I never wanted to go to college. I was absolutely, inconceivably adamant about not attending. The debt was the part that deterred me. Nothing is worse than the American dream; that will nearly always put you thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. The big house and nice car just weren't worth it.
Then I became a mother. Living in an apartment with my husband and son wasn't so bad at first, but then our baby started to walk, then run, then jump and prance and roll about. Soon we had a kid on our hands, and a rambunctious one at that. It was time to stop working these $10 an hour jobs and get serious about a career. Work towards owning a house, rather than renting. I sighed and began the application process.
I qualified for grants that would assist with tuition, but the classes were only offered in the daytime. I was able to work and complete some part-time and online classes while our son went to daycare for a bit, but the job pay and daycare costs were cancelling each other out. I made a plan and my husband said "Make it hap'n, Cap'n!" So I quit my job when my son started preschool and started part time classes. That worked well and then my husband started working a full night shift with many overtime hours. I went from having a co-parent helping me during the evenings to being a single mother for the most part.
My son and I only see my husband on weekends, even though he lives with us. The bills are paid, but what's left was always a terror. Then, just a month later, my favorite uncle passed away from a heart attack. I decided to cut out the unhealthy foods from my diet so I wouldn't be at risk for the same fate. Then I noticed the account no longer contained less than $20 between checks.
I cut out alcohol and grazing foods like chips and pretzels. Just to be safe, I replaced milk with a soy milk brand that was labeled "heart healthy". I also began listening to the radio while studying and cancelling TV services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and anything else that was unproductive and led to unnecessary snacking. I took my son for walks instead of going out for fast food with playlands in them. Most of our meals are cooked from scratch now, which is nice because I always love spending time learning new recipes.
The coffee we drink and any other food we buy is a generic brand, but also vastly less expensive than anywhere else. It seemed like the diet change was just the money-saving gateway. Our clothes and household items all now come from thrift stores (we can always purchase nicer versions of those things after I graduate from college and my career takes off!) We only go out to eat once or twice a month, and never spend more than $20 when we do. I learned to preserve food by canning, freezing, and dehydrating. Even the gifts we give are usually homemade.
I even began recycling and just making positive changes in general. We are currently out of debt and making do with less, but living comfortably and happily. Not only did the diet change lead to saving money, it also led to setting a good example for my son, which was the best reward of all.