Saving Money = Enjoying Irresponsibility
February: Eliminated Frivolous Spending
This month, I decided to eliminate any “extra” spending. I calculated the average amount of money I spend per month on groceries, eating out, shopping, lattes, iced sugar cookies from my favorite coffee shop that suddenly closed last week and broke my heart, and other random purchases. I took that number and greatly reduced it to decide how much money I would be allowed to spend each week. That number for me was $75. To some people, this number seems do-able. For others, you might think I’ve lost my mind (it’s possible).
To ensure the $75 cap, I withdrew that amount of cash from my bank account each week. Once the cash ran out, that was it. Again, this only included purchases such as groceries, eating out, shopping, coffee… anything in addition to the necessities (bills, gas). The reason I initially chose this deduction was to cut down on my spending. Christmas shopping put a dent in my wallet and this was an effort to recover.
After studying my credit card statements, I saw that a big percentage of my money was going towards frivolous purchases like picking up food to go from my favorite Japanese restaurant (Ninki on Harding Pike, if you were wondering), or stopping by Walmart to get some new clothes (cause you know I love that Walmart fashion), or even just buying extra food at the grocery store because I didn’t plan out my meals. These are not sexy purchase one would make with extra money. These are thoughtless, wasteful purchases that come from being financially lazy.
After four weeks of a $75/week allowance, I have learned that you spend what you have. If you have more money one month, you spend more money that month. If you have less, you still spend less and honestly don’t notice it quite as much. So moving forward, I plan to maintain a consistent amount of spending money in my account, no matter how my income fluctuates. That’s great, but I also learned something else.
I learned that anytime there’s a restraint, you become more intentional with your actions. You choose not to do something so that you CAN do something else. You give up something so you can get something. This trade-off is actually beautiful, because I began to appreciate these moments of spending so much more. If I chose to get a latte and an iced sugar cookie (which I won’t be able to do anymore because my favorite coffee shop closed…sorry did I say that already?), I watch the money leave my wallet and understand the luxury of a latte and iced sugar cookie. Another benefit of intentional spending – I now have money to spend on a bigger purchase – a “treat yo-self” purchase. And the best part about it is I won’t feel guilty about that purchase because I know what I gave up to get it.
Eliminating frivolous spending = Guilt-free intentional spending
Now, how this relates to responsibility…
Last night, I was sitting around a table with some friends. It started raining, so we opened the outdoor umbrella because going inside just didn’t sound like an option. Someone brought up responsibility and how so many people are pulled down by responsibility and don’t know how to be carefree. When asked how I felt about that statement, I described my month of intentional spending. I explained how positive it had been for me to be able to decide where my money went and to be free of guilt when I “splurged” on something for myself now.
This is also how I feel about responsibility. I’ve learned that I can’t be responsible 24/7 and expect to enjoy the fruits of my labor. If I did, I would be one of those people that works her entire life, saves amazing amounts of money, retires and then suddenly dies without getting a chance to enjoy a dime of it. I have to be intentional about my responsibility or I will be that person.
I work very hard, I keep a clean house, my hair is always fixed and earrings on (that one’s for you, Grandmother), but I have learned, if the opportunity arises to do something “irresponsible” or out of the ordinary, I go for it. I don’t feel bad going for it because I’ve been intentionally responsible, so that I can be intentionally irresponsible. If I get the chance to drive to the beach one night to watch the sunrise, I’m going to do it. It might not be the responsible thing to do, but maybe it’s MY responsibility to live a little. And be intentional about it.
Towards the end of the night with these friends, the wind blew and the outdoor umbrella fell to the side, shattering the glass top of the table. Glass went everywhere. We all paused, and then burst out laughing to the point of tears. Maybe we should have hurriedly cleaned up the glass, gotten upset, and called it a night. Yes, that would have been the responsible thing to do. But we’re responsible most of the time. Last night, we enjoyed being intentionally irresponsible.