Home frugal living/saving money Where There’s A Bill, There’s a Way (Getting Out of Debt)

Where There’s A Bill, There’s a Way (Getting Out of Debt)

by Kelly Crawford

Where There's a Bill There's a WayJoin me at CouponPal.com for the first part in a series I wrote:  “Where There’s a Bill There’s a Way”

Part 2: 15 Practical Ways to Save at Home

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Laura May 22, 2013 - 7:27 pm

Good thoughts, Kelly! We too have had those lean years (wait, they’re still lean!), and I remember the times of paying off school loans($22K), the mortgage(a small one thank heaven), and a home equity loan (to fix the leaking roof), plus other bills…fortunately, we have never had tons of credit card debt or a car payment, but we too were (and are) living under $30K a year… Trouble is, now that the consumer type debt is paid off, we only have a mortgage and are prepaying that as fast as we can, but still have at least 10 years on that one too… Anyway, the question is, what to do now? Things are so slim (and there doesn’t appear to be any change or increase on the horizon) right now that the months where the income is slightly higher due to overtime, is eaten by the months when it’s bare bones… I don’t know how to save any more, or cut back any more than we are…and all I see is the next 20 years of scrimping, not for any purpose, but just to get by…and that makes it hard to keep on keepin on…We have the desire to own/run a business as a family–of some kind–but have no idea what we could do or when…and we have our house for sale (near Altoona Pa, by the way 🙂 but have had no serious interest in it for 2 years… How do you plan for the future when you don’t see what you are planning for?

Word Warrior May 22, 2013 - 9:35 pm


Yes, we still have what would be considered a moderate income, but having the debts paid off makes a HUGE difference in the way it feels and the lack of stress it provides.

A financial adviser would no doubt have better advice, especially concerning your house. How much equity do you have? Would selling it and downsizing make sense for you, provided it sells? What about refinancing?

For us, the biggest turn-around was when my husband picked up an extra job. BUT…I don’t recommend it unless things are really dire, because it is very hard on the family.

His best money for the hours was waiting tables and pizza delivery. He even worked it out with one manager to only work 2 days a week, but it was enough to throw the extra at debt.

The other thing was, even when it didn’t feel like we had extra, I found by going ahead and paying on debt (or sticking a few dollars in savings) that we always managed to make up for it in groceries, the power bill, etc.

And I always found that when we REALLY needed extra cash, I would look around and find something to sell 😉 We went door to door one year selling homemade pies!

Then, I would encourage you that your situation can change pretty drastically at any time, as it did with us when the tornado hit. In addition, we will be getting a small inheritance from my husband’s grandparents in the fall, because his mother died, leaving him one of the heirs.

Little by little is how it happens, and trying to get/stay motivated. Reading books like “Total Money Makeover” can really put you in gear to get creative.

Ah, I wish I had more encouragement and advice for you. Always praying, always thinking and looking and staying consistent. That will get you farther than anything, I think.

finnegan05 May 26, 2013 - 7:12 am

You may not read this since this is an older post, but, unless your house is in hopeless shape, please to do not sell it to become a renter. That is a grave financial error. Dave Ramsey would definitely not approve! By retirement,your house should be paid off and you have an asset. No rational financial planner would encourage you to rent. If it is too much house, downsize but do not rent.

Word Warrior May 26, 2013 - 9:54 am


Actually, Dave’s not opposed to renting…

“Renting for a season while you pay off your debt and save up a pile of cash will set you up to win big in real estate over time….Most people miss the positives of renting. They feel like they’re throwing money away. The truth is, people who truly cannot afford a home should not buy real estate—even if rent is the same amount as a monthly mortgage payment. Renters avoid hidden costs for repairs and maintenance that add to a monthly mortgage payment. Another plus—renters can simply move if their circumstances change. Owners can be stuck with a property with no equity that takes too long to sell.”

Laura May 26, 2013 - 1:11 pm

I don’t see us downsizing in order to rent…trouble is, our house, currently is about 1500-1700 square feet, for a family of six…it was not an expensive house, and the sellers sold it for almost $20K less than the listed price. Our mortgage is under $250 a month, and has a double sized lot (in which we can grow a large garden). Downsizing would possibly mean moving to a less-safe neighborhood in a more city-area with less yard…And with four growing boys, I’m not sure that is wise. Renting in this area is still quite expensive–a small house would probably be upwards of $800/month with no utilities included, and no yard to speak of. We are just discouraged because we don’t see the next direction in our lives and feel like we are treading water…it’s much easier to sacrifice lifestyle when you see why you are sacrificing lifestyle…when you do without, but don’t see why, it’s hard to keep on doing so…

finnegan05 May 26, 2013 - 6:17 pm

With a mortgage that small, why rent? Don’t be freaked out!
And long-term, yes,Dave Ramsey is opposed to renting. In fact, he let’s people do the debt-free dance with only a mortgage. Laura, don’t be afraid!

trisha May 23, 2013 - 11:39 am

My husband just gave me “The Budget Talk” yesterday !
After listening to Dave Ramsey over and over on his drives to work, he is convinced we need to make changes.
We have just been offered a job that will bring in more money ( he starts it in 2 weeks ) , but we are both afraid that that extra money will just get “absorbed” and not put to good use.
We are famous for not really knowing where the money goes .
So envelopes of cash and recording every dollar is now my lot !
I am excited to begin this journey of being better stewards with the money we are given, but I know it will not be easy to change our habits.
I accepted a challenge from him to not buy any groceries for the next 2 weeks ( just live out of the pantry, and freezers ). I am a raw food nut and really like my greens ! There is a little already growing in the garden, so maybe we can get by there . : )
This is a VERY timely discussion for me and my family.
We are determined to pay off the small debt that we incurred after closing our business 2 years ago. Our home is for sale ( just put it on the market yesterday ! ),and we are determined to go back to renting again.
I know how important it is to my husband to not have the burden of debt on his shoulders anymore, it really makes a difference in making decisions for him and the stress level he carries around here.
We had no debt for many years , so I know the difference in him .
Yes, we will spend some time pinching and scraping, but it will be worth the freedom that comes as a result in the end !
Gods faithfulness to provide and to guide will receive the glory !

Thank you for bringing up this important subject, I look forward to more posts.
Trisha W.

Word Warrior May 23, 2013 - 12:44 pm

Trisha–I am so excited to hear this! Yes, it will be a change, and maybe a difficult one. That is why I mention how important motivation is. Keep reading things to remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing. And like Dave says, “Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later!”

And what you mentioned about money being “absorbed” is so true; few realize how easily it just disappears unless every dollar is tracked. That’s Dave’s first suggestion in order to see how you are and are not spending money. It’s powerful.

Summer May 24, 2013 - 12:48 pm

I and my husband are working on all of this, too, after I finished reading your ebook, Kelly, and it’s already been fun. I just have a peace in knowing that we’re making a real effort to get financially right. We only have some car debt and some doctor bills, but we’re still working on just being more faithful and frugal to honor the Lord. When I was sharing these ideas that I learned from your ebook, my DH quoted Dave Ramsey’s line that you just did. I was impressed he knew it because I didn’t realize he wanted this as much as I did. It really encouraged me. That was just the motivation I needed. Anyways, I’m excited about the changes and even though they’re hard, they’re so rewarding and that makes it worth it big-time. Thanks as always!

Word Warrior May 24, 2013 - 1:57 pm

How exciting, Summer!! You can do it. Stay motivated!

Blair May 23, 2013 - 1:55 pm

Cute title. 🙂

Erica May 23, 2013 - 2:56 pm

Thankfully we don’t have credit card debt, and no longer have a mortgage hanging over our heads. Right now we’re just focused on the day to day needs. But I still enjoy reading these posts because you always have such helpful advise that I am able to share with friends that do have these problems. My kids are currently working through one of Dave Ramsey’s books about money management that I got from our Home school Co-op when they had it on sale. The boys have been asking lots of interesting questions…it’s been fun & I really wish I had learned some of this stuff when I was younger because we’d probably be in a much better place financially now than we are. But God is good and He makes sure we always have what we NEED!

I think that is the key – NEEDS vs WANTS. Too many people are so worried about their wants (and confuse them with needs) and they get financially drained due to it. My kids have never been in an organize activity that requires money…we do things that are free ONLY. And if there isn’t something available that they want to do then I find it – create it – or barter to get it for them. Much easier for us than trying to come up with money to pay for sports or music lessons!

Laura May 26, 2013 - 1:23 pm

I know what you mean about needs/wants…I’m frequently puzzled over how to prioritize our money…For example, I was thinking this last shopping budget (for 2 weeks) that I would try to get by without buying another box of laundry soap, (I buy powdered Arm and Hammer, fee/clear for about $6.79/box, which is stated as about 55 loads–though I use less, so probably get more like 80-100 loads), but then get about 10 days into the 2 weeks and run out…I can’t really wait four more days to do wash around here (potty training and lots of accidents!) and grubby boys playing in dirt 🙂 So then I’m scrambling to come up with (or justify) the $7.00 or so to buy the soap…before the next official paycheck… The problem is, it seems like every budget there are not just one or two but SEVERAL little expenditures that add up to $20 or more that I’m left going, “uh, I think that’s a need, but it’s not really in the budget…what do I do?” (it could be needing oil/washer fluid for the car, or windshield wipers that need replacing, or someone needs shoes/clothes because of a growth spurt, or even having unexpected company and realizing we need a bit more food!)

Erica May 27, 2013 - 5:32 pm

Laura –
You talking about laundry detergent is something I can relate to! I remember those days – especially with the potty training when you are doing load after load just to keep up with the accidents! Have you thought about making your own laundry soap? I made the switch a few years ago – all my kids have ultra sensitive skin, as do I, and I was finding it hard to afford the laundry detergent. I went to Dollar General and bought a box of Borax for $4 and ordered the rest of what I needed (Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and Fels Naptha Laundry Bar Soap) from Amazon for only $20. I was able to make enough detergent to last for well over 6 months now. (And there’s still more left!) I also stopped using fabric softener and use Distilled White Vinegar $3 for a gallon on a sponge in the dryer instead of sheets, or instead of liquid in the washer). We haven’t had any skin problems – it’s lasted forever – and it is really easy to make. You can even decide if you want liquid or powder laundry detergent. I was so happy to know that I could do this and save so much money in the process.

I have had to get really creative at times because we’re a family of 8 with an income of $25k/yr. Plus I’m real big on waste, so we reuse,recycle, re-purpose everything I can think of…even got the kids involved in it. It’s been like a game. After the bills are paid I have $x to spend on groceries and household items and I have to make it work. So I switched to making cleaners instead of buying them. In some cases the initial start up is higher, but it make a bunch and I don’t have to buy the products very often so it does even things out.

Laura May 28, 2013 - 9:28 am

Yes, I did make our laundry soap for awhile, but I was using it on cloth diapers and didn’t seem to do well with them–they gave the baby diaper rash and didn’t get clean. I use the Arm and Hammer Powdered Detergent, because it’s the cheapest one at the store and IS free and clear. By using about half the recommended amount, I can get probably close to 100 loads of wash out of one box (though at 7-10 loads a week, it still goes fast!), and that works out to about $.06 a load! (that’s pretty cheap!) and I do use vinegar in the rinse often and NEVER use fabric softener! We also hang all our laundry, as we can’t really afford the dryer, though it’s broken anyway… it’s just trying to prioritize what IS a need and what is not…and as the kids grow, it’s harder to make that determination. Like trying to keep construction paper for the kiddos to draw on, or other things–chalk to use for the chalk board during school time…etc…


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