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Living Debt Free - I heard it's Possible

Updated on August 18, 2011
Watch the Cash Add Up.
Watch the Cash Add Up.

Love > Hate > Money

I have a love/ hate relationship with money. There never seems to be enough of it for me. I cannot save money. I barely make it stretch to the next paycheck let alone beyond.

But believe it or not, I am better off than most people. I have NO credit card debt. The only loan I currently have out is that of my car loan. My expenses are those related to the cost of living.

Now there is the rub. My cost of living seems to always exceed my income. In most cases this has been my own fault. In my younger days I racked my share of department store credit cards. Sears credit taught me a very valuable lesson about credit by garnishing my wages when I fell short of payments due to unemployment issues. (I was a temp worker and sustaining consistent work was a problem) The pain of that occurrence told me that Credit Cards were EVIL. Well at least for me they are. I had very little control over my spending because if I have the money, I spend the money, even if it is virtual.

I decided then to live on a cash only basis. So after my garnishment was paid up, I paid off every single credit card and closed the accounts. Whew! That took two years. In order to do that, I had to create and follow an, OMG BUDGET. Ewe, that doesn’t even sound right coming out of my mouth. But I did it. I used the envelope system. When my check was cashed each expense was written on an envelope, the decided upon amount was put in the envelope. When the envelope was empty, there was no more spending to do. This took care of another problem I had of bouncing checks.

Now here is a problem I found. When the time came that there was more money left after filling envelopes, I created more envelopes or put more money in existing envelopes. That would have been fine if one of those envelopes said SAVINGS. But it didn’t.

Saving just wasn’t that important unless I needed to make a car repair or purchase a high end product like a good bicycle or a vacation. That’s when I got a bright idea to save money. I had payroll deduct larger withholding from my Federal and State funds so that I could get it back as a lump sum refund check. So while most folks were depressed over their Christmas spending, I was purchasing large ticket items, getting car maintenance and repairs and catching up on bills. Inevitably my after Christmas depression arrived around the month of May. Once again I was living from check to check with no savings.

Seeing that having no savings and being over the age of thirty five was a real problem, I joined my employment 401-K program. Yep, that will help my future but today I needed help. So, I also did the following: Closed my LAN line and used my mobile as my main phone, Turned off my Cable, Signed up for Netflix and Hulu Plus $7.99 and $9.99 per month respectively. Moved from my home to an apartment that included all utilities in the monthly rent. (That story is another blog in itself) O opened a Credit Union Savings account where I have no debit/credit/on-line access. I put at least $10 per pay in it and it now has $350.

Here is the conclusion of my situation. I’ve made huge improvements but I still have a long way to go. Now in my forties, I’m still fighting uphill to concur the challenges of my spending, and lack of real savings with NO strong emergency fund. (Don’t worry David Ramsey, I’m working to have $1000 emergency fund by this years end.)

So I ask you what things have you done that might help me further in saving money? I’m all ears!


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    • Carlon Michelle profile image

      Carlon Michelle 6 years ago from USA

      Wow NiaG. We are Kindred spirits. I recently lost my job and am on unemployment. I am taking this time to get the degree I should have gotten twenty years ago. Smile!

    • NiaG profile image

      NiaG 6 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Me and you see eye to eye. I couldn't help but chuckle all the way through as you sound like me. I just recently cut my cable back to basic and am only relying on Netflix for my movie viewing. I made a big step though to save money 3 years ago and that was going back to school. Making what I was making would have taken me years to pay off my debt. I was fortunate enough to be able to go back.

    • Carlon Michelle profile image

      Carlon Michelle 6 years ago from USA

      I hope your plan works out for you too. Take time to think before your purchase too. If you leave it to the next day and you still see the need for it then it's a good purchase and generally not an impulse buy. Smile!

    • jwhitman profile image

      jwhitman 6 years ago from Albany, New York

      I like the idea of using envelopes to allot cash for expenses and when its gone its gone. I always run short on money right around august. I'm a teacher so I don't get a check after June 20th....I never manage to save enough to get me through! This year i'm going to have money direct deposited into a separate account that I can't access until summertime. Hopefully that will work out for me!