A testimony from Stephanie, who runs Lilybean
My husband and I have not used our credit cards in some time, but we were still debit card addicts and never realized how those little purchases made it difficult to make ends meet at the end of each month.
Several months ago, I began using coupons and following a couple of money saving, frugal-living blogs. Something that always drew my attention was the ability for people to pay cash for large purchases (a concept that still seemed very unattainable for us due to the lack of extra funds at the end of each month).
We had wanted a sectional couch for our downstairs ever since we moved in two years before, and I asked my husband if he would be up for the challenge of going debit card free, using only cash for all expenses to begin saving for a couch.
He was excited at the prospect and we went shopping for couches to celebrate! We tried out as many as we could that were $1,000 or less. We figured we could put aside $100 a month, so it would take us less than a year. We narrowed our choices and got to work at home saving money.
Here is what we did:
- Continued to coupon, made a shopping list, and stuck to it
- Filled envelopes labeled by category (gas, groceries, etc.) with cash for the month. We agreed that once the cash was gone, it was gone and debit cards were not an option
- Put our debit cards in our fireproof box to make sure we weren’t tempted to use them–this tactic helped the most!
- Sold items on Craigslist — a large chair that we never sat in and would clear space for the new couch (along with some additional odds and ends) and set this money aside for the couch
- Cooked large quantities of dinner and used the leftovers for lunches to avoid eating out — shopping in bulk and only buying meat on sale helped with this
- I upped my Etsy Store presence to bring in some additional cash flow — I would take a slice of sales and put them toward the couch.
We had been saving for four months when my husband emailed me a link from Craigslist he spotted while posting an item to sell — it was the exact sectional we wanted and it was listed for less than 1/3 of the cost of new. It also included the ottoman which we had not planned on buying due to the additional expense!
We took a look and it was spotless, well taken care of in a pet and smoke-free home, and barely used.
We happily gave them the money we had been saving and used the extra for the hauling cost. It felt like such an accomplishment to snuggle and watch a movie as a family on a sectional couch that was paid in full!
Stephanie Van Horn is a wife, mom to an infant daughter and chocolate lab, and an elementary teacher. She lives in Colorado where the best part of waking up is the mountain view. In her occasional free time, she runs a baby boutique, Lilybean, named after her daughter.
Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.
Great post! We have not used our credit cards since April 2011 and only use our debit card. I have a calendar that I write each expense on to see where the money is going. Of course I figured out very fast it was eating out or going to get gas and pick up a coke, etc. This helps me to see where we need to cut back. This taught us to stop eating out and to cook at home and we started eating better.
The “envelope” system of money management was very popular before debit and credit cards. My mom still uses that method and she is the one who taught me to use it. I remember times when my dad was unemployed for a short time and although money was tight, the mortgage was never late, all the bills were paid, and as kids, we never “felt” the pinch.
Meg @ Embie Online says
I really liked the concept of putting the debit cards somewhere else so you’re not tempted to use them! We really need to try the envelope system…I am sure we’d be amazed by how much less we spend. We used to do it for groceries and haven’t for the past year or so.
Sounds like you’re a perfect example of Financial Peace University. Envelope system, paying cash, selling stuff, etc. For anyone else looking to get out of debt, check it out.
And no, I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but I’ve gone through it and know lots of people who have and everyone has loved it and changed their lives.
That’s Awesome! I ended up finding what I wanted on craigslist too when I was saving up for a freezer.
I love craigslist!
Would love to see a picture of this couch!! 😉 Congratulations, and way to go on your hard work!
Wendy Jahns says
Yeah, me too – I would like to see a picture. Very excited for Stephanie 🙂
We bought out over sized sectional on Craigslist too! We paid on $200 for it! It is a beautiful deep red and very modern and comfy. It was a little dirty since it belong to a family with small children, but micro suede can be cleaned using alcohol so that is what we did. Every couple of weeks I give it another scrub and it looks cleaner and cleaner each time. I was willing to give it some love to bring it back to life. Best deal ever. Normally this couch sells for almost $2k. Saved us a bundle and I LOVE it!!
Great story Leslie! I also bought my sectional from Craigslist and it needs a bit of tlc on one of the arms! Otherwise its beautiful! You said you cleaned yours with alcohol can you give me a few pointers on this?? Thanks and HAPPY SAVING!! 🙂
I’m sorry I sould check before I send! I meant Lesley! 🙂
We love our microsuede couch! We can put the cushion covers in the washing machine on a very gentle wash. (For the record, I think that the tag advises against it, so be prepared for a different outcome if you try it.) We do the gentle cycle, cold water, NO DRYER. We have a carpet cleaner with a hand-held attachment that we use for the body. The only issue we’ve seen is that it will show water stains, so you can’t clean one part without having to clean the whole thing. It’s been great for us. We have 2 cats, one with UTI problems, as well as being prone to puking if he has been outside. We love having pets in out life, so we must always have furniture that can be easily cleaned.
We haven’t tried alcohol, but I’ve heard it works very well!
Wonderful. I am so happy for you! When we use credit cards to buy things sooner than we normally could afford by saving we miss out on the incredible feeling of accomplishment in working to meet a goal.
For a couple of years I’ve been wanting a sofa with reclining ends for our family room. Also, pretty close to $1000. The couch savings “bucket” was the lowest priority “bucket” so the money didn’t build up very fast. I only had $300 in it when we had the opportunity to buy an almost new sofa (with reclining ends) from my husband’s cousin for exactly $300. We love our new couch!