A few years ago my husband and I found ourselves in a situation like many other young couples today. We bought a house before we were fully ready and started having babies. Before we knew it we owed more on our credit cards monthly than we could afford to pay. Every penny we made went to the cost of living and sometimes that was still not enough. That feeling of never getting ahead started to seep into our bones, and every choice we made seemed to make it worse.
We were blessed by a good friend who paid for us to take a course called Financial Peace. Our journey towards financial freedom is still ongoing, but we are so much further ahead now than we were a few years ago. Sticking to a budget is just one step in financial freedom.These are just a few things things that have helped us or continue to help us stick to our budget.
No Credit Cards: We actually got rid of our credit cards before we started our financial peace journey so we have been without a credit card for over four years now. If you keep them around for “emergencies” you will end up using them. Nothing makes you stick to a budget quite like the knowledge that when the money in the bank is gone you can’t pay the bills or buy that next purchase. It is hard at first, but you can live and live well without a credit card.
Plan Your Meals: A big part of many budgets is food. With ever rising grocery prices I had found it hard pressed to get out of the grocery store for under $200.00 a week for our family of five. I have tried several different routes and this is the one that works best for us. First of all I use a site called Southernsavers.com. I just don’t have the time to sift through a dozen coupon sites and figure all that out. She does the work for you and it’s free. Next: Twice a week I get together with my friend Jenny and we spend a day making two weeks worth of freezer meals. We assemble crockpot meals and freezer meals. There are a ton of freezer meal ideas on Pinterest. Planning meals has trimmed back my grocery budget even more.
Plan What You Buy: Sticking to your budget also requires planning other purchases as well. Here are a few ways we save money on clothes. Don’t be too proud to take hand me downs. Share clothes with your friends and they will share back. Sometimes you can find good deals at garage sales and church sales. If you want new, watch for sales. All stores have them. Lastly don’t forget to take advantage of Craigslist for buying and selling things you no longer need or want. Whether you get a deal on a purchase or get extra cash on a sale, they both help you stick to your budget.
More Budget Saving Tips: Most of all, budgeting is about planning. The better you plan, the easier it is to stick to your budget. Sit down monthly and write it out. I recommend taking a financial class. Having taken a couple of different ones, I can vouch that Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace is a really good one. They give you tons of advice and tips plus lots of budgeting forms too.
My family and I started off with credit card debt and are headed towards being debt free. We still have a ways to go,still tweaking from time to time. Our credit cards are paid off and we were finally able to afford health insurance last year. This year it’s all about saving more and paying off the car. We have had some setbacks, but every time have been able to pay for them and start back up on our journey without going in to more debt. We don’t have the nicest furniture or a lot of fancy things, but like Dave says, ” If you live like no one else later you will be able to live like no one else!” More importantly than that I am more hopeful about our kids future and that makes me look forward to the days ahead instead of dreading them.