Three Things Thursday – Spending Diet Month 1

1. After a month on my spending diet, I caved. Definitely not as badly as I used to spend but spend I did. Matt even said he saw it coming a few days before it happened. What gave it away? It couldn’t possibly be posts like this, could it? Of course not.

It happened pretty innocently. If you recall, I had $30 left as of Friday. After shoe shopping on Saturday, I couldn’t possibly head back indoors and not appreciate the beautiful weather we were having. That would just be plain stupid. So Megan met me for a little innocent window shopping. A cute pair of dress pants on clearance at the Gap was the amount of my gift card. Then I remembered all the sale signs at H&M and figured, “it’s a beautiful day out, we might as well walk on over there, right?” I bought a shirt dress without even trying it on (because I really should try it on with all the matching accessories I have at home…or some excuse like that). It’s really ugly on. Like really, really ugly. It’s still sitting in it’s bag on my floor to be returned.

After all of our walking around, we worked up an appetite and Megan happened to leave our cake pan at the local bar from my fundraising event so we stopped in for some lunch, naturally. Despite befriending the bartender/waiter who brought us complimentary drinks and chips & guac, we still ended up spending $15. Not the best decision but it wasn’t that bad for dining out.

I babysat Saturday night so I was safe from my evil spending demon, temporarily. Sunday rolled around and I forgot about brunch plans. It would be rude of my to cancel so off I went to brunch after a 4 mile run. I was so proud of myself for getting up early to run that I took advantage of the $15 unlimited mimosa deal and seriously enjoyed some delicious French Toast. $32 later, I was full and not thinking clearly. Megan and I wandered over to Express and did more damage to my spending diet. Damn Express and their super effective marketing strategies! I unsubscribed to their e-mails, I stopped going on their website and into their stores and I cut up their credit card. And then a pesky $15 off coupon comes floating in the mail and well of course it would be a shame to just throw it away and it’s so easy for them to look up your account information. $60 later, Express temporarily won my battle. Not proud but at least I’m honest.

To make matters worse, I still had to get groceries for the week, which required roughly $23. Womp womp. It sounds worse than it is because I had enough extra babysitting money to cover this stupid spending spree so it’s not like I’m unable to pay rent this month because of it. But I do sometimes panic that I won’t be able to.  I haven’t spent anything this week, thank goodness. Payday tomorrow really just can’t come soon enough so I can start fresh.

2. The spending diet is getting adjusted to avoid binge shopping, just as any dieter would do. I know that $100 is possible to live on without being a hermit but I need a little more cushion so I feel comfortable and not deprived. After a month of feeling deprived I clearly freak out a bit and pretend I can roll with the best of them. So now I get $150 to spend each month to cover everything. So basically I get $100 but it doesn’t include food. I feel better about this because if I want to visit my aunt and uncle one weekend, I don’t have to spend 1/5 of my entire spending money for the next 2 weeks. If I want to spend $50 out with friends one weekend, I can without it completely jeopardizing the next 2 weeks.

But the $150 is a hard number set in stone. The minute that money is gone, it doesn’t matter what my urges are or how much food I have left in my cabinets, it’s gone. My savings will be more secure if I make this adjustment and ultimately that is the most important aspect of this spending diet.

Now, if I come to you in another month and try to say “oh, it got adjusted again and now it’s $200 a paycheck”, slap my across the face. Then it’s no spending diet at all. No changes will have been made and my efforts will have gone to waste.

I feel really confident about $150. It’s enough where I certainly still have to be smart about every dollar but it allows me to save for bigger purchases if I want/need to, it allows me to afford a few more groceries each week (I’m actually sick of carbs!), and I still have the choice to save it if I want to.

3. All that extra babysitting money I earned to boost my savings back up? Yeah, that didn’t happen. I babysat but the money covered my spending spree. Overall, I have saved roughly $80.

However, I found my babysitting mojo because just today 3 different families asked me for future jobs. This week started my regular bi-weekly babysitting job that brings in enough to pay my loans each month. Additionally, I will babysit most Thursdays and Saturdays so there will definitely be money at the end of each month to add to savings.

It’s not always easy going from my full-time job to hanging with kiddos, especially with 1/2 marathon training and an online class but hey, it pays the bills and it’s usually a pretty great job. I’m really thankful to have found good families to work for and that keep asking me back.

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6 Responses to Three Things Thursday – Spending Diet Month 1

  1. Good luck with your spending diet! I'm the same way with any kind of food diet- as soon as I know there is a limit I panic and go over (which may explain why I don't diet). There are tons of free stuff to do in NYC. I wish I explored more- but I will be back and then will do all the free yoga classes in the park, movie screenings, walks, tastings etc! 🙂

  2. Amanda says:

    We all slide back in our goals on occasion. You're right. At least you're honest (and hey you get a little $ back when you take back the ill fitting shirt). If you haven't already, if they do coupons in the Sunday paper up there, invest in it. Back home it was around .75 a week if you only wanted the Sunday paper and if you only use one dollar coupon you have paid for the paper and thensome. Cut out all the coupons you think you'll need and then match them to what is on sale. You don't have to only buy things on sale and/or that you have a coupon for but it will save money if you shoot for that. My husband looked at me funny when I bought a different toothpaste just because we saved a dollar but when my dad sent a bunch of expired coupons from home (we can use them up to 6 mos past their expiration in the commisary here) we took a handful to the store and saved $20 off a $90 bill so now he's excited about them too lol. It takes a little time but it's worth it when you start saving the money.Also don't forget to look at price comparisons. Everything will have the price and then what the price is per unit (ounces, sheets, etc). If you use it a lot, get the one with the lowest amount on that even if the price is higher because if you buy two of the 'cheaper' ones you'll spend more $. That's another trick I have been showing my husband because he was buying 1 liters because they're cheaper (and stay fresher) but 2 separate one liters is $2 whereas on 2l bottle is about fifty cents less so if you're drinking it within a couple days it's worth getting the 2l.

  3. Molly says:

    It sounds like this is just as if you were on a weight-loss diet and gobbled a gallon of ice cream – you just have to get back on the wagon. Good luck!

  4. Katie says:

    I refuse to diet too, but financially it's necessary. You're right, there are a lot of free things to do here, it's just not always what I want to do. When are you coming back to the city?

  5. Katie says:

    Good ideas, thanks!

  6. Katie says:

    Thanks Molly! That's exactly what it feels like and I compare the two a lot. People adjust their diets to work for them and that's exactly what I'm experimenting with now.

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