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My First Guest Post!: The Money Diet

September 19th, 2009

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.

Stephanie
http://bonjourmadamestephanie.blogspot.com/

  1. September 19th, 2009 at 18:12 | #1

    Wow, Stephanie, great post! I like the tip about identifying your usual suspects. My bad one is definitely ebay – I will buy way more than I would in person, I guess because it doesn’t seem “real.” But little things add up!

    Congrats on being debt free! That makes you one of three people I know who are (the others are my parents 🙂

  2. September 20th, 2009 at 07:17 | #2

    Thanks for the tips, Stephanie.

    I also HIGHLY recommend Dave Ramsey! I’m also debt free, except for the mortgage, but listen to his radio show daily to stay motivated.

  3. September 20th, 2009 at 09:06 | #3

    Kristi – Thanks for letting me guest post!
    Victoria – I’ve had my issues with ebay too 🙂
    Phyllis – Dave Ramsey is my financial hero. I think he talks so much sense when nobody else out there really does in the TV and news sector. He’s very motivating to me too.

  4. BethG
    September 20th, 2009 at 12:15 | #4

    Thank you for summarizing this program so beautifully! I’ve poked around in the FC files and found a lot of information spread around, but your post is concise and detailed. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference and inspiration. I am lucky enough to be debt free except for my mortgage but definitely need to save more. I love the idea of a focus, a plan, a major goal — a trip to Paris sounds like heaven.

  5. Jean
    September 20th, 2009 at 20:10 | #5

    Bravo Stephanie! I remember Marline – another gifted writer with a talent for translating fresh ideas into applicable suggestions. . . just like you’ve done here.

  6. Ruth Lloyd
    September 21st, 2009 at 20:24 | #6

    I was an early member of the FC yahoo group, and I remember the Regime Fric posts, I haven’t followed it too well, but all of you inspire me. Marline’s posts were a delight; it’s great to find Kristi and Stephanie, you both are great writers as well.

    Thanks and keep up the good work 🙂 I’m off to read Dave Ramsey! Maybe I’d better check the book out of the library.

    Ruthie

    • Kristi
      September 22nd, 2009 at 06:57 | #7

      I adore Marline’s writing!

Comments are closed.










What is it about those Italian women? You know the ones I’m talking about: beautiful, sexy, dressed to the nines just to take the kids to the park. They have a certain something that is indefinable. It is in the way they dress, the way they prepare their meals, the way they spend their leisure time.

It is because they know the importance of la bella figura. Roughly translated from Italian, it means putting you best foot forward in everything you do. It means cutting a beautiful figura. The opposite of la bella figura is la brutta figura, which is what someone might say about the falling down drunken guy at the party or the super tackily dressed woman at church. It means ugly figure.

La bella figura is much more than your appearance. It goes much deeper than that. It is about how you act. It is about how you treat others. It is about how you care for yourself, your home and your family. Living a life in line with la bella figura doesn’t take money. In fact, it is more about how to have class without a lot of money.

Someone who exudes la bella figura will have clean, pressed clothes and be well groomed. They will not be rude or sloppy. Their fingernails will be impeccably groomed. Their hair shiny and clean and their shoes will be polished. They will not have stray threads hanging from their suit hems. They will not be driving a car in need of the car wash.

La bella figura means driving that 15 year old car and meticulously cleaning it and caring for it. It means keeping your belongings in good repair. It means taking time to clean your house and not cluttering it up with meaningless objects.

When you focus all your spare energy, time and money on the things that bring you the most amount of pleasure, then you are truly living a life in line with la bella figura. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be Italian to do so. You just have to think like an Italian.

Italian children are raised to present la bella figura in whatever they do. From the time they are small and are groomed perfectly to attend church or school, they know that appearances count. They count because it is the first thing people judge about you. That first impression does matter. Appearances are also important because when you take the time to look nice, you are showing that you care about yourself. When you care enough to look good, it shows you have good healthy self esteem. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

In addition, dressing nice also shows respect for others. If you invite people over for dinner and greet them in flip flops, baggy sweats and a stained shirt, it is really disrespectful to them. The same if you dress sloppy to go to church or even to the market. By dressing nicely and being well groomed, you show respect for everyone in your world.

Having la bella figura means presenting yourself in the best light possible in all your interactions.