Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Month One: Success!

We did it! Our first month on the spending diet and I can proudly say it was a success. Woooohoooo! Go us.

I think a big part of why we did so well on the spending diet is because of our tax refund. We got a lot of money back and were able to pay off all our credit card debt with our refund. Such a great feeling!

Beyond paying off our consumer debt, we were also able to put a little something something into savings for our Germany trip (see more about that here).

Here's a few things I learned over the past month:

1. Not spending isn't as hard as I thought. It actually felt good. Probably better, I would say, than spending a lot. Maybe I'm not the shopping addict that I thought I was, or maybe I'm more of a saver and just never knew it, but working towards saving, towards a long term goal, is very satisfying.

2. There are cheap things to do for fun. Being on the spending diet forced us to be creative. It made us both get out of our comfort zone and come up with new ideas for fun. We went on a lot of walks with the pup, we found a cheap movie theater that shows not-quite-rentals for only $3 (find it here), we started a puzzle, we played some scrabble and cribbage, we scored free tickets to a golf tournament, we hung out with some new friends, we went on hikes, and we caught up on some reading.

3. I don't need it. I think a lot of the things I used to buy I bought just to spend money. I would go to Target to "take a look" and then end up picking up more than a few things I didn't really need. Just because. It was nice, but not good for the 'ol pocketbook. Now I definitely think twice before I spend money.

4. Cash is king. At the beginning of the month, we each took out $100 in cash as our "allowance." Just by using cash instead of my debit/credit card, I automatically spent differently. Having that cold hard green paper in my hands made me want to save it instead of spend it - I worked hard for the money! I didn't want to squander it here and there, I wanted to make sure I spent it on meaningful things. Being able to see the cash "disappear" when I spend it brings spending back down to a reality for me, versus just swiping my card and not thinking about the consequences.

Meanwhile, the husband and I had a little side bet going (gotta keep it spicy!). Who would have the most money left out of their allowance at the end of the month? I bet it's not who you think it is... I was actually surprised, but I had a whopping $8 and the hubs only had $1. Booyah! I win! (I'm not competitive at all).

Overall, the spending diet was a really good experience for us and helped us buckle down and save. We decided to continue the spending diet for March, and probably after that as well. Here's to another month of saving!

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