Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Way of Life

Last month, Aaron and I totally revamped our budget. A few things are changing in our life, and in order to prepare for that, we needed to change our spending habits. 
We did a lot of research. 
None of the cookie cutter budgets fit what we wanted. We picked things that we liked about different styles, but we're focusing on the Dave Ramsey way of life. So far, we've paid off one of Aaron's student loans, and things are looking very promising. We've only been doing this for one month, but it just feels so good to be getting out of debt! That just leaves two more student loans plus my car loan, and we'll be debt free. I know it will take a few years, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that my friends, feels amazing.
Here are a few of the things that we've changed so far:
  • We quit going out to dinner so often. This may seem kind of silly, but it has worked. When we do want to go out to eat on the weekends, we usually go during lunch. Not only are the portions generally smaller at lunch [better for my waistline], but the prices are usually cheaper, too.
  • During the work week, I come home for lunch since my office is about 5 miles away. Aaron packs his lunch on most days.
  • I go grocery shopping once a month. Again, I've only been doing this for a month, and January was pretty successful, but I have some kinks to work out. My plan is to do all of my bulk shopping once a month, and then pick up milk/eggs/bread as needed. To some this may sound crazy, but here's how it worked for us: 1) not going to the commissary weekly saved me $5 a week in tips for the baggers alone ($15 savings for the month) 2) Bulk shopping [buying family packs of meat & breaking it down] saves me so much, compared to buying single serve packages for each meal. 3) The less I'm in the store, the less money I spend. In other words, every time I go, I may pick up extra things not on my list if they are on sale, etc. even if I don't necessarily need them at the time. 4) I'm not wasting my day off going to the store with a grumpy toddler. On the days I need milk, Aaron will pick it up on his way home from work...saves time & gas.
  • I've started making more things homemade. This includes buying dry beans to prepare instead of buying canned. Making my own soup. Making my own rolls, pizza crust, bread sticks, etc. You get the idea.
  • I've gotten back in to couponing. I quit for a while right after I started work because it was just too much for me to keep up with at the time. It's definitely worth it for us, though, because most of the hygiene items that we use are on a Walgreen's/CVS sales rotation.
I don't have any hard figures at the moment for how much these small changes are helping us, but I'm hoping that once I work out the kinks I can share them with you all. 
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you can't save for the future until you get out of debt. **
This, for us, was life changing. 

**Another blogger pointed out my mistake. You can put money into savings while getting out of debt.  However, I continually tell myself that I can't start really saving until we get out of debt. We have a savings account with an amount that we are secure with, and until we pay off our debt, we don't plan on adding to that. If you do not have a savings account, but want to save while trying to become debt free, please ignore my mantra!


Meg @ Mr.C and Me said...

The only thing I disagree with is that you CAN save for the future while working to get out of debt.
Here is a link that I think explains it well:

Anyway, great post - love to find others who aren't accepting debt as a way of life. Excited to follow your journey to freedom :) We use some of Dave Ramsey's tactics too and are working to pay down $43K in student loans (you can read about it here:

p.s. following you now via Google Reader

Sarah said...

This is SO great! My husband and I have been working toward this but need to sit down and settle on an actual plan. To learn how to budget early in life will make a huge difference for your future. I'm inspired!

Smart Ass Sara said...

It is seriously HUGE how little things like this help you to make other changes as well. I really like the shopping once per month and once you get into the habit of making a menu and planning it out? Totally do-able. The only thing I typically get is produce because some isn't going to make it the entire month. I'm getting back into the couponing because I get pissed off when I run out of stuff and have to go to the store for one thing. Which means Target and I walk out with Hot Tamales, a necklace and a CD. ;)

Melissa said...

Love Dave Ramsey! Congrats on paying off a school loan! That's a big feat! I know you're on the right path. Good ideas all around. We are doing the packing lunches an I can say, I feel so much better that I'm not wasting money. Congrats!!!

Jamie said...

Awesome! Good luck getting back on track.

Whitney said...

My goal is to pay off about $15,000 in credit card debt by December 2013. (what it is currently). I'm also going to save money as well every month, so I can a new car this year in the fall. I'll need money for a down payment. (My car is 11 years old, and I've had it that long too).

Good luck!

Elle Sees said...

i'm getting debt-free, within a couple of years hopefully!

Kalamity Kelli said...

I love your blog! I have done exactly what you talked about for years and years. First, I got divorced and was a single mom for 20 years but then - it became very "hip" to coupon, buy in bulk, not eat out all the time - I guess I was cool before I even knew I was! I think the important thing is to do this as it feels right for you and your family. If you start feeling stressed, you will only become as unhappy as you were with your debt.