No Spend – January Wrap Up

With January coming to an end, I figured it was time to update y’all on how my not spending went.

Spoiler: okay. Ish.

See ya later debt

Since my intention was to not spend money on unnecessary things and to cut back my grocery budget (I’m doing okay grocery-wise…..), I’ve been keeping track of my non-necessary spending to report back at the end of the month to keep my accountable in my challenge.

You’ve probably seen quite a few of these items in my Treat Yourself Tuesday posts, but I wanted to share them here as well.

Just this past week I figured out how to read books for free so no more buying books for me. Wahoo!

January 3

(Ha! the day I wrote the original post!)

I purchased two books that were on-sale from Kobo for 70% off.

witches of east end

Witches of East End for $2.99. Sometimes I like to fill my brain with fluff, this seemed like a good book to do just that. I’d read most of the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz, and I’m pretty sure this was just made into a TV show, so I figured it was worth a shot.

the art of racing in the rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain for $4.99. Again, another book I’d heard great things about and that’s been on my list for a while. Again, at 70% off I figured these two books would likely keep me going through the end of January (and I’d better have a library card by then!)

January 4

mason tea

Mason jar travel tea mug from David’s Tea because how could I not?! Seriously. How amazing is it?! And, it’s huge, it holds nearly 750mL (that’s 25oz) it’ll be perfect for coffee and tea on the couch or for weekends. I’m in lurve.

January 6

photo (97)

photo (95)

These are from my Treat Yourself Tuesday post earlier this month, and yes, I did spend money on them. Three carafes and five wine selves to be exact. No, it wasn’t in the budget, but I’m so happy with how much better organized my closet is, I’d say it was worth it!

photo (100)

January 10

wild

I’ve heard interesting reviews of this book, and I do like the Eat, Pray, Love kind of books, which I think this is similar to, so when it was 45% off through Kobo, I figured I’d buy it and add it to my reading list 🙂

January 14

Frozen-UK-Soundtrack-Cover-disney-frozen-36003845-1280-1280

I just loved this movie so much and I loved the songs, I had to buy the soundtrack. I know, I know, 30 going on 8. I’m okay with it 🙂

January 16

w-pink_product

New shoes 🙂

96327_viktor__rolf_flowerbomb

The best perfume EVAH!

January 25

cgr-4nc_xlg

A griddler!

Wishlist

I also thought it would be a neat idea to track items I come across and would like to buy between now and mid-May. While I obviously won’t be able to buy all of them, I think it’ll be interesting to see if in 4 months it’s still something I would like.

spiralizer

I’ve been thinking about a spiralizer for a while, and at $31.99 is definitely something I can afford, but now it’s certainly more of a want than a need, so on the list it goes!

kai-6.5-noodle-soup-bowl

These Kai Noodle Soup Bowls from Crate and Barrel are adorable and not overly expensive, but again, they’re more of a want than a need, so again, on the list they go! Maybe I need to start eating Asian food every day for dinner, then they’d be a “need”, right?! 🙂

OWLS

How cute are these?! They’re from West Elm and oh my gosh I love them. If anyone would like to purchase a few for me (say, the teal and silver) and ship ’em my way, that would be super 😛

product_01

Nikon D610 (this is the replacement of the Nikon D600). I’ve been considering a DSLR camera for a while. I’m a pretty decent photographer, but have been relying on my iPhone for, oh 99% of the pictures on my blog and I’d like to start showing some better images, and I really do enjoy taking pictures. This (and the requisite lenses) is something that’s going to have to wait until the summer. Ideally, I’d like to purchase this before going to SeaWheeze in August, as Vancouver is always gorgeous and I went to Van Dusen Gardens last year, took a bunch of pictures, and then lost them all. I’d love to go back and retake some of the images.

cell-phone-lenses-2738.0000001385428632

While I’m waiting to save money for the fancy camera above, I’m seriously considering picking up these cell phone lenses from Photojojo. At $99 (plus only $10 in shipping) they really aren’t that expensive, and it would be really neat to add some pop to my photos, since, oh 99.9% of all images on here are taken with my iPhone.

Mindset

Since declaring this, my mindset around money has changed quite a bit. I’ll see something, say nail polish, that I’d normally buy, now I look at it and think “eh, I don’t really need it” and carry on with my day. I don’t feel like I’m missing out, or like I’m not “letting” myself buy it, I’m just making a choice not to.

This upcoming month I have a few items I’ll be spending money on. First up is a haircut and colour. I last had my hair coloured in September, and cut in November, so it’s certainly time! The second is my trip to Orlando. I’ve set a budget for myself as I plan on doing a tiny (seriously, tiny) bit of shopping while I’m there. It just wouldn’t be any fun to go an not spend money.

Tell me: What’s the best thing you bought this month? What items are currently on your wishlist?

The griddler is definitely my favourite!!

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No Spend Challenge

You read that right.

No spending from January 1 until my birthday in May. That’s 4.5 months.

Oof.

See ya later debt

This concept both excites and terrifies me.

I’m hugely committed to getting my debt paid off in 2014 and getting back on track financially, so I want to do everything in my power to make sure I’m successful.

While I did spent quite a bit of money in 2013, it was also a very challenging year for me and I feel like maybe that’s what I needed to do in order to get through it. However, I’m certainly not going to let a rough year hold me back from being completely financially okay, and so I wanted to challenge myself to be as great as I can be with money.

There’s something about the Christmas/holiday/whatever season that bleeds me dry. It’s not really the buying of the presents (I didn’t have many to buy for this year) but hosting people, buying decorations, spending more on food, visiting with people, etc etc that all just adds up. Before December my grocery bill was tight and then December rolled around and, well, it wasn’t so tight anymore.

I know January is historically a month with little spending, and I thought I would attempt to carry that forward up to my birthday. Why my birthday? Because I’ll probably want to buy myself a birthday present 🙂

What are the guidelines (I’m using guidelines here because rules just sounds restrictive):

  1. No wants. None. Anything purchased must be able to be justified and “it was pretty” although valid, isn’t good enough this time.
  2. Replacement items. For example, if I run out of mascara, I can buy a replacement mascara, but I can’t buy six replacement mascaras because Sephora had a neat little kit of them.
  3. Running shoes. I’m pretty sure I’m going to need between 1 and 3 (yes, I realize this is random) new shoes between now and my ultra. Staying uninjured is pretty important to me so I’ll purchase shoes as I need them, and they’re probably going to be the expensive Newton’s, but I’ll look for sales where I can.
  4. Food is okay. Obviously. No one wants me to die. But the food I purchase should be as part of my meal plan (yup, those are coming back!) and can’t be overly expensive (sorry fancy cheese).
  5. Eating out within reason. I’m going to allow myself one meal out per week. So if I buy my lunch for $4 one day, this will still count as one meal out.
  6. No Starbucks. Sorry Starbucks. I love you. You know I do, but sometimes you just get too dang expensive. After January I may permit myself one drink per month, but I’ll need to go cold turkey in January first to be sure.
  7. Makeup and clothes are off-limits. The only exception to this is the replacement rule. So if I get a hole in the crotch of my jeans, I’ll probably replace them, but that’s it. I have a ton of running clothes, so there’s no way I’ll need to buy any more between now and May (even though I may want to).
  8. Bye bye cable. I’m going to allow myself to keep cable until the Olympics are over, but after that? Bye bye. This will save me nearly $80/month and since I can stream most of my shows the day after online, I just don’t much see the point of paying for cable. Heck, even if I want to watch sports, I can head to a bar, or pay $2.99 for a hockey game online, if I really want to see it. I’m betting I won’t miss it as much as I think I will.
  9. Get a library card. This is something I haven’t done just because I’m lazy. I can rent books with my Kobo through my library for free, so it seems silly to keep buying books (but I do) but, since I can’t spend, a library card must be obtained. (Now to figure out where the closest library is so I can get a card!).
  10. Movies are okay? I haven’t yet decided how I feel about going to movies. I love going to movies, but at $13/ticket it can get pretty pricey (it’s $20 in IMAX) so maybe once a month? I’m not sure yet. I’m just thankful for Netflix.

I know the first month or so will be the hardest, but I’m pretty confident I can stick with this.

Bye bye debt!

Tell me: What’s the most radical thing you’ve done to pay off debt?

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January Recap

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Let’s talk about budgeting

Without divulging too much of my personal information, I’ve decided to start hammering down on my ability to budget.

I live quite comfortably, have great credit, etc etc, but suddenly moving from a 2-income household to a 1-income household was a bit of a shock to my pocketbook over the past 10 months and I’ve decided I’m no longer going to use the 1-income household as a crutch, but will accept it and do whatever I can to be fully independent.

In order to do so, I’ve set 2 goals for myself, both of which I hope to accomplish over the next 9-12 months:

  1. Pay off all outstanding debt
  2. Be able to buy a condo/house

This doesn’t mean I actually will be buying a place, but I want to be in a position where I can. I’ve been a homeowner since I was 22, so to move to renting at 29/30 is a really unsettling feeling. I feel like where I live isn’t mine and I’d love to feel more comfortable where I am and where I live.

In order to accomplish these two goals, I’ve started using Wave.

wave apps

Wave is an online based free (free!) software that tracks all spending in my bank accounts and credit card. I can also set up budgets, so I’ll be alerted if my spending in a certain area exceeds (or is nearing) my budget.

budget example

For whatever reason, my family never really taught me much about budgeting and it’s not really taught in school (and I’m an accountant, yes, I see the irony) so I did some Googling to determine the optimum ranges for spending, saving, etc. Based upon my budget, I’m well within these ranges. Yay!

  • Housing – 35% of take home pay
  • Vehicle – 15% of take home pay
  • Life – 25% of take home pay (includes groceries, clothing, etc)
  • Debt – 15% of take home pay
  • Savings – 10% of take home pay

I analyzed my spending over the summer and determined the number one area where I tend to overspend is food. Not really even eating out, just food/grocery spending, and I certainly don’t need to. This is an area I need to work on balancing my needs and my wants. For example, I don’t need the $6 cheese, but I sure as heck want the $6 cheese 🙂 Sorry taste buds, no more $6 cheese for you (unless someone wants to bring/send me $6 cheese!).

In addition to my monthly budget, I’ve also done a month by month budget for myself starting mid-September through to the end of April. Based upon this (and assuming everything goes as planned!) I will be debt free by the end of April. I really want this for myself – I’ve even considering completely cancelling my cable package in order to save more money (but then I think of the Olympics and don’t want to) since I have Netflix and will keep my internet connection.

I’m also crossing my fingers I’m able to increase my income related to my contract work, as 100% of those earnings go to 1) pay off debt and 2) my savings account, so the more work I’m able to do, the more I can directly benefit from it. I’ve submitted applications for additional work, now I just need to say a prayer and cross my fingers something happens.

I’ll also give myself 10% of any contract income as fun spending money so I don’t feel like it’s all for nothing. This will go toward my Starbucks Card, Sephora, BBW, shoes, clothes, etc so I feel like I’m able to have a bit of fun 🙂

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While writing this post, I came across this post by Jess Lively and it really, truly, spoke to me and I thin I’m going to change my language around money and budgeting to empower myself.

DontFallIntoICantAffordItTrap-300x300

Thoughts like “I can’t afford it” – especially when we actually do have the resources – place our power outside of ourselves. We feel acted upon and forlorn, rather than feeling like a proactive person who is capable of making choices aligned with our best interests.

Just because we choose to say “no” to something, doesn’t mean that we “can’t.”

What a wonderfully powerful way to reframe things. I love it.

I must admit I’ve been feeling shameful about my current situation. It’s hard to not call myself “stupid” or to tell myself I “know better” but I know shaming myself isn’t productive and merely puts me in a cycle of sadness and results in more spending. I’ve been working really hard on reframing, not shaming myself, accepting where I am (which is much easier said than done) and choosing to move forward without shame.

Like many things I’ll face in my life, I can allow this to define me, or I can take it as a learning experience (even if sometimes these experiences are hard) and move forward. I refuse to let this define me and I refuse to be in this place in a year. I also realize how very blessed I am that with careful budgeting and spending (as unfun as it might be) I’ll be debt free in a year, I fully realize a lot of people don’t have that luxury.

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After writing this post, I received some books in the mail, one of them being Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup (her mother is Christiane Northrup, who some people may remember from her Oprah days).

Now, I’m only 1.5 chapters into the book, so I can’t offer a review of the book quite yet, but I can say that I do love some of what she has to say. I’m going to save my thoughts on the book as a whole until I’m finished, but I like that Kate struggled with money and she’s come out on the other side, that’s a refreshing point of view for me.

Do you have a budget?

Do you use software to track your spending?

What areas have you cutback in order to save money?