TJ and I have been trying to tackle our debt head on. We started our marriage with my hefty BIOLA student loans, then the medical bills came, and having a baby can just be plain expensive. When TJ was unemployed after our move back to California and we ran out of our savings we worked so hard for, it was a wake-up call for us to never take a penny we have for granted. It was through this experience we found Dave Ramsey and quickly began transforming how we think of money and the legacy we want to live and leave for our family tree.
We’re a far way from being debt free, but because we’ve been living counter-culture, we will be getting there much quicker.
Here’s some of the extreme things we do to live frugally. We live like no one else now so we can live like no one else later:
Mama’s at home. I could be working, but TJ and I made the choice a long time ago that we both wanted me to be raising our kiddos at home. It’s part of our value system. It also saves us a lot of money because we don’t have to pay for childcare, transportation, work clothes, etc.
One car. Affectionately known as Sammy, our Santa Fe is getting older, but it’s paid for. When your car is paid for, it drives as nice as that Land Rover, BMW, or Escalade I’m surrounded by here in the OC! Being a one car family makes you plan for your outings better and cuts down on the cost of gas since you’re only paying for one car. Plus, no need for the cost of gas, insurance, and registration on another vehicle.
Where we live. We lived with my Dad while TJ was unemployed because we had no other choice. But when TJ got a job, we did have a choice. We chose to live with him until it was evident Sadie wasn’t thriving anymore in a little cramped office with her parents hogging the space. Doing that for a couple short months (didn’t seem short at the time) gave us a jump start in paying over $5,000 off.
When we did move, we did it methodically.We got a one bedroom plus den apartment because it was hundreds less a month simply for Sadie not having a door to her room. Why should a baby have a door to her room anyways?! We moved down the street from where TJ works and across the street from a major shopping center. We did this on purpose for a couple reasons: 1) So I could have the car and run errands or take Sadie on play dates without having to wake up so early to take TJ into work to have the car. 2) So TJ could walk to work, which happens to be up a beautiful hill giving him a great workout as he overlooks the valley to the mountains. 3) So I can walk to stores for groceries, to the park across the street, etc. without having to use the car.
Cook from scratch to lower your grocery bill. I love cooking anyways (I’m a major foodie), but it’s really a necessity in us saving so much money. We carved our grocery budget down to $60-$75 a week. I coupon a lot, but I also have found that making our own food from scratch saves a ton of money. I make our own breads, smoothies, sauces, etc. Not only do I love doing it, but it’s also proved to be so much healthier for us in the long run too. Buying things in bulk cause you to not buy so many packaged and processed items-making our organic loving home all that much better! Hit up a Farmer’s Market also to save on produce!
Cash only. We don’t use credit cards anymore. We’ve performed plastic surgery. We also use all cash for everything. That way if you don’t have the cash for it, you don’t buy it! Talk about discipline!
Sell everything. If we don’t use it, it’s going to be sold. Why have a full house of clutter when it can be paying your way to a debt-free life!? We’ve sold a ton of stuff and are still in process so we can throw all the money at our debt.
No media. This is where people must think we’re nuts. We have no cable, no phone, and no internet. Luckily, our laptops pick up a wi-fi signal so we just don’t pay for it. But there’s no TV in this home. We’re even toying with selling our 42 inch plasma since it just sits there now. We do watch news clips on Hulu and read the news online so we’re abreast of what’s going on in the world. We also do $5 a month for Netflix so we can snuggle up and have at home date nights once we put Sadie to bed. We’ve noticed that since we did this, we’re a lot less stressed out because we have more time to get things done, more time together to go for a walk or read a book, or just be unplugged!
Eating out. We eat out 2 times a month. And when we do those two times, we go somewhere where we have a coupon so we don’t ever pay full price for a meal. It’s a treat.
Hand-me-downs. Never be afraid of a hand-me-down. Just because someone else has no need for it anymore, doesn’t mean it’s old, dilapidated, or has no value.
Cloth diapers. Disposable diapers for a baby can get expensive fast. People who use cloth save an average of $1200 a year. We switched to one-size diapers in neutral colors so not only can we use them for Sadie, but her subsequent siblings to further the savings. On top of the financial perks, it’s also a while lot better for Sadie’s bum to not have all the chemicals from the diapers or the landfills being stuffed with her poopies!
Laundry. This may gross people out, but I rarely use detergent to wash my clothes or TJ’s clothes. Unless they are truly muddy, stained, or just gross, the agitation from the washing machine is all you need to get your clothes cleaned.
You think I lie?
Check out this article:
You can also make your own laundry detergent, but we use it so infrequently that using a coupon for detergent that’s on sale every couple of months is okay with me. We’re still on the small bottle of Tide I bought on clearance for $4 back in February.
Re-cap: There are so many little things you can do to save money. Our culture is so jam packed with the message that you have to have everything and you have to have it now in order to be happy. We know God is our great provider for all of our needs that He meets and then some (Matthew 7:7-11). We live very simply, and we couldn’t be more happy. Especially because our way of living is going to bring us to a debt-free life sooner rather than later. What an awesome reward!