In the last couple of years, I’ve realized the utter necessity of saving money. I have kept up a budget for nearly 2 years; have maintained an Emergency Savings fund at around $1000; and I’ve finally got an IRA. These things are all very empowering and have definitely reduced some money-stress. A good witch should be in control of her finances! However, I have not been able to increase my general savings or save up for any items or experiences I crave, such as an overseas trip or a harmonium. Since my position (and hours, and pay) was reduced to part time in October, I’ve been trying to earn a few extra bucks here and there while searching for full time work in my field. I’ve also been using my credit card much more often than I’d like–I’d love to never use it at all–and utilizing my Emergency Savings fund for Important Things like rent and utilities, when needed.
In December it occurred to me that I should cut way down on my spending, which to be fair was already moderate, and work on building my savings and setting money aside for goals like travel. To that end, I’ve been attempting a Spending Fast. I say attempting because so far, I’m not great at it. Actually, I’m not doing a Spending Fast so much as I am trying to live within my significantly reduced means.
Enter the Spending Fast, created by Anna from And Then We Saved, which as you can imagine is a blog about saving money. She used the system to pay off debt. I just need to get through. I do think, though, that it’s easier to save with a plan (saying “I’m on a Spending Fast!” feels nicer than “I’m broke.”) and that if I can do this then I actually could pay off this new credit card debt and possibly (gasp!) save some money.
The system is simple:
Don’t spend money on anything that you don’t categorize as a Need. If you look at her list, you can see that she used fantastic resolve in eliminating “wants.” My list, however, includes such “needs” as sewing classes, which I love more than anything and refuse to give up (plus I’d lose my spot, which I waited to get for a whole year!) and Netflix (justifiable since it saves me money on going out, I SWEAR). I’m also not giving up acupuncture. Nope.
See why I’m not great at this?
Some things are harder to give up than others. “Specialty food items” could be like, half my grocery budget if you consider my dietary restrictions and my penchant for expensive pickles. Fortunately, I developed a taste for kitchari last summer and lentils are cheap. It’s tough for me to avoid buying art supplies and fabric, but I stocked up on fabrics in advance and people have been giving me their old stashes (thank you!).
I’m basically coming in at the exact amount I’m making without adding anything to my normal budget categories such as “Mad Money” (for miscellaneous things), “Entertainment” and “Miscellaneous Personal” (for cosmetics, toiletries, candles, etc). I’m trying really hard not to buy “Books and Magazines” and to make all my “Gifts” from materials I already have (like that fabric stash). I am really interested, though, in trying to keep to this very low budget once I do find that elusive full time job, or more part time work. When my resources increase, can I apply that extra cash to my debt and savings?
I did an okay job of Fasting in December, but January was harder. I did not do well. I spent a lot of money on eating out and going to bars, which I don’t usually do. I got a new job (!) and bought myself some presents to celebrate (oops). For February, I should make a little more money because of my tax return and some extra babysitting gigs, but I also have a work trip to NYC and I went ahead and budgeted for dining out, which is inevitable, and added a little money to my Entertainment and Mad Money categories. I’d rather be realistic than pretend I’m Fasting and end up way over budget.
My plan now is to really, truly start paying off my credit card debt and building my savings from March 1st onward. I set some goals, which will help. It seems like my astrological forecast for this year has a lot to do with money and resources, too. I’m excited to finally save some money (and maybe take a big trip!). I’m going to buckle down, I swear. I’ll let you know how it goes.