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.
♥ Follow me on Pinterest and/or Instagram (@andthenwesaved), and then leave a separate comment below letting me know you have done so.
The Giveaway will end on Wednesday, May 2nd at 8pm Mountain Time. When you enter please be sure to leave your email address in the fields where it asks for it so I can have a way to contact you if you win.
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?
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: email@example.com. (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)
If you don’t know me by now, I’ve got to tell you I’m officially a major cheapskate. That means I’m ALWAYS on the look-out for things to do around town that don’t cost money or are super, super cheap.
So, when I got the flyer in the mail yesterday from Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art and I saw that this Friday night, March 30th they are having a 10¢ entry fee for their newest exhibits (mainly photography) from 8pm to midnight well, I got a little excited.
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you’ve already seen this link that I shared earlier in the week BUT it’s so good that I have to post it here too. Just don’t want anyone to miss out on the crazy amount of FREE stuff happening in town!
Saturday night’s Accessories Swap was so fun! The thing I love most about swaps is that you can de-clutter and get rid of stuff you don’t want, to get stuff you do want! Plus, it’s a fun and different social thing to do with friends.
I’ll be sharing more photos and stories from the swap soon but wanted to share these short fun videos with you. The first video is all the Big Buddha handbag giveaway winners (they ended up giving away 8 bags instead of the 3 we were anticipating!) And the 2nd video is from right after the swapping began.
Westword (a local paper in town) covered the swap here and a fashion blogger who writes the site Fashion Folio covered the swap here.
Handbags.com and I have been working hard on prepping the event to make it a success. We’ve noticed and have heard from past swapping events that everyone seems to want things to be very fair so that has been our primary focus (along with making it a lot of fun!;).
I wanted to let you know of a couple of the things we’re doing to try to ensure the fairness of the swap and to make it a quality event for everyone.
Inspectors This one is all about quality control! No one wants to bring in a pair of $100 amazing shoes and only have broken earrings to choose from.
No one will be allowed in the swapping area before the actual swap begins We want everyone to have the same shot at getting those most desirable items so we’re keeping the swapping area separate from the attendees. This way no one can scope out the best of the best items before everyone else.
A few other quick notes/updates
Social tags Use hashtag #303Swap on Twitter and Instagram. Also @andthenwesaved and @handbagsdotcom puh-lease;)
Entry Fee Just a reminder that entry fee is $5 CASH. We’ll have limited change on hand so if you can bring the exact amount that will be super helpful. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to SafeHouse Denver so you’re helping a good cause too.
Parking The first 100 people who arrive at the swap will receive a free parking voucher at our check-in table. Be sure to park in The Curtis hotel parking garage. Also, here is a link to directions to the hotel if you need them.
Giveaway Bags Handbags.com will be giving away 3 Big Buddha bags to 3 lucky winners! They’re all valued at approximately $100 and I’ve gotten to see a sneak peek of them and I want them all. They’re all really cute! The winners will be announced at 9pm and you must be present to win. To enter the contest go to the handbag design area and submit an entry (there will be more details at that station;)
Items Bring great items that you would give to your best friend or sister after you’ve gotten sick it. Also, only bring items that you’re ready to part with.
Make a night of itThe Corner Office is a bar and restaurant attached to The Curtis Hotel.
Drinks The bar in the swap will have beer and wine. The first 50 people at the swap will receive 1 free drink voucher.
The swap will be in the Peek-a-boo room within The Curtis Hotel. Ask any of the hotel staff if you have trouble finding it. We will also have signs directing you to the swap.
Name tags Everyone who is working the event will have a name tag so just ask one of those people if you have a question about anything.
Restrooms When you get off of the elevator the restrooms will be to your right.
the last swap. don’t bring clothes to this weekend’s swap, just accessories;) Some FAQ’s
“What if I bring more than 10 items?” Feel free to bring more than 10 items (especially if you’re questioning if some of them will be accepted). If you bring more than 10 then you can still only take the max of 10 items. For example, say you bring 13 items and all 13 are accepted you’ll still only be able to take 10 items and not 13 items. If you want to include the 3 extra items in the swap that’s up to you, but you don’t have to. All of the items that are still left at the end of the night will be donated to SafeHouse Denver so the extra items will go to a good cause.
“What items will be accepted?” We want everyone to have great items to choose from so if you’re not sure about a certain item you can bring it and just see if it’s accepted. There’s no harm in that and please, don’t take it personally if an item isn’t accepted. It has nothing to do with your awesomeness;)
“What if I don’t have 10 items to bring?” If you only have 6 items, just bring 6 and then the max amount of items you can take will be 6 (or whatever number of items get accepted).
“How does this work? How does the actual swapping happen? So, do I stand next to my items?” When you arrive you’ll check-in and then you’ll be directed to the inspectors table. The inspectors will tell you how many items are accepted and will give you a little tag with the number on it. That’s the max amount of items you can take. Your accepted items will then be taken by another person and will be organized by item type. Shoes with shoes, earrings with earrings, etc. We’ll make an announcement a little before 7:30 and then after the announcement/welcome the swapping will begin! Everyone will be able to enter the swap area and the exact same time. You won’t be able to stand next to your items since they will already be pre-sorted and will be in various spots throughout the swapping area.
“Will someone be checking to make sure we each only take the the right amount of items?” The swap is based on the honor system. We trust that everyone who attends will want it to be a fair and honest event.
“How can I see the photobooth photos?” The photobooth images will be at: proofing.newelljonesandjones.com you’ll be able to view all of the photobooth images 3-4 days from the date of the event and you can also purchase the prints online and they’ll be mailed directly to you.
“Can only women go?” Men are more than welcome to attend but there won’t be many (if any) men’s accessories. If men do happen to have women’s accessories they’re welcome to attend and swap if they want. Also, there will be lots of other fun things to do so men are welcome to come and hang out and attend the event too. We’ll have cupcakes, a DJ, photobooth, a bar… lots of fun stuff. No one is excluded!
“What’s the price range of the items that I can/should bring to swap?” People will bring items that range from $5 bucks to over a $100 bucks. You can bring any item that is in great shape and is awesome, regardless of the price of the item. Again, just be ready to part with the item.
“What happens at the end of the night?” At the end of the night (9pm) you’re welcome to take any of the items you brought that haven’t been swapped. The items that are left will be donated to SafeHouse Denver.
Also, The Denver Post wrote an article about the upcoming swap! How great is that!!?
That right there is our 2 1/2 year old horrible futon. We bought it for $30 bucks from a couple in the suburbs that lived in a house tucked away in a neighborhood I’ve never heard of. It was by a highway and they had a car in their driveway that had those vinyl decals on the side of it that advertised their dog healing/dog grooming business. I wondered how they healed dogs and what their favorite type of dog was but since we were on a mission that day, I didn’t ask.
We were told the futon had lived in the husband’s “man cave” and it had been covered the entire time with a protective sheet. “So”, they told us, “it’s in really great shape”. We didn’t have anything to sit on in our new apartment so we decided for $30 bucks, “Why not?”
Over the course of the 2 + years we’ve had that thing it had become a thin pancake. I couldn’t sit on it for extended periods of time because the slats hit every part of my body in just the wrong way. During a movie, I’d grunt, sigh heavily, and tried to not be too annoying as I adjusted and re-adjusted while trying to eek out some kind of comfort. I would pull every pillow from the bedroom and closets and I’d get into the camping gear to find the mini pillows, I’d pull off the pillows from the chairs around our apartment, and I’d stack them up to build a sort of nest/barrier as I tried to put any amount of distance between me and the uncomfortableness.
See that picture up at the top there? That was right before a movie. I’m telling you, it was a mess of a couch.
We didn’t think we’d be in this apartment as long as we have been and when we bought the futon we didn’t think we’d have that for long either. Oh, and did I mention that my huge, amazingly comfortable and beautiful couch which was my very first “adult” consumer credit card purchase didn’t fit into this apartment? We really, really tried to get it in but, long story short: weird wall placement by door entryway in small old apartment + mega couch = don’t mix.
muchh better, muuuuucch better
The other day I decided we could no longer deal with that nasty ass (man cave, remember?!), crazy uncomfortable futon/couch anymore. Plus, oh by the way, an Ikea opened up in town so maybe they had something cheap/cute/not painful? I convinced my husband that it was time to make the leap and be done with the futon for good! So off we went.
Plus, honestly, the futon always kind of embarrassed me. Using a dingy futon as our couch while we’re in our 30′s just feels a little, rough. Like really rough. And you know I’m more than okay with roughing it, getting by, and making do but when somethings past it’s limit, it’s time to move on. At some point you gotta ask, “How worn out does something have to be to replace it?” My answer is: if it doesn’t work anymore, you can’t make it work, can’t hire someone who knows how to make it work, or if you use it all the time, then you might need to really replace it.
Frugal living isn’t all about suffering and deprivation, it’s about saving where you can so you can buy what you need when you need it.
We found a reasonably priced small charcoal colored couch that took 3 hours to put together (I had no idea that couches could come in a box! did you?). It makes me feel like we stepped it up a bit and Thank God that futon is OUT OF OUR LIVES. FOREVER.
Bonus: we sold the futon on Craigslist to a nice gent who thoroughly inspected it and decided he liked it. He said he works in an office all day with computers and that what he really likes to do in play in his band that plays cover songs. He added that they also write their own music too. He told me that he likes artists and that he worked in a toy store a few years ago. He drove a black truck and when the futon was all loaded it hung out of the back of it. I watched as he drove away with the bane of my existence and I hoped he would have better luck with it then we had. That’s also right about the same time that I realized we actually made money on that couch. So we bought a pizza.
How do you know when it’s time for an item to hit the road? Do you have an item that’s on it’s last leg now? Do you find good things on Craigslist? What’s your favorite kind of pizza?
Linda Bejamin Pardee de-cluttered her space and ended up with a major tax write-off as a result.
“Charitable donations: It all started with the purse museum. image courtesy of linda benjamin pardee
Okay, I admit it – I love purses. It’s my thing. They always fit even if I’ve eaten a few too many chocolate truffles. They come in all colors, shapes, and sizes and they’re so damn pretty!
So when I started the Spending Fast, my first commitment was: ‘No New Purses!’ I also realized I wasn’t using several of my bags and that selling them might help bring down my debt. I listed a few of them on eBay to see what would happen. Some sold, some didn’t. Since my PayPal account is tied to one of my major credit cards, the ones that did sell went immediately toward paying down the balance on that card.
I held onto the purses that didn’t sell for about a month, all the while thinking ‘now what’? Having just started the Spending Fast I was in a downsizing frame of mind and not just on handbags but on clothes and shoes as well.
I started researching charitable donation centers in my area (Los Angeles) and found that the National Council of Jewish Women, which has several ‘second hand’ stores, has a reputation for giving top dollar receipts on donations. I bagged up the unsold purses and some old clothes and made my way over there. A few weeks later I received a tax receipt in the mail. My donation brought in over $350 in tax deductions. I couldn’t help myself – I went back into my closet and started looking at the things I’d been on the fence over donating.
I got serious and honest with myself, and I decided that I only wanted to keep what I really used on an everyday basis. The frenzy had begun.
Once I was finished with my clothes closet I started looking at everything in my house differently. I started in the kitchen and got rid of all the items I had stuffed in the back of the cupboards. I had duplicates of everything from mixing bowls to flatware. These things were just taking up space. Then there were books. A goldmine of books I wasn’t going to read again! I boxed them up. Our old futon in the guestroom was a landing strip for luggage – it had to go. I donated lamps and old bath towels that I’d long ago stopped using and was holding onto in case my nieces finally moved out of my sister’s house and needed them. My husband thought I’d lost my mind but went along with it.
Last month I started organizing paperwork in preparation of having our taxes done. I totaled up my receipts from the charitable donations I’ve made over the last several months, and I have a write off of a little over $2,100! Needless to say, I’m thrilled (and I have really clean closets too.)
As for my love of purses, let’s just say I cover my eyes when I walk thru department stores . . . ”
Thank you Linda!
Do you utilize charitable donation write-offs on your taxes? What’s the biggest charitable donation you’ve made in a year?
Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: 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.)
Are you looking forward to a tax refund this year? I’m one of those people that really likes to get a tax refund because it’s like a bonus chunk of money! Whenever I tell my dad that he says, “The government is getting an interest free loan on YOUR MONEY!” He goes on to say that if I’m getting a refund back each year then too much money is getting withheld from my paycheck every month and that money could be going to things I need each month (or into savings and collecting interest for me) instead of adding up and collecting interest for the government. And, really, I know he’s right. He usually always is… but, I still can’t help but get a little happy when I get that fat check back.
I mean, it is NICE.
So once that check arrives, the question then becomes: “Should I save it, spend it, or pay off debt?” You probably know what I’m going to recommend… yep, pay off that debt. It can be hard to put that money towards the debt (I know how hard that is!) but it’ll just help to get the debt paid off that much faster which is the goal, and, oh, SUCH an AMAZING accomplishment!
Debt-free living is where IT IS AT.
Today, Mary Ann is sharing what her and her husband do with their tax refund (below).
image courtesy of mary ann
My husband and I spent our early years in a cycle of spending and then every spring we would pay off our debts with our income tax refund. This is not a practice I endorse today, especially given the economic state of our country. We have worked really hard to change that dynamic and the spending cycle. Today we live within (and below) our means since we are preparing for retirement. The benefit of our debt reduction is that we have many more choices as we prepare for the small windfall coming our way once our taxes are filed.
In 2010, it was reported that the average income tax refund was over $3,000 and that is up 10 percent from a year before. Since the 2010 Tax Relief Act extends through the end of 2012 many of us will see some extra money this spring.
This is what we do to maximize our tax refund:
Apply credits and itemize
I’ve learned that itemizing deductions is the way to increase our refund check. In order to make some smart choices, I consulted the IRS calculator. This gave me a general idea of what to expect for our return and once I’ve finalized and filed our tax return we like to take the time to think about and discuss what to do with the money that will be coming our way.
Analyze debt and pay off debt first
Although we have tried very hard to reduce our debt load, unexpected things do pop up. So we survey our financial situation and organize our debts into two categories, those with high interest rates and those with low interest rates. Thankfully, we are no longer saddled with college or car loans and while our first instinct may be to use the windfall for that big screen TV or a trip to Europe that we have been wanting, we know now that living within and below our means is the only way we will truly achieve financial freedom in our retirement.
It has taken many years and a lot of discipline to get where we are today. We’ve learned that making small strides towards financial security gives us a great feeling of accomplishment.
About Mary Ann: Mary Ann Rosenthal is a grandmother to four beautiful children under the age of five. She is dedicated to helping her friends and family save money and works with her son Aaron at CyberMondayDeals.com. She is also an artist, writer and aspiring photographer living in Saint Augustine, Florida.
Thanks Mary Ann!
Are you expecting a tax refund this year? What are your plans for the money? Will you be paying down your debt or going on a splurge?
Checking out the recent pledges over at the Get Out of Debt pledge page is nothing short of inspirational.
Here is a huge group of people who have decided that they have had it with their debt. They’ve decided to do something about it. They’ve decided it is time to take action!
They have decided to FINALLY BE DONE WITH DEBT.
Down with debt!
Making the public declaration to become debt-free is a very powerful thing.
I love seeing so many people getting serious about getting out of debt, deciding to change their lives, and being pro-active!
Here are some of my favorite things that people are saying. They give me a little jolt of excitement and happiness. It’s electrifying to feel the energy from the words! I can feel it through the screen!
“Okay, I’m ready. One of my main goals in life is to be able to live without the anxiety of the next bill and the next and the next. I need to cure myself of some bad habits and put the credit card to bed for good.”
“This is scary but I know if you can do it, I can do it too.”
“I am ready to “take back my life” too and am determined to do this!”
“I’m in this & committed.”
“I am taking the pledge. I will get out of debt this year. I want to participate in the spending fast and spending diet and use both to their fullest uses.”
“Cheers to less stuff, more happiness and getting what I want from life.”
“I can do this!”
Are you ready too come on board? Here’s the link to the Debt Free Life Pledge. If you decide to do it too- I’m SO excited for you!
illustration eunice stephensonNext Wednesday, February 8th there is a Clothing Swap and Fashion Show happening here in Denver. It is sponsored by Goodwill, Inc. and Project Runway Denver-based design stars Mondo Guerra, Fallene Wells (check out her Kickstarter project), and Julie Tierney will be showcasing their re-purposed and upcycled fashions at the event.
I’ll be covering the Clothing Swap and Fashion Show for The Swapaholics (I love their slogan: “Retail Therapy Meets Recycling), and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll be reporting back on the event, and if you’re going to go too be sure to say “Hi”!
Everyday I wake up and look at this poster. It’s right in my line of sight as I stagger into the living room to head out to work. Since it’s also bright red it catches my eye whether I want to look at it or not, and it reminds me to keep going even when I’d rather not.
In November the Spending Fast was reactivated. I’ve mentioned that the Spending Fast is tough, and the beginning of it is the hardest part by far. All the habits are getting jolted out of place, all the auto-buys are being denied, all the quick-fixes are no longer happening. It’s hard to make these changes.
I re-activated the Spending Fast to tackle a medical bill that came up. Allergy shots were the cause of the damage and they ended up kicking my butt in the bill department. I set up a payment plan with the hospital and promised I would pay them $150 a month until the total bill of $2,556.96 was eliminated.
November was rough trying to get back into the full swing of the Spending Fast again (and I wasn’t totally perfect with it) but I’m happy to report that I saved $823.44 which is promptly being sent off to the hospital for the bill (new balance is $1,733.52). That’s about double what I was saving while doing the Spending Diet. That’s kind of huge, and proves to me that once again the Spending Fast works to help get rid of debt in a mighty fast way.
See my total savings and break-down from every month here.
Did you do the Spending Fast too? How’d it go? What’d you learn? What went well, and what didn’t?
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I have something to admit. It felt weird to say last week: ”I am now debt free.” It felt awesome- don’t get me wrong but also weird. I didn’t want it to seem like I was all “Oh, hey! LLookkk at me!! I’m DEBT FREE!” and, I especially didn’t want to make anyone feel worse about THEIR debt situation.
The Spending Fast, The Spending Diet and this very blog started just to try to get myself out of credit card debt. It all started as just a way to keep me accountable in my credit card debt elimination process. When this all started I had no readers. Zero. My mom didn’t even read it. She still doesn’t but that’s okay. She’s got her money so she’s happy.
I never ever thought that through this process I would ACTUALLY become debt free. That thought never crossed my mind. I thought I would die with my college loans. I thought I would MAYBE pay them off a little bit before I started getting a senior citizen discount but even that felt optimistic.
Living a debt-free life wasn’t a possibility for me. It’s wasn’t even remotely fathomable. Can not compute.
I thought those loans and that debt was as attached to me as much as my arms are.
They were there. They always would be. That was that.
1 year and 3 months ago I was $23,605.10 in debt and it feels a shit load better to be on this side of it.
I tell you all this to let you know that there is hope.
There is a way out of debt.
It can be done.
I was able to pay off my debt faster than I ever imagined possible. In a lot of ways it really feels like a miracle happened.
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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