How I Paid Off My Debt with a Reverse Budget Strategy

We all have enough time and money for something.  We just may not have enough time and money for everything.  So, we prioritize.  I hear people talking about priorities, what is important to them, then I watch spending habits.  Often what people say is important is different than what their money is spent on.  To me, the best way to understand what is truly important is real spending habits – where someone allocates their time and money.Reverse Budget

I have followed a reverse budget for the last 15+ years.  Meaning that for my income I start allocating money at the top tier and work my way down the list.

  1. Taxes, retirement, and savings (regular savings, plus at least $1,000 emergency fund) are taken out first.
  2. Then I pay mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance (home and auto), and health insurance (or may be included in paycheck deductions).
  3. Third is where minimal fuel and food expenses are allocated, no splurges, yet.
  4. Next are payments for any debt (Dave Ramsey’s Snowball strategy to eliminate debt is effective and easy to follow). This is debt not attached to a mortgage or primary vehicle, such as student loans, medical bills, credit card debt, and other non-secured loans.
  5. Finally, anything left over is for dinner out, books, movies/tv, electronics, clothes, travel, or whatever else you feel like.

Continue reading “How I Paid Off My Debt with a Reverse Budget Strategy”

Weirdly Frugal Part 2

Weirdly Frugal – Part 1

Cutting back on committed monthly expenses (Mortgage, car payment, monthly cable bill, big ticket electronic, and other “things”) is not a sacrifice, is it liberating!  My frugal ways leave more money for retirement savings and discretionary spending on the fun stuff!

My splurges

Not only do I have a gym membership, but it is one of the most expensive in the area.  After selling our house with a pool and hot tub, I get my water fix with the 3 outdoor pools, 2 indoor pools, 2 indoor hot tubs, sauna, and steam room at the gym.  I use the exercise equipment facilities, as an added bonus.  Membership for 2 people is less expensive than weekly pool service alone, not to mention electricity savings to run the pump and the higher water bill that comes with every pool.  And there is no need to save up for pool resurfacing, kool deck repair/resurface, or any of the unplanned expenses that occur with a pool (I spent over $25,000 in pool repair & maintenance in the 10 years I owed that pool).

Every year we save up for a big lavish vacation, and a few mini getaways.  Travel perks from reward credit cards supplement our vacation which allows us to spend more on sightseeing and activities, food & drink, and any other add-on treats (afternoon couples massage followed by Champagne).  Through careful planning, we get the first class upgrades on flights, hotels, and other travel experiences.

I love to shop!  I have a weakness for designer shoes, handbags, and clothing.  The majority of my wardrobe comes from 3 stores, and two of them have excellent loyalty programs (free shipping, coupons, discount codes, and other perks).  I regularly purge my closet to keep the overflow in check, but it is full of high-quality up-scale items that I adore.

We spend more money on active entertainment.  This includes annual season tickets to the Symphony, Theatre league, concerts, comedy shows, and other live performances.  We support the arts and have a fantastic evening of quality time, above & beyond the typical dinner & a movie date night.

Charity donations are easier when you do not feel like a charity case yourself.  We are able to donate money directly to our favorite charities, and spend more money on fundraisers and purchases (auction items & raffle tickets).  I have won some amazing prizes through silent auction that I never would have gotten otherwise and supported a good cause.  My 30th birthday party was dinner at Disney’s Club 33 that I won at a silent auction to support Education!

Overall, I splurge on activities and experiences.  There is no maintenance fee or on-going cost for a memory.

Weirdly Frugal – 6 Strategies for Frugal Living

I am fascinated by shopping habits, financial spending, and basic consumer behavior.  I discuss this with friends, family, co-workers, and strangers.  And I have learned that I am weird, and my spending habits are a bit of an outlier.  Basically, I am frugal, but in weird ways that separate me from the coupon cutters and other stereotypical groups depicted on TV.6-ways-to-frugal-livingpractical-advice-for-debt-free-living

What I “give up” by being frugal:

We moved out of and sold our larger home with pool, hot tub, large back yard, and “extra” rooms.  We now live in a much smaller home that perfectly fits our household.  Our small home requires less furniture, less electricity to heat & cool, and less time cleaning it.  The smaller back yard has less patio furniture and a smaller water bill due to desert landscaping and less grass, and we do not pay landscaper or pool maintenance.  The smaller house is the most cost saving change and makes the most impact to monthly budget and unplanned expenses. Continue reading “Weirdly Frugal – 6 Strategies for Frugal Living”

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