Sunday, July 25, 2010

Going Green and Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 26

Drum Roll Please!!!

Stage one of going solar has been completed!! We have four solar panels installed and generating ! We have stage two planned for spring 2011 when more panels will be installed. We started with what our budget could handle and will be using our tax credits from the federal and state returns to purchase at least six more panels. Watching the monitor which tells us how many watts our panels are generating has become our new favorite past time.
Who knows how far we will carry this project. For now we are happy with our first step into grid freedom. We may just be the family the community talks about, as in , "Have you heard what they are doing now??".
goal #1 - going green - captain there be solar panels here.
goal #2 - reducing debt - one small step at a time
goal #3 - enjoying the good life - solar panels!!!
Bring it on!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Going Green and Debt Free In 2 Years - Day 24

An Apple A Day

The "Bobby" in this picture with our grandchildren has type 2 diabetes. We have been told it is genetic because he is not over weight, eats healthily and excercises. He is adopted so we really have no family tree to trace. Our main means of defense is to be very careful with our diet. He does not use insulin at this time and we really don't want insulin to have to be used.

In our quest of going green we have begun using organic foods. The cost upfront may be more, but we feel the long term cost is a bargain. The current cost of doctor appointments, medications, and the horrible cost of poor health far outweigh what little extra you pay for good food. Thankfully our local grocery store is carrying many organic options from fresh produce to dairy products.

Today Bob had his annual eye exam and received a great report - No Change Since Last Year. This is something every diabetic wants to hear because vision damage is a very real fear for them. We want to continue hearing this so pass that apple please.

goal #1 - going green - eating organic foods

goal #2 - reducing debt - our health really is priceless

goal #3 - enjoying the good life - good food and good health, goal reached

Who doesn't love an apple??

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Going Green and Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 22

Everyone gets the same 24

Yes it is 10:10 am at my house. I have already laundered two loads of clothes, ran the dishwasher, polished the furniture in the den and vacuumed the house. My goal in this is to beat the heat. The temperature here has been averaging 95 degrees for days. To keep the air conditioner from fighting the heat generated by the appliances I am getting up earlier than usual and trying to finish using them before the temperature reaches so high. For the record I am NOT a morning person and finishing everything this early is a big deal at our house. The good part of this is I now have 12 hours left to do other things, like read, quilt or knit. (there could be a nap in my future)

I am amazed at the extra time I now have. I didn't realize how much time was wasted running errands that could be combined, washing clothes when the machine wasn't full, or not using the dish washer for everything. I now have the time to do other things that help us go green. What I thought might be a waste of time actually seems to be a time making machine.

goal #1 - going green - who knew going green was a time generator

goal #2 - becoming debt free - waiting for the next payday to figure the exact amount (think accrued interest)

goal #3 - enjoying the good life - time is on my side

Could our wasteful society being wasting not just our planet but our lives?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Going Green and Getting Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 19

Photo Op

Just so we know the rules: posing three dogs for a photo op and herding cats are scored using the same level of difficulty. Sometimes that same scoring criteria is used when dealing with our families. If I am to reach my debt free goal I am going to being saying no to some of the things I have been willing to do in the past. This is not easy, nor does it earn me any friends. My sister already lives in my office rent free and now whines because she doesn't have any money for groceries. I am standing firm on "we can't help with that, Bob is retiring in 2 years and we have a goal". For someone who always came to the rescue before this is not easy, but it has to be done. She needs to take care of herself and I need to let her.

Payday was last week and we are making some headway on the debt. As far as going green the success has been remarkable. Trash day this past week went from being a small event to a none event. With just thinking about packaging options, reusing, recycling and composting there was almost no trash to put out. I got gas in my car yesterday for the first time this month. I think the most remarkable thing about going green is it has made my life easier. By washing only full loads of laundry, cooking once and eating twice to reduce oven use, washing all the dishes in the dishwasher, and combining errands I have an extra couple of hours per day to do things I really enjoy.

goal #1 - going green - amazing

goal #2 - debt free - last tally $104,000.00 (a reduction of $1000.00 in 3 weeks!!!)

goal #3 - enjoying the good life - totally

Now if someone will share how not to feel guilty for taking care of myself.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Green and Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 14

I Know How, but....

I am afraid I am very guilty of choosing convience over effort. I do know how to make pie crusts from "scratch", but I have been purchasing them in the dairy aisle. My logic has been my time is worth the extra money. Since I have been thinking "green" about everything I touch I really can't justify the purchase of something I can do in just a few minutes. Not only do I have complete control over what is in my food, I am not creating cardboard and plastic. Everything I make is not wonderful, but I do feel we can put up with my cooking knowing we are saving money and the environment.
By making just a few changes I have reduced our trash by 75% and our grocery bill by 25%. We now buy things with the least amount of packaging. (think box of grits over box of individual envelopes of grits, yes it is the south and we do eat grits.) The extra payoff of this is the items with the least amount of packages are usually the less expensive items.
I am also trying to do away with the purchase of anything in plastic and especially Styrofoam. If the eggs don't come in a cardboard carton I don't buy them. With just a little thought and a little bit of my time we have seen big benefits.
goal #1 - going green - waste reduction
goal #2 - reducing debt - an extra $100.00 by reducing grocery costs - $104,680.00 - $100.00 = 104,580.00.
goal #3 - enjoying the good life - okay so cooking isn't one of my favorite things to do, but I do feel better knowing what is in our food and the extra money doesn't hurt my feelings either.
People are impressed with home cooking, even if it isn't perfect!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Green and Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 11

Saving Energy by Going Solar - or- 1 step forward, 10 steps backwards

Okay, after another meeting with the expert and 2 sleepless nights, the decision to go solar has been made! The tax credits from the state and federal governments for installing a solar energy system will no be received until our 2010 tax returns are filed. This ruled out using the IRA, and we did not want to use the credit cards, so getting a loan to pay for this won. The company has several options on their loans. We chose a 60 month plan so the monthly payments are within reason, and we made sure there was no penalty for early pay offs. Using this plan allows us to make the monthly payment and put all the money from rebates and tax credits on the principal as they arrive.

At this moment the loan hasn't been used because installation hasn't occurred. I will add the amount of the loan into our debt at that time, (Does anyone need a "spin doctor"?) but the final amount we will pay for the system is reduced by 65+% by tax credits.

goal #1 - going green - solar energy

goal #2 - debt elimination - a work in progress

goal #3 - enjoying the good life - learning a lot of new things!!!

We may not know everything about solar, but we know a LOT more today than yesterday.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Green and Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 10

You have to spend money to save money - or - Have you lost what was left of your mind?

We have been debating installing solar panels on our home for 6 years. When we were building we spent a lot of time researching and discussing installing them at construction. The price of the panels, batteries, and labor to have this done didn't seem to off set the price of energy saved.

Well 6 years later with debut of air conditioning units which use solar energy eliminating the need for storage batteries, the discussion has been reopened. With dealer rebates, state rebates, state tax credits and federal tax credits the return on investment is looking much better.

Yesterday I meet with an energy consultant and he is guiding me with the purchase and rebate decisions. The problem is you have to pay for the cost of everything at the time of installation. You receive the rebates and tax credits over the course of a few months. So, do I use money I have in an Individual Retirement Account and hope I can replace it with the rebates in a timely manner to avoid the early withdrawal penalties and tax liability? I do not want to put anything on the credit card I almost have paid off. So I chased this squirrel in my mind all night. Get the solar at a great final price and risk messing up my IRA, or just a loan and pay it with the rebate, use the infamous credit cards and pay them with the rebate?

goal #1 - going green - ??????

goal #2 - becoming debt free - I just don't know

goal #3 - enjoying the good life - I have The Headache

Where is a financial guru when you need one?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Going Green and Getting Debt Free in 2 Years - day 9

Trash Day

I am sparing you a picture of our trash!

Our weekly trash pickup actually happens on Friday morning, around 3:00 am. So, we put our trash container out on Thursday afternoon. When Bob is out of town for work on Thursday evening, which unfortunately happens a lot, trash detail falls to me. Oh, the glamorious world of a housewife. We also put out the trash for my sister (keep thinking place in heaven). So it is a small event to get everyone's trash corraled and out to the side of the road, no curbs in rural Gerogia.

Last week I began recycling and today is the day to see if I have really made a difference.

Happy Trails to me! Bob and I have reduced our trash by 60%, yes 60% in the first week. Now I am motivated to beat that next week. This contest is on!

goal #1 - going green - Reached and motivated.

goal #2 - reducing debt - a lot of money is spent on garbage, the initial purchase of the item, picking up the trash, disposing of it and we are taxed at every level. No immediate dollar amount, but no extra cost to do the right thing.

goal #3 - enjoying the good life - sense of accomplishment.

Now, if I can just talk everyone into doing this......

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Going Green and Becoming Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 8

If you write it down, it will get done.

If you do not work a "real" job you become the errand runner, you know since you aren't doing anything else. In an effort to reduce my gasoline use I did not run any errands this week until today. I did start a list of everything that needed to be done. I have a master list of errands, a grocery list, a pharmacy list, a post office list, etc...

I planned out my route and began this morning at 9:30. First the bank, then the post office, the recycling center, the pharmacy, and lastly the grocery store. (In the south you do not fool around with getting your ice cream home in the summer.) The one place I did not stop was the gas station. I completed the master errand list and was home at 12:30. None of these errands suffered because they were done a day or two after they were thought of. The gas savings were pretty good and the lists helped me get everything purchased for the next week. The grocery list actually saved me $30.00 (according the receipt) because of checking for sales and matching coupons.

goal #1 - going green - cut gasoline use by 50%.

goal #2 - debt reduction - I'm giving myself $100.00 on this one, gas savings, grocery and pharmacy savings. $104,780.00 - $100.00 = $104,680.00.

goal #3 - enjoying the good life - actually seeing the debt go down.

Bonus - extra time. When you are not running errands all the time you have more time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Go Greener and Get Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 7

"What's the frequency....Can you explain?"

In hopes of lowering our monthly expenses I have been researching ways to eliminate bills completely. One option is to do away with our satellite service for our television. Clark Howard, the financial guy, had an episode showing someone enjoying free network tv (after the initial purchase of the antenna). Well, to cut out a $95.00 monthly bill looked good. And so began the argument, I mean discussion, between Bob and me.

Me: Free network tv.

Bob: We don't watch network tv. We watch HGTV, Foodnetwork, TNT, Discovery, Learning, History, The Learning Channel, Planetgreen, etc.... and what about the cartoon channels (for the grandchildren of course).

Me: We can watch those on the Internet.

Bob: We would loose the comfort of reclining (read man chair) while both watching the same thing.

So, I decided to take this question to the man on the street; actually my best friend. Her family does the antennae thing. Her answer was "the commercials are clearest". Well, I can not win this argument with that kind of data.

goal #1 - going green-no harm done (I hope). We already have the equipment for the satellite and would not be acquiring an antennae.

goal #2 -becoming debt free-well this has been in our budget for a lot of years and it will just stay there.

goal #3-enjoying the good life-this argument, I mean discussion, will not happen again, at least not for a while.

Now, Planetgreen teach me something new today.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Going Green and Becoming Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 6

Summertime.....and the picking is easy

I have been a full-time housewife for only two years. At first I was lonely, so we purchased Jake, the yellow lab. As any one who has read Marley and Me, you know labs and loneliness do not mix. Jake has been my cohort in crime, best friend and keeper of secrets since he arrived. And, yes his price was discounted because he was the last puppy in the litter. That should have set off bells, but I believe puppies are like human babies, God makes them too darn cute not to love no matter what they do.

As a first time stay at home wife I thought I would start raising some of our food. I chose blueberries because I like blueberry muffins, pies, tarts, pancakes, etc...
Bob bought and planted them for me the first fall (20 months ago) that my business card expired. They are producing their first crop now and are organic, not because I am that good, but because I never got around to doing anything to them. Sometimes even a blind pig finds a mushroom.

goal #1 - going green, home grown organic (even if by laziness, I'll take it)blueberries, score 1

goal #2 - becoming debt free - by doing the math of not purchasing organic berries at the store I have saved #30.00. $104,810.00 - $30.00 = $104,780.00. Pass the salt, this elephant needs a little flavor.

goal #3 - enjoying the good life - picking your own organic berries with a friend. Major score.

Now, I just have to teach Jake to only pick his fair share.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Greener and Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 5


R & R. Cook, laugh, play, read, nap, paint, knit, meditate, pray...I believe everyone should take one day a week and do something which renews their soul. Sunday is my day.

Sunday morning is my time to pick up a Sunday Paper, have another cup of coffee and check out the sales, coupons, comics, and television guide. There is no home delivery for the Atlanta paper here so this involves a trip to a convience store 15 miles away. Everything I enjoy about the paper can be done on the internet.,, and (just to name a few) are wonderful sources for finding coupons and matching them to what's on sale. So today I am surfing the web instead of driving and turning pages.

goal #1 - going green-saving trees, water and fuel - achieved.

goal#2 - becoming debt free-$10.00 saved. I always purchased two papers, one for me and one for my sister ($4.00) and gasline used and wear on my car for such a short one item trip ($6.00)$104,820.00 -$10.00 = 104,810.00.

goal#3- enjoy the good life. It is Sunday.

Yes, I know elephants are eaten one bite at a time, but I do miss my paper.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

2 Years to a Greener Debt Free Life - Day 4

"Friends of the Library"

Confession Time - whenever I wanted to read a new book I simply ordered it from barnesand I also ordered another book that I thought might be interesting to receive the free shipping. They always processed my order promptly and I had new books in hand in just a couple of days.

But, going green and saving money made me think about this choice. Could I save trees, water, and fuel by doing something different. Well, it just so happens our local community does not have a library. It does have a group of very dedicated people who want a library. "The Friends of the Library" gladly take donated books, which they sell out of a block garage building the first Saturday of each month. The money earned from these sales, yard sales and donations are held in a library fund. Someday there will be a library thanks to the hard work of a few volunteers.

Today we shopped the book sale. Bob found two books by authors he likes to read and I found a paperback. We spent $4.50 for three books. The cover price of these finds is $56.94, a savings of $52.44. Not bad for spending time looking through a very good collection of preowned books and supporting a noble cause.

goal #1 - going green-saving trees, water and fuel. Goal achieved.

goal #2- becoming debt free - saving $50.00 in just a few minutes. $104,870.00 - $50.00 = $104,820.00. Goal achieved.

goal #3 - enjoying the good life - holding a book in my hand. Goal achieved.

An around good day. But, don't shut down just yet, you do a great job and sometimes new releases need to be read quickly.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Greener and Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 3

"Your Shoes.......Your Shoes"

When our younger son began kindergarten he loved skipping rope with the girls and chanting silly rhymes. His favorite was; "Your shoes........Your shoes....Your Family Dollar shoes..... They scream....You holler......They only cost one dollar".

While planning dinner this morning I realized we had everything in the house for fajitas, except the tortillas. (sigh) Trying to justify going to the store for one item I chose to go to the nearest store. Family Dollar Stores are located in a lot of small towns in the south, and ours is just 2 miles from our home. The nearest full size store is 20 miles away, so it works for me. But I can not go in that store without that rhyme playing in my head. To further implement my green and money saving plan I paid the only bill I haven't set up electronically at the local post office and checked to see if we needed anything else for the pantry so I wouldn't be making another one item trip. We did need the usual suspects; bread, chips and while I was going some extra salsa.

goal #1 - going green, I did combine trips after some thought, but I do need to plan ahead better and keep a stocked pantry. I declare this one a washout.

goal#2 - becoming debt free, I did spend the least on gas of the options and only spent $10.00 in the Family Dollar Store (a lot less than I have ever left the large store spending). Again I declare this one a washout due to lack of planning. I am just starting so my hopes are still high.

goal#3 - enjoying the good life, Fajitas with homegrown vegetables and the wonderful memory of a child laughing, skipping rope and chanting "Your shoes....Your shoes....." , definitely reached!

Reaching goal #3 made the whole day a success even if goals #1 or #2 were both washouts.

Going Green and Becoming Debt Free in 2 Years - Day 2

Shop your own home first.

Confession time - I have never followed through with recycyling. The excuse, rural Georgia doesn't have recycling pickup. (I know, I know, unheard of in the rest of the country) So, I have to collect the recycling and take it to a central center. Bob can't stand seeing it by the back door, he also says it smells after a couple of days (???). Well, I give up and put it in the trash bin.

My solution for this was purchase an outdoor storage shed, very, very, small just to store the recycling until I could take it to the center. I found the perfect solution on the web site of a home improvement store. The cost $130.00, oh my. When, my brain actually worked and remembered Bob has this exact thing in his barn. Yeah, he actually had 2!! After much rearranging of his painting supplies and elbow grease, I have the perfect and free solution for storing the recycling between trips to the center.

Goal #1 - go green, recycling on schedule, no new storage containers created using up resources, no gas used to ship containers to store or to go to store to pick up containers.

Goal #2 - pay off debt, $260.00 saved by not purchasing containers. $105,000.00 - $130.00 = $104,870.00.

Goal #3 - enjoy the good life, resting after a long day of rearranging and cleaning with a cup of freshly brewed, at home, cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin made with my own blueberries.

Life is good, and I consider today a success for all 3 goals.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

2 years to a greener and debt free life - day 1

Okay so it sounds like a very ambitious undertaking. That is why I am starting this blog, for accountability and input from people who have gone ahead of me. Today I owe, well my husband and I owe, $105,000.00. (ouch) Most of this debt is a mortgage we have because of my inability to say "NO". I am counting on there being a place in the afterlife for someone who is very helpful. I also have to admit I am not a good samaritan when it comes to taking care of our planet, people maybe too much, our environmnet, not so much.

Goal #1 - become green
Goal #2 - use the money saved by going green to pay off debt
Goal #3 - enjoy the good life

The challanges of this is I have a connective tissue disease, think lupus, which limits my ability to "work". (this means I can not hold a REAL job which pays money) I don't receive any disability income, I do sell knit and crocheted items on to support my yarn habit. My husband, Bob, works hard and makes a decent income (it is his money we will be managing here). He would like to retire, but.... someone needs to pay off all the debt first. He turned 60 last week, hence the 2 year goal.

I need cheerleaders and good advice.