Jul 15, 2012

No Spend Month - Halfway there!

I promised an update on my No Spend Month and here it comes.

So far I have been pretty surprised how well it's been going. There has been good days, bad days, and everything in between. At the same time I've realized that a week or two weeks or even a month is not really that much time. I have started dreaming bigger dreams.

What has made all the difference, is that I finally have some kind of a grasp as to where I am, financially. I know when my bills are due, how much money I can expect each month and how much I'll have to put aside for compulsory expenses only. And even for the rest, I have made some hatchling plans. Let's see how well I'll stick to those.

Besides just money, I have been inspired. I have been inspired to consider how I really want to spend my time at this point of my life, and what I can do about it so that my days are filled with things that I find joyful, inspiring, and empowering. Even though I still have a lot of steps to take, I have planned a some kind of a path for myself, and that has helped tremendously. So, in just a few weeks, days really,  I have been inspired to take grasp of my life. Finally, some could say.

Besides these very thoughtful feelings, I have also made some very practical things inspired by the No Spend Month. Things that are going to save me lots of money in the long run, and just finally making time for these things has been very motivating as well. The biggest things so far has been:

1. Budgeting. Needless to say, writing all my purchases down is a very eye-opening exercise. Even though I know this is far from my "usual month" (spending-wise), it has made me think how much I have been depending on shopping as a recreational habit. And how much money that habit has cost me over the years.

2. Meal-planning. All mothers with families to feed know this already, but planning my meals in advance has made a huge difference in my eating habits. I haven't planned something for each day (as is usual, I guess), but rather I have a list of meals I have all the ingredients ready in my fridge and pantry, so whenever I feel hungry I consult my list and decide what to cook next. And then I eat the left-overs (and not throw them away when they get forgotten and eventually turn bad) because I'm really a rather lazy cook. Now, whenever I feel hungry, I have no excuse for grabbing some ready-made stuff at the grocery store just because I'm hungry and feel like eating just something. Instead, I recognize the impulse for what it is - laziness.

3. Resisting My Sweet Tooth. Very much related to meal-planning, I made myself a promise: if I want something sweet and sugary, I have to make/bake it myself (instead of running to grasp some chocolate bars so I can eat them all in one go). So far I haven't quite succeeded every time, but for the most part my candy/chocolate etc. eating is down by about 70%. Once again, most of the time I'm just too lazy, to first plan what I want to bake, then baking it, and then still washing up all the dishes. On the other hand, it's been marvelous to try out all the wonderful recipes for the stuff I have had in my pantry and freezer for ages. I'll have to make a post about my successful (and not-so-successful) baking attempts at some point, so stay tuned.

4. Getting Rid of Useless Expenses. I finally got around to quitting my internet connection. Now that sounds pretty drastic, but the truth is, I have been paying this year for internet I didn't need! Since early this year, internet through cable has been included in the rent, so my paying for the other internet has been a total waste of money. Now that that's handled, it's 24 euros saved, every month. Inspired by that,  I also switched my electricity company to one that charges less. That's about 5-10 euros saved every month. These things put together, I'm going to have smaller and fewer bills to pay every month. Sweeeet.

5. Finding Out Where My Money Goes. This has been a huge thing, I tell you. Of course I had a pretty good idea, but seeing it written down has a way of making one consider if eating out that many times a month is that good an idea. That is not to say, that I don't want to eat out at all, but all in all, this whole project has made a lot more conscious about my spending.

Considering these things, and my previous musings, I'm pretty happy about where I am in my 100€ budget. So far I have used 55,75€, so it's a bit more than half of all the money, but still pretty good. I should be able to stay within the limits, but it will be a close thing. But that's okay, too!

Sorry for the super-long post (by my usual standards), but I hope it's been helpful! I'll keep you updated, and let you know about my feelings when the whole things is (finally) over.

Pientä päivitystä budjetti-tietoiseen kuukauteeni. Suurin muutos on tapahtunut päässä, asiat ja ideat ja tunnelmat on myllänneet ympäriinsä, ja uskoisin kokeilulla olevan yllättävän pitkäkantoisia seurauksia. Käytännön puolellakin olen saanut konkreettisia asioita aikaiseksi, ihana vaan tietoisemmalla shoppailulla ja ruoanlaitolla ja ennen kaikkea turhien menojen karsimisella. Jo sen ymmärtäminen, mihin kaikki raha katoaa kuukauden aikana on ollut kiinnostavaa sinänsä. Kokeilu jatkuu, siitä myöhemmin vielä lisää. 

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