If you didn't read my title with the The Apprentice theme song in your head - then you did it wrong. :) Now. Again -
MONEY MONEY MONEY!
Haha. Sorry if that song is now stuck in your head.
But i should rename it to "my money story" because i really went into more detail than you maybe wanted to know?? If so, sorry 'bout that!
But yeah - today I thought I would blog about MONEY. My BBFF Laura at Life Happens has made a lot of changes to her finances & she is now finished with Step 3 of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. Now if you know about Dave Ramsey, if you know anything at all about his plan, then you know this is GREAT NEWS!!!! His plan is really awesome.
I have also made changes to my finances (though i'm not at all where Laura is yet!) & i am so thankful. Today Laura is having a blog hop so we can all share ways we've been able to save money. I thought i would join in & you should too!! She is going to keep posting on some money-related things this week just because she is SO excited about this. And you would be too! To finally be debt-free & have CONTROL of your finances. AWESOME! You should check it out! Ooh & she is also she is going to be giving away The Total Money Makeover!
So here's my story & then how i've learned to save money. And believe me - if you knew me before i got married you probably won't even understand why i'm writing this. Back in the day of me living paycheck to paycheck & bouncing checks & not having enough money for rent when it was due. Or, having JUST enough for rent but not a DIME for groceries. YEAH. It was a terrible way to live. I am nowhere near perfect, but i have come a long way. Mainly thanks to my husband's help! Dave Ramsey talks about every marriage having a Rule Follower & Free Spirit. Yeah. I'm definitely the Free Spirit & Brad would be the Rule Follower. But it's good to have this kind of balance in a marriage! ;)
Anyway. I really am getting to the SAVING MONEY part, but wanted to give some background first!
I first heard of Dave Ramsey about 5 years ago or so. I was a nanny & the family I nannied for had his book & listened to his radio program. Sometimes i'd be there while the kid's mom was there & she would have his radio program playing. I liked his way of telling people like it is without being totally rude and arrogant (he is no simon cowell, but he will still give it to ya straight!). At the time i borrowed his book from that family & i thought he was awesome. Sadly, back then, i didn't implement anything he taught. And i had some debt going on! I had 2 or 3 letters from collection agencies that i was ignoring, one of them being my student loans which had been passed off to a collection agency. Yikes! All i did back then was tell my mom about it & she read the book & ended up really turning around their finances. =) But i just stuck with the "stupid plan".
I will say that in some ways i tried to do better. I wanted to. But i didn't change enough. For one thing, my rent was almost as much as one paycheck. I didn't make a lot of money. I also would not save half my rent from one check & then half from the other. I'd just spend a whole paycheck & then freak out when i didn't have enough money for necessities on the next paycheck! ACK! Though i know it was my fault, i didn't know where to begin with setting up a budget & figuring it all out. i didn't want to call the collection agencies & i liked to eat out too much. It was a stressful way to live. Since then i've gotten a much better job! Plus a husband who knows how to budget! ;)
I ended up marrying Brad. God knew what He was doing when He put us together for sure! One reason - finances. Brad knows how to handle finances. We do not make a lot of money. But we have the money for everything we need. He taught me how to set up a budget. I really really like it. I never thought i'd say i LIKE my budget, but it WORKS. As for SAVING, i would say BUDGETING is the #1 thing that has helped me. Oh, i know it's not technically "SAVING" but it really IS in a way! He has it all set up in Microsoft Money. I have an account for everything, not just bills & groceries & gas, but i have a "DOG" account for vet & grooming appointments & i even have a "Beauty" account for pedicures & hair appointments! HA! But it's okay - because i just put aside a little money here & there, which adds up so that i have the money when i need it. =) It is a visual for me to see how much money i have & it is really super helpful.
Brad was also NOT okay with me ignoring the debt collectors! While we were still engaged, he had me find their letters & contact them & set up a plan. Good thing i got married, or i probably never would have done that! I didn't have the courage. :( But i did it without hesitation this time because it was important to HIM. Not that it wasn't important to me - i worried about it for sure, but it was just NAGGING at me. I just wouldn't do anything about it. But Brad was right & refusing to do this would have put a serious wedge in our marriage - before it even started! I remember talking to one of the debt collectors the week before our wedding - Oh dear. They can be mean & pushy! I was crying at my desk at work because she was demanding i pay her the DAY after my wedding & i just didn't know how i'd be thinking of money on my honeymoon! But we got it all worked out.
Today all of those debt collectors have been paid. I have paid the student loan a lot more each month than they require & it was eventually sent back to Dept of Education in good standing. I am now paying it off monthly & you know? I feel so happy & free! This is my only debt (besides our mortgage). And just knowing that i'm in good standing & paying it off, is great news!!! I am well on my way to saving more money.
Laura & i were talking earlier this week about all this & i know that i could definitely be doing better at this. Everything for me is a PROCESS & it's gradual. Before talking to Laura, i had already been saving money in other ways. It is important to me. WHY? Well for many reasons, but mainly - i want a house! That's the main reason right now. But we aren't getting a house until we have a LOT of money saved up for one. Dave Ramsey recommends a 20% down payment! That's kind of a lot of money, ya know?! I also want to have some new furniture later on down the road (after we get a house). So saving money has got to become a PRIORITY! And, even with the budgeting... I am still not making saving money a priority.
Recent things i've done to save money:
My eating out has slowed dramatically. I used to eat out all.the.time. Not so much anymore. I will sometimes, but not often. And fast food, because of my health, has come to a complete & total HALT. No more fast food for me. EVER. I don't think i've had ANY in at least a month. And while this is helping my waist line, it is also a huge help to my budget!
The other thing is i recently lowered my cell phone bill. I took the internet off of it, because it's really not necessary. I sit at a computer all day at work & am able to check my email or facebook or whatever else. I also can check it at home. I actually only got the internet because it came with the unlimited texting & that is what i thought i needed - the unlimited texting. But it did become convenient to have internet on my phone to just check if i was waiting in line or at a standstill at a rehearsal or just wanted to look up something real quick. But it's so not necessary. So i took away that little bundle & now have limited texting - but it's still way more than i'll ever need. So that's good!
I have so far to go. There are other ways i like to spend money. (For example, buying books instead of buying them used or going to the library.) And honestly, if i want something, i pretty much want it NOW. But i am learning! And it's a good thing!!!!
Now, if you'd like to share your money saving tips, write your own blog & then head on over to Laura's & add your link to her blog hop!
P.S. I am so sorry this is sooo long!!!