Classy Frugality

Making the most of life while living on a budget

Month: October 2014

Finally Free!

One day, I look forward to sharing the news of being debt-free.

Today is not that day.

However, I wanted to share the story of another person whose life has been changed forever, and how her story affects us.

Like most of you know, when Fred and I were first married and recently graduated, we had over $90,000 in debt – the bulk of which was student loans, and a line of credit used to help pay for school and our vehicle.  When we started paying off our debt after that lovely six-month grace period, we were not paying on the line of credit that Fred and his grandma had taken out.

We were making ends meet, making minimum payments on several loans, and then we started feeling guilty.

Fred’s grandma was paying this line of credit off for us (the balance was around $27,000), and we knew that we needed to help. So about 2.5 years ago, we started making double payments with grandma, and we started seeing some progress.Debt thermometer

In February of this year, the balance was at $16,728. We started envisioning paying this off by the end of the year, so that grandma could enjoy as much time of the rest of her life being debt-free.

We started putting big chunks of money on this debt as much as we could. To keep us motivated so we could see how much progress we had made, I made a thermometer that I kept on the fridge that marked our progress.

You can probably guess the end of the story – we paid it off on October 3. It felt like such a huge burden being lifted – $27,000 that we didn’t owe anyone, and the end of a large monthly payment. We were so excited!

To celebrate, we took Grandma out for a nice meal. We splurged and went to The Keg (a fancy steakhouse, for those of you in America who aren’t familiar with it), where we each got a steak and ordered dessert.

(Sidenote: Each person getting their own meal sounds normal to most people, but usually Fred and I split a meal and only sometimes order dessert. This felt decadent. We spent over $100 on one meal – something we have never done before!)  

photo 2 (1)

At The Keg with Grandma

As we talked and celebrated over dinner, we asked Grandma how she felt now that she was debt-free. She said, “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in debt.”

This was a moment I will always remember – someone’s life being changed by finally being released from the chains of debt.

We joked with her about getting another loan or having a balance on her credit card, and she just chuckled and said “No, I’ll never borrow money again.” 

Even though she is 91 years old, we know that her choices have changed the rest of her life, and will change her family tree (as Dave Ramsey often says).

BMO Bank of Montreal Online Banking cropped

What Grandma’s online banking says now that she had paid this loan off!

We still have $43,000 left to pay off, but we are are thrilled that we are past the halfway mark.

4 out of 6 of our debts are GONE.

We are working hard to pay off the remaining ones as quickly as possible. We want our chains to be broken too!

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Cook Like A Mom

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get overwhelmed trying to make dinner look like a Pinterest post.

I really like Pinterest – don’t get me wrong. I love getting new ideas and seeing all of the clever DIY ideas, but I know that with our grocery budget, we value cost and health over beauty.

Growing up, my mom always made simple dinners that were delicious, healthy and cost-effective. I thought that once I started making my own meals, I could follow this example and it would be the best way to go.

That’s when I realized that not everyone cooks like my mom.Photo 2014-06-25, 6 15 35 PM

Simple casseroles, crockpot meals, and family-style dishes are all well and good, but they are certainly not very “trendy” right now. Right now it’s trendy to have tasty and creative meals that are a step below gourmet, whether or not you’re on a budget.

When I cook meals, I think about how much it costs and how many leftovers it will make. I usually never make a meal that only has 2 servings. We don’t have the time to make small meals that don’t also function as lunch for the next day.

Now that my husband and I are both working full-time (a first for us in our marriage), we need to make simple, nutritious dinners that taste good and allow us to have left-overs that are necessary to keep ourselves on budget.

My “secret” is to to make large portions and then put them into individual portions so they are all ready to go for the next day. I don’t know if you can relate, but I am often in a rush in the mornings and need to be able to throw together a lunch quickly. Having your leftovers in ready-to-go portions saves time and effort in the morning.

So that’s my secret to share with you today.

Photo 2014-06-25, 6 16 02 PMHere it is in just three easy steps:

1. Don’t try to make your meals look perfect.

2. Make large, simple meals with several portions.

3. Put in individual containers for an easy left-over.

Bing, bang, boom. A simple way to make your life (and your budget) easier!

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