Saturday, March 19, 2011

An Update on #17

I couldn't be more proud for Stephen and I. It's amazing to see our checking, savings, and emergency savings all healthy again. In such a short time, our emergency savings is back in the double digits and we're only $3,000 away from reaching our goal. When we reach that magic number we can stop putting every penny into the account and begin focusing on our investing.

We were trying to do both, and then remembered that Dave Ramsey said this:
1. Have $1000 in your savings- finally we do, after some ups and downs
2. Pay off all debt except your house - Thankfully we could skip this step. Although I am still paying off Christmas and now a large car repair.
3. Save for 3-6 months of expenses in your emergency savings account.
4. Invest

See, we were trying to invest and build our emergency savings at the same time. It just wasn't working out. So we decided to take all the money that was just sitting in our stock account and move it to our emergency fund. BAM! That much closer to our goal! Then we took our tax refund and put that towards our goal and BAM! That much closer!

It really is so exciting to see how we've come full circ
le...and it's all our own money. I'd say about 2.5 years ago, our emergency savings was in the double digits. But, almost half of that was our home buyer credit, that we'd have to pay back. Fortunately half of that went to our lovely new bathroom.
And since then, I've been unemployed working some temp jobs here and there. It was rough, but I'm really glad for most of that time I was at least bringing in a measly weekly paycheck.

And we also spent nearly $10,000+ on our trip to South Africa.
Now, here we are not even a year later back from our trip and we're so close to reaching all our financial goals. It's hard to put it into words just how proud of us I am. Every time I look at our trip to SA, I get all warm and fuzzy and think "wow...we actually did it. We actually went there."

Here are some ways that we saved money:
1. Cut out cable
2. Program your thermostat
3. Turn the water pressure down when taking a shower to use less water - this one is hard for me and I hardly ever remember
4. Use coupons
5. Plan meals so you don't eat out as much and have to go to the store alot
6. Look at your budget and see exactly how much money you spend on things, see where you can cut back, then with that money you can save...
7. Set up a direct transfer to your savings account- probably the best thing we did
8. Don't buy anything new for awhile
9. Don't get discouraged.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The ever evolving flower garden

This is what our front garden looked like when we bought. Huge, overgrown, oddly placed bushes, along with some moderately sized rocks. At first I thought it was great. I thought it was really nice landscaping. Then I lived with it for a year and couldn't wait to tear it out and do something more practical, colorful, and balanced.

There used to be another yellow green bush right where the impatiens are that I took out. That year, the impatiens did fairly well there. However, they did get quite a bit of sun and suffered towards the end of the summer.

Fast forward to this past summer and we obviously tore out everything. Even the huge crepe myrtle and replaced it with a smaller one that we can prune to a nice tree look. If we live here that long. The overall look of the garden is still evolving though. It is quite large and hard to imagine it all filled up with mature perennials because everything is still so new, only about a year old. I have found though, that the impatiens are forever going to live in that little but long space against the the shade. One little plant mounded up to about 3' wide last year. It was fantastic. We have some great wildflower looking plants that should show off a bit this year like, coreopsis, echinacea, and blue daisy.

This spring we moved a couple of things. We moved one boxwood tree down about 4' and moved our hydrangea to the boxwoods' old home. It will really be in the shade then, and hopefully will bloom this year and not get scorch

And this year, we decided to get rid of our dwarf alberta spruce tree and replace it with something more tolerant of our summer heat. I loved this little tree because it would have filled out the space, and provided a great evergre
en look year round. However, as you can see, the little bit of sun it got, and our summer heat took it's toll. Another year of the same, and the tree was just not going to make it.

We have until the end of march to take it back to TLC and exchange it for something better. So we're on the lookout.

We were drawn to these two plants:

Purple Lilac

Golden Forsythia

I love the bright yellow, and the lilac is so pretty. However, we think these two plants will compete with the rose that is in close proximity, and they are not year round evergreens or very tree like. So...we're going to look some more this week.