In my early 20s, I was a complete financial moron. I was the poster child for how you should not use your student loan money and credit cards.
So far I’ve paid back $19K on my credit cards, and I’m down to $0 (YESSSSSS!!). Plus, I’m also chipping away at my student loan debt. You will find some tips below that are helping me in my debt-free journey.
1. Raid the Work Cupboard – If you work in an office like me, people are always leaving their coffee cups, plastic containers, and travel mugs behind. Be sure you ask your colleagues before you grab, but that coffee mug that’s been sitting there for 2 years? Pretty sure no one is coming back for it.
2. Free Sample Websites – Check out this website. It is my most favorite website for real free stuff. I’ve gotten free clothing, free food, and even money! Be sure you check daily because the items there tend to go quickly.
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 really want to get out of debt but have your old habits knocking at your door there are ways to slowly but surely start changing your old ways. Pick one of the below tips to work on each week and you’ll soon find that those old money habits will drift away. Being frugal no longer carries the stigma it once did as more and more people strive to save money.
We all have a little cheapskate in us and it’s time to bring it out!
Here are 26 ways to kickstart your inner cheapskate and reap the benefits of hanging on to more of your money…
I’m in a bit of a rut myself, and without much justification. Isn’t it funny that no matter how many blessings we have to be thankful for, we find a way to focus on the one trial or tribulation that’s got us down? Whether everything seems to be going astray, or one nagging thought just won’t leave you alone – I’ve got good news. We’re in this together. Let’s lean on one another, and this list, to get back to the bright side.
This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
I am now into month four of my Spending Fast! About a month ago I had to uproot my life and move to a new state suddenly. Since I was not expecting it, I had not saved up a lot of money to move with so my Spending Fast had to take a temporary break. I didn’t go crazy and go shopping or anything, but I was not able to put the amount of money towards my debt that I had anticipated. Since time doesn’t stop, my month three totals are finally in but let me warn you, they are sad!
My original day 1 debt: $24,996.98
My total starting month three: $23,514.05
Month three debt paid: $11.51
New debt total: $23,502.54
Who pays $11.51 to their debt??! I actually paid a lot more but had to use my credit card quite a bit in the interim so I came out $11.51 on top. At least I came out ahead! (Anna saved $0. during Month 17 of her Spending Fast so I guess it’s normal to have some really great savings months and others that aren’t so awesome.)
Last week I wrote about having two job offers and not knowing which to choose. Well, I have chosen the second job (which pays $3 an hour more) and start next Monday! I am very excited about this new position because it is with a very large company with lots of room to work hard and advance.
Now that my life is circling back towards stability, I am reclaiming my focus and my Spending Fast goals. I am spending a few days visiting my family and while I am here I am listing their unwanted items online. They have agreed that if I sell their stuff, I can get a certain percentage for my effort. And that certain percentage is going towards my debt. I’m excited to see how it will play out.
I have a lot of extra free time lately so instead of sleeping all day and being sad, I am focusing on learning graphic design. I already had the computer programs needed to learn and How To books. What was I waiting for? I am learning this because I enjoy design but also because once I gain design skills, I can start freelancing that too!
I am excited about this new phase of my life and hopeful that it will bring great (money-making/debt paying) things.
Have you ever not met your Spending Fast monthly goal (or any goal you set out to achieve)? What are some ways you stay inspired during that time?
Chelsea Overton is in the midst of a Spending Fast® and writes about it from North Carolina with her bulldog, Xena the Warrior Princess, by her side. She also has her own website where she logs her journey towards financial freedom.
One reason people tend to overspend is due to the perceived peer pressure of others. Keeping up with the Jones’ is something many of us keep attempting despite a lack of funds. It’s easy to think, “If my friends and family are spending on fancy vacations then why can’t I?” These types of thoughts can create a vicious cycle that’ll give you a life of debt, frustration, and even shame.
When you vow to spend less and save more, you are taking a good step in the right direction. However strong your commitment, it can still be difficult to deal with other people that may not really understand or accept your new commitment to money matters. Spending less will mean some aspects of your life will change and that can be difficult for some to deal with.
5 Ways to Get Others On Board With Your New “Spending Less” Lifestyle…
How great are these vintage record covers? Music for pooped people? ;) I wonder what that sounds like…
I love that free internet radio exists. I get so sick of the music that I own so it’s awesome to be able to listen to music that I don’t normally have access to.
My “go-to” used to always be the Miike Snow station on Pandora and I would mix it up with the Indie Dance radio station. But then, then a whole new world got opened up when I asked Twitter folks what their favorite free radio stations were. I was thinking they would all say different Pandora stations, but nope it was mostly recommendations for Songza.com and whoa. Just whoa. If you’re not familiar with Songza you’ve got to get acquainted… Read More »
When I came across Karen Maezen Miller’s tips for a mindful home I just about lost it. All of her suggestions make sense it that, “Duh, of course!” sort of way. I particularly love the “set a timer” tip. She’s really completely brilliant.
I love, love, love when people send me emails about great sites they find to help with frugal living. If there is something useful out there to help facilitate a debt-free life I am all about it! So send them my way.
Here are some great sites that just so happen to be about online swapping!
Borrow and lend from (and to) your neighbors rather than buying items new at Neighbor Goods
Similar to Neighbor Goods, Snap Goods allows you to rent, borrow, and lend within your very own community.
Swap is always great and is a simple platform for swapping your media possessions, from books to DVD’s to vinyl.
Are you a fan of re-gifting too (my re-gift bag got revealed here… eek)? Gift Flow lets you swap gifts that you don’t want for ones that you do. Um, sweet.
Swap Tom is a site that is all about swapping baby and kids clothes. I can only imagine this would be especially useful since youngin’s grow so fast.
Thanks to Seth, Kelly, and Aaron for the great swapping links!
Have you ever swapped items online? If so, do you have any tips? Do you know of any great swapping sites that aren’t listed above?
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” – Ellen Goodman
Yep. Kind of ridiculous (and completely true for most of us). Depressing much? Eeek… sorry:/
We all know that having a baby in your life can be expensive (it is a whole new person after all). So, do you really need everything “they” say you need? What can be cut and how do you find some financial sanity when your whole world is getting rocked? Since Aaron and I don’t have a little one in our lives yet I love getting the inside scoop from people who do.
Today, Heidi from Portland Babylon is sharing her top 6 tips on how she and her husband made their new life with a baby as frugal as possible.
“I’ve always considered myself a frugal person. I began working at a young age, in junior high, for my CPA father. I think that helped foster a strong work ethic. I also found that money provided independence and security, so saving money was always really important to me.
However, the old adage of ‘the more you make, the more you spend’ does seem to hold true.
In the past few years my husband and I have made more money, and we’ve spent more as a result. We seemed to be able to save a lot more money when we made less.
In the past year a lot has happened, and our savings have dwindled. Most importantly, last September our son (Hank) was born. He’s our first and only child. Another old adage rings true here: ‘Having kids changes your life’. Boy does it.
We had a lot of financial burdens last year, plus we both work full-time and knew we had day-care costs in the $1,000 per month range staring us in the face. So, we knew we had to buckle down and try to make having a baby as economical as possible.
Here are a few things that have allowed us to not totally scrimp on our one and only child, but also be able to start saving some money again.
Saving Money With A New Baby In Your Life:
image courtesy of heidi. that hand-painted mural is really amazing! such talent!
1. Tap into your artistic skills (or your friend’s artistic skills)
Decorating a nursery can be really expensive. My husband (who luckily for us is an amazing artist) painted Richard Scarry murals on Hank’s walls. This saved us a lot of money, and of course made his room one of a kind. If you’re a little less adventurous there are a lot of stencils that could be used to create something really special (and cheap!).
2. Go with vintage or used furniture
We bought as much vintage furniture as possible his room, except for his crib. We bought a dresser, bookcase and an adorable wall unit all at local vintage stores, stripped them down and repainted them. We already had a rocking chair, and just had to repaint it. Not only were these pieces a lot cheaper than new, they were made better in those days and they have a much more unique look to them.
3. Get crafty
Even with my limited sewing skills I was able to create curtains for the nursery using Little Golden Book fabric. It matchs the mural and they weren’t as hard to make as I would have guessed.
4. Be okay with used clothes and hand-me-downs and spread the word to friends that you’d love their previously used items
Apparently, some people don’t want used clothes for their baby. Not us! My boss was nice enough to give us her two boys’ clothes, which really helped. We also continue to get clothes from a friend’s boy who is a few months older.
5. Use Craigslist and garage sales for the baby supplies
We bought quite a few things used at local re-sale stores and through Craigslist. I never knew you needed so much for a baby! We got a lot at our baby shower, but after he was born we realized how much more we could still use. We got some great deals on things like a bathtub, Boppy pillow, books, a Baby Bjorn carrier, blankets, and clothes. We even bought cloth diapering supplies and a huge quantity of baby formula from local sellers. The formula was an insanely good deal, and ended up getting us through a few months for dirt cheap.
6. Pick cloth diapers
Between birth to potty-training diapers can cost thousands of dollars so choosing to cloth diaper Hank was a pretty easy decision. Since it seems to be a trend here in Portland and since most of our friends do cloth diapering too, it made the decision a no-brainer. I felt like the biggest barrier to cloth diapering was having too much information available, which really confused me. Once I figured out what I needed the rest was easy – even the laundry’s not that bad (especially with an awesome husband). The initial set-up for the cloth diapers was a few hundred dollars but we’ll end up saving so much in the long-run since we decided to not go with disposables. Plus, being able to re-use the diapers means so much less garbage and waste!”
Do you have a little one in your life? How do you save money? What are your biggest tips?
Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)
Sharron Hunter is the co-founder of Eco In The Know. She’s also a charming Australian who made her way to Colorado. Today she’s sharing a bit of her motherhood story (below). She defined her priorities, and (I think most importantly) she utilized what she had to maximize her then one-income family situation.
image courtesy of the author (left)
KEEPING IT SIMPLE AND GETTING AS MUCH JOY!
I remember taking my three kids, 2 boys and a gal, to opportunity shops in Melbourne, Australia to find toys, clothes, books, board games and anything else we might need. I was a mother on a spending diet through the 1980s and 1990s and this was my way of supporting both the important issue of recycling and keeping down costs. It was during this period that our family also embraced organic farming. We turned our rather spacious inner city block of land into a garden farm, growing vegetables, fruit and herbs for our own use. It was not unusual for the kids to be playing in their cubby house and wander out into the veggie patch to gather a fine selection of cherry tomatoes and small crispy cucumbers to create a “cubby” house salad!! If the fancy took them, they could also climb in the apricot tree and feast on tree ripened apricots all plump and juicy! But I digress.
My spending diet was a consequence of an important decision I had made to see my role as a parent as my primary job. It meant that I put aside work for income and took up the most challenging work of a mother, full time and for no financial gain. So our family of 5 survived on Australian $25,000 per year. A friend of mine exclaimed at the time that she was amazed we could do this and a little embarrassed because in her annual budget, $25,000 represented money spent on overseas holidays. Okay, so we did without those, instead we camped in the Aussie bush each Summer, always somewhere remote, brimming with wild life and usually along a pristine beach or an equally beautiful river.
When required and at regular intervals the kids and I would scour the thrift shops, finding little and big treasures that we would triumphantly take home and make good use of. The most famous of our finds was the fantastic Canary Yellow Lace Party Dress which Chiara, my daughter, found in the $2 basket in the kids clothing section. It was outrageously gaudy with layer upon layer of over patterned cotton lace, which was enough to make a 3 year old feel like a princess. Her excitement got the better of her that afternoon and she immediately began to undress herself and struggle her way into this luxurious garment. She was not the girliest of girls so this “over the top” and flouncy number in bright yellow was an odd choice. It was a perfect fit and by the look of pure ecstasy on her little face I was convinced that she had had a fashion epiphany! She walked out of that thrift shop with it on, combined with her child size blunt stone boots (the Aussie version of outback cowboy boots) and did not take it off for the next 3 days!!! I was only allowed to wash it every now and then, when the lace became weighed down with grime and lost that Princess lustre! Oh the joy that was had from this $2 purchase, a joy that lasted a good year until a growth spurt made it impossible for her to wear it without shredding it!! She loved it because she got to choose it and wear it everyday and I loved it because it was a budget hit and we didn’t have any trouble getting her dressed each morning.
That year she was known in our neighbourhood as the “Chrysanthemum”! She is now 20 and we still go to thrift stores together and she still has the knack to make an outlandish pattern, colour or style look remarkably fashionable for the cost of a latte (which by the way we don’t skimp on)!
What are ways that you maximize what you have on a daily basis?
There’s nothing quite like the Buyer’s Remorse I’ve been experiencing since The Spending Fast proper ended. My $100 per month “non-needs” limit is feeling a little arbitrary at this point. I’ve bought a few items and then promptly returned them. It almost feels like every store I walk into has a theoretical revolving door.
This is how it’s been going:
– Wander around stores
– Something catches my eye
– “Oh, I’ll just try it on!”
– Think about it
– Debate about it in my head
– Decide I need it
– “No, I don’t”
– “Yes, I do!”
– Buy it
– Let it set there in the bag on my bedroom floor while I think about how I shouldn’t have bought it
– Feel bad
– Go back to store
– Return it
– Feel better (slightly)
I’m not sure why I am even putting myself in these positions of being in stores since it’s not working for me. Going into stores worked while I was on The Spending Fast since I just could easily say “Nope. No. Nooo.” to it all. That was easy. Shockingly easy compared to this. I’ve been putting myself in positions of wanting and since it’s not working out for me I’ve gotta cut this crap out. Why, am I continuing this “shop-feel-shitty-buying-cycle”?
Buyer’s Remorse sucks because it’s making me feel shitty but there’s also a good side to it since that feeling of dread after a purchase is helping me realize that I don’t have to keep an item “just because”.
I can change my mind. I can get that money back into my account. It’s okay. And man, it feels SO much better to have that money back into my account. Geez. A lot better. It eases the guilt. It eases the remorseful feeling. It “fixes” it. Puts it back together again.
It was fascinating to read (on Wikipedia) that Buyer’s Remorse is actually a real anxiety and not just all up in my own head. Other people go through this too. It’s nice to know other people go through it too. It’s nice to not be alone. You know.
Typically Buyer’s Remorse accompanies large purchases like houses and cars. I’m thinking that I’m experiencing it so much because compared to what I WAS spending ($zero) any spending feels like a lot A LOT. It’s all explainable. It makes sense really.
Buyer’s remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of big-ticket items such as a car or house. It may stem from fear of making the wrong choice, of guilt over extravagance, or of suspecting having been “snowed” by a sales associate.
The anxiety may be rooted in various factors, such as: the person’s concern they purchased the wrong product, purchased for too high of a price, purchased a current model now rather than waiting for a newer model, purchased in an ethically unsound way, purchased on credit that will be difficult to repay, or purchased something that would not be acceptable to others.
In the phase before purchasing, a prospective buyer often feels positive emotions associated with a purchase (desire, a sense of heightened possibilities, and an anticipation of the enjoyment that will accompany using the product, for example); afterwards, having made the purchase, they are more fully able to experience the negative aspects: all the opportunity costs of the purchase, and a reduction in purchasing power.
Also, before the purchase, the buyer has a full array of options, including not purchasing; afterwards, their options have been reduced to:
continuing with the purchase, surrendering all alternatives
renouncing the purchase
Buyer’s remorse can also be caused or increased by worrying that other people may later question the purchase or claim to know better alternatives.
Buyer’s remorse, when evidence exists that it is justified, is a classical example of cognitive dissonance. One will either seek to discount the new evidence, or truly regret and try to renounce the purchase.
Below is a snippet from an article I found on The Gloss by Jen Dziura. Click on the below section to read the full article. This essay brings up a good issue. It makes me think about “The quality of life issue” and how do I REALLY want to spend the hours of my life? Maybe that’s not the authors point but that’s what I got out of it.
How are things going? Are you doing a Spending Diet or Spending Fast this year, month, week, day? If so, how’s it going?
I’m feeling like a maniac with insatiable shopping desires lately. I look at magazines and see something I want, I watch TV and see something I need. It’s like I’m constantly being bombarded with consumerism and want and with doing more and getting more to achieve more and more and more. It’s easy for me to think that “if only I had this item or that thing everything would fall into place”. Gotta look the part, right? Gotta dress for the job I want and not the job I have, right? Gotta keep up with the Joneses, right?
In a way I feel like this is our way of life. It’s completely encouraged to consume and buy and be a hearty and wholesome contributer to society. Buy, buy, buy. It IS for the economy afterall.
Make more > to have more > to consume more > to prove that you have money and success!
Jackpot. Mission Complete.
With the Spending Fast I learned that having everything I wanted wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be. With the Spending Fast I learned that it was nice to be free from the gripes of consumerism and materialism. It was nice to not be thinking about things so much.
This year with the Spending Diet I’m trying to find balance between my wants and reality. Reality is that I can’t and shouldn’t buy (or even think about buying) every item that catches my eye. How do I do this? That’s really what I’m trying to figure out these days. I’ll have mainly good days and then I feel like I regress or something. It can be discouraging but I guess I figure I can basically begin anew the next minute and if all else fails, there’s always the “Returns” counter.
I tell ya what, there’s nothing quite like the quality of Buyer’s Remorse that comes after a year long Spending Fast.
It’s its own breed of WHOA.
I don’t want to be struggling with wants and desires and spending and not spending. I want to be a natural saver. Someone who just doesn’t want to spend money. I wonder if I could get hypnotized to get that removed. Any hypnotists out there?
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. Also! We're building a Tiny House and we're going to be on Tiny House Nation. Follow along!!
⭐︎Come back throughout the day for updates.
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