9.25.2012

Bottom Line {September}

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When I look at those numbers, I'm actually a wee bit stunned. When we first looked at our mortgage back in January of this year, we still owed 59.3% of our 30 year mortgage. By May (when I started sharing our Bottom Line progress), we owed 51.6% - still over half of our mortgage. Since that time, we have buckled down, stopped 95% of our unnecessary spending, and we've been  able to knock that number down to the point that we now have just 19.5% left to pay before the house is 100% ours. 

I realize that I've never come right out and said how much our mortgage is, and without doing so now, let me say that we are well under the average mortgage amount in America. Although we made a lot of financial mistakes in our early years of marriage, one of the things that we did right was to buy a house that fit comfortably within our budget. In other words, we were never house poor

Over the years, we have made a variety of choices that have allowed us to live well within our means. Long before we heard of Dave Ramsey, we were already going against the flow of society, living like no one else. I thought I would share a few things that we do, and don't do, to encourage a review of your "must haves". This is not to say that what is working for us, will work for you, but these are ten examples of what we have cut or chosen not to pay for, that have assisted in getting us to the point where we now find ourselves.

Our {Top 10} Ways to Save
  1. In the 12+ years we have been married, we have never had cable TV
  2. We stayed on our cheap dial-up internet connection until 2009 (when we switched to DSL, we got a great deal through our phone company that they continue to honor even though they no longer offer it, and the company has been sold)
  3. We don't take yearly vacations - and if we do go somewhere, we split the cost with family members
  4. We refuse to pay $100+/month for 2 cell phones, so we researched alternative phone companies, and ended up selecting Page Plus Cellular. They use the Verizon network (so we get the same coverage as we did when we were with that company that ripped us off Verizon), there's no contract, and no extra taxes or fees. We pay a straight $29.95/month for 1200 minutes, 3000 texts, and 100 MB of data (our phones both have Wi-fi capability, so when there is free Wi-fi, we connect that way, rather than using data). With Page Plus, it is possible to have cell phone coverage for as low as $30/year! 
  5. We paid cash for our used cars that we purchased through private sales, and we intend to keep them until we have enough money saved to buy with cash again.
  6. We don't go to the movie theater. [Insert Collective {GASP} Here] At $20 a pop - just for tickets - it just doesn't make sense to us. We have enough self-control to wait until whatever movie we might want to see is released to DVD, and then - if we still want to see it - we rent it for $1 from Redbox
  7. It's been almost a year since we rented a movie from Redbox. Yes, even $1 has stopped us.
  8. We shop with reward points. I've paid for clothes from Lands End with points earned on my Shop Your Way loyalty card (from Sears). It's not even a credit card - it's a loyalty card that costs you nothing! We shop through Ebates and earn money back for online purchases. And we signed up for a credit card (yes, very anti-Dave) through one of our favorite stores, and have paid for Christmas shopping, household items, food, car parts, and more with the cash-back rewards that we have earned by using the card to pay for gas, groceries, and monthly utilities.
  9. We limited going out to eat by learning how to cook. Even paying more for fresh, higher quality ingredients, we are still saving money. 
  10. And since the credit card has been mentioned - we pay it off, in full, every month. We never carry a balance, and we don't pay late fees or high interest rates. It is possible to use a credit card responsibly, IF you have already developed the habit of living within your means. Because of our financial self-discipline, we get the benefit of using rewards points, and still remain debt-free.
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And there you have it. Ten ways that we save money to help us reach our bigger financial goals.

Next Bottom Line Update: 10/30/12

Now it's YOUR turn!

What ways/methods do YOU use for staying on track with your financial goals?
What is the best way you have found for staying financially fit?


5 comments:

  1. Our top 10 looks a little different than yours, although we do several of the same things (5,6,7,8,9). We're both frugal by nature and upbringing, and Dave Ramsey's stuff has been a great help. No mortgage yet, but we've paid off over $30K in medical debt, by using a modified version of the envelope system!

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    1. Love that envelope story, Elizabeth! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Oh, Carrie. I'm still reading diligently every time you post, but am a super slacker commenter. I always find your financial posts very heartening. We got in a large amount of credit card debt after we were first married (moved across the country, didn't budget for our honeymoon, I couldn't find a job) and it was hard. Due to budgeting much like the kind you outlined, we were out of it in about 2 years. While we still have our mortgage and some school debt from my most recent adventures, we bought our last car outright, paid a chunk on one of my school loans just recently and NEVER carry credit card debt, but we do use it...just paying it off each month, sometimes earlier than that. We're hoping with both of us working full time that we will be able to hammer down much of that remaining balance over the next few years. It's a process, but we are learning. Anyway, still love reading even though I'm not around as a commenter as much.

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    1. Kim - always good to see you, whenever you comment! :) Congrats on getting out from under the credit card debt and for your continued steps towards being debt free - keep up the good work! :)

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  3. I always love your financial updates!! It's amazing to see the progress on paying off your mortgage. Thanks for sharing these examples of the decisions you guys have made that have contributed to your success. Wish we had been as smart about cell phones! Let's see -- I know we can do much better than we've been doing, but here are a few things: we almost never eat out anymore, we are thrifty about clothing purchases and wear things till they wear out, and we do pay off our credit card bills each month.

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There are more than 400,000 words in the English language. My only request of you is this: Use them wisely.

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