You don't get rich by writing checks (or swiping your card)

Before Jordan and I met, I was very busy, working 3 jobs and loving it.
I had extra money out the wazoo and was living very comfortably, or so I thought.
I was buying pretty much anything I wanted and making all my bills on time but I was missing a few key points in the game of life. I was only paying the minimum on a few student loans and my car.
I figured that was good enough, I was doing fine, or so I thought.

When Jordan and I sat down after moving in together our finances were one thing we wanted in order.
Jordan was semi annoyed by my not paying down my debts and told me we needed those gone stat!
I thought he was crazy because I was making the payments and all that jazz but he told me that I needed to be over paying and to start knocking the interest down. I needed to get serious about the little debt that I did have for our future. Jordan also had debt as well with student loans but man did he pay those bad boys down as fast as he could.

Fast forward to now.

I am happy to say that Jordan and I have paid down every student loan, his MBA, our car and we have no standing debt. Minus our mortgage, which will most likely be there for awhile! Our monthly payments are so easy, we pay the house, the utilities and the credit card all off each month. Yes, I said credit card, I know a lot of money people say not to use them but hello we make 5% on our card, so we only spend our budget amount so we never run a balance on the card. Makes us some extra money.

How did we get here?

My husband has a spread sheet for every dollar we spend, it sounds crazy but it keeps us on track! His spreadsheet is the law in spending in the house, it shows us every day where we are at, and gives us a look at where we need to be smarter and it's so much easier to have it all in front of you rather than waiting for your bank statement to come.

"You don't get rich by writing checks"

If I had a dollar for everytime Jordan has said that I would be a millionaire. Okay, he hasn't said it that much because usually when he starts the sentence I chime in with "by writing checks" with an eyeroll and sigh. haha

Here are some things that we have done to get financially more stable.

Cash Budget....
At the start of the month Jordan gives me a wad of cash. That cash is my budget for the month, he leaves it up to me to spend it wisely and cover groceries, anything I need and anything the boys need to make it through the month. I don't take the cash with me to the stores because I use our credit card which gets me 5% on groceries, so I will shop for the week swipe my card and then give Jordan the cash when I get home. I can physically go into my wallet each day and count the cash and map out in my brain where the cash will go. I will usually make piles of what I think I will spend on groceries and then look at the calander and see what activities we have coming up and where the other money will go. Having that cash in hand and having the give it to Jordan is much more emotional then swiping a card.
At times I will sometimes go a week or two without cashing out and OUCH it hurts to see my balance that I owe Jordan, lol I have a bad habit of online shopping so when he tells me the balance I sometimes cringe. Thankfully my photography money (which I use half to pad my monthly budget) helps out a lot. The benefits to a side job!:) But anyways I swear by the cash budget system. If you don't have cash you don't spend, easy as that.

Cut your costs....
Sit down and look at your monthly bills. Where can you cut? Can you turn off a few extra lights? Can you turn the heat down or AC up a few degrees and still be comfortable? Could you use fans instead of the AC? Do you need the fastest internet package? Do you really watch TV enough to justify it? Can you cut your cell phone plan?

Sure, some of those you may say no to and that is fine but we have done a lot of those. My cell phone plan, less than $40 a month, and I will actually be switching to one that is $20/a month, yes you are reading that correct. I was with Verizon forever and we finally broke my contract when it was up. They are INSANELY priced and I barely use my phone anyway. I use Page Plus, it has the same coverage as Verizon, crazy right!? And yes I pay $40 a month for unlimited talk, text and some data, being that I am home and close to internet I don't NEED data on my cell. So right there we are saving at least $50-$100 on my cell phone plan! 
PS the new company I am switching to here soon is Republic Wireless- $19/month

We also just recently cut cable. I was only watching the Real Housewives anymore and I'm sorry as much as I love them they are not worth $100/month! I was always using my iPad in bed and watching through the apps on there so it was not painful at all to cut cable. We bought a bluray player for less than $100 bucks that streams Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, so we have ALL of the shows they have and are paying maybe $20 a month. So with that and the cell phone savings we are right near $150 off a month.  That's almost 2,000 a year. That is a lot of money people! Money I would rather put in savings or towards my boys schooling!

Gas- We are fully blessed because my husband has a free car and gas through work, so that really helps. I usually only need 1 fill up every 2 months or so in my car because I rarely drive that. But for that we use gasperks from Giant Eagle, you know the ones you accrue through buying groceries there. Well we have lucked out because anytime we spend a large amount of money at a store we will buy gift cards, we have had a lot of big purchases from home renovations and every $50 gives us 20 cents off a gallon, so the free gas we have gotten has filled my car for months on end. Obviously we have been lucky having to buy all new appliances and tons of home stuff for renovations so we have racked up free gas like crazy since we moved. 

Do you really need it? 
I have gotten so much better at answering that question with NO! I can't remember the last time I bought something full price. I just refuse to, everything goes on sale eventually and if you don't get that item, it's not the end of the world. The world will keep spinning if you don't get that pair of shoes. My favorite place to shop is the outlets. Gap Outlet is amazing, I can not tell you how many items I have gotten for my kids for less than $5 there, brand new. I always call ahead to see if they are doing any sales, sometimes they do 40% off clearance which makes things INSANELY cheap and when they do that, I STOCK UP! I buy ahead for the next year and it saves so much money.

I am also maybe one of the cheapest women ever, you're welcome Jordan. I maybe get my hair cut twice a year, and when I do I just hit up Great Clips, my hair looks fine! I also stopped coloring my hair about 4 years ago because it was more of an annoyance and waste of money so I save huge there by letting it go natural. I love my hair and it's easy to maintain! I also cut all the boys hair, including Jordan, he always hated those awkward hair cut chats anyway at the salon!:) Win-Win!

We will never buy anything that we can not afford. If you can't pay it off that month you do not need it. People get in over their head by allowing their credit cards to carry balances. Try to stop that. You want to be able to pay the ENTIRE bill off each month and if you can't you better believe you are paying EVEN MORE for that item with interest and fees, so I hope you enjoy it! haha! 

Another thing is that we eat at home a lot. Going out to eat is more of a hassle and more expensive for less quality food. As you know we are very anal about organic and buying local so eating at home helps us not only save money but stay healthier! And yes, we still fit organic meats and food into our budget because that is our top priority on the budget, what we eat, that is one area we will not cut costs.

Also, shop around. You can always find a better deal. I buy a TON of stuff on Amazon, I buy all our shampoos, soaps, diapers, wipes, even some of the boys snacks there! I save ton!! There is always someone with a cheaper price so shop around! 

We are very blessed with my husband having a great job and my photography doing so well but that does not give us an excuse to spend like crazy people. We are tighter now with our budget than we were 5 years ago. We want to be prepared for anything life throws at us, and truthfully that is a lot harder to do if you do not have your finances in order.

I thank God for a smart husband, sure at times it might annoy me when he says "Do you really need that" or the good ole "You don't get rich by writing checks" but he is so RIGHT!! I am much more happy with the way I spend now vs when I was single! I am sure I missed a ton of things but if you have any questions let me know! I will have Mr Money himself answer them! haha!

Happy Spending!!! xoxo


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE this! I swear we live the same life, when you write something like this. We do all this too, and it blows us away just how far we can spread my husband's modest income.
    People so often think that being cheap/frugal means you are in ugly hand me down clothes, eat junky foods, and live in a tiny hole of a house. Thank you for sharing this, and proving this stereotype wrong!

  2. Great post! Adam and I are pretty good about spending money, but we still need to be better about being more frugal and passing on the impulse buys. It amazes me though that some people don't understand credit at all and are racking up debt like crazy.

  3. Great tips! We are struggling financially a lot right now (I've written about it here ) but we are aware of our spending. We do cash budgets each month, but since my husband hasn't had good luck finding a stable job, we often struggle with covering it all. We've cut back on everything possible and it's pretty manageable for the most part. We do have debt that we are consciously trying to pay off. It would have helped if we had our finances together BEFORE trouble hit, of course!

  4. Great post! You have given some awesome advice that I am sure most people have not even thought of! I love hearing about a young responsible family that has their priorities in order :)

  5. Love this post! My husband is a HUGE tightwad and monitors the money. I am happy to wash my hand of it and know what my budget is each month. We buy used all the time, don't buy things unless we can afford them and keep a certain amount in savings at all times.

    I'm sure things will have to adjust a little when the baby comes, but since I will still be working things should not be too difficult. One of the other ways we save money is packing our lunches and trying not to eat out (which since I've been pregnant and craving the most bizarre foods is easier said than done). I also go to Aldi for all of my staple foods and only grocery shop once a week with a full menu planned.

    I'm always baffled by people who think it's okay to live off credit for most of their lives!

  6. Great post! We don't have a budget yet we should really look into doing one! Any certain companies you buy through for snacks and other things?? I'd LOVE to know which are good!

  7. I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH!! I've actually been blogging all about my husband and I's venture to paying off our student loans. We have made huge adjustments in the past few months that I wished we'd done sooner!!

  8. I can't believe you only fill up your car every other month! I have to fill up at least once a week. That's almost $300/month.

  9. Love this post. I can imagine your enthusiasm every time Jordan says "You don't get rich..." We're debt free (besides the house) and won't ever go back. We followed Dave Ramseys plan for getting out of debt. Highly recommend that for anyone struggling. It's crazy to have money leftover at the end of the month (and we don't make a ton of money).

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  11. Thanks for sharing what works best for you & your family, I always love finding new ways of tweaking our budget to get more bang for our buck. The cash method seems to be so reliable & holds the "spender" accountable.

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