Yall have been asking for it – waiting for it – excited for it, and now it’s HERE! The May Minis SNEAK PEAK!! Each of these sessions will get their own blog post in the upcoming weeks but for now, I wanted to show off just a taste of how GORGEOUS and fun our sessions were this past weekend.Read More »
PERSONAL | TEACHER TUESDAY
May 7th, 2019
This past week I sat down with my calendar and started mapping out blog posts topics for the next few weeks. I put on the calendar for today: BLOG – TT (meaning Teacher Tuesday blog post) and couldn’t find myself landing on a topic I felt really excited to write about. I flirted with questioning techniques, my favorite apps, or even end of the year activities but then I remembered – it’s National Teacher Appreciation Week! And then I got my wheels turning… I’m used to this week being about being an educator – the deals, the free meals, the jeans days because I am an educator – through and through. But then I got to thinking and decided I wanted to do something a little different with this post. I want to thank all of my teachers – including my students.Read More »
A few weekends ago my family headed down to Bethany Beach, Delaware to celebrate Easter with our 95-year-old grandfather! Yes, 95 and still going strong! He lives down in Bethany and loves having us all over! My Aunt and Uncle headed down on Thursday and then followed soon after by Sterling, me and my siblings – Lindsay, John, and Bradley! Read More »
On Monday we did something so exciting!! I have been looking forward to this moment for MONTHS (18 to be exact). When the time came to hit the submit button I was OVERJOYED because this online click represents a year of changes, struggles, anxiety, pain, joy, and pride. This past Monday we PAID OFF MY CAR!!! We are on our way to financial freedom having paid off almost all our debt (still working on student loans) and I’m thrilled with our progress!
This time last year we were living on one paycheck and felt like we were in a HOLE that we couldn’t get out of. Two humans, two dogs, too high of a rent payment – one paycheck. We were stressed, emotional, trying to keep up with the same lifestyle we had just a few months before and realizing that we needed a change.
The backstory of all of this can be read here: Part 1 & Part 2 but the long and the short of it is that in February/March of last year Sterling left his job. We were left with one paycheck, all the same bills and a rent that was too high for our current status. We also had student loan payments, and credit card payments. We felt totally hopeless.
And then I realized that other families do this all the time, they live off one paycheck and far less than what we have. There were people coming out of debt and finding a manageable lifestyle within their means that I could look to as an example. So I started looking up budget solutions because I felt like there had to be a book or something that could help us figure out how to do this. Then one night we were in Barnes and Nobel and I asked Sterling if we could go to the financial section and SMACK. Right in front of us was Dave Ramsey’s whole collection of books including “The Total Money Makeover – A proven plan for financial fitness“. I thought well geez looks interesting so we sat down in the aisle of Barnes and Nobel and skimmed it.
The book is funny! And honest! And it gave real step by step plans for how to live in our means, get out of debt and save for our future to live like no-one else. I looked to Sterling and said – “I think this could really help us – I think we should buy this, both read it and try his plan”. He was a little hesitant at first because Sterling doesn’t like gimmicks and neither of us was sure if what Dave Ramsey said would really work, but we thought – “Well… it can’t hurt” and we bought the book.
This decision has changed our lives.
I don’t really mean to be dramatic but I seriously know that this book, this plan and this moment in Barnes and Nobel was an answered prayer and one that has changed not only the past year, but our future. Why? Because we have a plan. A plan for how to save, how to use our money down to the penny, how to get out of debt and make money work for us. It hasn’t been perfect but it’s been good. The best, and I mean BEST part about this has been the peace of mind that this has made us feel.
Dave Ramsey’s plan taught us simple little truths and challenged our lifestyle so that we could pay off our wedding ring payment, two credit cards, a $25000 car loan and make long term plans for student loans and retirement. Here’s some basics of how this happened for us but for the whole Dave Ramsey plan I HIGHLY recommend reading his book.
FIRST: We reviewed past statements
The first step for us was going through and looking at old bank statements to see where we were spending money and what things we could cut. This also helped us see where we were wasting money and what kind of budget we needed for things like food. We realized we were spending and wasting a lot of money on eating out and food when we could have been making food at home.
SECOND: We downsized
Soon after starting this path we knew we could not afford our current rent and needed to downsize. So we went to the leasing office and changed our lease over to a one bedroom. Our new tiny (but affordable) space didn’t have enough room for our things so we had to make cuts. We gave away a good 1/3 of our stuff to Goodwill, packed and stored another third in friends and families attics, basements and sheds and moved into a teeny tiny (but affordable) space. This step was hard because we had to change from a lifestyle of saying yes to fun things with friends and things we wanted to only working with things we needed. Our friends were amazing and people who knew the story were really supportive but it was hard explaining our choices to people on the periphery. I actually had someone, after telling them we were downsizing, look at me and go “What are you BROKE or something?!” Ow. If you’re choosing to get financial freedom and make good decisions for your family, these comments might/probably will happen but don’t let it get to you. While last year that comment really hurt my feelings, now I can shrug it off because we’re in a much better place!
THIRD: Mapped out a CASH budget
After we looked at the old statements we sat down with a google spreadsheet and mapped out all the money coming in, all the money that HAD to go out for bills, food etc. and then what was left over. We cut our food budget down to $75 a week which meant we couldn’t eat out like we used to. As per Dave Ramsey’s suggestion, we would sit down together each month and make the budget together with honest conversations about what we needed, wanted and could live without. We took out CASH for each of these budgets and put them in envelopes for each week. This helped a TON because we had to use only that amount of cash and when it was gone – it was gone. We started grocery shopping at discount places like ALDI and Lidl and found that we saved SO MUCH money and the food was just as good! We started seeing that this strict budget was actually not as uncomfortable as we thought and we still had a fine lifestyle – we could have even sacrificed more.
FOURTH: DUMPED into Debt!
All the rest of the money that was left over after our cash budget and bills, we DUMPED into our debt. Last spring when we just had one paycheck had nothing extra and could only pay minimum payments. But when we moved up to Baltimore and transitioned back to two paychecks we kept our same strict budget from before and had a lot left over to dump into debt. This is what helped us pay off our credit cards, ring payments, and our car in just 18 months. When our income shifted back to a higher rate – we could have easily increased our fun but being on the strict Dave Ramsey plan taught us that we really didn’t need to – we still had plenty of fun living in our means while dumping down on our debt. Last year before reading Dave Ramsey’s book – I never would have imagined that we could pay off all this debt so quickly. NEVER. I never would have believed that we had excess to put towards debt. But we did. We just never realized it because we didn’t force ourselves to make sacrifices and live within our means.
So where are we now!? Now we are at a place where we only have student loans left (which we are kind of treating like a mortgage) and are able to save for a down payment for a house one day and any other emergencies that might come up. We feel way more in control over our money and where it’s going in our future. Just the freedom of feeling more in control over our money has made a HUGE difference in our lives. We feel so blessed and are so grateful to be moving forward in the Dave Ramsey plan! We are moving on to baby step 3 and are SO EXCITED!
If you’re in a place like we were last year I highly recommend checking out Dave Ramsey’s resources. The reality is though that there are a lot of resources out there can help. Dave Ramsey really helped us but in all honesty, it was US that had to do the hard work. Just mapping out our budget, telling our money where to go and taking out cash was a huge step forward for us. Then when we started cutting things we didn’t need – it started to change our mindset, we didn’t need all this stuff. Here is a blank copy of the spreadsheet we use to budget – feel free to make a copy of it and adapt it if you want. If it doesn’t make any sense you can always reach out and I’ll explain how I formulated everything – sometimes it takes a little tweaking. 🙂
This session was the perfect POP of spring colors and fun! Christina is a sorority sister of mine and I realized as I was driving down to DC that hadn’t seen her since we graduated! CRAZY! Last time we were together we were dancing about to pop hits of 2010 and jumping about in general 22-year-old excitement for life. Now she is married with a 1-year-old little boy – Lincoln!
As I drove down to DC on Saturday morning I was a little nervous… it had rained the whole night before and was still overcast and drizzling. I kept looking at the sky saying “Common now – you need to break up these clouds for me”. Sure enough, as I got closer and closer to the location the clouds started to move apart and let that sunshine come through. The day turned out even better than I could have imagined – bright sun, 75 degrees and simply beautiful! Read More »
Two weekends ago we set out to throw Sterling a surprise 30th birthday party and we well… sort of succeeded :). We ended up having to tell him that we were throwing him a birthday party which is a long story BUT we didn’t have to tell him any of the details! The nice part was that once he knew there was a party I no longer had to sneak around hiding things. For instance, I originally planned on telling him that I was going to Richmond for a newborn session but really I was going to go to my parents, buy the food with them on Friday afternoon and cook it all there Friday night. Once he found out though I was able to get all the food when it was convenient and cook it at my own pace at home. HUGE load off! Read More »
Chris and Julia in college were the friends that everyone just loved being around! They were always willing to hang out and are so easy going that being around them is easy fun! What I mean by “easy fun” is that friend that it’s easy to have fun with, no matter what. These friends are GOLD! You can slip right into great conversations, instant giggles and making new memories without having to rely on just the nostalgia. Not all friends are like this you know? Some friendships for better or worse are a little more work and require a little more effort getting back into. But Julia and Chris? Not so! They are the old friends who you want in your life always!
So getting to hang out with Jackson, the combination of these two amazing, fun and genuinely kind people, was a dream! It’s cool to see what aspects of each of them he has and also how their natural parenting style has impacted his personality as well. Because they lived abroad for some time and traveled a lot with him he is the easiest going kid around! He was a little shy at first but then soon after, warmed up and wanted to explore and talk and learn new things. He is sweet and thoughtful like his parents and curious but cautious too. As we walked around he was immediately interested in the wildlife around and wanted to explore, all while with an air of “easy does it”.
We spent our first of three milestone sessions together at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg, Virginia. It was my first time there and I was VERY impressed! It is a huge park with a ton of space and areas to take pictures. I can only imagine what it’s like in the Spring and Fall when everything is in bloom or crisp with color. The nice part about this park was that since there was so much open space we had plenty of privacy and were never bothered by others. We spent our session together walking around the park talking and avoiding the serious gusts of wind that blew by. As we finished up we found a small little playground and stopped to play, a great way to end an already awesome time together! Jackson was such a ham as he played! He’d sing “The Wheels on the Bus” as he pretended to drive a school bus, put his hands up to slide down the swirly slide and cautiously took risks like climbing up one of the wiggle walls (not the official term). We had a blast!
Below are some of my favorites from our first session together! The next time we meet for a session I’ll be meeting their new baby Ryan!
It’s finally time to announce Mommy and Me Minis! ::HAPPY DANCE!:: This is my second year in a row doing these fun spring minis and I love it! Last year I opened up only a few slots seeing as it was my first time hosting them and they sold out within a week! I’ve already had people reaching out to get on the list for this year’s sessions! I’ve got a total of 16 slots available and I’m hoping to fill up as many as possible while in Richmond! Read More »
— Richmond, Virginia – Softball Senior Portraits —
I have to admit I’m a bit embarrassed it’s taken me this long to get these images onto my blog – especially because they are seriously BEAUTIFUL! Maddie was one of my students in 7th grade and now is a senior, I seriously can’t believe it! All my students that I taught are now in high school or college and it is kind of wild to see them all grown up. Maddie may be taller and older but she is just as kind, smart and humble as she was back in Middle School. She is incredibly talented too! She has committed to play softball at George Mason next year!Read More »
My March was so ambitious and I’ll be honest with planning Sterling’s surprise birthday party and some family illness I got barely anything on my main to do list done. (UGH) but all things said and done I did accomplish a lot, it may not have been things like working out consistently which was on my to-do list but it was successful.Read More »