I was doing pretty well… but it seems I’ve fallen off my own wagon. And there are some good reasons for that, but I definitely wasn’t keeping the goal in mind some other times. Anyway, let’s break it down:
I actually did way better in February than I thought I would have. Despite being in a play that kept me out and about and eating on-the-go a lot, I spent a little more than $100 less than I did in January, and was overall $50 under my budget! This baffled me at first, but I realized being busy meant I had less idle time to shop or meander around Walmart longer than I need to. I even curbed my food expenses by purchasing microwave dinners ahead of time that I took to the theatre with me, instead of buying fast-food every night.
My takeaway point from February is this: Keep yourself busy with enriching activities that don’t require spending! Find a hobby that requires very little monetary investment and connects you with other people. Over the entirety of my life, there’s probably been quite a bit of money spent on character shoes, makeup, etc., but year-to-year I spend very little on my theatre hobby, and it’s connected me with a really great group of people. If you need ideas, the local library often has a multitude of different clubs that meet throughout the week, everything from comic book lovers to Spanish conversation hour to bird-watching.
March is where I started to slip, and the reason is really silly: I found the best lipstick ever and maniacally thought it would be a great idea to try to buy it in a bajillion colors. Seriously, this lipstick is great, and maybe I’ll review it later, but it looks very different on the cartridge than it looks when you actually wear it. So I ended up buying a bunch of colors that look terrible on me because the container was pretty… womp womp. I did end up with 3 or 4 that are good colors though, and it lasts all day.
So my springtime makeup mania put me over budget by about $110. Not horrible, but not great. And I still ate food on-the-go way more than I needed to.
But then something amazing happened… I got a new job! I finally landed a position that pays enough for me to support myself and start getting somewhere financially, and it puts me directly on my chosen career path.
The only downside to now having a professional job is realizing how much I look like a total scrub. I hadn’t realized just how beat-up some of my clothes were, and just how few office-appropriate items I had. Just out of necessity, I had to go shopping for work clothes, and ended up spending six freaking hours in the Salvation Army thrift store just to find a few things. And it wasn’t fun; it was straight-up work; I was hunting. I’ve also resorted to some online shopping for work clothes because it’s slightly less exhausting than going to a real store. So… there go two of my rules for this year.
Just in general, I was enjoying the freedom of knowing I had a little extra cash too much and lost sight of my goal. I bought some stuff to decorate my desk (I have my own desk!), ate out a lot, and just wasn’t as careful as I had set out to be at the beginning of this year. That being said, I was just as frugal as I’ve been in the past, but this is supposed to be a challenge, and I didn’t rise to meet it. It’s pretty embarrassing how much over-budget I was… all you need to know is that it was a lot. (Although my tax refund helps to off-set that difference… right?).
Since May isn’t quite over, I haven’t finished calculating just how much I’ve spent this month, but I know it’s well over my bare-bones budget. I’ve needed to update my wardrobe way more than I anticipated, had a bunch of car repairs to pay for, and various birthdays, weddings, and events that require gifts. Adulthood is expensive. I’m just so grateful to have landed this job when I did, because life just got turned up to 11.
Going forward, I’ll need to adjust the budget I had set at the beginning of the year to better reflect what my needs are currently. I still want to keep everything as low as possible, but things are already pretty different from January, and they’ll continue to change.