At the beginning of January, I told Vagner that we had to decrease our spending and I wanted to try a low spend month. Between vacation, holiday gifts, and going all out for Nora’s first Christmas, we were dropping a lot of cash. We want to buy a house later this year, so saving has become a bigger priority.
We talked about doing a no-spend month and not spending money on anything other than necessities, but I didn’t want to do that. I have friends who have loved this approach, but I have a similar relationship with money like I do with food. If I don’t allow indulgences, I’ll crash and burn.
We set a few rules in place for the month and loosely followed them. I didn’t think it’d make a difference, but we spent thousands of dollars less in January than November or December.
My Low-Spend Month Rules
To come up with these rules, I just thought of where we usually spend the most money. Here’s what we did:
- Preloaded my Starbucks card on the 1st with $35 and didn’t reload it until February
- Minimized impulse spending (no wandering the aisles at Target, for example)
- Got takeout only once during the week and once on the weekend
- No clothing or makeup purchases
These weren’t absolute rules. There was a weekend that I was too stressed to think about dinner, so we got Fresh Kitchen. I realized I didn’t have anything to wear for a photoshoot, so I ended up spending $50 on a dress. But overall, we stuck to these rules. Here were a few things that helped:
- Making hot tea at home to replace my coffee runs! I ordered a few yummy blends from Plum Deluxe, and the Peaches and Cream Oolong tea singlehandedly got me through the month.
- Planning out meals like pizza, burgers, and homemade dessert. Eating at home can be fun, too.
- Keeping track of the things I wanted to buy when the month ended. Honestly, I only ended up purchasing one or two items from that list.
- If I really wanted something to drink, I’d go to Sonic during Happy Hour and get a Cherry Diet Coke. Their ice is better than Starbucks, anyway!
Vagner says he’s fine to make these changes permanent. I’m not *quite* there — I think I still enjoy takeout too much! I do think that this month helped me reframe my relationship with our finances, though. I found myself realizing things about myself — I’ll list some below.
- Half the time when I buy coffee, I don’t even finish drinking it! Sometimes, I just want to get out of the house when I say I want coffee.
- My new approach to clothing is, “It’s a hell no if it’s not a hell yes.” I’m guilty of finding something on a Target clearance rack, buying it just because it fits, and then never wearing it.
- When I don’t spend money impulsively, it leaves me with cash to do things I genuinely enjoy, like taking Nora to a local zoo or museum.
- As Twitter would say, I’m a hot girl with stomach problems, and I tend to feel better physically when I’m not eating at restaurants daily.
These takeaways have already affected my approach to spending. I’m not perfect, but I do have a better understanding of my financial health thanks to this endeavor.