It’s been awhile since I made a post- we moved recently and are finally feeling settled again. We moved from a condo into a house. We also got a lot of cocked heads when we told people we were moving in the Denver metro area when the market was so high. I mean, we didn’t move anywhere “cheaper” so even though we sold high, we also bought high. And it seems like everyone is expecting the housing bubble to pop, like, tomorrow. So why? Why on Earth would anyone move in the middle of all that? Well, we have one reason, and her name is Charlotte.
(^Charlotte playing hopscotch in front of our new house)
Ben and I have had some very specific dreams for how we wanted to raise our kids since we became parents. We wanted our kids to be independent, outdoors, have space to make pillow forts, just a space for them to walk outside whenever they want and explore. Where we lived before, that was REALLY difficult. All of our neighbors smoked and all of them had dogs and NOBODY picked up their poop. Before having kids I didn’t really care. After, I became “that” lady. I was video taping dogs pooping outside to send to the HOA, I was commenting on how often different people were taking smoke breaks (because that usually meant we had to pack up and go inside), I would leak a string of profanities everytime I would drive up to see our one spot had been taken by a visitor of a neighbor so I would have to park across the street and down the road and try to get my baby and lug in all of the groceries.
Basically, as soon as we saw that moving was in the realm of possibility for us, we jumped. Most good things come after a jump. And I don’t mean to brag, but Ben and I have made some pretty good “jumps” before.
So here we are in our new house… Along with a new mortgage. I have wanted to stay home as much as possible since Charlotte was born, and luckily if I have had to work I’ve been able to take Charlotte with me or work from home. I was trying to find something similar in our new house, but nothing seemed to click just right. We had two choices: 1) I would go back to a “real” job, or 2) we tighten up the budget and cut back where we can…. Number two it is!
First we looked at our budget. We keep a spreadsheet of the ideal budget on the sheets app, and a real time view of where our money is going on another app. We got our car insurance down, paid off debt with the little left overs from selling, and halved our allowance and date night budgets. To be fair, this isn’t the first time we have had to “make it work”
The First Time
When we had Charlotte two years ago, we lost HALF of our income. I was extremely grateful I was able to stay home, but *able* was kind of a generous word. We were eating into our savings every month I was home. I remember rocking Charlotte before a nap and praying to God, specifically asking for the grace to just make this work. help us make ends meet, which specifically would be $800/month. Putting my new baby in daycare or having some one else raise her for the majority of her waking hours was just not a thing I had ever wanted to do. Ben was working on getting a new job but we didn’t know where or when that would happen. I put Charlotte in her room, and went down stairs. When I checked my phone, I had a text from a family I baby sat for occasionally asking if I could become their regular daycare, coming to exactly $800/month. It was a known, realized, full on miracle. That job was just enough to let me stay home while Ben transitioned into his new job and made up the excess.
1) Budgeting tips everyone should live by
During that time, I watched the Dave Ramsay show on you tube to figure out HOW to budget and how to pay off debt. He had some awesome tips! One thing we do now is a version of the envelope system. Every Monday, I go to the bank and take out the weekly budget for groceries, date night, allowance, and our “slush” fund for the week. (You should always budget in a slush, even if it’s only $10 a week, ours is set to $20) I bought a wallet that could be macgyvered into an envelope system wallet (because let’s be honest, nobody on a budget can afford the $50+ wallets they sell for the envelope system) for about $10. I took a seam ripper and removed the card dividing line in the middle to make extra bill pockets, then labeled each one “G,A,S,D” for the appropriate budget.
If we run out of cash before the week, that’s it. We’ve scrounged the pantry for beans and rice dinners (made in the instant pot, it’s actually one of Charlotte’s favorite meals with cheese and guacamole) or anything we could make with what we had on hand.
2) Making money while I grocery shop
The other thing I’ve found that has been SUPER helpful is mystery shopping! I mystery shop for groceries thru the trend source app and it’s awesome! Here’s the gist: you have to spend a minimum of $9 on three items. You go home, fill out a 10 minute evaluation of the store. Then they reimburse you the $9 plus pay you $5 on top of that. It’s like couponing without the terrible burden of couponing! If I do it right, I can get half of my grocery budget reimbursed back to me every two weeks. I had no idea how many mystery shopping companies there were out there, maybe I’ll do a separate post going in to more detail.
3) The Secret Key to actually fulfilling our frugal dream?
But the biggest lesson? My life long struggle? Discipline and patience. Why is it that when my parents were growing up, if they ran out of milk before grocery day, they didn’t run to the store to get more milk. They would go without or use powdered milk. If the family was short on money, they made clothes, cut back on budgets, did “home made” Christmas. Why do we feel like all of these great blessings are entitlements? We live in an age of convenience. However no one seems to mind that we are still paying for that convenience. Whether it be with your health or your budget, it’s being accounted for some where. We are trying to help our family return to the age of “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” and all of the awesome life lessons that come with that. Lessons like creativity, not being materialistic, teaching our kids healthy money habits, the list goes on!
Stay tuned so I can share all of our budget saving tips with you that will hopefully get us to our frugal dream!