Guys, my spending ban is over!! Cue the fireworks and noise makers. (Also cue my first trip to Target in 2017!!!)I am so excited to share with you all the final month in my 3 month journey of spending as little money as possible. I’ll take you through all of the goals and tips from my first post to tell you what worked and what didn’t. I’ll be sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly today so stay tuned!
To give a little background (if you want the full story click here) I started this spending ban to get me to my savings goal by the time I was ready to buy a house. I’m working with a grant program where I had to deposit money into a special savings account for 10 months. Well, my last deposit went in on April 1st. So, officially, i’m done with the grant program and all I have to do is find my house!
Set an amount that’s do-able:
At the end of my three month spending ban I wanted to save up an additional $1,200. That may not sound like a lot for you, or it may sound like a ton of money. If you’re thinking about going on a spending ban you need to set a goal that’s attainable. $1,200 was attainable for me and I did it (plus a little extra!). I could have done more but by month three I honestly wasn’t feeling the spending ban any more. It was my most expensive month yet. Luckily, I received a nice tax refund at the beginning of the month and I was able to put all of it into my savings account!
Set an allowance:
This did not work for me at all. In January I used some Christmas cash I was given as my allowance for the month. In month 2 I just kept track of what I spent every week and tried not to go crazy. I started this ban telling myself that I would allow myself $40 per paycheck to do whatever I wanted with. I’m sure it it would work for some people but it just didn’t for me.
Cash is king:
Also great in theory but it just did not work for me after month 1. I used up my Christmas cash and then it was strictly a card in month 2. I used some cash in March but that was only because I collected money at work for a group lunch and paid on my card. So, I used the cash as spending money the rest of the month. I’m not a cash person. I know it’s a great budgeting tool but I like to think that I have enough self control to not go crazy on my card. I exclusively use my credit card for purchases and pay it off each paycheck. It’s just what works for me. Plus, I earn miles which is how I was able to go to Philly and not pay for my hotel room!
Keep the temptations away:
Probably the best thing I did was unsubscribe from dozens of email lists. It is so refreshing to go into my inbox and only see emails I actually want to read. There has been no J. Crew, Banana Republic, Sephora or Express emailing me every day to tell me what deals are going on. I couldn’t unsubscribe from Ulta but I didn’t spend a dime there this whole three months. And I even had a gift card!
Eye that checking account:
I mean, I did this and I didn’t do this. I wasn’t religious about it in March but that’s because I knew I had the safety net of my tax refund. Also, because I mainly use my credit card for everything I checked that statement way more often. I pretty much only went into my checking account on days I knew bills were coming out, I was getting paid, or I was going to make a credit card payment.
Don’t be to hard on yourself if you spend a bit more than planned! January I spent $368.40, February I spent $193.42 (and $377.81 from my vacation account), and in March I spent a whopping $695.85. Whoops. See the full breakdown below.
Here’s why i’m not mad about March being crazy expensive. I was really over being on a spending ban. Somewhere in the second week of March my mindset switched from “save every dime so you can buy a house” to “spend the money while you still have it!”. So, I spent the money. I bought hiking boots that were $128.74 and couldn’t be happier and I bought a $95 Groupon to go parasailing in May and i’ll be checking off a 30 before 30 bucket list item.
More tips for starting your own spending ban!
If you’re looking to start a spending ban for yourself I’ve got 5 of my best tips right here:
// Set an attainable savings goal. There is nothing more disappointing and discouraging than setting yourself up for failure. I knew I could set aside $1,200 in 3 months. I wish I could have done $2,000 but I knew that wasn’t realistic so I didn’t make it my goal.
// Set a time frame for the spending ban and mark it on a calendar. 3 months was just too long for me. I was itching to spend money come the middle of the third month. Maybe a week, a month or even just a weekend will work best for you.
// Tell your friends and family. My friends knew I was on a spending ban and were more flexible with cheap hangout options. It was incredibly nice having their support. Some people thought it was dumb so I just had to remember that I was doing this for me, not for them and that kept me from being bummed if I had to not do something.
// Don’t completely deprive yourself! There were a few times I had to say no during my spending ban but I never deprived myself. If there’s something you really want, or something you just can’t live without don’t say no. I bought hiking boots! Do I need them? I mean, they’ll be super useful because I want to get into hiking, but I didn’t need them immediately. LL Bean was having a sale so I snagged them. Same goes for the Groupon for parasailing. Groupons don’t last forever and it was a great deal.
// Write down every single thing you buy. Do it. I promise, it’ll help. It can be a pain but it’s so worth it. Keeping track of everything you spend seems so much more real when you’re actually writing it down instead of just looking at your bank statement. It’s scary seeing what you spend money on. So much food!
Have you ever done a spending ban? If so, let me know how it went in the comments!