Living Laughing And Creating

Loving Life On A Budget

1 Month in the RV

Well, we made it through the first month! Time is moving quickly, and we are getting more comfortable in this small living area. We know as winter approaches we will face a whole new set of challenges, but for now we are enjoying the fall weather.

Last weekend, we didn’t really go anywhere. The weather was great, so we enjoyed some time outside. My husband got his model airplane out of storage and flew it around the property.

airplane flying

 

He enjoyed himself until the wind caught it and the airplane got stuck in a tree. After we finally got it down, we decided the airplane would be returning to storage. Then he built us a fire and we enjoyed the cool fall weather.

fire pit

From these pictures, you can see we are dealing with a lot of red dirt. That’s the biggest battle I face on a daily basis….the battle to keep everything clean. When it’s not raining, we stay outside a lot and that makes keeping ourselves, the dogs, and the camper clean a challenge. We are starting to get some nice patches of grass, but it’s still not helping a lot.

Between waiting on inspectors and dealing with a lot of rain, they are a couple days behind at this point. Tuesday an 18 wheeler loaded down with block showed up. He unloaded the truck using a fun three wheeled forklift and set the pallets of block all around the poured footers.

block set out

The crew showed up at 7am the next morning to start working on the foundation.

starting foundation

I was fighting allergies and, even though I wasn’t feeling well, this crew of 9 guys made me feel like such a slacker. By lunchtime, they had over half the foundation done.

finished section of foundation

By the time I got home from work, they were gone and we had a completed foundation. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture on my phone. We have tons on the camera, but I haven’t learned how to pull pictures off the new camera yet.

The next day, nothing got done simply because we were waiting on the county inspector. He decided to show up about 7pm.

Friday our builder was waiting on lumber to be delivered, so basically the only thing that got done last week was the foundation. We finally got to close on our loan Friday as well.

In other news, with all the traffic in and out the driveway I was searching for a way for my dogs to play safely. I found a nice nearby kennel that offers doggie day care. My husband prefers to call it “day kenneling.” We needed somewhere just in case we needed to board them anyway, so I took them to be evaluated and see how they would respond. After our closing, we went to pick them up. I was relieved to hear they had shown no form of aggression towards any of the dogs they put in the yard with them! I really wasn’t sure how Daisy would do, but I was very proud of her for behaving herself. Evidently they had fun, because they passed out time they got home and slept all night. This will be a great option for days when I’m busy and need them to have exercise and they get to socialize with other dogs. Now I just need to find somewhere to get them a bath that’s reasonably priced.

We had a fun and busy weekend. It rained buckets Saturday morning, but when it cleared up we headed over to the Pumpkin Festival. I enjoyed looking at crafts and getting ideas with Heather while my husband strolled her 3 month old. When he wasn’t taking a million pictures of the baby in the stroller, he was redesigning the stroller in his head to be more off-road friendly. He agreed to join us because he always enjoys the food and entertainment. We try to go to the Pumpkin Festival every year, because it’s an outing we both enjoy. After getting back home, we headed over to Lowe’s to pick out our shingles for the house.

We woke up Sunday morning to more rain….I’m just waiting on the camper to turn into a boat and float away. I told my builder this morning that he is not allowed to give me any more predictions about when he plans to finish the house, because it has done nothing but rain since he did that on Thursday. Anyway, Sunday afternoon in the middle of the downpour we headed over to Greenville to visit some friends and enjoy their 3 year old’s birthday party. I will do a post on the gift I made for him hopefully sometime this week. It was good for us to get out the camper and enjoy time with friends this weekend. Now we are just hoping the rain will pass so construction of our house can continue. 🙂

 

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Construction Begins!

We have been living in the camper for three weeks now and construction finally began on our home this week! Construction was suppose to begin two weeks ago, but the bank sent our loan application to the wrong department. Let me just share how funny that is. We are dealing with a small local bank, so sending it to the wrong department meant it was sitting on the wrong person’s desk no more than twenty feet away. Since the loan committee only meets on Mondays, we had to wait until this past Monday to finally be approved. Our builder was ready to get started time he got the phone call. Tuesday morning he arrived and started measuring out where everything would go. By the time he left, the yard looked like this.

Painted outline

I thought this was spray paint until I got closer. This is a chalky substance, which means we had to make sure to keep the dogs away or the lines would no longer be lines and they would be covered in blue. My husband and I went out to look that night and became concerned. Looking at it now, it looks like we are building too small. However, we were warned we would feel this way at this point. It’s like when you pick out a Christmas tree that looks so small in the field, and when you bring it home it’s actually bigger than you thought. Since this is just painted on the ground, being open in the large area makes it look very small.

Digging Footers

They started digging on Tuesday, but most of it was done on Wednesday. By Wednesday night, the chalk lines were gone, and our yard looked like this.

Ready for Concrete

Thursday morning I headed over to the laundromat and knew they would be hard at work when I got home. I was shocked to find no one in the yard when I returned. I just knew I was going to have to navigate a maze of trucks and trailers, but I was the only one in the driveway. After lunch, our builder showed up, and I took the dogs out for their midday walk. Turns out they were waiting on the county inspector to come approve their work. They did not waste any time when the inspector left, because when I got home from work, the concrete had been poured.

Poured Concrete

This is where we will stay for the weekend. It has been raining off and on all day, so that’s all the work that will get done this week. Our builder was determined to get the concrete poured yesterday simply because he knew it would rain today. We are excited to see what gets done next week! 🙂

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Two Weeks of RV Living

We have settled in to our new way of living and things have been quiet around here the past few days. We are still waiting on the bank, so nothing has been done with the house yet. I’m grateful we have had time to adjust and get the dogs settled before adding construction crews to the mix. The dogs and I go out 3 or 4 times a day and walk the perimeter of the cleared area several times, about 3 acres. In the evenings, my husband joins us for our walk after dinner.

Daisy on walk

Look at that smile! Our dogs are really loving the freedom of having more space here. I only walk them with leashes on our midday walk when there is a chance someone may come up the driveway. We have had the highway department repaving our road, so I also didn’t want them to get the idea they could go see the workers at the road either. We actually got two loads of the ground up asphalt for our driveway this week, so that will be used to fill in the places that keep washing out and give us a good base for our driveway. It’s been interesting getting in and out of our driveway this week, but they should be finished in the next couple days. Driving down the wrong side of the road on a daily basis has been fun.

Radar at window

 

Radar has found his favorite window spots. He has always greeted us and watched us leave from the window, so this just lets us know he is making himself at home. Unfortunately, his favorite window is the one over our bed. It’s a huge window and I cringe as a watch him stand on our pillows to watch us leave. I really don’t like dog hair in my bed, but there’s really no way to keep him out of that room. I have to keep remembering this is only temporary, and at least he doesn’t sleep on our bed….he just jumps up there to look out the window. Dogs in yard

 

I’m starting to get into a nice routine. I actually clean more in the camper than I did in the house. When one thing is out of place, it seems like the whole place is cluttered. I did some organizing earlier this week, so I am slowly finding ways to make this place look cleaner and a little larger. I do miss having my washer and dryer. Fortunately, we found a spot to hide all the dirty laundry. On the weekend, we go over to the local laundromat and get everything washed. Thanks to a friend, we found one that is very clean and safe, which really makes this process easier. I actually went by myself the other morning to wash our comforter.

laundromat

Now that we are conquering cleaning, organization and laundry, we are beginning to work on the cooking situation. We have actually cooked in for the past several days, and are starting to get use to this. I can’t stock groceries like I did in the house, because there is no storage. However, I can still shop the sales, even if it means going to the store a couple times a week instead of just once.

The weather is cooling off, and we are starting to learn how quickly the furnace will drain the gas tanks. We added a heater to our collection of items this week, but I’m hoping we won’t need to use it for a while. I’m looking forward to enjoying this cool fall weather. 🙂

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We Survived The First Weekend!

I had originally planned to do absolutely nothing this weekend, because I had worked so hard the past couple weeks getting the house ready and moved. I neglected to remember what happens after you move…you have to do all the little things to really get settled into your new home, or in our case, the RV. I’m constantly trying to find better ways to organize things because we are in such a small space. We are estimating that our current living situation is less than 300 square feet. When one or two things are out of place, the whole area feels cramped. However, it is quite nice when everything is put away and clean.

The house closing went without problems on Friday, and then we really began our grand adventure. Let’s be honest, there was really no going back at that point. Friday evening gave us some very nice weather, so we decided to enjoy being at our new location and cook our first dinner in the RV. If you are curious, we went all out and cooked fettuccine alfredo. Part of our learning curve is learning how to cook on a gas stove.

Saturday we went to the store for various odds and ends. We knew we needed to get some carpet to put over the RV carpet. Red clay + dogs= ruined RV carpet. We went to Lowe’s with the intention of getting some of the cheap stuff they cut off the roll for you. The guy there showed us some remnants they had on sale and gave us an even better deal since they needed to get rid of it. We got a nice piece of carpet that usually sells for $90 for a whopping $30! It was more than we needed, but we put the rest in storage in case we need to replace a section or two over the next few months. Let’s just say rolling out a large piece of carpet to cut inside an RV is interesting. The funny thing is I actually like this carpet and it’s a lot softer than what was in the RV.

Radar and new carpet

We also had to go TV shopping. The TV in the living area decided it didn’t like the trip and acted slightly possessed once we got it here. It worked perfectly when we bought the camper, but I guess over the two moves to get here something went wrong. The people at the RV place warned us random things like this would happen because the RV moves and rattles when it’s on the road. The other two TVs still work, but neither were the right size to put in the living area. Yes, this small space has 3 TVs! The people who owned it before us must have been serious TV addicts. We only get one station right now, so we are going to pull our massive antenna out of storage and hook it up so we can watch something other than what’s on Fox.

Sunday it rained most of the day and the weather got cool. Fall is definitely coming, but we will get at least a few more hot days before fall really sets in. We enjoy sitting outside with the dogs in the evenings, so fall is going to be very nice. I’m grateful I brought my favorite outside chair with us.

grass weekend 1

The grass is coming up well and my husband has been working hard raking and sowing more seed to fill in the gaps. In just the four days we have been here, the growth of the grass has been very noticeable. Since they haven’t started building the house yet, it’s the small things that keep me excited. We are hoping the house building will begin this week. I’m ready to have something else to watch beside the grass growing 🙂

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First Night In The Camper

Ok, so technically it was our third night in the camper, but it was our first night in our camper at the property. After sobbing uncontrollably while leaving our house for the last time (I’m a very emotional person…we knew it was coming), I began to embrace the challenges ahead. Living in a camper is easy when you are just vacationing, but it’s a totally different story when you have to have everything you need for your everyday life. We discovered very quickly that we will not be traveling while living in this camper. It would be doable, but the camper is much heavier than it would be if we were just packing a few things for a week or weekend trip. I don’t think I can fit another thing in this camper. When I get it a little better organized, I will take pictures of how it is set up. I got to the point where I had to just start throwing stuff in here without organizing simply because I had to get the house emptied and cleaned.

After getting the camper backed into the spot where our builder had put a nice graveled area, my husband went to find us some dinner. (Cooking in this camper is going to be a whole other issue.) He figured I could use some comfort food, so he came home with Chinese. This would have been great if I wasn’t sweating and too hot to eat. We are currently on limited power, so we can’t turn on the air conditioning yet. Most of our dinners went into the fridge, and we will not be ordering Chinese again unless it can be finished in one sitting. Every time the fridge door is opened, the whole camper smells like Chinese for a while.

The good news is we went out with a flashlight last night to find that we have grass! It was only planted a week ago, but it is growing well. We had some heavy rains earlier this week, so we thought most of the seed had washed away. Evidently, my Dad covered it well enough that the rain only helped it grow.

Grass Week 1

 

This brings me to one of our biggest challenges….muddy paws. It rained last night right after we got the camper set up. This red clay gets really nasty when it’s wet. So we took the dogs out and had a towel ready to wipe their paws when it was time to come inside. After only taking the dogs out twice, this is what our rug outside the door looks like.

muddy doormat

It’s a good thing we brought this rug along. It was under the washer and dryer in the house, and we thought it would be useful. I did figure out this morning that if I get the dogs to run on the gravel after traipsing through the mud then the gravel gets most of the mud out their paws. I still have to wipe their paws off, but I’m not finding clumps of mud in the camper when they come inside. I’ve got to go get some runners to cover the small amount of carpet in the camper or it will be ruined before this is over.

Overall, I don’t think this is going to be that bad. We both enjoy being out here, because it’s so nice and peaceful. This is the calming surroundings I need after such a stressful few months. Our adventure is off to a pretty good start. Now it’s time to go sign the papers and give our old house new owners. 🙂

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Preparing the Land & Packing the House

To say we have been busy is an understatement. Last Monday, Labor Day, my Dad brought the tractor up to do some work on the property. Basically, from the moment he got here until Thursday evening he and my husband worked up there constantly. They only came home to sleep and bring me their sweaty, orange tinted clothing. Dad on the tractor

The first thing my Dad did was assess how hard the soil was and he told me very quickly that we had bought concrete. The plow was barely scraping the top, so they went and rented a box scraper with things that will dig into the ground. By Tuesday night, they had everything broke up quite nicely. Wednesday, after a long search, they picked up some lime to plow into the soil. We had a soil test done and were told we needed this, so they went ahead applied it while we had the tractor. At this point, they were on a roll and decided to get fertilizer and grass seed. So my husband put the stuff in a spreader behind our four-wheeler and my dad followed behind with the plow to make sure everything got covered up just enough for it to grow. While they were busy at the property, I was packing up the house and working in the afternoons. I finally got to have dinner and spend time with my Dad on Thursday evening before he left at 5:30 Friday morning.

Yes, 5:30. He wanted to make sure he got home without having to deal with a lot of traffic since he was pulling the equipment trailer with the tractor. I was awake at that point, so I cooked us breakfast and we began our day. We decided we needed somewhat of a break, so we spent Friday running errands. We also visited the bank to sign our paper work and went by the property where we discovered our new driveway.

driveway

Our builder had been busy! There was gravel all the way to where our garage will be located. He had also measured out the four corners of the house. In the picture below, you are looking at the drive going into the side of the house. The house will actually be angled to face the drive coming from the road then the drive turns left and follows the tree line to the side of the house.

house siteOn our way out, our new neighbor came over to see what was going on. This is one of two pretty horses that will greet us every day!

horse

 

Saturday and Sunday were spent moving the rest of our stuff out the house, except for our bed and two bar stools. I was moving right along until I realized how much stuff was still left in the kitchen. I got to the point where I was scared to open another cabinet door. To keep me motivated, my husband came through and stuck post-its with check marks on every cabinet and drawer that was empty. I finally got everything packed or moved to the camper. Monday I got to the point where I could actually start cleaning, and that is what I have been finishing up this morning. There are only a handful of items left upstairs, and a truckload for the storage shed in the basement. We should be completely finished tonight. Tomorrow I will clean the basement and be done.

This has been a crazy couple weeks. My husband and I have moved this whole house without any help, and we are both wore out. I’m already requesting we hire a moving company to empty the storage shed, because I really don’t want to move all that again. The gravity of the adventure we are beginning is also starting to set in. I love this house, but it’s time to move on. Maybe it’s because I’m tired, maybe it’s because I’m scared, or maybe it’s because I’m so excited that I just want to get closing over with. As I sit in the kitchen of this house we have lived in for almost 6 years, I already miss it. We had thought about selling this house and getting something nicer for the past couple years. I was scared of selling, because I knew I couldn’t get this house back if we did sell it. Now we are building a house I will love more, and that is what keeps me motivated to keep moving and finally say goodbye to this house.

I’ve been typing this while waiting on my freshly mopped floors to dry. Now it’s time to get back to work. 🙂

 

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The Beginnings of Our New House: Electric & Water Lines

Yesterday was a very busy day! I initially had no intention of heading out to the property, but I ended up out there for several hours. The power company was out there bright and early at 7am to dig the trench and install our power lines. We are very happy to be getting underground utilities, especially since they had to run the line over 300 feet from the road.

Digging for Electric and Water Lines

This guy dug the trench 4 feet deep and it took him over 3 hours to get it done. When it was finally finished, they ran that big red pipe you see in the bottom right corner all the way to the road. This is the conduit they used to run the power cable through.

Electric Spool

Thank goodness we did not need all that! We actually didn’t hardly put a dent in that spool, but it was cool to watch them carry it with the machine using that orange strap on the top. They also held it up by that so it would spin while pushing the cable through the conduit. Once that was done, they pushed in about 2 feet of dirt so our builder could lay our water line in the same hole.

Putting in the Water Line

Once the water line was in, they put in the red caution tape and covered everything up. I was glad I ended up going out there to experience this part of the process. The weather was beautiful and the electric company guys were super nice and helpful. Now we just have to wait on the water people and electric company to both come install the meters. Once they do that, we will have power and water!

As if this wasn’t an eventful enough day, our builder told us if we wanted a more exact number for the bank, we would need to go pick out what kind of brick we want. We wanted to go ahead and get that done, so we headed over to the brick showroom (Did you know there were such things?) to pick out which brick we liked best.

Picking Out Brick

Oh my! And this isn’t even all of it! I had no idea there were so many choices of brick. Once I recovered from the shock of this, I was able to make a decision fairly quickly. I’m talking less than 10 minutes. This has to be a record for me making a big decision, and let’s hope all our building decisions happen that quickly. Basically, I didn’t want something too light because of all the red clay. Let’s be honest, light brick in red clay will not stay light long. I didn’t want anything too red either. After sharing my thoughts with my husband, we agreed on our color choice quickly. Since I didn’t actually take a picture of it, I guess you will have to wait to find out what we picked! 🙂

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Our RV Home: The Adventure Is About To Begin

It’s official! In about 2 weeks, we will be living in the RV. Why? This is the question most people have asked us; right after saying we’re crazy. The simple answer to that question is that it’s expensive to rent. We also thought that paying more than our current mortgage for a 2 bedroom apartment would not only be cruel to us but also to our dogs (on our land, they will have lots of room to play). So we made the decision to purchase a camper to live in while building our new home. Yes, the RV costs more than renting, however when this house is built we can sell the RV and get most of our money back. We learned during this process that RVs hold their value very well. The opportunity to save money for unexpected issues while building was also a big part of the reason we decided to go this route.

A little over a week ago, we headed over to a rather large RV dealership and found our new home on wheels. This was a great day, because now I could relax and know we had a place to live, and I finally knew how to pack the house. I have slept so much better since we made this decision! We had to leave our RV there for them to go through and check everything, so we made the appointment to go back and pick it up. Saturday we went back and, after the washing and thorough cleaning, it looked even better than I had remembered. I can’t tell you how excited we both are to start this adventure! Don’t get me wrong, we are going to enjoy living in this house with all it’s space for the next couple weeks. But when this house closes, we will be moving onto our land where we can have space and watch our new home be built. I think the coolest part of this whole experience is going to be watching the house progress on a daily basis.

RV Home

It’s rather large, isn’t it? It’s 34 feet long and has two slide outs. We are still debating if we are going to name it “Bear” or “Beast”. It’s actually quite nice. We got home right as it was getting dark, so trying to get it backed in the driveway was difficult. We live in a neighborhood with narrow roads and lots of hills. What you don’t see in this picture is the brick retaining wall on the right side which lost a couple bricks on the end during this process. Thank goodness one of the neighbors came out with a flashlight to help. With the two of us guiding the way, we got it in after about 15 minutes. I’m glad we will not have to get it in this driveway anymore. Over the next couple weeks, I will be loading up this RV and getting ready for a new adventure. Until then, I have to go do some packing! 🙂

 

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5 Things I Learned While Selling My House

Sold House

  1. Declutter! Most Realtors will tell you to declutter your home before putting it on the market. Their reasoning is the people looking at your home need to be able to picture themselves living in your house. This doesn’t work well if there is an abundance of personal items all over the shelves and walls. That means most of the family pictures need to be boxed up. Fortunately for us, we don’t have a ton of family pictures around, so one little box took care of that for us. The benefit I found in doing some pre-packing is it made the daily cleaning a lot quicker. Dusting takes less time when there are less items to dust! Before we listed our home, I went through every room and boxed up anything I could do without for a while. This has actually helped move our packing process along quite nicely now that the house has sold.
  2. Pick a Realtor you trust. I was fortunate enough to know exactly who I was going to call when we decided to sell our home. If you are like me, you probably know a few Realtors, but trust your instinct when picking the one you want to sell your home. There is a lot that can go wrong, so pick someone you know is trustworthy and will tell you exactly what you need to do and when it needs to be done. Working with a friend is great, because you know them personally and can even text them without feeling like you are crossing a line. Having the personal relationship has made this such an easy process. Some people prefer to have a strictly professional relationship with their selling Realtor and that’s fine too. I just feel the personal connection really makes the process a lot easier and provides more benefits.
  3. It’s OK to say “No.” I had a call one day from a Realtor wanting to show our house in 30 minutes. We may not have children yet, but we do have two dogs that I had to remove from the house. Not to mention, it was my birthday and I had decided to give myself the day off from cleaning. The house was a mess! I rescheduled the appointment for later in the day, cleaned like crazy, removed the dogs from the house and the people never showed up to look at it. I cried and felt horrible about not being prepared. Then I came to the realization that if someone really wants to see my house, they won’t mind rescheduling. I’m almost positive those people didn’t show up because we were just added to a list as a comparison. That day I came to the conclusion that it’s ok to tell them no and request another time. Try not to do this, but let’s just be honest and say only giving 30 minutes is quite ridiculous. This is also where having a Realtor you trust and can openly communicate with is important. One day, we had to say no because we were too far away to get home in time to remove the dogs. Right after we got the phone call, I texted my Realtor to see if we could reschedule and he made it happen by contacting the other Realtor personally. This actually resulted in the showing that sold our house, so always make sure the Realtor is in the loop!
  4. Be Patient. This one was tough for us, because we are both very impatient people. It took about 4 months for our house to sell. It’s hard not knowing when it will sell; especially when you are wanting to build your new home and have to wait for the house to sell first. Every day I would catch myself staring at my phone just hoping it would ring. This, my friends, will make you crazy! Even though it’s hard, try to go about your day as usual. The phone will ring when it’s time, and it will probably ring a lot until you get a contract. I did find that our calls usually came around 2-4 pm.
  5. This Too Shall Pass! Probably the hardest part of this whole process, other than the waiting, is keeping the house clean enough for a showing. Remember, we don’t want to have to say no, but it’s ok if necessary. In order to be ready, the house must be clean. (As a side note, I actually questioned some friends who had recently bought houses. They all said if the house was not clean when they walked in, they were less likely to consider it as a possibility. Cleanliness makes a big difference!) The best thing to do is get into a routine. Dishes, vacuuming, wiping down the bathrooms and keeping the dirty clothes at bay can be done quickly each day with a routine. However, the hardest part is keeping everything looking good until you feel it’s safe to dirty things again that day. I would wait until at least 6pm to cook dinner, because I felt it was a safe bet no one would call at that point. Try to find a way to use this time for something you enjoy and it will take your mind off wanting the phone to ring and having to sit in a perfectly cleaned house. Since I wasn’t sure what our temporary living arrangement would be, I decided to go ahead and make some Christmas gifts to pass the time. Do your best to find the good in the situation and keep in mind this is only temporary!

This has been quite the process and it’s not over yet! This is not our first move, but it’s definitely the biggest move yet. Over the next few months, I plan to write about our journey while building our new home and the adventures we have in our temporary home! 🙂

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We’re Starting A “No Spend” Month!

We may be crazy or we may have a great month, but for the next four weeks we will be spending no money. Yes, you read that correctly–we will be spending no money. I’ve seen various blog posts floating around on Pinterest about having “No Spend” months, and I thought it was a great idea. I also thought it would take a little more to convince my husband, but he jumped on board immediately. I read that some people don’t prepare at all, and some people do. Well, if you know me at all, you know I prepared because that’s just how I am. I went through the stash in the freezer and pantry to determine what meals could be made, and then included anything else we would need in the past two weeks’ grocery trips. So what possessed me to try this? A couple things. First, we always have some big bills that come at the end of the summer, so this will help us save for those. Second, we will hopefully be moving soon, which means the deep freezer needs to be emptied. So we are saving money and preparing for the move all at once. The only things we will spend money on this month are the bills (obviously), gas for the cars, my Sunday newspaper, and milk (I just can’t live without milk in the house). Thank goodness I already have everything I need to work on some Christmas gifts, so I have plenty to keep me busy. We will have to get creative when it comes to date nights, but that will all be part of the fun. Yes, I said this would be a great idea and fun….ask me about it in four weeks 🙂

If this idea of a “No Spend” month intrigues you, here is a post for you to read that provides more ideas for how to spend your month without spending any money.

31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero.  Freeze your spending.  Change Your Life.  Awesome way to reset your spending patterns or kick-start your budget!

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