Februar-ain't Shopping: The Final Tally

You know, not spending money was not as hard as I thought it would be.

I mean, I didn't actually make it the entire month without making a purchase, and it was a pretty hefty one at that - even discount plane tickets to Iceland aren't exactly cheap. Still, though, I'm calling this challenge a success. The thing that I struggle with isn't necessarily that I spend too much money, but that I spend it thoughtlessly. While I wouldn't say I'm fully reformed, I'm beginning to see the value of being a little more careful about what I spend, and why.

I'm still holding out for super sweet airship travel to come back. Make my steampunk dreams come true, Elon Musk!

I'm still holding out for super sweet airship travel to come back. Make my steampunk dreams come true, Elon Musk!

One thing that I did a lot of this month was math. I wasn't familiar with very many functions on Excel before, but there are a couple that I've mastered now - namely, addition and subtraction. I actually went through and added up my income and expenses for several month, and it was startling to realize just how much I could be saving by not throwing down my credit card every time a pretty dress made its way across my computer screen. Enough to finance a trip to Iceland; enough to purchase a sweet little DSLR like I've been wanting; enough to hire movers when we're ready to move to a new apartment.

There are a few things that I'm going to try to do to keep my momentum going. First, I've set myself a "discretionary spending" budget, which will include all of the optional things that I spend money on - coffee, lunches out, any new clothes/shoes/etc. To make sure that I actually stick to it, I'm going to start carrying cash instead of using my card all the time. With a card, it's easy to spend that extra $3 or $5 or $10 without even really noticing; when you've got a finite sum of cash in hand, you really notice those few dollars coming out. I'm also going to start transferring money into my savings right after I get paid instead of waiting to the end of my pay cycle. The fact that I wasn't already doing that is a great illustration of how optional I thought saving was, but I'm determined to make it a priority now.

I'm not giving up buying clothes (ha! As if), but I didn't buy anything this month, and it was... fine. Admittedly, things got a little rough at about the halfway point. All the street style at New York Fashion Week was so cool looking, and the thought of a chubby faux fur jacket or a great pair of stilettos were really tempting. The second half of the month is also when I usually do most of my spending, so force of habit played a part in bringing the urge back to the forefront of my mind. Nonetheless, I made it through, ban intact. Although there were times when I wanted something, a little of the compulsive need to buy seems to have faded away.

But yeah, I'm totally buying a killer pair of shoes on March 1st. Possibly at midnight.