That’s right. We made it through 31 days of no Chipotle burrito bowls, no Domino’s spinach Alfredo pizza, and no Indian takeout. We said no to Happy Hours, Groupon purchases, new fitness gear, and trips to IKEA. No trips to Target or the thrift store and absolutely no dry cleaning.
Based on all of this “NO”, you all probably think we lived a dreary, no frills, no fun life for 31 days and we’re ready to give up all this no spending money business. But you’d be wrong.
While pinching our discretionary income pennies, we cooked, we brought our lunch, we invited our friends over and we generally stayed at home and drank 3 Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s.
But we took the first deliberate steps toward our financial freedom, though there were some setbacks and missteps along the way.
Here’s a roundup of how we did.
Ricks Month 1
The Good: I set out to pay down debt and save, and I got my first win in January. I paid off a small but lingering Firestone bill, which was nearly $500 and there are funds in the emergency account. The biggest thing is that there are funds in that account and I made it through January without spending that money. I wasn’t even tempted, and that’s a first. But since I didn’t have anything to spend it on, there was no actual temptation.
The Bad: I grossly underestimated what it costs to cook every meal and eat everything I cooked. I certainly thought that $100 a month would be more than sufficient. I was wrong.
The Ugly: I believe in reality checks, and I got several in this first month. When you tell the universe that you’re going to do something scary and awesome like, stop spending money on everything you want so that you can pay down your debts and save, stuff happens. Some of it good, some of it not so good. Though I’m going to have another bill pay off victory soon, the next victory will take a bit longer than I’d like to achieve. The reality is the bill is much bigger and even though I want it paid off now, there’s nothing more that I’m willing to give up to make that happen.
Lesson Learned: There will be setbacks and disappointments, but such is life. Go with it. My goal is to not lose focus as I have in the past. If I want to achieve the financial goals that I’ve set for this year, I have the keep the fire in my belly to do this stoked. I’m excited about February and am happy with the progress I’ve made so far.
Reese’s Month 1
The Bad: I’m a graduate student living primarily on a (generous) stipend from the National Science Foundation. My stipend is administered by my university. You’d think after three years they’d be able to get my money right, but alas this is not the case. They’ve messed up and I’m two paychecks behind, which means I’m did not meet the January savings milestones I had hoped, but…
The Good: …all my bills got paid! I still put some money into savings and I stuck to the plan to not spend on frivolous things! Can I get an amen?! ::insert amen here::
Lesson Learned: I actually consider this (frustrating) setback a blessing. It gave me an opportunity to truly give thanks for what I have. This last 31 days taught me a lot about what I DON’T need. I’m excited about this financial journey and equally geeked about this emerging desire and quest toward simplicity.
Room for Improvement: Collectively, we spent over 400 bucks on groceries this month. Granted, we did cook every meal (that’s a total of 140 lunches and dinners between the two of us. I didn’t include breakfast because neither of us are traditional breakfast eaters). Our original $200 budget may not have been realistic considering what we eat and how much we eat (don’t let these relatively small frames fool you!) but we’re going to do better. We’re armed with coupons for the next shopping trip and a spreadsheet is being developed to keep up with prices at different stores. We have resolved to give up some of our “bougie” eats (sighs) in favor of savings, but since we both love cooking and food, we’re trying to find the right balance for us.
Overall, we’re pleased with what we’ve done. Two months ago, this was just a thought…one that we were not completely sold on. Now, we’re all in and looking forward to every milestone.