May was our "Month of No Spending." What that meant for us was that we would not spend anything on extras like clothes, entertainment, lunches out, et cetera. We allowed ourselves to go out with friends and a couple of weekend excursions, but generally spent much less on going out than usual. We didn't make any cutbacks in groceries, however, as the purpose of this month was to curb spending on non-essentials. Ya gotta eat, right?
The result? We saved stayed about 10% below our monthly budget. And you know what? It wasn't hard at all. There were no real sacrifices made–all this month of no spending really required was that I think about my purchases rather than just buy impulsively. The iTunes add up. The apps bought for my iPhone, they add up too. And the books, my God, the books. I spend so much money on them every month and yet I have a book case full of "to-be-reads." Same goes for clothes.
I have declared June another no-spend month, but with a little more freedom (it is my birthday month, after all). I might allow myself a manicure and a pedicure, but then again, maybe not. It helps that I'll have surgery next week and I'm sure I'm not going to be up and about as much as usual.
Deciding not to spend means you think more about what you buy. It forces you to think about the ways you waste money and how cluttered life becomes when you make purchases you don't really need. It's a lesson I need to remind myself of constantly, because I'm an instant gratification type girl and nothing instantly gratifies like an impulse purchase. But I've got a closet full of those impulses, and really, they're not that satisfying.
And then there's the financial aspect of it–keeping your finances healthy is important, and in fact, crucial to quality of life. I lived paycheck-to-paycheck in my twenties and believe me, it's not fun and I have nothing to show for it. It's not about having things, it's about feeling secure, knowing you have a safety net. I'm still trying to learn that lesson, and thankfully, I have a kind-but-firm husband around to remind me of it occasionally.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready to save another 10%.