My 30 day Fiscal Fast has drawn to a close. It was enlightening yet I can’t pretend I was entirely successful. I held back on updating you all over the last week or so because honestly it was difficult, I broke my no spend rules several times and it is hard to admit, I felt I had failed. The lessons I’ve learnt over the past 30 days about my spending habits were what made the experience worthwhile.
The last update I gave you I had set a budget of £30 a week for food and that was part way through week two so £75 in total. It turns out that entering the shops at all, especially when you are hungry, tired and taking two toddlers along for the ride, is a way to ensure you spend more than intended. It seemed that despite my meal planing and sparce shopping lists I was still caught by temptation. There was also one occasion in our final week where ‘mothers guilt” kicked in. I felt so bad that I had been saying no to nearly everything little M had asked me for over the past three weeks that when he asked so nicely for a super unhealthy, over priced, crushed ice drink, I couldn’t bring myself to say no. If I am honest I’m glad I didn’t. You see he’d had a tough tearful morning and the smile on his face was worth every penny on this occasion.
Let’s just say food expenses came in way over budget.
Here I learnt 4 lessons:
1. A large portion of our monthly expenditure goes on unnecessary, very yummy food purchases.
2. Budgets and shopping lists are great but they’ll only work well if you have the self-control to stick to them.
3. Mum guilt is a real thing.
4. Reducing the frequency of the treats we all consume means they are far more valuable and enjoyable to us when we do. The smiles such treats can bring to the face of a child when they are given them so rarely is priceless.
My next expenditure hit my savings account pretty hard. Mr 101pursuits decided a 365 piece comprehensive tool kit was needed for work and I was determined if we were going to make such a large purchase that we sure better get it whilst it was on sale.
Lesson 5 – sometimes it pays in the long run to take advantage of deals and discounts.
Lesson 6 – Always make sure the entire family is on board with this no spend thing otherwise you’ll find they are busy making plans for those penny’s you were trying to save.
The thing I missed the most this month was buying books! I realised that I spend a fortune on books, buying two or three kindle books a week. I’m calling this lesson a book detox. I got to catch up on books I hadn’t read yet and also made good use of the library where I found some real gems. Our library visit lasted two hours in total and I had a great time reading with the littles. M even read his very first 5 page story (with a bit of prompting of course). The downside was that I did forget to take a few library books back on time and had to pay around 40p in fines. Guess that won’t break the bank.
Lesson 7 – I have a slight addiction to books though I believe I already knew that.
Lesson 8 – It’d be wise not buy any more books untill I’ve read the ones I own and to make use of the local library.
Lesson 9 – Free kindle books are great and some are even unabridged which is a bonus.
Lesson 10 – Libraries make great educational day trips and are an endless source of inspiration for us all.
My final failure was just a couple of days before we reached the finish line. I talked myself out of feeling guilty by telling myself we were only a few days from the end, what difference did it make if I made these purchases today or a few days down the line? The result another faliure to add to the list; a soduku book, colouring book and pencils to find a home for plus some really awful passport photos. In total my non food purchases this month came to. …
Lesson 11 – Soduku has many benefits for the whole family (this deserves a post all of its own so stay tuned for that one)
Here’s the biggest lesson I learnt
Lesson 12 – It pays to wait.
Despite all my hiccups, rule bending and breaking I still spent far less this month than usual. I made a fair bit of progress towards my financial goals. I didn’t buy everything I desired over these past 30 days and it turns out I do have some will power after all. I told myself that if I still wanted those things when the 30 days over, if we really needed them, then I would buy them. Guess what. I can’t remember half the things I’d been tempted to purchase and there is only four items I am still pondering on.
It seems I’ve developed quite the habit of questioning and analysing each of my desires before I set to purchase anything new. Provided I steer clear of shops as much as possible and avoid that clever marketing that gets me impulse buying on the spot, I think I’ll reach my financial goals a bit easier in the future.
So what next?
When I first wrote about attempting a fiscal fast I mentioned that I’d like to attempt 3 months. I think it’s clear that isn’t likely to happen. I still have goals. I still what to keep my out goings to the minimum but I would like to take the children to soft play and to swimming this month, the car needs petrol, I’d love a big chocolate bar maybe even a Chinese takeout and of course the cupboards need stocking. So I’ve decided that I am going to try a few new things over the next month.
1. Thinking over purchases that aren’t food related for a few weeks has really helped. I read once about a family who used to keep a list of all the things they considered purchasing. Each item stayed on the list for 30 days if after those 30 days the item wasn’t wanted anymore it was removed from the list. It was great for the children too (who have a habit of being rather flippant with their wants) as they knew their desires were being heard but they certainly didn’t get everything they asked for.
Im going to give this ago and keep a wish list myself. At the end of the month I’ll go through and strike them off one by one and see what we are left with.
2. I’m going to reduce our food waste by sticking to the meal plans each week and also weighing out ingredients prior to cooking based on recommended portion sizes.
3. I will continue to make use of the library and will not purchase any books this month.
4. I will set a budget for our day trips and take only that amount with us in cash so it will be impossible to over spend (I may even do this with food shopping too).
There you have it. No spending challenges are just that, “a challenge”. I didn’t manage to avoid spending completely but I did learn some valuable things along the way.
Have you tried any spending challenges recently? Let me hear about them in the comments below.