Guest Post by Donna Fitzgerald
Last year, our family was in debt and we still are. Really, which family doesn’t have debt from time to time, but I felt our family unit starting to crumble under the weight of overwhelming debt. This year, my husband and I made resolutions to manage our money successfully, stay afloat, cut out our financial stress, and provide a more promising future for our children. Seems a bit daunting, but if we survived last year, I believe we can do anything.
It began in the fall of last year. As I walked our daughters, ages 5 and 8, to school on the first day, I received a call from my husband. I assumed that he was calling to wish the girls a “happy first day”, but as soon as I heard his voice I knew something was wrong. Knowing that our girls pay close attention to every phone call I receive, I played it off like no big deal ( I didn’t want them to worry…we have worriers).
“I was let go of my job,” he said, “I’m so sorry.” My husband’s voice began to break over the phone, I had only heard it do that three times in our life together. My husband worked at a university as an adjunct professor and there were rumors of major budget cuts, but he had assured me that his position was secure. He was one of the first to be let go and he had no real security at all. I felt my heart sink. We were already struggling financially, but my husband’s income was keeping us financially afloat.
“It’s okay,” I managed to find the words. ”We will figure it all out.”
Months later, as the bills were mounting up and my husband’s multiple interviews brought little promise, we were slowly unraveling. Our daughters began to notice the lack of harmony in our home, as my husband and I grew impatient with one another. We thought we were financially organized. We thought we had it all figured out.
As I talked with a close friend one afternoon over coffee, she simply asked, “Well, what’s your budget?” I stared at her, like a deer in headlights. We didn’t have a budget. How could we be so irresponsible…and budget-less? Our personal finances were a complete mess and we’d been in denial for such a long time. After dropping the girls off at a friend’s house, I returned home, grabbed a notepad, our large stack of bills, a glass of wine, and created a budget with my husband.
After I got over the initial tears and minor panic attack of sitting down and figuring out all of our monthly expenses, we quickly realized where we were overspending. After a month, we began to notice that we were saving a couple hundred dollars by simply cutting the following (we can do much more):
- We got rid of cable and kept a streaming service
- I started buying clothes at second-hand stores
- We stopped buying brand name foods, started couponing, and signed up for the store reward program
- We stopped driving our second car and did more carpooling
- We started hosting potlucks rather than going out to eat with friends
- I gave up my daily latte and started making my own version at home
- I cancelled two magazine subscriptions and opted for the free limited online version
More Time at Home Equals Family Time
Our family was hurting and in order to fix the hurt and confusion of a stressful situation, we needed to spend more time together. As my husband and I were trying to sort our financial mess out, our daughters were spending a lot of time with friends and family. We felt guilty and selfish. In the past, we used to go out to eat multiple times a week and we’d return home to our own screen time and we thought we were a happy family, but we needed help.
Now, we take turns cooking dinner each night and the girls are in charge of creating a meal one night a week. They find a recipe they would like to try, watch a video, and ask us for help if they need it. Instead of going to the movies a couple of times a month, we go to the library and check out movies or watch movies on our streaming service. We pay attention to “free” events around town, such as art and musical festivals and we spend more time outdoors.
Money Management Takes Time, Be Patient
My husband found a temporary position at the community college and we continue to save money by not spending as much. Our debt did not happen overnight. Getting out of debt will not be easy either. We have a long way to go, but we are slowly improving our debt. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
How has your family saved money and cut debt?
Meet the Author:
Donna Fitzgerald is a guest blogger who enjoys composing various works around health and family wellness subjects. She is an avid reader and writer. In her spare time, you can find Donna enjoying the calm ocean waters, while she relaxes at the beach. Generally, she is accompanied by a novel. Donna has two daughters, and is an advocate for helping other families remain healthy through finances and health aspects.
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