My Spending Fast Isn’t As Cool As Anna’s…

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cat with the Debt Free Living book

It’s been an expensive few weeks in our household. And when I say expensive, I mean we’re about to hemorrhage some money. Let me just give you the highlights.

Emergency 1

6 weeks ago Michael and I were driving his truck to Nick’s college town to drop off some furniture he needed for his new place. We made it about half way when his transmission light popped on and his speed dropped to 40 miles an hour-ON THE HIGHWAY!! We limped to the nearest exit and, not being able to reach any of our mechanically-inclined friends, drove it to a Valvoline oil change place just to have them make sure he was okay on fluids, etc. Also figured we should verify they thought we could make it back home safely.

Of course it was a Sunday because that’s always when our emergencies happen. We said a prayer and slowly turned around and drove it back home. The next day he took it to a shop a friend recommended. They charged us a bunch of money and deemed it a transmission problem and recommended another place. Sigh… verdict was that he needed a new transmission and it was going to cost over $4,000 to repair. My son’s old beater truck was not worth that amount of money…

This is when I really regret spending a lot of my emergency fund on non-emergency or other people’s emergencies in the past. Definitely not enough in the old emergency fund to be able to find a replacement car privately with cash. We traded his truck in and my son now has a nice vehicle and another car payment. He put down a thousand bucks and I loaned him the other $500.

Emergency 2

Youngest son calls last Friday to advise his phone is broke but he has an appointment to get it fixed after work on Sunday. Okay, no problem, gave him the mom lecture of the importance of taking care of his phones (he’s very hard/destructive on phones) and tell him to call me Sunday after it’s fixed to check in.

Two hours later, as I’m trying to get out of the office for the weekend, I get a phone call from a number I don’t recognize. Normally I would ignore it since I’ve been bombarded with spam calls lately but it says the call is from Nick’s college town so I pick it up. A police officer identifies himself and says my son needs to talk to me. Side note-getting calls from a police officer about your kid is NEVER a good thing for a momma’s nerves.

Turns out Nick’s car died on the way to work. Luckily for him, because remember he is without a phone, this nice police officer stopped and helped him get it to a nearby parking lot. Of course I’m two hours away so he was hoping I could track down some of his college friends there to pick him up. Let’s just skip ahead here in the story… Nick’s car needs a new clutch for sure. They think that’s all it is but we’re still waiting for that repair to be completed. Quote for a new clutch and the labor to put it in? $725.00.

Emergency 3

We thought Michael needed a wisdom tooth removed. Turns out Michael needs all 4 wisdom teeth removed. My health insurance is paid through my job but I’m paying$660 a month to add the boys to our insurance. They recently offered to let us add dental and vision insurance but it wasn’t in the budget after paying the hefty health premiums.

I decided to get a discount dental plan through dentalplans.com after verifying the oral surgeon we were using accepted the plan. This isn’t insurance but for $169 a year (actually 15 months because of a coupon code I found) we all have access to dental care at 20% off the list prices of many dental offices in our city.

Cost for removal of four wisdom teeth? $1948.20.

Find an Expert

One of my favorite personal finance gurus is Anna Newell Jones. I first stumbled upon her blog, www.Andthenwesaved.com, awhile back. She details her journey out of debt that she completed by doing a spending fast. Anna wiped out over $23,000 worth of debt in 15 months. Her blog is chock full of money-saving tips. It’s fabulous…check it out-but not before you finish reading my blog!

Anna then wrote a fabulous book called The Spender’s Guide to Debt Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get From Broke to Badass in Record Time. This is a fabulous book and I highly recommend it to everyone. She tells her story, gives details on her Spending Fast, and has lots of practical tips on saving money.

This is not a high-level, boring finance book that you use instead of an Ambien before bed. It’s written as if you were sitting in a room having a conversation with Anna (I’m imagining this because we’ve never met but that’s okay because I’ve already decided she’s on my celebrity best friend list). Plus it has the cutest illustrations ever.

Plan of Action

Sooo….I already live on a tight, tight budget. When the sh** hits the fan though, it’s time to get creative and I think most people, including me, can tighten the budget up even more. I don’t know that I’m doing a full-on, Anna Newell Jones-worthy Spending Fast but I’m going to attempt my own version. for the next two months (at least). Here are a few things I’m going to do:

  • Cut-throat, bare bones grocery budget for the next two-week pay cycle. I’m going to try to use up all the food in our pantry/freezer and but the strictest of necessities. I’m attempting to limit the grocery budget to $35 for each of the next two weeks.
  • Dropping the entertainment budget down from $50 a week to $30 a week for the next pay cycle. Luckily it doesn’t cost much to entertain me. We have a wonderful new library, Barnes and Noble, a neighborhood park to walk in, my condo’s pool for the next week, the Hallmark and HGTV channels, getting back into the habit of going to my $10 a month gym (that’s already built into my budget).
  • Dropping restaurant budget down from $50 a week to $30 a week also. This might be the toughest one for us. I do like to eat out.
  • I have a little discount merchandise-flipping side gig that I had going for awhile so I may pick that up again and see if I can make a few extra bucks that way.
  • A little cooler weather appears to be in the forecast for our area for the next week or so and now that Michael is back in school during the days I’m going to program the thermostat to cut the air back quite a bit during the day to try and reduce our electricity bill

Final Thoughts

Hopefully these 5 steps will help me save a bit of money. Worse case scenario I have some rewards points I can cash out. That will be a last resort though because I try to save those for birthdays/Christmas money.

Good news is this is bound to be challenging and there’s nothing more that I like then a good challenge. Thinking about it as a self-imposed challenge also makes it seem like a game to win rather than a hardship to bear.

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