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: 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.)
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: 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.)
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: 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.)
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: email@example.com. (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.
I’m doing through Create Denver with financial planner Hannah Raynes. It’s only $10 bucks (a steal) and the topic is Maximizing the Power of Your Creative Life Through Money. You don’t have to be an artist or even creative to take the workshop. It’s going to be some solid advice for how to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and finally get to living the life you’re meant to live.
It’s a good idea to sign-up in advance so we know how many people to expect but walk-ins will be allowed too.
It will be Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 9 to 11am. So come on down!
A Zombie Crawl!
Now who doesn’t love a good zombie crawl? It’s free (great!) and it’s for all ages. It will start at 2:00 in Skyline Park in Downtown Denver.
It’ll be the perfect Saturday. A responsible workshop in the morning and then a bloody walk in the afternoon. It’s all about balance people.
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.
With this online tool you can imagine that you are one of the 14 Million Americans who are unemployed. The music doesn’t help the depressing tone of “the game” but’s insightful all the same to see how you’d fair given the choices.
There are also options that you can access that allow you to make a little extra money by: selling plasma (I used to do that in high school for $25), smashing your kid’s piggy bank, or getting a pay day loan.
Click on the image above to see what choices you would make.
Well, I suppose Month 8 was technically “complete” like 13 days ago seeings as how this is the 13th of September and all but hey, here it is. Ripe for your viewing pleasure.
In August, I saved $387.35 (the Spending Diet remains far harder than the Spending Fast. In my opinion I suggest going for the gold, cutting through the B.S., getting through the tough transition/getting used to it part, reaping more benefits, and getting out of debt faster by cutting off your excess spending cold-turkey and just do the Spending Fast already. The Spending Diet allows discretionary spending which for me, was easier to cut out completely while I was changing my thoughts around money. I suggest using the Spending Diet method after the Spending Fast to gradually ease back into normal spending habits at the completion of the Spending Fast but that’s just what has worked for me).
Which brought my grand total of savings to $25,543.86. Which is kind of completely nuts. Remember, this money was saved by working my average paying day job as a clerk for the state, by spending on “Needs” only, by reducing the amount I spend on “Needs” even more, by creating additional income by thinking of creative ways to utilize my talents and skillz (yes, a Z- you know I had to), by selling all the junk and crap I no longer use, need and/or want, by starting the momentum of getting debt paid off, by writing about all of it to keep myself accountable, lots of other stuff that you can read about in the archives of the blog, but probably most importantly I finally learned how to tell myself “No”… and my word, that took long enough to get.
I didn’t do anything magical to get out of debt that you can’t do too. I’m going to write a post soon about all the reasons I hear about why people say they can’t do it too and I’ll tell you why they-you can. It’s gonna be juicy so stay tuned.
If you’re curious about the complete break-down on my savings and the respective monthly disbursements that have happened from Day 1 of the Spending Fast throughout 2010 and into 2011 through this years Spending Diet (which goes up to this very day) then you can see it all on the Total Savings page.
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.
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.
Wanna hear something very cool? More and more people that I am close with or that I see every day are telling me about some things they’ve been doing recently to get some serious debt paid off. I’ve never pushed the Spending Fast on anyone close to me (at least I hope not) because that would be annoying and wouldn’t work anyway. I’ve let them do their thing while I did mine. I figured if anyone in my life decided they were done with being in debt they would know that I would help by telling them how I did it, how it worked for me, and that I would have their back when things got tough.
I still can’t help but be secretly overjoyed when they tell me what they’ve been doing to get rid of debt. I say “secretly overjoyed” because I try to contain my excitement for them so they don’t get weirded out by my enthusiasm. It’s hard to contain my excitement and passion for the Spending Fast because I KNOW it works.
Here’s what they’ve been doing(!):
One person I know has doubled their payments every month towards their college loans
One called me while thinking about purchasing a car and decided to hold off because the purchase ultimately didn’t align with their long-term goals
One person started taking the bus to work everyday
Someone else I know is re-thinking how they put together outfits so she can avoid going shopping
Another person determined that they were addicted to shopping and is seeking help for the addiction
Some of these are bigger than others but they’re all taking action and doing something towards the process of debt removal.
Why wait to have a better life? If you’re sick of having debt you can be free of it. It may take a longer or shorter amount of time than it took me and it all depends on how drastic you go, how much debt you have to start with and how much additional income you generate. There may be some differences between your situation and mine on the surface but I urge you to pay attention to the similarities. It can be done.
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.
This weekend one of THE best free things is happening here in Denver. So if you live here in Denver hook yourself up and go to Doors Open Denver. If you don’t live in Denver, then maybe your city has something like this? And, if they don’t you should convince someone powerful to make something like this in your city. Just sayin’. It’s pimp. In a good pimp way, not a bad pimp way.
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”.
Coupons have always been a little mysterious to me. When I think of coupons I think of a long envelope style plastic binder with separators in it and bunches of little pieces of paper organized by category.
Like this one. Yes! Just like this one:
I think about sitting on the floor tearing along the perforated lines ripping out the little pieces of colored newsprint paper. Oh, and it would start on a Sunday morning and last all day.
I seem to have some semi-suppressed childhood memories bubbling up.
The whole coupon acquistion process seems to take a VERY long time for not that big of result. I see the end result as: me with a bunch of name brand items I wouldn’t normally buy and maybe 25¢ off the one thing I normally would buy.
With coupons my “Time or Money” philosophy comes to mind. If you’re not familiar with my “Time or Money” philosophy it just means: you’re gonna pay for it with your time if not your money or your money if not your time. So you have to decide which one you wanna spend because you’re gonna be paying one or the other.
After seeing all sorts of buzz on Twitter last night about this show called Extreme Couponing (youtubed it since we only have the most basic of basic cable – so we can get clear reception – and we don’t get that channel) can only make me assume that my past couponing technique has been all wrong.
That show looks INTENSE. If I was gonna coupon I think that’s the kind of couponing I could really get behind.
You know, since moderation isn’t really my thing. Have you noticed?
Do you use coupons? Do you think coupons are worth the trouble? How do you manage them? What’s the most you’ve ever saved? What do you think about this show? Did you see it?
(While I’m away visiting a lovely friend, I’m reposting some content from my archives. This one was originally published on February 9, 2010).
One of the best things about this Spending Fast process has been the possibility of getting to a point of being autonomous and not owing anything to anyone. How great would it be to not owe money to credit card companies, school loan companies, banks or parents?
Oh. It. Would. Be. Amazing.
For me, autonomy is about being personally independent. The reality is if you’re accepting money from someone they get a say in how things happen. Or, at least they’ll think they get a say in how things happen which can sometimes render more grief than if they actually had their way. Really, I’m finding that I can’t be all that independent if I’m financially dependent on someone or some bank or some line of credit.
That line of credit, that “bail out” is just a big fat white collared anchor attached to your leg; a ball and chain that has good grammer and has been looked over 20 thousand times by a lawyer charging $300 bucks an hour; it’s someone jumping out of a plane with no parachute and asking you to hold their hand on the way down. Geez. that’s more depressing then I intended it to be.
If you need to borrow anyone’s money, have ever borrowed anyone’s money or currently owe anyone money the people/businesses probably have a say (or want) a say in how things go down. Who doesn’t know a father that gave money to a daughter for her wedding but put stipulations on that money? They want a say in who can and can’t be on the invite list, if you are allowed to live “in sin” before marriage or not and even if alcohol is served at the reception or not. Or what about the gift that is given with strings attached? If you haven’t ever been given money or a gift with strings attached than you are probably in denial to the whole situation while everyone talks about it behind your back or you are a lucky chap who also just so happens to be a leprechaun with a pot of gold at your beck and call.
Really, money brings up all sorts of feelings and expectations for people and how people spend money shows where a persons priorities lie in life. So, then that brings up feelings and emotions and deep down things that we thought we had already talked to death about but turns out, we hadn’t dealt with it like we had thought.
Autonomy is a concept that came into my world a few years ago. Never knew what it meant before then because I never had a reason to care. And I didn’t decide to act on it until now. Since now I don’t want to owe anyone anything. I want to be free of that. I want to be self-governing. I want to be able to make decisions based on my best interest and not what is in the best interest of the people or organizations that I owe money to. I want as many financial strings as possible to disappear.
This Spending Fast is helping me get to a place of autonomy in the long run. It’s hard to remember all this when I’m in the moment and want to buy something that would make my life easier for the moment.
My motto has always been “You either spend time or money” and now, I’m spending the time to get my stuff in order and paid off and develop a life being autonomous.
I must admit I’ve been reading it slowly since I usually check out about 5 books and a movie or two all at the same time from the library. The first part of the book has really struck me. In a lot of ways it’s in the same vein as what I’ve been trying to do with the Spending Fast and the voice of the book is similar in a lot of how I feel about money and life and it all being a complete unit working together and that ones financial life isn’t set apart in some separate compartment doing it’s own thing. Some of the pages seem to be plucked right from my very brain. They nailed it in a lot of ways. I kept finding myself thinking “Yes!”, “Yes! totally!”, and “Oh yeah, that’s exactly how I feel”, and “Well, said!”, and “THAT’S what I’ve been trying to articulate”. So far, it seems to be a good match. I haven’t started the 9 step process and am not looking forward to that but we’ll see how it goes, I may not decide to even do them. Most likely, I’ll take what works and leave the rest.
The part from the beginning of the book that I’ve really been struck by are the diagrams (see below) and concept behind the Evolution of the Fulfillment Curve: Enough. I remember before the Spending Fast (and even now) there was never enough. I would buy the item of my desires only to have that desire replaced moments if not seconds later. What I had just bought, what I had just thought would make my life perfect and complete wasn’t enough. It was never enough. My wants and made up needs were insatiable.
Online I found the diagrams. The below information is re-posted from this site.
The Fulfillment Curve (see inset illustrations) shows the relationship between the experience of fulfillment (vertical axis) and the amount of money we spend — usually for more stuff (horizontal axis). In the beginning of our lives, more stuff did indeed mean more fulfillment. Basic needs were met. We were fed. We were warm. We were sheltered. When we were uncomfortable, when we cried, something came from the outside to take care of us. Our needs were filled. We survived. Our minds recorded each such incident and remembered: Look outside yourself and you will be fulfilled.
We then went from bare necessities (food, clothing, shelter) to some amenities (toys, a wardrobe, a bicycle) and the positive relationship between money and fulfillment got even more embedded. Remember your excitement when you got your Captain Midnight Decoder Ring or baseball mitt or Barbie doll? If our parents were being responsible, they soon taught us, “Those things cost money, dear. Money that we go out and earn for you — because we love you.” We got an allowance to learn the value of money. We could select and purchase happiness ourselves! And so it went, year after year.
Eventually we slipped beyond amenities to outright luxuries — and hardly registered the change. A car, for example, is a luxury that 92 percent of the world’s population never gets. For us, however, our first car is the beginning of a life-long love affair with the automobile.
Notice that while each new acquisition may have still been a thrill, it cost more per thrill and the “high” wore off quicker. But by then we believed that money equals fulfillment, so we barely noticed that the curve had started to level out. On we went into life. House. Job. Family responsibilities. More money brought more worry. More time and energy commitments as we rose up the corporate ladder. More time away from home. More to lose if we are robbed, so more worry about being robbed. More taxes and more tax accountant fees. Therapist bills. Remodeling bills. Just-keeping-the-kids-happy bills.
Until one day we find ourselves sitting, unfulfilled, in our 4,000-square-foot home on 2.5 wooded acres with a hot tub in the back yard and Nautilus equipment in the basement, yearning for the life we had as poor college students who could find joy in a walk in the park. We hit a fulfillment ceiling and never recognized that the formula of money = fulfillment had not only stopped working but had started to work against us. No matter how much we bought, the Fulfillment Curve kept heading down.
There’s a very interesting place on our curve — it’s the peak. Part of the secret to life, it would seem, comes from identifying for oneself that point of maximum fulfillment: ENOUGH. Enough for our survival. Enough comforts. And even enough little “luxuries.” We have everything we need; there’s nothing extra to weigh us down, distract or distress us, nothing we’ve bought on time, never used and are slaving to pay off.
Enough is appreciating and fully enjoying what money brings into our lives, yet never purchasing anything that isn’t needed and wanted. It’s a powerful and free place — the launching point for cultivating the kind of fulfillment that money can’t buy. When personal needs and wants are fulfilled, our locus of interest expands. We seek to address the needs and comforts or family members and friends, then our community, our nation, our world. Our personal freedom allows us the opportunity to be concerned for others, our surroundings, and our affect on the world as a whole. In short, we find the freedom to devote our life energy to participate in the larger circles of life. We call this participation SERVICE.
When we recognize ourselves as part of a larger whole, the entire picture shifts. We are not “just one person.” We are part of Life – one thread among millions in this unfolding that is already whole.
When we do, we see opportunities where before there were only obstacles. We find hidden talents and hidden reserves of energy. We begin to know ourselves as sufficiently creative, noble, industrious, wise and wily to get the job done. Through a commitment to service, we learn right relationship with all of life – how we “fit,” what we’re “fit for” and what choices are “fitting.” Service to others and to the planet provides the perfect tempering environment wherein individuals of real mettle are forged. It is the obvious and essential follow-through for people who have taken the first step of personal lifestyle change.
Today, I went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription and I found my old demons tugging at me. It’d be so much easier to not have to spend any money on anything. I find myself running into problems and bigger temptations when I’m spending money on something on my “allowed” list. (see “The Guidelines”)
The hardest part of the Spending Fast has been just changing my habits… so much of it is habit, habit, habit. Like, “Oh, I’m hungry after the gym/work so I’ll just go pick something up to bring home for dinner” or “I’m bored, I’ll go take a look in this store” or, “The bus is taking too long… I’ll go over to the coffee shop and get a little something” or, “I’ve been working so hard and I deserve a little treat… something new, yeah”.
This is a habit that is taking a bit of time to break… really a lot of rearranging of my thinking as been happening. The thing I’m really looking forward to at the end of this 1st month is being able to see how much money I can put into savings and how much extra money I can put into paying off my credit card. I’m hoping that will make these tough times worth it.
So, I know some of you are thinking “Well… you’ve got to spend SOME money this year don’t you!?” and my answer to all of ya’ll (imagine that with a southern twang) is “Yes, I will have to.” Oh yeah, I’ll HAVE TO. Force me why don’t you.
I imagine that this will kind of be like a person who is in Overeaters Anonymous who must still eat but can only consume the “right” stuff. Where it would be a whole lot easier if you could just eliminate it completely from your life.
The goal of this whole spending fast is to get my spending back on track, save some money and get rid of a lot of the clutter and time sucking that comes along with having a lot of stuff and buying the new stuff. Managing it, maintaining it, cleaning it, rearranging it, you know.
Plus, I want my priorities to go like this: people and relationships are #1 and I don’t want things to be at the top or even close to the top of the list. Where as now, that can become questionable sometimes.
Setting up my priorities like that makes sense.
Obviously, situations will happen this year that I won’t be able to predict, so I’m gonna have to weigh those unexpected situations and remember that my motto has to be “Make Do and Mend” rather than “Make More and Spend, More.”
Ok. So. Here is the brutal break-down of how things will be going down this year:
My Wants and Needs List…
What I will have to spend money on:
Utilities (keeping lights and water off as much as possible; keeping the thermostat at 68 and wearing a hat and long johns inside, if needed)
Cell phone (taking the internet off of it- that’s unneeded)
Food (store bought, off brands, in season fruits and veggies and only when I run out of stuff in cupboards)
Gym membership (local gym, it’s reasonable and health is important)
Photography exhibits (done inexpensively)
Hair dye (hey, I have needs)
What I’m NOT spending money on:
Gifts (sorry friends and family… homemade crafts or re-gifting will be happening. Hopefully you all like macaroni magnets.)
Coffee at coffee shops (sad face)
Clothes (remember: “Make Do & Mend!” and in honor of that I need this. haha!)
Etsy stuff (another sad face)
New business cards (I have a bad habit of getting new ones because I like a different design better)
Coats (see Clothes above)
Fancy html email service (down-sizing it)
Decorative house stuff
Fancy haircuts at fancy hair shop
New music from itunes
There you have it. There’s no way it can be completely comprehensive but I think it’s a good start.
And, my new name is Mrs. Cheapskate. Nice to meetcha’.
Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Let's do this!
Disclaimer: All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. And Then We Saved makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is on an as-is basis. Spending Fast® is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.