Total Spending Fast & Spending Diet Savings

Started A Spending Fast ®. Ended My Debt. You Can Too.

I paid-off $23,605.10 in debt in 15 months (!) on my $33,000. yearly salary as a clerk for the state. If I can do it, so can you!


Beginning Debt Total in January 2010: $23,605.10

Total Spending Fast and Spending Diet Savings: $26,361.60

  • Remaining Debt April 1, 2011: $0.00 !!! It took 15 months for complete debt re-payment.
  • Summary: $23,885.83 in savings because of Spending Fast/Spending Diet + $2,475.77 of “matched” payments by my parents for the college loan they had out for me = for a total of $26,361.60

Spending Fast Savings: $17,911.89

Spending Diet Savings: $5,973.94

The month-to-month breakdown:

Month 1- January 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $505.58

$ 430.58 is going towards an additional credit card payment this month

$ 75.00 is going to pay my parents for an additional payment this month for the student loan they took out for me years ago (read more about this in this here post). (also my parents matched my $75 payment to them this month)

Month 2- February 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $934.95

$ 75.00 for my parents for the college loan (my parents matched my payment to them this month)

$ 373.37 towards the final payment of the highest interest rate credit card. And, now it’s paid off!

$ 486.58 is going towards an additional payment for the next and last credit card

Month 3- March 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $360.95

$360.95 towards credit card

Month 4- April 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $1203.27

$30.93 actual savings which will go towards credit card (better than nothing I guess)

$1172.34 tax refund will go directly to pay credit card debt (without that this month would be a bust!)

Month 5- May 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $1073.70

$50.00 to parents for old college loan (my parents matched my payment to them this month)

$1023.70 towards credit card! (I think one more biggie payment & it should be paid off soon!)

Month 6- June 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $782.08

$782.08 towards last credit card & now it’s paid off! THANK GOD!! Never thought it would happen!

Month 7- July 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $790.69

$263.57 to my parents for the old school loan they took out for me (also my parents matched my payment to them this month)

$263.56 for my old school loan that I still have, maybe someday I’ll get that paid off

$263.56 to savings account!

… change of plans…

After thinking about it a bit more I decided that could actually get my parents paid off during this year of the Spending Fast which would be a huge accomplishment and a relief for them. So, the money I put it my savings account is now going to my parents (so my parents matched my additional payment to them)

Month 8- August 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $124.66

$ 124.66 to parents for old college loan (my parents matched my payment to them this month)

Month 9- September 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $259.93

$ 259.93 to parents for old college loan (my parents matched my payment to them this month)

Month 10- October 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $2,386.04

$ 1,364.05 sent off right to my parents for the old college loan! they are FINALLY paid off!!! (never thought that would ACTUALLY happen!!!) (my parents matched my payment to them)

$ 1,021.99 to my college loan company (it’s nice to start making a big dent in that debt)

Month 11- November 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $1,726.11

$ 1,726.11 sent right off to my college loan company! whoo hoo!!

Month 12- December 2010 Debt Paid-Off: $8,027.49

Okay, this month was VERY different – $ 6,727.49 right off to my school loan company!! Here’s why this is such a large amount- I applied for a public art commission and my photography proposal was (thankfully) accepted. It should be noted that I only applied for this public art commission because I was trying to think of new ways to make additional income to get my debt paid off faster. This is something that I don’t think I would’ve considered trying before the Spending Fast. Related post: Make More Money.)

$ 1,300.00 into savings which will be reserved for taxes

**After the year-long Spending Fast- $17,911.89 IN DEBT PAID-OFF!**

Month 13- January 2011 Debt Paid-Off: $258.92 

$ 258.92 to college loan company

Month 14- February 2011 Debt Paid-Off: $1,105.47 

$ 1,105.47 sent right off to college loan company

Month 15- March 2011 Debt Paid-Off: $1,072.14 

$ 1,018.58 sent right off to college loan company

Remaining debt balance- $0.00!– WHATTTT?!! I never thought that would actually happen!

$ 52.35 into savings account

Month 16- April 2011: $1,243.37 

$ 512.87 into savings account

$ 730.50 from tax refund- also put right into savings

Month 17- May 2011: $0.00 

$ 0.00 a big ol’ zero

Month 18- June 2011: $147.61 

$ 147.61 into savings account

Month 19- July 2011: $547.78 

$ 547.78 into savings account

Month 20- August 2011: $387.35 

$ 387.35 into savings account

Month 21- September 2011: $412.22 

$ 412.22 into savings account

Month 22- October 2011: $211.03 

$ 211.03 into savings account

Month 23- November 2011: $823.44 

$ 823.44 sent off right to hospital for outstanding debt (See this related post)

Month 24-December 2011: $324.49 

$ 324.49 into savings account


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  1. Heartfix // October 31, 2010

    Your husband is a lucky man, and I have no doubt your parents will be very proud of you! I did the Dave Ramsey thing, and can tell you it’s a great feeling to be debt free, and you will be there before you know it. I have friends at work who continue to dig into debt, but assure you it will be amazing to put over $1000 to savings every month when you reach the goal of being debt free. Enjoyed reading about you on Yahoo!

    • Wilhelmina // January 19, 2015

      Very inspiring , good work, I am in debt up to my neck, but from your hard work, I think I got some good ideas from this ,but at one time I didnt think it was possible but you have show us the way I have set a goal from this I will keep up with your inspiring story so that I can stay focus and on top of this goal I think this the best one I have read so far I will be keeping up with your story thanks for sharing

  2. Chris // January 14, 2011

    Although this is to be admired, there is no mention of what you spend money on. I don’t see expenses like food and shelter. I can’t imagine that those are free. Unfortunately, this is something that cannot be done in NYC…I’m still looking for ways to save and still have some dignity at the end of the day.

    • Anna Newell Jones // January 14, 2011

      Hi Chris, Check out my About The Spending Fast and My Guidelines. (here's the link). I do spend money on food and shelter and other needs and have managed to still have my dignity at the end of the day. It can be done. I can see NYC being tricky though. Best of luck!

  3. New Saver // January 14, 2011

    I think I can do this! You are an inspiration. It is January so it’s the perfect time to start. I renamed my savings account at my bank “The Future” today after reading your blog and will think of it when I make deposits each month after not spending. I’m up for the challenge!

    • Anna Newell Jones // January 14, 2011

      Hi New Saver! I LOVE that you named your savings account “The Future”. Too awesome.

  4. Tanya // January 19, 2011

    Congratulations to you, but I can’t help but think that you need to establish more ways to generate income each month. It seems that your savings are incredibly low or maybe your other fixed expenses are too high? And it makes total sense that you would go into debt. I mean, if you can only save $30 one month when you are on a spending freeze, what does that look like when you are not on a freeze? Seems upside down.

  5. The Kid // February 4, 2011

    Lady, this blog is incredible, and you are amazing. I’m actually shocked anyone is questioning (a) the amount you saved each month and (b) your transparency. Well, the anonymity of the internet strikes again.

    Life throws you unplanned expenses and only saving $30 in one month is unfortunate, but it does happen and doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.

    My curiosity is piqued though – I know it’s none of my business, but I wish I could know how much student debt you’ve got left. Every time you list having finished paying something off above, it makes me so happy!

    Good luck!
    the kid

  6. The Kid // March 6, 2011

    oh, amazing! that’s great, anna!
    man, I can’t wait to see what you do once you’re in the black.

  7. High Heeled Traders // April 2, 2011

    Super Cooool, girl! Super Coooooooollll !!! Congratulations! I can feel your great joy and along with your many readers, I feel so inspired! So now what are you going to do with all that “discretionary income”? I share my experience in investing and trading as a woman in — See you there!

  8. Nick // June 13, 2011

    I agree with NY, not from NY but you never do say how much you spend on necessities??? My total housing along without utilities is about 1700 a month, 500 car payment, insurance, utilities, no public transportation in my city, etc… This is not out of line with what others spend in my area… ust doens’t seem realistic unless you live in a very low cost of living place that has high paying jobs.

  9. Relative in PA // August 20, 2011

    Hi Anna,
    Just heard about your savings success from our mutual family. My daughter will need your expert advice on paying off college loans when she finishes her Master’s Degree next June. Keep up the great work and hope to see you guys on the east coast soon.

  10. Ali // September 5, 2011

    I would love to learn more about your public art commission. That sounds right up my alley.

  11. Terru // October 14, 2011

    Your figures don’t make any sense. If you pay money toward debt, it isn’t “savings”; you just spent it on things you bought earlier rather than on new things. It’s only “savings” if you still have it at the end of the period (i.e., it is still in your hands or bank account); you actually broke even (i.e., didn’t save anything and didn’t go into further debt) in the months you were paying your debt down. I think you’re deluding yourself when you say you “saved” money during this time, and further, if your parents “matched” your payments you shouldn’t count that against your debt reduction calculation/”savings” since either that was a “gift” or you need to factor in that “debt forgiveness” is subject to federal income tax. Your parents can’t “match” money you owe them; they can only “match” money you send to a creditor by sending that creditor the same amount. You either still owe them the money or you had debt forgiveness, and the IRS might have somethign to say aboutt that. In any event, you are applying some very sketchy accounting, for sure!

    • Anna Newell Jones // October 14, 2011

      Hi Terru, It’s “Total Savings” from the Spending Fast and Spending Diet as a whole. Also, you might be missing part of the story. My parents were able to “match” the amount I sent them for the debt that I owed them because it was owed to them and not to a creditor. Then I paid off the loans I had out for my college education.

  12. THE3K1D // October 15, 2011

    Anna, your ability to not get annoyed by trolls is really impressive.

    • Anna Newell Jones // October 18, 2012

      Hi th3k1d, I get annoyed for sure! I just try to breathe and remember that people say a lot more sassy stuff online when they don’t have to show their face.

  13. Deborah // March 23, 2012

    Hi, I saw you on the Nate show today. Wow, what an inspiration you are. I can see that you learned so much more than just saving money and disciplining yourself. best of luck to you and your family.

  14. Kate // November 6, 2012

    Anna, you are so inspiring. I loved reading your blog in 2011 and wanted to follow in your footsteps of not spending on anything but needs. My “wants” are many, and usually involve clothes, shoes, housewares, and books. I have two young kids so I have to factor their unexpected expenses in too, but I’ve been using that as an excuse (along with other reasons) for too long now. I have about $8K in credit card debt (gulp) and just learned that I have a $1400 car repair that must be done, and I feel despondent and demoralized. Your kind and encouraging words are so meaningful…thank you for making this effort and sharing what you’ve learned. I am so grateful and am committed, now, to really, really, getting rid of this debt that is like an anchor around my neck. I will read parts of your blog and Facebook posts several times each week, I am sure. And I can’t wait to know what it feels like to make the final payment on my credit card debt. Thank you again.

  15. champagne // January 21, 2013

    This is not only motivational but inspirational. My plan is to pay off as much of my school loan before I start school in September. Sadly, I only started to pay my loans when they threatened to report it to the credit companies. Plus I’ve heard in some cases they’ll garnish wages and take the tax return.
    As of the beginning of this month, I have been consistently paying my school loan and tomorrow I’m calling my cellphone provider to find the cheapest plan so I can save an extra 40.
    (Don’t mind my blabbing, I’m just happy to see other folks like myself trying to save some money)

    • Anna Newell Jones // January 21, 2013

      hey it takes what it takes. please, don’t apologize for sharing! we’re all doing this together! your voice is just as important as anyone else’s! xo

  16. amybeth786 // February 9, 2013

    I love the idea of a monthly log of your progress! I am starting that right.. now!

  17. Stacie S. // May 2, 2013

    Wow, what amazing results! I’ve been on my debt free journey for a little over 3 years and was cruising the web looking for some motivation to keep fighting the fight. Blogs like yours really help keep me going! Thanks for posting.

  18. HollyK // May 9, 2013

    Loved reading through this. I was wondering, when on a spending freeze, what did you actually pay for? Like gas, groceries, housing? What did you eliminate? My husband and I are digging our way out and have been doing ok, but we could do better.

  19. jacqueline // May 13, 2013

    Anna this is so great!!! My husband and I have been on a spending diet/fast for a few months. I have to say to all those nay-sayers out there, your excuses are just that. Until you are ready to commit to change, you will muter up every outside reason as to why it is not possibleW e focus on communication, positive reinforcement and good ‘ol pen and paper planning to knock out our debt. You cannot control emergencies (we learned) but most everything else is a choice. And once you realize this and start making real decisions on where your money is going, it is incredibly liberating!!!! I found in my experiences, when someone is judging you, they are running from their own demons. Keep being awesome, Anna!!!!!!!!

    • Anna Newell Jones // May 28, 2013

      So well said!! And I could not agree more! You have to REALLY want to be debt-free to be able to make the sacrifices that you need to to change your life forever. It’s not complicated but it does take commitment!

  20. Denise // May 18, 2013

    Just got through reading your blogs. Very helpful and inspirational. My goal is to be debt free of credit cards in 2 years. Son will be going off to college so therefore I need to be debt free of credit card in 2 years. Will try and go on a spending freeze for 2 years. Wish me luck!!

  21. Malea // June 11, 2013

    I just started a spending fast today. I’m going through August 20th for now, but I had already planned some things for Aug 20th to 30th that I can’t cancel. However, I am looking at ways of reducing costs for those things and that will be a diet period rather than a fast. Then, on the 30th, I will be back on the fast!

    I started today, and already made some good choices… I work at retail clothing shop, and a dress I love is only $12 from $60 after a sale percent off and the employee discount. I don’t *need* another dress, no matter how cute or inexpensive, so I said no after thinking about it all shift. I felt great about that decision by the time I got home!

    Then, I have a check to deposit, but the bank branch I go to is right across from a drive through Starbucks. I decided to hold onto the check and go to a different branch tomorrow on my way to my new (and better paying) job instead. I’m choosing a branch that is NOT near any of my temptations, but still on my route to work.

    I love how down to earth your advice is, and how it is matter of fact and friendly mixed together. So often I read financial advice and it is either technical or preachy and totally turns me off. Your blog feels like I’m reading something written by a friend. THANKS! :)

    • Anna Newell Jones // June 11, 2013

      Congratulations on this new adventure! It will completely change your life! I’m so happy for you!

  22. Deanne McMannis // September 21, 2013

    I keep 2 jars on my kitchen table to keep me focused on my saving. Every time I put money in my jar, I also put 10% of that amount in the other jar for my tithe to the church.

  23. Michelle // November 25, 2013

    I have to wonder, but where do you live? Do you live alone or with roommates? Do you have children? I like the idea that you have, but I am aware that this may not work for all of us.

    • Anna Newell Jones // November 25, 2013

      I live in Denver with my husband. I didn’t have a child when I did the Spending Fast or Spending Diet. It might not work for everyone but you can modify the Spending Fast to meet your specific situation. Create your Needs and Wants list based on your life… not mine. Your priorities will differ from mine and your list should reflect those differences. Try also to focus on the similarities in our situations and not the differences… that will go far.

  24. Krissa // April 30, 2014

    Thank you for the inspiration! While working 2 full time jobs and both having student loan debt, my husband and I need a plan. I have wrote down my plan tonight after reading your blog. I am amazed at how muffle I already spend (2 hair cuts a year, clothes from thrift shops, and so on and so on) but it seems like I can do better! Thank you!!

    • Krissa // April 30, 2014

      How little* I spend (darn phone)

  25. Angie // May 1, 2014

    Kudos to you for paying down your debt! I am curious about how much of it was from the income you made off of this blog. Not that there is anything wrong with that – in fact if you created this blog to chronicle paying debt and then paid it with income from the blog, I would say that’s pretty smart. But it does make it harder for your average reader to live up to.

    • Anna Newell Jones // May 1, 2014

      Hi Angie, I didn’t pay off any of my debt with income from this blog or from freelance writing. The majority of my debt was paid off by working as a clerk for the State of Colorado. Hope that helps!

  26. Nette // May 7, 2014

    Hi there
    I loved reading your blog. What you have achieved is amazing. It is 2014 now and I know you have a baby (congratulations!). What’s next? Are you still saving and if so to what end?

  27. Tambra // October 24, 2014

    I love this idea and have considered doing the diet version but the problem we are having right now is I had to take a $5.00 pay cut do to job change so now our debt to income ratio is upside down. Our debt is more than our income. Im in the process of trying to cut where we can like no internet, cable and its helped but still not enough to be able to pay extra or save yet.

  28. Brittany // December 1, 2014

    I just found your site and YOU ROCK, GIRL! I now have renewed hope that I can pay off mine and my husbands debt and start working towards the goal of our house being paid off! Thank you for this post, your entire blog is full of great information! I look forward to following you to see what you do in the future!

  29. Saving Sanely // January 18, 2015

    This is my dream! We are in progress on paying down about $150k in debt plus our mortgage. We have paid off $40k but still have a long way to go! Thanks for keeping hope alive!

  30. Salina // April 12, 2015

    I’m absolutely in love with your blog! I live in Colorado and I am currently a freshman in college and already wanting to learn how to get myself out of debt! My parents bought me a car but unfortunately it decided to just quit working (my luck). So now I’m stuck with student loans and a car payment! Just the thought of all my bills for being only 19 makes me sick, but your blog has inspired me to save up my money and dig myself out of this hole! :) Thanks so much!

    • Anna Newell Jones // April 16, 2015

      I’m so glad you found the blog, and I’m so happy to hear that it’s been inspiring to you! xo

  31. EByndom // May 7, 2015

    So what is the plan? Just pay off debt in large sums?

One Trackback

  1. By bloodstream on January 29, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    […] spending freeze. I found inspiration, like so many, from my fellow Denver blogger Anna and her blog And Then We Saved. Anna had a little less debt to begin with than I do and had parents to help her match her loan, […]

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  • Anna

    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!

    ⭐︎Come back throughout the day for updates.


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