I am thrilled to have Stephanie from Bonjour Madame, someone I admire enormously, write my first guest post. Thank you so much Stephanie! You are always an inspiration to me. I won’t waste time with my words, but rather defer to hers. Enjoy:
The Money Diet
Kristi graciously asked me to guest post on the topic of money. Specifically “The Money Diet.” I would like to state that The Money Diet or Regime Fric is something I read on the French Chic (Yahoo) boards years ago and it was originally written by a talented writer and board member, Marline. It inspired me so much to change the way I treated money and that change stuck with me and changed my financial life for the better. I’d like to share why it inspired me so much.
Marline approached this strategy in such a way that made the project fun. She related the money diet to strategies outlined in Mireille Guiliano’s “French Women Don’t Get Fat” book. As women, we can probably all relate to an actual diet.
Step one …”round up the usual suspects”. What are you buying repeatedly? Especially those things that you already have enough. If you don’t know what these are, keep all of your receipts for three weeks. Review all of your receipts and start writing down the trends. Take note of not only what you are buying, but how often and how much. For me, it’s lipstick, skin care, books, magazines,tea from the coffee shop, and clothes. Write it down.
Step two … where are you spending? Is it online, the mall, extra items in the grocery store, bookstores or coffee shops? Write it down and devise a plan to avoid these temptations. These are your offenders and while you are paying off debt, should probably be avoided. Stop going to the mall. I’m being sarcastic, but it’s amazing how well this works! Just avoid that particular place that you overspend. Realize mindless shopping is an attempt to fill a void in your life.
Step three … have patience and develop rituals. While you are not spending on needless items, put that money toward paying off debt until it’s gone. Embrace organization and cleanliness. If you take care of what you own now, you will appreciate it more and realize you have everything you need already. Organize your bills. Make bill paying a pleasant experience. It can be done! Fix a cup of tea, put on relaxing music, place your bills on your clean table, use a nice pen, and relax a little.
Step four … picture yourself where you want to be financially and have a goal. It’s important to have a dream for your future both involving sound finances and a splurge. What do you want to do? Take a trip to Paris or Rome? Buy a fabulous pair of shoes? It can be big or small but it must motivate you. Mine is another trip to Paris. I think about strolling along the Seine, sitting at a cafe, shopping for something special in Paris (and paying cash) and it always stops me in my tracks with whatever I’m about to buy.
Consider writing down on paper your new story. How do you want to be financially in the future? Write down how you will treat money, organize your finances, live stress and debt free, and have extra money to do the things you’ve always dreamed about. Make it fun and be specific. Use your imagination!
Finally, these are a few of my tips that I’ve learned throughout the years from experience. Always live below your means. It’s the only way to have extra cash to save for your future goals. If you are constantly spending everything you make, it will never happen. Resist the urge to continue trading up your house and know that it is possible to pay off your mortgage in much less time than your original loan. Aim high!
Learn that it’s OK to be different. Even when your friends think your decisions are strange, learn to be at peace with it and know that what you are doing is the right thing for you. Make a list of free and inexpensive things you can do that enhance your life and do them regularly. Create a savings account for your specific short term goals. I’ve got one titled “Paris” and it’s an absolute joy to make deposits into this account. It’s separate from other investments and savings accounts.
One of the things my husband and I do too often is eat out. I actually prefer to eat at home because it’s healthier and more relaxing. I can control the ingredients and practice becoming a better cook.
If you like a more technical approach, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover”. It will explain how to get out of debt and approach it with great intensity. It’s a great book. I tape his show on the Fox Business Network every day and watch them when I have free time to continue to stay motivated, even though I am debt free. I need constant motivation to continue to save for what is important and staying focused on a more frugal lifestyle helps.
I also recommend that you visit the FC boards and search for these older posts by Marline. They are treasures and I hope that she knows how much of an impression they made on me years ago.