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:
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.
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.
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.
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?