I've got super big news! My book, The Spender's Guide to Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get From Broke to Badass in Record Time is now available for pre-order! If you follow me on social media you saw that I received my first copy of the real-live, actual book just a couple days ago, and I tell you what, I was so nervous to open the package and then I cried once I saw it. Seeing my finished book in print was such a HUGE moment. I feel like I've been working on it forever and it's really the culmination of so much hardwork!
Also, I've got to tell you that I am so beyond happy that I now have an easy way to share exactly how to do a Spending Fast. The blog is obviously helpful but my book is a step-by-step how to guide that shows you how to do a Spending Fast and get out of debt super quick just like I did. The book is full of tips, insights from experts, anecdotes from my life during the Spending Fast and tons of other fun things are included. I hope you absolutely love it!
Also, today I'm thrilled to share the cover of the book with you along with an excerpt from the introduction of the book. The book is now available for pre-order so here are some links for you so you can buy it from your favorite retailer! It will be in stores on April 26, 2016!
An excerpt from The Spender's Guide to Debt-Free Living
CAN A SPENDER REALLY LIVE DEBT-FREE?
A few years ago I realized I was stuck in a bad pattern. Often I would find myself telling everyone I owed money to that there just wasn’t any left after the bills were paid. Even though I always had the cutest clothes and latest gadgets, I was living paycheck to paycheck. And, despite working more than forty hours a week, I had nothing left to pay back the debts that constantly hung overhead. Deep down, though, I knew the truth. I knew that while I was having a hard time paying back the money I owed to others, when it came down to it, I was always able to find money when I wanted something. I told myself that I didn’t want to spend the way I did but, really, who was I kidding? I liked it. And I still like spending money, I like new things. I love unique, one-of-a-kind, quirky things. I live for finding that perfect shirt, or decoration for my house. You see, I’m a Spender. I love the hunt. I love the excitement of finding that item I’ve been looking everywhere for. Adrenaline flows through me, and I happily hand over my money. Me, a self-proclaimed “Natural Spender” who came out of the womb with a buck burning a hole in my pocket ever living debt-free? Not likely. I knew that since I couldn’t budget, a debt-free life was not in the cards for me. I knew that if budgeting had anything to do with living debt-free I was totally screwed. Plus, I had halfheartedly tried at least a dozen different methods to try to get my act together. After each failed attempt, I’d tell myself that next month would be The Month that I’d finally be able to nail down this “spending too much” issue and I’d finally get the debt under control. But that next month was always just outside of my grip. “Getting things under control” was elusive. I wanted to find a way to rein in my finances, but the solution I was seeking had to be extremely effective and keep me motivated. It also had to be simple and straightforward. I could never find the right getting-out-of- debt combo—until I did.
When I wrote my very first blog post for my website, AndThenWeSaved.com, I was casually sharing about this semicrazy idea that I had: I would go an entire year spending money only on necessities, just to see what would happen. I wanted to see if I could take on a challenge like that. Sure, I wanted to believe I could go a whole year without spending on anything but needs, but I was the biggest skeptic of all. I knew myself. I knew how much I loved to spend money. I thought that maybe if I went public about my debt and about how much it weighed on me, I’d be more likely to stick to the plan and not immediately ditch the entire idea once things got difficult. When I put myself out there, when I made myself vulnerable, and when I started to share the dirty, honest details about my debt on my website, something amazing happened. While the shame I felt about getting myself into a big financial mess didn’t instantly disappear, I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only one struggling to find a way to get out of debt that would actually work. Turns out that other people had trouble following a budget too. Some people were also spending money on crazy things, as I had been doing. And while the readers of my blog were coming from different backgrounds and were coping with different situations, the universal theme was that we all felt hope- less and ashamed of the messes we had gotten into with our spending. We all wanted, and desperately needed, a way out that would work—and quickly. I will always be grateful to the people who shared, and continue to share, their stories with me:
“Unplanned expenses keep popping up. Medical bills, car repairs, friends’ weddings, baby showers, and so on.”
“I just don’t make enough money.” “I sit at a desk in a very stressful job. Shopping online makes me feel better, so I spend money instead of saving and paying down debt.”
It was helpful to know that I wasn’t the only person who felt out of control with my finances. But another commonality appeared from the e-mails I was receiving from readers. People were getting motivated by my experience and started asking me for help with their Spending Fasts, a year-long period of spending money only on what is absolutely needed. That’s when I realized that people were relying on me. They were actually coming to me for solutions. It turns out that they too had been tormented by the loud, constant swirling chatter of thoughts: But I want it. I deserve it. It’s such a good deal! It’s so cute! It’s perfect! It’s not that expensive. Many of my readers also felt so crip- pled by their debt that they didn’t see a way out. The debt had become all-consuming. Some even felt they would die in debt. It turns out that this is a pretty common feeling today. According to a survey by creditcards.com, nearly one in five consumers with loans said they think they will never be able to finish paying off their debt.
That’s a pretty grim feeling, and there was definitely a time when I didn’t think getting out of debt could be real for me, either. And that’s why my blog and this book exist—because it is possible to get out of debt, and it can be done very quickly. I want to help you picture a life without debt, shame, worry, and anxiety. The feel-like-shit cycle can end right here, right now. It’s hard work, and it can be easy to take the view that getting out of debt and spending money “normally” just won’t happen. But it can! As you’ll soon see, I learned there is a sweet spot between “Spend All the Money!” and “Spend No Money!”
For me, getting out of debt was about having choices: not having to take a job I despise simply because I needed the paycheck, and being able to spend my money on things that are important to me. I wanted my financial life to be about more than just covering my minimum balance each month or not bouncing a check. There are so many reasons that making the sacrifices to get out of debt are worth it, and I’m grate- ful that my readers shared their thoughts on this topic. They all said it was worth it because:
“I want to work less and travel!”
“It’s affecting the decisions I want to make.”
“My debt is weighing me down.”
“I want my money to go toward things that help me reach my goals and my dreams.”
“I want to get married and have a family someday.”
“I’m sick of skimping on life because I’m spending $600 a month on credit card payments.”
“I want to be able to retire.”
“I don’t want to have to worry about the future.”
Whatever makes getting out of debt worth it to you, know you can get there. I wrote this book because I’m a regular person, just like you. I’m not a personal finance legend like Robert Kiyosaki, Suze Orman, or Dave Ramsey. I didn’t go to school to study finance or economics, and I don’t have an MBA. I’m a woman who spent recklessly and got into a lot of debt, and I went through a ton of pain as a result of it. It turns out that the answer for me was a Spending Fast. By making that one big decision to start the Spending Fast, I in effect also made a ton of little decisions. Even though that decision required sacrifice and hard work, it also made my life a whole lot easier. The Spending Fast enabled me to get out of debt very, very quickly, after years of feeling like it would be completely impossible. This book is about how I did it, but it’s also about what I learned along the way. The changes I made, the realizations I had, and how I turned these realizations into a brand-new, healthy relationship with money.
At the end of each chapter you’ll find a list of things you can do as you’re reading along to help you throughout the process. These “Let’s Do This!” lists show you the actions I took at each stage of the Spending Fast. They’re bite-sized steps that you can take to become debt-free just like I did with the Spending Fast.
I Don’t Care How Much You Owe or How Much You Make
It doesn’t matter what kind of debt you have. Maybe you’ve never used a credit card in your life (and I bow to you), but you’re struggling to pay your student loans. My debt was a wicked combination of credit card debt and educational loans. Some people are stuck paying off giant medical bills. Or maybe you just convinced yourself that you deserve European vacations every year even though they’re completely out of the range of your budget. Maybe you lost your job and didn’t have a cushion to fall back on, so you fell on your credit cards instead, maxing them out in the process. Maybe your debt seemed relatively small compared to that of your friends, so you never ad- dressed it, but you want to now. Maybe your senior years caught up with you, and you haven’t put any money aside. My point is, it doesn’t matter if you made some bad decisions (who hasn’t?) or if you’re saddled with massive student loans. The process I followed works no matter what situation you’re in. You can use the Spending Fast method to get out of debt quickly—or to save money ASAP.
It also doesn’t matter how much money you make. Being in debt is not the natural result of making a small salary. Countless people who earn large salaries have also gotten themselves deeply in debt by overspending or losing their income. My point is that getting out of debt is about facing the choices you’ve made and it’s about having the guts to turn your situation around. Being debt-free didn’t happen to me. It wasn’t luck that got me out of debt. It wasn’t chance. I’m debt-free because I made the choice to be, and you can too. Also, I want you to know that you don’t have to do it alone. At the time of this writing, readers of AndThenWeSaved.com have saved over a million dollars using the Spending Fast and Spending Diet methods—and the number keeps going up! My website has many helpful tools and strategies to support you, and you can connect with other Spending Fasters on the And Then We Saved social media pages—Facebook (facebook.com/AndThenWeSaved), Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter (@annanewelljones).
Please don’t give up before you even get started by telling yourself it’s just not going to happen on your yearly salary of $20,000, $30,000, or $150,000. Your journey toward being debt-free is not about the number on your paycheck; it’s about your commitment to developing a new, healthier relationship with money. You absolutely can do this! Don’t let debt, of all things, keep you from living the life you were meant to live.