No, I Don’t Think Credit Cards Are Evil

No, I Don't Think Credit Cards Are Evil

My interview with John Stossel aired on Fox Business and in that interview, I shared how I have lived for 33 years without a credit card.

Most people don’t believe that this is possible. But it’s true.

I’ve never had a credit card and I’ve never had debt. Yes, for real.

My grandpa raised my dad to never go into debt for anything but a mortgage. My dad not only embraced this belief, but then he took it further. When I was a young girl, my parents paid off their mortgage and began saving everything they possibly could in order to buy land and build a house in the country.

After a few years of scrimping and saving, they sold our house, we moved to an old trailer out on land they had bought, and my dad was the General Contractor for our debt-free house-building project.

Seeing the sacrifices that my parents made and seeing the freedom that being debt-free gave them and the stress it relieved from their lives inspired me to commit to never go into debt.

My husband and I went into marriage with an audacious goal for him to go through law school debt-free. This was a much harder to actually follow through with than we could have imagined, but our firm commitment to a debt-free lifestyle inspired us to make many short-term sacrifices in order to achieve long-term benefits.

After law school, we decided to continue our commitment to living debt-free and we set another big goal: to pay cash for our first house. We knew that if we continued to live very simply and save as much as we possibly could, this goal could be a reality in the next 5 years (it helped that we lived in Kansas at the time, where housing prices are very reasonable).

Hitting that goal in less than three years was almost 100% thanks to the huge increase in income we saw from this blog. However, we both feel like had we not set the goal in the first place and had we not been so committed to a debt-free lifestyle, we would never have been so inspired to work very hard at growing this online business nor as motivated to think outside the box and look for passive income streams.

No, I Don't Think Credit Cards Are Evil

We look back at the last 12 years of our married life and have zero regrets that we’ve chosen to live debt-free. It’s allowed us much more flexibility to make business changes and life changes — like our big move to Nashville last year. It’s also allowed us to be able to continue to live simply so that we can invest our money in priorities that matter to us as well as be in a position to give generously.

I prefer to use cash and rarely swipe a debit card for anything — except for online business purchases, gas purchases, and travel expenses.

Some people think that I’m dumb for choosing this lifestyle. I’ve been called names. I’ve been told I was crazy. I’ve been reprimanded over and over again for missing out on so many credit card rewards.

And here’s the thing: I own that I’m weird. I own that the choices I’ve made personally and the choices our family has made are not for everyone.

But I hope that our story challenges you to think outside the box. I want to inspire people to not just fall in line with whatever everyone else does or feel like debt has to be a normal part of everyone’s everyday existence. Because it doesn’t have to be.

No, I Don't Think Credit Cards Are Evil

You don’t need to do what we’ve done. You may choose to use a credit card or get a mortgage. You might have found a way to meticulously track your credit card expenditures so that you are actually spending less and earn big rewards that you use to further lower your costs.

You might find that you have more self-discipline when you swipe a card than when you carry around cash. Instead of using cash, you might choose to track your spending through an app like Mint.com, EveryDollar.com, or YouNeedaBudget.com.

I’m a big advocate of doing what works for you. And if you’re responsible with your spending and you have found a system that works for your family and keeps you organized and (mostly!) stress-free, than I say to stick with it.

But if you are struggling financially and you are feeling discouraged and disorganized when it comes to finances, I encourage you to not just keep doing whatever it is that you’re currently doing. If you want to see change in your life and finances, you have to do something different than what you’re currently doing.

If you’re new here, I’d love to for you to sign up for our daily email newsletter here where I share money-saving advice, tips, tricks, and great deals. In addition, if you’re looking for practical ways to save more money, check out my series on 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year.

My passion is to challenge people to live with intention in all areas of your life and finances. You aren’t stuck, unless you choose to be. So begin today to make wise financial choices. Be willing to make those short-term sacrifices. Be okay with going against the grain — even if others think you’re weird.

Your hard work and effort and sacrifices will pay off. And I’ll be here cheering you all the way!

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“You are such a FUN person to wake up to every day!”

Make Over Your Mornings

Instagram photo from raeschaffer

Thank you all so much for your sweet, kind, and encouraging comments as you’re going through the Make Over Your Mornings course! You all bless me so much!

I spent Wednesday catching up on sleep and life after a few days (and parts of nights!) devoted to the launch. And then the last two days, Silas and I traveled to San Francisco for some business meetings with the wonderful folks from ePantry.com. I’ll share more about that trip in my 5 Things I’m Loving post tonight.

Thank you for letting me step back from the usual blogging schedule here this week to focus on the launch. I’m excited to dive back into regular blogging and our normal routine now that this big project is completed. My head is exploding with creative new ideas for future projects and upcoming posts. :)

Make Over Your Mornings

Instagram photo from Amy_Grable

I’ve had so much fun following along with your posts on Instagram, on Twitter, and on the Facebook Group. I’ve also been so encouraged by your emails of gratitude. Cheryl gave me permission to share this email she sent me:

Crystal, I am LOVING the Make Over Your Mornings course. You are such a fun person to wake up to every day! :) Wish you could just give me a pep talk every morning as I start my day!

Seriously, some of the highlights for me thus far (I’m on Day 3) have been:

Being personally encouraged to realize that I’ve heard you say some of these things over the years that I’ve followed you, and I’ve ACTUALLY IMPLEMENTED SOME! YAY! I sat down to write out an evening routine, and realized we have a great one! Of course there are ways we can improve it (ahem – can you say “cut down on screen time”) but we have a good framework.

Seeing you have your quiet time in PJs (or comfy clothes, if they’re not actually your PJs). Can I just say this is such a relief? I’ve read so many things about successful mornings that strongly suggest getting dressed immediately upon getting out of bed in order to feel ready for success. Honestly, I love drinking my coffee and having my quiet time in my yoga pants. So thanks for keeping it real.

Giving such practical, yet flexible, advice. I love how the ideas you share are applicable to so many life situations. I’m a WAHM (virtual office manager) with a preschooler and a toddler. I am trying to apply some of these same tips to afternoon nap time as well. If I don’t go into nap time with a good plan, I end up wasting the time that could have been so productive. With a great morning plan and a great nap plan, I am working towards reducing work-related stress during the other times of the day when my girls need more of my attention.

I could go on, but just know that you are blessing us in such a huge way! Thank you SO much! Can’t wait to see what is to come! -Cheryl

Make Over Your Mornings

Instagram photo from Brigett.Holmes

Have you gotten your copy of Make Over Your Mornings yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Go download it here. {And yes, those are actually what I wear for my PJs in the videos!}

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Why We’re Ditching Mainstream for an Airstream

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Heather from Queen Bee Coupons shared a post today on why they are ditching mainstream for an Airstream. I think some of you will really enjoy reading it. Here’s a snippet:

In just a couple week my family and I will say goodbye to our traditional home and move into a 180-ish square foot Airstream trailer. Not just for a weekend camping trip – but for a year. And we’ll take that shiny, tiny home all around this beautiful country.

That’s right. We’re ditching mainstream. . .for an adventure in an Airstream.

I know this sounds crazy. Let me explain. . . .

We’ve spent the last 12 years pursuing the American Dream – a 2,000 square foot house, two cars, two full-time jobs, a couple vacations a year, kids in public school and preschool – we worked extremely hard and were very happy, grateful and blessed.

Life was good but we wanted something else. Something different.

We were sick of the stuff, the excess, the clutter. A life dictated by a 9-5 job. A rat race that had us thinking if only we had a bigger house, more storage, more money – things would be easier and/or we would be happier.

We spent the last year talking about buying a new house or moving to a new part of the country. We spent a year looking at big, beautiful houses – dream houses, really, but nothing felt just right. Even if we could afford it, we kept asking ourselves – will that gourmet kitchen really make us happy? Will that waterfront property really bring us joy? Maybe. But for how long? And how hard will we have to keep working to keep up with that dream house?

Read the rest of the post here.

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The Ten-Item Wardrobe

You need to go watch this short Tedx Talk on the 10-Item Wardrobe. It’s really inspiring and motivating — and just might challenge you to re-think your wardrobe and how many clothes you own.

As you probably well know, I’m a big fan of the minimalist wardrobe. Not only does it simplify my life, it requires less space, it makes packing for travel so simple, and it also saves money since you are shopping much less often, only owning things you love, and wearing the same things over and over again.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that I think it makes me more relaxed and able to just focus on people in a situation versus worrying about my clothes since I’m wearing something I love, look good in, and (usually) have worn many times before.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the video. Did you agree with the idea? Did you think it was crazy? Did it make you think of your wardrobe in a different light?

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5 Simple Ways to Cut Down on Toy Clutter

5 Ways to Cut Down on Toy Clutter

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post sharing 5 Reasons I’m Glad We Don’t Have Many Toys. So many of you commented and said you’d love to cut down on toys but you don’t know where to start or how it’s really feasible when you constantly have friends and relatives giving you new toys.

If you’re feeling like you wish you could have fewer toys, but you just don’t know how to pull that off — especially thanks to generous grandparents! — here are some suggestions:

1.  Set Boundaries

I’m a big believer in having a home for everything in your home. Meaning, everything has a place for it to reside — be a drawer, a cupboard, a basket, a tub, or a box. Not only does this help your house stay cleaner and more organized, it also allows you to place limits on what you have.

For instance, when we lived in a little basement apartment, we had almost zero room for toys, but I designated one of the end tables that had a cupboard door on it as the place where we kept Kathrynne’s toys. If it didn’t fit in there, we couldn’t keep it — otherwise we’d be stepping on or over it all day long!

Nowadays, we have a tub for LEGOs, a barrel in the garage for outdoor toys (balls, bats, etc.), a shelf in a closet where we keep games, and a few baskets in the kid’s closet for misc. toys (walkie-talkies, stuffed animals, etc.)

Need help getting started designating a place for your toys? Check out Five Steps for a Pared Down Playroom.

5 Practical Ways to Cut Down on Toy Clutter

If you have more than one child, you could consider having assigned areas for each individual child’s toys and then a place for toys that everyone shares. You might consider having a tub or shelf labeled with each child’s name. Our rule at our house is that when the shelf or tub is full, you can’t get any new toys until you get rid of some that you already have.

Since my kids are really, really into LEGOs, we’ve had to put some measures in place to help them not take over a room or area of our house. The kids know they are expected to have them all picked up once per day when they clean up their room (where the LEGOs usually are).

If they bring the LEGOs into other parts of the house and don’t pick them up when they are done or if they leave them lying out in their room after they’ve been told to pick them up, the LEGOs are put up for 4-6 weeks — which is a pretty huge punishment for our LEGO-lovers. It’s happened a few times and it’s been enough to convince them to be very responsible in keeping them put away when they aren’t in use.

5 Practical Ways to Cut Down on Toy Clutter

2. Only Keep What You Love

We love quality, versatile toys in our home: things like LEGOs, art supplies, craft supplies, outdoor toys, and educational toys. We try to have toys that encourage creativity rather than solely entertain.

And here’s the thing we’ve discovered: our kids would much rather play with cardboard boxes or build tents with old sheets, folding chairs and couch pillows than have the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. The few bells-and-whistle toys we’ve had in the last couple of years served to entertain for a short while and then were abandoned for LEGOs, puzzles, and creative play.

5 Practical Ways to Cut Down on Toy Clutter

We try to go through our house very regularly and get rid of things we no longer love, use, or need. There’s no point in keeping something around if no one likes it or uses it on a regular basis. Is it sitting around untouched for weeks on end? Is it broken? Does it have parts which can’t be replaced? Get rid of it!

If you have toys that are in good condition that you no longer use or love, donate them to a daycare or children’s home, sell them in a garage sale or consignment sale, drop them off at Goodwill, sell them on a Facebook Yard Sale Groups or Craigslist, or even have a Toy Swap Party.

Here’s a creative idea from The Bargain Shopper Lady:

My boys started a “friend toy swap” which is their idea of giving to their friends. Anytime they have a friend over to play, they let their friend choose one toy to take home. I approve all toys before the friend leaves just in case they are trying to give something away, such as “their brother’s favorite toy” or something that they just got and is still pretty new.

This method is great for us! We have friends over often and it really helps with the clutter! My children are also learning that they really enjoy giving toys they don’t play with as often to their friends!

3. Ask For Consumable Gifts

One of the biggest reasons parents have told me that they can’t cut down on toy clutter is because of their well-meaning and generous relatives and grandparents who are constantly gifting various things to their kids.

First off, if this is the case for you, I just want to encourage you to remember that this is a blessing that you have grandparents who want to give to and bless their grandchildren. Not all families have this. So be grateful for it instead of resenting it.

Always remember that the relatives are likely buying things for your children because they love them. In almost every case, they aren’t purposefully seeking to annoy or irritate you.

My Completely Honest Review of Kiwi Crate

That said, I encourage you to graciously and lovingly communicate your preferences to your relatives. Perhaps they don’t know you are short on space or really would love it if they spent less money. Maybe they feel obligated for some reason. Whatever it is, come up with a plan to talk about the issues in a calm and loving manner.

However, don’t just go to Grandma and say, “Sorry, we don’t have room for your toys. Please don’t ever buy another toy again.” Give your relatives some options.

Here are some consumable/no-clutter gift ideas you could suggest:

  • Bubble bath, crayons, & sidewalk chalk
  • A special outing with the grandparents
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Subscription to craft kit boxes — like Doodle Crate, Kiwi Crate, and Tinker Crate — our kids got these for Christmas/their birthdays and love, love, loved them!
  • Subscriptions to LEGO’s Pley membership — Kathrynne got this for her birthday and has loved it!
  • Craft supplies
  • Crayons, paper, coloring books, and other craft supplies
  • Gift cards for restaurants/treats
  • Memberships to Local Attractions

Check out the comments on this post here for many, many more ideas.

You could also ask for clothes, books, educational toys, outdoor toys, LEGOs, gift cards, or even for them to donate money to your child’s college fund!

At the end of the day, though, be sure you don’t deprive the grandparents of getting the joy that comes from giving. Just as you would like to see change on their part, be willing to meet them halfway–or more! It might never be perfect or ideal, by openly communicating in a loving manner and presenting some options and being willing to listen and show appreciation to them, you just might be able to come to a happy medium.

5 Ways to Cut Down on Toy Clutter

4. Rotate Toy Collections

If you feel like you have too many toys, but you don’t want to part with what you have, consider a rotational toy system. Put away half the toys for a month. After a month, put away the toys you currently have and get out the toys which were put away. You could even do this on a quarterly basis.

This method can help you to see what toys your children really like and use. It also might help encourage more contentment with you already have since your children will probably feel like they are getting “new” toys quite often — when really it’s just the same old toys they’ve always had being presented in a new way!

Day of the Week Tubs{See Stephanie’s Day of the Week Tub System here.}

One toy rotation system we’ve used in our home when our kids were little was the Day of the Week Tub System. This idea has so many variations, but the basic gist is to divide most of the toys in your home into seven groups and put them in seven different tubs labeled with the days of the week.

Your children can then play with the appropriate tub each day. It keeps things rotated and fresh, while creating less mess.

5. Don’t Shop for Toys at Garage Sales or Dollar Store

I know, I know! There are so many supposedly “good deals” to be found at garage sales and dollar stores when it comes to kid’s toys. But like I often say, if you don’t need it and it’s just going to be cluttering up your home, it’s not a good deal for you — no matter how inexpensive the price is.

So unless it’s something you really need, it’s consumable, or you’re planning to get rid of it after they play with it for a few weeks, just don’t buy it. Because there’s no point it filling up your house with stuff that you then have to pick up, clean up, care for, organize, and (maybe even) get frustrated by!

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What ideas and suggestions would you add to my list? How do YOU cut down on toy clutter at your house?

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