Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting Started

Jenn commented that she would like to know more about how to survive when just starting out on the road to Living on Less. They follow Dave Ramsey and had just got their emergency fund going when her husband was in an accident. Now they are back to square one. Here are a few tips I learned in the beginning:

Take a deep breath. Sounds simple but it can be tough when you are overwhelmed with debt, a job loss, or just simply a lifestyle change. Take a moment to breath and then create a game plan. Also, remember that "this too shall pass". Times won't always be so tough and a few years from now you will look back and see the amazing things God has allowed you to accomplish.

Look for small things to cut in your budget. Are you a coffee drinker? - make it at home. Is your weakness stopping somewhere for sodas or snacks? - pack them before you leave the house. I know I cannot walk into a convenience store without coming out with a soda and a snack. They tend to have the latest and greatest and I like to try new things. Therefore, I always pay for gas with a credit card at the pump and never walk in the store. This little habit can save a lot over time. Don't worry at this point about cutting everything from your budget but look for a few small items you can do without and start there.

Get a handle on groceries. Figure out a reasonable amount you want to spend on groceries weekly or monthly and then stick to it. My greatest help in this was joining The Grocery Game. This wonderful program matches coupons with sales to help you make the most of your grocery budget (if you decide to join, please use me as a referral - light52b at yahoo dot com). I have two pieces of advice for those who join or are simply looking to start a stockpile. 1) Stick to it for awhile - it will get easier. For the Grocery Game, give it the full 12 weeks - you are just getting started at 4 weeks and have not discovered the full potential of the game. 2)Start slow with your stockpile and it will build over time. Purchase your regular groceries each week and add a few stockpile items - without going over budget. Before you know it, you will have a nice stockpile and may even be able to reduce your budget more. Our current budget for a family of 3 (with #4 on the way) is $50 per week. Some weeks the sales are incredible and I go over but I almost always am under the next week so it evens out.

Sell your junk. Go through your house and identify items you no longer need or use. Sell them through a garage sale, Craigslist, or eBay. The quick cash you get can go towards bills or the emergency fund. I find the quick cash gives me enough of a boost to push me towards accomplishing my goals.

These are just a few tips to help you get on track. I'm sure many others out there have great tips too and I would love to hear them. Feel free to leave a comment or a blog link telling how you survived the beginning stages of Living on Less.


Carrie Thompson said...

I did join the grocery game adn refrenced you.

Julie said...

Thanks Carrie! If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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