Monday, March 3, 2014

Getting Out of Current Debt: What Has Left Us and What Remains!

It has been quite some time since I have worked on this series. I can not tell you why except that I have been spending most of my time with my children. Since I went on a hiatus for a while I had quite a few ask if I can update. So on this snowy March morning with everyone including the husband home... Sure!

To recap we had a rather big list to get through. Unfortunately we did not get to all as we had hoped. We had one vehicle needing new tires and this year the bill seems to be all on me with dental work.Trust me I wish it was not! I have to say I absolutely love how dental insurance does not cover most of the dental work. At this point I could go on and on about dental insurance but I will spare everyone.

On the other hand we are very happy in what we did get accomplished!

If you  remember back we were trying to pay down several things:

Mr. Knight's credit card: The highest balance ever on it was $17,500.00. Oh yes it is PAID! Saves $350/month or $4200/yr!

My car! I finally called them last week and paid it entirely off! PAID! Saves $155/month or $1860/yr! 

* Along with paying off my car we had the insurance dropped from full collision to liability. That went from $104/month down to a whole $25! Saves $948/yr!

All in all by paying off these things we are now saving $579 per month or over $7,000 year! 

* We also paid off some medical collections that would still have an impact over the next year or so. They were mine from long, long time ago when I did not have insurance. So that section of my credit is cleared up yay! 

What we are still working on: 

The Military Star Card. We really wanted to pay this down. It is not a big deal, it is not at it's maximum but it is over our 35% ratio that we do not want. We have been paying on it monthly. 

My Student Loan. I am going to start paying on this again in April. Once again not a huge deal just wanting to pay it off! 

You will see these balances and payments because I have decided to continue showing our progress. In addition I will be adding new things like savings and vacation funds. This year should be very interesting! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

100 Point Jump!


We are waiting to move into our new home. Fortunately this is not a problem with our builder. Our house is sort of on "hold" or laughingly maybe even considered on layaway. He is taking his time on it which we actually don't mind. It is sort of a favor whereas we are more on a friend basis than just a customer off of the street. We wanted a larger home on a larger lot even if it took more time. Someplace where the kids can run around in the yard and we don't have to worry. So our home is not located where most of the military families are at. We are out of town and really out in the country. So it takes time for a builder to go back and forth. This town is very large. We get it and I am a now-now person to the max. I can not tell you how hard it is on me but I am dealing.

I am also learning the process of co-investing into rental properties. I can not tell you how much I love the current home I am on the board with. I want it for myself! The interior is just beautiful. But it doesn't have the yard that we are looking for. Bye-bye house :(

We are seriously waiting on our own home for several reasons. When my husband and I got together his credit was excellent. Anyone would give him what he wanted in a matter of minutes. I saw just exactly that when we went to get my first car. Could I have walked away with a brand new car then? Absolutely! But I didn't want to put him in that kind of bind because he was my co-signor and we were just starting off. I had been in a relationship before in which brand new cars were the must and frankly I was sick of living that lie. I did not want to regret it later.

The past few years we have worked not only on establishing good credit but getting mine up to par as well. Of course this is not an easy task. Our income is limited and we have how many kids? But today I can clearly say that my credit is pretty good and that is coming from somebody 6 years ago that had a big fat zero score and miscellaneous medical bills. I didn't have medical insurance back then and it surely showed. Every case of pharyngitis I was at a med stop or the ER. It was a horrible learning experience with me. Although medical bills can be brushed off if not too extreme they surely do not help either.

I learned from those mistakes though. I realized I needed to change my entire lifestyle and I did even if it was painstakingly slow. Yes, painstakingly slow!

Along with Mr. Knight helping me and helping out one of his friends way back when he did take a hit on his own credit. It happens in life. Sometimes we fall off of the ladder a little and have to learn to get back up. Things happen. Cars maybe break. Jobs change. Rentals are changed. Homes come and go. The military moves us all around. It is a matter of life.

So a credit report is not the only thing to totally rely on but it does help to have it "together" on paper. We have really tried not to run out and get formal credit cards. In fact I have never owned one or I think ever applied for one that is unsecured. We only deal with secured credit cards. Our own money so if its there it is there by our own will.

By doing this not only has my credit improved greatly but Mr. Knight's did a 100 point jump in a matter of weeks with his excellent status reinstated! That is really unheard of. Usually it takes a while for it to even show. I can not tell you how thrilled he was the other day when I showed him the paperwork I received on it. I thought he was about to do back flips in our living room! I know he feels a lot better now and it is about to continue further. We are about to pay off all of our major bills. A month from now I should be back here announcing things are even better!

It has taken a while but we are really on track and I believe getting really close to locking in our interest rate on our home. Every day I continue to pack boxes and sort through things. Our oldest kids know we are moving to something better. Every day we talk about it. Patience is very hard for me but I know I have learned more in 6 years than I have my whole life and I continue to learn especially in finances. I have learned to go through mistakes and learn from them and make it better!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tare's Projects: Rustic Antique Blue Farm Table!

I have been so busy! With the new baby and our other children and we are getting very close to Christmas it is ever overwhelming! There are so many projects I want to do and can only get to a couple. I do want to share one recent main one...

Old Breakfast Table
Remember my glass breakfast table? Yeah...
After lets say 5 or so years and moving from Georgia to coasstal Virginia to Tennessee the glass top decided to slide right off of the table one day along with my three year old son.
Luckily Keagan was alright with just a few really small scratches. My glass top on the other hand shattered into pieces everywhere :(
It was really surprising because the glass is super heavy and the table had a wrought iron bottom. It was a solid piece of furniture. All we can gather is that Keagan was leaning on it. He does that from time to time.
In other words.. there went my beautiful table!
So we had to of course make up a plan to get a new table. We couldn't go a long time without a table for the kids to eat on.
Since my table was gone I finally convinced Mr. Knight that it was time to work on the farm table project I have been wanting to do for a long time. He couldn't say no this time!
My Early Christmas Present...
A while back I talked about how I viewed this home in Jacksonville, Florida. How much I loved it right down to the kids running around in it. Well they had this beautiful refinished dining room table that they had purchased at an antique store. They sent it to have it redone in an antique blue stain. I had never seen anything like it and have had my eye on doing something similar ever since. Even though I couldn't go out and buy an antique table just like it without spending an arm and a leg and maybe even another arm, I knew I could make a farm table and do it in blue! I was on a mission...
We went to Lowes and bought the legs already premade. They cost about $25 each.
We also bought a sheet of untreated oak and of course I knew I needed something for the design of the top of the table. I searched and searched. I even looked in flooring and even slate tile but I knew that I wanted to do a stain with wood.
What did I choose?
How about the v-groove boards in wainscoting!
That's right. I knew I could make a solid table without the Kreg jig that seems to be the rave right now. Nothing against it but seriously I was not going to spend another $100 or more on top of what I was already buying to make the table. I might maybe invest in one later on down the road with my further woodworking projects. I do have my husband at home that is plenty able to drive screws with a drill. There was no need for a Kreg jig.
So our tools required a circular saw and a drill. Materials were the table legs, sheet of oak, 2 packs of V-groove wainscoting, strong wood glue, wood screws and oh yeah the stain! Guess what I used for the stain...
How about exterior/interior blue stain from Minwax. It is found in the exterior aisle like for staining decks and railings. (Have to have the people mix it)
Oh yes and Polyurethane to seal it!
The legs and wood material cost approximately $170.00. That's right a table that would cost at least $1,000.00 in a furniture store I made for way less!
Sanding the oak
Mr. Knight countersunk all of the screws into the sheet of oak. I took the liberty of sanding it down with my power sander. We do have four children and their little hands can get easily hurt with splinters. We had to make sure everything was smooth and round.
I went ahead and stained everything... the legs and even the bottom of the top.  I let it sit for a day or two and then started to attach the wainsotting to the top. I loved the idea of having the screws show. I just countersunk them a little so my kids don't get hurt on them.
As you can tell here I was using weight while attaching the wainscoting and my children already took it upon themselves to start using the table!
I wood glued the bottom of the wainscoting boards and screws through the top to give it that real rustic feel. Laughingly I did have a nice C-clamp but Mr. Knight decided to use it on a project of his and he broke it yes that very morning! I was not too thrilled but I wanted to press on.
The table all done with the blue antique stain!
We decided to keep our fairly new Parson chairs. We need two more but I am really thinking maybe to get the last two in a pattern instead of the leather to make the table really unique. We will see and I will definitely update when I have them.
Close up of the top
All in all it was a fairly simple project. Like I said we tried not to make it complicated. Farm tables are suppose to be about simplicity and being homemade. I can tell you that it is quite sturdy and even I was impressed. Did I do this?
Don't be afraid to try something different. We truly love our new table and I know it will look great in our new home!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pumpkin Farms... Oh My!

Mr. Knight and I with our 4 children: Sean, Keagan, Marina and Fallan!
October was crazy! Normally... yes I say normally... we are just now finding out that we are pregnant or trying to get pregnant whenever an October rolls through. They do usually say October is when there is something up in the water! But this October we actually had a baby and that was Fallan. As I sit here and write this he is a few days from being a month old! Like what?
With all of our craziness, one would think that we would not be able to do any extra trips or activities. Well you are dead wrong! We seem to be out and about quite more since Mr. Knight has left his extra part time job and we are working on our new home. We figured out a way to keep him involved with the family without sacrificing him anymore. Don't worry the bills are getting paid! I will discuss it all probably in the next post I get around to.

This post is more special than just finances. It's about the little things in a child's life:


It's about letting the oldest one go on his class trip even if it not even 24 hours after having a baby. Even if it means giving up the husband for a few hours to make it happen....

With multiple children it means another school trip and another day the husband is gone...
With younger children it means not excluding them and scheduling their own time too!
And when it is all over guess who carries all of those pumpkins?
3 Pumpkin farm trips this time around. Our kids are happy and there are still pumpkins everywhere. I can just imagine the next October!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

From The Beginning With Fallan

Fallan and I
There are situations and things in life that seem like the world is against you.
I lost my Mom way too early in life. At my age of 32 most women rely on their moms to help. Maybe help for a wedding or help when becoming a new mom.
Fortunately I did have three children while she was here and she actually was able to spend some time especially with our daughter Marina. To tell you the truth she had to because I had lost most of my functionality. I was going through a severe combined depression.
At that time I had just had Marina and had a wide range of emotions on if I was even capable of taking care of a girl. People tell me that I went through Postpartum and people only thought to throw medication at me.
Mr. Knight deployed to Afghanistan.
I lived away from everyone thanks to where we are stationed at.
I knew my mom was dying. My medical education and experience further told me so while I am pretty sure everyone else was in denial.
No one understood.
One day I wound up in the ER for an emergency surgery on my kidneys. I ended up having surgery twice and it took a while to recover. Everything went downhill from there.
I went through a hard time right around this time last year and by December I had lost my Mom. Mr. Knight was ordered back home to help me.
Everything shifted.
And then I found out I was pregnant again. I felt that I was nowhere near ready and I cried for weeks.  I didn't tell anyone for a long time.
I lost a "friend" over it. Well looking back I don't think she was much of a friend. She didn't understand why I wasn't happy. Maybe because of everything around me?
And then one day I learned to refocus and life got easier again and I accepted that no matter what people say or think and just because I don't have only one or two children doesn't make me less of a Mom.
People around here have this most annoying saying "Wow, you have your hands full."
I feel like saying no I don't I just have my keys in my hand...
People don't understand.
I'd rather have a full life than a half empty one or as Mr. Knight says he doesn't have to be sorry because he loves his wife.
1,2,4,10 or 20... who has the right to judge?
One day I got over the comments and worrying about what others thought. One day I woke up happy to be pregnant and I refocused on my life. Not anyone else's.
Now I look and see that Fallan is a miracle and a gift. All the things I was looking for in others that I couldn't find they are all right here in him. They are also in Marina and in Keagan and in Sean.
So much has happened in the past year...
Fallan coming home from the hospital

Marina at home
Keagan's first day of preschool
Sean doing his homework
Sean, Keagan and Marina
Hiking trip
Day at the park
Sean and Keagan
Trip to New York
Fallan in the hospital
Keagan waiting for Sean to get off of the bus
Fall family picture
We are going to be okay...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tare's Projects: Fallan's $15 Dresser!


I have been so behind on posting my projects and so what better time than right now to share one of them!

We are days away from having our fourth child and third boy. With that comes more of a need for bedrooms and more of a need for furniture. Knowing myself as a huge budgeter and project master, I took on an enormous task. That is finding a dresser for Fallan on the cheap!

The captain's bedroom set waiting to go into the house we had received for free from past neighbors

In past years or the early years I should say, we didn't have the money to afford to go out and buy a brand new dresser at a high end furniture store. I had to learn how to make things work with trial and error. I know with Sean's first dresser we had a $40 Walmart brand. Yeah as you might have known they are not the best dressers with the best drawer bottoms. It didn't last too long. Fortunately at the time we lived in a nice neighborhood and a neighbor down the road gave us a huge and may I say heavy bedroom set. It contained the captain's bed and all for free! Although it is a pain in the you know what to move every time we do PCS or move somewhere, it gives my husband and any moving men or helpers great exercise! In other words it is a well made, solid piece along with the dresser. If it falls apart the whole world might as well. It has so much storage that Sean has moved on into a loft bed but has kept the dresser whereas Keagan has taken the bed but has drawers under his bed. It eliminated the need to go out and buy another dresser.

Marina's dresser

With our daughter Marina we did spoil her and right at tax time we had money left over to actually afford something nice. We chose for her the Ashley Cottage Retreat dresser from their collection and had it delivered. It has been a great dresser so far and we love it! It was worth the money that is for sure. We plan to buy her the matching bed as well.

Now we are onto Fallan and getting the remainder of the bills paid off at the same time. Although I would love to go out and buy a dresser like we did with Marina, we just can't. We have to think priorities and what will be best in the long run but I also didn't want to give up and once again get the cheapest dresser to fall apart the next day. I did want some type of quality and was willing to take the time to refinish it or restore it.

We live in a large town. So much in fact it is now second on the list of fastest growing town in the United States! When we first moved here two years ago, I hated it. I didn't see much to it nor that many people. Now that I have had the chance to really look around and see things grow I am becoming impressed. Still not a choice on my list to willingly live but it is not that bad. Like Mr. Knight says over and over it could be worse, we could be at a place like Fort Polk.

With a larger town comes more people and with more people comes more yard sales, thrift shops..  you name it. I regularly view several online yard sale sites and happened one day to come across one with a Bassett Lane dresser for $15! Like everyone I thought what is wrong with it? Is it severely damaged or is it cheaply made? I was really looking for something made with real wood and not laminate. In the description it said real wood. It was scratched up from having a tv on it and apparently in a kid's room. I immediately told the person I will take it and my husband will be on his way soon with his SUV to get it! I was so lucky because after I said I was going to get it like 10 other people were calling this person up. We had to rush over and pick it up.

Fallan's dresser in the original ad

We were glad though because when we brought it home it did only have top surface scratch marks. It was real wood! Originally an office piece with what looks like would be a large filing drawer, I saw huge potential to make it a dresser. Thanks to online ideas Mr. Knight and I headed out to the store and bought a tension rod to make a clothes hangar at the top. I also brought home stain that matched the previous color. I knew it would work well with the crib we had previously brought home.

Dresser in the middle of sanding and refinishing

I spent a few days sanding the dresser down just enough to get the surface marks off. I do have an electric sander but I felt like it was too much for a few scratches so I sanded by hand. I then restained it. Our neighbors who were living here at the time saw what I was doing and said "Geez you are always working on some type of project." Yeah that is me! If I am not then my husband or friends know something is wrong. I have got to keep busy.

Fallan's dresser mostly done except for one handle

But yes I redid the dresser and sealed it. Here it is so far. It is sitting in Marina's room until our full move into our new home. I have to get one screw at the hardware store still which while I am thinking about it I need to do that today! It was missing on one of the handles when we brought it home. Not the handle itself just was off of it. No big deal. Other than that it is together and is a nice piece of furniture for our home. So much in fact Mr. Knight asked if he could have it once Fallan has outgrown it. Apparently he wants to put it in his own office in our new home.

Can we say multi-functional too?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Soul Writing Sunday: A Memory of Home While In Afghanistan

I am tired! I have been interviewing today. Yes I know on a Sunday but it is for a sitter for the children. I only have a very limited window to do this. I shouldn't have procrastinated! This is an ongoing position though so we are really looking for someone we have confidence in. It is taking some time because the husband wants someone like me. I am nowhere near perfect, let me make that clear, but I don't scream or manhandle our children or even ones I have watched myself.

We need someone we can have confidence in. I truly do not leave my children with anyone.

I am overwhelmed with everything else as well. Relaxing during this pregnancy is a joke even though Mr. Knight does his best. He literally points to the bedroom and says "go" when I start having a total children/life meltdown. I hibernate to our bathtub.

This morning he made me stay in bed with him till 10am. I mean stay as in he had one arm around me and forced me to lay on his chest. I couldn't move! I thought the kids would be so upset. I wasn't up to make breakfast, to tell them to do this or that or let them go outside for morning play. It is so funny what we think and what really happens in life. Marina slept right through the morning and didn't care and the boys played on the Wii and didn't come to the bedroom door till yes 10am. Mr. Knight stood on the other side of the door and attacked them with a pillow when they entered.

Our house is something else!

The thing is...

They were all alright while I was held captive to relax.

Okay well I didn't put up too much of a fight...

Okay my husband is incredibly strong. I learned that a long time ago and have never physically challenged it to the fullest. I know I will lose. About the only man I can ever say that about.

I have to admit this morning was nice!

I have been busy like I said de-cluttering our townhome because I have vowed no junk is going with us. Oh it is never ending!

Yesterday I went through towels. Lately we have had utter destruction with the white ones. I went out and bought nice new red ones which is Mr. Knight's favorite color. I thought why not he loves red, he loves his towels and it is now fall. It all seemed to fit together.

I have also been going through old blankets. Things that need to be replaced. Our mattress has been hurting both of us but it is not that old. I bought the mattress set brand new while we lived in coastal Virginia. So we have decided to go all out and a nice mattress topper and sophisticated pillows for better sleep. We want to redo our entire bedding.

I didn't think when I started to throw some of the blankets out. To me I saw old, used blankets that could be replaced.

I had them in a pile in the foyer for Mr. Knight to take outside. What I saw next I did not see coming...

He came back with tears in his eyes.

Why? Over some blankets?

There was one in particular, it was actually a Christmas present from my mother-in-law and was an Egyptian cotton. It was nice when it was new but Mr. Knight and I have used it the past couple of winters. Religiously. Then it disappeared when he deployed to Afghanistan a year ago along with the nice king size pillows and such from our bed. I did not know till he was gone then I looked at our bed and said wait a minute where did half of our bedding go?

Of course by then it was on a plane with him going to the Middle East the next time I was able to speak to him. He said he wanted it. Okay I thought...

Then it came back on a conex months ago in not the best of shape. Lets just say that Afghanistan is not ocean breezy friendly to anything.

By semi-carelessly throwing away an old blanket we cuddled under and slept under and loved under it made him upset. He cried and said to me the blanket reminded him of me and of home while he was over there. If he wasn't working he had it with him.

I hugged him and told him but he is here and home now. We can get a new blanket just like it and start over.

I know that by offering to get a new one really didn't solve the emotional feeling over the old. I felt bad.

There are memories in life and objects or possessions can bring them up just like that.

There are days I look at our townhouse and I want to scream that I am overwhelmed with things.

Then there are days I look at it and realize there are things that can't go no matter how hard I try. For instance, we have some huge stuffed animal dog in the way because Mr. Knight thought it was the cutest thing to bring it to me for Valentine's Day. The kids then took over on it. Then I wind up tripping over it on a daily basis. I pick him up day after day and then laugh! He is too cute, damn dog...

There are things in life irritating at times, maybe in the way or not working at the moment that we just can't get rid of.

Why? Because of memories.

I learned this weekend it is okay to have these feelings and at times we don't think they do but men actually have more feelings then we want to give them credit for.

At least my man does. He does show his emotions at home and I know he is very grounded. Something hard to find these days. I don't know how I got so lucky to have found it but I am glad that I did. That is a husband with true feelings.