(who in no way works with shrimp), a mom of four kids 5 and under (and
might be mildly insane since they were all planned), a Utah transplant
(but Oregonian at heart), and frugal living blogger at FunCheapOrFree.com.
Yup, life is good. But it wasn't always that way. Rewind five years
ago when my family and I fell into horrible debt that we never thought
we'd get out of.
My husband of eight years and I fell upon some rough financial times.
Picture $15,000 on credit cards, a $500 a month car payment, $0 in the
bank because of a real estate venture that went bad, and a new baby in
our arms -- kind of rough. We found ourselves treading water, and
I was tempted to take the Well, forget it. We're already in the hole, why not go to Disneyland on a credit card and figure it out later route.
But at the end of the day we envisioned life 5, 10, 50 years in the
future to be a life of happiness and opportunity, not one filled with
My husband and I were both frugal by nature (not into designer
brands, gravitated toward good deals, fine with hand-me-downs and
upcycling) but had never been forced to figure out finances
like that before. We had no idea where to start. It was like handing a
caveman an iPad and telling him to beat your top Angry Birds score.
More from The Stir: 10 Completely Creative Ways to Save Money
But one day we looked at each other and made the decision to change; to take control of our situation and determine our own fate. We decided we were tired of just getting by, and were ready to get ahead. And we did.
We sold our souped up Lincoln Aviator, leaving me with my car from
high school, while my husband walked to work. We stopped eating out. We
shopped yard sales. We made gifts rather than buying gifts. We took
turns babysitting with our friends. We took advantage of every free
event Salt Lake had to offer. We entered every contest we came across
(and won amazing stuff! But that's a story for a different day). I
trimmed my own hair, we cancelled our gym memberships and exercised at
home, cut our cable and played board games instead of watched TV. The
list of things we "gave up" goes on and on.
Want to know the real catch?
The list of things we gained is even longer.
Like losing weight, our new financial "diet" was tough at first. It
hurt. It felt weird. It wasn't fun. But quickly it started to change. We
saw the "weight" (debt) drop off. It gave us encouragement and
confidence, so we pushed harder. Before we knew it we had drawn closer
as a family, made better friendships, had more fun experiences and way
better stuff than we did before -- and found genuine happiness!
In just one year we got out of debt (making
just a $32,000 salary, mind you!). In two years we built up a cushy
savings. In three years we saved up enough to secure our 5,200
square-foot colonial dream home in a multi-million dollar neighborhood
in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah (that we bought on short-sale for a
screaming deal, of course). Oh, and that high school car? My husband
drove it up until three months ago when he finally sold it (in less than
24 hours) and finally bought his brand new dream truck that he's been
drooling over since we got married.
Now we live a fabulous life full of love, adventures, and true happiness -- all because of how frugal we are, not in spite of it.
I am now a Family Finance Guru (yes, that's a title I gave myself to
sound fancy). I'm no mathemetician. In fact, I'm horrible with numbers!
I'm just your typical down-home, back-woods, barefoot-and-pregnant,
wife, mom, and sugar addict. Who can't wait to have even more babies
(told you I'm crazy). Yes, we're your typical Mormon family.
My mission on my site and here on The Stir is to bring the NEW definition of frugal to the world and prove that being cheap is hip, fun, sassy and exciting!
One thing I can promise, I won't be telling you to clip coupons, and in my next column on The Stir, I will tell you why they are a total waste of your time. What other topics interest you? What questions do you have for me?
Leave me a message in the comments so I can consider it for an upcoming post!
debt and saving money? Share in the comments and Jordan may write about
it in an upcoming column!
Jordan's advice from her FunCheapOrFree blog has been featured on TLC, The Today Show, Inside Edition, Today Australia, and the DailyMail. Be sure to check out more of her frugal living and lifestyle tips. | The Stir