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…
Not much to report. I am focused on ways to save money or do things less expensively than I have in the past. I am still doing my own mowing and yard work. I am grumbling a bit less about doing yard work and mowing. It was actually fine until my two 100-plus year old oak trees decided to drop acorns. When you mow over acorns, you are pelted and bruised by acorns being kicked up by the mower. Additionally, very rude squirrels drop them on your head when you are mowing and doing yard work. I focus on the $40 I save each week on mowing and inform the squirrels that a three-year-old chocolate lab is going to torment them for tormenting me.
[Related Article: Jean Chatzky’s Debt Diet Challenge, Week 12 Check-In]
My big attempt at savings this week was power-washing my deck. This is a good proposal if you live in a home that is less than 100 years old and has updated plumbing. I don’t. A friend and I spent four hours power washing and we have only done the lattice under the deck, the supports and the rails. We have not started on the floor of the deck. We will try to get that done some evening, but the lack of water pressure in my vintage dwelling is a bit of a hindrance. I am saving hundreds of dollars, but my knees, leg muscles and back muscles are in full protest! I need to budget for the increase in the water bill and OTC drugs for muscle aches!
[Related Articles: The Debt Diet Challenge Series]
Unexpected expenses? I am thrilled to report that they are minimal. Deck and siding wash products for $18.00 and a pup-cake for my dog’s 3rd birthday for $3.00. Frivolous on the puppy cupcake—yes! Enjoyment over the event—priceless! He carried it proudly for ten minutes before devouring it. It smelled like carrot cake and I was ready to eat it!
With the exception of the three dollars on the organic, human grade puppy cupcake—I am on track and reveling in the payment of debt. Saving money is becoming a mantra and a game. It can be enjoyable if you challenge your family and yourself.
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Debt is down. Enthusiasm is up. Desire to be debt-free, including the mortgage and auto is the ultimate goal. As I face uncertainty in what was formerly a civil-service type job of 30 some years—I wonder what people mean when they say that mortgage debt is good debt. Having no debt is the only thing that is good. Having a fully-funded emergency savings account is the icing on the cake, cupcake, or pup-cake. I did not realize how important that was until recently.
Jean Chatzky and I discussed where I am and where I want to be. She is the ultimate cheerleader that everyone needs in their head when contemplating how much to pay down or how much to spend. Twelve weeks down, this program has given me the focus and the tools I need to get me where I need to be.
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Images by Debt Diet Challenge blogger Chris