Six years ago Mark and I were in a very hard financial place. At that time in our life we were living in a custom 3,200 square foot home in a beautiful suburban neighborhood. It was the type of neighborhood where everyone knew each other, the kids could play in the streets without traffic – it was an all American neighborhood. We looked like we had it all – two nice cars in the driveway and a large house to boot. We were in over $40,000 worth of debt and underwater in our mortgage, we owed $30,000 more on the house than what it was worth – we needed a way out of debt. The main problem was that we couldn't sell our house at that time because we owed more to the bank than what we could sell it for – so we were stuck.
That is when I started to learn how to coupon and meal plan. I learned how to cut our grocery bill down from $1,000 per month to $200 per month. We didn't see much success in getting our debt down, but at least we could start surviving on cash instead of charging everything to the credit card. Right after I had our second baby Hannah, Mark's employment situation became uncertain as his employer was acquired by another firm. Coincidentally, we got a phone call the next day from his old boss asking him to come back to work for him. It was an easy decision.
We decided to pack up our 3,200 square foot home and move back to our home state of New York and we were able to (thankfully) qualify for a short sale of our home. We were homeless for about two months, living with family members until we decided what we wanted to do with our living situation.
If you're keeping score, here was our situation – we had two kids, over $40,000 worth of debt, and were living out of suitcases with the rest of our stuff in storage. Not ideal.
But I gotta tell you, life became much easier without the huge burden of a mortgage payment we couldn't afford, and I couldn't help but think to myself. What if I had stopped clipping coupons and just sold our house? I had worked SO hard, sometimes 20 hours per week, to coupon and meal plan that I was driving myself crazy. The mortgage payments were too much and just to be able to eat, I had to spend 20 hour per week couponing. Yes, I enjoyed couponing sometimes and the thrill of a deal, but it was a LOT of work.
We finally decided to rent a small 800 square foot townhouse. It was so small that I could stand in 2 places and see the entire house with the turn of my head. We kept our kitchen items in a shelf in the small 1 car garage. Our dishwasher was on wheels and had to be screwed into the kitchen sink to work. We couldn't open the refrigerator when we were eating dinner because there was not enough room in our tiny eat in kitchen, it was just so small!
The sacrifice that we made moving from a 3,200 sq foot home into a 800 sq foot town home was an extreme measure that we took to get out of debt. When we moved into that town home we sold most of what we owned from the previous house. All of that beautiful furniture we bought to fill that huge house was now gone, no traces of it were to be seen except the lingering debt that remained unpaid.
This may be pretty crazy for me to say – because I have been running a Frugal Living website for the past six years – but I wish we had done things differently. I realized that continuing to live in that huge house I was still trying to pretend like everything was okay – but it wasn't. I wish we had sold that house and stopped trying to act the part, I wish I had stopped couponing and sold that house!
I want to know – what are some BOLD and extreme moves that you can do RIGHT NOW to change your financial situation? That don't have to be as extreme as ours was, but when will you get so sick and tired of being broke that you make some big changes to your financial future?