My husband and I have been trying to live as cheaply as possible, and almost every article I read on the subject recommends cutting back. What can I cut back on when I don’t feel like I have anything to spend?
We don’t watch tv, don’t pay for internet, and don’t rent movies. We can’t afford to eat out, and the only dates we go on are funded by a change jar. The debt we have is his college loans, which are over $31k. The interest rate is 6.8%, which means we aren’t seeming to get anywhere on it.
We don’t buy new clothes, or get our hair done. His mom feeds us as often as she can, and we don’t need to buy much milk, meat or eggs. What more is there to cut back on? -Ambrosia
When I read your note, my heart hurt for you. I well remember the law school days when money was tighter than tight and it felt like we were never going to make any financial traction.
It’s hard when you feel like there aren’t any other corners you can cut and yet you are still stuck. Here’s my advice:
1. Focus on the Progress You Are Making
There is always something you can do — even if it’s as simple as learning a new way to stretch beans and rice, playing the drugstore game, or taking surveys online to earn money. Often, you can’t do a lot to change your financial situation overnight, but focus on what you can do and it will help you stay empowered and inspired.
Giving into hopelessness and despair will never get you anywhere, but it will make you feel powerless and stuck. And when you decide to give up, your chances of actually getting back up on your feet again are pretty slim.
Also, be encouraged! Your sacrifices and careful money management are actually doing quite a lot for you as they are keeping you from getting mired in a much deeper financial mess. While $31,000 in debt feels massive to you, many people would love to be in your shoes instead of dealing with the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt they’ve accumulated.
2. Keep Cultivating Contentment
Now, more than ever, you have the opportunity to choose to bloom where you are planted. Challenge yourself to keep a gratitude journal and write down at least three blessings every day. This will help you to weather the difficult days and weeks — and will remind you that even though life may be hard, there is much to be thankful for.
Looking for more encouragement and inspiration? Check out my article on 16 Ways to Become More Content.
3. Find Ways to Increase Your Income
The easiest way to dig out of this hole you find yourself in is to give yourself a bigger income to help shovel yourself out more quickly. This will benefit you not only in the short-term, but also in the long-term as it may allow you to completely change your financial situation within the next five years.
This is exactly what happened with us. When Jesse was in law school, we were determined to stay out of debt and I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. So when we found out we were expecting our first baby, I kicked into overdrive and started researching and trying everything possible to make my dream of staying home a reality.
It wasn’t easy — in fact, there were many months when I worked too many hours and made very, very little for all my time and effort. But it eventually paid off in great measure as I landed upon this thing called blogging, started MoneySavingMom.com and eventually turned it into a business that earned enough for me to make more than a full-time income and to pay for a wonderful team to work for me, too.
Read the whole series of my journey to becoming a work-at-home mom here.
There are a thousand and one ways to bring in extra income. Start researching, experimenting, learning, and putting forth a lot of time and effort and you’ll likely land upon something that works well for you. It won’t be an overnight success, but if you persevere, I’m certain you’ll find some things that will bring in extra income.
What advice do the rest of you have for Ambrosia and others in her shoes?
photo from Big Stock