Debt Snowball Progress- September


It’s nearing the end of October and I still didn’t do my update for the debt snowball. It is not because we didn’t have a good month, it’s just because I’m still a bit behind in writing content for the blog. I am finally settling into my new job and figuring out this work from home bit (it’s a harder adjustment than most people realize – more about that at a later time). You should anticipate more consistent posts by early November.

Fall is a very busy time with Brian’s work schedule and with me doing this new job and teaching two classes at the community college. It’s great for our debt snowball, but not good for trying to grow a side business or try to maintain sanity. There have been many days that this self-proclaimed type-A overachiever has had to accept that keeping the children alive and fed was enough of an accomplishment for the day.

So here’s the update for September:

Income report from September

Extra from September paychecks                        $1,028

Money from Garage Sale and Varage Sale         $       8


Total extra income                                               $1,036



Current outstanding student loan debt               $37,016

A Laundry Room Overhaul Part II

laundry-room-overhaul-2If you have not yet read “Laundry Room Overhaul Part I” be sure to read that first. This is the conclusion of a laundry room makeover. We pick up this overhaul where we left off, step 4.

Step 4: Assess what is left into three piles: KEEP, THROW AWAY, DONATE/SELL

This is where the bulk of the time went on Saturday. It was exhausting for everyone, not just my mom. We positioned my mom at one table with a chair and she had a garbage bag and two boxes near her so she could sort items. My sister and I kept bringing more things to the table as she worked through it. We helped her, but ultimately it was her decision on what was kept, thrown away or given away.

This sorting and decision making took hours to complete. It really is the bulk of any organizing/decluttering project. It can be and was physically and emotionally taxing.

At one point as I was organizing piles to bring to my mom she shouts from the kitchen, “Don’t mind me, I’m just throwing away your childhood in here.”

Ouch, except it didn’t sting, it just made me laugh.

Apparently, my entire childhood was tied to the plastic popsicle molds she had stored in her laundry room cupboard for over 30 years.

There was so much laughter that day.

Here is our conversation about one of the TWO fondue sets we found.


A Laundry Room Overhaul Part I

laundry-room-overhaul-part-1My first victim client for the organizing side of the business was my mom and she had a laundry room that desperately needed to be tackled. The laundry room is what you see the minute you walk in their back door, which is how most people enter their house.

My mom graciously “volunteered” to be my first client. Honestly, my mom and dad could be my only client for an entire year and we might get their whole house organized and decluttered. (Love you Mom and Dad!) My parents own a large 2 story, 5-bedroom house that they have lived in for over 40 years and raised 5 children. This means there is a LOT of stuff in that house. This is not at all surprising given that they have never moved since they were married.

While I hate every aspect of moving, it is good because it makes you look through your stuff to pack it up. I know that if my parents had ever moved they would have a lot less stuff. The other problem with not ever having moved is that their children were never forced to come and claim the items they left behind. Every one of us kids has been out of their house for over 11 years (I was the last one to officially leave) and yet I know there are still items in that house that belong to each one of us.

I want to be clear as we delve into this project with my parents that the state of their house is very similar to many other families who have never moved. Add the fact that my parents may, possibly, be “pack rats” and you have a home organizers dream come true in endless projects.


Love Your Life, Not Theirs


It’s no secret I love to read and in the last year or two I have become quite fond of personal development books. Pair that with my love of money management and paying down debt and I was presented with an awesome opportunity. I got an email asking me if I wanted to apply to be part of a launch team for a new book.  Umm, yes where do I sign-up?

So I applied and then quickly forgot about it. Weeks later I got an email indicating I was accepted. I have no idea how many people they accepted, what, if any, the criteria were for accepting people, but I didn’t care. They may have taken all people who signed up and I’m okay with that.

I got an advance electronic copy of the book, “Love Your Life, Not Theirs” by Rachel Cruze. Let me make it clear, I am not making any money reviewing this book. For those who may not know, Rachel Cruze is the daughter of Dave Ramsey. She has written another book, which was a New York Time’s Best Seller, “Smart Money, Smart Kids.” I think her role in Ramsey Solutions is to reach out to the younger generation, those who are working through debt and trying to raise money smart kids. I really enjoy listening to her and I found her book to be an easy, conversational read that delivered some great lessons.


Debt Snowball Progress – August

debt-snowball-augustRemember those big changes I mentioned in my July debt snowball update? Well they began and the transition between jobs has been busier than I anticipated. Sometimes life gets so busy you have to draw a line in the sand and some things – no matter how much you may want to do them—you just can’t. The blog was one of those things that didn’t make the cut this time.

August was a busy month and I found the busier I am the less diligent I am, with the budget. I have mentioned this before, but I LOVE to budget so it is saying something that I was too busy to work on the budget. When I say work on the budget, I mean inputting receipts into everydollar, checking our income, moving money around in our budget as needed to ensure a balanced budget, and finally figuring out how much extra, if any, we have towards our debt snowball each month. I know this makes me very weird and nerdy, but I embrace that about myself. I can only imagine how easy it must be for other people who are new to budgeting or hate budgeting to get off track when life gets busy.


For the kids, or is it?

for the kids or is it-pinIt’s a month before my daughter’s birthday and I’m pouring over ideas for cupcakes, cake designs, decorations, etc. I’ve got tons of ideas pinned on my Pinterest board. I’ve been inspired by ideas I’ve read in blogs and my “friends” have posted on Facebook. The options for this upcoming birthday party are endless. This is going to be the perfect birthday party from start to finish, or is it? My daughter will be turning 1. Who is this party for?

This exact scene plays out in homes all over the country. If you have not fallen victim then you have seen the results of these parties. They are amazingly themed parties that parents have spent hundreds of dollars on and countless hours preparing for. All of this for a child who is turning 1 and who will never remember the party. In fact they may even miss part of the party because they will be napping or in the tub being cleaned up from their birthday cake mess. You spend hours designing and preparing fancy “kid treats” for the kid who you have to tell daily not to eat the dog’s food or dirt off the ground.


Debt Snowball Progress – July

July debt snowballBig changes coming in the Gerken debt snowball department.

Yes, we are continuing to work on our debt snowball, but it may be taking a little bit longer to complete, but we are okay with that.

I have accepted a new job, which means a pay cut. Now I know what you’re thinking, a new job doesn’t have to mean a pay cut and in fact it usually means a raise – if you’re doing things right.

Well this time it means a pay cut, but it also means a schedule cut. I am taking a 25% pay cut which nicely corresponds to my over 40% schedule cut.


Why I Menu Plan and Why You Should Too

menu plan-facebookWhat’s for dinner?

The dreaded question that plagues us day after day and can wreak havoc on a perfectly nice day. I know some people love to cook and enjoy spending hours in the kitchen concocting delicious meals for their family to enjoy.

I am not one of those people.

Even if I didn’t work, had no children, and had endless time to prepare a meal uninterrupted I still wouldn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking. It’s just not something I enjoy. I cook because I need to and because cooking at home is almost always cheaper and healthier than eating out.


Makeover your linen closet in 4 hours or less

linen closet pinDo you ever wonder how to organize your linen closet?

I have tried several different ways of organizing, but have finally found the one that is most functional for us, and it’s mainly because I decided to take my own advice.

linen closet before    linen closet before 2


In the past, every time I organized this closet I would move things around and group like things together. I always liked the outcome, but it wasn’t easy to find things quickly. Plus it never seemed to stay organized.  The trick to success this time was removing everything – I mean everything – from the closet.

linen closet-empty


Thank God for Grace

thank God for grace pin

Ever had one of those weeks that you just needed to be given a lot of grace.

A week where it seemed like you were losing it more than you weren’t.

A week where you continually lost your patience with everyone and everything.

A week where you wanted to get yourself under control, but just didn’t know how.


If you have, you are in good company. The first step is recognizing it and then apologizing to all of those around you, because I’m betting you weren’t the easiest person to live with during that week.