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!

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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.

Appreciation

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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How We Paid Cash for a Rental House

We paid cash!

A testimony from Jackie

We are determined to pay cash for everything — even big ticket items. So while my husband and I were getting completely out of debt, I set another long-term goal: to pay cash for a rental house once we were debt-free.

The plan was to buy the rental property within a self-directed IRA. (That’s a type of retirement account where you’re allowed to decide what you want to invest in, so long as you stay within the IRS rules.)

Small amounts add up:

I started contributing to my 401k at work. At first I just contributed 3% to see what my check would be like with that amount gone. Once I adjusted to that change, I increased my contribution by 1-2% every few months. I kept that pattern up until eventually I was contributing 30% of my check!

I invested in the options available to me in the 401k, and also got a very small company match. I had in mind that I would be quitting my job at some point in the (then-distant) future to go and work for myself. Once I did, my plan was to roll the 401k money into a self-directed IRA and then buy a rental house within it. The IRA would own the rental property on my behalf.

But before I could do that, the company I worked for was acquired. That meant I could roll the money over to a self-directed IRA earlier than I’d expected. I went ahead and did exactly that. Then I went house shopping!

Finding the house:

I had managed to save up about $80,000 over about 7 years, so I set my rental property budget at $50,000 or less. (I wanted to have extra cash available for repairs and unexpected expenses.)

In order to find a house for that low price, I had to look outside of our area. I found an older home listed at around $40,000 in a small town about 40 miles away. I had my IRA make a full-price cash offer, sight unseen, that was contingent upon inspection. (The property was occupied, and they didn’t want people inspecting who weren’t serious.)

After inspection, I had my IRA withdraw the offer. The house needed a LOT of work. I got a few estimates, and then had my IRA make a new offer at about half the asking price due to the repairs that would be needed. They accepted. Suddenly my IRA owned a rental property, and I’d paid cash for a house.

house

How it feels to pay cash:

The first time you make a large purchase with cash is amazing! So is every time after that!

Living a debt free life may not be considered “normal”, but it’s awesome — and something I believe everyone can do once they get their finances into shape.

We’re regular people who struggled with debt for years, and we finally beat it. You can too!

Jackie Beck is an entrepreneur and the mom of one college-age son. Her husband is a software tester and avid reader. You can read about how they paid off over $147,000 in debt at TheDebtMyth.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 Month-Long European Family Vacation

We paid cash!
A testimony from Jessica who blogs at Life as MOM and Good Cheap Eats

My husband and I honeymooned in France and assumed we would return every year. Then life happened. Graduate school, unemployment, a baby, a house, miscarriages, more babies, more debt, more stuff got in the way of our newlywed dreams of travel.

After we paid off all our debts, we started dreaming big dreams again — a trip to France for a month with our six children to commemorate our 20th wedding anniversary was one of them.

Folks looked at us like we were crazy!

Not only had we dared to do something big like to travel with kids, we notched up the crazy by saving up the money to do it. It took two years, but we pulled it off.

Here’s what we did to make it happen:

1. We said it out loud.

Part of the success of a goal is to be brave enough to put it out there publicly. We talked about it enough that we would have been really embarrassed if we didn’t pull it off. Sometimes, pride is a good thing.

2. We envisioned our kids.

Just like when we did the really hard work of getting out of debt years earlier, we explained our plans to our children so that they would understand why we were making cuts to our spending or doing extra things to increase our income.

3. We created a budget.

I planned a hypothetical trip and calculated all the price quotes. The total was staggering, particularly when I added extra to allow for inflation and a weak dollar.

4. My husband worked overtime.

Getting up at 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday wasn’t his favorite thing to do, but my husband did it.

5. We opened a separate bank account.

I opened a dedicated account in a different bank from where we do our regular banking. I also chose not to get an ATM card. I wanted that money liquid but as inaccessible as possible.

6. We put all other vacations on hold.

We put off other travel plans, instead banking the money for France. Staycations and family visits were a great way to do family travel while we worked toward a bigger goal.

7. We socked away all extra income.

Even though we have two incomes, we choose to live on one. Any income that came in over our regular expenses went toward the France fund.

8. We deferred lots of “extras”.

There is a lot of excess in our lives, lots of things that are fun, but that we can certainly live without. We cut back so we could divert that money toward our vacation instead.

Now that we’re home and finally unpacked, it’s been so encouraging to look back at what we pulled off and the great memories we created as a family. It was an amazing trip, one we plan to do again in 2016!

Jessica Fisher is a happy wife and a homeschooling mom of six kids under 18. She loves French cheeses, sandy beaches, good books, and Jesus. Not in that order, of course. Catch up with her on her blogs, Life as MOM and Good Cheap Eats.

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

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