One of the things that most excited me about this year was being able to use the “Mindful Budget” created by Cait. She really did a wonderful job with this book/course/budgeting tool and I have thoroughly enjoyed it thus far.
So I started keeping track of everything I bought, I was already doing this through Mint.com and still use that, but the habit of keeping a daily diary of what I bought, actually physically writing it down and keeping track rather than leaving this to a computer really hit home with how much money I’m spending.
We are only a month in and I can already see exactly where my spending habits have got me, where the major problems are, the “leaks” in the boat.
If you recall in my debt repayment plan, I need to find the root cause of my spending, and then cut my spending. This program will help me do both.
What I Discovered
Looking back over the month I realize there are really 2 major things I spend money on, not much money but spending a little everyday comes out to a lot of money. The first and most is how much I spend on food each week.
Now keep in mind I’m not referring to grocery bills here, I’m talking about lunches at work (when I already have food at home I could have brought instead), drinks (again my wife bought me 6 packs of soda to drink so I wouldn’t have to buy any at work), and snacks. This averaged for January to $36.17 per week. Now for some they won’t think that’s much, for others they will think I have a spending problem (I would agree).
The second biggest expense was really two things but I’m going to put them both into the same category. The first was a course I bought that Melanie did on freelancing, marketing yourself, how to budget and the like. The other was purchasing a few books written by Pat Flynn, he had a promotion where you get a free webinar as well as some other things if you purchased 3 books, of which I will be giving two away next month in a giveaway.
I don’t feel these were bad purchases especially if you average them for the month it comes to $19.90 a week which for things that are going to make me the future me I personally feel that’s a bargain. If anything I will be raising this amount in the future.
Changes To Be Made
Knowledge is power, therefore what I have to do now is take the information I have gained from this task and see where it leads me. What changes can be made?
If you make too many changes all at once than none of them will stick, because of this I have decided to adjust just these two categories in the following ways.
To become the future me I have to grow not only in wealth but also in knowledge. To gain that knowledge books, courses, and life experience is required this all will take money. So I will be INCREASING my average spending from $19.90 to $25 a week or $1,300 a year.
I’m going to set aside this money (probably on a monthly basis) in a separate account. Since I have no plans in the near future to purchase any type of class or book this will make it easier when the time comes as I will already have the money to pay for it.
The other large expense was food at work and in my opinion A LOT of food at work. So that needs to decrease, my wife and I discussed this at length and will both be working hard to make our lunch at home and bringing it with us when we work. Drinks are really the largest portion of the cost as I often buy 3 to 5 drinks a day instead of refilling my water bottle or bringing drinks from home.
My Shopping Ban
After learning about these major expenses in my life, and reflecting on my debt, I have decided to copy Cait, and start my very own shopping ban.
Now keep in mind that Cait is in here second year of a shopping ban, I however am only going to dedicate 1 month to this (to start) and see how much money can be saved.
Like Cait, has done with her own shopping ban (and explained in her two latest posts on how to have your own shopping ban), I’m going to set a few rules out here.
Things I can Purchase:
Shoes (only one pair as mine are not work conducive)
Compression Socks (I stand for 9 or more hours a day in one place and these have helped so much I just need more)
One Non-work lunch a week
Things I Can’t Purchase:
Drinks at work
Food at work
ANYTHING at work
I have found that if I don’t work (my 9 to 5) that I don’t spend money, it really is that simple to me so for the month of February I will not be spending a dime at work. This is going to require advanced preparation on my part because I still need to eat and drink just don’t need to buy things at work.
What we will do is purchase things for lunch, including juice/tea/soda, and bring it to work. I know this is something that I should have been doing already but until I started putting everything down on paper I didn’t realize that I was SO out of control.
I have absolutely loved the first month of this year, I started really taking this blog seriously, focused on driving more for Lyft, started trying to get some freelance work, started a email list, as well as changed a few habits that will cause me to get healthier and stay in budget.
I’m one month in and I think the next 11 will be awesome, next month though will be challenging as I grow even closer to the future me and spend nothing on additional things I don’t really need.
Have you REALLY looked at your own budget? What changes have you made? Have you done your own shopping ban? How did it go? Let me know in the comments.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net