My husband and I have been thinking a lot about debt lately. Specifically, we’ve been thinking about ways we can speed up the process of getting out of debt. We’ve heard it said that if a person makes one extra house payment a year, they can pay off a thirty year loan in fifteen years. Our goal, therefore, is to make at least one extra house payment a year, if not more.
In light of this, my husband and I have committed to tracking our money for the next few months. We’re documenting everything we purchase, and how much we’re spending. We don’t want to embrace a poverty mentality, but we do want to make wise financial decisions and part of that is deciding whether what we’re spending our money on is really worth it. In the words of Oral Roberts, we’re asking ourselves: “would I rather have this, or would I rather have the money I’d be spending on this?” Sometimes we’d rather make the purchase. We needed a computer, and wanted a laptop. My camera is broken, and I have my heart set on a high-end SLR camera. These are choices that we’re making. They’re personal decisions and there is nothing right or wrong about them, so long as they’re prayerfully considered. In other areas, however, we would rather have the money to put toward our debt.
As we have been tracking our money, we have discovered several places in our budget where money is flexible. Do we need full coverage on our van? Do we need two cell phones? Can we cut back on the amount of electricity we use? One of the first places we have found that we can make cuts and save money is on our grocery budget. I’m embarrassed to say how much we spend on groceries each month. Suffice it to say that my cooking skills leave much to be desired, and I often opt out for what is easiest. We also spend quite a bit of money on impulse, buying things that aren’t on our list, and aren’t needed for our meal plans. So this year, I plan to make a concentrated effort to learn more ways to cook healthier, more inexpensive meals. I plan to start making my own bread. I plan to purchase cloth diapers. I plan to make things from scratch and buy in bulk. I’m seriously considering using washcloths instead of toilet paper (don’t worry, we’ll put out a role of “guest” toilet paper!), reusing my ziplock bags, and making my own soap. And I plan to think before I spend. As I discover new money-saving ways to do things, I’ll be posting them here on a special Frugal Friday’s thread.
If you’re also looking for ways to save money or get out of debt, you might want to consider keeping your own money journal to find out exactly where your money is going, and what kinds of changes you can make. And be sure to check out other frugal tips each week by joining me here each Friday, and checking out what others have to say here.