Monday, July 28, 2008

YEEEEESSSS!!!! Debt-Free at Last

This past year has been the Year of the Finances at our household. After reading Dave Ramsey's books and being convicted in the Bible where it says, the borrower is servant to the lender, we took a hard look at our finances. Granted, at that point, we were not in as far over our heads as many folks, but none the less, it's a good feeling to owe nothing, except our newly negotiated, low fixed-rate mortgage.

Originally I started our family on this journey to prove to my husband that we could afford another child. That was all that was getting in the way of our adopting a child. Who would have thought that it would have changed us into Frugal Zealots!?!

How were we able to do this with rising prices on gas, groceries, and utilities? First off, I think there was a lot of divine intervention, but here's what we did to also help:

  • We refinanced our mortgage and home equity into one fixed-rate 15 yr. mortgage. This includes an escrow account, so we "prepay monthly" for our property taxes and homeowners insurance. Doing this step alone saves us almost $500 per month.
  • Hubby and I sat down and discussed all our little money drains. We decided to eliminate trash pick up because we recycle most everything, what we don't can be burnt. (Savings $15/mo)
  • We eliminated the outside security light (Savings $8 per month)
  • Since I only have a cell phone for emergencies (yes, really) I checked into Verizon's prepay and found that I could switch to a .99/day fee ONLY ON THE DAYS YOU USE IT! Plus .10/minute, if it's not another verizon customer. (Savings $15/month)
  • I re-evaluated some of the herbal supplements we were on and made adjustments (Savings $60/month)
  • We have been eating out less, sticking to a menu plan more, cooking from scratch (Savings: too much to guess!)
  • This past year I started couponing, specifically CVSing. I plan menus around the food I bring home. (Again Savings: too much to even guess!)
  • We started staying home more (this is especially good when homeschooling!)
  • Hubby has always taken his lunch and snacks to work.
  • We plant a garden. Although it's not the half acre we usually have, we have been blessed by an abundance of organic produce for eating healthy and canning.
  • I hang almost all of our laundry. Outside on nice days, inside on not-so-nice days. I have also been able to cut our washing down to one load every-other-day. When we return to wearing pants that will probably go back to a load a day again.
  • We've also been asking ourselves this question, how much is enough? Do I really need a full cup of laundry soap to wash? How much will work to get my clothes clean? Do I really need to have a light on, or is the natural sunlight enough? Is it really hot enough to turn the a/c on, or can I just open the windows? You get the idea!
  • We've been like the ants gathering our firewood for the winter.
  • I've been utilizing the public library and internet more for my homeschooling plans. I also bought a simple curriculum at a local school supply store for $20. Hey, it's only first grade!
  • I've been doing several online survey companies for cash, participated in the Rite Aid Single Check Rebate program, get free magazines for viewing commercials, sell our stuff on ebay,, amazon. Buying online using coupon codes.
  • I'm planning on having a yard sale soon, when I can get together with friends and family for the event.
  • I make our own laundry soap (when not having free from CVS), snacks, cloth napkins, newspapers for cleaning windows, cleaning supplies are usually just baking soda, vinegar and plain old water. And the list goes on and on.

Now I can smile a little more when I use that newly paid for stove, microwave, and refrigerator!

We will be spending the "payment" money we were using for school clothes, car insurance, and Christmas. Then hopefully beginning with next years' tax return, we can start attacking our mortgage payment.

These are just a few changes we've made. What have you done to offset the economy in your finances?


Jennifer said...

Congrats, it is a great feeling isn't it? You have made a lot of good changes. Way to go!

Calina said...

It's an awesome feeling! I hope we can always stay this way! As you know, it's hard with all the rising prices and buying special foods on top of that!