Diets Are No Fun – But Sometimes Necessary
Just the word “diet” makes me want to runaway. I've never been a fan of counting calories or weighing myself. But in order to stay healthy – especially as I have gotten older, I know that watching what I eat has come into play and it's important. Gone are the days of eating a whole roll of cookie dough walking home from the store when I was 14. That metabolism abandon me at about 34 years old. Doesn't mean I don't still eat a cookie here and there – but I understand I can no longer stay healthy and eat crap.
But turning myself into a smarter, healthier eater wasn't something I just did over night. I had to pursue it, woo it – and slowly blend it into my life. I am happier for it and healthier for it for sure. Who would think at 46 years old, I'd be running several times a week? Not me.
I am running toward a healthier me and not away from family genetic issues like diabetes and cancer. I am facing it head on — and that's what you need to do a lot of the times when things seem to get insurmountable. Just like when I have to clean house on Saturdays. I feel I just can't get it started – it's too much. But once I do – I am a locomotive.
So now I face a new kind of diet.A new challenge. A challenge of personal finance in order to survive today's economy (which if you ask me – is in the toilet.) I already fell off my own financial fiscal cliff months ago. Instead of hoping our politicians get it right and help those out their willing to work and make their own way – I'm gonna have to count on ME – but hey, that's the American dream.
So in order to “hang on” financially – I decided to take a closer look at my personal situation. A very close look — and it's not pretty. The horror! THE HORROR!!
I feel guilty now for going to the movies to see “This Is 40” with my hubby this past weekend. At least we picked the matinee and saved a few bucks there. But we also ran by Urban Burrito after and grabbed some dinner. These…. are activities I need to work on changing, stopping, avoiding. WHY? Because I have debt.
Financial Dieting Journey Begins
I saw Dave Ramsey article in the new Woman's Day (if I remember right) – and he gives advice to all these couples with financial issues on how to pay off debt. One thing he said…”If you owe money – you shouldn't even see the inside of a restaurant unless you're working there.” Yep – that's us this year. There have been times… when I get home from the grocery store – and even though I just spent $150 on groceries for the week – I don't want to cook because I'm exhausted – so we order a pizza. O M G??? What the hell? No more. This year, in all seriousness is about hanging on, surviving and trying to pay off debt. Feel me?
I am actually taking on several freelance writing jobs to bring in extra cash — it means more work hours for me – but the bottom line is – when you are stretched as thin as you can be financially – there is no way to get ahead without more coming in. Having a few thousand saved up for emergencies would be nice. Having no debt would be awesome. But it won't just happen. That's why I am always posting ways to make money at home. Even if you have a full time job – why not spend an extra hour online each week – making some extra cash? I even posted my 2013 at home income how-to on the forum last week. This is also why I believe in home businesses and keep building my Avon business. I know that my hard work will pay off. And it is beginning to. After two years of really working on my Avon business and following their leadership program – I am seeing the rewards. Time well spent.
Looking Closer at Our Finances and Budget
We don't really even have a budget… not really. Never even really thought about it. NO more.
I don't when the last time was that you sat down and went over your expenses – either on your own or with your spouse/partner. But let me tell ya. My husband and I just did that. What an eye opener. Getting to “know” where your money goes is… scary and powerful. Trust me.
After doing so, my husband and I were able to see some “leaky” (this is what I refer to them as)financial pipes. Eating out – one of them. We don't do it a lot – I cook at least 5 days a week. But there is certainly room for improvement. We've seen 4 movies in the past 4 weeks. All at the theater and we took extra kids with us on some occasions. We loved doing it and glad we did it – but things like this – can't do it this year. We didn't even take a vacation last year because there was no budgeting for one. This year – little things will add up and we will come out better at the end of the year.
Drastic Budget Measures
Even if it means selling our home (GULP) – I guess that's what we have to do. Because financial stress is a force to be reckoned with. It'll kill you. I just want peace, security. Nothing fancy anymore. I'll talk more about that tomorrow. If we can hang on to our home – well, that will be a blessing and I'll be thrilled, but if we have to let it go – in the end, it is just a house and it doesn't define us or change the love we have for each other in my family. We are wealthy beyond in that respect.
So FINANCIAL DIET it is for this house. I will get even more serious about smart coupon-ing and make sure that eating out is really something special – maybe once a month – that way it's not full on deprivation – because then there is a bigger chance for failure. You can go TOO gung-ho on something and just set yourself up to fall flat on your face. Of course money issues are serious and there isn't a lot of wiggle room for not reforming in my opinion.
So lets look at some ways to save money, make money and pay off debt.
2. Eat at home – no take out, ordering out or going out to eat.
3. Tackle smaller debts first, unless you owe the IRS – if you do, they are your first best to conquer.
4. Find ways to generate more income if you can. Part-time jobs, earning online, baby sitting.
5. Make your kids WORK for what they want. My 12 year old wanted a cellphone. I got it for her. I pay the bill. Never thought that much about it. Because everyone has a cellphone. But how could I take that on when I have debt? I wasn't even thinking about it. But – now that we ALL have cellphones – I'm going to cancel the $68 a month landline we have with Frontier. WHY pay for this phone too? Also – my daughter has to “pay” her portion of the cellphone bill – which is $27. How? She has to scoop dog poop in the back yard every week and has to fold clothes each evening if there are clothes to fold. This is NOT painful for her. My 18 year old son has to pay me a portion of his cellphone bill from his paycheck. I don't make him pay it all – because his is higher, but he has to contribute. We pay his college, we handed him a car and he lives with us rent free and he eats at home as well. We also pay the taxes and insurance on his car. He just has to put gas in it.
6. Garden – I will have one this summer. We had a tiny one last summer that was ill thought out and not tended very well. That will be a goal to change this year. Every dollar I save on groceries, is a dollar I can save or pay off debt.
7. Entertainment will now be renting movies for $3.99 or $4.99 through Amazon on my Tivo. I will not pay movie theater prices unless it's a matinee and my husband gets discount tickets through work. For this family of 4 to see a movie, and typically one of the kids' friends come along – it's $50. Not happening.
8. Eat less overall. Now I know this sounds extreme – like we're gonna starve ourselves. No… you're hungry you eat. What I am talking about is all the mindless calorie munching and drinking. I don't buy soda – but I do buy snack-y stuff for the kids. NO more. Apples, bananas, pears, applesauce, veggie sticks and dip, trail mix and home baked goodies. We will be more healthy and less in the hole financially by avoiding Debbie cakes and Frito Lay.
9. Dear God in heaven – help me…. no more running to Starbucks 2-3 times a week. ‘Nuff said. (Unless I have earned free Starbucks giftcards from Swagbucks.)
10. Taking on extra work. Like I said – I am taking on more freelance writing projects in order to bring in extra cash for savings or paying off debt.
If you're in a similar situation – if this is the year you're going to get ahead financially or at least begin to tackle debt in a very serious way – how about we share tips, ideas for saving money, cutting costs and dealing with the stress of finances and making ends meet.
No one judges here…
We are all regular people making our way through this crazy maze of life. Comment below – love to hear from you. – Kelly