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mrspopo 02-09-2013 01:31 PM

Looking at the big picture (this is a long one)
When I first got interested in this forum maybe a year and a half ago we were already in a fairly good spot. But staying home with a new baby and the need to tighten our belts really got me interested. This forum really helped motivate me and gave me the kick in the pants I needed.

I really wanted to get monthly spending set to a specific budget. So having a specific amount for groceries was my first goal. And I can happily look through my spreadsheet and see just how well we've stayed under... versus before where it varied a lot and seemed to grow each month. Just being aware of the spending and making an effort to meal plan made a big difference to the food budget.

Then those pesky entertainment extras. I think we'd already gotten rid of the phone by then, but I definitely got the push I needed to do without the TV - best decision ever. We still get a dozen or so channels, so it's perfect. They lure you in with bundled service so you think you're saving money but you're not! Our triple bundle was a little over a hundred a month, and our super fast internet-only plan is $40.

Car insurance was another one we were over-paying on. Just doing the research and calling around really helped. It went from $110 a month down to $57 for 2 cars. We were able to combine it with homeowners, and get lots of other discounts.

Cell phones is the next one we're tackling since our 2 year contract is just about to end. Looks like that one is going to go from $107 a month to about $40.

I heard someone else IRL describing their cell phone plan at almost $200 a month, and I just felt so great knowing how much I've managed to get our monthly bills and spending down. We've also started contributing to his retirement plan with 20% employer matching, AND finally have health insurance. I still hate the cost of health insurance and feel like we'll always pay more in premiums and deductibles than in benefits... but I *think* it feels nice overall.

We've put several thousand extra towards his student loan debt. It used to seem just so overwhelming and the interest is *only* (this is what I kept telling myself) 5%. But this has become a huge priority. And because of it we're taking several years off of it, down to just 3 years. We'll be able to make more big payments on it too, so it's even closer than that. We're getting to the point of daydreaming about those extra several hundred dollars a month and what we can spend it on - vacation? pay our mortgage faster (and get 100% debt free!?!), kids college fund, home remodel projects etc... We're looking beyond the immediate future and into the big picture stuff. There's some nitty gritty unpleasant stuff that goes along with being thrifty and budgeting, and the progress can be hard to see. But the big picture stuff is just great. Thank you to everyone that's helped me as we've gone through this journey. This forum has helped me in so many ways. There are some truly amazing people here :)

Fishie Kisses 02-09-2013 01:44 PM

Re: Looking at the big picture (this is a long one)
Great job!!! We're right there with you. It's all about baby steps. When our cell-phone contracts are up, we're going to a month-to-month type thing I think. When our DirecTv contract is up, we're going with Hulu and/or Netflix only. I have implemented the cash system and we have a BEF.

Leanbh 02-09-2013 03:19 PM

Re: Looking at the big picture (this is a long one)
Yep all the little things add up. We have a more basic cable plan but even that is high IMO at $80 a month, but it was $20 for a year so that was nice. I too almost fall over when I hear people's cell phone or tv bills which seem to be about $200 each for some people!!

Tons of great tips in this forum for sure :)

ctj101502 02-09-2013 10:24 PM

Re: Looking at the big picture (this is a long one)
Way to go! Amazing how quick and easy it is to slash expenses when you start working on it. Our big goal is to pay off our home. We just refinanced this fall so 30 yrs seems daunting, but our goal is 10 yrs, then, well who knows, we may just turn the heat up to 65 in the winter and 75 in the summer :giggle: (60 in winter 82 in summer, Only as warm as It is in winter due to new baby) hard to imagine what you will do with extra money when it is so far away

clothlover8 02-10-2013 05:40 AM

Re: Looking at the big picture (this is a long one)
That's awesome!! Well done, I agree, I have learnt so much here and my finances are in much better shape now.

NotLad 02-10-2013 05:45 AM

Re: Looking at the big picture (this is a long one)
I'm with ya on the cell phone thing. My BIL and SIL told me they were paying $250 a month I nearly passed out. And that was WITHOUT data!

If it weren't for Virgin mobile, I'd ditch the cell phone and just have a landline. I refuse to have a combined bill over $50!

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