Thursday, February 18, 2010

Being Debt Free...not Impossible...

I recently recieved an email from someone who challenged me. They said that people don't really live like me and become debt free. I am not going to get into the details of the email, but I am going to comment here on my blog. You can skip over this post if you are just looking for the deal posts.

We, in the last 9 years, have had major changes in our lives. My husband spiral fractured his leg about 5 years ago the same week we had our second child. Then, I went through college. We bought a house, on top of $50,000 in credit card, lawyer bills and living expenses, we also had a ton of medical expenses and some college costs. We knew we had to really work hard if we wanted to be debt free and have money for a future. IF you want to be debt free or have a savings for your future, and you don't make much money, you have to make some serious changes in your paradigm.  You need to decide if you REALLY, REALLY want to be debt free. This is a lifestyle change and choice, it's not magic.

Here are the major things we did.
1.Transferred all balances on our credit cards to zero percent offers. This gave us time to work on the balances. WE DIDN'T USE THE CREDIT CARDS! If we didn't have the money, we had to figure something out!
2. Used coupons and stockpiled. If there was a good sale, we bought what we would need for 6 months. Papertowels, shampoo, light bulbs...anything that wasn't perishable, we stockpiled it cheap!.
3. We took things that were offered for free. Many times we were offered things, and we took them. If we didn't need them, we would find someone who could. People began to learn that we would take used things. I found neighbors who would give me beautiful hand me down clothes. I found a church member who would give me hand me down work clothes.  We were always gracious and thankful for someone helping us. Don't turn your nose to used items, everything is used after you take it home from the store! ALWAYS SAY THANK YOU to the person who is giving something!
4. We found support. I joined online forums to discuss frugal ideas and learned grocery shopping senerios!
5. GIVE UP ON NAME BRANDS!!! After working in the grocery business for years, I know the tricks of the trade. Many name brand companies sell to ALDI's and other generic brands. So, many times the products taste the same!!!  You can cut down a lot of your expenses just by trying generic.
6. Any extra money, put towards debt. My husband and I did odd jobs. Petsitting, babysitting, computer work, cleaning...anything for some extra money. That money went to pay debt.
7. Do everything possible to NOT get behind on the bills. If your late fee is $15.00, and you are late 6 months of the year, you are paying an extra $90.00 a year to get NOTHING!!! This means plan your budget!! Also, think about this if it's 3 or 4 late bills each month!!!
8. We got rid of satillite. Yes, it was drastic at first. But it saved us $65 a month!! And it helped us become better readers and board game players. :) Also, you aren't being tempted by advertisments for things you JUST HAVE TO HAVE!!!!
9. We took care of our cars. A big major expense that isn't typically budgeted is when the car breaks down.
10. Refunds!! Do the good refunds! Menards, Walgreens, etc. I made over $400 in cash back last year!!
11. Tax Refunds. Any money you get back should be put on the debt.  That "extra" money is not for you to buy something else, pay off what you already bought!

I hope this post doesn't sound angry, it's not at all! I am just surprised with the excuses some people use for being unhappy and broke. The email sounded so hopeless, yet the person who is unemployeed and homeless insisted they had to "treat" themselves to things. The best treat you can give yourself in your life is being financially secure!  The best thing in life is knowing you can take EXTRA wealth and share it with your church, or other worthy cause!

Recently, before Christmas, I was able for the first time, to make a large donation to my favorite charity. I am not telling you this to get accolades, I am telling you this because life CHANGES dramatically when you aren't feeling overwhelmed by debt.

Again, IF I CAN DO IT...anyone who has the will and the drive can too!!


Jess said...

Great post - having kicked out a lot of debt ourselves, we agree that "treating yourself" at the expense of not putting that money towards debt is a bad idea! It's awesome that you changed your lifestyle to fit your budget - and now can live a lifestyle without debt! Praise God for this blessing!

Nick + Amber said...

Frugal Mommie - keep up your good work. Many things you mention, my husband and I do, not because we're trying to get out of debt, but because we don't want to be in it! We are preventing, rather than making changes when we're desperate. I admire anyone who lives on a tight budget and who also gives abundantly from their heart whether they have 'a lot of things' or not. We try to be good stewards of our money and time, and I see you do too! Keep it up! I enjoy reading your blog for deals, but also for your stories! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I have not written to you in awile but I still check out your finds on a daily basis. Thank you for all you do to help us all live more frugally.I totally agree with your comment on treating! Your so correct with that! What a treat to be free and that wieght lifted off. I have found couponing a lot of work, but so worth it. I love trying to maximize my money by smart shopping. Things are hard to give up, but if you put your thoughts in the right place you realize things you have never seen before, such as that board game sitting on shelf collecting dust.You can't put a price tag on time spent with family! Anyway, Thankyou again!-Nichole

Dixie said...

I agree with everything you said! You are an inspriration to me and countless others, I'm sure.

busy mom said...

I have posted this link for this post to my blog. I wanted to pass it on.

pennyscents said...

Hi Angie,
Great post! The truth is that most people don't live like this. Most people live in houses that they can't afford, get a new car every few years that they will never own (the bank does), and use there charge cards as if they were cash, etc.... That will all catch up to someone eventually. I applaud you for getting through all that you have, and taking it to better yourself. There are so many people that want someone else to come in and fix their financial problems for them. Either the government, relatives, of bankruptcy. Don't get me wrong some people really do need help, and do need to file bankruptcy sometimes. But, seriously how many of those people that needed that help or hand out actually did everything you did before they got it? My guess is not too many. If someone files bankruptcy without doing everything they can to get out of THEIR debt that they created irresponsibly (in some cases) then it is just a different form of stealing. I personally know people that have a cell phone, and cable. Yet they are able to get assistance from the government. That is wrong! I've been there my self too, so I'm not just talking the talk. I was a single mother making $7.13 an hour. The only help that I got was daycare assistance, so that I could work. I actually would have made more money on welfare then I would've working. But where would that get me in life? No where! Doing this has been such a blessing for me!!!

This is the question that I ask people when introducing them to this.
If you were offered a part time job where you worked an hour a day and one day a week for a month, and you were paid $200.00 to $250.00 a month for it, would you take it?

TTYL! :)

Frugalmommie as been on WITI FoxNews6 Television Milwaukee, WTMJ620 Radio, Several local newspapers, The Wisconsin State Journal, and is in a feature article in All You Magazine in the April 2009 edition.