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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sometimes This Just Sucks!

Grace & Peace To You,

Debt as of 06/09/2012:  $92,645.00

Debt as of 07/20/2014:  $18,512.79

Total Debt Paid Down: $74,132.21

Well, if you're wondering about the blog post title, it is our reality setting in once again.  We appreciate everyone that's supported us through this project, but sometimes it sucks.  We hope our message, if nothing else, has at least made you think.

Our tip for today is that following through on your debt promise isn't easy.  If you decide to do it, you better make sure you and your family are in it for the long haul.  It's not all cupcakes and rainbows people!

Here's a glimpse of our "Pay Down Our Debt" weekend.

We finished our first week back at work from vacation. So here we go.

Friday Night:

Go out to eat?  Nope, we spent it at home cooking dinner together (that part is really not all that bad) and then we watched a red box rental. We rented Thor 2. Was it good? We don't know. We were both so tired from inservice week that we feel asleep and missed a half of the movie.

Saturday Morning:

Raining.  When you choose not to spend money, the rain falling in the morning seems a little more depressing.  Go out to brunch or coffee at Panera?  Nope, we're paying down debt.  Homemade pancakes and coffee at home (again, really not that bad).  After breakfast, though, it gets interesting.  My wife remarks that most of her clothes have holes in them, as do mine.  "Hey honey, do you want to go shopping?"  Nope, we are paying down debt. So we meal planned and made the grocery list, but we had to make sure that it stayed within $100. That is our grocery budget for a week.

Bryant goes to three stores (Kroger, Aldi, and a local market) to keep us within the budget. Emily stays home and does a free workout on the internet. On a side note, Fitness Blender is a completely free website that has about every workout you can imagine. It is incredible and is currently what Em uses every day she does not run...which is also free.  Here is their link:

This is all followed by a cheap lunch of sandwiches, apples, peanut butter, and pickles.

Saturday Afternoon:

Bryant takes a nap. Emily watches Netflix. Netflix is $10 a month and is what we use instead of cable. Bryant gets up from nap. One more Netflix show, in which Emily falls asleep, and on to making dinner in. If you are counting at home, this is our 4th meal made in this weekend. However, if you are looking for a cheap date night, pick out a complex recipe and cook it at home together. Have you ever tried to cut a spaghetti squash without chopping off your fingers? Try it and get back to us. That in itself is a $4 adventure date that requires massive team work and some YouTubing.

Saturday Night:
Eat the spaghetti squash meal and watch Hitch on Netflix.


Breakfast is two pieces of toast. Then it is church followed by leftovers at home. Bryant goes to work on a music project that might be a potential revenue stream. Emily stays at home and gets ready for her first week back with students.

While this process is not glamorous and we definitely feel temptations of spending, we know we are one loan away from being done. The most important thing for us is that we got quality time together because we are in this together. When we look back on the weekend, was this really that bad? Is that what we were fearing by choosing to pay down our debt quickly? We have learned to live within our means. We have also talked multiple times about how, through two years of marriage, we are happy.  Build a strong foundation for your marriage and be intentional about sticking together. It's not easy for any of us, but it can be done.

In Christ,
Bryant and Emily

Friday, July 4, 2014

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Grace and Peace to You,

Debt as of 06/09/2012:  $92,645.00

Debt as of 07/04/2014:  $19,176.38

Total Debt Paid Down:  $73,468.62

One of the hardest parts of the budget for us is the grocery list. When we originally started doing our budget, we tried to only spend $60 a week on groceries. However, we only did that for a few months before we changed that number to $100. Even moving it to $100, it is one of the areas we struggle to stay within budget. The reason for that is we really like to eat healthy. In January of this year, we actually started trying to eat mainly a Paleo diet.

Why Paleo?

Emily is a migraine sufferer and her headaches started to get much worse this past year. She was having 6 – 8 migraines a month. That is really difficult to manage with a teaching career. Therefore, we decided to make a change in our diet and see if that had any impact on frequency of the headaches.

Paleo, also known as the cave man diet, is basically no processed foods, wheat, or dairy. We started this in January of last year. Our meals mainly consisted of meat, vegetables, and fruit. There are also a lot of breads you can make with almond and coconut flour. We started this diet in January and Emily has not had to take her migraine medicine since then. It has done wonders for her health.

The hardest part of this is that meat and produce are the most expensive things at the grocery store. Sadly, in our country, the cheapest foods are the most processed and worst for you. So we have had to figure out ways to eat Paleo on a budget. We recently purchased The Paleo Kitchen. It’s an amazing cookbook and where we got most of our meals this week. You can also check out the author’s free blog,, for outstanding recipes.

We plan out our meals weekly. Here is a snap shot of our meals for this week:

Sunday – Cereal
Monday – Dinner with Bryant’s mom.
Tuesday – Grilled Chicken and Stuffed Mushrooms
Wednesday –Rosemary and Sun Dried Tomato Meat balls and Broccoli
Thursday – BBQ Grilled Chicken and Asparagus
Friday – Hamburgers (No Bun) and Sweet Potato Fries
Saturday – Steak and Asparagus

We purchased this week’s meals in $105. We only went over budget $5 and still ate pretty Paleo based diet this week. We try to throw in one or two cheap nights like cereal or breakfast for dinner. That allows us to eat healthier the other nights. We also always cook enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day. That way we don’t have to spend any extra money on lunch. Meal planning is the other essential because then you don’t impulse buy at the store or during the week.  It also takes the stress off each day of trying to come up with a meal after work.  

It’s also important to note that we still have non Paleo meals or modifications to the diet.  Bryant is a runner and needs carbs for workouts.  He will still have bread or sandwiches during the week.  Whether you choose Paleo or something else, I think where most people fall short is trying to go “cold turkey” from the diet they’ve been on to something new overnight.  We believe the smarter strategy is to try and incorporate changes slowly and find what works for you and what doesn’t.  You will be more likely to stick with small changes overtime that grow into bigger lifestyle changes.  The alternative is usually trying to change overnight, sticking with it for a week, and then binging back into your old patterns dropping the healthy changes.

Here’s where we shop to get the best deals:

Aldi – Buy your produce here. It is good quality and about $1.00 - $1.50 cheaper than Kroger/Food City. We also buy any condiments there.  A big bottle of mustard there only cost $0.69.

Trader Joes – Things like coconut oil are actually cheaper at Trader Joes than at Kroger/Food City. Meat is more expensive but higher quality. If we save money on the grocery a week, we will buy meat the next week at Trader Joes. We hope to do more of our shopping there after we get out of debt.

Kroger – We buy our meat from Kroger and anything else we need. They run really good deals early Saturday morning. You also have a bigger selection and less of a crowd.

The grocery budget is still a work in progress. Health is so important so we forgive ourselves some when we go over budget here. 

Happy 4th,
Bryant and Emily