Things I Learned During My No Spend Clothing Year

Clothing. Oh, how I always loved clothing!

But in the beginning of 2018, I decided that I was going to aim to spend zero dollars on my clothing budget that year. With the exception of one black skirt from Ross, I succeeded.

It was tough at times. But after realizing just how much money I was spending on depreciating items during our debt free journey, I really felt sick to my stomach. I felt like I needed to make some changes to redeem my self going forward.

Clothing was a fairly easy thing for me to give up, simply because I had so much of it. I’m continuing on with my no spend trajectory this year as well. I’m not holding myself quite as hard and fast to this rule as I did last year though.

I learned so much last year. For example:

  • Needs are different than wants. All of the clothing I had accumulated? I wanted it, and didn’t need it. The fashion industry is very good at telling us that we must wear all of the latest trends each season. But in the end I believe this cheats us out of time and money spent on more important things. Is it wrong to look nice or “cute” while wearing clothing? Absolutely not! At the same time, we shouldn’t let the fashion industry dictate where we are spending our money.
  • Consumerism seems to be a never ending cycle, but it can be stopped. When I reassessed my wardrobe, I realized that all of my clothing needs were already met. It made much more sense to start redirecting our money towards items that retain their value. Clothing values drop super fast once they are used.
  • All it takes is a little bit of resourcefulness to style an item in a new and fresh way. Trying to find different ways to wear your clothing is resourceful and fun!

I’m very thankful for this experiment, and going forward, I will spend my money differently when it comes to clothing for myself. For sure, it will be a more thoughtful process. When looking for an item to meet a specific need, it is helpful to shop around to find a quality item that will last more than a month or two.

We Now Own 44.75% of Our Home

After our latest mortgage principal payment, I took a look at our amortization schedule and realized we now officially own 44.75% of our home! I base this figure strictly on our home’s original purchase price, so the percentage is most likely a bit larger in actuality. It is motivating to see this number climb upwards!

While I would love to look at this number from the perspective of what our home is actually worth now, I believe it is better for me to look strictly at this from the original purchase price perspective since it is a better gauge of how far we’ve come. Equity is amazing, but I feel like including it in the total might give me a false sense of security. I don’t want to let off of the gas!

We purchased our home in August 2017 for $255,000. At the time it appraised for $268,000. Also, since then we added an additional 400 square feet of living space to our home by finishing the garage.

Watching this percentage move in our favor is very slow going, but it is also encouraging and rewarding. By the grace of God we paid off the first 16 years of our mortgage schedule in 16 months. The reason we are doing this is freedom! We don’t want to worry about money. (Within reason. A budget is always important!) We want to be a blessing to others, too.

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired – Part 2

Let’s start where we left off in Part 1 of our story. In 2013, our home went under contract quickly, and we were left scrambling for a new home. Where we ended up wasn’t my ideal choice at the time, though my husband loved it. It was an older farmhouse which doubled our living space, and it sat on 12 acres. What we didn’t realize was the huge increase in heating costs it would bring. Our summer electric and gas bill amounted to $800 per month!

We did not have the extra funds to sink into new windows and new heat pumps, amongst other things. Yet we did purchase a new travel trailer and owned fairly new vehicles. We went to Disney World every other year. Priorities, right? We were perfectly normal, and I didn’t believe we could do anything differently.

Near the end of 2016 I came across a mention of Dave Ramsey in a totally unrelated YouTube video, and I decided to purchase The Total Money Makeover. The rest is history. My husband had suggested we learn from his teachings a long time ago, but I told him there was nothing we could do differently so it wasn’t worth our time. How foolish!

After reading The Total Money Makeover, we cash flowed a new heat pump in two months time. I was astonished. How did we do that? We then started knocking out the rest of our van debt, our travel trailer debt, a small credit card, and a personal loan. At that point my husband found a new job five hours away which would really help our cause.

Given our large family and menagerie of animals, we purchased a new home in South Carolina and moved before we put our home in Georgia on the market. Totally not Dave approved, but we didn’t want to separate our family for a time and renting wasn’t a good option for us. Once our home in Georgia sold, we made a profit of around $70,000 after fees. We used $30,000 to pay off the remainder of my student loans, and put $40,000 on the principal of our new home. We purchased it for $255,000 in late 2017. At the time of this writing, we owe $141,397.

Our home is about the same size as the one I purchased in 2004. We did cash flow a garage conversion in 2018 to give us a bit of extra space. It sits on six acres of land. One downfall is it’s distance from my husband’s workplace. Nearly 60 miles! But we’ve made this sacrifice for now as we continue to work on our finances. Frugality has become a way of life for us until we dig ourselves farther out of the hole we are in. We would love to be mortgage free!

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Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired – Part 1

Since I just started this new blog, I thought I would share a bit of my background. Growing up, I was not financially literate. At all. While I knew my mother liked to budget and needs always seemed to be met as a child, I was never taught the nuts and bolts of it. My father did spend some time talking about how to use credit cards, but that was about it.

Young and married at 19, I started racking up credit card debt. I thought credit cards were the means to get where you want to be. I became a widow at age 22, and the cards were paid off using money from survivors benefits.

I learned that being in debt wasn’t ideal, but as a single mom to three young children ages 3, 2, and newborn I found myself back there quick, fast, and in a hurry. I remarried at age 24, and finances started looking up.

Then came the market crash of 2008. Our home that we purchased for $150,000? Now worth half of that. We were stuck in a neighborhood where one evening large booms had us scrambling to our window. Low and behold, a SWAT team was standing in our front yard as a meth lab across the street was raided. Yep, this home was purchased by a very under qualified buyer, like the many who caused the recession in the first place.

Our neighborhood was riddled with foreclosures. At this time I was just thankful my husband hadn’t lost his job. Many people we knew had, including both of our parents. This is when I began my Etsy Store making clothing for little girls. Unbelievably, there was still a market for it.

In 2013, we were finally able to get out of our house. We still owed $100,000, and had a contract on it for $120,000. It only appraised for $115,000, so we had to lower the purchase price. We lost so much money on this house, but it could have been much worse. At the time I was desperate to leave our half-vacant neighborhood and felt like our now six children deserved better. It wouldn’t be long before I realized my entitlement mentality was way out of line as we stepped into a house with a $800 utility bill during the summer!

I will be sharing more of our story soon. In the meantime, please take a look at Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover. It gave me hope and a road map to follow in 2016 when I was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Read Part 2 of our story here.

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$1500 Sent to Our Mortgage Principal

On paydays, I usually slip out of bed super early to pay bills. Strange, I know. But it is so satisfying to see our mortgage balance drop! This week I finally read “The Simple Path to Wealth” by JL Collins. It sure is motivating! It was a very easy investment read and with the exception of some language, I totally recommend it!

I’ve gotten into the habit of budgeting bi-weekly instead of monthly. It just makes sense to us, and I tend to save more money when I break our expenses into smaller chunks.

This week was wonderful since the only needs coming out of my husband’s check was violin lessons, gas, and a few extras. At the moment, I’m covering our food costs with funds from my Etsy shop.

Much more will be taken from the next paycheck, like our utility bills. We are currently using our Health Savings Account to pay for orthodontist payments. I don’t consider these payments as debt, instead I see them as paying for a service as we go.

$141,397 left on our mortgage. I am ready for those $130s!

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Welcome to the Blog!

Hello, and welcome to Finance and Frugality. My name is Nicole, and I’m a 38 year old wife and mama to eight children. I started this page for both accountability and to offer encouragement. Our family began the Dave Ramsey plan in November 2016, and have since lowered our debt burden from $293,000 to $141,397. (We are now working on paying off our mortgage!)

To accomplish this goal, we sold our home and moved to a new state. We have drastically cut our lifestyle in the process. Becoming frugal doesn’t have to be painful. It involves analyzing the things that truly bring value to your life, and concentrating on those.

We still follow most of Dave Ramsey’s principles nowadays, but we also have gleaned wisdom from the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) community. We are always learning, and are now absorbing as much as we can about investing while attacking our mortgage. Finances don’t have to be big and scary. Thank you so much for stopping by!

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton