I am going to attempt to write this article, however keep in mind that is coming from me, a seasoned, professional “Debt-knower”. So do I qualify or should I just list this under the humor section? For years I have wanted to know the secrets of making money and keeping it. If there was a prize awarded for anyone that could accumulate the most debt in a one week span, I would go home with the gold medal!
First I am going to say, I am no expert on this title, what was it again? Oh yes, “How to pay off your debts without coming up short”. Well here I go…I am a mother of four children, as stated in several other articles I have written. My oldest is attending college and the next one down is preparing to graduate High School this June and my two boys, 9 and 12 are professional eaters and injury makers, so this said I guess you know most of my bills are spent at the grocery store and the ER.
I am homeschooling my youngest son, so my husband is the bread winner, I am just the bread maker. We own four cars, one motorcycle, 3 cats, one dog, a play station, guitar hero and all the games that go with those silly things, although I must say that I have taken a liking to Ozzy Osbourne and have become a true Rock Star by now for as often as I hear guitar hero.
My husband holds down a full time job, allowing himself one day off a week, usually a Sunday. We have never really been good at staying tight on a budget, now that I think of it, we have never really had one on paper, we would just open our wallets or log on to the on-line banking to see if we had money that week or not. I don’t recommend doing that though. It wasn’t until things were getting crazy, how were we supposed to keep on living this way? Something was about to give and in a hurry!
We sat down and examined our finances, or lack of, we discussed the areas that could be worked on, all of them, and realized it was time to start cutting back wherever possible. How we did it may or may not work for everyone, and budgets are nice if you can stick to them, we could not. I have read many “How To” books or watched a zillion “Improve Your Life” paid programming shows and just once would I like to hear from real people, with real problems, like me. So now that you understand my article is not a “How To” rather a “This Worked For Us” article. It is being told to you from a real person, me.
* Start with an “Idea” You have an idea it is time to get finances in order and find more productive ways for your life.
* Create a “Plan” You plan on spending less money on these you do not need. I could have stated that differently such as, “Don’t buy what you don’t need” but that is not real life, we all buy what we don’t have from time to time, even people on strict budgets. But we can spend less on those things.
* Itemize all your expenses in writing, like a grocery list. The list should include not only your obvious expenses, but also those “unexpected” expenses, such as car repairs, ER bills or medical insurance co-pays, Birthday Presents, especially the forgotten birthdays like your son’s classmate and include just a little extra for those guy or girl’s night out, even as rare as they may be, they do come up at some point.
* Take a permanent marker ( I’ll explain the marker later) and start crossing out or making “adjustments” to your list. For example if your cable bill is $150.00, question why, is it because you are ordering movies every Friday night? Or have you ordered the deluxe package? Life will go on without HBO or The Sopranos, trust me, eventually you start to not even miss their violent and disturbing ways.
* Take the remainder of this month to “splurge” sort of a “Going Out” party. But as soon as the clock strikes midnight, fun is over! Put your idea, plan, itemized list and permanent marker to use. With a revised expense list and clean slate in front of you, you are now ready to make a stand, become a part of the Elite group of responsible people, feel proud, strong and best of all…DETERMINED!
Now I told you earlier that I would explain the permanent marker theory, so information you shall have. Using a permanent black marker to “permanently” cross through un needed luxuries of your partying life will “erase” or “remove” them for good, it symbolizes closure, finalization to something. To undo it, you would need to make a whole new list, just say no, be strong! With your new perspective and your new expense account, you can start feeling wiser, better about yourself and even more sure of yourself.
People often ask me, “Erin, don’t you miss those little extras though?” I have to honestly answer no. I was able to cut out expensive cell phone bills (and contracts) by switching to Virgin Mobile prepaid cell service, which actually has more to offer than the contract companies themselves. I cut my direct TV bill in half by accepting ONLY the basic package, and when I realized that I don’t even attempt to watch all the channels I have, no brainer! I included my Internet onto my phone bill (lan line service) to keep all those services into one area, one bill. I learned that my utilities could be paid on-line, which allowed me to “split” them up without interruption. Oh, and I saved the best for last…drum-roll please? My groceries. I now shop at 99 cents store for toiletries, paper goods, batteries, canned goods and even my produce, then I return to the major chain store for my milk, meats, frozen goods, toothpaste and medicine cabinet items. I discovered that 60 items at the 99 cents store was really $60.00,no lie folks! So I could go spend another $200.00 (family of 6) at Albertson’s or wherever and come away with a grand total of $260.00, which would have normally been $425.00 on any given week.
I am sure that I could come up with a few more tricks, but I am still learning myself and rather than being accused of not taking my own advice, I will stop where i know I have done good. I truly wish you all the best of luck and please, if you come up with anything to add, let me know. I am a gracious learner.