Monday, September 3, 2012

No-Shop-September Challenge

Woah, August hit our budget like a hammer.  Upcoming wedding, a few trips, shopping due to work stress (me) and boredom (also me), coupled with depleted savings from Furnacegate and some minor car repairs has us currently staring down the first week of September with not-so-much in our bank account.  Less than awesome.

I am a naturally competitive person--debating, coaching, shopping, eating, you name it, I will beat you at it.  (Not drinking though--it makes me sleepy.)  So this month I am competing against myself to spend as little as possible.  This is fantastic because I really don't spend all that much on big-ticket items, but I am the "latte factor" queen.  Lunch at the O-Club for $6?  Afternoon coffee at the Coffee Mess instead of in my office (doubly absurd as I have a Keurig)?  Random stuff I don't really need (but is shiny! and I am a magpie!) at Target?  Dinner out when I stay late for my debate meeting twice a week?

In the words of Liz Lemon (my spiritual guru), "Not on my watch, beyotch.  S that D.  Shut it down."

I don't know if you realize this, but Christmas is like 3 and a half months away, and in addition to a Imperial Princess of the Blood/Fashionista child, we have a pretty large extended family and lots of friends that we like to treat nicely, in case we need a kidney later; plus, we're going to CapitalismLand Disney World in December and we'll need some cash for that.  Further, I always make a pilgrimage to the J Crew Clearance Centers (yes, there are 2 in Lynchburg) when I take the debate team to Liberty in November, and I'd like to have a little surplus to use on myself and CJ there.

So it's time to save!

My strategies include:
*Cash, not plastic--I'm going to take out $40/week for "fun", max.  When it's gone, it's gone.  If I don't spend all of it, I'll take out enough to get myself back up to $40 but no more.  I'm still going to use the debit card for grocery shopping (we have the Target one with 5% back) and for gas (a fixed cost and easier to do when you're just swiping at the pump).
*People, not "stuff"--a lot of the food expenses I incur are from needing a social interlude to break up working in my office on Tuesdays/Thursdays.  It just dawned on me that I can still walk up to the coffee bar with friends for the chat and the movement--I just don't need to BUY anything.  Similarly, we can bring lunches and eat them together in our offices or the faculty lounge, instead of walking half a mile to the O-Club.
*STOP shopping online, including browsing--I do this out of boredom.  Shopping online feels like nothing to me; I don't feel the money leaving my hands (cash or plastic), I don't get whatever it is instantly, and when it comes in the mail, half the time I'm surprised because I barely remember ordering it.  This feels like borderline addictive behavior to me so it's best to cut it off cold turkey.

I hope to save up enough money in September and October to pad our savings account a little and to have money to Christmas shop with in November and December.  The good news is that my travel schedule is about to get ridiculous, so I probably won't even notice spending less, and after eating out all weekend with my team I'll probably welcome making my own food/coffee during the week.


  1. This is a really really really good idea. Thanks for pointing out how not-so-far-away Christmas is. I have a hard time thinking that far ahead sometimes. =P I may have to come up with a plan for myself as well.

    1. Thanks Carol! I had been thinking of doing a 30-for-30 challenge but September is such a weird month weather-wise that I didn't want to limit myself. CJ actually tipped me off to how close Christmas was...the benefits of having a little kid!