8 Money Saving Tips We Live By

I was inspired this morning by a friend of mine to write a quick blog post.

Believe it or not, I always have friends and family come up to me for financial advice all the time! It’s no secret that Jack and I are huge Dave Ramsey fans, we are pretty minimalistic, and that we take saving money very serious (we are bad for the economy lol).

Living off of one income and being a full time mom can be a challenge. We have two girls that need to go to college and they would need new cars, and we are going to retire one day and we will need to depend on our retirement savings for an extra 30-40 years (if we are lucky enough to live that long).

So I had the idea to share 8 of my best tips that we live by on the daily:

  1. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.

It’s very easy to get influenced by social media these days. You are surrounded by people sharing the latests fashions, having the latest technologies, or sharing pics from their lavish vacations. And there is nothing wrong with that, if you can afford it. But if you can’t, please don’t try to compete or prove yourself to anyone. Statistics show that in our era today we have the most debt, the least saved in savings, and the least invested in retirement. It’s already a issue that we don’t make enough money to support our cost of living, so don’t get sucked into impulse buying because you see others doing it. At the end of the day, you’ll be sitting there with a empty bank account and a picture full of likes. And if any social media accounts make you feel a certain way, just hit the unfollow button, life is too short to worry about what others have and what you don’t have. Be thankful for what you do have, live below your means, it’ll be worth it I promise. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, the Joneses are broke.

2. Avoid the credit cards!

I sound like a broken record when I tell people this, “NEVER OPEN A CREDIT CARD!” There are some exceptions to using a credit card like: real emergencies. But you should already have a savings account for emergencies as it is, so there is really no reason to have a credit card. People think it is normal to have credit card debt, but guess what, it is not. It has become the new norm for so many people, but those people are broke. If you want to be financially fit, this will be a good place to start.

3. It’s ok to say no.

I am a pro at saying no. And I have no shame in doing so. If friends ask you to go out to a movie, a concert, or dining out, it’s ok to say no. Don’t feel obligated to always say yes. I can’t express how many times as a teenager I came home with only $5 in my bank account wishing I didn’t go out with my friends. It is ok to say no no no! Your friends will understand, and if they don’t, you might need new friends 🙂

The other day Jack and I were having a discussion about something I don’t remember about what but it involved spending money, so I told him no! And he gave me the best compliment I could hear, he said, “I appreciate you because you really keep me on my feet” Sometimes Jack likes to drift away and forget about our budget, so I am glad he feels I keep him in line haha!

4. Skip the coffee runs.

Buying a $3-$5 coffee 7 days a week is such a money wasting habit. At least to me it is. If you really want to cut down on spending, this would be a big one. You are spending an average $20 to $40 a week on just a morning cup of Joe. You can invest in a Keurig, Nespresso, or a French coffee press and make your own cup of coffee in a reusable coffee mug on the go and save tons of money. Of course you’ll need the extra discipline to do so, but your pockets will look more happy.

5. Eating out.

Ahh this is one of my favorites. I despise eating out. One dining out dinner can cost the same as groceries for a couple of days. Of course not everyone can do this. I understand that some people don’t have the time to meal prep, or even the skills to cook, or they get tired of eating the same thing everyday. But if you really have the goal in mind of saving money, you should take on this challenge. I dedicate my weekends to grocery shop on a budget and meal prep for myself, Jack, and Jo. And we all eat different foods, so it’s a challenge, and a bit time consuming, but worth saving the money from eating out.

6. Shopping.

I can proudly say I hate shopping. It gives me a headache. I wear the same thing all the time. If I need something, I just go on amazon and call it a day. But if you are the type that loves to go shopping for new clothing, furniture, or anything really, there are lots of resources to help save you a buck or two. Thrift shopping is a good one, buy or sell on craigslist, dollar store, take time to use coupons, there is also events called Clothing Swaps, so you can always find new clothing every week for literally no money at all. You guys know how I bought a new treadmill recently, and I am going to share with you how I funded it lol I literally went through the house, sold items that we no longer needed or no longer used (baby stuff, electronics, or accessories) and saved up enough to buy a treadmill. No shame in my game. We are pros and buying and selling to save money.

7. Budget your entertainment.

It’s ok to invest into a hobby or have fun with money, but try to include it into your budget. You guys know Jack is very much into Crossfit, and monthly fees can add up, but this is his passion, it’s what makes him happy, and he cannot live without it. So this is one of his priorities, and a investment in his health, so we include this in our budget as a necessity. I love doing arts and crafts and sewing, I include that in my budget for fun. Jo is starting to love blind bag toys which can really add up, so we limit her one new blind bag a month. My sister loves going to concerts, but she understands her limit and don’t go to the super expensive ones. So budget your fun.

8. Start planning for Christmas now!

If you are good with your budget, I highly highly recommend you start setting up your Christmas budget and Christmas shopping now! Something about the holidays really give you that spending itch lol. But there are people out there that are still paying off their holiday debt from years ago, which is a real shame. But if you plan your shopping list now, set up a cash only budget, then you can catch good deals now! There are some really good deals all year long, not just around the holidays or Black Friday. I have brand new toys hiding in the closet for the family from Prime Day (couldn’t miss those deals). Don’t wait until last minute. Plan carefully and spend a little each month, so you don’t spend a lot in December.

Be smart with your money, or you will have to work extra hard to pay off those silly mistakes. Thanks for taking the time to read, and hope you guys walk away with some tips on saving money. It’s ok to be a responsible adult 🙂 Take care friends!

xoxo

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Some of my favorite quotes:

A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.

Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.

Don’t spend money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t like.

-Dave Ramsey.

Paying Off Our Bad Debts

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When Jack and I were young, man oh man, did we make a lot of bad money choices. We didn’t even know how to budget. We were only 19 and 20 years old when we got married in 2007 and moved away to our first place together in Montgomery, Alabama. We thought having credit cards were normal and just a part of life…but no, sorry to break the news to you, it is not normal. Looking at our credit card debts in writing just made me wish it can disappear, but reality is, we had to deal with it.

How much debt did we have and how long did it take us to pay it off?

We had about $9,000 in credit card debt, $8,000 in student loan debt, and a combined $20,000 in car debt. So all together: about $37,000 in debt we needed to pay off. While hustling and making smart money choices, it took us about 6 years to pay off, and another 3 years to save enough for a home down payment.

While living in Montgomery, Alabama, we hustled hard to work on eliminating our credit card debts. I was working two jobs barely making anything, Jack was an airman barely making anything, and he was a full-time student! Montgomery, Alabama was a struggle, a real hit in the face of some reality. But during that time, Jack got deployed to overseas while I moved to California to live with family and worked two jobs, and that really helped us, we ended up saving a bit, enough to eliminate the credit card debt completely by 2010.

While living in Anchorage, Alaska, we still had our cars and student debts to pay off. Living in Alaska was a blessing; we made the most money there. It was a nice change to have money coming in versus barely bringing in anything. And this is where we first discovered Dave Ramsey (I’ll talk more about him later). But we also took advantage to save even more and made a lot of sacrifices; like living in a tiny apartment to save more money, at one point I was working 50 hours a week, and we barely saw each other. Jack even took a one-year tour to Korea, which helped the most. By 2013, we finally were able to pay off our car and student debt (hallelujah). All while I finished my AA in business, and Jack finished his BS in Information Technology.

Now that our bad debts were eliminated, we started saving. And we saved, saved, and SAVED! There were so many times I wanted to go shopping and splurge, or take a trip around the world. But we had a goal, and that goal was to save money to buy a house and start a family. And we did just that. I even kept an excel worksheet to keep track of our spending (yeah, we were serious).

This was a very slow process and it did not happen overnight. Being money cautious and budgeting became second nature to us. We always said no to outings (unless it was necessary), we barely ate out, or never went to the movies. We got to fit in a travel once a year to San Francisco to visit family. And we donated and gave to family or friends when they needed it. We had our priorities set but that didn’t stop us from having fun, we enjoyed ourselves in moderation.

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Fast forward to 9 years, I am so grateful that Jack are I are now financially stable. We now have great money skills, and we listen to Dave Ramsey to guide us along the way. If you haven’t heard of Dave Ramsey, I highly suggest you do your research; he is a big reason why we are so financially stable. We’ve now become homeowners 9 months ago, life has slowed down tremendously for us, and we are growing our family. And we are still in our 20’s! I even chose to be a stay at home mom. I don’t have to work, and I don’t need to work to prove I have good work ethic or prove I can financially provide for my family. I know I have good work ethic, and I know I can provide financially when the time is right. But since we planned ahead, my current goal in life right now is to be the best stay at home mommy and wife that I can be. Life is good when you and your spouse work as a team and are both on the same page, especially when it comes to money.

Paying off our debts was not fun, and it was not easy, it took a lot of will power and dedication. My biggest advice would be to PLAN AHEAD! We made payments more than the minimum the whole time to knock it out fast. Now that we don’t owe any debt (besides our home, but that’s good debt) we can breath. It is such a good feeling to not make any payments on things we’ve bought a long time ago that we probably don’t even have anymore. We’ve became very minimalistic with our material things. And we’ve been making updates to our new home and we pay everything in cash, it’s really a great feeling.

And it’s possible for anyone, whether you’re a doctor or work at McDonalds, anyone can become debt free and buy a house, as long as you make the right money choices. If you want to tackle your debt, I suggest following Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, that’s a good place to start.

Hope this helped, or inspired you to tackle your debts! Thanks for reading.

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