Sunday, November 2, 2014

Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

Two reasons for the post title:
1. I was Janis Joplin for Halloween this weekend.(See below)
2. I've decided to challenge myself to "No Spend November" this month. 

Freeing Myself of Debt

As a recent college graduate supporting myself in an apartment with one roommate, I am no stranger to financial struggle. I make enough to cover those essentials (rent, utilities, internet, groceries) but I find myself with little left over, and zero available to save. I also opened two credit cards (both with $1,000 limits) within the past year. I got the first one to help pay for a summer course I needed to graduate, and then opened another because I still didn't have enough during my transition between graduating and beginning my first full-time job. 

I planned to pay them both off and revert back to my debit card once I began working. The problem is, that still hasn't happened. 

I don't consider my lifestyle plush or frivolous, but there are areas where I need to cut back. Those $8-10 lunches at work add up, as do the concert tickets, beers, and random splurges at Target (even IF they're from the sales rack, which mine often are.) I spend a lot on gas and groceries, and need a structured budget to keep my cashflow in check. I want to free myself from the need of excess things

As Chuck Palahniuk tells us in Fight Club, “The things you own end up owning you. It's only after you lose everything that you're free to do anything.”

So I've decided to participate in No Spend November, a challenge to freeze spending on non-essentials during the month of November, when holiday purchases and consumerism typically runs rampant. For me, it's more about giving myself a head start to permanently changing my budget and spending habits. I figure if I can go an entire month without unnecessary spending, I'll be in a better place for saving and spending responsibly for the rest of the year. This is going to become especially important when February rolls around, marking the end of my student loan grace period. 

As part of this challenge, I'll be writing down every penny that I do spend, and using that information to create a sustainable budget and savings plan for months to come.

Allowable Expenses:
+ Utilities (Typically around $40 for my share)
+ Internet ($20)
+ Gas
+ Groceries
+ Gym membership ($30)
+ Netflix ($7.99)
+ Tom's birthday Nov. 17 (modest spending)

+ Pay off one of my credit cards entirely.
+ Set up a savings account and begin adding to it. 
+ Create a sustainable budget to stick to year-round

If anyone else plans to participate in this challenge, let me know! 

Weekly Tidbits
Vernon, being the cutest and angriest pumpkin EVER. 
One of my favorite murals in town, captured during my first bike ride here.
Piglets at Tom's agriculture school! We brought them our leftover pizza :).
Cleaning up my community garden plot for the season - loved this space.
Hope you're all enjoying the fun festivities and beauty of autumn! Until next time, I'll be pinching my pennies and crossing my fingers that my debt will start to deflate.