We Paid Cash: A New Baby and HVAC System

We paid cash!A testimony from Kara

Almost a year ago, we found out I was pregnant AND that we needed a brand new HVAC system within a week’s time. The dollar signs and a small amount of panic crept into my mind.

My husband and I are very frugal and have been good with our money, but we hadn’t quite finished paying off my student loans. This meant that we needed to buckle down. We hate having debt (who doesn’t), and having student loans and a mortgage was more than enough.

Here’s how we managed to pay for our HVAC system and save for the new baby without incurring any more debt:

  • We we took the $1,000 we kept in our emergency fund and put it toward the HVAC system.
  • We asked the HVAC company about discounts — apparently joining their membership program saved us 10% (which is a lot when you are spending a lot) and the membership ended up being free because of my husband’s profession!
  • We looked for ways to cut costs. We started making our own peanut butter and bread, which also has the perk of being healthier. We also chose to cloth diaper so that the expense of diapers would be a one-time thing.
  • I sold stuff. I joined all of the Facebook garage sale groups in my area and I made some money.
  • We used Swagbucks. I worked hard to earn as many Swagbucks as I could and used those toward Amazon gift cards which are the best bang for their buck to buy baby stuff.
  • We lived on one income. While we usually like to use both of our incomes, we decided to put my total income towards savings instead of towards fun things. I work part-time, so it wasn’t a ton, but it was something.

When our sweet little girl came over a month early we were so glad we did this! The doctors have no idea why she came so early with a healthy pregnancy, but we were so glad God had prepared us.

We were able to pay for her NICU bill and use the extra we had saved to pay off our HVAC system in full! That was just over $5,000 we were able to pay in cash in 7 months of saving.

Plus, during that time of savings, we were able to pay our taxes, continue to pay our mortgage, and double our payment toward school loans.

Bringing home a healthy baby girl without the worry of paying her bills was absolutely priceless.

Earhart

Kara is a full-time wife and mother to one, and a part-time instructor of psychology at a community college. In their free time, Kara’s family enjoys going on walks, reading, playing with their dog, and traveling.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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We Paid Cash: A New-to-us Minivan

We paid cash!A testimony from Kelly

Our family is expecting our third child this Fall. With that exciting addition, we have also come to need a larger vehicle. I’ve had my previous car since college (almost ten years) and it was time for the minivan.

My husband, Jesse, was able to work a side contract job on top of his full-time job for several months this year. Because of this, we were able to save much of the money he earned “on the side” to put toward our minivan savings goal.

Once we were ready to buy, we scanned Craigslist almost daily, looking for a good deal on a new-to-us  minivan.

We were thrilled when we found one within our budget that had lower mileage, plenty of room, was clean, with only one previous owner! It was very strange walking out of the bank with a whole envelope of cash, but it felt wonderful to pay cash for our new-to-us minivan!

minivan1

Kelly is a wife and stay at home mom to two busy children, a four-year old girl and two-year old boy, with another baby boy on the way. Her blog, Fru-Gal.org, is focused on frugal living for the grace of giving. As a missionary/pastor’s wife, she strives to live a frugal lifestyle so that her family is able to pay the bills, but also so that they can live in greater generosity toward people in need.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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We Paid Cash: Our Escrow Shortage

We paid cash!

A testimony from Jill

About a month ago, my husband and I received a letter in the mail that the escrow balance on our rental home was short by $1351. After doing some research, we found that we had been paying taxes only on the land the home was built on and not on the home itself.

We had two months to come up with the money — and we were worried since we just completed an out-of-state move and I recently became a stay-at-home mom.

I started going through our home looking for anything I was willing to sell. I sold purses I no longer used, business supplies and products from a direct sales company I was no longer part of, a coffee table we had no room for, kitchen items I no longer used, a bridesmaid dress from a wedding I was in, and many other items.

After only 1 month, I had enough to pay the bill!

Here is the breakdown of how we saved up enough to pay this bill:

Put items in a garage sale at my parents’ house — $186

Listed items on local Facebook yard sale pages — $762

Carefully reviewed the escrow bill and called the mortgage company. We found that our homeowner’s insurance had been paid twice, and we received a check back from the insurance company for $562.

Not only did we have enough to cover the expenses, but there was money left over!

I am still listing items on the yard sale sites because I have learned that I truly do not need so many of the items I have in my home, and less is more!

Jill is a wife and a stay-at-home mom to her 8-month-old daughter. She loves finding deals, bargain shopping, and working hard to become debt free.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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We Paid Cash: $3700 in Medical Bills

We paid cash!

A testimony from Shawna who blogs at Not The Former Things

It’s not something you want to hear, but I expected it. When the pediatrician said I needed to take my son in for an evaluation for autism, I wasn’t surprised (I had done my research and had seen the signs and symptoms for years).

Then, to make matters worse, she said, “Your insurance will not cover the evaluation and they can be very expensive.”

After calling her top three referrals, I knew exactly how expensive: $1,700, payable in full and cash only. By God’s grace, I was able to make the appointment, knowing we had the money in savings.

Less than six months later, my youngest son was also referred to a neuro-psychologist for a dyslexia/neurological processing evaluation. We were also able to pay cash (a total of $2,000 this time) when our insurance didn’t cover the cost.

So, how did we do it?

1. We Dipped Into Our Emergency Fund

We paid for both, a total of $3,700, from our emergency fund. Because my husband is self-employed, we keep our emergency fund at $5,000. This helps us with fluctuations in his business and ultimately, is back-up in case he is not able to work.

It was tempting to just pay the doctors with credit card advances to preserve our savings, but we knew that God wouldn’t give us these boys with their unique needs, without providing a way to take care of them.

2. We Cut Back Our Budget (way back!)

In the months between and following the two evaluations, we worked twice as hard to build back up our savings to the $5,000 mark. I will admit, it was so frustrating to finally get close, and then have another expensive evaluation required.

We had to cut back on everything – the boys and I stopped eating out and my husband only did so as work required, my husband sold his car to fund our Christmas and increase our savings, we cut the grocery budget by 30%, and we didn’t take an anniversary trip we had planned.

3. We Encouraged Each Other To Focus On What Was Important

The thing about having your son diagnosed with high functioning autism and then your other son diagnosed with a learning disability/processing disorder is that it really puts things in perspective.

When one of us would get frustrated with our financial situation, we would remind each other how grateful we are to finally know what is going on with our boys, and how much help we are receiving as a direct result of those costly evaluations. This made the desire for a new couch, or even extras at the grocery store seem silly in comparison.

It may not have been easy, but truthfully, we would have paid more for the peace and direction these evaluations have given us. We now know how to help our boys and what resources are available to our family.

The reality is that we continue to dip into our emergency fund again and again for various, not covered by insurance, therapies for the boys. The good news is that we are getting more practiced at how to live in the flux, and accept this as part of our financial life.

I am so thankful that we committed to create and maintain that fund. Staying out of debt and funding that account literally changed our family’s life.

Big Mick and I

Shawna loves Jesus, her husband and her two, uniquely challenged little boys. She finds herself daily, required to live beyond the limits of herself and serve a wonderfully complex family…and she is crazy rebellious in this most of the time. She blogs about the messy and the beautiful at Not The Former Things.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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We Paid Cash: A New HVAC System

We paid cash!

A testimony from an anonymous reader

We’ve known for several years now that our HVAC system was dying. As a family, we were all uncomfortable and the unit often reminded us of its impending “death” with loud rattling that shook walls.

Knowing that we had waited and patched the units as long as we could, we began to get quotes for a new system. When the time came to receive our first quote I almost fell out of my chair when they handed me the paperwork showing a total cost of $12,000 to replace both our units and repair the duct work.

This company did however offer financing, and it looked like we might have to utilize the “financing option” to purchase the new HVAC system.

After a few more quotes and some discussions with the companies I started asking if we could get a discount if we paid in cash. To my shock, we were quickly offered discounts from 5-8% if we paid in cash! On a $12,000 bill that is not an insignificant amount of money.

With this new knowledge in hand, we put our nose to the ground and decided to save, save, save! We had less than one year to save before we would face another blistering summer in Georgia.

Here is what we did:

  • We held a family meeting
  • We examined our budget
  • We cut expenses on “non-essential” items
  • We planned to put our entire tax return to the new system

Our children are old enough to understand our budget and the need to replace the HVAC unit (they were hot!) After the family meeting, everyone was on the same page and we were all on board to save up for a more comfortable summer next year.

Already having a tight budget, at first we thought we would never be able to save enough, but soon, small decisions started adding up. Every time we saved any amount from a monthly bill, we diverted those funds directly into savings.

Because our budget was already tight we called our service providers for cell phones and internet and negotiated lower rates. The difference went straight to savings every month, we decreased the “food” budget which meant less eating out and we had very simple holidays. Soon we were on track to make our goal!

This weekend, we will have our new system installed and we will be paying CASH!

Our new HVAC system will cost us $8,000 — by paying cash and having the work completed before summer we were able to negotiate the best price, saving us $4,000. What a great feeling we have as a family to know that we all worked together to achieve our goal and we all be cooler this summer!

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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We Paid Cash: A Vacation for Our Family of 7!

We paid cash!

A testimony from Colleen

A little over a year ago, we decided to pay cash for our vacation. I was especially excited since it was going to be the first time I had taken my mom on vacation… without her spending a dime.

I began setting aside whatever leftover money we had in our checking account. Thinking that I was already close to our goal, I asked my husband to guesstimate how much we would need to cover the cost for our family of 7. His total was $2800 — without doing anything fun!

Unfortunately, I hadn’t even come close to saving enough and it was May!

Then, I got creative…

Lodging

After endlessly searching for somewhere to stay, I was discouraged. Everything was just too expensive! However, my husband was pastoring a church at the time, and I remembered that many places offer a clergy discount.

I looked again and found a whole house in PA! It was a B&B at $580 for 5 days! Check the memberships you currently have: belonging to organizations like USAA, AAA, and Knights of Columbus can have an add bonus in travel savings!

Meals

Eating out was normally one of our biggest vacation expenses. To help with these costs, I cashed in some rewards I’d earned and got gift cards for restaurants in the area.

We also tried to max out the value of each card by eating a big, later lunch getting the same items we would at dinner for half the cost… AND, several weeks before the trip, I signed up for restaurant loyalty programs that gave coupons for free items which extended our savings.

Gas

To save on fuel, we mapped out our route and got gas cards to stations on the way. It didn’t cover all our fuel costs, but it certainly helped!

Entertainment

I ordered a guide for my family members to choose things they were interested in, and then found deals for them. Then, at rest stations, we gathered free guides with coupons for other discounted activities.

I also did some internet research for free or discounted events in the area. I discovered that it was National Ice Cream Day (free ice cream), Dress like a Cow Day at Chick-fil-A (free meals), and 7/11 Slurpee Day that week!

Just like our B&B, meals, and fuel, I looked for ways to extend my buying power. I used Daily Deal sites to buy deals that included Food and Entertainment. We also weren’t afraid to ask for discounts.

We discovered that on taping days, certain seats are discounted at Sight & Sound. We were able to take in a circus, visit a petting zoo, see a Broadway-quality show, watch trains — big and small — plus so much more!

Our grand total was $1600 dollars for a fun-filled, 5-day vacation for our family of 7!

It took some planning and a little ingenuity, but we definitely made a memorable, family vacation on the cheap!

Colleen  is a homeschooling mother of 5, former pastor’s wife, and avid couponer. She enjoys reading, writing, and baking gluten-free goodies.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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