About the Spending Fast ®

**December 29, 2009**

My idea is to go on a Spending Fast for a year – spending money on necessities only to see what happens, how much debt I can get out of and how much I can get into savings.

When I mentioned to a good friend that I was thinking about going on a spending fast for 2010 she sighed and said “Well, that doesn’t sound very fun.” Then, I told my husband what I was thinking about doing and he wasn’t very excited about it either. He said “Great. No more fun. No more eating out. This is gonna suck.”

I have to tell you, I feel the same way. Who would want to not get want they want? I’m the type that buys what she wants when she wants because I work hard and I feel like I deserve it. I know plenty of people who have the same feelings as I do about work and money and spending and not spending.

Inside my head I hear this loudly: “YOU DESERVE IT DARLING!” and truly, I believe that I do. I mean, I woke up early for goodness-sake! I did what was asked of me and I was even nice while doing it! I DESERVE that super cute trinket or hat or whatever from Etsy dammit! Besides, I work a full-time day job AND I run a full-time wedding photography business AND what else can I think of? I do a lot and my spending is justified… until it isn’t anymore.

When I was planning for our wedding that took place in May 2009 my dad gave me a little chunk of money that I could use as needed for wedding stuff. I got really used to having that money around. Being able to spend like I wanted helped me morph a kinda-bad habit into a super-bad habit. And once the wedding rolled around and things changed from “planning the soon to be fond memories” phase to the “Oh, remember that?” phase… guess what didn’t stop when the planning stopped? My spending.

And.. that’s where I am today… starting January 1st 2010 I’m gonna spend money on necessities only and I’m fully prepared for this to suck.

My Spending Fast ® Wants and Needs List

So, I know some of you are thinking “Well… you’ve got to spend SOME money this year don’t you!?” and my answer to all of ya’ll (imagine that with a southern twang) is “Yes, I will have to.” Oh yeah, I’ll HAVE TO. Force me why don’t you. I imagine that this will kind of be like a person who is in Overeaters Anonymous who must still eat but can only consume the “right” stuff. Where it would be a whole lot easier if you could just eliminate it completely from your life.

The goal of this whole spending fast is to get my spending back on track, save some money and get rid of a lot of the clutter and time sucking that comes along with having a lot of stuff and buying the new stuff. Managing it, maintaining it, cleaning it, rearranging it, you know.

Plus, I want my priorities to go like this: people and relationships are #1 and I don’t want things to be at the top or even close to the top of the list. Where as now, that can become questionable sometimes.

Setting up my priorities like that makes sense.

Obviously, situations will happen this year that I won’t be able to predict, so I’m gonna have to weigh those unexpected situations and remember that my motto has to be “Make Do and Mend” rather than “Make More to Spend More.”

Ok. So. Here is the brutal break-down of how things will be going down this year:

What I will have to spend money on (My Needs):


Utilities (keeping lights and water off as much as possible; keeping the thermostat at 68 and wearing a hat and long johns inside, if needed)

Cell phone (taking the internet off of it)

Food (store-bought, off brands, in season fruits and veggies and only when I run out of stuff in cupboards)

Gym membership (local gym, it’s reasonable and health is important)

Doctor co-pays


Photography exhibits (done inexpensively)

Car payment

Some gas

Bus eco-pass

Box hair dye (hey, I have needs)

What I’m NOT spending money on (My Wants):

Gifts (sorry friends and family… homemade crafts or re-gifting will be happening. Hopefully you all like macaroni magnets.)

Coffee at coffee shops (sad face)

Clothes (remember: “Make Do & Mend!” and in honor of that I need this. haha!)


Etsy stuff (another sad face)

New make-up

Eating out


New business cards (I have a bad habit of getting new ones because I like a different design better)

Coats (see Clothes above)


Bed linens


Fancy html email service (down-sizing it)

Decorative house stuff

Fancy haircuts at fancy hair shop

New music from iTunes

There you have it. There’s no way it can be completely comprehensive but I think it’s a good start.

And, my new name is Mrs. Cheapskate. Nice to meetcha’.

 Get started now and change your life forever! Take the Get Out of Debt Pledge today!

Spending Fast is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.

above image by Erin Hanson


224 thoughts on “About the Spending Fast ®

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    1. Zehra

      I think this is a great website – you won’t believe how many people I meet as a financial advisor who need just this sort of thing – this is going to be part of my much recommend resource list from now on!
      Much appreciation.
      Zehra Mahoon

  1. Randa

    Thank you for this, you have motivated me – I AM GOING TO DO IT! I have to get out of debt, it haunts me, and I can’t wait to put your plan in my life. Thanks for the tips and plan!

  2. Carol Ann McElyea

    Loved your website. Thanks for creating and inspiring others. Nice to have a few online “friends” who are trying to learn to live within our means.

    My husband and I decided to take a step backward in order to have more
    security in our lives; and we’re buying a dblwide manufactured home. We’re
    excited about this change and being able to have less going out each month.
    My biggest problem now is trying to figure out how to cut down on my clothes. To me they’re “friends”; it must be something needy there, though
    I have many clothes and friends. But in new home, will have much less closet
    space, and I have a great deal of trouble letting go, though haven’t worn some for years. Help! Any suggestions? Thanks, Carol Ann

    1. Anna, Author - And Then We Saved Post author

      a couple of ideas for dealing with your sentimental clothes:
      – take pictures of the clothes so you can remember them without the clothes having to take up space (and time)
      – host a clothing swap with friends and since you said you don’t have space for more clothes just donate the clothes into the “swapping pot” and then…
      – donate the clothes to a womens domestic violence shelter or a thrift store (be sure to get a receipt for the tax benefit at the end of the year)
      – give the clothes to friends that truly like them (as opposed to just giving them clutter and more to take care of themselves)
      – bring the clothes to a “buy-sell-trade” shop like buffalo exchange or scout: dry goods and trade. if the stores accept the clothes they will give you the option of receiving money or trading so you can pick out new items.

    2. Beckie Jazo

      Hi, I hang onto my old clothes that I haven’t worn for many years because I thought one day I’ll be able to fit into them again. But my full walk-in closet problem goes much deeper than my first reason. After much thought I now know it is because my parents couldn’t buy me expensive outfits; I had to make everything I wore in high school. You see, my father had muscular dystrophy and he used the small amount of money he made as a barber to buy homes in Goleta. Little did I know they were to go to me and my 2 siblings; we each received 2 houses each after our parents passed. I understand now.

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  4. Guro

    Hallelujah! Your website is just what I’ve been looking for! :D After going through endless blogs with tips on how to save money that are simply common sense, your blog is actually full of really helpful, inventive ideas on how to save money, and, more importantly, you have actual tips on how to WANT less, which is my main problem. I am planning to go on a spending fast for 6 months to clear my credit card debt, and the “Want too many things – need to want less” is spot on. My first step is to cut my own hair – can you believe that a regular, 20-minute haircut in Oslo, Norway, costs $160!? Buying a bigger flat in about a year is my goal, I hope I make it! :) Thanks for a super great blog! Love from Guro, Norway.

  5. Chelsea

    This is an awesome idea! My husband and I have become accustomed to being able to both save and spend more the past couple of years because of our blessing of a living situation. (No rent or utilities – only insurance and bare minimum cell phone payments.) I’ve been trying to mentally prepare myself for the near future, you know, the one with bills, so this would be a great diet! The only thing I would caution women about is the makeup. If you’re planning on not buying any new makeup for a year, you’ll either have to cut out some at some point, or make your own. Here’s a guide to how long different makeup staples last: http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/natural-beauty-fashion/photos/how-long-does-makeup-last/best-face-forward
    I’ve begun buying fewer, better quality and natural makeups, and I’ve saved money that way. Thanks for the tips and inspiration!

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  7. Em

    Great blog!

    Just wondering…during your initial spending fast, what did you do about things like, say, trash bags and light bulbs? Regular, everyday items that need to be replaced or often purchased, but that don’t fall into any of your ‘needs’ categories?

    Looking forward to your answer!

      1. JMK

        For your next BD or Christmas, when someone ask what you’d like, ask for a gift card for a home improvement or department store. You’ve already acknowledged that you don’t need more stuff in your life, so if someone wants to give you a gift, ask for something that will reduce an expense for you in the future. Each year at Christmas, when asked I suggest a gift card from a bookstore, restaurant or my favorite clothing shop. Books and eating out are completely non-essential, but a fun treat once in a while. I rarely buy clothing – if nothing wore out then nothing needs to be bought. But sooner or later something is beyond repair and has to be replaced, so that year I ask for the clothing store gift card and shop the after holiday sales.

        1. Sarah Bullard

          I buy our trash bags at Costco and havent needed to buy bags since spring of 2019! We also learn towards low waste, and only go through 2 bags a week at most, so they last longer than in most homes.

          Bags used for aluminum and tin get reused after they go to the recycling, and all cardboard goes into a tote to be taken in for recycling… Those 3 items would take up a lot of space in a garbage bag!

          My main point was goto Costco or have a friend that has a membership pickup your garbage bags. :)

          1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

            Thank you so much, Sarah. Those are great tips.
            Please consider joining our community, where we share info like this all the time.
            Happy Holidays!
            Here’s the link: SpendingFastersGroup.com :)

    1. FrugalShrew

      Trash bags need not be a necessity. I have not bought a conventional trash bag in years. I use small trash bins around my house, which allows me to use plastic shopping bags as my trash bags (and also encourages me to create less waste to begin with). I have also seen folks who have “dry” trash bins — basically a trash bin in which you don’t use a bag at all. And of course, increasing recycling and composting helps decrease what goes into the trash. These are not overnight solutions, but the process of reducing your trash output can be a lot of fun!

  8. Cindy Wilson

    Hi there – I loved your post about cutting your own hair. Would you be able to do a similar post on how to color your own hair? I was surprised to read that you do it at home and would love tips, as cutting out trips to the salon = huge savings.


  9. Nichelle

    This is so fantastic! The new year is just days away and I am commited to starting the year saving. I’m in grad school to become a 2nd grade teacher and working full time. Next year I will have a minimum income and I want to save all I can instead of spending loan money. My husband is great at saving and we jsut got married so I would like to feel as comfortable as he is. I’m in! So glad I found this and thank you for sharing your story. <3

  10. Jane

    I need all the help I can get–thank you for this inspiration….

    At 63 years old, I am trying to live more on my own terms. This means working less, spending more time on my own personal growth and having energy and time for those I love. This will not be possible unless I totally change my spending style and recognize the richness of frugal living.

    Thanks again.

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  15. Julia

    I would like to know how that first year turned out. How much debt (roughly) were you able to eliminate? How much (roughly) were you able to save in addition to eliminating debt? I REALLY like this idea and would like to suggest to my husband that we try it out to a certain degree. However, without some hard numbers to present to him, I don’t think it will fly in my house.

  16. Casey

    I just want to tell you how excited I am to have stumbled on to your blog after seeing “56 Things To Do..” on Pinterest. At first I clicked on here thinking “Oh cute! another fun blog.” But then I saw what you are all about and my heart almost exploded with excitement!! Sure, I love design, DIY and even the occasional lifestyle blog as much as the next girl, but YOURS is the content we ALL need to be reading! I am excited to present this concept to my husband and share your blog with my pals! eek! :)

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  19. Joy

    Pretty good, except you don’t need the gym. That is a luxury. Run in place, get a jump rope, take a walk, buy some weights at the thrift store.

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      That’s the cool thing about the ‘Wants and Needs’ list, each one will vary based on what is a priority in each person’s life. For me, I just don’t end up working out much at home so the gym qualified as a need. I know it wouldn’t on appear everyone’s list and there are tons of great, free workout options out there (thankfully!). :)

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  21. Nicole

    We have been debt free for 4 yrs now thanks to the Dave Ramsey teachings by rklfinancial.com (Shaun Somers) but I have decided to take it one step further and thanks to finding yor website thru Pinterest I’m now challenging myself to a spending fast! Ive been an emotional spender. time for change! Thanks for putting Yourself out there!

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  23. Alexis

    Thank you so much for your awesome website and all these great tips! I’m doing my own spending fast for the month of January and have found a ton of help and inspiration through your blog. I’m updating on my meals and eating on my blog through the spending fast, since that’s my husband and I’s biggest expense, aside from rent. Thank you so much again for all your inspiration!

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  28. Paula

    Thank you so much for the information in your blog! We really needed to read it. We lucked up on finding it but I will begin following your blog. We really need to get out of debt and start saving. We are on a very fixed income and neither of us are able to work but I do have things that can be sold, especially clothing. We will be making lists of needs and wants and will stick to them. No more spur of the moment buying for us, only necessities. Thank you again!

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      I’m so glad the blog is helpful. Selling clothes is a great way to clear out a lot of stuff and space. I love getting rid of stuff and its even better to make some money from it! Let me know if you have any questions about the Spending Fast.:)

  29. Michelle

    Yes, i’m in! i am beyond thrilled to start this.
    Thank you so much for this blog and all the great info you’re putting out there and being so candid about your own experiences! It really puts everything in to perspective.
    I just basically gobbled up everything you’ve posted and am so pumped to make this commitment.
    There will be tough moments for sure but hey, I’ve often noticed that after 10 minutes of having left a store without a purchase, I can’t even recall why I needed those “must have shoes.”

  30. Emily

    So I did it! I couldn’t quite do a fast like you but every month I wrote down how much I made and I kept track of every dollar I spent and I sent to difference to my student loan company and I paid them off 14,000$ in less than a year! But now I am still broke and I feel like splurging because I have been denying myself of wants. Any tips for a budget after paying off the debt?

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Hi Emily, You paid off $14,000 in less than a year!!??!! WOWOOOWWWW!! You’re so awesome!! I was in the same boat as you after the year of the Spending Fast so I started up the Spending Diet. Maybe it will work for you too as a good seque into “normal” spending.

    2. Jane

      Hi Emily–

      Congratulations–I am impressed!!

      I find that changing how I spend is a lot like trying to lose weight. If I am too restrictive, after a while I start to splurge (binge). For me, the trick is to plan treats and to make sure they are the best they can be. For example, if I am craving chocolate, I buy a piece of the best chocolate I can find and take the time to fully savor and experience it without guilt.

      This goes along with mindful living in all realms.

      Hope this is helpful.


    3. JMK

      Start up a savings diet. Now instead of paying off a debt you can stash the cash for something you want (vacation, car, house downpayment etc). Give serious consideration to putting aside a set amount regularly for retirement savings. The sooner you get that money working for you the better. Most people figure they have it all covered if they save 10-15%. Yes that’s great. But if you are used to a total spending fast you may be able to add some fun spending back into your life and still save more than that 15%. Keep in mind saving 15% gets you to retirement at 65. Given a choice is that when you’d chose to retire? Personally I want to retire ASAP so we save as much as possible. Our one splurge in an otherwise frugal, barebones budget is that we take a major trip every year. Other than that the spending plan contains only essentials. We decided that our priority was early retirement and new cars, restaurants, 300 channels, trendy fashions had absolutely no appeal to us, particularly if they came at the expense of retiring early. We didn’t move to this lifestyle by choice at first. An unexpected layoff cause an emergency over haul of our spending and cutting to the basics (an involuntary spending fast). The job was quickly replaced, but the excersise of assessing what could be cut for the short term showed us how much we’d been wasting in crap we didn’t really care about. So even after the job was replaced, we’ve carried on with the bare bones spending plan. We’ve just passed the 4yr mark and at this point I’d struggle to remember what we used to spend our money on.

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  41. Amanda

    You’ve inspired me to save before I even start having to take out student loans! I am going to spend my summer spending lightly to save more money to go towards tuition next semester. I know it’ll be worth it in the end. :)

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  44. Rachel

    This sounds glorious if you make enough money to put most of your income towards your debt. What happens if you aren’t left with much after rent, utilities, groceries, and student loans as it is? I shop sales and use coupons more than anyone else I’ve ever met and I still can’t get ahead. I suppose the only solution is to find a higher paying job :/

    1. JMK

      Yes, I higher paying job will help. If you love your job and don’t want to change for the long term, consider an extra part-time job for a short time just until the student loan is paid off. If there is truly no spending you can cut, then do a temporary earning blitz. Yes, working an extra job on top of your normal one stinks but so does debt. If you apply all the extra income to the debt it will disappear pretty quickly.
      FYI – if you have a fuel efficient car consider pizza delivery. My son delivered 2-3 nights a week his last year of highschool (with my car) and when I helped him file his income taxes for the first time this spring I was surprised to see he’d made over $8k (less the gas he repaid me). Apparently the one girl that worked there made the best tips, so you might do even better.

  45. Emma Nichols

    Hi there Anna,

    I read your webpage, it was a real inspiration. A friend sent me a link to your page because I recently started my own type of spending fast/diet – and have been blogging about it! I’m one and a half months in, and I LOVE the ideas you’ve shared for how to have fun for free. I’m from New Zealand, but so many of them are applicable over here! I just wanted to say thanks so much for sharing your story. If you happened to want to read about mine, here’s the link: http://asoflatelyivebeenthinking.blogspot.co.nz

    Hope you’re keeping well and your spending diet is empowering you like it is me.

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  47. Tricia

    Like most of the other replies here, I want to say a huge THANK YOU and let you know that you are such an inspiration! I’d like to share my story with you: At the age of 19, I signed up for what I thought was a part of the “American Dream” aka college aka student loans. At that time, I had no idea how this decision would impact the rest of my life. At the end of my college career, I ended up with a mind-blowing total of about $130,000 in debt at the age of 23. I’ve been out of school for almost two years now and FINALLY landed a full time job as a graphic designer last week. While I’m extremely proud of myself for this accomplishment and for the fact that my career actually utilizes my college degree, I can’t help but to feel that I’ve completely doomed myself for life because of the amount of debt I’m in. My monthly payments to my student loan lenders are so significant that I fear it will not allow me the financial freedom to do things in life that I’ve always dreamed of like travel, have children, buy a house, etc. because I’ll never have enough money to do them. I managed the payments on my student loans for the first year, mostly because of a well-paying temp job. After the year-long temp job ended and jobs were few and far between, I started deferring payments by any means possible and that’s where I’m at at this moment. I lived paycheck to paycheck, relying on my wonderful parents and fiance for financial support when I couldn’t pay my bills on my own. And then last week I found your blog, and landed my full time job all in the same day. I’m starting the spending fast so that I can finally feel like I have control of my life. With the promise of a steady paycheck and the inspiration I’ve found here, I feel confident that I can overcome the consequences of the decision I made years ago. Again, THANK YOU!

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Isn’t it a shame that our culture is set-up so that we are expected to take on massive amounts of debt for our educations? I really wish there was another option.

      Congratulations on your new job and I’m so happy that you’ve decided to have a different kind of life. It’s really empowering to realize that you absolutely can change your life starting right now. I am rooting for you all the way!

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  52. Melanie

    Hello Anna, I found your website by accident and am glad that I did. :) My husband has about $19,000 of student loan debt currently. His initial student loan was about 20,000 in 2007, and we have been paying monthly the minimum due since 2008 when the payment was due. I feel overwhelmed with interest, cause technically we have paid about 13,000 since 2008. Did you have a lot of interest accrued also? Did paying large sums cut back on both principal and interest of your student loans? These student loan companies are pretty UGLY!!!!

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Hey Melanie, Yes, I had a lot of interest accrue as well. I paid as much as I could as fast as I could to the highest-interest rate debt while paying the minimum on the other debts and continued that process until all the debts were knocked out. If you pay the highest-interest rate debts first then you can help to avoid those interest accruals. Hang in there, it might take some time but you can do it!

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  55. Meg

    I’m about to be a junior in college…I just bookmarked this and I’ll be back in two years haha. This is great!

  56. CalystaL

    Just curious, how did you decide on paying highest interest card vs. smallest balance first. I have read elsewhere that if a person pays off their smallest balance debt first it will keep them motivated to continue paying off debt because it makes them feel like they are making progress.

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Hi, I decided to pay the highest-interest rate debt 1st so that interest wouldn’t continue to accrue. I can see how paying the smallest debts 1st would be motivating but for me, I decided it didn’t make the most financial sense. There are a lot of methods to paying off debt. You’ve got to go with the one you feel the most comfortable with :)

  57. Jane

    To ad to the post by JMK re: Birthday and holiday presents…

    My family renews my membership to the non-profit classical radio station to which I belong (WQXR in NYC) every Christmas/Hannukah. I can listen guilt-free and have a year of wonderful music to sustain me. I can’t think of a better present.

  58. Prue

    Love this so exited to start ! I’m in about the same amount off debt , can’t wait to clear it in a year and have money in the bank .

  59. marji4x

    This is rad! My husband and I just started doing this (only we knew it as The Total Money Makeover, from Dave Ramsey’s book!)

    So excited to hear of more people doing this!

  60. Melissa

    Hi, thank you for all the time and effort it takes to share all this helpful info!
    I’m in for a Spending Fast for 18 months. A long time, I know! I’ve racked up several thousands on clothes, shoes, purses, high end makeup…
    It’s really weighing on me so I feel I need to take drastic steps to reduce or eliminate it.

    I have a question though – you said no new makeup. Do you mean you will replace the things you use now that you use up (which in my book would make it a bona fide need) but not buy any different items, or do you mean you won’t buy any makeup at all and when it’s gone you just do without?

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      For me, I didn’t replace the makeup because I happened to have makeup from the past that I had bought, turned out it was a little “off”, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it because it was technically brand new. I just used up all that wacky makeup.

      Keep in mind that my “Wants and Needs” list could look drastically different from yours. What is/was a priority in my life may not be a priority in yours. That’s the beauty of the “Wants and Needs” list you can make a list that reflects your priorities in life so you have a better chance of actually sticking to your debt-payoff mission.

  61. Olivia

    Hi there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but
    I’m having a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.

    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

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  67. Marissa Pilon

    I feel like I am in a very similar situation at the monent & happened upon your site from a Pinterest post. Your site makes me feel like it is possible to get myself out of debt I made mistakes in my past that put me in this debt and am determined to get myself out, I think this method is going to get me to that point!

    Thank you

    1. Tammy

      Thank you for a very inspirational blog! I wish I had found you earlier. We have had our place for 6 years and are on track to pay it off next year. It has required quite a lifestyle change for me as I was addicted to trinkets, clothes, purses, and shoes! Now I think of most of those things as excessive and wasteful. I buy things to replace those that wear out rather than to spend money. We have continued to go to dinner – within reason – and do things we enjoy. Our focus is on paying off the house and saving for early retirement which is targeted for our mid 50’s. We are focusing on quality of life rather than quantity of stuff! Very thankful for my wonderful husband who is the inspiration for the plan and who keeps us on track! If you are thinking of doing this, YOU CAN! Just remember that stuff is just stuff.

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  69. Mary

    I love the idea for this blog & it has inspired me to change my lifestyle! however, i find it so funny you have ads all over your blog for clothing comanies ect. ! hehe :p

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      I too see the irony. I’ve had to find a way to make a little bit of money on the site or I wouldn’t be able to continue to run it. Also, there are a lot of readers who, like me, have found their way out of debt and who are now able to spend “normally”.

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  78. adina job

    Thank you this is a great blog post. I’m the type of person that spends their money before they even have it. So I think it’s a smart idea that you’ve made up the “spending fast” and lists to help maintain your money. Although a few of the things on your list would be different to mine, such as the boxed hair dye but we do have a few similarities. I would completely agree with you that you can’t cut out your wants totally but you can defiantly manage it.

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  80. Melody

    First: I love the site. Second: I am in graduate school right now for a career that requires licensure at the post-graduate level. While I love what I’m studying, I am already panicking over what will come out to be at least 80,000 in debt (and that is while working part-time). Any recommendations for what to do WHILE your debt is still accruing? I know it sounds a little backwards.. Thanks!

    1. Ben

      I would start applying her ideas immediately, don’t buy anything you don’t absolutely need. I just recently graduated with a degree that required five years of schooling and have over $100,000 in debt. Looking back at it I wish I would have been extremely frugal while in school. I probably could have got my debt down to the $85,000 mark.

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  83. amstincan

    I love your site! Following a divorce and subsequent return to school, I racked up an unbelievable amount of debt. I’m embarrassed to admit that things were unfortunately so bad that filing bankruptcy this past year became the only option for me. Three jobs and robbing Peter to pay Paul just for the needs! I felt like I was drowning. Filing bankruptcy is not something I believe in, and I felt a lot of guilt over the decision. I still have obligations to pay my car (only 4.5 months left), student loans and a short-term loan on the 1970 Airstream that is my home. My ultimate goal is to be completely debt free and to never ever find myself enslaved to debt again. I already feel much freer after simplifying to the extent I have. Your site has such great tips that I find helpful to keeping my focus and commitment. Thanks.

  84. Betty Lung

    I am in debt and need a good way to get out of it and your plan looks like a great idea.
    I do not have a computer at home and am using library computers. Is there a way that I can print out the steps of your debt program and take them home to work my own plan? And to study yours to see if I can make mine close to it? This would help me a lot to attain my goal.

  85. ole joyful

    Sort of like being in financial handcuffs – though I’ve never been in any real ones, I have no desire to be in any, but the financial ones, as you’ve learned, are a pain in the patoot.

    If we don’t boss our money – likely it’ll boss us …. our bossing comes now, and if we don’t do it well, the money bossing us often comes later.

    When the debt gets paid off … after living more normally for a while, consider starting at least a partial fast later for a while to build up a financial cushion, an emergency fund: helps one breathe more easily when a spending emergency develops.

    At 85, with a mile of garden row whose produce I take to a couple of churches, asking folks to add more to the offering plate, and social agencies, plus son, landlord and self, and thankful to have the health to do this, I live frugally by choice, rather than necessity … so the investments are more or less “play money” now, that’ll pay my way if/when I need to live in a retirement/nursing home.

    As missionary, helped refugees with nothing get back on their feet after the Korean War, so learned what the really crucial necessities of life are.

    On the day you start work: hands and brain at work, no money.
    On the day you retire: brain and money at work, no hands.

    Good luck with this new adventure, when you choose to start it, says this old financial adviser, formerly clergyperson.

  86. DDMc

    Love this article. I need to be debt free asap. I did notice there is no charitable giving. Should I suspend my giving?

    1. Blaze

      Give your time rather than your rmoney.
      If you or your family are in financial difficulty and don’t address the situation ASAP you may be the one receiving the services you have been supporting. Address your situation and then you’ll be free to allocate funds to charity knowing you aren’t risking your family’s financial stability. In the meantime volunteer your time to the charity or donate un-needed items around the house. Cash is only one way to help out and right now you have your own emergency situation.

  87. Elena

    Congratulations on your success with alleviating debt, going back to the basics and being creative. Necessity is the mother of invention. I really like your writing style as well.

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  89. Nicci

    Thank you so much for all the great tips/advice! I was wondering if you have internet and/or cable in your home? If I didn’t have to be an adult (and parent) I’d have internet at the very top line of my Needs List, I feel so dependent on it and I hate that. The internet is my main source of entertainment and my kids as well, but I know it’s unhealthy sitting on my butt on the internet all the time, but I can’t let it go. I am considering trying at least a month with no internet, but then again what will I do in place of it? See, this is how my inner dialog goes as I debate the pros and cons of the internet. Lol.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      We do have internet, and we did have both internet and cable throughout the Spending Fast and Spending Diet. We only have the very basic cable and internet packages. If you don’t have the basic I would suggest phasing down to that for a month then the next month try going without cable and internet. It might be hard at first but just like most tough things it will get easier with time. Worth giving it a shot. :)

  90. Evelyn

    Thank you, Anna! I’ve already made some changes by cutting the chord from satellite tv and watching programs on Hulu Plus. I also downgraded my cell plan to save an extra $15.00/month. Hey, every penny counts. Also got rid of my landline which was costing me $50.00 and now using voip phone service for $13.00 month. You’ve motivated me to do this! :)

  91. Sue

    Hi, I am assuming that insurance was on your “needs” list? And that water and garbage were covered in your rent? I am enjoying your site very much! Thank you. :)

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Hi Sue, Yes, insurance was considered a Need but didn’t make it onto the original list. I considered water to be under the utilities umbrella and we don’t get charged a garbage fee where I live.

  92. Jamie

    Thank you for blogging! I’ve used your blog page several times to do small two-week spend fasts this year. For November, I am gearing up to do a full Spend Month! These are difficult to do, but there are no large commitments in this month and I don’t holiday shop so this should be wonderful.
    I’m using the month of October to gear up for it…I know I can’t completely kick my Starbucks habit so I’m earning Swagbucks giftcards.

  93. Candy

    Just came across your blog.. Loving it!
    Wanted to just comment that your profile pic is GORGEOUS! I think you are really, really pretty!
    That is all ;)

    Candy from Canada
    (On Pinterest: Candy, Minimalist Wife)

  94. Jenna Michelle

    Made the list of debts a’ la your snowball discussion. Current total is $137,000 (OHMYGAWD, I know, right?!?!). I will definitely be putting your Spending Fast to the test! :)

      1. SavvyMama

        Wow – this is super interesting. I think I am half way there -but around the holidays – I get a little soft – I love this and I deserve it – oh just one more treat. I think I will try to do a Christmas season fast and see how far I get :)

  95. Leslie K.

    I started a spending fast Nov 1, 2014. I am doing very well. I had to buy some Xmas gifts for family so that was a bummer on my wallet. Now that Dec 1 is just around the corner, I don’t have to spend any unnecessary money. Just sticking with the regular monthly bills, food, gas and that’s it. My goal is to pay off $66,000.00 worth of debt by Dec. 31, 2015. I have everything figured out and I fully believe I can do it. I plan on retiring end of 2016, therefore my focus is real. I don’t need anything. I just need to focus 150% on my 3 debts and have them all paid off before I retire with a nice savings account too. If I have to work till end of April 2017, I will just to make sure the savings account looks good. Being on a spending fast is actually fun for me. I know I can do it because I have made a commitment to myself. Remember YOU are in control of the money and either you want to be out of debt for good or you want to be like most Americans and stay in debt forever.

  96. Maria Conde

    Today starts the rest of my life. I am going to do it. I am going to pay my debt in 2 years.

    I have 40K in debt. I had lots of fun spending (clothes and traveling mainly) but now it feels like a hangover, a dead weight that brings a lot of anxiety and worry to my life. I AM COMMITTING RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW TO PAY 40K in 2 years. Thank you for the support from your blog.

  97. Kate

    I am starting my Spending Fast today. I have a credit card and a student loan, and they will both be paid off by the end of 2015.

  98. McPhee

    as of this very morning, we are consumer debt free. over 30K start to finish and it took a little over 20 months. your blog was the inspiration to get rid of debt for good. and now we save!!
    thank you!!

      1. Rob Walker

        Today is going to be the first day of my spending fast and I want to do this as I am sick of the pressure of today’s spending lifestyle. Thanks for the encouragement

  99. Michele

    What did you do about clothing for your son? We have 2 boys who grow out of clothes every season. I can figure how to go no new clothes for my husband & me, but the kids are harder to figure out. Used clothes work some, but I always find they need some basics

  100. Sarah

    I really want to start this process, i have $12k in student loans and $7k in credit cards. I badly want to get out of debt and save money for my future. I have questions about how this works when you have a significant other. I am not married but in a serious relationship. He is completely supportive but when it comes to going places for his friends and family do i make exceptions and pay for this or do i rely on him to pay? i don’t want him to think I’m not supportive if i don’t go places for him, but I also find getting out of debt important for his and I’s future together. Any tips or pointers?? Thank you

  101. Sarah

    At the beginning of the year I was over $15,600 in debt. I took a second job and went on a spending fast. I’ve put my nose to the grindstone. Now I am down to $2,650. It will all be paid off by mid April. I’m so proud of myself.

  102. Elena

    Speaking of “stuff is just stuff”: I’ve gone through several life changes in mid-life that have opened my eyes to this!

    In the last five years we’ve experienced a lot of losses of our parents and family passing away, and what is left of them? Stuff! I look at my belongings in a totally different way, now. Some will be delightful for my kids, others…NSM. I’m shedding the NSM stuff. I look at all of my household goods as stuff that a relative will have to sift through in the future, when I go. From that angle, a lot of it can go NOW.

    I also let go of a lot of stuff when we relocated across the US last year. The expense of a x-country move makes some stuff a lot less precious. Another way to choose what sentimental items to keep and which ones go: Would I pay $5,000 to move and/or store this and other keepsakes in a relocation?

    Thanks for your blog. Your words and those in the comments are inspiring.

  103. alfonso

    Excited to get started on this tired of this debt adding up including a car accident that added to it hopefully now I can begin the fast !!

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  105. Dani Sullivan

    Hi Anna, I love your site and your posts are always super help…. I just want to ask how can you advertise STITCH FIX given the nature of your blog. I have watched many friends and co-workers get themselves into serious overspending situations with subscription services like this one and others. Seems like playing with FIRE! I understand that your ads and sponsored content, allows you to do your great work, so I was wondering how you see someone working the fast or diet and using services like this. Thanks so much! Dani

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  118. Christina

    What did you make in a year that could allow you to save that much? I want to get as large a down payment on a house as possibe, I think the same rules apply, I want a house far more than a Sunday at the flea market(right?)

  119. Beth

    I love this! I just wrote a post about ways to find money in your current budget by cutting out little things like some of the ones mentioned here (gym membership, etc). Great post! xx, Beth

  120. Kayla

    $34,127.54 in debt (car loan, student loans and credit cards) and ready to commit!

    Your blog is inspiring! I can’t wait to be debt free! :)

  121. Laura

    I am making the final touches on my spending fast plan and keep getting caught up on my 401K. I was about to finally start contributing in 2016, but only $50 per month. I am starting to view my contributions as I view my savings in the fast: first debt, then savings (minus the $1,000 emergency fund). Would you recommend holding off and putting that money towards paying my debts? Any guidance is greatly appreciated! Thank you for providing a wonderful source of information and support!

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Hi Laura, when I did my Spending Fast, I threw everything at my debt to try to eliminate it as soon as possible. Best of luck as you get started! Looking forward to hearing about your progress. :-)

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  130. Ray

    So, I am somewhere between a spending fast & diet. I bought 4 coffees out this month, and one small gift for a friend who had a miscarriage.

    I think the key for me is to pay the debt first, give myself $100 wiggle room and then STOP.

    I was $13,000 in debt when I started March 1. I have so far put a whole $1900 toward the debt.

    My goal is to try to be out of debt within the next 6 months. So far I am on the path to getting there!

    As it turns out, I have terrible spending/saving habits, and I am excited in 6 months to turn the debt payments into savings!

  131. kaspar

    Awesome site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any user
    discussion forums that cover the same topics talked about here?

    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get advice from other knowledgeable
    people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please
    let me know. Appreciate it!

  132. Jen

    It would be helpful to know your yearly salary so I could have a better understanding of what percentage of your income you are spending on debt. I make 28,000/year after taxes and have $80,000 in school debt and I am finding it hard to figure out what is realistic. Most blogs, like yours, talk about how much they pay off in how much time but fail to mention their salary, a huge factor.

  133. Danielle

    Tonight my husband and I decided to follow a strict budget. I even created a Monthly Budget using Excel. We happened across an article that discussed your site. It definitely gives me hope that I can be debt free in one year. It’s my plan to follow your Spending Fast for the whole year to pay off $19,600 of debt. I am even taking on a second Full-Time job so by the end of the year I will also have some money saved.

  134. Mary

    My debt totals around 30,000 including a car payment. I have never, at age 51, not had debt since age 18. Time to get rid of it, pay off the mortgage and relax……

  135. Lauren

    Super inspired! I have been toying with the idea, but wanted to see someone else’s “rules.” Making the needs vs wants list will be hard, and getting my husband on board will be harder. He is a craft beer lover and brews his own. I may be alone on this one :)

  136. steveakahuey

    New approach for me,i’m,Wondering how deep is this well im bottoming out . My. Alleged golden years, have turned to fools gold. Thx for your book, ahll be baack

  137. Marie Hart

    This is such a great idea. I think I will give it a try starting next month. Thanks for helping me to find a way to get rid of debt in a simple manner.

  138. Nathalie

    Hi Anna, I stumbled across your book and ordered it. I was impressed of how you were able to get out-of-debt and most importantly, realizing that you are a spender. My debt resulted in job layoff, but I found another job, but the pay was less, which caused financial strain. Creditors are not forgiving and I found myself constantly robing Peter to pay Paul. This monthly endless haggling had become exhausting and I need a good night’s sleep because the first thing that pops in my mind when I wake up is my debt. I have posted my pledge and written down my debts and I pray that my creditors will have the patience to allow me to pay everything down in a timely manner. My most concern is my auto loan, which I am on the watch for repossession. I recently got hired full-time and the salary is higher. My start date is 01/29/2018. I will start my pledge of paying off my debt on February 15th. I love the website and I have requested to follow on Facebook. Thank you for inspiring me!

  139. Antionette Finnels

    Love this idea. My children and grand children will not understand me. They are going to think I am sick.

  140. Barbara Jones

    I’ve just read your “not spending on” list and must say in the last 15 years I can truthfully say I do not spend more than 200/year on any of those items. BUT what I have a difficult time with is items to improve my home. Having downsized from a $1000/month mortgaged home to a $330/month mortgaged (bought “as is” home helped financially but I have some improvements that must be done to get it to code and more liveable. Materials to build shelving in the cellar to keep stored items off the occasionally damp floor, enclosing the carport to be able to keep yard and garden, bike, and car maintenance items out of the weather and unseen by possible thieves. Getting ratty carpetting replaced with ??. My favorite stores is Lowe’s because, although I spend there, I do all my own remodels. Do not think I can Fast but still NEED to diet. I appreciate all you have created and are posting and will be continuing to read everything I can to help me get rid of the over 70000 credit cards, car, school, personal, and home loans so I can survive Social Security living which is right around the tight bend! Thank you

  141. Edward

    I read your story online and I’m definitely doing the Spending Fast. I have about $6k in credit card debt and cash is really tight right now. Especially preparing to pay for a wedding , and still have child care, truck payments and rent(& utilities). I have a question should I wait until December is cleared from my 3 month bank and credit card statement? It seems like the figures would be skewed if I included December’s statement in my fast.

  142. Ashley

    Like so many others, I too have purchased your book after listening to the audio version I borrowed from my local library. My spending fast will commence May 14th. Currently, I am $30, 532.55 (and counting) in debt. This includes a $14,813.33 car loan, $5,922.26 in student loans and 7 credit cards. I honestly thought, I had a grip on things as I was able to make my monthly payments and even at times put in a little extra. I also paid off a few other credit cards and thought everything was fine. I now realize that I’m on a ship that’s taking on water and pretty soon I’m going to get tired from trying to drain it by the bucket full. I’m committing to one year of the spending fast. I’m 32 years old and I do not want to reach my mid-thirties with this debt. I’m hoping the spending fast will reacquaint me with my old love of writing since I will have a lot more free time coming up.

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  144. Esther

    Hi Anna
    Budgets feel too restrictive and make me think about money all the time and cause me to overspend (Strange, I know), and I was wondering if it was just me and got on the internet and found your website. I felt so understood.

    Some months back I did something similar to a spending fast and it worked. Only difference is that my spending fast was monthly, to help me reach my goals easier.

    Budgeting has helped me learn about my mistakes and has helped me know myself so much better but I don’t want to be doing it anymore. After figuring out how much money I have left every month after paying for rent, utilities, food, etc, I’m simply chosing to save some of the remainder (even if it isn’t much) and use some of my money on things that make me happy.

    Not thinking about money all day has reduced my money-induced anxiety.

    I’m going on a spending fast again this month. No clothes for me until autumn/winter comes around.

    Nice to meet you and hello everyone!

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Hi Esther. I’m so glad you found us and feel we got you!
      Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope you join our Facebook community. We would love to have you there!! Here’s the link: SpendingFastersGroup.com
      Have a great weekend.

  145. Nathalie Argueles

    I love this post but just a tip… you should really write longer articles. I hear it helps a lot with getting new visitors. And I think your writing style would keep people really interested in what you had to say about all of this

  146. Kellie

    I just so happened to see this article. REALLY interesting stuff! I’m going to jump in and try this. Thank you so much. Added you on Facebook too!

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Hi Jamie! Thank you for your comment ❤️
      Are you in our Spending Fasters Facebook group?! Here’s the link: SpendingFastersGroup.com
      You will find a community and more resources for the journey.


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