I am happy to report that at the end of June I finished my Spending Diet! For a year, I spent only $100 each month on unnecessary stuff. I can’t believe it’s over! There for a while, I thought it would never end, but now it feels like it went by so quickly.
For the most part, I succeeded in my plan. There’s been some unexpected expenses along the way, life’s all about unexpected expenses, am I right?! But overall, I stuck to my guns and drum roll, please…
I saved $12,441.99 on my Spending Diet!
I was hoping to save $15,000, but considering that I saved about half of my paycheck each month, I consider this a huge success. I also don’t plan on going back to my old ways, so I think I’ll hit my $15,000 goal in a few months.
I know that everyone’s life is different and different money tricks will work for different people. Here’s some tips and tricks that worked for me during my Spending Diet.
6 Top Lessons I Learned From My Year-Long Spending Diet
1. Stay Positive
Staying positive, for me, was the most important aspect of success during this journey. It was so easy to feel negative about how much I was saving. And yes, sometimes I even compared myself to Anna. She paid off almost $24,000 in debt in 15 months! That’s amazing, but with my income, that number simply wasn’t do-able. I had to focus on what I was able to save in a healthy and sustainable way. Which brings me to my next most important tip…
2. Automate Your Savings
Automating my savings was a huge help. Prior to the Spending Diet, I would pull money into my savings each month at different times and each time I’d pull different amounts. There wasn’t a lot of rhyme or reason to it. (And many times I’d end up pulling it back into my checking account!) At the beginning of the Spending Diet, I set up a separate bank account with a separate bank that pulls out $1,000 each month into that account. I don’t have a debit card for that account, so there’s no way for me to spend that money without some hassle. This worked great for me because I hate hassle! Automating my savings made it much easier to save.
3. Use Cash
Prior to the Spending Diet I didn’t think of money as tangible. I love technology and the ease of online banking, but the numbers on the screen didn’t feel real. By using paper money, I got into the habit of thinking of money as tangible. I could easily look into my wallet and see that I had $15 left to spend that month and maybe going out to eat wasn’t such a good idea.
4. Tell People What You are Doing
I think part of my success with the Spending Diet was due to the fact that I was open with my family and friends about what I was doing. My family and friends were also very supportive of my plan. If they were not supportive, I think it would have been too tempting to say “Yes” to every outing and too hard to say “No.” My friends and I would go to each other’s houses and cook dinner instead of going out to eat. My mom helped me find coupons when my work clothes were threadbare and my dad gave me an investing handbook for my birthday.
5. Plan ahead
During the Spending Diet I still wanted to have a life. I knew that it would be difficult at times. For example, I had already planned to go to a friend’s wedding in Canada in June. We had bought the plane tickets before I even started the Spending Diet but we hadn't yet reserved the hotel room or paid for the meals. I knew that this would severely cut into my budget. We went to the wedding with friends, so we split hotel rooms, used coupons and Groupons and brought our own alcohol and snacks. Tacky, maybe, but we had a blast and I spent a fraction of what I’d normally spend on a vacation.
I also planned my lunch and snacks each day for work so I wouldn’t be tempted by the lure of eating out at lunchtime. Eating out at lunch was one of my guiltiest pleasures because it got me out of the office. Now I take my lunch outside or go just go to a different building at work to have a change of scenery during lunch.
6. Room for improvement
I know that there’s always room for improvement. To this day, I still have trouble estimating our grocery costs. I try to grocery shop once a month and use everything in our fridge and cupboards before I go to the store again, but I often find myself struggling to make something with 5 cans of beans and 2 cups of milk. And then caving and going to the store. I know if I planned our meals more carefully I could cut way down on the food bill.
Now that it’s over, I’m getting a lot of questions about what I’ll buy first. I don’t have plans to make any big purchases, but I do plan on signing up for the gym again. I miss working out in that type of environment and it’s much easier for me to work out at a gym than at home. Jumping around and lifting weights in my tiny home can be a struggle. But other than that, I have no big plans.
When I started the Spending Diet, I thought that I’d be saving money to buy a home. Now I’m not so sure. We love living in our Airstream and it’s been a huge part of helping me save money. I will still be automating my savings and the lessons I’ve learned from this process has really made me evaluate my wants and my needs. I’d also like to start some sort of side hustle. I’ve been saving as much as I can, but the income from my full-time job is very limited.
I’m so glad that I went through this process. It was incredibly difficult at times and most months I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster, but I made it through. I know that I can do hard things and that I can save money. I want to thank you all for following me through this journey. Your encouragement truly helped me get through it. – Melanie
Melanie’s Official Year-Long Spending Diet Stats:
Month 11 & 12 Savings: $1,841.99
Started the Spending Diet: July 1, 2014
Savings total: $12,441.99
Have you been following along with Melanie's journey? Would you consider doing a Spending Diet? What would be the hardest and easiest parts for you to tackle?
P.S. Read up on all the Spending Faster and Spending Dieter stories. Then, sign the Get Out of Debt pledge and get out of debt already!
P.P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp! SpendingFastBootcamp.com