A True Budgeting Story: Thanks for sharing your story Jen. Fans-I realize it’s longer than a normal post but I felt it important to share her full story rather than bits. This is very inspirational and I hope you enjoy it and realize anything is possible. Thank you for being a loyal fan Jen and keep on budgeting!-Mr.CBB
When I was younger I remember my parents always saying they were “in the hole” and talking about their credit line. We were never really went without anything and we still took family vacations (more so as I got a little older). Now, in my early to mid 30’s with a husband and a 20 month old son, we are over $41,000 (Line of credit and two car loans) in debt not including the mortgage.
Here’s Our Story
I got my first job at 14 and worked all through high school and college (I was lucky enough that my parents paid for my schooling). I have always been in and out of debt since I was young and it wasn’t until now that I really started to buckle down. It got so scary that we even went through the process of being on the TV show “Til Debt Do Us Part” in hopes of getting us back on track. We did the interviews, booked our sessions, then found out the network didn’t like us. We got along too well and weren’t at the end of our ropes in finance and relationship.
I have rolled debt into the mortgage 2 or 3 times (I can’t even remember). One time was after my divorce (I put some debt and the buyout money into the mortgage) and when my new hubby and I went to put his name on the mortgage we rolled his debt into the mortgage…over $45,000! We tried doing Gail’s budget after this experience and failed miserably after one week. We just figured that we were doing OK just saving money by using coupons and went on living with blinders on.
When I went on maternity leave in 2010 we were almost $5000 in debt (just the line of credit). By the time I finished maternity leave we were $21,000 in debt , plus over $30,000 in car loans as we both purchased used cars. This debt accumulated just by living above our means (including using the line of credit for a $3,000 down payment on a used vehicle). We don’t try to keep up with the Jones’ with the latest gadgets but we were spending more than we made.
In January 2012 I decided to research Canadian Couponing a little deeper to see what else I could do even though we used them weekly. It was then that I found savebiglivebetter a Canadian Couponing site. I found some valuable information to help save more money through Couponing such as price adjustments, stockpiling tips, free samples, rewards programs etc. Shortly after I was introduced to Canadian Budget Binder and that’s when my life began to change. I started to learn more tips and tricks for leading a frugal lifestyle, but I still wasn’t doing well enough. Through my “talks” with Mr. CBB I realized it was never going to get better the way were headed and we needed to make a change. I realized that if we didn’t start budgeting and spending less than we earned we would keep digging a hole for our family.
My saviour was born in April! Mr. CBB talked about needing BETA testers for his Canadian Budget Binder Spreadsheet (CBBS). Mr.CBB just finished designing his budget in excel for his family and wanted to offer it to the fans if they wanted to use it (for Free). I knew that this was my chance to get us back on track and with his help. I was lucky enough for Mr. CBB to select me and that’s when my money-saving journey began.
Our Budgeting Journey
The first month required a lot of re-calculation, more math than I like to do and some frustration (but it has gotten easier since then). It is still an ongoing process but I am confident now that we can make this work. I was made fun of by my husband and the rest of my family for Couponing so I wasn’t looking forward to their reactions when they found out I was budgeting.
My husband was not very receptive to the idea of budgeting as he doesn’t like to be told what he can and cannot do with his money. Inevitably this caused a few money “arguments” and some tension between us. I tried to show him how the CBBS looked every once in a while and what our numbers are but he doesn’t really pay much attention. He gets irritated sometimes when I say we can’t afford something, but other times I unfortunately fall back into my old ways and give in.
My parents seemed almost proud of me and have been fairly supportive of this journey. If I say we can’t afford to do something that’s not in the budget I’m comforted knowing they understand. I know I can still do better but right now there are just some things I am not willing to give up (like my cell phone and satellite). I try to find other ways to make up for it like calling my service providers and asking for deeper discounts and my hubby works overtime. A part-time job just doesn’t make sense for me when my hubby can make triple what I would at a part-time minimum wage job (my job does not allow for paid over-time). I have also been trying to sell as much stuff as I can find in our basement that we no longer need to supplement our income as well as doing product testing which pays $20-$40 cash for 30-60 minutes work.
Another obstacle I have to overcome is my seasonal lay-offs. I get laid off for two weeks in December, one week and March and for all of July and August (I am a special needs teaching assistant). I have always saved money for these lay-offs in a special account and figured I was doing well enough with that and I can/do collect Employment Insurance for these lay-offs (however that dramatically reduces my income).
Normally during these lay-offs I never used to change any spending habits and continued to use our line of credit to go further into debt, but now with a budget I made it through my summer lay-off without using it or living off of the overdraft like we used to.
The Grocery Game Challenge
The Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) has helped me out more than anyone could ever know. Our budget is $100 per week (before I stared the GGC we were spending $600-$700 a month plus money on eating out – which we no longer do) and that is for everything from food to health and beauty items to cleaning/laundry supplies and baby items. I’ve never even thought about buying “pink sticker” reduced items like bread before I saw Mr. CBB talk about it. I throw most of them in the freezer anyways.
Why The Grocery Game Works For Me
The GGC has worked for me because it holds me accountable to someone for the way I spend my money. If I didn’t use the GGC I wouldn’t really care if I went over my budget. Knowing that it will be on the internet for Mr. CBB and all my fellow fans to see is motivation for me to do well (I compare this to Weight Watchers…I am a Lifetime member and I have always found that when I attend meetings and have the group support and weigh in’s that I do far better. If I just weigh in and leave I am not accountable to anyone and I don’t do well at all. Having people clap for you when you lose a few pounds is surprisingly motivating!) Some weird kind of relationship has developed with Mr. CBB and now all I want to do is make him proud.
When I began budgeting with Mr. CBB in May my line of credit was just over $15,800. Not even 3 months later it was down to just over $13,500. That was a little help from a lovely gift from my parents, but back before Mr. CBB I wasn’t paying money on it at all except tax returns. I was just using it as income. I began paying money back on a regular bi-weekly basis. I had cut out any savings except for my RRSP until the line of credit was paid off. When it was paid I would then start-up my Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) and education fund (RESP) for my son again. I was extremely proud of myself for making it through my entire summer lay off this year without using my line of credit.
Then, In October we started looking for more ways to save money and decided to get a Home-line of credit (a line of credit that is secured with your home and charges prime plus a half percent interest). We put our line of credit debt and both of our car loans into this Home-line plan. I did this because the interest rate on our line of credit was 6.31%, our car loans were 5.99% and 6.99% and the Home-line interest rate would be 3.5%, saving us a great deal in interest payments over time. We pay the Home-line of credit bi-weekly just like a mortgage so this loan will actually be paid off before they were even originally due to be paid off through the dealerships financing companies. I have also started contributing bi-weekly to my son’s RESP again as well. We find ourselves thinking more about purchases, often not buying on impulse and either waiting to get a deal on it or checking free-cycle or Kijiji for items.
Mr. CBB is awesome!!!
Jen Peacock and Family
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If you are new Start here!
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- Money Fights and Money Problems (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
- Just Married! We’re Newlyweds And Need A Budget (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
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