Frustrated Nester

Grady bedroom before

In my last post, I talked about some of the frustrations that come with being debt free and having to save for things and pay for them with actual money. When we bought the “SuBEARben” as it’s come to be lovingly referred to in the Fittin household and among our friends, we *kind of* wiped ourselves out. What I mean is that we saved up for it, pouring all of our extra cash into “the car fund” and afterwards were running pretty thin.

This gap happened to fall when that awesome New Mom Nesting Energy kicked in…leading to a very frustrating time for me. Honestly guys, we are T-3 weeks from due date and although most of these have finally been ordered,  my child still does not have a dresser/changing station, CARSEAT (We had one. It was actually like the first thing we had thanks to my old coworkers, but then we decided to trade it in for the travel system that comes with that exact same carseat. Target may have free shipping right now…but it is not quick free shipping.), and a few other necessities.

Even more frustrating, I’ve learned that nesting is not just for biological children. The adoption front has not been enabling my patience problem either. Apparently there has been some sort of paperwork problem or delay with our home study, which is why our last step has taken so long. We were really hoping to get to meet the boys at least once before the baby came, and now it’s looking like that won’t happen. I’m super disappointed.

Is it too much to ask for everything to go perfectly? Gosh.

When I figure out what the lesson is for this latest experience in the growing-a-family part of our story, I’ll let you know. But for now I’m just…frustrated.

Love, Alex



Debt Free Glamour



This has been very exciting for the Fittin Family. Being debt free has changed the way we think about money and how we ultimately live our lives. I’ve talked before about how we got there, and I’ve since learned that staying that way is something that is always a task.

Our culture thrives on debt. Who needs to save for something and actually have the correct amount of money to buy it when you could just…you know…not. Something like buying a car is enough to make you want to throw in the chips and be done with it all. This is what we recently found out anyway. I kid you not, we went to one car lot and the salesman asked us if we were cash or credit. We said “cash” and he went inside to “check on something” and DID NOT EVEN COME BACK OUT TO HELP US.


We sold our second car, the one I primarily drove, in order to pay off our last remaining debt, Bryan’s car. I was quitting my job to stay home and we were just really itching to be done with the whole debt thing. I didn’t drive much outside of work anyway, and thankfully we had some amazing friends with an extra car who were willing to let us borrow it while we saved up for another vehicle.

It was totally worth it, because now we are the proud owners of this beauty!

2014-11-18 14.06.14

Um, just kidding.

I really want to tell you that being debt free is this awesome, that you can buy crap like this left and right because NO MORE ANNOYING DEBT BILLS.

But I’d be lying. The truth is, being debt free is awesome, but not in the ways you’d think. We still have to budget, like a lot. We’re still learning how not to have a steady second income for that extra cushion. We don’t get to go on shopping sprees and have a lot of fancy stuff. For real, y’all. You should see Grady’s nursery right now. We are t- minus 4 weeks to due date and he just now got a crib. We’re still missing so many necessities. (If you see me out and about, please take the time to remind this frustrated nester that people have babies every day by squatting on the ground and they have them sleep on dirt and don’t have their video monitoring devices set up yet and they are totally fine. Thank you.)

We’re missing them because we have to save for them.

It’s no fun.

But you know what? It’s still worth it. We don’t owe anyone anything unless it’s for utilities or other services we use. That feels pretty awesome. BOTH of our cars are fully ours. All of our large appliances (As non-updated as they may be) are fully ours. All of the other crap that people usually owe some random bank or JC Penny for is fully ours. 

And that feels pretty good.

What doesn’t feel great is car shopping on a mediocre budget. I am…how-you-say… extremely and overly picky. I was not about to buy a car that someone had smoked in, that had weird, unknown stains in it, or that I felt like I was on borrowed time with. Bryan loves this about me, you can ask him. Be sure to ask him about hotels too, he loves shopping around for hotels with me on trips. I make it super easy and fun.

Bryan and I actually had this conversation multiple times as we drove through the lot and saw all of the shiny, new, awesome cars.

“So, do you want to just finance a car?” “Actually, yes. Can we do that please?”

It was not at all easy to stand our ground here.

Because we are about to more than double our family, we needed a third row. This meant a giant huge car. I was down with a Tahoe, but super not down with a Suburban. Bryan was all over the Suburban thing. “We can haul so much photography equipment!” Correction, buddy. You can haul photography equipment a few times a month, meanwhile I’m stuck driving children around in this thing like it is literally my job.

We found a Tahoe that looked all sleek and awesome on the outside, but was all not awesome on the inside like at all. Rips and stains abounded, but I was willing to take it because it was decidedly not a Suburban. Our offer was turned down on it, so we headed back out to the lot to search for the winner. Guess what it was?

2014-11-18 14.06.21

Can’t make this up. Apparently my efforts to show God that I have nothing left to learn have not been convincing, because He gave us this. A giant Suburban in one of my least favorite car colors. And y’all, I can’t even deny how awesome it is.

It is big enough for our future crazy family. It has bucket seats, allowing me to have the comforts of a minivan without the whole “driving a minivan” part. It has had one owner, and was not used as a kid-car, so the 13-year-old gray leather seats are pristine and I swear have been sat in like 4 times tops. Best of all, it was comfortably in our budget.


I do feel like a beast driving around in this thing. JUST TRY TO MESS WITH ME, CRAZY ARKANSAS DRIVERS.

God continues to refine me, despite my best efforts, even if it takes a huuuuge, unwanted but admittedly awesome vehicle to do it.

Still debt free, baby!

Love, Alex

Tips on Getting (And Staying) Debt Free

Some of you may have seen on Facebook yesterday, but Bryan and I are officially Debt Free! Just in time for me to quit my job and us to have a baby!


Sorry, Just had to get that out of my system.

I feel better now.

This is us mailing in our last payment!

This is us mailing in our last payment!

It’s been a long, bumpy road for us to pay everything off, but it has been so worth it. I want to give a quick snapshot of our journey, and then some tips on how everyone can have a smoother process to experiencing this freedom.

Bryan and I got engaged in 2011. I had a small car payment, but had always been pretty responsible with money. I also had never had much of it to be responsible with. I waited tables through college, so I always had cash on me, and therefore had a cash budgeting system in place. Something I was not great with was saving. I saved for small things in the near future: shoes, trips, etc, but never did any long-term saving.

Bryan, on the other hand, was already very successful and had seemingly plenty of money. He also had a lot of debt. He owned/owed on 2 cars and a motorcycle, and owed for multiple credit cards and store credits.

shortly after getting engaged, we decided to sell my car and one of his and get a ridiculously expensive, albeit used Land Rover and therefore combined our finances before we tied the knot since I would be living at home my senior year and not paying rent and utilities. I don’t recommend this for every couple AT ALL. It is not for everyone and arguably wasn’t for us. Here are the reasons I am glad we did it, though:

1. It forced us to confront our personal money problems and prepare early for being a team when it comes to finances.

2. Since we paid for most of our wedding ourselves, it enabled us to use almost all of my paycheck to 100% cash-flow our wedding and honeymoon. That’s right, we owed exactly nothing when it was all said and done.

3. It forced us to live out the usually bumpy first year of marriage during the year we were engaged, making our first year of marriage pretty enjoyable. Again, This would absolutely not work for everyone, and it took a lot of loyalty, willpower, and seeing the big picture to make it work for us.

4. Finally, If it weren’t for this decision, I don’t know that we would have taken our initial Financial Peace University class at our church. We were at our wits end, and something had to give. Bryan wanted to go, but since I was the more stubborn one about money, he prayed about it and trusted that God would convict me to make the decision to go to the class, which I THANKFULLY did. (My husband is kind of a superhero. There is no way I would have been that patient and trusting.)

Now, because of some bad decisions that had been made on both of our parts, and mostly because of bad decisions made by Bryan before we met, we were in debt about $90,000.00 (My gracious parents made the decision a long time ago that they wanted to pay for their kids to go to college, even it meant paying out loans. If I had this responsibility upon myself, it would have made our debt-toll quite a bit higher. This is something I am thankful for every single day and seriously could not have asked for better parents.)

As of yesterday: August 27th, 2014, we have paid every penny off! I am not going to lay out a plan for paying off debt, but here are some tips and tricks that got us through this mess, and how we intend to never get ourselves back in it again. (Bear with me, this will be a bulleted list. I am OCD and bulleted notetaking is my life. It gives me joy.)

debt free 2

  • Make the decision TOGETHER that you are going to do this 100%, fully, no looking back. Both partners have to have both feet squarely on the train for this to work. If you are single, get an accountability partner who is 100% in this with you and will tell you like it is and not pretty-it-up. Does this mean that one or both of you can’t waver ever? Uh, no. That’s a nonexistent, impossible scenario. It just means that when one partner struggles, the other one is there to encourage you back on the train. Choo choo.


  • If you are a part of a couple, learn to live on one income. No, I don’t mean one of you should quit your job. I mean pick the person who makes the most and force yourselves to budget based on that salary only. Pay all of the minimum payments on all of the loans with the main income. I am completely aware that this is not realistic for every couple and every situation, but I highly recommend that it be a goal as you pay off more and more. Here’s why:
    • The obvious reason: if one of you loses your job or wants to change jobs or wants to stay home with your kids, you aren’t screwed. I would never in my right mind want to readjust our budget like that. It was a pain in the butt to get it figured out and streamlined to begin with, and to have to par it down even more would induce suicidal thoughts.
    • It frees up an entire income to put towards paying off debt and saving money.
    • It teaches you to live well within your means like, for real. If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. I would much rather have plenty of wiggle room than be maxed out within our budget.
    • It allows you some extra spending money to reward yourself a bit along the way. Since you’re using the main family salary to pay the minimums, you can afford a big date night or weekend getaway to reward yourself after your close out a credit card account or pay off a load.


  • SELL EVERYTHING. I mean this. That motorcycle I talked about? Gone. That Land Rover we bought and I loved so much? Gone. We’ve had several cars since then because we have just been trading down and trading down until we had cars that we owed a manageable enough amount on to pay off. Downsize your home if you have way more house than you need. Get creative with your selling. We had a bunch of random kitchen items that we would have never been able to sell on their own, so we took a photo of the whole lot together and put it on Craigslist as a kitchen starter kit. A college student came and got it like the next day. Have a garage sale. Consign your clothes. Be weird and unmaterialistic. Every little bit counts.


  • Cut your cable. I’m not even a little bit kidding. You will live. We cut ours and got Netflix, Jetflicks, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. AND WE SURVIVED. And no, we aren’t those weird people who say things like “We just don’t watch very much tv.” (<–What?) I watch practically every show on television and did so using those streaming services. And don’t come at me shouting about sports. That’s why God invented Buffalo Wild Wings and friends’ houses. Offer to bring some food if they can host the watch party. And when you’re out of debt or to a manageable point in your journey, get the cable back. We did. I promise you will survive.


  • Get creative with eating out. I am the last person who will tell you to stop eating out, because who does that? I mean you should cut back for sure, and make a monthly budget for when you do. All that jazz. What I’m talking about it how to be able to eat out more within your “eating out/entertainment” budget. Here are some ideas:
    • Get water. This is an easy and obvious one.
    • Don’t get alcoholic beverages. Seriously, you can enjoy the company of friends and each other and buy yourself a six-pack for way cheaper. It’s a win-win.
    • Share. I know this sucks and takes some skill, especially if you have different tastes. Do what you gotta do, get an extra side dish, get separate salads before the entrée, all that good stuff. You can even pre-game at home before you get to the restaurant so you’re not famished and tempted to get separate meals. We definitely did not do this every time, but it practically doubles the number of times you can eat out every month within your budget.
    • Save the big spending for bigger occasions.  We rarely ate out together (Eating out without the other one came out of our “personal spending” budget, not out joint entertainment budget) unless it was for date nights or group activities. Sure, we grabbed food while running errands or similar situations plenty, we just knew where to go that wasn’t going to break the bank. (Holla for Sams Club’s cheap-as-crap pizza combo!)
    • Enjoy the company without the spending from time to time. What I mean is, sometimes it’s possible to sit with your friends and not get coffee or whatever, or eat before you come when it’s a group of other people who you know will be ordering. I have coffee with a group of girls regularly on Tuesday nights and only get a drink some of the time. I can make coffee at home a lot cheaper and sometimes I would really only be buying it because I’m there, which is not a good reason. Bryan has lunch with a group of guys from church every Thursday in a local mall food court. Back when we first started (And even still sometimes!), he would bring his own lunch and eat at the table with them. They used to make fun of him, but now several other guys have taken FPU and started doing the same thing!


  • Cut out anything else extra. Monthly subscription boxes? Cut ’em. Regular music buying? Stop it. Gym memberships even? Buy INSANITY and work out from home for a short time while paying stuff off. All of these sacrifices suck, yes, but remember that it’s only for a short time and it is SO WORTH IT in the end. Plus, like I’ve stated above, it is totally possible to find creative measures to make it suck less.


  • If you have the time, coupon. Yes, this takes dedication, but it’s kind of like throwing money away if you have time and don’t anyway. I started it and then stopped because of the time factor, but now that I am coming home from my job, I plan on starting back up again. There are lots of websites and free tools to get started. My favorite one is


  • Give each other/yourself loads and loads of grace. This crap is hard, and everyone will tell you that you’re crazy for trying. Don’t let it discourage you. I can’t tell you how many fights, breakdowns, and minor relapses we each have had that set us back, but we always forgave each other, recommitted, and got back on the train. Give each other grace and forgiveness for past/current mistakes as well. It was freaking hard to accept that ALLLLLL of this debt that Bryan had accumulated before I even knew he existed was now on my shoulders as well. It took a while to forgive him for that and get to the point where I was as driven as he was to get rid of it. Thankfully, Bryan was a lot more forgiving and patient for my unwillingness than I was for his debt mistakes.

You will survive, I promise.

Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s too hard or not worth it. I am standing here today with so much freedom telling you that IT TOTALLY IS.

If you’re just starting out in your journey, I want to really encourage you to pick some sort of learning material. Obviously, I am a big supporter of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, but there are others as well. You just want to make sure you pick one that is based on your personal values-system and beliefs, and that ultimately DOES NOT BELIEVE IN BEING IN DEBT.

People have all kinds of opinions about Dave Ramsey as a person, and I’d love to talk to you about it sometime if you want, but regardless of personal beliefs, he is an expert and his methods are TRIED AND TRUE to work, if for no other reason than giving you a head start and getting you and your partner on the same page when it comes to finances. Bryan and I teach FPU at our church now, so if you are in the NWA area and want to take it, please let me know! We’ve had all kinds in our class. Singles, older people, engaged couples, Christians, non-Christians, etc.


This was part of our first graduating class of FPU!

This was part of our first graduating class of FPU!

I have lots more tips and tricks to share if you want them. I hope our story encourages you just like others’ stories did us. I would LOVE  to talk more about it with you. Just let me know :).

Love, Alex