Baby Step 2 is so misleading. Oh, here are some baby steps to follow. No big deal. Yeah right! Getting out of debt is a HUGE deal! It should be called the Monster Step 2. I’ll even take the Adult Step 2. There is nothing baby about baby step 2, just saying.
When we decided to start our debt snowball back in March 2018, after my hubby lost his job, there were quite a few things I had to lacerate from our budget to make the numbers work in our favor.
We didn’t have cable, subscriptions or restaurant expenses like you read about in other dumping debt articles. To the “normal” person, we were pretty good with our money. So we had to reach deep and find what we thought were fundamentals, and take a hard look at its true value.
1) DollarTree Hauls: I will admit that I have a DollarTree fiend. I can’t believe this is only a dollar! I would drop at least $40 every time I walked into that place. I have to use an incredible amount of self control going to the DollarTree. I give myself a pep talk every time I open those doors. OK Liz, #1 do I really need it? #2 Do I already have something like this? #3 Is it worth storing and saving? Or will it just add to my clutter?
2) Homeschool Curriculum and Books: Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! I have to be very purposeful now on my curriculum choices. I am still learning. So far, I have discovered that there is no such thing as a perfect curriculum EVER! I have also found out that most of time, the things you already have (or the free stuff) plus a little tweaking, is exactly what your homeschool needs. So no more frivolous spending on flashy curriculum.
3) Co-ops and Extra Curricular Activities: We had to pull my daughter out of one of her co-cops. (Try to explain that one to a 6 year old.) It was about 35 minutes from our house and costing us $68 a month. We go to a homeschool group that meets up about 1 minute from my house once a week and that is enough. I am a teacher there so that adds an extra bonus on cost. Mothers there are excellent about finding free/ dirt cheap field trips that we can enjoy as a group. We would love for the kids to get into mixed martial arts of some sort and sports in the future but for now, we have to stay frugal and creative with our activities.
4) Gas: We budget EVERYTHING. So that means, we have a set amount we spend every month on gas. I have to be mindful of where I go now. I can’t go run errands all day without a strategically planned route. Most days I stay home because the cost to go somewhere is too great. I am fortunate to be walking distance from our public library and a playground. My hubby loves his F3 workouts but they meet up about 20 minutes from our house which means, even though the workout is free, the cost getting there is not-so he has to limit how often he goes.
5) Clothing: No, we don’t run around naked. As I have mentioned in the Make a Budget that Actually Works article, we choose to not have a clothing envelope. Why? because need and want can get kind of murky in this category. Do I need that cute new sundress? Probably not. But do my kids need shoes if they grew out of their last pair over night? Absolutely! We purchase what we need using our miscellaneous envelope and anything extra is considered a want (which comes out of our own monthly spending allowance of $20 each).
6) Cell Phone Service: Verizon works the best around here. Unfortunately, it was costing us $100 per month. So we tried both Red Pocket and Pure Talk USA. Both are perfectly fine companies and I suggest you switch if you live in an area where At&t works well. Our signal isn’t as strong here but works for what we need. We are now paying $41 a month for 2 lines! You can’t beat that!
7) Groceries: We were spending around $200-$250 per a week on groceries in the past. I didn’t take time to meal plan. I purchased the best protein and energy bars for snacks. And I did a TON of paleo baking. ( That almond flour ain’t cheap!)- all in the name of health. I proudly tell you that I now spend $100-$120 a week on groceries and feel that we eat just as healthy. It just takes a little effort but I am enjoying the challenge.
What is the hardest part about Baby Step 2 for you? What have you given up to get ahead?