I was thinking about how we have been working so hard on becoming financially stable over the past couple of years. Reminiscing about where we had been, what we’ve accomplished and where we have yet to go. It made me remember how encouraging it was to read stories about real people – just like my husband and I – and what they had accomplished. In doing so, I realized that it was my turn to give back in this same way and share the story of our journey.
In November 2007, we purchased The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. We were so excited about what we hoped we could accomplish, that we read all of the books and watched the movies in less than a week. Then, we sat down with our worksheets in hand and got dove in with both feet.
The first step was to have a $1000 emergency fund. Well, that was no problem for us, as between some investments and our savings account, we had more than that in the bank. So immediately, we said “Check! Step 1 done!” We thought – wow – this is pretty easy. Then, began Step 2 – The Debt Snowball. At that moment, the sense of ease immediately disappeared.
Once we began to list out all of our debts (outside of our home), we got a sick feeling in our stomachs. As we pulled out each of the bills and listed the total due, we couldn’t believe that we had allowed ourselves to accrue this much debt – over $37,000. We knew that we had a bit, but not this much.
This mean it was time to do what we could to knock out our debts. We listed them in order of the least owed to the greatest amount owed (which was our minivan) and what we could do to eliminate as much as possible – as quickly as we could.
The first thing we did was to liquidate our investment and reduce our savings account down to $1000 – total. This was difficult to do. We had worked hard to build up those funds. However, when we thought about it – what sense did it make for us to have this money saved up – but still have debt? We were paying interest that we didn’t need to. So, once we came to terms with parting with our money, we immediately paid off a couple of bills and paid down others.
Since getting a part time job wasn’t going to work for either of us, we decided that we had to try to sell what we could. It is amazing how much “stuff” you accrue in your house. Things that mean nothing – they were that – things. So, we began to list items on Craiglsist and sold off a lot of things. My husband, who is an avid hunter, even sold a couple of his guns. All of this money was immediately applied towards our debt.
Although we paid off a few bills and reduced our overall debt in a relatively quick period of time, we felt that it wasn’t good enough. We knew we could do more. Enter – readjusting our budget by scaling back where we could.
We carefully reviewed every single line item, trying to see what we could do to shave money off our monthly obligations. Nothing could budge……except our discretionary spending. I took a long hard look at what we were spending at the grocery and various retail stores for our then, family of 4. I knew that I could do SOMETHING to make a change. But what? How could I save money?
Thus, my research and quest to save money on our grocery bills began…………. (to be continued next week).