Okay, Let’s Try This “Spending Fast” Thing

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Hi there! It’s great to see you again. Did you get a haircut? It looks fantastic.

It’s been several months since I’ve published a blog post, and in that time off I’ve been cheating on minimalism by spending, spending, and spending some more.

Due to circumstances beyond our control (lead poisoning), my family of 3 had to move out of our apartment, which had great rent. We were shocked when we found out the going rate for similar apartments, most of which were 2-3 times what we had been paying. So instead of moving into a new apartment, we purchased a home for only $46 a month more than we had been paying in rent. Of course, this also meant that it was a fixer-upper.

We knew that just fixing the necessities would still be expensive, because the necessities were appliances (the house didn’t come with any), new floors, and paint. I know paint isn’t normally a necessity, but it was in this house – trust me. Oh, and we also needed to purchase all new furniture, because it turns out that it is impossible to get lead dust out of upholstered furniture and throw rugs.

Fast Forward 3 months and we have spent a lot of money. We purchased all of the necessities, plus some non-necessities, because spending begets spending. Oh, and my car broke down and needed $1,200 in repairs.

The good news is that I absolutely love our house now. The bad news is that we are in a lot of debt because most of our purchases were made on credit cards. Since we hadn’t anticipated being in the housing market, we only had enough in savings for the downpayment, and not much else.

And so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to stop cheating on minimalism, reduce our spending, and dig us out of this debt. Now, I’ve dug out of $16,000 of debt before and out of $28,000 of debt before. But the debt we’re facing now is astronomical and I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of paying it off. And then I stumbled across The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get from Broke to Badass in Record Time. It’s written by Anna Newell Jones, who paid off over $18,000 of debt on her $33,000 a year salary, in just a little over 1 year by going on a “spending fast” and only spending money on the necessities. I have been inspired. While we certainly can’t pay off our debt in one year, we can take a good chunk out of it. I estimate we will need to do a spending fast for at least 5 years to pay off our debt. I’m going to start with a year-long spending fast and re-evaluate at the end of the year to see if continuing it is right for us.

According to Jones, being held publicly accountable will help, so I will be blogging monthly (maybe more!) about my spending fast successes and failures. In an effort to be fully transparent for anyone else out there who might be inspired by this, and as a record of my starting point, here are my current debts:

Name of Debt  Total Amount of Debt APR  Monthly minimum payment  Date
Credit Card #1  $16,365.73 19.24%  $   298.00 8/28/2016
Personal Loan #1  $5,233.12 12.82%  $   275.04 8/28/2016
Student Loans  $62,996.44 6.80%  $          – 8/28/2016
Mortgage  $104,603.12 3.50%  $   646.00 8/28/2016
Credit Card #2  $8,945.62 2.99%  $     42.00 8/28/2016
Life Insurance Loan  $ 1,302.20 Unknown  $       6.00 8/28/2016
Personal Loan #2  $4,000.00 0.00%  $          – 8/28/2016
Credit Card #3  $6,460.94 0.00%  $     66.00 8/28/2016
Total Consumer Debt  $38,307.61     8/28/2016
Total Debt  $209,907.17     8/28/2016

And there you have it. I’ve laid it out for the word to see, and I’m not ashamed of it because I’m doing something to fix it. I plan on paying down the highest APRs first and working my way down the list. Some of the APRs will change in the future because they are promotional APRs.

I’m a little nervous, but I’m also super excited about stripping my life down to the bare essentials, even though I suspect some of my friends and family might be a bit perturbed that I will be declining their invitations more frequently now.

I hope you will join me on this journey, be it by reading my blog posts or by going on a spending fast yourself!

This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt: Cheat

Robin_BrodrickRobin Brodrick is a résumé writer, an aspiring minimalist, a Douglas Adams fan, and a corporate recruiter in the cutthroat biotech and pharma industries. Follow Robin on Twitter or LinkedIn for unique advice that will revitalize your job search. If you need to update your résumé, Robin has a few services and products that you will find helpful here.

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