Wouldn’t life be so much easier if there wasn’t money? We are always saying, “I wish I could find a money tree!” or “Just waiting to win the lottery/get that million dollar check in the mail”. The reality is, that wouldn’t actually solve our problems. Sure it would help get you out of debt, but it’s all how you manage your money.
We really had a rude awakening when Ryan lost his job. We had enough in savings, thank goodness, but after six months of looking for a job and only having six months worth of savings, we are back to square one and pinching pennies. Starting over is hard, but it’s also a great way for us to reevaluate our spending and really budget our money more wisely.
I’ve been reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover which I highly recommend. He mentions in his book that hardly anything in there is new advice, that almost everything has been said countless times before, but the difference is you. Having self control and taking action. If you’re read his book then you’ll understand when I tell you that we looked in the mirror and didn’t see our fat selves. We saw two people who were doing well, “budgeting”, and thought, “Eh, we are fine!”. How wrong we were to live in that denial. We were fat. We weren’t willing to making the necessary sacrifices to make a financial change in our lives.
That’s all changed now. We got the slap in the face we needed to get our butts in gear and be more financially prepared. We have passed Baby Step One of our emergency fund and paid off almost all of our debt (excluding one student loan and our house). I am counting down the days until we will be working on our six months emergency fund. My biggest advice to you is not to wait to be slapped in the face, but take action now!
Money is terrifying. We want and want, but what do we need? We need food, water, and shelter. So, for a few months/ one year only provide those things; food, water, and shelter. Some people go so far as selling a car, down sizing their home, etc. You don’t NEED fancy things. It’s all about the sacrifices you’re willing to make to make the difference you want to see.
Here are some of the remedies we have done/going to do to help make a financial difference in our lives:
- Evaluate your finances
- How much do you bring home (as a combined household) a month?
- What are all of your expenses? Add up all of your bills/spending for a month
- Subtract your spending from your income
- Where can you subtract/lessen some of your spending?
- Cancel cable
- Budget less for groceries
- Stop going out to fast food/dinner/drinks
- Stop shopping entirely (clothes, games, etc.) unless 100% necessary
- Can you take on more hours at work? (Overtime)
- Can you take on a second job/side job?
- Get rid of your credit cards!
These are all things that you can do that will make a huge impact on your finances in a positive way, but it’s up to us to actually do it. Many of us (my husband and I included) know we need to do those things, but are too lazy to do them. We know that if we are too lazy to do them, then no difference will be made. Much like getting into shape and losing weight. We know it’s good for our health and we should, but eh, the work that goes along with it can make it hard to start.
Another thing you can do is to use the envelope system. This is hard for us because we are credit card people. We put everything on our credit card and pay it off every month, so we get the airplane miles. It isn’t worth it though. It’s not tangible money, it’s money you think you have, but you don’t. When you have those green bills in front of you and watch them disappear, it normally makes people hold on to it a little tighter.
So, we are no longer using our credit cards for anything! At the beginning of the month we take out the amount we have budgeted for food/gas, misc. items and I divide it up between the weeks. We take one trip to Costco to get all of our meat/fish to freeze for the month and then we use the remaining money to get fresh fruits and veggies each week. So far, it’s working out great!
Once you’ve taken a look at your budget and know your spending, a good way to keep up with it is Mint. It’s an online budgeting system that lets you adjust your budget for nearly everything you ever spend money on an lets you know when you’re near, at, or over budget. Plus it’s FREE (yay)!
Let’s recap here. Ways that you can start/continue to make a positive financial difference in your life is to:
- Watch your Budget (you can use Mint for this)
- Decrease your spending and find ways to increase your income
- Stop using credit cards & start using cash
- Save that money and pay that debt!
Good luck to you in your financial journey! We are right there with ya!