To recap, I have been figuring out FREE ways to spend my time for the past month so that I can use my money to pay off my credit card debt. To be honest, so far it has been a bit easier than I thought! My calendar has still been pretty darn busy, and I've still been able to spend time with my friends without spending dough.
I decided to keep a little spreadsheet to track all of the things that I probably would have spent my money on for the month. It has really been helping me get a visual on how much money I am not spending. It's the opposite of tracking where my money is going, and instead shows me where my money is NOT going. What did it show me this month? How much those little things (a beer here, a coffee there, a lunch here, a dinner there), REALLY add up!
What I also realized is that even when I estimated my amounts pretty darn frugally (only ordering 1 beer at the bar instead of 2, stuff like that), I would still be spending beyond my means with all of the credit card bills I have to pay every month. No wonder I've struggled so much with paying down my amount! It's funny because at first I thought that this spending fast would be holding me back from things I wanted to do, but in reality the debt has been holding me back this entire time! Who knew?
Now, I know - I did have a couple of friends / family members who offered to pay for my food & such when I went out. But when it comes to my wonderful parents, there is no saying "no" to that offer, and most of the other times it was in exchange for me getting my friend a free ticket to something. So there's that!
Now I couldn't put this full amount to my credit card debt, as I still needed to make some monthly minimum payments, and you know, buy groceries. But that's a HUGE number!! I am still working hard to get extra money coming in wherever I can (trying to sell crafts, and I will have some cash coming in from being a lab rat for science), which will all go towards my debt. And it's also tax-return time, so that's good!
Things that have helped me get through January (some helpful tips):
Instead of inviting a friend to lunch, or out for happy hour drinks, this month I invited friends to join me for a walk in the park, or to go rollerblading. I've even been doing a weekly run-club at a bar - it's a great way to hang out, meet new people, exercise, AND you get free pasta & garlic bread afterward!! Choosing free fitness instead of spending money at a bar or restaurant is a total win-win!
Tracking my non-spending!Creating my Excel spreadsheet seemed a bit excessive at first, but now I know that it's a tool that will really help me in the long run. You know how financial gurus always tell you to use cash instead of credit cards so that you can always see your money going away when you spend it? Well, it's kinda the same idea! It has really helped motivate me to keep going.
Eating at home with friends instead!This month I invited friends over for dinners, and even a potluck brunch this past weekend! I asked my friends to bring something to share, so that we could save the money on going out. And you know what? I think most people were REALLY happy to not be spending the money themselves at a restaurant, and it was so nice to hang out with my friends with no distractions. People love potlucks!
So that's all for now! I feel pretty darn happy about how the month went, and although I did have one little slip-up (I spent about $2.75 on wine when my gift card wouldn't cover the whole thing), it wasn't enough to throw me off the horse. I am thrilled and energized, and ready to take on month #2!
FEBRUARY, HERE I COME!! :D