Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Money Monday - Budget Busters

Ok - Everyone is FREAKING out about the sky falling down. THE STOCK MARKET IS AT AN ALL TIME LOW --- (at least since the past 11 years anyway)...

Ok, it is scary - and every time I watch things on TV about it, I'm reminded of WHY I don't watch the news. 

Here's a little tidbit - It's all going to be okay. We're going to get through this economic downturn. I'm very thankful for God's blessings and our jobs during this time - and pray for all those who have been laid off to find ways to provide for their families.

That said, it's time to pinch some more pennies. Get the most out of your dollar.

Here are some ways to do that:

1. MAKE AND FOLLOW A BUDGET (*MOST STINKING IMPORTANT!*) You'll be so surprised where your money is going!

2. TURN YOUR THERMOSTAT DOWN! You'll survive, I promise. When we go to bed at night, I turn the thermostat down to 58 degrees and throw an extra blanket on my kid who INSISTS on sleeping in next to nothing. When you leave the house - turn it down. There are arguments about whether turning it up and down is worse than just leaving it up... I'm telling you: the last 2 gas bills of mine (we do the budget plan) have gone down. We're paying $20 less per month since we started doing this. The same goes for keeping your air conditioner set higher in the summer.

3. GET RID OF YOUR CABLE! Waaaaaah boo hoo. "We can't pay our bills but I'm just NOT willing to get rid of my Tivo!" Boo-HOO! If you can't feed your kids - get rid of your cable bill. You can survive with a digital converter box and antennae. I promise you can. We're still alive as living proof.

4. ELIMINATE PREPACKAGED FOODS - "I need to pack lunches and have snacks for my kids!" The Cheeze-Its in the big box taste the same as the ones in the little bags...and you can buy a box of ziplocks and throw some Cheeze-Its into them and you have your convenience food for so much less. String cheese is STINKING expensive. Your kid will feel the same if you give him or her a slice of American cheese from the deli and you'll shave dollars off of your budget. And heck - make your own granola cereal - seriously.

5. STOP BUYING DRINKS - not the alcoholic kind - well, those too - but stop buy sodas and tons of juices and teas...WATER and MILK. You'll get used to it. You can do this.

6. EEK - GET A SECOND JOB - I know what you're saying "No she di-int!" "But my husband's hours are irregular...I can't pay for daycare" etc. etc. etc. There are a ton of excuses, but if you want to get ahead you have to sacrifice. Maybe you feel like working at the grocery store is below you, but who's gonna be the smart one when you're paying off your debt in a floundering economy?

7. GET RID OF YOUR STUPID CAR PAYMENT! You can't afford it. If the total cost of your car is half your income or more - it's too much. So, if you're making $40,000 a year and you have payments on a $20,000 car (or 2 $10,000 cars) - It's killing you financially. Sell the car private sale for what kbb.com says it's worth. I know, you're upside down right? I'm getting to that...Get a small loan out for what you're short to pay off the loan and possibly and extra thousand to get a little around-town car and rid yourself of that $400+ car payment. 

"But I need a safe car to drive my kids in!" I did the same thing when Hannah was born. I needed a band new car with side airbags in the back!! But, seriously...this is a POOR excuse. We have since paid cash for 2 older small cars that are doing just fine...and guess who didn't complain about rising gas prices! Both of our cars get over 30 miles per gallon and run just fine. They even have over 100,000 miles on them *gasp!* What will people think?! You're poor!? WHO THE HECK CARES!?! 

I only say these things because we've done/are doing them. My husband worked long and varying hours in the city with three hours of travel time per day...He would then have the bus drop him off in front of the house - change his close - and spend the rest of the evening making pizzas until he got a main job that paid more. And you know what? - during that time of making less money - we were able to pay off $11,000 in debt in one year. Since then, we've paid off another $15,000 (8 months) and hope to pay the last $8,000 off by the end of summer. This is do-able. That's what I'm trying to tell you! But, you HAVE to be willing to sacrifice!

I'm going to stop there for tonight, because I'm sure some will find this post annoying. I'm okay with that - because I'm not talking about anything we haven't done! I want people to thrive and suceed...to know that there is life beyond debt...that you can make compound interest work for you :) I want you to be encouraged.

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