Ugh, Finances

Here’s a shocking revelation: we are not rich.  In fact, we are far from it.  My husband and I never went on a honeymoon.  The only vacations we take are back home to visit family, or someplace within driving distance.  These aren’t complaints.  We just haven’t seen much any of the world, let alone the country.  We made a big decision at the beginning of the year that has improved our quality of life, but at the cost of, well, costing us.  We made a naive decision ten years ago to buy a home when we first moved to Jacksonville instead of waiting to understand the market (and Jacksonville’s neighborhood’s) better.  A decade later, we were still in what was supposed to be our “starter home”, perfect for a family of 2 20-somethings, not perfect for a growing family.  We did as much to it as we could to make the house work for us, but we knew any money we threw into it, we’d never see again.  The value dropped significantly about a year or two after we purchased it due to the market crash of 2007.  Additionally, the house is located in one of the least desirable neighborhood’s of Jacksonville.  Though we could afford our home, we couldn’t afford to sell, but we also knew we just couldn’t live there any longer.  It was not an ideal place to raise a family.  So we made the decision to rent out our home and rent a home in a new neighborhood, and in February we moved.

We are happier now where we are, but now we have to be a lot more aware of how and where we are spending our money.  I stopped working when I had Ellis, so we are living on one salary (though as a private school teacher, my salary was pretty dismal to begin with).  We now have not only a mortgage to pay but rent as well.  And I haven’t mentioned our debt from school loans.  Again, I was a dumb teenager making dumb decisions that would affect the rest of my life.  I just assumed everybody paid for college with FAFSA, and private college over a state school was a better choice.  We will not let Ellis make the same mistakes we did.

So what are we doing differently now than we have in the past?  Well, for one, we hardly ever go out.  Ellis has been really helpful with this.  Fridays and Saturdays are the same as every other day of the week.  Sunday is probably the most exciting because we get to dress up to go to church.

Food.  We eat at home.  Sometimes this makes me sad.  Cleaning my kitchen 3x a day and preparing a meal that often is not my ideal way of spending my day.  I try to look on the bright side. Eating out eats our budget and makes us fat.  So I like to think of eating at home as a diet for my waistline and pocketbook.  When we grocery shop or do eat out, we try to use coupons.  Depending on how hungry we are we might share a meal or skip the appetizer.  Leftovers never taste as good anyway.  Sometimes I just share Ellis’s meal because she only eats 1/4 of it anyway.  Do you feel sad now, too?

Shopping.  Currently we are in a period where Ellis has a full wardrobe of clothes that fit her in the appropriate season.  It should last hopefully another two months, although I just bought her new socks, and they are already too small.  That girl has big feet.  I challenged myself for the month of July to never step foot into a Target.  I’m going on two weeks here, and I’m feeling pretty good about myself.  I’ve been able to get what we need at the grocery store or the Dollar Tree.

Budgeting.  Trav and I enrolled in Financial Peace University about 5-6 weeks back.  I’ve been tracking our spending more closely and took over bill pay to have a better understanding of our debt and monthly expenses.  We’re doing our best to follow a lot of the advice of Dave Ramsay, and hopefully he will give us more tools in the upcoming classes that will help us make wiser financial decisions and investments in the future.  (Ahem, home buying.)

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