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living frugally.

Let me just say, that I completely suck at living frugally at the moment.

For the month of Sept, per the "your money, your life" book, I've been tracking my purchases on an excel spreadsheet. I like that I have complete control over how I set it up, basically, the left column has all my categories, like food - lunch, food - coffeeshop, etc. Lots of food categories. And then the horizonal column is the date. And each day I fill it up. It's good because it makes me go, wtf. I spent $300 at anthropologie.

My excuse is I've been complaining that I've nothing to wear lately. And so I went to Struts, which is very cheap and had 40% off and I didn't find anything. I went to anthro, and headed straight for the sale section, and didn't find anything. In desperation, I went to the non-sale section and found 2 awesome tops and 1 lovely dress. That I couldn't resist. It is possible I couldn't find anything in the sale section since I kept trying on "large" sizes and it wasn't till I was trying the non-sale section that I tried "mediums". Apparently in anthro I'm now a "medium".

Anyways, I love those 3 items of clothing. Love it. Mine! Mine! I needed nice cloooothing!!! <--- addict.

Ok.. back to me sucking at being frugal. Andy and I are doing an experiment in October. It's a financial fast. Basically we set aside an amount of cash to be spent per person. $200 for one month. This is for eating out, having fun, work lunch, but doesn't include necessities like gas, groceries, bills, etc. We also have some store cards that we will try to use, like we have target gift cards for our wedding that we haven't used yet. (Date night at Target!). I have a starbucks, and barnes and noble card. And I am going to try to sell some of my used clothing and books on halfprice or buffalo exchange.

I am also aware that to some of you $200 is a lot of money per month. But this is the tradeoff that I am considering... having a lower income but more flexible free time. I want the freedom to take 1 month off and go travel for example. That's why I need to figure out this whole how low can I go and be happy thing.

I am actually looking forward to the financial fast. I have visions of Andy and me playing boardgames, and visiting our friends in their houses. Perhaps I am being idyllic. It is possible I would spend hours drooling at the shopping window of Anthropologie and browsing Etsy sadly. Drinking a glass of water while my friends order $10 cocktails. Mooching from my friends ;-)

But it will be good discipline.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 14th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
Good luck. If you are like me, it might take several attempts to really get into the swing of it. I hope you do better than I did.
Sep. 14th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
Shopping is like an addiction!
Sep. 14th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
I can't promise things will be like this for you because of individual personalities, but I have found that my desire to buy things adjusts downwards with income just as they adjust upwards with income. Some of it is controlling desire--I don't look at expensive shoes or clothes when I don't have a lot of money, for example--but some of it is just a natural adjusting.
Sep. 14th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
That would make sense.
Sep. 15th, 2010 07:02 am (UTC)
Simple saving
One of the easiest ways to start a saving-habit is to pretend your income is lower than it is.

For example, next time you get a raise that gives you say $200 more, at the same time, create a automatic deduction that pulls $200 from your account, and funnels it into whatever mode of saving you prefer.

The net effect is, you feel as if your income is like it was pre-raise, there's no needed adjustments in your spendings, and the entire thing is fairly effortless.

Yeah, I know, with the economy being what it is, it's not as if everyone can count on regular raises at the moment.
Sep. 14th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
Good for you for trying the fast! If anything, I think it will demonstrate to you what your buying habits are and if you have any emotional attachments to certain activities/purchases.

Really liking your financial posts... thanks for sharing.
Sep. 14th, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I know moneytalk makes some people uneasy.
Sep. 14th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
Whoa - I was thinking $200 is low. I do this technique and my monthly spending money is way higher. :( The techinque works though, when I run out of cash I can't go out or eat out any more. I do break it up to pay periods, though, as I will spend a months worth of money at the same time as 2 weeks.
Sep. 14th, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, definitely $200 is low, it's just an experiment to see how it feels like. I obviously need a balance between that and what I'm spending now.
Sep. 15th, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
i'm normally happier (and get more compliments) on the things i pick up at buffalo exchange, thrift stores or vintage stores (blue velvet on northloop is very reasonable), so you can definitely do this.

i just reduced our grocery budget from 225+ a week to 125-150 (which sounds like a lot, but isnt that much when you consider we are feeding 3 people, with convenience lunches, and mostly organics with very little meat. oh and diapers <<--can't want for this to be over). anyhoo - its possible, and accomplishing that felt good.

don't forget about groupons for cheap dinners out too ;).
Sep. 15th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, buffalo exchange take in stuff from anthropologie and all the other hip stores.

Our groceries are $360 for the month, but we eat out more often then we eat in.
Sep. 15th, 2010 06:59 am (UTC)
spending money
We do the same - set aside around $200/month as personal "frivolous" spending-money, i.e. money that is just for fun.

We also have a budget, but it's very coarse. What we found helped tremendously when saving, was to make it worthwhile, to set a bonus.

Infact it worked so well, we've now made it a permanent fixture.

We set a budget. And if we manage to beat the budget, 10% of whatever we beat it by, gets added to the spending-money of each of us.

So, 2009, the target, by the budget, was $10.000 in profit for the year (split pretty evenly between reducing debt, and savings). When we ended up with a $20.000 profit - each of us got $1000 extra to spend.

One could argue that this "wastes" 20% of the savings, but the thing is, it's a lot easier to save, when you know you'll have something from it short-term too. Saving for retirement or whatever is all well and good, but in practice, it's harder to be motivated by something that's 30 years away, compared to something that's end-of-this-month.
Sep. 15th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
I sort of try to do this without actually keeping track of things in an organized manner. Instead of giving myself some kind of set number to spend each month, I just put any "extra" money that I might be tempted to spend on superfluous things into my savings account. That way, when I look at my chequing account I can't think, "I can totally afford to go shopping this afternoon because I have so much extra money right now."

It's kind of what that person above said. My spending habits are directly related to my perception of how much money I have.
Sep. 17th, 2010 05:59 am (UTC)
The thing that works for me is to be content with what I've got, and to at all costs avoid trying to define myself through material possessions. Clothes are nice and pretty and all that, but those things really are fleeting. Bring me my burlap sack!

As for eating out, just eat in all the time, unless it's to socialize with friends or loved ones. And really, you can socialize anywhere, so try to steer the meal towards affordable eateries.

In short, I'd recommend a mindset that money only buys transient happiness. And once you have that mindset, the rest comes naturally.
Sep. 17th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
Well if you live in a burlap sack, I doubt many of your peers will want to socialize with you.

Besides, life is transient. If it's not to enjoy each moment and be happy then what is?

There are many paths to enlightenment. Pleasure is one of them.
Sep. 18th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
I do try to enjoy each moment. But I make an effort to enjoy those moments without relying on money. Are you saying poor people are less capable of being happy than rich or middle class people? I don't think so. Money is nice and enables a lot of things, but there's happiness to be found without spending a dime (ok, maybe one or two dimes is necessary, if you really do object to the burlap sack).
Sep. 18th, 2010 08:36 am (UTC)
"Are you saying poor people are less capable of being happy than rich or middle class people?"

Heh? Don't put words in my mouth. Didn't I just say there many paths to enlightenment? I did. Maybe you want to go the austere, isolated way. I don't.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


I like pretty things

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