I survived the first two months of my Spending Fast! The hardest part was that, because I was trying to spend less money by buying only ‘needs’ and make more money with side hustles, all I thought about was money!!! It was constantly on my mind and I found myself thinking about how I was doing and what I could do to be even better. I have read many articles that say this is a common occurrence when beginning a Spending Fast. As you continue the fast over a couple of months, the way you spend and make money becomes a way of life and you don’t think about money as much. I will be excited when I get to this point! I think it will totally change my life! But for now, I have money on the brain at all times.
The first thing I realized was there was no way I was going to make it a whole month spending no money on ‘extras’ or non-essentials. I looked at other personal stories on And Then We Saved and saw that some Spending Fasters allotted small amounts of money for ‘wants’. I really liked that idea and thought that would make me more successful (and happier) on my journey. Melanie gave herself $100 a month, but I decided that $50 would be enough for me! Knowing I had this small amount of cash gave me immediate relief and made me feel like ‘I can do this’! The first half of the month I spent $20 on a breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts and a cocktail during a ‘business’ meeting about my kid’s yoga. I used my remaining $30 on dinner and drinks for a friend’s birthday. I thought it was interesting that my $50 all went to eating out!
Some things I have done to ensure LESS spending:
- I got rid of Amazon Prime (which I said in my first article). This saved me the $100 renewal fee and I have not made any purchases on Amazon.com. This has been really hard! I love to buy things for school and my kid’s yoga classes on this site! I have used DonorsChoose.org the last two years to help get supplies for school. I plan to make another proposal to get any remaining school items I need for this year. For yoga, I have been going to the library and seeing what supplies I have in the basement from teaching preschool.
- When I get catalogs I put them right into the recycling bin without looking at them and I have made sure all ‘sale’ emails go right to junk mail! If I do get tempted to shop online, I fill a cart with all the clothing I love and then delete it! I find this helps as I get the joy of shopping, for free!
- We have had SNOW in Western New York in April. I tried keeping my thermostat at a reasonable, but still warm, temperature. I kept it two degrees lower than this winter.
- Food buying is one area where I always go over my budget! I began meal planning this month–checking my cabinets, fridge, and freezer to see what I already had and making a grocery list with only what was needed for my meals for the week. So far it has worked and making meals ahead of time has made life a lot easier! My other goal for food is to not let anything, especially fruits and veggies, go to waste. Anything that is starting to go bad gets thrown into a smoothie!
- I have two dogs and three cats. They eat a lot! I had them on expensive brands of pet food and realized I needed to make a change! I researched online, talked to my vet and dog walker and consulted the workers at the pet store. I switched my pets to a food that is cheaper in price, but is still great quality! In case you are wondering, I went with Taste of the Wild. Buying a bulk bag also helps save money!
Some free things I enjoyed during the first month of my Spending Fast are walking my dogs to the park, taking the dogs to a free play group down the street from my house, taking a free yoga class at the studio where I teach kids’ yoga, watching a new show on Netflix, having a friend over for tea and getting a book I have been wanting to read from the library.
As a teacher, things are a little different for my Spending Fast compared to some others because I only work part-time over the summer, cutting my income in half! Last summer I ran out of money after paying my August rent ($600 a month). I ended up putting around $3,000 on credit cards during the month of August. I did not adjust my standard of living for the lower summer income and I still am repaying that card almost a year later! I do not want to do that again this summer. So I am starting to think about summer money now. My goal is making a little more money than I did last summer by taking a couple of part-time jobs and getting a summer school teaching position that pays better than where I worked last summer. I also plan to pay my August rent with my last full paycheck at the end of June (pay July and August rent at the beginning of July).
One thing I did last summer, which I plan to do again, is deferring my student loan payments from June through September. My student loan interest is only 2.5% (and the interest on all of my credit cards is much higher!). This will allow me to focus on paying off my credit cards! And, of course, I need to spend less money this summer! I am only going on one trip, to visit my sister in New York City. Other than that, I hope to find free or really cheap summertime activities. I also love just sitting in my backyard with my dogs in the kiddie pool and a book to read! My hope is I will continue paying off debt during the summer and not add to it!
I received a free copy of Anna’s book through a raffle on the Spending Fasters Facebook group. I was thrilled to begin reading the book and I am hopeful this will give me added motivation and more strategies to make my Spending Fast successful. I know a lot of it is self-control and changing my frame of mind about money. In the last two months, I have continued making better choices with money, but I know there is room for improvement! I plan to go through each chapter of the book and answer the questions that Anna asks and reflect on my answers. I will share what I have used and what I have learned in my future posts.
I love the support and stories from the other members of the Spending Fast Facebook group. I have some friends I am able to discuss money with, but mostly I am embarrassed and do not openly discuss finances. I feel not having a support group during the last few years is part of why my debt continued increasing. It is great being a part of the Facebook group and knowing that people are in the same position as me! Openly asking questions and sharing challenges and successes has made me feel a lot better already. I feel like I can be successful and reach my goal of being debt free! If you haven’t joined yet, you totally should!
As of June 1st, my debt is:
Credit Cards – $9,300
Lending Club – $8,028
Student Loans – $15,860
Debt paid since starting the Spending Fast – $1,710
To see all of Katie’s Spending Fast journey posts click on her name at the top of the post, and to follow all of the Spending Fasters click here.
P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!