Living on a Budget

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Since tax’s are over, and many of us have budgeting on our mind, I wanted to repost this. With tax returns or some of us having to pay tax’s many of us are thinking about what can we do to better our financial position. This post seems to take a good stance on how to start!

I wanted to thank Jeanette for sharing this. She was one of my very first readers. She now is a coupon pro and saving lots of money. I have to say I love this post. Finding a balance in our lives is hard, but in doing it you find out what is really important. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did!

Living Within Your Means

My husband and I joke that the longer we’re married, the less we make. When we first got married 14 years ago, we were both working and both in school. By the time our second child was born, I was working full-time and my husband was just starting to work. Eight months later, we decided I should come home full-time. Since I was making twice what my husband did, we took a 2/3 cut in pay. I still worked a little here and there, but we learned to live on a tight budget. My husband’s pay increased little by little each year. However, five years later, my husband decided to go back to school full-time for one year to get his masters degree and switch careers. I opened up a daycare in our home to pay our bills that year. The following year found us moving across the state so my husband could start his new career as a school teacher. Our starting pay was $10,000 less a year than what he was making before he got his degree. So, once again we learned to buckle down. What is my point in sharing all this? The point is that you can learn to live within your means.

We often say we wish we knew then what we know now, but isn’t that how it always goes … hindsight really is 20/20. We have learned a lot over the years, but one of the most important things we’ve learned is that you can be happy regardless of how much you make. My husband didn’t switch careers for the money, but because he now does something he loves and is fulfilling to him. That is a choice we made and with it, we have also chosen to do without a lot of things. Here is a list of some of the things we do without: TV … we own a t.v., but do not pay for cable or dish or satellite; cell phone … I have a phone for emergencies that is part of my brother’s plan, but we only pay $13/mo. We rarely go out to eat or to the movies. We drive older cars. We own a modest home. All our utilities are on equal pay so I can budget each month. Much of our furniture and clothing are second hand.

We have made financially poor decisions over the years. We have used credit cards and then felt the burden of getting out from under them as the interest quickly accrues. We have longed for things we couldn’t afford. However, in the end, we have learned to work with what we have. And I am always looking for new ways to stretch our budget. Couponing is my newest find. I started only a couple of months ago, but it has become a challenge and game for me to see how much I can really buy with my money. I find that I am spending as much or less than I was before, but am getting 2-3 the amount of things for that same money.

Do we have any fun, you might ask? Yes, we do. We just choose to do it differently than many people. The boys like to go camping with their father. We go on family hikes and do biking. We use our library to check out books and movies. We save our money for family trips. It usually takes a lot more planning to make sure we have the money for things we need, but it is usually worth it in the end. Everyone has to make their own decisions in life. For us, we have decided the freedom we feel of living within our means far outweighs the burden we feel when use credit cards to try to have all the ‘stuff’ that others do. We don’t really need it, even if we want it. And in this tough economy right now, I am grateful we don’t have a lot of debt hanging over our heads

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