We Paid Cash: A Homeschooling Room

We paid cash!

A testimony from Mandy from MissMaesDays.com

The day had come when I had had it with storing all of our school supplies, projects, lesson plans, and books in our kitchen drawers and cupboards. For years, I was using the kitchen island and drawers for homeschooling our kiddos and it just was not working.

I had an “a-ha moment” when I looked at our hardly-used formal living room…it was the perfect space for a classroom!  When I saw it in my mind I knew it could be done.

But we didn’t have the extra cash to transform an entire room in our house into a school room. How in the world could I afford the furniture and supplies to make the conversion?!

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! Sell the formal living room furniture — the couches, tables, lamps, and decor. Then, USE that money to purchase the items I need for our school room!

Voilà! A school room paid in full, without using credit cards.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I listed my formal, living room furniture on Craigslist.
  2. I sold smaller items on eBay.
  3. I purged my entire home of unused, unwanted items, readying them for a garage sale. (Any items that didn’t sell on Craigslist and eBay were sold in the garage sale.)
  4. I planned and orchestrated a successful garage sale.

After my efforts to create some extra cash, I found that I had over $1,000 cash IN HAND. So, I set out to get some deals!

How did I do it?

  1. I shopped garage sales for furniture pieces.
  2. I shopped discount stores for decor, teaching supplies, classroom supplies, manipulatives, and games.
  3. I researched curriculum to invest in. I found coupons and deals to purchase curriculum.
  4. I scoured the internet for deals on things that you simply can’t find locally.
  5. I sought the internet for my “dream, can’t live without” pieces. (Mine was a double-sided whiteboard easel on wheels!)
  6. I shopped for discounted paints/supplies at my local hardware store for decorating my school room space.

Once all of my hard work had paid off, I sat back and prepared to design our homeschool room knowing that we paid CASH for it!  It was the greatest feeling in the world. (Here’s a look at our finished room).

Full Shot of Kidspace #2

MissMaesDays.com is the creation of Mandy Mae; wife, mother, teacher, and frugal-DIY-enthusiast. Hoping to inspire mothers to take action in making a positive influence in the lives of their children with simple, DIY, crafting, thrifting, and teaching projects, Mandy Mae enjoys sharing both her successes and hiccups with easy-to-follow tips & tutorials.

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 Debt-Free Summer

We paid cash!A testimony from Sarah

Each summer, our family’s income drops dramatically. My husband is a graduate student, and his funding stops during the summer months. While I am still earning money, it is simply not enough to pay all of our bills and living expenses.

In the past, we have used credit cards to help us through the summer. This year, however, we have committed to paying off our debt, and we refuse to add any more to our credit card bill.

Back in October, we sat down together and examined our finances. We decided that we would need $700 for each summer month (June, July, and August) to be able to pay all bills and live comfortably. That is $2100! That number seemed almost unreachable at the time, but we committed to trying.

Imagine our excitement when we had saved that much by the end of March!

Here’s how we did it:

We Saved All “Bonus” Money

We decided to view any “bonus” money as money earmarked for our summer fund. This included:

  • $500 end-of-the-year bonus from my employer for having an advanced degree
  • $200 gift at Christmas from family
  • $500 from our tax refund

It was tempting to view this money as fun spending money. However, since we were committed to our financial goal, we immediately put it in our summer account.

I Picked Up Extra Work

I am a full-time teacher, and my school asks for staff to tutor in the afterschool program. This program pays $25 an hour, so I decided to work two hours a week.

From this relatively small time commitment, I ended up earning $700!

There were many days when I was exhausted by the end of the school day, but I knew our goal of a debt-free summer was worth the effort.

We Saved Money Leftover from our Budget

Our family has a written weekly budget that we keep a close eye on. We have decided how much we will spend each week on groceries, household items, gas, fun, etc.

We actually have a chart on our refrigerator where we record everything that we spend in those categories each day. Therefore, it is easy to know if we are over or under our budget at the end of the week.

My husband and I decided to take any money leftover from our budget and transfer it to our summer fund. For example, we budget $70 per week on groceries for our family of five. If I spent $65 one week, we moved $5 into our summer account.

I wasn’t sure if it was worth it to save a few dollars here and there, but I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I listened to my husband, because we saved $200 this way!

It was an amazing feeling when we realized that we had reached our goal. We are looking forward to our stress-free, debt-free summer. We’ll be able to enjoy it much more knowing that we will not be paying for it for years to come.


Sarah is an Orthodox Christian, wife, mother of three small children, full-time teacher, and writer. She blogs about faith, family, and frugal living over at The Orthodox Mama.

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: Training for My Coaching Career

We paid cash!A testimony from Sue who blogs at SueSundstrom.com

About 2 years ago, while I was working full time, my husband and I decided to put aside a regular portion of my salary toward a savings fund. Although it was tempting to spend the money, we knew it was a responsible and right thing to do to make sure we had a good sized ‘emergency fund’ in place.

So a few months into 2013, we set aside £1,000 (about $1,560) every month into this savings fund. By the end of the year, we’d done it! We had £10,000 in the fund.

In 2014, after finishing my work contract, I found myself thinking about something I’d wanted to do for years – to become a coach, as I have a passion for helping people. I found a very comprehensive course, which involved a fairly large investment of both money and time, but would enable me to become a qualified transformational coach.

If it weren’t for the savings that we had built up, I would not have been able to take that course, and probably wouldn’t be a coach today!

We paid cash for the course and I started it in August 2014, completing it end of January this year.

We achieved our goal by doing a number of things:

– We set a specific goal to have £10,000 (about $15,600) in our emergency fund by the end of the year, and tracking our progress kept me motivated.

– We set up a direct debit so transferred the money straight into a separate savings account as soon as my salary had been paid. This was crucial – if the money was left in our current account, we would have found something to spend it on!

– I did weekly meal planning and bought only the groceries we needed for that week. It reduced the habit of buying things just because they caught my attention – that would result in spending more than I intended. I would buy only the items on the grocery list created for the week’s meals. Also I often ordered groceries online, and this reduced impulse buying.

– During that year I read very few magazines, kept no catalogues in my home and barely ever went window shopping. Magazines have many adverts and images in them that cause us to ‘aspire’ to get more. Same with catalogues. Window shopping makes you aware of all the items on offer and makes you want things you don’t need! I am a person who gets drawn by ‘shiny’, new things, so curbing those distractions by not feeding myself with them via magazines and catalogues really helped me stay on track.

– I read blogs and books on personal finance which inspired me to keep saving rather than spending. Goals help me to keep going when the initial excitement of something wears off and the going gets tough.

It felt so good at the end of that year to know that we’d achieved our goal!

Sue Sundstrom is a coach for women who want more out of life. She is on a mission to help women achieve their goals and live a life of significance, all whilst enjoying a sense of adventure and fun! She can be found blogging on parenting, family fun, productivity and goal setting at SueSundstrom.com.

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 Delivery and One Week in the Hospital

We paid cash!A testimony from Reelika

Having a baby is always a miracle and a real blessing for entire family. But with all this excitement, huge lists of medical and delivery expenses come, as well.

I was in a hospital already three days before my son was born. I always knew I wanted to have a private family room and not to share the room with three other women and their babies — yes, this is how it is here in Northern Europe. The shared room is covered by health insurance, but the private one is not.

I never knew I’d have to stay in a hospital that long. But due to an emergency c-section it totaled up to a week and the cost of a room was calculated based on the number of days I stayed there.

The total cost of staying one week in a delivery room was almost my full monthly salary. But I paid it fully in cash!

Here is how I did it:

  • I set my mindset earlier that a new life should not start with a debt.
  • I did my homework and found out the potential expenses of a delivery room. I estimated the stay in a hospital up to five days.
  • Once I found out about my pregnancy, I created myself a weekly savings plan for the delivery room.
  • I learned to say “no” to many invitations that would have cost me too much money.
  • I prioritized and focused on things that matter the most.
  • I opened another savings account specifically for the baby and delivery costs. I had a portion of my money automatically transferred from the checking account to the savings each time I got paid.
  • I took advantage of reading many educational books about finances and business as I also majored in.
  • I made some extra income with freelance consulting.
  • I decided to increase my emergency fund. I also went through my closets and sold any clothes I didn’t need anymore.
  • I got used to the new lifestyle of living below my means.

Although I had saved a lot, the delivery room still cost more than I estimated. But since I stayed in a hospital longer due to the emergency c-section, I treated the situation as an emergency as well.

I decided to pull 15% of the delivery costs from my emergency fund and pay the remaining 85% with my savings. Just like that, my delivery and one-week stay at the hospital were paid off with cash!


Reelika is a working mom, entrepreneur, Christian, philanthropist at heart, financial management lover, travel enthusiast, and baking fanatic. She blogs at Financially Wise On Heels about personal finance and entrepreneurship.

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: New Siding for Our Home

We paid cash!

A testimony from ProteanMom.com.

Not long ago, we paid cash for a minivan using the Envelope Budgeting system. It was an exciting (and addicting) moment. We’ve been paying with cash ever since!

Our Fixer-Upper Home

We knew that we would need to replace our home’s wood siding – eventually. Within a few months of buying our minivan, however, we realized that “eventually” had caught up with us. Our siding still looked good from a distance, but it was molding and rotting. At best, we had a year to save up for new siding.

We decided that this was our next big-purchase project. We also determined that this was a project that we did not want to do ourselves, which meant paying for labor on top of materials.

Adjusting the Budget

We put other projects on hold, scaled back on outings, and delayed fun purchases. It was hard, but we were diligent in putting any extra funds into that new siding envelope.

It helped that we knew we had to be good, because otherwise we’d also be paying for potentially massive interior repairs, too. By adjusting our budget, we knew that we would have almost enough money by our self-imposed year mark.

Wanting to avoid debt for siding, we tried hard to cut from other areas to save even more. It was hard to forego activities with friends and eating out, but we knew it would be worth it.

By the year mark, we were *so* close to our goal. Thankfully, my husband then got a larger than expected bonus at work. Putting that into our siding envelope, we would have enough money for siding *if* we could get a great bid.

Shopping Around to Hire a Contractor

We got bids from several different companies, and the bids ranged widely. The highest bid came in at more our minivan had cost us! We chose a reputable, but reasonably priced, company to install our new siding. Their quote was *just* under the amount we had saved!

We paid half up front (and the rest when they were done) and the company got to work.

They were shocked that we didn’t need financing – or try pay with a credit card. In fact, they almost looked confused (but happy) to see a check! Our home ended up needing more siding than the contractor had originally thought, but this amazing company held to their quoted price.

They did an amazing job, our house looks great, the extra insulation lowered our power bill, and we stayed within our budget!

siding before and after

On to the Next Project…

Since the siding was done, we’ve moved into another home that’s closer to family. Here, we’re trying to decide which is next: replacing the roof or a getting a new-to-us car for my husband. It’ll probably be the roof. Wish us luck!

Kim loves her life; she lives with her husband, their two boys, their dog, and is happily expecting boy #3. She writes about life as a ginger, geek, Doctor Who fan, triathlete, mom, wife, nurse, teacher, and more at ProteanMom.com.

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


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How We Paid Cash: Braces… Not a Car

We paid cash!

A testimony from Karen

After six years of living cash-only on a modest salary, I thought I had learned all the lessons this way of life had to teach.

I was wrong.

Two years ago we decided that with two aging cars, we needed to begin saving. After a year we were close to having enough for a decent used car.

However, while refinancing our house we discovered an outstanding credit card debt that somehow had fallen through the cracks. We needed to use the car savings to pay that debt.

While that was difficult, we knew for certain at that point that after three years of hard work we had paid off over $200,000 in debt and were now debt free except our mortgage.

With my teacher husband home for the summer, I took on a full time summer job so we could save more; and in 4 months we were able to save $4,000!

We began to get excited and projected that in a few months we would be able to buy a car.

And then we learned our daughter needed braces. Not the vanity kind of braces to make good teeth perfect, but the palette-expanding-there’s-not-enough-room kind of braces. After insurance we owed $4.700.

My husband and I had meltdowns. It wasn’t pretty. You see, along with a car there are many things on our wish-list. House projects. Vacations. Retirement funds. College Savings. Not braces.

We outlined our options and made the difficult decision to use the car savings to pay for the braces.

Here’s why:

  1. The orthodontist offers an 18 month no-interest payment option, but because they also offer a discount if you pay in full, that option really costs $250 – the amount of the discount. Technically, this is borrowing.
  2. We could pay for the braces out of our emergency fund and keep the car savings on track, but this wasn’t an emergency. We don’t need a car, we want one. If one of our cars breaks down, then we’ll have a real emergency and can consider those funds.

So we start again at ground zero, armed with two valuable lessons.


It was through the experience that I was able to make a mental/spiritual shift from focusing on what I didn’t have to an honest, deep contentment for what I did have.

I realized that if I never had anything more than I had at that moment I would be happy because I was blessed beyond measure in so many ways. How could I truly think I needed more?

Living Our Values

Making the tough decision to delay buying a car forced us to examine our values and make the choice that supported those values.

We have done it for years every month when we make our budget, but had never thought about the fact that we were doing it.

It feels good.

Much better than a new car would!

Karen Lasher is a chef and writer who teaches how to bring peace, calm and serious creativity to everyday meal preparation at Joyful Dinners.

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

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