Getting Out of Debt (aka the Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans Diet)

Michael and I recently started talking again about ways to cut our expenses so we can start paying off debt. While I was excited discussing ways to accomplish this, my sweet husband informed me that it would only make the “hole” smaller and not really help.  I narrowed my eyes, crossed my arms and asked, “What do you mean?”

He proceeded to explain how our budget is always in the negative and we rely on his commission check to cover what his weekly check does not.  Sometimes this doesn’t happen and it gets interesting.  Which means we have no extra money to take momma out for dinner, margaritas or Starbucks.  But seriously, this means we have no extra money to get out of debt.  We’re just constantly paying the minimums. Am I speaking anybody’s language?!  Yeah, I thought so.

It was at this point I suggested the beans and rice/rice and beans diet.  You Dave Ramsey-ites will get this.  And I really started to think we can live like no one else, so we can live like no one else.

Later that day, after our little discussion, I was reading one of my favorite bloggers’ posts and found an article by a guest blogger about being debt free.  I was both inspired and challenged to attempt most, if not all, of the Grocery Shrink‘s ideas.  Below are just a couple.

The idea that challenged me the most, and would reduce our expenses immediately, was to budget $50 of groceries per person per month. At first I was disheartened, believing it impossible for our family to spend only $200 a month on food.  For one thing, we spend nearly that much in a week and that doesn’t include eating out.  For the second, I have two growing teens.  Do I really need to say more?

But then I thought about how we changed our eating habits, for the most part.  We have not bought meat for a couple months now.  Well, recently Michael has taken to buying deli meat for the kids’ lunches, but that is the only meat we purchase.  Oh and some bacon.  Okay, so we’re not being good vegetarians but we’re trying.  Anyway, you would be amazed how much money we have saved by not purchasing meat.

Wait a minute.  Let me think about that.  We’re still spending almost $200 per week so we’re not saving money by eliminating meat.  Hmmm….  Something’s wrong with this picture.  We’re obviously buying extras that we don’t normally have around the house.

Like ice cream and Cookie Crisp and candy corn.

Another challenging idea that seems hard to attempt is using coupons. I realize you may be thinking, “How hard can it be?  You buy the paper, clip the coupons, then go shopping.” Well, we buy a great deal of produce and a lot of it is organic, based on the Dirty Dozen list published by the Environmental Working Group.  (By the way, for you iPhone users they have a handy little app.  It’s very handy!)  There are rarely coupons for produce.

Another scarcity in the organic shopper’s world is coupons for organic food.  They’re usually only available at individual company websites, in magazines or specialty stores.  You won’t find an abundance of organic food coupons in the Sunday paper, at least not in my area.

So, what’s a financially-conscious, frugally-minded woman to do?!  Come back tomorrow and I’ll share how I plan to tackle the challenge of spending less on food.

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