When my husband and I took the long 16 hour drive to Denver, we had a lot of time on our hands, so we listened to Dave Ramsey’s newly revised Financial Peace University.  (If you haven’t entered to win the Financial Peace University kit I am giving away, go here to enter.) On the ride home, we discussed how to ramp up our debt payoff and how we could make our budget fit our income when we also included all of our annual and semi-annual expenses.

It was a challenge, that is for sure.

Then, last week I found out that I had some health issues and in addition to following a very strict diet, I also needed to reduce the stress in my life.

Let me tell you, for the last year, I have been a stress monster.  I have been getting up at 5 a.m. to do some of my work, but now that my nearly 4 year old is napping for only 45 minutes (and I think that nap will disappear soon), I had very little time to work during the day.  I would begin my freelance work again at about 7:30 p.m.  I went to bed late and only slept about 5 to 6 hours a night.  I was exhausted, and I felt crummy.

Ironically, the changes I need to reduce my stress and take care of my health are also the changes that we need to make to  increase our debt repayment plan.

Difficult Financial Decisions to Make

Keep My Son Out of Dance This Year

My son has taken tap dance for 3.5 years, since he was 4.5 years old.  This summer he took hip hop and loved it.  I really want to encourage him to continue, but at this time, we have decided to take the year off so more money can go toward debt.  It simply didn’t fit in our budget when we added in our semi-annual and annual expenses.  Hopefully, next summer he can go again when we have more debt paid off.

Pull Our Middle Child Out of Japanese School

I cannot tell you how hard this decision was to make.  My husband and I talked several times about this and knew it was what we needed to do, but we put it off.  Once I learned that I had to reduce my stress, our decision was made.


Even though my middle child is off to Japanese school every morning, I am still home with the youngest who is a mommy’s girl.  That left me no time to work, and we couldn’t afford to both pay for a babysitter for our youngest and Japanese school for our middle child.  September 28th will be our daughter’s last day at Japanese school.  Hard decision!

Things We Are Doing to Reduce My Stress

Hire a Babysitter

We have the maximum amount possible ($5,000) a year pulled out of my husband’s paycheck as flexible spending money to apply toward child care.  Now that we will no longer be paying for Japanese school, that money is freed up for me to hire a babysitter.  I am interviewing this week, and once I have found one, she will be coming in two mornings a week to watch both girls so I can have time to work AND still get a good night’s sleep.

Hire a Mother’s Helper

This wasn’t my idea but my husband’s; however, I have to say it is a good one.  Right now, I cook all of our meals from scratch because of our dairy and soy intolerances.  This has become even more time consuming now that I am on the anti-yeast diet.

I try to clean up the mess when I am done, but the kids are usually out of patience by the time I finish cooking dinner.  That leaves my husband to clean up the mess in the evening while I work.  While he didn’t have any problem with it, he recently got a new fellowship (which means a pay raise, yeah!), and as part of the fellowship, he is going to get a second Masters.  His evenings should be spent studying, not cleaning.  The mother’s helper will come in twice a week to assist with the kids and clean up.  I’ll try to limit my cooking (and therefore, the mess) to those two days and the weekend.

Easier Financial Decisions to Be Made

Cut the Cable

Now that I am so busy with work, I hardly watch cable, and I was the only one who watched it anyway.  We already had the most basic cable, but if I cut that, we can save about $20 a month.  Thanks to Swagbucks, I have a $100 Amazon gift card, and I am going to use some of that money to buy a digital converter box so we can watch basic TV without paying for cable.

Buy Our Own Modem

We rent the modem from our cable company, which costs $7 a month.  We are also going to buy our own so we don’t have to pay that rental fee anymore.

Another Way to Right Our Financial Situations–Increase My Income

My husband’s income has doubled since last year, which is great, but he was making poverty wages before, so he is just now reaching a reasonable wage.  He likely won’t have any substantial raises for the next two years while he is in this fellowship program.

That means if our income is to increase (and it needs to), my income needs to increase.  Hiring a babysitter should help.  I have also spent some of my business income to have a one-on-one coaching session with a successful writer.  I am hoping she can help lead me in the right direction to get higher paying writing jobs.  I’ll keep you posted if it turns out to be beneficial.

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