May has been an interesting month. It was harder than I anticipated to adjust to a biweekly paycheck from a weekly one (I started working on the last day of the last pay period, so Wednesday will be my first full paycheck) and as a result, I’ve returned to a few of the older money-blogs I used to read like “And then we saved.” I stopped reading it because I don’t actually find the new stuff that useful (not compared to YNAB at least) but one of her older posts got me thinking. In it, Anna made a list of her wants versus her needs in preparation for a year-long spending fast. I’m not planning anything so grandiose, but with the trip to Glasgow on the horizon and my travel funds somewhat depleted, it would be nice to cut some of my expenses to put more money toward travel (to say nothing of my still outstanding car loan).
So I made my lists.
Rent (including utilities) $550/month
Cell phone $28/month
Health insurance $175/month (this may drop in June on my work plan. I forget the exact calculations because I did it at work).
Car insurance $106/month
Other health (co-pays, prescriptions) $20/month
Car Payments $500/month
Some gas $110 month
HK food & litter $40/month
Vet trips $60/month
Household goods (TP, shampoo, non food groceries) $45/month
To give good gifts
New workout clothes
To give to charity
Nice pens/office supplies
Saving whatever is left
The amounts in my “needs” column are averages of what I’ve spent in each category so far this year. The wants are listed in the order in which they came to me, not the order in which I consciously value them (though unconsciously perhaps).
If I could stick to just my needs, there would be plenty of money for most of my wants. So I’m thinking of instituting another “summer sequester” like I did a few years ago. Just spending money on my needs, cutting costs whenever possible–particularly aiming at the food and fuel costs. I’ve been biking to work whenever possible, which is glorious, but I have evening meetings offsite, so I usually end up driving in a few days a week. Still, I think it makes a difference.
I’m starting this week with a “spending freeze” until pay day on Wednesday. We’ll see if it actually works out, but I skipped today’s shopping trip in favor of eating what I already have in the house. One of my friends gave me a large purple cabbage on Friday from her CSA, so I cooked it up this afternoon and will be enjoying a lot of free cabbage over the next few days as a result. Then it will be black beans, now and forever. I’m exaggerating a little, I actually forget how many half eaten bags of frozen vegetables are in the freezer, but black beans are my go-to.
The hardest thing to give up, not for three days, but if I really do a summer sequester again will be eating out. Plumeria has become a convenient treat, especially with one of my friends, and it will be unpleasant to break that tradition, even temporarily (but probably good practice). They boyfriend and I budget a little “fun money” into our rent, so that we don’t have to keep track of who paid last time when we go out to eat, so we’ll still do that about once every week or so. I don’t feel like I eat out much otherwise, but the numbers tell a different story.
It’s nice to have a goal to aim for–Glasgow in August, but I really just want to get back into a frugal frame of mind for its own sake. I feel like I could be saving so much more, without great cost to my quality of life, if I only applied myself a little more closely.