Holy moly, it feels like we haven’t talked about numbers in a while. I’ve been so transfixed on all the ways minimalism has changed my life lately that I nearly forgot how to format this post. ;)
For new readers – and I know there are many of you, based on stats and all the wonderful emails and comments you’ve sent me this month (hi!) – this isn’t just a minimalism blog (contrary to the last many posts, hehe). I started Blonde on a Budget four years ago when I was maxed out with nearly $30,000 of debt and used it to stay accountable as I paid it all off. While I’ve branched into new topics, as I’ve taken on challenges like the shopping ban, my debt repayment journey will always be at the core of my story.
I don’t write about money as often as I used to, but I will always share my monthly budgets with you. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t started tracking my spending and figuring out how to budget my money. It’s second nature to me now, though – so much, in fact, that this month I actually challenged myself to not write a budget, track my spending or compare budgeted amounts vs. actual amounts spent. Instead, I wanted to see if I could just spend money and hit my usual targets. Let’s see how I did…
Life Expenses: 51%
One of the reasons I started the shopping ban last summer was because I realized I’d let some serious lifestyle inflation creep in since paying off the last of my debt. I was still writing budgets but not understanding why I couldn’t hit my goal to save 20% of my income each month. During the two years it took me to pay down my debt, there were months where I was allocating upwards of 55% of my income towards that one goal. Where was all that extra money going!? To restaurants and bookstores, mostly.
When I started the shopping ban, I decided to change the way I wrote my monthly budgets. Rather than map out a plan to save 20% and spend the rest, I wanted to try and live off as little as possible (50% being the ultimate goal) and save/travel with the rest. As you can see, it’s been working.
I will say, March was still an expensive month. I was home for most of it and the weather in the last half wasn’t great, so there were more lunch/dinner dates indoors with friends than our usual hiking adventures. And then it seemed to be the month where I ran out of absolutely everything, so I had to make a couple trips to Costco and Walmart. Oh, and let’s not forget that spring came early to Vancouver, which meant my allergies kicked in. (Thank goodness generic brands of allergy pills are all that work for me!)
I filed my taxes at the end of last month and found out I owed the government $385. It’s the first time I’ve ever owed money, but I was happy to pay it – means they haven’t been borrowing from me all year. ;)
I spent the first few days of the month in Victoria, BC, which is where I’m from. When I’m there, I stay with my parents (free) and visit with them and friends. So, this 7% was for my ferry cost + food.
Planned Spending: 5%
When my friend J. Money updated us on some of the money experiments he was doing, it inspired me to up the ante on how much I was putting in my “Shopping Ban” savings account each month. When I started in July, I was putting $100/month in there. As of this month, I’m now putting $250/month in this account. It’s now sitting at a clean $1,750. With only 3 months to go (98 days to be exact!), I should have $2,500 in there by July 6th. And I still have no idea how I’m going to spend it, haha.
Long-Term Savings: 29%
Finally, my goal now is to put 35% into long-term savings (namely retirement) each month, but the money I owed in taxes stole a little bit of that from me.
Overall, I’m really happy with how the numbers finished up in my first month without a budget! So, I think I’m going to try it again in April and see how I do for a second month. I will say: I would not recommend this to most people. I’ve just been budgeting for so many years now that I know I usually spend the same amounts on everything each month, I pay myself (a.k.a. save) first and my goals are always in the back of my mind, guiding any financial decisions I have to make.
I’ll likely write a budget in May, though, as I think I’ll be travelling for 90% of it. More on that later!
Goals for this month:
- Begin the 30-Day Minimalist Challenge – PASS! Today is Day 23, so I only have 1 week left!
- Read 2 books – PASS! I read On My Own Two Feet by Amy Purdy and Mother Mother by Koren Zailckas. I also started Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin (all about habits).
- Workout 15x –FAIL! But I worked out 14x, so that’s not an epic fail, haha.
How did your month finish up, friends!?
And new readers, I’m curious: where are you in your financial life right now? Are there any questions you have or topics you want to read about? This is an open space! Say whatever is on your mind. :)