Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cutting Back

As just about everyone else who has been woken up by our country's economic condition, we have realized that we were living far beyond our means. And more importantly, that it was time to change. We have been following Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover for about three months now. At first, in the novelty of it all, it was fun and exciting, but now it's honestly becoming hard. Don't get me wrong, it's a good hard. We have realized how we should have been living all along. We've been successful in no longer going farther into debt and even have been digging ourselves out as quickly as possible. But, basically I've been feeling pretty darn poor. We've been dieing to take a vacation. Truly, it's been a LONG time, as in since our honeymoon to the ever so exotic and thrilling Idaho (once again, don't get me wrong, it was a good vacation, and you don't need too many touristy things to fill your time on a honeymoon, if you know what I mean). Our blog labels will confirm this lack of traveling, as in there are only two posts under the label vacation, and both are from visits to see Greg's dad in Ely, Nevada. Sadly, this thirst for travel will not been quenched anytime soon. Here are a few other luxuries we have heretofore eliminated.

  • Buying drinks/appetizers/dessert at restaurants. We have a small budget for dining out and usually work in a coupon on our visits to optimize the possibility of going out more often.
  • Renting movies. Goodbye to our dear friend Blockbuster. Once in a while when there is a new film we have been dying to see we will splurge on a Redbox rental, but it is always sure to make it back the next day before extra charges.
  • Compulsive grocery shopping. As I mentioned before, I have a vigorous grocery list system, which includes a detailed and specific list of meal needs, ad matching, and coupon printing. Gone are the days when we would add candy bars or IBC Cream Sodas into the cart on impulse. We also only go shopping every other week, which makes for a very full cart, but less trips to the store with less odds and ends to pick up and add up on the bill.
  • Shakes. Once or twice a month Greg and I liked to enjoy specialty milkshakes. We consider ourselves to be icecream connoisseurs and have been known to often frequent Jakes, Abs, Iceberg, Leatherbys and Coldstone. Now I work whichever icecream is on sale into the grocery budget and make the milkshake from home.
  • Books and magazines. I love to read and I love to scrapbook. Before I always bought the book our book group was currently reading and I subscribed to my favorite scrapbook magazine for inspiration. Now, both outlets come from the library. The library has become my best friend. I know every inch of it. I reserve novels, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, cookbooks and most recently Creating Keepsake magazines.
  • Dates. Not that I feel we went out a whole lot before, but now the phenomenon is fairly nonexistent. Mostly because it costs money to get a babysitter and it costs money to go to a movie, bowling, etc. However, we have more frequently begun to take advantage of free entertainment opportunities as a family. We love the park, we visit it often. We go on walks. We swim at the fitness center with my free membership. If you are looking, there really is a lot out there to enjoy at little or no cost.

So, my conclusion on budgeting: yes, it's difficult, yes, in many regards it outright stinks, but I do believe it is worth it. We are sacrificing yet we are gaining many advantages and opportunities through such sacrifice. We are realizing the difference between wants and needs. We are being humbled. We are growing together as a family as we purge material things and refocus on what is important. We are better for it, not just financially, but also spiritually and even emotionally. And as for that vacation... we'll get there someday and since we'll be debt free, it'll be all that much more enjoyable.

Alright, I'm off my soap box now. But I would like to know, how have you cut back? Do you know any great money saving tips?


Tiffany said...

We've really been pinching pennies a lot lately too. However, I have no tips for you. It sounds as if you guys are doing better than we are. Hang in there. This too shall pass...

*Marie* said...

We use the free Redbox codes and free Arby's codes. Free Redbox is the first Monday of the month, and free Arby's is usually every Wed. If you are interested, I post both codes on www.minimariescorner.com

Thanks for the other money saving tips. And best wishes on your get out of debt goal.

Adrienne said...

I hear you on all of these except the vacation part! We use the free redbox code (Mondays and Fridays) and when not travelling eat out MAYBE once a quarter. Same on the ice cream and splurgy snacks, and we make a lot of meals which saves money (I know you do this too). I use quicken, which helps. I also try to live by the "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without". My biggest weakness though is buying things for Cael! I can withstand temptation for me, but it's harder on things for him!

If you guys ever want a trip to the bay area you can stay with us - we save a lot of money by staying with family and friends on most trips. We also have a Delta AMEX and I put a lot of stuff on it and pay it off every month - the miles build up before you know it and then you can take free trips! We also offer to get bumped always for the free tickets - it doesn't happen that often, but does happen. At Christmas we got vouchers of $400 each for getting bumped.

Rie Pie said...

You guys are role models!! You have seriously helped me get going on the Dave Ramsey thing!!

Lynette said...

I'm with you on "budget cuts." That's been my life story since I got married and had kids. BUt it's worth the "sacrfice." You really find out what's important and what you can honestly live without.

Isn't the library wonderful?!