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…
I am on track! I look for ways to curb expenses; it is becoming the habit I need it to be. I will pay off my highest interest card in September and I am thrilled. My aggressive debt-free date is May 2014. I am also looking at ways to increase my savings. I have been putting extra in savings to fund my credit card payoff, but I have not used it for that purpose yet. I am still paying from my primary checking and will do that as long as possible.
[Related Articles: Read all of The Debt Diet Challenge posts]
Here are some of the main savings I made—at first to get to that $10 dollars a day savings that Jean Chatzky challenged us with, and now to improve my retirement plans:
- Eliminated the gym expenses ($40 month savings)
- Mowing my own lawn ($40 week savings)
- Lowered cable/Internet just by asking ($65 month)
- Lowered car/home insurance by finding one insurance agent with low costs
- House maintenance—removing ivy from exterior myself ($100 savings)
- Wash dog at home—saved $180 this season—budgeted for winter months at salon
- Coupons savings—averaging $30 month on groceries and home items
- Eliminate expensive lunches and cut back on restaurant lunches and dinners
- Extend time between haircuts—$250 a year
[Featured Product: Get a free trial credit score]
I had a few challenges; I didn’t budget for the unexpected and recurring expenses. While reviewing expenses to create a budget, I found a lot of money wasters:
- Magazines and newspapers. I bought and didn’t read them. I canceled the majority.
- Shopping when I was stressed or bored is costly. I have more suits than I need for work.
- I have enough weekend clothes. Saving from $100-300 a month, and interest.
- Food. I eat what I buy. I previously threw out expired food weekly. I like prepping food at home and eating on the deck or at the dining room table. It is relaxing and gives me time to wind down at the end of the day.
- I now wash the car at home weekly. This is an $11 a week savings which seems minimal, but it will save $300 a year for the non-freezing months.
- Dog stuff. Kennel cushions have a lifetime guarantee. I returned two this weekend for free replacements. Two new cushions free and I saved $56. Save those receipts!
- DVDs. Shameful—I own more than I can count. I have stopped buying them weekly. I am saving $30-$40 a week. Seriously, Tuesdays are video release days and I would stop at Target and buy those I liked or missed at the theater. I am using redbox and blockbuster codes, or free Amazon streaming DVDs with credits I have earned.
On track—feeling good—looking forward to fall!!! Thank you Jean and Credit.com for this life changing challenge!!
[Featured Tool: Get your free Credit Report Card from Credit.com]