“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Confucius
Paying off an extra $20 a month on your debts or saving $5 here and $10 there doesn’t seem like much. I know. When there’s a mountain of debt to move, it can be overwhelming. When there’s so little in your savings account, it’s easy to justify spending over savings. But the big things happen when you start carrying away those small stones. One day at a time, you can move mountains.
Tell me how you are moving mountains in the comments!
Drumroll please… August’s Collective Savings totals are in! For August we saved/paid off $28,350.19! That brings our total to: $836,355.30!
August’s savings were quite a bit lower that previous months savings and I’m guessing that has to do with summer vacations and a lot more activities and social events happening. Or… maybe people just forgot to add their amounts to the page.;) Either way, we’ve got another month ahead of us to buckle down and get some debt paid off!
If you’re new to the site and have no idea what in the world I’m talking about, lemme fill you in. Every month we all add what we’ve saved/paid off to the Collective Savings page and then at the end of the month we get to see how much everyone’s saved, collectively. It’s a fun way to stay motivated and know that you’re not the only one out there on a mission to end your debt, because, lordy, I know it can feel that way at times!
Be sure to add your savings so we can include your accomplishments to next months total. – Anna
“That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.”
During my spending diet, I learned to take pleasure in small things. A good cup of homemade coffee, free hikes at a local park and reading on a rainy day. It’s cliche, but the best things in life are free.
What are your favorite cheap pleasures? Chat with me in the comments!
“What winning is to me is not giving up, no matter what’s thrown at me, I can take it. And I can keep going.”
There’s going to be pitfalls on our path to saving. During my spending diet, I had a wedding, a broken air conditioner and so many little temptations thrown at me. But even when I messed up, even when I spent more than I intended, I knew that I could keep going. I could pick myself up and do better next time. And you can too. Keep going.
How are you persevering in your money saving journey? Talk to me in the comments!
People often think of being frugal as being cheap. But they aren’t interchangeable. Being frugal is saving money on things you don’t care about, so you can spend money on what’s important. It’s bringing your lunch to work so you can go out to eat with a special someone on the weekend. It’s forgoing the newest fashions so you can take that dream trip to Bali with your best friends. And it’s using those 2-for-1 coupons so you can buy one canned good for yourself and donate the other.
Do you agree? Does frugality include all other virtues? Talk to me in the comments!
“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.”
Being broke and in debt can take a mental and emotional toll. It can make us feel like we can’t do anything. “I can’t get in shape because I can’t afford a gym membership.” “I can’t eat healthy because I can’t afford healthy foods.” “I can’t have a social life because I don’t have any money.” All those thoughts have run through my head. But they’re just excuses. It’s true, being broke makes almost everything more difficult, but it also makes us more creative. It forces us to think about the things we can change. We can eat healthy on a budget. We can exercise outside of a gym and we can have a social life with a limited income. It just takes a little creativity, know-how, effort and time.
How are you overcoming the mental and emotional challenges of saving? Talk to me in the comments!
“We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.”
What we spend our money on says a lot about us. Do you value healthy eating? Then your bank account (who uses a checkbook anymore?!) should reflect that. You should have deductions for the grocery store, not the drive-thru.
I want to challenge you to think about your values and then look at your bank statement. Is your money spent a reflection of your values? If not, what can you do to change? Talk to me in the comments!
I am happy to report that at the end of June I finished my Spending Diet! For a year, I spent only $100 each month on unnecessary stuff. I can’t believe it’s over! There for a while, I thought it would never end, but now it feels like it went by so quickly.
For the most part, I succeeded in my plan. There’s been some unexpected expenses along the way, life’s all about unexpected expenses, am I right?! But overall, I stuck to my guns and drum roll, please…
I saved $12,441.99 on my Spending Diet!
I was hoping to save $15,000, but considering that I saved about half of my paycheck each month, I consider this a huge success. I also don’t plan on going back to my old ways, so I think I’ll hit my $15,000 goal in a few months.
I know that everyone’s life is different and different money tricks will work for different people. Here’s some tips and tricks that worked for me during my Spending Diet.
“One penny may seem to you a very insignificant thing, but it is the small seed from which fortunes spring.”
It’s easy to disregard small amounts of money. I’ve done it. “It’s just a dollar.” “It’s just five dollars.” But we never know how small amounts of money can spring into fortunes. Remember Ashley’s story?
How have you made your pennies grow? Talk to me in the comments!
“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”
Math was never my strong subject in school, but I learned enough to get by. But money is another story. I learned more about money in my first month of living on my own than I ever learned in my first semester of Algebra. Teaching myself through trial and error, failure and even online classes has been more enlightening and helped me save more than a formal education could.
How have you been pro-active and taught yourself about money? Let’s chat in the comments!
“The art is not in making money, but in keeping it.”
Sometimes making money can be a challenge. We work hard for the money, right?! But the art is being able to hold on to the pennies in your pocket. The art is putting those pennies into a savings account. The art is waiting to cash in those pennies until we truly need it.
What clever or artful ways have you kept your money safe? Talk to me in the comments!
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you do not have. Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
When you’re in the midst of a Savings Diet or a Spending Fast, it’s easy to think about the things you are missing out on. Good ol’ F.O.M.O. But it’s just as important to remember how far you’ve come and how much you saved. Six months, three months or just a month ago, you were wishing that you could save some money and now you have! You’re doing things that you only wished for. You’re amazing! Don’t spoil that!
How have you remained grateful during your saving journey? Let’s chat in the comments!
People get into debt for a variety of reasons, but one of the big ones is spending money before you have it. And it’s so easy to do, right? We whip out that credit card one too many times and suddenly we’ve got a bigger balance than we can pay. It happens to the best of us. I’ve recently taken to leaving my credit cards at home so I don’t have the temptation to swipe recklessly.
How have you stopped yourself from spending money before you have it? Talk to me in the comments!
Perspective has so much to do with wealth. If we are the man (or woman) who craves more, we’ll never be wealthy and we’ll never be happy. We’ll always be looking for that next bigger, shinier toy or that new and improved thing-a-ma-bob. During my quest to save money I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching. I’ve had to find out what is important to me and I’ve learned to be more grateful in the process.
Has changing your perspective changed the way you think about wealth? Talk to me in the comments.
Some people are very fortunate to have great neighbors that they interact with every day. I happen to be lucky in that area. There are for owners in my particular area of the building, and we all like each other and get along really good. We are part of a bigger complex (2 buildings total), and there is an HOA involved with the management of the property. I shared some of my experience with our HOA in this post: Belong to an HOA? Dude, I Feel Your Pain. How to Cope…
If we didn’t live in a condo I doubt we’d know many of our neighbors. Most of our friends don’t know their neighbors. I don’t know about you but it seems so easy to just stay in a little bubble and not interact with people much. A sign of the times, maybe? When I was a kid growing in Newport News, Virginia, we knew all of our neighbors and hung out with them ALL THE TIME. It was fun, and helped build a sense of community.
If you’re one of the many you also has no idea who their neighbors are, I would like to suggest some benefits of befriending them.
Here are 12 reasons why it can be highly beneficial (and financially-wise) to introduce yourself around your neighborhood and get to know your neighbors:
“It’s just a $5 latte.” “It’s just a $10 lunch.” “It’s just a $20 t-shirt.” It’s so easy to justify small purchases, but we all know those small purchases can add up. Beware of those little expenses. Don’t let small leaks sink your big dreams.
Let me know how you are making small savings count in the comments.
According to Warren Buffett, the rules of money are simple. “Rule number 1: Never lose money. Rule number 2: Don’t forget rule number 1.” And yet, we often break the rules. We lose money on bad investments or that late-night TV gadget. We lose money in the pockets of old jeans and from mindless online shopping. And the worst part about losing money isn’t just losing money, it’s losing your pride.
Have you ever broken Warren Buffett’s simple money rules? Tell me about it in the comments.
I’ve got some exciting news! Starting today we’re going to start featuring some real-life Spending Fasters! We’ll still be following along with Melanie, Jenn, and Kelly’s Spending Fasts and Spending Diets but this new column with be more of one-off posts. We’ll get insights on how these Spending Fasters got started with their Fast, why they decided to take the Spending Fast or Spending Diet approach, how it’s been going, what the future plans are, and other fun stuff like that.
I get so many awesome emails from you all, and it always blows my mind what you’re accomplishing with the Spending Fast and Spending Diet. I’m super excited about sharing more of the awesome getting of of debt inspiration with you! (Btw, if you’d like to share your story in this new column shoot me an email with the subject line: Real-Life Spending Faster! to email@example.com)
Today, we’re going to get the party started with Nancy! – Anna
Real-Life Spending Faster: Nancy
My name is Nancy. I’m 40 and have been teaching in the same district for 12 years. I take home about $1,000 a week, which is decent pay, but I live in Westchester, New York. In case you’re not familiar, Westchester is a suburb of NYC, and living in Westchester takes serious money. My awesome husband works in the city.
After two years of expensive (and exhausting) fertility treatments we still have no children. (We do have one round, sweet, old kitty cat.)
My husband and I have our finances semi-separate. We have access to each other’s accounts but we each maintain our own except for an emergency savings fund that we make joint decisions on. Both of us pay any credit card charges in full at the end of each month – YAY!!! We have no car payments thanks to our thrifty philosophy about vehicles (to be expanded upon at a later time…)
My husband and I are expecting our first baby in August, and as I’m going through the “Must-Haves” on the registry site, I’m seeing a lot of things that seem more like “wants.” I know every family and every baby is different, but I was wondering—What were you told was absolutely required, but that you found completely unnecessary? What were you hesitant to get, but once you had it, you wondered why you waited so long?
Thrifty Mom to Be
Dear Thrifty Mom to Be, First of all congratulations!
Every baby is completely different but for us, here are a few of the things we’ve found unnecessary:Read More »
Money is not the only answer. I could always use more money, but I also feel like I need more time. I need more time to spend with my family and more time to work on my dream projects. And sometimes money can help me buy more time. I recently (begrudgingly) shelled out for a personal trainer to show me how lift weights so I’m not wasting my time during my workouts. It’s made a huge difference in how I workout. I now don’t waste time wondering what I should do.
Do you struggle with needing more time? Have you ever exchanged money for time? Talk to me in the comments!
We all know eating out is expensive but do know exactly how much more you’re getting charged than if you were to cook at home? Restaurants.com reports that pop is marked up 800%, potatoes 977%, pizza 600 to 800%, salmon 900 – 1000%, chicken noodle soup has a 1650% markup, and since eggs wholesale for less than 10 cents apiece — and are one of the least labor-intensive dishes — they are one of the absolute most marked up restaurant foods with the average egg dish costing $5-$12.
Eating out is easy, fun, and quick but if you find yourself indulging a bit too much you may be pushing your wallet to the limit. Today, I’ve got 8 quick tricks to get yourself to eat at home more.
8 Quick Tricks to Get Yourself to Eat at Home More…
1.Don’t let yourself get too hungry or tired.
Who hasn’t been on the way home after a long day at the office and you know the last thing you want to do is cook a meal. Be sure to take an actual lunch break and eat snacks throughout the day if you need to. Also, resist the urge to stay up late scrolling through an Instagram black hole into the wee hours of the night so you get all the sleep your body requires.
Having a plan in place will help you end that omnipresent question: “What should we eat for dinner?” Pre-planning your meals for the week really doesn’t take that long (use these free meal-planning calendars) but it makes a huge difference with how much time and money you can save by doing so.
Starting a new habit is hard. Starting a new habit when you’re busy and broke, that’s even harder. But there is nothing so habit-forming as money. It can be a great motivator. I hate running, but I know I’d run faster if I saw a crisp $100 bill at the end of the finish line.
Have you ever tried to use money as a motivator to help you reach your goals? Let me hear about it in the comments!
This past month I celebrated my birthday. Prior to the Spending Diet, I would have probably bought myself an unnecessary gift… and treated myself to a fancy dinner… and then maybe to overpriced cupcakes and wine. This year was a much quieter affair. My birthday wasn’t a “big” or significant birthday. I didn’t go on vacation. I didn’t even take off work. My husband made me a nice dinner and a fruit cake– literally a cake made completely out of fruit. It was impressive and super thoughtful. Read More »
Hi! I’m Melanie. I’m a librarian by night and a blogger by day. I live with my husband, George and my dog, Bambi in a 1978 Airstream Sovereign. I’ll be working on a new column here at ATWS about people living tiny for financial reasons. We’ll be showing house tours and answering all the questions you always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask! As a tiny houser, I’m going to be introducing the column with my story.
Almost two years ago, George and I were at a crossroads. We were recently married, I had a new job opportunity in a new area and we were broke. We didn’t have an extravagant wedding by any standards, but we did spend the majority of our meager savings on the event. We took a look at our budget, started looking at apartments in the new area and we were instantly discouraged. We knew that we couldn’t get ahead financially by renting an apartment. We also knew that we wouldn’t qualify for a mortgage. We had no credit and almost no savings. We saw an endless cycle of debt in front of us and we wanted out. Read More »
If you are from one of the many planets that Captain Kirk discovered during his travels, you might think that saving money on planet earth is a bad thing. We live in a world where we’re told to spend, spend, spend. We’re rarely told to save, save, save. But in this case, I think William Shatner is right. We need to save before we can spend.
How are you working towards saving before you spend? Let me know in the comments!
Financial fitness takes time, effort and dedication. Just like physical fitness, there is no magic pill, no overnight success and no easy route. Financial fitness is a lifelong journey, but the trip is just as important as the destination.
How do you sustain longterm financial fitness?Let me know in the comments!
There are two kinds of people in this world, people who have money and people who are rich. Personally, I’d much rather be someone who is rich. I feel rich when I think of my small, messy home. I feel rich when I look at my imperfect family. And I feel not only rich, but wealthy, when I can spend my money on experiences, not things.
Do you think of yourself as “rich?” Talk to me in the comments!
It’s Tax Day — a notoriously un-fun day. But what if debt or other life events have been making you feel down on other days too? Quell any feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness by continually seeking out reasons to be a little more content each and every day. Feeling down can affect your finances in ways you may not even realize. For instance, when you feel down do you really want to make the effort to bag a healthy lunch or do you want to get the quick fix? I always go for the quick fix when I’m feeling shitty. What about when you’re not feeling 100% at work? Do you want to do what it takes to go the extra mile, and take your business to the next level or to be a super nice team-player? Nope. See, feeling good really does impact how much you make, how much progress you make each day, and how your employees and co-workers see you. So, if you’re feeling down, here are 17 pick-me-ups that you can take advantage of.
The other day in this post: Real Talk: If Only Perfection Could be Bought on Amazon (Part 1), I talked about how I’m always on the hunt for something to make my life easier and better. I want it to be something I can buy on Amazon and have mailed right to me. Easy, right? With just a couple clicks, and after a zillion dollars spent, I’d be totally perfect!
I came to the conclusion that I needed to be easier on myself, and I realized that I’ve been waaaaay over-committing. The past few days I’ve been going through every part of my life. It seems the technology part has really gotten out of control so I’ve been unsubscribing and cancelling things. It’s so easy to forget about the mental clutter that “little”, seemingly insignificant things take up. Physical clutter is easier to spot. I worked really, really hard to get out of debt, and the whole reason I wanted to get out of debt was to have be able to have freedom and some choices, not to be even more stressed out!
In addition to adopting a Minimalist Mind I’m taking action (in the corniest way possible. I’ll be the first to admit this whole “affirmation” thing feels corny as all hell). You may have noticed a LONNNNNNNNG delay from Part 1 of this post to today’s Part 2. I knew that if I put this post up I’d have to start doing these affirmations. I’ve been avoiding this but, today’s the day.
Instead of buying to zone out and make myself feel better I’m going to do some work, internally. Below are a whole bunch of affirmations. Most are ones I’ve completely made up. Those represent my ideal life or situation. With others, they’re true but I find myself forgetting about them. Others are more of a wishful thinking situation… almost like, if I believe it to be true, it will be, type of thing.
From the research I’ve done, the key with affirmations is to try to truly believe what you are telling yourself. Act as if it’s true. Feel what it would feel like if it were true. Let your face and body experience what you’re saying as if, “Of course, there could be nothing more true in the world!”. Fake it till you make it, right? It’s not about simply repeating a list super quick, and breezing through it just to check it off your To Do list. Also, saying some of the confirmation’s there’s a tendency to want to tell yourself things like, “Uh, yeah right!”, “Pshaw!, hardly…”, or, “That’ll never happen!” Apparently, you’ve got to just go with it. Believe it.
The key, so I hear, is to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself these things. I’ve also heard that if you want to “super-charge” your self-esteem, confidence, and really change your internal thoughts about yourself you should say these to yourself as often as 3x a day. Or, in the alternative, you can take what is called the “lazy-man’s” method for changing your life. This approach is when you record the affirmations, put the recording on a loop, and place the speaker under your pillow so all the positiveness seeps into your sub-conscious while you sleep.
Pick a few from the list that truly resonate with you. Pick ones that represent your ideal life. Or, use the below examples as a guide to create affirmations that truly mean something to you.
I’m going to pick 5 of the most vital ones to start with and see how that goes. Also, I hear it can take up to 6 months to feel different so hang in there if you don’t notice massive changes right away.
I’ve included a printable PDF of both of these lists. The link to that is at the bottom of this post.
I’ll admit it. I’ve considered doing some scandalous/shady things in an effort to save money. Semi-scandalous stuff I’m usually okay with but I would never rip someone off or do anything illegal to save money ’cause, you know, that’d be stealing.Which is obviously not cool. The key is going right up to the scandalous line but not crossing it.
If you are extremely frugal, you are most likely ALWAYS trying to find new ways to get things completely for free or totally cheap. After all, there’s no point in shelling out your hard-earned money for something you can get for free! While there are a variety of ways to score free goods, some of them may be borderline immoral or perhaps even illegal so use your judgment.
Scandalous (and Semi-Scandalous) Ways to Get Free Stuff…
A friend sent me this link to the Portlandia sketch called Birthday Loan Officer that originally aired a year-ish ago. (I don’t know how in the world I’m just seeing this now!) Raise your hand if you can relate. (I’m raising my hand over here, btw.:P)
Generally speaking, I am not a fan of spending money to get money but Dave points out 8 situations where spending actually helps you save- helping you to ultimately get out of debt quicker.
Dave B. is a small business owner who resides in Atlanta and writes about strategies to save money and get out of debt. – Anna
When it comes to getting out of debt, it seems obvious that the first thing you should do is save money, right? And the best way to save money would be to spend less of it, correct? Well, yes and no. Actually, there are some instances where spending more money can actually help you get out of debt. Once I finally wrapped my head around this idea, I managed to conserve more money than ever before and ended up getting myself out of debt much faster. Here’s a list of things that worked for me on my quest.
8 Ways Spending Money Can Help Get You Out of Debt…
1. Down Payments
The zero-down offers made by car dealerships are tempting, but you might pay more in the long run. For example, I recently purchased a car for $15,000, and put $5,000 down. I financed the rest for 60 months at 4% interest. In total, I’m going to be spending approximately $21,575. Had I put $0 down, this number would be $22,100. That’s $525 I saved just by making a significant initial payment. The same is true for money put down on a home. Bumping up your down payment from $6,000 to $10,000 on a $200,000 30-year fixed mortgage with a 4% interest rate saves you almost $3,000.
2. Insurance Premiums
In the past, when my auto insurance bill came in the mail, I just made each monthly payment and moved on. After I took a look at it, though, I found that I could save a full month or even more by paying it all off at once. My provider had a discount program in place where I essentially got one month free by paying it in full. I also noticed that I was being charged a $3 processing fee each month, so by paying the full balance I saved another $36 for the year.
3. Large Purchases
If you spend $400 on a 46-inch flat-screen TV made by a lesser-known manufacturer, you may think you’re getting a deal. However, if the TV malfunctions a year after you buy it, you might be left out in the cold. Most of the time, it’s cheaper to replace these high-end items rather than pay to have them fixed. If the power supply or picture tube on your flat-screen TV goes out, plan on spending $400 or even more to have it repaired.
That’s why it makes sense to spend a little more on quality. In most cases you can get yourself a mid-level flat-screen TV for about $100 extra, which is money well spent. You don’t necessarily need to purchase a Sony or a Samsung, but stay away from the really cheap brands like Seiki, Westinghouse, and Dynex. The same holds true for laptop computers and any other major purchases.
Having more Date nights showed up on my list of things to work on in 2015. (We went out the other night and we saw The Theory of Everything. It was amazing. Try to see it if you haven’t already. If Eddie Redmayne doesn’t win the Oscar I’ll be shocked. He’s so talented.) Dates are such a great way to connect with your loved one whether you are married or still enjoying the early stages of a relationship. However, being on a debt free quest or making the decision to live frugally can sometimes throw an old monkey wrench in the romantic liaisons department. While thrifty thinking can change your automatic date instincts it definitely doesn’t mean that all those fun nights together have to end. Oh heck no. Just like with most things, when you’re being careful with your money you just need to get a little creative with your plans.
Here are 24 ways to celebrate a date night for $10 or less…
December was the month that I had anticipated a spending spree. With the holidays in full swing, I always have the tendency to overdo things– more gifts, more food, more spending and ultimately, more regret! I had been (fairly) good all year, but I was afraid that somehow the spirit of St. Nicholas would possess my body and credit card. But lucky for me, I’m a planner, I had planned and purchased most of my gifts before December ever rolled around. I had budgeted just $100 for holiday gifts. I did use $100 separate from my $100 Spending Diet fund, but it was $100 none the less. It was still a challenge. I did obsess over the $100 gift budget. I planned sales, I planned coupons and I did more math than I had done in the last 5 years. I also had a strategy. Here’s some things that helped me…
Last Thursday was a big day because that was the day I handed over my book manuscript to the publisher!
Last week was intense. Monday I worked on it 17 hours. Tuesday 14 hours, and Wednesday, another 17 hours. On Wednesday I didn’t go to sleep until 5:30 am, and then I woke up at 7:30 am to get right back to work. Even though I’ve been working on the book for the past year there were just all these little things that I wanted to tweak to make it just right. 65,000 words of Spending Fast goodness were handed over at 4:30pm EST. I was so wound up from adrenaline that I was buzzing around the rest of the day. Then, I crashed on Friday, and spent the next couple of days recovering! :)
Now, all sorts of things will take place leading up to the book’s publication which will be in January 2016. Another few rounds of edits will take place. The cover will get designed, the illustrations will be put into place (you’ll LOVE them, btw!), and the layout with be laid (?… lol).
It’s all so exciting! Thanks for being a part of the process, and for letting me share this big accomplishment with you! xo, Anna
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.
There are people that will always say “there’s just no money to save!” (I know because I used to be one of those people!). Luckily, there are actually A TON of ways to get some cash back into your pockets by doing a few simple things around the house. We all know there is no better time than right now to start saving more money!
I’ve compiled a massive list for you, and I’d love to hear what you do to save money around the house. Let me know in the comments, and tell me if I missed anything! I always love hearing what you all do to save because y’all are always coming up with clever ways to save money that just blow my mind.
This post is part of my ongoing collaboration with Kmart. – Anna
I’ve really been enjoying the Christmas season this year despite it being unseasonably warm this year here in Denver. So, I’ve been staying up late at night to put on Christmas music, bake, and pretend its snowing outside. Baked goods are such an inexpensive little gift to give so I’m planning on giving the goodies to neighbors and friends. I’ll put a few treats in a plastic baggie, tie some yarn around the top, print out some holiday tags, write a little note, and call it good.
Last year Baby Henry was just about 2 months around this time but this year he’s old enough to really enjoy all the lights and wrapping paper. We’ve kept our decorations pretty simple because we knew his crabby little baby hands would have a hard time resisting low ornaments on a tree so we went with a sweet, mini tabletop tree, wrapped a bunch of colorful lights around it, and filled it up with all of our “vintage” macaroni and toilet paper roll ornaments from me and Aaron’s childhoods.
Decorating for the holidays is a tradition like none other—from decking the halls to trimming the tree—every family has its own unique way of getting their home ready for the season.
Gift giving can so easily get out of hand. People often want (or feel obligated) to give more than what they really can actually afford. In some families, gift giving becomes sooo overblown because people end up feeling guilty or frustrated they can’t spend what others can. Don’t worry about them. You do you. While Christmas is the season of giving, you should never give more than you have. It truly is the thought that counts… even if you feel pressured to spend a certain amount. Make an effort to find ways to reduce your spending, and stress, by trying to focus on enjoying the togetherness of family and friends. And getting that to be enough.
You can successfully cut down on your holiday gift giving without being labeled a Scrooge by…
Checking Your List Twice.If you have a traditional gift list, take it out and review it carefully. You may be surprised to learn just how many people you buy gifts for each year. If you don’t have an official list, now is the time to make one. Be honest about writing down each and every person that you plan on buying gifts for. Then, take the time to review it carefully. Some people you may be able to talk to (like siblings, for example), and just ask them if you can skip the gift exchange this year. My sister, Kelly, is on a Spending Fast, as you know, and she had this conversation with all of us. Also, my husband, has this arrangement with his siblings every year, and it works out great.
Making Christmas for the kids. As a family, make the suggestion that adults should only buy gifts for the kids of the family. Set the kid age limit from 0 to 18 or 21 so everyone is on the same page.
Deciding on an adult name swap. If your family isn’t happy with just the kids getting something to unwrap Christmas morning, agree to name swap among the adults. Each adult’s name gets put into a hat and drawn by the other adults. Or, if you’re all in different states one person will be the leader by putting everyone’s name in the hat, pulling the names, and informing everyone of who their gift recipient is.
Skipping the stockings. Unless your family has a strong tradition surrounding the stockings hung by the fireplace, leave them empty. The extra candy and junk toys likely won’t be missed and you can save additional cash by focusing on the larger gifts wrapped under the tree. Or you can go back to the days of old and fill stockings with fresh fruit (or coal;).
Setting affordable spending limits. Set a reasonable spending limit everyone can afford. This can be a great way to set a limit (say $30-ish), give 1 person something they really want (rather than them getting lots of small things they don’t really care for), and everyone ends up spending quite a bit less overall.
Asking for a wish list. To prevent spending money on gifts no one likes, ask for a wish list from everyone with three or four things listed in the right price range to help point people in the right shopping direction.
Banking cash for family trips. For families that don’t have small children to give to, perhaps an all-year around savings plan can be put in place towards group holiday family vacations. Stop spending so much money during the holidays and invest it wisely in a vacation fund for next year. As a family, choose the destination together. With a great trip on the horizon, people likely won’t even miss not having gifts under the tree. (Make a tasty breakfast then volunteer Christmas morning if you’re worried about their being a hole where you’d normally be opening gifts. OR, this is one of my favorite ideas, write each other letters telling each other things you love about one another, put them all under the tree, and read them silently or to each other. Guaranteed tears, people.)
Planing a party. If an annual family vacation isn’t in the cards, try saving gift money to go towards a big holiday party. Focus on the people that are invited, and not on the decorations or material things. Make it a time to really remember for each of your friends and family members invited. Have everyone chip in for the food so the financial burden isn’t left to just one person or the family where the event is being held.
Opting out at work. Work-related expenses can be a large burden and also the cause of hurt feelings. Suggest that co-workers move to a Secret Santa idea with strict spending limits for gift-giving to cut down on expenses. You may also want to consider opting out completely of holiday gift-giving. Bring your co-workers homemade cookies or some other treat instead. I did this in the past by adding a nice note, a cute free printable holiday tag, and it worked perfectly.
Do you make an attempt to keep the gift-giving reeled in or do you go hog wild and deal with the consequences later? Do you have any tips for keeping costs down during the holidays?
Making some extra cash for the holidays is a good way to feel better about the spending you do. You can limit the debts you’re creating and hopefully move into the New Year with a clean financial slate. Consider earning extra holiday cash to pay for the gifts you buy or for the party you plan to throw. The holidays are a prime time to take advantage of other people’s very busy schedules. A lot of times people will be willing to pay you to lighten their load by taking care of things they cannot. Win. Win.
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?
Continuing on with my Kmart partnership, I’m sharing something that is super important to me, spreading kindness! If you are short on ideas or just need a boost of inspiration here is a post called 134 Random Acts of Kindness Ideas that will give a great list to start on.
This holiday season, it feels like people I’ve run into have been especially kind. People have held the door open for me when I’ve had my hands full with Henry, and groceries, they’ve been letting me into traffic even when the traffic is thick and busy, and there was the clerk at the grocery store who went out of his way to help me out with something, and all that goodness that I’ve been fortunate to receive reminds me to spread the love too. I always try to, of course, but sometimes, it’s so nice to have those reminders.
I’m so thankful to have all of those in my life who are healthy and happy (especially my baby son), and I really want to give to those who are not. Kmart makes it easy to give back because between 12/7 and 12/13 (today!), Kmart is donating $1 to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital for every Fab 15 toy that is purchased (up to a max of 25k). Kmart is one of the all-time leading St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fundraising partner, and they have already donated more than 10 million this holiday season alone (!!!).
Here are a couple other ways you can support St. Jude through Kmart this season…
Have you seen these terrible videos from the chaos and fights from Black Friday? Oh my word. I had absolutely no idea it could get that violent and chaotic. I naively thought it was just some pushing at the most. :/ These are making me sick.
A Black Friday fight where a person gets tasered…
Video from the store that cops got called to..
This brawl is the absolute worst one in my opinion. It’s just insane, and it’s all because of some underwear!…
This video of The Worst Black Friday Disasters is actually completely disgusting, and, really, very disturbing…
Were you out on Black Friday? If so, did you see any of this craziness?! What can be done to end this chaos?
A few days ago we talked about the advantages that introverts have with money so today, let’s talk about extroverts. Extroverts are of the personality persuasion that is boisterous and enthusiast, and they feel energized by being around people which is the complete opposite of their quiet counterparts – the introverts. Those with an extrovert personality may appear to be apt to spending more and being frivolous with their cash in general. However, the qualities that go along with an extrovert personality may actually give this type of person some advantages in the personal finance department.
Here are 7 advantages extroverts may have when it comes to money…
1. They May Have Better Job Prospects
Extroverts may be inclined to go after and accept a larger pool of job opportunities. While introverts may prefer more low-key, solitary, behind-the-scenes work, an extrovert may view a variety of job opportunities and figure out way to make them work to their own advantage. They can find success in a variety of industries and often feel comfortable with adapting to new and fast-paced environments.
2. They May Have Better Networking Success
For extroverts working in sales and similar jobs, their ability to be socially adventurous and confident can provide more opportunities for earning and investing money. So much of business revolves around making the right connections and networking with the right people. Because extroverts are not wallflowers by nature, they are more likely to jump right in and get to know everyone. They are also more likely than their counterparts to even show up for networking events.
3. They May Be More Successful at Entrepreneurial Pursuits
Extroverts are more willing to take chances if they feel it will be worth their while. This quality may help with entrepreneurial ideas and actions. Extroverts may be more likely to take business risks that earn them more money and power in the long run.
On Thanksgiving day, I won’t be partaking in the turkey eating because I’m a Vegetarian/Pepperotarian (a Pepperotarian is someone who avoids all meats except for pepperoni on pizza. The Pepperotarian is a not so distant cousin of the Baconotarian. Basically, I’m a super shitty Vegetarian), but for the large majority of people, a Thanksgiving turkey is the centerpiece the holiday dinner. Turkeys are typically sold by the pound so if you have a big family to feed, the turkey cost can be on the high side. For people who are in dire financial straits, there are ways to get access to a free turkey and other meal staples through local food banks and churches. For people who want to be frugal, there are other ways to score a free turkey without taking anything away from those who are financially disadvantaged.
Here are 5 ways to get your Thanksgiving turkey for free…
We were cleaning out the kitchen cabinet, and realized that we have 2 or more of a lot of things that we don’t need 2 or more of.
I don’t see everything we own so I think we don’t have what we need so then we buy whatever it is again, and then we don’t realize what we’ve done until we go through things again!
– 3 containers of counter wipes
– 3 bottles of dish soap
– 2 bottles of hand soap
– 2 massive sponges
– 2 bottles of toilet bowl cleaner
– 2 bottles of multi-purpose non-toxic concentrate cleaner
– 2 containers of wood floor solution
Morale of the story: clean out the cabinets more often, keep similar items together so you can easily see what you have, look in your cabinets before you before you buy, remember what you own, keep in mind that you tend to forget what you have (talking to myself).
Many renters think a benefit of not owning a home is skipping out on the costs of insurance. However, as a renter, insurance should still be a consideration. One incident such as a fire or a burglary could seriously jack up your financial life. There’s no reason for that kind of stress when it’s really a pretty inexpensive thing to get considering all the peace of mind you’ll have in return. Trust me, after our recent car theft I am thinking about how awesome insurance is these days!
We’ve had lots of family in town lately which has been awesome. Right before our guests arrive we go through our place, and tidy up. Part of that process includes refilling the hand soap containers. There’s something about “name brand” hand soap that just feels luxurious or something. It’s got it’s pretty package, it smells good (like, REALLY good), and, oh yeah, it costs like, $7 bucks a bottle (booo).
I always imagine that wealthy people just buy the name brand, great smelling hand soap without thinking twice about it. Which is awesome, IF you want to spend your money on soap. Me? I’d rather spend it on other stuff.
I know this idea isn’t ground-breaking or anything, but this is what I do to still have my good smelling soap but without the cost…
Last week I posted about how our car got stolen. Well, it was recovered about 5 miles from our house near the football stadium in town! As expected, all of the baby stuff was stolen. The car seat, the car seat base, the car seat carrier/stroller thing, as well as, Aaron’s prescription sunglasses, the stereo face, a multi-tool, a wood-cutting axe (super random, I know), and a few mix CD’s that I had made. (Hey, at least the thieves have good taste in music? ;) They also took the 10 month sticker off of the license plate. Really, though, I’m just SO incredibly relieved to have the car back. All of the things that were stolen from the car ended up being less than our $500 deductible so we ended up withdrawing our insurance claims since it wouldn’t’ve paid out anyway.
We had to pick up the car from the city’s impound lot (the above pics are from our multiple visits there), and then we’ve had the car at the auto repair shop since last week to see what, and if, anything was missing internally from the car, and to make sure it was safe to drive. We didn’t want to put the baby in there until we knew, for sure, that it was totally safe.
Today, we found out that there was nothing wrong with the car (!), all the parts were still in it, and there was, shockingly, no external body damage! I’d say as far as having had a car stolen goes we pretty much lucked out!
Cost of having the car stolen:
– New car seat (we went with one that he’ll be able to use until he is 65 pounds): $160
It’s been a little quiet on the blog this week since it’s been super crazy/chaotic-ville over here on the other side. On Saturday night/early Sunday morning, our car got stolen right out of the parking spot we park in every night. Our parking spot is right behind our building, and we’ve always felt pretty safe parking it there. It is right off of an alleyway but we didn’t ever feel concerned about that since just about every parking spot in our neighborhood is either on a busy street or off of an alleyway. Plus, we don’t have a fancy car. It’s a very modest, used ’98 Honda CRV. It’s a solid car but nothing like a shiny Lexus or BMW that screams, “Hey, right here! Steal me!”… or so I thought.
Aaron went out Sunday morning to take the baby on a walk, and had to stop by the car to grab his sunglasses. I stayed back to work on some things, and that’s when I got the call… Read More »
I want to know more about you, and I also want to know what I can do to make your experience on And Then We Saved even better so it’s time for a survey!
This is a quick 25 question survey, and most of the questions are multiple choice. As a thank you for taking time out of your day to help me out I’ve made an instant downloadable poster available for everyone who completes the survey!
Make Do and Mend was my motto during the Spending Fast and I still live by it today so I thought you might like it too!
Here’s what the poster looks like:
You will be given the instant download links at the completion of the survey. Copy the web address for the size you would like (8″ x 10″ or 11″ x 14″), and then paste the link into your browser. The high-resolution poster will appear, and then you can print it out or you can even make it a screen saver on your phone or desktop!
Here’s the link to the survey: ATWS Reader Survey. The survey will close on Monday, September 1st at 10:00pm MST.
I got a whole buncha questions about how I was going to make money on all the stuff that I just got rid of through The Minimalist Challenge so a post is definitely in order. Throughout The Challenge you saw that I labeled each of the items as: SELL, DONATE, or TRASH. Wanna know how I made the most of “a bag of clothespins” or “miscellaneous postcards from 15 years ago”.
Read on for the full scoop (after the jump)… Read More »
How many of you are guilty of going out to buy something new when there is an event coming up? I used to do that ALL THE TIME, and can still fall into those old patterns if I’m not being vigilant and super careful. Rather than looking in my closet to wear what I already owned I thought I needed to go buy something new every time there was some place to be. It’s also so easy to go get take-out instead of eating the stuff that’s already in the cupboards… especially when I’m hungry.
Morale of the story: eat before you get too hungry, and stay out of the stores (and offline) because you probably, most likely already have what you need… :)
Nuttily successful with money? Yes. You know the ones. They never have a problem buying impulsively, they have their retirement plan totally figured out, they have zero debt, and money in the bank. Basically, they just have it together money-wise, and not in the it-just-looks-like-they-have-it-going-on-in-the-financial-department but they legitimately do.
So, what personality traits make some people successful with money while others seem to struggle financially… sometimes for their entire lives? You may think people who are successful with money have uncovered some secret to wealth or maybe they have just popped out of their mama’s vajayjay knowing how to save. It seems people who reach their financial goals tend to share common character traits – rather than secret knowledge or an innate know-how.
Here are common character traits people who are successful with money share – so, luckily, if you don’t currently have these traits, you can work to develop them in order to reach your own financial goals (I’m a natural-born Spender who has changed their ways so I know it’s possible;).
6 Easily Adoptable Traits of People Who are Successful with Money:
1. They Embrace Frugality
Believe it or not, some of the richest people in the world are also some of the most frugal. For example, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is still known to drive a moderately priced Acura sedan, despite being a billionaire. People who are successful with money lead meaningful lives that are not generally based around material belongings and don’t base their self-worth on material items which allows them to save more money than people who need “things” to feel better about themselves.
2. They Have Patience and Perseverance
People who are financially successful tend to be patient and will stick to the plan instead of changing course at the first sign of trouble. Investors who spend time researching an investment strategy, and then have the patience to stick to that strategy tend to do better than investors who panic and then sell at the wrong time. In 2008 and 2009, when the market took a serious downturn, Fidelity research shows that investors in 401(k) plans who remained invested were rewarded in June of 2011 with a 50% return – while those who panicked and sold or moved their money ended up with only a 2% return in 2011. People who remained invested and continued to contribute to their plans gained an average of 64% during that same time period – so it pays to persevere and have patience.
3. They Have a Healthy Tolerance for Risk
People who are successful with money don’t hide from risky situations – instead, they understand what the risks are, and then use various strategies to take advantage of it. Ultra-conservative investors rarely see big returns, but ultimate risk-takers often lose it all in a blink of an eye. There has to be an understanding of the risks for each situation, and a good balance between safety and risks when it comes to what you do with your money. Having a healthy tolerance for risk in general, is also useful for people to advance in their careers or become successful business owners.
4. They Have the Ability to Ask for Help
Financially successful people are not the type to feel they need to do everything themselves and learn everything there is to know about every last detail in life. Instead, they tend to be the type of people who can ask for help when they need it. Most people who are successful with money have sought outside advice from a financial advisor or use CPA’s for their tax returns to find areas for saving that they themselves may be unaware of. People who have success financially recognize that people with specialized knowledge, and experience are more likely to know details about things that they themselves may never know – and they could be missing out from that lack of knowledge. In terms of investing, a study by Hewitt Associates and Financial Engines shows that investors who get outside advice and assistance are 2% richer annually than those who do it all on their own. Damn.
5. They Have a Never-Quit Mentality
Whether you are looking to reach financial goals or personal goals, one character trait will serve you well: don’t give up. So many people are quick to walk away from anything that becomes difficult, challenging, or confusing. If the road to success was an easy one, everyone would be successful. Learn to embrace challenges, and learn that fighting through something when you’d rather give up is the exact thing you need to do to overcome the obstacles and reach your goals. That being said, if something isn’t working for you — even if it’s just a book you’re reading that you’re no longer feeling — don’t keep going with it just to say you finished. You’ve got to trust those gut instincts so you don’t waste your precious time. Really, this comes down to knowing when to throw in the towel, and when to keep going despite difficulties. These skills get honed more and more with time, and take practice to get right.
6. They Have a Go-Getter/Entrepreneur Mind
People who are successful with money have to learn ways to make more money, and often that leads them to a path of entrepreneurship. When you are an employee, you have income limitations and ceilings that prevent your growth. While it is still possible to invest and become successful, as an entrepreneur, the only limits you have are the ones you place on yourself. Financially successful entrepreneurs have another set of traits that the average population may not possess which lends to their success:
They take action – Entrepreneurs don’t wait for someone else to do something – they take action and get it done themselves.
They’re not afraid to fail – People who create and start things from scratch are not afraid of failure. In fact, entrepreneurs are generally the type of people who embrace failure and see it as a stepping stone that brings them one step closer to success.
They able and willing to change – Entrepreneurs and financially successful individuals are not afraid to change. They recognize when things are not going well and learn when it’s time to change direction to avoid wasting money with ideas that are not fully developed.
What traits do you have and which ones do you need to work on?
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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