Back on the Horse



Before anyone starts asking if I would like some cheese with my w(h)ine, I want to chronicle some positively charged thoughts on how I plan to annihilate all this debt.

To the naked eye, I’m actually one of those high-energy people that’s always cheerful and enthusiastic. The debt struggle is something that lays beneath and only gets shared on platforms I’ve learned are the most accepting of my struggling side, my not-so-sunshine-and-rainbows side. So I’m here to pause the grey clouds for a minute and share a baby step that I’m really excited about!

It’s nothing new or earth-shattering, but I’m ready to re-start a plan. I tried my 160 Days of Nothing New when I started the blog and it didn’t pan out. I’ve obviously spiralled out of control and with it got caught in a downward spiral of emotions, but I’m ready to start a new challenge.

It’s August 1st today and a civic holiday here in Ontario, which I think is a great time to stop and reflect about how I am going to embark on a Low Spend August! As I mentioned, nothing earth-shattering about this plan, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been confident enough in my self-control that I can embark on a goal and not fail epically in the first few days, and I’m very excited to get started.

So here are the rules. I have allotted $100/week to use, period.  So over a month, I have $400 for my phone bill, my portion of the water and electricity bills, groceries, and any “living” expenses that might come out of that, including entertainment (rent is excluded from this total). After my portion of the bills and groceries, this leaves me with roughly $20 a week to my name. Needless to say, this means I’ve completely eliminated any room for shopping (which was the plan!) as that $20/week will likely go to bus fare to see mama bear on the weekends and any food/dessert I may contribute to family dinner, for any needed living expenses like toiletries, and if there’s any left over, to see friends for tea or coffee. No clothes, no shoes, no dinners out, and no cocktails. Just the necessities.

The big win here is that my SO has decided to do the $100 challenge with me (albeit begrudgingly). SO is the type that strongly believes in the “I work hard so I should be free to spend my money to enjoy myself” type, and he’s also of the camp that thinks frugality is deprivation. It’s definitely been an uphill battle to conquer my own spending demons whilst living with someone that doesn’t believe in frugality, or even budgeting, for that matter! However I’ve been pushing how frugality is the exact opposite of deprivation as it opens so many more doors to freedom, and whether he has taken that to heart or in hopes of making me stop waxing poetic on how we should together eschew consumer culture, has decided to start the challenge with me. I’m hoping that with the two of us on this together, we’ll be successful and we’ll see we can still live rich, rewarding lives without excess spending.

I’m planning to keep myself busy with studying for my work course, planning and cooking meals, exercising at the gym in my apartment building (I’m not a fan of exercising, but it’s another focal point for improvement for me), cycling around the city, and exploring what free events are going on in dowtown Toronto. I’m actually really excited to explore free ways of enjoying August, and expanding my horizons to think of what would give me satisfaction and enjoyment that doesn’t involve buying anything. It takes more work to discover those moments than it does to just meet friends at a bar or to relieve boredom at the mall, and I’m truly looking forward to the challenge.

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  1. Hey Miss Frugal D, great blogs, the openness of your sharings is refreshing and real, and much appreciated.

    I’m wondering how your August program is going so far …

    I’m a 58yo lady in Australia who has $24,000 consumer debt and a $186,000 mortgage and only started turning around to look at and manage her money (and debt!) 9 months ago. So girl, I reckon you’re a STAR in addressing your money story at age 30!

    All my life so far I’ve said money is a mystery to me – that I work hard and yet seem to end up with so little. I’m a lovely person and a great worker and I see now that I was carrying the belief that I therefore should be taken care of (by the world). However that is not a wise or loving approach to the world at all, expecting it to cover the cost of my indulgences!

    The pain and frustration of paying interest over several years on those debts is the consequence of those indulgences, of living beyond my means, no matter at what level my means are. So it’s like, suck it up and see what I’ve done to myself by choosing to live in a fog around money … and then choose to no longer live in that fog, but instead empower myself by addressing these debts and taking action. Which I have.

    Having set up my debt management, I’ve been in a ‘holding pattern’ of honouring those repayments for the last 4 months with minimal spending. However I’ve also taken a ‘holiday’ from tracking my spending or keeping a close eye on things … so we see that indulging can take many forms, including avoiding doing the work on maintaining full awareness of my financial situation! However yesterday I made an appointment for three weeks ahead with another bank to see about changing over to them, so that will help me re-focus in a big way.

    I’m aiming to pay down as much consumer debt as possible by the time I turn 60 (who, me??), but to be clearing it with kindness and appreciation of myself.

    I reckon if you get to 40yo with debt cleared and perhaps investments in yourself (retirement monies) and a property or whatever under your belt, that you will have achieved a major learning in this life and you will feel empowered and truer to yourself – you will know who you are. So keep on keeping on, you’re addressing a strongly built-up momentum of spending that will require more than 5 minutes to turn around or dissolve. And get support – your partner, your counsellor, perhaps new friends, let your mum help you sometimes (she’s allowed to and she deserves to, but only if it comes without hidden obligation).

    All the best with learning to love yourself and turning these old behaviours around. Maybe some reading on habits might be useful too. And get yourself into bed by 9pm every night, you will feel soooo much better!

    1. Marian, thank you for your lovely comment. Please don’t beat yourself up about having been in a money fog – I think “the system” or whatever we want to call it is designed to keep us in a daze about where our money is actually going and what living within our means really looks like. That way we stay indebted to financial institutions for most of our lives and they get to profit of our not-so-blissful ignorance. If it wasn’t for the frugality blogs out there that wake us up to what’s going on, life in the Western world isn’t designed to have us be conscious of making practical money choices. I know it’s hard to stay motivated with the money tracking, etc but the fact you have a desire and will to become debt-free by 60 is wonderful!! A goal and working towards a plan to get there is leaps and bounds ahead of the many that throw their hands in the air and relegate themselves to a life in debt. So a huge hurrah for you!!
      Thank you kindly for the advice. You’ve hit the nail on the head with what I feel is the root of it all –learning to love myself more … and getting more rest! The sleepless nights due to debt-stress lead to more overall stress and feeling poorly, which only makes the temptation to spend on food/something pretty/something convenient to comfort me even stronger! Such a vicious cycle. 9pm might just be what the doctor ordered.
      As for my mum…what an angel. The $20,000 personal loan I have is from her, and in the 5 years I’ve owed her, she hasn’t pressured me to pay it back once. She also makes random stops by my place to put food in the fridge or drop off household supplies with a little note to say “I hope this can help you save a bit more this week!” God bless her. Paying her back, with interest, and doing well enough in life where I can take care of her has been the strongest motivation of all. I just need to keep my eyes on the prize. This being said, August has been my most frugal month so far! Lots of chats with mum helps keep my goals in mind 
      Thank you for dropping by. Please let me know how the meeting with the new bank goes!

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