Beauty In The *Almost* Disregarded
Author: Anna Newell Jones

The above images are from The Dumpster Project. I love the idea of bringing new life to old things and seeing the beauty in things that we normally wouldn’t.

Bravo. Bravo.

4 comments

in Just For Fun
Saving REALLY Can Be as Fun as Shopping
Author: Anna Newell Jones

I just love this comment that reader Katie left. She says “It’s so great that And Then We Saved helps us see that saving can be as much fun as spending.” That just made my day!

4 comments

in Savings
Spending and Bipolar Disorder- Guest Post
Author: Chelle Newton

It’s Wednesday so that means that we’re Gettin’ Guesty here on And Then We Saved. I’m pleased to introduce you to Chelle Newton from Life On The Domestic Front. Today she is sharing with us her experience with Bipolar Disorder and Spending. She makes herself vulnerable by telling us her story and her honesty is honorable.

Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.

The correlation between the mental aspect of spending and saving has been fascinating to me.

 

Spending and Bipolar Disorder – Essay by Chelle Newton

Growing up, my mother had a rule- half of any money I got my hands on was supposed to go into savings. I would go through periods when I would put money into my piggy bank, but those times were rare.  I used to wander the mall as a teenager with $20 in my pocket and come out with a new poster or teddy bear and no money.  Gifts were my over the top way of showing how much I cared.  For one boyfriend’s birthday, I thought it would be cool to get him not one new record album, but ten.  Yes, ten.  I can always find a great justification for spending.  Now I know that this is because I have bipolar disorder, but back then, I just thought I was terrible with money.

photo courtesy of the author

When I am coming out of a depression I feel an intense need to spend to lift my mood and when I am manic that desire to spend is even worse.  Mania makes me certain that I must have some new thing and I must have it right now.  I become obsessed until I buy the item, whatever it is.  I have many memories of things I have purchased over the years that we ended up getting rid of because we either had no use for them or I decided I needed to replace them.

My spending has almost never been based in reason and almost always based on impulse.

By the end of the 90’s, my husband and I were robbing Peter to pay Paul, yet I continued to spend.  I was in a very bad place emotionally. I was manic, out of control, and unable to take care of my children. We were paying a babysitter an exorbitant amount of money we didn’t have because I had decided to go back to school.  Finishing college seemed like a good way to avoid facing the fact that I couldn’t handle real life.

We finally had to take drastic measures, so we decided to file for bankruptcy. Our Chapter 7 bankruptcy papers show $97,367.23 in unsecured debt, $47,086.62 of which was student loans and couldn’t be erased.  I was completely out of control.  The student loans were not just going for tuition and books.  I was using them to pay other bills and the babysitter, who was making about $1,100 a month off of me and keeping the worst of my mania from being seen by my children.  I was also hitting the mall regularly with a friend with a shopping addiction who could always help me justify pulling out my maxed out credit cards for clothing I didn’t need.

Around 1999, my bipolar disorder was diagnosed.  I could no longer fool myself about my mental illness, though I still hadn’t made the connection between my mental illness and my impulsive spending.

Bankruptcy did nothing to curb my spending.  We had brand new credit lines and I launched wholeheartedly into another free fall of spending.  In 2005, we sold our townhouse and moved 60 miles west to our dream home which I proceeded to furnish in typical manic fashion.  I was able to easily clean out the bank account of $30,000 left over from the sale of the old house.  After that money was used up, my husband gave me a joint credit card that we were to use for all expenses and pay off at the end of every month.  He took over payment of the bills, so I had no idea how poorly I was handling the new credit.  I discovered a couple of years later that we had over $8,000 in credit card debt on just on that one card.  We also each had a card of our own with limits of about $2,000 and both of those were maxed out.  Not to mention those pesky student loans that we were still paying on.

My husband wanted to make some improvements to the house, so he took out a second mortgage on our house and proceeded to build a deck and fence in the backyard.  Our plan had been that we were going to finish the basement but, much to my dismay, he went behind my back (I say this with love) and paid off one of the $20,000 student loans.

I cringe every month when the remaining student loan bills come, as these loans are a seemingly eternal reminder of my out of control spending.  I have absolutely no idea how much money I have hemorrhaged from our credit cards and bank account over the past seven years since declaring bankruptcy, because we have been very good about always paying our bills on time and trying to make more than the minimum payments.  Today, we have outstanding $24,000 in student loans, a $9,000 balance on our joint credit card, and a $1,400 bill for family room furniture that we didn’t really need.  We also have what I call our $3,000 puppy, an impulsive purchase last August when I decided we just had to have a dog and the dog turned out to be a nightmare in veterinary expenses.

Slowly, with a combination of medication and therapy, I am getting to a point with my illness where I am no longer possessed by my mood swings and can look at my spending in a more rational way.  I have become more aware of whether I am in a manic state of mind when contemplating a purchase and understanding whether or not it is something I need.  When I read about Anna’s spending fast on And Then We Saved, I decided that I too, at the very least, needed to go on a spending diet.  Instead of wildly spending our tax refund, I managed to pay off two credit cards (totaling $1,700) and we were able to pay cash for a good portion of our recent trip to Syracuse, New York.

I now place every potential purchase into the category of either “want” or “need”.  I look for major discounts and sales before buying things we have to have.  I am more aware of coupons and clearance racks.  We are getting take-out only once a week instead of three or four times.  The car I am driving is nine years old and I have no plans to replace it for at least two or three years.  I am using the library again.  The most important thing I have learned from my spending diet is to think about every single purchase before buying.

To not buy on impulse is now my goal.

I’m sure that I will continue to stumble regularly, especially when my mood swings up or down. During those rough times, small luxuries like a new item of clothing, a manicure, or dinner out become “necessary” expenses, a salve to my fragile sanity.

I have begun making some of my blog entries at www.lifeonthedomesticfront.blogspot.com about my spending diet.  I’m finding that if I tell the world that I want something and how much it will cost, it will usually stop me from pulling out the credit card.  Usually.

My spending monster is slowly getting tamed and it only took 46 years and a lot of hard work.

 

For more information on mental illness and bipolar disorder please visit Nami

Chelle Newton from Life On The Domestic Front ● THANK YOU ● for being a part of And Then We Saved!

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

10 comments

in Guest Interviews, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Student Loans
Author: Anna Newell Jones

“A year from now you will wish you started today.” -Karen Lamb

 

2 comments

in Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Take Action!
Darning Those Socks
Author: Anna Newell Jones

image via craft zine

Does anyone else have a few hole-y socks tucked into their sock drawers? I have a few for sure! All of a sudden I’ll feel the heel of my foot sticking to the inside of my shoe and then I know that I’ve got a hole in the sock. The sticky foot is a sure sign indeed.

Darning socks seems like a bit of an urban legend to me. I don’t think I’ve even met anyone who’s ever darned a single sock and if I did well, I take that back, maybe I HAVE met someone who darned a sock and maybe we just didn’t discuss it.

“Hey, guess what I did on Monday night? I darned my socks AND IT WAS GREAT!”

Nope. Doesn’t happen.

But, that doesn’t mean sock darning is any less useful or money saving.

I’ve got some socks I’m going to be darning up here any minute so now you can say you met someone who’s darned one. Where I would’ve tossed those socks in the trash in the past now they are getting new life.

This handy tutorial found over at Craft Zine tells us how to get the job done.

image via craft zine

That’s so cute! Who knew!

3 comments

in DIY, Do Without, Make Do & Mend, Practical Solutions, Things To Do
Author: Anna Newell Jones

via health girl tumblr

Don’t give up.

4 comments

in Motivation, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!
COFFEE + ME + ALWAYS + PLEASE.
Author: Anna Newell Jones

When I was thinking about this post I was thinking “Yeah, I totally mentioned that already”. Then I couldn’t find it when I searched my site for it and I since I couldn’t find it I guess I didn’t mention it like I thought I did. So if I did already mention it and just couldn’t find it, well, my apologies.

And on with the story.

This Spending Fast Tip maaaayyy be a little ghetto/oh my/no she didn’t/yes she did/I hadn’t thought about that.

Those are the best tips (and best things in general) though- when they are on just this side of crazy.

Can I get an Amen.

this image is on just on this side of crazy… there are no words… image via tumblr

When I started the Spending Fast proper all the fancy coffee at coffee shops immediately left my days. If I wanted coffee I was brewing it up myself. I used up the old frozen coffee grounds that had been in my freezer for years and I started to notice the places that offered free coffee (the YMCA and meetings are great places to find free coffee).

With all this coffee I was brewing up and finding around town I needed a way to transport it. I needed a way to keep it with me.

COFFEE + ME + ALWAYS + PLEASE.

At the time I didn’t own one of those cool travel coffee mugs and thought carrying around an open ceramic mug from my house might get a little messy on the bumpy bus rides and walks around town. Normally at this point pre-Spending Fast I would’ve just BOUGHT a travel coffee mug.

I mean, I needed one. It was obvious. BUT. Things were different now. Things ARE different now.

So. What did I do? I searched for the closest Lost and Found box that I could find and dug in.

I never knew until that day but my “day job” just so happens to have a gravitational pull to travel mugs. I had reached the end of the rainbow and it was pure gold.

If I didn’t know better I would think they were breeding in that box while people looked away. There were THAT many in there.

After rummaging around for a bit I found the perfect travel mug. It was burgundy, had a handle, had a lid and only vaguely smelled. I asked if I had been there long. I wondered if the rightful owner was on there way. I asked if maybe I could have it? “Yes, you can.” So, I took it. I figured with a little sanitation it would be as good as new. And. It was.

Some mornings as I sip up my coffee I feel a little rough using my “pre-loved” coffee mug but then my thoughts drift back to that lovely Lost and Found box, all the the lost stuff in it and all those mugs just waiting for a new lease on life and a little sanitation.

Shameless frugality wins again!

 

6 comments

in Make Do & Mend, Practical Solutions, Shamelessy Frugal, Spending Fast, Things To Do
My Kind Of Coupons
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Coupons have always been a little mysterious to me. When I think of coupons I think of a long envelope style plastic binder with separators in it and bunches of little pieces of paper organized by category.

Like this one. Yes! Just like this one:

I think about sitting on the floor tearing along the perforated lines ripping out the little pieces of colored newsprint paper. Oh, and it would start on a Sunday morning and last all day.

Yes.

ALL DAY.

I seem to have some semi-suppressed childhood memories bubbling up.

The whole coupon acquistion process seems to take a VERY long time for not that big of result. I see the end result as: me with a bunch of name brand items I wouldn’t normally buy and maybe 25¢ off the one thing I normally would buy.

With coupons my “Time or Money” philosophy comes to mind. If you’re not familiar with my “Time or Money” philosophy it just means: you’re gonna pay for it with your time if not your money or your money if not your time. So you have to decide which one you wanna spend because you’re gonna be paying one or the other.

After seeing all sorts of buzz on Twitter last night about this show called Extreme Couponing (youtubed it since we only have the most basic of basic cable – so we can get clear reception – and we don’t get that channel) can only make me assume that my past couponing technique has been all wrong.

That show looks INTENSE. If I was gonna coupon I think that’s the kind of couponing I could really get behind.

You know, since moderation isn’t really my thing. Have you noticed?

Do you use coupons? Do you think coupons are worth the trouble? How do you manage them? What’s the most you’ve ever saved? What do you think about this show? Did you see it?

24 comments

in Coupons, Staying Out of Debt, Things To Do
  • 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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