I like many of you live paycheck to paycheck. Shut off notices were treated as " pay by" dates. Some weeks I would be broke before the money even hit my account. I was always paying extra for late fees. Then last January I decided to change our financial life. I'd like to share what I did with those of you that are struggling.
First off, I sat down and collected every bill that comes through our house. I printed up a calendar and marked the due dates of all of our bills and the average amount of each bill. This gave me a clear visual of what bill got paid each payday.
I bought a binder with a clear cover to put my little calendar in. I mark the calendar with my bills due and a weekly meal plan. I also bought some little pocket dividers and as soon as I get a bill, I put it into the binder so I never lose a bill. Once they get paid, they get moved into the paid pocket. Every new season, I move all the paid bills into a file so that I can look over past bills should the need arise. I also store receipts in this binder as well as warranty information, important school papers for my kids, and our bank statements/ pay stubs.
Our pay is directly deposited every Friday so I designated Friday as bill, gas,grocery, general errand day. The first thing Ido on Friday morning is go online and move 1/4 of my rent payment into my savings account. This happens No. Matter. What. Then I look to see what bills are on the calendar and pay them online. No excuses.
I also decided that since I was taking real responsibility for our financial health, I would also meal plan and keep a grocery list so all through the week, if we are running low on anything, I put it on the list. Thursday is the day I sit down and decide on our dinners for the next week. Doing this saved us at least 25-35% on our food bill!
While I am out at the store I gas up the car and do anything else that needs to be done so that I am saving gas by limiting my trips out per week.
After I'm finished with all of this I total up my receipts and bills paid. I check my bank balance and whatever is left over I split 50-50 with my savings and checking account. This allows me to have something for us to spend on a small necessity that may pop up or even fun money. Some weeks I have 50 left over, some weeks I have nothing. It all works out in the end, though because once bills, rent, gas, and food are paid for, it doesn't matter if I'm broke. So long as the necessities are taken care of.
Now what does eic have to do with any of this? Eic gave me enough money to get us current with our bills. I did not pay ahead because I'd rather hold what was left over in MY savings account. I was able to hold that money until an unforeseen emergency came up in August and I was faced with having to live out of town for a week while my child was in a hospital 125 miles from home and then finding out we had to move out of our rental because it had been out up for sale within the same week. I was thanking God I had that cash in the bank.
I know this was a long read and I thank you for your time. I truly hope this can help someone out there. I knew that once I really got our finances under control, my stress levels would drop. And they did.