The effort to get our financial house in order began when we first started looking at houses. We saw the "perfect" house the first day we started looking. We put in an offer, played the negotiation game, but when it came down to crunching the numbers, we realized the mortgage payments would make every day living a bit squished. So, we ran our finances and came up with a comfortable idea of what our payments need to be. That was step 1. We found a house with a very comfortable payment. And it is the perfect house.
Step 2. I'd like to think my mom taught me well when it comes to shopping around. So, I did my research on utilities. Unfortunately, we are stuck with our water and power, but I went with a gas company that had a good rep (Clark Howard wise, anyway) and pretty competitive pricing. And I found a coupon code when I set everything up online so I get a $5 discount for the first five or 6 months. I'm good with that. We decided to save money on the trash bill by taking trash to work. I can handle that. It's only about $12 a month, but hey, that's $12! While I'm slowly realizing that cable is a waste of time (and money!), I don't think I can sacrifice that. And sacrificing internet is not an option. REALLY need to get those set up.
Step 3. SAVE SAVE SAVE! My mom has taught my VERY well the magic of couponing. Now, don't get the wrong idea. I do NOT dumpster dive for coupons. (I make the trade off in buying them online. Esentially you pay for someone to clip and ship.) Nor do I have a binder full of them. I search through the deals and find items that we would normally buy that are at an exceptionally lower price than normal. I generally don't buy something unless I have a coupon to mark it down more, but if it's a really good deal (Kraft Homestyle Mac for $1.79!) than I'll go ahead and buy it. Yes, I do stockpile. That's the important thing here. I usually buy 10-20 coupons at a time to do this. Yes, I have enough sugar to last me a year or bake a bazillion cakes. I have enough dog food for Jolie for the next 10 months. Michael has enough barbeque sauce to last until football season 2014. And we just stocked up on enough Axe shower gel to last him about two years or so. How much did this cost, you may ask? About $85. Retail? Let's just say the dog food alone would be about $80. I think that's a pretty good job. To put it all into numbers, since we moved into the house (beginning of August), we've spent $450.66 on groceries (and shower gel) and saved $594.35. Like I said, I'm no extreme couponer, but over a 50% savings is pretty awesome in my book. I would like to eventually get to the point where we only have to buy perishables. And stock up every now and then.
Step 4. Credit Cards. *GASP!* This is a hard thing for me. Very hard. If there's one thing that my birth-dad taught me, it's that credit is the key to everything...which I learned recently with the house. Ever since I've been "financially responsible" for myself (if you can call it that), I've never been late on a payment. (Okay, there have been a few times, but it's because I got two payments mixed up for the same credit card company. They were understanding and removed the late fee before it was reported.) I feel much more comfortable making payments when I get the statement because then I know it's done and I don't have to worry if we'll have money to pay it later. But...after finally combining our bills, I came to the realization that if we don't put a system in place on paying off cards faster (than making minimum payments, of course), we'll be in debt for years. Now, as some may now - if you've kept up - any debt for me is an anxiety attack. While I'm not going to say how much debt we have, it's still enough to make me uncomfortable. So, let's get it paid off!! And let's get them cut up! My ideal credit card amount is ZERO but I would like to keep a couple for emergencies.
Step 5. SAVE!! I've always heard that if you have an extra $50 left after all bills, food, gas, etc., don't put it towards one credit card. Put some in savings and the rest on a credit card. This is something that I'm really trying to do. To me, knowing that I'm putting money away instead of paying more than the minimum amount makes me feel blegh. BUT I do know about rainy-day saving. And when that rainy day comes, I'd rather have some cash and use credit only if necessary! Plus, we need to save for our trip to Italy in a couple years! Ü
So that's what I have to say. I feel like I'm in a pretty good place with money and I really don't want to be a newlywed couple that fights about money or struggles to make ends meat. I want to enjoy our married life. And when a little rugrat comes into the picture (other than Jolie!) then I hope to be somewhat financially stable! Why squander now to live in pittance later?