Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spending Challenge: September Totals

I know I started on September 6th but I get paid on the 1st of each month so to make matters less complicated, I'm going to do my updates on the last day of the month. I will still finish on September 5th, 2015. 

Starting Balances
Amex: $1,545.79
Mastercard: $5,714.27
Sallie Mae: $14,123.57
Chase: $19,907.33
Sallie Mae: $24,754.52

October 6th Balances
Amex: $1,545.79 $0
Mastercard: $5,714.27 
Sallie Mae: $14,123.57 $11,472
Chase: $19,907.33
Sallie Mae: $24,754.52

That's a total of $4,518.32 this month! Doesn't that $0 balance look pretty??

I dog sat, babysat, wrote resumes, received bonuses at work, sold my kayak, received an inheritance, found plenty of affordable activities and stuck to the spending challenge rules to make this happen. This is certainly an abnormal month because I won't always have large items to sell and an inheritance doesn't happen every day. The momentum from this month has been incredible though!

Side note: Normally I would follow Dave Ramsey's snowball strategy and I would have made a dent in my Mastercard. However, the money from the inheritance was given to me by my parents who wanted to support my school debt. Understandably, they didn't want the money to pay off my excessive Target trips ;) Any debt payment going forward will follow the snowball plan.  

The hardest part about the challenge this month was: Honestly, it was hard to find a challenge this month. It wasn't always my preference to prep my meals and plan ahead to avoid eating out. But with my food budget, I was able to get a meal or two out without consequence. I suppose you could say I easily would have bought clothes from Target over the past few weeks. Their fall lines looked adorable and definitely my style. Occasionally people were busy doing things that cost more money than I wanted to spend. It left me doing activities solo on occasion, which isn't always fun. The mindset that this challenge is going to make my life better made the challenges worth it. I have a feeling most months won't be this easy though!

What I learned from the challenge this month was: There are tons of free things to do and so many people are on board with doing more affordable activities! I was worried that people would count me out and drift away from our friendship if I wasn't able to spend money and that has certainly not been the case at all so far. I'm learning my insecurities were what was holding me back rather than reality. I learned that it feels great to set a goal and stick to it, rather than sway with any negative feedback of others.

For so long my goal has been to be out of debt and it has consumed me, unsuccessfully. I'm learning that it's not about the numbers. I know that when I'm 100% debt free, my life won't change all that much. I'll have less stress and more options financially, no doubt. But the people that love me will care for me either way. 

One more lesson I learned - it was actually fairly easy to keep my spending money. By Sunday I still had $30 left. I splurged on Thai food delivered to my house. Ugh, the fees and tip alone cost $10. Looking back I'm bummed that I did it. I know in other months that $30 would really help. Lesson learned to save any leftover fun money for rainy days!

The best part about the challenge this month was: seeing how supportive people are. 95% of people I have talked to have been so encouraging and it makes this so much easier. Yes, seeing the $0 balance on my credit card felt pretty great and knowing I have less than $3,000 left in credit card debt is exciting. I honestly would have assumed that would have been the best part of the month.

1 month down, 11 to go! There are already some big things on the October schedule so I'm excited to see those numbers next month!

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