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
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?
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’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!
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!
The other night I was at a local Financial Blogger meet-up and got to talking with Michelle Jackson of The Shop My Closest Project. Michelle is one of those people who just draws you in with her good energy and enthusiasm! Turns out, the night I saw her just so happened to be the very last day of her year-long “Fashion Clothing Fast”. Kind of amazing, right? So, naturally, I had a humongous list of questions for her! Rather than talking her ear off all night with questions we set up an interview and she answered all my questions.
Interview with Michelle Jackson on Her Year-Long Clothing Fast…
And Then We Saved: What did you do and why did you decide to do it?
Michelle Jackson: I decided to do a year-long No Shopping Challenge. I specifically focused on my fashion spending because I felt like it was a little out of control. I also liked the idea of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. I absolutely love fashion so if I could give that up for a year, then I could handle anything!
ATWS: How did you choose the year-long timeframe?
MJ: I’m not sure why I decided on a year. It just felt like the right amount of time for this particular challenge.
ATWS: Did you prepare for your Clothing Fast? If so, how?
MJ: The only thing that I did to prepare was purchase a ton of underwear, and socks! I actually bought so many of both that I still have new items that I’m pulling out from last year.
ATWS: What did you think your Clothing Fast was going to be like and did it go the way you thought it would? Was it better or worse/harder or easier than you anticipated?
MJ: I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting. I thought I would experience extreme amounts of irritation throughout the year. I also thought that I would experience deep feelings of longing for certain items. Instead after the first couple of months I just got into “the zone.” I just wanted to succeed at this challenge because I needed to experience a “win” when I hadn’t experienced one in a long time.
ATWS: How much did you save by going on a Clothing Fast?
MJ: It’s hard to say exactly but I’m pretty sure that I saved between $3,300-$4,000.
ATWS: Did you ever “slip up”?
MJ: I’m quite proud to say that I never slipped up! However, I did have a moment where I needed something new. Luckily, I had a friend who was giving away bags of clothes so I ended up getting some nice new sweaters during winter. I think if I hadn’t received those sweaters, I would have definitely purchased something.
ATWS: Did anything surprise you about not spending money on clothes?
MJ: I was surprised at the amount of time that was freed up by not shopping. I also was surprised at how annoyed I got by the size of my wardrobe. I found that I had too much stuff. So I gave away about ½ my wardrobe. I also found that the clothes I had been purchasing for years didn’t make me feel good about myself. They were my “I’m feeling stuck in life and am gaining weight” clothes.
Prior to the challenge I had really begun working on my life and exploring how my choices were making me feel about myself. By the end of the fast I hated most of my clothes and couldn’t wait to purchase clothes that reflected how good I was feeling about life in general. I wanted: color, fashionable items, classic items, and items that were ethically made.
ATWS: Was it hard to come up with outfits?
MJ: Not really. The only difficulty was dealing with how long winter lasted. So, I ended up cycling through my winter gear far longer than I would have liked.
ATWS: Was there anything that you were dreaming about buying throughout the year? If so, how did you deal with that desire to buy?
MJ: I really wanted to buy a cream-colored, cable-knit sweater. I wanted one so badly. I buy myself one every year and last year was the one year I didn’t. I dealt with it by sucking it up and dealing with it. What else could I do?
ATWS: So your Clothing Fast recently ended. What was the first thing you bought and how did it feel? Any guilt? (I know I experienced some after my Spending Fast.)
MJ: I had a list of items that I knew that I wanted. I ended up going to the Buffalo Exchange and purchasing some fantastic used clothes (about 20 pieces) some of my favorite items included: a lace tunic (my favorite), a grey cocktail dress from Goodwill, and FRYE boots (those were on sale). I didn’t feel guilty about shopping, but I did feel a little weird and nervous. I was afraid I’d spend too much and now I have a very strict process and budget for fashion shopping so it really has become a process of spending consciously.
ATWS: What has your Clothing Fast taught you? How will the experience change the way you shop and think about money going forward?
My Clothing Fast taught me that every single dollar you spend is important. I really didn’t think I was spending a lot until I did the Fast. I am also very committed to spending ethically, buying used, and supporting goods manufactured in the U.S.A.
ATWS: Would you recommend a Clothing Fast for others?
MJ: Yes. But, maybe not for a year ☺
ATWS: Alright, So what are your top 3 tips for having success with a Clothing Fast?
1. Have a clear “Why”. If you’re just doing it to do it, you probably won’t succeed.
2. Be content with what you have. If you’re not content, then you will crave items to fill whatever void that needs filling in your life.
3. Buy lots of underwear before you start. Seriously.
ATWS: Your story is really inspiring! What’s next for you?
MJ: I keep toying with running a half marathon. But, the thought of running one exhausts me mentally. We’ll see. I’m crossing things off my list and that has been on it for a while.
Thank you Michelle!
What do you think? Do you need a Clothing Fast? What would be the hardest part of doing a Clothing Fast for you?
This is a fun post by guest writer, Melanie! xo. Anna
I don’t own a leather duster, a wand or a top hat. I won’t be performing in Vegas or even Reno any time soon. You definitely won’t see me hanging out in a Plexiglas case, encased in ice or buried alive, but I can teach you a few mind tricks to help you save money. And really that’s better than any magic trick.
13 Money Saving Mind Tricks..
1. Automatically Draft Money Into Savings
This is by far the best mind trick I have for saving money. Set up an automatic draft to pull money from your checking account into your savings account every month. You get extra points if you set up the draft to pull to a savings account with another bank or an account is more difficult to access. You won’t even miss the money. Maaaaaaagic.
2. Never Spend Change
If you operate on cash, always break a bill instead of fishing into your change purse. Empty your change each night and gradually you’ll have a small savings. This trick is particularly useful for smaller, nonessential savings like gas money for that road trip you’ve been planning. If you don’t operate on cash, you can still replicate this process. Some banks will round your purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit that money into a savings account. If your bank doesn’t offer that service, you can easily add up the change on your purchases and move that change to a separate account. Doing the math yourself is a little a little less magical, but it works.
3. Windfalls and Unexpected Money
Those taxes returns you just got back, yeah, you worked hard for that money, but that’s no reason to run wildly to the nearest mall and blow it on a bunch of nothing. Windfalls, tax returns and unexpected money can make a great start to a rainy day savings account.
4. Freeze Your Credit Cards
Are you an impulse spender? We’ve all been there. We’re tired, hungry or stressed so we make an impulse buy. An effective and fun trick to play on yourself is to freeze your credit cards– literally. Place them in a bowl of water and put them in the freezer. Next time you want to make an impulse buy, you’ll have to wait for the water to melt along with the impulse!
5. Tape a Picture of What You Want Your Credit Card
I’ve been saving for a trip to Key West this summer. I can’t tell you what a guilt trip it is to see a picture of your long-term goal when I’m about to make an impulse buy. By wrapping my credit card and debit card in a picture of my end savings goal, I’m constantly reminding myself that afternoon trip to the vending machine won’t get me closer to my saving goal.
6. Tax Yourself
Before you make any purchase that is a “want” not a “need” implement a self-tax. Take the same amount that you’ll spend on your wanted item and transfer it to your savings account. I wouldn’t advise this as a long-term savings plan, but it the tax may defer you from making large, unnecessary purchases.
7. Pin it or Put it on Your ‘To Buy Later’ List
Sometimes just pinning that too cute bathing suit or writing down the item you want on a “Buy It Later” list is enough of shopping rush. You’ll delay the purchase and you may even forget about it entirely. That’s magical, dude.
This tip is kind of an anti-mind trick. Big box stores can trick you into spending money. You think, “Hey, I’ll just run in for bananas”, and end up with a cart full of god knows what. By shopping at a store that only sells the category of the thing that you need you’ll avoid the temptation of that new bag and the scarf… and hat… and shoes. Don’t let superstores hypnotize you!
Just as those pesky superstores can trick you into spending money when you are inside the store, retailers can do the same outside of the store. To avoid those ever-so-tempting online rebates, unsubscribe to retailer emails through Unroll Me. You can also avoid receiving snail mail offers through the service, Catalog Choice. These services take away the temptation before it even happens! It’s also a great tip to keep down clutter. Magic at it’s finest, folks.
Did you just pay off a loan? Awesome! You should be so proud of yourself. But don’t get ahead of yourself either. When people get a raise or suddenly have more money they inflate their lifestyle to match. So instead of making those student loan repayments, consider putting the same amount of money into a retirement fund. It’s making payments to your future, yo!
13. Visualize Yourself as a Wealthy Person
Athletes and top performers often cite the powers of visualization. Don’t discount the powers of visualization and affirmations just because you feel a bit silly doing it. Try visualizing yourself as a wealthy person. What does it look like? Where do you live? How do you look? What do you eat? Then work your way up to affirmations. Say your affirmations in the mirror each day. It seems so ridiculous, but after a while you’ll begin to believe. Mind magic!
What other kinds of mind tricks do you use to save money? Let me know in the comments!
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.
I meant to write this post awhile back, like back when it happened, but then the baby arrived and then the no sleep thing set in and then the lack of being good at balancing it all came into play. And then, wouldn’t you know it, a chunk of time had passed and this post was still on my list of things to do that just didn’t get done… Until now;)
Back at the end of October, before the baby arrived, I was able to leave my job at the state that I had for 8 years. It was a big decision for us and it was bittersweet too. I worked for a Judge that I had/have a lot of respect for and I really admire him.
When I became pregnant I started researching my options about what to do when the baby arrived. Normally, I would’ve just taken my three-month maternity leave and been back to work full-time probably putting the baby in daycare. But, since I made the switch to a part-time employee for the last year and a half at my position I wasn’t protected by the state’s Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that full-time employees benefit from. For those of you who aren’t familiar with FMLA it essentially protects your job for you so that you can go have a baby (or deal with another family issue), have time off after the birth, and still have your job when you return. FMLA protects your job. Of course, there are other details about how it works but that’s a quick, truncated version of it.
Since I wouldn’t have the option of taking maternity leave we had to decide if I would take my vacation days plus medical leave which would only add up to about 3 to 4 weeks. If 3 to 4 weeks wasn’t enough time we’d have to come up with another plan. I had a feeling that 3-4 weeks wouldn’t be enough time and I’m glad I stuck to that hunch because I didn’t start feeling like myself again until closer to 10 weeks postpartum.
We decided that even though it would be a stretch financially and that we would be stepping out of our financial safe zone that I would quit my job with the state and that we would re-assess the situation when the baby got to be closer to 3 months. I figured I could always apply for a different position with the state, if needed, and go back full-time.
Since we were going down to an official “one-income” family it meant that we had to re-evaluate all of our expenses and all of our income streams. So that’s what we did.
Time to Evaluate
We do have our wedding photography business and that has become even more important to our family as a means of survival and income. I also do freelance writing for Babble and they give bonuses if you have a certain number of visitors and that really helps out (that’s why I do those compilation posts of my favorite Babble posts from the month. I need your help in getting the bonuses so we can eat! You know, no biggie;) I also am a Staff Writer for Wise Bread but I’ve had a little bit of a dry spell over there. This blog does generate a small amount of money through Google Ads and sometimes I will do sponsored posts (I try to only work with brands and products that are a good fit with the site’s message). I’m trying to make it all work; I’m trying to find that elusive “right” mix of everything. Sometimes it all comes together better than other times and I always try to take what works and leave the rest. Because really, what other option is there?
Since I evaluated all of the income streams I also had to look at what money was going out. On the chopping block were the ol’ cell phone data plan and gym membership. I did some research and found a pre-pay plan that was somehow $30 less a month then what I was currently paying AND it offered more. What the –?! So I called up my phone company (Verizon) and politely told them that I wanted to have the plan that was $30 less a month. I mean, duh. They told me that I had one month left on my contract so I was all set to call back in a month and just get the lower plan. Then, miraculously, they were able to access a “loyalty plan” and give me the lower price if I was just willing to extend my contract. I am happy with the coverage and service and know that I would most likely be sticking with that company anyway so I decided to go for it. Just like that, $30 saved!
(Oh, and this doesn’t really go with the story but I have to tell you, I traded in my old iPhone4s and they gave me $299 credit for it. I was then able to get the new iPhone 5s for free. Might be something worth looking into if you are looking to upgrade. I wouldn’t have upgraded if it was going to cost me anything but since it was free I didn’t pass it up!).
Next, I called my gym. I asked to talk with the membership coordinator since they would be the one with the string-pulling power and I explained how I wouldn’t be able to go to the gym consistently for a while. I asked if they could work with me on the monthly membership price. They said they could give me $20 off per month.
For 10 minutes worth of phone calls I was able to cut out $50 a month in expenses! That adds up too. Over a year, that will be $600 saved for a couple of minutes of work.
Having this experience reminds me how important it is to regularly evaluate what income is coming in and what expenses are going out. It’s so easy to get in a routine of just paying for what you’re paying when really, you might be leaving money on the table. Let’s not leave money on the table!;)
Also, this experience makes me even more grateful that I took action with deciding to do the Spending Fast, suffered through it, and got out of debt. If I still had that $23,605.10 in debt (I don’t even want to think about how much more it would’ve been at this point with interest and accruing even more debt) I wouldn’t have the freedom to even consider staying home with the baby and piecing together the different freelance incomes. I am so grateful that I have that choice today.
When was the last time you evaluated your expenses? Is it time for another look? What would your life look like if you didn’t have debt and would you make different choices if you were debt-free?
Happiness cannot be owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is a spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.
That might sound like a tall order but if we can stop and be grateful for what we have then we’ll stop trying to hunt down material items so be can have more and be better. It’s okay to just be. You’re right where you’re supposed to be at this very moment. Even if you’re in a shitty place mentally, emotionally, or financially take a second to think of 3 things that are going okay with your life. Now, do that for the next 2 weeks and you’ll dramatically improve your quality of life, and it’s totally free.
Living frugally and saving money when you can are skills that should be applauded, but when you cross the line from frugal to “cheapskate” or even worse to “miser” – it’s probably time to reconsider your financial strategies. Now, don’t get me wrong, being a Cheapskate with a capital “C” can be a good thing but you know what they say about too much of a good thing…
7 Signs That You’re Turning Frugal into a Dirty Word (and Becoming a Miser)…
1. You Look For Ways to Skip Out on the Tip or Part of the Bill
If every time you go out to eat you look for poor quality meals or service in order to find ways to get a discount or justify the lack of a tip – you’re not being frugal, you’re just being a miser. You don’t have to accept poor service, but if you make it a habit to find something wrong with your meal hoping to get a discount, or skimp on the tip because the waiter was a little slow to bring your refill – you’re going too far. (You might like this post: A Dilemma – Out with a Group and They Want to Split the Bill Equally)
2. You Never “Buy a Round” or Give to Others
If you go out with friends and enjoy it when they buy a round for everyone but you never do the same, you’re a miser. Not everyone can afford to buy a round for a group of people, but if you accept a free drink or meal from a friend repeatedly and never repay the favor by at least buying that person a drink or meal – not only are you a miser, but you’re not a very good friend! Remember life is about give and take, you can’t always take. You might be surprised how good it feels to be the “giver” once in a while.
3. You Skip Required Maintenance for Your Car or Home
Sure, you might save a few bucks by skipping the oil changes or not getting new brakes when they start squeaking, but the lack of maintenance is going to cost you a whole lot more in the long run. Not only that, but skipping home and car maintenance can result in safety issues and puts you and everyone around you at risk for injuries or health problems.
4. You Only Ever Think About Money
It’s clearly important to think about your financial situation and to be proactive with saving for retirement – but if you can’t seem to think about anything other than money, you’re probably starting to go off cheapskate charts. You shouldn’t cause yourself anxiety over buying a pack of gum at the gas station once in a while, especially if you have been responsible with your money and aren’t carrying loads of debt.
5. You Cause a Scene in the Checkout Line Just About Every Time You Buy Something
Does something take over you when it’s time to pay for your purchases that causes you to bully the cashier over coupons or discounts you think you are entitled to? You should be persistent if you have a coupon that should be accepted at the store, but if it causes you to become disrespectful and downright rude to try and get your savings – you’re a miser.
6. You Control Your Family or Partner By Withholding Money
If you are in charge of the family finances and routinely deny your family members access to money, you are a cheapskate with some serious control issues. If you’ve ever said “No, you can’t have money” for something your spouse wanted because your spouse upset you earlier with a non-financial issue – you may even be crossing the line to emotional abuse.
7. You Criticize Other People for How They Spend Money
It’s not really your business how other people use their money, but if you find yourself criticizing people for spending too much money or telling them they waste their money – you’re a miser. Criticize people long enough and you’ll stop getting invitations to spend time with the people you criticize!
‘Don’t give up!’ It’s a mantra you may have heard throughout your childhood and even now that you are an adult. I know I even say here a lot. I find myself thinking, “What if someone just needs that little push to keep going?!” So I say it and write it often.
Whenever you set goals or aspire to do something for yourself, you may run at it full steam ahead but as time passes you may begin to fizzle out in your enthusiasm.
Since we’re right on the cusp of the New Year let’s consider the phenomenon of New Year’s resolutions. There are tons of funny puns about keeping with these resolutions because of the common knowledge that many resolutions go out the window in just a few months’ time. Gym memberships surge in January but die off in April when people find it hard to stay committed to life changes due to everything else going on in their lives.
To stay on course for goal achievement you first need to set reasonable goals. You need to start simple and build on different steps over time in order to achieve the ultimate goal. For instance, you don’t just say you are going to be rich in a year because it’s not a reasonable goal. You first plan to save $100 a month for six months and take the necessary steps to ensure that hundred dollars is available each month. When that goal is achieved, increase the amount to save more money within the year until you are more financially secure and can aim for higher savings goals.
Realize time is necessary to change your habits. It is believed that it takes 30 days of doing something regularly for it to become habit. You have to ease in to life changes to some extent and it will be the hardest in the beginning. Realize this upfront and you will go into the change with the right expectation. As an example, when you begin to exercise regularly, it’s really hard starting out because of sore muscles and fatigue. But the more you improve your physical fitness over time, the more energy you have and the stronger you feel.
The same concepts ring true with money. It can be really hard to stop spending money, to stop heading out to the mall for fun, to stop Googling online sales deals. But after you incorporate better financial management plans and activities into your life, it will get easier! The more positive results you see will make the changes easier to cope with and stick to for long into the future.
For me, the secret was learning how to say “No” to myself. I love to spend money and if I can step out of the cycle of overspending and guilt to finally get myself out of all my heavy debt then you can too!
What’s your plan for staying motivated with your goals for the next year?
Fears are a part of daily life. We have big fears and little fears of average and extraordinary things. While fear is a natural part of human existence, it can be the one blocker that stops you from success and achieving great things.
Here are 25 ways to conquer the fears that scare the crap out of you so you can keep moving onward and upward…
“Never trade what you want most for what you want in the moment.”
It’s so easy to go for the quick option… to pick up coffee on the way to work (or ahem, a breakfast burrito) instead of making coffee at home, or to go buy something new at the mall when there’s an event coming up instead of wearing something you already own.
I’ve found that changing your life and your habits is all about delaying what you want right this second (new clothes, lunch out, etc.) for what you want long-term (an end to the cycle of guilt, no more freaking debt). I know, way easier said then done but it really is so worth it.
You deserve to be debt-free, and you deserve to have the life you’ve been dreaming about. xo, Anna
2013 wasn’t a year I expected it to be. In late 2012, I graduated with my Master’s, started my doctorate, and began a new job—my dream job. The new job lasted for only six weeks before I was laid off. Then I began several miserable months of unemployment. During this time, besides wallowing and fervently searching for a job, I had to go overseas for family reasons. Luckily, I had some savings for the unexpected trip, and there I was—traveling to the other side of the world with just a small piece of luggage and handbag. While overseas, not only did I have my mind off of disheartening unemployment, but I also turned to minimalism.
Disorganization is a normal part of most everyone’s life. With our crazy schedules and only 24 hours in a day, many people say they never have the time to get their act together. While it is a common enough though process among the masses, the reality is people that claim they don’t have the time are actually guilty of not making the time.
We may not all live a life of a chronic hoarder but there are certainly parts of our lives that could use some serious organization. The trouble with making strides towards putting things in their proper place is many people just have no idea where to start. The thought of beginning something new is so overwhelming to many, they just do nothing.
I heard this really powerful saying the other day. So powerful that I felt compelled to go up to the lady and talk to her after she said it. She wrote it down for me so I wouldn’t forget it. She wrote it on a napkin; that napkin in the picture :)
“What I had, I spent. What I saved, I lost. What I gave, I have.”
I think that saying meant so much to me when I heard it because it showed me that while we talk so much the technical aspects of saving money and getting out of debt on this site that really what has become the most important piece of keeping myself out of debt, and to avoid having those bad money habits creep back into my life is to share the real and personal stuff about how I got out of debt.
What I learned throughout the years of the Spending Fast and Spending Diet is not mine to keep to myself, to hoard, to be selfish with. Sharing and giving what I know is what it’s all about. It’s also why I love it when you all tell me and the other readers what you know about saving money and getting out of debt in the comments and in the Community section. I know I don’t know it all, and I always, always learn so much from you all. Feeling sappy today for some reason… xo, anna
Setting out to achieve goals is no doubt, noble. If you want to get out of debt, eat out of your fridge every day, work out, or just be nicer to others you absolutely can but goals will not complete themselves without work on your end. In order to be successful at reaching your goals, you must put forth the effort and keep finding ways to remain motivated in your quest.
Here are 27 ways to help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself…
The term ‘Cheapskate’ is not always thought of in a good light. However, in light of the economy and the need to consider your future financial situation, becoming a cheapskate is not an unreasonable goal to set. Whether you call yourself cheap, thrifty, frugal, budget-conscious, money-wise, or financially smart it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you are pro-actively saving cash you will need down the road.
A few months ago I went to New York City to shoot a couple of videos for PNC Bank’s new website. It’s pretty cool how the videos turned out and to see the paper illustrations mixed in with each instructor’s talk. My fellow instructors were Luke Landes of Consumerism Commentary, David Ning of Money Ning, and Galia Gichon of Down to Earth Finance.
I was a couple of months pregnant when the videos were shot but I wasn’t telling anyone at that point. I squeezed my bloated, nauseous body into a pair tights that the production team picked out for me and I tried to keep it all together. I had big plans to wander around New York City and go to Donut Plant and to see Stefan Sagmeister’s The Happy Show Exhibit (remember that time he kissed me? that was fun) but do you wanna know what I did instead? I stayed in the hotel room to sleep, be near a toilet (for any renegade barfing that might occur), and to watch a marathon of whatever was on Bravo. Since we don’t get that fancy channel it sounded like a perfectly sane way to spend my time in New York. And it was, totally was.
My 2nd video is called Setting Goals to Save More and will be released before the new year. I’ll let you know when they post that video. All the videos are solid and have a ton of useful info. I hope you get a chance to check them all out. xo, Anna
This is a biggie for you. I always get asked what my favorite personal finance blogs and sites are and while I want to include every single one that exists I’ve narrowed it down to my 58 favorites (in no particular order).
58 of My Favorite Personal Finance Blogs and Sites…
The thing about personal finance is it’s often a really boring and dry topic to read about. At Budgets Are Sexy, Jay infuses every article with tons of personality, which makes it much more entertaining. Anything that can be done to make personal finance more interesting gets a thumbs up from me!
I like how the writer shares details from his own life while sharing personal finance tips based on current events. (Side note: Luke Landes started this site 10 year ago! It’s a granddaddy personal finance blog.)
Another personal finance blog with multiple contributors, PT Money provides a good variety of finance and life tips that just about everyone can relate to. (Side note: Philip Taylor runs the site and he also runs FinCon which is a personal finance conference held in the fall every year. If you’re a personal finance site junkie it’s THE place to be. Last year FinCon was held in Denver which was super handy and I’m bummed I’ll be missing it this year because it’ll be too close to my due date so I won’t be able to fly. Luckily, it’s an annual conference!)
The time-honored financial advice of spending less money than you earn and learning to pay yourself first is the theme on J.D. Roth’s Get Rich Slowly blog. You can’t help but be inspired if you read about J.D’s journey from $35,000 in debt to financial independence.
The majority of personal finance blogs talk about how to live frugally and how to cut expenses. Afford Anything talks about how to afford the things you want instead of learning to live without them, which puts everything into perspective.
If you’re looking for meaty, substantial articles with personal finance advice (and not so much about the writer’s personal journey), take a look at MoneyNing. (Side note: David Ning who runs the site is super nice)
Love how Jaime Tardy interviews actual millionaires for her blog each week, and shares what makes them successful. Instead of just reading basic financial articles, you can gain information from real people who have actually been through the situations they’re talking about.
Ben has been interested in personal finance from the time he was 12 years old. By the time he was in high school, he was already investing money. His financial knowledge has come in handy for his family, and now he shares what he’s learned on his blog.
This guy (also a fellow Coloradan) retired at the age of 30, with his wife, Mrs. Money Mustache, so they could start living their lives and start a family. They didn’t win the lottery or receive a big inheritance, they did it by learning how to become financially independent with the income they had. This is a really inspiring blog if you hope to retire at a young age, and if you like mustaches.
I have been on a spending diet for the past 20 years. It started abruptly when I was laid off from work the day after I found out I was pregnant. There’s nothing like seeing your family’s income cut in half to motivate you to tighten up your budget. The spending diet became permanent eight months later when my husband and I decided I should stay home with our new daughter.
Now, that same daughter is a sophomore in college and her sister will be a freshman in August. My husband and I aren’t wealthy and we have some work to do for retirement, but our daughters will graduate with little to no debt because we were able to scale back and save for their education.
A lot of you are at the beginning of your journey to financial health. It may feel like it will be impossible to maintain a 20-year spending diet. Not only is it possible, somewhere along the way you reboot your wants and needs. At some point in the journey the diet becomes the norm. The more you save, the more motivated you become to find new ways to save.
I may sound positive and cheerful about it now, but trust me there were times when I felt like I was missing out. It’s hard to watch friends enjoying the outward expressions of financial success while you’re being practical and saving for multiple college educations.
About 15 years ago our closest friends both bought large, expensive homes. They were getting promotions, spending tens of thousands on furniture and decorative improvements. My husband was also getting promotions, but we chose to sit tight in our starter home and continue to save.
Six years ago we finally made the move. It was pretty bad timing, but because of the size of our down payment our mortgage is not under water. Our home is valued at more than we paid for it and we’ve ridden out the financial downturn pretty well. If we had allowed our egos to lead us into a home purchase before we were ready I honestly do not believe we would have fared as well.
Nothing we do is extraordinary. We exercise patience and we use as much common sense as we can scrape together when making financial decisions. We find joy in simple things and we relish experiences rather than things.
Here are five tips we used that helped us curb the urge to spend…
Saving money is something all of us can since there are so many ways you can save regardless of your income or your personal finance management skills. It’s really as easy as becoming conscious and making a few simple changes!
Here are 33 ways to easily save a buck right this minute…
1. Look in your pockets
Loose change in your pockets should be kept in a piggy bank and allowed to accumulate then deposited into your savings account.
2.Adjust your home thermostat
When you are leaving your home for the day, make sure the thermostat is set properly to prevent the heat or air conditioning from coming on unnecessarily.
3. Clip some coupons
Review the coupons pages in the newspaper or magazines to save money on the items you use most often. Keep the coupons in your wallet so you have them at checkout time and can easily discard them after they’ve expired. (Related: How to Coupon Like a Pro)
4.Sign up for loyalty rewards
Sign up for the loyalty rewards cards at the supermarket and other stores you favor. They often have exclusive deals not afforded to the general public that will save you money.
5. Unplug unused electronics
Sure it’s convenient to keep your phone charger and other electronics plugged in when they are not in use but you can save quite a few dollars in a year by unplugging anything not being used.
My husband, Trevor, has a green thumb, remnant of a country-boy upbringing, I imagine. When we were house hunting a few years ago, his number one priority was a backyard for a beautiful garden. And, mind you, this was before gardening was a cool hipster thing to do. So I rolled my eyes and shrugged my shoulders through the entire first planting season after we moved into our house. He poured hours into that garden, moving raised beds to different places in the yard, carefully mapping and marking what should go where at what time.
How to Plant a Garden and Save Some Dough in the Process…
Money mistakes are pretty common even among those of us that practice good personal financial management methods. In some cases, the guilt from a money mistake can linger and end up causing even more mistakes. A cycle of bad money decision and mistakes can quickly cause problems in your finances so it is best to recognize the mistakes you’ve made and make a commitment to moving on and doing better in the future.
I made a bulk of these money mistakes before I decided to change my relationship with money and sometimes the guilt from those past decisions haunts me still. By deciding to be pro-active about my money and money-related decisions I’ve been able to change negative thoughts regarding money into positive ones. Luckily, we can get past these mistakes and move on with our lives!
18 Money Mistakes We’ve All Made and Can Totally Get Past…
Just when you think about giving up, remember why you’ve held on for so long.
Need a boost? Bring up whatever you’re struggling with financially here in the Community area. Trust me, you are not alone.
Need a kick in the pant’s kind of boost? Read through the Debt Free Life Pledges. These people have some serious hope and motivation, and they believe they can change their lives. I believe they can change their lives too. I believe you can change your life too. Do you want it bad enough? That’s the only thing you need to decide.
Summertime is here! I absolutely love the summer months but they are usually the months when I have the hardest time sticking to my budget because of all the fun things to do! While the sunny days and festive nights are great staying frugal is where I’m focusing my efforts.
Anyone who has a significant amount of debt can tell you that trying to eliminate that debt is hard work because nothing worth having comes easy.
Getting out of debt IS absolutely, completely worth it but it is generally, not an easy process. But, get this- you/me/we CAN do hard things. The secret is to keep going. Keep going when you do not want to and when your motivation starts to fade. Remember back when you decided you wanted to get rid of your debt? Remember when you signed the Get Out of Debt Pledge and decided you were going to change your life? Remember how excited you were and how you were committed to doing whatever needed to be done to get out of debt?! I want you to go back to that place and time and reactivate that drive and motivation.
I want you to know that it’s normal to have wavering motivation. Sacrificing stuff sucks. Turning down trips, concerts, dinners out can be a total bummer, and that’s okay be sad about sacrifices! Remember WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.
Recommit and get the heck back on that money-saving train! I want you to have a new life. You deserve to be free from debt and you deserve to have that terrible, soul-sucking debt cloud removed from your life. You deserve to walk lighter and to hold your head higher. You deserve guilt-free vacations. You deserve that new pair of shoes or fancy, delicious coffee and warm morning muffin on the way to work once in a while but you deserve them guilt-free! You deserve to know that you can set your mind to something, and that you can actually accomplish it. You deserve to have ZERO DEBT. You deserve to have freedom! You deserve autonomy! You deserve all the best that life has to offer and let me tell you, nothing feels as good as being debt-free. Do it for you. Getting out of debt is the best gift you could ever, ever give to yourself!
Still not convinced that lacking motivation is part of the getting-out-of-debt process? This is how it all went down for me (in a nutshell)…
There’s no question that student loans are completely overwhelming for a majority of people (they were for me). We’re all encouraged to get higher educations, take on massive amounts of debt when we’re fresh out of high school (at an age when most of us can’t even begin to fathom the amount of student loans we’re happily signing up for) in hopes of an amazing future (I eagerly did it!). Fast forward to 6 months after graduation and you’re obligated to start paying back the loans. Things go fine for awhile but reality soon hits when you see that the majority of your income is going to pay back your student loans.
So how do you continue to trudge along paying off the student loans while not getting discouraged in the process, and come out victorious over those big ol’ debts? I’m happy to report that there is a new tool that will help…
With national student loan debt exceeding credit card debt in 2012, SimpleTuition decided to create a unique new rewards program to help the 38 million Americans pay down their student loan debt faster. The new rewards program is called SmarterBucks and it is innovative. The program is completely free and gives users cash-back on their everyday purchases that go directly towards paying down student loans. Whether it’s through purchases online through their Marketplace, taking branding surveys, financial literacy quizzes, or day-to-day spending using the SmarterBank Visa debit card, SmarterBucks users earn rewards on the money they are already spending to help them pay down their student debt faster.
The Marketplace has hundreds of brands that can earn members anywhere from 1-16% with online purchases.
2. Gifted rewards from family and friends
Family and friends can sign up for SmarterBucks and SmarterBank and gift any earned rewards to the recipient of their choice. A SmarterBucks member can have as many Gifters as they want.
3. Contributions from family and friends
SmarterBucks members can invite family and friends to make one-time or recurring monthly contributions from their credit/debit card that goes directly toward paying down that member’s designated student loan.
4. SmarterBank® Visa® Debit Card
With the (optional) SmarterBank Visa Debit Card, members will earn SmarterBucks rewards on all non-PIN purchases that they make with the card.
5. SmarterBucks Exclusives
Special offers, often arranged directly with the merchant, offers discounts that can’t be found in the SmarterBucks Marketplace.
6. Monthly SmarterBucks Giveaway
Every month all SmarterBucks members are automatically entered to win anywhere from $1,000-$2,500 in SmarterBucks. (Love this!)
Do your student loans weigh you down and how are you conquering them?
This is a sponsored post but as always, my opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make this site possible! xo!
There are more exciting places to take your money than the pump!
The current cost of gasoline is averaging around $3.80 in Denver and DC, $3.90 in Portland, $4.00 in LA, and $4.10 in Chicago. That means that you urbanites dwelling in these cities and beyond are spending at least $50 a month in gas. Here at And Then We Saved, we practice “Saving where we can, so we can spend where we want.” So it’s all about utilizing public transportation, hopping on your bike, or commuting – if the distance is less than 10 minutes by car – just walk. Plus, we need at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise per day anyways!
This list is based on the notion of freeing up 50 dollars per month.
This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
Change can be such a scary concept! Leaving the life rituals that you are used to and starting something new seems almost suffocating at times.
I was living in Ohio and having to work two jobs because after seven months of living there, I still couldn’t find full time employment. The world as I knew it ended and here I am, three weeks later, sitting in my new apartment in North Carolina with not one but two full time job offers. I have no idea which one to pick! How did I get to this point? Does it matter? What an awesome predicament!
Change is awkward and uncomfortable and unfamiliar but sometimes it’s good. Although I am very lonely and unhappy about my recent relationship split, I now have time to focus on my career. Which, when on a Spending Fast, is a great thing! What do I wanna be when I grow up? I have no idea! Now is a great time to channel my energy into figuring that out.
During the move, the bottom drawer to my dresser decided to break. My apartment has a big enough closet that all of my dresser items can fit inside it. As I was starting to take the dresser to the dumpster, I realized that I don’t have a desk. And a desk is really just a dresser without the drawers! So I took that bad boy back inside and started unscrewing the drawer brackets. After about 30 minutes of work, I have a new desk! It got beat up a bit in the move so I will have to paint it but instead of spending money on a desk, I created a free one. I changed something familiar into something new and useful.
After thinking about it, isn’t that what being on a Spending Fast and paying off debt is all about? Deciding to commit to the change instead of pushing against it. Changing your spending habits may seem weird and uncomfortable now but in the long run, it’s going to be beautiful and make your life more functional.
What are some ways a life change turned out surprisingly well when at first you weren’t sure it’d all work out okay?
Chelsea Overton is in the midst of a Spending Fast® and writes about it from North Carolina with her bulldog, Xena the Warrior Princess, by her side.
There can be a certain physical reaction you experience when you are out shopping – something that feels similar to complete euphoria when you find the oh-my-gawd-perfect-handbag or those awesome-fitting-jeans. For some people the reaction goes way deeper in that shopping becomes a high they can’t seem to live without. While not everyone has a true addiction to shopping, it can still be a satisfying experience.
Imagine no longer having the stress of worrying about how you plan to pay your electric bill. Focus on how amazing it would feel to not have to cringe every single time your telephone rings out of fear of a bill collector on the other end.
Frugality can go a long way to debt relief and getting your financial life back on track. Finding ways to save money in your daily life will certainly exercise your mind and your creativity. Frugal can be fun! Not only that but you can achieve so much more by using your powers for good.
When it comes to getting out of debt, there is a lot of information out there to help you reach your goals. Of course, you can read pages and pages about how to get out of debt. But, does it work? Does anyone really ever do it? I’m here to tell you that they do. How do I know? Well, I have been on both ends of the debt spectrum — from declaring bankruptcy to paying off my own debts. I share this story with all of you, not for accolades or “atta’ girl” notations, but rather because it sometimes helps to know that you are not alone and there really can be a light at the end of the tunnel (no matter how long that tunnel might be).
This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
Since starting my Spending Fast a little over three months ago, I have learned quite a bit more about myself than expected. One of the main things is that I have a lot of marketable talent that I completely didn’t realize. Last Monday I started a new job (hallelujah) and my title went from “Clerk” to “Information Technology Specialist.” I tell you this because my college degree is in Spanish. I have no formal training in computers, I just happen to enjoy working with computers. I realized this a few months ago and added my skills to my resume. After meeting a new friend, I mentioned to her that I was good with technology and she told her boss; the rest is history.
How To Figure Out Your Skills and Sell Them for Cash…
My second month of being on a Spending Fast has come to an end and I must admit that I am thankful. During the first month I was all like, “Woo, look at me! I’m saving money and being awesome.” This month has been more like, “Ugh, I really want to buy nail polish and chocolate and wine and this whole not spending thing sucks.”
I know that by writing about my journey through And Then We Saved and on my personal site, I have been able to stick with my commitment. It is so tempting to cheat and buy something small every once in a while, but knowing I will have to report back on my progress has helped tremendously. I am an extremist by nature and often get pumped up about doing things and then burn out almost immediately. I jumped into the Spending Fast with the notion that I was unstoppable and could do anything. After eating cold soup (no microwave at work) and cracker sandwiches for lunch, the idea of being on a Spending Fast has become a reality. I am so grateful to receive motivation and encouragement from all the readers who share similar experiences. It’s comforting to know I am not alone.
All that being said, it’ s time to report my month two totals. Drum roll please…
There are a few memorable TV shows that come to mind when thinking of the word cheap skate. Think of Seinfeld’s George Costanza who always tried to get everyone else to pay for his lunch at the diner and famously ordered the cheap-o wedding invitations with the toxic envelope glue. Even junior audiences have Mr. Krabs who wouldn’t let a penny hit the floor without rushing to the scene.
While we may laugh about these funny TV personalities or mock their cheapness, there is some financial logic behind their extreme frugal personalities, and it makes me wonder, “Is being cheap the key to living your dream life?” And, if it’s not THE KEY permanently, is being a cheap skate at least temporarily the key?
I think so.
How Being Cheap Is The Key To Living Your Dream Life…
Recently, I interviewed Jackie Beck who is the founder of The Debt Myth and creator of Pay Off Debt (an iPhone app that’s helped tens of thousands of people use the debt snowball method) Jackie and her husband paid off over $147,00o in debt and she is now dedicated to helping people get out of debt and really learn to love their financial life. That sounds pretty good to me! Here’s how they did it…
A Q&A With Jackie Beck- “How We Got Out of Over $147,000 in Debt!”…
As with many resolutions, made at the New Year and beyond, we start out strong towards a goal. But as time goes by and glitches in the road trip us up, we tend to lose our steam. When our path to debt freedom is sidetracked by an unexpected expense or we fall off the wagon when we see something we just ‘can’t live without!’ we tend to get down on ourselves and blow our commitment towards getting out of debt and staying there.
Staying motivated is possible for all goals – but you have to work at it.
How To Stay Motivated To Get Out Of Debt For The Whole Year…
Tahnya Kristina had a 6-figure income and lost it when the market crashed. Today she’s sharing how she’s made getting out of debt her number one priority and how she changed the way she approaches money.
Getting Out of Debt Is Not Fun, But It Can Be Easy…
Admittedly, old habits can seem hard to break. When you get into your own daily routines, you tend to wander along through your days without changing too much. This is because routine is comfortable and change is tends to feel very uncomfortable.
When it comes to money, people get set in their ways with how they do things just like we do in other areas of our lives. We pay our bills, put money into savings (ideally) or we avoid our bills and over-spend; everyday waking up and going to work so we can keep our lives moving.
Many times, when we have never-ending debts we tend to shrink away from our obligations because they feel so overwhelming. I know I was stuck in the cycle of doing just the bare-minimum to keep my head about water but when I started to make itty-bitty jolts of progress or when I had money in my pockets it felt weird. I was so used to being broke and struggling that having things go any other way were super forgein. I had to re-train my brain to get more and more comfortable with the idea of things not being how they historically had been. Who would’ve guessed that as terrible as being in debt felt that having money in my account would feel strange too.
It seems that every frugal person I know is into washing out and re-using their plastic baggies. I think the minute we decide to be more money-conscious we get a letter in the mail that says, “Just FYI, re-using plastic baggies will now be your ‘thing’.” So, as the good frugal person I am I, of course, wash and re-use my plastic baggies. Everything was going just fine until one day we had to buy a new box of plastic baggies. This made no sense since I should have at least 20 baggies that were ready to be re-used. I knew something was up. Was I not putting them back into the cabinet like I thought I was? Was an elf slipping in and stealing my baggies? Who’s got beef with my baggies? Turns out, my husband Aaron’s got beef with my plastic baggie habit and has been tossing my plastic baggies when I wasn’t looking! Raining on my frugal parade? Yes.
Turns out my constant stream of wet plastic baggies were really annoying him because they were never truly getting dry, and as he now puts it he says, “They were ripe for disease!” Since the plastic sticks together when they’re wet they were always a little damp on the inside. Enter my magic invention (and marriage saver), the plastic baggie dryer! Now, my plastic baggies are always dry and they have a place to hang so they don’t take up valuable dish rack dryer real-estate. First-world problems, I know.
How to Make a Plastic Baggie Dryer (and Stop Annoying Your Husband)…
Recently, I found out about Color Me Katie and her theory of creating art with what she either already owns or with inexpensive things like markers, poster board, colored paper, or stuff from the dollar store. She says (and I’m totally paraphrasing here), “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make art.” So when I came home from Alt I found myself with all this colorful candy and decided that I was going to use what I had to make something fun. So that’s what I did!
“Don’t give up before the miracle happens.” – Fannie Flagg
It’s easy to feel discouraged when things get tough through the getting out of debt process but I have to urge you to continue on. If you haven’t started your getting out of debt journey yet, believe that’s it IS possible to become debt-free.
Please, do not give up before you start. You deserve a debt-free life so let’s kick some debt-ass together and get on with some good living!
Whoa. It’s been 3 years (as of December 29th) since I started this site as a way to document my impending Spending Fast, and I always like to look back at the previous year to take it all in and appreciate what’s happened and the progress that’s been made.
The first year (2010) was all about the Spending Fast, and I managed to eliminate close to 18k that first year (!!).
The second year (2011) was all about the Spending Diet, and I managed to eliminate the remaining debt. It took a total of 15 months to knock-out the debt that I thought I would die with.
This third year (2012) has been all about trying to learn how to spend “normally”. Some months have been super easy and other months, super terrible. I guess that’s about as “normal” as it gets, huh?
There are often things I see that I really, really want, and even though I know I don’t need whatever it is that’s catching my eye sometimes my judgment lapses, and I just cave to the temptation.
The impulse to buy these things can be really powerful sometimes, and making small purchases can add up to several hundred dollars or thousands of dollars a year if you’re not careful– and if you’re anything like me you probably won’t even use the impulse buy a few weeks after you make the purchase.
Avoiding “wants” is essential if you want to save money, especially if you’re following the Spending Fast or the somewhat more lenient Spending Diet plan.
Here are a few ways to avoid buying everything you (think) want…
I was finally REALLY ready to be done with debt for good. I was committed to the process and it was time to take action.
The Spending Fast can seem very restrictive (because it is) but it was surprisingly freeing to have those restrictions. I no longer had to feel guilty about shopping and spending. If an item was on the “needs” side of my “wants and needs list” I could buy it was and if it wasn’t on the “needs” side of the list, I didn’t buy it.
To buy or not buy was clear-cut. There was no grey area. To have those limitations was a relief.
Have you ever had limitations put on you only to found that you were less stifled than anticipated?
A Spending Fast ® is considered an extreme but very effective method of getting out of debt quickly. A Spending Fast works through the elimination of all “non-need” spending.
I did a Spending Fast and I substantially improved my financial situation by paying off $23,605.10 in debt. It only took 15 months and I couldn’t believe it! Because I’m now debt-free I can live the life I’ve always wanted to live. I’m able to be autonomous and I’m able to focus on my goals without having debt hanging over my head and affecting all of my decisions.
There are a few things to think about before you start your own Spending Fast and all of these elements will affect how fast you are able to become debt-free.
These Factors Will Affect Your Spending Fast ®
The total amount of debt you have
How much spending you decide to cut out
How committed you are to the process
The duration of time that you chose for your Spending Fast
How much money you can make by selling your unused possessions
What you chose to do to generate additional income and how much money you can bring in with the side job(s)
When I finally decided that I had to be done with my debt my life completely changed, mainly because I was finally willing to do whatever I needed to do to be done with my debt once and for all. The cycle of debt, guilt, and remorse had to end.
Life is so much better on this side — the debt-free side! If you’re ready to change your life and if you’re ready to get rid of your debt quickly, this is how to do a Spending Fast. You can do this!
How To Do A Spending Fast ®…
1. List Your Debts and Their Interest Rates
Make a list of all your bills, and then write the highest-interest rate bill at the top of the list with the lowest interest rate bill at the bottom of the list. This will determine the order in which you will eliminate each bill: highest interest rate bill to the lowest interest rate bill.
2. Ask Your Creditors for Lower Interest Rates
Call the credit card companies and ask them to lower your interest rate. They just might do it so it’s worth a shot to call them and ask.
3. Picture the Life You Dream of Living
Determine your priorities by putting actual pen to paper and by writing down your ideal life. What would you be doing if you didn’t have to work for a living? How would you spend your time, and when are you the most happy? Ask yourself, “Is there any way I can reach my goals with the debt I have?” If the answer is “no” and you don’t feel good about it, then it’s time to start thinking about making some serious changes. Be very honest with yourself. Do you find that you’re making decisions about things to do (or not do) based on the amount of debt you have? Does your debt prevent you from living a life that is true to you? Does your debt (and your obligation to it) pull you and angle your decisions in even the subtlest ways?
4. Make The Commitment To Be Done With Debt Once and for All
If you’re not ready to be done with your debt, then you might want to try some other methods first. The Spending Fast technique requires a lot of commitment and dedication. A Spending Fast is a way to get extreme results in a relatively short amount of time, but you have to be ready to go forward full-force with it. Your life will change and it will affect every area of life. Getting out of debt and committing to the Spending Fast is worth it, it’s just not easy!
5. If You’re Partnered, Try to Get Them to Do the Spending Fast With You
It’s a lot easier to change your life if your partner is on board but, if they aren’t, then consider doing the Spending Fast solo (I did it that way). Separate bank accounts are very helpful if you’re doing the Spending Fast solo.
6. Set a Time-Frame for Your Spending Fast
I recommend a year, so you can get past the difficult beginning part (where all your habits are getting changed) and into the real benefits part (where your debt is getting paid off). A year can seem long day-to-day but at the end of the year you’ll be surprised how fast it goes by. If you chose to do a weekend-long spending fast, a week-long spending fast, a couple months or a year, you will still get results and it will still positively affect your financial situation.
7. Make a Public Declaration of Your Desire to Become Debt-Free
Tell your friends and family about your decision to do a Spending Fast so you can have the accountability that comes along with it. In addition to telling your family and friends, take the Debt-Free Life Pledge, and read the entries from others who are committed to getting out of debt too (it’s super inspiring to read the pledges and I always read them when I need extra motivation).
8. Create a “Wants and Needs” List
The “wants and needs” list is the backbone of the spending fast. On the “needs” list include just the necessities needed to live: rent, food, utilities, etc. On the “wants” list, put everything that is an “extra” in your life. Things that went on this side of the list for me were items like clothes, coffee at coffee shops, movies in the theater, gifts, bed linens, new music, new make-up, shoes, etc. (Here is my original Spending Fast *Wants and Needs* list – 1/4 of the way from the top of the page.) The *Wants and Needs* list can (and will) be different based on each person’s varying priorities in life. If you decide that something should be on your needs list that wasn’t on mine that’s okay! Just try not to justify adding things just to make it easier. You can do this!
9. Spend Money on the “Needs” Side of the List Only
This is the simple-but-not-easy part of the Spending Fast.
10. Think About What You Can Buy Rather Than What You Can’t
If find yourself starting to feel bummed out when you’re in the thick of the Spending Fast, try to shift your perspective, because it will do wonders for your morale. Remember to keep having fun (just the free kind). Remember that the Spending Fast isn’t forever. There is a light at the end of the tunnel (that’s why you set a time-frame at the start), and remind yourself of why you’re doing the Spending Fast in the first place — it’s to get out of debt once-and-for-all and to change your life! Look at the list you made in step #3 when your morale gets low.
11. Become Immersed in a Community of Like-Minded People
Get involved in the And Then Whe Saved Community. This is where people share their questions, struggles, accomplishments, set-backs, tips, tricks, and most importantly, their getting-out-of-debt successes. It’s a great place to get a reminder that we aren’t alone in our dreams to live debt-free lives.
12. Attack Your Debts
At the end of the month, send all the money that is left in your account to the bill that has the highest interest rate. Continue to send the minimum due on your other bills. Once a bill gets knocked out, be proud of yourself! You’re really doing it! You’re becoming debt-free! Next, start working on the next highest interest rate bill on the list. Become competitive with yourself; try to get better numbers than the previous month and keep track of your savings from month-to-month. To be able to see all of the savings at the end of the year is amazing.
13 & 14. Be Committed to the Process and Continue With the Spending Fast Until You Reach Your End Date
It’s unrealistic to think that “mistakes” won’t happen so keep going even when they (inevitably) occur so when they do, re-focus, and get back at you. Stick with the Spending Fast for the entire time-frame you committed yourself to. If you reach your goal of paying off your debt and you happen to do it before your predetermined end date (um, awesome!), then why not keep going? Squirrel away the extra money and prepare yourself for the next step — financial security.
15. Be Proud of Yourself for What You Accomplished — Big or Small
When you come to the end of your Spending Fast, look back on all you were able to do. Being proactive and being willing to take charge of your life and finances is definitely something to be proud of!
Throughout the Spending Fast, always be on the look-out for ways to cut the “needs” list down even more, get creative with ways to save money, and be willing to make things yourself in an effort to save.
Before you know it, saving will become (unbelievably) more fun than spending and your financial life will be forever changed!
Spending Fast ® is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.
Swapping madness has officially hit Denver! And, it’s A-W-E-S-O-M-E!
What’s so great about swapping is that you get to get rid of the stuff you no longer need or want and you get to pick out NEW to you THINGS! It’s a way to re-mix your style and infuse some freshness. It can also be an adrenaline rush when the swap begins and everyone is trying to find the best things! It’s exciting!
Having style while also trying to save money and get out of debt can feel very difficult, especially if you’re used to going to the stores and buying whatever is cute (that’s what I used to do and it got me into a lot of trouble!) Swapping is a fun and social thing to do with your girlfriends and you can make a night out of it! (don’t live in Denver but want to get in on the swapping fun too? The Swapaholics tell you how to host your own swap with your girlfriends right here.)
Oh… and did I mention that Handbags.com is giving away 3 amazing brand new bags to swappers at the end of the night?! Um. Yes. It’s true.
Here are the event details
It’s An AndThenWeSaved.com Accessories Swap! Sponsored by Handbags.com
If you’re a woman in Colorado you’re invited!
Bring your girlfriends and make a night of it! This is going to be a lot of fun!!
When and Where
· Saturday, March 10th from 6:30pm to 9 pm
· It will be held at The Curtis Hotel located at 1405 Curtis Street, Denver, CO
· The actual swap will start at 7:30 pm on the dot. Please arrive between 6:30 – 7:00 pm so we have enough time to inspect & sort your items.
· $5 CASH ONLY to enter. A portion of the proceeds will be given to SafeHouse Denver (supports and assists women and children in leaving dangerous domestic violence situations).
· Swappers please bring 10 great pieces: Handbags, shoes, hats and jewelry to swap. Bring items that you would give to your best friend or sister! (If you don’t have 10 items bring as many as you want to swap and you’ll be able to take that many. For example, bring 6 items take 6 items.)
· Your items will be checked by official Handbags.com Inspectors so please don’t bring things that are falling apart, have stains, holes, are smelly, broken or just plain ugly! We will not accept these items! We want everyone to leave with great items at the end of the night:)
· At 9pm 3 people will win a fabulous bag from Handbags.com!! (Big Buddha bags valued at approx. $100!)
· At 9pm all of the items that have not been swapped can either be taken back by the original owner or can be left for donation to SafeHouse Denver (a women’s domestic violence shelter)
· Free Parking Garage is Available at the hotel for the 1st 100 people (you’ll receive a parking voucher when you check-in for the swap)
· First 50 Swappers will receive 1 FREE drink ticket
· Handbag Design Contest (winners will win fabulous bags from Handbags.com! at 9pm)
· DIY Button Making Station
· Tunes by DJ El Brian
· Sweet Treats from Pastel
· $5 Mani’s from Tootsies Nail Shoppe
· Photo-booth FUN will be provided by Newell Jones + Jones Photography
When I started up the Spending Diet in January of 2011 to try to eliminate the remaining debt that I had I was shocked at how hard the Spending Diet proved to be. I thought that it would be easier than the Spending Fast. Since I had just completed a year of spending no money at all, the Spending Diet seemed like a piece of cake! Especially since I got a $100 “non-need” allowance. (When I first decided to do a Spending Diet I was going to give myself a $200 a month “non-need” limit, and changed it to $100 a month because $200 a month seemed waaayyyy too easy! *shakes head in disbelief*)
Turns out $100 is not really much money at all, and most months it only proved to be a gateway drug to spend more than I was supposed to, and often I felt frustrated that I wasn’t able to stick to my $100 limit.
Sticking to the Spending Diet was very difficult and that sucked. The guilt and remorse that was so often associated with my spending prior to the Spending Fast was back, this time though, I just didn’t have the debt cloud hanging over my head.
That discretionary spending was, once again, my problem, and my main issue. I found myself losing track of how much “non-need” spending I did, and more times then not, I didn’t want to keep track. I found that it was a lot more tedious to be on the Spending Diet because I had grown so accustomed to my “Wants and Needs” list of the Spending Fast. If an item was on my “Needs” list, it was okay to spend money on the item. If it was on my “Wants” list, “Nope, no spending on that!” The Spending Fast was cut and dry and that part made it very easy.
While the Spending Diet was extremely difficult, it eased me into thinking more “normally” about money.
This whole process has been so much about changing my thinking, and about changing my habits even when I don’t really want to.
And even though I was far from perfect on the Spending Diet it helped me go from the extreme of spending no-money-at-all to spending a-little-money-sometimes, it’s been more than anything, a transition. A transition that’s taught me how to be cautious with my money, and to not go all ape-sh*t wild like I really want to most of the time.
Like for example, I want to buy these shoes (why is it always shoes or boots!?) and it’s driving me nuts how much I’ve been thinking about them. I’ve looked at the website probably 20 times (at least) this weekend (um, crazy time-consuming! I’ve got stuff that really needs to get done, and I still can’t seem to control myself!), and I keep comparing them with other shoes, and trying to justify a reason why I need these shoes. The reality is, I have plenty of shoes. They’re just not those shoes, and I want those shoes on my feet! Like, yesterday!
Being on the Spending Fast, and Spending Diet has taught me that I can switch camps from being a “Spender” to a “Saver”, that getting out of debt it more hard than it is easy, that it takes a lot of time and repetition for habits to die and for habits to evolve. I’ve also learned time and time again that mistakes will happen, and that it’s really, seriously, okay that they do.
I’ve also realized that I seem to learn the most when I mess up. When I have to find a way to fix something that cements it in my brain.
It’s in the fixing that the true changes happen.
So, with that, this is how the Spending Diet shook out for 2011-2012…
Total Spending Diet Savings: $5,973.94
While that number is considerably lower than the savings from the previous year’s Spending Fast of $17,911.89 it is still pretty good.
My habits are continuing to evolve and I’m making peace with the fact that even if I don’t do something perfectly progress is progress. Today, I can live with that; even if it’s hard to see the changes as they’re happening I’m completely amazed when I look back on the past two years and what I’ve been able to accomplish.
image via a well traveled woman
What have you been able to accomplish that amazed you? What habits are the hardest for you to change? What do you do to stay motivated on the days that you want to quit?
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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