Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Monday, December 31, 2012


'Tis the season for delicious excess...

I will try not to spend any money, on anything (did you notice the emphasis on try?).

“Don't tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I'll tell you what they are.”   -James W. Frick

I have been thinking about trying this for a while, and want to thank Leo for the nudge I needed to choose the most consumption focused season to focus on it – the month when people BUY MORE STUFF and so many companies are urging us to BUY EVEN MORE, for others and ourselves!    So why am I fighting it?   I basically wanted to become more conscious overall about what and how I spend, and this was a serious way to address this issue.  Although I have been fairly frugal in the past few years and set up a monthly budget here that I stick to for the most part, I still find myself occasionally making purchases I obviously don’t need, and sometimes regret - sound familiar?  Especially during the holidays when temptation lurks around every corner…

How it went
I planned ahead.  I stocked up on household groceries (including several frozen items), filled up the gas tank, and bought some Christmas gifts, stamps for holiday cards, and made a donation to one of my favorite charities.  November 30 was quite the shopapalooza day, including lunch with a friend.  I spent the big bucks, and it was exhausting.  By that night I was eager to get started and give the credit cards a well deserved rest for the month. 

My rules were simple:  Try not to spend any new money (cash, check, or plastic) on anything.  Recurring necessary expenses that were already set up for auto-pay, like cell phone, Netflix, etc were exempt.  This was pretty unrealistic as I discovered and I ended up allowing myself a $100 emergency fund for new purchases.  Generally I resisted temptation – especially the holiday shopping special emails, which were instantly deleted from my inbox before even reading them.  I noticed more of them than ever this year – it seemed every company I had ever bought anything from online was trying to entice me back into their customer fold.  I also avoided physical stores even more than usual.  What was difficult was going to a charity event the first week of the month where raffle tickets were sold and not buying one.  And not chipping in at the monthly dinner with friends (I am going to cover next month instead).  And no occasional splurging - like lunch, or a new shirt, or anything else just because I think “I deserve it.”

Cool FREE Stuff
Yay for free parking (after meter hours) in the City of Angels!
Not shopping freed up some time in my schedule, and I took the time to appreciate all the freebies, like:
·      Walks on the beach - cliché yes, but so much better than a walk through the mall, and less risky too
·      Connecting with friends and family in person, just sharing stories and spending time together
·      Online book recordings and streaming TV shows (I only watch a few of the good ones, really)
·      Parking in downtown Los Angeles – I hunted for a (metered during the day) spot at night, and actually found one
·      Holiday cookies – they were everywhere this month, and alas I took full advantage!

The Downfalls
Although this experiment was mostly a success, I did exceed over my $100 limit a bit:  I spent $50 on an early entry to a running race next year and saved over 30% by doing so, $20 each on gas and groceries, and $15 on a Groupon to one of my favorite local restaurants (splurge weak moment on Christmas eve).  A few other small purchases included $1.95 for a domain name (a screaming deal!) for my upcoming website, and a few more dollars to send a holiday package to a friend in Italy, a few dollars for a tip on a gift card meal, and a few quarters to a friend for her parking meter for a total of  $122.73.

A Shout Out to our Major Sponsor
A few friends helped me along the way in various situations this month which I sincerely appreciated, and I have to especially thank my other half for his patience and extra help with the household groceries, as well as expenses during our travels to visit family for Christmas - I couldn’t have done it without you!

Overall I found it hardest to resist the truly useful bargains, but easy to resist so much else.  And each of the purchases I did make were thoughtful and conscious, which I intend to carry forward.  How about you - want to try something like this?  What's your motivation, and your rules?

P.S.  I did accomplish the 30 hours of working on my new website task leftover from last month - including (finally) deciding on and buying the domain name.  I had some excellent help and will be moving forward and launching this project in the new year, so stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Inspiring! I really need to do this. Congratulations on resisting the consumerism cliff of Christmas!