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?
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…
“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 We 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.
For Additional Entries You Can
♥ Follow me on Twitter (@andthenwesaved) and/or Facebook, and then leave a separate 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: email@example.com. (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)
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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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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