The title of “No Money New Year” is a bit of a misnomer in this case. After all, I live in the same society as you – one in which it is virtually impossible to survive without money. I need money to pay my rent, eat, buy gas, and do all sorts of other activities. So I’m not really attempting to live on NO money.
Just looking to cut back a bit.
I’m already a pretty darn frugal guy. I certainly do not live extravagantly nor do I spend money on “frivolous” things. I definitely know how to stretch the small amount of money I do make.
I also live in a fun college town with a big-time university which means that there are usually lots of fun and interesting things going on (which I don’t take advantage of as much as I should). Some are free, some have student discounts, and some are regularly priced. After a couple of months of spending far too much money (much of which were unforseen expenses, some others are from the holidays and whatnot), I’ve decided to try and cut spending in a big way, while still having fun and doing things (this means trying to keep a closer eye on some of these free and discounted activities).
In order to do this, Em and I have come up with a plan. We’re not just going to “cut back” and try to do more of these free or discounted activities without really knowing how much we’re spending (or saving).
What we’re doing instead, is giving ourselves a monthly budget – our “Fun Money.” The way we’ve worked this out is that at the beginning of each month, we will each make a cash donation (amount undisclosed here) to our fun money fund. Then, whenever we want to do something fun – dinner, drinks, movie, small trip, etc – we pay in cash using our fun money. As soon as we’re done with this money, we’re done for the month. If we happen to be under for the month, then our extra cash rolls forward (who knows, if we go a few months under, maybe a small trip or something else “extra” is in order).
This is a little different than simply just tracking money or trying to “cut back” in an abstract sense. This gives us a chunk of money to start with, and then we get to decide how to use it. We’ll have to look around for some of these discounted or free activities in order to maximize the amount of stuff that we can do in a given month. We will also have to give ourselves a budget on the nights when we do go out (ie. we’re only taking $25 to the bar tonight and when that runs out, we’ll have to be done for the night).
We thought that this would be kind of a fun way (and at times a challenge!) to save money and keep ourselves on a budget that we can afford (let’s face it – as grad students, we’re not making the big bucks) while still doing many of the fun things that there are to do around Bloomington. It will also encourage us to try some of these different activities that we haven’t taken advantage of as much as maybe we should.
So this will be our plan moving forward. Paying in cash and working within a given budget seems like a great way to keep ourselves on a budget while still having fun (actually seeing the money being spent instead of just putting it on a card is a great reminder that money is a finite resource!).
So while neither of us are really impulse or out of control spenders in the least, this will be a fun way to save a little money while getting us to try some new things and go beyond our normal routines.
I’ll probably blog about some of the more interesting and fun things that we end up finding to do here in Btown on the cheap.
PS. We already did our first “activity” the other night. We went to the IMU building to watch a FREE movie in a pretty nice auditorium. The movie was The Help which is a new movie and turned out to be really good. It made Em cry a bit and got me a little teary a few different times without being an overly sad movie – they did a great job of balancing the sad parts of the movie with humor and comic relief.
PPS. The movie snacks were only $1 each – drinks, candy bars, and popcorn. But we didn’t get any. Because we’re on a budget.
Maybe one month, we’ll have some extra money to splurge on the movie snacks!