Health Insurance: Open Enrollement Time

It's open enrollment time at my employ, and while the Mrs and I are decided and done, it seems that most folks have hardly logged on. Since we're going through the second major plan overhaul in 3 years, people have TONS of questions and no clue as to which one to choose.

The Providers and their vague presentations and explanations have come and gone and folks are still sitting around at lunch saying, "I don't know what to pick." Now, I don't intend to demean these folks. Modern health care is quite complicated and an incredible amount of responsibility is in the lap of the consumer. This is a difficult and important decision - more now than ever.

My response, usually starts with, "Here's how we decided..."

First, a little backstory:
We have two options for employer sponsored health insurance. One plan is like a PPO, but they have added some hoops to jump through. The other is an HSA. To make this decision, you really need to know three things about the plans:

  • The Deductible (the amount you are responsible for before the insurance actually kicks in)
  • The Premium (the amount that you kick - monthly, yearly, whenever)
  • The Out-of-Pocket limit (the co-insurance amount you are responsible for above the deductible)
Here are the numbers for our plans (these are for employee and family):




Deductable (per yr)


$X + $70

Premium (per mo.)



Out-of-Pocket Limit (per yr)


For this example, you can assume that most other details are equal. As you can see, the PPO has higher premiums ($840 per year), but the deductible is $3,000 less than the HSA. The out-of-pocket limits are the same, making that part irrelevant. So what does all this mean? "Well, here's how we decided..."

For two years running, we've hit our out-of-pocket limit in April or May. Lately, we've been what they refer to as 'heavy users of insurance'. We don't have chronic ailments, but we did have a baby last year. And this year, we had 3 ER trips. the net result of 2 busy kids and 2 active parents. We're healthy people, but lately we've been quite accident prone.

Really, each employee has to make a gamble. either we choose the PPO and plan on using up the low deductible, or we choose the HSA and hope hardly see the doctor all year (thus taking advantage of putting in less per month). While we like the idea of rolling over unused HSA funds to the next year, so far that hasn't been a reality.

We chose the PPO.

Is it right for everyone? Definitely not. A greater difference in the premiums would make the HSA more attractive. This is especially true with a fully-funded emergency fund. We could use it to cover $4k in medical expenses, but that also means that the EF would be depleted and not able to be use for other emergencies.

What has your experience been? Does the HSA work for you or your family?

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Vacation Or Bust Update

Our challenge is to raise $1300 before Christmas vacation. For more details checkout our original post. We know that it's a lofty goal to reach that fast without adding any salaried income to the mix, but we also live on a tight budget. A vacation is a luxury not a necessity.

Here is the breakdown of what we have done so far this month:

  • Garage Sale- We decided to have an impromptu garage sale with a friend who lives on a busy road in a really nice part of town. It worked out great! We sold most of our stuff and made $427 to put towards our vacation fund.
  • Survey- Ironically the week we started the challenge the Mr. got a call from a magazine he subscribes to asking him to take part in a large web-based survey the following week. His reward was a check for $150.
  • Blog- We made $71 in blog revenue this month after paypal fees and other costs.
So far this month we have made a grand total of $648! Not bad for just under 4 weeks. We are only two dollars shy of the halfway mark. The garage sale was our biggest money maker planned. It did give us a great boost in the right direction but we are running out of stuff to sell for money.

The plan for the next couple weeks is to sell of a few odd ends and I'm going to try selling some of my handmade items at a local craft fair in two weeks. I'm hoping to make about $20-30 each on the odd end. I have no clue what I'll make at the craft fair. It's the first time I've tried something like that so it's all an unknown. Hopefully it will raise some cash instead of just being just a learning experience.

Do you have any ideas for us to raise some fast cash? How have you raised vacation funds in the past?

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Still here...

Posting has been a little light lately - Ok, it's been 6 days. Fret not -we're still here.

Life has just had us feeling a tad under water lately, and that's ok, it happens from time to time.

The Mrs. is up to her knees in apples as she spends her days making and preserving applesauce for the year. It's a ton of work, but she will survive it and be back soon with more inspiring posts.

I've been laboring in the garden every non-rainy chance I get, trying to finish the fence and grape arbors for the garden makeover. 300 feet of fence takes time when you do it from scratch. I've also been trying to wrap up other fall yard work before all the nice days get away from us.

But not all of our time has been spent away from the computer.
Here are some things we have been working on that you can look forward to in the coming weeks

  • Raw milk - how deliciously illegal is it?
  • The truth about debit cards - just the facts, ma'am.
  • Part 2 of our look at Roth IRA conversions
  • We're prepping several guest posts for other blogs
  • And tomorrow.... an update on Vacation or Bust 2009!

photo from Flickr

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Going Once, Going Twice, Sold to Mrs. Not the Jet Set!

I have to admit that I LOVE auctions. I'm picky about which ones I go to and I do have favorite auctioneers. Saying that I rarely walk away from an auction disappointed. This past weekend was no exception to the rule either.

A local plant nursery decided that to stay a float after a bad year they would auction off a large amount of their stock. It's heart breaking to know that a local person is on the brink of losing their business, but by spending the money at the auction you do have to look at it as a way to help them.

There was over an acre full of stock that they were getting rid of. Most of it was trees with the smallest being 6 ft tall and the largest ones needing to be moved by semi-trailers. I'm talking massive 20+ feet tall trees. My goal and budget was to accure a couple fruit trees for our open front yard. When the auction started I realized quickly that I was going to get lucky. The people bidding were all wholesalers or developers. No one had any interest in "edible" plants. Because of this stroke of luck I was able to walk away feeling like a million bucks. I bought 5 large seedless concord grape vines for $10 total. Five apple trees (Granny Smith and Empires) for $17.50 each along with 2 aprocots and 3 cherries for $12.50 each. These trees were each 9 feet tall and in 10 gallon containers! What a deal!!!

It will not take long for those large plants to start recouping my initial cost. It might even take the Mr.'s back longer to heal. Sorry for all the digging honey!

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Two Cent Tuesday

Welcome to Two Cents Tuesday!

Two Cents from the Mrs.
"When you realize you NEED something don't run to the store right away. Instead take the time to find a creative solution you already have in your home. I've found countless ways to use my extra mason jars. "

Now it's your turn!

You can link to posts that are related to living on a "Not the Jet Set" budget. This could be anything from ideas to save money around the house or garden, DIY home repair, using cash envelopes, to planning your low cost vacation. We do ask that you refrain from linking to posts about weekly store deals, contests, paid ads and the like.

I look forward to reading everyone's ideas on ways to live on a "Not the Jet Set" budget. Please take the time to view other blogger's posts as well as add our button or link back to this post.

Your Two Cents:

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The Bible, Money and Marriage

Before you read this post please read my disclaimer below:

I'm by no means a biblical scholar or a theology teacher. What I do know is that you have to read the bible, think about how it would apply to today's world, and look at what your specific faith teachings/ interpretations are for that specific bible verse, parable, or allegory. Please discuss this topic with your own Priest or Pastor if you want a clearer outlook from your faith's perspective.
Okay, On to the post.

Last week I posted about my view of Suze Orman's advice to married couples. I knew my stand would be controversial but most of the time following God's will is not the path of least resistance. Because of that I did get some feedback from readers that didn't see things my way and that is just fine. I don't expect everyone to see the world the way I do. If I did then life would be boring and I'd never learn anything new. However, one commenter did ask where in the bible God said that we should have joint accounts. I felt like answering that question in the comments would not give it the full justice that it deserves.

Here are some of the places in the bible that I feel address this topic of having unity in your financial lives as a married couple.

> Gen 2:24 "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" By one flesh it means that you have one set of hands, eyes, ears and so on. If you are to truly be one you would have to truly say what is mine is yours and yours is mine. We share everything we have, including money.

> Mark 10:9 "what therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder" If you are not let anything get between you that means more then a job or another woman. It means the kids, politics, and money too.

> 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." It's rare that both spouses are financially savvy. It's also rare that they both have enough free time on their hands to do double the work. God gave us each our own set of talents and as a married couple you are to share them as "one flesh" not withhold them from each other. My husband is good at hanging pictures, I'm not. He hangs all the pictures in the house even the ones I want hung. I'm good at sewing, he would probably sew his fingers together. I mend all the clothes in our house. We share our gifts for the common good of our marriage and family.

> Proverbs 15:22 "Without counsel plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed." Two heads are better then one. If my husband and I both look at all of our money together we can make better decisions together. As a parent I want to make sure to include my husband on issues of raising our kids. If we discuss and agree on a parenting method (like sleeping habits of the baby) then we are much more likely to succeed by working together vs. each trying our own method which would confuse the child. The same goes with our income. We put all of it together and decide together what to do with all of it.

> Proverbs 31:10 "An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life." Trust each other. Have faith in the other person. You are on the same team so act like it! If we as a married couple can trust each other we will have no lack of gain. If you spouse should be worth more then jewels and your heart is to trust your spouse, why then would you not trust them with joint accounts?

As a Christian the ultimate marriage to look up to is that of Christ and his bride, the Church. So I ask myself, "What would Jesus do?" Would he not fully share his money with his spouse?

Outside of the bible specifically most if not all Christian teachings do say that you should have shared everything. The most known Christian personal financial teachers all say it too. Including Dave Ramsey, Larry Burkett, and Phil Lenahan.

Another thing those same PF gurus will teach you is about communication in a marriage. Something most marriages need more of. Clearly, in the case of Jon and Kate Goslin, they needed more communication - not less. Separating your finances is simply a brick wall for communication - a place for spouses to hide their spending sins. Joint accounts takes your marriage in the opposite direction to a place called unity. My husband has full knowledge of the amount of money I spend on my garden and on sewing projects. I'm fully aware of how much he spends on his tools and other stuff. It's okay to spend money on things that only one person enjoys without feeling ashamed or the need to hide it from your spouse. It's just apart of having a mature and selfless relationship.

On a personal note, while we never had separate accounts, we were not always on the same page about our finances. I can assure you that this did not do us any favors in maintaining a healthy marriage. He spent and I got upset. I spent and he had no clue. Hurt feelings, confusion, blaming.... maybe you've been through this too? But since we got on the same page, since both of us agree on our spending before we do it, since both of us understand our common goals as well as our personal goals, we now have this incredible unity in our marriage. There's no ambiguity, and we love it. The more open and vulnerable we become to each other the stronger our marriage and finances become.

So how are the accounts arranged in your marriage? How does it correlate with your faith and it's teachings?

Feel free to join us tomorrow for Two Cent Tuesday!

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Just a Reminder....

There's been a lot of discussion lately on credit cards and debit cards (as if it ever really settles down). After several great discussions and debates, I ran across a string of posts from the Consumerist - one of the few consumer advocacy blogs. The articles were interesting individually, but more compelling as a body of work.

Hit the link below for a summary of this collection and a little reminder for those of us who have taken the plunge and gone credit card free.

From "Consumers Pay Down Credit Card Debt for 11th Straight Month":

The Federal Reserve has released data on consumer debt for August, and for the 11th month in a row we've paid down credit card debt and increased savings. Take that, rate-hiking credit card companies!
Great, right? For many millions of Americans, this theory of 'just pay off the balance each month' panned out to be little more than just a nice theory. The reality was credit card debt, and we also know that the leading causes of that credit card debt is due to a loss of income and/or medical expenses, not uncontrollable spending.

From "Man Puts Deposit Down On Used Car, Backs Out, Can't Get Money Back":
Back in April, Nait put a $500 refundable deposit down on a used car, then decided he didn't want to buy it anymore when he found it needed $10,000 in repairs. Five months later, neither the dealership nor Capital One, will refund his money. He gives a blow-by blow here.

So much for credit cards being that magical line of defense between the consumer and a shady business.

From "Ending The 0% Balance Transfer Era":
Ah, the glory days of American credit cards. When your credit card's interest rate went too high, you could find a different card with a deliciously low promo balance transfer rate, and revel in your low interest. At least, until you let the card sit idle too long or made a late payment, and then started the cycle over again. But no more.
The first comment here is also of note:
I've never found a balance transfer that would help my wife and I spend less and/or pay off quicker. Has anyone found a good way to do this that doesn't involve a balance transfer?
Right, and you never will. The balance transfer can only be effective as a temporary band-aid on the hemorrhaging that is your money. It may stop the bleeding, but yet hasn't solved anything. Want to spend less, and/or pay them off quicker? Close 'em, Shred 'em, and Forget 'em.

From "BofA Pledges To Stop Raising Credit Card Interest Rates":
The AP reports Bank of America has promised to stop jacking up interest rates on credit cards with fixed interest rates. But that doesn't mean your rate won't jump.
Sounds a lot like previous promises to stop beating their wives abusing customers. No, no - I'm sure they mean it this time.

From "Help! My Credit Card Is Adding An Annual Fee!"
Michael is in a situation that we anticipate will become very, very common in the coming months. His credit card company has imposed a $99 annual fee. He can accept the fee, or close his account. Not only is this his only credit card, but it's the oldest credit line he has, so closing it would hurt his credit score. What would you do?
You guys are just pitching them underhand.... that's an easy question - Close 'em, Shred 'em, and Forget 'em.

So those 5 recent posts, as I said, make for a compelling body of work. How so? Think about it this way:

If you have no credit cards, then none of this has any affect on you. Any of it.

The first is nice to hear, and even nicer not to be participating it - or even capable of participating in. Of the many things credit cards claim, simplicity is not one of them.

Just a reminder...

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How to Ruin Your Marriage

Step One: Listen to Suze Orman

Step Two: There is none needed after step one.

Does that seem a little harsh? I don't think that it does. It actually took me several days to calm down enough to write this post. Last Friday I was watching the Today show while folding laundry. It's the one time I actually watch TV. Anyways, on comes Suze looking like she just rolled out of bed with a hoodie on and her hair not done. I usually don't judge people by their looks but come on, your on national TV. Matt proceeded asked her about what couples should do with their money so that they don't end up like Jon and Kate (I guess Jon emptied their bank accounts before he moved out). What is her wise advise?

Don't trust your spouse from the beginning. The preacher didn't REALLY mean "and now you are one". And if you are a stay at home wife you must feel like a little child asking her daddy for her allowance. How in the world does any of this advise make for a strong marriage? I can tell you right now that if we didn't have joint accounts on everything along with 100% open communication about our finances I would not feel comfortable staying home with my kids. I also would never fully trust my spouse. How could I if he doesn't fully trust me?

On top of all of that depending on what state you live in your death could cause even more financial stress then the emotional stress of losing a spouse. Right now we are "walking" with a widow from our church who is suffering. She lost her husband last month unexpectedly. Because they had bought off on bad advise like Suze's she didn't know what type of financial stuff was going on in her husbands life. It turns out that he had a mountain of credit card debt that she didn't know about. She didn't even know he had the cards.

Right now you are probably thinking so what? She isn't liable for his debt. You are right, but his estate is. Their home as well as their paid for cars where all in his name since they could qualify for better rates that way. Now she is looking at losing everything they had work for. Along with the home they raised their 12 kids in.

If they had joint accounts she would have known what was going on. She would have said "No thanks honey, I don't NEED a new coat this winter." She would have made different decisions. He would have been held responsible for his actions as well. Living two seperate financial lives in marriage only caused their family extreme pain and suffering after his death. She lost her husband and her whole world. She is now faced with moving out of state to live with one of her children because she has no home.

If that is what you want your future to be then go ahead and take Suze's advise. Have separate accounts and just one "monthly shared bills" account. For me and my household... We will serve the Lord. We will be one in marriage. We will make all of our financial decisions together in an open and honest way. We will give, spend and save while keeping in mind that we are called to be good stewards of all God gave us. Because really, it's not ours to begin with! Why hide it from our spouses when we are called to do just the opposite?

And by the way, if you work for the Today Show I'd like for you to know that was the last time I will watch your morning show so long as she is a guest on your program. I'm sure that some of your competitors have better experts on their show. I mean really, can't you do better then a never been married lady in a hoodie, with bedhead giving out serious marriage financial advise?

You can view the follow up post based on the comments below at this link.

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Two Cents Tuesday

Welcome to the first edition of Two Cents Tuesday!

Two Cents from the Mrs.
"One of the ways we have been able to stretch our clothing budget in the fall is by making baby legs for the girls to wear with their summer tee shirts and skirts. "

Now it's your turn!

You can link to posts that are related to living on a "Not the Jet Set" budget. This could be anything from ideas to save money around the house or garden, DIY home repair, using cash envelopes, to planning your low cost vacation. We do ask that you refrain from linking to posts about weekly store deals, contests, paid ads and the like.

I look forward to reading everyone's ideas on ways to live on a "Not the Jet Set" budget. Please take the time to view other blogger's posts as well as add our button or link back to this post.

Your Two Cents:

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French Memo Board Made Easy

Maybe it's just me, but I always thought that those cool looking French memo boards like they would be hard to make. Then I actually took the time to think about it and realized just how easy it would be to make!

This project cost me nothing but about 15 minutes of my time. First I located a piece of scrap 1x4 pine in the garage scrap bin, some leftover batting and fabric in the sewing room. Then I located a package of coordinating rick rack that I had bought at a garage sale a couple summers ago.

I stretched the batting and fabric across the board and stapled it in the back like I would do when I recover dining room chair seats. Next I laid out the rick-rack in a X pattern. After I had it laid out the way I wanted it I pinned it into place. then I turned it over and stapled it into the back as well.

I thought I was done until I realized that I forgot about hanging it! The Mr. managed to wrestle up a two saw tooth hangers for me and we were back in business.

This was a really easy and fun project to do. I would even be willing to do it with my kids help if it was not a present for them. ;-)

Remember to join us tomorrow for the first Two Cent Tuesday!

For more great ideas visit us on:
Works for me Wednesday
Tackle it Tuesday
Make do Monday

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Top Three Cookbooks

Sometimes it's hard to find recipes that taste good and are healthy. That's when I take the time to be creative in the kitchen. However, I'll admit that instead of re-inventing the wheel I prefer to use my favorite cookbooks and save the creative juices for the sewing room and our budget.

I found it hard to narrow it down since I do have several cookbooks I use on a somewhat regular basis, but here are my top three favorite cookbooks.

America's Best Bread Machine Recipes - By Donna Washburn
I tried several different bread machine recipe books. This is the only one I use now. We love all the recipes. When I made the homemade pizza this was the book that I used for the pizza dough recipe.

Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook (1950's version)- By Betty Crocker Editors

Every kitchen needs the cookbook. It's filled to the gills with all the great basics that every cook needs to know. If I forget how long to bake a potato or how to cook a type of meat I know that Betty has me covered!

Deceptively Delicious -By Jessica Seinfeld
I'm sure I'm not the only mom who struggles to get their kids to eat veggies. This wonderful cookbook has helped me expand my thinking on the many ways to sneak veggie in. She also has wonderful information about teaching your kids about food choices and nutritional information for the fruits and vegetables she uses.

These are my top three must have cookbooks. What are your top three?

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Two Cent Tuesdays- A New Series

Have you ever wanted to tell someone YOUR two cents?

Well I want to hear your two cents! That is why we are starting a new series here at Not the Jet Set. Every Tuesday we would like for you to share (via linky or comment) your two cents on living on a not the jet set budget. We will start the series this coming Tuesday, Oct. 13th.

You can link to posts that are related to living on a tight budget. This could be anything from ideas to save money around the house or garden, DIY home repair, using cash envelopes, to planning your low cost vacation. We do ask that you refrain from linking to posts about weekly store deals, contests, paid ads and the like.

Get your keyboards warmed up every body because we want to hear your two cents!

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Save Money - Raise Chickens!

I caught this post the other day over at the Suburban Dollar via Bad Money Advice. Now we've gotten lots and lots of questions about our chickens, but no one had really quizzed us about the economics of our hens. After reading the doubtful post over at the Suburban Dollar, I thought to myself, "How do we come out on this deal?"

There is this stereotype that anything 'green' or 'organic' can't be frugal. The assumption is that you can't possibly come out even on the deal, let alone save money. We've always tried to challenge that here at Not the Jet Set. So, with some rough math, we hammered out some numbers. And I have to say, I was surprised at just how far we come out ahead on this.

Now first, I'll state what is commonly forgotten - the assumptions:

  1. We made the decision long ago, that we would not compromise on milk and eggs - organic or all-natural for us. Locally, these run at least $3 per dozen.
  2. A lot of the hard numbers at the Suburban Dollar was based on the amount of feed each chicken consumes and the cost of it. Our hens not only eat purchased feed, but also certain scraps from the table (we make them eat it outside). So while they may consume 1/3 lb. of food per day, ours 1/3 lb is comprised of feed, scraps, and bugs, and grass.
  3. The working theory is that our breed of chickens produce 4-7 eggs per week. I say theory as all of them are not yet producing. In fact, 2 of the 4 are producing and seem to be producing 6-7 per week. We know that production will slow in the winter, so we tried to pick an average number that was fair.
Now the numbers.

For the most part I'm going to reference my comment over at SD. A comment that sadly got no response.

The set-up
We only have 4 hens as it is the most the township will allow. Yes, we live in town and our neighbors had no idea we had chickens until the saw me building the coop. Speaking of which, I was able to build our coop mostly out of scrap materials. Total cost was $110.

Counting our Chickens
The chickens them selves were purchased from a local feed store. Typically, when you buy the chicks, they are so young that they need to be kept in-doors for a month or so until they are mature enough to survive outside. These were already 'of age' and were ready to live outside. They were $2.50 each for a grand total of $10.

Feeding the Birds
Our hens eat a lot of mosquitoes and ticks, which is a nice side benefit, as they have free run of our fenced in back yard. We haven't found a tick on the dogs since we got the hens. As I previously mentioned, they also eat some table scraps - fruit, bread crusts, they LOVE oatmeal. We also feed the hens an organic feed (locally grown and milled, just not certified organic). It's $12 for a 50 lb sack. It lasts us about 2 months.

The Total Production
So lets do some math. Our four hens, when all are producing, will pop out about 18 eggs per week (conservative). Since we bought them young, lets say we get 3 years of production out of them. Over those 156 weeks, we'll get 2808 eggs, or 234 dozen. Times $3 per dozen, gives you $702 worth of eggs.

The Total Costs
We've got $110 in the coop. The chickens themselves cost $10 for the four of them. Feed over the 3 years should run $216. Putting the majority of our costs at $336.

So the math does actually work, at least the way we are doing it. In fact we're doubling our money. Our cost per dozen is $1.43 for organic, free-range eggs. Coming from chickens that eat a ton of bugs, produce great fuel for our compost, and are really quite fun to watch. Plus at that cost, we can easily sell what we can't use, and turn a profit.

But as I said at the start - we really hadn't looked at this as a way to save money. We were unhappy with the cost of organic eggs at the store. But really we were doing this more for the experience and connection with the food journey. We were hoping that we weren't going to end up paying through the nose for these eggs. Turns out to be quite the opposite.

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Fabric Name Banner Tutorial

One of the many things we created for our daughters' room was their own name banners that hang above their beds. This project was actually easier then I expected. Here is how I did it.

First I found the font I wanted to use on Word. I printed out the letters I needed in a 250 font size and cut them out.

Then I laid them out on the letter fabric and traced them.

Next I carefully cut out all of the letters.

For the triangles I chose a heavy home decor fabric that I had left over from another project. I made a template out of paper and traced it onto the fabric as well. The triangles were 6 inches wide and 8 inches long. I used pinking shears to cut them out.

I then laid the letters on the triangles to come up with the distance I needed from the top before I adhered them. Don't forget to leave room for your bias tape at the top as well.

Next I sprayed the backs of the letters with a temporary fabric adhesive spray and placed the letters onto the triangles.

I then sewed the letters onto the fabric using a tight zigzag stitch to give it a cleaner look as well as to make the letters stand out from the fabric.

Once the letters have all been sewn lay them all out in order with correct spacing between them. Stretch out your double fold bias tape to make sure that it is long enough for the name before you start to sew.

I found it easier to not pin the pieces to the bias tape but to add them as I sewed so that it didn't weigh down the tape. I started at one end and of the bias tape and sewed the full length of the tape.

And that's it! It didn't take long at all to sew and the girls love them. I'm hoping to find some time to make some that say "Happy Birthday" "Thanksgiving" "Happy Halloween" and "Merry Christmas".

What would you put on your banner?

For more great ideas join us on:
Get your Craft On
Make do Monday
Tackle it Tuesday

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Vacation or Bust: 2009

Since we moved to Michigan almost three years ago we have not had a family vacation. We have spent all of our free time and money on renovating our new home. Even though our home is not quiet done, we do have running water, a functioning heater, and a non-leaking roof over our heads. Those are huge accomplishments to have done. So huge that the Mr. and I are just plum worn out.

So with the rest of the country switching to staycations, we have decided that it's finally time to take a real vacation. In true not-the-jet-set style we have sat down and discussed our possible vacation sites and the budget needed for each. Since we really don't have any funds saved up so far are going to go low budget.

Here is the plan: Austin, Texas over Christmas break

Our thoughts are that if we go over Christmas break it will maximize the Mr.'s vacation time so that we can be gone for 10 days. Since we miss Texas (especially in the winter) it would be great to visit friends and our old stomping grounds. We could also stay with friends while we are there to save on money.

The budget breakdown:

Gas $300
Food $600
Outings $200
Lodging $200
= $1300

These number were not pulled out of thin air. I sat down and did the math to figure out how many miles we would drive and the cost per gallon. I knew we would want to eat at our favorite restaraunts and pay for our friends meals. We would want to visit a few places that will cost money and our oldest daughter wants new hot pink cowgirls boots w/ a matching hat. We will also have two nights on the road that will call for a hotel room.

How are we going to get the money? Good question! Our budget is tighter then tight for the next couple months so it's not coming out of there. We are going to try to come up with the funds by doing extra things to make extra money. Things like a garage sale, surveys, increase blog income, selling more extra veggies and homemade goodies. We might even try to come up with a few more creative ways to make some extra money.

If we don't save up enough money then we will not be able to go. It would be really sad if we can not swing it financially, but we don't deserve a vacation we can't pay for. It's not worth it.

We will keep you updated as we start making money to fund the trip (watch the side bar for the numbers). If you have any ideas or suggestions for creative income for the trip or ways to cut back on the budget feel free to share them!

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