Too Thrifty Chicks

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A Too Thrifty Challenge: No Spenduary

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I’m not going to lie.

It’s about to get crazy up in here.

That’s right. I’m doing it again. I know, I know. You’d think I would have learned my lesson after the epic fail that was Oktoberfast.

And you’d be right. I did learn my lesson.

I learned that financial fasting without purpose and reward is a recipe for failure.

I also learned that challenges help me stay motivated and keep my head in the game on this Free By 40 journey. Even when I fail, I just get back up, re-evaluate and move forward.

If I’ve learned nothing over these last few years of digging myself out of this pit is that consistency and persistence pays off. I am the tortoise, but challenges allow me to also be the hare, too.

Plus, the first month of the year is a good time for a budget reset after the frenzy that often is December.

Thus, we have No Spend January, also known as No Spenduary.

The Mission

Spend no money on non-essentials during the month of January. Pay all fixed costs, but keep the essential spending like groceries and transportation to a minimum. That means eating from the fridge and the pantry, and walking and biking as weather permits. Sell anything that you think might turn a profit and freelance, freelance, freelance. Weekly updates. (Might as well keep this blogging momentum going.)

The Goal

Quickly save a mini-emergency fund. Anything above that will be thrown at my next savings goal: a fully funded YNAB buffer by March 31.

The Reward

Given my mindset right now, knowing that my mini-emergency fund is chilling in my bank account is its own reward. But I think my reward for accomplishing my mission will be spending $100 on anything I want.

Care to join me?

 

 

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Tidbit Tuesday: Operation Do Better 2.0

Now that summer is rapidly coming to a close, the Thrifty Chicks are in the mood for rapidly pulling back on spending. Yeah, we know we have said that we’re on the Operation Do Better train for the long haul, but even the the Thrifty Chicks fall off the wagon.

So, we are making yet another public declaration. It’s time to push pause on any form of unnecessary spending. What that means is Operation Do Better 2.0 starts Sept. 15 and we’d like to invite you to join us as we say no to spending that doesn’t help us achieve the things that we said were important to us when we started this whole thing, namely: giving, saving and debt elimination.

We picked that date because Ricks’ 34th birthday is on Sept. 13 and there will be a few festivities — scaled back though they are — to get through. Ricks’ also considers each blessed birthday she is allowed to see as her new year and an opportunity to re-evaluate and make necessary changes just as most people do Jan. 1 each year. Reese is a legit near-new year baby (Jan. 2) and part of her birthday celebration is one of the reason’s we’re talking about Operation Do Better 2.0.

We’re going to SOUTH AFRICA, y’all! Since the beginning of 2013, we’ve known that we wanted to celebrate the new year in South Africa.  We’ve been making necessary changes to how we handle our finances so that we could live better lives overall, but those changes also had to do with the short term goal of getting to South Africa.

As many of our regular readers well know, Ricks quit her job in June and is pursuing life as her own boss. The reality of that means that Reese is the only Thrifty Chick bringing in a steady paycheck. With a lot of communication, faith and support we’re making it, but December is no longer 12 months away. December is only four short months away. Yikes! In our favor is before Ricks left her job, we both purchased our round trip plane tickets with travel insurance. Now, the only thing we have to cover is lodging, food and in-country travel.

While the trip is important to us,  so is Operation Do Better 2.0.  This reduced income life is hard, and we will be sharing some of the things that we’ve done and are doing in posts to come. But what it means is refocusing on what we said was truly important when we started this whole thing almost nine months ago. We care about experiences, not stuff. We don’t mind working, but we don’t want to define our lives by what we do to make money. Living simply and sustainably isn’t something we want to TALK about, but BE about.

For us, Operation Do Better 2.0 means refocusing on the big three: giving, saving and debt elimination. And we invite to you to recommit to what you truly want out of life. Maybe it is owning a house, with a white picket fence, two kids and a dog. Maybe it’s seeing as much of the world before you die as possible. For you, it might be the satisfaction of knowing that you control your own destiny because you don’t owe anybody anything. Whatever it is, we invite you to join us in Operation Do Better 2.0.

Here are a few things to get you going:

1. Be accountable. If you don’t yet have someone to share your money triumphs and struggles with it’s time to find that person. This person should be someone who won’t judge, but will call you on your foolishness. It also helps if this person is willing to reciprocate. This person needs to be someone you trust enough to confide the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

2. Be real. When we say the whole truth. We mean the whole truth. Share your money story — all your hang-ups, the stupidest things you’ve ever done with your money, and why you want to get it right this time. Reese and I shared our stories this summer and it was eye-opening to say the least.

3. Be transparent. Reese and I instituted a weekly finance meeting. We talk about sources of income and how much is coming in. We talk about how much is going out. We talk strategy about how we can make adjustments. We also talk about how we’re feeling. These talks can be morose when money is tight so…

4. Be thankful. After too many finance talks that sounded like defeat, we’ve decided to put a praise report at the start of every Too Thrifty Chicks finance meeting. We want to give thanks for all the good things, no matter how small. We’re blessed and we know it. You are blessed too. Never forget it.

5. Don’t forget grace. There are going to be rough moments. We knew this going into Operation Do Better and you should know it too. You’re going to make bad choices once in a while and that’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up. Keep your goals in sight. Write them somewhere you can see them and keep moving forward.

Stay tuned for more information about what we’re doing with Operation Do Better 2.0 and what we’re learning along the way.

— R & R


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Doing Better: Christina’s Story, Part 1

As the Too Thrifty Chicks have been on the Operation Do Better train to financial freedom, we’ve met some really great and inspiring people along the way who are in fact doing better.  People like our friend Christina Walker, a self-described 30-something from Detroit, who works for the state of Michigan, and along with her husband David Walker Jr.,  has her sights on being a millionaire.

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Breaking All the Rules

I got into debt early, in college, with credit card offers and a bunch of friends who loved to travel.  It was so easy to sign up for a credit card and not worry about payments until later. I would pay the minimums or use a little student loan money to cover payments.  I worked while I was in college too, which meant not only was I spending a lot of money, but I wasn’t saving any of it.  My mother warned me not to mess up my credit and to stay on campus to save money.  But I didn’t listen.  I wanted the freedom to stay off campus with no rules; to live like other grownups who had their own piece of the American pie; and the financial leverage to keep up with my own interests and the interests of my peers.   To add insult to injury, my first car was ruined by a tropical storm so instead of just saving up for another vehicle, or  using public transportation, I financed my first car and paid way too much for it not knowing the proper way to buy a car.

I graduated with not only more student loans than I needed to borrow, but also with a car note and a Discover credit card balance.  Off into the world I went with the absolute need of a full time job and no room to discover myself. Nevertheless, I left my college town of Savannah, Ga. determined to purse my dreams and make it work. I moved to Sarasota, Fla. to purse an internship at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, but I couldn’t afford to be an intern and continue do what I loved.  The internship only offered a $1,000 stipend for 3-4 months and that stipend had to cover my car note, credit card bill, housing and food.  It just wasn’t going to happen and it didn’t.  I got behind on payments.  The car company was calling my mother because she had co-signed the loan for me. She was so disappointed in me because she had to make up the payments I’d missed and was too ashamed to tell her I had missed.

Once my money matters started to affect my family, I had to make some tough choices.  At this point, Discover already had a judgement against me. To make ends meet, I found a job as a telemarketer that I could do while I continued my internship.  When I found out the internship was not going to turn into gainful employment, my mother told me to move back home to get things together.  I agreed and moved back to Detroit. I got a good paying job and vowed from there on to never make those money mistakes again, but I ended up making more.

 Never no more…well maybe a bit more

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Once I moved back home, I worked out an arrangement with Discover and got my car note payments under control.   The judgment was paid off and the Discover account was closed.  But it stayed on my credit report, so I had to do something to repair my credit.  Fortunately for me, I had a secured credit card from when I was in Sarasota trying to make ends meet.  This card was paid on time and I only had a $200 limit so I couldn’t easily run up the bill and mess things up. That secured credit card helped me establish a good payment history, but overall my newly found resolve to retire a millionaire is what really got me going.  I decided early in my job to be financially sound. I was 22 or 23 and despite my early money missteps, I managed to save money in a 401(k).  I made sure that 3% of my paycheck went into savings and I had an employer match.

But having that goal still didn’t curb my spending habits.   I ended up back sliding and had to close my secured card around 2004/2005.   I paid if off and paid off my car note shortly after, but by then I had house fever. A friend had just purchased her first home at age 25 or 26 and I wanted to purchase a home too.  So in 2006 I went loft shopping and found a place that I loved at the height of the housing boom.  I bought a $141,000 loft  with all the bells and whistles with a 6.125% interest rate. At the time, I was working in the arts community and funding non-profit projects with loans from my 401(k), so a house should have been the last thing on my mind.  But it was happening again. My spending was getting out of control!  I couldn’t believe how  fast it happened and ultimately what I had to show for it wasn’t that great.  My friendships were so-so; the non-profits I invested in were wearing me out emotionally, physically, and mentally; and I really didn’t want to work my job. It was just a means to pay the bills…

Want to find out the rest of the story on how Christina turned her financial life around? Tune in next week to learn more about why she’s on her way to being the first millionaire we know.