Well guys, I did it. 30 days of hardcore budgeting. My April Makin’ Bank Challenge is officially coming to a close and I gained more from it than I ever could have imagined. Here’s what I learned…
Makin’ Bank Challenge: April 2013 Recap
1.) I don’t need to shop
I’m extremely proud of myself for this one. As a self-professed shop-o-holic, I was nervous about challenging myself to 30 days without it. But, I survived! No clothes, makeup, accessories, etc. were purchased for the entire month and my bank account absolutely loved it. I hadn’t gotten into a horrible habit of feeling like I had to buy something anytime I went shopping. Not true! I refuse to give it up entirely but, from now on, I’ll make sure that I’m only spending money when I have it to spare.
2.) Bills are expensive
I took over almost all of my bills this month and, let me tell you, I was shocked. I honestly had no idea how quickly they’d add up. It has been slightly overwhelming but that’s okay. It feels really good to know that I’ve taken a few of those burdens off of my parent’s shoulders. Oh, and just FYI, pets are expensive. Thankfully I love Lionel to death and don’t mind spending money on him…lucky boy.
Writing down all of my purchases really forced me to see where I was being impractical. Grocery shopping was the biggest shocker. I’ve never been good about planning meals or shopping in advance- I just picked things up when I needed them. Not good. Now I aim to make one (or two) grocery trips per week and avoid the “extra” purchases. So far, it’s making a huge difference in my overall budget and I’ve been able to use up stuff that’s been in my pantry for far too long.
4.) Fun is necessary
When I set up this challenge, I didn’t create a separate weekly budget for “fun” stuff (dinner/drinks with friends, movies, activities, etc.) I didn’t think I needed to. But, of course, I do. We all do. I don’t want to stop doing things that make me happy just because I’m being money-conscious. So allowing myself a certain amount to spend however I please is crucial. Life is too short to miss out on the fun stuff…
I stopped using my debit card almost entirely this month and relied only on cash. I honestly think that little switch made more of an impact than anything else. We all know how easy it is to swipe a card without a second thought. Cash feels so much more…permanent? If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you ditch the plastic for a while. You’ll be amazed at how much less you spend.
So, where does that leave me for the month of May?
I’m definitely going to give myself a little breathing room. If I go shopping with my friends and find something I like, I’ll buy it (plus I desperately need some new shorts!). I’ll continue to keep track of my overall spending and the status of my bank accounts just not quite as strictly as I was. And, of course, I’ll continue to pay all of the bills that I’ve taken responsibility for. Not too much will change, I’m just planning to relax a little bit. I also start my 2nd job this month (yay!) so my income will be increasing. My goal is to continue saving my butt off for 6-8 months and then I’ll re-evaluate from there!
Here’s to feeling accomplished and propelling forward…