frugal living tips blog roundup

Welcome to my regular roundup post, giving a brief insight into what happened in my part of the world over the previous month, plus links to my favorite personal finance articles published recently.

Vacation Time!

What a busy (and expensive!) month July has turned out to be!

Firstly I took my very first (frugal) vacation in what must be 5+ years since I decided to get serious about becoming debt free! It certainly wasn’t a “luxury” vacation – we went camping in Jersey – but it was great to take a break, relax in the sun and not worry about all the normal everyday stuff. I also got to drive my car onto a ferry for the first time; quite an experience!

(I should say to my American readers that I mean the “original” Jersey – not “New Jersey”!)

Here are a couple of photos of Jersey – talk about peace and tranquility!

jersey-channel-islands-1 jersey-channel-islands-2

A New Job

In other news I landed myself a new job! I’ve mentioned before how much I hated my previous job but that I was sticking it out for as long as possible because it paid better than any other job I’ve had before. However life there was simply getting worse and worse as our staffing levels kept getting cut while the workload continued to increase.

After talking to my boss about how unhappy I was, and him basically telling me there was nothing he could do, I went home one night and decided to see what else was out there. As it turns out, I found my “perfect” job almost instantly and within the space of a week I had an interview, got offered the job and then resigned from my old job. How quickly things can move sometimes!

There are so many upsides to my new job it’s not even funny. I get to work “normal” hours (no more 4.30am starts!). I get weekends and public holidays off. I’m working in an office doing far less physical work so I should get less tired. I’m working fewer hours than I was before. And they managed to match my old salary!

It feels like a major lifestyle change that I’m so excited about.

The only potential weakness I can see here is that it requires some commuting, unlike my old job which was within walking distance of home. That means that my traveling costs will go up – though I’ve already found all sorts of cuts I can make in my budget. For example my car insurance renewal is due shortly and the quotes I’m getting are far cheaper than last year.

Overall I’m pretty darned excited; I start on Monday so wish me luck :-)

Sadly I’m expecting this to be another expensive month because I’ve just had a load of work done on my car so it’s ready for some serious daily abuse and I’ve also (for the first time in 18 months!) actually gone out and bought some new clothes for my job. I haven’t gone crazy; I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did – but from someone who basically spends nothing on clothes each year it’s still going to make an impact on my budget.

I’m already looking forward to September, when I’m a little settled in my new job and can get the budget back in order.

Best Personal Finance Blog Posts

July hasn’t just been an exciting month in my personal life; there’s also been plenty of good stuff going on in the personal finance bloggosphere. Hayley was kind enough to include me in her “Editors Picks” for the Carnival of Financial Camaraderie – (thanks Hayley :-), my Pinterest followers topped 600 and growing and there were all sorts of top-quality blog posts related to frugality, debt elimination and budgeting.

Here are my favorites that I strongly encourage you to check out…

Lock In and Escaping the Trap

In this rather deep yet educational article, Trent discusses the sticky issue of losing control of your spending when life is going well, only to realize that your financial responsibilities have locked you into a lifestyle you can’t escape from. I wrote along a similar theme here.

10 Essential Personal Money Management Apps

As a tech nerd I love to find new apps to make life easier. Here we find out some of Jason’s favorites. Well worth a look if you’re a smart phone owner keen to get your finances under control.

Breaking Bad Habits: How to Stop Overspending

It’s all too easy to overspend these days with credit cards and loans so easy to come by if we “need” them. But overspending doesn’t just have financial consequences; they can also be behavioral. I love Hayley’s take on the subject and her tips for avoiding overspending.

Saving Tips to Allow You to Live Your Dream

A relatively new blog in my feed reader, Christine is “living the dream” after getting control of her finances, saving up a load of money and then heading off traveling. Here she discusses some simple, proven tips for successful savings. And, if that interests you, you might be interested in my own tips which I wrote about here.

Music for Free Comparing Nine Free (and Legal) Online Music Options

I look around at my local record stores sometimes and wonder how they’re still in business. I mean; who really buys CDs any more? Digital isn’t just easier, it’s also much cheaper. While I love Spotify and iTunes, they do involve spending some money; how refreshing then to find this impartial review of some free music download services worth checking out.

5 Tips to Becoming Wealthy

Somehow every month it seems Derek manages to sneak in to these roundups; it seems that somehow his writing always manages to speak to me. Here he gives some “tough love” on the realities of gaining weath.

What Or Who Do You Rely On To Earn An Income?

When you think about it, many of us rely on a variety of resources in order to actually earn our incomes. For example you might need a car to get to and from work or you might need childcare help if you’re working long hours. Here Mr CBB puts together a thought-provoking list of considerations to keep your earning potential as secure as possible.

Anyone Can Buy That

Blog superstar J. Money writes a blazing post about not getting jealous of people with all the bling. As he says, anyone can buy that stuff if they’re willing to take on debt or makes loads of other compromises. By not buying all that stuff, you get ever closer to freedom. “Freedom from stuff, freedom from your job, and freedom to do whatever the hell you want with your life.” Amen!

How I’m Saving as Much as 13% on Everyday Purchases

What do you do if you win/get given a gift card but you’d rather have the cash? If you’re like many people you’ll try to sell it on eBay, accepting less than the face value of the card. Find out how you can benefit from the process here by buying gift cards at discounted prices, using to pay for your everyday purchases and saving a ton of money as a result.

The Costs of Being Disorganized

Stephanie hits the nail on the head with a powerful post about how being disorganized can cost you money. She gives plenty of examples and tips for getting yourself organized and, as a result, saving money.

We’re Done Christmas Shopping in July

One of the personal finance lessons I’ve learned time and again is about time. Pay your bills late and you’ll likely pay a surcharge. Put something expensive on your credit card because you don’t have the cash right now and you’ll likely end up paying interest on it.

But the reverse is also true; get organized and shop at the right time and you can save a ton. Here’s how Vanessa has saved loads of money this year by getting her Christmas shopping done (very) early :-)

hate your job?

“I hate my job”.

You’d be surprised how often I’ve heard that phrase over the years. I’ve even been known to utter it myself a few times.

When you consider just how long we spend at work and yet how necessary a paid job is for most of us, it’s not hard to see why working at a job you hate can be such a demoralizing situation.

So what should you do when you find yourself in a situation where you hate your job?

Consider Why You Hate It

I must admit that once or twice I’ve changed jobs – only to find that my new role was just as bad (if not worse) than the job I’ve just moved from. After this happened a few times I came to the realization that it’s important to consider wy you hate your job.

Ask many people what they hate about their job and they’ll say “everything”. But on deeper questioning it turns out that’s almost never true. You might hate your boss. You might hate your salary. You might hate the hours that you work or the new role you’ve been given or the increased workload that’s been dumped on you.

But on the flipside you might have a deep affection for your peers, you might love the location of your job and you might get a deep sense of satisfaction from your efforts.

You see, if you want to avoid jumping “out of the frying pan and into the fire” it’s important to spend some time really thinking about what you really hat about your job. Only by truly understanding how you feel can you hope to make lasting, positive change.

The simplest way to do this is to take a piece of paper and a pen. Draw a line down the middle of the page and label the two columns and “love” and “hate”. Then brainstorm everything you can about your job and categorize them appropriately.

Doing so will not only help to highlight all the positives about your job but also it’ll hopfully provide you with some guidance about the areas you need to change.

Examine The Alternatives

After your careful analysis you’ll be in a better place to examine alternative jobs. Whether that’s doing a similar job for a different employer or whether that’s a whole new change of career will depend almost entirely on the results of your analysis.

And remember that you don’t have to jump ship straight away. There are almost certainty things about your current job that you quite enjoy – even if it’s just a work colleague you get on well with – so try focusing your time at work on these positives while you brush up your resume, put the feelers out and keep an eye on upcoming vacancies that may suit you.

Consider Coming Clean With Your Boss

Depending on your boss, it may be worth scheduling a meeting with him or her to discuss your feelings. It may turn out that your boss values your contribution more than you realize and that a little positive encouragement may make you feel a whole lot better.

It’s possible that they may also be able to make some changes to help accommodate your situation. If this is possible then it can be a lot easier than actually going out and finding a new job.

On the flip side they might treat your concerns with contempt. They might belittle you or gloss over the issues without seemingly taking them to heart. In these cases it can be a clear indication that looking for a new job may well be the best possible solution.

Start A Side Hustle

Whether you start a blog, create a product or do some freelance writing, I believe that side hustles are now more important than ever before. Think of them as insurance for your career.

If I crash my car, my auto insurance will repair or replace my car for me; I won’t be carless for long.

Having a side hustle can not only make life more exciting but it can also provide additional funds for you. And if you end up quitting your job – or losing it through no fault of your own – at least you’ll still have some form on income each month.

And let’s not forget that a surprising number of side hustles can actually turn into full-time businesses with enough effort meaning you won’t need to worry about working for someone else ever again.

Bleed It For All It’s Worth

Very few people can get annoyed at their job one day and land a new one the next day. So in all honesty there’s likely to be a transition phase. You may well find yourself treading water at your current employer for some weeks or even months until the right vacancy arises.

If this is the case – and you’ve made the decision to leave as soon as possible – then it makes sense to try and bleed it for all it’s worth. By this I mean trying to extract as much benefit as you possibly can before making your exit.

For example consider requesting a pay raise (if you get declined, who cares?), working plenty of overtime to rack up some extra funds or even cancelling any vacations booked so that you’re owed extra wages when you finally leave.

When I left one of my jobs I was owned so much vacation time that when it came to resigning I told them I could either leave that very same day and use up my outstanding vacation as my notice period or I could work my notice but expected to be paid for the vacation time I was owed. I ended up getting paid for an extra two weeks of vacation time that came in very handy when I left.

Additionally, consider attending any courses or training sessions available as well as taking on extra responsibilities if you think they will make you more employable in the future. Base your decisions on the job vacancies you’re seeing and aim to plug any holes you can at your current employer.

Immediately Cut Unnecessary Expenses

The flip side of getting as much as possible from your current employer is to consider cutting your personal expenses. Combining the two principles will help you save far more money as an emergency fund.

So while I’d caution you against quitting your job without having another to go to, having some extra funds in your account can make quitting far easier and less stressful.

To give you an example, one job that I quit required only a two week notice period instead of the standard month. I told my new employer that I could start in a month (which they were perfectly happy with) and I took two weeks off between jobs to “decompress” and enjoy life.

I started my new job with far more energy and focus than I otherwise would have done and yet thanks to banking money for some time before quitting this two weeks of relaxation had no negative impact on my finances.

Have you ever had a job that you hated? How did you manage to stick it out? What was the final straw that made you quit? Please leave a comment below…

costs of your job

A couple of years ago I found myself getting ever more fed up with my job and eventually realized that it was time for a change.

I spent some time investigating the available options and eventually settled on two different roles that would suit me.

One was the “passion” job – one that I’d love yet didn’t pay very well. The other one was far less “me” yet paid almost twice as much. What to do?

In a perfect world of course we’d all choose the role we’re passionate about and to hell with the finances. Money – as they say – isn’t everything.

But we don’t live in a perfect world and, especially when it comes to jobs, the salary can be a major influence on which role we eventually sign up for.

This is especially so for those of us who are obsessed with personal finance, getting out of debt and building a strong financial future. We know that money is a tool and when appropriately applied can lead to future freedom and stability.

So it should come as no surprise that eventually I put my personal opinions to one side and opted for the better paid position. Regular readers will know exactly how well that worked out ;-)

Surprisingly, based on my feelings about my job a few months ago, things have actually got worse. I kid you not. I won’t go into specifics (right now) but I’m now considering some alternative roles. I won’t jump ship for just anything, but it makes sense to at least see what opportunities are out there right now.

Which brings me (finally!) to the point of this post…

Finances are important. On that we can agree. Nobody wants to get into debt or rely on a credit card to make ends meet. And very few of us could work for free if we wanted to. But looking just at the “dollar” value that an employer is offering you won’t necessarily give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Just because one job is offering $30,000 and another starts at $40,000 doesn’t necessarily mean that the second offer is better – though it may seem so at first.

You see, any kind of job has “costs”. Sometimes they’re financial; other times they’re time costs or emotional costs. But let’s not be under any illusion here – when you work you’re always exchanging your time/energy/skills for money.

It’s a transaction where your employer expects you to provide more benefit to them than they’re paying you for. Don’t believe me? Right now, I’m expected to make the company at least $300 for every hour that I work. And believe me – they pay me a lot less than that per hour.

They have the resources, the contacts and the economies of scale – in exchange I’m expected to make them back many times what they pay me each day. They’re certainly not paying me wages out of the goodness of their hearts.

The point is that when you’re trying to make a decision about a future employer (or even a promotion with your current employer) the money they’re offering you should only form part of your decision-making process.

After considering the “input” (money) we also need to consider your “output” – the costs of actually doing your job. The best job – from a purely Machiavellian perspective – is the one that has the best cost:benefit ratio – or putting it another way, the one that will bring you the greatest “profit” when the costs and benefits are compared.

So what are these factors? What should you be including in your cost:benefit analysis when selecting a new job? Here are some worthy of consideration…

Transport To And From Work

Unless you’re very lucky you’re probably going to have to travel to work. This will cost you money as well as time – as most employers won’t pay you to get to work. You travel to work on your own time and then clock in.

So consider how much time you’re going to spend commuting each day. Will you be travelling in rush hour, where the journey will take longer, or is there some flexibility where travelling off-peak – or working from home some times – will save you money and time.

Also – how are you going to get there? If you’re going by public transport, does your employer have any kind of scheme to reduce the costs here? If you’re driving, try to estimate your fuel costs and also examine the sticky issue of parking. Working in a big town or city, free parking can have a lot of value when compared to people who have to pay exorbitant rates to park in public car parks every day.

And as well as the physical costs consider any emotional costs. Are you happy to sit on a crowded train or in busy traffic five days a week or would this eventually crush your soul?

Work Attire

What are you expected to wear to work? And how does that make you feel? If you’re provided with a uniform, for example, how much do they provide? Some employers provide only minimal uniform forcing you to do laundry far more often than normal (more of your free time gone). And if you are provided with uniform is it comfortable and practical or will you spend your whole life feeling embarrassed, hot and itchy?

If you’re expected to wear a suit and tie every day, don’t forget that business attire can be expensive – not just to buy but also to dry clean. And don’t forget that popping to the dry cleaners is arguably even less practical than being able to pop your work clothes in the washing machine at home.

And let’s not forget how some people feel in business attire. While some people love to be well presented and love to wear a well-tailored suit, others will feel uncomfortable or out-of-place and what about wearing a tie in the heat of the summer?

Perks Of The Job

Every employer claims to offer “perks” – some non-financial benefits of working for them – though the value and range of these can vary massively. For example some supermarkets claim that giving you a couple of items of uniform is a “perk” though this always seems a little cheeky to me.

But what else might you find? Free coffee? Opportunities for continued education? Free nights out? Car pooling? A company car even?

Some of these perks may have real value for you. Others? Not so much.

And remember that while some perks like a company car has the potential to save you a lot of money each year others like professional development may have no immediate financial impact but can make your work more rewarding as well as providing opportunities for growth (and pay raises) in the future.

Equally, appreciate that some “perks” can be quite the opposite depending on your personality. For example I’ve had a number of jobs that gave me a free cell phone – the problem being that the company then expects to be able to contact you at any time – even if you’re on a day off.

Or consider that company car. If you’re planning to stay with the company for a good long time then it may be an excellent perk. But what happens when you leave? You’ll need to buy your own car. Or, alternatively, if you already have your own car you’ll need to decide whether to sell it and use the company car instead or leave it rusting and depreciating in your driveway.


Depending on the industry you’re in there’s a fair chance that you will finish the day feeling emotionally or physically drained. To some people that’s fine. For others that’s an issue and requires considerable time to recover from.

And then of course there are the times spent outside of work but still in some way engaged in work. Maybe that’s answering emails or text messages in the evenings. Maybe that’s finishing off some paperwork at home. Maybe it’s as simple as finding yourself lying in bed each night mulling over the day and planning for the next.

None of these things are “paid” – you clocked off and left work hours ago. But they’re still robbing you of your free time so they should still be considered a “cost”.

I remember some years ago moving from one company to another. The first company basically took over your life and a lot of my days off and evenings were spent answering phone calls or emails. The second company put more emphasis on a fair work:life balance and tried not to contact you when you were off.

The difference between the two companies was amazing – and the feeling of freedom I got with the second employer was surprisingly heady. As soon as I walked out of the door I was free – rather than the previous company where I expected to have my personal time interrupted regularly because it was “the done thing”.

Time Flexibility

What are the things that you really love to do outside of work? For example, are you a keen follower of a specific sports team? If so, do the hours that your new job expects fit around watching the games or will you have to miss some/all of them? How does this make you feel?

I’d argue that missing out on your passions like this has a high cost – and I’d expect a sizable increase in salary to accommodate this when compared to the employer who gives you every weekend off like clockwork.


The aim of this article isn’t to be negative and point out all the bad things about your job. It’s to highlight a range of issues that I’ve experienced over the years that can affect how much you enjoy your job.

Sometimes a lower wage with a better working environment is truly worth it. In other situations a little “discomfort” at work in exchange for a decent pay raise may well be worth it.

I don’t want to scare you off any new job – no matter what the working conditions may be. We’re all different and the job that suits one person may be totally wrong for another.

But the biggest take-home point here is this: when it comes to finding a new job and comparing different employers, the amount of cash they’re offering you should only form part of your decision-making process.

The other part should look analytically at the working conditions so you can make a fair and educated decision about which role will bring you the greatest “profit”. That is to say consider which job offers the biggest salary with the smallest “cost” – though what counts as a “cost” will vary between individuals.

What non-financial elements of your job do you value? What drives you nuts about your current job? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below…


July is the month when all my vegetable-growing efforts start to come to fruition.

Oh sure, I’ve already picked a lot of strawberries by now. I’ve also had a few fresh-from-the-pod peas.

But July is in many ways the “high point” of the vegetable gardening year for me – where all sorts of things start ripen and become overrun (in a good way!) with fresh, homegrown produce.

So, after starting out in April this year, clearing away weeds, planting seeds and planning for the forthcoming season I thought that some readers might be interested to see what I’ve got growing at the moment to give you some idea of what’s possible with a small vegetable garden and very limited time.

Oh yes – don’t go thinking that I’m a hardcore vegetable expert. Nothing could be further from the truth. In total I probably spend around 4 hours a week working on the veggie plot, with my girlfriend checking in just to water an harvest every so often.

So even if you only have just a few hours a week it’s entirely possible for you to save a surprising amount of money (as well as feel a surprising sense of satisfaction) by growing your own vegetables.

What I’m Growing Right Now

Firstly let’s talk about my trusty greenhouse. In here I’ve got some seriously good-looking tomatoes that are growing every day. They’ve still got a while till they’re ripe enough to eat but all the signs are pretty hopeful!


Next my capsicums (sweet peppers) are looking the best ever. Don’t ask me why; here in the UK I normally struggle even with a green house but it seems through a combination of trying a new variety this year (Californian Wonder), getting started early in the season and adding plenty of organic fertilizer we could be in for our best year yet of fresh, juicy peppers.


This is an outside view – showing just the end of the greenhouse in the distance. While it may look a bit of a mess – thanks to the purple sprouting broccoli in the foreground that I’m waiting to collect seeds from – what you can see growing away here in rows are leeks, peas, rainbow chard and mange tout. The peas haven’t been too successful sadly but I’m still harvesting so fingers crossed they’ll continue.

Also note the butternut squashes in the foreground. They’ve been slowly establishing themselves and are now just entering “growth spurt” phase!

peas & beans

Next up comes one of my trusty courgette (zucchini) plants which are just starting to go wild. Normally I’m so excited to get the first few off the plant but by the end of the summer I’m sick of death of them ;-)


I’m growing two kinds of sweet corn this year. I’ve gone for both “standard” corn and also my old favorite the baby corn. All of it is doing really well and seems to be twice the size of most other people’s right now. I hope to be picking corn by the end of the month though of course it’s pretty weather dependent. Also, note the tomatoes in the foreground which are doing almost as well as the ones in the greenhouse.


I’ve got brassicas on the go too. This year I’m doing calabrese (broccoli) which has tiny little heads on and we should be harvesting in the next few weeks. There’s also purple sprouting broccoli in readiness for next spring, savoy cabbages and purple cabbages for a late summer/early winter treat.

The bugs tend to eat my brassicas to shreds during the summer – hence the reason for the “cage” to keep them safe. So far, so good…


Here’s a snap of my little strawberry patch. You can’t tell from the photo but I’ve got four different varieties there that produce fruit from June almost through to Christmas.

strawberry plants

I’m a big fan of beans so this year I’m trying pole beans for the first time ever. The plant in the photo is still a youngster – in the last couple of days since I took this picture it’s shot up and is over a metre in height now with plenty of flowers coming. I’ve got a row of about 10 plants going so I have a nasty feeling I could have overdone it on the bean front this year!

pole beans

Alongside this we’ve got melons, red onions, broad (fava) beans, beetroot and a few other bits and pieces on the go.

So there you have it – an investment of a few hours a week in exchange for a bounty of fresh, money-saving vegetables.

Do you grow any of your own vegetables? How far along are yours in comparison to ours? Leave a comment below…

frugal living tips - July 2014

Welcome to my monthly roundup post where I reveal the personal finance articles that have really spoken to me over the last 30 days.

Not surprisingly the blogosphere hasn’t let us down and I’ve got some great links for you to check out in just a few minutes.

However before we get to that, what’s been happening in my neck of the woods recently?

First things first you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that as a personal finance blogger I spend a decent amount of time at the end of each month going through my finances. I like to dive deep into my online bank statements to ensure that my budget is still performing as it should (it is), that my income is what it should be and that all my various bills have been paid.

You see, most of my bills go out automatically; so I just like to check that they’ve actually gone out successfully. But a couple – like my rent – I pay manually each month.

At the beginning of June I was in a bit more of a hurry than normal so after checking all my figures I sent the bank-to-bank transfer of funds for my rent and thought no more about it. Until later that day, when I had a sudden realization that maybe I clicked the wrong button…

Logging in again I realized the terrible news; I’d paid my rent money to the wrong person. Infact, I’d accidentally paid it to the tax man (HMRC here in the UK) who are set up as a payee thanks to my annual tax return!


Even worse, logging into my online tax account I noticed no mention of this payment – meaning it had seemingly “vanished“. I’d definately paid it but it seems the tax man had no record of the payment. Worse, when I spoke to an advisor they said it could take 3 weeks to show up in my account.

So I waited. And waited. And after a full 3 weeks of waiting there was still no sign of the payment. So now I’m chasing the issue in writing to get it resolved. Hopefully they’ll manage to track down the payment and either apply it to my account or refund it (I don’t mind either way).

But I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t properly check the transfer before clicking the submit button. A couple of seconds of not paying enough attention has caused weeks of annoyance and chasing!

I’ll keep you posted on exactly what happens next! The only silver lining here is that this hasn’t caused the financial upset it would have done a few years ago. It wasn’t too long ago that transferring a sizeable sum of money to the wrong person would have financially crippled me for the rest of the month.

These days – thanks to our good old friend “the emergency fund” – I still paid my rent without any discomfort. And I’m looking at the accident as simply a “loan” to the tax man that I expect to get back – and then safely stash away in my emergency fund again. So it’s not all bad.

In other news I finally have a weeks vacation starting today and the weather is looking great! I’m looking forward to finally getting enough sleep, to catching up with my vegetable garden (which is looking amazing right now!) and spending some quality time with the girlfriend.

With that said and done let’s jump into the links that I promised you’ I hope you enjoy them as much as I did :-)

How to Save Money by Planning Ahead

I’ve always felt that time and money are intrinsicly linked. The less time you have, the more tempting it is to buy “convenience” goods that cost more. The more time you have, the easer it is to shop around, find a bargain and save money. Now it seems that Laurie is in agreement! Here she outlines the magic of planning ahead when it comes to saving money.

What Is It Going To Take? Srsly!

Jacob’s thought-provoking post outlines the odd way in which becoming financially free is such a simple process, yet one that so many people struggle with. If it’s so easy, why do people fail? Here he examines some of the reasons and provides a gamut of inspiration to get you started on the path to financial success.

Is It Harder For Parents to Achieve Financial Independence?

This discussion post examines the concept of financial independence from the perspective of parenting. Are you a parent? Do you long for financial freedom? If so this article might be right up your alley.

50+ Money Saving Tips From Some of The Best Personal Finance Bloggers Today

This monster money-saving post outlines a huge range of tips from some of the smartest personal finance experts around. If you want to live a more frugal lifestyle and save more money each month then this is definitely a post you’ll want to bookmark and refer back to in the future.

Act Your Wage

It’s human nature that we sometimes feel “entitled” to nice things when we’ve worked our butt off. But Derek argues this can be a serious mistake and lead to financial issues – even for top earners. If you’re struggling to keep your spending under control you’ll find plenty of advice and tips on curbing the problem of lifestyle inflation here.

Give Yourself the Gift of Not Worrying About Money

Personal finance bloggers like me probably obssess more about money than most people. Having said that I’d argue we obssess in a “good way” – working out how to save money, pay off debt and get ahead financially. But even that might not be healthy. In this fascinating post, Mr MM discusses how to stop worrying about money once and for all (though you’ll need to put some legwork in first).

Are You a Prisoner of This Money Mistake?

Laurie’s second entry into my “best of” roundup this month must be a sign :-) It seems time and again that The Frugal Farmer hits the nail on the head for me. Here she discusses the importance of not getting sucked into marketing hype and how you don’t really need that designer item to feel good about yourself.

Hypermiling: The Complete Guide to Saving Gas

As regular readers will know, I became a car owner for the first time ever last year. As any car driver will tell you they can be quite a “budget buster” if you’re not careful. So here are some super-handy hints on how to get the most mileage out of a tank of gas possible.

Wonder How Some People are Always on Top of Daily Deals? Heres Their Secret

Coupons. We know they work and we all love to save money. But sometimes trying to keep up with the very latest deals can seem next to impossible. Fortunately Kate has the answer as she outlines some of the best deal aggregators that bring together all sorts of promotions and coupons to help you get the best deal possible without needing to shop around.

How did your month go? Any notable wins or failures on the personal finance front? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below…

what does the average person spend their money on?

When it comes to reducing your living expenses there’s a whole world of advice out there from how to re-purpose your household trash as craft materials to budget-friendly cleaning tips.

But for too long this form of frugality has worried me.

After all, how much do I really spend on cleaning equipment or lampshades? Answer: not a lot.

So my savings, from following this often well-meaning advice, will be minimal. That’s not to say that this type of advice doesn’t have a place. After all, these tips will save you money. And for many people they’re as much about reducing waste as they are saving money.

But if you want to significantly reduce your expenses to the point that you can rapidly pay off your debt, build up your savings and become more financially stable we need to look to the big expenses.

Because cutting 20% off our major monthly expenses will have a far greater impact than using a bottle of vinegar to clean your windows.

So, what are these major expenses? Where does the average person spend most of their money?

The Biggest Expenses

I went searching for some concrete statistics to tell us how the average person spends their money; I wanted to know what the biggest typical expenses are so that we can look at immediately tackling these and making a significant impact in our financial lives.

As it turns out there are all sorts of figures available on typical living expenses if you look hard enough.

So what do they tell us? Here’s a breakdown for the “typical” American and Brit…

  • Brits spend 31% of their income on housing
  • Brits spend 13% of their income on transport
  • Brits spend 11% of their income on groceries
  • Americans spend 34% of their income on housing
  • Americans spend 15% of their income on transport
  • Americans spend 13% of their income on groceries

While most of you visiting this blog are based in the States, as a Brit I also couldn’t help sneaking a look at how these figures compare to the UK.

As it turns out the figures are surprisingly similar.

On both sides of the pond our largest living expenses are housing, transportation and food. Lampshades are, not surprisingly, missing from the “big three”.

The Implications For A More Frugal Lifestyle

If you want to significantly cut your monthly expenses it makes sense to go after the “big wins” – namely housing, transport and groceries.

How To Reduce Your Housing Expenses

How To Reduce Your Transportation Costs

  • Move closer to where you work
  • Walk, cycle or lift-share more
  • Buy a smaller but more fuel-efficient car
  • Be satisfied with an older but acceptable car

How To Reduce The Cost Of Food

Arguably, these 12 simple steps can do more to reduce your monthly expenses than anything else.

So focus on the big things right now to make an immediate and sizable impact on your living expenses.

Then after you’ve done this you can make as many lampshades as your heart desires.

What do you think: do these figures surprise you? How do they compare to your own spending habits? What tip has had the biggest impact on reducing your expenses?

get free stuff online

“Sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make”

They say that you get what you pay for, but online that isn’t necessarily true…

When you know where to look, you’ll find that there are dozens of places to get free stuff online – so over the last few weeks we’ve made it our mission to track down the very best that the web has to offer and list all 70+ resources here for you.

What follows, then, is an extensive list of places to get free stuff online. We’d love to hear of any resources we missed out – just leave a comment at the end with your recommendations :-)

Free Music

We’ve all heard of the dangers of file-sharing sites where music is shared freely – though not always legally. Due to the inherent risks involved, we strongly recommend you stick to the more “respectable” suppliers of free music online where you’ll still found thousands of free tracks – without the risk of viruses or wandering into legal hot water.

Amazon may be in business to sell you products, but to attract new customers to their MP3 service, Amazon also offer thousands of free tracks to anyone that wants to download them. In addition both and iTunes list huge numbers of free-to-download MP3s.

Free Books

Sure, libraries are a great way to get your hands on all sorts of free books, but the two downsides are that the selection can be limited (especially if you have some specialist interests) and of course you have to give the books back at the end.

That said, there are a number of websites focused on helping bookworms to get free stuff online without having to break the bank.

Amazon Kindle

You don’t need to buy a Kindle to be able to download Kindle ebooks. You can simply download the Kindle app for your computer or smart phone and get downloading straight away. The free titles on Kindle change all the time so it’s worth bookmarking their free ebook listings so can can revisit on a regular basis.


The purpose of Booksneeze is to allow authors and publishers to gain additional visibility by encouraging bloggers and website owners to review titles online. You simply register for the site and decide which book(s) you’d like to receive. Soon enough they’ll arrive in the mail where you can review them on your site and you get to keep the books afterward.

Note that it goes without saying that you’ll need your own site to use this source of free stuff online and the larger your readership the more opportunities you’ll be offered. That said, as someone who has tried out the service myself, I can confirm that they’re a great source of free books.

Bookswapping Sites

The idea behind book swapping is simple; they’re a “trading post” for people with books they longer want. Simply put, it enables you to list your unwanted books and in exchange receive books from other community members. In other words you can leverage any existing books that you have into a never-ending library of new titles just by signing up to these free services.

Some of the most popular examples of book swapping sites include Paperback Swap, Books Free Swap, Book Mooch, Title Trader, Book Crossing and Read It Swap It.

Cashback Sites

If you shop online regularly, cashback websites will allow you to buy exactly what you normally would – but earn extra bonuses along the way in the form of cash, Amazon gift cards and so on. Your shopping won’t cost you any more than you’d have spent anyway, so why not make use of them?

Examples of popular rebate/cashback sites include Top Cashback, Quidco, rPoints, eBates, MyPoints and MrRebates.


Welcome to the so-called “freeconomy” where community-minded individuals freely give away products they no longer want or need. It’s a great way to find new furniture, upgrade your garden or start a new hobby – in other words free stuff online for nothing but the travel costs of going to pick the objects up.

Many of these are location-based services, so take the time to find groups local to you, where you’ll receive not only listings of items available but you can also be sure the travel-distances are respectable. Some of the most popular examples include Freecycle, Snaffle Up, Efreeko and I Love Freegle.

In addition, try looking on Facebook for local sharing groups, as well as for “free to collect” adverts in shop windows or your local newspaper.

Exchange Sites

Admit it: if you go through your shed, loft or cupboards you’ve got all sorts of things that you don’t use and – if you’re honest – don’t need. So rather than leaving them to rot in the darkness, why not swap them for things you do need and save money along the way., Swap It, Swapz, Care To Trade, Trashbank and Swapace are all fantastic places to list your unwanted clutter and find other things to swap them for.

Online Classifieds

Many popular classified advertising sites also maintain areas where people can offer free stuff online. If possible, set up alerts, so that you don’t need to keep returning to the page in order to see what’s available as many free items move very quickly indeed and you’ll want to be at the front of the queue.

For examples of classified ad sites that have free sections, take a closer look at Craigslist, Gumtree and Friday Ad.

Free Seeds

Just as it’s possible to exchange your unwanted books for titles you haven’t read, it’s also possible to exchange seeds from your garden for new varieties. Check out your local gardening/horticultural society for details of any local seed swaps, or use their online alternatives. Seed Swappers, Dig’N’Swap, VegBlogs, Garden Swapshop and Seed Swaps all offer free seed swapping services.

Free Software

Microsoft may be one of the most valuable companies in the world, but there’s also a growing movement in open source software, designed by passionate programmers purely to further the cause rather than make a copy.

What’s more, much of this software is easily as good as their “premium” alternative. For example consider Inkscape instead of Photoshop, Open Office instead of Microsoft Office or AVG as a free alternative to Norton.

When you add in all the freeware titles, released to try and gain market share for programming companies, the amount of free software available is truly mind-blowing. Sourceforge, Freeware Files, Snap Files and Tucows are all excellent jumping-off points for your journey into the wonderful world of free software.

Heck, even Wikipedia has a list of free software while Giveaway Of The Day gives away one premium application per day – but for free.

Free Events

From fitness groups to dogs walks, scientific lectures to book groups, there are huge numbers of free events going on all the time. Try checking your local newspaper, library and university for listings of free local events, or use Meetup to quickly find loads more activities in your area.

Clothes Swapping

Swapping your unwanted clothes can be a free way to fill your wardrobe with new garments – without the standard price-tag. While there are some locally-based clothes swapping events, log onto one of the specialist swapping sites for the best selection of free stuff online.

Simply list your (good quality) items on these swapping sites, and open up a whole new (free) world of fashion. Some great places to start your clothes swapping include Swap Style, Rehash Clothes and Swap Treasures.

Free Sites

While you may need to carefully pick and choose the offers you take up, dozens of sites exist purely to help their visitors find free goods such as product samples, special offers and downloadable goodies. Some of the most reputable free sites include Totally Free Stuff, Free Stuff Times, Magic Freebies and The Free Site.

Win Free Stuff Online

Companies both big and small are constantly running contests and competitions as a way to boost their marketing efforts and increase awareness of their products. And while entering competitions certainly doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive free stuff online, we’ve ended up winning all sorts of stuff over the last few years including cash, two camcorders, USB memory sticks, t-shirts, business consulting and more.

Some of the better places to find extensive listings of free contests and competitions include Sweepstakes Today, Contest Girl, Win Prizes Online, Contest Alley and Contest House.

For bloggers with an active community, there are also a number of special “blogger contests” in existence, designed to increase traffic to the originating site. Blog Contests and My Blog Contest are both great places to find out about the latest opportunities.

Mystery Shopping & Focus Groups

Companies want to hear what you think about their products; and they’re willing to pay for your opinions either in cash or in terms of free products to try. Be aware that there are a range of “mystery shopper” scams around so try to stick to the more reputable companies for security.

None of these marketing firms should ask you to part with cash before taking part in their opportunities, though many will ask you for detailed information about yourself to help them target specific demographic groups.

For up-to-date opportunities, take a look at BzzAgent, Mum Panel, Tesco Home Panels, Focus Groups and Super Savvy Me for product review opportunities. About Face and Secret Shopper are examples of companies offering mystery shopping opportunities where you may get to keep whatever you buy depending on the task required.

Free Holiday Accommodation

Thought that vacations had to be expensive? Then think again! All round the world, thousands of people are willing to provide you with free accommodation – either in exchange for a few hours work each day or simply for the fun of meeting new people.

Take a look at Couch Surfing, Global Freeloaders, Hospitality Club, Belodged and Help X for vacancies in the area you desire.

If you own your home rather than renting it, you can increase your options even further by taking part in home exchanges such as that run by U Exchange.

Complain Or Flatter

When something goes wrong, it’s all to easy to just ignore it. To simply throw that faulty product away and/or decide you’ll never use that company again. But these companies want your business – and they’re often willing to bribe you to stay loyal.

You’d be surprised how the simple act of writing a letter or an email to the customer service department of a company can not only make you feel a lot better, but can also result in refunds, vouchers or free gifts by way of apology. So while you shouldn’t take liberties just to get free stuff online, when something happens that you’re not happy about, use a website like this to find the contact details of the company in question and let them know about your experiences.

The opposite can equally get you results. When you’ve been thrilled by a product, or by the service you have received from a company, why not write and tell them what a great job they’re doing? Positive feedback is nice to give, and a surprising number of people end up with freebies as a way to thank you for your custom.

So what resources did we miss? Leave a comment with your favorite sources of free stuff online…


how to reduce food waste

Did you know that roughly a third of all the food we buy ends up in the bin? For the frugal-minded among us, let alone those who care about the environment, that seems like a massive waste.

By learning how to reduce the food waste from your own home you’ll not only manage to significantly reduce your overall grocery budget but you’ll also avoid wasting precious resources on food miles, carbon emmissions and more only to throw the end product in the trash.

Luckily my partner loathes waste and so over the last few years we’ve experimented with one concept after another. Now we barely throw a thing away and today I’d like to tell you the most effective strategies we’ve found to accomplish this…

Make A Meal Plan

It’s too easy to go to the supermarket and stock up on whatever your heart desires or whatever is on special offer that week. But unfortunately this can often lead to either buying higher volumes of fresh food than you’ll use, or ending up with some “odds and ends” that don’t really work with your regular meals so end up sitting there going rotten.

Creating a weekly meal planner can be a great way to avoid this. By pre-planning your meals and buying only the fresh ingredients you need for these meals you’ll avoid the “odds and ends” problem and ensure everything you buy gets used up in a short space of time.

Create A Food List

Once every month or so, we go through our food cupboards and check the “use by” dates on any jars, cans, packets and so on. We do this to ensure that nothing gets “missed” in a busy daily lives and if necessary we factor this into next weeks meal plan.

Another useful strategy that we’ve employed as an extension to this idea is to create a “short dated” cupboard into which we put anything going out of date in the next month. Before making our meal planner – and before cooking anything ad hoc – we start by referring to this cupboard to see what we can use up. Doing this ensures you never have that nasty epxerience of finding something weeks or months out-of-date in your cupboard.

Use A Calendar

Placing a wall planner or calendar in your kitchen can be a great way to maintain control of your refridgerator. With all the various fruits and vegetables, not to mention milk, cream, cheese and so on your fridge is one of the most likely sources of short-dated products and hence food waste.

When we shop, we simply add the “use by” dates of our perishable goods to a calendar. As we use up our groceries the products are crossed off the list and so we can see in a moment what needs using up soon – and in what order.

Learn To Store Food Properly

Bananas shouldn’t be stored in the fridge. Lettuce and scallions last longer left in a glass of water rather than your salad crisper. Root vegetables can be stored in an unheated shed or garage for months. And so on. Learn how to properly store your food to extend it’s usable life and reduce the pressure on you to use it before it goes off.

Buy Canned, Frozen Or Dried

Perishable goods are the greatest risk to your budget so consider buying canned or frozen alternatives. They usually offer just as much nutrition but have a far longer shelf life so are easier to handle.

Moreso, remember that the freezer can be your friend when it comes to products like meat. Rather than letting it go out of date or forcing yourself to cook it when you don’t have time, instead simply throw it in the freezer before the use-by date. Upon thawing, you’ll have 24 hours to use it.

As meat is so expensive to buy, a very frugal tip is to learn when your local supermarket does it’s reductions, visit at that time to stock up on short-dated and cut-price meat and then pop it in your freezer for future use.

Grow Your Own

When you grow your own food you have greater control over when you harvest it and how much you pick. Many salads, for example, can be picked as and when you need it. A few tomato plants will provide fruit for weeks on end. Cabbages and other brassicas can be picked over a long season. Sweet corn straight off the plant tastes amazing. In this way you can select only the ingredients that you need.

Learn How To Preserve Food

Not all home-grown food can be picked at your leisure. Strawberries and other soft fruit, sweetcorn and some others need to be picked at specific times often leading to “gluts” of certain foods. Even the supermarkets will normally have special offers on these products at harvest time to move as much inventory as possible.

So whether you grow your own or buy your fruit and vegetables from a retailer, it’s a good idea to learn how to preserve food. Whether that’s pickling, canning, or drying, learning how to preserve food will let you take advantage of seasonal changes to food availability and pricing, and spread out these savings over the forthcoming months.

Use Leftovers

One final tip worth mentioning is to learn how to cook – and to also learn how to use the less popular parts of food. For example did you know that you can eat the leaves of carrots and beetroot in a salad? They’re delicious!

So one final way to save money on your grocery bill and throw less food away is to simply learn how to use as much of what you buy as possible. Before you throw away those odds and ends, consult the internet or a good cookery book to figure out if and how they can be used.

How have you reduced your food wastage and – as a result – your grocery bill? Please leave your best tips in the comments area below…

sissinghurst bench

So here we are a few days later than usual with last month’s roundup of happenings – both personal and also in the wider personal finance world.

Last month I had two potential “budget busting” situations that caused me some issues…

Power Steering Leak

Firstly the power steering in my car decided to spring a spectacular leak and empty power steering fluid all over the drive. Despite a topup, my steering fluid would be empty by the end of any modest journey.

This caused all sorts of issues. Firstly there was the mess left under my car wherever I parked. Secondly there was the embarrassing “drip” left as I drove down the road. And of course it also made it feel like I was trying to steer an articulated lorry rather than my trusty little car.

What to do?

A quick visit to my local garage revealed some pretty bad news. Apparently the previous owner had used the wrong steering fluid and as a result the seals had perished. I’d be needing a whole new set of seals – and possibly even a steering rack – a job that would cost more than the entire car did last summer.

Not good.

As it’s my first car – and a pretty old one at that – I always knew it wouldn’t go on forever. But equally I didn’t want to scrap it quite so soon.

lucas power steering stop leak Fortunately while surfing the internet looking for solutions I came across Lucas Power Steering Stop Leak - which promised to rejuvenate the seals of a power steering unit and fix leaks instantly. Having nothing to lose I bought a bottle from Amazon and tried it out.

Now – this isn’t pleasant stuff. It’s thick and gloopy and looks like brown hair gel. The bottle promised an instant improvement though so after filling up my steering reservoir with it I went off for a drive.

It was like driving a different car! From holding onto the steering wheel firmly with both hands when going round tight bends suddenly I could steer with one finger – and the leak stopped entirely!

To date – some 3 weeks later – my steering is still performing perfectly! You could say I’m a pretty happy camper saving saved many hundreds of dollars on the possible alternatives!

Fixing A Noisy Toilet

The second issue we had was that our toilet started to make a dreadful noise every time it was flushed. I deep booming, moaning noise that lasted the whole length of the flush and was not only annoying – but also starting to worry me that the neighbours coul here it.

Now here in the UK at least, plumbers charge vast amounts of money. So if could fix it myself I was darn well going to give it a try! As it turns out (after carrying out some diagnostic tests I found online) the problem was a worn water inlet valve. I also discovered that it was possible to buy and replace the unit yourself.

Now, I’m no DIY expert (though every time we go on a foreign holiday our hotel room toilet always seems to break and I end up fixing it!) but I thought I’d give it a go. I invested in a replacement and spent an afternoon sweating, panting, swearing and – at one point – giving myself a blister.

I’ll admit – it wasn’t a fun job and part way through I was starting to regret the confidence I had had in my limited DIY abilities!

But – the important point is we succeeded! The toilet got repaired and the flush is now almost silent. No more worries over the neighbours – or flushing late at night when I get home from work and my girlfriend is fast asleep. And goodness knows how much money we managed to save thanks to a little “elbow grease”.

So all in all, not only did I learn a few new skills last month but by investing (at most) half a day we saved hundreds of dollars on what it could have cost to resolve these two issues. Happy days :-)

We even made the most of the sunshine and visited Sissinghurst where I found this rather impressive garden bench!

sissinghurst bench

So what else went on last month? Well while the personal finance bloggosphere seemed a little quieter than usual (spring weather?) there were still some gems that I wanted to direct your attention to.

The Single Most Important Financial Skill

I’ve said it time and again; the biggest obstacle to gaining control over your finances and finally getting out of debt is… yourself! In this thought-provoking article, the experts over at The Simple Dollar really hit the nail on the head, examining this key issue and revealing some useful tricks for gaining psychological control over your spending.

Dreaming of Our Future Budget

Are you in debt? Have you paid off your debt? Because your budget while you’re knuckling down and paying off debt – in comparison to your budget afterwards – can often look entirely different.

Personally, I tried to keep my budget under control – and switched the money I was spending on debt repayments to money going into savings instead. But all the same there’s a feeling of having a little “breathing room”.

In this interesting post, Catherine considers their budget post-debt and dreams of all the possibilities.

Debt Success Stories: Richard Paid Off $40,000 In Debt

Incase you didn’t see this articl when I shared it on Facbook or Twitter, I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Hayley over at Disease Called Debt earlier on this month.

She asked some pretty searching questions about my debt situation a few years ago – and how I’ve managed to become debt free. If you’d like to learn more about my own personal finance journey, Hayley’s interview is a great place to start.

Is This Where You Can Cut The Most The Quickest?

Getting your spending under control is essential if you’re going to become financially independent. But too many people focus on the “smaller” expenses rather than the real biggies. This article examines some of the elements that can have the biggest impact on your expenses – so you can start saving money sooner rather than later.

Why We Love Our Minimalist Lifestyle

The ever-inspiring Cash Cow Couple discuss their minimizalist lifestyle in depth. In many ways I see minimalism and frugality and a perfect partnership – both feeding off each other and supporting your overall goal. If your finances could do with a detox then this article might be just the inspiration you need.

How We Became Mortgage Free In Five Years

Imagine what becomng mortgage-free could do for your monthly budget. Just consider the cost of your rent or mortgage going up in smoke. For many people, such a situation would free up 30%+ of your money each month opening up all sorts of other possibilities for you.

And it’s not an impossible dream, as the team over at Canadian Budget Binder reveal. Find out exactly how they did it – and you too could soon be on the path to financial freedom.

How To Not Worry About Money Ever Again (And Its Not What You Think!)

As a personal finance blogger I probably spend far too much time thinking, talking, reading and writing about money. I’ll let you decide whether you think that’s healthy or not.

But this article from Jacob served as quite a wake-up call for me. Here he outlines a simple yet effective way to stop worrying about money. I won’t reveal the secret here (it’s a good one) but if you feel you spend too much time budgeting (or worrying) about your finances then this is one article worth clicking over to.

What happened for you in May? Did you manage to save yourself a bunch of money somehow? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below…

get out of debt sooner

Anyone interested in personal finance and achieving financial independence appreciates the importance of getting out of debt. That, at least, we can all agree on. Yet just like getting in shape it’s a lot easier to talk about it than actually act on your goals.

For too many years I would make one of my New Years resolutions to pay off my debt, only to wind up 12 months later in exactly the same position making exactly the same resolution.

Now, finally, I’m virtually at the end of my debt repayment journey and am looking forward to a brighter and more financially sound future I thought it would be interesting to examine the reasons why I didn’t pay off my debt sooner – even though like a thorn in my finger it was a constant source of annoyance and even sleepless nights.

I Wasn’t Earning Much Money

The first problem I encountered was that I left university with debt, and then piled on more in the first few years of work. And when I say “work”, I use the term loosely. I certainly wasn’t one of these graduates that lands a six figure position straight after graduation.

Far from it; jobs were few and far between with all of my university friends struggling for any kind of gainful employment. In many ways, at that time, a degree wasn’t worth a huge amount and many of us – including me – ended up getting jobs we could have landed without three years of student debt.

I ended up working in a shop, a job which paid minimal wages. And while I did “move up” over time and receive pay rises, once I’d paid my living expenses there was never much “fun money” left over to invest in debt repayment.

I Didn’t Want To Compromise

The funny thing was that despite my low wages, I was actually enoying life. I enjoyed my job, I had a fantastic girlfriend, a decent house that we’d got a good deal on and lived in a nice area. I had a social life, hobbies and freedom.

Of course that “freedom” was an illusion. I wasn’t really free at all as the debt continued to accrue interest but after living like a student for years having a little cash each month made me feel like a king.

And that wasn’t something I wanted to compromise on. I didn’t want to give up my motorbike, or my occasional meal out, or slowly replacing my tired old wardrobe.

I’d “gone without” for too many years that this sudden feeling of not having to budget every penny was heady stuff – and I didn’t want to stop spending money just to repay debt that I was more than meeting my obligations on each month.

I Experienced Financial Bumps

Now I seem to be painting a picture of sunny carefree days. And to a large degree they were. But there were also financial hiccups along the way. Issues that cropped up that I hadn’t budgeted for. Heck, let’s be honest, I wasn’t budgeting for anything.

And every time one of these bumps came along, I found myself having to rely on my credit cards or a loan to resolve the issue. This, of course, grew my debt further rather than reducing it.

I Was Intimidated By The Immensity Of The Problem

Within a few years of leaving university and starting to enjoy life as an “adult” my debt had grown markedly. By the time it was touching five figures I could barely be bothered to open my monthly statements.

The figures we were talking about – and the length of time they’d take to pay off – were just too scary to consider. Like someone who is told by their doctor that they need to lose 100 lbs in weight, the task in front of you can seem so gargantuan as to prevent you ever getting started.

How much money would I lose from my disposable income? How would my lifestyle have to change? How many years would I be paying this money back for? It was a problem so huge that I did the only thing I could think of – and ignored it.

All the while, the interest continued to pile up.

I Didn’t Make It A Focus Point

Now, I knew that my debt was getting out of control. I knew I’d have to pay it off sometime and that the sooner I got started, the sooner I’d finish. I certainly wasn’t oblivious to the situation I was in. I just had so many reasons not to start.

So at the end of each year I’d set myself a budget. I’d decide on a realistic goal to pay off some debt that year. I’d try to motivate myself to pay off debt.

Then, within a month or two, this plan would be forgotten about. There would be more important priorities. I’d start my debt repayment plan next month.

And of course, I never really got started. I just kept putting it off and putting it off. And all the time I did that, the problem got worse.

So annoying had my debt become – and my failure to address the issue in hand – that eventually I stopped even adding it to my New Years resolutions because I knew, in all honesty, that I wouldn’t end up doing anything about. So waste time even pretending I would?

I Hadn’t Reached My Tipping Point

Finally, I reached a situation where my debt couldn’t be ignored any more. I was struggling (read: failing) to keep up with my minimum payments. My debt repayments were eating up ever more of my disposable income. I was starting to get red letters, and telephone calls I’d rather have not received. There was finally no way out – I had to face the problem head on and get it done.

Before this I had put off the situation for as long as possible (“manana, manana”) but now my creditors and my ever-shrinking disposable income and pushed me to my tipping point.

I was fed up with working hard all month, only to send what little extra cash I had after my expenses to my creditors. I was sick of receiving threatening letters. And I was sick of ignoring my cell phone and pretending to friends it was a “wrong number”.

Finally I had the motivation I needed to get the problem sorted.

Surprisingly just a few short years later I’d be totally debt free and wondering what all the fuss had been about. But that’s a story for another day…

Have you ever had any of these experiences? What was the “tipping point” that finally convinced you to get serious about getting out of debt? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below…

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