I’ve got a question, and maybe you’ve already written a blog post about this… but I thought I’d ask anyway. We’re in the middle of our debt payoff. We reached the halfway point in May, which was awesome, but over the summer we’ve lost some serious steam. I haven’t kept up with the coupon-clipping, we’ve been eating out more, and we’re generally slipping back into old habits. What do you recommend? How can I get re-energized and back into our quest?
Losing Motivation but Determined
That’s a great question! But first I have to give you major congrats for getting to the halfway mark! That is HUGE! Also, it’s awesome that you’ve kept your commitment to the Spending Fast even though you’ve lost some steam. The commitment to it will get you to the end. That will make all the difference in the long run. I ran into the same issue as you have with the losing motivation thing, so here’s what I recommend:
Go back and look at why you wanted to get out of debt in the first place.
Working two jobs is an excellent way to add more income into your life. Whether you are saving up, or trying to get out of debt, however, working two jobs is not always easy. Taking good care of yourself is a complete necessity if you want to avoid burn out.
On and off, for years, I have worked two jobs. I have done so either to just make rent, while still pursuing career aspirations, or to pay off debt faster (which is what I am doing right now). Here are my suggestions to succeed at more hours in your work week so that you can be more productive and accomplish your financial goals:
Suggestion #1: Don’t lose sight of yourself
You have decided to finally pay off those student loans, save for a vacation, or build an investment portfolio! Working more is a great way to accomplish these goals. However, you are a person today with people who you love and other (non-financial) goals. Continue to meet friends for board game night and work on perfecting your Downward Dog. It is all too easy to get swept up in work mode, while congratulating your savings account. It can become addicting—and fast. If you are offered what would cumulatively be your 9th day of work or overtime—think about it before jumping to the numbers in your checking account. Sometimes (when you can) say no, and go home or meet friends for pizza. Your work will actually benefit from it.
Suggestion #2: Stick up for yourself (to piggyback on Suggestion #1)
If you have already made plans and you get a call to come into work, don’t skip out on those plans just to add the hours to your paycheck; you will know the situations when you’ll HAVE to skip out of plans and head into work—but it should never become the norm. Get time for you, no matter what it is that you’d like to do. Read More »
I love your blog and all of the great ideas you share! I have been trying to follow a Spending Fast/Diet for probably around 2 years, and can never last more than 2 weeks. I signed the Get Out of Debt Pledge on April 1st and well…guess how long that lasted? Thankfully, I don’t have much debt but my goal is to pay off what I have, build my savings and learn to live with less. I am getting married this fall, as well as returning to school, and being a part of a few of my friends’ weddings this summer.
I guess my question is, How can I make this commitment and actually follow through when there are things I “need” to spend money on? I have been saving regularly for my wedding and trying to stay within my budget, but then there are wedding gifts, bridesmaid dresses, shoes, etc. for the other events I am a part of.
Sorry this turned into a ramble, I am feeling pretty defeated and just don’t know where to start!!
Where am I going wrong? I’d appreciate your help.
Discouraged but Committed
I totally hear you with the struggle. I would recommend that you do the best you can and forgive yourself for any “slip-ups” along the way. Stay committed to the Spending Diet for the entire length of time you commit to. Even if “mistakes” happen, keep going. Even if the Spending Diet isn’t done perfectly (and there’s no way it could be done perfectly, by the way) you will still be better off at the end of the time period than if you never started the Spending Diet in the first place. It’s kind of like that saying, time is still going to pass if you make efforts to change your life, or not, so you might as well make some changes! (I completely paraphrased and butchered that quote but you get my point;)
My name is Katie. I’m 25 years old and I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Currently I work in the vocational field, helping people with disabilities find integrated employment in their communities! I make about $35,000 a year, which is less than my graduate degree actually cost to earn. (Big sigh.) Right now I have about $83,000 of debt — about $73,000 of that is federal school loans, and the other $10,000 is a loan that I took out to purchase a vehicle this past January when my old car was on its last leg. I have no children and live on my own, but I have a long-distance boyfriend. I rent my one-bedroom apartment, which is about $725 a month. My upcoming plans are to move in with my boyfriend, get a job that allows me to advance my professional career, and start the next grown-up chapter in my life!
I started my Spending Fast last summer (August 2014), so I’ve been in it for about a year. After attending graduate school to become a professional counselor, my goal was to find a job that would allow me to work toward my licensure (you have to have so many hours of work in before you can get the state license to practice). I’ve taken a job in the related field of vocational counseling, but without my license, I have been making less money than I will in the future.
I fell off the wagon and spent some money on clothes—and overall I wasn’t successful in paying any debt off for the month of May (month 7). Falling off the wagon happens to everyone, but I find that I especially have trouble. Whether with the Spending Fast, fitness goals, or goals in general, I have to find patience. Patience with myself, and with how long it takes to see results. I want results right away, usually right after a declaration of a goal.
With that said, I’ve found that these tips have helped me to develop being patience:
Do you have a phone or tablet that’s reached retirement age? Don’t assume it’s time to throw it out, toss it into the recycling bin, or forget about it in the ol’ Junk Drawer. Or maybe you bought a wearable device, with the best of intentions. You wanted to count your steps and your calories, but maybe the device was too complicated or the novelty of it simply wore off and maybe your good intentions faded. (It’s okay — it happens to a lot of us!) Regardless, the device has been sitting unused collecting dust and guilt everytime you glance at it. I would like you to release yourself from the guilt and sell it! As Marie Kondo of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up would say, “thank the item for teaching you what you don’t like (or won’t use) then let it go.”
There are plenty of options if you’d like to de-clutter and make a little extra money. (In some cases, you can still make some money even if the device is broken!)
Using a prepaid card to help get the grocery budget under control. The Experiment…
Have you ever used a prepaid card before? I’ve only used them a handful of times so my experience with them is pretty limited. When Visa approached me to learn about their Visa Clear Prepaid program I was a bit skeptical (because I had heard some not super wonderful things about prepaid cards before, and the rumors weren’t on the prepaids card side, if you know what I’m saying.) but I was also super curious because of my limited experience with prepaid cards. As you may have guessed I’m kind of obsessed with anything and everything that can help save money, budget, pay down debt, and manage finances. If there is a tool out there that can help me and other people with their money goals I’ve got to know about it.
Prepaid cards are ideal for someone who really wants to stick to a budget but has found that they usually go over the set amount that they have designated for each category. For example, with me and my husband, a big money issue for us is our grocery bill. We ALWAYS seem to overspend on food. At the end of the month we’re usually at the very least $100 over-budget on what we were supposed to spend. We get frustrated, and vow to do better next month. So, in an effort to reign in the grocery bill we decided we’d see what it was like to try out a prepaid card for a few months and then report back on how it goes. Because life isn’t quite hectic enough we (I;) decided we should do a little experiment which brings me to…
It’s a great feeling to knock out debt and build up your savings.
But it’s not such a great feeling to overcome buyer’s remorse when you find that you’ve bought yet ANOTHER thing that you just had to have, only to realize you didn’t really need it.
So how do you stay on track with your Spending Fast when you’re tempted to “fall off the wagon” and when life’s temptations creep up on you and start whispering those familiar sweet nothings into your ear? Read More »
For the month of February we all saved a total of $58,182.48!! That is a hell of a lot of debt to pay off! The amounts you all are saving, this is concrete evidence that the Spending Fast and Spending Diet work!
We have now collectively saved a total of $379, 597.37!!!!
To add to the Collective Savings total be sure to include your savings on this page so your savings can be included for March!
You all are doing so amazing knocking that debt out. With every penny that gets paid off it gets you that much closer to a new life. You can do this! If you want to get out of debt too take The Get Out of Debt Pledge and get started today. Might as well change your life on this fine Thursday, right?
(If you’ve sent me an email your savings have been included in the savings total, by the way.)
How has it been going for you so far this month? What successes, obstacles and challenges have you encountered?
Melanie is here with an update on her Spending Diet progress, and she is absolutely killing it! – Anna
With the holidays here, the Spending Diet is getting harder and harder. I was hoping to spend my allotted $100 Spending Diet budget on gifts, but that didn’t go as planned. I stuck with my budget of $100 for my Spending Diet allotment and but I also spent an additional $100 for gifts, and that’s not what I intended to do. It’s becoming harder and harder to resist temptation.
I don’t usually go shopping. At all. I stay out of stores to resist temptation, but the holidays have forced me to go into stores (coupons in hand) and actually shop. During a recent shopping excursion, I bought a fleece jacket as gift for myself. I had a coupon, it was a super discount and I used my Spending Diet allotment, but had I not gone into that store, I would have never known about that jacket.
I know what you’re going to say at this point– I could make all the gifts. I’ve told myself that several times. But craft supplies cost money too and as a working girl with two jobs, I have a time budget. There’s only so many hours in the day and making beautiful gifts for almost 20 people isn’t my priority. My budget (and my family!) is my priority. Yes, I’ve planned to make a few gifts, but the majority have been or will be purchased.
And yes, I know that the holiday season isn’t all about consumerism. It’s about spending time with the ones you love, spreading joy, helping others in need and eating way too many holiday cookies. I plan on doing all of the above and spending lots of time with my loved ones (whether they like it or not!), but I also would like to show my appreciation through a token.
This month I’ve been fighting a bit of an internal battle. I want to be giving and I don’t want to be selfish, but I want to stay on budget. I want to save for me and for my future. This month has also forced me to think about my struggle with perfectionism. I try my best at everything in life. My perfectionism has helped me in certain aspects in my life, but with budgeting, my perfectionism often tells me that I’m failing. I managed to save another $1,000 this month and that’s amazing. I’ve saved $5,600 in just 5 months. A couple of years ago, I saved nothing at all. This holiday season let’s all tell perfectionism to get off our backs, ok? We have a budget, but we’re not going to beat ourselves up about it. Can I get an amen?
Month 5 Savings: $1,000
Started the Spending Diet: July 1, 1014
Savings to date: $5,600
How do you let perfectionism go, and be happy with your accomplishments even if they fall short of your goal?
Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her July update for us below. We’ll get August’s update up before you know it, and then we’ll be back on track in no time for September. I’m telling ya, we’ve got a plan, folks. She’ll take it from here. xo, Anna
Ok, so first things first, this was so much harder than I imagined. I went over my allowance of $100 in the first two weeks! I am ashamed and to be honest I was a little shocked. (I feel like I’m such a saver!) But I learned from my digressions and I’m ready to get serious.
I went $100 over my spending limit in July for two reasons:
#1 – I didn’t immediately get cash out of the bank at the first of the month like I said I would.
Hey, I’m lazy and I hate making trips to the ATM. Instead, I told myself I’d just write down what I spent. What a joke. If I’m too lazy to go to the ATM, I’m too lazy to write down everything I spend. Now at the first of each month, I am vowing to get out my $100 spending budget and stick to only spending cash on my “Wants.” I’m also leaving my debit card at home so I can’t be tempted by that trickster. (I’m keeping my credit card on me for emergencies.)
#2 – I was too strict with my food budget.
I just simply didn’t budget enough for food. I hate buying food even though it’s a necessity. I thought by giving myself a super strict limit, I would spend less. Wrong! I spent more because I ran out of food and had to make extra trips to the grocery store. I’m going to give myself $50 more to spend on food each month because a girl has to eat. To even out the budget, I’m cutting my gym membership. I love it but I don’t use it often enough. I ordered some infomercial DVDs a while back and I’ve been hitting those harder than I ever hit the gym.
I still managed to save $1,000 this month which I consider a success. I also got real with myself. Looking back on this month, I realize that I spend more money than I should going out with friends. Instead of going out with friends, I’m going to convince my friends that we should cook at home– even if that means I do all the cooking! I’ve even started fermenting my own wine which has been super fun and much cheaper than wine at a bar or restaurant.
I have high hopes for next month. I’m taking on a side job to earn more income and I took out my $100 allowance as soon as I got paid.
Here’s to hoping next month’s spending diet report looks better than the last! Melanie
The Spending Fast method for getting out of debt is usually portrayed in the press and articles about me, and the blog, as being a super easy, and quick way to get out of debt. And while it IS a VERY quick, and efficient method (especially in relation to other methods), and while it IS simple, it is not easy.
While it would be amazing to be able to take a pill or snap your fingers to get out of debt instantly, it doesn’t work that way. And, we all know that. It takes time, and effort to do anything worthwhile, much less to get out of ALL OF YOUR DEBT!
To paraphrase the saying, time is going to pass whether you take the chance or not.
You have to get up every morning and say to yourself, “I can do this.” Because, you can. Getting out of debt and changing habits is hard… there is no doubt about that but it is possible to live in a new way!
If you really want to get out of debt but have your old habits knocking at your door there are ways to slowly but surely start changing your old ways. Pick one of the below tips to work on each week and you’ll soon find that those old money habits will drift away. Being frugal no longer carries the stigma it once did as more and more people strive to save money.
We all have a little cheapskate in us and it’s time to bring it out!
Here are 26 ways to kickstart your inner cheapskate and reap the benefits of hanging on to more of your money…
Here are 16 of my favorite posts that will give you just the right jolt to keep that New Year’s Resolution going strong! Or… if you didn’t make the resolution to get your finances straightened up then maybe these 16 posts will be just the kick in the pants that you need to get started! It doesn’t need to be the start of a new year to change your life. You can start anytime! – Anna
So many times I hear people tell me all the reasons why they can’t do the Spending Fast. Come on now, give it a chance before you give up! You can choose to give yourself the best gift ever this season- a life without debt! It is TOTALLY POSSIBLE! And really, please, don’t give up before you even start! You CAN do this!
This is a guest post by Alicia Lawrence who has been doing a Spending Fast. -Anna
It’s been one year since my husband and I started our Spending Fast. Since then we have knocked out over $25K in debt (not including what we paid in interest). Anna has asked me to share my journey to getting out of college debt free and how we are tackling my husband’s debt now.
After I graduated college, I was one of the few that made it debt free. But that freedom was short-lived as I married someone who did have debt, and surprisingly more than he had anticipated. The average student loan debt is $27K, my husband had accumulated almost $60K. After our honeymoon, it was a rude awakening when my father-in-law sent me the passwords and links so we could start paying it off. I knew my husband had some debt but the real amount was twice what either of us expected.
For one, coming from money-wise parents, I couldn’t understand how they didn’t know about the amount of their debt. My husband was never encouraged to find the best loans or figure out how to get scholarships. Me, on the other hand, was searching and applying for scholarships since sophomore year in high school.
Start While You’re Young
Even before that, my parents had started a 529 Plan when I was born. Growing up in Alaska, each year every resident receives a Permanent Fund Dividend (around $1,000). Instead of giving that money to me they placed it in my 529 Plan to grow interest until college. By the time I left for college, I had over $30K in my 529 Plan to help me pay for lodging, books, classes and any other student finances I would need.
On a side note, I also worked summers and part-time jobs through college. I placed 35% in savings and the rest was used for living expenses and spending. After college, I had saved over $5K for emergencies. Glad I did since my husband and I didn’t find steady jobs till three months after our wedding. During those three months, I created budgets and action plans on how to pay off the debt quick, but you need money to pay off debt and that wasn’t something we had at the time.
We both got multiple retail jobs hoping it would hold us through till we could get “real” jobs, which finally happened a few months later. So now you know the back story, let me tell you what we are doing now.
This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
I am now into month four of my Spending Fast! About a month ago I had to uproot my life and move to a new state suddenly. Since I was not expecting it, I had not saved up a lot of money to move with so my Spending Fast had to take a temporary break. I didn’t go crazy and go shopping or anything, but I was not able to put the amount of money towards my debt that I had anticipated. Since time doesn’t stop, my month three totals are finally in but let me warn you, they are sad!
My original day 1 debt: $24,996.98
My total starting month three: $23,514.05
Month three debt paid: $11.51
New debt total: $23,502.54
Who pays $11.51 to their debt??! I actually paid a lot more but had to use my credit card quite a bit in the interim so I came out $11.51 on top. At least I came out ahead! (Anna saved $0. during Month 17 of her Spending Fast so I guess it’s normal to have some really great savings months and others that aren’t so awesome.)
Last week I wrote about having two job offers and not knowing which to choose. Well, I have chosen the second job (which pays $3 an hour more) and start next Monday! I am very excited about this new position because it is with a very large company with lots of room to work hard and advance.
Now that my life is circling back towards stability, I am reclaiming my focus and my Spending Fast goals. I am spending a few days visiting my family and while I am here I am listing their unwanted items online. They have agreed that if I sell their stuff, I can get a certain percentage for my effort. And that certain percentage is going towards my debt. I’m excited to see how it will play out.
I have a lot of extra free time lately so instead of sleeping all day and being sad, I am focusing on learning graphic design. I already had the computer programs needed to learn and How To books. What was I waiting for? I am learning this because I enjoy design but also because once I gain design skills, I can start freelancing that too!
I am excited about this new phase of my life and hopeful that it will bring great (money-making/debt paying) things.
Have you ever not met your Spending Fast monthly goal (or any goal you set out to achieve)? What are some ways you stay inspired during that time?
Chelsea Overton is in the midst of a Spending Fast® and writes about it from North Carolina with her bulldog, Xena the Warrior Princess, by her side. She also has her own website where she logs her journey towards financial freedom.
This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
Since starting my Spending Fast a little over three months ago, I have learned quite a bit more about myself than expected. One of the main things is that I have a lot of marketable talent that I completely didn’t realize. Last Monday I started a new job (hallelujah) and my title went from “Clerk” to “Information Technology Specialist.” I tell you this because my college degree is in Spanish. I have no formal training in computers, I just happen to enjoy working with computers. I realized this a few months ago and added my skills to my resume. After meeting a new friend, I mentioned to her that I was good with technology and she told her boss; the rest is history.
How To Figure Out Your Skills and Sell Them for Cash…
I’m so excited to introduce Chelsea! She recently started her Spending Fast®, and she is going to be our new Spending Fast columnist reporting weekly about her getting out of debt journey! I’m so happy she’s going to be sharing her story with us!
Not spending money for a whole year sounds a little ridiculous to most people. After many failed attempts at paying my student loans, I decided to get serious. I had stumbled upon And Then We Saved’s post on how to cut your own hair. Once I read the tutorial I started exploring the site and was amazed at what I found. If Anna could do a year-long Spending Fast, I figured I could at least attempt to do the same.
My name is Chelsea Overton and I am a 25 yr. old lady living in Columbus, Ohio. I am from North Carolina and recently moved to the great state of OH-IO last August. Before moving, I had been able to make all my minimum student loan payments and keep my credit card balance paid. In August, I left my full-time salary job behind and with it I left all hopes of financial stability. Before I knew it I was having to choose which bills to pay each month. I would pay student loans one month and the credit card the next. At least with this method, neither account would go into default status. After the new year started I knew it was time to get my finances in order. Finding ATWS seemed like a pretty large life sign.
I started my Spending Fast on January 28, 2013 and it has already changed my life. When I started this I had a grand total of $24,996.98 in debt. Wowza! After one month, I have successfully paid $1,229.58 towards my debt and put $100 into savings. I had decided not to look at the total amount paid throughout the month. I made payments towards my credit card as the money came in and at the end of the month I was beyond surprised! My current debt total is $23, 767.40.
So, what did I do to go from not being able to make minimum payments to putting over a grand on my debt? I froze my spending! I started packing my lunch and saved the $5 a day I was spending. I cleaned out my closet and sold unused items on Craigslist and eBay. I realized I enjoy writing and started freelancing my skills through various online sites.
I used to spend money on things like nail polish and snacks because, well, “I deserve it.” After only a month of the Spending Fast, I have realized that I deserve to be debt free. I expected this year to be hard, but I had not expected to discover so much about myself this quickly. Gaining control over my spending has created a sense of peace in my life that I haven’t felt in years. I am nervous about how the rest of this year will go, but I now have confidence in my ability to change my habits. I look forward to finding new ways to save and watching my debt shrink each month!
Each week I’ll be writing about my Spending Fast and getting out of debt journey. I hope you follow along with me!
I have a little bit of bad news. Your debt called me the other day and we had a long talk. There were tears, lots and lots of tears but overall is was a good talk. Well, it turns out that your debt is a complete punk and wants to break up with you. You’ve been together far too long (you know it’s not working out either), and it’s time to part ways. It’s a bad relationship and it doesn’t bring out the best in you. It’s been a good run but let’s be honest- it’s time to move along. There are way better things waiting for you out there.
8 Reasons Why Your Debt Wants to Break Up With You Right Now… Read More »
I was finally REALLY ready to be done with debt for good. I was committed to the process and it was time to take action.
The Spending Fast can seem very restrictive (because it is) but it was surprisingly freeing to have those restrictions. I no longer had to feel guilty about shopping and spending. If an item was on the “needs” side of my “wants and needs list” I could buy it was and if it wasn’t on the “needs” side of the list, I didn’t buy it.
To buy or not buy was clear-cut. There was no grey area. To have those limitations was a relief.
Have you ever had limitations put on you only to found that you were less stifled than anticipated?
A Spending Fast ® is considered an extreme but very effective method of getting out of debt quickly. A Spending Fast works through the elimination of all “non-need” spending.
I did a Spending Fast and I substantially improved my financial situation by paying off $23,605.10 in debt. It only took 15 months and I couldn’t believe it! Because I’m now debt-free I can live the life I’ve always wanted to live. I’m able to be autonomous and I’m able to focus on my goals without having debt hanging over my head and affecting all of my decisions.
There are a few things to think about before you start your own Spending Fast and all of these elements will affect how fast you are able to become debt-free.
These Factors Will Affect Your Spending Fast ®
The total amount of debt you have
How much spending you decide to cut out
How committed you are to the process
The duration of time that you chose for your Spending Fast
How much money you can make by selling your unused possessions
What you chose to do to generate additional income and how much money you can bring in with the side job(s)
When I finally decided that I had to be done with my debt my life completely changed, mainly because I was finally willing to do whatever I needed to do to be done with my debt once and for all. The cycle of debt, guilt, and remorse had to end.
Life is so much better on this side — the debt-free side! If you’re ready to change your life and if you’re ready to get rid of your debt quickly, this is how to do a Spending Fast. You can do this!
How To Do A Spending Fast ®…
1. List Your Debts and Their Interest Rates
Make a list of all your bills, and then write the highest-interest rate bill at the top of the list with the lowest interest rate bill at the bottom of the list. This will determine the order in which you will eliminate each bill: highest interest rate bill to the lowest interest rate bill.
2. Ask Your Creditors for Lower Interest Rates
Call the credit card companies and ask them to lower your interest rate. They just might do it so it’s worth a shot to call them and ask.
3. Picture the Life You Dream of Living
Determine your priorities by putting actual pen to paper and by writing down your ideal life. What would you be doing if you didn’t have to work for a living? How would you spend your time, and when are you the most happy? Ask yourself, “Is there any way I can reach my goals with the debt I have?” If the answer is “no” and you don’t feel good about it, then it’s time to start thinking about making some serious changes. Be very honest with yourself. Do you find that you’re making decisions about things to do (or not do) based on the amount of debt you have? Does your debt prevent you from living a life that is true to you? Does your debt (and your obligation to it) pull you and angle your decisions in even the subtlest ways?
4. Make The Commitment To Be Done With Debt Once and for All
If you’re not ready to be done with your debt, then you might want to try some other methods first. The Spending Fast technique requires a lot of commitment and dedication. A Spending Fast is a way to get extreme results in a relatively short amount of time, but you have to be ready to go forward full-force with it. Your life will change and it will affect every area of life. Getting out of debt and committing to the Spending Fast is worth it, it’s just not easy!
5. If You’re Partnered, Try to Get Them to Do the Spending Fast With You
It’s a lot easier to change your life if your partner is on board but, if they aren’t, then consider doing the Spending Fast solo (I did it that way). Separate bank accounts are very helpful if you’re doing the Spending Fast solo.
6. Set a Time-Frame for Your Spending Fast
I recommend a year, so you can get past the difficult beginning part (where all your habits are getting changed) and into the real benefits part (where your debt is getting paid off). A year can seem long day-to-day but at the end of the year you’ll be surprised how fast it goes by. If you chose to do a weekend-long spending fast, a week-long spending fast, a couple months or a year, you will still get results and it will still positively affect your financial situation.
7. Make a Public Declaration of Your Desire to Become Debt-Free
Tell your friends and family about your decision to do a Spending Fast so you can have the accountability that comes along with it. In addition to telling your family and friends, take the Debt-Free Life Pledge, and read the entries from others who are committed to getting out of debt too (it’s super inspiring to read the pledges and I always read them when I need extra motivation).
8. Create a “Wants and Needs” List
The “wants and needs” list is the backbone of the spending fast. On the “needs” list include just the necessities needed to live: rent, food, utilities, etc. On the “wants” list, put everything that is an “extra” in your life. Things that went on this side of the list for me were items like clothes, coffee at coffee shops, movies in the theater, gifts, bed linens, new music, new make-up, shoes, etc. (Here is my original Spending Fast *Wants and Needs* list – 1/4 of the way from the top of the page.) The *Wants and Needs* list can (and will) be different based on each person’s varying priorities in life. If you decide that something should be on your needs list that wasn’t on mine that’s okay! Just try not to justify adding things just to make it easier. You can do this!
9. Spend Money on the “Needs” Side of the List Only
This is the simple-but-not-easy part of the Spending Fast.
10. Think About What You Can Buy Rather Than What You Can’t
If find yourself starting to feel bummed out when you’re in the thick of the Spending Fast, try to shift your perspective, because it will do wonders for your morale. Remember to keep having fun (just the free kind). Remember that the Spending Fast isn’t forever. There is a light at the end of the tunnel (that’s why you set a time-frame at the start), and remind yourself of why you’re doing the Spending Fast in the first place — it’s to get out of debt once-and-for-all and to change your life! Look at the list you made in step #3 when your morale gets low.
11. Become Immersed in a Community of Like-Minded People
Get involved in the And Then Whe Saved Community. This is where people share their questions, struggles, accomplishments, set-backs, tips, tricks, and most importantly, their getting-out-of-debt successes. It’s a great place to get a reminder that we aren’t alone in our dreams to live debt-free lives.
12. Attack Your Debts
At the end of the month, send all the money that is left in your account to the bill that has the highest interest rate. Continue to send the minimum due on your other bills. Once a bill gets knocked out, be proud of yourself! You’re really doing it! You’re becoming debt-free! Next, start working on the next highest interest rate bill on the list. Become competitive with yourself; try to get better numbers than the previous month and keep track of your savings from month-to-month. To be able to see all of the savings at the end of the year is amazing.
13 & 14. Be Committed to the Process and Continue With the Spending Fast Until You Reach Your End Date
It’s unrealistic to think that “mistakes” won’t happen so keep going even when they (inevitably) occur so when they do, re-focus, and get back at you. Stick with the Spending Fast for the entire time-frame you committed yourself to. If you reach your goal of paying off your debt and you happen to do it before your predetermined end date (um, awesome!), then why not keep going? Squirrel away the extra money and prepare yourself for the next step — financial security.
15. Be Proud of Yourself for What You Accomplished — Big or Small
When you come to the end of your Spending Fast, look back on all you were able to do. Being proactive and being willing to take charge of your life and finances is definitely something to be proud of!
Throughout the Spending Fast, always be on the look-out for ways to cut the “needs” list down even more, get creative with ways to save money, and be willing to make things yourself in an effort to save.
Before you know it, saving will become (unbelievably) more fun than spending and your financial life will be forever changed!
Spending Fast ® is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.
“I want to buy you something, but I don’t have any money.”
Today’s my birthday (woot woot) and I really want to go crazy and buy myself a ton of somethings. Not that I can afford to do that but when the seasons are starting to change and it’s my birthday it’s like a double-whammy of, “Oh yeah, let’s shop!”
Back in the day when it was my birthday, I would go to the mall and spend at least $100 on myself. Then, I’d go out to dinner with friends, and that was then usually followed by going Downtown to get wild. Now, I’m a little better at restraining my impulses, and saying “No” to myself even when it IS my b-day.
How have your birthdays changed as you’ve gotten older?
Also! I don’t know if you know about this but Corepower Yoga has free classes throughout the week! It’s such a great thing to take advantage of it you live in a city with one of those studios. I’m sure other fitness centers and gyms offer free classes too. It’s definitely worth looking into.
But, gosh, I got totally off-track there. The reason I brought up Corepower Yoga is because they will let people clean their facilities in exchange for free unlimited yoga. It’s so cool that they offer that and the volunteer/clean-for-trade positions fill up very fast since their memberships are on the crazy/oh-my-gosh/wildy expensive side.
With the cleaning for yoga trade it’s one of those “time or money things”. You either spend the time to clean or… you spend the money to not have to spend the time to clean.
So, we all know that health is, obviously, important. We’ve heard it a zillion times but how do you stay motivated to keep your health on track when “healthy” food can seem so expensive and working out takes up precious time?
This is the way I see it, you’re either going to spend your hard-earned money at the grocery store today or later on at the pharmacy and hospitals.
The grocery store option is way less expensive and far more tasty. Amiright?!
Remember this super controversial post about How To Create Meals For Under 3 Bucks? The food now vs. medical bills in the future topic got brought up in the comments and created a mega stir. (A reader named Marianna send over the link to this site called Budget Bytes. It’s about saving money while eating well and she said it’s got solid and worthwhile recipes that have saved her money.)
Why should you adopt a healthier lifestyle? Here are 4 good reasons…
One day we took a day-long road-trip to a Gulf of Mexico beach and it turned out to be a very sunny but chilly and windy time. We got blasted with sand most of the day and did our best to ignore it. Hours later on the way home we realized we had gotten fried since we hadn’t re-applied the sunscreen like we normally would’ve on a typical hot sunny day. What the experts say is true, the sun can (and will) still burn you even if it doesn’t seem like it will. We poured vinegar all over our burns (it’s really does help with the pain, you know vinegar is amazing, right?) and took some pain relievers.
Lesson learned sun. Lesson learned.
It was fun to get away from my normal routine and to do things I normally don’t get a chance to do like (among other things): be roommates with a 13 month old, eat humongous spoonfuls of chocolate chunk cookie dough ice cream at 11pm, have late-night giggly/serious conversations, and watch movies on a nice/amazing/wow TV (ours is a 15 year old TruTech;).
While it’s fun to get away I can’t help but feel guilty too. I mean, I spent money on a plane ticket! A plane ticket that wasn’t a Need. Plus, I still have that frustrating medical bill that just won’t quit. I know I should be piling money onto that bill so I can get it over with already but I’m fighting it for some reason. Like, I just want to pay the $150 that I agreed to pay, for like, ever. There’s no interest accruing so that crosses my mind too, that it technically and officially wouldn’t “harm” me to pay it super slow. But, the fact that it even exists, that I even have to think about it and that it weighs on me, that’s a signal that it’s not cool. After doing the Spending Fast and Spending Diet I’m super tuned-in to the fact that I need to deal with it and knock that bill out already even if I don’t really want to (I don’t).
Part of me thinks that I shouldn’t spend any money at all since I write this personal finance/frugality/debt-free living blog. I kind of feel like I’m betraying this side of my life when I spend money, even though I did the work and got out of the debt that was weighing on me so heavily.
I was surprised when I got to talking to some fashion bloggers at a recent clothing swap and we were talking about this issue. I told them I felt guilty if I spent money and they were saying they felt guilty for encouraging consumerism and the “want, want, want” nature of our culture by doing their fashion and shopping posts. It was totally eye-opening to see that I wasn’t alone, and that the guilt runs rampant ;) throughout the blogging world, even in completely opposite blogs and sites.
But then I think, “Why did I want to get out of debt in the first place?” It wasn’t so I could have a life full of guilt! It was so I could have freedom! So I could have autonomy. So I could do fun stuff without the guilt of over-spending and getting into even more debt. So I didn’t have to have that cyclical remorse anymore.
More than anything I got out of debt so that I could have a good life. Now, without the debt hanging over my head and grabbing mega chunks of my paycheck every month there actually is more money for fun stuff and not the pretend credit money that I used to have and rely on.
Having a good, fun, nice, happy, autonomous life was the point, and continues to be the point for me with getting and staying out of debt. I want to be able to travel, buy new clothes, and live in a nice house if I want.
What’s the point of going to work everyday, working hard to get yourself out of debt, working hard to keep yourself out of debt, being diligent day-in and day-out if you can’t enjoy yourself once in awhile? If you can’t reap the benefits?
Life is about learning, and growing, and enjoying (and probably some other stuff). It’s not about work, work, work.
Set your priorities, set your goals, achieve your goals, live the life you want and don’t be bound to the crap you don’t need to be thinking about anymore (debt).
What kind of life do you REALLY want to live? What’s your biggest motivator to get out of debt?
We all know that having a baby in your life can be expensive (it is a whole new person after all). So, do you really need everything “they” say you need? What can be cut and how do you find some financial sanity when your whole world is getting rocked? Since Aaron and I don’t have a little one in our lives yet I love getting the inside scoop from people who do.
Today, Heidi from Portland Babylon is sharing her top 6 tips on how she and her husband made their new life with a baby as frugal as possible.
“I’ve always considered myself a frugal person. I began working at a young age, in junior high, for my CPA father. I think that helped foster a strong work ethic. I also found that money provided independence and security, so saving money was always really important to me.
However, the old adage of ‘the more you make, the more you spend’ does seem to hold true.
In the past few years my husband and I have made more money, and we’ve spent more as a result. We seemed to be able to save a lot more money when we made less.
In the past year a lot has happened, and our savings have dwindled. Most importantly, last September our son (Hank) was born. He’s our first and only child. Another old adage rings true here: ‘Having kids changes your life’. Boy does it.
We had a lot of financial burdens last year, plus we both work full-time and knew we had day-care costs in the $1,000 per month range staring us in the face. So, we knew we had to buckle down and try to make having a baby as economical as possible.
Here are a few things that have allowed us to not totally scrimp on our one and only child, but also be able to start saving some money again.
Saving Money With A New Baby In Your Life:
image courtesy of heidi. that hand-painted mural is really amazing! such talent!
1. Tap into your artistic skills (or your friend’s artistic skills)
Decorating a nursery can be really expensive. My husband (who luckily for us is an amazing artist) painted Richard Scarry murals on Hank’s walls. This saved us a lot of money, and of course made his room one of a kind. If you’re a little less adventurous there are a lot of stencils that could be used to create something really special (and cheap!).
2. Go with vintage or used furniture
We bought as much vintage furniture as possible his room, except for his crib. We bought a dresser, bookcase and an adorable wall unit all at local vintage stores, stripped them down and repainted them. We already had a rocking chair, and just had to repaint it. Not only were these pieces a lot cheaper than new, they were made better in those days and they have a much more unique look to them.
3. Get crafty
Even with my limited sewing skills I was able to create curtains for the nursery using Little Golden Book fabric. It matchs the mural and they weren’t as hard to make as I would have guessed.
4. Be okay with used clothes and hand-me-downs and spread the word to friends that you’d love their previously used items
Apparently, some people don’t want used clothes for their baby. Not us! My boss was nice enough to give us her two boys’ clothes, which really helped. We also continue to get clothes from a friend’s boy who is a few months older.
5. Use Craigslist and garage sales for the baby supplies
We bought quite a few things used at local re-sale stores and through Craigslist. I never knew you needed so much for a baby! We got a lot at our baby shower, but after he was born we realized how much more we could still use. We got some great deals on things like a bathtub, Boppy pillow, books, a Baby Bjorn carrier, blankets, and clothes. We even bought cloth diapering supplies and a huge quantity of baby formula from local sellers. The formula was an insanely good deal, and ended up getting us through a few months for dirt cheap.
6. Pick cloth diapers
Between birth to potty-training diapers can cost thousands of dollars so choosing to cloth diaper Hank was a pretty easy decision. Since it seems to be a trend here in Portland and since most of our friends do cloth diapering too, it made the decision a no-brainer. I felt like the biggest barrier to cloth diapering was having too much information available, which really confused me. Once I figured out what I needed the rest was easy – even the laundry’s not that bad (especially with an awesome husband). The initial set-up for the cloth diapers was a few hundred dollars but we’ll end up saving so much in the long-run since we decided to not go with disposables. Plus, being able to re-use the diapers means so much less garbage and waste!”
Do you have a little one in your life? How do you save money? What are your biggest tips?
Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: email@example.com. (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)
If you don’t know me by now, I’ve got to tell you I’m officially a major cheapskate. That means I’m ALWAYS on the look-out for things to do around town that don’t cost money or are super, super cheap.
So, when I got the flyer in the mail yesterday from Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art and I saw that this Friday night, March 30th they are having a 10¢ entry fee for their newest exhibits (mainly photography) from 8pm to midnight well, I got a little excited.
Saturday night’s Accessories Swap was so fun! The thing I love most about swaps is that you can de-clutter and get rid of stuff you don’t want, to get stuff you do want! Plus, it’s a fun and different social thing to do with friends.
I’ll be sharing more photos and stories from the swap soon but wanted to share these short fun videos with you. The first video is all the Big Buddha handbag giveaway winners (they ended up giving away 8 bags instead of the 3 we were anticipating!) And the 2nd video is from right after the swapping began.
Westword (a local paper in town) covered the swap here and a fashion blogger who writes the site Fashion Folio covered the swap here.
Linda Bejamin Pardee de-cluttered her space and ended up with a major tax write-off as a result.
“Charitable donations: It all started with the purse museum. image courtesy of linda benjamin pardee
Okay, I admit it – I love purses. It’s my thing. They always fit even if I’ve eaten a few too many chocolate truffles. They come in all colors, shapes, and sizes and they’re so damn pretty!
So when I started the Spending Fast, my first commitment was: ‘No New Purses!’ I also realized I wasn’t using several of my bags and that selling them might help bring down my debt. I listed a few of them on eBay to see what would happen. Some sold, some didn’t. Since my PayPal account is tied to one of my major credit cards, the ones that did sell went immediately toward paying down the balance on that card.
I held onto the purses that didn’t sell for about a month, all the while thinking ‘now what’? Having just started the Spending Fast I was in a downsizing frame of mind and not just on handbags but on clothes and shoes as well.
I started researching charitable donation centers in my area (Los Angeles) and found that the National Council of Jewish Women, which has several ‘second hand’ stores, has a reputation for giving top dollar receipts on donations. I bagged up the unsold purses and some old clothes and made my way over there. A few weeks later I received a tax receipt in the mail. My donation brought in over $350 in tax deductions. I couldn’t help myself – I went back into my closet and started looking at the things I’d been on the fence over donating.
I got serious and honest with myself, and I decided that I only wanted to keep what I really used on an everyday basis. The frenzy had begun.
Once I was finished with my clothes closet I started looking at everything in my house differently. I started in the kitchen and got rid of all the items I had stuffed in the back of the cupboards. I had duplicates of everything from mixing bowls to flatware. These things were just taking up space. Then there were books. A goldmine of books I wasn’t going to read again! I boxed them up. Our old futon in the guestroom was a landing strip for luggage – it had to go. I donated lamps and old bath towels that I’d long ago stopped using and was holding onto in case my nieces finally moved out of my sister’s house and needed them. My husband thought I’d lost my mind but went along with it.
Last month I started organizing paperwork in preparation of having our taxes done. I totaled up my receipts from the charitable donations I’ve made over the last several months, and I have a write off of a little over $2,100! Needless to say, I’m thrilled (and I have really clean closets too.)
As for my love of purses, let’s just say I cover my eyes when I walk thru department stores . . . ”
Thank you Linda!
Do you utilize charitable donation write-offs on your taxes? What’s the biggest charitable donation you’ve made in a year?
Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)
Are you looking forward to a tax refund this year? I’m one of those people that really likes to get a tax refund because it’s like a bonus chunk of money! Whenever I tell my dad that he says, “The government is getting an interest free loan on YOUR MONEY!” He goes on to say that if I’m getting a refund back each year then too much money is getting withheld from my paycheck every month and that money could be going to things I need each month (or into savings and collecting interest for me) instead of adding up and collecting interest for the government. And, really, I know he’s right. He usually always is… but, I still can’t help but get a little happy when I get that fat check back.
I mean, it is NICE.
So once that check arrives, the question then becomes: “Should I save it, spend it, or pay off debt?” You probably know what I’m going to recommend… yep, pay off that debt. It can be hard to put that money towards the debt (I know how hard that is!) but it’ll just help to get the debt paid off that much faster which is the goal, and, oh, SUCH an AMAZING accomplishment!
Debt-free living is where IT IS AT.
Today, Mary Ann is sharing what her and her husband do with their tax refund (below).
image courtesy of mary ann
My husband and I spent our early years in a cycle of spending and then every spring we would pay off our debts with our income tax refund. This is not a practice I endorse today, especially given the economic state of our country. We have worked really hard to change that dynamic and the spending cycle. Today we live within (and below) our means since we are preparing for retirement. The benefit of our debt reduction is that we have many more choices as we prepare for the small windfall coming our way once our taxes are filed.
In 2010, it was reported that the average income tax refund was over $3,000 and that is up 10 percent from a year before. Since the 2010 Tax Relief Act extends through the end of 2012 many of us will see some extra money this spring.
This is what we do to maximize our tax refund:
Apply credits and itemize
I’ve learned that itemizing deductions is the way to increase our refund check. In order to make some smart choices, I consulted the IRS calculator. This gave me a general idea of what to expect for our return and once I’ve finalized and filed our tax return we like to take the time to think about and discuss what to do with the money that will be coming our way.
Analyze debt and pay off debt first
Although we have tried very hard to reduce our debt load, unexpected things do pop up. So we survey our financial situation and organize our debts into two categories, those with high interest rates and those with low interest rates. Thankfully, we are no longer saddled with college or car loans and while our first instinct may be to use the windfall for that big screen TV or a trip to Europe that we have been wanting, we know now that living within and below our means is the only way we will truly achieve financial freedom in our retirement.
It has taken many years and a lot of discipline to get where we are today. We’ve learned that making small strides towards financial security gives us a great feeling of accomplishment.
About Mary Ann: Mary Ann Rosenthal is a grandmother to four beautiful children under the age of five. She is dedicated to helping her friends and family save money and works with her son Aaron at CyberMondayDeals.com. She is also an artist, writer and aspiring photographer living in Saint Augustine, Florida.
Thanks Mary Ann!
Are you expecting a tax refund this year? What are your plans for the money? Will you be paying down your debt or going on a splurge?
Benjamin Franklin was a very frugal man and had some extremely wise words on the subject. His frugal wisdom still apply to today’s times despite being over 200 years old!
(Benjamin Franklin also wrote a book called The Way To Wealth and there is a link at the bottom of this post to an online version of the book.)
I can relate to: #1, #5, #10, #13, #14, #16, #17, #19, #20 (SO wise), #24, #25 (YES!), #27, #30, #31, #32 (love it), #33, and #36 (touché). So, pretty much all of them. Which ones do you relate to?
Frugality (40-78) – Prudent economy; that careful management of anything valuable which expends nothing unnecessarily, and applies what is used to a profitable purpose; thrift; — opposed to extravagance
Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship
Buy what thou hast no need of, and before long thou shalt sell thy necessaries
A fat kitchen makes a lean will
Many estates are spent in the getting, Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting, And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting.
Think of saving as well as of getting: the Indies have not made Spain rich, because her outgoes are greater than her incomes
Women and wine, game and deceit, Make the wealth small, and the wants great.
What maintains one vice, would bring up two children
Who dainties love, shall beggars prove
Fools make Feasts, and wise men eat them
Wise men learn by others’ harms, fools scarcely by their own
Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen fire
A ploughman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees
Always taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom
When the well’s dry, they know the worth of water
If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some
He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing
Fond pride of dress, is sure a very curse; E’er fancy you consult, consult your purse.
Pride is as loud a beggar as want, and a great deal more saucy.
When you have bought one fine thing you must buy ten more, that your appearance maybe all of a piece
Tis easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it
Great estates may venture more, But little boats should keep near shore
Pride that dines on vanity sups on contempt
Pride breakfasted with plenty, dined with poverty, and supped with infamy
But what madness must it be to run in debt for these superfluities!
When you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty
The second vice is lying, the first is running in debt
Lying rides upon debt’s back
Poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue: ’tis hard for an empty bag to stand upright
Creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times
Those have a short Lent who owe money to be paid at Easter
The borrower is a slave to the lender, and the debtor to the creditor
Disdain the chain, preserve your freedom; and maintain your independency: be industrious and free; be frugal and free
For age and want, save while you may; No morning sun lasts a whole day
Gain may be temporary and uncertain, but ever while you live, expense is constant and certain
Tis easier to build two chimneys than to keep one in fuel
Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.
Get what you can, and what you get hold; ’Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into go
Here’s a free online version of Benjamin Franklin’s book The Way To Wealth if you’re interested in reading more.
How many of Ben Franklin’s frugal ways can you relate to?
It’s been on my to-do list for FAR too long. Cleaning out the cabinet under the bathroom sink is something I kept thinking:
“I gotta do that!”
“It’s getting out of control!”
“Ugh. I’ll just throw this in there for now.”
“I’ll definitely clean it out this weekend.”
“I thiiink I have one of those (insert whatever item here) but I just don’t know… better just pick one up to be safe!”
My poor husband Aaron doesn’t get any space in the cabinet, that is, expect for a small glass cup that he keeps some little things in. The over-flowing stacked-up and over-stuffed mess was ALL mine and I knew it.
I finally took Gretchen Rubin’s (author of the book The Happiness Project– highly recommended by the way) advice to “Tackle a Nagging Task”. I sat on the floor and just started. The excuses weren’t cool anymore. The time for action had begun.
It sounds so simple and like such common sense but JUST STARTING – meaning just taking the smallest amount of action can instigate amazing amounts of productivity.
The contents of the cabinet were all over the floor and I started to realize how many duplicate items I had. I had unknowingly been buying things multiple times because I had forgotten I already owned it!
Outta’ sight outta’ mind? Yep. Exactly.
Here’s what I found multiples of:
3 cans of shaving cream
8 (omg) bottles of sunblock
4 bars of soap (plus I have TONS of travel size soaps that I’ve been stockpiling for some reason)
4 Razor blade replacements
2 cans of hairspray
3 bottles of hair gel (I don’t even use it except for on my bangs, maybe)
4 (say what?) bottles of conditioner (plus lots of travel size ones I’m been “collecting”)
1 bottle of shampoo (again lots of little ones I’ve been saving because you just never know, right?)
4 mini promotional tubes of toothpaste
3 bottles of sunless tanner (I don’t even use it!)
2 bottles of face mask gel
1 stick of deodorant
Had I kept the clutter at bay I would’ve saved a chunk of money. Lesson learned cabinet. Lesson learned.
Adam Baker is the founder of Man Vs. Debt LLC, a company he started after he and his wife decided to attack their consumer debt, sell everything they owned (down to two backpacks), and travel across New Zealand and Australia; later, they traveled across the United States, living in an RV.
I first heard about Adam and Man Vs. Debt when we were both dubbed “Debt-Buster’s” in a CNNMoney article along with 6 other people who have taken pro-active and substantial steps to take control of their financial lives. Since then, I’ve been following all that Adam and his family is up to and it’s exciting to see all the success he’s had! His down-to-earth attitude and likable personality makes him very relatable. His story is very inspiring (and it makes me want to get rid of a lot of junk)!
Baker’s flagship website, Man Vs. Debt, encourages a vibrant community of readers to follow in his footsteps under the mantra “Sell your crap. Pay off your debt. Do what you love.” He is the creator of the premium “Sell Your Crap” guide, as well as the six-week online course “You Vs. Debt“. He lives with his wife, Courtney, and daughter, Milligan, in Asheville, N.C., where the family is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baker Baby #2 in April.
And now, the interview!
And Then We Saved: When did you begin your quest to conquer debt, sell your crap, and change your life? Was there a certain event or incident that catapulted this decision?
Adam Baker: It started for us back in 2008. We had known for a long time that we needed to wake up and pay more attention to our finances, but consistently put it off (we were masters at coming up with justifications).
For us, the tipping point was the birth of our daughter Milligan. It was the night we brought her home from the hospital that changed everything for us. We decided that we NEEDED to step up and take control and set a passionate goal to do so!
And Then We Saved: Have you been blogging about the process out of debt the entire time?
Adam Baker: No. We started our blog about 6 months into our journey to pay off our debt. I had no idea what WordPress or Twitter was when I started – and no ambitions that this would become my passion or a business that could support my family. But over the first year of sharing our journey and our approach to taking back control – a passionate community was formed. We’re very lucky to still lead this community and this adventure now fully supports my family and a small team.
And Then We Saved: Since we were fellow “Debt Busters” on CNNMoney.com, I have to ask what is your top “Debt Busting” tip?
I think people need to start with their mindset. All the “debt busting” tips in the world won’t help you if you don’t have that mental foundation.
I suggest people define what “Freedom” looks and feels like in their own life. Not some dictionary, cop-out definition that sounds good. But, rather, a deep, personal answer for what their vision of this is for their own life. Getting a clear vision of what they want and understanding what REALLY motivates them deep down will make success inevitable. At that point, they can start applying the traditional tips to speed up the process.
And Then We Saved: How have you and your family’s lives changed since you decided to become pro-active about your finances?
Adam Baker: We’re so different now, we really can’t even compare ourselves to our former life.
Even though we aren’t rich (in many people’s terms), we feel like we lead a rich life in experiences. We’re free to go and do just about anything we want (within reason). Now that freedom is a blessing and a curse at times! Sometimes a little structure can be good! But I wouldn’t trade this life for the stress and frustration of our former lifestyle in a million years! :) Ultimately, we now control our future. Which is so refreshing.
And Then We Saved: How often are you on the road, and how many cities have you traveled to since you began Man Vs. Debt?
image via man vs debt
Adam Baker: Oh man. Over a hundred cities probably, but we’ve lost count. We spent time in New Zealand, Australia, and Thailand before doing a six-month RV tour of the U.S. Right now we are spending a year (half way done) in Asheville, N.C., as we prepare for our second child. In the future, we’ll travel a bit slower with two kids, but plan for it to be a big part of our life still. We are envisioning staying in one location for 6 months of the year and traveling for 6 months of the year. But we’ll see how we like that setup. :)
And Then We Saved: What is the wildest/least expected thing that has come from Man Vs. Debt?
The thousand of lives that we’ve help inspire and change. It’s insanely humbling. I’ll never get tired of thank you emails, calls, and messages on the blog. We get all the credit for being the face of the blog, but in reality there is a deep community of people who make it possible and who inspire us. We never expected it to get this big, but are humbled we have an opportunity to share our journey with so many other people.
And Then We Saved: You’ve created an empire (Congratulations!) with Man Vs. Debt. What’s next for you and your team? What things are you most excited about for 2012?
Adam Baker: We’re excited about a lot! First, we’re excited about the next few You Vs. Debt classes; that’s our course for people getting out of debt. In 2011, we spent a lot of time and energy behind the scenes testing out it’s effectiveness and are now ready to have more students go through it! We’re also passionate about new mediums of spreading our message. These include the new Man Vs. Debt podcast (which is a blast) and more YouTube videos for our community. Lastly, we’re filming a (still secret) documentary at some point this year, which is both challenging and scary. However, there has never been a more important time to share this particular story and message – so we’re excited. :)
Thank you Adam!
Would you consider selling all of your crap to travel all over the world? How would getting out of debt or securing financial stability change the way you live your life?
Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: email@example.com. (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)
Kady of the blog A Lady Reveals Nothing got herself out of over $45,000 in divorce debt. Today she’s sharing 7 ways that she got out from underneath the debt to live the life she’s always wanted.
“I’m not a finance blogger, but five years ago I was left with $45 thousand in divorce debt. I paid it off in three years, saved an additional $18k, quit my job, and traveled the world for a year-and-a-half. I still haven’t gone back to my job. Now, I just bartend when I can, and I pick up odd jobs to save for the next big trip.”
It was like a kick to the punch in my gut. He left me, and he left his debt too. It took me three years, but I paid off over $45,000 in divorce debt. I used that momentum to save an additional $18,000 over the next seven months, quit my job, got on a plane and saw the world.
Here’s how I did it:
1. I Changed My Mind. I looked at my paycheck differently.
It wasn’t my money.
It belonged to my creditors. On payday, first I paid my bills, then I sent a big a chunk of money to a creditor, and then I saved (a little at first, and more as I went). This left very little for spending. For more on this, see Anna’s tips here.
2. I Discovered Craigslist. In my city, it’s absolutely the best way to sell things. I sold what I could in favor of cheaper items. Can you get $800 for the couch you picked out together? Because you can buy an adorable vintage number for about $250. Send the difference to your credit card company. Did he buy you a watch? A pair of earrings? Sell them. Forget making a necklace out of that engagement ring. I sold mine for $3500 to an adorable young couple. I wished them every happiness and sent the full amount to my credit card.
3. I Took a Second Job. My number one tip for new divorcees: Stay Busy. Working a couple nights a week at a restaurant or retail store will get you out of the house and your mind off the divorce. You can easily make an extra $500 a month even at minimum wage. Warning: Resist the urge to use your new discount. Dedicate every dime of that check to a credit card payment.
4. I Tackled Each Debt One at a Time. It works. I focused all of my attention on my highest-interest cards first (see this related post). When my unsecured debt was gone, I worked on my car loan. This not only made financial sense, it also helped me psychologically because it broke up my debt into smaller, more manageable chunks. When I was finally debt-free, I treated savings like a bill and loaded my account with the same veracity.
5. I Didn’t Quit. This was probably the hardest things I ever had to do. And I had to do it alone. But I kept going. I considered every payment a victory, and got a high from watching my balances get lower and lower.
6. I Started Running. I needed something to get my mind off of the grief of the loss, and the stress of the debt. I joined a running club, made lifelong friends, lost weight and finished three marathons. Find an inexpensive hobby that makes you feel good about yourself. Join a book club. Start knitting. Volunteer.
7. I never did go back to my job. Instead, I take odd jobs when I can in favor of spending most of my time traveling.
Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance? Send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and experiences should email.)
Help me help others. Through And Then We Saved I’ve been able to help others as they get out of debt (and stay out of debt). I’ve been able to show people that there are other options out there besides filing for bankruptcy and besides continuing to be overwhelmed and consumed by debt.
I like this report on “Naughty and Nice” companies that Consumer Reports just put out. They focus heavily on how customers are treated, and which companies seem to be screwing over consumers. I like this layer of accountability for companies (because you know that the companies that are on the “Naughty” list are crapping their pants right now).
We work so hard to make money, we try to get (and stay) out of debt and we try to be responsible. If I’m gonna be spending any money at all I’d like it to be with one that treats consumers right.
What do you think about the list? Agree or disagree? And, is there a company that you think should be on either list?
Start the Spending Fast November 1st along with me. I’m pausing the Spending Diet to start the Spending Fast up again to get rid of a medical bill. Do you need to get rid of some debt too? Is something hanging over your head? Or do you want to get some money into savings for emergencies? This is a great way to make some fast progress on your financial goals, and it might just be the best kind of DIY ever.
There are some really good things happening over on YouTube regarding frugality and living a simpler, cheaper lifestyle. The great thing about YouTube is that since it’s on the internet you don’t need an expensive cable package to see these mini-episodes and you can still get all benefits of learning these great tips! Another great thing about it is that you can access YouTube at the library if you don’t have internet at your house.
1. Frugal TV
This channel specializes in couponing and frugality. I watched a couple of their episodes and learned about catalinas (a couponing term), and rolling (another couponing term). They did an episode in King Soopers too which was kind of neat to see since that’s my grocery store. While I haven’t been too excited about couponing in the past watching these gets me kind of pumped for coupons.
find it here (Thanks to Scott for telling me about this one)
2. Depression Cooking
On this channel 96 year-old Clara teaches Depression Era cooking encouraging us to “Indulge in Frugality”. She is a pro at cooking on a very tight budget.
Do you have some videos that help you stay out of debt or do know or some good getting out of debt/frugal living/simple living channels on YouTube that aren’t listed? Do you have any other videos that are super funny that I’ve got to see? If so, I’d love to hear about them.
Last Friday night I started getting a whole bunch of messages on Facebook.
Like these ones:
We shot the interview a week or so ago and I didn’t know when it would air so it was a happy surprise to get the messages from people on Facebook. We only have the most basic of cable packages (so the image isn’t fuzzy) so I didn’t get to see it as it aired… ironic, right! Out went a frantic text to my family hoping someone might be able to catch it. Luckily, my dad turned to CNN/HLN right as I came on!
During the interview it was crazy to be sitting there and have Dr. Drew in my ear (via ear bud) and then to get to speak with Clark Howard too (he knows his stuff!). I kept thinking about all those years I listened to LoveLine as a youngin’ peering into the juicy details of adult lives. I thought I was pretty cool/scandalous to be hearing that stuff.
Dr. Drew showed some of the clips from when I was Clark Howard’s show and we got to speak with a woman who is 100k in debt. I wish I had more time to talk with her… there’s so much to say.
The above video was shot on my sister phone from the TV so it’s a bit rough… As soon as Dr. Drew puts up the official clip I’ll replace this one. (If you have Comcast Xfinity you can view the whole legit episode online).
Through And Then We Saved I’ve been able to help others get out of debt and know that there are other options out there besides filing for bankruptcy and besides continuing to be overwhelmed and consumed by debt.
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. Also! We're building a Tiny House and we're going to be on Tiny House Nation. Follow along!!
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