Wednesday, September 3, 2014

One Year : A Challenge

A storm has been brewing lately. One of those awesome lightning storms that make amazing pictures and you sit in your garage watching it. The kind where you want to run out and dance in the pouring rain. A storm I'm kind of excited about.

I am doing something drastic to get out of debt. It's going to stir things up and create some big change. I will no longer be clueless. And it won't be easy.

In college, someone sent me a link to a Spending Fast® from Anna at And Then I Saved.

I was inspired but I never felt confident enough that I, too, could pull it off. You see, it requires a FULL YEAR of not spending outside of the necessary. She even learned how to cut her own hair. Seriously. And $24,000 later, she was out of debt.

It's been a few years since Anna coined the phrase "Spending Fast" and she has helped an entire community of people tackle their debt. Go read everyone's Get Out Of Debt Pledge - it blows my mind how many people are in my same shoes. I've stayed up to date on her blog and it continues to inspire me, even though I've never acted on it.

More recently, Cait from Blonde on a Budget started a year-long shopping ban too. While she is not in debt anymore, due to her incredible hard work and persistence, she knows that changing her habits will help her accomplish bigger dreams. I relate to that 100%. Cait admits she's terrified of "living without" and I share her concerns for my challenge.

With the inspiration and information these ambitious women and many others have provided, I'm joining the club. September 6th, 2014 is the official start of my spending challenge. And like most challenges, I have to set some rules to follow.

What I CAN spend money on:
  • Rent
  • Gas ($120 per paycheck)
  • Groceries ($150 per paycheck - includes any liquor store purchases)
  • Basic Household Items
    • Toilet paper, meal storage, cleaning products, laundry detergent, etc.
  •  Toiletries
    • Makeup (only refills of what I currently use), shampoo, razors, etc. 
  • Utilities 
    • Does not include cable but does allow Internet, Netflix and Hulu subscriptions
  • A new pair of Ugg boots (Minnesota winters, enough said)
  • One pair of winter work shoes
  • Mandatory car maintenance and repair
  • A minimal phone upgrade - it's time after 2 years
  • $75 per paycheck for savings - to be used for emergencies and bridesmaid expenses only
  • $50 monthly allowance - this is to exclusively buy gifts or experiences, not things
What I CAN'T spend money on:
  • Clothes and shoes (with above exceptions)
  • Books
  • Unnecessary household items and decorations, including flowers
  • Activities and gifts outside of my $50 monthly allowance - when it's gone, it's gone
  • Buying a dog
  • Electronics
  • Donations to charities - I have donated as much as I can in the past and I will do much more after this challenge
  • Plane tickets!
  • Unnecessary cosmetics and luxuries (spray tans, teeth whitening, nail polish, manicures/pedicures, massages etc.)
  • Cable
  • Gym equipment or additional memberships - my current membership is already paid for 2.5 more years.
  • Office supplies
The first step is to tell friends and family about this challenge. Most people are initially shocked, and one person even said I was crazy and potentially unhealthy. Once I explain my motivation and how one year of sacrifice is so much better than decades of debt payments, they are supportive. I'm definitely curious by how this will make a difference in my relationships over the next year.

I will have regular updates at the end of each pay period throughout this challenge to talk about how I stretch my $50 allowance and my debt payment totals. I don't have a specific amount of debt I expect to get rid of and I'm aware that I probably won't be entirely debt free next September. However, I'm really excited to see what the monthly and final numbers are.

Call me crazy but I'm actually a little excited for September 6th!


  1. This is fantastic.

    And thank you for sharing that link for And Then I Saved. I'm going to adopt some of these and see what happens!

  2. There's so many fun things you can till do on a budget so you don't have to jeopardize friendships! Wine and movie night (sign up for Redbox emails and you get weekly free rental codes), game nights, progressive dinners, pool parties (assuming friends have pools at their apartments). Plus it's almost apple picking season, pumpkin patches, Fall color hikes along the rivers!

    Good luck with this journey!