Last week marked my one-year blogging anniversary. What year it’s been!
We’ve had a $20,000 turnaround in about one year. I think. I can’t find all of my credit card statements from when the accounts were at their highest, but I estimate that at its worst, we had about $8,000 to $10,000 in credit card debt distributed among five credit cards. Good grief! We buckled down and paid it off at a furious pace, completing that goal around the tail end of 2007.
Once that was gone, we refocused our efforts to saving up six months’ worth of expenses to cover us in case we lost our income, needed a deductible on our insurance, or needed to make an emergency trip back home.
Last summer, if you told me that it would take just one year to have our cards paid off and to get an emergency fund together, I would have thought you were crazy.
Especially considering my husband was the only one with steady income, and I brought in sporadic streams of cash thanks to some freelancing, selling things, and this blog.
We’re still not completely debt-free. We’re attacking our car loan. You can track my progress in my sidebar. Right now, you’ll see that I have a whopping $10.13 extra to send to the principle of our loan this month. I do expect to have more to “snowflake” in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
Even if you have just an extra $10 each month to put in savings or to pay down debt, it’s $10 closer to your goal and it does add up. If, starting now, I was “only” able to put $10 extra toward our loan, we’d still have it paid off two months earlier than if we hadn’t made extra payments.
The big lessons I’ve learned this year:
— God will hear your prayers. He might not always answer them in the way that you think you’d like, but He hears them and He won’t forget you. Throughout our financial journey, I’ve prayed to ask for wisdom in making money decisions, learning from our mistakes, and how to be a better steward with our resources. We’ve made such amazing progress, and it’s really thanks to God’s grace.
— Learning how to save money takes a little while. Sounds cliche, I know, but you can’t expect to change all of your money habits in a short period of time. I’ve found that by trying a new money-saving trick one or two at a time, and then adding the keepers to my normal routine helps me stay positive and on track.
— If you can acquire something, there’s almost certainly a way to get a better deal on it somehow. Borrow, barter, get a group discount, shop around for deals, make it yourself, go without it — so many ways to make your dollars stretch! It’s been fun for me to try to save money on just about everything.
— It’s important to have financial goals, both long-term and short-term. If we didn’t actually have a goal of getting out of debt, we’d probably still be carrying a credit card balance. If we didn’t have a goal of having an emergency fund, we probably wouldn’t have one. Sounds simple, but it’s true. You’ve gotta figure out what you want to do with your money, then actually make that happen.
— There are two main ways to stretch your dollars further: Increase your income and lower your spending. Do both simultaneously for the greatest impact.
For more concrete things I’ve learned, check out my post: 23 things I’ve learned since my last birthday.
Thank you for reading my blog. Without you readers, I doubt I would have been able to stick with blogging this long. I value your e-mails and comments, and I truly love being a part of the frugal blogging community.