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The Debt Diet Challenge Week #13: ‘Don’t cry over empty mailboxes’

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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…


Good debt vs. bad debt—still conversing with friends and family about that topic. I have concluded that this is a very personal thing. I am not so sure there is such a thing as good debt for me. I am 10 years from retirement—the only debt I want is more money in my retirement savings. I don’t want to worry about house or car payments or anything else. My definition of good debt is money I pay towards my retirement goals. I don’t cry over empty mailboxes—it means no bills!!

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I will have to adjust my budget from December through June. My daughter will be done with college and will be moving home for six months to focus on the job search, to save money for an apartment and her student loan payments, and to prep for her CPA exams. She needs to save so she can weather those expensive months ahead. An extra body is always an extra expense, but I plan to minimize it to the best extent possible!

I don’t get to watch a lot of TV, so I bought the DVDs of my favorite series: The Good Wife, The Mentalist and Castle. I used my gift certificates that I get for using a particular browser and bought all three new releases. I am going to be in DVD heaven for a long time, and can’t wait to catch up on my shows!!

I gave away my older televisions—but no one wanted the 13″ model. The city charges $30 to haul each away. A few minutes of searching on the Internet pointed me to Best Buy for recycling. I took it there and paid $10. They took the TV and gave me a $10 gift card—much better than paying for it to go to the landfill, and now I have a Christmas stocking stuffer gift card!

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I spent more on restaurant food this week than I would have liked, but I needed to feed the free labor that helped me clean, power wash and seal my deck. It took us a couple of days to finish the work, but we had a few laughs and some nice lunches as rewards. Much less than hiring a contractor to do it!

My unplanned expense: A nail in my tire. It cost me less than $30 to have it removed and filled, but it’s not how I wanted to spend an hour on a Friday afternoon. I am glad I took it to the shop rather than putting air in it and continuing to drive on it as suggested by many. I had added air once in September already and I just had that feeling something was wrong.

I will pay off another charge card this week!!! I am thrilled!! Down to one lower interest charge card, my mortgage and an auto loan. Rock and roll!!!

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Read Penny’s story »

Illustration by Debt Diet Challenge blogger Chris

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