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! 


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.

One Month Down

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I sort of disappeared from this blog for a bit.  I really needed a break and I really needed some time to sort out some things going on in my life.  During this time, I missed the one month mark of this deployment, so....

1 month down, who knows how many more to go.  When Josh left for basic, it seemed like everything that could go wrong, did.  This time it's not so much that things are going wrong like that, as much as in my head.

We had another snow storm right after Josh left.  If you recall, we had a huge snowstorm in MD right after he left for basic, so I guess this is the norm for us.  This storm was pretty bad.  We got a few feet and I had to call out of work one of the days, which was not ideal.   Bolt loved it though, so I guess that's something.

I started a new job right before he left, and I hate it with a firey burning passion.  The only reason I'm keeping it is because it looks good on my resume.  I did have them take me down to part time so I can get more hours at Fridays.  Friday's my not be ideal but I love the people I work with and I am actually busy while I'm there.  I also love all of my managers at Friday's, which isn't something that happens often.   This has also been a good move financially which is something I'll write about in my next Debt Free update.

I went home at the end of March for a few reasons, but mainly because my friends from Arizona came to town with their little one, who I had yet to meet.   It turned in to one of the busiest weekends ever, but it was just what I needed to get out of the funk I'd been in all month.

It started out a bit rough.  First, I left my debit card at work and had to stop by there on the way to board Bolt, which took us a bit out of our way.  Next, I was trying out a new boarding place for Bolt because this place allows the boarding dogs to go out all day with the doggy day care dogs.   Bolt loves other dogs and is super high energy so this was perfect.  He had a great time and we'll definitely be back.  However, I had to take Josh's car down to MD for an inspection, and for some reason his car tends to make Bolt sick.  The boarding place is about an hour south of my house so I was a bit worried and brought an old blanket to put over the seat and down onto the floor just in case.  We were literally less than half a mile from the place when he threw up.  But did he throw up on the blanket I brought?  Nope, he leaned over to my side and threw up all down the side panel in about the hardest spot for me to reach.   The lady at the boarding place gave me some paper towels and it took me about 30 mins in the rain to clean it up.  I ended up moving the blanket over to my side just in case I missed something; I didn't want to be touching it.

The drive down and the rest of the trip went great!  As I got farther and farther south the weather cleared up and warmed up!  I was able to put the windows down and open the sun roof!  Saturday night, I had dinner at Chili's with my two favorite co-workers from my old job and spent the entire time in tears laughing!  I miss those girls!  Sunday was my busy day!  I woke up and headed to my friend Vicky's house where all of my friends were gathering to hang out with our Arizona friends.  It was so great catching up with everyone and meeting two of the little ones for the first time.  We also managed to get a great group photo!  My friend Kristin, who was visiting, recently started selling LuLaRoe and brought some of her stuff with her.  I said I'd never buy any of that stuff just because it's way over priced .... yeah, I totally walked out of there with a super comfy and super soft classic-t.  After getting my LLR lesson, I headed straight for Glen Burnie to David's Bridal.  My friend Laurie is getting married in September and I was really sad that I would be missing a lot of stuff due to living so far, but when she heard I'd be in town, she made her dress appointment around that!   I'm so happy I was able to be a part of that!  Laurie and I grew up together and she was in my wedding, and I'm so happy to be in hers.  

After the dress picking, I headed back to my Mom's for spaghetti dinner since I felt like I'd hardly seen her even though I was staying at her house.  After dinner I headed back out again!  I had gone to my Dad's house the night before but he was headed to a meeting.   He told me he was going to my Granny's house at 8 on Sunday after his Sunday meeting and that I should go and surprise her.  Surprising my Granny was great!  And an unexpected bonus to this trip as I wasn't expecting to see her at all.   We all talked for a few hours before heading out since my Dad and I both had early mornings.

Monday morning, I left when my Mom left for work, got Josh's car inspected and headed straight back up to NY.  Unfortunately I had to find something to do before picking Bolt up because I couldn't get him until 330 and I made it back up fairly quickly and would have gotten to the boarding place at 2.  I ended up finding a McDonalds and getting some reading done.   Bolt and I made it home around dinner time and spent the night chilling and watching Hawaii Five-0

Our financial situation totally sucked this month, but I'll go into that more in my financial update that in my next Debt Free post.  It was a huge stresser for me this month, though.  I am happy to say that it's definitely improved since then!

I really struggled mentally this month.  It wasn't really about Josh being gone, but him being gone and not really having anyone to talk to didn't help.  My new job was a big part of it and struggling to feel productive was a big part of it.  I think there was also a bit of seasonal depression mixed it with it.  March was cold and rainy, and there was no sign of spring at all, which really had me down.

I'm happy to say that April has been a lot better and I'm glad we're almost another month down on this deployment.  I can't wait to have my husband home!

Book Reviews: March

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Once again, this was not a good month for reading :(

I really wanted to like this book.   At first I did like it, the fact that Fort Drum was prominently featured made it a bit more relateable for me.  I also like that she didn't gloss over some of the harder parts of being a military spouse.  However, as I read more I felt like I was reading less of the wives stories and more statistics.  I also felt like she spent half the book insulting the military.  I started skimming through a lot of it about 60% in.  This book just wasn't for me.

I gave this book a 2/5 on my GoodReads.

Linking up here

Saturday Sit-Down!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hey ladies!  I am so excited to be featured today on one of my favorite blogs!  I am answering some questions on Erica's blog as part of her new Saturday Sit-Down series!  Be sure to check it out!

Also,  I know I've been a major slacker this month but I plan to be back next week with a deployment update, debt-free update, and a post about our furry boy!

Recommendations? Anyone?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

All right, y'all!  This is going to be a short one.  Other than Dave Ramsey's financial books, I really haven't read much this year.   I can't seem to get into ANYTHING!  I need some recommendations of really great books, ones you couldn't put down.  Must be Fiction but other than that I'm pretty much open to anything!  Annnnd Go!

Three Things

Friday, March 10, 2017

I saw this going around the blogosphere and decided to give it a go since I've really been slacking here lately.  Between working a new job and adjusting to my husband being gone, I have had zero time to myself. 

Three thing's I'd never give up: 
My family and friends, travel, and books.

Three favorite vegetables:
Corn, Green Beans, and Carrots.

Three shows I watched faithfully from beginning to end:
Gilmore Girls (probably seen it all the way through 10 times), Chicago PD (I've been watching since episode 1 and still watch faithfully), and Flashpoint (obviously I didn't watch it while it was on but I watched all the way through on Netflix).  I rarely watch shows faithfully.

Three places I want to visit inside the US:
Portland, Oregon; San Diego, California; Boston, Massachusetts

Three places I want to visit outside the US:
This question is just mean!!  Hmmm... Ireland, Austria, and Peru.

Three things I always have with me: 
Military ID, a book, and my phone.

Three things that are always in my car:
Sunglasses, Jumper Cables, and an unnecessary amount of water bottles.

Three most recent calls were from/to:
My best friend, Alex, the place I'm going to board my dog, and my friend Randi. 

Three books I read and loved in college: 
Seriously, I don't have a clue! I don't remember a thing that I read in college lol

Three most often used makeup products:
Mascara, Eye Liner, and Cover Up.

Three things that make me laugh:
Cat videos, videos of people falling, and my husband.

Three things that make me cry:
Anything involving shelter dogs, military homecoming videos, and sappy movies.

2017 Goals: February

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Can't say I got much done on the goals front this month.  It's been stressful between the new job and preparing for Josh to leave, plus there was a last minute trip home in there.  Hopefully March will be better once I get settled into a routine and get used to this new job.

1.  Switch to a Vegan Diet
I didn't really make any progress with this but I'm also happy to report that I haven't regressed either.   I'm still eating Vegan dinners, and when I bother to eat breakfast (I know) I eat a vegan breakfast.  Lunch is the only one I'm working on.  I'm pretty good with that for now.  Over the next few months I plan to play around a bit with my meals.  I have a few meals that are my go-to's but I want to try a few new things for breakfast and dinner before I focus on lunch.   I'm feeling good about where I am with this goal right now. 

2.  Focus on my Health
This was a big fat freaking fail!  I only went to the gym maybe 3 times and I ate like crap.  I'm hoping to get back on track now that I've started my new job and we're past the start of this deployment.   I've also majorly failed in waking up early.  I've been waking up between 8 and 9 every day but I want to be up by 7 at the latest.  I just epically failed at this goal this month.

3. Focus on Bolt's Training
I've been doing more obedience training at home with him, but I still want to get him into classes.  This will have to happen in April after we get our finances in order with all of the recent changes.  I did find an amazing place to board him while I'm out of town this month.  They'll include him in doggy daycare and he'll get to play all day.  I really like this place and I'm excited to see how it works for him.

4.  Photo 365 on Instagram
Again, this one is going really well.  I'll miss a day here and there but I have only missed 6 or 7 days this whole year, so I'd say that's not too bad.   If you follow me on Instagram, my hashtag is #JLRich365.

5. No Spend Year
Well, the Army really hasn't given us a choice in this one.  Josh had to buy so much stuff for his deployment and it wasn't optional.  However, I will say that we didn't buy anything that wasn't needed or required.  I'm counting this as a win for this month. 

6. School
I am actually taking this one off the list.  I was accepted to the Paralegal program at the local community college, but I have decided not to go that route.  Instead, I am going to take classes online at UMUC for a BA in Legal Studies, but I'm not going to start until next year.  Right now, working and saving money is more important than going back to school.

7.  Finish the 50 States Challenge
Fail, just fail. 

Book Reviews: February 2017

Friday, March 3, 2017

I don't normally read non-fiction books, but this month was the month of non-fiction.  I'm really glad I read each of these books, though.  I feel like I learned a lot.

LOOOOVE!  I really needed this.  I have been wanting to do something about my student loans for a while.  As you can tell by all of my recent financial posts I am following Dave Ramsey's seven steps.   I really like how he explains each step in detail and gives good logical reasons when it should be don this way.  And I know that it's basically a way to market his plan, I did love reading the success stories from different people.  This was a huge motivator for me and I highly recommend this to anyone looking to get out of debt no matter how large or small those debts might be.

I gave this book a 5/5 on my GoodReads

This book was a bit weird for me.  I found some of it to be really helpful and some of it to be a bit silly.   I don't think inanimate objects have feelings and since I'm not a particularly emotional person, I'm not going to choose what I keep based on a feeling.  I did like the advice on getting rid of stuff by category and I did like the illustrations of how to fold clothes.  If you can get past the author and how neurotic she sounds, it can be helpful.  I don't know that I'd go out of my way to recommend it though.

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

While I didn't find this book as useful as Total Money Makeover, I did learn a few things.  I'm not very knowledgeable about investing so this helped a lot as far as giving me a place to start.  I also learned a lot more about interest and bank math, which sadly, I didn't really know much about.  If I had read this book at a different time, I may not have liked it as much but for me it added fuel to the fire, reading it after reading Total Money Makeover.   I would definitely recommend reading this book.

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

Getting Out of Debt: My Motivation

Monday, February 27, 2017

When I was reading Total Money Makeover, one thing that stood out to me was him saying that you need to have a "why" or some sort of motivation for getting out of debt.  It could be to secure your retirement, to ensure your children have a better future, or just because debt is annoying.

I have a few things motivating me, one is that my parents, as much as I love them, were and still are not very good financial planners.  They will both probably work until they die.  That is not the life I want for Josh and I, so securing our retirement is definitely a motivation for me!  Another is that debt is annoying.  I get so annoyed every payday because 85% of our paycheck is gone by the next day.  It's frustrating and annoying as hell.  The idea of having another 10 years of this makes my hair grey.  That is also one of Josh's main motivations.  Not having money on payday is obnoxious.  While those things are definitely huge motivators for me they're not the biggest motivator.   My biggest motivator is ...


 Josh and I had a date night this past Thursday because he got the official date that he is leaving and it really hit me that day.  I was really down and wanted some intentional alone time with my husband.  Once we got home and went to bed I was scrolling on Instagram and came across Cassie De Pecol's account.  In case you don't know, she just completed an around the world trip in 18 months, visiting all 196 countries.  She is the fastest female to do so.   Anyway, I was scrolling through the photos and since Josh wasn't asleep yet I shared it with him.

We spent a good hour scrolling through the pictures and talking about some of the places such as Afghanistan and Syria and the other war torn places that she visited.   Then we came across a photo of Mongolia.  Mongolia has been at the top of my list for many years.  I would love to experience life as a Nomadic person and cross the country on horseback.  There is so much about Mongolia that intrigues me and its one of those countries that I will make a point to travel to sooner rather than later. I told Josh this and it really surprised him, and it got us talking about the places that are on the tops of our lists.

We realized that we really had a lot of places in common, and some of his top places are some of the places that I've been and loved such as Rome.  The more we talked about it, the more we really wanted to travel.  Since we're both not making much right now and travel is hard to arrange with the military since things can change at any time, we want to focus on getting out of debt so that when he gets out of the military we can travel.  Also, if we happen to get Germany (I'd love you forever, Army) as a duty station, we want to have a lot of this debt taken care of so we can take advantage of the travel opportunities there.   Even if we end up on the west coast, like Washington, we want to be able to travel out there since we'll most likely end up in the southeast after he leaves the Army.

Traveling more has always been something I want to do, and after our cruises, it is climbing on Josh's priority list, too.   To motivate myself, I have saved some pictures of different places I want to travel to and will be placing them around the house (yes, I'm going to be that person), and in my wallet to remind myself to think before buying something.  What's more important, this thing I'm going to buy or travel.

While there are obviously other things that will motivate me to get our debt paid off ASAP, I think travel will be my biggest motivation and the one thing that makes me push harder.

Are you working on paying off debt??  What is your biggest motivator??
Hayley Larue Design