My friend Geneva just sent me a link to this blog, and I'm totally and utterly inspired.
Read about her year-long Spending Fast here! She paid off ALL of her debt just by being frugal, and only spending on exactly what she needed. I'm crazy about this idea.
It's so strange that I've never thought of this myself. When I first opened a checking account when I was younger, I was diligent about tracking every cost. I wrote down everything in my checkbook, and balanced it with every statement. I was a good banker.
Then I got a credit card, and my balancing went out the window. Why track? You can just pay it back later! Then I got into trouble... quite a few times.
When I finally dug myself out of my hole, I moved out of my parents house (again), and started over... And got myself right back into debt again!
It has been a vicious cycle.
I know that the only way for me to get back on my feet again (without having to move back into my parents house) is to do something drastic. I know that I could probably work to find a new job where I make more money, but if I don't change my habits now, the same thing will keep happening. Sure, I'll be making more money, but that also means I'll be spending more! Smart people have proven this in studies. I promise.
It's not just about getting out of debt though. It's about being a consumer. Why do we feel the need to buy, buy, buy, ALL the time? Because that's what our society teaches us. Buy the newest thing! The latest style! Ignore everything that you have that's perfectly good, or just in need of repair! Throw it away and BUY BUY BUY! I don't like being that person, and I don't want to be in debt anymore because of it!
Here's a link to her Spending Diet too - for more tips & such. This whole thing is a great resource, and I love her perspective on it. I've never been good with budgeting. Nor have I been good with dieting. I feel the same way about budgeting as I do about counting calories. It's tedious, with a very slow payoff. However, if I know what I should be eating and what I should be avoiding, it makes the process a lot easier. You say "no" to these foods, and "yes" to these foods, and just don't think about it. All of a sudden you're 10 pounds lighter without even blinking. Wha? YES! I feel like this plan is kind of the same way.
I've compiled a list of NEEDS & WANTS - using her list as a basis. Some things are similar, but I've just catered them to me.
WHAT I HAVE TO SPEND MONEY ON:
UTILITIES – keep lights and water off as much as possible; keeping the thermostat at 68 and wearing a hat and long johns inside, if needed.
FOOD - store bought, in-season fruits and veggies and only when I run out of stuff in cupboards. It's very important to me to still stay healthy though, so if I need to buy less to get better quality (ie - organic), then I will do so.
DERBY DUES ($40) or gym membership
HEALTH INSURANCE / doctor co-pays / medicine (when needed)
GAS (as little as possible – bike / scoot / walk / carpool whenever you can)
TOILETRIES (minimal) – toilet paper, paper towels, boxed hair dye, cotton balls, q-tips, razors, body lotion. Only the bare minimum, generic brands, and what I absolutely need.
WHAT I WILL NOT SPEND MONEY ON:
Gifts (sorry friends and family... homemade crafts or re-gifting will be happening)
Coffee at coffee shops (sad face)
Clothes (remember: "Make Do & Mend!") and Shoes
Trinkets / Jewlery
Eating out (this is a big one!)
Furniture (NO Ikea! I DON’T NEED YOU!)
Decorative house stuff
Haircuts (I can probably keep up on these myself with trims)
Alcohol (this is a luxury, not a necessity)
I am going to start tracking spending on my debit card in my checkbook again (I actually put my card in my check register - what a concept), so that I can be good about that. I am also going to allow myself $80 / month to use however I want, but when it's gone it's gone. If I want to go to a concert, have a drink at happy hour, go out to dinner or breakfast, etc - I'll have to dip into this amount.
Holy crap, this is going to be hard! Wow. I'm usually pretty creative when it comes to ways of spending time with people without spending money, but I know that there will be some things I'll have to turn down in order to stick to the plan. I'm going to try and blog along the way too (maybe I'll create a separate one), and I'll most likely just start here. Tracking everything has really helped me with my eating right / working out with the TBT, so hopefully this will keep me on track too!
Any thoughts / suggestions? What are the ways you're making extra money this summer?