Thursday, October 23, 2008

We're One of the Lucky Ones

We aren't in danger of losing our home.

Hubby's job is secure (at least for now.)

We don't have to go to bed hungry every night.

But we aren't saving money the way we should. Hubby makes decent money but yet at the end of every week, there's not as much money left as there should be. We have four kids that need to go to college and hopefully someday we'll be able to enjoy hubby's retirement. We need to get a grip on this whole financial thing. Now. Before it becomes an emergency.

We made some choices long ago that will help make this transition a little easier.

  • We drive older cars. The insurance is less and we don't have to have a monthly car payment.
  • We bought "less" house than we could have. "Less", according to the bank and the real estate agents must mean that a two-story house with 3 bedrooms and two baths, two+ acres, a two-car garage, a barn and a storage shed is not enough space for two parents and one young child. We bought based on what we could afford on hubby's salary so that I wasn't going to have to work simply to support the house.
  • I shop garage sales when I can. I worked in a good department store during college so I know good, quality brands when I see them. A good percentage of my daughters' wardrobes comes from consignment stores and garage sales. Gap Kids, Limited Too, Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger ... all looking like new and picked up for pennies on the dollar.
  • We don't use credit cards. At. All. If we can't afford to pay cash for it, we don't need it.
  • I enjoy cooking so I cook almost all of our meals at home. We rarely eat out and when we do it's a special event, not something taken for granted and forgotten a few hours later.

We're lucky. Very lucky. In December 2001, hubby was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). AML is an aggressive form of luekemia that doesn't offer a very good prognosis. Of all the other AML patients we met during the 18 months that hubby battled this horrible disease, Hubby is the only survivor. Right before hubby was diagnosed we discovered that I was pregnant with our fourth child. It was a pretty traumatic time for all of us. As the saying goes, when it rains it pours. At the end of my pregnancy, I developed my own life-threatening condition, Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. My heart became enlarged and was unable to pump, thrusting me into congestive heart failure and into a stay in the ICU.

I'll say it again: We were lucky. Hubby went into remission and has reached the point where his doctors have used the "cured" word. It took awhile but my heart is back to normal size and function. Also lucky was the fact that we'd implemented these changes before we got sick. Hubby was unable to work for 18 months. I would have been physically unable to work for at least a year. Hubby had disability insurance that matched his paycheck and since we didn't have car payments and a house that required my paycheck to maintain, we didn't have to worry about losing our home. We didn't have any credit card bills to worry about. At a time when I had plenty of things to worry about, at least money wasn't one of those things.

This blog is going to be a way for me to document this journey to financial freedom. I plan to explore ways to cut the excess from our grocery budget (and maybe to make a budget while we're at it!), to provide four kids with all the necessities and luxuries that they deserve, to make our home a beautiful and happy place and to show that you can live the Good Life without spending a lot of money.

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