TRY: Pt. 2 The Month of Spending Less
I am one week into my Month of Spending Less. There have been ups and downs but I am mostly on track.
This week I have discovered that in order to complete this Month of Spending Less with success, it is important to have a solid plan and to be prepared. Three days into the experiment I was late for the bus and forgot my packed lunch at home. People need to eat and I wasn't going to spend the day starving at work so I bought a lunch. It was the most depressing $9 I ever spent. I could not believe how upset it made me because I really wanted to finish this month with no mistakes. I'm over it now and I understand that mistakes happen, but I was pretty upset about it for a solid three days afterward.
This week I also had a friend's birthday that I forgot to include in my budget. The hard thing about birthdays and events surrounded around spending money with friends is that I found I felt guilty if I didn't join in the party. I felt like I was letting the other person down more than myself. So I shared a pitcher of beer with my friends and chipped in for that. Because I had an important meeting the next day, I didn't stay out late. It was good to have solid reason that prevented me from spending extra money, but I know that in the future I may not have that reason to fall back on. I use my credit card as my second ID, so when motivations are down it is very easy to just use a credit card rather than sticking to a set amount of cash that I planned to take out. In the future, I am going to use my debit card because I can limit the amount of cash that stays in that account more easily. Then I will have it for emergencies if needed, and otherwise I will have to stick to a strict cash budget.
This week I noticed that when I am feeling depressed, sad, or uneasy about something I end up craving certain chocolates and junk food which I want to spend all the money on. For instance, after a meeting that didn't go the way I had wanted I was feeling disappointed. I started walking to the bus stop and all I could think about were chocolate mini eggs that are so easily accessible this time of year. Chocolate mini eggs are my vice. Cut to me chomping on chocolate mini eggs I found at a bulk store while wandering around a bookstore downtown. In the back of my mind I passed the chocolate off as "groceries". Mistake number 2.
While at the bookstore I was tempted to buy a new book. This time around I tried to sit with the feelings more, and notice why I wanted to buy something new. I felt like I had a whole in my stomach that I was trying to fill with new things. This time, I realized that those new things wouldn't actually satisfy me and that I just had to sit with the feeling of being uncomfortable. I still have a long ways to go, but I think that witnessing my emotions around money before making an impulse decision to buy something is going to benefit me in the long run.
I am trying very hard to cut down on the amount I spend on groceries with a very ambitious goal of spending no more than $50. So far, I have spent $37.49 on groceries. Clearly it is a lot harder than I expected to spend so little on groceries. Especially since I need to buy some vegetables and peanut butter this week. The mistake I made is that I thought I had a lot more in my fridge than I did. Once I had used up a bunch of ingredients to make some meals, I realized that I was running low on some things. As I mentioned previously, I slipped up and bought chocolate this week and justified the purchase as groceries. Now that I am more aware about how much food actually costs and how much I actually buy as well as how I react in certain situations, I am upping my groceries limit to $70. The $50 goal for the month was a little too unrealistic, $70 however still requires a lot of mindful editing when it comes to making a grocery list. I like to eat good food and I'm not going to sacrifice myself to beans and quinoa every night, but I also need to make sure I don't go overboard and buy camembert and brie cheese all the time. It's the trick of finding the balance and I know I haven't quite found it yet.
Moving onto Week 2, I am going to work hard to not succumb to my chocolate cravings and to make sure I plan out proper meals. For instance, I need to make sure I can make meals for dinner that I can also take for lunch the next day. I need to make time to do some baking so I have bread to eat for breakfast and use for sandwiches. For the next week I am going to continue to witness how I feel when I want to spend money, and continue to work on sitting with the feeling of being uncomfortable. This next week I am also planning to do some decluttering and to take inventory of at least some of what I own. I have a busy week ahead but I am feeling ready for it. The journey continues with Week 2 of the Month of Spending Less!