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Friday, January 20

Good morning, lovelies!

It's time for the Friday Confessional party. Confession is good for the soul, so stop by to share all your dirty, little secrets. You'll feel better when you're finished, and we promise not to judge.

I thought it would be fun to handle my confessions a little differently this year, by doing a video confessional so please watch below...or catch me live on Facebook next week at 1p.m. EST.

Here are links to the things that I mentioned:

Want to play along? Grab the button and link your Friday Confessional below. Please comment after linking.

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Monday, January 16

I want to talk about money and our debt.

When we started our Financial Peace journey, I was too embarrassed to share our numbers on the blog, but a year of listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts has helped me to get over that.

So I want to share more detail about where we're at because we have a big goal for 2017.
We're knocking out the rest of our debt snowball this year.
To do that, we'll need support from our entire community...including my awesome blogging friends. And I think we'll have better support if we share more about where our debt is and what we need to do to accomplish our goal.

The 2016 goal

After graduating from Financial Peace University just before Christmas, one of our household goals for 2016 was to pay down half of our debt snowball.

Here is where we started the year:
4 credit cards: $16,836
1 bank loan: $3,106
1 auto loan: $10,925
Total snowball: $30,867
Here is where we're ended the year:
2 credit cards: $11,084
2 bank loans: $10,162
Total snowball:  $21,246

Even though we didn't hit our number, I'm calling last year a success. Here's why. We overcame the following obstacles last year:
  • A $7000+ tax bill that exceeded our savings for taxes; thus the bank loan because we determined we'd rather owe a bank than the IRS.
  • Our hot water heater died in July; we had money in the emergency fund to replace it without money drama.
  • The Mister lost his job in August; we stayed on budget until he found a new one and didn't have to touch our emergency fund.
  • The Mister's car was totaled in an accident in November, and we purchased a replacement with cash from the settlement without going into our emergency fund.
  • Both our cars needed major repairs in November and December, and we were able to cash flow the repairs without touching the emergency fund.
In spite of all the challenges life threw at us in 2016, we reduced our debt snowball by 30 percent. We also celebrated the following wins in last year:

  • I sold my car, which means we'll never have a car payment again.
  • The Mister has proven some serious hustle with his side work and now has enough weekend gigs lined up to easily take us into the spring.
  • Having money goals gave me the push to open my Etsy shop Chasing Blue Jays.

We had no money drama, no money stress, no money fights because we had a written plan to tackle the challenges. We controlled the money; it didn't control us.

Money Goal 2017

And this year is going to be our year; we're coming after that remaining $21,000 with a vengeance. We have a plan:

  • Tighten the budget to squeeze even more dollars to throw at the debt
  • Create more income via side hustles
  • Grow my full-time business, my blog income, and my Etsy shop
  • Have faith that more opportunities and blessings will come our way

And I'm asking for your help. Please send prayer and/or positive energy our way. Cheer us on and help us stay accountable.

Do you have financial goals for 2017? What can you do to take control of your finances?

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Tuesday, January 10

Disclosure: I am an influencer with Grove Collaborate and will be compensated for sales made my referral links. Thank you for your support of my blog.

With all the holiday entertaining I’ve been up to (read: dishwashing), my hands have been feeling drier and more cracked than usual. As you know if you've been hanging around here, I’ve been a long-time fan of Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap and hand soap. I've always wished they had a matching lotion for a post-dishwashing treat. Well guess what — now they do!

Of course it’s made with plant-derived ingredients and no parabens or phthalates. But the real reason I love it is that it makes my hands feel heavenly. After I do the dishes, I squirt one pump of this into my palm and rub it in (a little goes a long way). It sinks in right away, which means I can jump on my computer or pull my latest crochet project right out without getting grease everywhere.

Thanks to the essential oils, it smells amazing too. You can choose from from your favorite Mrs. Meyer’s scents and after months of cinnamon spice, these fresh scents make me want to clear out all the clutter in our house and get ready for spring.

Only at Grove

I’m so excited about this product that I had to share this offer from Grove. When you sign up using my link, you’ll get a free Mrs. Meyer’s lotion + kitchen set to help you get a fresh start on the new year. Even sweeter? The lotion is only available at Grove right now, so you’ll be the first to try it! It’s the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a little pick-me-up for you and your home.

Here’s what new Grove Collaborative customers get with their first purchase of $20:
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s lotion
  • Free Grove Collaborative Enamel Cleaning Caddy
  • Free Grove Collaborative Walnut Scrubber Sponges
  • Free shipping

Of course, nothing says “I’ve got it together” like a matching trio of dish soap, hand soap, and lotion sitting neatly by the sink.

Toss the kids’ art supplies or homework stuff in this chic Grove Collaborative enamel caddy and, voila, you’re ready for last-minute visitors without breaking a sweat

Make Life Easy

Here’s one more thing that will make life easy: your subscription to Grove Collaborative. After all the holiday madness, I have zero desire to run to the store for a tube of toothpaste. Grove hand-selects the best natural products (like this Mrs. Meyer’s lotion) and delivers them to my door, on my schedule — for less than what I used to pay at the grocery store. I can choose the products in my shipment and order at any time, but Grove also recommends a shipment schedule to keep me on-budget and stocked up on essentials.

Saving money and going green? That’s two resolutions checked off right there!

This Mrs. Meyer’s lotion is only available at Grove Collaborative and supplies are limited, so don’t wait! I’m excited for you to try it and see why I’m such a fan of Grove. Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for Grove Collaborative HERE. You will receive the Fresh Start Kit for free when you sign up! If you’re already a Grove customer, you’ll receive a Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap for free with your next order.
  2. Answer 4 quick questions about your home that Grove Collaborative will then use to customize your Once you’ve answered the questions, you can finalize your basket of products to suit your household needs by adding or removing items.
  3. To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive in your first box.
  4. You made it! Click Finish & Pay and place your order.

Tip to Save

Once you’ve submitted your Grove order, you’ll be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. For 60 days, save even more with free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service.

Already Subscribe?

No worries. If you're an existing a Grove Collaborative subscriber, click HERE to have a free Mrs. Meyer's lotion added to your basket this month.

What is your favorite Mrs. Meyer's scent? What are products from Grove Collaborative are you excited to try?

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Wednesday, January 4

I have to say that last year was good to me, and I think that some of it had to do with using a word to help me stay focused during the year - ACHIEVE. Keeping this word in mind, I set four major goals for, and I'm counting 3 of them as successfully completed.

Looking forward to 2017, I realized that what I want to accomplish were things that had been on my someday list for years. I had just put them off because I was either afraid or wasn't staying consistent.

I proved to myself over and over last year that I could accomplish big things if I just decided not to give up.

So for 2017, my word of the year is START.

I want this year to be the year that I do things even if I'm afraid, even if I don't want to, even when it's hard.

And I don't want fear to get in my way anymore. Nor will I allow complacency get in the way of establishing the new habits that will allow me to be more successful in my businesses or aspects of life. And I don't have to have the entire plan to get moving.

So the plan for this year is to identify the goal, figure out the first action step and START. If I have to adjust my direction later, I'll deal with that then.

Commit30 Planner - Commit to your dreams and goals.
Stop wishing, start doing in 2017. The Commit30 Planner, Notebook, Journal - Order Now.
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Tuesday, January 3

Happy New Year, friends!

I find it hard to believe that today is the first work day in 2017. Where did the last year go?

I spent a little time over the weekend digging into my analytics as part of my blog planning for the year, and I thought it would be fun to recap the year by looking back at the posts with most views.

It definitely appears that y'all enjoyed posts related to my relationship with Gove Collaborative as an influencer, which is cool since I'll have another special offer from them next week. Stay tuned, and let's see what 2017 brings us.

What were your favorite posts from 2016? Is there something special from the year that didn't make this list?

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Monday, January 2

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I may be paid a small commission from sales via these links. Thank you for your support of my blog.

If you are new around these parts, the Mister and I took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course through our church last year. We have a goal to pay off half of our consumer debt this year. You can catch up on our journey by checking out our previous recaps:

December Budget

Sticking with the December budget went better than it did in November, though I'll admit that we still re-allocated quite a bit of our grocery budget to going out to eat. Both the Mister and I and got sick in December, so there were a lot a evenings where we just went to bed early, which helps when you're trying not to spend money.

I expected us to have a struggle with Christmas gifts, but honestly, it wasn't that difficult. I had been setting aside the extra from grocery and a few other cash envelopes at the end of the month since about August, so we a few hundred already set aside, and we decided to keep the gift list very pared down this year. I also made a lot of gifts.

December Victories & Blessings

As you can see, we rocked the extra income this month. We're really fortunate to have friends that need extra work done in their homes and who want to support us during this journey so the Mister keeps lining up side work such as painting and installing new light fixtures and fans.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised that quite a few friends reached out to me about custom orders through the Etsy shop for Christmas gifts and such. I have sold about a dozen messy bun hats, and the orders are continuing to come in.

Between all the extra income and some generous Christmas gifts, we cash-flowed some car repairs on the Mister's new rider and made an extra $1000 payment on our debt snowball in December.

If you want to take control of your finances, I'd suggest reading The Total Money Makeover. Or go online to to find a Financial Peace University course starting near you.

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Friday, December 30

Hi, friends.

Do you remember me? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to disappear for the month of December. Life happened.

Let's start with the fact that it's Open always gets dicey as we approach that first big deadline at work.

This year, I was slammed with new business, which is good but mentally it just drains me. I haven't worked up all the numbers yet, but I think I wrote close to $750,000 in annual premiums the first two weeks of December.

Free time for the first part of the month was spent helping with our neighborhood association's holiday parade float. It's a lot of fun to ride in the parade, but we had freezing temperatures this year.

Then I agreed to do a holiday trunk show. If I had any idea how busy work would be, I probably wouldn't have committed, but I had a lot of fun. It felt like every extra minute of December has been spent crocheting.

I said that I wasn't going to make them, but I wound up jumping on the messy bun hat trend, and I'm amazed at how quickly they've been selling, but who's going to complain about a little extra money or the opportunity to get the Chasing Blue Jays name out there?

Unfortunately last week, I caught the crud, and it took me down for a week. Being sick over Christmas is no fun, but it has allowed me to binge watch Gilmore Girls and work on Christmas crochet. These women love Chinese food and coffee. How did I not watch this show when it aired originally?

A few other random tidbits:
  • My friend colored my hair so I  now have mermaid hair but no pictures to share
  • Another friend is moving into the apartment upstairs from my office this week
  • There are currently 18 zillion sweet holiday treats at my house that need to be gone before the new year
  • The Mister and I both received a lot of Duluth Trading Company clothing for Christmas. You just can't beat their flannels shirts this time of year.

I fully intend to take this weekend to relax and design some new systems for 2017; I will be back to regular blogging starting Monday.

What are your New Year's weekend plans?

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Friday, December 2

Good morning, lovelies!

It's time for the Friday Confessional party. Confession is good for the soul, so stop by to share all your dirty, little secrets. You'll feel better when you're finished, and we promise not to judge.

I confess...

I do not know how we're in the month of December already. I really need a remote control to pause time for about three business days because I feel that behind. I always get busy in November and December at work, but this year is ridiculous.

What's crazy is that I found myself closing out not just November but also October yesterday because I never had time to reconcile October last month. I also discovered I didn't find time to actually write myself a paycheck nearly all month long.

It's good to be busy when you work for yourself, but I think I need a day off.

I confess...

That being this busy also means that my  household suffers. Upon balancing the checkbook, I found that I went grocery shopping all of once last wonder I said in my Financial Peace update that we blew our restaurant budget.

And the laundry mountain has become intimidating. It would be nice to have a butler or Rosie from the Jetsons. In the meantime, I will attempt to get caught up this weekend and at least make sure that we have food to eat.

I confess...

It seems too early to be attending Christmas parties yet. Wasn't Thanksgiving just last week? Our first party of the season is Sunday evening.

I confess...

I'm really bummed that there isn't money or time in the schedule to fly out west and see my family for Christmas. I know that living across the country from my parents means we won't see each other every year for the holidays, but I'm still a little bummed that I don't have the option to see them.

Want to play along? Grab the button and link your Friday Confessional below. Please comment after linking.

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