My Spending Ban and How I Utterly Failed

I’ve officially completed my October spending ban and the results are in! As I mentioned in my previous post about trying out my first spending ban, I wanted to see if I could cut back on my spending in October because I was starting to see a trend of me spending more than I liked.

The past few months have been pretty expensive with buying a new work wardrobe for my new job, going to Montreal for a mini-vacay and New Orleans for FinCon, and indulging in a few too many personal treats, so leading up to Christmas I really wanted to start saving aggressively again.

Now, what I forgot to mention in my previous post was that my goal was to stay within $300 for the month. That amount is what I give myself to spend on entertainment, socializing, and personal purchases and services every month. The rest of my money goes to monthly bills and savings. To give you an idea of how my monthly budget is broken down, here’s a snapshot from the finance spreadsheet I keep for myself.

Yes, I love dividing my money into buckets. For me, it just makes life so much simpler. And in case you’re wondering, the shopping fund is for gifts, clothes, and other things like a new computer or phone.

Also, the reason I highlighted my travel fund and shopping fund in blue is because I will eventually spend that money, unlike my TFSA, RRSP, and emergency fund (hopefully!) which are savings accounts I never touch. So even though my month-to-month cost of living is less than half of my income, if you include my future travel plans, gifts and big personal purchases, my cost of living is really 62.68%.

Anywho, although I try to stay within my $300 budget every month, I’ve probably been going over that amount and thus dipping into my travel and shopping funds since at least the Spring. So this past month I tried my best not to buy anything. I made the free coffee at work; I made my lunch almost every day; and I tried my best to avoid buying anything that I didn’t really need. Here’s what actually happened.

As you can see, I like to eat and drink…a lot. To be fair, I did pretty good on not buying too much take-out coffee, but I probably didn’t need to buy $10 worth of candy and I definitely could have avoided buying my lunch at work more if I had planned better in advance. All in all, even though I really did try to ban myself from buying a bunch of stuff, I still spent $144.23 over my allotted budget. Then again, I think the reason I didn’t go over by much more was because I was constantly reminding myself all month not to buy anything.

So, was this spending ban a success? Well, if you look at the numbers I utterly failed. I went over my budget and ate out way to much. That being said, my fear that it would make me rebel and spend way more instead of cut back was never realized. I think doing this spending ban actually helped me refocus and pay more attention to each and every purchase I made.

After looking at my spending for October, I’ve decided that I’m going to do the same thing for November. I’m hoping that this month I can actually hit my goal of spending no more than $300 per month. I’ve done it before (you don’t even want to know how little I spent when I was first living on my own), so I know I can do it again. Especially since my HB and I are seriously thinking about buying our first place in the new year and that sure ain’t cheap.

How do you track your spending each month? Do you put yourself on periodical spending bans to get back on track with your savings?

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