It has officially been two weeks since we started the No Spend Year, and it’s about time I give you an update on our progress. I’m happy to report that we have stuck to our goals with no miscellaneous spending outside of our budget. Husband and I each allow ourselves $80 per paycheck (or $40 per week) for Fun money.*
What have we learned?
I, for one, realized that all of my Fun money previously went to shopping. “What did I even buy?” I wonder. Who knows, but I look back now and think, “What a waste of time and money!” It did not take long for me to come to this realization, either. I was about two days in when that little voice inside of my head said, “I need a calendar for my desk.”Here’s where the rationalization began to kick in. “It’s a new year. A calendar helps me to keep track of my assignments and business trips, and what about my personal appointments?”
I held my ground, though, and reminded myself that I have digital methods of tracking all of those things. I didn’t really need a calendar; it was a want. And did I really want to spend $10 of my precious Fun money to buy a calendar? Nope. “Besides,” I told myself, “think of the time you will have to spend filling it in and keeping it up to date.” I reminded myself of the promise I made and my desire to be a person who doesn’t shop for fun.
Alexis, on the other hand, learned that he spends all of his Fun money on dining out. This is just as I suspected, and while I can’t comment extensively on his personal journey, I will say that he stuck to his guns as well. I am proud of him; proud of both of us, really. This has been an eye-opening experience. I’m excited to see what else we learn about ourselves as the year unfolds.
The obsession with the calendar might seem a bit odd (unless, of course, you too are a compulsive spender. Then you know my struggle all too well). Allow me to explain. It really has nothing to do with the practicality of a calendar, and everything to do with me wanting to buy something. I got it into my head that I needed a calendar because I decided to redecorate my work space. It had remained barren for far too long. Rather than buy decorations for my desk as I would normally do, the No Spend Year inspired me to rearrange some items on a shelf at home and bring a few books and a picture frame I already had in to decorate. I also used a cardboard box to raise my laptop to eye level. The result? It worked! I am much more happy and at home now, and it cost me nothing but a little ingenuity.
As for how I actually spent my Fun money, here is the breakdown:
- $5.95 for a colorful coffee mug to keep at work (it’s the little things in life)
- $21.61 for a six pack of craft beer, a box of dark chocolate almonds, and sour gummi worms
- $21.15 for a Moleskine notebook
- $12.25 for a sandwich from Jimmy John’s
- $2.50 for vegan peanut butter cups
Total Spent: $63.46.
The notebook comes from my goal to keep a written journal and draw again, and the sandwich was admittedly a slip-up on a day when I was not prepared with a home-brought lunch. As for the vegan peanut butter cups, well, I have a dairy allergy and just really needed some chocolate that day.
The biggest change I have noticed is my shift in focus. Now that I am no longer using my free time to shop, I have so much more time to spend on my hobbies and those things that I truly enjoy doing: writing, reading the news, listening to music, cooking, and watching television. (Currently binge watching Fringe. What an amazing show! I am behind the times, clearly.) My overall satisfaction with life has increased greatly. And just think, if this all happened in two weeks, imagine what the next months have in store.
*Note: I am debating the decision to go the route of full disclosure and post our budget. While I feel that others could learn and benefit from it, and my hope is that people would be inspired by it (because goddamn, we are saving a lot of money!), I also am hesitant to reveal our finances to the entire world. I will say that, together, we are paying off a total of $58,000 in debt this year while living on less than 50% of our income. And that’s pretty damn impressive.