When my husband and I were first married, we didn't have much of anything. I was fresh out of my parent's house, never having lived on my own while my husband was a corporal in the Marine Corps who had lived the bachelor life for 4 years before and hadn't really had the forethought to save for a family. Living in the baracks, my husband had never needed a car and my old clunker of a car from my parents wasn't up for making the trip from Indiana to California. So to get us started, we bought the bare essentials- an inexpensive used car with low monthly payments, a place to sit, a place to sleep and a small cheap TV so we wouldn't die of boredom. For the first few years of our marriage, we lived very modestly- no frills! For a long time we went without a kitchen table, and for side tables we used upside down boxes covered in freecycled linens. We didn't have a lot, but we got by just fine.
Around us, I saw other wives whose husbands had the same rank as my own or lower living much more lavish lifestyles. Newer cars, designer clothing and handbags, frequent shopping trips. Sure, there were a few that had their own careers too but the large majority were, like us, single income families. I could not understand where we were going wrong. Here we were trying to do everything we could to save money, and we were just getting by...designer handbags? new cars? No way was that in our budget.
I soon learned that it wasn't typically in theirs either...these people who seemed to me to have it all together financially were really up to their eyeballs in credit card debt. They were not better off than we were at all....they just had more stuff. Now I won't lie and say I was never a little envious (I was) or that I didn't want nicer things (I did), but we decided early on to make a conscious decision early on to not fall into the credit trap, and try to live within our budget.
Being a natural saver, this came pretty naturally to me (though much harder to keep my spender of a husband in check, I must admit!). I loved finding ways to save money. I found ways to get the best deals at yard sales and thrift stores. I perfected the art of negotiating and bartering. I learned to coupon and stockpile. Saving money became not just a necessity but a hobby for me.
Over time as my husband moved up in rank, we were able to have those nicer things that we once dreamed of. We still weren't rolling in money and did often find those unforeseen emergencies coming up and taking a stab at the progress we'd made, but we were still able to live a nicer lifestyle while staying within our income.
Fast forward to September 2014 when my husband's plans of retiring from the Marine Corps came to a halt at 11 years. Suddenly that income that we relied on was gone...sure, he got a pretty generous separations bonus, but we knew that wasn't going to last forever. Rather than sitting around waiting for a big break to come, he started school. A free education plus a monthly payment for housing...win/win. After a few months, a job opportunity came around...not a great paying job by any means, but it was money coming in and a job that was willing to work around his school schedule. We knew that any money coming in meant that this was less that we were taking out of our savings. Still, between the job and his housing, we are still seeing just about half of what he was making as a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps. HALF! My blogging income helps of course, but can be quite inconsistent as far as budgeting goes! As great as a saver as I am, trying to adjust our spending habits accordingly has been quite the challenge.
So, when I first heard about Mary Hunt's 'Live Your Life for Half the Price', I knew it was a must read for me...because that's exactly what I needed to relearn to do! Take a look:
You work hard for your money. You know you should save some, but it seems like every month something comes up that sets back your best laid plans. If you're tired of working hard just to get by, this user-friendly guide shows you that you can slash the cost of nearly everything you need without sacrificing joy and quality of life.
Mary Hunt shows you how to get off the monthly money roller coaster. She offers the specific techniques, resources, and motivation you need to keep more of your money every month, including:
It's time to start saving, giving, and finally making financial progress, and with humor and compassion, Mary Hunt is leading the way!
As an already frugal-minded person, I found myself reading through and finding that many of the suggestions were things that I already knew...things like buying things when they were on sale rather than when they were needed at a higher price or the value of thrift shopping. But many tips were some I had never thought of, or about things we've not yet experienced- like buying a home. These tips were practical, helpful and most importantly doable. I'll admit, I went in wondering if there was anything new I would learn, but I came out realizing I still had a ton of room for improvement.
In addition to general tips, this book is chock full of great resources- websites to help you save money on groceries, apps for budgeting and even simple recipes that are budget friendly! She doesn't just tell you what you need to do, but truly offers the resources that will help you do it.
Whether you are stuck in the cycle of debt with no end in sight, just starting out and hoping to avoid debt's vicious cycle, or in a situation like ours where you find yourself trying to get by on a decreased income, this book offers tips that can help us all!
If you'd like to learn more for yourself, Live Your Life for Half the Price won't be available until July, but you can preorder now at Family Christian.
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