Well, I knew my spending was out of control over the last couple of months. I reviewed my budget to get a better sense of what I need for baseline spending. Then, I printed off my bank statements for June and July. I combed through them and highlighted the superfluous spending.
Oh. My. God.
Over two months, I managed to spend $852 on coffee shops, restaurants, clothes, books, impromptu stops at the grocery store…
Let’s look at that number again: $852.
That’s more than I paid toward my loan in June. It’s airfare and accommodations on a weeklong trip somewhere. It’s almost 1/5 of what I need to put in my IRA. It’s almost all the gear I need for a thru-hike. It’s a few months of Pilates reformer classes.
It’s money that could have been spend mindfully, and instead it’s money that I blew because…it’s summer? I justified each purchase as I was making it. Sure, it was nice to have coffee with friends. Those restaurant trips were from the weekend my mother came to visit. That’s also when I bought the clothes and the books. We had a nice time, but I wonder if we can find new ways to hang out. Ways that don’t include such a devastating spending cycle. I’m sure we can.
And we did have a lot of fun.
But as I enter a new phase of my life (which includes turning 40, taking a full-time position, experiencing the empowerment of paying off my loans) I’ve got to take a good, hard look at mindless spending. It doesn’t serve me. It doesn’t serve my dreams. When I saw that number ($852!!!) I immediately applied it to each dream on my list. That money could have really fueled momentum on any one of those dreams.
And is there really any other point to spending money?
If it’s not spent funding your dreams, then what the heck is it for?
I want to use my money to fund my dreams. In order to do that, I’m going to have to hold on to more of it. After reading around the personal finance blogosphere over the weekend, I found inspiration in Blonde on a Budget’s “Shopping Ban,” as well as in And Then We Saved’s “Spending Fast” and “Spending Diet.” I’m going to start off small and experiment with 30 days. I’ll need the information I learn from the experiment in order to move forward into a larger spending fast – if that’s what I decide to do. I mean, I can’t imagine that at the end of the spending fast, I’ll be like, “Wow. Look what I saved. Now I’m gonna go hog wild!” I am certain I’ll need to adjust a few things, though.
My goal is to stick with the spending plan that I laid out when I reviewed my budget. I should be able to keep my grocery budget to $200. I should be able to stick to a $100 entertainment budget – and that includes restaurant trips and coffees out.
I WILL allow myself to spend on the following:
1. Blog coaching
I’ve scheduled a blog coaching session because I want to do more with this space. I’m also toying with the idea of writing for other sites. AND I need to make a decision about whether or not to stop being semi-anonymous. I think after six months of continuous blogging, this is a good investment. I know that I want to continue, and I’ll benefit greatly from the advice of a more experienced blogger whose work I admire.
2. Editing services
If you’ve looked at my list of dreams, you’ll see that I want to write a book. I’m moving forward in that arena, and I think I’ve found the right editor for my project. I need feedback and someone to keep me accountable on deadlines if I’m going to finish the project in my estimated time frame.
3. Design services
I’m doing an overhaul of a website that I own, as well as building another site…I had an epiphany about some old work and about what I want to say on my site. I’ve started writing new copy, and I’m working with a designer to make it all look pretty and professional. I’m excited about it, too, because I think it will up my game in some ways.
4. Car registration
It’s due. What else can I say?
And that’s it. That’s all I’m allowed to spend money on outside my baseline spending plan. I could have funded all four items with $852, so I’m eager to see how this plays out.
Oh, and one more thing: I’m not going to start my spending fast until August 10th. I will be more mindful in my spending until then, but I’m going on a short trip next week, and I’ll need to contribute my share. It’s a trip that’s been planned and postponed a million times, so it will feel good to finally just go. It’s my big summer outing, too, so at least I’ll feel like the summer of 2015 was filled with some fun:)
How about you? Is it time for a spending fast?