My Debt Free Year In Review

Let me start by saying that losing $165,000 in debt FEELS REAL GOOD..like REALLY REALLY GOOD. This may be one of the top reasons that I keep shouting about the debt free community and trying to recruit all of you to join me. Believe me when I say that a debt free head just hits the pillow different at night.

So I’ve now had a whole year to reflect on my decision to get out of debt and wanted to share three things from my reflection with you. So keep reading to learn why I got out of debt, how I got out of debt and how I have and will continue to keep the debt off.

THE WHY-YOLO..so that was my mentality back in my late teens and twenties, but I interpreted it wrong. I thought it meant that I should party it up, buy what I wanted when I wanted it, and just be making minimum payments for a lifetime..the American Dream. Pay for everything on credit and work until my mid sixties and make jokes with everyone else along the way about how “I will never pay these student loans off” or “At this rate I will be working until I die”. Looking back, YOLO now means to me that you in fact only live once. So live the life you want and not the life society tells you to. Figure out your own path and your own way to to make a living.

THE HOW-I contribute 3 things to my how. One being a mindset shift. If you don’t first believe that you can be debt free and that you also deserve the freedom of a debt free life, then no budget or even a large sum of money will be able to help you. The second was zero budgeting during the payoff. This just means that I literally took every additional penny that I had and put it to work for me paying off the debt. I turned down a lot of stuff during this time, including eating out or going on a bunch of trips. I got dramatic with my expenses and cut them down to the bare minimum. (or so I thought) Then I woke up one day and realized that I was making excuses for some expenses that weren’t necessary, such as two newer cars that we didn’t need, and an SUV that sucked down the gas. I was also still budgeting for clothes, hair and makeup. When I cut down to the ACTUAL needs..I found out that none of that stuff was included. Actual needs are just that..basic food, shelter and transportation are it…period. So once I got rid of all the excess through a No Spend Year and getting rid of the cars, things really started to accelerate. The 3rd item that helped was the debt snowball method. Every single extra penny went towards the smallest debt, paid that off, then rolled that into the next smallest, and just kept going. When I got towards the end, I also dabbled with the debt avalanche for a student loan that had a high interest rate.

KEEP IT OFF-I have come across a lot of temptations now being debt free, including getting an itch for a new car occasionally or to upgrade in other ways. I think it’s human nature and it’s hard to deprogram from a lifetime of consumerism and instant gratification. It would be very easy to get led right back down that dirt road to debt. But I’m proud to say we haven’t. I ultimately switched from zero budgeting to value based budgeting. So now, if it’s something I value, such as my family, health, or education, then I will spend the money on it. When you know your values and align your spending with them, then you will notice that most of the items that require consumer debt don’t fit anywhere in the budget. The occasional big items, like upkeep for our family home, just require me to save up until we can pay cash for them, and we keep that emergency fund for the unexpected. The rest, like family and education usually are worth the most yet cost the least to add value in my life.

So as you can see..no get out of debt quick scheme or magical inheritance or lottery winner over here. Just some boring stuff that paid off in our current lives and will continue to do so over the long term as we head down a trail we are blazing on our own that builds wealth.

No Spend Year Update

So as you may remember, I successfully completed a No Spend Year for 2019 with only purchasing sunglasses and nail polish off my banned items list. It was so effective in resetting my financial values, that I decided a second year would be an amazing idea.

So here we are, just about five months in, and I am wanted to give an update. Almost 18 months without buying any clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup or haircuts/dye has been life changing for me and really helped me better understand what I truly value. I’ve noticed something else lately though. Things are different today compared to my decision in January to sign up for another year of this. To be honest, I think this is one of the best things I’m seeing come out of this whole pandemic stuck in your house for the rest of time thing. It seems people I never would have imagined have stopped buying stuff and things. I’m seeing people not wearing makeup and also am starting to see the home haircuts and dye job pics showing up in my social media feeds. While I’ve been doing all of that for a while now, I get that my No Spend Challenge was a choice and others have had the choice made for them. With stores and hair salons being shut and stay at home orders put in place it’s forced people to not buy these items or services, but I’m thinking and hoping there may be some changed people after all of this is over.

So I think now would be a great time to declare a No Spend Challenge in your own life through the rest of 2020. Especially since there’s still so many uncertainties with how long all of this will last, may as well set a goal to see how long you can not spend money on certain items and what you can do with that money instead. You may also find that cutting your own hair isn’t so bad, maybe even rewarding, and I bet nobody has left your house and never returned over seeing you without makeup. Also, the clothes you have are getting a break right now, so they will be like brand new clothes once you get out of those pajamas when this is all over. Who all has changed their spending habits during the past month already?! Who’s ready to commit to doing it for the rest of the year?!

Fighting the urge to splurge in 2020 with another No Spend Year

Because I mean..what’s better than a full damn year of doing a No Spend?! I can’t think of anything except for doing it for a second year in a row!!

Yes you read that right..another No Spend Year for 2020!! If you’ve been busy shopping at the latest BOGO sale or living that AmazonPrime “what’s in this new box” lifestyle, then you may have missed my multiple posts about not buying certain things for all of 2019, along with my updates and all the ups and downs of the journey. I encourage you to look back at my previous No Spend posts to catch up, but I will also summarize here.

I banned buying any of the following items for all of 2019:

Clothes, shoes, accessories, purses, makeup, haircuts/dye/waxing (undergarments and socks can be replaced as needed). I think I added household decor items to my banned list, but I hate throw pillows anyway, so I don’t really need to ban them..lol.

I DID fail and buy a pair of sunglasses, along with a new nail polish, so I wasn’t 100% successful, but I have come a LONG way from who I was before my No Spend Year. I will take the under $15 total for the year versus the $3,000-$4,000 total I was likely spending before per year. It’s also changing my lifetime expenses, which the average woman now spends around half a million dollars in their lifetime on vanity items. 😳 (more to come in a future post on this topic)

I have to say, I was certain I would die when I started this. Well, if you haven’t picked up on it from the fact I’m writing this..I actually did not die. I in fact LIVED..lived like I never have before..completely free of others opinions about my same old clothes, about my hair showing grey or being “slightly” uneven from cutting it myself, or showing my makeup free wrinkly face for a year straight. Damn that shit was freeing and turns out most people didn’t even care or notice the clothes or makeup free face, or at least they didn’t say anything. Now the hair, people had very strong opinions either supporting me and saying they do their own hair also, or telling me to leave it to the professionals. Overall, it wasn’t as drastic of a change for me to ban these items as I anticipated.

I really haven’t lost anything except for the weight of worrying what others might think..and turns out I really don’t give a shit, which honestly surprised me a little (keeping it real..after 35 years of caring to some extent about impressing others, it’s been a big change). What I gained was a LOT..more money in my account, more time since I am no longer shopping or putting makeup on every morning, and a lot of inner reflection on my values and getting comfortable in my own skin. I can truly say that I have never felt prettier or happier with who I am and what I look like, inside and out.

I encourage everyone to try a No Spend, even if it’s for one day or week or even a month. If you can commit for a year, I promise it will change you as a person. One of the joys of a No Spend is that you get to customize it to fit your life and determine your own banned items list. Also, I have a ton of quick tips that helped me and can help you also. First, stay out of the stores all together and keep emails about deals out of your inbox by hitting that unsubscribe button. Clean out your closet to donate unworn items and organize it so you can easily find the items you do love to wear. Take care of your appearance in other ways..drink more water, eat a healthier diet, exercise, and stop damaging your hair with heat and product and let it dry naturally and embrace whatever your natural appearance is. I fought my wavy brown hair for years trying to straighten it, curl it, make it blonder, etc. and turns out my natural hair is pretty awesome once I stopped damaging it. Find friends to swap clothes with for those times you get bored or have an event and nothing to wear. Find a friend or two to join you and help keep you accountable. Learn to fall in love with yourself and embrace your flaws as perfect imperfections rather than trying to cover them up. Finally, make a goal of what you will do with the money you save and put it towards making a big dream a reality and share your progress.

Now I just need to know..who is ready to join me this year?!

Reflecting on 2019

There will be a whole 365 days in 2019 for us to have set goals, have taken action, worked hard, and to have crushed those goals. Year end is a great time to throw modesty out the door and recognize how great your year was and how awesome you are for all that was accomplished.   If you did the work, then I don’t care who you are, you deserve to celebrate, so go on..brush your shoulders off.

If you instead stayed on the couch all year again, and your biggest accomplishment was only gaining 10 lbs from all the junk you ate while binge watching all the Netflix original series..well then..might be good to reflect on that also.   Still playing the “victim of your situation” game and convincing yourself that you can’t change or grow because “insert your excuse here”.  Did that binge or pity party help you or hurt you?

Not trying to brag below I promise you..just trying to prove that you CAN do big things if you set big goals and are ready to take action and put in the work.   You can and should think differently about life and the pursuit of happiness..question things and don’t just do what everyone else is doing because it’s easy.  Also, I’m sharing some stuff that makes me feel vulnerable and gives a private look into some events in my life over the past year.

If you’re not ready to grow and celebrate success, then please stop reading this and head back to your latest Netflix binge. If you are ready, but not sure where to start, start by grabbing a pen and paper and write down everything you accomplished this year that makes you feel proud to tell others and makes you feel like you have grown as a person.  Then go share it with the world!!

See my list below:  My 2019 Accomplishments

  1. Started MySemiBasicLife.com blog and InstaGram account
  2. Grew organically from 150 followers to 1250 followers
  3. Helped teaching my youngest to read and my oldest to read and rehearse lines for a major part in a play
  4. Bought 1st rental property end of March 2019
  5. Bought 2nd rental property in August 2019
  6. Bought 3rd rental property in December 2019 (this one with a full cosmetic rehab)
  7. Was a guest on not one, but two podcasts, and submitted an idea to one of my favorite podcasts, and got to speak with the producer and provide input on a new series (can’t share any more info..sworn to secrecy..lol)
  8. Became debt free after selling our cars and paying off the remaining of our $165,000 in consumer debt. Nobody to impress now that I’ve changed my value system and if I don’t have the cash for it, then I’m not buying it.
  9. Completed a No Spend Year of no clothes, shoes, accessories, purses, makeup, haircuts/dye. Turns out I don’t give a shit what others think of me after all, and I don’t need makeup or new clothes to try and impress anyone.  “Letting myself go” in the eyes of society by not wearing makeup, rocking my grey hair, and not buying the latest clothing trends feels a lot more like getting comfortable in my own skin.  I’ve never felt prettier on the inside and out then I do right now.  I also learned to cut my own hair..not getting accepted into cosmetology school anytime soon..lol, but I can do it and it’s fun and free.
  10. Joined a real estate mastermind group and joined a local real estate investors group and have networked and made several great connections in the industry
  11. Attempted my first seller finance deal (didn’t work out but was a great learning experience and made some new connections in the process)
  12. Helped land a few really big accounts at work that required a lot of work and were out of my comfort zone
  13. Was matched with a little sister through Big Brothers/Big Sisters and continued to volunteer on the family selection committee for Habitat for Humanity
  14. Survived a lot of loss including losing a good friend to glioblastoma, losing my dog of 17 years, losing a terminal puppy we adopted, a dwarf hamster, and a pet rat. Lastly, there was an advanced stage breast cancer diagnosis for my mom with lots of biopsies, dr visits, chemo rounds, lots of soups/casseroles and will be leading in to surgery/radiation/hormone replacement in 2020.
  15. Started a gratitude journal that I write in every night.
  16. Started a daily morning meditation and manifesting the life I want practice.
  17. After my leg injury finally healed, was back up to running over 5 miles until I got bit by the neighbor’s dog..lol
  18. Stopped two nasty habits that I have battled on/off for years, smoking and drinking.  I still occasionally have a beer or drink, but not like I used to and have been smoke free since 6/1/19!!  I’m now focused on enjoying my current situation more and building a life I don’t need to escape from.  No judgment to my friends that are still doing these things..just doesn’t fit in my life any longer.
  19. I read 45 books this year!!
  20. Experienced 6 figure net worth growth through all of the above focus, hustle and sacrifice

Wow..I DID ALL OF THAT IN ONE YEAR??!!  I did notice that I didn’t have as much of a focus on my marriage or kids this past year, and plan to make sure I am placing more focus on those areas of my life in 2020.  Of all of those accomplishments, I am most proud of the self love and belief that I can do anything..because clearly I can after seeing my list!!  Also, with the belief in myself, I have noticed my risk tolerance is completely different.  I am ready to take on risks instead of turning away from them, because I know I will learn and grow from any mistakes, so bring them on!

Did you write a list of goals at the beginning of 2019 that you can compare your end of 2019 accomplishments to?  If not, no worries, because  I didn’t write any goals out at the beginning of the year either.  2020 marks the beginning of a new decade and new opportunities to start fresh for all of us.  Make it the year you stop saying “someday” and finally replace it with today.

Anyone else brave enough to share their year in review??!!

Shout out for NO SPEND SATURDAY

OK so we DID get our Costco groceries haul for December, but just necessities..right along with milk and eggs, Cheez-it’s are totally necessary right?! Also, my uncle and cousin were passing through town and kind enough to take us out to lunch so we could catch up.

2.6 mile trail walk with kids FREE

Impromptu photo shoot FREE

Finding a tree stump to sketch FREE

Finding a cool leaf FREE

New walking stick FREE

New pet caterpillar FREE

Is it just me, or have you noticed that the less you spend, the more freedom you have to enjoy yourself?!

No stress of watching your hard earned money leave your bank account or worrying about if you got someone the right thing or if it’s the right size or color or whatever the many stressors that come with shopping are. No stress about how the other bills are going to get paid now that you decided to make this purchase, or the extra hours it will take to cover what you spent. I know that when I spend money, the dynamic changes. I now have expectations and pressure to make sure it’s a fun time or a good meal or the best most memorable gift. Maybe it’s just me, but if I take spending out of the equation, then I literally don’t have to worry about it. It then becomes about enjoying the moments and making memories with my peeps.

The weekends, and especially those leading up to the holidays are HARD. Everyone has a deal going and all of our senses are inundated with smells of candles or food, seeing a must have item advertised for $5 off, touching all those soft blankets and stuffed animals, hearing the ads and workers at the store telling us today is our last chance, etc. This is all that most of us are used to..our society has been like this for as long as I can remember, and as long as we continue to consume at the rate we do, nothing will change. We truly have to make an effort to avoid, so if you are able to stay strong on any shopping front, you are winning. A great way is to start with a No Spend day or weekend. Another great way to do so is 1) to set a Holiday budget and 2) stick to it. Know who is on your list, know how much you want to spend, and make sure you have the funds to cover any of this. If not, your family and friends would much rather you bake some cookies, or spend time with them than to have you go into debt to show your love. Trust me on this one!!

Who else left their stress at home and their money in the bank today? Any other tips for surviving the holiday season?

Haircuts At Home

Well..against several people’s wishes 🤣 I went for it and cut a little over an inch off using the Unicorn method. 💇🏼 🦄

BEFORE:

My thoughts 💭 ummm..I wish I would have tried this sooner!! I haven’t looked at the back, but my husband said it was straight, and he has to be seen with me, so pretty sure I can trust him. I feel very accomplished trying something that terrified myself and many others for me to try. It was actually so super easy, only took about 5 minutes, and was absolutely FREE. (my husband had scissors so I didn’t have to buy anything) ✂️

AFTER:

Just kidding 🤣..

THE REAL AFTER:

My family may be a little scared of me venturing out to their heads next, but going to try and earn their trust through “gentle” persuasion and possibly bribery . 💁‍♀️

With a family of four averaging $25 per cut, that adds up to around $900 a year and $15k over an 18 year period. This doesn’t include color, which I already stopped all together 9 months ago, or eyebrow maintenance, which I’m still trying to navigate on my own, literally one tweeze at a time (had a bad home wax incident of 2013 I’m still recovering from). 😬

The verdict: Go get you some nice shears, watch a few YouTube tutorials, put on a brave face, and go for it! If it goes well, send me a shout out. If it doesn’t go well, take comfort in knowing it will grow back soon. 🤷‍♀️

What can you do with that $15k I just saved your family? Feel free to Venmo it to me. 🤑

What else do you do at home or what should I try next on my new DIY kick?!

(Disclaimer: I am not a cosmetologist and your results may vary, so you have been warned that it’s all on you whatever actions you decide to take after reading this)

This is us

I thought with all the new followers, it’s a good time to re-introduce the magic behind mysemibasiclife (you read that right..I totally referred to myself as the magic). To celebrate, my daughter humored me with a photo shoot, and my favorite was one of the bloopers. 😜

Sometimes life is more about what happens behind the scenes, between the “perfect” pictures, when you’re trying to pose and get the best lighting, hide that lazy eye, those wrinkles and those frizzy grey hairs. She captured all of these things, all of my imperfections, including crows feet I didn’t even know were there. How fitting to show my imperfections to all of you who have been following along on my imperfect journey to financial freedom. This is me..always laughing at my own jokes, never taking things too seriously, currently staring off into space like only a true dreamer can do. 🤷‍♀️

This is the entire family that puts up with my latest crazy schemes, understands the bigger picture behind those crazy schemes, sometimes appreciates my hilariously witty comments and penny pinching ways, and packs in the car with me for that fifth trip to the library in a two day period. 😂

You weren’t there for the early years, the dark debt days 😬 where we were living beyond our means and got ourselves into a financial spot where all of our paychecks were going towards debt. But you have now followed along as we ditched the debt, got rid of car payments and paid our last student loan off, which puts us at a grand total of $165,000 in consumer debt paid off!! You’re following as I am feeling weak, but holding strong and halfway through my #nospendyear. You followed along as we bought our first rental property and are following along now as we now search for the next one. 👀

We are excited to continue sharing our life after debt journey, including our ever changing goals, working on growing our net worth, celebrating the success, overcoming the setbacks, and the blood, sweat and tears along the way as we define what financial independence looks like for our family. 🔥

Enough about us though..I want to hear from you..what’s your story? What topics that I’ve covered have helped or would help you along your journey?

What questions do you have for me?

👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼

No Spend Challenge 2019

It always starts over a few drinks and a friend saying something like “yeah I am going to try not to buy any new clothes for the entire year of 2019”. Usually you would think in your head that your friend is a little crazy and that’s why you love them. But I’ve had a few drinks..so the idea seems like the best one ever, and I’m all like “hold my drink..let’s do this”. My competitive nature also kicks in to say..oh yeah..you are totally winning this challenge. Even though there is literally no prize because you can’t spend money. 💰

I guess the prize is keeping my decluttered closet decluttered and probably truck loads of time and money saved not going to Target for “batteries”. Why with another crazy challenge Mindy? Didn’t you JUST clean out your closet and don’t you really NEED new things now? Two simple answers 1) NO I don’t NEED anything new and TBH..I do NOT really enjoy shopping that much 2) I do enjoy being debt free and I’m so close to that finish 🏁 I can almost taste it, so I need some fuel to get me across that line.

So you heard it here first. I, Mindy Templeton, of sound mind and body, promise that for the entire 365 days of 2019, I will not buy any clothes or accessories, so no shoes, purses, jewelry, etc. I only have 355 days left right?! Wish me luck 😉