Day 21: Finanical Freedom [THE END]

Main Point: If you really want to know what you value, look at where you spend your money.

Today’s assignment:

  1. Calculate how much you’ve saved by not spending during these last 21 days.
  2. Encourage at least one other person to go through the fast.
  3. Starting tomorrow, begin keeping your 30-day journal.

What I wanted to buy today, but didn’t:

I didn’t buy the car wash, but I did get the Jello Pudding and the cookies that were on sale. That’s my little reward for spending this cash.

What was easy about today?

It was easy not to return my friend’s generosity with something that I had to spend money on. It’s OK just to send her a thank you card for having me over for the Super Bowl party.

What was hard about today?

It was hard to not get that pudding and cookies, but it’s the last day. It was my reward.

What did I learn from today’s chapter?

N/A.

What I was feeling today about my finances?

I feel very accomplished. I really stuck to this. Like really. I only used my debit card twice and that was during this last weekend for necessities. The only time I flubbed up with eating out was the day my furnace died, I left my lunch on the table and jetted out of my apartment. I used what I had when folks invited me to their dinner parties. I don’t think I stepped foot in Target. Going in there was one of my favorite pastimes, which really means of my biggest timesucks and money drains. Target really knew how to target me.

Here are the non-essentials I spent money on:

  • Eating Out $6.83
  • Clothes $0
  • Hair $0
  • Entertainment $0

At the beginning of the fast, I left my debit card at home and froze the few charge cards and credit cards. Then I went to the bank and withdrew $300. I still have … left in cash. Woot woot!

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Day 20: Relationships Rescued

Main Point: Taking a break from consumption can help you focus on the most important relationships in your life.

Today’s assignment: I will call a close relative or friend with whom I have exchanged gifts in the past and come up with an agreement that on the next birthday, anniversary or holiday, we will not spend money on each other but spend time with each other instead.

What I wanted to buy today, but didn’t:

I wanted to buy another car wash. While driving home from exercise class, I grew envious of the clean, shiny cars whipping past me. I swear the handsome guy sitting up  high next to me at the stoplight in his big, blue truck, looked down at me in disgust because my car is super grimy. Guess he won’t be asking me out? But I’m going to wait it out. The forecast says it might rain Sunday. That’ll be a few dollars (and my dignity) saved.

What was easy about today?

It was easy to exercise in my free class. The instructor offers three free classes a week. And they’re tough, too. Everyone really feels it the next day.

What was hard about today?

It was hard to talk about buying a 5-pound fitness hula hoop for upcoming classes. Some of the ladies said they just received theirs. When I looked at prices, they were 40 or 50 dollars. I don’t want to spend on that, but it would be a good investment. I’ll think about it hard. Especially since the spending fast will be lifted tomorrow.

What did I learn from today’s chapter?

The chapter reminded me that spending money doesn’t mean “I love you.” I’d much rather spend more quality time with my loved ones, especially my parents. It’s rare that my father and I just enjoy each others’ company aside from watching TV when I visit my hometown. I want us to create more memories.

What I was feeling today about my finances?

I still feel sad at my dwindling bank account. I’m confused a little about my retirement savings. Last night, my aunt and I were talking about the different vehicles in which I’m putting my money. She warned me not to have too many and asked me why I had term insurance. I don’t have kids. I’ll have to look further into that because I understood why term insurance was important when talking to my financial planner, but all of that has escaped my brain. She understood, saying every year she has to relearn medical insurance terms (HSA vs. FSA) and doesn’t have a mind for investing, either. I need to do more homework.

I also has asked my aunt if she had taking advantage of high interest rates of an online savings account. Throughout the day, I was trying to see which savings account is best for my Emergency Fund and Life Happens Fund. I decided to go ahead and start dropping a money in both. Now, I have direct deposits set up for both the funds.

I’m still trying to decide between needs and wants to. It’s been nearly two months since my loctician touched my hair. I love her, but don’t want to shell out the $80 to style my hair for my birthday next week. I’d do my own hair and spend that money elsewhere. It’s funny how quickly priorities can change.

Day 19: Strengthen Stewardship

Main Point: The better I handle the money I have, the more I may receive.

Today’s assignment: Sign a quitclaim deed acknowledging that everything I have belongs to God.

If you are ready to acknowledge that God owns everything you have, go online, print out and sign the quitclaim deed. If you honestly can’t sign the deed, pray that God will help you realize he’s in control.

Identify one area of your finances where you have been a good steward but where you may need some inspiration. Once you’ve identified one area of your finances that could be improved upon, determine what you can do to make it better.

I feel that I’ve been a good steward of my retirement savings, but I’d like to better understand each of my policies.

What I wanted to buy today, but didn’t:

I wanted to buy a car wash. It started yesterday when I saw the long line at Sheetz for the car wash. Everyone was trying to get the snow and salt off their cars. I’m waiting to see if it rains Sunday. That way, I’ll save some money.

What was easy about today?

Having more free meals at work. My company had clients from all around the country in this week, so we get the leftovers of anything that’s delivered. Yay!

What was hard about today?

It was hard to see my bank account balance dwindle after paying for rent and the cell phone bill. Ugh. It’s funny that just a few weeks ago, I would be spending everything until I had less than $100 in my checking account and the bank would send me a low balance alert. I don’t ever want to see one of those again.

What did I learned from today’s chapter?

The chapter reiterated that being a good steward of my finances could open up more blessings for me. Not that I’m deeply religious, but I remember a scripture that asks how can you be a good steward of much when you can’t manage the little you already have. I’m trying to save and pay debt now so that I’ll have good habits for when my life changes, and, I hope, my pay increases.

What I was feeling today about my finances?

I was feeling OK. I felt calm knowing that I have a budget and won’t be spending frivolously. Although this first part of the month will put a huge dent on my bank account, I know that things will get better.

Day 18: Broken Bonds

Main Point: It’s okay to embrace your wealth.

Today’s assignment: Stop worrying about not having enough money, because God has so richly blessed me.

What bonds have kept you from accepting God’s abundance in your life? Make a list any financial bonds you can identify. Why do you think you have a problem with overspending? What might be missing in your life that you try to make it up with shopping?

After you’ve made your list, identify just one financial bond you will commit to addressing.

My bonds:
– overspending (basically living paycheck to paycheck)

I think shopping was a way of passing the time because I don’t have a romantic partner to occupy that time. I’m restless in that aspect of my life. I like my job, friends, community service projects and I like my fitness routine. I guess I was buying things to make me more attractive.

I also have a problem overspending because that’s what my mother modeled growing up. I never heard about budgets or even knew about saving until I was well into college and later. This fast is helping me break this cycle.

What I wanted to buy today, but didn’t:

There was nothing I really wanted besides my floss. I felt that it was a necessity and was on sale.

What was easy about today?

Again, it was easy to not eat out. My company had a chili cook-off, so my co-workers basically fed me. After tasting 13 chilis, I was full.

What was hard about today?

It was hard to type all of my expenses in my Google budget spreadsheet. I did well during the fast. After looking at my expenses before Jan. 14, I realize that I wouldn’t have been going down a bad path.

What did I learned from today’s chapter?

I learned that having more than enough money could be just as troubling to some people as having too little. It’s as if they feel the rug will be pulled from beneath them.

What I was feeling today about my finances?

I’m feeling good. I look forward to paying my bills for the first half of the month. I hope I have a little bit to celebrate my birthday next weekend.

While watching The Bethenny Show, I saw that she was going to have Lynette Khalfani-Cox a.k.a. The Money Coach on her show. I love her! She talked about Cracking the Code: How to Get the Perfect Credit Score. Her segment was fun because the audience guessed what moves would be bad or good for credit. I loved her visualization with the items in the three different vases to illustrate your debt-to-credit ratio. I tweeted her after the show aired and she tweeted me back, saying thanks for watching her. I’m so glad she’s helping people with their personal finances. She speaks from experience.

Day 17: Perpetual Peace

Main Point: Trust that God will bring financial peace into your life.

Today’s assignment: Identify at least one aspect of your finances and decide today to stop stressing about it.

My financial worries:
– Not having enough money to pay off my federal student loans (coming up with the money payment)
– Not being able to help a relative or close friend in need
– Not having enough money to get car repairs
– Not having a large enough savings fund

What I wanted to buy today, but didn’t:

Nothing really. When I asked for gum again at work, one co-worker joked “When are you going to buy my own gum?”

I reminded her that I was still on the fast and her face dropped. It. Racks me up that she feels guilty for asking me to lunch or telling me to buy stuff. Buying is such an easy remedy for everyone it seems, but I know better now.

What was easy about today?

N/A

What was hard about today?

N/A

What did I learned from today’s chapter?

I learned that stressing and micromanaging everything is not healthy. I can only work one day at a time, one month at a time, and see progress slowly. I can find peace even in this struggle.

What I was feeling today about my finances?

I felt OK. I still need to figure out how totaled advantage of my online savings account with an interest of .075. It’s much better than my brick and mortar bank and my credit union. I’ll try to put a small amount away each much to watch the interest grow.

Day 16: The Caregiver Cliff

Main Point: Millions of U.S. households contain someone caring for an older relative or friend.

Today’s assignment: Take the time to learn about long-term care insurance and being planning for any caregiving responsibilities that may fall to me.

What I wanted to buy today, but didn’t:

I wanted to buy cookie dough and Jello pudding. It was on that 2 for $4 sale again. But I left Harris Teeter with my half gallon of milk and 12-packet box of instant grits.

What was easy about today?

Again, eating home-cooked meals and the Jimmy John’s lunch at work makes it easy not to dine out. I don’t understand why I was so lazy to cook and plan before. It’s one of the easiest ways to cook back.

What was hard about today?

Paying off my mattress debt was a bit difficult. The payment was nearly $140 more than the minimum amount due. I’m trusting myself to continue to buy essentials so I’m not wasting money, and still have enough left over to pay bills. It’s super exciting to write PAID IN FULL next to that debt though. Now, I can add $50 (from two minimum payments) to the next card payment on my Debt Dash Plan. The next debt will be paid off in six months using this method alone. It could be sooner if I put my freelance money to it.

What did I learned from today’s chapter?

I hadn’t even thought about long-term insurance, but I feel good knowing that veterans and their spouses could get help. I’ll keep that in mind for my father and stepmother. Now, my mother, is a different story. I have no idea how to broach the subject of money with my mother. We don’t see eye to eye on this subject.

What I was feeling today about my finances?

Today, I’m between feeling empowered and scared. Paying off that mattress debt in full has me a little antsy, especially when I was looking at airplane tickets for my summer trip to New Orleans.

Day 15: Guard Against Greed

Main Point: Greed blocks your path to prosperity.

Today’s assignment: Take an inventory of what you own to guard against wanting more. Be on the lookout for things that pull me in the direction of greed.

What I wanted to buy today, but didn’t:

Nothing really.

What was easy about today?

It was easy to stick to homecooked meals after, well, cooking some meals at home and packing them up. I’m glad I’ll essentially have free meals at work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It’s going to be a good week.

What was hard about today?

It was hard to figure out whether i wanted to pay off a debt in full before the interest kicked in. The six-month mark was coming up on this promotional deal. I kept playing with the numbers in my bank account and what I expected from the my job and freelance gigs.

I talked to the credit union representative again about consolidating debt. I’ve read that three out of four people end up paying the consolidation loan and more credit card bills because they rack up more debt again. They get a false sense of security and fall back into poor habits. I deferred the loan for now, telling the representative that I wanted to try Michelle’s Debt Dash Plan first. The smallest debt is paid now – $28.42. It’s a start.

What did I learned from today’s chapter?

I never connected greed and fraud until I read this chapter, but it makes sense. It’s unfortunate that people think they can get a huge return on a low-risk, small investment. But I thought about how that occurs in my left. I guess I just thought the debt would go away eventually without really scrimping and working hard to reduce it. I’ve learned my lesson now.

Taking stock of what we have in our closets, cabinets and drawers would really open our eyes to the excess we live in each day.

What I was feeling today about my finances?

I felt empowered today. Having the Debt Dash Plan makes me eager to pay off debts. I underestimate the power planning and organization can give you.