The Debt Epidemic

🚨Keepin it real rant ahead🚨

This is us..this is America..scary huh? What if I told you that we are all responsible for this culture of debt and living above our means and we all have to contribute to putting an end to this. It’s hurting us, our kids, our health, our planet, it’s an epidemic and I wish more people were feeling terrified about the topic. It just keeps getting worse each year, small credit card purchases, car payments, student loans, slowly adding up to over $13 trillion. 💳

Who’s ready to break the cycle?? And I don’t mean just pay off the minimums and maybe a little extra to continue to be a slave to debt for the rest of your life. I don’t mean to just do a debt consolidation or home equity loan or line of credit to pay off..because debt is still debt..whether it’s paying ten different people or paying one. And now that you’ve consolidated, guess what, you’re probably just going to add MORE debt now that you’ve freed up those credit cards. 🤷‍♀️

Your past will continue to haunt you if you aren’t ready to take a long hard look in the mirror and realize that YOU created this mess, and YOU have to do the hard work to not only get out of it, but STAY out of it. You have to STOP talking about how you don’t make enough money, you’re just barely scraping by and don’t have any extra to pay, maybe once you pay off the car or once you get that tax return you will, or once you get a raise you will, you are lying to yourself. STOP playing the victim and STOP making excuses for your spending habits. You’re only hurting yourself.

Also, those student loans, yeah those suck just as bad as the credit cards, but you CHOSE to go to school and you took them out, so guess what? You owe it..so PAY that shit back already!

YOUR kids SEE you living that lifestyle, and they HEAR you fighting about money, and they FEEL your stress at the end of the month when there’s not enough paycheck to go around. They see you treating yourself “because you earned it”, and they are learning that shopping makes everything better..new stuff will take away that rough week..only it wont.

Harsh words, but let me ask again..who’s ready to break the cycle??

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No Spend Year Update

Brief recap of the one decision that I made back in January that has literally changed my life. It has created a snowball effect and has really helped me reset, basically like a “financial cleanse”. I made the decision to not buy certain things for the entire year of 2019, including clothes, shoes, accessories, purses, makeup and also gave up hair dye, products and haircuts.

I was doing REALLY REALLY good with it and staying strong and not missing anything and in fact finding myself in the process. (mainly by avoiding stores and unsubscribing to all the emails) Lately though, I have definitely been struggling to stay motivated and the consumeritis can sometimes feel contagious. 😷

I know I justified and bought sunglasses a few months back when mine broke, and if we’re being real honest, I could have worn one of the random cheapo pairs lying about my house, like the ones I got at a conference with built in bottle openers on the sides..lol. I also caught myself borderline begging my husband to tell me it’s ok to buy some used earbuds from a neighbors garage sale. 😂 Then there was this past weekend at Target where I was getting a few toiletries and a new nail polish jumped into my cart. 💅🏻

See below..they are both cute and will last me for years to come. 🤷‍♀️

It’s not about the $14 collective dollars that I’ve spent this year that if you want to get all technical..are totally on my banned items list. It’s more about me losing my way and my why in the process.

Life has been throwing a bit of a difficult season my way, and it’s easy to fall back into old ways and “things” to make me feel better. But I still ultimately know it’s only a temporary feeling and it’s a VERY slippery slope. The long term mindset shift is more important to me than the temporary gratification followed quickly by buyers remorse. So I’m committed to getting back on track, especially knowing that we are entering into the biggest spending season. Since it’s my first one on my new path, wondering if anyone has any tips on how to get through it without buying all the things. 🤔

Lifestyle Choices

This is going to be one of the hardest topics yet to cover at a very high level and also my first mention of FIRE in my writings (financial independence retire early). My goal is just to inform you of two choices and get you rethinking, especially if you feel like you don’t have choices and are stuck in your current financial position. I am by no means claiming to be an expert on the topic or to get into the HOW in this post. I have just dabbled with both lifestyles mentioned and I feel like there are not enough people (especially women) who are thinking about or providing information on the topic..so looks like you are stuck with me. 😜

The above picture is the best way I could summarize the concept of lifestyle creep. For now, as mentioned, this is just to introduce you to the topic, so I have a few stats and thought provoking questions to hopefully do so.

First..the stats tell an alarming story. I recently read in this USA Today article https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/34378157 that the average household is bringing in around $75,000 annually, and of that, they are spending 90% of it, which equates to $67,500 outgoing and only around $7,500 extra annually. (which the article states a lot of this is going towards interest payments on consumer debt). This breaks down to $5,625 in expenses each month and $625 extra. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room and helps paint a picture as to why people aren’t putting anything or very little towards saving, investing, emergency funds and retirement. 😳

Essentially pointing out that people are living a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I don’t know that this was a surprise to any of us, but it may be a surprise that people are making the choice everyday with their actions and spending habits to live this way. Disclaimer that there are people living in poverty, so for the sake of my post, I am referring to the middle class mentioned above.

Now on to the questions. Feel free to answer in comments if you want to share, or just answer to yourself or as an internal conversation or with your significant other. Keep it real because denial is a great way to protect yourself from the truth right now, but long term in fact it just ends up hurting you more.

1) Are you living paycheck to paycheck like the scenario mentioned above?

2) Have you noticed that no matter what you do, you just can’t get ahead?

3) Do you receive regular raises or have you changed jobs to make additional money over the course of your career, yet you aren’t seeing a difference in your monthly budget after expenses because they always seem to match what’s coming in?

4) Do you ever pay attention to how much you spend on conveniences like pre-made food, someone to mow your lawn, someone to clean that big house, someone to wash that new car, someone to groom your dog, someone to do your hair/nails/makeup, etc because you are too busy working to do these things?

5) Have you ever wondered why things are like this for you and probably a lot of people you know, yet it’s still a taboo topic to discuss money, so everyone just keeps working harder and staying in the vicious cycle mentioned above?

6) What will happen if you change nothing and keep following this path?

Please reference the above picture as you are going through these questions to see if lifestyle creep has found a way to creep into your life. Remember..be honest.

Next, know that there is another option. As mentioned above, lifestyle creep is a choice and I’ve said this so many times on purpose. So many think they have no choice unless they make more money and this is far from the truth.

Lifestyle creep is a path that many in our society have walked and not challenged until recent years. Here are some questions to ask yourself and see if you’re one of those ready to challenge the traditional path and choose a different way.

1) What upsets you the most about always being broke and living paycheck to paycheck?

2) How has constantly feeling stressed from working so much and not having any money to show for it affected you?

3) What are your values and what are you spending your money on? Do they line up?

4) What are your passions and what do you dream about doing?

5) What could change if you have an open mind and put in the work, I mean really put in the work, to change your current financial path and mindset? Think of one quick and easy way you can change today.

6) What will happen if you start to live a lifestyle designed by you instead of others?

As mentioned, a lot of people have started looking at the above stats and questions, and are starting to make the decision to customize their lifestyle based on their own unique values, not what society tells them to value. Spoiler alert..it’s not through making more money as mentioned above..it has never been about that. It’s about a lifestyle of being content with only those things that bring you value. Luckily, it usually don’t cost anything at all, just the basics needed like food, shelter, experiences and none of the extra crap. 😊

Don’t get this lifestyle design twisted with a life of going without, because it’s actually the opposite of that. You have room for so much more when you let go of stupid shit.

Well..shocker..I have lots more to say but I’ve said enough for one day. What are your thoughts or questions on the two different paths mentioned above?

Garage Sale Season

With end of summer upon us, I start thinking about all of the garages full of stuff that is no longer used, too small or has been upgraded. I have memories of being a kid and getting up early every weekend to go to garage sales. (bribed with donuts and the hopes of a new toy of course) 🍩 🧸

Nobody asked me about my opinion on garage sales, but I’ve decided to tell you anyway. I can say that I had one several years back and made around $800 when I was on maternity leave. I also did one for a work fundraiser and made around $500 for our Big Brothers Big Sisters bowling team. For mine, I sold a bunch of maternity stuff and baby stuff we weren’t using and all of Kylie’s clothes we had saved from NB-4T, after picking out the gender neutral stuff for Caleb of course. 😉

Looking back..I definitely think people with babies up to 4 years have the best luck. Also, people in a high traffic area or neighborhood having a lot of sales the same day can also be successful. But I also think we can avoid the need for a garage sale by sticking to the bare minimums and borrowing stuff that we will only need for a short period of time. Babies seem to be a reason to buy everything, and baby registry’s make it easy to add a bazillion things you will likely be too exhausted to figure out how to use once parenting shows you it’s true colors. Then it will end up in your pile for the sale, likely priced at half what it costs, just to have someone ask you if you’d take five dollars for it. (I know because I’m a garage sale hardcore negotiator) 😂

If your sale includes clothes, shoes, and household items, and you still have a closet full after outing for the sale, then it might be time to just stop and reflect on your stuff strategy. Not only did that clutter used to be money, but that money used to be your time.

I will say if I’ve finally persuaded you to join my minimalist lifestyle and you are simplifying your life and need a fresh start, one big sale may be a good idea. But only if it ends there, and you don’t just go out and accumulate more stuff to replace what you sold. Also, think about the time and energy that goes into one. If setting up, pricing, getting nasty warm lemonade for the kids to sell and dealing with them badgering your customers for 5 hours on your Saturday morning with extreme temperature variations like smoldering heat or pouring rain and going back and forth with hardcore negotiators like me sounds like a good time to you..well start borrowing those tables my friends. 🤷‍♀️

If that sounds comparable to a root canal, then selling things in “lots” on Facebook Marketplace is a great alternative. Or let’s be honest, we all know that person that’s selling clothes that are so loved they should be donated. Just saying..don’t be that friend..also don’t be the friend that sells hand me downs you got from a friend. (Totally did that on accident and still getting shit for it two years later) 😂

When it comes to shopping at garage sales, this can be a double edged sword. I remember finding a rocking chair with foot rest at a garage sale for $15 that I used with both kids. I negotiated it from the $30 it was marked at and was so proud. But I’ve also lost all common sense and self control at a sale and just bought the whole damn table of baby clothes I didn’t need. So be careful when you shop..they can be sneaky and fill your trunk up before you realize you only needed a few things. 🤷‍♀️

Now you know my thoughts..what are yours and please share your garage sale fails and success stories. 😊

Haircuts At Home

Well..against several people’s wishes 🤣 I went for it and cut a little over an inch off using the Unicorn method. 💇🏼 🦄

BEFORE:

My thoughts 💭 ummm..I wish I would have tried this sooner!! I haven’t looked at the back, but my husband said it was straight, and he has to be seen with me, so pretty sure I can trust him. I feel very accomplished trying something that terrified myself and many others for me to try. It was actually so super easy, only took about 5 minutes, and was absolutely FREE. (my husband had scissors so I didn’t have to buy anything) ✂️

AFTER:

Just kidding 🤣..

THE REAL AFTER:

My family may be a little scared of me venturing out to their heads next, but going to try and earn their trust through “gentle” persuasion and possibly bribery . 💁‍♀️

With a family of four averaging $25 per cut, that adds up to around $900 a year and $15k over an 18 year period. This doesn’t include color, which I already stopped all together 9 months ago, or eyebrow maintenance, which I’m still trying to navigate on my own, literally one tweeze at a time (had a bad home wax incident of 2013 I’m still recovering from). 😬

The verdict: Go get you some nice shears, watch a few YouTube tutorials, put on a brave face, and go for it! If it goes well, send me a shout out. If it doesn’t go well, take comfort in knowing it will grow back soon. 🤷‍♀️

What can you do with that $15k I just saved your family? Feel free to Venmo it to me. 🤑

What else do you do at home or what should I try next on my new DIY kick?!

(Disclaimer: I am not a cosmetologist and your results may vary, so you have been warned that it’s all on you whatever actions you decide to take after reading this)

6 months down!!

What better day than Amazon Prime day to give an update on how my No Spend Year is going. I wouldn’t have even known about it if it weren’t for my coworkers. 🤷‍♀️ While shopping holidays like today have never really appealed to me, I will say the No Spend has been a bit of a challenge the past few weeks. 😬

Timing was just right that I had a really amazing friend gift me some clothes that I absolutely love and am so grateful for (my new fave skirt..it has pockets!). I did end up buying sunglasses a few months back because mine broke, which I considered a need for eye protection. I also bought some stuff, including a T-shirt for a fundraiser for a friend, but I don’t count that since it was for a great cause. I’ve been battling with buying a pair of sandals for work. I can technically wear flats that I have, so not sure this qualifies as a “need”. Do my feet really “need” sandals when it’s 100 degrees out, but still frigid cold in the office? Probably not. Lastly, I bought a new AppleWatch and new Nike running shoes, but these I can explain..I promise. I work for a great employer, and both were FREE as part of my employee benefits package. Yes you read that right..and yes we are hiring. 😉

Overall, I’m SO PROUD of myself for the amount of restraint and growth I have experienced this first half of the year. I would like to thank the former “consumer” in me for knowing her weaknesses, and avoiding emails by unsubscribing to everything, and staying out of any of my “trigger stores”. 😂

I would estimate that over the past 6 months, I have likely saved upwards of $2,500. This is just an estimate based on my previous patterns. My old consumer self went to Target 2-3x a month and would average around $100 per trip, along with usually having my hair colored every 10 weeks at about $85, and don’t forget buying some makeup here and there, shoes, and at least one big “seasonal” shopping trip for new clothes around $500ish total. Don’t forget the little random purchases here and there also. 🤦‍♀️

I’m really looking forward to continuing to save and invest my money for the second half of the year, which will help keep me on track. Besides the savings of time, money and not having extra clutter, I definitely have a different mindset about money. Knowing that every day I’m trading my time for money, reminds me that each purchase, no matter how small, has to be bought with hours of my life. That’s a powerful translation of currency that will always stick with me going forward. 🕰 💵

This is us

I thought with all the new followers, it’s a good time to re-introduce the magic behind mysemibasiclife (you read that right..I totally referred to myself as the magic). To celebrate, my daughter humored me with a photo shoot, and my favorite was one of the bloopers. 😜

Sometimes life is more about what happens behind the scenes, between the “perfect” pictures, when you’re trying to pose and get the best lighting, hide that lazy eye, those wrinkles and those frizzy grey hairs. She captured all of these things, all of my imperfections, including crows feet I didn’t even know were there. How fitting to show my imperfections to all of you who have been following along on my imperfect journey to financial freedom. This is me..always laughing at my own jokes, never taking things too seriously, currently staring off into space like only a true dreamer can do. 🤷‍♀️

This is the entire family that puts up with my latest crazy schemes, understands the bigger picture behind those crazy schemes, sometimes appreciates my hilariously witty comments and penny pinching ways, and packs in the car with me for that fifth trip to the library in a two day period. 😂

You weren’t there for the early years, the dark debt days 😬 where we were living beyond our means and got ourselves into a financial spot where all of our paychecks were going towards debt. But you have now followed along as we ditched the debt, got rid of car payments and paid our last student loan off, which puts us at a grand total of $165,000 in consumer debt paid off!! You’re following as I am feeling weak, but holding strong and halfway through my #nospendyear. You followed along as we bought our first rental property and are following along now as we now search for the next one. 👀

We are excited to continue sharing our life after debt journey, including our ever changing goals, working on growing our net worth, celebrating the success, overcoming the setbacks, and the blood, sweat and tears along the way as we define what financial independence looks like for our family. 🔥

Enough about us though..I want to hear from you..what’s your story? What topics that I’ve covered have helped or would help you along your journey?

What questions do you have for me?

👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼