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 down to one credit card, one mortgage, and one car payment. I am on track to be debt free in 2014. I look forward to pay day and to paying off debt. I am making better decisions and securing my future. As I have said before, it took me decades to get into debt and knowing I can get out of it in 2 to 3 years—unbelievable! Energizing! My savings is savings for the first time and it is growing. It is not linked to a credit or debit account. I need to physically visit the location to withdraw funds.
[Related Articles: The Debt Diet Challenge Series]
A side benefit of this program that I shared with Jean—once I realized I did not want things, I did not need things. I am reducing clutter. I am organizing my finances and discarding unnecessary paperwork. I am giving away things on a recycle group and donating to local charities. I am living with less stuff. I don’t have to dust it, store it, move it, clean under it, or try to find a place for it. Reducing clutter is the almost as much of a high as paying off debt-almost!!
Shopping: I buy food when I need it. I sometimes browse other retail stores as my friends shop, but I really like not wanting to buy things I don’t need that don’t add value to my life.
My area in need of improvement: Groceries and eating outside the home. I loved cooking and baking with and for kids. I don’t enjoy doing it for me. Working so many hours a week, I find it easy to buy meals. I need to focus on inexpensive and healthy meals prepared at home—this is and will continue to be my battle.
My entertainment budget is down. This past weekend, I took a friend, her dog and my dog to my daughter’s college campus, where we took a two-hour walking tour. It was beautiful. The dogs were exhausted; I slept like a rock! Best day in a while, and the cost was only gas in an economy car for a 60-mile round trip for a day like no other. (Cheap ad: My dog and my daughter’s dog are both rescues—less expensive than a breeder and so much more rewarding.)
My savings tip: unsubscribe from retail and Internet store emails. Even at 50% to 75% off, spending money on something you did not know you wanted until you saw the email is spending money on a want rather than a need. Dump the incentives to spend. Subscribe to RSS feeds of personal finance bloggers—they give you the daily incentive to save.
Thanks to Jean Chatzky and Credit.com for this opportunity to curb my debt. It has been a life-changing experience!
[Resource: Get your free Credit Report Card]
Image by Debt Diet Challenge blogger Chris