With January drawing to a close, I wanted to revisit my no spend month challenge to see how everything shaped up. Looking at the numbers, I spent somewhat less than I normally would but more than I wanted to.
The good: I did manage to stick to my $100 grocery budget by focusing on eating what I had in the freezer and pantry and buying mostly fresh produce, eggs, and dairy. I reduced my travel and only went out of town twice, which kept my transportation costs down.
The bad: Although I minimized thrift store visits, I did make a few trips and wound up with some books, linens, a pair of shoes, and a food processor. I didn’t spend a lot of money and it’s stuff I’ll use, but it’s still more than I was planning to buy for the month.
The ugly: I bought three cookbooks from the local outlet store – Artisan Cheese Making at Home ($14), The Art of Simple Food II ($14), and Salt Sugar Smoke ($15). The first two were books that had been on my Amazon wish list for a year, so I was pleased when the showed up for half of what they were on amazon. The other was new to me. Given that I already have a lot of cookbooks, I don’t have much of a justification. Cookbooks are a weakness I need to get more under control.
Looking back at this month, it’s pretty clear to me that most of my justifications for buying things are focused on how they’ll save money in the long run. I tell myself that napkins will save me money on paper products. That making cheese and preserves will be less expensive than buying them at the store. That buying hiking shoes at the thrift store will be less expensive than getting them new.
While not necessarily wrong, these justifications make it easy to buy things that I don’t really need when I could instead be saving that money for one of my bigger goals. Although I’m pleased to have cut down my spending in January, this is something that I’ll need to work on if I want to keep increasing my savings rate and cutting extraneous stuff from my life.