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.
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.