Done Living Paycheck to Paycheck? It’s Up to Us!

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Vonnie and I had made quick work of reviewing and revising our spending plan for the remainder of the month, so we started work on our finances for the first half of November.

“I think we should put something in savings,” she said.

I was caught off guard and surprised when Vonnie said these words. Not because she said them, but because I knew it was possible.

For so many years, it has been so different. We’ve been living paycheck to paycheck for our entire marriage, and up until we enrolled in our debt management plan we supplemented our income with credit cards.  Living the concept of “Pay yourself first,” and putting money into the savings account that has been stuck for years at a balance of 25 cents has been unthinkable.

 Until now.

With significant cuts in our monthly expenses over the last three years, and both of us now receiving additional income from new opportunities, the funds left over after paying all our bills was a number that we have never seen. I started to think about what this meant for our family.

Upcoming expenses like new brakes for our van, winter gear for our kids, and gifts for the upcoming holiday season will not cause the financial mini-crisis that they have in the past.  We could start putting money away for a family vacation, or increase our contribution to our 401K.

IF we can control our spending, and stay on track financially.

It’s really up to us, and whether we can successfully manage our finances.  We hold our fate securely in our own hands.  I can barely believe that we are in this position given the issues we had just a few short months ago. I started to wonder if my eyes and ears were deceiving me.  I needed someone to pinch me to make sure this is real.

“How much do you think?” Vonnie asked.


“Hey! Are you listening to me?” she said, obviously irritated.

“I’m sorry,” I finally responded. “Can you say that again?”

About Travis

34 Responses to “Done Living Paycheck to Paycheck? It’s Up to Us!”

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  1. Catherine says:

    Such a good feeling! Congrats on you guys making such huge progress!

    • Travis says:

      It’s awesome to know we’re on the right path – saving money for an emergency fund, and for the future – new concepts for us, but feels so great!

  2. If you could turn things around in only a few months, think of what you can do with a few years. I’m expecting enormous progress in savings from you Travis 🙂

    • Travis says:

      We have high expectations for ourselves as well, Veronica! My friend, and the original Enemy of Debt – Brad Chaffee – always talks about how being debt free makes you free. Completing our debt management program in 18 months will allow us to save even more – and at that point the sky is really the limit. I can finally see what he’s been talking about!

  3. Congrats! This is a very exciting time. I wish you guys the best-you’re an inspiration 🙂

  4. Travis,

    I can fully agree with you about living paycheck to paycheck.. it’s horrible. While I am still in college that has been part of my life for.. well.. a long time.

    It’s good to hear that you are actually able to SAVE some money. My car is almost paid off and I can’t wait to start pocketing the extra 330 every month!!!

    • Travis says:

      We’re at the same place with one of our cars as well. In 6 months we’ll make the last payment on our car, and then for the first time *EVER* we won’t have a car payment. We’re looking forward to that day….and to making our cars last as long as possible. More to add to our savings each month – YEAH! Congrats on almost having your car paid off as well!

  5. Way to go Travis and Vonnie! An emergency nest egg will take a lot of stress away if an emergency comes your way. I’m with Veronica, just think where you’ll be in a few years!

    • Travis says:

      I’m truly excited to have that nest egg, Mandy……so that when (because they will happen) unexpected things pop up, it’ll be no big deal, other than creating an urge to build the nest egg back up. 🙂

  6. Congratulations! It really is “up to us” to decide if we want to live pay to pay or move forward. Some people aren’t willing to give up things like IPhones, Video Games, extra activities, partying, shopping etc and spend more than they earn each month using a line of credit or credit card. Until people take a step back and invest in themselves and make that “up to us” decision it will be just that.. stay the course or make a move and take a different path. Keep up the good work! Mr.CBB

    • Travis says:

      Great point, Mr. CBB – and one that I’ve been pondering. We have the MEANS to build up our savings and not live paycheck to paycheck….but it’s not going to happen by itself. We have to choose to put money into that savings account vs. spending it. I want to be selfish with my money, and have that nest egg. I keep saying nest egg…Mandy (comment above), it’s all YOUR fault. HAHA!

  7. Kathy says:

    Congratulations Travis!
    What a great feeling!

    I started mailing in my paycheck (yes, my boss STILL won’t do autopay…long story) to my savings account (my credit union isn’t near my work or home AND I absolutely cannot stand to go to the bank), then I transfer the amount to pay my bills and a little extra from savings to checking. It’s a system I started doing about 6-8 months ago & it’s really working for me. That way I’m paying myself (putting $$ in my savings).

    I know that when I look at my balance in my account when I’m nearing payday and it’s more than I ‘thought’ was in there….it sure makes me happy. It means that I’m spending less.

    • Travis says:

      As long as you have a system that works, keep doing it right Kathy? It certainly sounds like you’re doing all the right things – nice work! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  8. Money in the bank eases a lot tension in the house. Awesome on paying down debt!

    • Travis says:

      I LOVE watching our balances go down each month….to be able to watch credit card balances go down, AND watch our savings balance go UP is going to be SWEET! You’re absolutely right – being able to handle emergencies takes the #1 reason for fights between couples out of the equation. Great to hear from you as always, Brent!

  9. Congrats Travis. I was in a similar situation back in 2008 my wife and I were living on a very tight budget and went to bed most nights wondering how we were going to get all of our bills paid. Then one day we made the decision that we wanted to stop living like that and we started looking for anyway possible to save money and get at least a $1000 in are savings account for emergencies.

    We cut expenses anyway we could, I looked for new ways to earn a buck, in fact that how I ended up starting my own personal finance blog helping people avoid financial mistakes, and finally I also sold anything I didn’t need including my snowmobile which I ended up getting $800 for.

    From that point on once we made the decision to be savers instead of spenders our lives changed for the better forever.

    • Travis says:

      Good for you, Chris! We’ve done periodic reviews of our expenses over the last few years, cutting things out of our monthly expenditures each time. Within the last few months we’ve created a dramatic increase in our income too…..beginning to save money out of each and every pay period seems like the next logical step – and I truly believe that, like you, our lives will be changed for the better forever.

      Thanks for sharing your story, Chris, and congratulations!

  10. That’s awesome! I remember living paycheck to paycheck and never want to go back. I completely agree that it’s up to us. If we see that all the “things” we may want only detract us from saving and managing money wisely then that is a huge step down the path. After time, those wise choices and discipline can work together to bring powerful results.

    • Travis says:

      Wise choices and discipline working together… it, John! I believe it will be a self-reinforcing behavior too. Being disciplined and making good choices will allow us to save. Saving will at some point allow us to do something that we would have never been able to do without the money in savings – which will make us want to save even more. Looking forward to that!

  11. Cassi says:

    That is exciting! It is really cool to realize that you can do something that before seemed impossible. Keep up the good work!

    • Travis says:

      That’s true, Cassi – if you would have told me we’d be communicating like this and able to save money even just a few short months ago……I would have thought you were crazy. But here we are!

  12. Fantastic post! I love hearing normal, everyday people, sharing their story of how it is absolutely possible to get out of debt! It’s all in the choices you make!
    Thanks so much for sharing, and congrats:)

    • Travis says:

      I agree, It’s all about choices….we were making all the wrong choices. We’re not perfect, but increasingly we’re making the RIGHT decisions and it’s paying off – thanks for reading!

  13. Cait says:

    I love how this post (along with most of your writing) shows how the shortest of moments can make us realize how far we’ve come along in our progress. So excited for you and Vonnie, Travis 🙂

    • Travis says:

      I’m glad you find a positive message from my posts…..that’s certainly my goal in writing them! We have definitely come a long way in our progress – I deposited money into our savings account yesterday – and I’ll be doing it again this week!

  14. Each goal convinces you that it is achievable to ask for just a little more. Next thing you know you are kicking Butt!. Way to go Travis.

    • Travis says:

      I’m hoping it more than convinces me, Derek, I’m hoping I get addicted to continuously trying for just a little bit more. I just checked out your website, and what a great success story you have – I can’t wait to read more!

  15. Wow, congratulations Travis and Vonnie! You’ve both worked so hard to reach this position. I’m super proud of you and excited that good things are happening for you ….

    • Travis says:

      Thanks so much, Paula! Great things are headed our way if we just keep our heads on straight…..gotta love having your destiny firmly under your own control!

  16. joe brookstone says:

    great story and a reminder to everyone that people should think this way as soon as they start working. High schools and colleges should be teaching money management so that MOST students who pay attention will be ahead of the game when they get into the real world. There is nothing worse than living paycheck to paycheck. It is depressing and stressful. You work too hard to be in that position, so it is great that you guys have turned the corner.

    • Travis says:

      I agree that high schools and colleges should be teaching money management… just blows my mind that they don’t. It also blows my mind that you walk onto any college campus and you see credit card companies enticing young people that haven’t had that education to get credit cards! Thanks for the well wishes, Joe – we’re excited to have turned that corner too!

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