Great Interest in a Lack of Interest

14 07 2012

Two weeks ago we were wondering if there would be a house to pay off this week as we had planned.  The house is still here and we paid it off this week.  This is the story I’ve submitted to Dave Ramsey’s website (we’ll see whether it gets published).

This week we paid off our house and can officially say we are once again debt free! I’ve heard Dave ask, “Have you ever been debt free before in your married life?” Yes, we have. The first month we were married. We were straight out of college (no college debt thanks to sacrifice by our parents and both of us working half time during the school year and every summer). We had paid cash for what we considered a very nice wedding. We owned one 1962 VW bug which Guy had paid for with money made from summer jobs in high school. Then “disaster” struck. We walked out one morning headed for work and the car was gone. It was old enough there was no insurance to replace it. And so we started our nearly 25 year journey through debt.

We always thought we were fairly cautious when it came to finances. We paid off credit cards at the end of each month, we always paid our bills on time, we waited 7 years to start a family so we could afford to have one of us home with the kids at least part time (it became full time when the second came along), we put money into our retirement fund to at least get any matching funds, we had at least a loose budget and we put money into savings. However, we still had a dangerous mindset. A raise would come along, and we’d say we can afford the payments on whatever the next item on the want list might be.

So why did we decide to work toward debt freedom 26 months ago? Our priorities have always been a little different from most of the people we know. Since early in our marriage we have tithed no matter how tight things appeared and we have donated to other projects or charities as they came along. You can’t out give God, we firmly believe the promise in Malachi 3:10. We also believe very strongly in Christian Education and it isn’t inexpensive. We have paid tuition for our two boys since day one (now they commute over 120 miles round trip per day for high school), and college was looming in the not so distant future. We have some money saved for each boy, but not nearly enough. Our church decided to sponsor Financial Peace University, but our response was, we’re already doing pretty well, and the timing wasn’t great. We didn’t sign up for the classes but the person leading them said, “I thought I was doing pretty well, but I’ve learned things in FPU.” Just to see what it was all about, I got Dave’s books from the library and read every single one they had. I would just read bits to Guy or tell him what I’d read. It wasn’t long before we decided to jump in (we’d already been debt snowballing a little). We were always a team, there was never a question about wanting to do this, just how are we going to do it.

We sat down and did a serious budget every month. This was the first time we had both an emergency fund and another account we set up and called working savings. Before we saved, but a big bill would come along like insurance and we’d dip in to savings. With the detailed budget, we now had money set aside especially for those bills when they came along and didn’t touch the emergency fund. It didn’t take long to pay off all our debt except for the house and then build up a fair sized emergency fund. We had listened to the debt free screams on the radio and felt like we really hadn’t paid off that much. We knew we were supposed to be investing for college (already had a reasonable sized retirement fund), but it didn’t make sense to pour money into Mutual funds since we had less 3-1/2 years until we needed to use it. So while we are putting some money away for college, we decided to go ahead and focus on the mortgage to free up money for college later.

We financed our house in 1999 when we purchased it with a 30 year fixed mortgage at 7.5%. In 2001 interest rates had dropped and the house had appreciated so we decided to refinance to the lower rate and to get rid of PMI. Guy was thinking, “Great, we’ll have lower monthly payment”. Instead, I convinced him we should go with a 15 year fixed with a 6.25% interest and a higher monthly payment. Two years later the interest rates had dropped even more and we refinanced again to a 15 year fixed with a 5.25% interest rate. This time there was no expectation of lower payment. We kept the payment the same so the mortgage would be paid off early. We were on schedule to have the mortgage paid off during the second year of college payments. We kept playing with the budget and decided we would go really crazy and include the mortgage in the debt snowball.

So here we are nearly 25 years from the beginning of our journey through debt, we’ve paid off $110,000 in 26 months and we have one more school year before college payments start. WE’RE DEBT FREE, and looking forward to budgeting next month when there is no house payment. Thanks Dave for the common sense advice.


Picking Up Where I Left Off

29 06 2012

I was literally writing my last post when the reverse 911 call came in. For us the reverse 911 process was 66.6% effective.  Guy and I both got the call at exactly the same time.  However, Nolan never got a call on his phone.  To be fair Guy and I registered our phones months or even more than a year ago and we just registered Nolan’s phone on Sunday.  I hope it was just a fluke, since the news is regularly running notices this week for people to sign up for reverse 911.

The call didn’t say how long we had to evacuate and when police appeared in the neighborhood in short order, they didn’t stop to say anything to us.  Probably because the cars where backed into the driveway and there was obvious packing in progress.  We never heard how long we had to get out, but we were gone within an hour.  I’d packed one car with pictures and quilts to cover them on Saturday when Guy was taking it out to pick up a patrol car to help with the evacuation process.  On Tuesday night I also took my quilting machine heads, my Bernina, customer quilts and my laptop.  I’d been carrying the documents we wanted since Saturday.  One of my quilting friends had called on Saturday to offer her house as a haven and I took her up on it.  Ann and her family were the best of hosts!  We did get calls from several other people, most on Tuesday afternoon and evening offering a place to stay.  We appreciated it.  I have to say we never felt terribly stressed, our house was insured and most things could be replaced.

We spent two nights with Ann and her family and last night at 8pm we were allowed back into our neighborhood.    Everything here is exactly as we left it.  However, at the same time we were being allowed back in, there was a meeting going on for people living on 35 streets where 346 homes were destroyed Tuesday (that number could go up).  In the news this morning they also said the remains of one person was found one of the destroyed houses.  It seems to be a senseless loss of life.  That area was under mandatory evacuation since Saturday afternoon.  It would appear someone stayed to be with their stuff.  Had it just been a difficulty getting out, there was ample opportunity in the days before the fire swept down to get help being transported out.  It is sad that someone’s choice had such a devastating end.  I can’t understand a choice to stay with stuff.  When I couldn’t go directly to sleep on Tuesday night (actually Wednesday early morning) I posted the following thoughts on Facebook:

“As I was going through the house pulling things to take with us, I was reminded of Lot’s wife in Genesis, was there really anything worth turning back for? Thankfully we weren’t in as big a hurry as Lot and his family and we will still probably have a home to go back to. (I admit I’m comfortable with my stuff, but it is just stuff.) The last few days have put “things” in perspective. As Solomon said it is all meaningless. I have my family and that really is what is important. We are appreciative of all the offers for a place to stay. Huge thanks to Anne and family where we are staying. It will be interesting to see what the next days bring.”

The fire isn’t even close to over.  There is still a huge area under mandatory evacuation (during the time we were evacuated there were over 32,000 evacuated).  There are over 1000 firefighters working the line.  Yesterday the estimate was that the fire was 10% contained.  This area is known for its unpredictable winds, so things can change at any time.  We also have regular thunderstorms  during the summer, lightening could just add to the problems.  They are saying a storm in another area is what caused the fire to go crazy on Tuesday.  We have had slightly cooler weather and higher humidity the last two days which has helped with the fight.  It will still be a day-to-day fight.

December Projects

25 12 2011

As is our usual tradition, we opened gifts on Christmas Eve night.  Which means, I can finally show the projects I’ve worked on this month.  It has been several years since I did many handmade gifts and this year I made up for it.  First up is the whole cloth quilt I made for our quilt group gift exchange.  The color isn’t quite right on the screen — it is a red, red.  The quilting designs were derived from some Hawaiian fabric.

We only exchange gifts with extended family if we are together.  My sister and her family came here this year.  So for her I made this Handbag.  The Pattern is “The Large Angled Pocket Handbag” from Dixons Designs. (The fabric for my purse came into the store this week 😀 )

My sister and brother-in-law have a foster daughter who is 11 months old today.  For her I made a baby doll from a “Dinky Baby” pattern.  I used Doll Skin fabric rather than the craft velour called for by the pattern.  I think the velour would have been easier to work with.  The pattern directions come on a CD so there are loads of pictures which means the instructions are pretty easy to follow!  The real baby’s first reaction to the doll was to rip off its hat and bite it on the top of the head.  We think maybe she considered that a kiss.  LOL.

I was cleaning out Jesse’s outgrown clothes a couple months ago and there was a large stack of T-shirts.  I was ready to donate them, and it suddenly struck me I had about enough to make a T-shirt quilt.  I stuck them in the closet and forgot about them.  I remembered them at the beginning of the month.  I bought the stabilizer for the shirts on December 4.  I didn’t have as many T-shirts as I needed to make the quilt the size I wanted, but I did have the backs.  So I digitized video game titles and images on 7 squares.  I was clearly reminded of the fact, I dislike auto digitizing.  However, I had to live with it as I didn’t have time to manually digitize and finish by Christmas.  I also didn’t stitch out samples.  All the embroidered blocks are the first try.  The boys got out of school on December 20 and I managed to finish the binding on the 21st early in the morning.  Thankfully they are fairly typical teens and slept in. There is Dr. Suess flannel on the back and wool batting.  It all paid off when Jesse pulled it out of the box and proclaimed he LOVED it!

For Guy I made a turtle police car pillow from one of the blocks in Amy Bradley’s “Traveling Turtles” pattern.  He had seen a picture of the pattern and asked me to buy it.  He said he would make a pillow from that block if I would help him.  I just saved him the trouble.  I think this pattern is a hoot, and after making this am considering a whole quilt.

I made pillow cases for both Nolan and Jesse.  The pattern can be found by searching either “Hot Dog Pillow case” or “Burrito Pillow Case”  I used this pattern.  Nolan got Converse like shoe fabric because he has a pair of bright yellow ones exactly like one shown in the print, and Jesse got cats, because he has been crazy about them for years.

Finally a new wall hanging for Guy’s office.  He has two already and this is to rotate out with one of them.  The Pikes Peak and Colorado Springs postcard blocks are from Olde America Antiques Vintage Quilt Blocks.  The pattern comes with the blocks but is also available free from their website.  I still need to hand stitch the hanging sleeve and will probably get to it today.

Whew, I should be tired just looking at this, but I’m ready to move on to the next project, or three.

Twenty-two Years Ago

6 09 2009

Twenty-two years ago today, I married my best friend. I would do it  again in a heart beat!




Since the purpose of this blog is to talk about creative accomplishments, I will tell you I made all the dresses and did the flowers.  The flowers are silk — it was the 80s.  I wasn’t decorating cakes, yet,  so it was probably the single most expensive thing at the wedding.

19 Loooong Years Ago

15 08 2009
My sister and brother-in-law celebrated their 19th anniversary this week. She posted some pictures on Facebook and I lifted them to show here.

Other than preping a classroom (including painting it) I haven’t accomplished much on the creative side in the last couple weeks. Since Sheila posted her pictures I thought I’d show you what I was working on a little over 19 years ago.

Sheila and David Wedding Party
Sheila and David Wedding Party

I made all the dresses for the wedding party + my mom’s dress.

Bible Boy and Flower Girl

Bible Boy and Flower Girl

Including a miniature of the bride’s dress for the flower girl.  (The flower girl was changed after rehearsal the night before.  The original did not want to do it.  These two are cousins.)

I did the dresses from 3000 miles away while I worked full time.  I was living on the East Coast and everyone else was on the west coast.  I got one fitting on my sister at her college graduation.  It was fortunate everything fit as well as it did.  Then I flew in a week early to do the cake.

Sheila and David Wedding Cake

Sheila and David Wedding Cake

This cake had four different flavors and various fillings. 

By the end of the wedding I was just a little ticked at my sister.  I was there that week working like crazy and all she wanted to do was sleep.  Turned out she had mono which gives her a very good excuse.  By the time I finished working on this wedding I swore I wouldn’t do another until my daughter got married.  I didn’t end up with any girls so it looks like I’m off the hook!

Final Week of Up & Running

27 05 2008

This week is the final week of the Up & Running class with Jessica Sprague.  I thought the layout this week was loads of fun to work through.  Usually the more complicated something is the happier I am.  Perhaps it is the need for a challenge, or it could be that I just like to learn new things.

The picture in this weeks layout is a scan from a photo that was made from a slide.  As you can imagine, the quality isn’t that great.  The picture was in color, but part of the assignment this week was to create more of a sepia toned picture.   I really like this picture.  It is of my dad and me.  Apparently, I had no fear of standing upright in his hand.  My sister wouldn’t ever do it.  When he tried with her, she would just sit down.

  All the elements in the layout were provided by Jessica as class materials.

Happy Birthday Dad

11 05 2008

I know everyone is wishing people a Happy Mother’s Day, but my dad was born on Mother’s Day in 1941 and this year his birthday once again falls on Mother’s Day.  In honor of his birthday I experimented  with another digital scrapbook page.  This was a quick page that was a freebie from E-scape and Scrap and was designed by Ruth Davis.  I played around to create my own journaling box.

There are very few pictures of my dad when he was young.  The first one in the layout is probably one of the earliest I have managed to find.  One of the reasons there aren’t any is their house burned down twice while he was a boy.  I suspect there wouldn’t have been large numbers of pictures of him anyway since he was the sixth child.  I know there aren’t quite as many pictures of my second child, I can only imagine what would happen with nine children.  I need to rescan the pictures at a higher resolution the next time I am at my parent’s house.

Dad and Mom are on the road somewhere between Oregon and Colorado so I will see them tomorrow.  Anyway, wherever you are, Happy Birthday Dad and Happy Mother’s Day Mom.