Why We Make Time to Really Talk About Our Finances

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This post is part of the How We Saved This Week weekly feature.

My husband and I talk about pretty much everything. That’s one thing that we established well before going into marriage (we met when we were 9 and 10 and were good friends for years before we actually were in a serious relationship) and it’s the “glue” that holds our marriage together.

Since I’m a verbal processor and Jesse’s highest receiving love language (meaning: how he feels loved) is quality time, we spend a LOT of time talking. In fact, our friends tease us about how much we talk together because it’s rare that something happens that we don’t talk about it. :)

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There’s No “Mine” or “Yours”

I truly believe that one reason we’ve been able to make a lot of financial traction in recent years is because we’ve really become a strong team when it comes to finances. We’ve set aside the whole “his money, her money” fights and made it all “our money”. We don’t talk about “your earnings vs. my earnings”; it’s all “our earnings”.

We don’t have separate bank accounts. We don’t make big financial purchases without consulting each other. We don’t give to a cause or need or person without both agreeing to it. And we don’t move forward with any long-term financial plan without both of us being on the same page about it.

Yes, We’ve Had to Learn to Compromise

We’ve had a lot of intense discussions about finances over the years, and while it sometimes takes a lot of talking and time and discussion, we’ve found ways to compromise so that we’re both feeling “heard” when it comes to our budget. (Such as having a blow category in our budget so that Jesse can have some wiggle room to enjoy spending money! Or cutting back in some areas so that my frugal self doesn’t feel like we’re wasting money.)

Over the years, the practice of making unity a priority when it comes to finances has paid off well. We have a lot less friction, we’ve grown in our communication skills, and we’ve learned a lot about the needs and fears we both have.

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Thinking Long-Term About Property Investments

This past week, we sat down and talked about our long-term financial goals — especially when it comes to rental property investments. This is an area that we were just experimenting with for a year or two, not sure how it would work out. Well, it’s worked out really, really well.

Jesse has loved the process of researching areas to buy rental properties in, he’s loved reading and listening to books and podcasts on how to have a successful rental management business, he’s loved working with the rental management company we hired to manage our two houses in Kansas, and his enthusiasm for this whole idea has only been strengthened from a few years of doing it.

And not only that, but the cash flow from our rental properties has turned out to be a good income source, even after deducting all the expenses involved (such as taxes, rental management company percentages, maintenance, and repairs).

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How We Saved This Week

We sat down and talked about all of that this week. We spent some time dreaming about the future and then talking realistically about where we want to be in 5 to 10 years. We talked about pros and cons to single family houses versus multi-family residences, where we wanted to purchase rentals in the future (Kansas, Tennessee, or somewhere entirely differently), and we talked about what was doable with what we’re able to save each month + the rental income we’re earning.

We set some short-term and long-term goals, we discussed a couple of big dreams, and we mapped out a game plan for the next few years. While I can’t tell you a dollar amount we saved (or earned) by having this discussion, I truly believe that taking the time to talk about these things in-depth will end up paying off in significant dividends and savings in the months and years to come.

What are some ways that YOU saved this week?

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HUGE List of FREE Homeschool Curriculum & Resources

Free Homeschool Curriculum and Resources

This is the weekly list of Free Homeschool Curriculum and Resources compiled by Jamerrill from FreeHomeschoolDeals.com. If you aren’t a homeschooler, but you’re a parent, teacher, babysitter, or nanny, you’ll probably find at least a few useful freebies in this list. You may also want to go through the Educational Deals and Freebies from earlier this week for more.

We have some some fun winter, Valentine’s, and President’s Day themed learning resources this week!

Homeschool Freebies!

Don’t miss the TOP 50 Homeschool Freebies of the Past Month for January 2015 Edition!

Holiday Learning

Groundhog Day is on February 2. Here are Free Groundhog Sizing Mat Printables, a FREE Groundhog Day Pack, and a FREE Groundhogs Day PreK-K Pack so everyone in the family can learn.

Love is in the air so why not in school, too? Try one of these fabulous Valentines Day teaching resources:

Study the presidents with FREE Presidential Printables, and use these FREE Presidents Day Coloring Pages for the little ones.

capIt’s not a holiday, but here are Free February Learning Printables with Interactive Notebook. This pack has a lot of additional printable notebook pages and activities, so it can easily fill up the whole month with some great school work.

Reading

Does your child love Frozen? Use this FREE Snow Queen Unit Study (subscriber freebie) to compare the original book to the Disney movie.

Here are FREE Phonics Books (set 9) that can be used to teach young readers phonics and reading skills.

PreK and Kindregarten

Keep track of all those wonderful things you are teaching your kindergartner with this FREE Kindergarten Daily Learning Notebook.

This FREE Kindergarten Math Pack includes addition, counting, spacial recognition, and more!

Have fun teaching your child color words with these FREE Color Word Play Dough Mats.

Science

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Subscribe to Blue Manor Education and receive this FREE Biology Book (subscriber freebie).

Are you confused about how to choose a science curriculum? Here is a FREE eBook: How to Choose the Right Science Curriculum for Your Kids to clear things up!

Music and Art

How catchy is that Pink panther music? Now you can learn all about it with this FREE Squilt Pink Panther Music Lesson.

Study the Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Artists with a FREE Exploring Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Artists Pack.

Language Arts

These fun FREE NUMBER WRITING PAGES (Instant Download) are a Free Homeschool Deals exclusive and are the perfect resource to teach color words.

Teach the story of Creation while practicing writing with these FREE Creation Story Copywork and Printables.

Flex your child’s editing skills with this Free Editing Practice Printable.

History and Geography

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Study the states and capitals with these FREE States and Capitals Worksheets and this Free Me on the Map Printables – USA Edition.

Math

Have fun learning your way around numbers with this FREE Exploring Greater than, Less than, and Equal Numbers Activity and Printables.

This FREE Snow Themed Math Pack includes multiplication, division, odds and evens, addition, subtraction, and a whole lot more!

Here are FREE 24 Math Addition Flash Cards to practice those skills.

Make the best of those winter days with FREE Winter Themed Counting Mats and Free Snow Themed Printables.

Random Homeschool Goodness

If you want to make learning even more fun for your kids, try this Free How Children Learn with Board Games eBook!

Maybe you have been wondering: What is your best homeschooling advice for new homeschoolers?

This 50+ page FREE Angel Learning Resource Pack includes both math and language arts resources.

Click here thousands of homeschool freebies!

*Don’t forget! If you are looking for additional free homeschool resources please check the huge growing list of free homeschool curriculum and resources on MoneySavingMom.com!

Jamerrill is the homeschooling mother of a large and growing family. After seasons of spending $50 or less annually to homeschool her children, she started Free Homeschool Deals in 2012 to help all families afford the homeschool life. You can follow the homeschool goodness on Pinterest and Facebook.

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10 Goals For This Week (& I think I’m *finally* getting over jet lag!)

10 Goals

Whew! I had no idea that jet lag would hit me like it did when I got home. I have slept so, so much since I got back from South Africa!

I’m usually someone who can push through, if need be, when I’m tired. But jet lag has been a powerful force to be reckoned with! The first few days, I slept much more than I was awake. And now I’m finding that I can usually barely keep my eyes open after 7:30 p.m. at night!

The last few nights, as I’ve started dozing off so early, Silas will come up and shake me and say, “Mom, please don’t go to sleep again!”

Jesse and the kids have been incredibly kind to let me catch up on rest and they’ve done most of the cleaning, cooking, and laundry while I’ve been mostly a walking zombie. :)

Gratefully, the 8-hour time difference in South Africa has worked some in my favor because my body has adjusted to going to bed really early (7:30 to 8:30 p.m.) and getting up really early (I’m waking up — without an alarm clock! — at 2:30 to 3:30 a.m.) I had hoped to get back on a good early to bed/early to rise schedule in 2015 and this sure kick-started that habit!!

After taking the last five days mostly “off” from my normal responsibilities, I’m feeling mostly all rested and energetic and ready to jump back into the swing of things around here.

My goals for this week:

Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals

1. Continue on with our Morning Time routine. Read aloud for at least 20 minutes every day.

2. Write a love note to Jesse.

3. Finally get our Christmas thank you’s mailed (can I plead the fact that I was in South Africa for the lateness of these??)

4. Clean out the refrigerator. Get caught back up on laundry.

5. Take Kathrynne on a special one-on-one outing for her birthday.

Personal Goals

6. Exercise at least 4 times (I’m trying out these BeFit in 30 workouts + doing a little jogging/running.)

7. Finish at least two books.

8. Knit a Cosy Posy Ear Warmer.

9. Try two new Trim Healthy Mama recipes: Sugar Free Hot Chocolate Mousse and Fancy Grilled Cheese on Coconut Flatbread.

Business Goals

10. Finish my first round of book edits.

How did you do on last week’s goals? What are your goals for this week? I’d love to have you share your progress on last week’s goals and your goals for this coming week in the comments. Of, if you’ve blogged about it, leave your direct link below. Let’s cheer each other on to live purposeful and productive lives! You can download a free customizable weekly goal-planning sheet here.


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20 Ways to Raise a Baby on a Budget

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Guest post by Sarah of Saving Money Never Goes Out of Style

When most parents find out they are expecting, they are so excited; but after that, comes the panic.

You wonder how you will be able to afford a baby, with all that he or she needs, and not go bankrupt doing so. The good news is that you can rest easy.

As a now-single SAHM, it’s important for me to raise my kids on a budget. Thankfully, there are many ways to achieve this. Here are 20 ideas:

20 Ways to Raise a Baby on a Budget

1. Breastfeed if you can. Formula is extremely expensive, and while there are programs out there to help you pay for it and coupons galore, breastfeeding is the cheapest option for most people.

2. Borrow a breast-pump. If you choose to breast feed, the pump can often cost more than you can afford. Look for programs in your area that allow you to borrow them.

3. Make your own wipes. Baby wipes can add up and making your own just takes a few minutes.

4. Use cloth diapers. The initial investment may seem steep, but the savings will add up very quickly. {For some creative ways to save money on cloth diapers, check out this post on How to Cloth Diaper for Practically Free.}

5. Make your own baby food. It’s better for baby, anyway, and it’s so simple.

6. Trade babysitting time. Instead of pay for a sitter, trade babysitting time with other parents.

7. Buy used clothing. Babies grow so fast in the first year or two that it makes more sense to do so. Also, skip shoes. They don’t need them until they walk, anyway!

8. Keep baby in a bassinet with you the first few months. This will give you time to save for setting up a nursery!

9. Create your nursery with a budget in mind. Don’t spend too much on building your own nursery. You can find many things gently used in this area as well.

10. Ask for freebies. Companies love to give new parents freebies. Just do a quick hunt online and don’t forget to also ask your child’s pediatrician for some, too.

11. Buy items that convert. There are many things (from beds to car seats) that convert as the child grows. They may seem costly at first, but they save you money down the road when it comes time to replace things.

12. Use coupons. Diapers, formula, wipes, and even baby furniture can be bought with coupons, Just sign up on the manufacturer’s websites and they will usually flood you with them.

13. Keep your baby’s products simple. Babies have sensitive skin, it’s true. However, you don’t need to spend all your money on special baby products when you can use simple, natural things like coconut oil, Aloe Vera, unscented lotions, and so on.

14. Have a friend be your photographer. Many new parents spend so much money on baby pictures and newborn photos. You can take some lovely ones right at home with just a little practice and some good lighting. If you do go pro, sign up for newsletters to places like Sears and JcPenney’s as they have a lot of promotions that cost as little as $10 in and out the door.

15. Make your own baby-wearing wrap. This can often be done even if you don’t know how to sew. Baby wraps can by costly, but making your own doesn’t have to be.

16. Change your mind. The culture we have here is very consumer driven. One of the biggest targets is new moms and dads. Be aware of this and you may find that you spend less.

17. If you need new, shop at discount stores. Places like Burlington Coat Factory, TJ Maxx, or Tuesday Morning offer an entire section that is devoted to department store baby products. These items are 20-60% off the prices at other stores.

18. Skip bibs. Instead buy shirts that are too big for your child. They can be washed easier and they grow into them for messy toddler play later.

19. Borrow things you don’t need for long. If the item is something you only need for a couple of months, such as a baby bath, neck rest for the car seat or Moses basket, see if you know anyone you can borrow it from.

20. Get creative. Sometimes, we can avoid buying something if we get creative. Just think of things you have around the house and see if they will double for what you need them for. {Note from Crystal: Here is my list of the only 6 things I think you truly need for your baby.}

Raising a baby does not have to put you into dire straits. With a little creative thinking, you can save a lot of money!

What ideas would you add to this list? Do you agree with everything on this list?

Sarah is a stay-at-home mom of two wonderful children with a mission to prove that you don’t have to have a lot of money to live a quality life. Sarah loves encouraging others through her blog: Saving Money Never Goes Out of Style.

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