Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

I don't know about you, but 2015 has had me itching for change. The past year and a half showed me that I can handle change a lot better than I ever imagined. So, I'm taking on something a bit bigger this year -- myself. Over the years, I've accumulated some debt, paid it off, and then turned around and accumulated it all over again. I've finally come to terms with how my spending affects our family and am ready to tackle changing some habits in order to pay down debt for good. Coming off the minimalist challenge in January, I felt the urge to simplify after a month of purging. The best way to end the need to purge? Stop accumulating to begin with! If you're anything like me, you find the majority of your purging needs relate to those impulse purchases from Target. All those $1 bin picks add up quickly... especially when they end up in the trash. Just thinking about it makes me cringe.

So, I followed Anna's lead and challenged myself to a spending diet. It takes almost a month for something to become habit, so doing a no-spend month seemed like a perfect way to start changing my ways. I laid out a plan in advance to help me stick to my guns. I may have technically cheated by purchasing a couple of things in advance -- like a couple of books for my son and small gift certificate for my husband for Valentine's Day -- but those were exceptions. 

Here's what I did spend on. A couple were expenses that some might have eliminated. 
Gym membership -- this is on auto-draft, and our family is not willing to let it go just yet
Haircut -- I wouldn't have been able to get in for another month and a half if I had canceled.
Gas -- drove minimally, so even this was down
Minimal groceries -- meat, veggies, fruit, but no extras
Credit card bills

That's it. And those credit card bills... I annihilated them! All that money that wasn't being spent on stuff went toward those balances, and it felt amazing to see the numbers go down every week. Did I mention I paid toward my balances every week? Yep. By paying every week, there was less of a chance on it getting spent somewhere else and less interest accumulating daily. Win-win.

Wondering how you can avoid temptation? Here are a few things that helped me.
Unsubscribed from catalogs
Unsubscribed from store emails
Filtered store emails I stayed on directly into a separate folder in my email account
Locked my credit cards in our fire-proof safe at home
Paid with cash -- you will be surprised at how much more meaningful it is to hand over cold, hard cash
Feeling the urge? Put it in your "cart" and sit on it for a day or two, then think about what else that money could go toward.
Find a motivator. (Mine is the freedom of being debt-free.)

I also set up a high interest savings account that is separate from our normal bank and easily accessible online. The bonuses -- higher yield if I deposited monies three months in a row, and an even higher yield if I didn't withdraw funds for six months in a row. I followed the 52-week plan in reverse... depositing the amount that corresponds with the week, i.e. $52 the first week, $51 the second week, $50 the third week, and so on. By the end of the year, we'll have over $1k deposited by following this plan. Another win-win.

February's no-spend ways were intoxicating, so I'm seriously thinking about doing my best to continue. March already has some expenses that I can't avoid -- like a mandatory minimum commitment to my son's school fundraiser -- and I ordered some essential oils today in hopes of keeping our family health in check. But, this not-spending thing is turning into a game, and I want to win.

Do you think your family could do a no-spend month? I dare you to write down things you can cut out and calculate how much money you'd save. Double-dog dare you. Take the leap. Have you tackled a spending diet before? If so, what tips do you have to share?

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