100 Day Spending Fast | Day 40

Start a blog today to tell your debt story!

It’s been a little over a month since I started the 100 day spending ban. Day 40 seemed like a great time to update you all because I have completely rearranged my finances and everything is actually going really well. I mentioned that this Spending Ban would be tough because I had a lot of pre-planned expenditures. This remains true, but the costs have remained low thanks to the kindness of my friends and heavy self-control on my part.

First, the most exciting updates! As of today, I have added an additional $1700 to my savings/emergency fund and paid down an additional $1300 on my CapitalOne Quicksilver account. This is huge because I never thought I would reach those numbers so quickly. Here’s how I did it:

40 Days In | No Spending Challenge | Rose Colored Water #money #savings #goals

1. I transferred my car loan to the Quicksilver credit card.

I pulled this stunt before on another loan (and it bit me in the butt because of the terms I agreed to in my divorce), but I have wanted to do this for a long time. First, I feel that consolidating my debt as much as I can will create leeway in my budget if things go south or I need extra breathing room. Second, my car loan was a 4.95% rate, while the Quicksilver is only 4%. This is due to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Learn more about that HERE.

Consolidating that debt and reducing the interest rate is going to help me make bigger payments in the long run.

2. My tax refund arrived.

If you’re one of the many who hate people like me, I’m sorry. I love my tax refund. This year’s refund totaled around $1300, thanks to education deductions, retirement savings credits, and student loan interest deductions. I use Turbotax because it makes everything easy and free for military members. I highly recommend it.

I put $1000 of my tax refund in my savings (for my impending move) and the other $300 went to the Quicksilver.

3. I started a different shift at work.

My new shift isn’t forever, but in the meantime, it has helped me stop spending and save $$$ on fuel.

  • Traffic is non-existent. My miles per gallon on the Terrain are up by about 4 mpg because I’m no longer sitting in rush hour traffic. I also feel happier because my commute is only about 30 minutes each way (opposed to an hour or more). When I’m happy, I don’t want to spend money.
  • I arrive at lunchtime – so there’s no more peer pressure from co-workers and it’s easier to pack a light dinner.

4. I played a lot of Fallout 4.

Whatever your feelings on video games, it can help you save money. I’m not your typical video-gamer. I don’t buy a new game every week. I can play the same game for years, and I don’t even own a new console. Fallout 4 is my roommate’s game that I’ve been playing on his PS4. Someone help me when he moves away. Since starting Fallout 4, I have had little desire to do anything else. When I’m not playing, I’m working, eating, reading, or sleeping = money saved.

5. I put all my credit cards in a drawer.

This has made the biggest impact in my spending fast thus far. You may not realize it, but having your credit card in your wallet will make you use it. There have been so many times when I have tried to save money but continued using my credit cards (swearing I would pay off what I spent). While I did pay off the little things I had spent money on each cycle, there was a noticeable increase in how much I spent on those little items. A white caramel mocha here; a quick bite for lunch there.

It adds up and you never feel the pain. Since removing my ability to use my credit card, I have removed the temptation to use it. There have been times when I’ve almost fallen to temptation. Then I remember that if I use my debit card, I will have to write it down in my expenditures notebook at home. I am so lazy that it actually feels me with dread. The less I have to write in that book, the better I feel. 

60 More Days to Go

March is going to be much tougher with a lot more expenses. My lease ends in March, so there will be some overlap in my new apartment and old one (money wasted, but what can you do?). Plus – security deposits, pet deposits, etc.

I am so excited to move back to Aurora. The extra money spent to move again will be worth it to reduce my commute and find a space I love. I will continue to keep you updated. Also – look for my first quarter financial review at the end of March to see the real impact of this spending fast.

Do you have any tips or suggestions to help with my Spending Fast? Are you doing your own No-Spend Challenge?

Why You Need a Credit Card Before Joining the Military

If you’re 18 years old, you may be shaking your head at this headline. I understand. A lot of people fear credit cards. However, these days, it’s not as easy to get a credit card, and most companies won’t give you a credit limit that can get you in ridiculous amounts of trouble. There are tremendous benefits to owning a credit card before you join active duty enlistment – and it’s all thanks to something called SCRA benefits.

If you're enlisting in the United States military, get a credit card before you go to #BMT. Read why here! #military #airforce | Rose Colored Water

If you’ve never heard of the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), now is the time. Whether you’re thinking about joining up or already serving, these benefits will change your life. I don’t want to make this post all about the benefits of SCRA though. You can read about those in the link above. I’m simply going to highlight what relates to credit cards and loans.

Everything is backdated.

If you had credit cards or loans before you joined the military, the SCRA will be your new best friend. This is because the biggest and best benefit of the SCRA states that any interest rate on a loan prior to enlisting Active Duty military must be below 6% interest rate. That may not seem like much, but if you have credit cards with high-interest debt (15%, 22%, etc.), or a car loan at 9%, it will now drop to at least 6%.

For me, it looked like this:

  • CREDIT CARDS | I had 4 credit cards prior to joining, all above a 6% interest rate. Most of them had thousands of dollars of debt on them. My CapitalOne cards dropped to a 4% interest rate, and they credited my account with the difference in interest I had paid since my enlistment began. That was about $300. My Discover card dropped from a 19% rate to 6%. They also credited me the amount I had paid in interest since my date of enlistment – around $150.
  • STUDENT LOANS | Most government student loans are already under the 6% cap, but most private loans are not. I had two private loans through Sallie Mae with 11% and 9% interest rates. They totaled around $9,000 when the SCRA benefits went into effect. Before joining the military, I would pay about $80 in interest every month. My payments at that time were barely covering it. After the SCRA benefits went into effect, my interest rates dropped to 4%, cutting my monthly interest by more than half! I have since paid off those stupid Sallie Mae loans.

As you can imagine, these benefits changed my life. The key thing to remember is that most loans won’t qualify if you obtain them after enlisting Active Duty. They must be on the record before you leave for BMT.

The Benefits Remain Through Your Entire Active Enlistment

Probably the coolest thing to note is that your credit cards and loans will remain at that lowered interest rate through your entire active enlistment. As long as I re-enlist, my CapitalOne card will stay at 4%. My Discover card will stay at 6%. These are extremely low-interest rates if you have a limited credit history (like a high schooler) or a lot of debt (like myself).

I have taken full advantage of these benefits and have transferred higher interest debts that I obtained after enlisting, like my car loans, to greatly reduce the amount of interest I pay over time.

Guard or Reserve?

Unfortunately, Guard and Reserve can only receive these benefits when on Active orders, but it is still a huge benefit for you. I had several friends in the Guard take advantage of these while in BMT and technical school. They were given reduced interest rates for nearly 6-12 months. You can also use these benefits when deployed.

If You Don’t Have Credit, Now Is the Time

Let’s be clear here. I’m not telling you to run out and buy a car and get into a bunch of debt. However, if you have considered applying for a credit card and are about to enlist or leave for Basic Training, now is the time to do it so you can take full advantage of the benefits.

If you have any questions, please let me know or you can google the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act. I have highlighted just one of the major benefits in this post. Good luck!

My 100 Day Spending Fast

In September 2017, I dared myself to survive a one-month spending ban. The ban was mostly successful, thanks to the encouragement and help from my friends and family. In December, after buying loads of Christmas presents, I knew another detox was needed. In my goals for 2018, I vowed to pay down $20,000 of my debt in hopes of reaching a record low of $40,000.

This audacious goal won’t come without sacrifice. That’s why I’m cutting my excess spending for 100 days.

100 Days Spending Ban | Rose Colored Water #debt #money #spendingfast

January 1st – April 10th

This spending fast could not have arrived at a worse time, but maybe that makes it the best time. There’s no time like the present. The next few months require so much of me and my money. I have to:

  • move to a new apartment (deposits, fees, etc.) – My roommate is PCS’ing and most of my friends are moving as well, so I’ll be living in a one bedroom.
  • a lot of going away parties and gifts – my friends know I’m on a spending fast, but I wouldn’t miss their going away parties for anything! I will spend some money to be with them and wish them well on their new adventures.
  • the vet has recommended that Motley’s teeth be cleaned – This procedure will cost around $1000. I am still trying to decide if this is a necessary procedure.
  • the A/C went out in my Terrain – This is not something I am going to fix until I absolutely have to. Living without air in the car won’t be so bad when I’m not commuting an hour each way.

All of these things will need to be saved and budgeted for. They may even impact my ability to reach the $5000 debt pay-off goal I’ve set for this 100 day spending fast.

So far, I’ve done well. From what I can tell, I’ve spent $15 on extra stuff since the start of January. That included one going away lunch for a co-worker and a Coke from the vending machine. The next few weeks should be spend-free, aside from groceries and gas.

I look forward to seeing my debt drop every month. Will you join me in the spending fast?

My Debt Pay-Off Journey | Fourth Quarter Report

Before we dig into the financial failure that was 2017, let me be honest with you. The last half of this year was difficult for me. I fell into a pattern of buying things I had gone without for a long time.

All those times of telling myself no to save money had its long-term effects on my personal belongings and emotions. When I finally felt in control of my money (after separating my finances from my ex-husband), the desire to buy nice things for myself rekindled. My divorce made me feel free and alive again, and I wanted to capitalize on that desire.

#debt report | Rose Colored Water #personalfinance #money #debtfreedom

It started with new clothes. I didn’t go crazy, but it would be an understatement to say that my wardrobe was depressing. I hadn’t bought jeans in 5 to 10 years. New tops were few and far between, and thanks to all my purging, I had rid myself of a lot of cheap, ugly garments. Every piece I have purchased over the last six months has been intentional and high-quality. The long wool coat I always wanted? Purchased. New sweaters and wraps? Done. Fresh underwear and pjs? Yep.

But I didn’t stop there. I bought new bedding to transform my once “married” space. My laptop of three years was beginning to fail, so I splurged on a Samsung Chromebook (I can’t sing its praises enough and it was still cheaper than the laptop).

I have stayed on top of my spending, sitting at a plateau of paying off everything I purchased, but never decreasing the overall amount. For the past two years, I have eliminated my debt, slowly but surely. At the end of 2017, I can say that my debt is finally under the $60,000 mark.

Even though I have spent a lot of money this year, I am forgiving myself. I understand what this year has done to me and meant for my life. All I can do is move forward.

I am tired of spending money. I am done with school, and I have everything I could need or want now, so there should be no more big expenditures for a while. I feel no more desire to spend impulsively or selfishly. I have big plans for 2018. Failure is not an option.

A Look at the Numbers

In my 2017 third quarter debt report, I owed $61,636. As mentioned above, I spent a lot of money on myself and family (Christmas gifts), making it nearly impossible to decrease my debt. As of today, I owe $59,787.

Highlights

  • My credit card usage went up. I take responsibility for this. It won’t happen again.
  • I paid my car loan down nearly $2,000.
  • Student loans are officially under $30,000.

4th Quarter Debt Report 2017 | Rose Colored Water

100 Day Spending Fast

Progress will be made. Beginning on January 1st, I am starting a 100 day spending fast. It won’t be perfect because there are a lot of things happening in the first three-four months of the new year. By April 10th, I plan on paying off $5000 in debt. That’s an aggressive goal considering the reduction in my income (from losing a dependent). However, my tax return combined with the spending fast should allow me to reach that goal.

Because a lot of things are happening in the first part of the year, it won’t be a super-strict spending fast like the one I completed in September. I will stop eating out and buying clothes. There will be no splurges. However, there will be some gifts I need to buy and some vet expenses for Motley. I will be budgeting for these things, but they will have an impact on my fast.

Overall, I feel good about 2017, but I’m even more excited for 2018. There is a lot of potential for the new year and I can’t wait to see how much debt I can pay off. How were your finances in 2017? Did you reach your financial goals?

Keeping Positive and Focused When Paying Down Significant Amounts of Debt

Staying Focused and Positive While Paying Down Massive Amounts of Debt | Rose Colored Water

By Patty Moore, a writer and blogger who happens to love her family, finances, and career. Patty isn’t afraid to tell you what she thinks @WorkMomLife on Twitter. You can also follow her story at Working Mother Life.

For many people, paying off a debt can feel like the longest goal of a lifetime. However, it’s definitely a must if you want to eventually start creating wealth. In addition, it’s also the only way to stop feeling stressed over the debt.

Some people use anger to pay off their debts, but there are plenty of other healthy ways to get out of the financial burden. If your interest bills make you mad, or even sick to your stomach, consider the following methods to get out of debt once and for all.

Staying Focused and Positive While Paying Down Massive Amounts of Debt | Rose Colored Water

Think of Your Future

Once you’re out of debt, your life will change. Whether you’re paying off student loans or credit card debts, eliminating these monthly bills is the only way to be free and create wealth.

In the future, it’s possible you could get a new job you love, pack up and travel to where you want to live or visit, work less hours, or simply sleep better. Take some time to write down some ways your life will change and focus on your reason “why” when paying down debts.

Review Your Goals Every Day

In order to achieve a large goal, you must stay laser focused. In order to keep your focus, it’s important to read or mentally visit your goals every day. This could mean looking at a list, a picture, or something else that reminds you why you are working so hard.

One method may be to write down your goals on your smartphone’s home screen so you see them several times a day. Other people write their goals in the bathroom mirror. Dilbert creator, Scott Adams, wrote down the same phrase 10-15 times a day until it came true. For affirmations, write down positive phrases (I will be financially free) rather than negative phrases (I want to get out of debt).

Create Support or Accountability

If you really want to achieve your goals, find a way to create accountability. It’s easier for couples to stick to a diet if both are committed, and the same fact is true for any other goal, including paying off a large debt.

Can you find a friend or loved one in a similar debt situation? Talk to this person and tell them you’re looking for some ongoing help to pay off a major goal. In a way, you’ll be doing it together. If you can’t find someone you know, look for support groups on Reddit, Mr. Money Mustache’s forum, Facebook, finance blogs, Twitter, or other forms of social media.

It’s possible to even find a modern day pen pal, given the reach of the Internet. Either way, this accountability partner will keep you motivated and vice versa.

Try to Remain Patient

Make sure to remain patient throughout the process. Everyone has a different number they need to pay off, but worrying doesn’t help anyone. Instead, make a plan and stick to it.

More than likely, it took you a few years to accumulate your debt, so it’s going to take a few years to get out of it. The key is to chip away at the debt and pay off larger amounts when you get the chance. With your accountability partner and a laser focus, you’ll be debt-free before you know it.

In addition to your laser focus, make sure you are always up-to-date on new information. It’s possible that new methods or regulations could come from the government or even from your own financial standings that could mean thousands of extra dollars in your wallet.

If your credit score has improved, look into refinancing to see if you can get a better interest rate on your debt. One study found that the average Millennial was overpaying their student debt by about two percent. The majority of consumers do not know that refinancing is possible! When you have debt, you need to constantly do your homework. Opportunities for low interest rates are here today, but may not be tomorrow.

Rewarding Your New Debt-Free Life

After you get out of debt, you can live those new experiences you’ve been dreaming about. This could mean switching to a new job you love for less income or simply packing up and going on an amazing trip around the world.

The freedom of a debt-free life is something many people will not experience. However, because you’ve created a list of principles to focus on your debt-free life, you can achieve this goal.

If it still seems overwhelming, figure out a way to reasonably reward yourself for your ongoing hard work. Let’s say you’re paying off three credit cards. After the first, treat yourself by doing something in your budget. Maybe book a round of golf or a trip to the spa to celebrate this milestone.

If this rewards-based incentive sounds like you, make sure to put it on your calendar so it’s earned for the task.

While paying off debt may seem impossible, creating small goals and living by these tips can help with motivation and perseverance. What tips do you have for staying focused on your debt pay-off journey?

Staying Positive while paying Down Large Amounts of Debt | Rose Colored Water