Sometimes, you have no choice. You are forced to really tighten your belt and get radical at reducing expenses and saving money.
Right now, all our bills are being paid but there's not much left over. And, it sucks to be in this position.
We have three options:
1. Give up.
2. Reduce expenses.
3. Bring in more income.
I'm going back to the basics.
* I'm tracking every cent we spend. This will help me see where we have gotten lax in spending and reign it in.
* Stretch the food budget further. I'll start by using up all the foods in our freezer and pantry aka pantry challenge. Prepare more vegetarian meals. Meat will be a side dish, not the main course. Plant a container garden in Spring. Get back to couponing and do so effectively.
* Back to basics cooking. Make everything I can from scratch. Use up all leftovers. Let nothing go to waste.
* Pack my husband's lunch each day. He has no way to warm food up so I'll need to look for creative, yet inexpensive lunchbox ideas.
* Involve the family in reducing electricity usage. Turning lights off when leaving the room. Unplugging all cell phones, computers, tvs when not in use or when done charging. Keeping the thermostat lower in winter, higher in summer. Use the dryer less. Use a lamp instead of overhead lighting with multiple bulbs.
* Involve the family in reducing water usage. Short showers. Catch the cold water while waiting for water to warm up to be put to use in other ways: filling pets water bowls, watering outside plants, etc.
* Cut expenses to the bone. I cancelled Netflix at $8.99/month. I can't cancel my cable until December when the contract is up but I did save $21/month on the bill with a phone call. I could drop my cell phone and save $50/month. I honestly don't use it much anyway, but the only way Alfred would be able to contact me would be through Facebook.
* Sell valuables that we don't need or use.
* Looks for ways to bring in extra money without having to go back into the work force.
* Go over the budget/expenses weekly with Alfred so he knows exactly what is going on and where we stand.
* Buy only what is necessary for the time being. Really, there is not much we actually need at the moment.
* Make do or do without. Priorities must come first: shelter (home), utilities (electricity/water), basic hygiene needs, food, medical needs and supplies, basic clothing...
* Reduce, reuse, recycle - as much as possible.
* Find joy and content at home with projects and fun to keep us all busy and entertained. I'm quite content to spend 99% of my time at home. The rest of my family, not so much...
* Look for free outings, for those in the family that have wanderlust. Easy in the warm months because there are parks, beaches, and nature preserves/hiking trails. For Winter, I'm thinking museums with free admission/free days. I don't want to be outdoors for extended periods of time when it's freezing!
* Non-urgent needs will go on a list and will be purchased according to monies available and priority.
* Avoid paying full price as often as possible by shopping sales, and using thrift stores, yard sales and craigslist in order to get what we need at the lowest possible price.
In essence, I will be re-evaluating everything we do and making necessary changes and cuts because I'm just stubborn enough to not throw in the towel. I will stand and fight to the death if need be. But I will not give up!
I am willing to do whatever it takes to get out of debt. I am determined to conquer once and for all!