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Finances & Fitness


Hubs has become quite the fitness aficionado lately. Remember back in 2015 when he lost a ton of weight? He ended up losing 60 lbs. in total. In 2016 he was really just learning to maintain his weight through having a healthier lifestyle overall. He eats pretty clean, drinks lots of water, exercises regularly, etc. This year (2017) he decided he wanted to try to build some muscle mass. Well, mission = accomplished! I think his whole year was made last month when, while on our mom-&-dad getaway, a kid at the hotel’s pool area asked him if he was a professional bodybuilder! LOL! He ate up the compliment and was floating on Cloud 9 the rest of the day!


As a disclaimer, I gotta say his “before” picture is in a shirt that was stained, not dirty. Hubs was a flooring contractor so all his work clothes eventually had stains all over them from glue, paint, etc. Just kinda gross to see all the “gunk” – it’s not just filth! Ha!

The truth is, hubs works hard for the gains he has made. Our summer has been a little more relaxed, but during the academic year he had been waking up faithfully at 4:45am so he could be at the gym at 5am when they opened, get in 1.5-2 hours of gym time, and be home in time to help get the girls dressed and ready for school. Even on vacation he went to the hotel gym daily. On our long driving days to and from Texas, he figured out creative ways to still get in his workouts by doing youtube videos using one’s own bodyweight for resistance, etc. When the rest of us want a bowl of ice cream after dinner, he prepares a bowl of fruit for himself. He’s dedicated like that.

I’ve wanted to get back on the whole fitness wagon lately. I used to be really into fitness, and while I would describe my current body-type as “average”, I’d love to get back to a place where I could consider myself “fit.” Unfortunately, I’ve found myself lacking motivation. The other day I was talking to hubs and asked him about how he stays so motivated – how he can push himself day after day to make healthy choices, sacrifice sleep for his gym time, choose the healthier food option when a sweet treat is right in his face, etc. I wish he had some secret trick I could share (or sell for $$$), but we all know that’s not the way it works. His response, “You just have to make the decision and stick with it.”

Me:  But it’s too hot to work out!

Him:  The gym has air conditioning. And you should be sweating while you’re working out anyway.

Me: But I’m tired!

Him: You won’t be after you get your heart rate up and going.


Him: Well….that’s your problem then. : )

As we talked about it, I couldn’t help but draw the parallels between FITNESS and FINANCES.

I recently admitted to letting our finances slip a bit over the summer. I’ve slacked off on a lot of the money-saving habits I used to have. It’s been months since I’ve designed our meal plans around sales and ads, for instance. I used to do that weekly – our meals were specifically planned based on the kinds of food on sale at our local grocers. It’s been years since I’ve done the envelope system. Or since I kept a “30 Day Wish List” prior to buying household stuff.

I think I’ve just been lacking motivation. To be honest, it’s probably been going on for awhile. I’ve been able to get away with it because our income has been high enough to compensate for some poor planning and spending habits. But when our income dropped, I really never buckled down. I never started the process of really trying to cut back significantly and, instead, I continued to spend like all was normal.

I’ve wanted to change, but I didn’t really want to put in the work to make it happen. Kind of like my fitness journey. Heh.

I don’t have any grandiose conclusion right now where I can say “That’s It! I’m back on the financially-fit bandwagon!” The truth is, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it, but not a lot of actions just yet. I really feel somewhat immobilized by our lower summer income (hub recently stopped working to go back to school and I had to leave my part-time job due to a noncompete at my full-time job). It feels like no matter what I do, I’m not sure that I can make our outflow match our inflow right now. It feels helpless. I’ve intentionally never given exact income figures (though it’s not a total surprise, as I’ve been pretty open about our budget and expenses, etc.). But just to give ballpark numbers, we went from earning a take-home salary of roughly $10,000/month….to right at $3,000/month. Practically overnight. Granted, these are take-home numbers (insurance is paid pre-tax, some of childcare and medical is paid pre-tax, mandatory 7% investment is pre-tax), so the low $3,000 number doesn’t mean we’re only making $36,000/year. We’re still making significantly more than that. But just in terms of dealing with take-home pay, we’ve experienced a huge drop over the last couple months.

My new raise goes into effect soon and as much as I am LOVING the academic freedom this summer, I can’t wait for August to roll around just so I’ll be able to experience my first full month with my new salary (remember that raise I got months ago but doesn’t go into effect until my new contract??? Can’t wait!!!).


I just wanted to check in with you all and be honest and open about where I am in my debt journey right now. I have no doubts that we will make a full rebound. I know it. But right now I’m still just kind of limping my way through, trying to find that motivation that comes so naturally to my hubby.

Share a financial (or fitness-related, if you prefer) WIN you’ve made recently! I love hearing other’s successes!

How do you keep your motivation high when you’re not really feeling it? Fake it till you make it? Any other tips or strategies?


  • Reply Jackie |

    Mine is both a financial and fitness win. I started weight watchers last August 15, 2016 and have lost 85 pounds. I still have 60 pounds to go to be where I want to be.

    Financially we are going to be able to house shop next year. I’ve gone and made a really good budget for us. We just loosely budgeted before. I analyzed our spending and made cuts. We want our money to work for us and to save as much as we can.

  • Reply Jasmine |

    Mine is fitness-related, although I also have a small financial win too. DH and I recently made the choice together to get back into shape together. He’s further along than me, but we’ve lost a combined total of 25ish lbs. in a month and a half. We’re also doing a transformer dietbet for motivation, so every fitness win comes with a small financial reward.

    We also ran a 5k yesterday and both had decent times.

    • Reply Ashley |

      YAY!!! That’s a ton of weight in just over a month! It always seems to come easier for men, doesn’t it?

  • Reply Shauna |

    I’ve been slowly getting back on the bandwagon of losing weight myself. I struggled for a year and a half trying to find the motivation. For me I’ve found lack of sleep makes a huge difference in my motivation. My husband started having signs of sleep apnea that kept me up (that’s when I started gaining) it took almost 6 months after he got a CPAP machine for me to feel rested again and really get some focus on weight loss. Now that I’m cooking better he’s losing weight too, and it starts to snowball like debt payments.

  • Reply Angie |

    I’ve been failing on the financial front way overspending lately too. We FINALLY paid off our crazy high student loans after 10 years in October. Since paying them off I’ve been lost. No one threw me a party, nothing really changed, but now I have been in a money funk because I don’t know “what’s next”. On top of that DH lost his job and we have been coping/distracting ourselves during tough times with shopping and going out and it is not working! I need to get back on the health train.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Oh man, that’s so tough (though congrats on becoming debt-free after 10 years!!!! What a huge milestone!!!)
      I say to take it easy on yourself. Hopefully this is a temporary slump while your DH looks for and finds a new job. Do you have goals for what to do next? Maybe a big dream vacation? Or paying off the house? Whatever you decide, you should be proud of how far you’ve come already!!!

  • Reply Theresa |

    I think the double whammy of less income and the tax burden has done a number on you. I think you should take some time and go back and reread your posts on this blog. I think you will find it very motivating because you kicked some debt butt in the past few years. Rereading will put you in the frame of mind to think about what worked in the past to keep you in debt slaying mode. Remember at the beginning you had MUCH more debt than you do now and less secure income. And you did it. You should then go for a long walk or run (fitness) alone without husband, kids or earbuds and really think about August and what you want to implement Debt thermometer, no spend month, meal planning, living on last months income, I can’t remember them all. Come up with a plan for the remainder or 2017. Do you need to build up your emergency fund? What is your #1 #2 priorities. Lastly think about what you can do in July. Find 4 free family activities or talk to hubbie about the meal situation. I know that is something you routinely have trouble with. Now that he is home more does he have more time to utilize the crock pot or do you make a meal plan and he implements? Maybe look ahead to any family birthdays and plan a simple craft for the girls. I am sure you can find some concrete things to do now that will get out of your rut. You can do it.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thank you for the kind and thoughtful comment, Theresa! I love these ideas and I think you’re right – I really need to have some time to myself (running = win!) to think through things, regroup a bit, and come up with a new plan of attack!

  • Reply Constance |

    I agree with Teresa and with your hubs. In May 2016 I quit drinking and last November I quit smoking. I live with people who still do both. But I decided not to. I continue to make that choice every day.
    You made the choice to become debt free and you went all out for the past few years. But you had great income. Now you are the sole breadwinner for awhile. Although you probably are at a level of burn out, this is the time to re-focus and really drill down on the debt payoff. Have you thought what it’s going to be like with two incomes and NO DEBT?? Wow!! How exciting is that going to be? Vacations! Retirement! Great experiences for your girls!
    Spend some time by yourself and then with your hubs and visualize what your new lifestyle is going to look like. As Angie says, no one is going to throw a party (except maybe you) when your student loan debt is paid off. But you will have that inner thrill of being debt free. With two incomes again, you can plan to pay off your mortgage early. How exciting is that??
    You can do this Ashley! Back to the planning board! Go for it!!

  • Reply Holly |

    Thank you for being so REAL and HONEST.. We have a goal set for DEC 2018 to be all debt free, but the house. Since we love in CA our house cost us 1/2 million dollars since were in our mid 30’s we still have a while ( were ok with that) but were trying to pay off all school loans, truck and ll CC we racked up over the years its about $60,000 we have to pay off. I loved reading your blog. Over the last 3 months stuff as hit us hard and nothing EXTRA went to debt. We didnt ad to it so thats good, but nothing extra got paid which made me lose alot of motivation I had. But then i read your blog and i see its not only me…. Thank you for being real and honest…

    • Reply Ashley |

      Hi Holly, thanks for the comment! I figured others may be able to relate to our situation as well. Hopefully you and I both will be back on track pounding debt in no time! Good luck with your Dec 2018 goal! That will be here before we know it!

  • Reply Kate |

    These ups and downs are totally normal. We have been in a similar spot for a while – not necessarily taking on more debt but I have one student loan left (~ 14,000 out of about 100,000 when we started) and I just don’t feel like it is a priority to pay off right now – husband also was layed off last year and took a job that he was interested in but the pay is significantly less, so our take-home pay dropped by about $2000 a month. Sometimes I do think about how we’d be debt-free except our mortgage if that hadn’t changed.

    But it’s all part of the journey, we just keep moving forward and remembering what we’ve learned along the way. I appreciate your honesty!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Ouch, a $2,000/month drop is no small change! BUT if you’re on the last $14,000 (out of 100,000 starting), you are SOOOOO close!!! I bet you could be done by the end of the year if you gave it a solid push! Good luck and thank you for following along on my journey and encouraging me through my slumps, too!!! : )

      • Reply Kate |

        I guess the flip side is – when we started about 5 years ago just the minimum payment on our debts was like $1800 and now it’s $270 – I am so thankful that we were used to living on less AND that we eliminated those minimum payments so that it wasn’t a crisis.

  • Reply Maureen |

    Thank you for being honest and open. I think there are many of your readers that can relate-on the bandwagon, off the bandwagon. It’s part of life. What defines success is not the entire journey, but the end goal and the resilience you have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps when you fall off the wagon and give it a go again.

    I can relate to the no big payments, losing motivation, etc. My spouse and I also had a huge tax bill (we were expecting a big bill and also paid in quarterly taxes but it was larger than we anticipated. This also meant that we had to make a very large contribution to retirement accounts (at the time self-employed). I had paid off so much debt in 2016 that I “saved” all these expenses for Jan. 1 through April 15. We were able to meet our goals, but it meant we had to put all extra money to these obligations and take some out of savings. Then, we have spent most of the time since tax day replenishing savings, completing some home projects, etc. SO, 2016 was gangbusters payoff on debt and student loans, but there haven’t been many wins since then. We did pay off a large debt in May and I can finally start aggressively paying off student loans again in July-Yeah!
    How do I stay motivated? I admit it is a struggle. I too have made slip-ups (eating lunch out, booking a vacation). We are lucky because our income has actually increased over the last year and I went back to a W2 after being self-employed. I try to focus on the small wins-Being on a W2 I know my tax debt in 2017 won’t be as large, if any. I am maximizing my retirement contributions-differing taxes and saving for my future. You too, are saving for retirement. Find the small things and keep telling yourself that the end prize (being debt free) is going to be SO worth all the sacrifice even if there is little fanfare when the moment comes. Keep your head high! You are resilient and amazing!

  • Reply Armando Smash |

    I also realized the similarities of weight loss and debt payoff! I recently set a goal to lose 30lbs and I’m 1/3 of the way there. Like budgeting my expenses monthly, I meal prep every few days so that I can intentionally control my caloric input. I have a Fitbit so I can track how many calories go out when I work out. I think being aware of what goes in and goes out, and being intentional with my choices have given me progress in my wallet and in my body. My fitness log sheets are like my cash flow statements. It is about being intentional with our behaviors and the choices we make, rather than wandering into debt or obesity. Good job on the progress!

  • Reply Kyle |

    A friend (who is also a certified fitness instructor/boxer and nutritionist) recently shared some insight regarding motivation. She explained that “motivation” isn’t REAL. As human beings, we generally tend to stick with what’s comfortable. Back in the stone ages, if you were “comfortable,” it meant you were full, warm, and had shelter. Why would ANYONE want to leave that to be UNCOMFORTABLE for any reason?? When we’re sitting on our couch eating a bowl of ice cream, we have no real reason to move. Bottom line is, your husband is right…it really is a choice. If you want things to be different (financially or physically), you just have to continue making the choice to be a little bit uncomfortable until things even out and you find a new “comfortable.”

    My family recently had a similar financial and physical situation happen, so I speak from experience! It’s HARD to find the time and “motivation,” or make the choice to change our normal routine, but it has proven to be so worthwhile. You and your family will figure out what works for you! It may look very different from your previous life, but I have a feeling you’ll make it work 🙂 Good luck!

  • Reply JayP |

    I wouldnt sweat it too much, you have a LONG history of progress. Daycare starts to cost less, and your salary is going up. If you still are having negative cash flow by November then it might be an issue.

So, what do you think ?