Picture it: Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1997(ish). A beautiful young single mom is struggling, trying to make her way in the world and get through college and keep her young son fed and in preschool. Because she is so limited on time, she leans heavily on convenience foods and takeout. Unfortunately, she is also really poor and is bleeding money left and right on some bad financial decisions she made and the convenience food. Suddenly, Mr. Burt Reynolds shows up. Oh, sorry, that’s someone else entirely.
I mean, that’s me, it’s just that Mr. Burt Reynolds has never showed up in my life. There’s always time for that, though! 😉
Seriously, though, it all happened at once- I was broke, bill collectors calling constantly, hungry, in serious debt to literally everyone I knew and a bunch of other people I didn’t know. “Something has got to give,” I thought. Finally, I realized a person in my situation had no business having such a high car payment in addition to the other bills I had. And getting takeout every night was not only bad for my health but my son’s, as well.
The first thing I did was talk to my dad about what to do about my car payment. My credit was already ruined (I started out my adult life in debt- medical bills due to the birth of my son) and I could no longer manage the car payment, so I did a voluntary repossession on my car. I don’t know whether I can say I recommend this route for everyone, but for me it was definitely the best option at the time.
Once I cut out that major expense, I worked on the little ones that were nickel and diming me to death. Prior to the epiphany, I’d stop for a coke every morning before school. After the epiphany, I bought my own cokes and brought one from home. (Yeah, I know water is more healthful and is free, but baby steps, man, baby steps.) I made a goal to eat at home 4 nights a week. I learned 4 simple, inexpensive no-fail recipes from my mom and made those 4 tired dishes repeatedly. But at least we were eating at home more.
Tell me, Home Eccers, when did you have your tightwad epiphany, or have you been a frugal maven (or dude) all your life?