spending freeze http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/15862/all en-US Is Peer Pressure Keeping You Poor? http://www.wisebread.com/is-peer-pressure-keeping-you-poor <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-peer-pressure-keeping-you-poor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/shop_together.jpeg" alt="Guys shopping together" title="Guys shopping together" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Like every other Wise Bread writer, I hate debt. Although my debt doesn&rsquo;t keep me awake at night, it is one of the things I think about while brushing my teeth every morning. &ldquo;What will I do today (<em>brush-brush</em>) that will help me pay down (<em>brush</em>) my home mortgage ahead of (<em>brush</em>) schedule?&rdquo;</p> <p>The idea that &ldquo;<a target="_blank" href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444032404578008322908926476.html?mod=rss_PJ_Main">many people would rather struggle to pay off</a> a large credit card bill than utter the phrase 'I can&rsquo;t afford it,'&rdquo; tests the limits of my financial imagination like a velociraptor tests an electric fence. It&rsquo;s so painful, yet I can&rsquo;t stop thinking about it. Spending money that you don&rsquo;t have is a type of self-harm that often goes undetected and can have lifelong consequences. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-enemies-of-frugality?ref=seealso">The Enemies of Frugality</a>)</p> <h2>The Positive Power of &quot;I Can't Afford That&quot;</h2> <p>I am grateful that I figured out early on that people who judged me for saying &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t afford that&rdquo; were the same people who were secretly living with crushing amounts of credit debt and didn&rsquo;t own anything. I think most emotionally mature people realize that friends and family who make you feel bad about how much money you have are not nice people, but even armed with that knowledge, there is still so much peer pressure to spend.</p> <p>One of the hardest things about not having financial parity with the people around you is turning down invitations to events that are out of your budget range. Being in debt can be isolating. In addition to missing out on weddings, nights on the town, or even schooling, friends who get turned down repeatedly might take your reluctance to spend money you don&rsquo;t have as a personal rejection.</p> <p>So, how do you talk about debt without losing all your friends? There must be at least a dozen ways that people manage their public spending vs. private debt, but I have four strategies that have worked for me personally.</p> <h2>Be Your Own Financial Cruise Director</h2> <p>Your debt is not your friends' problem to solve.</p> <p>While your truly good friends will always listen to you complain about your financial woes, it&rsquo;s not really up to them to make your life without money work. If you want to spend time with people you care about, suggest alternate, inexpensive ways of spending time with them:</p> <ul> <li>If you can&rsquo;t afford to go to a $10 gym class, suggest a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-have-free-outdoor-fun">morning hike or a run through the park</a> to your sporty friends.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you can&rsquo;t afford dinner, ask to meet with your friends after dinner for a drink instead.</li> </ul> <p>When I was really poor, I became the master social planner for everyone in my life because I would comb the weekly alternative newspaper for free concerts, book readings, art openings, and other events that I could invite my friends to.</p> <p>Even if you live in a tiny town with no nightlife, there are plenty of free ways to spend time with your friends. For example, offer to go with them when they have to run all their boring errands. Or, hang out with them at school events for their kids. Do yourselves both a favor and schedule a cleaning day where you switch off helping each other clean your houses. Chores go faster when you have a friend to talk to.</p> <h2>Be Honest</h2> <p>First, be honest with yourself. <a target="_blank" href="http://money.msn.com/credit-cards/credit-card-payoff-calculator.aspx">Use a debt calculator</a> to figure out how long it will take you to pay off your debt with what you are currently paying.</p> <p>Once you&rsquo;ve established your baseline, experiment with the calculator to see how fast you can pay down your debt if you just pay just 5% more than you are currently spending.</p> <p>Once you know how little money it takes to cut YEARS off your debt, try to figure out what amount of money you can cut out of your budget and throw at your debt.</p> <ul> <li>Do you have good public transportation in your town? Would it be worth it to stop driving your car for a year if it meant you could pay down a credit card debt in the same amount of time?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Would people at your office still be your friends if you stopped going on Starbucks runs with them every day and instead baked a homemade cake once a week to share with them in the lunch room? Would they still be your friends if you just escorted them to Starbucks and didn&rsquo;t order anything yourself?</li> </ul> <p>Second, be honest with your friends. Put on your adult pants and just be out about your budget parameters.</p> <p>The economy is crappy, so most people are actually in the same boat. In addition to saving yourself from friendship-ending misunderstandings, being honest about your finances can actually lead to finding extra work. Most people do live lives of quiet desperation, and those people are not the ones who get recommended for jobs. I am very loud about my life of desperation, and consequently I&rsquo;ve always had odd jobs come my way. No reasonable person can fault you for wanting to sock away more cash during a recession, and you might as well reap the rewards of talking about yourself.</p> <h2>Decide What You Really Want</h2> <p>Nothing is more depressing than not being able to afford something you really want because all your money is going to pay down credit debt. That said, if you earned an extra $100 per month this year that didn&rsquo;t have to go for bills, what would you spend it on?</p> <p>When I was still in college, I decided that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quiz-am-i-really-ready-to-buy-a-home">I wanted to buy a house</a> by the time I turned 30. Every time someone pressured me to spend money I didn&rsquo;t have I would say, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sorry, I can&rsquo;t afford that because I&rsquo;m saving up to buy a house.&rdquo; That really shut people up because people can understand the desire and expense of homeownership. Also, by having that goal, it was so much easier to not feel deprived because I would just ask myself, &ldquo;Do I want this cocktail, pair of shoes, theater ticket, whatever more than I want a house?&rdquo;</p> <p>So what do you really want? The kids in private school? A vacation? The ability to eat sushi three times a week? People are a helper species. If you commit to a personal goal, even random strangers will root for you to achieve it.</p> <h2>Find People Who Will Reinforce Good Spending Habits</h2> <p>Ultimately, how you spend money is your responsibility. Are the people who are pressuring you to spend money going to apply the same amount of attention to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/friends-and-goals-dont-let-a-blue-falcon-bring-you-down">helping you get out of debt</a>? If the answer is no, find some people who share your financial needs and desire to get out of debt.</p> <p>A recent <a target="_blank" href="http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/12-060_4073be1c-88ba-4d5e-9fca-d5275baf3355.pdf">Harvard Business School field study tested the effects</a> of self-help peer groups on micro-entrepreneurs in Chile. The paper&rsquo;s authors discovered that participating in self-help style groups helped the micro-entrepreneurs almost double their savings.</p> <p>The Harvard researchers also discovered that similar effects can be achieved by holding people accountable through feedback like text messaging. Luckily, you don&rsquo;t have to be a Chilean micro-entrepreneur to get online feedback. ING&rsquo;s <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ingcompareme.com/#/home">CompareMe tool</a> allows people to plug in their age, income, and hobbies and see how their retirement savings and their debt stack up.</p> <p>Do you work better with a buddy? Most people do. If you can&rsquo;t find a friend or family member who wants to commit to a savings challenge with you, recruit someone who lives near you. Likely candidates include anyone who attends a Dave Ramsey seminar or any adult education class on personal finances or Simple Living. Alternately, you could always start your own savings group online, where you can get advice and support from people who are actively looking to spend less and save more.</p> <p><em>Do you feel peer pressure to spend money you don&rsquo;t have? What do you think about it? What do you do about it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-peer-pressure-keeping-you-poor">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-spending-fast-in-16-easy-steps">How to Do a Spending Fast in 16 (Easy!) Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/weight-watchers-for-your-wallet">Weight Watchers for Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The 5 Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards">The Best Low Interest Rate Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management acheiving goals peer pressure spending freeze Wed, 13 Feb 2013 11:36:33 +0000 Max Wong 967689 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Do a One-Month Spending Freeze http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000001769284Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Making a big financial change is like getting in a cold swimming pool. You can oh-so-slowly walk from the shallow end to the deep end, shivering all the way &mdash; or you can hold your nose and just jump in. It might not be pleasant, but it sure is faster &mdash; and you might be surprised at how quickly you acclimate to the water.</p> <p>Similarly, if you&rsquo;re looking to overhaul your finances &mdash; whether you want to pay down debt, save more, or just spend your money wisely &mdash; you can develop little habits bit-by-bit, or you can jump into the pool with a spending freeze. By cutting out all unnecessary spending, you can jump-start your financial goals &mdash; and discover lots of fun, free things to do that you might have never thought of.</p> <p>You can do a spending freeze for any amount of time &mdash; a week, two weeks, even a year &mdash; but one month is a nice. It&rsquo;s enough time that you can save what feels like a significant amount of money, but not so long that it feels like it&rsquo;s going to go on forever. (For longer time periods, check out our article on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-spending-fast-in-16-easy-steps">How to Do a Spending Fast in 16 (Easy!) Steps</a>.)</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s what to do.</p> <h3>Look at Your Budget</h3> <p>Actually, there&rsquo;s a step before this &mdash; <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps">start a budget</a> if you don&rsquo;t already have one. The only way you can take control of your finances is to understand where your money is going.</p> <p>Now, look at what you spend money on every month, and separate the needs from the wants. Common &ldquo;want&rdquo; categories include clothing, entertainment, and dining out &mdash; but there are other, sneakier wants too. For example, how much of your weekly grocery bill is wants, and how much of it is needs?&nbsp;Also look at regular subscription services &mdash; such as newspapers or Netflix. Many will allow you to put your subscription on hold without actually cancelling it.</p> <p>After you&rsquo;ve done this, make a revised version of your budget where you spend nothing on these want categories.</p> <h3>Figure Out What You&rsquo;re Doing With Your Savings</h3> <p>Now that you&rsquo;ve established where you <i>won&rsquo;t</i> be spending money, you have to decide what you <i>will</i> be doing with those funds. Whether it&rsquo;s a large debt payment, creating your first emergency fund, or even saving for a vacation, having a goal you&rsquo;re working towards will make the spending freeze easier.</p> <h3>Enlist Others</h3> <p>Anybody who&rsquo;s ever had a gym buddy knows that doing something you don&rsquo;t want to do gets easier when you do it with someone you like. In this case, it might be your significant other, your parents, or a friend. This step isn&rsquo;t necessary, but if you do the spending freeze with someone else, you&rsquo;ll be able to support each other along the way.</p> <h3>Clean Out Your Pantry, and Plan Your Meals</h3> <p>Now that your plans are in place, it&rsquo;s time to get into the nitty-gritty. While food is a need, there are several ways that you can cut down on food costs over the next month.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-organize-your-pantry-and-save-cash">Cleaning and reorganizing your pantry</a> will remind you what foods you have hiding in your cupboards. After you&rsquo;ve made a list of what you have, use these foods as the basis to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-eat-every-day-a-month-of-frugal-meals">plan your meals for the next month</a> &mdash; not only will you use up ingredients that have been sitting around, but you&rsquo;ll slash your grocery bill.</p> <h3>Schedule Free Fun</h3> <p>One of the most difficult things about being on a spending freeze is the &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t&rdquo; feeling. Instead of moping around feeling annoyed that you can&rsquo;t go out for drinks with your friends, be proactive! Invite people over for a potluck, schedule a hike for next weekend, or set up a weekly board game night with some friends. If you need to get some ideas, check out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-have-free-outdoor-fun">50+ Ways to Have Free Outdoor Fun</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-free-ways-to-get-out-of-the-house">7 Free Ways to Get Out of the House</a>.</p> <h3>Remix Your Wardrobe</h3> <p>Don&rsquo;t think you can go 30 days without a fashion infusion? Then try the <a href="http://www.ajwearsclothes.com/2012/05/30-for-30-wardrobe-remix-pieces.html">30 for 30 Remix</a>, which challenges you to take just 30 pieces of clothing you own and make them into 30 different outfits in 30 days.</p> <h3>Track Your Progress</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s important to track your progress &mdash; seeing that you&rsquo;re on the right track can make you charged up to keep going. Consider putting up a chart on the fridge where you can track your savings.</p> <h3>Adopt Permanent Changes</h3> <p>At the end of the month, take some time to consider what worked for you. Maybe you discovered that packing your lunch for work wasn&rsquo;t so bad, and you didn&rsquo;t miss eating out. Or that there&rsquo;s more versatility in your wardrobe than you thought. Or you didn&rsquo;t miss cable. Whatever it is, see if there are some frugal changes that you can adopt as long-term habits instead of just going back to your old ways.</p> <h3>Need Motivation? How About $10,000 in Prizes?</h3> <p>Almost inspired to start a spending freeze but need a little extra motivation? We're here to help! Wise Bread has teamed up with SaveUp to give away $10,000 worth of cash prizes to reward you for not using your credit card. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/saveup-s-no-spend-giveaway-win-up-to-10000-in-rewards">Check out our contest post for full details</a>.</p> <p><em>Have you done a spending freeze? Or are you thinking about trying one? Share your experiences in the comments!</em></p> <div align="center"> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/saveup-s-no-spend-giveaway-win-up-to-10000-in-rewards"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u4/saveup-nospend-300_0.jpg" width="300" height="300" alt="" /></a></p></div><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-times-to-avoid-debit-or-credit-cards">7 Times to Avoid Debit or Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-100s-next-month-with-these-10-grocery-shopping-tips">Save $100s Next Month With These 10 Grocery Shopping Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-full-time-for-17000-a-year-or-less">How to Travel Full-Time for $17,000 a Year (or Less!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting free things to do pantry spending freeze wardrobe Wed, 16 Jan 2013 11:36:34 +0000 Meg Favreau 965736 at http://www.wisebread.com Weight Watchers for Your Wallet http://www.wisebread.com/weight-watchers-for-your-wallet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/weight-watchers-for-your-wallet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/red-wallet-iStock_000015022629Small.jpg" alt="red wallet" title="red wallet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As both a financial blogger and an &ldquo;amateur nutritionist&rdquo; (and no, those are not sugar cookie crumbs on my chin, and you&rsquo;ll never prove otherwise), I have often noticed that many of the behavioral tips for dieting really overlap with the behavioral tips for paying off debt. In fact, the willpower necessary for avoiding spending temptations is very similar to the willpower needed to avoid the office donut box &mdash; and just as difficult to harness. Changing your habits and behaviors is what really leads to long-term changes in both your overall and your financial health. So, with that in mind, let&rsquo;s look at four common diet tips out there and see how they relate to paying off your credit card debt. With these tips, you can kill two New Year&rsquo;s resolution birds with one stone. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tips-for-making-resolutions-stick-in-the-new-year">4 Tips for Making Resolutions Stick in the New Year</a>)</p> <h3>1. You Should Consider Whether You&rsquo;re Really Hungry</h3> <p>At first glance, this advice from <a href="http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/15-best-diet-tips-ever">WebMD</a> seems to have little to do with your Visa bill. But getting in touch with your body&rsquo;s hunger cues has a lot to do with listening to your own emotional state. Just as we will often eat mindlessly when we are bored, stressed, or upset, we will also find ourselves heading to the mall or surfing Amazon to relieve an emotion that has nothing to do with our need for more stuff.</p> <p><strong>How to Implement This Advice</strong></p> <p>If you truly have a hard time determining the difference between a shopping need and want, go on a fast. Even though completely cutting out food is an unhealthy way to learn what hunger really feels like, going on a week- or month-long <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-spending-fast-in-16-easy-steps">financial fast</a> can be truly cleansing. It helps you to determine the difference between shopping to fill an emotional need and buying things you truly need. The bonus is that at the end of a financial fast, the money you saved by not spending at all can be added to your credit card payment.</p> <h3>2. You Should Step on Your Scale Daily</h3> <p>This tip comes from <a href="http://www.cosmopolitan.com/advice/health/10-best-weight-loss-tips-ever-0809">Cosmopolitan</a> (that bastion of excellent reporting). You can&rsquo;t know what work you have to do on either your diet or your debt payoff plan if you don&rsquo;t know where you are in the journey. That means you have to do two of the most dreaded personal chores: weighing yourself and logging into your credit card account. Often, the first time you step on the scale or check out your credit card balance, it&rsquo;s enough for you to shut down and try to forget you ever knew how bad you let it get. But as long as you are willing to do work to improve your situation, your daily weigh-in/log-in will become first informational, and then inspirational, as the numbers improve day after day and week after week.</p> <p><strong>How to Implement This Advice</strong></p> <p>Check your account balances. Right now. And don&rsquo;t just look at the big total &mdash; go back over your individual purchases. This might give you some ideas for things you can return or help you to find <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/news/consumers-sucker-punched-sneaky-gray-050000487.html">charges you need to dispute</a>. Taking care of those right away will help that big, scary number go down. (The only way to get such immediate improvement with a scale is to strip down to your birthday suit &mdash; and even then it&rsquo;s rarely an improvement worth freezing off your tooshie.)</p> <p>Then keep looking at your accounts online regularly. It is a habit that will help you to remember why you are working so hard to send every extra penny to your credit card bill. And it will keep you honest if you fall off the wagon and go on a shopping spree.</p> <h3>3. Go Ahead and Have That Cookie</h3> <p>Follow this advice from <a href="http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/top-diet-tips-lose-weight-good?page=4">Shape Magazine</a>, because going cold turkey on your favorite things, whether they be Mallomars or shopping with your Mom, is difficult. So difficult, in fact, that deciding that you will <em>never do that again!</em> is a great way to set yourself up for failure. Because ultimately the cookie or the mall will call your name, and once you&rsquo;ve cheated a little bit, why not go ahead and cheat a lot?</p> <p>Psychologists and behavioral economists refer to this as the <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/changepower/201111/beware-the-what-the-hell-effect-especially-holidays">&ldquo;what-the-hell&rdquo; effect</a>, and we have all felt it. (In point of fact, psychologists actually call this &ldquo;counterregulatory behavior,&rdquo; but calling it the &ldquo;what-the-hell&rdquo; effect is much more concise, if slightly profane.) This effect explains our sense that dieting or refraining from spending money is either all or nothing, so the moment we have given in to temptation a little bit, we might as well throw our own guidelines out the window &mdash; &ldquo;What the hell! I&rsquo;ve already bought myself a new lipstick/eaten a brownie, I might as well go buy some new shoes and a purse/have a burger and a milkshake.&rdquo;</p> <p>The way to combat this effect, both when you are dieting and trying to pay off debt, is to allow yourself cheats and consider that part of your plan. No one is capable of always avoiding temptation, and our brains our wired to think of ourselves as either dieting/refraining from spending or not, so the first time you slip up is often an opportunity to binge on whatever you&rsquo;ve been denying yourself.</p> <p><strong>How to Implement This Advice</strong></p> <p>Plan ahead for when you will indulge in little shopping treats, and save up the cash to pay for them. If you love buying new clothes, save up about $100 in cash and go for a spree at a consignment store, where that amount of money can buy quite a lot. You will not only satisfy your desire for shopping, you can also feel virtuous because it&rsquo;s not detracting from your debt pay off plan.</p> <h3>4. Celebrate Success (but Not With Food)</h3> <p>One of the universal truths of the human makeup is that we are wired to want immediate gratification. According to Dan Ariely in his book &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Predictably-Irrational-Revised-Expanded-Edition/dp/0061353248">Predictably Irrational</a>,&quot; &ldquo;if a particular desired behavior results in an immediate negative outcome (punishment), this behavior will be very difficult to promote, even if the ultimate outcome is highly desirable.&rdquo; In English, that means it&rsquo;s really hard to give something up now even if what it&rsquo;ll get us later is, in a word, awesome.</p> <p>So, we need to bribe ourselves to behave. That&rsquo;s what celebrating little successes is all about. Every time we reach a small milestone &mdash; whether that&rsquo;s losing the first two pounds or getting our credit card balance below a particular dollar amount &mdash; we need to reward ourselves for all that hard work we&rsquo;ve been doing.</p> <p>Where this gets tough is in choosing the right type of reward. If you&rsquo;re dieting, rewarding yourself with a hot fudge sundae after running five miles leaves you basically where you started. Similarly, if you&rsquo;re trying to pay off your credit card, buying yourself a new video game to reward your thrifty ways will mess with your debt payoff mojo.</p> <p>Following advice from <a href="http://www.medicinenet.com/diet_pictures_slideshow/article.htm">Medicine.net</a>, if you&rsquo;re only dieting <em>or </em>only paying down credit card debt, the fix is easy: you can spend money on rewards for weight loss successes, or you can eat something sinfully fattening as a reward for debt payoff successes. Now, the problem is if you&rsquo;re trying to do both (or at least, you&rsquo;re trying to be generally healthy in both of those areas of your life).</p> <p><strong>How to Implement This Advice</strong></p> <p>Find rewards that cost no money or calories and still make you feel great. Those include a chat with an old friend, allowing yourself a free 30 minutes or more to get lost in your favorite (non-shopping) sites on the internet (provided you don&rsquo;t already do this on a daily basis), pampering yourself with an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-give-yourself-a-manicure-at-home">at-home pedicure</a>, taking a long nap in the middle of the day, or giving yourself a day off from chores you hate. There are plenty of free ways to celebrate your small victories &mdash; you just have to think about the things you normally don&rsquo;t allow yourself and pick out the one or two that require no cash outlay. Having those rewards to look forward to in the near future will help you stay on track overall.</p> <h3>The Bottom Line</h3> <p>Reducing your waistline requires very similar behavior modifications to reducing your debt burden. Like losing weight, reducing debt needs a two-pronged approach: lowering your consumption and increasing your (payment) activity. So as you read through New Year&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-steps-to-weight-loss">weight loss advice</a> lists (and they are plentiful!), remember that with just a little tweaking, many of these same pieces of advice can be used in your debt payoff journey.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/weight-watchers-for-your-wallet">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The 5 Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards">The Best Low Interest Rate Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-to-negatively-affect-your-credit-score">10 Surprising Ways to Negatively Affect Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-your-credit-card-debt-with-citi-simplicity-card">Retire Your Credit Card Debt With Citi Simplicity® Card</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Debt Management balanced spending dieting new year's resolutions spending freeze Fri, 28 Dec 2012 11:36:31 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 961471 at http://www.wisebread.com Finding Balance: How to Practice Moderation http://www.wisebread.com/finding-balance-how-to-practice-moderation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/finding-balance-how-to-practice-moderation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6063386541_81db776efa_z.jpg" alt="holding cake" title="holding cake" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I've been taking these exercise classes recently that I think are the most &quot;LA&quot; thing I've done since moving here &mdash; they build long, lean muscles through low-impact ballet techniques (thank you, LivingSocial). Recently, this fitness company has been trying to push a cleanse. I'm not here to debate the plusses and minuses of cleansing, but I would like to tell you about the line they keep pitching with &mdash; &quot;Want to eliminate sugar cravings once and for all?&quot;</p> <p>Uh, no!</p> <p>OK, eliminating the <em>craving</em> for sugar isn't a bad thing. I'll admit, when I eat less sugar, I don't crave it as much (or what satisfies my craving is generally much less sweet). And I certainly feel better when I'm eating things like fresh fruits and vegetables instead of big ol' slices of cake.</p> <p>But, on the flip side, I love <em>everything</em> about dessert, from making it to eating it. Rather than eliminating sugar from my diet, I'd much rather only eat sweets occasionally &mdash; and when I do, enjoy them instead of feeling guilty. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-frugal-ways-to-reward-yourself-right-now">21 Frugal Ways to Reward Yourself Right Now</a>)</p> <p>Often, when we read about self-help techniques &mdash; whether they're for finance, fitness, or something else &mdash; the stories that rise to the top are the extreme ones. It makes sense. When people are able to stick to extreme changes, their results are also often extreme. So we celebrate the people who drop 100 pounds or eliminate all discretionary spending. But following the same methods can be incredibly difficult; while all work and no play isn't likely to make you quite as crazy as the guy in &quot;The Shining,&quot; it can make you give up on your goals entirely.</p> <p>I'm not saying that extreme plans can't be followed, or that they won't produce great results. But I am saying that they are usually not long-term solutions. Rather, a combination of balance, forming new habits, and mindfulness are the keys to long-term success. Here are some suggestions to try when practicing moderation.</p> <h3>1. Don't Have a &quot;Cheat Day&quot;</h3> <p>Somehow I ended up with subscriptions to multiple women's fitness magazines (don't ask). One of the ideas I see repeated over and over is the cheat day &mdash; &quot;A day when I can eat anything I want!&quot;</p> <p>My problem isn't with the day as much as the mindset. If you have to cheat from your normal routine, what does that say about how much you enjoy the other six days of your week?</p> <p>Allowing yourself indulgences is definitely a great way to practice moderation and stay on track for your goals, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/delayed-gratification-and-the-secret-to-will-power">delaying gratification</a> has all sorts of benefits, from saving you money (if you decide later that you don't actually want what you were thinking of purchasing) to increasing the enjoyment of your indulgence when you get it. But instead of having a cheat day, try thinking positively about your actions as a whole.</p> <p>Take a two-pronged approach to attacking your goal. First, focus on the end result, and remember that most worthwhile things in life take effort. Then, find ways to enjoy and celebrate the <em>process</em> &mdash; whether you're trying out new healthy ingredients, going hiking with someone you love talking to, or organizing a challenge with your friends to see who can come up with the best free night of fun. Then, when you do treat yourself to something, it's just icing on the cake.</p> <h3>2. Enjoy Things That Are Meant to Be Enjoyed</h3> <p>Speaking of thinking positively...I can't tell you how many times I've eaten too much of a delicious dinner, only to complain about my weight between forkfuls. Or purchased drinks and had a great time with friends, only to start fretting about my bank account.</p> <p>Own your decisions. If you're indulging in something, enjoy the heck out of it. There's little point in treating yourself to something you &quot;like&quot; if you're going to spend your time whining about it.&nbsp;Remember, there is always time for worry in the future.</p> <h3>3. Moderate Your Moderation</h3> <p>When writing this article, I came upon a HuffPo piece about &quot;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/12/everything-in-moderation_n_953804.html">The 'Everything in&nbsp;Moderation' Myth</a>.&quot; The article's title, however, is more attention-grabbing than accurate. Rather, the piece is more about how people &quot;rationalize eating anything as long as they keep below their daily calorie limit &mdash; or put in extra time at the gym.&quot;</p> <p>Moderation doesn't mean you should have anything and everything; it means that you're choosing to enjoy things that bring you pleasure. Again, this is an issue of mindfulness. Split that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ultra-quick-homemade-desserts">delicious slice of cake</a> with a friend. Get one killer new dress instead of four decent ones. Moderation isn't a free-for-all excuse, it's a way to appreciate things.</p> <h3>4. Remember That Life Is Long</h3> <p>Go overboard? Don't beat yourself up over slip-ups. Our lives are the result of several decisions and habits that take place over years and years. Vow to do better next time.</p> <h3>5. Listen to How You Feel</h3> <p>If you <em>are</em> complaining constantly about your weight, or your budget, or something else, don't just keep complaining &mdash; take action! Your life will not change if you do not change it. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/for-a-better-relationship-with-money-make-plans">Make a concrete plan</a> for how you're going to improve your life &mdash; one that sets goals and deadlines, but also has some flexibility, so you're more likely to stick to it long-term. Because, well, everything in moderation, right?</p> <p><em>Do you practice moderation? What are your favorite techniques? Share in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/finding-balance-how-to-practice-moderation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-spending-fast-in-16-easy-steps">How to Do a Spending Fast in 16 (Easy!) Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-ways-to-make-a-big-financial-change">21 Ways to Make a Big Financial Change</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/30-free-ways-to-cheer-yourself-up">30 Free Ways to Cheer Yourself Up</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-one-favorite-frugal-living-tip">My One Favorite Frugal Living Tip</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-guarantees-besides-death-and-taxes">4 Guarantees Besides Death and Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Personal Development balance dieting spending freeze treating yourself Fri, 29 Jun 2012 10:36:08 +0000 Meg Favreau 936945 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Do a Spending Fast in 16 (Easy!) Steps http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-spending-fast-in-16-easy-steps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-do-a-spending-fast-in-16-easy-steps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5209988804_157d4c108c_z.jpg" alt="woman hiding her face" title="woman hiding her face" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A spending fast (also known as a spending freeze or a spending lock-down) is a method of getting out of debt through the elimination of all &quot;non-need&quot; spending.</p> <p>By doing a spending fast, I was able to substantially improve my financial life by paying off $23,605.10 in debt in a matter of 15 months! Now I am able to live a debt-free and autonomous life, one where my goals take priority and the debt doesn't. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-not-be-a-debt-slave">How to Not Be a Debt Slave</a>)</p> <p>Before deciding to do a spending fast there are a few factors to consider; these are all elements that will affect how quickly you are able to become debt-free.</p> <p><strong>Factors That Will Affect Your Spending Fast</strong></p> <ul> <li>The total amount of debt you have</li> <li>Your income</li> <li>How much spending you decide to cut out</li> <li>The duration of time you chose for your spending fast&nbsp;</li> <li>How much money you can make by selling your unused possessions</li> <li>What you chose to do to generate additional income&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>My life completely changed when I finally decided that I <em>had</em> to be done with my debt. The cycle of debt and remorse needed to end once and for all. Life is better on this side &mdash; the debt-free side. So, if you want to get out of debt and change your life by doing a spending fast, this is how it's done.</p> <h3>1. List Your Debts and Their Interest Rates</h3> <p>Make a list of all your bills. Write the highest-interest rate bill at the top of the list and the lowest interest rate bill at the bottom of the list. This will determine the order in which you will eliminate each bill.</p> <h3>2. Ask Your Creditors for Lower Interest Rates</h3> <p>Some credit card companies will actually lower your interest rate, so it's worth a shot to call them and ask.</p> <h3>3. Picture the Life You Dream of Living</h3> <p>Determine your priorities by putting actual pen to paper and by writing down your ideal life. What would you be doing if you didn't have to work for a living? How would you spend your time, and when are you the most happy?</p> <h3>4. Ask Yourself, &quot;Is There Any Way That I Can Reach My Goals With the Debt I Have?&quot;</h3> <p>If the answer is &quot;no&quot; and you don't feel good about it, then it's time to start thinking about making some serious life changes. If you find yourself making decisions about things to do (or not do) things based on how much debt you owe, be very honest with yourself. Does your debt prevent you from living a life that is true to you? Does your debt (and your obligation to it) pull you and angle your decisions in even the subtlest ways?</p> <h3>5. Decide to Be Done With Debt Once and for All</h3> <p>If you're not ready to be done with your debt, then you might want to try some other methods first. The spending fast technique requires commitment and dedication. A spending fast&nbsp;is a way to get extreme results in a relatively short amount of time, but you have to be ready to go forward full-force with it.&nbsp;</p> <h3>6. If You're Partnered, Try to Get Them to Do the Spending Fast With You</h3> <p>It's a lot easier to change your life if your partner is on board but, if they aren't, then consider doing the spending fast solo (separate bank accounts are very helpful here).&nbsp;</p> <h3>7. Set a Time-Frame for Your Spending Fast</h3> <p>I recommend a year, so you can get past the difficult beginning part (where all your habits are getting changed) and into the real benefits part (where your debt is getting paid off).</p> <h3>8. Make a Public Declaration of Your Desire to Become Debt-Free</h3> <p>Tell your friends and family about your decision to do a spending fast so you can have the accountability that comes along with it. In addition to telling your family and friends, you can take a <a href="http://www.andthenshesaved.com/get-out-of-debt-pledge/">Debt-Free Life Pledge</a>&nbsp;on my spending-fast site.</p> <h3>9. Create a &quot;Wants and Needs&quot; List</h3> <p>The &quot;wants and needs&quot; list will serve as the backbone of your spending fast. On the &quot;needs&quot; list include the bare necessities needed to live: rent, food, utilities, etc. On the &quot;wants&quot; list, put everything that is an &quot;extra&quot; in your life. Things that went on this side of the list for me were items like clothes, coffee at coffee shops, movies in the theater, gifts, bed linens, new music, new make-up, shoes, etc. (Here is my original <a href="http://www.andthenshesaved.com/spendingfastguidelines/">spending fast wants and needs list</a>&nbsp;if you're interested in seeing it.)&nbsp;The &quot;wants and needs&quot; list can (and will) be different based on each person's varying priorities in life.</p> <h3>10. Spend Money on the &quot;Needs&quot; Side of the List Only</h3> <p>This is the simple-but-not-easy part of the spending fast.</p> <h3>11. Think About What You <em>Can</em> Buy Rather Than What You Can't</h3> <p>If find yourself starting to feel bummed out when you're in the thick of the spending fast, try to shift your perspective, because it will do wonders for your morale. Remember to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-cheap-fun-things-to-do-this-weekend">keep having fun</a> (just the free kind). Remember that the spending fast isn't forever. There is a light at the end of the tunnel (that's why you set a time-frame at the start), and remind yourself of why you're doing the spending fast in the first place &mdash; it's to get out of debt once-and-for-all and to change your life!</p> <h3>12. Become Immersed in a Community of Like-Minded People</h3> <p>On my spending-fast website, <a href="http://www.andthenshesaved.com/">And Then She Saved</a>, I've started a <a href="http://www.andthenshesaved.com/community">community page</a>&nbsp;where people share their questions, struggles, accomplishments, set-backs, tips, tricks, and most importantly, their getting-out-of-debt successes. It's a great place to get a reminder that we aren't alone in our dreams to live debt-free lives.</p> <h3>13. Attack Your Debts</h3> <p>At the end of the month, send all the money that is left in your account to the bill that has the highest interest rate. Continue to send the minimum due on your other bills. Once a bill gets knocked out, be proud of yourself! You're really doing it! Then, attack the next highest interest rate bill on the list. Become competitive with yourself; try to get better numbers than the previous month and&nbsp;keep track of your savings from month-to-month. To be able to see all of the savings at the end of the year is amazing.</p> <h3>14. Be Committed to the Process</h3> <p>It's unrealistic to think that &quot;mistakes&quot; won't happen so keep going even when they (inevitably) occur.&nbsp;</p> <h3>15. Continue With the Spending Fast Until You Reach Your End Date</h3> <p>Stick with the spending fast for the entire time-frame you committed yourself to. If you reach your goal of paying off your debt and you happen to do it before your predetermined end date (um, awesome!), then why not keep going? Squirrel away the extra money and prepare yourself for the next step &mdash; financial security.</p> <h3>16. Be Proud of Yourself for What You Accomplished &mdash; Big or Small&nbsp;</h3> <p>When you come to the end of your spending fast, look back on all you were able to do. Being proactive and being willing to take charge of your life and finances is definitely something to be proud of!</p> <p>Throughout the spending fast, always be on the look-out for ways to cut the &quot;needs&quot; list down even more, get creative with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/37-savings-changes-you-can-make-today">ways to save money</a>, and be willing to make things yourself in an effort to save.</p> <p>Before you know it, saving will become (unbelievably) more fun than spending and your financial life will be forever changed.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anna-newell-jones">Anna Newell Jones</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-spending-fast-in-16-easy-steps">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-budgeting-isnt-fun-youre-doing-it-wrong">If Budgeting Isn&#039;t Fun, You&#039;re Doing It Wrong</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/treat-yourself-like-a-child-to-be-more-grown-up">Treat yourself like a child to be more grown up</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-many-reasons-to-make-do-with-less">The Many Reasons to Make Do with Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-products-you-think-you-need-but-really-don-t">25 Products You Think You Need, but Really Don’t</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-peer-pressure-keeping-you-poor">Is Peer Pressure Keeping You Poor?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Debt Management get out of debt needs spending freeze wants Fri, 04 May 2012 10:36:07 +0000 Anna Newell Jones 926140 at http://www.wisebread.com