For the longest time, I kept seeing all these bloggers challenge themselves to save money. I'd read a stream of income report posts, how to budget, tips for saving...you see where this is going. Finally, I decided I was going to do it myself! I chose January to make amends with my bank account after some serious holiday spending. After I chose my month, I was a bit nervous because I realized it was also my birthday month, but alas -- that actually worked in my favor. So, how did I do it? I'm so glad you asked!
First things first, I paid all of my January bills early, so I was able to pocket all of the money I normally spend on my student loan and annoying adult bills for the month. The total savings there was $570.
Next, I took $150 and put it in an envelope. That was all I was allowed to spend on random coffee stops, trips to Target, drinks and dinners out. $150 for 31 days -- that's it! I write a bar column, so I decided almost immediately that I would need to save my funds for drinks out, which meant not buying stupid shit at Target or online on a whim. When my envelope money was gone, that was it! I wound up only using $100 of my $150, so I was able to pocket another $50.
I also took the money we spend per month on groceries and slashed it in half. I know...ballsy. But I really wanted to challenge myself to 1. Use more of what is already in my refrigerator by meal planning and 2. SAVE MONEY. Doing this allowed me to pocket an additional $200. Admittedly, we ate a lot of protein shakes toward the end of the month.
In terms of making extra money, I sold some household appliances, gently used clothing and outdoor furniture. I was surprised by just how much stuff we have that never gets used. I emptied closets, drawers and our garage and sent many things on their merry way! I also picked up two freelance gigs -- one writing and one editing -- that I don't normally have. These actions combined helped big time, as I was able to add $750 to my growing savings total.
During the month, I also made $50 using Swagbucks and $25 from affiliate ad networks here on my blog.
And because it was my birthday month, I also got a little spending cash in a couple of cards! The total was $50 and I never have or carry cash, so it was definitely a real treat!
So, if you're keeping track, that's $1,695 sweet, sweet dollars in one single month. Honestly, I did not have high hopes for myself and by the middle of the month, I wanted to go shopping worse than ever before. But! 3 weeks in, I sort of felt like I was in a competition with myself and wanted to beat myself, even though I didn't really have a standard set. Hell, I would have been happy saving $50 and calling it even.
I would highly recommend this sort of challenge to anyone! Have you ever done a spending freeze?