Focus on Finances November Challenge – Join Jess and Jordan!

Join the challenge! Do a few small things for a few shorts weeks and completely pay for Christmas! from FunCheapOrFree.com

FREEBS! I have the most EXCITING project for all of us! We are going to hunker down and focus on our finances in November, to make way for the BEST year of Holidays we've ever had. In just a few short weeks of working hard we will have Christmas completely paid for, have a stress-free Holiday season, and we will be able to eat lots of Christmas goodies to celebrate!

Um…Jordan…that doesn't sound that fun.

No hear me out! Here's what we are going to do (and why you should be excited about it)…

My high school bestie, Jessica, contacted me recently. She wants to pay off $9,000 in credit card debt, and we set the goal to do it in 90 days. She's a single career woman who makes good money, but feels like she is drowning with her finances. She never has money left over, but feels like she never buys the things she wishes she could buy, works her tail off, and is just sick of not knowing what's going on! In preparation for the holidays she asked for my help. It got me thinking…

Why don't we ALL Focus on Finances for a few weeks, and completely pay off Christmas?!

Join the challenge! Do a few small things for a few shorts weeks and completely pay for Christmas! from FunCheapOrFree.com

My goal is to save $500 in the month of November. It will be a challenge since I only have 25 days now, but by working hard for a few short weeks, my entire Christmas will be paid for. Can you imagine?! I have an entire list of ways to make this happen below.

Jessica is committing to Focus on Finances pretty hard core for the next 3 moths, in order to pay off and I'm beyond impressed by it. So join me and Jess and let's FOCUS. (PS read Jessica's amazing story and plan of action below.)

So here's the plan:

For the rest of November the goal is to spend as LITTLE as possible, and be as TIGHT WITH YOUR BUDGET as possible to prepare your wallet for the Holidays. Simple enough.

Here are the rules/the simple ways we will make this happen:

Time to get hard core here, kiddos…

Join the challenge! Do a few small things for a few shorts weeks and completely pay for Christmas! from FunCheapOrFree.com

Ps: I know this is a lot but please read through all of this! I really believe we can do this!

  • No, it doesn't matter that we didn't start on the 1st! Doesn't even matter that we are mid-week! there's never a perfect time so let's just GO FOR IT.
  • Set a goal for the month. For me, I want to save $500 extra dollars this month. It will go straight to paying off our entire Christmas! Can you imagine?! What's your goal? Talk about it with your spouse, get your family on-board, then write it on your mirror, car window, dog, forehead, everywhere. As of today, I have 25 days to save $500. That's saving $20 per day. That's a hefty goal! But by skipping a $50 date night this weekend, doing a spending freeze next week (which will save me about $300-$350 in one week) it will add up quickly. I can do this and so can you!

simplest budgeting technique ever

  • Starting TODAY we will all start using my envelope budgeting system as if our oxygen depended on it. Wether you use cash, debit, or credit cards, doesn't matter. Don't know what the envelope system is? Watch the (horrible, old, and embarrassing) video, read the post, and you'll be all set. It's super simple!

spending freeze

  • Starting Monday we will do a 1-week spending freeze! Yes, you read that right. If you can't start on Monday, then choose a consecutive 7 days within the next 3 weeks and DO IT. But trust me, it's easier when you jump in with friends, so join your Freebs and let's do this (spontaneously) together! SEE HOW TO DO A SPENDING FREEZE HERE. Note it is an old post so the $100 contest has ended. But all the RULES of the spending freeze still apply…the only money you can spend for 7 consecutive days is on bills and utilities and emergencies. Not “I broke a nail” or “my son forgot his lunch and needs lunch money” emergencies, but “I broke my leg” or “I just popped all 4 tires” emergencies. But again, read the rules HERE. I'll do an updated post on this possibly tomorrow. PLAN AHEAD! Pay for things NOW, buy your groceries NOW, cancel or rearrange your plans NOW. Don't use time as an excuse, there's never a “good time” so let's just do it! chest bump.
  • Cut out EVERY additional expense you do NOT need for the month including (but not limited to): eating out, shopping, conveniences, extras, etc. If you don't NEED it, don't buy it! This is only for a few weeks, folks. Think of the money you will save! Make a list of what you will cut out and make it happen. Remember, it's only for a short time!
  • Get creative! Don't focus on what you're giving up, think of how to get everything you want in a creative way. Don't say, “oh I can't afford that” or “I can't do that”. Instead, get creative! Want to do a double date with friends? Invite them over and cook dinner together using groceries you already have instead paying $50+ at dinner. Or have a free movie night or game night at your place! Want to decorate a gorgeous table for Thanksgiving? Go to Pinterest and find amazing DIY centerpieces using things in nature and things you have lying around! Use what you have, and get creative.
  • Obviously Thanksgiving is this month. So don't skimp on Thanksgiving dinner, that's a special Holiday for heaven's sake. But don't pay full-price for anything! Set a budget using your envelope system, and price-match! Watch sales! Find deals! This video shows you a free app that will save you tons. Or, see how I grocery shop and save 1/2 without clipping coupons.

You CAN feed a family of 6 on $125 per week! See how at www.FunCheapOrFree.com

  • PLAN YOUR MEALS each week! If you saw my most recent YouTube video, you'll see that saving on groceries is NOT that hard! Cutting down on your grocery spending is one of the EASIEST and QUICKEST ways to save money…and no, it's not at the expense of eating well! It's the opposite, in fact – you will eat better when you plan your meals in advance and focus on buying healthy foods that create full meals for your family. See my quick grocery shopping tips HERE, proof that you can eat whole, gluten free, and organic for cheap HERE, and my meal planning techniques online or below:

NOW! Time for Jessica's side of the story, so you can get motivated too! Take it away Jess!

Hey everyone! I'm Jessica, and here's my story…

Join the challenge! Do a few small things for a few shorts weeks and completely pay for Christmas! from FunCheapOrFree.com

Long story short:

My goal for the next 90 days is to wipe out $9K in credit card debt. I'm determined to do it!!I have a grand total of roughly $105,000 of debt between my student loans ($83k) credit cards ($9k) and car loan ($8.5k). I also own a house ($35K), but I don't count that because I currently have a renter…so we will deal with that later :). While someday I want to be completely debt free,

I accumulated some major credit card debt while in college, and then post college due to continuing education and low income. They can be a blessing and a curse.

However! About two years ago, I got my nursing license and started making a livable wage. Fast forward to now, I'm bringing in about $88-$90k per year which is amazing! (This will be the first year at that income.)

You would think that going from an income of $20k to $90k would pay down some serious debt… nope. Just make things worse.

I'm a girl after Jordan's own heart.. I LOVE A DEAL!!! So TJMaxx and Nordstrom Rack and currently my enemy. Not to mention all the cute home decor and kitchen stuff… shoes… purses…ugh. It never ends!

Join the challenge! Do a few small things for a few shorts weeks and completely pay for Christmas! from FunCheapOrFree.com

My work happens to be right above TJMaxx, so everyday when i leave, i have to choose if i go up in the elevator to my car, or down to TJ to say a quick “hello”. Never a good idea! ha!

Fast forward and here I am in $9k credit card debt saying to myself…

“wait a min… how is this possible??? I make great money and live by myself!”

But it's true. Not sure how it happened, but it did.

So here's the deal, I WANT THAT DEBT GONE!

Frankly, I want it all gone, but I think the credit card debt bugs me most. It's time. I've tried several times, but now I'm truly willing to buckle down and give this a serious run for my money (no pun intended).

I have been using Jordan's envelope system for a while now. Every month I write my budget on the front, then stuff it with all the receipts after I blow right through that budget. Yikes.

Simplest budgeting technique EVER! From FunCheapORFree.com

I have been using a credit card to collect points on every purchase I make, but that makes it SO easy to go down the path of mindless spending because you aren't worried about the money coming directly out of an account.

So every paycheck (every 2 weeks), I pay “off” what I spent…cough yea right…but I actually usually only make $1k payments, but in reality spent more like $2k.

And here we are.

Join the challenge! Do a few small things for a few shorts weeks and completely pay for Christmas! from FunCheapOrFree.com

So, What do I want to change?

Mindless spending, and living outside my means. I want to shop, but within my budget. And, I want that credit card debt GONE ASAP!

Why, you ask? Because for one,

it's just not that fun to think about bills all the time.

Second, I currently have a side job which allows people to make income and get out of debt, and I feel a little irresponsible helping others get out of debt when I can't even do it myself.

Third, I WANT CONTROL OF MY MONEY! It makes me crazy when I have to pay $4-5k a month to “the man”.

And finally, I am single, and for my future family, I don't want to bring all of this “shopping baggage” with me to my relationship.

How do I plan to wipe out $9,000 in 90 days?

Easy. Just kidding, not easy at all. But determined, yes.

  • Jordan's helped me calculate a strict budget of $75 for groceries, and $75 for “other”. PERIOD! End of story. …INCLUDING Christmas gifts! Better start shopping now and space it out, eh? And yes, I eat organic and all whole foods, so it will be challenging, but doable! I still plan to shop, eat out, and have fun…so long as it fits in my strict $150/week budget! I love the freedom of being able to still shop and have fun, within reason.
  • So far in the first week of November, I have reduced my monthly bills by $125/mo. I refinanced my car, $75 dollar savings/month, shopped around for new car insurance (actually got better coverage for less money…try it!) which saved me $40 per month, and cancelled a second gym membership I had which was $10/mo.

Also, I have already paid off 1,100 on one card in the first week, by putting extra income and saved money toward the debt instead of shopping and other things.

  • I plan to stay accountable by sharing with friends, Jordan, and everyone in the world now thanks to this blog :). I tried it on my own before, and it just doesn't work! I need people helping me stay on track.
  • Visualization! I made a chart that I track how much I've paid down on debt. It's so motivating to see that red inch up each day!

Join the challenge! Do a few small things for a few shorts weeks and completely pay for Christmas! from FunCheapOrFree.com

  • Stop shopping! Just don't even go into the store. I realize that's a weakness of mine. I have a BUSTING closet, I have all I need to last plenty more than 90 days.
  • In fact, on the phone Jordan told me to flip my hangers backwards in my closet as she mentions in this tip. Any time I wear an outfit I flip the hanger the right way. It visually helps me solves the “I have nothing to wear” problem, because mentally I'm trying to wear everything I have. I have suddenly “doubled” my wardrobe, just by focusing and mixing/matching what I already have.

Join the challenge! Do a few small things for a few shorts weeks and completely pay for Christmas! from FunCheapOrFree.com

So there you have it!

It's not going to be easy, but in 1 week I've already accomplished a huge chunk of my goal. That's huge! I'm so motivated, and ready to change. I can't wait to look back and see what a dent I have made in 90 days!!

xoxo Jess

______________

WOW! Anyone else inspired? I am!

So join me and Jess. Accept the challenge to Focus on Finances at least for November and let's see what we can accomplish!

My goal for November is $500, what's yours? Leave a comment below and share, and join in the challenge on IG and FB using the hashtag #FocusOnFinances

…and don't forget about the spending freeze next week! Muahahaaaaaa.

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Comments

  1. You don’t know how much I need this!!! We just moved to UT and built a new house. Although a dream come true, I’ve been crazy busy which means lots of eating out ($$$) and of course I have gone overboard furnishing our home. We have huge expenses coming up with yard, fences, shutters, basement, etc., along with Christmas, daughter’s braces, and kids’ sports/activities. My hubs is ma-ad!!! So I will be following along for sure;).

    • Oh boy it never ends, right?! Congrats on the new house! So exciting! Just remember…yard can wait. Shutters and basement can wait. It can all wait! It won’t kill you. It may suck big time, but it won’t kill you (trust me, been there. you feel like you’re dying but I promise you’ll be fine ;)). Take care of your family FIRST. If you have credit card debt especially, or any kind of loans other than mortgage and reasonable car payment (in some cases) focus on everything else first and take your time with everything else. We had sheets hanging from our windows for over a year. not classy, but that’s the only way we could do it without adding detriment to our family. Best of luck, so glad you’re on board!! XO

    • We just built too. It is so hard not to furnish it and make it pretty!! Oh and the eating out is the worst. I think I’ve gained more weight in the 2 years (built ourselves) it’s taken us to build that I did having my girls.

    • The Huba and I were just talking about why we cant seem to save $300 a month. So thats our goal $300. Plus my goal for 2016 pay off my car or come VERY close. Thank you Jordan we really need this help.

  2. I have a lot of debt myself and feel like I’m drowning but my monthly income is only 1,413 a month and really not sure how to go about that when I’m paying many cards unfortunately- got rid of all my cards but still paying on them. Should have one played off this month but still a ways to go. Any advice or help and I’d appreciate it.
    Thanks

    • Thanks for chiming in, Sara! Now, I don’t know anything about your situation (married? kids? working full-time? part-time?) but I will say, $1,400 isn’t much to live off of. Again, without knowing your situation, my initial advice is to do whatever it takes to make more money so you can get ahead and 1) pay off debt, then 2) build up savings. Pick up additional jobs if you need to, or build up your resume and watch some free youtube videos about how to nail interviews so you can land a better paying job. Be willing to move, even! Once you do that, there will be more breathing room to accomplish your goals. Good luck! XO

  3. Hi Jordan!
    I really want to join you in your saving money plan this month. My husband and I going through a difficult financial time and we could really use this to help with Christmas expenses. I have a question about the spending freeze. Do you keep track of the money you would have spent next week and put it into a savings account? I’m just wondering how doing a money freeze translates into saving money. This might seem like a silly question but if you could give some clarity, I’d appreciate it!

    • Yes absolutely! And I will try to do a more thorough post on this if I have time before Monday. But essentially take the money that you would normally spend (whether it’s cash, or whether it sits in a bank account) and shove it STRAIGHT into savings. Or straight to credit card debt if you have any, that is always priority – even over Christmas presents (gasp! But true). For me, I have $150/week in groceries and $100 “other” each week. It’s sitting in my checking account so instead of spending that money, I will transfer the $250 into our savings to set aside for christmas. You could even open a separate savings account for easier tracking. Great questions!

  4. I swore off credit cards back in 2011 when I filed for bankruptcy (insert shame-emoticon), but in the last year, I applied for a credit card to see if I could, in fact, get credit. Well, you know those credit card companies…I got offered one with a $1500 credit line in about 15 seconds. And so the first thing I thought was…I’ve got $1500 I can spend! Alas, here I am…sitting with $1300 in debt (again, insert shame-emoticon). I want desperately to pay it off and leave those cards in my past – once and for all!

    • The struggle is real! Thank you for being so open and honest! It’s truly hard, but I believe in you. It’s all about practice. Think of it like a diet: you can go and get liposuction or lose 100lbs with an expensive personal trainer. But if you go back to eating chocolate cake for breakfast, it will creep back on. BUT…who doesn’t love chocolate cake?! Eat and enjoy it! It’s just all about balance. If you have it for breakfast, you should probably eat broccoli for lunch. You’re on the right track and I’m proud of you – awareness is key! Hang in there!! XO

  5. Yep, we need to tighten our belts as well. We have 5 kids, I am a stay-at-home mom and my hubs just got cancer. With Christmas coming up quick, I need to find a way to pay for it. Thanks for all the help and encouragement! You are a doll!

  6. Hey there! I am totally going to do the money freeze week! I might die not being able to go get my swig diet coke but it will be worth it for my little family.
    I could use your help my question is my husband was making pretty good money. He was let go this last week and has started a new job that is commission based. So we don’t really know when our next pay check will come. Do you have any advice of and really what we could do to cut our expenses? He is looking for a job at night as well!

  7. Hello!! I wan to join this so bad. Debt is a huge depression for me, I cannot seem to get it under control. We ALWAYS have something come up. $20,000 in credit card debt and not much in savings. I don’t know how to get a handle on it. It seems like I try and try and I never get anywhere. I cant wait to do this challenge and see where it takes me.

  8. This is just what I needed. I have already paid off one smaller credit card but lost some motivation along the way. Working towards having a debt free life. I’m a renter and single mom to one awesome 7 year old. I make a decent income and just need to focus and pay down some credit cards and student loans. I’m not too concerned with the student loans…I would love to pay off cards and my car which is about $15k. Thank you Jordan and Jess for sharing! I’m all in !

  9. OH how I need this. We have mostly built our own house with just 15K in debt. That is the only debt we have. We are making it but not saving any. Our house is liveable but isn’t complete–as in no trim in some rooms, no kitchen cabinet doors or drawers, type of thing. We’ve eaten out like crazy. I’ve been drawn into “oh I have a real house to make pretty now” trap. So….. in order to THRIVE and not just survive… I need to do this! Hmmm goal– I like the $500 mark. Sounds crazy but let’s DO THIS!!!

  10. Yay Jess for starting your debt snowball! I have paid off about 16k this year from a total of 23k… On top of that I’m trying to save for a wedding! My reasoning was the same– I don’t want this baggage to carry into a future marriage. Good luck!

  11. One thing that has helped me for the past 8 years is to save up for Christmas all year. I start in January. I have 3 boys and I decided to save $10/month. By December I have $120/kid. Now obviously, my older son wants more expensive things and my youngest is not getting $120 in toys. So I will probably take some of my youngest boys money and give it to my oldest. It has worked because I only shop Black Friday for Christmas and we always have a decent size Christmas and the boys are happy! This way, I don’t have to worry about paying off Christmas because I already have the money. Just thought I’d share cause it works for us!!

  12. I am going to extend this to New Years. I want to have $1,000 saved by January 1, 2016. That’s 8 weeks away, 56 days at roughly $20/day. I’m making my list of ways we’re going to save. It’s going to be good. 👊🏻

  13. My goal is to pay off my credit card by Dec 31st. I’ve had this thing causing me stress for way too long. I did a No Spend in October which really helped and taught me a lot about my spending habits and I’ve been working a second job for the past three weeks. Just waiting for that pay check to come in now so I can really see the numbers go down.

  14. I am definitely following along with this. I would like to save $300 , which should be plenty for my family for Christmas. I’ve already found some gifts on sale on Amazon!! Win!! I’ll be following along to see all the advice you have to give us for these 25 days.

  15. i haven’t been back to your site in a few months; nothing personal just busy with life (including working on increasing my salary which is just did a week ago! Woot woot!)! BUT i will have to say, i am SO grateful for this post and this series…why? Because no one seems to blog about budgeting for singles! I recently went through a divorce so I’ve been on both ends and which one is easier? You’d think being single may be easier but they both have their pros and cons! So kudo’s & thanks!

  16. Clarification please: “Jordan’s helped me calculate a strict budget of $75 for groceries, and $75 for “other”…so long as it fits in my strict $150/week budget!”

    is her budget $150 a week or a month? i’m just confused b/c i thought you said food budget per national average is $100 per person per month….which would be $25/wk per person.

    • It’s per week! I mention on some posts and forget in others that for a single person or 2-3 people in a family, $50-$75 is reasonable. No one can eat very well on $25/week 🙂 Thanks for the clarification!

      • thanks for the prompt response. i was gonna say, PLS show me how to get by on 25/wk! i should be out of debt in no time then! LOL =)

  17. I desperately want to get out of debt. I honestly don’t even know how much debt we have. Every time I turn around my husband has either maxed out a card we have or applied for a new one. With both of us being nurses we have a good income, most of which goes to debt. Any ideas on how to get my husband on board for saving and cutting spending?

    • Sit down and find out what HE is motivated by. Have HIM write out what he wants in 5 years, 10 years. Help him find his vision and set some solid goals, then work backwards and figure out how to get there. You can’t force a horse to drink so you’ll just need to cultivate a situation where he finds his motivation and go from there! Best of luck!

  18. So I’m way late to this party, but I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon after a week of crazy spending! Actually, with family in town, multiple birthday parties, and holidays on the horizon, it’s been a month of crazy spending! I’m ready to buckle down and do this thang! Other than one predetermined expense and food shopping for Thanksgiving, I pledge to go on a spending freeze for the rest of the month! Here we go!!

  19. Did you ever do a follow up story on your friends success/failure on her challenge? I am curious to hear how her experience went.

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