After two years, it has finally happened. Two years ago, we were nearly $1000 in the hole at the beginning of the year with no savings, barely enough to pay bills and facing a month of beans and rice. We also started our journey towards Financial Peace that January. I hardly feel like the same person this year. What’s changed?
We started our year with savings! Our emergency fund isn’t at its minimum limit because of a car emergency in the early fall, but we have enough there to breathe easily. Not only that, but we have money in the house checking account, too.
For the first time in 17 years (no kidding!), Peter has had to work through to the end of the year, not getting his usual 2-4 weeks off for winter break. It’s been a hard adjustment. We’re used to having that family time together, he’s used to having the rest, and I’m used to having him home to help with the girls while I attend to wrapping up the year’s business bookkeeping. However, those hours at work have brought in extra income we don’t usually have. There’s that silver lining!
Taking advantage of sales and having a large, stand-alone freezer has enabled us to stock up on meats, frozen veggies, bread and milk. We can also make food in large quantities to freeze for later. Opening the freezers on New Year‘s Eve to find space for leftover ham made me feel so grateful! All that food means not having to sustain on beans and rice – or rice and beans! – for the next few weeks.
We disciplined ourselves at Christmas (again). We decided to give according to our means and not what people believe we should spend. It felt meager in comparison to the generosity people showed us, but we gave from the heart and felt wonderful about giving what we did.
“When you live like no one else, then later you can live like no one else.” I’ve also discovered that, by living like no one else, we are able to give. I won’t say we can give like no one else, but the fact we can give at all is a huge improvement over January 2012. Our elderly neighbor was taken by ambulance to the hospital this morning, and unknowingly, the hubster suggested taco soup for dinner. It makes a ton, and I thought, I could give a container of this to Sheila so she will have something homemade to eat that she won’t have to cook. Two years ago, if we could have even afforded to make taco soup, we would’ve been saving every bit of it for later.
With all this in place, including the beginning of our vacation fund for this year, we can breathe easier as we continue to work through our baby steps. It feels so awesome working smarter so our money works harder!
What plans do you have in place to make 2014 more financially peaceful for your family?