How One Couple Stopped Living Paycheck to Paycheck
I'm so excited to feature my friend Alyssa on today's How They Did It. Alyssa works fulltime as a communications professional to support her family, and part-time on one of my favorite frugal living blogs, Aly and Bee, which is where her true passion lives. Alyssa has been debt free her whole life but found herself living paycheck to paycheck. Read on to learn how she and her husband transformed their finances to achieve financial peace.
This post may contain affiliate links which help keep this blog running. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
Tell me a little about yourself and background.
To start, I’m a wife and dog mom, and might as well be the CFO of our little family. I’m also currently the sole income provider for our family and will continue to be for the next 3 years while my husband is in grad school.
What has your relationship with money been like as a young adult?
Aside from the very recent acquisition of my husband’s student loans, we are otherwise consumer debt free (no credit card payments, no car payments, no home loans, etc.). I have actually been debt free my entire life. It’s been a huge blessing.
I’ve actually always been very frugal and careful with money, so I’m not necessarily seeking “financial freedom” so much as I am seeking financial empowerment and peace.
Editor's note: If you have student loans and would like to learn how you could potentially lower your monthly payments and save thousands of dollars in interest, then take this free 3-minute questionnaire or click the banner below.
What was your AHA moment that made you want to seek financial peace?
My AHA moment came when my husband and I finally realized we have the power to say “enough is enough” to our financial situation.
For the first four years of our relationship, we lived in an extremely expensive area and were both terribly underpaid. Our basic living expenses were astronomical and we really struggled to save money. We were literally working just to pay our rent and utilities. As a result, we were practically living paycheck to paycheck.
After four years of living like this and feeling as though we were never going to be able to save money or get ahead financially, we finally said “enough is enough.” I accepted a job offer in a new city, my husband was accepted to graduate school and we moved.
It’s been seven months since we made that decision. In that short amount of time we’ve been able to more than double our savings account and we’re no longer living paycheck to paycheck. We’re actually discussing investment opportunities now! One year ago we would have never thought that possible.
What are 5 specific steps you've taken to completely TRANSFORM YOUR FINANCES?
There are five things we did that made a HUGE difference for us financially.
- Cutting the cable cord. Instead of watching cable, we added streaming apps to my husband’s gaming console, like Hulu, Amazon Video and Netflix. We can watch just about all the same shows as we did before, plus we have access to original shows which in my opinion are even better than those on TV. This has saved us $100 per month.
- Eating lunch at home. My husband no longer has to buy his lunch every day which has saved on average $350 per month.
- Making my own coffee. I was spending about $3.75 for a second cup, every single work day. This added up to $75 per month!
- Selling an asset. We sold my husband's work truck and are now saving $90/month on insurance, and about $240/month in diesel.
- Moving to a more affordable city. By moving a less expensive city, we now save $280/month in rent and utilities, it costs us about $40 on average to eat out (compared to $100 a week before), so we save about $240/month on eating out. In addition, our quality of life has significantly improved because we can actually afford to do things we enjoy.
In all, we are saving over $1300 per month by making these changes. For more details on each of the ways we save per month, please see recent blog post.
How do you stay motivated?
It would be so easy for me to say “screw it” to one paycheck’s savings contribution, and use that to splurge on a spa appointment instead. Sometimes this is so tempting. So I really try to focus on the big picture. Do I want the ability to retire comfortably? Absolutely - 6% of my paycheck automatically goes toward my retirement account so I don’t even consider it income. Do I want to be able to buy a house in the next few years? You bet. Do I want to live debt free and not worry about paying for something later just because I wanted it now? Yes.
What's been the hardest part of your journey?
I’m so impatient! I don’t necessarily want instant financial gratification, but I definitely want to see larger numbers more quickly. I sometimes wonder if I should go into day trading or something. Kidding!
What book are you reading currently?
I’m more of an avid podcast listener than I am a book reader right now. They’re so easy to listen to as I’m getting ready in the morning, on my way to work or at the gym.
I have a few faves, but my absolute favorite personal finance podcast is So Money with Farnoosh Torabi. I’ve learned so much just from listening to her interviews.
To check out my other favorite podcasts, please see my blog post here.
Any advice to the readers?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that I’m not alone in my financial journey. There’s an entire community out there of people who are all seeking some sort of financial freedom, and they want to support each other! Wherever you are in your journey, take advantage of the resources, blogs, social media groups. Follow the big time influencers in personal finance and the little ones who are up and coming. There’s so much encouragement out there and so many good tips and tools at your disposal.
Thanks so much, Alyssa for taking the time to share more of your story! You can find Alyssa on her blog AlyandBee.com, on Facebook or on Instagram @alyandbee!
Related articles you may enjoy:
- 5 debt payoff strategies
- 10 side hustles to boost your income
- How to create a budget you can actually stick to
- 21 ways we saved in 2016
Other KimGaleta.com interviews: