It’s New Years Day and littered all over the internet are articles of ordinary people paying off $5000, $10,000,or $20,000 and becoming debt free and riding off happy into the sunset!
I hate those articles!
I don’t think they are practical. I’m happy for those people but I think the average person can’t follow their tips.
As I mentioned before I stretch our food budget by meal planning https://wordpress.com/post/81700486/8/ . I stock up on meats at low prices and leave in our freezer. I make sure our pantry is stocked. I shop clearance shelves first. I use shopping apps to earn rebates or discounts. ( I will do a different blog on that with specifics this week.)
What if you have cut everything you can? We are trapped in a Cable Contract that will cost us more to break, than just pay our bill for then next 3 months (We have already downgraded to the lowest package cost.) Once our contract is up, we are switching to Netflix. $8 a month for a variety of TV shows and movies via internet (even with the cost of upgraded internet we will be paying less than half of our current cable bill). My husband will miss Sports but someone just told me that you can hook a cable from your laptop to the TV and stream the games to the TV to watch. If that doesn’t work, I think my husband will just have to figure out other places to catch the games he wants to see. We already can’t watch the Dodgers on Cable unless we switch to a particular cable carrier.
We have an additional problem of only having one income while we wait for me to have a Disability Hearing next summer to see if the State of California, says I am disabled enough to earn my Disability Payments. It’s a lot of pressure on my husband to be the sole bread earner. When you are already stressed about making ends meet, it can be incredibly stressful. Money stress is the #1 cause of divorce in the United States.
Here are some tips, I think anyone can follow regardless of how much money you have coming in. They are not money savings tips as much as laying the foundation to start taking control of your debt and stretching your pennies.
-Write it down. I use Excel and list all of our bills as they come in the mail monthly. I have a tab for all 12 months. I always have my bills mailed because I note when I paid something or if I made a partial payment directly on the statement. It helps me see it and remember. (This MSfit’s memory isn’t that good) I also have a running total at the bottom of my sheet that tells me how much money we need that month. If we are short money, I highlight in Excel in blue on my sheet and as extra money comes in, I know I need to pay it as soon as I can.
-It is important to communicate with your spouse or family/kids (if they are old enough to be apart of the conversation) about your money budget. My husband gets paid twice a month so we discuss twice a month (minimum) where our money is going. If we know he is hitting a bonus that month, we decide together: Are we applying it towards a Credit Card to pay down our balance? Are we getting new tires? Do we need it to help cover our bills that month? These conversations are not always easy but it helps us in the long run and no one can say they didn’t know what is going on.
-I am not a saver. I admit it. It would make my life easier if I was. Knowing I am not, I opened an account with my Momma at her Credit Union. I didn’t get checks or a debit card. I have just been giving her cash and she makes the deposit. We have a savings goal. Once we hit it, we will start a new savings account for a Hawaiian Vacation using this system. We are not focused on Hawaii right now. As the hubs pointed out, “Those islands aren’t going anywhere.”
-Lastly celebrate the small wins. Paid all your bills on time this month? Make your favorite dinner. Made an extra payment on your credit card? Paint your nails that bright purple so every time you look down, you remember that you did it. Knock out one of your 5 credit cards? Rent a movie, eat some fancy popcorn and drink some cheap bubbly.I think it’s so important to have a “Here & Now” goal like setting up a savings account or paying off a credit card. But just as important is an “Once we are Done” goal like Saving for Hawaii. It makes all the little repetitive steps seem worth it.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a financial expert. I don’t know how to balance my check book. There have been times I have overdrawn my account. These are things I have had to learn and implement in my life and that have worked for me to slowly chip away at our debt.