Paying Down Debt – August 2016


I am pretty excited about this update because we are finally down to only FOUR DIGITS of debt!!!!


Do you realize how close that makes us?  That feels like almost nothing after we started with $82,000 in the hole.  And after our April and May, I wasn’t even sure if we’d get to this point by the end of the year.  Our goal is so near and we still have almost four months left.

This month moved the needle more than any other month.  Just in August alone we were able to pay off $6,289.  I can’t believe that was even possible.  That’s more than double a typical month for us.  Click here to see our progress.

Here’s what we did in August:

  • I had an unexpectedly awesome month with my Bondbons business.
  • My husband worked his tail off painting.  He was given an awesome opportunity to paint apartments for three weeks.  He was seriously gone for about 12-14 hours a day, but it obviously paid off.
  • I did some curriculum work for my school district {always a super fun way to end the summer}
  • Our water and gas bill were lower than expected—the extra money was put toward debt.
  • We have money allotted to go into our emergency fund every month should we have to dip into it, but we haven’t had to for about three months.  I was going to leave it in there to help cover next summer’s expenses, but decided to go ahead and pull it out and throw it at the debt.  We can save up that money after our balance is $0.

I’ll close with this:

You know those memories that pop up on Facebook?  I came across this post {which was actually from July . . . but we’ll apply it to August, okay?}.


I remember that night of July 25th, 2013.  My husband and I had one of the biggest fights over money in our marriage.  We were desperate.  I put this question out there as a plea for help, and thanks to the comments I was made aware that our own church was hosting classes for FPU.

Just a few weeks later, I posted this in August:


Three years later, we have paid off over $72,000 simply by living below our means, budgeting, and putting in extra work.  CRAZY.  I had no idea we would be this close to being done so quickly {I was thinking it would take us six-ten years minimum at first}.

I’m so glad we made the decision to take those classes together three years ago.

Looking forward to posting about September.


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Paying Down Debt – June+July 2016

I recently started using the MyFitnessPal app in order to better track my caloric intake.  I was a bit depressed when it was discovered that to lose any weight, I could only consume 1,200 calories a day.  By the way, my husband is allowed over 3,000 calories {and I hate him}.

So . . . 1,200 calories.  That’s it.  I quickly realized that I had to make conscious efforts to meal plan, measure portions, research, and find healthier alternatives.  Oh, but fun news! If I exercise, I can eat more.  Like, if I walk about 300 steps, I can have an extra cup of kale.

Yay . . .

Dieting is so much like budgeting.  It’s no wonder that so many Americans are overweight, broke, or both—it’s way easier and fun just to eat and spend how you want.  But weight isn’t going to magically come off and debt isn’t going to magically go away.  You have to be proactive about both.  My 1,200 allotted calories is like my budget.  I can’t “spend” more than that or I’m not going to see results.  But if I want to eat a little more, well . . . I’ve gotta take a few laps around the block.  If I want to see my debt go down, I have to live within my means and work some extra hours.

Working extra hours.  That is something my husband and I have done nonstop since we started this journey to become debt-free almost 3 years ago.  Luckily we have a lot more time over the summer since we’re both teachers.  We’ve cut back so much on spending the last few years, but the key to our success has definitely been a lot of overtime.

I am happy to report that June and July have been way more auspicious than April or May. We were able to pay off $6,966 of student loan debt in those two months!!!  This does not even include all the business debt my husband had to pay off as well.  To see our current balance, click here.

Here is what we’ve been doing over our summer “break”:

  • I worked on a curriculum committee for several days
  • I taught summer school during the month of June.
  • Randy has been painting nonstop {like 12-14 hours a day at times}
  • I helped Randy paint, again, and it was horrible, again
  • I supervised the ACT on a Saturday morning
  • Randy fixed up a couple of vehicles and sold them {he used to be a mechanic}
  • July was extremely busy for my Bondbons business.  Not only have I had a lot of orders {when summertime is typically slow}, but I’ve been hired for several future weddings.

I thought I’d share a strategic move I made for those of you number-crunching-nerds like me.  One reason our payout was so high in June {which in and of itself was not an awesome month} was because my husband and I both received our June, July, and August paychecks at the beginning of the summer {well . . . after the Kansas legislature decided it was important to adequately fund public education}.  Anyway, I took the amount that we pay toward student debt every month from our salaries and made one big payment in June instead of making those payments in July and August.  I did this for two reasons.  1) April and May were so horrible that I needed to see that balance go down in a big way to get me motivated again. 2) By paying a large chunk sooner allowed our lovely interest that accrues daily to go down.  We ended up saving us around $25, just by making those payments one and two months ahead of time.  Not a ton, but every bit helps.

Oh, and by the way, since starting MyFitnessPal in late May, I’ve only lost about 2 pounds. I’m clearly better at budgeting the checkbook than the snacks.  {wink}.

Stay tuned for our August update.


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Paying Down Debt – May 2016

Well, last month I bluntly proclaimed that April sucked but had high hopes that May would be better.

It wasn’t.

{Insert incredibly frustrated sad face with one small tear trickling down the cheek}.

In order to pay off our student loan debt by our goal date, which is December 31st of 2016, we have to pay off about $3,000/month.  We allot $1,218 from our teaching salaries each month to go toward the debt {we were able to “find” that much money from canceling cable, limiting our grocery bills, putting a hold on our kids’ college funds and our retirements funds, etc.}.  The other $1,782 has to come from extra work we do.  Because of many different factors in April, we weren’t able to put any extra money toward our debt, so we were only able to pay off $1,211.

This past May we were only able to pay off $1,158.  You can click here to see our current balance.

Despite making little progress, we’re still working our butts’ off.  That’s what is so frustrating.  It feels like being someone who only eats kale and works out 16 hours/day, but is still fat.

Here were some of our roadblocks this past month:

  • May is typically one of my busiest months for my Bondbons business.  People order for Teacher Appreciation Day, Mother’s Day, graduation parties, and Memorial Day. For whatever reason,  I had few orders this year and May ended up being one of my slowest months since the inception of my business.
  • Remember that huge house I mentioned last month that Randy’s painting crew was four weeks behind on?  Yeah . . . they’re STILL not done.  Because of the rain and other personal issues, they’re now eight weeks behind.  No one gets paid until it’s finished.
  • We still had some extra summer expenses that had to be paid.  The little extra we made had to go toward that.
  • Randy had some unforeseen business expenses that have actually put his business in debt.  I thought about adding that to our debt total, but decided not to since I feel it is a separate matter.  However, a large chunk of his business profits will be going toward the business debt instead of the student loans for the next several months.

Sadly, the future may look worse.  Randy and I are both public school teachers in Kansas, and as of right now, Kansas schools may not even be able to open in the fall.  We’re praying that the government is able to solve this and everything will be fine, but for now, we will be socking away as much money as possible just in case.  If a solution isn’t figured out by June 30th, we won’t receive pay checks after July.  Until then, we will only pay the minimum payment on our student loans, which is $218.

Guess how much of that will go to interest.


Sigh . . .

As I mentioned earlier, we still have been working extremely hard.  Here are a few things we did in May in addition to our teaching jobs to generate more income:

  • I supervised every Saturday detention we had in May {I usually do one or two a month}.  There was not a Saturday I got to sleep in.
  • Randy has been working on some painting jobs on his own.  There were a couple of nights in May he didn’t get home until 4:00 in the morning and then turned around and taught the next day.
  • I put in over 30 hours of working with two home bound students through my district.
  • A friend of ours started building custom tables and hired Randy to do the finish on all of them.
  • I subbed as much as I could during my plan periods.
  • Since my Bondbons business has been extremely slow, I started helping my husband paint.

Y’all, that last one . . .

Let me tell you something.  I loathe painting.  I would seriously rather pop the pimples of a stranger. {By the way, if anyone would actually pay good money for that, let me know}.

When you paint a house, you get sweaty, messy, and there’s like . . . bugs and stuff outside.

Nonetheless, I told the husband that if I wasn’t going to be busy fulfilling cake pop orders, I might as well help him get painting jobs done to help speed up the process.  The first time I helped him, I painted outside for five hours straight.  I thought my entire arm was going to fall off the next day.

I will continue to do it though—I refuse to sit at home and do nothing while we’re wallowing in debt.  I just keep thinking of how sweet our life will be once we’re debt free. The freedom we’ll have for ourselves and the ability to give outrageously will be priceless. That is worth a summer of getting sweaty and messy.  Oh, and even the bugs.

When we’re out of debt, I vow to never touch a paintbrush again.

June looks grim, but I pray it will be better.  I’ll update regardless.


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Paying Down Debt – April 2016

I am going to be blunt.


Even though Randy and I still worked our butts off, not one extra dime was able to go toward our debt {other than what we already budget from our salaries}.

Because life.

Here are just a few things that life threw at us this past month:

  • We unexpectedly owed on our taxes {when we expected a return}. Blah.
  • Our “tax guy” who we’ve used for the past eight years charged us almost double what we’ve paid in the past without warning {he unfortunately lost a  loyal customer . . . I’m not about that kind of inflation}.
  • Even though we usually budget well for all the everythings in life, I did not do a good job of budgeting for our upcoming summer expenses—summer camps for the kids, a family reunion, swimming lessons, etc. It’s a lot and most of it had to be paid right then.
  • We had to pay the tags and taxes for our vehicles {I usually use our tax returns to pay for this  . . . but that didn’t happen}.
  • Randy’s painting crew was supposed to be finished with a large job four weeks ago, and they STILL ARE NOT DONE!!!
  • I had a fairly slow month with my Bondbons business.
  • Randy dropped his brand new cell phone in a cup of coffee {of all things} and had a pay a pretty penny to have it repaired.
  • Our children had to attend child care before and after school—something they rarely have to do {and each time costs money}.
  • ‘Tis the season for those dang baby ants.  Anyone else have those? We had to hire the exterminator to come out.
  • And the worst: Randy’s sweet 93-year-old Grampie passed away.  This not only emotionally took a toll on us, but extra time and money went into trips to the hospital to visit him before he passed, the visitation, funeral, burial, etc.

So, yeah . . .

To meet our goal of being debt-free by the end of 2016, we have to put at least $3,000 toward our student loans each month.  This month, we were only able to do $1,211.

That’s not even half.

Amid my grumblings above, I am thankful that we at least still put a dent in the balance. It could be worse.  We could have made no progress at all, or even gone further into debt. It’s still incredibly frustrating though.

Like I said, we still worked our butts off.  I was not able to sleep in one Saturday in April because I was either supervising the ACT or a detention. During one detention, a detainee called me a “bitch” for asking him to remove his hat . . . so . . . that was nice.

My husband and I also catered a wedding at the end of April.  The bride and groom ordered 65 dozen bondbons {that’s 780!} for their big day.   I love doing weddings.


The Bonds catering Bondbons.

We weren’t the only ones who worked hard.  Our kids did too.  They had to pull some weight into raising money for their summer activities.  One thing they did was go door-to-door around our neighborhood and sold candy bars.  They did pretty well and, in my opinion, were the cutest solicitors our neighbors have ever encountered.


My kids selling candy bars to raise money for summer camps.

Oh!  And one more thing to add to the list.  I found $0.35.  That was definitely put to good use. {wink}.

I’m praying that May will be a much better month.


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Paying Down Debt – March 2016

I usually try to come up with something funny, thoughtful, or inspirational to share at the beginning of these posts, but I just don’t have it in me this month for our debt update.

Sorry, kids.

Nothing particularly interesting happened this month, but we were still able to pay off $2,973 in March.


Click here to see our latest balance.

We’ve done the same old same old this past March:

  • I have continued tutoring a home bound student
  • I have subbed as much as possible during my plan period
  • Randy and his crew have done a lot of painting
  • We sold some stuff around the house through Facebook
  • I’ve supervised detentions
  • I had a successful month with Bondbons
  • I have done some committee work through school
  • We’ve made a point to be exceptionally frugal

I am happy to report that we have now paid off 70% of our debt.  Eek!

This March we celebrated both our son and daughter’s birthdays.  Birthdays can get expensive, but since we budget for birthdays, Christmas, and other gifts throughout the whole year, this was not an added financial stress this month.  Do you know how much more enjoyable it is to celebrate your child’s special day when you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay for everything?

Well, it’s glorious.

Stay tuned for our next update.


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Paying Down Debt – Jan/Feb 2016

Life is busy.  It’s even busier when you’re on the fast track to paying off debt.  I did not have a chance to write at the end of January, and I’m just now writing at the end of February {AKA—the middle of March . . . don’t hate}.

The past two months have been hard.  My main avenue for making extra money to throw at our debt is through my Bondbons business, but I knew January was going to be a slow month.

Side Note: Doesn’t January just flat out suck?  If I could get rid of one month, it would be January. Everyone is broke, fat, and cold.  That’s it.  It’s good for nothin’.

Anyway . . . January wasn’t just slow.  It was Puh-Thet-Ic.  I had hardly any orders, but  I was optimistic about making up for it in February with Valentine’s Day.  Unfortunately, I only ended up with about 35% of the orders I was expecting.

It was Bummer-ville at the Bonds.

But we have a goal to reach—and that is to be completely debt-free {other than our home} by the end of this year, so we had to utilize other avenues to make this happen. Despite some set backs, we were still able to pay off $3,649 in January and $4,132 in February.  Those numbers are huge for us.  You can see our current balance by clicking here.

Here’s how we did it:

  • Randy majorly downgraded his wheels . . . he sold his cute little car and has started driving the van that he uses for his painting business.  It’s not cute, but it’s worth it.
  • I started using the ibotta app.  In a nutshell, I get rebates on groceries.  You can also make money on referrals.  In just two weeks I racked up $130 that I was able to transfer to my PayPal and pay off debt.  If you sign up using my code {fjovarx} you will receive $10 and I’ll get $5.  Try it.  It’s fun.
  • Randy’s painting business was profitable.  PTL!
  • I have tried to sub during my plan period at work as much as possible {I make $20 each time I do it}
  • Randy bought, fixed up, and sold another car and made a nice profit.
  • I have been fortunate to work as a home bound teacher for most of the school year. The sweet girl who I’ve worked with since August finally got to return to school in February. Fortunately I was given another student to work with the very next week. I work with him about four hours/week.
  • Randy switched his business account to another bank that requires a much smaller minimum balance {something I did with my business account back in December}.  This was a difference $700!
  • I have supervised Saturday morning detentions and worked on a curriculum committee at school {both offer extra duty pay}
  • Our gas bill was $80 lower than usual–so $80 went straight to the debt
  • I taught a cake pop class at Sweet! Baking Supply in Lawrence.
  • We’ve saved a ton of money with fuel prices being so low. We’ve saved even more money by using our Kroger Fuel Points.  In February, we were able to fill up 35 gallons for only $11.52!!!  35 gallons would have cost us about $135.00 just a few years ago.  The money we’ve saved has gone straight to debt.
  • I sold cake pops at Trails Market and Gallery for Topeka’s First Friday Art Walk in February.
  • We’ve also been incredibly frugal.  We rarely dine out, spend money on entertainment, and refrain from shopping for anything that’s not a necessity.

I want to touch on something before I close.

Do I think college is ridiculously too expensive?


Are interest rates too high on student loans?


Does paying student loans make life difficult and strain finances?


However, these student loans are OUR responsibility. We are the ones who went to college and took out the loans.  No one forced us to enroll at a university or tricked us into being in debt.  That was our choice.  It was also our foolish decision not to pay on them for years and to live in denial as the balance accrued over $25,000 in interest.

Randy and I are not sitting back and whining about our debt situation—hoping that the government will swoop in and fix our problems, and our decisions and mistakes certainly are not the fault of the wealthy in this country.

We are taking action for our choices.  After several years of sacrifice, it will all pay off.



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2015 – Paying Down Debt

Whoa.  Happy New Year!

I’m going to be honest.  I’m a little nervous about it being 2016 because Randy and I set a goal that by December 31st of this year, we would be completely out of debt {except for our home}.  We still have a long way to go, but I don’t want to focus on that for this post.  I want to focus on how far we’ve come.

If you haven’t read about how we got on this kick to pay off debt, read this.

My husband and I started this journey in September of 2013.  In 2014, we mainly just cut parts of our lives {like cable and dining out} and reallocated our money so that we could dump more into our debt.  By simply doing that, we paid off $14,200 in just one year.

Not bad, eh?

But by the end of 2014, I was so beyond sick of our debt.  If we just paid off $14,200/year, it was going to take us over four more years.  I wanted to be done in like . . . well . . . way less time than that. A fire was lit under me, and I had this desire to go crazy gazelle intense on our student loans.  I wanted to rid of it as soon as possible. I told Randy that we had to do whatever it took to be complete out of debt by the end of 2016.

Any chance I could get, I was listening to the Debt-Free Screams on the Dave Ramsey Show.   You can click on the link below to watch a continuous stream of over 500 videos of people who go on the show to describe their journey and celebrate their victory—their new found freedom. It’s crazy inspiring to hear the stories of people who have walked in our shoes.

I am proud to say that since we really kicked it into gear in 2015, Randy and I paid off $24,923.


That’s over $10,000 more than the year before.  

Just over two years ago we were $82,000 in debt.  That number was so scary.  It was paralyzing.  It caused us to just crawl into a hole and live in denial.  After taking control, our balance has gone from $82,000 to $36,000 in just 28 months.   See details by clicking here.

This didn’t just happen.   We didn’t inherit money.  No one else has helped us.  We are two teachers with kids—surely you know we’re not raking in the big bucks.   This has required many sacrifices and hours of extra work each week.  We’ve been intentional with every single minute of the day and every single dime that has come our way.

So what exactly did we do?

  • We got on a very tight budget and decided where every dollar needed to go.  If you need help setting up a budget, I recommend
  • We started paying with cash way more.  Even though we paid off our credit card bill each month, research shows you’re likely to spend 18% more with plastic-–that was definitely true for us.
  • We changed things around with our home security system, cell phones, etc. and put the money we saved toward debt.
  • We also worked our tails off.


  • worked construction and painting jobs full time during the summer and nights/weekends during the school year
  • worked on cars for people {he used to be a mechanic}
  • got his local minister’s license and performed a wedding in the fall
  • helped organize our family garage sale where we sold tons of stuff
  • even won $20 playing a friendly poker game . . . not how I would recommend making money, but, HEY—it went straight to the debt. Every dollar counts, right?

In addition, I: 

  • sold lots and lots of bondbons, and thanks to a local bakery who started referring us, I had marketrecord-breaking profits from September – December
  • taught about eight different cake pop classes
  • started selling cake pops at vendor events
  • supervised detentions on Saturday mornings at my school
  • started tutoring a girl with Cystic Fibrosis who is home bound from school
  • line-judged for volleyball meets
  • taught summer school
  • served on a curriculum committee for my school district
  • supervised several ACT tests on Saturday mornings

I always hesitate to post this for fear of sounding like we’re bragging. Dear readers, please know that is not the case at all.  I list all of those things to show you that it’s possible!  If we can do it as two teachers with kids, you can do it, too.   Sometimes people just don’t know where to start.  And I’ve talked to so many people who just feel hopefully and that they’ll always be in debt.  If you are intentional, you have the power to change your future.

2015 has been exhausting, but when I look back and see that we paid off almost $25,000 in debt this year alone . . . it is all worth it.

Here’s to 2016 and the high hopes that it will be our last exhausting year like this because we really really want that balance to be $0.00 in the next 366 days {good thing it’s a Leap Year to give us extra time . . . wink}.

Next update will be in February.  Stay tuned.


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The Ultimate Guide to Kroger Fuel Points

PTL gas prices have dropped since last year, but the average household is still expected to spend nearly $2,000 at the pump in 2015. What if you could save $35 on one fuel up? Better yet, what if you could save hundreds over the course of a year?

Saving money at the pump is essential for our family because we are not easy on the ol’ odometer.  My husband’s long work commute means at least 25,000 miles on his car alone each year.  The cost of gasoline can put a huge dent in our budget. Because of this, we’ve managed to figure out how to rarely pay full price for fuel.  In fact, we save over $600/year on average and in January of this year, we were able to get gas for as little as $0.73/gallon!

$1.00 off/gallon in January of 2015.

$1.00 off/gallon in January of 2015.

How is this even possible, you ask?



  • Do you have a Kroger, Dillons, Bakers, or another Kroger grocery chain in your neighborhood?  You must first sign up for a “Plus Card” at the store—it’s FREE and takes about two minutes.
  • Use your Kroger Plus Card in various ways to gain points (details below).  For every 100 points you rack up, you’ll earn $0.10 off/gallon of gas.
  • Each receipt from Kroger will print out your total points.  You can also set up an account to check your fuel points online.
  • When you go to a Kroger gas station, simply swipe your Plus Card and it will give you an option to receive your discount.


  • Kroger allows you to use up to 35 gallons for one fill up.  If you’ve earned 1,000 fuel points in one month, that can be a total of $35 OFF!  If you earn $1.00 off/gallon at least once a month (filling up 35 gallons), you’ll save $420 in a year!
  • In order to take advantage of this, my husband and I coordinate our gas up trips and make sure our gauges are concurrently on E.  It’s a science, really.  My minivan holds 18 gallons and his car holds 12.  We bring along a gas can or two and VOILA—we’ve filled up 35 gallons and saved ourselves some serious dough.  Even if we have only $0.20 off/gallon, we do this.  That’s still $7.00 we’re saving if we fill up together.
  • What if you don’t have 35 gallons to fill?   Let’s say you’re single with a car that only holds 12 gallons.  Bring two or three large gas cans with you.  If you’re getting $1.00 off/gallon, you’re still saving $22-$27.  You could also share with a friend.  Have your bestie meet you at the gas station, use your remaining fuel points, and then write you a check for their amount.

Now, let’s learn how to rack up those points.  Here are my seven best tips for earning the most fuel points possible.

#1 GROCERY SHOPPING558333048_a56ec83123_n

The most common way to earn points is to simply buy groceries.  You know, that thing you do anyway to be able to, um . . . SURVIVE. Every dollar you spend at Kroger = 1 point.

STOP.  I know exactly what you’re thinking: “So, you’re saying I have to spend $1,000 on groceries in one month just to save $35 in gas???   That’s not really saving me anything and I think you’re dumb.”

Dear readers,

First, calling me dumb is not nice.  Second, groceries are just one of many ways to earn fuel points.  You know what our family of four spends on groceries each month?  $300. However, according to the USDA the average low-cost meal plan for a family of four in March of 2015 was approximately $719.30 and a liberal plan went all the way up to $1,287.80!

That’s ONE MONTH of food. 

If this is your budget for groceries, you may not need to continue reading.  You could earn your $1.00 off/gallon with groceries alone.

Look for specials like these to get extra points

Look for specials like these to get extra points


This is quite possibly the most lucrative way to rack up your fuel points.  Kroger has partnered with dozens of chains so you can buy gift cards to just about anywhere during your grocery run. Buying a gift card at Kroger = 2X fuel points. Buy a $25 gift card and you now have 50 fuel points.

About four times a year Kroger will offer 4X fuel points on their gift cards.  This is the perfect time to stock up.   It is now required for you to digitally download this offer to your Plus Card, so make sure you’re getting email updates to stay informed and be proactive.

Don’t limit the gift cards just for gifts.  The key is buying them for yourself and then use like cash.  Here are some scenarios for using gift cards to your advantage:

  • You’re buying a $50 wedding gift for someone who registered at Target.  Run to Kroger first, buy yourself a $50 Target gift card to spend on the gift.  You just earned yourself 100 fuel points.
  • Do you have a large housing project coming up?  Buy yourself gift cards to Lowe’s or Home Depot and then use them at the store to pay.  A few years ago we replaced the carpet in our living room—a $1,200 expense.  We bought $1,200 in Lowe’s gift cards during a 4X fuel points promotion to use on the carpet.  That alone gave us 4,800 points (the equivalent to saving $168 in gas).
  • Dining out?  We try to eat at locally owned restaurants, but let’s face it.  Sometimes you just gotta have the salad and bread sticks from Olive Garden.  Run to Kroger first to buy a gift card to that restaurant before you go.

Warnings about the Gift Cards:

  • You do not get fuel points for purchasing Kroger gift cards.  Yeah . . . tried that one.
  • You CAN get fuel points for pre-priced MasterCard and Visa gift cards, but you’re hit with a $5.95 activation fee.  Unless you purchase this during a 4X fuel points promotion, it’s honestly not worth it.  Here’s why:  A $100 Visa gift card = 200 fuel points (or $0.20 off/gallon).  If you filled up 35 gallons, you would save $7.  With the $5.95 fee, you’re only truly saving $1.05.


Get double the fuel points during weekends this summer.

Get double the fuel points during weekends this summer.

Kroger offers double fuel points on weekends (Friday-Sunday) during the summer months (ends August 2nd).  To take advantage of this, you must digitally upload the offer to your Plus Card.  In the summer, we only grocery shop on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays to get twice the points.  I don’t care if the only thing we have left in the house are potatoes and a bottle of mustard come Thursday, dangit! (Guess what’s for dinner, kids!)  We’ll make do with what we have until the double fuel point days.

6221802534_602133976e_n#4 STARBUCKS

Just about every Kroger has a Starbucks now, and if you’re going to grab that latte in the morning, you better get it from your neighborhood Kroger.  Why?  Because Starbucks inside Kroger allows you to swipe that Plus Card for fuel points, my friends.  Want to work the system a bit?  Consider this scenario:

You and your sweetie each get a venti frappuccino and a croissant for breakfast.  Total cost is easily $15.  Before you make the purchase, buy yourself a $15 Starbucks gift card.  If you do this during a 4X promotion, you’ll get 60 fuel points.  As you pay for your $15 order, use the gift card you just bought and swipe your Plus Card.  You’ll get one point for every dollar you just spent.  That’s an additional 15 points.  Do all of this on a double-point weekend and you just earned an additional 15 points.  That’s 90 points altogether.

#5 PRESCRIPTIONS5825033712_22ac287bb5_n

For every prescription you fill at Kroger, you receive 50 fuel points (no matter the cost of the prescription).   My family has two prescriptions refilled monthly.  You better believe we always have these filled at Kroger because it earns us 100 fuel points each month.

Kroger also runs two promotions when you transfer your prescriptions.  One is a $25 credit to spend in the store (not for gas).  The other is 1,000 fuel points.  If you have 35 gallons to fill, that’s $35 saved.

Look for this on your receipt to take surveys.

Look for this on your receipt to take surveys.


This is my new favorite way to gain points because it’s FREE and only takes about five minutes to complete. Every once in a while your receipt will have a code for a survey to complete.  For every survey you fill out, you get 50 fuel points. You can only do one survey per week though.  I try to do my survey every Tuesday.  If there are five Tuesdays in a month, I can get 250 fuel points.  You can also enter a drawing to win $5,000 in groceries each time you do the survey.  A nice extra perk.  Go to to take the survey.


I personally do not use this one, but it’s worth throwing out there so you know all your options.  Kroger offers their own credit card called the 1-2-3 Rewards Visa card.  If you sign up and use this, you get an additional $0.25 off/gallon for every 100 points you earn.  WARNING!  This deal only lasts for the first three months after you activate your card.

Now, sweet reader, if you sign up for this credit card, please never carry a balance.  You don’t want to be paying a 22% interest rate on the hamburger meat you bought six months ago.  Not only is that silly, but you’re really not saving on fuel cost that way.


  • Your fuel points expire, so it’s use ‘em or lose ‘em.  You have until the end of the following month to use your points.  Let’s say I earned 1,000 points in June.  I will have until July 31st before they go away.
  • The maximum amount of points you can use for one fill up is 1,000.  If you have an awesome month where you rack up say, 3,000 points, you don’t get $3.00 off/gallon. You will have to fill up three separate times at $1.00 off/gallon each time.
  • Points do not roll over.  Let’s say you earned 999 points by July 31st; you will only get $0.90 off/gallon while the other 99 points are completely wasted.  If something like this happens, for gracious sake!, please go back inside and buy yourself a pack of gum.  I try to plan so that I am right at a round number or just a little over.  If you’re at 920 points, don’t go back in and drop another $80 just to earn an additional $0.10 off/gallon.  Be smart about the math.

Do you have any other tips about earning fuel points or questions about this post?  Leave them in the comments.  Also, we want to hear about your successes using these strategies.

Happy saving!!!


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Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe – The Why & How

270917_10151447685977424_1227744904_nI’m always looking for ways to save money, save my health, and save the environment. Making homemade laundry detergent helps me accomplish all three of those goals.  You read that correctly, friend.  Besides being expensive, most conventional laundry detergents contain toxic chemicals that seep into your precious skin via those “clean” clothes; it also horribly contaminates our water.  Once you start making your own laundry soap, I promise your wallet will be a little fatter and, let’s be honest, you’re simply going to feel like the planet’s superhero a better person.

Before I dish on the “HOW,” let me elaborate a little more on the “WHY.”


Not gonna lie.  The only reason I even began making my own laundry soap was because I crunched some numbers and realized there was potential to save a bunch-o-money. Here’s a little math breakdown for ya:

A 50 oz. bottle of Tide costs about $11.99.  You should be able to get 32 loads out of this, making it $0.37/load.  

Making your own detergent:

  • Borax = $5.39/box–used 1 cup = $0.54
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda – $3.99/box–used 1 cup = $0.58
  • Fels-Naptha Soap – $1.29/bar–used 1.5 bars = $1.93
  • Water = Basically FREE

That’s $11.31 to get started (with leftovers to use next time) and only $3.05 to make over three gallons of laundry detergent!  You’ll need 1/2 cup per load, which means you’ll get 96 loads out of one batch.  The grand total cost per load:



If your family does four loads of laundry a week, you’re looking at a difference of $76.96/year with a product like Tide vs. only $6.24/year making it yourself.  What could you do with an extra $70?  Besides saving on the cost of the detergent, think about the gas you’ll save with fewer trips to the supermarket.  Nice.


You’ve heard that looks can be deceiving.  Well, scents can be deceiving as well.  Turns out, most store-bought laundry detergents, while pleasant to the sense of smell, are extremely toxic.  Once you wear the clothes you washed, your skin absorbs those toxins–your lungs breathe them in too.  Side effects range from respiratory problems, hormone imbalance, infertility, and skin irritation.  Read more about the icky details here.


Making your own laundry detergent requires you to pour it into a container.  I opted to clean out our used plastic milk jugs.  This greatly reduces my carbon footprint by reusing plastic.  Let’s say my family averages four loads of laundry a week.  If I bought that Tide I mentioned earlier, I’d have to purchase nearly seven bottles a year.  That may not seem like much plastic, but multiply that with the other 123.2 million households in the U.S alone.  That = Yikes.

Also, as you’ll see in the recipe below, other than the bar soap, the ingredients are all natural.  If you want to go all out and have all natural bar soap as well, click here for a great recipe.   All natural products are, of course, better for the planet . . . and for you (refer back to reason #2).

Here is what’s most horrifying to me about many store-bought detergents.  As mentioned before, they contain a slew of toxic chemicals, one of which is dioxane.  Dioxane contaminates water and once it gets into there, not even water filtration systems can remove it. Did I mention it’s also not biodegradable?  Be sure to read this article and watch the 9-minute video at the bottom about how harmful these detergents are to you and the water system.  You’ll be shocked.  And disgusted.  And mad.  I don’t care how tired I get of making my own soap.  After reading this article, I vowed to never go back to conventional detergents ever again.


Once you’ve read the reasons “WHY” you should make homemade laundry detergent, now I’ll give you the HOW.  Here’s my favorite recipe for liquid soap:


  • 10 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups Fels-Naptha or Ivory soap (grated)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (NOT BAKING SODA)
  • 2 gallons of cool water
  • 7 drops of essential oil for fragrance (optional-without this it leaves no scent on your clothes)

STEPS (takes only about 30 minutes)

  1. In a large pot bring 10 cups of water to a boil
  2. As you wait for water to boil, grate bar soap (I use a cheese grater over a plate)
  3. Add grated soap to boiling water until soap is melted
  4. Pour the soapy water into a large clean pail. Add the Borax and washing soda. Stir well until dissolved.
  5. Add 2 gallons of cold water.  Stir until mixed well.  If adding essential oils, do so during this step.
  6. Before it thickens, use a funnel to pour into clean milk jugs (I suggest two people for this job).  Should fill at least 3 gallons.

Add 1/2 cup to each load.  This will gel, so make sure to shake the bottle well before pouring.

There you go, guys.  My family has been using this recipe for years and have been extremely pleased.  I hope you enjoy saving money, your health, and the planet by making some of your own.  Have questions or comments?  Leave them below.

Check out for other great DYI ideas.


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