Gettin’ Guesty with Jenny of Ex-Consumer
Author: Jenny

Yay! It’s Gettin’ Guesty time!

This week we have the wonderful Jenny from Ex-Consumer

Jenny writes about getting out of debt, becoming more frugal, living lighter, exploring the world of minimalism and all the life that falls in between on her blog, Ex-Consumer.

image courtesy of the author

Decide to Be Done With Debt.

I am so excited to be contributing a guest post for And Then She Saved! Anna has been a great inspiration to me as she shares her story of her debt ditching successes. Reading about how she achieves her goals has motivated me during my own quest to debt freedom.

Making the Decision

Here’s the thing about getting rid of debt. About 85% of it is just making up your mind to become debt free. Once you’ve decided you don’t want the debt anymore, it’s easy to make plans to ditch it for good.

Up until early last year, I had never even considered a life without debt. Sure, I’d always been diligent about saving for retirement, but financing cars and using credit cards were things I did regularly…and planned to do indefinitely.

Through a series of new ideas I was exposed to through books like Your Money or Your Life and Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Make Over, and blogs like And Then She Saved and Get Rich Slowly, I began to question all of my previous assumptions about debt.

As it sunk in that I didn’t have to finance my life, I started to get excited. And motivated. And hyper-focused on getting out of debt as soon as possible.

Running The Numbers

Early last year, I started to really consider how much we were paying in interest on the credit card balance we were carrying. I realized that for a $1,500 balance (typical for us) on a card with almost 10% interest, we were paying about $150 per month in interest!

When I started to look at carrying a credit card balance as blowing an extra $150 each month just for the privilege of delaying payment, it all started to seem pretty silly. So last April we paid off our credit card balance and haven’t carried a balance since.

Starting 2011 With a (Debt Smashing) Purpose

At the start of 2011 I began making additional cuts to our budget. We canceled cable, nixed our landline, stopped eating out, and tightened up our energy consumption to lower our utility bills. Before I knew it, were we paying $100s less in expenses each month.

All of this money we’re saving each month goes towards paying off our consumer debt.

Where I Am Today

I won’t bore you with all of the financial details, but my husband and I started this year with over $25,000 in consumer debt, and as of the first of April we’re down to owing about $11,600.

That means we’ve paid off over $14,000 in consumer debt so far this year! Here are some of the things we’re doing to free up — or create — the money needed in order to pay those debts down:

  • Pay off our credit card and then stop using it.
  • Cancel cable.
  • Disconnect our landline and begin using a self-hosting phone service called Ooma, which costs $3.50 each month (after the initial $200 investment in hardware).
  • Install a water saver shower head.
  • Wrap the water heater in an insulating blanket.
  • Caulk the windows and exterior outlets in our home.
  • Turn the thermostat down two degrees in the winter and up two degrees in the summer.
  • Sell things we no longer want or need on Craigslist and eBay.
  • Sell the gold jewelry I no longer wear.
  • Sell our old books, DVDs and CDs to Half Price Books.
  • Stop eating out.
  • Stop buying things we don’t need.

All of these things individually would have made a small difference. But when they’re combined, the difference they make is astonishing. I’m so encouraged and motivated by the awesome progress we’ve made so far this year that I’m consistently looking for more ways to save — or create — more money to get these debts paid off for good.

What’s Next?

Once the consumer debt is gone later this year, I’m planning to beef up our emergency fund (currently only $5,000), and start a car fund so we never have to finance a car again. Then we’ll be aggressively paying down our $180,000 mortgage, with plans to have it completely paid off in the next seven to eight years.

Again, deciding to pay off your debts is easy once you make up your mind to become debt free. For years I was content to carry debt indefinitely, until one day I wasn’t. Once I made the decision to rid myself of all of the debts for good, the process built momentum.

Now I know it’s only a matter of months before my consumer debts are completely gone, and that is a great feeling!

Jenny ● THANK YOU ● for being a part of And Then She Saved!

If you would like to be considered as a contributor for Gettin’ Guesty send me an email at: Hello@AndThenSheSaved.com

19 comments

in Guest Interviews, Paying Off Debt, Practical Solutions, Take Action!
Money Wads
Author: Anna Newell Jones

I found Mr. Andrew Magill’s Flickr Photostream and these pretty pimp pictures of wads of money that he shot.

Hey, I’m a financial/money/savings blogger so that means that these pictures are the equivalent of candy for a diabetic which means, I just love that shit.

pics by andrew magill

2 comments

in Just For Fun, Money
Erm. Yeah.
Author: Anna Newell Jones


Destroy What Destroys You.

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in Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Take Action!
Early Birding
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Set those alarm clocks if you live in Colorado and tune on in to 850KOA tomorrow morning at 6:20am and 8:20am to listen to an interview that I’ll be doing. If you don’t live in Colorado (or miss the broadcast) you can catch the interview online here!

 

2 comments

in Press & Interviews
Gettin’ Guesty with Alexandra Perwin
Author: Aleandra Perwin

We have a CPA IN THE HOUSE! In the And Then She Saved House that is. This is a good contributor folks a REAL good one! (ah, I say that every week I know, I know, but it’s SO true!)

Please help me welcome:

Alexandra Perwin

Alexandra has five years of experience working at local and regional public accounting firms in Southern California and is a CPA (Certified Public Account). She will be completing her master’s in business taxation at USC (University of Southern California) in May.

She says, “I have always been interested in personal finance.  When I was younger I would ask my dad if I could help him pay bills!  (Yes, I’m slightly crazy.)  I love reading about personal finance and sharing this information with my friends.  I handle the finances for my boyfriend’s small freelance graphic design business, so I also have experience helping small business owners maximize their investments and minimize their tax bills.  

I’m just very passionate about personal finance, and I find it so heartbreaking that a lot of people come out with a four year college education knowing nothing about the topic.  Many of my friends have been working for many years and don’t have savings accounts, retirement accounts, and lots of credit card debt.  I attribute this mostly to the fact that they were never taught how to be financially responsible.  It’s not something most people inherently know, it takes work and I love helping people get on the road to financial success.”

Oh, I so agree Alexandra…

what a stunning look she has! image courtesy of alexandra

Retirement.

No other word brings so much joy and fear to my heart.  Most Americans have less than $25,000 saved for retirement!  As a CPA, I am a little compulsive when it comes to planning, so I have used all of those handy calculators to tell me how much I need to save for retirement ($3.7+ million) and how far I am behind schedule (VERY!).  Seeing that $3.7 million number can send even a financially secure person into a tizzy.  Saving for retirement is much like getting out of debt.  It can seem overwhelming, unattainable, and so far off that why should you bother when there is a new pair of shiny Miu Miu shoes that you can have right now.  I’m not sure if it’s a product of my generation, but I sure love instant gratification.  Saving for something 40 years in the future can seem like an uphill battle that isn’t worth fighting sometimes.  But then I wake up for work far too early on Monday morning and think about how glorious it would be to retire.  So I make a plan.  And I make plans for my friends.  And my boyfriend.  Because really, who wants to retire all alone? We need to keep our friends on track too so that we have a wonderful group to play shuffleboard with before eating our early bird specials at the Sizzler.

The easiest way to get on track for retirement is to make saving automatic.  Enrolling in your company’s 401K makes it easy.  If the money doesn’t make it into your bank account you can’t spend it. Opening a 401K also offers you a tax deduction, and you can contribute as much as $16,500 per year.

A lot of my friends don’t have jobs that offer 401K plans, either because they don’t get benefits or because they freelance.  While there are many savings vehicles for the self-employed, I tend to recommend an individual retirement account, or IRA, to my friends.  Like a 401K plan, you can set it up to be an automatic monthly deduction from your bank account.  Again, if you don’t see it in your account, you won’t spend it.  Also, provided you fall under the income limits ($56k for single and $90k for married filing joint) you can deduct it like a 401K contribution.

Something that gets a lot of attention is the Roth IRA or Roth 401K.  I recently recommended a Roth 401K to my sister.  With a Roth account you don’t get a tax deduction in the year of contribution, but your money gets to grow tax-free.  So if you think your income level (and tax bracket) will rise as your career progresses, a Roth is a great option for you!  While many of my peers forgo this because the lack of a tax deduction in the year of contribution, I urge all of you younger readers to table your desire for instant gratification and focus on the future.

Opening an IRA is easier than most people think.  You can open one at Fidelity for as little as $200 per month, or through ING Direct with no minimums. If you are under 50, you can donate up to $5,000 per year into an IRA (Traditional or Roth).

Once you get the money into an IRA or 401K, what do you do with it?  While I can’t recommend a specific fund that will deliver stellar returns (call Miss Cleo for that), I like the age-directed funds such as Fidelity’s Freedom Funds.  You pick your target retirement date, and they do the rest.  The fund has the appropriate mix of investments for your age group.  In my opinion it’s much easier than having to periodically rebalance your portfolio and is less daunting than hoping you pick a good mix of funds.

The most important thing is to make saving for retirement a part of your everyday routine.  Start small, even $100 a month adds up to something big!  And enlist the help of your friends.  If they can drag your butt to yogalates, you can all help each other get on track for retirement.  After all, what are friends for?

Alexandra Perwin ● THANK YOU ● for being a part of And Then She Saved!

If you would like to be considered as a contributor for Gettin’ Guesty send me an email at: Hello@AndThenSheSaved.com

10 comments

in Guest Interviews, Investing, Savings, Take Action!
Over 60? You Get Free College Courses!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

I heard a rumor the other day that a college in town here (Denver) is letting people who are over 60 attend courses for free! It’s Metro State College of Denver. This is so great! So, the 60 year-old (and older) students can’t get credit for the classes they go to but they get the chance to learn about anything their heart desires. That’s pretty cool, and I can’t believe I’m just hearing about this now. Not that I’m really the target audience for that type of information, you know, being like 30 years too young for the program and all.

I actually know someone who is taking advantage of this offer by learning Spanish, and soon she’s headed to Guatemala to practice her new language skills with a real live family and real live Guatemalans.

It’s so cool that this program is available, and that this college values learning at any age.

Pretty cool indeed.

T-Minus 29-ish years until I can sign-up and cash in on this free class thing.

not me

i’m always on the lookout for a deal. this looks like a deal.

Anyone know of any other colleges/schools that do this type of thing?

4 comments

in Things To Do
Why Struggle? Stick With What You’re Good At
Author: Anna Newell Jones

“Money comes when you do what you’re good at and work hard at it.”

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in Motivation
Confession: I Touch-Up My Shoes With a Sharpie
Author: Anna Newell Jones



I’ve been pretty happy with my ankle-high-made-outta-faux-leather boots that I bought from a low-cost chain store about 3-ish years ago. They’ve held up well for all the use I’ve given ’em. I had bought a black pair and decided that since they were such a good set I’d buy not only 1 pair in black but another pair in dark brown and well, okay one more black pair.

This went down pre-Spending Fast… see how my brain works in it’s natural habitat?

It’s like THAT. Like, I like it. Give me more. One is not enough Dear Friend.

For $35 I have had those work shoes for the past 3 years. Not too shabby. I’ve used shoe polish to freshen them up and make them look “new” again, and then the other day I used a black sharpie marker to fix some knicks that appeared on the heel of the shoe. Just colored ’em right on in. I figured it would only be noticeable if someone actually looked closely and it’s true, from eye-height no one noticed a thing.

I thought that was pretty slick. Oh, so, so, slick.

Slick. That’s a word my mom would use. She likes that word and she likes the word “sharp”. Actually, if she says something looks “sharp” it’s quite possibly the highest compliment that she might EVER give you.

Being called “sharp” or hearing “that is JUST so sharp” from my mom translates in my head to the holy grail of compliments. It’s basically right up there with what it might be like if Oprah called me herself and asked me to come eat cookies with her, play with her puppies and then having her insist on giving me a crisp $1,000,000.00 bill.

Yes. A Million Dollar Bill.

So, I thought everything was going so great with these slightly-ghetto-but-totally-still-passable shoes. Turns out they are only okay in dry weather. I found this out the hard way. These frugal-beast-babies had developed some holes in them that had gone un-noticed but once they got hit with yesterdays day-long downpour of rain they turned into sandals.

My feet weren’t just damp but completely soaked. I thought “Why the hell am I still wearing these pieces of shit!!?? I need shoes! I need to go shopping! Yes! THAT!” Once I peeled my socks off and dried up my soggy feet it got me wondering, a little more logically “When should shoes be tossed? When is ENOUGH ENOUGH!?”

Despite my very moist foot experience I decided that I’m going to hold strong. Hey, wet feet can be dried, knicks can be colored over, and fresh coats of polish can be given- over and over and over again.

Basically, now it’s a battle of wills. Me VS. THOSE Shoes.

And. It’s On.

The shoes will remain with me though I might just wear them from here on out when the sun is shining and the rain clouds are no where in sight.

6 comments

in Make Do & Mend, Practical Solutions
  • Anna

    Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Let's do this!

    ⭐︎Come back throughout the day for updates.

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