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.
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Kevin Shryock says
Great story, Sarah. Debt free is the way to go. Now you can carry memories with you instead of debt. So happy! 😀
Thanks for the encouragement, Sarah! My husband and I are currently paying off the last little bit of college loans while saving up for a second car and have had to make some careful choices about where to put our money.
Saving extra money from bonuses and extra from the budget are definitely helpful, congratulations on saving for your summer so quickly!
Thank you all so much for your encouragement! I’m so glad to know that our story may help or inspire others. And, Crystal, thank you so much for posting this. I have always admired how much help you give to other bloggers. Your unselfishness is really inspiring.
Thanks for sharing, Sarah. Like you, our income goes down in the summer and also we’re determined
not to have credit card debt. We do have some savings to fall back on, but I’m really trying to find some innovative ways to bring in more income. I have added mystery shopping and babysitting on Saturdays to help boost our earnings.
Saved up cash for something large or small?
All hands on deck, cashflowing college for 2 kiddos right now. One is at a state college and the other is at a community college.
Everyone has a job, the kiddos have a weekly budget, and we live a pretty simple life in order to accomplish this. For example, on our wedding anniversary we went out to lunch instead of dinner.
When everyone is working the same goal its so much more pleasant.
Wow, Sarah! You have really inspired me! We have some big college bills coming up this fall and I am starting to feel overwhelmed. There are definitely ways we can be more intentional about saving. Thank you for sharing.
Jayleen @ How Do The Jones Do It says
What a great feeling! Congrats on making your debt free summer happen!
Amy @ DebtGal says
That’s fantastic!! Congratulations, and enjoy your summer!
Its crazy how quickly small amounts can add up. I decided to start emptying the change in my pockets at the end of each day and putting it into an “anniversary trip” jar. Its adding up faster than I thought it would. Enjoy your summer!
This is how we pay for Christmas gifts every year. The coins add up so fast.
Susan in St. Louis says
Way to go! Thanks for sharing in detail. 🙂