With the start of No Spend Month, I’ve been thinking a lot more about spending. My budget has always been important for me – with a somewhat low income, it helps to keep me on track and saving regularly. I set spending categories, track everything I spend, and at the start of every month I calculate out my net worth on my budget sheet (just an excel file that I set up). It’s reassuring and motivating to see the numbers going up.
While I think budgets are important in general, especially as a tool for being aware of where money goes, it’s the keeping savings on track that’s so important to me now. I have my eye on eventually buying a home on some land, and this is a big driving force behind my savings. I’d also like to have more control over where and how I work, and the less money I can live on, the better. Having a budget and using it to reduce my spending and increase my savings as much as possible has been really productive, and knowing that I need to writing things down and that spending money takes me away from these goals makes it easier to stay on track.
This week, I did spend a bit. I bought bus tickets for the month, although combined with walking and biking I don’t really use that many, so it’s not a huge expense. I also went to the thrift store because I’ve been looking for a spice rack that I can hang on the wall. I found one that was pretty much exactly what I wanted, but also wound up buying two pieces of clothing to wear for teaching, and a copy of The Joy of Cooking.
- 10 bus tickets – $19
- The Joy of Cooking – $4
- Jeans – $5
- Sweater – $3
- Spice rack – $4
Total – $35
This isn’t a lot of money, but I could do better. I think I’m going to spend some time this weekend going through my wardrobe and planning out some more teaching outfits based on clothes that I already have, so I’m not tempted to buy more. I’m also going to go through my cookbook shelf to pick out some new recipes to try, rather than adding to the collection.
Inexpensive – and lots of it – is probably my biggest stumbling block. I love a good deal and thrift stores tend to be littered with them, so it’s pretty rare for me to leave with just what I came for. I really like going through the shelves and racks and picking out a few low-priced gems from a sea of cheaply made castoffs, almost like a treasure hunt. Of course, a lot of inexpensive purchases add up (and add to the clutter, but that’s another story for another time). I could certainly be better about keeping even the smaller purchases to a minimum, doing a better job making do with what I’ve already got, and saving money. That way, I can use what I’ve saved for the important things that I won’t be able to get at the local thrift store.