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Happy Thanksgiving!


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I hosted a small gathering for part of my extended family (12 people) while a larger part of the family went to my sister’s house in Houston.  While I certainly would have loved to spend this day with everyone under the same roof, that just wasn’t feasible.  By the end of the weekend though I will have seen everyone.  Here’s an example of yet another area I have made changes to in my journey to being debt free.  No, not avoiding my extended family (LOL!)  but instead making adjustments to perspective.  Here’s what I mean:

In years past there would have been zero hesitation on my part about loading up the car and taking a road trip to my sister’s for Thanksgiving.  With so many of us in the family I would have ended up in a hotel for at least 2, probably 3 nights, and thought nothing of the financial impact.  I wouldn’t have thought about the gasoline it would take to get there.  I’d be sure to bring loads of food and wine to share with the group (even though my sis always had the menu covered).  I would have spent money in the preparation to take the trip and then spent more money while out of town.  I would have mindlessly paid over $100 to board the dogs and likely added grooming to their stay for another $100.  I probably would have picked up little gifts for my nephews and sister “just because.”  I would have spent money while on the road feeding us from bad fast food restaurants.  I might have even bought new stuff to “entertain” the kids on the road.  All in the name of time with family on this certain day of the year.

My how things have changed in the last 12 months.  I knew I was not in a position to take on the expense of a “quick and cheap” trip to Houston.  So, I declined the trip and instead will see much of the family at some point over the four day weekend.  I used to get so wrapped up in being with them on the exact date of the holiday that I would not employ common sense!  Now I see the true importance being that I visit with my family while also being fiscally responsible.

I spent $100 on Thanksgiving Day groceries and have enough leftovers to feed us for at least the next week.  I asked people to bring items and found some free game and craft ideas for all of the kids who joined us.  We played old-fashioned games both indoors and out and had a super great time!

I had a momentary flash to some of the nasty comments made by readers over the last week and my niece caught my smile as I did so. She only said “oh–you’re reflecting on something!  I can tell!”  I smiled because I know I HAVE made incredible progress in my thought patterns and spending practices.  I smiled because I “get” what is important now and am making changes to live my life more in alignment with those important things.  I smiled because even through a pretty shit*y near three months (and mostly shit*y 32 months before that), my focus on debt reduction remains.  I smiled because somehow through all of this mess I have still been able to avoid adding new debt and have made more than the minimum payments on my debt.  And I smiled because the gym was open today from 8 am – 2 pm  and I was able to get a 30 minute workout in before having company over!!!

So here’s my thank you for today:  Thank you to all of the jerks who were nasty and mean in their comments.  You did give me good food for thought that I am and will continue to think about.  But in this difficult season of my life, you made me realize that I”m pretty much a rock star in my world right now–a rock star with a cheap gym membership.  I promise you motivated me as I figured out the stupid elliptical machine that almost owned clumsy me this morning and this is my big Texas size THANK YOU!  I’m more motivated than ever to prove all of you wrong.


  • Reply Chris |

    You go girl!

    I can see from the time (2:05am) you posted your entry, that even after a crazy long day, you’re still awake! So am I. We really should be exhausted, right?

    Excellent post. This is one that I’m bookmarking to give me motivation when I’m feeling down. Debt free journey is different for everyone. I think it goes to a comfort level. Once I stopped buying into ‘good debt’ and ‘bad debt’, our life changed. Hubby wasn’t on board until he saw the progress I was making…

    You are a great motivator and I am thankful that you are sharing this journey.

  • Reply Suzanne Moore |

    Yay Claire, I love this post. I felt really bad for you with all the hurtful comments over your gym membership. You have had a pretty rough few months and I don’t know how you manage to keep so cheerful on your posts. A gym membership is really quite a cheap way of spoiling yourself and can only do you good. You do deserve it. Keep on being strong.

  • Reply Bobbi |

    Your Thanksgiving sounds like it was a lot of fun. Getting together with people you love is what matters. I am a little like you in what motivates me. What first pisses me off next gets me out to prove them wrong. lol. I don’t know what was said but most of the time it is from people who are not happy with themselves and they try to make someone else feel bad so they are not alone. It is sad & I say special prayers for those kind of people. Keep up the good work!!!

  • Reply Jordann |

    Wow it really sounds like you’ve come a long way in your mindset in such a short period of time. You should be proud of that progress! Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Reply Momma |

    Good post. I’m guessing the people who commented nasty things are also in debt…why else would they be reading a blog about debt?? In that case, perhaps they would like to open up to the world about their debt and personal life and allow an open forum for being judged and criticized. See if they take it and make lemonade with it. My guess is most wouldn’t. You, on the other hand, have. Kudos to you!

  • Reply Bethany |

    Happy Thanksgiving Holiday’s Claire!
    I immigrated to Canada a few years ago, but this year we are living close enough to my folks that we get to go see them over the holidays, so I am thankful for that. I just wanted to say that I enjoy your blogging very much and have come back to the blog after not reading for a period of time (*cough* beks *cough*). I think you are doing very well under the circumstances and I think your posts will get more open and honest as time goes on. I had a sense from older posts that you were shielding yourself, and I think we now know why. I know from experience what it is like to come out of the shadow of an unhealthy relationship and I think you will be amazed at what will be able to accomplish in the future.

  • Reply T'Pol |

    That’s the attitude!

    In my culture there is a saying which stupidly translates: “Every brave man has a different way of eating yogurt” which means people have different ways of tackling similar situations. Some peole might have preferred to go the extereme frugal way, some would care the less about the piles of debt and yet some others would employ different tactics to reach debt freedom.

    The way you have described what you would have done versus what you did is a good example of most of what your readers would like to see. Most of us are here for support and inspiration.

  • Reply amy |

    I just reread through all the comments on your gym membership thread. I did not see a single jerky or mean comment. I saw dissenting opinions, in fact I was one of them. There were often even well wishes to go along with those opinions. No one stooped to things like name calling until you chose to direct the term “jerks” at your readers, a level of rudeness that frankly surprised me. I know that you are going through a difficult time, and you have done amazing things to reduce your debt in the past. It just seems to have stuttered to a snail pace. I think that was what most of the dissenters were trying to express. Also, for most of us deeply in debt the idea of increasing monthly obligations by $40 a month followed by another $25 is hard to swallow. I honestly don’t believe that any of your readers meant to hurt you, but it does seem that your comment about the mean jerks was meant to hurt the readers concerned with the wisdom of your recent choices. In my mind part of blogging about debt is using your readers as a tool to keep yourself accountable, and obviously, that is too much for you, so I am done. I won’t be returning to this blog until a new blogger takes over.

    • Reply Phaedra |

      Oh I think people sounded like jerks and it is okay to call it like it is! I feel like you need a theme song playing in the background. You are learning that you don’t always have to be nice and make everyone happy. That is a tough lesson for MANY of us!!! It sounds like you had a great day. It truly is growth when you realize that enjoying a holiday doesn’t mean you have to break yourself financially and use up every bit of energy you have.

      I am excited to keep reading and see what is to come in 2013!! Just think a year from now how different your life will be due to the choices you are making right now!!!!!
      Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Reply Anon123 |

      Yes, I didn’t see the comments as mean either. Most of the the negative commenters tend to be debt free and not “in debt”, hence they get what it takes to be debt free.

      Claire, I think you need to grow up a bit. Calling people who make comments “jerks” isn’t very professional and says more about you than it does about them. And on Thanksgiving no less.

      When you are really ready to come clean on your debt, you’ll be proud to state what you’ve paid, what you owe, what debt went with Steve etc. instead of being inconsiderate and making your readers dig for information and then when you get a constructive comment, you blast them and tell them you aren’t like Beks or Tricia (which is totally missing the point since people were simply stating they were more honest, no one expects you to be someone else.) You seem a little more like Kate Gosselin, unwilling and unable to see any perspective but your own. I think I am done with this blog until we get someone new. And for the record, I have zero debt.

      • Reply Lori |

        I agree that the comments in the aforementioned blog post were not harsh in the least, just honest.

        As for the name calling, well Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas used this phrase quite often: “A hit dog barks;” meaning that when the truth hits a little too close to home, one tends to become overly defensive.

        • Reply Claire |

          I LOVE Ann Richards! I know that wasn’t your point in mentioning her, but I just had to say that! She had the best “zingers!”.

    • Reply Mary |

      I agree with these readers – I commented, so I’m a jerk?

      You agreed to write for this blog, and to me that means accepting that people are going to comment. Blogs are a forum for discussion – that is why there is a comment section. You can close the comments, and just make it a “Claire says…” blog, if you want.

      But as the reader above says, I will also return when the next blogger takes over. I don’t deserve to be called a jerk just because I commented.

      You are alienating readers, Claire. The previous bloggers made this a fairly well-known blog, and I’m sorry for you that you didn’t fully realize what you were getting when you took it over.

      I, too, am done reading.

  • Reply Katie |

    Great job! Those little trips, little gifts can get you into big trouble! I am proud of you.

  • Reply margot |

    Oh, honey. Live your life well and make healthy choices from a positive place, not because you’re trying to hit back at people and not to “prove people wrong.”

    It’s great that you managed to work out over a holiday when many of us are just glutenous. And if you’re gonna have a gym membership, it’s great that you actually used it. But, you aren’t going to “prove” anyone wrong that this was a savvy financial decision when you are drowning in debt.

    So many Americans are so used to having whatever they want whenever they want that they can justify anything. They justify all sorts of spending on health-related stuff because “our health is priceless” or “it costs less than bad health.” They justify spending tons on new cars because they want the “safest options for their kids” or they “don’t want it to break down.” They justify buying crap for their kids, because heaven forbid their child ever not be “happy” or “have the best.” They justify paying to travel now because they are young and “can enjoy it now.”

    The justifications never end. We are so good at them. But they are all nonsense. We need to live more like our grandparents did and more like people in less privileged countries who don’t think we are entitled to everything we want, every convenience, luxuries, etc. Our grandparents (and many of our parents) mostly didn’t have access to credit. They didn’t spend more than they had, PERIOD. They didn’t justify spending money they didn’t have. They made do with shitty cars and tiny houses and no modern conveniences They didn’t have gyms.

    Your revelations around how you changed your holiday and your mindful spending were great. So many people again justify spending because they “have” to be with family, and “family is all that matters”, and the list goes on. And because it’s a magical day, they have to do everything that marketing says to do and eat an exact list of foods, etc. I’m glad you’ve learned to live more consciously and not just follow tradition.

    In the meantime, try to stop trying to justify spending in other areas. There is no justification for anything in your life other than bare necessities. Obviously, you can still buy them, but recognize that – at least to some extent – it’s giving into your childish side (that most of us have) that just wants what you want and doesn’t want to delay gratification.

    • Reply Claire |

      Thank you, thank you, thank you Margot! You never disappoint in your insightful comments. I know I’ve been sensitive in the past to your tone at times, but I am printing out this comment for inspiration. I’ve already read it several times this morning and it is truly inspiring. I hear what you are saying here and I truly am working hard to address the shortcomings you point out. I have a long way to go. I am human after all. I did get defensive because it is very difficult to take the hits as I struggle to hold it all together. Thanks for staying on the journey with me!

    • Reply Meghan |

      I also love this comment. It’s hard not to justify some of these sales too. I want some jeans that fit but know that there is no way that I will walk out with just jeans. I used to think a car payment was okay and it was only credit card debt that was bad. Now after being inspired by both the writers and commenters, I want to be free from the car loan too. Freedom is what this is really about. That’s why as commenters pointed out, any justification makes that freedom further away. Keep moving towards your goal, but understand that the commenters had good intentions. At least I think they did and honestly, they inspired me to do better as well.

  • Reply Alexandria |

    I’ve personally never been in debt, but I thought the comments were very harsh. It’s the context of it all. I think blog commenters often lack context. I’ve often wondered why they support terrible terrible huge setbacks (other bloggers), and then why they are nitpicking you when I feel you have done so well! & I feel you are in the middle of quite a personal ordeal, so not sure what nitpicking accomplishes. I think it’s time for a little compassion.

    I think proving them wrong sounds like great motivation, personally. Whatever motivates you, who really cares. The goal is to be debt-free. Support or adversity can push you to that end. Support is just a nicer way to get there, but I get it. You are going to get there regardless how supportive your readers are. Which is probably why I personally think you are doing great!! & I also think you are in a really tough place and need to hear the encouragement. I am *not* going to encourage you when you make decisions that significantly slow your debt re-payment. That I can promise. 😉 BUT, I can also be a little more sympathetic in rough times. I said before that I think Steve was most your debt problem, and I think having time to breathe and move on is all awesome (& who cared how you dropped the car debt – it is gone – and that is significant progress).

    I honestly feel like you will be debt-free much faster than the prior bloggingawaydebt bloggers. Some of the feeling maybe comes from you have a bigger shovel than average – but I also see huge changes in your attitude over the last few months. In the meantime, no one is “perfect” overnight and change takes time. I see positive changes – I think that is all we can ask for. I’ve personally spent the last 20 years getting more efficient and smarter with my money. I learn something new every single day. & I have sometimes enjoyed splurges that maybe I shouldn’t have, but the world didn’t end. 😉

  • Reply Chantal |

    I seem to have two names when emailing you. Don’t know how this happened but I am also Erika W. Sorry about this.

    Some wounds need licking and a gym membership is very modest in exchange for a sorry husband, so keep using it with a clear conscience.

    Your Thanksgiving was magnificent–all power to you and maybe a good game plan for Christmas also.

    By the way my husband is a Texan and I lived in Texas for 23 years and feel like an adopted Texan. Now that he i just retired we are pondering the pros and cons of returning but just can’t decide…

  • Reply Chantal |

    Like Meghan, we never thought of car payments as debt until reading this blog site. This last month we made a last payment of $1,400 on the car we bought 14 months ago and had merrily set up for 5 years at 3.6 per cent interest. It is a wonderful feeling and a whole new mindset.

    Now we only have our mortgage. No intention of doing anything about this as we bought before house prices began to spiral upwards and the monthly PITI payment is $887 and houses in the neighborhood are selling quite quickly at 2-3 times what we still owe.

    So we do now consider ourselves debt free–it took a while but we got there, so keep at it Claire.

  • Reply Spa |

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks – but never commented before. I felt compelled to write that I also read all the comments about your gym post. While I personally thought the spending was understandable, I absolutely didn’t think the commenters who thought differently were jerks. They disagreed with you, but not rudely and mostly constructively. I find it strange that you think they were rude and mean. At most they thought it wasn’t a justifiable expense. Do you really just want readers who agree with you? Or can you listen to them, think about their points and either decide you’re happy with your decision or not and modify your behavior?

  • Reply Michelle |

    I just re-joined a gym this weekend am paying $27 a month.That’s a GREAT price. The focus on my health and well being will (in my view) allow me to deal with the stresses that come up and to manage my health so that I can avoid going to the Dr.-much more expensive!! I applaud you in understanding what will help you cope with what has to be a very stressful situation. I wasn’t aware of the post that you were referring to so I read it and also read the comments. Quite frankly, I found a couple of the comments self-righteous, mean, and almost cruel. They could have been a lot more constructive in how they voiced their opinions. They aren’t paying your bills so until they do…This is a public forum and while it is a very supportive space there will be times that we are called out on what we are doing in ways that we least expect. You will continue to make choices for yourself that other people won’t agree with. Next time you can go to the gym when they piss you off and let off some steam. LOL!

  • Reply Debt Free Momma |

    Wow, reading your comments lets me know what i just got myself into. (i just started my own debt free blog). I think people fail to realize when you are getting out of debt you have the power to control your budget. If a gym membership is worth the money to you to relieve stress, stay healthy, so on…. then you should certainly include that in your budget. I’m sure most would not agree with me having a smartphone but that’s one bill im willing to pay while I’m getting out of debt. You have to remember to never let people outside of your household make your household decisions. I plan to do a post on that soon 🙂

  • Reply sarkari naukri |

    Yepp!!you have done a great achievements…Speechless to read your thanks giving…I pray that you fly even more higher with bright colors!!

    All the best!!

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