Balancing Life While On a Spending Fast

balancing spending fast

This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.

In reaching for balance, we find alignment. -Sue Krebs

For the loyal ATWS readers out there, you may remember me from earlier this year. I started a year-long Spending Fast and immediately my extremist personality came out. I dove full force into the concept of becoming debt-free. Every second I wasn’t at work, I was posting everything I could live without on Craigslist. I was writing freelance articles for various contract writing sites. I was tutoring high schools kids in Spanish, basically anything and everything that would bring in some money. In the first month of my Spending Fast, I went from not being able to pay the minimum payments on my loans to making an extra $1,229.58 to put towards my debt! In only one month!

These extreme results fueled my “all or nothing” personality and I quickly became consumed with the concept of becoming debt-free. I would make spread sheets at work calculating how much I would need to pay per month to be debt free in a year, two years, etc. I rented books from the library about finance and how to manage your money. My life took on a new meaning. I started my own personal finance website (after seeing And Then We Saved and being so inspired). I ate, slept and lived all things related to money.

My outward life got much better once I moved back to NC in April. I had found an apartment that was extremely nice and definitely within my budget. I had (miraculously) gotten a job with a huge corporation in the area. I bought a new (used) car and for once, was no longer worried about getting stranded on the way to work. Oh, and I unexpectedly met the man of my dreams. When I told people I was dating again their response usually had something to do with me taking time to heal. But when you meet your One, who needs to take time? Answer: Everyone.

Balancing Life While On a Spending Fast…

After every dramatic, life-shaking situation people need to take time to grieve. I lost my former bulldog, Kaya, in June of 2012 and have just now, within this past month, faced that pain. It was obvious to everyone around me that I had not adequately processed that event, yet I chose to ignore that fact. The same thing with my sudden move home. It was an event that I will literally never forget; I thought I could stay busy and things would heal themselves.

I want to apologize to those of you who have been following me along my Spending Fast journey. I have not given up on the Spending Fast, but I did give up on myself for a bit. It is easy to play a role of having it all together, but much harder to face reality and realize you don’t.

While I have not stopped my Spending Fast, I did stop writing about it. I felt like a failure. I wasn’t able to put hundreds of extra dollars on my debt since the move because I was having to pay for things like trash cans and shower curtains. I was embarrassed that I had stopped selling things online so actively. I was trying to focus on learning my new job and learning about my new boyfriend and learning how to maintain living alone again and completely lost sight of myself.

No matter your financial situation, balance is something that everyone struggles with. I have recently had the opportunity to spend many nights alone and I highly recommend doing it. I have evaluated myself and the reality was that I had absolutely no balance.

The rapper Macklemore has a song out titled, Starting Over, which focuses on him confessing he relapsed after three years of sobriety. One of his lyrics states, “If I can be an example of getting sober, then I can be an example of starting over.” Although I have not relapsed into buying obsessive amounts of nail polish like in the pre-Spending Fast days; I have not been focusing my energy and time towards financial freedom.

I’m now trying to find the balance between life and my financial goals so I’m back to eating countless amounts of ham sandwiches and selling my DVD’s on eBay. Anna has said it before on the site and I’m finding it to be true throughout my own Spending Fast journey — The Spending Fast is simple but not easy — and, we can do hard things.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on being an extremist and also finding alignment.

 

In your life, when have you lost steam while pursuing a dream? How did you get back on track?

Chelsea Overton is in the midst of a Spending Fast® and writes about it from North Carolina with her bulldog, Xena the Warrior Princess, by her side. She also has her own website where she logs her journey towards financial freedom. 

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!

22 comments

22 thoughts on “Balancing Life While On a Spending Fast

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  1. Jane

    Hi Chelsea–

    The first and foremost recommendation I would make is to extend a great deal of compassion to yourself as you continue with your path. Any life change will have its obstacles and we will certainly falter at times. Being human is partly about understanding and accepting (not to be confused w/liking) those moments and moving on.

    I applaud your taking time for reflection. Meditation, journal writing, reading and other ways to search within can all help. When we do this, our actions can come from a more grounded and authentic place.

    Thanks for your honesty. This might be the best gift you can give your readers.

    Jane

    Reply
  2. Chelsea Overton Post author

    Hi Jane,
    Thanks for taking the time to leave such a wonderful comment. I appreciate the compassion and advice you extended.

    I actually just started meditating and it has already helped so much. Accepting a situation as what it is is vital to moving forward. That is definitely something that I had to take time to process.

    Not only am I excited about the future now, I am so excited about the present!

    -Chelsea

    Reply
    1. Jane

      Hi Chelsea–

      You are most welcome!

      Meditation and mindfulness tools/technique can be very helpful on many levels. I use these in my personal life and with my therapy clients. I put together a small bibliography with suggested reading in this area. If you would like–and can tell me how to do so–I could send you the booklist.

      Jane

      Reply
  3. Beth B

    Hang in there Chelsea! I’ve had a helluva year this year, and I’ve had to start over as well. The thing is, I think we (including myself here) expect a lifetime full of bad habits to change when we tell them to – and that’s just not how it works. We have to re-teach ourselves everything!

    I told my sister the other day, being an over-spender is like being an over-eater. It’s one of the hardest things to quit because you can’t just cut it out of your life. You MUST eat, and you MUST spend money. So it’s more difficult to fix than any other addiction, because you have to learn how adjust a habit that you have to keep doing!

    I think the most important thing is that we have to learn how to forgive ourselves for making these mistakes, and move forward from there. I’m working on that now with myself, so you’re not alone! <3

    Reply
    1. kap39

      Great point Beth! I’m almost done with my first month of the spending fast, and I’ve definitely struggled with not being able to go totally cold turkey – it’s easier to not spend anything at all, and I cringe when I have to pull out my debit card even for groceries!

      For me though, I think the habit that was the worst was spending mindlessly, and I can already see that habit breaking since I’m hyper aware of what i’m spending this month; so at least I can see some small progress there!

      Reply
      1. Anna Newell Jones

        You are doing great! The beginning of the Spending Fast is BY FAR the hardest part. You’re breaking all those habits, saying “no”, becoming conscious with your money, finding ways to cut-back… it’s tough but the sacrifices are SO, SO worth it!

        Reply
    2. Anna Newell Jones

      Such good points Beth! There are a ton of parallels with getting out of debt via a Spending Fast (or Spending Diet) and losing weight. I really wished I could cut ALL spending out too because I thought it would’ve been a lot easier than having to spend a little here and there.

      Remember to be kind to yourselves. Habits are hard to change and it’s unrealistic to think we won’t “mess up” along the way. The Spending Fast is about changing our lives so there’s a lot of change that needs to occur along the way.

      Pick yourself up, stay committed, and kick that debt’s ass!

      Reply
    3. Chelsea Overton Post author

      Beth,
      Isn’t that the truth! I’m trying to cut out many bad habits and get so frustrated when I cant just stop them. It is a humbling process to offer up forgiveness for yourself. Good to know I’m not alone! Thanks!

      -Chelsea

      Reply
  4. Alice

    Knowing that it’s possible to pay down $1,200.00 in one month may make a $100.00 month feel like failure, but be kind and remind yourself that a $100.00 month is still progress. Balance means that not all months will be $1,200.00 months and not all months will be $100.00 months … most will be something in between, but progress is progress.

    Reply
    1. Chelsea Overton Post author

      Alice,
      You have an excellent point, $100 towards debt is better than nothing! I have to keep reminding myself of that. Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate the encouragement!

      -Chelsea

      Reply
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  6. Stacey

    Hi Chelsea

    Fueled by a panic inducing job, career change, and lifestyle makeover, my own money OBSESSION has also developed into a money mission. I gave myself a new mantra- It is not a competition- and plastered it everywhere. It’s on my budget spreadsheets, my running stop watch, my planner(s). We have to remember that our goals are our goals- not our units to be measured by.

    I’m not saying it works all the time- I still try to “outrun” myself every morning, but like everyone else said, we must be kind, patient and forgiving. You’re doing great- hooray for life lessons!

    Reply
    1. Chelsea Overton Post author

      Hi Stacey,
      Wow, what perfect advice. I absolutely LOVE the mantra. I have been plastering “don’t be casual” around my home/work/life. I use it to remind myself not to get complacent…about anything. Don’t casually love, don’t casually stroll into work right at the time to start, don’t casually be a friend. I want to be the best of myself that I can be. I love your no competition mantra; it gets tough to remember that the goals you set don’t define you.

      In Eat,Pray,Love there is a quote that says something to the effect of, “you have to be patient with yourself when learning something new.” I think that fits me right now.

      Keep up the positive thinking!

      -Chelsea

      Reply
  7. Alice @ Earning My T

    Um yes. Me. Right here raising my hand. I have hit many walls with being broke and trying to waddle out of debt. This is so apropos ’cause I just wrote a post on this today on my blog http://earningmytwocents.blogspot.com/2013/08/letting-go-of-old-ideas-f-jones.html. Our household income is low because we are focused on getting my husband through school and I really want to pay for school and get out of debt and save for a house. But our income doesn’t support all that. Plus, having too many simultaneous goals is overwhelming and treading water is tiring. So we try to make some side income but that’s only a hundred or two a month. I need to up that for sure. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply
    1. Chelsea Overton Post author

      Alice!
      I loved the imagery of “trying to waddle out of debt” because that’s exactly how it feels. Keep your head up lady and, like you said, try to focus on one goal at a time. Too many can get overwhelming. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Chelsea

      Reply
  8. Lori

    Just wanted to say how nice it is for you to share how you’re feeling and what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s appreciated in more ways than one!

    You can do it, Chelsea!

    Reply
    1. Chelsea Overton Post author

      Lori,
      Thanks so much for the encouragement! I actually just picked up a second job to make extra “for-debt-only” money so that should help out a lot! I really appreciate the support!

      -Chelsea

      Reply
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