For a lot of people, January is a no-spend month.
Since I’m not participating, I thought I’d share what I’m doing with my money this month.
I’m spending it.
Da dum tss!
That is actually true, of course. I am also implementing three small changes this month that seemed notable enough to mention at length. None of them involve being ultra frugal, and I’ve already eaten out once this month. Still, my money looks different. Take a peek:
Money Exercise 1 – Write it down.
I’m writing down every last penny. There is actually no different than what I do every month. My husband and I both use manual spending trackers on our phones that allow us to punch in the purchase amount and tap a category. At the end of the month, we compare (app) notes and dump it all in a spreadsheet. It’s pretty hands-on already.
Still, I wanted to try something old school. I balanced a checkbook up until my 30th birthday a few years back, so I’m no stranger to putting pen to paper to do some basic math. But I’ve never actually recorded my spending in this fashion. With all the research on the power of handwriting, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
Money Exercise 2 – Make more money.
As far as personal finance advice goes, make more money is both infuriating and inevitable. Frugality just can’t cut it on its own. But telling people to make more money is a lot like telling someone to exercise more or eat less. Sure, it’s the right thing to say, but it’s entirely different to actually do it.
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So this month, I’m doing THE THING that all the money people say to do. I’m trying to make money every day. And I’m not counting interest or dividends. But I would be lying if I didn’t disclose the fact that some days are already a stretch.
Like yesterday. Where the only thing I could think to do was make $0.75 for taking a photo on Job Spotter.
Don’t worry. I won’t spend it all in one place.
Money Exercise 3 – Spend more.
This exercise is related to my goal of prioritizing myself a bit more this quarter, and it’s also a direct challenge. I was given a wonderful Christmas bonus for some freelance work I’ve been doing, and it came with one string: spend this on something that brings joy or fun to you and your family.
A few years ago, that money wouldn’t have even hit my account, and I would have been running for my keys to go pedal to the metal to the mall. Now, though, it’s tough. I’ve conditioned myself to save, even when it ruins periods of rest and gives me saver’s remorse after traveling. So this could honestly end up being the gift that keeps on giving if it teaches me how to enjoy spending without guilt again.
Final Thoughts on a Spending January
I don’t know how any of these money exercises will go. I’m not sure if I’ll learn lessons or quit halfway through. I do know money will come in, and I know money will certainly flow out. Whatever the results, I promise I’ll share.
So Tell Me…What are you doing with your money in January?
I probably should be doing a no-spend January, because I need more exercise in frugality. But I am trying to be more on-purpose with my spending, and so I’ve spent a couple of dollars buying a new FitBit charger for one that had been sitting in my desk for two years. I bought a broom hanger to give my brooms and mops a place to live. In other words, I’m trying to spend on-purpose with regards to the house, to make it a nicer place to live. And all of my extra money is going straight into our investment account. Good luck with your money goals this month!
That’s always my problem too! I already know how to lock myself in a room and not spend. What I’m trying to figure out is how to be intentional about it!
I wish I could do a no spend January. But my big goal is to cut another “year or more” off my dogs ginormus vet bill that we got last month. Already paid off one (of 3 years) payments and should be able to put another $1,500-$2,000 this month. Also going on a trip to Europe at the end of the month, so trying to not spend a lot during the month so I have some spending money across the pond.
Good luck on all your goals and interested to see what you decide to do with your “you” funds!
I always start with good intentions of doing a no-spend month or week or day…but I feel like I’m always spending. We started the year with cabin air filters and 18 month shots! $$$$ It wasn’t fun spending, but it was necessary.
I am so glad to hear that you are making huge progress on those bills. Have the best time on your trip!
Mrs. Picky Pincher
I’m doing something a little different this January.
I’m trying to focus more so on how I spend time instead of money. As a writer, my time is quite literally money anyway, so I feel like this gets at the crux of the matter.
I’ve started following a more stringent daily schedule. For a while there I was floating a bit too aimlessly, resulting in less motivation and burnout. I’m already starting to feel better. 🙂
That is such a great goal! I think I have the opposite problem. In typical me fashion, I overcorrected. I tried to set up a really stringent schedule when HP was born, and I seem to have gone a little TOO strict. I forgot to allow for things like reading a book for 15 minutes just because. I fell into the trap of time sucks, and I’m glad I fixed those problems mostly. But I need a little wiggle room now.
All that to say…I love your goal. Time is money. Time is more important than money. And I hope you do better with it than me LOL
Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early
You know I’m all for no spend challenges, but for me, they look more or less like your #1. The longest stretch I’ve ever had of spending zero dollars was five days, so nowhere near a month, but the mindfulness practice of writing EVERYTHING down has been a game changer for me.
I think since we started manually tracking a few years ago, we’ve become very mindful. There are a few convenience “leaks” that I’m looking to fix, but I don’t know that I want to or even can actually quick spending. There always seems to be bills to pay. I’ve had…two…no spend days so far. But the days before and after are like KABOOM. $$$$.
What manual spending tracker do you use?
It’s called Spending Tracker. Helpful name, I know. I use the free version from the App Store. It looks like the creator is MH Riley if that helps you find it!
HI, what manual tracker do you use to track daily expenses?
It’s really boring in terms of what it’s called. I believe it’s just Spending Tracker. It’s by MH Riley Ltd in the App Store. Hope this helps!
I’m also writing down all my spending! I did this in November (which was an interesting experience) and even though I kind of sucked at it toward the end, it was an interesting experience so I wanted to give it another go. I have found physically writing it down with a pen on paper has made a big difference in my ability to stick with it!
I have a tough time with the no spend months. I feels like it’s just like a diet where you are good for two weeks then have a huge piece of chocolate cake. What expense tracker do you use on your phone when you’re not writing it manually?
I agree so much! And I have a hard time knowing what is an OK expense and what isn’t. I’m afraid I would just overindulge on groceries or something!