Moving slowly to the right place...

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-21-2011
Moving slowly to the right place...
Fri, 03-02-2012 - 1:05am

Hi there,

I've been away from the board for a while...when I started, last May (2011) I had a debt of 90,500 all in credit cards, loans of credit and store credits. Until that month, I had been living on a state that I can only feel horror now when I think of it. I didn't think on what I was doing, to myself, to my family, to other people in this world, to this planet, to the future...

Many of us in the Western world have been behaving like that. I feel regret and shame, even when I always considered myself a partially "frugal" person: I don't own a big house, nor have a full closet nor spend my money on restaurants and coffees or even renovations.

I live a pretty simple life: in a townhouse, only one car, we have always bagged our lunches, I have only two pair of shoes for winter and two for summer, our vacations are a week a year close to the city where we live (no flights, no cruises, no big hotels), etc...

Since I started this plan, things have changed dramatically. I can only managed to pay down about 5,000 (now our debt is 85,300) and there are only $35 in the eFund as it is always used up for something: from car repair to children's shoes...

But the changes are not there: we have reduced our power/electricity consumption in 17% since we started the challenge last November (it won't reflect in money until a year has passed, as we are in a regular payment plan). I eliminated paper napkins and reduced paper towels to less than half of what we used before. I started composting and will start a vegetable garden this Spring, not just to save money in veggies, but to have the pleasure (and feel the independence) of having my own food at home if something happens...I have completely stopped buying any clothes (for me, my husband or the children. The exception is my teenager boy as he is growing fast and needs clothes, but he is already very frugal). I also stopped using the dryer (which died about a month ago and forced us to buy another one, with the sinking fund), and now I use a clothing rack. I use the dryer only for big towels, jeans and blankets, once in a while...

The thing is: I went from being a completely unconscious consumer, immersed in debt, to start checking frugal and simply living (to reduce the debt) and now I am becoming a really thrift and frugal person.

I still use money: I plan to buy a good bike and go to work with it. Until now, we carpool my husband and I as we work close to each other and have only one car, but biking will add (for me at least) the benefit of getting fit without going to a gym, and will reduce more the dependence on fuel as I can go to the grocery store biking instead of by car...I also plan to buy some wood and make raise beds for my veggie garden, and plan to change the car in the future for a cheaper and less consumer one (for now this is not a good idea, as the one we have is paid off. If we buy a new one, we will add at least $300/month to our usual expenses) I also need to finish paying for my studies (first reason we are so much into debt) and with time, but a detached house with some land to have chicken and goat, apart from a bigger vegetable garden...

However, my goal is not just reduce the debt (I can't believe I have accumulated so much!, even when most of it is due to my studies...), but to become even more frugal, so we can leave our jobs earlier, or at least reduce the hours and stay at home more. We also want to become less dependent from a system that doesn't care for us (nor for anybody). you work and work and then realize than when they don't need you anymore, they just kick you out. Same with saved money: you make big efforts to set your money aside and save some, invest, etc., just to find out that a crack in the market can blow that away and you get nothing...

Best advice to all:

  • Declutter your house: the extra clutter may be sold or may help somebody in need. A decluttered house also gives you peace of mind and helps you to concentrate in things that really matter.
  • Use things up until they can't be reused. Don't buy things. We buy too much, from "nice" thing stop buying things we think we "need" but we really don't.
  • Save energy, water and gas. You'll save money and make good to the future of us and the planet
  • Buy less or don't buy. Reduce your grocery bill by eating frugal and starting a vegetable garden at home.
  • Use all the money left to pay off debts
  • Get rid of the car if you can. We are thinking to get rid of this one when it doesn't work more and then just stay without a car: use public transportation, a bike or walk, carpool and rent a car when in need to travel far (unusual for us)

I've discovered in this journey that we buy for different reasons. In my case, I used to buy because I didn't think in the future. I thought I did, but I didn't: I didn't think in the way I was going through life with this sense of entitlement (just because I had credit available) I wanted books, and I bought them. I wanted nice things for my children and I bought them. And I wanted good food and I bought them...

It gives you a sense of independence when you can walk through the grocery store and be completely conscious of what you buy. When you can go to a mall and just buy what you came to buy (because you needed it) and not buying three more things...and when you just use what you have at home because you know you can't get into more debt.

I really appreciate all the support and help I got from this group. I still think I need help as I need to ay off a big piece...and I still have problems controlling my credit card use, as I continue to use them to pay for courses, books and repairs...I say to myself that that behaviour will end when I finish at least some of my studies (I will graduate from two specializations this July, and don't know whether I'll continue with the bachelor after that...the future has changed a lot!) after July the debt should stop accumulating and start going down finally...

Well, that's me for now...just needed to say hi and post some updates to make myself accountable.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2007
Fri, 03-02-2012 - 5:37am
Thank you for this post. It certainly resonates with me, since I'm starting to explore the idea of, instead of frugality, living a mindful life. It sounds like you are well into the journey and have adopted a healthy attitude towards spending and living. I would like to start moving towards this way of thinking in hopes that DD will follow.

Your advice "list" is appreciated and it makes me wonder if we should have some challenges on the board to start moving towards mindful living. We've had all sorts of frugality challenges, but it always feels a little bit like "sacrificing" instead of a focus on what's truly important. I'm not sure what those challenges could be (as I'm just starting to explore this concept), but I'd definately be open to seeing a shift in focus.

Ugh, when I want a book, I buy a book. I had never really thought of it as entitlement, but now that I'm pondering it, borrowing from the library would have been much better for our planet. I don't always go to the library because, if the book isn't available, I don't want to wait months (or even years) on their waiting lists. But really, what's my hurry?

Ah, so much to think about.... that's what I love about these boards....


empty purse

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-21-2011
Fri, 03-02-2012 - 11:50am

Thanks Kate, that's an excellent idea...those of us who are in debt are here for different reasons, but there is always a feeling of being overwhelmed, giving up and regret, blame and shame. Changing the mood to small challenges that gives not just a sense of paying off, but a sense of going back to what's is truly important may help with this.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Fri, 03-02-2012 - 1:58pm

I'm impressed with your mindset. Even though it is not for everyone it could be for some people and gives us options. I think its great you are getting out of debt even though you are still in school.