Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In Which I Share How My Parents Budgeting Succes Blesses Me

I wrote the following post in hopes of winning a contest.   I did not win, however I still wanted to share my Mom and Dad's budget success story because I think it rocks! ( I wrote it from my mom's perspective.) 

I was at a friend’s house this week and she had a beautiful gallery wall of her family.  Pictures of she and her husband, their children, grandchildren, weddings, and significant life events lined the entry of her home.  At the precipice of the wall, hung a plaque that read, “All because two people fell in love.”  Reflecting on their story through this wall, I could see the impact that the thread of love makes in creating beauty. 
My budgeting story has had a similar impact in my family.  Our gallery wall of debts paid, freedom found, early retirements taken, time spent with children and grandchildren, people taken through Financial Peace University, vacations spent, and volunteer hours counted is, “all because two people got on a budget.”

In 2005, my daughter introduced me to Dave Ramsey and I’m so glad she did.  As a result of our “gazelle intensity”, my husband and I paid off $107,000 in debt in 4 years and 3 months.  We did this by:
  • Having monthly budget meetings where we gave every penny a name and spent our money accordingly.
  • Not using credit cards.
  • Applying unexpected income to the debt.
  • Using cash for groceries, gas, and my hair (after all, if you look good, you feel good).
  • Going on planned vacations to celebrate milestones of debts paid
  • Using the debt snowball (paying off the smallest debt first and once it was paid off, applying that money to the next largest debt).
My husband and I have been debt free since 2009.  In 2010, I was able to retire from my job!  Not having to work has freed us to be able to serve our children, church family, and many others:

  • One weekend a month we watch our daughter’s 5 children (ages 6 and under- including a set of twins).  This allows her and her husband time to reconnect and breathe.  
  •  Our son has twins (born on the same day but 2 years after my daughter’s twins), as well, and my husband and I watch his children 2-3 days a week while he and his wife are work.
  •  We started Financial Peace University at our church and have led over 20 groups.
  •  We counsel individuals and couples in the area of finances.
  •   My mother lives out of state and her health is diminishing.  I have been able to travel to her home and stay with her for extended periods of time. 
  •  I volunteer at a gift shop in a hospital and have accumulated over 500 hours of community service.
None of this would have been possible if I still had to punch a clock.  I am so thankful to be out of debt.

If you want to get out of debt and see changes in your life, the key is to get on a budget.  To start a budget you will need to:
  • Write down your income.
  • Write down all of your expenses beginning with food, shelter, transportation, and clothing.  A Google search will lead you to budget sheets and software.
  • Add in a budget line for blow (fun) money.  This is a pre-determined amount of money that is set aside for you to spend any way you like. 
  • Write out exactly where your money will go and spend it accordingly
Using online bill pay through my bank is a real asset to sticking to my budget.  When we get paid, I immediately pay our bills, then I get cash and place it envelopes to keep me accountable. 
In November, I will turn 60.  As a gift to myself and our children, my husband and I added a line to our budget called Caine Family Cruise.  As you can guess, we are going to take our 4 children, their spouses, and our 8 grandchildren on a Disney Cruise. We saved for this trip for a year and it is completely paid for in cash.  I could not think of a better birthday gift than to spend time with our loved ones.   

Discipline in the area of budgeting bled over into discipline in other parts of my life.  In 2012, I started a weight loss program wherein I had to “budget” my calories.  I have lost 30 pounds and kept it off for nearly 2 years.  As you know, discipline begets discipline. 
Getting on a budget has brought so much freedom to our lives.  On a daily basis, frames are added to our gallery wall and our family tree is bursting with beauty. 

If you ask Cynthia how she is doing, she will say, "I'm blessed!"  It is her joy to share life with her husband of nearly 40 years, James.  She enjoys exercising, volunteering, shopping for herself and her grandchildren (with cash) and going on annual Mother's Day vacations with her 3 daughters.  


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Goals for the week of Jan 20

Student Goal Setting


1.  Read Bible everyday.

2.  Memorize Matthew 5:5-6.

3.  Read 2 Chapters of Raising Godly Tomatoes and complete The Circle Maker.

4.  Exercise 3 times this week.


1.  Listen to 1 hour of The Excellent Wife.

2.  Memorize 2 Corinthians 5:1.

3.  Practice Eddie's love language 3 times.


1.  Read to kids Monday-Friday.

2.  Plan a craft for Saturday.

3.  Continue with our daily routine.

House Manager:

1.  Keep up with spending and discuss budget with Eddie.

2.  Work the Cleaning Schedule.

3.  Work on Mega Project Monday-Saturday (organize for 15 minutes a day).

Friend/Older Woman:

1.  Send a gift to Joy.


1.  Spend 30 minutes working on blog.

2.  Spend 30 minutes writing a blog post.

3.  Research craft.

4.  Outline PIE meeting talk and write the talk. 

photo credit

Goals for the Week of Jan. 13

SMART goals
Last week, I set some goals for the different roles that I have.  Here they are, along with an update on how I did on them.

1.  Read Bible everyday.  (I missed 2 days last wk.  I felt really bummed that I missed, but I decided not to dwell on it and live in defeat.  I dusted myself off and kept trucking along.  I'm using an adaptation of this plan.)

2.  Memorize Matthew 5:3-5 (The children and I completed verses 3-4)

3.  Read Parts 2 and 3 of Steady Days and 2 chapters of Raising Godly Tomatoes.  (I finished Steady Days and did not read any of RGT).

4.  Exercise 3 times this week.  (I only exercised once).


1.  Listen to 1 hr of The Five Love Languages.  (I enjoyed this audiobook so much that I listened to all 5 hours).

2.  Memorzie 2 Cor. 5:1.  (Eddie asked me to memorize 2 Cor. 5 with him.  Unfortunatly, I didn't even print it out, so this will be back on the list for this week.)

3.  Practice his love language 3 times.  (Done!)


1.  Read to kids Monday-Friday. (Done!  We are almost through The Jesus Storybook Bible).

2.  Get library books (Done!)

3.  Continue with our daily routine.  (We did this 3 out of 5 days).

House Manager:

1.  Put budget on Pear Budget and discuss with Eddie.  (I put in the numbers, but we did not discuss it).

2.  Plan a cleaning schedule. (Done!)

3.  Work the cleaning schedule everyday.  (I did pretty good with this one 4 out of 5 days).

Friend/Older Woman:

1.  Plan for Feminar.  (We cancelled it because the kids were in Atlanta and Eddie and I wanted to spend time together.)

2.  Meet with Porscha, Keisha, or Antoinette.  (Talked with Porscha on the phone and had short text conversations with Keisha and Antoinette).


1.  Spend 30 minutes working on blog (pics, design).  (Didn't even try.  I procrastinated badly here.)

2.  Spend 30 minutes writing a blog post.  (See #1.  I put this back on the list for this week.  This post is evidence that I'm knocking this goal out.)

3.  Outline a talk I'm giving at Halley's school on Jan. 29th.  (I didn't even start).

4.  Work on a craft project.  (I emailed some friends for help.  Still have lots to do here.)

Even though I didn't complete all of my goals, I feel pleased with what I did get done.  Writing out my goals gave direction to my week.  I printed the goals out and put them on the side of the fridge and on my bathroom mirror.  I believe seeing them in black and white helped me to focus. 

Also, as I look over what I accomplished, I see that I didn't complete anything under the Dreamer Role.  This bothers me because I want to be a dreamer and use the unique way that God has made me to let my light shine for Him. 

I read on moneysavingmom.com this morning that Crystal said by doing the hardest things first, she got a lot more done.  So, this week, I'm going to make it my ambition to work in the Dreamer role (not so much because it's hard to write posts, but because I procrastinated so much in this area). 

photo credit

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What's Working For Me

 -A kitchen timer-

Oh how I love my kitchen timer.  I usually set it for 15 minutes and work like a mad woman to get things done.  It's amazing the transformation that can happen in a quarter of an hour.

Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed by the state of my house (I wish I had a picture) but perhaps you can paint one in your head.  Unfolded laundry on the dining room table, kids' craft stuff on the kitchen table, a dirty floor, random stuff pilfered throughout the living room, dirty dishes, cluttered counters, messy kids room.  Can you see it? 

"Girls, let's work hard for 15 minutes and see what we can get done."   There is strength in numbers...even if the help is from a 3 and 5 year old. 

I started in the kitchen, folded the laundry, came back to the kitchen and I still had 8 minutes to go!  Awesome!  So, I kept working.
     Living room- done. 
     Kitchen table and counters cleared- done
     Floors swept-done
When the timer went off I felt so much better!  The girls worked hard too.  I didn't bother to tell them that the time was up because they were still woking hard.  After about 5 addtional minutes Halley said enthusiastically, "Mommy, we beat the timer!"  LOL

A few months ago, I started cleaning in 15 minute spurts but got away from it.  I would start in one room and work for 15 minutes then move to another for 15 minutes, then I'd take a 10 minute break.  After the break, if the first room wasn't finished, I would return to it.

 It was important to me to work between 2 rooms so that I wouldn't get bogged down and overwhelmed.  I feel like I can do anything for 15 minutes and I love savoring my breaks. 

This method of cleaning definetly works for me. 

Photo credit

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cooking Up A Storm

*Update:  I wrote this post before the baby arrived, but never posted it.  Melody Renee was born April 5 at 6:36 am.  She weighed 6 lbs 7 oz.  We are home and doing well.  The recovery has been a little harder than previously, but I'm making it.  Hopefully, I'll do a post soon with some pics of our 6 lb bag of sugar!!!

Eddie and I are expecting Chambers baby #5 on April 5th.  My sister, Joy, graciously agreed to come and help me with a big freezer cooking day.  I have learned so much from Jessica at lifeasmom.com regarding freezer cooking.  You can check out her tips here.  Three of our kiddies stayed with my parents and 1 with a close friend so that we could cook without pulling our hair out  undistracted.  My sister got to Montgomery from Alpharetta, GA about 10:30 and we started cooking at 11.  By 11 pm (yes this was a long day) we had the following completed:

Chicken Divan (frozen uncooked. I did not add the parmesan/bread crumb topping.  I'll do that when I cook it.)
Poppyseed Chicken (frozen  uncooked.  Once again, I did not add the cracker topping.)
Chicken Chili
Shrimp Creole
Cheeseburger Meatloaf (frozen uncooked)
Shepherd's Pie (frozen uncooked)
Baked Ziti (frozen uncooked)
Barbecue Meatballs (I browned these about 1/2 way done then froze them)
Cooked and Seasoned Ground Beef for Spaghetti
Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes
Breakfast Sausage (frozen uncooked)

When we're ready to eat these things, I'll just have to pull them out the freezer to thaw in the fridge the night before.  If it's still frozen at dinner time, I'll just add to the cooking time.  What I love about freezer cooking aside from the ready made food is that I won't have many dishes to wash during the month.  The cooking and the clean up will be a breeze! 

We doubled all of the recipes except for the poppyseed chicken (I didn't have enough chicken to double the recipe).  This was A LOT of work but will certainly pay off next month.  We stayed on top of washing the dishes, worked together, and took a much needed break. 

Around 2 pm I headed to my car to get us some lunch only to find that my car battery was dead.  I asked my sister for her keys, went out to her car but couldn't figure out how to turn it on.  I came back inside to inquire of her.  "Oh no, Tay! I think I left the lights on!"  Indeed she had.  We were stranded at the house for about 4 hours until a friend came to the rescue.  At least we had food to eat.  Both of us ate a Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joe sandwich. 

We planned to do all of this over 2 days, but got it all done in 1. 

This week, I've continued to stock the freezer.  I made lasagna (I bagged up the extra cooked ground turkey and italian sausage for another spaghetti meal) cinnamon rolls (freezer instructions found here), granola, pumpkin muffins, turkey burgers, and pizza dough. 

So yea, we've got a lot of good food to eat.  I guess tomorrow I better put away the apron and get out the cleaning supplies!  Our house could really use some tlc in the cleaning area.  If anyone loves to clean as much as I love to cook and eat, please call me!!