When deciding to make October a Super Frugal month, I had some stern, honest words with myself about some unsavoury and deceptive habits I had been indulging in. To recap, it’s been a costly year so far as most of my closest friends and relatives have decided to get married and/or have babies in 2016. It’s almost as if the new year hit and all of sudden my mailbox clogged up with wedding shower, engagement party, baby shower and wedding invitations, all with a few lines at the bottom stating exactly where they would like me to spend my money on their new life decision (I am inherently against registries, and on a larger level, the expectation of someone spending money on you just because you made a certain life choice – that doesn’t involve them – but I’ll save my thoughts for another post).
Perhaps due to my aforementioned disdain for registries/mandatory gift-giving occasions or maybe just because it presented many spending opportunities, I found myself sneaking in little “gifts” for myself whenever I had to go to the mall or an online shopping site to buy a gift for someone else. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal and time and again it’s proven to be both a blessing and a curse. I either don’t buy the cookies or eat the entire box the minute it enters the house (same goes for all carbs – I don’t discriminate against anything that once was dough). Some people are “moderators” who gradually decrease consuming their addiction until they dwindle down to nothing. This simply doesn’t work for me – I either am cold turkey or full speed ahead. Couple that personality trait with the underlying resentment of being expected to buy something for a prescribed gift-giving occasion and I rolled head-first off the wagon. My wallet was already open and I was knee-deep in “treat yo’ self” mode – it was a recipe for disaster.
After making the decision to turn my back on my spendy lifestyle a year ago, I knew the first step to climbing out of my tens of thousands of dollars of debt was to be cognizant of everything I owe and to whom I owe it to. One of my very first posts on this blog was The Round Up, a summary of all my debts as of December 30th, 2015. I grabbed all my statements and faced the music; I worked it out, wrote it down, and posted it up for all the world to see.
I must admit I still feel embarrassed and extremely guilty when I see my current debt figures. Sure, some of those numbers came from paying for my education, some came from seeing the world and some came from a medical bill that occurred while I was out of country. However if I’m going to be honest with myself and everyone else, I need to admit that most of that debt comes from making bad decisions, spending without regard for my financial future and straight-up overindulgence. It’s still a punch to my now-frugal gut to look at those numbers and know I racked them up to that extreme living what my mom used to refer to as my “dolce vita.”
To keep myself motivated on my debt repayment plan I’m going to make The Round Up a series where I regularly post my progress every month. I thought a great place to begin is to state exactly where I am right now. Below are the balances on my debts, as of today:
- Visa: $2,085 (19.99%)
- Line of Credit 1: $12,000 (8.80%)
- Line of Credit 2: $13,924 (9%)
- Line of Credit 3: $10,100 (9%)
Total Commercial Debt: $38,109
- Loan from a family member: $20,000
Grand Debt Total: $58,109
With that out of the way, enough bellyaching, Frugal Desperado – time to go upwards and onwards!
Compared to my first The Round Up post, my debt is down by $5,161. I am choosing to feel good about this. I know that I could’ve/should’ve paid off more than this and I would have if I didn’t have some lapses of self-discipline and willpower. I’m going to stay upbeat and remind myself this is the first time in 10 years my debt has gone down as opposed to up from one year to another. It may only be a little win, but it’s a win, and I’m going to use it as fuel to go into turbo drive for next year – starting from today.
Today is the mid-way point of my super-frugal October, and I kicked it off by going to the bank and making a $1000 dollar payment to a line of credit. Gosh darn it, it felt great!
I had to accumulate the funds over the course of two regular paycheques (I get paid bi-weekly) and waited for some side hustle money trickle in over the month to get to my solid $1000. It felt so good looking at my bank account over this past month and seeing it grow as opposed to deplete. The old me in my pre-FD days had never left hundreds of dollars and eventually a grand just sitting in her bank account, accruing – after rent and bills and credit card minimums, it would’ve been blown on nights out, oodles of fancy restaurant food and pretty dresses until it hit a big fat ZERO, and then do it all again next pay day. I am much happier now on this side of the fence 🙂
So how was October so far? Well, I came down with a pricey bronchitis that still has not gone away. I hate whining about the cost of getting sick because I am incredibly grateful for Canada’s universal healthcare; I know it’s a blessing that seeing my doctor didn’t cost me a dime. However the roughly $60 I spent on over-the-counter and herbal meds hurt the pocket, especially when I’m trying to be super frugal this month!
I tried my best to avoid the costs I knew could rack up when dealing with a cold/flu/bronchitis from hell. When I first started to get sick I tried every natural remedy I could find in the fridge/pantry first – apple cider vinegar, garlic, cayenne pepper, turmeric, you name it! – and then finally succumbed to buying vitamin c tablets, oil of oregano and a homeopathic mix that had been recommended to me. When I got full-fledged, help-me-God level sick I was away on a week-long work conference and went through 2 entire boxes (!) of Tylenol cold and flu and several lozenge boxes in an effort to keep my symptoms suppressed during the sessions and not just be a super-distracting, loud, hacking ball of phlegm (sorry). However in good news, I rocked two exams last weekend for my work course that were pre-paid earlier in the year (my apologies for aforementioned hacking to everyone else in the exam room) so no extra money to shell out there.
How is everyone’s October coming along so far?
It’s the first weekend of October, and I’m a sucker for fresh starts. I know it’s all semantics, but I’m going to work with my extra boost of internal motivation here and make October my most frugal month yet.
As I sit here trying to flesh out how to make this my most frugal month, I’ve come face to face with some nasty habits that have cropped up this year that I’ve hid from others and to a certain extent, from myself. I’ll elaborate. I can write down “no takeout” or “zero entertainment budget” for October, but I already do that; I haven’t been out socially to a place that required purchasing food/beverages with friends since July, I bring each and every breakfast and lunch to work, and cook at home every night. So where on earth is my money going?