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September Financial Update: It starts with the small things

Meagan left the following comment on my August Financial Update post:

I just wanted to tell you something. This morning I have about a week’s worth of dishes piled up. We don’t have a dishwasher and I hate it so much. Although this sounds weird, this post and others you’ve posted before have inspired me to get my life in order. We aren’t in the position to be debt free yet but you’ve inspired me to do the dishes. I can’t do the huge things yet, but I can do the little things, so that when we are in a position to do the big things, we will be ready to face the challenge. -Meagan

Meagan, your comment was right on the mark. You are so absolutely right!

My desire in sharing our financial goals and progress here is not to discourage others who are in different financial situations but hopefully to inspire everyone–no matter what your financial situation–to do something and start somewhere.

You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t stand up and take the first step. It’s easy to dream big dreams and make big plans, but the execution of them must happen one step at a time.

Back whenever my husband and I first had this crazy idea to pay cash for a home, we thought it truly would be impossible. We crunched a bunch of numbers, talked about all sorts of money-saving and income-earning ideas, and we both wondered if we’d lost our minds to set this goal and then share it with the world by publicly posting it on my blog back near the beginning of 2008.

But we did anyway, because we knew that, if we were going to pull this off, we’d need all of the accountability and cheerleading we could get. And then we dove in and took the first step: we set up a house savings account and we started setting aside every penny we could squeeze out of our small budget.

The first hundred and then the first thousand we saved were very rewarding. Little by little, things started picking up steam: our efforts and years of work on various income-earning things started to produce real fruit; we found new ways to cut our expenses even more; and we were the recipients of some unexpected financial gifts. The snowball just kept rolling downhill and picking up more and more snow–at a much greater rate of speed than we had originally ever envisioned.

Last October, God supernaturally opened up the door for us to be able to move back “home” (where cost of living is low) and start our own law firm. We used some money we’d set aside for extras, made the move, took a big leap of faith to start the law firm, and watched in amazement as God has blessed it far beyond our wildest expectations.

We kept plowing forward and our momentum grew. We continued to live on a modest budget (see a basic idea of that here) even as our income increased and we were constantly on the lookout for ways to earn extra income on the side (we’ll be talking more about these in the new Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom series).

One day last June, we woke up and realized we were half-way to our goal! Lord-willing, by the end of 2009, we are hoping to be at 85-95% of our goal–miles closer than we could have ever dreamed we’d be at this point.

How do you run a mile? One step at a time.

It is the same with financial goals or any goals, for that matter. They can only be accomplished one small step at a time.

It’s takes faithfulness in the little things to eventually see big progress. For us that’s been little things like: matching coupons with sales, planning a menu, purposing to live on a budget, reusing something instead of buying another new item, shopping around to get the best rates on insurance, making homemade pizza instead of ordering carryout, driving older vehicles, shopping at thrift stores, and learning to be content with what we have. All of these things might seem like a drop in the bucket when done individually, but, over time, each of those drops can start adding up.

Maybe you can’t save up to pay cash for a home, but you might be able to save $5 on your grocery bill this week and set that aside for savings. Start with the small things, be faithful in the little things, and stick with your goals–even when it feels like you’re going nowhere.

Start somewhere, do something, and don’t give up! Over time, as you become more experienced and adept at saving and earning money, you’ll likely start to see those little steps add up to a large amount of ground covered… and it will be worth every little sacrifice!


Now for the numbers:

We began September at 65% of our house savings goal and we ended the month at 69%! 

(If you’re new here, be sure to check out this post where I explain in detail why we’ve committed to this “crazy” idea to pay 100% down on a home. )

How did you do in September? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2009, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and/or failures in September and, if you’d like, the areas
you hope to improve in October. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don’t have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let’s all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

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  • Karen D. says:

    I think your goal is wonderful. We did things a little differently, but to the same ends. We bought a house in a fantastic neighborhood, but smaller than some of our friends were buying. We didn’t have kids and both of us worked modest jobs (I was a teacher; my husband is a deputy). We were able to put down a fourth of the house cost and took out a mortgage. Within 2 years we had paid off the house completely. It is a wonderful feeling to be completely debt free. Good luck in your goal. You can do it!

  • Lana says:

    Thank you so much for these posts. These are the pick me ups I need. It makes me think back to 3 years ago when we moved 3 hours away from home for a job opportunity for DH. He was promoted but since the cost of living was so much higher, he actually took a pay cut. He was working 6 days a week, 14 hour days. our relationship suffered and money seemed to slip through our fingers before it was even in our hands. We were both extremely unhappy with how things turned out. It got to the point that we were no longer even friends, let alone a loving union like we were supposed to be. I would be so stressed about money and how I was going to feed us and our 2 kids, that even tho I knew it would overdraw the account, I would run to the grocery before everything else cleared and stock up, spending $600, cuz I wouldn’t know when I’d be able to get us more food. I was in a new place and didnt know where to go for help. All I knew was what it was like where we had come from and it wasn’t the same in the new place.

    I finally lost it one day. our landlord had sold the house out from under us, giving us a week to find a new place. I had always come through in a clutch before, but i couldnt this time. Maybe it was because i didn’t want to stay there, i didn’t want to make it work, and I didn’t want to be in such a cold place any longer. The people were so mean, no one was friendly. DH told me he was disappointed in me since I didn’t find a new place for us. I said “I’m going home. You can either stay here or you can come with us, but I’m going home.” He chose to stay and try to make it work at his job.

    The kids and I stayed with my mom in 1 bedroom, while DH slept in his truck. A month later I got online and printed off my own divorce papers and sent them to him at his job. I think thats when he finally took me seriously and quit his job and came back home. He found a new job with a company he’s been with for 2 years now. We have struggled this long and are finally getting our footing. We have a savings account now. There’s not enough to fill up our truck (we had to upgrade from a car after adding 2 more babies to the family, but its the only vehicle we have), but it’s there and we are so proud of it. We add a little to it at a time, but we are cutting back more and more. It’s still hard but we are stronger than ever. We grew up a lot, hard and fast.

    I know its a terrible habit, and we are working on quitting smoking. We have set the date to quit as our next birthday, 4 days apart in january. We went from spending $360 a month just on cigarettes to $28/month by buying the supplies online and making our own. Its also helping us quit as its discouraging. It goes like this “You wanna smoke?”
    “Only if you make them.”
    “Paper, rock, scissors?”
    “Nevermind, not worth it.”

    Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you. I don’t see us ever being able to pay cash for a house, but we are working on our credit to be able to call a house our own. And trust me, coming from someone who let their credit get out of control, WHEN we get our credit back in good standing, it will NEVER be bad again. 🙂 It’s not much, but last month I was able to pay 2 hospital bills I had been avoiding. That was such a great feeling! Like “see?! I CAN pay for my obligations!” 🙂

  • Isabel says:

    Wow, I just discovered this site a few days ago, and I feel empowered by the sense of community that has been built here. I really feel like everyone is really here to support one another.

    I have been a stay at home mom for almost a year now, and have finally gotten the courage to stop looking for jobs and waiting around to hear back from potential employers and instead I decided to get out there and start finding ways to make my own money while staying at home with my children.

    The tips and ideas provided here are fantastic and encourages me that I am making the right moves. I find the more and more I research, I find some great educational information that keeps me staying positive and motivated. I even just bought Loral Langemeier’s new book. It’s called “put more cash in your pocket” and it says that it provides you information on how to make money with skills you already have – I can’t wait to get it and see if I can help me pin point exactly what it is that I want to do.

    It even came with some free bonuses which included a quick reference guide with tips on using quickbooks and a report on how to produce info-products which is something I am DEFINITELY interested in doing.

    Since this blog has helped me so much already, I thought I would pass some research I have found on to anyone who might need it since it has a bunch of freebies!

    Thanks again for reassuring me that I can do this! and I look forward to reading and learning more and more!

  • Patty Herbert says:

    The first “story” was awesome for me to read this morning. My goodness, there Is Hope! I can Really have a real life yet. Thanks.

  • Dawn says:

    Thanks for inspiring us all and reminding us that it doesn’t have to be leaps and bounds to begin, just baby steps and faith that we will have help in reaching our goals.

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