Party-size Chipotle-style Guacamole

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If a little bit of fresh guacamole is good, a lot of it is great!  This recipe tastes just like the green gold from Chipotle and comes together in about 10 minutes. Ingredients: 4 Hass Avocados 1 Jalapeño pepper, seeded … Continue reading

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Honey Chipotle Glazed Boneless Chicken Thighs | Product Review

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I received a pack of Urban Accents Santa Fe BBQ Dryglaze as a gift.  It had been sitting in the drawer for a while and I got the itch to try it.  I’m glad I did because it’s fantastic on … Continue reading

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Dutch Oven Baked Red Potatoes

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These dutch oven baked red potatoes make an easy side dish for any dinner.  Prepping goes quickly and they cook in about an hour.  I made these to go with some grilled honey chipotle glazed boneless chicken thighs and it … Continue reading

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Happy Mother’s Day

Raun's Blog

First of all, happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there.

Mother’s Day, for the past couple of years has been a time of quiet introspection in our house.  Liz was a mom before Timothy arrived.  She has a daughter.  She didn’t have any of the physical mothering duties to attend to, but that doesn’t change the fact that Samantha is her child.

We celebrated by going out for breakfast at the recently opened Daily Diner in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul (which was really good, by the way).  We had to hold and feed a fussy baby, but we’re happy to have the opportunity this time.

While we were out, it was amazing to me how many people wished Liz a happy Mother’s Day and asked if it was her first.  We’d say yes, not interested in explaining the whole thing.  This was to strangers.

What surprised me is how many people that walked with us after Samantha passed that specifically called this Liz’s first Mother’s Day.  I know they didn’t mean anything by it, but it amazes me how soon we forget what others have gone through.

Happy THIRD Mother’s day, Liz!

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We cheated

Raun's BlogWe’ve been out of debt, aside from our home mortgage, for 4 years now.  We realized we couldn’t get ahead by being behind.

We were never in particularly bad shape.  By the time we got serious about paying off our debt, all we had was about $12,000 in student loans.  We had been working through for a few years just paying the minimum payment.  If we had continued on that path, we’d still be paying now and have a few years to go. We talked about how we *should* really get around to paying this thing off, but we never executed the plan.

One day, I realized that when my 13 year old car died, we couldn’t replace it.  That was the day everything became real.  We started looking at our finances and realized that we had been slowly bleeding cash for 2 years.  We looked for ways to cut expenses and found a few, but it wasn’t enough.

Within 3 months, we both found better paying jobs — we doubled our income.  And that was it.  The squeeze was gone.  With that, we started putting at least $1000 a month toward that loan.  With an income tax refund, we finished paying it off in 9 months.  Debt free.  What a relief!

We continued saving that $1000 per month to be able to replace my car, cover some home improvement projects, and to save for emergencies.

As I said, that was 4 years ago.  But we cheated.

Since our income went up so dramatically and so quickly, we never practiced a real budget.  When money comes in faster than you can spend it, you get sloppy.  We sure did.

We never took the time to really iron out our budget.  I knew how much our bills were going to be in a given month, but I didn’t pay attention to any of the other spending.  We didn’t have to.

Now we’re paying for it.  We are just starting to do the real work of writing up the monthly budget, categorizing everything, and most importantly, examining the results at the end of the month.

Here’s the weird part:  It’s actually fun.  I didn’t push the issue for years because I didn’t think it would be worth the effort and I didn’t want to accept what the outcome might be.  We found so many ways that we were wasting money that it is sickening.

We model the budget and our personal finances based on Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover.  It makes a ton of sense and I only regret not having started for real years ago.

What do you do to keep your family finances in line?  What could you be doing better?

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