Spending Control: How I fared in May and June

Some time ago I published a post about my need to become more precise with where my money was going. Below is a list of things I resolved to doing, and how I fared in each one of them.

Reading books about money

Your Money or Your Life

I enjoyed many points in this book, and they were certainly driven home as I have since then made a huge progress in how I view certain material and financial things. However, at times the book sounded very preachy, if not gospel-like.

The following is more than likely just me and my over-reactive mind, but: One of the first things I did while reading this book was search for listings of flats that are located closer to my current job. Nope, nope, nope. Obviously, this is a very backwards approach to the system. The point is discussed in the book, but in a healthier context.

The book is relevant, and I recommend it for everyone who wants to rethink their relationship with money.

Buy Your Money or Your Life here.

Total Money Makeover; Financial Peace Planner

Dave Ramsey’s books are a bit like AC/DC songs. Once you’ve heard one song of AC/DC, you can safely say that you’ve heard them all. Mr Ramsey is a bit like that in this regard – but that’s part of the beauty of his system. Te message gets delivered to you over and over again, while you finally see the light and follow through. For example, I was only able to build a budget that was precisely within my means on the third month of my acquaintance with Mr Ramsey’s books, and at the point of writing this post I am not completely sure I would be able to stick with it – so I plan on picking up another book of his to keep the message in my head for longer. Once I run out of his writings, I’ll probably just start over, after a short break.

My biggest gripe with Dave Ramsey’s works is them being very American. Of course, the main message sticks, and if something is not applicable to me (Roth IRA, for one example, or credit clean-up chapter), then I either skim the passages or read them out of natural curiosity.

That said, I still wholeheartedly recommend his works for anyone looking to pull their financial elves together. And if you’re in debt? This book is God-sent. His methods (zero-based budget, envelope system, debt snowball…) and baby steps are applicable to residents of any state.

Buy Total Money Makeover herebuy Financial Peace Planner here

Having No-Spend days

For the sake of transparency, a No-Spend day is when I spend money on public transportation only, or spend none at all – because buying a monthly pass would cost me more than paying for separate rides. I had 15 No-Spend days in May (9) and June (6), which I believe to be pretty impressive, but am looking forward to increasing the number in July and August.

Tracking every expense

Well that was a pain, but that was a very illuminating pain. I had no idea how much I spent in the office vending machine. I thought it to be of no concern at all. How wrong I was.

Also, I haven’t tracked every single pence. There’s about $1 worth floating in the air somewhere.

Having fun

The greatest trouble here is separating ‘spending’ from ‘fun’ psychologically. I used to think I never had that problem, but apparently I do, and interestingly enough, it’s more rooted in food than anything else. For example, I don’t enjoy the afternoon work break any less if I brew a mug of tea in the kitchenette instead of buying a cup of coffee or if I skip the drink altogether, but the psychological point of having a drink in my hand as I sit on the bench or take a stroll around is very hard to cross over.

Eating down the pantry

Yeah, this one has been working. I have gone through quite a lot of grains and preserves. I’m also getting a better picture of things I actually eat, and how eating certain things makes me feel, so it’s all good.

Writing lists and drawing graphs

This has simultaneously been motivating and demotivating. It’s motivating because of the reasons I mentioned in the previous post: When you see a goal, it’s easier to keep yourself on track, and when you see your progress, it’s less tempting to stray. It’s demotivating to the point of being debilitating, however, when your goals are numerous but your means to an end – and therefore, progress – are limited. I think I’m going to battle this by picking just three most important goals from all categories and keep them on sight at all times, while my other lists I’m going to access from time to time.

Writing updates on this blog from time to time

Well this one’s working so far.

What I’ll be doing next month

Aside from the points above, which I intend to persevere at, I’m also going to do the following:

  • Draft a budget based on the tracked May-June expenses. Keyword here is ‘draft’, because to see a pattern I’d need 3-4 months of expenses tracked, or better yet a year (to account for heating, for example). That’s why tracking every expense is so important.
  • Write down all yearly fees and divide them into 12, so that I could just leave that money on the account every month and access it when a payment arises. Things that come to mind are property tax, cemetery tax, domain names and hosting, health insurance for father, plane tickets for brother (not in full, but I help),.. Pretty sure there’s something else I’m forgetting.
  • Pay more attention to emotional and psychological triggers. Maybe that’ll help me spend less on coffee in July and August.
  • Brown bag every lunch, drink, and snack. The vending machine is the enemy.
  • Become more conscious of food waste. Guilt aside, it’s just money down the drain.

(This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.)

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