So, my endeavor to educate myself in the area of finances began sometime last summer. Life was a bit stressful financially because we never had enough money it seemed to pay our bills (and I don't mean bills like cable or satellite or eating out, etc.)
We are not perfect but I do know there didn't seem like a lot of room to cut back. (although I did find ways! e.g. shopping for cheaper car insurance which in the end helped us get full coverage for only a little more than I was paying for only PLPD.)
Anyways, life wasn't working quite as well as I hoped it could/would when it came to our finances. I'm not complaining about my husband. He sacrifices amazingly for our family and is a very hard worker. However, we live in MI so it's not like people are handing out too many raises these days and I stay home with our kids so I'm not bringing in a pay check (which is o.k. if you've read my other posts about saving instead of earning.)
I'm always looking for new ways to do things or more ways to learn about something whether it be finances or health, etc. so I first started reading books by Dave Ramsey. This led us to start a plan to eliminate our debt. (Debt was never something we intended to have, but we made it possible by having a credit card. Now, this is not to start a debate out there about whether or not you should have a credit card. However, if you can't afford one, don't have one! By "not afford one" I mean if you can't pay that baby off completely every month then you can't afford it. You are just going to be killing yourself wth interest and more debt that you add to the card every month.) Now, if you are very disciplined and can pay it off...well, you still probably shouldn't have one. But that's just my opinion! =) I have to say, paying off our credit card was VERY FREEING!
Plus, it's like giving yourself a raise. We use the money that we used to have to put towards the credit card every month to help expand our grocery budget and we also put a little into savings. I will say, getting rid of the credit card was a bit scary for me. WHAT IF SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS TO US AND WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY???
Well, two things. I belong to an awesome God and I will trust Him to provide for our family and two, start SAVING money in an account of some sort. That way if an emergency comes up you will have already saved money for it. If you live on one income a good rule of thumb is to save 6 mths' worth of living expenses. Personally, are we there yet? No way, but little by little we try to add to our savings. It's a great feeling not having the credit card and living on borrowed money. Something to chew on if you haven't thought about it much yet.
So, anyways, Davey Boy got us going on the budget so we could tell our money where to go instead of our money telling us what to do. Then after I finished reading several of Dave's books I came across books by Ellie Kay. I devoured them! They were so fun, practical and sensible I couldn't get enough of them. They had great ideas that I readily put into practice.
Are we where I want to be yet? No, but are we better off than we were this time last year? I would say so because we are living within our means. It is not always easy but it is exciting to see the ways that God fills in the gaps. I will continue to strive to do a better job with our finances. I hope that I can continue to improve on my grocery shopping so that I will have more money to devote to healthier foods. Bringing healthier food to the table is something that I will continue to find ways to make work. This will probably present challenges but I feel it's a worthy endeavor and a gift I can give my family.
So, if any of you reading this have a tight grocery budget and feel you just can't buy healthier food for your family, try to be encouraged! You can do it, you just have to work at it a bit. I use coupons like crazy and combine them with sales and that has helped me save money so that most weeks I can go buy fresh fruit and veggies. Sometimes it's still tough and I can't do that every week but thankfully I have been able to stock up on the frozen ones and they can get us by.
You should definitely consider using coupons (even for organic items!) I once got about 6 boxes of organic rice for FREE. I was ecstatic the first time I used a lot of coupons combined with sales. I literally cut my bill in half! I spent $150 and saved $150. It was super exciting and so encouraging. So, I hope that encourages you as well! Good night!