Monthly Money Report
July 5, 2017
How I tried and failed in June to spend only $1000 cash

My goal this year is to reduce my spending but I was having a hard time figuring out exactly how to do it. I track my spending as best I can, which is why I know I spent an average of  $3350 a month in 2016— far too high for my income.

My fixed expenses of rent, internet and Netflix add up to about $1150 a month, so what on earth was I spending $2200 a month on?

I mean obviously, groceries, eating out, transportation, alcohol, community events, grooming, toiletries, clothes and makeup, but how was I spending over TWO THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS on that shit?

I wanted to cut back.

But didn’t want to create a fixed budget, because I would never stick to it, so instead I decided to set a hard limit.

I figured, entirely arbitrarily,  it was reasonable for a single-lady with no dependants to have $1000 of disposable expenditures.

I would take out that amount in cash at the beginning of the month and I would spend it until it ran out. When it ran out, it would run out and I would starve (or go to my parents for dinner).

By not using my credit or debit card, it would be impossible for me to go over my spending.

Yes, I wouldn’t receive any reward points, but the true reward would be saving money and becoming more aware of my spending.

So at the beginning of June, I started my $1000 cash budget experiment.

Here’s what happened:

June Cash budget infographic


As you can see, this was a total fail. I spent $460 OVER my cash budget. Basically what happened is that I ran out of money the third week and took some more cash out. I guess a “hard” limit when you still have cash in the bank is actually still  “soft” limit.

I wasn’t able to actually eat nothing or stay at home or walk around with ugly toes or any of the things you’re supposed to do when you’re broke. So weak!

But I still managed to cut my average spending by $740, so it was worth it. I’m not quite willing to increase my spending limit in July because I feel there are obvious areas I can still cut back on and I want to try harder. 

This experiment forced me to be hyper-aware of my finances. Actually handing over cash did feel different, and I totally get why experts recommend we use it exclusively. Just seeing that dwindling pile hurts.

I did a post-mortem with myself to see what I could have cut back on to reach my goal.


•Scented Candle $40

I went to Indigo to buy a birthday gift for my brother’s girlfriend. BIG MISTAKE. Indigo is like crack for me. Honestly the best frugal tip ever is just DON’T WALK INSIDE.  Heather Reisman is an amazing businesswoman, she speaks to my soul about what sort of useless shit I desire. While browsing, I smelt this amazing vanilla and tobacco candle. It’s so hard to find a non-sweet non-fruit spicy scent like this and I simply had to have it. Did I really need that candle? No I fucking didn’t we’re not in the 19th century I have lamps and electricity and even perfume I can spray around if I wanted a nice scent.

•Rustproofing and oil change $170

I had to get an oil change  and the guy convinced me I needed to rustproof my car.  He said Toronto has a lot of potholes and things would start falling off. Is this true? No clue, but I’m a big fan of maintaining my stuff instead of letting it  deteriorate and then throwing it out, (I still wear boots I bought in 2010) but it was just too pricey for me.  Having a car is a money pit.

•Blood Test 55.50

I asked my doctor for a specific, but completely unnecessary,  blood test and she failed to tell me it wasn’t covered by OHIP. I wouldn’t have ordered it if I had known.

•Groceries $35

I am extremely health conscious so my grocery bill is pretty pricey. $166 is probably the lowest I’ve ever spent on groceries,  and I suspect that most of my unaccounted for cash went to this category, making the true figure far higher. (I got really lazy with writing down my purchases this month).  I eat an avocado every day and they are like, $2 each so I feel there are tons of easy ways for me to cut-back without being unhealthy.

Grooming $100

I really don’t want to cut back on this category because the only thing worst than being broke is being broke and ugly. But being frugal and planning for a secure financial future requires sacrifice. I’ve already cut out my nails, but I guess I could do my pedicures at home or something? Maybe not in the summer. I have to think about this.

Yoga $60

Someone who is living on $1000 a month really can’t afford to do yoga. UGH. I have such an upper-middle-class mentality with none of the funds! I got an introductory membership this month but next month it goes up to $120 — definitely unaffordable. I guess I can walk outside and do some YouTube Pilates workouts at home?



What are your thoughts on my budget? Any ideas where I can’t cut back?

I want to improve my financial literacy without hating my life

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13 Comments 0

There are 13 comments

  • Jeff says:

    Either lower your credit card limit to $1000 OR get a 2nd credit card just with a $1000 limit. Get the benefits of your credit card with almost no chance of going over (some credit cards give you some buffer, but they may also charge an overlimit fee). Surprised you got hit up for rustproofing in June. They usually don’t do that upsell till the fall/winter when there’s snow on the ground.

  • Maybe you should just chuck the extra money – say leave yourself a $200 buffer in your account – into a thing that you can’t get it out of e.g. Your 401k. When I had to live on £300-400 of disposable income I did. Now, I struggle to keep my disposable spending at that amount because I have far more money hanging around. Next month, I’m planning to send that monet to my pension to force myself to spend less.

    • Well luckily I already have my savings accounted for, the $1000 is just for my spending after fixed-income and savings. 300-400! How did you do that?! I have noticed groceries are quite a bit cheaper in England?

  • Give yourself credit for still coming in way below $2200! And I feel you. For me it’s the beer. We live around the corner from an awesome brewery, and it’s so easy to tell friends “Hey, let’s just meet at the brew pub for an hour!” It adds up fast.
    I am waging a personal war against yoga, so I can’t relate there. But a friend and I do each other’s toes every once in awhile, and it looks pretty damn good IF I DO SAY SO MYSELF.

    • Yesss I am definitely still happy about my progress! It’s probably because I stayed out of the mall and sephora all month. I don’t want to live my life without good beer, but I think, especially in summer, it’s important to live a little. I just try to make those occasions worth it! Ugh as for the toes thing….I’m going to try, but no promises! Also I feel a priority in summer. Winter’s a whole different story 🙂

  • Lost in space says:

    Try YNAB most awesome budgeting program

  • luth34 says:

    Thanks for sharing this and being transparent. I love the honesty packed in this along with lowering your spending overall!

    ‘..the only thing worst than being broke is being broke and ugly’

    So true, this is why I must not be broke, because you can only fix so much….ha!

    Groceries are definitely a killer in our budget, eating healthy and having a fledgling competitive eater (18 month old) with ‘organic taste’. We have cut it back but damnit we are still going to buy avocados, and go to all the new local breweries as well. We still want to maintain a resemblance of a social life outside of our home!

  • Ciara says:

    Hey Danielle! I feel you on the candle – but $40(!) If I like a candle at Indigo, I try to get the smallest size because they are usually under $20. Its a massive chain, so if they have smaller sizes in that brand but not that scent, I’d go to a different location to see if they have it. To get your yoga in, is there a Lululemon or community group near you running a regular free class? Do you have yoga friends who would exercise with you in a local park? For the pedicures, I’d cut every second pedicure you’d normally do and DIY in between. I usually only get 1 each summer.

    I don’t really budget, but after putting aside money for my fixed expenses, savings and planned spending, I put aside an amount for groceries, then divide the rest of the money by the period I have to spend it. You may want to put more of that money aside for your regular transportation expenses. $1000 – 202 for groceries and toiletries is 798. Divide that by 31 and you have $25.74 a day for spending. If you also put aside your car and transportation expenses, especially if its regular, you have 502 for the month, which is $16.19 a day. I know then that if I spend a lot on one day, I can either not spend for however many days to make up that amount, or I can adjust how much money I have for the remaining days. It makes me significantly pickier in how I chose to spend my money. When I know that I have a fun but pricier event coming up, I try to not spend anything for the days leading up to it. Its not a perfect system, but it has worked for me.

    Good luck with July!

    • Yes! Good plan with Indigo candles. I’ve bought their name brand before but this time I bougt the Voluspa one..major fail! It didn’t even give off good throw.

      I’ve considered doing the Lululemon free classes…and with pedicures I actually bit the bullet and did it myself this month. Not the same but good enough!

      Thanks Ciara!

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