going to live around such great wine again?


//What advice would you give other spouses who are new?
Get a job when you get to your new duty station, either that or find some where to volunteer.  Even if it's super part time.  I find that when I'm thrown into something like that, it is way easier to meet people and make friends.  If it wasn't for my job, I would literally know one person.  Two of my closest friends are girls I met at work.

//Where have you been stationed?
We are currently at Fort Drum in New York, which is our first duty station.  I have experience with Fort Eustis because my husband did 6 months of AIT there and I visited often.

//Do you work, go to school, volunteer, or stay home? 
 Due to my husband being deployed and us attacking our debt, I actually work two jobs.   As I said before, I enjoy working and got a job as soon as we got here.  It's definitely helped with keeping busy while he's gone.  There are days when all I do is walk Bolt, eat, work, come home, walk Bolt again, and go to the next job.   Sometimes it's exhausting but I'm seeing major progress in our debt snowball and it gives me less time to dwell on my husband being gone.


Tug Hill Vineyards

Friday, May 5, 2017


As far as birthday's go, my 28th was pretty darn good!  My birthday was on April 27th and with Josh being gone, I wasn't making a big deal out of this birthday at all.  I didn't even tell anyone up here about it and I wasn't planning to.  I accidentally slipped up to my two friends at work, on Tuesday.  Turns out they both had off in the afternoon on my birthday.   By some miracle I had the day off from both jobs (without asking) and it was about 80 degrees that day!  It was seriously the perfect day, weather wise.

I spent the morning cleaning the house because I am always more motivated to clean when I can have the windows open (weirdest thing ever).  Around 130 I got myself ready and headed to my friends house around 230.   I had decided that I wanted to check out Tug Hill Vineyards because the wines looked right up my alley.  Of course, it wouldn't be me if we didn't get lost at least once (though this time I wasn't driving).  We ended up on some random road that turned into a one lane dirt road, so we stopped to ask for directions and were told that if we'd gone any farther we'd probably have ended up in this huge pot hole!   Luckily we got on the right track after that! 

We got to the vineyard around 330 and we were the only ones there!  The girl who did our wine tasting was awesome, we were a bit hyper when we got there and she was such a great sport (and she was right around our age so that helped).   I'll list my favorite wines at the end of the post, but if you love sweet wines or fruit wines, this is definitely the place for you!  I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!  Once we finished our tasting and picked out the wines we wanted (they each bought me a bottle <3 ) we each got a glass and went out onto the porch to hang out.  We were told that they were going to have live music and food a little later, so we decided to stick around. We sat outside talking for hours!  3 glasses of wine later, we made our way inside for some food and live music!  It was so great!  I'm so glad I met these girls, and even though they're both leaving me, I'm glad we all to to be friends for at least a little while!

Tug Hill is definitely my new favorite Vineyard.  The wines are amazing, and the atmosphere can't be beat!  I can't wait to take friends and family from MD to this place, it'll definitely be one of my go-to's!  I also can't wait to see it when the trees and flowers finally start to bloom!

Favorite Wines:
Bubbly Brianna
Raspberry Rhapsody
Strawberry Rhubarb
Tail Light Red
Black Ice

















2017 Goals: March/April

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


These months were a bit of a fail on the goals.  This was an odd month for me and I've found that finding any kind of routine when you don't have set work schedules really sucks.

1. Switch to a Vegan Diet
I'm pretty much in the same spot that I was during my last update.  I haven't really made progress but I also haven't regressed.  My main issue is finding the time (and ingredients) to try new meals.  I'm not putting too much pressure on myself with this one, I'm fine with where I am and I'll keep adding new foods as I see fit.

2. Focus On My Health
Once again, this was a major fail as far as working out goes.  Getting into a routine has been a bit more difficult than I anticipated!  I now work two jobs and don't have a set schedule with either job.  I have been eating much healthier though, and have been making a grocery list so I don't forget stuff or buy stuff I already have (this was a major issue before).  I have also been consistently waking up between 7:30 and 8 most days.  I'd like to start waking up closer to 7, but I'm good with this for now.

3.  Focus on Bolts Training
This is one big WIN!  At the beginning of April, I scheduled a training session with a trainer at Click to Zen in Evans Mills.  I had heard good things about this place and decided to give it a try.  The first session is a consultation and is 1.5 hours long.  Then you figure things out from there, it's not a package where you come the same time each week for six weeks or something.  This actually worked way better for me because trying to get off from both jobs is not easy.   We had our consultation and it was a huge success! I actually saw progress while we were in the session and I've built on that at home.  We're doing really well right now and I plan to continue at home for a month and revisit the idea of a second session some time in June.

4.  Photo 365 on Instagram
Meh. I didn't do too well on this one this month.  Probably because I feel like all I do is go to the dog park and work.  Hopefully it will be easier to get some great pictures now that the weather is starting to get better. I didn't completely fail, though, and I'm pretty sure I got pictures for at least half of the days this month. And by get better I mean its in the 50's ... I hate you, New York.

5.  No Spend Year
I really feel like I should just take this one off, but I'm not going to.  This has been a fail mostly because the Army makes my husband spend so much money ... it's a little stupid.  I will say that my spending sucked a little bit just because I bought a bunch of snacks from work, and a few CD's (Ed Sheeran and Brantley Gilbert).  I also bought 2 LulaRoe items but those were Josh's birthday/anniversary gifts to me.

6.  Finish the 50 States Challenge
I finally made some progress on this one.  I read A Thousand Acres which took place in Iowa, The Queen of Kentucky which took place in Kentucky, and Love Letters to the Dead which took place in New Mexico.  Reviews for all will be up next week.

A Bolt Update

Thursday, April 20, 2017


I realized the other day that I did a post about Bolt back when we first got him, but haven't done one since :(  I'm a bad doggy mommy!

When we picked Bolt up, he was 1 year and 2 weeks old.  Now he is 1 year and 8 months old.  I can't believe he's been in our lives for 8 months, but I also can't imagine life without this guy.    Since we've had Bolt for 8 months, and because I love nothing better than a good list, here are 8 things about our little guy.


1.  Bolt LOVES the snow.  It's the cutest thing ever!  He goes outside and hops through the snow and eats it and shoves his head into it, and just has a ball!  He probably would have spent hours playing at the dog park if I would have let him.  He would also go into our back yard and just lay down in the snow for as long as I'd let him. 

2.  When we adopted him all we were told is that he's a shepherd mix.  He's definitely too small and his hair is a bit short for him to be German Shepherd.  After doing some research we think he is Australian Shepherd.  I tried to get a close up of his muzzle but it's not going to happen, but if I were able to you'd be able to see the markings that are characteristic of Australian Shepherds.  We also believe he has some Husky in him.  His hair is much thicker and longer than it looks in pictures, and he talks.  We all know the videos of the huskies "talking back" to their parents.  I was watching one of these one day and Bolt started doing the same thing!  He also does it when he wants attention.  We're planning to eventually get one of those DNA tests done on him to see if we're right, mostly because we're curious. 

3.  Bolt LOVES other dogs.  He cries if he can't get to them, and he practically rips my arm off if he see's them when we're out walking.  The dog park is his favorite place and he makes friends with just about every dog.   We even picked a new boarding place that would allow him to play with the doggy day care dogs instead of going out by himself.   His best friends name is Buddy and we're super sad that buddy is leaving soon.


4.  He is a super picky eater!  Any other dog that I've ever had would basically inhale their food as soon as it was in their bowl, and would eat whatever food dropped on the floor.  Not this guy!  He wont eat his breakfast without an egg and eats his dinner when he feels like it.   I've tried feeding him foods I know are OK for dogs, such as carrots and apples, and he wont eat them.  He'll eat a banana if I mix it with PB and put it in his Kong but wont eat it plain.  He does love his pigskin rolls and dentastix, so that's something.   I've never in my life met such a picky dog.  I even asked the vet if his teeth were OK because he doesn't seem to like dry food too much, but his teeth are fine.

5.  His favorite game is "chase".  We can literally run around the kitchen table for 20 minutes and he is super happy about it.  I, on the other hand, end up getting dizzy and end the game.  He will then come over with whatever toy he had and sit in front of me and stare until I decide to play again.  His second favorite game is "tug-tug", which usually turns into "chase" after a while.

6.  He is super high energy!  We go on two walks per day (or trips to the dog park) and play chase several times per day, as well as working on his training ... and he still has energy after all of that!  My friend always sends pictures of Buddy passed out after him and Bolt have a play date, but Bolt still wants to play.  I call him my little energizer bunny!


7.  He is a cuddle bug - so much so that my nickname for him is Bug.  He loves to be scratched in his "arm pits", and then turn around and literally sit in my lap, then he'll lay down across me and cuddle.   He also likes to cuddle up in my bed with the covers.  He always arranges them in a certain way and it's so cute.   If you are on the ground or in the bed, that boy is cuddling with you whether you like it or not.

8.  He is a super smart boy.  He catches on to commands in no time and definitely outsmarts me sometimes.  He's doing really well with his new training program and catches on to everything really quickly ... we're still working on pulling when we're on walks, but hopefully he catches on to that soon, too.


Hayley Larue Design