Only Get What You Need

Have you ever found yourself at the grocery store when they are running the 10/$10 sale, throwing things in the cart without rhyme or reason?

Or at a clothing store that is running a buy one get one 50% off promotion, looking around to find something worth getting for 50% off though you only came in for one thing?

I have and these types of “sale” events can be a real challenge when you are trying to live on a budget and not bring in unnecessary clutter. In fact, I put myself in a challenging situation just this past weekend and I’d say I half-passed the test.

My BFF was in town visiting me for the weekend. I love her to death, but we usually end up shopping when we are together, which is something I do not need to be doing right now.

Saturday afternoon we decided we’d go “out” for the evening for dinner and a couple of drinks with friends. In true girl style, she was all like:

She also wanted to look for some new shoes for work. So, our first stop was the shoe store in my hometown, where they were having a BOGO 50% off sale. I was very successful in this store. I played along and tried on a pair or two, but was hardly tempted to get anything and walked out empty-handed.

Our next stop was the one and only clothing store in town. Unfortunately for me and my budget, I LOVE the clothes from that store.

While in the clothing store, I decided to look for one pair of jeans since I have occasionally (disclosure: maybe twice a year) found myself short by a pair and scrambling to do laundry quickly to have another pair clean (I own only 3 pair total).

After 2 hours, I walked out with a pair of jeans, a pair of workout pants (I’d thought about getting another pair for a while), but also a shirt and a headband, both of which I absolutely do not need. I tried to justify these last two things by saying that the shirt was on sale and the headband was cute, cute, cute. But do I really need them? No!

Now, I will be making a return trip to the store to return at least the top and headband. While I thought I could use the workout pants and jeans, I’ve since decided that I need the workout pants more, even though I went in the store originally for jeans.

What did I learn through this little weekend shopping trip?

Both living on a budget and de-cluttering your life take big mindset changes. You must asses where you are at, what you are doing/have been doing wrong, and where you want to be in the future. Then, you have to continually work to achieve the results you want. You didn’t get in debt and cluttered up overnight and you can’t get rid of them overnight either. Bottom line for both goals: only get what you need.

Have you tempted yourself lately?

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A Hard Hitting Reality

Today’s post is from Megan at Megan and Eggs (love that!). She is here to tell us about how she changed from splurging to living on a budget.

I graduated from college with very little debt. I had just paid off my car (a four-year loan in two and a half years). I was working a retail job and just got a promotion into a part-time manager role. I was working a lot, saving a lot and living at home with my parents. I was planning on moving across the country to Los Angeles so I knew I had a lot to save for.

When I moved in June of 2010, I was in the habit of paying of my credit cards in full each month, however I had never paid for rent, groceries, or I am a little ashamed to say, gas for my car. I was hit hard by reality and how much I would have to spend on things, even after my promotion to full-time. So I charged almost all extras. I figured, I’d pay it off eventually. I charged everything from my new couch and bed to dinners and drinks with friends.

The numbers kept going up and I never really thought it was a problem, until the minimum payments started getting higher and higher. I was living alone at the time so I was absolutely fine when I canceled my TV and internet. I paid more attention to how often I was filling my car, and stopped going out as often or shopping as much.

I started doing better, and paying off more than the minimum payment on my three credit cards until I moved in with two of my friends (one who later became my boyfriend).

We moved into a 2300 square foot, three bedroom, three bath, way too big house, that ended up costing a fortune to cool during the 100 degree, San Fernando Valley summers. Another thing that I had to pitch in for was cable and internet. Sure, I could have said no I don’t want to participate and not used the TV or internet but let’s be real, when it’s there, I am going to use it.

It seemed like every time I started to get ahead, I would fall back down.

I am still not in a great place, but I am very aware of the financial spot that I am in. I am now able to make smarter decisions and say no to weekly dinners with friends or instead of going out for drinks, suggesting a night in. My boyfriend and I have since moved into a small one bedroom apartment where it is much easier to control the utilities, although his love for television ensures we will forever be paying into that.

The key is spending less than you make, which can be hard when 40% of what you take home each month is going toward your credit card bills that are full of old experiences and material possessions that don’t matter anymore. I’ve come to realize that I can’t lower my bills anymore, and instead I need to make more by hustling more and working more. I can’t change the past but I can work hard to get rid of the past mistakes on my credit cards.

Almost a year ago I stumbled upon the PF blogging community and began reading. I was hooked when I saw that there are a ton of people in the same boat I am in. They charged too much on their credit cards, or went to a fancy pants college, or just simply didn’t make enough for their spending habits. But almost all of them have dedicated their spare time to working to pay off their debt, which is something that I have started to do too. The motivation of others, and realizing that I am not the only one, has really pushed me to get my life vest and jump off the debt boat. Right now I am floating but soon I will reach the land of debt freedom!

Have you ever been sucker punched by reality like Megan was?

Megan Oliver is a foodie with a journalism degree and she is working to marry her two favorite interests. You can follow her debt disasters and cooking triumphs at Megan and Eggs.

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