On January 1st, I began my first 31-day challenge of the year. The goal: to not watch TV for an entire month. On the first day, I quickly realized that the toughest habit to break would be watching TV while I ate, so I decided I would allow myself to watch one TED Talk during dinner. Five or six days into the challenge, I realized why I’d been able to get through so many seasons of TV on Netflix last year: it wasn’t that I actually wanted to watch it all, I just wanted some noise to fill the silence. So, on top of watching my one TED Talk, I started listening to a lot of podcasts, in an attempt to break the silence.
It’s been 6 months and 20 days since I started my yearlong shopping ban. That’s 204 days of not buying clothes, shoes, books, notebooks, electronics, household items, nail polish… or takeout coffee (other than when I’m travelling). I’ve purchased a few of the things from the approved shopping list I created at the beginning, as well as groceries and toiletries – and that’s it. Even though I’ve only recently crossed the halfway mark in this 365-day journey, I don’t think it’s too soon for me to tell you: it’s changed me forever – and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to being the type of consumer I was before.
It’s been a while since I’ve written a post like this, but there are a few questions that keep popping up in my inbox and in comments: Do you budget monthly or per paycheque? If you have money leftover in your account before your next payday, what do you do with it? Do you keep a buffer in your chequing account? And how do you really track your spending?
When I first started reading these questions, I thought, “haven’t I already answered these!?”. But in looking at my budget template and posts on how to write a budget, it doesn’t look like I have – at least not in one post! So, for those of you who asked, I haven’t been ignoring your questions; I just decided to answer them here, for all first-time budgeters (and financial voyeurs) to read.