Sunday, October 4, 2009

Living on a TRUE budget

B and I have recently discovered just how far a dollar goes...or doesn't go. For years, we have lived off the money we have made and then had our credit cards as "back up" for things we needed or really wanted and just couldn't afford. So now, 6 years into our marriage we are at the brink of maxing out our credit card, gulp! Ahhh! We've always been regular on our payments and have often payed the balance completely off...only to accumulate more debt once again. Well, now with two kids and one Army income, we have found ourselves using the dumb credit card way more than normal which has left us where we stand today - in way more debt than we ever thought we'd be in!

So, we are now living strictly on the money B makes as an enlisted soldier, and whew has it been tough! We are realizing just how little that truly is and how far and how quickly that goes. It makes us realize how foolish we have been to be using our credit card on so much "stuff" we haven't really the stuff food, vacation, or actual products. After living off of what B actually makes I have found myself buying the least expensive groceries and really thinking before I pick up a product at the store. "Do I REALLY need this?" I try to limit my driving so I don't use more gas than necessary, and I have eliminated any fast food or Starbucks runs. We only went out to eat once in the past few weeks and it was because I got my own little paycheck from being a sub at my church's nursery (I only worked one day, so it was kind of small, haha). I can assure you that we ate the heck out of Texas Roadhouse's bread and peanuts as we drank our free water and ate off the $7.99 menu. We really "cherished" our meal out!

B and I have never felt this broke in all the years of our marriage, but there is a peace in knowing we are only buying what we truly need. By cutting out all unnecessary spending, I feel like we are finally being good stewards of our money...and that does feel good. The stress of not knowing if I'm going to be able to go to the grocery store towards the end of the month, or thinking the prices are too high at the kids' consignment store, or realizing I can't go buy more juice or milk for 2 more days since pay day is still a few days away, or knowing I can't run out and buy whatever I'd like to buy for D's birthday party have definitely taken a toll on me. I have been feeling sick lately. I haven't been eating as much...partly because I can't afford to buy anything real snazzy or fun to eat, and partly because I feel too stressed to have an appetite. Either way, I've lost 7 pounds without actually trying (now I am actually really excited about this though....weight loss is always a great thing in my book!). But feeling sick so frequently is not as cool :-(

Fortunately, we have a fantastic plan to pay off all our debt when B deploys later this month. It is a huge blessing that he makes a decent amount more when he's deployed so we have a healthy cushion to use for debt payoff. And between that extra income (that can't seem to come soon enough) and our expected tax rebate in February, we expect to get out feet healthily back on the ground next year. I am 100% sure we will be successful in paying off our debt. This will of course give us more money on a monthly basis which should help us to live debt free on a day to day basis (plus, B is up for his next promotion soon!). This blog entry may not have been as exciting as some - in fact I think it's kind of dreary - but my blog is about what is on my mind. And, I can assure you that this lack of money is definitely what has been on my mind lately. Pinching pennies and stretching every last dollar a million ways is tough, but doable. God will see us through this financial valley and I hope in 10 years we will look back on this time and realize that we changed our financial ways and are now living much better and more responsibly. I also hope to have a larger home :-)


  1. we are in the same boat...our once a month paycheck isn't large and the majority of it goes towards the house and bills. We are in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class at our church and it is helping us out greatly with paying off our debt and saving etc...and it has a lot of religious aspects put into it too. Check out his website, you and B might find some great tips on there to help you out even more!

  2. It sure can be tough! One of the things that helped us so much, and you may already have done it, is write out and maintain a monthly budget worksheet. We did ours using the Crown Financial Ministries materials and guidelines, and then tweaked our percentages for the categories to fit our needs. This way, we know *EXACTLY* how much money we can spend on groceries, clothes, or even eating out each month. It has freed us up in so many ways! It takes about 30 minutes to sit down and do the worksheet at the end of the month, or you could do it weekly to check your progress. We love it!

    Best of luck in paying down your debt!

  3. Thanks guys! I'd love to do the financial peace university program, but we just haven't done it yet. I think we have a pretty good plan on how to pay off the debt from hearing from friends and family who have used the program. But I know we need direction in saving money properly. Our immediate need is just to make it week to week at the moment. We qualify for WIC, so we just signed the kids up for that today (we've qualified for a long time but our own pride has kept us from utilizing it)...that should at least provide proper food for them. We just need to get through until B deploys and then wait a month until he starts getting deployment pay. We will be able to breathe much easier then...even if we'll be multiple countries apart :-) Thanks a lot for the encouragement!

  4. It is really stressful, huh?!! We are in a financial bind too! I know how you feel. It is so easy and it feels so good to buy what you need, want or just think is cute for the kids. But it stinks when all of it adds up so much that when something unexpected arrives(like a doctor bill you didn't think would come), it sends you over into stress world. I click coupons, buy generic if it is cheaper than the brand on sale + coupon and we rarely go out to eat. I have a budget and everything has it's allocated amount. If something comes up that isn't in the budget it has to come out of one of the categories. I am more determined than ever before to get out of debt and stay out. Dave Ramsey says to eat beans and rice to cut back on groceries until you get out of debt so that when you are out of debt, seeing rice and beans makes you sick and reminds you of the debt you were in. Anyways, I'm rambling too! Good luck and know that you're not alone in the sickness and stress. But we will both get through this with God as our Anchor!

  5. Jeremy and I have seen God work so much in our lives and in our marriage when finances are low (which is always, haha). He will bless your obedience! I've learned a few tricks over the years about how make a little go a long way. I've just started making my own cleaning products. I cannot believe how much that saves! I make everything - all purpose spray, laundry detergent and even dishwashing detergent. I've also just started cooking big meals and then freezing it. It saves a lot when you can buy bulk, but you have to use if fast so it doesn't go to waste. This is a really good time of year for soups and stews and those are perfect things to freeze. Another thing you can buy in bulk is Tang or Lemonade. My kids drink juice so fast and the powdered stuff lasts a lot longer. If you want to try them I can send you the recipes I use for cleaning products. By the way, your blog is really adorable! I wish I was diligent enough to keep up with mine. haha.