Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bye Bye Student Loan

After working for just over a year, we are so glad to have paid off our student loan. One of the main financial goals we set for ourselves was to eliminate this debt as soon as we could.

When meeting with a financial planner early in our marriage, we wanted to handle our finances in a Biblical manner. We know that scripture states: "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender" Proverbs 22:7. We wanted to stop being slaves to Sallie Mae who took most of our expendable income for the first 15 months of our marriage.

We have listened to many radio shows and podcasts by Dave Ramsey, and we are huge fans of his ideals. As he says, we've kicked Sallie Mae out of our house, and we now have more financial freedom.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Beautiful flowers

From my wonderful husband...Love him.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My new best friend

After several hours of sweat and frustration while trying to replace the heating elements of our water heaters, a family friend recommended trying a tool designed specifically for the heating element. Channel locks worked for 3 of the 4 elements but the 4th was too stubborn. I prayed that God would give me the strength to remove the element, but instead God gave me an $8 tool.
We've now spent 10 nights in the new home, and we are very thankful for hot water. We'll continue to post about the process, the move, and updates on the new home for the next few weeks.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The keys to our new home!

Yep, those keys unlock the door to our new home. We have been bursting at the seams keeping this under wraps, and now we are happy to share it with everyone. We have been searching for and praying about a home for months, but just couldn't find "the one." Then this beauty came along.
Actually, we stumbled across it about 6 months ago but the timing was not right. Even then, we weren't impressed by the photos in the listing and almost passed it up. I'm so glad I made Cary drive out to see it, because we both really liked it. We are so excited to make it our own.

It has been a long process with tons of excitement, dozens of questions, and quite a bit of stress, but in the end, God blessed us with a house. We are looking forward to turning it into our home.

Stay tuned for some more posts about the home buying process.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tough Loss!

What a tough weekend for the Bulldog Nation! Cary and I traveled to Atlanta for the UGA/Boise State game this past Saturday. We spent the entire day tailgating with friends outside the Georgia Dome (notice the sunburn below). Even though it was a rough game, we enjoyed spending time with friends and fellow fans.

Hopefully, next week will go better against our SEC opponent, South Carolina. See ya in Athens!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Countdown to Kickoff

It's been a couple of weeks since we last posted but we've been busy with some exciting times recently. We'll be posting about that in a couple weeks.

As I woke up this morning and watched the hurricane update, I flipped it on ESPN to check the latest sports and realized a week from now, I'll be watching the college football updates. An exciting time for sure.

Next Saturday, we'll be up early, putting on our red and black, and heading to the dome to watch UGA-Boise St. And Georgia will be putting on red and well, mostly just red. They will be debuting their ProCombat uniforms, pictured below. It's gonna be another great football season!

I personally like the black uniform option better, but I also remember being down 31-0 at halftime and hearing a Bama fan chant "Knowshon...No Yards!" over and over. Maybe we should stick with red.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What's for Dinner?

What's for dinner? That's a common question heard in this household! Sometimes the last thing I want to do after a long, exhausting day of work is cook dinner. That's why I LOVE my crock pot. Call me old-fashioned, that's fine, but it is the. best. thing. ever.

Here's a picture of this miracle invention in action:

I love being able to set up a meal in the morning and show up in the early evening, after work, to find that all the labor is done, and dinner is ready! How awesome is that?

(That's a crock pot liner in my crock pot...quite possibly the next best invention when it comes to slow cookers. It makes clean-up SUPER quick and easy.)

Here's the final result:

That's a blended peach margarita we're drinking (which wasn't sweet enough and needed some extra flavor, so I won't be sharing that recipe). The other great thing about crock pot meals is that it feeds a ton of people. We have leftovers for quite a few meals. Here is the recipe I used:

Crock Pot Fiesta Chicken
1 can, 15 oz. tomato sauce
2 cans, 14.5 oz. each, diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 cup whole grain or white rice
1 can, 14.5 oz. chicken broth or water
1 can, 15 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can, 15 oz. whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning (mild or spicy do you want it?)

Combine all of the ingredients in a crock pot, set to low and allow to cook for 6 to 8 hours. In the last hour of cooking, tear apart chicken breasts with fork. Continue cooking on low for another hour (totaling 8). Serve with tortilla chips as a dip or eat as a stew.

I'm not sure where I found the original recipe, probably a Google search or something. The original recipe did not have corn and called for pinto beans instead of black beans. I like to change it up and try different things, though. I also like to rinse canned veggies to try and get as much sodium out as possible. Use low sodium taco seasoning, too, to cut the salt. Try out the recipe, and let me know your changes and your thoughts!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Coupons Part 4: Practical Ways to Apply

Buy a Sunday paper (during a non-holiday weekend). That's a great way to start. Pull out the coupon inserts and start looking through them. You don't have to cut every coupon you come across, just keep the ones for products you know you need or buy often. Put them away in an envelope.

Now here's the hard part.


Yep, wait. Wait until the product goes on sale at your grocery store. Whether it is Publix or Kroger, the product will likely go on sale before the coupon expires. Check you grocery store's local ad, online or in store, and see where you can save.

If you want to expend even less energy, let Southern Savers do the investigative work. Simply keep coupon inserts saved away and check the website. As explained earlier, the website will tell you what coupon insert has the coupons you need for a great deal in your chosen grocery store.

It may sound complicated, but once you get into the practice of it, it becomes easier.

If you are ready to take it to the next level, here's how I gain multiple coupons: On occasion, we will use Coupon Clippers to purchase coupons. The same Smart Balance coupon mentioned in the previous post sells for 15 cents. The site requires a minimum of $3 in coupons and charges a 50 cents fee, plus 44 cents shipping. Unless there are multiple coupons I want or multiples of a specific coupon (Ronzoni pasta $1 off which commonly sales for 50 cent-$1 when on sale), I don't use that site. Most of the pasta we have we actually received credit towards the balance. I may have paid $4 for the coupons (20x.12, 60 cents for others and fees), but for each box of pasta (50 cents at Kroger), I applied the other 50 cents towards other groceries, so I actually made about 30 cents on each coupon that I bought.

Here is a list of some of the deals we've gotten since we started this series:
Kraft homestyle maccaroni: Regular price 2.59; our price 30 cents
Tyson frozen chicken nugget appetizer: Regular price 5.99; our price 99 cents
John Freida root awakening shampoo or conditioner: Regular price 2.99; our price: FREE
Tampax Pearl x 2 + Crest toothpaste: Regular price: 8.48; our price profit 52 cents
YoPlus 4 pack: Regular 1.99; our price FREE
Voskos greek yogurt: Regular 1.49/ea.; our price 15 cents
Smart balance milk (1/2 gallon): Regular 3.69; our price 69 cents
Tostitos scoops (family size): Regular 4.99; our price 49 cents
Kraft shredded cheese: Regular price 3.49; our price 67 cents
Splenda (200 pk): Regular 4.35; our price 17 cents
Honey nut cheerios: Regular 4.09; our price $1
Dove soap (6 pk): Regular 6.99; our price $1.49
Caribou coffee: Regular 8.99; our price $2.99
Aquafresh Xtreme: Regular 3.99; our price 59 cents
Blue Bell ice cream: Regular 5.99; our price $2.39
Snuggle: Regular 4.99; our price FREE

Whether you want to just clip a few or fill up an entire book with coupons, it's a great way to save some money. We hope this series has helped encourage you to give it a try.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Coupons Part 3: How We Do It

This is probably the most important, yet complicated part of the process. I don't have the room and don't want to bore everyone, but I'll try to make this as comprehensive as I can without putting everyone to sleep.

When Sunday mornings arrive, I grab the sunday paper outside our front door, and I will briefly check the Kroger, CVS, and Walgreens ads as well as the coupon inserts (Smart Source, Red Plum, P & G). I also try to briefly browse the Southern Savers website which lists deals for all kinds of stores. Many times the website will have links to printable coupons so you can get deals even without a paper using,, to name a few. I stress the word "briefly" because I try to gauge whether I should buy another paper on the way to church at 8:30 AM. If the coupons have items we commonly purchase or if there are obvious good deals, we'll decide to purchase a couple extra papers. I've gotten much more efficient with this process and can complete it in about 15-20 min. (FYI: Publix changes their sales every Wednesday, so I don't check their ads on Sunday).

After church, I will cut coupons and Kelly will file them for items that we commonly use. We keep the actual coupon insert for about 3 months because the Southern Savers website will reference the weekly insert in which a coupon is located for a specific deal. For example, Chex Mix may have a coupon in last Sunday's paper. When Chex Mix goes on sale at Publix three weeks later, Southern Savers will remind us of that coupon from the coupon insert sent out three weeks ago. We then go back to the stashed inserts and find and cut the coupon. Since coupons do not expire for 2 or more months, this process works well. Plus, I don't have to memorize the coupons in each week's paper. A website does it for me.

In general, we plan our grocery list on Tuesdays and try to go to Publix on Wednesdays. If there are specific deals during the week, we'll stop by another store, but only if it is worth our time. Here is an example. This week, we saw that Smart Balance milk is on sale for $ 2.50/half gallon at Kroger. We have 4 coupons for $1.50 off so we'll buy 4 at $1 each, one day this week.

Here is a non-food related example. Our church is doing a backpack ministry for local school kids, so we started checking the sales ads for school supplies. Sure, we could have gone to Target and bought everything there for $40, but we wanted to be responsible with this just as we are with our other spending. If we can donate two back packs instead of just one, we've maximized our giving and helped two children, for just a little extra effort. For example, we saw that glue sticks were available for 28cents with the deal below. Scissors were on sale for buy one get one free for 1.99 (or $1 each). We used a $1 off coupon for each to get them both for free. Back packs were on sale for 3.99 at Walgreens.

The take home message:
1. To maximize your savings, buy items when they are on sale AND you have a coupon.
2. Save your coupons and obtain extras for good deals that you know about.
3. Utilize couponing websites to alert you of deals so you don't have to do all the leg work.
4. Stock up when you find a really good deal on items that won't go bad

Hope you found this useful, and stay tuned for the final part of our couponing series: Part 4 Practical Ways to Apply

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coupons Part 2: Why We Do It

Many people tell us that they don't have time to cut coupons, and it is "too much of a hassle." So why exactly do we bother doing it?

The main reason, and probably the obvious reason, is that we want to save money. As some of you may know, we have a pretty hefty student loan to pay off from grad school. We made a big commitment to pay off that loan in a little over a year {and it is almost gone!}. We knew that in order to put so much money towards the loan, we would have to save a great deal of money in as many other areas as possible. And well, couponing and shopping sales is a great way to save money {if you don't believe it yet, hopefully you will by the end of our series...or at least consider trying it a couple times yourself}.

On another note, coupons allow us to get the name brands we want at a bargain price. Most of the time, when on sale and with a coupon, the name brand is cheaper than the store brand. Often, you can get an item for free. Right now, we have about 45 boxes of a variety of Ronzoni whole wheat pasta. Since pasta lasts for almost two years, we are well stocked for whenever we want to make lasagna, spaghetti, or any other Italian dish. We also donated another 20 boxes of Ronzoni spaghetti to a church food pantry. Saving allows us to give more to church-related ministries, something we feel called to do.

Lastly, Cary views couponing as a game. It is him vs. the grocery store. He enjoys trying to make the end balance of that grocery bill "zero" and the percent saving as high as possible. I think it is kind of like taking a test. You can go in and "wing it" or you can study up and rock it. Once Cary gets home with all of his purchases {and I try to hide/store them throughout our tiny condo}, I like coming up with meals and then reminding him how little it all cost. Just last night we had a pasta dish with tomato sauce and sauteed veggies for less than about $2.

So hopefully that explains why we are so coupon crazy. I have to admit, I never thought I would be cutting out coupons and filing them alphabetically in a baseball card holder, but it is something that grows on you. Especially, when your grocery bill is in the double digits for the month!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Coupons Part 1: Barriers and Dispelling Myths

It's been a few weeks since I alluded to the couponing series, but here goes. I wanted to do a series on couponing for several reasons: 1) a lot of people ask me questions about it; 2) I commonly hear "I don't have time for that"; 3) I told some co-workers I would. Over the next few weeks, we'll complete a 4 part couponing series. Yes, I said we, so Kelly will write a couple of the posts.

Here are 3 common reasons I hear why people don't coupon: 1) I don't have time; 2) I don't get a Sunday paper; 3) I am particular about the brands I buy.

And to dispel those myths...
1) Couponing doesn't have to take up all of your free time. It is like most anything though, if you want to be good at it, it does take a little practice. The good news is that many people do the leg work for you. We commonly use several websites that will find and describe the deals for each week. So the only thing you have to do is just to go to the store with coupons in hand. We most commonly use Southern Savers, I heart Publix, I heart Wags.

One of the best ideas I've learned to save time is regarding the coupon section in Sunday's paper. My aunt recommend that I cut coupons for products that I know I use and to keep the ad filed away until it expires (usually 3-4 months). This saves time; plus, Southern Savers references which ad to get coupons from when new deals arise. You simply go back and pull the ad, clip the coupon, and you've got a great deal.
2) No Sunday Paper? Well, that's a hurdle tough to jump. You can use online websites for coupons (, Red Plum, Smart Source, and multiple manufacturer's site like Proctor and Gamble), but you will be limited in your ability to take advantage of the weekly deals. Many coupon classes will recommend getting 3-5 papers each week. The Augusta Chronicle costs $1.25 on Sundays but I purchased a Groupon deal for daily delivery at 94 cents/week. Many newspapers offer a discount if you purchase multiples. The Chronicle will sell them at $1/each if you purchase 5. That may seem like a high initial investment, but the return will show up.

3) My Brand is never on sale! This is the easiest myth to dispel. Whether food, toiletries, snacks, household cleaning supplies, or a multitude of other products, there is not only a discount but probably a coupon for the brand you prefer. A couple of examples...Kelly like YoPlus Yogurt. You might have seen my post regarding the regular deal on this yogurt. It's normally $2 for a 4-pack, but Publix sells is buy one get one free ($1/each) and there is a coupon for 50 cents off which will double. In the end, we only pay food tax for her favorite yogurt. We both like Cottonelle toilet paper. It's normally $8 for the double layer 12-pack. It routinely goes on sale for 5.99. When I use a $2 off coupon, we pay half price. Now, I'm sure there is some obscure product that rarely goes on sale or does not have a coupon, but for the most part, most products will have a coupon at some point.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

NYC Part 4: Getting Around

In NYC, there are 3 main options for getting around the city: 1) Subway; 2) Taxi; and 3) Walking. For some, driving would be considered another choice, but definitely not for us. We did a combination of walking and taking the subway, but we never tried a taxi. We had heard good and bad stories about New York taxis, but it was hard for me to justify paying $40 for something we could pay $5 for.

I tried to research on the MTA website and found that the shortest unlimited pass is for 7 days at $29. Instead, we decided to pay per ride, which is $2.10. We correctly assumed that this would be the cheaper option since we would probably not need 14 rides during a 2 and half day trip (although going the wrong way on 3 separate occasions put us awfully close). I've been on the T (Boston), Tube (London), and MARTA (Atlanta), and the NYC Metro is definitely the most confusing. Just when we though we had it figured out, we would realize we were going the wrong way and have to switch to the other side of the street at the next stop.

Similar to some European countries, many people walk in NYC. Whether walking to a subway stop, from a stop to our destination, or touring the city, we spent a great deal of time walking. Good thing there is lots of scaffolding overhanging the sidewalks since it rained each day. And I would definitely recommend some comfortable shoes. I think both of our feet hurt after day one.

All in all, due to the size of NYC, the subway provides an efficient access to the city and a fairly quick way of getting around. Once you are close to your destination, then you can either walk or grab a taxi. Do your research and don't hesitate to ask the locals, they were more than happy to try and help us get around the big city.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

An anniversary tradition

~~We interrupt the NYC trip for a little celebration~~

After returning from NYC, we wanted to celebrate our anniversary in a traditional way: eating the top layer of our wedding cake. We were a little nervous with how it was going to taste, especially when Cary unwrapped the foil and we saw the actual cake.

It looked pretty misshapen, as you can tell. Plus, we didn't know what flavor it was going to be. Our wedding cake was five tiers, with each tier being a different flavor. Neither one of us could really remember what we chose to be on the top.

And it's lemon...

Surprisingly, it wasn't bad. It was still pretty moist and actually tasted pretty good.

And one year ago:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

NYC Part 3: Sights and Sounds

As I've said before, New York was a whirlwind. Our weekend visit was very hectic and fast-paced. We tried to pack in as much as possible while still enjoying the trip. The following are just a few of the things we saw while in NYC. The city is very busy and there is something going on at every turn. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Starting off our on-off bus tour in Times Square
The Empire State BuildingThe largest department store in the world
The U.S. Post Office
The Plaza Hotel
Just FYI: Every hotel in NYC must offer public restrooms. So if you need to go to the bathroom, skip the McDonald's and visit the Plaza.Central Park
Probably my favorite shot from the artist in Central Park
Possibly my second favorite photo from the trip. Using the lamp post to re-charge your scooter...what a brilliant idea!
Trump Tower...inside the walls and floors are made of copper.Of course, we had to stop in Tiffany's & Co.
Thanks to one of the sweet employees, I tried on a sapphire and diamond ring worth $75,000.The Financial District:
The Charging Bull near Wall Street
Outside the New York Stock Exchange