2019 is coming.
In fact, we have ONE WEEK left of this year.
The day after Christmas is always when I really start planning and thinking specifically about the year to come.
We take down our Christmas decorations and get the house "back to normal".
I go through my calendar for the entire next year and fill in various events, reminders, and appointments.
I sit down with a piece of paper and I start to dream about what's to come in the new year...things I want to accomplish, dreams I have, and specific goals.
This week, I thought I would go through each piece of my planning process for anyone that wants to follow along.
Some of the things I'll cover are:
One of my big goals for 2019 is to stay in touch with my readers more!
So with that in mind, I've started working on an email list!
I'm currently in the middle of a chat conversation with my email provider to figure out how to turn off my subscription form for those of you who have already subscribed...for now, just click the "X" when it pops up, if you're already a subscriber!
Thanks in advance for subscribing and following along with us during the new year!
Prepping for 2019 at the farmhouse,
A little over a year ago, we decided to take the plunge and buy an older car and sell our loaded Yukon to get out of debt faster.
We found a 2004 Bonneville at our local car lot and named him “Dave”.
Dave was great.
He was a one-owner vehicle that had mainly been driven on the highway back and forth to the city each day.
He had leather seats and enough room in the backseat that the girls wouldn’t be completely squished when we drove anywhere.
We were giving up heated seats that worked, a DVD player, and lots more room in the name of better gas mileage and debt-reduction.
The Yukon didn’t sell right away, so it sat in our driveway for a few weeks.
This was just enough time for us to realize that Dave had some problems.
When I was driving to work, about the time I hit 60 mph, Dave would start shaking uncontrollably. To fix this problem, I drove 59 for a few weeks. By that time, we were able to afford a few new tires and that seemed to help.
A week or two after that, Dave started having some transmission issues. So we took him to the mechanic’s shop.
Thank goodness we still had the Yukon.
By this time, it was almost comical that we had two vehicles to care for and no less debt than we started with. So as sort of a joke, I named the Yukon “Ramsey”.
We got Dave up and running again, $421 later.
So I listed Ramsey for sale again on Facebook.
I didn’t drive Ramsey for a few weeks, until I needed it to haul a piece of furniture out to the new house.
I started Ramsey’s engine in late June, and realized that something was wrong with his air-conditioning.
So I took down the “for sale” listing and we made an appointment to have the air conditioning fixed.
The AC just needed a charge. Only $125.
After getting that taken care of and using Ramsey to haul things out to the farmhouse when we moved, Mr. Farmhouse and I decided it was time to tell Ramsey goodbye forever and start driving Dave full time.
By the time school started, I had been driving Dave again for a few weeks.
We were going to take Ramsey to CarMax and get rid of him once and for all over one weekend in late-August.
That Friday, Dave started making a funny noise on the way to school. The RPMs would fly up and I started to feel a catch when I tried to accelerated.
It got worse and worse.
So back to the shop with Dave.
We put the sale of Ramsey on hold...again.
I got used to driving Ramsey again. The girls got used to having the DVD player again. I got used to the heated seats when my lower back was bothering me at the beginning of the school year.
And then one morning, I pushed the button to open the back hatch and it didn't work.
Come on, Ramsey!
Sure enough, something was wrong in the power lift gate and we needed to take it in to the shop to get it fixed.
But Dave was in the shop.
So we would just live with it.
At this point, we have figured out that Dave is probably not worth the money we paid for him and the Ramsey is probably not going to get sold either.
We'll just cut our losses, use the debt snowball to pay Ramsey off soon, and drive them both until they physically die.
Last weekend, the girls had a few friends in Ramsey with us as we drove to a volleyball tournament.
Now that we live on gravel, neither vehicle is ever clean.
I pushed the button to spray windshield washer fluid on the back glass and the two girls in the third row seat started saying, "What is that? Something is dripping! I'm getting wet!"
Sure enough...somehow the windshield wiper fluid was spraying into the backseat.
I made a mental note to have Mr. Farmhouse check that little situation out after church the next day.
Several minutes later, I accidentally hit that button again as we were driving down the road.
But no water this time.
Instead, I heard the familiar click and warning sound that the back hatch was opening.
The windshield wiper fluid button had made the power lift gate unlatch.
I admit, I laughed.
What else do you do?
So it seems Dave and Ramsey will both be in the Newkirk family 'til death do us part.
Well, it's almost July.
Just crazy, in my opinion. The way that time flies when you grow up. Must be all that "adulting".
ANYway, I thought this morning I might share a bit of our financial journey and how some of it has changed through the house-selling and house-purchasing process.
We started practicing Dave Ramsey's financial principles about five years ago pretty heavily. We read the book "The Total Money Makeover" and it really inspired us to make better financial decisions.
At that time, we had no credit card debt, but we did have a mortgage, two car payments, tons of medical bills, and the dreaded student loans.
We started to pay things off with a vengeance, using Dave's debt snowball method. This is where you line all of your debts up, smallest to largest balance, and start attacking the smallest debt with any extra cash that comes in.
We made good progress, until baby #3 was born. Miss Mattie's birth brought more medical bills and since I was unable to schedule photography sessions for that first six weeks, we really struggled.
Soooooo...we have been climbing back out of debt over the last few years.
Last year, we made the decision to sell our loaded Yukon and buy an '04 Bonneville.
The girls and I named the car "Dave" as a reminder that every time we are crunched into this car, we are sacrificing by not having that huge payment and putting that money on debt instead.
And then...the Yukon didn't sell. And then...it needed tires. And a tune-up. So we did those things.
And it's still sitting in my driveway.
A few days ago, Dave started making a funny noise.
And the transmission started slipping.
And I couldn't even get up to 50 mph on the highway.
So Dave is in the driveway now and we are driving the Yukon...who I've kindly named "Ramsey". When I fired it up yesterday to run the girls to town, we realized that the air conditioning isn't working in Ramsey. Naturally.
We have been paying on our house for almost eleven years now. We have paid the mortgage down quite a bit.
When we sell, we hope we will be able to pay off Ramsey, pay off that measley credit card, and put the down payment on the new house.
And then, we are back to gazelle intensity.
Our goal is to have everything, including the farmhouse and student loans, paid off in ten years or less.
As Dave says, we are "sick and tired of being sick and tired."
I can't wait to share our financial freedom story with you as it unfolds! It's coming!
Several years ago, I embarked on a new adventure.
I opened my own photography business.
Our daughter was just turning a year old and I was sharing some photos I had taken of her with some friends. A few of them asked me to take some pictures of their children and told me that I had an eye for photography. They suggested that I could make a little extra income in this way.
I truly never thought it would turn into a full-fledged job, but lo' and behold...here we are.
This year, Newkirk Photography is turning ten.
My mission for Newkirk Photography is really two-fold:
Through the years, I've had many opportunities to capture important moments in life for friends and family members and eventually for people I had never met before.
A few teachers in my hometown asked me to do some senior photos for a senior girl who would never have the opportunity to have them done otherwise. It was the end of April before her graduation in mid-May.
A few sessions have been with families who had a family member on the brink of losing his or her battle with some sort of chronic illness. We captured memories that they can now relive over and over.
I've photographed families with foster-babies, adopted kiddos, five generations, and deployed family members.
My business has changed over the last ten years.
I started shooting in our spare bedroom before Baby #2 came along.
Then we built a wall in our detached garage and called one side of it a studio.
I eventually moved into a studio space in town and then another space and finally a third.
Last week, I moved out of the third studio space because in the farmhouse, I'll be able to shoot right in the living room, until we are able to pay off the rest of our small debt.
And then, if all goes as planned, I'll spend my time making memories and capturing my family's journey, with no need for a small business to make ends meet.
The studio started in our home and things have come full-circle as I downsize and move it back home.
P.S. I love how you can also see the transformation of my logo through the years.
At first, I didn't even have a logo, as I thought I would just be photographing for a few friends and family members. When I realized this venture would become a business and I got my first studio, I would just throw some text over the image to post them on Facebook, with no rhyme or reason.
I finally started using a cute little watermark with that pink scrolly design behind it, but eventually I realized that I wanted my logo to have more meaning. You can read more about that here.
When I created my own logo and included the two hearts to represent our two daughters, I knew that it would stick. In 2014, when we had Mattie, I added the third heart to my logo and that's how it is today.