We’re now about two weeks into our mindful spending experiment. How have we been doing?
I’m gonna be honest – I’ve gotten the “buy-it-now” itch a couple of times. I’m very glad we don’t have Amazon Prime Now in our area! Instead of letting that rush of instant gratification ruin our experiment, I’ve simply taken a deep breath, told myself “NO,” and added the item to a Google doc titled “Things I might want to buy in the future.” And then? I go do something else. ANYTHING else. I’ve only got a couple of months left until Eliot arrives, so I’ve been diverting my I’d-rather-be-shopping energy to sorting through Ben’s old clothes, scouring Pinterest for make-ahead meal ideas, and counting kicks (there are a lot of kicks!).
Part of the struggle I face is the convenience of Amazon deliveries. We have Prime, and that two-day shipping is soooo tempting. For other stores, it’s the sales! I have to remind myself that if something is on sale now, it will be on sale again in the future, and by then I might not even want the thing anymore. Another way I’ve been coping has been to put the item I want on my wishlist for birthday and Christmas gifts. Most of the time, I’ll add something to that list and then completely forget about it until closer to the holidays, then when I go to curate it for family, I remove half of the things I’ve added because I no longer want them.
I took my mom’s advice to completely remove my credit card information from Amazon, so it’s even more difficult to make a purchase. I’m lazy and don’t want to get my wallet out of my purse…so far it’s worked! I haven’t made any purchases from Amazon, nor have I stepped foot in Target. I’ve tinkered with our baby registry (available here, if you’re interested), but haven’t purchased anything yet. We still have several weeks to go and have a lot of stuff left over from Ben, so even if we don’t get the one or two big items we’d like, we’ll be fine.
Mint has been a big help in keeping track of our spending, budgets, bills, and investments. I’ve been tagging each transaction as either Peter, Alyssa, or Household, so I can see just what we’re spending. It has a comparison feature too, so I can see how we’re doing compared to the same period last month – so far, we’ve spent $692.60 less than we did last month, so it’s an improvement! There were a couple of unnecessary purchases that slipped through: I didn’t cancel my Grammarly subscription from when I was taking courses at FSCJ, so it renewed without alerting me ($59, ouch. It was pretty handy for writing lab reports, so if you’re a college student it can be a useful tool). I also purchased a gift for Peter for Father’s Day, $34. I hope he likes it! I also had an installment payment on a different gift, a haircut and new hairbrush for Isaac, and a small deposit into an investment account I opened. Total transactions = 5!
Our individual spending thus far (compared to the same period in May) is as follows:
Alyssa – $130.09 compared to $178.09, a decrease of $48
Peter – $189.21 compared to $105.90, an increase of $83.31
As you can see, our individual spending is mostly a wash, so the biggest reduction has been in our household spending habits. Last month we spent a lot to redo the laundry room, so that’s where most of the money went.
Since starting this challenge, I’ve made it a habit to log in every morning to see where we stand. It’s a good reminder for me to stick to the plan because I really like seeing a larger balance in our bank account, and I enjoy prolonging my “streak” of not buying so much. I’ve also picked up a couple of books from the library about reducing living expenses and living frugally, and they’ve been good reads. I’m trying to reduce our grocery bill by cooking more of what we already have and planning more frugal meals. Pinterest helps a lot with frugal meal planning and budgeting tips, as does the r/frugal subreddit.
I think what has helped me the most is working on my mindset. Being frugal or spending consciously does not mean that you’re depriving yourself of fun or excitement. I guarantee there is always fun and free things to do around your city! Instead, it means that you value your long term goals and meaningful purchases more than frivolous or emotional spending. For me and Peter, we want to build a house that fits our specific needs and wants, and not just a house that “will work for now.” Getting to that point requires some sacrifice, and we’ll do whatever it takes to get there. If that means we don’t go out to eat every weekend or buy the newest cool gadget, then we’ll achieve our goal sooner.
It’s also important to take stock of what you already have, and appreciate it. It’s taken me a long time to realize that “stuff does not equal happiness.” In reality, having a lot of stuff just stresses me out! I have to clean it, have to figure out where to store it, have to decide if I want to keep it when we eventually move…I don’t want to deal with that. What really makes me happy is spending time with my family and making memories with them, good food, and traveling. If I can cut spending elsewhere to make sure I can afford to eat at really nice restaurants and traveling with my family, then I’m going to work hard to make it happen. And I will make it happen!
Check out the intro post to our spending experiment here!