Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Latte Factor -- What's Yours?

It is normal to have payments on things such as credit cards, loans, and cars.  At least that is the philosophy my husband and I both had growing up.  As long as you could pay your bills, you were fine -- right?  Wrong.  We lived that way for years (16 years) until we hit a crossroads that made us think differently.

My husband and I decided to downsize our jobs due to our son being born 2 1/2 months premature.  Some things are just more important than careers, and our family was definitely in that category.  However, we wisely realized that we would have to make some financial changes since we'd be taking a 15K decrease in our combined salaries.  We felt like we needed to pay off my car (his was paid off), a loan, and our two credit cards.

To do that, though, meant getting more cash flow, not less!  So, we brainstormed items we bought on pretty much a daily basis that we thought we didn't really need to buy.  Here's our list:

  • Getting chicken biscuits every morning on the way to work 
  • Getting a coffee at Starbucks on the way to work 
  • Ordering lunch out every day at work 
  • Running into a grocery or drug store after work to get something (it's amazing how programmed we are to spend money!)

We figured we'd save about $75 a week on eating our breakfast at home and brown-bagging (it would have been $100, but some of that went into buying things at the store for lunches) it at work and not always stopping by a miscellaneous store on the way home from work.  That's $300 a month that we had just freed up -- that's some serious cash!!

This fledgling idea was the start of us paying off around 100K in total debt over the course of three years.  Being debt free (except for our mortgage) is truly a wonderful feeling, and it starts (of course) with small steps daily!  :)

Note:  We later found out by googling about tips on becoming debt free that we were doing exactly what we should do.  One author, David Bach, coined the concept of what we did as the Latte Factor, and it's described in his book, The Automatic Millionaire.  I didn't read this entire book, but I found the section on the Latte Factor to be reaffirming.

More posts will follow about other ways we paid off the 100K.  Please comment or ask questions.

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