<![CDATA[Jones Journey - Blog]]>Sat, 05 Dec 2015 05:39:32 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[strange things for extra change]]>Tue, 22 Sep 2015 01:38:42 GMThttp://thejonesjourney.weebly.com/blog/something-strange-for-changePicture

So, we have become quite the little hustlers lately. I won't say little as we stand 6'8 and 6'0 tall. However, we have been doing strange things to gain extra change...

     Some may ask, what's something strange. In our thinking, something strange is something that we would have never considered doing prior to being serious about our debt free journey. We are still so far in the debt, but each month we attack our goals like we are near the end. We keep ourselves motivated by listening to the stories of others, tuning into podcast with a great deal of financial education. For instance,(@ChrisBrownOnAir),(@hisandhermoney),(@debtfreedivas) and watching @DaveRamsey.
     We also keep ourselves informed on different strategies to become debt-free by reading blogs, articles and more so we are pretty familiar with various ways to earn extra cash. So far, we've become a mystery shopper and had our check automatically deposited into the account. When I first introduced Dan into Mystery Shopping I could tell that he thought I had lost my mind. So, as soon as I told him about it I followed up my sentence with, "there is nothing wrong with trying it". Well, I completed a few shopping contracts before school started and I earned a couple of extra dollars, can I get a Woot Woo..or a Ching, Ching? We've entered a few contest that have earned us gift cards that will be used rather than cash during the holiday season. Danny has been working additional hours to pick up extra cash, we have set up our Amazon account to start selling unused items and now we are.... consigning.
      Now this step friends, is doing something strange. We would have never guessed that we would be pricing, tagging, ironing and bagging our kids clothes to sell. But, I am so excited and nervous at the same time. Nervous that we may not have everything set up in the manner that's expected. Excited that we may earn a few extra dollars at the end of this month. While reading some of the blogs about consigning, it seems that this is a nice way to sell without doing a garage sell. I am not the garage sell type of gal, I don't like setting up and I am not a good person to establish prices. If it were left up to me, I would practically give all of the items away. So, the pricing category is definitely not my expertise. This week we will add a few more items so that this weekend we will learn whether consigning is a new cash flow opportunity for us.
     So, this weekend we will participate in our first experience with @divineconsigntx in Grapevine, TX. This year will be their largest sale ever with over 44,000 items that includes children's Winter & Fall items, toys, furniture and more. There will be 1/2 price sales, 75% off sales and opportunities to volunteer.  As a family, we are winning in more ways than more. Another important factor that we found fascinating was that, unsold items will be donated from the Grapevine Sale to the Denton County Friends of the Family. This is an agency that assists individuals that have been impacted by Domestic Violence.
     One thing that has become very apparent is, there are no limits when you have a goal set to pay off debt. I remember hearing Dave Ramsey mention, sell so much stuff that the kids think that they are next. We thought that was hilarious, however while we were tagging and bagging items to consign the kids appeared attached to their items. As we peeled their hands off of the bags, we informed them that if they want to live in a bigger/nicer home they better help us. Needless to say, mission accomplished on getting them out of the way and assisting in our efforts. Very quickly, they had ideas of additional items to add to our list.

   So far is seems that strange things bring in big change...

<![CDATA[Cash is king]]>Tue, 08 Sep 2015 02:01:00 GMThttp://thejonesjourney.weebly.com/blog/cash-is-kingAs of late, we have made a conscious decision to use cash more often. This means that we no longer use credit cards and we have decreased our debit card use to a minimal. As of now, it appears that we will no longer be using debit cards by the end of this year. 

A few weeks ago I gave the "cash is king" phrase some very deep thought after someone encouraged me to think about it from a different perspective. They mentioned how we spend more when we don't have any boundaries. As oppose to spending when we have an exact amount of cash in our hand at the time that we are making purchases. 

We are big Dave Ramsey followers and on his Financial Peace CD he mentions about going into the stores with cash in hand. Of course we had to give it a try and see the response to visible cash. We've been searching for the perfect bed for months. Of course with Danny being 6'8 and I, 6'0 we need a bed that will make us feel comfortable without hanging our legs off of the bottom of it. 

So, in we walked to a local furniture store walking very slowly. I was so excited that I could barely contain myself. I was anxious and somewhat acting like my elementary age kid as I waited to be seen with this hand full of money. Danny was looking at me as if he wanted to say, please put the money away. But, I was so eager and I kept saying, Dave said they (salesmen) were going to come running. Eventually, I started bouncing on beds and acting overly interested so that we were noticed. 

When we were approached by the young lady I was so intentional about her seeing the money in my hand. First, she asked "how much are you looking to spend." I responded, not too much as I smacked my had with the cash and walked around slowly as if I had several options. The look on Danny's face was priceless, it was somewhere in between embarrassed and proud. She asked several questions and she did a super job ensuring that we located a bed that was fitting for us. 

Our saleswoman never left our side and she gave us a price lower than what we budgeted. I think that I did the happy days for forty-eight hours straight. The word is now out, Nathalie J. loves having change left over. 

  • Large purchases don't follow us home
  • We don't worry about overspending
  • We get to bargain shop

What do we enjoy most about using cash, our purchases do not pop up several days later and throw our ban account into a whirlwind. As far as the Jones, we have become more intentional about having cash on hand and using it as a first source.

<![CDATA[Celebration Station]]>Tue, 01 Sep 2015 03:10:31 GMThttp://thejonesjourney.weebly.com/blog/celebration-stattionOn August 25th, we paid off a debt that has been nagging us to no avail. With that being said, this felt like one of the largest weights removed from our chest. I am not sure how others feel after they eliminate a nagging debt, but for us we were ready to have a LARGE celebration. Not just any celebration, but a full on party with friends over, cake and more. If you think that sounds crazy, then you would really think that we needed counseling after you hear that we are still over 1K in debt. 

Yes, you read that correctly. It's not the debt amount that we are concerned with in this moment, we are concerned with getting some of it gone every opportunity that we have. Jones Education (JE): Some debts we want gone because they are bills that we did not pay off in a timely manner. Some debts we want gone because they are nagging. The nagging aspect includes phone calls, letters or they show up all over the place and we need to just get them gone!

Therefore, on last week when we received the "paid in full" letter it was a happy day. After we came down from an extreme high (on excitement), we wanted to celebrate. It seemed like that desire created an enormous amount of stress for us. We thought of buying ourselves something small, but nice. We entertained a lunch or dinner date, also we discussed some pampering (massages) and then we slightly thought of doing anything.

All of our friends are aware of us jumping at any opportunity to spend some husband and wife time together. Well, we settled on a lunch date and then we took a walk around an outlet-style shopping area. That worked for us, but one of us (Mrs. Jones) was a little concerned about not having a plan after we reach future milestones while on this debt-free journey.

We decided to take to social media (@jonesjourney) and ask other debt-free aspiring followers how do they celebrate. Out of over 497 followers, we received one response and that was to go out and have a meal. CHECK!!!  Of course we have various goals to tackle during the month of September as they relate to debt, so having a plan to celebrate is important. 

We've thought about making a photo booth in the house and using that to take pictures after a debt is paid off. As well as taking the kids out so that they are familiar with this process and how exciting it is for the family. Since, our family is a fair size, perhaps we can do a picnic during the weekend in the park or in our back yard which has a large amount of space. Speaking of back yard space, we can have a Barbecue and invite friends. If this is a nagging debt, there is a need to do something LARGE that consists of setting up a celebration station!

Now it's time to put some of our blogging & Twitter followers on the spot to share with us how they have or plan to celebrate as they reach various debt free milestones. ]]>
<![CDATA[New Day, New Persp´╗┐ective]]>Fri, 14 Aug 2015 09:00:03 GMThttp://thejonesjourney.weebly.com/blog/new-day-new-perspectivePicture

 I met someone that had been $500,000.00 in debt and they paid it all off within 7 1/2 years.  After hearing their story, we have a new perspective!!!

     Of course, I wanted to speak with this family immediately. After hearing a few take away's from their journey, I felt thankful for the information that was shared over a fifteen minute phone call. Truly, this phone call has changed our perspective about our debt free journey. Like most individuals on this journey, we become discouraged at times when the overall amount doesn't seem to be lowering. At this point I am both anxious and excited at the same time!! The anxiousness stems from the desire to alter our entire budget during the middle of the month and the excitement is from the thought of learning new techniques to conquer debt. The suggestions shared were as follows: 
  • No longer using debit cards
  • No longer putting the kids in extra curricular activities 
  • No longer living off of two incomes
  • No longer having unplanned meals
  • No longer allowing "wants" to have space in our home

       The suggestions were made to be carried out over a two year period. Initially, I felt very overwhelmed with these suggestions. But, as I replayed the conversation through my mind I realized that these are things that individuals do when they are serious about eliminating debt in a timely manner. I took a little time to think about this conversation and later sent a message to my husband requesting a financial meeting. 
      When my husband arrived,  I spoke with him about the suggestions made by our new friend. I also discussed that we needed to revisit our blow amount and whether we will allow the kids to participate in sports during the Fall. Initially, the room was very cold and hollow. I am still unsure whether that was from my anxiety about this difficult conversation or was it from his deep breathing as we discussed this topic.       Towards the end of the conversation, I stopped talking and allowed me husband to sit with the information that I shared. It was clear that he needed time to process his thoughts in a quiet space without me breathing down his neck for quick responses. Eventually, he shared that he was willing to do anything necessary to bring out debt to zero and boy was I excited. 
     Truly, we are excited to meet new friends while on our debt free journey. There is so much information to learn about this process and I am looking forward to gaining additional knowledge. Our perspective on tackling debt has changed due to listening to someone else's story. We are looking forward to sharing our steps with readers and encouraging them through our experiences.

<![CDATA[Summer Vacation]]>Thu, 06 Aug 2015 09:28:21 GMThttp://thejonesjourney.weebly.com/blog/family-vacationWe really wanted to take a summer vacation, but we were apprehensive due to our debt-free goals. Mr. Jones and I have grandparents that are aging and felt that it would be in our best interest to go home and visit them. Shortly after that conversation we started to put money into our sinking fund towards the trip, just in case we decided to travel. During the month of July we learned that we will have an extra check on August 1st. So, we discussed it and decided that we would travel to see family since we were headed in that direction to fulfill our daughter Track & Field obligation.

Our daughter and her relay team earned their spot at the T.A.A.F. State Track and Field Meet so we turned that trip into a family vacation. Our overall budget for this Thur-Tuesday family trip was $1,300 dollars. After hanging on to all receipts and tallying them up, I am proud to report that our expenses totaled $936.00. Most people that are affiliated with us knows that I love LOVE having change.  When we have change left over, we usually decided about applying it to another need that we may have forgotten to put in the budget or that we did not see coming.

Obviously, I am the nerd and so very anal at times about the flow of our budget. Often, I question whether my husband really sees the progress that we are making while working as a team with our finances. Then, all of a sudden he leaned over to me and said, "honey this is really sweet." Those words really made my heart smile, in that moment I could tell that he appreciated where we were financially. 

I was reading a post in a Facebook group where someone was asking how do others remain motivated to tackle debt when the overall number is very large. My response was that, I stay motivated by reading posts in that group. Another thing that keeps me motivated is, when I see that my husband is pleased with our progress and that he appreciates our milestones.

<![CDATA[Our Sinking Fund WorkS! ]]>Tue, 04 Aug 2015 08:42:25 GMThttp://thejonesjourney.weebly.com/blog/our-sinking-fund-worksPicture
Just to provide a little history, we have NEVER taken a family vacation. Honestly speaking, we never thought that we would have the opportunity to take a vacation. Earlier in the year, I (Nathalie) joined a few groups on Facebook that focuses on finances Recently, there was a long discussion thread about a  sinking fund. Of course, I read through each response and learned a wealth information about a sinking fund. Shortly after, I opened a new account and started to transfer our sinking funds into this account. 

Someone maybe wondering, what is a sinking fund? Please hold while I share my understanding of a sinking fund. It is a stash (account) (holding place) of funds that are delegated to certain bills/expenses that are coming.  We have had our account for three months and the expenses that are coming out of this account consists of: Medical Expenses, School Clothes/Supplies, vacation, Christmas & birthdays. As the nerd, I LOVE the sinking fund concept because it allows us to see exactly what we've saved towards a particular expense. Also, I enjoy it because we were able to cash flow a family vacation  through using our sinking fund.   We have also learned about the slush fund, but it is not working in a large manner for us at this time. The day that I explained the sinking fund to my husband, he gave me the blank stare because he did not understand the information that I was sharing. 

However, as we were on our vacation with financial freedom he seemed to appreciate the sinking fund in a big manner. Although we are still in debt, we are learning methods to spend/use money without jeopardizing our needs! Therefore, our goal is to educate many about how our sinking fund and to use it for our future large expenses.

<![CDATA[Financial Literacy]]>Mon, 27 Jul 2015 22:23:54 GMThttp://thejonesjourney.weebly.com/blog/financial-literacyPicture
Today our ten year old asked what school loans are. She said, "I thought it was when someone needs to buy clothes during college and they borrow money for them." Her perspective was pretty interesting; I was stunned and stood in place with the blank stare. Then, I realized this was a moment to educate her about finances. She learned so much today and she actually seemed interested.
#1: The definition of a school loan-Debt that never goes away.
#2: The goals for our children pertaining to school loans.
#3: Then, we showed her how our school loans are listed on the debt snowball list.
Needless to say, I think that she felt well informed and understood that she will not be getting into school loan debt when she leaves for college.
 Education is so important, when we sit around and discuss our finances it is apparent that we were not educated well enough to make informed financial decisions. This has resulted in so many losses that did not have to take place. However, it has taught us valuable lessons pertaining to wise methods of spending money. 
After reading the Legacy Journey, we are fully on board with changing our legacy for the better and educating our children. Nikki read Smart Money Smart Kids two years ago when she was eight years old. So, as a favor to her during this summer she had to read it again and complete a book report. Although she was unhappy initially about this assignment, we are sure that she will thank us when she becomes an adult.

<![CDATA[This journey is hard....]]>Sat, 25 Jul 2015 21:11:08 GMThttp://thejonesjourney.weebly.com/blog/this-journey-is-hardPicture
Working to become debt free is so hard at times. It is hard because there are a small number of individuals on this journey. It is hard because every decision has to be well thought out. It is hard because it pushes us to stay focused on our long and short term goals. It is especially hard because we were never exposed to this type of mind-set and we are walking in uncharted territory. It is hard because It is hard because it is a constant denying of yourself. For instance, our children ask for new clothes sometimes and that usually prompts an action. Our initial thought is, we better get to the store today for a few new outfits. The reality of that is, our children are not without although, what they have may not be preferred. 
Two years after taking the Financial Peace class and having financial inconsistencies, we've decided to start blogging about our experiences in life and with finances. Our goal is to have fun with our family during our debt free journey. Who knew that there were so many fun activities that are free or very low? No worries, now we know and continue to look for them on a daily basis. 
The purpose for creating this space is to inspire others and to hold us accountable for our decisions as they relate to finances. Prior to starting a more intentional debt free journey (February-2015) we did not view this journey as a mind shift. However, as we mature in this process we have learned the importance of taking our time while making large purchases as well as evaluating needs vs. wants.

<![CDATA[Our anniversary]]>Tue, 21 Jul 2015 18:09:42 GMThttp://thejonesjourney.weebly.com/blog/our-anniversary
Today, we celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary and had an amazing time. Like most couples, we have a nerd and one of us is the free spirit. We will leave that to the imagination while the world figures out who fits which description. One of us was very adamant about spending the day at the Spa Castle. After looking at the photos, videos and reading the reviews it appeared that idea was going to be null & void from the activities list. After further research, we learned that we could spend the entire day of relaxing for only $35.00 per person. In a blink of the eye, we packed our children, shipped them off and grabbed our bags to spend the day away. The money spent was well worth it and we enjoyed ourselves. The best part about our day was, we paid cash and our anniversary celebration did not follow us home or impact our budget negatively. YAY!!!

<![CDATA[Saving Money]]>Sun, 19 Jul 2015 00:25:28 GMThttp://thejonesjourney.weebly.com/blog/saving-moneyPicture
Lately, we have been coming up with creative methods to save money. We have a separate budget for household items such as: laundry detergent,dish washing detergent and hand soap. Recently, friends that are avid users of Young Living Essential oils have been making some of these household items that we purchase monthly. A group of mothers that are also wanting to be smarter about finances decided to meet up to make laundry detergent. 
  • 4 cups-Hot Water
  • 1 cup- Arm & Hammer
  • 1/2 cup- Borax
  • 2 cup- Baking Soda
  • 1 bar- grated pure soap (Dr. Bronner's)
  • 5 caps- Thieves Household Cleaner

This product came out nicely and has been working wonders on our clothes. For instance, I love the smell and the clothes are super soft. Unfortunately, we did not make a 5 gallon bucket so I will be making another batch prior to the start of school. The bucket shown in the photo was divided between myself and (2) other friends. While making the detergent, another mom/wife came over and spoke about her success with making household products. She mentioned this has saved her family $120.00 per month and has allowed extra money for other things in their home. 

We are so excited to provide this option for our family, making laundry detergent will definitely help us with our efforts
 towards becoming debt free.