Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thank You Oprah!

I'm watching Oprah right now. I watch her sporadically, and usually during her time I'm tutoring and don't have time. Also as a side note, I don't agree with her worldviews either. Anywho, sometimes I do watch and today I'm impressed. Oprah is running a show on getting bang for your buck.
She has a lady on who shows how to cut your grocery bill in half, people who show how to make a budget, and families who are getting out of debt while one of the spouses has lost a job! There are great tips at

If you don't care about your family's financial future, think budgeting is boring and useless, or have your financies 100% in order, quit reading. This is not for you.

We are currently doing Financial Peace University. We are less than $4,000 away from being DEBT FREE. Just wait for that blog baby! Anyway, I wanted to share a bit of our story for those of you out there who are worried about the economy and your family's budget. If you know someone who is financial trouble, feel free to show them my blog. We are NOT perfect with our finances, and we are not bragging, I just want everyone to know that you CAN get out of debt and you CAN get your finances in order.

When I say DEBT FREE (which I always do in caps because it is so exciting) it means we will owe NOTHING except the mortgage on our house. We had a large and a small mortgage on our house, those being the technical terms I'm sure, and the small mortgage is paid off. Yep, no student loans, no car payments, no credit cards, no medical bills.

We didn't think we had any financial problems prior to January 2008. We had credit cards, car payments, student loans, and the like. We paid on them every month so we were fine, right? Well I had this little nagging feeling every time I paid for something that maybe we didn't really have the money but #1's response was "we're fine". Our dear friends B and D gave us a book for Christmas called "Total Money Makeover" and it changed our lives. We were "fine" in that we could pay our bills, but when you pay $339.83 (yeah, I know every number by heart now) a month in car payments and only $75 of it goes to premium and the rest is in interest, you are so not fine. You are paying out the nose for things that you just had to have. To date we have paid off approximately $40,000 since January. We don't even make that much in a year, so here's what we did.
I stay at home and do daycare and tutoring. #1 is a cop and he takes all the overtime he can. We make sure that our kids are not being neglected of time and we keep reminding ourselves that this is not permanent. We emptied our savings (that about killed me) and only $2,000 remains. Luckily we had a decent savings account that previously I insisted on keeping and that money went to paying off bills. Also, remember that check the government gave us last spring? Yep, straight to paying off debt. Our tax check we got back went there too. We also had a garage sale. We should have sold more probably. We have not had to touch our $2,000 emergency fund yet even though we have had a few 'emergencies' but we budgeted things in before they happened and that helped.
Budget: We have to have a budget at the beginning of each month and decide as a family what is in and what is out. We live pretty thrifty but we are perfectly happy. We have no cable, we turn off everything we aren't using (and we are going to start unplugging things too, thanks Oprah) and use as little amounts of air and heat as possible. Our house in the winter is 64 deg. You know those sweatshirts we just had to own a year or so ago? Well, we use them now! In the summer we are at 75. I'd make it 80 but my husband might die and we really rely on his income at this point :o) We also eat for $60 a week and even get a $5 pizza off that about two times a month. We don't eat junk, we have fresh fruits and veggies daily. I shop at Aldi and look for sales in the local ads. We do lots and lots of things for free like movies from the library, local parks, and family events at local churches. We have a "fun" fund of $20 a month and we stick to it.
Another hard thing for us was getting rid of our credit cards. We still use them for major purchases AFTER we have put the cash into the bank. The day it shows up on our account we pay it. We have to budget in using it and agree upon it we know at least a month ahead of time before we ever swipe. We use bank debit cards, but those purchases are few and far between and the money has already been budgeted in. We have envelopes that we fill every month that we put cash in and that keeps you from spending money you don't cash hurts. We think very hard before using our fun fund. We budget in insurances and stuff that you only pay one or two times a year and put some in those envelopes every month. When they come due, we put the cash back into the bank and then write a check....OR pay online-then you don't have to pay for stamps!
God has really blessed us this year and we are so thankful for the things he has provided to help us through this. We have been able to give more than we ever had in the past even while scrimping our pennies. We have also been given so many great things from families who have things they are no longer using. Big J is about 95% hand me down at this point and styling! Between that and grandmas who love to dress little boys I have literally bought a pack of t-shirts and one pair of jammas for him in the last 6 months. I bought Baby J a $3 pumpkin shirt last month at Wal-Mart but it was with a gift card from when he was born, so I don't think it counts.
I have told so many people about Financial Peace University and I hear so many times "we just can't get out of debt, it will never happen". Well, my mom used to say "I Can't never did anything". I bet you can!


Erin Morgan said...

What a great post! Congrats at being debit free!! Ken and I are too and have been a couple of times. And actually, now we've just picked up another debt that we didn't know that we had... or actually taking on a college debt that mom always had in her name and not mine. Hopefully that one will be done with in 6 months or so. It is very inspiring to hear how you paid off your debt and how you live and budget. When we were first married, i was always good about budgeting but in the past two years I've just gotten out of it. It is such a labor of love for your family!! It's an inspiration. Thanks for giving small and tangible ways you help your family save for the future (and the present). It's helpful to hear how other families do it!

Jenney said...

We're not debt free yet! We have $4,000 to go...but we are close!

MELISSA said...

We did Financial Peace university back in the spring and it changed our lives too! We are a lot farther away from being debt free than you guys (darn medical school!) but made some real life changes, like getting rid of the credit cards and starting our debt snowball plan so we have a plan and a timeline and it has been so freeing! I highly recommend FPU to everyone! :)