Well, we survived the first two months of our Spending Fast!! Woo-hoo! I am a little shocked that we made it. But honestly, we have some good momentum to bring us through the holidays (Hallelujah!).
For the months of September and October combined we had an extra $1,753 that went toward our debt. To be honest, I am so proud of ourselves for not overspending, never mind having extra money to go straight to our debt.
Some things are working and some are not. First, we had to cancel our cleaning lady. That was pretty obvious (even though it feels like a “need” with both of us working full-time and two little kids). So now I spend a good four to five hours every Saturday cleaning, and sometimes my mom visits and helps watch the kids or helps with the actual cleaning. (Seriously, I couldn’t do it without her). I just keep telling myself (over and over in my head) that I didn’t grow up with a cleaning lady, and it’s only a year.
My oldest started soccer at the beginning of September and I fell into old habits. I went on to Amazon and got her a ball and socks, because she NEEDED them and I didn’t have time to go to the store. And then I remembered we could get the ball at a local used sporting goods store! Unfortunately, old habits die hard, but I won’t forget again. We actually got her used hockey skates for $14, since last year’s were too small to make it another year.
We changed up our grocery shopping to save money. Instead of using the stop and shop that is five minutes from our house, I’m driving twenty minutes away to a locally-owned store that saves us anywhere from $30-$50 per week. We also are buying all of our meat and other practical items in bulk at BJ’s Wholesale Club to save. Prior to this Spending Fast, I would have justified the extra money as it saved us time. Now I’m willing to change my habits to save even $5.
We did decide each of us still would have spending money. Before the fast, we each would get $50 per week to spend on incidentals. I usually spent mine on lunches or Starbucks. Now I get $20 per week, but only to be used on social events with friends or my family. I wanted a way to not miss out on reasonably priced outings/traditions. I have successfully avoided spending money on lunch or a coffee in two whole months. I am not going to lie, I still salivate when I see someone carrying a Starbucks cup, but $5 lattes were not a “need!” It also was interesting how often I would go through a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through on the weekends. Not doing it gave me a little twitch the first month, but now I’ve broken the habit.
We were unable to have as much extra money as I would have liked in October, but such is life. We had a previously planned trip to Philly to visit friends, which just cost money, plain and simple. We packed snacks, drinks and lunches so we didn’t have to have to buy snacks on the way down, but we were unable to do this on the way home. We went to the Philadelphia Zoo for just the cost of parking as our friends had a family membership, and we ate in while we were there as much as possible. All in all, I think we did well considering it was a trip. October is a busy month for us with birthdays, plus we had Halloween, which equated to extra spending. I am hoping November will be better.
We did list gifts as a need, just because I thought it wouldn’t be fair to not buy gifts for people who had spent money on us earlier this year. However, I am going to reevaluate this in the new year as we spend a lot of money on gifts for family (nieces and nephews, siblings, parents’ birthdays). At a minimum, I am going to suggest to the family we do without gifts for the adults for 2017, and see if there are any bites (wish me luck!). For Halloween, I made as much of our costumes as I could, and used pieces of clothing that we already had, but all together I probably spent $60 for four costumes.
I am fascinated at the things I am having a hard time with regarding spending. For example, when I realized I couldn’t (or shouldn’t – I did not include it on my list of “needs”) send out Christmas cards in my usual fashion (photoshoot of the kids, personalized cards, send them to a million people – we have big families). I just could not justify the cost. I can’t even justify the cost of the stamps. But I literally mulled this over in my head for TWO MONTHS! I thought about taking the photos ourselves, cutting down the list of people we send to, finding coupons, etc. In the end, I came to the realization that if we send an e-card this year, what is the big deal?!?!? You get the picture, a silly thing, but through this process I realized how attached I was to this idea of the AWESOME Christmas card.
I know last time I talked about not yet reaching an agreement on Christmas or a wedding in Florida in April. We decided the wedding was just too much money, plain and simple. We will send a gift, but will not be attending in person. Christmas was a tougher decision. In a perfect world, I would get my crafty hat on and go to town on gifts, but there is just not enough time in the day between both of our work schedules and the kids. We are going to do our best to stick to a STRICT budget. I’ll let you know how that works out in my next post.
Here are our updated grand totals:
Total Debt Paid Off: $3,189 (SF start date Sept. 1, 2016)
CC debt: $30,242 (down from $31,682)
Loans (cars and personal): $28,362 (down from $29,692)
Student Loans: $40,318 (down from $40,737)
To see all of Darlene’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!
Way to go Darlene! Be proud of every extra penny that you manage to save and put on debt.
Thanks Shelley! I’m definitely trying to focus on the positive during the fast and every penny saved :)
Keep up the good work!
I wanted to specifically reach out to your suggestion about no Christmas gifts next year. My husband and I are doing that this year. We reached out to all our close friends and family who we normally exchange gifts with in early November. We explained that quality time is more important to us than gifts. So far we have only received positive feedback. We will reassess after Christmas/Hanukkah is over and see if we want to keep it up.
Please let me know how you feel after Christmas/ Hanukkah! I am so curious as to how other families make this work. And thank you for your comment!
With regards to Christmas gifts . . . maybe suggest to the family that if they REALLY want to buy something, they could buy gifts for those in need? I know my daughter gets tons of stuff (one of only 2 grandkids) and it’s frankly overwhelming for her. We’ve started becoming much more minimalist in our lifestyle, and we don’t want or need all the stuff she gets, so we are starting to encourage our family to make donations to the less fortunate. So maybe you could spin it as becoming minimalist (and less as trying to save money), and then people who simply MUST buy gifts to get into the Christmas spirit would still be able to do so, but it wouldn’t create an obligation for you AND it would help out someone in need. Thats, like, a win-win-win right there!
I would love to do something like this. This year’s Christmas really highlighted for me that we need to be true to our vision of Christmas/ the Holiday’s as much as possible. Unfortunately in very traditional families it takes courage to suggest something different from “the norm”. This year I minimized and made as many gifts as possible. Hopefully next year will feel even more right.
Thank you for your honest and real account of your progress so far! Nice going! It’s helpful for me to see where one makes compromises during a fast; otherwise it’s overwhelming for me to think about literally zero spending (beginning a fast at the new year). I’m realizing that it’s matters of prioritization while eliminating excessive and/or unnecessary spending, though still being able to…live…Ha! Thank you!
Good luck to you on your fast!
Here are our non-needs, that I categorized as needs:
Me: eyebrow waxes (even though I’ve gone once since Sep 1st); haircuts; $20/ wk for social events only – no more buying lunch and coffee everyday; cell phone
My husband: hockey once a wk ($20), car wash once a month for his car; cell phone; $20/ wk for spending (originally $50 as he was very resistant to this change, but agreed to decrease it around November 1st)
Family: YMCA family membership; hair cuts for kids; swim lessons for my 5 year old, if not provided as a gift until she can swim on her own; gifts for family members birthdays with a smaller budget ($20ish instead of $40ish); halloween costumes, Christmas presents
Hope this is helpful!