At the end of last month, I was looking over our budget, trying to figure out ways that we could get out of debt sooner than March of 2015.
I came up with a few ways:
1. Sell my coveted Alt Summit ticket.
I did, & it was hard. I mean, really hard.
But. Savings from not going to Alt? About $1400.
2. Figure out a way to increase our income by $600 a month.
Not sure if this is going to work, but I hope to find a teaching job in Texas–a few yoga classes a week could mean a couple of hundred bucks a month. I’m also thinking of adding a paper route–the boys are old enough to help, & I think it would be a great lesson in teaching them how to work. I also think if we tell them why we’re doing it (so we can get out of debt), they’ll have a better understanding of why it’s a good idea to be debt-averse.
If we can figure out how to scrape together an extra $600 a month, that’s $7200 in years time.
3. Reduce our date/fun budget to $100 a month.
Savings? $1800 a year.
4. Cut our grocery budget.
We used to spend $800-$900 a month on groceries, for our family of 6.
This month? Our budget is $0., and so far, so good.
How we are doing it: rice, beans, & canned items from my parent’s ample food storage.
My parent’s have enough rice & beans stocked up to feed a family of 4 for at least a good 6 months. They can’t make a dent in it, so I figured we’d give it a try. I am amazed at how far a bag of rice goes. The 30 lb. bag I opened at the beginning of the month looks like we’ve hardly touched it, & we’ve eaten rice every day this month. I’m now realizing why a good portion of the world subsists on rice–it’s cheap, it’s filling, & despite some to the contrary, it actually does have nutritional value (& I’m not just talking brown rice).
I’ve never wanted to touch our grocery budget. I see money spent on food as the one splurge in our life. Good wholesome food, is worth it, I’ve told myself. But I have to be honest–it’s a BIG splurge. I admit, I’ve been a bit of a stickler on this point–spend money on high quality, organic (when possible) foods, & whatever extra cost is worth the benefit of better health/longevity. I’m now realizing that this is not necessarily true. I fear I’ve bought into a bit of a half-truth. Yes, it is important to eat wholesome foods. But I don’t need to spend $800 a month on those foods, & there doesn’t even have to be a great deal of variety to be healthy.
One the best examples of the benefits of simple eating, is from The China Study. Dr. Campbell points out that the rural Chinese subsist on a simple diet primarily of rice & vegetables & this diet has served them well–heart disease, diabetes, & obesity, among other diseases of the Western world are virtually non-existent.
I’ve known this for a good long while.
Yet, I’m lured by the variety that exists at the supermarket (red quinoa, black forbidden rice, gluten-free flours, cashews, non-dairy ice creams) & I love cooking & trying new recipes. I’m a sucker for pinning recipes & collecting cookbooks. But this hobby is expensive (not to mention time consuming) &, is not crucial to my health & well-being.
I thought, what if, what if, we really did just eat very simply? How low could I get our grocery budget, realistically?
So this month, I decided I would not go grocery shopping. At all. And see if I could live off what is in my parent’s food storage. I cringed at the thought of no fresh fruits & vegetables. No tofu or daiya cheese. No Whole Soy yogurt. No curly kale, oranges, or fresh pineapple. But we’re doing it. Half-way into this “experiment” & I’m pleasantly surprised at how simple it is & how not deprived me or my kids feel.
When we move to Texas in December, our new food budget will be $175 & will consist of beans/lentils, oatmeal, rice & potatoes, & a small amount vegetables & fruits & no room for any food splurges (like soy yogurt).
But the payoff? If we can actually live on $175 a month for food, that would save us $600-$700 a month!
That’s a whopping $7500+ in a years time.
5. Hold off on buying a second car.
Joseph will need a commuter car as we will not be living on base when we live in San Antonio. We had budgeted $7500 to buy a reliable used Toyota or Honda, but then decided we could get a reasonable, still in fairly good condition (although higher milage) car, for $4000. That would save us $3500. But then my parents offered to let us borrow their Toyota for the next year & a half while they are living in Mexico (they will be serving an LDS mission). This will save us $7500.
All in all, these “little” tweeks (a total of $25,400) make a difference of getting out of debt a year earlier (!).
No longer will we have to wait until March of 2015 to be rid of our $61K in debt.
If we can stick with changes, we will be debt-free by March 2014, only 15 months from now.
Have you ever made hard choices to reduce your spending so you could get out of debt or save for something you wanted?