Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared ways to get on track with your finances in parts one and two of this series. Today I’d like to share a few more things (and maybe reiterate a couple) that can really make a difference when you are trying to “find” and save money.
How can I dig out of this hole?
Eat beans and rice. Not even kidding. I know I mentioned it before–more than once–but really. It’s cheap and a pretty good source of fuel. We ate it more times in a month than I care to admit. The big kids still joke about it. Or when they complain, Daddy reminds them that we could be eating beans and rice. Really it’s not as bad as all that. I have finally found some recipes that are really pretty good! One in particular that everyone loved is black bean and rice enchiladas. You’re welcome! Substitute as you need to…it’ll all turn out just fine.
Meal plan. I hated meal planning, but I had to to make my grocery budget last. First, I looked at the sales, then planned as best as I could according to those. Every meal was planned, including snacks between meals. I had a spreadsheet that I entered the item and out to the side, the price. With Excel, formulas to calculate the total are a cinch, so I knew what to expect at the store.
Freeze spending. If it’s not absolutely necessary, don’t buy it. Really take time to reassess needs vs. wants. We really don’t need all we think we need. Promise. Take a step back, think on it a day or two, then purchase if it really is a need. Just don’t spend hastily.
Shop used. Thrift stores. Consignments stores or sales. Second-hand appliance stores. Seriously. You’d be amazed at what you can find in these places, and usually, in good condition. Just know that sometimes you gotta dig, so be prepared for it not to be an in and out kind of thing.
Extracurricular cut. This isn’t popular. But if you can’t feed the kids and keep the lights on, you might need to let something go. Baseball season will come around again. Vacation can wait a year. True story. Been there.
Stay home. This kind of goes with cutting the extracurricular activities. If you don’t have money for gas, you might need to stay home. I have had to call a friend and say, “Hey, I really don’t have the money for gas this week to do what we planned. I’m sorry.” Just ask my sister. 😉
Cut recurring expense. Anything that recurs each month that you can cut, do. Cable–we haven’t had cable in years. Seriously, years. We cut it way back when I came home, 7+ years ago. If you have more than one phone, cut what you don’t use or need.
Sell some stuff. It’s true that most of us have “stuff” laying around, cluttering up our houses and lives just because…because someone gave it to us…because maybe I’ll fit into it again one day…because I might need it for something someday. If you haven’t used it the last year or so, chances are you are not going to. Sell it. You’ll be surprised at how much stuff you can part with and how much money you can make doing it.
Just say no. Bottom line. Sometimes you have to tell people no. After church, someone comes up to you and says, “Hey, we are all going to Burger King for supper. Ya’ll wanna come?” I always want to go, but there have been many, many times that our budget didn’t allow us to go. In the end, it’s all gravy. We ate supper anyway, and we lived to tell our rice and beans story!
Get a bigger shovel. Maybe for a time, just a season, you need to take on extra jobs to bring in just a little extra to get this debt under control. I read about a family once that worked together on the weekends cutting wood and delivering it, as firewood, to well-established neighborhoods. It was their side hustle. They all worked together and saw amazing things happen in their finances!
All hands on deck! It’s time to unite and dig out of the hole.
Bonus Tip: Get help. If you have to, ask for help. We hate stooping that low because we are supposed to be self-sufficient, right? Get that out of your head! I know it can be embarrassing, but sometimes, you just need help. Maybe you need help with the kids. Could it be you need help with getting all this budget stuff in check? You might need help buying groceries or keeping the lights on. Reach out to someone you trust. If you don’t let them know where you are, they won’t know how to help.
I know, and it stinks! However, the ugly truth is that almost always, we got ourselves into the financial dump we now find ourselves in.
Maybe we had too much fun on the front end which got us into the mess in the first place. Unfortunately, everything costs us something, either on the front end or the back end. Eventually, we have to pay up. Personally, after digging out of the hole, I’d rather take the hit up front.
Guess what. If you discipline yourself now, you’ll be thanking yourself later, and you’ll be wondering why it took you so long to get on track with your finances in the first place. Ultimately, sacrifice is the only way to get back on track! Uncle Dave (as he is called in our house) always say, “Live like no one else, so that you can live like no one else.” We have adopted that motto, and when we want something or are frustrated with where we find ourselves financially, we say it–out loud!
Like I mentioned in part 1 of the “get on track with your finances” series, once you get the momentum going and that adrenaline kicks in, you won’t want to stop. You’ll see that savings account build and those credit balances drop, and you’ll never want to look back.
Make the best of the journey
Some of you may be saying, “That sounds just awful!” Honestly, I get that, but it doesn’t have to be all boring and bland. Be creative. Find fun free or cheap things to do in your area. We did all the free things we could do. Things like:
- playing at the park (any park, all parks, lots of times)
- visiting the library–my kids LOVE the library, and not just because we are homeschool nerds. The library actually has lots of fun things to do and tons of programs going on, especially in the summer!
- watching a $2 movie at the theater.
- visiting out of town family and crashing on their floor or in their extra rooms.
- having game nights regularly (budget to buy a new game every few months).
- enjoying a nearby beach or lake or river.
- making a slip-n-slide out of a piece of plastic and a sprinkler.
Really, there are so many more things to do than you might realize. Check out this old-fashioned summer bucket list for more ideas of free or cheap things you can do to make cutting back on spending not so unbearable!
And if you get nothing else, remember…
Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else! (Dave Ramsey)