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Sunday, June 1, 2014

How We Save

Grace and Peace to You,

Here are our latest debt totals

Debt as of 06/09/2012:  $92,645.00

Debt as of 06/01/2014:  $23,500.30 

Total Debt Paid Down:  $69,144.70!!!!!!!

Yes, America, we are getting closer!  The first date listed is our wedding day.  When we started we set a goal at being at $0.00 for our two year anniversary.  While we have made tremendous progress over the last two years, it is very clear that we will not make that goal.

However, we do not view that as a setback and it only makes us hungrier to finish!  We have been very blessed over the first two years of our marriage and can only be thankful to have the opportunity and blessing to live our lives in this way.  Many of you have asked how we are doing it.  The short answer is a lot of patience, sacrifice, prayers, and discipline (the last one mainly coming from my wife:).  The rest of this post is a list of how we are able to make the progress we have in our finances.  Feel free to comment or contact me through the blog if you wold like to hear more on one of these.

  1. Budget:  You have to push a pencil and see what you're getting each month for income, bills, spending, and of course what is your debt.  We actually do this the old fashion way in a notebook, but there are plenty of online templates for setting up a budget.  The biggest part in this is knowing and having control over where every dollar you earn goes. That includes the change in your purse or car. If you really want to know the truth then turn on Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and look at last month. Our budget is done month to month because every month has different expenses to account for. We list our bills first and then take care of the fixed expenses.
  2. Sacrifice:  We don't eat out (other than one date night per month that is budgeted).  We don't shop.  We don't really go out with friends (this one has been especially hard for me).  I can't tell you how many things we've had to say no too with friends.  Even though it is tough, it's amazing the feeling you get when you have control over your life and money.
  3. Meal Planning:  We set our meals a week in advance on a calendar.  Each meal is designed to make leftovers for the next day for lunch.  We split a smoothie each day for breakfast.  In total we live on about $100 per week for food.  This one may be a little different for you if you have kids, but the planning aspect of this one is huge.  This also saves us time and stress of meal planning through the week, not to mention we've actually gotten better at cooking!  I owe this one all to Emily. Check out our cool meal calendar (you can't see it but written in on the days are what we have for dinner that night):
  4. No Cable:  This one wasn't as hard to let go of as you might think.  We only have wireless internet for our jobs through our provider.  We use Netflix and Hulu which are very cheap for monthly subscriptions.  A friend even gave us a digital antenna which gives us the major networks.  I'm telling you even after this we may not go back to cable.  Very thankful that the World Cup is being streamed on all ESPN/ABC though:)!
  5. Extra Earned: Where can you bring in a little more money each month? There are online earning sites that we use that will bring in a small amount (every penny counts in the debt battle). We use Swagbucks and Bing Rewards for extra income each month. We roll our change. We use all the extra money we get towards debt. That includes birthdays, Christmas, tax returns, part time job, etc. 
  6. Ebay and Craigslist:  "Declutter" your life!  We recently downsized to a smaller apartment to save money on rent. In that transition, we realized we had a lot of stuff that we didn't even use. Therefore, we sold it all on Ebay and Craigslist and made several hundred dollars in the process. You would be surprised what you can find to sell if you look around your house. 
  7. Reward Yourself: It's important not to forget yourself and your marriage in this process. We give ourselves a date night. We give ourselves fun money that we can spend however we choose. We save for vacation each month. We celebrate each time we pay off a debt. We are still doing a small trip for our anniversary. 
Most importantly, we do all of this as a team. It is certainly not easy. However, it has strengthened our marriage to lock arms and work towards a goal together. We can honestly say in two years of marriage that we have not had one fight about money.

"Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later." - Dave Ramsey

In Christ,
Bryant & Emily

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