Seven days into December, and so far, my spending plan is going well. I’ve managed to bring my lunch and my coffee into work every day (I can’t say that it hurts that the weather is awful and the last thing I want to do is leave the office at lunch time). I’ve also managed to keep from buying anything online, and I have to admit, that has been the hardest part.
(Ok, that’s a bit of a lie – I bought a second humidifier the other day. My apartment is so painfully dry that I was creating sparks everytime I touched just about anything. Sadly, the second humidifier has not completely solved the problem, so I might be looking for a third, high powered humidifier. If anyone has any recommendations, I’m all ears.)
I’m sure many of you have been getting inundated with advertising e-mails and catalogs during this holiday season. Most of the time, I cull through the catalogs, tossing most into the recycle bin and keeping a few, just to see what’s inside. I’m not a catalog shopper though, so it’s rare I actually see something and end up purchasing. I am, however, a total sucker for online ads. Free shipping? Free gift with purchase? Wow! Let me see what I might need to buy! I am the person they are targeting.
Most of the time, I just visit the website, realize that I don’t actually need to spend the money, and close the browser window. As of late, I’m trying to not even look. But that’s hard. Especially when the ad is for something I use. For example, the store where I buy my moisturizer was having a free gift/free shipping sale. Do I need moisturizer? No. But was I tempted to stock up just because of the free offers? Most definitely. Of course, I then reminded myself that my birthday is in January, and that store offers discounts during the month of your birthday, so I would save just as much by going into the store next month, when I am closer to needing a new tube of moisturizer. But I was still tempted.
I think this month is a good experiment for me. Seeing just how little I really can buy, and only making important purchases. Like the humidifier. Or the dinner I plan to buy for my friend tonight when we go out to celebrate her birthday.
I’m hoping to make it through the month with some significant savings. I am spending a week at my parents’ house for Christmas, which limits my grocery spending, but on the other hand, I had to pay someone to care for my pets, so that negates that savings. I bought my plane ticket months ago, and won’t have any other travel expenses. I do, however, have plans to go out to dinner a few times with various friends who I haven’t seen in a while. To me, that’s a worthwhile expense, but every time I have these purchasing urges, I have to remind myself that I need to save my money for those outings.
Another thing that helps me save is that as I mentioned, my birthday is next month, and when my family has asked me what sorts of gifts I would like, I have mentioned that I would love gift certificates to the local mall. I’m planning a shopping trip for the day after my birthday. I have trouble spending a large sum of money all in one shopping trip, so this plan is much less dangerous than it sounds. Plus it has made it easier to not spend money now. “Oh, yes, those shoes are cute, but I will just wait and buy them for my birthday.” And the odds are good that by the time my birthday shopping day rolls around, I won’t really “need” those shoes quite as much.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.