(Re)Creating Carly











It’s been about three months since I set out on my quest to become debt-free. And in that time, I’ve managed to pay off almost $6,000 of debt. (Yippeeee!) I’ve clearly gotten okay at sticking to a budget. But I’ve learned a lot more than that since becoming admitting I’m broke.

#1 Carly’s Computer Repair–At Your Service.

When my laptop recently stopped working, I feared it might become a gigantic financial roadblock for me. In the past, I would have used it as an excuse to buy a new one.  But this time around, I knew that just wasn’t in my budget. Neither was a gigantic invoice from the computer repair shop. When I consulted a techie friend of mine, he told me he thought it might be the motherboard. So I headed to one of my favorite stores–eBay, and was psyched to find new motherboards listed for one-sixth of the price it would cost for someone else to fix it. My inner computer geek’s hard drive started humming and I thought, hey, people repair computers all the time–how hard can it be? So I ordered a new motherboard–$60 including shipping–and let a YouTube video guide me as I performed my first surgery. When I finished and my laptop flashed awake for the first time in days, I felt as if I had just saved the world. And I had. Well, at least my little world.

My living room floor mid-surgey

My living room floor mid-surgery

#2 How to eat all meals plus snacks for only $5/day.

I used to spend almost twice this amount just on lunch every day. But now I cook all of my meals, am eating much healthier food, and am saving a ton of money. Here are some pictures of my latest creations. (I’m not sure the pictures do them justice, but trust me–they were really good. And keep in mind that these are from the girl who used to burn bagels regularly.)

Avocado, tomato and mushroom omelet

Avocado, tomato and mushroom omeletty thing

Breaded and baked tilapia with chickpea/spinach salad

Breaded and baked tilapia with chickpea and spinach salad

Slow-cooked barbecued chicken with sauteed zucchini and brown rice

Slow-cooked barbecued chicken with sauteed zucchini and brown rice

Vegetable stuffed peppers

Veggie stuffed peppers

For other recipes, a blog I follow called Drinking the Office Coffee recently posted some great–and cheap–recipe ideas in her post, Finding the Joy in Packing Lunch. Check it out.

#3 How to make extra cash.

In the midst of coming to terms with my financial situation back in January, I contacted a credit counselor. I had high hopes this phone call would provide me with some sort of financial panacea that would allow me to continue living exactly as I had been. But after hearing every detail of my sob story, the counselor paused for a moment and said unsympathetically, “There’s nothing I can do for you. You just have to make more money.”

The thought of getting a second job at the time made me miserable. I already worked so much and got home most days completely exhausted. But there was just no other way. So I started looking for extra work and found out I could pick up extra hours at my job. I also sold things. Websites like eBay make it so easy to turn stuff you no longer want or need into cash. Additionally, instead of giving up some much-needed relaxation this summer to a full-time job, I decided to sublet my apartment and am going to visit friends and family in CT, Boston, and Tampa. All of my home expenses will be covered while I’m gone and all the extra money will go straight to my debt. (And as a bonus–my ticket to Florida cost a whopping $10. Thank you, Delta Skymiles!)

I also recently finished an application to TaskRabbit — a website that matches people who need errands done with people willing to do them for a fee. I’m hoping this will result in some extra debt repayment money over the next year.

I’m constantly looking for new ways to increase my income, so if anyone has any other side-work ideas, please share!

#4 Friends love me for me—not the restaurants where I eat or the clothes I wear.

I mean, I knew this, but I also worried that people wouldn’t want to spend as much time with me because I can’t afford to do as much. It turns out everyone has been incredibly supportive. I’ve even inspired a few friends to get a bit more proactive about their own financial situations. The old saying is true–real friends don’t care if you’re broke. Or maybe I just made that up. But it’s still true.

#5 Bloggers are really cool – yes, that means YOU!

Since I started writing about this journey, I’ve received a tremendous amount of positive feedback and support from other bloggers. It goes such a long way in helping me stay motivated. Thank you so much! And an extra special thank you to the following three who recently mentioned my blog in their posts:

Brigitte’s Banter — Brigitte’s blog is uplifting and thought-provoking. Her latest post, Monday Musings and Motivations –Wishes, is all about the importance of making wishes–no matter what age we are. She is also the writer of the wildly popular and Freshly Pressed, A Gracious Guide to Benevolent Blogging. Every blogger should read this. Seriously.

Noted in Nashville — Anita is talented and insightful. Her latest post is all about that dreaded “Blogger’s Block.” What do you do when you just can’t think of something to blog about? Check out Whatever Am I Doing? Whatever Am I doing? for her take on this common experience.

Budget and the Beach — I’m so glad I stumbled across this beach lover’s personal finance blog. It’s been a huge inspiration to me. Please wish her a Happy One Year Blogiversary and enter to win her raffle for $50 cash and a $15 Starbucks gift card. (How cool is that?)

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This journey is just beginning for me, but I’ve already learned so much. Can’t wait to find out what the next 14 months have in store for me.

What lessons have your recent journeys taught you?

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