This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
Being on a year-long Spending Fast is awesome for finances but not always so awesome for the brain. It is easy to get bummed out that we can’t go shopping with our friends or buy the latest nail polish colors.
Marching out of debt requires a lot of energy, there’s no doubt about it. As we discuss here on And Then We Saved, working towards a debt-free lifestyle is not just about reducing your spending. It’s about creating additional income for yourself by getting resourceful… or let’s just go there – downright scrappy. The key is to find ways to monetize the activities that you naturally enjoy doing. Take the “free” out of your free time by sharing your passions to help benefit others and earn extra cash.
There can be a certain physical reaction you experience when you are out shopping – something that feels similar to complete euphoria when you find the oh-my-gawd-perfect-handbag or those awesome-fitting-jeans. For some people the reaction goes way deeper in that shopping becomes a high they can’t seem to live without. While not everyone has a true addiction to shopping, it can still be a satisfying experience.
Imagine no longer having the stress of worrying about how you plan to pay your electric bill. Focus on how amazing it would feel to not have to cringe every single time your telephone rings out of fear of a bill collector on the other end.
Frugality can go a long way to debt relief and getting your financial life back on track. Finding ways to save money in your daily life will certainly exercise your mind and your creativity. Frugal can be fun! Not only that but you can achieve so much more by using your powers for good.
This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
Imagine with me for a second that you are cruising along in life, adhering to your Spending Fast contract, when you suddenly lose your job. What would you do? Let’s take it a step further and say that the same day you lost your job, you also lost your house. A bit far-fetched, but just hang in there. What if in that same day you not only lost your job and your house but you also lost your romantic partner AND you had to immediately move out of the state. Your life was great and within one day, everything changed dramatically and you had absolutely no power to stop it from happening.
Welcome to the last 14 days of my life. When this article gets published, it will be exactly two weeks from the day that all of these things happened to me. My partner told me that he wished to terminate the relationship and I moved from Ohio to North Carolina. My column is about transparency and how to survive/succeed on a Spending Fast. While today should have been the day when I announce my grand totals for Month Three, life has thrown me a curve ball and the Spending Fast had to face some challenges.
How I’ve Been Surviving Unexpected Life Events During My Spending Fast…
It’s been said that if you can change one bad habit, you’re likely to change another. This list will show you how being responsible pays (literally). In just one year, watch how making these small investments or spending habit adjustments will implement lasting benefits in your lifestyle.
You can absolutely have a better life! Might as well start today!
17 Things to do Today That Will Make You Proud of Yourself in a Year…
I’m thrilled to show you this short sketch video that Becoming Your Own Bank created for And Then We Saved. If you haven’t done so already (or if you want to re-new your pledge) sign-up for the Debt Free Life Pledge right here. I don’t get anything out of you taking the pledge. I really just want you to have a debt-free life too! xo, anna
My second month of being on a Spending Fast has come to an end and I must admit that I am thankful. During the first month I was all like, “Woo, look at me! I’m saving money and being awesome.” This month has been more like, “Ugh, I really want to buy nail polish and chocolate and wine and this whole not spending thing sucks.”
I know that by writing about my journey through And Then We Saved and on my personal site, I have been able to stick with my commitment. It is so tempting to cheat and buy something small every once in a while, but knowing I will have to report back on my progress has helped tremendously. I am an extremist by nature and often get pumped up about doing things and then burn out almost immediately. I jumped into the Spending Fast with the notion that I was unstoppable and could do anything. After eating cold soup (no microwave at work) and cracker sandwiches for lunch, the idea of being on a Spending Fast has become a reality. I am so grateful to receive motivation and encouragement from all the readers who share similar experiences. It’s comforting to know I am not alone.
All that being said, it’ s time to report my month two totals. Drum roll please…
There are a few memorable TV shows that come to mind when thinking of the word cheap skate. Think of Seinfeld’s George Costanza who always tried to get everyone else to pay for his lunch at the diner and famously ordered the cheap-o wedding invitations with the toxic envelope glue. Even junior audiences have Mr. Krabs who wouldn’t let a penny hit the floor without rushing to the scene.
While we may laugh about these funny TV personalities or mock their cheapness, there is some financial logic behind their extreme frugal personalities, and it makes me wonder, “Is being cheap the key to living your dream life?” And, if it’s not THE KEY permanently, is being a cheap skate at least temporarily the key?
I think so.
How Being Cheap Is The Key To Living Your Dream Life…
Recently, I interviewed Jackie Beck who is the founder of The Debt Myth and creator of Pay Off Debt (an iPhone app that’s helped tens of thousands of people use the debt snowball method) Jackie and her husband paid off over $147,00o in debt and she is now dedicated to helping people get out of debt and really learn to love their financial life. That sounds pretty good to me! Here’s how they did it…
A Q&A With Jackie Beck- “How We Got Out of Over $147,000 in Debt!”…
This is a guest post by Chelsea who is documenting her Spending Fast here on ATWS…
After paying over $1,200 towards my $25,000 debt in the first month, I knew the following months of my Spending Fast would be tough. Initially I felt empowered and excited to pay that much towards my debt, but then doubt set in. What if I can’t even come close to that amount in the following months? What if I run out of things to sell on eBay? What if I hit a Spending Fast plateau?
I’m three weeks into my second month and while I don’t know specifics yet, I think I’ve paid around $100 this month on my debt. HOW TERRIBLE! Wait, that’s not terrible! I have a constant battle in my head that goes from one extreme to the other. I needed to find a way to calm my thoughts while remaining motivated.
It was time for a monthly payment goal! Not only are goals great motivators, they’re also awesome at putting self-doubt at bay. Originally my goal was to put $1,000 towards my debt each month. This is an excellent goal but not very realistic. Goals need to be motivational, not discouraging. At $12.25 an hour, dropping a Grand each month is unlikely. I have set my new goal at paying $500 monthly. I feel that $500 is something that’s attainable and if I get awesome and exceed it then, well, that rocks! If there has been one thing I’ve learned these past few weeks, it’s that keeping things positive is a requirement for my Spending Fast journey.
So instead of being discouraged, I’m now excited. I still have a week to earn more money and meet my goal. Last Friday, I cruised over to Craigslist and saw that someone was hiring someone to address envelopes. I met this Craigslist gentleman and was handed a bag with over 600 envelopes and a list of addresses. He also gave me over 3,400 Post-It notes to write on, if I happen to finish the envelopes.
Let’s just say this past weekend was an unusual one. I am receiving ten cents per envelope (and Post-It) I complete. While ten cents isn’t much money, ten cents times 4,000 is a good amount. Completing this project isn’t glamorous or going to make me rich, but it is going to help me achieve my monthly goal.
If you are on a Spending Fast along with me, I encourage you to make goals. After you make them, really think about if they are attainable. There is nothing worse than setting yourself up for failure. I am on this Spending Fast because I know I can create my own future. Establishing a goal and getting creative in order to meet it is going to help me get there.
Next week I will be reporting back with my Month Two totals. I hope you stay tuned!
Chelsea Overton is in the midst of her Spending Fast® and writes about it from North Carolina with her bulldog, Xena, and boyfriend by her side.
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!
As with many resolutions, made at the New Year and beyond, we start out strong towards a goal. But as time goes by and glitches in the road trip us up, we tend to lose our steam. When our path to debt freedom is sidetracked by an unexpected expense or we fall off the wagon when we see something we just ‘can’t live without!’ we tend to get down on ourselves and blow our commitment towards getting out of debt and staying there.
Staying motivated is possible for all goals – but you have to work at it.
How To Stay Motivated To Get Out Of Debt For The Whole Year…
“Don’t give up before the miracle happens.” – Fannie Flagg
It’s easy to feel discouraged when things get tough through the getting out of debt process but I have to urge you to continue on. If you haven’t started your getting out of debt journey yet, believe that’s it IS possible to become debt-free.
Please, do not give up before you start. You deserve a debt-free life so let’s kick some debt-ass together and get on with some good living!
Whoa. It’s been 3 years (as of December 29th) since I started this site as a way to document my impending Spending Fast, and I always like to look back at the previous year to take it all in and appreciate what’s happened and the progress that’s been made.
The first year (2010) was all about the Spending Fast, and I managed to eliminate close to 18k that first year (!!).
The second year (2011) was all about the Spending Diet, and I managed to eliminate the remaining debt. It took a total of 15 months to knock-out the debt that I thought I would die with.
This third year (2012) has been all about trying to learn how to spend “normally”. Some months have been super easy and other months, super terrible. I guess that’s about as “normal” as it gets, huh?
When I came across Karen Maezen Miller’s tips for a mindful home I just about lost it. All of her suggestions make sense it that, “Duh, of course!” sort of way. I particularly love the “set a timer” tip. She’s really completely brilliant.
Awhile back the lovely Charmel Delos Santos did a guest post for And Then She Saved (read her post here) and now she has written a bookcalled High Heeled Traders. I was honored (and shocked) when she told me that she included me in the acknowledgements section of the book.
High Heeled Traders discusses why women are natural traders, and how being intuitive with trends is an asset with investing.
Charmel is giving 3 readers a paperback copy of the book and she is spreading the love by giving everyone a free preview of the book here!
**This Giveaway is now closed***
Entering Is Easy! 5 Ways To Win
♥ To win a copy of the book just register on her site for a mandatory entry here and then leave a comment below letting me know you have done so.
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The Giveaway will end on Wednesday, May 2nd at 8pm Mountain Time. When you enter please be sure to leave your email address in the fields where it asks for it so I can have a way to contact you if you win.
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…
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.)
Sometimes the hardest part of anything is just starting. It can be hard to trust that you can (and will) make the right decision when you’re faced with a new way of life.
Sometimes change is super scary and unnerving.
When I decided I needed to get out of debt I didn’t have all the answers to the questions that people were throwing at me. I just decided that I was going TO START to try to get rid of some debt. By making the decision to go forward with the spending fast even though I didn’t have all the answers was really powerful.
In that moment I was telling myself, “Not only can I do this. I WILL do this.”
I want you to know that too. That living a debt-free life IS possible. Getting out of your comfort-zone can rock your world but it’s so amazing and empowering to make a decision and really go for it.
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It’s only DAY 5 but things are getting difficult. The bills have been paid and this is usually the point of the month where I go through my Etsy favorites and see what I want and then justify why I NEED it and then I simply buy it.
I’m starting realize that just because I have money in my account and I like something that that isn’t nearly enough of a reason to buy it.
Around this time of the month in the past I would find myself at Walgreens purchasing something we can probably all agree is a need, you know, something like toothpaste and then I would find myself starting to wander to the make-up aisle to see if there is any new shade of make-up I should be testing out or something else that would be some sort of miracle cure for some problem I never knew I had until I saw an item I was convinced would fix the mysterious ailment that I have suddenly acquired. Then by that point I would find myself walking out of the store with a $62 bag of crap that I really didn’t need at all and the toothpaste had been completely forgotten.
Also around this time of the month, I used to make my way over to the famously inexpensive and trendy, yet shabbily built clothing and accessory shop Forever21. I liked to see if there might be something to add to my wardrobe to make myself feel better about myself and all my hard work at the gym. After all, what’s the point of working out if you just have crappy frumpy clothes to wear? The answer is- there is no point. Health should be a good enough reason but somedays it’s just not. Then, as anyone who has shopped at Forever21 knows the item usually falls apart after a few washes and is definitely not anything that I would say is any sort of investment. Disposable is what that clothing is and that’s exactly what I was doing with my money before I started this spending fast. Mindlessly and aimlessly disposing of my money.
This whole process has made me realize that the dollar really doesn’t mean all that much to me. If it meant more I probably wouldn’t be so fond of letting it go from my grasp.
It has been really hard to shift my habits to start thinking differently about money and spending and saving and about what I do with my spare time (since I’m not finding myself in stores as much ’cause it’s not all that fun if you can’t buy anything. can I get an amen.)
Surprisingly, I’m actually feeling empowered and more willing to make the right choices financially. It could and most likely is because I feel accountable since I have said I would tell you all about any set-backs that I may have. And… I don’t want to mess up because I don’t want to tell you about messing up.
Because of the spending fast I have:
Cancelled the internet on my phone
Down-sized my unlimited text messaging package
Down-sized my fancy html email service (it’s almost free now)
Reserved some books from the library about being financially responsible (I’ll tell you all about which ones in another post)
Kept the thermostat mostly at 68 degrees
Ran out of shampoo and then found some old discarded shampoo hidden away in a back closet and have actually been using it
Monitoring how long I’m in the shower and trying not to be in there forever like I used to do
Decided that I shouldn’t be using my dryer (that is right next to the shower) as a towel warmer for my princess ass
Someone went and got crafty. You’ll never guess who.
Usually, when I start a new project and launch an idea I get a set of cards made so I can easily hand ‘em to folks if I happen to talk to them about what I’m up to. Makes sense to me.
So, since I recently started this site I found myself wanting some new cards to tell people all about what I’m up to now. Then, of course I remembered that because of this very project RIGHT HERE THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY READING that I wasn’t going to be purchasing anything anytime soon. hhmmmm. so now what?
Crazily, I started putting items together that I already had in my house. It was actually kinda fun because it made me think about the things I already had available but normally wouldn’t even think of using… cuz I’d normally just go and buy what I want. You can see who’s gotten out of the habit of being a crafty lass.
Soon, I was ripping through the recycling bin and pulling out old cereal boxes, a brown bag, and some other random cardboard pieces and other thicker pieces of paper. I pulled out some markers and scissors and was on my way to being straight up crafty. “These are gonna look great!” I thought. Until I started being crafty on the cards and they were looking a little weird and not at all good. If only I had thought ahead and KNEW I would want cards I coulda got em on 12/31! ugh. Then I remembered how I almost bought this great HUGE alphabet stamper:but refrained for some unknown reason. Ugh again. That thing would’ve so come in handy! But that’s before I remembered that uhhhh, duuhhhh, I ALREADY OWN alphabet stamps and had completely forgot about them! Once I remembered them I realized I didn’t like their “font” anymore and decided it was that or nothing so I sucked it up and started stamping and being crafty already.
There I was cutting cute roundy cornered cardboard and paper and stamping and cutting and stamping and you get the picture and the final result turned out to be the cards at the top of this post! that I actually like!
And there you have it… homemade website cards on varying shades of brown, tan and white and stamped with varying shades of brown, dark brown and bronze. There is also a special surprise treat for each card recipient… they will receive fragments of Count Chocula’s face or a close up of a Boca Chik’n patty! What lucky people!
It’s the 1st day of my year-long Spending Fast and I ironically found myself at the mall with the hub. Say what? Yeah. I know.
It was kinda like testing myself and probably way too soon. It’s DAY 1 for goodness sake!
He wanted to return something and I said “I can do this. I can handle it…” and I did but it was kind of a weird experience going there knowing that no matter what “Great YEAR END/NEW YEAR Deal” I saw and whatever I found that I couldn’t possibly live without that I was in-fact going to walk out of there item-less. Oh, poor me huh. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I did do this to myself.
Browsing from store to store I was surprised to find that through this project that I may actually be able to find myself released from the burdens of my self-imposed debt. The constant heaviness of that debt that however subtle it feels on somedays is always there. It prevents me from doing certain things and definitely holds me back. If not literally then mentally.
Being in those stores I found that I no longer had the unspoken pressure/expectation to spend. That due to the Spending Fast that expectation has been removed (at least for the moment). Ok. I proved my point. Now, can I stop? ha.
In lovely lovely Anthropologie, it was a new experience to be able to enjoy the smells and textures and the true beauty of the items. Strange. Needless to say, that was quite a different experience than I usually have in shops. Usually I am consumed with the desire to find the best thing for the best price so I can be the best at whatever I’m trying to do/look-like/whatever. The American way? Be the best-est?
I’m happy to say that I left the mall awkwardly empty-handed.
Todays experience made me realize that I have been constantly and mindlessly spending money based primarily on convenience, instant gratification, boredom and I’ll be honest… out of laziness too. It’s a lot easier to buy a new shirt or skirt than try to figure out an outfit from old stuff that I’m sick of already.
This is only Day 1 with a total of $8 spent (on oranges, cilantro and other grocery store fruits) and who knows how much saved. As I sit here freezing (68 degrees on the thermostat) with a hat on and 2 pairs of socks I’m excited to see what other revelations come into being throughout the year… however hard it is in the beginning I think it will be worth it in the end.
Back in my home town of York, pa a local film critic spent half of every review she wrote explaining why it is so awesome that she is a film critic. ¾ of the column was dedicated to her awesomeness yet the review totally stunk.
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!
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