“There are people who have money and people who are rich”
– Coco Chanel
My second shopping ban is winding down and as promised, I thought it was a good time to do a budgeting check in as a follow up to my Money Month project. My basic household budget is still accurate, and by rigorously curtailing spending, we’ve been able to chip at some debt in small but steady ways. The hustle continues to pay off and I’m happy to say I’ve landed a new year-long contract that, well shepherded, should enable us to pay off debt a bit more aggressively than we are doing already. It will also allow us to do a bit more travelling, which we very much want to prioritize this year.
In February I met my goal of not eating out for the entire month–with two exceptions where a meeting or event at work (which promised food) fell through at the last minute. In those instances, I ate at a cheap canteen for less than £5 each. To put it simply, I was shocked at how much savings this produced. I knew I was spending more than I wanted on food on the go, but sometimes it takes a moment of sharp relief to throw it into perspective. Ever since I’ve been recommitted to prepping my meals in advance and have almost entirely eschewed paying for coffee or tea.
As for my other short term goals, I wasn’t able to do my £40/week goal of grocery shopping for this month, but that’s simply due to disorganization on my part and I’ll be returning to this goal at some point. I did meet my goal of no entertainment spending, however. Netflix and Amazon Prime have been getting a lot of use! We’ve also devised a simple but easily monitored plan to pay off a couple of credit cards quickly and are on track to do so. Regarding donating, I’ve set up a regular donation to my public broadcasting peeps and plan on adding other regular donations to the budget once my new contract kicks in. And I’ve been sticking to my monthly cash budget as an article of faith!
My shopping ban has been another fantastic reset for me. Over the 12 months, 6 of them have been spent consciously not buying new stuff and I think it has helped me get a sense of my retail therapy, impulse purchase, and casual spending habits. It’s forced me to shop my own closet (more on that next month!), and experiment with my makeup and accessories more rather than simply coveting an entire new outfit or piece when I’m bored or frustrated with my wardrobe. I’ll be lifting the ban on April 1st, but don’t expect to dive into a wave of shopping as a result. I’ve got a relatively short list of items I need (mostly work related) but other than that, I’m going to try to stick to what I have until I’ve used more pieces up.
Full disclosure I did make a cheat purchase (a limited edition highlighter from the Estée Lauder and Victoria Beckham collaboration, which I missed out on during it’s original launch), but I felt able to justify it by cutting other discretionary spending that didn’t fall under my ban. For instance, instead of replacing some skincare products when they ran out, I used other items in my bathroom cupboards that I’ve previously passed on in favor of other products or just plain forgot about. I’ve kept my eye on a few new makeup and beauty items over the past few months but by being forced to sit on my hands instead of snapping them up, I’ve been able to evaluate my own needs and desire for them a bit more judiciously. As a result, my shopping list has shrunk to just a couple of items for when my ban expires.
So all in all, instead of stuff, I’d like to focus my money attention for the next few months on continuing debt pay down, travel, and items for the apartment. Not a bad place to be!