This article was originally written for the audience at kimgaleta.com
I wasn’t asking for much. I didn’t want a mansion or a yacht. I didn’t expect designer clothes or a fancy sports car. I just wanted the “normal” stuff. I wanted a house I could be proud of, dinners out whenever I felt like it, cute clothes for my kids and to pay the bills on time. We felt like we must be doing something wrong, because we were trying so hard, and still failing.
How could this be our life?
This couldn’t be it? I wanted to do more than just struggle...and then one day die! I had dreams! I wanted to travel, I wanted to send my babies to college with no worries, I wanted my husband to retire while he could still walk, I wanted more out of my life than to just get through it! But how? This treadmill that had become our life was moving so fast. If I stopped running for even a split second I knew I’d fall flat on my face, but I was tired. I was done. I couldn’t run anymore. I felt lost and broken.
It wasn’t like we just had a rough month, or happened to over-spend every once in awhile. It was never ending. There was no light at the end of our tunnel. There was no tough-it-out for a few more years. This was our life. Save for retirement? Ha! We just wanted to keep food on the table!
We hit rock bottom, and we hit it hard. It was dark and it was cold. My husband and I held tight to each other because that’s all we really could do. We were lost with no map to show us which road to take or where to turn.
One day I had finally had enough of survival mode. What I did next became a catalyst moment in my family’s life. That day changed our entire future.
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1. WE HIT PAUSE ON THE TREADMILL
We decided to stop running. We stopped letting life just happen to us, and we took control.
2. WE TRACKED OUR LAST 3 mONTHS WORTH OF SPENDING
I grabbed my computer and logged on to our online banking. Overdraft fees, $5 here, $10 there, charges for things I didn’t even remember buying. Everything was so disorganized. Guessing how much we had left for groceries, never knowing what was still pending, or what would be taken out next. I had avoided digging in deeper for long enough.
I needed to know where our money had really been going. I went back through the last 3 months of our spending. I cried when I saw all our financial mistakes written on that notebook paper. I grouped up the purchases into categories – gas, groceries, restaurants, etc. This brought our areas of overspending out into the light and helped me know where I needed to cut back.
>> Learn more about how to do this in my FREE 5-Day Spending Course
3. WE REDUCED OUR EXPENSES
After we tracked our spending we saw how out-of-control we had really been with our money, so we took active steps towards cutting back in every way that we could. We almost completely stopped going out to eat, we started packing our snacks while we ran errands, we opted for family game nights instead of nights out, we stayed home more, and basically just learned how to slow down our life. This is where we found a light of hope.
After the first month, I realized that there was power in knowing. Sometimes the fear of the unknown is worse than the reality of the truth. Once I shed some light on how out of control our money really was…I actually felt better.
Related article: How to Create Wiggle Room in Your Budget
4. WE TOOK RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR SITUATION
I still wasn’t sure how everything would work out, but I had at least decided to stop playing the victim. We stepped up and took responsibility for our situation. We got ourselves into this mess...and we’d get ourselves out! I had struck motivation!
5. WE SET UP + FOLLOWED A WRITTEN BUDGET
We were shocked at how easy setting up and following a budget really was, and over the next few months we got better and better at telling our money where to go. We set up a plan for paying off our $490,000 worth of debt.
6. WE GOT SERIOUS ABOUT OUR NEW LIFESTYLE.
We kept our heads low and minded our own business for awhile. We ditched our living-for-the-weekend mentality and started working with some real goals in mind.
7. WE SAT DOWN AS A COUPLE AND WROTE DOWN OUR DREAMS ON A GOALS SHEET
We boldly wrote down our debt-free goal date. Then several items we’d love to buy one day in cash. This felt silly at first, like two big kids writing a letter to Santa Claus, but it ended up being one our biggest sources of motivation and a great way for us to stay connected as a couple.
8. WE KEPT PUSHING THROUGH OUR MOUNTAIN OF DEBT
We had our third baby at this point in our debt-free journey, and found a whole new level of motivation. Our family was complete, and we were now going on the motivation of giving our family a bright future.
Related article: How to stay motivated while paying off debt
9. WE STARTED TO ENJOY FINANCIAL FREEDOM
We felt free. We felt in control. We were off the treadmill. Our life was quiet, calm, and full of hope.
Note: I’ve put together a bonus resource at the end of this article that will help your family get started on this journey to financial freedom.
Today, over 3 years later, we’ve paid off $490,000 in debt, and we're 100% debt free! Our budget is simple and painless now. It only takes about 15-30 minutes every payday to plan out how we’ll spend our money, and then we spend the rest of our life just living! We don’t worry about money, and we don’t pray for payday.
We spend less than we make, and actually live more comfortably now on 60% of our income, than we ever dreamed of living before. We have 5 months worth of living expenses saved. And that goals list I mentioned earlier? We’re crushing it! All while keeping 3 kids fed, and 2 of them in diapers!
“A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.” -DAVE RAMSEY
Budgeting is the reason we’ve been so successful with our money. We stopped leaving something as important as our future to chance. We got intentional with our spending, our goals, and our entire life.
At first, I hated the word “budget” because I thought it meant never having fun again, and constantly living with a worksheet in my hand. The truth is, budgeting isn’t just about worksheets and paying off debt. Budgeting is simply being intentional with your money, and not letting life just happen to you.
It’s about getting out of survival mode and regaining your freedom. It’s more planning, and less worrying. It’s more joy, and less stress. It’s more being prepared, and less being panicked.
When we’re raising our family we can’t just fly through life anymore. We have babies to raise, dreams to chase, and a life to enjoy. We only get one shot at this life, we shouldn’t spend it scraping by in survival mode.
I believe young families need a budget more than anyone.
If you’re ready to make some changes that will lead your family to financial freedom, and make survival mode a distant memory, I’ve put together a simple 5-day free email course to help you get started on your journey.
HEY I'M SAMI WOMACK
I'm the wife to my high school sweetheart, Daniel, + homeschooling momma to our 3 girls. I'm the Budgeting Coach + Motivational Speaker behind
A Sunny Side Up Life.
My family used to be in $490k of debt + living paycheck-to-paycheck, but after we hit rock bottom everything changed for us!
Now that my family has become debt free + gained financial freedom, I want to help your family do the same! My passion is inspiring women to live abundant lives through budgeting, intentional living, and positive thinking.
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