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Posted on Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

How my 76-day savings plan is changing my relationship with money

By Lizzy Alfs


Since I started my savings plan, I've been bringing my lunch to work every day.

Melanie Maxwell |

Note to my readers: I've updated this article to remove a trademarked term.

I’ve always been a spender.

Maybe it’s my love of fashion; maybe it’s the only-child syndrome (thanks, Alfred Adler), but I’ve always spent beyond my means.

Luckily, I never had a credit card until this year — my dad would never allow it — and I’m blessed not to have student loans. Experian says Generation Y’s average debt is $34,765, and I’m extremely fortunate to have none.

But what I lack, like many other people my age, is a plan. I’m part of a generation that needs training in how to save money and how to spend responsibly before accumulating thousands in debt.

So, with 2013 quickly approaching and my 24th birthday right around the corner, I knew it was time to kick my out-of-control spending habits and start a legitimate savings account. But how?

If you’re like most of my friends and family, you’ve never heard of a so-called "Spending Fast."

I came across the idea while searching for money-saving tips on the Internet. Taking the advice of women like Anna Newell Jones and Laura Shin, I decided to stop spending money on “wants” and only spend money on “needs.” Daunting, for me at least.

I’m not taking it to the extremes that these women did — making their own laundry detergent and using coffee grounds as a facial exfoliator — but it does mean some serious cutbacks and changing my habits. I’m lucky that I don’t have many financial obligations and that I’m not in serious debt, but the idea is to rethink my relationship with money before it’s too late.


I've been spending a lot of time cooking since I started my savings plan.

On Oct. 15, I spent hours creating a budget plan — something I’ve never been able to stick to, no matter how hard my dad tried. But this plan cut out everything: my daily coffee purchase, my biweekly trip to Whole Foods, lunch outings, movies, drinks with friends, my beloved Pure Barre (well, sort of) and the big one: clothing.

I decided I’d be proactive about managing my finances. I would rethink spending and saving.

I decided to walk to work as many days as possible to save gas money. I’d bring my lunch to work every day. I’d eat leftovers. And more leftovers. I’d steal my roommate’s shampoo (sorry, Caroline). I’d utilize the library. I would go for a run instead of paying for spinning or kickboxing.

And on Oct. 17, with a plan to keep it up until Jan. 1, the plan commenced.

After 33 days, here’s what I’ve learned:

Life happens. And it will knock your savings plan off-course.

Sure, I spent hours making the perfect budget plan — down to the exact dollar amount. That’s great and everything, but after two days, I had to throw it out the window.

You can plan all you want, but life happens. Doctor's appointments, parking tickets (yes, I’ve had three this month), quarters for laundry.

What’s important is to just keep updating your plan and to deal with the curveballs as they come your way. Yeah, I had to spend $75 at the doctor, but at least I returned bottle cans and made back $20.


My goal: to stop spending money on "wants" and only spend money on "needs."

Since I made that first budget plan, I’ve made adjustments and given myself $100 a month in wiggle room. That way, I’m not disappointed when I have to shell out money on something unexpected. It also lets me to splurge on that bottle of wine or new Taylor Swift CD (don’t judge) without feeling guilty.

I get really, really bored.

There’s no such thing as running errands when you’re not spending money. Without that and without eating at restaurants or going out with friends, it’s amazing how much more free time I have.

But it’s also meant a lot of time spent on my couch trying to figure out what to do.

Things like “Free Activities in Ann Arbor” and “How to Pick up a Hobby” have replaced shopping websites on my Google search history. I’m trying to find volunteering activities I’m passionate about.

Even after my daily workout, I’ve gotten in the habit of taking long walks. I’m returning to books that have sat on my bookshelf for years. I’ve been cleaning, a lot. I find myself working late at night. I’m trying to start a board game night with my friends. It’s a good problem to have, but I still need to figure out the best ways to spend my free time that don’t involve money. (I’m soliciting ideas, people!)

Cooking…it’s not so bad, after all

One hobby I have taken up during the past month is cooking.

Spurred in part by a “bring your lunch to work” challenge my coworkers and I started, I’ve had some fun browsing recipes and being adventurous in the kitchen.

Instead of paying $10 for lunch every day and stopping at the Whole Foods salad bar for dinner, I’ve been making big pots of chili, freezing leftover pesto and reuniting with an old love: PB&J. I convinced my dad to take me to a restaurant and then ate the leftovers for days (I’m an only child, remember).

I made Martha Stewart’s peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for my coworkers — twice. I made butternut squash couscous and ate it for a week (not my best).

I’ve also been savvier in the grocery store; why do I need the most expensive peanut butter on the shelf? Do I really need Coke Zero? Why not buy the off-brand cereal and share milk with my roommate?

In a moment of weakness the other night, I stood in front of the Whole Foods salad bar with a spoon full of edamame salad in hand. As I was scooping it into a plastic container, I thought, “Do you really need this?” I dropped it, walked my butt out of Whole Foods and went home and ate roasted cauliflower.

It’s not always easy — and it’s definitely not always fun — but the satisfaction I’m getting from making conscious money-saving decisions has been incredibly satisfying.

So, 33 days after I asked my Facebook friends to hold me accountable on this savings plan, I’m asking you, too. If you have any ideas or advice, please chime in on the comments section below or email me. I’d love to chat saving money with you, and I’ll keep you updated from time to time.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 9:06 a.m.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I like saving money and all the time looking for new ideas. Cooking at home is great and saves you money, that's why I also bring my lunch at work, it also saves my time and I do not need to go somewhere. There are lots of ways for saving money around us – the most important is to take a look around and start from writing off your spending. Until you do not write it down you do not see where your money goes. Such experiments can really help to change your attitude to money and make a financial behavior much healthier. Candice from


Mon, Dec 17, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

When I made my first real budget-I won't admit how old I got before doing so-I added everything to a yearly number and, dividing by 52, figured out how much I had to net per week to stay on target. That worked surprisingly (to me) well. It allowed for once per year stuff like registering my car, quarterly things including car insurance, and monthly things-being mindful that a month has not 4 weeks, but 4-1/3 weeks if you divide 52 weeks by 12 months. And as well for occasional permission to blow a small amount on a want. I applaud your project undertaken at a much earlier age than mine. And thanks for the stimulus to cook more. And for the note on continuously adjusting the budget plan to reality. btw-My grand plan now includes buying used cars, paying them off, and for as long as possible thereafter banking the former car payment monthly.

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

Lizzy, I'll be packing my lunch in solidarity! Great column!


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

Lizzy, don't forget about: take advandage of the deals and free food, or buddy up with someone else on their birthday and then split the tab.


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

I have been thinking about your article since you posted it. Congratulations for wanting to take more control of your spending. Americans used to be able to get by on a lot less. I had the benefit of learning from my late mother in law who lived through the depression. You can find yourself with surprisingly more available funds by being frugal and exercise the first two R's in the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle practice. For example, use reusable containers for your left overs instead of foil or plastic wrap. By using reusable containers I can make a roll of plastic wrap last over 1 year. I know this because I'm still using last Decembers holiday colored wrap! Use the reusable plastic stretch covers for bowls over plastic wrap (we call these our little shower caps for food). Good ones last for years. And reuse the foil at least once before recycling it (presuming that you have plastic wrap first then foil). Use the smallest piece of foil when wrapping food- remember the handkerchief wrap folding up the opposite corners to make a small piece fit. Wash and reuse your zip lock plastic bags - using caution to ensure they are clean. Before throwing anything away think first 'how can I reuse this?'. Tiny jars make great holders for small nails and brads for example. Your plastic trash bags are good trash liners. Use cloth totes for groceries so you can reuse them over and over. Our grandparents learned to get by on very little by economizing and reusing everything. You will be surprised by the savings that add up by following these practices. You may find enough extra left over for that little something that you want to reward yourself with! Best wishes!

Sarah Rigg

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

Good luck, Lizzy! For me, one of the main "tips" isn't what to buy or not buy or using coupons but is taking on a mindset. Why are you choosing to do this? What do you hope to accomplish? Are you trying to minimize your impact on the earth? Are you trying to build an emergency fund? ARe you cutting out the frivolous so you can save up for something really important (travel, an advanced degree, buying a house, etc.). Are you trying to retire young? For me, it comes down to the fact that debt is slavery. When you owe money, you have to work to pay the debt and it narrows the choices of what kind of jobs/careers you can pursue. YOu have to buy stuff to store your stuff, security systems to guard your stuff and pay people to housesit your stuff. With freedom from debt comes freedom of how to live your life. That's what keeps me on track with spending and saving wisely. Having an emergency fund so you never have to panic if your plumbing goes or your car breaks down is a nice bonus. :)


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

We have a monthly budget for everything. We track our expenses in a shared Google spreadsheet, and when we've hit our budget for say, eating out, we cut it off until the next month. Simple as that. We have a goal for how much we want to put in savings and that money simply disappears - its like it was never there. And, are budget allows for a respectable remaining amount for those little surprises, like car repairs or expensive doctor's bills. So far its working for us really well.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

@Megarz: That's a great idea. That's similar to how my dad handles it - he will take cash out of the ATM knowing that's the $200 or whatever he can spend for two weeks. If it's gone, it's gone.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Finding a place to volunteer might also be helpful. It would alleviate boredom and give you the chance to meet new people. You could also look at prioritizing where you spend your money. Spending time thinking about what you love and what you could live without could be helpful in the long run. Also, you can spend lots of time shopping for clothes at the Salvation Army here in Ann Arbor - it takes a while to go through everything, but I'm always able to find some good things! Good luck!


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

@carrie rheingans: thanks for the heads-up, will pursue info this way!


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

The next step for really trying to find savings is looking at those sneaky, recurring expenses like cable, phone, subscriptions etc. Some you can cut out or reduce, others you'll have to live with. We are savers by nature in our household. I almost never shop at the high end grocers unless I am looking for something specific or entertaining. They are like 20-25% more expensive overall (not on everything). Our kids know our motto is value experiences, not "stuff. " We do spend money "doing things" and don't scrimp when we are on vacation. Our method has given our family freedom. Paid your house off? Have an emergency fund? You can now quit a job if you hate it. Little debt equals great freedom in life. If you can get on that path at age 24 you will be fine.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 4:46 a.m.

$20 in bottles/cans means you picked-up 200 of them (some were ladened with germs). Better that you simply DENY yourself many of the SUPERFICIAL purchases detailed in your post. Go to an On-Line Dictionary for the definition of "Superficial." Really, young lady, have you not heard about "Food, Clothing and Shelter"? All else is SUPERFICIAL. Cancel your Credit Card (means you are borrowing money). Get a Debit Card (means you have money). Then buy a book about Finance and the Meaning of Debt! Smiles!


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 3:48 a.m.

Nice story Liz, You are well placed now to deal with the new economy. Americans are pressured to spend at every turn. I also admire the work of Dave Ramsey. Check that out readers.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

I always hate the extreme sides on the issue of money. The fact that everybody says live every day to the fullest, then in the next breath you have people who want to use leaves for toilet paper. Buy the things you enjoy, the purpose of money is to use it to enjoy things in life. I look at my aunt who scrimped and saved her whole life and stashed away a ton of money. Never took vacation, never had anything new, never ate out, and when she died at 59, what did she have to show for it? She never enjoyed the fact that she could have gone on a trip., she could have spent some of the money to actually enjoy her life while she was alive. The people who were able to see the benefit to all her lifelong savings? The doctors and hospitals, and a little left over for her kids at the end. I would rather enjoy life than die wit tons of money in the bank but no experiences to show for it.

Andy Dufresne

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

You can save money with a no-contract cell phone, instead of locking yourself into one with a contract. Or even better, a non-smart phone. Sure, they are great to check the scores, movie times, weather, or just facebook. But is it something you REALLY need?


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

Andy Dufresne, couldn't agree more. I recently gave sprint the boot-out-the-door and switched to metro pcs, nothin' fancy and for about a dollar a day I can talk/text all I want. I don't need a phone that does everything but fold my laundry! and maybe that's next, but I don't need it.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 11:37 a.m.

Or even better a phone provided by your employer, Paula.. Or reimbursed by her...


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

Lemee take you out to supper. Then you don't have to cook. :)


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Tesla, aren't you the smoothie?! watch out lizzie.........;)

Life in Ypsi

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

Use coupons for the things you normally buy and try to do use them when the store has the items on sale. Many times if you use coupons for toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, etc when they go on sale, the items end up being free or less than $1.00. Shop at Kroger to earn fuel points. Buy clothing second hand. Value World has a great selection and frequently has 50% off coupons. Sign up for emails from companies and like their Facebook pages. Many times they give out coupons, samples and have sweepstakes.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

To all of those who think her plan is a great idea, I have a suggestion. Look into Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. It gives people a plan for getting out of debt (if you have any), how to budget, and how to control your money instead of having your money control you. I personally have been following the steps for the last several months and things are finally looking better financially for me. Many of the things Lizzy has been doing fall into the plan pretty well. The one thing I don't see Lizzy talking about is an emergency fund. This is for those life happens moments.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:21 a.m.

and I can't believe you get "bored". In ten years you will love that time you have nothing to do!


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:18 a.m.

I say start listening to Dave Ramseys radio program asap, I listen several times a week. Hearing what other peoples problems are with money is a good lesson in what NOT to do. It can either help you get out of debt and help you from taking debt on. Preventative measures. His show is on AM 560 2-5pm. Then go down to the library and check out a book of his. (then at 530-6 is the program Healthline, interesting as well) If you can't hear him during those times you can listen to the previous days program (without commercials) on Iheartradio, just search "dave ramsey" and his channel will pop up. Thats what I do if I miss the show.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 1:32 a.m.

Lizzy, I totally agree with chapmaja and grab yourself a copy of Dave Ramsey's book. My wife and I were $190k+ in debt on April 2010 and so far we've paid off $109k of that debt. Step one is to get your emergency fund up to $1,000 dollars, this way your budget won't get knocked down every month because you're right, life happens. Good luck with your new life style.

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

Excellent point on the emergency fund. One of the reasons I decided to do this is because I have NO emergency fund. If my car broke down or something happened to my health -- I need a backup! You bring up a good point, though: maybe I should separate a general savings account from an emergency fund account.

Linda Peck

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Good for you, Lizzy Alfs! You are leaning a lot and going about this creatively, in a way that you can handle. Life is good even when you are not spending much money.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

I was so saddened to read your "I get really really bored" part. You are young, you have things you want to accomplish -- go do them! Pinching every penny is not the opposite of spending money on frivolous stuff like clothes. The opposite of spending on frivolous stuff is spending on things that further your education, broadly defined, that open your world, that get you somewhere you will want to be later on. When you get older, you might have the demands of marriage and children and you will certainly be more tired. Use these high energy years to good purpose, no matter if it costs a bit more. Maintaining a budget as a goal in and of itself sounds a bit control-freaky in one so young (sorry for that bit of judgment).

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

I see what you're saying, definitely. I think, for me, when it comes to money, I have been the complete opposite of "control-freaky" my whole life. I really believe that for a time - even if it's just these few months - I need some structure in my finances. If nothing else, it will give me the training to then go out and accomplish those things I want to accomplish while I'm young.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

Nice. Advice? Learn to meditate. Learning to differentiate between your needs and your wants is a noble ambition which I highly respect, and you may even be able to accomplish this by avoiding the salad bar at Whole Foods but it seems a bit trite to me. If you were my kid I'd advise you to chuck your gig at annarbor dot com, go buy a backpack and a one way tkt to any third world country, and see ya later! :-) You'll figure it out. You're already trying. The rest is just a question of which path you end up on.

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

Wow -- who knows, maybe one day! For right now, Ann Arbor is pretty amazing.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

some of my helpful tips. -packing a lunch: organize weekly or monthly potlucks at work, everyone brings a dish, everyone takes leftovers home or organize it for a midweek day so there are leftovers at work the next day. -Stop buying soda of anykind, when you go out to eat order a water with lemon wedge -learn HOW to coupon. I never buy anything I need online without first doing a search for the name of the store and the words "coupon code", usually I buy local though. -if you have couch time at home and you are "bored" learn how to knit or crochet or get a treadmill or stairmaster at home and listen to language CD -eggs are a cheap food, learn to make an easy cheap frittata, you don't have to go meatless to keep costs down, I eat a lot of chicken and beef on my $70 a month food budget -alcohol is expensive, learn to live without it now and you won't miss it -buy local and use CASH. ask the small business owner at checkout if they have a cash discount, people of your generation rely too much on plastic. I don't care if it is a debit card, it's plastic and costs shopowners 1-5% to swipe it, you may get an instant discount by using cash.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

@bunnyabbot: Wow, incredibly helpful. Great (and observant!) point on the individual yogurts. I just bought a big one this weekend and I am packing it in tupperware to take to work. There's a savings right there I have never even considered before. Peanut butter and honey!!! I am making that this week. Also: cutting deals at the farmers market? I love the idea -- I am a horrible barterer. I am going to try this week. Thanks for the tips :)


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:28 a.m.

-oatmeal, not the instant kind, go to breakfast food, cook it, put some in a bowl, sprinkle in some brown sugar and stir, or go the Irish way and add a pad of butter and then a bit of milk. Some mornings I add honey, strawberries or small apple pieces. Or soak some raisins over night and drain, this replumps them and throw some of those in.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:10 a.m.

-as for the water, I drink tap water and reuse a BPH Free bottle. I make ice cubes using the filtered water, I have a filter at home that removes anything funny tasting about A2s tap water and I also have a fluoride filter that removes the added fluoride. I filter the water I give my dog or cook with. I don't buy bottled water. It is the biggest consumer scam. -my go to snacks are air popped popcorn and then I switch up the seasonings I use on it. (air poppers can be found for $20, I saw one recently at Kohls) Apples (with or without peanut butter), bananas and yogurt. (the photo above shows a small yogurt, STOP buying little cups, buy a big thing and portion it out, add honey, granola or fruit yourself) raw veggies with "dipping sauce", either salad dressing or something I made up. - go to meals, I have a crock pot, in the winter for example I will make a big pot of soup, stew or chili and then freeze some or portion it up to take for lunch. This time of year I am eating a lot of squash and sweet potatoes. Tacos can also be done cheap as well as taco salads. -eat as many in season veggie you can, in season are cheaper -I also pack a peanut butter and honey sandwich several times a week. Also, I go to the farmers market right before 3 when it ends, farmers don't want to pack everything up, you can cut deals with them you wouldn't normally do earlier in the day, squash and sweet potatoes keep several weeks, I cut a deal for a large box. I cook an oven full and then freeze the bounty. -stop using those plastic containers, they are leaching stuff into the food. Make sure you are using BPH free or glass, glass cleans easier. -finally I am able to keep my food budget down to $70 a month because I use coupons, but not everyone is savvy enough or disaplined enough to do it.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 3:39 a.m.

I totally agree with the soda thing. Big Lots has nice water bottles you can buy and fill yourself at home. The water you drink in those bottles you buy? Are actually coming from Lake Michigan. Believe it or not. Cut the soda, cut out the stuff you really don't need. I drink water and I eat pretzels. I make my own cookies and I watch net flex. The movies you go out to see? Are way more expensive then what you can get for what net flex charges. We save a lot doing this. Go out once in a while, because I still can't make a darn fine chinese meal. Good luck.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 8 p.m.

bunny, good call with regard to soda. the stuff is just plain bad for you!!

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

@bunnyabbot We have been talking about doing the potluck thing at work! It's such a great idea and it really makes it easier on everyone, since we'd take turns cooking. You have a $70 a month food budget? What are some of your "go-to" meals? I am a vegetarian, so I don't spend money on meat. But right now, food is by far my biggest expense. I want to eat well, but inexpensively.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

Hot tips for saving money in Ann Arbor: 1.Don't shop at Whole Foods (or Plum Market or Zingermans) they call it Whole Paycheck for a reason. The same baguette costs less across the street at Sparrows than at Zingermans. 2. Don't eat meat. 3. Don't eat out, eat in. 4. Don't drink out, drink in, and drink lots of water. 5. Try getting music, books and videos from the library. 6. Never buy a new car. 7. Buy, don't rent. 8. Support the reuse economy, get your clothes, furniture and other 'needs' at the areas many fine thrift shops and bargin outlets. 9. Vote NO on any tax increases. 10. Turn off your TV, consider the amount you are paying daily for your telecommunications services. Break everything down into a daily expense, how many people realize they are paying $4/day or more for a cell phone? Do your best to tune out the incessant barrage of advertising designed to convince you of your inferiority, so that you will buy a product to improve yourself. One of the big problems in our world today is overconsumption, the massive creation and distribution of unnecessary products, foods, transportation, clothing, etc. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, in our parents generation (my parents anyway, I am twice Ms. Alfs age) this type of discretionary spending was unthinkable. We need to return to a saving economy, instead of a debtors economy. Starve the bankers- why keep giving them money in the form of interest? Charging interest on money lending used to be called usury, and it used to be a sin. Remember the parable of Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple? Also, it was not said that money is the root of all evil, but that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Reject the elitism prevalent in our culture. The fact that our GDP relies so much on consumer spending is shameful in my opinion. Keep up the good work, Ms. Alfs, it may be bad for the 'economy' but it is the right thing to do, for yourself and for our planets future.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

Sensitive is not quite it, more like insulted. I have never been on a board with so many rude people. Who asks "who the hell are you..." when it is an open forum, with the authors invitation to respond? And the constant misquoting, assumptions about motives, putting words in people's mouths. It is far from a civil society on, and I feel that, if I have the time, I should stand up for myself and others.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 4:53 a.m.

My. My. DJBudSonic. You are a "sensitive soul." You must be new to this chat.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 4:05 a.m.

Your misdirected comments barely deserve a reply, but since you have misquoted me I feel compelled to do so. I never said I don't shop at Whole Foods, I suggested that Ms. Alfs not do so if she wants to save money. Meat and meat production carry some of the greatest financial and environmental costs of any industry. If you tout food quality like you do, then quality animal protein is a greater expense than vegetarian fare. Who the hell I am, is someone replying to Ms. Alfs request for ideas. I don't care what you do at all. Same for number 4. I pay my taxes, and therefore pay for the library services. Do you? The suggestion that I don't carry my weight when it comes to taxes is offensive. I would never ask anyone to pay for the things I use, in fact, as a homeowner, I pay for plenty of things I will never use in this city, county, state and country. So do most other people, so I am not sure what your point is here. Ask any accredited financial advisor about a new car vs. a used car and they will say the same thing. I didn't suggest Ms. Alfs buy a 20 yr. old clunker, I bought my family sedan 4 years old, with 12k miles on it, I got a 48 month bumper to bumper warranty with it. I paid 13k less than the price of a new model year version. Better would be to own no car at all. Nobody forced your brother to pay $250k for a house on the brink of the housing bubble collapse. Good deals are to be had nowadays. I suppose I could get some sort of disease from used clothing, but I am pretty familiar with the thrift market in this town and I have never heard of such a thing happening. And you will notice I said used and bargin, places like TJ Maxx, sale shopping etc. We pay big taxes in this town, when the city can show me they are responsible with my money I will support tax increases. If there was a road repair millage I might vote yes. To suggest that a cel phone is a need equivalent to electricity or heating gas is laughable, and telling of your character.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 3:42 a.m.

Turn Off the TV !


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

So what is the purpose of making and having all this extra money if you can not do it to do the things you enjoy doing? 1. I do shop at Whole Foods because the food is NOT the same. The prices are higher on some items but not others. Since you say you do not shop there, HOW DO YOU KNOW? 2. Don't eat meat- I am a vegan, but I do not see this as a financial issue. 3. I enjoy eating out. WHo the hell are you to tell me what I can and can not spend MY money on 4. Same as number 3 5. You mean the library that you do not want to pay taxes for from number 9? Seems you want OTHERS to pay for what you get? 6. My new car came with a very long warranty that no used car has. The fallacy is you believe there is depreciation immediately. When new car sales are strong, used car values go down (over supply). When the sales were slow, the used car market becomes lower supply and raises the prices. My NEW car also does not require new tires, brakes etc for quite some time, AND an added benefit, newer cars tend to get better gas mileage than used models from earler years. The mentality of thinking short term price versus long term costs is the problem here 7. Another fallacy, especially for a 24 year old. My brother bought his home for $250k in 2006. It is now valued around $175k. He can not get out of his house even if he were offered a dream job in another part of the state. Some people prefer freedom over being owned by a home. 8. I am not going to wear another persons used clothing EVER. Ever been to NYC or other major cities? This reuse economy has brought about things like bed bugs and other things that cost for more than new clothes or matresses. Buying intelligently is the answer. Buy what you WANT, but look for good deals and VALUES. 9. Yes because that used car will then be int he shop more because of lousy roads and you wont have a library to get free books, and you can live in a neighborhood that has no taxes and no services. 10. Why not cut out electricty and gas too


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

If you do on line banking, there is an option to have money removed from your checking account into a savings account. Some can be touched and some cannot. What I did is made a savings account completely separate from the checking account. Meaning I have to log into that one and it cannot be seen when doing my usually banking. This way I can't see it. If you forget you are doing this, great. You won't miss it. But yes, if you see a lot money in your account, I know my brain says wow, spending spree. What we are doing now is saving for a nice new used car for next year so that the child can go on her own. So, yes, freeing yourself and being disciplined in money matters is really tough. Budget and then remove an amount that won't kill you and then start saving. Sounds like a good plan you have. Stick with it.

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

I love the idea of the untouchable automatic savings account!


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

A great way to keep from spending money is this; remind yourself that every dollar you save now is worth $10 when you retire, put your money into safe investments now, or, at least, remind yourself that you should and you will really curb your spending. If I had all the dollars I spent when I was 24 back now as $10 bills I would be a rich man.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

Great start to a new life style. As you learn to ask that little question, "Do I need this?" about each purchase, you will learn to spend your money on what really counts and not waste it. Cooking is fun and you'll continue to find lots of new foods to try. You said you are walking? Great. Have you set about to explore all the public areas around here? We've luck to have so many parks both in the city and in the larger area (thinking the Metroparks.) My new favorite activity is photography (combined with walking.) A cell phone will do for a start (or a digital camera makes a nice gift.) Don't stop at just snapping; check out free on-line editing tools and share your best shots on Facebook or a photo community like As you eat in, walk out and spend less, your savings will grow and you will feel more secure, more relaxed, and healthier. Have fun!

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

Thanks @kathryn! I have been exploring public areas. I live in the downtown Ann Arbor area - so I've been walking from my house to parks and trails around Huron River, Bird Hills, the Eberwhite trail.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

24 is young for but a nanosecond Being a sexist male from a different era I find the consensus program women now follow (school, career, dating, hopefully marriage and family after 30) archaic. Perhaps lib-era optimal for making money (power) once upon a time, That "planned" world is now vaping fast. Forget the list, the 9-5 droidom, the multimedia "cell", the power-shoper-addict syndrom. Grab a partner(s), go out and touch your beautiful cool planet before it vapes, cook your own life out there on high (with a fire extinguisher nearby). Money is just paper worth ashes tomorrow - seriously. Only thinking humans make true "value" during their young time spent as you discovered. If family and people and life are first then they are first. If money is the objective - well - read me not.


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

Once upon a time in the U.S. women had that barefoot or librarian career 'choice'. Capital economics now 'dictates' unisex droidom as an absolute requirement. Given the liberating force of work-anywhere technology, I am wondering why there hasn't been an equally fervent 'demand' movement back to the 'career' home and family. Maybe women really need that social away time before succumbing to the mommy-slave-cage. But is that 'career' empowerment promise truly a pleasureable freedom or a scam was the question? Besides a title and some cc clout over fashion and food choices aren't there any other young dreams come true before time speeds out? How does that happen?


Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 6:30 a.m.

and I think I wish I hadn't had a "career" and instead got married, stayed home barefoot and pregnant and let the man work to pay the bills. working can be so overrated most of the time.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

I have to agree with this one. Being an over the hill female from another era. I see my house and I think about those in Sandy's path and realize this. Yes, it is devastating that their homes are gone. But you know what? I walked away from this. So, even though I don't live there, I realize one thing. If it is all gone today? I can rebuild tomorrow. A good way to start over from scratch.

Lizzy Alfs

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

Thanks @a2comments!

Chip Reed

Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

Good luck with the "(don't judge)" part.


Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

Great effort. Hopefully other Gen Ys learn from this.