Many of you know the financial strain we are facing in the Happy Meets Crazy household. Some things have actually gotten better and gone our way, lately:
*Re-financing the house which reduced our mortgage by $200 a month! Hooray!
*HUGE tax returns! More Hooray!
*The roof didn't leak all winter or during spring rains! Hooray-ish-ness-all-over!
*And others (the consistent rain means we don't have to fix our sprinklers just yet, I found a bike for Miss #2 on KSL for only $15, things seem to be falling into place with our bills, etc.).
But then Brandon got accepted into school. And other than a small sum his work is contributing (which they offer all employees who go back to get their MBA's), we are self-supporting. You know. Paying for it ourselves. With our own money. That we don't have. To go to Wharton.
I'm sure you understand.
So, we buckled down to start saving money. We've tried to reduce our spending and looked at our budget and where all of our money was going in order to make some changes. We were feeling pretty good about it until...
...two weeks ago, EMC announced a 5% pay cut across the board in order to save 2K jobs. At the end of last year (or was it in January?), they announced a freeze on all raises, and now we have received this pay cut.
[Before I go on, I want you to know that I don't blame EMC for this. They are doing what they think is best while trying to save jobs. I mean, isn't it better to have a pay cut than lose your job?
At least that is what I keep telling myself. I mean, I know many people who have been out of work for a very long time. So, let me go on the record and say I am grateful Brandon has a job! More than grateful. This is just hard, you know?]
Oh! And of course, this also came after I decided to stop teaching piano lessons for the summer. Lovely, eh?
So, we've had to tighten a bit more. The good news is that another part-time, do-it-when-my-kids-are-sleeping, job may be in the works for me. The bad news is I had to quit therapy.
Now, now! Before you all freak out that my brain needs it, let me assure you that this is a short-term solution only. I've already talked with my therapist about going back after the baby is born (when I will absolutely need that --and probably meds --the most). So, I didn't just do this blindly! I'm very aware of the decision we made.
Anyway, so I quit therapy.
But we have to pay for Brandon's flights to and from school.
Sigh, sigh, sigh by me.
See, how this is all going? We get a break...we hit another snag. We get a break...we hit another snag.
Sounds like life, to me...
Now, before I go onto my next subject (all my posts have more than one subject, haven't you noticed?), I would like you to answer some questions:
1. What are the best ways --for you --to save money?
2. What are the things you had to cut in order to pay tithing, bills, and feed the family?
3. What has been the best decision financially that you have made to get to financial security?
Next subject: COUPONS
Alrighty, then. I have slowly been dipping my feet into the vast world of "coupon-ing". It's the new scrap booking, you know! I've heard amazing stories ("I went to the store, got $75 worth of groceries, but they ended up giving me $6.00 back!") and I've seen how the results have blessed lives ("Our smallest budget is our grocery budget because we don't have to spend more!").
But I have a problem.
This is the conundrum I want all coupon ladies to solve for me (and do it nicely, okay? I don't care if I'm an idiot for not figuring it out up to this point --I'm asking for help, not a judgement on my character. And yes, I'm a bit snappy today. Sorry! No, really --I am sincerely sorry.):
I CANNOT buy the food I see in all the coupons.
I lost 40 pounds before I got pregnant with this baby, remember? I'm not going back to buying junk food. I'm not going to buy white bread (or pasta, or tortillas) or regular dairy products (fat-free for me!). I'm not going to buy fruit snacks or chips or soda or juice or sugared cereal (unless it's Easter weekend on the cereal). I buy fresh fruit and veggies --not crackers. I try to buy healthy things (not expensive healthy --just good-for-us healthy).
But I haven't found ONE coupon on ANY of the 20 -30 websites I've visited. Not one! Everything is for the junk, people!
So, how in the world can I save on my grocery bill without buying the crap? I really want to know. I really do.
And to show you how serious I am, I've actually started shopping at Costco less (because we all know what happens when we go to Costco for milk...) for groceries.
But I really want an answer to this question because it is perplexing me. Ooh! Ooh! Let me give you an example:
I signed up to receive a newsletter about living on a dime (oh, what the heck. Here's the website. It's free, btw!). There was this series on how to cut your grocery bill in half! I thought, "Yes! I need this!" and so I read it with great joy. Until I finished it. And then I was mad. Because what did they tell me to stop doing (more or less)?
1. Don't eat out as much. Easy. Already doing this.
2. Stop buying chips and soda. Haven't bought either for years and years.
3. Keep your kitchen clean so you won't eat out. Ummm...okay...
4. Something about not eating/drinking as much food. Well, duh --that's a weight loss/healthy thing, too.
I don't mean to sound bitter about these women who are giving wonderful advice on how to save money --that's not my intention (more apologies). But what I am trying to illustrate is that I'm doing all of this already!! But I need to do MORE. How can I do that? How, how, how?? Help!
Lay it on me! Give me your ideas and what you have done and tell me if I'm missing something in the coupon world. And don't worry! I love looooooong comments...