how I cut my credit card bill in half - no, really!

Somehow - most likely due to my genius financial insight and savvy/sneaky Turkish ways - I've managed to cut my credit card bill for this month nearly in half compared to last month! How did I do it? In this exclusive, groundbreaking post, I reveal all my secrets!

Secret 1: My credit card number was stolen.

This really freaked me out and forced me to closely monitor my accounts. I also didn't receive a new card right away which eliminated about a week of spending. And, for some reason, I was too scared to even really use the card after the whole incident. Perhaps I feared that the minute I swiped it, the thief - or thieves! Like Robin Hood and Little John - would track me down and ask me to give them more money to spend at McDonalds (one of their fave places to shop according to my bill).

Lesson learned: Fear your credit card! And, monitor everything - I now receive text alerts for all the purchases I make (added bonus: I can pretend I'm reading texts from my secret boyfriend when they pop up on my phone in front of people!).

Secret 2: Quality time with the fam.

During Christmastime, I took a few days off and hung out with my family at my parents' house. The baklava was bountiful, wonderfully sweet and free; the lodging was comfy; they tell you how cute you look; and they even give you gifts on Christmas morning!

Lesson Learned: Take a break from pricey city life and go hide away with your version of a cool, Turkish family!

Secret 3: No more lunches. 

I haven't been starving myself at lunch - I mean, I can hardly make it through a 20-minute meeting without at some point thinking of jam-filled French toast or jelly beans with an even smaller jelly bean inside (imagine?!).

Instead, I simply decided to stop buying lunches at work. I've been living off of the food already provided at work or bringing in premade lunches. It's quite economical!

Lesson learned: Why spend money on food, when you could save up for this!?!

Secret 4: No more shopping. 

Me and a friend made a vow to cut down on shopping (and candy and lunches - see Secret 3 above) for a month. I have struggled with the candy bit (I mean does dark chocolate really count as candy? It's completely medicinal!). But I've really only shopped for a few birthday gifts, Kindle books, wardrobe necessities and groceries. I wish I could say this would last, but come February I'm probably going to yell out "FREEDOM!" and then run to take refuge at the nearest J.Crew (also, arguably, medicinal).

Lesson learned: You can go on fasts and cleanses with food... so why not with shopping for clothes?

Secret 5: It's cold up in here. 

It's really not as much fun to go out to spend $$$ when you have to wear a cardigan, 1 lightweight coat, 1 heavy coat, 3 scarves, a pair of ill-fitting mittens, boots that won't zip up over your calves and a hat that makes you look like one of the little kids in "A Christmas Story."

Lesson learned: Pretend it's always cold outside so you can't go shopping. Plus, find a better winter hat.

So there you have it! My tips for saving money this month... If these tips don't work, picture your dad finding your credit card bill and shaking his head at all the jelly bean charges from Duane Reade.