As I am more than halfway through this no-spend month, I figured it was time for another update! How is no-spend February going deep in the heart of Texas?
Pretty well, thanks for asking! Well, I did have to spend money. I had to attend a business meeting downtown and I paid for parking. $3.00! There was no other option, I had to do it! I am happy to report though, that other than my parking slip-up, I haven’t paid for anything other than my essentials.
I have had to catch myself a few times, more so than in the beginning of this experiment. I’m getting to the bottom of the barrel. I am in the final throes of certain necessities like coffee and toothpaste, but I’m trying to stretch them out for the next two weeks. I have a good stockpile of teas that I’ve been switching with coffee and I’m using slightly less toothpaste on my brush. Don’t worry, my breath doesn’t stink! I floss people, and I wear my retainer. Dental hygiene for the win!
Valentine’s Day got a little out of hand. My boyfriend and I ended up spending more than expected. All in all we spend $23 on Valentine’s Day grocery store purchases. Certainly not that big a deal and he treated, so I didn’t actually spend any money, but it was more than I wanted to spend. He got a salad for dinner and chocolate covered almonds for the weeks snack as well. We ate at home and spent the night hanging around. Look at the giant cookie cake we made!
I’ll tell you what; this has already been an eye opening month. I’ve realized that I can permanently or semi-permanently cut spending in several areas of my life. I can cut my grocery bill from $60-$80 a month down to $20-$40 a month. Surviving solely on catering leftovers has been remarkably easy! I am eating more carbs than normal, but other than buying more veggies next month, there is really no reason for me to be spending money on groceries while I have this job. I feel so lucky to be able to say (type) that!
I’ve also realized what a gold mine I’ve been sitting on since I moved to Austin. This is a college town and you know what that means? Free stuff! I’ve been avoiding campus because it makes me feel old and I’m always afraid I’m going to mow down a student, but no more! Last week I attended a free lecture by Harry Allen, currently a blogger about race and politics (two of my favorite things) and the former friend and semi-official PR person for Public Enemy. He was a good speaker with interesting things to say and awesome photos of Public Enemy from the 1980’s.
It totally opened my eyes to the many and varied free things that happen on UT Austin’s campus each week. I can attend lectures, screenings, shows and hopefully other things, totally for free! I can still blend in as a college kid too, even if I am closer to 30 than 20 now. I can still hang bro! I’m still totally hip!
There are also a multitude of free shows here in the Live Music Capitol of the World, and libraries the world over are doing a public service with free talks and screenings. My social life has been revolving around my couch and that is completely my fault. The world is full of awesome and free things to do!
So I’ve avoided spending money on my non-essentials pretty well. What are my essentials though? Where have I spent money this month?
I haven’t made any extra loan payments yet this month but rest assured, they are coming this week. I also have to set aside some money for my San Diego trip. All in all, I’m pleased with how this month is going!
I’m already planning on doing another no-spend month sometime this year. I also want to implement the changes I spoke of above. Next month I’ll be setting my grocery budget at $40 and trying to set my entertainment budget at $0. I don’t think either will be much of a struggle!
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.