Variety Smariety
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Oh, Variety.

When I was on the Spending Fast I dreamed of all the wonderful outfits that I would be wearing if only I wasn’t on the Spending Fast. I imagined myself dressed amazingly everyday and just wearing some really cute clothes. In a way I found myself feeling fashionably victimized by the ol’ fast. Every day I would put on my black pants (that had been re-dyed to give ‘em new life- read post here). I’d wear the same shirts over and over and I felt I was being forced to wear all these old horrible clothes because I couldn’t buy anything new because of the Spending Fast- don’t you know!!

At the end of the Spending Fast and before the start of the Spending Diet I went shopping and “refreshed” my wardrobe. I bought some new work pants and a couple new shirts. Imagine my surprise when I recognized the fact that when I would get dressed in the morning I was actually continuing to select the same clothes I wore during the Spending Fast.

Oh, touché.

Look who WASN’T being FORCED to wear all that black after all!

Turns out, this whole variety/not varied thing isn’t much of a shock to “the experts”. I remember reading a stat that most people only wear 1/3 of the clothes/shoes/accessories that they own and actually THINK they like variety far more than they really do. This whole – wanting variety but not really utilizing the variety thing was quite a revelation. That means that I’ll just about always gravitate towards what I know. For me, that means: wearing what’s comfortable, wearing what looks generally decent, I’ll pick items that are easy to wear and ones that I know I won’t adjusting all day or be self-conscious in.

When I go on a trip and I want to pack light I just admit the fact that I’m not going to be busting out any new outfits and getting all adventurous with my clothing. Most likely, I’ll wear the same thing over and over: hat, jeans and switch out a t-shirt or two but it will generally be a variation of the same outfit throughout the vacation.

So why the need for variety? Why constantly be on the hunt when the likelihood of it getting worn is slim? Optimism maybe? I like to THINK that I won’t wear just about the same outfit everyday… but I find that I do.

Maybe you’re one of the people that wears every single thing you own.

If so- Bravo. Bravo.

If you’re not sure there are a couple of tricks/tips to use to really see what you do and don’t use in your closet.

One tip: Face all of your hangers pointing “IN”. When you go to hang an item back up face the hanger “OUT”. After a month or two (or however long you decide to survey) evaluate the items with the hangers still facing “IN”. If you still haven’t worn it there’s a likelihood that you’re just not that into the item (and that’s okay).

Another tip (this is the one I use): Pants on the left. Shirts on the right.  As I wear an item I replace it on its respective side placing the shirts to the far left of the shirt section and the pants to the far right of the pant section. The way this works is that the items that are worn the most end up in the center and the ones that don’t get used end up on the ends of the closest.

Things I think about when clearing out: Do I really need the item? Do I even want it? Do I even like it?

I guess variety isn’t all it’s cracked up to be- at least for me and at least regarding clothes. I’ll have to remember this when I’m tempted to buy all those beautiful clothes out there.


in Fashion & Style, Spending Diet, Spending Fast
How To Be A Cheap Valentine Without Being A Cheap Valentine
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Valentine’s Day is right around the bend and that means that the pressure will be on from loved ones to do something for them. Besides, it’s a good time to show you care and how much you’re in love with your sweetie even if the point of Valentine’s Day gets a bit lost in all that commercialization. No matter… it’s fun to eat sweets and look at hearts and see red and pink and white and doilies and get some extra cuddling in.

Last year, I was tempted to just be a full-blown dead beat Valentine and just OWN it. I ended up bailing on that idea when reality set in and I decided I didn’t want to be a total a-hole. I ended up making my husband a sugar cookie shaped into a heart that I proceed to decorate obnoxiously I mean, awesomely. Here’s the link to that post.

Since I don’t have a kiddo (just nieces and nephews that I am completely smitten with). The below list is focused on ideas for adults. I was thinking about what I liked when I was a kid and what I would have liked to get for V-Day when I was a little youngin. Here’s what I remember liking: doing crafts, eating sweets, being told I’m loved. I guess I haven’t changed too much since all of that still sounds awesome.

Free or nearly free ideas for your love. Mix and match. Do one or a couple or all.

  • Go through your closet/house and find things to sell. Trade in your clothes at Scout: Dry Goods & Trade or a similar store for money or items from their shop. Pawn other items you’re done with at a pawn shop and use your newly acquired money to get your sweet heart something.
  • Cook a romantic dinner using pre-existing ingredients from your cupboards
  • Make your Valentine breakfast- again using ingredients or mainly ingredients you already have
  • Give a full-body massage
  • Straight up tell them why you dig them
  • Make 365 reasons why you love them and give them 1 a day for the whole year
  • Decorate your place with hearts you cut out of computer paper. (Here’s a link for some fancy heart cutouts if you wanna get fancy like that. Here’s a link to another paper decoration idea here.)
  • Swap houses/apartments with your friends for the night. You have a date at their house while they have a date at yours.
  • Have a movie marathon and make ice cream sundaes with all the fixin’s
  • Clean the entire house for them
  • Send steamy texts
  • Make homemade chocolate-covered strawberries: 1) Melt a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler and add a small amount of oil 2) Remove from heat and quickly dip the strawberries into the chocolate 3) Place on wax paper and refrigerate for several hours until chocolate is firm
  • If you’re hitched: read your wedding vows to each other/watch your wedding video/look at your wedding album
  • If you like giving cards there are free versions you can print out online (here’s a link and another one here for some cute ones) and if you want a “real” card check out the dollar store
  • Make them a mix CD of songs you love that you think they too might love
  • Call in sick together, then cuddle and watch movies/trashy day-time TV all day
  • Make them a cake
  • Make them cookies
  • Look through photographs of when you 1st got together. Have 1 printed and put in a frame (perfect re-gift opportunity with the frame).
  • Compliment them when others are around
  • Decide to give them an ongoing Valentine gift. This is where you do a little nice thing for them each day for an extended period of time. For example: listening intently, picking up a piece of candy for them, do something unexpected for them, give them your full attention when they talk, forgive quickly, add something they like to the grocery list and surprise them with it. Tell them what you’re up to or not. They might be shocked by the extreme niceness you’re dishing out. This will make them feel loved and appreciated which is the goal of Valentine’s Day if you ask me.
  • Reminisce about how you met
  • Send them a secret admirer letter. When it arrives – you know nothing about it. They will be both flattered and maybe a little freaked out, but hopefully mainly flattered.
  • Give your Valentine a homemade spa night. Face mask, massage, mani/pedi, scalp massage. Guys love this even if they won’t admit it.
  • Get naked. Proceed. Ewww. TMI.

What do you do for your loved ones that is free or costs very little?


in DIY, How To, Personal, Practical Solutions, Seasonal, Spending Fasters, Things To Do
Advice and Stuff
Author: Anna Newell Jones

I’ve gotten a few emails asking for advice on how to stick with a Spending Fast/Diet.

#1 piece of advice: Keep going even when it sucks.

image via jblyth




in Spending Diet, Spending Fast
A Love Story
Author: Anna Newell Jones

image via piccsy

Soon after the Spending Fast started I wrote about oats and how I was very unenthusiastic about the thought of eating them (read the post here). I really wanted to like oats but couldn’t get into them. The pros about oats: they are very cheap, (the name brand really doesn’t taste any different than off brand), they are whole grain (usually they are I think) which means they are good for you, they are filling and they can also be dolled up in all sorts of ways to have a different vibe. The cons: can be boring.

Needless to say, my love for oats has changed and evolved and now I actually look forward to eating them. They can even be quite delicious when done up right.

Only after I started thinking about eating all these oats did I realize that my family is a family of oatmeal lovers. With the amount of oats we collectively eat you could consider us a family of horses instead of humans.

The other day I even had conversation about oatmeal with one of my sisters. Whoa. That is a very lame sentence. I meant to say that the other day I was talking to my sister while snorting crack off of muscle-y stripper asses and then fled the police in a stolen car while yelling the F word.


Here is my recipe for Sister Oats 

1. Put 1 cup of water in small pot

2. Add 1/2 cup of old fashioned off brand whole grain oats

3. Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more if you like)

4. Add handful of raisins

5. Add a handful of raw, whole, unsalted walnuts

6. Boil it all and stir it all up

7. Let it simmer until all the water is soaked up into the oats

8. Pour into a bowl and top with a handful of freshly washed cold blueberries

9. Sprinkle light brown sugar on top

10. Pour approx. 1/2 cup of almond milk on top

11. Take a bite being sure to include some of the almond milk, sugar and blueberries in the bite! Hot and cold and fresh and sweet and yumm.


in Food, Groceries, & Recipes, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters
Author: Anna Newell Jones

image via troubledeyes

In the vein of being grateful this week… I’m appreciating all the beauty that surrounds me.

Even if it is just by way of pretty internet images.


in Gratitude
Month 1 of the Spending Diet.
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Month 1 of the Spending Diet was, well, a bust. Kinda.

I’m trying to not be too hard on myself and I’m trying to remember that it’s a process BUT I’m also trying to be honest. So, here are a couple paragraphs of honesty.

After I realized the total amount I had saved during the Spending Fast I was elated. I couldn’t believe I had paid so much down on my debt. I never thought I could do that! Then, I gave myself a weekend in between the end of 2010’s Spending Fast and the start of 2011’s Spending Diet.

During that “free” weekend well, I went a little wild I guess. Not as “wild” as I was with money before the Spending Fast but WAY WILDER than I’ve been used to. I want to be CALM with this whole money thing but it isn’t coming very natural to me- even after a year of not spending money! In January I found myself spending money on the items I felt I was being deprived of during the year of the Spending Fast. You know, things like some work clothes and food out. My plan for 2011 was to have $100 on “non-need” things for each month and well, my plan didn’t go as planned even though I thought about the items I purchased. I went through my checklist. I even thought I was doing pretty good during the month.

The Spending Fast was the hardest in the beginning so I am trying to be okay with the beginning of The Spending Diet being hard too. I’m not doing very good at remembering that. This whole thing is about getting my debt paid off. It’s about re-learning the whole money thing. It’s about starting over.

OK. So, I’ll get to it already. In January I saved $258.92 (click here for the total savings). It’s good because I didn’t get further into debt but I think the big clencher with why I’m disappointed in myself is because I still have debt. It’s like, I KNOW that debt is still there so why am I allowing myself to spend money when I still owe money to others. I kind of wish I kept the Spending Fast going longer… at least until my debt got paid off. Also, I could be in shock that I didn’t save as much as I have in past months… that is a possibility.

OK. Time to start on February. I’ve got a piece of paper in my daily planner. I’ve got $100 ONLY for “non-need” things and I’m gonna DO THIS. I’m going to write down the things I spend money on for “non-needs” and I’m going to get this debt paid off. The debt is still weighing heavy on me even though people say “it’s only college debt” it’s still debt to me and it’s time to be done with it once and for all!

image via fffound


in Paying Off Debt, Spending Diet, Spending Fasters
A free thing
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Something I always feel kind of silly talking about is “Gratitude”. For some reason it just sounds inherently cheesy even though it’s not neccessarily. Maybe I just feel like some happy ass leprechan spewing cheer. Like, I almost want to tell myself to “Cut it out already” and stop being so Pollyanna-y.

Really, being grateful for what I have and taking note of it puts me in a state of mind to not want MORE. To realize that what I have is pretty freaking sweet and while it’s may not and mostly isn’t “perfect” it’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be. Good, bad, shitty, horrible and awesome.

Being grateful is free (yay!) too which only adds to it’s awesomeness.

What I’m currenlty grateful for:

– You reading what I write (that’s quite awesome really)

– Chocolate

– That my brother is not away in the war any more

– Crisp Gala apples

– Water

– A silly and cute husband

– Clean sheets

– Coffee. Oh, yumm… coffee…

– A good workout

– Sweating and aching after a good workout

– Fast internet

– A nice boss

– Funny images (like the one above)

– Laughing

– Good hair days

– A pen that writes nice

– A president that inspires hope

– The bus when it arrives right as I walk up to the stop (love that!)

– Long time friends

– Conversations with my sisters and brother

– Chubby babies

– Being busy

– Sleeping

– That “What Would You Do” show

– Knowing I did something I didn’t think I could do

– Photographing couples in love on their wedding day

– Photographing tiny newborns

– My health and families health

– My mom’s abbreviations of words that have never been abbreviated before

– Glasses

– Beards

– Breakfast foods

– Letterpress things

– Roof

– Heat

– Electricity

– Hot Water

– Sweets

– Frosting

What are you thankful for today dear reader?


in Gratitude
Author: Anna Newell Jones

this is wendy bevan

What are your plans for the weekend lovelies? What do you do for entertainment that’s low or no cost?

No matter what you’re up to I hope you have a weekend that’s as great as you.


in Just For Fun
  • 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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