Most of the time I am a fully grown money mature adult woman. When I decided to participate in No Spend January I had some very good reasons and a bit of an arrogant, "I've got this" attitude. It wasn't so much a budget diet as it was an experiment. Who knew focusing on money, made your entire life about MONEY!
Stage One – Acceptance……Money Is A Diva
My family and I live on a budget, it’s a nice friendly budget that smiles and waves at me each day, but we were more friendly co-workers than BFF’s you know? So when my husband and I decided to refinance our home, we had to take money out of one of our savings accounts to pay closing and it needed to be put back. So we agreed to a No Spend January. For us that included, eating what we already had in the freezers and pantry, paying nothing but bills and any necessity that come up. This should be easy….right?!? I mean, our car is paid for, we didn’t have a mortgage payment because we had just closed and I am a Conservazilla about energy and water efficiency. I would just ignore money for a month, pretend like it didn’t exist and go about my merry way. Uh, huh. Turns out Money is a Diva and doesn’t like to be ignored, as a matter of fact, the more I tried not to think about it, the more it popped up.
Stage Two – Anger…..Money Knows All Your Blindsides
So, I had a plan. A stupid, unprepared, gave it no thought whatsoever plan, but it was a plan. I was just going to ignore my money and fake being broke. I was going to avoid all situations where I might normally spend money unnecessarily and skip through the month like Julie Andrews on that stupid mountain. Day One, which was New Year’s Day by the way, was easy because I didn’t even leave the house! This might have puffed my ego just enough that it caught the attention of the Money Karma Goddess, cause Day Two really sucked! I go into my office and look at my schedule for the month, I have never in my life had so many situations scheduled where potential lunch disasters loomed. Then, there was the White Sales, After Christmas Junk Sales, Thrift Store Sales, and OMG I forgot my son’s Birthday! On top of that I forgot that I had closed my previous blog site preparing to open a new one beginning in January. I could feel my money laughing at me behind my back, it was a creepy feeling that made me angry. So, it was time to get creative. Lunches that could be packed and left in the car, being supportive of my friend’s awesome finds while avoiding thrift stores myself, and getting something for my son that he would remember…..a surprise game night, with lots of food!
Stage Three – Depression….Money Can Sing The Blues
As my month progressed, I was doing it, but not happily. I wasn’t able to ignore my money, it was tempting me from every direction. I had stopped spending cold turkey. It was the same feeling I get when my car breaks down. My intention might have been to spend the entire week at home in lock down rearranging my garage, but as soon as the car breaks down I have a 100 places it’s imperative that I go……right now! I was seriously bummed, surrounded by things and situations where I couldn’t spend any money, when before I would drop $10 here and $20 there without batting my baby blues. Then something occurred to me. I was focusing too hard on my money, I was turning this into a big thing, my own little docu-drama….. I was watching a pot waiting for it to boil and as you know there’s nothing more frustrating or a greater waste of time. I had made my whole world about NOT spending my money. I forgot that I controlled my money, it doesn’t control me. I needed a new plan.
Stage Four – Bargaining……Money Is Not The Only Thing With Value
I had a new lease on life! Turns out that while money can’t be ignored it also doesn’t have to be your prime focus. You can have fun without it hanging around; potluck dinners with friends, swaps, libraries, giving of yourself instead of a present. Shopping my own pantry and freezer became a game and I have some new recipes to add to my cookbooks. I got caught up on projects that have been in the garage for ages. I gained a new attitude about money and how I and where I spent it. Yes, my money is a Diva, but so am I and I have the upper hand as I am the bigger Diva of the two. I was winning and that always feels good! Yes, obstacles still popped up, but I didn’t immediately reach for my Debit Card….I was learning new habits.
Stage Five – Shock……Money Needs Pads!
I have never been so glad to see the first day of new month before! Yes, I went thrifting on February 1st! But a funny thing occurred, I was reluctant to buy anything. I looked at everything with a jaundiced eye, did I need it, would I really finish that project, where would I put it? I didn’t even go grocery shopping until around the 3rd or 4th as I still had food in the freezer. Would I do this again? I don’t know, maybe. But I can tell you that not only were we able to put what we would have spent on our mortgage back into one of our savings accounts, I was able to add $300 to that total, it could have been more, but I did spend money on my new blog page.
It was still a nice little pad between us and total financial disaster. My husband and I have always had 4 Savings Accounts; one for Auto, one for medical, one for home & garden and one for dreams. We keep enough in the auto to pay for the worst repair we could think of not covered by our warranty, a set of new tires, a year’s worth of insurance and oil changes and our tag. When we have to spend it on something, we replace the money monthly until we are back at our goal total again. We do the same with the other savings accounts, for instance our medical savings contains the same amount as our maximum family out-of-pocket and my husband’s yearly prescriptions. See, I told you I was mature about my money!
Those little shock pads are what allow me to buy that uber cool whatever at the Flea Market on Saturday and not worry about whether or not I am ruining my entire life. Plus my junking is set up to pay for itself. My No Spend January taught me that I was a little too free and casual with my money and I will have better focus from now on, but a junker must junk! I’m just gonna throw in a little more caution and a lot less Ca Sara Sara. On my happiness scale that is a balanced budget!
Have you ever lived through a No Spend Month? How did you do? What did you learn about yourself and your money? Leave me a comment and tell me about it!