I love the beginning of a new month. It feels like I get a fresh start 12 times a year. I’m a goal setting kind of gal and I respond really well to timelines, i.e, ‘I want to lose 3 pounds in two weeks!’ or ‘I want to go the whole month without unnecessary spending!’ With November just getting started I have a new chance for new goals which is pretty exciting to me.
Before I get into November goals though, let’s take a look back at October.
I started October with the intent for it to be another no-spend month for me. I wanted to try and ramp up my savings since we’re in the final sprint of 2015 and I still have to max out my IRA, beef up my emergency account and save for next years taxes.
I know October was going to be busy. I signed up for a lot of catering, I had three nonprofit events to organize and attend and I had two friends come into town. I underestimated just how thin I was stretching myself though.
For the past few blog posts I’ve written about how stressed I’ve been feeling and how close to burn out I am. Working so much and so many jobs really wears on you. I feel pretty constantly fractured. I bounce from one job and task to another and always have the feeling that I could be doing something. Not only do I spend hours staring at a computer or on the phone but I spend a good amount of time in transit for work. Getting to and from catering is a biggie but I also take meetings for the nonprofit and pick up things for an events company I just started with.
All of this means that my attention was on a million things this month and my budget wasn’t one of them. While I am frugal by nature and have built myself a life around not spending money, doing a whole month of no spending requires real attention. There can be no emergency spending, no drinks out after a hard day, no parking fees. That just wasn’t the month I ended up having. I had too many balls in the air to be able to pay that kind of detailed attention and maintain that level of control over my spending.
So I ended up spending some money. Not a crazy amount by any means don’t worry! For the most part my frugality reigned supreme. Like I said I structure my life around free or cheap things and even in crazy-busy times those habits stay strong. I still ate a lot of leftovers, I still biked and walked a lot, I still avoided most meals out.
For example, when my friend was in town we went out to two meals. She graciously paid for one and we split the other. We also did some exploring of Austin and so my gas was a bit more than I planned for this month. Still, we didn’t go to any bars, I catered while she was here and we actually had a great talk about money and our savings goals.
The gourmet donuts we ate. #worthit
Here’s my spending breakdown:
Groceries: $64.19 (High because I bought condoms and toilet paper. Food expenses only were $40.33)
Eating Out: $20.01
Parking Ticket: $40 (I hate my car. I have spent an insane amount on car-related costs this year!)
Bank Fees: $12 (ATM fee and account fee)
I am super annoyed at the parking ticket/parking fees. I can’t get into it right now because I get genuinely pissed but my car has been a drain all damn year. The bank fee was also unfortunate but I had to close an account and move money around and they pegged me for it.
HOWEVER I also saved lots of money in October! I invested my target amount into my IRA, I saved for my 2016 taxes, and my emergency fund is only $1000 away from it’s 2015 target. I hit every single savings goal I had for myself in October. My roommates and I also hosted a Halloween party and I put together my costume completely fo’ free. I’ve actually had the garland below since elementary school.
So yes, no spend October was a failure but I’m OK with it. I have to start letting myself be more flexible and understand that money and my money goals are not the only things in life. I had a super hectic month but you know what? Going out to dinner with a friend I’ve had since I was 3 was pretty amazing and I don’t regret that $20. #lifestooshort!
Now that it’s November I’m looking to hit my savings goals once again and give myself a bit of a break. I want to find more work-life balance and I want to get more comfortable with not working. November is more my no stress month than my no spend month and I’m looking forward to it!
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.