A testimony from Susan from Frugalouis
On a date night shortly before my husband’s computer programming contract ended, we got to musing. What if he just took time off after this contract instead of trying to jump right into something else? What if we were purposeful and set aside a period of time to invest in our own business? Could we do it?
My husband Ed wrote and sold software long before we married. This business brought in a very part-time income for us, but not nearly enough to support our growing family. If we ever were to get to the point of being fully self-employed, we both knew his software needed to be available on the web.
And so “Project GROW” was born: Get it Running On the Web.
Seven months for a family of four to choose to live on little-to-no income, with the goal of being self-employed and flexible down the road.
Here’s how it worked for us:
- That night at the restaurant we hammered out a detailed schedule for our family. Included in each week was about forty-five hours of time set aside for Ed to work on Project GROW. We knew that this way if (when!) things ate into his time, he was still likely to get in at least forty hours a week.
- We made sure to schedule in time for date nights and our family. With other things being tight during this time, we wanted to maximize time with Ed/Daddy.
- We set goals and a time-line. This included how long we were planning to devote and some markers to guide us toward completion.
- Our budget became our friend. Since we were blessed to go into Project GROW with a fully-funded emergency fund, we knew we had the resources at our disposal to live without income for several months. However, we were not guaranteed that Ed would find work immediately after Project GROW was complete. With this in mind, we set a budget that was significantly less than our spending prior to Project GROW. This budget amount became our “income” for each month.
- Money-saving became serious business around our house. While I had been couponing and following MoneySavingMom.com for about a year prior to this, now we really needed to stretch the bucks. Our commitment to using cash increased as Project GROW progressed. While we had gone into the project paying off our one credit card in full each month, by the end of our seven months we chose to be completely credit card-less.
- We knew we were in this as a team. I think this was a crucial piece of the equation. Together we came up with the name “Project GROW”, which ended up being a great “handle” for all the times we referred to this huge adventure our family was on. We started out dreaming about Project GROW together, and we planned our schedule together. And most importantly, together we prayed about this undertaking.
- My husband knew the skills he was learning and refining would make him more marketable regardless of how our new product sold. In many ways this was our “safety net” for investing so much time and money.
What happened is that we only made about three months’ worth of transfers out of the savings account. God provided in amazing ways, including a small inheritance and simply making our money stretch.
The year before Project GROW, we had the largest income we’d ever had as a couple. Living frugally during that time of plenty helped us prepare for this chosen time of drought.
Our seven months of investing full-time in our family business are now passed. Project GROW is mostly complete, and the web-based version of our product will be debuting soon. We realize that it will likely take years for us to get to the point of self-sufficiency. But imagine what it will be like when we do!
As a couple and a family, we’re glad that we stepped out and took a calculated risk toward financial independence. Instead of wondering and wishing, we did it, and now we’re excited to see what’s around the next bend.
Susan lives in St. Louis, is married to Ed and stay-at-home mom to their two little ones, ages one and three. She blogs at Frugalouis, “a frugal St. Louis Mom’s guide to the city”.
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