Guest Post DIY Debt

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 This is a guest post by Hannah of The Cheapskate Mom

husband and I are both newlyweds and new parents. We live in a one
bedroom apartment and between the two of us, we own two old cars (both
in need of different degrees of repair) and $32,000 in debt. For
right now, we are living on one income while I take care of our son.

Managing our new lives both as husband and wife and new parents is
difficult and rewarding. Managing our debt on top of it all sometimes
seems akin to climbing Mount Everest
: we want to get to the top, look
out, and see our debt-free lives ahead of us, and yet, the work to get
there is intense and we don’t have that much training in frugality… I
went from living by myself on my waitress income to two people living on
two incomes ( a restaurant manager and teacher) to now the three of us
living on my husband’s teaching salary. We are facing our debt now
because of our son – we want to make his life as peaceful and comfortable
as we possibly can.

Staying at home and not working while trying to get out of debt
started to drive me crazy. I kept thinking – I could be making X amount
of money right now
. I thought – If only I had lived differently in the
past…made different life choices
!  I was really beating myself up and
feeling down about our debt. One day though , we ran out of paper
towels. I did not want to spend the money on yet another 8 pack of paper
towels that we would end up using and throwing away as we really didn’t
have six dollars to just spend willy-nilly. Throwing away paper towels
became a metaphor for me : we were throwing out our money on convenience

I put on my thinking cap. While I have this time at home I
could work to save us money
. The more I thought about how much we relied
upon convenience items, and how much money we were spending on them,
the more motivated I became! I became completely in awe of how much my
generation mistakes convenience items as staples
: I could use rags
instead of paper towels…I could make my own pizza dough, grate my own
cheese, make my own sauce…I could make my own laundry detergent…I
could even make my own baby wipes (though I must admit I have not
stepped out on to the cloth diaper ledge….yet!).
This new way of thinking led me to really think about every single
purchase we make. Before we spend money now, I stop and say “Wait -do
we really need this?” and “Can we make it instead?”

I don’t rely
upon coupons to save money because I save money by not spending money.
have become much more focused on buying the raw ingredients for things
and making them myself. I am acquiring the skills and mental stamina
necessary to make it to the top of our mountain of debt. Making things
we use myself is a liberating feeling
– I don’t have to worry about
running out of laundry detergent because as long as I have borax and
fels naptha I can make more. If I want pizza, I can just whip up a dough
(I now have it down to a science). This diy thing is working for us –
we really are saving money. A lot of money. Changing the way we think
about spending money has changed our lives. I will never go back. 

Hannah is a restaurant manager, new mother and wife. She believes in
the power of bootstrapping and information to transform lives. Stay up
to date with Hannah’s DIY and frugal discoveries at The Cheapskate Mom: a blog magazine for surviving the recession with style.


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