I wrote a little bit about our budgeting process a couple weeks ago, and it kind of whetted my appetite to want to dig deeper into our process and see what was working, and what could work better.
Our Advent resolve to stop eating out was a huge revelation, both in terms of the kind of money we were spending on that luxury and convenience, and how empowering it felt to be able to say "no" to ourselves, and to the kids, over and over again, for almost a solid month.
We did it. And we can do it for longer.
We sat down with our budget and figured out that if we cut back in a dramatic, nuclear fashion, we can be completely debt free in a little over 14 months. That means this time next year, we'll be 8 weeks from financial freedom.
That blows my mind.
We've been budgeting for the past 5.5 years and we've paid off a TON of debt in that time. But here's the thing, we had a TON to start with. So we're left with about half of our total debt to plow through.
We crunched some numbers and talked late into the night and came away with a list of tangible changes we can make in 2015 that we think will set us up to be completely debt free by March of 2016.
To think that we could pay off in 14 months the same amount that took us more than 5 years to retire is...insane. Humbling. Crazy exciting.
I think we'd be in an even better position, financially, had we not cash flowed an international move and three babies, but...I don't regret a single decision we've made, in that regard.
Now that we're locked solidly into our jobs, our incomes are stable (and higher than they were before babies, btw - God works in mysterious ways!) and our immediate needs are met, we think that we can get crazy, gazelle-intense aggressive in 2015.
Here are some examples of how crazy I'm talking:
- No more shopping at Target. Like, ever. Not while there are zeros on the wrong side of our bank account. I'm not knocking their prices, and I'm already mourning the loss of my beloved Up and Up diapers, but I know myself, and I cannot NOT walk out those doors without a minimum of $40 worth of random crap I didn't need and shouldn't have bought.
- All our grocery shopping will be preplanned, done in cash, and done on a weekly basis. When I run to the store every day or two, I over spend. Every time. No more wandering into the store at 4:52 pm after the gym, roving aimlessly with hungry toddlers through the produce aisle and walking away with a disappointing rotisserie chicken and a $36 hole in the checking account.
- We're canceling Amazon Prime. Sob.
- Dropping my mother's helper down to once per week. I don't have the stomach to cut her loose entirely, but 50% is a good savings.
- No eating out. Like, at all. Unless it's from either of our $25 monthly "blow" allotments.
- Asking "Do we need it? Did we plan for it? Can we live without it?” about every single purchase. And using cash for EVERYTHING not on auto bill pay.
- No travel, outside of work trips, period. (Might be a no brainer for most families but we have this persistent habit of globe trotting that sorely needs to be retired for a year or ten.)
I think we can do this. I believe that it's 100% within our reach to get out of debt in the next year and some change, and that it has 99% to do with our behavior and the choices we make in that time period. Disasters and illnesses notwithstanding, we can be free.
Meanwhile, I've got to get to work meal planning, thinking up 101 ways to plan a date night using Grandma and Grandpa's Netflix password, and pondering where in the world my cheap diapers and pull ups are going to come from now.
Any New Year's resolutions at your house? Do tell.