5 Ways I’m Prepping for My Spending Fast


5 Ways I'm Prepping for My Spending Fast | AndThenWeSaved.com

Here’s the truth: I have $109,940 in debt.

More than $100,000 in debt. And paying it off has been painfully discouraging and slow. In December, I managed to pay down a whopping $60. Sixty bucks! That’s it!

If I continue at the rate of $60 per month, I will die before I possibly can pay off my debt. At $60 per month, my debt actually will continue to grow due to interest.

Not cool.

So, I’m hopping on the Spending Fast bandwagon…er, again. When I first read about the Spending Fast, my first instinct was to yell, “YES! I am IN!” I pledged to do the Spending Fast. Then a few hours later I found myself buying chips and soda at a gas station. I sort of tried again the next day and then the next, but let’s face it—I had done nothing to prepare for a successful Spending Fast.

I’m renewing my pledge to the Spending Fast. This time I have taken appropriate steps to improve my odds of success. Here are five steps I’m taking to prepare for a successful Spending Fast and why I think they might help you, too.


5 Ways I’m Prepping for My Spending Fast …


1.      Commit to a reasonable time period and then break it down into smaller chunks.

I am committing to a one-month Spending Fast. If it goes well, I’ll commit to another month and then another and another, for as long as necessary to pay down my debt. (Remember, folks, I’ve got $109,940 to get rid of!). If I think about an entire year, or even just a full month, all at once I end up with a headache. Then I want to take a nap or go buy a soda and a bag of chips to calm my nerves. Neither option is really productive. I’ve opted instead to break down the first month into three days at a time. Three days seems manageable. Three days doesn’t feel like an eternity. I can look ahead over three days and have a reasonably good idea of my responsibilities, commitments and possible pitfalls and then plan accordingly.


2.       Leave your bank card, checkbook and cash at home so you can’t submit to temptations.

I know I have enough gas to get to and from work and we have plenty of food in the kitchen. I can’t think of anything we will NEED to spend money on during the next three days, but I can think of plenty of temptations! The cafeteria at my day job is not only on the same floor as my department, it’s practically right next door. It’s easy to think, “It’s less than $5! No big deal!”—but that money would be better used being put toward my debt. An even bigger temptation are the many coffee shops on the way to my job. My favorite is just a very short detour away. It’s easy to justify because they are incredibly generous with their stamp cards—I almost always end up with three stamps instead of one and ten stamps equals a free drink. But, that’s easily $12 before I reach a full stamp card, even with extra stamps. Hardly a deal! By leaving my money and all ways to access it at home, I am forced to avoid temptations like these. Instead, I will be bringing lunch from home, as well as home-brewed coffee.


3.       Learn to say no.

This past December was filled with invitations to holiday parties, but with every invitation I felt nauseous. I found myself pondering the costs of these events—transportation to and from each, food for potlucks, gift exchanges, an ugly sweater for one party and more. I saw dollar signs in every invitation. I found myself saying, “No, thank you. I’m sorry, but I can’t attend.” It was incredibly hard. But, thinking back over the month now, I don’t feel like I missed anything. I took walks with a neighbor and my dogs, spent time with my son, caught up on a lot of reading and more. It was hard to say no, but my time was filled in other non-financially fraught ways. The more I said no, the easier it became.


4.       Tell a trusted friend.

Saying no to social events is hard, but telling a friend about my debt journey and my Spending Fast plans helped. It’s important to find a friend who will be supportive. The friend who says, “It’s just a couple of bucks. What’s the big deal?” isn’t the right choice. Instead, I chose a friend in a similar financial situation who also has made a habit of turning down social invitations to spare her wallet. When I was feeling bad about saying no to holiday parties, I’ve been able to turn to her for support. She understood the costs of social events. She also understands that “It’s just a couple of bucks” won’t help me reach my goals. Whenever I lose sight of my goals, my friend has reminded me of why this journey is important, reminding me that financial freedom later is worth sacrifices now. She also has reminded me that by saying no and saving my money to put toward my debt, I am setting an example for my teenage son.


5.       Track your journey.

I love visual aids. I also love to draw and color. I had a large blank canvas leaning against my bedroom wall for more than a year before I decided to make it into a debt reduction visual. I’ve drawn several abstract shapes on it and, for every $20 I pay off, I will color in one shape. Although I only paid down $60 last month, I have paid down $1,800 total during the past two years. I colored in one little shape for every $20 of the combined total. This also has been a great way to involve my son in my debt freedom journey and open the door to talking with him about debt and personal finance. He’s 17 and on the cusp of going out into the world himself. Involving my son by having him help color in my canvas will help keep me on track and, hopefully, will help in preventing him from getting into debt in the first place.

Debt is NOT normal. Debt is NOT good. Debt is shackles around your ankles and a clamp on your future.

I’m done with being trapped by debt and lack of financial stability. With these five tips, I am planning a successful Spending Fast three days at a time for the next month, and then the next month, and then the next.


What about you?  How could you make your Spending Fast more successful?

Malea Baer is a working single mom to a teenage son and two dogs, as well as a freelance writer and artist. She rents a two-bedroom apartment and drives a 17-year-old car and she’s totally OK with that. She owes $109,940 in debt (almost none of which is consumer debt) and she’s totally NOT OK with that. However, she has a plan to pay it off that includes doing a Spending Fast and selling her art as coloring pages on Etsy.

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


10 thoughts on “5 Ways I’m Prepping for My Spending Fast

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  1. Nicola Dalbenzio

    When I was forced to retire due to an injury I still had an almost adult child in the house. Since he recently moved (and has a great head on his shoulders financially!) it’s far easier to stick within my budget, although still an enormous life change. One of my biggest challenges is motivating myself socially and getting out since most people aren’t trying this approach. The other is realizing I have to change my relationship with spending. Be encouraged that in a few years your son will need less financial assistance and that payoff will accelerate. You may even be able to rent a one bedroom or share a house.
    So look up! Things are getting better!

    1. Malea

      Yes! My son and I have talked at length about the fact that he’s getting older and needs to start taking responsibility for some things financially such as buying his own treats, snacks, video games, etc!

      Instead of renting a room, we actually decided to move into a relatives basement apartment! We’ve only been here a few days, but already it’s a great decision financially!

  2. Caroline

    Ooo you’ve really inspired me to start a spending fast! We have a small amount of debt at the moment, but we’re hoping to buy a house in the next couple of years, and I already have plans to pay off the mortgage early. Breaking it up into 3 day chunks is such a great technique – I’m afraid I’m stealing that one!

    1. Malea

      Glad to inspire you! :) The 3-day time frame has really helped make this feel manageable! Of course, I’ve had hiccups here and there, but it is easier to manage in the first place AND easier to get back on the horse after falling off when you know you only have to face three days at a time.

      Good luck with your plans! I know you can do it!

  3. Vanessa

    Malea, thanks for sharing your situation and strategies! My partner and I also had over $100k in debt, so I can relate to how daunting a task it is to try to pay it off. I’m grateful and proud of all we’ve been able to do to knock out nearly 1/4 of that but will take your spending fast prep to heart as we embark on the next steps our debt pay down.

    1. Malea

      Oh! Congrats on paying down so much already!!! That’s a HUGE accomplishment and you both should be proud of it!

      I’ve been very focused on “How do I pay off the next $20?” as it breaks it down into more manageable chunks and feels like I’ve accomplished something, especially when I add up all those $20 chunks together. I’m hoping to really accelerate my payoff plans this month.

  4. Jax

    Good luck! I know when I get anxious about finances and not wanting to spend any money, the temptation to spend is even greater. It’s great that you are leaving your cards at home to avoid temptation. I would also suggest taking it a week at a time. It’s easier to plan for one week and once you’ve been “good” for 3 days the week is almost half way done-boom! almost instant positive reinforcement.

    Telling a friend-what a great plan for extra support.

    1. Malea

      Jax, get out of my head! :)

      I have not had great luck with a week at a time approach. :( Maybe as I get further into my debt pay off and start seeing real progress I’ll be able to bump it up to a week rather than three days. We’ll see!

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Regina

    thank you for your post it did give me inside on what to look for in a friend. I have lots telling me what you stated about it’s only a few bucks. I just started this spending fast and I have to say that I am inspired as too what hard work you did. I know that I will be able to say no and feel ok about it since it’s for me. I do for others but never for myself and July 1, 2016 started my fast and for myself. Great post.

  6. Natalie Parker

    I whole heartidly agree with your tips. Personally, I have found in my own journey it is easier for me to set goals, 3 months at a time. And even in those 3 months, I’ve found ways to get creative and pay off more than one debt. By December I should have 3/4 of my debts paid off. I am very thankful for this blog. It’s nice to know there are other people going through the same thing and taking action to get rid of the dark cloud and shame debt brings.


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