It’s that time of the month where we get to see how all the hard work we’ve been doing with the Spending Fast and Spending Diets have been paying off! Today, I’ve got both December and January’s Collective Savings amounts!
In December we saved $19,547.95!
In January we saved $22,087.81!
That brings our Collective Savings total to $952,779.11! Um. That’s amazing! Almost a million dollars paid off/saved because of doing Spending Fast/Spending Diet!??! SO AMAZING.
Not sure what I’m talking about with this “collective savings” talk? Welllllll… if you have been thinking about getting out of debt but haven’t taken the leap yet why not do it today? Here’s the link to the Get Out of Debt Pledge. You can change your life by getting the heck out of debt ASAP then get on with your life. Finally getting out of debt is THE BEST gift you could ever give to yourself, and having the weight of the debt lifted is one of the most incredible feelings ever. You can absolutely have a debt free life too! Then, after you’ve saved/paid off some money even if it’s just $1 be sure to go to our Collective Savings page. There you can log your savings and have your hard work added in with everyone else’s!
This is a guest post from Laura. Laura is an engineering student from Vancouver, B.C. She can usually be found in an electronics lab or under a pile of yarn. Sometimes both.
My parents supported me all through university. But when I moved from Vancouver to Prince George eight months ago to start a co-op position, I was (temporarily) cut off and had my first real taste of financial independence. (Note to all American readers: a co-op is like an internship, except they have to pay you.)
I was dealing with a much larger income than I had ever had before, but I also had financial responsibilities that I wasn’t used to, such as buying groceries and paying rent. Since I’m not the sort of person who likes diving into things without a plan, I turned to the world of personal finance to figure out what I’m supposed to do with all my money.
I found a lot of helpful advice, but the bulk of what I read wasn’t working for me. I’m in a unique situation: I don’t have any debt, I don’t currently have a car, and my rent in Prince George is about half what it normally costs in Vancouver. If I followed the usual advice of saving 10% of my net income, I would have a huge amount of spending money left over, but it would be an artificially inflated amount.
I felt I could either use my time in Prince George as an opportunity to get used to a lifestyle that I wouldn’t be able to afford once I moved back to my beloved but grossly overpriced hometown, or I could build up my savings. (My super-frugal dad will be proud to know that I picked the latter.)
I decided to shoot for saving 50% of my net income because it was:
A large enough amount that I would have to be mindful of my spending and exercise self-restraint on occasion
A small enough amount that I wouldn’t have to subsist on rice and ketchup
An impressive sounding number
So far it’s been a success — I’m proud to say that next week I’ll have deposited $10,000 into my savings account. I feel like I’ve come a long way in the past eight months. I now know that I am capable of taking care of myself and managing my finances responsibly. And I have come up with a strategy that works for me, one that I hope is general enough to help others who are just starting out.
Today we’re sharing Jim’s story. He’s a fellow Coloradan and he became a minimalist by default. Below is his story… – Anna
Not wanting to work with my soon to be ex-wife and her soon to be next husband, I took a new job some distance from home. I spent the following two months getting that home ready for sale. When the Colorado snow moved in, an hour commute became well over two. Needing to be at work on time I bought a zero degree sleeping bag and began sleeping in the back of my truck between shifts. I boiled down my life to exist out of my truck and eliminate the commute. Small bag of clothes, toiletries, a cooler. This was only supposed to be temporary. A means to an end. Sell the house, find a place closer to work and start over.
Start over buying all the stuff I was now getting rid of. Get rid of the couch, then eventually buy a new one. Dump the TV, buy another. Kitchen supplies, those too. I have seriously lost 3 or 4 meat thermometers at the end of relationships. This was my plan, get rid of everything then ‘start over,’ trading my future labor to do it. Growing up in New Jersey in the 90s this is what I learned. You get married, then divorced, then lose half your stuff, then spend the next several years buying the stuff you lost, then do it again. It was common and I thought I was no different.
Last month, I wrote about how we were going to start a prepaid card grocery budget experiment in an attempt to get our ever increasingly out of control grocery budget under control. We’ve been doing the experiment for a month now, and today, I have an update for you on how things have been going.
At the beginning of the month I transferred the designated grocery budget amount onto the card online. That amount was $250. The one-time $3.95 fee for the cost of the physical card was deducted from our balance along with the $7.95 for the monthly fee of using the card (the fee would be $5.95 if we were directly depositing our paycheck…). That meant our starting budget went from $250 to $238.10.
Let’s talk about some of the PROS and CONS that we’ve encountered so far with using this system.
It’s a great feeling to knock out debt and build up your savings.
But it’s not such a great feeling to overcome buyer’s remorse when you find that you’ve bought yet ANOTHER thing that you just had to have, only to realize you didn’t really need it.
So how do you stay on track with your Spending Fast when you’re tempted to “fall off the wagon” and when life’s temptations creep up on you and start whispering those familiar sweet nothings into your ear? Read More »
It’s Tax Day — a notoriously un-fun day. But what if debt or other life events have been making you feel down on other days too? Quell any feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness by continually seeking out reasons to be a little more content each and every day. Feeling down can affect your finances in ways you may not even realize. For instance, when you feel down do you really want to make the effort to bag a healthy lunch or do you want to get the quick fix? I always go for the quick fix when I’m feeling shitty. What about when you’re not feeling 100% at work? Do you want to do what it takes to go the extra mile, and take your business to the next level or to be a super nice team-player? Nope. See, feeling good really does impact how much you make, how much progress you make each day, and how your employees and co-workers see you. So, if you’re feeling down, here are 17 pick-me-ups that you can take advantage of.
There’s no doubt that boredom can creep in while doing a Spending Fast or Spending Diet…especially when we don’t have our usual boredom relief “go-to’s” that we used to use pre-Spending Fast/Spending Diet (shopping, eating out, partying, etc.). See how Melanie is tackling this obstacle below, and follow along with all the Spending Fasters here. – Anna
I’m about nine months into the Spending Diet and I must admit, at this point, I am getting Bored (with a capital “B”). I’m chugging along and gritting my teeth smiling through it, but for the past couple of months I’ve felt like throwing up my hands and yelling, “F*** this! We’re going to Costa Rica!” I’ve never been to Costa Rica, but it feels like somewhere tropical and warm could solve all my problems.
Fortunately I’ve been on the Spending Diet long enough to know that spending more money, even if it is on an amazing trip, isn’t going to solve all my problems– in fact, it might create more problems. But the travel bug has got me bad. What’s a girl to do?
Well, I don’t know if it was a moment of weakness or a moment of clarity, but my husband and I went on a little weekend getaway. I had just finished planning a conference at work. It’s probably the biggest, most stressful thing I’ve ever done– even more stressful than planning my wedding or changing jobs or deciding to stop renting and live in an Airstream. And I know it’s dangerous to think this way, but I deserved to get away. Read More »
If you’ve visited the site this week you’ve probably noticed a cool new thing up there at the top of the site. That right there is the total amount of money that has been saved/debt that’s been paid off as a result of doing a Spending Fast or Spending Diet. That amount is the total from all the readers! I went through all the older and recent emails that I’ve received along with all the posts on this blog, tweets, Facebook messages, Facebook posts, and Instagram comments (all of it!) to get the total amount of debt paid off. Now, of course, this is subject to human error and there’s no way it’s going to be 100% accurate since everyone is self-reporting, and since I don’t have a staff to fact-check but I think we can take it for what it is, and be happy with the slightly imperfect, but completely encouraging and inspiring amount of debt that we’ve all paid off as a result of the Spending Fast/ Spending Diet. If you’ve somehow communicated to me an exact amount of debt you’ve paid off then that amount is included above. If you’ve contacted me with a success story (those are the best, btw! I live for those!) but didn’t tell me an exact amount than it’s obviously not included in the total because I wouldn’t know the amount to include.
On the 1st of every month I’ll update the total at the top of the site to show our collective savings. All you have to do is comment on the Collective Savings page with how much you’ve saved/paid off as a result of your Spending Fast or Spending Diet. You can report back everyday, every week, every month, or at the end of the year. Then, I’ll tally it all up so we can all see the total amount we’ve saved.
It’s so incredibly inspiring to see how much all that hard work has been paying off and to see that the Spending Fast and Spending Diet really work, and it’s really changing lives. Every single penny that’s getting paid off is one more step closer to the Freedom Land!
And, with that, I would like to introduce, Jennifer, who will be sharing her Spending Fast story with you as she goes. The ups, downs, struggles, successes… all of it. I hope you enjoy following along, and that you find motivation and encouragement in these posts to see that getting out of debt crazy fast is totally possible! And, maybe, you will find that you want to change your life and become a Spending Faster too!
Also, while the site is primarily read by women I’d love to include a male Spending Faster’s experience through and out of debt. If you’re a dude and interested in sharing your story send me an email: email@example.com – Anna
Hi all! My name is Jennifer and I just turned the BIG 3-0 last month! If that’s not a birthday to make you think about where you’re at in life, I don’t know which is! I made the decision to take out a mortgage for a house almost a year ago, here in Florida. Currently, I have a roommate and three dogs living with me. I make a living as a Production Artist at a publication company.
My total debt is 16,027.84 not including my mortgage. This what makes up my debt: I have $4,584.95 (started as 6,000) in credit card debt that I racked up in college by not living within my means. (I was paying my bills with a job I had but I was living off credit cards. It’s been following me around since 2010. I don’t even want to think about how much money I have wasted on interest!) I also have a car loan of 11,442.89.
My goals for the Spending Fast are to, first, save an emergency fund of $1,000 (this differs from what Anna did btw); pay off my credit cards and my car loan. The last few years I have gotten better with my spending habits, but it’s turned into a sort of yo-yo effect of doing good and then erasing the good by doing bad. The time has come to just get it done and I need your help to keep me held accountable throughout this process. With your help, the support of my friends and family, and a boyfriend who is on board, I can’t think of a better time to do the Spending Fast, than now. I want to not only pay off my debt but have a substantial nest egg for me to be able to have more freedom and time in my daily life to do something I really enjoy, whatever that may be.
Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her October update for us below. I’ve got to say, I am SO incredibly proud of her! I love that she’s chosen to change her life, and whoa. Just whoa. It’s so awesome how much she’s been able to save in such a short amount of time. This is what the Spending Fast and Spending Diet is all about. Getting the hell out of debt ASAP. – Anna
After the roller coaster of money emotions that was September, I was hoping for more stability in my savings for October. And the good news is that with my second job’s back pay, I was able to save $1,400 in October! So good, right? Well, yes and no. I managed to save $1,400 which is $400 over my savings goal, but I still went over my $100 Spending Diet limit. (Insert sad trombone.)
In some ways I’m super proud of myself. I saved $1,400 in one month. ONE MONTH! Let’s go ahead and get personal, that’s over half of my paycheck (after taxes and insurance is taken out). But I’m ever the perfectionist and as much as I try, try, try to stay positive, I always seem to be a glass half empty type of gal. Why didn’t I save more?!?!
Well, there’s a few reasons:
1. I managed to get some great deals on pants at the thrift store, but I have a wedding to attend and I didn’t feel that I had an appropriate dress to wear. Could I have borrowed something? Maybe. Could I have found something cheaper? Maybe. I did use a coupon and I felt like I got a good deal, but I still spent money that I didn’t allocate to spend.
When I added that dress to my online shopping cart, I also added a skirt and a top. I justified that I could wear them to work and it was “Buy two, get one free!” It was a moment of weakness.
2. I forgot my lunch a few days this month and I had to go to the grocery store at lunch to pick something up. That was kind of unavoidable, but the nitpicker inside of me wants to say “But you should have backup snacks in your desk at work for this situation!”
Nitpicker be damned! I’m proud that I’ve managed to save over my savings goal this month. I know this holiday season is going to be difficult though. My $100 Spending Diet includes gifts. I’m currently formulating a plan for holiday spending that includes coupons, starting my shopping early and handmaking what I can. And as always, I’m trying to stay positive.
How will you, my budget-friendly friends attack your holiday spending? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! -Melanie
Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her September update for us below. – Anna
After the air conditioning fiasco of August, I yet again recommitted to saving more through the Spending Diet. And September was all about recommitment. This month I recommitted by pulling my $100 out of the bank at the beginning of the month and sticking to it.
There was a lot of temptation, don’t get me wrong. The weather is changing and several pairs of my pants were threadbare. You could literally see-through a pair of my work pants– embarrassing and definitely not work appropriate. I also didn’t want to blow my entire $100 bucks on one pair of pants. So I visited my local thrift shop and invested a whopping $19.41 on seven (count ‘em), seven pairs of pants. It reminded me of how much fun it can be to search among the Spongebob pajamas and Aunt Edna’s knick-knacks for gold.
I’m all about saving money, but I’m also all about the living small. We live in an Airstream, for god’s sake, so I love a good purge. This month my husband and I also made a little bit of money by selling our wares at the flea market. And what we didn’t sell, we gave away to a thrift store. I’m feeling much lighter and more committed and renewed to the saving cause.
With all that done, I also tackled one of the hardest things on my to-do list in September. I cancelled my (kind of) expensive gym membership. I had said I would cancel my gym membership to offset my cost of groceries, but I really didn’t want to do it, so I had been putting it off. I hated signing my gym cancellation papers, I felt poor and ashamed, like I had somehow failed. But it was just one of those hard cuts that I needed to make to get me closer to my dream of owning a house. With my gym membership cut, I’ll be saving almost another $1,000 per year. I’ve also been trying to keep my spirits up by looking on the brightside and working out at home. (I, of course, turned to this article on on ATWS about Losing Weight Without a Gym.)
This month was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Saving can be hard on the emotions sometimes, but overall I feel good about my decisions. I managed to save $1,200 this month which is a little over my monthly goal! This month also reminded me of how important it is to recommit to savings on a monthly, weekly, daily and sometimes even hourly basis! To remind myself of my ultimate goal, I like to keep little pictures around of my goal. I keep a picture of a cute cottage in my wallet. That little reminder has definitely helped, but I’m looking for more ways to remind myself of my savings goal.
What little reminders do you use to keep you on track?
I’m so happy Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us! I’ll let her take it from here. xo, Anna
Hi ya’ll! My name is Melanie, I write over at Love Library, and you might remember me from some of my guest posts here at And Then We Saved. I try to save in all aspects of my life, from my wedding to my living situation. Currently, my husband, George and I live in a vintage (and paid-for!) Airstream trailer. It’s a little unconventional, but we make it work. We moved into the Airstream to get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and so George could focus on his art work. We’ve now saved enough to get us out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. We have an emergency fund, George had a chance to really expand his business and we’ve even had the chance to travel.
But I also realize that for us, living in the Airstream for the rest of our lives isn’t going to be a viable option. I love the ol’ Airstream, but I can’t imagine hobbling around our humble abode when I’m 80. After all our hard work, I also don’t want to plunge ourselves into 20 or 30 years worth of debt either. (Even if it is good debt and all that jazz.) My dream is to pay for a house in cash. Sound insane? Yeah, it is insane. But I have delusions of grandeur and the Spending Diet is going to help me reach those goals.
I started the Spending Diet on July 1st, 2014 and I am hoping to continue it for a year minimum. I chose the Diet instead of the Spending Fast because I don’t do so well when I feel too constrained. For instance, If I’m told I can’t have cookies, I’ll eat ALL THE COOKIES. So for one year, I will be giving myself an allowance of $100 for the wants on my list. My husband gets his own $100 allowance. We don’t share so well.
First up is the Needs List, you might notice we don’t have rent or water. We live rent-free in our Airstream that is parked on family land and we have well water. Our cars are also paid off.
Internet (my job and my husband, George’s job requires it)
Food (from pre-paid CSA only)
Gym membership (local gym, it’s reasonable and health is important)
Medicine (prescriptions and off-brand over the counter stuff)
Car and motorcycle insurance
Gas (Busing isn’t an option where I live)
Art supplies (for George’s job)
Website hosting costs (very low)
The following is my Wants List. I listed many of the same wants as Anna. I put my big vices in italics. I love a good coffee shop coffee, expensive food (hello, Whole Foods!) and heading into a craft store feels like Christmas morn to me.
Travel (le sigh!)
Coffee at coffee shops
Self-improvement stuff (e-books, e-courses, etc.)
Pretty much anything else
So, that’s it. Each month I pull out $100 in cash from my bank account and when that’s done, it’s done. I’ll be updating you all each month with my progress. Talk to you soon! Melanie
Hi there, I keep getting emails about the Should I Buy It Decision Card not working from the original post (sorry about that!) so rather than emailing it to you all individually (which I would totally do;), and have been doing) I figured I’d try uploading this again so hopefully it will work smoothly this time. Here’s the new Should I Buy It Decision Cardlink. (When the new page opens just click on the link again.) There are 2 – 5×7’s on 1 – 8×10 page so you can keep one and give one to a friend or keep them both and put one up by your computer screen for when you what to shop online and put the other one around your wallet, on your mirror, or save it as the wallpaper for your phone so you always have it with you. xo, Anna
The Spending Fast method for getting out of debt is usually portrayed in the press and articles about me, and the blog, as being a super easy, and quick way to get out of debt. And while it IS a VERY quick, and efficient method (especially in relation to other methods), and while it IS simple, it is not easy.
While it would be amazing to be able to take a pill or snap your fingers to get out of debt instantly, it doesn’t work that way. And, we all know that. It takes time, and effort to do anything worthwhile, much less to get out of ALL OF YOUR DEBT!
To paraphrase the saying, time is going to pass whether you take the chance or not.
The other night I was at a local Financial Blogger meet-up and got to talking with Michelle Jackson of The Shop My Closest Project. Michelle is one of those people who just draws you in with her good energy and enthusiasm! Turns out, the night I saw her just so happened to be the very last day of her year-long “Fashion Clothing Fast”. Kind of amazing, right? So, naturally, I had a humongous list of questions for her! Rather than talking her ear off all night with questions we set up an interview and she answered all my questions.
Interview with Michelle Jackson on Her Year-Long Clothing Fast…
And Then We Saved: What did you do and why did you decide to do it?
Michelle Jackson: I decided to do a year-long No Shopping Challenge. I specifically focused on my fashion spending because I felt like it was a little out of control. I also liked the idea of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. I absolutely love fashion so if I could give that up for a year, then I could handle anything!
ATWS: How did you choose the year-long timeframe?
MJ: I’m not sure why I decided on a year. It just felt like the right amount of time for this particular challenge.
ATWS: Did you prepare for your Clothing Fast? If so, how?
MJ: The only thing that I did to prepare was purchase a ton of underwear, and socks! I actually bought so many of both that I still have new items that I’m pulling out from last year.
ATWS: What did you think your Clothing Fast was going to be like and did it go the way you thought it would? Was it better or worse/harder or easier than you anticipated?
MJ: I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting. I thought I would experience extreme amounts of irritation throughout the year. I also thought that I would experience deep feelings of longing for certain items. Instead after the first couple of months I just got into “the zone.” I just wanted to succeed at this challenge because I needed to experience a “win” when I hadn’t experienced one in a long time.
ATWS: How much did you save by going on a Clothing Fast?
MJ: It’s hard to say exactly but I’m pretty sure that I saved between $3,300-$4,000.
ATWS: Did you ever “slip up”?
MJ: I’m quite proud to say that I never slipped up! However, I did have a moment where I needed something new. Luckily, I had a friend who was giving away bags of clothes so I ended up getting some nice new sweaters during winter. I think if I hadn’t received those sweaters, I would have definitely purchased something.
ATWS: Did anything surprise you about not spending money on clothes?
MJ: I was surprised at the amount of time that was freed up by not shopping. I also was surprised at how annoyed I got by the size of my wardrobe. I found that I had too much stuff. So I gave away about ½ my wardrobe. I also found that the clothes I had been purchasing for years didn’t make me feel good about myself. They were my “I’m feeling stuck in life and am gaining weight” clothes.
Prior to the challenge I had really begun working on my life and exploring how my choices were making me feel about myself. By the end of the fast I hated most of my clothes and couldn’t wait to purchase clothes that reflected how good I was feeling about life in general. I wanted: color, fashionable items, classic items, and items that were ethically made.
ATWS: Was it hard to come up with outfits?
MJ: Not really. The only difficulty was dealing with how long winter lasted. So, I ended up cycling through my winter gear far longer than I would have liked.
ATWS: Was there anything that you were dreaming about buying throughout the year? If so, how did you deal with that desire to buy?
MJ: I really wanted to buy a cream-colored, cable-knit sweater. I wanted one so badly. I buy myself one every year and last year was the one year I didn’t. I dealt with it by sucking it up and dealing with it. What else could I do?
ATWS: So your Clothing Fast recently ended. What was the first thing you bought and how did it feel? Any guilt? (I know I experienced some after my Spending Fast.)
MJ: I had a list of items that I knew that I wanted. I ended up going to the Buffalo Exchange and purchasing some fantastic used clothes (about 20 pieces) some of my favorite items included: a lace tunic (my favorite), a grey cocktail dress from Goodwill, and FRYE boots (those were on sale). I didn’t feel guilty about shopping, but I did feel a little weird and nervous. I was afraid I’d spend too much and now I have a very strict process and budget for fashion shopping so it really has become a process of spending consciously.
ATWS: What has your Clothing Fast taught you? How will the experience change the way you shop and think about money going forward?
My Clothing Fast taught me that every single dollar you spend is important. I really didn’t think I was spending a lot until I did the Fast. I am also very committed to spending ethically, buying used, and supporting goods manufactured in the U.S.A.
ATWS: Would you recommend a Clothing Fast for others?
MJ: Yes. But, maybe not for a year ☺
ATWS: Alright, So what are your top 3 tips for having success with a Clothing Fast?
1. Have a clear “Why”. If you’re just doing it to do it, you probably won’t succeed.
2. Be content with what you have. If you’re not content, then you will crave items to fill whatever void that needs filling in your life.
3. Buy lots of underwear before you start. Seriously.
ATWS: Your story is really inspiring! What’s next for you?
MJ: I keep toying with running a half marathon. But, the thought of running one exhausts me mentally. We’ll see. I’m crossing things off my list and that has been on it for a while.
Thank you Michelle!
What do you think? Do you need a Clothing Fast? What would be the hardest part of doing a Clothing Fast for you?
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
When I came across this quote that Muhammad Ali said I instantly thought about the Spending Fast and how it can sometimes suck during the process of it but it’s completely life changing throughout it and after it. I’m all about a little suffering now in the name of being debt-free forever. How about you?
You have to get up every morning and say to yourself, “I can do this.” Because, you can. Getting out of debt and changing habits is hard… there is no doubt about that but it is possible to live in a new way!
Happiness cannot be owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is a spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.
That might sound like a tall order but if we can stop and be grateful for what we have then we’ll stop trying to hunt down material items so be can have more and be better. It’s okay to just be. You’re right where you’re supposed to be at this very moment. Even if you’re in a shitty place mentally, emotionally, or financially take a second to think of 3 things that are going okay with your life. Now, do that for the next 2 weeks and you’ll dramatically improve your quality of life, and it’s totally free.
Living frugally and saving money when you can are skills that should be applauded, but when you cross the line from frugal to “cheapskate” or even worse to “miser” – it’s probably time to reconsider your financial strategies. Now, don’t get me wrong, being a Cheapskate with a capital “C” can be a good thing but you know what they say about too much of a good thing…
7 Signs That You’re Turning Frugal into a Dirty Word (and Becoming a Miser)…
1. You Look For Ways to Skip Out on the Tip or Part of the Bill
If every time you go out to eat you look for poor quality meals or service in order to find ways to get a discount or justify the lack of a tip – you’re not being frugal, you’re just being a miser. You don’t have to accept poor service, but if you make it a habit to find something wrong with your meal hoping to get a discount, or skimp on the tip because the waiter was a little slow to bring your refill – you’re going too far. (You might like this post: A Dilemma – Out with a Group and They Want to Split the Bill Equally)
2. You Never “Buy a Round” or Give to Others
If you go out with friends and enjoy it when they buy a round for everyone but you never do the same, you’re a miser. Not everyone can afford to buy a round for a group of people, but if you accept a free drink or meal from a friend repeatedly and never repay the favor by at least buying that person a drink or meal – not only are you a miser, but you’re not a very good friend! Remember life is about give and take, you can’t always take. You might be surprised how good it feels to be the “giver” once in a while.
3. You Skip Required Maintenance for Your Car or Home
Sure, you might save a few bucks by skipping the oil changes or not getting new brakes when they start squeaking, but the lack of maintenance is going to cost you a whole lot more in the long run. Not only that, but skipping home and car maintenance can result in safety issues and puts you and everyone around you at risk for injuries or health problems.
4. You Only Ever Think About Money
It’s clearly important to think about your financial situation and to be proactive with saving for retirement – but if you can’t seem to think about anything other than money, you’re probably starting to go off cheapskate charts. You shouldn’t cause yourself anxiety over buying a pack of gum at the gas station once in a while, especially if you have been responsible with your money and aren’t carrying loads of debt.
5. You Cause a Scene in the Checkout Line Just About Every Time You Buy Something
Does something take over you when it’s time to pay for your purchases that causes you to bully the cashier over coupons or discounts you think you are entitled to? You should be persistent if you have a coupon that should be accepted at the store, but if it causes you to become disrespectful and downright rude to try and get your savings – you’re a miser.
6. You Control Your Family or Partner By Withholding Money
If you are in charge of the family finances and routinely deny your family members access to money, you are a cheapskate with some serious control issues. If you’ve ever said “No, you can’t have money” for something your spouse wanted because your spouse upset you earlier with a non-financial issue – you may even be crossing the line to emotional abuse.
7. You Criticize Other People for How They Spend Money
It’s not really your business how other people use their money, but if you find yourself criticizing people for spending too much money or telling them they waste their money – you’re a miser. Criticize people long enough and you’ll stop getting invitations to spend time with the people you criticize!
‘Don’t give up!’ It’s a mantra you may have heard throughout your childhood and even now that you are an adult. I know I even say here a lot. I find myself thinking, “What if someone just needs that little push to keep going?!” So I say it and write it often.
Whenever you set goals or aspire to do something for yourself, you may run at it full steam ahead but as time passes you may begin to fizzle out in your enthusiasm.
Since we’re right on the cusp of the New Year let’s consider the phenomenon of New Year’s resolutions. There are tons of funny puns about keeping with these resolutions because of the common knowledge that many resolutions go out the window in just a few months’ time. Gym memberships surge in January but die off in April when people find it hard to stay committed to life changes due to everything else going on in their lives.
To stay on course for goal achievement you first need to set reasonable goals. You need to start simple and build on different steps over time in order to achieve the ultimate goal. For instance, you don’t just say you are going to be rich in a year because it’s not a reasonable goal. You first plan to save $100 a month for six months and take the necessary steps to ensure that hundred dollars is available each month. When that goal is achieved, increase the amount to save more money within the year until you are more financially secure and can aim for higher savings goals.
Realize time is necessary to change your habits. It is believed that it takes 30 days of doing something regularly for it to become habit. You have to ease in to life changes to some extent and it will be the hardest in the beginning. Realize this upfront and you will go into the change with the right expectation. As an example, when you begin to exercise regularly, it’s really hard starting out because of sore muscles and fatigue. But the more you improve your physical fitness over time, the more energy you have and the stronger you feel.
The same concepts ring true with money. It can be really hard to stop spending money, to stop heading out to the mall for fun, to stop Googling online sales deals. But after you incorporate better financial management plans and activities into your life, it will get easier! The more positive results you see will make the changes easier to cope with and stick to for long into the future.
For me, the secret was learning how to say “No” to myself. I love to spend money and if I can step out of the cycle of overspending and guilt to finally get myself out of all my heavy debt then you can too!
What’s your plan for staying motivated with your goals for the next year?
Fears are a part of daily life. We have big fears and little fears of average and extraordinary things. While fear is a natural part of human existence, it can be the one blocker that stops you from success and achieving great things.
Here are 25 ways to conquer the fears that scare the crap out of you so you can keep moving onward and upward…
“Never trade what you want most for what you want in the moment.”
It’s so easy to go for the quick option… to pick up coffee on the way to work (or ahem, a breakfast burrito) instead of making coffee at home, or to go buy something new at the mall when there’s an event coming up instead of wearing something you already own.
I’ve found that changing your life and your habits is all about delaying what you want right this second (new clothes, lunch out, etc.) for what you want long-term (an end to the cycle of guilt, no more freaking debt). I know, way easier said then done but it really is so worth it.
You deserve to be debt-free, and you deserve to have the life you’ve been dreaming about. xo, Anna
2013 wasn’t a year I expected it to be. In late 2012, I graduated with my Master’s, started my doctorate, and began a new job—my dream job. The new job lasted for only six weeks before I was laid off. Then I began several miserable months of unemployment. During this time, besides wallowing and fervently searching for a job, I had to go overseas for family reasons. Luckily, I had some savings for the unexpected trip, and there I was—traveling to the other side of the world with just a small piece of luggage and handbag. While overseas, not only did I have my mind off of disheartening unemployment, but I also turned to minimalism.
Disorganization is a normal part of most everyone’s life. With our crazy schedules and only 24 hours in a day, many people say they never have the time to get their act together. While it is a common enough though process among the masses, the reality is people that claim they don’t have the time are actually guilty of not making the time.
We may not all live a life of a chronic hoarder but there are certainly parts of our lives that could use some serious organization. The trouble with making strides towards putting things in their proper place is many people just have no idea where to start. The thought of beginning something new is so overwhelming to many, they just do nothing.
I’m all about efficient and versatile products so the more I learn about Branch Basics the more of a fan I become. Have you ever heard of a cleanser that is so effective that you can use it on everything from your stove to your face!?! I hadn’t either but this is it folks.
Also, since we have a baby on the way I’m really into products that are not full of chemicals. I love that Branch Basics is not only non-toxic, but human-safe, which means not harmful if accidentally swallowed and not irritating to eyes and skin so it is perfect for everyone… I love that I can easily pronounce every single one of the seven ingredients with ease.
Eliminate Products by Streamlining
Branch Basics outperforms virtually all home and body cleaning products so this means 100’s of products can be eliminated. Which is completely awesome. By using such a versatile product you get to simplify your mind and life and you get to streamline the way you clean both your home and body.
How many times have you bought cleaners like stain removers, mildew/mold cleaners and jewelry cleaners only to use them once or at the most intermittently? These various cleaners take up space, and waste money since they’re used so infrequently.
Cost Breakdown of Concentrates
The strength of the cleanser (and ultimately the cost of the product) is completely dependent on how much you dilute the product.
Branch Basics comes in 3 concentrate sizes: 32 oz, 128 oz (gallon) and a 5-gallon pail. Although the go-to dilution is 1:5 (1 part Branch Basics and 5 parts water) for virtually all cleaning jobs, it’s actually highly encouraged to dilute even more since Branch Basics is just as effective. (Cleaning streak-prone surfaces have been shown to work at a 1:500 dilution!) And, of course, this saves money: at a 1:10 dilution, the price is cut in half!
The 32 oz concentrate (retail: $27.50) is the least economical, however it still makes 6 All-Purpose spray bottles (32 oz) once diluted, each costing $4.58. At the And Then We Saved 20% discount (use coupon code ATWS20), each bottle comes down to $3.66.
The Branch Basics gallon (retail: $83.68) which is the most popular product, makes 24 All-Purpose spray bottles (32 oz) once diluted, each costing $3.49. With the And Then We Saved 20% discount, each bottle comes down to $2.79.
The Branch Basics 5-gallon pail (retail: $355.05 is the ULTIMATE SAVINGS. It makes 120 All-Purpose spray bottles (32 oz) once diluted, each costing $2.96. With the And Then We Saved 20% discount, each bottle comes down to $2.37. This is more than enough to clean an average family’s home for one year.
For tough cleaning projects you mix the Branch Basics cleanser concentrate 1:1. This covers: ovens, bathtub mats, drains, it works as a heavy degreaser, furniture refinisher, odor and stain remover, it removes oil spills and spots, and it even removes permanent marker.
For more all-purpose types of cleaning projects you mix the cleanser concentrate 1:5. This covers: all of your appliances, countertops (granite, marble, and tile), dishes, oven, pots and pans, refrigerator, sink, your stinky disposal, stove, bathtub, stubborn soap scum, toilets, bikes, cars and boats, diaper pails (yay!) dry erase boards, engines, exercise equipment, garage floors, grills, high chairs, jewelry, patio furniture, tires, toys, and even yoga mats. Interested in making the face wash I mentioned? It’s a simple 1:3 ratio in the foamer.
It does sound too good to be true, but after seeing how well Branch Basics works, I’m excited for you to try this versatile and effective green cleanser. It’s completely changed how I clean.
Get 20% off by going to Branch Basics and enter coupon code: ATWS20 (Good until the end of October!)
This is a sponsored post but as always, my opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make this site possible! xo!
I heard this really powerful saying the other day. So powerful that I felt compelled to go up to the lady and talk to her after she said it. She wrote it down for me so I wouldn’t forget it. She wrote it on a napkin; that napkin in the picture :)
“What I had, I spent. What I saved, I lost. What I gave, I have.”
I think that saying meant so much to me when I heard it because it showed me that while we talk so much the technical aspects of saving money and getting out of debt on this site that really what has become the most important piece of keeping myself out of debt, and to avoid having those bad money habits creep back into my life is to share the real and personal stuff about how I got out of debt.
What I learned throughout the years of the Spending Fast and Spending Diet is not mine to keep to myself, to hoard, to be selfish with. Sharing and giving what I know is what it’s all about. It’s also why I love it when you all tell me and the other readers what you know about saving money and getting out of debt in the comments and in the Community section. I know I don’t know it all, and I always, always learn so much from you all. Feeling sappy today for some reason… xo, anna
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.
I had struggles before the thought even crossed my mind to get out of debt, obviously during the getting out of debt process the obstacles continued, and even today being on the debt-free side life isn’t all struggle-free. I think it’s easy to think that life will be instantly perfect when we’re debt-free but those old habits that got me into debt in the first place still show up once in a while. Recognizing the patterns and habits is the best way to start addressing them and making changing, and believe me, I constantly have to re-evaluate my spending and attitudes around money because I don’t want to slip back into my old ways again. Getting out of debt was hard enough the first time and I definitely don’t want to do it again!
How do you figure out your limitations and how to tell them to get back in their place so you can live the life you’re meant to?
Setting out to achieve goals is no doubt, noble. If you want to get out of debt, eat out of your fridge every day, work out, or just be nicer to others you absolutely can but goals will not complete themselves without work on your end. In order to be successful at reaching your goals, you must put forth the effort and keep finding ways to remain motivated in your quest.
Here are 27 ways to help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself…
“We must let go of the life we’ve planned to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell
In a lot of ways starting the Spending Fast was scary. It was super exciting but also kind of, a little bit scary. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I only knew that I could no longer go on living the way I had been. I knew I had to change my life and to change my life I had to let go of some of my old ideas. I had to let go completely to my old way of life. I had to be open to the possibilty that life could be better. That life could be different.
Once I let go my life changed. I decided to make one decision- do the Spending Fast, and that’s when my life changed. You can change your life too. You can let go and see what is waiting for you. I dare you to give it a try. You deserve the freedom that comes from being debt-free. Trust me, it’s a great way to live. I want you to be free to live that awesome life that’s waiting for you.
The term ‘Cheapskate’ is not always thought of in a good light. However, in light of the economy and the need to consider your future financial situation, becoming a cheapskate is not an unreasonable goal to set. Whether you call yourself cheap, thrifty, frugal, budget-conscious, money-wise, or financially smart it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you are pro-actively saving cash you will need down the road.
Many people try to live by the motto of ‘live without regret’ but it is almost inevitable that someone will regret at least something from their past. In some cases, that regret can make it very difficult to keep moving forward with their life. They dwell on the past and suffer the regret daily.
In order to live a life of progress and growth one must learn to forgive one’s self and look towards the future rather than be consumed by regrets of the past.
By not spending as much time thinking about material objects we’re freed up to think about, and act on the more substantial, meaningful parts of life. This is the perfect time to finally forgive yourself.
21 Life Mistakes You Need to Hurry Up and Forgive Yourself For Making… Read More »
Most the time I like to think that I’m immune to bad spending habits because of my success with the Spending Fast buuuuttt, turns out, I’m completely not immune to anything. Even though I’m not impervious to slipping back into my old ways one big side-effect of the Spending Fast is that I do recognize my bad habits a lot quicker, and that is totally worth something. Before where I might have gone oh, you know, like 6 months without balancing my checkbook it’s just not something that I would let happen these days. Now, on the worst of months I balance my checkbook just once a month (and by balance my checkbook I mean that I input all incoming and outgoing expenses into the Balance app on my phone, make sure things match up, that I know where my money is going, and that everything is as it should be).
I can recognize my bad habits faster and I’m no longer in denial (or completely oblivious) about them like I used to be. That’s growth and change; that’s a good thing.
So, I’ve got to admit something that happened recently (I find there is a lot of worth in stating what’s going on because it makes whatever might be troubling you lose it’s power- no matter what it might be).
I found myself really looking forward to these breakfast burritos that I can get at this little place on the way to work. They encourage calling ahead, thank you profusely when you do, and then you just go about your business, food in hand. They make the whole process so easy.
So naturally, I decided this was a super handy and delicious was to start the day.
I realized that for quite a few mornings in a row I was dropping over $5 at this place (I decided a small coffee was also a handy and delicious was to begin the day). I started to think about how much money this breakfast burrito habit of mine was going to add up to come months end and knew that I had to hurry up and cut it out already. A breakfast burrito here and there is just fine but every day? Totally expensive and unnecessary.
The calculations have been tabulated and at the rate I’m going I’m looking to spend approximately $341.25 this year on breakfast burritos alone. Uhhhh…
How I’m Breaking My Breakfast Burrito Habit (these will work for other habits too. Just adapt them to your situation)…
“Having everything that catches your eye is not all it’s cracked up to be.”
One of the main things I learned on the Spending Fast was that buying everything that caught my eye wasn’t really as awesome as I thought it was. I wasn’t able to see this clearly when I was in the habit of buying everything but when I stepped out of the buying cycle that’s when the clarity came.
During the Spending Fast I found I got more freedom and more happiness when I said, “No” to material items I lusted after then when I indulged in them. Now isn’t that somethin’?
If you’re in the thick of the spending and over-spending cycle do you think you might find freedom from getting out of the cycle too? Believe me, you can change your life right now if you want to.
One hot summer evening in Auburn, Alabama, stuck to the laminate booth of a crowded restaurant, I cried over a bowl of linguini as I let my best friend know that I would be transferring colleges; and when Anna broke the news to her husband, Aaron, about her decision to go on the Spending Fast he simply responded, “This is gonna suck.”
Making a big decision, especially one that changes your lifestyle, welcomes scrutiny. Drastic resolutions tend to conjure up mixed reviews; purely because most people feel uncomfortable with change. Here at And Then We Saved, we understand that sometimes the hardest part about change is sharing it.
Here are 11 ways to tell your friends you’re going to have a new frugal lifestyle…
Money mistakes are pretty common even among those of us that practice good personal financial management methods. In some cases, the guilt from a money mistake can linger and end up causing even more mistakes. A cycle of bad money decision and mistakes can quickly cause problems in your finances so it is best to recognize the mistakes you’ve made and make a commitment to moving on and doing better in the future.
I made a bulk of these money mistakes before I decided to change my relationship with money and sometimes the guilt from those past decisions haunts me still. By deciding to be pro-active about my money and money-related decisions I’ve been able to change negative thoughts regarding money into positive ones. Luckily, we can get past these mistakes and move on with our lives!
18 Money Mistakes We’ve All Made and Can Totally Get Past…
Just when you think about giving up, remember why you’ve held on for so long.
Need a boost? Bring up whatever you’re struggling with financially here in the Community area. Trust me, you are not alone.
Need a kick in the pant’s kind of boost? Read through the Debt Free Life Pledges. These people have some serious hope and motivation, and they believe they can change their lives. I believe they can change their lives too. I believe you can change your life too. Do you want it bad enough? That’s the only thing you need to decide.
This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
Wowza, the end of Month 4 is here! It feels like it has just FLOWN by. I am now settled into my new life in North Carolina and must say that it is absolutely amazing. I have a new apartment which has a dog park so my bulldog Xena is happier than ever. I have a new job that I am extremely challenged by and there is tons of room for growth and advancement. I have finally found a career instead of a job! My job is about 30-45 minutes (depending on traffic) from my house and my car crapped out so I had to buy another one. My old car was with me for 10 years and it was time to let her go. Although I now have a small car payment, I was able to find a car that should last me many years and will definitely get me to work safely. I am fully back on my Spending Freeze and it feels great knowing that I will have reliable transportation for a change. Talk about a stress relief!
I have successfully completed my 4th month on the Spending Fast and I am happy that I was able to pay more towards my debt than last month! Unexpectedly moving from Ohio to North Carolina kinda put a dent in my ability to pay towards my debt, but I am happy to say things are back in action. Without further delay, here are my Month 4 results:
Starting debt: $24,996.98
Total starting Month 4: $23,502.54
Total debt paid during Month 4: $297.83
New debt total: $23,204.71
While this month wasn’t as amazing as what I was able to pay in Month 1, it was still encouraging! Things are on the rise and I am motivated more than ever! My new job had two weeks worth of training which took up basically all of my brain power. This week is my first week actually doing my job so I will have the evenings to focus on generating more income for debt payments! I am excited about the future and about getting one month closer to being debt free.
If you’re on a Spending Fast and have been struggling, stay postive and encouraged! You will always be moving in the right direction as long as you keep on truckin’.
How are you doing in your journey towards financial freedom? If you are already debt free (congrats!), what are the financial goals you’re working towards?
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.
Contentment is all about being okay with where you’re at and not wanting everything you don’t have. Really, I know there is no way I can be happy if I keep thinking about everything that’s not right or perfect in my life. The key to happiness and contentment for me? Wanting what I have, and being okay with where I’m at in life. For me, I have to accept life for what it is. Easier said than done some days but it’s a process, it’s not about doing it perfectly… xo.
What are you glad you have today? What makes you content right here, right now?
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…
Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Also! We're building a Tiny House and we're going to be on Tiny House Nation. Follow along!!
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