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So where did you start? I am now using Dave's program to get the ball rolling, but I am curious where everyone started to cut back to live at or below their means? It sounds weird I know but I LOVE that everyone has their own story!

My Story - Single Mom and I help support my Mommy - Had a fabulous job made well over $100,000 until the bottom feel out of the construction industry here in Florida. I went from making that to making 1/20 of that which is still better then most but my biggest problem is that I was still spending like I was making the higher salary and now here it is 11 yrs later and I just want to CRY... I have used all my saving except for my IRA and a small nest egg I use in case of emergency. My child has gotten use to a certain way of life which unfortunately I have created - but in the mean time my home is falling apart since I take money that should be for repairs to keep her happy - yes I know this is VERY VERY wrong and I have to change it... I am just trying to get a barring of where to start :) ( PLEASE DON'T JUDGE)
 

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So where did you start? I am now using Dave's program to get the ball rolling, but I am curious where everyone started to cut back to live at or below their means? It sounds weird I know but I LOVE that everyone has their own story!

My Story - Single Mom and I help support my Mommy - Had a fabulous job made well over $100,000 until the bottom feel out of the construction industry here in Florida. I went from making that to making 1/20 of that which is still better then most but my biggest problem is that I was still spending like I was making the higher salary and now here it is 11 yrs later and I just want to CRY... I have used all my saving except for my IRA and a small nest egg I use in case of emergency. My child has gotten use to a certain way of life which unfortunately I have created - but in the mean time my home is falling apart since I take money that should be for repairs to keep her happy - yes I know this is VERY VERY wrong and I have to change it... I am just trying to get a barring of where to start :) ( PLEASE DON'T JUDGE)
The first step is acknowledging that things need to change and so good for you on taking this first step. I think that it is important that your child is on the same page and you need to have a heart to heart with your child. We have raised 5 boys (youngest is now 17). By the age of 15, they were buying all their own clothes and 'wants'. They had a paper route by the age of 12 and, while it didn't pay a whole lot of money, they had to save from that. Believe it or not, even with just a paper route and then part time summer jobs/after school jobs, they were able to save enough to pay for their first year of university. I don't say this to brag but just to make you aware that some times we underestimate what kids are capable of. If they know they have to save, they will or they will be walking around with holes in their shoes. Our youngest has now found a job milking cows - it's pretty dirty work and crazy hours but it's a job and he has learned not to be picky because it means money in the bank. Our boys know that we don't pay for their university education and they have to work for it themselves.

As for the biggest tip, it is pretty simple really...spend less than you earn...and, when the times are good, save and save some more. All the best!
 

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I guess I was lucky, I was taught to save from a very young age. Had a real bank book and everything.

DH and I knew we wanted to buy a house, so we started saving together even before we were married. When the time came, the mortgage program had requirements on income, down payment etc, and we did not need all the money we had saved. Also they loaned us extra money to fix up the house and it only cost us about 25% of what they had loaned us. So we made some money there.

This was in the early 1980's when Money Market funds were paying 16%. We built a second house on the property, rented out the first, and have been ahead ever since. We rarely took on any debt other than mortgage, and if we did it got paid off quickly.

We were prime examples of the "If you live like no one else..." saying. We lived a very frugal lifestyle by choice for many years. I am just sad that I am the only one left to enjoy the fruits of our years of savings.
 

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Sounds like you know where to start.
Things have changed honey and we cant afford to do xyz right now I need to repair the house.
Start by listing all your expenses,. prioritize the most imp. like rent or mortgage. then take what you make and start minusing. D.R. teaches the budget in his book.
Kids learn self discipline and attitude from the parents. If you pout they pout,if you get excited about something new they will. It's garage sale season. Give the kids cash to make decisions and you shop too. This is how mine learned to budget. Mine went on their own and came home w/ some clunkers but that's how you learn too.
We went from $200,000 in debt after Dh's accident and the mortgage to No debt for about 2-3 yrs now. Dh has been unemployed almost 3 mo.and we are still good.
 

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also at 15 your daughter is old enough to start earning her own spending money. Is it possible she can do babysitting, dogwalking, housecleaning, etc. in your area?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
one of my biggest problems is time... she goes to school and has practice 4 days a week :/ from 2-8 so the days she is off she does chores and homework... not much of a social life. She does stuff envelopes for me at my job 1x a month which usually earns her about $40.00 and she picks up odd jobs from my stepfather occasionally. So finding time for her to actually work is a little more difficult that what you would think. She is a competitive Gymnast and Cheerleader which will be her full scholarship ride for college - so I don't want to lose that
 

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I can relate to the lifestyle deflation. I suffered through a health problem that caused loss of my job. I chewed through my savings/investments. Health problem never quit. Then recession of 2008 hit, big business closed here and the wages PLUMMETED. Work situations have gotten so bad here, I'm just hanging onto the SSDI check & save enough to move for better job options. I gave up 10 years trying to hang onto housing in a depressed area that I really started to hate anyway....I majored in low-paying area so my income was always modest but I could always support myself fine enough for my taste plus extra.

I understand kids are VERY attached to their friends and social-life. But, a change in living arrangements to lower cost housing, maybe lower cost of living area & money saving efforts would be good skills for children to learn. Some kids do not even have a clue how to cook anything any longer or even manage to pay the light bill before the $200 pair of jeans.
 

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When the recession hit me and DH were early twenties, had just got married, bought our first home, and a new car. 2 months later, we BOTH got laid off from the job we worked at, same day! I instantly went into panic mode. We had a young son, new house, new car and no income. We stayed unemployed for 1.5 years!! I was in school, and got my clinical assignment 81 miles ONE WAY from my home. I had to pay gas, and drive there daily. I sobbed when I found out, but it was my one chance of getting a good paying job, and I needed to finish school. I also got pregnant with our second son during that time. It was rough. We "rented" out our lower level of our house, just so we didn't lose the house. I had always cooked meals, but now I was making things from scratch. I taught myself to can, I found out about Dave Ramsey. I found this forum.

It's been uphill ever since. We've still had road bumps, but we sold that home and made 10k on it, we became debt free after that for a short while until both our cars crapped out on us. We moved into a bigger beautiful house in the country. Although I'm dealing with a new Murphy (having to buy a new car) not everything is going to happen at once for us. As long as we are improving each day, it's the only thing I can ask for. I anticipate in a few years we will be using our credit cards like FW2, just to earn money back bonuses on them. We will have a car fund for the next time a car takes a crap. We will be able to do more fun things, take more vacations, continue to pay out of pocket for DH school. The journey can get frustrating because you just want it all to be better NOW. but the lessons I'm learning along the way is what's going to keep me money smart for the rest of my life!
 

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I've been chasing my tail from day one. I had some money from a settlement and blew it...blew it all!! 20K - gone! I got married, had a kid, got divorced and learned a few things. But then I got pregnate, married the jerk and divorced him. We were in debt big time! I filed for bankruptcy and should have learned my lesson...but no, I didn't. At least during all of this I kept persuing my education - thank god! About 8 years ago I finally started to figure it out and started to make better money because my education started to open doors for me. 3 years ago the "pay off my debt" bug hit me and I really started to change my ways and was able to make small dents in my debt. Then this year I finally got a really good paying job and the bug has hit me hard! I have a 3 year plan to be debt free. I'm currenlty at $240k - 2 houses and student loans. I stopped taking on consumer debt 3 years ago and it made a huge difference. I choase to pay off the highest interest debt first to get the most bang for my buck. $1 here, $5 there is all adds up over time.

My advice is to plug the damn first. Be honest with your daughter that you can't afford it. Then start to chip away at the debt. Good luck and you will make it if you make a plan and keep at it!!
 

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Well, the first start is the budget, of course. As 'they' say, it does take a few rounds (at least!) to get the hang of that. The easiest areas to cut money (as in, hard at first, but after a while, you don't miss it):
-entertainment- ditch the cable, look into far cheaper alternatives like a Roku or your local library for free rentals, rarely go out to dinner or the movies.
-Grocery- shop the sale ads, learn to 'stockpile' to keep costs down, use local blogs to match sales and coupons. Eating on the go should become a rare treat- learn to plan ahead and pack things to bring for those crazy nights
- utilities- work on being conscientious and trimming down that monthly water/electric bill
-clothing- chances are, you really don's NEED more clothes. Eliminate clothing from your budget for a while and live with what you have
-cell- if possible, shop for a better deal. If you face a possible cancellation fee, weigh the possible savings against it and see which will cost you more in the long run
-gas- consolidate your trip into as few as possible- combine errands, plan ahead

These are all areas where I found I could cut back with some ease once we began taking our finances seriously.

PLEASE don't be offended by this last one, really. I ask it hypothetically as only you need know the answer, but I think this needs consideration- can you REALLY afford to keep your daughter in her activities? I have no idea what they cost you each month, but I bet they cost a bit. I know she loves them and you have hopes of a college ride from them, but there are other ways, and if the costs of them are hurting your financial security, it's something to think on. She can always get academic scholarships to college, or live at home and attend community college, paying as she goes and working part time to help fund it, if needs be. I understand that no parent likes to hear that, but I think it may be part of your equation that shouldn't be overlooked. If gymnastics and cheering are eating up a good part of your monthly income, it may be time to have her help pay for them or figure out how to cut them back to something you can afford.

We had to cut back and reevaluate kids' activities as we got our finances in order. It stinks, but it's the reality of some of our situations.
 

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Dh and I were raised frugal . . . but everyone can always cut back. . . and we were forced to cut back when dh got sick (diganosed with ALS at age 30) and we had to go for six months without any income from him.

I started brown bagging all my meals for work, and the kids were only allowed to choose ONE hot lunch at school a week. Those two things alone saved us over $100/month (this was 20+years ago).

I remade the boys clothes into items for my dd -- covered football logos with appliqued kittens on t-shirts, added lace to to jeans and button down shirts, etc.

Entertainment had to be free or almost no cost -- free concerts in the park, board games at home, etc. We borrowed /traded DVD's with friends.

All birthday and Christmas gifts were handmade from items we had on hand. Family got lots of food items for gifts (odd jam/jellies, shelled nuts from our walnut, hickory and pecan trees, etc.)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, the first start is the budget, of course. As 'they' say, it does take a few rounds (at least!) to get the hang of that. The easiest areas to cut money (as in, hard at first, but after a while, you don't miss it):
-entertainment- ditch the cable, look into far cheaper alternatives like a Roku or your local library for free rentals, rarely go out to dinner or the movies.
-Grocery- shop the sale ads, learn to 'stockpile' to keep costs down, use local blogs to match sales and coupons. Eating on the go should become a rare treat- learn to plan ahead and pack things to bring for those crazy nights
- utilities- work on being conscientious and trimming down that monthly water/electric bill
-clothing- chances are, you really don's NEED more clothes. Eliminate clothing from your budget for a while and live with what you have
-cell- if possible, shop for a better deal. If you face a possible cancellation fee, weigh the possible savings against it and see which will cost you more in the long run
-gas- consolidate your trip into as few as possible- combine errands, plan ahead

These are all areas where I found I could cut back with some ease once we began taking our finances seriously.

PLEASE don't be offended by this last one, really. I ask it hypothetically as only you need know the answer, but I think this needs consideration- can you REALLY afford to keep your daughter in her activities? I have no idea what they cost you each month, but I bet they cost a bit. I know she loves them and you have hopes of a college ride from them, but there are other ways, and if the costs of them are hurting your financial security, it's something to think on. She can always get academic scholarships to college, or live at home and attend community college, paying as she goes and working part time to help fund it, if needs be. I understand that no parent likes to hear that, but I think it may be part of your equation that shouldn't be overlooked. If gymnastics and cheering are eating up a good part of your monthly income, it may be time to have her help pay for them or figure out how to cut them back to something you can afford.

We had to cut back and reevaluate kids' activities as we got our finances in order. It stinks, but it's the reality of some of our situations.
Not offended at all I am proud to say I do it by fundraising :) Her Highschool cheer including a trip to North Carolina was paid in full with Fundraising and I am now working on getting a sponsor for the other. - so really it's not much of my budget :)
 

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Ten years ago (wow! time flies!) I was married, 16 y/o kid at home, dual incomes, and hated my job. We were $54k in debt not including the house. And I saw no end in site of my miserable job due to the payments. Until that one day, at work, saw a quote by a man named Dave Ramsey. I googled him there and that was the start of the transformation.

I actually quit that job, and then we were single income. But I was determined to do it!! I became a stay-at-home-"mom", but my new job was to get out of debt!! I went tee totally nutso doing it, and had a BLAST!! Our debt consisted of 19k in my student loans, 11k on a motorhome, and 24k on a car that was worth only 18k at the time.

I read every book about money I could get my hands on.. I still have the list somewhere, lol. The good ones I read more than once. Started using it's strategies. Sold the motorhome. Went to work on the upside down car, attacked it until it had a bit of equity, then traded down for something with a smaller loan of which we paid off, then started in on the student loan. After a year of me not working, I found a part time decent paying job and we just snowballed everything we could paying off that student loan, and were having a ball doing it. There's nothing like being able to pay between 2-4k per month (towards the end) on your last debt. Even got to scream it out on Dave's show with the kid. :) She didn't always understand what we were trying to accomplish, but got into it herself, as well. Had some fun with it, too. Today, at 26, she thanks me for all that did then because she learned some lessons. She's hit bottom a few times already and knows there's always a way to save on money... that, or she comes to mom for tips. :)

I tried it all with the saving money aspects.. shopped thrift stores, shopped grocery sales and stockpiled and cooked from my pantry and freezer instead of making a grocery list, shopped insurance for better rates, cut cable to the bone, sold some stuff, made homemade gifts, got to know my library very well, made my own cleaning products, you name it. I even tried making my own hairspray once, lol.

After this we sold the house, moved south, and bought a house in cash. There's been a few ups and downs since then, including the death of my hubby after a 2 year fight with cancer. So now I'm widowed, with a grown daughter, still debt free. I still use many of the things I learned those years ago. I still detest consumerism. I still go to the thrift store. I still shop the sales at the grocery store. I kinda have to now, but even if I didn't, I'd still be doing it the same way.

That's awesome you're able to keep up with your daughter activities through fund raising!! Even better if it'll pay for her college, nice! :) Hang in there.
 

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Wow PAMMY that's an AMAZING STORY! You are an INSPIRATION... and I am very sorry for the loss of your husband. I have been a little MIA due to the end of school and some "personal" issue I have been dealing with but I am back and thank you so much for sharing!
 

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Your daughter has 6hrs of practice, 4 days a week? That's pretty intense.

Tracking everything is where I always suggest starting. As far as your child's lifestyle, having an honest discussion with her might get her to find ways to lower your costs. Then you both are contributing to the household.
 

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I ask it hypothetically as only you need know the answer, but I think this needs consideration- can you REALLY afford to keep your daughter in her activities?
I have a opinion on this, lol. thankfully, my separation agreement says we each pay for activities with a formula that has us pay a certain amount based on income, i.e.: my spouse made a lot more than me so splitting 50/50 wasn't fair. Then we have a clause that if one parent disagrees with an activity, the one who wants it, pays. Even then, my kids' activity fees ate up a huge portion of my child support. We live in a town where there is a lot of wealth, so kids are doing all these crazy activities. Ex wanted those for our kids, like he really wanted my son to get into sports, so we tried a bunch of things that were a total waste of money as the kid just wanted to play music. Ok, fine by me. Their dad is a musician, he values music education, I do, as well but it got to be way too much. DD started violin and private lessons very young. But my ex had to have top notch everything and violin size changes umpteen times as the child grows. He had a way to get these supposedly great Chinese violins at cost but they were way more than i ever could or would spend. I finally had to play the "I don't agree with this, I am not paying" card. As she grew, he sold the violins at a profit and got the next size up. I told him do not tell me what her full size violin cost, I truly do not want to know. Kids do not need the best of everything. Violin ended up being very expensive but she just got into the state orchestra and she loves playing. Yes, that will help with college but whatever we save from it in scholarships, we've probably paid at least double that over the years paying for the activity. So is it really worth it? I just think we could've gone a cheaper route. The orchestra goes to Paraguay this year, great, wonderful opportunity but come on, all these parents can really afford a trip to Paraguay? He signed her up for Business Camp in Chicago, 3k/wk, airfare and business attire. That was the second time I put my foot down. There are plenty of camps around here, there was no way I would contribute to this 5k-likely camp. We may live among the wealthy, but we are NOT wealthy.

My son wanted private lessons in THREE instruments. To me, that's insane. I said I would pay my share for one set of private lessons, the school offers group lessons for the others. My ex is not the nicest, he makes sure the kids know if I have put my foot down on something, that I don't care about them, that kind of crap. But sometimes kids just need to hear "no, I'm very sorry, that is not in the budget, let's find something that is." I think it's GOOD for a child to be taught young that there is a budget and why we can't go over it. And I worked very hard to teach them about how to handle money.

My DS, who needed all those private lessons because he was going to be a music teacher, is still bitter that I drew the line. "I will never be a music teacher because of you!" Well, he graduated and has decided to take a year to "chill". So all those lessons will have been meaningless unless he gets his tush into school. And I did tell him, "you may never be a music teacher, but not because of me, but because of your choices." He needs tough love, show him he cannot live on minimum wage but he lives with ex who does not agree that the year of "chilling" should not be very comfortable.

DD is thrifty, very good with saving money. When she gets clothes, she is so price conscious that I know that kid, is MY kid. She can stretch a dollar til it cries. DS had his first job last summer. He spent what he made on "cool" guitar stuff and Chipotle. I had to sit down with him with his debit statement and one of his paychecks and show him the humongous percentage that went to Chipotle. He doesn't get it yet.

well, long story long, this is how I dealt with activities. Towards the end, almost all of child support went to activities. That's just crazy and completely unnecessary, IMHO.

Good luck! And just remember, it's ok to say 'no' and teach them why. Maybe as adults they'll remember your money lessons more than some extravagant activity.
 

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We both are rather frugal but each in our own way. I am more the "envelop system" kind of frugal. As a matter of fact, without any guidance I used the envelop system when I first moved out on my own. I knew my parents wouldn't support me and I was terrified of being left destitute. My husband grew up very poor in a large family. I've mentioned he is a hoarder. If you knew his parents, you could see where he got it from. In his first marriage his wife was LDS (Mormon) and if you know anything about that religion you know they like to have at least one year of food on hand (preferably two). That is right up hubby's alley. Stockpiling is his form of frugal and I learned a lot from him.

When we got married, hubby had 4 children from his previous marriage and was paying a decent amount in child support. His ex-wife decided I should start contributing to "her" child support, too, and took us to court (she didn't work and didn't want to). No matter what we offered she insisted we go to court which just racked up our attorney fees. In the end, we got ordered to pay what we had been offering all along. Between paying off the attorney and the increase in child support, our budget tightened.

About that time Amy Dyczan came out with the "Tightwad Gazette Newsletter". I can't even remember how I heard about it but I subscribed and she inspired me.

Hubby and I were each working full time professional jobs and earning 6-digit salaries but we had nothing to show for it - as a matter of fact, we had a lot of credit card debt. We were exhausted all the time, trying to raise 4 kids, had a mortgage on a tiny starter home and then ... my husband's father died. My mother-in-law wasn't yet 65 and rarely worked so she didn't qualify for her own Social Security and my FIL didn't because he usually owned his own business. They had almost zero savings and shortly after her death she had a stroke so couldn't work. We suddenly found ourselves supporting three families: ours, my MIL, and hubby's ex-wife (even though she gave us custody of the kids she couldn't make ends meet unless we continued paying something in child support so she could go to school to qualify for a job - long story.) Anyway, Amy offered a dream where we were never in debt and even owned our house without a mortgage.

I was hooked!

We severely limited our budget. I went several years where we never paid more that $5 for an article of clothing ($20 if it was a coat). I regularly clothed the kids with items I found for $1 or less (frequently new!) We challenged ourselves to find family fun activities for free. We traded the role of planning our date night with the goal to see how cheaply we could have a nice date: dinner - with dessert - and some form of entertainment. We got pretty good at it! I washed baggies. Cooked a ton. And figured out that bath towels retain so much soap you can go without using any soap at all for a load periodically. I had a price book and used the pantry system. I sometimes used coupons but soon graduated to buying food through sources where coupons didn't matter (wholesale and buying co-ops, for instance). We snowballed the debt to the melting point. I was still working full time but we got our budget to the point where we were living entirely on hubby's income and using my salary for debt repayment ... then later, savings and investments.

We finally got to the point where we could go into part-time retirement. I didn't have to work at all and hubby dropped his hours to 80 hours a MONTH - just enough to continue our medical insurance coverage. We lived on almost nothing compared to those old days of 6-digit incomes but our quality of living went up dramatically.

We lived well this way but we had a series of family crisis's hit in a very short period of time that strained both our marriage and our budget. We're on the other end of that difficult part of our journey (I hope!) but we still have DD entering high school this year then college later so our financial burdens haven't ended yet.

But we're in good shape and know what we need to do to keep on track. We've done it before. We can do it again.
 

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CookieLee, you are a saint for having to put up with DH's ex. People should support themselves eventually. Sorry about DIL. I hope MIL brought her stockpile (joke!). Ugh, I just thought of how hard to pack and move a stockpile would be.
 

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Oh, MIL didn't move in with us, we just had to send her a check each month to cover her living expenses.
 

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I had a real lean decade. Started to recover professionally, re-married. Father died, got small inheritance. After a few months, I realized I wanted to be able to look back and know where the inheritance went. I was buying "toys" with credit cards. Wife and I took FPU, and I started listening to DR show podcasts. A LOT. Wife and I are now using envelopes, budget, etc. We are playing serious catch-up with retirement savings, making up for lost time.
 
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