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We Paid Cash! :: A Car Engine (with a twist)

We paid cash!

A testimony from Meagan

The Background

My husband and I got married young, while we were both still in college. Our first year together married, we lived in a tiny basement apartment that didn’t even have heat, much less a washer or dryer. I began to loathe going to the laundromat, and started daydreaming about being able to someday own my own washer and dryer.

After that first year, we found a new apartment that had hook-ups, and my husband agreed that we could use the summer to save up for a pair of energy-efficient washer and dryers.

How We Did It

My husband got a fantastic internship in a city 1500 miles away from where we went to school, so we spent the summer there, saving money for my dream washer and dryer. We even picked them out and scheduled them to be delivered a week after we were to arrive back at school.

However, on the way back to school, in the middle of a New Mexico highway, our car totally broke down. After spending a night sleeping by the road, my husband and his brother managed to tow our car to a repair shop, where it was determined that the engine was un-fixable and we’d either need to replace it or give up on our car.

We Paid Cash Car Engine

We decided that our best option would be to replace the engine with a refurbished engine. It turned out that the new engine cost only $200 more than the washer and dryer we had been saving for, and we had enough left over from our summer moving budget to make the difference.

This all happened the day before we were to have the washer and dryer delivered, so I canceled the delivery and cried because I was so sad.

The Best Part

I was so bummed about not getting my washer and dryer that my husband suggested looking on Craigslist for something cheaper to use while we saved up for nicer ones.

I found a washer and dryer set for free! The owners didn’t know if they’d work, and they were in pieces, but when we put them together (using a generous amount of duct tape and other odds and ends), they both worked. And it’s been three years and they have still kept going!

We paid cash Care engine with a twist

They are not even close to as nice as what I was hoping for, but they get the job done, even with two kids and cloth diapering. We consider every day our washer keeps running a miracle.

Meagan and her husband Tyler currently live in Little Rock, AR while Tyler attends medical school. Meagan stays home with their two daughters and is having a blast learning how to be a mom.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

Time Management 101: Create a Time Budget (Part 2)

For years, we’ve used a cash envelope system for much of our budgeting. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it basically works like this: We have different envelopes for each area of spending (for instance food, clothing, gifts and so forth) and we have a budgeted amount of cash that we put in them every month. That’s the allotted money we have to spend on clothes and food and gifts and so forth.

Because we have a budget, we know where our money is going, we know how much money we have to spend in each category and we’re able to make sure that we’re spending our money on what matters to us — instead of just letting it pass through our fingers like sand. Having a plan for our money and sticking to the plan gives us peace, allows us to make financial traction and frees us from a lot of worry and stress.

Budgeting our money is a no-brainer for us. But truth be told, I’d never considered how this concept could be applied to my time. To me, time management had always meant trying to find a way to be as productive as possible every day.

I equated busyness with productivity. So I’d have these big, lofty plans and make these detailed schedules, but I’d always crash and burn quickly because I was trying to cram in about 32 hours’ worth of projects into a 24-hour day.
busyness does not equal productivity

When Amy shared the concept of creating a Time Budget with me, it completely revolutionized my life.

I’d never thought to approach my time like I approached my money. Instead of starting with everything I wanted to do in a day and then trying to find a way to fit it all in (it never did because my list was way too long to begin with!), for the first time, I started with the time I had and then divvied up my responsibilities and priorities into time brackets which equaled less than 24 hours.

My Daily Time Budget

30 minutes Bible reading/journaling
1 hour with Jesse
4 hours of homeschooling, reading and playing with the children
1 hour of exercise
30 minutes shower/dress
2 hours cleaning/home management
7 hours sleeping
2 hours meals/meal preparation
4 hours blogging/computer work
2 hours of extra/”margin” time

It probably goes without saying, but I’m going to repeat it anyway: Please remember that this is my time budget which currently works for me in this season of my life. Yours will likely look much different. Do what works for you. Do not pattern your time budget after mine because it won’t work for you. I only share mine as an example, not to encourage you in anyway to emulate it — unless you want to try and get as much (or more!) sleep than I do, okay?

Keys to Success When Making a Time Budget

1. Make Sleep One of Your Highest Priorities

I used to think that burning the midnight oil would make me more productive, but I’ve actually found that I’m much more productive if I get at least seven hours of sleep almost every single night. I’ve found I’m most productive in the mornings so I make it my goal to go to bed by 10 p.m. and get up between 5 and 6 a.m.

You might be the other way around. Do what works best for you, but whatever you do, put getting enough rest high up on your priority list.

You’ll feel better and more energetic and I’d wager to guess that you’ll also find an extra hour or two of sleep at night helps you to be more productive than if you spent that time trying to pry your eyeballs open with toothpicks and get more work done!

2. Deduct at Least Two Hours for “Margin Time”

I know that there is a great temptation to fill up every single waking moment with something, but may I heartily encourage you to include at least two hours of margin time in your budget? It’s sort of like our “blow” category for our cash envelope system; we can use it for those little incidental expenses which come up that we weren’t expecting. Or, we can choose to “blow” it on something fun.

If you have margin built into your time budget, when you have someone knock at the door, or the phone rings, or the baby has a diaper blowout or the washer overflows and there’s water all over the laundry room floor, your whole day didn’t just go down the toilet. Instead, you can just stop what you were doing, deal with the unexpected interruption and then go back to what you were doing — and you know that you still have plenty of time to get everything done you needed to get done!

You know what else I love about including margin in my time budget? It means I have time to stop and really enjoy my children and seize teachable moments with them.

For instance, the other day I discovered a four-foot long black snake in our backyard. If I didn’t know that I had a time cushion in my day, being the Type A person I am, I likely would have just run on to the next task. But instead, I called the girls outside and we spend 45 minutes observing and taking pictures of the snake.

We emailed the pictures to Jesse and he looked up what kind of snake it was and researched more about it so that when he came home from work, he was prepared to give the girls an impromptu “lesson” on our backyard visitor — which they just lapped up and then enjoyed sharing with me and anyone who would listen for the next few days.

If our lives were so packed full that we didn’t have any margin in them, we would daily miss out on fun opportunities like this. Planning margin into our day gives us the freedom to be spontaneous.

3. Be Ruthless About Eliminating the Unnecessary

As Americans, I think we are sometimes addicted to busyness. We always have to be on the go-go-go. And I sometimes think we find fulfillment and self-worth in piling our plates too high. As if, the more busy we are, the more important it makes us feel.

In reality, I think our culture, by and large, is exhausted, overworked and overwhelmed.

What’s the solution? It’s really very simple: just say “no”.

Stop doing things just because you feel obligated to do them by something or someone else. Stop doing things just because you’re afraid of what people might think of you if you don’t do them.

Stop over-committing yourself. Stop letting people manipulate you into a miserable existence. Just say “no”.

Want more step-by-step help in creating a time budget and becoming a better time manager? Be sure to get a copy of Amy’s ebook.

She’s offering it for almost 50% off through midnight tonight (Friday, November 5, 2010) when you use coupon code MoneySavingMom. What she shares in this ebook has revolutionized my life — and brought so much more peace and order to our home!

Beginning Monday, I’ll be sharing more about our daily routine, my homemaking/cleaning systems and, if there’s time, some time management tips for bloggers.

If you have created a time budget, I’d love for you to share yours in the comments section so that we can all be inspired and glean ideas!

48-Hour Giveaway: Organic Pastured Free-Range Turkey and Coconut Oil (two winners)

Do you need to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving? How would you like to try an Organic Pastured Free-Range Turkey — for free?

Well, Tropical Traditions is offering yet another great giveaway for my readers! They are offering the following two Thanksgiving prize packages:

Prize Package #1 contains one Organic Pastured Free-Range Turkey (10-lb.) and one jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil.

Prize Package #2 contains one Organic Pastured Free-Range Turkey (10-lb.) and one jar of Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil

Looking for a simple Roasted Turkey recipe? Watch the short video below to learn how to make an Herb-Roasted Turkey:

As I’ve said before, I’ve been extremely impressed with Tropical Traditions. So many of their products are just fabulous (especially the honey and coconut oil!). Their sales are often very good. And their customer service is amazing!

Want to try out any of the all-natural products from Tropical Traditions? Here’s how to get a deal:

::Sign up for a free shipping coupon — good on any order.

::Sign up for the Tropical Traditions email list to be notified of weekly specials and deals.

::Plus, if you do end up placing an order, select “Referred by a Friend” at checkout and enter User ID: 6071637, and you’ll receive a free copy of the Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil Book.

To enter to win one of these Thanksgiving prize packages, just click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Two winners will be chosen and posted on Monday. This giveaway ends November 6, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

Enter the Giveaway