I’ve got a question, and maybe you’ve already written a blog post about this… but I thought I’d ask anyway. We’re in the middle of our debt payoff. We reached the halfway point in May, which was awesome, but over the summer we’ve lost some serious steam. I haven’t kept up with the coupon-clipping, we’ve been eating out more, and we’re generally slipping back into old habits. What do you recommend? How can I get re-energized and back into our quest?
Losing Motivation but Determined
That’s a great question! But first I have to give you major congrats for getting to the halfway mark! That is HUGE! Also, it’s awesome that you’ve kept your commitment to the Spending Fast even though you’ve lost some steam. The commitment to it will get you to the end. That will make all the difference in the long run. I ran into the same issue as you have with the losing motivation thing, so here’s what I recommend:
Go back and look at why you wanted to get out of debt in the first place.
My name is Katie. I’m 25 years old and I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Currently I work in the vocational field, helping people with disabilities find integrated employment in their communities! I make about $35,000 a year, which is less than my graduate degree actually cost to earn. (Big sigh.) Right now I have about $83,000 of debt — about $73,000 of that is federal school loans, and the other $10,000 is a loan that I took out to purchase a vehicle this past January when my old car was on its last leg. I have no children and live on my own, but I have a long-distance boyfriend. I rent my one-bedroom apartment, which is about $725 a month. My upcoming plans are to move in with my boyfriend, get a job that allows me to advance my professional career, and start the next grown-up chapter in my life!
I started my Spending Fast last summer (August 2014), so I’ve been in it for about a year. After attending graduate school to become a professional counselor, my goal was to find a job that would allow me to work toward my licensure (you have to have so many hours of work in before you can get the state license to practice). I’ve taken a job in the related field of vocational counseling, but without my license, I have been making less money than I will in the future.
I fell off the wagon and spent some money on clothes—and overall I wasn’t successful in paying any debt off for the month of May (month 7). Falling off the wagon happens to everyone, but I find that I especially have trouble. Whether with the Spending Fast, fitness goals, or goals in general, I have to find patience. Patience with myself, and with how long it takes to see results. I want results right away, usually right after a declaration of a goal.
With that said, I’ve found that these tips have helped me to develop being patience:
September’s Collective Savings totals are in! In September we saved $31,652.91! That brings our Collective Savings to a whopping $868,008.21!! SO impressive!!
If you have been thinking about getting out of debt but just haven’t taken the leap yet why not do it today? Here’s the link to the Get Out of Debt Pledge. Why not change your life by getting the heck out of debt already? Finally getting out of debt is THE BEST gift you could ever give to yourself, and having the weight of the debt lifted is one of the most incredible feelings ever. You can absolutely have a debt free life too!
Drumroll please… August’s Collective Savings totals are in! For August we saved/paid off $28,350.19! That brings our total to: $836,355.30!
August’s savings were quite a bit lower that previous months savings and I’m guessing that has to do with summer vacations and a lot more activities and social events happening. Or… maybe people just forgot to add their amounts to the page.;) Either way, we’ve got another month ahead of us to buckle down and get some debt paid off!
If you’re new to the site and have no idea what in the world I’m talking about, lemme fill you in. Every month we all add what we’ve saved/paid off to the Collective Savings page and then at the end of the month we get to see how much everyone’s saved, collectively. It’s a fun way to stay motivated and know that you’re not the only one out there on a mission to end your debt, because, lordy, I know it can feel that way at times!
Be sure to add your savings so we can include your accomplishments to next months total. – Anna
I am happy to report that at the end of June I finished my Spending Diet! For a year, I spent only $100 each month on unnecessary stuff. I can’t believe it’s over! There for a while, I thought it would never end, but now it feels like it went by so quickly.
For the most part, I succeeded in my plan. There’s been some unexpected expenses along the way, life’s all about unexpected expenses, am I right?! But overall, I stuck to my guns and drum roll, please…
I saved $12,441.99 on my Spending Diet!
I was hoping to save $15,000, but considering that I saved about half of my paycheck each month, I consider this a huge success. I also don’t plan on going back to my old ways, so I think I’ll hit my $15,000 goal in a few months.
I know that everyone’s life is different and different money tricks will work for different people. Here’s some tips and tricks that worked for me during my Spending Diet.
It’s a great feeling to knock out debt and build up your savings.
But it’s not such a great feeling to overcome buyer’s remorse when you find that you’ve bought yet ANOTHER thing that you just had to have, only to realize you didn’t really need it.
So how do you stay on track with your Spending Fast when you’re tempted to “fall off the wagon” and when life’s temptations creep up on you and start whispering those familiar sweet nothings into your ear? Read More »
This past month I celebrated my birthday. Prior to the Spending Diet, I would have probably bought myself an unnecessary gift… and treated myself to a fancy dinner… and then maybe to overpriced cupcakes and wine. This year was a much quieter affair. My birthday wasn’t a “big” or significant birthday. I didn’t go on vacation. I didn’t even take off work. My husband made me a nice dinner and a fruit cake– literally a cake made completely out of fruit. It was impressive and super thoughtful. Read More »
These last two months have really hit home with me. My Spending Fast now seems to be more about growing my income than actually being on a Spending Fast. I’ve tried to keep my spending habits in check like everyone else, and I continue to try to make smart money choices. Ever since I’ve been in debt I’ve had to get used to a lifestyle where I pay my bills, put food on the table, and then I have a tiny amount of money left to divide into those items and services that aren’t basic living necessities but they need attention and money thrown at them every once in awhile (i.e. new underwear, oil changes, pet supplies, contacts, you know, the adult stuff). Read More »
My sister, Kelly, has her Spending Fast update for us below. I can’t believe how much she’s been able to save in only 4 months. NUTS. Follow all the Spending Fasters stories here.
This month the Spending “Fast” has looked a lot more like a Spending “Diet”. With 3 children I knew there would have to be some level of flexibility in there, and this month proved that. Between all the little things that have come up with regular life I’ve been tempted to forget about this entire Spending Fast thing. But thankfully(? ;) Anna is only a text away and she “gently” reminds me I haven’t submitted a post in a while.
Saving, Making, and Earning More Money with Little to No Effort…
I’ve been looking for ways to increase my income with little to no effort — seriously — I’m busy enough as is! Though if it ever came down to it, I always thought Starbucks would be a good place for a part time job. The change of pace is appealing, there are free drinks (I’m assuming?), a free pound of coffee to take home per week, and I hear they’ve got a great college loan payment program for employees as long as you work a certain amount of hours.
A couple things I’ve done besides getting a part time job: I signed up for a weight loss competition at my gym for $50, top prize is $6500. It was an extra expense to do the challenge but the money on the line is very motivating, and working out is not only mentally healthy for me but it’s also a pretty cheap hobby. It’s a 12 week challenge and I’m in the middle of the 5th week right now. I’ve lost 10lbs and 8.5″ so far. I’m determined to make that prize money mine. IT WILL BE MINE!!! Read More »
Guys!! I am happy to report I have finally made some progress! This update is combining the last two months. For month 3, I was able to pay $200 on my debt, which wasn’t a wow amount, but it was something nonetheless. Month 4 I was able to pay $1,000 on my debt, taking the balance of one of my two cards down to $425! I am so close to getting this one card paid off that it feels like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The 1,000 consisted of a $500 tax refund and $500 saved from my paycheck.
There have been some changes in my household also. My roommate and friend Tina, was offered a new job as a traveling nurse to Washington DC for three months! I am excited and happy for her as she starts this new journey. Also, my boyfriend and I have decided to move in together. He has been here a month already but officially moves his stuff in this week. I am excited for the changes in my life. I will miss Tina and can’t wait till my friend comes home to tell me all about her adventures.
My total credit card debt left is 3,358.04. I plan to pay off the $425 by the end of March. And then my goal is $500 a month to my last card until it’s gone, which should last six months. That puts me at the end of September to be finished with my credit card debt. Then I will move onto my car loan.
It feels good to have this plan in place and to know that I will be done with this before 2016 hits us. It makes me feel like I can hold off on my Wants for now because I can see the pay off at the end. I can picture myself being able to actually save money, and also being able to finally travel if I so choose. I can see myself being able to purchase something that I actually want — something that will add value in my life, and I will be able to do so guilt free. I am looking forward to freedom more than anything.
Here are my Spending Fast Stats:
Spending Fast Start Date: October 9, 2014
Month One: November 2014 – Derailment in SF: $0 saved
Month Two: December 2014 – $400 saved into savings account
Months Three and Four: January/February: $1,200 towards credit card Total Saved Since Starting the Spending Fast: $1,600
What about you? What would you do if your debt wasn’t holding you back?
I’m over halfway through my Spending Diet! At this point, I’d love to tell you all how wonderful it feels to have saved $7,600, but January had me in a slump. I managed to save my goal of $1,000, but I got paid early in December and I kept thinking I had more money than I actually did.
For some reason I also schedule all my doctor, dentist and my dog’s vet appointments for the beginning of the year. I don’t know why I do that, they all seem to just fall on the same month. I’m so lucky to have insurance, but a $30 dollar doctor’s appointment, a $50 dentist appointment for my husband and myself and a $235 vet appointment adds up quickly. And although I was bummed to spend over $300 on preventative care, I know that preventative care is just that–preventative and may help me save on medical care in the long run.
This month I also went back to having just one full-time gig. I had taken on teaching a course in the fall at the community college where I work and I had earned a bit of extra money each month for it. I really enjoyed empowering my class with my infinite wisdom (ha!), but the stipend was very low and I am currently planning a conference at my full time gig. I just didn’t feel I had the time or sanity to take on both. With the stress that comes with planning a large-scale event, I’m also preemptively worried that when things get too stressful, I’ll spend, spend, spend. I’m hoping these past 7 months have taught me that the thrill of seeing a bigger number in my bank account is better than the thrill of any stressed-out sushi lunch. Read More »
For the month of February we all saved a total of $58,182.48!! That is a hell of a lot of debt to pay off! The amounts you all are saving, this is concrete evidence that the Spending Fast and Spending Diet work!
We have now collectively saved a total of $379, 597.37!!!!
To add to the Collective Savings total be sure to include your savings on this page so your savings can be included for March!
You all are doing so amazing knocking that debt out. With every penny that gets paid off it gets you that much closer to a new life. You can do this! If you want to get out of debt too take The Get Out of Debt Pledge and get started today. Might as well change your life on this fine Thursday, right?
(If you’ve sent me an email your savings have been included in the savings total, by the way.)
How has it been going for you so far this month? What successes, obstacles and challenges have you encountered?
And, with that, I would like to introduce, Jennifer, who will be sharing her Spending Fast story with you as she goes. The ups, downs, struggles, successes… all of it. I hope you enjoy following along, and that you find motivation and encouragement in these posts to see that getting out of debt crazy fast is totally possible! And, maybe, you will find that you want to change your life and become a Spending Faster too!
Also, while the site is primarily read by women I’d love to include a male Spending Faster’s experience through and out of debt. If you’re a dude and interested in sharing your story send me an email: email@example.com – Anna
Hi all! My name is Jennifer and I just turned the BIG 3-0 last month! If that’s not a birthday to make you think about where you’re at in life, I don’t know which is! I made the decision to take out a mortgage for a house almost a year ago, here in Florida. Currently, I have a roommate and three dogs living with me. I make a living as a Production Artist at a publication company.
My total debt is 16,027.84 not including my mortgage. This what makes up my debt: I have $4,584.95 (started as 6,000) in credit card debt that I racked up in college by not living within my means. (I was paying my bills with a job I had but I was living off credit cards. It’s been following me around since 2010. I don’t even want to think about how much money I have wasted on interest!) I also have a car loan of 11,442.89.
My goals for the Spending Fast are to, first, save an emergency fund of $1,000 (this differs from what Anna did btw); pay off my credit cards and my car loan. The last few years I have gotten better with my spending habits, but it’s turned into a sort of yo-yo effect of doing good and then erasing the good by doing bad. The time has come to just get it done and I need your help to keep me held accountable throughout this process. With your help, the support of my friends and family, and a boyfriend who is on board, I can’t think of a better time to do the Spending Fast, than now. I want to not only pay off my debt but have a substantial nest egg for me to be able to have more freedom and time in my daily life to do something I really enjoy, whatever that may be.
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 July update for us below. We’ll get August’s update up before you know it, and then we’ll be back on track in no time for September. I’m telling ya, we’ve got a plan, folks. She’ll take it from here. xo, Anna
Ok, so first things first, this was so much harder than I imagined. I went over my allowance of $100 in the first two weeks! I am ashamed and to be honest I was a little shocked. (I feel like I’m such a saver!) But I learned from my digressions and I’m ready to get serious.
I went $100 over my spending limit in July for two reasons:
#1 – I didn’t immediately get cash out of the bank at the first of the month like I said I would.
Hey, I’m lazy and I hate making trips to the ATM. Instead, I told myself I’d just write down what I spent. What a joke. If I’m too lazy to go to the ATM, I’m too lazy to write down everything I spend. Now at the first of each month, I am vowing to get out my $100 spending budget and stick to only spending cash on my “Wants.” I’m also leaving my debit card at home so I can’t be tempted by that trickster. (I’m keeping my credit card on me for emergencies.)
#2 – I was too strict with my food budget.
I just simply didn’t budget enough for food. I hate buying food even though it’s a necessity. I thought by giving myself a super strict limit, I would spend less. Wrong! I spent more because I ran out of food and had to make extra trips to the grocery store. I’m going to give myself $50 more to spend on food each month because a girl has to eat. To even out the budget, I’m cutting my gym membership. I love it but I don’t use it often enough. I ordered some infomercial DVDs a while back and I’ve been hitting those harder than I ever hit the gym.
I still managed to save $1,000 this month which I consider a success. I also got real with myself. Looking back on this month, I realize that I spend more money than I should going out with friends. Instead of going out with friends, I’m going to convince my friends that we should cook at home– even if that means I do all the cooking! I’ve even started fermenting my own wine which has been super fun and much cheaper than wine at a bar or restaurant.
I have high hopes for next month. I’m taking on a side job to earn more income and I took out my $100 allowance as soon as I got paid.
Here’s to hoping next month’s spending diet report looks better than the last! Melanie
You have to get up every morning and say to yourself, “I can do this.” Because, you can. Getting out of debt and changing habits is hard… there is no doubt about that but it is possible to live in a new way!
Here are 16 of my favorite posts that will give you just the right jolt to keep that New Year’s Resolution going strong! Or… if you didn’t make the resolution to get your finances straightened up then maybe these 16 posts will be just the kick in the pants that you need to get started! It doesn’t need to be the start of a new year to change your life. You can start anytime! – Anna
“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
Get creative and knock down the expenses on your “Needs” list
You can do this. You can get out of debt. Go big. Get rid of that debt fast and get on with your life. Don’t make yourself suffer through years of slow-repayment or painful budgeting. Have I told you how much I hate budgets?
I’m shouting at you now. This is time for some tough love. YOU CAN DO THIS!
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
This is a guest post by Alicia Lawrence who has been doing a Spending Fast. -Anna
It’s been one year since my husband and I started our Spending Fast. Since then we have knocked out over $25K in debt (not including what we paid in interest). Anna has asked me to share my journey to getting out of college debt free and how we are tackling my husband’s debt now.
After I graduated college, I was one of the few that made it debt free. But that freedom was short-lived as I married someone who did have debt, and surprisingly more than he had anticipated. The average student loan debt is $27K, my husband had accumulated almost $60K. After our honeymoon, it was a rude awakening when my father-in-law sent me the passwords and links so we could start paying it off. I knew my husband had some debt but the real amount was twice what either of us expected.
For one, coming from money-wise parents, I couldn’t understand how they didn’t know about the amount of their debt. My husband was never encouraged to find the best loans or figure out how to get scholarships. Me, on the other hand, was searching and applying for scholarships since sophomore year in high school.
Start While You’re Young
Even before that, my parents had started a 529 Plan when I was born. Growing up in Alaska, each year every resident receives a Permanent Fund Dividend (around $1,000). Instead of giving that money to me they placed it in my 529 Plan to grow interest until college. By the time I left for college, I had over $30K in my 529 Plan to help me pay for lodging, books, classes and any other student finances I would need.
On a side note, I also worked summers and part-time jobs through college. I placed 35% in savings and the rest was used for living expenses and spending. After college, I had saved over $5K for emergencies. Glad I did since my husband and I didn’t find steady jobs till three months after our wedding. During those three months, I created budgets and action plans on how to pay off the debt quick, but you need money to pay off debt and that wasn’t something we had at the time.
We both got multiple retail jobs hoping it would hold us through till we could get “real” jobs, which finally happened a few months later. So now you know the back story, let me tell you what we are doing now.
I had struggles before the thought even crossed my mind to get out of debt, obviously during the getting out of debt process the obstacles continued, and even today being on the debt-free side life isn’t all struggle-free. I think it’s easy to think that life will be instantly perfect when we’re debt-free but those old habits that got me into debt in the first place still show up once in a while. Recognizing the patterns and habits is the best way to start addressing them and making changing, and believe me, I constantly have to re-evaluate my spending and attitudes around money because I don’t want to slip back into my old ways again. Getting out of debt was hard enough the first time and I definitely don’t want to do it again!
How do you figure out your limitations and how to tell them to get back in their place so you can live the life you’re meant to?
“We must let go of the life we’ve planned to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell
In a lot of ways starting the Spending Fast was scary. It was super exciting but also kind of, a little bit scary. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I only knew that I could no longer go on living the way I had been. I knew I had to change my life and to change my life I had to let go of some of my old ideas. I had to let go completely to my old way of life. I had to be open to the possibilty that life could be better. That life could be different.
Once I let go my life changed. I decided to make one decision- do the Spending Fast, and that’s when my life changed. You can change your life too. You can let go and see what is waiting for you. I dare you to give it a try. You deserve the freedom that comes from being debt-free. Trust me, it’s a great way to live. I want you to be free to live that awesome life that’s waiting for you.
“Having everything that catches your eye is not all it’s cracked up to be.”
One of the main things I learned on the Spending Fast was that buying everything that caught my eye wasn’t really as awesome as I thought it was. I wasn’t able to see this clearly when I was in the habit of buying everything but when I stepped out of the buying cycle that’s when the clarity came.
During the Spending Fast I found I got more freedom and more happiness when I said, “No” to material items I lusted after then when I indulged in them. Now isn’t that somethin’?
If you’re in the thick of the spending and over-spending cycle do you think you might find freedom from getting out of the cycle too? Believe me, you can change your life right now if you want to.
This post is by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.
Being on a Spending Fast can seem like such a drag! Since starting my third month of no spending, I have realized that being on this Spending Fast is actually awesome! I know what you are thinking, just hear me out. Obviously I wish that I didn’t have debt and could buy anything that I wanted. Instead, I have found that while on this year-long adventure, I have been able to do some really cool, unexpected things…for free!
Since my boyfriend and I aren’t going out on the town like we used to, I have become a little creative with my time.
The term ‘Cheapskate’ is not always thought of in a good light. However, in light of the economy and the need to consider your future financial situation, becoming a cheapskate is not an unreasonable goal to set. Whether you call yourself cheap, thrifty, frugal, or financially smart doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you are proactively saving cash or knocking out your debt so you can have a good future down the road.
There are plenty of reasons to become a Cheapskate today but here are 5 for you to consider upfront in case you have doubts about the benefits of living cheaply.
I’m thrilled to show you this short sketch video that Becoming Your Own Bank created for And Then We Saved. If you haven’t done so already (or if you want to re-new your pledge) sign-up for the Debt Free Life Pledge right here. I don’t get anything out of you taking the pledge. I really just want you to have a debt-free life too! xo, anna
I’m so excited to introduce Chelsea! She recently started her Spending Fast®, and she is going to be our new Spending Fast columnist reporting weekly about her getting out of debt journey! I’m so happy she’s going to be sharing her story with us!
Not spending money for a whole year sounds a little ridiculous to most people. After many failed attempts at paying my student loans, I decided to get serious. I had stumbled upon And Then We Saved’s post on how to cut your own hair. Once I read the tutorial I started exploring the site and was amazed at what I found. If Anna could do a year-long Spending Fast, I figured I could at least attempt to do the same.
My name is Chelsea Overton and I am a 25 yr. old lady living in Columbus, Ohio. I am from North Carolina and recently moved to the great state of OH-IO last August. Before moving, I had been able to make all my minimum student loan payments and keep my credit card balance paid. In August, I left my full-time salary job behind and with it I left all hopes of financial stability. Before I knew it I was having to choose which bills to pay each month. I would pay student loans one month and the credit card the next. At least with this method, neither account would go into default status. After the new year started I knew it was time to get my finances in order. Finding ATWS seemed like a pretty large life sign.
I started my Spending Fast on January 28, 2013 and it has already changed my life. When I started this I had a grand total of $24,996.98 in debt. Wowza! After one month, I have successfully paid $1,229.58 towards my debt and put $100 into savings. I had decided not to look at the total amount paid throughout the month. I made payments towards my credit card as the money came in and at the end of the month I was beyond surprised! My current debt total is $23, 767.40.
So, what did I do to go from not being able to make minimum payments to putting over a grand on my debt? I froze my spending! I started packing my lunch and saved the $5 a day I was spending. I cleaned out my closet and sold unused items on Craigslist and eBay. I realized I enjoy writing and started freelancing my skills through various online sites.
I used to spend money on things like nail polish and snacks because, well, “I deserve it.” After only a month of the Spending Fast, I have realized that I deserve to be debt free. I expected this year to be hard, but I had not expected to discover so much about myself this quickly. Gaining control over my spending has created a sense of peace in my life that I haven’t felt in years. I am nervous about how the rest of this year will go, but I now have confidence in my ability to change my habits. I look forward to finding new ways to save and watching my debt shrink each month!
Each week I’ll be writing about my Spending Fast and getting out of debt journey. I hope you follow along with me!
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…
When I was on my Spending Fast® and Spending Diet I wanted nothing more than to pay off my debt, and I wanted it done quickly! I had opportunities where I could’ve taken advantage of the situation and put my dishonestly accrued “savings” into paying off the debt. Desperate times, call for desperate measures, right? And when you are very serious about saving money, living frugally and/or paying off debt – you may find yourself tempted to steal or do other bad acts in an effort to reach your financial goals. I’m curious would you steal? Would you not tell the cashier if he accidentally forgot to ring up something? How far would you go to save money and get that debt paid off?
How Far Would You Go to Pay Off Your Debt? Would You Steal, Be Dishonest, or Do Other Bad Acts?
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.
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…
Most people know what it feels like to live with debt, but for many of us the last time we didn’t have mortgages, credit card balances, and student loans, we were too young to own much more than a bicycle and a pack of gum. As an adult do you know what life would look like without debt? Is that even something you consider as a possibility in your life?
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?
I wanted to share some recent (super!) exciting news with you! If you take a look at the January issue of Self Magazine (page 72), and the February issue of Psychology Today (page 82), you’ll see my big ol’ mug staring back at ‘cha.
I’m so excited to be included in these magazines because it means that more people will discover that there really is hope to live a debt-free life!
Thanks for letting me share this with you! xo, Anna
p.s. Aaron really liked that I was given a ‘D’ by Self Magazine for not getting him on board with my Spending Fast plan from the beginning. D’oh… :)
This is super exciting! I am the proud owner of the Spending Fast ® trademark, and get to use the fancy *® *symbol now! ;) It was a long process so it’s great that it all worked out! Let me know if you have any questions about how it works, and if you have any questions about present or future usage of Spending Fast ® on your own site. xo!
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.
It’s weird to think about how things in life change. I first started this blog to keep me accountable as I started my Spending Fast and slowly crawled out from under my debt. It proved to work- it kept me honest and it helped to keep me motivated to stay on course so I didn’t mess up. I partly didn’t want to mess up because I didn’t want to have to tell you about it here; that little bit of pride was useful.
After 15 months I found myself out of debt (still unbelievable sometimes) and the blog started to reflect my process of learning how to spend “normally”. I was continually asking myself, “What does ‘spending normally’ look like?”, “How do I not get myself BACK into debt?” and, “How do I stay motivated to not over-spend?” And, more than anything, “How do I not slip back into my old ways?”
Now, I feel the blog is ready to go into another new direction. For the site to have authenticity, and for me to continue to be enthusiastic about writing it, it must be true to where I’m at in life.
You may have noticed the new tagline, “Saving where I can, so I can spend where I want.” That reflects more of where I’m at these days.
I wanted to get out of debt in the 1st place so I could really enjoy life, and so I could do what I want without having the burden of the financial black-cloud hanging over my head. I could no longer handle the demoralizing feelings and guilt that came with having a crap-load of debt.
I like shopping, I like traveling, I like eating out, and I like going to the movies. I want to enjoy the fun stuff life has to offer, and I finally have choices. I want you to have that freedom too.
Financial freedom (for me) is all about autonomy. It’s about being able to make the decisions in my life that feel true to me. A life that’s honest. Day-to-day it looks like this: a simpler, less-cluttered life, and the ability to go on a trip or buy a new shirt if I want to without having the guilt and stress about adding to an already overwhelming amount of debt.
For me now, financial freedom is all about, saving where I can, so I can spend where I want.
What does living a life that’s true to you look like? How do you feel when you live authentically to when you don’t?
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”- John Wayne
There’s no doubt that changing your life and habits is hard work. I mean, you go from living in your comfort zone to flipping your whole life upside down. Often when people ask me about doing the Spending Fast and what it took to get out of debt I get the feeling that they want me to tell them that it was easy and that it didn’t change my day-to-day life all that much. But it did.
You know those people that say they lose weight and they didn’t have to do anything different? Like, “I eat cake for breakfast EVERYDAY and I lost weight! It’s a miracle!”
Doing a Spending Fast, and changing your relationship with money is hard work and it’s not like eating cake for breakfast everyday.
If you want to change your life, you have to changeyour life! That might seem like a silly thing to say but, really, if it was possible for me to keep doing what I was doing (spending money like crazy) and still get out of debt I would’ve picked that option. Changing your life and living debt-free takes work, time, and sacrifices. All of which are completely worth it when you come out on the other side debt-free and victorious but to think it won’t be hard work to get to that point – that’s just not reality.
I want to challenge you to look debt in the face and tell it to F- OFF! It’s time to be done with the debt and remorse and over-spending once and for all!
It’s scary to think about changing your life but you know what, it’s also so freaking exciting! By getting on the path to live a debt-free life you’re going to create a new future for yourself. One where you have choices and one where half your paycheck isn’t going to pay for stuff you’ve already forgotten about and have already donated to the thrift store.
I probably sound all pumped up in this post and it’s because I just read the latest Getting Out of Debt Pledgers posts and man, they just inspire the crap out of me.
So do it. Look fear in the face and saddle on up. It’s time to change your life.
Awhile back the lovely Charmel Delos Santos did a guest post for And Then We Saved (read her post here) and now she has written a bookcalled High Heeled Traders. I was honored (and shocked) when she told me that she included me in the acknowledgements section of the book.
High Heeled Traders discusses why women are natural traders, and how being intuitive with trends is an asset with investing.
Charmel is giving 3 readers a paperback copy of the book and she is spreading the love by giving everyone a free preview of the book here!
**This Giveaway is now closed***
Entering Is Easy! 5 Ways To Win
♥ To win a copy of the book just register on her site for a mandatory entry here and then leave a comment below letting me know you have done so.
For Additional Entries You Can
♥ Follow me on Twitter (@andthenwesaved) and/or Facebook, and then leave a separate comment below letting me know you have done so.
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The Giveaway will end on Wednesday, May 2nd at 8pm Mountain Time. When you enter please be sure to leave your email address in the fields where it asks for it so I can have a way to contact you if you win.
Sometimes I’ll make a pot of coffee and then I don’t finish it, and it just seems like such a waste of money (because it is). Now rather than throwing out that coffee I’m going to put it in a container and slurp it up later as iced coffee. (I so wish I would’ve had this recipe down-pat when I ran into this problem awhile back.)
“While it’s no surprise that making your own cup of coffee is cheaper than buying it on the outside, the savings over time are eye-opening. Here’s a telling contrast: A 6-ounce cup of coffee made at home, at about 17 cents a cup per day, adds up to $1.19 a week and $62.05 a year. A 16-ounce grande coffee from Starbucks, at $2.29 per day, adds up to $16.03 per week, and a hefty $835.85 per year — the price of a mini vacation.”
Just last week I perfected my iced coffee recipe and now I feel like a total schmuck for ever paying that crazy price ($4.00 !??!) for the fancy coffee shop version. Plus, have you ever noticed that iced coffee is (usually) more expensive than the already expensive regular hot cup of coffee-shop coffee? Wanna know why? It’s because they “double brew” it.
So, what does “double brew” mean anyway, and can the homemade stuff be just as good (or better) than the expensive stuff?
Totally, totally, yes it can.
Here’s how it’s done.
How To Make Perfect Iced Coffee At Home – The Recipe…
One day we took a day-long road-trip to a Gulf of Mexico beach and it turned out to be a very sunny but chilly and windy time. We got blasted with sand most of the day and did our best to ignore it. Hours later on the way home we realized we had gotten fried since we hadn’t re-applied the sunscreen like we normally would’ve on a typical hot sunny day. What the experts say is true, the sun can (and will) still burn you even if it doesn’t seem like it will. We poured vinegar all over our burns (it’s really does help with the pain, you know vinegar is amazing, right?) and took some pain relievers.
Lesson learned sun. Lesson learned.
It was fun to get away from my normal routine and to do things I normally don’t get a chance to do like (among other things): be roommates with a 13 month old, eat humongous spoonfuls of chocolate chunk cookie dough ice cream at 11pm, have late-night giggly/serious conversations, and watch movies on a nice/amazing/wow TV (ours is a 15 year old TruTech;).
While it’s fun to get away I can’t help but feel guilty too. I mean, I spent money on a plane ticket! A plane ticket that wasn’t a Need. Plus, I still have that frustrating medical bill that just won’t quit. I know I should be piling money onto that bill so I can get it over with already but I’m fighting it for some reason. Like, I just want to pay the $150 that I agreed to pay, for like, ever. There’s no interest accruing so that crosses my mind too, that it technically and officially wouldn’t “harm” me to pay it super slow. But, the fact that it even exists, that I even have to think about it and that it weighs on me, that’s a signal that it’s not cool. After doing the Spending Fast and Spending Diet I’m super tuned-in to the fact that I need to deal with it and knock that bill out already even if I don’t really want to (I don’t).
Part of me thinks that I shouldn’t spend any money at all since I write this personal finance/frugality/debt-free living blog. I kind of feel like I’m betraying this side of my life when I spend money, even though I did the work and got out of the debt that was weighing on me so heavily.
I was surprised when I got to talking to some fashion bloggers at a recent clothing swap and we were talking about this issue. I told them I felt guilty if I spent money and they were saying they felt guilty for encouraging consumerism and the “want, want, want” nature of our culture by doing their fashion and shopping posts. It was totally eye-opening to see that I wasn’t alone, and that the guilt runs rampant ;) throughout the blogging world, even in completely opposite blogs and sites.
But then I think, “Why did I want to get out of debt in the first place?” It wasn’t so I could have a life full of guilt! It was so I could have freedom! So I could have autonomy. So I could do fun stuff without the guilt of over-spending and getting into even more debt. So I didn’t have to have that cyclical remorse anymore.
More than anything I got out of debt so that I could have a good life. Now, without the debt hanging over my head and grabbing mega chunks of my paycheck every month there actually is more money for fun stuff and not the pretend credit money that I used to have and rely on.
Having a good, fun, nice, happy, autonomous life was the point, and continues to be the point for me with getting and staying out of debt. I want to be able to travel, buy new clothes, and live in a nice house if I want.
What’s the point of going to work everyday, working hard to get yourself out of debt, working hard to keep yourself out of debt, being diligent day-in and day-out if you can’t enjoy yourself once in awhile? If you can’t reap the benefits?
Life is about learning, and growing, and enjoying (and probably some other stuff). It’s not about work, work, work.
Set your priorities, set your goals, achieve your goals, live the life you want and don’t be bound to the crap you don’t need to be thinking about anymore (debt).
What kind of life do you REALLY want to live? What’s your biggest motivator to get out of debt?
Have you heard about SpringCoin? I found about it recently and it’s an interesting concept. They offer online budget management with a twist: it’s aimed at consumers who are struggling with debt.
SpringCoin compares a client’s debts and spending patterns, then recommends a manageable monthly payment to erase the debt. SpringCoin’s software compares your debts with your income and spending patterns, and then it spits out recommended monthly payments to help you pay down your debt.
That, I like.
For the month of April SpringCoin is giving away free lifetime accounts to And Then We Saved readers. Follow this link if you’re interested.
Have you tried any online debt management tools? What do you think about them? Do they work for you?
It’s that time again. It’s starting to be nice out more and more consistently. Running around the park and neighborhood is doable again because of all this light and warmth.
Heck yeah light and warmth. Heck yeah.
So what to do about that gym membership? It feels like such a waste (and is) to have a membership and not use it. To pay for ANYTHING and not use it is ridiculous, right.
Last year, I was able to “pause” my membership for the 3 hottest summer months (the months that I’m outside more anyway) where I’m more active than usual and don’t want to be inside anymore than I have to.
The other part of it is I don’t know if they’ll let me put a “pause” on my membership again. I vaguely member them saying it was a “one-time courtesy” thing. So if they can’t pause it should I out-right cancel the membership and see how I feel about continuing/re-starting the membership in the fall?
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?
I found a crazy good deal on a flight online (is there any other way these days?) so I went on a little trip to visit my very good long time friend and see her two cute little boys (one I’ve never even met before, and that was too sad). I’m staying at her and her family at their house and we’re eating from the grocery store. Since I won’t have hotel, restaurant expenses, or the cost of a rental car this will be an inexpensive trip. Heck yeah for good friends and budget traveling!
Since I won’t be posting here the first part of the week check out my Twitter @andthenwesaved, Facebook, as I’ll be linking to some of my favorite archived posts. I’ll also be on Instagram @andthenwesaved (what’s up Android users) so check those feeds out for updates.
Have a great Easter and I’ll see you next week! xo, Anna
p.s I’ve officially decided that the award for most filling, cheap, quick, healthy, and consistently available airport meal is the Starbucks oatmeal. I do mine with all the toppings (they don’t cost more so why not?) and I have them add a little extra water to make it less poridge-y. For $2.53-ish it’s officially the winner of Cheapest Travel Food.
I never play the lottery but last week I saw that the Mega Millions was up to $290 million so I bought a ticket. The slogan they have of “If you don’t play you can’t win” came right to my mind (that’s a sign of a great slogan, since it came to mind right as I was considering if I should buy a ticket or not).
So, I bought a ticket. Now, it looks like no one won last week’s drawing so the jackpot is up to $500 million!?!?!
With all the talk about the Mega Millions jackpot not being claimed last week it got me thinking about if I should put my name in the hat again this week. I can see this being a slippery slope since I don’t ever really do things in moderation. Have you noticed, moderation isn’t really mything? I could see myself getting into a habit of wanting to enter every week, and thinking, “Well, it’s just a dollar!”
It’s so incredibly fun to day-dream about winning. How life would change and how it would stay the same (and if you would even want it to stay the same).
I freaked out when I found out an acquaintance of mine had won 6 million dollars in the Colorado Lottery 10 years ago. He keeps in on the down-low (for obvious reasons) and you would never guess that he won from just meeting him. He’s so down-to-earth and he’s a genuinely nice and kind person. He even let me interview him about THE BIG LOTTO WIN. I also like looking at this gallery of other former lottery winners and day-dreaming that I’m one of them;)
What would your plan be if you won? What would be the first thing you would buy? Who would be the first person you told? Are you buying a ticket?
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!!
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