Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Friday! Tackling Debt, and No-Spend January is almost over!

The End of No-Spend!

Today is the very last day of No-Spend January! Yay! My husband's on night shift for work, and I told him that he's allowed to go the grocery store after midnight tonight. (He already has a long list of things he wants.) I hope that when I wake up Saturday morning we have lots of yummy food! I also have a Fun Run Event planned for my Vegan-Powered Meetup group on Saturday morning that is supposed to end at Whole Foods so that we can all grab lunch afterwards. I'm planning on also picking up some grocery essentials.

I hope I don't go too crazy when I hit the stores on Saturday, but our pantry has been well cleaned-out. Also, there is not much food left in our house so we kinda need to replace everything we've eaten this month (and to restock my fridge with fresh produce)!

No-Spend January has been a good learning experience. We've cleaned out our pantry, gotten a little creative with our cooking, and learned that you can actually buy a lot of food, even on a tight budget. I've also realized that I don't need to spend as much money on convenience items to have a good meal. It's actually much healthier not to eat processed foods. I'm usually kind of an organic foods health nut, and I've realized that I could save a lot of money if I don't focus so much on "organic" produce as much as what's seasonal, cheap, and available. I plan on taking some of what I've learned and extending these practices into the future: get less expensive foods, price shop, buy more in bulk, focus on affordable produce, etc.

An added bonus to all of this no-spend-month-ing is that our bank account is looking pretty healthy! I get paid today, too, so there's even more moolah on the way! I've made some long-term budgeting plans, and I plan on cooking more, eating out less, spending less on groceries (in regards to convenience and junk foods), and using that extra money to pay down some serious student loan debt each month. I talked to my husband about this last night about debt and budgeting. We took a good hard look at our student loans and car loan and decided that instead of using Dave Ramsey's Snowball Method, we're going to pay off the loans with the highest interest first. We're also using to keep track of budgeting. It's a great tool, and I've had an account for a while. However, I'm going to start taking it more seriously and checking how well we stay within our budget each month. It's time to start being an adult and stop spending money like it's going out of style! 

Tackling Debt 

Debt is a major concern of mine, but for a few years I've just been ignoring it and consigned to that "fact" that everyone has student loan debt and you're going to be stuck with them for a good long while. Not True! I've been reading up online about Dave Ramsey's method and lots of blogs from people who have gotten completely out of debt or are making serious progress getting out of debt. We're lucky because we've never abused credit cards and have fairly smart spending habits. Thanks mom for raising me this way! Well, we spend a lot of money, but we at least live within our means.

Now, I've got a serious action plan! We're going to knock out some of these student loans so that we can free up some money to pay for the things we really want! We'd like to have a house eventually and start having a family (Ah! The thought of having babies still scares me.). As we pay off our debts, we'll have more money available to put towards our house fund (which strangely has been getting smaller lately due to a large purchase of new living room furniture in October and from when we took out almost $4K to pay off one of my Sallie Mae loans in December).

It's such a great feeling to make your debt disappear! So far we've paid off: my husband's car loan, my Sallie Mae loan that had 10.75% interest (That was criminally high!), and one of my small federal loans! I'm excited to get rid of more of these puppies!

Anyways, let's end on a less serious note! One of my favorite bloggers, Bonzai Aphrodite, likes to start off her weekend's with a "love list", a list of all the great things happening in your life or things that you're loving. I'd like to mimic this with a love list of my own, and please feel free to submit your own little love list in the comments section below! (Also, check out her blog because she is one awesome chica!)

Things I'm loving lately:  Jillian Michaels ab workouts (This lady is one tough cookie, but she makes me smile while kicking my ass!); running outside in the cold single digit temperatures (Yes, I'm one of those crazy runners!); not spending a single dime on anything unnecessary this month; my Siberian Husky, Miki, and how she barrels through the piles of snow on our runs and never seems to get cold thanks to her super soft furry coat; my awesome husband for sticking it out with me through most of this No-Spend January challenge; and chocolate-cherry oatmeal (one of the few good foods left in my pantry)!

Have a great weekend and spread the love!

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