Restricted Freedom

As I read the definition of slavery, the words RESTRICTED FREEDOM stuck out to me.  How many of us are living in a form of modern slavery?  We have accepted being broke and in debt as part of a social norm that forces us to have to work 40 plus hour work weeks, in order to pay for a lifestyle, that we cannot afford.  Once we realize that lifestyle doesn’t make us feel happy and fulfilled, it is too late, and we find ourselves drowning in credit card bills and other debts we owe.  By then, hundreds of dollars are going towards interest rates each month and it feels like it is impossible to get ahead.  But, it is not impossible.

I have been following the success stories of many people who have climbed their way out of the hole of debt.  The first step, is to really want to become debt free.  You have to give up all excuses, as to why you spend extra money.  Whether it is going to the store for one thing and leaving with bags of items you didn’t plan on buying or buying something you cannot pay cash for.  If you cannot buy it in cash, then you cannot afford it.  After deciding that you do not want to be in debt anymore, the second step is to create a little emergency fund.  I chose to save up a thousand dollars.  That way, if anything comes up, such as needing new tires, that charge won’t need to be put on the card.  After the emergency found is established, then it is time to attack the debt full force.  I created a budget for myself that still allowed money for saving, fun, food, gas and general spending.  I have to be realistic and not totally deprive myself, otherwise, I won’t last  in the marathon.  I don’t look at my budget as a prison cell to spending, rather a map of where my hard earned dollars will go.  I think the anxiety of having to change my lifestyle was worst than actuality applying in.  Now that I have been living off this budget for the past couple of month, using cash envelopes rather than spending on my debit card, I am finding I have extra money in each envelope when pay day comes around.  It isn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  I have 3 debts that I am working to pay off in the next four years that total $90,000.  A line of credit I have had since 2004!  I added up all the interest I have paid on the $9,000 maxed out limit and it has been over $10,000 dollars!  Time to pay that baby off!  Then I want to pay off my Jeep and student loans.  Once those are paid off, then I can focus on creating a safety net of at least 6 months worth of cost of living.  After that it will be paying off the house.  At that point, I will be completely free of debt and can do whatever I chose with my money and time.  The purpose of all of this, is to be able to use my TIME as I please.  I no longer want to have restricted freedom in my own life and I am the only person that can do something about that.

I hope others will find the motivation and encouragement to create a lifestyle for themselves that will bring the most happiness.  If this is the only chance I have at this thing called life, I want to experience it to the fullest and not be stuck working 40 plus hour work weeks, especially for somebody else!

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Creative Inspiration

I suffered yesterday from a spending hangover.  The night before, my love and I drove out to Seattle for a concert we had tickets to at the Crocodile.  He had purchased the tickets, so I grabbed a little extra cash out of my FUN MONEY ENVELOPE to spoil the both of us.  We got to the venue early and I circled the block three times before deciding to park a few streets down (I refuse to pay for parking, if possible).  We both were starving after working all day and going straight to Seattle and wanted a bite to eat.  We decided on Wasabi for some sushi.  We ordered a couple rolls, he ordered a sake and I ordered a fancy Bourbon drink.17438665_389442951427531_2131147653990318080_n

We were sitting in the bar and our favorite show, Jeopardy came on.  We were enjoying ourselves and before I knew it, I ordered another fancy ginger Bourbon drink.  It was time to head out to go to the show and while my guy was in the bathroom, I grabbed the tab.  $98 starred back at me and I felt a little guilty.  Those drinks I was sucking down were $13 bucks a piece!  I have been pretty good with my frugal journey, and had saved the money for FUN, for times just like this, but it made me realize how easy it is to spend money and how unaware I was of it before.

I read some of, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert last night and a few of the sentences popped out at me.  She wrote, “You can certainly live without debt, because debt will always be the abattoir of creative dreams.”  She went on further to say, “Nobody needs debt less than an artist.  So try to not fall into that trap.  And if you  have already fallen into that trap, try to claw your way out of it by any means necessary, as soon as you can.  Free yourself so that you can live and create more freely, as you were designed by nature to do.”  OMG, I loved this!  It reminded me, why I am doing all of this.  Why am I embarking on a frugal lifestyle?  So that I have the freedom to be more creative!  What may feel like deprivation now, will set me free.  With a lifestyle that has to slave to pay off debt, creative inspiration is absent.

It’s funny, when you are on the right path, there are little signs along the way, that will guide you.

Another Frugal Blogger I Like!

Will the economy collapse if everyone became frugal. Today’s needull looks at this scenario. If there is less stuff that needs to be produced, then people don’t have to work as many hours to create it. That’s perfect, because many people will be dropping out of the workforce much earlier as they finish earning the […]

via What if Everyone Became Frugal? — Needull in a haystack

Bucket List

I have mentioned to a few of my friends now, that I am embarking on a frugal lifestyle.  I’ve made the point, that I am not going to deprive myself of everything, but just to let them know, that I am on a mission right now.  The choice to become debt free, to allow a lifestyle of more freedom in the future, is an independent one.  A solo journey, with choices that are made to support goals.  In a culture that thrives on instant gratification, with services such as UberEats (which I loved in my previous careless spending life), the availability to spend money is easier than ever.  Being frugal though isn’t an impossible mission, it is a creative one.  Figuring out new ways to spend free time, cooking some meals that cost just a few dollars, getting rid of bad habits (hello too many beers on a Friday night); it is finding new ways to enjoy life and do more of what is really important to you.  If getting a manicure every couple weeks brings you happiness, keep doing it.  But, maybe cut out that Starbucks latte on the way to work.  To me, being frugal means having a plan and knowing where my hard earned money is going.  I’m not here to torture myself or make life miserable.  It is all about creating a lifestyle that will allow me to be less stressed and full of adventure.  I’m doing this so I can do the things I really want to do.

That is where my bucket list comes into play.

buck·et list
noun informal
a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.

Some of the items on my list, don’t require a budget.  But, creating a lifestyle that is more laid back or being able to work less may allow more time for me to accomplish some of these goals.  Others will require saving and planning and those are what I want my dollars to go towards.  Lattes every day for a year or a trip to Hawaii- I will take the trip please!  If you haven’t created a bucket list before, I suggest giving it a try.  Write out everything that you can think of, doesn’t matter how crazy the idea is, of things you would like to experience or accomplish in your lifetime.  This can be a great starting point, to start setting some goals.

My Bucket List

  • Travel to Spain
  • Travel to New York
  • Travel to San Diego
  • Be in my best health ever
  • Write a book
  • Have a successful blog
  • Be debt free
  • Take cooking classes
  • Adopt a dog from the shelter
  • Have a side gig
  • Have 6 months of living saved
  • Have over a hundred thousand saved
  • Pay off the house
  • Have a beautiful backyard
  • Have a vegetable and flower garden
  • Take a 6 month sabbatical
  • Travel to Rome
  • Sell items on Etsy
  • Drive the 101 all the way through California
  • Go to Napa Valley
  • Hike through Utah
  • Explore Arizona
  • Go to Texas
  • Own an Airstream
  • Speak Spanish fluently
  • Hike Mailbox
  • Kayak
  • Make natural skincare products
  • Learn how to make candles
  • Make soap
  • Have a cabin next to a river
  • Have a condo in the city
  • Travel to Bali
  • Help others live a better life
  • Sit on a beach and do nothing for a week
  • Go to Alaska
  • Learn more about photography
  • Take writing classes

This list will be ongoing.  I hope to check some of these off my list and as I grow and change as a person, I am sure I will be adding more of what is important to me.

Do you have a bucket list?  What are some of the things you want to do with your time here?  I would love to hear it!  Please comment below.

Before I’m 40

In my earlier twenties I received my first credit card.  As a college student, working full time to pay my way through college, I still didn’t make enough to cover my books and tuition.  I qualified for student loans and took advantage of those as well, adding to the debt I was already creating.  By my last year in college I had close to $40,000 in credit card debt and $60,000 in student loans.  I admit, I wasn’t smart with my credit cards.  I went shopping for clothes, I couldn’t afford at the time.  I went on trips, all on plastic.  I got my hair done, ate out, got gas… everything on the card.  Soon I couldn’t afford the minimum payment, which the interest was causing that to increase at an alarming rate.  I had never been educated on debt and coming from a childhood of having nothing, being able to shop was exciting to me- until I had a breakdown.  I remember sitting on the bed with all of my statements, bawling my eyes out and then deciding it was time to do something about all my debt.  I contacted a credit counseling company and worked out a plan with them.  For a small fee, they reduced my interest on most of my cards, consolidated my payment and for the next 8 years I paid them about a thousand dollars a month until the credit card debt was all gone.  What a great feeling it was, to make that last payment!  I still had my student loans and a line of credit I kept (they allowed me to keep one card), but the $40,000 I had hanging over my head , was gone.

Here I am, ten years later and I still have my line of credit and student loans, plus a Jeep payment.  I think I have been comfortable having a little debt, for it hasn’t bothered me as much, since it has been manageable.  Each month I make the minimum payments and have money left over for saving and spending.  But, just recently, it hit me:  I could have so much more freedom, being debt free!  I could take a job that pays less, but maybe is more fun.  I could travel to the places I say I want to go to.  I could work less.  I can save up, so I can retire early.

By being debt free, I could pay for my future, rather than my past!

This time around, I do not need the help of the credit counseling company.  I know what I need to do and now it is finally time to do it.  Starting with the line of credit, that I have had since my early twenties, I am tackling it full force and paying it off!  Any extra money I have, after bills, savings and my three cash envelopes (food, fun and spending) will go towards that line of credit.  Once that is paid off, I will attack the Jeep balance and then my student loans.  My goal is to be debt free (besides the house, which will be tackled last) by time I am forty, which is in 3.9 years.  The debt totals around $90,000 between the 3, making it about $30,000 a year; which is actually doable on my salary.  If you need help with paying off debt, I found Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps a good place to start:

  • Baby Step 1 – $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
  • Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
  • Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
  • Baby Step 4 – Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
  • Baby Step 5 – College funding for children
  • Baby Step 6 – Pay off home early
  • Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give!

Baby steps is doable for me.  I like to be social sometimes and being totally deprived of life, won’t work for me.  Last night I went out with girlfriends and looked at the menu to find something in my budget.  I went with a cup of tortilla soup, that was $7, compared to the $25 carne asada everyone else got.   I was full after my cup of soup and every else complained of being too stuffed.  Maybe, being on a budget will help with my fitness goals as well!  When one of the girls talked of a weekend getaway, costing about $350 a person, I thought, even though it sounds fun, it doesn’t align with my goals right now.

Deciding to be debt free is a tough decision.  It demands commitment and better choices.  But, I see the freedom that it can give me and the lifestyle I want, so I am going for it!

What ways have you found to pay off debt or become debt free?  I would love to hear it!  Please comment below.

Frugal Foundation

Welcome to Be Simple!

According to the dictionary the definition of frugal is:  “Avoiding unnecessary expenditure either of money or of anything else which is to be used or consumed;  avoiding waste.”

Being frugal doesn’t mean depriving yourself.  Instead, making smarter financial choices is all about prioritizing what is most important to you.  It is creating freedom to do more of what you love, such as traveling or working less to spend time with your family.  Debt is money that you pay in the future, whereas savings is the future already paid for.

Many believe that spending money to acquire material items, will bring them happiness.  I will admit, I love my Jeep.  But, there are other aspects of life, that bring much more happiness:

  • Being healthy and getting exercise
  • Feeling peace with yourself and happiness with your choices
  • Financial security
  • Relationships with friends and family
  • Spending time in nature
  • Creativity and hobbies
  • Having a purpose

These items don’t require spending money.  They are the simple things in life that are available at any point if wanting to pursue them.  Their value doesn’t depreciate after the newness goes away.  Instead, if you continue to nourish them, they continue to bring lasting happiness.

So, where to start?

  1. Start saving some money, even if it is just a little.  Build your savings for an emergency fund or to invest.  This may be hard to imagine if you feel like you are drowning in debt, I have been there.  But, even $5 a paycheck can add up over the year and it is better than not having anything saved at all.  “The rich invest their money and spend what is left.  The poor spend their money and invest what is left.” -Jim Rohn.
  2. Think about what is really important to you and save for it.  To me, being able to go hiking on a sunny day or traveling to a new place, brings me the most happiness.  Not having to work as much in the future, so that I can spend more time doing what I love, is my motivation.  This means paying off debts and saving money.  This also means smarter choices with my money now, so I can have this freedom later.
  3. After some money has been saved, decide where the leftover money is going to go.  I like Dave Ramsey’s envelope system.  Even though this system has been around for a long time, many people do not know how it works.  First I label different envelopes with categories of what I spend money on.  If I have a budget for food of $400 a month, I put $200 cash in the food envelope on payday.  Money from this envelope only goes towards food.  Once it’s gone, I better get creative with recipes, until I put in the next $200 on payday.  If you have money leftover in the envelope you can save it for next month and maybe even splurge a little… hello favorite Red Blend!  Even though it is tempting to take money from other envelopes, you have to stay within the allotted budgets, or reevaluate your budget.  The purpose of the envelopes is to create discipline.  Emergencies do come up and sometimes money from the envelopes must be pooled together, but going to a concert and not having enough money in the FUN envelope for tickets, isn’t an emergency.  #ThingsITellMyself. Envelopes are helpful, but really it is YOU that must control your spending habits.

Frugal living does not have to mean deprivation.  Think of it like dieting.  The person who starves themselves may miserable drink water and eat celery and lose fifteen pounds; later to binge on take out pizza and gain it all back.  Whereas, the person who commits to a healthy lifestyle and diet may lose fifteen pounds over time, be happier and continue to lose weight or be at their best physical shape possible.  Having the feeling of being deprived cannot last.  Yes, there will be times when making a frugal choice, means saying no. It’s making smart choices. It is brewing coffee at home rather than going through the drive-though or having a night of cards and a bottle of wine with friends, rather than going out and spending money at an expensive restaurant.  You can still have fun and enjoy life!

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Some want it all.  Being frugal is choosing what is most important to you.