New debt totals posted! By applying our June savings of $2,859.90 to my student loan on top of our monthly minimum payments, we saw a reduction of $3,292.17. But the most exciting news is the side by side comparison of where we started last year on July 1, 2011. Since that time, we have managed to reduce our debt by $24,900.84!!! If you would have asked me a year ago if that was possible, I would have laughed. It seemed so far fetched of an idea. By embarking on our spending lockdown(to see our list of spending guidelines, click here), we took control of our life and money. There was nothing fancy to our strategy. It was simple, we just cut out the excess spending that was draining our bank account. And we are not talking one major expense, we are talking countless mindless minimal expenses that emptied our wallet week after week. We have many friends that still say they want to do something like this, and I encourage them, but it’s important to remember—personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior(a common Dave Ramsey quote). And that’s the most difficult part of the task, changing your behavior with money.
Now that we have officially ended our yearlong spending fast, what do you think we did to celebrate? Favorite restaurant? Movie? Concert? New clothes? Umm, sorry to disappoint, but none of the above. Instead, this weekend, we took a trip to Trader Joe’s and the local produce stand to stock up on our regular groceries for the week. We also made sure to use our cash envelope which has our allotted amount for food during the month of July. In fact, since ending our spending lockdown, we’ve been talking a great deal about how to budget ourselves through the next year. We are living in possibility.
June savings is tallied, and although we’ve spent the month more relaxed with spending because of a friends’ destination wedding and out of town guests, we still managed to save a chunk. If your asking how in the world do we do this? How ? Here’s how—we follow our guideline of spending restrictions(although a little loosely this month), as we’ve been doing for the past 12 months. On top of these rules, Brad received pay in a timely manner from some of his freelance contractors. Amazing, right? If you’ve followed this blog for a while, it seems like I’m always complaining that he is never paid on time. At the beginning of this month, we were predicting another month of delayed pay. But his invoicing went through without a hitch, and to our surprise, he started receiving payments last week.
However, it was a socially interactive month, which makes saving money difficult. I admit, we make exceptions to our spending guidelines with out of town guests and travel, and this month had both. But we didn’t blow the bank! With our visiting friends, we ate the majority of meals at home and participated in free fun sightseeing activities. When we actually did venture out with them to restaurants, we sought out budget friendly eateries. Also, nowadays, we order menu items that can be easily split—pizza is a favorite for this reason. While on the road to our friends’ wedding, we shared a budget motel room with another couple for 2 nights. On the third night, we slept on couches and air mattresses slumber party style with our old college friends. Brad and I look forward to the day when we can afford ourselves a little more luxury when we travel, but for now, these money saving actions are necessary. Besides, we had a blast with our old friends! That’s what this trip was all about anyways—not fancy hotels or fine dining.
So, we’ve managed to tally up a total of $2,859.90 in savings. Impressive as that number may be, it might be just shy of meeting our $25,000 debt reduction goal for the year. I will apply this total savings to my student loan, and post our July 1 debt totals on Monday. We’ll do a side by side comparison from where we started with our debt from a year ago, and where we are today.
And that’s a wrap folks!
This month rounds out our year long spending lockdown (no restaurants, bars, entertainment unless free, coffee shops, bakeries, generic brands, no clothes shopping, and on and on). This time last year, we were preparing to embark on this spending fast, and to this day, my first post on this blog remains my favorite—Acting Our Wage. So does this mean, we’re done saving money? NO WAY! Our life has been forever changed because of this spending fast, and the length of time (1 full year) has impacted our spending behavior greatly. We’ll continue to penny pinch, save money and pay off our debts, but we realize we don’t need a set of guidelines anymore. We feel like our money saving is more ingrained in our psyche now. As for the future of this blog, I have yet to decide, but most likely, I will keep it up however post less frequently. I would still like to share our savings and debt payoffs as they occur. Our ultimate goal is to be DEBT FREE, and it would not be any fun if you didn’t get to witness this journey.
July 1 debt totals coming to you on Monday! Have a great weekend!
Almost halfway through the month, and we are not even at the halfway mark for reaching our goal of saving nearly $3000. And you know what? It’s okay. This year has taught me that if the savings doesn’t happen this month, then it will happen next month or the one after that. Life doesn’t always fit neatly into a box tied with a pretty bow.
So far in June, we have spent money on servicing our car and buying Brad some new summer clothes. I know, I know, this breaks our spending lockdown rules of no clothes shopping, however, he has dropped nearly two sizes since last summer!* We wanted to wait until July when our spending fast officially ends, but my husband was desperate for some warm weather clothing during this unusually hot weather we’ve been having in the bay. We were modest with our purchases, and to be honest, we found shopping exhausting and cumbersome after swearing off clothing stores for a year. Shopping, in general, has probably been ruined for me because of this spending fast—hey, I’m not complaining.
Lastly, we are attending a friend’s wedding in Southern California next weekend which will require some travel expenses. We are trying to make it as cheap as possible, but it will eat up some of our would-be June savings.
Truthfully, I would feel ridiculous complaining about not being able to save money because of these insignificant expenditures. There are much bigger problems that individuals and families face when it comes to saving money—kids’ and medical expenses come first to my mind. I’m thankful we are in good health and can enjoy our life right now. I’m not going to waste time worrying about buying my husband a new pair of shorts in lieu of saving that money. That’s the balance you have to strive for.
*Note: this is a side effect of eating at home for an entire year, along with exercise taking on the role as our main form of entertainment lately.
As July 1 quickly approaches, I find myself more than a little nervous about jumping back into the world of spending unrestricted. Is it really possible for Brad and I to save money to pay off our debt without a strict set of guidelines? This entire year on spending lockdown catapulted us into saving money simply by making a declaration to friends and family that we would not be spending on this list. We made some exceptions here and there, but for the most part, we stuck to our guidelines. It has been one big experiment—how much could we feasibly pay off in debt in a year by simply cutting out the extras? We’ve proven that this spending lockdown was not pointless and resulted in big savings and big debt payoffs. But really, we desire a more practical approach to spending and saving. As artists, in general, we have lived our lives scoffing at rules, so we don’t desire to conduct our spending by a set of rules forever. But the question is, have our behavioral patterns with spending really changed in a year? Will we be able to continue without a strict set of guidelines? These are the questions I find myself asking over and over. Only time will tell.
Closing in on our final month of our year long spending lockdown, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting over the past year. Next month, I think I’ll be ready to slow my roll, which doesn’t mean I’ll give up saving and start spending. I just want to find my “natural setting” somewhere in between.
(Art: artsyville on Etsy)
After a 2 week absence from tumblr, I’m back with our end of the month savings post! I feel great about this tally, especially after experiencing sluggish saving months in March and April. Our May savings got a boost with Brad finally receiving some income from freelance work, although not all of what we anticipated. But that’s okay, we know it will be arriving next month. Whereas, I used to experience frustration with the irregularities of freelance pay cycles, I’m now learning to be patient—the money trickles in eventually. Actually, we are anticipating record savings next month when Brad finally receives a large amount of pay for freelance work, and I receive my first paychecks with my new raise! YUP! That’s right! My absence from blogging these past couple of weeks was for a work trip back east to my company headquarters. My job is slightly changing for the better, and I’ll be earning a bit more which will surely help with our saving and debt reduction. Our stars are aligning for the final month of our yearlong spending lockdown.
Tomorrow, I will post our new debt totals. I will be applying $144.88 of our May savings to our emergency fund and then the rest will be applied to my student loan.
To check out our savings progress for the past 11 months, visit here.
Honestly, I thought I would be reporting A LOT less savings this month, if any. I’m delighted with this number. The majority of our “would be” savings from last month, all of our $1000 emergency savings, nearly $600 of travel savings, and then some of our income from this month were put towards paying our federal taxes. Keeping on the sunny side, our poor tax planning with Brad’s 2011 freelance work brought us some valuable lessons. We are already arranging to put more than enough aside from Brad’s pay in a separate savings account solely for taxes.
Because we drained our emergency savings of $1000 that normally sits in our checking account untouched (this helps prevent us from using a credit card), we have to replenish it. So all $855.12 will be applied to our emergency savings, and our April debt reduction will only be from our monthly minimum payments. In order to achieve our $25,000 annual debt reduction goal, we will need to make BIG strides in saving for May and June.