Through out the 10 years that Tom and I have been married there have been quite a few times that we were at the bottom of the totem pole.
We got pregnant before we were married, we lived in 1 room in my parents house until McKenzie was 11 months old. (6 months of that time it was just McKenzie and I since Tom was at basic training) and during that time we were broker then broke. We made less then $1000 a month, we got WIC (Thank God or McKenzie would not have had formula), we used coupons and made it so we spent $100 a month on our groceries, we paid $400 a month for rent, $100 a month for our cell phones, we had 1 car that thankfully we did not have a car payment for, our car insurance was $100 a month, leaving us less then $300 a month to cover gas (which tom needed to drive to and from work, and school), pay for the clothing that McKenzie needed, diapers (which at that time I had not figured out how to get them crazy cheap), cover things like car repairs, Toms school supplies and anything else we needed.
We shopped yardsales, thrift stores, ate hamburger and tuna helper more then I like to admit and made it work. It was hard, and it sucked but we made it through.
Tom left for basic training and it was a 6 week period where we had to wait until a paycheck would show up and we just hoped we had put enough aside the few months previous to make it through.
Things got better when Tom was active duty, things were still tight. At one point I had a night job at Wendy’s, then I was in school fulltime. We had two more babies and I used coupons, shopped thrift stores and we stretched what we had. Which was not much more then we had before, but we had our rent covered and a house of our own. We trash picked furniture and had a house filled with unmatching furniture.
Tom got injured when he had been deployed and that led to him leaving the military, and back to living with my parents and trying to survive on unemployment. Thankfully we stuck to what we knew, I had built up a stockpile to make sure we could get by with out living on tuna helper again, I started this blog and put my heart and soul into it.
Finally almost a year after we moved back into my parents we were able to move out. We found a house, it was small and not in an area we wanted to be in but it was our house. Tom found a job and then we moved again to Cherry Hill NJ, which was our goal place when we were active duty.
In April 2014 we bought our first house, a house of our own. (Which involved a move to Pennsylvania) and while we have a budget, it was our motivation and support of one another that got us to here, where we could finally after being married for almost 10 years buy a house of our own. It was also the first time in our marriage that we had a brand new couch, brand new kitchen table and a brand new entertainment center (which are also still the only 3 pieces of furniture we have in our house that were bought brand new). Up until that point every piece of furniture we had came from trash picking or yardsales. And yes much of that stuff is still in our house now. Our bedroom set came off the curb (beautiful pieces too), our kids back yard toys off the curb, the kids bedroom sets were hand me downs or found at thrift stores or like McKenzie’e mine when I was a kid.
We hit the bottom two times in the 10 years that we have been married, 2 times when income wasn’t enough to cover our expenses and we just hoped that things would work out.
I spent many nights with a calculator and paper totaling numbers to see if the money we had was going to be enough. There were times I took odd jobs like cleaning people’s houses just so we could make it and I have built this blog by spending sometimes up to 80 hours a week working on it. I am thankful that we have never had to file bankruptcy, or lost a house (we always rented because it was not in the budget for closing costs until we bought this house after saving for what felt like forever), or had a car reposed, however there were times when I had to call the bill company and ask them to push back our payments so it was not late. We lived paycheck to paycheck with a bit more wiggle room and now things are better, we haven’t had a time in a few years now that the income was less then the bills we still live like we are paycheck to paycheck and keep our budget that way because for us we are used to a tight budget, but now living on a tight budget gives us the ability to not stress like we did before. Now we live on the tight budget we have made because we want to not because we have to.
When life has you at the bottom you can feel like there is nothing left, that you are always going to struggle, always going to be sitting at the kitchen table (that was trash picked) counting and looking at the bank account. If this is you please know that there is only UP to go, when you are at the bottom the only way to go is up and you can do it! Think outside the box, think of what your talents are and use those to motivate yourself.
No matter when you hit the bottom and if it feels like you are stuck I believe you can make it, Tom and I did and while it also means little sleep (even now) it feels so much better to not have to count the change in my car to see if it will make it so I can fill up my van. And when you get off the bottom stick to what you know, budget your money, use coupons, shop second hand and you will be even more relaxed because you know that you can make it even when you think you can’t.
Your challenges in life are going to be what help you be successful!