A “Go Green” Personal Finance Challenge

go-green-live-richEnemy Of Debt Goes Green!

These days it’s impossible to turn your head 1 degree to the right or left without being bombarded by the “green” bandwagon.  It has become the marketing slogan of choice and from the looks of it, it has been super successful.  Companies have seemingly just had to add the green campaign to their product and people feel good about their purchases.

Personally, I think people should adopt a conservation approach regardless of what politicians try to scare us into believing.  Global Warming doesn’t have to be real for people to consume less and be more efficient with what they have.

I’ll give you a way to feel good about your finances, and yes I am jumping on the “go green” bandwagon.  By going green with your finances, you can alleviate the risk that comes with using your plastic companion to purchase items on a daily basis.  Go green and:

  • spend 12-18% less on every purchase
  • get deep discounts by using the power of cash
  • avoid fees and charges associated with using credit

I personally only use cash and my debit card to buy anything and everything we need or want.  No I am not getting free hats, or air miles, but I assure you I am spending less.  I don’t have to worry about the lure of spending more in the name of receiving a free gift.  Spending $1,000 and getting a plane ticket does not equate to free in my opinion.  The only ones that truly benefit from this process are the very few people who have the discipline in place to not rack up more charges than they can pay come the end of the  month.  I still personally believe that even those folks are taking unnecessary risk as well as spending more when it is all said and done.  Shhh…they won’t listen.  😀

The Going Green Personal Finance Challenge

Now when I first thought up this post I was going to challenge you to go an entire month without using credit to purchase stuff.  The more I think about it the more I want to offer you more choices and a way for you to gradually make the changes needed to go green with your wallet on a more permanent basis.  So here is what I came up with.

  • Step One – Go one day without using credit cards at all.
  • Step Two – Go one week without using credit cards at all.
  • Step Three – Go one month without using credit cards at all.
  • Step Four – Go one quarter without using credit cards at all.
  • Step Five – Go six months without using credit cards at all.
  • Step Six – Go one year without using your plastic companion.
  • Step Seven – Graduate to avoiding credit cards all together.

Tips To Go Green With Ease

There are many things you can do to help make this process easier.  I am sure with all of the frugal individuals out there that there are far more tips and tricks to use.  Let’s start with the ones I have used.

  • Use the envelope system.
  • Every time you buy something ask this question:  “Do I need this or do I just want it?”
  • Follow a written budget every single week.
  • Try to cut back on non-essential items.
  • Use your debit card to pay bills online. (mortgage, utilities etc…)
  • Create a savings account other than your emergency fund to be used for irregular expenses such as car maintenance, insurance renewal, and for anything else that you normally use credit for.
  • Eliminate your debt so that you have more money to use for future financial decisions.

I have not borrowed a single dime since we decided to start the Total Money Makeover in January of 2008.  I do not feel I have missed out on anything because of it.  We have what we need, consume much less, and are better prepared financially for our future.  We are more self reliant because we do not NEED to use a credit card as a crutch to get through life.  With that said the most important benefit to us has been the freedom we have experienced from going green.

Go green and take back your life!  Stop borrowing your way through life and instead utilize a plan to get you where you want to be.  It is possible, but you have to ignore all of the broke people telling you that having a credit card is a part of life.  All a credit card does is make you more dependent.  Don’t believe me?  Give my challenge a shot and find out just how dependent you are.  Go green—use cash!

photo credit

About Brad Chaffee

6 Responses to “A “Go Green” Personal Finance Challenge”

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  1. moneyfunk says:

    A great challenge, Brad! But I am more amazed at the discipline you and your family put forth in not borrowing since January 2008!

    I find it hard when raising teenage kids. Especially when it comes to buying school clothes. How do you find that balance of spending vs. savings? My kids need jeans and by no means do I buy expensive brands. Well, I guess that is why they call it a journey. Have any tips on finding that balance?

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Hey MoneyFunk! I hope you have been well!

      For me the not borrowing part was easy but only because of the fact that I stopped seeing debt as a tool, AND my wife was totally on board with not borrowing anymore. (That last part was extremely helpful.) Most people would say debt is a tool but fail to see the effect it has on their finances. The discipline came in the preparation phase of our transformation. Once we realized we didn’t want to be “slave to the lender”, we knew that in order to make the transformation possible we needed to change our current habits.

      The biggest obstacle to the things we want is often ourselves, which is why credit cards have become a crutch for almost everyone. I would say that the biggest, most important habit that must be changed is becoming an aggressive saver. Not in regard to just the emergency fund or nest egg, but for everyday needs with what is called sinking funds. I have not had to go through the teenage years yet with regard to buying clothing but I would suggest that you start now in establishing a “school clothes fund”, to help make your journey easier. Take what you spend each year on clothes for your kids and divide that amount by 11. Each month set aside that amount in a special savings account, and when next year comes you will already have the money needed to buy their clothes, and without the use of credit and interest. We use this method and it has made not using credit very easy.

      As far as balance, that really is determined by you and your family. What are your goals and values? Those goals and values will help you find the balance needed to reach those goals and stick to your values. Balance also comes from being able to differentiate from wants versus needs so that you have the extra money to pay for the things you need. I agree with you that balance is of great importance. Not having balance means that another area is lacking and that usually leads to failure of some sort. The best example I have seen given is the one that says if someone spends too much time at work but neglects their family, the family part of the equation breaks down—and vice versa. Work is important in order to earn an income but without family what’s the point? 😀

      So glad you stopped by to comment MoneyFunk! Hope to hear from you again real soon!

  2. Bucksome says:

    I like the plan. I haven’t added to my debt since graduating from Financial Peace a few months ago. However, I have used plastic and paid off the new charges plus my normal monthly payment.

    It’s a work in progress!

  3. Money Funk says:

    Thank you, Brad for all the wonderful input! LOL. I seem to have forgotten that I have a summer fund set up for things like school clothes/funds, but the account is used more for summer camping trips and extra fun. While the latter is all good, I think it would be worthwhile for me to up my biweekly deposits from $35 to $70. Then I will have about $900 allotment for school funds. Thanks for the reminder! 😉

    Now to embark on that debt free Christmas! Oh wait, I am still trying to deal with Halloween Costumes. You’d think after my recent post I would be able to frugalize my halloween and figure out what costume couple my DH and I can put together via thrift store/house finds we already have. Although I haven’t spent any money for our costumes we are struggling with the thoughts.

  4. Brad – does going for 45 days without buying ANYTHING other than food count? I’m still on my Samurai September no spending kick, and I’m thoroughly enjoying rediscovering all that I have!

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