Thanks for creating this discussion. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone else’s stories.
Here is mine:
After clawing myself out of $15,000 in debt in my 20’s the hard way (moving back home, having no life), I figured, to paraphrase Scarlet O’Hara “As God is my witness, I’ll never be in debt again!” I met my husband, who, while he had no savings, also had never owned a credit card. And we were neither of us into skiing or owning Hummers, so I thought we were good. Good enough for us, anyway.
Fast forward three years, a house, one kid, another kid, a house addition, and we were still good. No savings, and $9,000 surfing on a 0% interest card from home improvements, but never carrying a balance on an interest bearing, and well aware our standard of living was better than 99% of the world, if not exactly going to impress anyone in town. I was always half-assed frugal. My husband would get annoyed when he saw my dog-eared copies of The Tightwad Gazette out, because he knew for the next few weeks I would be on his case about lunches out or turning the thermostat up. And it never stuck. I figured, since I wasn’t taking my kids to Aruba and spending $100 a month on computer lessons for my five year old(what kid needs computer lessons? They figure it all out on their own. You have to pay them to get OFF the computer!), any little treat I got for them (or me) was fine. Our debt was “good” because it was from home improvements, and we’d pay it off some time soon. No worries.
Did I mention my husband works in one of the many fields dependent on the housing industry? So, you can see where this is going. At the beginning of this year he received a 25% pay cut. So, in January, I got freaked out and I got serious. I’ve tracked every cent in Quicken, joined Hot Coupon World to cut my grocery bill in half, cut out all spur of the moment meals out that end up just being lame, purged all the crap out of my house, started taking better care of everything, used the library, used the park, etc. I found Your Money or Your Life to be eye opening on how I spend money. I’m a stay at home mom now, and all of the money my husband makes is truly OUR money, but I started saying to myself “is X really worth three hours of his work?” Frequent stops here and other sites like LLNO & Simple Dollar have really helped keep me inspired and kept me from feeling sorry for myself. Many people are struggling to get by on so much less that we have.
All of these changes have helped make us able to live very well on the reduced income, plus chip away steadily at our debt. This week my husband found out he’s getting an additional 20% pay cut. But the difference in my attitude this time from the last cut is huge. I know we can survive. Maybe even get more "blackbelt" frugal! And my husband is getting ready to make a career switch into a field he truly loves (music), earning a salary that a year ago I would have thought untenable, but will actually be a step up from this latest cut.
Thanks for reading!
Have you paid off your debt? Managed to save for your dream home? Had an awesome investment pan out? Share your personal finance success stories here.
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