Currently, we are actively trying to pay off debt. My husband was taken to the tune of about $7,000.00 through an Online "opportunity" gone awry. This really put us out of our comfort zone and makes the idea of paying out of pocket for college daunting. We are by no means rich. We are barely middle class. Biting it for college expenses is going to hurt us financially. It will be challenging to say the least. I actually found myself reading Living Well on a Shoestring by Yankee Magazine last night. To me most things like this seem common sense, but it is helpful to be reminded of conscious living strategies.
With a big move on the horizon, and simple living a priority, my husband and I have made it a priority to eliminate all debt minus our mortgage, eliminate any and all possessions that are not necessary for our existence, increase our savings, and continue to tithe no matter what. I don't know if you are a person that tithes regularly, but let me tell you. The minute we mess up and don't keep tithing a priority our finances go in the toilet. My experience has been that tithing makes the difference of whether or not we make it financially. Here are my suggestions for keeping your finances comfortable:
- Tithe a minimum of 10% of your GROSS income.
- Save a minimum of 10% of your GROSS income after tithing.
- Pay your monthly obligations.
- Any remaining money should be applied to your choice of the interest bearing debt with either the smallest balance or the highest interest rate. (Pick one, and pay on it until there is no remaining balance, then target a new account.)
This is by no means easy, and it may mean eating simply and living with no frills for a time, but your future is well worth the "sacrifice". We have chosen to change a few things this year in order to enable us to make financial progress. Some changes we made are:
- Eliminate annual family vacation for summer of 2008.
- Substantially reduce Christmas spending by making gifts ahead of time.
- Stop eating out.
- Eliminate or reduce the purchase of convenience foods and animal products eating mostly fresh produce, grains, and legumes.
- Carpool whenever possible to save on gas use and expense.
- Take on side work as much as possible and apply directly to debt.
- Make all clothing purchases at resale stores or yard sales.
- Wait longer to turn on air conditioning or heating using fans or blankets and slippers as necessary to reduce energy costs.
- Have a yard sale and apply all earnings directly to debt.
This is by no means rocket science, but it does take commitment. By evaluating your income and expenses you can quickly find areas in which to cut back thereby freeing up money for what is needed; in our case paying for college unexpectedly. With a little dedication and perseverance your financial perspective can be altered for the better. If you desire more direction, Debt Free the Bible Way is a great resource.