Do you ever look at your bank account and think what the heck happened since last pay day? We make a budget every month and at the end of the month there just isn't as much to put in savings as there is supposed to be. We decided to do something about that last week so, as of last Monday (4/25) we are on a spending freeze.
What does this spending freeze entail you may ask. Well, we have plenty of meat in our freezer so we only need to buy things like produce, eggs, milk, diapers, and fuel. Obviously we are still paying bills too (mortgage, electricity, insurance, etc.) but those are things we can't really go without so they aren't negotiable. I'm not keeping track of things we want but wouldn't have purchased
under normal circumstances or we could claim to have "saved" a lot more
than is realistic.
So you're not doing anything fun then you may also think. However, that would be an incorrect thought. Fun used to mean sometimes going out to dinner as a family (or for date nights), going out of town for the weekend, and "me time" which usually entails shopping at Target. Target is a BIG danger for our budget because as long as I'm not buying things for myself I feel like it is alright. The kids NEED more clothes. I can't afford NOT to get those picture frames that are on clearance. Those are my two biggest weaknesses. Well, those and the "dollar" section. Now we are going on walks to the park as a family, going to my mom's house to swim in her pool, and just playing out in the yard with all the other neighborhood kids. Of course, it helps that it is nice weather here now so we can do all of these things. Winter is even worse for me for not spending because of being stuck inside all the time and because I always go a little crazy for Christmas.
In just the first week of our spending freeze it is unbelievable just how much we have saved.
Here is a break down of the things we would have spent on:
-Monday (first day):
Honest Company bundle-$45
Stitch fix box-$20 (minimum)
Power wheels jeep motor-$17
Belt for lawn edger-$15
Rubbermaid tubs (organizing closets)-$20
Mall shopping (2 typical stores+food court) -$50+$15
Total for eight days: $398
As you can see, in just these first eight days there is already a very good chunk of money. That is almost airfare to Hawaii for one of us or airfare for TWO to Las Vegas (both things I'm planning for a later date)! It has been very challenging for me at times, especially at the grocery store, but I have found some added benefits, aside from saving money of course.
1.We have been eating a lot healthier. We don't eat all that bad in the first place, but we have been doing a lot better this last week. I'm not buying things like cereal, tortillas, yogurt, or goldfish crackers so those aren't options to eat. Also, we aren't going out to eat, picking up some Burger King on our way somewhere, or ordering pizza when we feel too lazy to cook. That has been the biggest part of the healthier eating and we feel much better because of it. We would always gorge ourselves and feel totally sick after eating out so now we don't have that problem.
2. I'm spending less time online and on my phone. I'm not on Amazon, Cartwheel, checking ads, and looking at travel websites. I know I'm not going to spend the money so I've decided not to torture myself. (First world problems, I know.) This means that the time I would usually spend checking prices I now have to spend with my boys or cleaning the house. Let's be realistic though, I'm not very likely to waste that time cleaning, am I?
3. It is becoming a lot easier as the days go by. The first few days I kept thinking to myself, I didn't think I could do this in the first place so I'm just not going to. But I REALLY want a trip to Hawaii next year so I kept thinking about that and knew I could do it. Now, I don't really have to purposely tell myself anything. I just don't spend the money and don't even have the thought to as much as I used to.
We didn't specify how long we are doing this for but we will just try as long as we can. I'm sure we will make it at least through a month. Of course, I told my husband if he has to break the freeze to buy a Mother's Day present for this weekend that is allowed. I'm also accompanying him on a work trip later this month so I'll have to buy my meals while I'm there, but that was planned before the spending freeze started so I'm not counting it!
So if you're thinking of saving for a vacation, car, home improvement, or just for the sake of pumping up your savings account, you should definitely consider a spending freeze. It is totally liberating and really does work!