Not Keeping up with the Jonses- Making the Halfway Mark in your Debt Snowball

I am more than thrilled.  12 months into starting Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps’ Plan my husband and I are more than halfway through our debt snowball. What does that mean exactly?  It means that we have paid off more than half of the total amount of debt we started off with as of July 2014.

What is a debt snowball?  A debt snowball according to Dave Ramsey’s baby steps is when you list all of your debts (not including your mortgage) from smallest to largest and start paying them off in that order (regardless of interest rates).  You make minimum payments on all debts except the smallest and you throw all the money you can at that smallest debt.  When you knock out the smallest debt you take the amount you were throwing at that debt add it to the minimum payment you were making on the second smallest debt and work on that one.  You continue to use this method until you have knocked out all your payments.

For more visual learners, it looks something like this. . .

Debt                      Debt Amount                Payment Amount
1. Credit Card 1        $1,000                           $500 plus any extra at the EOM
2. Credit Card 2        $2,500                          $150
3. Student Loan        $5,000                          $180
4. Car Payment         $8,000                          $400

When you pay off debt number 1 after 2 months your revised snowball looks like this. . .
1. Credit Card 2       $2,200                            $650 (500 +150) plus any extra
2. Student Loan       $4700                             $180
3. Car Payment        $7354                             $400

It’s an amazing simple process.  I only wish I had begun it sooner.  Now we just have to keep trudging along.  2 debts left.  I feel so much lighter than I did a year ago.  I feel smarter (for having started this plan).  I feel more in control of my life and I definitely feel more in charge of my finances.   It is possible tp regain your finances, to take back control of your life.  You just have to take the first step.

5 Ways Pets Prepared Me for Motherhood

For years I worked in animal rescue and when I finally took the plunge from fur babies to human babies I quickly learned that those years in animal rescue helped prepare me for the adventures of motherhood (or did they?)

Grooming

You would think clipping hundreds of tiny little cat claws and dog nails would help prepare you for the task of trying to clip tiny little human nails. I’ll take trimming a critter’s nails over those of a squirmy little babe any day. At least with the critters you can wrap them in a towel or lie on top of them and accomplish the job in one sitting. (I don’t think CPS would take too kindly if you tried these methods with your mini human). When trimming the nails of a toddler I am lucky to get one hand’s worth of nails total in one sitting, it takes all week to get all 20 little fingers and toes trimmed and by the time you do accomplish this feat, it’s time to start over.

Rise and Shine

I had a diabetic cat for a period of time that required insulin shots in the morning and evening with his morning and evening meal. This cat would wake me up every morning by sitting on the pillow and meowing next to my head. If I would shoo him away he would sit in the hallway (just outside of sock throwing range) and continue his serenade until I would get my lazy butt out of bed to give him his shot and his breakfast. This helped prepare me for a toddler who bounces awake first thing in the morning, pulls all my covers off, grabs my hand and tugs me out of bed.  (In all honestly both ways are more effective than the alarm clock that has a snooze button.)

Rules Boundaries and Limitations

According to expert dog trainer, Cesar Milan when training dogs you need to give them rules, boundaries, and limitations.  His same theory can be applied to training; um, I mean teaching, your toddlers and small children. You must be the pack leader. You set the rules for the child and if they do not follow the rules they can go to time out (although I don’t suggest using the dog kennel for the child’s time out, again CPS might frown upon this practice). Repetition will be required. When your child masters following commands, um, I mean behaving properly, a trip to the park is a great reward. Unlike with pups I do not recommend using food as a reward during training with children (unless it’s broccoli and mini carrots).

Poo

If you have pets you are already somewhat of an expert at poo, or so you think. Let me warn you cleaning cat boxes and picking up poo in the yard is nothing compared to the bowels of a baby. Hand me the litter scoop and doggie bags any day because I’d much rather clean up that mess than the one in my child’s diaper. I did quickly learn, though, the doggie poo bags are excellent for bagging dirty, smelly diapers.  I promise you one of the best tricks I ever learned was keeping a roll of doggie poo bags in the diaper bag, you never know when they will come in handy.

Unconditional Love

One thing that’s great about our pets is that they shower us with unconditional love. Dogs are super happy to see us when we get home every day, drowning us in slobbery kisses and cats will rub against your legs and purr (especially if you’re near the food bowl to show us they at least tolerate our presence in their house). A child’s response to us is even more heartwarming. Their little eyes light up when we pick them up from daycare and they run uncontrollably around the room screaming and expressing their joy at our return. They throw their little arms around us and smile and laugh. It is in those little smiles and laughs and the almost bursting fullness you feel in your heart that will lead you to realize that this is a love that your pets never even came close to preparing you for.

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Animals and Instincts

I don’t understand people who don’t have pets.  I guess it goes back to the way we were raised.  We always had animals in the house.  Cats, Dogs, Fish, Hermit Crabs. . . we even brought home a class rodent, although in a house full of cats, let’s just say the rodent was lucky to go back to school.

For those of you who haven’t had pets let me tell you something. Animals and humans share an amazing bond with one another.  Animals enrich our lives.  They entertain us.  They keep us going when things aren’t the best.  Sometimes they can be the only reason we get out of bed in the morning.  They truly are our friends.

When I had a child, I was worried just a bit about how the animals would react to my son, but it didn’t take long before they welcomed him into our herd (or for some, learned to tolerate him.)  It never ceases to amaze me how well our animals behave with our son, who is not always on his best behavior with them.

Our dog suffers the brunt of it.  When he learned how, the babe, started telling our poor dog “No” to everything.  He bosses her around and tells her what she can and can’t do.  He puts his hats on her, puts Tupperware on her head, lays on top of her, steals her toys, occasionally tries to ride her, pulls her fur and ears on occasion and she just takes it.  She has never growled at him (although when he was very small she growled at me for blowing raspberries on his tummy because she thought I was growling at him.)  If he gets too rough, she licks him in the face to occupy his hands or walks away from him.  She also plays tug of war with the babe, or takes him for wild chases around the house.  The babe, in return for their exchanges, is in charge of feeding her dinner every evening.  (And he also shares all sorts of goodies with her, whether we want him to or not.)

Sadie accompanies us to the park every time we go.  We take her to the dog park and then the babe to the kids’ park.  In the old days of the dog park before my son was born Sadie would run around wildly if she didn’t want to leave when I wanted her to, but now a simple “It’s time to go bye-bye” is all it takes for her to accompany us to the gate to leave.

Yesterday when we were at the park Sadie became very interested in one of the incoming dogs. I had let the babe out of his stroller to run around since it was just us, and two other dogs and humans we knew.  (Normally I never let him out of the stroller because there are too many dogs and being a toddler he doesn’t quite understand that 1. Not all dogs are nice and want to be pet and 2. The dogs could hurt him).

When the new dog made an appearance Sadie played her normal greeter at the gate.  She is very vocal and one of the incoming dogs was also being very vocal, but in a way that made me slightly uncomfortable.  I left the babe with a friend and pulled Sadie away from the gate to let the new dogs in.  There owner kept the leash on the questionable dog.  A dog being kept on leash at the dog park is never a good sign.  Sadie went to sniff the dog and he growled.  Sadie is a herding dog and has a thing for trouble dogs at the dog park.  She tends to try to herd the trouble makers away from the main pack.  I have broken up a few dog scuffles at the park (usually over toys) and know my limitations.  A child, a stroller and a dog is too much to handle if things get uncomfortable so I made the decision to put the babe in the stroller to head over to his park.  Sadie stayed near the troublesome dog until I called her to go bye bye.

I’m glad that we left when we did.  I got a text not much later that the troublesome dog had gone after my friends’ dog after we left.  I am grateful for animal instincts and mothering instincts and that the combination of the two kept us safe yesterday.  So, if you’ve never had a pet I highly recommend one.  (Although if you already have children sometimes it’s better to wait until they are a bit older than toddler age to introduce one).  Every little boy (or girl) should have a dog (or cat).008