A month ago, I was inspired by Zero2Fire's challenge to live on $1,500 a month. Now, that's not a feasible challenge for all our family expenses right now (perhaps an aspiration?) but I wanted to put myself on a challenge for my expenses. Could I go from a world of "spend whatever's in my bank account" to spending $1,000 or less a month?
tbh, that number was arbitrarily picked, and I assumed it would be easy. After all, I YNAB now! This is just supposed to be "my" expenses - the fun money, the professional spends, the personal hygiene, the lazy-and-forgot-to-pack-a-lunch costs. My incentive was that if I didn't spend the full $1,000, I'd roll over the extra to my acorns account and get the rush of a little extra investing.
Well, digging in on YNAB showed me that in my months of tracking, I spent an average of $1,200 on these types of expenses, and I didn't preplan for big purchases - like a knife set wedding gift - so I had some wild fluctuation. Last month, I tried this challenge and gave up after spending a quarter of my allotted budget on Broadway tickets for my Mom's visit. Whoops. I completely gave in to the fallacy of "well, I blew this day so the whole month is lost" that has plagued dieters, savers, exercisers across all tracking devices.
Not this month. I've shorn up my resilience (and started this blog) so I'll be reporting on the success (or failure) of this experience and what I've learned. Though we use YNAB for all our expenses (and I use it for my personal expenses too) I wanted to instantly track these discretionary dollars. I'm using the iOS app BUDGT to instantly track, and also see how much I can spend each day without going over in the month. I'm pretty certain I learned about BUDGT five years ago from this write-up - I think it could be a challenge for a household's budget, but it's great for simple planning.
Now, BDGT projects that I'll end the month -632.67. ouch. I had a few purchases in this first week that front-loaded my spending - had visitors this weekend! I purchased a plane ticket (138.29), paid for a very pricey uber (60.72), took the family out to lunch (60.11) and bought a few Kindle books in my favorite series (33.50).
My allowed daily spend is up to 24.55 as of today, but I have a goal of four zero-spend days this week in anticipation of more visitors next weekend! I really enjoyed this article as a motivation for no-spend days.
Blog posts are all by Mrs. Us in Orlando unless otherwise noted. A former military kid, she's glad to have landed in the sunshine state and enjoys year-round summer sports, making every book a "beach read", waterside walks with the fam, and iced lattes.