We cut up our credit cards and it changed our family's finances for the better.
We were constantly in debt and it became normal. If we wanted to go on a holiday we'd just put it on the card. The same went for takeaway, new clothes and fun days out.
We'd pay some of the cards off and then max them out again. It was a continuous cycle of owing money to the bank.
Then one day we paid off our cards and cut them up.
Now, although we live paycheck-to-paycheck and are forced to budget, we are no longer in debt.
Obviously, our quality of life has worsened somewhat because we also no longer impulse buy and take off on unplanned weekends away, but that lifestyle was a lie. We were living beyond our means and it caught up with us.
Now, we are forced to save for everything. We have saving accounts for upcoming bills, tax and holidays. We have also opted to pay our big bills, like electricity and phone bills, in monthly increments, instead of being lumped with a massive quarterly bill. And that helps too.
There are times when we're not sure if there'll be enough money for groceries, but during those lean weeks (and sometimes months) we just eat less crap and do a lot of meal planning, so we don't waste food or money.
We're simply more careful with what we spend and always make sure we put something away for the future, even if it's just $10 here and there.
This change in attitude towards our finances was born out both my husband and I earning less money and being determined not to be drowning in debt anymore. And that first step, of ditching the credit cards, was the driving force behind our financial changes.
Now, as a family we're working towards an overseas holiday. It will take us a few years to save for it, but it's more exciting when you know you're all working towards something together.
It's teaching our children that money isn't a given in life, that you have to work hard and save hard to live a certain way.
It's teaching them how to budget, how to live frugally and how to save.
It's teaching them the value of money.
Since our financial circumstances have changed and we've become more mindful about how we spend our money and how we've talked to our children about money, it's changed their perspective too.
They're no longer asking for toys and having tantrums about objects they want, but don't necessarily need. If they want something, we don't stand in their way, but they have to use their own money. Invariably, they will decide not to waste their money. Instead, they've all saved up for their own devices and now feel really proud of their own purchasing power.
Getting our finances under control has been a big learning curve for our family, and to think it all started by cutting up our credit cards. It was the best thing we could've ever done.