At the end of 2018 I decided that one of my goals for the new year would be to implement regularly-occurring spending freezes as a way to save some extra money, and to hopefully curb frivolous purchases at the same time.
Today I’m checking in to report on the first freeze / spending period cycle of the year. The results were eye-opening.
The conditions of my freeze go like this: from the first day of the first occurring credit card billing cycle, to the last day of the last occurring cycle, I make no extraneous purchases. So only groceries and gas. And obviously any emergency expenditures that may be necessary. And then once the spending period starts, I stick to a budget of some sort (I chose $300 to start). This works out to be about five weeks of no extra spending and three weeks where I can make some fun, calculated purchases.
The Freeze Part
Here’s what I noticed: I had been dipping into savings to cover my credit card bills way more than I realized. So while I definitely spent less by not making any unplanned, unnecessary purchases, my savings at the end of the month didn’t look the way I expected. I expected way more to be available to put away. NOTE: I think this is also because two of my non-negotiable expenses (hello, HOA and electric budget payment) both went up a bit and they dipped into the extra funds I would normally sock away at the end of each month.
And the first quarter is hard to judge because there were gifts from Christmas and my birthday plus my tax refund coming in, and while I put most of that into savings, I held some back to cover credit card payments from the holidays, my birthday shopping spree and my study makeover. So maybe the next cycle will be more true to what I expected it to be..? We shall see.
The Spending Part
As I mentioned in my new year goals post (HERE), I had tried my hand at this spending freeze thing last fall. I also attempted keeping unplanned purchases within a certain budget. And both experiments went well. Hence my attempting it on a larger scale this year. So I was relatively confident I would succeed. And then I got sucked in and bought something from a Instagram ad. Then I used my Old Navy SuperCash (which actually was worthwhile in the grand scheme of things but still). Then I did some online shopping at The Container Store and Forever21, my EZPass reloaded (not frivolous but not expected or planned either) and oh, also bought a temporary purple hair dye lol… because, necessities, ya know?
While it definitely feels like I went wild, I actually am only a little over my $300 budget. But I think I can definitely do better on controlling my spending. I’m going to be much more thoughtful about what I want to buy and will put more effort in during the next spending period, which is now about five weeks away, because the next spending freeze just started yesterday.
All in all I’m interested to see how this will go as I progress from one freeze/spending cycle to the next. Will I learn from the previous cycle? Will I see a difference in my saving and spending habits? I would like to think so. But only time will tell.