How I Failed My Budget (& other January Reflections)

What Happens When You Fail Your Budget

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Back in early January, I outlined the first 31 days of 2019 in this post. ICYMI: I made a budget for the first time in my 33 years AND (going big) decided to have a NO SPEND MONTH. Here’s how it went:

Budget Update:

I spent the majority of my car rides in 2018 listening to podcasts. My favorites include Dave Ramsey, Chelsea with The Financial Diet, and Tasha at One Big Happy Life. These folks got me thinking about how I personally handle my money and how I could improve. While they all differ in approaches, the general starting advice is the same: know where your money is going. Aside from my monthly bills, I never truly tracked how each dollar was being allocated. So, I declared 2019 the year of financial success. I built a budget spreadsheet modeling Tasha’s and resolved no uneccesary spending.

And guess what happened next…

I failed.

Girl, did I fail! Spectacularly. More specifically, I failed at not buying Diet Coke, over spending on clothing, making excuses to buy for Caleigh, and in so many other categories. In dollars, I went $250 over not spending. Based on the fact that one of my 30 day challenges was to NOT spend and I did – oh how I did! – this is a failure, right?

Wrong.

What I Learned

Throughout this budget challenge, I learned what I do actually spend my money on. I know where it’s going (including where it SHOULD be going). I also thought through most of my purchases. While this is something I know I should be doing 100% of the time, I don’t. I can be an impulsive shopper and yes, it does make me feel good to bring home something new. But I reigned myself in. I compared past months and I spent SO MUCH LESS than I normally would (it’s embarrassing how much less actually). This experiment has also taught me to value what I do have, which is definitely more than I need.

What’s Next

Will every month be a no spend month? No. Absolutely no. But, I will do this again. Perhaps it can be a quarterly attempt. For February, my financial goal is to pay off ONE of my smaller student loans. Baby steps, friends. Now that I know where my money tends to go, I might be able to put it where it SHOULD go.

30 Day Challenges

Admittedly, I failed at all of my challenges this month. The 30 Day Ab Challenge was more like an 18 Days of Trying Challenge (no, I do not have a six pack from 18 whole days of ab things), but it’s 18 more days of core work than I likely would have gotten. Tomorrow begins a 10 Day Challenge that’s a dietary cleanse (and yes, I checked with my doctor). It’s not something I’d recommend to all, but my gut needs it. I’m NOT looking forward to it, but I have high hopes for some results.

How did your January go? Are you looking forward to what this month has to bring? Do you have new resolutions or personal growth challenges?

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