Be All In…

be all in

Be all in. There is no halfway.

Do yourself a favor and conquer the getting-out-of-debt part as fast as you humanly can so you can get to the living the freaking amazing debt-free-life part a whole lot sooner. Go all in! Decide that it’s okay to suffer a bit now so you can soon enjoy life without that massive, shitty, debt cloud hanging over your head. I mean, really. Plus, it goes by a lot faster than you think it will… I did it so I know these things! :)

You can do this!


in Motivation
Want to Get Out of Debt Faster? Here’s How…

want faster results? work harder“Want faster results? Work Harder.”

Debt sucks. If you want to get out of debt faster you can do it.

Here’s how:

  • Eliminate more items off of your “Wants” list
  • Find more ways to increase your income
  • Get creative and knock down the expenses on your “Needs” list

You can do this. You can get out of debt. Go big. Get rid of that debt fast and get on with your life. Don’t make yourself suffer through years of slow-repayment or painful budgeting. Have I told you how much I hate budgets?

I’m shouting at you now. This is time for some tough love. YOU CAN DO THIS!


in Motivation
May You Always…

may you always do what you are afraid to do

“May you always do what you are afraid to do.”

It takes a lot of guts to change your life… changing up your lifestyle and habits is not easy but you CAN do it. You can do hard things. Trust me. I know these things;).


in Motivation
Just When You Think About Giving Up…

hold on

Just when you think about giving up, remember why you’ve held on for so long.

Need a boost? Bring up whatever you’re struggling with financially here in the Community area. Trust me, you are not alone.

Need a kick in the pant’s kind of boost? Read through the Debt Free Life Pledges. These people have some serious hope and motivation, and they believe they can change their lives. I believe they can change their lives too. I believe you can change your life too. Do you want it bad enough? That’s the only thing you need to decide.


in Motivation
5 Very Good Reasons to Become a Cheapskate

5 very good reasons to become a cheapskate

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, or financially smart doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you are proactively saving cash or knocking out your debt so you can have a good future down the road.

There are plenty of reasons to become a Cheapskate today but here are 5 for you to consider upfront in case you have doubts about the benefits of living cheaply.

5 Very Good Reasons To Become A Cheapskate…

Read More »


in Paying Off Debt
“How I Paid Off All My Student Loans in Just 2 Years”

how i paid off all my student loans

This is a guest post from Eric Rosenberg at Narrow Bridge Finance who is also a fellow Denver blogger that I got to meet last year at FinCon and at various local meet-ups before the conference. He’s a good guy, and I’m happy to share his getting out of debt success story with you!

In March last year, I proudly announced that I had paid off my student loans and requested a celebratory flyover by the Blue Angels. While the Blue Angels never came, it has been wonderful to spend nearly a year without paying a cent of student loan interest. Here is how I did it.

How I Paid Off My Student Loans in Two Years…

Read More »


in Guest Interviews, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Student Loans
Spending Fast: In the Trenches with Chelsea

Chelsea's Spending Freeze

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!


in Spending Fast, Spending Fasters !!NEW!!, Student Loans
Don’t Give Up! You’ve Got This!

don't give up before the miracle happens

“Don’t give up before the miracle happens.” – Fannie Flagg

It’s easy to feel discouraged when things get tough through the getting out of debt process but I have to urge you to continue on. If you haven’t started your getting out of debt journey yet, believe that’s it IS possible to become debt-free.

Please, do not give up before you start. You deserve a debt-free life so let’s kick some debt-ass together and get on with some good living!

You’ve SO got this!


in Motivation
Getting Others On Board With Your New “Spending Less” Lifestyle

tips on how to get others on board with a new "spending less" lifestyle

One reason people tend to overspend is due to the perceived peer pressure of others. Keeping up with the Jones’ is something many of us keep attempting despite a lack of funds. It’s easy to think, “If my friends and family are spending on fancy vacations then why can’t I?” These types of thoughts can create a vicious cycle that’ll give  you a life of debt, frustration, and even shame.

When you vow to spend less and save more, you are taking a good step in the right direction. However strong your commitment, it can still be difficult to deal with other people that may not really understand or accept your new commitment to money matters. Spending less will mean some aspects of your life will change and that can be difficult for some to deal with.

5 Ways to Get Others On Board With Your New “Spending Less” Lifestyle…

Read More »


in Family, Friends, & Relationships, How To, Paying Off Debt, Practical Solutions, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized)
What Life Looks Like After Becoming Debt-Free!

life after debt

Most people know what it feels like to live with debt, but for many of us the last time we didn’t have mortgages, credit card balances, and student loans, we were too young to own much more than a bicycle and a pack of gum. As an adult do you know what life would look like without debt? Is that even something you consider as a possibility in your life?

I’ll get to it quick- life without debt is amazing! The best news? You can experience it too!

What Life Looks Like After Becoming Debt-Free…

Read More »


in Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Student Loans
Over 100k in Student Loans – How We Paid Off 50k in 2 Years!

paying off six figure student loans

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!


How We’re Tackling Our Six-Figure Student Loans… 

Read More »


in Paying Off Debt, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Student Loans
28 Reasons Why Budgets Suck! (& What REALLY Works)

why budgets dont work

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.

28 Reasons Why Budget’s Suck…

Read More »


in Paying Off Debt, Spending Diet, Spending Fast, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!
Spending Fast ® Is Trademarked!

This is super exciting! I am the proud owner of the Spending Fast ® trademark, and get to use the fancy *® *symbol now! ;) It was a long process so it’s great that it all worked out! Let me know if you have any questions about how it works, and if you have any questions about present or future usage of Spending Fast ® on your own site. xo!

and then we saved spending fast trademark

celebration gif

high five gif


in Personal, Spending Fast
Your Debt is a Punk and Wants to Break Up With You

end debt

I have a little bit of bad news. Your debt called me the other day and we had a long talk. There were tears, lots and lots of tears but overall is was a good talk. Well, it turns out that  your debt is a complete punk and wants to break up with you. You’ve been together far too long (you know it’s not working out either), and it’s time to part ways. It’s a bad relationship and it doesn’t bring out the best in you. It’s been a good run but let’s be honest- it’s time to move along. There are way better things waiting for you out there.

8 Reasons Why Your Debt Wants to Break Up With You Right Now…
Read More »


in Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Staying Out of Debt, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!
Change Your Life – Start Today

change your life

Do you want a new life; one that’s not full of guilt and shame from overspending and getting yourself deeper and deeper into the hole?

You can have the life you want! Seriously, you really CAN do this!
Read More »


in Goals, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Take Action!, Things To Do
USAA + MSN Money = Recent Press!

Blake Ellis of USAA Magazine wrote an article called 30 Things You Should Know About Money By Age 30, and A TON (30;) of great insights are in the article, and ohmygosh, those bulldogs are so cute! (Click here to read the entire issue! Thank you also to Laura who posted in the Community Section when she saw it; I didn’t know it had been published until she mentioned it.)30 things you should know about money before 30 USAA
Read More »


in Press & Interviews
Commitment (& Restrictions) Can Be Deeply Liberating

the irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating anne morris quote

Once I decided to be done with my debt my whole relationship with money changed.

I was finally REALLY ready to be done with debt for good. I was committed to the process and it was time to take action.

The Spending Fast can seem very restrictive (because it is) but it was surprisingly freeing to have those restrictions. I no longer had to feel guilty about shopping and spending. If an item was on the “needs” side of my “wants and needs list” I could buy it was and if it wasn’t on the “needs” side of the list, I didn’t buy it.

To buy or not buy was clear-cut. There was no grey area. To have those limitations was a relief.


Have you ever had limitations put on you only to found that you were less stifled than anticipated?


in Goals, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Staying Out of Debt, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!
Look Fear In The Face and Do What You Think You Can’t

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”- John Wayne

There’s no doubt that changing your life and habits is hard work. I mean, you go from living in your comfort zone to flipping your whole life upside down. Often when people ask me about doing the Spending Fast and what it took to get out of debt I get the feeling that they want me to tell them that it was easy and that it didn’t change my day-to-day life all that much. But it did.

You know those people that say they lose weight and they didn’t have to do anything different? Like, “I eat cake for breakfast EVERYDAY and I lost weight! It’s a miracle!”

Doing a Spending Fast, and changing your relationship with money is hard work and it’s not like eating cake for breakfast everyday.

If you want to change your life, you have to change your life! That might seem like a silly thing to say but, really, if it was possible for me to keep doing what I was doing (spending money like crazy) and still get out of debt I would’ve picked that option. Changing your life and living debt-free takes work, time, and sacrifices. All of which are completely worth it when you come out on the other side debt-free and victorious but to think it won’t be hard work to get to that point – that’s just not reality.

I want to challenge you to look debt in the face and tell it to F- OFF! It’s time to be done with the debt and remorse and over-spending once and for all!

It’s scary to think about changing your life but you know what, it’s also so freaking exciting! By getting on the path to live a debt-free life you’re going to create a new future for yourself. One where you have choices and one where half your paycheck isn’t going to pay for stuff you’ve already forgotten about and have already donated to the thrift store.

I probably sound all pumped up in this post and it’s because I just read the latest Getting Out of Debt Pledgers posts and man, they just inspire the crap out of me.

So do it. Look fear in the face and saddle on up. It’s time to change your life.


in Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Staying Out of Debt, Take Action!
A Giveaway of Charmel Delos Santos Book: High Heeled Traders

Awhile back the lovely Charmel Delos Santos did a guest post for And Then We Saved (read her post here) and now she has written a book called High Heeled Traders. I was honored (and shocked) when she told me that she included me in the acknowledgements section of the book.

High Heeled Traders discusses why women are natural traders, and how being intuitive with trends is an asset with investing.

Charmel is giving 3 readers a paperback copy of the book and she is spreading the love by giving everyone a free preview of the book here!

**This Giveaway is now closed*** 

Entering Is Easy! 5 Ways To Win

♥ To win a copy of the book just register on her site for a mandatory entry here and then leave a comment below letting me know you have done so.


For Additional Entries You Can

♥ Follow me on Twitter (@andthenwesaved) and/or Facebook, and then leave a separate comment below letting me know you have done so.

♥ Follow me on Pinterest and/or Instagram (@andthenwesaved), and then leave a separate comment below letting me know you have done so.


The Giveaway will end on Wednesday, May 2nd at 8pm Mountain Time. When you enter please be sure to leave your email address in the fields where it asks for it so I can have a way to contact you if you win.

Thanks and good luck! xo anna


in Sponsored
What’s The Point of Getting Out of Debt Anyway?

Last week I did #6 on the list of 8 Great, Cheap Summer Vacations. I was a bonafide Traveling Mooch when I went to Louisiana to visit my very good, long-time friend Shayla.

One day we took a day-long road-trip to a Gulf of Mexico beach and it turned out to be a very sunny but chilly and windy time. We got blasted with sand most of the day and did our best to ignore it. Hours later on the way home we realized we had gotten fried since we hadn’t re-applied the sunscreen like we normally would’ve on a typical hot sunny day. What the experts say is true, the sun can (and will) still burn you even if it doesn’t seem like it will. We poured vinegar all over our burns (it’s really does help with the pain, you know vinegar is amazing, right?) and took some pain relievers.

Lesson learned sun. Lesson learned.

It was fun to get away from my normal routine and to do things I normally don’t get a chance to do like (among other things): be roommates with a 13 month old, eat humongous spoonfuls of chocolate chunk cookie dough ice cream at 11pm, have late-night giggly/serious conversations, and watch movies on a nice/amazing/wow TV (ours is a 15 year old TruTech;).

While it’s fun to get away I can’t help but feel guilty too. I mean, I spent money on a plane ticket! A plane ticket that wasn’t a Need. Plus, I still have that frustrating medical bill that just won’t quit. I know I should be piling money onto that bill so I can get it over with already but I’m fighting it for some reason. Like, I just want to pay the $150 that I agreed to pay, for like, ever. There’s no interest accruing so that crosses my mind too, that it technically and officially wouldn’t “harm” me to pay it super slow. But, the fact that it even exists, that I even have to think about it and that it weighs on me, that’s a signal that it’s not cool. After doing the Spending Fast and Spending Diet I’m super tuned-in to the fact that I need to deal with it and knock that bill out already even if I don’t really want to (I don’t).

Part of me thinks that I shouldn’t spend any money at all since I write this personal finance/frugality/debt-free living blog. I kind of feel like I’m betraying this side of my life when I spend money, even though I did the work and got out of the debt that was weighing on me so heavily.

I was surprised when I got to talking to some fashion bloggers at a recent clothing swap and we were talking about this issue. I told them I felt guilty if I spent money and they were saying they felt guilty for encouraging consumerism and the “want, want, want” nature of our culture by doing their fashion and shopping posts. It was totally eye-opening to see that I wasn’t alone, and that the guilt runs rampant ;) throughout the blogging world, even in completely opposite blogs and sites.

But then I think, “Why did I want to get out of debt in the first place?” It wasn’t so I could have a life full of guilt! It was so I could have freedom! So I could have autonomy. So I could do fun stuff without the guilt of over-spending and getting into even more debt. So I didn’t have to have that cyclical remorse anymore.

More than anything I got out of debt so that I could have a good life. Now, without the debt hanging over my head and grabbing mega chunks of my paycheck every month there actually is more money for fun stuff and not the pretend credit money that I used to have and rely on.

Having a good, fun, nice, happy, autonomous life was the point, and continues to be the point for me with getting and staying out of debt. I want to be able to travel, buy new clothes, and live in a nice house if I want.

What’s the point of going to work everyday, working hard to get yourself out of debt, working hard to keep yourself out of debt, being diligent day-in and day-out if you can’t enjoy yourself once in awhile? If you can’t reap the benefits?

Life is about learning, and growing, and enjoying (and probably some other stuff). It’s not about work, work, work.

Set your priorities, set your goals, achieve your goals, live the life you want and don’t be bound to the crap you don’t need to be thinking about anymore (debt).

What kind of life do you REALLY want to live? What’s your biggest motivator to get out of debt?


in Goals, Motivation, Personal, Spending Fast, Travel Cheap
Online Budget Management With A Twist: SpringCoin

Have you heard about SpringCoin? I found about it recently and it’s an interesting concept. They offer online budget management with a twist: it’s aimed at consumers who are struggling with debt.

SpringCoin compares a client’s debts and spending patterns, then recommends a manageable monthly payment to erase the debt. SpringCoin’s software compares your debts with your income and spending patterns, and then it spits out recommended monthly payments to help you pay down your debt.

That, I like.

For the month of April SpringCoin is giving away free lifetime accounts to And Then We Saved readers. Follow this link if you’re interested.


Have you tried any online debt management tools? What do you think about them? Do they work for you?

*Disclosure: SpringCoin is a sponsor of this site 


in Sponsored
Obsessed With Stuff. Materialism Gone Overboard.

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” – Ellen Goodman

Yep. Kind of ridiculous (and completely true for most of us). Depressing much? Eeek… sorry:/

It reminds me of this quote by Chuck Palahniuk.


in Do Without, Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Make Do & Mend, Societal Pressures, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!
Do You Play The Lottery? What About For 500 Million?

I never play the lottery but last week I saw that the Mega Millions was up to $290 million so I bought a ticket. The slogan they have of “If you don’t play you can’t win” came right to my mind (that’s a sign of a great slogan, since it came to mind right as I was considering if I should buy a ticket or not).

So, I bought a ticket. Now, it looks like no one won last week’s drawing so the jackpot is up to $500 million!?!?!


With all the talk about the Mega Millions jackpot not being claimed last week it got me thinking about if I should put my name in the hat again this week. I can see this being a slippery slope since I don’t ever really do things in moderation. Have you noticed, moderation isn’t really my thing? I could see myself getting into a habit of wanting to enter every week, and thinking, “Well, it’s just a dollar!”

It’s so incredibly fun to day-dream about winning. How life would change and how it would stay the same (and if you would even want it to stay the same).

I freaked out when I found out an acquaintance of mine had won 6 million dollars in the Colorado Lottery 10 years ago. He keeps in on the down-low (for obvious reasons) and you would never guess that he won from just meeting him. He’s so down-to-earth and he’s a genuinely nice and kind person. He even let me interview him about THE BIG LOTTO WIN. I also like looking at this gallery of other former lottery winners and day-dreaming that I’m one of them;)


What would your plan be if you won? What would be the first thing you would buy? Who would be the first person you told? Are you buying a ticket?


in Just For Fun, Money
Favorite Weekend Finds

I was poking around on the internet this morning and found some fun things…

Love this cheerful room. Neon and fringe unite!

A cheap way to add some personality to simple shoes. (Might suggest this idea to my sister for her wedding this fall;)

No need to buy speakers. This is a brilliant idea!

All out of eye make-up remover? No need to fear. Here’s a DIY version. (Thanks to Jenny for the lead on this one)

If money wasn’t an issue I’d like to buy this and this.

Some Saturdays (this one) call for this station.

Are you as busy as you think you are? via A Cup of Jo

Another used coffee grounds scrub! Love the name of it too. (here’s my used coffee grounds exfoliator experience)

Mad style in a denim suit.

This song (and this one) makes me want to run/dance/have a homemade dance party.

It’s fun to day-dream about my Dream Home. (Do you have a Dream House?)

Remember this everyday.


What are you up to this weekend? 


in Just For Fun
8 Ways To Save Money While Traveling – Part 1

image courtesy of alex baackes. photo taken in scotland

Summer is coming up quick (thank goodness) and with the warm weather also comes traveling.

The question then becomes, “How do I visit the places I dream of if I don’t have much money? And then when I get there, how do I maximize my funds to stretch them the farthest?”

Alex Baackes is one of those people who has the goal of traveling the the world. She’s done a good amount of traveling and has learned some money saving tips along the way. Today, she’s sharing her top 8 tips on how to save money while traveling.

Alex also writes the blog Alex In Wanderland. This post is part of a 2 part series so be sure to stop back next Wednesday to read part 2!

How To Save Money On Travel

Travel has always been my passion in life. When I’m home, I’m saving up to go traveling. And when I’m traveling, I’m pinching pennies to make the trip last as long as possible. Travel doesn’t have to be an unattainable luxury! I’ve done the dirty backpacker thing, but I’ve also had a taste of the good life with a luxury cruise. Somewhere along the way I found a way to balance saving money on trips and not compromising the things I love about travel, and I’ve shared some of what I’ve found here.


Every trip starts with transportation, and often it takes a major chunk of the travel budget with it! For the most part, this is inevitable. But there are ways to ease the pain.

1. Consider Alternatives to Air Flying is the preferred method of long distance travel for obvious reasons, but when traveling domestically don’t forget to check into alternatives like train or bus travel. Some bus operators such as Greyhound and Megabus even offer perks like WiFi and power outlets on some routes! Or use this Fuel Cost Calculator to see how much it would be to use your own four wheels, which would cut down on taxis and other transport costs once you arrive at your destination. Major bonus? No crazy baggage fees!

2. Look Into Low Cost Carriers When traveling by plane, especially in foreign countries, look into Low Cost Carries, or LCC. LCC’s are discount airlines that have low fares and few frills. On the upside, they can offer shockingly cheap flights, often a fraction of what a major carrier would charge. On the downside, they often have tons of extra charges and fly into alternative airports. They often don’t make their fares searchable on major flight search engines- you are better off going to the LCC’s own website. You can find a list of LCCs by country here.

3. Getting to Point A One day I was patting myself on the back for scoring such a super affordable flight to the Bahamas- only to realize I spent almost the same amount on cabs to and from the airport! When catching your departing flight, look into public transportation or try to cash in a favor with a friend for a ride to the airport. When you arrive at your destination, again, look into public transit or discount airport shuttles. If none of those options are available, consider trying innovative cab sharing services like Cab Match, taxi², or Cab Corner.


Accommodations are often the traveler’s biggest expense. I like to find a good balance between comfort and affordability. I really appreciate style and like to stay in unique places, but realistically, I spend most of my time out exploring anyway! But, there is a way to find that perfect balance.

4. Consider Hostels Hostels are far from the icky, bed-bug ridden or serial-killer filled hell-holes the media would have us believe. They are often modern, stylish and comfortable. Most offer private rooms which allow you to take advantage of perks like communal kitchens all while maintaining your privacy. Places like LubD Bangkok and Oops! Paris are so chic they could almost be considered boutique hotels! A great thing about hostels is that they leave lots of cash for splurging on other things- this room in Phnom Penh had a private bathroom, free WiFi and air-conditioning, easy access to the open-air rooftop lounge. The best part, it cost my partner and I just $9 each.

image courtesy of alex

5. Live Like A Local No matter how swank they may be becoming, hostels just aren’t for everyone. You can replicate some of the benefits of hostels and remove a lot of the downsides by renting an apartment or condo at your destination. You often get a great rate, you can cook a majority of your meals and often do your own laundry. Sites like AirBnB and Roomorama allow you to browse photos and descriptions of short term rentals available for as little as one night. Another thing to consider is: renting out your own place while you are away. The money the renters pay can be used to finance your trip!

Food & Drink

Food and drink make up a major portion of the average travel budget. But, they don’t have to! I don’t eat all my meals in restaurants at home so I try not to do so when I travel.

6. Make Breakfast Affordable Hotel and restaurant breakfasts can be pricey. There are alternatives to letting the first meal of the day drain your budget. If you are staying in a place with a kitchen (this is where a condo or a private room in a hostel would come in really handy!) breakfast is the perfect meal to cook. During a trip to Honduras with four friends, we each took a turn buying a carton of eggs, a loaf of bread, and a gallon of juice. It was a simple meal but a great way to start the day together- and it saved us a ton of cash! Even if your room has nothing but a mini-fridge, you can stock up on fruit, yogurt and power bars to start the morning with.

image courtesy of alex

7. Use The Tap Save the Earth, your waistline, and your wallet- drink water from tap if possible! You might be surprised how many foreign countries have perfectly safe drinking water from the tap. Pack a reusable water bottle and fill up at your hotel in the morning and drinking fountains throughout the day, and order tap water in restaurants. If only bottled water is safe to drink, buy the largest bottle available and decant it into your portable sized reusable bottle. In Thailand I buy 1.5 gallon jugs at a time, saving me money and cutting down on the plastic I’m using.

8. Pick One Meal Per Day Rather than eating big restaurant lunches or dinners, pick one meal to splurge on. Keep in mind that the lunch menu is often a great way to try a restaurant that might be much more expensive come dinner time. For your other meal, cook (if possible), try street food, buy sandwiches or other grab-and-go meals from the grocery stores and markets. When I was in Ibiza I often bought a baguette and some cheese and made my own sandwich on the beach… leaving me more money to afford the ridiculous entry fees at the clubs! (But that’s another story entirely.)

Thanks Alex! And, we’ll see you next week for part 2! 


How do you save money to travel? What are your tips to making the most of your money on your trip? Is it hard to stick to your financial goals when you’re on vacation?

Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)


in How To, Practical Solutions, Social, Things To Do, Travel Cheap
Radio Interview + How To Watch/Listen To Yourself Without Cringing

Last weekend I had the opportunity to talk with Michael Finney of Consumer Talk Radio in San Francisco about the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago on The High Cost of Being A Bridesmaid (and What to Do About It).

It still feels surreal whenever people what to hear what I have to say on a topic. So humbling (shoot, I just wanted some accountabilty with paying off my debt when I started this site).

Being on the radio is slightly less cringe-worthy than being on TV (because there’s less to be critical and self-conscious about since the visual aspect isn’t there) but still it’s like, “Why did I say that!?” or “I should’ve answered that question another way!”

I heard a good tip the other day and was thinking you might find it interesting too if you’re ever in the position of watching/listening to yourself.

It’s this:

  • The 1st time you watch/listen to yourself you’ll cringe
  • The 2nd time you watch/listen to the piece you’ll cringe less
  • And, the 3rd time you watch/listen to it you’ll be able to see the piece more objectively so you’ll be able to critique yourself and make notes of things to change for the next time

Moral of the story: suffer through the first 2 viewings.

If you’d like to listen the the radio interview on The High Cost of Being A Bridesmaid (and What To Do About It) it’s right here. There’s a brief mention of the interview in the beginning of the hour and then my part starts at the 40:35 mark.


Do you have tips for being interviewed? How do deal with public speaking and how do you keep your brain from freezing up!?


in How To, Press & Interviews, Societal Pressures, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized)
The Ultimate List of Women Money Bloggers

image via etsy chicsindesigndotcom

Have you seen this amazing list of Women Money Bloggers?!!!?!!? It’s chock full of tons of great sites! I’ve got a ton of sites to check out now.

The Ultimate List of Women Money Bloggers

(p.s. I’m so honored that And Then We Saved has been included in the list too;)


in Press & Interviews, Things To Do
Videos From The Accessories Swap!

Saturday night’s Accessories Swap was so fun! The thing I love most about swaps is that you can de-clutter and get rid of stuff you don’t want, to get stuff you do want! Plus, it’s a fun and different social thing to do with friends.

I’ll be sharing more photos and stories from the swap soon but wanted to share these short fun videos with you. The first video is all the Big Buddha handbag giveaway winners (they ended up giving away 8 bags instead of the 3 we were anticipating!) And the 2nd video is from right after the swapping began. 

Westword (a local paper in town) covered the swap here and a fashion blogger who writes the site Fashion Folio covered the swap here


in Clothing/Accessories Swap, De-Clutter, Fashion & Style, Just For Fun, Staying Out of Debt, Video Post
The Day We Sold Our $30 Futon For $35 and Made 5 Bucks

That right there is our 2 1/2 year old horrible futon. We bought it for $30 bucks from a couple in the suburbs that lived in a house tucked away in a neighborhood I’ve never heard of. It was by a highway and they had a car in their driveway that had those vinyl decals on the side of it that advertised their dog healing/dog grooming business. I wondered how they healed dogs and what their favorite type of dog was but since we were on a mission that day, I didn’t ask.

We were told the futon had lived in the husband’s “man cave” and it had been covered the entire time with a protective sheet. “So”, they told us, “it’s in really great shape”. We didn’t have anything to sit on in our new apartment so we decided for $30 bucks, “Why not?”

Over the course of the 2 + years we’ve had that thing it had become a thin pancake. I couldn’t sit on it for extended periods of time because the slats hit every part of my body in just the wrong way. During a movie, I’d grunt, sigh heavily, and tried to not be too annoying as I adjusted and re-adjusted while trying to eek out some kind of comfort. I would pull every pillow from the bedroom and closets and I’d get into the camping gear to find the mini pillows, I’d pull off the pillows from the chairs around our apartment, and I’d stack them up to build a sort of nest/barrier as I tried to put any amount of distance between me and the uncomfortableness.

See that picture up at the top there? That was right before a movie. I’m telling you, it was a mess of a couch.

We didn’t think we’d be in this apartment as long as we have been and when we bought the futon we didn’t think we’d have that for long either. Oh, and did I mention that my huge, amazingly comfortable and beautiful couch which was my very first “adult” consumer credit card purchase didn’t fit into this apartment? We really, really tried to get it in but, long story short: weird wall placement by door entryway in small old apartment + mega couch = don’t mix.

muchh better, muuuuucch better

The other day I decided we could no longer deal with that nasty ass (man cave, remember?!), crazy uncomfortable futon/couch anymore. Plus, oh by the way, an Ikea opened up in town so maybe they had something cheap/cute/not painful? I convinced my husband that it was time to make the leap and be done with the futon for good! So off we went.

Plus, honestly, the futon always kind of embarrassed me. Using a dingy futon as our couch while we’re in our 30’s just feels a little, rough. Like really rough. And you know I’m more than okay with roughing it, getting by, and making do but when somethings past it’s limit, it’s time to move on. At some point you gotta ask, “How worn out does something have to be to replace it?” My answer is: if it doesn’t work anymore, you can’t make it work, can’t hire someone who knows how to make it work, or if you use it all the time, then you might need to really replace it.

Frugal living isn’t all about suffering and deprivation, it’s about saving where you can so you can buy what you need when you need it.

We found a reasonably priced small charcoal colored couch that took 3 hours to put together (I had no idea that couches could come in a box! did you?). It makes me feel like we stepped it up a bit and Thank God that futon is OUT OF OUR LIVES. FOREVER.

Bonus: we sold the futon on Craigslist to a nice gent who thoroughly inspected it and decided he liked it. He said he works in an office all day with computers and that what he really likes to do in play in his band that plays cover songs. He added that they also write their own music too. He told me that he likes artists and that he worked in a toy store a few years ago. He drove a black truck and when the futon was all loaded it hung out of the back of it. I watched as he drove away with the bane of my existence and I hoped he would have better luck with it then we had. That’s also right about the same time that I realized we actually made money on that couch. So we bought a pizza.

How do you know when it’s time for an item to hit the road? Do you have an item that’s on it’s last leg now? Do you find good things on Craigslist? What’s your favorite kind of pizza?


in Do Without, Make Do & Mend, Personal
How De-Cluttering Made For A Big Charitable Donation Tax Write-Off

Linda Bejamin Pardee de-cluttered her space and ended up with a major tax write-off as a result.

“Charitable donations:  It all started with the purse museum. image courtesy of linda benjamin pardee

Okay, I admit it – I love purses. It’s my thing. They always fit even if I’ve eaten a few too many chocolate truffles. They come in all colors, shapes, and sizes and they’re so damn pretty!

So when I started the Spending Fast, my first commitment was: ‘No New Purses!’ I also realized I wasn’t using several of my bags and that selling them might help bring down my debt. I listed a few of them on eBay to see what would happen. Some sold, some didn’t. Since my PayPal account is tied to one of my major credit cards, the ones that did sell went immediately toward paying down the balance on that card.

I held onto the purses that didn’t sell for about a month, all the while thinking ‘now what’? Having just started the Spending Fast I was in a downsizing frame of mind and not just on handbags but on clothes and shoes as well.

I started researching charitable donation centers in my area (Los Angeles) and found that the National Council of Jewish Women, which has several ‘second hand’ stores, has a reputation for giving top dollar receipts on donations. I bagged up the unsold purses and some old clothes and made my way over there. A few weeks later I received a tax receipt in the mail. My donation brought in over $350 in tax deductions. I couldn’t help myself – I went back into my closet and started looking at the things I’d been on the fence over donating.

I got serious and honest with myself, and I decided that I only wanted to keep what I really used on an everyday basis. The frenzy had begun.

Once I was finished with my clothes closet I started looking at everything in my house differently. I started in the kitchen and got rid of all the items I had stuffed in the back of the cupboards. I had duplicates of everything from mixing bowls to flatware. These things were just taking up space. Then there were books. A goldmine of books I wasn’t going to read again! I boxed them up. Our old futon in the guestroom was a landing strip for luggage – it had to go. I donated lamps and old bath towels that I’d long ago stopped using and was holding onto in case my nieces finally moved out of my sister’s house and needed them. My husband thought I’d lost my mind but went along with it.

Last month I started organizing paperwork in preparation of having our taxes done. I totaled up my receipts from the charitable donations I’ve made over the last several months, and I have a write off of a little over $2,100! Needless to say, I’m thrilled (and I have really clean closets too.)

As for my love of purses, let’s just say I cover my eyes when I walk thru department stores . . . ”

Thank you Linda!


Do you utilize charitable donation write-offs on your taxes? What’s the biggest charitable donation you’ve made in a year?  

Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)


in De-Clutter, Do Without, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Practical Solutions, Spending Fast, Taxes
Looking Forward To That Refund Check?

Are you looking forward to a tax refund this year? I’m one of those people that really likes to get a tax refund because it’s like a bonus chunk of money! Whenever I tell my dad that he says, “The government is getting an interest free loan on YOUR MONEY!” He goes on to say that if I’m getting a refund back each year then too much money is getting withheld from my paycheck every month and that money could be going to things I need each month (or into savings and collecting interest for me) instead of adding up and collecting interest for the government. And, really, I know he’s right. He usually always is… but, I still can’t help but get a little happy when I get that fat check back.

I mean, it is NICE.

So once that check arrives, the question then becomes: “Should I save it, spend it, or pay off debt?” You probably know what I’m going to recommend… yep, pay off that debt. It can be hard to put that money towards the debt (I know how hard that is!) but it’ll just help to get the debt paid off that much faster which is the goal, and, oh, SUCH an AMAZING accomplishment!

Debt-free living is where IT IS AT.

Today, Mary Ann is sharing what her and her husband do with their tax refund (below).

image courtesy of mary ann

My husband and I spent our early years in a cycle of spending and then every spring we would pay off our debts with our income tax refund. This is not a practice I endorse today, especially given the economic state of our country. We have worked really hard to change that dynamic and the spending cycle. Today we live within (and below) our means since we are preparing for retirement. The benefit of our debt reduction is that we have many more choices as we prepare for the small windfall coming our way once our taxes are filed.

In 2010, it was reported that the average income tax refund was over $3,000 and that is up 10 percent from a year before. Since the 2010 Tax Relief Act extends through the end of 2012 many of us will see some extra money this spring.

This is what we do to maximize our tax refund:

Apply credits and itemize

I’ve learned that itemizing deductions is the way to increase our refund check. In order to make some smart choices, I consulted the IRS calculator. This gave me a general idea of what to expect for our return and once I’ve finalized and filed our tax return we like to take the time to think about and discuss what to do with the money that will be coming our way.

Analyze debt and pay off debt first

Although we have tried very hard to reduce our debt load, unexpected things do pop up. So we survey our financial situation and organize our debts into two categories, those with high interest rates and those with low interest rates. Thankfully, we are no longer saddled with college or car loans and while our first instinct may be to use the windfall for that big screen TV or a trip to Europe that we have been wanting, we know now that living within and below our means is the only way we will truly achieve financial freedom in our retirement.

It has taken many years and a lot of discipline to get where we are today. We’ve learned that making small strides towards financial security gives us a great feeling of accomplishment.

About Mary Ann: Mary Ann Rosenthal is a grandmother to four beautiful children under the age of five. She is dedicated to helping her friends and family save money and works with her son Aaron at She is also an artist, writer and aspiring photographer living in Saint Augustine, Florida.

Thanks Mary Ann!


Are you expecting a tax refund this year? What are your plans for the money? Will you be paying down your debt or going on a splurge?


in Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Things To Do
Tis’ Easier To Suppress The First Desire Than To Satisfy All That Follow It

Benjamin Franklin was a very frugal man and had some extremely wise words on the subject. His frugal wisdom still apply to today’s times despite being over 200 years old!

(Benjamin Franklin also wrote a book called The Way To Wealth and there is a link at the bottom of this post to an online version of the book.)

I can relate to: #1, #5, #10, #13, #14, #16, #17, #19, #20 (SO wise), #24, #25 (YES!), #27, #30, #31, #32 (love it), #33, and #36 (touché). So, pretty much all of them. Which ones do you relate to?

Frugality (40-78) – Prudent economy; that careful management of anything valuable which expends nothing unnecessarily, and applies what is used to a profitable purpose; thrift; — opposed to extravagance

    1. Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship


  • Buy what thou hast no need of, and before long thou shalt sell thy necessaries



  • A fat kitchen makes a lean will



  • Many estates are spent in the getting, Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting, And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting.



  • Think of saving as well as of getting: the Indies have not made Spain rich, because her outgoes are greater than her incomes



  • Women and wine, game and deceit, Make the wealth small, and the wants great.



  • What maintains one vice, would bring up two children



  • Who dainties love, shall beggars prove



  • Fools make Feasts, and wise men eat them



  • Wise men learn by others’ harms, fools scarcely by their own



  • Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen fire



  • A ploughman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees



  • Always taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom



  • When the well’s dry, they know the worth of water



  • If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some



  • He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing



  • Fond pride of dress, is sure a very curse; E’er fancy you consult, consult your purse.



  • Pride is as loud a beggar as want, and a great deal more saucy.



  • When you have bought one fine thing you must buy ten more, that your appearance maybe all of a piece



  • Tis easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it



  • Great estates may venture more, But little boats should keep near shore



  • Pride that dines on vanity sups on contempt



  • Pride breakfasted with plenty, dined with poverty, and supped with infamy



  • But what madness must it be to run in debt for these superfluities!



  • When you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty



  • The second vice is lying, the first is running in debt



  • Lying rides upon debt’s back



  • Poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue: ’tis hard for an empty bag to stand upright



  • Creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times



  • Those have a short Lent who owe money to be paid at Easter



  • The borrower is a slave to the lender, and the debtor to the creditor



  • Disdain the chain, preserve your freedom; and maintain your independency: be industrious and free; be frugal and free



  • For age and want, save while you may; No morning sun lasts a whole day



  • Gain may be temporary and uncertain, but ever while you live, expense is constant and certain



  • Tis easier to build two chimneys than to keep one in fuel



  • Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.



  • Get what you can, and what you get hold; ’Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into go



Here’s a free online version of Benjamin Franklin’s book The Way To Wealth if you’re interested in reading more.

How many of Ben Franklin’s frugal ways can you relate to?

one comment

in Do Without, Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Money
An Accessories Swap Is Happening!! Can You Come?

clothing swap

Swapping madness has officially hit Denver! And, it’s A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

What’s so great about swapping is that you get to get rid of the stuff you no longer need or want and you get to pick out NEW to you THINGS! It’s a way to re-mix your style and infuse some freshness. It can also be an adrenaline rush when the swap begins and everyone is trying to find the best things! It’s exciting!

Having style while also trying to save money and get out of debt can feel very difficult, especially if you’re used to going to the stores and buying whatever is cute (that’s what I used to do and it got me into a lot of trouble!) Swapping is a fun and social thing to do with your girlfriends and you can make a night out of it! (don’t live in Denver but want to get in on the swapping fun too? The Swapaholics tell you how to host your own swap with your girlfriends right here.)

Oh… and did I mention that is giving away 3 amazing brand new bags to swappers at the end of the night?! Um. Yes. It’s true.

Here are the event details

It’s An Accessories Swap! Sponsored by

If you’re a woman in Colorado you’re invited!

Bring your girlfriends and make a night of it! This is going to be a lot of fun!!

When and Where
· Saturday, March 10th from 6:30pm to 9 pm
· It will be held at The Curtis Hotel located at 1405 Curtis Street, Denver, CO
· The actual swap will start at 7:30 pm on the dot. Please arrive between 6:30 – 7:00 pm so we have enough time to inspect & sort your items.
· $5 CASH ONLY to enter. A portion of the proceeds will be given to SafeHouse Denver (supports and assists women and children in leaving dangerous domestic violence situations).

· Swappers please bring 10 great pieces: Handbags, shoes, hats and jewelry to swap. Bring items that you would give to your best friend or sister! (If you don’t have 10 items bring as many as you want to swap and you’ll be able to take that many. For example, bring 6 items take 6 items.)
· Your items will be checked by official Inspectors so please don’t bring things that are falling apart, have stains, holes, are smelly, broken or just plain ugly! We will not accept these items! We want everyone to leave with great items at the end of the night:)
· At 9pm 3 people will win a fabulous bag from!! (Big Buddha bags valued at approx. $100!)
· At 9pm all of the items that have not been swapped can either be taken back by the original owner or can be left for donation to SafeHouse Denver (a women’s domestic violence shelter)

More Goodies
· Free Parking Garage is Available at the hotel for the 1st 100 people (you’ll receive a parking voucher when you check-in for the swap)
· First 50 Swappers will receive 1 FREE drink ticket
· Handbag Design Contest (winners will win fabulous bags from! at 9pm)
· DIY Button Making Station
· Tunes by DJ El Brian
· Sweet Treats from Pastel
· $5 Mani’s from Tootsies Nail Shoppe
· Photo-booth FUN will be provided by Newell Jones + Jones Photography

If you’d like some more info on anything here are some links that may be helpful or send me an email. 
· Safe House Denver
· The Curtis Hotel
· Tootsies Nail Shoppe
· Newell Jones + Jones Photography


Hope you can make it! RSVP right here


in Clothing/Accessories Swap, Fashion & Style, Personal, Social, Staying Out of Debt
Need An Instant Shot of Getting Of Debt Inspiration?


Checking out the recent pledges over at the Get Out of Debt pledge page is nothing short of inspirational.

Here is a huge group of people who have decided that they have had it with their debt. They’ve decided to do something about it. They’ve decided it is time to take action!

They have decided to FINALLY BE DONE WITH DEBT.

Down with debt!

Making the public declaration to become debt-free is a very powerful thing.

I love seeing so many people getting serious about getting out of debt, deciding to change their lives, and being pro-active!

Here are some of my favorite things that people are saying. They give me a little jolt of excitement and happiness. It’s electrifying to feel the energy from the words! I can feel it through the screen!

“Okay, I’m ready. One of my main goals in life is to be able to live without the anxiety of the next bill and the next and the next. I need to cure myself of some bad habits and put the credit card to bed for good.”

“This is scary but I know if you can do it, I can do it too.”

“I am ready to “take back my life” too and am determined to do this!”

“I’m in this & committed.”

“I am taking the pledge. I will get out of debt this year. I want to participate in the spending fast and spending diet and use both to their fullest uses.”

“Cheers to less stuff, more happiness and getting what I want from life.”

“I can do this!”

Are you ready too come on board? Here’s the link to the Debt Free Life Pledge. If you decide to do it too- I’m SO excited for you!


in Goals, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Spending Diet, Spending Fast, Take Action!, Things To Do
Never Never Never Give Up

Everyday take small steps and do the next right thing; before you know it your life will be changed.

When things get difficult and when we want to give up that’s when it’s most important that we keep going. It’s in those times that we have to keep fighting for our dreams and goals.

It’s in the persevering that the success happens.


in Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Staying Out of Debt, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!, Things To Do
Clothing Swap + Fashion Show with Project Runway Stars + The Swapaholics

denver clothing swap fashion showillustration eunice stephensonNext Wednesday, February 8th there is a Clothing Swap and Fashion Show happening here in Denver. It is sponsored by Goodwill, Inc. and Project Runway Denver-based design stars Mondo Guerra, Fallene Wells (check out her Kickstarter project), and Julie Tierney will be showcasing their re-purposed and upcycled fashions at the event.

I’ll be covering the Clothing Swap and Fashion Show for The Swapaholics (I love their slogan: “Retail Therapy Meets Recycling), and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll be reporting back on the event, and if you’re going to go too be sure to say “Hi”!


one comment

in Clothing/Accessories Swap, De-Clutter, Fashion & Style, Personal
What I’ve Learned In 2 Years of Being on A Spending Fast & Spending Diet… Re-cap From Then to Now…

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.

Paying off my debt, thinking of new ways to make additional income, and day-dreaming about autonomy slowly became my life.

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.

It took 15 months but I ended up paying off all of my debt which is waayy sooner than I EVER THOUGHT possible.

I thought I would die with my debt. Not kidding.

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 ShowThe 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 Pledge here)

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? 


in Goals, Motivation, Personal, Spending Diet, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters !!NEW!!, Staying Out of Debt, Take Action!
Change Your Life – Take The Spending Fast ® Challenge!

“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:

2012 Get Out Of Debt – Spending Fast Challenge!

(take the challenge here)

I started the Spending Fast in January of 2010 and was able to completely eliminate my debt in a matter of 15 months. (insane!)

There will be some hard times and tough/shitty moments but the result will be a life free from debt. A short list of the Spending Fast benefits:

● A change in habits

● A new outlook on money and spending

● Time – because thinking about future purchases, actually buying the things, and maintaining STUFF takes up a lot of time

A re-alignment of priorities – people #1, not things

Empowerment - because you’re taking matters into your own hands! You can really do it!

Make a commitment to change your life. Give yourself the best gift possible.

What have you got to lose besides debt and the cycle of over-spending and remorse?

Make 2012 the year that you change your life!



in Goals, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters !!NEW!!, Take Action!, Things To Do
On Not Giving Up & November’s Spending Fast Savings

don't give up

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?


Poster details: Print Liberation


in Paying Off Debt, Personal, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters !!NEW!!, Staying Out of Debt
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in Do Without, Just For Fun, Money
Whooo Hooo! Now, Who Doesn’t Love A Newsletter!?!

Just yesterday the very 1st monthly And Then We Saved Newsletter went out to the masses! Stay completely up to date on all the highlights from the month.

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Pass it along.

Be awesome.

You know, the usual.


**P.S. In other news, I completed our taxes finally last night and the world (my world) is a better place because of it. Soo beyond glad to have that done! Can I get an Amen!


in Just For Fun
Trade you a Liberry for a Library

Whether you pronounce it lie-berry or lie-brary nothing is better than the library. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a city that has a library system half as good as the one here in Denver then you’re a lucky little chap.

The library system here is so great because you can go online, type in your library card number then look for any book, movie, magazine, cd, tv series that you’re interested in and then say what branch you want to pick the item up at and they have it delivered there for you.


Can you spell a-w-e-s-o-m-e?

Sometimes, I’ll find myself in a certain well known book store using the camera on my cell phone to take a picture of book covers I’m interested in so that I can then go home and look the title up on the library’s website. Better that than shelling out the money for a book I’ll read once and then it just gets shipped off to the basement only to start the getting-musky process.

There have only been a couple instances where the library didn’t have the item I requested. I still don’t know why they wouldn’t carry the tv series “Hogan Knows Best”. What do they have against big blonde muscle-y wrestlers? It’s not like its a moral issue or anything like that because they carry “The Girls Next Door” and I can almost guarantee they will be carrying “Jersey Shore” just to please Snooki.

Also, I can tell you from personal experience that paying the late fees stinks. Our library recently lowered the check out limit for overdue fees from $10 bucks to $5.  I was bummed as I paid a whopping $7.75 in late fees the other day.


My friend, is NOT in the Spending Fast budge. Never thought I would say this, but the money actually hurt as it left my card. I had been doing so good before the fateful checkout counter run-in.

I’ll suppose I’ll have to forgive you library. You un-wieldy beast you.

I love the library because if I have an interest in a topic either vaguely or huge-ly I can research it from every angle up and down and all for free… that is if it gets returned on time.

So, I’ll keep checking things out and keep my fingers crossed that sooner or later they’ll come to their senses and order “Hogan Knows Best”.


in Spending Fast, Spending Fasters !!NEW!!, Things To Do
Ghetto Coffee Time

Nothing says fun quite like bad coffee.

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.

Just saying.

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.


in Make Do & Mend, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters !!NEW!!, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized)
Spending Fast Day 9 – You’re a Tough SOB

Breathe deeply. Fill your lungs and look around. Smell stuff. Taste stuff.

Imagine yourself sitting closed eyed and cross-legged  in the place right beneath your rib cage. Just be. Just be still.

It’s what I like to do (try to do) when things get crazy and there’s a lot going on. Plus it’s free which makes it that much better.


in Motivation, Personal, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters !!NEW!!, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized)
The Countdown! The Spending Fast is Almost Here!

8 hours, 17 minutes and 59 seconds left until the Spending Fast begins and 2010 is here!!

Happy (Almost) New Year!


in Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters !!NEW!!
My Self-Imposed Spending Fast Guidelines

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)

Cell phone (taking the internet off of it- that’s unneeded) (I now use Verizon and recently did this deal: For a limited time get a single line smartphone plan for $45 monthly access with 1GB of data on Verizon Edge. Unlimited talk and text.)

Food (store bought, off brands, in season fruits and veggies and only when I run out of stuff in cupboards)

Gym membership (local gym, it’s reasonable and health is important)

Doctor co-pays


Photography exhibits (done inexpensively)

Car payment

Some gas

Bus eco-pass

Hair dye (hey, I have needs)


What I’m NOT spending money on:

Gifts (sorry friends and family… homemade crafts or re-gifting will be happening. Hopefully you all like macaroni magnets.)

Coffee at coffee shops (sad face)

Clothes (remember: “Make Do & Mend!” and in honor of that I need this. haha!)


Etsy stuff (another sad face)

New make-up

Eating out


New business cards (I have a bad habit of getting new ones because I like a different design better)

Coats (see Clothes above)


Bed linens


Fancy html email service (down-sizing it)

Decorative house stuff

Fancy haircuts at fancy hair shop

New music from itunes


There you have it. There’s no way it can be completely comprehensive but I think it’s a good start.

And, my new name is Mrs. Cheapskate. Nice to meetcha’.

one comment

in Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Goals, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters !!NEW!!
Here We Go! The Start of The Spending Fast!

Consumption by Erin Hanson

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.


in Do Without, Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Goals, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Personal, Spending Diet, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters !!NEW!!, Take Action!
  • Anna

    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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