Stacey & Brandon's Blog


Up, Up, and Away….

We have been very frugal with our money since starting Project Money, and by frugal, I basically mean we spend next to nothing outside of our very basic living needs.  We’ve nearly eliminated eating out, our entertainment budget has been slashed and we do our very best to keep our life interesting by finding free things to do to keep the life in our relationship.  This weekend, however, we had a very special outing that was months in waiting. 

As we’ve talked about in the past, we have credit card debt.  Eliminating that debt is our first and foremost goal so that we can move on and start a family!  Since meeting Coach Chris and starting Project Money on June 1st, we have completely eliminated using credit cards!  We plan to never use them again.  That’s one of the small habits we’ve embraced by learning to save with Summit Credit Union.  Save for what you want and you shouldn’t need to use credit cards.  In fact, we wanted to close up all of our accounts, but were advised that it may help our credit score if we kept them open and brought their balances down to nothing. 

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Four-eyed Fashion

I donned my first set of eye glasses when I was in first grade back in 1986.  I hated them and I was the only kid in my class with glasses.  I was supposed to wear them all of the time, but instead I frequently hid them in my backpack.  Wearing glasses was NOT cool and since my eye condition meant that contacts weren’t the best option, when I reached middle school and high school I’m fairly certain that I just gave up completely on the glasses.  College was a similar story and only occasionally, when my headaches would get unbearable, would I sport the spectacles.  Now that I’m a grown-up, living in the “real world” and getting old, choosing when I wear my glasses really isn’t an option anymore.  Without my glasses, my headaches come on faster and more frequently and I fear the presence of wrinkles might be happening earlier than they should due to my squinting at the computer screen and road signs. 

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The Best of (Four) Intentions

We started meeting with our financial coach, Chris, in the middle of May.  Our first few meetings consisted of a lot of troubleshooting to determine where we could change our habits and make a significant change in the financial sink hole we were living in.  Chris asked us a lot of questions so that she could get to know us, get to know our spending habits, and so that she could be the best coach possible (which she is by the way!).  We talked about our spending, we talked about our current debt & savings, and we talked about ways to turn the tables on our current financial situation.  We also talked about goals.

One of the things Chris had us work on was a goal-setting exercise where she asked us to set four goals that we wanted to work toward as a couple.  Of course we had a long list of goals we wanted to achieve, but narrowing it down to what we felt were the four most important ones was a bit tricky.  Not only did she have us set goals, but she asked us why those goals were important to us, how we thought achieving the goal would make us feel, and when we wanted to achieve each of the goals by.  I know, right about now you want to know what our goals were/are, but hang tight you’ll have to read further to uncover our intentions. 

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A Golden Homecoming

When I finished college and moved back to my hometown into the real world, I sought out ways to give back to the community in which I was raised.  During high school, I was a 12-season athlete, participating in athletics for all three seasons, each of the four years of high school.  So as I was looking for volunteer opportunities, I became an active member of the Sauk Prairie Sports Boosters and have been a board member for the past four years.  We are a non-profit organization with the goal of increasing the involvement of athletes, teams, families and community members by providing additional funding for Sauk Prairie athletic programs.  I couldn’t think of a better place to give my time than to an organization that did so much for me as a kid.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of spending an evening giving back to my high school alma mater and to the community of Sauk Prairie.  It was Homecoming week and it is tradition for the SP Sports Boosters to host a tailgate party prior to the football game on Friday night and to host the concession stands at the game.  The tailgate and concession stands are one of our largest fundraising events; however attendance in years past has fluctuated due to a number of factors.  This year was different…in the best of ways! 

This year was a year like no other!   We had a record crowd for the tailgate party that ate us out of every last bit of food we had, even after making a last-ditch run to the grocery store.  We also brought in a record number of proceeds from the concession stands.  It may have been due to perfect fall weather.  Or maybe it had something to do with a new football coaching staff and new excitement about the football program.  But most likely it was due to the extra efforts of a special group of people who were dedicated to promoting 50 years of learning!  This year marked the 50th anniversary of Sauk Prairie High School!   There was the traditional dress-up week, a bonfire, a parade, the football game and dance.  In additional to the above events, this great group of volunteers managed to bring together alumni from 1963-2013!  There were organized tours of the high school, which has been renovated a number of times since the first graduating class.  There was the tailgate party, there were fireworks during and after the football game and there was an alumni social reception that followed at The Dorf Haus with a live and silent auction.  All of the proceeds from the alumni social and auctions benefit a major renovation project backed by the Sauk Prairie Sports Boostersnew bleachers at SPHS!!!

It was great to see two communities come together as one!  Homecoming was a huge success and the excitement of the golden anniversary was felt throughout each of the events.  It’s pretty safe to say that being part of an organization like the Sports Boosters was a decision I’m proud of and I can’t wait to continue to give back to in the years to come!





The Boys of Fall

The leaves are starting to change, there is a crisp chill in the air, and this afternoon you might even find a delicious pot of chili brewing at our home.  These seasonal reminders also tell us that it’s football season and at the Steinmetz household, football season is the fifth, and most important, season of the year!

This year, because of Project Money, we had to approach this time of year with a new mentality.  By now, most of you are aware that we live on a budget, and a fairly strict one at that!  So as football season was approaching, we talked about the expenses involved with Fantasy Football and miscellaneous football pools.  Because we were looking ahead on our expenses, we were able to determine if we were going to give these things up completely, budget for these expenses, or utilize our savings buckets, where Brandon and I each have separate “fun” money set aside. 

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Grocery Store Get-Up

As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, prior to Project Money  we had no concept of how to utilize a true budget.  Within the first few meetings with Coach Chris, she held our hand as we tracked numbers and put them into a real budget.  Since those first few meetings, we have done exceptionally well following the guidelines Chris gave us.  The budgetary item that was the hardest to develop and follow was our grocery budget (ugh!).  We are now 3+ months into Project Money, and my how the tables have turned in our budget world!  Our grocery budget is easy-peasy and we wanted to share with you how we’ve gotten to this point!

*Please remember that these are not “rules” that you have to follow.  This is simply the way that we have found works best for our family when we are trying to reduce our spending and shopping/eating on a budget.

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Keeping the USPS Busy

We’ve all heard about the ailing U.S. Postal Service over the past few years.  There has been talk about limiting business hours, cutting mail delivery on Saturdays and most recently the USPS is trying to keep up with its toughest competition by offering free online tracking and free insurance on Priority Mail shipping.  Well, the past few weeks, Team Steinmetz has been doing our own part in trying to keep the postal service in business.

We had planned on organizing a garage sale this Summer/Fall, however we found we didn’t have quite enough “stuff” to attract a big enough crowd, so instead, Brandon has been doing his part by conducting sales on eBay lately.  Only a few things are needed to sell on eBay; a camera, a PayPal account, and a computer.  We have all three of these, so we were set to start selling.  The best part of this scenario is that it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to post the items, and once they are posted, there’s not much else that we have to do on the seller’s end.  Once an item sells, we package it up and Brandon drops it off at our local post office on his lunch break.  Pretty soon they’ll know him by name there!

We haven’t had any major items for sale yet, just simple things like brand new, unworn sneakers and baseball cards.  But just those few items have produced a nice little income for us as we make a valiant effort to save with Project Money.  With each and every sale, our PayPal account is steadily growing and the USPS gains another piece of business from us.  Lastly, I must give credit to Brandon.  With the exception of me writing this blog, he has done everything when it comes to selling on eBay!


A little ‘How To’ about Project Money

This week we had a meeting with Coach Chris and amongst all of the things we talked about, she asked if we knew what we were going to write about for our blog this week.  We bounced a few ideas off of Coach Chris and she mentioned some of her other clients who follow our blog suggested we write a basic Project Money ‘How To’ for those dealing with the struggles we had been facing before entering this amazing journey with Summit Credit Union.

Yesterday Brandon was busy with a Fantasy Football draft with the guys so I spent the day at the lake with friends, old and new.  We ate, drank, laughed, cruised the water and…..talked about Project Money!  I got lots of questions on how to budget, how to pay down debt, what works, what doesn’t, etc.  As Brandon & I talked about our finances this morning and settled on a blog topic, it was obvious that a blog about where we’ve saved or struggled this week wasn’t what we needed to write about.  Instead, we needed to write about the basics for those wondering how we’re able to be successful.  Keep in mind that we are we are still learning and tweaking our ways and by no means are we experts, but something about what we’re doing is working for us, so here are a few ways we think you could benefit!

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Time to Pay it Forward

Last week, Nicky from Team Cross blogged about her $22 nail polish purchase that haunted her over time.  Well, I experienced my first feeling of buyer’s remorse this past week and it turned out to have a pretty cool outcome.

Having short hair, I tend to use a variety of products to keep my style looking fresh between haircuts.  Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different brands and I’ve FINALLY found a hairspray that is just what I need.  It gives me an all-day hold without making me look like a helmet-head.  I don’t love the smell of it and I even mentioned that to my stylist last month when I got my hair done, but it does what I want so I’ll live with the smell.  So when I ran out of hairspray last week, I biked over to my local salon and purchased my trusty can of ‘do-spray. 

I’ve never paid attention to the cost in the past, but this was the first time since being on a budget that I actually listened to what the price was and had to acknowledge what I spent my money on.  As I paid for my transaction, I second-guessed myself silently in my head, but then justified it with flashbacks of all the failed products from the past. 

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Marathon Training…

This topic couldn’t have come at a more opportune time!  I was reminded that today was the 5th annual Madison Mini-Marathon as I saw lots of pictures on Facebook of friends and acquaintances who finished the race today.  Tonight as I was walking the dogs, I tried to pull my thoughts together on what this week’s blog was going to be about.  As I walked, I was listening to The Dave Ramsey Show on iHeartRadio and Dave spoke to one of his callers about his financial journey being a marathon, not a sprint.  That was my Aha moment! 

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