I have another honorable mention from the My Secret to Saving Contest! Please welcome guest author, Hope. She is sharing some great advice and encouragement with us today!
Nine years ago, while raising four sons on $40,000 a year, my husband and I paid cash for a new house! We like to tell folks that we did it… on nickels and dimes.
Living under the national median income is difficult and sometimes saving for nearly any goal can seem like an exercise in futility. But, I am here to tell you to take heart! Nickels and dimes DO add up to dollars!
Our small home was nestled in the middle of a rapidly decaying neighborhood. Drug salesmen plied their trade at the park two blocks away. The sound of gunfire had begun to punctuate our sleep. Our safety, and that of our children, was at risk! We needed to move and time was of the essence.
We looked at our current savings, added the equity we expected to receive from the sale of our home, and estimated that we needed to save an additional $30,000. We gave ourselves 24 months to do it. It would mean banking nearly 40 percent of our yearly income! In order to reach this goal we would need to think and act unconventionally.
Most folks live with a lot of “fluff” in their monthly expenses. Going out to eat is a regular occurrence. So are lattes from Star Bucks. Weekends may involve water parks, action parks, or amusement parks, but they don’t involve the FREE local parks. When you have a lot of leeway, it’s easy to cut. But, what if you don’t have the ability to excise hundreds of dollars of expenses out of your budget in a fairly painless fashion? That is the exact reality for most families who live under the national median income. That was our situation.
Gathering the children into the livingroom, we looked into their eyes. We said, “We believe that God has called us to do something very difficult. We are going to move to a new home. We do not have the money in our monthly budget for a mortgage payment. So, we are going to save up and pay cash. We want you to understand that we love each of you dearly. But, for a while, we won’t be spending any extra money. With God’s help, the Ware family team is going to do this together! We don’t have dollars to cut out of our budget. So, we are going to save nickels and dimes.”
Yes, I went through our budget with a fine-tooth comb. I cut every category down to bare bones. I menu planned, bulk cooked, and made every meal from scratch. Every extra dollar that came into our home went straight into the bank. My husband rode his bicycle to work. We filled our gas tanks once per month. I used cloth diapers. I hung laundry outside on the clothesline until it got so cold that the clothes came off the line dried into hard, flat shapes. For two years, if we couldn’t eat it or wear it, we didn’t purchase it!
But, that is NOT why we were able to buy a house with cash! The reason we made it to our goal is because we REFUSED to believe anything less. Defeat was not an option! I know that it takes more than words to meet any goal. But, without a vision, the people perish. If you want to reach a goal, you have to begin by believing that you can do it.
That phrase, “nickels and dimes” is my tip.
I know it may seem simplistic. How can three words help you get any closer to a goal? “Nickels and dimes” if said through a haze of barely-making-it despair, can be a cry of defeat to families living with little money. But, we changed them into a war cry! We meant business!
That little phrase, “nickels and dimes” became the mantra of our home. When we were tempted to spend money on anything extra, one of us would look at the other, smile and say, “Nickels and dimes.” Each month we would pray together as a family, celebrate our savings, and yell, “Nickels and dimes!” Speaking words of affirmation, I would look at the boys and say, “God is going to help us get out of this neighborhood and He’s going to do it on ….” I would wait for them to enthusiastically finish my sentence by shouting in unison “nickels and dimes!”
We saved nearly $30,000 in twenty months – over 40 percent of our income! We proudly paid cash for a three bedroom, two bath, brick home in a nice neighborhood. The realtor was thankful that we gave her a check, not the actual nickels and dimes. ☺
Tackling your own great, big, audacious goal
– Look it squarely in the face.
– Break it down into smaller increments.
– Track every penny.
– Celebrate small victories.
– Surround yourself with a great team.
– Give thanks for God for every blessing.
– Take heart!
Nickels and dimes DO add up to dollars!
I’m Hope Ware. I’ve been married since 1988, raised 4 sons, and learned a lot about living lean while creating an atmosphere of joy and abundance in our home. I blog at https://underthemedian.