The Debt Shrink: Best of 2018

2018 was a great year! Here is the story of my journey over the past year, a summary of the 5 most popular articles from The Debt Shrink, and a peek at my personal and professional plans for the next year.

For years I thought about starting a blog. But it wasn’t until 2018 that I finally got up the courage to do it. As an extraordinarily private person who keeps strict boundaries between my personal life and professional life, this was not an easy step. I remember lying in bed sick to my stomach the days before we went live. But I am so glad that I did it.

August 15, 2018, The Debt Shrink posted it’s first article. They say that most bloggers give up within six months. Four and half months in, and I am still going strong.

When you see how many blogs are out there, it’s easy to understand how many people feel defeated and throw in the towel. With an emotionally taxing full-time job as a psychologist and 3 small children, it takes a real commitment to take on blogging.

At the time I started writing, I had just transitioned my youngest from our room to his nursery. I had literally just started sleeping again after years of no rest. And I was still nursing! In addition, the same week The Debt Shrink had it’s first post, my oldest had just returned to school and joined his first sports team. My middle child also started her first activity. Needless to say, within a week our lives were turned upside down. Even good stress is stress. But it has been a challenging past few months.

My gratitude for our readers, my friends and colleagues, and the personal finance community can not be expressed strongly enough. It’s through your shares that our readership has continued to grow each month!

Here are the top 5 posts of 2018, in descending order:


#5   Suicide and Debt

As a psychologist, this is an issue that is dear to my heart. For World Suicide Prevention Day, a group of bloggers came together for a blog share about this issue. A huge thanks to Melanie from Dear Debt for organizing this share, and to Michael Dinich of Your Money Geek, who shared this post on Reddit.

I’d also like to acknowledge Dr. Stephanie Miller, a dear friend and psychologist specializing in Suicide Prevention, for her contribution to this post. I am glad to be able to spread the word about the many resources available to those in crisis.


#4   Things I Don’t Buy Anymore

The Rockstar Finance forum members shared this post. It tied for the most commented post. Thank you to all my friends in the Rockstar community for welcoming me into this group and for the outpouring of support.

This was one of my first posts. I started this list a long time ago and have added to it every year (I even have a follow-up post in the works).

I am most proud about our decision to avoid single-use items. Many people don’t understand this decision. It can also be hard with young kids – teachers are always asking for donations of single-use items or for things to be brought in plastic bags. It’s motivating to hear from others who are also trying to reduce their waste or what they bring into their lives, as our reasons go beyond money.


#3   7 Things I Don’t Buy for the Holidays

I have my Mustachian Facebook Group to thank for the success of this post. It stirred up quite a discussion. If you are wondering, no, I did not purchase anything on-line or in-person on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday.

I did, however, break one of my “don’t buy” rules. Because my youngest will eat everything he can get his hands on, we decided not to put up the tree until Christmas Eve this year. So I did buy three small potted Christmas trees, one for each of my children. They were $4 each. (If you couldn’t tell by some of my previous posts, plants are one of my weaknesses when it comes to spending.)


#2   10 Things I Don’t Buy My Kids (and 10 Things I Do Buy Them)

Writing this post was a lot of fun. I struggled to come up with 10 things I do buy my kids. Thankfully I remembered ice cream (another of my weaknesses).

I don’t know who shared this post or on what medium, but one day it just went viral! Thank you mystery share person!


#1   How to Spend $100 Per Person Per Month on Groceries

One of the most common questions I received was how my family of 5 was averaging $400 a month on food, houseware items, diapers, personal hygiene products, and restaurants.

Eating most of our meals at home, avoiding single-use or individually wrapped items or premade items, and some savvy shopping were our tricks. As you will soon see in my year-end finances post, over the past few months we have been going out to eat more often. This has led to a ridiculous increase in our food expenses. It has also led to weight gain that I was not expecting. This was a big lesson-learned for me. We’re back to eating at home.

A special thanks to all those who featured this post. In addition to my Rockstar Finance friends and Mustachian groups, it has included as a Resource on Collecting Wisdom, was Shared on Four Pillar Freedom, and even listed as a Recommended Read on

If you don’t know of JD Roth, he’s the creator of Get Rich Slowly and Money Boss. I’ve been reading his work for the past 10 years. A mention from him is the equivalent of being asked to sit with the popular kids at lunch. My husband even had butterflies! This was definitely the motivation I needed to keep going.

I am truly grateful for everyone’s support!

Looking Ahead to 2019

Over the next year I plan to work on my personal-professional growth. I’m signed up for two trainings in my field, something I haven’t done in many years. The first training is to be a trainer for other health care professionals on how to have conversations with their patients about end-of-life. The second is to become certified in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (I previously wrote about ACT inspiring my approach to personal finance). I hope that my professional growth will also help me as a person, mother, and writer.

In 2019, expect even more great posts from The Debt Shrink. A month’s worth of posts is already in the queue. There are more Savings Tips, Inspiring Reads, and Food Finances Fridays to come. I also plan to write more about my experiences as a psychologist and how they have influenced many of my decisions. If you have topics that you’d like us to write about, please email us your ideas.

And if you haven’t already done so, please sign up for our monthly newsletter. In it, we provide opportunities to our subscribers to be featured in The Debt Shrink. You will also receive for free our 30 Best Tips.


Thank you for each and every one of our readers for a great 2018!

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