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Debt Diet Challenge Week #8: Our Participants Weigh In on New Habits, Staying on 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…


Looking forward to September—cooler temperatures, and I will make the last payment on my highest interest credit card! Score!!!! I have been mowing my own lawn for 8 weeks now and saved $240. I did, however, hire my former lawn person (my daughter’s boyfriend) to cut down volunteer trees in the back yard. He did that while I pulled weeds and vines—we worked for two hours, and the pile of trees and limbs he cut is taller than me. He will haul them away later in the week. I gave him $40 for his efforts. Hard rains spoiled the rest of the work! I will have him clean out my gutters soon—we just did not get that done before the unpredicted rain hit!

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One of the habits I have formed is watching my accounts daily. Because I don’t work on weekends, I run all my errands and shop on Saturdays. I went to a specialty pet store near my house to buy new food for my dog; he needs a bit more protein as he is becoming more active (our marathon walks since I quit the gym). My card was charged twice. Knowing to the cent what my balance should be, I saw the balance and knew there was an error. I emailed the shop, and I will address this on Monday with them. It is a local and reputable shop and I am confident it will be addressed Monday.

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Another new habit: I pay bills when I get them. I used to wait until the end of the paycheck cycle. That way, if there was something I wanted to buy, I would push a bill or two to the next pay date. I would not pay bills late, but I would push my budget and adjust for wants. By paying bills when they arrive, my balance in my account stays low and I don’t do a lot of discretionary spending. I pushed more into my savings account to prepare for winter and to pay my credit card with the highest balance and lowest interest. To make sure there is winter heating money, I have been paying the credit card out of my primary account and not hitting the extra transfer dollars in my savings. I feel good about that, extra cash is useful for getting ten inches of snow plowed from the driveway a few times a year. Hard to predict whether it will be three times like last winter; or twelve times like the winter before. I need to sneak in an extra $600 to make sure. My goal is to continue to live on my checking account balance and not tap savings for even my budgeted amount. It makes me stretch and I need to focus on breaking bad habits of spending towards the balance. Debt first!! My new mantra until I pay off everything, including my mortgage in spring of 2014!!

[Related Articles: Read The Debt Diet Challenge series]

Read Erin’s story »

Image courtesy Debt Diet Challenge blogger Chris

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