How I Learned to Live Within My Means — Fiscally Frugal Fridays

I have started this post more times than I can remember over the past 9 monthes. About a year and a half ago I realized that I couldn’t move forward financially unless I had a plan. And not one of the airy-fairy plans — something that was tangible that I could follow!

In the same manner that I know all about diet and exercise but it took me a long time to apply them, the same could be said about finances. Not surprisingly, with my love of reality tv I had been watching “‘Til Debt Do Us Part” for years and I thought that the system developed by Gail Vax-Oxlade made a huge amount of sense.

And yet I’d never tried using it.

Though the reasons are irrelevant I must admit the primary reason for never applying these principles were that I didn’t want to have to set financial limits. I mean, you only live once, right?

Until I stopped.

And really thought about what was the bigger priority — the ability to spend money on a whim or the security that came with financial freedom for years to come.

And recognized nothing would change until I took what I knew and applied it!

full mailbox

The first thing that I did was sit down and write down all monthly expenses. From housing costs to electricity, internet and cable costs. I wrote everything down. And, I have to admit, the costs were higher than I’d ever realized when it was put together! I knew some changes had to be made in this area but I wanted to ensure I had looked at the big picture first.

Next it was a matter of looking at bank transactions to see where money was being spent every month. From gas and chocolate bars at the local convenience store to clothing, gifts and car tuneups, they needed to be included.

I heart Gail!

I heart Gail!

Now what was I going to do with all of this information? That’s where my mentor (though she has no idea she is one!) Gail Vax-Oxlade came into it! I figured that she must have a website and I was right! Her site, Gail Vax-Oxlade: Debt-Free Forever was (and still is!) a wealth of information!

I took what I’d already been looking at and used the Gail’s 12 Steps to Getting Organized Financially to get everything together.

From there, I used the online resource to Build a Budget that Works.

At this point I was able to do 2 things. I could see where money was being spent on fixed expenses as well as variable expenses. Then it was a matter of seeing what could be pared back.

The over-the-top cable plan? That got reduced and saved over $500 each year!

How could I cut down on transportation costs in my commute to work? I started to carpool!

I wanted to cut down on groceries so I started using coupons even more (and even trading them with others, but I’ll talk about that in a few weeks)!

Next I literally went out and got some jars and started on the jar program! While there is no physical budget binder, there is an electronic one where things are tracked.

I have been astounded how much doing these things have made a difference! I know you often watch things on tv and think they’ve been exaggerated for effect. In the case of Gail Vax-Oxlade’s financial program, I can tell you that it can work!

Has it been easy? Sometimes it has and other times it’s been really hard!


Is it worth it? Without a shadow of a doubt!

Next week: How to save money without even noticing!

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10 Responses to How I Learned to Live Within My Means — Fiscally Frugal Fridays

  1. photomum says:

    I agree–Last week I bought a spiral ham for $17.00
    Ham and scalloped potatoes for dinner 2 nights in a row
    Ham caserole ,made with rice,leeks and green peppers topped with cheese and cornflakes
    Ham and mozzarella cheese pressed sandwiches
    Ham and potato soup chowder
    And today the bone was boiled for pea and ham soup!–a very thrify and delicious week!
    Plan your menu with what is on sale,use the coupons ,it all helps.

    • That is amazing! My favourite is when you scope out the sales and then use a coupon too for even more savings!

      • Ira says:

        I love coupons and the wisdom of Gail Vax-Oxlade. One of my friends could not believe me when I told her that I mostly use my coupons when items are on sale to get the best value and try things that I would’ve never bought otherwise. She thought that coupons can be used on the regular priced items only!

  2. Soozle says:

    GREAT tips!

    One of the things that really helped me to quit smoking was to actually look at my receipts and SEE how much money I was spending in a month on a bad habit…

    It’s a real eye opener to actually look at an average month and see where your money is going. It’s rather easy to see where you can cut costs that way.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Elva Roberts says:

    March 30-Thank you so much for starting this :Live with in our means’ posts. I did not know that coupons are accepted on sale items. I would love to know more about couponing. I can;t wait for your posts on this subject.l-el03ro

  4. Cheryl Grandy says:

    I found that getting an honest look at how I spend can really show where my money is going and help me decide what is important and what is leading me away from my goals. Little bits add up to big bits that can instead be spent on something that will be a real benefit to me and my family. Like you, I found I was spending a lot on cable TV. I cut back a bit and haven’t missed the extra channels.

  5. Florence C says:

    I am one of those people who find it hard to buy something if it is not on sale. I look at the flyers for the supermarket with the best deals weekly. I use coupons now and than and also when items are on sale. This is passed down from my mother and i can’t seem to shake it. You need to be a good financial manager to survive.

  6. We have to really get a hold of our financial situation! I’m really looking forward to reading this series. I use coupons (when I can) and I price match so I’m not driving all over the city to get the best price. We’re a family of 6 trying to live on $600 a month in groceries. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep that up, my boys are only 1,3 and 6 and already they eat constantly! Can you do Gail’s method without buying her book as well?

    • Hi Tabitha! You can definitely do Gail’s method without buying her book — I have never read her books (though I’m guessing they are really good). I just followed the basic outline that I saw on her tv series ‘Til Debt Do Us Part and then supplemented with the information on her website — the links I’ve posted include all free info.

      Tomorrow’s topic is going to be about SCOP and how you can use that to save or augment your budget!

  7. Anne Taylor says:

    I really love “Til Debt do us Part” I’ve learned alot watching that show! We always watch for sales and use coupons whenever possible; its really a necessity for us!

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