Aug 1, 2012

Where did all that time and money go? - No Spend Month

Read all my posts on No Spend Month here.

So, yesterday was the last day of July, so the last day of No Spend Month too! I'd like to say I grew up as a person and now I'm ready to move into the forest to live on mushrooms and berries, but nope, that's not the case. In fact, I think I thought about consuming and consumerism more than ever during this month! I also learned a few lessons, which are pretty obvious to anyone, but I hope I'll keep them in mind in my everyday from now on and actually see something change in the way I spend money in the future.

The things that for me really made all the difference:

1. Budgeting

Well, duh. This is the basis of all things money, and it's so basic that you'd think everyone does this every month. Nooot so. Well, of course I haven't purposefully tried to live beyond my means, but I've always had this (mostly hazy) idea of how much money I have, and then gone from there. It didn't usually go so well. :P

During July, I had a very specific amount of money, which limited my impulse buying a lot. I still bought candy, went out to eat, enjoyed an ice cream every now and then, but I didn't buy something I didn't really need. (And yes, a candy bar can be indeed be a NEED). I didn't buy books, yarn, clothes or basically anything I didn't have a very specific reason and need for. I know I can't stay in my "not-buying-anything"-mode for ever (in fact, I might splurge on an iTunes gift card for myself this very afternoon as a thanks for a job pretty well done), but I am going to budget for those expenses.

We'll see how this things goes. I just made a budget for this month, and while it's not quite as strict as July's, it's still pretty tight. Dirt-poor university student, you know.

2. Meal-planning

I know I said this before, but it's huuuge! I didn't really appreciate it before (and I'm still not very good at it), but it's so freeing to have dinner options, to know what you have in your fridge/freezer/pantry, to know what you need to buy. No stress!

The down-side of  meal planning was, for me, that I really get bored of my cooking preeettty fast. Even in July, i just had to eat out because I was too hungry and tired and moody to cook. Cooking takes time, initiative and creativeness that I just don't have every day. What helps, though, is to have enough space (or "grace" as most blogs seem to call it) for the occasional eating-out, as long as it stays occasional. Easier said than done, but I know this helped for me. "Meal-pooling" (like car-pooling?), I mean getting together with friends and cooking a huge batch of something and sharing it is great too. Especially if you're easily bored by your own cooking, like certain people here.

3. Attitude

This is not so easily explained, but I think it belongs here anyway. One of the reasons why I started No Spend Month in the first place was that I was tired of not knowing where I stand, financially. But as the month progressed, I kind of realized that I had no idea where I stood, not only money-wise but also emotionally and spiritually. I hope you don't take this as some kind of an I've-found-God-coming-out-of-the-proverbial-closet thing, because FYI, I'm still agnostic. It's rather that I've had time and space to ponder on the meanings different things have for me.

One of these "realizations" is that I really don't care for money that much. Yes, I wish I had more of it, I wish I could spend more freely without thought to what my bank account says, but at the moment that's just not realistic at all. With that I also realized that I want to spend my days doing things I enjoy, and if I make money out of them, that's a plus. Of course I hope to be creative and energetic and amazingly brilliant at everything I do, and that all that effort will make me rich one day, but honestly? I just want to live my life in a way that makes me happy. This may sound trite and superficial (because there are just about million blogs out there claiming these very things and sometimes it feels like I read them all), but I've had enough of being sad and depressed and miserable and ashamed to last me a life time. I'm ready to move forward to finding what really inspires and uplifts me to do amazing, wonderful, awe-inspiring things. Wouldn't you want that in your life too?

Oh, and the No Spend Month?  The final sum was 102,05€, so a bit over the budget. To my defense the extra was mainly from the bottle deposits and such, so I really didn't have to use any extra money to cover that over-spending. Let's just say that very tight budgeting and extreme exam stress don't go well together. A girl just had to have some chocolate, and chocolate is expensive.

Älä Osta Mitään (Turhaa) -kuukausi on (vihdoin!) ohi, ja vähän mentiin miinukselle. Pankkitili näyttää silti plussaa, mikä on hämmentävää sinänsä. Kuun aikana tuli mietittyä paljon omia kulutustottumuksia ja -asenteita, ja toivottavasti myös muutettua niitä parempaan suuntaan. Budjetin vääntäminen ja seuraaminen on ollut yllättävän hauskaa ja samalla haastavaa. Omiin ruokiin kyllästyin muutamassa viikossa, opinpahan senkin, että budjettiin pitää jättää jonkin verran ilmaa mm. ulkona syömiselle. Tässä elämänvaiheessa se tuntuu elintärkeältä harrastukselta. Kaikista suurin muutos on kuitenkin tapahtunut ajatusmalleissa ja -asenteissa. Vaikka ÄOM(T) -kuukausi on varsinaisesti vain rahaan liittyvä, on se kannustanut miettimään elämäntapoja ja -arvoja laajemminkin. Toivottavasti kuun opit kantavat pitkälle tulevaisuuteen. 

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