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Last year I re-discovered the website swap-bot.com, a great website for swapping. I also discovered swapping one of my new favorite things: ATC’s–artist trading cards. It’s like little pieces of art and even better, they’re easy to store. They fit in baseball sleeves so I have a great album set up for my collection, which I’ll have to share!

I love creating ATC’s because you get to share your art with others, and sometimes you get the challenge of creating art you wouldn’t have necessarily thought of. This is one of those challenges. The challenge for this swap was to make an ATC using only straight lines. I pulled out a ruler, some colored pens and make an ATC!

And man, what a challenge it was! I don’t consider myself “artistic,” despite the meaning of ATC, I consider myself crafty, so to make something from scratching like this with just pens and a blank piece of paper. It’s so intimidating! I do like what I ended up with, though, and I hope my partner likes it, too.

One of my credit cards offers free FICO scores, so I whipped up some pages to keep track of them. I hope you can use these, too!

A5 - FICO
FICO Score – A5

A5 - FICO - shaded
FICO Score – Shaded – A5

A5 - FICO - no border
FICO Score – no border – A5

A5 - FICO - no border - shaded
FICO Score – no border – shaded – A5

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Well, I’m still chippin’ away! My goal for February is to pay down a big chunk of debt on my credit card, and while I’m not there yet, I have paid most of my bills for the month, and we’re only halfway through the month. I am hoping to take a couple of huge wacks at it in order to make my goal, but for now, I am slowly chipping away at it. I’ll let you know if I made it or not once the end of the month arrives!!

I am still on the fence about sharing my specific debt numbers, I already feel so exposed sharing what step I’m on and what I’m working on paying off (for example, you know I’m officially on Baby Step Two and working on paying off credit card number three). I am hoping to find a debt calculator online so I can tell you what percentage I am — for example, if it’s totally maxed out, that would be 100%. If it’s halfway paid off, then that would be 50%, so I can at least give you an idea of how far along I am on paying it off.

At the end of the day, what counts is I am working on credit card number three, and I am seeing it go down and only down! (The only time it goes up is once a month when interest is calculated.) As you know, I was frustrated by the slow progress of January because I had to stop my debt paydown and complete Baby Step One, so I’m just ready to really see a lot of progression in February, even if it is a short month. I’m in a unique position to throw a lot at it, and I am determined to do what I can, as fast as I can. It’s still going to take a while, but I am going to make a big difference as fast as I can just the same!

Did I mention I’m still on No Spend February? I’m doing really well with that! I haven’t been shopping and have only paid bills, bought gas, things that are necessary and not frivolous. I have something fun coming up at the end of March that was scheduled months ago so if the momentum goes passed February, well, then I’m just going to let it! Because I want to kick as much debt in the butt as I can while I’m motivated to. I tend to have an all-or-nothing attitude, and if I am on a roll with not spending, I need to ride that wave as long as I possibly can. Is anyone else like that? Does anyone else struggle with the all or nothing mentality?

I hope you’re doing well with your spending. Let me know if you have any tips or tricks to getting your finances in order.

Here’s something I thought was fun: I took those Savings Jar and turned them into Journaling Jars! So, in a break from sharing some finance downloads (don’t worry, they’ll be plenty more!), here are two Journaling Jars I created. At first, I totally “emptied” out the jar. I thought it would make a great page “fill” with ephemera, like postage stamps or magazine cut outs, or to draw a scene in. The second thing I did was create a jar with lines because I am a journaler by nature and who wouldn’t want to journal inside the jar?

Journaling Jar - Full
Empty Journaling Jar

Lined Journaling Jar - Full
Lined Journaling Jar

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I had a couple of verses that really meant a lot to me during January’s Sweet Blessings Scripture Writing Plan, which i’m continuing for February because I enjoy it so much.

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Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This verse came during a week I was having a rough time following my financial plan. I have explained in previous posts I felt like my savings “set me back” in my financial goals (I know it didn’t, but it just felt that way) but this verse made me realize that this job I’ve been in, that I feel like God lead me to, that God put me in a better financial situation, has finally given me hope. I have hope for a better financial situation, hope for being debt free, and hope for a future that I didn’t consider even a year ago.

 

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Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; Do not fret–it leads only to evil.

This verse came during an exceptionally difficult week at work, when I felt like everything was going to fall apart. I’m still fighting that fear, but I’m also holding on to hope that God’s plan is bigger than my fears. I have it pinned up next to my bed, as well as taped up at work to remind me to “be the better person,” in my mother’s words.

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I purchased supplies to make what I knew were going to be wonderful earrings full of sand from a local beach. And when I say “full,” they could be filled easily with sand that falls in your shoe when you take a quick walk on the beach. They’re so dainty and light, I love them so! I’ve already been asked to make a pair for someone’s birthday and can’t wait to make some for gifts for a couple friends.

I love the meaning of carrying something local with you — it’s not just any sand, it’s from home.

I have some downloads that have really helped me get my finances together and so I thought I’d share them with you in hopes they’ll help you.

I created the Debt Pay Down page to keep track, and to keep myself motivated, to see the debt go down. Yes, it’s great to keep track of on a spreadsheet on the computer, but it’s nice to pull out my planner and see numbers while I’m fretting, and to look back and see the whole pay-down journey, rather than just what was paid down that month.

I hope the pages help you keep track of your finances and you find as much motivation in using them as I have.

Debt Pay Down Lined
Debt Pay Down – Lined

Debt Pay Down Shaded
Debt Pay Down – Shaded

Debt Pay Down Lilac
Debt Pay Down – Lilac

Debt Pay Down Pink and Green
Debt Pay Down – Pink & Green

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The first thing I did when I decided to start Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step One was The Thousand Dollar Jar. After I created it, I felt completely overwhelmed. How was I going to save that much? Easy–a little at a time. So I created The Hundred Dollar Jar.

And yet–that still didn’t cover everything. I was so motivated to keep going that I thought I could use it for other things as well. Maybe I want to use the jar to break down paying off my credit card into chunks, or save for a vacation, start a Christmas fund–there are so many possibilities! So I created these Custom Savings Jars.

Are you saving for a trip to Disneyland? A new car? Let me know!

Personal Custom Savings Jar
Personal Planner Savings Jar

 

A5 Custom Savings Jar
A5 Custom Savings Jar


Full Size Custom Savings Jar
Full Page Custom Savings Jar

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I’m in a great faith based group on Facebook where someone shared Sweet Blessings, where each month the blog shares a Scripture Writing Plan. It’s amazingly simple–copying verses into a notebook or journal each night before bed, soothing my soul with God’s word and bringing me peace before bed. It’s made more of a difference than I expected in my walk with God.

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I highly recommend adding it to your nightly routine–it’s more than just copying the Word.

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I have already set up my Christmas Journaling for 2017.

Wait–what? In..February?

No…actually, in January. I’m only posting this in January. Yikes.

Really, though! If you’re the kind of crafter I am (read: a little bit lazy), then you do it when the mood strikes.

I love Project Life (and hoard a lot of Project Life supplies, from the sleeves to the cards to random scrapbook ephemera) and purchased a tube of nifty Recollections Christmas washi tape at Micheals before Christmas, intending to do a 25-Days of Christmas journaling project with it on Project Life cards. I have done something similar the last couple of years and really enjoyed it but in 2016 the season just got away from me and it just…did not happen.

I happened to be at Target killing some time before meeting a friend for dinner and found some Christmas countdown stickers for $1 that were 70% off (it was well after January 1st after all!) and picked a couple of them up. I brought them home, tucked them next to the washi tape…and stared at them for a few days, intending to pack them up for the Christmas.

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But I was haunted by some thoughts. What if those stickers got crushed? They were rather thin, and I don’t normally pack my Christmas scrapbooking supplies away in the Christmas decorations. Would I remember what I wanted to do with them when I unpacked for the 2017 Christmas season? Would I even be able to find them? Then the thought started to niggle in the back of my mind…why don’t I just make the cards? I have the Project Life cards, I don’t need to buy anything else. Seriously, why not just make them?

After a week or so, that’s what I did. I often have decompression sessions where I sit on my bed after work and watch YouTube videos, except this time I busted out the stickers and washi tape. While I listened to a couple of interviews, something I would have done anyway, I made my count down cards and tucked them into the Project Life pockets.

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They were simple–just wanted I wanted–with room at the top to stamp or write the date and plenty of lined room to write whatever I decided the upcoming year (one year, it was something I’d done to get ready for Christmas, whether it was shopping or wrapping gifts, and another year it was answer Christmas related writing prompts my sister had tucked into an advent calendar).

I liked the simplicity so much, I made two sets. If someone wants to join me in a Christmas Journaling project for 2017, we’ll be all ready for it–sometimes, just having everything prepared is half the battle. If not, then maybe I’ll be ready for Christmas 2018, too. Either way, both sets are tucked into of of my Project Life albums and are sitting on a shelf, safe from being crumpled or crushed. They might be done a bit early, but sometimes a quick, simple project is all you need to stop your fingers itching to craft and still your troubled mind.

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