Helping Creative People Create

Keep the Dream Alive While Staying Debt Free

dreams and money

Annabel Candy has a great mind for helping people do what they love through their work, and the topic of money is a major factor whether we want to admit it or not. I love this post. I’ve also got a complimentary post on shipping successful ideas over at her blog. Enjoy!

Are financial problems stopping you from living your dream and sapping your creativity?

Finance is a huge part of our lives yet it remains something that many people struggle with, especially creative types. These days, maybe more than ever before, people all over the world are getting into financial difficulties and debt.

The recession has been going on for a few years and people’s houses are still being repossessed. They’re still losing their jobs. Worst of all, they’re losing their freedom and independence.

What saddens me most about people getting into debt is the ties it causes. It you’re in debt you’re often forced to stay in a job or an area you don’t like in order to repay the debt and your creative energy is sapped by worry and the grind of daily living.

There’s an incredible freedom that comes from being free of debt. Only when you’re debt free can you actually live the life you want and be the master of your own destiny.

So here are my tips on how you can avoid getting into debt, simplified and repackaged in a way that I hope makes you see the true value of living within your means.

Remember, if you want to travel, set up your own business or follow any other life dreams, being debt free will help you get there. Over spending will only hold you back in life.

Never borrow money to buy unnecessary toys

Living within your means brings happiness and freedom that expensive new gadgets don’t. If you can’t afford to buy the car or TV of your dreams then don’t buy it. Get what you can pay for in cash now and be happy with it. If you really need to buy a car to get from A to B then buy one you can easily afford.

Don’t be tricked into finance plans that offer “18 months interest free”. If you can’t afford to buy the item for cash now you may not be able to in 18 months either. If you buy something on those crazy “free credit” terms you’ll be paying over the odds for it and you won’t be free anymore. You’ll be tied down to making those repayments until they’re paid off. Much better to save up, pay cash and live free.

Maybe you’re worried about what people will think about your unfashionable car or clunky TV? Don’t be. Anyone who judges you by that isn’t worth worrying about anyway.

Non-Essentials

Little things like clothes, skincare, toiletries add up. Just get what you need. I’m sure that many of us in developed countries have many more clothes than we can actually wear. That’s why I’ve classified clothes as non-essentials here. How many pairs of jeans and tshirts does one person actually need? I’d be prepared to bet that it’s not as many as you’ve already got, especially if you’re female. Sorry girls!

I’ve just spent a year without buying any new clothes, apart from some new sports socks when my old ones had gone to holes and a pair of shoes for a wedding. It wasn’t as if I was going to be naked. I had more than enough clothes to see me through the year and I think I even managed to look quite nice most of the time too.

It was great not to bother going to shops and shopping centers and also good at the end of the year to evaluate what I actually needed clothes-wise and spend a few hours clothes shopping. If you can’t cut down your clothes shopping to once a year try shopping for clothes only twice a year, maybe when the sales are on.

Or have a clothes and accessories swap party. Invite about 10 friends of varying sizes and tell them to bring the clothes and accessories they never wear. You’ll be laughing over each others’ disaster buys and amazed to see how good your unflattering trousers look on someone else. This is a cheap, fun night in and a great way to bond with friends.

When it comes to skincare and toiletries get cheaper brands. The pricier ones aren’t worth it, you’re just paying for the expensive advertising campaigns and the supermodels who promote them. Now why would you want to do that?

So you really need something?

Do you really need it? Really? Truly? It’s amazing how many things I think I need and write on my list but never get round to buying because I don’t go to the shops very often. If you go shopping every week, apart from to the grocery store or food market, then you’re probably spending more than you need to just by being in the shopping mall. Avoid shopping malls like the plague, especially if you have kids with you.

But let’s say you’ve convinced me there’s something you really need, your bike’s broken beyond repair and you really need a new one to get to work. Please, never buy anything, new or used, without taking the time to ask these two questions:

What’s the best price you can do for me?

Can you do a better deal for cash?

You’ll probably get one discount this way but you might even get two price cuts.

If you can wait until the annual sales you might get a better deal that way. Or put a search on Ebay, go to garage sales and tell your friends and colleagues you’re in the market for a new bike to see if anything comes up.

Housing

Sometimes renting can be cheaper than buying, especially if house prices aren’t increasing. Don’t be pressurized into buying a house or buying a more expensive house than you can easily afford the mortgage repayments on. You’re not buying a better house, you’re buying worry and financial pressure.

Grocery Shopping

Forget silly food coupons, just make sure you bulk buy and buy the supermarkets own brands. With most items (basmati rice, virgin olive oil, canned tomatoes, pasta etc) some of the cheaper brands taste just as good as the more expensive brands to me. There are only a few things I’m fussy about – I have to have the more expensive brand of mayonnaise – but for most things you’ll probably find the no name brands are just as good. Pick and choose your products carefully.

Be Patient

For example, go to the movies on cheap Tuesdays or wait for the DVD to come out. Most things have promotions at certain times of the year or on certain days, you’ve just got to wait for them.

Banish takeouts

I love eating out. I don’t do it as often as I’d like but it’s a real treat for me to go to a cafe or restaurant and eat a meal someone else has cooked and will clear away for me too. I just don’t get the idea of takeouts though. Most of them don’t taste as good as the food you’d make at home and it’s not that hard to wash up a chopping board and a couple of saucepans. Most healthy food it quick to make at home too (things like stir-fries and omelets) or can be prepared in bulk so you can freeze some to reheat on another day (curries and soups.)

I know often you may want to socialize without feeling you need to kill yourself with cooking and shopping. Try having a curry night and asking everyone to bring along one dish. Or just a pot luck and see what happens. Or a fun sushi night where everyone knuckles down and learns how to make their own sushi.

Start making these life changes to stay out of debt and save money today. There’s no time like the present.

Like any addict you’ll suffer a bit at first, but when you get used to spending less you’ll be glad you did. Leave your credit cards at home and reassess how to cut down your spending and what you’ll do when you’ve controlled your spending and earned your own freedom.

What will you do when you’re out of debt and in control of your finances? How will your creativity be unleashed?

Keep your prize on the goal and you’ll get there in the end.

Annabel Candy writes the personal development blog, Get In the Hot Spot, to inspire and inform people on how to live their dream. If you dream of travel, writing, self-employment, or just being happy, then subscribe by email or to the RSS feed

Photo by Vaguely Artistic

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot July 22, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Thanks for having me here Glen! Loving that our blogs are connected through the shared guest post. I really think they’re 2 of the best looking blogs on the Net and the more I read of you the more I like it:)

Off to add the link to my guest post here to my post now! Forgot to do that bit…

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glen July 23, 2010 at 9:38 am

Thanks Annabel! It’s a fantastic post, and a great reminder of how money and goals are linked.

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Mars Dorian July 23, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Haha, you have a very Spartan-like approach about spending your money, Annabel.

I luv your minimalist thinking – we really don’t need all these expensive toys. Thank god I have never been in debt, because I follow I similar approach like you. I barely use my credit card – I know how fast the money flows when I do.

I especially like your take on takeouts (no pun intended!), mutual cooking with your friends not only saves you money but is more fun, too !
It’s really all a matter of creativity – the less money you spend, the more you have to be creative ;)

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Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot July 23, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Hi Mars, thanks for commenting, great to see you here! I know some people reading this will shudder at the thought of tightening their belts but it’s all about delayed gratification. By living like this most of the time I’ve been able to travel the world:) Great to hear you have a healthy relationship with money too. It is hard for us creative types but as you say, controlling the urge to spend does free us up for more creativity.

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Anass Farah July 24, 2010 at 4:12 am

Hello. I’m new in the blog. I like the articles here. I would like to say thank you Annabel for this great post. The less is more concept is something that that can help you a lot. Don’t buy things that you don’t need don’t go for the big houses. I think you’re maybe a minimalist person, i’m not sure but it’s what i can understand from your post :)
I’m only 16 years old but I’m trying to reach the financial freedom. Money is what block us from doing what we really want to do. Hope This article will help others as it helps me :)

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Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot July 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Hi Anass, I suppose I am minimalist in a way – it makes it easier for me to follow my dreams of travel the less stuff I have and the more cash:) Great to hear you read and appreciated this at such a young age. Your attitidue should stand you in good stead for a life of fulfillment and dream chasing:) Good luck with all your plans!

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jonathanfigaro July 24, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I think people fall short of thinking their purchases through. You have to ask yourself, Will this investment pay off in a way that can get me closer or further to my goal? So if your looking to be an author for example: buying some Prada shoes won’t help you. But joining a book club for 15 dollar a month which can lead to priceless networking can. So you just have to analyze the choices you make and be conscious of your own stupidity at times..i guess.

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Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot August 12, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Hi Jonathan, that’s a great way of looking at things. Re book clubs I belonged to a free one with a group of friends. We each added 5 books to the box to begin with and basically lent them to each other. Who ever was hosting would add a few more books and tell us what they liked about them so we had a lot of good books to read that our friends personally recommended free:)

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Trish Cardona July 25, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Thanks, Annabel. You always inspire. I’ll be writing soon about being style savvy on a budget. You don’t have to lose your head, or your savings to look really hot! There is such a thing as a ‘hot spot’ with style where you’re able to look great without blowing your budget. =)

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Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot August 12, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Hi Trish, why thank you! Oh, that post sounds right up my alley, I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for it. It’s true I want to spend less on clothes than other people but I don’t want to look as if I’m dressed badly!

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Dr. Disshum July 27, 2010 at 3:11 am

I think having the right attitude is good too. Think of thrift as purifying and ultimately liberating.

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glen July 27, 2010 at 6:08 am

I agree. It’s all about attitude :)

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Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot August 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Love this. It really is liberating:)

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Corinne July 27, 2010 at 9:33 am

Great article Annabel! Alot of these seem like fairly simple tips that people sadly look over. By following tips like this, it can really add up how much money you save over time. I think being patient for what you really want is key- a lot of companies will initially make the price higher to make the product seem like it has better value, then lower the price significantly within the next month (i.e. the iphone).

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Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot August 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Hi Corinne, thank you for commenting – you’re right it is quite basic stuff but people borrow a bit then a bit more and so it continues until they’re bogged down in debt! Patience is a great tip too and amassing wealth does take time.

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Michelle Adams July 27, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Some great ideas there Annabel. I especially like the thought of getting the girls together to swap our items that we don’t use but someone else might adore. Thanks. :)

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Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot August 12, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Hi Michelle, clothes swap parties are great and a good way to bond. I still have a great pair of cut off shorts from a clothes swap party and think about the friend who gave them to me every time I wear them:)

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