This is both a review of “The No Spend Challenge Guide: How to Stop Spending Your Money Impulsively, Pay off Debt Fast, and Make your finances fit your Dreams” by Jen Smith; and my thoughts on why my debt got high last year and what I’m doing to get it down and paid off this year.
So this was another book that I read on personal finances during January. It was short book, making it a quick and easy read that gave you numerous ideas on how to start your own no-spend challenge. One of the nice things was the honesty of the author that there is no time line, just how if you spend less (and be sensible on what you do need to spend money on), you can get out of debt. I’m planning on taking the advice of the author and starting small with a no-spend day (or days), and then working up to a no spend week, and then up to a no-spend month.
One thing that one needs to know is what is your level of debt? How many credit cards do you owe money on? Are there recurring charges to any of the cards? If there are recurring charges are they necessary charges? What other loans do you have? Student loans? Car Loan? Mortgage?
Currently my debt is limited to a single type: credit card. I managed to get through both my undergrad and grad school careers without any student loans (mainly because I have awesome parents that allowed me to live at home during that time to save money). Having anxiety is a good thing in some ways—I don’t drive, so therefore there isn’t any type of car payment or money going towards that. I’m currently still living with my parents, so until I find a job somewhere else in the country, there isn’t rent or the thought of a mortgage.
I know that I have several recurring charges on several of my credit cards. Are they all necessary—no, they aren’t but they’re little things that once the cards are paid down enough they can be paid off monthly. I know why my credit card debt went up last year—there was the trip to London (international travel isn’t cheap), and then there were some joining a job search strategy group while I was unemployed (helped me figure out how to revamp my linkedin profile), and other personal and professional development packages that I bought. These were investments in myself, that once completed will help me in the future.
Investing in ourselves is costly, and there are many of us (myself included) who turn to the credit cards to pay for those courses hoping that they will lead to a better paying job that will allow for us to pay the cards off finally. So while I am still searching for that industry/non-academic career, I’m going to use some of the author’s advice as getting my credit card debt down is a goal and one that I know is achievable if one is sensible and determined.
As the author states, “Determine when you want to be debt free to determine what it’s going to take to get there”.
Currently I’m just trying to do no-spend days (which means bringing tea to work in the morning [and making due with it], and not grabbing any type of snack at work [including fruit cups]), and since the beginning of the year (which has been 33 working days), I think I’ve managed four to five. Not the greatest, and I know I can and should do better.
So my goal for the next six weeks is to have at least three no-spend days per week (so at least 3 out of 5 days) at work. If I need to order something, I’ll make a list and try to get several things ordered at once (to save both time and money).
My big financial goal is to have my credit card debt down to where each card is getting paid off in full monthly and to reach this goal (consistently) by September 28, 2020.