If you’re reading this, I’m thankful for you! Stay cozy, eat tons of cookies, and if you’re thinking ahead to New Year’s Resolutions… make 2015 the year you finally get out of debt! xo – Anna
If you’re reading this, I’m thankful for you! Stay cozy, eat tons of cookies, and if you’re thinking ahead to New Year’s Resolutions… make 2015 the year you finally get out of debt! xo – Anna
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?
P.S. See all of Melanie’s Spending Diet updates.
I’m just gonna go ahead and leave this here. A little something to think about.
Is the grass always greener? Is it possible to have enough? What is it that makes us want more, more, more?
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…
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to empower the world.” -Anne Frank
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!
Go ahead and take the leap… change your life with the Debt Free Life Pledge today.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” – Melody Beattie
I’ve got so much to be grateful for these days…
What are you grateful for today?
Stop waiting for a winning lottery ticket. Go ahead, you CAN make your own luck and you can definitely make your own miracle!
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.
How We Made Our Way Through Our Debt…
“May you always do what you are afraid to do.”
It takes a lot of guts to change your life… changing up your lifestyle and habits is not easy but you CAN do it. You can do hard things. Trust me. I know these things;).
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 cannot tell you how happy I am to welcome you to the new site! Mervi (and the whole team) over at Freckled Nest has been awesome with getting the site to look the way I want. Now, the site will (hopefully;) be a lot more user-friendly.
I’m super excited to get some brand-new money-saving, frugal-living, live-better-with-less posts posted! I’ve really missed blogging!
p.s. there are still a couple of glitches with the new site design, they’re getting worked on and they should be fixed soon:)
I’ve been thinking a lot about health lately and recently had the dilemma of trying to figure out if I should stick with the gym membership or cancel it.
Maybe they’ll let me work something out… who knows. Plus, I’ve found that sometimes, just asking can be all it takes to get a deal!
Oh, and this post: 9 Ways To Stay Healthy and Fit WITHOUT The Gym totally reminds me that a gym membership is completely not necessary (especially with nice weather). So I’ve got that on the brain.
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…
Reasons To Adopt A Healthier Lifestyle Today…
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?
Have you seen this amazing list of Women Money Bloggers?!!!?!!? It’s chock full of tons of great sites! I’ve got a ton of sites to check out now.
(p.s. I’m so honored that And Then We Saved has been included in the list too;)
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
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?
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?
You’ll never believe how easy it is to cut your own hair!
How To Cut Your Own Hair – A Tutorial…
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).
Help me help others.
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.
Be a part of the goodness.
Today we’re going to make Leave-In Conditioner! This is a fun one!
We all know that there is a lot of pressure to look a certain way and to look a certain way it usually means buying certain things. Those things usually consist of clothes, make-up, and hair stuff. All this STUFF costs money and it adds up QUICK. Very quick.
I’m gonna help you cut another cost. Never again will you have to buy leave-in conditioner or detangler because you’ll be able to make your own! This is a simple and easy recipe and you can use what you already own to make it.
(You might also like this link to my dry shampoo recipe)
1. Is your hair all tangled and dried up? Mine too! Let’s get started!
2. Get yourself a spray bottle. If you have your old store bought leave-in conditioner bottle (with a pump) use that one or pull a spray bottle out of the recycling bin (be sure to wash it out good). Next, grab your conditioner. Yep, just your normal conditioner out of your shower.
3. Off come the tops!
4. In goes your normal conditioner into the empty spray bottle. You’ll want to put approximately 2 TBSP of conditioner into the spray bottle. Then, fill up the spray bottle with water leaving about 1/4 inch of air at the top.
5. Shake it all up and spritz just like you would with the name brand stuff.
It’s just about free and it works like a charm!
P.S. Spray it just at the ends of your hair so you don’t end up with a grease ball head.
Today Is The Day- To Change Your Life.
How ’bout it? Take action.
“He had heard people speak contemptuously about money: he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it.” – W. Somerset Maugham
Today an article about me and the Spending Fast hit the stands in Denver’s very own 5280 Magazine. The article is in the May 2011 issue. The wonderful Sarah Protzman-Howlett wrote the gem and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it.
Thank you Sarah and 5280 Magazine!
I stumbled across these vintage Make Do and Mend posters that were distributed right around 1943. I love them- especially the 2nd one: Use It Up – Wear It Out – Make It Do! (With an exclamation point, of course!)
I LOOVE the “Make Do and Mend” philosophy. It’s been something that I continued to focus on throughout the year of the Spending Fast and again through this year of the Spending Diet. It reminds me that my focus has stay on “Make Do and Mend Rather Than Make More to Spend More”.