Category: Classes & Training

How We Paid Off Everything (But the Mortgage, Yet)!


When my husband, Robert, and I got married, we each brought a substantial amount of debt into the marriage. For us it was a mortgage, a car loan, loans from each of our graduate school educations, and college loans for me. Luckily, we didn’t have any credit debt and we each had good credit histories and were responsible to pay our required payments each month. But we didn’t want to keep paying a large percentage of our incomes to debt every month endlessly. So we made a plan to get rid of all the debt (other than the mortgage) as soon as possible. We originally thought we could have all but the biggest loan paid off by September 2013 but instead we got all of it gone by that same month!

We were married in November 2011 and as soon as the dust had settled from the amazing wedding, the funky honeymoon (plans fell through on the way to our tropical vacation, so we had to settle for Texas) and the seasonal holidays in January 2012 we got to work paying down debt as fast as possible. We decided to strategize using the Financial Peace Method by Dave Ramsey. I had taken the course myself as a single woman in 2009 shortly after finishing graduate school. When we were married, I shared the course information with Robert and we decided to follow Dave’s methods.

While conservative, Dave’s Baby Steps do work. For debt payoff in Step Two, Dave encourages the snowball method which has you paying minimums on all your debts while throwing all extra money into the smallest debts (regardless of interest rates) one at a time till they are gone. This gives you a feeling of winning financially because it not only reduces your total debt burden each month but it also gives you something to celebrate on the short scale. We definitely recommend it because we were celebrating paying off small debts every few months instead of spending a year just going after a big one. Some would argue that the avalanche method (largest interests down in order) is better financially, but for us we just couldn’t beat the psychological pride and encouragement of accomplishing each goal and we believe our small successes spurred us to work harder and faster to be rid of all the debts. There is a study proving what we noticed too

How We Did It

Beyond coming up with a monthly budget each month, cash budgeting was the best thing we ever did. We didn’t even start cash budgeting till summer 2012, six months into our debt free journey. We had both been working and all of my income was going into our loans as we lived on a budget based solely on Robert’s income. But I was preparing to stay home with our soon-to-be-born son. Robert asked to try cash budgeting for one month. We attempted it and found we put more into debts on his one income than we’d ever done on two incomes. Even now, debt free with a baby, we still cash budget.

Our cash budget was pretty minimal because we delayed purchases that didn’t line up with our debt free focus. As newlyweds we didn’t go out and re-decorate the whole house no matter how much I wanted to do so. We didn’t buy a second car, I took the bus or we just arranged days for each to get the car. We avoided shopping as much as possible, even sales items add up. For example, ten purses at garage sales for $10/each is still $100 even if it’s not a single $100 purse. We made our wardrobes work for us as much as possible. There were countless other choices we made that helped us stay focused on our goal and focused goals succeed better than scattered ones.

Eating out of the pantry every few months helped really move the budget and debt snowball. Most homes in America have full freezers, fridges, and pantries and I learned to be an expert at meal planning from what we had. It’s become quite a cool skill actually, friends ask me to look at what they think has no meal possibilities and I can usually come up with 15-20 tasty and unique, but not weird, meal ideas out of food they have on hand.

We lived below our allotted cash budget as in we’d set a monthly cash budget each month for needs and small personal slush budgets but most months we’d stay well below that number so we could be debt free faster. But every few months if our below-budget number felt too small we could loosen back to the original goal mark and feel like it was a splurge (though a well set budgeted splurge).

Lots of conversations about money, debt, budgeting: Many marriages are made harder by troubles talking about money together. and now we feel like money-talk marriage professionals with each other. Before every month we’d sit down and plan/guesstimate unique budgeting for that upcoming month, this includes regular expenses (like this month we had a vacation, two baby showers, and the Washington State Fair I wanted to attend). We’d also check our food status to see if we could live out of the pantry and buy very little groceries that month. Then we’d determine our cash system from there and check all balances of savings, giving, debt payoff, retirement, etc.

On September 15th we sent the last big payment off thus closing the last of our accounts with Ford Motor Company (see Robert holding the title to our car that is now in our names), ACS Loans, and Sallie Mae! We’re not ready to go crazy with spending just yet though, since we still have more baby steps to complete on our path to financial independence but having the school and car debts gone is a big weight off our backs. We now own our own educations and our car, it is a great feeling. We are certainly grateful to the companies that loaned us money for school and the car but we are glad to say goodbye to them now too. We are two excited folks about the next step in our financial journey together!

***You can take Financial Peace University yourself too. In fact, we are teaching a local class that just started last week and still has room for more members and guests ( Even if you have different debt or more or less than us or a worse credit score or financial history, Financial Peace has tools for every situation to help you gain control of your finances.

Posted in Business Advice, Classes & Training, Services

For the Joes, Maureens and Emmys of the World

Don R. CrawleyIt seems that every thriving company has a “go to” person when it comes to technology questions.  In one company that person is Joe.  Joe was not born a “geek” and he didn’t go to school for technology.  He is just a guy who remembers every piece of technology and software that his company has ever bought and he remembers why and how each piece relates to the others.  So whenever anyone has a question about a legacy system or a new system, the refrain is “Go ask Joe.”

In another company this person is Maureen.  Again, Maureen didn’t go to school for technology.  Instead, she is just one of those intrepid people who isn’t afraid to figure out how to turn on and off a server or computer, and she can calmly answer technology questions with simple step by step instructions.  Because her company has staff worldwide, the refrain is “Call (or email) Maureen.”

In yet another company it is Emmy.  Emmy actually took a few basic computer courses in high school, but she was not a technology major and her warmth and energy dispel any characterization as a “geek”.  But, she loves gadgets and so she has become the go to person for her company’s executives and sales staff.  Whenever they have questions about their handhelds and GPS systems, the refrain is “Text Emmy.”

The Joes, Maureens and Emmys of the world are just the kind of folks that serves.  These people are largely self-taught and have become indispensible in their respective companies.  They don’t have time for regular college courses and really only need “just in time” training and step by step practical manuals.

Don R. Crawley of provides accelerated and on-site IT training in topics such as Cisco ASA security appliances, Cisco Router, Linux Servers, Bind DNS and Customer Service Training for IT Professionals. In addition to being an accomplished author, speaker and trainer, Don is also an actor, voiceover artist and narrator and a regular blogger for Computer World.  Well traveled in all 50 states, as well as Canada, Australia and the U.K., Don has led numerous seminars and speeches for anyone from the customer service rep to the techie computer geek.   Speaking on the topics of customer service and motivational and inspirational topics, Don povidess the tools, tips and advice to strengthen skills at work and in everyday life.

Don also has authored books on technology topics.  Two of his most recent books, “The Accidental Administrator: Cisco ASA Security Appliance: A Step-by-Step Configuration Guide” and “The Accidental Administrator: Linux Server Step-by-Step Configuration Guide“, are written for the Joes, Maureens and Emmys of the world.

For more information, visit and

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Correcting Bite Problems without Braces

Dr. Norm CulverSeattle Area dentist Norm Culver, DDS is training dentists in the lost art of equilibration. Faster and less expensive and less intrusive than braces, equilibration adjusts a patient’s bite in as little as one visit. In this procedure the dentist marks the teeth for areas that hit prematurely and then makes very small grinding adjustments to help the teeth match better.

In an era when people need more affordable solutions it may be surprising that more dentists don’t employ this procedure. The main reason for this is that dental schools stopped teaching the procedure years ago because the procedure was not a money maker for dental practices.

Dr. Culver believes it is now time to bring back this procedure. So he offers simple half day courses focused entirely on the topic of equilibration. Now dentists can learn how to make this process simple, practical, and profitable to their practice.

For more information, visit

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Posted in Classes & Training

Bring Music Home

Have you considered starting a hobby, such as music or art? Adding music to a household can be an effective therapeutic outlet to reduce stress in your life. For a child, music has been proven to improve academic learning and develop important motor skills.*

Foothills Suzuki Institute, offers local Suzuki lessons for violin, viola and cello. Foothills Suzuki Institute works out of the studios and concert rooms at Hammond Ashley Violins in Issaquah, WA. (For those who don’t live in the Greater Seattle area, check here for a Suzuki teacher in your area.)

Foothills Suzuki Institute Group Lesson at Hammond Ashley Violins

The Suzuki Method was started by Dr. Shin’ichi Suzuki (1898-1998). Dr. Suzuki believed that every child could learn to play music the same way they learn to speak: starting at a young age and being immersed in the language/music. From this idea, Dr. Suzuki based his method of teaching violin on listening, repetition, parent involvement and starting the student at a young age. Just as every child can learn to speak, every child can learn to play the violin with the right instruction and lifestyle habits. Thus, the Suzuki Method is known as the “mother-tongue” method.

Suzuki students have weekly private lessons as well as periodic group lessons. In the group lessons, students are provided with a fun social environment where they can learn from each other, listen and watch other violinists and have the opportunity to play in front of others. Group lessons also encourage manners, community and discipline.

Although Dr. Suzuki was a violinist, the Suzuki Method has been adapted for many other instruments including: viola, cello, bass, piano, flute, harp, guitar and recorder.

ViolinWhile the Suzuki Method was created for preschool-aged students, the Foothills Suzuki Institute uses the Suzuki Method to teach students of all ages and levels.

Starting music lessons for a child can be beneficial for parents as well since the Suzuki Method relies heavily on parent involvement. In order to efficiently coach children in their daily practice, parents are encouraged to be involved at every private and group lesson.

Learning an instrument such as violin or cello will bring value to your life whether you or your child starts lessons. Don’t keep putting it off. Contact Hammond Ashley for more information today.

*For more on how music effects child development: and

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Hart’s Gymnastic Center

Summer has come to an end but the impact of summer activities is still felt by some area businesses. For example, the Summer Olympics typically prompt young people to learn tumbling and gymnastics and trainers like those at Hart’s Gymnastic Center stand ready to coach these young athletes.

Hart’s Gymnastic Center, owned by David and Debbie Hart, is located in Auburn’s north end and offers a variety of classes for people of all ages ranging from 16 months to adult. Their goal is to provide individuals with a fun, safe learning environment along with quality coaching in a family friendly atmosphere.

In addition to gymnastics classes, Hart’s also offers cheer leading and group stunting classes which focus on teaching all aspects of stunting from necessary to elite skills. An instructional Parkour class is offered two Saturdays a month.

Hart’s also hosts birthday parties for boys and girls in 1 ½ or 2 hour time frames. They are currently offering a one-time promotional one hour field trip, free of charge, to local daycares, preschools and elementary schools in the area. The field trip starts as a warm up, and then it’s on to fun filled games, activities and obstacle courses that are age appropriate for that group. Each class and activity is closely monitored by Hart’s staff to help ensure safety.

With 10 years competitive experience, owner David Hart is a former NJCAA and NCAA competitive gymnast. Two years in a row he helped guide his college team to the national championships. He has received national honors and ranked top ten in NCAA for high bar.

Visit their web site at for class schedules, map and location, and photos of their facility.

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Hammond Ashley Violins

Hammond Ashley Violins Seattle Store

Hammond Ashley Violins is all about bringing quality music tools to the string communities of Seattle, Washington and San Diego, Calfornia.

Founded in 1964 by Hammond Ashley, the business began on the second floor of Ashley’s woodworking shop just south of the Seattle-Tacoma airport. Ashley’s background in engineering, woodworking and music made the perfect foundation for lutherie work. (Read more about founder Hammond Ashley here.)

After Hammond Ashley died in 1993, his grandson, Paul Ashley, took on the business, which had grown significantly and taken up shop on Des Moines Memorial Drive. In 2006, the business again moved to a shop with more space in Issaquah, Washington.

In February 1999, “Hammond Ashley Bass Violins” went online under the domain Here, they had a large inventory price list of instruments and their accessories. Customers could order these products by emailing or faxing their desired products and phoning in their credit card information.

Currently, Hammond Ashley Violins has two shops, one in Issaquah, Washington and one in San Diego, California. Both shops have recently moved location and are continuing to grow in business. They can be found online at where customers can easily complete the entire rental process online and simply pick up their rental instruments at their school or in-store. Customers are encouraged to come in-store for the purchase of instruments, bows and accessories where professional staff will help find the perfect instrument for each individual.

Hammond Ashley violins’ specialty is in sales and rentals of high quality stringed instruments. Both stores are lined with hand-picked instruments and bows from all around the world that customers can play and compare in a friendly and comfortable environment. Before deciding on the purchase or rental of any stringed instrument, customers are encouraged to take the instruments and/or bows home to play for their teacher’s input. The store also includes a workshop where stringed instruments are set up, adjusted and repaired before and after purchase. Instruments purchased elsewhere can also be brought to the workshop.

Passion for musicians is not limited to Hammond Ashley Violins’ walk-in customers. Their outreach extends to schools and the string community around them. Throughout the years, Hammond Ashley Violins has sponsored master classes, workshops, summer camps and festivals, concerts and contests. They have a school outreach program whose goal is to educate students and teachers on topics such as care and maintenance of string instruments and how to select an instrument or bow.

Hammond Ashley Violins offers reliable referrals for professional private string instructors for any skill level or age. In fact, most of the business to Hammond Ashley Violins comes from private string teachers and their students. This is because Hammond Ashley Violins

Hammond Ashley Violins is a worry-free dream for any music teacher.

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The HomeScholar

The Home Scholar Logo

A growing number of parents want to home school. They worry about the environment and values that government schools offer. While the shear quantity of effort is daunting in the lower grades, by high school many parents wonder if they know enough to prepare their children for college. Homeschooling high school is a joy and a challenge!

Thinking about homeschooling high school can fill parents with anxiety! We wonder….

  • Am I capable of teaching high school subjects?
  • Can my child get into college if we homeschool high school?
  • Will I ruin my child’s future?

The HomeScholar has good news! Homeschooling high school is the best life preparation you can give your children. They proclaim, “You are fully capable of providing that quality education. You lack for nothing – except tools and confidence. That is where I can help!”

Lee Binz is The HomeScholar. Her services include the resources and tools you need to succeed.

· She helps parents fearful of the transition to high school level instruction to relax and become confident.
· She coaches them on the college application process, offering proven strategies for success!
· She reassures parents wanting an independent opinion of their curriculum, and even her homework assignments. Thoughtful direction means less redundancy, more enjoyable and fruitful learning, and focusing on efficient and successful learning.
· Lee offers the kind of personal service that puts homeschool students at the ready for the college entrance procedures. Once she walked a parent through preparing a transcript, and the next day the paperwork was ready to go!
When you work with Lee, you will receive the personal care and expert advice that will help you overcome the many challenges of homeschooling high school. No matter what the issue, she comes alongside and guides you through the process and helps you think through the solutions.
So, become confident! Homeschooling high school is not only possible, but it is the best way to help your children succeed beyond your wildest imagination! Lee knows. She homeschooled her two boys for eight years, from elementary school through high school. Not only did her boys graduate from high school, but they both received four-year, full-tuition scholarships from their first choice university. Through this process, she learned the secrets on how to homeschool successfully through high school — secrets that I am very excited to share with you.

Everyone can benefit! The HomeScholar offers a free email newletter, the HomeScholar Record. It provides on-going training and advise. In addition, she offers a daily blog, that is like a “Dear Abby” column for high school homeschoolers. She also has links for even more in-depth research on relevant topics.
Lee wants to help, and provides free ten-minute consultations every Wednesday from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. She welcomes calls at 1-888-LEE-2HELP. The HomeScholar also offers training DVDs for parents on general and specific homeschooling issues. Finally, she offers in depth telephone counseling, for those who need the personalized direction that her many years of practical experience can offer.

While the HomeScholar is all about education, sometimes the scariest part of the homeschooling challenge is just keep the paperwork straight. Lee will walk you through how to grade, to prepare transcripts, and how to make sure that colleges and universities correctly interpret your child’s accomplishments.

Finally, how about having the HomeScholar at your next co-op meeting. The wisdom she’s garnered can be efficiently, and effectively communicated to your homeschooling circle of friends, and at conventions, and even college fairs.

Where to start? Join Lee’s newsletter, and subscribe to her blog. Explore her website, also! None of these things will cost you a dime and you will receive great encouragement along the way. The HomeScholar loves helping homeschool families, and she would love to help you, too! Her job is to help EVERY family succeed in homeschooling their children through high school!

DO NOT BE AFRAID! You CAN do it, and the HomeScholar can help! Lee looks forward to sharing with you the homeschooling secrets that enabled her family to succeed in homeschooling beyond their wildest dreams!

For more Infomation:

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Posted in Classes & Training, Education, Services is the Seattle-based firm that provides training for people who design, build, and operate data networks using Cisco, Linux, and Microsoft products. Courses include training in Cisco, Linux, Networking Fundamentals, Network Security, Microsoft Windows and Project Management. Instruction is delivered by vendor-certified professionals.

Training Programs specializes in seminars and workshops designed to deliver necessary important skills and knowledge with minimal time away from the office. Their unique 2-day format allows the busy IT professionals to get up to speed quickly, thus maximizing their time out of the office.’s name is its philosophy: Sound Training practices based on sound business principles. It is also their address on the World Wide Web, and their geographical location (they are based in the Puget Sound area).

All of’s outstanding training programs are available for presentation at your location (or the location of your choice) and at your convenience. On site training can make financial sense for groups of three or more.

To learn more about what they offer, go to or call them at 206.988.5858.

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