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Anyone else ready to GET OUT OF DEBT? #2

post #1 of 139
Thread Starter 
OK ladies here's another thread for us to keep ourselves motivated and hopefully have some more mamas join us .

So, what did you do this week toward your goal?
post #2 of 139

Got a question

How would you budget $100/week for groceries for two adults? The baby (8 months old) doesn't really eat anything yet. Is that a realistic amount? Can anyone suggest a meal plan for that amount? That also needs to cover things like TP, detergent, etc. We eat pretty much anything so there are no restrictions to take into account. We are not eligible for any assistance like food stamps or WIC but I am considering calling a food pantry--I just heard that you mostly get yucky food anyway. Spam and the like. Our situation is getting a bit desperate--DH's unemployment benefits end next week and our monthly expenses exceed my income by roughly $800. Really don't know what to do. We have already held a yard sale, sold things on eBay etc. and have a little bit of a cushion from our tax return but it will run out pretty fast. Thanks for any help.
post #3 of 139
wakeupmama, i think you should be easily able to do $100 for 2 adults. We eat almost all organic and get by for less than that. I have not kept exact tally (though am starting) and i think we do about $60 or so. This includes some meat as well. What i have started to do is plan our weekly meals. So, Monday nights, I survey my fridge and cabinets to see what we have. I write that down. Then I go through some cookbooks or my mental file to find recipes will incorporate those things we already have and make a list of what we'll need. That's what I buy. Lunches are leftovers, and we basically eat eggs, oatmeal, or cold cereal for breakfast. If you don't buy organic and eat veggie, I think you'll get by fine. good luck.
post #4 of 139
Oh definitely. Now don't ask me for details: Dh does the shopping and most of the cooking. But we definitely spend less than that. We probably spend about $50-60/week, and DD *does* eat alot, lol. We buy our produce from the local farmer's market, waaay cheaper. MUCH. We do buy organic milk, yogurt, and eggs. We rarely buy meat, but we look for sales on organic meats and buy up some then and freeze it. We eat lots of lentils and beans and rice, all inexpensive items.

You can do it!
post #5 of 139
The key to keeping your grocery budget down is to stick with whole foods rather than convenience foods and to take advantage of sales. If you know you love tuna and it's on sale for $.49 a can, then buy enough to get you through to the next sale. Buy store brands--they are often cheaper than name brands, even when the name brand is on sale or you have a coupon. Some supermarkets have very high-quality store brands, and others don't. It's just live and learn. Eat oatmeal (not instant!) for breakfast rather than cold cereal--it's cheaper, healthier and can be prepared in the microwave in two minutes.

For us, it's not so much about getting out of debt as not falling into it. We're living on a knife's edge right now--just barely breaking even. I really want to be able to start saving money.
post #6 of 139
Thread Starter 
For groceries- I am always trying to lower that one expense, but it's hard, right now I am spending about $80 a week to feed the 4 of us (baby is only nursing ) and afternoon snacks for the little boy I babysit after school.

One hard thing is that there are no coupons for whole foods, YK? Although- I have had great luck combining coupons (manufacturer and store) to get toilettries (sp?) and such for next to nothing- a few weeks ago the Eckerd ad had coupons and many were the same as the manufacturer's coupons so I got deoderant, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. for less than 50 cents each, and some even ended up being free

I buy store brand for everything I can- although sometimes the national brand is cheaper due to bigger packages (bulk)- for example- American cheese (which is more expensive than "cheese food"- whatever that is :LOL), my grocery store had it on sale (the store brand) but the Kraft big package ended up being cheaper.

I make my own breads as much as I can, but still purchase the whole wheat for sandwiches. Some things I have recently noticed- bananas are by far the best value for fruits, lesser fat meat is less expensive in the big pack than higher fat meat .

I find not even going down certain aisles in the grocery store helps (ie- junk food and soda aisles).

OK- now- onto my accomplishment for tonight---I had to go shop for a wedding shower gift for dh's cousin (who by the way- has more than enough money to buy whatever they need ), I went to AJ Wright and I saw soooo much stuff I wanted- one thing I even carried around with me, and I am soooo proud of myself for putting it back. It was a beautiful little windchime with little crystal and glass butterflys and flowers on it, and it was all silver - it was so pretty and my dd would have loved it. I realized that I want to be able to buy little ($4) things like that- but that---right now---I can't! This is important for me to remember- I want to get into a spot where I can do that on occasion- but I am so not there yet- and, you know what? My dd doesn't have a clue what she is missing (she wasn't with me). I am going to paypal $5 into her (education)account right now, THAT she will use .

Anywho- I had to pick up milk at the grocery store too, and I really wanted some malted milk balls I saw when standing in line- but- I used some self-control and didn't buy those either. I came home with the gift I found ($12) for the shower and the milk, and some pretty tissue paper that I am going to wrap the gift in.

I know over the course of getting us where we want to be financially- I will sometimes need to buy little things just b/c, being constantly deprived can't be good, YK? But, when I can deny buying something that we really don't need, and not feel totally deprived/hopeless, I am going to do it.
post #7 of 139
i too struggle with trying to totally deprive myself ALL the time. It is important for me to have a little mad money every now and again. I went to the garden center today I have a thing for flowers...and came home with only 10 dollars in herb plants because i didn't NEED the flowers. I guess I don't NEED the plants either, but I do save money because that was 6 plants -- six different herb plants that is. It was fun just to go (special garden center about 20 minutes away).
post #8 of 139
One thing I love about our grocery store (Giant Eagle) is that they carry a large selection of organic/natural foods, and they seem to have great sales very regularly! He just scored tons of stuff the other day, saved $15 off a $45 bill. Yay DH!

Okay, I forgot to report my "success" for the week. Called on of our debtors and arranged to get the thing paid off in two payments, one June 1 and one July 1. It's not a huge debt, but it's one I can scratch off the list.

This coming week I plan to tackle our "car" loan. As I mentioned in another thread, we had to pay off my car completely in order to import it into Canada when we moved back there last year. Mum lent us the money via a line of credit she had and wasn't using (ain't retirement with an empty nest grand?). We have been paying her what we were paying to the car financer before, but the balance is getting quite low now (less than $7k Cdn) and I'm thinking the minimum payment required by her bank each month has got to be less than what we are paying. So I'm going to ask her if we can lower the payment to her for the next four months until our other investment comes in and we can just pay the whole thing off. I'm hoping this will save us at least $100/month, maybe even more! Why didn't I think of this before? Oh yeah, 'cuz it's embarrassing, lol.

One more thing we did today: we went to the library and got cards! We are former Amazon junkies. It was always easier to just order online. But the library had almost all of my "wish list" and it is FREE! Plus, if I don't like the book, I"m not stuck with it, and I can save the ones I love to buy one day. It seems so simple, but it is really great to go to the library!

PS - I so hear you guys on the "treat yourself" thing. I have held off having my hair cut for almost 4 months now. I have been going to the same lady for years ever since i first came to Cleveland. I love her cuts and she is so sweet and will be thrilled to know I'm PG. I pay $25, plus a tip, but I decided I really want to do this, this month. I bought hair dye on sale, and went with a new brand even to save money. I do like the colour though, lol. So I deserve it, right?
post #9 of 139
wakeupmama, hugs to you! Have you already checked out the previous thread? There's some great info there.

As was already mentioned, one great way I've found to cut down on food costs is to replace meat with alternatives. Lentils, beans....or serve meat as a side dish rather than the main course. Prepackaged stuff costs way more than buying in bulk---and never pay more for a name brand. I agree with the idea about whole foods! I make my own banana bread (bananas are inexpensive where I live), and this is our treat! In season, we do zucchini bread. A great value, IMO. I try and do lots of crock pot cooking, doubling up recipes, buying what's fresh, local and inexpensive.

Our family of four (and another one on the way ) eats for under $100 a week. This is almost solely organic. I truly believe that we can pay a little more now or pay later with our health. So many times we hear how expensive organic is, but do we ever stop and think about why the "non-organic" is so cheap? At what cost? Ok, this is my splurge rationalization perhaps???

We eliminated all foods that had preservatives or colorings. I was amazed at how this has helped our health and our food costs! We shop at either our local co-op or the farmers market. I do way more baking and cooking now, but I find it rewarding now instead of a chore. Kind of spiritual when I see how it is nurturing our health. Perhaps that's a bit OT......

We splurged this weekend and picked up a pizza to go (no preservatives, spring water and whole wheat crust.....but we pay dearly for this!) It was $15, and I agonized. My dh reminded me if we deprive ourselves, we'll resent it and blow it down the road. So, pizza it was .

I'm still a bit down about our finances, but I'm working through it. My biggest thing right now is trying hard to be positive about $$$. When food's been wasted, I've had a difficult time not getting upset. Issues, issues!

Well, I've rambled waaay too long. Sorry
post #10 of 139
Thread Starter 
I think it is great that you are so committed to healthy food, and absolutely think that is a worthwhile "investment" more than a "splurge". Luckily our grocery store sells a lot of organic too, but we have also decided to start going to the Farmer's market with the neighbors who go every week- can't believe I have been at MDC for well over a year and haven't thought to go to a Farmer's market :LOL.

Yesterday was our 5 year anniversary- we had saved Applebees gift cards that we got for Christmas for this occasion, so that covered dinner, though I still had to leave the tip. Then, we went to Home Depot and as our anniversary gift to each other, we bought a push broom :LOL -5 years is the "wooden" anniversary . And- my parents watched the kids- so no babysitter cost. . They (my parents) also gave us $200 for our gift from them (it has been around $50 in past years). My mom also sent me $200 in cash 2 weeks ago- and 2 weeks before that she put $200 in my car. So--hmmm... what to do? She does not expect us to pay her back at all- she knows we are in a tight spot b/c of the current outrageous health insurance we are paying. I think I am going to pay her back $400 (as soon as dh gets a new job with good health insurance) and let the $200 from yesterday be a gift.

I have to say- I am soooo fortunate- sure we are struggling with debt- but we will never be truly poor or go without to any real things we need, b/c my family is so great- between my parents and my siblings we will never "go without". I am very blessed.

The thing is, I should be able to be acting as that safety net for others. I read stories about women on here who need money to pay their electric bill, and I want to paypal them some cash to get them through. One of the major reasons I want to be out of debt (other then the extreme guilt of it) is so that I can use my money to help others, the way my family has helped us so many times.

OK, I am rambling now.....
post #11 of 139
i went out to the mall today --- and did ok. I returned some items at target that had been kicking around +12.00. Then returned something at hancocks fabrics and bought what was on my list only spending 9.00, still +3 right? and then went to sears to buy a part for our drill, 3 bucks. So other than gas, i broke even.

Plus I am really pleased with myself. The whole way out there I was thinking "mmmm, coke." and almost stopped, but didn't pass a fast food joint. Then I got in the car at the end and thought "I can make it all the way home with no stop" and did. SO i guess that 1.50 not spent about covers the gas right?
post #12 of 139
I have read through thread #1 and was impressed by the many sucess stories both big and little. I just took Your Money or Your LIfe and CHoosing Simplicity from the libaray. I hadn't started to read it until today but was impressed that quite a few of dh's and my decisions where there in black and white.

Here is my last LJ entry to, since it says what my short term goals are:

DH and I had another talk about homeschooling ds. He is very serious about it. I am glad. So we are going to sit down tomorrow and really go over our budget. The goal is to save all of dh's income over the next 2-3 years. 50% going to irradicating debt, his first and then mine and 50% into saving so that we finally have a buffer. I want to be back to the point where I have $2000+ in savings - ultimate goal $10,000.

It's going to be tough because we are both spontanious spenders but I think we can do it if we make a plan and stick with it - we know how to survive a week on $20 and now we just need to live like that when there is $$ in the bank. 2 years can bring a lot of change, hopefully a couple of raises and decent health insurance through my job or the state. Universal healthcare in my life time?

Short term goals to simplifying my life and house.

1. Selling 50% of my books on half.com
- a. Keep utilizing libraby
- b. Only buy cook/craft books that I know I will use & have read already
- c. Second hand - never new, I can be patient

2. Declutter attic and house - tag sale time

3. Back to the 15 minute cleaning blocks - 2 or 3 times a day.

4. Change eating habits
- a. No more fast food
- b. Learning more about freezer meals.
- c. Find ways to get dh to eat beans.
- d. Vegan/Vegetarian meals 2x a week
- e. Reduce eating out to twice a month or less

Now the major challenge will be to update my wardrobe without feeling guilty. Pay ourselves first and use personal saving on self, not house or ds.
post #13 of 139
I'm glad I found the new thread!

I get my hair cut once/year, maybe. I cut the boys and dh's hair. The girls don't have much hair so it's not a problem yet.

We spend about $100/ week on groceries for 7 people and about $300/month through our food co op.

I made no strides this week and did poorly, actually. I'm slacking and I'm not proud of it.
post #14 of 139
Its been a few days since I've been on the boards- family visiting- so I actually have things to report!!

I want to say, that the more i read YMOYL, the more excited I get. Especially today as i read the chapter on work. It really has me thinking. So for those that haven't read it yet- check it out!! I think its super inspiring. And I want to repeat the -No Shame, No Blame- mantra for those who spent a bit and were feeling guilty. Just observe what you spent and dont' judge it, but keep it in mind for next time.

So, last night dh and I had our first of what will be weekly Sunday evening financial "chats" I wanted to call them Summits to give them some importance, but he said he felt intimidated. So, we went casual. I talked up the book and he agreed to read it. We agreed that while we are so happy that we have bought a house and are reaching some of those big "material" goals, we arent' happy with what it means in terms of dh working long, long hours and just getting by. So, we're starting down this path and made a couple of action items for the week:

1. Make our fridge into our financial tracking center so it is always visible and in our minds.

2. Post on the fridge: our monthly expenses/income graphs and detailed monthly tablulations.

baby steps.

Dh is going to change his cell phone plan and fax plan to reduce his monthly business expenses. I am going to make the fridge charts, continue to reduce our food bill by meal planning and doing sales, etc..., open a house savings account to stash money in every month for property taxes so they dont' nail us every 6 months. The account will *not* be linked online or via ATM to our checking acct so we can' t steal money out. I am going to contact the state Craftsman Association about getting into the upcoming craft fairs to sell my baby legwarmers. Must follow through!!

And my dad and stepmom and I went yardsaling on Saturday and I got some great buys on things we needed:

-wastebasket for our bathroom: .50
- jeans and overalls for dd: 1.00
- THIS IS SO EXCITING!! old school, steel Osterizer blender that works like a charm : $5.00!!
- glass pyrex pie plate to replace ours that broke in the move: 1.00

I did not impulse buy at all, though I had bought a reg. plastic blender before I found the Osterizer, so am going to sell at our yard sale at the end of the summer. Oh, that was another thing I decided. that instead of always sending boxes to Goodwill, I am going to try adn sell it first.

And in the vein of simplicity, Dh and I decided to tell our family members that we *strongly request* that for holidays and birthdays, they choose 1 or 2 gifts that they really want to give dd, and thats it. We fear the toy situation around here is ridiculous. and so much of it is from *their* impulses, and its junk!! i hate feeling like i have to have it hanging around for a month before I can give it away. Half the stuff she doesn't even bother with. While we are trying to live more simply and lightly on this earth, we need to have it start with her too. I am not against gifts, but I am against toy takeover and so many gifts they don't matter- kwim?? So, I told my mom tonight (dd's 1st birthday is in 2 weeks) and she took it well. We'll see how dh's mom does. She's a shopaholic.

So, that's our update. I am feeling good. Glad dh and I are on the same page and have started our journey- however long it may be!!
post #15 of 139
Great stuff, ladies!

Well, I'm feeling very optimistic. I got paid on Friday (I get paid once a month) and with all our bills paid we are still ahead of where we were last month. We have over $100/wk to spend on gas (which we use little of anyways) and food and "play money". And that INCLUDES the extra amount going to paying off that one debt I mentioned. It feels GREAT to know that it is halfway there now.

I also spoke to Mum, who seems pretty sure that there IS no minimum on her LOC. The interest each month is about $40 Cdn (about $30 US). Man, must be nice to have a bank that BEGS you to let them loan you money at prime, lol. Anyways, she was fine with us paying a very token amount until our property sells in September, so that is going to save us over $100/month WHICH...in the spirit of the plan posted here in the other thread...we will apply to another debt to speed up the payoff.

So I'm feeling really good about things. I think we'll make it until September after all (then we are going to have a huge "out of debt" party, LOL).
post #16 of 139
right on piglet!!
post #17 of 139
forgot to say, newmainer, FABULOUS score on that Osterizer!!
post #18 of 139
Okay, new success stories to add, and a tip for all of you!!

DH phoned one of our credit card companies yesterday and explained that things were temporarily tight, etc....he got our payments cut down by over half for the next 3 months!! Yay, DH!!

I never thought they would do that, but then collection agencies negotiate this sort of thing all the time, so I guess they figure they'd rather do it before it gets to that, kwim?

Now, this probably isn't something you would do if you are on "The Plan" posted here in that other thread - it's just going to delay everything. But if you are in a temporary bind, as we are, and know that things will be changing for the better in the near future, it might be to your advantage. This is going to allow us to make all our payments each month and not be in the red come next payday. Also, it allows us to get rid of that one smaller debt by increasing the payments so that it's paid off in two months. Having one less item on the debt list is really going to be a psychological plus!

I'm so grateful for this thread. It's really motivated me. Thanks for starting it Jess!
post #19 of 139
Thread Starter 
*I* am so glad I started this. I really am doing well just getting the email updates for the thread, keeping this goal at the forefront of my mind.

Dh and I were watching Dr. Phil the other day and he had his "weight loss challenge" people on there. DH and I have never been overweight (to that extent) and we were suprised at the parallels between the weight loss and getting out of debt. In both scenarios the person is generally there through some combination of their own fault and circumstances beyond their control. You can try many times prior to "getting serious". It is a struggle with often very small rewards/accomplishments, but each little bit adds up. And---it takes a damn long time and a lot of committment, together with a support system---which is where we all come in to help each other .

DH and I are both doing pretty good with not spending extra money. We both miss our cable (Trading Spaces, HGTV ), and figure that getting cable back when we are finally out of debt, is sadly, one of our biggest motivators :LOL.
post #20 of 139
I'm so proud of you all! I'm trying my best. Got declined for all the 0% interest CC. That's sad. Oh well, I'll just keep paying on my huge % card and hope for the best. I really don't know why we got declined. We only have one CC, no student loans, pay our bills on time Oh well.

Cheers to you all!
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