Hi Readers! I get so many great questions from you all, and many times you are asking questions about situations that other people are running into as well. I follow a fellow wedding photographer, Jasmine Star, and on her blog, she has a great feature where you can send her a question and she’ll answer it on her blog. Seeing how well that works on her site got me thinking that would be a great solution for sharing the responses I help readers out via email. Hopefully your question or dilemma can help others too!
If you’d like me to answer a question for you here on the blog send me an email with your question to: email@example.com. In the subject line please write: Reader Question. I’ll change all identifying info so no one will know it’s you but me and you. I most likely won’t be able to answer every single question but I’ll try to let you know ASAP if your question will be getting selected for inclusion in a post. If your question doesn’t get selected, remember you can (and should) post about it in the Community section of the site. Get and give support! It’s a great resource!
Well, let’s go ahead and get started with the first question…
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 »
Hi! Below is Spending Faster, Jenn’s December update. She’s doing so amazing! See her past updates here and here. – Anna
MONTH TWO OF THE SPENDING FAST
Even with Christmas, I was able to save some money in the month of December! It’s been a busy month for me, but not with buying gifts and focusing on the holiday. My family and friends understood this, relieving me of the stresses of the holiday season. Aren’t they great? I am truly grateful for the people in my life, because they all genuinely want what’s best for me.
I did, however, give my mom some framed artwork of mine and my dad and friends some of those DIY ring dishes from A Beautiful Mess (the ones Anna made are pictured above).
In December, I focused on ways to bring in more money. This is what I did:
Ebay: I have listed some items that I don’t use anymore and am continuing to do so. I have sold $250 so far, but you have to minus the shipping cost and cost of using Ebay. I would still say not too shabby.
Society6: I started up a society6 account to sell some art prints as I work on my passion for painting abstract art.
Etsy: I also just opened an Etsy shop today and my first items for sale are two of the jewelry dishes leftover from the Christmas gifts. I will be adding original artwork for sale on this site.
I also received a Christmas bonus of $300 at work. And it was saved instead of spent on gifts.
This month has been about combining passion with income. I definitely feel like I am taking a plunge and putting myself out there so to speak. But I have a newfound sense of excitement and purpose. I have a new appetite for education and learning that will enhance my passions. It is coming to my attention that nothing happens overnight, and that my impatience for things to happen overnight is a notion I have to let go of to keep moving forward.
Total saved for month two: $400
Which went into a savings account for an emergency fund. My impatience has, however, gotten me to say the amount of $400 will my emergency fund (instead of the 1,000 I set out for in the beginning). In the interest of time and my sanity, I feel like this is an ok amount to set aside for now and to begin on throwing the money at my debt.
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?
Due to a sudden change in roommate status, I was unable to save for my first month of the Spending Fast. My roommate decided to suddenly move out, so I had to unexpectedly cover the month’s bills. I’ll get a new start in this second month. The good news is my dear friend, Tina, has decided to live with me for the next year and a half, giving me the time I need to complete the Spending Fast.
What are some of the good and bad living situations you have encountered?
I’m sure everyone has experienced it in one-way or another. I know I have many times over! But after the Spending Fast, my hope is that it will be the end of roommates.
I’m not counting this month as a total loss, but instead as a month of changing bad habits to achieve my goals. I tackled my worst habit of buying breakfast and coffee from Starbucks EVERYDAY! I am proud of myself for this WIN. But how did I do such a thing, you ask? It wasn’t easy. I dusted off my old single serve coffee machine and got a killer deal online of T-disc for 50 cents per cup! Who knew I could get so excited over math! Changing everyday decisions like these will help me in the long run, and is why this was my first area of concentration.
The next thing I need to tackle is spending money on social situations. This month I went back through my online bank entries and wrote down every entry that could have been avoided. Between social situations and spur of the moment decisions, I could have avoided spending $112.49. A movie, a pizza delivery, a sushi outing and 3 bar tabs. Those were my weak moments that I need to tackle next and avoid.
I am not perfect and these were my results for the month. Looking at this in writing, and knowing that I could have the amount of $112 as opposed to $0 saved, makes me face this reality and want to do better.
Earlier in the month I got a text from my sister, Kelly, and it said, “I decided I’m going on a Spending Fast for one year. Today is Day 1.” Internally, I completely freaked out. But, I tried to keep it contained so I didn’t seem too excited (for the fear of scaring her off with my over-the-top enthusiasm). I replied with a simple and contained, “Whoa. Cool!” All of my family and friends have been hearing about the Spending Fast for a grip now, and I’ve never pushed it on anyone. My thinking is that they know I’ve gotten out of debt, they know how I did it, and if they want to ask me any questions or have me give them any support through a getting out of debt mission (Spending Fast or not) that I am totally there for them. You can’t force anyone to do anything because that’s just obnoxious, and it doesn’t work anyway so I don’t do it. Plus, the Spending Fast is hard, and it can really, really suck at times so you’ve got to be ready to deal with that if you’re going to take on a Spending Fast. (While it’s insanely effective, it’s not magic; hard work and sacrifice is required so, sometimes, other methods should be tried 1st.) All that to say that I am soooooooo, sooooo excited (I’m not gonna hold back now), and proud of my sister for making the decision to change her life by doing a Spending Fast. I’ve seen how powerful it can be in my life and in other people’s lives so I’m excited to see how it will end up changing someone’s life that I’m so close to. Plus, it’ll be interesting to be on the other side of a Spending Fast…
Hi, I’m Kelly, Anna’s identical twin sister. My stats: 35 years old, business owner, recently divorced, 3 kids under 10, boyfriend, no pets. I’m currently embarrassed by how much debt I have so I’m not going to say the full number yet. I’ve been thinking about doing the Spending Fast for years, and now it’s finally time to do it. I’ve got credit card debt, lawyer debt, student loan debt (owed to a financial institution and to my parents), a car loan and another debt. I’ve seen Anna’s success with getting out of debt and with how quick she’s was able to do it, and I want to be debt free too.
I started the Spending Fast officially on November 5, 2014.
My biggest trouble areas are eating out and unfocused spending at places like Target.
Like Anna, after I decided to do the Spending Fast I felt instant relief, and then, about an hour after that I got notified that a tax return appeal that I was hoping for did indeed come through so I put that money directly on my number 1 priority bill: my personal credit card. I also redeemed awards from my bank for cash ($150), and put that money towards my credit card debt, as well. 3 days into the Spending Fast, and my personal credit card was completely paid off!$6,884.21 saved! Had I not decided to do the Spending Fast I would’ve spent that tax return money on random stuff, like usual, and my debt would still be there.
Other things I’ve done this first week to save money…
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: firstname.lastname@example.org – 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.
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.
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.
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…
Anyone who has a significant amount of debt can tell you that trying to eliminate that debt is hard work because nothing worth having comes easy.
Getting out of debt IS absolutely, completely worth it but it is generally, not an easy process. But, get this- you/me/we CAN do hard things. The secret is to keep going. Keep going when you do not want to and when your motivation starts to fade. Remember back when you decided you wanted to get rid of your debt? Remember when you signed the Get Out of Debt Pledge and decided you were going to change your life? Remember how excited you were and how you were committed to doing whatever needed to be done to get out of debt?! I want you to go back to that place and time and reactivate that drive and motivation.
I want you to know that it’s normal to have wavering motivation. Sacrificing stuff sucks. Turning down trips, concerts, dinners out can be a total bummer, and that’s okay be sad about sacrifices! Remember WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.
Recommit and get the heck back on that money-saving train! I want you to have a new life. You deserve to be free from debt and you deserve to have that terrible, soul-sucking debt cloud removed from your life. You deserve to walk lighter and to hold your head higher. You deserve guilt-free vacations. You deserve that new pair of shoes or fancy, delicious coffee and warm morning muffin on the way to work once in a while but you deserve them guilt-free! You deserve to know that you can set your mind to something, and that you can actually accomplish it. You deserve to have ZERO DEBT. You deserve to have freedom! You deserve autonomy! You deserve all the best that life has to offer and let me tell you, nothing feels as good as being debt-free. Do it for you. Getting out of debt is the best gift you could ever, ever give to yourself!
Still not convinced that lacking motivation is part of the getting-out-of-debt process? This is how it all went down for me (in a nutshell)…
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.
This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
Change can be such a scary concept! Leaving the life rituals that you are used to and starting something new seems almost suffocating at times.
I was living in Ohio and having to work two jobs because after seven months of living there, I still couldn’t find full time employment. The world as I knew it ended and here I am, three weeks later, sitting in my new apartment in North Carolina with not one but two full time job offers. I have no idea which one to pick! How did I get to this point? Does it matter? What an awesome predicament!
Change is awkward and uncomfortable and unfamiliar but sometimes it’s good. Although I am very lonely and unhappy about my recent relationship split, I now have time to focus on my career. Which, when on a Spending Fast, is a great thing! What do I wanna be when I grow up? I have no idea! Now is a great time to channel my energy into figuring that out.
During the move, the bottom drawer to my dresser decided to break. My apartment has a big enough closet that all of my dresser items can fit inside it. As I was starting to take the dresser to the dumpster, I realized that I don’t have a desk. And a desk is really just a dresser without the drawers! So I took that bad boy back inside and started unscrewing the drawer brackets. After about 30 minutes of work, I have a new desk! It got beat up a bit in the move so I will have to paint it but instead of spending money on a desk, I created a free one. I changed something familiar into something new and useful.
After thinking about it, isn’t that what being on a Spending Fast and paying off debt is all about? Deciding to commit to the change instead of pushing against it. Changing your spending habits may seem weird and uncomfortable now but in the long run, it’s going to be beautiful and make your life more functional.
What are some ways a life change turned out surprisingly well when at first you weren’t sure it’d all work out okay?
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.
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…
This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
Since starting my Spending Fast a little over three months ago, I have learned quite a bit more about myself than expected. One of the main things is that I have a lot of marketable talent that I completely didn’t realize. Last Monday I started a new job (hallelujah) and my title went from “Clerk” to “Information Technology Specialist.” I tell you this because my college degree is in Spanish. I have no formal training in computers, I just happen to enjoy working with computers. I realized this a few months ago and added my skills to my resume. After meeting a new friend, I mentioned to her that I was good with technology and she told her boss; the rest is history.
How To Figure Out Your Skills and Sell Them for Cash…
This post is by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
Being on a Spending Fast can seem like such a drag! Since starting my third month of no spending, I have realized that being on this Spending Fast is actually awesome! I know what you are thinking, just hear me out. Obviously I wish that I didn’t have debt and could buy anything that I wanted. Instead, I have found that while on this year-long adventure, I have been able to do some really cool, unexpected things…for free!
Since my boyfriend and I aren’t going out on the town like we used to, I have become a little creative with my time.
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…
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…
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?
Today I’m happy to share Jeena Cho’s story with you. She borrowed over 100k for student loans and she’s figured out a way to knock out her debt. Jeena’s top 4 tips are below.
“At 21, borrowing $100,000+ for law school seemed like a no-brainer. After all, once I land that job at that fancy law firm, with my fancy office, with my fancy house, car and wardrobe, earning a six-figure salary, repaying $100,000 should be easy. Right?
For the first seven years after graduation, all I managed to do was prolong the cycle of debt. As long as I was making the monthly minimum payments and keeping all the balls in the air, I was doing great. My life was all about living a lifestyle suitable for a lawyer, filled with nice things.
When my husband and I got married, we sat down and took stock of our finances. Seeing our numbers in black and white, on paper was a real eye opener. So, we sharpened our pencils and got to work. In the past 2 years, we paid off about half our student loans. Yes, about $50,000!
If you hate budgets you’ll LOVE this. When we start thinking about saving money and getting our financial lives in order the word that comes to most people’s minds is the word ‘budget’. I know budgets work for some people, and if they work for you I’m really glad (tell me your tips!) but they’ve never worked for me even though I’ve really wanted them.
A Spending Fast ® is considered an extreme but very effective method of getting out of debt quickly. A Spending Fast works through the elimination of all “non-need” spending.
I did a Spending Fast and I substantially improved my financial situation by paying off $23,605.10 in debt. It only took 15 months and I couldn’t believe it! Because I’m now debt-free I can live the life I’ve always wanted to live. I’m able to be autonomous and I’m able to focus on my goals without having debt hanging over my head and affecting all of my decisions.
There are a few things to think about before you start your own Spending Fast and all of these elements will affect how fast you are able to become debt-free.
These Factors Will Affect Your Spending Fast ®
The total amount of debt you have
How much spending you decide to cut out
How committed you are to the process
The duration of time that you chose for your Spending Fast
How much money you can make by selling your unused possessions
What you chose to do to generate additional income and how much money you can bring in with the side job(s)
When I finally decided that I had to be done with my debt my life completely changed, mainly because I was finally willing to do whatever I needed to do to be done with my debt once and for all. The cycle of debt, guilt, and remorse had to end.
Life is so much better on this side — the debt-free side! If you’re ready to change your life and if you’re ready to get rid of your debt quickly, this is how to do a Spending Fast. You can do this!
How To Do A Spending Fast ®…
1. List Your Debts and Their Interest Rates
Make a list of all your bills, and then write the highest-interest rate bill at the top of the list with the lowest interest rate bill at the bottom of the list. This will determine the order in which you will eliminate each bill: highest interest rate bill to the lowest interest rate bill.
2. Ask Your Creditors for Lower Interest Rates
Call the credit card companies and ask them to lower your interest rate. They just might do it so it’s worth a shot to call them and ask.
3. Picture the Life You Dream of Living
Determine your priorities by putting actual pen to paper and by writing down your ideal life. What would you be doing if you didn’t have to work for a living? How would you spend your time, and when are you the most happy? Ask yourself, “Is there any way I can reach my goals with the debt I have?” If the answer is “no” and you don’t feel good about it, then it’s time to start thinking about making some serious changes. Be very honest with yourself. Do you find that you’re making decisions about things to do (or not do) based on the amount of debt you have? Does your debt prevent you from living a life that is true to you? Does your debt (and your obligation to it) pull you and angle your decisions in even the subtlest ways?
4. Make The Commitment To Be Done With Debt Once and for All
If you’re not ready to be done with your debt, then you might want to try some other methods first. The Spending Fast technique requires a lot of commitment and dedication. A Spending Fast is a way to get extreme results in a relatively short amount of time, but you have to be ready to go forward full-force with it. Your life will change and it will affect every area of life. Getting out of debt and committing to the Spending Fast is worth it, it’s just not easy!
5. If You’re Partnered, Try to Get Them to Do the Spending Fast With You
It’s a lot easier to change your life if your partner is on board but, if they aren’t, then consider doing the Spending Fast solo (I did it that way). Separate bank accounts are very helpful if you’re doing the Spending Fast solo.
6. Set a Time-Frame for Your Spending Fast
I recommend a year, so you can get past the difficult beginning part (where all your habits are getting changed) and into the real benefits part (where your debt is getting paid off). A year can seem long day-to-day but at the end of the year you’ll be surprised how fast it goes by. If you chose to do a weekend-long spending fast, a week-long spending fast, a couple months or a year, you will still get results and it will still positively affect your financial situation.
7. Make a Public Declaration of Your Desire to Become Debt-Free
Tell your friends and family about your decision to do a Spending Fast so you can have the accountability that comes along with it. In addition to telling your family and friends, take the Debt-Free Life Pledge, and read the entries from others who are committed to getting out of debt too (it’s super inspiring to read the pledges and I always read them when I need extra motivation).
8. Create a “Wants and Needs” List
The “wants and needs” list is the backbone of the spending fast. On the “needs” list include just the necessities needed to live: rent, food, utilities, etc. On the “wants” list, put everything that is an “extra” in your life. Things that went on this side of the list for me were items like clothes, coffee at coffee shops, movies in the theater, gifts, bed linens, new music, new make-up, shoes, etc. (Here is my original Spending Fast *Wants and Needs* list – 1/4 of the way from the top of the page.) The *Wants and Needs* list can (and will) be different based on each person’s varying priorities in life. If you decide that something should be on your needs list that wasn’t on mine that’s okay! Just try not to justify adding things just to make it easier. You can do this!
9. Spend Money on the “Needs” Side of the List Only
This is the simple-but-not-easy part of the Spending Fast.
10. Think About What You Can Buy Rather Than What You Can’t
If find yourself starting to feel bummed out when you’re in the thick of the Spending Fast, try to shift your perspective, because it will do wonders for your morale. Remember to keep having fun (just the free kind). Remember that the Spending Fast isn’t forever. There is a light at the end of the tunnel (that’s why you set a time-frame at the start), and remind yourself of why you’re doing the Spending Fast in the first place — it’s to get out of debt once-and-for-all and to change your life! Look at the list you made in step #3 when your morale gets low.
11. Become Immersed in a Community of Like-Minded People
Get involved in the And Then Whe Saved Community. This is where people share their questions, struggles, accomplishments, set-backs, tips, tricks, and most importantly, their getting-out-of-debt successes. It’s a great place to get a reminder that we aren’t alone in our dreams to live debt-free lives.
12. Attack Your Debts
At the end of the month, send all the money that is left in your account to the bill that has the highest interest rate. Continue to send the minimum due on your other bills. Once a bill gets knocked out, be proud of yourself! You’re really doing it! You’re becoming debt-free! Next, start working on the next highest interest rate bill on the list. Become competitive with yourself; try to get better numbers than the previous month and keep track of your savings from month-to-month. To be able to see all of the savings at the end of the year is amazing.
13 & 14. Be Committed to the Process and Continue With the Spending Fast Until You Reach Your End Date
It’s unrealistic to think that “mistakes” won’t happen so keep going even when they (inevitably) occur so when they do, re-focus, and get back at you. Stick with the Spending Fast for the entire time-frame you committed yourself to. If you reach your goal of paying off your debt and you happen to do it before your predetermined end date (um, awesome!), then why not keep going? Squirrel away the extra money and prepare yourself for the next step — financial security.
15. Be Proud of Yourself for What You Accomplished — Big or Small
When you come to the end of your Spending Fast, look back on all you were able to do. Being proactive and being willing to take charge of your life and finances is definitely something to be proud of!
Throughout the Spending Fast, always be on the look-out for ways to cut the “needs” list down even more, get creative with ways to save money, and be willing to make things yourself in an effort to save.
Before you know it, saving will become (unbelievably) more fun than spending and your financial life will be forever changed!
Spending Fast ® is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.
It’s hard to believe that 2 years ago I started this blog as a way to keep myself accountable as I dug out of the depths of debt, out of the cycle of over-spending, and out of the continued guilt and remorse that came with the out-of-control nature of my finances.
Looking through the archives of the site it’s wild to see how things have evolved. How I didn’t REALLY know if this “Spending Fast” thing would work and how I was desperate enough to give it a go despite not knowing ALL of the answers.
Needing to get my finances in order took priority in my life because changes HAD to be made.
The cycle had to end.
On December 27th, 2009 I wrote my 1st post committing myself to the Spending Fast process for a year. The next day, up went my Wants and Needs list (which served as – and continues to serve- as the backbone of the Spending Fast and Spending Diets). Following that was PANIC. Pure panic. Which for me meant shopping. Last minute “Needs” were purchased in a frenzy to ease my fear and nerves about what I had just proclaimed I would do. Things I HAD TO HAVE were: dry shampoo, a linen calendar, and a stamp set. You know, necessities.
Then, Day 1 of the Spending Fast commenced, and I found myself in, of all places, the mall (not recommended). Despite the irony I immediately felt a sense of freedom when I was able to leave the mall without a single purchase. I began to think,
“Maybe things COULD be different. Maybe, my life COULD change? What if this REALLY DOES work?!”
Knowing I didn’t HAVE to shop that day was HUGE, and realizing that I could notice the textures and colors and smells around me rather than rushing to buy the next thing was really an eye-opener, and part of me just chalked it up to excitement and motivation about starting the Spending Fast. I wondered if there was anyway that could I keep this up for any extended amount of time.
And then… the days of not spending started to stack up, and I started to be able to make large chunks of payments towards my debt. I was amazed that there was suddenly money where there had been none before. I believed that there was literally NO MONEY for debt-repayment since all previous months I had routinely over-drafted my accounts by $200-$300 a month.
At the end of the 2010 Spending Fast (and after paying back close to 18k in debt throughout the year) I took a deep breath. I also took the weekend between 2010 and 2011 “off” which meant I went shopping. I had been dreaming about some boots during the Spending Fast (along with MANY other things that I wrote about in the Daily Hankering section) so I bought them and then quickly had to return them because they were strangely noisy.
Since I still had debt at the end of the Spending Fast I started the Spending Diet for 2011 which is the same thing as the Spending Fast just with a $100 per month “non-need” allowance. The Spending Diet seemed like a cake-walk. I mean, I just didn’t spend any money for A WHOLE YEAR!
I remember thinking, “A Spending Diet? E-A-S-Y!”
Erm. The Spending Diet is hard. Actually, for me it was A LOT harder than the Spending Fast. Throughout this year of the Spending Diet my monthly savings were a lot more inconsistent and I found my “old ways” sneaking in again. The contrast of not spending any money on anything extra while on being on the Spending Fast to spending even a little on “non-needed” extras felt like a lot and I found myself feeling guilty about spending at all. Being able to spend discretionarily was sometimes a slippery slope but moderation and balance were things I was trying to learn. Slowly and steadily moderation has become easier.
Paying off my debt started to become fun. Weird, right? I started to get competitive with myself and I wanted to top the previous months numbers. I wanted to see how far much more I could cut back, how much more money I could make, how much more I could send to the creditors.
Saving started to become more fun than spending. Which is completely nuts.
While blogging about the debt-elimination process I’ve just tried to say what has worked, what it’s been like, and what it’s like to now to be on the debt-free side of things. That’s all I can do.
Before I started the Spending Fast I didn’t think there was anyway out of the hole I had dug. Since I found a way out I feel an obligation to share what I’ve learned with others. It’s SO beyond amazingly amazing when I hear how the Spending Fast and Spending Diets have worked in others lives. Even the people that do the “dip a toe in and test it out” approach of the “pick and choose” approach report feeling motivated and pro-active about their situations, and while the results are slower there are still results.
2011 also brought a chance to share some of my getting-out-of-debt insights with viewers of The Nate Berkus Show, The Clark Howard Show, and Dr. Drew‘s (HLN night-time) show (links to each on the right side bar). Being on these shows were surreal experiences. Experiences that I never guessed I would get to have. I remember listening to Dr. Drew’s radio show LoveLine as a kid (my mom didn’t know) and blushing at all the “adult” things that they discussed. Then to actually TALK TO DR. DREW!? Weird! I always feel so thankful when I get invited to be on shows because I get a chance to tell others that the debt cycle can end. That there really IS a way out!
Which leads me too…
If you’ve ever thought to yourself that maybe you too would like to do a Spending Fast I would like to encourage you to make 2012 the year you do it. You can take 2012 Get Out of Debt Spending Fast Pledgehere)
Be done with debt for good. You can create a new history for yourself.
Please know that you are not alone in this process. Support is around every corner… the Community section is stocked FULL of like-minded people dealing with many different situations, and I post on Twitter and Facebook so that you never miss a thing.
I want you to experience the same freedom that I have experienced. Not having any debt is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! Which means that I can’t help but be passionate about spreading the Spending Fast word!
What’s next? Most importantly, I’m going to continue to support others as they get out of debt. I will be continuing to keep myself out of debt, finding new and creative ways to create additional income, building a secure financial future and I will continue to tackle life as it comes while keeping my short and long-term goals in mind.
I’ve also got tons and tons of posts in store for the blog for 2012 … so many ideas (!!) and I can’t wait to share them all with you!
2012 is going to be a great year!
What have you learned in the past year? What are your goals for 2012?
“It’s always darkest before dawn.” – Thomas Fuller
While I love holidays because there isn’t a shortage of sweets, the city glows with lights and everyone is just the tiniest bit nicer I also start to feel kind of grossed out by all the things and all the stuff. There is no question that our society is consumed with consuming, and this trait only gets magnified during this time of year.
If you’ve ever thought about doing the Spending Fast I would like to invite you to take the:
Everyday I wake up and look at this poster. It’s right in my line of sight as I stagger into the living room to head out to work. Since it’s also bright red it catches my eye whether I want to look at it or not, and it reminds me to keep going even when I’d rather not.
In November the Spending Fast was reactivated. I’ve mentioned that the Spending Fast is tough, and the beginning of it is the hardest part by far. All the habits are getting jolted out of place, all the auto-buys are being denied, all the quick-fixes are no longer happening. It’s hard to make these changes.
I re-activated the Spending Fast to tackle a medical bill that came up. Allergy shots were the cause of the damage and they ended up kicking my butt in the bill department. I set up a payment plan with the hospital and promised I would pay them $150 a month until the total bill of $2,556.96 was eliminated.
November was rough trying to get back into the full swing of the Spending Fast again (and I wasn’t totally perfect with it) but I’m happy to report that I saved $823.44 which is promptly being sent off to the hospital for the bill (new balance is $1,733.52). That’s about double what I was saving while doing the Spending Diet. That’s kind of huge, and proves to me that once again the Spending Fast works to help get rid of debt in a mighty fast way.
See my total savings and break-down from every month here.
Did you do the Spending Fast too? How’d it go? What’d you learn? What went well, and what didn’t?
Last Friday night I started getting a whole bunch of messages on Facebook.
Like these ones:
We shot the interview a week or so ago and I didn’t know when it would air so it was a happy surprise to get the messages from people on Facebook. We only have the most basic of cable packages (so the image isn’t fuzzy) so I didn’t get to see it as it aired… ironic, right! Out went a frantic text to my family hoping someone might be able to catch it. Luckily, my dad turned to CNN/HLN right as I came on!
During the interview it was crazy to be sitting there and have Dr. Drew in my ear (via ear bud) and then to get to speak with Clark Howard too (he knows his stuff!). I kept thinking about all those years I listened to LoveLine as a youngin’ peering into the juicy details of adult lives. I thought I was pretty cool/scandalous to be hearing that stuff.
Dr. Drew showed some of the clips from when I was Clark Howard’s show and we got to speak with a woman who is 100k in debt. I wish I had more time to talk with her… there’s so much to say.
The above video was shot on my sister phone from the TV so it’s a bit rough… As soon as Dr. Drew puts up the official clip I’ll replace this one. (If you have Comcast Xfinity you can view the whole legit episode online).
“It’s not how much you make, it’s what you do with it.”
Shockingly, I couldn’t find the author of that quote. Does anyone know who first said that line?
I bring up this quote because I’ve gotten some questions requesting the exact amounts I spent/spend on different things. People have asked if I use certain software to manage my money, how much I make and other nuts and bolts types of questions to try to determine how to structure their own Spending Fasts/Spending Diets.
How much to save each month during a Spending Fast and other questions answered…
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.
I can hardly believe how much I saved this month that it hardly seems real. I mean it’s sucked a lot to not spend what I want but it doesn’t seem like I’ve been saving THAT much and really it’s not been THAT sucky. Of course I say that now as a wiggle around in my saving halo of glee.
For the month of February I saved- OMG- I saved $934.37 !!! what the-! ??
It’s JUST INSANE! Insanely, GREAT!
Maybe because it’s a short month? Maybe I’m getting more used to not spending? Maybe I’m not a very good add-er or subtract-er and I have totally messed up my check book and that’s why it seems like I saved so much. That’s a possibility.
The only other notable changes I’ve made this month are: I cancelled my locker at the gym (savings $6), I stopped using official soy creamer and now just refill the little container with the rice milk I already buy (savings $3ish), and I’ve been eating food out of the pantry that I’ve had forever (who knows how much saved).
Apparantly all these little changes are starting to add up big time.
Was I REALLY spending that much per month!? How could I have been? I just don’t know. It can’t have been so. I mean I literally felt broke every month before I started the Spending Fast.
This month I’m going to be able to pay off 1 credit card completely with a $373.37 payment! whoo- hoo! Suze Orman are you proud of me Mizzz?
Then, I’m gonna send an extra $75 to my parents for the college loan they took out for me. Because they guilt me and the quicker I can get that paid off the better.
Then, $486.58 towards the last credit card. Hopefully I’ll be able to wipe that out soon. Especially if I can keep up this rate of saving.
Then, a savings account will finally get started.. but that’s still a little ways off yet.
Month 1 of the Spending Fast is done! and I’m happy to report the 1st months results!
I have saved $505.58 and (this is embarrassing) I usually dip into my overdraft protection account for around $200 bucks. So, I probably saved closer to $700 but I’m not gonna assume what I saved I’m just gonna stick with the hard core facts and numbers.
$505.58 is pretty good for the 1st month. Like I told you before, moderation hasn’t ever been my thing so I’m finding myself wanting to cut out even more so I can save even more (who IS this person!?!?) Because if $505.58 is good then wouldn’t $905.58 be even better?
I can only imagine that it would be.
What can I do to save even more? I think its the groceries that I’m spending the most money on. So, that is going to be my next area of attack. How can I cut cost there? Coupons maybe? Gotta think about this one.
So, how will I distibute this month’s Spending Fast savings you ask? Well, what a good question! Let me tell you.
Rather than start a savings account I’m going to try to pay off my high-interest credit card first (per Suze Orman’s advice- look who retained some tips from her books). This is how the break down is gonna go: $430.58 as an additional payment this month to my credit card and $75.00 extra to my parents for the college loan they took out for me years ago.
This extra $75 payment to my parents might not make much sense since my parents don’t charge me interest on that loan. And, I have to tell you, it’s been really hard to pay them for that loan since they DON’T charge me interest (thank you) because every financial guru out there says that you should pay off the highest-interest credit card first, then the next highest then the next and so on. So, that’s what I’ve wanted to do. But, this is what comes into play with this decision: every chance my mom gets she tells me about how she would be traveling to Paris if it wasn’t for the student loan that they pay for me every month. If any of you have experienced the wrath and guilt that a Catholic mother can produce then you know that there is no joking around when the guilt is being doled out. So, I made the self-preserving decision to send them a few extra bones this month because there is nothing I would like more than to see a picture of my mom beneath the Eiffel Tower or to see her sipping an espresso in a sidewalk cafe or to see her wearing a cute little beret on her freshly cut hair-do.
Plus THE GUILT MUST STOP!
See. The $75 bucks to them makes sense now huh.
Seeing how much I have saved this month is really very empowering. Now I don’t even know how I was so mindlessly spending $500-$700 bucks every month on stupid, albeit enjoyable crap. It’s hard to believe that those thoughtless and aimless purchases really add up to so much. Really nuts, huh.
Never thought that passing up Starbucks, itunes music, etsy cuties, a few new shirts, a seemingly inexpensive flight, or a dinner (or 15) out a month would add up to so much money. Is my life really that much worse off since I didn’t buy those things? Was so much joy passed up because I didn’t shell out that dough? Or, has taking the steps to get control over my financial future and feeling empowered about my finances been worth the change in habits, daily troubles and almost constant inconveniences?
I’d say it’s been worth it. It has sucked a lot but I’m learning how to deal with the suckiness more and more and it’s getting easier (if not fun-er). Plus, knowing that I can possibly get my debt paid-off through this process is the silver lining to this shit sandwich. Not having the debt umbrella hanging over my head or weighing on my shoulders is going to be more awesome than a daily Starbucks coffee or Forever 21 shirt.
Have you been doing the spending fast with me? How’d your 1st month go? I’d love to hear all about it.
Also, I’ve started a new section on this blog called Total Savings so you can keep up-to-date at anytime with my monthly savings and the savings distribution.
The Northwest is a place that speaks to me for some reason. With its lush green trees, misty grey air, inherent outdoorsy-ness, cool style, coffee (yumm!) culture and artsy, laid-back vibe it’s an area of the US I’ve always wanted to live in and I have always welcomed any and every oppurtunity to go there.
Ever since a childhood trip to Seattle to see cousins and aunts and uncles I’ve been smitten, I mean straight out full-blown IN LOVE with the lovely Northwest.
I think it was the hike that we took when I was there for the 1st time. I was probably around 11 or 12 and it was a hot late August day. We geared up and took a hike through the wooded green greens of the Washington coast to ultimately end up at a snowy mountain with snow caves (!) and people were sledding.
SLEDDING IN AUGUST!
Seriously? Yes. So. So. Serious.
Basically, I was awestruck that there was snow anywhere near this time of year. I was even more surprised that people were enjoying it and most likely missing school ALL THE TIME here. no?
The only thing I could think was that these Washington kids HAD IT MADE!
Washington state became a place in my mind where dads and uncles and aunties walked with their kids and nieces and bow-legged dogs to seemingly exotic snowy locales hidden away deep behind mosquito riddled woods, made detours at the neighborhood pool, ate gooey ice cream sundaes while watching movies and then camped out in the backyard just for the fun of it.
It’s with real sadness that I find myself passing on an upcoming trip to Portland with the hub to see the bro-in-law and his girlfriend. Two very cool people, that do cool things and seem to be all cool all the time because it comes so easily, of course.
The other day said cool bro-in-law asked why I wasn’t coming out to visit them. Thought to self: “Waaaahhhhh!” But actually said: “Because of the spending fast I can’t spend the $138 bucks on the ticket.” Him: “Oh.”
Bummed. Bummer. Bummer. bummmer. I want to go. hmpf. I’m just gonna whine now. wahhahhhhhagain.
ok. over it. sorry.
Not going. Saving $138. Check out that dedication!
Something that has been helping me with buying the off-brand versions of foods at the grocery store is to put the generic version of the item in the old name brand package.
Like this for example:
Say you buy some Kroger oats (this is our local grocery store King Soopers generic brand) just go ahead and pour those generic oats into the Quaker oats container. Then when that white-haired Quaker fellow is staring at ya from the cupboard it doesn’t feel nearly as painful to eat those oats. At least for me. Plus oats are cheap! Even better.
Here’s another example for you: when you run out of your fancy coffee shop coffee go ahead and fill up that 1/2 lb bag with Folgers or whatever inexpensive coffee you have around and it instantly tastes better!
The power of suggestion really does seem to have magical powers.
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.
The social part of being on a spending fast has really been a tricky part of this whole thing. How do I suggest that when I hang out with people that we don’t spend any money? I bring up the whole spending fast thing that I’m doing but sometimes it just doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to not spend money especially when I’m in the moment and I really want to do what I want to do. You know. Like old times. Meaning a whole 12 days ago.
So, I have a question for you dear reader if you are out there. Do you think I should take say, $30 out in cash at the beginning of the month and keep it in an envelope for things like going to movies and out to lunch or coffee with buds?
Here’s something to consider before you answer. The spending fast started with one of the main intentions being to help me shift the focus off of things and more onto people and relationships. Sooooo if I’m thwarted (that’s a funny word) by the resistance to spend money on social get-togethers because of the fast then that kinda feels like its is defying the point of doing the fast in the first place. Since then the fast would be putting strain on the relationship.
Luckily, I’ve been able to utilize a great and amazing resource we have here in Denver its this site aptly called This Week In Denver. They list events/social gatherings/art exhibits/comedy shows/independent projects/fashion shows/all sorts of cool stuff for any given week. They even email it to you if you sign up for that or you can go to their site and take a look at all the events. All that to say that they list a lot of cool stuff and then they also list the price of the event. So it makes it easy to pick out the free things to do on the weekends or during the week. This Week In Denver has been a real life-saver since the spending fast started. (I’d imagine other towns would have a similar section in the local newspapers Events section.)
So, what are your thoughts? Should I give myself a mini-budget for get-togethers? I don’t want to just cave since things are tricky in this area but I also don’t want to be miserable cause really, what’s the point of that? Plus, if I feel miserable and stuck it’s gonna be a lot harder to do this for a whole year.
p.s. sometimes when i’m writing i feel like doogie howser mustve felt. you know, just writing away. but, i don’t have a narrator reading out loud what i’m writing as i write it but that would be cool.
I thought I would be just fine with it. See this post. But. I’ve decided to change my mind and become totally NOT ok with bad coffee. Despite that fact, I find myself drinking it because that’s what I have at my house already so that means it’s free which means I’m drinking it if I like it or not if I want coffee.
Last weekend I ran out of my fancy coffee and made it through the week just fine because I had more fancy coffee at work but here we are at the weekend again and looky here… no good coffee.
Yes. Sad face indeed.
Since starting the Spending Fast a whooping 10 days ago. Egad. I’ve really really enjoyed the simpler things in life quite a bit more than I expected to (I’ll admit that it feels cliche to even utter those words).
Honestly I didn’t know how I would feel or how this whole YEAR-LONG Spending Fast thing would go so I suppose this “enjoying the simple things in life” thing has been a kind of non-surprise since I didn’t expect anything one way or another… other than knowing it would probably just sincerely bite more than not.
That’s as far as I had gotten with my predictions.
So. Hot hot steamy sexy delicious coffee in the morning has been something I have enjoyed a lot and found myself really looking forward to.
See Exhibit A: this purring thought to myself- “Oooooh, coffeeeeee, yummmmmm, coffee tomorrow, can’t wait. It’s gonna be soo good. yummmmm. I need to hurry up and go to sleep so I can hurry up and wake up and drink coffee.” And off to sleep I go only to dream dreams of caffeinated steaming dark liquids that I can hardly wait to consume.
Coffee drinkers… I know you know what I’m talking about. Just like you know that your server at a restaurant loves coffee as much as you do when you see she is standing there waiting anxiously to refill your mug as soon as it gets to the halfway full mark (look who’s an optimist) cause she knows that if you’re a TRUE coffee drinker/lover you’ll want a lot of coffee and hot and quickly.
And. Back to my point.
Back in June we went on a trip and stayed in a couple of hotels and they had those little coffee packets in the room. I went and took those coffee packs being the coffee lover that I am. Yes. I’m one of THOSE people. And those little packets have been waiting patiently in the back of the freezer for a good 7 months just being nice and cold and waiting it out. Their time has come to get used and I have to tell you that coffee is just no no good at all.
I know. I know. I’ll live. This really is a LUXURY problem. It’s definitely not like I’m suffering from a broken leg or even a bad migraine (which I’ve heard can be really bad even debilitating). Drinking bad coffee really just makes me appreciate good coffee that much more. I didn’t know how good I had it. I was basically swimming in a pool of delicious coffee every morning and I took it for granted.
Apparently, those taking it for granted days have ended and the dreams of good coffee have begun.
I have a tub of 1/2 caff coffee in the freezer from the days when I decided it was a good idea to cut back on my caffeine consumption so I should probably stop complaining and realize that I actually have full caff coffee to drink right now even if it isn’t the tastiest.
This Spending Fast has made me pay attention to things I don’t really want to and didn’t know where even happening right around me. It’s made me open my eyes in some very strange ways.
It’s only DAY 5 but things are getting difficult. The bills have been paid and this is usually the point of the month where I go through my Etsy favorites and see what I want and then justify why I NEED it and then I simply buy it.
I’m starting realize that just because I have money in my account and I like something that that isn’t nearly enough of a reason to buy it.
Around this time of the month in the past I would find myself at Walgreens purchasing something we can probably all agree is a need, you know, something like toothpaste and then I would find myself starting to wander to the make-up aisle to see if there is any new shade of make-up I should be testing out or something else that would be some sort of miracle cure for some problem I never knew I had until I saw an item I was convinced would fix the mysterious ailment that I have suddenly acquired. Then by that point I would find myself walking out of the store with a $62 bag of crap that I really didn’t need at all and the toothpaste had been completely forgotten.
Also around this time of the month, I used to make my way over to the famously inexpensive and trendy, yet shabbily built clothing and accessory shop Forever21. I liked to see if there might be something to add to my wardrobe to make myself feel better about myself and all my hard work at the gym. After all, what’s the point of working out if you just have crappy frumpy clothes to wear? The answer is- there is no point. Health should be a good enough reason but somedays it’s just not. Then, as anyone who has shopped at Forever21 knows the item usually falls apart after a few washes and is definitely not anything that I would say is any sort of investment. Disposable is what that clothing is and that’s exactly what I was doing with my money before I started this spending fast. Mindlessly and aimlessly disposing of my money.
This whole process has made me realize that the dollar really doesn’t mean all that much to me. If it meant more I probably wouldn’t be so fond of letting it go from my grasp.
It has been really hard to shift my habits to start thinking differently about money and spending and saving and about what I do with my spare time (since I’m not finding myself in stores as much ’cause it’s not all that fun if you can’t buy anything. can I get an amen.)
Surprisingly, I’m actually feeling empowered and more willing to make the right choices financially. It could and most likely is because I feel accountable since I have said I would tell you all about any set-backs that I may have. And… I don’t want to mess up because I don’t want to tell you about messing up.
Because of the spending fast I have:
Cancelled the internet on my phone
Down-sized my unlimited text messaging package
Down-sized my fancy html email service (it’s almost free now)
Reserved some books from the library about being financially responsible (I’ll tell you all about which ones in another post)
Kept the thermostat mostly at 68 degrees
Ran out of shampoo and then found some old discarded shampoo hidden away in a back closet and have actually been using it
Monitoring how long I’m in the shower and trying not to be in there forever like I used to do
Decided that I shouldn’t be using my dryer (that is right next to the shower) as a towel warmer for my princess ass
Someone went and got crafty. You’ll never guess who.
Usually, when I start a new project and launch an idea I get a set of cards made so I can easily hand ’em to folks if I happen to talk to them about what I’m up to. Makes sense to me.
So, since I recently started this site I found myself wanting some new cards to tell people all about what I’m up to now. Then, of course I remembered that because of this very project RIGHT HERE THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY READING that I wasn’t going to be purchasing anything anytime soon. hhmmmm. so now what?
Crazily, I started putting items together that I already had in my house. It was actually kinda fun because it made me think about the things I already had available but normally wouldn’t even think of using… cuz I’d normally just go and buy what I want. You can see who’s gotten out of the habit of being a crafty lass.
Soon, I was ripping through the recycling bin and pulling out old cereal boxes, a brown bag, and some other random cardboard pieces and other thicker pieces of paper. I pulled out some markers and scissors and was on my way to being straight up crafty. “These are gonna look great!” I thought. Until I started being crafty on the cards and they were looking a little weird and not at all good. If only I had thought ahead and KNEW I would want cards I coulda got em on 12/31! ugh. Then I remembered how I almost bought this great HUGE alphabet stamper:but refrained for some unknown reason. Ugh again. That thing would’ve so come in handy! But that’s before I remembered that uhhhh, duuhhhh, I ALREADY OWN alphabet stamps and had completely forgot about them! Once I remembered them I realized I didn’t like their “font” anymore and decided it was that or nothing so I sucked it up and started stamping and being crafty already.
There I was cutting cute roundy cornered cardboard and paper and stamping and cutting and stamping and you get the picture and the final result turned out to be the cards at the top of this post! that I actually like!
And there you have it… homemade website cards on varying shades of brown, tan and white and stamped with varying shades of brown, dark brown and bronze. There is also a special surprise treat for each card recipient… they will receive fragments of Count Chocula’s face or a close up of a Boca Chik’n patty! What lucky people!
It’s the 1st day of my year-long Spending Fast and I ironically found myself at the mall with the hub. Say what? Yeah. I know.
It was kinda like testing myself and probably way too soon. It’s DAY 1 for goodness sake!
He wanted to return something and I said “I can do this. I can handle it…” and I did but it was kind of a weird experience going there knowing that no matter what “Great YEAR END/NEW YEAR Deal” I saw and whatever I found that I couldn’t possibly live without that I was in-fact going to walk out of there item-less. Oh, poor me huh. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I did do this to myself.
Browsing from store to store I was surprised to find that through this project that I may actually be able to find myself released from the burdens of my self-imposed debt. The constant heaviness of that debt that however subtle it feels on somedays is always there. It prevents me from doing certain things and definitely holds me back. If not literally then mentally.
Being in those stores I found that I no longer had the unspoken pressure/expectation to spend. That due to the Spending Fast that expectation has been removed (at least for the moment). Ok. I proved my point. Now, can I stop? ha.
In lovely lovely Anthropologie, it was a new experience to be able to enjoy the smells and textures and the true beauty of the items. Strange. Needless to say, that was quite a different experience than I usually have in shops. Usually I am consumed with the desire to find the best thing for the best price so I can be the best at whatever I’m trying to do/look-like/whatever. The American way? Be the best-est?
I’m happy to say that I left the mall awkwardly empty-handed.
Todays experience made me realize that I have been constantly and mindlessly spending money based primarily on convenience, instant gratification, boredom and I’ll be honest… out of laziness too. It’s a lot easier to buy a new shirt or skirt than try to figure out an outfit from old stuff that I’m sick of already.
This is only Day 1 with a total of $8 spent (on oranges, cilantro and other grocery store fruits) and who knows how much saved. As I sit here freezing (68 degrees on the thermostat) with a hat on and 2 pairs of socks I’m excited to see what other revelations come into being throughout the year… however hard it is in the beginning I think it will be worth it in the end.
Back in my home town of York, pa a local film critic spent half of every review she wrote explaining why it is so awesome that she is a film critic. ¾ of the column was dedicated to her awesomeness yet the review totally stunk.
Since my Spending Fast is coming up in 2 days (ack.) I was thinking that I need to figure out what I might need for the entire next year and just hurry up and buy it all right now. What holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, trips might possibly come up?
I’ll plan for it ALL RIGHT NOW and then this whole challenge will be A WHOLE WHOLE LOT EASIER.
I probably should buy a whole bunch of those bank gift cards where there is a certain amount of money on em and then I will be set for any uncomfortable/difficult/don’twannadothespendingfastanymore moments.
I’m not gonna do that but that’s a good idea huh.
Here are some of the items that I have bought in my last minute hastiness before the spending fast starts. I just NEED this stuff. Right. (See. I tried to tell you I have spending issues):
A stamp set. Never know when this may come in handy!fancy hair ties. uhh. when rubberbands just won’t do.
i have no excuse. they sold me. blasted home shopping network.
It’d be appropriate to say that yes, last minute panic is setting in. I’m starting to worry about the reality of how this will work and if I will really be able to pull this off.
A lot of people are asking me questions about different scenarios that may happen throughout the year and how I will handle them all and really, I don’t know all or even most of the answers to their questions. “We’ll see” I say to them while wondering to myself how it will really all shake out. I feel that I don’t have to know how every detail will go down and that part of this will be figuring out how to do a year-long spending fast while messing up and sometimes doing it just right.
So, I know some of you are thinking “Well… you’ve got to spend SOME money this year don’t you!?” and my answer to all of ya’ll (imagine that with a southern twang) is “Yes, I will have to.” Oh yeah, I’ll HAVE TO. Force me why don’t you.
I imagine that this will kind of be like a person who is in Overeaters Anonymous who must still eat but can only consume the “right” stuff. Where it would be a whole lot easier if you could just eliminate it completely from your life.
The goal of this whole spending fast is to get my spending back on track, save some money and get rid of a lot of the clutter and time sucking that comes along with having a lot of stuff and buying the new stuff. Managing it, maintaining it, cleaning it, rearranging it, you know.
Plus, I want my priorities to go like this: people and relationships are #1 and I don’t want things to be at the top or even close to the top of the list. Where as now, that can become questionable sometimes.
Setting up my priorities like that makes sense.
Obviously, situations will happen this year that I won’t be able to predict, so I’m gonna have to weigh those unexpected situations and remember that my motto has to be “Make Do and Mend” rather than “Make More and Spend, More.”
Ok. So. Here is the brutal break-down of how things will be going down this year:
My Wants and Needs List…
What I will have to spend money on:
Utilities (keeping lights and water off as much as possible; keeping the thermostat at 68 and wearing a hat and long johns inside, if needed)
My idea is to go on a spending fast for a year – spending money on necessities only- to see what the heck happens.
When I mentioned to a good friend that I was thinking about going on a spending fast for 2010 she sighed and said “Well, that doesn’t sound very fun.” Then, I told my husband what I was thinking about doing and he wasn’t very excited about it either. He said “Great. No more fun. No more eating out. This is gonna suck.”
I have to tell you, I feel the same way. Who would want to not get want they want? I’m the type that buys what she wants when she wants because I work hard and I feel like I deserve it. I know plenty of people that have the same feelings as I do about work and money and spending and not spending.
Inside my head I hear this loudly: “YOU DESERVE IT! YOU WORK SOOO HARD!!” and truly, I believe that I do. I mean, I woke up early for goodness-sake! I did what was asked of me and I was even nice while doing it! I DESERVE that super cute thingy or hat or whatever from Etsy dammit! (by the way, at last count I have 71 (!) yes- 71 pages of favorites!! ack!) Besides, I work a full-time day job AND I run a full-time wedding photography business AND what else can I think of? I do a lot and my spending is justified… until it isn’t anymore.
When I was planning for our wedding that took place in May 2009 my dad gave me a little chunk of money that I could use as needed for wedding stuff. I got really used to having that money around. Being able to spend like I wanted helped me morph a kinda-bad habit into a super-bad habit. And once the wedding rolled around and things changed from “planning the soon to be fond memories” phase to the “oh, remember that?” phase… guess what didn’t stop when the planning stopped? My spending.
And.. that’s where I am today… starting January 1st, I’m gonna spend money on necessities only and I’m fully prepared for this to suck.
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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