Thursday, June 17, 2010

My ''No Spending'' Experiment

I'm a nutcase job when it comes to making my budget, on paper.  I think budgets are sexy, that' right... I said the ''s'' word. My budget is made for well over a year in advance, that way, I know, say, next February, that I'm not in the red financially, again, on paper that is. Doing this, as crazy as it sounds, makes me feel anything but, it reassures me. Yet, after careful review of my budgets over the course of the last few months, it would seem that we've always managed to overspend (read over-overspend)!  I planned to rectify this and spend only what was necessary for the next month. Apparently,  according to financial advisors, giving yourself a break from spending is a great method to get your budget back on track.

We budgetted for the essential necessities, from gas to groceries, to diapers. All other bills that had to be paid came out of our accounts automatically. To purchase our ''necessities,'' we lived on cash alone. This has been, to say the least, a valuable, eye-opening experience.

 First, we have learned that although there are infinite luxuries to be purchased, only few people can afford to bathe in them,  without acquiring debt. I keep hearing Dr.Phil's words in my head over and over again, ''you don't finance toys!'' By living on cash alone, on the projected budget we had established, we realised that money does run out. 

Knowing that money runs out helps us not spend mindlessly. It's okay if we can't go to the movies this month or if we can't eat out. It will make us healthier and it will even make me a better cook, ''Rachael Ray, hear me roar!'' My house is one big mess of little projects that are begging for attention: from organising my office, to the kids' toys...We realised that when money runs out, our lives do not.

I've learned that when I am bored, I tend to want to go shopping and spend. I've  learned that if  I don't have a plan for dinner, or if I'm too tired, I tend to want to order something in. I  had to take this new-found knowledge and find ways to curve these habbits. And so, we found ways to stay occupied. We planned our groceries and menus better. We found new ways to fill our time. 

 When you don't spend for things that you don't need, you realise how plentiful your life already is. You realise how little you actually need to be happy. You find joy in the little things, in rediscovering movies in your DVD collection that you loved, in dusting off old board games, in remembering card games from your past, in cooking wholesome meals, in getting on the floor to play with your tornados, kids.

Going a month without spending is certainly an exercice I recommend, not only to ''weed out'' possible financial pitfalls, but also to learn, or to rediscover that life is more than what you can purchase. After this month, I think that our spending habbits will have been tweaked for the better. My budget is back on track, and I'm sure we're going to be well on our way to a healthy (healthier) financial future. Yay!

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Anonymous said...

Interesting, but I could NEVER do it, I love shopping way too much, but then again, I don't have a mortgage yet.....
Glad it was a positive experience!