Frugal Beautiful

Posts Tagged ‘Debt Reduction

The famous line “People first, then money, then things,” comes from financial guru Suze Orman.  I adore Suze- I am watching her show right now on Itunes.  Fabulous stuff!  While her other advice is great- “people first,” is really something I’ve been focusing on.  I’m currently on the 30-Day-No-Shopping Challenge and I realized that time not spent shopping needs to be filled with something else in order to succeed.

Filling your life with people, not things is a way to free up your money for greater opportunity: retirement, starting a business, going on vacation, cutting your work hours and living comfortably…or how about this:  not bursting into tears when the credit bill comes each month?  That sounds pretty darn good.

 

Shopping keeps us busy.  It also gives us a sense that we’re building something- a more beautiful home, a more savvy wardrobe to spur more confidence,  a repertoire of things to make life better, faster, more efficient.  But what it all boils down to is people.  We want a nicer home to invite friends over and gadgets to entertain them with, a wardrobe that inspires awe and praise from people at work,  a birthday gift that shows our appreciation.  While things can be useful- it’s a distraction from the sometimes intimidating work of making personal connections with people and building community based on our own personalities and effort.

I recently had some friends over for drinks after hitting up a discount pizza place for their Monday night specials.  Honestly, I was embarrassed to have them over- my new apartment was sparsely furnished- we didn’t even have enough chairs for everyone.  I found myself fretting over the appearance of my apartment, but of course- as you can imagine, nobody cared.  Everyone was just happy I opened my home and we had cheap beer and wine and sat around and talked.  They were happy to get together, and in the end, I was happy to have done it.  Relying on personal connections and not things can be scary-  but often the experience is more genuine.

To ensure the success of my No-Shopping Challenge, I’m filling my life with EVENTS and not stuff.  I’m going to knitting meetups and attending health workshops.  I walk my dog each day and finally tackle projects that have been nagging at me.

 

Shopping has been a distraction for far too long.  It makes you feel accomplished, productive and successful when you can buy something new- especially when you’ve hunted down a good deal, but the activity of shopping usually distracts from other activity.

What are you using shopping to hide from? How are “things” holding you back from genuine experiences and connections with people?  Does debt keep you in a constant state of stress or does shopping hide the fact that you haven’t explored what really makes you happy?  Do you feel you don’t have the right “things” to start your goals?  (Trust me, having a cute pair of Nikes will not really encourage you to go to the gym).

People first– the money will sort itself out and the the things will matter less and less.  You will have exactly what you need.

 

 

Victoria's Secret Black Friday at Westfield San Francisco Centre 2009While I am not in consumer debt- I seem to have a penchant for spending as much as I make- if not sometimes more (which is easy to do when you work part time and go to school).

I find that my spending habits are irregular- sometimes I’m very aware of my income level for the month and spend accordingly- other times I feel as if I make all of my purchases at once leaving for one month of an unusually high credit bill.

I just recently took in a foster pug named Ralph, and while some expenses are reimbursed, much is not- such as kibble, treats, grooming and a bed -$80.  I also a month ago signed up for a student gym which was -$96 ( if I go to yoga at least once a week it’s the cheapest rate around, even better when I go twice weekly!) +$6 for yoga gloves to help my grip on the mat.  I got a great rate to fly back to the west coast for a 5 year reunion with my friends from the non-profit, which was a round-trip ticket for -$305 with taxes.  I also purchased two books from Amazon for -$20.  Needless  to say, it’s gonna be a wee-bit tight for the next two months since I make a meager income and I’m going to challenge myself to BUY NOTHING for 30 days.

I tried to challenge myself and not shop for 30 days at the beginning of this year and failed around day 20.  I had to chip in conjunction with a gift card to buy a pair of boots I needed for winter so that was $25, and a few days later I gave in at Target and got a pillar candle and a picture frame.  Seriously, THAT is what mucked me up- $33 in 2 days.  I have to try again- both because I’m broke and because I’m prideful.

The Challenge Parameters:

-No purchases except food, medical care and necessities for the dog (if the dog needs a crate I will get him 0ne).

-Gift cards may be used, but not if the purchase exceeds the card amount.

-My grocery bill must be under $200 for the entire month.

-Purchases for the reunion dinner are applicable since I am in charge of the food/prep/setup.

What else am I forgetting?  Oh, ya, probably how challenging it’s going to be. Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.

 

I want to set up a reward for myself at the end of the 30 days, but what can I do as a treat for myself that wouldn’t defeat the purpose of saving money? Suggestions are appreciated.

See you on March 1st, 2011 for a challenging challenge!

Valentine Piggy  {09.365}

You need to be doing one of two things:  Either paying off your debt or saving for your future. RIGHT NOW.

If you have income, you need to either get out of debt or put a little money away for saving (or spending!)

I can not entice you with promises of how great it will be when your wrinkly-ass wants to be at the vacation home for your retirement years in Florida with the grandkids- but I hope I can help you realize that in 6 months, that microwave/wedding/vacation/new Coach Purse isn’t going to pay for itself and it sure as hell is not going on a high-interest credit card!

You will hear over and over again that you need to save for the “unforeseen problems” that are bound to happen as you age.  Well, screw that.  I’m here to tell you that you need to be saving for the problems you TOTALLY SEE coming in the next 6-12 months and will save you from the agony of paying 12-18% (plus late fees) on it.

In my previous finance article, I asked you to be aware of your present spending habits.  Now I’m asking to couple this awareness with thought about the not-so-far-off future, with purchases that are tangible.  Sure, you could get more excited about a new pair of Jimmy Choos, but I think you’ll get just as excited about replacing a crappy coffee maker if you know it’s paid for in cash and you don’t have to go on living without it.

You know you have purchases coming up, or perhaps you’re already sweating about what you already bought.  Stop fretting (or avoiding) retirement planning, and get your youth out of the sinkhole!

Resources on the Interwebs:

Mint.com–  Set goals and set budgets in a simple fashion that you can follow online or on your phone.

SuzeOrman.com– Her website is great, but check out the free podcast of her show or her fabulous gender and genre specific finance books.

Up next? This may sound counterintuitive, but I will soon be posting my FAVORITE links to finding designer duds for stupid-cheap.

I’m going to be posting several small articles that will help you tackle your finances and be your most powerful self in quick, do-able steps. Today’s step?

Take 5 minutes to look through your wallet, bank statement and credit card bills.  Taking stock of what’s going on with your spending habits will give you powerful insight to take control of your life!

It is time to get real with your finances, because you know you aren’t doing what you should!  Take a good hard look at what’s going on in your wallet (or how many swipes away you are from wearing a hole in your credit card) and evaluate what’s happening in your life.

Your finance habits correlate with your thinking and living habits.  I can tell you when I relocated to Chicago, my spending was out of control!  While I bought a lot of things I needed for the new place and new weather conditions, I was so desperate to get “settled,” that I didn’t think my purchases through.  Needless to say, I ended up with two pairs of boots purchased online I don’t use, and three very high credit bills.  I was so stressed about feeling secure in my personal life, I was doing the opposite in my financial life!  Take stock (and a good hard look at  where your money is going) and spend just 5 minutes quickly spotting any red flags or things to simply be aware of.

It’s that simple.


Check out some of my favorite sites that will make this goal a breeze and give you ideas!

www. Mint.com – (MY FAVORITE TOOL)- online or on my phone!   In 10 minutes you can see every penny you have saved or spent in savings, CD, investments and credit cards.  PLUS they generate great tips and leads for better ways to save money on purchases and gain more for your savings!

http://www.dailyworth.com/ -their daily emails are fabulous!

http://lifehacker.com/

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/ -they so totally are!

http://www.Wisebread.com

http://www.frugalvillage.com/ -I love the forums, any question you want answered from a variety of perspectives!

Up next? Two simple things you need to be doing to live a healthy financial lifestyle- and it doesn’t have to be painful!


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