Hi Friends! Iā€™m Natalie Mason. I live in Charleston, SC and I am mom to Sterling 12 , Frances Moon 8 and our mini golden doodle Dolly.



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Living Within Your Means

Apr 26, 2013

This is something I struggle with.  I am a shopper at heart and love the thrill I get from buying new things.   This has lead to the accumulation of some debt.   It is not from student loans or anything it is from silly, really unnecessary purchases.  I opened my first credit card in college and it has been a slippery slope since then.  I have paid off my debt several times (thanks to my parents, selling my first house,  and 401k) but it still manages to get charged back up.  I am not one of those people who charge up a card and pay off the balance in full every month even though I wish I was. That is the right way to manage a credit card.  I charge and then sometimes only pay the minimum (gasp).  Things need to change.

I think today’s society has made it hard for people to live within their means.  Credit cards and lines of credit are so easy to attain.  Why not charge it?  I wish credit cards were never invented and that way people just had to live off the money they made.  How do we really ever know if someone can afford something or if they are living outside of their means by charging it.  The blog world and social media make this especially hard.  Everyone is always blogging about and showing off their fabulous houses, amazing clothes, gadgets, cars, the list goes on and on.  It is hard not to compare yourself and not to try and “keep up with the Jones.”  You start to resent what you have and want more.

I am guilty of comparing myself to others.  I used to love our house and now it feels so cramped and small to me and I want a bigger one.  I keep seeing friends move into big nice houses and I want that too. It makes me envious and that is not a good way to live.   Some people would consider my house a palace because they don’t even have a roof over their head.  I am lucky to have a house to live it wheter it is small is not. I am always wanting to buy all the fabulous clothes I see these bloggers in, but really I have not one but two closets filled to the brim.  I have to ask myself do I really need more or is this turning into greed?


Since having Sterling I have thought about this stuff alot more. and honestly I have cut back on my shopping since then but I still shop alot.  My child’s future depends on how we manage our money.  I want him to be able to attend any college he wants to (although I won’t be sad if he gets a scholarship).   Do I still charge things, yes I do.  Not gonna lie we live on commissions, no set salary from Matt’s work so there are some months we have to use the card for gas and groceries to get by.  Other months we are more than fine.  and we would be fine all the time if we had a good savings account and no debt.

The point of this is, I want to become a responsible adult.  I want to think really hard before I buy things and I want to pay off my debt.   I am thinking of starting Dave Ramsey’s plan.  I already own the book, Financial Peace, but have yet to read it.  Has anyone else used his plan and does it work?

The other side of this is I want to be grateful and happy for exactly what I have in this moment and not desire more or covet things others have.  I know I am lucky no doubt but sometimes I forget to thank God for all the blessings in my life.  Each night after I read my devotional I have been making a point to thank God for all that I have.  Yes it is not as much as some people, but really how much do we all need?  And all of this around us.  Its not what is important.  Its the people in our lives and memories we create that are important.

Starting May 1 I am going to attempt to start a budget and pay down some debt.  I will let you guys know what works and what doesn’t if you are interested.  I also welcome any tips or advice you peeps have.   This doesn’t mean I am going cold turkey and not shopping at all, it just means I am going to really think out every purchase and only use cash no credit. I will still blog about pretty things I just won’t buy all of them!   Oh and lets all make a point to be thankful for what we have.

Have a great weekend.  That was your dose of heavy thoughts for the weekend- back to regular mindless posting Monday.

P.S I am keeping the Rodan + Fields Giveaway open thru the weekend.  I will announce the winner Monday.  You can still enter HERE.  Now I am off to shop before I start my budget:)


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  1. Liz says:

    That was an awesome post Natalie! And I totally agree about social media fueling the jealousy of what others have. It's so readily available to see. I'm going to try and be more happy that someone has a lot rather than envious that I don't have what they have. The other interesting thing to point out is that they might be accumulating debt as well by purchasing the things they have, maybe trying to fill a void or something. Who knows? But we are all very blessed to have what we have – especially having loved ones around us. Can't put a price on good family and friends, right?! Or a great pair of versatile flats šŸ™‚ (I mean really – let's not be too drastic…they are more of an investment in reducing varicose vains, right?!)

  2. Oh girl, we are totally in the same boat. I'm a serious shopper. Always have been. I didn't get married until later in life so I've never had to "answer to" anyone about what I spend my money on. I just charge away, secretly, so I don't get in trouble. Then I have loads of guilt and shame. I've really stopped the spending lately, but it's so hard. Yes, blogging makes it even harder. I want to redecorate, get a new wardrobe, and go on more vacations….. Ugh. Then I feel so guilty because there are so many people just wondering where their next meal will come from. Thanks for the reminder. We have so much to be thankful for. That cute new dress isn't really going to make us happy in the long run. Happy weekend to you!

  3. Keely says:

    Natalie you always seem to have away to have a post right when I need it! Being a stay at home mom, along with everything you said above makes it even more stressful…because I have no personal income anymore. So now my husband, who is very good with money, watches everything I buy and I just never had to live like this before…I hate " Asking permission" to buy things… But I am SO THANKFFUL to be able to spend so much time with my daughter. I see her change everyday and know I'll never get these moments back, so I try the best I can to make the most of each day.
    Sorry so long winded, but this really hit home (since I just got lectured in my spending last night). Best to you my friend, I will enjoy your journey with this & maybe I'll find something that helps me along the way too…thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Love you so much girl and even more now that you've opened yourself up like this. I am so proud of you for taking charge of your finances. It is such an empowering feeling. There is no outfit or new chair that is worth the stress associated with wondering how you're going to pay for it. Want to know something crazy? I don't own a credit card and we don't use one as a family. Matt has one in his name from college that we only use for emergency. Literally. A new starter on the yukon is considered an emergency. A haircut or new pair of shoes never counts. We don't ever want to be spending today (or tomorrow's) money on something long forgotten from yesterday. Is it easy? NOPE. I would consider myself a reformed shop-a-holic but you wouldn't believe the self-confidence I gained by not attaching new things to my self worth. I think really long and hard about new purchases and just blog about all my wants instead of indulging. Just taking small steps will get you there girl. YOU ROCK!

  5. donna says:

    I commend you for being honest and putting it out there. I love your blog and style, but quickly was becoming not interested, because I felt like it was just too good to be true for somebody to be a SAHM and still buy high end stuff constantly. I work full time and I probably buy designer product like once or twice a year…and believe me it is a torture for me to even take the plunge and buy!

    Good luck with your plan to getting debt free. I am confident that you will get there. You've already conquered the first major step — and that is being honest to yourself. I had issues with money mgmt when I was in college and have been fortunate to get out of that situation, by lots of hard work and discipline.

  6. Mary says:

    Great, great post. This is something I've struggled with all my life. I always thought people had more than me, even though I have plenty! However, who knows how they pay for it, if they pay for it. We have our own business, so when things are good, they're really, really good and when things are slow, charge card! I know how you feel. It stinks. We now have two girls in college, private college, its crazy how much it costs, even with scholarships! We've had to tighter our belts (well me, husband buys nothing!) and I'm still fine and happy. You've got a beautiful family, great parents, and friends, your over blessed. Good luck on the budget, oh how I cringe at that word.

  7. caycee says:

    I am so proud of you Natalie! You can do it, I know you can! And at the end of the day your true friends and family are going to love you no matter where you live (love your house btw)or the clothes you have on.I have a feeling we will be hitting up forever 21 a lot more haha!

  8. Jill says:

    love this post today!! I don't remember what book I read ( maybe the millionaire next door) a couple years back but his number 1 advice was pay yourself first. about 6 years ago I opened a saving account and set it up that the only way I could withdraw cash was to physically walk into the bank. I thought if I made it more difficult for myself then I would be less inclined to do it. Every week I deposit money into this account, sometimes it is only $25 it is amazing how much you can save. Also at that time I cut up my credit card. Everything I buy is with my debit card, it definitely makes you really think about each purchase if you are paying for it immediately. We still have CC and use them for travel etc but now my bills are managable.

    I totally agree with blogs, you will see a girl in a cute outfit and the shoes are $900, the skirt is $500 etc and then the next day they are in $600 shoes and $400 blouse.

    Everyone has been in your situation, I actually enjoy more saving up for something because then it makes the purchase sweeter. I mean I have been saving for a year for my burberry trench!!

  9. shoegirl says:

    Thank you so much for your post. You're a true inspiration! I love love love your blog and look forward to seeing your next outfit, recipe, motivational post. But buying only fulfills the moment now and we're always looking for the next. I know, I'm working on my "condition" as well. Sad when you have clothes from 3 years ago with tags.Doesn't do anything for me now. I'm thankful for my family, friends and all I have just as you are. You have a beautiful family and friends. I'm thankful I found your blog for all you've inspired me to do/be. Thanks and have a great day!

  10. Meg says:

    Bravo! You said what most of us feel, but are afraid to admit. Love your candor. Seriously awesome. The reason I love your blog.

    Most of the blogs I visit seem to post frequently about about "possessions" or "lust list". Those are my least favorite posts. Makes me think about not having something I felt fine without. Definitely a downside to the web. Lots of great stuff too – and I am sure you'll come across entire blogs dedicated to your debt project.

    Today's post is the reason you are the first thing I sit down to read! Best wishes for going without!

  11. Rachel says:

    You can do this! My advice: Write everything down. Your budget, your expenditures (cash or credit)… It's an eye opener!

    And thanks for the reminder to always be thankful!

  12. Kim Aull says:

    What a great post! I think we all ,well most of us anyways, are guilty of these things. I love that you said all of this and put it out there so we can all take a look at what we need, want, have, and what we should focus on in life. It's too easy to want what others have, even when we know we should be thankful for what we do have. I agree blogs, and social media in general makes this really tough! and those credit cards…they can be evil! šŸ˜‰

  13. Paula Jean says:

    Great post! Such a great reminder to all of us!

    Thanks for being honest and open about something we all struggle with but don't want to talk about!

  14. Love this post! I totally feel your pain, doll. Will love to hear what works for you.

  15. Melissa W. says:

    I love this post!!!

    I have been in the same boat! Chris had to payoff my cc debt when we got married :-(.

    Chris took Dave Ramsey course and it changed his life (notice I say "his"). However, it has really helped us bc he is smart with money and I am not. It really makes me think twice before I purchase bc I know I will have to "answer to" Chris. Helps me keep myself countable.

    Your REAL FRIENDS envy YOU and not what you wear. They love YOU not your clothes. Your TRUE FRIENDS do not care what your house looks like. You are a rockstar entertainer and a great friend to many! That is what counts. You have killer taste and it shows. You don't have to wear $300 dresses to have the best blog. Your blog is THE BEST bc you are you. So what if you do not buy expensive anymore. Most readers will envy you bc you have killer taste and can rock a Target dress and look just as great!

    Keep doing what you do best. Opening up and being a real person! You have a true gift and you are unique! Show us your style without breaking the bank! I promise you will still be the same cool kid-ha! Love you Snoop Nat!

  16. Check out my friend Emily's blog- she just posted about a very realistic way her and her family have been adapting Dave Ramsey's tips. She also explains it very well! It's "A Journey of Parenthood"

  17. Katie Kelley says:

    My husband and I follow Dave Ramseys plan. Currently we have no debt other than our house which we are over half way to paying off in full. Honestly, its like anything else that requires self discipline, weight loss, drinking, ect. You just have to want it.
    I rarly go out with friends, we usually just attend house parties and bring a dish functions. (This is easier now that everyone has kids)
    My family has "family date night" on Friday. That is the one night/meal a week we go out. I want my kids to know how to act in a restaurant situation so I think that practicing this from a young age is important.
    You realize you don't need new "pieces" every season. Its all the same anyway. Maybe this years shirt has a hot pink stripe but is that really classic? No. Plus most people end up wearing the same things all the time anyway.
    Challenge yourself to pick 20 "pieces" from your current wardrobe and mix and match them and wear them for the whole month.
    Do this monthly. It's challenging and really makes you get creative and find new cool ways to "style" your old wardrobe.
    Make a list before going to target and even the grocery store. Only buy whats on the list. Don't just "pick up" that new Essie nail polish.
    Find a free hobby to focus your time on where you don't compare yourself to others or worry about what you look like. Excercize is a good one here. But not fancy classes, something like biking, running ect.
    When you meet up with friends try to make it an activity. Free concert, playing in the park, the beach, story time at the library, game nights, out door movie nights ect. There are tons of free events this time of year.
    Another good tip is to only spend money 2-4 days a week. All purchases must be made on those days, Gas, bills, groceries, EVERYTHING. It really helps and makes you plan better. That means that if you're in the car and want a coke or a coffee on a non spend day, you DON'T buy one. You literally don't spend one red cent on the other days. It becomes liberating to not "need" money all day. Trust me!
    Pay your self first. Start a college fund asap, if you rationalized spending on a fancy dress in the past, you can easily rationalize saving for college.
    This goes with savings and 401k as well. DO IT. There is no excuse not to, even if you only live on commissions.

  18. That was a very honest post, and good for you for writing it! I often read about the things you were buying and thought to myself "wow, what kind of money is her husband pulling in for her to be able to buy those things and be a sahm and be so young!"
    I used to have a very hard time managing money but husband is wonderful at it. So, I finally, many years ago, gave up all control and let him handle it all! That might sound awful, it wasn't…after a while! šŸ™‚
    Now, I can happily say we own three homes; our main home, a lake house and a cabin in the foothills! And when I say own, I mean NO mortgages on any of them! He drives a 2012 car that is paid in full and mine is almost paid for. And we have already pre-paid our kids college tuition, as long as they attend any South Carolina public university. And last, we never carry a balance on our credit card. We have been able to do this with his commissions only job that he has had for the past 19 years.
    We are so fortunate to have what we do, but it has been with some sacrifice! I don't buy new clothes every week and have learned to be a very savvy shopper.
    Even though some days it is still hard for me, I just take a look around and realize how much I do have and I feel okay about it all. Sort of. šŸ˜‰ And it is really nice to know that if something were to happen with husband's job, we would still be okay if he and I both had to work at McDonald's! šŸ˜‰
    Good luck and again, great post!

  19. Lala says:

    I tried Dave Ramsey last year. It is full of great ideas, but for some reason, when we live by the "envelope system", things seem to be harder. Ever since my son was born, I have made a vow that I will pay my credit card off monthly. BABY STEPS! That way, you don't get totally overwhelmed by the whole process and quit. I have succeeded in the credit card thing, next step is pay off my student loan. So, if you start Dave and feel like giving up, the first thing you need to do is pay off those credit cards. That is the worst kind of debt. More power to you! And sell some of that blouse collection…lol

  20. Lala says:

    And thanks for keeping it real, I often wonder how bloggers afford all of their purchases. It always makes you feel like you can't compete.

  21. Laura says:

    I think that what is so hard is that shopping provides instant gratification, saving does not. And patience is definitely not my strongest virtue… I struggle with envy in my heart, I have throughout my life and it's something I strive to dismiss every day! The internet has not helped. I can say though that facing debt head-on and staying organized and focused on your goals is really empowering and it can even become fun. From reading your blog I can tell you have expensive taste, which probably doesn't help the situation much.
    As far as advice?
    Get involved in something else to replace the free time you automatically spend shopping! Are you involved with any charity work? I can reccommend some wonderful local philanthropic opportunities!

  22. Laura says:

    I am right there with ya! When I decided to stay at home we had to face some serious facts about our spending and we are still far from perfect. We live in a smallish house in a very affluent area where everywhere I look it seems like people are in mansions, driving Mercedes, etc and its hard to keep perspective. Anyway, as far as spending one thing that has REALLY helped is a cash budget. I believe that's part of Dave Ramsey's plan but I'm not sure. Sticking to doing most of my spending with a set cash budget each week really seems to help me see concretely how much I have and think hard about each purchase. Good luck and thank you for being honest!

  23. OMG! I am so glad you posted this. I love to shop too and ran up a $1200 balance on my express card. I recently called a debt consolidation place where they lower the interest and doesn't hurt your credit (anymore than my shopping problem already has)The interest is so much lower and I also added my J Crew card to it so now I only have to make one payment. I understand your paid when it comes to the shopping-thank you!!!

  24. RitaMarie says:

    I love the last quote. It's so hard not to spend. I have racked up debt and paid it off several times over- I still never learned the lesson of just not getting into debt. I lived with parents who NEVER used a credit card EVER and now, they use one for points and pay it off EVERY month. I know what responsible looks like; it's jsut hard to live it.

    By acknowledging it, you are on the right track. I look forward to your updates.

  25. Such a popular topic that SO many people can relate to, including myself. I just recently paid off my credit cards (and there were 5- all maxed out) thanks to my man borrowing from his 401k. They are now all shredded, and I'm never allowed to open another one. He has 1 credit card that I'll use for groceries or gas or something for the house when I'm broke as a joke… which is every month. I, too compare myself to others. The blog world is both amazing & terrible. It leaves us to believe that everyone's life is perfect & filled with material goods, when in reality, it's probably not the case. I'm learning everyday how to be happy with who I am and what I have, without being envious of others. It's a process. And good for you for putting it all out there. Such a great topic!!!!

  26. 17 Perth says:

    I could not agree with you more about credit cards and social media….Keeping up with the jones is just hard to do. I started Dave Ramsey's plan about 4 years ago. I have used it pretty consistently and with a lot of intensity. We paid off our student debts, credit cards, cars and are working on our home. We also have what Dave would consider a reasonably 8-10 months emergency plan. I still have "wants" for growing our financial plan…but it takes work and patience! (Both things I don't like. LOL)

    I will say this…his plan is easy…..but it takes discipline and it works! I use the envelope systems for eating out, groceries and for entertainment. I have found it to be PERFECT for me. I know what and how I am spending.

    Can you tell I am a Dave fan? Haha. I love to shop too–and that was very hard for me to "curb". But now I plan for my shopping trips….and I have found that they are much more fun when I do so. In those moments where I just want to "go shopping"…..I usually end up going to the grocery store or target and buying things that we need for our home..and it curbs my shopping want.

    Can't wait to see how you like it—I will say this. It can be hard…but it works!! And nothing, no new dress or new shoes feels better than seeing your bank account where you never thought it would be and/or paying off all the debt you have accumulated that you thought you would never go away!

  27. KatiePerk says:

    I have had success budgeting with Mint.com It really shocks you when you see where your moola is going!

  28. Courtney@SDB says:

    If you go to the Thrifty Decor Chicks website and research (I'd link you to it but I'm using my phone), she has a huge post about how she paid off $100k plus of debt using Dave Ramsey's plan! It's a great post and very inspiring.

    We paid off our last bit of debt last year using our tax refund. It SUCKED forking over all that money, but girlfriend, it was the BEST FEELING EVER!! Being debt free is truly priceless.

    You can do it!!

  29. This was SUCH an awesome post. We are alike in so many ways! You kind of summed up all the things I have been feeling lately. I truly like your idea of taking charge of your finances and trying some new techniques to save. You have inspired me to do the same. I continue to love your blog because you aren't afraid to talk about certain topics and you have been so open sharing bits of your life with others. People can really relate to you, because you keep it real! xox

  30. Unknown says:

    Amen Sister!
    Keeping a budget I agree is tough! We Started ours awhile back and have actually dedicated this year to not save but paying down debt. We have thus far paid of two small student loans, our older vehicle, and our CC. Knowing that once we have gotten the big bills under control that is all extra cash we have to put into savings. We live in a society of things and I am like you I LOVE to shop i mean LOVE. So I am really happy to be reading that another blogger who I would say is very fashionable is also in the same boat as everyone else in the world and I commend you for posting and appreciate it you writing about this.

  31. Welcome to the club, girl!! Sucks! And yes, I think blogging/social media makes it SO much harder. There are certain people that I just have to unfollow because of it. I shouldn't let it affect me but I do. I LOVE your blog, but honestly…your blog is one of the ones that sometimes I'm thinking (jealously) wow, she sure lives the good life…always has tons of new, expensive clothes, etc. Thanks for being so honest. My husband would NEVER allow me to own a credit card. I had an AMEX once that I had to pay off monthly but had to get rid of it too, I just have to stay debit card only…I don't have enough discipline otherwise. We have ONE family credit card that is for EMERGENCIES only, and my husband keeps it in his possession b/c he has complete self control! Good luck!

  32. Georgine says:

    I hate money and budgets and hate feeling like the money's all gone and I barely did anything with it. We have tried a lot of things and they work for a while but I love nice things sue me! ( or don't that sounds expensive too!) this post just reminded me how important prioritizing finances are!!

  33. We struggle with this too. You try to kind of keep up with others and before you know it you're underwater. I've dialed my shopping down big time. Which kind of sucks but also makes me feel better when we get our bills and I'm not grimacing at how much I've spent. Good luck! It's hard but I'm sure so worth it in the end.

  34. Kirsten says:

    I'm a longtime reader, but this is my first ever comment. First, I LOVE your blog. It's the first one I check every day because I always love your content and perspective. And I loved this post because I can 100% relate.
    My husband and I have been married for 2 years and we are just now (finally!) finding a budget that works for us. At first it was extremely difficult, but now I feel so empowered by how we are able to save and spend within our budget every month.
    I love seeing blogs that reflect real people – people who love shopping, but also have to stick to a budget and want to save for their family's future. That is real life, after all! Good luck šŸ™‚ I'm excited to follow along in your journey!

  35. online shopping is what gets me in trouble. this year i started with a cc with a very low limit (like $1000) and that is what i have to spend on groceries, kids stuff, etc. & if i have any left over i can treat myself. we pay it off the 1st of every month. also, clothes we don't wear i sell on ebay. that is my spending money too. it is definitely a work in progress, but we are starting somewhere. thanks for the post!

  36. TDW says:

    Great post! It really is such a neccessary reminder to us all that no one has "everything" or the perfect life. I used to live in a really beautiful area, but every house on our street was about to get divorced! My H and I both have grad degrees, a great income and no debt beyond some student loans. It took us a while to get there, but I still always think, "how can we not afford these things on our income, but others can?" I just forget sometimes the "others" really can't afford it either. It's so funny how human nature is — I know poeple spend money they don't have becuase I did that in the past, but I still always assume other people have more because they can afford it. I truly commend you for tackling this issue in your private life and for sharing it with us. Obviously, you've got great style and style is NOT something that can be bought! So no matter what your budget, you will always be someone others admire for her style šŸ™‚

  37. seanna says:

    Thank you for your transparency! I wish more popular SAHM bloggers would take a tip from you and own up to how life really is at times. I agree with some of the other comments, I often read your blog (along with MANY other blogs) and wondered at the money you had to be making to afford all you had and still be a SAHM. I've often had to quit reading blogs because I got so fed up with that feeling of inferiority I would get because I wasn't wearing Tory Burch shoes or David Yurman bracelets or whatever the popular pricey must-haves are. I admire you for coming clean about some real-life struggles, especially ones that are hard to admit.

  38. This was a great post and I totally understand and I am in the same boat! I love your honestly and your blog!

  39. Christina says:

    thank you, yet again, for another honest post!

  40. stickyheels says:

    I think part of this is learning to take personal responsibility for what you are buying. It can be easy to get sucked into the "Keeping Up With The Joneses" mentality, but we are making those purchases on our own – no one is forcing us to swipe that card or click "Purchase". I know a trick that has worked in the past is freezing your credit card – literally – put it in a cup/tupperware/bag, fill it with water, and freeze it. When you want to use it, you have to go home, get it, unfreeze it – and in the midst of that you have all that time to think about what it is you're trying to get your hands on. Do you really want it that bad? Do you really need it? It's just a suggestion, and it sounds silly but it works!!

  41. Meredith says:

    Well said, Natalie. Too often women (in particular) compare ourselves vs. others and it isn't fair! Money is always a difficult subject and I think you've got your head on straight about this one. Good luck to you!! You'll be great.
    p.s. this is golden and so true, "Oh and lets all make a point to be thankful for what we have" thanks for the reminder!

  42. Unknown says:

    I've never posted before and I just wanted to say thank you for your honesty and for making me look at my own spending and debt. Even reading comments have given me some ideas. Thank you so much!

  43. Tess says:

    Thanks for this post. I'm just about to start my married life, and finances are VERY scary to me. I grew up with a family who didn't have to worry about money, after a certain point, and now I feel like I'm back at point zero. I often wonder HOW THE HELL people find ways to save enough money for a down payment, emergency, or a two week trip WITHOUT getting themselves into debt. I would love if you did a weekly series or random update on what works. It's hard to find people that are open on this topic, and yet, so many people need some direction – – – including me!

    Good luck mama!!

  44. Tess says:

    Thanks for this post. I'm just about to start my married life, and finances are VERY scary to me. I grew up with a family who didn't have to worry about money, after a certain point, and now I feel like I'm back at point zero. I often wonder HOW THE HELL people find ways to save enough money for a down payment, emergency, or a two week trip WITHOUT getting themselves into debt. I would love if you did a weekly series or random update on what works. It's hard to find people that are open on this topic, and yet, so many people need some direction – – – including me!

    Good luck mama!!

  45. Emma Casler says:

    I am so proud of your post! I think so many blogger mama's feel this way (keeping up with the Jones or bloggers) . . . This is something I have been wrestling with too as we did jsut bu ya house and I want to make it look like all the blog world homes AND I love fashion and want all new summer clothes …. BUT we have 2 little girls and I want to be responsible too . . . I am going to read that book you recommended … maybe we can do this together!!

  46. Oakley Twins says:

    My hubs and I did the Dave Ramsey plan. The only debt we have are my student loans. No car payments, no mortgage. We do not have credit cards. If we don't have the money we do not buy it. This means some months after getting the kids food and needs we are eating ramen noodles. Since having our twins and me quitting my job things have been tough and very tight but I am so thankful to not be accumulating debt. I can't recall last time I went shopping other than for groceries. However, this makes birthdays, holidays and anniversaries that much more special. I wish I could shop but I know this is all temporary. Things will be different in a few years… And frankly, I'm not missing out on anything I haven't already done. My kids pretty much live off of hand me downs and gifts and I am thankful for our families kindness. I wish you luck and strength in this new endeavor. You can do it.

  47. S. says:

    Thank you for posting this Natalie! Here are some tips that have helped me over the last couple of years post-divorce. I have always strived for financial stability but clearly a dual income allowed me to have a larger discretionary budget.

    1.) Stop all store emails about sales, new products, etc. They only fuel the fire to want to consume more.

    2.) Shop your closet. You already have beautiful items that probably only see the light of day once in a while. We only wear about 20% of our wardrobe – keep that in mind and only buy things you adore and need.

    3.) Open up a bank account in your name only. I can't say this enough. Marital status has nothing to do with financial security. God forbid something happens and you are raising a child on your own. Your family can only help so much. Think of long-term expenses like college, illness, etc. I don't have a child but I do this for myself – I don't want to be a burden on my family.

    4.) Continue to use credit cards. You need to build good credit to make large purchases down the road. If needed, cut your cards but don't close the accounts. Closing accounts lowers your credit.

    5.) Hire a financial advisor at a place like Fidelity. They'll help you with starting retirement accounts and understanding your long-term needs.

    6.) When times are good, put that money in the bank or invest! Decide with your husband what your large purchases will be that year and stick to it – a vacation, car, etc.

    7.) Max out your retirement accounts every year – set up a Roth IRA or traditional IRA and max it out every year.

    8.) Apart from long-term retirement savings, keep 6-months salary in the bank. People are laid off, get sick, etc. This is especially true when you're relying on one income. It can take months to find a new job.

    9.) Please research non-Dave Ramsay alternatives. A financial advisor will give you personalized advice based on your own life goals.

    10.) Pay off your debt asap. You will feel like a weight is lifted when you do. Make that a family goal that plays into the financial decisions you make. It will mean scaling down in the short-term and having more options (and financial security) in the long-term.

    I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck. Please keep us updated on how it goes!

  48. Shannon says:

    Loved this post and your honesty. It is definitely something that so many of us can relate to and I have enjoyed reading through the comments to hear how other people are managing their spending.

    a few things that have helped me are to ignore/unsubscribe to the sales emails that you get from stores. so many times the "50% this weekend" marketing emails can suck us in. if you don't see them, you won't be tempted. another tip would be to not put yourself in a situation where you can be tempted. at times where i am trying to save and not spend much, i just won't go into places like target, the mall, etc. that way, i don't even see things that i like/want to buy. it definitely helps!

    good luck to you and keep us updated on what you find that works for you and your family!

  49. Taylor says:

    great post natalie. i agree with so much of what you said – and I am a shopper too and it is baaad. I feel like when I am married and have to be a team player with the finances it is going to be tough. good for you to cut back and realize the money will be for your future and sterlings future! id love for you to share tips and what is working or not working

  50. Megan says:

    Natalie, I have read your blog for the past year or so and it is always one that I check daily. However, recently I have gotten sick of all the $300 dress purchases and lists of high priced things you plan on buying at the most recent Friends and Family sale. So I applaud you for getting real with yourself and being honest with people.The blogging world is pretty ridiculous.I would advise you, as much as I do love your blog, to take a break from it if you feel like it is putting a strain on your life or making you become greedy and selfish. It is a fantasy land. The most important thing for you, your darling boy, and your marriage is to be financially responsible.
    I recently read the Millionaire Nextdoor, and also really like Smart Couples Finish Rich.
    Pray that you will find peace with the good things in your life and that you will be happy with the blessings the Lord has given you.
    Rooting for you!

  51. Amanda says:

    Great post. Thank you for your honesty. I am also a SAHM who likes to shop. Going from having an income of my own to none. Two things that have worked from me… The idea of having a capsule wardrobe. Got this from thedailyconnesuier.com and her book lessons from madam chic. She rejects constant consumerism and disiaplines herself to a 10 item wardrobe. Secondly I have been selling my old handbags, shoes, clothes w/ tags, etc on ebay and trying to only do future shopping with that money. They both help with wardrobe clutter or as I think of it now, clothes hoarding. Love your blog. -Amanda

  52. Sara Mueller says:

    Oh Natalie! You and I are on the same page! I am a shopper and when I had my own job it was nice to be able to go treat myself to something new on the weekends. I always thought that I would keep going up the ladder in my profession and make more money. I thought that the older I got, the more I could afford. Well, it isn't that way and it's been really hard to adjust to the reality. I keep wanting more and more and better and better brands. Just today, I was thinking of drafting a post "live within your means." You beat me to it girl. We must be on the same wavelength. This is a topic that is so hard to talk about and you are so brave for sharing with all of us. My husband always lectures me on my spending and there is so much stress around this topic in my life right now. I am actually liquidating my 401k and thank goodness it's a big amount to actually pay off all of our debt and live debt free. The problem is not going back there again and racking up a credit card. I am getting rid of mine. I have actually been depressed about it because it means no more shopping.

    Have a great weekend Natalie! And thanks for sharing really! You are the best!

  53. Natalie says:

    Thanks for such an honest post. I struggle with so much of the same and I think you're amazing for starting to document your budget/debt-paying. I'll be looking forward to reading! Have a great weekend, Natalie!

  54. Good for you for taking note of your situation! I think it's awesome you're sharing it with your readers b/c this is obviously an issue for so many. And really, how can you not want to shop all the time as a blogger? Everyday we're searching out new things… It's going to lead itself to shopping šŸ™‚

    But really, what it comes down to is appreciating what you have and enjoying. Planning for the future (retirement, emergencies, kids' school and wedding…) is crucial and should really be put first even though at the time it doesn't seem like fun, it totally will be one day.


  55. This came at the best time Luke and I had a fight literally last night about this! I struggle so much with wanting to do more then I can to my house and it gets so depressing when I can't. I'm in the same boat so send the advice my way girl!

  56. Aaryn Rubin says:

    Oh My!!!! I feel the saaaaame way….it almost makes me want to quit reading blogs b/c of all the things people are flashing in my face-I feel envious, and bad about my fashion, how I dress my kids, etc.

    I REALLY enjoy seeing things that are affordable! AKA from Target…yet I still have a hard time convincing myself that I should buy that stuff instead…

    Unfortunately we do have debt-TONS (and I'm sure you can't imagine the number…lets just say my husband went to medical school) along with some credit card debt from some unexpected situations and it's a huge stress every month come time the bill is due.

    It's a vicious cycle-I feel bad NOT having things, so I buy them…but then when I have to really pay for them, I feel bad then too…

    It's so hard…


  57. MAY32 says:

    I love, lvoe, love your blog and read it daily. These personal posts are what really attract me. Not long after you posted about your troubles with pregnancy, I had my own miscarriage and I re-read your post and it helped so much. This one comes at a great time b/c I've been being a little deceitful with my hubby about my own CC spending while I'm supposed to be paying down my debt and now I committted to doing the "adult" thing. Please keep us updated!!

  58. Alicia xoxxo says:

    This is one of my fave posts Natalie! The blog world is so full of what others have, and the bigger is better , more is best philosophy. I find myself struggling at times too. But then I quickly pull a reality check on myself. I stop and thank God for what I DO have and not what I want. Its hard, I know. But it does help me. Instead of spending time online shopping I try to get outside more. I used a credit card in college and racked up some debt and it scared me to death that I wasnt going to be able to pay it off. After I got my first job I paid it off and swore I wouldnt use it again unless I could pay it off in full. Its worked for me. Its been really hard because I can get a serious case of the "I wants". I am trying to live on a serious budget now because Cali is expensive. It still a work in progress though because we have had some unexpected expenses this year. But I am still working on it! Love your honesty! You ROCK!!

  59. Girl, I could have written this same post. We just paid a huge chunk of cc debt last month, and still have a bit to go. I feel like I have an addiction to having new things – gotta get over that. It feels good to know that we're not the only ones who sometimes end up charging the necessities. My husband is on commission, too, and his paychecks are either good or practically zilch. When they're good, I feel like it's okay to go out and spend, spend, spend, when we clearly need to be saving! Thanks for your honesty. Have a good weekend.

  60. I'm not going to lie, every time I see a new clothing purchase on your blog I think, "How many blouses & maxi dresses does one person need?", lol. I work as a financial planner, and more of our multi-millionaire clients wear the same clothes for years and drive older cars than you would ever believe-but that's part of how they got there, that is their savings mindset. I suggest making saving money a game. Every day, I challenge myself to see if I can go through the whole day w/out spending a penny. It kind of makes it a fun challenge. Secondly, your new family mantra should be "we do not invest money in depreciating assets", as in, unnecessary clothing, expensive cars (one of the dumbest), credit card debt subject to high interest rates, etc. Instead, you must put your dollars to work for you: retirement plans (I cannot stress this enough–ask yourself if buying that new blouse is worth eating cat food for dinner when you're retired and poor), emergency savings, etc. I agree to start small & pay off your current debt first. Make a contract with yourself that you will never ever borrow against your 401(k) ever ever again. I also think you should talk to an financial planner (start asking friends/family for referrals)and get help crafting a simple budget & savings plan for the next 5 years or so to get you through this first bumpy part of debt removal. You can do it. There will always be a sale-you don't have to get it all this minute!

  61. Natalie – great post! I've been reading your blog for a while. I actually went to MPHS and UNC-CH too, but am a few years younger than you.
    There is no one right way and I find this is something every couple struggles with to some degree. For us, I love to shop (my weakness is decorating even more than clothes), but also get terrible buyers' remorse, as we are both pretty financially conservative. My husband and I both work, so of course I want a little spending money. What has worked best for us over the last almost 4 years is for me to have a set "allowance." If I spend all of May's $ on May 1, then too bad — I cannot buy anything again until June. It makes me really think about purchases and then I don't feel guilty because it's part of our monthly expenses. My "allowance" (really just a budget) is to be used for home decorating and clothes. This has really worked for us and allowed me to not feel bad or questioned by my husband by purchases.
    Good luck and thanks for sharing your life with us!

  62. I'm so glad you wrote think! The blog world is a wonderful place of encouragement and inspiration but so many times I find myself wanting more than I need. Whether its a dress or new makeup or something to add to my house, I can so very easily become envious of others. And not only do I become envious of things, I even covet people's "picture perfect lives." But the truth is, we all have things we want and can't have. Whether it can be purchased or not. And I, for one, am just encouraged to know that I'm not the only person in this boat. You always do such an amazing job staying transparant with your blog and I think that is what I love the most about it. It's not over the top with photography or insanely expensive items. Its every day living at its finest!

  63. Val says:

    Wow – this is a really powerful post! I can relate to everything you said in every way. I'm a shopper, too and it's really hard for me not to shop and I often think to myself why am I buying this. I'm proud of you and you inspire me.

  64. Amanda Leigh says:

    Thank you so much for being so raw and honest in this post.

    Im a long time reader… and I LOVE your blog. I am getting geared up to be leaving my job in the next month to move to a new city for my husbands promotion. We decided to take this opportunity because when I have children, it will allow me to be a SAHM. I am constantly worried about not having spending money because I will no longer have MY income. I often look towards your blog (and others) and wonder how you can afford to be a SAHM and still shop consistenly through the month… like just wondering how you and your husband decide what % of monthly income goes towards the "fun shopping". Ive been so jealous knowing I wouldnt be able to afford a new dress on the kind of budget we will have to follow.
    It was so refreshing to hear that not everything is as it seems. Its a reminder I have to keep telling myself, so I dont get discouraged in life. Which is often!!
    I have never had credit card debt, but that is probably just because my mindset from birth was always, if I dont have it I dont use it. I have never even thought about spending more than I can pay off each month. It wasnt til college that I learned that a huge % of our population lives in CC debt. to say I was shelterd is an understatement!! Everything suddenly became so clear to me as to why I always felt "poor" when I knew I Wasnt.
    I believe in you and I think you can do anything you set your mind to! Admitting it to the world (I.e. blogland) is incredible and takes a lot of courage. Good luck in your journey, it will be tough, but soooo worth it when you pay that last penny!

  65. I had to stop reading certain blogs because I would be completely overcome with jealousy and it made me feel awful! That's why I love you.. you're real and fabulous and honest and someone I want to really hang out with. We started a budget about a year ago and it has saved our lives and made us think about every penny we spend. We pay all our bills, set a grocery budget etc and then what's left is 'spending money'. When you use cash only you make sure you buy what you really want.. it's been so good for me. The budget wasn't about taking stuff away, more a reality check that if you spend $100 at the drug store on hairspray and stuff, you can't get that great sweater you want.. it made me think and I'm so thankful for it. Once you get used to it you're going to love it!! xoxo S

  66. We use a rewards credit card and pay the balance every month, but once a year we take the money cash back. If you can pay it down and then pay it off monthly, it's nice to rack up those rewards for "free".

  67. Unknown says:

    There are soooo many comments. I have no idea if I am repeating. I just want to say that Dave's plan works. The how to book is actually "The Total Money Makeover". Definitely worth reading. It changed our lives forever more!

  68. I think it was really brave of you to post this! I often wonder how so many young bloggers can afford their seemingly lux lifestyles!

    Best of luck to you!

  69. Lindsey says:

    I so needed this post. Can't wait to hear about your progress!!

  70. GirlOntheRun says:

    You are so brave to share. Honestly I love your style. And I would never fork over 300 bucks for a dress, but your posts did inspire a lot of my wardrobe choices. I think you will be as stylish in a $30 dress, and smart too. And remember you are rich in other ways

  71. This is so true and always a good reminder esp your statement that is about the people and memories we have and make in our lives. The past year has been a big adjustment for us as we recently moved to Texas, bought a big home and I am no longer working ft. We are on a tight budget which is hard some months as I also like to shop esp for my little one. My husband is anal about money so I know it bothers him to see me go and drop $50 on really nothing. I need to also remember what is it that we want to achieve/bigger picture of things. Good luck to you as well and I hope you find some great bargains before your true budget starts.

  72. HP says:

    You've never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul. It's wonderful you want to invest in what really matters and has a huge payback…your connections to your friends and family.

  73. Erin says:

    I truly appreciate your honesty! My husband is a new physician and the pressure to have the nice things for our home, kids and ourselves is an endless struggle of want and need. I look forward to hearing about your ideas!

  74. Erin says:

    I truly appreciate your honesty! My husband is a new physician and the pressure to have the nice things for our home, kids and ourselves is an endless struggle of want and need. I look forward to hearing about your ideas!

  75. Thank you so so so much for this post! I struggle with this on a daily basis. My husband and I started the Dave Ramsey system about 6 years ago and it worked so great for us. We didn't use credit cards for about 3 years, and I still feel really great about where we are. That being said, we did finally break down and get a credit card, and it's been the hardest thing ever to not spend like crazy, and, yes, we now have some debt because of it. We have one income, a house that's no where near where I want it to be, two older cars and I can't buy the damn J.Crew bag that I want so much. šŸ™‚ Buuuut, my husband is a banker and he says to me all the time- "I promise you, the majority of people can't afford the lifestyle they live." It's just the world we live in unfortunately. I will say, paying off debt is the best feeling ever and you'll never regret it. It takes courage to make that decision, for sure, but it will literally change your life. I can't tell you how thankful I am to you for writing this post! Much love and good luck! xo, Emily

  76. SAHM80 says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! I left my corporate (well paying) job to relocate after my husband finished his surgery residency. It's insane the amount of money banks will loan a physician for a home. We were smart (my husband is tight) and we purchased a home for less than half the amount we were approved for. I look around and our friends have the homes that cost $$$$$$$ and they drive one car that cost more than both of our cars. It's crazy and I thinkmyself, why can't I have that or why don't we live there?!?! We don't take $$$ vacations and we only live on half of my husbands salary. The remainder of our money goes into savings and college funds. I'm a SAHM to a soon to be 3 year old and we have another baby on the way due in August. I love fashion and follow many blogs and wonder how the heck do they afford those clothes and SHOES?!?! Immarried to a surgeon and I don't spend money like that on my clothes. I would love2have all the designer items, but would much rather have a great savings account and money for my daugthers college. I would also love to dress my daugther in Lilly P. and Matilda Jane every day, but I must be realistic. Which is why her closet is a variety of, Matilda Jane, Zara, H&M, Gymboree, Target, Wal Mart and even K-Mart. She's 2, she is going to destoy everything she wears. However, so many people I know only dress their kids in designer clothes and send them to the most $$$$ schools. I even asked my husband the other day if we were poor compared to some of our friends. He said, "No, we're smart and will be retiring early while they're still working." So, thank you for sharing your story. So many women feel the need to impress other people and carry the best handbag, drive the most $$ car and have kids in designer clothes. I applaud you for keeping it real!!

  77. Nat says:

    You are not alone! When I married my husband almost 4 yrs ago I had $10k in credit card debt- my husband paid it all off for me with his hard earned savings and then promptly took ALL my credit cards away and put me on an "allowance". (it's not as bad as it sounds) My allowance is basically a set amout of money each month that I can spend on whatever I want and he can't say anything about it. As much as it SUCKS sometimes at the same time it has made me appreciate and save for each item I buy now.
    Also by being on a budget we have been able to do some many things like buy a new car and new house that I know we couldn't have done if I had kept shopping the way I used to and racking up debt. It's really hard in the beginning but if you just try to look at the big picture it gets so much easier! Blogging doesn't help at all- looking at everyone's new clothes, handbags, shoes and houses just makes it that much harder.
    If you make a resonable budget I know you can stick to it- and sometimes it's fun to see where you can save money! Good luck girl and thanks for sharing!

  78. LULUMOM says:

    I loved this post! Honestly you are the only blog I have stayed committed to reading because you are so real. I like you, loooove to shop for myself and my 2 little girls! I never had to work, and my husband too, is commission only. I am ashamed to admit that my shopping and my husbands commission only job (in a bad economy), put us in major debt. I now have to work from home, which has been tough. All the clothes I have, I do not even wear and spend most days in sweats. It's so not worth it, and I wish I could take it all back. Thank you for being honest and sharing this with all of us. It is good to know that other moms go through the same stuff. We live in a county where most of our friends have bought huge homes, and we are still in our little humble home. I have to admit i find myself being envious all the time. At the end of the day we should all be thankful for what we have.

  79. Megan says:

    Jeremy and I use an excel worksheet to budget. It is a great way to see what you are actually spending your money on! Quite an eye opener!! One way we TRY (sometimes can be hard) is we try to eat at home and meal plan as often as possible!! We try to "use what we have" vs running out every night for ingredients! Planning ahead from grocery sales and what you have can save money AND time! Even decreasing your weekly grocery bill $5-$10 is awesome! Every bit helps!! šŸ™‚ I try to coupon but it is very time consuming but I'm hoping to make some time! I also receive the text coupons from Target (great but sometimes dangerous! Haha) check to see if your local grocery store does too! Ours sends out weekly texts with great coupons that can be taken off your phone! šŸ™‚

  80. Shannon says:

    Excellent post! We have tried mint.com to track all of our accounts in spot and track our spending and net worth over time. It is eye opening to see everything consolidated in one spot.

  81. It can definitely be hard to not compare yourself to others or want what others have! I think setting goals or seeing shopping as a treat, rather than everyday hobby can really help. I did a bit of a spending freeze at the beginning of the year, which was also linked to weight loss goals. It showed me that cutting back really wasn't that hard–I didn't feel deprived and it also allows me to splurge every now and then without guilt because I'm not constantly spending!

  82. Such a great post. Refreshing to learn that so many of us can relate to this struggle. Really appreciate your candor.

  83. Great post Natalie. I started feeling the same way. I had to start limiting my access of FB, Instagram and Blogger bc I could feel myself getting consumed with envy and constantly wondering how all these people afforded to stay at home with their kids, go on vacation, buy designer clothes and decorate their fabulous houses. Josh and I have a great income and we are blessed beyond belief in this crazy economy but living in a pretentious Dallas suburb can start to consume your life. I love new things and I love to spend money so it's been a real challenge. My parents paid for everything in college but I took out a couple of CC's and racked up quite a bit of debt in college and right after on frivolous material things. I paid all the debt off but starting racking it back up when I stayed home for a few years with the kids. Now I am still trying to pay it all off again. Josh is not a spender so I feel guilty that I am the reason we even have any debt. Being Thankful for what I have is something I am trying to remember everyday especially when I read about all the fabulous things people are doing and out buying. Looking forward to your updates on this topic!

  84. You are simply amazing! You blog is successful, because of your honesty. Thank you for letting us behind the curtain, I appreciate your openness. Finances are tough! You are already blessed with what you have: a husband, a son, a beautiful family, and friends! That is more than enough that what other people wish they had- YOU CAN DO IT! You have inspired me to do the same:)

  85. Hannah says:

    Such a wonderful, honest post! I have friends who swear by Dave's finance plan. I'm the world's worst about creating a budget (spreadsheets, apps) and not sticking to it. When I see money in my account I think it's there to spend, and I am horrible about just letting it sit and accumulate. One tip I have is to have a percentage of Matt's income each paycheck go directly into a separate account that you don't have a debit card for. Let it accumulate or use it to pay off debt each month. It's much easier for me not to think about it if I don't have easy access or use it for daily wants or needs. I love the pic about if you want something you've never had you have to do something you've never done. I need to make that my iPad background or print it for my fridge. Xx

  86. Megan says:

    Very brave of you to be so open about your situation Nat- I admire you. I've been a Dave Ramsey fan for a long time- I used to listen to his radio show at lunch everyday and it's great daily motivation to keep the shopping in check. When you hear families scream, "We're debt free!!!" after working for years to pay off their debt so their family can have a better life, it brings tears to your eyes.

  87. Shannon says:

    Wonderful post! So real and level headed.

  88. Thanks for taking your time writing this post! Cheers, coupon and voucher
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  89. SaavyShopper says:

    Yes. So much this. Contentment is worthy of striving for but is sometimes so difficult to achieve. Wish I knew why.