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Several weeks ago, I wrote this guest post for Romance on a Dime.  I thought I would share it with you today.

Hi!  I’m Sharon, and I blog at mrshinesclass.com

I really enjoy following Romance on a Dime and soI  jumped at the opportunity to guest post for Betsy.   Romance on a Dime is chock full of great tips, tutorials and ideas, and I really admire her ability to stretch her dollars and make their hard earned money count. She even makes living on a budget look fun! Betsy’s going to be a tough act to follow, but I’ll try. 😉

When my husband and I first got married, he was still in school working on his master’s degree, and I was teaching.  The budget was very tight.  Then, it grew even tighter when I quit teaching to stay home with our daughter.  By this time, Mr. Hines had earned his Master’s Degree and had three months to find a job.  Thankfully, he did find one before time was up.

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 Our small budget was divided up into cash envelopes for each category.  Going out to movies, eating at restaurants and shopping were luxuries we really couldn’t afford.  We had a clothes budget of $30 a month for our family of three.  It was a treat to scrounge up our change and go to McDonalds for .99 cheeseburgers on date night.  Most of my home decor purchases were made with gift cards.  But, we never went without.

When our only car broke down for the last time, there was no way we could afford to get another car; even used.  So, we were down on our knees praying.  Lo and behold, someone from the church we attended at the time  heard about our need and GAVE us the Ford Explorer that had been sitting idly in their driveway.

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We lived on a strict budget for several years.  After we paid our bills with my husbands paychecks, we would only have about $10 left til next payday.  We were getting by with the money that trickled in from guitar lessons, tutoring and anonymous monetary gifts that would arrive in the mail.   It wasn’t until I returned to teaching full-time that we felt some financial relief.  More than that, I felt like we had struck oil!  We hadn’t come anywhere near, of course, but our double income was a lot of money to us.

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I remember that it took me awhile to get used to having discretionary money, but I eventually got used to being able buy something just because I wanted it.  I loved not thinking about our checkbook balance dwindling every time I made a purchase.  BUT, I resigned at the end of that school year.  Our financial freedom was in danger.

Ever since then, we’ve been through financial ups and downs.  We are currently a single income family, and I’m learning how to be frugal again, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll take a tight budget over extra money any day.  I actually enjoy the challenge of living frugally.

Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way on making your budget work:

1) cut unnecessary expenses- In my experience, I haven’t even missed those extras

2) shop sales and use coupons

3) live within your means

4) repurpose, reuse and upcycle

5) cut the credit cards and work on eliminating debt

6) pay with cash

We’ve reduced our monthly expenses by several hundred dollars just by following these steps!   How do you cut costs and save money?

Thanks so much for letting me share my story and these tips with you today!

Until next time,

Sharon

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