Darlene’s Spending Fast Update: Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

I can’t believe it, but we officially have made it through four months of our Spending Fast. And guess what? I am not alone and friendless after saying “no” to outings, the world didn’t implode after sending an e-Christmas card (that’s right, I did it), my house isn’t upside-down without a cleaning lady (well, definitely a bit dirtier, let’s be real), and our family loved the homemade gifts I was able to swing for Christmas.  Overall we are going strong!

November felt like a puzzle with pieces moving in every direction!  First, my husband returned to work full-time after a year of staying home with our kids.  Overall, this is going to help us get out of debt faster (and it was an opportunity he could not turn down), but for the month of November, it meant three days of paying a nanny before we had his income coming in. We also had a trip to the vet for our dog, who was limping and just not acting like herself for two days. That cost $500 and turned out to be a strained muscle (she bounced back within 24 hours of going to the vet). Shortly thereafter our checking account was compromised and someone in Virginia got a free night in a hotel and more than $300 in car parts!  While this was stressful and unfortunate, I caught it right away (which would not have happened before the Spending Fast) and while speaking with my credit union, I found out I had enough member points for two $100 gift cards. (I didn’t even know there was a points program!). So, this negative actually turned into a positive and, at the end of November, we still had an extra $400 to go toward credit cards, even with the vet bill!

December was here and gone in a blink. I was obsessed with having enough money for Christmas, and not overspending (I may have driven my husband a little crazy). I made as many gifts as I could, which included kid aprons for two of our nieces and nephews and zippered fabric pouches for four people on our list (which I learned to do by watching a YouTube video instead of attending a class for $30). We scaled back the amount of money we usually spend, across the board, did not exchange gifts with my mom (or each other) and (don’t judge me, please) we re-gifted an unused present or two. At the end of December, we had an extra $50 in our checking account, without a single present charged. WOOOO HOOOOO! Can you feel the pride and excitement? How did you make it through the gift giving season? I would love to know how you make it work with kids and family obligations/expectations?

I also made a tough decision in December and missed my best friend’s birthday in Brooklyn. It was disappointing and, honestly, just an overall bummer, but there was not enough money in my socialization kitty to cover a night out in New York City. I’ve had to say “no” to many outings during the last four months, but this was the toughest one so far. This is probably the most valuable lesson I am learning on this fast, how to say “no” to myself…I am going to take Sarah Cantoya’s (fellow Spending Faster) recommendation and read Anna’s first year on her Spending Fast. I am sure it will help the next time the Spending Fast blues hit.

For those of you who are curious about what we classified as needs in addition to the essentials, here goes:

Me: eyebrow waxes, haircuts, $20/week allowance for social events only, cellphone

My husband: hockey once a week ($20), car wash once a month, cellphone, $20/week for spending

Family: YMCA family membership, haircuts for kids, birthday gifts with a smaller budget ($20-ish instead of $40-ish), Halloween costumes, Christmas presents, one family outing per month (no more than $50, examples: apple picking, pumpkins, Christmas tree tagging).

I would love to hear about fun, thrifty, family things to do from those of you willing to share! Props to everyone out there who is doing their best to save in this materialistic world!

Here are our updated Grand Totals:

Total Debt Paid off: $4,539 (SF start date Sep 1, 2016)

  • CC debt: $29,762 (down from $31,682)
  • Loans (cars and personal): $27,697 (down from $29,692)
  • Student Loans: $40,112 (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!


6 thoughts on “Darlene’s Spending Fast Update: Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

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  1. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Aghh, I’m sorry to hear your bank account was compromised. That is such a stressful situation.

    I’m not sure if this would help, but I pluck/wax at home. I buy wax from Sally’s Beauty supply and do it all myself. If you’re nervous you can always get a friend to help out too. I know salons can get pretty pricey!

    Bravo for paying down so much debt!

    A few things we’ve done to save money over the last few months:

    1. We used our $300 of credit card rewards to pay for Christmas gifts. We DIY’d the gifts that we could and purchased the rest.

    2. We hosted Christmas dinner with a ham I bought on sale and limited ourselves to two side dishes.

    3. We started eating meals based on our pantry and freezer stock. As a result our weekly grocery bill has gone down $20 – $40!

    4. We limited ourselves to a $25/week eating out budget.

    5. I purchased nice work clothes during a thrift store super-sale. I bought several pairs of pants and none of them cost more than $3.

    1. Darlene Wilson

      Thanks so much for sharing! All great ideas, and I like your eating out allowance – my husband and I have been craving an easy, order-in, night per week, but it’s not on our list of “needs”! This is something I’d love to implement come September though!

  2. Deb

    It’s really encouraging reading about other people working toward meeting their financial goals. Working toward a bigger goal is hard and a long process but it’s so worth it and so great to feel like you’re making progress. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Darlene Wilson

      Thank you so much! I feel like the more we share, the less ashamed we are, and the more we learn. None of us are alone!


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