Our Debt, Our Budget

There is a great post on Serving Joyfully called “Our Frugal Budget“.In it, Crystal outlines her family’s budget and plan to get out of debt. And they did!

These are our debts:

Bank Loan $4,428.65
Credit Card $10,423.21
Student Loans $2,279.54
Mortgage $289,380.03
Car Loan $15,517.49

That’s a total of $322,028.90. Very debt. Much ouch.

Expenses:

CABLE INTERNET $70
CAR INSURANCE $270
LIFE INSURANCE $15
ELECTRIC/GAS $150
NETFLIX $12
CELL PHONES $100
CHARITABLE $50
WATER/SEWER $100
TRASH/RECYCLE $50
GROCERIES $500
HOUSEHOLD $200
CAT MONEY $400
GAS MONEY/CAR FUND $400
ENTERTAINMENT SUBSCRIPTION $40
DEBT: STUDENT LOAN $250
DEBT: CREDIT CARD $475
DEBT: MORTGAGE, etc. $2,200
DEBT: BANK LOAN $125
DEBT: CAR LOAN $400
TOTAL LIVING EXPENSES: $5,807

Okay. That’s about $300 total LESS than we bring home in a month. And we’re grateful to have vision, medical, dental, and a retirement plan–okay, okay, 401Ks. But still.

By using $200 from that remainder, we can literally have everything paid off (except the house) in two years or less. While we could try to cut more, it wouldn’t do much to decrease our debt load. I did the numbers one day and decided no, we really do need hot water and refrigeration and a cable modem. We could try to get additional jobs, but I’m salaried and technically always on call; the Atheist is on call one week per month, and his health isn’t supportive of him working more than full time. We aren’t willing to nuke our standard of living so much in order to pay a teensy bit more to debts.

Yes, I know that makes us one of those “high income” families with debt. But let me tell you something…Seattle metro area = super expensive. Our income combined is like $58,000 in St. Louis, MO. We do have circumstances keeping us in the area and in our house, so we can’t follow the advice of others to “just move to a cheaper area and get a different high paying job”. And as for selling our stuff? Yeah…not much here most folks would be interested in buying…we certainly didn’t get into debt by buying high end toys we can sell on Craigslist.

Salt Dough – with or without cinnamon

Have you ever found yourself wanting to make something really cool for a weekend or holiday project? Ever find yourself staring at the prices for things like Sculpey at the crafts-n-hobbies stores and wondering how you could afford to buy that AND eat for the rest of the month?

Want to be crafty, save money, *and* have fun? Why not try a salt dough project?

Salt dough is pretty cool. You can make ornaments or even awesome little sugar skulls from it! Sure, preschoolers love it too, and it’s generally safe for the cats to be around.

The runes in my header are made from cinnamon salt dough.

BASIC RECIPE – SALT DOUGH
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup very hot water

Heat water til very hot; mix with flour and salt.

VARIATION: CINNAMON SALT DOUGH
Add 1 Tbsp cinnamon to your dough.

CURING SALT DOUGH
Bake at 250 degrees until fully dry. Or, stick in your dehydrator for 24 hours. Or just let your creations air dry on baking racks.

What can you do with salt dough? (Other than keep more of your hard earned money while still having fun doing crafts?)

  • Use cookie cutters and paint or glitter; make beautiful ornaments
  • Make inexpensive wreaths
  • Make inexpensive keepsakes (baby’s footprint, anyone?)
  • Roll out into lozenge shapes and make your own set of runes
  • Make beads
  • Make dolls
  • Make figurines
  • Use smaller cookie cutters and make place tags for dinner parties
  • Gift tags for holiday or birthday gifts
  • Create alphabet or counting tiles for kids to play with and learn
  • Make play food for fashion dolls or a faerie garden

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