I’m feeling like it’s once again time for me to take a bit of a spending break. Right now, this is simultaneously a budget-thing, a time-thing, and a stuff-thing. I’m hoping that having three different concerns on my mind will make for a perfect storm of motivation for a solid month off from any extraneous shopping and spending. The goal? To live on less money than I currently do, free up some time, and give myself some space to declutter some stuff without bringing even more in.
I’ve come in under budget so far this year, but I’d like to focus more on areas where I can cut back even further. This is the time of year that I really start to remember that the summer’s coming. Although other summers have required using some savings, this is the first year that I’ll be living off them fully – no teaching, research gigs, or contract work (for which I’m actually really grateful, since I need a solid block of time to work on my own research). I’m always aware of this, and I always start saving early with this scenario in mind, but it’s usually around March that it really hits home and I start to consider how I can cut down our spending a bit more.
This is also one of those times in the year where I could simply use a bit more time in my days. March is a busy month of the year for me. February involved a lot of teaching, but March stacks a larger pile of grading, conference paper writing, meetings, and additional work on top of my regular commitments. This isn’t a bad thing but any stretch, but it does require a solid investment of time. My hope is that by completely eliminating the temptation for anything non-essential, I can also free up whatever time I would have allocated to shopping.
Finally, although progress is being made, I still need to get rid of things. Unsurprisingly, continually bringing stuff home isn’t going to do anything to help with the decluttering. Cutting out shopping should let me make a bit of headway into the overabundance of things by preventing me from sabotaging my own efforts by regularly hitting the thrift and book stores. I had myself convinced that I didn’t really buy that much, but looking at last month’s acquisitions gave me a bit of a shock – more on this later – and I’m determined to stem the flow of stuff into the apartment.
The plan, such as it is, is pretty simple. I can still pay for all necessary things – rent, insurance, internet access, bus pass, and utilities. Although I’ll be trying to cut back where possible, I can also spend money on food and necessary health related items. What I won’t be buying is anything that isn’t a need. This means no clothes, books, music, craft supplies, or kitchenware, which are my other semi-regular to regular purchases.
I also have a few things I want to do in conjunction with this no spending month. As I save more, I’m planning on doing some research about what to do with that money. This may mean looking into investment opportunities. Or, it may mean researching a few more tangible and less traditional investment purchases, such as a pressure canner or grain mill, that could help save more money in the long term. As I save time, I’m going to spend more time doing the research-related work that I’m hoping will make it easier for me to find a permanent position. Finally, as I cut back on the stuff I bring home, I plan to take a closer look at the things I already own in order to clear some things out and make better use of what I already have.
Initially, I assumed this would be easy. “No problem,” I thought. “I don’t buy very much at all – this will be a piece of cake!” But, looking at the numbers suggests that that’s not entirely true. Although I don’t spend all that much, apparently I still shop and spend somewhat more than I think that I do. Consequently, this could very well wind up being more of a challenge than I think. I relish the opportunity, though, and I suspect that if it’s hard I’ll actually wind up learning a lot, which has a great deal of value in its own right. So, without further ado, here goes nothing (kind of literally)!