Amanda Dorough | She's Paying It Off

The Story of My Journey to Debt Freedom, One Tiny Step at a Time


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No Spend Challenge 2020 FEBRUARY Recap

Picture_20200308_134942945(*Now, just to make a note, I share the following just to share my experience through this no spend challenge and my debt free journey hopefully inspire others.  These are my own experiences, my own wins and challenges that I mainly share because I know it inspires me to read about what other people are doing or have done as well.)

Hello Everyone!  We made it to March!  Two months down, many more to go.  I’ve admittedly meant to sit down and write this blog for days now but I’ve been enjoying a good mix of living and relaxing that I can’t complain about.

So let’s get to it.  February was actually a pretty good month.  I stuck to my guns and had no big slip-ups outside of my “needs” and allowances!

That being said I did have a couple disappointments financially…

  • I paid more in electricity than I wanted to.  I’ve had a lot of issues with my Thyroid for years.  In December I went through my second round of radioactive iodine to essentially kill it off.  Well, needless to say it worked and I have been FREEZING for the last month which meant turning up the heat in my apartment a bit (because even wearing layers couldn’t compensate).  It only came out to $53 but that was $10 more than January which in the grand scheme is pretty freaking good, just disappointing to me.
  • I went through a couple tolls for convenience’s sake.  For the most part I avoid them, and I actually allow for some toll usage in my budget, but I try to record each time I do it.  In February I didn’t.  I know I’m being nit picky, but every little bit counts.
  • I was going to cancel Disney Plus but was trying to finish the Mandalorian first.  Well I finally finished The Mandalorian but missed canceling Disney Plus by one day (facepalm) so I’ll have it for one more month.

Now for the good things in February!

  • I cash flowed my taxes!  I know this may sound weird, but I saved more than enough in January to pay the $950 plus preparation fees etc. which feels good.
  • I successfully completed my Pantry Challenge!  From the middle of January until the end of February I was cooking solely from my cabinets with the exception of staples like milk, eggs and fruits/veggies.  I won’t lie, there were days where leftovers felt like the worst thing ever, and the firefighters I work with would make fun of me for it (all in jest) but I spent <$50 on groceries in 6 weeks.  That is a win.
  • I was on top of things with my good habits challenge!  I finished 5 books in February which blew my goal of 2 books out of the water.  I also followed my oral care plan to the T.  I had a dentist appt on the 27 for a cleaning and the hygenist commented that I had almost no build up!  Hooray!  I still have a lot of things I need to fix, but for the time being, I’m not doing further damage.
  • I found out about the Texshare card!  I was disappointed to learn that my library didn’t have a few books I wanted and it would cost me $3 per book to do an interlibrary loan.  My library does however participate in the Texshare program which allows members in good standing to go to other participating libraries to check out books, which means, I can go to the Austin libraries and get the books I wanted, for free!

Free and fun stuff…

  • February was Black History month and for a couple select days I found out Regal Theaters was offering free screenings of Harriet so I decided to take advantage of it and I’m so glad I did!  Going to the movies, or moreover paying for movies (outside of dates) isn’t allowed on my wants vs needs list so it was fantastic to get to enjoy the theater.  It also opened up a whole world of free advance screenings to me, so, after some research, it looks like I may be getting to enjoy more free movies in the future.  Don’t worry I’ll share details so you can enjoy it too when I know more!
  • I went to Mardi Gras Galveston with my friend/work partner Shannon.  This is the third year I’ve been and it’s just so much fun (and no, unlike popular belief you don’t have to do crazy things to get beads, at least not in Galveston).  I used my social budget to get some food that day, but made wise choices.  We also found free parking for everything even though it meant walking a little farther.
  • I got lots of free products to try and free food!  The Field Agent app gave me the opportunity to try a lot of toiletry products for free and then through Field Agent and other apps I got free Little Ceasers, Sonic, and Panda Express.  I’m obviously not eating out during my no-spend challenge (outside of my social allowances) so I’ll take everything I can get!

Overall I was able to put $1981.75 toward debt in February!  Heck yes!

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Finally, since I haven’t said anything about it, I went on a trip to Washington State to visit my family and friends at the end of January/Beginning of February.  This trip was planned prior to my deciding to do the spending fast and it was so worth it.  In all, not including the flight, which I bought last year, I spend $310.  This included….

  •  Ski equipment rental for two days of skiing (my dad blessed me by paying for the lift tickets and condo we stayed in)
  • Buying the groceries for the three days of the ski trip with my dad.
  • Taking my mom out to see a movie.  She covered dinner and I covered the movie.  It was a good night out with my mom.
  • Going on a hiking adventure with my oldest friend.  She drove, so I paid for lunch.
  • Lunch at Dicks drive-in on an adventure day with my sister’s family.
  • Supplies to make bath bombs with my niece.
  • The airport parking fees for my car in Austin for a week.

So there you have it!  Onward to making March the most successful month yet!

 


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No Spend Challenge 2020 JANUARY Recap

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Whew.  Anybody else feel like January lasted for like 100 days?  I don’t know why the first month of the year always feels so stinking long!

It was a crazy month indeed.  I moved to a new ambulance/station at work which is in an entirely new section of our county that I haven’t worked much in.  It’s fantastic though because it’s knocked about 30 minutes each way off my commute, 40 miles off round trip, and I’m using a lot less gas which is awesome.  Plus I pass by Costco on my way home from work, which thankfully is closed at 7am when I get off (because no one needs to spend that kind of money during a no spend challenge, lets be honest), but the gas station is open that early and gas there is super cheap!

As for sticking to my wants vs needs list, well, it was a challenge at times, I won’t lie, but I’m going to go ahead and toot my own horn and say I rocked it.

See my tracker below?

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Ya, I only had one big slip up…  A ticket to go see Kesha live with my work partner/friend in April.  Honestly, I could have technically filed it under my social category in the needs section (see my previous post to see my reasoning for needing a social budget) BUT, there are a lot cheaper social activities I could be doing than an $80 concert ticket, so making it a need is not justifiable.  That being said, do I regret buying it?  No way.  I have wanted to see Kesha in concert for years and when the opportunity popped up to see her and to have someone to go with I jumped at it, and I’m pretty excited!

(P.S. That same tracker is available in my free printables section of the blog if you need one!)

If I’m being entirely honest this month wasn’t a huge challenge with wants vs needs.  A fact I attribute to the whole concept still being so new and exciting.  There were definitely a couple things I ran into that I had to tell myself no when it came to it, but overall, differentiating between wants vs needs wasn’t to hard.  I’m sure this will change eventually so I’m not taking this honeymoon stage for granted!

Now let me talk about some successes.  Some small changes I made this month, or ideas I breathed life into that seemed to work….

  •  Actively avoiding tolls for the most part.  I still drove through a few toll plazas, because toll roads are everywhere around here and in these situations they drastically cut down in my commute time HOWEVER, I avoided tolls approx. 95% of the time, which I’m pretty proud of.
  • Starting a pantry challenge.  Halfway through January, I realized that I don’t need to be dedicating as much to groceries as I am because I am wasting so much food and I have a HUGE stockpile.  My cupboards are nowhere close to empty.  So for the second half of January as well as the full month of February, I’m doing a pantry challenge.  I’ll let you know how the rest of it goes, but so far so good!
  • Using my extra time to focus on establishing good habits.  The first I decided to focus on was a good dental care routine.  Dental work is so expensive (not to mention painful) so preventative care is paramount but I’ve always sucked at it.  I made it a goal to brush/floss/use mouth wash every night before bed and so far I’m at 100%!  The second goal/habit I chose to focus on in January was taking time to read a little bit everyday.  I will admit, I missed two days, but every other day I was successful and I finished 4 books by the end of the month!  Two books I already owned on my kindle, a physical book I owned, and a library book!
  • I finally finished up my bottle of dish soap.  Instead of throwing the bottle away I washed off the gook and refilled it using a giant bottle of dish soap I got from Costco for free last year.

Now lets get to the fun part.  The money I saved!

So January is a bit of a unique month.  I did cut categories from my budget, because of the challenge, which helped, but January was also a 3 paycheck month as well as the month where I get my PTO check (I earn 163 of bonus PTO a year since I have to work holidays as a paramedic (we get it instead of holiday pay) which cashes out down to 70 hours every January). So my income this month was abnormally high.  I won’t have this much leftover in the coming months so that’s something I’m coming to terms with.

Also, I will owe money on my taxes (approx $1000) so the first priority will be to apply what I save to that.

So what are my final numbers?

$5831.25!

I’m pretty proud indeed.  Hopefully in the next week or so I’ll know exactly how much I owe on taxes and how much I can pay to debt.

And now, one last thought on January.  I haven’t mentioned it yet, but the last week-ish of the month was actually spent on vacation visiting my family in WA, a trip that was planned before I decided to do the challenge.  I count the spending on that as seperate and a full breakdown and budget travel recap will be coming in it’s own blog soon!

And there you have it, 1 month down and at least 5 more to go!  We’ll see 😉 Anyone else out there doing a no spend challenge along with me I’d love to hear about your successes as well!

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