Saturday, March 26, 2011

No Magic Wand

So how did we save a lot of money in one month to start paying down our debt? I'm going to bullet this post since I'm going to be talking about a lot of different topics, but I should start off with a couple main points. One, Mr. Jaguar and I knew we had to bring in more income but wanted to spend as little time away from BabyJaguar as possible. Bottom line....the cub is only going to be a cub for a brief time and we don't want to miss out on it. Two, I always thought that in order to make a real difference in my debt, I had to make a big splash. Like I had to find a way to make a big dent in what we owe to make any real progress (remember back to how I said I was trying to pay a little bit extra on everything but felt like I was spinning my wheels? That's what I'm talking about.) However, I didn't think about the impact of saving a little and bringing in a little extra. If I save $20 on what goes out of my account, but bring in an extra $20, too, that's actually $40 we're talking about. So anyway, without further ado, here's what my family has been up to.

  1. I am tutoring on Monday and Wednesday mornings as well as Wednesday afternoons. I haven't been paid yet for the morning tutoring (will happen soon) but I brought in some extra cash for my afternoon tutoring already. I also took a part-time job distributing free prescription discount cards. I set my hours for that, work from home and move at my own pace. It will take me a bit to make any money on that though. Still, I'm happy that I'm doing something where I can not only make a little extra money, but help others in the process.

  2. Mr. Jaguar found some extra work on a couple Saturday nights per month. He has not started yet, so the money is yet to come in. He won't have to leave for work until 5:00 or 6:00. BabyJaguar is in bed by 8:00, so it's minimal time away from the boy. He will have to work late, but will nap when our son does.

  3. We bumped every single bill down to minimum payments to allow us to focus all of our extra cash on just one debt, our smallest one. This made a huge difference!

  4. One bill is actually paid ahead a few months (so I guess I was making a little progress before!). We made no payment to that debt this month and instead put that money towards our smallest debt.

  5. I called my cable company to talk about my bill. They knocked off $20 a month for the next year (just because I asked) and then I returned a cable box for a TV we never watch, saving myself $5.

  6. I called my car insurance company to discuss my policy. We updated my policy (only made very minor changes) and knocked money off that bill.

  7. I finally got my butt in gear and switched to mail order prescriptions. It was so easy and I should've stopped procrastinating about it a long time ago. This did not save me money this month but now I don't have to purchase my regular scripts in April or May.

  8. I cleaned out my freezers. What does this have to do with my budget? I got rid of old food. Now I know what is actually in there that I can use to make my family a meal and I have space to stock up when there is a super awesome chicken sale (was that too much enthusiasm about chicken?).

  9. I switched to store brand or cheaper brands on a few products. I use the Target brand Cetaphil face wash and switched to Tresemme shampoo. Some stuff I tried to switch to the cheapo brand and there was no comparison but where I can switch fairly painlessly, I am.

  10. I make a shopping list and stick to it. I really stop and think before I put something in my cart. I kind of hate it, but it does make shopping easier.

  11. We really worked so hard this month to stick to the budget. When we did something outside of the budget, we discussed it first. Here's where we strayed this month: Wawa $11.63 (I was at the ER with Mr Jaguar that night. At 2 am, we agreed to splurge on dinner so we could just get home and go to bed), Children's Place $3.18 (bought BabyJaguar 2 shirts with store credit, this amount was the difference in price), Wendy's $8.28 (this was a night we worked super late and just wanted the family fed), Mucinex $9.51 (it was needed), TurboTax $64.15 (did the taxes), propane for grill $18.00, watch battery $18.00, J.C.Penney's $2.75 (pants for BabyJaguar), McDonald's $2.14 (I had to go from work to physical therapy to the dentist and didn't bring any food), donation $12.84 (local homeless shelter was in need of streamers and balloons). That's it: $150.48 worth of straying. Still though, that's $150.48. All that little stuff added up.

  12. We use the Target Red Card. We have the debit version, meaning no monthly bill. It gets us an instant 5% off our order every time we shop.

  13. I'm really studying the grocery store circulars. Generally, I make a small list of sale stuff from Shop Rite and my husband and BabyJaguar go take care of that while I do the big shop at Target. Both places are very close to my house so I don't feel like we're wasting money on gas.

  14. I cancelled my gym membership. Seriously....who am I kidding? I can't even pee by myself let alone get to the gym. I take plenty of walks with BabyJaguar and that will do just fine for now.

That's all I can think of tonight. If anything else comes to me, I'll post it later. There were definitely glitches during this first month. We went over what I anticipated for groceries but I'm not holding that one against this time because I really was taking a shot in the dark when I budgeted for what to spend on groceries. I had no idea what we usually spent. Also, BabyJaguar went up a size in clothing and we realized we needed a few more items for him. Finally, Mr. Jaguar discovered a blood clot in his leg a couple weeks ago (hence the ER visit). That brought in some unexpected doctor's visit and prescription copays beyond what I had budgeted for unexpected copays. No worries, the husband is improving and should be okay. Oh, and we needed a box of diapers this month. I had less stocked up than I thought. Which reminds me....we also switched from Pampers to Target brand diapers.

So what's next? Well, we have started working on our second smallest debt so we keep plugging away at it. The husband should start his Saturday night job soon. He also has several old comic books we are looking to sell and we're going to go through BabyJaguar's old toys to get rid of a few things we are not interested in hanging on to. Those are our goals for April. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that there's a section on each monthly budget to list goals for that month. Giving this post a final read before I hit the "publish" button, I realize that people who aren't interested in debt and budgets are going to be seriously bored with this read.


Kelly said...

I am so impressed with you!! :)

VA Blondie said...

That is all very impressive!

I think on some level most of us are interested in saving money and getting out of debt. Few of us actually do it, though.

Great job!

Allison said...

Great job!! Tell me more about your distributing discount cards. I am now staying at home indefinitely since my older daughter we found to has some health issues, but I would love to do something to make a few extra bucks to treat myself to lunch or something every so often without feeling guilty.