Living Without Credit Tips

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A couple of months ago I switched to a cash only lifestyle.  It hasn’t been easy, and I haven’t been perfect.  This is how I’ve been making it work.

for those that are serious about the cash only lifestyle

for those that are serious about the cash only lifestyle

Tip 1: Plan for expenses well in advance.  There are times when I just couldn’t escape charging something to a credit card.  Today I had to pre-order a specialty pie for a dinner I’m going to tomorrow.  Because it’s a special order over the phone, the bakery needed me to pre-pay.  As I gave them my credit card number over the phone I was whinging.  It could have been avoided if I just planned in advance and had gone in person to pay in cash.  I’ve had a couple of other slip ups along the way and pretty much all of them were do to bad planning.

Tip 2: Link Paypal to your bank account.  I took advantage of some online Boxing Day sales.  Online shopping = credit card spending… wrong!  A lot of websites give the option to pay by credit cards or by paypal.  Paypal gives you the option to use a credit card or to withdraw funds directly from your bank account.  It’s not exactly using cash, but it’s a better option than relying on a credit card.

Tip 3: Use pro-pay.  I have a home-based business and my commission is paid to a Master Card/debit card on a weekly basis.  I use this card to pay for websites that do not let me pay through Paypal.  There aren’t any additional costs to me, and although it says Master Card, I can’t charge anything to it.  It’s a bit like a pre-paid card, except there aren’t any service charges.

Tip 4: Wait 24 hours.  I have found that a lot of expenses don’t seem that necessary after a while.  Or sometimes I have found a new way to work it into the budget

Tip 5: set up recurring bill payments.  All of my bill payments have been set up to happen automatically.  Once a week I take out $100 for my grocery money.  I have a $30 slush fund that is used for gas/entertainment or unexpected things.  This is probably the only thing that I still use my debit card for, but it’s only once a month or so.  Because every thing is done automatically, I know that as long as I have stuck to my cash budget, I don’t need to check my bank account balance or worry about when bills are going to be withdrawn.  It’s stress-free and simple.

DIY Bedside Table

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I love this bedside table.  I want it to be my bedside table but it’s not the right height.  So how is this DIY free?

I am a craigslist free section addict, with some good timing and some well worded email, you can scoop all sorts of stuff for free.  Usually the stuff is being given away due to a move, renovation or simply no longer wanted.  A word of caution here, there is all sorts of dodgy stuff, use your best judgement.  A couple of times I have changed my mind about the item once they told me the pick-up address.

I nabbed this bedside table and one other table via craigslist.  We made arrangements for me to pick-up both tables one afternoon from a nice townhouse complex.  It’s vintage, solid wood, no cheap particle board here.  When I got it, it was painted cream and bubble-gum pink, and came with a few stickers.  Perfect for a 6 year olds bedroom, but not very nice looking.  I apologise for not having a before picture, I had one but poof! it’s gone.

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So the bedside table itself was free, and the paint was paint I had leftover from another project.

Step 1- Clean the table- nothing fancy, just soap and water

Step 2- Deal with any chips, or other lumps and bumps.  For big problems I use a tiny bit of mud – the same mud that is used to fill holes in walls.  Smooth it down, once dry, sand the excess mud off.  For little blemishes, a little sanding is all that’s needed.

Step 3: Prime time! I will admit that up until recently I never used a primer.  But after a long chat with a nice old man at Home Depot he convinced me.  He told me that I could avoid having to strip the old paint off and do a ton of sanding if I just used a primer in-between the old paint and the new paint.  I am fairly lazy, so I was all for less work.  So slap on a bit of primer.

Step 4: Paint the new colours!  This is where is all comes together.  I pop on the Netflix and start painting, usually 2 coats.  I love this step, I hate having to wait for the paint to dry, I want to be able to see the finished products immediately.

Step 5: Go in for the detail work.  I used some fine tip small paint brushes that I bought from a dollar store.  Or you could use painters tape to make sure that you get crisp lines where the two paint colours meet.  I hate painters tape, it makes my lines worse, but that’s probably because I rush putting it on.

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The finished product is up for sale on the internet.  It’s true, I don’t really want it to sell, so I have it listed for way too much.

The Fallout

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I love to give myself monthly challenges, and I’m constantly thinking up what the next challenge could be.  There isn’t really a reason, I just like pushing myself to improve and change.  My 9-5 life has lots of change and many of my co-workers really struggle when the big changes come our way.  I look forward to the big changes, but I dislike when I know a big change is coming, but I don’t know exactly when.  My theory is that if I keep doing the little changes then I’ll never be the sort that completely loses their shit when change happens.

 

With starting a new month it’s inevitable that I’m also starting a new challenge.  November was all about making money by putting heaps of effort into some of my side projects that aren’t this blog.  So what’s December all about?  Loyal blog readers may recall that September was all about eating on the cheap.  The fallout pretty much scared the shit out of me.  You see if me living on the cheap was that expensive, then I was spending entirely too much and didn’t really live in reality.  Add to that an unexpected big bill from my strata and I knew what my next challenge needed to be.  So after I returned from a 3 week vacation, I took a long hard look at my finances and decided to completely change how I do things.

About 2 weeks ago is when the change started.  I decided to cut up a few credit cards and live only on cash.  I now have a weekly budget, with all funds ear-marked.  I have $130 a week for food, entertainment and miscellaneous expenses, when it’s gone it’s gone for the week.  I have found that I spend much less, and I’m counting my pennies and figuring out how to stretch my money until the end of the week.  I go in to the grocery store with a list and I come out with only the things on the list.  I figure out a way to buy chocolate, Starbucks and a gluten free goodie every week so it’s not all deprivation.

 

For the most part I feel really good about being able to stick to my budget.  However there are a couple of things that I don’t know how to fit in my budget.  In 2 month’s time I will need to pay for my CSA share purchase.  It’s going to be roughly $500, and I think I can pay for it in installments.  But I’d really like to not put that on my one remaining emergency credit card.  After all it’s not an emergency.  I think that I can raise the money between a couple of my side gigs.

My plan is to continue with the strict cash only budget for the month of December and then reassess.  I think if I can make it through this month on budget then that will be a major feat!  I’m already concerned about the fancy Christmas dinner my sister and I are putting on.