Too Thrifty Chicks

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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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Christina’s Story: Learning to Truly Give

Guest Contributor: Christina Sin 

 “No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank

I had a bucket list for 2013.  The most important goal on that list was to “pay off the ACS education school loan.”  I’ll be honest; when I wrote that down I didn’t have a plan of attack.  Then in April after reading about Operation Do Better, I decided to write down my debts and create a financial road map. I felt pretty good about my situation.

When I saw all my debt as a concrete number, I was floored.  I immediately began to reevaluate my budget.  What were the things I needed to pay every month?  How much could I set aside for “fun” things?  I read about strategies to cut debt.  I figured out how much I would need to earn if I wanted to pay off my student loan and have no credit card debt.  I realized that my salary plus babysitting and pet sitting could not guarantee that I would be able to cover all my expenses.  I was beyond frustrated and mostly disappointed in myself.  I felt like a failure.  I kept wondering what I was doing wrong.

 Then I realized I wasn’t doing anything wrong.  I was paying back debt—a lot of it too—but it wasn’t my own.    

Before I continue, I would like to provide some background.  My self-employed parents worked incredibly hard to provide my younger brother and me with opportunities they never had. They instilled in us a strong work ethic and a desire to always better ourselves.  I am eternally grateful for everything that my parents have sacrificed for me.  We were not wealthy, but I had a comfortable and wonderful life.

During my junior year of college, my parents’ income was drastically reduced because of unforeseen medical and economic circumstances.  I worked throughout college to pay my own tuition, and luckily, I found a job straight out of undergrad.  It was during this first summer as a professional that I realized how bad things had been financially for my parents.  Watching them struggle to stay afloat, I decided to help.

At this point, with the exception of rent and two small credit card bills, the majority of my income was going back home. I hustled to get babysitting jobs, and for over a year I worked as a nanny 5 days a week, in addition to my full time job and going to graduate school. I called credit card companies on my parents behalf and placed high interest credit cards on a hardship program, cutting their interest to 2-4%. I also setup a monthly payment plan designed to get my parents debt under control or eliminated in 5 years.  I called banks to negotiate lower interest rates or to remove penalties. It was gratifying to take several bills off my parents’ plate and serve as a translator.

Despite the good feeling I had about straightening out my parents’ finances, after two years I was discouraged and aggravated.  I was proud of myself for being financially independent and for giving to my parents, but I had not paid down a significant portion of my personal debt. In my quest to help my parents, I completely lost track of my own debt.  Granted, I didn’t have a lot of money left over, but I felt I could have done more to change my personal financial circumstances.

My frustrations crept into my daily conversations with my mom. She could feel my growing resentment.  During one phone call, I got angry with my mom for not saying “thank you” to me, and she said something I will never forget.  With a wavering voice she said,

“How many times do I have to say thank you?  You cannot understand how embarrassing it is for a parent to have to ask their child for help, or the intense failure that you feel as a parent.”

I had never been so ashamed in my life.

My mother and father never guilted me into paying off their credit cards or loans.  They never demanded that my paycheck go to them.  I made a conscious decision to help them. I volunteered to take on this role.

There are still days where I feel resentful and wish that my entire paycheck could be devoted to me.  There are still days where I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything because I’m close to paying off someone else’s debt, but mine still stares at me.  There are also days when I feel like I am not doing enough and that I will never get out of this financial rut.  But here are some things that I’ve done to lift my spirits:

  1. Gain some perspective. Whether it is through volunteering, talking to a friend or reading, I find it helpful to truly do something delibrate to shift my focus and gain some perspective.  Yes, things might get tough, but rather than focusing on all the things I cannot do, I sometimes need to focus on all the things I CAN do.  Typically, a making a gratitude list or volunteering helps.  I lead an incredibly privileged life and I want to be able to see everything as a learning experience that helps shape my character.
  2. Feel what you feel. I know that in the grand scheme of things my life isn’t horrible, but I also have learned to allow myself to feel angry or disappointed.  All of my emotions are valid and I am allowed to feel them. I’ve let go of trying to control everything that I feel.  It isn’t so important what I feel, but what I do with these emotions.  I can allow them to consume me, or I can acknowledge them and think of a healthy way to deal with them.  I am human and I am allowed to make mistakes, but I cannot let those mistakes define who I am.
  3. Follow your own path. A wise woman once told me to never compare yourself to others because you will always lose (thanks Reese!).  This is a pitfall I face frequently.  I see my friends saving, or buying homes or going to Europe and I think I’m doing something wrong because I am not doing those exact things.  How crazy does that sound?  It’s not easy, but I am getting comfortable with truly forging my own path and doing things that work for me.  Yes, I could have paid off my student debt faster if I didn’t help my parents, but I know that the decision I made to help them was the right one.
  4. Give to yourself. I believe that in order to truly give, one cannot expect anything in return. I’m learning to give without wanting anything back.  And I’m learning that it is okay to pay myself first through savings and that I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to treat myself to a cupcake.
  5. Talk to someone. This experience has taught me how to let it all out.  This blog post is probably the most public I have ever been about my financial situation, and it is very scary.  But as I’ve written this post, I found it to be incredibly therapeutic. It isn’t healthy to keep everything bottled in. Talk to a friend, write in a journal, pray to God.  Vent your frustrations and talk about your struggles, but once you’ve done that, have a plan.  Venting is healthy, but constantly complaining is draining for everyone.

As clichéd as it is, life is too precious to constantly worry or have regrets.  There is beauty in all things and the best part of life is finding that beauty and sharing it.


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Operation Better Don’t: Filet Mignon Tastes on a Do Better Budget

Remember when we told you about our YOLO month in April? Let’s just say we had that kind of month again in June. It wasn’t as bad, and we feel like we were at least conscious of what we were doing, but we still have some stuff to come clean about.

Reese and Ricks’ Good News: Reese was tempted to not do her charitable giving this month, but she did…and guess what? She exceeded the amount she  planned to give. This is the thing she’s most proud of from June. The other thing worth bragging about is she stayed within the $200 budget she set for the NYC trip…yeah! Ricks also stayed within her $200 budget and actually came home with money, like seriously $40! ::hits the running man::

Celebrating Ricks’s Last Day at Work: Celebrating Ricks’ last day at Air Force Times with friends was on June’s calendar. You can read about why she quit here. Reese planned to take care of that and other celebratory things.  Dinner, drinks, and mani/pedis totaled $163. Money well spent considering the magnitude of the event. The goal was to celebrate with no worries and lots of love. Mission accomplished.

Unplanned Expenses: Coffee shops, TJ Maxx, Forever 21, and a search for bowties got Reese this month. Total spent: $220. Ricks’ unplanned spending came in at about $350 with eating out, shopping in preparation for NYC and a brand- spanking-new pair of Chuck Taylors.

Groceries: We failed. Like forreal. We’re embarrassed to even tell y’all how much we spent. ::long pause while we hang our heads in shame:: OK. We’ll tell you. We spent $418 in the grocery store. SOH. That’s not going to happen again. Forreal. Never. We promise.

Moving Forward: Looking at the raw numbers, we know it could be worst. But it’s bad enough. This whole journey is about doing better, right? Here’s are our next steps:

  1. Weekly Finance Meetings: Every Monday, we plan to sit down on our thrifty couch, balance our checkbooks, talk about what we spent and why we spent it, and make whatever adjustments we need to make for the week. This, we hope, will keep our spending consciousness high and helps us stay accountable to each other.
  2. Grocery Shopping: We’ve noticed a trend: When we shop with cash, we’re much more conscious. At one point, we got our grocery spending down under $250. We’re aiming for that again. From now on, we’re going to the grocery store with cash only. What can’t be bought with what we have will have to stay at the store.
  3. Retail Fail? No More. Back to avoiding retail stores. We both fell short under the powers of funky sunglasses, studded tops, and cute pants. No more shopping alone. No more shopping without a list. Heck, no retail stores at all unless it’s an absolute need.
  4. Planned fun. We’re leaving ourselves some grace for spontaneous drives to Fredricksburg for a trip to the Sonic Drive-In restaurant [Don’t judge], and we allow a $20 allowance for spreading some good cheer in the neighborhoods we plan to visit for our Around Town series, which we’ve written about here, here and HERE, ICYMI.

There you have it folks. June in a nutshell. What are you doing to improve your financial health this summer?


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Doing Better: Christina’s Story, Part 3

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Christina and her hubby, David, are celebrating three years of marital bliss and financial fortitude. They’ve slayed more than $67,000 in debt. In this last installment of Christina’s story she tells us her top tips for taking control of your finances. ICYMI: Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of Christina’s story.

Christina’s Top Debt Slayer Tips:

  1. Pay yourself first.   I don’t care if it’s $10 or $250.   Open a separate account, aside from your spending account, and make sure you pay yourself.  It can be a Roth IRA, a money market account, a high yield or regular savings account, or another checking account.  Just make sure you have access to the money but not easy access.  Turn paying yourself into a bill.   Our emergency fund payment is a bill to us and we never touch that money unless we have to.
  2. Track your spending for a whole year.  I know this is a huge pain but you’d be surprised at what you spend and what you spend it on.   Keep receipts and don’t buying anything unless you can get a receipt.  You can try keeping your receipts for the month in envelopes labeled with that month’s name on it. Knowing what your monthly expenses are will help you know how much you need in your emergency fund, which should ultimately should cover around three to six months living expenses.
  3. Write down every debt you own. List what the original amount was and what the amount is now.  If it has an interest rate, write down what the rate is, what your minimum payment amount is and what you’re paying now.  All of these amounts should be in columns next to each other.   This will give you a good idea of what you owe and it will get your debt snowball rolling.  Pick which debt you want to start paying off first and write down how much you are going to overpay on that bill (e.g. overpaying $25). Add your overpayment amount to your minimum payment in the column next to your minimum payment column.  My advice would be to pay off the smallest debt first to get a win in your column.  When you pay that debt off take that over payment of $25 plus the minimum payment you had on the debt you just paid off and apply all of that money to the next debt.  This is called a debt snowball.  Google or Bing it because there are a ton of examples on how to do it.
  4. Read as much about finance and investing as you can.  Whether it’s blogs or columns, it’s time to get educated. I always keep up by reading Yahoo, CNN and MSN Money, CNN Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, and finance blogs.
  5. Keep yourself encouraged. A goals list, a vision board and reading ‘debt free’ stories help keep me motivated.   Put your vision for financial freedom on paper and be inspired of how others are getting it done to remind yourself that what you want to achieve is possible.
  6. Turn to your local credit union for help or a financial advisor.  David and I went through three advisors before we knew which one was perfect for us.  They can help coach you through the rough moments so you can reach your goals.
  7. Don’t start spending like crazy once you’ve paid off a lot of debt.   Change your goals to match your changed financial situation.  Constantly search for ways to revamp yourself and create extra income (passive income, extra job, freelance, etc.).

Getting closer

We’re closer than we were before to meeting our financial goals.   Our student loans are monstrous since the hubby went to two expensive art schools.  But we’ve managed to free up over $1000 a month in ‘free income’ so we don’t foresee our student loans taking more than 3 yrs since we are saving up for a bigger home and cash funding a new business.

We’re not sure what we will do once we’re completely debt free other than screaming it from the mountain tops!  Once we are rid of this consumer debt we are going to focus on funding our savings to the max and our retirement accounts too so we can retire early.  We also plan on giving more than what we give now to charities. It’s really important to us to give back when you are finally able to do so.

The Too Thrifty Chicks and the Operation Do Better Clique celebrate Christina and David and we look forward to your mountain top celebration! That is going to be one heck of a party!


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Doing Better: Christina’s Story, Part 2

Christina Walker is Doing Better and this week she’s sharing the part two of who she’s re-writing her financial history and changing her family tree. Missed the first part of Christina’s Story? Check it out here.

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First steps to freedom

In 2007/2008 I got my head together again.  Thanks to some sage advice, I moved my money from a traditional bank to a credit union and sat down with a financial adviser to talk about cleaning up my credit and becoming debt free. In 2009, I met my husband David Walker Jr.  Early in our relationship, we talked about working jobs that we loved and having the financial freedom to change our family trees and travel the world.  We both had a mindset of not wanting to be in debt before we met each other so there wasn’t much fighting over money.  We did have one struggle that led to our decision to merge our separate bank accounts.  We once took a trip and it was a hassle trying to see who would pay for what and out of what bank account so shortly after we had to figure out a new and better system.  Today everything comes out of one account. It’s so much easier with tracking and accounting.  His money is mine and mine is his. We even have wiggle room in our budget for our own personal ‘blow’ money.

We then started reading books by Suze Orzman, Dave Ramsey, Robert Kiyosaki and other personal finance gurus to develop a strategy to become millionaires.  With the help of our friends, we projected our goals for the next five years. We jotted that information down in a notebook that we called our “Goal Book” and we have worked to meet those goals every year since.  But the major thing we did was put ourselves on a budget for a whole year and kept track of everything we spent money on.  By everything, I do mean EVERYTHING! We kept receipts for all purchases, small or big, for a whole year so we could see exactly where our money was going. Each receipt was kept in its own envelope and in categories which helped a lot with our taxes and our knowing where we spent too much so we could ultimately cut back.

Mine + Yours = OURS

246589_4070503641194_1466817754_nDavid came with his own baggage but not much. He had student loans, bills and a car that just broke down on him. But he  lived in a family house that was paid for and didn’t use credit cards anymore.   So most of his overdue bills were small things like a doctor’s bill, which was  easily payable.  But since the universe likes to make things interesting, he got laid off and my car broke down, forcing us to shop for a new/used car.  Now, I was strapped with a car note again.

But we were determined and we loved each other very much. We also both really wanted to see each other be successful.   So with the help of our credit union, lots of financial books and reading financial blogs, we devised a strategy.   We wrote down every debt we owned, from smallest to largest, and decided to do a debt snowball. We redoubled our efforts to cut down on unnecessary spending and put any leftover money we had each month toward bills.  David worked really hard to get back in school and to find employment.  I worked two jobs at one point to pay down bills. He’s now working two jobs to pay down bills while I take a break.

Real sacrifice, real reward

There have been a ton of tough moments.  When we first started all of this, we stopped socializing when the events 228166_10150203044152720_5542172_nrequired us to come out of pocket.  Now, we can afford to eat out and go on trips but that’s not what our goals entail.  Our goals require us to be frugal and sacrifice so that we could do the things we want to do later. Once a friend of ours said when we declined yet another invite,  “Y’all ain’t broke. Why don’t you come hang out?” We stuck to our guns.   In our minds, we were broke.  Not poor.  Being broke, for us, meant we had bills to pay off and life ahead of us.  It mattered that we stop spending thousands of dollars on trips every year or eating out for every occasion or having a lavish wedding.

We paid cash for our wedding.  We only had 20 people in attendance because that’s all we could afford.   People were upset, especially family, but no one offered to pay for a bigger wedding so we made due with what we had.   It was better than we expected and it was classy.   We are always complimented on our wedding photos and we’ve even had friends use some of our ideas to plan their own small, inexpensive weddings.

Paying it forward

Throughout the entire process, I have encouraged my friends and family to jump on the “freedom bandwagon” many times. Some got really excited and started their own plan and some didn’t.   In the end some relationships fell to the wayside because it was either their time to end, or maybe we differed on how David and I were now living our lives.  But we were serious when it came to being financially sound and we wanted to make sure our lives reflected the walk we were talking.

Some of the best moments so far have been paying off our new $18,000 truck — yes, it was too high but we needed a truck to carry around our two dogs and other equipment. It took us less than three years to pay it off because we paid bi-weekly and made extra payments for two years. All of that culminated in us being able to make a final $5000 cash payment to pay the sucker off.  We got David’s student loans out of default and paid back my four 401(k) loans. We  paid off an old overdue but significantly high energy bill from David’s family house, paid off all credit card debt, increased our credit scores by 100-plus points and reduced the interest rate on my loft from 6% to 4%.

Envisioning a beautiful future

382994_10150416391337720_776731016_nSince 2009 we’ve paid off  a little over $67,000  in consumer debt.  That may not seem like much and we still have a ways to go, but  it’s been cash since then and we’re completely free from a lot of the burdens we use to have. Having  each other first and foremost as accountability partners helps a lot. Writing down our goals in our notebook and creating a vision board also keep us motivated.   We know that ultimately we want to open our own business and have children, and we want to make sure we are financially ready to do those things before making those big leaps.  So the beautiful future we envision keeps the fire going…

Want to know Christina’s secret to slaying debt and saving for the future? Check out the last installment of her story next week!


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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.


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Body Art and Green Jeans: Resisting Temptation

Guest Contributor: Valerie V. Reed

Anyone who knows me well knows I have a fascination with all things involving ink. Yes. I’m the tattoo’d teacher and proud.

Last tattoo...isn't it pretty?!

Last tattoo…isn’t it pretty  I’m thrifty when it comes to almost everything I spend money on. Tattoos are the exception. I have 11 (or is it 12? I lose count!) and they range from $50 for the itty-bitty stars behind my ear to $350 for the cherry blossom tribal on my thigh.

It’s been over a year since I last went under the needle so it’s time for another…*sigh*… but I can’t. What I want is too big, too expensive and simply does not fit in my Total Money Makeover budget. That makes me kind of sad, but I’ve had to keep it in perspective. I could easily take the $400 out of my savings and splurge. I could rationalize the expense and convince myself that it’s something that will last a lifetime (literally), so it’s worth the money. But I’m not going to do that this time. I GOT GOALS! And my goal is to get from under the credit card debt that I’ve been buried in for way too long. But I know me. I’ll obsess over this next one until I get it. So I’m giving myself 6 months. In June I will have paid off two of the cards that I’m taking on in my money makeover. If I’ve met that goal and I still am obsessing over tattoo #12 (or 13?) in June, then I’ll treat myself. Win-win situation for me!

Last big shopping trip before the spending fast

Last big shopping trip before the spending fast

My next tattoo is a big temptation, but there are small, everyday temptations too. A few weeks ago I went into Marshall’s to make a specific purchase. They have earbuds for $3.99, and I needed some new ones. This particular store has been renovated and the bright lights and pretty colors of the new clothes sucked me in. I was immediately drawn to a pair of emerald-green skinny jeans and an animal print puffy vest. I wasn’t in there for clothes though. It was all about $3.99 earbuds, and they didn’t even have any in stock! I had a proud moment though. Instead of doubling back to get the jeans and the vest so I could feel good leaving out of there with a bag, I left empty-handed.

One thing my Total Money Makeover has shown me is that I’m stronger than I once thought I was resisting temptation. It’s only been a month but I’m doing pretty good. I got goals! I keep telling myself that. For the last 30 days I’ve forced myself to think about every single penny I spend. No ink. No green skinny jeans. No animal print puffy vest. I’m asking myself, “Do I really need that?” and often times the answer is “No, you really don’t.”