Why do a spending fast?
The point isn’t to produce suffering. It’s the opposite: to maximize happiness.
For me, the most important reason to do an uber frugal month is this: to reset my automatic behaviors around spending.
To make the unconscious, conscious. To ensure I’m following one of my rules of personal finance: to spend in according to my values. Research shows, this type of spending does make you happy.
As an example, I found that cutting the “books” category from my budget made me sad. Education is an important value of mine. Reading books helps me live in accordance with that value.
Spending a little money on books gives me an out-sized boost of happiness. And, I can’t always get books that I want to read for free at the library.
(A recent library book that I enjoyed immensely!)
Frugalwoods hosts this challenge and offers a private Facebook group for accountability, and to share ideas. That’s fun, and creating a community helps a lot of people stay the course with a goal.
To launch an uber frugal month, it’s a good idea to start with why.
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”Friedrich Nietzsche
My why is: because I spent a ton on needed household projects and repairs last month. (Around $1,000 for a new toilet, new sink, and a plumber. These weren’t upgrade-type renovations, they were essential repairs of broken things.)
So, it’s time to cinch the belt. Those expenses won’t be repeated anytime soon, but there may be others coming!
The other “why” is because, after doing my June bookkeeping, I realize I overspent in a couple of categories that don’t align with my values.
Eating out, when it’s done for the purpose of connecting with others socially, is good spending for me. Eating out because I was exhausted after work and hadn’t planned for that eventuality, is not.
This means I need to have a plan for those exhausted evenings. Having a couple of ALDI frozen lasagnas on hand is far cheaper than eating out, and less trouble than even takeout.
An uber frugal month helps you identify leaks in your spending, so you can plug them.
Another “leak” I identified last month? Coffee shops. Ahhh what a gal does to get some energy! Ha!
I know why I’ve given into the siren song.
Speaking of sirens, a bit of trivia for you. The world-famous coffee company logo isn’t a mermaid, she’s a siren, as in the creature responsible for dashing sailors against the rocks with her irresistible music. Sounds about right.
The recent coffee shop overspending is happening because my Nespresso has been pulling nasty-tasting shots lately. My (disclosure: affiliate link) Nespresso maker was a smart purchase. It’s paid for itself many times over by keeping me out of coffee shops.
After some internet digging, I discovered that the build-up of hardened coffee oils and coffee residue in the brewing chamber, spout, nozzle and washer plate were causing the bitter, over-extracted espresso. No bueno.
Putting the personal in personal finance.
It’s important to know ourselves, and to be honest about what we will and won’t do to meet our financial goals.
I won’t stop craving crunchy, salty snacks a few times a month. (And I won’t be satisfied with celery sticks or carrots, spankyouverymuch.) Picking up a bag of peanut butter filled pretzels at ALDI is much cheaper than those tiny, overpriced bags that tempt me at work at the end of a long day.
Communicate your goal with people around you.
Whether sharing your goal aloud helps you meet the goal or not, depends on the goal and the individual of course. In this case, others are affected by my uber frugal month, so I decided to let them in on it.
Telling my kids today that I won’t be buying any clothes in July, means I can remind them of this when we’re buying toilet paper at Target, and they’re asking for $10 t-shirts.
Have you heard of Mint.com?
Mint.com is the #1 most downloaded personal finance app. For a long time I’ve been hand-writing my spending in a journal, but I sometimes forget purchases, which gives me an incomplete picture.
I decided to make the switch to digital. Mint is part of the Intuit family (QuickBooks, TurboTax, CreditKarma, and other well-known brands), so it’s very trustworthy. I’m using it to automatically tabulate and categorize my spending, saving me some time each week.
I’m currently re-writing this ebook, and when it’s done I’m raising the price. So, consider grabbing it now.
Have you done an uber frugal month? What did you learn? I’d love to hear about it!