What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January in Review

I really liked looking back each month last year, to see my progress toward my yearly goals so I thought I would continue with my "Month in Review" posts this year, as I am able. My posts might be more summarizing than specific, but it was a helpful exercise for me and I know at least TWO of you enjoyed reading about them. ;-) So- here I go. January in review.

I purposely did not add "a home project a month" into my goals for 2013-not because I don't WANT to complete a home project a month but because our budget squeaks so loudly that I knew we wouldn't have the funds to DO them.  BUT!  Turns out, January was the month for home projects!

Our upstairs hallway had original wood flooring that was in such bad shape that there were a dozen or so places that old scrap metal was tacked over them that would constantly scrape our feet.  It is a wonder we didn't all get tetanus.  We got pretty good at navigating the floors in the middle of the night in bare feet- but when you missed your mark- boy did it HURT.

We wanted to cover it up but....well, the budget wasn't there.

Then, a few random home renovation conversations over Christmastime resulted in us finding out that a cousin who had redone their floor had a bunch of "old" flooring they were just going to burn and would we like to see if we like it?  Um.  Yes.  ANYTHING is better than metal daggers on your toes.

Turns out, the "old" flooring was in fact GORGEOUS flooring and more than enough to cover our hallway.

Pretty amazing, right?  I love it when God knows your heart and your little insignificant desires (like a new floor) and steps out of the box you have made for Him in order to wow you with wonder.  Like a father who plays dolls with his girls even though that would be the LAST thing he cared about any other time- our Father knows of our stubbed toes and cares about flooring because WE care about flooring and for no other reason.  He is good.

Also, this month Matt did a lot of outdoor barn work.

A LOT seems like an understatement.

Thanks to Matt's hard work earlier this year we had all the supplies to do barn work without all the expense.  He rebuilt an entry going into the barn which he had worked on for a month or two this fall and then resided the whole barn.  He finished the barn projects he had hoped to finish by the end of January.  

Just for giggles- here are the barns when we moved in just over a year ago.


I told you the man is a machine.  :-)

We ALSO had a new circuit box put in our home, the first step in getting a more safe electrical situation for our home.  This was something we had to hire out to do and absolutely necessary to the safety of our home but it did set us back $1500.00.  A perfect segue' into the next area of review.

Finances.  (oh joy.)

This month was not a pretty month for finances We got a surprise tax bill saying "Surprise!  The county decided to assess your home for TWICE the value the assessor gave you when you bought it so you now owe us $2,000.00"  We looked into an appeal but the lawyer basically gave us the "just pay it" shpeal.  SO. 

$3,500.00 worth of bills that I didn't budget for in my CODE ORANGE, zero-balance budget.  That pretty much stinks.  (Another understatement.)   On top of it all, taxes increased making Matt's paycheck smaller than it was.  Another fatal blow to a zero balances budget. 
  •  Give Matt $40.00 per paycheck (because he's earned it, after all.). Did this.
  •  Pay $10,000. toward principal of house (on top of mortgage payments.)   Even with all the unexpected issues, I determined to at the very least to try to fulfill my goal to pay extra toward the mortgage.  If I am able to reach my self-imposed goal of overpaying each month....we will pay off our house in 6 years and save over $16,000 in interest alone.  Talk about incentive.  Paying $10,000 toward principle this year means paying $800.00 per month on top of our mortgage payment.  Which I did!  As we like to say around here...WA-stinkin' HOO.    It is going to be hard, especially with all these "surprises" popping up at every turn but I am hopeful.  (Or naive). 
  • Save $5,000 toward a new van (ours has 130,000 miles on it so a "new" one is inevitable.)    My self-imposed goal of saving $5,000 for a new van means setting aside $500.00 per month but unfortunately, this months' portion (and probably several more months' worth) had (and will have) to go toward the unexpected expenses January brought.   Money has to come from somewhere and sadly, we don't have a golden goose hiding in a closet somewhere.
  • Save $1,000 to put toward investing.  Not this month.  Our tax return will hopefully come in handy here.
To even remotely accomplish the above goals I need to:

  • Reevaluate our budget and spending and completely overhaul it to accommodate our CODE ORANGE, LOCKDOWN status.  :-)  (Yeah.  Smiling NOW.)  I created a Code-Orange LOCKDOWN budget in order to reach our yearly financial goals and I won't sugar-coat it, it isn't pretty.
  • Cut all unnecessary spending.   (ouch.  It hurts already.) I saved all my receipts for the month and looked at all my spending.  I see a few places I can still improve.

  • Invite people over for dinner at least once a month.  This includes people around the community as well as friends and church family. We had company three times this month.  It was lovely.
  •  Reestablish family read-alouds- not this month
  • Begin reading the Classics (using Susan W.Bauer's The Well Educated Mind as a guide.) not this month.
  • Lose 5# a month until I reach my goal weight.  Which, if the "average for my size" goal weight- should be in March; if the "Got Married This Big" goal weight- should be by May.  Well on my way.  My weight comes off very slowly, as I told you yesterday, but I am doing everything it takes so I'll (try to) be patient.
  • Wake up to send Mattie off to work each morning (while conscious) and make him lunches to take with himNot every day but I think I did REALLY well with this.  What do you think Mattie?
  • Take one photo a week finding Beauty.  I was talking to a gal a few months back who said that I often take mundane moments and make them beautiful by photographing them.  I love that about photography- it gets you to see the beauty even when it is hard to find.  But that she had said that about me was more than generous, because I haven't felt like I have done that in ages.  So, this year, I knew a personal photo challenge was in order.  Once a week.  My life IS beautiful- this shouldn't be THAT hard, right?  HA.
  • Get a church website up and running...I am a good halfway done.  It is time consuming and I won't lie- I will be HAPPY when it is over.
  • MAKE something once a month.  Dishcloths were as creative as I could get this month. Maybe I will be more clever next month. 

There were a few more goals but they were more "by the end of the year, I'll _____" type things.  

In summary-
  • I need to tweak the finances for February and try to stay disciplined (AND SANE!) on this very tight budget.
  • I need to get my nose in a book more often!
  • I need to continue with my eating/exercise routine and keep things in the proper perspective.  Healthy eating and exercise is always a good choice- even if my weight is not affected.  And there are a million more important things than weight, anyway.
  • I need to get myself INSPIRED with my camera again, for goodness' sake!!
Overall, though, not a bad start to the year.     


Renata said...

Hi Rebecca
I really enjoyed this post & I have to say your barn & floors look amazing!!! We are also doing up an old farmhouse ( although ours is from the 70's). It all seems to take so very long to get things done. We've been in 5 years & the 'to do' list is still a mile long, but it is nice to look at what has been done & enjoy it ~ it inspires us to keep on as well!!!
I have to compliment you on how well you are doing with everything!
Have a wonderful day

Unknown said...

Wow! That "old" flooring is gorgeous!! I love what you said about God caring about the little things! The barn looks great and you are SOOO organized and motivated with your finances! Amos does ours and I'm not anywhere as good at things as you! I should keep my recipes though and see where I'm wasting money. Great idea!

Oh and I have GOBS more weight than you to loose. But if you think I look great, I'll take it! :D

Boy, that good 'ole USPS is S-L-O-W. Grr.

beth said...

that hallway flooring is wonderful! and I relished your musing about God stepping out of the box "to wow you with wonder" - lovely. and indeed He did. and does.

I relished the entire post, in fact, as I do them all - so enjoy what you share and am ever inspired!

- beth
(a.k.a. 'b in va' - but I'll be writing out my actual name from now on, as it occurred to me when I read 'b in va' in your reference to a comment I left in a recent post that that sounds a bit oddly like the closing of a 'dear abby' letter......so hello rebecca, I'm beth - and yes, I'm in virginia)

Jill said...

I loved the post. What beautiful floors. Matt did a fantastic job on the barns. I think it is awesome to see your children right alongside helping. When we moved into our house my children helped with tiling and laying floorboards. I love family projects!

As a side note about finances, I'll bet you could sell some of the beautiful items you posted about for Christmas gifts. I absolutely loved the barn toy, blocks, and chicken purse. I've been trying to think of items that I could make and sell also.

Stay warm.

Stepping in Grace said...

What beautiful floors God blessed you with! I really enjoyed your review of January.

Full of Grace said...

I never saw the floors the other day or I would have oohed and aahed just like I did the barn (which I hope you told Matt about) Our visit was So Wonderful and did my heart good- THANK YOU! :)

Beth said...

Hello Rebecca.

I'm Beth in NC. Wow!! You've got 2 Beths on one post...aren't you lucky? Lol.
I have been a reader of your blog for years but have never commented. I just wanted to tell you that I love your blog and check it daily.
Thank you so much for doing the monthly reviews. I love reading them and it is so encouraging to see the progress you make toward your goals.
We are in a "Code Red" budget at this time since my husband's employer cut all employees back to 4 day work weeks. Reading your posts encourages me in our journey through hard financial times and gives me ideas on how we can manage a little bit better on what we have. Thank you.
I love your new flooring and Matt did a wonderful job with the barn.
Thank you again for taking the time to post.


Jthemilker said...

The floors are pretty and recycled - Win Win! Love the barn work. We have a barn that needs re-sided. Have any tips on finding hemlock at a good price?

Anonymous said...
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Rebecca said...

Renata- ah, I am not alone! :-)

Amy- gobs? You are nutty. N.U.T.T.Y.

Beth- Hi Beth in Virginia. I am Rebecca from Pennsylvania. Is it weird that it makes me happy to know your real name...like I am now part of the inner circle or something? I have always appreciated your comments and your taking the time TO comment, whether as a B or a Beth. Thank you.

Jill- I often think of this and did hope to get my Etsy up and running again. But the problem, I think, is not lack of ideas only lack of opportunity! If ever life slows down a bit (or I become more productive....) maybe you will ACTUALLY see my Etsy shoppe reopen and not just hear me daydreaming about it. :-)

Stepping in Grace- thank you!

Elizabeth- well, Matt still has a tiny strip along one side to do so I didn't show you. Vain? Yes. Surry. And I am glad for the visit too- it was (as always) a pleasure.

Beth #2- yes, I do feel lucky. I also feel like the readers of my blog have some pretty beautiful names. Thank you, Thank you for your comment. I so enjoy getting the feedback. Be on the lookout- I am planning on "talking out loud" about ways I can reduce our spending (and thrive on a very limited grocery budget) very soon. Be ready to share your ideas then too! ;-)

I wish you all the best in your code Red. It is amazing (as with these floors) how God uses our desperate times to show us His Mercies in ways He couldn't otherwise. This year might be the most amazingly, obviously BLESSED year you have ever had! :-)

JtheMilker- Unfortunately, no. My hubby got the hemlock he needed for re-siding the barn from our woods which he hauled out and sawed at his fathers' sawmill. It was tons of work but it didn't cost us anything but sweat. (Lots of sweat.) Maybe try Craigslist?

Rebecca said...

JtheMilker- Matt wants to know where you live? Are you local-ish? Maybe we could work something out.

Jthemilker said...

Rebecca - That's AWESOME that you could sweat out your own siding. Wow! I'm Wendy Valentine's sister. We live north of Pittsburgh. It's a LONG drive out your way. :(

Rebecca said...

THAT'S right! I knew you were somehow connected to a friend of mine- just couldn't remember who!

Thanks for the reminder! I won't forget again.