How I Changed My Life- I Won The Debt, Divorce, Drugs and Drinking Jackpot!

alcohol and drugs

I won the debt, divorce, drinking and drugs jackpot because I wanted to take back what I gave away, me. My name is Cindy and in 2008, I decided to change my life and today I’m going to share with you my most compelling years in hopes of motivating others who believe there is no way out. I went from a single mom of 2 boys with a drug and alcohol addiction with no job and $10,000 in debt to debt free in less than 5 years.

How I Changed My Life

It all started when I was in a toxic relationship while living in the Southern United States. I quickly became addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs and driven into a life that seemed like it had no end in sight.

We had every earthly possession that two people could want and a thriving real estate business, but it was never enough. We were toxic for each other. I didn’t have the strength or self-esteem to break away.

He told me over and over I would never make it on my own. I felt trapped yet I kept telling myself I need to change my life. I needed a quick escape of the life I hated.

How can I change my life?

I left the house with my children; the dog and the clothes on our backs got into my car and drove away without looking back. My children’s father and I had been successful in developing real estate, but there was no money when I left. He had all the assets in his name only. I was totally broke.

We did have a small mobile home a 1973 12×50 that sat on its own land that we had paid cash for. The mobile home was in my name and that is where we were going to start our life over as a family.

I turned to my mother for assistance and after sleeping on my mother’s fold out sofa with the children and the dog for 8 weeks and detoxing, I moved in. During that time I found a job at a local fast food restaurant and started counselling for my addictions.

The Money

Times were slim, there was no money in the bank and no one left to turn to for help. My lawyer bills were $4000 for the first round to get the ball rolling with our divorce and custody hearings.

My ex-husband thought since I was an addict that I would lose custody or that I would come running back to him with open arms. I didn’t,  and he wasn’t too pleased about that.

I had excellent credit at the time with absolutely no clue how I was going to pay all of that money back. I charged all the costs of the proceedings and fees on my Capital One credit card.

We had no clothes, no food, no furniture, no Christmas presents, not even a Christmas tree. It was somber at best in our surroundings but we made do with what we were given.

We were locked in a secret world and not sure where we could turn for help. The taxes had never been paid on my little trailer since we purchased it, so another $1200 went on the  Discover credit card to settle the score with the tax man.

The bills kept piling up and I kept working as much as I could to make the money last until the end of the month. In no time my car blew it’s radiator so another $800 went on the Bank of America credit card.

It seemed like I had more credit than I had cash coming in but it was the only way that I could think of at the time to keep my family together and all the bills paid with a roof over our heads and food on the table.

I quit my job at the fast food place and went to work at a lunch truck company. It made more sense because the food truck offered great hours which made it easier for picking the kids up from school. It also meant I didn’t have to work nights any longer and could spend time with my family.

We got by paying the bills but the even the minimum payments were often late. The lights stayed on, but there was nothing fancy about our life. You wouldn’t have found any internet, no cable, no frills.  We had to create our own free entertainment for the family but it also brought us closer together.

Groceries and Meals

There was help with food from the church and from the lunch truck company I worked for. When my shift ended on the food truck if there was any food that was left over from the construction sites my boss let me take it home.

It wasn’t always the best of food but it was food that was hot and would provide nourishment for me and the kids such as like tins of meatloaf and mashed potatoes with gravy or chili macaroni.

She was a kind lady and knew I was struggling to feed my family. It’s times like that when you can look back and think there was an angel looking over you.

Once a month a lady at the church we belonged to bought us a basket from the food share program co-op. It had usually a large roast or a turkey, some fresh vegetables such as  carrots or potatoes and some canned items along with pasta and rice.

I would use every bit of the food up and let nothing waste. I would prepare hot meals and soups in the crock-pot which was kindly donated to me from one of the ladies at the church.I stretched that basket of food as far as I could make it and we sometimes ate for a whole week on the one basket

Someone always wanted money from me and I never dreamed divorce would cost as much as it did for me. Round 2 from the lawyer was $2500, charged on Capital One credit card again. At this point I still had No child support, no food stamps, no Medicaid, no nothing.

I was merely living a life for my children and holding on to a string of hope dropped from heaven in hopes someone would hear or something magical would happen for us.

We were scraping by day-to-day on my tips from the lunch truck,  I continued to use my credit cards to survive but kept optimistic that something would change for the good.

The children had dentist bills, doctor bills and needed glasses. I had so much guilt over my debt but zero choice in what to do. I was earning $130 per week as my wage plus $50 in tips which I normally used to fill up my gas tank.

It was now 2009 and I was drowning as my debt grew astonishingly close to $10,000. I couldn’t believe it but I also knew that I would pay back every penny of it once I could find more work or a side income that would help me get ahead in life

At The Right Place At The Right Time

One of my stops on the lunch truck each day was at a crafting facility. It was a small place and the staff engaged as if they were all a happy family. I struck up a friendship with many of the workers and I started hanging out there after work on occasion.

I‘d like to consider myself quite crafty, so I started doing some painting and crafting with them on my own time. It was a great way to get my mind off my financial and emotional troubles doing something I love while enhancing my skills.

They asked me if I wanted to do some piece work on the side and I was so happy that I gladly accepted the offer. I was in business! I tucked every cent  of extra income that I earned away for emergency saving and to give my kids a small Christmas, credit card free!

I do some of the hand painting of the crafts at home. I sat down with my boss a few afternoons and he taught me how to paint crafts as I had never painted before in my life. I learned how to paint flowers, faces, hearts etc.

I make felt cut-outs at home and then glue them together. There is a pattern to trace, then they are cut out and glued such as butterfly wings and dragon wings etc.  I am paid $0.25 per piece and the company I work for provides the materials.

When I bring my pieces back to the shop they are assembled into the final product. The hand painting and the felt cut-out with gluing are tedious at times, but I have freedom at home to listen to the radio or YouTube so I don’t mind.

Paying My Bills

Fast forward one year and I started working at the crafting facility full-time. Being rich means different things to different people. My first cheque at minimum wage $7.75/ hr working 40 hours I thought I was rich. My bills were always paid on time and my car never ran on empty.

This was a dream come true for me yet I’d never forget those early days of detoxing on my mom’s couch. I’ve come a long way and I didn’t want to stop yet. I wanted to be as successful as I could because I knew I was worth it. I had the drive and the motivation to take my skills to the next level, and I did.

I continued the piece work on the side in addition to my 40 hours in order to bring in some extra income. Every bit of money helps and I was going to make sure there were no missed opportunities.

In no time the late charges started to disappear from my bills, a feeling that is hard to describe to someone unless they’ve been in the same situation. Minimum payments were made, lights were on and the family really was starting to come together now.

We could afford to go to the grocery store and buy food, put gas in the tank and pay for all the medical bills. We received a hand me down computer from a friend and soon after hooked up to the world as we know, the internet.

It was now 2010 and counselling was going well for me and I’ve come along way in my journey with my drug and alcohol addiction. I was now 2 years sober at this point and had no desire to ever pick up a drink let alone drugs.

The debt was soon going to be a misery of my past. I had my head above water, but barely. I was always optimistic though, you have to be in order to survive.

Debt Repayment Guilt

The guilt over the amount of debt that I had accumulated was so overwhelming, even after I was able to stop charging the credit cards up.

I would look at my balances and be so ashamed at myself that I didn’t want to think about it. I started to feel like I was in a debt depression. I didn’t know how to deal with debt and I prayed for help in paying off that debt.

The Debt Philosophy

One night, playing around on the internet, I came across Dave Ramsey and his debt philosophy. I devoured all the information he provided late into the night. I checked out his books the next day free from the library.

I spent the weekend reading and soaking up as much as the information as I could. I learned I had to let go of the emotion attached to my debt if I was ever going to pay it off.  I had survival debt. I wasn’t spoiled and I certainly didn’t spend it on frivolous things. I developed a plan!

I put Dave Ramsey’s advice into action.

I had a piece of land that was in my name that I didn’t want. I sold that immediately and put the money onto my Capital One credit card. Oh man! That felt so good!

Once I sold that land, it allowed me to qualify for a tax credit the following year. I put all that extra money towards my lowest credit card debt, the Bank of America, and paid it off.

The Dave Ramsey snowball effect had begun and I felt amazing.

I maintained the gazelle like focus.

Gazelle like focus is a term from Dave Ramseys book. It means to never take your eyes off the prize, like a lion hunting a gazelle. I worked at it, hard. I used every spare cent and every ounce of creativity to pay off my debt.

You need to work as hard to get out of debt as a gazelle works to run from a cheetah-Dave Ramsey

It was a real driving force for me and motivated me to get a move on. I just love the phrase because I could see the lioness in the grass hunting her prey, fierce and hungry. That was me.

I read all the information I could find on reducing spending. I carefully evaluated my food budget, planning every meal down to the cent. I purchased a small freezer from Craigslist and shopped the sales for meats.

Goodwill clothes haul

I continued to use the crock-pot that I received from the church twice a week or more. I scoured the second-hand thrift stores for my children’s back to school clothes and not only did I save a bundle I was able to give them what they deserved without feeling any guilt.

I replaced the ducts under the trailer and lowered my electric bill. I hung clothes out on the clothes line to save on electricity bills as well. We only ate out one time in two years at a restaurant an that was on my son’s birthday.

I had a yard sale when my children outgrew their clothes and sold the items to use that money to put down on my debts. I put every spare dollar on my debt and watched my Discover Credit Card balance drop.

Tax time came the next year and the Discover Credit Card was paid off in full. I was down to the big balance, over $5000 on the Capital One Credit Card at 27% interest.

2011 Three Years Sober and A Plan

My Handmade Jewellery

That year my company attended a trade show in our local area. I went to help sell our products. I had made a piece of  my costume jewellery just on a whim and brought it with me. It was simple and beautiful.

A lady approached me “Is that for sale?”, she asked. I hadn’t thought about it, honestly. “I will give you $5 cash for it right now, I love it”, she said. I was in business again!

I went home that evening and broke apart every piece of junk jewellery I owned. I stayed up all night working because I wanted this to be a success and to make some extra income. I went to the show the next day and made $25. I was thrilled. I invested that $25 in some supplies and when the next show came around I was ready!

Before I knew it, I had the $1000 emergency fund that Mr. Ramsey speaks of. When round 3 with the lawyer came around I was ready. The radiator in my car blew again (yes same car) and it was no problem thanks to the emergency fund.

2012 Four Years Sober- My Prayers Had Been Answered
Making My Jewellery

I make my jewellery on my porch or at my kitchen table after work in the evenings or on weekends. I love garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores where I look for broken bits of old necklaces.

 I twist and bend them and use my beads from my stock to make my own creations. I have built up a supply of beads to use by shopping at my local craft store with their coupons or buying odd bead lots online. I store them in a big bin under my son’s bed.

Craft bin

Pricing my custom jewellery is always an ongoing challenge but I’m getting better at making sure that my time and efforts are being paid for in the price of my work. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes to make my jewellery and sometimes longer up to an hour depending on the materials I’m using.

If I really like it and it looks posh and expensive and the materials were pricier for me to make it then I can ask more money. If it is simple and takes only a few minutes, then I price it accordingly. I’m fair with my customers but also don’t want to under pay myself for my time and expenses.

Where I Am Today- Giving Back

I have worked hard to get where I am today and never dreamed that my perseverance would bring me the joys that I have been given in my life. My tax credit this year allowed me to clear the last thousand dollars with Capital One. I still make minimum wage. I still have my little side business making jewellery and I still do piece work.

I have finally finished with the lawyers and sorted out the divorce. I still live in my little mobile home with my now teenage children, 3 dogs and wonderful fiancée. I also receive no child support, no food stamps and no Medicaid.

I have such a sense of pride, knowing that I paid off what seemed an impossible amount of debt. I started from rock bottom. This past Christmas I was able to donate food back to that same church that helped me. I have been able to donate my children’s clothes and shoes to the local school. It feels good to give back.

I still have a very frugal lifestyle and we are budgeting our money so we know where it all goes. I do not have cable television or a smart phone. I still hang my clothes out to dry to save money on electricity and to show my children the importance of money and how to manage it  so they can make their way into life understanding what I did not.

I plan every meal down to the penny so I know what I need to buy when I go shopping with my list. I have chickens and a small garden for entertainment and a frugal hobby.

I am nearly 5 years sober and life is so good.

How We Budget Our Money 2013

Monthly Net Income

  • Income from job-$1092
  • Jewellery Extra Income-$200
  • Piece work Extra Income- $150

Total Net Income $1442.00

Monthly Budget Breakdown
  • Grocery Budget-$350 for 2 adults and 2 monster teenage boys. We almost never eat meals outside of the home.
  • Gas-$120 for one vehicle
  • Car Insurance-$142 for 10 months. I pay extra on this every month so in Nov and Dec the actual amount is less.
  • Internet-$65 for 10 months. I pay extra on this bill so in Nov and Dec the actual amount is less.
  • Electric-$100 some months are less and some months are more like in the summer when we have A/C on. I just put the money aside when it is under for the months that it runs higher.
  • Taxes-$45
  • Boys -$100 medical, clothes, dentist, whatever they need
  • Dogs- $100 flea medications, vet bills, heart-worm pills

Extra for savings: $420 This used to be for debt re-payment.

My husband and I have separate expenses and budgets. He pays the phone bill for both of us, his own car insurance and his own gas for his vehicle. He provides for the chickens, home maintenance and the garden.

I have set it up this way and we are very happy with it and it works for us. We never fight about money, ever. I now have extra money for holiday spending in November and December since I don’t pay some of the bills.

I used this money this past year to donate food to the church (I was pretty proud of that). This is my first month where I don’t have to pay off debt, so I’m thinking about investing in my education. I know the dogs are expensive, but I don’t mind that as they add to our country life.

How Do You Get Out Of Debt?
  • You get out of debt by never giving up, you can do it. Maintain the gazelle like focus. It’s not easy, but it feels so good!
  • Start by believing in yourself and admitting you have an addiction then ask for help. There is hope if you have an addiction. There are so many people out there that will help you.
  • You can get out of debt on your own no matter what anyone says.
  • Start using a budget to track your expenses.
  • Spend less money than you get paid from working.
  • Meal planning is the best way to stick to your food budget!
  • Read, Read, Read! Libraries are free and the knowledge I found there unlocked the secrets to paying off my debt.

I still sell my jewellery today and have wholesale accounts in 3 countries now the USA, Canada and England. I am debt free and budget all our family expenses so I don’t have to go back to those dark times in my life when I didn’t know where or who I was going to turn to for help.

My boss is amazing and I have been able to use our business contacts to develop my little jewellery business. I even sell some of my pieces for more than $5 now which means that my products are in demand.

Winning the debt, divorce, drugs and drinking jackpot simply means that I conquered some of life’s demon’s and won! So the next time someone says you will never make it on your own because you have a drug or alcohol addiction, smile and show them what you’re made of.

Contribution Post: This was written by a Canadian Budget Binder fan named Cindy who wanted to share her story in hopes of motivating others.

If you have a success story you want to share contact me today! “Let Your Voices Be Heard”-Mr.CBB

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How I Turned My Passion and Skills Into Making Extra Money

Making extra Money

Guest Post

My friends always ask me how I make extra money and I tell them I took what I do best and turned it into cash!

Until 4 years ago, working a full-time job was as easy as getting up, going to work, coming home and collecting my pay-check. Then I had my son, which made things a little more difficult, 19 months later my daughter joined our family, followed 4 months later by a divorce. Not so easy anymore……Many nights I laid awake thinking “how can I do this all on my own?” How can I make extra money so that the kids can do things like swimming lessons and soccer?

I could not wrap my head around how I could go back to work full-time. I have over ten years experience in the landscaping industry, but now I have a life that makes that job impossible. I have always enjoyed working so I decided I would look for a part-time job instead.

Part-Time Job

I found the perfect part-time job while viewing an online posting board. No experience needed!! I got that job and for two years now I have worked as a merchandising representative for multiple companies, travelling to different stores on a weekly basis. I also have some flexibility with my hours which are perfect for a single mom! My next step was to figure out child care.

Where did I look for child care?

  • Family members- Grandparents love to spend time with their grandkids, ask if they could help out a few hours a week. Brothers and sisters, cousins, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
  • Friends–Any of your friend’s home on maternity leave or a stay at home mom? Who doesn’t want to earn a little extra money? I have a couple of friends I can ask even at short notice. Friends can give pretty good rates!
  • Kijiji-Many University and high school students also advertise to babysit at reasonable rates.
Landscaping Project After Thinning Out

Landscaping Project After Thinning Out

Turning My Passion and Skills into Money- What Can I Do To Make Extra Money?

My love for gardening is something I will never let go of; to me it is therapeutic, rewarding and most of all quiet! I quickly started to miss it and the serenity of nature surrounding me. One day I decided to post an ad on Kijiji offering to help people with their gardening. When posting the ad I was hoping for a few extra hours of work every week. All I wanted to earn was enough extra money so I no longer had to live pay-check to pay-check.

Digging dirt or soil

Here’s the Kijiji “wanted” ad that started it all……

Do you need some help with your spring clean-up?

I am an experienced landscaper looking for some part-time hours within a company or a private residence. I have 10+ years experience; as well I have earned a diploma in Horticulture. I am offering my services at a rate of $XX.XX/hour. 

My skills include:

  • Pruning and Hedge Trimming
  • Total Lawn Maintenance
  • Sodding, Planting, Mulching
  • Fertilizing and Over-seeding
  • Edging, Flower Bed Installation

If you want someone who is skilled in landscaping, dedicated and a hard worker, I’m the girl you’re looking for! Please contact me by email or phone. It can be a one time job just to help you get on top of things, or on an ongoing basis.

I honestly should have taken more time writing the ad, although my results were great!

My Clients

April 2011

I received 2 replies within the first week the ad was up.  I was able to work out an arrangement with one of my now clients. I have now been their private gardener for almost two years; working 3 hours every other weekend just helping them stay on top of everything simply giving them a helping hand to what they have already completed. Between grandparents and the kids dad, 3 hours on a weekend isn’t too hard to find to make some extra money.

Last summer my Kijiji Ad attracted a young couple who had recently purchased a property, planning to flip it. Again in my ad I listed all the services I offered which lucky for me, they needed! Mentioning my education in the ad certainly helped my credibility; I wasn’t just looking to pull some weeds. This couple hired me, after an interview of sorts explaining to them my situation. I was honest stating that being a single mom and it was difficult for me to work 8 hours days 5 days a week. I assured them of my commitment to meeting their deadline and they understood. I promised to put the hours in each chance I could to get the job done with pride of quality and workmanship. I met their deadline and they sold the house and I had $2000 extra money  in my pocket!!

I wasn’t expecting to find a job like this when I posted the Kijiji ad. Not only did the extra money help me catch up my bills each month but I was able to purchase the new tires I desperately needed for my car. I have since obtained multiple clients through word of mouth from this job alone.

Before Landscaping Project

Before Landscaping Project

After Landscaping Project

After Landscaping Project

April 2012

As 2012 rolled along I still had the first clients from the Kijiji ad, as well as another private residence with ongoing occasional hours throughout the spring, summer and fall. I was fortunate to have multiple small jobs lined up in 2012, as well hired to remove an existing lawn and replace it.

What I hope for in 2013

I have plans with my two ongoing clients to continue with them, as well hoping to secure one more property. I will continue to advertise and hope again for multiple, small, one-time jobs to pull in some extra cash and build my portfolio.

On a smaller scale, I have also planned to try and do the same with my other passion, playing the piano. I have played for 26 years and would love to play for others. My goal is posting an ad offering to play at weddings and other small functions to make extra money.

Tips for Making Extra Money

  • Find something that you are good at and turn it into cash!
  • Talk about what you do, talk about it a lot!  Word of mouth can do amazing things for your   business.
  • Even though working for yourself, remember to maintain a professional image.
  • Don’t take on more work than you can fit into your already busy life, you don’t want to commit to work then not be able to follow through.

What Ways Do You Make Extra Money?

Katrina Landscaping

Guest Post by: Katrina B is a 30-year-old single mom of 2 who lives in Southwestern Ontario.  She works primarily in Sales and Marketing and does Freelance landscaping in her spare time.

New Start, New Beginning, New Life, Change, Divorce, Seperation

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Three Best Things About Being Single When It Comes To Money

car with kids

A year ago I would have never pictured myself as being a single mother. I’m sure no married mother actually pictures herself on her own raising her children. But life happens and there are just some things that we will never be able to change. Being single isn’t all that bad; there are actually many perks and being able to make your own personal financial decisions is one of them

The three best things about being single for me when it comes to money are…..

1.)    You Can Make Your Own  Financial Plans. My ex-husband and I disagreed a lot when it came to managing our money. While he did let me have most of the control over the cheque book, he would often make comments like “I will work until the day I die.” Of course me being a personal finance junkie would just feel my eyes roll into the back of my head every time I heard this. Well of course, without a plan and some savings you will work until the day you die. I can now organize my game plan without having to beg somebody to jump on board.

What I can Do Being Single….
  • If I want to start a ROTH IRA, I can do it.
  • If I want to buy individual stocks to invest my money, I can do it.
  • If I want to live on beans and rice to save money on groceries (not that I would), there is nobody stopping me, I can do it.

2.)    You are the Only Person in Your Way. Now when I set my goals I am the only person who can keep me from success. If I fail it is all on me. I have nobody to blame but myself. So as long as I can keep my ambition (which I will) I am heading straight for the finish line.

3.)    You Have to Depend on Yourself. Now this third one isn’t quite as fun, but it’s a challenge and I am always up for a challenge. It takes a little bit of time to learn how to be independent again but once you get that down you feel unstoppable.

Believe In Yourself! 

A new-found feeling of independence does wonders for your confidence. Knowing that you are smart enough and above all responsible enough to support yourself and kids (if you have any) and still have the drive to go after your dreams. That is an amazing feeling, especially if it’s one you thought that you would never have.

So those are my favourite three things about being single when it comes to money. Now, I am able to wake up each day, accomplish the most important things and go after my goals, whatever they might be. There’s an upside to every situation and being single isn’t so bad after all.

Guest Post: Alexa is a newly single mother to two beautiful little girls. She chronicles her journey as a single mother trying to make it big at Single Moms Income.

It's Not About How Much Money You Make It's How You Spend It

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Taking My Life Back While Getting Fit On A Budget!

Guest Post: Bonnie

Taking back my life and getting fit, You bet I am! My name is Bonnie and I’m a 53-year-old woman who has been overweight most of her life including childhood. I have a love hate relationship with food and used it as comfort source towards painful issues. I’ve been on many diet programs and have managed to lose some weight but no long-term successes. I realized the number one reason for the continued failures was my inability to embrace the healthy lifestyle as a “permanent change” and not a temporary fix.

Where It All Began 

It started back in 2007 when my husband took sick and diagnosed with end stage liver failure and liver cancer. I was so busy caring for him that my life was put on the back burner. I was filling my emotional void with fast and fatty foods, even if I wasn’t hungry. We eventually both lost our jobs due to his illness and I had to care for him as his memory was slowing drifting away. Shortly after we became homeless until our daughter and grandson opened their home to us. My husband was placed on the transplant list to hopefully get a new liver before he passed away which we had been told was likely around the 3 month mark. Two months to the day of receiving the pager we got the call that a matching liver had been found and he was to be immediately taken to the transplant centre to prep for the 8 hour surgery. He has since made a slow but miraculous recovery but then my health began to fail rapidly.

I ended up being diagnosed with

  • Arthritis of the hands, feet, knees and elbows
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Swellings of the feet and ankles
  • Blood pressure readings ranged high and low

Ultimately, as I was trying to walk on my sore legs and feet I tore my meniscus in my one knee. All of the above landed me in a scooter to grocery shop and a cane just to walk from one room to another. From that point forward the weight slowly would creep up to a serious level that I never thought possible. Eventually I couldn’t move or sleep without 6 pillows propped up under me as I couldn’t breathe. I also wheezed alot in the evenings yet I still didn’t do anything to save myself.

It was the week before Easter 2012, I woke up and life just hit me like a ton of bricks. “I’m going to die if I don’t do something to save myself from these habits I’ve created”, I thought to myself. My doctor had mentioned that maybe I should consider bariatric surgery. I was stunned and thought,”wow,am I honestly that overweight”.  On April 12,2012 I began my journey to a new healthy me to take back my life. Our mind is a powerful medium and similar to quitting smoking you must motivate and push yourself to achieve your goals one day at a time and without pressure.

Beginning My Journey

When I first started this journey I couldn’t even walk the simple 10 minutes to get to the mailbox each day. I gave up for the first few weeks due to so much pain and huffing and puffing but I didn’t let that stop me. Things have improved since and I now walk at least 2 hours each day. I split my walks up into smaller time frames as my knees and feet still give me grief  from time to time but I accomplish my daily goals, something I never dreamed of months ago.

Myths about Spending Money to Get Fit and Healthy

I would like to dispel the myth that unless you are rich you can’t afford to eat healthy. Yes some items are higher priced than cheap boxed, canned and processed foods but there are ways around that. My Grocery Budget is now based around mostly fresh fruits and vegetables that are on sale or in season. Our weekly menu plan is based on what vegetables and proteins are on sale for the week.

Ways To Save Money On Food

If you have access to a yard you can sow and grow lots of vegetables for cheap except for exercise tending to your garden and water. I didn’t have that option this year to garden so I plan my shopping by using local shopping flyers, plan a shopping list and  save time and money by price matching and of course budgeting. I also tend to keep an eye out for reduced meat and vegetables that I can easily store in my freezer for later use.


I bought a several 1 lb packages  of fish reduced by 50% from the grocery store and then froze them for later use.

Money Saving Tip: I buy my yogurt on sale and in larger containers and portion them out in reuseable single serve containers.

Canadian Coupons

I use coupons to stockpile my paper, hygiene and cleaning products which enables me to save up a bit of money for the items that don’t come with coupons. This is where the grocery savings in my budget makes sense to me. I buy brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal, etc in bulk and save money by not purchasing smaller bags.

Eating Out and The Budget

The number was staggering after I took a hard look at the amount of money we spent eating out each month in our budget. If anyone were to do the lunch and dinner comparison they would see eating at home potentially not only has health benefits but can save you so much money. We would eat out about 2 times for lunch and dinner each week. The average cost for these splurges were a mind-blowing $100 a week a total of $400 a month in our budget. Can you imagine all the food I could buy each month with $400 added to my current grocery budget? 

Frugal Healthy Cooking At Home

An example of a cheap healthy meal I now make at home for a total of $2.35 per person is:

  • 1/4 medium turnip baked to make turnip fries $0.75,
  • 1 cup of fresh green beans $0.35,
  • 1 cup of brown rice $0.15, 4 oz chicken breast $1.10

If I went to McDonald’s for a value meal it would have cost me $8.02. Before beginning this journey to take my life back I wasn’t the chef in the kitchen like I am today. I typically ate out of boxes, cans, jars, and at fast food joints.

What I Used To Eat Then….

There was no stopping me when it came to burgers, fries, poutine, pizzas, Kraft dinner,white breads, pastas, rice, as well as diet pop, yep diet pop. I ate lots of processed foods high in sodium and other ingredients I can’t even pronounce. Eating convenience foods was likely one of the worst things I could have done for my body. Now I enjoy cooking frugal easy low-fat healthy meals everyday.

What I Eat Now…..

Now I have a healthy meal plan and I  eat as clean as possible. My new healthy lifestyle includes foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, chicken, turkey, fish, whole grains, fat-free yoghurt, fat-free milk and reduced fat cheeses. I limit my frozen and canned fruit and vegetables due to my sodium level intake. I do however have many bags of frozen fruits and veggies in the freezer which I recently used smart source insert coupons to purchase them for $1.00. The fruits are great for smoothies or mixed with some fat-free yoghurt. This lifestyle change does take planning and getting used to, I won’t lie. I can equate it to couponing for the first time, overwhelming at first but in a short period it becomes second nature.

You Don’t Need Money and A Gym To Get Fit!

Another myth is you can’t lose weight and get fit unless you spend money by joining a gym in which I have no desire to. I walk and hike every day and these exercise methods cost me nothing. I enjoy hiking and have found plenty of amazing well-kept trails in and around our city and it’s lots of fun. While on my hike I sometimes pack a healthy picnic lunch and a refillable 32 oz water bottle and make an afternoon out of it.

The best thing about hiking and picnic lunches:

  • It doesn’t cost any money
  • You get amazing health benefits
  • Stress of everyday living vanishes

My life stressors are forgotten within 10 minutes of entering the trails. It’s also a great way to reconnect with your spouse or significant other. Another great free way to get fit is to bike ride. If you own a bike and use it you’re already ahead of the health game. If not there are lots of used bikes for sale at great prices on Kijiji or even free on free-cycle.

The Results

Its been 4  1/2 months and I have lost 70 lbs so far and although my feet and ankles still swell I am optimistic that as the weight melts off the swelling will improve. I recently went to the family doctor and my blood pressure is sitting at 120/80 which is perfect, especially for a 53-year-old woman who had high blood pressure 4 months ago. My resting heart rate has slowed considerably which speaks volumes on the benefits of my free cardio workouts every day.

I love the foods, exercise and energy that this new life has given me. I wish I had not wasted so much time but I can’t go back, only forward. I hope telling my story will make a difference in someone else’s life who thinks that they cant do it, they aren’t strong, don’t have enough money or aren’t motivated. I am living proof that you can go after what you dream no matter your age, wealth or health. With hard work and determination you can accomplish your goals even if one step at a time. Anything can be accomplished with hard work, determination and a refusal to fail no matter how impossible the big picture looks in the beginning.

I have done this without fad diets, gimmicks, pills, surgery or any other weight-loss aids. Clean eating, portion control, lots of walking and a fierce desire to save my life. Whatever your path is, don’t give up. We may have different methods of getting there but we will meet and celebrate at the finish line. Now its onward and upwards to reaching my final goal  a weight loss of 100 lbs. As of today September 3rd, 2012 I am 75.5 lbs lighter!

There is so much available for people who desire to eat healthy and get fit. We have to reach out and change the way we think. Taking my life back and getting fit while setting goals just like a budget are steps I am willing to take… to be me again.

You can Join Bonnie and her over 1600 Fans on her journey at “Losing It Like Bonnie” on Facebook.

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Why We Want To Pay Off Our Mortgage Early

Contributor: Nurse Frugal at Ladies Go First

Paying off the Mortgage early, that’s what we’re doing and here’s why. I vividly remember the day when I came home from work and my husband was sitting behind the computer with a perplexed look on his face.  He looked up at me and asked “I don’t know, do you think we should pay off the house loan too?”
Here Is Some Background…………
A few weeks earlier we had just started listening to Dave Ramsey, a radio host and author that believes that becoming debt free is the key to financial freedom and building wealth.  We had just emptied out our savings accounts to pay off the two brand new cars we had just financed. My heart sank in my chest, was my husband taking crazy pills before I came home?  Did he realize that paying off the mortgage would mean that we would have to work lots of overtime for years and years to ultimately pay off the $233,346.60 owed on our mortgage?!?!  He proceeded to do a mortgage calculation that revealed that if we didn’t pay off the house early we would pay $118,123.78 in interest throughout the life of our mortgage, which is essentially throwing that money away.
$118,123.78!!!!!!!  That can buy me another house somewhere, or 6 cars, or millions of chocolate bars, or lots of mission trips….the list can go on and on. It took me a few days to totally get on board with my husband.  We suddenly became team-mates and partners on our journey to attack this massive burden of a debt.  We began by agreeing to hold each other accountable for our finances: we got on a budget (something I have dreaded my entire life) it has such a terrible connotation.  We decided to live from last months income and jointly decide how our money would be spent the following month by doing a “zero-based budget.”  This means that we decide on paper how every single dollar will be spent the following month.
It took a while to get used to this new frugal way of life; the first two months I wanted to throw my husband out the window when I couldn’t “buy” the things I “needed” (vacations, new clothes, dining out….all things that one can live without.)  I would throw these little whiney pants tantrums because I felt “entitled” to have certain things. But then I started to see progress.  We felt traction as our mortgage debt diminished. The funny thing is that when we first started in February of 2011, we anticipated having the house paid off in April of 2016 because of my “whiney pants” needs and wants.  It’s now a year and a half after we first started, and we are half way done!!
Once you see that traction, you get more motivation and it’s like a freight train you can’t stop.  My husband and I started working more and living off of 40% of our income, putting everything else towards the mortgage, and we have never been happier.  I respect my husband more than ever with the direction he is taking our family. I feel like a partner in our finances because I am treated as an equal member of our “budget committee.”  I like to refer to myself as Vice President.
This experience has been the most enriching in my life: we have freed our souls away from meaningless “stuff” that we can easily live without, and our marriage, teamwork and communication has gotten stronger.  It has taught us the value of hard work. I imagine all the opportunities this will open up for us: the possibility of us retiring early, the possibility of only having to work a day or two when we have children, the possibility of doing more charitable work…this is the “stuff” that truly matters in life. We are hoping to pay off our house in August or September of 2013, and when that day comes we hope to serve as inspiration to other working people that anyone can become financially free.
Would you pay down your mortgage faster or invest the money? Share your comments!
Thanks to Nurse Frugal (Vice President) for sharing their journey to debt freedom with us at Canadian Budget Binder. If you want to guest post for Canadian Budget Binder click HERE.

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