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The Prodigal Returns....

April 18th, 2009 at 01:12 pm

I sorta wandered off on an extended blog vacation. But, I see the effects of this community every time I pay off a bill or work with my budget or make do with something. I learned a lot here. We're still deeply in debt, party due to DD's continuing college expenses--every semester the college seems to cost more. But, we've made tons of small changes that are beginning to add up. And, had plenty of "DUH" moments.

We stayed pretty much on target with the Christmas budget. We paid off a loan in January. We cut down services. We reevaluated discretionary stuff. Even the kids are getting on the bandwagon.

I decided to really look at the items in my budget. One thing was cable. When our cable company started charging us a 99 cent fee for mailing us a paper bill, I thought about the cost of it altogether. I made a list of the actual channels we watch and how often. It was eye-opening. We only watch a handful of channels and maybe a show a night. If that. I was all set to cancel it completely, but Hubby wanted to keep the major local channels for the in depth hurricane coverage they provide. If we cut to basic, we'd have about five "real" channels to watch that didn't involve school lunch postings or the House of Representatives. Information channels seem to take up almost half of the basic channels. But, Hubby had a point so we started out by cutting down to the minimum. And, we found ourselves actually making a list of what to watch and then planning other stuff. That's funny. We had no clue as to our watching preferences before. We missed shows we liked because we didn't keep track of when they were on. Now, with five channels, we have a list and then watch other stuff on the internet. And, then added netflix at the minimum and watch tv or movies with that. Even with Netflix added, we still save half the cost of our cable.

Then, we cut some of our landline services. Again, we need to keep it because it often works after hurricanes when cells are spotty or you can't charge up your phone. Hubby was able to call us from our landline after Ike when we couldn't get his cell phone. But, we had not looked over the cost of all the stuff on it. And, the cost on their online site was cheaper than what we were being charged. Between these two bills alone, we were able to save some money. So, I am looking elsewhere in the budget.

Funny thing was the expanded cable was cut off after I left to visit one of the kids. Hubby was actually watching a sports event when it went off. The guys at work found out and were jokingly taking up a collection for him. They'd already collected five dollars in jars before he put a stop to it.

I still haven't replaced my dishwasher or dryer. I still wash dishes by hand and hang my clothes. My electric bill has gone down some and so has the water bill. We don't eat out anymore except for Hubby's lunches with co-workers. He works such long hours during these tough times trying to keep the plants open that I don't begrudge him that break. Besides, I can tease him about spending more on them (they trade off paying) than he does on me each month. We swap books or buy bargains. We buy very little in clothes. We work on the house (STILL have hurricane Rita damage--sheesh) or visit the kids. DD has taken charge of her budget and her keeping track and budgeting better has saved us money. She's talking about getting a job while she finishes school. DS and family have started making their own cutbacks. We're learning from each other and simplifying life again.

Decluttering more stuff from the attic and long forgotten places helps me realize just what I do have to work with. Easter was relatively frugal. We did buy some eggs to fill with on sale candy for Grandbaby and reused baskets from years ago. DD brought finger paint and sponge brushes and I found an old box of patterns that had survived the water attack from Rita. We even dug up old construction paper and glue sticks and had fun! We splurged on a little sand box, but combine that with some sand, a bucket and shovel, and a bunch of little cars and dinosaurs from the attic and a few sticks and we had a ball. Cheap fun!

We've set targets to lower our expenses to a lower percentage of our take home pay. The rest goes to debt repayment. We've paid off over 15,000 dollars in the first quarter of this year. We're trying to balance a mounting dental bill for Hubby, college and wedding expenses for DD, and repairs to the house. I think all in all we're as anxious as everyone about the economy and the problems in our area, but we're enjoying life's little moments a whole lot more. Taking things a baby step at a time.....

4 Responses to “The Prodigal Returns....”

  1. frugaltexan75 Says:

    It's good to see you Jan! It sounds like your family has been making some real cuts and saving money. Good for you!

  2. fern Says:

    Youre doing really well.

  3. monkeymama Says:

    Good to see you! & the debt progress sounds great!

  4. Petunia Says:

    Wow! You've made some great progress!

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