Wow, my Spending Fast is at its end! I started last March, right before giving birth to my second baby. In that time, my husband suffered a concussion and lost his job, earned his master’s degree and started a new job at a lower salary, and we moved into a new house with my parents. It was quite a year to attempt our Spending Fast, but I think if we could do it through this hectic time then we can do anything! We were not perfect, especially when I stopped documenting here on the blog. But I’d love to share my progress, what I learned, and what I plan on doing next (not Disneyland, sadly).
I ended up paying $33,710 toward my debt. It sounds like a huge number, but my starting debt number was pretty dang high. After factoring in my minimum payments, I averaged paying an extra $400-$500 each month.
In some ways, that sounds huge!! To have that extra money, even with my husband’s job loss and then pay cut, is amazing to me. We were spending SO much pre-Spending Fast and I can’t understand how I ever justified it.
So, I know that amount is huge, but I started off so strong and sometimes was paying an extra $1,000 to just one credit card a month. I thought my final number would be higher. I guess I must remember that, at the beginning, I sold a lot of stuff around the house, and we had better freelance work in the summer. Freelancing is a tough game, and I never know how much extra money I’ll earn. All in all, that extra $400-$500 each month made a big difference bringing down the balances.
I started with eight credit cards. That number just blows me away. I don’t know why I ever thought that was OK! I’m down to four, with an end in sight. I couldn’t say that last year. I had no idea where my next payment would come from.
Sometimes, I charged groceries so I had the cash to pay my minimum balance. It was bad, but it didn’t stop me from going on a Target shopping binge or suggest going out to eat! Now I understand that these purchases were so unnecessary. They weren’t making me happier. I ended up being able to sell so many of the things I bought on shopping binges because I really didn’t care about the items.
The Spending Fast really made me look at why I thought it was necessary to make the purchase. Did I think it would make me happier, skinnier, hipper, younger? Was I tired, hungry, angry, jealous when I wanted to make a purchase? Understanding that, I had to ask myself these two questions: ‘What were the best parts of the Spending Fast?’ and “What was the key to making it work?’ Anytime I slipped up, it was because I wasn’t asking myself those questions.
I am so grateful we decided to do the Spending Fast when we did. I’m also thankful we prepared for the Spending Fast in the months before we started by going through all the ways we could save money, including asking my parents to move in with them. This was a big deal. If we had gone through my husband’s job loss on our own, then we wouldn’t have made it. Bills would have been unpaid and I’m not sure what our options would have been.
In the end, the extra money we had available to put toward debt was the difference between what our old rent was at our expensive rowhouse in the hippest part of town versus the rent we paid my parents for our one bedroom that we shared with the boys in their “empty nest” townhouse.
The Spending Fast, combined with living with my parents at a low rent, gave us the ability to pay off more than $30k in debt. I know moving in with parents is not an option for everyone. I’m lucky my parents are awesome to hang out with and were willing to help. But just look for lower rent.
I know becoming debt-free will be so much better than paying through the nose for a cool part of town or a house with an amazing staircase and multiple fireplaces. Becoming debt-free is worth accepting help and living with my parents. And for us, it led us to a new plan for our future.
During the year-long Spending Fast, we moved into a new house in a great school district. My parents came, too. The plan to live with them while we saved money has turned into so much more. We now want to live together permanently. They’re helping us right now, and we will help them later when they’re older. The rent is the same for us, so we still are paying down debt. Our plan is to buy the house at the end of our two-year lease, when I hope to have paid off the rest of the credit cards, our car payment and, hopefully, two smaller student loans.
To achieve our next goals, we will start a Spending Diet for a year. I think we did well on the Spending Fast, but areas that we did get hung up on were going out to eat and gifts. We’ll add in a small budget for those things. But the budget is key. If we see that we’re going over the amount we’ve allotted, then it’s back to the Spending Fast. We’re still snowballing any extra money we have.
I’m so glad I did the Spending Fast. I learned so much about myself and it’s completely changed the way I will live.
- Starting Debt: $159,253
- Start SF Date: March 2016
- Debt Paid Off Total: $33,710
- SF End Date: March 2017
To see all of Annie’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!