Could you imagine surviving off half of your income right now? Cait Flanders, a personal finance writer from
Vancouver, Canada, did exactly that after she had a reality check about an
overflowing amount of debt she needed to pay off.
Buried in $19,800 of debt, Flanders had to
reevaluate the lifestyle she had grown accustomed to, which she ultimately could not
afford. She wasn't a shopaholic or spending most of her paycheck on rent; she
was just purchasing little things she didn't exactly need, such as dining-out
meals and daily hot beverages—a bad spending habit most people overlook as an
actual problem. After two years of saving and contributing up to 55% of her
monthly income towards her debt, she found herself free. She started to
write about it on her blog, Blonde on a Budget, and she is now able to freelance full time.
After getting herself out of debt, Flanders
still wanted to continue her frugal ways. Thus, she gave herself a shopping ban
for a year, during which she discarded or donated 70% of her unused belongings,
lived on 51% of her income ($22,000), saved 31% ($13,500) and traveled on the
last 18%. This included a total ban on two things she routinely bought: takeout
coffee and books. Other materials she mindlessly purchased prior to the ban
included nail polish, candles, notebooks, magazines, electronics and clothes.
"I realized how much I
already had. But also, I would see things I wasn't wearing or all the
books I hadn't read yet, and it would make me feel bad," Flanders told Forbes
about her purging process. "So I opened up every closet and drawer and
pulled everything out and asked myself, 'When was the last time I used this?'
'Am I actually going to use this in the next couple of months?' If not, it had
In reality, implementing
this financial plan when you have a family to take care of is very difficult. But Flanders raises a good point regarding our society's habit of purchasing and consuming mindlessly. How many times have you bought a bottle of lotion when
you hadn't even finished the one at home? Do you really need an almond milk
latte every single morning? Although living off of half of your income may be too extreme
and disciplinarian for some, we can all take small steps to change our bad habits. Next
time you find yourself reaching for a pair of black shoes while out shopping when you clearly
already have something similar in your closet, think about what it could be used toward. Your kid's
tuition or a family vacation, perhaps?