what I’m reading… March 22, 2012

  • 5 Reasons Why I Don’t Clip Coupons (Kentin Waits | Wisebread)
    This article succinctly summarizes my complaint with couponing. I’ve been trying out it out a bit in the past month since signing up to receive weekend delivery of the Oregonian. I’m disappointed to find that I have accumulated a lot more processed food in the pantry that I don’t enjoy eating, simply because a $1 coupon brings it down to ‘reasonable’ cost. My shopping energy has turned toward hunting down the exact type of item the coupon requires (not to mention the coupon sorting energy) and I am no longer as well stocked with fresh and healthy produce.

If you are into couponing, here are two local sites that basically have the exact same content (I can’t figure out who is copying who) and obsess over online and local NW shopping deals and coupon strategy.

“Combine spring cleaning, recycling, and fun – It’s an upscale FREE garage sale! Your outgrown stuff will be loved by someone else, your house will be less cluttered, you’ll find new-to-you items you CAN use…plus, you’ll be helping positive organizations in our community!”
“Clean out your house, garage, and shed of all the STUFF you no longer need want or love, wash it up, make sure all the parts are there and everything is in working order, and bring it to the Spring Stuff Swap!”


  • SPEND OUT (Gretchen Rubin | The Happiness Project)
  • 6 Crucial Job Searching Steps Most People Skip (Julie Rains | Wisebread)
    Good basics refresher; As someone who was an Office Manager receiving end, I feel meh about the thank you note followup part and personally think that step is a little on the cheesy / desperate side.
  • Balancing Technology (Valerie Plowman | Babywise)
    This piece brings up some good points about the balance between technology, life, parenting. We’re thinking a lot about our media consumption and the amount of time we want to spend face-to-face with our son in these upcoming months.

2 thoughts on “what I’m reading… March 22, 2012

  1. Tia

    Hi! I found you guys via the Oregonian article. My husband and I have knocked down 114k of debt to about 80k in 2 years, without scrimping at all. We’re having a hard time figuring out how you guys did it since you don’t present actual numbers (i.e. how much you make, how much your rent is, etc). You clearly have to make a VERY good income to pay down debt as quickly as you guys have. 5k per month would be our entire take-home pay. Is there a reason you have chosen to not share actual dollars?

  2. Rachel H Post author

    Hi Tia – congrats on your success, your paydown is impressive! There were multiple factors that contributed toward our ability to pay off so much so quickly — one that may not be obvious is that we ended up “accidentally” living with family members for six months in 2010 (long story, but job searching and hoping to move abroad at “any minute” led to that situation) so we had reduced expenses the year before. We have always made the decision to rent, so our ability to change location in an emergency is greatly simplified. We were very disciplined about following a strict cash budget for expenses, cutting down practically everything extra or unnecessary for 2011. I’m a spender (detailed throughout some previous blog posts) so this was the most difficult for me. Once we started paying attention to the pennies, the dollars started to behave. To me, it seems like magic but to most people it’s basic logic. Basically, the combo of increasing income and decreasing spending was the successful formula.

    We wanted this blog to be as real as possible, but in the end decided that we would not disclose actual salary information. Our take home pay varies widely, as throughout the project my husband worked variously as a part time independent contractor through full time salaried employee, while my photography business has the most wildly fluctuating income you would ever see (including loss in some months). Since I was on sabbatical when we moved to Portland, I took on an administrative desk job with predictable monthly pay, and we decided to put all of that toward the goal, plus take some of the business savings I had from previous years and apply it to our payments- and then deplete most of my business savings at the very end in order to meet our goal earlier than we thought (“unexpected money” in the article was probably not the best way for me to say that). My hope is that readers will realize that our project is scalable – you don’t have to do it in one year or five years, everyone’s situation is different.

    And that it’s okay to talk about debt. I don’t think we do it enough, in a healthy way.


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