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?”

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?

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.