Monday, December 22, 2014

Living debt free

This time of year I’m especially…incredibly grateful that we are one of the weird ones. Well, I’m always weird but weird meaning debt free. :)

If you’ve read along with me for awhile you know our story – we were $125,000 in debt. It was a combination of everything – I took out a ton of credit to get through college and had a pretty decent student loan bill at the end of the four years (even though I had grants for almost half of my education!). We financed absolutely everything as adults too – TVs, cars, trips, furniture, a hot tub…all of it. We did what “everyone” does.

What’s funny is it never crossed our minds to save for those items. We wanted it…so we got it. We now know the meaning of delayed gratification. Sometimes it sucks. But three months later, six months later, two years later when we still would have been paying it off, then it does not suck. ;)

It’s been almost four years since we got rid of that massive monkey on our back (all but the house and we are chipping away at that) and it is now just our nature to use cash. To save. To be patient. To be deliberate with our money. That is huge.

It’s hard to explain the freedom that comes with not having debt – it just becomes normal so it’s hard to put into words all this time later. We now live like no one else and some think that term means living extravagantly. That’s not the case. Living like no one else means you get to do things you weren’t able to do before, yes. But more than that it’s living with a peace that we didn’t have before.  

Deep in my soul I am thrifty. Most every time I will do something myself before I have anyone else do it if I’m able. I will always wait for a sale, use coupons, and try to find the least expensive way to do things (well). My car is now nine years old and I still love it. My husband’s car was 11 years old and this year we were able to buy him a new-to-us car. I’m not a big bucket list person but that was one of those things that I’ve dreamed of doing my whole life – we paid for that car with a check. Amazing!!! I tell you what, it makes me tear up to even write that. Who gets to do that??

And of course we give way more than we did before. I can’t really put that into words either – giving more is easily the best part about being debt free.

It took us years, a lot of sacrifice and a ton of work to get through all of our debt. We used the teachings of Dave Ramsey and they truly changed our lives.

I got to meet him two weeks before we paid off the last bill:

dave ramsey thrifty decor chickHe was the nicest guy and genuinely excited for each one of us that stood there with him.

For us it started when I caught his radio show on a business trip. I think he actually annoyed me a little bit at first. ;) I was all…I have it under control! We don’t have that much debt! We could stop any time we want! And then the more I listened the more I woke up and then dreamed of us doing the same. I told my husband about it and he bought his book – we were hooked.

We worked through the debt for years and it was when we took his Financial Peace class that we really got hard core about it. A few months later we were debt free. The book is wonderful, the CDs are great…but those classes changed our lives.

That’s why I chose to give a few of them away every year. I missed last year so I’m making up for this Christmas. ;)

I’m giving away five Financial Peace classes/packets and the lovely folks at Dave Ramsey are throwing in five as well. I’m thrilled to have developed a relationship with his team over the years and am so grateful that they continue to do this for my readers.

Things you should know – this includes a packet of info (including the book) and you can follow along on your own at home. But I strongly recommend making the commitment to the classes. They meet once a week for nine weeks. Our church offered free childcare during the class so that was a huge help.

You will meet others in your situation and will get a lot off your chest – it helps to just be able to talk about it with people. You don’t have to share any details at all – but the group setting helps immensely.

Go here to see if you have a class starting in January near you. Or any time – it doesn’t have to be January. If you want to take the class or get a packet, feel free to comment to enter. I will sign up the ten (randomly chosen) winners or have the packet delivered to you.

If you’d like to win one of the ten packets/classes please leave an email address in your comment or you are welcome to email me (thriftydecorchick at gmail dot com) to enter with the subject line Financial Peace. I’ll leave this open through the end of the week (Friday the 26th).

This is a feeling I want for everyone that feels completely overwhelmed by their debt and finances. It is worth it.

 

Affiliate link included for your convenience.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Tree Party, 2014

Well hello! It’s that time again! I’ve hosted this little shindig for six years now – crazy! It’s time to gather together and show off your beautiful Christmas trees and decor:

Thrifty Decor Chick Christmas party

But first, mine! :)

We usually have four trees in our home – it sounds crazy but one I’ve never even decorated till this year:

skinny Christmas tree

And it was so easy and cheap – check it out here if you missed the bedroom tour earlier this week.

Another one is a real tree for the kiddo’s stuff – the fun one with colorful ornaments. I love it. (Check out last year’s party to see it more of that one.)

Those two are minimal effort and don’t take up much storage space.

A few years back I picked up a flocked tree for our newly finished basement:

flocked tree

Goodness, I love this tree. It was from WalMart and I’m still so happy with it. It doesn’t shed a ton of “snow” and you would think it would. It’s just so beautiful.

It’s only three pieces and super easy to set up – I had it up and fluffed within 30 minutes. Every Christmas break we pretty much hibernate in the basement for two straight weeks so it is lovely to have this down there:

flocked tree Walmart

Of our three faux trees I think this one looks the most real. It will look spectacular one day when that electric fireplace behind it is actually built into the wall. Been dreaming up that project for years now. :)

And our last one…I have a confession to make about our big tree. I call her Big Bertha. The Beast. Pain in my butt.

She’s huge and I kind of dread getting her out every year – isn’t that awful? When she’s up I’m so happy but the process wears me out. My husband goes along with pretty much all of my ideas for decor around the house and rarely has a strong opinion about things…but this tree is his baby. He loves Christmas decor and loves. this. tree.

Last year he was out of town and my sister helped me get all the pieces down from the garage – I thought I would be able to make things a bit easier by making it 10 feet tall instead of 12 feet (I didn’t put the bottom piece of the tree on so it was shorter).

Swear to God he noticed when he walked in the door – nobody would ever notice!! He did. So this year he pulled it down and we set up his baby in it’s full glory.

Twelve feet of tree takes some time to decorate – and it’s a workout on the ladder. Another reason this tree wipes me out? The cats LOVE IT. Our insane kitty literally climbs up around the inside of it and will poke his head out the top. It drives me absolutely crazy:

Colby cat

But last night I was taking pictures of it and I have to tell you…after pulling the cat out for the 15th time, my heart warmed and I just sat and appreciated Bertha:

brown, gold and red ornaments

That snowflake is made from the old Hoosier Dome top for you locals by the way – we spent a lot of time there back in the day so I had to get one. :)

She is a beast but my goodness…she is spectacular:

12 foot Christmas tree

It’s all worth it. :) And I love that my husband loves the tree so dang much:

train around tree

Although I’d be fine if this guy lost a little of the love:

Lowe's fake tree, 12 feet

I’m not gonna lie – I got a little emotional standing there last night, just taking a moment to enjoy it.

It is magnificent. :) Here’s the view from our second level:

12 foot tree

My “Fa la la” prints went back into the frames and they reflect the light beautifully:

Fa la la art

And of course a little bokeh never hurts:

bokeh Christmas tree Whew. It’s a lot of work but after all is said and done…so worth it. There is NOTHING like sitting by a lit up tree with all the lights off, am I right? So grateful.

Now I can’t wait to see your tree and decor! Link up here – and if you’d like to link back to TDC it would be appreciated but it is not mandatory.

I’ll be back on Monday – I’m currently in freak out mode to get all the shopping done. ;) Have a great weekend my friends!!