Cash-uary Week 1 Recap

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Happy New Year! How long is too long to keep saying “Happy New Year”? I kind of want to keep saying it until at least like, July.

As mentioned in my prior post, I’m focussing on #money this year. I’m not drawn to do a no-buy full year like some awesome people such as Cait Flanders have done, but I do want to become more mindful about how and where I spend money. I am going to tackle different challenges related to money each month. January is a cash-only month, and I’ve set a pretty strict budget for myself.

Although I haven’t been perfect, which was not the goal, I’ve already spent much less than I spent by this point last month.

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Here’s the breakdown of my spending:

CASH: $260

I’ve spent $140 of this so far. I haven’t tracked this spending in detail, but it’s essentially gone to groceries, one dinner out, an eyebrow wax, and that about covers it.

CARD: $20

Amazon Movie Rental: $5.99

I came down with a cold, and in a Nyquil daze rented the movie Colette on Amazon. #worthit

Parking: $4.00

Trader Joes: $6.98

Lol, I accidentally spent more than the amount of cash I had on hand which resulted in a $6.98 charge to my card to cover the rest.

Apple Itunes: $2.99

By only using cash I’ve been able to spend a lot less than I usually would have this past week. My work is a cashless environment, so all of the coffee shops and restaurants only accept a card.  I didn’t buy anything at work last week, which was pretty major. When I’m using my card it’s really easy to sneak down to the cafe in my building and buy a second coffee or an afternoon pastry.

Since I am using cash I also haven’t made any purchases on Amazon so far this month. I might make an exception for this if I need to buy vitamins, but I’m going to do my best to avoid the ease of one-click purchases. I came very close to purchasing a $38 dollar set of glass food containers off of Amazon, which would be great for packing lunch in, but stopped myself because I already have a couple good containers to bring lunch to work in at home.

All in all, this first week of spending only cash went well! I am about $40 dollars over where I wanted to be by this point, but feel great about having spent much less than I spent at this point last month!

 

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January Spending Challenge

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Happy new year!! I brought in the new year doing hot yoga with a bunch of hippies! It was the best. Everyone dressed in wild outfits and we cheers-ed Kombucha at midnight- it was great.

I want to start with a quick reminder that our fears are mainly just products of our thoughts, and thus not real. This morning I went to change the sheets on my bed. For some reason, this is the household chore I dread the most. I really struggle with putting a clean duvet cover on my comforter. The whole process takes less than 10 minutes, but I still procrastinate it like it’s my job. Today I grabbed my clean sheets and as I set them on my bed I briefly glimpsed a huge black spider hiding inside the duvet cover. Spiders are my number one phobia, so I immediately dropped the sheets and felt fear take over my mind and adrenaline rush through my body. I stared at the duvet cover, which was now on my floor, for like, 5 minutes. I knew the spider was right underneath it. Today is January 1st, and I spent yesterday talking with a friend about how one of my goals this year is to get better at doing the things that scare me or make me feel uncomfortable. Rather than putting them off and resenting them, I want to just do the thing sooner. So of course, here I was on January 1st, paralyzed in fear and really not wanting to confront the spider lurking underneath my duvet cover. I did not want to deal with this.  I even considered knocking on a neighbors door and asking for their help. Would that be too dramatic? lol. After a few minutes, I finally realized I would never feel ready to do it, so I just had to do it. I flipped the duvet over and stared at the black object. After a few seconds, I realized it wasn’t moving. I also realized it wasn’t actually a spider. It was a ball of black string.

So there ya go. In my head, I had imagined this huge black spider that I was going to have to kill. I also imagined that I would now be faced with the fear of knowing that spiders that big resided in my apartment building. A task I already resent would now be even easier to put off if I knew a huge black spider might be part of the process of changing my bed sheets. And low and behold it wasn’t even a spider. The thing I had built up in my mind and really believed existed was actually just a piece of string. Maybe the things that really scare you aren’t so scary when you actually do them. Quit your job. Tell them you love them. Change your sheets.

Now onto my January challenge 🙂

I am kicking off a January spending challenge. I am too intimidated by the idea of a year-long no-buy challenge, and also know that sticking to something for a year is not something I’m great at, so in the name of setting goals that are achievable, I am choosing to create monthly challenges. The goal of my monthly challenges is to get me thinking about how I spend my money, with the ultimate goal of spending smartly and saving more. A year ago I was making almost half of what I’m making right now, and yet I am still basically living paycheck to paycheck. I have begun saving money over the past three months, so I want to give myself credit for that, but I know I can do better. I have some big goals that are going to be a lot less scary to put into action if I have a solid emergency fund in place.

So to start in January I am going to set a challenge to only spend $800 dollars this month (aside from my rent which is more than that). I am going to use cash to help me stay on track. Here’s the breakdown:

Jan 1- Jan 6: $100

Jan 7 – Jan 13: $200

Jan 14 – Jan 21: $200

Jan 21 – Jan 27: $200

Jan 28 – Jan 31: $100

I’ve been tracking my monthly spending for the past five months, and I have slowly spent less and less each month. I thought it would be fun to kick things off with a bang with a challenge like this. I will check in at the end of each week with a recap of how the challenge is going!

I think sticking to this budget will be hard, because I usually average at spending over $500 a week! I don’t think I would want to be on this tight of a budget full time, because I think its important to enjoy what your money can get you, BUT I think it will be a good reminder that I can live just fine when living on a tight budget.

Stay tuned to see how the month goes!

Holiday Spendin’

December is a strange month. It’s a time when you’re supposed to feel a high level of joy and merry, while also a time when you are heavily marketed to and told that you must spend money to validate and ensure this joy and merry. Yes, I may be feeling a bit dramatic about the whole thing, but if I’m being honest, December is the toughest month of the year for me.

I went into this month planning to be as mindful as possible about my spending. I even had conversations with those closest to me about the craziness of consumerism at this time of the year, and plans were made to gift each other very small gifts.

However, by December 22nd I found myself aimlessly wandering the streets of Portland looking for stuff I could buy to give my loved ones. Nothing was enough. I found a beautiful journal for someone, but then felt like I needed to find something else small and special that would take their gift to the next level. I spent $30 dollars for a gift for the person I’m dating, but none of the things felt “right” or “meaningful” enough. The only gift I felt totally good about was an $8 pack of stickers I bought for a close friend that perfectly represented an inside joke we have. That was it though. One gift I felt good about. The rest of my gifts felt like money spent for the sake of giving a gift, which isn’t a great feeling.

On a positive note, I know I’m not alone in this behavior. The idea that all of the gifts you give at Christmas will be meaningful and be made by mindfully spending your money is a very high bar in this day of consumerism and marketing. At the end of the day I was able to spend time with family members over this holiday, and for that I am very grateful. I am still on a journey of figuring out what type of minimalist lifestyle will fit me best, and the fact that I didn’t get it quite right this Christmas is okay.

Also, when I look at the nitty-gritty of my spending I am actually doing pretty well for this month.

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I am about $300 down from where my spending was at this time last November, which is pretty awesome and unexpected! Near the end of the month in November I went on a trip to Nashville which is why my spending spiked, but still, given that December is a crazy holiday-spending month I am pleased to see I am sitting lower than I was at this time last month.

In total, I spent just under $300 on gifts for people this year. This may seem low to a lot of people, but at the end of the day that’s $300 dollars.  That’s not too far off from a month’s worth of groceries for me! That would pay off about 70% of the amount of money I currently have on a credit card right now. And if you consider that I really only felt great about $8 of that spending, that means this holiday season I spent $292 somewhat mindlessly.

I’m not saying that next year I want to spend less than $300 on presents. I’m saying that next year I would like to buy gifts a little more intentionally, so at the end of December 2019 I can feel like I spent money mindfully and bought gifts with intention rather than aimlessly on December 22nd so that I wouldn’t show up to my family empty-handed. If I spend $500 on gifts next year that I feel great and excited about, that would be better than the $292 I spent last minute this year.

Since I am just coming out of this holiday season, I want to create a list of guidelines for myself to hopefully revisit and follow next year.

2019 Holiday Shopping

  • FINISH ALL HOLIDAY SHOPPING BY DECEMBER 1st
    • By setting this deadline, I can avoid having to do any last-minute shopping. Although last-minute shopping might occasionally be necessary, it almost always detracts from my ability to shop mindfully. If I need a present for someone by tomorrow, I’m much more likely to spend $80 dollars on things just to have something. If I shop a few weeks prior I have the time and space to think about what they would really like without the pressure to spend money just to show them I bought them something. In the case with my friend this year, an $8 pack of stickers that was an ode to something that really makes us both smile and was a lot more meaningful than an $80 gift card to Nordstrom.
  • EXERCISE THROUGHOUT THE SEASON
    • I literally didn’t exercise at all the month of December which did not help with any holiday stress or anxiety. Next year I need to prioritize this, whether that means doing high-intensity workouts or going to a gentle yoga class, it is so so important for me to do this.
  • BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET
    • In July 2019 I am going to start a holiday fund. If I put $50 aside each month starting in July I will have $250 by December. That means holiday shopping will not impact my paycheck so directly by December. If I need to spend an extra 100, thats okay too, but at least it will mean I won’t need to take $350 directly out of one paycheck, or worse, add it to a credit card.

 

That’s all I got! I don’t know if I’ll ever get through a December stress and anxiety free and without any mindless spending, but it doesn’t hurt to have that as a north star. I am proud of myself for not completely overspending this month, although next year I hope that spending is done a bit more intentionally.

Happy holidays everyone 🙂

Sunday Savings 12/16

So, this weekend was what I call a not-so-payday weekend. My last paycheck was a little smaller than usual because it was coming after Thanksgiving (as an hourly worker,I lost some valuable hours because I took a few days off around T-day), so I was left with less than usual by the time I got to this weekend. Luckily, I had planned for this, so I wasn’t completely broke. As I gear up for a 2019 that is framed around intentional spending/consuming, I again tried to be very mindful with how I spent my money this weekend. I wasn’t perfect, but I am heading into this week knowing I have more than enough funds to make it to payday.

What I Spent:

Parking: $2.50

Dinner Date: $18.12

Vitamin B Shot: $35

Breakfast Bagel: $7.95

Gift for Neighbor: $8.28

Groceries: $65.60

Rollerblading Night: $10

Total: $147.45

34.16 LESS than last weekend!

Going through my purchases this weekend I can proudly say that I truly have no ragrets. I will say, as I went through my bank account to add up my expenses, there was a pesky $22.99 purchase that was just labeled as “Debit Purchase” by my bank, rather than being tied to a specific vendor. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I had bought that was $22.99. Does this happen to anyone else?! After five minutes I finally remembered that I had popped into the grocery store on Friday night before I went over to a friend’s house. I was in such a rush, and still transitioning from work-mode to weekend-mode, that I barely recall what I got at the grocery store. It’s a good lesson that I’m probably not the most mindful consumer when I’m feeling stressed/rushed.

Best weekend purchase: Rollerblading!!

I want to shout out my favorite purchase of the weekend, which was most definitely an evening rollerblading at a friend’s birthday party! For 10 dollars I got to rent an awesome pair of skatez and hit the rink for two hours. It was truly such an awesome idea for a birthday party! It was cute to see a bunch of adults put on roller blades and turn into kids again. It was also very humbling to totally suck at something. But by the end of the night, we all had gotten pretty decent and made an agreement to return to the rink sooner than later :). Shoutout to spending money on fun experiences!

Ways I Saved:

Dinner party vs going out ($30)On Friday night I went over to a friends for dinner. She made the decision to have a dinner party hosted at her and her husband’s apartment, which I was super grateful for! I brought her a flower bouquet, and enjoyed an evening of tacos followed by warm chocolate chip cookies for no charge :). It’s a reminder that having friends over is just as, if not even more, enjoyable as going out and you aren’t stuck with a $30+ dinner and drinks bill.

Mindful holiday gifts ($50-100): I am being very mindful with my holiday giving this year, mainly as a means of saving money. I’ve had conversations about this with all of the people I will be giving gifts to, to ensure that they don’t spend a ton of money on me in return. I went shopping with my Mom on Saturday and I didn’t purchase any gifts, although I totally could have gotten sucked into buying Aesop $52 dollar soap or a beautiful $40 ceramic mug.

No alcohol ($20): I opted out of the bar crawl that took place after the rollerblading party on Saturday. I easily saved spending $20 on drinks, and also saved myself from having a hangover on Sunday.

No. Regrets.

Avoided Spending: $150

What Would Intuitive Spending Look Like?

I’ve been tinkering with the idea of “intuitive spending” recently. Intuitive Eating has recently profoundly impacted my life. My relationship with food has been something I’ve thought about since I was 13. I know I’m not alone. Tons of people, especially women, battle disordered eating due to many reasons including the exponential level that we receive advertisements today, which portray a very limited view of what women should look like.  That, plus the constant access to social media where we see people posting photos of themselves from their best angles mixed with the monetization of the wellness industry– basically, it’s easy to understand why it’s impossible to go through a day without hearing one of my friends or coworkers talking about their new paleo, plant-based, or sugar free diet.

I had heard about intuitive eating a few times, but for some reason, it didn’t stick until recently. I had just spent 22 days completing a “mini-whole 30”. Although my body did feel somewhat cleansed and healthy, it had been a rather grueling mental journey. I had multiple food dreams(that a friend told me were basically “user-dreams”), I felt moody, and I felt a too obsessed. Why am I doing this? 

Why did I feel drawn to Whole 30s? Why did I feel the need to perfect the way I ate? I think it stems from many things that I may dive into in a future post, but I had reached my limit. I was close to being ready to let go of my inner perfectionist, at least with food. Right around this time I happened upon this post on one of my favorite blogs. Kelsey Miller’s writing stopped me in my tracks because I resonated so deeply with her words.

“Body acceptance is not “giving up on yourself.” And eating without restriction is not mindless, wild bingeing. It’s the opposite.” – Kelsey Miller

I’m a month into intuitive eating, and I don’t think I’ll be returning to dieting anytime soon, even if that means I may not always fit into the jeans I can only fit into after two weeks of Whole 30. If fitting into those jeans means thinking excessively about what I eat for weeks, then I will pass. I would rather be happy, satiated, and using my knowledge and energy to create and work on my passions than dream about cakes because I haven’t had sugar in days. There is a true health component of diets like Whole 30 and paleo, but as a relatively healthy 25-year-old I think I’m okay taking a break from all of that for a bit.

Now, let’s talk money!

Transforming the way I eat via intuitive eating has me wondering if I could apply the same principles to money. My relationship with food is somewhat similar to my relationship with money. In both realms, I have a fear of scarcity. Until I started intuitive eating, I almost always finished my entire plate, cookie, or whatever it was regardless of how full I was. Just like with food, I almost always spend all of my money I have to spend, regardless of if I need the things I’m purchasing or not. If I give myself 100 dollars to spend in a week, I will spend all of it, and maybe more. The more prescriptive and obsessive I get about my budgets, the more likely I’ll be to overspend.

Setting rules around money make me want to break those rules. I don’t want to spend money because I’ve budgeted out the exact amounts I can spend and I want to hit those targets. I want to use money as a tool to help me thrive. This might sound a little out there, but that’s exactly how intuitive eating sounded when I first learned about.  I thought if I’m allowed to eat anything and everything won’t I eat like 12 cupcakes every day? The truth is no, I won’t. Intuitive eating is giving me confidence that I intuitively do know what my body craves, and it’s not always cupcakes. In fact, today I found myself craving exactly what I had packed for lunch which was rice with sweet potatoes, chicken, cauliflower, and black beans, and it was so satisfying. I had a resees cup after lunch without thinking twice. I don’t know what I’ll have for dinner, or what I’ll eat tomorrow, but when the time comes for my next meal I’ll check in with how I’m feeling physically and emotionally, and make a decision.

Although I’ve gotten better with managing money over the past few years, I still find myself overthinking about it. I don’t want to spend too much or too little. I have savings goals that I try to follow to a T. The whole things makes me feel like a robot and makes me resent my money, rather than feeling grateful for all the amazing things it affords me. Maybe if I take away strict rules around money, I won’t automatically go into thousands of dollars of debt. Maybe I have a better intuitive relationship with money than I give myself credit for.

Maybe. The other side of this argument is that whereas food is a necessary thing the body needs to survive, money is a social construct that is kind of meaningless from a biological perspective. Whereas my body needs food, and humans have consumed food for ages, so, therefore, it makes sense I have an innate understanding how to intuitively nourish my body, that may not translate very smoothly into money management. Capitalism isn’t natural. Consumerism isn’t natural. Maybe this won’t be as intuitive and easy as I would like to hope.

There is still a lot to think about with intuitive spending, but at the core of it is the concept of being a mindful consumer. Intuitive spending does not include spending 80 dollars at forever 21 tired after a long day of work on outfits I may or may not really wear that much. Intuitive spending would not include unintentionally spending 100 dollars at Target when I meant to buy two things, although, sometimes those Target trips really do bring me some joy. Intuitive spending would include practical items, but it wouldn’t be limited to practicality. There is a joy and art to spending your income, and intuitive spending for me could look like purchasing fresh flowers for my apartment or a candle to light when I get home from work. Although these things aren’t necessary, they add something of value to my life.

Just like Intuitive Eating has guidelines, I want to create Intuitive Spending principles.

  1. Pay Yourself First
  2. Make Peace with Spending.
  3. Reject the Idea of Strict Budgeting (unless that really works for you!)
  4. Understand What Brings You Joy
  5. Respect Your Belongings
  6. Self-Care, Always
  7. Understand Where Your Money is Going
  8. Enjoy Your Life

I am going to play with these ideas some more, but plan to kick of 2019 as a year of intuitive spending. Stay tuned!

Sunday Savings

I got paid on Friday which often leads to a weekend full of over-spending. Since I am making a conscious effort to be mindful of my spending, I chose to avoid activities that could lead to over-spending. Even though I need some cleaning supplies, I opted out of a trip to Target, because in the past I’ll go to Target for two things and leave having spent $100. The cleaning supplies can wait until later this week. See below for the recap of what I spent during my “it’s payday!” weekend, and the ways I saved.

What I Spent:

Groceries: $81

Vitamins: $14.99

Eyebrow wax: $30

Entertainment: $28

Walgreens: $27.62

Total: $181.61

Even considering that I consciously made an effort not to spend a lot of money this weekend, I am still surprised to see the total is this high! It’s crazy how “small” purchases like 30 dollars at Walgreens and an eyebrow wax add up!  Going through this list, the only thing I think I could have spent less on was the entertainment piece. I kind of carelessly spent 20 dollars on Saturday and looking back at it, we could have easily stayed at home and had just as much fun.

Ways I Saved:

Skipped target: (saved $30-$100): As mentioned above, I really only need one specific cleaning supply (Clorox wipes) right now. I use these frequently, so I notice it when I’m out. However, a trip to Target can easily turn into a big spending journey for me, especially when it’s pay-day weekend and my bank account is looking good. I consciously decided to skip target this weekend. I will either go next weekend (my “it’s not pay-day” weekend) or sometime this week, when I will be less likely to overspend.

Coffee at home ($3-$20):This one is small, but I had no plans on Sunday morning. I was feeling a little bored, and also wanted to go for a walk. I figured I could bring my book and go read at a coffee shop, and then I stopped myself. I had perfectly good coffee at home, so I brewed a cup and read in my favorite chair. I really enjoy a trip to a cute coffee shop, but for the sake of being conscious about where I am spending my money, it was great to also realize I enjoy staying in and reading for free. I went for a walk after I finished reading and was happy to realize I hadn’t spent $6 on an oat milk latte. In the past whenever I go out solo for coffee sometimes I’ll end up in a store I didn’t mean to end up in, and will buy something. I potentially also saved on that impromptu purchase.

Trip to the Library ($10-$25):I finished a great book this past week and was in need of a new one. I love buying books. I really romanticize that process and love the idea that the book becomes mine, and picture myself reading it near a big window with a pen and taking lots of notes in the margins. To be completely honest I think I’ve probably actually read 50% of the books I’ve purchased. I’m embarrassed to say it might be less than that. So rather than purchasing a book on Amazon, I drove over to my local library on Saturday. It felt like time traveling to a different era in there. There were a lot of elderly people perusing the aisles, but not a lot of people my age. I picked up a book (I only let myself check out one), and ended up reading half of it that day.  This trip to the library saved me the cost of the one or two books I likely would have bought online, and if I don’t finish this one I won’t feel guilty about wasting money.

Canceled Subscriptions (7.99/month): On Friday I canceled my Netflix subscription. I rarely use Netflix anymore and I still have access to XFINITY tv which gives me access to HBO and other shows. I also pay for Amazon prime, so I get access to tons of TV shows on there as well. It’s a small monthly cost ($7.99), but I’m happy to no longer mindlessly pay for it.

Avoided Spending: $153