There's a new man in my life.  Sort of.  His name is Dave Ramsey and he became a part of our family several years ago after my husband and I decided we needed to make some huge changes to the way we manage our money.  At the time, my husband was self-employed.  We knew that his job was temporary and we literally lived week to week.  There was no opportunity to set long term goals because any extra money made during busy weeks was used to pick up the slack from slow weeks.  It was a vicious cycle that left us frustrated. Something had to change.  It was a lot of work, but we dug ourselves out of the grips of debt a little at a time.  We made huge sacrifices that gave us just enough extra to help us get ahead. 

Here are some of the changes we made:

*We didn't eat out. Period.  Not that we ate out much before, but that $40 Sunday afternoon lunch can go a long way toward paying off a car.  Add it up.  That's $160 a month just for Sunday lunch!  Say what?

*We sold everything extra.  Serious. We wanted to be out of debt bad. We went through the house and made a list of everything we could possibly live without and that we could easily replace with cash later.  I posted on Craigslist and all the money we earned went toward paying off our car. 

*We got rid of Dish Network. Boy was this one painful.  We’re not big tv watchers, but I enjoyed the time after the kids go to bed when I can veg in front of the Food Network for an hour or so.  I have to be honest with you, if the Dallas Cowboys had been having a decent season, I would have taken on a part-time job to keep the Dish up and running. But, a girl has to make sacrifices.

*We got rid of our landline and went to cell phones only.  Big money saver!

*I put Dave Ramsey quotes and Scriptures all over my house.  My bathroom mirror says “Life’s too short to be normal.” This is a good one to ponder when I’m staring at my own reflection. The quote on the inside of my fridge reads “Contentment may be the single most important financial principle.”  A great reminder when I’m craving Starbucks. 

*I revamped our breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. I know I touched on this last week, but I think it's super important to running a house efficiently.  And, so much money can be wasted during grocery shopping trips!  Every Saturday I print menus for all 3 meals and make a shopping list.  Never, ever shop without a list!  I’ve learned this the hard way.  Set aside a good hour to dig through cookbooks, make menus and shopping lists, and hunt for coupons. Get the kids involved.  Mine love to go through cookbooks and point out recipes that they’d like to try.

I discovered Once A Month Cooking and found that it can save a ton of money.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with OAM cooking, the idea is to prepare a whole month’s worth of dinners in one day and put them all in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.  Not only is it a huge money saver, but it can save a lot of time.  I have yet to prepare an entire month’s worth of dinner, but have been trying some of the recipes in my OAMC book.  There are also plenty of websites that offer freezer meal recipes.  Try a few here and there until you develop a good stock of favorites to add to your OAM menu.  I love perusing websites, but there's something about having a book on hand that I can make notes in and mark up.                                                                                                                                                 Here is a great recipe to get you started.  Enjoy!


Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                1 pound ground beef 

1 clove garlic

black pepper to taste 

1 large onion, thinly sliced                                                           

1 large green pepper, thinly sliced

1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms (optional) 

2 tablespoons flour

1 can condensed French Onion soup (or beef broth)

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cups shredded provolone or mozzarella (or a combination)

                                                 Preparation:                                                                                                                              1.  Brown ground beef and garlic in a pan.  Try not to break up the beef too much, you want to have larger pieces.  Drain.   

 2.  Place beef, onions, pepper, and mushrooms into a slow cooker.  Toss with flour and pepper to taste.

3.  Pour soup and Worcestershire sauce over top of mixture and cook on low 4 to 5 hours.                    

4. Remove lid.  Sprinkle with cheese and replace lid for a few minutes until it melts.  Serve on rolls or toss with pasta.  Enjoy!

Tiffany Aaron of Quitman writes her "Secret Life of a Betty Crocker Wannabe" column each Wednesday.  Aaron is a recent finalist in the national Pillsbury Bake-Off competition and can be reached at