The mountain is mine

Oh boy. Debt debt debt… I know I’m not alone. Many people have their own mountains to defeat. Mine happens to be debt… in an amount that shall not be named. Let’s just say it’s enormous. Yes, I’m including my school loans in this because it’s the only way it works. Credit cards and grad school loans. Nuff said.

When I stopped working, I hung on as long as I could but I eventually could not pay on my credit cards anymore. It’s been a year and a half – my credit is once again in the toilet but it is what it is. I can only take steps now to undo the damage that is already done.

Step 1: Budget!
I’ve spent the last couple weeks working on a budget. I’ve done some reading about the experiences of others; I’ve looked for tips; I’ve found budgeting templates… I’ve done my homework. I came up with a workable budget that will work if I can only stick to it! My downfall? Starbucks! (coffee fraps are my weakness) Unfortunately, it is almost completely out of my budget. One of the tips I read said to account for everything, including fun money. My fun money will cover my occasional SB indulgence. It won’t be the same, but I can certainly do without the sugar, so bonus there. If you completely restrict yourself, you will totally fail. Budgets are very much like diets. Keep some indulgences in there and you have a better chance of succeeding.

Step 2: Cut the dead weight
TOO MUCH STUFF. I am drowning in stuff. Mostly kiddo’s stuff but it’s still too much. Downsizing eliminates the dead weight and makes it obvious what you can do without. Going through my, for lack of a better word, transformation (definitely need a better word lol), I found out I was using stuff to fill space so I didn’t have to focus on fixing what was emotionally wrong with me. Once I came to terms with what I was avoiding, I realized I didn’t want all this stuff around anymore. I wanted simplicity and a decluttered home. Now… easier said than done with a kiddo in the mix. He is NOT a fan of decluttering (but has gotten better lol) and wants to keep holding on to things. I’ve slowly started taking things out that he hasn’t played with in a long time and so far, he has not noticed. Fingers crossed this continues.

Step 3: Do I really need that?
As many others have said…. when I am very conscientious of my budget and what I’m buying, I tend to not really buy as much. Every purchase becomes a question of how much I need it and can I live without it. I think this will be more of a challenge for kiddo but in the long run, I know it will help teach him life-long money skills. Anything you can do without is not something you should spend money on. Keep focusing on the long-term goal: defeating the mountain!

Step 4: Convenience vs Saving Money
I think a huge trend right now is DIY everything. Beauty products, cleaning products…. you name it, someone’s tried to make it from scratch instead of paying for convenience. In the long run, you need to decide what convenience means to you and what products you absolutely don’t care to make yourself. I am focusing on cleaning products and some beauty stuff as my DIY’ers. Sorry, not sorry – toothpaste and deodorant will never be homemade in my house unless I am living in a tent and have no other option.

Step 5: Is there a cheaper option for this?
One of the first things I had to give up when I stopped working was my expensive mineral makeup. I simply could not afford it. It was more important to pay the electric bill than buy some fancy bronzer. I went out and found cheaper options (MUCH CHEAPER) that still accomplished the same thing without the heavy price tag. We all have these vices – things we’ve been treating ourselves to without realizing it that we can replace with less expensive options. it sucks in the beginning but the end result is worth it.

Step 6: Shop Around
I am now in the habit every week of going to multiple grocery stores to get the best deals. I still work part time at the grocery store so I get a discount on store brand items (yay!). It’s a pain in the ass but necessary to go to multiple places. Why pay more when you can go around the corner and save a buck? Those bucks add up! Use coupons; pay attention to things that are discontinued (big savings to be found when you combine coupons with discontinued markdowns – can you say 5 cans of  biscuits for $.50?!); and plan your trips ahead of time. Spend that hour or so planning your grocery trips. It’s completely worth it. I also recommend using Ibotta & Checkout51. Get money back on your purchases! It might take a while to build up your account but think of it as a savings account. It’s slowly building and before you know it, you have a good amount in there that you can spend! Finally – only buy what you really need. Some people go for the freezer meal stuff – I simply don’t have the room for that. I am also totally comfortable eating the same thing every night. I do not require a lot of food variety – it’s just food. Thankfully, kiddo is very much the same. We are creatures of habit so meal planning isn’t really a requirement.

Step 7: Pinterest is your friend!
Pin pin pin!!! I found sooo many useful tips and tricks on Pinterest. DIY recipes; cheap ideas for holidays; amazing recipes.. go look for it and pin it! I have tried several things so far that I’m hoping I can incorporate into my money-saving strategies permanently.

I am starting things rolling this week so we’ll see how it goes and I’ll keep posting updates on my progress. Stay tuned!

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