Penny Pinching

The Curse of Debt

I think we all know why debt is not a good thing. It keeps us broke, is a burden, and keep us slave to the lender.

 

The curse of debt actually goes much deeper than that. What about in the area of giving to others? When we owe money on things we haven’t earned yet that keeps us from giving to others the way God gives so freely to us. We are unable to care for others, rather that be the new momma down the street who could use a meal or the missions team going to China. This has to be why God included the area of finance in His word. He knew it would keep people from their true potential of living for Him and being His hands and feet.

 

Can we still give while in debt? Yes, of course. But how much more could we have done when we weren’t out getting things we couldn’t afford in order to accumulate more stuff that is all going to get left behind anyways.

 

Our decisions to accumulate stuff affects much more than just our own wallets and families. It affects everyone in the world.

 

As we are busy trying to stay afloat and pay our bills we are focused inward on making ends meet or how we can get more money to get this or that. However, without debt we can look beyond ourselves and see a world truly in need of the time, money, and resources God has given us.

 

It is time we all start thinking differently about money. It belongs to God and He simply gives it to us to manage. How are we doing with that? If we are smart with His blessings and use them wisely to bring Him glory, then how much more will He pour on us to reach others for Him? This has been pretty heavy on my heart lately.

 

Let us all buckle down to kick out this debt. It is nothing but holding us back in our relationships and our joy.

16 Ways To Stay Broke

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Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ Freedigitalphotos

 

1) Watch your friends and try to buy everything they do, but better.

2) Only purchase vehicles with fewer than 50,000 miles and less than 1-year-old.

3) Only purchase a house with at least two more bedrooms than you need with every family member having at least 500 sq. ft. to themselves.

4) Only buy name brands.

5) Remind yourself daily how hard you work and how much you deserve what you want.

6) Don’t think about the future, live for the here and now.

7) Don’t delay your gratification.

8) Tell yourself the good old saying “You can’t take it with you.” This way you won’t feel bad having nothing to pass down to your children.

9) You must go on vacation…out of town…at least a couple of nights.

10) It’s only one coffee drink a day, that’s nothing.

11) Sales Shmales! Ain’t nobody got time to wait for that!

12) Seed, straw, irrigation. People are counting on your yard.

13)  Forgot Christmas came in December?  No problem just charge it.

14) If your coffee table isn’t high enough to hold up your feet, no worries just buy another.

15) Hire someone to do everything you don’t feel like doing or don’t want to learn how to do.

16) Go ahead and add to those student loans.  I am sure it will come in handy one of these days.

 

If you want to stay burdened by your finances, keep spinning your wheels, dig the hole deeper, and stuck forever, then just keep following the plan above.

 

If you want freedom, a reason to work hard, stability, appreciation, to get traction, and get out of the hole, then do the exact opposite of the list above and watch what God can do.

 

Sharing this with: The Prairie Homestead A Mama’s story, Raising Arrows, The Modest Mom, What Joy is Mine, Growing Home, Time Warp Wife, Thankful Homemaker, Mamal Diane, Teaching What is Good,  Mom’s the word, conerstone cofessions, A proverbs 31 wife, Some of the best things in life are mistakes, Let this mind be in you, A Wise Woman Builds her home, Deep Roots at Home, Graced Simplicity, Raising Homemakers, Women Living Well, Hope in Every Season, Jill’s Home remedies, Little Natural Cottage, Our simple country Life, Raising Mighty Arrows, The Purposeful Mom, Happy and Blessed Home, Homemaker by Choice, Your Thriving Family, My Joy Filled Life. New Life Steward, Hometead simple, Let this Mind Be in You,

 

Against The Grain (Debt)

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Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles/ Free Digital Photos

 

This post is intended to be an encouragement for people to get out of debt along with our story that has led us to seek this lifestyle so passionately. None of this is to brag, but is to show how with God’s help you too can go against the grain and be weird…be debt free.

 

When we were first married neither of us had any debt to our name. We were only 18, neither of us owned anything. Before we said, “I do,” the only things we paid for was our gas, food that we ate out, and other things we wanted (Not needed). When my husband was 16 his dad purchased him an old car and my parents did the same. When we got married we added on a rent payment of 600 a month for our one bedroom apartment plus all of our food, groceries, and utilities. I was just starting nursing school and working part-time while my husband was working for the city utilities department at the time. Our total income was around 18,000 a year! We have never been the kind of people who just blow money for fear we would end up like a lot of people around us. I can remember sitting at our little kitchen table debating on if we should use our coupon that night to go out to dinner or wait for a special occasion. It was a big jump for two eighteen year olds who had  only lived with their parents, but we were determined to make it work.

 

Fast Forward 3 years later…

We bought our first home about an hour away from family since it was cheaper for 85,000. Our payments increased to 660 a month. Not too much of a jump from our rental, plus we had our privacy. It was the cutest little house on an acre you would ever see. My husband now works at the fire department with a slight increase in pay and I finally graduated nursing school. We paid my way through school using grants and by using money we saved up while we were in high school. The  month I graduated was the month we literally had zero in our savings account. It was the perfect amount to get me through my education. Praise God!

 

Once I graduated our money coming in doubled. Like most people who have a big jump in their money we yelled, “We are rich, we are rich!”  We went and bought a bunch of stuff we had felt deprived of and added to our monthly payments. Then, like most people, we started saying, “Crap, we are broke!” Ironic how easily that happens! We went and bought me a (new to us, but used) car racking up 15,000 in debt. We bought my husband a truck racking up another 10,000 in debt. We then took out a loan for some family members for a total of another 9,000 in debt. This simple life we used to have with half the money was gone. We now had accumulated over 30,000 in debt within the course of 6 months in the blink of an eye.

 

The crazy thing is that was all normal! It’s what you do. There were people congratulating us and giving us pats on the back. You upgrade, you buy cars, nicer dinners, nicer houses, better everything because we feel some type of entitlement or that we have earned it somehow. We end up only hurting ourselves and adding to stress in our lives. You can’t tell me satan isn’t behind all of this, and loves to sit back and watch it happen.

 

Thankfully, God showed up and gave us a wake up call.

We haven’t always done perfectly and we have many regrets on things we wish we had done differently, but we have made progress and now have a God-given vision that can’t be shaken.

 

I was about 6 months pregnant with our first child when my husband started talking to this guy at his fire station about money. The guy taught a financial peace course by Dave Ramsey. Neither one of us had ever heard of the guy so Tim began to ask question. It was all so simple and eye-opening at the same time. Knowledge that was all common sense that gets lost in our world of materialism. Every day he would tell me more about what he had learned. The man let us borrow his book that laid out the ground work for this simple yet effective plan to get out of debt and stay that way. We read everything we could, listened to his CD’s, and began to practice everything Dave Ramsey preached.

 

First step was to get 1,000 in our emergency fund. You would think that would have been simple, but with all of our bills we created it wasn’t easy. We were motivated beyond belief, we talked and breathed it, we discovered something new!! Dave Ramsey’s philosophy behind this is to have it there for  just in case stuff happens. It’s a given that things will break so just go ahead and be ready. Second step was to knock out our debts smallest to largest. Don’t worry about interest rates. His idea behind this is to get your momentum going. You want to start sledging a way at your debt iceberg as quickly and efficiently as possible. For us, this was the 9,000 we lent to some family. Wasn’t looking like we were going to get it back, so away we went. Instead of paying the minimum we took every single extra penny we could out of our budget and put it toward that debt. Before our baby girl was born we had it paid off. What a feeling!! Needless to say we were addicted:) We then took what we were paying on the family debt and put that on top of our minimum payments for the 10,000 truck. Our momentum was in full swing. Once that was paid off we worked on my car using the family debt payment, plus the old truck payment, and the minimum on my car all down every month. We flew through that debt quickly! The freedom that came the day we sent our last payment in was indescribable. We wanted to share our news with everyone and show them that they could do this too.

 

Not too long after…

baby number two was on the way. We decided we needed to move to be closer to family for our children. We then began to think like the rest of America again. We assumed I would always be working and that we would stay in our next house forever. We began to think a little to highly of ourselves and think we deserved bigger and better. Unfortunately, we took the world’s advice and went from our 85,000 dollar house to one for 185,000. Oh just typing that out makes me sick! We made some money off of our house and we were able to put down a decent down payment. We got a 15 year loan at an awesome interest rate and went from paying 660 to 1300! Our budget did allow for this, but remember I am still working a lot, and we went into another 100,0000 in debt by moving into this house. Don’t get me wrong, I love this house but little did we know all the ways God was going to speak to us. We didn’t know he was going to give us two more children with hopefully more. We didn’t know that He was going to want me to stay home and lose over half of my income. We must be ready for the opportunities God wants us to jump on.

 

Here we are today…

We have been able to remain debt free except the house, we put extra money in retirement, and have a little bit going into an account for the children, then whatever money is left we have been throwing at our mortgage. I have cut back on work significantly as my husband tries to pick up extra work any where he can to make the difference. We sacrifice a lot for the wants we have, but God has ALWAYS taken care of our needs.

 

I put all of this out there to say that I am fully aware that there are many people who have it a lot worse off than u,s and some who are better off than us. Whatever situation you find yourself in it’s never too late to go against the grain and get yourself out of debt. It’s not the way we were intended to live PERIOD.We all make financial mistakes, but when we commit our plan to God to live the way He wants possibilities will open to get out from under the debt slave feeling. It may not be easy and may not happen overnight but the point is to start. God will bless your efforts.

 

What’s your story? Tired of going with the norm and ready to break free and go against the grain with me? Subscribe and share!

 

Here are my other Going Against The Grain Series:

Going Against The Grain (Birth Control)

Going Against The Grain (Industrialized Food)

 

Sharing this with: The Prairie Homestead A Mama’s story, Raising Arrows, The Modest Mom, What Joy is Mine, Growing Home, Time Warp Wife, Thankful Homemaker, Mamal Diane, Teaching What is Good,  Mom’s the word, A proverbs 31 wife, Some of the best things in life are mistakes, Let this mind be in you, A Wise Woman Builds her home, Deep Roots at Home, Graced Simplicity, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every Season, Jill’s Home remedies,  Our simple country Life, Raising Mighty Arrows, The Purposeful Mom, Happy and Blessed Home,  My Joy Filled Life. New Life Steward, Hometead simple, 

 

 

No Debt Equals Opportunity

It is a well-known fact that debt can cripple us. Every one knows it, it’s not a secret. Why do we continue to get into it? It seems in the moment it is the easy way out, in fact it is the exact opposite. We never know what financial hurdles we will face in the future. The new shiny stuff is nothing compared to a piece of mind. Right now the 20,000$ car is easy to finance but what about the next month when you furnace goes out, or there are unexpected doctor bills? That’s when people find themselves in a real pickle and start asking others for money. They think there is no way out when in fact they could just sell the stuff they couldn’t afford in the first place. They would then have confidence to jump the hurdle, peace, and a strong will to push through and earn more money if needed.

 

Honestly, its super easy to type all this out. It’s quite another to live it out. We have been debt free except our house for maybe 5 years now. Although we have a great peace and we know this is right, we are still tempted. Admittedly we have thought, “Oh just forget it, let’s get a credit card and get this house project done!” We have even wondered how it’s so easy for others to borrow money and wished sometimes our conscience would let us. We have such a strong conviction to stay out of debt that we would drive ourselves crazy. We tell ourselves, “Let’s face it we just aren’t like most people.”

 

When the spirit of “want” tempts to creep into our lives I try to remember that no debt equals opportunity. When you owe to no one you are able to look at the world in a completely different way. When God sits situations and opportunities in front of you , you can take them and be excited without wondering where the money will come from. It’s sitting in your bank account instead of going to numerous lenders. This is how wealthy people stay wealthy. They owe money to no one and are able to seize opportunities and take advantage of them thanking God the entire way. They aren’t just, “lucky.” They have worked hard and delayed their gratification, vacations, new cars, and mansions to build their wealth.

 

This is where I want to focus my energy. I want to change my family tree. I want my children to know how to work hard, save, delay their gratification, and help others. I want them to teach this to their children and keep passing this lost art along. We may never be rich, but we will be comfortable taking God’s opportunities as they come and blessing others with it.

 

If this sounds like a dream to you it’s not. We got started with the Dave Ramsey plan and haven’t looked back ever since. Live the way God intended. Free from the curse of debt. We aren’t quite there yet, but so far it feels amazing.

Live Like No One Else…

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Photo by Free Digital photos/ Simon Howden

Live like no one else…

  • Drive the beater car
  • Put your plan on paper.
  • Delay your gratification.
  • Buy used.
  • Eat your fill of rice and beans.
  • Get cozy in your tiny home.
  • Work your tail off.
  • Save your pennies.
  • Cut the cable.
  • Have goals.

So later you can live like no one else…

  • Make your dreams come true.
  • Actually own your things.
  • Start businesses.
  • Give, give, give.
  • A head start for your children.
  • Change your family tree.
  • No second job after retirement.
  • Peace of mind.

This is what we plan to accomplish. We aren’t chasing the get rich quick scheme or trying to keep up with everyone else. Our goal is peace, security, and living in God’s will the way He intended it. To have opportunity to help, give, and change lives.

 

Sometimes it’s less about the money and more about the mission. -Pamela M Kramer

How To Make it on One Income (Part 1)

First of all, let me tell ya I think it’s extremely important for a momma to stay home with her babies if at all possible, in fact, it’s Biblical. With that being said, there are a gazillion circumstances that can interfere with that dream. Seasons come and seasons go, but I strongly believe that with a commitment to God and a plan (the plan may contain many steps) this can be a reality.

 

For some, it’s as simple as looking at your money, maybe selling a few things, then bam… momma is home. For others, myself included, this is not the case. We have been on a five-year plan so far to get me permanently home. We have taken baby steps, yet we have made tremendous progress.  Some may ask why we don’t put our faith in God and I just quit, and come home believing He will provide. I am certain we would be provided for if we took this step, but I also feel as though we made the mistake of counting on my income long ago before children came along and got ourselves into debt. It is now our responsibility to rely on God, work our tails off, and slowly dig ourselves out of the mess we have gotten ourselves into.

 

When I was pregnant with our  first baby I worked three 12 hour night shifts a week at the hospital as a nurse. Once she was born up until this past January I have worked every Friday and Saturday night 12 hour shifts. Since January, when my third baby turned 7 months, I cut back to one 12 hour shift a week. We have now been working on me cutting one of those shifts out when baby number 4 arrives at the end of March.

 

It has not been easy, but it has been so worth it! If I could go back in time I wish we would have understood the importance of the mother being home and had already prepared mentally and financially. I hope to teach my daughters the importance of their role in mother hood and to teach my son the importance of providing well for his wife and children. The more I am home I can see the full circle of how I feel that God designed the family to function, and it is evident in the stress level and happiness in our home.

 

I feel that it has been satan’s agenda to keep families in debt feeling as though there is no way out. This causes the mom and dad to go to work, leaving their children to be raised by others, all while trying to make ends meet. This is not the way God intended. Debt is wrong on so many levels. You are essentially a slave. We currently only own on our mortgage and are working with every penny to pay it off as quickly as possible. Trusting God that through hard work and determination we can bring our family to the way its meant to be. No debt, with money and time to bring up the next generation, and help a dying world.

 

With me cutting back I have seen over and over how God has honored our decision. No, we haven’t had any surprise checks in our mailbox, but He has provided peace, security, and happiness that speaks volumes. I have become very passionate about this subject just because I have seen what it has done for my family and I want to share it with everyone, yet not wanting to make others feel bad for tough circumstances they are in. My prayer is to encourage that it IS possible. I will be sharing many more tips in the future!

 

Linked to Raising Arrows

DIY Laundry Detergent

I have been making our own laundry detergent for over two years now. It started out as just plain curiosity when I randomly found a recipe online. I knew I absolutely hated spending money on cleaning supplies so I thought I’d give it a try. I haven’t gone back since! This recipe is a dry detergent, but you could certainly try a liquid one if you would rather. The only draw back to the liquid is that you usually have to let it sit overnight. If your anything like me…when you run out of your detergent, you usually have a couple of loads waiting on ya.

 

Homemade laundry detergent
1 bar soap, grated -I use whatever is on sale in bulk at Costco. Right now I’m using Lever 2000. I’ve been told Ivory is a great brand as well.
1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
There ya have it! I use my cheese grater for the soap. Then just stir them all up. Use 1 TBS per load. 2-3 TBS for very large or heavily soiled loads.

 

Cost breakdown:
1 55 ounce box of super washing soda 3.99
1 76 ounce box of Borax 4.99
1 10 pack bar of soap. Sorry y’all have no idea how much I paid for this.
My washing soda and borax last me many batches. Each batch makes about 32 ounces. With that amount you get between 32 and 64 loads of laundry.
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Fighting Debt

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Stuart Miles/photo credit

I wish someone would have taught us from the beginning of our marriage the importance of never collecting debt. Everyone explains the importance of communication, keeping regular date nights, and not going to bed angry. People often fail to mention the importance of simply living below your means.

 

Frugality has become a lost art in our society. We live in a world today where many luxuries are at our fingertips. You no longer have to save before you buy. You simply hand over your shiny piece of plastic or put your signature to another loan and boom…it’s, “yours.”

 

There is something so sweet and simple to the, “plan, save, then buy,” plan. Imagine if you will, newlyweds making a list of their priorities together. They list out the items they want to purchase for their new life together. They have conversations, they dream, they plan, and work together to save up that money. Once they have saved enough money they do their research and get the best bang for their buck. They bring home their new purchase proud of what they have accomplished together as a team. The object now symbolizes their hard work and commitment. It’s not just a status symbol to them.

 

Our instant gratification mentality is ruining America’s work ethic. This is true of not only of material things to work for, but also working to put effort into our marriages, or the work of raising our children. To be able to delay gratification is a sign of maturity. The actual definition of delayed gratification is: To resist a smaller but more immediate reward in order to receive a larger more enduring reward later. Isn’t this concept worth passing down?

 

Practicality goes along way in the fight against debt. Advice to not accrue debt is simple, practical, and saves so much time and many arguments in the future. We can’t let the money talk scare us away from giving others the head start and knowledge we wish we had. Because of smart decisions you make today, you can rest more confident in your future.

5 Simple ways to save at the grocery store (without coupons)

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Photo courtesy of Ambro / Freedigitalphotos.net

The battle of the grocery store is one I have been fighting ever since I became a wife and mother. No mater how hard I tried or how many coupons I clipped I was always over budget. Every week I would leave feeling defeated and aggravated. In a silly way I felt tricked by their advertisements.

 

I no longer search for coupons since my family and I have significantly cut back on our processed foods. Besides, I usually bought more when I cut coupons anyway. With couponing aside, I knew I had to get control of our grocery budget and start telling my money where to go instead of leaving it to chance every week. I’ve got better stuff to spend my money on:)

 

First and foremost I never go without a list. I do my very best to stick to it. I’ve also found it helpful to shop at the same place. When I go to new stores I am usually  intrigued and end up spending more. This is especially true when your kids are with you. I usually end up grabbing something I didn’t intend on getting. With my list I’m ready to conquer this monster.

 

Tip #1 Rice and beans or beans and rice

I am a huge fan of these kitchen staples. Not only are they slammed with health benefits but they are dirt cheap and easily bought in bulk. They fill hungry bellies very well and go a long way. There are a gazillion awesome recipes on the internet. One of our favorite simple meals is pinto beans slow cooked all day with homemade slaw and my whole wheat cornbread. On the next night I take the leftover pintos and stir them in with rice and spices to make a stir fry or filler for burritos. Another favorite at our house is a big roast with vegetables and potatoes. The next night I mix the leftover roast with rice for a stew. It’s all about getting creative and seeing how far you can stretch any meal. It’s quite fun when you start to get into it.

 

Tip #2 No  Juice

I finally bit the bullet and quit buying juice for the kids. One jug of apple juice ran me about 5$. I had to buy two a week. Not only do I have a money savings of 40$ a month but a slew of health benefits as well. First and foremost they aren’t driving me crazy asking for juice every ten seconds. If they are thirsty then they are all able to get themselves water out of the fridge. Secondly, it’s better for their teeth and health. My kids get enough sugar from cookies and popsicles. They don’t need it from their drinks as well.

 

Tip #3 Meatless Monday

We are in no way vegetarian but we have significantly cut back on our meat consumption. We have replaced a lot of our meat with tip #1 (the rice and beans.) This has saved us a tremendous amount of money. If your used to having your meat at every meal then maybe  you could start with a meatless Monday. For the first time this year we purchased a 1/4 of a cow from a farm and had it butchered and frozen. I love having the stockpile in my freezer. I highly recommend it and am hoping to do the same with pork and chicken. Maybe even our own animals one day soon:)

 

Tip  #4 Homemade

Try making your own snacks. Do your kids love cookies? Make you a big batch of oatmeal raisin at the beginning of the week. Trail mixes or granola can be eaten any time of day. Eat it dry, on top of yogurt, or with milk for cereal. Peanut butter and apples or veggies and ranch are also simple cheap snacks. Try to stay away from anything in a box even if it’s on sale. Take granola bars for example. There are probably six – eight in the box. Instead, you could make a fresh batch that would be double or triple in amount. Your granola bars would taste better and be better for you, no comparison.

 

Tip #5 Stock up

You better bet when I see noodles, rice, coffee, or beans on sale I stock  up. Those weeks at the grocery store may be slightly higher but the next week will be lower than usual. You have to educate yourself on a true deal. I fallen victim to this myself by looking at the pretty advertisements instead of doing my math.

 

I am always learning and tweaking any grocery store strategies. Does any one have any ideas?

Shared this post with:The Prairie Homestead A Mama’s story, Raising Arrows, The better Mom, The Modest Mom, What Joy is Mine, Far Above Rubies, Growing Home, Heavenly Homemakers, Time Warp Wife, Thankful Homemaker, Mamal Diane, Teaching What is Good,  A cat like curiosity, Mom’s the word, conerstone cofessions, A proverbs 31 wife, Some of the best things in life are mistakes, Let this mind be in you, A Wise Woman Builds her home, CSAHM Parenting Linkup, Deep Roots at Home, Graced Simplicity, Raising Homemakers, Women Living Well, Hope in Every Season, Jill’s Home remedies, Little Natural Cottage, Our simple country Life, Raising Mighty Arrows, The Purposeful Mom, Consider the Lillies, Happy and Blessed Home, Homemaker by Choice, Your Thriving Family, My Joy Filled Life. New Life Steward, Hometead simple, Christian Mommy Blogger,  Heart Reflected, Mrs. Happy Homemaker, Keeping It Simple, The Life of Faith, The Alabaster Jar, Splashing Glory, The wellspring, Road to 31

 

 

 

Craving Simple

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image courtesy of Njaj/freedigitalphotos.net

 

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to simplify? One would think it would be well, SIMPLE. I have come to find out it takes far more effort to simplify your life, yet it’s easy to complicate it.

 

Take for instance trying to buy a bottle of water. It’s tough to find JUST water. There are numerous options of vitamin infused water, flavored water, carbonated water, double filtered water, etc… the list goes on and on. Heck, just pick up a loaf of bread and notice the fifty ingredients listed.

 

It is also much easier to buy something with money that is not even yours, it’s loaned. What kind of sense does that make? People like to see you pay with your credit card, and people like using them. It doesn’t seem to bother most Americans that there are fees, interested rates, and an entire third-party involved. This has become our norm.

 

It seems over complication is the language of our society. By trying to make things more convenient we alter the state of its simplicity and it’s best design to work.

 

What if people only bought when they could afford it? For one, we might all work a little harder. Employment rates would go up and foreclosures down. But of course all of those complicated systems would have to be simplified as well.

 

What if the food on the shelves was the actual food we thought we were getting. Would we still have the rise of cancers and comorbidities in our nation? This then spills over into our healthcare systems. Oh goodness, that would have to be an entire different post for another day!

 

It is counterculture to simplify. It takes extreme effort but in it I have found such peace. My family and I strive for this daily. One of the definitions for the word simple is: FREEDOM from complexity, intricacy, or division. I love that!

 

What are some ways you try to keep things simple in your home?

 

I’m sharing this with A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, CSAHM Parenting Linkup, Deep Roots at Home, Our Simple Farm, Raising Homemakers, Walking Redeemed, Women Living WellJill’s Home Remedies, Graced Simplicity, Raising Mighty Arrows,  Happy and Blessed HomeMy Joy Filled Life.Christian Mommy Blogger, Let This Mind Be In You

 

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Hey Y'all! My name is Brittany Styron. Sweet Country Roots is a place I hope to encourage, inspire, and bring a chuckle. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and join conversations about marriage, babies, homeschooling, frugal living, good food, and an old fashioned way of thinking.

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