A blog about the grief after losing a child to Niemann Pick, Type C, a rare disease, and how I'm moving forward with my life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Is your life happy and successful?

This post is part of the New American Dream Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, Click Here

Everyone has a different definition of a happy and successful life.  Is it working 40 hours a week?  Is it being a stay at home parent?  Is it being able to purchase a new car?  Is it being able to pay all your bills on time?

Take a minute and think about what makes your life happy and successful.  Then continue ready below.

Mark and Lauren G

I was raised in a coupon family.  But as a child, I really didn't realize the value of money.  It was only through growing up and being on my own when I realized that I needed to only spend the money I was making and not anything more.  And if I could manage it, to save some extra.

I was doing great on my own - I was traveling enough that I was able to save my extra travel money and have it in case I had an emergency.  Then I wanted to buy a house.  I had to ask for help with a down payment.  I was uncomfortable doing that.  I thought I was a failure for not being able to cover it myself.

But everything worked out.  I bought the house.  Faron joined me shortly thereafter and we were doing ok for awhile.  We hit a few difficult times, but we weathered them without too much difficulty and kept going.  Our savings dwindled, but we could still pay the bills and have some extra.

Soon our life changed again - we had Dan.  He had some medical issues at birth and when I went back to work after my maternity leave, we realized that we couldn't put him in day care.  So Faron temporarily closed the business he had just opened and became a stay-at-home parent.

That is when things started getting tight.  We didn't expect to only have one income.  But we pinched and saved and managed to keep going.  But the medical bills started piling up.  One co-pay after another, one test after another.

The stress level increased and I didn't keep up with the couponing.  We were spending money just because.  We were charging groceries because we didn't have enough cash to pay for them.  Somewhere along the line I realized I need to start couponing again.  I started looking for coupon matchups and found Lauren Greutman's webpage I am THAT Lady.  Through her coupon matchups, we started to save some money at the grocery store.  But we weren't able to save much because of all the medical bills.

But it started a conversation in our house - did we really need a particular item?  Did we just want it because it was there?  Then gas prices went over $4 per gallon.  Gasoline became our largest cost.  Living 10-15 miles from the grocery store and further from other stores, we realized that if we could cut down on our driving, we could save some money.  So I started picking up groceries after work.  We would make a loop when we went shopping - stopping at more than one store to get what we went out for.  We tried making only 1 trip out a day (or none besides me going to work!)

Yes, we got a bit sick of sitting at home.  But we started cooking more meals at home.  We were able to get some household tasks taken care of.  We were able to get a bit organized.

Now that gasoline has dropped and we don't have the medical bills anymore, we have eased up a bit.  But we still ask ourselves - do we really need to go out? Do we really need to make this purchase?  Is this the best price we can find without spending days researching?

I've started a budget, and have had to modify it a bit.  We've made bigger efforts at couponing.  We are really working as a team now (not that we weren't before).  We realize where our money is going.  We are starting to pay off some of those medical bills and other costs that accumulated when Dan was sick.

I am still using Lauren's webpage for coupons and other financial tips.  So when she and her husband Mark started their new page Mark and Lauren G I knew I had to see what goodies they had for me to work with.  They have some great tools, including free budget workshops on the last Sunday of every month and podcasts.  Their 3rd podcast really hit home for me.  Please take a minute and hop around their webpage and see if they can help you out too.

Once living the American dream of fancy cars, custom homes, and a pile of debt, Mark and Lauren Greutman exchanged that overrated, stressed out dream for their new American dream of enjoying life together while living within their means. They’ll teach you how to jumpstart your new American dream. Visit them here.


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