From time to time in the Burns household we take an entire month to tighten our fiscal belt. This year we declared March to be our “no money” month. Along with attempting to reduce reoccurring expenses (phone bills, cable bills, etc), we also attempt to live more simply. That means putting back impulse buys at the grocery store, not eating out for any meals, and generally not buying things that aren’t a “need” (which is just about everything).
The process as a whole is beneficial. For one, we end up saving money. The other benefit is the exposure of where my heart finds joy.
In doing this, I often find out how much I really love stuff… and buying stuff. During pervious “no money” months I have actually felt physically agitated at not being able to simply “go grab a _____ at the _____.” The agitation is good. It is a helpful reminder of how addicted I have become to getting what I want, whenever I want it. I am reminded that my true joy will never be in the accumulation of things, but that my life often looks that way. It is a humble reminder.
As I said, there is also a financial benefit from this discipline. Besides the money we save from simply not buying “extra” stuff, we also take the month to reduce as many bills as possible. This March was, I believe, the most successful we’ve been at this. Check out this breakdown:
- Car Insurance: Was $250 per 6 months; Renegotiated to $162 per 6 months. Yearly Savings = $176
- Cable: Was $140 per month (Cable + Internet); Cut cable & switched internet provider for $45 per month. Yearly Savings = $1140
- Health Insurance: Was $470 per month; Changed provider (and got better coverage!) $363 per month. Yearly Savings = $1284
- Cell Phone: Was $84 per month; Switching to Republic Wireless at $30 a month. Yearly Savings = $648
TOTAL YEARLY SAVINGS = $3,248
Bike to Work: I didn’t include this in the numbers above because there are a lot of moving variables. A rough estimate is that I can save (with gas at $3.40 +/-) at least $5 every day I ride to work. If I bike just 2 days a week, the savings over a year would be $520. But I notice that when I drive to work I’m much more inclined to go out for lunch (call it $10) or run an extra errand (more gas + whatever I buy). Then, if you want to figure in “wear and tear” on the truck… Like I said, lots of variables. All things considered, I feel very comfortable saying that 1 day of bike commuting saves me an average of $8-10. My target is to bike at least 3 days a week, knowing some weeks I’ll do more and some weeks I’ll do less. So, let’s call the yearly average at 3 times per week. The estimated yearly savings would be: $1248-$1560
TOTAL YEARLY SAVINGS = $4,256 – $4,568
So, there you have it. You ready for your turn? Pick a month and go for it:
- Just the Basics January
- Financial Freedom February
- No Money March
- ___ April (Anyone got a name for this one?)
- Mo Money May
- Just the Basics June
- Why Buy July
- ____ August (Little name help?)
- Super Saving September
- ____ October (Yeah, how about this one?)
- Not Necessary November
- Debt Free December