Author Archive: NCN

A Simple DIY Way To Make Mulch

Like many folks, we have shrubbery beds surrounding our home.  Today, I had a few extra hours after work, so I grabbed my favorite pruning shears and began the process of pruning our shrubs.

We have five major shrubbery beds – one for each side of the house and one that encircles a stand of oaks.  Over the years, I’ve used various material for mulching the beds – pines straw, fallen leaves, and bagged cypress mulch.

Over time, whatever mulch is used will compact, disintegrate, and discolor.  So, instead of going out an purchasing some sort of mulch (or raking the neighbor’s yard for pine straw) – I decided to try something a little different.

shredded-wood-407024_1280

I pruned all of the shrubs in one particular bed – and placed the cut-offs on the ground, just outside the bed.  I then removed the brick barrier from the edge of the bed – and raked all of the old mulch (a combination of the three mentioned above) out into the yard.  I mixed the pile of old mulch and the cut-offs from the shrubbery – and started up the old lawn mower.

I raised the blade of the mower and slowly began to chop through the 3 to 5 inch pile of cut-offs and old mulch, chopping the pile into hundreds of little pieces.  I ran the mower through the pile, reversing direction, 10 or 12 times, until all of the leaves, stems, pieces of pines straw, and chunks of cypress were chopped into little bits.

I then used my blower and my rake to transfer the little bits back in to the shrubbery bed – and was able to create a nice, even, good looking mulch for the bed.  The homemade mulch looks great – and should actually breakdown, like compost, while it does its jobs of holding in water and protecting plant roots.

I may show a few pictures, once I’ve completed all of the beds. I think I’ve found a good way to reuse the cut-offs from my shrubbery to make some high quality mulch – for free!

Side note:  I’m also experimenting with using plain old cardboard as a weed-barrier.

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Paying Off Our Mortgage – Update With Chart May 2015

Whew!  We have had a busy few months – but I’m back with an update on our progress to payoff our mortgage.  For those new to the site –

We have a fixed, conventional, fifteen-year mortgage. Our goal is to pay it off in less than 10 years. Our progress for the first five years was decent – and we managed to reduce the length of our mortgage by 7 months!

I use a simple pie-chart to track our progress – and post our updates here at No Credit Needed.

Having a visualization keeps us motivated!

Here’s a chart with details for our current progress –

may2015

The percentages above represent the amount of our mortgage we have paid – 30.74% – and the amount we still owe – 69.26%.

Each month, we make our scheduled mortgage payment, plus an additional principal-only payment.

Some months, we make more than one principal-only payment!

This chart doesn’t represent our entire equity – It represents that amount we still owe on our mortgage.

We have reduced the length of our 15-year mortgage by 8 months!

I have a plan in place to payoff the rest of our mortgage in 60 months – that’s 5 years. It will take a bit of sacrifice and determination, but that’s our stretch-goal.

Check back often to see how we are doing! Blessings.

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Paying Off Our Mortgage – Update With Chart March 2015

It’s time for an update on our progress to payoff our mortgage – early.  Our progress chart is below, but first, a few words about our mortgage.

We have a fixed, conventional, fifteen-year mortgage.  Our goal is to pay it off in less than 10 years.  Our progress for the first five years was decent – and we managed to reduce the length of our mortgage by 7 months!  However, that’s much slower than we initially planned.  So, over the past few months, we have stepped up our game – and we are aiming to payoff the entire remaining amount over the next five years.

I use a simple pie-chart to track our progress. Having a visualization keeps us motivated and excited about the progress we are making.

Here’s a chart with details for our current progress –

chm15

The percentages above represent the amount of our mortgage we have paid – 29.66% – and the amount we still owe – 70.34%.

Click here to check out our method for reducing our debt and paying off our mortgage.

Each month, we make our scheduled mortgage payment, plus an additional principal-only payment. (Some months, we make more than one principal-only payment.)

Keep in mind, this chart doesn’t represent our equity – it represents that amount we owe on our mortgage.

Here’s more on how we found the perfect house for our family and decided how much to pay for our new home.

We have reduced the length of our 15-year mortgage by 7 months. Each month, the amount of money going towards principal increases, and the amount for interest decreases.

I have a plan in place to payoff the rest of our mortgage in 60 months – that’s 5 years.  It will take a bit of sacrifice and determination, but that’s out goal.  Check back often to see how we are doing!  Blessings.

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DIY Projects – Fixing Stuff Around The House

Over the past several weeks, I’ve spent my evenings and weekends working on various projects around the house:

I replaced our dishwasher.  Our house is ten years old.  We have lived in it for five of those years.  Several months ago, our dishwasher stopped working properly.  I repaired it twice – changing out its pump and replacing the drain hose – but two weeks ago – it just died.  So, we purchased a newer, more energy efficient dishwasher.  We love the new one!  It’s much quieter and does a MUCH better job of washing the dishes.  This was a bit of a budget hit – thank goodness for the emergency fund!

While we are on the subject of appliances – I removed and replaced the heating element in our clothes dryer.  Over the past few years, we have had trouble with our dryer.  I’ve replaced the dryer belt – twice – and the pulley.  Last week, it stopped getting warm – and when I opened it up – the heating element was broken.  The heater duct assembly for the dryer was relatively inexpensive and the actual repair only took a few minutes.  Hopefully, the new element – and the dryer – will last for years.

tool-384740_1280I built a ramp for the kids’ playhouse.  Our kids are getting older – and rarely use the playhouse as a “play” house.  Instead, we use it as a place to store their bikes and other toys.  Adding the ramp makes it easier to get the stuff in and out of the playhouse.  For about $30, the ramp was more than worth it.

I changed out the locks and doorknobs for our exterior doors.  It was time.  The deadbolts were difficult to activate – even after lubrication – and the handles were scuffed.  Changing out the locks was a relatively simple process – but I DID have some trouble removing the old deadbolts.  They required a small hex wrench – in a size that I just didn’t have.  After a quick internet video search, I managed to find a way to remove the locks, without the hex wrench.

I pressure-washed the siding on our house.  Two sides of our house are in the shade, even during winter.  If I don’t routinely spray down the siding, mildew (mold?) will form on the vinyl siding.  So, when the first semi-warm day hit last week, I jumped at the chance to pressure-wash.  Once I have all of the necessary pressure-washing stuff dragged out – pressure washer, hose, pump sprayer, bleach, long-handled brush, safety glasses, etc. – I actually enjoy pressure washing.  While I was at it, I cleaned out the garage and pressure washed its walls and concrete.

By doing these projects myself, I hope I saved some money, and I know I’ve felt a sense of accomplishment.  As we move into spring, I’ll turn my focus to our lawn, our small garden, and other outside projects.  Blessings!

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