Posted by: Hackypie | 03/04/2017

Year of Plenty: January/February


I’d like to say: “We did it! First month down!” I will say instead: “…First Month!”

This month wasn’t a COMPLETE failure. We didn’t buy stuff. We DID cancel internet. Poor Jayden cried like we were killing a pet when he realized that no more internet meant no more Umi Zoomi, Magic School Bus, Little Einsteins, or Andy Griffith. But it also meant that Mom is not distracted by her phone, and Ben and I aren’t staying up late watching shows.

We usually pay off the credit card on the 20th of each month. So on the tail end of December was another $600 that we paid for in January. December utilities were $100 over what we had budgeted. Hoping to make up for that this Spring/Fall.

I actually lost money with Stromsburg Sewing. (Had to pay $50 to get approved by the city, replaced a part on my machine, ran out of thread… and I don’t receive my check for making blankets until the following month.)

All told we sent an extra payment of $177!


What a month! We have been sleep training Roland, so this last week we are finally starting to get some rest again. I felt like I hadn’t really slept since January. I flew to TX for a wedding, (my ticket was covered!) Ben flew to California for a week, I spent a week in South Dakota with family, we drove to the airport 4 times…  I ate peanuts from a vending machine for $1.50 instead of a $9 hamburger from TGIF. (Short term loss… long term gain, right?) But I did splurge on a $5 bag of popcorn that was worth it in so many ways. If you ever get the chance, (Year of Plenty or not) you must try Garret Popcorn. I chose their signature mix of CheeseCorn and CaramelCrisp.  Do to unplanned travels, we overspent out food/stuff budget: +$120. Overspent gas budget: +$100

Winter utilities were high again: +$24

Basement sewer back up and flooded the basement: +$279

Didn’t sell York house and paid a second mortgage: +$300

My sewing machine leaped off the table and no longer works. 😦  I am borrowing a machine, but I will need to get a new one in the next month. Looking to spend around $500. With Prom coming up and how much detailed work I’ve been doing, it would be really  nice to work on a quality machine for once.  I did NOT bring in the extra hopeful $500.

Though we’ve been nowhere NEAR our projected goal of $1660/month of extra payments… isn’t it funny how God works sometimes? If he hadn’t put it in my heart to start Year of Plenty and “extreme” frugal living, we would have been way over budget these first two months with the extra travel, basement, second mortgage, etc. and we wouldn’t have noticed until we had to pull from savings and vacation money.  Thankfully, the savings account has grown, the vacation envelope has grown, and we have had all the extra money required for the emergencies thrown at us so far this year.


Posted by: Hackypie | 11/28/2016

Year of Plenty Guidelines

I’m posting this here to keep myself motivated and accountable and also to share this journey with anyone interested! Please don’t read this and shoot me down on my crazy ideals here, or feel guilty/poorly about your own spending. Also, I know I’m kinda putting myself out there and actually using real numbers on how much we make and spend. I hope this will be an encouragement to you if you are attempting something similar. I searched high and low on other blogs and could find very little concrete examples.

P.S. I was going to choose “Sweat for Debt” as my title here and my motivation because we had a book titled: “No Debt, No Sweat” which is insane, because this will actually be quite challenging, difficult, hard, and all those other words that often produce sweat… so there’s that. To contradict that, I have starting referring to this as our “Year of Plenty” to remind myself that God has provided us with PLENTY and that “enough is as good as a feast” (Thank you, Mary Poppins) and “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” Hebrews 13:5.

Our financial goals for 2017:

  1. Live on $20,000 (take home) for the year
  2. Pay off $20,000 of debt this year
  3. Less focus on things, more focus on people/relationships

The Catch:

We live in a large house, have three children (two in diapers) and 5 fish
We don’t currently earn $40,000/year
We are used to living on $2550/month

The Plan:

Cut monthly budget from $2550 to $1,667 ($20K yr)

$521 House Mortgage
$250 Tithe
$201 Student Loans
$200 Utilities
$200 Food
$50 Gas
$67 Vehicle Maintenance/Taxes/Insurance (We may need to go down to one vehicle)
$81 Vacation/Travel Savings*
$19 Life Insurance
$20 Kid’s Homeschool Activities and Outings
$15 Save Up for Special Occasions
$15 Track Phone
$12 Ben’s Coffee House/Homework*
$16 Carls Skrap/Trash Service

  • -$45 Cancel Internet* (Ben will be camping out at the coffeehouse and library for MA homework)
  • -$30 Preschool
  • -$50-$100 Conserve Utilities
  • -$ Eating out must come from grocery budget (So probably never.)
  • -$ Back to cloth diapers (…yay)
  • -$ Birthday/Holiday presents carefully and thoughtfully planned ahead
  • -$ Nothing in the budget for buying “stuff”

*Vacation/Travel $81/mo = $972
Preplanned 10 Year Anniversary Trip, $700
3 Camping trips, $272 ($90.67 per trip)

Cheats to the Monthly Spending (As in, If I were to live on $20,000 indefinitely we would need to reassess the budget):

Young Living Essential Oils: $63 (Essential Rewards Program) a month UNLESS others buy from me; I hesitant to cancel this because it took two years to work up to the sales rate that I’m currently on. Some months I must purchase something, some months I won’t. This will mean we need to earn more, but won’t come out of our $20K/year spending budget. [If I was to continue a $20K a year lifestyle, I would need to do without until debt was gone.]

Waddell Reed investments. We currently invest for retirement $255 a month. This will not come out of our $20K/year budget, but will need to compensate for it on the make more movey end.

Medical Expenses will come from our Medical Savings account that is continually being directly deposited from Ben’s job.

Cell Phone. We are graciously still on a family plan that the parents are paying for. We know we need to grow up. But we haven’t. If they chose to release us from the family plan we will likely get a second phone with a cheap service plan.

Debt Payoff Plan:

$2550[current monthly income] – $1667[new budget] – $255[WaddellReed] – $63[YoungLiving] = $595 Leftover a month
Need $1667/mo for $20,000 debt payoff for the year
$1667 – $201[already in monthly budget] – $595[leftover in budget] = $871mo/$10,452yr still needed
Tasha: Stromsburg Sewing = $80wk x4wk = $320mo = $3840yr ($551 month/$6,612 year needed)
Tasha: Cleaning Job = $200mo/$2400yr ($351/$4212 needed)
Tax Return: (hopeful) $3000 ($1212 needed)
Ben: Summer Job: $1500 ($288 extra!)


The only month we’ve ever been under $200 in utilities was the month of October when we ran neither the heat nor air conditioning. This will be the hardest part of the budget to keep down.

We will diligently conserve water by:
Nix daily showers – only shower when needed
Turn off water in shower when washing hair, shaving, etc.
Never let water run unnecessarily: teeth brushing, hand washing, rinsing dishes, etc.
No watering the grass
Watering the garden with soaker hose, or spot treatment: no sprinkler
Sponge bathe kids as necessary
Less laundry – Making sure clothes ACTUALLY need washed before throwing in the hamper
Less dishwasher – reusing cups and plates when practical, cooking multiple meals at one go–one mess many meals.
Less toilet flushing – If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.

We will diligently conserve electricity by:
Unplugging appliances when not in use.
Using natural light whenever possible – make use of daylight, do work in rooms that have natural light.
Use Laptop for movies instead of DVD player, surround sound, projector.
Turn off all lights when not in room –and using less.
Turn off fans when not in the room.
Turn off night lights during the day
Line dry towels and diapers in winter, line dry everything in nice weather
More broom, less vacuum.

We will diligently conserve natural gas:
Cooking multiple meals at a time – many meals one oven.
Less hot water used in showers.
Using cold water for all laundry except diapers.

We will diligently conserve gas:
Drive only when necessary – walk and bike locally, combine out-of-town errands.
Carpool on group outings when possible.

I am allowing myself grace with this challenge. A year is a long time. I am motivated to stick to this plan, but I am also human living in a world of excess and plenty and am prone to eating chocolate and ice cream. Ben’s first question was, “What if we fail?”  And to that I answer, there really is no failing here. I either pay the debt this year or I don’t. We will not starve, because the money is still there if needed… If a car breaks down, the roof leaks, or my shoes completely fall apart, we do have a few thousand in savings right now.  I have a month longer to think and plan.

What do I want from you? Your encouragement would awesome. Tips on healthy and cheap meals would be awesome. Understanding that I do want to hang out and have fun with you, but am not going to be able to frequent the movie theater this year.

Are you still reading? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think about this!

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