No Buy Challenge
One of my big goals for 2019 is to pay off all of my credit card debt. For as long as I can remember money has made my anxiety and depression worse. I dealt with it in the worst possible way by ignoring it. I never had a budget or paid any attention to how much money I had or how much money I was spending. Thinking about my debt was stressful and I didn’t feel like I could deal with it. Anytime my bills would come in I would feel stressed out and uncertain about how to pay them. I put off making a plan for a long time because I just wanted to trust that it would work itself off. I finally realized I really needed to sit down and figure this all out and I feel so much better. I still have a lot of work to do but have a plan now and I feel like I know what I need to do to make that happen. I wish I had done this way sooner and if this is something you have been putting off I really recommend you go ahead and get started. I read this book and it really helped me get make a plan to get rid of my debt once and for all.
Get a Clear Picture
I used www.mint.com and www.everydollar.com to get a clear picture of my finances. The first thing I did was figure out how much my monthly bills cost every month. These are like car insurance, cell phone, utilities and health insurance that I have to pay every single month. This helped me get clear on how much money I need to survive and how much I was wasting every month. Once I was clear on my bills I figured out exactly how much debt I have. Totalling all of my credit cards was something I had been avoiding because it made me really anxious to think about. However, once I figured it all out and made a plan I felt a lot better. This is something I wish I had done way sooner. Since I had no idea how much money I had coming in or going out I spent money on things I couldn’t afford and continued to let my credit cards pile up.
Switching to Cash
I am going to be switching to paying for everything with cards to paying with cash. This is to help me be more aware of exactly how much money I am spending. A lot of times when I shop I don’t even pay attention to what the totals are. Using cash will make me more aware of how much I am spending and how much things cost. I am also committing to not putting anything else on my credit cards. Once I have a small emergency fund saved up I will be cutting up my credit cards so I’m not tempted to buy anything that I can’t afford. By paying for everything with cash I am going to build good habits to make sure I never get into credit card debt again. This will be a big adjustment but I’m excited to give it a try and I hope it will help me make sure I don’t waste money.
Make a Budget
I always thought making a budget sounded really hard and really awful. However, once I sat down to do it I thought it was kind of fun. I started reading Dave Ramsey’s book the Total Money Makeover and it really inspired me to live debt free. Before I didn’t really think it mattered if I had some credit card debt or not. That book really helped me see that I would be much better off not buying anything on credit and living debt free. It inspired me to set a goal to pay off all of my credit cards and start paying cash for everything. I made my budget using www.mint.com and it helped me see exactly how much it would take me to pay off all my credit cards and where all my money was going. It also lets you sync all your cards so you can see all your purchases and where all of your money is going. It really wasn’t hard once I sat down to do it and I felt so much better knowing I have a plan and I know what I need to do to get rid of the debt.
No Buy Challenge
I am dramatically cutting my spending in 2019 to try and pay my credit cards off as fast as possible. Dave Ramsey suggests really attacking debt because when you can see you’re making progress it will help you stay motivated. Thankfully I don’t have a problem with shopping (I actually hate shopping). Most of my “shopping” was from buying books, journals, pens and planners on Amazon. I also spend a lot of money working at coffee shops, ordering takeout when I don’t feel like cooking and going out for dinner and drinks with friends. Here is how I am going to address these on my no-buy challenge.
Books: I spend a lot of money on books which is silly because these are available to me for cheap or free. I am going to be keeping my subscription to Scribd which is like Netflix for books. It is only $8.99 per month and you get access to unlimited audio and ebooks from their library. I am a huge fan of audiobooks and this is WAY cheaper than buying audiobooks every month and less than what I would spend on one book from Amazon. I have decided to keep this because books and education are really important to me. I prefer to buy the paperback copy of books so I can write in them but I will no longer be doing this until I pay my credit cards off. If there is a copy of a book I really want that’s not available from Scribd I’m going to check it out from the library.
Groceries: I never used a budget before and I always kind of considered the grocery store a free for all zone. I never worried about how much money I was spending and just let myself buy whatever I wanted without a second thought. From now on I am going to be sticking to the amount I budgeted to buy food. Each week I will give myself cash to buy food. I’m actually pretty good at eating cheap from when I was grad school so I’ll be going back to eating a lot of eggs, pasta and other cheaper foods. The budget I gave myself for food is strict but doable. I am hoping to be able to increase it as my income and business grow and I get the credit card paid down.
Eating Out: I decided not to budget any money for eating out until I pay my credit cards off. Most of my eating out is actually picking up sandwiches, Mexican food or pizza to eat at home. I’m going to make meal planning more of a commitment and make sure I always have food at the house to eat. Usually, I order takeout when I’m tired and there’s not food to eat at my house. I’ve never really liked cooking but keeping some easy meals on hand should make not getting takeout food easy.
Coffee Shops: I work from home and spend a lot of time working from coffee shops during the day. Giving up this habit is going to be the toughest one. I might still allow myself to go on occasion. Ordering a regular coffee instead of a cappuccino or a latte will make it much more affordable. I have also started putting my coffee in a thermos and working at the library. This has been a really good option when I feel like I really need to get out of the house to focus on my work. Luckily there are a few really nice libraries where I live that I can go work at for free.
Drinks: I didn’t budget any money for alcohol but I occasionally go to happy hour or out on dates. I am only going to go out if I have paid off what I am committed to paying on my credit cards every month and there is money left over. My income greatly fluctuates from month to month so I imagine some months this will not be an issue and other months I will have to just give it up.
Gym Membership: If you follow me on Instagram you know that I love my gym membership. My gym will let me pause my membership for 3 months a year (it costs money to cancel it). I am pausing it for the first three months of the year and committing to doing home workouts. I mainly use the gym as a way to get out of the house and take a break from working. Since I live in Florida I am going to be switching from going to the gym to biking, walking outside and going for runs when I need to get out of the house. There are a lot of really nice parks where I live and there is a great cycling trail too. I live in a college town and the football stadium is open to the public to run stairs and laps. This was the toughest thing for me to give up because I use my gym membership all the time. Pausing it for a few months is a good compromise because it will help me get some momentum going to paying down my debt but it’s not forever.
Your spending categories are probably different than mine and a no buy challenge is different for everyone. When you sit down to make your budget look at your spending habits from the last couple months and identify all unnecessary purchases you made. You get to decide what you’re going to spend money on and what is going to be off-limits during your no buy challenge. I really tried to cut out everything that wasn’t non-essential. Since I don’t do much shopping this is mostly food, coffee and alcohol for me but everyone’s no buy challenge will be different. This helped me realize where I could change my habits to save money and help me get out of debt fast. Once I identified where I was spending money I challenged myself to come up with creative ideas to cut them out. I am hoping completing a no buy challenge will help me change my spending habits and help me save more money.
Investing In My Future
Honestly, I know my new budget is going to be difficult for me to stick to and it’s going to be a big lifestyle change. However, I know it will be worth it to set myself up for a better future. Learning how to budget and keep track of my money will be a really good skill for me to have in the future and will hopefully be something I use for the rest of my life. I already feel more in control and peaceful knowing exactly what I need to do. I am willing to be uncomfortable in the short term to have a debt-free future.
It’s easy to feel bummed out that I work so hard but am still struggling so much financially and can’t afford to do the things that I want to do. However, I know I am really blessed overall. I have a beautiful home to live in while I do this and I get to work for myself and build a business that I truly love. There are so many times in my life when I couldn’t have even imagined my life would be as good as it is now. Listening to The Dave Ramsey Show gave me new perspectives too because a lot of people have to sacrifice a lot more than I do in order to pay off their debt. Whenever I feel bummed out that I can’t afford something I remember to be thankful for everything that I do have. I am choosing to focus on how rich and blessed I truly am instead of how difficult things are or how much debt I have. If you want some tips on how I use small blessings to feel more gratitude throughout the day check out this episode of my mental health podcast. If you’re looking for an uplifting audiobook to help you change your mindset about money I really liked this book. It helped me feel like I could make more money and change my financial situation if I wanted to.
If you’re like me and money is giving you anxiety I suggest facing it head on and not putting it off. If you’re struggling with anxiety be sure to check out all my other posts here. There are lots of examples of people in terrible financial situations that were able to pay off all of their debt. Watching videos about people paying off their debt and getting their finances under control showed me how necessary budgeting is and inspired me to sit down and create a budget for myself. I now have financial goals for 2019 and it feels really good. I’m excited for my no buy challenge and getting serious about cutting my spending. Before I never thought about money and just did whatever I wanted. Now I am going to be more intentional about how I use and spend money. This has taught me to be thankful for what I have and not consume things that I don’t need.
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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