Category Archive: Motivation

I Still Buy Stuff I Do Not Need

I have been writing about personal finance (as in, my own) for nearly a decade.  In that time, I’ve had some financial success – paying off my consumer debt, purchasing a new home – and some blogging success – mentioned in the New York Times, interviewed on television and on radio – but the truth is: I still buy stuff I do not need.

I also use unnecessary dashes and commas when I write, but that’s a topic for another day.

Convenience Items – I am a sucker for anything that makes life easier.  I tend to spend too much on convenience items – because, you know, they’re convenient.

Tools – I love new tools, used tools, old tools, broken tools, cheap tools, and expensive tools.  My woodworking skills are minimal, at best, but I love hanging in the shop and building stuff.  The problem is – I’ll buy tools, just to own them.  While not a complete waste, I do have to pace myself.

Entertainment – Dude, we went to one of those 3D-surround-cinemas the other night – and we were out nearly $100 for the 5 of us!  (The movie, by the way, was awesome.)  My kids are still young, but growing up so fast, that it’s easy to justify the expense.  (They’ll only be young once…)  But, I need to do a better job of finding inexpensive, but still awesome, things to do.

Snacks – Again, we have three kids – and it’s super-simple to pull into the convenience store, pick up a few snacks, and head down the road.  Obviously, this isn’t the healthiest thing in the world (although, I will say, my kids are all in very good shape, and eat less junk food than I did at their ages).  We’re working on packing healthy snacks, prior to trips and vacations, as well as for school lunches.

Entertaining – This one is a little different.  We often have folks over to our home – and I often am in charge of large group outings – and I tend to over-spend when preparing meals and get-togethers.  (On some level, even though I’m a guy, I think I would make a pretty decent grandmother.)  I like for folks to be comfortable when they come over, so I always buy more-than-enough.  I’m not so sure this is a bad thing, so I’m not going to beat myself up over this one.  Sharing a meal with friends or family is one of life’s great blessings.

I’m a relatively frugal person, but I do have areas where I struggle and I still buy stuff I do not need.  How about you?  Do you have any areas where you are not as frugal as you’d like to be?  Leave a comment below or via Twitter @NCN.

Side note – For me, if I know I have an area where I might spend more than I should – I don’t ignore it.  I put it in the budget.  If I’m going to spend more than I “should” – I, at a minimum, want to plan for it.  The last thing I want to do is over-spend, and use credit.  Worst-case, I pay cash and it’s in the budget.

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How To Stay Motivated While Getting Out Of Debt

Let’s be real.  The idea of getting out of debt sounds awesome.  The day-to-day grind of getting out of debt… not so much.

Here’s how to stay motivated while getting out of debt –

Celebrate Your Progress – Check those numbers and get excited about the amount of debt you have already paid off!  For our family, we are working to pay off our mortgage (update this week!) – and while our progress has been a little slower than we had hoped – we are 1/4 of the way there!  It’s super-motivating to see just how far we have come.

Connect With Others – This has been very important for our family.  (So much so, that I started No Credit Needed just to share our story with others.)  Whether it’s a family member, a friend or two, a group at church, or just a shout out on twitter (Shameless plug – Follow me @NCN and let me know how you are doing!) – find someone and share your journey with them.

Remember Why You Started – For me, my debt reduction journey began with the birth of my second child.  I was broke – even though I had been working since I was 15 – and I was scared.  My motivation was to provide a more secure financial future for my kids and our family.  Whenever I get frustrated with my progress, this motivation… well… motivates me!

getting out of debt

Set A Short-term Goal – If getting out of debt is going to take you several years, set a short-term goal.  Focus on making a few extra dollars via eBay, or making an extra micro-payment or two.  I’m always looking for ways to save a dollar or two – and I’ll often set short-term, month-long, goals.  Meeting these goals keeps me moving forward.

Get Some Exercise – This sounds weird, but focusing exclusively on our finances can be exhausting.  Unfortunately, entertainment can be exhausting – and sitting around the house watching television can lead to overeating – and overspending.  So, spend a day at the park, or a day at the lake, or a few hours on the bike.  Do something to change up your routine – and you just might change your attitude.

Do Some Giving – When getting out of debt, it was easy for me to become “me” focused.  So, I made it a point – and still do – to find ways to give-back, to my church, or to a friend, or to the community.  Helping others always motivates me to become a wiser and better financial steward, plus its a blessing to be a blessing.

Talk With Your Spouse – My wife is a constant source of encouragement.  When I’m feeling down – about finances or anything else – she’s always there with words of encouragement, reminding me of how hard we have worked and how far we have come.  Make a date with your spouse and dream-big about the future that you are working hard to secure.

Getting out of debt takes four things – money, a plan, determination…and time.  Let’s all keep moving forward!  You rock!  Be blessed.

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10 Debt Reduction Quick Tips

Are you working hard to get out of consumer debt? Awesome! Check out these 10 Quick Tips – ways to decrease spending, increase savings, and speed up your debt reduction –

Early and Often

After making regular monthly payments on all accounts, make extra principal-only payments as soon – and as often – as you can. This will help to decrease your average daily balance – and lower monthly interest charges!

Sell, Sell, Sell

Use eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, or have a yard sale, and sell something – or lots of somethings – this week. Use that money pay down debt. I find that kids’ clothing is a great seller on eBay.

Sort and Roll

Sort through your spare change. Look for older coins, because some may contain silver! Do a quick online search for exact dates. Then, roll the non-silver coins, take them to your bank, cash them in, and use the proceeds to pay down your debt. Only have $5 in coins? That’s $5 closer to your goal! (My son collects coins, and has a nice stack of silver-containing dimes, nickels, and half-dollars. Pretty cool.)


I used to struggle with impulse purchases.  I would buy stuff, put it in the closet, and never use it.  If this sounds familiar, go to your closet, gather that stuff (along with receipts) and return it.  Your credit card balance will decrease – and you’ll never miss the stuff.  (Obviously, be sure that you are in alignment with each store’s returns policy.)

Stop the Drip

Do you have monthly or quarterly subscriptions to various services – that you don’t really need or use. Stop them. $9 here, $7 there, and these things can add up. When we were getting out of debt, we cancelled our satellite radio service.  We used the extra money to speed up our debt reduction process.

Do It Yourself

Have you checked out Youtube lately? No, not for the latest cat-falling-off-couch video. Youtube is loaded with awesome DIY tutorials. Just this past year, I learned how to replace a sink, repair an air conditioner, and build a desk.  Tackle projects within your comfort-zone and save money.

Slow Down

Getting out of debt takes time – energy – and money.  Instead of spending so much time on the go, take some time to slow down.  Spend less on gas, eating out, and entertainment.  Instead, enjoy friends and family.  Recently, we had a neighborhood-wide party.  We pitched horseshoes, played some ladder-golf, and grilled hotdogs.  For just a few dollars, we had hours and hours of fun.  Plus, we were able to get to know our neighbors and make new friends.  $6 for a pack of hotdog buns and some lemonade surely beats $60 for a trip to the movies and $50 for supper.

Plant Something

I have come to believe that planting a garden – even a very, very small, fits-in-one-pot-on-a-windowsill garden – is extremely important.  There is something about taking one seed, putting it in the ground, giving it a little water, some sunlight, and a little fertilizer, and watching it grow that is just plain good for the human soul.  And, seeing this “one” turn into “many” is inspiring.  For less than $10 in seeds, my kids and I plan to grow several meals-worth of vegetables this summer.

Pay Attention

Check every bill.  Scan every receipt.  Logi n to your bank accounts.  Look for over-charges and mistakes.  Verify payment postings.  Take the time, often, to be sure that your money, and your payments, are going where you intend for them to go.  Be intentional.  Debt reduction can be slow.  In the down-time, check and re-check for opportunities to save and reduce.


Find someone – a spouse, a friend, someone from church – and share your journey with them.  (For me, I started this blog – and it changed my life.)  You don’t have to share with the entire world, but find someone who will celebrate your accomplishments, and push you when you get stuck.  Seriously, this really, really, really helps.

You rock!


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Get Out of Debt – Get Focused and Get Free

Several years ago, my wife and I decided to get out of debt.  That decision changed our lives.  We focused our time, effort, and energy – and paid off all of our consumer debt.  We paid off our cars and our credit cards – we were free.

Some time later, we made a down-payment on a new home and I changed jobs.  We were able to take both of these “life steps” because we were free from the burden of consumer debt.  Without automobile payments and credit card debt, we were able to save up for a down-payment.  Without monthly payments to creditors, I was able to go after a new job opportunity  – a new ministry – and not worry about a change in salary.

Getting out of debt starts out, for most folks, as a “math problem”.  Interest rates are compared, monthly payments are accounted for, and loan terms are considered.  At some point, the “math” has to give way to the “focus”.  We had to get focused and move past merely talking about getting out of debt or dreaming about getting out of debt – and we actually had to take the steps to get out of debt.

The hard work and determination – they were worth it.  Sure, we missed out on some fun and convenience, but only for a short time.  Now, we are able to focus on saving money and planning for our retirement.  Our financial focus is on the future and not on the past.

Interest rates matter (which is why I love the idea of transferring high-interest debt via balance transfer to a zero-interest credit card) – but to move forward, we had to deal with principal.  We had to see those balances for what they were: dead weight.  We didn’t simply create a plan, we used the plan.  Getting out of debt became our hyper-focus, because getting out of debt became our fixed goal.  Determined to succeed, we handled both victories and setbacks, but we did not allow either to alter our steady, day-after-day progress.

We didn’t succeed because we came up with some super-secret formula – or because we gave up every convenience and moved into a cave.  In fact, much of our life remained the same.  We simply took the time to become better managers of our money, more conscious about our spending habits, and more determined to do “smart things” with our cash.  It’s cliche, but true – If we could do it, anyone can do it.

This post was written for those encouraged and/or and frustrated by the debt reduction process.  Remember why you started out in the first place – for the freedom that’s at the end of the fight.  It. Is. Worth. It.  Keep going – and if you fallen behind, today is that new day.  Get focused.  Get free.  Be blessed.

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