Dollar Dollar Bills Y'all

Sponsorships and samples have been a little more frequent in the past year. Every time I get an email that I qualify for something, I always get excited and feel lucky that because of blogging, I am able to get free gifts and product samples. Sometimes, I even get monetary compensation – campaigns like those make me feel extra lucky…especially now. :)
Last month, SunTrust reached out to me, and asked me to share a financial story. Although I do not typically share about our family's finances, I found it to be a great opportunity to share what I have learned about being unemployed. So here goes…

When I lost my job back in September, Ron and I turned on our panic button. As a little family, we had to worry about so many bills, credit card debts, and our auto loans. We were lucky that we have enough saved to cover everything that is not what I call, a fixed cost. Fixed costs are bills that we pay monthly at a fixed rate such as rent, cell phones, car insurance, cable, gas, power, and internet. And of course, on top of that, we also need to pay our debt for spending the money we don't have. LOL! It sounds funny but when you lose a job, all you can do is scratch your head and do everything to get rid of that debt.
So how did we do it? The first thing we planned on doing was to pay off all our credit card debt. It was hard, mentally and financially because we had to dig deep into our savings for this one. One thing that I was truly thankful for though was my Payment Protection for one of my credit cards. I just had to fill out forms, ask my ex-HR manager to sign something, then send it out to the company. It saved us a good amount of Benjamins!
The next step was harder, it was sticking with the budget and making sure that we do not spend more than we can afford. This is the second time that I mentioned that phrase or sentence because it is one of the most important things that we stuck with when we fell into this situation. We always made sure that when we use our credit cards, we only use it to get points, and that we have the funds to pay it back right away. My credit card gives me 1.5% unlimited cash back.
Also, as you know, Ron and I love to shop. It's what we've enjoyed doing since we were kids, with our moms. To say that it was easy for us to stay away from shopping is a lie. For our purchases, we've made it a habit to always check online for reviews and to see if we can buy it somewhere else for a cheaper price. I think after months and months of doing this, we've excelled at it already and it has helped us keep more money in our accounts.
To make budgeting easier, I made us an excel workbook with our expenses. One sheet has a list of everything that we need pay for every month, and another sheet tracks our spending. I hate seeing that "Balance" column go down, so when I see it dip after paying something pricey(I am referring to our rent), I always make sure to remind myself and Ron that we need to slow down a bit for that week. I love that it works.
Now that I have a part time job, things are a little less stressful. We've gotten used to asking "Do I need this?" before actually purchasing an item. We have also stayed away from places that tempt us to shop unless there is a need to go. Our next goal is to try to eat out less. Our adventurous palates are not really helping with this one but we are hopeful that we will be able to stick with "trying a new place every week" plan instead of eating out four times a week.
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well being. They help you get organized, make a plan, and stay on track so you can get and stay in control of your finances. When you are confident about your money, you can save for your goals and splurge knowingly on what matters most to you.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.