Could you spend a year with (almost) no spending?
In the July 31st Calgary Herald online, I read the following article by Annalise Klingbeil: Frugal friends to loosen purse strings after year of no spending. What an excellent minimalist exercise!
To help a flood victim find new accommodations, Geoffrey Szuszkiewicz offered friend Julie Phillips a room in his place. However, apparently there was not much room for her because of all of his stuff! So after a decluttering exercise, they had a discussion about purchasing habits and they tried out an experiment. They started out slowly with reducing certain “consumer goods and household items” and eventually they reduced spending on services, “from haircuts to transportation and dining out”. The end result? A lot of money saved up and a new outlook on what is important to them!
What struck me in this story was the concept of defining what was necessary (groceries, rent, utilities, toilet paper…) and then making conscious choices on the rest. Ride a bike instead of taking transit. Rather than buying new clothes, get donations from friends. A dental emergency required a swift decision for using money, as well as there was ‘conscious cheating’ such as buying a bridesmaid dress for a wedding Phillips was asked to attend. How could I adapt their endeavour to my minimalist approach in life?
First step: assess purchasing habits
Why spend less? Well, I am carrying some debt. If I could save some money, I could clear that debt faster and stop paying charges and interest. I believe I could save money without putting a big dent in my lifestyle. This requires me to cut out ‘unnecessary’ spending. So what am I buying? I admit that there are many categories of purchasing so I will require some time to assess them all! Therefore, for September, I will keep track of what is going where – some transactions are obvious such as buying lunch when working away from my home office, but some things I don’t really pay attention to such as automatic billing on technical services. When the month is done, I should have a clear picture of what will likely be a shocking image of where my cash goes!
Next step: choose my choices
I would like to try out a ‘less’ spending month. From my list of expenditures, I will pick several that I can eliminate during the month of October. Although tricky to budget as a self employed person, I will determine if I can capture that money I would have spent and consciously apply it to my debt.
See what happens and assess how I feel! Not only do I want to save money, but I would like to reduce the amount of garbage I create (paper cups and treat bags!) and pick up new habits such as finding alternatives to going out for entertainment. I know that being thoughtful about what food I buy will reduce the amount of calories and fat that I consume and this will be better for my health. In regards to business, I have been buying whatever I thought I needed during my transition time but perhaps there are some memberships I don’t require anymore or magazines I don’t actually get around to reading.
This is not about depriving myself. It is about applying value to what I buy. If I truly need it, then get it! And enjoy treats every now and again, as long as I think about it first. Point is, pay attention to how making a purchase (or not) will serve me best.
I will chart my progress during September and October 2014 on my Facebook page and Twitter. Want to give it a try with me?