Saturday, December 17, 2011

The House on Sunny Hollow

If you follow Your Morning Cup, you'll see that we put an offer in on a house.

For us, its another baby step to Thursday Farms.  Buy a house we can safely afford, live in it for 3 or 4 years and do some improvements.  Then either rent it for a little bit of profit or sell it and use the difference (hopefully a decent one!) as a down payment for Thursday Farms.  

Little by little the big tree grows, no?

And if we got this house (which is a long shot but worth trying for), we'd have two willows in the back and a view of large oaks lining the creek along the greenbelt behind the back fence.

Little by little.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Back in the Saddle

We did it.

We packed up our stuff in two 5x7x8 pods, left a TON of stuff that we couldn't fit, and got the heck out of Dodge.  Excuse me, Seattle.

We drove 2,600 miles with a 6-8 week old baby and a dog.

Tatum got to meet well over 100 people.

My car decided to start overheating in Flagstaff so we drove from Arizona to Oklahoma with the windows down and the heater going.

We're temporarily living with my parents while we look for a place of our own.

And, thank the Lord, we've been able to do it all debt-free so far.

With a varying income from Matt's leftover vacation time, transition to a new job and a promotion within 3 weeks, our budget has been all over the place.  We've had to purchase things that we didn't have room to pack, we're trying to figure out how to not be a financial burden to my parents, judging how much we'll be able to afford for rent or even possibly purchasing a home, and hopefully trying to recoup some of the savings we've spent.

All this with the holidays approaching.

Time to get back in the saddle and start budgeting again!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Addition and We're Moving

In case you missed it over on Your Morning Cup, Tatum Keturah was born on August 2 at 8:52pm. Here's a quick visual re-cap of the past six weeks:

You can read her birth story here if you're interested.

And we're moving.  Finally.  Thank You Jesus.

After a year of having the possibility of moving right around the corner, wondering if I should buy bulk or start saving boxes or get moving quotes, its finally here. 

Matt is going to be working at Mid-America Christian University and in six months will be able to start on his MBA for free, which will be an enormous blessing.  I might even try to get another BA in Literature or maybe a Master's in Public Administration--I really miss school sometimes.

MACU is located in Oklahoma City, so for the third time in three years we're packing up and headed to a new location.  We'll be driving nearly 3,000 miles on our Tour de Tatum, taking two weeks so that family along the route can get to meet our newest addition.

So wish us luck on our new endeavor.  We don't plan on being in Oklahoma forever, this is just the next step in the journey.  After that Matt might look into working with another outdoor company, maybe one based in Colorado but we'll have to wait a few years to see.  I have to say that having really cranked down and built up our savings is what's allowing us to do this move debt-free since MACU isn't paying for the relocation. We'll be living with my parents for a month or two once there so we can start to recoup some of our losses.

Until then, we'll be living our of our suitcases! See you in Okie Homie!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Home Brewed

For Father's Day I found Matt the perfect present on accident! While sorting the mail at work, I filed a Williams-Sonoma catalog and on the back cover there it was! An apartment-sized beer making kit!

Its made by the Brooklyn Brew Shop, and I purchased it from Williams-Sonoma for the same price.

Matt has mentioned a number of times how much he'd like to try his hand at making his own beer, but looking at what is normally used (two 5 gallon plastic buckets), he knew it wasn't something easily done in our teeny apartment that is quickly becoming overrun with baby supplies (and we're minimalists when it comes to baby gear!).

Enter this cute little kit. With only one gallon it can easily be stored on a pantry shelf to ferment.  It was affordable, and will be a great way to test out a new hobby for Matt. If he likes it, then once we move somewhere with a bit more room he can get the larger versions. Until then, if a batch turns out to be not-so-great then at least its just a gallon wasted and not 5! (t'would be such a shame to waste beer!)

We'll keep you posted on how it turns out! If he starts a batch this weekend, he should be able to toast one of his own beers in celebration of Tatum's birth! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where Our Money Goes Now

When we first began the climb towards a debt-free life in the summer of 2009, our main focus (after saving our $1,000 Emergency Fund according to Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps during our very first No Spend Month), was kicking our credit card debt.

We finally did that in the summer of 2010, after moving across town to a place with rent that was significantly less than what we had been spending, and our second No Spend Month (gotta love the nice jump starts those give a budget!). 

After that we began to throw our weight against my remaining student loans and opened an ING Direct Savings account to put our Emergency Fund in, while continuing to add a bit more to that every month.  We also increased Matt's contribution to our 401K, knowing its more important to do that now--even for a few months--and lower it later if needed than to never do it at all. I've never opened a 401k with a company with the simple knowledge that I wouldn't be in one place long enough to be fully vested, whether it be from moving or leaving a job altogether to stay at home with  my babies. So instead of each contributing, say, 4 or 5%, we have Matt contribute 10% towards his 401k, in which he'll be fully vested this year.

According to Dave Ramsey, we should have been throwing everything against my student loans at this point, but this nagging voice in the back of my head kept asking, "What if I get pregnant and we have to go to one salary?" Compared to most of the world, Matt and I are abundantly wealthy. But if we took away my salary and were still living in Seattle, pretty much all we could afford would be Section 8 housing in an unsafe neighborhood.

So we divided putting money towards my student loans and an emergency fund.

Then...surprise! In late November we found out we were expecting! And BOY was I grateful we had begun building our Emergency Fund!

Since then, we've spent just $50 more a month towards my student loans, and the rest that we can spare goes towards our Emergency Fund. Thankfully, by the time our little Tater Tot arrives in late July we'll have enough in savings for any unforeseen medical emergencies, or to help us through a few more months of Seattle's high prices if we don't move right away (there's a possibility Matt could get a job on the other side of the country and we'd move mid-August, just a few weeks after the Tater's arrival).  We're definitely hoping for the move, as the median family income is $12,000 less there than it is in Seattle!

I guess all this to say that following Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps has definitely helped us dig out of our debt hole, but looking at our life situation we had to make choices that were better for us at the time.  Knowing we won't be plunged deep into debt if Tatum needs to spend a night in the hospital is definitely a huge peace of mind.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Waiting Game

It seems like a lot of life is waiting for something, and frankly I'm sick of waiting to move. Since last October we've thought every couple of months there was a chance for us to get out of the Pacific Northwest and Matt to finally be recognized for what an awesome manager he is.

But here we are, 8 months later and still waiting.

Our next hope is a move in August. Probably only 3-4 weeks after our baby girl is born. Where we are now is a one bedroom "apartment" that's really the bottom level of a house. One room is our living room, dining room, kitchen, office and library. Our bedroom is small and already I'm trying to figure out the best way to fit a bassinet or pack n' play in there. And there's no use in going overboard with the "nursery planning" since there is no nursery, and no point in totally rearranging everything now if we'll just have to pack it up 3 weeks after the Tater Tot makes her grand entrance.

Its frustrating...not knowing. We have limited access to a washer and I buy cloth diapers or not? It'd be great to register for a crib and crib mattress...but where would we put it? I have bought oodles of fabric that we'd love to use for the baby's "nursery," but right now all I can make is a quilt. Hopefully come August she'll be able to have a nursery where I can hang curtains and make a cute crib ruffle and a throw pillow for the rocker (which is the second hand 1970's gold rocker from a thrift store that I've had since college).

Its going to be a challenge trying to figure out timing and accomodations for the family and friends who want to be here for the birth. I want family here, of course, but I think I'll go crazy sitting around with a bunch of people staring at me like a time bomb if I'm a few days late. I'm already trying to think of easily freezable group dinners.

But wondering about it and checking the real estate market in South Carolina won't make anything happen any faster. Complaining about the constant rain and chill and gray won't make it disappear. Wishing for a bathtub or a dishwasher to help make things a little easier or more comfortable won't do any good. Our home has been a huge blessing that has helped us get out of debt and save up a nice emergency fund, but its time to move on and Matt and I know it.  We're just waiting for God to open the doors. And if He doesn't when we want Him to, He must have a reason, right?


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Good Tilled Earth

We watched Fellowship of the Ring the last two nights (extended version, of course), and in the beginning when Bilbo is talking about hobbits, he describes their love of peace and "good tilled earth."

As all the seed catalogues are coming out and bloggers are discussing getting new chicks and planting seedlings and choosing garden tools, I have a hitch in my giddup to do the same. But with all the unknowns in our life at the moment, I know I have to wait.

Patience, grasshopper.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Beginning

Well I said I was ready to start trying for a baby...what I didn't know when I wrote my last post was that I was already pregnant!

I may have said I was ready, but truth be told we were both in complete shock when we found out. Maybe I wasn't quite as ready as I thought! 

Now Matt is urgently looking for the next step in his job, as we both want to make it a priority that I be a stay at home mom. Hopefully I can grow The Ruffled Owl into something of a viable business, even if its just a couple hundred dollars a month extra that would be a big help.

We have a potential next step. I won't say anything more at the moment, but it might even include becoming homeowners. Nothing fancy, and certainly not Thursday Farms itself, but a place where we could decorate a nursery, and then once we move, rent out to provide a small extra income. With the housing market the way it is, there really hasn't been a better time to buy. Even after taxes, HOA fees, insurance and maintenance fees, it would still be cheaper than renting in the particular place we're looking! Then maybe in 5 or 10 years, when the economy has fully turned around, we can sell it for a profit to use as a nest egg for the farm.

Just dreams at the moment, maybe, but hey, that's what this blog is for.