Guest post from Tiffany of Don’t Waste the Crumbs
There is a lot to do when you first get married: decide where to live, determine who has the better sofa, create a budget… wait, a budget??
Creating a budget was not high on our priority list when my husband and I first got married. And to be honest, we had no clue how to (or a desire to) create one.
We spent our first year of marriage in “bliss,” buying whatever we wanted without a second thought. We each had two new cars, bought a new house (with a mortgage) and put all the “necessities” for a new home on credit cards.
When I became pregnant, we decided that I would stay at home and reality hit — hard. We had to figure out how to live on half our income, while adding a baby (and their own related expenses) to the mix.
How were we going to make it work? After sitting down together to discuss our expenses, we created a budget and a new budget-oriented motto:
If it doesn’t come in, it can’t go out.
We immediately started trimming our expenses every corner we could:
- We cut our dining budget to $80. Monthly Savings = $520
- We traded in our large sedan for an efficient commuter car. Monthly Savings = $280
- We “fixed” the gas budget to allow one tank of gas for the family car and the bare minimum for my husband’s commute. Monthly Savings = $100
- We cut our monthly grocery budget to $400. Monthly Savings = $200
- We combined our cell phone service and reduced our plan to the minimum available. Monthly Savings = $90
- We traded in our SUV for an efficient family sedan. Monthly Savings = $100
- We traded in our local cable package for basic satellite service. Monthly Savings = $50
- We reduced our internet speed to the slowest available. Monthly Savings = $40
- We traded in our “standard issue” trash and recycle bins for largest recycle (free) and smallest trash bin. Monthly Savings = $20
These changes allowed us to live on one income!
While our needs were being met each month, we weren’t able to save or put more than the minimum payment on our credit cards. Shortly after our son was born, I started a business online designing wooden letters for baby nurseries. I didn’t make much money, but it was enough to double our credit card payments each month, putting us one step closer to paying them off.
For months we continued to work on our budget, cutting what wasn’t absolutely necessary and saving every penny we could. I started clipping coupons, played the drug store game, followed frugal blogs such as MoneySavingMom.com, and continued to create and sell wooden letters.
We sold our house and moved across the country in order for my husband to take a job that allowed for greater growth and advancement. Over 20 months, we slowly made progress towards paying off our debt – first a small credit card balance, then my husband’s commuter car. It was hard to be motivated at times, but as Crystal says, slow progress is still progress.
Sweet victory came one month before our second child was born: we paid off the family car and became officially 100% debt free. The icing on the cake? We had enough cash saved to cover six months’ of living expenses!
Creating a budget early in our marriage completely changed our lives, how we view money, and in turn, how we live.
My first child is now 4 1/2 years old and despite job promotions and increased income, we never stopped our “bare minimum” budget. In fact, we’ve cut it even more in some places as we’ve learned to better utilize our resources.
Being debt free has given us true bliss — it’s allowed us to live within our means, be intentional with our spending, and give to others in need.
Tiffany is a full-time mom who teaches part-time and blogs at Don’t Waste the Crumbs, sharing ideas on kids, food, frugality and making the most out of the small pieces of life.