Debt Crash Diet: A Giant Step Toward a Different Life

Shaunta Alburger

Editor's Note: Shaunta Alburger has agreed to write articles for ThriftyFun. This is Part 1 of a 4 part series she has written about her plan to go on a Debt Crash Diet in 2006.

Do you have to work a job that doesn't fit your life because you can't afford to quit? It boils down to one thing; you work the job for the paycheck. You need the paycheck because you have debt.

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I have a solution. Go on a crash diet. I'm not talking about giving up food so that you won't need to work as many hours. Go on a debt crash diet. Are you serious about being a full-time writer (or something else)? I have a plan that could bring you one giant step toward that goal.

A debt crash diet is simply a year of very intense thrift, during which time debt is eliminated and savings are built. Let me put my money where my mouth is, and tell you that my family is going on a debt crash diet in 2006.

A debt crash diet will take fifteen months; three for planning, followed by that year of intense thrift.

Will it be easy? I really doubt it. We're cutting our food bill by 2/3 and putting off replacing our twelve-year-old minivan. For one year, we are giving up movies, eating out, gym memberships and cable TV. Our goal is to pay off nearly $20,000 in debt, and to save $12,000 in one year.

I'd like to ask you to stop for a moment and ask yourself what being completely out of debt and having a four-month supply of money would mean to you. Could you stand to live a work-optional life? I thought so.

I can't promise that a debt crash diet will make your full-time writing dreams come true. I can promise that when you're through, you will be working to pay for today, instead of yesterday with interest. You will have gained some valuable insight into which material needs are most important to you, and which you can give up for good.

January 10, 20060 found this helpful

I enjoyed reading this article very much and look forward to the others - I definitely needed to hear these things and I need to take heed if I am to eliminate some of my own debt (and stress over it.) Thank you very much!

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January 10, 20060 found this helpful

I think this would have a little more credibility at the end of the diet. All of us can say we plan to do... (insert plan here)... It is in the results that a plan can be judged! My family and I cut spending, gave up cable, entertainment, eating out, elective car repairs, etc. in 2004. I worked two jobs. It was darn hard. It was hard to stick with it. We didn't end up saving all we thought, though we did pay off $17,000 in school loans. I'm not sure I'd do it again, if I had a choice. I would like to hear from you after you've done this for a year and then see what advice you'd pass on! Good luck though. I hope you succeed.

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January 11, 20060 found this helpful

Sounds like a real challenge. My kids would freak. Please keep us updated!

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January 12, 20060 found this helpful

For several years, my husband and I would go on what we called our "Austerity Program". Every year for two to three months after Christmas, we had to write down every cent we spent at the end of the day. It makes you think twice about spending something because you have to document it when you get home. For instance, my husband and I would brownbag our lunches to the office. If my friends wanted to go out to eat, I'd think about having to write down that $5 - $7 when I got home, where my husband had not spent anything for lunch. It is a good way to save. Actually it helped pay off those Christmas credit card bills. Also it's an eyeopener about where your money goes.

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January 15, 20060 found this helpful

I agree with sueey. Everyone talks about what they are going to do, but how many actually get to their goal? Think New Years resolutions... And how do you know what may come up, to keep you from achieving your goal? eg: Accident, emergency surgery, job loss, etc. While the goal is great, I'd rather hear about it after it's a done deal. Asking people on your site to write in to get you on Oprah, when you've not achieved your goal yet is ludicrous and makes you look like you have a need for attention.

Most people where I live don't make $32,000/yr, and that's with both working two jobs. Yet they manage to pay off their homes early, have no credit card debt, get kids through college, and so on. For them, not renting movies, eating out, getting gym memberships, cable TV, etc isn't a crash diet, it's their way of life. Give us genuine frugal people hints we can use, not things we already know better than spend our money on. That would be interesting.

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October 1, 20060 found this helpful

WHEN ARE THESE ARTICLES GOING TO START?

Editor's Note: It looks like we have 3 of them. Here's everything by Shaunta:

http://www.thriftyfun.com/Columnists_Shaunta%20Alburger_1261_3458.html

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December 20, 20060 found this helpful

Still waiting for the Debt Crash Diet articles to start.

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February 7, 20070 found this helpful

It's Feb 2007 so when are these new articlers by Shaunta Alburger going to start ? There is nothing on the Pennywise Journal web site.

Editor's Note: http://www.thriftyfun.com/Columnists_Shaunta%20Alburger_1261_3458.html

These are all of the articles we have by her. Evidently she gave up her website.

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