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.
For the month of February we all saved a total of $58,182.48!! That is a hell of a lot of debt to pay off! The amounts you all are saving, this is concrete evidence that the Spending Fast and Spending Diet work!
We have now collectively saved a total of $379, 597.37!!!!
To add to the Collective Savings total be sure to include your savings on this page so your savings can be included for March!
You all are doing so amazing knocking that debt out. With every penny that gets paid off it gets you that much closer to a new life. You can do this! If you want to get out of debt too take The Get Out of Debt Pledge and get started today. Might as well change your life on this fine Thursday, right?
(If you’ve sent me an email your savings have been included in the savings total, by the way.)
How has it been going for you so far this month? What successes, obstacles and challenges have you encountered?
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.
If you can believe it (I can’t!) this blog started 5 years ago on 12/29/09! I started it just as a way to keep me on track while I attempted my year-long Spending Fast to try to get rid of my 6k in credit card debt (a task that I thought was insurmountable, btw). I never, EVER would have guessed that not only would I be able to absolutely CRUSH that $6,000 in debt but that just 15 months after I started the Spending Fast that I’d be completely debt-free (my mind is still constantly blown that it happened so fast!). And, who would’ve guessed that I’d still be typing away on And Then We Saved a whole 5 years later…!?!? (Not me, for sure.)
There are so many cool things I’ve got in the works for 2015 that I can’t wait to share with you. The main thing that I’ve been working on is my book that will be all about How to Do a Spending Fast! Writing it has been such a crazy experience: fun, tedious, rewarding, sometimes absolutely overwhelming but mostly completely fulfilling. Throughout the whole process, before I start writing, I’ve read this little yellow sticky note that’s taped to my computer screen. It says, “Please guide my words as I write so this book so it can be a channel to help the most people change their lives.” That’s the goal: make the book the vehicle for the Get-Out-of-Debt-as-Quick-as-Humanely-Possible-So- You-Can-Get-On-with-Your-Life-Already message! That’s the goal I hope to accomplish with the book. I absolutely cannot wait for you to read it, and have a tangible, complete and comprehensive Spending Fast guide right at your finger-tips! The book will be published in January 2016, and I’ll keep you posted about its status as I learn more throughout this upcoming year up to (and beyond) it’s release date.
A few other things I’ve got in the works:
– Developing an e-course (! can’t wait to share it with you! I think you’re going to love it!)
– Structuring a coaching program to help readers who need (or just want) more individualized attention and assistance through the Spending Fast or Spending Diet.
– Monthly updates about the TOTAL AMOUNT of debt our community has paid off or saved as a result of the Spending Fast or Spending Diet (I’m SO excited to share the current debt pay-off total with you. It’s unbelievably inspiring how much debt we’ve all paid off and put into savings so far!).
– Developing a few tangible items to help remind you of your goals every day!
Everything changed when I gave up, stopped fighting against my debt, and faced my excessive overspending. I put my hands up and succumbed (succumb?) to the reality of my reality. As soon as I realized that everything I had been trying to do to get out debt was failing miserably, and once I came clean with my friends and family about being straight up broke, and overwhelmed THAT’S when the real changes starting happening. When I gave up, when I let go, that’s when I got my power back. To gain power by giving up? Trust me, the irony is not lost on me.
My twin sis, Kelly, has her Spending Fast update for you below. I think she’s doing so awesome with it, and I’m extremely proud of her! If you’ve thought about doing a Spending Fast before why don’t you make 2015 the year you do it? It’s time to get out of debt once and for all, and get on with living the life you’re meant to live! You can do this! – Anna
I’ve messed up a lot since my last post, mostly with eating out. I knew that would be a trouble area for me going into the Spending Fast, and I was right. But, overall, the Spending Fast has not been as hard as I thought it was going to be, and I’m making progress faster than I thought I would. Anna mentioned this before, and I’ve found it to be true too. It’s starting to get fun to NOT spend money. It’s like a game or a challenge to see how much throughout the month, and I like seeing how much MORE I can save.
Even though I haven’t conquered the Eating Out beast yet, I am starting to really SEE how much it’s been costing me and it’s kind of disgusting. Delivery is such a supreme waste of money. I’ve realized that a typical lunch out costs me approximately $10. Before the Spending Fast, I didn’t realize that I can get SO MANY groceries for that amount! Since I made that realization, every time I’ve eaten out it just feels bad and so wasteful. Time and time again, I’m seeing that when I end up eating out it is ALWAYS because I just didn’t plan ahead. It’s like, why am I surprised that I need to feed myself a few times throughout the day? Whatever. I just have to be gentle with myself. This is a completely different way to deal with money so it’s not going to change overnight. And I am getting better at it.
I mentioned in a previous post that I needed a haircut and the plan was that I was going to use a gift card that I had. Well, the gift card ended up being MIA so I cut my own hair using Anna’s How to Cut Your Own Hair tutorial. I used craft scissors (because that’s what I had handy), and I really like how it turned out! It’s actually closer to what I wanted for my last hair cut than what the stylist gave me. It turned out well but then I got a little over-confident towards the end and decided to cut in a few “face-framing” layers and messed up a little but when it’s tousled in its Alexa Chung way nobody is the wiser.
Realizing how easy it is to cut my own hair it makes me wonder why the hell have I been spending $150 for a cut and color all these years…?!!? I know that a good cut can do amazing things, especially on short hair, but for me, with my longish hair, I think that after this Spending Fast I’d be willing to get my hair done professionally once, maybe, twice a year, and then in between cuts I’ll just trim it myself, as needed. Also box color works fine to cover my roots and it turns out that my highlights still show through which I didn’t expect so hey, bonus on that too!
This is a guest post from the lovely, Sarah Ann Noel. Hope you’re having a great holiday week! – Anna
When we found out we were moving to NYC, I decided to seriously downgrade and purge most of our belongings. I managed to turn off sentimentalism (which normally runs thick through my blood), and I really did a number on our collection of stuff. Of course, now it’s Christmastime and I’m at my most nostalgic, realizing that sometimes an emotional attachment isn’t so bad! What I left of Christmas knick-knacks seems like sparse decor for even a tiny Brooklyn apartment! So I quickly conjured up what this non-crafty mama could DIY to add some holiday cheer to our place. Below are the decorations that we’ve made for our home, and these also are great inexpensive crafts to make with kids during the loooooong holiday break!
8 Easy, Inexpensive Holiday Crafts (& Decorations) to Keep the Kids Busy…
There are a TON of super talented people who are kind enough to share their gift tag creation skills with us, all for free. All you have to do is print them right onto computer paper (or cardstock is even better – I got a huge package of neutral cardstock on sale that I use all the time for random projects that come up), cut them out, and you’re set.
Due to a sudden change in roommate status, I was unable to save for my first month of the Spending Fast. My roommate decided to suddenly move out, so I had to unexpectedly cover the month’s bills. I’ll get a new start in this second month. The good news is my dear friend, Tina, has decided to live with me for the next year and a half, giving me the time I need to complete the Spending Fast.
What are some of the good and bad living situations you have encountered?
I’m sure everyone has experienced it in one-way or another. I know I have many times over! But after the Spending Fast, my hope is that it will be the end of roommates.
I’m not counting this month as a total loss, but instead as a month of changing bad habits to achieve my goals. I tackled my worst habit of buying breakfast and coffee from Starbucks EVERYDAY! I am proud of myself for this WIN. But how did I do such a thing, you ask? It wasn’t easy. I dusted off my old single serve coffee machine and got a killer deal online of T-disc for 50 cents per cup! Who knew I could get so excited over math! Changing everyday decisions like these will help me in the long run, and is why this was my first area of concentration.
The next thing I need to tackle is spending money on social situations. This month I went back through my online bank entries and wrote down every entry that could have been avoided. Between social situations and spur of the moment decisions, I could have avoided spending $112.49. A movie, a pizza delivery, a sushi outing and 3 bar tabs. Those were my weak moments that I need to tackle next and avoid.
I am not perfect and these were my results for the month. Looking at this in writing, and knowing that I could have the amount of $112 as opposed to $0 saved, makes me face this reality and want to do better.
On Facebook people kept telling me about a liquid laundry detergent recipe they were seeing on Pinterest, and I decided to give it a try. I’ve experimented with making my own powder laundry detergent in the past so I’m familiar with the general idea of how to make detergent at home but the liquid version always eluded me because for one, I didn’t want to put soap in the big pot that I cook in all the time because I thought it would ruin it, and also because the recipes I was coming across always seemed super intense. So when people told me about this recipe for DIY laundry detergent, I was like, “Okay, now this looks doable”. I gave it a try, and it was easier than I expected.
I wasn’t going to put this recipe on the site if I didn’t work so I decided to test it out on the grossest, dirtiest, narliest thing I could find: my baby’s super-poopy, cloth diapers that had been sitting in the diaper pail for a day or so just marinating into a nasty, smelly poo stew. I figured, if we’re gonna test this recipe, we’re gonna TEST IT.
We always buy the generic, perfume and dye free detergent for all of our clothes, and I have been using a special (read: expensive) cloth diaper detergent for the diapers. I’m happy to report that this laundry detergent recipe worked great, and the diapers came out whiter than I have ever seen them before. Also, they passed the sniff test, and no stinky residue was present. We will now be switching over to this homemade version for both our clothes and the diapers especially since this recipe is INSANELY inexpensive to make, costing just under 5¢ per load. Seriously. (See the full break-down at the end of this post if you’re curious about the numbers.)
(Also, just as a side note, I tested this recipe on our front-loading HE washing machine.)
When Aaron and I did The Minimalist Challenge we got rid of a total of 748 items (!). Following the challenge we did a big ol’ garage sale, and made some money on all the things we were getting rid of. It felt so amazing to clear out all that stuff, and to this day I haven’t missed a single thing that we got rid of!
A whole bunch of people told me about how the garage sale idea was great, and all, but they just didn’t have the right set-up with their home (apartment or condo) or time to do one. Also, with cold weather your options are limited to only holding garage sales at a certain time of the year. I completely understand all these issues because I’ve encountered them, too.
When I found out about this site that basically allows you to hold virtual garage sales, I instantly thought, “Yep. There it is. Perfect.” It’s called, appropriately enough, VarageSale. Get it? Get it? Virtual garage sale! ;) In 2012, it was founded by a woman named Tami when she was on maternity leave. She then worked with her husband to develop the site.
Here’s How You Can Hold Your Very Own Online Garage Sale…
This is a post by my sister, Kelly, who just completed Month 1 of her year-long Spending Fast. – Anna
Life is Short – Is This All Worth It? Why Suffer?
“Death comes like a thief in the night”, I remember my mom telling me when we were little girls. I’ve been feeling really discouraged, and I’ve been asking myself “why?”, a lot lately. A family member died tragically a couple weeks ago. Why did he die? Does any of this even really matter, at all? Why should I bother with this Spending Fast? I’ve been finding myself thinking, “You only live once, and, really, what’s so wrong with having some debt, and some indulgences along the way especially if it’s getting paid off… no matter how slowly? Shouldn’t I be enjoying life?” I don’t have the answers, and I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I DO know that every time I think of the future and of “Future Kelly” debt is not part of the picture. “Be Debt Free” is something that is ALWAYS on my goals lists, so while I did mess up some, and while I have been questioning a lot of life’s biggest questions, I’m not going to throw in the towel on the Spending Fast.
In my last post, I told you how I was able to pay off my personal credit card within the first week of The Fast. Of course, I won’t be having a tax refund every month- dang it:( so my upcoming savings won’t be nearly as big as this first month’s. I’ve also stumbled some, so the kids, and I ate out about 3 times. It was due to poor planning- BUT on the flip side, we ONLY ate out 3 times! My M.O. used to be that I would eat out, or buy something out at least once a day. My 3 children, and I ate dinner at home every night, and it was actually pretty nice.
I’m trying to be gentle with myself, despite the “set backs”. I’m still committed to the Spending Fast until November 5, 2015, so I’ll just keep trudging along.
Small, Day-to-Day Changes
I’ve always considered myself a good Scout. I’m prepared, I stockpile, I have a plan. I’m quitting that this year- no more stockpiling. I’m using travel shampoos that would have stayed buried in my closet, and eventually be thrown away. The changes are small but I’m seeing that they do add up. I ran out of shaving cream so I’ve been using hair conditioner that I don’t really like for my hair as a shaving gel, and it works totally fine. Okay, so this is kinda gross, and may be TMI but I ran out of cotton balls, so I decided to cut up the free huge maxi pads that the hospital gave me from my last child’s birth. I cut them up into strips, and I’ve been using that instead of buying more cotton balls.
We’re eating the things that are in our cabinets before we’re buying more food, and I’m waiting ’til things are actually gone before I write it on the ‘need to pick up at the store’ list. We even ate up the jar of peanut butter that’s not our favorite but it’s been in the cupboard for months. My coffee pot broke the first week of The Fast, and there’s no way I will punish myself with a Year of No Coffee. Thankfully, I found a french press in my house that I NEEDED at some point but never used because it was too much hassle. I’m using it now. Also, I’m keeping the house at 68 degrees when we are home, and 65 degrees when we are not there.
Anna insisted that I should create a Needs/Wants list to help with my money spending decisions so I did that. Here it is…
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! We went over to a friend’s house, and everyone was impressed with how the Tofurkey we brought was actually not disgusting. The standard it had to meet was pretty low so it had that going for it. This morning, Henry woke up at 6:30 am like he likes to do, I turned on the news, and I was half-way listening to it while I sat on the floor with him as he pulled out every single book. On the news they were talking about the worst things to buy in December, and my ears perked up like I was dog who had just spotted a squirrel. I was all over that shit.
The 3 things they say you absolutely should not buy in December? A treadmill, a TV, and winter clothing items and gear. The best time to buy those things? In January! With New Year’s Resolution’s fitness stuff is marked down significantly, TV’s are marked down because of The Super Bowl , and winter clothing and gear is greatly reduced because retailers are starting to think about making way for the Spring merchandise.
Tell me I’m not the only one who almost always (mostly) feels like, life could be just a hair better than it currently is. I don’t feel that way because I’m not happy with how things are with my life, it’s more of a continual, life improval thing that I’m after. I’ve learned that just by just tweaking a couple different things each day life can feel more organized, more focused, calmer, and just more enjoyable. Luckily, these ideas are free, and they take VERY LITTLE time to do. Most of these ideas can be done in just a few minutes, or at least they can get underway with just a few minutes of attention each day. Watch your life improve, as you incorporate these tips into your life.
Here are 14 free ways to start improving your life in 15 minutes or less…
Continuing on with my collaboration with Kmart we’re going to talk about a ton of ways to make the most of Black Friday. Black Friday is the Friday that follows Thanksgiving, and it’s also the official start of the holiday shopping season. Black Friday is all about deals, bargains, and sales, and that’s something I can fully get behind because, as you know, saving money is my thing.
I had a chance to ask Heather, someone who has been shopping on Black Friday for the last 7 years, what advice she would give to new Black Friday shoppers. She says, “Be prepared with a list of what you want to get, and stay calm when crazy people are near. Also, go in groups so 1 person can finish shopping while the other stands in line.” She said that the best deal she ever got on Black Friday was on an Xbox, and that “the best deals are usually on electronics but clothes and boots are always cheaper on Black Friday too!”
17 Ways to Make the Most of Black Friday
1. Create Your Gift-Shopping List
I’ve mentioned this before but it’s such an important part of saving money around the holidays that I’ve got to mention it again. Planning ahead is absolutely vital when you’re buying for the holidays. Write out who you’re going to buy for, what you’re going to get them, and be sure to have alternatives in mind in case the item(s) you want are sold out.
2. Decide on a Holiday Shopping Budget
Again, super important. You don’t want to be hating life as you stare at an empty bank account come December 26th. Saving money = good. Spending all the money = not good. We know this.
3. Do Your Research
Know the hours of the Black Friday sale, and when the items you want to buy, in particular are going on sale since some items go on sale at different times then others. Also, do some research online to see if you need to get in line early or if there are likely to be people camping out.
4. Check both online and paper ads
5. Combine the deals you find with coupons to save TONS
Check out the social media pages to find out about deals that may not be advertised through the traditional methods. Twitter is one of the absolute best places to find out about not as widely known sale info.
7. Make a Plan
If you can, go to the store ahead of time. Ask the sales attendants where the items you want to buy will be at since some of the items might not be in their standard location because of different promotional displays. Then, draw out a quick layout of the store, marking the path you’re going to take the morning of Black Friday.
8. Ask the Sales Attendants for Insider Info
Okay, so while you’re talking with the staff at the store about where the items will be on Black Friday also ask them if they know about any unadvertised deals. This is the thing, the staff gets info about deals way ahead of everyone else because they have to plan the displays. Be nice and friendly, and they just might spill some extra money-saving beans.
Most people fall into either the introvert or extrovert personality. If you’re not familiar with what these terms mean, I’ll explain them a bit. Introverts tend to be purposefully reserved, and they feel recharged after alone time. Extroverts however, tend to be thought of as being vocal and outgoing, and they feel energized by interacting with people. (Just today I heard about Ambiverts! These are people who have an equal mix of both the introvert and extrovert traits.) If you’re not sure which personality type you are go take this Extroversion Introversion Quiz, and come right back.
The topic of introverts and extroverts has been super fascinating to me for quite a while because when I was a kid I was constantly getting told I was quiet or shy, and it drove me nuts! I always took it as an insult, and vowed I would never call my kid shy when I grew up because it was a label I hated having put on me. Particularly, because I didn’t see myself as shy. Reserved and cautious around strangers, sure. Careful about my words and actions around strangers, yes, definitely. Quiet? I could see that. Shy though? Nah. I was choosing not to talk. And when I wanted to talk, I did.
As a kid I wasn’t sure to make of all this “shy” business. When I was around 11 or so, we were in a used bookstore, and I came across a book that was called something like, “Overcoming Shyness”, or something to that effect. I convinced my mom to buy the book for me, and then I read it ASAP so I could try to find the solution to my “problem”. (Oh… :’( didn’t mean for that to sound so sad! I want to go back and give my young self a hug.) I even wrote a letter to Dear Abby, and I asked her for advice on how to not be shy anymore. I don’t remember what she said exactly but I do remember feeling very hopeful when she wrote me back.
After all my research, and attempts to “fix” myself, and turn myself into an extrovert, I found, over time, that I just had to get more comfortable with who I was. I had to start doing things that I was proud of. Playing sports, taking photographs, and doing good things for other people. Slowly but surely, I gained confidence, and my anxiety around people lessened. I realized that being reserved isn’t a “bad” thing at all, that alone time is a necessity for me, and now, sometimes, you can’t get me to shut up once I get talking.;)
Not surprisingly, your ability to manage money may be directly related to your natural-born personality, and your personality traits may directly influence your knack –or lack thereof – of managing money.
Here are 7 Advantages that Introverts May Have When it Comes to Money (and we’ll talk about the advantages extroverts have in an upcoming post!)…
When the holidays roll around I always have a mix of things going through my head. Mostly, it’s guilt-tinged thoughts of, “I really should make all the gifts to save money but… I just don’t, realistically, have enough time.” And the relief-filled thoughts of, “It would be easy to find some reasonably priced gifts.” So, usually, I end up doing a mix of both DIY gifts and store-bought items. Balance is a thing, right?
When Kohl’s asked me to come up with a few items that Aaron would like as gifts I immediately thought about how he wears dark wash, slim fit, Levi’s every single day but won’t by them at the Levi’s store because they’re at least 100% more expensive there then they are at Kohl’s. Anyway! That has nothing to do with this post.
I rounded up a few items that Aaron would really like, and the price of each item is under $22 because I’m cheap like that.
P.S. Isn’t Michonne the biggest badass ever on Walking Dead? I want to be her when I grow up. (Just a heads-up that link is to a fairly graphic zombie killing scene. If you’re not into that type of thing you might not want to watch it.)
In compliance with FTC guidelines, I’m disclosing that this is a sponsored post. However, the opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this site possible! – Anna
Earlier in the month I got a text from my sister, Kelly, and it said, “I decided I’m going on a Spending Fast for one year. Today is Day 1.” Internally, I completely freaked out. But, I tried to keep it contained so I didn’t seem too excited (for the fear of scaring her off with my over-the-top enthusiasm). I replied with a simple and contained, “Whoa. Cool!” All of my family and friends have been hearing about the Spending Fast for a grip now, and I’ve never pushed it on anyone. My thinking is that they know I’ve gotten out of debt, they know how I did it, and if they want to ask me any questions or have me give them any support through a getting out of debt mission (Spending Fast or not) that I am totally there for them. You can’t force anyone to do anything because that’s just obnoxious, and it doesn’t work anyway so I don’t do it. Plus, the Spending Fast is hard, and it can really, really suck at times so you’ve got to be ready to deal with that if you’re going to take on a Spending Fast. (While it’s insanely effective, it’s not magic; hard work and sacrifice is required so, sometimes, other methods should be tried 1st.) All that to say that I am soooooooo, sooooo excited (I’m not gonna hold back now), and proud of my sister for making the decision to change her life by doing a Spending Fast. I’ve seen how powerful it can be in my life and in other people’s lives so I’m excited to see how it will end up changing someone’s life that I’m so close to. Plus, it’ll be interesting to be on the other side of a Spending Fast…
Hi, I’m Kelly, Anna’s identical twin sister. My stats: 35 years old, business owner, recently divorced, 3 kids under 10, boyfriend, no pets. I’m currently embarrassed by how much debt I have so I’m not going to say the full number yet. I’ve been thinking about doing the Spending Fast for years, and now it’s finally time to do it. I’ve got credit card debt, lawyer debt, student loan debt (owed to a financial institution and to my parents), a car loan and another debt. I’ve seen Anna’s success with getting out of debt and with how quick she’s was able to do it, and I want to be debt free too.
I started the Spending Fast officially on November 5, 2014.
My biggest trouble areas are eating out and unfocused spending at places like Target.
Like Anna, after I decided to do the Spending Fast I felt instant relief, and then, about an hour after that I got notified that a tax return appeal that I was hoping for did indeed come through so I put that money directly on my number 1 priority bill: my personal credit card. I also redeemed awards from my bank for cash ($150), and put that money towards my credit card debt, as well. 3 days into the Spending Fast, and my personal credit card was completely paid off!$6,884.21 saved! Had I not decided to do the Spending Fast I would’ve spent that tax return money on random stuff, like usual, and my debt would still be there.
Other things I’ve done this first week to save money…
And, with that, I would like to introduce, Jennifer, who will be sharing her Spending Fast story with you as she goes. The ups, downs, struggles, successes… all of it. I hope you enjoy following along, and that you find motivation and encouragement in these posts to see that getting out of debt crazy fast is totally possible! And, maybe, you will find that you want to change your life and become a Spending Faster too!
Also, while the site is primarily read by women I’d love to include a male Spending Faster’s experience through and out of debt. If you’re a dude and interested in sharing your story send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Anna
Hi all! My name is Jennifer and I just turned the BIG 3-0 last month! If that’s not a birthday to make you think about where you’re at in life, I don’t know which is! I made the decision to take out a mortgage for a house almost a year ago, here in Florida. Currently, I have a roommate and three dogs living with me. I make a living as a Production Artist at a publication company.
My total debt is 16,027.84 not including my mortgage. This what makes up my debt: I have $4,584.95 (started as 6,000) in credit card debt that I racked up in college by not living within my means. (I was paying my bills with a job I had but I was living off credit cards. It’s been following me around since 2010. I don’t even want to think about how much money I have wasted on interest!) I also have a car loan of 11,442.89.
My goals for the Spending Fast are to, first, save an emergency fund of $1,000 (this differs from what Anna did btw); pay off my credit cards and my car loan. The last few years I have gotten better with my spending habits, but it’s turned into a sort of yo-yo effect of doing good and then erasing the good by doing bad. The time has come to just get it done and I need your help to keep me held accountable throughout this process. With your help, the support of my friends and family, and a boyfriend who is on board, I can’t think of a better time to do the Spending Fast, than now. I want to not only pay off my debt but have a substantial nest egg for me to be able to have more freedom and time in my daily life to do something I really enjoy, whatever that may be.
I love how when the holidays roll around charity work gets highlighted, and everyone is a little more kind and giving.
So today, I’d like to introduce you to a new, online clothing store called 15each.co. Today just so happens to be their Grand Opening and they’re one of the most charitable companies I’ve come across. The site was created by Bryan Harmon. He’s an entrepreneur who’s motivated by giving back to the people. Harmon has an interesting and eclectic background. He’s a disabled vet who served in the Marines and then he transitioned into eCommerce because he saw a lot of opportunities for improvement.
15each.co provides jobs to veterans (veterans are very close to my heart since I came from a long-line of military), and college students. Currently, they’re donating $3 from each item that’s sold on the website to help the flood victims in Pensacola, Florida. (A major storm dropped several feet of water on the city, and caused some of the deadliest floods ever. The city was rocked with flooded homes, collapsed highways and submerged cars. See images of the flooding destruction here.)
Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her October update for us below. I’ve got to say, I am SO incredibly proud of her! I love that she’s chosen to change her life, and whoa. Just whoa. It’s so awesome how much she’s been able to save in such a short amount of time. This is what the Spending Fast and Spending Diet is all about. Getting the hell out of debt ASAP. – Anna
After the roller coaster of money emotions that was September, I was hoping for more stability in my savings for October. And the good news is that with my second job’s back pay, I was able to save $1,400 in October! So good, right? Well, yes and no. I managed to save $1,400 which is $400 over my savings goal, but I still went over my $100 Spending Diet limit. (Insert sad trombone.)
In some ways I’m super proud of myself. I saved $1,400 in one month. ONE MONTH! Let’s go ahead and get personal, that’s over half of my paycheck (after taxes and insurance is taken out). But I’m ever the perfectionist and as much as I try, try, try to stay positive, I always seem to be a glass half empty type of gal. Why didn’t I save more?!?!
Well, there’s a few reasons:
1. I managed to get some great deals on pants at the thrift store, but I have a wedding to attend and I didn’t feel that I had an appropriate dress to wear. Could I have borrowed something? Maybe. Could I have found something cheaper? Maybe. I did use a coupon and I felt like I got a good deal, but I still spent money that I didn’t allocate to spend.
When I added that dress to my online shopping cart, I also added a skirt and a top. I justified that I could wear them to work and it was “Buy two, get one free!” It was a moment of weakness.
2. I forgot my lunch a few days this month and I had to go to the grocery store at lunch to pick something up. That was kind of unavoidable, but the nitpicker inside of me wants to say “But you should have backup snacks in your desk at work for this situation!”
Nitpicker be damned! I’m proud that I’ve managed to save over my savings goal this month. I know this holiday season is going to be difficult though. My $100 Spending Diet includes gifts. I’m currently formulating a plan for holiday spending that includes coupons, starting my shopping early and handmaking what I can. And as always, I’m trying to stay positive.
How will you, my budget-friendly friends attack your holiday spending? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! -Melanie
I’m teaming up with Kmart on some upcoming posts. This is a good match because I always find myself at Kmart if I need (of all things) inexpensive planters and potting soil. And, if I get a craving for my favorite childhood food, Little Cesar’s, I know can get some pizza pizza there.
Kmart is also a place that we used to go to ALL THE TIME when I was I kid. I distinctly remember being in line one time, and thinking about how I could be a millionaire when I grew up if only I could save every single penny from that moment on. That didn’t happen (obviously), and instead, I went ahead and bought my mini gumball machine with my birthday money. I even wrote a post about that experience a long time ago (here it is if you’re interested: Switching Over). Needless to say, I’ve got a whole bunch of Kmart memories. Another day I’ll have to tell you the story about the baby bird.
But today, I want to talk about a topic that I, surprisingly, have never covered on the blog before: Layaway.
So, when I started thinking about this topic I started asking everyone I know if they’ve ever used Layaway, and if so, what did they buy, and why did they use that method to make the purchase. Aaron told me that he bought his parents a ping-pong table for Christmas and used Layaway to buy it for them. That was 15 years ago and that thing is still going strong in my in-laws ice-cold basement.
On Facebook, a whole bunch of readers told me how they’ve used Layaway, and not surprisingly, it seems that it is primarily used to buy Christmas presents.
I know it feels a little early to start thinking about the holidays but I’ve found that the earlier I make my gift shopping list and get the “errands” part of the holidays taken care of the more I can actually enjoy what the holidays are all about: eating until you’re so stuffed you can’t move. Nah, seriously though, it’s about spending time with your loved ones, and I would much rather do that than be stressing out about what I’m going to get everyone.
Morale of the story: if you start early you can spread the cost of the holidays out and also avoid a ton of last-minute stress.
Alright, so let’s talk about details of Layaway in case you’re not familiar with how it works.
As mentioned above, you can spread the payments out over a period of time.
You can set aside purchases so you don’t have to worry about things being out of stock when everyone else starts their holiday shopping. (Frozen dolls anyone?)
If you miss a payment it won’t impact your credit score.
The 8 week contract at Kmart, has a service fee of only $5 which is awesome (They’re offering no-money down layaway until 11/15/15 as a special promo). Especially when you compare that to what it would cost to put the purchase on a credit card. (The average credit card APR from 13.02% to 15.59%. That’s completely outrageous.)
Since there is a little bit of a process involved with getting set up with Layaway you’ll be able to think through your purchases more and, hopefully, avoid impulse shopping.
You can take advantage of sales even if you normally wouldn’t be able to make the purchase when the sale is happening.
Kmart offers Layaway year-round so if there is a special occasion, like a wedding, or other big event you can plan ahead rather than taking a hit on your wallet all at once.
Oh! And now, you can even do layaway online so you don’t even have to leave your house if you don’t want to. (I reaaalllly like that.)
Enter to win 75 Bucks! -GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
So, get this… Kmart is giving away a $75 gift card to one reader to help you get a start on your holiday shopping! All you have to do is tweet about some of the items you’ve put on layaway. Be sure to use the hashtags: #KmartLayaway and #ATWS so your tweet can be found, and so you can be entered to win. The giveaway will end on Monday, November 10th at 6pm MST. Good luck!
This is a sponsored post, and I am a Kmart K-Club blogger. But, as always, my opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this site possible! xo, Anna
If you’re anything like me you’re probably half-way freaking out right about now, thinking, “OHHH, this Friday is Halloween? Uhhhh… What am I going to be?!” (Baby Henry is going to either be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man or a Mischievous Monkey. I’ve been thinking about his costume for faaaarrr too long.) Let me tell ya, there are SO many costumes that you can create in 2 minutes flat from what you already have in your closets. OR, if you must buy something to create a costume make sure it can pull double-duty so you can wear the items from the costume in real life after Halloween.
Maximize the money. That’s what it’s all about.
My twin sister, Kelly, owns a buy-sell-trade store in Omaha, Nebraska, and it’s called Scout: Dry Goods & Trade. She recently posted some shots to her Instagram of all these costumes that can be created using clothing items from her store. They’re all easy to find items, and have that versatility thing going on for post-Halloween wear.
Easy and inexpensive = hell yeah.
28 Stupid-Easy Costume Ideas…
1. Girl Scout
With a tan collared shirt and skirt, a strip of paper sack for your sash, a “flight attendant” paper cap (here are some origami instructions on how to make your own girl scout cap), a low bun, and your 3 fingers in pledge position, you’re set.
2. Cruella de Vil
With a furry collared coat, light jeans DIY-ed with splotches of black paint, red lipstick, a sassy expression, and a long, DIY cigarette holder (how to make your own cigarette holder) you’re instantly transformed.
3. Wednesday Addams
Center-parted hair into pigtails, long-sleeve short black dress, black shoes, red lips, vacant stare.
4. The Dancing Emoji Lady
Red dress, red heels, and stiff dancing pose.
Let’s keep the party going with even more Super-Easy Costumes Ideas…
This is a guest post by the awesome Sarah Ann Noel who recently left us here in Denver for New York City. – Anna
Well, we have just moved from Denver to New York City with two toddlers. No, seriously. One is three and one is two, and I’m trying to keep straight which way is which on the G train while making sure that both those little wanderers get on the same train as me too. Are we crazy? Perhaps. But we are making our way in our little corner of Brooklyn.
Of course, even though you have the knowledge of the expense of New York, it’s still a shock to come here and try to function in it. I’ll admit to living a little large when we first moved, just trying to take advantage of it all; but that’s just not feasible for every day life. So below are twelve free activities that we use often!
12 Free Family-Friendly Activities in Brooklyn and NYC (& how to find more!)…
Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her September update for us below. – Anna
After the air conditioning fiasco of August, I yet again recommitted to saving more through the Spending Diet. And September was all about recommitment. This month I recommitted by pulling my $100 out of the bank at the beginning of the month and sticking to it.
There was a lot of temptation, don’t get me wrong. The weather is changing and several pairs of my pants were threadbare. You could literally see-through a pair of my work pants– embarrassing and definitely not work appropriate. I also didn’t want to blow my entire $100 bucks on one pair of pants. So I visited my local thrift shop and invested a whopping $19.41 on seven (count ‘em), seven pairs of pants. It reminded me of how much fun it can be to search among the Spongebob pajamas and Aunt Edna’s knick-knacks for gold.
I’m all about saving money, but I’m also all about the living small. We live in an Airstream, for god’s sake, so I love a good purge. This month my husband and I also made a little bit of money by selling our wares at the flea market. And what we didn’t sell, we gave away to a thrift store. I’m feeling much lighter and more committed and renewed to the saving cause.
With all that done, I also tackled one of the hardest things on my to-do list in September. I cancelled my (kind of) expensive gym membership. I had said I would cancel my gym membership to offset my cost of groceries, but I really didn’t want to do it, so I had been putting it off. I hated signing my gym cancellation papers, I felt poor and ashamed, like I had somehow failed. But it was just one of those hard cuts that I needed to make to get me closer to my dream of owning a house. With my gym membership cut, I’ll be saving almost another $1,000 per year. I’ve also been trying to keep my spirits up by looking on the brightside and working out at home. (I, of course, turned to this article on on ATWS about Losing Weight Without a Gym.)
This month was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Saving can be hard on the emotions sometimes, but overall I feel good about my decisions. I managed to save $1,200 this month which is a little over my monthly goal! This month also reminded me of how important it is to recommit to savings on a monthly, weekly, daily and sometimes even hourly basis! To remind myself of my ultimate goal, I like to keep little pictures around of my goal. I keep a picture of a cute cottage in my wallet. That little reminder has definitely helped, but I’m looking for more ways to remind myself of my savings goal.
What little reminders do you use to keep you on track?
If you’re a lady in the U.S. there’s a good chance that you go ape at any mention of Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks. If you’re not in the U.S. then I’m sure you’ve heard allllllll about them all over the internet because (they’re delicious!) every year when the weather starts getting even the teeniest, tiniest bit chilly that’s all anyone can talk about. These Pumpkin Spice Lattes have pretty much got us all under their spell.
These limited-time, seasonal drinks have already been out for a bit this season but, I’ve got to tell you, I felt like quite the genius (it doesn’t take much;) when I thought up a way to save about $2.50 per drink.
Alright, so a medium, Pumpkin Spice Latte is about $4.50. That’s a lot of money…especially if you think spending money on fancy coffee drinks is a waste of money, which I do.
So, what’s a girl to do? Well, this is what. Order your coffee, and then have them put the pumpkin spice syrup in the coffee! Sure, it’s not exactly the same but it’s close! You get the flavor you want, AND you get to save 40%-ish on your coffee. That’s win-win if you ask me.
Also! If you like vanilla lattes then just have them put vanilla syrup in your coffee. Just a heads-up they do charge .50 for the syrup.
Do you have an expensive coffee drink habit? Think this is a trick you might start incorporating? Got any other tricks/tips that you can share with us?
This is a sponsored post but, as always, my opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the companies that help make this site possible. – Anna
Awhile back I shared Jackie Beck’s story of how she and her husband got out of $147,000 in debt (!!! nuts, right?!). They were persistent and committed to the process of getting out of debt and, not surprisingly, it worked!
Jackie has created a great app that is appropriately called: Pay Off Debt . Pay Off Debt is an iPhone and iPad app that has helped tons (tens of thousands) of people pay off debt by using the snowball method.
Let me tell you, I really wish this app was around when I was going through my Spending Fast and Spending Diet (not that I had an iPhone then but still…) because it would’ve made it so nice to see the progress I was making and how far I had come. I also would’ve really enjoyed seeing how my pay off date was changing based on the aggressive payments I was making every month. I think that would have been so fun to see it getting closer and closer!
There’s even a feature with the app that let’s you email your snowball information to yourself. I would’ve printed out my progress reports every month, and taped them all over my house, so I could be simultaneously thrilled and horrified/motivated at how far I had come, and how far I had yet to go.
Here are some my favorite features that the app offers:
You can prioritize your debts in the way you prefer (lowest balance, highest interest, or you can select a custom order)
You can see your planned debt-free date, and then compare and contrast how long it’d take to pay off all debts if you weren’t using the snowball method.
You can view progress bars for motivation and encouragement!
It takes interest rates into account when calculating estimated time left.
It takes taxes and insurance (escrow) into account when adding a Mortgage/HELOC type debt.
It lets you change the additional amount you have available to put toward the first debt in your snowball at any time.
It lets you set payment reminders to appear when the app is running, if desired, and then once the due date has passed, the reminder will no longer appear.
You can select your currency: dollars, euros, pounds, yen or a custom currency.
Jackie also mentioned that she often gets asked why the app costs $2.99 instead of offering it for free. She said that the reason it isn’t free is because she doesn’t want to have ads on the app, and she didn’t want to have it set up to cost $10-$15/month for a subscription type of service in order to access all of the features. She said she would much rather just sell the app up-front for a few bucks, and get on to helping people get out of debt!
Jackie is giving away a copy of the iPhone/iPad Pay Off Debt app to 3 readers! To enter leave a comment below, saying how you would feel if you were debt-free!
Be sure to fill in the appropriate email, name, etc., fields so we can contact you if you win. The giveaway will end on Friday, October 17th at 5:00pm MST. Good Luck!
Y’all, you know me. I (obviously) like to save money. With the holidays coming up we’ve been throwing around ideas about what we should do. We’re planners, we’re Virgo’s, we’re Type A (well, Aaron is more than me;), and we also know that the earlier we buy our plane tickets the more money we can save. I’ve even heard that for each day you wait to buy it’s an average of $5 that’s added, per day, to the price of the ticket.
One of the ideas we have is to go visit my family in Lincoln, Nebraska. We’d probably fly because the tickets are so inexpensive, (relatively speaking), and the flight is a mere 1 hour long. If we drive then it’s close to 8 hours (or, it can be done in 7 hours if you only stop 2 times, and go 7 to 10 miles over the speed limit the whole time. Not that I would know.).
When thinking about flying with our little guy, Henry, (his 1st airplane trip) we definitely did not even consider the possibility of buying him his own seat because, I mean, duh. Babies under 2 can fly for free! So you better believe we were going to take full advantage of the chance to save some money!
What I didn’t realize though was that there may be risks to not getting him his own seat. I thought things like:
– “He’s so little it would be no problem to keep him on our laps. He might will be squirmy but it won’t be for long so it’ll be fine! Let’s save money when we can!”
– “That’s such a waste of money to be going and getting all spread out and luxurious on the plane! We’ll just be scrunched up for a little bit! It’ll be fine! Let’s save money when we can!”
– “Only people with money to spare (like lots of it) would ever buy their baby their own seat. I mean, come on. There’s money to be saved here so let’s save it! We’ll be fine! ”
I never thought about not going with “baby flies free” option because I never had a reason not to. You see, the other day I joined a Facebook group called Car Seats for the Littles. I was scrolling along thinking about how complicated this whole car seat thing is when it really shouldn’t be that hard, right? And then, this article pops up about changing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations for kids under 2. My first thought was what it had always been: “Oh hell no! SAVE THE MONEY!”
Now, I feel like if we do fly anywhere before the baby’s 2 years old there’s no way I can justify not spending money on a seat for him after knowing what I know now. If, heaven forbid, anything were to happen I would never be able to forgive myself for not buying a seat just to save some money.
To me, it just isn’t worth the risk. I’ve got to say, there are some things that are far more important that money, and this is one of those things.
So, I have a hundred (6) questions for you: What do think about all this? Did you know about the risks associated with having a Lap Baby? Is it worth the extra couple hundred bucks? Am I over-reacting? Why isn’t this something we hear about more? Why isn’t this a bigger deal to people?
Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her August update for us below. – Anna
If you remember, I went over last month’s spending diet allowance. It was so much harder than I imagined! In August, I committed to do better. I immediately took my $100 cash allowance out of the bank when I was paid and I stuck to it. But lo and behold, we had an emergency. Our air conditioning system stopped working on one of the hottest days of the year. And when you live in a tin can in the South, going without air conditioning is not an option.
Don’t emergencies always seem to happen at the most inopportune moments? Just when you think you’re doing better saving (or in life) BAM! something comes along to knock you down. Luckily in the past year, George and I have managed to get an emergency savings fund together. I consider 95 degree heat an emergency, so we had to dip into the emergency savings to fund a new air conditioning system. I really hated to do it, but I can’t sleep in that kind of heat, my husband can’t work and my poor pup was just plain uncomfortable.
I did experience some buyer’s guilt. I thought things like: “People for thousands of years went without air conditioning!” “It’s already August, it will be fall soon. We will only have to suffer for another month!” “I can’t spend $300 on a new air conditioning system, I’m on the spending diet!!!” But after a few days without air conditioning, I was whistling a new tune and I was ready to dip into those savings. Let’s just say that sweating immediately after stepping out of the shower is not a fun experience. I’m not happy about it, but sometimes life is going to get in the way of a savings diet or savings fast. I just feel lucky that we had an emergency savings account to dip into.
Next month I plan to sell a few things in order to build my emergency savings account back up. I also signed up to teach a class for extra pay and for the first time ever, I’m receiving a small raise. (High fives for me?!) I know that I can get back on track with my savings but emergencies, man, they are really cramping my savings style!
How do you build your savings back up after an emergency? Let me know in the comments!
Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her July update for us below. We’ll get August’s update up before you know it, and then we’ll be back on track in no time for September. I’m telling ya, we’ve got a plan, folks. She’ll take it from here. xo, Anna
Ok, so first things first, this was so much harder than I imagined. I went over my allowance of $100 in the first two weeks! I am ashamed and to be honest I was a little shocked. (I feel like I’m such a saver!) But I learned from my digressions and I’m ready to get serious.
I went $100 over my spending limit in July for two reasons:
#1 – I didn’t immediately get cash out of the bank at the first of the month like I said I would.
Hey, I’m lazy and I hate making trips to the ATM. Instead, I told myself I’d just write down what I spent. What a joke. If I’m too lazy to go to the ATM, I’m too lazy to write down everything I spend. Now at the first of each month, I am vowing to get out my $100 spending budget and stick to only spending cash on my “Wants.” I’m also leaving my debit card at home so I can’t be tempted by that trickster. (I’m keeping my credit card on me for emergencies.)
#2 – I was too strict with my food budget.
I just simply didn’t budget enough for food. I hate buying food even though it’s a necessity. I thought by giving myself a super strict limit, I would spend less. Wrong! I spent more because I ran out of food and had to make extra trips to the grocery store. I’m going to give myself $50 more to spend on food each month because a girl has to eat. To even out the budget, I’m cutting my gym membership. I love it but I don’t use it often enough. I ordered some infomercial DVDs a while back and I’ve been hitting those harder than I ever hit the gym.
I still managed to save $1,000 this month which I consider a success. I also got real with myself. Looking back on this month, I realize that I spend more money than I should going out with friends. Instead of going out with friends, I’m going to convince my friends that we should cook at home– even if that means I do all the cooking! I’ve even started fermenting my own wine which has been super fun and much cheaper than wine at a bar or restaurant.
I have high hopes for next month. I’m taking on a side job to earn more income and I took out my $100 allowance as soon as I got paid.
Here’s to hoping next month’s spending diet report looks better than the last! Melanie
I’m always on the look-out for inexpensive wedding dresses for other people. Partly because I shoot weddings, partly because of my recent obsession with Say Yes to the Dress (anyone else into that show?), and also because when I got married I scoured the internet, and local stores to find a reasonably priced dress, and there was nothing cute out there. So, what’d I do? I ended up settling for a dress, and then had it altered so I would like it more. That was a bad idea because I ended up spending almost as much as the cost of the dress justy on alterations! Not recommended. If I were to get married again, to Aaron;), I would be completely into these dresses: Gilded Grace Dress (this one is my fave), Alight of Heart Dress, Are You Gonna Be My Pearl? Dress, Romance with Me Dress (that just so happens to be 70% off), and Outshine the Sun Dress. I could go on and on but I should probably stop now. With a lot of the weddings we photograph the brides will also wear a short white dress for the rehearsal dinner, engagement shoot, and bridal shower so I could see a lot of these dresses being used for those purposes too.
We’re all so, insanely rushed, and busy ALL THE TIME. Can you do nothing for 2 minutes? Let me tell you, I really suck at it.
What are you up to this weekend? We have to go to Home Depot to get some parts to try to fix of garbage disposal, and Aaron’s birthday is Sunday so I’m going to bake him a huge, chocolate chip cookie “cake”, and then I’m going to frost it with a shitload of buttercream and sprinkles. We’ll eat too much of it, regret it, then vow to get healthy again on Monday.
I hope you have a great weekend, and keep that spending on lock down! Read these get out of debt pledges if you need a kick in the ass/jolt of motivation. I read them very often to keep myself in check. xo, Anna
On Monday morning I was on Colorado Public Radio to join in the discussion about how some FICO credit scores may be getting a boost soon because medical collection debts won’t be getting weighed as heavily as they have in the past. (This is such great news!) I talked more about my story and how I got out of debt while Chad Gentry from Mpowered talked about the nuts and bolts of how the change will affect consumers.
We were interviewed by Ryan Warner, and I’ve got to say, his voice is amazing. I might have to have his interviews on repeat, so I can listen to them whenever I need to relax. Smooth and soothing with great questions mixed in.
The very first question he asked me is, “What is your credit score?” When I was getting ready for the interview it dawned on me that when I was in the thick of my debt I used to have NO IDEA what my credit score was! I was completely ambivalent. It was partly because I wasn’t applying for any car or home loans so I didn’t really have to know. (Just wanted to clarify, in the article on the CPR site they said that I just recently found out my credit score, which is not correct. I just recently looked up my current score. While I don’t have my past credit scores memorized, I was aware of what it was after I got out of debt.)
I’d love for you to listen, and tell me what you think about the new FICO model. Do you think medical debts should be weighed as heavy as other types of debt? Do you agree or disagree with the change?
Your partner/spouse may have vastly different ideas about how your joint personal finances should be managed. It seems that in relationships this is usually how the combo’s usually work out:
– One half is more in-tune with financial matters, and deals with all the money matters while the other is happy to stay out of the fray and focuses on other things that impact the relationship.
– One partner is the Spender and one is the Saver (that’s how me and Aaron are. He’s the Natural Saver and I’m the Natural Spender.)
OR one partner used to have different (more frugal) ways about money when you got together, and has, over time, changed their ways, and has started to make financial changes that you don’t necessarily approve or agree with (“Let’s spend ALL THE MONEY!! YEAH! SHOTS FOR EVERYONE!”). Now, that’s a very sticky situation.
Ideally, both people in the relationship would agree on money matters, and work towards a frugal, savings-focused financial life but what if you see things differently? Maybe you’re ready to start living in a new way, and get your debt wiped out once-and-for-all but your partner wants to keep ordering pizza every other night and is totally fine with having the mega-channel, cable package that you are convinced you don’t really need. How do you get on the same page with money much less convince your partner that being frugal is going to be TOTALLY AWESOME? Well, here are some ideas.
13 ways to convince your partner that being frugal is the way to go…
I’m so happy Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us! I’ll let her take it from here. xo, Anna
Hi ya’ll! My name is Melanie, I write over at Love Library, and you might remember me from some of my guest posts here at And Then We Saved. I try to save in all aspects of my life, from my wedding to my living situation. Currently, my husband, George and I live in a vintage (and paid-for!) Airstream trailer. It’s a little unconventional, but we make it work. We moved into the Airstream to get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and so George could focus on his art work. We’ve now saved enough to get us out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. We have an emergency fund, George had a chance to really expand his business and we’ve even had the chance to travel.
But I also realize that for us, living in the Airstream for the rest of our lives isn’t going to be a viable option. I love the ol’ Airstream, but I can’t imagine hobbling around our humble abode when I’m 80. After all our hard work, I also don’t want to plunge ourselves into 20 or 30 years worth of debt either. (Even if it is good debt and all that jazz.) My dream is to pay for a house in cash. Sound insane? Yeah, it is insane. But I have delusions of grandeur and the Spending Diet is going to help me reach those goals.
I started the Spending Diet on July 1st, 2014 and I am hoping to continue it for a year minimum. I chose the Diet instead of the Spending Fast because I don’t do so well when I feel too constrained. For instance, If I’m told I can’t have cookies, I’ll eat ALL THE COOKIES. So for one year, I will be giving myself an allowance of $100 for the wants on my list. My husband gets his own $100 allowance. We don’t share so well.
First up is the Needs List, you might notice we don’t have rent or water. We live rent-free in our Airstream that is parked on family land and we have well water. Our cars are also paid off.
Internet (my job and my husband, George’s job requires it)
Food (from pre-paid CSA only)
Gym membership (local gym, it’s reasonable and health is important)
Medicine (prescriptions and off-brand over the counter stuff)
Car and motorcycle insurance
Gas (Busing isn’t an option where I live)
Art supplies (for George’s job)
Website hosting costs (very low)
The following is my Wants List. I listed many of the same wants as Anna. I put my big vices in italics. I love a good coffee shop coffee, expensive food (hello, Whole Foods!) and heading into a craft store feels like Christmas morn to me.
Travel (le sigh!)
Coffee at coffee shops
Self-improvement stuff (e-books, e-courses, etc.)
Pretty much anything else
So, that’s it. Each month I pull out $100 in cash from my bank account and when that’s done, it’s done. I’ll be updating you all each month with my progress. Talk to you soon! Melanie
If something is tedious I won’t stick with it. It’s one of those things I’ve learned about myself over the years. To stick with something over a period of time (like the Spending Fast, or anything else), I’ve got to make things really easy on myself. For most things if something is over-complicated I’ll be over it in a hot second… along with my commitment to it.
Coupons typically always fallen into the, “Nope. Not messing with them, not worth my time!” category. As much as I wish I could get behind clipping, gathering, and organizing I’m just not into it so I try to not make myself feel bad for not being into it. Even though I KNOW there is money to be saved, and great prices to be had because people are clearly super successful in the saving money department if they have their couponing act together.
My thoughts about the whole “couponing-thing” started to change when I checked out BluePromoCode, which just so happens to be “the web’s most reliable search engine”.
First of all, the site is super attractive. I know that’s kind of a weird thing to say about a website, but it just is. If you’ve gone to most coupon or deal sites they are cluttered messes, and the first thing I find myself thinking is, “Ugh.” Quickly followed by, “Nah. Not worth it.” So, I was pleasantly surprised to see super a nice, clean layout.
If I was you, I would be wondering, “Alright. Coupon site. What makes it special?” I know these things because I asked myself that exact thing when I was approached to write a review about the site.
Here’s the lowdown:
After you sign-up you are prompted to follow stores. I would only recommend following stores that you would buy from anyway. We all need household items, and since they’re going to get bought anyway you might as well save some money on them (Target, Home Depot, etc.). They have coupons for just about everything, along with coupons for some more unique stores too. Like for one of my all-time favorite sites, Etsy. (I’ve never seen coupons offered for Etsy before so that kind of blew my mind.)
As you follow stores you are creating your Personal Feed.
When you go to the site you’ll see all the deals and coupons for the stores you’ve followed in both printable and electronic versions. That’s an expected feature but what I really like is that you can choose to receive emails that highlights your deals on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. (I like that they don’t bombard you will a ton of emails everyday if you don’t want them).
You can “clip” coupons by clicking the little heart that’s within the coupon square, and then it will be saved for future use. The “clipped” coupons are saved under “My Saves” so you can be reminded about the deal before the coupon expires.
They also give you extra info with “Inside Tips”. It’s really interesting because they tell you things that you don’t get to see elsewhere… like how many coupons the store has per month, the store’s average deal duration, and the average savings provided by the store’s coupons. I think that’s pretty cool because I’m a Virgo, and Virgo’s are into stuff like that.
All in all, BluePromoCode is a solid, good-looking;) resource for saving some bucks in a quick and easy way!
Thank you for continuing to support the brands and sites that help to make this site possible! xo, Anna
Hey there, I’m in New York City this week shooting a few more instructional videos for PNC Bank (I’ll be showing pics from the week on my Instagram if you want to follow along.) so here is a very timely, back-to-school post by Mr. Mike Dariano.xo, Anna
I don’t know exactly what my children do at school but whatever it is they must be doing it nonstop. They must be like little hummingbirds, buzzing from room to room, activity to activity, because when my kids finish school each day they are starving. If their teacher is training them to be sherpas on Mount Everest I wouldn’t doubt it.
There was one day when all my daughter had as a snack was a handful of TicTacs and granola bars. I felt bad about this and vowed to plan better snacks for them but vowing and having are two different things. Now that the school year has just begun, we have less time and more things to do so our snacking needs to be organized better. Here’s what I’ve done to avoid any more TicTac lunches.
5 Quick, Efficient Ideas for School Year Snacks…
1. Make Efficient Use of Your Time: Slice three apples at a time.
My kids love Gala apples and they’re a regular snack around our house, unless we don’t have time to eat them. I could let them eat a whole apple but at five and three years old they’re messy enough. Instead I slice three at a time and put them into a container in our refrigerator. If they want them at home, they know where to find some. If we’re rushing out the door, I know where to grab them from.
2. Keep it Simple: Buy only one brand.
In our house we love granola bars so, we’ve settled on Cliff bars as the only granola bar in our house. My goal was to limit the amount of sugar in a granola bar and increase the amount of protein and these bars fit those 2 needs. The secret to having them when we need them? Don’t let them ever enter our house. Keep them stored in the car so they are always ready for emergency hunger attacks.
3. Make Inexpensive Veggies Accessible: Broccoli and carrots.
It our house the easiest veggies are simple, sliced broccoli and carrots. When these come home from the store they each immediately get cut into dippable pieces and placed in the refrigerator next to the apple. Besides being ready for the kids they also make easy vegetable additions to dinner.
4. Skip the Expensive Pre-packaged Snacks: Make it at home.
Rather than buying pre-packaged trail mix we make ours right at home. I’ve found that if the kids make something they immediately like it. We gather up all the possible trail mix ingredients and start mixing together the cereal, nuts, dried fruit, and candy together and portion it out in zip top bags so we can grab these and go out the door. This is also a really great way to use up foods that might be going bad soon.
5. Do Not Buy Bottled Water: Bring your own re-usable bottle.
Water is great but expensive bottled water is not. That’s why we keep our water bottles at the ready. At school my daughters seem to be interested in everything except for keeping themselves hydrated so when they settle into their seats after school they are thirsty little animals. At night we put out our water bottles along with shoes so they too are ready for the next day.
There is a lot of running kids around so with a little bit of planning ahead, we can do without stopping at McDonald’s every other day. Most of what we do is to have things ready to go by the door and we keep things in the car. Once we got over the hump of starting the new habits we all became healthier and the snack portion of the budget got a lot smaller.
How do you save money on after school snacks? If you have any secrets we’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Mike Dariano is a father to two daughters, walker to two dogs, and husband to -thankfully – one wife. He writes at mikedariano.net
Being on a money-saving mission typically means that when something’s broken you try to fix it, yourself, rather than buying something new. Some lucky souls are born with handyman skills which allow them to handle any repair or home improvement project that comes along. However, there are a lot of us who may have the ambition to get the job done but lack the knowledge or experience to get the job done right. Rather than jack something up even worse, and rather than taking a lot of time to teach yourself something that someone else is already fully trained to do (and therefore losing hours of your life – which is way more valuable than money).
You might be surprised to hear me say this but, there are actually some home improvements or repair projects that I fully believe you should just pay someone else to do because they are simply over the DIY/money-saving-at-all-costs level.
Not Worth the Trouble (or Time) – 8 Home Improvement/Repair Projects You Should Just Pay Someone to Do
1. Electricity-Related Projects
Electrical work can be deadly if not done properly. Not only is the one who is doing the work at risk of being severely injured (or even killed) everyone who lives at the home (and surrounding homes if you’re in a condo or apartment) can be injured if electrical work is done wrong. So, if you’re not experienced in electrical work, leave it to the professionals. In many locations, electrical work can only be completed by a licensed electrician and will require inspections once the work is completed. If you end up needing electrical work, call up contact a certified electrician.
2. Plumbing Work
Like electricity, plumbing is better left to the professionals. Plumbing work needs to be done properly by an experienced plumber or you end up putting your home at-risk for water damage and flooding. If you know nothing about plumbing, contact a certified plumber to take care of installing new pipes or replacing broken, leaky ones.
3. Pool Installation
You might be thinking, “Uhhhh… pool installation, really?” BUT. Get this – there are actually many new products on the market that allow you to easily set up a backyard, in ground pool. Yes. Seriously! (Like this DIY pool installation kit) While these pool packages are cost-effective and relatively easy to set up in your yard, there are plenty of other factors to consider. Namely, the safety of the pool is a concern. If you set-up the pool at a location where the yard is not completely level, your pool won’t be stable and may even become unsafe to swim in. Unless you are an experienced excavator, hire someone to professionally level the ground and set up the pool so it is reliable and safe for the whole family.
If the trees in your yard are much higher than your reaching abilities, hire a professional tree trimmer to safely trim off the lengthy limbs. Tree-trimming is a task that should be completed by a professional due to the many safety issues. Professional tree trimmers are properly trained and have the necessary equipment to reach the branches situated at great heights. Never climb up the tree with a chainsaw if you don’t know what you are doing as the limbs lost will likely be yours. No bueno, yo.
5. Mold Remediation
If your basement or some other area of your home retains moisture and develops mold, leave the remediation work to the professionals. Some mold and mildew that develops in a home can be harmless but there are also a lot of mold variations that are very harmful to one’s health. If you discover mold growth, don’t attempt to attack it with some bleach on your own (I’m always tempted to do that) because the mold might be far more insidious than you realize with an untrained eye. To ensure the job is done completely, properly, and safely, find a mold remediation specialist to get the job done right.
6. Asbestos/Lead Removal
Many older homes contain harmful amounts of lead paint or asbestos which can be exposed during a renovation project. Tearing down walls or ripping up floors can stir up the poisonous dirt that can cause major respiratory illnesses. Avoid the potential health concern by hiring a professional contractor who knows how to deal with the harmful debris, and has the equipment necessary to get the job done correctly. Even if you are not intentionally trying to remove these harmful materials, any renovation work done on older homes may expose dangerous particles of asbestos, lead, or other harmful materials.
7. Pest Infestations
If your home needs improvement to eradicate pests like ants, termites, or rodents, it is ideally, better to hire a professional who can solve the problem for good. Commercial pest sprays and traps can be somewhat helpful but will not get to the root of the problem. A pest company can find out where the home base of the pests is (usually out of sight), and eliminate it for good so you don’t end up with a recurring problem. Pest experts can also advise you on the damage that has been done due to the pests to make repairs more effective. Pests can cause damage that you may not be able to see but which it could put your home at risk.
8. Energy-Efficiency Improvements
There are several tax breaks that are available to homeowners if you increase the energy efficiency of your home. By hiring an energy-efficient expert they’ll be able to analyze the areas where your home is lacking efficiency, and make the necessary recommendations for updating. A professional can also do a more thorough job of increasing energy efficiency than a do-it-yourselfer because if you miss areas that need improvement you may be still losing money through unrepaired areas.
Did I miss any home projects that should be left to the pros? Or, what do you think, can some of these projects be done DIY just as good as the pros do it?
Hi there, I keep getting emails about the Should I Buy It Decision Card not working from the original post (sorry about that!) so rather than emailing it to you all individually (which I would totally do;), and have been doing) I figured I’d try uploading this again so hopefully it will work smoothly this time. Here’s the new Should I Buy It Decision Cardlink. (When the new page opens just click on the link again.) There are 2 – 5×7’s on 1 – 8×10 page so you can keep one and give one to a friend or keep them both and put one up by your computer screen for when you what to shop online and put the other one around your wallet, on your mirror, or save it as the wallpaper for your phone so you always have it with you. xo, Anna
The Spending Fast method for getting out of debt is usually portrayed in the press and articles about me, and the blog, as being a super easy, and quick way to get out of debt. And while it IS a VERY quick, and efficient method (especially in relation to other methods), and while it IS simple, it is not easy.
While it would be amazing to be able to take a pill or snap your fingers to get out of debt instantly, it doesn’t work that way. And, we all know that. It takes time, and effort to do anything worthwhile, much less to get out of ALL OF YOUR DEBT!
To paraphrase the saying, time is going to pass whether you take the chance or not.
I had so much stuff hiding away that I was able to get rid of a total of 496 items!! Aaron did an undocumented version of The Challenge, and apparently he doesn’t have as much random crap as I do so he was able to get rid of 252 items! That means that we collectively eliminated 748 items that were no longer useful to us!!!!!
I had NO IDEA that we would have that much extra stuff to get rid of, and the crazy thing is I don’t even miss (or even remember most) of what we got rid of!
Day 30, Get rid of 30 items:
SELL 1, TRASH 1 – Mop heads x 2 (from a failed DIY attempt :/)
SELL – Humidifier
SELL – Dress
SELL – Books x 4
SELL – Art
SELL – Gel eye mask
SELL – Sunglasses
SELL – Ring
SELL – Chai tea
SELL – Breast milk storage bags (ended up donating these)
SELL – Breast pump (ended up donating this)
SELL – Angeled baby bottle
SELL – Baby headband
SELL – 1/2 full cocoa
SELL – Decorative accordion craft fan
SELL – Socks
SELL – Baby rice cereal (ended up donating)
SELL – Kiddie stickers
SELL – Practically full bag of Epsom salts
SELL – Large bag of clothespins
TRASH – Old computer program CD’s x 5
TRASH – Metal thing (I have no idea what it does)
Day 31, Get rid of 31 items:
SELL – Clothes x A Zillion (23)
SELL – Cute winter hat x 2
SELL – Bikini x 2
SELL – Screen-printed mini-bag
SELL – Sneakers
SELL – Thin tin box
TRASH – Box of month-old tomato soup (I was hard up for the 31st item)
I AM SO HAPPY TO HAVE THAT STUFF OUT OF MY LIFE!
We did a Yard Sale on Saturday so I’ll be posting about that soon.
Have you been doing The Minimalist Challenge too? If so, how has it been going, and how many items have you gotten rid of so far? How does it feel?
With the new school year right around the corner, and with higher education costs growing at staggeringly high rates it’s a prime time to discuss some ways to get a free education by some less than traditional methods (Related post: Is College Worth the Expense? My Husband’s Story). This is a guest post by the lovely Melanie. xo, Anna
12 Free Ways to Get an Education
In the fourth quarter of 2012, total student loan debt reached $966 billion dollars. I can’t even comprehend that much money. I can’t even comprehend the average student loan balance of $24,803. Once upon a time, I was a student and I also work at a community college so I understand the debt struggle is real. It’s a complicated problem that I could write a novel about, but today we’re going to scratch the surface with a few free ways to get an education!
The Open Education Consortium (OEC) is a group of higher education institutions and organizations from around the world. Last time I checked, the OEC presented 25,082 courses from 78 providers! The OEC is a great place to start looking for courses because they work with some of the most innovative educators in the world to compile and create awareness of massive-open-online courses (MOOCs).
Coursera is another great place to start looking for MOOCs. Similarly to the OEC, Coursera works with global universities to offer courses in almost every subject imaginable. Personally, I cannot wait to take thee-Learning Ecologies courseoffered from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Khan Academy is a bit different. Khan Academy doesn’t offer formal courses, but it’s a wealth of quick educational videos and great for learning at your own pace. Khan Academy offers introductory-level videos for mostly math and science, but they’ve also branched out to American Civics and Art History. They even offer explanatory videos on finance and capital markets!
4. University of Redditt
University of Redditt isn’t taught by professors, instead it’s crowdsourced. University of Redditt doesn’t just have a traditionally academic focus either. There’s classes on Cooking for the Single Life, An Introduction to Magic the Gathering and Lucid Dreaming, among the more traditional academics like Music, Philosophy, Science and Technology. Who wants to learn how to lucid dream with me?!
I’ve learned so much from YouTube. Seriously, I don’t know what I ever did without it. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve learned how to do my makeup for my wedding, how to make beeswax candles and how to properly poach an egg! Discover the magic of YouTube, people.
SchoolTube is just like YouTube, except it’s solely designed for students and educators. SchoolTube has a K-12 focus, but there are some seriously amazing teachers who have put up seriously creative and entertaining content. I recently used Mr. W’s Virus Rap to brush up on my biology.
This app makes learning super convenient. You can download it on your phone and then learn wherever it is convenient to you– whether that’s on the bus or in the bathtub! iTunes U contains courses from major universities, like Yale, and also claims to be “the world’s largest digital catalog of free education content.”
Academic Earth was the first player in the free online college course game. Today they offer highly curated course links from some of the nation’s top schools– Stanford, Harvard and MIT, just to name a few. Academic Earth is a wealth of knowledge with “curated links to over 750 online courses and 8,500 individual online lectures,” yet still remains an easy-to-navigate site.
Wikiversity, one of the Wikimedia Foundation’s projects, is devoted to learning projects and resources, research and is caters to all levels from preschool to the university. What I like about Wikiversity is that it has a familiar interface. It looks just like Wikipedia!
Many large universities (and even small ones!) are jumping on the open learning bandwagon. Carnegie Melon’s initiative is definitely one of those worth mentioning. Through the Open Learning Initiative, you learn at your own pace through modules created by volunteer instructors. Notable courses include argument diagramming, responsible computing and STEM foundations.
The Goodwill Community Foundation’s Learn Free is a favorite of the Office Systems Technology instructors at my school. It’s great for introductory computer classes like Facebook 101 and iPad basics and the Microsoft Office Suite. They also offer modules in resume writing, career planning and money!
12. The Library
Frank Zappa once said, “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.” And I couldn’t agree with him more on both accounts. Bazinga! But in all seriousness, your local library is a wealth of knowledge and information that is right there– free for the taking. (You can find your local public library here: http://www.publiclibraries.com/) There’s knowledge that exists in books that you can’t find on the Internet– crazy, I know. But libraries aren’t just about books. Many libraries offer educational classes and programs on a whole host of things. I’ve seen everything from yoga classes to computer classes to knitting and 3-D printing. Interested in more ways to save money with the library? Check out 18 Ways the Library Can Help You Save Money.
Have you used any of the free education resources mentioned? Do you know of others that weren’t mentioned in the post? Would love to hear about your experience with non-tradional education methods!
Melanie is a recently married librarian living in an Airstream with her husband. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. Find out more about their life at Love Library.
“Sometimes, you must do what’s best for you and your life, not what’s best for everybody else.” – Unknown
When I start thinking about creating these hope/motivational posts (because they are SO needed when you’re in the trenches of saving money/getting out of debt) I scroll through my ever-running list of quotes, and I think, “Okay Universe, what does someone need to hear today?” And then, I’m drawn to one quote over another. I like to think that it will help one (or ALL!;) of you get just the push you need to keep going, and help you stay motivated on your trek to a life free from debt!
It can get really tough battling debt, so we’ve got to stay strong as we fight the evils of debt together! (I just imagined like, a zillion She-Ra’s with swords drawn, and debt just dropping dead all over the place. You too? Okay, good.)
Now about this quote here… So, CLEARLY it’s great to care about how your actions will affect others but sometimes you’ve got to say, “Screw it!”, and maybe be a little selfish if that’s what it takes to get yourself to a healthier place. I think this concept applies to all areas of life, and not just to the financial aspect. Do you have people in your life that are keeping you in unhealthy habits? And then do you in turn feel like crap because the choices you’re making aren’t honoring the TRUE you? If so, that’s a feeling you should listen to. You’re getting those shitty feelings for a reason… to prompt you into action.
Sometimes friends/family/partners don’t “get” why you would want to get out of debt if it means you have to do some sacrificing. I understand that to a point, and I believe that it’s usually because they love you and don’t want to see you suffer. However, if you find that after you tell certain people that you’re trying to get out of debt, they still pressure you to spend, and minimize your efforts and successes even after they’ve had time to come around then it might be time to be “selfish” in your effort to become a better you.
For me, being “selfish” meant that I had to tell people stuff they didn’t want to hear sometimes. Usually that was saying, “No” to invites to dinner or lunch out, saying “No” to concerts, and saying “No” to trips. It wasn’t fun to do, and some people got mad and called me selfish but I did it, and made it to the other side. And you know what? I’m glad I stuck to my mission, and was committed to at least trying to become debt-free. To me, in those instances, being selfish was needed, and absolutely the best option for me to make.
What do you think? Have you ever had to be “selfish” in order to protect what’s best for you? I sure have. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
I was at Target yesterday, and I noticed that they already have the Back to School stuff out! I can’t believe it; seems like summer just started!
Summer is that idyllic time when memories are made so be sure you are getting the most out of the short-lived season (no pressure, right?), while also not spending a ton to make those memories.
Let’s get out there, and enjoy what we’ve got left of summer!
23 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Summer…
1. Realize the Benefits
You know how they say laughter is the best medicine? Well ‘they’ know what they are talking about. With the hectic lives we lead, a little downtime does the body good. Part of being healthy involves feeling good about yourself and having fun. Summer is the perfect time to let loose a little bit and be proactive about having fun.
2. Mix Scheduling With Spontaneity
For bigger trips and events, make sure to schedule ahead of time to make sure your plans will go through. For the things that do not need to be scheduled in advance, take some time to truly enjoy the spontaneous moments of life. It can be a great stress reliever and return you back to reality as a happier, calmer person.
3. Go Local
You don’t have to hop on an airplane to have a great time. Take a day trip around your local area and check out things you take for granted. Many places offer free newspapers or pamphlets listing free or low-cost events like fairs, carnivals, or even educational opportunities. It’s cost-effective to come home each night after exploring something new all day.
4. Go Back in Time
Consider the things you loved doing as a child. There are so many simple trips that likely have become your best memories. Entertain your own kids by introducing them to your all-time favorite summer activities. Have a water balloon fight, invite the neighbors for backyard volleyball, or set up a tent in your yard and tell ghost stories.
5. Take a Mental Health Day
If you do not have a vacation allowance at work just yet, consider calling in for a mental health break. That one extra day can be used to do absolutely nothing but what you want to do. Watch movies, read a book, just be lazy for a change.
6. Tackle the Big Jobs
A honey-do list may not be the most exciting part of your summer but tackling projects around the house that need your attention can go a long way to easing your everyday stress. Using some time off to get stuff done can also help you save money on major repairs.
7. Learn a Skill
Keep your mind active by learning a new skill this summer. Learn how to kayak or get educated on how to can the vegetables and fruits in your garden. Picking up a new skill can introduce you to new hobbies and make you a well-rounded person. You can also make a buck off your skills too: How to Figure Out Your Skills and Sell Them for Cash.
8. Create New Traditions
The winter holidays are not the only time to consider family traditions. Start a few so your family has something to look forward to in the summer months. Start a nightly family walk, scout out a favorite fishing hole, or host an annual backyard cookout.
9. Get Educated
If you have more free time in the summer, invest in your own education. Take courses online or at the community college to get some credits out-of-the-way. Be sure to check out these 8 Insider Tips to Saving Money on Textbooks.
10. Find a Swimming Hole
Whether your family prefers the public pool or enjoy jumping in the local river, find a fun place to cool off on a hot day. If there aren’t any good swimming locations nearby, invest in a sprinkler and let the hose flow freely for a little while.
11. Ditch the TV
Unless it’s a rainy day, keep the television off as much as possible. Take bored kids to the library or the park. Cancel your cable for the summer to save on your expenses.
12. Make New Friends
There are some cool ways to meet new people so get out there and do it. Join a club that focuses on your interests in books or hiking. Say, “Hi” to new people at church. Attend the community block party and meet all your neighbors.
13. Take a Big Family Trip
If it’s financially viable, plan a big trip for the family vacation. Let everyone in the family have a say about where to go. Get in the habit of planning in advance for the larger trips. Working with a travel agent, you can often ‘layaway’ a trip and make payments on it over the course of a year.
14. Find a Fitness Buddy
In order to stay motivated about being physically fit, find a friend that will hold you accountable for your inactivity. Ask a neighbor to go on a daily walk or find a friend that likes to run. Ask your pal to join a dance class with you. Here are 12 Free Exercises to get you started.
15. Volunteer Your Time
There a number of ways you can lend your time to help someone else. Whether you have one hour or forty to give each week, find something you enjoy doing that in turn helps others. Cook at a soup kitchen, teach a class at the community center for free, walk dogs at the shelter, or help build a new house for those in need.
16. Go Camping
Nothing says summer like the smell of marshmallows roasting over a campfire. Find a place to camp on the cheap at a nearby campground or state park. Even if you lack the necessary equipment for camping, you can rent a cabin and borrow supplies from your friends and family. Family camping is a great way to get everyone to unplug and relax for a weekend.
17. Invite Guests to Stay
If you have some out-of-state friends or family, invite them to visit. It can be a whole different experience seeing your local area through a new set of eyes. If you want to take a family road trip, hit up your out-of-state friends and family about a visit.
18. Get Sporty
You only have a limited time to do outdoor sports and adventures like hiking, boating, and water skiing. Take a family fun day and learn how to do a new water sport you have never tried.
19. Join a Team
Some communities or even your workplace may have established sports teams for summer play. Find out how to sign up for the softball team or get involved in some playground basketball. If nothing is in your area already, start a summer league with your friends.
20. Update Your Resume
Summer time is often a time of reflection and pondering what you’d like to improve in your life may reveal your desire to change jobs. During some time off, you can reorganize your priorities where your career is concerned. Update your resume and check out the online job boards to see what else is out there.
21. Hit Up the Yard Sales
Yard sales are growing in popularity. Get up early and hit some local yard sales to see what is being offered. You may be surprised at what some people want to get rid of at cheap prices. You may also want to hold your own sale to de-clutter your house of unwanted things and make a little summer fun money in the process. (Cough, cough… Minimalist Challenge anyone?)
22. Find a Farmer’s Market
If your goal is eating better, find out where the local farmer’s market is. You can pick up the freshest, summer produce for a low-cost. Invest some time in finding new recipes based on your farmer’s market finds.
23. Get in the Hammock
There is nothing like a lazy day of summer where you get to be lazy. If you happened to find a hammock during your yard sale spree, be sure to take some well-deserved time to lay in it. Recharge your batteries before school starts and summer is just another memory.
What are your plans for making the most of this summer? Got any fun trips planned?
Happy 4th of July! What are you up to today and this weekend? Anything fun? We’ll be staying in tonight since the baby goes to sleep really early, (7:00 – 7:30 pm) and all the fireworks displays start around 9:30 pm but we might be meeting up with some friends for some BBQ-ing at the ol’ park. I hope that whatever you do you are having fun today!
Here are this week’s Thrifty Weekender links:
Remember how I told you that I couldn’t wait to share what I made for Aaron for Father’s Day with you? That onesie up above there is what I made, and I also made my husband a t-shirt with the baby’s face on it. They each wore their shirts and they were a set! It was so cute! I love how easy it was to customize the shirt/onesie and you gift/celebration options throughout the year are endless.(Got the idea from this post over at A Beautiful Mess.)
Design Sponge asked “What Is Your Biggest Buyer’s Remorse?” Got me thinking, what is my biggest buyer’s remorse? Mine is a massive couch that cost thousands and long story (super) short, wasn’t worth it. At all. What’s yours?
I’m ALL ABOUT pom poms. My house is literally covered in them. No, really, it is. So when I came across this pom pom fruit DIY I basically flipped, and decided that we need even more pom poms around here.
Things have been pretty busy around these parts! I’m working away on the book (OMG. It’s a lot of work!), we’re in the midst of our wedding photography season, and then there’s all the regular old life stuff that is happening, of course. ;)
I owe ya a couple of updates on The Minimalist Challenge. Turns out, Day 18 was a pivotal point in the process, and I gained a lot of insights about what I have been hanging onto. Probably one of the biggest insights so far throughout The Challenge has been that I’ve realized that I’ve got to stop bringing stuff into the house… even if that stuff is free (local newspapers, things from friends, knick-knacks, etc).
Below is my update on The Minimalist Challenge for days 13 through 18. Up to this point I’ve gotten rid of a total of 171 items!!
Day 13, Get rid of 13 things:
SELL – Clothes x 11
SELL – Accessories x 2
Going through my closet I found myself thinking/deciding/having these realizations:
– “Have I even EVER worn this?!”
– If I only feel so-so when I wear a piece of clothing then I need to get rid of it.
– There are some clothes that I pull out of storage every time the seasons switch and I always think I’m going to wear but just never, ever seem to get around to wearing. Those items need to stop taking up time in my life and have been put in the Get Rid Of pile.
– Some clothes I like the idea of more than the reality of.
Day 14, Get rid of 14 things:
GIVE AWAY – Shower curtain. I have a friend moving into a new place and she said she just so happens to need a shower curtain. Perfect!
SELL – Bridesmaid dress from H&M that totally doesn’t look like a bridesmaid dress. This was from my little sister’s wedding and she was so awesome to let us get these dresses that were only about $30. They looked great in the pictures too!
TRASH – Mismatched socks that don’t have a partner. (I’m counting them as 1 item)
TRASH – Undies x 2. They’re ill-fitting. And you all know, ain’t nobody got time for that!
SELL – Earrings/jewelry x 7
SELL – Key tag label thingy
TRASH – Top to a travel coffee mug. Why in the world do I still have the lid to a coffee mug I no longer have?
SELL – Little plastic heart container
Day 15, Get rid of 15 things:
SELL – Clothes x 6
DONATE – Torn towel
SELL – Curtain rods x 2
SELL – Socks. Never wear these ones for some reason.
TRASH – Drawstring that has become separated from a pair of workout pants (don’t know what pants it even belongs too).
SELL – Canister of coffee
SELL – Semi-busted book light (just needs tape or something to keep the batteries in) but I never use it anyway so…
SELL – Thick headband
TRASH – Pot of lipstick
Day 16, Get rid of 16 things:
SELL – Small camera bag
SELL Camcorder with manual (counting as 2 items)
SELL – Small camera tripod
SELL – Web camera
SELL – DVD-R x 2
TRASH – Empty DVD-R cases x 3
SELL – Flash diffuser
SELL – Lens/screen cleaning kit
SELL – USB drive
TRASH – Empty box x 2
SELL – Set of reflective pant leg tighteners (for when you ride your bike)
Most of these items we just don’t use anymore.
Day 17, Get rid of 17 things:
This is the medicine cabinet edition;) so most of these things have to be disposed of.
TRASH – Empty inhalers x 3
TRASH – Empty shampoo bottle (it’s super sticky, and covered with fuzz and lint because I took the original label off of it)
TRASH – Ointment x 2
TRASH – Old lip balm
TRASH – Old/expired medicines x 7
TRASH – Empty medicine box
TRASH – Inhaler thing
SELL – Practically new lotion that we never use
What’s with all these empty and expired things?!
Day 18, Get rid of 18 things:
The Linen Closet edition…
TRASH – (Continued from medicine cabinet) Expired medicine x 6
SELL – Bath towel
SELL – Hand towel
SELL – Sheets x 4
SELL – Pillow cases x 4
DONATE – Baby blanket
SELL – Bath mat
I think I still have a linen-collecting problem! :/ Linens showed up on my original Spending Fast Wants list and it looks like that problem area has slowly creeped back in.
So, at this point I’ve gone through: my closet, bedroom, coat closet, linen and medicine closest, and our office (surprisingly the least-cluttered area). The next areas that got tackled: junk drawer, Craft/Junk Room, and the basement storage unit.
“If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.”
Today I’m counting: when I get my baby to laugh, when the sun peeks through the canopy of trees at the park, getting to go to yoga at the crack of dawn before the city wakes up, free parking at the meters by yoga because it’s so early, cuddling up with Aaron on the couch to watch a random show after the baby goes to bed.
I think it’s so important to talk about these “little issues” that come up with women, and especially any issues that can impact women in the workplace. This is definitely one of those things.
The other day, a friend of mine told me that at her job she was instructed to “be nicer”, and another friend said that during a performance evaluation she was told she needed to “smile more”. I was shocked to hear that such feedback was given (they don’t work in the hospitality industry where I could see comments like those being somewhat warranted). I wonder what the correlation is with women being so “sorry” about so many unnecessary things, and also being expected to be so nice and smiley is? Are women just are supposed to be robotically cheerful and constantly apologetic in the workplace? I don’t think so, and I don’t like it one bit.
Let’s be on our own side and stop saying “sorry” so much. It might seem like a little thing to do but we can start making a shift with how we are seen, especially in the workplace, with every unnecessary “sorry” that doesn’t get said. Try saying, “excuse me” if you need a transitional phrase. I’ve found that it’s pretty easy to swap them out once you become aware.
Do you find yourself saying “Sorry” when you don’t really need to? Have you ever been told to be “sweeter”, “nicer”, or to “smile more” in the workplace? I’d love to hear about your experience with this issue.
After low-pay, co-workers are #2 on the list of what makes work undesirable. Do you have any co-workers that do any of these “annoying” behaviors (below), or do you (gasp) do any of them? Acknowledgement is the first step to change.;)
I won’t say which ones my former co-workers or myself committed in the past but I was definitely guilty of a few.
How about you, how do you stack-up, and where do your co-workers stand on the annoying scale?
HOW ANNOYING OF A CO-WORKER ARE YOU? QUIZ
Keep track of how many of the below traits that you, or your co-workers, commit. Then, see what your results are at the end of the quiz. (Just a warning, it’s a biggie! So make sure you have about 10 minutes to complete it.)
1. Dishes out room-clearing, silent-but-oh-dear-god-deadly farts. (Worst offenders: Egg Farts, and farts that linger. You know the ones…)
2. Clips nails at work or does any other sort of personal grooming at their desk
3. Doesn’t cover mouth when sneezing
4. Wears too much cologne or perfume
5. Always has coffee breath
6. Doesn’t wash hands after going to bathroom
7. Doesn’t use the bathroom spray when needed :( yuck!
8. Doesn’t flush the toilet :( double yuck!
9. Schedules meetings first thing the morning (8:00 am) or too close to the end of the day (4:30 pm)
10. Schedules too many meeting, in general. (“Let’s have some meetings to talk about the other meetings!” Um, no let’s not erm-kay.)
11. Is always trying to sell items for their kids (or themselves)
12. Acts as if they are the supervisor when they aren’t. (Acting like a leader can be a good thing but don’t go overboard with it.)
13. Is condescending
14. Doesn’t do certain tasks because they believe the tasks are “beneath” them or “not their job”
15. Acts entitled
16. Questions everyone and everything. (Just do your dang job!)
18. Constantly complains about all the “injustices” that are happening
19. Focuses too much on the negative
20. Stirs up drama
21. Brings personal drama to work, EVERYDAY
22. Is sulky/moody
23. Exhibits passive-aggressive behavior
24. Tries to “call out” others in front of the supervisor
26. Is too critical
27. Breaks things and then doesn’t fix it or ask the appropriate people to fix it
28. Uses up supplies and then doesn’t replace them
29. Acts as if co-workers desks are the Supply Room. (Get your own darn hole-punch!)
30. Says, “I’m always here to answer any questions you may have!” Then, they are never available when you need them.
31. Stops by your desk, far too often, and then doesn’t pick up on cues that you’re too busy to chat or that you need to get back to work
32. Touches others
33. Stands too close
34. Makes inappropriate/uncomfortable jokes
35. Brings kid(s)/pet(s) to work
36. Thinks you’re closer than you are then over-shares about far too personal (or intimate) aspects of their life.
37. Finishes others sentences
39. Talks too much
40. Talks too much about themselves
41. Talks over others
42. Talks loudly
43. Plays loud music
44. Plays terrible music
45. Plays elevator-ish music at half-volume
46. Is late to meetings and then asks lots and lots of questions about things that were covered when they were absent
47. They don’t do their work
48. They do their work but not efficiently, at all
49. They don’t know how to do their job
50. They make lots of mistakes
51. They don’t learn from their mistakes
52. They don’t pull their weight
53. Texts/on phone constantly
54. Is on social media throughout the day (and it’s not a social media job)
55. Hasn’t “paid their dues”/acts too comfortable too soon
56. Sneaks glances at your computer-screen
57. Asks questions about how to do things then not doesn’t learn from the experience so they continue to ask the same things over and over
58. Puts up cryptic Facebook posts about work
59. Puts up non-cryptic Facebook posts about work
60. Is a Know-it-All
61. Tells everyone how great they are
62. Offers un-solicited advice
63. Is an obvious suck-up
64. Takes credit for things they shouldn’t
65. Doesn’t take responsibility for their mistakes
66. Brags about how “caught up” they are and then they don’t offer to help out with what needs to be done
67. Comes to work sick (! – one of my biggest pet-peeves)
68. Takes smoke breaks
69. Takes too many breaks
70. Doesn’t pick up after themselves
71. Doesn’t say “Hi” or acknowledge you when you see each other in the halls even though you’ve met 700 times/they introduce themselves to you every time you see each other
72. Isn’t professional
73. Is forgetful
74. Dresses inappropriately
75. Sings (Loudly, softly, really great, or really bad —it doesn’t matter. Just don’t.)
77. Clears throat, a lot
78. Coughs, a lot
79. Sniffles, a lot
80. Sighs (Heavily, loudly and often.)
81. Doesn’t have cell phone noises on silent
82. Tests out all their cell phone ring-tones at work
83. Makes personal calls at desk
84. Takes too long on those personal calls
85. Eats loudly
86. Eats smelly foods
87. Takes food that isn’t theirs
88. Leaves dirty dishes in the sink
89. Doesn’t understand email etiquette
90. EMAILS IN ALL CAPS
91. Replies to all
92. Uses every font available in their email signature
93. Has elaborate email “stationary”
94. Has a cheesy quote under their signature
95. Asks questions that they could have found the answer to had they read the email
96. Sends chain emails
97. Sends spam emails
98. IM’s (instant message’s) about important matters that should be emailed about
99. IM’s and then expects an immediate response
100. Responds too slowly
101. Doesn’t respond to emails
Okay, that was more of a test then a quiz. Let’s see how you (or your co-worker) did…
How Annoying of a Co-Worker are You?
If you (or your co-worker) do 0 – 15 of the traits = NOT VERY ANNOYING
You’re not annoying at all! You should start a course called, “How to Not be Annoying” so we can all sign up!
If you (or your co-worker) do 16 – 30 of the traits = KIND OF ANNOYING
You have your annoying moments but you’re really not that bad! Might want to take a look at some areas to improve because you’re definitely doing some annoying things here and there but, generally, you’re doing good!
If you (or your co-worker) do 31 – 61 of the traits = VERY ANNOYING
Ut oh. You’re pretty annoying. Your co-workers cringe when they see you coming and they are secretly very pumped when you say you’re looking for a new job. I know, sad, right?! :( You can still make changes! It’s not too late for you!
If you (or your co-worker) do 62 – 101 of the traits = CRINGE-WORTHY ANNOYING
You’re the perfect example of an annoying co-worker and your co-workers want you to quit ASAP! It’s nothing personal, of course, but please leave, like, right now. :’’’(
How’d you and your co-workers do on the annoying quiz?
This Sunday will be Aaron’s very first Father’s Day, and I made him something pretty neat that the baby will give him:), and I got him a couple of little things too. (I can’t wait to show you what I made him it’s a simple but impressive DIY that could be adapted for just about any holiday/event throughout the year.)
We’re continuing to clear-out the clutter through The Minimalist Challenge and my word, gotta say, while I know it will ultimately be cleaner after we get rid of the stuff, during the process of this Challenge our dining room has become a massive mess. I’ve been trying to remind myself, “Alright, it’s going to get messier before it gets cleaner” because we’ve got bins stacked upon bins, and since those are all packed full we’ve switched over to garbage bags so we have a place for the rest of the junk to go. I don’t know how we’ve accumulated SO much stuff! Barf. I’m so ready to let the things go even more now that I’ve had to stare at the piles of stuff everyday!
I’m excited to share this week’s Minimalist Challenge update! It’s crazy to realize all the random crap that I’m been mindlessly accumulating. Oh my word… It’s kind of sickening but awesome at the same time to be taking action to end the problem!
Turns out, ACTION = RESULTS = FEEL GREAT.
Since I didn’t realize how much junk we’ve I’ve been “collecting” I think I want to try to do this Challenge every year. It’s turned out to be such a great opportunity to clear out all the un-needed crap, and I love the idea of lightning up our load in the springtime.
So, I started the challenge with just pulling all the obvious items that were just hanging around out in the open and got a pretty good amount of stuff to get rid of by using that method. Soon though I’m going to have to tackle the more densely populated junk areas if I’m going to be able to make it through The Challenge.
Oh! And Aaron is participating too but he’s not taking pictures of the things he’s getting rid of so at the end of the 30 days we’ll have a big ol’ garage sale to try to make some cash off this stuff! So for most of the items when it says SELL that’s what I mean, that I’m going to try to sell the items at the yard sale first and then if it doesn’t sell, depending on what it is, I’ll either try to sell it elsewhere or I will donate it.
Today I’m going to give you the Day 3 through Day 12 progress report so with these items the total number of things I’ve been able to get rid of has risen to: 78!
Day 3, Get rid of 3 things:
SELL – Name badges with lanyard
SELL – Empty capsules. From that one time when our doula encapsulated my placenta in our kitchen and then I ate it. Lol. TMI, much?
TRASH – Paint color swatches
Day 4, Get rid of 4 things:
DONATE – Bag of soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. We’ll be donating these to a women’s domestic violence shelter.
TRASH – Empty yogurt container with a lid. I usually save these things for random projects or leftovers but they seem to breed like rabbits. We constantly have 5 or so on hand so, yeah don’t need it.
TRASH – Party hat print out. If/when I ever need to make a party hat I’ll just Google it and print it out at the time I need it.
TRASH – Print out of questions to ask kids as they grow throughout the years. Yeah, too much clutter to keep for 18 years!
Day 5, Get rid of 5 things: (I can’t count apparently;) so there are 6 items in the picture)
DONATE – Salmon fillets. We were generously given these after Henry’s birth in November and I think that if we were going to eat them we would’ve done so by now. They’ve been frozen the whole time so we’re going to see if our friends or neighbors want them.
SELL – Tea boxes x 3. I really like the idea of tea but I don’t like drinking it, turns out. I do know, for sure, that I like the idea of drinking coffee since I do that everyday so I’m gonna go ahead and stick with coffee and let my tea drinking dreams drift away.
TRASH – Large bag of used powdered sugar and large bag of used cinnamon and sugar. From that one time I made biscuit donuts (they were amazing and so easy! I used this donut-making tutorial in case you’re interested in getting in on that donut-y goodness).
Day 6, Get rid of 6 things:
TRASH – Dark chocolate bar with almonds. Again, this is one of those things that I like the idea of more than the reality of. Just give me the milk chocolate! I’m not eating that dark chocolate (I like it in certain situations just not this one;)! I bought that chocolate bar for $2 from a girl doing a fundraiser and I’ve been struggling through trying to eat that dang thing for the last 6 months now.
SELL – Bandana. Never wear it. Don’t need it.
TRASH – Rotten banana. Aaron doesn’t think I should be able to count this towards my items total but I’m doing it anyway. (Actually, I ended up not throwing it away but freezing it to make a banana smoothie.)
SELL – Travel coffee mug. Got this from my old job’s Lost and Found box. It’s served me well but I just don’t need it anymore.
SELL – Water bottle x 2. These breed like rabbits too. Coloradoans are ALL ABOUT their water but we really don’t need as many water bottles as we have so these two are outta here!
Day 7, Get rid of 7 things:
SELL – Boots. These are actually the boots that I bought right after the Spending Fast ended. I dreamed about getting new boots and then I got them and they were disappointing. I actually don’t think I’ve even worn them but once or twice since I’ve owned them. I can tell you that I got way more joy out of doing the Spending Fast and paying off my debt than I EVER got out of those (or any other) boots! Lesson learned!
SELL – Books x 6. These awesome books should be loved by a new family.
Day 8, Get rid of 8 things:
SELL – Clothes x 7. Ill-fitting or don’t feel good in these.
DONATE – Sweater poncho. Have never worn it.
Day 9, Get rid of 9 things:
SELL – Vintage blanket. I LOVE this blanket — the color, the vibe, all of it! — but we have never even used it! Not even once! :(
GIVE TO FRIEND – Large mirror
DONATE – Shampoo, conditioner, gel, makeup remover pads, and travel-size toiletries x 3. Giving these to the women’s shelter too.
Day 10, Get rid of 10 things:
SELL – Baseball hat, fuzzy socks x 2, sneakers, heel boots, belts x 4, scarf. Don’t use these things anymore.
Day 11, Get rid of 11 things:
SELL – Magnetic clips, foam foundation, nail polish, sunglasses, hair pick, nail-polish remover
RETURN – Eyeshadow set. I got this set from Sephora when I was feeling splurge-y and like I wanted to be adventurous with my makeup. I’ve only used it about one time so I’m going to try to return it. They seem to have a good (read: lenient) return policy so might as well give it a try!
TRASH – Bar of used soap, probiotic tablets, receipts
DONATE – Travel-sized shampoo
Day 12, Get rid of 12 things:
TRASH – Disposable shower cap, broken Ban.do pin
SELL – Teasing comb, top knot “donut”, travel-size hand cream, perfume, bag of hair ties, face cream, hair styling creams x 3, sunglasses
My SELL and DONATE bins are already filling up fast and it feels so good!
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! :)
I don’t know about you, but when I had to be at the office right at 8:00 am on the dot, it was always a struggle. And, as much as a I wanted to get to the office at 8 am every day (if not before) it was always something I had to constantly work hard at accomplishing. My persistent struggle with timeliness is not something I’m happy to admit to but I’ve got to keep it real, folks. My Night Owl ways have haunted me for quite awhile; it’s just the way I function.
I knew that if I wanted to be seen in a favorable light, and if I wanted any chance at getting ahead I had to make the effort to get my butt out of bed just the littlest bit early.
So, if you’re looking ahead to a promotion, a review, or if you just generally want to kick things up a notch at your job, there are things you can do right now, yep, today! to increase your advancement potential. Luckily they’re easy to implement and only a couple of them require that you get up earlier!
19 Ways to Get to Work on Time and Improve Your Job Performance…
1. Change Your Evening Routine
You may be set in your ways… going home each night, eating dinner, hanging out with the family, and then mindlessly playing on your phone or watching television until you realize exactly how late it is, again. Examine your habits so you cut out the mindless, time-sucking activity, and get yourself to bed at a reasonable hour each and every night.
2. Prep for Tomorrow, Today
If you tend to run late to the office morning after morning, you may have too much on your plate in the early hours. Work on preparing for the next day each night. Pack your lunch, select your clothing, and make as many preparations for the next day as possible to get out the door faster. Then, come morning you can coast out of the house on auto-pilot.
3. Keep Your Car Tuned
If you have to call in late to work a lot because your vehicle keeps breaking down, it could ruin your reputation for being reliable. Keep your tires, your oil, and your engine in good shape so you don’t have the headache of being late due to car troubles. And, if you’re a bus-rider, like I was, be sure to catch a slightly earlier bus than the one that gets you there just in the nick-of-time because you just never know what you’re going to have to contend with as a bus-rider. Here are some examples of things I’ve experienced on the bus as I’ve tried to get to work: lots of wheelchairs and strollers loading and unloading, detours, brawls, the bus breaking down, the bus getting hit or hitting someone (or something), or you might have a traffic accident to content with.
4. Forget the Convenience Stop
If you tend to stop every morning for a cup of coffee and some donuts (or a breakfast burrito) just like every other commuter, you can cut out all that waiting (and the major annual expense) by investing in a thermal mug to fill up at home. Keep a stash of handy breakfast snacks to bring on the road or wake up 30 minutes early to grab a healthier breakfast in your kitchen.
I love making a double-batch of blueberry baked oatmeal at the beginning of the week and then I just eat that each morning.
5. Get Right to Work
When you get to work in the morning, wave to your co-workers but hit the ground running. If you typically spend two hours socializing, and doing other non-valuable activities in the workplace before actually doing any work, revamp your schedule. Get to work and get on the important tasks of the day. While your co-workers might wonder what’s up with your new-and-improved work ethic, your boss will totally appreciate it!
6. Self-Evaluate Your Performance
Before you attempt to get ahead, evaluate where you have been. You can’t expect to be successful at getting a promotion (or a raise) if you are a mediocre worker. Be honest about what you’ve put into your job so far. You may find some areas that need improvement, and that’s fine! Figure out what kind of training you need to get up to par and take advantage of any mentor programs that you can. You don’t need to go shoutin’ it from the roof-tops if you need to improve (not work-place appropriate and it could back-fire) but you can subtlety improve any areas that you find that you’re deficient in.
7. Consider Your Direction
Many people work at jobs only for the paycheck. Make sure you know where you want to go and more importantly if your current job will keep you moving in the right direction. If your current job is not on your goal list, consider finding something new where you can get beyond more than just a paycheck. There’s nothing worse than painfully waiting for each minute at work to pass.
8. Ramp Up the Positives
The workplace can definitely be stressful but do what you can to get (and maintain) a positive attitude. By doing so it can really help get to where you were you want to be. Be positive at work and find the positives that are worth working with. Try to avoid the office gossip and other negatives that can influence your work life. Avoid harping on the negative aspects of your job because that will just make them seem worse the more you drone on and on about them. If you’re really struggling, try to find one new thing that you are grateful for each day about your job. A couple of examples: “Because of this job I’m not homeless”, “I’m ‘paying my dues'”, “This is only temporary”, “The vending machine has peanut M&M’s”, or “My computer starts up quick”.
9. Analyze the Trends
For the industry you are in, it can be helpful to have the insider’s perspective on trends. Start reading industry publications and online resources to get familiar with what is going on. Most industries are progressively changing and if you are planning to stay on the career path, you owe it to yourself to know what is going on beyond your cubicle walls. Even better? Talk to people in your industry that you respect. Offer to take them out to lunch or coffee and pick their brains. While I typically don’t advocate going out to eat or to coffee often this is one of those instances where the benefit outweighs the cost. The cost of a lunch is a solid (and relatively small) investment in your career.
10. Be Ready for More Responsibility
When you know you are ready but no one is asking you to take on more work, step up to the plate and ask. Speak with your supervisor about becoming involved in special projects or be extra helpful in a group situation. By taking on work, any work – not just the “glamorous” work – you’re showing that you want to get ahead and that you really care.
11. Chat With the Boss
While many people actively avoid their boss like the plague, it may be worth your while to schedule a sit-down with her, and let her know that you’re interested in moving forward. This is a good time to showcase the many contributions you have made throughout your time at the company, but don’t make the mistake of making the conversation all about you and your wonderful talents. Let your boss get to know you a little better but be sure to keep your own ears open to see what you can learn.
12. Proffer Your Participation
When in meetings, be sure to participate. Don’t sit back and pretend to take notes. Get engaged in the conversation and offer up your two cents whenever possible.
13. Find a Mentor
Finding someone in the office or on the outside that does what you want to be doing can be a great way to learn the ropes. A mentor may be a co-worker, your boss, or an acquaintance. Your mentor can offer you direction, advice, and support because they understand what you are going through. They may also be able to offer networking opportunities for your own advancement but again, don’t take advantage. Think, “What can I bring to this situation” and “How can I be of service here?”
14. Become a Mentor Yourself
If there are new employees around your office, step up and become a mentor for them. Your employer will likely appreciate that you’re willing to take employees under your wing. By doing so you’ll confirm your commitment to your job and your chosen career path.
15. Practice Better Communication
Some people are not naturally good at effective communication. This may be something that is holding you back on the job. Ask friends, family, and co-workers that you trust to evaluate your ability to communicate. It may be worth your time to take classes to learn better communication practices and techniques because if you can’t effectively convey what your thoughts then you’re at a severe disadvantage.
16. Work Smarter
Just because you stay in the office until late at night doesn’t mean you’re working harder. The key to success is finding ways to work smarter and learn how to be more productive in each day. You may need to learn new skills to increase productivity and work more effectively every day. Eliminate those time-sucking activities that aren’t advancing you or the workplace forward. Also, be careful about too much socializing. While socializing it great for networking, and while it does make work a lot more fun, it usually takes up way more time than we realize.
17. Know Your Limits
While you have to put forth the effort to get ahead, you need to know your limits. Going full steam ahead can lead to burn out. Be willing to go the extra mile but don’t push yourself over the edge trying to get ahead. Don’t forgo vacation days or the occasional mental health days to get the rest you need to recharge your batteries.
18. Get More Education
In some cases, advancement means more education. Check with your human resource department to see if your employer offers any financial assistance for going back to college. Find out where the seminars and conventions are that may help you earn more experience and gain more insight into your job and industry.
19. Resolve Conflicts Like a Grown Up
Because you spend so much time with coworkers in the office, conflicts are sure to come up. You need to handle them like adults and not resort to childish behavior. If a calm approach doesn’t work, go directly to your supervisor for mediation.
What tips do you have for getting to work on time and being better at your job? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
What are you up to this weekend? Since season 2 of Orange is the New Black just came out of Netflix we’ve been binge-watching the shows afterthe baby goes to sleep and we’ve been loving every minute of it! Have you gotten into the series? I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in Piper’s shoes with the past coming to haunt her like that. After the first season came out I hunted down the real NY Times article that Piper’s fiancé Larry wrote (I felt pretty cool when I found it;), and here it is if you’re interested: Modern Love: A Life to Live, This Side of the Bars.
Right now it’s dark and rainy out, and there is thunder booming in the distance. It’s the perfect weather to catch up on writing and napping… I’ll start with the catching up on blogging part and then, if I’m lucky, I might be able to do the napping part. I’ve also been doing The Minimalist Challenge everyday and I am shocked at how much junk I’ve been accumulating that I haven’t been using. My SELL and DONATE bins are filling up so fast! I’m going to have to start putting things in trash bags since I’m running out of room in the bins. It feels so good to clear stuff out! Have you been participating? How has it been going for you?
Let’s go ahead and get right into the Thrifty Weekender…
Have you ever been a part of a group interview? I’ve never heard about such a thing until I read that post. (At the birthing center we were part of a few group appointments, the idea of those felt a little strange at first, but it turns out they really weren’t weird at all… mainly since nothing personal was shared with the group.)
Absolutely love this idea that fosters fresh, local produce; more health, less waste, and stronger communities. That’s a big order but YardHarvest is making it happen.
A cute, free way to track your kiddo’s development and interests throughout the years. (I appreciate the idea but I’m not totally convinced that I would want to have 18 sheets of loose paper hanging around for that long ready to clutter up my house and get lost. What about you, into it or not?)
This is a post from a few years ago but they pretty much nailed it calling out these doomed industries. Do you agree?
SELL – Old Dell Laptop. It’s been sitting in my closest for far too long and everytime I see it I think, “I need to do something with that thing.” Maybe I can sell it to a family that wants something for their kid to learn to type on? It feels good to finally be taking some action to get that thing out of my life. Just by deciding to take some action I’m starting to feel lighter.
Day 2, Get rid of 2 things:
SELL – These 2 rugs. They are cute and work fine with one of those grippy, rubber things under them but they don’t feel like the safest things to be on your floors when you’re carrying around a baby and they gather up under your feet. It’s time to let these bad boys spread some wings and fly far, far away from here! Buh-bye.
Do you think you’re going to do the challenge too? What would you get rid of first?
Also! On Twitter, @sathlondonshona, told me that there is a hashtag #minsgame where you can follow along with everyone else who is doing the challenge. So fun!
It seems like everywhere I look lately different people are talking about “clearing out”, “de-cluttering”, and “living with less”. Maybe everyone is in the Spring Cleaning state of mind or, it could have to do with people seeing how much mental space is cleared when crap isn’t in the way…?
I mean, have you ever thought about how high-maintenance crap is? All those material objects need to be bought in the first place, then arranged, cleaned, maintained, and if you’re anything like me, there’s a layer of guilt thrown in there too for buying the object in the first place, and then there are all the considerations of so now, “Should I return it?”, and the mental chatter and conflict goes on and on for pretty much, forever.
When I did the Spending Fast I learned how much mental space material objects take up. I was shocked that all that stuff I had been buying pre-fast wasn’t just jacking up on my wallet but also my mind. Who knew, right? During the Spending Fast I found that my mind was so much clearer and I found that I had so much more time! I knew my over-spending habit was costing me a lot of money but I never realized how much time it was taking up too.
Very, very slowly, material objects have started to accumulate in my house again and to be honest, it’s making me nervous. I don’t want to fall back into my old spending habits. I don’t want that old way of life back. Plus, it was hard enough to get out of debt in the first place so, I definitely don’t want to have to do it again!
There’s something I really love about moving — not the actual packing and unpacking (that sucks) — but the clearing out and starting fresh that is a result of moving. During a move it’s easy for me to be cutthroat with my items and look at them in an objective way — something that I can’t seem to do as easily on the spot when I’m going through life day-to-day. Usually, I find that I put lots of stuff in the Junk Drawer or in the Craft Room. The “Craft Room” has slowly started to become the room version of the Junk Drawer. It’s really the catch-all, “I’ll deal with that later room.” Stuff accumulates and never gets tossed because, “I just might need it” and “You just never know! That could come in handy!” I’m so over thinking like that.
I want my mind to be clear again. I want more of my time back. I want less stuff to take care of. I want less. A lot less.
So since we’re not planning on moving anytime soon this is where The Minimalist Challenge comes in. I found out about the challenge on The Minimalists website where they discuss what they call The Minimalist Game. (They also have a new book out called Everything That Remains. I haven’t read it yet but I would love to, and seriously, what a great title! I’m bummed that I missed them when they came through town to promote their book back in April. Hoping they come through again…)
Basically, you start on Day 1 getting rid of 1 item. Then, on Day 2, you get rid of 2 items. You keep going like that, ideally to 30 days and see how many items you can get rid of. When I brought up the idea of doing The Minimalist Challenge to Aaron, he was ALL ABOUT IT which did not surprise me one bit considering that he usually says we should get rid of stuff and I know he thinks I would be a Hoarder if I could be (I wouldn’t).
I calculated it and if we each do the challenge this month we’d each be getting rid of 465 items throughout the 30 day period. For a grand total of 930 items getting freed from our lives!
Holy crap, that’s a lot of crap!
This is how The Minimalist Challenge is gonna go down:
– I’ve got 2 storage size containers. One is labeled with DONATE and the other with SELL. I’ll have another category of TRASH, and all of that stuff will just go into the trashcan right away, obviously;). Right now I’m thinking that I’ll wait until the end of the month to sell and donate stuff so I can consolidate my efforts. Maybe I’ll have a yard sale and whatever doesn’t sell I’ll bring right to the thrift store (and get myself a receipt for tax time;).
– If I have a hard time deciding if I should get rid of an item or not I’m going to evaluate every item with these questions: “When was the last time I used this?” (if I haven’t used something within the last year I probably won’t use it the upcoming year), and I’m going to ask, “Does this item add value to my life or take away value (time) from my life?”
– I’ll take pictures of the stuff I’m getting rid of each day and I’ll post an update on the blog once a week-ish to keep you posted on how things are going. (I will, for sure, be documenting my progress on the blog but I don’t know if Aaron will be documenting his progress here or not. I hope so! But can’t say for sure quite yet.)
– My plan of attack with be the high-junk concentration areas like: our basement storage area, the “Craft Room”, my closet, office, and the junk drawer. I started getting rid of things yesterday since it was the 1st but you don’t have to begin on the 1st of the month (first update coming tomorrow)! Just start with whatever day you want and go for 30 days.
I would love for you to join me! Are you in!? Let’s get rid of some shit together! Say yes! Say yes!
Father’s Day is coming up quick (June 15th to be exact) so I’m starting to think of what to get Aaron for his very first Father’s Day. These goodies from Uncommon Goods are some of my top picks. The great news is all of these gifts are all under 50 bucks so they are perfect for those of us who are money-conscious! ;)
Today Aaron and I are photographing our first wedding of the season so my sister came into town to watch the baby while we work. We’ve been having fun enjoying the cooler weather at the park and roaming around town. Oh, I love my sisters and brother so much! It’s so cool to have parallel lives with people and to share a history with them.
Let’s jump right in because it’s Thrifty Weekender time!
I’ve been known to eat my fair share of moldy bread and tortillas… I just pull off the green parts. Some people think this is super disgusting, and not healthy but I just can’t see not eating stuff just because it’s a little past it’s peak. This is a super helpful video to maximize those ever-expensive groceries.
Just like you can acquire physical fitness you can acquire emotional fitness too. Great info for getting the max out of everyday.
Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) asks the question, “Are you an Over-Buyer or an Under Buyer?” Take the quiz to find out which one you are. Or… maybe you’re neither? I used to be a MAJOR Over-Buyer, then I was an Under-Buyer and now I’m a Jussssst-Right Buyer. I had a Goldilocks experience and now I’ve finally found the perfect sweet spot.
You know how when taxes are automatically pulled from your check it doesn’t really seem like you’re missing out on that money since you never saw it in the first place? Yeah, that’s kind of cool in a weird way because while paying taxes stinks because you can’t spend your money the way you want it IS nice that you don’t have to write out a check every two weeks to pay what you owe. This app, SavedPlus, works in a very similar way. Had I known about this app back when I wrote the post 16 Apps that Will Help Make Your Life More Efficient and Help You Save Money I definitely would’ve included this one in the list.
In a nutshell, this is how SavedPlus works:
Get the app on your phone (available on iOS, Android, or through the internet if you don’t have one of those devices).
Fill out all the info and set up your bank account.
Set your goal. Want to pay off your debt? (YES!), want to get money into an emergency account?, want to remodel your kitchen?, all those options are available (plus a ton more). You can even upload a picture of your goal for added motivation which I think is a cool touch.
Then, decide how much you would like to save (it defaults to 5% but I would do at least 10%, if you can).
When you make purchases your bank and the app basically have a chat and 10% (or whatever percentage you chose) gets automatically transferred from your checking account to your savings account. The app allows save money as you spend by working like a “self-tip”. The app transfers a percentage of every purchase to a destination account (goal) of your choice.
Luckily, the app developers are smart and built in an overdraft protector so if your balance falls below a certain amount a transfer won’t be initiated if the balance from the funding account (typically your checking account) is not sufficient.
In their latest release (currently available only on iPhone) you can now open up an FDIC insured IRA account with one click and start saving to it automatically.
Anything that helps to make saving easy and painless is a win in my book!
This is a sponsored post but as always, my opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the companies that help to make this site possible! xo!
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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