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How One Couple Reduced Their Spending By $23,000 Per Year

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Through Systems & Organization That Anyone Can Replicate

“person pointing at blue sticky note on wall” by rawpixel on Unsplash

I’m happy to admit, organization is not one of my natural strengths. My natural inclination is to let the dishes pile up at home and let the stray papers pile up on my desk. That is why I am such a big fan of Rosemarie Groner AKA the busier budgeter. Rosemarie credits the systems and habits she developed in her personal life and her financial life for her getting out of debt, quitting a stressful job and pursuing entrepreneurial pursuits. Put simply, Rosemarie used systems and habits to reach financial independence.

How did she do it?

Her Story

Don’t let the dishes pile up in the sink

Rosemarie used to work full time as a state trooper. A good job, with good pay and benefits. However, it is a stressful job that often requires long and odd hours. She describes coming home from work completely exhausted and stressed out. This led to some bad habits around the house, the dishes piled up in the sink, the dirty laundry started piling up, her home felt disorganized. Put your hand up if you can relate to that!

As what often happens, bad habits in one area of someone’s life can lead to bad habits in another area of their life. If we feel too emotionally drained to clean out the sink, we are more likely to be careless in our spending. That is what happened to Rosemary and her husband and they soon found themselves in $30,0000 worth of debt with a baby on the way.

When You know what you want budgeting is easier

Rosemary and her husband recognized they were not happy with the way things were going, they knew they needed to make a change. Rosemary and her husband began sitting down and having long, serious discussions about their budget. They knew they were spending too much money and knew they needed to get their financial house in order.

They started by getting their literal house in order.

Rosemary and her husband set up 3 daily routines

  1. A Laundry Routine: No more piles of dirty laundry. No more piles of clean laundry sitting in the basket waiting to be folded and put away.
  2. Dishes Routine: No more piles of dirty dishes sitting in the sink.
  3. Schedule routine: No more wasting money by ordering food in.

Once these routines were mastered, Rosemary and her husband constantly revisited their budget looking for ways to get the things they want in the most cost-effective manner possible.

How They Reduced Their Spending by $23,000 Per Year

The little things add up into big money

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Death by a thousand cuts”, Rosemary’s story might be described as “financial independence by a thousand small changes”. Maybe it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as good, but her story is inspiring because almost anyone can take the steps she took to reducer he spending.

One of the first major cuts was to her housing costs. This was more of a situation of good timing. She was able to refinance her mortgage when interest rates were at an all-time low. This saved her a significant amount of money in interest payments and lowered her monthly mortgage payment.

Another seemingly small change is that she stopped buying books. Let me be clear, she did NOT stop reading books, she stopped buying books. Everything she read, she picked up at the library. Get the most out of your tax dollars!

Now for the big one, she was able to cut $16,000 per year out of her food and household spending. $16,000 Per year! Do I have your attention now?

How did she do this?

First, by switching from brand name items to generic brands. To give you an example, Rosemary said in an interview that she saved $118 per year by switching shampoo brands.

Second, she treated her food and household supplies (think paper towel, shampoo etc…) like a business treats their inventory. In fact, she even created what she calls a “stock room” in her house.

This does not need to be an entire room, it can be a shelf in your house. The idea is that you simply need to find a dedicated area of your house where you can store an inventory of household items. You get these items for a cheaper price by buying in bulk and you save time (and money) by taking fewer trips to the store.

The “stock room” should only be items that you would drop everything and drive to the store to get if you ran out of it. This is items like toilet paper, paper towel, soap, shampoo. The stockroom is not for unimportant items like paper clips (unless you absolutely could not go a week without paper clips in your house).

I love this for three reasons.

  1. The obvious money saved from buying items in bulk
  2. The obvious time saved from making fewer trips to the store and;
  3. The less obvious money saved by making fewer trips to the store. Don’t forget grocery stores and big box stores are designed to make you buy things you don’t actually need (or want). The more trips you make to these stores, the more you will end up spending over the year.

Rosemary and her husband have set up an excel spreadsheet that tracks the inventory in their stock room. If you take a bottle of shampoo off the shelf? It gets tracked on the spreadsheet. Once the inventory of shampoo hits a certain point, they restock.

Other Benefits of Tracking Every Penny

“budgeting gets you everything you want”

By really dedicating time and energy to budgeting and setting up systems, Rosemary and her husband have been able to completely change their life. She quit her full-time job as a state trooper to start an at-home daycare business while pursuing a blog side hustle, which eventually became her primary income. She and her husband were able to buy their dream house and her husband was able to buy a “fixer upper” Corvette!

A far cry from $30,000 in debt and a sink full of dirty dishes.

By drastically cutting back on things they did not want, Rosemary and her husband were able to get everything they wanted. And as she described in a recent interview, all the time she and her husband spend budgeting has helped their marriage. She says they have discussions about money all the time which means they never fight about money. Money, after all, is the number one strain on most relationships.

My wife Tricia, and I constantly talk (and debate) about money, but we never fight about money. If you want to have a better marriage, get comfortable having uncomfortable money conversations, and build a budget together!

Moral of the story: Habits matter! Build strong habits in your personal life, build strong habits in your financial life, build systems to help you keep you from falling back into bad habits and you will live a happier, richer life.

More F.I.R.E Stories

This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

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