Guest Post by Beth from Recipes and Deals
Do you ever sit down to pay bills and think, “Where did the money go?”
That used to be me every month. I was nervous to have anything automatically withdrawn from our checking account because I didn’t want to write a check and not have money to pay a bill, yet I felt like all I did was pay bills!
We had recently made the transition from two salaries to one and we found it to be a big challenge. Plus, we had two children 20 months apart. Both were in diapers for awhile and both have food allergies which necessitate the purchase of more expensive grocery items.
After several attempts at setting budget and falling behind we finally took advantage of our church’s class offer of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. We began a hard, long, and ongoing conversation about where our money was going and we’ve learned a number of things along the way. Here are just a few of the things which have made a big change in our finances:
1) Always use cash when possible. Making the change to pay with cash
as opposed to using a debit or credit card has made such a huge
difference for us. We use the Envelope System outlined here. When the
envelope is empty, it’s empty.
2) Look for extra ways to make money. I am a certified swimming instructor and now that our boys are older, I’ve been able to slowly begin teaching again part-time in the Summer. The extra money goes to our emergency fund or other extra expenses we have.
I sell our children’s clothing to a local consignment store and have made a few hundred dollars doing so. In addition, we have a garage sale once a year. Throughout the year, as we outgrow things or find we no longer need them, I price them and add them to our garage sale boxes in the basement. In the past 3 years, I’ve made over a thousand dollars selling old furniture, baby items, and clothes at our yearly garage sale.
3) Find an accountability partner. This is vital! My sister-in-law and I are of the same mindset. With children 4 months apart in age, we are in the same life stage, and have the same desires to be good stewards of our money and bodies. We talk several times a week, exchange recipes, coupons, and tips. Most importantly, we celebrate each other’s successes and encourage each other in the frustrating times.
Since October, we have been aggressively paying down school debt and have been committed to paying cash for all expenses. As of April 1, we will have approximately $7,000 less debt than we had in October! We have truly seen how often it’s the little things which make a big difference in the long run!
Beth is a stay-at-home mom and lives in a small town in the Midwest. You can see her weekly menus, recipes, and deals at her blog.