No Spending Weekend Challenge

Have you ever challenged your spouse and yourself to a “No Spending” weekend? My husband Donny and I do this several times a year just to keep ourselves in check on spending and unnecessary purchases. Would you be willing to participate in a “No Spending” weekend?

The rules or boundaries we set up start at midnight on Friday and go until midnight Sunday. This means no spending on unnecessary purchases such as trips to the grocery store, eating out, and online purchases. If we do a “No Spending” weekend, I will usually go grocery shopping on Friday night and purchase all the food we need to cook at home all weekend. I’ll also go and fill the Tundra up with gas and get the cash we need for weekly church donations.

The first time I participated in this event, it was extremely hard because there are so many temptations out there such as online shopping, drive-thru eating or stopping at Walmart. What affected us most was eating out. Weekends were the time we were lazier and it was quicker just to go to a drive-thru or go pick up take-out food for dinner. “No Spending” weekend requires a plan and discipline.

There are always exceptions to the rules such as medical emergencies, “Murphy” visits such as flat tires or car issues, and family emergencies.

Who wants to participate with Donny and I and partake in a “No Spending” weekend? Post in the comments if you want to participate. Please subscribe to our email and I will send you a helpful “No Spending” weekend cheat sheet to provide encouragement and success.

At the end of the weekend, take the time to reflect on what you did to not make any purchases and which purchases you postponed. If it was a significant amount of money, take the money and put in savings.

After my weekends, I would save anywhere from $150 to $250. Do this once a quarter and you can save up to $1,000. This money could be your emergency fund, a weekend family getaway, Christmas gift fund, or a donation to charity.

What do you have to lose? Join me and let’s do a “No Spending” weekend for October 15th and 16th! Take action and come back to www.livingandlovingourlives.com and tell me how it went with your successes and weaknesses.

 

LLOL,

Patricia

 

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Preparing for Atlantic Hurricane Season

The Atlantic Hurricane season started on June 1st and does not end until November 30th. If you live in the coastal area along the Atlantic coast it is a good idea to make preparations for the tropical season.

Have you completed your preparations and have supplies on hand for 3-5 days after the storm passes your area? Do you have evacuation plans and know your routes to leave if hurricane gains strength and puts you in harm’s way? Do you have means to protect your home and property from winds, flooding rains and storm surge? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself and answer to be fully prepared for the 2016 season.

There are numerous sources on the internet that can help you with making preparations that are best for your family. A good resource is www.redcross.com that I use for a checklist on things to do. Beginning in June I begin purchasing batteries for flashlights and lanterns to use during power outages from hurricane force winds that knock out electricity. Next on my list is keeping a stockpile of bottled water. Normally I will purchase 4-6 cases of water and when a storm is forecasted to impact our area I want to have at least 10-12 cases of water on hand to drink and use. Make sure you have enough can goods on hand including canned meat to prepare after the storm and you have no electricity. I buy canned ham and peanut butter and jelly are other staples that we keep on hand in our hurricane supplies.

I purchase extra toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags and cleaning supplies to use for clean-up after the storm. I keep non-perishable snacks on hand too. My husband is a generator mechanic and he usually is called out to work before the storm passes and works long hours until all power is restored to the area so I have snacks on hand for him to take with him to eat while he is working.

Extra extension cords, tape, and gas with gas cans are important if you will be running a generator after the storm. Please follow all safety rules when storing gas to use. I cannot stress this enough. If you have a Yeti-type cooler, purchase ice and keep it on-hand for longer than a normal cooler. This is important if it gets hot after the storm and there is a lot of clean up to do. Nothing like having a cold bottle of water to stay cool and quench the thirst.

Personally, I will tell you that preparation before the season gets active is imperative.  Nine years ago we were hit by Hurricane Ike. Donny, Chasity and I were without power for 17 days. We learned to cook a lot of food using a charcoal grill and ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had purchased my supplies early that year to be ready for the season but still purchased more supplies when Hurricane Ike was in our direct path. We survived on a small generator that kept the freezer and refrigerator running during the day and at night ran the window unit a/c.

If you can’t purchase your supplies early in the season, at least make a list of what you need and purchase when the storm is forecasted to impact your area. Do not rely on anyone to come and help you. Make plans to take care of your family and you for at least 3-5 days. This will allow officials to access the damage and begin making repairs. Also, as during Hurricane Ike, there were pods opened up for folks to get water, ice and MRE’s. Sometimes the wait in lines for these supplies was hours long.  Be prepared and make sure to take care of the elderly and your pets.

Here is a list of websites for tropical weather preparedness.

https://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/plan/

https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes

http://www.tdi.texas.gov/pubs/consumer/cb086.pdf

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness

 

LLOL,

Patricia

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though it’s waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (Psalm 46:1-3)

 

 

Best Five Laundry Tips

What is the one chore that all of us do that just never seems to get completed? For me, it is doing laundry. I will do one load every day just to keep dirty clothes getting out of hand. Laundry is a three step process for me which includes gathering and sorting, washing and drying and finally folding and putting away. Sometimes the last step does not get completed and clothes are worn straight from the laundry basket. Does this happen at your house?

The following is my list of my 5 best laundry tips that I use to see my laundry basket empty and all clothes cleaned and put away.

1. Every day I pick up all dirty clothes throughout the house and put in a laundry basket together. This will keep things looking less cluttered and more organized. My laundry consists of all the clothes just what my husband Donny and I wear, but add workout clothes and my husband’s work clothes, it can get overwhelming at times for me. My husband has a habit of leaving his clothes where he takes them off so I just make it a point a gathering all the clothes every evening.

2. Sorting laundry, yes this is still a necessity and needs to be done to ensure that clothes are properly washed and not accidently damaged. I separate light colors and dark colors with our clothing. I separate out Donny’s work clothes because he is a generator mechanic and his clothes are always dirty with grease, grime, and diesel. Last but not least is bath towels, wash clothes and kitchen towels. These are washed together because all my towels are dark colors and I have no white towels.

3. Laundry detergent and stain remover, these items are very important to ensure clothes are clean and stay clean. Take the time to pre-treat stains and use extra detergent for heavy soiled items. I use less detergent for dress clothes. I have used homemade laundry detergent and purchased detergent, I have front loader machines so lately I have been using purchased detergent for washing. I have found that some detergents are very strong and have cause my skin to become irritated. Here is my personal laundry detergent recipe.

Patricia’s Laundry Detergent recipe   

1 Fel-Naptha soap bar – grated

1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (yellow box) – not baking soda or detergent

4 cups of warm to hot tap water

½ cup of Borax

½ cup Blue Dawn Dishwashing soap

2-3 drops of lavender essential oil (optional)

As stated above, grate the bar of Fels-Naptha soap or Ivory soap. Place grated soap with water in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Stirring constantly until it is dissolved. Take a 5-gallon plastic bucket that is clean and fill with 2 ½ gallons of hot tap water.   Add melted soap, washing soda, borax, Dawn dishwashing soap and essential oils. Mix well with a wooden rod for at least 50 stirs. Then cover laundry detergent and let sit overnight.   In the morning you will get a liquefied detergent. I use ¼ to ½ cup in a load of laundry.

4. My next tip is an important one and it is removing the clothes from the washer when the cycles have completed immediately and put in the dryer or hang outside. If you don’t, your clothes will become stagnant in the washer and start having an odor. I have had to wash the same load several times when I leave them overnight or even all day. The extra cost of laundry detergent, water and electricity are not financially sound. The best thing is to set your complete chime as loud and long as you can to notify you the washer is finished. Also, keep a mental note of when the timer will go off and check. Put clothes in dryer immediately.

5. This is the most difficult tip for me to achieve but I have been working on this in 2016 and have been successful at it. That goal is folding and putting away all the laundry as soon as it is finished drying in the dryer. I have a small table in my utility room with a small hanging rack where I fold my clothes and separate to be either put in drawers or hung up in the closet. I keep extra hangers so I can immediately do this step. Once all laundry is folded, I take to the appropriate room and put away.

RealityHanging folded

 

 

 

 

After completing these five steps I have the satisfaction of knowing my laundry is all completed and all our clothes are clean and put away.

What is your process for handling laundry? Please share your tips in our comment section.

LLOL,
Patricia

Psalm 51:7

7 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.

Running for Cardio Workout

While on vacation several weeks ago, I enjoyed a relaxing time at Galveston beach. Great times with my husband and friends Kathryn and Roger. We rented a two‑story house which was on stilts, therefore we were walking up three flights of stairs every time we went outside. This is leading up to my realization that you have to do cardio daily to obtain weight loss.

During the five days we were at the house, I walked up and down those stairs at least 5–10 times a day. The first two days, I was so sore and exhausted. But by the time we left, I was speeding up and down the stairs and feeling stronger. I know my trainer, Chase, will be glad that I am finally getting that if I want to lose weight, I need to do three or more days of cardio for at least 30 to 45 minutes, along with working out twice a week with him lifting weights and doing some cardio.

Running on the treadmill at the gym
Running on the treadmill at the gym

My husband Donny and I have decided we want to start running, which is the best cardio I can think of when you do it on a daily basis. We are both beginners in the running department and want to start off slow and easy to build up our strength and endurance. We live just down the street from a racetrack that has a large parking lot we’ll use to walk and start our running program. Starting on Monday, we will be doing 1 minute of walking and 30 seconds of slow jogging for 1.10 miles, which is one lap around the racetrack. Each week, we will add more running and less walking and we hope by the end of November, we will be able to do 3.30 miles in a reasonable time. Our goal is to participate in a local 5K event and run, jog, and walk the event.

Our trainer is working with us to strengthen our leg muscles to enable us to be better runners in the long-term. I will be periodically updating here on the blog our successes and failures in running to add more cardio to our exercise program and assist us with achieving our weight‑loss goals.

Running is one of those things either you like it or you don’t. I don’t mind running but my trainer is helping me strengthen my legs and knees so they don’t hurt. We started this week on the treadmill at the gym because running in the 100 plus degree heat will not work for us. Donny is running up to seven minutes now and I am doing three to four minutes at a time.

We are going to continue to add more running to our cardio every week until we can run over three miles and then participate in a local 5K. Continue to follow my blog posts as I update our progress.

LLOL,

Patricia

1 Corinthians 9:26-27

“Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”

Paid off our Mortgage

Our Financial Success – Paying off our Mortgage

This past month, Donny and I accomplished a major financial achievement in our marriage. We paid off our mortgage 14 years and 9 months early. It is a feeling I cannot begin to describe.

We started this journey of home ownership back in 2001, two years after we got married. Our income at that time was nowhere what we are making today. The house we purchased was 20 years old and a starter home. When we purchased our home, we knew what we could afford for a mortgage note with our salary.

Fast forward to Tropical Storm Allison that hit the Houston area with massive flooding in June 2001. We had only made a couple of house payments, which we were able to handle in our budget. But were we in for a surprise. After the flooding on Allison, our homeowner’s insurance skyrocketed when it was up for renewal. The reason for that was the all the flood claims during TS Allison. This one event increased our escrow payment to increase by $400 a month due to the additional cost of homeowner’s insurance. We struggled with making our mortgage payment and paying all the other expenses we had in our budget. This event made us realize we wanted one goal and one goal only, and that was to pay off our mortgage early.

Each year, we tried to pay one additional house note to pay down the mortgage more quickly. But year after year, life seemed to get in the way of our making any headway with this goal.

Fast forward to 2014. Our daughter had graduated high school and was out on her own. My husband and I were empty-nesters, so we focused all our extra funds to pay off the house.

We paid down the principal to within a reasonable amount where we felt we were making progress. Then, this year, we received some extra funds due to severance pay from my being laid off and we combined it with money I had been saving for this one goal. July 2016 was the month we paid off our house.

Mortgage Picture (2)

This is a feeling that we still have a hard time wrapping our heads around, but it is true. We received confirmation from our mortgage company that our account was paid off in full and our account was closed. It does feel different living, eating, and sleeping in a paid‑off house. It is our home.

With this achievement, we are making adjustments to our budget, because we no longer have a mortgage payment. First and foremost is putting funds aside for taxes and insurance that were paid by our escrow with our mortgage. This is an automatic deduction from our checking account that goes into a savings account we will not use except for payment of taxes and homeowner’s and wind insurance. The rest of the amount we used to send to the mortgage company will be used for savings mostly; some will be used to make improvements to our thirty-year‑old house that we own now.

Welcome!

Welcome to Living and Loving Our Lives.  We are going to be blogging about the things we love and make life worth living – family, friends, food, fun – and the finances we need for everyday life.

Through our friendship and combined life experiences, we believe we have something to share with others to make life a little better.  We love to spend time with our family and friends, cook, travel and do all these things while staying on a budget.

We hope you enjoy the blog, comment below and come back for more!

LLOL,

Kathryn & Patricia