What I Gave Up (and Gained) to Reach My Financial Goals

meal planner

The exact form I started meal planning with!

Rarely does someone embark on a financial goal and not have to make changes to their life. For us, part of what held us back for so long with working on paying our debt off, was that I was 1) overwhelmed with where to start and 2) wasn’t interested in changing our lifestyle. Though I didn’t have a great idea about how or where to start when it came to paying our debt off, I did know something would have to change and I was right.

It didn’t take me too long to look at what we were spending money on, to see where a few obvious changes needed to be made. Our situation was further complicated by the fact that our income was temporarily decreased. Not only were we focused on paying our debt off, I was also on maternity leave earning less than half my normal pay.

Though I was admittedly uncomfortable with some of these changes they were necessary. Not only for our financial goals but for us as a family, the changes were needed to refocus our entire lives.

What I gave up #1: Salon hair cuts and dye.

I hated everything about this but I couldn’t justify the $125+ every 6-8 weeks. I loved my hairdresser. I loved getting my hair done. It really was one of the only real luxuries I ever allowed myself but it had to stop.

What I gained from stopping my salon visits was a new appreciation for my natural hair. I loved dying my hair and had fun with it but honestly, as much as I enjoyed getting it done it’s nice to not think about having to get it done anymore. I found a lady instead who cuts hair out of her home (who also works full-time in a salon) and cuts for $15. Two years later and I’m still seeing her.

What I gave up #2: Unplanned food shopping

I was shocked to see how much the two of us were spending on groceries. Yes we had a kid but she was still exclusivity breastfeeding and not included in our food budget. We would go to the store whenever we wanted and throw in whatever we felt like. We were spending close to $800 per month for two adults and wasting a lot of food too.

What I gained from giving up unplanned food spending is a love affair with meal planning and trying new recipes. This has saved us so. much. money. The very thought about walking into a grocery store without a detailed list and weekly planning makes me panic. I won’t do it. I’ve gained a healthy relationship with grocery stores and spending on food. I’m a grocery shopping expert!

What I gave up #3: Cell Phone Data

At the time I was at home on maternity leave and I couldn’t justify the money we were spending on cell phone data plus internet. We cancelled the data off my old Blackberry and left me with a basic phone only. The difference was $50 per month. If I wanted internet stuff I would use one of our computers at home and still have my phone for actual emergencies and basic texting. I didn’t really miss it at all. (Note: I did re-add data when I returned to work and now spend most of my day away from home and no internet access at work).

What I gained was learning how to not be dependent on a device. I think we all know what I’m talking about- constantly playing on the phone looking at the same few apps over and over again. Without these things distracting me I had a lot more time, honestly! It was such a nice break.

When you make the decision to really work at reaching your financial goals assume changes will need to be made, don’t assume these changes will be bad though. When people think change they assume ”bad”, but I think ”uncomfortable” may be more appropriate. If you really want those changes to happen, getting uncomfortable is exactly what you need. Being comfortable is keeping you in a situation you want to get away from and change is always uncomfortable in the beginning. You’ll learn from it and be better for it though.

What changes did you make when working towards your goals?

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  1. I’m with you: I don’t want to be miserable when paying off debt because that will lead to resentment and rebellion! Meal planning and budgeting has been number one for us too! We went from about $1000 a month for two (including eating out several times per week) to a budget of $75 a week plus $25 a week for eating out if needed. We also called some of our utilities (phone, TV, etc.) to get the plan lower and that saved a few hundred dollars a month as well. The phone was surprising- all’s I had to do was change to their current promotion and I got a better plan for half the price! You just never know until you check!

  2. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself when you are trying to get out of debt. I gave up a few things that I thought I would miss, and it seems that giving up a lot of these things only improved my quality of life. A true win-win situation.

  3. I think when you feel like you have to do something you get really creative. I stopped eating out with friends and going to the movies as much. I discovered that I eat healthier that way and I love being at home just watching netflix or a cheap red box movie. And there are other great free forms of entertainment too like reading and listening to podcasts.

  4. I finally stopped getting my hair colored too and it is nice to never have to worry about if my roots are showing, haha. I do still go and get it cut every 6-ish weeks, but that’s because I have short hair and can’t really let it get shaggy. It’s down from $100-120 every 6 weeks to about $30 every 6 weeks for a cut and brow wax. (I’m addicted to getting my brows waxed.)

  5. Great that you could sacrifice these three things to reach your goals Cath. Me? I gave up my gym membership and cable. At first it’s so hard, but later on I get by because I had some alternatives such as getting my own gym equipment or exercising at home, which is definitely cheaper.

  6. This is going to sound bad… but this was a nice reminder of things that I am blessed to be able to have. My stupid data plan ran out this month and had me stressed out that I was going to incur over the top charges, but apparently I am smarter than myself and had set the limit on my phone below the real limit of my plan.

  7. The list is LONG!! I’ve given up a lot and now I’m about to embark on another 2 years of deep sacrifice. It’s ok though because then I will have $$ to do what I would like to do.

  8. Good for you for cutting out these luxuries. I had to do the same when I paid off a chunk of debt, and one of the big things I cut out was meals out with friends and clothes shopping. Stinks in the short run but really makes a huge difference.


  1. […] Catherine at PlungedInDebt.com, shared how she now saves a significant amount of money per month by sacrificing these 3 purchases. […]

  2. […] those circling the drain of debt don’t necessarily need to make huge changes to save their wallet. Small alterations to your outgoings could, if you’re thrifty, make a huge […]

  3. […] fact about me. As laid back as I am, I love beauty products (after all I admitted to having to give up my fancy salon cuts!). I love trying new products and experimenting, even if it’s just for fun or for one […]

  4. […] What I Gave Up (and Gained) to Reach My Financial Goals […]

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