The one thing this month that has kept me from irrationally and impulsively spending money has been my job. I’m very, very busy. I’m learning a lot about accounting and business management. I’ve only been able to slightly recognize the resentment I’m feeling towards my salary losing its hourly value as I exceed 40 hours every week. I’m so excited for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Xmas New Years beaks so I can spend time with family and friends. I’m still driven to get rid of my credit card debt even if it’s going to take a little longer than I hoped.
I’m unusually busy because I’m helping to fill in for the company’s Controller who is out on maternity leave. Over the last 5 weeks I’ve worked an average of 10.5 highly concentrated hours a day that leave my brain fried and my body exhausted from sitting and staring at a screen. I’ve been getting in to the office between 7:00am and 7:30am and getting out of the office between 5:30pm and 7:00pm which is the peak window of time for Boston gym rats to be abusing treadmills (DO NOT WALK ON A TREADMILL!). So, for exercise I made the 1.5 mile walk home from downtown at least 4 days a week instead to spare myself fury. Also, I was stricken with a bizarre week-long lung-eating virus that kept me laying low to recover.
All of that being said, since the last weekend in September is drawing to a close and there are only two weekdays left, I consider my Spending Fast virtually over.
- I paid off my credit card with the highest interest rate, and I’m down to 4 cards with a balance of $8,975.32 between all of them.
- I learned the value of meal planning and having an arsenal of tupperware. Rice and oatmeal are great for breakfast, and the huge mason jars of dal in my cupboards were put to good use in soups.
- It wasn’t that much of a revelation, but wine is a NEED, not a want. Last weekend I blew $20 of my $200 on a Bota Box, and it was a brilliant decision.
- My freelance tapered off for the last couple weeks, so I’m missing out on an additional $400 that I was expecting to earn.
- I fell short of my $1,400 Credit card payment goal by about $110. Since I was short that extra $400, I decided to forecast and budget the final three months of the year, and I figured I couldn’t commit the extra money to a payment if I wanted to get out of Boston for the holidays.
- With all of the travel I have coming up (can we just saw Connecticut and Long Island off the country so Boston can be closer to New York?) and the uncertainty of my freelance income, I won’t be able to maintain such drastic credit card payments for the next three months. I’ll be able to afford about $302/month, but anything I receive from freelance will boost that number.
There’s always next year to pick up on the big payments again. January, February, and March should be good months for me to bring back the Spending Fast and get back in the swing of $800/month payments. Hopefully this year my bonus is as good as what I’m hoping so I can use some of it to pay down debt and the rest to put towards outings in New York and a vacation in the spring.
Budget for October
From now until the end of the year, I have a decent idea of what my expenses are going to be. There isn’t too much activity until November and December, but I need to purchase tickets for travel before the prices blow up and the availability is slim. I consider this a Spending Diet because I’m still giving myself a strict budget for what I can spend on food, travel, and everything else. I miss mani-pedis. I miss impulse buying makeup. Here’s what I’ve got coming up for next month:
- My Birthday Weekend: $100.
- A friend from New York is visiting from 10/11-10/13 (my birthday and Columbus Day). $100 is not a lot of money, but if the weather is good we can put it towards picnic food and a bottle of wine to bring the Esplanade, brunch in my apartment, or a really fun night at a dive bar with PBR on tap. I don’t really care what we do, I’m just so excited that my friend is coming to visit me. This will be a $100 ATM withdrawal. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
- My friend Caitlyn’s Wedding in Bushwick: $300.
- A friend of mine from the writing program at Pratt is getting married in Brooklyn the weekend of 11/8. For the first time in eight years, I’m going to take the Boston-New York bus. That’ll be about $60 roundtrip, and hopefully not as uncomfortable of a ride as I remember. Dramamine, ahoy! The rest covers a gift for the couple, food, drinks, and misc. entertainment while in Brooklyn. The best part about this trip is that I’ll get to hang out with some of the girls from my studio AND my husband and I will be staying with some of our good friends in Bushwick and repaying them with a glorious brunch and lots of hugs and kisses. I’ll pay for the bus/metrocard and the gift with my debit card, and the other $150 will be an ATM withdrawal. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
- Thanksgiving Flight: $150-$300
- My husband and I will be going to New Jersey/New York for Thanksgiving weekend. I’m really lucky that my office shuts down on the Friday after Thanksgiving so I have a four day weekend, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go on this trip and I’d be sulking at home alone for the whole thing. Tickets for a roundtrip flight are at $391 right now. For now, I want to just splurge on the flight there to get it out of the way, then investigate a cheaper return. Bus for $30/person? Rental Car split between the two of us at $100ish per person including gas? I’m loading $300 onto my American Express Serve card to keep a cap on what I spend for this one.
- Food/Groceries/Entertainment: $200
- Once again this month, I’m going for the $200 budget here. I was successful with it in September because I stocked up on pantry food (gotta learn to embrace carbs), and my husband picked up his share of food for the household. This will be loaded onto my American Express Serve card again
Making such a concerted effort to save money and pay off bills has been a somewhat painful but necessary experience. Being so frugal has made me feel really lame and stressed out sometimes, but from now on I think that I’ll need someone to hit me over the head with a heavy object for me to forget the lessons learned this month.