Hi Friends! Iā€™m Natalie Mason. I live in Charleston, SC and I am mom to Sterling 12 , Frances Moon 8 and our mini golden doodle Dolly.



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Total Money Makeover- Part One and Cinco de Mayo

May 3, 2013

I still can’t get over the response from my debt post last week and the comments are still rolling in.  Most of you said you would be interested in me sharing what I am doing and what works.  Obviously I don’t know what works yet because I am just getting started but as promised per May 1,  I am buckling down and getting real.  Here are my first plans of action:



Confession, I never balance our checkbook or keep up with receipts.  I occasionally check our bank account once a week to view the balance.  Totally irresponsible.  Another confession, I am not sure how much debt we have exactly.  I have a ballpark idea but I avoid looking at the credit card balances- out of sight out of mind used to be my mentally.  So for this first month I am going to write down all our household expenses and all our credit card debt to see what we are spending a month.  I am also going to write down every single purchase I make to see where the money goes.  

I bought this 3 ring binder at Target to help me get organized and keep track of this stuff- because doesn’t cute stuff help you stay organized too:)  The little dots make me happy everytime I look at them.


We are actually one month down on this part we used no credit cards last month and hope we can continue this so we can pay them down.


Meg who works with Dave Ramsey was sweet enough to mail me the Total Money Makeover this week.  I started reading it last night and it is pretty eye opening.   It is filled with so many personal experiences from other families that are so inspiring.  There are so many people way worse off than us that accomplished his plan and are now debt free.  I want to finish reading it and try to follow his rules.

 They were also kind enough to send Sterling three piggy banks- one for saving, one for spending, and one for giving so he can learn early.  Such a great idea.  He absolutely loved them and spent alot of time yesterday filling them up.  His favorite one was the “Save” one, so not like his Mama:)

Nothing too crazy for my first month, I think all of this is pretty doable.  I will report back next month.  I am thinking maybe once a month I will share what is working unless ya’ll get bored with it.


Cinco de Mayo is this weekend and it is one of my favorite Holidays because duh, I love Mexican Food and tequila.  These two recipes I saw floating on Pinterest need to happen.  Of course they both need to be served with a side of straight tequila.  Who needs margaritas I just want the tequila!

{Roasted Veggie TacosSpicy Queso Fresco Guacamole}

We have such a fun weekend ahead.  My sister and her husband are in town with my nephew- its his first trip to Charleston at one month old!  Can’t wait to snuggle with him all weekend.

and Happy almost Birthday to this beautiful baby, Taylor.  I feel like it was just yesterday Caycee had her.  We will be celebrating that sweet face at a party tomorrow that I know will be over the top fabulous because Caycee has been planning it for months now!  Girl loves to throw a party.

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  1. GOOD FOR YOU NATALIE!!! Don't discount this first month as small steps because that pretty little binder is going to change your focus. It's disgusting to see where your money goes sometimes. We spend ridiculous amounts of money at Target and take-out and have to check ourselves every few months.

  2. Nickie says:

    What a great way to teach little kids about money!! Three piggy banks!!! I have never thought of this and I think it is a great idea. I have been struggling with trying to teach my little girl. Thanks for sharing and good luck. I am trying to get out of debt too. I know it is doable but it is not easy….especially with my love of clothes!!! :}

  3. Man I need to follow your lead! I've been threatening to do a once a week grocery shopping trip with meal planning so I don't go to the store and blow $100 every other day….

  4. Nat says:

    Good luck girl! The first month might be hard or shocking but you can get through and being debt free is so much better! That spicy queso fresco guac sounds amazing!

  5. So proud of you! Let me know how everything goes!

  6. Jill says:

    When we were over our head in debt I did exactly what you are doing, I wrote down what our monthly expenses were and then I wrote down every single penny I spent so I could see where it was going. The big thing for me was I stopped using credit cards. You are off to a great start!!

  7. My hubs and I did the TMM when we first got married. It really does work! Start snowballing that debt! It's a good feeling. It also helps using cash for everything because you actually see how much goes out your wallet each month šŸ™‚

  8. I use mint.com its a really easy way to keep track and budget. It is free and pretty simple to use. Good luck!

  9. Way to go, Nat! And check out a Household Budget notebook available at Staples. Just be sure to break down your cc expenses and not count them twice…but it really helps in seeing where everything is going in a super organized manner. OR you can get super 2013 and open a QuickBooks acct. for the home. šŸ™‚

  10. I love that you drink straight tequila. šŸ™‚ I love it too.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  11. I need to start tracking my purchases and receipts. I think it's a great idea to start a piggy bank with Sterling, my mom made us when growing up and it was great!

  12. Meredith says:

    Sounds like you're on the right track!!! Good luck and keep us posted šŸ™‚
    Have a great weekend! This one is always a favorite-Derby & Cinco de Mayo!

  13. Morgan S. says:

    Good for you! I really used to avoid looking at actual amounts too, but I felt a heck of a lot better when I owned up to it, knew what I owed and was then able to make a plan. Don't get me wrong, we still use credit from time to time and do still have balances, but for the most part, we are way better off than just a couple of years ago. It definitely lifts a weight off. I also recommend Dave Ramsay's "Smart Women Finish Rich" – my mom got that for me in college and it was a great resource for debt tips. He's a genius, really. Wish I had started using the tips back in college though! LOL http://www.styleoyster.blogspot.com

  14. Ashley says:

    We use expense tracker app on our phones! Its super easy to use and you can even take pictures of your receipts.

  15. Unknown says:

    I went through the same thing. When it's over, its such a freeing feeling to be spending cash and not credit. What really helped me was learnvest.com. They have a free service and paid service with financial advise. I love how it pulls all your accounts together and lets you set up budget folders to easily track your spending. And the bootcamps are great!
    Every journey starts with a single step. Figuring out how much you are spending and where is no small thing. Feel proud of yourself!

  16. Taylor says:

    so excited for cinco de mayo šŸ™‚ great job for the first month – I really want to get that book it sounds amazing.


  17. Good for you!!! It is eye-opening to see where a month's worth of money goes. And if you want to keep the info on your computer I would recommend Pear Budget. I think it is a great program.

  18. Val says:

    You are awesome and always inspire me books, food, great drinks, clothes and this. Thank you.

  19. The wife says:

    We declared February the month of "Fiscal Fasting". On our refrigerator I put an envelope and on the outside I divided it up in 4 columns (for each week of the month). At the top of each column there was $30 written–that is all I allowed us to use for food and entertainment each week (and we're a family of 5). If we went over 1 week, we borrowed from the next week. If we had money left over, we added to the following week. As we spent money we made sure to make our deductions and write the place down that the money was spent. It was very eye opening for not only us, but our children to see where our money went and how quickly it goes. It was a challenge, but at the end of the month we had so much money left over that I'm looking to do it again soon! Good luck!!

  20. The wife says:

    When I put food, I mean going out to eat, not our grocery store bill—that's another bag of chips!

  21. I've made those tacos, they're awesome. Congrats on the progress šŸ™‚

  22. Emily Amy says:

    Good for you! Please keep us posted on what works and what doesn't. I completely agree with you; I like reading blogs and getting home/style ideas but after awhile you feel like there's always more and more you want. Just a suggestion, there are numerous apps out there that will also keep track of what you spend. I found that was easier than writing it down in paper.

  23. Sounds like a great plan!

    I spent nothing on my credit card the month leading up to my spring break and it was so incredible getting the bill for $0.00!

    You can do it!

  24. Betty says:

    I just read your story and found it to be very inspiring. Using advice that I read in Usiere Uko's book on financial freedom titled, "Practical Steps to Financial Freedom and Independence: Your Road Map to Exiting the Rat Race and Living Your Dreams-" I found the book to be inspiring and practical. Moving forward on ding it now. Thanks for sharing your story. I can't wait to hear how your money make-over is going this month.