Staying Sane Through Saving

One of the problems in life is the perpetuity of it. We all have routines. Those who brush their teeth twice a day will continue to do so twice a day. If you chew with your mouth open when you eat, chances are it will take an act of God to keep you from noshing with annoying noises. Non-morning people have a hard time getting happy before 9 am, while morning people can’t stop annoying non-morning people. The circle of life seems to spin at a dizzying rate, while we continue to do the same things we’ve always done day in and day out. It takes conscious effort to change.

Karen and I woke up to this fact. It took emergencies to kick us in the butt and realize that one more and we were down to zero. So we changed our mind about the way we spend money on not only non-essentials, but also the essentials. It was time to trim any fat hanging out, and there seems to be plenty. An emergency won’t look so forlorn while trying to do something different. Doing the same things over and over got us into this mess, so we started looking at bills that didn’t have to be the same over and over.

Gas: it’s been the bane of anyone who has a forty-five minute to an hour commute or longer every day since 9/11. There just doesn’t seem to be any getting out of spending the same amount of money on gas week after week if you commute quite a distance between home and work. Or is there? Better gas mileage is what I need!

Many of us start thinking more efficient gas mileage means getting an oil change, or maybe a new car! It’s crazy how we can justify it, but we do. For some reason people think getting a new fuel-efficient car justifies the car payment; as if the $60 savings in gas every month will eventually pay the $230 car payment every month, but it doesn’t..the math doesn’t work. That’s probably an entry for another day.


Why not cut the gas mileage in half on a car I already own by car pooling with someone in my neighborhood? I’m not sure why I’ve never taken the idea seriously before, but I haven’t. “I don’t want to bug anyone.” I think to myself. FYI, if any readers out there want to bug me by telling me they can help me save $720 a year, feel free. By the way, that’s a calculation I figure I will be saving carpooling between me and my sister-in-law, who works across the parking lot from my office. I literally can throw a rock and hit her office window from the parking lot. We both need extra money, she gets off the same time I do almost every day and it helps take a whole extra car off the road (for all you environmentalists out there). I had to think really hard to find a reason NOT to car pool. I have to get up a little earlier, but I probably should be anyway. I’m one of those non-morning people.

Next up, phone prices. Yeah, if you have AT&T or Vorizon, you know what I’m talking about. They have good service, but they’re proud of it, and you’re paying for it. When my phone bill is higher than some car payments I’ve had in my life, there’s a problem. So my wife and I looked at some of that precious data and decided that we would be able to get by on 2 GB less. Shared data of 3 GB for us will save about 20 bucks. Since AT&T have put out a new promotion for no more overage charges, we are happy to let them help! So, multiply that by 12 months and we’ll have saved about $240.

Between the two, I’m looking to save almost $1000. This will meet the first of Dave Ramsey’s baby steps for us. Have a thousand dollars for emergencies. It will mean scraping up and NOT SPENDING the amount that we save, but it will be there. I’m starting to get used to the idea that it will take a while, but I also know that it will be here before I expect it, because good behaviors like this will compound and have ripple effects. It won’t just be all the money we save, but the integrity we receive by continuing the fight this fight. To some, $1000 isn’t much, but for those who feel we are sacrificing our privacy on a ride after a long day, or a few pictures or videos of our favorite media, for normal people – like my wife and I, it will be well worth the saving.

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The Foot of the Mountain

Lost. That’s how I feel when it comes to our money, and our budget, absolutely lost.

It’s different when my wife and I have just graduated from Financial Peace University, created a budget, paid our bills and put money in the bank. Life is good during a time like that. We got some extra income in because we are reaped what we sowed. Then we decided we are ready to buy a house because we had some extra cash, and it’s probably the next best thing to do. After all we don’t want to be retired and still trying to pay off our mortgage. Along with our sons who were getting old enough to be pretty independent, we just had a new baby girl, I had to put her in her carrier in my truck to move the last load from our little rented duplex to our new four bedroom home. I was all smiles.

Looking back on it now, I can see where our mistakes were. We should have stayed put. Karen just had the baby and we had forgotten how expensive it was to just do that. I should have let life reach some kind of equilibrium. I should have let the money we received grow in a bank account somewhere and used it as a down payment LATER, when we were ready. Life could have been different. The moment we signed those papers, we started rolling down hill, and we never recovered, not really. The utilities were different, the travel was different, the money was different, we never set the budget in stone again, and we spent crazy amounts of money to make an older house half way livable so we weren’t spending so much on energy bills and the kids had a warm, or cool place to sleep depending on the season.

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Now as I take a very clear look at our REAL money, not what I think is there, not what I think we spend, but what we actually do, and I see what we actually have. Now, five years later I’m staring at a budget that looks like this…
I’m pretty stressed. I’m pretty horrified.

Loki’s our dog by the way….

 

 

 

When I look at this budget and list, it’s not a huge deal, at least I don’t think it is. There’s nothing on here that is just crazy, other than phones and car insurance that I will be posting about later on. To be honest, we have been coasting so long with what we had, and it may have been just enough, that when an emergency hit (I’ve had some medical issues that needed some attention), and the car broke down in the same week, well, the avalanche stopped. There’s not really anywhere else for it to go; we are at the bottom of the mountain. Oh sure, we have a little in retirement accounts, but we know that if we go there, that’s just going to prolong our perpetual bloodletting.

We have decided enough is enough. This blog is a tool my wife and I are using to get our bank accounts back under control. It’s not about sympathy, we are suturing our wounds, and plan to make this blog our accountability check. I plan to give at least a report two or three times a week on what we are doing to crawl from a money hole back into the light. If you are family and friends, encourage us. If you are someone just like us, follow our lead, it’s time we get wise about spending and do what needs to be done to stop the madness. It’s time to start crawling back up the mountain to conquer it. We hope and pray that as we find hope, and we will, that you do too. We’re starting with a budget of $20 for savings. If the Lord’s willing, and I believe He is, it’s time to make it grow.