Today I am going to knock out the rest of the questions you all sent in when I asked for questions. My intention was to answer just one a week, but I feel like this has drug on long enough. :) So I am going to answer all of these. Hope you have a cup of coffee handy cause this might take awhile...
I would like to know if you have a couple tips/tricks on saving money in order to become financially free at some point. I would love to be free from debt but right now it seems like we can barely buy groceries.
The best thing I can tell you about saving money is that you have to constantly ask yourself "Is this necessary?" I found that much of what we spent money on was not necessary when we really sat down and listed it all out. So we started cutting everywhere we could. To this day I basically spend money in two places: the grocery store and putting gas in my car. And that's pretty much it. Why? Because I still really ask myself if something's necessary. I also learned to pray for specifics of what we needed. I included several stories about that being part of my spiritual walk in our book Learning To Live Financially Free.
I will say that making a menu using the sale ads from your local grocery store can be very helpful, having meatless dinners can save money, and breakfast for dinner once a week saves money too. Also I have several friends who've made a hobby out of cutting and using coupons. These ladies save TONS of money on groceries by doing this. Unfortunately with the other things I do, I simple can't add that to my life so I don't know much about it. I do know if you google "saving money with coupons," there are a number of sites that will teach you the ins and outs of that. My friend Sherri has a great site to check out http://www.luvabargain.com/
I hope this helps.
I'm so deeply burdened about debt and finances that I can hardly breathe. I feel like an anvil is on my chest. Not sure where to even start when we are barely scooting by.
My heart hurt for you when I read this question. I know that feeling! And I know a lot of other people do too. Please go back and re-read my post from yesterday. Spend some time journaling your feelings. Write in your journal as if you were writing straight from your heart to God's. Give it all to Him. Keep praying, keep working towards getting out of the mess you're in. It takes time, but it is possible. Curt met with a financial counselor who told him the only thing she could see for us to do was to claim bankruptcy. He came home and said he felt like God was telling him that wasn't the answer. So on faith we didn't and instead we made the commitment to do whatever it took to get out of debt. With God all things are possible. Even scaling that mountain of debt you're standing in front of.
Check out our book or Dave Ramsey's site or Crown Financial for more specific information and encouragement for your journey. There is hope. There is freedom. I promise.
I want to hear your strategies for keeping your house clean with all those kids and all you do!
I would like to say that my house is clean all the time. But I have committed to being totally honest and real with you guys so I won't say that. I will say that my house is NEAT pretty much all the time. Here are a few things I've learned to make that happen:
Never walk by something if you can go ahead and put it away. A little saying I heard (don't remember the source) is "Don't put it down, put it away." Usually there are only a few steps difference in putting something in its proper place. Those few steps are worth it, in my opinion. I am working on teaching my kids the same thing-- this works well sometimes and not at all other times.
Along those lines, have a designated spot for everything. You can only put things away if there's a place made for whatever it is. This might take some time on the front end-- buying containers, organizing cabinets, cleaning things out, etc.-- but once it's done, it's fairly easy to stay on top of.
Also, get rid of things. Purge regularly. Donate things to Goodwill or local ministries. If you have more than one of something, do you really need and use it? This will do a lot to eliminate clutter and make things easier to organize.
Many hands do make light work. Between all of my kids and me, we can clean a house in short order! The trick is involving the kids and giving them regular chores. We had a chore chart that worked well for a long time, dividing the house into zones (kitchen zone, living area zone, bathroom zone) and giving each child a different zone for 10 days. There was a list of what we expected for each zone posted on the fridge. This is worth trying if you have at least 3 kids who can help. Now I pretty much just write down chores I want done and assign a child to each one. When they walk in from school, the list is on the kitchen counter waiting for them. They have their snack and they know before they get to go play they must do their assigned chore. It works well! These chores might be put toys away, stairs (I put stuff I've gathered that goes upstairs in their rooms on the stairs-- they have to take it all up), shoes (putting away the shoes that have collected by the back door), a particular bathroom cleaned, the floors vacuumed, the kitchen floor mopped/swept, dusting, etc. Nothing takes more than 15 minutes. They know it's part of living here. They can put in 15 minutes out of a whole day. And we all reap the rewards of a peaceful, uncluttered living environment.
I do laundry every day. I have one basket for the whole house. When that gets full, I do the laundry. Not very scientific, but we never run out of clothes either. The kids for the most part fold the laundry and put it away. Sometimes if I have time or am feeling especially generous, I do it. Curt thinks I never should. Some of y'all have heard his rule: If there's something the kids can do then I never should. I like that rule.
I guess the moral of this answer is, keeping the house clean is a family affair. I am definitely not the only one making a mess, so I shouldn't be the only one cleaning it up.
I have a question about writing...but about a children's book (don't know if you can answer or not)! I have written the words to a children's book and would like to have it illustrated. I know one or two people that can draw, but wasn't sure how to put it together? Do they just draw on white pieces of paper or is there some sort of bound book I need to get?
I must admit I know nothing about children's publishing. I haven't written children's books and it's a whole different segment of the industry. The good news is, my friend Van has! Check out her blog to get to know her. She self-published her book, From The Pound To The Palace, and used a local high school student to do the art work. I love that idea!! She could tell you the specifics of how she did it if you contacted her.
I am speaking at a children's writing convention called Write To Ignite as the keynote speaker in February and I would love for you to attend! Check out the details here: http://www.write2ignite.com/
Phew! Done! If you've read this far, thank you!! It's a good feeling to finish up these questions. I appreciate each person who sent one and I hope that my answers have been helpful in some small way.