“I Can Do Hard Things” – Spending Fast Update

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My twin sis, Kelly, has her Spending Fast update for you below. I think she’s doing so awesome with it, and I’m extremely proud of her! If you’ve thought about doing a Spending Fast before why don’t you make 2015 the year you do it? It’s time to get out of debt once and for all, and get on with living the life you’re meant to live! You can do this! – Anna

 

I’ve messed up a lot since my last post, mostly with eating out. I knew that would be a trouble area for me going into the Spending Fast, and I was right. But, overall, the Spending Fast has not been as hard as I thought it was going to be, and I’m making progress faster than I thought I would. Anna mentioned this before, and I’ve found it to be true too. It’s starting to get fun to NOT spend money. It’s like a game or a challenge to see how much throughout the month, and I like seeing how much MORE I can save.

Even though I haven’t conquered the Eating Out beast yet, I am starting to really SEE how much it’s been costing me and it’s kind of disgusting. Delivery is such a supreme waste of money. I’ve realized that a typical lunch out costs me approximately $10. Before the Spending Fast, I didn’t realize that I can get SO MANY groceries for that amount! Since I made that realization, every time I’ve eaten out it just feels bad and so wasteful. Time and time again, I’m seeing that when I end up eating out it is ALWAYS because I just didn’t plan ahead. It’s like, why am I surprised that I need to feed myself a few times throughout the day? Whatever. I just have to be gentle with myself. This is a completely different way to deal with money so it’s not going to change overnight. And I am getting better at it.

I mentioned in a previous post that I needed a haircut and the plan was that I was going to use a gift card that I had. Well, the gift card ended up being MIA so I cut my own hair using Anna’s How to Cut Your Own Hair tutorial. I used craft scissors (because that’s what I had handy), and I really like how it turned out! It’s actually closer to what I wanted for my last hair cut than what the stylist gave me. It turned out well but then I got a little over-confident towards the end and decided to cut in a few “face-framing” layers and messed up a little but when it’s tousled in its Alexa Chung way nobody is the wiser.

Realizing how easy it is to cut my own hair it makes me wonder why the hell have I been spending $150 for a cut and color all these years…?!!? I know that a good cut can do amazing things, especially on short hair, but for me, with my longish hair, I think that after this Spending Fast I’d be willing to get my hair done professionally once, maybe, twice a year, and then in between cuts I’ll just trim it myself, as needed. Also box color works fine to cover my roots and it turns out that my highlights still show through which I didn’t expect so hey, bonus on that too!

As we all know Christmas was last week, and I was worried about how I was going to handle presents along with the Spending Fast since I’ve got 3 kids. One of them is too little to even know if I got him something but the 4 yr old does believe in Santa, and he expected Santa to go BIG. My oldest is 10, and she knows about Santa and I was also able to talk to her about the Spending Fast so that was an entirely different situation. Throughout the years I had been storing away little things for future gifts for her (or other people), and I’ve got several boxes labeled GIFTS which I actually got into and used this year. I haven’t felt deprived since I’ve been on the Spending Fast, and I think that’s one reason…  I’ve had such a surplus of “supplies” that I’m NOT depriving myself of anything yet.

My daughter, the oldest, did ask me for concert tickets to go see Taylor Swift, and I struggled with that decision for an evening. Taylor Swift is one of the few younger singers that I can actually stand, and I’d love to take my girl to her first concert. I checked tickets and they were about $150 each for crappy tickets and $250 for good seats. I decided to not get her the tickets. Just for one year, I’m not doing it. Taylor Swift will come around again. I decided to give her a gift card to my store, Scout, for $50 and she will be able to get A TON of fun stuff with that. It’s not that I have anything against gifts, but they’ve always struck me as a supreme waste of money. I just feel like I’m throwing money away for some reason, I’m just being honest here. My kids and I have plenty of everything. I think of Christmas and birthdays gifts as just a bonus.

In past years, I’ve spent a lot of money on teacher gifts, with an average of probably $20 per teacher/babysitter and this year I decided we would make those yummy peanut butter blossom cookies for everybody. We got nice, smallish, white and green paper plates, and red cling wrap. We put about 7 cookies on each plate with a cute hand-made card from the kids and called it good. In the past I would’ve spent close to $200 for the teacher and babysitter gifts, and this year I spent $20. Savings: $180!

My family knows I’m doing the Spending Fast and they’ve been really supportive. I told them I wouldn’t be giving gifts this year, and it went over pretty well. (Probably because we all already went through a Spending Fast when Anna did her’s.) It was a relief that everyone was cool with it. My holiday To Do list was short and it felt good to eliminate a lot of the stress.

I did want to get the kids some stocking stuffers from Santa along with a few gifts for under the tree for Christmas morning from Santa. Recently, I got 3 checks in the mail from overpayments I made to 3 different places. (I used to pay my bills as they came in and started paying them once a month because Anna does that, and suggested I do the same.) The checks equalled $550. The smallest check was for $60 so I decided to use that one to get goodies for the kids. I wanted to avoid spending all of that $60 if I could. I ended up giving all 4 kids (my 3 plus Anna’s little guy, Henry) these stocking stuffers: an individual pack of mandarin oranges, plastic straw cups from the dollar section at Target, a package of peanut butter crackers, chocolate marshmallow and caramel Santa’s for .30 a piece, each kid got a coupon for a free Wendy’s Junior Frosty (around Halloween Wendy’s did a special where you could buy 5 of those coupons for $1), and a crisp $1 bill.  Each stocking cost me approximately $2.50 to fill.

One person that’s usually on my gift giving list is my significant other, and I was really stressed about how to handle that situation. See, the thing is, he’s a REALLY good gift giver. I love getting gifts from him because he always gives me things that are thoughtful and practical, and they’re things that I would never buy for myself but always end up finding them very useful. We decided we would do a little weekend away and that would be our gift to ourselves. We’re going to stay at an Airbnb place for additional savings (and adventure) and we’re just going to keep it simple, and focus on just enjoying each other’s company.

Since I started doing the Spending Fast it inspired him to suggest going gift-free Christmas with his adult relatives. Instead of exchanging gifts they adopted a family and donated the money to a nonprofit. Between 4 adults they put up $400. Then he found out that his company would match what they donated so a family that really needed essentials was able to get $800, all because my significant other and his farm decided to do a gift-less Christmas. That was an unexpected and cool side effect of my decision to do the Spending Fast.

I didn’t want the Spending Fast to dampen the holidays, and it didn’t. They were just a little different then usual. Not necessarily bad… just different.

I’m in this until November 5, 2015, and I keep reminding myself that I can do hard things. Because I can.

Hope you all have had a fun holiday season! – Kelly

 

How did the holidays go for you, financially speaking? 

P.S. An updated guide to cutting your own hair.

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

11 comments

11 thoughts on ““I Can Do Hard Things” – Spending Fast Update

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  1. Athena

    That’s great that you were able to stick to your spending fast through out the holiday season! Doing things differently can sometimes be even better. My holiday actually went really well and I was able to stay within my budget despite having some minor setbacks.

    Reply
  2. Gardenpat

    I decided in August that even the usual $30/person gifts for Christmas that with our large family (hubby, our 11 adult kids, 9 spouses and 29 grandchildren) that i was spending at least $1500 for Christmas gifts ( often more for the last minute, overstressed presents!)
    With 22 weeks before the holiday, i divided it up and found if I took care of 2 presents/ week I would finish before Christmas! Started watching pinterest, blogs and e-mail discounts to online stores i like.
    Made a lot of presents and spent about $235 total! That was a savings of $1265!!!!! And surprising to me, everyone seemed genuinely happy with what they got from us!! I’ve started doing the same thing with birthdays now!!!

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  3. Mrs. Frugalwoods

    Congrats on staying the course during the holidays–this is the hardest time of year not to spend! I completely agree with you that it can be fun not to spend money. It really does become a competition with yourself! I love reviewing our expenses every month and thinking of all the things I didn’t spend money on. Sounds weird, but it totally motivates me. Good luck next month!

    Reply
  4. Sara

    That’s just plain cool – especially the fact that your family ended up donating to charity indirectly because of what you’re doing!! You and your sister are totally inspiring me right now – I’ve hit a debt wall which I need to climb over pronto to live the life that I want and deserve. I’m making small changes already and it’s empowering me but i may just take the plunge and do the spending fast this coming year. OMG new year for us in the UK is tomorrow. I may just start the spending fast tomorrow ;) good luck and I’m reading about your journey – keep up the inspirational work.

    Reply
  5. Christa

    Enviable! We went a bit overboard this year for the holidays (but not overbudget so that’s good). My own Christmases were sometimes lean as a kid due to money being tight so I’m a sucker for holiday giving. Love it. Of course, my kids are little still. As they get older, I want to bring more of the spirit of giving on their end into things.

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  6. Ronnica

    Food is my weakness, too. I’m only doing my “buy little” month for January, though, so it helps me to stay focused since it’s not forever. We’ll see what happens when February comes!

    Reply
  7. Raissomat

    Good job!
    We very rarely eat out. I love to cook and mealplan and we often eat better at home. However when we go out I like it to be a special thing, so we choose very nice restaurants (surprisingly, they cost almost the same as the disappointing ones!!) say once every two months or so. We actually for some reason talk more about things when sitting in a restaurant than at home, and that’s worth it. Gift-wise i went the homemade route. Jams, marmelades, shopping bags, purses, nutella, cookies, cakes, chocolates..I had time on my hands and started very early.

    Reply
  8. Anne

    I like that you try the DIY haircutting idea, but I’ll bet you’ll see the difference within two weeks. It really is impossible to reach the right angles on your own head.
    Instead I recommend having your hair cut at local salons who need hair models for their apprentices. I’ve done it for years and never had a bad cut and it usually costs between $5 and $15.

    Reply
  9. kellyjo

    Kelly, it’s really nice to hear how things are going for you as a mother, partner, business owner, and family member. I started doing the spending fast January 1st because of this blog. With a husband, three jobs between us, him taking an online class, a five year old here and a nine year old step-son in Europe that we pay child support for, it’s good to see someone else in similar circumstances go what we go through. My weakness is buying (“inexpensive” art, Anthropologie sales in the home department, and eating out for lunch at work). I am proud to say that my husband and me have not spent one dime besides groceries and bills in the last six days! And we will keep going as long as we can… for the year at least. So thank you for sharing. It means a lot.

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