My Favorite $56 Ever.

I’m a relative budgeting newbie. I’ve almost always lived on the credit card float, and my answer to “Should we buy it?” is usually “I don’t know. I guess?”

“Lock it down,” said the text.
“That money is for April.”

That’s why I’m ecstatic to wrap up my first full month as a Seriously Hardcore Budgeter. Especially because I have a whopping $56* (and change) left in my “Household Needs” category – a catch-all for eating out, clothes, miscellaneous household stuff, and groceries.

I’ve never had any financial discipline, so that $56 means a lot to me. So much, in fact, that on the 27th of the month I sent my wife a text that said “$56 left in household needs category. Lock it down. That money is for April.

She’s a great sport, so she’s right there with me. Since then, I’ve had no transactions to enter in YNAB.** Nearly 96 hours without spending money.

Of course, NOT spending money isn’t the point. Flexing our budgeting muscles is the point. We’ve never holstered the plastic three days in a row before. Although I did go six days last summer without spending money. But that was only because I was on a desert backpacking trip with a bunch of scouts. Doesn’t exactly count as monk-like self restraint, does it?

Delicious Coke.

Glass bottles only. Because I’m a snob.

A spending fast is extremely healthy. Just like occasionally fasting from food, it gives you a little extra focus, a little extra gratitude, and a solid self esteem boost – because now you know you can.

*After I wrote this post, on or around 7pm, Saturday, March 30th, I may (or may not) have purchased the cola pictured at right from the nearby gas station for $1.59. Final category balance: $54ish.

**Other than the delicious cola.

13 Responses to “My Favorite $56 Ever.”

  1. David P.

    Fun post! I’m right with you with the glass bottle. But in my budget world, a Coke would never fall under “Household Needs.” Does your household actually need it? This would come out of my personal allowance.

    • mark

      Personal allowance makes a lot more sense. Because it was our first full month YNABing, we’re still refining our categories, but this month we do have our his and hers fun money categories.

      That said, you and I may have different definitions of “need.” :)

  2. Debt RoundUp

    Nice work Mark. It might not be a huge amount, but a surplus is a surplus none the less. Just think of what you can do if you continue this trend and how much you can save by using a strict budget.

    • mark

      Thanks Grayson! I can see how running a surplus will get addictive, fast. The budgeting lightbulb has finally flickered on.

  3. Alex

    Good to “hear” from you again, Mark. I gotta say that I’ve been enjoying your posts. You’re breathed new life into this part of my Google Reader subscription. Keep it up.

    • mark

      Thanks for the compliment, Alex! I’ll try to keep it entertaining.

  4. Mr. 1500

    $54 is still pretty cool. I dig your style, so I’ll pretend I didn’t see the Coke. I’ll also pretent I didn’t buy a diet Mountain Dew at 7/11

    • mark

      The occasional Diet Mt. Dew and Coke never hurt anyone, except for the people who consumed them.

  5. Lisa

    Inspiring. I would have spent that $54 at the local coffee shops. Something that I vow to work on this month.

    • mark

      Hope it goes well for you Lisa! I’m finding it easier to stop nickel and diming myself to death as I get more focused on my goals (where I can use those nickels and dimes).

      • Kathy Kardynalski

        I have noticed this too. Just 4 days into using YNAB and I’m noticing a lot more thought goes into those previously mindless trips to the vending machine. Not that I don’t still go, it’s just a conscious choice now. pretty cool

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