Side note: Today one of my side hustle experiences is being featured on Believe in a Budget and if you have any time you should definitely check it out. I’d appreciate it and I’m sure you would too if you’re interested in learning about various unique side hustle opportunities. Kristin’s Side Hustle True Story series is a great read as she covers the behind-the-scenes details of a unique personal side hustle experience each week. You won’t find these personal details so easily anywhere else on the web.
In February I tried to spend absolutely nothing on clothes, entertainment and dining out and I’ve been dying to tell you all how my spending bans went and what I discovered about myself. It was definitely challenging because not spending money on certain things you’re used to spending money on regularly is certainly easier said than done. I cheated so I’ll get that out of the way first and foremost, but I don’t see it as a failure. Read on to find out why.
First Month Without Shopping For Clothes
I had a really successful first month of my 6-month shopping ban but I have a long way to go. As I mentioned before on this blog, I feel I have plenty of clothes and shoes to get me through spring and maybe even summer, yet when I enter a department store I get excited to look at clothes and I feel almost obligated to buy more.
My technique for not shopping so far has been avoidance. I avoided my favorite clothes stores to the best of my ability and I ignored promotional emails and sales coupons that were sent to me. I did go into a few stores though but I kept my cool.
I had to run to Kohls to pick up a belt for my extra skinny son. Unfortunately the children’s department is in the back of the store and you have to walk through the women’s department near the entrance so it was a major temptation. I even stopped and looked through some of the dresses that caught my eye. (Ultra super major temptation and a BIG no-no if you are on a shopping ban).
But then I realized and reminded myself that I have a handful of nice dresses at home that are packed up and already creating clutter in my closet. Did I really want to add to that clutter and did I really need more? You get the point. I moved right along and bought my son his much needed belt. And after I left the store I felt great about resisting the urge to shop. I think it I did buy something during this 6-month ban, I would be upset about it later because I know I truly don’t need anything at the moment. And it feels great to feel in control of my money when it comes to shopping.
A Month Without Dining Out
This challenge wasn’t that bad, since I already don’t dine out as much as it is. My boss always buys everyone in the office lunch once a month so that was nice, other than that I stuck to packing lunch and utilizing the food I had in my cabinets along with making use of leftovers. We stuck to our grocery budget and meal planning as usual but I found that I was extremely tempted to order out on Fridays and Saturdays.
I have a tendency to come home and crash on weekends and Friday is my least productive day where I don’t even feel like cooking. But frozen pizzas saved us there. Not the healthiest option but they’re convenient and cheaper than dining out. I also tried batch cooking a few meals and cooked Sunday night so that we could have enough leftovers for Monday night’s dinner as well.
Ray and I did go out for Valentine’s Day though and we used a gift card he received a while back so it didn’t bother me much. I’m really not a fan of Valentine’s Day because it seems like another man-made holiday where retailers try to get you to spend money but Ray and I do acknowledge a lot of holidays since we don’t do a ton on regular days.
As far as dining out though, I think I have enough control now to only do it sparingly and when necessary. I’m pretty comfortable in the kitchen and I know how to be resourceful and combat any laziness I may feel on weekends when I have food around the house to cook.
A Month Without Paying for Entertainment
I know that when I announced that I wouldn’t be paying for entertainment during February it raised a few eyebrows. I hope I didn’t sound like a bitter cheap lady who would rather sacrifice my enjoyment in order to save a few bucks. It’s not like that. I love to go out and have fun and I believe it’s healthy for you.
But I get kind of annoyed when people and vendors try to take advantage of others by overpricing things in order to make extra profit. I honestly believe that doing something entertaining shouldn’t cost a ton of money and sometimes, as crazy as it sounds, you can can even have fun for free. So what did I do this month for free?
- I went to a basketball game with my sister at my alma mater. I was happy to have a nice night out with my sister, check out the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and score a free buffet meal all thanks to checking my email for the invite
- We borrowed a couple of sleds from my friend and went sledding!
- I had plenty of board game and movie nights at home.
- Ray and I had a dinner and a movie ‘date night’ while the kiddo was at my mother’s house
- I took my son to a nice birthday party and got to hang out with a few good friends at the party as well.
- We went bowling. The bowling alley that I hosted my son’s birthday party at in January gave us a ton of free coupons to come back and bowl…sooo Ray, the kiddo, and me each had a coupon to use to bowl for free
- I went to a concert with my mom. This wasn’t planned and I actually had to spend money here so I guess this means I didn’t pass my goal of spending $0 for entertainment but it doesn’t really bother me. My mom had a birthday in February and usually I never know what to get her or just get her the same thing each year but this time she kept hinting about this concert that was taking place near my home.When I finally got the hint I asked her if she wanted me to take her and she got super excited so I knew it was what she really wanted.
The concert tickets were $27 each. So with taxes and fees everything came out to $71. During checkout I saw the option to check out with American Express points. Since I received 50,000 points on my AMEX Premier Gold Rewards Card after meeting the requirements of the sign up bonus I knew I had more than enough to pay for the tickets in full. I decided to only pay for about $50 of the total price with points because I’m saving the rest possibly for a flight to North Carolina for FinCon in the fall. But having to pay only $21 for both of us to attend the concert wasn’t that bad at all, even if I wasn’t supposed to spend any money on entertainment during that time.
Taking my mom to that concert was one of the best decisions I could have made because I haven’t seen her light up and get that excited to do something in a while. It was fun to just spend time with her since we don’t get to do that much anymore and the concert was really nice. This is why I don’t really categorize my challenge as a failure. Some things are priceless and it’s important to realize what’s worth spending money on and what isn’t; the main difference between my definition of frugal and cheap.
Why I Don’t Feel Deprived
To someone who doesn’t know me very well or just anyone outside of the personal finance blogosphere it might seem like I’m depriving myself from fun and the joys of life just to save money and cut expenses. A few coworkers asked me why I wasn’t buying lunch in February and I bet there were genuinely confused. Here’s why I didn’t feel deprived in February and why I don’t feel deprived period:
- I want to live a simpler life. Since I write about money it’s common to assume I’m obsessed with money and growing my riches but the truth is I just want to live a simple stress-free and fulfilling life. I don’t want to be pressured by others to spend money and go deeper into debt so I cut back and live frugal.
- I know that debt is only temporary. Since I have a solid plan as to how I will get out of debt I know that the sacrifices I make will most likely only be temporary and my debt will not go on forever.
- I have bigger goals for my money than buying clothes and work lunches. I have big financial and life goals for myself and I’m okay with letting the little things go in order to get there.
- What challenges are you willing to set for yourself in order to meet your financial and life goals? Do you feel deprived by living frugally or cutting your expenses?
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