Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shauna’s Household Challenge: An Update.

Hi Guys! So as some of you know, I put a challenge on my household to live as frugally as possible. We decided that we were going to live off only my paycheck. As for my husband’s paycheck, we were going to use that to pay past due medical bills, cut down on credit card debt, and put into savings.  We have only been doing this challenge for a month, but boy is it paying off!

I must mention that I had already been couponing and cutting back on our grocery bill before the challenge was in place. But boy were we spending a lot of money going out to eat & on entertainment (movies, Georgia Aquarium, Chuck E. Cheese, etc.)

So here I was, with a very decent sized stock pile of groceries, paper goods, and personal goods. I could walk downstairs to my stockpile to pull things for dinner, but it was just easier to call the Chinese Restaurant to bring us food. After all, I work a full time job from 7:30 to 4:30, then go pick up my little man from daycare, then get him his snack, play with his toys, keep him entertained. The idea of cooking dinner and having to clean up after dinner just seemed like too much on some days. Especially considering I have Fibromyalgia and some days am just too weak to do simple tasks such as cooking. And my husband doesn’t get home until 7pm which is too late to start cooking dinner. If I have energy, I want to give it to my son and not to chores.

So that was Problem Number 1. My solution: On the weekends, when I have plenty of energy and the help of my husband: Make Crock Pot Meals. I looked at everything I had in my stockpile and came up with meal ideas for the week with what I had. I looked on the Being Frugal 101 Recipe Page and found some great Crock Pot Meals. I decided to make a few. They worked wonderfully! It was so easy to put them in the crock pot first thing in the morning and have dinner waiting for us when we got home.

So now, Problem Number 2: Buying lunches on weekdays. Most mornings are a quick blur in the Rivero household. We tend to sleep as late as we can and then rush out the door. We would frequently forget to grab anything for lunch on the way out the door and have to pay for lunch at one of the restaurants around us. Expensive & usually not very healthy. My Solution: Make sure I have lunch ready to go the night before. Sounds like a “duh” concept, right. Well, having a two year old you have to feed, bathe, brush teeth, get on pjs, and do the whole nighttime routine, sometimes you just want to go sit on your butt in front of the television until bedtime.  So my husband and I decided to take a tag-team approach. He would bathe Aiden while I got lunch ready for the next day. And those crock pot meals were great left overs! I made sure to always cook extra so we had enough for lunches. Problem Solved!

Problem Number 3: Entertainment Expenses. I have it in my head that I want to do as much with my son as possible. I want to take him to the Zoo, to the Georgia Aquarium, to Chuck E. Cheese. While going to these places are fun, boy are they expensive!!! So, I started looking into low or no cost options of fun.

Luckily this month there was a fun petting zoo and family night sponsored by the Chick-fil-a right down the road from us. We also decided to walk around the mall one weekend and let Aiden ride the kiddie rides there in place of doing Chuck E. Cheese. We also stayed home more. My wonderful mother-in-law found a huge cardboard box and that has become Aiden’s fort. We put on puppet shows from the fort and do all sorts of imaginative games. Now for me and my husband, we realize parents need to get away and have a date night every once in a while. Our Solution: Groupon! We found Groupons for the Movie Theaters close to us: $5 for a Movie Ticket & a Large Tub of Popcorn. Now you can’t beat that! Want to go out to eat: restaurants.com. Using this website we have found new restaurants in the area that we really enjoy now.

Problem Number 4: Paying off Medical Bills. This one was a biggie. I have had medical bills hanging over my head since I had my son 2 ½ years ago. Here’s a Sample List:

Hospital Bills from having my son: Summed up to $2250
Ambulance Ride to Hospital: $900
Surgery to have a Cyst Removed: Luckily nothing since I had met my deductible & out of pocket for that year.
CT Scan: $700

So as you can see, I had quite a bit of Medical Debt: $3850. I have been chipping away at this debt for 2 ½ years. And this wasn't all of my medical bills, I had other smaller bills that I was able to pay off as they came in (taking away from being able to pay these large bills).

I am SO HAPPY to say that I have finally paid off ALL of my Medical Bills as of this morning!

Being Frugal, Saving Money, Couponing, Planning Ahead: All of these are completely attainable goals. I am proof of that. Sure, it may take a good deal of work, but boy is it worth it!

My household plans to continue our challenge until all of our Credit Card Debt is paid off. Wish us luck!

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