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The Debt Diet Challenge Week #6: Nights Out and Vacations on a Budget

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This is our weekly installment of The Debt Diet Challenge, in which we follow the progress of participants selected to take Jean Chatzky’s Debt Diet as they work to get themselves out of debt and on track to a better financial future. Every week, the participants blog about their experiences with the program.  Here are their latest dispatches…


It was a good week. I am still eyeing the prize of being debt-free, and seeing that I can save money. I used to automatically deposit money into savings, but pulled it out of savings for routine expenses. Watching it build for the first time is motivating. Watching debt reduction is motivating. When they are happening at the same time, it is just something I could not imagine doing. I thought it was one or the other. My spreadsheets and charts keep me focused every day.

I spent more on lunches and dinners than I wanted to, but it is what it is. I love the days that I can take my lunch and eat at work. I get more done on those days and feel better in the health and finance department.

[Related Article: Jean Chatzky’s Debt Diet – A Behind the Scenes Look]

I won two tickets to see Josh Groban in concert from a local TV station. $150 value!!! Great seats and enjoyed the concert—food and drink was pricey, but the concert was free!! We ate at the concert and had to pay for parking, but it was well worth it.

I budgeted $127 for my routine 15,000 mile auto maintenance—I paid cash. It felt so good! I own a car that has fixed pricing and fixed maintenance costs. This is my first maintenance cost—the first couple of scheduled maintenance visits are free.

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My unanticipated expense for the week: One morning I tried to open the front door and the doorknob started spinning. It did not open. I tried to repair it myself by tightening the screw; $55.00 later I learned that I needed to loosen the screw. I also learned that my 100-year-old home is showing its age. I can save the original oak door and hardware on the door, but I need to replace the framing. It will require a restoration carpenter, but there are several in my area, so I can get estimates and plan for that in the spring. It is not necessary to do it until then as we are at the end of the really long stretches of high humidity. The door works fine except in the humid part of the summer. In fact, I may be able to get a discount by scheduling it during the winter slowdown, and I can budget for it, so I am feeling comfortable with that news.

My questions for Jean this week focused on my two paid-off credit cards. My credit rating has been steadily increasing. I need to keep the cards active because they have large amounts of open credit. We decided I need to charge something monthly and pay off the charge in full. I charged some items on one card at the end of the billing cycle, got the bill yesterday and paid it yesterday. I will do the same with the other card over the next couple of weeks.

[Resource: Get your free Credit Report Card]

Read Melissa’s story »

Images courtesy Debt Diet Challenge blogger Chris

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