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2014 was an expensive year for us. Our biggest expense was building our cabin. In 2013 we bought 20 acres a few hours away with the plan to eventually build a Tiny House type structure to live in while we slowly, over time, built our permanent home. Then early in 2014 our plans changed and we decided to skip the Tiny House and build a decent sized cabin. While we originally wanted to build entirely for cash because of the quick change in plans we ended up taking out a small line of credit for part of the building expenses. Then at the end of 2014 my oldest daughter was married and we added some of the wedding and travel expenses to attend the wedding on a credit card. So we’re now in a position of having debt that needs to be paid off. And we really want to have it paid off before we move up to the cabin permanently, at the end of summer in 2015.
While we’re needing to pay off the debt, we also need to work on the cabin so it will be ready for us to move in. We’ll be adding a septic system, a small solar system and doing some necessary finish work inside like putting in our wood cookstove and a few walls. And in August we have another wedding so we’ll be putting money aside for it.
Because of all this we will be tightening our belt up real snug. We’re going back to following the principles of Dave Ramsey and using Baby Steps to take care of these debts as outlined in Dave’s book The Total Money Makeover (that’s an affiliate link).
We followed the Baby Step principles and used the envelope system for years with good results. And then we stopped. Why? I have no idea. 😉 We were making more money so maybe thought we didn’t need to be as diligent. But we are certainly noticing a difference in the lack of diligence now. We need a money habit makeover.
Along with following Dave’s principles we’ll also be using ideas from The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (affiliate link) to help stretch our money. I’ve mentioned this book many times in the past and it is definitely one of my favorites. This book is a compilation of newsletters produced from 1990 to 1996.
A few years ago I shared our 13 week rotating menu that featured Stretchy Beans each week. You should expect to see more about Stretchy Beans over the next few months and many of the other frugal recipes I’ve shared in the past. We’ll be going back to focusing on the basics for food and using our food dollars to refill our pantry plus things like our milk share and beef CSA along with seasonal produce. I also hope to share some of our frugal accomplishments and tips along the way. Joe and I were discussing our budget and talking about food. We both remember the 13 weeks of beans (it was actually more like a year of beans) and how we both seemed to be in better health during that time and were both carrying few pounds… So maybe we’ll not only end up financially tightening our belts but also literally!