As I mentioned in my post about preparing for the New Year, I’ve taken a look at my budget and spending habits for 2017.
And holy cow I suck.
Okay, so it’s not that bad. I don’t regret my 7 trips around the good ‘ol U.S. I don’t even regret the one to Canada (I tease, I tease). I don’t regret the car, or the books, or the clothes, but boy-oh-boy did I spend a lot of money on eating out. Like. A lot. Like. Um. Thousands of dollars.
Here’s the thing, I struggle with committing to a purchase.. unless it’s food. Then I’m like – who needs money? “Gimme them P.F. Chang’s Gluten-Free Hokkein Street Noodles, no Meat please. Oh, I’ll take the Edamame appetizer, too.”
And every time I attempted a budget after becoming debt-free..
Well, let’s just say: I didn’t follow through.
So it’s time to get my act together again. After a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided to attempt a 5-part challenge for 2018. Lemme break it down:
- 30-Day Spending Freeze
- Live on $1,500 each month for day-to-day expenses
- Use the cash envelope system
- Get one paycheck ahead
- Only purchase 20 items or less that cannot be used up, and only if I’m willing to give up an item I already own to create space for the new one
It’s pretty simple, eh? Okay, if you’re anything like my mom, you’re probably like “wuuuuh???” about #2 and #5. Don’t worry, I’m about to freefall into detail.
30 Day Spending Freeze
A spending freeze, if you’re not familiar with the concept, is when someone stops spending on anything that is not a life necessity for a specific amount of time. For me, that time will run from January 2nd through January 31st.
I’m doing this for three reasons. One, I need to get past the “I just got rid of everything, so I get to buy stuff” stage of decluttering without doing any damage to my minimalist reputation. I want to break the habit of buying. Two, I want to break the habit of eating out and (hopefully) jump-start my weight loss goal (more on that later). Three, I want to use all remaining funds to build a cushion for my goal to get one paycheck ahead on bills.
The rules for the spending freeze are pretty simple: no spending money that doesn’t have to be spent. Therefore, dining out (groceries are needs, Chipotle bowls are not) and shopping (toilet paper is a need, new sheets are not) aren’t going to be an option.
$1,500 Per Month, Cash Envelopes, and Getting Ahead
I’m mainly doing the $1,500 challenge out of curiosity. In my ideal future, I’ll be self-employed part-time and doing whatever I want with the rest of my time. If I want this to be a thing, I have to learn how much I can cut my cost of living. I always thought that $1,500 a month would be a plenteous budget and easily feasible as a minimalist. It’s time to challenge that theory.
I do expect spontaneous adventures (a day at the museum, a celebratory feast with my friends, etc.) to come up that I wasn’t able to plan for in my budget. But the $1,500 does give me about $100 of wiggle room for those events, so long as there aren’t multiple uh-oh-this-wasn’t-expected events each month.
With the rest of the money, I’ll be building my savings account, taking a couple of trips, and paying down my car.
Wait.. paying down the car?
WHAT?! RACHEL HAS DEBT?!
Yes. Yes she does.
After becoming debt free back in May of this year, I decided I deserved a new-to-me car. Lucy (my ’98 Honda Accord) had seen far better days and was beginning to struggle with day-to-day life. Enter Veronica (Ronnie), my smokin’ hot mama of a black 2014 Toyota Rav4.
I mean, yeah, my decision was not Dave Ramsey approved by any stretch of the imagination. I did it anyway. I expect to have it paid off in 2 years, and it’ll boost my credit score (which will come in handy when I’m ready to move into a new apartment in 2018 or 2019), and it has already allowed me to avoid having to rent a car on multiple trips. Lucy, babe that she was, was definitely not fit/safe for roadtripping.
Anyway, I’m like way lazy when it comes to tracking my spending (hence I can’t stick to a budget), so I’m hoping the cash envelope system (Dave Ramsey approved) will do that for me. When the money’s gone, it’s gone. I dunno. We’ll see how it goes.
The final way I plan to force myself to stick to the challenge is by getting one paycheck ahead. Once I’ve done that, I can automatically put all the money wherever it goes at the start of each month. That means I look at my bank account once a month, and then forget about everything but the cash envelopes after that. This may or may not be a good idea… I’ll, uh, let ya know.
20 Items or Less
I’m getting rid of a lot of crap. LIKE A LOT. If you could see the pile in my hallway and the pile at the bottom of my closet, you’d likely be horrified. DON’T WORRY. I haven’t tossed/donated it all yet; I haven’t forgotten my resolution to wait until January 1st. But gosh my apartment is feeling swell. And I’m loving that feeling.
So I don’t want to reclutter it after I declutter it – ya feel?
PLUS, fewer purchases equals less spending.
And I’m a freak who likes to make unrealistic goals. If I don’t achieve them, who cares. If I do – whoa. I’m a friggin’ rockstar.
Anyway.. That pretty much sums up my minimalist money goals for 2018. How ’bout you? I’d love to chat money with you in the comments below. 🙂