Seriously, ATWS readers are BEYOND inspiring. Check out this success story from Brenda…
My 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in July 2014, which as you can imagine threw us into a tailspin. Our entire family (7-year-old son included, who has ADHD—so the change was challenging for him, too) underwent a total lifestyle change as we learned how to best manage my daughter’s blood sugars. I’m pleased to report she is a happy, playful, healthy little girl who has adapted beautifully.
Needless to say, the cost of her management came as a bit of a shock. My husband and I each bring home decent pay, yet money just seemed to disappear. So, I got serious. I tracked where every dollar went and I tried your Spending Diet idea.
My twin sis, Kelly, has her Spending Fast update for you below. I think she’s doing so awesome with it, and I’m extremely proud of her! If you’ve thought about doing a Spending Fast before why don’t you make 2015 the year you do it? It’s time to get out of debt once and for all, and get on with living the life you’re meant to live! You can do this! – Anna
I’ve messed up a lot since my last post, mostly with eating out. I knew that would be a trouble area for me going into the Spending Fast, and I was right. But, overall, the Spending Fast has not been as hard as I thought it was going to be, and I’m making progress faster than I thought I would. Anna mentioned this before, and I’ve found it to be true too. It’s starting to get fun to NOT spend money. It’s like a game or a challenge to see how much throughout the month, and I like seeing how much MORE I can save.
Even though I haven’t conquered the Eating Out beast yet, I am starting to really SEE how much it’s been costing me and it’s kind of disgusting. Delivery is such a supreme waste of money. I’ve realized that a typical lunch out costs me approximately $10. Before the Spending Fast, I didn’t realize that I can get SO MANY groceries for that amount! Since I made that realization, every time I’ve eaten out it just feels bad and so wasteful. Time and time again, I’m seeing that when I end up eating out it is ALWAYS because I just didn’t plan ahead. It’s like, why am I surprised that I need to feed myself a few times throughout the day? Whatever. I just have to be gentle with myself. This is a completely different way to deal with money so it’s not going to change overnight. And I am getting better at it.
I mentioned in a previous post that I needed a haircut and the plan was that I was going to use a gift card that I had. Well, the gift card ended up being MIA so I cut my own hair using Anna’s How to Cut Your Own Hair tutorial. I used craft scissors (because that’s what I had handy), and I really like how it turned out! It’s actually closer to what I wanted for my last hair cut than what the stylist gave me. It turned out well but then I got a little over-confident towards the end and decided to cut in a few “face-framing” layers and messed up a little but when it’s tousled in its Alexa Chung way nobody is the wiser.
Realizing how easy it is to cut my own hair it makes me wonder why the hell have I been spending $150 for a cut and color all these years…?!!? I know that a good cut can do amazing things, especially on short hair, but for me, with my longish hair, I think that after this Spending Fast I’d be willing to get my hair done professionally once, maybe, twice a year, and then in between cuts I’ll just trim it myself, as needed. Also box color works fine to cover my roots and it turns out that my highlights still show through which I didn’t expect so hey, bonus on that too!
Melanie is here with an update on her Spending Diet progress, and she is absolutely killing it! – Anna
With the holidays here, the Spending Diet is getting harder and harder. I was hoping to spend my allotted $100 Spending Diet budget on gifts, but that didn’t go as planned. I stuck with my budget of $100 for my Spending Diet allotment and but I also spent an additional $100 for gifts, and that’s not what I intended to do. It’s becoming harder and harder to resist temptation.
I don’t usually go shopping. At all. I stay out of stores to resist temptation, but the holidays have forced me to go into stores (coupons in hand) and actually shop. During a recent shopping excursion, I bought a fleece jacket as gift for myself. I had a coupon, it was a super discount and I used my Spending Diet allotment, but had I not gone into that store, I would have never known about that jacket.
I know what you’re going to say at this point– I could make all the gifts. I’ve told myself that several times. But craft supplies cost money too and as a working girl with two jobs, I have a time budget. There’s only so many hours in the day and making beautiful gifts for almost 20 people isn’t my priority. My budget (and my family!) is my priority. Yes, I’ve planned to make a few gifts, but the majority have been or will be purchased.
And yes, I know that the holiday season isn’t all about consumerism. It’s about spending time with the ones you love, spreading joy, helping others in need and eating way too many holiday cookies. I plan on doing all of the above and spending lots of time with my loved ones (whether they like it or not!), but I also would like to show my appreciation through a token.
This month I’ve been fighting a bit of an internal battle. I want to be giving and I don’t want to be selfish, but I want to stay on budget. I want to save for me and for my future. This month has also forced me to think about my struggle with perfectionism. I try my best at everything in life. My perfectionism has helped me in certain aspects in my life, but with budgeting, my perfectionism often tells me that I’m failing. I managed to save another $1,000 this month and that’s amazing. I’ve saved $5,600 in just 5 months. A couple of years ago, I saved nothing at all. This holiday season let’s all tell perfectionism to get off our backs, ok? We have a budget, but we’re not going to beat ourselves up about it. Can I get an amen?
Month 5 Savings: $1,000
Started the Spending Diet: July 1, 1014
Savings to date: $5,600
How do you let perfectionism go, and be happy with your accomplishments even if they fall short of your goal?
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 August update for us below. – Anna
If you remember, I went over last month’s spending diet allowance. It was so much harder than I imagined! In August, I committed to do better. I immediately took my $100 cash allowance out of the bank when I was paid and I stuck to it. But lo and behold, we had an emergency. Our air conditioning system stopped working on one of the hottest days of the year. And when you live in a tin can in the South, going without air conditioning is not an option.
Don’t emergencies always seem to happen at the most inopportune moments? Just when you think you’re doing better saving (or in life) BAM! something comes along to knock you down. Luckily in the past year, George and I have managed to get an emergency savings fund together. I consider 95 degree heat an emergency, so we had to dip into the emergency savings to fund a new air conditioning system. I really hated to do it, but I can’t sleep in that kind of heat, my husband can’t work and my poor pup was just plain uncomfortable.
I did experience some buyer’s guilt. I thought things like: “People for thousands of years went without air conditioning!” “It’s already August, it will be fall soon. We will only have to suffer for another month!” “I can’t spend $300 on a new air conditioning system, I’m on the spending diet!!!” But after a few days without air conditioning, I was whistling a new tune and I was ready to dip into those savings. Let’s just say that sweating immediately after stepping out of the shower is not a fun experience. I’m not happy about it, but sometimes life is going to get in the way of a savings diet or savings fast. I just feel lucky that we had an emergency savings account to dip into.
Next month I plan to sell a few things in order to build my emergency savings account back up. I also signed up to teach a class for extra pay and for the first time ever, I’m receiving a small raise. (High fives for me?!) I know that I can get back on track with my savings but emergencies, man, they are really cramping my savings style!
How do you build your savings back up after an emergency? Let me know in the comments!
Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her July update for us below. We’ll get August’s update up before you know it, and then we’ll be back on track in no time for September. I’m telling ya, we’ve got a plan, folks. She’ll take it from here. xo, Anna
Ok, so first things first, this was so much harder than I imagined. I went over my allowance of $100 in the first two weeks! I am ashamed and to be honest I was a little shocked. (I feel like I’m such a saver!) But I learned from my digressions and I’m ready to get serious.
I went $100 over my spending limit in July for two reasons:
#1 – I didn’t immediately get cash out of the bank at the first of the month like I said I would.
Hey, I’m lazy and I hate making trips to the ATM. Instead, I told myself I’d just write down what I spent. What a joke. If I’m too lazy to go to the ATM, I’m too lazy to write down everything I spend. Now at the first of each month, I am vowing to get out my $100 spending budget and stick to only spending cash on my “Wants.” I’m also leaving my debit card at home so I can’t be tempted by that trickster. (I’m keeping my credit card on me for emergencies.)
#2 – I was too strict with my food budget.
I just simply didn’t budget enough for food. I hate buying food even though it’s a necessity. I thought by giving myself a super strict limit, I would spend less. Wrong! I spent more because I ran out of food and had to make extra trips to the grocery store. I’m going to give myself $50 more to spend on food each month because a girl has to eat. To even out the budget, I’m cutting my gym membership. I love it but I don’t use it often enough. I ordered some infomercial DVDs a while back and I’ve been hitting those harder than I ever hit the gym.
I still managed to save $1,000 this month which I consider a success. I also got real with myself. Looking back on this month, I realize that I spend more money than I should going out with friends. Instead of going out with friends, I’m going to convince my friends that we should cook at home– even if that means I do all the cooking! I’ve even started fermenting my own wine which has been super fun and much cheaper than wine at a bar or restaurant.
I have high hopes for next month. I’m taking on a side job to earn more income and I took out my $100 allowance as soon as I got paid.
Here’s to hoping next month’s spending diet report looks better than the last! Melanie
A few months ago I went to New York City to shoot a couple of videos for PNC Bank’s new website. It’s pretty cool how the videos turned out and to see the paper illustrations mixed in with each instructor’s talk. My fellow instructors were Luke Landes of Consumerism Commentary, David Ning of Money Ning, and Galia Gichon of Down to Earth Finance.
I was a couple of months pregnant when the videos were shot but I wasn’t telling anyone at that point. I squeezed my bloated, nauseous body into a pair tights that the production team picked out for me and I tried to keep it all together. I had big plans to wander around New York City and go to Donut Plant and to see Stefan Sagmeister’s The Happy Show Exhibit (remember that time he kissed me? that was fun) but do you wanna know what I did instead? I stayed in the hotel room to sleep, be near a toilet (for any renegade barfing that might occur), and to watch a marathon of whatever was on Bravo. Since we don’t get that fancy channel it sounded like a perfectly sane way to spend my time in New York. And it was, totally was.
My 2nd video is called Setting Goals to Save More and will be released before the new year. I’ll let you know when they post that video. All the videos are solid and have a ton of useful info. I hope you get a chance to check them all out. xo, Anna
I have been on a spending diet for the past 20 years. It started abruptly when I was laid off from work the day after I found out I was pregnant. There’s nothing like seeing your family’s income cut in half to motivate you to tighten up your budget. The spending diet became permanent eight months later when my husband and I decided I should stay home with our new daughter.
Now, that same daughter is a sophomore in college and her sister will be a freshman in August. My husband and I aren’t wealthy and we have some work to do for retirement, but our daughters will graduate with little to no debt because we were able to scale back and save for their education.
A lot of you are at the beginning of your journey to financial health. It may feel like it will be impossible to maintain a 20-year spending diet. Not only is it possible, somewhere along the way you reboot your wants and needs. At some point in the journey the diet becomes the norm. The more you save, the more motivated you become to find new ways to save.
I may sound positive and cheerful about it now, but trust me there were times when I felt like I was missing out. It’s hard to watch friends enjoying the outward expressions of financial success while you’re being practical and saving for multiple college educations.
About 15 years ago our closest friends both bought large, expensive homes. They were getting promotions, spending tens of thousands on furniture and decorative improvements. My husband was also getting promotions, but we chose to sit tight in our starter home and continue to save.
Six years ago we finally made the move. It was pretty bad timing, but because of the size of our down payment our mortgage is not under water. Our home is valued at more than we paid for it and we’ve ridden out the financial downturn pretty well. If we had allowed our egos to lead us into a home purchase before we were ready I honestly do not believe we would have fared as well.
Nothing we do is extraordinary. We exercise patience and we use as much common sense as we can scrape together when making financial decisions. We find joy in simple things and we relish experiences rather than things.
Here are five tips we used that helped us curb the urge to spend…
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
When I was on my Spending Fast® and Spending Diet I wanted nothing more than to pay off my debt, and I wanted it done quickly! I had opportunities where I could’ve taken advantage of the situation and put my dishonestly accrued “savings” into paying off the debt. Desperate times, call for desperate measures, right? And when you are very serious about saving money, living frugally and/or paying off debt – you may find yourself tempted to steal or do other bad acts in an effort to reach your financial goals. I’m curious would you steal? Would you not tell the cashier if he accidentally forgot to ring up something? How far would you go to save money and get that debt paid off?
How Far Would You Go to Pay Off Your Debt? Would You Steal, Be Dishonest, or Do Other Bad Acts?
This week I’ve been thinking about how The Spending Diet should work. I thought I had it figured out and then I didn’t and then I did and well, I wanted to have a plan that would work for me for life. Not something that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. So. I think I’ve got it sorted out now and I’m ready to spill the details.
The other day I was talking with a pal I hadn’t seen in awhile and he’s all “I’m doing the budget thing too” and I’m all “Oh, I’m not budgeting” then he’s all “Yeah, you are.” Me, “No, not really I wasn’t spending any money at all.” Him “That’s budgeting.” Me “Uh, no it’s not”. Him “Uh”. Me “Uh”. Him “Uh”. And so on and so on for like 5 minutes maybe more, and then we said our “goodbyes” and that was that.
Since budgeting is something that I tried pre-Spending Fast and since I didn’t have success with it I never considered that what I was doing was a budget technique. I don’t know, maybe it is? Maybe it’s just the word that I don’t like. That is a possibility. It’s kind of like the word “networking”. That word is scary but that’s all that’s scary about networking. Anyway, that’s totally off the topic. So, for me budgets weren’t a fit. I don’t like the category thing and defining a certain amount for each category and then going over or under categories and what if a certain thing goes into 2 categories?! Then WHAt!? Then WHHAHHHHATTTT!!!?? PANIC!!
Budgets work for millions of people and that’s cool. There’s a ton of different ways to do the same thing.
Anyway, here is my Spending Diet plan that I don’t think of as a budget:
How to do a Spending Diet
1. Make list of my NEEDS. These are things like: shelter, phone, food, utilities, mortgage/rent. See my original Spending Fast Needs list here. I’m going to re-do this list. Re-evaluation is a good thing.
2. Out of my NEEDS list figure out where costs can be reduced.
3. Stop spending money. (simple but not easy!)
4. When a NEED from the NEEDS list pops up I’ll spend money on those. Those are NEEDS. Those are okay.
5. Since this is the Spending Diet and not the Spending Fast I am allowing myself a $200 $100 limit on “non-needs” for the month. Things that go into this section are things like: clothes, make-up, entertainment, dinner out, other random “non-needs” stuff. I’ll follow this criteria for purchases so I don’t go buck wild buying corn dogs and bubble gum.
6. I’ll keep a running monthly tally of the money I’m spending on “non-needs” and once the $200 $100 is hit then that’s it. I’ll stop spending money and go into the Spending Fast mode for the remainder of the month.
There you have it! My Spending Diet Guidelines!
With this plan I hope to have a life long livable plan that works for me. I’m hoping with this plan I will be able to live in the world of “Enough” and not feel the deprivation I felt with the Spending Fast and also I won’t feel the tedious-ness that a budgeted life makes me think of.
Never thought I’d say this but I’ve been reading financial books before I go to sleep!
My fave has been a paperback Suze (is it pronounced Suzy or Suz? I’ve heard both) Orman book. The 2009 Action Plan to be specific…despite it being 2010 I think it may have some good tips.
I’ll find myself going through my normal nightly routine and then bam! Suze Orman basically hops into bed with me as my new cozy, financially responsible cuddle bunny.
Never. Ever. Thought I’d see the day. But… here it is upon us in all its glory.
That book is tricky too because it’s shaped like a fun book- you know small and soft and novel sized and then there it goes talking all about being responsible and 401(k)’s and equity and taxes and saving and spending and everything else.
I got a whole other stack of other financial books from the library too. A book about how to Live Large on a Budget (I was excited about that one), a book about getting out of debt, a huge one that is at least 700 pages and some other ones that have been wanting some attention and have been getting desperately ignored. I can guarantee that these books will get a good flipping through… though actually reading them and following the advice given is a whole other story.
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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